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May 11, 2005

Playing Near the Bubble – Late Tournament Strategy

Posted at May 11, 2005 10:27 AM in Tournament Strategy , by Greedy Gecko.

Late in every multi table tournament (MTT), the strategies employed by players change dramatically as the bubble, or the in-the-money (ITM), threshold approaches. Generally, players with healthy chip stacks tend to become more aggressive in order to capitalize on the timid play of shorter stacked opponents. Also, a battle unfolds among the tournament’s lower stacks as they try to squeeze their way into the cash by slowing the game play and folding until other opponents are knocked out.

Regardless of your relative position in the tournament, I believe that all players should try and utilize this cutoff stage to grow their chip stack, or get knocked out trying. Instead, many of the middle to lower stacks severely disable their post-bubble chances, because they cannot tolerate losing just before the money.

Why Play Multi-Table Tournaments?
Conceivably, you play MTT’s in order to parlay a fixed tournament buy-in into a potentially large return on your investment (both financial and time investment). If you wanted to simply earn your money back or perhaps double or triple it, you could easily play Sit N Go tournaments instead. The draw of playing against a large field is that final table of the tournament is generally rewarded handsomely. Consequently, I play every tournament with a focus on making moves that give me the highest chances of making the final table with a sufficient amount of chips to have a chance at winning.

If you focus on simply getting into the money, and tighten up your play as the bubble approaches, you will miss opportunities to build your chip stack with aggressive play. Can this aggressive play get you knocked out prematurely? Certainly it can. However, I’d much rather get knocked out playing for a chance at 1st place, than regularly succeed at making 19th place in a 20 seat payout tournament. Note that the occasional win, or even placing highly, will more than offset the losses incurred by not playing with a focus on simply getting in the money.

The Greedy Gecko