Short Stack Strategy for Texas Hold ‘Em

During any poker game, especially in Texas Hold ‘Em, whether it be cash game or tournament, land-based or online poker, the possibility of becoming short-stacked and have a small amount of chips in relation to the blinds is always there.

If you find yourself in a short-stacked situation, you should change your strategy and approach to the game in order for you to continue and make the most profitable plays. Even though you have the fewer chips than all your opponents at the table, it does not mean that you have to resign yourself to defeat. You should still be able to play winning poker even as a short stack.

What does Short Stack Mean?

Adverse to popular belief, being short stacked is not having less chips than your opponents at the table. When you have a small number of chips in relation to the size of the blinds then you are short stacked.

Let’s say you have a $1000 in front of you in a No Limit Hold ‘Em game and everyone else has $2000, if the blinds were 5/10 you would not be classified as short stacked. However, if you had $1000 and everyone else also had $1000, if the blinds were 50/100 then you are classified as short stacked. In this situation, everyone else at the table would be short stacked.

When are You Short stacked?

In general, you could be in a short-stacked situation if you have anything less than 40 bigblinds in front of you in a No Limit Hold ‘Em game.

However, with 40 big blinds you are still in a safe position, so around 10 to 30 big blinds is where you would need certainly start combining a short stack strategy in your game. Anything less than 10 big blinds and you are in a serious critical level.

The Problem with being Short-Stacked

Too few chips to make advanced plays or bully your opponents is the biggest problem with being short stacked. With a short stack, your chances of making it into the last round of betting and still have enough chips to make a successful play with are very slim. So if you are short-stacked, you’re effectively having to make bigger decisions before and on the flop.

Furthermore, your short stack will prevent you from getting maximum value from hands. This is because you can’t bet more than what you have in front of you, so if you have a monster hand you are going to be able to win as much as when you have a full stack in front of you.

Nonetheless, even with the slightest problems, you can still play a good poker game with a short stack if you have the right game plan.

Basic Short Stack Strategy

To get the most from your short stack, you need to stick to playing only the big cards and avoid playing any hands with “potential”, such as suited connectors and low pocket pairs. You may want to play hands that will surely hit the flop hard and give you the best opportunity to win the hand before or on the flop, because you are not really expecting to make it past the turn given the size of your stack.

For example, big cards like AQ,AK and so on will be the hands to look out for. Hands like J10 may look promising but you simply don’t have enough chips to make them worth playing.

When you get the big cards, you should continue to bet and raise as you normally would with a big stack. Don’t be afraid to put your chips on the line, as playing passively will only make the situation worse. At the end of the day, if you are entering a pot, you need to be prepared to back up your hand with the remainder of your stack, so don’t be afraid to put your chips at the middle.

The more you play short stack in Texas Hold ‘Em Poker game, the easier it will become. In general, it is not advisable that you enter into cash games with anything less than the full buy-in, as it is more profitable to have a full stack in your front if you know that you are a winning player.

However, in a tournament there is not a lot that you can do with being short stacked, so get used to it. Always remember even when you are short stacked, you still have the chance to fight your way back to the game, so never give up.
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