It’s pokers’ dirty little secret. The one thing poker manuals will never discuss in great lengths. The thing that dare not speak its name. The condition of such shame that other players will always look down on the person who has found themselves in this situation. ‘The Bubble’!
The bubble is being the last person knocked out who does not get any money for being the last person knocked out. When you are the bubble person you have basically spent a couple of hours playing poker for nothing! Since the game of poker is the purest form of capitalism at play, not being paid for doing something is tantamount to sin.
Poker is all about being paid. Playing heroically at poker and cavalier with your chips ending with you being carried out on your shield, as if some glorious Roman gladiator is seen as a complete waste of time and so dumb that you should be horse whipped out of town.
In fact tarring and feathering a bubble player is far to good for them. This may seem extreme but it is the fact of playing poker. The beauty of the Internet is that you can be anyone you want to be so if you are unfortunate to be in the bubble most people will not know it was you unless you told people yourself.
During a live game you do not have that pleasure of anonymity – everyone can see your shame. Like that naughty puppy who fouls the middle of the brand new carpet and knows that they have done so, hang their head in shame.
When you play tournament poker you will see text book poker playing when you near the bubble position, all of a sudden the buccaneering warrior suddenly plays like a timid pussycat. Chucking away A-6 suited when on the button because they do not want to be in a pot, with a hand which is marginal and they are pot committed. The reason being is when you throw away that hand say post flop, that action said ‘…I had something but my hand is too weak for me to risk losing that hand and getting knocked out or severely weakened…’!
This type of folding can be a red rag to a bull and other players with a big stack who noticed this will bully that player mercilessly knowing that they are not going to get involved with a mediocre hand. The player scared of being the bubble would rather lose the big blind while in the possession of AQ off suit than defending their big blind. Its about fear of the bubble.
The amount of self loathing when you have been the bubble player is so strong that most take it out on other things or even people. It has been known that poker players, especially male players, would beat up their pet or even their spouse after being in the bubble. Yes domestic abuse is wrong and no excuse can be made for abusing the person you are supposed to be in love with. But this is what has and may still go on when a player has lost out of being in the money.
What can you do when you’re in the predicament of getting knocked out just outside the money? Well, all you can do is be patient and pray that someone is dumb enough or in the position of no return and gets knocked out before you. If you have a big stack it is clear that the time for heroics must be put to one side and just enjoy the sheer fear of other suffering the bubble tension.
If you lose out collecting money and feature too often in being a bubble player it is time that you found another pursuit because your style of play is too rubbish and will end with you being stripped naked. A constant bubble player is the lowest of the low in the poker world.
My remedy of being in the bubble is to get drunk, curse the computer and the poker site for conspiring against me and then find a very stake tournament and go crazy. If I win everyone will think I am mad and if I lose it confirms the notion that I am mad. Getting rid of the anger by reverting to ‘uper duper fish’ is great antidote.