Poker Strategy with Short Stack

Basics of Short Stack Play

Three basic principles apply to short stack tournament strategy. Your position, reputation, and hand quality are most important.

Short stack poker is about moving all-in at the right time. Because you have so little chips it’s really important to pick your bluffs wisely. There will be no calling at this stage unless your hold premium cards. Either you’re all-in or not playing the hand. You also want to be the player who initiates the all-in.

Stack Size Importance

Keeping your stack size above a certain level also plays a vital role. Most pros say you can still have strategy when your stack is 8-10 times the big blind.Anything below that you have no bluff value in your bets and will likely be called every time.That’s not what we want unless you hold big cards.

When your stack size is below 8 times the big blind expect a call so try and do it with at least Ace hi. If your main goal is to win the tournament then calling or moving all-in when pot odds are large could also be a good strategy. That’s only if your sole purpose is to win the tournament and not place 2-10th or whatever it may be.

Always look for an opportunity to push all-in when you’re on the brink of becoming super short stacked. Our objective is to pick up the small and big blinds. Like we said above, short stacks are not always likely to get called but super short stacks run the risk of calls.

Short Stack Position

Table image comes into play when deciding on when to push all-in. Players who give off a tight image can push in earlier positions while looser players should wait until late position. Personally I always like to push in late position. Some of the tighter players have great success pushing in early position because their opponents will put them on strong hands because they pushed in early position.

Your opponent’s style is another important factor. If the players are loose you don’t want to push in early position unless of course your hand is very strong. At tighter tables you can push in earlier position.

Picking up Cards with Short Stack

Your strategy with short stacks is to pick up the blinds and hope to not get called. Previously you usually held junk or semi-weak cards like A-X or J-10. Obviously in those positions you’re looking for the best way not to get called when you push.

So let’s say you do pick up a big hand like QQ. Again, we want to minimize the field and isolate it down to heads up against one other player. At this point I continue to push all-in. I don’t want someone calling me and being forced with a tough decision after the flop when an Ace hits.

So remember, short stack poker is about picking the right times to bluff with marginal hands. I’ve seen many people win from short stacks because with a bit of proper strategy and luck it can become a winnable situation.

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