You know what makes the really good online players really good? The fact that they are fearless. They aren't afraid to lose, and they aren't afraid to put all of their chips into the middle. Watch players such as Johnnybax and gbmantis the next time they play a tournament, and pay particular attention to how aggressive they get near the "bubble."
The "bubble" occurs when the tournament is about to hit the money. If the top 45 positions pay, and there are 46 people left in the tournament, then we are at the "bubble." But really, the "bubble" portion of the tournament occurs when there are 60-65 players left or so. This is when we are close enough to the money that people sense they are about to make the money, and start playing differently. Much more cautiously. And this is where good players such as Bax and gbmantis accumulate chips like crazy.
Think about it. You've played for four hours, and are within a few minutes of making the money. Do you really want to get knocked out now after all that time invested? Thinking like this is completely the wrong attitude, and the good players will exploit this.
Why is this the wrong attitude? Between these tournaments are structured in a way that the people at the final table basically get all of the money. So you should be looking to accumulate chips, and not just squeak into the money.
If you have chips (an above average stack) and the bubble is approaching, you need to be aggressive on pretty much every hand until you get played back at. Hardly anyone is going to want to mess with you, as you have the ability to put them out of the tournament. Unless you have a garbage hand, any unraised pot should be raised, ESPECIALLY in later position. You should be a merciless blind stealer at this point. If the blinds go actually call, go ahead and put out a continuation bet everytime. Put the pressure on them. You have a stack, you have room to maneuver at this point.
Short-stacked and near the bubble? This is your chance to accumulate chips and get right back into it. BULLY your way to a stack at this point. Don't be afraid to push all-in with a decent hand. Don't push with 99 and then just raise with AA; good players will see through that. When you are in an unraised pot with a semi-decent hand, push. If there is a raise in front of you, then be more discerning. If you are pushing quite a few hands, and there is a raise in front of you, please note that you are likely to be called here if you push, so make sure that you have a strong hand.
Play the bubble aggressively, and forget about just squeaking into the money. You are playing to win. The real money is at the final table.
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