Shorthanded Common Mistake Being too passive in the wrong spots

Shorthanded play calls for playing more aggressively because the average hand here is not as strong as the average hand in full games since there are fewer players. This means some hands get bumped up in relative value, and can be played more aggressively in the shorthanded games. Here are some reasons for playing aggressively.

  1. You want to get more money in the pot if you have a good hand so you can win more. Since players are looser and more aggressive in shorthanded games, it means many players have learned to call bets and raises with lesser holdings. So you should not be afraid to be betting or raising when you have the best hand, since your opponents are more likely to stick around in shorthanded games. This means you should tend to avoid slowplaying since you will get paid off more often in shorthanded games.
  2. You have a good hand, but it is vulnerable. You would be happy if your opponents folded in this situation. For example, if you have top pair when the board is T-8-3, you may have the best hand, but your hand is vulnerable to overcards. You need to charge overcards a fee to see if they can draw out on you.
  3. You need the other players to fear your raises so you have credibility when you are bluffing or semi-bluffing. This credibility is important because you will have more chances to bluff and semi-bluff in shorthanded games. You need to make it so that your opponent cannot deduce whether or not you have a made hand. When your opponents are uncertain of our hand, it can easily lead them to make mistakes.


You hold A3o on the button in a 4-handed game. You open-raise and both blind hands call.

Your hand: A3o Flop: A-7-6 rainbow

They both check and you bet. Both of them call. Turn: 8

They both check again. At this point it is important not to be afraid of a check-raise by one of the players and keep on betting. You do not want to allow a lone 5 or 9 to see if they can make a straight on the River for free. Although you are not all that happy being up against a hand like 98 (a pair of 8's with a straight draw would give him 13 outs against your pair of A's), it would not be a good idea to allow a hand like that to see the River without putting in a bet, thus getting "infinite" odds (when you do not have to put in any bets and yet have a chance to win the pot). This situation is different from that of checking on the Turn with the intention of calling a bluff bet on the River. There are so many possible outs that your opponent can have. The strategy of inducing bluffs is best deployed when your opponent has fewer outs and he would likely fold if you bet on the Turn. In those cases, your check on the Turn is a ploy to lure him into betting a worse hand on the River after you had shown weakness on the Turn. This is not the case in this example. Here, most opponents with a straight draw will call. The looser players may call with an inside straight draw (with just a T or a 4) as well. So you want to bet on the Turn since you are likely to get called.

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