My Thoughts on the Big Blind Ante Tournament Trend


I’m not much of a tournament poker player anymore, although I do play the occasional daily tournament at Aria and some other casinos. But I have competed in two big blind ante tournaments (both the $140 buy-in 7:00 daily at Aria), and my opinion of this new concept changed after having given it a try.

Over the past couple of years, many of the high roller tournaments have incorporated a big blind-only ante system. For those who don’t aren’t familiar with this concept, how it works is the only player who puts in an ante is the big blind. The amount of the ante is usually the value of the big blind fee, but some levels it’s slightly lower.

The purpose of the new format which has found its way into tournaments all around the world in recent months is to speed up the action. We all know how frustrating it can be when some player who is paying more attention to their phone instead of the game fails to put in an ante. That holds up the game.

The downside to a big blind ante tournament is when you’re short-stacked in the big blind and essentially have to put in twice as many chips pre-flop as you would in a regular tournament. For that reason, before I played this type of tournament, I thought the concept was lame.

But then I played Aria’s new tournament a couple months ago and my opinion changed. Although you pay more when in the big blind, you don’t have to put chips in the pot on the other hands. It gives you an opportunity late in a tournament to see six or seven hands in a row for free. Plus, I saw more hands each level because the dealer didn’t have to hold up the action every couple of hands to wait for a slacker to put in their ante.

The 2018 WSOP, for the first time, will incorporate a big blind-only ante system in eight of the 78 gold bracelet events, including the $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop. I’m excited to see the feedback from the players following these events.

Author: Jon Sofen