Short Stack Poker
Most poker players don’t want to play short stack poker. They know their edge increases on their opponents as their stacks do. Whilst a strong player can still have an edge with shorter stacks, it takes time and a lot of volume for it to bear fruit and help one’s ROI. Some players prefer playing a short stack. They know their push fold charts off by heart and decision making is easy. After all, your decisions are often limited to move all in or fold. Easy game huh? This article will look at some tips to help you play short stack poker well in the future.
The Stage of the Tournament
Some players will tell you that short stack poker strategy does not change, regardless of the stage of a tournament. I couldn’t disagree more. You’re not going to win every tournament, that’s a fact. Adjusting your strategy sometimes will help your ITM, ROI and ultimately your bankroll. If you are short stacked at Level 4, on the cash bubble or eeking up the final table money, your strategy should change. Everyone is playing poker to make money. Shoving A-9 off suit with 11 BBs at Level 4 seems fine because you’re far from the money and it’s a +EV move. However, it isn’t necessarily profitable to do on the bubble of cashing with 100 people left, or if you are close to making another $1K on a final table.
First In & Fold Equity
An obvious tip when playing short stack poker but one never to be forgotten. Being first in is far more advantageous than calling all in. Fold equity is probably the most key concept to playing a short stack well. This is especially true later in the tournament with antes. Picking up a round of blinds and antes is essential to playing a short stack.
I would rather shove K8 off from small blind than Ace Ten from under the gun.
I know when I shove from early position on a full ring table, I am likely to get called. We must get our shove through the entire table or hope to get called by worse. When I shove from the small blind, I know it’s a random hand I am against and the chance of picking up the blinds and antes are increased significantly.
Calibre of Opponent
This is often overlooked by tournament experts but a useful tip to remember. If you are on a table of fishes, you should look to minimise your risk, stay in the game and chip up risk free where possible. Against experts, you can’t expect the same ease or comfort. Tournament professionals know how wide you are shoving and have adjusted their calling ranges. They won’t want to double you up lightly if you are a strong player but will also be keen to bully you so long as you short stacked. If you have your cards turned face up and have a 50% chance against an expert, you should take it.
If you are on a fishy table and are 52% to double up, you probably should turn it down. This may seem controversial, but you can sometimes chip up to average or better without being all in and called. I have accomplished this countless times in low stakes online tournaments.
Short stack poker is an eventuality in many tournaments you play. It’s an inconvenient reality due to the blinds, antes or losing key showdowns. You may skirt by playing an average and big stack well, but you should want to play short stacked poker well. It will help you in the long run and can turn tournaments you gave up on into winners.
This article has looked at a few easy to refer to tips. Consider the stage of tournament and whether it’s more profitable for you to be patient, whether you are first in or calling off your stack and whether the opponents at your table are generally bad or not. By adding weight to these factors, you will make better, more informed decisions that will help you make money.
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