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How to Play Shortstack

April 13, 2023
by PokerStars Learn

With the right strategy and patience, short stack poker does not have to be a tough. This video, from PokerStars Team Pro Lex Veldhuis, highlights some key tips to managing short stack poker tournaments, offering guidance on how you can double up at the right times, and even thrive when playing at shallow stack depths.

Understanding Ranges and Representation

Lex emphasizes the importance of understanding your opponent’s ranges based on their pre-flop action. He discusses how to determine what hands opponents are likely to show up with after checking, calling, or raising from different positions. Using this information, you can determine what hands might call you, or try to bluff you. Work this to your advantage and you can increase your stack size.


Patience is Key 

With shallow stack sizes, patience is critical. Lex highlights how easy it is to make mistakes when you only have a few big blinds left, and how much that can cost you. The key is waiting for spots where you have a high chance of doubling up. With smaller stacks, it’s easier to lose everything on one hand so keeping patience is key to maintaining your stack.


Playing the Blinds 

The blinds are tricky spots in short stack games, but Lex shares some tips for navigating them. From those positions, you can defend more widely since your investment is small. Despite this, always be prepared to fold if you miss the flop. You can also consider shoving over basic calls. When players do this, they could typically have a wide range of hands, so it can work in your favor. Pay attention to each player and see if they have shown a tendency to limp strong hands. Keep a note on this by adding a note to the player on the table.


Picking Your Spots

Perhaps the most important concept is picking your all-in spots wisely. You want to find spots where you have a high chance of getting called by worse hands, so you can double up and work your way back to a more comfortable stack size. Look for positions where limpers or loose players have entered the pot, as their ranges will be more extensive. Also, watch for medium strength hands that still have high potential to be the best hand. Ensuring this across the table can help maintain your stack size.

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