So when we last left our intrepid non-hero, he was in the midst of discussing three hands late in MTTs, and asking you fine folk what you would do. Thanks to those who commented, both here, and at the Poker In Colorado forum. You've given me grist to consider, on several accounts. At any rate, here is how I played the hands.
First Hand (about 10 spots short of money, around average stack):
I chose to fold in this spot. Given the raise and reraise, even assuming the big stack button doesn't go aggro re-shove, the original raise is likely to call, and at best, I'm probably facing a race against at least one of the two previous raisers, and quite possibly a higher PP against the other (or a lower PP, in which case I'm still racing one player). I put the UTG raiser on eithier AK or a medium PP, the reraiser on at least TT. Unless both have AK, my JJ is not okay, so to speak. If I'm looking at QQ, the decision becomes much tougher. If I play the hand and win, I'm in a final table chip position (but still pre-bubbleburst), but if my read is correct, losing this pot leaves me an effective M of about seven or eight, and vulnerable to having to play pushmonkey shove with the next couple of orbits on a less than optimal hand.
I didn't necessarily like the fold, but it really wasn't that difficult. I didn't get a screenshot of the rest of the hand, and have no idea how it turned out, but I think the fold was probably +EV long term, but only given the stack sizes and positions.
Second Hand (just past the bubble, slightly below average chips):
The general consensus seemed to be suggesting a shove, and I agree. Calling here is bad, and just about any reasonable raise either makes me pot-committed, or folding post-flop, leaving a true microstack. The flat call by MP seems scary, but this looks as good a spot to chip up big time for a final table run, or go home. As played:
I really think the only viable option here was the shove. If I get folds from the blinds, original raiser, and flat caller, I gain roughly 40% on my stack without a flop. It's not going to look like a re-steal, but I don't really mind a call. I was ready to double up for a final table run, or go home. And one person was willing to oblige:
And we're off to the races! Frankly, when he turned over TT, I was pleased, because I knew I had to be up against at least a mid PP, and TT was pretty much at the bottom of the range of hands I'd face. Seeing something like AQs would have thrilled me, but this was late enough in the tourney that I don't think 2nd to act is going to flat call an UTG raiser with a hand like AQ. That said, I'm surprised he called, as his spot with TT was somewhat similar to my JJ in the previous hand. He was only in for 10% of his stack, and could have found a better spot. The only reasonable conclusion for me is that he did put me on a steal attempt. Anyway, this is how it played out:
Thank goodnees he wasn't fishy enough to be playing AQ in that spot, eh?
Third Hand (final table bubble, 10th of 10 remaining):
This hand seems to be the only one of the three that engendered any real level of disagreement amongst responders. A bit more than half would have instacalled, suggesting you're playing for Top 3 payouts, not just to make the final table, whereas the rest would have mucked, recognizing that just one more spot would double the payout, when previous action in the hand makes that a distinct possibility. I chose to fold, again thinking that I was facing at least one A-something hand and one pocket pair, at best, and possibly even two pocket pairs. This was the toughest fold to make, because winning this pot would have given me stack a real chance to finish top three. However, my read (one PP, one A) was correct:
Frankly, I have to thank the AQx donk for calling, because I was ready to mash "call" when it was just the UTG raiser. Five-handed, you can steal from any position, and I wasn't folding AKs to any raiser. But with the button calling off 3/5 of his stack in that spot, the fold felt right. If stack sizes had been different, I probabaly call, but it just goes to show that folks will make really fucking stoopid calls with less than optimal hands, even on a final table bubble. In this case, the donkey inadvertently saved me....
...but only for a moment, as I went out the next hand open shoving 98s into the BB's JJ.