NLH games require technical skill and great instinct to hit the right key. Knowing how to wait for the right moment is vital in poker, but even more so in no-limit Texas Hold’em games.
When we talk about a Big Stack Strategy (BSS), we must refer to bankroll management, which is vital in this game. It is precisely this ability to manage your bankroll, along with the development of a tight-aggressive style of play, that will allow you to develop your big stack strategy in a seven to ten player (full-ring) game.
What is a big stack strategy
Managing your bankroll is a well-worn concept in poker. But do you really know what it entails? Let’s think for a moment about the stack we have at the table. The money at the poker tables should be seen as an investment, as a financial operation.
Obviously, you wouldn’t venture to throw your money around without knowing what you’re doing in the market and the chances that you will or won’t get a good return on your investment, would you? The same goes for poker.
Knowing how to manage your bankroll will allow you to get the most out of your strategy within the safe limits of the game. Being reckless is just as bad as being overly conservative; if you manage your bankroll, you will be able to stretch your game as far as possible to take advantage of all your opportunities.
Bankroll management applied to a big stack strategy relies on three conditions to develop:
- Full-stack tables. You join tables with a full stack, 100 BB. 100 big blinds equal a buy-in.
- You raise the limit. When you have 25 buy-in of the next higher limit, you raise to that limit.
- You lower the limit. When you have only 25 buy-in from the previous lower limit, you go down to that limit.
What happens if you join a table with a limit above your bankroll? You’ll be a sitting duck, a piece of candy for everyone to drool over. “Clueless” players like you who end up in games with too high a limit for your stack is cannon fodder for the sharks who are eager to take all your money before they knock you out. Moral of the story: always stick to games with a limit that fits your bankroll. It will make the game more fun and competitive.
Knowing how to manage your bankroll is something you learn throughout your life. What’s more, not knowing how to manage it has led some excellent players to ruin. That management skill must be complemented by a style of play that is profitable, and that is TAG.
- Tight-aggressive players are the most likely to develop a good big stack strategy in No Limit Hold’em games. What characterizes the tight-aggressive style of play? The following:
- Very selective with hands. Playing tight means you don’t play every hand. On the contrary: you are very selective in deciding which hands you play and which hands you pass up. But beware: many cards look weak and, in reality, they are not. And the same is true the other way around: powerful cards that then leave you in the cold, such as K♣ J♦, which are very high value, but with little to play for depending on the play.
- You don’t necessarily have to end up in every face-to-face. Forget about getting to every showdown, even if you have a hand that you consider strong. A TAG player, when he gets to the final showdown, has a very good hand.
- Initiative. Take the lead and don’t just watch. Bet if others don’t, raise when you feel like it. Take advantage of your opponents’ flops. Mistakes that, more often than not, are caused by forcing them to make a decision under pressure. A player under pressure who consistently makes good decisions is either a fish who is having the luck of his life, or a professional who has caught on to your game. Either way, misleading your opponent will give you a lot of information about his abilities and his game.
- Always play IP (in position). OOP (out of position) play does not suit TAG players. That’s because, if you have position over your opponents, they will have to talk before you in a betting round. This gives you a huge advantage, as they will be giving you a wealth of information that you can use to your advantage in shaping your strategy. That’s a luxury, maximizing profitability and being able to realize your big stack strategy in a game of No Limit Hold’em.
As you can see, for your big stack strategy to work it is important to work on bankroll management, which is essential in No Limit Hold’em full-ring games, where to win, you will need to adopt a tight-aggressive style of play to maximize your chances of winning.
Typically, the big stack strategy is a strategy applicable to advanced players. The decision making is more complex, several factors come into play and a number of conditions must be met in order to shape a BSS strategy.