The Strategic Importance of Stack Size

stacks of chips

Any solid professional NLHE cash game player will know what I am about to tell you. This is that stack depth has a profound effect on strategy. Remember that the actual strategy employed in any given situation is directly connected to the overall game dynamic. For example, if you have good players to your left with deep stacks then this impacts on your raising strategy from position. Also if you have good short stack players to your left then this impacts on your raising strategy as well.

You can more readily call raises when you have position and also when your opponents range is wide. However, one of the biggest factors in game strategy is stack depth and when you call a raise in position then the stacks need to be deep enough for you to have enough fold equity. Remember that it is critical that you have more than one way to win a pot. You cannot rely on always making the best hand too often because the mathematics of the game will dictate that you simply will not make a playable hand often enough.

You need to learn how to extract profit from bad situations and then you need to speed up your thinking process. This allows you to be able to play more tables and thus make more money. It is also worth mentioning that in no way is a 100bb stack a deep stack. A lot of lesser experienced players believe that it is a deep stack simply because it is the maximum allowed. However, that’s just the point……..it is the maximum allowed by most poker sites. Just because a stack is the “maximum allowed” doesn’t make it a deep stack.

If there is a raise to 3.5bb and a 3/bet and call pre-flop then there are around 25bb in the pot with each player having around 89bb left or so with a 100bb stack. A pot sized bet and call on the flop would make the pot around 75bb with each player only having around 64bb left with two rounds of betting still to come. So this one example alone highlights just how easy it is to become stack committed and pot committed in NLHE.

There are many discussions on “deep stack” NLHE cash game strategy and the word “deep stack” is often mentioned. However you have to build up to a deep stack in most cash games because most professionals think that a deep stack starts at around 200bb. So if the site only allows you to start with a 100bb stack then this is not a deep stack and you should play it as a middling stack. This means playing tightly and solidly and waiting for your opponents to make mistakes.

If you are patient enough then your opponents will make them for sure at the lower levels. However it cannot be said enough that to be a true expert at NLHE cash games means being able to read stack depth and then implement that into your game play.