The Bay Area 3-blind structure for no-limit

So far this year I’ve been playing almost entirely no-limit hold’em almost entirely at Lucky Chances Casino, near San Francisco. This area of the country lays claim to lots of things that have never existed anywhere else, such as The Golden Gate Bridge, Jerry Garcia, and the triple blind structure in their no-limit poker games.
I intend to write blog posts about no-limit hands I’ve played or watched, so in this post I am going to describe the blind structure for future reference.

The Bay Area’s Three-Blind Structure

The three-blind structure has a small blind and a big blind, posted by the two players left of the button, just like every other hold’em game. And it has an additional small blind that is posted by the player on the button. The minimum opening bet is the sum of the blinds.

(This means there are no free plays from the big blind.)

Here are the four main no-limit blind structures you’ll find today in the Bay Area:

$1-1-2, minimum opening bet is $4

$2-3-5, minimum opening bet is $10

$5-5-10, minimum opening bet is $20

$10-10-20, minimum opening bet is $40

The Kill

Any player can put out a “kill” before the cards are dealt. The amount of the kill is double the big blind.

When a pot is killed, the minimum opening bet doubles. For example, in a $1-1-2 game, the kill amount is $4, and if a pot is killed, the minimum opening bet is $8.

The player who posted the kill is last to act before the flop, meaning the action skips over him and comes back to him. It used to be that kills were allowed from all seats at all casinos. Now there are some casinos that do not allow the button to post a kill.

Some casinos allow two kills.

For example, in a $2-3-5 blinds game, one player could post a $10 kill, and another player could post a $20 kill.

When that happens, the minimum opening bet is $40, and before the flop, the $10 kill is next to last to act, and the $20 kill is last to act, no matter what their actual seats are.

Let’s say the game in nine-handed, and there is one kill out, posted by the player in the cutoff seat.

The player under-the-gun opens for the minimum, and the next player raises. The next three players fold. The action now skips over the cutoff, and the button is next to act. Let’s say the button folds, the small blind fold, and the big blind calls.

Now it’s the cutoff’s turn, and after that, the action goes back to the original order of things for the second round of preflop action, which means the action does not go to the player left of the cutoff, which would be the big blind, but rather, it goes to the opener. Yes it’s a little bit complicated.

But then, so was Jerry.

How and Why?

How did it get this way, and why has it stayed this way?

I don’t know how the three-blind structure came to be. But I do know when. A really long time ago.

Long before California legalized hold’em in 1987. I do know why it has survived the last 20 years.

I’ll write that up down the road.


  • Kien Hua Posted May 26, 2008 2:03 pm

    I have noticed the 3-blind structure at California Grand Casino in Pacheco, CA. Being from Southern CA I was surprised to see it. When I am playing Poker live, it is usually at the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens, CA. The 3-blind structure certainly amps the action level. At low stakes it is insane. The luck factor increases dramatically. There is definitely a lot of all-ins. What is the best counter-attack with a number of big blinds in your disposal? I play super tight pre-flop, unless I have a monster hand, and crazy aggressive post-flop.

  • Mike Posted May 28, 2008 1:20 pm

    Awesome to see the blog finally up and running…Congrats and Good Luck! I’m looking forward to more articles on this subject and many others.

    I’m curious as to how this structure changes your hand selection on the button. Have you found that you need to exercise more control on the button due to already having money in the pot which might make you want to play hands you normally wouldn’t?

  • tommy Posted May 28, 2008 11:08 pm


    “I’m curious as to how this structure changes your hand selection on the button.”

    It’s extremely rare, if ever, that my decision to fold or not on the button is affected by having posted a small blind on the button. (Reminder: If the blinds are, say, $1-1-2, with a $1 blind on the button, it will always cost at least $3 to see the flop from the button.)

    “Have you found that you need to exercise more control on the button due to already having money in the pot which might make you want to play hands you normally wouldn’t?”

    When I play a hand on the button, I’m not playing the hand because of the cards alone. I’m playing a combination of the cards and the button. For example, I would almost never play 74o under the gun in a full game, but there are plenty of situations when I might decide to not fold my button, when I happen to have 74o. It could very well be that I need to “exercise more control on the button.” Or maybe I need to exercise less. I rarely know what’s best, in the nebulous land of buttonville. That’s why I try not to think about it too much, and just let it flow.


  • Mike Posted May 29, 2008 5:17 pm

    That’s actually along the lines of what I was thinking. Given the positional advantage in betting and being able to see everyone act before you. My range on the button is fairly wide-open, as well. I was just wondering if the required bet made a bigger difference than what I thought. Thanks

  • Dagan Posted March 15, 2009 2:29 am

    Every time i come here I am not dissapointed, nice post

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  • Casino Archives Posted August 9, 2017 2:32 am

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