If big stack strategy was as simple as amassing a sizeable pile of chips and then throwing your weight around until you knockout everyone else, then we wouldn't see the pulse-pounding, jaw-dropping, and sometimes, down-right devastating takedowns and comebacks that are part and parcel of poker. Players who are serious about poker have big stack strategy on their side to help them keep the upper hand. After all, just because you've managed to accumulate a massive lead doesn't mean you’re off the hook. In poker, you’re never off the hook until you’re the last player standing.
There are tons of sources and websites that will break big stack strategy down into dozens of tiny counterparts, but in our experience, successfully managing a hefty pile of chips all comes down to one thing: controlling your power. From this one point, we've singled out the three biggest power trips that can mess up your chances of keeping the chip balance in your favour. Read on.
Here are our top 3 tips for big stack strategy:
Being Cocky Can Cost You.
Easy there, tiger. Everyone can see you've got some serious nuts but that doesn't mean you have to needlessly harass the villagers when you’re already full. In other words, there is precious little reason to call opponents who have shorter stacks than you when you have a lackluster hand. Sure, you do have a lot of weight behind you, and you may actually manage to eliminate some competition, but you’re also putting yourself in a dangerous position. We get that it’s easy to let power go to your head, but part of big stack strategy involves always remembering that in poker, you are never in complete control. Your short-stacked opponent might not be as short-sighted as you. He or she could actually have landed a better hand - a hand that could take a sizeable bite of your stack. Or maybe it can only take a little nibble, but when you keep playing fast and loose, it will be a little nibble a lot of the time and your stack will suffer.
Patience is Key.
Again, everyone can see you’re sitting on a hefty chunk of change, so you don’t need to prove anything. Let the other player's duke it out for a bit. Unless you have a killer hand, there is absolutely no reason for you to go head-to-head over the remaining chips. Just because you are the big stack does not mean it is your job to eliminate as many opponents as possible (unless you are playing in a bounty tournament, of course). Here’s some of the best big stack strategy you’ll ever get: be patient. Save your money and save your energy for the good hands. Leave the hen-pecking to the underdogs. Besides, you can literally afford to be patient, so sit back and let the good action come to you. Then you can act.
In any poker game, your opponents are going to be trying to figure you out so they can exploit, dominate and then bust your butt out of the game. Don’t give them any ammunition. Never, ever, show your cards unless you absolutely have to show them. If you can muck without revealing, do it. This means if you've bet your opponent(s) out of the pot on the river, do not show your hand.
Remember: The only time you are required to show your hand is when you need to prove you have the best hand. If you've already pushed everyone else out, you've got nothing to prove. Resist any temptation to gloat and muck it.
Big stack strategy all comes down to harnessing the power of your position. This does not mean pointlessly bullying other players, chomping at the bit, or showing off. If you don’t believe us, take it from Stan Lee – a guy who knows a thing or two about wielding serious influence: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Take our big stack strategy to heart and use yours wisely.