The Short-Buy Part 1


In the first installment of this two-part article, we explore the ever-growing phenomenon of short-buying. If everyone's doing it, does that make it a good idea?

A short-buy is technically buying in below the posted minimum amount for the table. Many casinos will allow a player who goes bust to make one short buy.

In the world of poker the term short buy usually refers to buying in for less than the table maximum. In this article I use the latter definition, rather than the more official one.

I feel that short-buying has its place in poker. It can be the correct move in some obscure situations, while being a mistake in others.

Barry Greenstein
Barry Greenstein has been winning at poker since the age of 13

The Short-Buy: The Good

If you watch every episode of High Stakes Poker with the same level of commitment and attention as one would while performing brain surgery, you'll have noticed Barry Greenstein buys in short at this table.

It's odd to consider an amount as large as $100,000 a short buy, but on a table where players buy in for a cool million, $100,000 makes the cut.

Greenstein's short-buying into this game helped give him an edge on his competition at the table.

To understand the reasoning, first you have to take into account the other players at the table. All the players at the table (including the unknown amateurs) have a very strong understanding of implied and pot odds. Also, all players at the table are ridiculously aggressive.

Picture a stack of $1 million getting into a hand against a stack of $100,000.

The Money
I'd also want security if my million was sitting out in the open.

  • The smaller stack has all the implied odds in the hand, which obviously makes for poor reverse implied odds for the big stack.
  • Any large bets will put the small stack at risk of being pot-committed, reducing the probability of any bluffs being successful.
  • The large stack has to assume the short-buy player is going to be playing a very tight game, elevating the small stack's hand range to higher-end cards.
  • The small stack is still large enough to be a costly loss to the large stack in an all-in situation.

As you can see, the small stack can gain a large advantage through his short-buy. The example here is using a very high-stakes buy-in, but the example is applicable at any table where the players will understand the concepts involved, and are playing for an amount of money that is meaningful to both parties involved.

This is the only solid example I can come up with where I will condone, and agree with, a short-buy. In my next article, I'll be exploring the antithesis: The Short-Buy: The Bad. I hear rumors The Short-Buy: The Ugly will make an appearance as well.

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