Answer: Thanks for the questions Bob! In Texas Holdem there are usually two blinds, the big blind and the small blind. The big blind is usually the same amount as the little bet. So for example in a $2/4 game the blinds would be $2 for the big blind and $1 for the small blind. There are varying blind structures but the most common in casino limit holdem is a two blinds like I just mentioned.
The second most common blind structure is three blinds: one big and small like normal, then an additional small on the dealer button. You won't see this very often though. The position of the blinds are as follows. The small blind is to the immediate left of the dealer button and then the big blind is after that. Preflop the person after the big blind has to make a move (this position is called being "under the gun" because it is the worst position). Then people play in turn around the table until the big blind (who acts last).
The reason for the blinds is to force people to play. If no one had to put in any money before seeing their cards, the game would be much different. There would be nothing preventing people from just waiting for pocket aces all day. The blinds or "forced bets" means there is going to be "action". Action is game play or betting.
Don't let the blinds keep you from playing at the game at a casino. Dealers constantly remind people to put in their blinds (even if they have been playing for years). So if you don't know the blind structure then it shouldn't be an issue or be embarrassing. You'll be in the majority for people having to be reminded to put their money in when it is their turn.
Here are a few examples of what you do when your blinds come around:
$2/4 Holdem - you are in the big blind: Put in $2 and then wait till everyone else has played and it is your turn. If no one has raised then since you already have put your money in, you can just check (or raise if you have a good hand). If someone did raise then you would just have to put in another $2 since you are already in for two.
$2/4 Holdem - you are in the small blind: Before the cards are dealt, you'll need to put in your blind money just like you did in the big blind. Only this time you'll only have to put in $1. You'll wait for your turn and then if you like your cards and no one has raised, you'll only have to put in another $1 to call. If someone did raise one time to make the bet $4, then you'll only have to put in $3 since you are in for one already.
I'll write an article this week to talk about how to play out of the blinds well in low limit holdem. It's kind of a touchy subject because on one hand you get great odds to call with just about any hand but then that usually gets you in trouble if you don't know how to play it after the flop.
Question: Where does the small blind and big blinds sit in relation to the button? Do they sit next to each other? I don't understand your phrase "later rounds when the bet is more". Do the betting limits increase as the game progresses? Are there any rules or guidelines for leaving the game (say at Vegas or a riverboat casino) or can you get up and leave whenever you want regardless of whether you are ahead or behind?
Answer: The small blind is to the left of the dealer button (clockwise). Then the big blind is after the small blind (clockwise again). So it is dealer button, small blind, then big blind. Yes you are correct in that most structured limit texas holdem games the bet increases as the hand progresses. Using the $2/4 limit example that would mean that preflop (when you get your cards) and on the flop, the bet is $2.
That means you can raise in $2 increments and bet in $2 increments. Then on the turn card and river card it changes to $4 increments. That means if I bet on the turn card and you raise you would put in $8. Remember this is only true for limit holdem though and not no limit where you can bet any amount you like. Another form of poker is pot limit where the maximum you can bet at any time is the amount in the pot. To answer the last question about if you are free to get up and leave whenever you like, yes you definitely are.
If you sit down and win one big pot your first hand, you are free to pick up your chips and call it a day. That's usually not polite to do and it is called "hit and run" but it isn't against any rules. Often times I have sat down in a game for an hour or less only to find out it really sucks so I have left. Nothing is wrong with that. I would suggest doing the same thing if you don't like how the game is turning out -- for example if there are too many good players or you just don't feel comfortable.
There is one situation though where you can't leave for too long and that is if you still want to play at the table. Most casinos allow you to miss two big blinds but on the third missed blind they pick up your chips and let someone else sit down in your seat. You get your chips back of course but you lose your place at the table and have to wait again. That usually equals to about 30 minutes or so, which is enough time for most people to take care of whatever needs to be done.