Engaging in Online Poker and the Push/Fold Strategy

Online poker offers entertaining, edge-of-the-seat moments where there’s a fine line between winning and losing, providing not just a game but an experience that encompasses a range of scenarios and strategies. A pertinent strategy worth understanding is the Push/fold strategy, particularly applied when in the later stages of a tournament with a short chip stack, usually 10 Big Blinds or less. In this context, our pre-flop decision making is distilled into a straightforward yet critical choice: either fold or push in our remaining chips. This scenario, while potentially nerve-wracking, highlights crucial, cut-throat elements of poker, underscoring the necessity of understanding factors that influence practical and beneficial decision-making. It’s crucial to remember that the classic poker saying ‘A chip and a chair’ is a cliché for good reason. In tournament play, it’s common to have barely enough chips to cover a few orbits of Blinds and Antes, and shortly after, to become the proud owner of a formidable stack.

A Practical Example and Strategy Application

Consider a situation deep into a tournament: the blinds are at 100/200, and your stack is 1,900, which is merely 9BB and clearly categorized as a short stack. At this critical situation, standard play, as permitted by a standard-sized stack, is no longer feasible. A pivotal notion here is that picking up the blinds, thereby adding 300 chips—more if we manage two or three steals—is beneficial, especially when trying to bolster a currently meager stack. Take a hypothetical scenario where you’re on the Button, it’s folded round to you, you have KJs, the Small Blind hasn’t voluntarily put a chip in the middle for a while, and the BB has 2,700 chips. Should we bet 600 and the SB folds, this leaves just 400 from the BB, an easily affordable amount to see the Flop with a very wide starting hand range. They can then decide whether to continue or conserve their remaining stack. If we miss the Flop, we are left uncertain about the next move and only have 1,300 chips remaining. These are situations we aim to avert. However, if we push all our chips over the virtual bet line pre-flop, the BB would be compelled to call off a substantial 70% of their stack without a solid hand, and we’re likely to acquire a small yet useful pot, also increasing our stack to give us slightly more firepower (fold equity) for another strike at the blinds.

Maintaining the Stack and Strategic Pushing

While it’s valuable to fend off threats by sporadically grabbing the Blinds, doubling up would be an optimal outcome, which introduces another rationale for why pushing often becomes the sole alternative to folding under these circumstances. Even though it’s a misstep to be excessively selective – it’s preferable to push with a chip amount that doubles up to a functional stack than to fold away in anticipation of acquiring a premium hand – there’s no requirement to instantly go all-in upon hitting the danger zone. However, it’s vital to abstain from limping, calling, or even 3-betting small pre-flop, and not fear pushing. If elimination is the result, so be it. It’s superior to depart having provided ourselves a substantial chance of either amplifying our stack or doubling up, than folding or negligently depleting our stack.

Author: AngusD
last updated 04.10.2023