Being short-stacked is the term applied when you are running low on chips in a tournament. Irrespective of whether it is a one table “Sit ´n´ Go”, a five table “Multi Table Tournament” or one of the larger 20.000 player tournaments hosted by the online poker rooms, there will come a time when you face being eliminated because the increasing size of the blinds and antes will exhaust your chip supply. This is known as being “blinded out”, and if you find that your chip stack is falling to the level where you only have sufficient chips for the next ten or so blinds, then it is time to do something about it.
There are two options available to a bulldog poker player depending on the scenario you find yourself in. The first is where you are approaching the end of a tournament, you are already in a prize money position (the bubble) and you want to enhance your finishing position. In this case, the best option is to pick the right time and go all-in. The aim is to at least double your chips, rather than just collect the blinds that would give you another circuit of the table, yet you have to be the one who goes all-in first (This is because if another player before you in the betting has determined that his hand is good enough to go all, you might not want to take him on!). You need to choose your time carefully for although you possibly have ten orbits of the betting before you face elimination, other players on the table will be aware that, at some stage, you will be attempting a “shove or nothing” strategy.
The second scenario is where you are just approaching the bubble in a tournament. Most players at this stage will be playing extremely tight and will not commit to a bet of any nature. In tournaments where there are still several tables active, you will see players close to elimination taking ages to make a betting decision, hoping that looser players on other tables get knocked out first, and that they get elevated into the prize money by default. If you identify these players on your table you should bet into them at the first possible opportunity (when position allows) and collect their blinds to improve your own position. Be careful when you bet, that there is not a player looking to play a “shove or nothing” strategy as explained above, as once you have made a significant bet into the pot, if you get re-raised, you may not have anywhere else to go but all-in yourself. Once the bubble is reached, the play changes dramatically once more, with many short-stacked players looking to go all-in. At this point, you can either play tight and watch your finishing position enhanced as players knock each other out, or wait for the right moment and shove.
You may have already been playing long enough to have seen players come back from precarious positions, and if you find yourself in a short-stack situation at the table, you now have a couple of alternative plays to enable a higher finishing position in all types of knockout competitions.