When using a blind structure calculator for a home game it is important to remember that time only tells part of the story in regards to the speed of the blind levels. The most relevant factor is the number of hands that each player gets to see at each blind level.
This has to do with the very nature of increasing blind structures. If the blinds never increased the games could theoretically last forever. But with increases in the blinds, players have to continually try to accumulate chips, otherwise the increasing blinds will eventually whittle away their stacks. The faster the blinds increase, the fewer hands a player has to accumulate the chips necessary to stay ahead of the blinds. So the amount of time spent at each blind level is only relevant because time has a direct impact on the number of hands that get dealt.
To illustrate this, let’s look at two rather extreme tournaments. In both tournaments there are nine players, the starting stacks are 200 chips, the starting blind level is 2/4 and the blinds double at each new level. In the first tournament, the blind timer is set to increase the blinds every 30 minutes, while in the second the blinds raise every 10 minutes. However, for some reason, it takes the players at the first table 30 minutes to play a single hand of poker. At the other table, it takes only one minute.
At the first table, the blinds are putting an inordinate amount of pressure on the players. Sure, they only go up every thirty minutes, but by the time a player has seen his or her 5th hand the blinds will have reached 30/60. At that point the player can’t make any moves, all he or she can do is push all-in. Needless to say, this tournament won’t involve a whole lot of skill – whoever gets lucky and gets a big hand in the first few hands is going to win.
At the other table, though, despite the short amount of time at each blind level, the players will each get to see 10 hands before the blinds increase. This is still probably less than average, but it’s much more reasonable than the first game. Rather than having to push all-in within the first five hands, a player will usually get one top 10% hand at each blind level, and so can afford to be a little patient. By the time the blinds reach 32/64 a player will have seen forty hands, which will afford him or her a reasonable amount of time to pick the right spots to play and make moves.
Of course, both of these examples are somewhat extreme (if nothing else, blind levels rarely double with each increase). Nevertheless, they do illustrate that before deciding on a blind structure for a home game it is important to factor in how long each hand takes since it is the number of hands dealt at each blind that really determines the impact of the blind increases.
So, when determining the blind structure for a home game, remember to always consider the speed of play among the players. If you have an inexperienced group then it might be beneficial to have longer blind levels since new players tend to take longer to count chips, make decisions, etc. However, if you have an experienced group and an efficient dealer then you can shorten the blind levels and still get a good amount of play since each hand will take less time.