Long term online poker success with winning strategies – register for free!

The best strategies With the correct strategy, poker becomes an easy game. Our authors show you how to succeed, one step at a time.

The smartest thinkers Learn from and with internationally successful poker pros, in our live coaching sessions and in the forum.

Free poker money PokerStrategy.com is free of charge. Additionally there is free poker money waiting for you.

You are already a PokerStrategy.com member? Log in here!

StrategyNo Limit Midstack

Switching from the Short Stack Strategy to the Big Stack Strategy

Video: Click here


In this article
  • You need enough money to make the change
  • Larger winnings, greater losses
  • Make the change when you have enough money and experience

You learned the basics of the Short Stack Strategy in the beginner Section. You've probably played quite a few hands by now and have asked yourself if you can make the switch to the Big Stack Strategy (BSS). This article will help you answer this question.

Is the BSS for you, and if yes, when you can make the switch? You will learn about the advantages and disadvantages of both strategies, as well as some of the things you need to consider before making the change.

Before getting started, you must have a financial cushion before you can consider switching to the BSS. You're not going to find more action and the big money isn't waiting for you to come and take it. Playing with a big stack is a different type of poker. If you're looking for more action, try your luck at Fixed Limit; you can quickly find yourself in way over your head in No Limit. Switching to the BSS requires a lot of patience and discipline.

Video: Switching from the SSS to the BSS
Watch Video

You can also find the content of this article in a video. Just click on the image to the left to open a new window.

Make sure you also read the article  to get a better understanding of the strategy. Your bankroll will thank you for it.

How do the two strategies differ?

When you are playing SSS, you always buy in for 20 Big Blinds (BB). When you are following BSS, you always buy in for the maximum amount: usually 100 BBs. You can also take up to $50 to a NL $0.25/$0.50 table (NL50).

You always buy in for the maximum amount when you play the Big Stack Strategy.

One main difference is the number of betting rounds you actively take part in. You rarely have to make a difficult decision on the turn or river when you are playing the SSS, since you are usually all-in (or folded) by then.

You don't go all-in very often with a big stack because you have a lot more money in your stack. This is also why you continue to make decisions on the turn and river. Bet sizes are usually relative to the size of the pot, which means that wagers being made on the last two streets are much larger (and mistakes much more expensive). This is what makes playing BSS so much more difficult than SSS.

BSS is more difficult than SSS because you often have to make tough decisions on the turn and river.

What are the advantages and disadvantages?

The disadvantage of playing with a big stack is that you can lose a lot more money on a single hand. Mistakes are punished much more heavily than when you play with a short stack.

The Short Stack Strategy's main advantage is that it is easy to use and your mistakes don't set you back too far.

It follows logically that if you can lose a lot on a single hand you can also win a lot with a single hand. When playing Short Stack Strategy you can only win the same small amount, no matter how good your hand is. If your game is up to par, you can maximise your profits significantly by using the Big Stack Strategy.

Advantages and disadvantages

  Short Stack Strategy Big Stack Strategy
  • You can't lose a lot on a single hand
  • Easy to learn
  • Maximum profit
  • You can only win a small amount with a single hand
  • You can lose a lot more on a single hand
  • Much more difficult to learn

When can you make the switch?

You should read (and understand) all of the Bronze level articles before you switch to the BSS.

You should also be aware that your mistakes will cost you more dearly. The demands on your game are higher and you will also need a financial cushion in your bankroll. This means you will probably have to play a good 10,000+ hands with a short stack before you are ready.

In the end, it's up to you if you want to make the switch at all. You've seen the advantages and disadvantages of both strategies so pick the one that fits you best.


Saying that you will start winning larger pots due to the larger buy-ins and bet sizes is naïve. Don't forget that your losses can increase just as easily. No one wins all the time.

The first step in switching to the BSS is building your bankroll until you have a sufficient financial cushion. You can do this by using the SSS to earn the $50+ starting bonus that PokerStrategy.com offers.

The next step is taking the time to study the learning material on the BSS. Simply sitting down at a table with a full stack and hoping for the best is the best way to squander the financial cushion you worked so hard to stock up.

This article shows you that you don't have to switch to the Big Stack Strategy if you're not comfortable in doing so. You can make it to the higher limits with the SSS if you work hard enough - the same way as you can get there with using the BSS.

If you're thinking of making the change, take the time to build up your bankroll, read all the articles and participate in forum discussions with other members who have already made the change.


Comments (15)

#1 mouse89, 05 Oct 08 15:02


#2 SadisticNature, 02 Jan 09 19:17

You should also discuss the advantages of BSS vs multitabling SSS.

#3 SadisticNature, 02 Jan 09 19:18

Oh and the fact that learning both strategies is essential if you want to be able to play tournaments successfully.

#4 Mistyboyo, 09 Jan 09 08:31

Well, i do agree that SSS is easier to play. Mistakes u can make in SSS are not that harmful as they are in BSS.....but BSS is much more competitive....so everyone consider pros/cons...:D

#5 steIIstuI, 21 Feb 09 21:27

so when you play BSS you only play at one table ? or you can play mutitables as well ?

#6 Sariyski, 09 Mar 09 11:21

Like they said, you can multitable if you feel well with it (since you have to make more complicate decisions/time).

#7 Mstlc, 13 Apr 09 13:56

You can easily still quad table BSS in full ring games.
It's imo way more fun to play BSS since you can maximize your winning from good hands and exploit mistakes from villains a lot more.
SSS is good for beginners to get a better understanding of hand values etc but in the end just because you make profit playing SSS, doesn't mean you're a good poker player. Everyone and I mean everyone can learn the simple rules for SSS pre-flop play. Playing post flop with 90BB's behind is something entirely different.

#8 Smileyphil, 18 Jun 09 18:28

"Mistakes u can make in SSS are not that harmful as they are in BSS"

I'm not sure if I agree with this. SSS is based on small statistical advantages. Raising preflop at the wrong time SSS is a quick way to lose all your money.

BSS gives you a second chance. You can raise incorrectly preflop, cbet the flop and still get away from the hands without losing a significant amount.

I guess what I'm saying is I think mistakes are very harmful in both strategies. =D

"Oh and the fact that learning both strategies is essential if you want to be able to play tournaments successfully."

I wouldn't have thought the SSS would help you very much in a tournament. If your stack is more than 20BB then you cannot really use SSS because your playing fairly deep. If your stack is below 20BB then playing SSS is a sure way to blind off the rest of it. Successful tournament players are much more aggressive than the ring game strategy.

#9 ngominhhoang132, 25 Jun 09 16:03

thank you but how to have a bronze rank?

#10 BlackCmafia, 09 Jul 09 23:13

chose a playing room you want to play in, you must be 18yo, and write your real name and adress =)

#11 theboydave, 20 Jul 09 16:38

if your starting out you are going to make some mistakes so make them at sss so you dont blow bankroll.I think stick to sss first and once fixed weaknesses and gained the experience can move 2 bss.

#12 inf4my, 02 Oct 09 09:08

I recently had to switch from BSS to SSS. I'm doing it backwards lol :)

BSS was working well for me at NL10, but when I moved up to NL25, the more aggressive players and variance really punished my bankroll and I lost 14 buy-ins very quickly.

When you're running bad, it can be devestating to lose 100BB over and over again to bad beats. For this reason I've switched to SSS temporarily to help me cope with the variance while I regroup.

#13 Muscamatei, 25 Oct 09 02:06

Each strategy represents a style of play....sss is a rock...bss is loose aggresive....therefor...hte question is....witch tipe of player ar you.....and witch kind of player do you want to become???
All the good players i've seen so far.....use bolth kind of strategys...in a almost perfect combination..

Conclusion: Learn SSS....play the **** out of it....let it become second nature...learn to take notes...and study realy realy hard....and when you reached the higher limits.....then try to learn.....an master the BSS...you cand do it...by spliting youre allready large bankroll ( hope so )....and using a much smaller part for BSS training.

PS: pardon my english..

#14 simoska, 01 Jun 10 18:33

''If you're looking for more action, try your luck at Fixed Limit.''
is it just me or this sentence makes nosense at all?

#15 nba79, 16 Sep 10 02:16

It has, he means that if you want to play all the hands, better play fixed limits because if you play all the hands in no limits is the best way to loose