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Open Small, or Open-Shove

A mathematical analysis

by Matt Matros |  Published: Oct 15, 2010


It’s fairly easy to play a short stack in no-limit hold’em; if you like your hand, you go all in, and if you don’t, you fold. The difficulties arise, however, when you have a stack that’s just a little too big to be called “short.” What do you do with a stack that’s small enough to reasonably move all in, but big enough to reasonably open for a smaller, more standard raise? Some players simply pretend that this problem doesn’t exist. Even with a medium-sized stack and a marginal-but-playable preflop hand, they move all of their chips to the center and get on with their lives. For the more thoughtful tournament players, however, the dilemma of the “small-medium” stack (which, I guess, is what I’ll call it) is a tough one to ponder. The temptation to just move all in with your small-medium stack is quite strong. After all, this ...

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