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Tuesday, 23 August 2016
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A Chip and a Chair – Dave Tarbet

The saying ‘a chip and a chair’ means that so long as you’ve got a chip and a chair then you have a chance to win. It originates from the 1982 World Series of Poker where Jack Straus was down to only one $25 chip early in the tournament, but staged a remarkable comeback to win the event and become World Champion.

Thus the old ‘chip and a chair’ adage is now widely invoked by short stacked tournament players all over the world.

So if you do happen to be down to your last chip or chips in a tournament, here are some tips that might enable you to perform a Staus–like miracle:

  1. Although Straus was down to a single chip, that was because he lost a big pot where his opponent had one fewer chip than he did.  Try not to let yourself go that low. When you have only 3 big blinds it really is time to make a stand.
  2. Although a multi-way pot might give you a chance to treble your money or more, you are also more likely to go bust. Furthermore, your opponents are likely to check the pot down when you are all-in to try and eliminate you. (This is not collusion and is good tournament strategy) The best chance you have to get more chips and stay in the tournament is against just one other player.
  3. The hands you should be looking to go all-in with and try to double up are hands that can win on their own without any help from the community cards. For example an Ace-rag rather than a Jack-Ten.
  4. Position is still important, even when short stacked. If you choose to go all-in under the gun it is more likely that you’ll get one or more callers behind you, and someone will probably have a better hand.
  5. Keep your eye on the size of your stack in relation to the blinds at all times. Although you might be very short stacked one minute, a couple of double ups might allow you to adjust your strategy and not be looking to find an opportunity to go all-in and double up.

So next time you take a bad beat in a tournament and find yourself the low stack don’t lose heart and think of Jack Straus. Untill next time.

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