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What is the Short Stack Strategy?
What do you need before you get started?
The Short Stack Strategy is probably the easiest poker strategy to use and the hardest poker strategy to beat. It might well be unbeatable.
This strategy is ideal for beginners; it is easy to learn and a great way to build up your bankroll. It's also the easiest strategy to use when multi-tabling (which can be a great way to clear a bonus).
If you understand the short stack strategy, you will understand a lot about the game of poker. You can learn all about how the short stack strategy works and how you can use it for profit in our 3-article series. This, the first, lays down the basics.
Watch these lessons on video:
The Short Stack Strategy is also available as video. There is a video dedicated to each article: The Basics, Playing Before the Flop, and Playing After the Flop.
|Basics||Before the Flop||After the Flop|
When does the strategy work?
The strategy only works when you have at least 7 opponents at the table.
- Only sit down at tables with at least 7 active players.
- If players leave, and you have less than 7 opponents remaining, leave the table.
Tip: Watch out for other players using the short stack strategy. Too many short-stackers will reduce your profit-potential at that table. Don't play if there are more than 2 other short-stackers at the table.
How much money will you need?
The strategy will work and be profitable over time if you stay disciplined and follow a few simple rules that tell you:
- How much money you need in your poker account to play at a given limit
- How much money you should take to a table
- When you should buy more chips, because your chip-stack is too small
- When you should leave the table, because your chip-stack is too big
This is all a part of “Bankroll Management” (bankroll = How much you have in your poker account). Effective bankroll management is nearly as important as the cards you are dealt. Your gameplay only makes up 50% of your success - the other 50% is bankroll management.
Your bankroll management
The following chart gives you some concrete figures to understand this concept. You can also find it in the Strategy Overview, which you can download and print. Having it handy will make playing at the tables a lot more comfortable.
You can see how much money you have to have in your bankroll (poker account) in order to play at a given limit. You also see how much money you should take to the table, at what point you should buy more chips, and at what point you should leave the table.
Your bankroll management
Examples to explain the above chart
Your starting limit, NL10 (0.05/0.10): As per the chart above, you start playing at the limit NL10 (0.05/0.10).
Your first step up the ladder: Once you have built up $120 in your account, you can move up to the next limit, NL20 (0.10/0.20). Some rooms don’t offer this limit, instead they offer the limit NL25 (0.15/0.25). In that case, you need to have at least $150 in your account before you can move up to the next limit.
Buy-in with $2: When you sit down at a NL10 (0.05/0.10) table, you buy-in for $2, as you can see in the chart. If your stack falls to less than $1.50, you buy some more chips so you can maintain a $2 stack. If you make a profit and have more than $2.50 in your stack, leave the table and look for a new one.
Always wait for the big blind to come to you
You will often sit down at a table and see that a few more hands must be played before the big blind comes to you.
The software will ask if you wish to post a big blind out of turn and join play immediately. Do not do this! One single big blind may not sound like much, but they add up over time.
You can usually click a check box next to 'Wait for Big Blind' to tell the software that you wish to wait for the big blind to come to you before joining play.
So far, you have learned...
- ... that you need at least 7 opponents.
- ... that you start playing at the limit: NL 10 (0.05/0.10).
- ... how much money to take to the table, when to buy more chips, and when to leave the table.
- ... that you should never post a big blind out of turn, but wait for the big blind to come to you.
Your goal is to get a strong hand, make as much profit as you can with it, then take the money, and run.
The next article will teach you what a strong hand is and how to play when you have one:
Click for more information.