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As poker players, we each have made moves as a short stack that we thought would never work but have. Other times, justice is served upon us for shoving with 7-2 into the chip leader.

Today, I take a present three different three stories about short stacked moves that seem strange but actually happened. I know they happened, because I’m the one that made them. Sometimes these moves work, sometimes I fall on my face and other times I make a “strong play” without realizing what the heck I’m doing.


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All-In “Without Looking”

The Trump Taj Poker Room used to hold 10-handed $65 Sit & Go tournaments that paid out a prize pool of $500. I believe the payout was $250, $150 and $100. We were down to the final three in one of these and the chip leader refused to deal, so we played on.

Both players were decent poker players, but they weren’t necessarily the most observant. I had noticed they often looked at their cards while being pitched and I found a spot to exploit this three-handed.

The dealer dealt the first card to me and I quickly lifted the corner and did the same to the second card. I had pocket kings. However, I had not straightened my cards and I was first to act.

“I’m all-in blind.” The dealer watched me look at my cards and looked at me as to say “you really think that will work?”

The chip leader looked like someone caught him taking the last cupcake and started looking around at everyone asking, “is he serious?” He asks the dealer if I looked at my cards and he said “I’m not allowed to comment sir” and then goes completely stone-faced.

The small blind is eyeballing me but never says a word while folding. Then the chip leader starts tanking hard. “You didn’t really shove three-handed blind did you?”

I responded with just a little head tilt as to say “maybe.” He hems and haws for a bit because he has a “big hand.” Finally, he decides to call and asks “did you really shove blind?”

I smile and go “nope” and show pocket kings. He has pocket jacks. The kings hold and now and now all three players are about dead even in chips.

Afterwards, he was willing to deal and we split the money 150 each and gave the dealer $50. As the dealer got ready to leave, he glanced over to me quickly, started chuckling and left.

I agree buddy. I can’t believe they fell for either.

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All-In After First Two Cards in PLO

A move that I will use on occasion in either PLO or in Omaha 8 or Better when I am short and UTG is moving all-in after getting my second card. Usually I will do this after getting a big pair or even a suited A-2 in Hi-Lo.

The purpose of this move is to exhibit strength and put the table on notice that the “short stack has finally picked up a hand.” If I have fold equity, sometimes this works. Granted, if I have next to no chips or someone else picks up a hand, I’m getting called.

One time I pulled this move was at my final table appearance at the First Annual Binions Poker Classic. I was the short stack at the final table and really had been nursing one since about 20 players left.

I was in shove or fold and the blinds were such that a pre-flop raise could put me all-in. This was a time to try my all-in move, or so I thought. The first two cards I received were jacks, so I thought, “OK! Let’s go!” I move all-in and naturally, this gets everyone’s attention as cards are still being pitched.

Naturally, about three people declare out loud that I “must have a pair” and of course, they were right. Action started folding around and I looked down to my other two cards. “DAMMIT” was my only thoughts after seeing the other two cards.

Anywho, the chip leader called and showed something like A-K-Q-10 or something. I don’t fully remember. I can’t forget my holdings. “Well folks. These were my first two cards.” I then turned over two jacks.

“Then I got these.” About half the table went “awww” as I turned over ANOTHER jack and a non-suited deuce. I believe my opponent flopped two pair but I am not sure. All I remember is that my hand didn’t hold up and I was out.


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Why Would You Leave That Little Bit Behind?

I’ll admit that this situation happened by pure accident but it kept my opponent guessing for the rest of the day. The situation was three-handed in a single table satellite that paid out a single seat to a larger tournament. I was the short stack but not quite in the “shove or fold” zone.

I pick up Ah-Ks and raise 3.5x and get called by the chip leader. A king hits the flop and action is check to me. I bet somewhere around the size of the pot. I’ll admit that I was more focused about making a bet to take the pot down that I overlooked the fact I only had about 500 more left in my stack.

This looked incredibly suspicious to my opponent and he started tanking for what ended up being a good five minutes. He kept harping about “why did you leave some behind? Why not put it all in?”

Now I shouldn’t have allowed this but the guy was even talking to the other guy at the table about the hand but again, I was more focused on winning the pot and frankly I was so new to live tournaments at the time that I didn’t know that this was a rules violation.

Anyway, after several minutes he decided I must have flopped a set and folded K-Q face up. He proceeded to talk about the hand for a good five minutes afterwards.

We ultimately chopped that satellite and he just had to know what I had. After I told him I had A-K, he told me that “he just knew” I had him beat and that the move gave away the strength of my hand.

Little did he know that I actually misplayed my hand, but thanks for the tip buddy. I know use that move every so often and about 75% of the time, I get credit for having a big hand.

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.