Short Stack Game Play – What it is?

Short stack game play, refers to tournament play where there is a need to progress to the prize paying places or deeper into the money. If, because of the blind increments and/or a hand you were beaten in, your stack becomes short of chips, you may think to adjust your strategy. (Becoming short stacked on a cash table usually requires you to either reload, or turn in for the night).

At Poker QQ tournaments, the feature of adjusting the strategy or approach should be available. It will increase the chances of winning for the poker players. There is a requirement of specific skills and intelligence to get the things done at the table. 

Whether it is you playing as the short stack, or playing against the short stack at the table, timing, boldness and a little luck is required. 

 Playing as the short stack

The first thing to ask yourself when noticing your position is, “Do I really have a short stack or am I just below average.”

To understand if you have a short stack consider; how much the current blind bets are; when and what the next blind level will be, and the average number of chips held by all the players in the game. The average stack information is usually available in an online poker game at the the tournament registration page.

Do not compare your short stack to the chip leader’s. The biggest may have ten or twenty times your stack and is not your point of reference.

If you have an average stack (or just below) you are not short stacked. It is often profitable to maintain an average chip position right through to

In a multi table tournament: when you have less than eight to ten times the big blind, you are short stacked and now need to adopt a strategy to earn chips; you should be prepared to lower your hand entry requirements and be bold with your betting.

In a sit and go tournament: when you have less than four to seven times the big blind, you are short stacked and now need to earn chips.

You will have to decide what counts as a SnG or MTT. Some MTT’s on a small site will have fewer players than a SnG on a large site (Many sites host multi table SnG’s).

Pick your moments and your opponents. The best chance to win most poker hands is to isolate your opposition. Look to get all your chips into the pot if you believe by doing so; you will not be called or you have a very good chance of winning.

As an example, a small pocket pair or a big ace may be the first semi decent hand you have picked up for a while. Do not play them from early order by pushing all-in if you still have ten times the big blind available.

However, if everyone has folded to you in the cut off or dealer position, you should push all-in in a heartbeat. Often this strategy will pick up the blinds without opposition, though if called you will mostly find yourself in a classic poker race (smaller pair versus two over cards).

 Thank your lucky stars if the hand stands up; or leave head held high if you lose.

If from mid table you are dealt pocket cards that you may like to see a flop with, assess who is yet to act before entering the hand. If later players are aggressive, they are likely to raise your bet forcing you all-in; if players yet to act are passive, a reasonable bet from you may make them fold.

Often when the short stack bets one third of their remaining stack, it tells the table, “I am prepared to make this my last hand.” It can be as valuable as an all-in bet. When the time comes for you, mix your play between the two.

The worst strategy you can adopt as the short stack is to limp into a number of hands trying to make something happen; mostly you will simply bleed off your remaining chips.

 Playing against the short stack

When you have a dominant stack in online or live poker, the short stack players are looking to double through on you; it is not your responsibility to take them on.

If you choose to call a short stack with cards likely to put you in a race, then do so provided you are not calling more than 10% of your stack. At that amount, a loss will not hurt you too much and will leave you with a significant lead over the short stack 

If you are controlling a hand, try to isolate a short stack and force them to fold by raising their bets in an uncompromising fashion. Make sure when you do this that you have a hand, as the bullied player may decide to make a stand.

If the short stack has a substantial amount of chips in the pot; before you enter the hand you should consider if they are likely to make a stand.

 Timing is king

It is a delicate balance; if your short stack becomes too low then a double up may not see you back to a healthy position. You are also more likely to get multiple calls, as your all-in bet may be an insta-call for a number of the larger stacks. The more people in a pot, the less chance you may have of winning.

However if you are hasty, you may have pulled the pin too soon when pocket aces may have been your next hand.

As a caveat; if the paying places are in bands (e.g. places 300-251 pays $1 places 250-201 pays $2 etc) and the 301st player has just left, you may consider making an early move to bring you closer to the next pay band.

Be aware of the table position, if you have just paid the blinds you may have 8 more free hands to pick up a monster.

Lastly, put yourself in the shoes of other players; are they likely to pull the pin before you do, meaning, you gain places without playing a hand.

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