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When someone's sitting out in a poker tournament, poker players have a name for it: “Holy crap, free money!” If you're sitting out of a tournament – anything from a freeroll online to the World Poker Tour – you still have to post blinds and antes, but you'll automatically fold when it's your turn. The most common time to see this is when someone loses their connection in an online tournament. It also happens when someone in a live tournament is away from their seat.
If you're given a penalty in a live tournament for discussing your hand or cursing, you sit out. Phil Hellmuth does it on purpose, not taking his seat in the World Series of Poker until he's paid a few blinds. When someone is sitting out, those blinds and antes are just out there for the taking, and you should do your share of the thieving. When the table is aware that the absent person is absent (as will always be the case live) and it's his or her big blind, the standards for reraising go way down.
*The original raiser knows the big blind is not calling, so he or she could have anything. Thus, if you're in the small blind with an absent big blind, think about coming over the top with less than your normal hand.