Blind is a term you’ll hear a lot when talking about poker. If you’re confused about what blinds are or how they work then look no further. Below we’ll outline what the blinds are, how they work and how to calculate the number of big blinds in a tournament.

What Are Blinds?

Essentially, blinds are bets that players have to make in order to join the game. These bets are made before the cards are dealt by the players in the big and small blind positions at the table. It’s important to note that these blinds are mandatory. The small blind is placed by the player to the left of the dealer button and the big blind is then posted by the next player to the left. In poker, the positions rotate clockwise throughout the table for the continuation of the game. This means that every player should eventually play the big and small blind positions and pay the mandatory bet.

Big Blind & Small Blind

As mentioned above, the big and small blind is how much these specific players must bet before the game begins. Typically, the big blind is double the amount of the small blind but this isn’t a hard rule. Following the blinds are antes. These are different from the blinds in that they’re paid by every player at the table while the blinds only apply to the big blind and small blind.

How Much Are The Blinds?

There is, in fact, no set amount to be paid for the blinds. This depends entirely on the operator of the game but there is a general structure that most follow. More often than not, the big blind doubles that of the small blind but technically, they could be the same amount if the operator chooses to structure them that way. This is quite common in brick and mortar casinos.

Calculating Big Blinds

Your stack size in big blinds is calculated by dividing your tournament stack by the current big blind amount. For example, with €1000 in your stack, you would have a 10 big blind stack if the blinds were $50/$100 on the current level. Keeping track of stack size in big blinds is important for tournament players since it has a large bearing on what the optimum strategy looks like. When setting up a tournament and deciding what your big blind should be you should consider the following guidelines. Take the starting chip amount of each player and divide by 50. This is your starting big blind. You want to ensure your big blind for the final round is also equal to each player’s starting chip amount. Then, while keeping the first stages of blinds low, you can arrange the middle stages of the blinds so they steadily increase.

Poker Tournaments

We’ve spoken a lot about poker tournaments in our How Do Poker Tournaments Work post so, be sure to check it out here [hyperlink to tournaments blog] if you’re not entirely familiar with them. Ultimately, the setup and structure of blinds in tournaments are similar to cash games but not entirely the same. One core contrast is that, before a tournament, it’s agreed that the blinds will increase after set intervals of time. As a result, the players are pushed into continually attempting to increase their stack size in order to have a more advantageous position in the tournament. If players fail to accomplish this they’ll not only not be in a strong position to play but they could “blind-out” meaning they don’t have enough chips to cover the increasing blinds. 

Do Blinds Go Up In Cash Games?

As mentioned, blinds are set to increase during tournaments however, this is different in cash games. Here, the blinds typically remain static. Whether you’re playing poker in real life or an online landscape, you would usually need to move tables to play with a different blind amount. That said, given the informality of home games, there’s nothing to suggest that, if every player wishes to, you couldn’t change the blind amount mid-game. 


In a heads-up game, where we’re down to just two players at the table, the rules around blinds vary slightly. This means that the rules around who acts first can get a bit confusing and funnily enough, this is the time that most rule violations occur. In a heads up poker game, the dealer (or the button) posts the small blind and the other player posts the big blind. However, here’s where the main difference occurs. The button acts first pre-flop whereas the big blind acts first on the flop, turn, and river. In theory, should the playing order of the blinds be reversed and the other player posted the big blind, the rules for order of play would be violated. What’s more, if the dealer was the big blind and decided to fold, they would be folding the big blind to the small blind; another violation of the basic rules. The heads up rules remain the same for both cash games and tournaments. The only core difference here would be that, in tournaments, antes are usually paid on top of the blinds.

Don’t Be Blind

The blinds can be confusing at first but there are great benefits to getting comfortable with them. Don’t be blind to the importance of this aspect of poker - we couldn’t resist the pun. Without blinds, players may not have that much-needed push to get into the teeth of the game. Then, God forbid, poker might easily become boring. If you practice your poker skills and take a turn as big and small blind you can download the free Pokerist app today!