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POKER TOURNAMENT BLIND STRUCTURES


Sample Tournament Structures

 


HPE has created some sample poker tournament blind structures for playing home poker tournaments of variable lengths. Keep in mind that these tournament lengths are estimates. There are numerous factors that can affect the length of a tournament (detailed later on this page). Never the less, these samples provide a good starting point.

As you play more tournaments and gain more experience you can make adjustments that suit your particular situation. If you find that the tournament you select is playing longer or shorter than you wish, you could reduce or increase the amount of starting chips, skip or add a level(s) or increase or decrease the length of levels.

Our sample tournament blind structures are based upon an initial starting stack of 1000. But, they can be adjusted and used for any chip values you want to use. If you want to play at values comparable to the WPT or WSOP, start with 10,000 or 100,000 chips and multiply the blinds by 10 and 100, respectively. (For the 2017 WSOP $10,000 No Limit Hold Em Main Event each player will start with 50,000 in chips. Starting blinds will be 75-150.)


2 Hour Poker Tournament

 


Blind Structure for 2 Hour Tournament
1000 Starting Chips
15 Minutes per Level

LevelSmall BlindBig Blind
11020
21530
32550
450100
5100200
6200400
7300600
8400800
95001000
106001200



To complete within the time alloted it is recommended to play this tournament as a "freeze-out" (no rebuy/add-on) with a maximum of 10 players.


2-3 Hour Poker Tournament

 

Blind Structure for 2-3 Hour Tournament
1000 Starting Chips
20 Minutes per Level

LevelSmall BlindBig Blind
11020
21530
32550
450100
5100200
6150300
7200400
8300600
9400800
106001200
118001600
1210002000



3-4 Hour Poker Tournament

 

Blind Structure for 3-4 Hour Tournament
1000 Starting Chips
20 Minutes per Level

LevelSmall BlindBig Blind
11020
21530
32550
450100
575150
6100200
7150300
8200400
9300600
10400800
115001000
126001200
138001600
1410002000



5-6 Hour Poker Tournament

 

Blind Structure for 5-6 Hour Tournament
1000 Starting Chips
30 minutes per Level

LevelSmall BlindBig Blind
11020
21530
32550
450100
575150
6100200
7150300
8200400
9300600
10400800
115001000
126001200
138001600
1410002000
1515003000



Starting Chip Distribution

 

When using one of the above sample structures, here are a couple of options for valuing and distributing 1000 starting chips:



Value Usual Color*Quantity per PlayerQuantity per Player (Option 2)
5Red510
25Green710
100Black87


* The colors you choose are dependant on how many chips of each color you have, so you may need to use different color designations to make sure you have sufficient chips. This is especially true if you have re-buys or add-ons as you will typically want to provide them in higher valued chips. At the end of this page is additional information on chip colors and values.


Factors Affecting Poker Tournament Length

 

There are a number of factors that determine how long a poker tournament will last. Some are fairly easy to predict, while it is more difficult to determine or quantify the impact of others. The most important factors in determining how long a tournament will last are identified below. These factors need to be considered in combination with one another.

The ratio of starting chips to starting big blind. The higher this ratio, the longer a tournament is likely to take. The lower the ratio, the shorter the tournament. In a home poker tournament of a few hours a ratio of 50:1 to 100:1 is the most reasonable. For example, if starting with 1000 chips, a first big blind of 20 would be a 50:1 ratio or a first big blind of 10 would be a 100:1 ratio.

How steeply the blinds increase. If the blinds increase at a steep rate, the tournament will be shorter. If they increase at a slower rate, the tournament will be lengthened. As a rule of thumb, the blinds from one level to the next should never be more than doubled.

The length of the levels. The longer each level lasts, the longer it will take to play a tournament. With shuffling, dealing and other delays, live poker tournaments consume significantly more time per hand than on-line tournaments. The absolute minimum time a level should last in a home poker tournament is 15 minutes.

There are other factors that may have limited or variable affects on tournament length:

Limit vs. No limit. In a limit tournament it will usually take longer for players to begin to get knocked out. Overall, as a factor by itself, there will be little or no difference in the length of a limit tournament compared to a no limit tournament.

Re-buys or add-ons. You should certainly expect that a tournament will last longer if re-buys or add-ons are allowed, but, it is difficult to predict how much longer. The exact affect on length will be determined by how many players make a re-buy or add-on, and you can not predict that accurately prior to the start of the tournament.

The cut off time to re-buy/add-on, The longer the time you allow for re-buys or add-ons, the longer the tournament will last. Roughly estimate that the length of time allowed for re-buys/add-ons will add a similar amount of time to the tournament. For home tournaments it is suggested to make the cut-off period no longer than the end of the 2nd or 3rd level.

The number of players. Usually, the more players in a tournament, the longer it will last. More players certainly makes the tournament more complicated, especially if playing more than 1 table. In addition to longer playing time, figure on extra time to get things going, to oversee and coordinate, for breaks, coloring up chips and for re-drawing and organizing the final table.

Playing styles. A preponderance of tight players will lengthen a tournament. Having more aggressive players is likely to shorten it. On the other hand, tight players may be less inclined to make re-buys, while aggressive players may be more likely.

New or inexperienced players. Generally, new or inexperienced players will take longer to make decisions and take their actions. If so, it will result in fewer hands being played at each level and should tend to lengthen the tournament.


Additional Considerations When Hosting a Home Poker Tournament

 

Do not forget to build in time for periodic breaks, for example, one 5-10 minute break every hour. Use break times to color up and remove small denomination chips when they are no longer needed.

Before organizing a lengthy tournament give serious consideration to things like these:
Accounting for breaks, your tournament is going to last an hour or more beyond the actual playing time.
People are going to get thirsty and hungry. Do you want to provide them with drinks and food?
The more players and the longer the tournament, the bigger the mess you will have to clean up.
If you get eliminated early in the tournament, do you really want to wait for several hours for it to finish and your guests to leave?


Tournament Poker Chip Colors & Denominations

 

The chip colors most frequently purchased for home poker games are white, red, blue, green and black. While there are no official chip color and value standards, here are some commonly observed values.



Chip Color Low DenominationHigh Denomination
White11000 or 10,000
Yellow22000
Red55000
Blue10 or 50500 or 50,000
Green2525,000
Black100100,000
Purple5005000 or 50,000



 

Click here to view an expanded list of common chip values and colors as well as the chip colors and values used in the World Series of Poker.