Playing the Short Stack in a Poker Tournament

Something which every tournament poker player will face at some stage is dealing with a short stack in the later stages of a poker tournament. You can find yourself being short stacked after losing a big pot or simply because you’ve been card dead while the increasing blinds have been putting pressure on your stack. By learning how to play the short stack correctly, you can pull yourself back into contention of winning the tournament.

If you have a short stack you are not in a position to raise and then fold your hand. Reason being the pot odds that you’re offered to call any of the subsequent raises are too good to pass up. When short stacked you should be in shove/fold mode. Instead of making a small raise and calling off with your stack, you should be looking to put your opponents to a decision. This will allow you to steal the blinds uncontested, which is obviously a great result.

Considering when you should try and steal the blinds with a short stack are two important factors. First is your position at the table. If most players involved in the hand have already folded then it provides a much better opportunity for stealing blinds. With fewer players left to act, there is less of a chance another player will have a strong hand they can call your shove with.

The chip stacks of the remaining players who still have to act in the hand is another crucial consideration. Large stacks may be more likely to call with weak hands because they can afford to gamble more. While short stacked players and even medium sized stacks need a much better hand to call off with because they know if they lose the hand it puts them in a desperate situation.

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