Sit & Go: The Bubble

The 'bubble' is the stage of a tournament when there is one more player left in than places paid. In a standard Sit & Go, three places are paid. Therefore, the bubble occurs when four players remain. It is crucial to play this stage well, because it determines whether or not you win any money.

General guidelines for bubble play

Tighten up your calls

On the bubble, play tightens up. Often, if one player pushes all-in everyone else folds. As a result, you should tighten up your calls, as calling an all-in and losing could mean the end of your tournament. It also means your opponents gain a free ride into the money without risking anything - not a scenario you should create for them.

Push more frequently when first into a pot

This is a logical consequence of the previous point. You can exploit your opponents tightening up their calls by pushing with a wider range to steal the blinds and antes, therefore keeping your chip stack from blinding away.

Be more aggressive if you are the big stack

There are several natural advantages in being the big stack, especially on the bubble. You can't bust in a single hand so you can be aggressive with a wider range. You're not risking as much as a medium or short stack, so you can take a hit and still play on in the tournament.

Because you've got your oppoents covered, they will have to cope with a threat on their tourney life every time they get involved in a hand with you. This results in the tighter calling we referred to before.

Tighten up your all-in pushes against the big stacks

While you should be pushing with quite a few hands on the bubble, be more selective when you push against a big stack. With his dominant chip position, the big stack can afford to call with a wider range of hands so your risk of busting is significantly higher than against a medium stack.

Attack the closest in chips

When you are short on chips, indentify the player that has the most similar chip stack to you and to attack him. You'll create a 'him-or-me' situation and gain maximum value if you win an all-in confrontation. In contrast, if you win an all-in against a big stack who has you well covered, you're not rewarded with a place in the money. OK, you get the double up, but there are still four players left and the battle of the bubble goes on.

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