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Monday, February 18, 2008

Differences between live and online play and the Power of the Mid Stack

I am going to try an experiment to play 60BBs on all my tables and leave at 110BB+. The reasons are below.

I have never been satisfied with either the buy ins sizes for short stacks or deep stacks. If you are a bad player, there is probably nothing better you can do than play short and premium. Your short stack takes away the weapons of a good player (position and implied odds). As a good player, playing short is costing you money. You are losing too much money by not covering the bad players on the table. However, I believe that although full buy ins and deep stacking is the optimal strategy for LIVE play, online play has its own special considerations that could make mid stack buy in (60BB) the optimal size (leave when you double up).*1

There are 3 reasons why live and online play differs and why you should consider the mid stack.

  1. In live play, the general make up of a table not only is more polarized in skill (sharks or fishes), but has many more fishes on the table. In a short handed online table, it’s typical to have 5 decent B rated players on any given short handed table, while in a live game, you’ll have it polarized with really good and really bad players. This makes it much more important to always be able to cover the fishes or you are losing out on a lot of value.

Not only is there a greater number of fishes, but the fish at casinos are less apt to and less able to run away once they have doubled up. Continuing to build their stack and you continuing to build your stack will put you in a great position to take all their money.

Online play there are less fish (relative to live), the fish jump tables or leave often and the implied odds that work on fish so well do not work as well on regulars.

(I understand that this doesn’t show how the midstack is better than deep, just how deep live is better than deep online).

  1. When you buy in for full your decisions become tougher. When you’re sitting at a live game you are only at ONE table. You have all the time in the world to make each decision and each decision can be fully fleshed out. Buying in full with deep stacks, you can fully concentrate on each hand. Online you are multitabling. Buying in mid stack takes away much of the opponent’s post flop implied odds thereby making OOP and other post flop decisions (varying stack sizes of players in the hand) easy.

Often with only TPTK, after looking at their HUD stats, you can bet out and get 3 easy streets of value. No more pot controlling.

Easier decisions = many more tables. Many more tables = more monies! I believe that if you play mid stack you can play 1.5x more tables. If you played 4 tables before you could play 6 now. If you 10 tabled, you can 15 table. The money you are losing by not covering the regs (you are better than) are easily made up by the extra tables you can play because of the simpler post flop decisions.

  1. Taking away the power of implied odds, weakens the strength of good players who now have less power in putting pressure on you and punishing you for playing out of position. Of course, playing short stack REALLY takes away a lot of the power of great players, playing mid stack is a great compromise. This makes table selection a lot easier. If the skill of the opponents on the table do not matter as much when you’re playing mid stack, then you can almost join any random table and do well. Less time finding great tables and a greater selection of tables to play = great for online.

Still not convinced? Let’s look at the disadvantages to short and deep stack and how a mid stack hopes to alleviate these problems.

Shortstack cons

1. you do not cover the bad player’s stack (collary: other players will likely take fish’s money before you can.)

2. you do not have good implied odds (collary: you play less hands PF, you can never just call a raise). (collary 2: you’re missing out on value when you ever get a monster hand)

Deep stack cons

1. Decisions are are much tougher (collary: you can’t multitable as much)

2. Implied odds are important (collary: playing OOP is less profitable)

3. Skill of opponents matter more.(collary: harder table selection)


  1. Decisions are still VERY easy (your stack is at most only 8 times larger than a flop pot severely taking away post flop implied odds a great deal)

Overpairs and better and very easy to play. You’re committed. With top pair against fishes you don’t have to worry about pot control, you simply just bet out three streets of value at 3/4th pot each time (works out very nicely). It will be a huge mistake for them to call you as their implied odds are totally gone. When you were deep stacked you may have had to pot control vs the fish on the turn because they could stack you on the river with implied odds if you continued to bet.

  1. You still cover the majority of the fishes stacks

Fishes usually do not have a full buy in. at 60BB you are usually covering most of what a fish has. It may not be as good as playing deep and covering them completely, but it’s a hell of a lot better than 20BBs. On average I see fish with 20-80BBs and you cover most of that. If you ever do see a fish with 100BB and you have direct position, then just buy in full.

  1. Since decisions are easy you can multitable like crazy

  1. You STILL have implied odds.

One of the bad things about shortstack play is your implied odds are completely gone. Playing pairs for set value or the like or other creative preflop play is for the majority gone. But with 60BB, anyone who raises to 3.5BB or 4BB, you still have actually the perfect size to sneakily take their roll. Technically, most suggest that you need to make ten times the call in order to get good set value. With 60BB you usually have enough money to make 15 times your preflop call. People will gladly pay off 60BBs with an overpair, yet are much more cautious paying off 100BBs. They might even try to bluff raise you off your set and would never dream of doing that if you were deep.

  1. you STILL can SQUEEZE or 3 bet to steal, for value or to mix up your preflop play. At 60BB the squeeze is usually given up if called preflop, but I find that many people fold to the squeeze since it looks like such a large percentage of your stack. It definitely looks legitimate. Also, at 60BBs your 3bets look menacing enough with your remaining stack size AND you have enough money to choose to cbet if the flop looks bluff worthy. (not possible at 30-50BB).

Imagine a 45BB stack compared to 60BB stack when 3betting + cbetting.


button raises to 3.5. you 3bet to 11 and he calls.

Pot 22. your stack is 33. The pot is so big relative to your stack size, it puts you in an awkward position.

The common cbet to push people off really weak hands and take down the pot is 3/4ths pot. If you bet 17 dollars into this pot, you only have 16 dollars left and almost have to call with most cards if opponent goes all in to see both streets. In a way you are practically betting 33 to win 22 and opponent only calls when he decides he’s ahead of you.

Imagine 60BB

Pot is again 22. but now your stack is 49. your cbet of 17 still leaves you with 32, which is still a scary enough number for them to fold middle and bottom pair and some not so great draws. If you have complete air you can safely fold as you know you do not have outs and you know that they think you are committed.

So you are able to win both on the 3bet preflop and sometimes the cbet when you see a good flop to try it on (ace high flops, dry flops, etc…) people will fold to your 17 when you have 32 left on these kinds of flops. The power of the 3bet, cbet is still available to you.

  1. the skill of the other players matter less.

You can just play your game and not worry about how good the other players are. Most of the time, you know that your TPTK is effectively the nuts for your hand and if some smart guy outplays you, your mistake will be very marginal. He has little room postflop to use implied odds. The only implied odds he could have are preflop when he is going for set value.

*1 If there is a very obvious deep stacked fish to your right, you should always just buy in full.

posted by joe | permalink | 1 comments


At 3:41 AM, Blogger Azn_Cutie said...

You totally hit the nail on the head... You are really spot on with your analysis and mode of thinking, I am convinced you are going to be a really strong player one day. Let me know if you're ever in Vegas.


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