Deep Stack Poker Guide

What does it mean to be "deep stacked" in a poker cash game? And once you get a stack that qualifies as "deep," what can you do with it to maximize your winnings?

Firstly, let's look at the meaning of "deep stacked poker". In a no limit Hold'em cash game you can consider yourself deep stacked when the value of the chips in front of you is significantly greater than 100 big blinds. This provides some interesting strategy considerations, so let's examine how you need to adapt your poker style when playing deep.

Here are seven tips to improve your deep stacked poker play.


Tip 1

Re-evaluate Hand Values

As your stack starts to grow, you’ll need a great hand to “stack off” and risk the whole thing in an all-in showdown. Generally, hands such as top pair with an ace kicker are rarely good enough when stacking off for 300 big blinds. That means that hands like AKo or AQo drop in value, while hands such as 89s gain in value.

You might shove with AK with a short stack, but you shouldn't be jeopardizing a big stack without a made hand. Be patient, and get your money in good.

Tip 2

3-Bet Wider from Late Position

Once you have some weight on the felt, you can throw it around a little by 3-betting more frequently, but pay attention to position.

When you have the advantage of position and a deep stack, you want to 3-bet a very wide range of hands. Even if your opponent is holding AK or QQ, they will not be overly enthusiastic about stacking up against you when they are also deep. If you 3-bet a wide range of prospective hands in position, even when our opponent does call, you will find yourself in very good shape.

Against weaker players you can widen your range of 3-bet hands considerably. Any suited court card will make a fine 3-bet, in position, keeping in mind the table composition and the depth of your stack. You might even start including mid suited connectors and suited aces if you feel confident.

Out of position, more caution is needed. Generally, you want to 3-bet bluff less frequently when your opponents are adapting to the deeper stack sizes. The deeper the stacks, the narrower your all-in range gets – and that makes you more vulnerable to 4-bet bluffs.

In addition, you are also going to see your opponents’ flatting ranges widen significantly, and hence your fold equity reduced.

However, the above assumes your opponents will adapt correctly. If they don't, then carry on as normal and replace any KTo hands with their prospective 78s equivalents.

Tip 3

Be Wary of Stacking Off Preflop

As a general rule, the deeper the stacks are, the stronger the hand you need to stack off – or shove – preflop. At 150 big blinds and above reconsider shoving with AK or QQ. If someone 3-bets you from the blinds when you hold one of these hands, you may be best flat calling them. Also, if someone open raises from under the gun while you hold that hand, calling might still be your best option.

When you get to 200 big blinds and above, even the mighty KK is no longer a foregone conclusion, and you may want to take the same precautions before committing your whole stack.

Stack size is not the only factor to consider, though. Take a good look at your opponent, your position, the meta-game and prior actions. In general, when you are holding a premium hand that isn’t AA, think carefully about whether you would be comfortable stacking off before you 3-bet or 4-bet.

Tip 4

Position is Even More Important

The deeper the stacks, the more important position will be. You'll want to tighten up UTG and open more hands from the button. You should flat call more when in position, and less when out of position.

Tip 5

Post-flop Aggression is Key

When you have a draw to the nuts, you want to play it very aggressively. But you can apply aggression with considerably fewer outs than you normally would as your implied odds, and fold equity, will be better in a deep pot.

The reverse applies when your outs are tainted: As2s on a Kc Ks Qs board is not something you want to 3-bet the flop with, as a lot of the hands that would call 300 big blinds will have you drawing dead.

Think about how uncomfortable you would feel in the villain's shoes when you are raised out of position playing for three buy-ins. Threaten your opponent’s entire stack and expect great fold equity.

Tip 6

Adjust Your 3-Bet Calling Range

In position, you can flat call 3-bets much wider with a deep stack than you can when 100 big blinds deep. Once again, you should be favoring hands like A9s over KQo. You can generally set mine 3-bet pots to your heart’s content when deep enough.

Tip 7

4-Bet Bluffing is More Effective

When your opponent’s all-in range is tighter, you can expect your 4-bet bluffing to become far more profitable. You can 4-bet bluff far more often with hands that are not strong enough to flat call a 3-bet. Axo/Kxo make very good candidates as they halve the likelihood of a villain having AA/KK respectively.

A word of warning: your stacking range has narrowed, yet your bluffing range has increased, and a strong, observant opponent can exploit this. If you feel your opponent has adjusted and started 5-bet bluffing, you will need to calm down on the 4-bet bluffs and extend your value range. Whether you have 250 big blinds or not, with the right history AK can suddenly be a viable stacking option once again.

Finally, don’t 4-bet bluff calling stations or less experienced players who are more likely to call your bluffs.


Poker player with a small stack of chips.

If there are more phones on the table than you have chips, it's safe to say you are not deep stacked. (Image: Chris Wallace)

Deep Stacked Poker – Example Hands

Let's look at some examples of how deep stack poker strategy can be put to use. Remember, the main concern is your opponent, so it is their actions and meta-game that are going to primarily determine what you are going to do.

Example 1 

In a 6-Max game with $0.50/$1 blinds, you are in the big blind with $250 in chips, while your main opponent – a good, aggressive player also holding $250 in chips – is on the button. You are dealt ATo, the button raises to $3 and the small blind folds. What do you do?

Remember, you are deep stacked and at a positional disadvantage.

If you were 100BBs deep then this hand would possibly be strong enough for a flat call or 3-bet. As you are 250BBs deep, however, ATo becomes a weaker hand and your positional disadvantage to an aggressive player makes this a clear fold.

Example 2

In another 6-Max $0.50/$1 cash game, you are in the cutoff position (one position to the right of the dealer) with a stack of $300 in chips, holding JTs.

The UTG player, who is also deep stacked but isn’t a strong player, and who has been consistently raising lots of hands before the flop, raises to $4. The action folds around to you. What do you do?

Given your late position and the fact that your opponent is regularly raising preflop – while also exhibiting poor post-flop play – you could call. Certainly, with a stack of 100 big blinds, that would be a fair play.

However, given your positional advantage, deep stack and incredible implied odds for when your hand hits, a 3-bet to $16 would be quite reasonable.

Example 3

Another example from a 6-Max $0.50/$1 cash game: you are dealt AKo on the button and have a healthy stack of 220BBs.

You open to $2.50, the small blind folds and the big blind 3-bets to $9. This player has only recently sat down at the table and you don't know much about them. In the few hands you have seen them play they have demonstrated some tight aggressive tendencies, winning a large pot in the process to double their stack to a similar size as your own. What do you do?

You could shove all-in and take your chances. While you do have positional advantage, you'd be throwing it away with a shove. Perhaps if you had 100 big blinds, you might be tempted.

But against a player you know little about, as well as being deep stacked 220 big blinds, the safer option would be to flat call and use your positional advantage post-flop.


Conclusion: More, More, More

I’m sure you are seeing a common theme here by now. When deep:

  • Play more prospective hands

  • Play more positionally

  • 3-bet much more in position

  • Play your draws more aggressively

Improve your game further by checking out even more poker strategies and guides or bring it back to basics with the poker rules for other poker variants.

Return to the Strategy Section for more articles like this!