10 Major Ways To Thrive At Short Stack Poker Games

Every poker player knows the feeling of being in a game and seeing their chips dwindle. This scenario generally forces the player to decide whether to try and keep playing on, hoping that they can double up their chips or if they should pack it up and leave the table.

This dilemma becomes even more difficult when the player sits with a short stack or has less than 40 big blinds. A short stack leaves very little room for error, and any misstep could cause the player to be eliminated from the poker tournament.

The good news is that there are ways to thrive when playing with a short stack. By following these ten tips, players can put themselves in a much better position to succeed at short-stack poker games.

First, what is a big blind?

A big blind (BB) is a forced bet in poker that is typically used in tournament play. The structure of the tournament usually determines the size of the big blind. For example, in a $20+$2 tournament, the big blind would be $20.

That would mean that in a short stack game with 40 big blinds, the player would have $800 in chips.

What is a short stack?

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A short stack is when a player has less than 40 big blinds in cash games. This can put the player at a significant disadvantage because they will have less room to make mistakes.

A player with 40 to 80 big blinds is typically considered to have a mid-stack. A deep stack is when a player has more than 80 big blinds. This gives the player much room to make mistakes and still stay in the game.

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Patience is one of the most important things to have when playing with a short stack. Players should not feel pressured to make moves and instead wait for good opportunities. There will be plenty of times when the best move is simply folding and waiting for a better hand.

One of the best ways to increase a short stack is by stealing blinds. This can be done by raising the preflop from a late position or by 3-betting light from the button. Players can add much-needed chips to their stack by taking down the small pot preflop.

Another critical tip for short stack poker is to be aggressive. This means betting and raising when there is a chance to take down the pot. It also means bluffing more often than usual. Players should not be afraid to put their chips in the middle when they have a chance to win.

With a short stack, focusing on the preflop play is essential. This is because there will not be many opportunities to post-flop. Players should make sure they are making the correct preflop decisions to give themselves the best chance to survive.

Players with short stacks should avoid getting involved in big pots. This is because they will have less room to make mistakes and could end up losing a significant portion of their poker chips. It is often better to play small pots and only get involved when there is a good chance of winning.

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One of the essential things for short stack players is to know when to fold. There will be times when it is evident that the hand will not win. It is better to save the chips and wait for a better opportunity in these situations. Aggression is an important part of playing with a short stack but should be done strategically. Play your poker cards with mindful aggression.

While players should fold often, they should also know when to call. This is especially true if the pot is small or there is a good chance of winning. Players can keep their chips in play by calling and potentially adding to their stack.

Another vital tip for short stack poker is to play pots with equity. This means that the pot should be worth the risk of losing the chips. For example, if a player has a 50% chance of winning a pot, they should only play it if the pot is worth at least twice the amount of their bet.

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Being aware of stack sizes is another essential tip for short stack players. This means knowing how many chips each player has and how that affects the decisions that need to be made. In a poker game, players with short stacks should always be aware of their own stack size and the sizes of their opponents.

The last tip for short stack poker is to have a plan. This means knowing what the goal is and how to achieve it. Players should clearly understand how they want to play their hand and what they hope to accomplish. Players can make better decisions and increase their chances of winning by having a plan.


Short stack poker can be challenging, but it is possible to thrive with the right strategy. Players can increase their chances of winning by being patient, aggressive, and aware of stack sizes. You might be surprised that some pro players consider the short stack game their forte.

If you want to improve your short stack poker game, try following these tips.