Texas Hold’em Tournament Bubble Strategy
There aren’t too many things more frustrating in tournament poker than just missing out on the money. Nobody wants to bust out “on the bubble” and walk away empty-handed after hours – maybe even days – of hard work. You won’t find this dynamic when you’re playing cash poker at Bovada, but every single tournament you’ll ever play will have a bubble, and knowing how to take advantage is extremely important.
It isn’t just about survival, either. Sometimes, you’ll have a short stack when the bubble approaches; other times, you’ll have a mountain of chips on the table. Your poker strategy will change depending on the size of your stack; here are some tips to help you make the most out of this high-pressure situation, depending on how many chips you have in front of you.
It’s obviously not great to be short of chips at the bubble. Unless there’s someone shorter than you who’s on the verge of getting blinded out, go ahead and push once you’re in a decent-enough spot. Be the first one in, and if you can, try to steal the blinds from another short-stacker. They’ll be more likely to keep things tight and fold.
In this situation, you certainly don’t want to tangle with the larger stacks and risk going out, but at the same time, you have the opportunity to take advantage of the smaller stacks. Target these players when they’re in the blinds, and be prepared to fold marginal hands if they show any resistance.
This is where far too many players get greedy and start using their stack as a cudgel. If you can steal the blinds from short- and medium-stacked opponents, fine, but don’t call off a short player’s push just because you have them covered and losing the hand won’t hurt you much. The chips you win from medium stacks are worth more to you in this case – keep that bubble alive so you can take advantage of this dynamic for as long as possible.
In addition to the ITM (In The Money) bubble, there are other bubble-like situations that come up in poker. Many players attach meaning to reaching the final table, and play tighter hoping to unlock this achievement. This also happens at live tournaments when you’re nearing the end of Day 1 or Day 2, or any other significant Day. Use the same approach that you would at the ITM bubble, based on your knowledge of the players involved, and gather up as many chips as you can, while you can.