A sporting term ‘bubble’ means to be the ‘unfortunate last one out’. When the term is applied to poker, it denotes the first spot that is paid as per the prize distribution. Therefore, if in a poker game, the prize money is distributed among the top 30 players, the 31st player is said to be “on the bubble”. Handling the bubble needs an effective strategy, which is based on whether the player is playing for cash or for winning. Since both situations are slightly different, the players need to use different techniques to play the bubble.
The chip position and bankroll play a major role in deciding the strategy to be used while playing the bubble. A player playing the tournament just for the sake of getting his bankroll better to stay afloat in the tournament would have to use a different strategy than the one having a good bankroll, playing the tournament for winning. If a player is amply stocked on the bankroll, he can take the chips from players who are staying in the game with the intention to survive. Being aggressive at this time is the order of the strategy. The player with the approach to win can raise and then re-raise the positions, with marginal holdings, as he knows that his opponents are folding their hands. Aggressive play during the bubble can enhance one’s odds of winning the game and making high profits.
However, if the stack size of a player is small, then the approach to tackle the bubble period is different. Conservative play during this play is then used by players and they play only the premium hands. The player with a small stack then relies on others to fold in first so that his position is secured. This is because the player with the small stack cannot take chances and blow up his limited stack. He needs cash to keep playing.
Things change considerably as the bubble bursts. Those players who are playing to win start calculating the chips they need to reach the table, where the final contention for the win would begin. Now that they have made the money at the bubble, they need to win the tournament. Players must concentrate on the players who are tightening up and eyeing the stacks at the adjacent tables. Players eyeing a win can remove the tightening players off with marginal hands. The strategy is to bet freely, so that they are forced to fold most of their hands, except for the premium ones.
Play becomes quite aggressive in an online bubble situation. Players with deep stacks become more aggressive while the players with small stacks start hitting the auto-fold button more frequently. The bully at the table starts raising at every hand. The strategy to play a bubble in such a situation is to go snug in the initial few levels and watch the opponents. With a good hand, you can play aggressively and start putting pressure on the blinds. Playing against the flow of the opponents is a good strategy and can bring chances of pouncing on them when they seem to lose out.
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