How To Play Short Stack Poker

Playing the short stack is a common issue that all poker players face in almost every tournament at some point. Small stack poker requires a lot of discipline and patience to wait for the right moment and we can say it nearly the same as the games and situation to make your move to try to get the double up to get you back in the game.

Know About The Short Stack Poker

The first thing that needs to be tracked at all times is how big your chip stack is compared to the players at your table, your chip stack relative to the blinds and your stack compared to the average chip stack in the tournament. All of these factors dictate how much leniency you have with making plays or attempting a variety of strategies and the smaller the stack the smaller the number of moves you can make become.

A very general guideline is that from 20x the big blind and up you can typically play your normal game, having enough chips to take a few risks and/or play your normal game. For example, the blinds are 100-200 and you have 4,500 chips. This is over 20x the big blind so you have a lot of flexibility in terms of your play.

Once you get around 15x the big blind with your chips your moves become increasingly limited. At this point attempting an extravagant buff or calling raises with less-than-stellar hands is out of the question. A lot of players at this point enter a mode of play I like to call “jam-or-fold.” Simply put, this means that you either go all-in with your hand or fold. The logic behind this is that each limp or call takes an increasing percentage of your chips and your move and all-in need to remain threatening enough so that when you make your all-in move that bet isn’t too low for most of the table to call without much harm done to their stacks if they lose.

I highly suggest jam-or-fold mode for your play once you are at 10x the big blind or lower. At this point, you can enter 10 pots and each pot you enter decreases your chip stack by 10%. It’s not worth it to limp and try to catch when your chips need to enter the pot. So when you enter this danger zone sit back and wait for a good hand to make your move with. Choosing this hand isn’t too difficult, of course, you are looking for a high pair or a premium hand like A-K but pushing with J-10, Q-9, K-9 is also acceptable if there are a lot of folds before you.

Another theory that is a bit more advanced is the theory of receiving first-in rights. This theory states that if you are on a small Dominoqq stack later in a tournament and action folds around to you that you can move all-in with just about any two cards, leaving out only the worst possible hands. This is a risky theory and works best at a tighter table but is extremely helpful. I once made this move with 10-6 off suit to test this theory and ended up getting lucky and tripling up after both blinds called. If you get called, just hope you have live cards that hit.

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