Not Being the Bubble Boy
Probably the worst feeling in all of poker is to end up being the bubble boy in a tournament. The bubble boy is the player who was eliminated just before the cash, and many people consider anything in the top 5 or 10 just after the cash as incredibly painful (which it is). So today, we are going to take a look at some strategy behind avoiding being the bubble boy, and making sure that you get some money back for your efforts. We’ll look at the situation from a short stack perspective, as well as a deep stack perspective. On top of that though, it’s very important to know where you stand in the tournament. So you should definitely focus on whether or not you can fold into the cash, or whether you are going to need to make a push to steal some blinds or even double up your chip stack in order to do so. Let’s get right into it.
If you are the short stack and find yourself at the bottom of the standings as you near the bubble, I have some bad news. You are unfortunately going to need to look for a good spot to get it all in. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to be patient and find a good spot to get it in, but you have to count how many big blinds you have. It’s not time to stress until you are under 10 big blinds in most situations, so just sit back and wait for a spot to get it all in when you get a big hand, or when you are on the button with a solid hand in an attempt to either take the blinds or get the double up. You unfortunately won’t be able to fold into the money, which means that a move has to be made at one point or another, and sooner than later is definitely the way to go.
If you are the deep stack at this point, you should do your best to continue to build your stack and focus on taking advantage of how tight players at the table are going to be. Everyone’s main goal early on is to make it into the cash, so if you can continue to apply pressure and take down the blinds, and even three-bet their raises to steal them then this can be an excellent move. You don’t want to do anything to risk YOUR stack though, so if you are mixed up with another massive stack then be very careful with how you are playing and don’t throw any of your chips away if you aren’t strong. Play smart as the deep stack, but most importantly remember that the table will definitely tighten up, and take note of which players are being incredibly tight so you can attempt to take blinds when they are in them!
Obviously this is a huge swing between the two styles, but it’s important to keep track of your big blinds at all times so that you know where you stand as you get close to making some money in poker tournaments!