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By now you should have a general idea on what the bubble phase is and how you should approach it in general. In this video you will learn you will learn how bubble dynamics look like in single table tournaments.
Bubble strategy: Single Table SNGs
In this video you will learn What the bubble phase in single table SNGs looks like, and what your gameplan during the bubble phase of such SNGs should be.
After the previous lesson you should have a general idea on what the bubble phase is and how you should approach it in general. In this lesson and the ones that will follow, you will learn how bubble dynamics differ between particular types of SNGs. This lesson focuses on single table tournaments. Two common structures will be considered – the 6-man SNG with a 65/35 payout structure, and the 9-man SNG with a 50/30/20 payout structure.
By definition, as pointed out in the previous lesson, the bubble phase in a 6-man SNG with only the top two spots being paid begins with 4 players left. 70% of the prize pool is allocated on the exact bubble, as two players secure at least a 35% payout. This means it is by far the most important part of the tournament. Therefore, the considerations in this lesson are limited to the bubble and it is assumed that there are always three players competing for the two paid spots.
Take a look at the following example of how stacks might look at this stage. Given that this is quite a standard stack setup, you should be able to recognize what the resulting risk premiums are. You will now see what the risk premium of each player against every other player is. Note that the risk premium depends not only on the size of your stack, the payout structure and the number of players left, but also on the particular opponent’s stack size it is calculated against. As you can see, the risk premium dictates players’ ranges.
Based on the results you have just seen, you can make the following conclusions: The big stack can exploit both players but he should put the most pressure on the medium stack, as he will have to call very tight. The medium stack should avoid any confrontation with the big stack; he can still push a reasonable amount of hands even when acting before the big stack, as the big stack cannot call too light. The short stack has to push quite tight (relative to stack size), as both opponents have low risk premiums against him and can call wide; he can, however, call quite wide (for the bubble) taking advantage of wide pushing ranges and great odds.
It is also important to point out that when opponents are calling appropriately or tighter than that, the main factor driving your pushing range is their risk premium against you. If they are calling too loose, your own risk premium against them becomes the main concern.
It is important to understand how extreme the bubble dynamics can get. Take a look at the following example. In this spot, the short stacked button has folded. Note what the SB and BB ranges look like in the equilibrium: Small blind pushes 100% hands and big blind calls only top 2.3%, which is a pair of tens of better. Remember this example when you find yourself in a spot where there is a very short stacked player.
By definition, the bubble phase in a 9-man SNG starts with 5 players left. 60% of the prize pool is allocated on the bubble, as three prevailing players secure a payout of at least 20%. It is less than the 70% allocated on a 6-man SNG bubble, but still constitutes more thanhalf of the prize pool. Therefore, the bubble phase remains to be of extreme importance. As a consequence, further considerations in this lesson will assume that there are four players fighting for three in-the-money spots.
Take a look at a typical stack setup at this stage of a tournament. You know already how important it is to recognize what the resulting risk premiums and corresponding ranges are, so take a look at them now.
The general conclusions are the same as in the case of a 6-man SNG, however there is one thing that shows more here, as a result of there being more players. With four players left, there is more room for the stacks to vary in size, which results in risk premiums being higher and more opponent dependent.
Let’s end with another extreme example. In this spot there are two very short stacked players. However, one of them – namely the big blind – has to call in this hand; otherwise he would be all-in for the next one with little chance of rebuilding. The cutoff has already folded. The equilibrium solution for the button to push is 81.9%, while the small blind can only call with the top 20.1% of hands. Despite being clearly committed chip EV-wise he needs to wait for the big blind to bust. BB normally calls any two, but when SB calls in front of him, he should fold the bottom 11.4% because, with the very worst hands, it is better to sacrifice the slim chance of rebuilding to let the small blind bust on the bubble.
In this lesson you have learned that: The bubble is extremely important in single table tournaments, as 60 to 70% of the prize pool is allocated at this stage. With a big stack you should apply the pressure by pushing a lot, especially against medium stacks. With a medium stack you should play extremely cautiously and avoid clashing with bigger stacks. With a short stack you should be cautious with your pushes (as you have little folding equity), but loosen up with your calls to fully exploit the loose pushing ranges of others, as you need to rebuild and can’t rely on waiting for others to bust.