Opinions differ on the best way to play the bubble in poker tournaments, but often the most obvious answer is usually to do the opposite from the norm.

Consider this situation: You’re on the bubble at the World Series of Poker, or about to play poker games online, and the action folds to you holding Ah Jd. The table has been pretty aggressive on the bubble and one of the chip leaders is next to act.

Sitting on a stack of between 15 and 25bbs always puts you in a difficult position during the bubble stage of a poker tournament. In this situation you don’t have to be moving all-in with rubbish trying to gamble but, conversely, you’re not so comfortable that you fold into the money. The trouble with a medium stack is that it makes you a prime target for re-steals.

Thus, when you’re in a situation at the poker table where you have an awkward stack you need to play very carefully. You can’t open too many hands because players can move all-in against you and make it difficult, from a pot odds perspective, to call. Moreover, you can’t play too tight because you need to win some chips in order to survive.

In most poker situations it’s often not your actual hand strength or position at the table that you should base your decisions on during the bubble. Instead you should look to the table dynamics. If you are a medium stack at an active table it’s best to sit tight and pick your battles carefully, while if you have the same stack at a table of rocks you’ll often be able to get away with far more than you’d think. As with most things in life, it usually pays to go against the grain.


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