Late in a Tournament with 9♠9♣, what do you do here?

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You are 4 players away from making the money in a Tournament where blinds are 500/1,000 with a 100 ante. It folds around to the Button who raises to 3,000 and action is on you in the Small Blind with 9♠9♣. What do you do here?

PRO ANSWER: We are playing in the late stages of a tournament. There are 40 players left and 36 make the money. The blinds are 500/1,000 with a 100 chip ante. We are dealt black nines in the Small Blind. It folds to the Button who raises to 3,000 and action is on us.

To evaluate this hand properly we have to make a few assumptions. Since we are late in the tournament we should have some experience playing against the Button. At these blinds and these stack sizes the standard opening raise size is often something more in the 2,000-2,500 range.

If the Button is normally raising to 2,000-2,500 and is suddenly raising to 3,000 that is often a betting pattern tell. This betting pattern tell can mean anything as strong as pocket kings that are worried to “always see an Ace” on the flop to pure air attempting to discourage action on the steal.

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If our opponent is splitting their ranges usually raising to 2,000 and only very rarely to 3,000, then we could potentially make an exploitative fold here as their hand range would be much narrower than a standard Button opening range, especially from a ~20 BB starting stack.

However, assuming that 3,000 is the raise they use with their entire opening hand range or we don’t have evidence either way, pocket nines is simply too far ahead of all the hands they would open on the Button.

With four players left to the money (which is still 10% of the field) realistically playing snug until the money bursts will have us min-cashing quite often with a very short stack but rarely making a deep run in the tournament to the top 2-3 places and the bulk of the prize money. If we are focused on making the most money overall, we have to be willing to play this hand.

Our pocket nines are just too far ahead of a Button opening range here to do anything but move all-in.

Moving all-in is the best play.

How would you play it?
Share your answer in the comments below!

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