MTT Bubble Play Tips!

As an MTT player, bubble play is a critical part of any MTT you play in. The bubble is the part of the tournament where the next person eliminated will not win any money or not make the final table. There are two types of bubbles. The money bubble and the final table bubble. Personally I think the money bubble is more important as it decides who makes the money. Even if I bust shortly after the bubble I’d rather bust having a min cash rather then no cash at all.

There are a few different ways you can play the money bubble. You can play relaxed if you have a big chip stack or you can be aggressive if your chip stack is low.

Generally If I have a good, healthy chip stack that’s above average I play relaxed when we are on the bubble. Unless I have a huge hand like premium pocket pairs I’ll sit back and let the shorter chip stacks go after each other. More often then not when playing with a healthy chip stack you’ll cash and make the money.

If I’m down to 5 or 6 big blinds on the bubble I’ll play aggressively and try to double up. If someone at my table has a shorter chip stack then me I’ll try to wait it out in hopes they bust. However If I’m dealt a decent hand I’ll get all my chips in preflop hoping to double up. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The last thing I want to do is blind out of an MTT on the money bubble because I’ve been playing too passive. There have been times I’ve busted on the bubble and it’s a bad feeling knowing you came that close to cashing but you just got to dust it off and start thinking about the next tournament.

One thing I’ve noticed is during an MTT here on Replay is that sometimes the bubble can be either short or last a few minutes. It really depends on the chip stacks, who your playing against and how aggressive the short stacks are playing during that time. Keep an eye on the tournament stats and as the bubble approaches try and make sure you have a healthy chip stack so you don’t have to worry about busting on the money bubble.


  1. There is no “final table bubble” if there is no reward for making it to the final table.

  2. Getting deep in the tournament is what matters. ITM, final table are related ways to look at the same thing. For large MTT, there are more money slots than final table seats, and that may make final table seem important. Or if you are in a live televised tournament, final table may mean celebrity status, endorsement, fame, etc. But these aren’t really considerations for Replay.

  3. Getting ITM is good, but getting deep ITM is much more important than min-cashing. In real money games, deep money can be life changing, while min-cashing is barely break-even.

  4. If you have an opportunity to make a play that will double yourself up to be in a great position for a deep money finish, passing it up for a guaranteed min-cash is often a bad idea. It takes many min cash performances to equal one tournament win. If you’re playing for the most chips, then you want to play for the win, even if it means finishing ITM less than you otherwise could have if you played the bubble like a nit.

  5. Aggressive plays near the bubble can exploit players who are overfolding their hands trying to survive into the shallow money.

  6. Continue to play a sound strategy and accept variance as part of the game. Make adjustments to win the most chips and get deeper into the money, rather than settle for a min-cash finish. Go after those middle stack players you have covered who don’t want to risk their tournament life this close to the money bubble. Eliminate those small stacks when you can, but recognize that you need to win a showdown to do it.

you can play more aggressive with a big stack Marc on the bubble and put tons of pressure on med and small stacks that can not bust without making it ITM. Play passively with short stacks and hopefully someone else will burst that bubble other than yourself.

I played a hand in a $400 free roll last night where the first 3 spots gets $100 and 4-13 gets $10. I’m in the SB with AK and 1.5 bb’s back after posting on the bubble with 14 left. UTG who folded did not have chips to cover the BB and ante for the next hand and would be all in with 2 random cards. Short story long I folded that SB with AK when folded to me and the next hand the BB busted (lol, with AK) and I got one of the 10 $10 payouts… yay!

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