Texas Holdem Tournament Quiz
Playing Texas holdem tournaments requires an adjusted skill set in comparison to being a successful cash game player. Both types of games require strong overall holdem skills along with proper pot odds use and finding positive expectation situations.
But tournament players need to look at the game and some situations differently than cash game players. We've designed the following quiz questions to show some of the areas tournament play is different. This quiz is designed to not only show you the best way to handle the situations, but the answers are presented in a way to help you learn the reasoning behind the best decisions.
This way you can learn the best way to play and how to think through situations that aren't presented here. The more you learn about how solid decisions are made the faster you can start making the best decisions in every situation at the Texas holdem tables.
The poker room where you usually play is offering a guaranteed prize pool no limit Texas holdem tournament next weekend. The last time they ran one they didn't have enough entrants to cover the guarantee. When this happens it creates a positive expected value situation. Use the following information to determine the expected value. The guaranteed prize pool is $100,000 and 825 players enter with a buy in of $100 plus $10 fee. What is the positive expected value? When you finish your calculations round your answer to the nearest dollar.
- No positive expected value
You know that when you play no limit Texas holdem cash games you need to get as much money as possible into the pot when you're the favorite to win without risking so much to destroy your bankroll in the short term, but you read you have to adjust your play in tournaments because you can't replenish your stack. How do you play the following situation? You're playing in a hand after the first break with a slightly smaller than average chip stack against a player who's been at your table from the beginning. She's been playing quite aggressively and has around twice the average chip stack. You have pocket queens and your opponent has made a pre flop raise that effectively makes you pot committed if you play. The way she's been playing the odds are good that you have the best hand right now, but there's no way to know for sure. You determine that about 80% of the time you have the better hand.
- Raise all in
- Make the minimum raise
The situation is the same as in the last question, but now you have pocket aces. How should you play the hand?
- Raise all in
- Make the minimum raise
In a limit Texas holdem tournament you're involved in a hand with the ace of clubs and queen of clubs. The board has the three of clubs, eight of clubs, nine or spades, and the jack of hearts after the turn. Your single opponent has made a bet of $100 and the pot has $1,200 in it including the bet and you're sure the only way you can win is by hitting your flush. You might win if you pair one of your cards but it's doubtful. What's the correct play?
You're playing in a 10 person satellite sit and go no limit Texas holdem tournament where the winner gets an entry into a big multi table tournament and the other nine players get nothing. On the first hand you're in the big blind and have pocket kings and one player moved all in and another called. What do you do?
You're a cash game player and want to start playing some tournaments. Over the next year you plan to play in 24 tournaments with a total buy in of $24,000. How much should you set aside as a bankroll for your tournament play?
As a continuation of the last quiz question, you busted out of your first three tournaments before reaching the money and in the fourth tournament you have an average chip stack and are getting close to the money. The buy in was $1,000, and if you get into the money you win at least $2,000. If you can get to the final table you'll win at least $10,000. Six more players have to bust out before you reach the money, and with your chip stack you can easily fold until this happens, but it may put a serious dent in your stack. You face a raise from a player with a much deeper stack than you and you have pocket queens. What do you do?
- Make a standard size raise
- Move all in
You're in the same situation as in question 7, but now you have pocket aces. What do you do?
- Make a standard size raise
- Move all in
You're at the final table of a no limit Texas holdem tournament with two other players. You have 50% of the chips, one opponent has 30%, and the other has the remaining 20%. They want to chop. First place receives $10,000, second place gets $4,000, and third place receives $3,000. What should you do?
- Don't chop because you're the chip leader
- Don't chop because you never chop
- Accept $8,500
- Only chop for more than $8,500
- Accept $8,000
You're in the same situation as question 9 except you're the player with 20% of the chips. What should you do?
- Don't chop
- Accept $3,400
- Accept only $4,000 or more
- Accept less than $3,400
The way to determine the expected value is to figure out how much each player will win on average and subtract the cost to enter. 825 players are going to win a total of $100,000. This means that the average win is $121.21, which we round down to $121.
The cost to enter is $110, with $100 going to the prize pool and $10 going to the entry fee. This is where some players get tripped up. It doesn't matter how much of your cost is going to the prize pool and fees. All that matters is how much it costs to enter.
This means that the average positive expected value is $11. The average win is $121 and the entry is $110, so $121 minus $110 leaves $11.
The problem is that we know most players will leave with nothing and the ones that finish in the money win more than the average. So how does determining the positive expected value help us? You still have to finish in the money to come out ahead in any particular tournament.
If you're an average no limit holdem tournament player if you played in this tournament 100 times your average win would be $121, with an average profit of $11. So after 100 tournaments your total winnings are $12,100 and your total entry fees are $11,000 and your total profit is $1,100. But remember, this assumes you're exactly average. If you're worse than average our results will be worse, and if you're better than average your results will be better.
In business and may other areas of life people have tracked results and studied percentages and found that in almost everything like this there's something called the 80 / 20 rule. It's written and interpreted in a few different ways, but it basically says that 80% of the profit is won by 20% of the players. This holds close to true in Texas holdem tournaments as well.
We're not talking about individual tournaments, because most of them pay out to around 10% of the field. What we mean is over the long term results of millions of tournaments.
You need to accomplish three things in order to be a successful Texas holdem tournament player. The first thing is to work, study, and learn enough to be at least an average player. As an average player if you can find enough tournaments offering an overlay like the one in this quiz question you can be profitable.
The next step is to become above average. As you improve you can start showing a profit playing in tournaments that don't have an overlay. The more you improve your game the more you win in the long run.
The final step is to figure out how to be in the 20% that wins 80% of the long term profit. This is where the real money is made by professional tournament players and it's not an easy journey.
This situation needs to be considered from two different aspects. On one hand doubling up at this point in the tournament can put you in a good position as far as the size of your stack. But on the other hand, are you willing to risk your tournament life on what you're guessing is an 80% chance of winning when you're not in a situation where you're so short stacked that you're in immediate danger?
Before we continue discussing the two aspects listed above, let's consider the best way to play the hand if you decide to enter the pot. If you call and your opponent moves all in after the flop what are you going to do? This puts you in a bad situation so it should be avoided.
This leaves the option to make a minimum raise or move all in. The key in this situation is the fact that you're basically pot committed if you play. This means your best play is to push all in if you decide to play.
When you move all in the pressure is back on your opponent and you can win if they fold or by winning at the show down if they call. The only hands that dominate you are pocket aces and pocket kings. You're roughly 50 / 50 against ace king and a favorite over every other hand, even the ones with an ace and weak off card.
The real question you need to answer is if you're willing to play all out with any edge or want to wait for a better time to try to increase your stack. Because of this, the correct quiz answer depends on your tournament philosophy. You can either fold and wait for a better spot or move all in. Here's the argument for both options.
An 80% edge is strong and is one you try to take advantage of every time in a cash game. But in a tournament if you get all in with an 80% chance to win many times the odds turn against you.
- All in one time at 80% you have an 80% chance of surviving
- All in two times at 80% you have a 64% chance of surviving
- All in three times at 80% you have a 51% chance of surviving
- All in four times at 80% you have a 41% chance of surviving
- All in five times at 80% you have a 33% chance of surviving
As you can see, even with a huge advantage, if you get all in too many times you'll be in danger of busting out. Doing it three times basically makes it a 50 / 50 shot at survival, and five times you're only going to still be in the tournament a third of the time.
It's much better to be in a position where you can play with these advantages without being forced to go all in. Against a smaller stack this is an easier situation because if the hand goes against your favored odds you're still in the tournament.
If you fold in this situation you still have plenty of chips and you can look for a better situation where you either have a better hand or can be the aggressor instead of playing against the aggressor. Or you can find a position where your opponent has a smaller stack than you to take a risk.
The same arguments made in the last quiz answer can be made here, but if you're a Texas holdem player you need to play the best starting hand in the game aggressively every time you have it. If you can't play pocket aces you should probably find a different profession.
The fact is that you'll occasionally lose with pocket aces and if you get all in enough times against any hand you can get knocked out, but you have to try to double up when you have the chance so hopefully next time you won't have to play for all of your chips.
After you decide to play the hand the decision comes down to calling, raising a standard amount, or moving all in.
You want to play the hand heads up against the aggressor if possible so calling is a poor choice.
Once you decide to raise you need to decide between a standard raise or moving all in. In the situation where any raise makes you pot committed it's almost always better to move all in. Sometimes when you move all in your opponent will fold, but a fold wins you their raise with no chance of being drawn out on. And when they call you got all of your money in with a strong advantage.
As a limit Texas holdem player it doesn't matter if you play cash games or tournaments. All of your decisions need to be made based on the proper odds and in this case the proper pot odds. The way you win in the long run as a limit holdem player in any situation is to make more mathematically correct plays than incorrect ones.
In this situation all you need to do is determine the odds of you hitting your flush or the river and compare them to the return the pot is offering. The pot is offering 12 to 1 pay out odds based on the pot size of $1,200 against the cost of your call of $100.
You can determine your odds of hitting the flush by looking it up in a chart or comparing your outs to the remaining cards. You have a 4.11 to 1 chance of hitting your flush, making this a clear call.
This is determined by having nine outs out of 46 unseen cards. Written a different way, you have nine cards that help you and 37 that don't. 37 divided by nine is 4.11.
Yet another way to look at this situation is if you put $100 in the pot 46 times your total investment is $4,600. The nine times you win you get back $11,700, so in the long run you come out well ahead. This is a positive expectation situation that you must take advantage of at every opportunity.
You don't raise in this situation because you're behind in the hand.
In a situation where you have to either win the entire tournament or bust out you need to figure out how to win all of the chips on the table by the end of the tournament. One way to do this is to push the edge when you have it so you can build a large stack and bully the small stacks.
In this situation there's a small chance one of your opponents has pocket aces, but it's more likely that you have the best hand. Sometimes the action is wild early in these types of satellite tournaments because players either want to double up early to improve their chances or bust out quickly instead of wasting hours to only bust out in second or third place.
You'll see players with small and medium pairs taking huge chances early, even aces with a suited off card playing aggressively.
While the few times one of your opponents happen to have pocket aces, it'll suck, but at least you didn't waste much time in the tournament.
Many players instantly think that the answer has something to do with how good you are at playing tournament Texas holdem. While it's important to be a good player, the truth of tournament play is even the best players can miss the money for several straight tournaments.
The purpose of your bankroll is to use it like an investment portfolio. It allows you to enter situations where you hope to be profitable. If you lose your bankroll you can no longer invest it, so it must be protected as much as possible.
You also have a psychological side of the size of your bankroll in comparison to the stakes of the game you play. The best bankroll is one that's large enough that you never have to worry about it while you're playing. If you start worrying about your bankroll while trying to make smart playing decisions at the table you're in danger of making too many mistakes.
With this amount you know you can play in all of the tournaments and not worry about your next buy in.
The truth is, if you're a winning Texas holdem player you should be able to get by with a smaller bankroll up front. If you play in 12 tournaments and don't finish in the money in any of them you need to take a step back and honestly evaluate your abilities.
This means that if you want to start with $12,000 set aside it's probably acceptable, but we don't recommend starting with less.
The best thing about most tournaments is if you make the final table you win enough to cover the entry into man y more tournaments. When you're able to win a medium or larger tournament it can create a situation where you have plenty of profit to take out plus a healthy bankroll for a long time.
The fact that you busted out of your first three tournaments doesn't have anything to do with your decision in this situation. You've both been playing solid poker and making good decisions, or you haven't.
Big stacks have a tendency to bully the table when the bubble is close, but pocket queens aren't strong enough to gamble with when you're guaranteed to finish in the money.
If you get all in here pocket aces and kings are strong favorites, ace king is a toss up, and any hand with an ace or king can draw out on you. It's simply not worth the risk.
Once you make the money you need to quickly look for a hand that gives you a chance to double up before you get too short stacked. Other players have the same idea when they reach the money, so keep this in mind.
This is where things become harder to figure out. This is also the only place where you should ever consider folding pocket aces before the flop.
If you remember the answer to one of the earlier quiz questions, we talked about the need to build a chip stack in order to have a good chance to win the tournament. This is a situation where you stand a good chance to double up or at least win your opponent's raise.
Most of the time your opponents will all fold and you'll win the blinds and the raise from the deep stack. When the deep stack calls you'll double up most of the time, giving you a stack that's twice the average, putting you in good position to reach the final table.
This is a situation that can be looked at from a positive expectation calculation like most holdem situations. It's not a clear calculation in this example because you don't have all of the information, but here's how you need to look at it.
If you sneak into the money you win $2,000, and if you reach the final table you win at least $10,000. This is five times minimum what you win for sneaking in. If doubling up in this situation increases your chance to reach the final table five times or more over your chances of busting out you've found a positive expectation situation.
This is almost always going to be the case in this situation because of how small your chances of losing with pocket aces is in comparison to doubling your stack size from average to twice the average. When you include the many times your opponent folds, giving you their raise with no chance of losing, and the bet mathematical play is going to be raising all in.
But with all of that being said, if you decide making the money is more important to you in this situation than taking the chance to double up, it's fine. Never follow the advice of anyone without thinking it through and making sure it's the best way to play for you.
This type of decision can also be tied back to the question about how much you should have set aside for your tournament bankroll. If you know you have enough to buy into the next 20 tournaments it's not as important to sneak into the cash in this one. You can play to win the entire tournament instead of playing too cautiously on the bubble.
Of course the same argument can be made for the answer to the last quiz question with pocket queens, but you aren't always a favorite like with pocket aces. This is a big enough difference to change the all in move to a fold with the queens.
Chopping creates a situation that many poker players aren't comfortable with and / or don't know how to figure out in what seems like a fair manner. This is one reason many players refuse to chop.
But some players refuse to chop for other reasons. If you're a better player than the other players, it costs you money in the long run to chop. As a better player you'll win more often than a lesser player and most chops are done based on the size of your stack and the total prize money.
In this quiz question, the total prize money is $17,000 and you have 50% of the chips, so most chops will start at $8,500 for you. Only you can decide if this is a good deal or not, but don't let the other players pressure you into doing something that you aren't comfortable with.
The problem with the situation you're in is if either player is able to double up through you the game has a new chip leader. This can happen on any hand, so things can change quickly. So if you don't chop you take a chance of losing money. In some situations you could even consider accepting $8,000, but our suggestion is try to negotiate more.
This may seem like the opposite advice than you just read in question nine, but as the smaller stack you should only chop if you get more than the average based on your stack.
You're guaranteed $3,000 and you win more if one of your two opponents busts out before you do. And if you double up a single time your situation greatly improves. The big stack is in the most danger and you're in the least danger in this situation.
When this is the case you need to stand firm and accept nothing less than the second place money. Be warned though, this won't be popular with the other two players. The good news is that Texas holdem isn't a popularity contest.
When they ask you what you think the other amounts should be, simply tell them that the only thing that matters to you is your $4,000. Tell them they can do whatever they want with the rest.
You'll also occasionally run into someone who has some wild formula to determine what they think is a fair chop. In most cases the only player the formula is fair to is them.
You should have a plan for a possible chop before it comes up. If you're willing to consider a chop try to have an idea of what you're willing to accept so you're not caught by surprise.
Texas holdem tournaments remain popular because most of the coverage on television focuses on no limit play. But most tables in poker rooms are filled with cash game players. Use the quiz questions on this page to help you see if you're ready to make the switch from cash games to tournaments.
Make sure you read through the answers until you recognize the reasoning behind the best plays. It's just as important to understand the thought process behind making the best plays as it is to make the best plays. By learning how to make decisions you don't have to rely on others to make them for you.
The best Texas holdem tournament players learn how to find the best options in almost any situation. Use this quiz to help you do the same.