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All poker games require some forced bets in order to create an initial stake for the players to contest. The requirements for forced bets, and the betting limits of the game are collectively called the game's betting structure.

The " big blind " is equal to the minimum bet, and is twice as much as the "small blind". The small blind is posted by the player to the left of the dealer button while the big blind is posted by the player to the left of the person sitting in the small blind. After the cards are dealt, the player to the left of the big blind is the first to act during the first betting round.

Smaller tournaments (less than 8 or 10 players) could finish much sooner than anticipated. Mid-size tourneys (10 - 20 players) should follow the above formulas. Larger tournaments (more than 30 players) are a completely different story ... it is best to use one of the Boxwoods schedules and expect your tournament to last 5 to 6 hours.

The starting big blind (the first hand dealt) should be approximately 1/50 to 1/25 of the initial buying. For example, if the buying is 1000 chips, the first big blind should be anywhere from 20 to 40 chips. Another way to express this is to say that there should be anywhere from a 50:1 to 25:1 ratio of starting chips to the first big blind. You can make this ratio as high as 100:1 but if your starting blinds are too low - your tourney might take a very long time to complete or you might be forced to increase your blinds too quickly towards the end.

After determining what the starting and finishing poker blinds should be, simply plug in all the levels in between . You want the blinds to gradually increase from your starting blind to your anticipated finishing blind, then continue past for a couple more levels just to be on the safe side. Each big blind should be about twice as large as the previous big blind. It can be less, but should not be more. The small blind is usually one-half (10/20), or two-thirds (10/15), of the big blind.

Remember that you might be coloring-up your chips throughout the night .Keep your blinds amounts relative to the chip denominations that will still be in play at that particular time. For example, take a look at the blinds schedule above ... what would happen if you changed the 800-1600 level to a 750-1500 level? It doesn't seem to be a problem until you realize that the Green (25) chips might have been removed from the table two hours ago. How can you possibly bet 750 if you have no chips less than your Black (100) chips?

You should probably keep the blinds on the low side for the beginning levels of a home tourney. Many players will have little experience and it is best to start them off slowly but ... do not turn your tourney into a crapshoot ! You do not want hours of low, meaningless blinds and then have the blinds increase very drastically towards the end of the tourney. Ensure that you have a gradual progression of the blinds. You want the most skillful player to win, not the player who received the luckiest cards on the last five hands!

Most poker tournaments use 15, 20, 30, 45 or 60 minute blinds levels . Ten or twelve minute levels may be fine for online tournaments but are much too fast for a home game where the play is much slower. Blinds levels of 20, 30, or 45 minutes seem best for a home tournament. Sixty minute levels seem a bit too long and drawn out.

It may be necessary to adjust your poker blinds schedule during the tournament. If you are six hours into your seven hour tourney and no player has busted out yet (and the wife will be home in two hours!) you will have to drastically increase your blinds to force an end to the game. Try to avoid waiting until the final blinds levels before making any necessary adjustments. It is much better to start making slight adjustments during the middle/late levels than to make huge adjustments during the final levels. On the other hand, don't be too quick to make any adjustments at all. Altering your posted blinds schedule should only be done in extreme circumstances. Many players (especially those remaining towards the end of the game) would prefer to play an extra 2 or 3 hours than make any adjustments.

It is easy to guarantee a definite end time for your tourney. If you absolutely must be out of your rented hall by midnight , simply announce on your tourney flyer, and post on the walls in plain view, that "This tournament will end at 11:45pm . If there is more than one player remaining in the tournament at that time; any hands presently in play will be completed and the purse will then be awarded according to the chip count.". Make sure you also include how you will handle ties.

I do not use antes as I find that the blinds come around the table quick enough to force the play of hands. You might consider adding antes if you play with many players at each table, especially if those players tend to play slowly. You might also consider antes towards the end of your tourney to speed things up.

Rebuys will play a role in the length of your tourney. The longer the length of the rebuy period - the longer the length of your tourney. Add-ons (buying additional chips during the tourney) will greatly increase the length of time it takes to end your tourney. Allowing rebuys and add-ons will also have the effect of loosening up the play in your game. Players will play riskier if they know that they can reach into their pocket to buy more chips after they bust out.

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