How to Play Short Stack Poker?

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Short Stacked Poker

Have you ever gone out with your friends, and when it’s time for the bill to be paid, realized that you’re more broke than the rest of them? Or you’re at the store paying for your groceries, when you’ve had to go and put an item back because you don’t have enough cash to cover everything you bought. Or worse, have you ever found out that your salary is less, compared to all your friends? If you’ve experienced any such similar situation or any of the above, then you already know what it’s like to be short stacked. And you might’ve rightly guessed that today we’ll be talking about short stacked poker.

Now, you might be confused. Maybe you’ve heard the term but never understood what is was, or this is the first time you’ve come across it. But worry not. No matter how unfamiliar you are with this term and the poker rules that follow, we’ve got your back. We’ll explain it all to you and go over everything you need to know about short stacked poker. So, read on, and learn it all.

What is Short Stacked Poker?

Before we move ahead, it’s important for us to look at the word ‘stack’ and understand what that means. In essence, a stack in poker refers to the number of chips that are on the line, between all the players, in a pot.

Now that we’ve got that cleared up, we can understand what a short stack means. A short stack is when the chips a player holds are compared to the chips held by his or her opponents, specifically the blinds. So, for instance, if you hold 30BB and your opponents have 20BB, you’ll still be a short stack because your chips are being compared to the blinds.

Now, a game of short stack poker also changes on the basis of the stack size. For instance, a game where the stack size is 10BB will be played slightly differently from a game with a stack of 40BB. It’s important to remember this, and be alert of it, when you play.

How To Play Short Stacked Poker?

Whenever you find yourself at a poker table with a short stack, there are some important pointers for you to keep in mind.

It’s good to remember that when you’re short stacked, your game becomes limited. There are certain maneuvers like a bluff or a float, which are considered advanced moves, and can be played only when you have the power to bet, call, raise, and make some educated guesses. These moves are too risky for a short stacked player. Because of the limited nature of your stack, you might not have room to play these moves.

 Also, in a game of No Limit Texas Hold’em poker, the actual betting, with huger stakes, only begins at the later stages of the game. The earlier stages such as the Pre-flop and the Flop are used as rounds for players to set up their game and build their hands. By the time the game gets to the Turn and the River, the players start making bigger bets. At this stage, a short stacked player will be out of the game. In essence, a short stacked player cannot make it past the flop, because after this stage, he or she will not have enough chips to compete with the other players and call their bets.

So, if your fortune and game, as a short stacked player, is so terrible, what can you do to salvage this situation? We know that all of this advice sounds foreboding, but you can actually play as a short stacked player. All you need to do is to focus on the hands you can play successfully.

Hands to Play in Short Stacked Poker

Poker is a game that relies on our hands. When the game begins, we are dealt some starting hands, and then with the introduction of the community cards, we focus on how to construct a hand that will win us the pot. Even in a regular game of poker, hands are the most important tool in a poker players’ arsenal. It is what can guarantee a win. So, imagine how much of an asset it can be to a short stacked player.

We’ve already established that as a short stacked player might not make it out of the Flop. We also know that a short stacked player has a very limited range of moves that are available to him or her. In this scenario, it would be wise to place your faith in your cards. A short stacked player needs to make an attempt to play with heavier hands, which are already big, rather than nurture weaker hands which have potential.

The reason for this is quite evident. A short stacked player might not stay in the game long enough to fulfill the potential of his weaker hand. Such a player needs to be more invested in playing with a strong hand, so that chances of staying in the game longer increase. He won’t even need to make complicated moves in this case. All he needs to do is to make it to the showdown with his strong hand.

But what cards can be played and what cannot? Well, we’ve got the answer. Some of the cards that a short stacked player should avoid are small pocket pairs or even suited connectors. The reason being, that such cards require a player with a deeper stack. On the other hand, a short stacked player should try to play with big suited cards. Such cards can make top pair and help a short stacked player close strongly at the Flop.

Now, when it comes to choosing starting hands, a short stacked player can afford to be little flexible and consider a wider range of cards, depending on the size of his or her stack. A short stacked player can play with a lot of highly ranked cards, some of which are:

- Ace-Ace,

- King-King,

- Queen-Queen,

- Ace-King (Suited),

- Ace-Queen (Suited),

- Jack-Jack,

- Ace-King,

- Ace-Queen,

- Ace-Jack (Suited) and etc.

There are several such combinations that can be played by a short stacked player. The main aim is to play a set of cards that will be top pair. So, it is important to play some big cards, which are higher up in the ranks. Since a short stacked player will not make it past the flop, it is very important that such a player plays a very strong Flop. He should, essentially get his money’s worth during this time, before he is kicked out of the game.

Another thing you should notice is that all the hand combinations we’ve listed, as well as some others that can be played by a short stacked player, all involve Aces. This is because such a player, having a short stack, might need to go all in during the Flop round. So, in such a scenario, holding an Ace will definitely give such a player an edge and help his or her win against a high card held by any other opponent.

How to Play These Hands?

We’ve gone over some of the hands you could play if you were shot stacked. But, how do you play them? There are some tips and tricks that you can use when you’re in such a situation. We’ll be listing them for you, so you don’t need to figure it out yourself. These points are as follows:

- If a short stacked player is dealt any of the cards that we listed above, or similar high cards, then according to their stack size, they should aim to raise in the game. It is tempting to limp and get in the game for cheap, but this is a weak move, which won’t be of much use, either. Raising can add to the pot, and if the player holds one of the stronger cards mentioned above, they’ll get back their money when they hit the hand and win the pot, anyway. So, it’s a win-win.

- So, for instance, if a player has 10BB or more, they can raise up to 3BB or even 4BB. But, if they have 10BB or less, they can try to go all in right at the beginning, because trying to meet any other bets will result in the same thing, as well.

- During the Flop, a short stacked player is either going all-in or is folding. If you are short stacked and have a smaller stack, you should try to go all-in and get something out of the game. But, if you have a larger stack, then you can wait it out and try to play from a better spot. 

- As a short stacked player, you will eventually be committed to the pot, anyway, by trying to call the bets made by the other players. In this case, it is better to go for an all-in, instead. At least you might have a chance of getting your opponents to fold with this strategy. This improves your chances of winning, for sure.

If you try to play a game of short stacked poker, armed with these tips, you’ll have a better chance of playing strategically and staying in the game long enough to get some of your money back. It’s a good way to play when all the odds are stacked against you.

As we conclude, we’ve given you all the advice you need on how to play short stacked poker. Now you’re more than ready to play poker online and hold your own. So come join us at Spartan and get playing!


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