Explanation of Ante

Antes are generally uncommon in cash games although such ante games do exist. The exception is stud variants of poker which always have a required ante. One reason for this is that there is no dealer button in stud variants, meaning that mandatory SB and BB aren’t taken. Without antes in stud there wouldn’t be much of a pot to fight for on the first betting round (aside from the forced bring-in). Cash games with a dealer Button hence rarely use antes because the SB and BB payments have already built a small pot for the initial betting round. 

Most poker tournaments employ antes, but typically only in the later rounds. The initial blind levels in a tournament hence usually only involve SB and BB payments. The exception again is stud variants since the ante payment is an integral part of the game and must be taken at every blind level.

In fact, when describing the limits of stud games, the ante amount is generally included in that description. For example $1/$2/$0.25 where 25 cents is the ante. An additional may also be included to describe the size of the “bring-in” payment in stud, i.e $1/$2/$0.25/$0.50

Example of Ante used in a sentence -> It was the late stage of a tournament so we had to post both blinds and antes.

How to Use Ante as Part of Your Poker Strategy

Whether in a cash game (such as Hold’em or Omaha) or the later stages of a tournament, the forced payment of antes typically incentivizes looser decisions on the preflop betting rounds. There is simply more money in the pot to be won.

For example imagine a 6-handed table at $0.05/$0.10 online. There will typically be $0.15 in the middle before any player gets to act. If we assume that it’s a game with a 2cent ante, there will be an additional $0.12 in the middle on top of this for a total pot-size of $0.27 before any betting takes place. Seeing as the pot-size is nearly doubled in this instance, it would be a mistake to assume that preflop strategy will remain the same as it was with no forced antes.

Ante in Poker - FAQ

When does the ante increase in poker?

This depends on whether we are playing cash games or tournaments. In cash games, the ante does not change. In tournaments, the ante will typically increase along with the blinds after each tournament level.

How much is the ante in poker?

The size of the ante depends entirely on the local rules of the game. In the majority of cases it will be somewhere around 10% of the size the big-blind. So a $1/$2 No Limit Hold’em cash game might have an ante somewhere around $0.20 cents. In a game like Stud, the ante will usually be around 10% the size of the small bet.

What does it mean to “up the ante”?

While “up the ante” could refer to increasing the size of the ante (perhaps at the end of a tournament level) it is far more commonly used as an figure of speech that means to increase the stake or amount being wagered. For example, during a cash game without antes a player says “let’s up the ante”. This actually has nothing to do with antes whatsoever - the player is instead suggesting they increase the stakes being played for. The expression “up the ante” has gathered widespread application outside of the world of poker also.

Does everyone need to pay the ante?

Everyone at the table needs to pay the ante before any hole cards are dealt. This includes the players in the blinds. For example, the player in the Big Blind position must make his mandatory big blind payment and the required ante.

Do sat-out players pay an ante?

Sat-out tournament players continue to pay the blinds and antes as normal. Sat-out cash game players do not need to pay any blinds and antes until they return to the action.

See Also 

Stud, Bring-in, Small Blind, Big-Blind

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