What is Deep Stack Poker?
Deep stack poker means having a big stack relative to the big blind, typically around 150-200 bb or more. In tournaments that you start with a deep stack, celled deep stack tournaments, deep stack poker strategy also applies.
What changes in strategy in Deep Stack Poker?
When you are playing deep stack poker, there is room for more betting rounds, notably on the turn and river. Rarely, will you commit most of your chips on the flop, so you have to be prepared to play all the way through.
Also, as the bet sizes gradually increase, if the hand is bet all the way through, you will have to face huge bets and make big decisions by the turn or river.
Playing with a Deep Stack is tricky
When you play with an average stack, you will often be facing all-in bets on the flop or turn. Deciding how to respond is a relatively simple exercise of putting your opponent on a range and comparing the pot odds to your hand’s equity against that range.
However, when facing a big bet on the flop, with a deep stack allowing for two or three more bets, decisions are much more difficult. You now have to consider implied odds, protecting your hand.
So, it is best for beginner players to avoid playing with a deep stack until they gain some experience to allow them to navigate through difficult decisions.
As the decisions you get to face when you are playing deep stack poker are more complex, having a good position becomes even more critical. When you have to decide for 100bb or more, you want to have the maximum amount of information, and position can give you just that. This is the opposite of short stack poker where decisions are more trivial, and position is not a big concern.
What hands should you play?
Remember the saying, “small hand small pot, big hand big pot”? Well, with a deep stack, the pot can potentially become very big!
As simple as it may seem, this aspect changes the dynamics and value of starting hands drastically.
Hands that play well short stack, like AJ or KQ, go down in value in deep stack poker. These hands can make a lot of top pair, top kicker type of hands, and win many small pots. However, in deep stack poker, there is the risk that the betting gets out of hands and ends up too big for only a top pair. So, you can win a few small pots but potentially lose some big ones!
When you play these hands, be sure to try to control the betting and not let the pot get out of hand.
On the contrary, drawing hands, like suited aces, suited connectors, and one-gappers, and small pairs, become more valuable. These hands can make strong hands that are somehow concealed and win big pots. You want to make hands like a set, a flush, or a straight, that you can value bet with all the way through!
To sum up, big broadway hands can win many small pots, and speculative hands can win a few huge pots. In a way, when the stacks are deep, hand value normalizes.
This means that you should play them both, and keep your opponents guessing. With top-pair type of hands, you should exercise pot control.
In deep stack poker, there is also more room for creative plays, like floating or three barrelling bluffs.
You have an effective stack of 200bb and open-raise under the gun with A♥Q♠. You get called by a player in middle position and by the button. The flop comes A♣J♦7♠. There are about 10bb in the pot. You decide to make a c-bet of 7.5bb and the first player calls, while the button folds.
The turn is a blank, the 4♣, and with 25bb in the pot, you decide to bet 20bb. Your opponent raises you to 60bb. What should you do?
Well, you got yourself into a mess! Playing AQo type of hands out of position in deep stack poker is tricky and requires careful play and pot control.
In this scenario, your flop bet is ok, but your turn c-bet is questionable, as you start building a big pot. If you call in this spot, the pot will be 145bb, and you will possibly face a bet on the river for the remaining of your chips, not a good situation for just a pair!
Unless you have a read on your opponent, fold and cut your losses to a minimum.
You are on the button with T♥8♥ and a deep stack. A player raises from early position and gets called by a player in middle position and the cutoff. You decide to play by calling.
The flop comes A♥J♦7♦. Your opponent makes a standard c-bet. The first player folds, the cutoff calls, and with an inside straight draw and a backdoor flush draw, you also call.
The turn is the 9♣, and you make your straight! The first player bets again, and the cutoff folds. You raise, and your opponent calls.
The river is a blank, the 4♣, and your opponent checks. There are about 150 bb in the pot, and you have 150bb more. What should you do?
You have the nuts, so there is no question whether you should bet or not. As your opponent has shown strength, this is an excellent spot to go all-in. You have position, and he may well put you on a missed diamond flush draw.
You go all-in and your opponent calls, showing AJ for top two pair.
This example demonstrates how with position and a deceptive hand, you picked-up a huge pot.
Keep in mind that you should not stick to optimal betting patterns, but mix in some bluffs or thin value bets to keep your opponents guessing.
In a nutshell
In deep stack poker, there is room for a lot of betting. Deep stack strategy requires adjusting your starting hands, valuing position, and employing pot control.
If you feel ready, you can try out your skills for play or real money to one of our Recommended Online Poker Sites 🙂