When playing a no-limit holdem tournament the first goal of every player should be to cash in it. But how to make it in the money when playing a tournament of this stature is one thing not many players truly grasp. Many players will tighten up when the bubble comes around and many players will speed their game up and loosen up. The main key to cashing in a tournament is studying your opponents up to the time when the bubble comes around and you will know which is best for the situation. If you know one player has been raising a bunch of hands pre-flop and has a wide range a good play is to shove your stack in over the top of them and put them to the test rather than being stuck in a hand because most of the time if they are stealing a lot they will not call you. But if you have a made hand and that player is raising make a small re-raise or flat call them pre-flop to build a pot for yourself. If you are an aggressive player you may want to slow your game down as the bubble approaches because others will be speeding their play up. But as the saying goes “aggressive poker is winning poker.”
Making the Money
In order to get into the money, playing aggressively as a cash approaches is the best way to go so you can build up a stack and ultimately make a run at making the final table. When to go in for the kill is the time the bubble is approaching with fifty or so players until it comes depending on the size of the tournament of course. Most players will even fold bigger hands such as AQ pre-flop is you were perceived as a tight player early on in the tournament. So opening your game up as the bubble approaches will allow you to win more pots and get a stack that you can play with. Changing gears in poker tournaments is one thing few players master but being able to flick a switch and start winning pots is something you have to do to be successful at the poker table online or live. Playing tight when the bubble comes around is only a good strategy if you already have a big stack and can sit around and wait for hands. But with a short stack you want to build it up around the time the cash comes around because no players play just to cash in tournaments; you have to play to win.