Facing an All-in on the Bubble with Q♦Q♥, what do you do?
DECISION POINT: You are 8-handed on the bubble in a Tournament where blinds are 3,500/7,000 with a big blind ante. It folds to you in MP2 and you raise to 17,000 with Q♦Q♥. Everyone folds to the Big Blind, who has more chips than you, goes all-in. Action is on you, what do you do here?
PRO ANSWER: We are playing in a mid stakes online tournament. It is the exact bubble with 153 players remaining and 152 getting paid. The payout structure is relatively standard with the minimum cash being a little less than double the buy-in and the top three spots awarding a majority of the prize pool.
We are dealt QdQh in Middle Position 2 at an 8-handed table. It folds to us and we make a standard raise to 17,000 chips. Everyone folds to the Big Blind who moves all-in. We started the hand with 30 big blinds so we have a playable stack and we are 4th in chips at our table. If we fold here we are very likely to make the money.
We also have the third best starting hand in poker. While it is true that ICM pressure will often make us play tighter than normal in situations such as these, many players take this to an extreme and fold more often than they should.
The majority of the money in the prize pool in these tournaments is near the top of the payout structure, so taking some risk of not making the money is acceptable as long as it significantly increases our ability of finishing in one of the top 3 spots. In this case, calling and winning would make us table chip leader and likely one of the biggest stacks in the tournament.
Running this through a simulator our calling range in this spot does shrink significantly due to the payout bubble, but we are still profitably calling with JJ+/AK in this spot.
Passing up spots like these will increase the amount of times that you cash in tournaments. It will also decrease your overall ROI (return on investment) because while you will cash more often, you will also make the final table less often and be less likely to make the top 3 spots in the times you do make the final table.
Calling is the correct play.
How would you play it?
Share your answer in the comments below!
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