Sunday, December 06, 2009

Solution to Shortstacking Problem

Let's start with a few statements that reflect majority opinion:

1. No one likes shortstackers except shortstackers themselves.

2. Shortstackers are a problem for the game of poker because they reduce it to a preflop shove-or-fold game. They prevent postflop play.

3. Shortstackers harm deepstackers because they force them to play a 20 big blind game. When one player has 100bb and the other has 20bb, the effective stacks are 20bb. It's unfair that shortstackers can dictate effective stack sizes because deepstackers can't reciprocate.

4. Shortstackers generate plenty of rake for poker sites, but they may be bad for the game's longterm growth because they drive mainstream players away by making some tables unplayable.

5. Shortstacking is within the rules of the game.

My idea is to raise the minimum buy-in slightly, from 20bb to 30bb.

Increasing the minimum buy-in by 10bb isn't so dramatic that it will ruin shortstackers, but it deepens stack sizes enough that preflop decisions take a little more thought, and maybe there's even room for some play on the flop.

Full Tilt already has capped tables that limit possible losses to 30bb per hand, and this change in policy would simply create the possibility for the same shortstacking dynamic at standard 100bb buy-in tables.

I like the existing "deep" tables, which require a minimum buy-in of 50bb and maximum buy-in of 200bb. Some players have suggested making these deep tables the standard across the board, but I don't think that's realistic from the business perspective of the poker sites.

A 30bb minimum buy-in seems like a reasonable compromise. Yes, it is changing how the game is played. But that happens all the time in games, from instant replay to stricter rules on how a defender can tackle a quarterback.

Shortstackers are a problem, and a 30bb buy-in is one way it could be solved.


lightning36 said...

Cheers to your idea!

Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

I do not see shortstackers as being bad for the game at all. Sure I prefer to have more postflop play, but I don't mind playing purely preflop poker for 20 bbs with one or two players at the table. Frankly I think shortstackers are so predictable that I find them often times easier to play against than the deeper stacks.

That said I would be fine with your 30bb minimum buyin idea as well.

Lucypher said...

Most of the short stackers I encounter on Stars are simply under rolled weak players - therefore, I do not perceive them as a problem. Since you perceive them to be a problem, perhaps the short stackers on FT are more skilled. Given the level of skill you possess, I am surprised they trouble you at all.

Gnome said...

Shortstackers I encounter are not underrolled weak players. They're massive multitabling professionals who know all-in preflop equities perfectly and turn a profit.
The problem is bad enough in the 2/4 6-max games I usually play, but it's even worse in full ring games. Shortstackers are also an epidemic at 3/6 and 5/10.

Canfron said...


I'd like to give you another idea... Learn to play poker... Playing poker is not necesary for 100BBs.

If the minimun is 30BBs, the people who knows the game and its mathematics will make another strategy.

So... take your calculator machine and make your owns ranges to play against short.

Gnome said...

I know how to play poker against 100bb players and 20bb players. So that's not the issue. The issue is that I don't like the type of poker that shortstackers play.
Yes, there is another strategy for 30bb stacks, but the deeper stacks at least make preflop shove-or-fold decisions tougher and may encourage postflop play.
To me, postflop play should be a part of the game, and shortstacks are the ones who aren't really playing poker because they either fold or go all-in preflop.

Canfron said...

1st, Srr if sounded ofensive, it was not the point.

I ve heard the same foolness in the mouth of NL10 players, but... in 1 of 400... sounds really weird.

What if we start talking about people who 3bet too much? Those are a people who makes enormous pots and... there is few streets to bet... Nobody likes people who 3bet a lot but them... But they make a lot of rake! So Rooms are permisive with them.

Solution... Lets Make Rooms with 3bet limited, no more than 3 in 1 hour!

Sound familiar to you?? Its the same but using another kind of players.

Poker is not for playing streets, is to fight versus the oponent range and be cleverer than him.

At the last, poker is for living, so the thing that matter is earn BB/100.

Greylocks said...

The basic problem is not short-stacking per se, which is just an exploit of an underlying problem. The basic problem is a combination of (a) no-limit betting and (b) hold'em and (c) sites allowing massive multitabling.

The mathematics of preflop play in NLH are relatively simple compared to other games. I absofrigginlutely guarantee you that the great majority of these massive mutitabling shortstackers are cheating with software that tells them how to play - if the software isn't outright playing for them. Because NLH preflop play is mathematically solvable, writing such software and having it run fast enough to provide realtime solutions is not difficult for people who know both poker math and computer programing.

I have had this discussion at least a couple times with the CS people at PokerStars and can't get it through to them that they've created a monster.

Raising the minimum buy-in would help, but the deeper the stacks are relative to the blinds/antes, the tighter the game should be, and I don't think playing smallball all the time is fun either. So you need to also add antes and/or a third blind. I think FullTilt has figured this out but PokerStars doesn't get it.

Sites also need to go back to reasonable limits on the number of tables you can play at once. Just because they've seen a video of someone playing 24 tables manually doesn't mean everyone who is playing a lot of tables is being honest. Like I said, I guarantee you most aren't.

I've suggested that if they want to allow that many tables open, restrict it to limit games only. Don't allow big bet players to play more than four tables at once.

Gnome said...

I think limiting the number of cash game tables would be reasonable. I max out at 4, but a limit of 8 seems fair.
I'm very comfortable with the level of tightness at 100bb shorthanded tables. While they can get too tight in a full ring setting, shorthanded games are still plenty active.
I can see the case for antes in 200bb+ games or 100bb full ring games.