At most standard Texas Hold’em ring games, the maximum buy-in for each level is 100 big blinds. While some poker rooms, both live and online allow different rules for certain game types, the 100 bb number is usually the maximum amount for a standard ring game. However, many poker rooms both live and online offer deep stacked tables to players, allowing them to buy-in deep from the start.
As we discussed in our short stacking article, depending on the amount of chips players have in their stack, their decisions and style of play can change drastically. Players will play one way short stacked, another with 100 BBs and yet another deep stacked.
What Do We Define As Deep Stacked?
Generally, deep stacked play is defined as 200 BBs or more. With larger stacks, your priorities as a player change. You are no longer looking to get your money in with premium hand pre-flop or on the flop with an overpair or top-pair, top-kicker.
Like all forms of poker, your opponents and the type of game you are in should have a significant effect on your strategy and gameplan. Ideally, players would like to get into larger pots with the poorer players at the table and outplay the stronger players when they happen to run into each other.
Implied odds, the amount you may win when you hit a big draw is a huge factor when it comes to deep stacked play. There are calls players should make deep stacked, simply because of the massive implied odds that they would not be making in any other situation.
Post-flop, meaning turn and river play are especially pertinent deep stacked. While short stacked and even mid-sized stacked decisions are often made easily on latter streets, deep stack play is a different animal. It is also one of the best situations to 4-bet bluff or try to force your opponents off a hand by increasing the pot size by raising.
Pre-flop play deep stacked is fundamentally different from other short or medium stack sizes. Instead of focusing on premium and semi-premium hands, deep stacked play opens up a range of possibilities for players in regards to starting hands and pre-flop raises.
Not only can players get into pots with more suited connectors and one-gappers, they can sometimes open raise and call 3-bets with these hands. This is due to the implied odds being so generous with these types of hands; especially they are facing a poor player with a similar or greater stack of chips.
Players can open up their ranges of starting hands but should still be mindful of position. Calling frequently out of position is still a mistake, so do not run amuck when you decide to loosen up your range. Essentially, players will go from a tight aggressive style to a loose aggressive style, from TAG to LAG.
Playing a looser style may seem spewy, but because there is so much money left for the flop and later streets this style becomes highly profitable. Drawing hands, ones that make straights and flushes increase in value while hands like high-cards such as QJo and AJo lose value. You can open up your range early to take advantage in the later streets.
It is worth noting that your all-in range should be tightened up considerably, despite the fact that you will be playing more pots. Reads are always opponent dependent, but hands like AK and QQ are not generally advisable to get all-in with pre-flop, especially if your opponent is tight. While these hands are nearly auto-shoves with a short stack, their value changes drastically when stack sizes increase. Many deep stack strategies actually advocate just calling when re-raised pre-flop, even when holding QQ and AK.
Flop and Post-Flop Play
One of the most fundamental concepts of deep stacked poker is pot control, which essentially means manipulating the size of the pot. The size of the pot matters much more in deep stack play than in any other form of poker.
Most decisions with 100 BBs or fewer are decided on the flop or turn and are simply raise or fold choices because of the amount of chips in play. This changes drastically with more chips, making bluffs scarier to your opponent and therefore more believable, gaining fold equity.
Manipulating the pot size is crucial and should be used to implement a plan throughout a hand. If you want to put pressure on your opponent because you think his hand is weak, you may decide to raise the flop or turn. Likewise, if you think your opponent is playing with a slightly worse holding where you hold a stronger hand – you should increase the pot size, especially if he plays poorly post flop.
The opposite is true when you hold a marginal or medium strength hand, and you would rather keep the pot small. Look for free cards, keep your bets and raises smaller and use position to your advantage to get to showdown. Keeping pressure on your opponents is vital – and there will be plenty of times to bluff – but it normally best to error on the side of caution with medium strength hands. It is almost always wrong to get all in your money in post-flop with a hand like top-pair, top kicker. One of the biggest blunders newer deep stack players make is going broke with one pair, do not make the same mistake.
Deep stack play is the ultimate form of cash game poker and is a true test of wills and knowledge of the game. Though players can lose their entire stack in one swift blow, the strategy gives them the opportunity to maximize their expected value in games where they are better than their opponents.
The most notable aspects of deep stack play is being aware of your position, how many chips your opponent has and having a plan for how you are going to approach your hand. Small pots are less influential, and players must be able to let go of marginal hands in search of winning a massive pot with a monster.