How does deep stack strategy differ from short stack strategy?

When playing a short stack it is generally recommended to play a tight but aggressive (TAG) style, waiting for premium hands and trying to get all your chips in early in the hand, be it pre-flop or on the flop. Those normally associated with Scratch Cards Online should note how most tournaments will end up as a battle of short stacks; it is very common late in tournaments for even the chip leaders to have a stack size of only 50 big blinds and the short stacks will often be below 10 big blinds. It will be rare to get much betting on the turn or river in these late stages of tournaments.

Deep stack poker however, plays very differently. Whilst a TAG style of play is recommended with a short stack, as the stacks get deeper, good players are able to play far more hands profitably. A pair of aces is still the best starting hand and 72 off suit the weakest, but the difference between premium and speculative hands like T9 off suit and 76 suited is reduced the deeper the stacks become.

Let us consider the strongest starting hand in hold’em; a pair of aces. If we are playing a $5/$10 game with a 20 big blind stack of $200 and make a fairly standard raise of $35 from early position getting 2 callers from middle and late position. Going to the flop there is $120 in the pot and we only have $165 left, almost regardless of what comes down on the flop the play is simply to go all in. It could be argued we are already pot committed and even if we aren’t already, any reasonable sized bet pot commits us so there is little value to making a bet of say, $100, and leaving $65 back.  However, if we change the scenario to a deep stack situation where everyone involved has at least 200 big blinds the hand can potentially play out very differently. Betting $100 on the flop now seems like a reasonable play.


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