Likewise, while the money bubble may not carry with it some of the additional ego-boosting perks that come along with final tabling, it is still a significant money jump none the less, and in a tournament like the Sunday Million, this will be tangible to many players.
Let's use a recent SCOOP $215 buy-in Sunday Million Edition event as an example. In this tournament, there were 6632 entrants and the tournament paid 943 places. The pay jump between 944th and 943rd was $448.72. Let's start by identifying a few player types and how they may view this money bubble, then talk about how you can adjust to it yourself.
The Professional or other solid winning playersWhile these players are well bankrolled for the event, they also understand ICM implications of a pay jump from $0 to $448, and will adjust to this bubble according to the chips stacks and what they see opponents doing. If they are really short, like 3 big blinds, they will likely be very tight in an effort to secure $448 before putting their tiny stack at risk. Should they get all in and double up, they will still be very short stacked and their chances to run deep are not enhanced much, certainly not a risk/reward ratio commensurate with their zero payouts should they bust on the bubble. With more chips, they will likely be looking to exploit other players who seem desperate to min cash and are overfolding (playing way too tight) as a result.
The casual or fun playerThis player likely places extra importance on simply cashing. Telling their family and friends they cashed the Sunday Million is desirable for them. While they may still be willing to play hands on the bubble, any confrontation that would put their entire stack at risk will likely be shied away from.
The micro stakes playerWith the numerous micro stake buy in satellites to the Sunday Million that are available, there will be players in the field who are micro players taking their shot. For a player who normally plays $2 and lower buy-ins, and has $57.24 in their account, a $448 min-cash is a tangible bankroll event. Now that they are here, on the verge of realizing this windfall, you can expect them to avoid any and all risk to falling short of grabbing the cash.
How can you tell who is who? Without knowledge of what buy-ins your opponents normally play, there is a tool in the PokerStars client that may be helpful. From the PokerStars lobby, select Tools, Find…, A Player, and type in their screen name. If you find:
- Someone is playing 3 other tables of buy-in $5 and lower: Micro stakes player
- Someone is only playing the Sunday Million, 1 tabling: Probable Casual/Fun player
- Someone is playing 8 tables with buy-ins of $20+: Pro/reg
- Someone has their player search blocked: Most likely a reg
The final table bubble, while it has the same concepts at play, does have distinct differences from the money bubble as well:
- Players are no longer faced with the proposition of "going home empty", as a significant score has already been achieved.
- The composition of players will likely be stronger, i.e. more pro/reg heavy.
- Play is shorthanded, with 2 tables playing down to 5 players each until the eventual 9 handed final table is reached.
Understanding bubble play and when to attack is an integral part of a successful tournament strategy. Strong players well versed in this can chip up nicely at these points of the tournament, while less savvy players will decrease their stack and equity in the event either by folding too frequently or making silly ICM plays that cost them real money. Be ready, stay calm and focused on the situation, and exploit it when possible to maximize your value, and you're that much more likely to have a successful tournament.
Share them below!