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Poker for Beginners

Our 'Poker For Beginners' section outlines the most basic poker theory and strategy, written for you, the beginner. We’ve been where you are. We know that there are thousands of resources that claim to offer poker tips for beginners, but very few actually speak to the real beginner player.

Our poker tips for beginners work long-term by creating a solid framework on which you can build your entire poker life, while simultaneously allowing you to quickly and easily understand the theories and put them into action. A solid education is going to be your first real investment in yourself. It begins by setting appropriate goals and using these reputable resources. Stick with these principles and you’ll be grinding final tables like a champ.

Playing the Short Stack

Evan Jarvis

Take our short stack strategy to heart and learn how you can be down without being out. When most of us think about being short stacked, we probably think it’s the result of a bad run or cards and/or some questionable calls. However, some players simply like to buy into cash games with a shorter stack. Regardless of the reason, there are plenty of ways to build on your capital by gaining a solid grasp on short stack strategy.

What does playing with a short stack mean for you, and how do you implement a basic and effective short stack strategy?

Recognize Your Limitations

Short stack strategy revolves around the fundamental understanding that you have less room to maneuver. This limited reach can make bluffing or pursuing other special plays (like float bets) too risky. Having a short stack means that your action will be confined primarily to the deal and the flop because, for the most part, the more sizeable bets from the more sizeable stacks are made on the turn and river. You, our short stacked friend, won't have the expendable resources to get in the action on a less than stellar footing – and without solid footing you are not going to want to push your luck. 

Dedication to Conservation

A large part of short stack strategy relies on being able to identify the best poker starting hands - and even once you have a handle on the best starting hands, you need to play on the very conservative end of that spectrum. We’re talking big, suited cards that stand of chance of making at least top pair at the flop. Sure, landing small pocket pairs or even suited connectors may seem enticing, but you also have to remember that they can still come at too dear a cost when you don't have the big stack to cushion your loss. 

Position Considerations

When thinking about short stack strategy you’ll also want to consider your position at the table. Do you have the luxury of checking to see how the betting round pans out? If so, you can afford to stay in the game for another round. Are you a blind who is going to have to post a bet (or a portion of the bet) regardless? If so – and especially if you are the big blind – you may as well stay in the game as long as it isn’t costing you. Are you in a late position where you can gauge the quality of your opponents’ hands? If you see a lot of checking or folding, you may be able to squeak by on a slightly less stellar starting hand (though nothing short of pairs higher than 77 – AA or AT, AJ, AQ, AK, KQ). All these factors will impact whether or not you are going to want to put any of your own cash on the line.