The Short-Buy Part 2

The Wynn Casino

The first part of this article explored the positive aspects of short-buying into a No-Limit cash game. Part two will explore the flipside - the reasons not to.

The Short-Buy: The Bad

Since the majority of us will never be playing poker at the same level, or limits, as Barry Greenstein, buying in short will never have a place among most of us.

Picture a live $1/$2 No-Limit game with a $200 max buy-in. You short-buy for $100. You raise one hand for the table standard of $15. You continuation bet $25 on the flop with nothing, and fold to a raise.

Your stack is now at $60. The next raised pot you get into will almost certainly have you pot-committed. Clear downfalls of the short-buy:

  • This scenario has forced you to move all-in after playing two hands, neither of which would ever have warranted an all-in had you max-bought.
  • There's the obvious problem of not being able to maximize your winnings. If you view buying in short as a mistake, then doubling up after this short buy will have lost you $200. Similar to money saved is money made; money not made, due to a mistake, is money lost.
  • Having multiple short stacks on a table ruins the flow of a game. If half the players have $200, while the other half have between $30 and $80, every hand runs into an all-in. This is not how poker was designed to be played.
  • Buying in short is commonly a result of playing on a short roll. If you can't afford to buy in full, you shouldn't be playing that limit.

To sum up, buying in short forces you to have to gamble, and keeps you from maximizing your wins should you get lucky; it's a lose-lose situation. Players will not be afraid to put all their chips in against you when the money is this small. You gain nothing from buying in short, while being affected greatly.

Doyle Brunson
I'm pretty sure you will never see this man buying in short, no matter how big the buy-in.

How Short Is Short?

Buying in short actually has nothing to do with the buy-in limit of the table you're playing. It has to do with the stacks of the other players. Usually, the other players will all be around the max buy-in for the table.

There are times where this isn't the case. You can find $5/$10 No-Limit games with a max. buy-in of $5,000 full of players playing from $3,000 stacks. To buy in to this game with $3,000 would not be short-buying.

At the same time, if you buy in for $3,000 only to have five new players show up in the next hour with a max. buy-in, your stack will become short.

If you're playing within your roll, you should be fully capable of capping up your stack to the maximum whenever you approach being short for the table. Lots of online rooms now offer an automatic cap-up option to keep your stack full after any lost pot.

What It All Comes Down To
Winning a briefcase full of cash makes it rather simple to max-buy.

The Final Ruling on Short-Buys

Every so often, you're going to encounter super-aggressive poker. When you get into a ridiculously aggressive game, short-buying can be the best thing you could do in a session. At a game where the players are willing to put it all in pre-flop with any two cards, the variance is going to be huge.

The reason you will short-buy at a table such as this is almost exclusively to do with bankroll management. A table this aggressive will require a significantly larger bankroll to play than a regular game at the same stakes. Short-buying can effectively double your buy-in-to-total roll ratio.

There are situations where buying in slightly short makes little difference to the game. If you're sitting at a $200 buy-in $1/$2 No-Limit game, buying in $150 rather than $200 makes little difference to the play of the game.

By saving $50 on your buy-in, you can play four online tables at the same time for the same cost as three at a max-buy. You put the same amount of money in play from your roll, but add one more table to help even out variance.

Ideally, you want to be playing on a large enough roll to be able to afford to play all four tables at a max. buy. In the real world, the majority of poker players are playing on a short roll. This is one little hint that could be of great help to such players.

The Short-Buy: The Ugly

It's becoming rare to find an online table with a full ring of max-buys. More and more these days, I'm seeing a large percentage of online players buying in for the minimum.

Always play within your roll, keeping to tables where you can afford the full buy-in. If you can't afford it, drop limits to one you can afford.

Being a chronic short-stacker puts you into the same boat with the slow-rollers and hit-and-run artists. Poker always works best as a deep-stack game. It might not even be overstating the case to say that in this game of respect, perhaps the integrity of the game requires the most attention.

More strategy articles from Sean Lind:

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