Late in a Tournament with T♠T♦, what do you do here?
DECISION POINT: You are 5 people away from the money bubble of a Tournament with 18 players left and a standard payout structure. The blinds are 2,000/4,000 with a 4,000 big blind ante. Action folds around to you in the Cutoff and you raise to 10,000 with T♠T♦. The Button and Small Blind fold and the Big Blind reraises putting you all-in. Action is on you, what do you do here?
PRO ANSWER: We are playing the late stages of a tournament with 2,000/4,000 blinds and a 4,000 big blind ante. There are 18 players remaining and 13 get paid. The payout structure is fairly standard with 27.5% of the prize pool going to first, 18.5% to second, 14.0% to third, and trickling down 2.76% for players who finishing 9th-13th. We have 25 big blinds in our stack and we are the shortest remaining in the tournament.
We are dealt pocket tens in the Cutoff and action folds to us. We elect to make a standard raise to 10,000 chips and it folds to the Big Blind who moves all-in. A big mistake many players make in this situation as one of the shortest stacks remaining in the tournament is folding too frequently.
Running a simulation in this spot, the Big Blind vs our opening raise is supposed to be shoving 26% of total hands. We are definitely supposed to play more snug than we normally would in this spot and should fold many hands that we open raise. However, we can profitably call here versus a player shoving this wide range including 77+/AT+ (suited and off suit) and KQs.
To illustrate the difference stack sizes make, when we change our stack to 200,000 chips instead of 100,000 chips in the simulation we’re only supposed to only call with TT+/AQs. In that scenario pocket tens is barely a call. However as one of the shortest stacks in the tournament we are guaranteed nothing, so we should be more willing to take on risk to build a stack that can propel us to a top 3 finish.
If we had some sort of player specific information that the Big Blind is not shoving as wide a range as they should in this spot, we could make an exploitative fold against a much narrower range.
Assuming the Big Blind is reasonably competent and recognizes the pressure they can apply to the short stack by shoving here, they should easily have a wide enough range to make calling with pocket tens quite profitable here in the long run.
Calling is the best play.
How would you play it?
Share your answer in the comments below!
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