Sure math says it's a pair and pairs have little advantage over AK but it's still coin flip. The thing is, AK is a monster when it comes to cruicial moments when there's 4-5 bets or shoves. I believe most players would pick AK instead of low pairs in a 6-9 table games mostly. You can play this hand like AA or KK but usually you can't go that crazy with low pairs. As far as I saw people (I mean professionals mostly) play millions of dollars pot holding AK. You won't often see someone do that with low pairs. I've seen a lot of players call 3-way allin with AK where most people fold TT/below pairs. Also in a full table tourneys, those low pairs are fold usually in early/mid positions. I've never seen anyone folds AK preflop without any action (except bubble positions or multi-way allins). Now you decide which is stronger.
I do like 33 but the problem is that its a low pair and you're just not sure if that set of 3 is going to come to make that pair 33 more comfortable. But then again with AK none of those cards might not show up.
The biggest difference between having the 33 or the AK is:
If you hold the 33, you have to worry for all 5 flop cards.
If you hold the AK, you have to hope for all 5 flop cards.
For myself, I much prefer to hope rather than worry... and for this reason I always want the AK instead of the 33, even tho I fully understand the 33 is actually a slight favorite over the AK, preflop all-in. This is why I am never afraid to shove all-in with just AK, because it is a hopeful shove. I won't do it every time, for instance it is very stupid to shove all-in during first level of the tournament at 10-20 blinds when we have 35,000 chip starting stack. But if it is a "reasonable" shove, then I have no worry shoving AK, I only have hope!
Much depends on the stage of the tournament. In the early stages, AK is not played by an allin. In the later ones with a small stack, yes. In the middle stage of your choice. And yes, it seems to me that you won me with 33 against AK in the middle stage of the tournament.))