Not everyone is comfortable playing poker with deep stacks. Perhaps you struggle to implement the subtle changes in strategy that are necessary. Or maybe you haven’t even realised that deep stack poker requires a different approach?
In this article, we’ll take a look at how to play with deep stacks, both in tournaments and cash games. Adjusting your bet sizes, ranges, and general post-flop strategy are all on the agenda in this guide.
Deep Stack Poker Defined
Before we dive in, let’s first be clear on what we mean by “deep stacks”. Any situations where you have lots of chips in relation to the size of the big blinds are said to be “deep”. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a poker tournament or a cash game.
A tournament where everyone begins with lots of chips will often bear this name. Sometimes, it may be spelt as “Deepstack”. For example, if you go to Natural8’s tournament lobby, you will be able to find games such as the Bounty Hunters Deepstack Turbo and Omaholic Bounty Deepstack. This term can also be used to refer to an individual in a cash game who is sitting on a sizable stack.
It’s hard to define the exact number of Big Blinds required before one could be said to have a deep stack, but anything north of 100 is heading towards deep stack territory. Stacks of 150 BB or more would certainly be considered deep.
Short Stack Comparisons
Many players are better at playing when short on chips than with a deep stack. In truth, it’s easier to play a shorter stack size, with simple strategies like push-fold coming into play.
With fewer decisions to be made, it becomes all about making the correct pre-flop call and getting chips into the pot. But deep stack situations are much more testing, and they’re not for everyone. Here are some of the main differences with deep stack games, which could mean they’re not right for you.
Time-consuming. Deep-stacked games last much longer, which not only potentially impacts ROI but also tires you out mentally. Patience is important, but so is stamina.
Post-flop play. The emphasis is more on what happens after the flop, an area where experienced players tend to dominate. There’s a lot of room to be creative and weaker players can become predictable.
More mistakes. With a greater number of decisions to make, there is more opportunity to make an error. So naturally, there are more spots in which you find yourself being exploited.
So what adjustments do you need to make when you play with deep stacks? Let’s take a look.
When it comes to bet sizes, your approach should remain largely the same. However, if you want to be aggressive when out of position, you ought to be using a smaller bet size. The trouble with playing a deep stack is this: having more chips means more chips to lose! So pot control is crucial.
You don’t need to change the size of your pre-flop raises when moving between deeper- and shorter-stack games. Nor must you alter the size of any bets in position, as you’ll have such a big advantage when acting last anyway. But if an opponent makes it 2.5x BB to play and you’ll be out of position, consider raising 7x or 8x. You must keep the pot under control.
3-Betting When Deep Stacked
Similarly, out-of-position aggression is one of the main strategy tweaks when playing with deep stacks. According to solvers, there’s no need to adjust your 3-betting ranges at all, no matter how deep you play. However, in reality, you probably want to be slightly tighter overall.
That’s because you’re a human and not a robot! Chances are the possibility of you making errors when put in tough positions is higher. And with more chips to lose, such mistakes will be costly.
A more polarised range is also a good idea as you don’t want to find yourself in massive pots with tricky mid-strength hands. Nobody wants to be calling off 100+ Big Blinds with nothing more than an overpair.
This is one area that players often struggle with if they’re new to playing with deep stacks. The more chips in front of you, the more likely you should flat-call with big hands. 4-betting pre-flop with K-K is not necessarily an automatic play if you’re sitting on 250 BBs.
It might seem weird, but it’s all about controlling that pot size. If you’re up against an aggressive opponent who you know is happy to bomb chips into the pot, consider flatting. If you’re out of position, you want to minimise every possible disadvantage. A flat call with a premium hand protects your ranges and will save you chips if you make a post-flop error.
But even if you’re in position, a flat call puts the opponent in an awkward situation. There will be a high stack-to-pot ratio and playing out of position in that spot is difficult.
Playing Deep Stacks Post-Flop
On that note, the most noticeable strategy adjustment for playing deep stacks comes after the flop. Because you’ll be playing so much deeper than usual post-flop, you’ll see more differences in the stack-to-pot ratios.
Overall, you should be looking to tighten up. That means betting less often, using a smaller bet size out of position, fewer check-raises, and more flat calling. Remember that a bigger stack means there’s more to lose. But it also means there’s less need to be betting light for value and pushing small edges. Patience is a virtue.
Playing deepstack poker is not for everyone. Such games are a real test of mental strength and stamina. With more room to play, there is a greater chance for mistakes to happen. And with so many extra chips in front of you, these mistakes can be extremely costly, especially in a cash game situation.
As a general rule, look to tighten up post-flop when playing with deep stacks. Keep pot sizes down with more flat calling and fewer raises, particularly against more aggressive players. And don’t be afraid to slow down even with monster hands. Patience and pot control are everything.
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