Why do you play a game of poker? To win and get some money, right? If you don’t have any money in the pot, will you continue to play even if you have not got a very strong hand? The chances are pretty less. In fact, that’s the case with most poker players – unless there is something to gain, they won’t be willing to take a chance. This would make the game pretty boring as players would play only when they get really good hands, and things will become pretty obvious taking away the uncertainty element. But, is poker played this way? Not at all. And this is where forced bets in the form of blinds in poker play a big role.
A blind in poker is an amount of money which certain players are forced to put into the pot before the actual round of betting begins. In general, there are two blinds (small and big), but there can be zero blinds as well as three blinds. Once the cards are dealt by the dealer, the player seated immediately left to the dealer (having the poker button or dealer button) has to place the ‘small blind’. The player who is seated immediately next to the small blind player on the table has to place the big blind.
These types of blinds exist in poker to bring in some cost for players to take part in the game. In order to compensate for these costs, the players get tempted to enter into pots and try and recover. This behaviour of the players makes poker games more competitive and interesting, especially in case of popular poker games like Texas Hold’em and Omaha Poker, where no ‘antes’ (fixed set amount contributed by every player) are involved. Such games permit you to fold your hands even without placing a bet. The introduction of poker blinds gives an initial boost to the pot used for your poker game.
How does the betting work after blinds are placed?
In the first betting round, the first betting opportunity is provided to the player who is seated left of the big blind, as the blinds placed by the initial two players to the left of the dealer are considered as their bets (even though they are forced bets). In the next betting round, the first betting opportunity will be provided to the first active player who is seated to the left of the dealer. He can fold his cards, or call (by matching the amount for the big blind’s bet) or raise (by increasing the bet above the big bet). There are various poker blind rules that come into play as you happen to play different poker game variants.
Small Blind in Poker
What will be the small blind bet for the first time before the betting round begins?
For a Limit game, the small blind bet will be equal to half of the minimum bet, which is the lower one of the two limits. So, for a limit game of $4/$8, the small blind bet will be $2.
For a No-limit game of $4/$8, the small blind bet will be $4.
What if there is no raise on the table till the chance of the player who made the small blind bet?
In such a case, this player can make the small blind equivalent to the full bet of that round, and thereby complete his blind. Alternatively, this player can decide to fold up (forfeit his cards). In fact, this player may decide to raise and by finishing the complete blind as well as add another full bet for that round.
What if there is a raise on the table before the chance of the player who placed the small blind bet?
For such a scenario, the player has to finish his blind equivalent to the full amount of the raise in order to continue in that hand.
Big Blind in Poker
What will be the big blind bet for the first time before the betting round begins?
For a Limit game in big blind poker, the bet will be equal to double of the small blind bet. So, for a limit game of $4/$8, the big blind bet will be $4.
For a No-limit game of $4/$8 in big blind poker, the bet will be $8.
What if there is no raise on the table till the chance of the player who made the big blind bet?
It is obvious that the last player to complete the first round is the player who placed the big blind. In such a scenario where there is no raise before his turn, this player can check (as there is no raised bet prior to that player for that round) or opt to raise the bet himself.
What if there is a raise on the table before the chance of the player who placed the big blind bet?
For this case, the player need not check, but instead can call the raise (finishing his initial bet equivalent to the complete amount of the raise) or fold up or even opt for re-raise.
The big blind player has an advantage if every other player on the table folds their cards, including the player who had placed the small blind. For such a situation, the player will get back his blind bet along with the blind bet of the small blind player.
Poker Blind Rules for Cash Games and Tournaments
Poker Blinds in Cash Games
As discussed earlier, the blinds help to increase the size of the pot in case of cash games. The amount for the blind bets are usually fixed for every table and are not allowed to change during the duration of the poker game. But, you can mutually decide and agree with all the players on the table before the game – in case you wish to have varied amounts of blind bets.
To participate in poker cash games at the table, you need give a minimum amount of money known as buy-in. The maximum and minimum buy-in is determined in terms of the big bet generally. For example, the maximum buy-in is between 100 to 250 big blinds and minimum buy-in is between 20 to 50 big blinds, for live games. Of course, there are exceptions.
There may be cases of players missing their blinds in cash games. This is possible with players who opt to sit out (in case of online games on platforms like Spartan Poker) or who are not present at the table at the beginning of the hand. So, if you happen to miss the bet, cards will not be dealt to you till the poker button has passed. For such a situation, if you wish to join the table, you must be ready to post big blind and small blind. Is it getting confusing for you on how will you tackle two blinds in the same hand?
Well, this will be considered LIVE in this case, while the small blind will be considered dead. This dead small blind will not be counted for ‘call’ of any additional bets or ‘raise’ by other players on the table.
This same rule is applied if you happen to miss the small blind. For such a case, you only have to post the dead small blind bet in order to re-join the game on the table.
There are many cardrooms that will not allow such provisions to skip blinds, be absent from the table, and come back to rejoin. They will simply consider your stack and cards will be dealt to you. If you do not return back to the table till your turn is due, your cards will be automatically folded. In cases where you are due to place a blind bet, chips from your stack will be used for the same.
Poker Blinds in Tournaments
While one of the purpose of poker blinds in tournaments is the same as that for cash games (to increase the pot size and encourage players to continue playing the hand and not fold quickly), there is an additional purpose of blinds for poker tournaments. This purpose is to put a limit on the duration for which the tournament may last. This is achieved by deciding a blinds structure prior to the start of gameplay with agreement from all players.
The blinds structure will define the duration for each round and also the amount by which blinds shall increase in every round. Generally, this rise in blinds is about 25% to 50% for a round, in comparison to the previous round. Thus, with the increase in blinds, you will have to increase your chip stacks if you intend to stay in the game. So, it will make you to play aggressively to win, else you will lose all your chips to blinds. Players with small chips stack will find it relatively difficult to stay in the game. So, it is advisable to play aggressively at the start in tournaments where blinds structure is implemented.
In tournaments, you are mostly not allowed to miss blinds (go absent from the table). Cards will continue to be dealt to you and blinds (or antes) will be taken from your chips stack when they are due.
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