Grinding the Shortstack with Mark "zachjackdad" Silver

Using your short stack effectively will mean the difference between winning and losing.

This week CardRunners coach Mark "zachjackdad" Silver is taking us through the fundamentals of shortstack poker tournament strategy.

Mark “zachjackdad” Silver has profited over six figures playing online poker, while sticking to an average buy in of $19! He is a part time poker player and father of two who began playing during the NFL strike of 2004.

Take it away Mark.

Grinding a short stack deep in MTTs is one of the most difficult things to learn about winning tourneys consistently.

What is considered short? Typically I would consider anything under 20 big blinds to be short. Obviously the less you have, the more short you are. However, players often panic too early or fail to shove (push all-in) in the most optimal spots.

The following is a list of things to consider before pushing all-in when action is on you in an unopened pot (there are no raises in front of you):

1)      How many big blinds do you have?

2)      What % of your stack is the pot?

3)      How strong is your hand?

4)      How many players are left to act behind you?

5)      Are any players committed to calling? (they have too many chips in the pot to fold)

6)      Is the big blind committed to calling?

7)      If you answer yes to 5 or 6 or both, is there a reasonable possibility your hand is ahead of their random hand?

mark silver
The reason his screenname is "zachjackdad".

There are actually some players out there who have studied the math on exactly when to shove with certain hands.

I can’t write out the whole shove chart here but the premise is basically that it takes into consideration how many big blinds you have, how many players left to act and how strong your hand is.

For example it can sometimes be correct to shove Q3o on the button but fold AT in middle position.

Lastly here is a list of considerations for shoving into raises or 3 betting all-in:

1)      How many big blinds do you have?

2)      What % of your stack is the pot?

3)      How strong is your hand?

4)      How aggressive has the villain been?

5)      What position is the villain in?

6)      Is the villain often raising from the same position?

7)      If your hand is not strong, is the villain likely to fold?

After carefully considering all of these options, you need to make a decision on whether this is a good spot. As a rule, when you have less than 20 big blinds you should never be folding hands like AQ+ or TT+ to one raise. You need to open up your range as it will be very difficult to win a tournament staying at 15ish big blinds.

It is also very important to remember you cannot call any raises or raise/fold in any spot. You need to save all your chips for the correct spot to shove, and the more chips you have when you do go all-in, the better chance you have to make your opponent your fold.

Plus you’ll have more chips if you do happen to win at showdown.

The key to playing a short stack effectively is to stay patient but make sure you realize when you are in a good spot to shove. As you short stack more often you will start realizing when you are making mistakes.

Don’t forget to consider all the criteria above. The best thing to do to improve your short stack game is share hand histories with other poker players with specific spots where you shoved.

CardRunners offers free poker training through Truly Free Poker Training. Receive all the benefits of being a CardRunners member without paying a penny.

Read More PokerListings/Cardrunners Strategy Articles:

Best Poker Sites - Editor`s Pick

Latest Blogs »