The goal of this article is to help you find a way to play this difficult chip stack with more confidence.

First let me say this… Poker is a game of changing variables and our job is to figure out where they all go, and how they fit into our equation (how do we get to our desired end result).  The key is 1st understanding what variables you are looking for, Identifying where they fit, and deciding if it makes sense to proceed in Direction A , B, or C…(Fold, Call, or Raise)

Everyone gets excited to look down and see AA, but should everyone’s immediate thought be “Raise”?  It shouldn’t be… Why?  The reason is actually simple.  If you are looking at your cards and making a decision on how to play it JUST based on your hand strength, then it means you aren’t considering any other details.

Here is probably the top 2 things that people do with a 20-ish bb stack that hurts them the most:

*Raise/Folding – This is usually a result of what I stated above, Making a decision solely based on your hand strength and not considering all other variables.

By raising and folding this size stack all you really accomplish is losing Fold Equity.  Fold Equity is basically the ability to raise and apply enough pressure to your opponents stack so they are faced with a hard decision.  As you keep raise/folding your 20ish bb stack, it quickly becomes 10bbs and then you are just looking to get it All-in with a decent hand.  This is also where a lot of people will be heard saying, “How can you call with that!?”, “They called me with F*cking 75s and beat my AJ!”, ect… Don’t be upset because you lost all your Fold Equity in prior hands and now don’t have enough chips to push your opponents off marginal holdings.

Calling – You’ll often see a lot of players limping and folding to a raise, or calling a raise and folding to further pre-flop action (Especially on money bubbles).  The same concept from “*Raise/Folding” applies here too.  Only difference is that this is worse than raise/folding, because at least with Raise/Folding you give yourself a chance to win when everyone folds.


So how can we play this stack size more confidently???

1 – If you aren’t comfortable enough to sustain further action with your hand – Fold it.  This is especially key when you are at an aggressive table with lots of raising and re-raising.

2 – If you are comfortable enough and willing to play your hand, don’t second guess yourself. – Commit to it.  You can either commit to the hand by shoving, or by raising with the intentions of calling the rest of your chips off.  Think about your situation before doing anything and **HAVE A PLAN.

 **Have a plan – This is one of the most important things to remember in poker.  Why???  Let me answer this by asking another question – Would you be more comfortable being blind folded and sent into a dark cave to find your way out, OR would you rather have researched the cave and had a better idea which way to head when you were in there (still blindfolded)?  The answer is obvious, but the point is that you will be more confident, since you already thought about the situation ahead of time and considered the information you gathered on that cave specifically.

In Poker Terms: You will be more confident in your plays, because you thought about all the information you gathered at the table, and now have developed a plan that will help you get the most chips.


There is definitely more to this concept of “playing a 20ish bb stack” but this is just the beginning. Once you can get this thought process down, then you’ll probably want to look at ranges of hands that are +EV to go all-in with and to call other players all-ins with…


Poker is quite a complex game and there is always a lot of things that should be considered, but it’s nothing that hard work and dedication to “being better each day” won’t help you accomplish.


If you have any questions or thoughts please feel free to share. 🙂