Antes changes the gameplay significantly since everyone pays. This article helps increase your chances of winning when the antes are active.

Poker tournaments get intense as chip stacks pile up and the player count gets smaller. Adding to the tension are antes, which can make or ruin anyone's chances of taking home the pot.

Below is a detailed discussion on antes in poker to prepare you for this, helping you make money through online poker cash games with the forced bet in play.

Poker antes

Poker Ante Explained

Antes are required or forced bets implemented in poker games.

When this is in play, everyone needs to pay it before a round starts. The amount is usually a small percentage of the blinds, or around 10%. If the blinds are 250/500, the antes would cost 50 chips.

Antes are not common in cash games or sit & go formats for anyone concerned about this rule. However, certain poker rooms host either format with the addition of an antes rule. Antes are also used in stud variants such as seven-card studs.

The most common use of antes among US poker rooms is in multi-table tournaments (MTT), a poker tournament format that involves numerous players competing at more than one table. Antes are implemented within the middle of an MTT or when there is only half the number of players.

Why would poker games have ante bets? Hand commitment. Every player not playing the blinds can let go of any hands that are not within their favoured range. Naturally, tight players often let go of numerous hands in each round. Even loose players will not give an action as often as possible until they have pairs or suited connectors.

How would every player react if everyone needed to pitch in for each round? There will be a sense of urgency around the table if people are bleeding chips each game. Note that in a tournament, players can only stay in the game as long as they still have chips. Tight and loose players are forced to treat every hand with the utmost regard since they cannot afford to fold most of them. Loose passive players will think twice before calling your raise.

Hand commitment forced through antes means there will be more action for succeeding rounds. Unless a player has deep stacks, they must play a hand before their chips are gone.

Blinds vs. Ante

Blinds in poker are the same as ante since they are forced bets, which is the only similarity between them. The former is forced upon two players to the button's immediate left. Two of these players are within the small blinds (SB) and big blinds (BB) positions. Those within the SB must pay half the blinds while the BB covers the whole amount.

Note that players in the SB and BB positions must cover both the blinds and ante, despite both being already forced bets. This circumstance makes the blinds positions more perilous that players are pressured to play their hands, making them susceptible to bluff raises.

Poker antes basics
Antes Strategies Infographic

Poker Strategies With Antes

You can get the advantage over other players when the antes kick in or are in play. Here are strategies that can boost your chances of making money when playing at MTT rooms.

Poker Blinds and Antes

While the antes are active, covering two forced bets is the primary concern among BBs and SB. In their minds, so much of their chips are on the line that they must defend their hands. The first step to playing the blinds like a pro is to remove the notion you are paying more during the antes.

Remember that players need to pay each round, no matter what poker position they are in. Therefore, nothing has changed in your situation in the BB and SB. The only thing that changed when the ante came up was the pot amount.

If you use a poker strategy that works well throughout the first part of an MTT, continue with that strategy.

Knowing how to defend the blinds will help you stay alive throughout the tournament and find numerous opportunities to profit from misplayed hands. Defending strategies include playing with strong-suited hands or connectors, or both. Note that we did not mention using top pairs to defend the blinds. Suited connectors are major pre-flop hands to play since these can fully realize their equity post-flop than rocket or king pairs. Flush and straight draws tend to win more numerous games than trips.

Note that we are talking about solid holes, which should range from aces to tens. While suited connectors of 9 to 7 can win the pot with two pairs or straight draws, they are vulnerable to top pairs. Do not hesitate to fold as many hands as possible while the antes are up. Remember that everyone is chipping in, and only two people cover the blinds.

Poker Positions and Antes

Playing out of position should never be considered, even when the antes are active. Raising while under the gun can leave you vulnerable post-flop since you are going in blind without knowing what others are holding. Let us say you hit a good range of 88 UTG and raised $20. Flop comes in with a board of KQ4. You make a c-bet of $30, and the turn is a 5. With a dry board and a threat of top pairs or even a flush, your poker odds of winning are slim.

Everyone is building the pot with the antes. You are taking the risk of an opponent boosting their stacks in each round. If the blinds are 500/1000/100 and there are six players, you are looking at a pot with a minimum of 2100.

Players should loosen their range when the antes are active within their respective positions to take the chip lead. For example, the early positions range usually includes aces with face cards, top-suited connectors, and top pairs. With the antes, this tight range should include suited aces, suited connectors, and off-suit face card connectors. Playing 20% hands can get you better equity with the antes than just 10% while in the early position.

Middle positions playing 16% range with suited aces, limited pocket pairs, suited connectors, and a few off-suit broad ways should slightly open up to 28%. Ante's middle position ranges should include suited kings, more off-suit broadways, more suited connected, and suited gapped holes.

Be wary of UTG or early position players over betting or C-betting post-flop. Chances are high they have a suitable range to steal the blinds and flop a good hand.

Poker Stack and Antes

Antes usually kick in during the middle of the MTT, which leaves you in either of the three stack types. The most difficult of these three is to be on a short stack, which happens if you have not been playing pre-ante or got hit with a bad beat.

Being in a short stack or around 5BB is about finding the proper shove range. Suited aces, kings, queens, suited connectors, and most pairs have incredible value while you are in a short stack. Top pockets can get you through a dry board when going all in. Note that these are ideal scenarios, and you have a limited number of hands to get this range. Off-suit kings and queens and suited gapped holes should also have the same value as the above-mentioned premium hands while in the short stack.

When you have a deep stack, take this time to know the type of players you are up against. Note the TAGs and LAGs around the table. Knowing how a player behaves up against value bets can help you get through the tournament's bubble.


What are antes in poker?

Antes is a forced bet that needs to be covered by every player before the cards are drawn. Antes are usually done during MTT games. However, cash games have antes active, forcing all participants to chip in.

Do the antes increase during a poker tournament?

Like the blinds, antes increase after the button passes through each player around the table in US and UK online poker sites. The increase of the antes is tied to the number of blinds or is 10% of the blinds. If the blinds were 100/200/20, the increase would look like 150/300/30.

Do you need to pay for the antes if you are in the BB or SB position?

Unfortunately, for two players in the BB and SB, they will also need to cover the antes and the blinds. They will go all-in if they fall short of covering both forced bets.

Should I play out of position while the antes are active?

Even when the antes are not active, no one should play out of position since you do not have any information on the strength of other players' hands. This move is one of the common mistakes made in poker. One of the few reasons to raise while under the gun is to create an aggressive image of yourself.  

What happens if you do not have enough to cover the entire ante?

Players who cannot pay the entire ante will go all-in for that round. This situation is the same for players who cannot pay the blinds.

Antes is a forced bet that creates a tense situation where all players cannot just fold every hand that comes their way. A good range under specific situations can increase your chances of taking home a massive MTT pot.