I used to be a really big advocate of raise/folding from a 11-15BB stack since your chances of busting are 0 if you fold, whereas when you shove it’s obviously >0%. When you shove JTs your bustout probability is almost 29% (vs Nash calling ranges). That difference is obviously huge and is not one to be ignored when tournament equity is so important to preserve. The issues arise when you realise that 10BB gives you a very small share of the equity in the tournament.

Raising Strategy With 15bb

I like to think about how my stack compares to how many chips I need to win the tournament at certain stages and if I realise that my 8,000 stack at 400/800/100 looks pretty paltry compared to the 1.5 million chips I need then I look to take most if not all of the +cEV shove spots I can. However, compare this to 80,000 chips at 4k/8k/1k where I only need 200k to win the tournament and you can see how the situations differ and your strategy of raise/folding can be a more profitable one. The reason I have moved over to the shove all-in preflop camp is that I always want to have a stack that retains folds equity. If I raise/fold a few times and then the blinds go up I’m suddenly at 7BB with much less fold equity.

PRO Tip:

Use our free fold equity calculator to see how many folds you need.

I had a short discussion with Dr Cardner in Vegas a couple of weeks ago about Phil Hellmuth electing to raise/fold off 15BB and if anyone can demonstrate success with this method then it’s Phil with his umpteen bracelets now (albeit not all in Holdem). I believe that a new book featuring a whole host of authors (including Ed Miller) comes out soon that compares old-school to new-school short stack strategies.

If you can make someone fold just by minraising then that is the method I would choose all day long – weak/tight opponents who 3bet over a raise with a similar range to the one they call a shove with are great targets since they’re over folding in that situation and you can profit without committing your tournament life. You’re absolutely right that you want to avoid giving aggressive opponents an opportunity to shove over the top of your raise, which is why you should look to open-shove more often and take away their favourite weapon. Hands like 22-77 which are not good enough to induce with are great in this spot to just open shove, all the way up to 20BB probably.

Skill Level

I wonder how much you can outplay your opponents when you are this short. Even though they do make mistakes, their plays at this stack depth are much less pronounced in my opinion. Basically, weak players would always prefer to play professionals at short stack depths since it almost evens out the playing field, preventing the better opponents to outplay their weaker opposition postflop. However, if they are calling pre flop and then folding a lot on the flop then minraise/stab away until they adjust/bust.


I think minraise/folding from 14BB from the CO or HJ is way better than from the button since the BTN vs Blinds comes with its own set of dynamics where ranges tend to be wider – in this case you’re probably making a mistake raise/folding A2o for 14BB from the Button since aggressive blinds can often make you fold the best hand. This is definitely situation dependent though, as I discuss below.

Stack Sizes

this is a really interesting one and probably one I could write a whole thesis on. It really comes down to how you perceive your opponents to play their different stack sizes. Some large stacks will call off and defend much lighter putting your in more difficult spots post flop. Others like to play tight and preserve that stack. On the flip side some short stack players (especially on bubbles or pay jumps) will look to nit it up and avoid confrontation. Others will not care about their shortstack and be happy to get it in either by calling your shove or shoving over the top of your minraise. I guess it comes down to what creates the most fold equity. If you can get the blinds to fold by minraising then do that – if they only fold vs shoves then do that (within reason of course!).

Pay jumps

Again this links to players who are trying to ladder up and those that don’t really care. If aggressive players are aware of ICM then they can put you in some dreadful spots pre flop where you have to really tighten your calling range (this obviously depends on the stack sizes of the other players left in the tournament and where you sit relative to them). In that instance open-shoving is far better. If you intend to just raise/fold though then I guess it doesn’t really matter.


Minraising to steal when there are antes in the pot doesn’t have to work very often at all (<50%). Vs the weak/tight opponents you talked about you could raise/fold K3o (the King is significant as it blocks some of their 3b shove range) and just print money.

I hope I have addressed some areas well enough – if not, just let me know in the comments and I’ll go into more detail. If you want to learn more about using ICM to make better tournament decisions, become a PRO member to access all my videos!