When Playing Scared is Right

One of the worst things you can do in poker is play scared.  When playing scared, you aren’t aggressive at all, you avoid making risky plays that could earn lots of chips, and you give the advantage to other players at the table.  In short, playing scared is the opposite of how a good rounder plays.

Most people know not to play scared since this is the worst way to play.  But despite knowing this, many people will still play really tight when it comes down to the tournament bubble.  These people don’t want to have all of their time wasted in the form of a non-money finish, and so they fold everything until cashing.

The problem with this though is that you aren’t playing to win by folding everything.  You are merely playing to survive and only playing to survive is a sure sign of a losing poker player.  Plus, the bubble represents a great time to take advantage of other players because they’ll also be playing very tight. 

However, playing scared can work to your advantage in certain situations.  One of these situations is when you’re in line to make the kind of money which could change your career.  For instance, if you satellited into the WSOP Main Event and were sitting on the verge of a $21,000 cash, folding everything in an attempt to sneak into the money would be acceptable - especially if you only play small buy-in tourneys.

One more instance where playing scared is the right way is when you’re in a satellite tournament.  The reason why is because satellite tournaments give the same prize to whoever finishes “in the money”.  For instance, if the satellite you’re playing offers WPT prize packages to the top 5 players, finishing in 5th place is the same as finishing in 1st.  So the obvious goal is simply to finish among the top 5 and playing scared to make it here is alright.