This week : Exploit the money bubble

The 'money bubble' is the point in a tournament when there are only a few players before the rest of the field gets paid. Suppose 20 places get paid in a tournament with 250 players. Once you are down to 25 or 30 players you will notice everyone is suddenly playing a lot tighter. People will not call raises so often and weak players will not even raise anymore themselves but just limp in, trying to see a cheap flop. This is the perfect time for you to acquire a lot of chips. The theory you should keep in the back of your head is that you are not trying to 'squeeze into the money', but you want to make the final table where the real money is. If you are short on chips, do not be afraid to get it all in when you have a decent hand. If you have a decent stack of 20 big blinds or more you should be raising any hand when you are in late position and it gets folded around to you. If you get re-raised you can be sure you are beat (because you are raising with trash) and can just fold, but you will see that most players will just fold, trying to survive and make the money. If you get called it's certainly not all bad, because you are in position. Now if the flop comes all low cards and the caller checks to you, it's extremely likely that they will fold to a continuation bet on the flop so you win an even bigger pot. Because it is late in the tournament there are likely also antes added to the blinds, so each pot you grab will be pretty big and will help you reach the final table with a nice stack. Keep a close eye on the number of players left, because as soon as the bubble 'breaks' the strategy turns around 180 degrees ! All the short stacks will stop trying to hold on and move in with any decent hand, so make sure you are now raising with a hand that can call the re-raise from these players. Once most of the really short stacks are gone, you can start raising with a wider range of hands again as the battle for the final table is a kind of bubble again (the final table bubble) that you should exploit. Do not be afraid to raise on the cut-off or the button with any 2 cards, just remember you are trying to build a stack to give yourself the best chance on the final table.

Example hand :

Imagine it's late in a Poker freeroll and you have a stack of 35000 chips. There are 25 players left and 20 will get paid, but only the top 3 will make any decent amount of money. The blinds are 500/1000 so you have 35 big blinds. Most of the players at your table have a stack of 10 to 20 big blinds. You are one seat before the button (the cut-off) and the players to your left each have about 20 big blinds left. It is folded around to you and at this point it really doesn't matter what your 2 cards are, you HAVE to make a standard raise here of around 3 big blinds. You hold 5s8d and make it 2800 to go, the button and the small blind fold but this time the big blind decides he's not giving up and makes the call with Ad6h. Now the flop comes 7h10s2d and of course the big blind checks here because he completely missed. You bet 3500 (about half the pot) and now he folds and you win a pretty decent pot. Remember your opponent will only connect to the flop about 30% of the time and even then he still might not feel confident enough to continue with the hand and he will rather fold and try and make the money. If the flop was 6d10sKh, he might still check fold with bottom pair and give the pot to you.

We hope you've enjoyed this strategy article. Stay tuned for next week's article where we will be discussing : How to play pocket kings