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On Getting Stacked

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One of the most disappointing events in any no-limit game is getting stacked. With the monetary loss often also comes a sense of embarrassment and self-doubt. “Did I do it wrong? Should I have approached the hand completely differently?” Every decision gets scrutinized.

I want to talk about a hand submitted to me by one of my regular readers. Here’s how the hand went. It was an online $0.25-$0.50 no-limit game. My reader had a $22 stack, or 44 big blinds.

He raised to $1.75 from under the gun with Q :club: Q :diamond: . The button reraised to $6. The blinds folded, and my reader called.

The flop came 5 :diamond: 4 :spade: 3 :spade: . Both players checked.

The turn was the 3 :club: . My reader bet the pot, $12.75, with his queens. His opponent raised all-in for $3.25 more, and my reader called.

The other player had pocket aces, the river didn’t help, and my reader got stacked.

Here was the question he asked when he submitted the hand:

“Was all of this inevitable, or just another instance of my poor play? Hey, go ahead and kick me, I can take it. In fact, if I played as poorly as I feel, I welcome and need the kicking.”

My thoughts about the hand play are simple, but I have more to say about some of the issues beneath the surface.

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19 Responses to “On Getting Stacked”

@ Tue Feb 03, 2009 01:56:06 PM

I’m going to call you out on this one, Ed:

The vast majority of 25c/50c players, who would make a re-raise pre-flop, will only do it with KK or AA. It’s like playing 1/2 offline, with a table of people who are all at Level 1.

I’ve got 175k hands in my database at 25c/50c, and the average 3-bet preflop on the entire database is under 2.5%.

Ed Miller
@ Tue Feb 03, 2009 03:41:19 PM

You might be right about the 50NL games… I haven’t played them in well over a year. So just pretend I said 200NL. :)

@ Wed Feb 04, 2009 07:35:19 AM

down here at 10nl, people 3bet and call 3bets with a very wide range. in the past two days, i had an opponent 4bet-shove 88 and another call a 3bet with j9s. so you never know.

@ Wed Feb 04, 2009 08:01:05 AM

wow, 2.5%….that’s insane. No wonder I hate playing online small stakes!

@ Wed Feb 04, 2009 11:44:55 PM


Is that full ring or 6-max? And what is the date range for that sample?

My sample of 1.3 M player*hands over a mix of stakes, mostly NL25 FR and 6m from January and February, shows 3.6% 3-betting. Still not much compared to higher stakes, I think, but QQ is a slight favorite to this range.

Steve Brogan
@ Thu Feb 05, 2009 02:59:48 AM

You make a very good point. We sometimes lose sight of the fact that our decision was sound but the results were bad for us. It is hard to lose but if you play poker regularly you are going to encounter your share of losses. It is the overall quality of your play that should concern you. If you are playing well and being beat, you will eventually rebound. If you are not playing well, it might be time to hit the books or just play for fun.

@ Thu Feb 05, 2009 08:14:12 AM

Nice article Ed. You’ve written related articles before, and one than helped me a lot was a few-months-ago article about shoving your stack on a pure bluff.
I have been winning at a decent clip (7-8bb/hr) for couple years but as an average player ,imo, against smaller stakers, mostly 1-3 and 2-5 live. So I had made many many routine bluffs along the way, but I had never actually shoved my whole stack in on a pure bluff.
I had thought about it but never done it. Your article pushed me over the edge. Raise/shoved it on the river with T8o from BB. The close to nut hand would have involved holding a 2 and as BB thought I would be put on that hand. Unfortunately he held the hand I was representing. However, I didn’t get upset with myself at all, I was so pleased with moi` for finally doing it.
And I didn’t do it to advertise, I thought I had a good chance of succeeding. But wow ! A nice side benefit of having the nuts ( I don’t mean my hand) was this was a tight game. I saw 2 guys laughing at me when I flipped over my cards, you know, there’s another small-stakes idiot trying to bluff in these games. I was solely responsible for opening that game way the hell up, and I’m never that guy.
Obviously I still don’t make this play frequently, but I can do it. And beleive it or not guys, it helps when you do get stacked with legitimate albeit 2nd best hands. It’s like, chuckle to self, I’ve been stacked with worse hands than this. (=

Epilogue: Of course it involved some luck getting ok hands, but I went from down 100bb’s to up 160 bb’s next 3 hours. The shove hand cost me about 65bb’s at time. So no, I would never do this to advertise, but between my chances of success and what it did to that tight game…

So again, thanks Ed, not the 1st time I have benefited from your B,S,and T.

jamleeco’s my hero
@ Thu Feb 05, 2009 01:46:14 PM

jamleeco… i wet my pants when i read your post… call me… 100- 1228 – URMYHERO

@ Thu Feb 05, 2009 02:39:15 PM

Uhh, that’s real funny. How did you post under this name? I hope this wasn’t your permanent sign-up name.
I know the joke is because that post might have sounded braggy and as I read back over it I think it did sound that way. But believe me, I didn’t intend it that way. Check my posts, I am a self-confessed idiot.
I was trying to help the OP out who was so upset at getting stacked. I used to be that way.
I realize no1 needs me to tell them how good Ed’s advice is, but even after reading it, it’s not always easy to make yourself follow it in the heat of battle.
So, I’ve been stacked plenty of times over last couple years. And a bunch my first year of nl below breakevenish playing. And the games I play in are easy, I’m not trying to sound like I’m Leatherass or something.
My point was I know it’s hard to acclimate to that, especially if you come from a limit background like myself. Just trying to add some encouragement to the op. Sometimes even when you get stacked and look like or feel like an idiot ,it can really help you out in unexpected ways and especially mental and emotional conditioning.
In closing, if my post sounded like a brag like “look what I did” I apologize. Try and cut me a little slack, i’ve made a thousand post about look what an idiot i was or I chickened out here and feel like crap.

I left a message on your answering machine, call me back at 1-877-KISSMYASS.

@ Thu Feb 05, 2009 02:45:01 PM

PS. I guess there’s about a 1% chance you weren’t busting my chops. If that’s the case, disregard last remark. And if so, don’t take it seriously, I’m not upset, just trying to have a little fun back at ya. That really wasn’t a very good post I made. It was just a fond memory of taking an improvement step and seemed to fit.

@ Fri Feb 06, 2009 12:18:12 PM

What a timely article, I am feeling kind of bummed about a hand last night that I got stacked. Would appreciate some comments on this.

1/2NL at the local casino, villian is someone I have not played against before, and have been at the table for about an hour. Haven’t seen him made any moves that’s out of line, seems pretty solid.

7 players limp in, including me on the button with Q7 clubs.

Flop was all clubs, I think Jack high and two rags. SB (Villian) bets $10, BB calls, folded to me I raised to $30.

SB has about $230 behind, he reraised to $100. BB folds. I then shoved. He shows K high flush. Should I have taken the cue and folded, or was this the right move, given he could have a smaller flush, or hit a set? I felt afterwards I should have been able to lay this down, given I had the third nut flush, but, I don’t know.

@ Fri Feb 06, 2009 12:20:45 PM

p.s. I should have mentioned I had him covered.

@ Fri Feb 06, 2009 12:50:32 PM

Don’t stress jamleeco…I appreciated the logic in your first post and have also made the rare all in bluff shove on the river. It’s worked enough that I wouldn’t discount it from my play list, albeit to be used only in the right situations.

@ Fri Feb 06, 2009 01:36:09 PM


this looks like an appropriate time to trot out that poker truism: don’t go broke in an unraised pot. When the SB 3-bets you, and you haven’t seen him make any out-of-line moves, the odds are high that his range of hands here has you drawing dead or vulnerable to a re-draw. I’d fold here 90% of the time barring a soul-read of extraordinary certainty.

@ Fri Feb 06, 2009 01:41:24 PM


I would make a laydown here about 85% of the time, with a nod to the poker truism of not going broke in an unraised pot. When the SB, whom you’ve described as a solid and somewhat unimaginative player (admittedly in a small sample, but an hour is enough to form some conclusions about a player), 3-bets you on this flop his range has you crushed here. You’re either drawing dead vs. a higher flush or up against a set.

Most live NL1/2 players don’t make insane 3-bet bluffs on a monotone flop.

Gaston Jeremy
@ Sun Feb 08, 2009 12:38:18 AM

I have major problems with getting stacked and steaming in general, now..I have read Ed’s books and this site for a long time including the articles reagrding tilt etc. but I still cant get the tilt factor in control.

I am a winning player in the microstakes but I just can’t control tilt when I have a bad day. I usually go way up in the stakes and lose my entire bank roll in one day – I get *that* furious when I am steaming. The problem is multiple bad beats in a row, I usually dont mind losing if I am behind when the all-in descision is made.

I really wish somebody could give me some advice or some guidance on how I should approach/tackle this problem..this is the single most important thing that is preventing me from moving up in the stakes, that’s why I have been stuck in the microstakes for so long.

@ Sun Feb 08, 2009 06:20:25 PM

You may want to check out “Elements of Poker” by Tommy Angelo. He has some good pointers on tilt.

Poker Gambit
@ Tue Feb 10, 2009 05:44:40 AM

I was faced w/ the same situation the other night, but folded. Difference was I had 98BB at .10/.25, I raised to $1.40 UTG and third to act raised to $8. I felt comfortable folding here, as a call or re-raise would of led to an All-in situation, which I didn’t feel was right here.

@ Thu Mar 01, 2012 04:34:40 PM

Well the reason you got stacked of is because you are in a 0.25 – 0.50 game with only a $22 dollar stack behind you – that is an extremeley shallow stack and shallow stacks will dictate on playing big pairs aggresivley thus running QQ Into AA and getting stacked. You could’ve minimized your loss if you were playing deep but QQ against AA On a flop like that is a cooler

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