Sick of a Short Stack? Try the Stop and Go Poker Play

Stop and Go Poker

Tournament poker is a minefield. It requires multiple skills to navigate your way through it, chip up and ultimately bink a win. Unfortunately, tournament poker also involves you playing a short stack sometimes. It’s not what we want but its inevitable, you will get short stacked in tournaments. Getting your stack back up to average or better can be challenging. You have to know push/fold strategy and either run good to hold up to get back in the game.

One move that can help you chip back up is the stop and go play. It’s a highly effective tournament move when exercised properly. This article will explain what the stop and go poker play is and when to use it , so you are better prepared next time you play a low to mid stakes poker tournament.

What is the Stop and Go Play?

It is where a player calls a raise from the blinds, committing a decent amount of his stack and then shoves the flop. The idea behind this is that if you re-shove pre-flop, you have less fold equity as most raising hands will have lucrative price to call. By flat-calling pre-flop and shoving on the flop, you reduce the chance of getting a call slightly. Your opponent is only going to make a pair around 30% of the time. Secondly, if they have a small pair, they may fold when all overcards flop.

The stop and go play is a great move for low stakes tournaments as you can increase your stack a significant % without actually being all in and called.

Example Hand

You are short-stacked with 2,000 chips. The blinds are 150/300 and you are in the big blind holding:

Everyone folds to the cut-off who raises to 800, they fold to you in the big blind.

If we re-raised all in here, our opponent would certainly call. He only has to call 1,200 more for a pot of almost 3,000. However, you decide to flat call.

You move all in on the flop of:

Consider the situation for your opponent. He has to call 1,200 for 2,950. If he has anything less than a jack, he may pause for thought. Consider a hand like pocket 5s. If he thinks we have hit or have a higher pair, he is drawing very slim to just 2 outs and have around 8% chance. Or, he may have an ace high hand like A-10 and fold too. Our opponent folding has resulted in:

  • Avoiding an all in pre flop showdown
  • Winning the pot without contest
  • Increasing our stack almost 50% without being all in and called

Key Points to Remember

The stop and go play is great but you need certain ingredients in order to pull it off, otherwise you are just giving away precious chips. You need to do it when you’re short stacked (there’s no point doing this with a decent stack). It must be done out of position so you can act first after the flop. You also need to make sure that the pot is heads up.

Risking this play against multiple opponents is a disaster. The more people in the pot, the greater chance someone has hit and will call you. It’s also better best to do this with hands you think are questionable and are either a coin flop to your opponents, or behind. There’s no value to this play if you actually have a premium hand like ace king or pocket aces.

You are best served doing this at low to mid stakes. Most high stakes tournament players are familiar with this move and will make the post flop call more liberally. It also works better on the softer sites, allgamblingsites.com offers a great sportsbook review service and it’s well known that sportsbook sites that offer poker are notoriously softer.

Final Thoughts

The stop and go poker play is a great tactic to use in tournaments. It’s another way to steal blinds and antes and keep yourself going. By employing this move, you may have a few more chips for your next all in and give you a platform for the rest of tournament. It’s a fun move to use and also feels good when you pick it up without a call.

If you enjoyed this article, perhaps you’d like to read our poker tournament strategy tips or small ball articles. Alternatively, if you are interested in some poker support, fill in your email below and we will be in touch.

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Stealing the Blinds – How to do it in 2020 & Beyond

Stealing the Blinds

It’s one of the most important skills to develop as a tournament player – stealing the blinds. Players don’t seem bothered about stealing the blinds early on. However, soon as the blinds and antes rise and represent more value, the best players are fighting over them. It’s a skill that will help your in the money rate and ultimately your long-term profitability in tournament poker.

When I started playing online, it was a secretive thing that was not discussed. Most players did it without divulging the information. Even in live tournaments, you’d steal from the button, the big blind would show just an ace and you’d muck… but claim a better hand. Things are a little different now but it’s still a critical skill to learn and implement on European, Asian and USA friendly poker sites.

How Can I Keep Stealing the Blinds in 2020?

Sometimes stubbornness and being relentless is a good thing in poker. I see players attempt a couple of steals, get 3 bet and go into a shell. They have the mentality that they will tighten up, hope to get 3 bet again, yet still get paid. There are worse things to do but it’s not great strategy in my book (I haven’t actually authored a book yet!).

I always tell players to continue with what you think is right. People seem to forget the beauty of the small open raises. It allows you to raise more frequently as you need a lower success % for it to be profitable. Why bother raising so small if you are only doing it with the top 15% of hands? To answer the question though, we can try several things.

3 Bet the Cut-off from the Button

Players know that the button is the prime spot for stealing, so many players are widening their range from cut-off instead. It looks like threatening doesn’t it when you see a raise from there? Guess what? A lot of players know this and are effectively “stealing the button”. A simple counter play is to 3 bet from the button. The beauty in this play is that cards are almost irrelevant and it has a high success rate. Yes, there are players that pick up on this if you do it too much but these are few and far between. This works best against those who have demonstrated a lot of activity from the cut-off but even against solid players it can be profitable.

Consider a tight player in the cut-off with A-9. They will gladly open raise this but fold without question. The best part of the 3 bet in this spot is that most people are less inclined to play 3 bet pots out of position many will just fold pre flop.

Min Raise from Early Position

This is a tricky play that should be used sporadically and only with the right table makeup. A min raise from early position screams strength to most online players. They respect early position and the min raise too. By opening raising the minimum from under the gun, you are telling the table you want action and this sends alarm signals. You might be surprised how often this play will get through. Sometimes you get the big blind defend but even then, it’s ok, you have the perception of strength and position. A continuation bet will work a high amount of the time in this situation.

Attack the Small Blind

A great spot to pick up chips is actually in blind battles, specifically if you’re the big blind. The psychology involved in blind battles is fascinating but it boils down to aggression and position. If the small blind raises, you know, that he knows, you have a random hand and is likely stealing. Now you know that, you can just 3 bet him and likely win. What if he limps? Raise again, you know he probably would have raised himself if he had something so just bet and pick it up. Blind battles are less about hand strength and more about wanting that pot.

Take the Nothing Pots

Online poker may not be as easy as it was, but there is still a heck of a lot of favourable spots in tournaments. There is an abundance of nothing pots around. Pick them up throughout a tournament and you will increase your chances of success. It doesn’t take much, just bet at them and see.

Most players are not giving the game enough attention. Perhaps they see a 4 big blind pot and don’t care or maybe they are watching Netflix. They are probably playing too many tables and only playing their cards. Take advantage of these nothing pots. I mean the pots where it’s a limped pot, it’s checked round and maybe you’re in the big blind with nothing. Take a stab and win the free chips.

Don’t Stop Raising Your Button

The last tip I can give is the simplest of all. Don’t stop raising your button. Soon as you stop, you’re beat and only waiting for luck to help you. People may 3 bet you, but they won’t every time. If they start 3 betting too much, that’s fine, they are risking more than you are. You can choose to take a stand with a lesser hand and make him show you better or you can play patient.

The reality is, the small open raise is still incredibly profitable from the button. A competent post flop player won’t mind the blinds calling and is also happy to steal the blinds. Either way, you’re golden in the long run. Keep opening your button and don’t give up.

Stealing the Blinds Summary

Blind stealing is essential to being a successful tournament player. It reduces the variance and ensures you’re not just relying on good cards to see you through. The best tournament players are looking for profitable scenarios, not just profitable cards. This means thinking on your feet, adapting and perhaps being innovative. This may mean 3 betting the cutoff, trying a tricky minimum raise from early position or pounding on the small blind. These are all little strategies that you can incorporate into your game to help you have a better chance of surviving the increasing blinds.

If you enjoyed this article and want help with your tournament game. Feel free to trial our poker mentor service by email.

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Heads Up Poker is Awesome

Heads Up Poker

Poker at it’s purest, heads up poker is one on one duelling. It can be played in cash game or tournament format. This article will detail the reasons why playing one on one is awesome.

Beginner Texas Holdem Question

Who is Small Blind in Heads Up Poker?

The dealer button is always the small blind. They will act first before the flop and last afterwards.

Tournament End Game

You want to win a MTT? Guess what, you will have to play heads up to do so. The difference between 1st and 2nd in any tournament is always substantial. The difference is often tens or hundred times the initial buy in. The most common mistake a runner up will make is not adjusting, letting the winner bully them into submission then taking a stand with too short a stack and losing.

Heads up trains you for the end game of a tournament and increases your chances of winning them when you get to the final two.

Gain Experience and Technical Skills

Heads up poker will afford you the chance to play many different scenarios both in and out of position. You will be playing hands and situations you are not accustomed to in regular tournaments or cash games with 6 or more people.

How often are you playing K-4 suited to a raise and calling down with 2nd bottom pair? The experience you gain from playing heads up is invaluable and improve your technical skills and hand reading ability.

Heads Up Poker Rewards the Aggressor

If you are a strong aggressive player, heads up poker is perfect. The truth is, heads up poker is often a battle of relentless aggression. The more aggressive players tend to win, provided it’s calculated and measured of course. This is rarely the case in full ring poker where you run into monsters all too often. However, heads up, there are so many nothing pots where an aggressive player can just pick them up consistently. Not only is this fun, it is great for your hourly rate and ROI.

Less Variance Heads Up

It stands to reason with less opponents and deeper stacks, chance or luck is less of an element. Of course, luck and variance exist but not to the same extent. If you are risk averse but a competent heads up player, heads up cash games may be ideal for you.

Table Selection

Never has table selection been more important when you’re facing just one person. You can be heavily rewarded for good table selection playing heads up cash games. There are many experts about but also lots of awful heads up players. By taking your time and carefully selecting the games you play, you can make a lot of money playing heads up.

Conclusion

Heads up poker can be rewarding for you if you enjoy playing post flop poker, gaining experience and are a shrewd game selector. If you are interested in learning more about heads up or want coaching in it, feel free to email us at info@texasholdemquestions.com for information.

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