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29/10/2007 No. 48
he Guardian G2 Poker Column
Maxton Walker
Monday Oct 29, 2007

If you've ever played in a live hold-'em knockout tournament, you'll know the unbearable tension that grips the room when you reach the point known as the "bubble": the next player knocked out will be the last to get nothing - everyone else receives a cut of the prize pool. For some reason, you never quite get the same frisson on the bubble in low-level online tournaments.

The books I read when starting to play seriously were by the old-school legends who honed their skills in the 1970s Vegas card-rooms. They all said unequivocally that the bubble was the point when you had to be fearless, take risks and exploit other players' caution. For a long time, that was how I played; courting disaster in the hope of gaining a potentially match-winning advantage.

So it was a shock, a couple of years ago, to come across Doyle Brunson - a notoriously fearless old-school player - saying that in online single-table tournaments it's fine to "back into" the money on the bubble; that is, do nothing and pray that somebody else has that fatal rush of blood to the head.

But there's more. One popular online $5 buy-in, 10-player game pays the top three $25/$15/$10. Your profits, then, are $20/$10/$5, minus the site's fee. Coming third as opposed to fourth is a jump of $10 (a gain of $5 against a loss of $5); coming first against coming second is, again, a jump of $10. But second against third is a profit of only $5. In other words, you want more than your share of third and first places in these games - coming second is relatively bad. So, to improve your single-table results, hang in for third place at all costs, then take risks for a shot of coming first. And if you do get knocked out on the bubble online, at least you can swear as loudly as you want.

Victoria Coren is away

Your can read more byAnthony Holden at his website
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