Is there a name for this type of play?

I’ve seen this happen a number of times, and it makes me wonder if there’s a term for it.

The situation:

Hero is sitting on some hand that isn’t really great, but borderline. Hero position is ahead of one of the small stacks at the table, and hero’s stack is healthy. Small stack is perhaps partially committed to the pot, in SB or BB position, but perhaps not.

Preflop: Hero makes a bet sized to induce small stack all-in, but not too big to isolate small stack, and gets the desired result: small stack raises all in, 2-3 other players call. The size of the bet should be, perhaps 50-75% of the small stack, and not more than say 4-5BB, depending Depending, the hero may opt not to call the small stack’s all-in raise, or may call and continue the hand.

Flop: If hero is still in and hits the flop, continue play, otherwise lay down, and see if one of the other players manages to eliminate the small stack.

I’ve done this a few times, sometimes inadvertently, but after observing it happening a few times, I’ve been able to take advantage of the betting patterns I observe at mid-stakes play to get it to happen.

Either way the hand works out seems to be reasonably positive for me:

  1. If I win the pot, I win the pot. No explanation needed.
  2. If I fold the flop, and the small stack goes on to be eliminated, that’s one less player to worry about.
  3. If I fold the flop, the small stack wins, and takes a chunk out of a few other players, they’re now less of a threat than they were before.
  4. If I fold pre-flop, and 2 or 3 happens, so much the better as I’ve lost only a small amount of chips, but I can think of it as paying to trigger the events that unfolded.

Counter arguments to the above strategy:

  • Do I really know that the small stack wouldn’t have shoved without my inducing it with a bet? Maybe they would have done that anyway, and I wasted some small bet for no real gain?
  • ??? (Looking for insights from you. What do you think of this play? And does it have a name?)
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I like your strategy.
I’m a little conservative and wouldn’t initiate an all in bet unless I had cards that I’d be wiling to call the all in with. I simply hate giving away chips (although you’d never know it the way I play sometimes TILT). In other words, I wouldn’t do this with just any cards solely for the sake of getting a player knocked out. I’d wait for cards to do that.

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The first time I did this, it was an accident, more or less. I had hoped that I might buy a pot from the button, the SB was desperate and had other ideas, and it didn’t work out for either of us, but in the end I thought, well at least I don’t have to worry about that guy now.

I don’t like giving away chips any more than anyone else, but if I have a big enough stack, sacrificing a small amount of it like this doesn’t seem terrible. But I’m curious what others think of it. Beyond the obvious downside of “I didn’t win the hand” is this a bad play? I like eliminating players, even if I don’t get the chips for it.

What I like about it is, if the small stack doesn’t shove, it’s less likely that the other players will call. Players here seem to love to dogpile on a small stack when they’re all-in. So if the small stack doesn’t call all-in, and folds it instead, it’s fairly likely that I can win the hand by buying the blinds. That’s another angle to the above strategy that I forgot to mention.

I think the term you are looking for is “playing poker” :slight_smile:

In the future, you always have to look at the stacks of the players left to act behind you. The more players with shovable stacks left to act, the tighter you need to open. You don’t want to be open-folding a lot. You also need to know what types of hands are ok to open vs those stacks - 8/7s is a worse hand to open against a 8BB stack than K8s for example. High cards matter most when stacks are this short.

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So are you suggesting that this is not good play, or is it useful to trigger these chip avalanches and then get out of the way sometimes?

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Its fine play to create havoc when you can. Anything you can do to make other people make mistakes is good poker, IMO. As long as you are thinking it through and selecting the right cards at the right times, this is playing the game. I like that a lot more than just waiting around for cards to hit you in the face.


I think you are really over thinking the situation…

This is not a result I would “desire.” As the fourth or fifth player in this pot, you probably have, at best, 30% equity. There will be no side pot to play for when the flop comes, unless you decide to 4-bet and those other players call, something you shouldn’t do with most of your opening range. If you decide to call yourself, you commit chips to a pot you will lose most of the time (>70%). And as @Comicguy mentioned, you really don’t want to be open-folding often.

Let’s imagine you do call. Now, every postflop decision you make will be even more complicated than usual. You face multiple opponents. There’s a big pile of dead money on the table. Bluffing doesn’t make sense if there’s no side pot. Betting with thin value or strong draws risks knocking out hands that could take out the all-in player. You could end up giving lots of new life to the short stack if he quadruples up with a bloated pot… and again, most of the time, you’ll reap none of the tournament chips.

If there is a name for this type of play, don’t be surprised if it’s not very flattering.


Good points! I will think about this. I do think that the cons you bring up have legitimacy.

Being in a multi-way pot with a weak hand normally does not make sense, agreed, which is why in this play you get out of the way quickly most of the time.

The point of the play is to put the small stack all-in in a multi-way pot, which is bad for them. Best result is that they are eliminated.

But if you end up bringing them back up to health by quadrupling up, at least you’ve weakened the stacks of the other players involved in the hand, and that can be a good thing too. Which table would you rather play at:

You: 8000
Small stack: 800
Another: 3700
Another: 4500


You: 7500
Small stack: 2900
Another: 2900
Another: 3700

I’m not sure there’s a right and a wrong answer. It really depends on the skill level of these players. If the small stack is Hellmuth, it’s better to not give him any chips. But if the small stack is the weakest player, then them taking the chips away from the other stronger players is good, and you can exploit the weaker player more in future hands.

Normally you do want to win all the chips, though, so this would be an unconventional strategy. The number of times this comes up as a possible play is pretty uncommon, really. But I like seeing all-in hands because the more of them you do see, the more more players are going to get eliminated, and the higher up the leader board you’ll finish.

Of course, the other possibility is that you end up with:

You: 7500
Small stack: 0
Another: 2900
Another: 6100

And maybe that’s not very good for you from the standpoint of the second stack is now very close to you.

I agree that it is good to put pressure on the small stack. If their stack is so short, they have an incentive to gamble with what they hope are live cards to try to double (or quadruple) up. The idea that other players are flat-calling your raise and the ensuing all-in indicates that something weird is going on (i.e., they are playing badly). Based on the stacks you gave of
You: 8000
Small stack: 800
Another: 3700
Another: 4500

If the blinds are 100/200 and you open from MP with 500, the small stack shoves from the BTN for 800, the other two players should almost never call, even if they are getting a good price from the blinds or from limping. They should either go all-in or fold because calling 17+% of their stack after two players showed that level aggression seems like it is always the wrong play. I cannot imagine what hands would be correct to flat in this spot. They should be shoving TT+/AQ+ because they only have <23bbs, and they should fold almost everything else. 88/99/AJs are marginal shoves, but calling with them is also almost certainly wrong. They should just be folding. Maybe they can call with AA because the pot is going to be so big (2500) that they can easily get their stack in on the flop, but that is about the only hand that makes sense, and they should still be shoving it most of the time.

All of that being said, I can get behind an open with a marginal hand (like KJ perhaps) if everybody else is going to be so passive. You can win a big pot when you hit top pair or check/fold easily when you miss. I still don’t like this play with hands worse than AT/KJ because you will often be dominated and end up busting when you hit top pair. Pocket pairs are hard to play with the short stack, but 88/99 are also good candidates. Obviously you would be opening TT+/AJ/KQ from any position anyway, so I am focusing on the marginal hands. I don’t like putting in a substantial amount of chips with marginal hands when most players are <25bbs, especially out of position, but if everybody else is playing weak/passive, sure put pressure on the short-stack and hope that it checks around twice and the river brings you top pair.

U underestimate the less than proficient players dumb luck.