2017 World Series of Poker

Big Blind Ante Tournaments Added to 2018 WSOP Schedule

With the 2018 World Series of Poker less than two months away, the WSOP came out with some news this week regarding the expansive 2018 tournament schedule. After testing it out on the WSOP Circuit and “monitoring venues that have put it into use,” WSOP organizers have decided to add eight Big Blind Ante events to this year’s 78-tournament schedule.

From a press release, the following events, all at different buy-in levels, will feature the Big Blind Ante format:

  • Event #5: $100,000 High Roller No-Limit Hold’em
  • Event #13: $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em
  • Event #20: $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em
  • Event #45: $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em (30-minute levels)
  • Event #54: $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em
  • Event #74: $10,000 6-Handed No-Limit Hold’em
  • Event #77: $50,000 High Roller No-Limit Hold’em
  • Event #78: $1,000,000 Big One for One Drop No-Limit Hold’em

If you’re confused as to what exactly a Big Blind Ante is, don’t worry: I was the first time I heard the term, too. After all, it’s two instances of forced-bet lingo fused into one perverse hybrid. It’s actually pretty simple.

World Series of PokerAt the point in the tournament where antes would normally be introduced, the player in the big blind pays two separate forced bets: the big blind and the big-blind ante. That big-blind ante is an amount equivalent to the big blind. Nobody else at the table antse.

It may sound unfair, making the player in the big blind pay double while nobody else does, but remember that each player will have to do the same thing when it’s their turn and each player only has to do it once per orbit. Also, looking at the tournament structure for some of the WSOP events, it appears that players will end up paying less in antes in the Big Blind Ante events than they will in “regular” events.

For example, in Event #13, the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Big Blind Ante event, the big-blind ante starts at Level 4 and is 150 chips. In an equivalent tournament without the big-blind ante, Event #37, the ante at Level 4 is 25 chips. Assuming the tables are nine-handed for much of the tournament, that would be 225 chips worth of antes per orbit per person at Level 4, 50 percent more than with the big-blind ante. In the late stages of the tournament, when tables are less populated, the big-blind ante will be more of a hit to the stack than regular antes would be, but most of the time, it seems that the big-blind ante is the better deal.

The WSOP’s press release goes into further detail on how it works, particularly if the person in the Big Blind is low on chips:

In variants with an ante, instead of each player posting an ante each hand, the player in the Big Blind will post an amount equal to the Big Blind.

For example, with blinds at 500-1,000, the player in the Big Blind will post 1,000 for his/her Big Blind, followed by 1,000 for the Ante. His/Her total contribution to that pot is 2,000. The Ante (1,000) is dead and is immediately brought into the pot. The Big Blind (the other 1,000) is live and is part of the pre-flop betting.

If a player in the tournament does not have the required amount for both the Big Blind and the Ante, the Big Blind will be paid first, followed by the ante.

No matter how many chips a participant starts with he/she can always win the entire ante. For example: the blinds are 4k/8k and the big blind also antes 8k. A participant who is not in the blinds who starts the hand with only 1k gets involved in a three-way pot against the blinds. If that participant wins, he/she wins 11k (his/her own 1k wager, plus 1k from each opponent, plus the 8k ante). In this scenario, 1 chip can win 11 chips.

Of course, you may be wondering what the point of all of this is. Why change things up? As the WSOP points out, the big-blind ante should clean up some of the commonly messy parts of poker hands. Players won’t have to remember if they posted their ante or who might have forgotten to post their ante. The dealer won’t have to waste time telling multiple people per hand to toss in their ante, nor take the time to collect them all and make sure everything is there. Hands will be sped up and there will be less confusion.

Remember the 2006 World Series of Poker? In a hand at the televised feature table, Prahlad Friedman thought Jeffrey Lisandro had failed to put in his ante. The hand went on, but as more hands were dealt, the two kept chirping at each other, Lisandro getting more and more pissed off that Friedman would even think to accuse him of cheating. Friedman said he didn’t trust Lisandro; it got so heated that the two men had to step aside to speak with the floor manager, at which point it got even worse and Lisandro threated to rip Friedman’s head off.

Later, video footage revealed that Lisandro did, in fact, put in his ante and it was the player in between them, Dustin Holmes, who forgot.

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