Online Poker

Risk Taking in Poker Tournaments

by Jeremy

No matter how good you are at poker tournaments, there are going to be plenty of times when you have to take risks. After all, there is a fair amount of luck involved in tourneys. But blind luck doesn’t make one a profitable long-term player, and you need to know when to take calculated risks in order to be successful.

Focusing on your Chip Stack - The most important factor to consider with risks in poker tournaments is how your chip stack compares to the rest of the field. Going further, if your chip stack is lower than the average stack, you need to take more risks; when your stack is much bigger than the average player, you need to back off the risks.

What does a Risk look like? - So far we’ve discussed the concept of risks in poker tournaments, but we haven’t really covered what exactly a risk looks like. So to illustrate this, let’s say that you’re holding QQ preflop and you make a 4xbb raise. One player calls you, and the flop comes out Ah-8s-Jd; you bet half the pot to see where you’re at while the opponent makes a pot-sized re-raise.

Now the opponent you’re facing is fairly aggressive so they could have a jack. However, it’s also possible that they now have top pair and you’re behind in the hand. Assuming you were severely shortstacked, it might be worth a call or re-raise in this situation. However, if you have a healthy stack, it’d be a good idea to fold here since you can’t be certain of where you’re at in the hand.

Looking at the Future - Before making any decision, you should also think about how it will affect your stack and standing in a tournament. So whether you’re folding, calling, raising or re-raising, always take a few seconds to consider how the possible outcomes will affect you afterward.

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