Ante is the amount of money that each player must pay before the hand is started.
This term comes from the Latin word "ante", which means "before, prior to." This word has been used in American poker slang since 1838.
Blinds, as well as ante, are forced bets which are post before players see their pocket cards. There is a big difference between these bets: ante is placed by all the participants of the game before each hand, and blinds are post only by two players to the left of the button.
Ante in the game is used for the following reasons:
Ante is most commonly applied in stud games such as 7-Card Stud, 7-Card Stud Hi / Lo, Razz, and 5-Card Stud. There are no blinds in these games, therefore, ante is used to create the initial pot.
Games that include blinds, for example, Texas Hold'em and Omaha may be also played with ante, which is almost always used at late stages of tournaments. This is done in order to address the excessive caution of the players since if you play so carefully fearing to eliminate, the game can last for a very long time.
A few years ago, the Ante-Only game was introduced at the WSOP. It is similar to NLHE games, but has one important difference: there are no blinds in it, and all players place ante before every new hand starts. The size of the ante increases throughout the entire tournament.
Ante is also present in such games as "Ante-up" and "Big ante". In "Big ante" tournaments, participants pay ante at the very beginning of the tournament, and in "Ante-up", the size of the ante is constantly growing, while the blinds remain of the same size.
As part of the WSOP, a charitable "Ante Up for Africa" tournament was held. It was aimed to support African countries. The event was founded in 2006 by Don Cheadle, Annie Duke and Norman Epstein. The traditional buy-in for the "Ante Up for Africa" was $5 000. A large number of Hollywood stars and poker professionals took part in this tournament.
As a rule, the size of the ante is equal to 1/4 - 1/8 of the small blind. However, its amount may vary and even exceed the big blind.
For example, in stud games for $4 / $8, ante may be equal $1, in Hold'em for $20 / $40 - $5 (1/8 of the big blind).
The phrase "up the ante" has become part of the English language. It means an increase in value from a financial standpoint as well as simply emphasizes the importance of anything.
The "ante off" expression is used when a player is in sit out (out off the table), but ante continues to be taken from him in each hand. As a result, a player may lose all his chips.