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What is the Big Blind?

The Big Blind is a mandatory bet in poker, setting the stakes for the game. It's placed by the player two seats left of the dealer, dictating the minimum amount for others to join the action. Understanding its strategic importance can transform your poker play. How does the Big Blind shape the dynamics of the game? Let's find out together.
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

In draw-style poker games, players routinely contribute a small ante to the communal betting pot before play begins. In flop-style poker variations such as Texas Hold'Em, however, there is usually no such ante required. Players are also allowed to fold their hands before placing any kind of bet. The solution to this problem lies in forced bets called the small blind and the big blind. Two players sitting to the left of the dealer, or at least the player holding the dealer button, must place pre-determined bets before any cards are dealt.

The player to the dealer's immediate left is required to place a nominal bet called a small blind. This small blind bet may be less than the table minimum for regular play. The player second from the dealer's left must place a larger bet, known as the big blind. This big blind bet is generally double the amount of the small blind, or at least the table minimum. These bets are called "blind" because at the time they are placed no cards have been dealt.

A big blind is seen is several types of poker to force players to make bets.
A big blind is seen is several types of poker to force players to make bets.

After the small blind and big blind bets have been placed, the player to the left of the big blind begins the actual round of betting. He or she can fold, raise the bet, or check the original bet. Play continues around the table, and the players in the small blind and big blind position have the same options as any other player. The purpose of the small and big blind is to guarantee a minimal betting pot, not to force certain players into overplaying their hand.

Since the role of dealer shifts after every round, a player may have to place a small blind and a big blind bet consecutively, but then he or she becomes the dealer and two other players become obligated. Some variations of flop-style poker games only require one blind bet, while others may have as many as three. If a player decides to join a game already in progress, he or she may be required to place a bet equivalent to the big blind during that round. During tournament play, the amount of the small and big blind may increase incrementally as players are eliminated and the stakes in general become higher.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular Sports&Hobbies contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

Learn more...
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular Sports&Hobbies contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

Learn more...

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    • A big blind is seen is several types of poker to force players to make bets.
      By: Kiko Jimenez
      A big blind is seen is several types of poker to force players to make bets.