Full Ring Shortstack Strategy

If you are new to poker and play primarily for fun, most probably you are a loose-passive player (fish) at the moment. You call with a wide range of hands preflop, check/call postflop just to see the showdown, and bet or raise very rarely.

Although you may get lucky in the short run, the longer you play this style, the more money you are going to lose. It is high time to change this and convert you to a winning player.

Even if it seems uncomplicated, poker is a very complex game. As a beginner, you should avoid getting into difficult situations. Learn to walk before you run. This is why the shortstack strategy was created.

Full ring shortstack strategy

The shortstack strategy is very simple and easy to learn. You play only premium hands with a very small stack but this time very aggressively. Most of the time you will be putting all your chips either preflop or on the flop. This way you will never have to deal with tough decisions on later streets.

Start with the lowest possible stakes. Players that can be found there are terribly bad. They will not notice that you play only 4-5% of hands and they are still going to pay for your nuts with their weak hands. When you move up in stakes, you will find it harder to beat the game with this basic shorstack strategy. You will face more thinking players there that will not be willing to play with anything less than KK against you.

You have to play exclusively at full ring (9-10 players) tables with no free seats. It is crucial. The more players at the table, the less often you will have to post blinds and the profit from your premium hands will exceed the losses from posting blinds.

As the strategy name says, you need to play with a short stack. Every time you seat at a table, buy-in for 20 big blinds. If it drops below that amount, rebuy back to 20 big blinds. Whenever you stack exceeds 40 big blinds, leave. You should stay until the last hand before you are about to post big blind so you can see more hands for free, then you must leave.

Every time you get dealt a premium hand (described below) preflop, you should raise. Your raise should be big – to 4 times the big blind. If there are callers, you should raise even more – additional 1 big blind per caller. For example, with 3 callers - raise to 7 big blinds. If somebody has made a raise before or behind you, just push all-in.

What hands should I play?

As mentioned earlier, you are going to play only premium hands. No more “any suited”, “any ace” or “any face” cards. Position is crucial in poker and the shortstack strategy will teach you to play positionally. The later position, the more hands you can play.

We can split positions into 4 categories:

 Early positions - 3 seats directly to the left of the big blind
 Middle positions – 3 seats directly to the left of the last early position
 Late positions – 2 seats directly to the right of the small blind
 Blinds – seats that post forced bets preflop – small blind and big blind

When there have been no raises, you should play the following hands:

 Early position - JJ, QQ, KK, AA and AK
 Middle position - 99, TT, JJ, QQ, KK, AA, AQ, AK
 Late position and blinds - 77, 88, 99, TT, JJ, QQ, KK, AA, KQ, AJ, AQ, and AK

With raises before or behind you, you should tighten up:

 1 raiser before you - JJ, QQ, KK, AA and AK
 2 and more raisers before you - KK and AA
 1 and more raisers behind you - TT, JJ, QQ, KK, AA, and AK

If there is a raise behind you and you hold a hand that is not listed above (for example 77) - fold.

How to play on the flop?

On the flop, you should bet and raise every time you have:

 Top pair with at least a jack kicker
 Overpair, two pair, and better
 Flush draw or open-ended straight draw if you were the preflop raiser
 Any hand if you were the preflop raiser and there is only one caller on the flop

In any other situation, you should check/fold.

Conclusion on full ring shortstack strategy

The shortstack strategy is easy to learn and still effective at the lowest stakes. This is why it is recommended for any beginning player. It teaches to play tight, aggressive and positional oriented poker, which is the foundation of any winning poker player.

Go back to the Online Poker Strategy.