Basic Poker Strategy: Short Stack Play in Omaha Tournaments

Get the help you need to make the right decisions when you’re short stacked when playing in an Omaha poker tournament.

First of all, you’ll want to note that this sort of short stack strategy is very different than intentional “short stacking,” a cash game strategy that is very popular with certain circles that we may well cover in the future just so you know why that guy with only $20 is playing at $5/$10 tables. We’re also assuming that you’re playing in a Pot Limit Omaha tournament, just to make the discussion more about the game rather than being shoved out by someone with a major chip advantage.

Short Stacked In the Early Stages

It happens. You bet on a pot where the outs are on your side and you end up drawing dry and half your chips are down the drain in a single turn. Two words for you: don’t panic. While the blinds are still small in relation to your funds, you likely have enough in your chipstack to work on a comeback as long as you remain patient. Keep playing your normal game and look for opportunities to make good returns.

Short Stacked In the Middle

Let’s say you get hit hard and now are stuck with between 5 to 10 blinds in the middle stages – you’re not going to be nearly as flexible as you were in the early stages and you simply can’t afford to raise and fold on later streets. In fact, any meaningful raise you make is going to pot-commit you because of the odds offered on the turn and river. The best (and some say only) weapon in your arsenal at this point is a limp-reraise where you have a quality hand that will allow you to profit and push out some limpers and get the most out of the hand.

Short Stacked In the Late Stages

This is where you’re reminded of our two-word mantra: “Don’t Panic.” It’s likely that you’ll only have three or four big blinds before your fold equity in the pro-flop has vanished entirely. You’re going to want to switch your game up again and get the most out of what you have by aiming for multi-way pots with a reasonable hand on your side. Something like JJT8 (single or double suited) or even 6678 would be playable here. The thing is, you have to do more than just double up – you have to get three times your money back.

Premium hands would, of course, be great at any point in the game when you’re wanting to get out of your short stacked position, but they just don’t come around enough, do they? Learning how to work with decent or just plain marginal cards is the best thing you can do to get yourself back from the brink at any stage during the game.

Just don’t panic!