Well, new year, new goals.  Since I'm already qualified for the semi-finals, I now get to forget about ladder climbing.  The last three qualifying weeks, it's ITM or bust.  No being conservative and playing for league points, I'm out to try to win some cash (and the league points for a win) by taking every +EV spot that I can find.

We start off with 39 players and the blinds at 25/50. 

The third hand, I have seat 4 to my right open-limp, then I look down at two bullets (keep in mind that I've already had QQ and KK blow up on me in this league series) and make a standard raise that is called by seat 10 (smart LAG) and the limper.  The flop is 9 4 4.  The limper checks and I bet 325 (hoping that the lag hit a 9 or has two overcards).  I'm snap-called by seat 9 and the limp/caller goes away.  The turn is a rainbow 2.  I lead out 550 and am once again snap-called by seat 10.  The river is a Q, so the only thing that can beat me is a 4 or a full house.  I should have gotten 3-bet preflop by a pocket pair from him (played with him numerous times before), so I need to pick an amount that I think he'll call, but not be scared off by.  I pick 800 and he goes into the tank for a minute and says "I call with top 2 pair".   I flip over my AA and take about 1/2 the stack from the most dangerous player at the table.

The next hand I'm involved in is 2 hands later, my BB.  I have seat 7 (tighter older player) open-limp, then the SB limps.  I look down at AQ and raise to 250.  Both muck and I pick up another pot.

Two hands later when I'm on the button, I get seats 7, 10, 1 and 4 limping.  I look down at KJ and raise to 325.  Everyone folds but seat 4.  The flop is A 9 2 with two clubs and seat 4 checks to me. I make a c-bet of 400 and take down another one.

The last hand of the first orbit, seat 4 limps again and I standard raise with AK.  Everyone folds but seat 4.  The flop comes 8 6 2 and the opp leads into me for 250, so I muck and give him the flop.  I've now played more hands the first orbit than I did one of the other weeks (and I was in that tournament for well over an hour)!!! 

When the BB gets to me, the blinds go up to 50/100 and I'm not slowing down one bit.  I get two limpers (seats 8 and 2), look down at 66 and raise to 425.  Mark up another pot for me.  

I do fold the next few hands, then pick up 33 from MP with two limpers in front of me and decide to call to setmine.  I see the flop 6-ways and don't get a 3, so I muck when the betting starts going wild on an AK9 flop.

When the BB gets to me, I get a walk with my 39o.  Then, on the button, it folds to me and decide I'm raising regardless of what I have and look down at 48s.  My standard raise here takes down another one.  

The table now starts getting more active, as we've got two really short stacks, so since I'm not getting cards, I'm not involved in any more hands at this level.

The blinds now go up to 100/200 and I've got to have one of the top stacks by now.  The first hand I'm involved in is my BB when the SB limped.  I've got two trash cards and check.  The flop is a rainbow 2 7 J and the SB checks to me.  I bet 250 and is called by the opp.  The turn is an A and the opp checks again.  I decide to fire another barrel and put out 425.  The opp mucks and I take down another one.   

We get to the last hand before break and I've almost doubled my starting stack and not even noticing break is coming am on the button with a limp and raise to 600 by seat 4 in front of me.  I look down at AT clubs and call behind.  The BB and seat 1 (initial limper) come along too.  The flop is A 10 6 and it checks to me.  I fire out 875 that is called by seats 1 and 4.  The turn is the 4 of spades, that puts a spade flush draw out there.  It checks to me and I bet 1500 that makes seat 1 muck, but is called by seat 4.  The river is a red 3 and now seat 4 bets 2100 into me.  With over 10k in the pot, there's absolutely no way I'm mucking top 2 pair here, so my decision is to call or shove.  The way the opp had been playing was that he was limping low pairs, broadways and suited connectors and raising all of his aces and better pairs.  66 didn't make sense, as I thought he'd limp pre with it and he was smart enough to fold 44 or 33 on the flop as he would only have 2 outs.  That leaves 10's and Ax and I've got blockers to both.  I decide just to call and of all things to flip over.... the opp shows AA!  Instead of me being the overwhelming chip leader with over 10% of the chips in play within the first hour, I'm now down to just under 10BB at break.  I'm actually glad that the opp didn't bet the flop or turn, because I'd have raised for sure and if that was the case, he easily stacks me.

We come back from break and the antes kick in.  The first orbit... muck, repeat, see step 1.  The shortest stacks are shoving and I'm 100% card dead.  No aces, no facecards, no pairs, nada.  The second orbit goes and I've still got nothing.  I get into the BB and have seat 2 that is a shorter stack that just has me covered raise to 600.  It folds to me and I look down at A7s.  Needless to say, as the table shortstack, I can do tons worse than being heads-up with a suited A, so I shove and am called by seat 2... that flips over AK.  OOPS!  There are no 7's on the board and only one spade, so I'm out.  What place I went out in is a mystery.  I think I was in the low 20's, but the floor told me that there were multiple people that got ko'd and didn't swipe their player's card, so it could have been a bit higher, but... it really doesn't matter since the only thing that would help me is a top 4.

If I can have any week where the cards and odds workout for me, I want it to be the 29th, as that's when the seat's on the line.  Until then, since I'm already in the semis, I'm taking all the chances I can to get some $$ from it.  Yes, I could have ladder climbed with my 8k stack and gotten a better placing, but where I'm at now, I'm going for a top 4 and a win, as any other finish is really irrelevant.