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Old 04-12-2017, 01:15 PM   #1
DalTXColtsFan
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Shortstacking in live NL

This is more for conversation than for actual advice, so I hope it's okay that I posted it here.

I am an LHE player. One of my best friends is a winning NL player. He's always trying to get me to give up "that fixed limit crap" and switch to NL. I keep telling him I'm bankroll challenged and can't afford to risk losing $200 in 10 minutes - my wife would crucify me! He says, "Then buy in for $80 and if you lose it buy in for another $80!"

Yesterday I was sitting next to a guy on a plane who saw me reading a poker book and started talking to me - supposedly he's a winning player at 5/10NL, and he said the same thing to me. He said even he shortstacks 5/10NL sometimes, i.e. buying in for $500.

I know my friend is a winning player - he's won between $30K and $50K over the last 10 years. I don't know whether or not the guy I was sitting by is actually a winning player but based on the conversation it's not hard to believe he is.

This is the source of my confusion - why would a winning NL player even SUGGEST buying in short???

Doesn't your skill as NL player come from making better decisions than everyone else? And if so, don't you want there to be as many decisions to make per hand as possible so your opponents have more chances to make mistakes? And doesn't buying in short rob you of the chance to put the villains to as many decisions as possible?

Hope the question made sense
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Old 04-12-2017, 01:49 PM   #2
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Re: Shortstacking in live NL

Short stacking can simplify your decisions so you don't make big mistakes. It can also keep others from bluffing since you don't have enough chips to be bluffed.

It's also only good to be deep stacked if you have an advantage over other deep stacks. I quite often see people buy in full because "that's what good players do," but all the fish are short and they're out of position to a tough reg.


I'd say the long term answer for you though is to build a bankroll so you can take a beat without getting upset.
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Old 04-12-2017, 01:54 PM   #3
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Re: Shortstacking in live NL

Playing short stacked can be +EV depending on the table conditions.
Think about it this way:
If you have a full 100bb stack, and everyone else has a half stack (50bb) do you think that you could make money at that table if they were all bad?

This is effectively the same situation as you being 50bb and them all being 100bb deep.
But it doesn't mean that it's the highest EV situation.

And that will vary person to person and game to game.
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Old 04-12-2017, 02:04 PM   #4
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Re: Shortstacking in live NL

Generally, if you have a skill advantage over other deep stacks, you want to cover them. This comes up in my game a lot since it's uncapped 1/2. If I see a fish sitting $800 deep I'm generally going to be buying in deep enough to cover them.

Now just because it may be more profitable to be deep stacked doesn't mean it's not profitable to play short stacked. If your friend is saying you'd make more money short stacking 1/2 NLHE rather than playing limit that may or may not be true, but certainly isn't crazy.
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Old 04-12-2017, 02:07 PM   #5
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Re: Shortstacking in live NL

The primary reason that you, in particular, should be buying in short is because you aren't rolled for the games you are playing and the risk of ruin is too high if you buy in full. Another reason is that you do NOT have an edge in those games. The reason I say that is because you haven't even really played much no limit. 90% of the players at that level are losing players. There's no reason to suspect that you will be any different right out of the gates.

The general attitude in live cash games is that you should always buy in full. However, I'd take that with a grain of salt. Again remember that 90% of all players are losing players, so of course people want other players to put as much money as possible on the table.

There are merits to buying in full and merits to playing short (which are generally ignored here). Online there are many winning players that short stack. In live NL cash, running into a good winning short stack player is extremely rare. Off the top of my head I can only think of a couple ever, and that includes me who generally buys in for 60bbs (unless the game requires higher). This isn't a true short stack but since live poker tends to play so deep with large raise sizes, it is definitely considered short stacking in live poker.
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Old 04-12-2017, 02:15 PM   #6
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Re: Shortstacking in live NL

My friend is a LHE player who doesnt have BR issues, but wasnt winning at NLHE, and doesnt have it locally so doesnt have a lot of interest in long term improvement to his game. We settled in on him shortstacking when he is in town.

Basically one of the biggest changes from LHE to NL is you need to fold medium made hands in certain situations. folding AA HU is rare at LHE, calling down is normally trivial. Shortstacked you no longer have that problem.

Basically play like a nit, bet big pre (like $20 if you can get calls, or 3 bet ship), and just ship most flops. Its not as EV+ as deepstacked if you are good but i doubt you have a big skill advantage anyway.

then youll bust or double up, if you bust you rebuy, if you double up you get lunch. Probably flipping at a 65/35 line or so.
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Old 04-12-2017, 02:27 PM   #7
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Re: Shortstacking in live NL

A good deepstack NL player can potentially win way way way more than a good shortstack player.

However, a shortstack player can still win, and win with a fairly easy-to-implement strategy. Plus, there is absolutely no reason to think that you are a good deepstack player (especially if you have little experience, cuz the strategy is likely *way* more involved than a simple shortstack strategy).

If you're just starting out in NL, shortstacking is likely a very good way to get your feet wet. Although you'll have to figure out what to do when you double/triple up and no longer are a shortstack (i.e. can you rathole by switching tables, or stakes, or have to hit/run and then quickly get back into a game, etc.).

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Old 04-12-2017, 02:27 PM   #8
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Re: Shortstacking in live NL

If I were in your situation I would take your friend's advice and buy in short. Just consider this like you are just shot taking. If you lose then go back to 4/8. If you are able to win some and build your roll a bit then begin increasing your buyin amounts. During this time you will be gaining valuable experience which will make you a better player.

If you ever get super deep or deep to the point that you are uncomfortable then I'd recommend changing tables and taking money off the table. "Hitting and running" is considered uncouth but is completely within the rules at this poker room (it's actually required if you want to change tables) and your primary consideration should be to stay in the good graces of your wife, not the other players. That being said, there tends to be a lot of short stacks at those 1/2 games so deep stack depths may not even be an issue much.
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Old 04-12-2017, 02:30 PM   #9
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Re: Shortstacking in live NL

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Originally Posted by Tomark View Post
Basically play like a nit, bet big pre (like $20 if you can get calls, or 3 bet ship), and just ship most flops.
That's pretty much exactly what my friend told me too. Keep in mind I don't play much live NLHE, but I feel like the problem there is so many flops are going to hit the villains' range harder than mine and they're not going to fold.

For example 3 limps and I raise to $20 on the button with QQ, they all call (which happens a LOT at 1/2) and the flop comes Axx or Kxx. Surely I'm not shipping that flop? And 25% of my buyin is already gone.

Or for another example 5 limpers, I raise to $25 from the SB with AK, 4 callers and I whiff the flop. Surely I'm not shipping that flop? No 1/2 player is going to fold even third pair for the measly little bit I have left in my stack with the pot that big. And now I've kissed about 30% of my buyin goodbye.

Of course, the flip side is that if I flop an overpair and shove, nobody's going to fold 3rd pair so I'm basically guaranteed at least a doubleup as long as nobody flopped a rare monster. And if I have AK and pair either my A or my K, worse As and Ks aren't folding.

Are those just possibilities a shortstacker has to accept?
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Old 04-12-2017, 02:33 PM   #10
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Re: Shortstacking in live NL

Also depends on what level of Limit you play and what the rake is. With a meh rake / BBJ drop / promo drop / tip, I doubt you're winning much at the 4/8 level (and any stake below that is likely unbeatable). So if those are your choices, jumping in to the 1/2 NL game and shortstacking to get your feet wet is a good option (one that I wish I considered *way* earlier than I did).

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Old 04-12-2017, 02:36 PM   #11
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Re: Shortstacking in live NL

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Originally Posted by DalTXColtsFan View Post
That's pretty much exactly what my friend told me too. Keep in mind I don't play much live NLHE, but I feel like the problem there is so many flops are going to hit the villains' range harder than mine and they're not going to fold.

For example 3 limps and I raise to $20 on the button with QQ, they all call (which happens a LOT at 1/2) and the flop comes Axx or Kxx. Surely I'm not shipping that flop? And 25% of my buyin is already gone.

Or for another example 5 limpers, I raise to $25 from the SB with AK, 4 callers and I whiff the flop. Surely I'm not shipping that flop? No 1/2 player is going to fold even third pair for the measly little bit I have left in my stack with the pot that big. And now I've kissed about 30% of my buyin goodbye.

Of course, the flip side is that if I flop an overpair and shove, nobody's going to fold 3rd pair so I'm basically guaranteed at least a doubleup as long as nobody flopped a rare monster. And if I have AK and pair either my A or my K, worse As and Ks aren't folding.

Are those just possibilities a shortstacker has to accept?
Yup, that's it in a nutshell. Raise big preflop and commit stacks on all but the ugliest of flops (so yeah, you'll typically be check/folding QQ on A high flops and whiffed AK with no draw in multiway pots).

Basically, any hand you raise preflop you're almost always playing for shortstacks postflop, which is sometimes hard for a Limit to NL player to digest.

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Old 04-12-2017, 02:40 PM   #12
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Re: Shortstacking in live NL

I love your little footnotes gobbledy!
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Old 04-12-2017, 02:44 PM   #13
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Re: Shortstacking in live NL

When a good player sits down at a 1/2 table and sees short stacks, can the good player typically quickly tell who are the shortstacking fish vs. who are the shortstackers who are just waiting for a good hand to bet and shove? Do good players HATE it when there's someone at the table who's just waiting for a big hand to bet and shove? Going back to the premise of making less mistakes than the other guy I would imagine that shortstacking nits who will raise big pre and shove all but the ugliest flops can be really frustrating to play AGAINST because they'll so seldom be making egregious mistakes.
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Old 04-12-2017, 02:44 PM   #14
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Re: Shortstacking in live NL

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I love your little footnotes gobbledy!
You are in the minority.

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Old 04-12-2017, 02:49 PM   #15
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Re: Shortstacking in live NL

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Originally Posted by DalTXColtsFan View Post
When a good player sits down at a 1/2 table and sees short stacks, can the good player typically quickly tell who are the shortstacking fish vs. who are the shortstackers who are just waiting for a good hand to bet and shove? Do good players HATE it when there's someone at the table who's just waiting for a big hand to bet and shove? Going back to the premise of making less mistakes than the other guy I would imagine that shortstacking nits who will raise big pre and shove all but the ugliest flops can be really frustrating to play AGAINST because they'll so seldom be making egregious mistakes.
Yeah, good players hate good shortstacking players sitting at the table because if that's all there was then the game would be unbeatable (someone will probably chime in how a good player could overrun all these guys, but good luck with that).

It's pretty easy to spot a good shortstacking player (and you will very rarely find any): they almost never call a raise preflop, they either fold (like almost always) or occasionally 3bet ship. The exceptions would be when slowplaying a monster (such as AA/KK and fine going very multiway with very lol small stack sizes), or when a zillion people call in front of them and they're getting ~immediate setmining odds. They might overlimp in LP with speculative hands after some limpers, but other than that they are usually entering the pot with a raise.

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Old 04-12-2017, 03:04 PM   #16
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Re: Shortstacking in live NL

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Originally Posted by DalTXColtsFan View Post
When a good player sits down at a 1/2 table and sees short stacks, can the good player typically quickly tell who are the shortstacking fish vs. who are the shortstackers who are just waiting for a good hand to bet and shove? Do good players HATE it when there's someone at the table who's just waiting for a big hand to bet and shove? Going back to the premise of making less mistakes than the other guy I would imagine that shortstacking nits who will raise big pre and shove all but the ugliest flops can be really frustrating to play AGAINST because they'll so seldom be making egregious mistakes.
If I see a shortstack I assume they're a fish or have just lot a big pot, haven't reloaded and are tilted. I don't know if I've ever been wrong about that. There must be some good live short stack players, but I've never met them. It is true that it would suck to play with a good shortstacker.
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Old 04-12-2017, 04:00 PM   #17
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Re: Shortstacking in live NL

There aren't any good players playing those 1/2 games, short stack or otherwise.

If a player wants to nit it up with a short stack, I welcome them to my table because they are essentially an empty seat and I like playing short handed.

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Old 04-12-2017, 04:03 PM   #18
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Re: Shortstacking in live NL

BTW those games are a huge limpfest so you should be able to play hands postflop even short.

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Old 04-12-2017, 04:04 PM   #19
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Re: Shortstacking in live NL

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If a player wants to nit it up with a short stack, I welcome them to my table because they are essentially an empty seat and I like playing short handed.
I'm guessing our styles are quite different, but mine works a whole lot better at a full table, so the more losing players sitting at the table >>> shorthanded.

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Old 04-12-2017, 04:10 PM   #20
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Re: Shortstacking in live NL

I'm not convinced being a short stacking nit is a winning strategy. Seriously doubt it is really.

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Old 04-12-2017, 04:13 PM   #21
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Re: Shortstacking in live NL

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I'm not convinced being a short stacking nit is a winning strategy. Seriously doubt it is really.
Most of the games I've played in I believe it would be since there is typically so much dead money in the pot thanks to many limps / many callers (and I forgot to state another exception a good shortstacker could use at loose / wild games: the limp/reraise, where there is often a stack's worth of dead money in the pot even if we never got any action). Course the rake takes a terrible toll in these sized pots, so it certainly wouldn't be a crushing one.

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Old 04-12-2017, 04:18 PM   #22
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Re: Shortstacking in live NL

Problem with shortstacking is multi-fold. Here are a couple:

1) We can't properly set mine. You get 44 OTB, there is a raise to $12 (more likely $15 or higher) and you are sitting on an $80 stack. You are forced to fold. Problem is, most players won't or can't.

2) You are only shortstacking a portion of your session ... unless you jump tables regularly. You win a few pots and are sitting on $200 an hour into your session. You have to completely adjust your playing style. Or, you can ask for a table change, pocket $120 and buy back in for $80.

I have experimented with buying in shorter. I have played 175 hours so far using this strategy and it's working. So far. But LOLsamplesize.

I personally wouldn't buy in for $80. I like $120.
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Old 04-12-2017, 04:29 PM   #23
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Re: Shortstacking in live NL

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1) We can't properly set mine. You get 44 OTB, there is a raise to $12 (more likely $15 or higher) and you are sitting on an $80 stack. You are forced to fold. Problem is, most players won't or can't.
Strategy-wise, this isn't a problem. We simply fold (unless there are enough callers that make it ok to call). If we're not disciplined enough to follow the strategy, then no strategy will be profitable.

Note that we also encounter this situation all the time even when we are sitting deep, and yet the opponent that raises is sitting short (and no one else calls). The proper move is to fold here as well.

GcluelessNLnoobG
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Old 04-12-2017, 05:01 PM   #24
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Re: Shortstacking in live NL

Off topic caveat. I will sometimes call anyway if I know most of the table will call behind me. I want more implied odds overall vs he table if the original raiser is short but if there's deep stacked bad players in the pot to potentially pay me off too I'll take the hit in immediate and implied odds vs. the OR.
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Old 04-12-2017, 05:15 PM   #25
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Re: Shortstacking in live NL

The problem with shortstacking live vs online is the rake.The rake live is astronomical. Lets say you buy in for $100 at the TS 2-3 game (the actual min buy in), The first hand you you get it in as a flip and win...Boom you have $200-$1 taken pre for promotions-$6 for rake=$193-tip.
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