Blinds in Home Poker Tournaments

♣ A continuation from Texas Hold'em Blinds Explained

Blinds in Tournaments

Now, regarding blinds in home poker tournaments:

Basically, the size of the blinds and the rate at which they go up determines how long your tournament is going to take. If blinds go up quickly, then players will get knocked out quickly and the tournament will end sooner. This also increases the element of luck involved in winning the tournament somewhat, since fewer hands are played overall, and players have to start going "all-in" earlier in the tournament. Overall, this is good if you want to try to play two or three short tourneys in a night, which some people like to do.

On the other hand, if the blinds go up a little more slowly, then there is a bigger advantage for the better players. Also, players won't be forced to go all-in quite so early. So, the tournament is probably more fun and more dramatic, but it takes longer.

There are three things you need to decide and write down on a chart in advance:

1) Number of chips each player gets (we'll assume you aren't doing rebuys/add-ons, which adds some complexity).

2) Size of the big and small blinds at each level, and whether any antes will be collected at certain levels.

3) Length of time spent at each level.

You can see the way that Poker Stars does it for their online tournaments.

You will be able to see that they give 1500 chips to each player, and they let each level last 15 minutes. Some other online tournaments will let each level last only 10 or 5 minutes (5 minute levels is called a "turbo" event, because it gets decided very quickly). You can see the size of the small and big blinds at each level in their chart - to answer your specific question, they start with a small blind of 10 and a big blind of 20. But remember, they are using 1500 chips to start. Since you're starting with a smaller stack, you will probably want to reduce the blinds to 5&10 in the first round, then go up to the levels we see here.

You will also see that when they get to the 7th level, they start collecting antes, as well.

As for whether 15 minutes is the right length, that probably depends on how quickly people are able/willing to play in your tournaments. I think you want there to be at least enough time for about 12 hands at each level, so then the question is how much time that is in minutes for your group. If there is a lot of talking and drinking and whatever, you may want to let the levels last a little longer. (You probably know that things go a little faster if you have 2 decks with different colored backs so you can have a deck shuffled and ready for the next hand). If players are very efficient, 15 minutes may be about right.

- Perfesser Tony, The Texas Turtle

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