Explained: Big Blind vs Button Antes

If you are new to the game you may not understand the Big Blind vs Button Ante debate, or even why we have antes, so here is a primer.

We have a lot of new players at PokerStrategy.com and we have to therefore remember that a lot of the conversations that experienced players take for granted will sometimes go over their head. So when stories in the poker world come up that only make sense to experienced poker players, I am going to spell out what we are talking about for the newbies.

If you have been following poker for the last year you’ll have no doubt heard about live events and whether they should have a Big Blind Ante or a Button Ante. Go back further a couple of years and we had neither, but they have quickly become the norm almost everywhere. So if you are new to poker, you have joined us at a time where we are deciding between the best two alternatives to what we used to do, which was everyone at the table posted an ante every hand.

Before we go onto the current debate, what are antes? We use antes in most poker tournaments (and some cash games) and they are small chip amounts everyone has to put in the pot every hand. You have to post a Big Blind once a round, and a Small Blind once a round, but everyone posts an ante which is a fraction of the size (around a 10th) every hand.

The reason we do this is to speed up the game, for the same reason that the size of the blinds increase in tournaments. When you post an ante every hand your stack dwindles away, so you have to make a move sooner to stay afloat. Also, the antes make the pots bigger and therefore worth fighting for.

Speeding up the game

poker chips
Managing all the chips is time consuming for the dealer

In online poker the antes are taken automatically and not relevant for today’s article. The reason why we are arguing about Big Blind Antes vs Button Antes is because of the problem antes have caused in live poker. Previously everyone had to post their ante every hand. While the presence of antes in general made the game quicker, the actual admin of managing the antes could have been much faster.

The dealer had to collect the antes first, which was one task in itself. They also had to remind every player to post theirs every hand (and somebody would always forget). Finally, in every hand if a player did not have the correct chip denomination, they needed to ‘get change’ from another player (so somebody with only a 1,000 chip would swap it for 10 x 100 chips from another player). All of which slowed up the game, every hand.  

The innovation of the ‘Single Ante’ solved this problem. Now, as well as posting your Big Blind once a round, and Small Blind once a round, one player posts all the antes for the table once a round, either as the Big Blind or Button. Unlike your Big or Small Blind, those antes are not yours, they represent an ante each for everyone at the table, it was just your turn to take one for the team. This is why if you are all-in and only have enough for the antes, there is a separate debate about how much you should win if you have the best hand.

Big Blind vs Button

poker chips
Less chips to manage, more hands per hour

There is literally no debate about whether everyone posting their antes is the better option, every major tour and card room have switched to single ante because it is so much easier and quicker than the old method. The only question is whether Big Blind Ante is better than Button Ante? Some people argue Button Ante is more forgiving because otherwise you have to post a Big Blind and a Big Blind Ante at the same time (which is costly), however the best argument for Big Blind Ante is that it’s even quicker for the dealer who only has to collect two forced bets per hand rather than three (there is also the issue of a dead button, which is a topic for another article).

If you are knew to poker then the chances are you will seamlessly use the new single ante system like it’s the norm anyway, its so much easier and faster. But know that this solved a really annoying problem of dealers having to remind players to post their antes and getting change for the players who didn’t have any small chips every single hand.

And Big Blind Ante is way better than Button Ante, in my opinion.

What other poker concepts do you hear everyone talk about but you have no idea what they mean? Let us know in the comments:


Share this page

Comments (5)

newest first
  • partane


    I might be alone, but I would actually stick with traditional model where everyone posts an ante. Specially when you are shortstacked at the tourney having 7 - 8 ante free positions is not really good for the game for various reasons. It will result for more shortstacks stalling the game and tighter preflop strategy on ante free positions. Big blind ante is the most horrible solution... If someone needs to do it should be one of the MP, EP positions (depending how many players in the table).
  • ghaleon


    Agree with above. Doesnt matter much with deeper stacks but will have big impact with short stacks.
  • OldSchoolPapa


    200% Agree. Big Blind ante is non sens in my opinion. And i like games to be fair so if there is antes, they should be posted by everyone at the table or just no ante at all. They always try to innovate in some stupid ways pfff
  • Renmerb


    Don’t see why the haven’t considered an UTG ante. Just like a straddle in a cash game which serves much of the same purpose by juicing the pot and encouraging action. Obviously Wouldn’t work exactly the same as the antes wouldn’t equal 1 bb, so UTG would still have to be first to act preflop.
  • k0kki3


    Yes, but BB ante is by far the simplest. And I dont believe it affects optimal ranges much at all no matter who posts it.