In Bodgan's answer to Is it advantageous to buy into a NL cash game at the maximum amount? I read:

There is even a known, mechanical strategy, called short stack strategy, designed to play if you have little money behind.

I would like to see this strategy (preferably for NLHE). Could you explain it to me? Where can I find it on the web / in the literature?

Also, if you have played with such a strategy, I would like to read about your experience / opinion / etc. Thanks!

3 Answers 3


Your advantage when shortstacking versus multiple opponents with bigger stacks comes from a couple of basic factors:

  • It is easier for beginners. The calculations are a lot simpler because you only have to look at your opponents preflop behaviour and playing style. You don't end up with hands that have some value but are not really good in a big pot on the turn versus a bet/raise and no idea what your opponent is doing here.

  • Opponents with bigger stacks will try to outplay each other by entering hands preflop with speculative holdings from time to time. You can exploit this by playing only very strong hands preflop and forcing them to fold and leave the rest of the money they already invested on the table or to call with a worse hand than you have.

  • Opponents will bluff and semibluff (weak hand + draw played aggressively) each other from time to time in bigger pots. When you shortstack you are all in preflop or on the flop and you can thus not be taken off of your hand and you will win the main or the side pot a lot of time when one bigger stack (semi-)bluffs his opponent out of a hand when you are already all in.

It all depends on how your opponents adjust to you though and if you sit with many shortstacks and only a few big stacks then the last 2 factors won't really come into play as much.

I hope this was useful.


  • As far as I know, short stack strategy does not have bluffs and semibluffs in its arsenal. Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 19:12
  • 1
    That's not entirely true as you can push people out preflop, but I was talking about opponents bluffing and semibluffing anyway.
    – superuser0
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 19:18
  • @Bogdan: Bluffs are still possible. If you didn't hit on the flop and you are heads-up, you should try to bluff your opponent out of the pot every now and then.
    – azimut
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 5:33
  • AK lends itself to a lot of bluffing and semi bluffing.
    – Ray Tayek
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 0:48

Here is a good starting point for what you are looking for.

  • Thanks for the pointer. It's a good starter, probably, but I've to say that I don't like the pokerstrategy articles too much. I guess they are aimed at a large (willing to pay) audience, so they have to dumb down everything and repeat the same basic things again and again. I'd prefer some source not only telling me the "how", but also the "why".
    – azimut
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 9:31
  • And you want to know why short stack strategy works? Simple: because high cards beat low cards. Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 9:47
  • Isn't this true for any strategy?
    – azimut
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 9:51
  • No. I said "high cards", not "high combinations". As I said in that answer, playing short stacked forces you to win now, which means that you'll mostly show down high pairs/cards. It's more likely to see KK vs QQ than KK vs 66 which hoped to flop a set and missed. If you have more money behind, you can call with 66, hoping to flop a set and stack your opponent. If this happens, you'll see KK vs 66, but with a 6 on the flop. Here, low cards beat high cards. Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 10:06
  • Bogdan: Thanks. This is exactly the kind of argument I'm missing in the pokerstrategy article.
    – azimut
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 11:00


  • 1/3 NL holdem  I take 200$ preferably 300$ , I sit down and buy in for 60$ (which is usually the lowest possible) , I play a very very tight range and dont worry about position at all at this point as it's irrelevant FOR NOW!!, I FOLD OUT EVERYTHING UNTIL I GET ONE OF THE TOP 10 PREFLOP HANDS, as in JJ,QQ,KK,AA, AK,AQ ,AJ, KQs, maybe TT, I THEN RAISE IT TO 25 OR 30 , I ALWAYS GET BETWEEN 1 AND 3 CALLERS AT LEAST ALWAYS!. The flop comes and I consider it completely irrelevant weather I hit something or not and and my position and I then shove the rest of my 60$ in, I ALWAYS GET AT LEAST 1 USUALLY ALL 3 CALLERS , the other three keep betting on side pot and usually one of them folds sometimes 2 and it ends up me vs who ever makes it to showdown, the caller at the end usually has anything from a strait or flush to bottom pair I'm usually crushed by all of them and I always turn my hand so everyone can see it first and the caller takes all my chips, so I go "broke", i pull another 60 out of wallet and buy back in for 60 and pretty much repeat the same thing i just did prior sometimes i do hit and win the pot usually i lose tho do to my positional disadvantage and my poor postflop play, no win or lose if I win it usually puts me at about 150 ef and I continue this strategy unless I think the first couple times made my point but most of times I continue and get my 125 in chips taken again on some premium preflop hand that gets beat by straight ,top pair or flush , then I pull 100 dollars out of my wallet and buy back in again... now I completely change my strategy I keep a very tight preflop range utg and in middle position when I do get a hand in my range in early position I now only open to 6$ to 15$ tops usually 10$.. not the 25$ or 30$ like befor..I ALWAYS GET 1 TO 3 OR MORE CALLERS USUALLY 3 SOMETIMES A RAISE. I CALL THE RAISES AND SEE FLOP.. OUT OF POSITION IF I HIT TOP PAIR , AN OVER PAIR OR BETTER I BET 10 TO 15, IF NOT I CHECK THEN  FOLD TO A BET, IF I HIT AND BET I ALWAYS GET CALLED OR RAISED IF IM TOP PAIR TOP KICKER OR BETTER I CALL SEE A TURN, IF IM STILL IN GOOD SHAPE I BARRELL 25 OFF , I USUALLY GET 2 CALLERS ALWAYS AT LEAST 1 THEN SAME THING I BARRELL OFF RIVER TO 50 OR SO IF IM STILL GOOD AND I STILL GET CALLED BY 1 SOMETIMES 2 I SHOW AND THEY USUALLY MUCK SHOW ACE HIGH OR THERE BUSTED DRAW OR BOTTOM PAIR, I ONLY CHECK IF I FLOP NUT FLUSH OR TURN IT OR IF I HIT A FULL HOUSE OTHER THEN THAT I IETHER ALWAYS BET OR JUST CHECK FOLD, NOW I USUALLY GET ALMOST ALL MY MONEY IN AND DOUBLE UP TO AROUND 225 SOMETIMES MORE RARELY LESS, I THEN FOLD MOST LOW POKET PAIRS 66 AND BELOW OUT OF POSITION AND CRY TO MYSELF WHEN I WOULDA FLOPPED A SET WHICH IS RARE TBH BUT IT DOES HAPPEN LOL, I KEEP MY TIGHT RANGE UTG AND MIDDLE POSITION MAYBE EVEN TIGHTEN IT UP EVEN MORE NOW THAT IM 250EF , ON THE BUTTON AND CUTOFF I WIDEN MY RANGE UP QUITE A BIT I NOW RAISE ALL POCKET PAIRS ALL SUITED ACES AND KQSUITED QJ SUITED AToff suit  as AJo , I keep with raises between 6 and 15$ unless I have QQ KK OR AA with one of those three I raise to 50 or above to isolate anyone willing to call I always get 1 caller maybe 2 but I dont want some low cards making a straight or low pocket pair hitting a set if they want to set mine my top pocket pairs they are gonna have to pay between 50 and 100 to see the flop which I dont think they will find to profitable for set mining after a while., I continue playing mostly in position only unless extremely strong hand and I continue playing correctly postflop I keep getting one to 3 callers always if i hit a set ,nut flush ,or full house postflop, I wait a long time maybe a minute then i look at all the chips in the center and move all in .. even today i always expect folds with the flush or paired bored out there i always expect folds but i always get called by 1 person ALWAYS sometimes 2 even 3 it always shocks me even still,  at showdown i show and everyone usually mocks a busted straight draw middle pair and top pair is always there all sad. And i scoop up the chips now I'm around 500 to possibly 800 or so ef depending on amount of callers, I look around and now me and maybe 2 or 3 others are the deeper stacked,  now is when I really widen my range in position like very wide , n if theres a straddle even wider, 67 suited im raising to close to 40$ preflop 89 9T suited at least 25 maybe 30 or 40, so now there is 1 or 2 ppl at the table who really hate me I have all there chips and they saw me buying in for 60$ so they are very annoyed and really want there money back. So my preflop raising doubles in size or triples and my range opens up a ton every 40$ preflop raise to 3 limpers the 1 or 2 guys who's chips u swooped ALWAYS CALL PREFLOP ITS ALWAYS THEM AND ONLY THEM,, even up to 75 they always call with every hand I raise , hoping to get there money back so I make them pay alot to see these flops , now when I connect my wide range with a low board and hit middle pair or better i bet around 50 low bored they usually call to river and fold or show up with Q high or so  if I have ace high on flop I bet 25 to 50$ same thing iether the call to river with nothing hoping they hit and I win with ace high or they do hit and the raise me, unless I have a hand I fold to all raises unless I hit trips or a straight with my wide range then i never fold ,  i bet everything i raise in position after the flop whether i have nothing or i flop a good hand they start folding to all high boards with Ks and As even tho I have 76s but I just tip the dealer and muck and shrug like man I'm just running hot right now just lucky u know how it goes.. they shrug back usually orcsometimes they are really kool about it, so I keep stealing some pots til I get raised a few times like someone finally caught on then I take a bathroom break and get a soda , at this point i tighten my range back up even in position and fold most everything except premium hands until i get moved to main game table or the ppl who's cash i landed move or go home ... they never go home as long as I'm still there usually one of us gets moved.. then I rack up and go cash out to put myself back on the list for like a few hours later and start over with a new table new group and buy in for 60$ again.. this is my short stack strategy .. say what u will about short stacked cash game strategys and all ur quarrys are correct I'm not saying short stacking is the way to go by any means I'm just saying if ur going to do it build an ENTIRE strategy around it to maximize its benefits not just short stack so u dont lose as much that's just planning on losing. Make sure what ur doing and why ur doing it all makes sense to profit from or else dont do it and just get better at poker and evaluating ur hand without over valuing and post flop play. U still cant win at poker without sound secure postflop play if u think u can u are mistaken, the preflop hand win percentage rates are not considering how many ways to the flop ur going if u think Aces hold 70 percent of the time in a 5 way pot u are sadly mistaken.. u will be crushed by all sorts of krap offsuite nonsense. Build a strategy in full and fix the leaks in ur game that negatively affect ur strategy or figure out a way to mitigate that leak affecting ur strategy,, my big leak is over calling with middle and top pair and losing everything to sets and straights so I made rules for myself to mitigate that problem regardless of my opponents actions or possible hands .. that's my strategy lmk if u hate it and why or if u think it's somewhat decent I would appreciate any critiques to make me a better player. Thanks.
  • Hi David, the answer is very difficult to read in its current format. I would suggest reformatting it. Thats likely what the downvotes are for. Thanks
    – Toby Booth
    Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 0:51

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