How Much Do You Actually Know About Tournament Poker Strategy?

Ready to test your tournament strategy knowledge?

Here’s a quiz with 10 questions adapted from Upswing content. When you get a question correct, make a note and share your total score at the end!

Question #1. True or False: The impact of ICM when on a final table bubble is significant and you should generally play tighter as a result

(Click “Show” when you’re ready for the answer.)

Answer: False

Generally, the pay jumps from 10th to 7th place are not significant enough for ICM to be of great concern when on a final table bubble.

Playing tight on the final table bubble will often times result in disappointing 9th, 8th or 7th place finishes. Aggressive play will get you to the top 3 — where the big money is awarded — more often.

For more on final table bubble strategy, check out There’s Big Money to Be Made on the Final Table Bubble.


Question #2. True or False: It’s best to stick with your standard opening range from the button when you’re certain that one (or both) of the players in the blinds is weak/passive

Answer: False

Against some opponents, it’s correct to loosen up significantly from the button. Your hands realize more equity when players under-defend their blinds and play poorly post-flop. Conversely, against stronger opponents you should tighten up your opening range, and increase your sizing to discourage calls.

Learn more about open-raise sizings with How to Open-Raise In MTTs So the Big Blind Doesn’t Crush Your Soul.


Question #3. Consider the following hand from a Super Knockout Bounty Tournament (50% of the buy-in is allocated to the bounty pool), with 5,000-chip starting stacks.

9-handed MTT. Blinds 500/1000/100.

Hero is in the BB
folds to sb. SB raises to 13,000 all-in.

How much does the Small Blind’s bounty add to the pot (expressed in chips)?

Answer: 5,000 chips

Since the initial buy-in is divided equally between the prize pool and the bounty pool, each bounty is worth exactly one starting stack.


Question #4. Considering the same example from question 3, how much equity is needed to profitably call the Small Blind’s shove?

A. 37.6%
B. 44.6%

Answer: A. 37.6%

To calculate how much equity is needed to call, divide the amount to call by the total pot size (including the call): 12,000 to call / (13,000 shove + 1,900 dead money + 5,000 bounty value + 12,000 call).

For an in-depth explanation of bounty tournament math and strategy, check out the article Stop Punting Away Your Equity In Knockout Tournaments.


Question #5. True or False: You should never call a raise from the Big Blind with a stack under 8BBs.

Answer: False

The idea that you must either shove or fold with a short stack is misguided. Often you’ll get the right price to call a raise in the Big Blind, even if you’re short-stacked (6–15 BBs). In those spots your hand will be slightly too weak to shove, but too strong to fold.

If you aren’t sure how to proceed post-flop in these spots, check out How to Combat Steals with a Tiny Stack.


Question #6. Consider the following hand

9-handed MTT. Blinds 500/1000/100. 38,000 Effective Stacks.

Hero is in the Big Blind
folds to btn. BTN raises to 2200. sb folds. Hero…

Which hand should you 3-bet from the Big Blind most often?

A. A2o
B. 32s
C. 96o

Answer: B. 32s

Many MTT regulars don’t expect to face a 3-bet bluff when the Big Blind is getting such a good price to call. In other words, it’s hard to imagine what hands a player is 3-betting as a bluff when they can profitably call with such a wide range.

As the Big Blind, the trick is to choose hands that have playability post-flop (connected and sometimes suited hands), but are easy to fold when the button 4-bets. 32s fits those criteria. It has great playability, and little equity versus a button 4-bet range.

Neither A2o or 96o are easy to play post-flop in a bloated 3-bet pot, and they can be played profitably as calls.

For a super in-depth explanation of big blind play, check out The Ultimate Guide to Big Blind Defense.


Question #7. True or False: With deep stacks and no antes, you should 3-bet like you would in a cash game.

Answer: True

With deeper stacks, your opponents have more incentive to continue against your 3-bets, which can in turn lead to tough situations post-flop. Consequently, your 3-bet range should be more polarized. Remove hands like Q-Jo, A-To, etc., to avoid losing big pots to dominating hands.

For more on this (and 6 other tournament tips), check out 7 Tournament Tips for Running Deep More Often.


Question #8. Consider the following scenario

$1,100 Live MTT. Blinds 500/1000/100.

Reads: UTG+1(60BB stack) is very tight preflop and a calling station postflop. Estimated age is around 50 and he appears to be a recreational player from the local area

Hero is dealt 5s-spades-new-cards5d-diamonds-new-cards in the BB
utg folds. UTG+1 raises to 3000. folds to bb. Hero calls.

Flop (Pot: 7400): ah-hearts-new-cards8c-clubs-new-cards5h-hearts-hearts-new-cards
Hero checks. UTG+1 bets 6000. Hero…

Facing this opponent’s c-bet, which is the best option?

A. Call
B. Check-raise
C. Fold

Answer: B. Check-raise

The theoretically correct answer would be to call. This is because check-raising a set means the top of your calling range very likely contains only pairs of aces. This can be exploited by more competent opponents.

However, against this opponent in this situation, the exploitative play is probably the correct one. He’s unlikely to bluff later streets and likely to check back scary turns and rivers. So, we’re more likely to win a big pot by check-raising early in the hand.

If you said Fold, I think you may have misread the question.

For more on the nuances of live poker tournaments, check out How to Crush Live Tournaments as an Online Player.


Question #9. Suppose that you’re on an upswing playing $5 and $11 buy-in tournaments. You decide to take a shot at a $26 tournament. Which field size should you choose to minimize variance?

A. 100

Answer: A. 100

More players means more variance.

Playing tournaments with too many players is one of the 4 Dumbest Career-Ending Mistakes Tournament Players Make.


Question #10. Consider the following hand.

9-handed MTT. Blinds 200/400/50. 16,000 Effective Stacks.

Hero is in the CO
folds to co. Hero raises to 900. 2 folds. BB calls.

Flop (Pot: 2450): td-diamonds-new-cards8s-spades-new-cards6c-clubs-new-cards
BB checks. Hero…

Which hand should we c-bet most often

A. kd-diamonds-new-cardsqd-diamonds-new-cards

B. ad-diamonds-new-cardskd-diamonds-new-cards

C. qd-diamonds-new-cardsjd-diamonds-new-cards

Answer: C. qd-diamonds-new-cardsjd-diamonds-new-cards

On this board, the Big Blind has the advantage when it comes to super strong hands. His range contains many two-pair and straight combinations that we cannot have. Also, he is unlikely to fold to a single bet because the a lot of his range connects with this board.

With a flopped gut-shot, QJ has decent equity when called and we can continue to barrel on most turns—especially when we pick up a flush draw. On the other hand, we have to give up with AKs and KQs on most turns.

This concept is covered in 7 Tournament Tips for Running Deep More Often.

How many questions did you answer correctly?

Please let us know in the comments below!

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Note: Level up your tournament poker game right away, satisfaction guaranteed in the Tournament Master Class. Learn more now!

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