2006 WSOP Main Event: Bubble Time

Dr. Pauly

No one wants to be the Bubble Boy. Or Bubble Girl or Bubble Monkey for that matter. Busting out on the bubble is one of the most demoralizing moments in tournament poker. At some point, every player has experience busting out on or near the bubble. But having that happen at the WSOP can be the single worst moment in a poker player's career.

Play near the money bubble tends to slow down. Tournament directors want to make sure every table has a fair advantage so each table plays the same number of hands until the money bubble breaks. Some players will small stacks tend to stall so they can squeak into the money. While other players take their time to make decisions because a bad move could cost them a shot at cashing.

The bubble is when the psychological aspects of money comes into play for the first time in the tournament. For almost a week, the players had one goal in mind: make it to the end of the day. When everyone woke up today, their goal changed to: make the money.

Many players switch gears as the money bubble approaches. Some tighten up to ensure a cash, while others see that as an opportunity to pick up a lot of free pots. Many pros use the bubble to their advantage. They know that online qualifiers and amateurs don't want to risk their stacks, so they go on the attack with bully raises and steals. $14,597 is the least anyone who cashes will earn. If you bought in directly you'll get about $4,600 for a a few days of work. If you qualified on PokerStars through a freeroll or spent a couple hundred bucks on a satellite, then $14,597 is a decent return on your minimal investment.

The atmosphere in the tournament room during the WSOP Championship bubble is an intense period of time. Players tense up and focus. This year, the tournament directors decided to go round-for-round as the play approached the bubble. With about 880 players remaining, the dealers would deal an entire orbit and then wait for all the other tables to catch up. They did that until the bubble broke.

In previous years, the Bubble Boy was bought into the WSOP championship the very next year, as a nice gesture from the casino. That would actually make the person one off the bubble as the Bubble Boy. Things are a little different this year. Milwaukee's Best, one of the official sponsors of the WSOP, is giving a way a seat into the 2007 WSOP championship. They are picking the nine players who bust out on the bubble to play in a SNG. The winner gets the $10,000 seat.

When the bubble broke, the room filled with applause as players got over one a major hurdle. Cashing in the 2006 WSOP is a major accomplishment for any poker player. The players still sitting in the room beat out almost 8,000 other players to get to that point.

When the moment happened justa round 5:30pm local time, many of the players sprung to their feet and joined in the celebration. The entire room let out a collective sigh of relief. Others flipped open their cellphone and called their loved ones. One guy hugged his dealer. Two PokerStars qualifiers sitting at the same table exchanged high-fives and fist bumps. A few others checked the payout sheet to see what the next jump in money is (places 775 through 819 gets $15,504).

Congrats to all the PokerStars qualifiers who made it to the money at the 2006 WSOP championship.