The Structure of an Ante

The game of holdem poker game starts with a struggle for the antes. There would be no object to play, if there is no ante. Truly, some player would play anyhow but a good player in such a game would wait for the pure nuts and almost win. A good player will have no object to play anything but big starter hands - three aces say in seven-card stud - having no money in the pot, there would be nothing to look for. To play with something less would be to take a chance to get kicked off by someone else that played only the pure nuts. There would be no game if all the players play all the nuts. Anytime if one person bet then everyone else would fold. Quite sure, there has to be an ante to launch a game.

However, if the ante is tremendously large with respect to the betting limits, the game weakens into the crap shoot. It would be similar to that someone moving by a $5-$10 game and throwing a $100 bill on the table and saying to play for it, boys. Being a big opening pot, you would get at least 21-to-1 odds on the first $5 call, it would benefit to play about any hand right to the end.

Two ends - no ante and high ante, suggest a general attitude of play poker . The higher the ante as compared to future bets, the more hands you should play; the lower the ante, the fewer hands you should play. It can be looked in different way as: The higher the ante, the lower your starting necessities should be, and the lower the ante, the higher you're starting necessities should be. Or in the words of the poker room: The higher the ante the looser you should play; the lower the ante the tighter you should play. I deliberate 5 percent or less of the average future bets a small ante and 15 percent or more of the average future bets a large ante. Average bet is in between. Therefore, in a $1000 - $2000 game, $100 would be an average ante where as in $5 - $10game; 50 cents would be an average ante.

The antes are not the only things that draw up the opening pot. There might be forced bets or blinds - forced bets that take turns around the poker players table from hand to hand. For example in Las Vegas seven-card stud, the low card on board starts a small bet. In $1-$2, $1-$3, $1-$4 stud games the forced bet (50 cents) really substitutes the ante. In razz, the high card starts the action with a small bet. And in hold'em, there is at least one, two or even three blinds. Talking about antes in this chapter, we include any forced bets or blinds.

To remind you all poker starts with a struggle for an ante. This struggle for the antes determines all future action. It is a struggle that raises and builds up but one should not forget that the initial struggle for the antes is the reason that started the war. Players who forget this, no matter how good they play find themselves many times in trouble. Frequently they play too many hands with respect to the size of the ante but play sometimes few.

The best method to estimate the size of the ante is to consider in terms of expectation and pot odds. Suppose you play an eight-handed $10-$20 game and everybody antes $1. That makes an $8 pot. To start with $8, you should play your hand in terms of the odds that you get for each bet with respect to your expectation of winning. If you bet $10, you are placing $10 to win $8. If somebody calls you, he will get $18-to-$10.

The truth that $1 or one-eighth of that ante money was actually yours is of no significance. In reality, it is no more of yours. The minute you place your $1 ante in the pot, it does not belong to you but belongs to the pot and ultimately to the poker winner of the hand. It is a general myth for players to think in terms of money that have been already put in the pot. It makes a bad call for them because they called one or two bets on previous rounds. Thus it is totally immaterial whether you put the money in the pot or someone else did. It is the total amount and none of the part belongs to you any more but it should verify how you play your hand. Often, in home games the dealer antes for everybody. Some of the players play very freely while dealing, thinking that the ante is somehow theirs. But, playing in a different manner just because you anted, rather than someone else, is ridiculous. It is the same amount of money out there, no matter from which it comes.

However, for example, when you have blind in hold' em, you can and should play a little freely, not because you are having blinds but you are to get better pot odds. Giving one example will clear this. Suppose you have $5 blind in hold' em and player behind you raises it to $10. Now everyone will cost $10 to call, but when it returns around to you, it will cost you only $5. If the pot increases to $35 the player calling the $10 would get 3 ½-to-1 but as its only $5 for you, you will get 7-to-1 for your money. Thus you do not need a strong hand to justify a call. You should think your pot odds, and not the $5 that you have in the poker pot odds.