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Ante Up Tourneys

A new type of online poker tournament has been gaining some popularity lately. "Ante up" tournaments maintain a fixed blind-level throughout the entire tournament while only increasing the antes, which start from the very first level. For example, level one might be 5/5 blinds with a 10 ante. Level two would be 5/5 blinds with a 20 ante. Level three, 5/5 blinds with a 30 ante, and so on.

This new format of tournament requires some significant strategy adjustments than a regular no-limit hold'em tournament. As such, the games tend to be quite soft right now, which is a welcome relief to regular poker players who have grown tired of the typical no-limit action only getting tougher and tougher.

In regular no-limit tournaments, limping is generally considered an ill-advised, weak move. In Ante Up tournaments, it is correct to limp virtually every hand. Since it costs next to nothing to limp in, a limp is basically just a check. You've already committed so much to the pot in the form of your ante that you should basically never fold if you have the option to limp for the minimum. If you limp with garbage and someone raises, that's fine. You can fold and really not be out much at all. As long as you have even the tiniest chance of winning the pot after you limp in, a limp can be justified.

In a regular no-limit tournament, one must typically commit the size of the pot, or often substantially more in order to have a chance at stealing the pot preflop. In Ante Up tournaments, a steal can sometimes be successful even after investing as little as 1/4th the size of the pot with a raise.

Suppose the blinds are 5/5 with an ante of 50. On a nine player table, that creates a pot of 460 before the flop. If it folds to you in late position, it is advisable to make a raise with any two cards. If you raise to 115, you only need to win the pot 20% of the time in order for that to be a profitable raise! As you can see, Ante Up tournaments not only price you in to limping every hand preflop, they also price you in to raising a lot preflop in hopes of stealing the blinds.

Many players have yet to catch on to these above-two concepts, so there's a lot of equity to be gained by coming at them with relentless aggression until everyone realizes that Ante Up tournaments are nothing like regular hold'em tournaments.

Post Flop Skills Crucial
Since you are limping a lot, raising a lot, and calling a lot of raises from savvy players that know they should be raising with a very wide range, post-flop hand-reading skills become crucially important. While regular no-limit tournaments are predominantly a pre-flop game, Ante Up tournaments are more of a post-flop game.

If post-flop poker is not your strong suit, consider reading some of our no-limit cash game strategy articles to acquaint yourself with some valuable concepts regarding how to play deep-stacked, post-flop hold'em.

An important tip to remember regarding post-flop play in Ante Up tournaments is 'to the aggressor go the spoils'. If you limp into a pot with 3-4 players, don't be afraid to make a small bet to try to win the pot outright. Remember, a 1/3rd pot sized bet only needs to work 1/4th of the time in order to be profitable. So even if you miss the flop, consider taking a stab at the pot in hopes that your opponents fold.

When to Shove
In regular no-limit tournaments, most players are acquainted with the idea that once their stack becomes short, they should look to move all-in preflop. This is a skill that should be applied in the Ante Up tournaments as well. So, when do you know when it's a good time to start moving all-in preflop?

I recommend dividing your stack size by the size of the pot after blinds and antes are posted. Dan Harrington refers to this number as your "M" in his books Harrington on Hold'em. When your "M" starts to dip below 5, you should start to consider moving all-in preflop with your stronger hands. Of course, you don't need quite as strong of a hand to move all-in when there are fewer players left to act in the hand. In this way, Ante Up tournaments are no different than regular no-limit tournaments.

Yet another way to determine whether or not to move all-in preflop is to envision the money in the pot as the small and big blind. For instance, suppose there is 3,600 in the pot after blinds and antes are posted. You can basically pretend that there is a small blind of 1,200 and a big blind of 2,400 so when it folds to you, just ask yourself, "would I shove this stack with this hand if the blinds were $1,200/$2,400 right now?"

Next Article: Moving Up or Down Limits

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