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Finland’s Short-Stacking Genius

by Sanna Poyry |  Published: Jul 01, 2010

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Finland's Short-Stacking Genius

Once upon a time Finnish online player “Raoh_” gained a huge amount of enemies on several poker forums. He did what many believed couldn’t be done or what others believed was just blind luck. “Raoh_” won hundreds of thousand of dollars with his short-stacking style, and no one could put a stop to it. Now the infamous short-stacking player is about to reveal his secrets.

Raoh_ has played poker as a profession for years and has, while playing, spent countless of hours studying, analysing, and building mathematical models of the game and the players. As a result of all this work, he has created charts, large enough to cover half a wall each, which map out all the possible scenarios in a poker game. Raoh_ has only ever read one poker book that covered limit games so his approach to poker is all thanks to his own analyses.

“A lot of people think that you can’t win by short-stacking,” said the mysterious Finnish phenom, “when in reality just the size of the stack already gives you a positive advantage over someone playing with a full stack.”

Before he made his huge wins, even Raoh_ had to pay his poker dues.

Finland's Short-Stacking Genius“I started my poker career in small PartyPoker $0.5-$1 limit games my friends recommended. At the time, all of my friends made money really easily, but I never managed to get any profit. At the end of 2005 I finally obtained some small extra money playing sixhanded limit games, while focusing on my university studies.”

Sit ‘n’ Go Success

Instead of grinding cash games, Raoh_ decided to try other forms of games instead. Pieces started to fit together once he tried sit ‘n’ go tournaments.

“The first significant step on my poker career was when I started to focus fully in playing sit ‘n’ go’s. For the first time, I realised what poker was all about. Playing in sit ‘n’ go’s was uncomplicated and I started to understand my opponents’ different ranges in different scenarios.”

After this great revelation, Raoh_ started to spend time studying and researching strategies. To help him, he used a program called SNG Power Tools. Time was used on mapping out preflop decisions, working out hand ranges, and analysing specific scenarios. Fruits of hard labour started to show immediately and the number of games played increased.

“In the summer of 2007 I decided to take control of the PartyPoker Leaderboard. I played $10 sit ‘n’ go tournaments 14 hours a day, 12 tables simultaneously, for about one month. From this marathon I earned approximately $30,000 dollars and the title of Leaderboard champion.

“At this time the thought of the possibility of earning a lot of money from poker began to seem realistic. Moving up to $50 sit ‘n’ go’s happened quite fast and those went quite well too. A little bit later PartyPoker had to ban Americans playing from their site, which caused the number of games to decrease dramatically. I had to start looking for a new place to play or a new form of game.”

The Call of Cash Games

Raoh_ decided to return to the form of game which was the first he was introduced to when he began playing.

“I thought that now would be a good time to head for a different type game altogether. I hadn’t really won any money at cash games before. The reason I had played poker was that I found it interesting and fun to do, but now I wanted some new challenges. I’ve also always wanted to learn the game I play as thoroughly as possible, so I made the decision to really start learning the game at sixhanded no-limit tables.”

Thanks to his sit ‘n’ go earnings, the youngster didn’t have to begin playing at the micro tables. Instead he could start playing at a level where winning and losing really made a difference to the bank account.

“I began by playing $200 tables and I immediately understood the importance of three-betting and continuation bets. The next four months went really well and I basically felt like I was printing money. However, I had always played with a really conservative bankroll control so when I moved to play the $400 games the losses at the beginning made me feel really insecure.”

Finland's Short-Stacking GeniusIn 2007 games practically revolved around tenhanded $200 no-limit hold’em tables, in which the variance seemed more comfortable than in sixhanded games. At this stage Raoh_ had the idea to take his tournament strategies into cash games and ended up developing his short-stacking style. His leading thought was to map out all the possible preflop scenarios accurately.

“In January 2008 I asked a friend of mine to write a program which would allow me to solve preflop situations. This basically meant that I sat the whole month in front of my computer using the program and creating charts. The idea was to move completely to sixhanded games which had considerably more action than full tables.”

As early as February the practice moved straight to $1,000 tables. In the next three months the system proved its effectiveness and brought its user several hundred thousand dollars in earnings.

“After this I became, should I say ‘an arrogant asshole’, and I began to play $5,000 games and challenge the very best players. I also went to the biggest Omaha-tables to challenge the regulars without actually knowing the game. After this it was time to take a break and return to do what I did best — playing short-stacked.”

Bulletproof System

Fooling around in the high-stakes tables came to an end after a while and nowadays Raoh_ sticks to the medium stakes games. Simultaneously he develops his system to be even better.

“At the moment I have developed my strategies considerably with the help of several professional poker players. The coverage of the system has increased and we have made the system more polished. It is a system that anyone can learn to use in just a month, Raoh_says giving an example.

“I once taught a good friend of mine to play sit ‘n’ go tournaments. Sometimes we played at my house day and night for two straight weeks. Later we continued the coaching and I taught him my short-stacking strategy. From that time forward my friend has systematically played at $1,000, $2,000, and $5,000 levels. I gave him lectures, we discussed theoretical matters, and we took turns to play sessions while the other one watched and commented on the game.”

At this stage Raoh_ starts to talk about his optimum strategies, pseudo-Nash equilibrium, Monte Carlo-simulations, and how to change ones own game.

Raoh_ says, that his system makes good profit when playing against good players, but the amount of profit increases considerably when his opponents make mistakes. The most important trump card of the system is, according to him, the fact that one cannot abuse the system and it is really hard to play against. A great number of good players are completely defenceless against a good short-stacking player.

What’s Next?

A lot about the effectiveness of the youngster can be concluded from his final statements.

“I have never had an unprofitable month in poker. I’ve had a few weeks when I lost some money, but these have been really rare.”

From this foundation it is easy to look forward to the future. At the moment Raoh_ is focused on teaching his system and developing new strategies in the increasingly tough world of online poker. He also has interests and projects outside poker.

“If my system spreads to general use, it could mean the death of poker at certain stakes. At the moment poker rooms allow minimum buy-ins at the tables, so those who use this strategy are going to be really strong.”

This writer has seen the system in action and I’ve began to fear the same. If you already hate short-stacking players, you are really going to hate this man. Spade Suit

Raoh has launched a website (Shortsystem.com) to teach and demonstrate his shortstacking system. Use code ”cardplayer” when signing up._