WSOP Does Right Thing, Implements BB Antes To Speed Up Poker

The WSOP’s announcement that they’ll be featuring BB antes in many of their 2018 tournaments makes perfect sense. What’s harder to understand is why it doesn’t make the same sense to every single other poker player.
WSOP Big Blind Antes

Every poker player has been there. You enter a tournament – maybe it’s a World Series of Poker event – and you absolutely can’t wait to get the cards in the air and start playing. The excitement in the room is brought to life by almost every player’s nervous shuffling of his or her chips.

There’s never more anticipation in a poker tournament than right before the first hand, for one simple reason: every competitor in the room thinks they are going to win. Then everything comes to a crashing halt once the cards hit the felt, partly due to quick bust out hands, yes, but more so because of the horrendously slow play.

All poker players have played at agonizingly slow tables, whether it’s at the WSOP, your local casino’s daily tournament or a friend’s home game. At least at the latter, it’s all about fun and games.

Most of the poker I’ve played in my life has been online, so when I travelled to Las Vegas to play in my first WSOP, I couldn’t believe how slow the pace of play was. To this day, I’d say that I don’t really enjoy live poker because of how long it takes to play a single hand, but I deal with it once in a while for the large prize pools.

With all of this in mind, the WSOP’s announcement that they will be featuring BB antes in many of their 2018 tournaments makes perfect sense to me. What I can’t figure out is why it doesn’t make sense to every single other poker player.

Is there a downside?

Big blind antes were devised as a way to speed up games involving antes, and call for the player in the big blind to post the antes for the entire table in a single shot.

As far as I can tell, most of the feedback for the BB ante structure has been overwhelmingly positive.

Is it a good thing for lower denomination chips to be in play for significantly fewer levels, thus making colouring up easier and faster? Yes.

When half the table isn’t paying attention at the start of a hand – which is a good bet the majority of the time – is it easier for the dealer to look over at the player in the big blind and assess that he’s posted the consolidated ante as well? Yes.

Matt Savage, the current tour director of the World Poker Tour, ran the LA Poker Classic preliminary events with big blind antes. He has voiced on Twitter that it ran smoothly, and said that nearly all of the feedback he got, from recreational players and pros, was positive.

It essentially boils down to this: is faster poker better? Absolutely, yes. But is there a downside?

The only apparent downside appears to be some question as to whether, at the start of a hand, the big blind should post the BB first, or the ante. Traditionally, it’s the ante that’s posted first, but that would mean in certain situations, the player in the big blind would be too short-stacked to win anything other than the ante back.

To remedy this, the WSOP has decided they will allow the player in the big blind to post the BB first. The problem then becomes that a super short-stacked player in the big blind can win many more chips than they should be entitled to.

In a nutshell, this is literally the only potential downside to tournaments with BB antes.

Is faster play worth the minor speed bumps?

Tens of thousands of hands are played in any given poker tournament. The only downside to having a BB ante structure in which the big blind is posted first might occur in ten hands (or less) in the entire tournament.

Given how much I hate playing slow poker, this is a cut and dried answer for me: the positives of faster poker far outweigh any minor speed bumps that might arise in a select number of hands. I’m completely all-in on faster play in live poker tournaments.

In the end, as long as tournament directors apply the big blind posting order rule correctly and consistently, it doesn’t make much of a difference to me – and it shouldn’t to anybody else. If the rules are the same for everybody, let’s just get the cards in the air and play some poker!

How you can play a BB ante tournament at the WSOP

So you’ve read my article and decided that yeah, faster poker sounds like the way of the future. Now, you’re wondering how you can experience BB ante tournaments at the WSOP.

We’ve got you covered. Here’s a full list of the 2018 WSOP events that will feature big blind antes:

  • Event #5 (June 1): $100,000 High Roller No-Limit Hold’em 
  • Event #13 (June 5): $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em 
  • Event #20 (June 8): $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em 
  • Event #45 (June 22): $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em 
  • Event #54 (June 26): $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em 
  • Event #74 (July 11): $10,000 6-Handed No-Limit Hold’em 
  • Event #77 (July 13): $50,000 High Roller No-Limit Hold’em 
  • Event #78 (July 15): $1,000,000 Big One for One Drop No-Limit Hold’em 

Here’s the full list of WSOP events. Best of luck to all players in the newer, faster poker tournaments at this year’s WSOP!


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