We see short stackers in poker all the time. If these shorties played a proper strategy, they would be killing the big stacks at the table with the death of a thousand slices.
Why does Hold’em favor the short stackers?
The reason short stackers have the math advantage is that short and deep stacks are playing fundamentally different games at the same table. Deep stacks at the table can play for the rare hands like straights, flushes, and sets with the hopes of catching another deep stack for a big score.
For instance, at a $1-$2 game, a deep stack is perfectly happy to make or call a $10 raise with a pair of Sevens. This set-miner knows that seven out of eight times he will not hit a set and likely just fold after the flop. He can do this because the one time he hits a set he can pay for those $70 dollars in missed sets plus quite a bit more.
In a similar way, a deep stacker will call the $10 raise with hands like 89s and other implied odds hands. The range of speculative hands is relatively weak and wide, but it makes sense to try and hit big hands when the potential pay-off is big.
The short stacker can take advantage of this by jamming the action when he has a hand that is ahead of these ranges. When a short stacker does this, they take away all the implied odds of the big stacker. For instance:
In the pictured situation, the short stacker is bullying the big stacks with a squeeze. The pair of Sevens is hoping for a coin flip against the short stack and is frequently against a bigger pocket pair. His set-mining odds are trashed if he has to put in 1/6 of the deep stacks pre-flop. This is a bad situation for him. The suited connector also had his implied odds shattered and he knows he is behind all reasonable hands that the short stacker can have, It looks like the short stacker is going to pick-up $20 in this hand. This is 40% of his stack. This is why short stackers can be such a pain in the neck.
The question on the poker forum was how do you play against short stackers?
You need to realize that when you are in a hand with a short stacker, you are also a short stacker and should choose your range appropriately. The good news is that most short stackers are completely oblivious to the proper strategy and are using a flawed logic something like this:
- I like to win pots
- This suited connector can flop lots of good things, so I am going to limp or raise to get into this pot
- If I hit a draw, I can just jam it in and see the rest of the cards
This is great and all true, but it is fatally flawed because usually the flop will not bring a draw and the money they put into the pot pre-flop will not justify the odds of winning. In short, to beat short stackers, you need to be a better short stacker than them. How do you know they are a bad short stacker?
- Limping in with a short stack and folding to raises
- Entering pots with hands like suited connectors and small pocket pairs
- Calling raises instead of 3-bet jamming
The good news is most short stackers do this, or find themselves short stacked because they lost a big pot and are looking to gamble before they rebuy.
Go out there and out short-stack the short stackers and you will be fine.