When low on chips, it might seem as if folding and shoving are your only options, but another option is the “stop-and-go,” a twopart move set up preflop and executed postflop.
The stop-and-go play begins when an opponent raises preflop and you just call as opposed to moving all in. This is often done when you have a mediocre hand that you’re hesitant to move all in with for fear of being called. Instead, you call with the plan of shoving on the flop if you hit any part of it.
A great example of this maneuver took place during a $5,000-buy-in tournament this year. There were 84 players remaining from 366, each looking to make the 72-player prize-money cutoff. With blinds at 1,200-2,400 and an ante of 400, Michael Lech raised to 5,500 from the cutoff, and action folded to Daniel Ades, who was sitting with just 16,000 in the big blind.
Most of the time, players in this spot would either move all in or simply fold. However, the time was right for a stop-and-go. Ades held 8♣ 5♣, which isn’t a great hand, but it’s not a bad hand when you already have 2,400 invested and it’s just 3,100 more to see a flop.
Remember that with stop-and-go, the plan is to move all in if you hit any part of the flop. That puts the pressure on your opponent, who can either fold or call. If he elects to do the former, that’s great, as you’ll pick up the pot without resistance. If he calls, you may be ahead, but if not, chances are you’ll at least be drawing live.
The flop came down 3♠ K♥ 5♥, and Ades, true to form, moved all in with his pair of fives. He had some fold equity — the equity a player can expect to gain from an opponent folding his or her bets — and it proved enough to get Lech to lay down his hand.
“I had deuce-nine offsuit,” Lech said. “Ades had been quite tight, and I was attempting to punish the (money) bubble. It backfired. I should have made my open bet bigger, but I didn’t think he wouldn’t defend eight-five suited there.”
When asked what sort of hand he would have needed to call Ades’ shove, Lech had an answer.
“I think for my stack size and his four-big-blind shove, I’d probably call with anything that had backside draws such as all ace-high hands down to jack-10, most likely,” Lech said. “If my deuce-nine was suited I might have even called.”
The next time you find yourself running low on chips, don’t forget about the stop-and-go. It’s a strong move that, when properly executed, can help you rebuild your stack.