Is there a rule of thumb to decide when you should stop playing a tournament if you just want to be in the money and don't care about winning?

It's clear that if there are 110 players left, 100 paid position and you are 50, you'll be in the money if you stop playing. So, I'm interested in less clear cases. Would you stop playing at position 80, 100 places paid and 120 remaining? The idea being that for you to drop 20 places, 20 players would need to beat 20 players, who would necessarily lose all their chips.

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    I wouldn't stop playing at all. What's to say those 20 players needing to bust before you're in the money don't and you just get blinded out? I feel it's kinda silly to just stop playing. Sure play extra tight, but to just stop playing seems like a way for you to guarantee missing value and putting pressure on to ensure you do cash.
    – Grinch91
    Nov 21, 2022 at 13:48

2 Answers 2


It's clear that if there are 110 players left, 100 paid position and you are 50, you'll be in the money if you stop playing.

It's not. This statement actually makes less sense the more you think about it. The premise, of course, is that the tournament structure forces players to go up against each other if they want to win - which implies, of course, that they need to prevent themselves from going bust, and so need to be more cautious when they are no longer deep-stacked.

This leads to pretty aggressive play such as bluffing all in pre-flop with hands that the player is not entirely confident on, just for a chance to steal the blinds; Depending on the tournament structure, just because you feel safe and can afford to lose a few times to pre-flop all in bluffs doesn't mean you'll take the chance, especially when you know you only need to wait for 10 players to get knocked out to be in the money. Why take the risk instead of letting someone else do it for you?

That's called the bubble factor - People who want to win, and thus to them the value of their chips is to bring it to the final table and win there (more than to be in the money), will reduce the amount of all ins and all in calls with their range approaching premium hands as the blinds increase to introduce more short-stacked decisions around the table. That means it's up to you to call when you have the hands good enough to call all ins on head-ups when every other player who don't want to risk it will fold - so the eliminations that should happen will happen and the two players who have seen plenty of good hands from each other could fold just out of respect when they are winning, if money pressure gets to them.

There's another point to make, that temporary standings represent your position and tells you whether you're doing a good job, but it doesn't tell you how safe you are. Being in the middle in the standings sound like you're in the median, but in reality while you are above as many people as the amount of people over you, it doesn't say your stack: Do you have only as many chips as the average player? If so you can easily get wiped out in a turbo tournament structure. You can be double average stack being ranked 50 out of 110 remaining players but it would also mean there are players with triple the average stack.


Why would you join a tournament if you don't want to win in the first place?

Try to win not to ITM

I think if you try to be ITM(In the money) and don't try to win the tournament you will loose a lot in value if you play a lot of tournaments. Most of the money is in the top 3 spots either way the rest can be scraps compared to the buy-in. But again this depends on the dynamics explained below.

Dynamics are important

Loosing blinds by not playing and eventually being bust because people don't get bust themselves is a real thing.


There are lots of factor you should look into.

How long are the blinds?

If blinds go up very quickly then folding to hope to ITM is suicide.

How many BB(Big Blinds) people have?

If everyone has between 1-20 BB it's also not a good idea to fold. Even though you say you're 50th position it does not imply you have lots of BB left.

How aggressive are people overall in the tournament

If people playing there are a bunch of maniacs and gamblers, you can maybe decide the fold approach if the money in ITM is such a big deal for you.

But again i would prefer the approach of calling them with more marginal hands and gambling to potentially reach top 3 spot.


I was playing part of a competition where we would play for 1 year and played tournaments every month. Players would get points based on their position and each tournament money was still part of the equation.

Winning the competition would give you only a cup no money it was more for the prestige.

In this specific case because i wanted to reach higher in ranking folding to reach higher in score was worth it especially when you know the scores of others and they are already busted.

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