There is another way to do it. About 3 months ago we implemented a system where we put stacks at all seats. If a player isn't there, we put a RESERVE button in front of the stack. When the BB reaches that stack, we remove a SB and BB from the stack and put it out of play. That seat is not dealt cards, so no player gets the advantage of the dealer position automatically. The BB simply goes to the next seat. When a player shows, he draws from one of the stacks and gets that stack and assumes that position. He receives cards the next hand, unless he happens to come when the BB has passed and the SB is behind him, in which case he sits out that hand, then receives cards as the DEALER the next hand. That's one hand in an orbit. No one is disadvantaged by this, and no player has an advantage by that player being missing. Further, it does penalize tardiness.
1. I don't think there is a drastic advantage to those who pick up a absent SB or BB once per orbit.
2. The late player is not punished by this... not anymore than having his blinds posted.
3. The other players at the table are actually punished (or rewarded) by playing on a shorter table. What if you have three late players on the same table?
Consider this: If I'm 2 seats to the right of a late player, every time that player is the BB, assuming no raises in front of me, it makes sense to raise. Even if the SB calls, I might be only against 1 player. I can ALWAYS steal the BB if no one else calls. I as in me -- the same person every time. That's a big advantage, but it's not randomly spread throughout the table. It falls in the same sequence every orbit. And there will be someone 2 places to an absent player's right.
If no one picks up on you raising every time an absent player is the BB, can I get an invite to your game?
I do agree with your point that this advantage is not evenly spread throughout the table.
In theory, its probably better to remove the blinds from play rather than post them, removing all advantage for any one player, but again, the difference is so minimal, it doesn't seem worth the effort. It would be interesting to see how many blinds are actually pulled, tho, to see how much of an advantage there really is.
Just be consistent.
The time it takes to create written rules pays for itself after a short time.