What are ‘Blinds’?
A blind is a forced bet made at the start of each hand in poker. The number of blinds varies from none to three, although two is usually the most common number. These are usually the ‘small blind’, posted by the player sat to the left of the dealer, and the ‘big blind’, or the player sat to the left of the small blind. The big blind will usually be the value of the smallest possible bet, with the small blind half of that value. ‘Big blind’ and ‘small blind’ can refer to the bet itself, the position on the table and the players sat in those positions.
Blinds, much like antes, encourage looser play in poker since they introduce a cost to be sat at the table. The higher the blinds relative to the stacks that players have, the more viable loose play will become. Larger blinds mean that tight players will bleed chips every time they do not play hands, encouraging them to bet to attempt to regain the money, making for more exciting and interesting play. The size of blinds relative to stacks is an important consideration for players at a table when deciding on which style of play they wish to adopt.
In tournament play, the blinds are usually raised as the tournament progresses – the size of the blinds and the speed at which they raise will generally determine how long the tournament lasts. In cash games, blinds are usually used as an alternative to antes, which provide much the same purpose. However, in tournament play, it can be common to see both, especially in later stages.
If there are only two players at the table, both players will post blinds. As in a normal game, the positions will rotate with each hand.