Tag Archives: Stack Sizes

The role of stack sizes in cash games

The stack sizes have a very significant role in NL Hold’em games. The stack sizes should substantially affect our initial strategy, which we should always choose according to the amount of the chips. I would like to share some thoughts in this subject.

First we should go through the most basic stack sizes.

Short stack, which means 20 BB. I think the most of you know, or at least have heard about, the Short Stack strategy, which was very popular a few years ago. Today, this strategy is a bit old fashioned and demoded for a number of reasons, so I don’t recommend using this strategy. One of the reasons is that, despite you play a lot, you aren’t really developing your game, because this is a very mechanic strategy. In addition you could interfere the others play, because, if a short stacked player is involved in the hand, the others game can change dramatically. Therefore most of the poker rooms increased the minimum buy-in to 35 BB, which falls in the category of Medium stack.

Medium Stack. This means an average depth of 40-60 BB. Basically this medium stack buy-in is not so prevalent in the online poker rooms, who use this buy-in, generally doesn’t have a big bankroll, or don’t want to loose a big amount. Most of the times we will see not so experienced or skilled players with this kind of buy-in, but it could happen, even on higher stakes, that a really good player will be sitting at the table with a medium stack buy-in.

Deep stack. This is our goal in the cash games, preferably we should always play with a full buy-in, because with this can we maximize our profit, and in deep stack cash games can we use our edge.

stack sizes

In the beginning of the article I mentioned, that the stack sizes should be closely related to the initial strategy. The short stack strategy is based on the tight preflop hand selection. In the case of SS strategy on the flop usually all the money goes in, that’s why we need those kind of hands, which can easily be the best hand on the flop. These are the premium cards, like big pocket pairs, AK, AQ, and hands like that. As we go towards to the deeper stacks, the gap between the strong and weak hands is reducing. 100BB deep the suited connectors, and the low pocket pairs become playable, because if we hit the flop, we have a very strong hand, and we can win our opponent’s whole stack. The premium cards however loose a bit from their role, because rarely will we playing 200 BB pots with a single pair, or if we do this, we can easily be surprised.

In the following 3 examples I would like to illustrate the difference of the short stack and deep stack thinking.

Example No. 1: You are sitting in the big blind with 20 BB stack, so you are playing the short stack strategy. Your hole cards: AK. It’s folded to the button, who raises to 3BB, you reraise to 9,5BB, and your opponent calls. The flop: K72. It’s a quite good flop for you, top pair top kicker is a very strong hand in this situation. You go all-in with your remaining 10,5BB stack, your opponent calls, and shows KQ, your cards hold up, and you win the 40BB pot. Fair simple choreography, there is nothing to say to this hand. Read More →