Size Matters

Posted by David Cowell on August 19, 2010 at 3:10 BST

stack sizeWhen players come to a ring game short-stacked it is frequently a sign that they are cautious about the amount of money they are prepared to lose or may lack confidence in their abilities.

The excuse that it is good bankroll management is a load of tosh, because if what they brought to the table represented (say) 40% of their total poker funds, they should be playing on a table with a lower stakes.

These players may feel that they are acting responsibly, but what they are really inviting is for somebody to take advantage of them through bet leveraging and implied odds.

Bet leveraging and implied odds are fairly closely connected – the former being related to the proportion by which you increase your bets after the flop, turn and river, with the implication being that you either have, or will catch, a monster hand. There may also be an element of bluffing amongst these two strategies as the following example illustrates.

You are on the button and dealt 7h 8h. A short-stacked player in mid-position bets 3x BB and you call – with everybody else folding.  Your hand may be more speculative than that your opponent is holding, but if the flop comes down Js Td 6h and your opponent fails to increase the size of his bet, you can be pretty sure (even though your hand remains speculative) that these are not particularly helpful cards to his cause.

When it comes to your turn, the size of the pot is currently 10.5 BBs (His 3x BB pre-flop bet, your call, SB + BB plus his 3x BB post-flop bet) and your opponents stack has been reduced from 40 BBs to 34 BBs.

If you now bet the size of the pot, increasing it to 21 BBs, it will cost him 7.5 BBs to call you and reduce his chip stack to 26.5 BBs. Furthermore, you have made the implication that you will bet by the size of the pot (which will be 28.5 BBs if he calls your bet) after the turn which will wipe his chip stack out.

Unless he has caught trips on the flop, he is going to fold and you have made a healthy profit from the seven and eight of hearts.

For you, this is a handy strategy to know when left in a one-on-one situation against a short-stacked player. For him, the circle goes round once again. Player comes to table short-stacked, loses, takes another knock to his confidence in his abilities and goes off to play on another table short-stacked.

If he would only come to a table properly prepared for a game of poker, his fortunes may just change. You see, “Size Matters”!