While it’s true that online poker sees us in situations that we’d prefer to avoid, it doesn’t necessarily follow that we should think about them any less than those in which we’ve experienced good tikes and glory! In fact, we’ll enjoy more good times if we properly address the bad in a bid to better cope with them and, hopefully, turn negatives into positives.

A common difficult situation we’re prone to finding ourselves in is being short-stacked in a tournament. Sometimes this could be down to our own play, making sub-par or downright poor decisions that result in our stack being severely depleted, whole it’s also possible, of course, to be dealt a serious blow by Lady Luck when we were on course to deservedly doubling our chip count. In poker as in life, we don’t always get what we deserve… Anyway, regardless of the how we get there, it’s quite normal as tournament players to occasionally find ourselves short-stacked and, as such, considerably restricted in terms of the choices we have.

Poker is very much a game of different strokes for different folks. One player’s approach to a situation can be quite a contrast from that of another, and this is often the case when it comes to how players deal with different stack sizes. With this in mind, when we’re short-stacked, it’s worth looking at the opposition and their own stack sizes, and evaluating how they might react to certain plays depending on how many chips they have in front of them and how their actions (and their perceived actions) might influence their standing in the tournament. For example, those with large stacks might feel they can afford to call short-stack shoves relatively light – whether they’re defending or simply willing to take a minor hit for a chance of picking up a stack from a potentially desperate short-stack with a weaker hand. We need to be simultaneously wary of such players bullying us as well as seeking out spots where we can challenge them when we have a decent holding.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the scale, fellow short-stacks can often close up shop and opt for the ‘hang on for dear life’ approach that typically sees them fold every hand but Aces or Kings. But there are also short-stacks who have no fear and will happily get their chips in time after time, often shoving over a min-raise and challenging anyone to dare call

Medium stacks, not surprisingly, could do anything, but they tend to steer clear pf the big stacks and be willing to mix it only with short-stacks. Having said that, given that they’re potentially only a hand away from being short-stacked themselves, when they do show strength it’s probably because they do indeed have a hand worth fighting with.

It would be easy to recommend a balanced strategy that takes into account our opponents’ stack sizes, but while there are distinct approaches that are defined by stack sizes and the implications of certain plays, it’s even better to observe the table and soak up as much information about players as we can because one accurate read could make a crucial difference between being eliminated or vastly improving our chances by transforming our stack from short to workable.

Finally, just as much as we can try to get into the heads of our opponents in that we would like to anticipate how they might play based on their stack size, we need also to take into account how others perceive us based on the limited number of chip we have to work with. If we’re in tune with the table image we’ve presented thus far based on this or that play, we should try to use others’ reads about us against them.

Terms and Conditions apply.
This offer is only for new customers who are at least 18 years old.
If you need some help with yor gambling pattern and if you feel
that something goes wrong, please visit begambleaware.com
About the Author


AngusD switched from pro chess to poker two decades ago and has been professionally involved in the game on numerous levels since the very beginning of online poker, including playing as a poker ambassador both online and at major festivals around the globe. He has written much about the game over the years, and brings to YPD a wealth of experience in all aspects of the poker industry. Meanwhile, his many years on the pro chess circuit (he’s an International Master and prolific author) afford him an interesting perspective on the psychology of poker.

Latest changes

The last changes of the page “Tournament Short Stack Tips: Opposition Stack Sizes” was made by AngusD on November 03, 2021