In this post, we are going to look at the art of short stacked play, we are all aware at this point of the push fold charts for when we are 20BBs and below, but there is a middle ground of having just a little more chips than that where many players aren’t quite sure how to play, so let’s see if we can pick up some tricks…
Tighten up your opening range
As we get more shallow in our stacks we are going to want to just open our big cards, so hands like KT, QJ, A9 etc hands that play well in single raised pots, can flop good top pair type hands and easily allow us to play for our stack.
If we open too wide we are going to flop some mediocre holdings that we aren’t going to be able to play very effectively with a short stack, we won’t want to commit a lot of chips as it will be too much of our stack to gamble with, so tightening up our ranges to reduce the amount of connectors like 67s and 98s for example that we are in there with will help us out a lot.
We will also want to take out the bottom of our small pair range, because these hands just don’t play well at this stack depth, can’t call 3-Bets profitably and aren’t going to hit sets often enough to turn a profit. So look to just open muck 22-55 for instance.
We should be betting Polar for our C-Bets
When we are deeper, say 100BBs we can afford to bet with a merged range on flops with our range advantage and put lots of our opponent’s hands in a tough spot on later streets.
Things are a little different with shallower stacks, we aren’t going to want to get raised off our marginal hands. Therefore we will want to bet with our complete misses, our strong hands and our draws that we don’t mind calling off to a raise, should we face one.
This way we are much more likely to realise our equity in these spots and we will still have some bet folds that when we win the pot with our bluffs we bag a tonne of equity with a hand that we shouldn’t have realised.
Use small pairs as Open Jams or 3-Bet Jams
Earlier we mentioned that small pairs are going to be a lot of trouble for us with short stacks, however, there is a different way to play these, look to move all-in with them in late position when hovering around the 25BB mark, this will win us the pot a bunch of the time pre-flop and for the times we are called we are nearly always flipping.
Another good way to get our equity from pairs like 22–77 is to use these hands as 3-Bet Jams pre-flop. A good thing about this is that we will sometimes get better hands like 33–66, for example, to raise fold against our stack, so picking up that kind of equity is massive for us.
Limping is a valid option at this stack depth
So, raise folding off this stack depth sucks! We put in money, we don’t realise our equity and we have to fold a pretty good hand.
The answer is here, LIMP!
Limping achieves a few neat goals, we can enter the pot for cheaper, this means we can enter with more holdings and we will sometimes scare our opponents who think our limp will be with a monster hand that we want someone to raise with so we can move all-in.
Look to limp suited connectors like T9s, J9s, QTs etc, these hands play very well in limped pots and can get a tonne of value from worse hands made in the blinds.
Try some of these moves and add them into your game and you’ll notice that you’ll spin up your short stacks a lot more than previously.
- Remember to tighten up your ranges especially in earlier positions to include more high card combos and less small pairs, as these hands play better with shallow stacks post-flop.
- C-Bet with a polarized range so that you can get value from bluffs and not get blown off any marginal hands that have good equity by bet folding.
- Use small pairs as all-in or fold type hands and look to 3-Bet Jam with them to late position opens.
- Try Limping More! You’ll get loads more flops in with your medium-strength hands.
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