Share this on

At some point you are going to find yourself short stacked at the poker table.

Sometimes it is due to poor play and other times it is a matter of variance. Whatever the case, you now have to make decisions to help yourself get out of this situation.

Related: 5 Reasons You Are Now the Short Stack

Today we will take a look at five ways to get you out of a short stacked situation. While many of these tips are geared towards tournaments, most concepts can be easily applied to cash games.

Wait For a Big Hand and Go to War

The most basic strategy for when you’re short stacked is to find a big hand and take that hand to war. There’s two potential drawbacks to this strategy. First, you have to get the hand. If you’re a short stack of 15 big blinds and sit back to get a big hand, you may blind yourself down to where even doubling up doesn’t get you out of trouble.

Next, you have to get your big hand paid off. Unless you get lucky and get the big hand quickly after becoming short stacked, the table will know what you’re up to. Chances are that you’re not going to get action unless your opponent has a strong hand or they have so many chips that they just don’t care about calling you.

Start Attacking Medium and Short Stacks

If you’re a short stack, take stock of both the other short stacks and the medium stacks at the table. At this point, you want to try and get yourself into pots where you can isolate those short and medium stacks.

In the case of the other short stacks, they will often only call you down if they have a reasonable holding because many will feel you would only be aggressive with a solid hand.

For medium stacks, they are in a position where doubling you up will either make them a short stack or cripple them to where they cannot come back. They will often not call you light so this gives you a few extra chances to steal some chips.

Turn The Aggression Up to Ludicrous Speed

A strategy that sometimes works for a short stack is flipping the script and start going crazy with the aggression. Instead of tightening up as most would expect, you start playing more hands and attacking everyone.

This strategy is going to confuse some and amuse others. Are you on a rush of cards or have you lost your blasted mind? Your tighter players and short stacks are going to stay out of your way mostly.

Your aggressive players may even start to think twice because they are not quite sure what the deal is here. This strategy works even better if you can flash a couple of decent hands here and there. Then they really don’t know what the deal is.

Granted, there are going to be times where you get called and are behind but you will at least gain their respect for having the balls to go to war instead of sitting on your stack and bleed chips.

Top Off Your Stack or Rebuy

This tip is either for cash games or rebuy poker tournaments. When you find yourself in a situation where you’re a short stack in a cash game, you can simply add more money to your stack in order to retool. Some choose to add a full buy-in to their stack and others choose to replenish their chips back to the amount of their initial buy-in.

If you’re in a cash game and are considering this move, make sure to evaluate both the table and your own game to see if this is a wise move. If you feel that you’re playing well but just getting unlucky, then go ahead an top off. However, if you feel that you’re not playing your best or if you in a bad game in general, maybe it’s time to cash out or play out your short stack.

In the case of a rebuy tournament, evaluate your play to make sure that it will be worth it to rebuy. If you feel good about your spot and being able to outplay your table, go ahead and rebuy. As we all know, rebuy tournaments can have some crazy action and you can play perfectly and still get short stacked. However, if you are just bleeding chips with no real game plan to get out of your rut, go ahead and either try to rebound from your short stack or call it a day.

You Bust

The most common way to get out of a short stacked situation is to lose all your chips.

We don’t need to explain this one as we all know how to take the walk of shame. However, after you bust you will want to review how you played your game and how you competed once you became short stacked.

Were there missed opportunities that could have gotten you back into the game or were you merely the victim of variance? Did you play you’re “A-Game” or were you gambling too much and got caught?

Busting out of a poker tournament isn’t fun but it can be used as a tool to help you improve your game. You may even want to chat with a buddy about your play to see if they have any insight on improving your game. If you’re playing online, review your hand histories and see what you could have done to improve your position.

In many cases, there’s something that we could have done to improve our odds of getting back into the game. The key is figuring out what that was and adjusting our game for the next time we play.


Related Articles

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.