Short Stack Poker Basic Tips

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 so whilst 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, it isn’t necessarily profitable or wise to do likewise when you on the bubble of cashing with 100 people less short stack 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 much rather shove K 8 off suit in the small blind than shove Ace Ten from early position. I know when I shove from early position on a full ring table, I am likely to get called. I must get my 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.

short stack poker
Image by Freepik

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. They 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 the truth is you can sometimes chip up your stack to average or better without being all in and called. I have accomplished this countless times in low stakes online tournaments.

Conclusion

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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Sit N Go Poker – The Pros & Cons

What is Sit N Go Poker?

A Sit N Go is a tournament with a predefined number of entrants, usually 9 or 18 but can be up to 180. Like a regular tournament, the top positions occupy the best cashes. It combines tournament strategy, survival, hand selection and the ability to play short stack well. Let’s look at reasons for and against playing Sit N Go poker.

Pro – Convenience

Being able to play a tournament in an hour is far more convenient than playing one lasting 8. You have plans to go cinema tonight? Don’t worry you can still play a SNG. They rarely last more than 75 minutes and turbo SNGs are available too which take even less time.

Pro – Multi-Tabling is Simple

You can increase your ROI easier with SNGs playing a few tables. If you are a competent player and looking at your ROI and hourly rate, you will quickly see you need to be playing several tables. Due to the relatively simple and predictable nature of a SNG, it is far simpler to multi table a sit n go than any other poker.

Pro – Improves Discipline

You will notice after playing many SNGs, that a defined strategy and hand selection will become imperative, particularly early on. This will improve your discipline before the flop and allow you to hone a strategy that works for you.

Sit N Go Poker
Photo by Josh Sorenson

Con – Earnings Restrictions

We all play poker to make money, but unless you are playing many tables or playing decent stakes. It’s questionable how much money you can make. If you are ambitious and want to earn lots of money, SNGs may not be for you as you need a lot of volume to see tangible earnings.

Con – Technical Restrictions

You’ll see Sit N Gos develop into short stack poker mode quite quickly. That’s great if you are happy to play short stack poker, but if you are looking to develop as a poker player and learn to play post flop poker well than Sit N Go poker isn’t your bag. 

Con – Boring

This may be a contentious “con” but I find sit n go poker quite boring. The predefined nature, the same opponents, the same pay-outs. Where cash games and tournaments are dynamic and engaging, sit n go poker is more rigid and predictable.

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