How to Set Up a Poker Blinds Schedule

The blind structure is a key component of any poker tournament and requires a little thought. There are four main aspects you need determine when how to set up your blinds structure:

  • Length of Each Blind Level
  • Rate of Blind Increase
  • Antes
  • Length and Frequency of Breaks

When making a decision on the above, you primarily need to consider how long you would like your tournament to last as the blind structure will have an impact on the length of the tournament. As a general rule, a fast blind structure will usually result in a shorter tournament, but allows for less strategy and increases the element of luck over skill. A slower blind structure will allow for more play from participants, but will likely increase the length of the tournament overall.

Length of Each Blind Level

Typically, each blind level will last around 20-30 minutes in a home poker tournament, but this can be adjusted depending on the length of time available. A single table tournament might be better suited to shorter levels, while an all-day multi table tournament would perhaps benefit from longer levels.

Rate of Blind Increase

At the start of each new blind level, the blinds should increase in value. It is particularly important to consider how many chips are in play here – if the value of the blinds is too high relative to the number of chips a player has, then there might be very little play and players have to start going all in early – resulting in a short tournament largely determined by the luck of the cards. Conversely, if the blind value is very low, then a tournament could go on for a very long time.

Antes

Adding antes into the blind structure – meaning every player has a forced bet each hand, as well as the small and big blind – can change the dynamic of a poker game quite dramatically. Antes are usually added into later levels to increase the action each hand and speed the game up.

Length and Frequency of Breaks

Any breaks that you add in to your tournament are obviously going to extend the length of the tournament. It is a very good idea to add in some scheduled breaks though – particularly in a long tournament – as it gives all players the chance to have a few moments away from the table. It also will help the tournament run along smoothly as players will be less inclined to leave their seats during play for a visit to the toilet or to grab a drink if they know a break is coming up soon.

10 minutes is a good length for a break, and they should take place every 3 – 5 blind levels – depending on how long the blind levels are and how often you want the players to get a break from your tournament. If you are running an all day tournament, you might want to schedule in at least one extended break of around 30 minutes.

Additional Factors Effecting Tournament Length

There are a few other factors that will affect the length of a tournament, so it is worth taking those into consideration. The size of the starting stack will have an impact - the more chips each play begins with, the longer a tournament will generally last. If you are running a rebuy tournament, this will also make a  The number of players and how experienced they are will likely affect the duration too. More players will likely make a tournament last longer, and if there are a lot of beginner players they will also probably be taking longer than average


We have provided some sample blind structures as a guideline to how to plan yours based on how long you would like the tournament to also. These are only by way as an example as it is impossible to accurately predict the length of a tournament – it ultimately depends on how the play goes at the tables. These samples will provide you a starting point though, and you can always adjust accordingly if your tournament is ending too quickly and going on too long.

Sample Blind Structures

The following structure is suitable for a home game tournament with around 5 or 6 players, with a desired length of around 2 hours.

  • Starting Chips – 1000
  • Level Length – 10 Minutes
Level Small Blind Big Blind Break
1 10 20
2 20 40
3 30 60
4 50 100
5 75 150
6 100 200 5 Minute Break
7 150 300
8 200 400
8 300 600
8 500 1000

The following structure is suitable for a home game tournament with around 9 or 10 players, with a desired length of around 2 hours.

  • Starting Chips – 1500
  • Level Length – 15 Minutes
Level Small Blind Big Blind Break
1 15 30
2 25 50
3 50 100
4 75 150 10 Minute Break
5 100 200
6 150 300
7 250 500
8 400 800

This next structure is suitable for a longer tournament, for anywhere between 9 and 20 players. It would probably last around 3 hours.

  • Starting Chips – 1500
  • Level Length – 15 Minutes
Level Small Blind Big Blind Break
1 10 20
2 15 30
3 25 50
4 50 100 10 Minute Break
5 100 200
6 200 300
7 300 600
8 400 800 10 Minute Break
9 600 1200
10 800 1600
11 1000 2000
12 1500 3000

The final structure would be used if you were running a day long tournament with multi tables.

  • Starting Chips – 2000
  • Level Length – 20 Minutes
Level Small Blind Big Blind Ante Break
1 10 20

2 15 30

3 20 40

4 30 60
10 Minute Break
5 40 80

6 50 100

7 60 120

8 80 160
10 Minute Break
9 100 200

10 150 300 25
11 200 400 50
12 300 600 75 30 Minute Break
13 400 800 100
14 500 1000 150
15 600 1200 200
16 800 1600 250
17 1000 2000 300
18 1500 3000 350
19 2000 4000 400
20 3000 6000 500
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