The Dean’s Poker School: Stack sizes in no limit cash games


Stack size plays a huge part in your poker strategy whenever you play no limit hold’em cash games. For example, if you and your opponent are playing deep and the effective stack sizes are 150bb for example then hand values normalise greatly. What exactly do I mean by that? Well if you had say Kc-Kd vs 8d-7h then the kings would be a huge favourite and PokerStove has that match up as being an 82%-18% majority in terms of equity for the kings. The kings win the vast majority of the time as you would expect. 

However when the kings win the pot then it is nearly always because the connector has missed the flop or not hit the flop hard enough like with say Q-8-4 for example. But it is when the connector hits the flop hard that the kings could be in trouble if the holder of that hand gives too much action with them. Like if the board came 6-5-4 with the 8-7 making the nuts. The kings may be in an awful lot of trouble here if they bet and get raised. This may be especially the case if there is a flush draw on board because the holder of the kings could mistakenly put their opponent on a flush draw. 

In deep stacked cash games then the pre-flop raise will only be to a very tiny percentage of the total stack sizes and this can make hands like 8-7s dangerous hands to be up against if you or your opponent hold big pairs. In a situation where both players have say 150bb in their stack then a pre-flop raise may only be to something like 3bb. That is a mere 2% of your total stack size.

This also means that the remaining 98% of the stacks has the potential to be bet from the flop onwards. So it is clear then that if big mistakes are made by the holder of the premium pair post flop then they could lose either their entire stack or a significant percentage of it. So it is also clear or at least it should be that the holder of the 8-7 hand is at significantly less of a disadvantage as the stacks become deeper. Hand values normalise in no limit hold’em cash games when the amount of money that has been bet or raised before the flop is a much smaller percentage of the total stack size.

This is why minimum stacks can be such an annoyance to skilled no limit hold’em players because they do not allow the skilled player to profit from areas like leverage and implied odds. A skilled no limit hold’em cash game specialist prefers his opponents to have deep stacks because he can use a multitude of weaponry at his disposal to get an edge over his opponents. So remember that stack size has a significant impact on poker strategy and how certain hands play out in no limit Texas hold’em cash games.