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THE ANTE STRUCTURE

The best way to evaluate the size of the ante is to think about it in terms of pot odds and expectation. Let's say you sit down in an eight-handed $10-$20 games, and everybody antes $1. That creates an $8 pot. Starting with that $8, you should play your hand in terms of the odds you're getting for each bet in relation to your expectation of winning. If you bet $10, you are laying $10 to win $8. If someone calls you, he is getting $18-to-$10.

The fact that $1 or one-eighth of that ante money was originally yours is of no consequence. In truth, it is no longer yours. The moment you place your $1 ante in the pot, it belongs to the pot, not to you, and eventually to the winner of the hand. It is a common fallacy for players to think in terms of the money they have already put in the pot. They make a bad call because they called one or two bets on earlier rounds. However, it is absolutely irrelevant whether you put the money in there or someone else did. It is the total amount, no part of which belongs to you any longer, that should determine how you play your hand. In home games the dealer often antes for everybody. Some players play much more loosely when they are dealing, thinking that the ante is somehow theirs. But to play differently just because you anted, rather than someone else, is absurd. It is the same amount of money out there, no matter from whose stack of chips it came.

On the other hand, when you have the blind in hold 'em, for example, you can and should play a little looser, not because that blind is yours, but because you're getting better pot odds. A single example should make this clear. Let's say you have the $5 blind in hold 'em, and someone behind you raises it to $10. It now costs everyone else $10 to call, but when it comes back around to you, it costs you only $5. If the pot grows to $35, someone calling the $10 would be getting 3'/z-to-1, but since it's only $5 to you, you're getting 7-to-1 for your money. So you don't need quite so strong a hand to justify a call. You are considering your present pot odds, not the $5 you already have in the pot.

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