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When to Shove
We have seen in the previous article about bubble play how your strategy should change during this crucial period in any single table tournament (STT).

You need to know exactly what hands you should be getting involved with, and what you should do when the action is on you.

The following charts show the kind of hands you will need to make certain plays during this period. They take into account your stack size and the stacks around the table, as well as your position.

Stack sizes are measured in comparison with the big blind, so a stack described as "6BB" is six times the big blind. Remember the hand categories used in these charts are defined in the Introduction to STTs article. 

CORRECT ALL IN PUSHES

If you are thinking of getting your whole stack into the pot, here are the hands you will need to make a call:

Your position You are the biggest unfolded stack An active player has a bigger stack
Cut-off Category 8 Category 5
Button or small blind Category 8 Category 6
     

CORRECT CALLING OF AN ALL IN AS A MEDIUM STACK

If a player has moved all in ahead of you, and you have a medium stack, here are the hands you will need:

Pusher's stack size 10BB 8BB 6BB 4BB 2BB
In the big blind Category 1 Category 2 Category 3 Category 4 Category 5
Any other position Category 1 Category 1 Category 2 Category 3 Category 4
           


CORRECT CALLING OF AN ALL IN AS A BIG OR SHORT STACK

If a player has moved all in ahead of you, and you have either a big or a short stack, here are the hands you will need to make a call:

Pusher's stack size 10BB 8BB 6BB 4BB 2BB
In the big blind Category 3 Category 4 Category 5 Category 6 Any two cards
Any other position Category 2 Category 3 Category 4 Category 5 Category 6
           


Exercise: Best practice for bubble play

The following exercise takes into account all you have learnt about bubble play so far and quizzes you on the best play in a number of bubble situations.
 
    1. Blinds are 200/400 with a 25 ante. You're the big stack on the button with 5,000 holding: , a Category 8 hand. Push all in and try to pick up the blinds and antes.
    2. Blinds are 200/400 with a 25 ante. You have a medium stack with 2,300 in the small blind. The big stack pushes to 5,000 from the cut-off and you have: , a Category 3 hand. Use your own stack size of 6BB to determine if you can call. If you had a big stack, you could call a 6BB raise with a Category 4 hand. But as a medium stack you need to tighten up two categories. Fold. The bubble is a tricky time. The medium stacks need to play cleverly and try to slide into the money.
    3. If two of your opponents are all-in and you are considering calling, think twice on the bubble. The only times you should consider making this call is when you are the biggest stack still in the hand or you are the second-shortest stack and the shortest stack is all in. In these cases, you can call with  or better (and if the middle stack between the three of you has 6BB or less). If you are not in one if these two spots, fold no matter what you have, even .
    4. Blinds are 200/400 with a 25 ante. You are in the big blind as the short stack with 2,000. The second shortest stack with 2,500 pushes all in. The big stack in the small blind calls. Fold kings, fold aces, fold the laundry, fold everything! You are being given the chance to walk into third place and you should take it.

POST-FLOP PLAY ON THE BUBBLE

No need to change. The same advice applies post-flop as it did during the middle phase.

ESSENTIALS FOR BUBBLE PLAY

  • Tighten up your calls
  • Push more frequently when first into a pot
  • Be more aggressive when you are the big stack
  • Tighten up your pushes against the big stacks
  • If you are short, attack the closest in chips
  • As the short stack, push like a medium stack and call like a big stack
  • Loosen up your hand strength requirements post-flop when betting
  • Follow the same advice for post-flop play as we recommend in the middle phase article