We love the bubble. It scares a lot of players, but for the media, it's great fun. Poker tournaments aren't everything that you see on TV. There are plenty of lulls, which we do our creative best to make sound exciting for you at home. Fortunately when it comes to the bubble, there's no need for us to exaggerate, as it is one of the most exciting stages of a poker tournament.
We've talked in the past about the fine line between pleasure and pain that is endured by players on the money bubble. Quite simply, it's the difference between 3,688 Aussie dollars and zippo.
However within the bubble itself there are many games within the game.
The game of cat and mouse played by the short stacks is usually what we associate with the bubble. Everyone is watching the shorties, and praying that they will bust. These guys are desperately clawing their way from one hand to the next with survival their only goal. They will tank, stall, fold and occasionally be forced to move all in to steal the blinds to stay alive. They know all they have to do is outlast the other shorties to reach the glorious cash. And if they can do that, then it will feel as good as winning the whole damn thing.
Dean McIver is one shorty who is a bit nervous at the moment as he commented to us, "I hate this time of the tournament. All this for nothing..."
At the opposite end of the scale are the big stacks. They love the bubble because they can flex their considerable muscle to bully pretty much everyone. Unless they are met with resistance, they will pillage and plunder relentlessly to build their empire. Many tournament victories have been won with super-aggressive bubble play and we can expect the likes of Oliver Speidel and Liam O'Rourke (pictured below) to push their edge to the max around this time.
In between those two we have the medium stacks. They are sitting back in their chair smiling down upon the shorties. Of course, they know they should make it into the money, if they don't do anything silly, so they will often stay out of the way of the big stacks. But if the opportunity to attack a shortie arrives, they can then play the role of the bully.
Two players who didn't have to worry about the bubble were our international stars in Maria Ho and Angel Guillen who were recent casualties just a few places short of the cash. Our Mexican PokerStars Team Pro was all in with pocket jacks against the pocket aces of Tony Kondevski. Guillen was hoping for a repeat of his WSOP Main Event bubble hand from a few years back where his opponent spiked a jack to crack his own aces, but once again it wasn't meant to be, as the board bricked out.
And just as this piece hits the airwaves, it appears that the bubble has now officially burst. The unfortunate sole was Luis Arrilucea who actually finished runner-up in this event last year. I guess that's little consolation.