The Virtues of Playing the Short Stack

royalburrito24

royalburrito24

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I recently read an article in the CardPlayer magazine written by Ed Miller regarding the advantages of buying into a game short (maybe 1/2 the maximum buy-in), rather than buying in with the table maximum.
Here is the link to the article:
Card Player Magazine - The Virtues of Playing the Short Stack by Ed Miller

I will point out the key points and let a discussion begin amongst yourselves.

My opinion will be revealed later.
The Virtues of Playing the Short Stack

But if you have $100 and everyone else at the table has $1,000, you actually have an advantage over your opponents. In fact, you have two major advantages.

Ed Miller says that no matter what buy-in you make at a table, your opponents are only risking the amount of money you have in front of you (assuming opponents' stacks are larger). The fact that your opponents have 10-1 chip advantages give you the actual advantage in the game.

Avoiding Mixed Stack Play
  • Playing against mixed stacks complicates your decision-making and forces you to take compromises. Playing short allows you to face a uniform stack size (yours), and enables you to benefit when your opponents face mixed-stack situations.
Fold equity Without Risk
  • When you're a short stack, sometimes you can get fold equity without having to risk anything.
 
WVHillbilly

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Well, it's for very selfish reasons. You see if you don't have a full stack my implied odds go way down, so calling the shorties standard raise to set mine or with suited connectors doesn't make sense because I can't get the odds I need to try to hit my hand. Also generally good short-stackers are VERY tight and when they 3bet your standard bet you're likely going to have to make the decision on if you're willing to play for their whole stack.

Edit to add: You also can't bluff a shorty. They're generally committed preflop or on the flop at the very least.
 
Egon Towst

Egon Towst

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I have long been a believer in the advantages of buying in short, and (as you have discovered) some of the top pros and most expert theorists agree.

You are a brave man to try and persuade our fellow CCers, though. Most of them just can`t see it and get quite hot under the collar. I don`t understand why - you would not have thought that it was too advanced a concept for this place.
 
c9h13no3

c9h13no3

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In a loose game, where the standard raise is 5-8xBB's, and pots are usually multi-way, I like being short. In a standard low stakes cash game though, where you can usually get to a lot of flops cheaply, I think not buying in full is a pretty big problem.
 
PokerVic

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I'm sure there's a good way to play the short stack, and I've even done some reading about it. Of course, very few short stacks that I come across know how to play it.

I generally just see them as a wasted chair. I'll steal their blinds, but without implied odds, I'm not giving them any action without a monster.
 
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switch0723

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by buying in full you get the implied odds to call 3 bets with pp's then proceed to win stacks with sets vs overpairs. Buy buyin in short, you lose that possibility
 
BelgoSuisse

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Whatever the stack size is fine as long as you adjust your strategy to your stack size. And being the only short stack at a deep stack table can be extremely profitable if played correctly. But it does take away most of the fun of the game. Actually, I think if you wanted to write a bot to play the cash tables, the most simple way would be to make it buy in for the minimum and play good short stack strategy. And playing like a bot is no fun...

I think online poker rooms should actually make much higher minimum stack requirements to join a table. Short stacks tend to spoil the fun of deep stack games.
 
BelgoSuisse

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by buying in full you get the implied odds to call 3 bets with Party Poker's then proceed to win stacks with sets vs overpairs. Buy buyin in short, you lose that possibility

By buying in short, you cancel the implied odds for people to call your 3 bets. And at a table full of deep stacks that correctly raise with suited connectors and other similar hands that rely on implied odds, 3betting as a short stack becomes extremely lucrative.
 
royalburrito24

royalburrito24

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I think online poker rooms should actually make much higher minimum stack requirements to join a table. Short stacks tend to spoil the fun of deep stack games.

Poker rooms can't really do that just because it spoils some fun. It would create a pretty large outrage in the short-stacking community.
 
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switch0723

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By buying in short, you cancel the implied odds for people to call your 3 bets. And at a table full of deep stacks that correctly raise with suited connectors and other similar hands that rely on implied odds, 3betting as a short stack becomes extremely lucrative.

lol so true, i had never ever thought of it the other way around .
 
WVHillbilly

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Let them make short-stack only tables if they want to buy short (yes I know this mitigates their advantage). I've recently started playing only deepstack tables because the usual "Short-stack" there is 100 BBs. That I can deal with.
 
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vinceax

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good thread although most are agaisnt short-stackers, most of your collective comments make a good case for playing that way lol.
i think the biggest diadvantage ive found playing SS is finding urself pot committed to hands ud otherwise get away from with bigger stack
 
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moorjames

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I have a totally different way of playing short stacked. Its called "Tilt", anybody heard of it. Usually because I just lost a big hand:hahaha: :banghead:

Maybe I need to address this.. Lol. Great thread, keep them comin
 
BelgoSuisse

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good thread although most are agaisnt short-stackers, most of your collective comments make a good case for playing that way lol.
i think the biggest diadvantage ive found playing SS is finding urself pot committed to hands ud otherwise get away from with bigger stack

That's actually a virtue of playing SS, not a disadvantage. You will get pot committed on the flop at the latest. That means you can happily stack with TPTK.

I only disadvantage of playing as a short stack is that it's boring because you can only play high cards as you don't have implied odds to play small pairs and connectors, so it means you play quite tight. And you probably have a lower BB/100 than a good deep stacker. On the other hand, the tightness and the simplistic strategy means that you can multi-table much more heavily, so it may be worth more $/hour.
 
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sliver101

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the only problem i have had with buying in short stacked was i felt i was losing more/spending more when i had to rebuy in several times (due to godawful play on my part) the rebuying in seemed to give me a false sense of spending over what i had
 
F Paulsson

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Playing shortstacked is easy, and therefore profitable. Not AS profitable as playing a deep stack well, but if you're looking to build a bankroll safely, shortstacking no-limit games is a great way to do it.

It screws with the strategies of the regulars who don't always remember to check the stack sizes of the people around them and/or don't know how to adjust to a short stack. This is a large part of why there's money to win.
 
dj11

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This harkens back to a 'Rampage' fad from last year, where the notion was to come in short stacked, play very aggro, get out with a profit and move up a level. I believe NO ONE profited from that challenge. I also believe it may have been the aggro nature of that particular challenge.

It also reminds me of the last time I played a live ring game in a casino here in L.A. Small out of the way casino in the early 90's or so.

A guy who could have been Freddie Deebs or Sammy Farha (my mind can picture either), had a wad of 20's in his shirt pocket, while I had about $100 in chips in front of me, and was as big a fish as even I can now imagine.

It was a NL game, and every hand he could he would isolate me, max out his 20 bucks worth of chips, and put the screws to me. If he lost, in a heartbeat there was another 20 on the table, I could not out bet him, for his shirt was bulging with cash.

In essence I got rampaged, i.e. shortstacked to death.
 
zachvac

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As explained in the OP, short-stacking gives a mathematical advantage WHEN THERE ARE MULTIPLE DEEP STACKS. It comes from the fact that the deep stacks will be (correctly) playing pocket pairs and suited connectors to get implied odds on the deep stacks. The short stack can then get people to call with a much wider range than their own (which consists of high pocket pairs and high cards). Now I have seen a ton of short stacks and have yet to see one who understood the strategy. Usually they're the biggest fish at the table and instead of capitalizing on the fact that they can make people call with implied odds hands without getting implied odds, they'll end up either shoving any A or worse (saw K3 get shoved the other day, I happily called with my AA) or else limping, raising, or even calling a 3-bet with a low pocket pair. Had my KK setted from 44 with only like $3 behind to go in on the flop. So I really don't mind the current short-stackers, at least on pokerstars. But if someone uses a good strategy it gives them an advantage, thus the deepstackers a disadvantage.

It should also be noted, that although short-stackers have a mathematical advantage inherent in just short stacking, if you are better than most players at the table, there is a greater advantage in being a deep stack among other deep stacks because the implied odds they give you by just generally being bad and stacking with TPTK and such will give you a huge advantage. When you stack an opponent it will be the equivalent of a SS stacking 5 times, and you can be playing more hands thus having a better shot.

So in summary:

1. Buy in deep if you think you have a skill edge
2. Laugh at the horrible short stackers
3. If you ever find a good one, next time he goes to the bathroom, follow him in, shoot him, and come out and the disadvantage is gone (ok so I'm kidding about the 3rd one :))
 
zachvac

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This harkens back to a 'Rampage' fad from last year, where the notion was to come in short stacked, play very aggro, get out with a profit and move up a level. I believe NO ONE profited from that challenge. I also believe it may have been the aggro nature of that particular challenge.

It also reminds me of the last time I played a live ring game in a casino here in L.A. Small out of the way casino in the early 90's or so.

A guy who could have been Freddie Deebs or Sammy Farha (my mind can picture either), had a wad of 20's in his shirt pocket, while I had about $100 in chips in front of me, and was as big a fish as even I can now imagine.

It was a NL game, and every hand he could he would isolate me, max out his 20 bucks worth of chips, and put the screws to me. If he lost, in a heartbeat there was another 20 on the table, I could not out bet him, for his shirt was bulging with cash.

In essence I got rampaged, i.e. shortstacked to death.

Sounds like you should have been nut peddling against this guy. You weren't trying to bluff (you used the term "outbet") a calling station were you?
 
PokerVic

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So as not to be a hypocrite, I decided to try the whole "short stack pusher" technique. I bought in at the minimum at .25/.50 NL, and lost a few buy-ins (most because I wasn't playing the style correctly), but in a couple hours, I was nicely into profit. Considering that I've been unable to break even at .10/.25 NL using my normal playing style, this is a little disheartening, to say the least. :)
 
Egon Towst

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Now I have seen a ton of short stacks and have yet to see one who understood the strategy.

Agreed, they are thin on the ground at low stakes. Most often, at $50NL and below, the short-stacker is just a scared player with a small BR.

However, short-stacking confers a distinct advantage where the general level of ability at the table is good. For example, pro player Rolf Slotboom has written a lucid book about his success with short-stack play in high stakes Omaha games against other strong players.
 
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moorjames

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I can say that I used to play like that. Usually because I'm trying to double my table money. I'll buy in for about half, and try to double up for the Max table amount (as quick as possible). Maybe not all in's but big bets...
 
royalburrito24

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I am so excited about this thread :). Turned into exactly what I wanted it to turn into.
I was planning on blowing up and going on a rampage about how much I hated this article when I read it, but after seeing the replies I really have completely changed my mind.
It is obvious that I do not have the skill edge over most of the players I am up against, so maybe playing the short stack correctly is something that I should experiment with.
It seems like it would be a much more profitable way to play my ring games than buying in for the full amount, plus I can multi table with a little bit more ease. However, by playing the short stack, I may have to get rid of all the fun hands that I would normally play (low PPs, suited connectors, etc.)
 
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