This sort of thing happens far, far, far too often.
This is a scheduled MTT. 125 folks are vying for 27 prizes. That's right - one chance in three.
What? I bought in before I figured that out. :)
Anyway, let's take a look at this hand:
Full Tilt Poker Game #_: $75 Token Frenzy (_), Table 5 - 20/40 - No Limit Hold'em - 16:55:20 ET - 2008/10/25
Seat 1: (1,290)
Seat 2: (1,950)
Seat 3: (1,770)
Seat 4: (1,395)
Seat 5: (1,440)
Seat 6: (1,375)
Seat 7: (5,245)
Seat 8: hero (1,560)
Seat 9: (1,835)
Seat 9 posts the small blind of 20
Seat 1 posts the big blind of 40
The button is in seat #8
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to hero [Ts 4c]
Seat 2 folds
Seat 3 folds
Seat 4 folds
Seat 5 raises to 1,440, and is all in
Seat 6 folds
Seat 7 folds
Seat 9 folds
Seat 1 calls 1,250, and is all in
Seat 5 shows [7c 7s]
Seat 1 shows [Qh Ah]
Uncalled bet of 150 returned to Seat 5
*** FLOP *** [As Js Kc]
*** TURN *** [As Js Kc] [4d]
*** RIVER *** [As Js Kc 4d] [7d]
Seat 5 shows three of a kind, Sevens
Seat 1 shows a pair of Aces
Seat 5 wins the pot (2,600) with three of a kind, Sevens
Seat 1 stands up
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 2,600 | Rake 0
Board: [As Js Kc 4d 7d]
Seat 1: (big blind) showed [Qh Ah] and lost with a pair of Aces
Seat 2: didn't bet (folded)
Seat 3: didn't bet (folded)
Seat 4: didn't bet (folded)
Seat 5: showed [7c 7s] and won (2,600) with three of a kind, Sevens
Seat 6: didn't bet (folded)
Seat 7: didn't bet (folded)
Seat 8: hero (button) didn't bet (folded)
Seat 9: (small blind) folded before the Flop
Come on now. You're seriously going to flip a coin with 7s (after all, with pocket 7s, you're likely at best a coin-flip against any hand that can call) on a tournament that's one-in-three? Really?
The big question here is, what do you do with AQ? It's for sure that the donkey opposite wouldn't bet 30 big blinds with a really premium hand. So you're either up against a weaker ace or a small pair or perhaps even dog crap. In other words, the AQ is at worst a coin flip.
But fundamentally, even though your opponent has forced you into a decision like that, I can see both sides. If it were a cash game, you'd be +EV to call, but this is a tournament. If you fold AQ in that spot, you do so only because you don't want to risk the entire tournament on a single early coin flip against a maniac.
How should that hand have gone?
The 7s should have either made a normal raise or limped with the expectation of ether flopping a set or folding. Whether you raise pre-flop or not depends on your playing style. The AQ would have either re-raised or called, depending on his playing style. The 7s would have flat-called the re-raise if it happened. The flop would have come and if there was no re-raise pre-flop, the 7s would have perhaps continuation-bet and the AQ raised, or the 7s would have checked and the AQ bet. The 7s would have folded and the AQ would have taken down a pot with maybe 300 chips in it, but both stacks lived to see the next hand.