One method many online poker players have adopted in recent years is called “short stacking”. This is an approach one can take in no-limit hold’em cash games. Online poker rooms have a minimum and a maximum buy-in for their no-limit games. Usually, the minimum buy-in is 20-40 big blinds and the maximum buy-in is 100-200 big blinds. Short stacking means buying in with the absolute minimum and looking for spots to shove all-in preflop.
For example, a $5/$10 game I used to play had a minimum buy-in of $200 and a maximum buy-in of $1,000. Late in the night after many fish had come and gone, it wasn’t uncommon to see 3 or 4 players sitting with more than $2,000. Since my bankroll wasn’t large enough to buy-in for the maximum, occasionally I would sit down with the minimum, $200.
Most players who short stack really only make one play: fold or shove all-in preflop. The point of this article isn’t to tell you exactly what hands you should shove all-in with in what position. The complexities of no-limit hold’em make it hard to play under a rigid structure. For players who like to look at preflop starting hand charts, take it to the kiddie tables (limit hold’em).
The goal when short stacking is to double up and leave. Buying in for the bare minimum, doubling up, and then leaving has received a lot of criticism from the poker community. Most of this criticism comes from jaded max buy-in players who don’t know how to handle short stackers. We can argue whether short stacking is unethical or not, but people who participate in that type of whining and moaning are probably going to elect Barack Obama President of the United States and lead to the economy’s collapse as a result of taxing businesses to death. The relevant matter is this: as long as online poker rooms let players buy-in for 20 or 40 big blinds and allow them to leave whenever they damn well please, there’s no reason one should feel bad for short stacking.