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Why do people play short stacks in cash games?

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  • Why do people play short stacks in cash games?

    I don't understand the theory behind playing a 40 or 50 BB starting stack in cash games. I know some good regular players play as "short stackers". Why do they do this? What are the perceived advantages?

    Thanks for any insights

  • #2
    It can be awkward to play against because short stacks will generally put pressure on by shoving relatively light or 3betting 4betting light and you don't have the odds to do much.

    Like opening AJ in LP and they raise or shove on you. Are you really happy getting it in with them for 40/50bb?

    It's easier if heads up as you are both effectively short stacking in that instance. The trouble is when you get sandwiched between shortstacker and another big stack. Like calling SS shove with AK, then getting shoved on for 100bb by big stack behind, it's far from ideal.


    • #3
      I'm not an expert on short stacking, but here's my take. The basic concept relies on fold equity. A "standard" cash player buys in for 100bbs. His strategy is to see the flop, in position, with a playable hand. He doesn't want to risk a large portion of his stack on a cointoss, but rather do most of his big betting postflop with a strong made hand. For example, my general advice to starting players would be to fold anything except for KK and AA when facing a preflop shove. A short stacker puts this to their advantage by often 3 betting all in preflop in spots where they expect to have a decent amount of fold equity.

      Mathwize, the shortstacker is shoving a range of hands that he expects to be no worse than a 40/60 underdog. In addition, he expects to have let say at least 30% fold equity. The fold equity combined with the 40% chance of winning the hand works out to be profitable in the long run.

      I tend to view short stackers similar to tournament play where you are shoving a wide range of hands more for the fold equity than for the actual hand strength.

      There are winning players who use this style, but it is a high variance approach. Moreover, you don't learn much about postflop play with it.

      Note: It is important to quickly recognize who is a short stacking reg and who is just a short stacked weak player that hasn't topped up after losing when sitting at the table. I typically avoid hands with the good short stacker while going out of my way to play hands with the weak player...

      Personally, I wouldn't recommend short stacking.

      Roland GTX


      • #4
        Short stacking on the correct site can be very profitable, as roland says good short stackers can be difficult to play against, on stars i think most short stackers would be losing players even at the micro,s because the player base is solidish, im a member at automatic poker wich is geared at short stacking at 30bb - Jim who runs the site is a big winner and has a totally different view on how to play short stack, its not a all-in or shove strategy, but a small ball approach wich is both fun and entertaining, it also gives players the chance to player higher stakes than they normally would - i like to play it from time to time and for me its been very profitable.


        • #5
          another reason could be to be able to play more tables (and hence earn more vpps) on a lower roll/less risk per hand

          ie if someone had $100 budget to play with, they could 4x 25 it, or they could 4x 12.50, 4x 5, and 4x 2.50

          rake is capped so theyd still make the same number of vpps at the 25 tables as they would full stacking (at least i think this is the case, correct me if im wrong) - and then they'd make additional vpps from the halfstacked 10 and 5 dollar tables


          • #6
            Ahh, it makes more sense to me now. There are a couple of guys who play short stacks on the site I play on (I'm in the US so can't play on Pokerstars, and I think the player pool where I play is like five people deep) and I just wasn't sure what the thought process was from their side of things. I haven't ever happened upon any videos or reading material related to short stacking. Thanks all! umbup:



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