Poker Coverage: Poker Legislation Poker Tournaments Daily Fantasy Sports Poker Stories Podcast U.S. Poker Markets

Thumb_large_jon-little_90-90

Slow Playing when Short Stacked

by Jonathan Little |  Published: Aug 28, '17

Print-icon
 

I recently had the pleasure of playing in the European Poker Tour series in Barcelona, Spain. My trip started out horribly, with me losing with numerous three-of-a-kinds and two-pairs. However, I maintained my sanity and ended up making a deep run in my last tournament of the series, a €2,200 deep-stacked event.

Despite getting off to a good start, I found myself with a 21 big blind stack once we got to the final table. There were no obvious short stacks, so I was not overly concerned with moving up the payout ladder. With seven players at the table at 10,000/20,000-3,000, a loose, aggressive player raised to 43,000 from second position out of his 1,000,000 stack. I decided to call with As-Ac out of my 420,000 stack from third position. I was hoping one of the players yet to act with a 20 big blind stack would go all-in, allowing me to easily get my entire stack in before the flop. Instead, the Cutoff and Small Blind called.

While most amateur players view this as a disaster (seeing a flop against three opponents with A-A), professionals realize this is an amazingly profitable situation. Most of the time, someone will make one pair and be unable to fold. For example, if I am against K-J, Q-9, and 4-4, and the flop comes K-7-5 or Q-7-6, I am almost certain to double up. Of course, I will occasionally run into a flop like K-9-4 or K-J-5 and go broke, but the risk is well worth the reward. When you have a short stack, your main goal with your absolute best hands should be to extract value, not protect them from hands that are drawing relatively thin.

The flop came 9c-9s-6c. The Small Blind checked and the initial raiser bet 93,000 into the 219,000 pot. At this point, I had to decide if I should go all-in or call. Folding is out of the question because even though I could be against trips, I am likely ahead. If I call, I will allow either of the players yet to act to call with their strong draws whereas if I go all-in, I will make them fold (notice now that the draws aren’t drawing thin, so I don’t mind if they fold). If anyone has a strong made hand, such as Q-Q or 8-8, I want to get all-in now because a scary card could come on the turn that would allow them to get away cheaply. Either way, I am accepting that if someone has trips or a full house that I am going broke. Since calling and going all-in have the same result most of the time except when I am against a draw, and I want the draws to fold, I decided to go all-in.

To my surprise, everyone folded. I did not expect the initial raiser to make a continuation bet into three players on a somewhat coordinated board with absolutely nothing, but apparently he did. Seeing how he likely had a marginal hand, if I went all-in before the flop, I would have ended with a 530,000 chip stack. Instead, I ended with a 706,000 stack. To achieve this result, I had to take on a bit of risk, but it was worth it. Don’t be afraid to slow play A-A when you are shallow, especially if calling (instead of 3-betting) will not tip your opponents off to the fact that you have a premium hand. After this hand, I went completely card dead but I continued to slowly chip up, allowing me to take 4th place for €30,000. All in all, it was a great trip!

If you enjoyed this blog post, you will love my new book Mastering Small Stakes No-Limit Hold’em. Over 500 pages and 230 in-depth diagrams, it explains everything you need to know to crush both cash games and tournaments. Check it out and if you have time, please leave a review on Amazon (for Mastering or any of my other works).

Be sure to check back next week for another educational blog post. Thanks for reading.

Jonathan Little is a two-time World Poker Tour champion with more than $6 million in tournament winnings.

 
Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of CardPlayer.com.