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Short Stack Hands

Not much here today, but I wanted to get that legal post off of the top of the page. I played the Hoy last night, but went out fairly early when Kajagugu repeatedly re-raised all of my bets. I, in turn, repeatedly folded, and therein lied my losing strategy. The entire time, I was trying to figure out if Kaja actually had the goods or if he was just utilizing position and his knowledge of my game. In the past, I have heard of fellow bloggers refusing to post strategy posts, for fear that they will give away their game. In response, I have always maintained that (a) the pool of poker competition compared to my reader base is so small that teaching my readers should not significantly hurt my abilities to win money, and (b) I should be able to adjust to players who know my general strategy. In hindsight, the repetition with which I play these blogger events, and therefore the frequency with which I play with potential readers minimizes (a), but (b) is still indisputable in my mind. And by indisputable, I mean I SHOULD be able to adjust, but not that I AM able to adjust all of the time.

Alas, I did get an opportunity to play some small stack poker, and as a Small Stack Specialist (SSS), I tried by best to make the most of it. Here are a couple of fun hands where I can demonstrate why deep stack tournaments work well for an SSS.

In this first hand, I was able to pick up a good 30% or so of my short stack by paying close attention to the way that the hand played out.

I was down to 915 from the 3k starting stacks after Kaja repeatedly forced me to fold. I wasn't too worried at the time because the blinds were still 25/50. While I do not consider almost 20x the BB a short stack, compared to the rest of the table (most had over 3k, the second lowest stack after me had 2525), I was effectively working the short stack in reference to the table conditions. Fortunately, when you are at the high end of ShortStackVille, its easier to push players off of hands. Their logic states that you wouldn't be pushing all-in with garbage if you have as much chips as you do. So your logic should be, When can I make it look like I have the nuts by pushing all-in? Of course, this trick works every time but once, so you really have to pay attention to the action to determine when its time to strike.

With 915, I was dealt 36o in the SB. I considered folding, but Iakaris (3105) decided to limp in the CO (the Button was sitting out), so I decided to call the 25 into the 150 pot. The BB, Kaja with 5425 (most of which was from me), checked. The flop was A76 with two diamonds. I had bottom pair, second worst kicker. I knew I couldn't bet out here. It was all too likely that someone would call me and I had no information on my opponents' cards. So, I checked. Kaja checked too. Iak, of course, bets 120, which is slightly under the 150 pot. Now I took a moment to think. Iak was in position. He could have an Ace. But he just as likely was trying to take down the pot with any two cards. He had also waited for the 15-second warning before he acted. What was he thinking about?

The 120 LOOKS like a value bet. And that, along with his wait, led me to believe it was anything but a value bet. If he took so long to think about how to play his monster Ace, wouldn't he had either bet pot to push out diamond draws or bet very low to try to get action? If he doesn't have a strong Ace, then what can I do about it. I only had 865 after the 50 BB preflop, so I really had two options, fold or raise all-in. I couldn't raise anything less because I would be gambling with too much of my stack and using too little leverage. The pot was 270, and his bet was 120, so the most effective raise to scare him off would be to push all-in. That would require him to call 745 into the 1,100 pot. But it would also be coming from a check-raise from a blind. I could've had 67, A6, or A7. I could've had 89d or another flush draw. My range is crazy wide, and it looks like I set a trap, check-raising. My only fear was that Iak had a set, two-pair, or AK/AQ. Anything less could get a fold. AT, for instance, might be played in position for a limp, and then have to fold to the check-raise. The same is true for 88 or 99. But frankly, Iak could have KJ or any two cards, since he was in position after two checks when he decided to raise. Ultimately, I took a gamble, but it paid off. After he got his second 15-second warning, Iak folded and I took down 255 in profit that I would have missed if I folded my rags preflop or failed to check-raise on the flop.

Sometimes, reading the board is just as important when you are looking for opportunities to chip up. I was at 1135 in the BB at the 25/50 level when I was dealt Q9o. LeftyLu (5635) called (does he have a blog? anyone?) from MP, and the SB folded. I checked.

The flop was 4T7 with two diamonds. I bet out 100. He folded. This is a very simple hand, but don't mistake the simple action for simple thought processes. The check preflop was standard. Post-flop, I could've checked it, but I could guarantee he would bet once it got to him. So, rather than give him that chance, I opted to bet out 100, which was approximately 10% of my stack. That's a pretty penny, but I'd gladly lose it if he bets out. I just didn't want to hand him the 125 pot. After all, he didn't raise preflop, which makes me think he has a drawing hand like a high Ace, and the flop doesn't look like it hit him. I'm always looking for these opportunities. I can pretty much guarantee I was behind, but it doesn't make a difference if you tell a believable story (something Hoy has mentioned in the past). This believable story was that the BB got lucky and hit his cards.

That's all I have for you now. I'll be heading to Salami tonight probably, so wish me luck. If you care to join, drop me a comment or email. Thanks for reading.

Until next time, make mine poker!

***** This post sponsored by the fine folks at the GNUF poker room. *****

posted by Jordan @ 9:18 AM,


At 3:07 PM, Blogger KajaPoker said...

I actually had some really good hands there. And in a couple of spots when you open-raised 6xBB from EP I just put you on a mid-pair and knew that any high cards might scare you off the hand. So I called in position several times and then raised your c-bet.

The one hand where I tried to hoy you I actually had AJ for Jacks full of Aces on the turn.

I think in hindsight, from reading this here brog, I know you to be an aggressive wide-range player and I think that allowed me to use my position to play hard against you.

At 3:39 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

I know the 6x BB hand you are talking about. Ironically, I had 99, but I didn't mean to bet that much. It was a misclick. I intended to do my usual 3x the BB bet. Fungool!

At 5:01 PM, Blogger Wlokos said...

I agree completely with your thoughts on pretending to have the nuts as the short stack. I try to bully whenever a good opportunity presents itself - obviously, you have very great risk doing so as the short stack, but people always expect the bigger stacks, rather than the smaller ones, to be doing the bullying, so I've noticed that it can be surprisingly effective to bluff from that position. That said, it can also end a game really fast if you misread somebody.


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