Today started out with 30 players at 4 tables in the semi-finals.  The reason that we had four tables was that 33 were eligible, but only 30 showed up.  I was at table 6, seat 10.  The field plays down to 10 that will transfer to the finals, so I’m wondering how many actually know how satellite play differs from a standard tournament.  It doesn’t matter how many chips you have when the number of players is reached, only that you’ve got a chip and a chair. 

The blinds start out at 25/50 and I’m getting a few marginal hands, but always from early position and due to this, I didn’t make a standard opening bet.  Being patient worked here, as it avoided a couple of really sticky spots early on.  The first big hand doesn’t involve me, as I mucked J2o.  Seat 4 makes a standard raise, that is 3-bet by seat 8 (one of the strongest players in the semis).  The flop comes 9 4 J with two hearts.  Seat 4 leads, seat 8 shoves and is snap-called!  Seat 8 shows bullets and seat 4 turns over pocket 4’s.  The turn is a blank, but the river is the ace of hearts.  This could create a serious problem for me as seats 5 and 8 have picked up a good number of chips and are my two toughest opponents at the table. 

The first playable hand that I see is, of all things, pocket 5’s.  However, seat 4 shoves her short stack and there are not one, but 2 callers, seats 5 and 8.  I know seat 8 to be tight, so know he’s got a real hand.  Into the muck my 5’s go.  Good thing too, as seat 4 flopped trip 9’s to beat seat 8’s KK.

The blinds go up and another table loses someone, so at least I don’t have to worry about being dead last... always a good thing.   When I’m UTG, I pick up the first hand that I get to actually make a bet with, AQ diamonds and raise to 300.  I’m called by seat 5 and the BB.  The flop comes Q 5 2.  I make a c-bet of 450, they both fold and I take down a pot.  That was it for that blind level, as the rest of my hands were awful.

The blinds now go to 100/200 and we consolidate to 3 tables.  The players that we pick up, I know one to be one of the best players in the semis (seat 1), a loose/passive luckbox (seat 2) and a total unknown in seat 9.  You’d think that after nine weeks, I’d have played with everyone, but there were a handful that I had not, so I had no read on them.  I guess that for an unknown, the seat to my right is the best place for them.  During this level, I find out that the player is extremely tight/passive.  The only remotely playable hand that I see is QJs from the button, but there is a raise, 3-bet and 4-bet in front of me, so needless to say, those are going straight into the muck.  I end the first hour with just under the starting stack, 3850.

The second hour starts and I’m still really, really card dead.  With antes now kicking in, I’m hoping that I can find a couple hands to play, if not a situation to steal a blind or two.  The first chance I get is my button.  It folds around to me and since I know seat 1’s seen me be pretty tight before, I don’t have to worry about him playing back at me without a premium hand.  The key is the loose cannon in seat 2.  He’s got a stack, so I figure he may call a bit more often, but so far he has seemed to be pretty much in line, which is different than the three times I’d played with him before.  I look down at J8s, raise to 500, and take down a pot when both fold.   An orbit goes by until my next button, when there is a limp from seat 5.  I look down at AK and make a raise to 700.  They all fold and I take down another one.  Seat 2 must have really had trash, because I thoroughly expected him to play back at me after I stole his blind last orbit.

The blinds now go up to 300/600/50.  The shorter stacks now have to shove and I think someone must have gone into my deck and took out the aces and face cards.  Two whole orbits and didn’t see a one of them, nor even suited cards.  It’s even worse when you’re a shorter stack to begin with.  We now get down to 20 and consolidate tables again, just before the blinds go up.

Now we’re at 400/800/75 and I’m looking for ANY opportunity to chip-up.  I’m ahead of some stacks, but not 10 players.  As I get down to just under 3k chips, the other table loses two players and I get nominated by the floor to switch tables.  So, with 17 left, I’m now at table 5 seat 2.  This table has three tight/passive players, the tightest player in the semis and THREE unknowns.  I’m right in the middle of the unknowns too, as they’re in seats 1, 3 and 4.  I’m getting desperate to find a way to double up now, and when I get to the button, here’s a shot.  I pick up AQ and needless to say, with 3BB, I’m all in.  Both blinds muck and I pick up a badly needed pot.  Two players now bust, so we’re down to 15 left. 

The next orbit, I’m back to card hell.  No aces, no face cards, no suited, nada, not even a steal opportunity, so my stack’s dwindling, as I lose an entire orbit’s chips.  I get to the blinds a second time and see 38o in the BB with plenty of action in front of me, so I muck it.  The SB brings the tank hand (27o) and an all-in and call in front of me, so it’s a muck too.  It folds to me on the button and I look down at A9 of clubs, so needless to say, here’s all-in number two.   The SB gets out of the way and the BB goes into the tank for a minute, and calls with 48o.  The flop comes A 5 6.  It can’t just be easy, can it?  I flop my ace, but now have to sweat a 7.  Turn is a K.  River is a 3, so I double up again.  Two hands later, I pick up AK and as the short-stack, it’s time for all-in number 3.  Everyone mucks, so I pick up some badly needed chips. 

Break hits and I have 3525 chips, with 14 left and the button.  I do however, win 75 chips at break, as while the green chips are taken out of play, my one turns into the 9 of diamonds, which is the highest card out there for the race (8 cards out there and my 9 wins, go figure!).

The blinds now go up to 500/1000/100, which puts a large number of the players left in jeopardy of getting knocked-out.  My next play is from UTG+1 when I look down at 77.  Here goes all-in number 4.  Everyone mucks and I pick up some more chips.   The next orbit is awful.  The best hand I had was dime store (T5o), so had to muck everything, including the blinds.  We’re now down to 13 left as the other table loses one.  I’m looking for anything at all, anything to pick up some chips with, but all that I’m getting are total trash hands.  I’m waiting and waiting and waiting for one.

This isn’t what I want to see, but the blinds now go up to 600/1200/200.  I’m still totally card dead and can’t even find a +EV play anywhere, but one player gets knocked-out, so we’re down to 12 left.  I finally can’t wait any longer.  I’ve got 1400 chips left and it’s my BB, so I’m all in whether I like it or not.  It folds around to the SB (second shortest stack at my table) that calls and flips over 6 10 off.  Since I don’t look at my cards until it’s my turn to act, I have no clue what I have, but am pleasantly surprised when I see A 10!  That’s the best hand I’ve seen in what seems ages and gets even better when an A flops.  I more than double-up and survive all-in number 5. 

One player busts, so it’s now down to hand-by-hand and bubble time (although for me, it’s been about an hour of high pressure bubble-time!).  The next orbit is total trash for me, so every hand is an easy muck, including the blinds.  The other short-stack at my table just has me covered now, due to getting a set of blinds folded to him.  We’re the two shortest left, so it looks like I’m going to need another one.  UGH!  I find myself with A6 spades from the HJ and here goes all-in number six!  The BB calls and flips over Q7o.  This time, I didn’t get an A, as the flop comes 3 9 J.  The turn is an 8 and the river is a K.  Ace high wins!   I’m now about even with the other short stack at my table, but I get to hear all-in, call, call and call at the other table.  The short-stack busts, so although I don’t have many chips, I transfer to the finals!!!!!

There are about 30 minutes in-between when the semis ended and when the finals start, so I get a badly needed Mountain Dew break.  That last 90 minutes was about as stressful as it could have been.

The seats for the final are drawn and I end up at table 6, seat 6.  Seat 10 was a lucky one for me, since that’s where I started the semis and it now has a very familiar face in it, Dave.  Since this is going to be the final table, I’m hoping I can stay in this seat long enough to see it.  There is over $9000 in the prize pool that pays the top 5 finishers.

We start out and I’m right back at being card dead.  I keep seeing everyone else and the board with face cards and aces, but you sure can’t tell they exist from what I’m seeing.  The first and third blind levels, I don’t even get to see a flop.  What’s up with that?!  The only hand that I am even involved in the first hour is at the 50/100 blind level as I get J 10s from the SB and see a 4-way flop.  The flop is J 10 8 with two diamonds.  Here’s where things get tricky.  I lead out and there’s action out of turn as seat 8 hadn’t acted, seat 4 calls and set 5 raises.  Seat 8 says he wants to raise.  Well, while top two pair is a decent hand, I’m not staying with it on this type of board and these two players wanting to raise.  The turn is a key card, as it's an A.  Seat 5 shows 97 and seat 8 shows KQ diamonds.  I end the first hour with 2825 chips.  Definitely, not the start that I wanted to see.

The second hour starts and the antes kick in.  Unfortunately, the real cards are everywhere but in my hand.  No aces, no face cards, nothing suited… here we go again.  I’m being as patient as I can be and finally pick up AQ and make a standard opening raise to 500 (2.5BB), getting a couple callers.  The flop is Q high and I lead out for 800 and finally get to scoop in a pot.  I wish I could say more, but that’s it for me at this blind level.   However, the one good thing to see is that Dave is winning some pots and is accumulating a decent sized stack.

The blinds now go up to 200/400/50 and I’m still not picking up much for cards.  I do finally see A 10 off, but see a raise and a shove in front of me, so that goes into the muck too as seat 5 busts.  We’re starting to lose some players and pick up a new player into seat 5.  He knows me to be tighter and sees me with not many chips, so I’m expecting him to play looser when I’m in the blinds.

The blinds now go up to 300/600/75 and I’m right back into the same situation that I was in the semis.  Let’s find a place to shove my short stack.  The first one is with AJ.  I’m called by one player with of all hands, AJ.  The board runs out heart, heart, diamond, heart, heart.  I’ve got the J of hearts, so instead of a chop, I win the pot!  I pick up garbage for an orbit, then have the SB complete into my BB.  I look down at AK and shove again.  The SB goes into Hollywood mode and mucks.  I made it through the second all-in.  Round 3 is in my next BB.  He completes again and I look down at 66.  All-in again!  This time he calls and flips over AQ, so the race is on.  The board brings a K and a J, but not an A nor Q, so I double up again!!!

We get a bust and the tables now combine for the FINAL TABLE!  We redraw seats and I go to seat 8, Dave’s in seat 7.  Between now and the break, I’m not involved in any hands, but seat 10 busts leaving 9 of us.  I have 4800 chips at break, which will be under 5BB since the blinds are going up to 500/1k/100. 

At break a number of the players are talking about a chop.  The big stack has about 17BB, another has 16BB, Dave’s third at about 12BB and I’m sitting with the second lowest stack.  The deal starts out with some talking about $1k minimum, then it goes to $900 min.  Dave says he won’t take less than $1k, so the $900 numbers are out.  We settle on $1000 minimum for all, with the big stacks splitting the $300 and change.  We also decided to all throw in $20 per person to play it out for $180.   Who’d have thought, I short-stack both tourneys for about 7 hours and walk away with $1000!!!!!!

Since I’m getting $1000, I’m obviously saying, forget ladder climbing or trying to get ITM, I need a spot to get chips to try and win the other $180.  The first action hand takes one player out, but decimates the second largest stack.   I look down at A9 spades and that definitely qualifies for a shove considering I’m losing over 2/3 my stack in the next couple hands if I don’t go.  The short-stack then goes all-in and Dave goes into the tank… and calls.  UH OH!  I didn’t necessarily mind the shorty’s shove, but Dave’s call is BIG trouble.  The shorty shows KK and Dave turns over QQ.  There isn’t an A on the board, so since I had the shorty covered by 200 chips, Dave gets bragging rights for knocking me out.

While it would have been nice to be playing for a WSOP-ME seat, since the prize pool didn’t get to $10k which would allow the casino to award a seat, I’ll be more than happy to walk away with $1000.