Blinds and Antes Structures

Before any poker tournament is started, it should be clear to all players how the blind and ante progression is structured. Typically in a smaller home game you'll want a structure that isn't too drawn out, otherwise your last two heads up players will keep everybody else waiting too long for the second game (or to go home). We have a page on the basics of blinds and antes if you need a refresher. For a 10 player game with a starting chip count of 2,000 per player, the following schedule should last two to two and a half hours if the blind levels are set at 25 minutes.

Small Tournaments (PDF)


Level Blinds (Little/Big) Notes
1 10/25  
2 25/50  
3 50/100  
4 100/200 Chip up $5 chips at start of level
5 200/400  
6 400/800  
7 800/1600 Keep doubling blinds for further levels

Medium Sized Tournaments (PDF)

In medium sized tournaments of fifty to three hundred players, or tournaments with larger buyins where you would like a serious game, you'll want to adjust the blind levels to progress more slowly. Additionally, you'll want to add antes into the blind schedule to soften the blow to chip stacks from the blinds. Also, you could increase the amount of time between levels if time allows. Another thing you can do to help focus on skill is to have players start with a chip stack that is deeper than smaller games. The purpose of these adjustments is to focus on the skill of the game, rather than having to get lucky when the blinds suddenly get so monstrous that everybody has to start pushing all-in. If you ran the structure below with forty minute blind levels, two hundred players, and $5,000 starting chips, the tournament should last less than nine hours, plus the dinner break.

Level Blinds (Little/Big) Ante
1 25/50 -
2 50/100 -
3 100/200 -
4 200/400 -
5 300/600 50
6 500/1,000 100
Dinner Break. Chip up $25 chips.
7 800/1,600 200
8 1,000/2,000 400
9 2,000/4,000 500
Chip up $100 Chips.
10 3,000/6,000 1,000
11 5,000/10,000 1,000
12 8,000/16,000 1,500
13 10,000/20,000 3,000
14 20,000/40,000 4,000
15 30,000/60,000 5,000
16 50,000/100,000 10,000

Larger Tournaments (PDF)

For truely large tournaments with many hundreds or possibly even thousands of players, you'll probably need more than one day of competition. Below is a schedule of the 2007 World Series of Poker's blind schedule. You can use this as a guide for your more serious tournaments. In these larger tournaments, starting chip stacks are very deep. Players should have an enormous amount of chips compared to the starting blinds and antes.

Level Blinds (Little/Big) Ante
1 $50/$100 -
2 $100/$200 -
3 $200/$400 -
4 $200/$400 $50
5 $300/$600 $75
Chip up $25 chips.
6 $400/$800 $100
End Of Day 1
7 $500/$1,000 $100
8 $600/$1,200 $200
9 $800/$1,600 $200
10 $1,000/$2,000 $300
11 $1,200/$2,400 $300
12 $1,500/$3,000 $400
Dinner Break. Chip up $100 chips.
13 $2,000/$4,000 $500
14 $2,500/$5,000 $500
Chip up $500 chips.
15 $3,000/$6,000 $1,000
16 $4,000/$8,000 $1,000
17 $5,000/$10,000 $1,000
18 $6,000/$12,000 $2,000
19 $8,000/$16,000 $2,000
20 $10,000/$20,000 $3,000
21 $12,000/$24,000 $3,000
22 $15,000/$30,000 $4,000
Chip up $1,000 chips.
23 $20,000/$40,000 $5,000
24 $25,000/$50,000 $5,000
25 $30,000/$60,000 $10,000
26 $40,000/$80,000 $10,000
27 $50,000/$100,000 $10,000
28 $60,000/$120,000 $15,000
29 $80,000/$160,000 $20,000
30 $100,000/$200,000 $30,000
31 $120,000/$240,000 $30,000
32 $150,000/$300,000 $40,000
33 $200,000/$400,000 $50,000
34 $250,000/$500,000 $50,000
35 $300,000/$600,000 $75,000
36 $400,000/$800,000 $100,000
37 $500,000/$1,000,000 $150,000
38 $600,000/$1,200,000 $200,000
39 $800,000/$1,600,000 $200,000
40 $1,000,000/$2,000,000 $300,000
41 $1,200,000/$2,400,000 $300,000
42 $1,500,000/$3,000,000 $400,000
43 $2,000,000/$4,000,000 $500,000
44 $2,500,000/$5,000,000 $500,000
45 $3,000,000/$6,000,000 $1,000,000

Adjusting For Your Game

Normally, your limiting factor will be time. For shorter games, a blind progression that simply keeps on doubling each level will speed things up. For a longer game, spread it out like the structures shown above. Once you have a blind progression picked out, you can determine approximately when it should end with some simple math. First figure out how many chips are in play by multiplying the number of players by the starting chip stack. In the structure above for medium sized tournaments, this would be 200x5,000=1,000,000. Tournaments generally don't last long when all blinds added up are 1/20 of the total chips in play. Now for the above tournament, we can see that blinds and antes for a heads up match at level 14 are $68,000 in a full round. So, we take the total chips in play ($1,000,000) divided by the current blinds ($68,000) and get about 14.7. This means that by the time the blinds reach level 14, the tournament should be ending very soon, if it hasn't already. It's theoretically possible that the game could reach level 16, but since the blinds would be a quarter of each players chip stack every hand heads up, this is incredibly unlikely.

While adjusting, be sure to keep an eye starting chip stack size, blind level time, starting chip stack depth, suspected ending level, number of players, total chips in play, and of course total length of time needed. With these few variables at hand you can tweak your structure to suit your needs. We've provided a blank PDF chart if you'd like to pencil in your own structure. As usual, if you need any further help, check out our forum for helpful advice.

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