Thoughts on the Short Stack

Visiting family for Thanksgiving, I played a session at the Hard Rock Casino in Tampa, Florida, and discussed it in this week’s podcast (will be up on Thursday as usual).  The max buy-in was $100, which was terrible, but it did get me thinking about five things related to short stack play.

 One, about the only good thing about short stack play is that decisions are easy. In most cases, you’re either shoving or folding.

 Two, because your decisions post-flop are so polarized, good players will understand this and probably play better against you than against deeper stacks.  Bad players will still not know what to do, and as such, you will have a chance to get paid off.

 Three, you have to be patient.  Any hand you choose to play will probably require you to go all-in before the turn so having a starting hand that can stand-up until the river is very important. This, of course, means boredom.  Folding unendingly until you can fold no more only to risk it all-in and probably win the minimum because all the nits will fold.

 Four, since you are so shallow and you only have two moves, shoving produces the worst results possible.  Your shove shows so much strength that people fold when you want them to call, and you only get called when you’re beat. But you can’t bet less or fold because you’re so short stacked.

 Five, you have no fold equity when the right move is to bluff, and you have no implied odds when the right move is to call.  Sucks, doesn’t it?

 Some people have no choice but to play short because of their finances, and if they’re smart, they will find the right opportunity to double up a couple of times so that they’re not short stacked any more.  But when the room forces you to buy-in short, you’re immediately at a disadvantage regardless of how much money you have with you.  Best advice: don’t play in those rooms.

About Frank Panama

Frank Panama is the host of the Michigan Poker Monster podcast, a podcast about Michigan poker. He lives in Saint Clair County, Michigan, and loves to play and talk about poker.
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