Adjusting for the Ante in Tournaments

One thing that consistently baffles me is otherwise very good MTTers that do not accurately adjust for the ante. Adjusting is crucial, especially late in an MTT when the antes are huge and the effective stack is often much shorter in actuality than players realize, which is a point I often make in my videos for Drag The Bar.

There are many ways to adjust, which all have their pros and cons. Here are a few:

1.) Intuitive adjustment. This is usually what a player is using when he says “I had 12 big blinds, but it was with the ante.” The problem with this method is accuracy, because it does not take into account how large the ante is. (As the common statement made by the hypothetical player above would still be true if the ante was tiny or if it were large.)

2.) Harrington’s M. In this popular method, you divide your stack by the total of blinds plus antes. While the “zones” of green for an M over 50 for example are a nice way to indicate how many speculative

hands you should play, the pitfall of Harrington’s M is that it assumes a full table, which is often not the case late in a tournament. There is a way to further adjust to an effective M for playing short-handed, but that calculation is way more steps than are necessary to adjust for the ante.

3.) Adding the big blind and the small blind together and treating that total as the big blind. While this method is very easy to calculate, it varies wildly in terms of accuracy.

4.) Multiplying the starting pot by .66. This is my preferred method for many reasons. First of all it is accurate regardless of how many players are left at the table, and even if there is a dead small blind. Also, it is simple to calculate and easy to estimate whether playing live or online. (The reason it is .66 is that the big blind is usually 2/3 the starting pot.)

Poker is a game of limited information, so we need all the info we can possibly have—preferably as quickly as we can get it. That is why I think it is so important to take the time to accurately adjust for the ante.