Bubble Strategy for Poker Sit and Go's

(This article is a follow up to "Middle Stages Sit and Go Strategy")

Sit and Go BubbleThe “bubble” stage in any tournament occurs when only a few more players need to be knocked out before the money places are reached. In an SNG, the top three places are paid so the bubble occurs when there are about 4-5 players left. The bubble stage in an SNG is a special time because the dynamics of the game change. Everyone is aware that if they can hang on just a bit longer, they’ll at least get something for their efforts so far.

Just sneaking in to the money is not a profitable strategy over the long term. The payouts in SNGs are heavily favored to first place. Third place finishes result in just enough money to pay for the buy-in fee. In the long run, a strategy that tries to squeeze you in to the money will not result in any significant earnings.

Your goal in SNGs should always be to take first place. That means you don’t stop collecting chips at any point in the tournament – especially during the bubble. You’re going to have to win every single chip in play to win the tournament so you need to always be on the lookout for opportunities to gain chips.

Check out our Video Strategy Guide for the Bubble of a Sit N Go

Take Advantage of the Fearful Ones

The best strategy for the bubble in a SNG is to take advantage of the players who are looking to just sneak in to the money. Many inexperienced players play SNGs in the hopes of just making it to 3rd place, with the thought that anything better than that is just gravy on top. With that mentality, those players tighten up considerably on the bubble so they can guarantee themselves a 3rd place finish or better.

Those players are the perfect target for you to attack and steal their chips. The blinds at this point are so large that every time you steal an opponent’s blind, you increase your stack considerably. If you can identify the players who tighten up on the bubble, you can increase your chip stack nicely by stealing from those players.

The key to successfully increasing your chip stack during the bubble is to use finesse to target the tight players and avoid the players who are willing to fight back. You also have to be quick to get out if an opponent shows any strength. You can compare the proper strategy to guerilla warfare: You want to get in, hit your opponents when they are weak and disappear when they are strong.

Some of the best players to steal from are the ones who are on the border between medium and short stacked. These players are often the tightest of all because they are working so hard to outlast the other players. They don’t have enough chips to splash around and take risks, but they have enough chips not to be completely desperate and willing to gamble with you.

Remember the Power of Position

Your relative position at the table will change rapidly at the table because there are only 4-5 players remaining at the table. Even though there are only a few players remaining, you still need to play tight in early position. At this point in the tournament, the play is rather erratic and people will randomly make all-in bets. Stick with strong hands if you’re in the first or second position.

In late position, your cards are almost meaningless. Your goal in late position is to steal the blinds, not to get into a showdown. Your play should be dictated by the players in the blinds and by the action before you. If nobody has moved at the pot yet, you can make a move with any two cards, provided the players in the blinds are likely to fold.

Next, learn how to play the late stages of a sit and go (after you make the money).

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