Yet another unique characteristic of low-stakes games is the abundance of short-stacked opponents. Because $1/$2 is usually the smallest stakes no-limit game offered in the casino, and because so many recreational players will not reload when they get short, you will often end up with several stacks at the table well below 100 big blinds, and even some sub-50 big blind stacks.

Playing against these varying stack sizes can create some tricky dynamics, but that will be covered in greater detail in the next two Courses.

The gist of the mistake is that many players simply don’t adjust their play, at all. You simply can not play the same way with a 50 big blind stack as you would with 250..

The most specific form of this mistake is that players will continue to call preflop raises with a wide range of marginal hands. With live opening sizes being on the larger side (typically about 4-6 times the big blind), these preflop calls get more and more dicey as your stack size decreases.

The thing about hands like pocket Fours or Seven-Six suited is that they rely on deeper stacks, implied odds, and fold equity to be profitable. All of these factors go out the window if you are playing a short stack.

  • You can not win a big enough pot in the rare occurrence that you do make a hand with speculative preflop holdings, to make it worth calling. You will lose far more continually trying to make a big hand then you can ever make up for with a short stack when you finally do.
  • Likewise, you don’t have any fold equity to be able to play your draws aggressively and get people to fold. This is very important when playing suited connectors, as you are going to make big draws far more often than you will actually make hands.

The other major form of short-stacked mistakes is failing to take advantage of good squeeze and shove spots.  As we learned in Lesson 2D of this course, low-stakes live games have tons of pots that are often raised and called by several players. This creates perfect opportunities for short-stacked players to move all-in, profiting from all that dead money in the pot.

  • Basically, an aggressive 3-Betting strategy would be one actual advantage of playing a short-stack in these games, yet most short-stacked players actually do the opposite.

If you find yourself with a short stack, it is imperative that you change up your strategy. You can not call preflop raises with mediocre hands for large percentages of your stack. Your implied odds go way down, so you have to be more selective about what hands you play, and how you play them. Look to be aggressive and capitalize on your opponents' tendencies.