Playing Safe in Poker: A Boring Game or A Strong Tactic?

There are a lot of theories out there about what makes a good poker player, but not so much on what makes an entertaining poker player. Are the two one in the same? That depends on your outlook.

It’s possible that that question comes down more to marketing. You could be the worst poker player ever, but the personality you exude while you’re at the table might be enough for you to be considered entertaining.

But what about the poker playing itself? Does safe poker playing equate to boring entertainment? This is a problem that professional poker players might have to grapple with, as they enter tournaments and stream their professional playing for the sake of an audience. Is there going to be an audience if their style of winning has no thrills? We explore in this guide.

What is the safe approach?

Depending on your definition of “safe”, when it comes to styles of playing the safe approach is probably some combination of tight and passive playing or tight aggressive playing. To be tight means you are careful with your bets, but a passive player will need to feel secure before playing their hands, will limp preflop and check and call a lot after the flop.

An aggressive player on the other hand will play aggressively when they have a hand they like. This is considered the superior of the style combinations for both player and producer. A tight aggressive player is more likely to succeed in their game, which in itself makes for good entertainment, but it also lacks the drawbacks of playing tight passive: which is the possibility that you might not play at all.

So, you can see where two different ideas of “safe” emerge. There is a better way to play, which is proven to see more winnings, but there is also more risk to the style.

But, as the old adage goes, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”. Sometimes you need to take a risk to progress, and poker is definitely an instance where this is the case.

Is it what’s best for a good poker show?

Of course, if you are someone like Mr. Daniel Negreanu, or any other member of the GGTeam on GGPoker (, winning the game and therefore the money is going to be simply the main priority at the poker table. Streamers are also looking to put on a good show, and so will welcome any loose playing, any high stakes bluffs, and any other risky moves that will make for the tension in the room reaching boiling point.

And the same goes for the producers and crew behind the World Series of Poker. It isn’t hard to find the tension rising as the games go on, because, as the biggest poker tournament in the world, the WSOP is a melting pot of different poker styles and formidable foes, but if you were to find yourself at the tables amongst the best of the best, a good strategy would be to play it safe. Let the producers worry about what makes a good game, and there will be plenty of other players to pick up the entertainment slack.

Besides, is there anything more entertaining than winning a massive pot?

If you are a streamer, and you can make your playing style entertaining without outside influences, by offering glittering commentary, strategy breakdowns, advice and humour, your audiences might not even notice that you have been keeping your playing style safe.

It ultimately comes down to what is making you win. If the safe approach isn’t helping you win, it also isn’t entertaining, well, that’s a lose-lose situation, and you’ll need to shake things up to make a positive change. 

Written by Austin Crane

Austin is the principle web director for Untamed Science and Stone Age Man. He is also the web-director of the series for the High School biology, Middle Grades Science and Elementary Science content. When Austin isn't making amazing content for the web, he's out on his mountain bike or in a canoe.

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