What is the correct process in moving the blinds when either the next dealer and/or the next blinds get busted out of the tourney? A good description of how dead blinds work would be greatly appreciated.

2 Answers 2


Dead button - Spots vacated by leaving players who would pay the small blind or get the button during the next hand remain open for the purposes of shifting blinds and button. Thus, the small blind may not be paid in the subsequent hand if the player due to pay the small blind has vacated the spot and, therefore, is considered "dead". However, there is always a big blind even if the spot is vacated by the player who is due to pay the big blind; in such case, the player seated to the left of the vacated spot pays the big blind. When the dealer button moves to an empty seat, it also is considered "dead", and the last active player before the empty seat retains the "privilege of last action" by default. While simple in tournament formats and the most equitable in terms of paying blinds as due and when normally expected, it can result in inequitable strategic situations regarding last action, and becomes harder to track if the table is "open" (players can come and go) as in a casino.

  • What sort of inequitable strategic situations regarding last action do you have in mind? Is it because if there's no small blind, then if the button opens, the big blind has less pot odds to call? EDIT: I see Chris Marasti-Georg's answer explains the situation when the would-be button busts. Commented Nov 25, 2022 at 21:28

The Traveling Button is one method of dealing with the button or small blind getting up before the next hand. It is occasionally used in cash games.

When the person who would become the button busts out, the button skips them to the person who was the big blind the last hand. That person becomes last to act for the hand, but posts a small blind anyways. The person to their left posts a big blind, as does the person to that person's left. So you have the big blind position paying a big blind, the small blind position paying a big blind, and the button position paying a small blind. The following hand, the button moves as usual. The new button position pays a small blind, the person to their left pays a small blind, and the person to that person's left pays a big blind. After that, normal blinds resume.

An illustration:

Original setup:

P1 on button
P2 in small blind
P3 in big blind
P5 UTG+1
P6 UTG+2

P2 posts a small blind, P3 posts a big blind. In this hand, P2 busts out.

Next hand:

P1 Cut-off
P3 Button

P3 posts a small blind, P4 posts a big blind, P5 posts a big blind. P3 has now posted both blinds.

next hand:

P1 Hi-jack
P3 Cut-off
P4 Button

P4 posts a small blind, as does P5. P6 posts a big blind. P4 has now posted both blinds, and P5 and P6 have resumed normal blind procedures.

When the person that will be the small blind busts out, the button stays where it was, and the 2 people to the button's left each pay big blinds. On the next hand, those 2 players each pay a small blind, and the person to their left pays a big blind. This results in a standard small and big blind, plus the button paying a small blind. On the next hand, normal blinds resume.

One added benefit to this method over the dead button method is that when the person who was going to be the button busts out, the button from the previous hand doesn't get to act last on a second consecutive hand.

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