Short Stack Management

In tournament poker you are always aiming to build a big chip stack which you can use to dominate your table. Your secondary goal is to have a least an average stack so that you are not vulnerable. In reality you will often find yourself ‘short-stacked’ and will need to know how best to play it to maximise your chances of survival.

There are strategies for managing big, small and medium stacks and we will be discussing all of them starting this month with:

Short stack management.

Do not limp, or enter pots when you will have to back off for a raise. Attack stacks where the damage you can do is significant. Only call all-in with a very strong hand, or occasionally when very low with a ‘gambling hand’ in a multi-way pot where you can get yourself a big stack if you get lucky.

Psychology is very important. Some players have such a strong table presence that they are still able to play a short stack as if it were medium/big. Others are afraid of doubling them up.

Look to get maximum value when going all-in:
If you are ‘under the gun’ and have less than about five times the big blind consider moving in with almost any hand as you will take the blinds if they pass and will probably have to defend your blind anyway with less equity in a win.

Similarly, if a bigger stack raises in front of you when you are in this chip position, you can call knowing you have the protection of other players not wanting to take on the genuine hand that came in before you. If someone does re-raise then the first raiser may pass, meaning you are still up against only one hand and have more value in the pot.

Similarly again: If a lot of limpers have entered a pot and been raised from late position you may consider calling behind the raiser knowing that you are likely to get heads up with a lot of equity in the pot.

Remember, tournaments are frequently won by someone who came back from ‘a chip and a chair’. Never give up. Carry on playing poker.