Ever wondered what the right strategy is during a tournament bubble period? Here is one angle inspired by Billy ‘b8chatz’ Chattaway.
His speedos are tight. They are garrotting his legs; built like a tank. He has more hairs on his chest than I have on my entire body. He is like a carpet. His moustache is the size of a brush.
We are in the steam room. He keeps pouring cold water over his head. Each rinse ends with an orgasmic yell. It’s just him and me. Just a few skimpy pieces of clothing between us. Ten minutes later and I ask him about his opinion on homosexuality.
Although my wife thought I was gay, when we first met, this is not an article about me coming out. Instead, it’s an article about bubble strategy in poker. I know what you are thinking. How do we get from steam room discussions about homosexuality to the bubble?
A few months ago it struck me that I never talk to anyone. I am a ghost. I walk around town with my Bose headphones shielding me from the low vibrational frequency of the world. I grin, I nod – I move on.
My life became a mausoleum of one. I saw mourners everywhere. There were no people anymore. I decided to do something about it. I created a new game. I called it ‘Talk to a Stranger in The Steam Room.’
The rules are self-explanatory. I would finish my swim and head to the steam room where my play would be to force myself into a conversation with at least one person in the room. And now you know why I ended up talking to an enormous Persian wrestler about homosexuality in the Middle East.
Now that bit has been cleared up, what about the Bubble?
During the World Poker Tour (WPT) UK Main Event, I got chatting with Billy ‘b8chatz’ Chattaway. He had just made it through the bubble period, and so I asked him for some advice on the best way to play during this topsy-turvy time.
Chattaway told me that his bubble period play starts well before the hand for hand even begins. He went to bed knowing the bubble would burst the following day. He looked at the seat draw and knew that he was the pace setter.
When play began that morning, he started talking to the other players at his table. He was finding out as much information from them as possible. The bubble period means different things to different people, and it was critical that Chattaway understood these nuances for the people at his table.
For example, he realised that one player had driven five hours to get to the venue. There was no way this player was going to play frivolously around the bubble. There were a few players who had won seats courtesy of satellites or going deep in the WPT500 – and he knew these would be tightening up also.
Armed with this knowledge, Chattaway was able to open up 95% of hands and come out of the other side with a chip stack worthy of contention.
A lot of players in his position would waste that time. They would be chatting about Eastenders, sending fake love you texts to their girlfriends and looking at their wives friends photos on Facebook.
The pros don’t waste a single second.
It’s why they are pros.
What Chattaway did doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Talking to strangers can be quite daunting. I’m talking about a straight up ‘how’s the weather’ type of conversation. I’m talking about digging for gold.
So you need to practice the gift of the gab.
It is a learned skill.
Nobody was born with gossip genetics.
Play the game.
Not only do I play ‘Talk to a Stranger in a Steam Room’ but I have also started playing ‘Learn Something New From the Taxi Driver.’ I am sure there are thousands of daily interactions with people that you can turn into a learning exercise. Interpersonal skills are not only necessary around the money bubble, but they are vital for progression in life.
The next time you are in the back of a cab or half naked in a steam room, start a conversation. Don’t talk about the weather. Challenge yourself. What line of questioning will lead you to learn the most about this person?
If you talk all of the time, you won’t learn anything. That’s why we have two ears and only one mouth. Create empathy. Be comfortable with the moments of silence. They will fill them, just give them time.
Take baby steps, though.
Don’t lunge right into this and ask a poker player around the bubble what their thoughts are about homosexuality in the Middle East.