Friday, March 20, 2009

The short stack strategy – Pros and Cons

Usually you can buy in for 20 – 100 Big Blinds in No-Limit Cash Games. If you buy in for 20 Big Blinds your stack is one fifth of a big stack that buys-in for 100 Big Blinds. That's a big difference and sometimes a disadvantage. But some poker players buy-in for this minimum and playing the short stack strategy (SSS).

Pros of SSS

A big advantage is that the risk is small because you're only playing with a minimum buy-in. Especially in No-Limit Hold'em one mistake can be very expensive. If you're playing SSS and making a mistake it only costs your small buy-in. The damage is only one fifth compared to the big stack if he happens to go broke.

Furthermore SSS is easy to learn. You're just waiting for the right hands take a look at the flop and move all-in if it's the right one or move in pre-flop after a raise. For novice players SSS is an option because they are looking for easy-to-learn strategies with minimal risk.

Cons of SSS

But there are also disadvantages that should be considered. First of all there is the belief SSS has nothing to do with playing poker. This is understandable because you need no skills to wait for the right hand and move all-in then. You don't need any post-flop skills and this is the most interesting part of poker.

So we're already at the second disadvantage: You don't learn to play properly. You don't have to deal with poker strategy, you're decision is either go all-in fold. You're playing like a robot always with the same program running. There's no need to read poker books or talk with other players about hands. So you'll always be a machine rather than a poker player.

There are two good reasons for novice poker players to start with SSS: small risk and easy-to-learn strategy. But the two disadvantages are also powerful. I highly recommend playing SSS only at the beginning and switch to big stack strategy as soon as possible.