How wide can we go with antes?

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Antes widen our range, but by how much? Barry Carter uses ICMIZER to look at the effects of regular, large and no antes.

In the Self Study series Barry Carter reviews his own play in a hand, then gets a coach or solver to review his assumptions. 

Earlier this week Dara O’Kearney wrote about how antes widen ranges and I wanted to explore that further. This is a relatively easy thing to research using a solver like ICMIZER 3 and I felt people would find this interesting if I shared my findings here. 

I went with a very simple example, using ChipEV mode I simulated a situation where the Cutoff shoves when it is folded to them and effective stacks are 1,500. The first blind level is 60/120 with a 15 ante. This was a presaved blind level in ICMIZER and this is what that shoving range should look like:

That ante is 12.5% of the big blind and would mean at a full table would mean 2.62 big blinds are in the starting pot. What would happen if we doubled the ante but kept everything else the same? So a 60/120 level with a 30 ante, which is 25% of the big blind and would mean 3.75 big blinds are in the starting pot. 

Punch that into ICMIZER and this is the new range:


It’s wider. In addition we can play K8o, T9o, 86s, T7s, J7s, Q6s, Q7s, K2s, K3s and K4s which are all on the margins but it is quite a significant overall boost to the range. 

In the article Dara said that no antes at all would be much tighter, so I looked at that next. This is the range for blinds of 60/120 with no ante, meaning just 1.5 big blinds are in the pot:


That is a much tighter range, in fact all the fat has been trimmed off and we are only left with the actual quality hands. Most of this range could in theory win without improving against the likely calling range. 

One more test just for fun. Some MTTs have ‘big ante’ formats and I thought it would be fun to see what would happen if we made the antes stupidly large. This is the range we would need if the level was 60/120 with a 120 ante, meaning a whopping 10.5 big blinds are in the middle. Not unlike the ‘cash drops’ we see in cash games at sites like GGPoker. 


Now the range has got silly, it’s pretty much any hand that is either high and/or coodrinated. If we made the ante any bigger we get to the point where it would be a clear any two shove. 

This is a very simple ‘toy game’ experiment but it illustrates just how wide the antes can make us go. This example only covers preflop shoves, if I were to carry on this study I would experiment with preflop solvers that take into account post flop equity realisation. 

Try ICMIZER 3 for free!

In the article above Barry uses the advanced ICM endgame tool ICMIZER 3 to study his game. 

It is capable of providing fast ICM analysis of almost any SNG/MTT/PKO situation with calculations possible for up to 100 players. 

It also has a robust quiz feature to test your knowledge on particular spots that is really worth the subscription on its own. You can really iron out your ICM leaks quickly without it costing you money at the tables to learn. 

You can get started with one free calculation and 15 free quiz questions per day. 

Try ICMIZER for free!

How do you study hands like this? Let us know in the comments:

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