How to Beat PokerStars Zoom Ante Games (Step by Step Guide)

How to Beat PokerStars Zoom Ante Games
Recently PokerStars has begun trialing antes in it's Zoom games on the .com platform for NL2, NL5 and NL10 in both No Limit Hold'em and Pot Limit Omaha.

And a lot of people have been asking me about this.

How should you adjust your strategy in these Zoom ante games? Are Zoom ante games more profitable or less profitable than regular Zoom games?

This is something that I also talk about in a brand new video by the way, if you prefer.

Make sure you are subscribed to my YouTube channel for tons more high level zoom poker strategy videos.

Now, since Zoom ante games are still a trial only, and they are not even spread across the entire PokerStars network yet, only .com, we don't actually know if they will continue permanently.

However, since I have been getting so many questions about these games I am going to write a complete step by step Zoom ante poker strategy guide here to help you start crushing these games.

Let's jump in!

Zoom Poker Ante Strategy

Let's begin by just talking about ante poker games in general. When there are antes in play, it absolutely will change your strategy.

And this is because there is a lot more in the pot preflop to fight for.

Antes by the way, are a set amount that every single player puts into the pot every single hand before the flop. It is usually a small percentage of the big blind, no more than 50%.

So when antes are in play it no longer makes any sense to sit around waiting for your pocket aces or pocket kings all day, because not only are you paying both blinds, but you are paying an ante every single hand as well!

And this makes ante games a nit's (overly tight player) worst nightmare. See my full guide for destroying the nits in Zoom and regular tables by the way right here.

So you absolutely will need to get involved more often in Zoom ante games. And what I mean by that is playing more hands.

Time to start playing those suited connectors and suited aces more often for example!


Even suited one-gappers and weaker off-suit broadways like:


Mostly from late position of course. If you have read any of my blog posts or read any of my books before, you know I hammer this point all the time.

You always add hands like this from late position to start with. By late position I am specifically talking about the button and the cutoff.

And perhaps even more importantly, you will also need to make your raises bigger preflop in Zoom ante games, because the pot is artificially bigger.

So therefore, if you normally make it 3x the big blind to go preflop, I would suggest making it 4x the big blind instead.

A big mistake that many people make in ante games is not increasing their preflop bet sizing and therefore giving everyone incredible odds to call them.

Don't be that guy! Always adjust your preflop bet sizing upwards in ante games.

There is a Big Difference Between PokerStars Zoom Ante Games at NL2, NL5 and NL10

Next, let me talk about the big difference (as it currently stands at the time of this writing), between the Zoom ante games on PokerStars at NL2, NL5 and NL10.

And here is that key difference:

The ante in all of these games is 1 cent!

Yes, you read that right. This means that your ante is 50% of the big blind at NL2, 20% of the big blind at NL5 and just 10% of the big blind at NL10.

Whether PokerStars will change this in the future or not is up for discussion. But for the time being this is going to have vastly different implications in terms of the strategy that you will want to use in each game.

Basically, the impact of the ante in Zoom NL2 right now is huge and it is fairly inconsequential at NL5 and NL10. So you will want to make the biggest adjustments to your game when playing NL2 Zoom ante games.

Like I just mentioned above, I would recommend learning how to play a loose and aggressive (LAG) style now in these games, similar to the way I played in my popular NL2 video series.

This means playing a lot more speculative hands like:
  • Suited Connectors
  • Suited Aces
  • Suited One Gappers
  • Weaker Broadways
Especially in late position as mentioned already. And this also means increasing your preflop aggression in terms of how often you 3bet.

You want to be 3betting lighter more often because there is a lot more on the line, a lot more in the pot to win!

Also, as I mentioned above, I would recommend making your opening raise sizes a full big blind larger in all Zoom ante games at NL2, NL5 and NL10.

Postflop in Zoom ante games, you just want to be doing all the same stuff I talk about all the time on this blog and in my books and YouTube poker videos.

For Example:
  • Hammering the nits on the flop by using a very high CBet%
  • Double barreling scare cards and equity improvement cards on the turn versus all player types
  • Floating the flop with any sort of equity versus the weak/tight regs and taking it away on the turn
  • Bluffing river cards that represent our range well versus players with a low WTSD%
  • Making wide multi-street call downs with the middle of our range versus highly aggressive regulars.
Basically, just fighting for lots of pots by employing the highly aggressive style of poker that I have been teaching for 10+ years now.

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How Profitable Are Zoom Ante Games?

So another question I get asked a lot lately is how profitable are the Zoom ante games. Well, in my opinion, if you use the correct strategy that I outlined above, they are highly profitable.

In other words, the winrate you could achieve in Zoom ante games will be significantly higher than the typical Zoom poker winrates we see these days.

Consider NL2 Zoom ante games. Normally these can be a bit of a nitfest with hundreds of players sitting around waiting for their pocket AA or pocket KK, and without much real talent beyond that.

And now in the NL2 Zoom ante games, instead of 3 cents in the pot preflop before anybody does anything, there is 9 cents!

PokerStars Zoom Ante Strategy

This is an absolutely enormous difference and most of these multi-tabling nits will not be adjusting to this quickly, if they do at all.

And what this means is that you can potentially increase your winrate dramatically in these games by playing a loose and aggressive style of play like I discussed before.

The key thing to remember here though is to lay off the gas pedal when the nits start pushing back, either preflop, on the flop, turn or river.

As I discuss at length in The Micro Stakes Playbook, you can abuse these nits all day long, but you absolutely must respect them when they finally decide to fight back against you.

Because they almost always have it. Nitting it up and waiting for the nuts is what they do after all!

So you can steal their blinds all day long in NL2 Zoom ante games, 3bet them light preflop, CBet the flop 80%, double barrel them frequently and so on.

And you will make an absolute killing against them and improve your winrate dramatically, because like I said, there is 9 cents in the pot preflop now instead of 3 cents.

But just remember to get out of the way, when these tight bad players finally do wake up with a big hand. Because believe me, they aren't bluffing you.

By the way, if you are still having trouble identifying who the nits are, all you need to do is use a HUD, like I always suggest.

Nits in 6max will have stats that look like this:

18/15/3 (VPIP/PFR/AF)

Nits in Full Ring will have stats that look like this:

12/10/3 (VPIP/PFR/AF)

Should You Play Zoom Poker Ante Games?

So should you play the Zoom ante games on PokerStars?

Well, if you read this blog regularly, then you already know that I am not really a huge fan of Zoom poker games overall, even though I actually wrote the most comprehensive Zoom poker strategy guide available anywhere online.

And this is because Zoom poker games are often overly tight nitfests with no real ability to table select.

But I actually applaud PokerStars' decision to trial antes in these games and I hope it sticks. Because I think this adds a lot more action to these games and forces all the nits to adapt or face a significant reduction in their winnings.

So yes, I do think you should give the Zoom poker ante games a go.

I think the potential winrates in Zoom ante games are a lot higher than traditional Zoom games with no ante because it will take a long time for the regulars to adjust, if they ever do.

This is being trialed at NL2, NL5 and NL10 after all, which is where you will consistently find some of the worst poker players on planet earth. 

You really don't even need to study any advanced poker strategy in order to crush these guys.

So expecting them to adjust quickly with antes in play now, probably isn't going to happen any time soon.

Also, as I discussed above, if you do not adjust your preflop bet sizing in an ante game, you give your opponents incredible odds to call you, especially in position, with literally any kind of decent, speculative hand.

I highly doubt any of the nits in these low stakes Zoom ante games will understand this, and therefore you could potentially make a fortune against them by flatting wide preflop, with great odds, and cracking their pocket aces.

And since Zoom games also very often play deep stacked, this is an absolute goldmine opportunity against tight bad players like this.

I will probably write a completely separate article about how to do this at some point, because like I have mentioned many times before, these bad regs actually are the new fish.

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Final Thoughts

While we don't know at this point if Zoom ante games will stick on PokerStars (this is only a trial), I do like this move and I hope it becomes permanent.

Or perhaps they could allow people to decide between playing Zoom ante games or regular Zoom games?

At the very least I see this as a big step in the right direction because when there is more money in the middle preflop, it forces all the bad nits in these games to either adjust or see their winrates plummet.

This is good for the elite players because they can beat up on them even easier. And this is also great for the fish as well, because nits give no action without the nuts and often slow down the games as well.

I think this move towards antes will be especially effective in full ring Zoom games which are notoriously a ridiculous nitfest at these stakes, with everyone sitting around waiting for AA, KK or a set.

This is zero fun for the fish, who support the entire industry, lest we forget. But even in 6max Zoom games, the antes will help open up the action a lot as well.

It is important to note though that under the current structure, PokerStars is using a 1 cent ante in NL2, NL5 and NL10 Zoom.

This is strange in my opinion and I hope they do adjust this in the future. But as it stands right now, you need to know that the ante is a lot more important at NL2 than it is at NL5 and NL10.

Because as mentioned, the ante in NL2 Zoom is a whopping 50% of the big blind whereas it is only 20% and 10% of the big blind at NL5 and NL10, respectively.

So you will need to make the most adjustments to your Zoom poker ante strategy at NL2, and not quite as much at NL5 and NL10.

Anyways, once again, I do like this move by PokerStars and I hope that the Zoom poker ante strategy tips in this article help you in these games.

Lastly, if you want to know the complete strategy that I have used to crush the micro stakes games as a 10+ year pro, make sure you grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.

Pokerstars Zoom Ante Strategy