Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dealing with short stacks

I tend to steer clear of short stacks. By short stacks, I mean those with stacks of 30BBs or less, when I have 100BBs or more. I generally find that these are players who will raise all in with any pair or premium broadway cards (i.e. AK, AQ, AJ, KQ, etc.). I am particularly careful to take note when I see a limped shorty, or am about to raise into a shorty. When raising into a shorty, you have to be clear about your intentions because you can almost expect a shove with any of the above holdings. Are you ready to make that call? If not, a limp / fold may be in order; wait for a better opportunity.

On the other hand, when you are the one holding the premium cards (minus the AJ, KQ sometimes) and you see a shorty who has limped or raised, I feel free to fire away. I want this guy putting 10-20% (if he raised) of his stack on the line with a raise and then have to be put to a decision of call or fold. The majority of the time, I find that the shorty will call your bet and you will be, at worst, 50/50. It is worth the pickup when he does indeed respect your shove and folds out his hand. The other part of the time, it's a 50/50 gamble for 20BBs; a choice he was forced to make.

All of that said, when facing a raise from a short stack with a marginal hand, or even decent hand, where you are sure the shorty is tight (I've seen shorties run 8VPIP / 3PFR or even 5/2), fold that good hand, even if you think you may be good here. What's the point? Even if you have the golden suited connectors, or hold (99, 88, 77, etc.) are you getting any value out of seeing a flop when you know he's shoving any flop? You're playing for an effective 20BBs. There is no implied value there; the most you can get is a 20BB stack. It is hardly worth calling 3BB or 4BBs to potentially win 20BBs on the flop.

An example of play against a shorty is as follows:
Full Tilt No-Limit Hold'em, $0.10 BB (8 handed) - Full-Tilt Converter Tool from

UTG+1 ($2.66)
MP1 ($4.78)
MP2 ($3.17)
Hero (CO) ($8.09)
Button ($1.85)
SB ($19.08)
BB ($10.51)
UTG ($2.15)

Preflop: Hero is CO with 3c, 3h
UTG bets $0.40, 7 folds

Total pot: $0.25 | Rake: $0

UTG didn't show
Outcome: UTG won $0.25

What is a call going to do here? What about an all-in shove? At BEST, I am 50/50 with the villain (assuming he has no overpair). I have no interest in spending any new money to win 26BBs of implied value, so I fold out the hand.

On the other hand, here is an example where I am going to set about bullying this short stack. He has just enough money where I can get him off the hand. At WORST, I am 50/50 against this guy (any under pair assuming he doesn't have AA, KK - which is a 1% chance) so I don't mind stacking off in this spot here. Of note, as well, he gives up his position on me with a call:

Full Tilt No-Limit Hold'em, $0.10 BB (9 handed) - Full-Tilt Converter Tool from

CO ($2.51)
Button ($4.78)
SB ($4.04)
Hero (BB) ($8.09)
UTG ($2)
UTG+1 ($18.08)
MP1 ($10.81)
MP2 ($2.40)
MP3 ($2.15)

Preflop: Hero is BB with As, Kd
3 folds, MP2 bets $0.40, 4 folds, Hero raises to $2.40, 1 fold

Total pot: $0.85 | Rake: $0

Hero didn't show As, Kd (nothing).
Outcome: Hero won $0.85

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive