There were 44 players that showed up tonight, which is surprising since the first week normally gets the most players.  It's a welcomed sight though, as we need to average mid 40's for the prize in the finals to be a WSOP ME seat and not have it be a cash league like the last one turned into.  If there isn't $10k in the prize pool, it will turn into a cash league. 

I start off at table 8 seat 5 and look at a bunch of familiar faces.  Seven of the other players were either at my starting table last week or were in the bounty tournament two weeks ago with me.  It was definitely NOT a good seat draw, as I think I had the toughest starting table.  The night starts off quickly, as I'm involved in three hands early.  Two of them were failed attempts to setmine with 77 and 55 (I'm happy to limp behind into a family pot) and one hand where I saw a flop free from the BB with 85 that ended up with an A K Q flop.  That's it for the first level.

The blinds now go up to 50/100 and I pick up AQs UTG and make an opening raise to 250.  I get a call from seats 1 (league tourney reg that is a good player) and 2 (the lone opp I don't have any info about at all).  The flop comes A J 4 with two clubs.  I make a 600 chip c-bet.  Seat 1 tanks, then mucks but I'm called by seat 2.  The turn is the 6 of hearts and I lead for 800.  The opp tanks for about a minute and calls again.  The river is the 4 of clubs, so now I'm beat by a flush or a 4.  I fire the third barrel for 1k and the opp goes into the tank again and after about two minutes mucks.  From what I saw the opp show later on, he either missed a broadway draw or had Jx, as he called down a pot with A/rag.

Now for something that I hadn't seen before.  We're playing (I'm mucking some trash hands) and I look up and notice that the tournament clock has stopped.  After playing another two hands, all the tables stop so that the computer system for the tourney clocks that also tracks the cash tables can be reset.    During the extra break, I tell Dave that I'm up a few chips and that he's somewhere near even, maybe down a few chips.  They finally get the clock restarted and we resume play about 15 min later and I go back to being card dead, so didn't play another hand at this level.

The blinds now go up to 100/200 and I pick up 77 on the button and decide to go setmining into a family pot.  The board comes 2 3 3 and when it checks to me, I decide that it's a pretty good board to take a shot at as all the high cards have missed, so I bet 600 and get one caller (seat 1).  The turn is a second two and the opp checks.  I check behind for pot-control because I know I'm either miles ahead or crushed.  The river is a 6 and the opp leads out for 700.  I had seen him in the past lead out on two paired boards with an A and with an overpair, so I decide that since I've got an overpair to the board, I'm calling.  The opp flips over 24s and I muck my sevens. 

The only other hand at this level that I am involved in is from mid position when I pick up AK, make a standard open to 500 and everyone mucked.  Just before the first hour is over, we're down to 40 left and my table breaks.  I move to table 3 seat 3 and end the first hour with 5125 chips from my 4k starting stack.

The second hour starts and here come the antes.  The first orbit, I think they took the aces and faces out of the deck, as I didn't see a single one of them.  The next time I'm in the BB, a short stack raises to 625 and it folds to me.  I look down at AK and raise to 1500.  The opp shoves the rest of her 1800 chips into the pot.  I call and she shows A9 diamonds.  I avoid the nines and win the hand. 

Two hands later I pick up pocket 10's, make a standard open to 500 and take down another pot.

The blinds now go up to 300/600/75.  There are two key hands for me at this level.  The first is on the same orbit as the pocket 10's hand when I'm UTG+1.  UTG, a tighter player,  makes an opening raise to 3300.  I've seen him make abnormally large raises twice already and in both hands he showed AA.  I look down at AK and into the tank I go.  If I play the hand, I'm basically going to be all-in and if he has AA or even KK here, I'm in DEEP TROUBLE!  After a couple minutes, I muck.  It folds back around to him and sure enough, he flips over AA.  Against the overwhelming majority of the players, I'm 3-bet shoving there, but I'm glad that I listened to my gut and read on it.

The next hand is the orbit before break.  It folds to me in the hijack and I look down at AA and make a standard raise to 1500 that is called by the BB.  The flop comes A 8 4 and when the opp checks to me, I make a 2k c-bet that is snap-called.  The turn is a J and the opp checks again.  Well, the previouis bets have already made me totally pot committed, so I shove.  The opp now goes into the tank.  I've put just over 1/2 my stack in already, so shoving the turn shouldn't have been a surprise.  After a couple minutes, he mucks (later told me he had pocket 10's).  Too bad that J wasn't a 10 or he'd have easily doubled me.  When we hit the second break, I'm sitting at 6500 chips.

The blinds now go up to 500/1k/100 and the first hand doesn't go so well for me.  I'm on the button and look down at KJ spades and open for 2500.  The BB, someone that I have no history with,  looks at his cards and snap-shoves.  With just under 1/2 the field still in, I decide to muck and see if I can do some ladder climbing.  It's a good thing, as those bullets were still flying around that table!  A couple hands later, we're down to 20 and my table is again the one to break.

I draw my new seat and I'm going to table 5 and end up in the worst seat possible at the table.  When playing, you want to have the aggressive and better players to your right and the tighter passive players to your left.  That absolutely isn't happening here.  To my immediate left is some guy named Dave and directly to his left is a very solid player that I've played in all three leagues with and also seen at the WSOP Circuit events I've been in.  Having the two best opps at the table on my left is about as bad a seat draw as I can get.  Plus, since I lost the 2500 on the first hand after break, now I'm short-stacked.  I'm now into bigtime ladder climbing mode, as I'm not picking up anything for cards, which is not good with high blinds and antes.

I'm looking for a spot to shove and I'm just getting nothing for cards.  When we get down to 17 players left (ironically since I went out 17th last week), I'm in the BB and have a whole whopping 900 chips behind when someone raises.  It folds around to me and with the amount of chips in the pot already, I'm priced in for absolutely any 2 cards, so I call blind and flip over 4 5 hearts.  I'm against two overcards (Q7), but at least I've got some equity with a suited connector.  The flop comes 7 8 x.  The turn.... SIX!  I more than double up and get a bit more time to try to find another hand to shove with (and hope some others bust so I can ladder climb). 

An orbit later, we're up to 600/1200/200 on Dave's BB and I get two limpers in front of me (a new player that I don't know and the 24s guy in the seat to my right).  I look down at pocket 6's and figure that my best play is to shove and to try to isolate Dave, as he's priced in for ATC, just like I was a few hands ago.  I shove.  Dave, getting tremendous pot odds due to the limpers, blinds and antes, goes all-in.  I expected that, but did NOT expect what was about to happen.  Not one, but BOTH of the limpers call.  While playing 66 here heads-up against Dave's range is a +EV play with the chips already in the pot,  playing it into a 4-handed pot is definitely NOT what I wanted to happen.  I'm going to be up against most likely at least 4 overcards, if not six overcards or a higher pair.  The flop is a total brick for me, but the seat to my right bets out 2400.  I'm assuming that he hit a part of the flop, which means that I'm in deep trouble with 2 outs.  The other opp gets out of the way and when the cards are flipped over, I see what I figured, I'm behind his flopped pair.  However, what comes on the turn.... a SIX!  I more than quadruple up and knockout Dave in the process (he'll still get a good number of league points).  I definitely got lucky in this hand, as if I knew I'd have ended up in a 4-way pot, I'd have mucked the sixes in a heartbeat.

Now that I have a good stack of chips, I'm going to be looking for spots to use them and maybe take out another player or two.  However, at this table, it doesn't happen, as I go back to being card dead.  We're now down to 11 left and when a player busts at the other table, we stop play and move to table 6 for the final table.  We draw for seats and I end up in seat 3.  

The blinds now go up to 1k/2k/300 and while I've got a good number of chips, with these blind levels, they'll eat away at a stack quick if you don't pick up some cards.  Unfortunately, I only get to play one hand at this level, as I pick up AK, make a raise to 4500 and take it down preflop.  There are a number of short stack shoves at this level and the bigstacks are not winning the hands, so three of the short stacks double.  However, just before the blinds go up, one player busts, so there are now nine left.

The blinds now go up to 2k/4k/400.  This is really expensive, especially considering that we only started the tourney with 4k.  Another player now busts, so there are 8 left.  I'm looking for any spot to be able to shove or find a +EV play.  In the BB, there are 2 shoves before me and I look down at 29o, so that's a muck along with another shorty doubling.  In the SB, there is a raise and I look down at 3 10 off, so that's a muck.  

On the button, it folds to me and I look down at A6o.  First ace I've seen, so I shove my 6200 into the pot.  The SB asks for a chip count, counts out the needed chips, calls and flips over A 10.  The flop comes 7 8 7 and the turn is a 9.  Instead of my three sixes as outs, those are now counterfeited as the opp will have a straight, however, I can now win with a 5 or a 10, giving me seven outs.  Unfortunately, I whiff the river and am out in 8th. 

While it would have been nice to pick up a hand at the final table to get me to 4th and ITM, my 8th is still worth a good number of league points, especially since there were more people tonight than last week.  I haven't gotten ITM, like Dave did last week, but with an 8th and 17th already in the books, I've got two keeper scores as we keep our best 6 of the 9 qualifying weeks.  That's tons better than I stared in the last league where I wanted to toss both of my first two weeks.  I'll put a comment in later tomorrow when the standings come out as to where we stand.