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Tournament Poker - Playing The Shortstack

In a poker tournament being the short stack is never an enviable situation. The problem is that everyone, at some point in their poker career is going to be in a situation where they are the short stack in a tournament holding on for dear life. Being the short stack does not have to mean disaster, but it does require a player to make some changes to their game.


Rule number one when on the short stack is to not be playing speculative hands. You do not want to be limping in with small pairs, and set mining, or playing suited connectors hoping to hit your draw. You can not take the chance of getting re-raised for your whole stack when holding 3d-3h, or 8s-9s. You do not have enough chips to be playing to a draw in these situations.


You can not afford to be playing aggressive and raising a lot of hands in these situations. You do not have the stack to be betting out and folding on the flop. If you are going to be raising, expect to have to get all your chips in, as after the flop, you are going to be getting the odds to call with most hands. Ignore hands like Ks-8h, or As-8d, as you are going to find yourself with kicker issues if you hit.
Many players wait to long before they decide to make their move with the short stack. Doing this will cause your stack to dwindle from paying the blinds, and when you do take your shot, it wont mean much, and you are getting called by a lot of hands. You are simply not going to get called as often when you bet 4 times the pot with your all in as when you bet twice the pot. Also, if you let your stack get smaller, you are not going to really be doubling up effectively.


Unless you have a monster hand, you want to be the first one to bet. Remember, if you have been playing tight, players are not going to want to call your big bet, however when you have a monster, you need to play it for value. Also, never attempt to steal the blinds if you are not heads up, or on the button. You are much more likely to be called with a limper or two behind you, which is not the situation you want to be stuck in when you are trying to take down the blinds.


Do not get into pots thats have been raised and re-raised with a marginal hand just because of the potential to win a big pot. Of course as the short stack, triple, or quadrupling up would be a great thing, however you don;t want to be calling when you are way behind. Being in with a short stack is better than being out with no stack.


You must learn to play the short stack, both for your own play and to be able to realize what your opponents are thinking when they are on the short stack. Just remember to always make the best decision for your short stack situation, and you will not be on it long.

The Basics of Value Betting

Short Term EV

5 Mistakes When Playing Pocket Aces

Playing Irrational Players

Thinking Through Your Poker Hands

Playing Your Draws Aggressively

Basic Bankroll Management

Common Beginner Mistakes in Poker, Part 1

9 Reasons You Lose At Cash Games

NLHE Table Selection

Playing Middle Suited Connectors

Playing OverPairs

Avoiding Tilt

6 Tips for Beginners

Playing The Turn in NLHE

Tournament Play - Playing The Shortstack

Common Beginner Mistakes in Poker, Part 2