Switching to deep stacked play


The term “deep stack” came into parlance some years ago and it is a term used to describe poker when played with a stack of 200bb or more. In fact in some cash games then it isn’t uncommon for players to have 500bb or more. The dynamics of how poker is played shift dramatically when stacks become far deeper. As a rule then players tend to gravitate more towards the nuts as the risk becomes far larger. This process is a natural one because most of us at some stage would be afraid to risk considerable sums of money.

So what this effectively means is that hand values change when the stacks become deeper and it is this shift that traps a lot of players when their stacks deepen. A player for example may start out buying into an online poker site for the 100bb maximum. He may then double up after winning a big pot and suddenly have 200bb. Then he wins another 150bb and is feeling happy with himself to be sat with 350bb and 250bb in total profit.

However and here is the key thing, the game has changed considerably and if he plays some hands for his entire stack in the same way that he would if he were sitting with 100bb then he is making gross errors. Let us take a look at a hand like A-K to show you what I mean when it is played in a tournament set up like with 40bb. Any player wouldn’t be making much of an error stacking off with A-K pre-flop for 40bb. In fact if they flopped top pair and top kicker then it would be terribly tight to fold on the flop when the blinds and antes are escalating rapidly.

In cash games though then your opponents are not only playing tighter than in the middle stages of a tournament but they are also able to buy back in if they lose their stack. In cash games the average stack is far deeper than in a tournament and this makes a huge difference. In true deep stacked play then you need to build hands that gravitate towards the nuts or near nuts. So a hand like A-K is going to flop a lot of top pair type hands or two pair but its straight and flush making potential is restricted.

A hand like A-5s is a great deep stacked hand because you can make the nut flush and the almost certain nut straight on a board of 4-3-2 because the 6-5 combination is unlikely. A hand like 7-6s would much prefer to make a straight in a big pot than a flush. On boards like A-9-8-5-2 then you have the nuts with a straight assuming no flush possibility but if you make a flush then your flush is only seven high and beaten by many higher flushes. So your hand selection needs to be different to what you would do were you to be playing a much shorter stack.