How and what to play in NL is hugely dependent on your own and your opponents’ stack sizes. The greater the amount you may possibly win, and the odds for you to win it, the more risk you can take. Of course, you have to correctly evaluate when the risk assumption is favorable.

Florida used to maximize NL buy-ins to $100, even in $2-$5 and $5-$10 games. With $100 effective stack sizes in many pots, the value of big-pairs and A-broadway hands went up significantly. Since all the money would often go in pre-flop or on the flop, these hands received great returns with their high propensity to win, and the denial of high implied odds to opponents.

But if you increased the buy-ins in a $2-$5 game to $1,000, the factors get much trickier for the big pair and big card hands. While those hands tend to have big pre-flop edges, when stacks are deep, big-pairs and big-A-high hands often find themselves with one pair on the turn and river facing large bets. As a consequence, that can get mighty problematic. You’ll likely fold some winners and call with some losers for big money. In deepstack situations, big one-pair hands tend to win many small pots and lose a few very big ones.

So, in small effective stack size situations, stick to big pairs and big cards. In short-stack situations, generally get your money in early when your edge with your big hands is at its highest. As the stacks get deeper, you can widen your calling range pre-flop and on the flop since your implied odds have escalated. That said, don’t start playing overly loose just because the stacks are large.

Think about the odds of being able to acquire big bets in the current situation if you make a big hand. If the propensity is great, loosen up; if not don’t!

Understand and consider how the effective stack sizes will play. Then adjust your play to that information.

Your bankroll will appreciate it!

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