It’s that time of year where we’ll continue to cover all things poker and how to “up the ante” (which you’ll soon get the meaning of). We’ll go through a few terms, explain the differences between antes and blinds, and unlock a few rules and strategies to put your ante to the test in real-life games. So, let’s get straight into it with...
What does ante mean in poker?
Simply put? An ante in a game of poker is the stake put up by a player before they receive their cards. This “forced bet” is made by all players at the table and is a mandatory requirement for the game to commence. The fundamental purpose of the poker ante is to ensure that there is a constant pot/prize on the table that grows from round to round. It acts as a means to incentivize players to continue with their hands rather than folding and keeps the game in circulation. Players who tend to fold regularly will lose money in increments from hand to hand and the only way to get back the initial ante put down would be to win the pot and walk away with every other player’s ante in turn.
Ante vs blinds. What’s the difference?
Whereas an ante is a mandatory bet that needs to be made by every player at the table for the game to commence, a blind is only applicable to the 2 players who are playing directly after the dealer has issued the cards in the first round of the game. These are known as the small blind and big blind respectively.
The small blind is placed by the player to the left of the dealer and the big blind is then placed by the next player to the left. These blinds and positions rotate from round to round according to the gameplay and the issuing of the cards. Once the player responsible for the big blind has placed his bet, the rest of the table will follow, where players will call or raise the blind bet to stay in the game, otherwise they fold.
A poker game will either use the ante or the blind but not both of them at that same time. Antes are usually reserved for casual poker games played amongst friends, whereas the blind is a standard procedure of most casino tables and high-stakes tournaments around the world. Blinds also tend to bring less to the pot than an ante does which in turn makes the competition a little stiffer when it comes to raising. Players who place the small blind and big blind are also more incentivized to stay in the game, as they will need to win their blinds back and avoid folding to lose the initial stake completely.
In poker games like 7-Stud, antes tend to be used more frequently to build the initial pot whereas blinds aren’t as common, however, with game variants like Texas Hold ‘em, the ante is used to speed up the action and keep players on their feet.
The Big Blind Ante
Speaking of small blinds and big blinds, a recent development has been hitting top poker tournaments and is steadily making its way through to various casinos. Known as the “big blind ante,” this rule sees the player in the big blind position paying the ante for everyone at the table. As the big blind moves from player to player, so does the responsibility to pay the ante. This rule is usually reserved for high roller tables and major international poker tournaments such as the World Series of Poker (WSOP)
“Up the ante” definition
Carrying over from what we discussed above, to “up the ante” is the decision to increase the initial amount that each player is putting into the hand at the beginning of the game. To up the ante means to raise the stakes, and although this term has become widely adopted in a number of different ways, it was originally coined and conceived in poker circles.
Poker Ante Rules
There are no specific ante bet rules or strategies to the staking of antes at a poker table. Your ante is simply an initial buy-in to the overall game and will not be mentioned or come into play again until the game has reached its conclusion. If you are playing a game of poker, where the rules require you to stake this initial ante, then you’ll need to do it in order to continue. Antes will vary from casino to casino, whereby a high stakes game will carry higher antes (such as in VIP rooms or scheduled tournaments) and certain antes will be lower on other tables. It will sometimes be the case that blinds and antes will be used simultaneously in a given game of poker, but this is rare and it would usually be one or the other.
So, now you know all you need to start to up the ante and lay claim to your pot at the poker table. All the best in your poker journey.