Taking Educated Risks

In poker sometimes you have to take risks. Educated risks. Sometimes the risk pays off and you win a big hand and other times it doesn’t work out for you and you bust at the tables. It is Important to know when you should take an educated risk at the tables.

Generally I take educated risks if my tournament life in an MTT is low or if I have a history with a player and have a good read on a player which is why it’s also important to take notes on players for future reference. When my chip stack is low in an MTT I will calculate how many Big Blinds I have and if I have 10 Big Blinds or less I’m looking for hands to go all-in with. These hands range from almost any pocket pair to AK,AQ,AJ A10, KQ, KJ… etc.

In regards to having a history with other players I try to recognize a pattern in my opponents playing style and I decide my action based on that. For example lets say I’m in a heads up game and my opponent hasn’t been betting often. I’ll sometimes bluff with nothing and bet 2 or 3 times the big blind in hopes that I’ll win the hand and pick up some chips. If my opponent has been betting every hand I’ll tighten up my playing style and wait till I get a premium hand and will try to let him lead the betting because If I make a big bet preflop my opponent will probably suspect I have a good hand and will most likely fold. If I’m low on blinds I have no choice but to go all in and hope that he calls and my cards hold up.

I always consider the risk and reward whenever I play a hand. Sometimes the decision is easy to make and other times it’s not. Sometimes the risk pays off and sometimes it doesn’t.

How often do you take risks in poker and what do you consider before taking those risks?



In Freerolls, I’m ALWAYS aware of how many players are left before the money. I do NOT want to go out 31st if they’re paying 30, for example. We don’t call it “worst out” for nothing.


I was “Bubble Girl” through many tournaments until I learned to watch the number of players remaining. Now I can usually get past the bubble (but still working on winning!).


Short-format games are high variance. As much as people love to limp and see if they smash flops, people who crush turbo games take calculated risks. Higher bust out rates but higher winrates as well. I don’t think many people are taking nearly the amount of risk as they should be though. For example, if you have 3 people limp and you wake up with 88+ (or KJo…) on the BTN on a 12bb stack, you should just rip it in in most cases (when everyone is deep enough to still fold). Some might say “but if I’m called, I’m flipping for my tournament life”. Yes, but the overlay of the dead money makes that flip more than positive, and there is a chance you won’t get called at all. With this player pool, people are going to call you with A2-A7 and you are thrilled when this happens after you shove 88.

Understanding the actual risks/rewards will show a lot of plays that initially seem risky are actually hugely EV+. If you can get 25% folds and if called you’re in a flipping situation with a huge overlay, you cannot afford to miss that opportunity.

Get comfortable busting out when going for it rather than blinding out in a slow death waiting for the perfect spot. Remember, ALL OF THE MONEY in tournament poker comes from the equation of adding your %fold equity with the %equity in the pot when you are called. In games where the prize pool is heavily weighted towards the top 3%, you must go for the deep run/win more than being concerned with min-cashing.