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LARGE ANTES

The size of the ante in a particular games determines how you play. The larger the ante in comparison to later bets, the more hands you should play. Since there's more money in the pot, you're obviously getting better odds, but there are other reasons for playing more loosely. Should you wait to get an extremely good hand in a high ante games, you'll have lost more than the size of the pot in antes by the time you win a pot. Furthermore, the pots you do win will be comparatively small because the other players, if they are decent players, will notice you are playing very tight and won't give you much action when you do play a hand. In fact, when you do get action, you're very likely to be beat.

As the antes go up, your opponents reduce their playing requirements, and unless you want to be eaten up by the antes, you too must reduce your playing requirements. These lower requirements continue to the next round of betting and progress right on to the end of the hand. In a large-ante games you might bet for value marginal hands you would throw away in a small-ante games. The principle holds true especially in head-up situations. In a large-ante seven stud games you might see two good players betting and calling right up to the last card, and then at the end one of them bets a pair of 7s for value and gets called by his opponent with a pair of Ss. As it happens, though, larger antes tend to make multi-way pots more numerous since more players are getting good pot odds to draw to a big hand. With many players in the pot, drawing hands (like four-flushes and open-end straights) go up in value, while mediocre pairs like those 7s and 5s go down in value.

Another reason for loosening up when the ante is comparatively high is that if you are playing too tight, it becomes correct for other players to try to steal the ante from you without any kind of a hand. you've been in games where some players played too tight for the ante. When they were the only players in the pot, you knew you could try to steal the antes, no matter what you had. Let's say it costs me $7 to raise the pot in order to try to steal $10 in antes. That is, you put in $7, hoping the remaining players will fold. you figure you will get away with the play approximately 60 percent of the time. Since you need to be successful only about 41 percent of the time to show a profit, you can try to steal with anything. The point is you cannot play too tightly for the antes unless you want to give up this edge to your opponents. To the contrary, as the ante increases, you yourself should try to steal more antes, especially if you are up against tight players.

If it makes sense to try to win antes right away when they are large, it makes abundant sense not to slow play a good hand.' The reason is that if you don't raise with a good hand on the first round, you are giving an opponent with a mediocre hand the chance to come in cheaply and possibly draw out on you. With a large ante, he is not making a mistake on the basis of the Fundamental Theorem of Poker because he is getting good odds. In other words, if a player is getting 8-to-1 odds or 10-to-1 odds on that first round, it is worth it for him to come in and hope to catch a perfect card on the next round - even when he is pretty sure you are slow playing a big hand. However, when you raise, you wreck the odds he is getting, and he has to throw away his mediocre hand. With almost any good hand, it is not worth letting opponents in cheaply when the ante gets up there. You are satisfied with winning only the antes. On the other hand, when the ante is low, it becomes more reasonable to slow play big hands in order to suck worse hands in; you want to get more value for your big hands.
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