Playing a short stack properly is a lost art. Rarely do you see someone write about short-stack strategy; I know that I don’t write about many hands in this column involving small pots. However, while I was playing in a $3,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em event at the Jack Binion World Poker Open , I decided to write a column on the sequence of hands that I played, and equally important, the hands that I didn’t play.
With the blinds at $25-$50, I found myself in the big blind with the Adiamonds 5diamonds. John Esposito — who is playing some very first-rate poker these days — made it $200 to go from two positions away from the button. Don Atkins called from the small blind.
What should I do? Should I move all in for my last $225 or fold? Why should I invest my last $225 in a situation in which I was guaranteed that both of my opponents would call and then check it down (check until the end in order to try to eliminate me), unless one of them hit the flop in a big way? On the other hand, if I did win the pot, I would have $675. If the small blind hadn’t called, I would have had to go with this hand, but when he called, I immediately had a bad feeling.
Although Esposito could have had anything in this spot (especially since he had a ton of chips), I believed at the very least that Don had me in bad shape; he just seemed strong to me. So, I folded. It turns out that John had A-7 and Don had 10-10. The rest of the story is that Don won a nice pot when the final board was K-10-4-7-A.
On the very next hand, in the small blind, I had 10-5. One person called, and I matched the big blind by calling $25 more. With a flop of A-K-2, we all checked. Then, a king hit, and it was followed by another round of checks. Finally, a 7 hit the …