You will often find yourself playing against short stacks, whether in tournaments or on cash tables against players whose entire playing style is based on short stack strategy. Usually other player avoid confronting them unless they have a big hand, but if you work on your strategy you can use some moves to minimize the edge they have. Here are some basic tips on how to play against short stacks.
Tips for playing against short stacks
Raising the blinds
Min-raising either from the button or small blind when a short stack player is in the blinds is something you should do as often as you can. Keep in mind that if you start doing it automatically other players might see your plan and start trapping you with strong hands. Important thing here is to only min-raise pre-flop – for two reasons. You kill their odds to shove with a raise this small because they have to bet more to win less. Other reason is that short stacked players are in a push/fold mode, so even though they should never fold to a min-raise when in the blinds, small number of chips makes it unprofitable to call just to see if they hit something on the flop.
Playing against aggressive ones
If you have an aggressive short stack player try to slow play your strong hands as much as possible (provided that this won’t get you in trouble with other players). This way you give them an opportunity to shove and try to steal the pot when you already have them beat. Most aggressive short stack players will often try to steal the pot if everybody checked to them. If you have a read on a player and know he does this often, then you should shove against them whenever you have the chance.
Calling them light is a big mistake
In case you have a lot of chips, then you should play more aggressively and always try to put pressure on your opponent. This is a good strategy but only if you know when to back out. For example if you raise out of position and a short stacked player shoves then he probably has a big hand. It’s unlikely he’ll do that with a marginal hand because your raise out of position implicates that you have a big hand. Avoid calling them light and fold your marginal hand.
Re-raise whit hands you will usually call
This is a great tip when playing relatively good hands in position. Let’s say you’re on the button and cutoff raises. In case you have a hand that you should usually call with, it’s much better to 3-bet if the blinds are short stacks. If you just call they might go all in with a wide range of hands because of all the money that’s in the pot already. If you 3-bet instead they’ll put you on a strong hand and probably fold unless they have a monster. This way you get to see the flop and play your hand without risking too much money.