There were 34 players tonight that showed up to play.  With the bad weather, winter storm warning, a number of us were talking beforehand and we all thought that there would be less. 

I start out at table 8 seat 6 and see an interesting array of players.  Seats 1 and 2 are very passive.  Seat 3’s open.  Seat 4 is a solid player that is capable of winning any given week.  Seat 5 is the chip up or chip out guy that won week two.  Seat 7 is an older guy that has been very tight in the past.  Seat 8 is Dave.  Seat 9 is open and seat 10 is a tight player.

The first hand I’m involved in is… the first hand of the night.  It folds to me in the CO and I look down at AK and make a standard raise to 150.  The button folds and so does Dave.  As he’s mucking, he says to me, “Go ahead and show me the 27.”  I replied that I would have, if I had it, and he then said that he’d give me a buck if I did.

The next hand I’m involved in is a couple hands later.  Seat 5 limps in (his first hand as he was late) and I look down at AQ and decide to make a standard raise to 200.  Says to me, “Already?” and calls my raise.  The flop comes K 8 5 and he checks.  I reach down to grab the chips for my bet and just as I get the 250 in my hand that I’m going to put into the pot, he mucks, so I take down another one.

The blinds now go up to 50/100 and I pick up AQ and make a standard raise to 250 that gets called by seat 10.  The flop comes K/rag/rag and knowing that he’s a tight player, I decide to make a c-bet of 325.  If he doesn’t have a K, he’ll muck and if he calls or raises, he’s got a K and I can then get out of the hand.  He mucks and I take down another one.

The blinds now go up to 100/200 and I pick up JJ in the BB.  Seat 7 open-limps?!  This is sounding off every alarm bell that I have.  I’ve seen him do this 3 times now (once earlier tonight when he had AA on an A high flop get beat by seat 4’s short-stack straight flush, as seat 4 lost a big hand to Dave’s AA earlier) and on an earlier week with AA and KK.  It folds to seat 5 that completes, imagine that.  If it were anyone else at the table, it’s an easy raise for me, but with him limping, I decide the best decision is to check and see the flop because I could very easily be behind.  The flop comes Q/rag/rag.  Both seat 5 and me check and seat 7 fires out an almost pot-sized bet that takes it down.  He may have had a Q, but my guess is that he had KK or even AA again.

I now end up in a very interesting hand on Dave’s button.  Seats 1 and 2 limp (imagine that) and seat 4 goes to raise, except that instead of putting out 400 or more, puts out 250!?  He wanted to raise, but didn’t put out enough chips and never said 'raise', so he takes back the greens and it goes in as a call.  I look at my cards and see AK of hearts.  Almost always in this situation, I’m going to make a standard raise (which here would be a large bet due to all the limpers), except that with seat 4 having already wanted to raise and screwed up, if I do raise, I’m most likely getting 3-bet shoved on by him, as a 3-bet would absolutely pot-commit him.  Without a made hand, I decide the best play here is to sandbag my hand a bit and limp behind.  We see a 6-way flop of K Q 7.  It folds around to me (surprised that seat 4 didn’t bet) and I lead out for 650, a bit more than half the pot.  It folds to Dave, that goes into the tank.  Knowing he’s tanking here, he’s got some part of the board or maybe an OESD and is trying to figure out if someone else is going to call to give him the odds to draw.  He decides to muck and it folds to seat 4 and now he goes into the tank.  He decides to muck and show a Q.  As I muck my cards and start stacking my chips, Dave tells me to remember this hand.  We’re nearing break and I’m sure he wanted to bring it up to me at break, which we do and I find out that he had a suited K with a bad kicker and wanted to know if I had a K.  We’re now down to 30 players left and ours is the table that breaks. 
I now go to table 5 seat 3 and see that I picked a pretty bad seat card, as there are 5 solid opps at the table.  I don’t play any hands before break and I hit break with 4725 chips from my starting stack of 4k.

The second hour starts and the antes kick in.  The first hand I’m involved in is from the BB.  There are a few limpers and I look down at QT and check.  The flop comes 9 9 J and it’s checked around.  The turn is another J and it checks around again.  The river is a K and seat 2 leads out for 750.  Yes, he could have a full house, but I’ve also seen this player make a very similar play with both an A and pairing the higher card in the past and I’m ahead of those.  I decide to flat him as there are too many chips in the pot to not make him show a full house.  However, seat 7 now raises (which I know he’s only doing with a J) and seat 2 shoves over his bet.  This makes it now an easy muck for me, as they flip over the two jacks.  Most opps, I’m mucking the river there initially, but I thought it was worth the 750 due to the previous plays I’ve seen seat 2 make and show.

After this hand, I go totally card dead the rest of this level and also all of the next level, 200/400/50.  The only hand I saw here that could have been playable was ATo, but had a raise and two shoves before me and AT is not strong enough to call with that prior action.

The blinds now go up to 300/600/75 and the entire first orbit, I never saw a card above a 6, with no pairs and no suited connectors. 

It now gets to my BB and UTG raises to 1900 (I’ve got 1300 behind).  It folds to me and here’s my read on UTG.  I have seen them involved in a number of hands the first four weeks.  He raises anything marginal and slowplays all big pairs (which was his downfall in two of the prior weeks).  Due to his raise, while big pairs are in his range, I’m discounting them and am putting him on a small/mid pair or larger suited connectors.  I decide to call with my KJ clubs and he flips over 88, so the race is on.  The board comes out with a Q and four low cards, so I’m out in 22nd.

With playing all nine of the qualifying weeks, I get to drop my three worst scores, so I’m putting this one into the drop column… I hope.  It will be interesting to see the standings when they come out tomorrow, as I want to see how many above me missed tonight, as I’d then possibly be able to pass them with the bonus points for playing every week, as I’d really like to get into the top 10 and avoid the semi-finals if at all possible.  I’m in a good position to do it, but need another deep run in the last four weeks.

Dave on the other hand won’t have to worry about it, because even though he was a shorter stack when I got ko’d and left, told me when I got home, that he SHIPPED IT!  Winning this week, along with his two other deep runs, basically means that he’s a lock for the top 10 as long as he shows up the next four weeks.

Hopefully the pattern we have going holds for me next week, as one of us has been at every single final table so far.  Dave has a final table on all of the odd numbered weeks (win, second and fourth) and I’ve got a final table on all the even numbered weeks (eighth and fifth).