Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Confessions of a Short Stacker, Part 3 - the Conclusion

The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently. - Friedrich Nietzche.

Although playing short stacked is a strategy that works for me, it seems to get a lot of grief from other online players (I have never heard a live player complain about it). I, for one, do not understand what the grievance is all about. Short stacking is similar to guerilla warfare. I have fewer resources than my opponent and I need to extract maximum value from the resources I have. I think the objection to short stacking boils down to this: it is an effective strategy that is difficult to exploit.

If I have met the table minimum, then I have complied with the same rules all the other players had to follow. They elected to buy in for some amount between the table minimum and the table maximum, too. The only real downside to playing short stacked is you are limiting the amount you can win in one hand. The short stack is the effective stack. Although I amass my winnings more slowly with a short stack, my opponents have to outplay/outthink/outkick me repeatedly rather than get lucky once or twice. If I choose to spread my risk out in this manner, it is my decision, it is a perfectly legal strategy, and it should not carry with it any sort of unnecessary stigma. Playing short stacked is not angle shooting, ratholing, or cheating. There are plenty of people that really do cheat/angle shoot/rathole and our loathing and disdain should be reserved for those players.
When any player sits down at a poker table, whether online or live, he is under no obligation to stay any particular time. He might take one hand, he might take one orbit, he might stay for one hour, or he might stay for much longer. It is all up to the player himself. Some folks seem to think that if one takes a seat and wins, then he has to stay some undisclosed amount of additional time to allow the other players the opportunity to win some of their money back. This doesn’t really make sense to me. In fact, any player remaining seated and in the game may win some or all of his losses back from the table at large and the effect will be the same as if he won it back from me. Each dollar counts as one dollar no matter whom it is won from, one still equals one. If I want to stand up after winning, whether I have been seated one hand or one day, it is my choice. It doesn’t make me a ratholer or an unethical player. I do not attempt to influence how long anyone else remains at a table and I do not think anyone should try to coax or coerce me. If I want to keep playing, I will. If I do not want to keep playing, I won’t.

It is all part of learning to quit well…….not well for my opponents, well for me.


Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Good posts. Despite my name, I actually have been doing much better lately at the PLO tables when I buy in for the max., although for a long while there I was short-stacking it. It's a popular strategy at the PLO tables -- I'd say there are always at least a couple at each full table. While some do quite well that way, I encounter a lot of folks who'll buy in short yet fail to push when it is obvious they should.

And yr right about that prejudice vs. short-stackers . . . just try to post a hand on 2+2 for analysis in which yr the shortie & see what happens . . . :)

Gnome said...

I don't dispute that short stacking can be an effective and profitable way to play.
But I hate shortstackers at my table because they prevent me from playing the kind of poker I prefer. By playing for effective stacks of only 20BB, I have to stoop to their level.
That means playing fewer postflop pots and more pushmonkey preflop poker. It's simply a style I'd rather not play.

Shrike said...

Poker is a much, much more beautiful game when you can have multiple streets of postflop betting.

Yes, that can mean you have to work harder, but you can also make more money doing so.

So there are both aesthetic reasons and pragmatic ones to play medium or deep-stacked poker rather than short-stacked poker.

That being said, I have nothing against players who prefer to play short-stacked. I would simply prefer not to have them at my table, because it means I can't play my preferred type of game.

Lucypher said...

Guys, thanks for your comments. One additional benefit I have not mentioned is that playing short stacked means I will be all in on many hands I play. Therefore, I get a lot more showdown data for Poker Tracker than I would playing with a bigger stack and winning before the showdown. If your opponents fold prior to showdown, you never really know exactly what hands they are playing.

HighOnPoker said...

Lucypher, I really enjoyed these posts, and it has me thinking about experimenting with short stacks in the near future. Expect some pimpage coming your way.

Keep up the great work.

CC said...

Thanks for these posts. I often buy in short at lower stakes with a goal to get to a certain point (sort of a game to keep my interest). One thing I didn't see you discuss which I am fairly consistent with is that I will top off my stack if I find I'm at an action table or there are a couple monster stacks that I have some handle on. I want to be able to maximize my return with an edge.