Sports & Games

Tournament Strategy: On the Bubble

Daniel Negreanu

Lesson time 10:17 min

Learn Daniel’s strategies for navigating the precarious “bubble” including how to get in the money by leveraging big stacks and avoid ICM suicide.

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You're going to hear the term bubble quite often. And what exactly is the bubble? Well, the bubble is the point of the tournament where everyone left is about to make the money, so that they're going to guarantee a profit. For example, let's say there's 1,000 players in a field. Often that'll pay anywhere from 100 to 150 players. So let's say this tournament pays 150 players, and there's about 155 players left. So just five of those players are going to end up with a loss. Everyone else is going to go home with a profit. That's the time where the short stacks have the maximum amount of pressure on them to just squeak in, and they're going to have to tighten up their ranges. So that's right when the bubble happens. You'll notice a huge shift after the bubble for these short stacks, who are all in the money. And now, they're like, wee, they're ready to get it in because they've locked up a profit. - So I promise we're going to talk a little bit about ICM, which is independent chip model, which essentially distinguishes the value between a chip early on and a chip later on. And it becomes most important around the money bubble. It will also be extremely important at final tables, because with every player that gets knocked out, you lock up extra money. Now, it's important to note that if you play at the poker tournament with the only goal of winning the event-- if that's your simple, number one goal-- then you're going to play a certain way. Now, that's not how tournaments typically work. 10% to 20% of the field is going to get paid, which is going to highly affect your decision making. So if it was winner take all, you'd played very similar to the way you would in a cash game. When you see value, you take it. That's not the case in tournaments, because when you're trying to make money as your goal, rather than just winning the tournaments, you have to factor in the value of your chips in certain situations. So the bubble becomes an opportunity and also something to be wary of depending on your stack size. You know, there's no easy like magic pill formula for this. A lot of it is going to come through experience and practice in these situations to understand the situations where you should be more aggressive and you should be more careful. So I would say as a general rule, what you would do is, let's say, if you're five-handed or six-handed is have a deep understanding of like, OK, am I in a advantageous position or am I in a weak position? If I'm in an advantageous position, I can play more aggressively. If I'm in one of the weaker positions, I need to be a little bit more careful and focus a little more on playing conservatively. - Obviously, if you're on the bubble and you have a big stack, you have unbelievable leverage, because the other players at the table are going to tighten up their ranges significantly, especially if they're very short stacked. So a player that normally might go all in against you with Ace-...


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Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Absolutely amazing, ton of good info in here!

I've stepped my Poker Game up a notch taking this class. My overall understanding is 2 or 3 fold what it was. Thanks Daniel going to be taking these skills to the casino with me

Daniel greatly teaches the basics and some advanced principles of Poker in an easy to understand format

If you are a seasoned recreational player looking to up your game, there is information here to help you. I bet even some pros will learn a thing or 2


Comments

Giorgi

Have a question for you all, every thoughtful answer is much appreciated You are in a 6 max tournament, not far from the bubble: 25 players left, with 20 players cashing. Sitting with 380k chips, with blinds at 50k (23rd position out of 25 players). You have AKo on the BB, with 326k in front of you (after BB and ante paid) Button shoves all-in 340k - this is the 3rd shove in the last 5 hands from this player. Do you call? Things to consider: You are pretty close to Bubble You should have at least 45% chance to win against the entire range, except for KK AA which would be very unlucky. Thanks! Note: I called and lost the coinflip vs 55

A fellow student

I am playing poker tournaments for a long time, learning the game and spending time to understand the depth. Being a chess player for most of my life, competing on Master levels , I really appreciate Daniel compare the game of poker to game of chess. A lot of friends of mine, professional chess players were getting into poker 10-15 years ago. Daniel Negreanu by far my favorite player and not only because of poker, but also because of his amazing sparkling personality, and kind heart. It is really rare and weird in the world of competitive poker... After listening to only 12 lessons , I scored in a decent tournament on Friday in Atlantic city, after a long streak of missing the money... Negreanu Inspire and motivates me. I have a great feeling about improving my game. looking forward to the rest of the lessons in the class.. I am happy! Thank you !! great course!

A fellow student

I am playing poker tournaments for a long time, learning the game and spending time to understand the depth. Being a chess player for most of my life, competing on Master levels , I really appreciate Daniel compare the game of poker to game of chess. A lot of friends of mine, professional chess players were getting into poker 10-15 years ago. Daniel Negranu by far my favorite player and not only because of poker, but also because of his amazing sparkling personality, and kind heart. It is really rare and weird in the world of competitive poker... After listening to only 12 lessons , I scored in a decent tournament on Friday in Atlantic city, after a long streak of missing the money... Negranu Inspire and motivates me. I have a great feeling about improving my game. looking forward to the rest of the lessons in the class.. I am happy! Thank you !!

A fellow student

I've been winning at tournaments for years, so I know all about ICM, but I think it would have been nice if he'd actually explained the math and assumptions behind it before using the term ICM. That being said, math turns a lot of people off, so I guess I understand why he didn't.

Mike B.

Being a novice, I don't understand when he says someone has 10 or so blinds left to play. What does that mean?

Joseph H.

The author is good with playing players and such, but this is poor advice. You sometimes need to play tight right on the bubble, but playing to mincash is really bad. It is situation dependent, but you usually should not be real tight with open pushes and should look to play back at big stacks abusing the bubble. Also, the course does not discuss ICM issues in the money, where it often is important to play tighter to move up in payouts. There may be some situations to open fold AQ with 7xBB on the bubble, but you are getting called tighter, so such nitty plays are generally bad.

William K.

Where is the "ICM Chip Trainer"? It's been mentioned several times in the comments, but I don't see where/how to get it. A bit of math in the lesson or PDF would have been helpful to clearly demonstrate how the value of tournament chips vs. actual money relates and changes as the tournament progresses. If it's in the trainer, great, but please make it obvious how to get the trainer.

R H L.

Even though I am a fairly veteran player, I find that I often go deep in tournaments, but as we get towards the bubble I am often one of those short stacks thats fighting for my tournament life then. I rarely get to the bubble situation with large or even just average stack. So I either bust out just short of the $$$, or even if I do make the money, I am still a short stack and bust out with one of the low payouts. That led me to believe that I am too tight in the middle stages and am not stealing enough blinds along the way. But when I re-assess my play after each tourney I can't point to any hands where I messed up or major mistakes I made.

Richard L.

Ok I have down loaded the ICM Trainer and it looks like it's written in German or something? Did I miss something???

Benedikt M.

I'm wondering. Is there a short "rule of thumb" similar to the "Change in % = #Outs x 2" to figure out if you should push or fold according to ICM? These formulas you find online are way to complicated to do it in a live situation at the table.