In flop-style poker, the small blind and big blind are forced bets placed before any cards are dealt, ensuring a minimum betting pot. The player to the left of the big blind starts the betting round, and players in the blind positions have the same options as any other player. The dealer role changes after each round, and blind sizes may increase during a tournament.
In draw-style poker games, players regularly contribute a small ante to the common betting pot before play begins. In flop-style poker variations such as Texas Hold’Em, however, no such ante is usually required. Players can also fold hands before placing any type of bet. The solution to this problem lies in the forced bets called the small blind and the big blind. Two players seated to the dealer’s left, or at least the player holding the dealer button, must place predetermined bets before any cards are dealt.
The player immediately to the dealer’s left is required to post a nominal bet called the small blind. This small blind bet may be less than the table minimum for normal play. The second player to the dealer’s left must post a larger bet, known as the big blind. This bet against the big blind is usually double the small blind amount, or at least the table minimum. These bets are called “blinds” because no cards have been dealt at the time they are placed.
After the small blind and big blind bets have been placed, the player to the left of the big blind begins the actual betting round. He or she can fold, raise the bet or check the original bet. Play continues around the table and players in the small and big blind position have the same options as any other player. The purpose of the small and big blind is to ensure a minimum betting pot, not to force some players to overplay their hand.
Since the role of the dealer changes after each round, one player may have to post a small blind bet and a big blind bet back-to-back, but then he becomes the dealer and two other players become forced. Some variations of flop-style poker games only require one blind bet, while others can have up to three. If a player decides to join a game that is already in progress, they may be required to post a bet equivalent to the big blind during that round. During the tournament, the small and big blind sizes may increase incrementally as players are eliminated and the stakes generally get higher.