Explanation of Stack to Pot Ratio

Stack to pot ratios weigh up the amount currently in the effective stacks against what is already in the pot. Here is a quick example.

Current Pot Size on the Flop: $100
Player 1: $400 stack
Player 2: $800 stack

Player 1 has 4 times the current pot size as part of his effective stack. The SPR (stack to pot ratio) is hence 4. We can simply divide the current effective stacks by what’s in the middle to arrive at this value.

Player 2 technically has an SPR of 8, but it’s important to remember that he can’t wager these chips since Player 1’s $400 constitutes the current effective stack. So, while Player 2 can be described as having an SPR of 8, the effective SPR remains at 4 for both players.

Example of Stack to Pot Ratio used in a sentence -> In 100bb cash games, heads up 3bet pots usually have a stack to pot ratio of around 4.5 on the flop.

How to Use Stack to Pot Ratio as Part of Your Poker Strategy 

Stack to pot ratios help us to make postflop commitment decision with various types of hand. As a general guide, the lower the SPR, the wider we should be stacking off postflop. 

For example, in Hold’em, the following Flop SPRs are considered ideal -

Top Pair Ideal SPR of 4 (Dislikes SPRs of 13, but doesn’t mind SPRs of 20+)
Overpair Ideal SPR of 6 (Also dislikes SPRs of 13)
Premium made hands (The deeper the better, within reason, there is a limit if we don’t hold the nuts)
Draws Prefer higher SPRs, perhaps in the 20 region.

These are just estimates however and should be adjusted based on our opponent type.

Draws prefer higher SPRs since a) it increases the value of their implied odds and b) it leaves them more room to semi-bluff on the later streets.

Mid-strength made hands such as pairs prefer lower SPRs because the postflop commitment decisions are more straight-forward. When the SPR becomes noticeably above 4, top pair runs the risk of running into 2-pair plus when the stacks go in. 

While it won’t always be possible to play our hands at our target SPR, we should look to play hands at their preferred SPR wherever possible. We should also be constantly aware of the SPR postflop and use it to influence our commitment decisions. 

See Also 

Implied Odds, Bluff, Pot Odds, Hand Rankings, Semi Bluff

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