Tournament Poker Quiz: Avoid or Embrace the Risk?

Mitchell CogertContributor IJanuary 4, 2010

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In my last article, I reviewed the importance of playing to win a poker tournament and not to survive, and how that thinking changes your strategy.  Here are three simple poker quizzes to help illustrate this point.

Poker Quiz #1

You have the As-Kd.   You raise pre-flop and only the player in the big blind calls.

The flop is a 9c-5s-2h.  The big blind checks.  What should you do?

a) Check since your hand did not improve on the flop. 

b) Bet.


Poker Quiz #2

A player raises pre-flop and you call with pocket 2’s.

The flop is a Jc-6s-4h.  Your opponent checks.  What should you do?

a) Check since your hand did not improve on the flop.

b) Bet.


Poker Quiz #3

One player limps into the pot.  You are in the big blind and get to see the flop for free with the worst starting hand in poker 7s-2h.

The flop is As-8h-5c.  You check and your opponent checks. 

The turn is a 5h.  What should you do?

a) Check since your hand did not improve.

b) Bet.


The answer in all of these situations is to bet.  It doesn’t matter if your hand improved or not.  You have one opponent who has shown weakness by checking his hand on the flop.  Just bet.  Just do it.  The worse that can happen is that you lose your bet.

Granted, there are many other factors to consider when deciding to make a bet in these situations (table image, stack sizes, blinds, position, how coordinated the flop is, etc.).  However, I want you to start thinking about the importance of accumulating chips and taking risks, albeit small ones in the above situations.

In one of my favorite poker books, Making the Final Table , the author and poker pro Erick Lindgren stated:

"You want to be a great poker player? Stop thinking you're better than the randomness of the game. Embrace the randomness. Let people think you're a wild risk taker. And start taking advantage of those afraid to risk their own chips."

You must embrace the risk in tournament poker in order to win. Want more proof?

One of the most criticized plays in the main event of the WSOP last year was when Joe Cada moved all-in at the final table with his pocket threes against his opponent’s pocket Jacks.  Cada hit a set on the flop winning a huge pot that helped him to eventually win the main event and over $8.5 million.