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Adjusting to the antes

Marcus Bateman RSS / Marcus Bateman / 12 August 2008 / Leave a Comment

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In the later stages of no limit hold'em tournaments there is nearly always an ante introduced.

This is typically a sum that adds up to around the size of the big blind when playing nine handed, although it is sometimes more and sometimes less. The introduction of antes changes the correct strategy considerably in a no limit hold'em tournament. Here I want to look at why this is and what needs to be done to stay afloat with the introduction of antes.

The first point is that in order to accumulate chips you will need to start stealing more. As the ante tends to kick in at the latter stage, where peoples stacks are relatively short (usually between five and thirty big blinds) that most pots will be taken uncontested or will be all in pre flop, and occasionally (usually between two big stacks), on the flop.

This means that you need to start raising more frequently, constantly trying to pick up the now much larger pot than it was before the antes - otherwise the antes constant drain, coupled with the blinds, will eat you up very quickly. One of the best ways to do this is to lower your raise amount, say from 3x the big blind to 2.5x, which in turn allows you to make your raising frequency higher because your saving chips each time you raise.

The introduction of antes also starts bringing in the need to re-raise bluff as well. As most players pick up on the fact that they need to loosen up as the antes come in, so you must start to try and pick off their loose opens and re-bluff them. This play is enormously profitable, as it not only picks up the blinds and antes, but also a typical opening raise, which makes it as about effective as two regular blind steals.

The problem with this is it is extremely risky, as sometimes your opponent will have a big hand, and you will have to back down (if you are not already all in that is). Close observation of your opponents is critical to make this play. DO NOT just suddenly start re-raising a player who has not played a hand for four orbits and is slowly anteing away - just let their obvious tightness knock them out.

Always remember that to win tournaments you will need to gamble a lot harder than in cash games. As the money is so heavily weighted to the top positions you need to focus on nothing but accumulating enough chips to make that final table. Try and use the antes to pick up as many cheap pots as possible and watch your stack grow accordingly.

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