Before we get into the this advanced-strategy article on Deep-Stack Strategy, as promised to all of our members, click the following button to receive your free download and instructions on how to use it. If you’re not a member, please sign up now for free here to get access to all our free content and advanced-strategy pages.

Texas Hold ‘em Draw-Completion Probabilities and Equity Table

Watch this video for instructions on how to utilize your draw-completion odds and equity table for Texas Holdem.

If you haven’t already done so, definitely read the following pages first (in the order listed below), as the information provided there is crucial for properly understanding the deep-stack strategy (DSS): starting-hands ranges and respective percentages for Texas Hold ’em, equity and expected value (EV) and many other fundamental concepts you’ll need to become a card shark in the shortest amount of time:

  1. Texas Hold ‘em (Cash Games)
  2. Advanced Texas Holdem Strategy Article #1: Short-Stack Strategy (SSS)
  3. Advanced Texas Holdem Strategy Article #2: Poker Betting Strategies
  4. Advanced Texas Holdem Strategy Article #3: Big-Stack Strategy (BSS)

 

General Deep-Stack Strategic Considerations: Cash Game

I’m gonna start this page with the most important thing you will ever hear concerning deep-stacked playit is almost always a game of post-flop “implied odds”! My valued members and friends, if you only understand that one simple statement and the true story I’m about to share with you, your minimized big losses, which in the end are the foundation of your bottom line, will be reduced to a bare minimum.

Just a quick reminder: a “Deep Stack” is a chip stack of 150 Big Blinds (BB) or more.

Let me go back in my live-poker career about 14 years to the year 2000 right after I turned 21 and started playing in casinos for higher stakes. I wasn’t an expert at that time, but I was well on my way and in spite of the years of learning that followed and the experience I gained by playing literally hundreds of thousands of hands thereafter, I probably had a huge edge even then on 50% of the table. So I sat at a live fixed-limit Texas Hold ’em table, which was much more popular back then, and was dealt KhTh on the button, the very latest position at the table with the greatest informational advantage postflop.

Preflop action: It was 2bet early (again see the betting pages linked above for explanations of the acronyms from here on out). 2 players called before me, and with my speculative suited broadway hand, I over-called. The player in the small blind folded, and the BB called bringing us into a multi-way 5-handed pot of 10.5 BBs (in the case of fixed-limit games, the BB is considered the “small bet” which is then doubled on the turn and river betting rounds).

The flop was Qh 4h Tc (queen and four of hearts and a ten of clubs, which is green in four-colored decks). The BB checks and the EP open raiser made a Cbet (continuation bet); it was folded to me, and getting 6.5 : 1 pot odds for my draw, I called as did the BB. My “gin card” would have been the ace of hearts.

The turn was a Td (blue in four-colored decks) with a pot of 13.5 BBs (i.e., small bets). As a typical recreational but pretty serious card player with many years of “home-game” experience, I was — like many of you would probably assume — licking my chops in expectation of the upcoming meal: I had a made hand (in my mind) as well as the “second-nut flush draw” already on the turn.

  • Did I ask myself what the entire range of hands this player could be raising from EP is?
  • Did I ask what range the player in the BB could be calling with, given 9.5 : 1 pre-flop pot odds?

At that time, I unfortunately did not, rather I quickly put the preflop raiser on AQ, KQ, QJ, JJ, KK, or AA (not QT since I had a ten, but it would have been a possible preflop hand he could have had); I was killing all of these hands (except for the QT) with my turned trips, right? And if a king were to fall on the river, that would make top pair for one of them holding AK or KJ, so I would probably get paid big with that card on the river with either my full house (tens full of kings) vs. his top pair top kicker (TPTK) or trips (three of a kind with my ten) vs. an ace on the river as long as he’s not on AT or AJ.

Well, the answer is of course, “Yes, I had most of those hands beat” but only if you give my opponent that very small range.

  • What about QQ?
  • And what about loose deeper-stacked players raising and then calling with any pocket pair for “set mining,” which of course includes 44?
  • What about a KJ or J9 for the OESD here when an ace or 8 falls on the river?
  • What about KK or AA, where my opponent would river a better full house if an ace or king falls on the river giving me huge “reverse implied odds” (i.e., where I pay him out much more even when I complete my draw).
  • What about the BB who was getting amazing pot odds preflop and could have over-called with many suited Ax hands.
  • The fact that I have three tens makes the likelihood that my opponent holds AT or QT very small, but it’s possible!
    • In that case, I wouldn’t have the made hand I assumed at all, rather I would be on a full-house draw to 3 kings plus a flush draw for not 9 outs rather 8 because if the ace of hearts falls, I’ll have the considered “nut flush” but he’ll have tens full of aces!
    • If the jack of hearts falls, I lose to Ax of hearts (the ace of hearts and any another heart card).
    • I might already be “drawing (almost) dead” vs. 44 (full house: fours full of tens) or vs. QQ.

Remember: Especially when playing deep stacked, only draw to the nuts (i.e., an unbeatable hand) almost always and never forget that you never have a “nut flush” when the board is paired in either Texas Holdem or Omaha.

Action continued on the turn with the BB checking to the pre-flop aggressor who made a “big bet” (again, on the turn and river, this bet is twice the size of the big blind or BB). I called to suck in the player in the BB position, who also called, so we were 3-handed coming into the river.

The river was a 2h with a pot of 19.5 BBs (or total small bets). Now the player in the BB bets out into the preflop aggressor, which given this line of play would be considered a river “donk bet” that contrary to popular belief does not mean a stupid bet or a bet from a donkey (i.e., a very insulting term for someone who doesn’t understand the game); a donk bet is simply betting into the player who has the initiative. The preflop aggressor folded, and the disgusted look on his face when he saw the third heart on the river led me to believe he was probably on AQ or a pocket pair from JJ-88, but most likely AQ or JJ, since almost no fixed-limit players or no-limit players are able to fold an over pair of AA or KK, even on a three-suited board, which in this case would would give that player 2 pair “aces (or kings) up.” But the look of disgust at the end of the hand might have been because he knew he needed to fold those aces in this multi-way pot. The question he has to ask himself on this river is, given pot odds of 21.5 small bets to 1 big bet or about 11:1 on his money, “Will my 2 pair of aces over tens win this pot, given this board and the previous betting action, more than 1 time in 12 in the long run?” If the answer is yes, he calls, if not he folds. Pot odds are that simple.; the tough part is figuring out your opponents holdings in order to determine if you have a better than 11 : 1 chance of winning.

So there we were. Down to two players on the river, and I, at that time still a recreational player, was looking at a “made second-nut flush” with a ten “blocker,” now that the board was three-suited, which made the likelihood of someone being on QT much lower. A straight was impossible give the board, and the fact that this player was very loose, I thought that I was going to “value town.” Value betting is an art my friends, and it means making bets when you have the nuts, but especially also when you have a beatable hand, but you believe your hand is better than your opponent’s hand. At this casino, even at fixed-limit tables, you could reraise in heads-up pots until one player was all-in. I put him on a weaker flush and reraised, to which he answered with a re-reraise. I raised back up over the top, to which he only called. I showed down my king-high flush and he turned over … yes Ah3h.

I thought at the time that he was being nice to the young player at the table, but later I realized that after a couple of reraises, he correctly assumed that I could be on a full house … because the board was paired!

There was an experienced player to my right, and we were joking around and having fun at the table, which I can only recommend to you guys and gals. Poker should be fun in my brother’s and my opinion. Anyway, I asked him later if I over-played the hand vs. that guy (who again was “off the chain”). His answer wasn’t

  • “Even players with no idea get lucky,” which would have put the blame on him.
  • He also didn’t say, that “this player actually had the correct pot odds to call with his flush draw to the river, if he didn’t put us on a pocket pair of QQ, 44 or QT.”
  • No, he gave me an answer I’ll never forget, which was … “You had a beatable hand!”
  • He was also nice enough not to mention the additional truth that “I got greedy,” and he even bought me a beer. Less was certainly more in the teaching he gave me after that hand, and I’ll never forget it.

Imagine that I had been playing no-limit Texas Holdem with that same hand, and how expensive it would have been for me on the end. However, in no-limit, I could have bet big enough on the turn to push him off of his assumed flush draw … but what if he had been on a preflop overcalled pair of 4s? Vs. tight early-position raisers, he could have also theoretically only flat called with QQ.

So, What’s the Bigger Picture and Lesson for Most of Us Here?

  • Postflop when big or deep stacked: play small pots out of position (OOP) & with small hands and “big pots” in position (IP) and with big hands (i.e., 2-pair+) or with strong nut-draws. TPGK is a “good hand,” an over pair of aces or kings is a “good hand” … NOT a big hand!
  • Playing with effective “deep stacks” (150 BBs or more) is a postflop game!
  • You never have “the nuts” when the board is paired. Again, you have a good hand, but it’s a hand full of reverse implied odds vs. players with full houses.
  • Playing with effective “smaller stacks” (~10-60 BBs) is a preflop and flop game!
  • When deep-stacked, preflop speculative hands go way up in value, and flopped over pairs, especially AA or KK, and top pair good kickers (TPGK, such as AK on a KT4 flop) are very dangerous hands you should play for pot control in many cases.
  • As one of my first proper poker mentors told me that night as , a “good ol’ boy” who had definitely taken many bad beats in his career, “”

Crucial Information on How to Increase Your Profits With the Deep-Stack Strategy

You’ll notice that the suggestions below overlap quite a bit with the big-stack strategy (BSS) suggestions. The reason is that these two strategies are very similar — the primary difference being that speculative in-position (IP) play is even more important when deep stacked. I’ve copied some of the most important points for DSS play, but definitely review the list on the BSS page again.

  • Play full-ring games (7+ players) until mastery: play 5K+ hands prior to moving up a limit.
  • “Big hands in big pots (i.e., two pair or better!), small hands in small pots.”
  • The “PIP Principle”: position + initiative = profit! Keep the initiative & fold/fear equity on your side. When out of position (OOP), you should tend to decrease aggression and bluffs; play more fit-or-fold poker postflop, often for pot control. When in position (IP), if it’s good enough for a call, it’s often good enough for a raise (except when playing speculative hands after many cold callers).
  • In live play, never watch the board or look at your pocket cards when the cards are being dealt … watch your opponents!
  • Always mind the pot-to-effective-stack ratio! The effective (smallest) stack size may be the stack size of your opponent(s), not your stack size.
  • “Set mining” with small/mid pocket pairs is your most-lucrative friend vs. LAGs (loose aggressive players) and maniacs (& bluff-inducing lines w/top pair or better).
  • If the table is tight, loosen up, increase aggression and decrease bet size. If tight/passive players bet/raise, fold weak Ax, Kx & Qx hands, but call IP with speculation hands when big stacked since you have huge implied odds vs. TAGs when you flop 2 pair+.

The Strength of Your Texas Hold ’em Hand Is Highly Determined by the Flop!

Everyone has heard of the old adage, “Holdem is a game of implied odds,” but very few have listened. Ergo, knowing the statistical improbability of any flop, given your hand and opponents’ estimated ranges, can end up costing your ass when the improbable happens!

Highly unlikely” (ex: 87s vs. 77, flop: 887) = (potentially) expensive as hell, especially with effective deep stacks and large turn and/or river calls against loose/weak/passive opponents … and of course also against the loose/aggressive shark who can read your rigid, uncreative tight/aggressive style like an open book.

When holding a pocket pair
1 in 8.5 (11.8%) flops trips or better.
1 in 137 (0.74%) flops a full house.
1 in 408 (0.25%) flops a 4-of-a-kind.
1 in 5 (19%) pocket pairs hits trips or better by the river.

When holding non-paired hole cards
1 in 29 (3.47%) flops 2-pair or better.
1 in 49.5 (2.02%) hits two pair.
1 in 74 (1.35%) flops trips.
1 in 1,089 (0.092%) flops a full house.
1 in 9,800 (0.01%) flops a 4-of-a-kind.

When holding suited hole cards
1 in 9 (10.9%) flops a 4-flush draw.
1 in 12 (8.14%) suited hands either flops a flush, flops draw and completes by the river or flops 2-pair+.
1 in 119 (0.84%) flops a flush.
1 in 16 (6.4%) suited hands makes the flush by the river.

When holding max-stretch suited connectors
1 in 9.57 (10.449%) flops an OESD (1-gap connectors: 1 in 12.38, 8.08%)
1 in 76.5 (1.31%) flops a straight. (1-gap connectors: 1 in 102, 0.98%)
1 in 7.66 (13.06%) hits straight by the river. (1-gap suited: 1 in 9.21, 9.78%)
1 in 4.5 (21.86%) flops 2-pair+ or hits the straight or flush by the river. (1-gap suited: 1 in 5.3, 18.86%)

Stacks are lost with “strong hands” (TPTK+) against stronger (usually unexpected) hands
TPTK on the flop: (Note: all following stats were generated using Poker Stove)
95% behind a flopped set
80% behind an overpair (ex. AJs vs QQ, board J94 rainbow)
75% behind a flopped 2-pair
Coin toss, even with a flopped flush draw, against an overpair! (ex. QcQh vs. AdJd, board: Jc 9d 4d – 48.38% : 51.62%) (ex. AcAh vs. AdJd, board Jc 9d 4d – 56.87%: 43.13%).
56% behind 15 clean outs! (ex. AdJd vs 8h7h, board Jc 9h 6h; )

TPTK that trips up on the turn
84% behind opponent’s completed full-house (after having flopped trips with his low/mid pocket pair)
80% behind a flopped straight
77% behind a completed flush draw

TPTK sucked out on the turn
AcQc vs 8d7d: 60/40 match-up preflop
Flop: Qd 8h 3d – 87s is now a 0.2% favorite!
Turn: 7s – 87s is now 84% ahead, and with the missed flush & straight draw, Mr. TPTK donates his entire stack by “protecting his hand”!

TPGK (ex. with KQo) that hits top 2-pair on the turn
93% behind a completed straight (opponent called preflop & flop w/suited max-stretch or 1-gap connectors)
91% behind a flopped set
90% behind a completed flush draw

Overpair on the flop
97% behind a flopped flush
96% behind a flopped straight
87% behind a flopped set
70% behind a flopped 2-pair
56% behind 15 clean outs! (ex. AcAh vs. QdTd, board Jc 9d 4d – 43.74%: 56.26%; coin-toss if one of the flush outs are “dead”: ex. AcAd vs. QdTd, board Jc 9d 4d – 48.49%: 51.52%).

Overpair sucked out on the turn
KcKh vs 8d7d: 77/23 match-up preflop
Flop: Qd 8h 3d – 87s is now only 0.4% behind!
Turn: 7s – 87s is now 84% ahead, and with the missed flush and straight draw, Mr. Overpair also donates his entire stack by “protecting his hand”!

Top 2-pair on the flop
82% behind a flopped flush
81% behind a flopped set
82% behind a flopped straight
Coin-toss against 15 clean outs! (Top 2-pair is only 9.5% ahead if one of the 9 flush outs is dead.)

Set on the flop
95.7% behind a flopped over-set
95% behind a pocket pair that flopped the upper set of a full-house: (Ac7c vs 8c8h, board: 7h 7s 8d)
77% behind a flopped full-house (Ac8c vs 7h7s, board: 7c 8s 8d)
76% behind the same set (with unpaired hole cards) with a better kicker (ex. Ah7h vs 8d7d, board: 7c 7s Qd)

In most of the situations described above, you’re normally way-ahead preflop and way behind postflop (hence the implied odds of calling IP with pairs, suited connectors and suited Aces). I have lost a mountain of cash here by not seeing the signs and/or falsely believing that the opponent was bluffing post-flop. When weak/tight-passive players bet, you should normally fold without the nuts or very strong nut draws! Loose/aggressive opponents also make most of their profit in these situations, so don’t pay them off either!

This absolutely does not mean that you should necessarily assume that such an improbable event has occurred, but you should be able to spot the signs (i.e. a paired board should always be a red flag in your mind) indicating where it is possible or more likely. At the very least (especially when deep-stacked) try not to donate your hard-earned stack to the lucky chump who flopped the miracle when you’re holding TPTK, an overpair and even 2-pair+ in some circumstances. If your opponent really is a fish, you’ll be able to stack him later for sure, and with a much less marginal/dangerous hand.

On the turn: the main questions are not only simply, “Did he flop a set? Is he on a flush and/or an open-ended straight-draw (OESD), a double-gut-shot or a gut-shot draw?” etc. but also:

  • “Is he playing a draw that could have 2-paired on the turn/river???”
  • When the middle or bottom flop card pairs on the turn: “Did he call with a middle or bottom pair and a very strong or even a weak draw”? “Is he capable of calling with a bare middle/bottom pair and no draw”?
  • “At this point in the hand, am I truly protecting or paying this fish off???”
  • “Do I falsely assume that he’s a fish? Is he actually a very capable loose-aggressive player, or a weak-passive player or a calling station who hit or sucked out on me?”

Much money is lost to the assumed “fish” who plays loosely, loses many pots, but also takes down the very large pots against you because you are incapable of laying down TPTK or an overpair on the flop or turn.
Review the two suck-out examples above.

  • Is it wrong of the opponent to call you with speculative hands IP (or even OOP) when he has reads on you that clearly indicate enormous post-flop implied odds?
  • Is it weak/fishy/poor play for the opponent to call your flop Cbet with 50%+ equity and implied odds against your completely obvious tight/aggressive TPTK or overpair?
  • Is it wrong of him to donk all-in or (check)push vs. your Cbets on these flops?
  • Is he a lucky fish/station, or did you get beautifully played by a LAG shark in a meta-game scenario?

If you’re not an expert in poker statistics and just “believe” you’re way ahead with your hands because “it looks that way” (i.e., with TPTK, overpairs, etc.), you’re a primary target for the loose/aggressive sharks and also a victim to the stations who simply can’t fold but (unfortunately) also hit from time to time.

This is not to say that you should think your opponents always hold/flop monsters, but just be aware that it certainly does happen … and flopping monsters can happen against all odds much more often than we might expect. Mathematically seen, the occurrence of improbable events is completely constant – rare but always possible. Being a player who knows poker math very well, I can tell you from experience that such situations in the heat of the battle in a live game, or while multi-tabling online, are extremely difficult to spot and do normally end up costing your stack. The best you can do thereafter is say, “Nice hand sir.” If you hit the roof, get very upset, make fun of the opponent(s) for “illogical”/“bad” calls, etc., one of two horrible things happen (maybe three):

  • The fish who just gave you a bad beat will play better, and as you’re probably on tilt, you’ll lose even more.
  • This “fish” is actually a shark and will effectively use your tilt against you.
  • The opponent doesn’t appreciate your comments and kicks your ass or puts an unwanted hole in you.

Honestly, I have made all of the above-mentioned mistakes (luckily managing to avoid any serious physical confrontations), which is why I would like to share the following advice. In the wise words of my teacher, “Little dogs bark. Big dogs don’t need to.

Be a respectable winner and an even better loser, especially when you lose having been way ahead preflop and/or postflop. You’ll be welcomed back at games you can easily beat in the long-run, and it’s simply more fun to play in games with a positive, friendly atmosphere; you can make good connections and enjoy your hobby with others instead of limping home black-and-blue after running your mouth and insulting the wrong people.

Not getting (too) drunk at the card room, always being mindful of and strictly adhering to bankroll management and never playing with scared money will help you keep your composure and maintain a positive reputation. Variance is an inherent part of the game and down-swings can last a very long time! Be sure your bankroll and your mind has the surplus to handle the swings, and you’ll end up on top in the end.

Starting-Hands Ranges for Deep Stack Play

Full-Ring & 6-Max

For now, please stick to the BSS ranges detailed here, or get the comprehensive starting-hands charts for almost all stack sizes in cash games and phases of tournament play.

Get the Comprehensive Starting Hands Charts for Texas Holdem Cash Games Here

Get the Comprehensive Starting Hands Charts for Texas Holdem Tournaments Here

Note

  • Adjust the suggested ranges (especially 3bets and 4bets & 5bets) in accordance with your opponents’ stats and playing style, as well as your and their table images.
  • Have a plan for the entire course of the hand to the river and the session at any given poker table, before making your first move.
  • Change it up; put pressure on your opponents; put the final/difficult questions to them (i.e. make them have to decide whether or not to call/push).
  • Keep them guessing, and have them adjust to your game … not the other way around.

Heads-Up

DO NOT play heads-up when deep stacked unless you have a lot of experience in short-handed play (if playing actively online “a lot” means over 100K hands). Please, and again I cannot stress this enough, start at full-ring poker tables. Then after 100K hands or so, proceed to the 6max tables, and only after at least a year of play at shorter-handed 6-max tables should you actively play in heads-up cash-games. That being said, I would recommend playing micro-stakes heads-up games to get experience at low risk so that you’re not completely inexperienced in that environment should you get into heads-up in a larger MTT online. Of course if you plan to play sit-and-go single-table tournaments as your main game, you’ll need to be very good at all stack sizes and numbers of players at the table; you’ll get this information in the upcoming e-mail for tournament play.

 

Strategy Recap and What’s to Come for Our Members

The deep-stack strategy (DSS) is the strategy you will play after taking down a big pot when mid or big stacked or at the beginning of deep-stack tournaments. Review the list above on how to improve your win rate and use your stack size and the increased “fear and fold equity” optimally. If you’re new to this style of play, use the mid-stack strategy ranges (coming next week to our members) and incorporate set mining and flatting from late position with Axs and suited connectors after four or more limpers or callers.

Especially when playing online poker where you can play multiple tables, begin with no more than four deep-stack tables at a time, focus on player profiling and in-position play, and most importantly, when playing big pots, only do so with big hands (at least 2 pair or better). When drawing, only draw to the nuts in most cases. When using the big-stack strategy, if you don’t buy back up to 100 BBs per table, you will be in situations where your stack size drops, which decreases the implied odds you can expect when playing speculative hands. In tournaments, your stack size will necessarily fluctuate, which is why understanding the short-stack strategy and the upcoming hybrid strategy is crucial for optimal play in various phases of poker tournaments.

For our members, the next e-mail you’ll receive will be for how to play when mid stacked (40 to 60 BBs). Keep an eye on your inbox, and feel free to comment to this page below and drop us a line in the meantime if you have any questions.

 

Other Useful Tools for Maximizing Your Profit

 

Poker Tracking and Equity Analysis Software for Online Play

Holdem Manager (My personal favorite online poker-tracking software for Texas Hold ’em)

Omaha Manager (My personal favorite online poker-tracking software for Omaha)

Sit-and-Go Wizard (a must-have for all serious SnG players and very useful for MTT pros)

 

 

The SitNGo Wizard