One thing to think about – or maybe forget about - is the “Bubble”. This is the placing that leaves you one place below the payouts. The on-line MTT I often play is frequently affected by the approach of the bubble placing. You suddenly notice that one person, then two, then half the table are running down their clocks before betting or folding. The idea is that a few people on other tables, all of whom are short-stacked and fast on the trigger, will blow themselves out with an all-in call and leave the way clear for a payout.
Unfortunately, this is rarely a useful device in the greater scheme of things. It serves only to mess about a little with the order of exits before and after the bubble. The point here is that many players freeze up and change their behaviour before the bubble but suddenly loosen up and crash out in the lower reaches of the money. It is almost as though their objective all along was to get their entrance fee back with a few dollars on top, which is all that happens when you finish in the payout list between say 31st and 50th. You might double or triple your money between 21st and 30th.
It would be easy to pat yourself on the back and say “well done” but could you not have made the same money in a fraction of the time playing a low stakes no-limit cash game? Is not the whole point of entering an MTT finishing in the big money? Yes, is the answer you should be registering here with the conclusion that the bubble in this kind of structure is best ignored when playing. The marginal gain or loss is puny and you should be more interested in taking advantage of those who do take a cautious turn before the bubble, by raising them off their hands. It is not likely they want to call your raise if all of their chips are in the middle before the payouts.
The place to be thinking tactically about payouts is when you have made the top 20. The key is the actual amount of the step ups between payout levels and this can make a big difference to your bankroll as a proportion of your entry fee. However, even between 11th and 20th, certainly on the platform I use, it doesn’t pay to let your game be affected unduly. The real size and increments in payout occur from 10th to 1st!
Next time, I will talk about the play you are likely to see when you are down to two or three tables and the blinds are getting very big!