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September 19, 2009

Playing Short Stacked No Limit Texas Hold em Poker

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Written by: Chris Wilcox
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Playing NL Hold’em short stacked is quite obviously not where you want to be. I would rather be sitting with the big stack any day, but let’s face it, if you play much poker, you will find yourself short-stacked at various times. What I see way too many players do when this happens, (especially online) is immediately ship their chips to another player on the first junk hand that comes along. It is probably a form of “tilt” and it is basically giving up saying “I don’t have enough chips to compete so I am going to give them all away right here and go play another game!” This is not a smart thing to do, and my strategy is ALWAYS “Don’t Give Up!” As long as you have chips left in tournament play, you have a chance. Albeit not a great one, but you still have a chance. You have already paid your entry and you are not getting it back unless you finish in the money, so don’t give up.

I just played a higher dollar 18-player SnG on Full Tilt where I got to the final table with a pretty decent stack when disaster struck and I found myself short-stacked. There were 6 players left, the 2 leaders had about $7k-$8k, the other 3 had around $3k and I had less than $1k. Not a good spot to be in! However, instead of getting in a hurry and flushing my chips down the drain, I took my time. I notice that the others were being very tight waiting for me to go out (which was dumb since the bubble popped at 4 not 5) and they were not playing aggressively at all, particularly the big stacks. So, I sat back and waited for some decent cards. The blinds were high and I actually got down to $285 chips before I was dealt A-To. I tripled to $1100 again.

I then lucked out when my Q-4 in the BB paired a 4 with a big stack in and I more than doubled up. Now I was back in the game and had some chips to throw around. To make a long story short, I eliminated each of the 3 medium stacks and put myself in 1st place with over $13k in chips while the 2 big stacks sat and watched. I also ended up eliminating both of them to finish in 1st place. I went from $285 with 6 players left to 1st place!

I do not share this to brag, but to simply illustrate 2 points: 1. Don’t give up! It is never over until you are out of chips and comebacks are possible. This will not happen every time, but it can, why throw your chips away without trying?

2. If you are in a SnG and near the bubble, don’t sit there hoping everyone else will do the work. Let’s face it, if the big stacks had played with any sense, I never would have been allowed to make this comeback. When you have another player down, step on their neck and don’t let them up or your big chip lead just might evaporate and you may end up losing to some short stack you shouldn’t have even still been playing!

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