The ultimate short-stack poker strategy

Posted on by gambling guru

Short Stack Poker StrategyLearn how your short-stack can become a menace to deep-stacks who know that they might be forced to play large side pots out of position. The more you are able to frustrate and provoke the other players, the more successful your strategy will be.

Who can benefit from this strategy?

  • Amateur players who need a way to play online poker that helps them avoid making difficult decisions on later streets (try for some soft poker games)
  • Seasoned players who want to mix up their game or reduce the massive swings of deep-stacked play
  • Multi-tablers or players who need want to streamline their game in order to play more tables

Prerequisites for the strategy to work

The table has to have at least 6 – 7 players. If there are fewer players at the table, sit out or stand up.

If there are other short-stack players at the table, this will inhibit you from making the correct moves. If there is more than one other short-stacked player, get up and find a better table.

Do not stay too long. It is harder to play profitably if other players have adapted to your presence and figure out your strategy.


You will buy in for 20 BBs.

Never limp pre-flop or flat-call a raise. You are either opening with a raise or shoving all-in over the top. Every time you successfully pick up dead money or force a fold, you are adding a considerable percentage to your chip-stack. You need to take control of every coin-flip situation. In some cases it possible to quickly double your stack without ever having to see a showdown.

You can check from the big blind in the unlikely event of a limped pot.

Make your decisions pre-flop and do not be tempted to ever open your range. Play an extremely tight and aggressive game. Only raise or re-raise premium hands.

Do not try to set-mine. With a short stack, you will never the odds to try flop a set. You can open with higher pocket pair from late position, but you can never call a raise.

If you double your money, you will leave immediately. If you drop below 15BB, you need to rebuy.

Your hand range

The range below is only a guideline. You will need to study specific opponents at the table in order to exploit their game by adjusting your range. For example: In position, you can steal from tight players with a wider range and you can shove on loose players who enter too many pots.

99 – AA, AK and AQ. These hands can be raised or shoved to a raise. It is better to get it in as early as possible to maximize your fold equity.

If you see a flop

On the flop, you cannot check-call unless you flop a monster and want to evoke a bluff from another player. You are either shoving the remainder of your chips (for value or as a semi-bluff) or checking with the intention of folding.

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