Have you been playing PokerStars’ popular fastfold cash game “Zoom“? Well you may have noticed that the micro-stakes tables now come with antes.
The change was introduced last week as part of an ongoing trial of the ante feature, with players required to put in a mandatory contribution into the pot before the deal. You might have found it unusual, especially as antes are more common in tournament games, and seldom rolled out in cash games, but PokerStars explained that the changes were introduced for a more exciting playing experience for everyone.
Antes at Micro-stakes Zoom Cash Games
Last week, players of Zoom micro-stakes cash games were greeted with an obligatory ante of between 10% and 50% of the big blinds at the lower limits, alongside a confirmatory message at the lobby that an ante feature was being trialed. The new changes currently apply to stakes of $0.01/$0.02, $0.02/$0.05, and $0.05/$0.10, at all table sizes (except heads-up) covering both No-Limit Hold’em and Omaha variants.
When antes are involved in a game, every player at the table puts in an equal amount of chips or money into the pot prior to the initial deal. The main aim is to grow the pot, and as a result, players tend to play much looser, compared to when antes are not in play.
In Zoom, players at the lowest stakes will have to put in an amount literally equal to the size of the small blind. For example, in the $0.01/$0.02 stakes, players will pay an ante of $0.01, on top of the small and big blind.
The ante feature is commonly adopted in tournament formats and other variants such as Stud. While it is hardly introduced in cash games, it’s worth noting that PokerStars isn’t the first operator to make such a move.
In late 2019, rival online poker site partypoker also offered ante fast-forward games to boost the action at the tables. The operator initially considered rolling out antes across all cash game tables, but that plan never materialized, and instead the ante feature was made optional.
Players React
The presence of antes help boost the pot, inducing more action from players. This is exactly what Pokerstars intends to see – action-packed tables and players winning big, leading to an improved, more enjoyable gaming experience.
However some players aren’t convinced with the online poker giant’s purpose for adding antes. A thread on TwoPlusTwo about the recent change attracted some negative comments from certain members who said the introduction of antes in Zoom cash games is nothing more than a deliberate attempt by PokerStars to collect more rake by growing the pot.
Players within the micro-limits will now find it hard to play tight at the Zoom tables, and this set up could make them quit the site altogether, according to one commenter. That view is shared by other members of the forum, with one player referencing the ante feature also present in spins, MTTs and other formats which is also pushing people away.
Some players are also hitting out at the absence of rakeback in these games, which they said is a major turnoff. But PokerStars’ fans are quick to defend the site, saying finding ways to boost the profit is vital for business survival. Some are also siding with the site in the idea that adding antes will indeed lead to more action at the tables and motivate players to get involved in more battles.
PokerStars launched Zoom as a fast-paced game, where players get to play against a pool of different opponents, rather than a fixed set of players on one table. The game is also available in tournament format, giving players the chance to compete in nine-handed, three-handed, and heads-up tournaments.
Players generally play tighter in these games, but with the introduction of antes, a change in strategy is also expected. It remains to be seen whether they’d eventually embrace this new system.

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