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4 Reasons You're Failing to Get Past the Bubble

19 May 2015, By:

They get frustrated with constantly falling short of the money and their bankroll suffers badly.

The inability to survive the bubble in tournaments is a common problem caused by bad play.

Below are four reasons why players have trouble surviving the bubble in tournaments.

1. You Shut Down as the Bubble Approaches

Why does the action in tournaments slow down as the bubble approaches? It's because there are many players that shut it down in the hopes that other players bust out and burst the bubble.

You often find this scenario begin when a tournament is anywhere from 10 to 20 players from the bubble. Players rock up and will only play the most premium hands so that they don't risk busting out on the bubble.

This strategy will slowly drain your chips as the orbits rack up. Entire levels often pass, compounding the problem further.

As the bubble approaches you have to look for spots to pick on the stallers or slow-players so that you can build your stack for a run to the final table.

2. You Play Too Many Hands Against Massive or Short Stacks

There are two types of confrontations you want to avoid when possible at the bubble.

The first is playing against a massive stack that can bust you.

While we don't want you to rock up at the bubble, there is no reason to risk your chips against a stack that can bust you unless you have a premium hand or you're very short and looking to pick up chips.

The big stack at the table is often playing a very loose style at the bubble and isn't afraid to gamble. While it is true that you can push him off marginal hands, you don't want to risk shoving with a marginal holding and he wakes up with a monster.

Conversely you want to avoid trying to knock out too many short stacks unless you are on the stone bubble or they're super short. Playing against short stacks too often can result in you becoming one of those stacks.

Again, if you've picked up a premium hand, then go ahead and take your shot. But stay away from getting into too many all-in confrontations against short stacks with marginal holdings.

3. Playing Too Many Flops

Sometimes you will see players who try to get sneaky at the bubble and start to play a lot of flops hoping to get a big hand. This strategy can work against you in a couple of ways.

First, you are consistently committing chips to the pot and putting more of you stack at risk than needed. In this spot you want to look for as many spots as possible to take a pot uncontested pre-flop.

Next, you're giving your opponent a perfect chance to outflop you. You often see a player go into a flop with A-10 or K-Q, connect with top pair and then lose a sizable pot to someone that flopped better.

4. You're Too Aggressive

While aggression is key to winning at poker, too much aggression at the wrong time can kill.

A great example is one we saw at the bubble of the 2008 WSOP Main Event.

Near the bubble a player with a stack of 150,000 decided to get into a raising war with a larger stack and ultimately went all-in with pocket queens.

His opponent made the call with pocket aces. The player with queens was eliminated.

At the beginning of the hand the eliminated player had over 30 big blinds and did not need to put himself at risk in such a spot. His overly aggressive play cost him his tournament life short of the money.

This is a story you will see happen too often in tournaments. A player builds a big stack through aggression but does not know how to shift gears and falls victim to a player waiting to trap him.

Learn to ramp down the aggression when needed in order to protect your stack. This will help you run deeper in events.

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