stack size

Let us say that an early position player makes it .50 to go in a NL100 ring game and it is folded around to you on the button with the 4c-4d. The question here is do you call? Well if you answered by saying “yes” simply because of the fact that you could make a set if you happen to get lucky on the flop then you are seriously missing a trick in modern online poker.

You cannot play poker in this way anymore but there are two huge and highly significant factors as to why we cannot answer this question properly. This is because we have not mentioned stack size and implied odds. Implied odds are directly linked to the number of opponents in the hand and the skill of your opponents as better players offer you lower implied odds.

How big are the stacks?

Firstly you need to know two things……these are how big your stack is and how big your opponents stack is. You will already know the size of your own stack but it is amazing just how many players auto click the “call” button here simply because they can make a set. You will only flop a set one time in eight on average and that means that you will basically be conceding a whole host of .50’s and at least seven to be exact which is almost . This is without even making reference to the times when flopping a set isn’t enough because your opponent has flopped a bigger one or made a bigger one later on in the hand or made a hand like a flush or straight which beats you.

But what if your opponent only had a stack and was only playing 30bb? If you are multi-tabling then you may not have noticed and so you are calling .50 to only be able to win a further .50 as a maximum. This ratio of around 7.5/1 is barely enough to call but this also assumes that you will stack your opponent every time you flop a set which will clearly not be the case.

A fatal poker combination

The lack of consideration regarding stack size and a lack of appreciation with regards to implied odds is one of the silent killers in online poker and leads to many players not being able to beat the game because they are not allowing the mathematics of the game to work in their favour. We can look at another example here to show what I mean. You open raise from the button to .50 with 8c-7c and the big blind three bets you to …….should you call?

Once again stack size comes into play because if the raiser only has 50bb in their stack then the answer is that you shouldn’t as a call would represent no less than 28% of their total stack size. Your suited connector needs time to develop into a big hand and will not tend to do so until the turn or river. But your opponent is essentially going to be all in by that stage and so you cannot extract any more money. However if both of you had 200bb stacks then calling the three bet would only represent 7% of each of your stacks and so this is a clearly far different situation.