Tips For Playing Against Short Stackers

7 Tips for Playing Against Short Stackers

Since Pokerstars has recently changed their policy and separated short stack games to 40-100BB games I have not had to play much against short stackers. This is a good thing and I commend Pokerstars on making these changes.

However, many people still play with short stackers on a regular basis, either through choice on Pokerstars or on another poker site without choice. Minraise from the buttonThe following guide is meant to show various ways in which you can minimize a short stacks edge against you and even become profitable against them!

1 Minraise or 2.5x the button when a shortstacker is in the blinds.

This is absolutely crucial. If you don't take anything other than this piece of advice from this article make sure you implement it if you have not already. When you min-raise the button you cut down on the shortstackers' immediate odds to shove all-in. In other words, they have to shove more to win less. Do this and they can't shove as wide of a range profitably compared to if you 3x or 3.5x raise pre-flop.

Minraise from the small blind

2 Minraise the small blind when its folded to you and there's a shortstacker in the big blind.

You should try to do this very frequently. Most of the these short stackers operate on a push/fold basis only. So even though they should basically never fold to a min-raise when they are in position, they do. Often without even considering the hand (they click auto-fold).

If the short stacker has stats like 16/16 , 21/20, etc., it means that they are almost always raising whenever they put money in the pot, so they will practically never flat your min-raise. Exploit this!

Trap with big hand

3 Trap short stackers with a big hand

Ok, so here is a scenario. Assume the cutoff raises to 3x, you flat on the button with KK and an aggressive shortstacker in the blinds shoves all-in. You immediately become giddy because this spot is awesome!

Not only have you persuaded the shortstacker to shove in light, your hand is super under represented, so the original raiser may flat or even raise to isolate the shortstacker. Either way, you have the opportunity to win a big pot. Genius.

Shove over steals

4 Shove over steals very wide.

Here is where you need to know your shortstacker. If you have a big sample on them, look at their "Attempt to steal" stat if you are using a HUD (heads-up-display), which you should be. Also look at their fold steal to 3b % stat. It is pretty common to see shortstackers who steal with over 40% frequency and fold to a 3bet 80% of the time. When you encounter short stackers like this you need to be re-raising their steals with a wide range of hands. Try to do it with hands that play decent against their calling range, such as suited and connected cards. But to be perfectly honest, a lot of the time you can 3bet them extremely light and your hand is almost irrelevant since you will be making money so often on the steal itself.

Do not call light

5 Do not call them super light.

If they shove over your early position raise they almost always have a very big hand. They are not shoving light in this spot. It's somewhat impossible to say exactly what you should call their shoves with but a lot of regulars are making a mistake by calling far too light. The best advice I can give is try to get a large sample on the shortstacker and figuring out his re-shoving range against your open range in different positions. Then figure out your calling range based on hands that have good equity against what he-s shoving whilst compensating for the dead money in the pot.

So in short - if they shove over what they should assume is a fairly strong hand, they probably have a very good hand and you should choose a better spot to call their all-in.

3-bet instead of calling

6 3-bet hands you might usually flat pre-flop.

What I mean by this is, if a regular raises from the cutoff and you have 67s, this hand is generally a flat-call if the blinds are both full stackers. However, when the blinds are short stackers, they are more likely to be shoving a wide range of hands over your flat due to all the dead money already in the pot. Therefore, we can represent a stronger hand while eliminating the risk of having to fold or call a short all-in with mediocre hands. In essence we're forcing the short stacker's hand. If they have a strong hand they will get all-in, if not they simply fold. They are never calling in this spot.

In this situation I prefer to add a hands like suited connectors into my 3-betting range. This can accomplish two things. For one, it helps disguise our strong hands when we 3-bet with one, and also it gives us a hand that plays well against other strong hands in the case of a short all-in. I may still flat medium pairs and then call it off when the shortstacker shoves, however. This is because the medium pairs will have a lot more equity against the short stacker's range compared to small suited connectors.

Be aware of short stack size

7 Use their stack size against them

Most short stackers play until they have doubled their stack and leave. Sometimes they end up playing a 30-39bb stack. This leads to some interesting situations. Firstly, if you min-raise the button and a shortstacker is in the blinds, for them to shove it becomes pretty huge overbet, which they are not happy to do with a wide range. Exploit this and start raising with a higher frequency when they are this stack size, you will get more folds. Also, when they have a 30-40bb stack size you can actually flat some of their raises and play post-flop poker.

These short stacked players are generally pretty bad post-flop. They will continuation bet too much and be incapable of playing turns and rivers as well as you. If you are a competent full stacker you will have no problem eating these players alive after the flop.

Return to the Strategy Section for more articles like this!