Understanding Blinds & Ante’s

by Mario Alfonsi  |  Published on May 23, 2017  |  Updated on May 23, 2017

What are Poker Ante’s

An ante is a nominal fee paid by each player during every single hand of some poker games. If the game is a tournament, the ‘fee’ is paid in tournament chips that have no cash value. Oftentimes ante’s are introduced toward the end of tournaments.The reason that they’re used here is that they force players with small chipstacks to take action. If you only have a few hundred left in tournament chips remaining, and the blinds are $50, you’ve got to make a move fast, or you’ll simply be anted out. Meaning the antes will bleed off all of your chips.

What are Poker Blinds?

During every hand of hold’em poker two people put some money into the pot before they see their cards. These two bets are called the blinds, because they’re blind bets. You make them blind, as in before you see your cards. The reason that the players put these blind bets into the pot without seeing their cards is to encourage some action, or betting, in every hand.You might have pocket aces on your big blind, and therefore have a really great starting hand, or you might well be stuck with the very worst holdem starting hand, 7-2offsuit. This is especially necessary during tournaments, without the blinds, a player could just refuse to play any hand at all until he was one of the last remaining players in the tournament, guaranteeing himself a win with no effort.The blinds also give us a starting place for making bets.

In every poker hand there’s a small blind and a big blind.

The two blind bets are called the small blind at the big blind. The big blind posts the minimum bet amount before they get their cards. The small blind player posts half of that. So to keep this simple, let’s say the minimum bet in a tournament is $200 in chips. The big blind would pay $200 before getting his cards, and the small blind would pay $100. The player on the left of the dealer button pays the small blind; the next player to the left pays the big blind.

Big Blind Advantages

Being in the big blind makes you the last player to act before the flop. So if everyone limps in, meaning they simply choose to call the bet, you could make a large bet here and try to steal the pot. Most people refer to that as ‘protecting your blind’.Even if there’s a raise, and you initially planned to fold, after 4 people call before the bet makes it back to you, it might make mathematical sense to stay in the hand, see the flop, which is referred to as ‘having pot odds’. Then act early with a big bet if you don’t think anyone else made a hand. To make that decision you’ll want to study and get a feel for poker tells and probabilities.

Blinds compared to Ante’s

The size of the ante is usually quite small in comparison to the big blind, in example; the blind bet may be $750, while the ante is only $25.The major difference between antes and blinds is that the antes are paid by every player in the hand while the blinds are paid only by 2 players in the hand.

Paying the blinds in cash poker games

If you’re playing a cash poker game not a poker tournament, the blinds will be set at a specific rate, and stay the same throughout the game. For instance, a very common blind level game is 1/3 no limit poker.Before the flop in a 1/3 no-limit game, the small blind player pays a blind bet of $1 and the big blind player pays $3. After the first three cards are dealt, known as the flop, the minimum bet is $3. After the 4th card is dealt, which is known as the turn card, the minimum bet becomes $6 and stays that way through the rest of the hand.If this were a limit style game, the blinds would work exactly the same way, except that the game would be called a $3/6 game limit game. The small blind would still pay $1, and the big blind $3, with a minimum bet of $3 before and after the flop and $6 on the turn card and the last card, which is called the river card.

Blind Progression in Tournament Poker

If you are playing a poker tournament, the blinds are a VERY big part of the game; they determine the speed and often length of the game. Most tournaments begin with the small blind paying one of the smallest denomination chips there are in the tournament as the small blind, and the big blind paying 2 chips.Most commonly those chips are $25 tournament chips with no real cash value. So you can picture that the blinds are $25/$50. Usually the blinds are raised every 15-45 minutes, this will be determined before the start of the game. If it’s not, you’re not making the best possible game choices. Shorter blind levels force more action, the players have to get involved in more hands, and win more pots to avoid being ‘blinded out’.Longer blind rounds encourage more strategic play and are best for new players and players that wait for strong hands before getting involved.

How high do the blinds go up?

At the start of the tournament or before there should be published information about how often the blinds will be raised and what they’ll be raised to. In fact most casinos will have a big monitor on the wall that will tell you important things like chip denominations, when the blinds go up next, how much money you stand to win if you make the cash, and how much the blinds will be when they go up next.Normally, they double, that’s pretty common. However, it makes for a faster game, so a twist was added. Many games add in an odd blind raise, for instance instead of going from $100/$200 blinds to $200/400 blinds, many tournament directors have added a $150/$300 level. Look for these odd levels in blind schedules especially if you’re playing tight poker and sticking to monster hands, these additional levels lend toward that playing style.If you’re an action player, then you want those blinds going up as often as much as possible squeezing those tight strategists out of the game.