Shoving Short Stacks in Poker Tournaments

When playing poker tournaments, we’d all love to have the cards fall into the right place, and not have our chip stacks in danger at any point. Unfortunately, this only happens to players in the rarest of circumstances, and the vast majority of the time, you’ll be dealing with a short stack at some point in a tournament.

Seeing as how being the short stack gives you very little leverage to make effective raises or steal hands, this is a terrible place to be. Furthermore, you’re only a few blind orbits away from being knocked out of the tournament. It’s for this reason why most poker players suggest a shove or fold approach once your chip stack gets down around 10 big blinds.

The reason why is because you need to build your stack quickly to have any shot at waiting for better hands, and making effective plays against bigger stacks. This being said, you need to know when the ideal situations arise for shoving short stacks in poker tournaments.

Now the big mistake that many people make here is only focusing on their poker cards, rather than table position and stack sizes. For example, if you’re only looking at your cards and you get A-J in early position, this might seem like a solid hand to shove with; however, you also have to consider how many people are left to act after you, and their stack sizes because several people might call just because they think you’re going for a desperation steal.

As a general rule, the later your position, the wider range of hands you can shove with. For example, in an unraised pot with A-J, this is a great opportunity for you to shove the short stack in an attempt to steal a hand. Even if you get called, you at least have a solid chance with A-J.

There are a host of other factors to consider too such as how the opponents behind you play. For example, if you have three loose-aggressive players left to act, shoving would be a bad decision unless you’ve got the cards. However, if the players left to act are tight, and the blinds won’t defend, this presents a much better chance to shove and steal a hand.

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