The Stop and Go

In tournament poker, many plays have the same decision due to smaller stacks. With the speed of the blinds increasing at a rapid pace, you are often left with a shorter than expected stack size. This leads many players to either shove all-in, or fold.

However, there are many instances when the stop and go can prove to be a more effective use of your chips. This play will not work every time, but it will increase your overall expected value and has little to no risk involved, given how it is used.

The Scenario

When you become short stacked and are facing a bet from another player in front of you during the pre-flop action, your initial instinct may be to move all-in for your remaining chips. The problem with this is; you are likely to get called by any two random cards given the few chips you have left.

A typical player will understand that pot odds will dictate a call with any 2 cards given how few chips they must commit to see all 5 cards. By moving all-in, you are only allowing yourself to win by hitting the board and hoping your hand holds up at the end.

What if you could give yourself a few extra percent each time this situation occurs by using the stop and go maneuver? You would likely say yes, as its basically free equity.

The Play

To use the stop and go play, you must be in a situation where you are going to play a hand and move all in regardless of what action takes play before or after you. You must also have a smaller stack that will likely not have enough fold equity pre-flop to force an opponent to fold.

You must also be the one who is calling the bet, not first to raise. If you are first to act, its best to go all-in as this will give the most fold equity for your hand.

Once you call the pre-flop raise, you want to go all-in on the flop - REGARDLESS OF WHAT COMES! I put that in all caps, because many players chicken out on the flop when their hand does not connect, thus completely ruining your hand and causing one of the biggest mistakes you can make in poker.

You have to put all your chips in no matter what cards come on the flop; this is the key element to the stop and go. By making a bet on the flop, your opponent may not hit his hand either and elect to fold.

If you were to raise pre-flop with no cards showing on a board, your opponent will likely call since no hand is worse than a 2-1 underdog pre-flop. Since your raise will likely be giving the player better than 2-1 odds, a call is almost always going to happen.

Now, if you make a post flop raise, the odds will be in your favor slightly. An opponent who has completely missed the flop may consider folding to a small raise since their chances of winning are less.


You hold A of diamonds and 5 of hearts with a 1,000 chip stack. The blinds are 100/200, which gives you only 5 blinds. An all-in is an easy decision here. The player in the cutoff raises to 500 and you call. The pot is now 1,300 (blinds = 300+ 500 raise + your 300 call=1,300).

You have 500 chips left and the flop comes 10-Jack-2. You have no hand, but you must move all-in anyway. You do bet your remaining 500 in chips which makes the pot-1,800.

By making a raise on the flop instead of pre-flop, you are giving yourself two ways to win. You can connect on the flop and make a pair or better, giving you the best hand. But more importantly, you are forcing your opponent to make a decision and giving them the chance to fold.

This play will not work every single time, but like many plays in poker, they are designed to show a profit over the long run. By using the stop and go in the right situations, you will see an increase in the times you will win with a short stack.

This play is mainly designed for tournament and SNG poker, but I have seen it used by short stackers in cash game. It’s not recommended to use this play in cash games as playing short stacked is a beast in itself.

With some practice, you will know when and why you should be using the stop and go play. It will soon become a big part of your tournament play and will keep you a step ahead of the competition.