Matt Savage Is Right: The Big Blind Ante Is Here To Stay

Martin Derbyshire August 22, 2018 2266 Reads
Big Blind Ante

The problem with the big blind ante is…

Issues arising from implementing the big blind ante in tournaments include…

These are sentences the top brass in the poker industry are having some real difficulty finishing these days.

It would seem the only problem with the big blind ante is there are no problems, leaving little for a debate-hungry poker community to argue over.

In fact, the big blind ante concept is working so well, it prompted World Poker Tour Executive Tour Director and Tournament Directors Association Founder Matt Savage to declare in a blog post last week that it’s here to stay.

An ARIA High Roller first

As Savage said, the concept was first introduced in high-roller events at ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is a single-payer ante concept, whereby, when the antes begin in a tournament, the player in the big blind pays a single amount for the entire table, every single hand.

The efficiencies are clear. Dealers don’t have to spend time chasing down antes from every player. Plus, the floor doesn’t have to be called over and take the time to determine who hasn’t anted up. Therefore, more hands are dealt per hour.

According to Savage, from a tournament staff perspective, the big blind ante is faster and downright better. However, it’s also great for players too. In fact, more hand per hour means a better opportunity to take advantage of the deepest part of any tournament structure.

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Dealing with the short stacks

If there is one, the argument against the big blind ante surrounds how to best deal with short stacks at the table. The debate rages on as to whether a short stack without enough to do both should pay the big blind or the big blind ante first.

However, as Savage says, it turns out the situation comes up so rarely it’s hardly worth throwing the big blind ante baby out with the bath water.

Plus, most of the other complaints surrounding the format seem to surround problems that existed with a traditional individual ante format as well.

There’s no doubt it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Plus, people are generally resistant to change, whether its good for them or not. However, the big blind ante is almost universally accepted. Mostly because everyone can see it’s changing tournament poker for the better.

Savage first started using it with Commerce Casino Tournament Coordinator Justin Hammer at the L.A. Poker Classic kickoff event in 2017. Several more events saw it added by the end of the series. By 2018, it was installed in every No-Limit Hold’em event on the schedule.

Savage then took it to the WPT where players and staff have almost unanimously embraced it.

Widespread big blind ante implementation

After testing it out on the World Series of Poker Circuit, the WSOP introduced it in several events in 2018. More events will see it added in the future.

Top tournament directors across the US and beyond have begun implementing it in greater numbers. Even smaller tours like the popular Mid-States Poker Tour have given it a whirl.

The popularity of the big blind ante is spreading fast and Savage has now vowed to continue to push for widespread implementation at the Tournament Directors Association annual summit next summer.

Savage ultimately says the big blind ante benefits players. He calls it a change to no-limit hold’em tournaments that works.

It’s hard to disagree with that. In fact, finishing the sentences at the top of this story seems near impossible at this point. Leading to the obvious conclusion that the big blind ante is really here to stay.

Lead image courtesy of WPT/Flickr

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