Beating Short Stacks
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How To Beat Short Stackers

Poker Bonus > Poker Strategy > Beat Short Stacks

At most no limit tables, you'll run into at least one person with less than half a buyin (50 big blinds) at the table. These players are incredibly annoying because you don't get to play much postflop poker against them.

Short stackers actually have it pretty good because most poker players don't adjust to them properly. Read on to learn how to adjust to short stackers and turn them into no-stackers.

Hand Values

The biggest adjustment you have to make against short stackers is in your valuation of starting hands. When you're playing against people with normal stacks, small pocket pairs and suited connectors can come in handy at the right time. Against short stackers, these hands are completely worthless because you don't have any implied odds (more on that in a second).

When you're playing against short stackers, you should only play hands with high card power. The chances that you get in an all-in situation on the flop or before the flop are high against short stackers so you want to play hands that have the best chance at winning straight-up all in contests.

The hands that perform the best in all in situations are the hands with the biggest cards. Big pocket pairs perform great in all-in situations and so do AK and AQ. You won't win every time, but these hands perform the best.

You can add other hands like small and medium pocket pairs to your arsenal but you have to be careful in doing so. It all depends on how the short stacker plays. And when I say small pocket pairs in this case, I am not talking about playing them to hit sets.

Pocket pairs perform pretty well in all-in situations against all random hands except for bigger high card hands. Hell, even against AK, 22 is still a 51% favorite. So if you have a short stacker going in way too often, you can play your small pocket pairs and gain a slight advantage.

But remember, that's only against the loosest short stackers. Many short stackers play a tight enough game that it's not profitable to get it all-in with anything less than big pocket pairs and AK / AQ.

Beating Short Stacks

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Implied Odds

You don't have much, if any, implied odds against short stackers. What this means is that you can't play weak starting hands at the beginning of a hand for the chance to hit a big hand and win a bunch of money.

This is why hands like small pocket pairs and suited connectors perform poorly against short stackers. You can't play these hands and hope to hit something big because there's not much money there to win.

With short stackers, you have to scrap all your implied odds hands and stick with hands that offer immediate pot odds. Again, that's why we stick with high card power against short stacks. High cards aren't guaranteed to win by any means but they perform the best in all-in situations.

Play Straightforward

Since you can't use implied odds to your advantage, there's really no point in playing anything other than a straightforward game against shortstacks. Stick with strong starting hands and look for strong hands after the flop.

Many shortstacks play with this tournament mindset where they think they should go all-in with hands like AQ to win the blinds and catch the big stacks off guard. Well if you're playing a straightforward game and have people pushing all-in with those kinds of hands, you know exactly what you need to do: fold your weak hands and play your strong hands.

Multi-Way Pots

Short stackers are really annoying because they screw up multi-way pots all the time. Your strategy against short stacks and big stacks should be completely different. But when you have both of them playing in the same hand, it can be tough to make the right adjustments.

To come out ahead in mixed multi-way pots, you should play according to your anti-shortstack strategy. Don't try to get tricky against the big stack if there's a shortstack in the pot with you.

Just play your normal tight, anti-shortstack game in these situations. You won't get much action from the big stack if you try to get tricky and the shortstack goes all-in anyways - so you might as well go after the shortstack.

In addition to that, big stacks often misadjust to shortstacks. If you happen to be in the pot when a big stack is making bad plays against a short stack, you stand to make a lot of money if you have a strong hand.

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