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Blind structure - how the blinds increase

Depending on speed, then...

The speed of the tournament and the required skill on the part of the players is largely determined by the blind structure. A blind structure is a set of rules for governing when the blinds increase and by how much.

In this article you will learn about:

  • What a blind structure consists of.
  • What blinds and antes are.
  • How these affect the tournament pace.

Overviews for printing

For three common tournament variants, we have prepared a printable practical overview in PDF format which takes into account game length and number of players: Overview: Chip distribution and Blindstructure

But back to the topic. Click on the "next" arrow below or on the text to get to the next page which tells you about blind structures.

What are blinds and antes?

The blinds are a fundamental part of a Texas Hold'em game as you probably know. If not: There are two blind bets that two players must pay before receiving their cards. The two players change each round, so that everyone must pay them every few hands. If you want to know more, see the articles on the rules of Texas Hold'em.

In a tournament, the size of these blinds is not fixed like it is in a cash game. They are periodically increased in order to force more action into the game. At the beginning the blinds are small and it is not generally worthwhile to play mediocre cards. Eventually they become very large, forcing you to either act quickly or have your stack consumed by them.

We refer to a particular blind size as a "blind level", but there can also be antes in the game. These are a bets that every player must put in the pot every hand. The blinds, on the other hand, are paid by only two players.

For example, you can have blinds of 1000 and 2000 chips, but every player must pay an additional ante of 100 chips. This sounds small, but when paying this every hand, it adds up.

How much poker do you want in the game?

When considering the blind structure, you must ask yourself: what kind of game do I want? Should it be quick with a lot of fun and action, or should everyone have the chance to show that they can play good poker?

The faster and larger the blind increases, the greater the fun factor. If the blinds quickly become a large portion of your available chips, then you are forced to play even with mediocre hands.

If the blinds are comfortably smaller, then there is more room for strategy and tactics. You can be more selective about which cards you play and you can make more tactical moves over the course of one hand.


The normal case is that each player starts the tournament with 100 big blinds. If the small blind is 5 and the big blind is 10 chips, then each player would start with 1000 chips (10*100=1000). If you double the blinds from now on, from 5/10 to 10/20 to 20/40, then the blinds are sizable, resulting in a swift, but not chaotic game.

If you want more action, you can drop some of the blind level. You could go from 5/10 to 10/20, then instead of 20/40, skip straight to 40/80. Of course, you can add intermediate steps to slow the game, such as 15/30.


Practice has shown that, in general, you should have blind levels of no longer than 45 minutes. Otherwise, you are in for a very long night. Likewise, you shouldn't have them for less than 10 minutes. Optimally, you want them at about 20 minutes, which is not too short or too long.

Depending on how comfortable your seats are and how long you want the night to last, you may decide to insert a break every 1-2 hours.


An often-played typical tournament has the following blind structure:

Blind level
Small Blind Big Blind
1 10 20
2 20 40
3 30 60
4 50 100
5 100
150 300
200 400
400 800
800 1.600


This article has given you the pointers you need for steering your tournament in one direction or the other. If you want fun and action, let the blinds rise quickly. If you want strategic, tactical battles, then slow the blind levels down.

In the overview, you'll find some preset blind structures for 3 different types of tournaments: Overview: Chip distribution and Blindstructure

The third article in this series will show you the various accessories you will need before inviting your friends around for a game of poker: What accessories do you need?


Comments (14)

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