Home / Community / Forum / Poker Education / Poker Education & Beginners Questions /

Short handed play

Short handed play - Sat Dec 31, 2011, 03:17 AM
DasherF78's Avatar
Since: Oct 2011
Posts: 75
Hi Guys,

What's a good way of learning how to play short handed? I don't want to play short handed SNGs and I'm not sure how serious play money players will play. I want improve this area as I don't have a great win conversion rate. In my first 100 tounaments (mostly 45 man) my in the money is about 27% with 1 win, 5 seconds, 3 thirds and 18 4th - 10th.

Sat Dec 31, 2011, 06:46 AM
JDean's Avatar
Since: Aug 2010
Posts: 3,145
Biggest adjustment I tend to make is in terms of how i think about position.

A lot of what determines whether or not you enter a hand oop is determined by the number of people behind you who might raise; in EP there are more who might raise you, therefore you want to hold a STRONGER hand, one with decent equity, in case you do get raised.

At a short handed table, there will always be fewer people to act after you (except when you are the BTN, then you are facing the blinds as you would at a full ring table). Example:

UTG at a full ring, you have 8 or 9 players acting after you.
UTG at a 6 handed table, you have just 5 players to act after you.

With less chance for someone to wake up with a 3bet hand, I tend to make the adjustment to raise to enter with the same sorts of hands that I normally would at a full ring table from MIDDLE POSITION.

At a 6 handed table, UTG +2 (3rd to act), would be the equivalent to opening form the CUT OFF spot at a full ring.


Of note:

Oftentimes in an MTT you will find yourself in a short handed situation only in the middle or later stages of the event. These stages are defined by generally shorter average stacks (rough guide would be Early = 100 to 50BB avg, Middle = 50 to about 25/30BB, Late = sub 30BB avg).

The range of options to continue with a full spectrum of "standard" type bet actions is severely effected by the overall depth of money. How you re-act to 3bets also is greatly effected by depth of money. As such, it is often better to adjust your standard open raise sizing in the middle and late stages to reflect the larger "pressure" 3bets will tend to bring on shorter stacks.

An Early Stage open raise standard of 3BB or even as much as 4BB can be ok; it is not highly damaging to fold that amount to play back on extremely deep money (+50BB).

Middle and later stage play though, when the chance of being short handed is greater, should probably see you moving to a standard open raise between 2.2BB and 2.5BB to go.

Keep in mind, if you are opening frequently at a short handed table, you WILL see people 3betting you quite often. If you have hands that tend to be BETTER than the likely 3bet range (like AJs/99/AQo), you really do NOT want to be immediately giving up to 3bets. By making your open raise sizing smaller at the short tables you may well be able to call (or 4bet shove with a chance to have fold equity), over a lot of those 3bets to at least see the flop.

These are just a couple of things to think about for short handed play.

Hope it helps.


Double Bracelet Winner

Getting PokerStars is easy: download and install the PokerStars game software, create your free player account, and validate your email address. Clicking on the download poker button will lead to the installation of compatible poker software on your PC of 51.7 MB, which will enable you to register and play poker on the PokerStars platform. To uninstall PokerStars use the Windows uninstaller: click Start > Control Panel and then select Add or Remove programs > Select PokerStars and click Uninstall or Remove.

Copyright (c) PokerSchoolOnline.com. All rights reserved, Rational Group, Douglas Bay Complex, King Edward Road, Onchan, Isle of Man, IM3 1DZ. You can email us on support@pokerschoolonline.com