The Advantages of Being Short Stacked in No Limit Texas Hold’em

The dynamics of no limit Texas Hold’em ring games means that buying in for the absolute maximum may not always be your best option. Forget what the so called experts tell you about always buying in for the maximum; this only applies if several factors are in place. Firstly you need to have an advantage and a significant advantage over some of your opponents for your big stack to do you any good. If you haven’t and you are –EV against the entire table then what is the point in buying in for the maximum?

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Also your earn rate depends on the stack sizes of your opponents as well. If you have a maximum $100 stack and your opponents only have between $20 and $40 then your extra $60 does you absolutely no good. In fact if you insist on playing your usual style in this environment then you may find that you are –EV in this game despite being technically better than your opponents. So why is this the case and how can technically inferior players be +EV against you? Well if you look at this from a slightly different angle then you will see that you are no longer playing the same poker game.

Your deep stacked skills do you no good whatsoever in this new environment and you are now in a game where hand strength and not other factors will decide who wins and who loses. Let us say that you decide to steal the blinds and raise to $3.50 with the 9s-8s. This is a hand that may be disguised but your late position raise was not disguised and looked exactly what it is…..a steal raise. So when a small stack shoves all in for say $15 with a hand like A-4 then this wasn’t really the result that you were looking for when you tried to steal the blinds.

When your opponents are prepared to shove either pre flop or on the flop then the game dynamics have changed and you no longer have the ability to be able to outplay your opponents on the turn and river. Also any mistakes that your opponents make are now small mistakes and not big ones. This is for the simple reason being that they only have small stacks and so small stacks can only make small mistakes in terms of how much they can lose.

This is certainly not to the advantage of a skilled deep stack player if you just happen to be one. You prefer turns and rivers not pre-flop and flop because it is on the turn and river where the real big money goes into the middle and any mistakes are going to be big mistakes. So the advantages then are pretty clear in that if you have a skill disadvantage over many of your opponents due to being a novice or inexperienced or both then playing with a short stack will leave you in a position where your more skilled opponents cannot get an advantage over you.



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Written By.

Robbie Strazynski

Robbie founded in 2009. A veteran member of the poker media corps, in addition to writing and video presenting, Robbie has hosted multiple poker podcasts over the years, including Top Pair, the Red Chip Poker Podcast, The Orbit, and the CardsChat Podcast. In 2019, Robbie translated the autobiography of Poker Hall of Famer Eli […]


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