Thirty seven players showed up to play tonight.  I started out at table 7 seat 10 and think that I had a pretty favorable seat draw, as I feel that I had an advantage over a number of the players.

The first hand I’m involved in is my BB.  I get a limp from seat 2 (loose-passive) and then a raise to 225 from seat 3 (ATM from prior weeks).  It folds around to me and I look down at two black aces.  I decide to 3-bet to 700.  Seat 2 tanks for a second and mucks, which I expected with the limp but seat 3 calls, which is not totally unexpected.  I’m putting him on two broadways, weak suited ace or low/mid pair.  The flop comes 2 7 8 and when he checks to me, I bet 1100.  If he has a set, he’s immediately raising, so when he goes into the tank, I know I’m ahead.  After a minute or so, he mucks and I take down my first pot of the night. 

The rest of the first level and the second level are very easy decisions to make.  I keep looking down at garbage, so mucking is very, very easy.  I also see what the most prevalent hands of the night are… Doyle and the tank hand (ten deuce and two seven).

The blinds now go up to 100/200 and it folds to me on the button.  I look down at AK diamonds and make a standard open-raise to 500.  The blinds fold and I take down another one.  Just after scooping in the chips, the floor hands me a rack and I’m off to table 8 seat 3 to balance the tables, starting my night of musical chairs.

When I get to the table, I notice that even though I’m ahead of where I started, there are some really huge stacks at this table (including a previous week’s winner in the seat to my left).  I also see that there are some major hands going on over here.  Straight vs flush.  Flush vs full house.  I’m really glad I’m picking up 27, 37, 49, because it’s real, real easy to get out of their way.  I don’t even get to play a hand at this table, as an orbit later, we’re down to 30 left and table 8 is the first to break.  We draw for seats and I draw table 7 seat 3, so I’m back with the majority of players that I started with.  However, I liked the 10 seat better, as I had one of the most aggressive players in the seat to my right.  I don’t even get to be in a hand and it’s time to go on break.  I’m sitting at 5150 chips, up from my starting stack of 4000.

The second hour starts and the antes now kick in.  When it gets to my BB, I get a limpfest and when I look down at 28o, I gladly check and see a 5-way flop.  The flop comes 8 5 3.  The SB checks and I decide I’m taking my one shot here since I do have top pair and bet 600.  Two of the opps call, so unless I improve, I’m done with the hand, especially when the turn is a K.  I check and get a bet and raise after me, so needless to say, my 8 isn’t good and my cards go into the muck.  This is the only hand that I’m involved in at this blind level.   The rest of them are junk, 27, 38, K2, T2, etc. 

The blinds now go up to 200/400/50 and I’m still not getting anything for cards (three straight Doyle’s).   We are however starting to lose some players and when it gets to my BB, I’m happy to see the floor coming over with racks again, as we’re down to 20 and this table is breaking.  I draw table 5 seat 8 and move there.  This table is a much tougher table than my last one, which means that I’m going to be seeing fewer situations where I can easily steal chips from someone.  That’s a big problem, as I’m getting really short-stacked.

I get to my BB and I’m down to about 2k chips and see an open-limp from seat 5 and then a complete from the SB.  I look down at pocket 10’s and figure this is as good as I’m going to get, so I shove.   Seat 5 gets out of the way quickly, but the SB goes into the tank.  After a minute or two, he mucks then says to me “I don’t think my deuces were any good”.   If he really did have twos, I’d have been more than happy to have him call me.

On my button, it folds around to me and I look down at AK diamonds again and make a standard raise to 1k.  The blinds get out of the way and I take down another one. 

The blinds now go up to 300/600/75 and I’m back to being totally card dead, minus an A8s that I mucked to two shoves.  Players are dropping from the other table and I’m handed a rack again.  Off I go to table 6 seat 2. 

I’m really NOT liking this switch, as the table I go to has the majority of the chips in play and the two largest stacks by far are in the two seats to my left. 

The first orbit, I’m getting junk again, minus my BB when I look down at A6.  However, UTG has already made a raise to 4BB and been 3-bet to 7000 by UTG+1.  Needless to say, ace/rag’s going straight into the muck. 

When it gets to my button, I look down at A8s and when it folds to me, I shove.  The SB gets out of the way and I’m snap-called by the bigstack in the BB that turns over 46o.  The board misses both of us, so I get a badly needed double-up.

I’m card dead the next orbit as we now get down to 14 left.  The hands are going quick, because they’re all being taken down by preflop raises. 

I’m still just about the shortest stack left (which I’ve been for about 30 min now) and when I get to the BB, I have the SB complete.  I look down at AJ and shove.  The SB snap-calls with A9.  The board hits an A on the flop, but the rest is a total brick, so I double up again.

When it gets to my button the next orbit (folded 49 and 2T in the blinds), I look down at AK, shove, and am called by the BB again.  He flips over AQ and when the board runs out low, I double up again.  We’re now down to 11 left as we hit the second break.  I’m still really short in chips, but by lasting until now, I’m definitely increasing my league score, as I get to replace a worse score with this one.  I’ve got just under a starting stack, but I’ve still got a chair.

At break, I do catch a break and win 100 chips, as I won the race when the green chips are taken out of play.  

The blinds are now 500/1k/100 and the third hand I look down at AQs and shove again.  This time, I win the pot without a fight. 

As I get to UTG, the dealer stops, as the other table lost a player, so we’re down to 10 left.  The others come over to our table and we redraw for seats.  I end up in seat 5 and am able to keep the streak that Dave and I have going.  He gets a final table on all of the odd numbered weeks, I get one on all the even numbered weeks (a good thing for me considering the finals is week 10).

I think this is actually a pretty good draw, as I’ve got two of the 4 shorter stacks to my left and right.  I also have the bigstacks in seats 9 and 2, so they’re not directly on my left.  I’m looking for any situation at all to accumulate chips, as I’m one of the two shortest stacks left.  The button starts in seat 10 and when I’m UTG, I look down at pocket 7’s and with 3BB left, needless to say, they’re going in.  Everyone mucks and I pick up a few chips.

When I’m in the hijack, it folds to me and I look down at 44 and see seat 7 grab for his chips.  This is the same opp that I saw grabbing for chips in a prior week when he had a monster as the chip leader.  That action is sounding off alarm bells to me, so I reluctantly muck.  It's definitely a +chip EV shove, but it's not +tourney EV.  My read was right on target too.  Seat 7 makes a raise to 4000 and is called by the BB.  The flop doesn’t include a 4 and seat 7 shoves and takes down the pot.  Good thing I saw that or I’d have been out in tenth.

We now get down to 8 left and it’s a war of attrition between seat 4 and me to see who’s going to go out first.  I’m trying to do everything that I can to outlast him.  He’s got about 1k chips less than me and I could really use the extra league points.  It just might be the difference between having to play the semis and going straight to the finals.

The blinds now go up to 600/1200/200 and he finally shoves from the BB when he has less than 1BB behind into a 3-way pot with 23o.  This one shocked me.  Wait all this time and blind down to nothing to play 23?! Just my luck, there’s a 2 on the flop and a 3 on the river, so he triples up.  Not what I want to see.

The next hand in my BB, I get a raise from seat 2 and I look down at A6.  I shove, he calls and flips over A2.  The board runs out A Q 3 4 J.  My six plays and I double up. 

Two hands later, I look down at pocket queens on the button after a raise to 2500 and a call.  Needless to say, that’s an instant shove from me.  I get called by BOTH opps.  One flips over AK and the other shows pocket sixes.  I get a Q on the flop and win a very badly needed pot.  At least there are now two stacks lower than mine. 

The player on my right gets knocked out as the blinds go up to 1000/2000/300, so we’re down to seven left.  However, I now have something happen that I didn’t expect.  The bigstack in seat 2 loses two huge pots and is ko’d, leaving six left!

A few hands later, seat 6 is taken out, getting us to 5 left, just as the blinds go up again to 2000/4000/400. 

Here is where things get interesting, as it’s between me and seat 8 as to who’s going to bubble.  I’m the shortest one and need to find another spot to get chips, as I don’t want to money bubble again.  I look down at AJ and in go my chips.  I get called by seat 1 with A9.  No nines in sight, so I double up and get about even with seat 8.  In her blind, she gets a walk (I’m in no way, shape nor form playing 27 from the button here), so now she goes around me in chips again.

I’m the next to shove again in my SB and when the BB folds and shows 38, I pick up enough chips to get back to fourth chip position. 

From my next button, I look down at QJo and since I don’t want to see the other lower stack get another walk, I decide shove.  The SB gets out of the way and I’m called by the BB with of all things, QJ of diamonds, so I’m getting freerolled.  Luckily there were no diamonds, so we chop the pot.    

The very next hand, I look down at KK and needless to say, here we go again!  It folds to the huge stack in the blind that snap-calls.  Of all things to turn over, she’s got the other two kings?!  I chop another one.  Playing hands on the bubble and not gaining a bunch of chips is not what I had planned here.

The bubble finally bursts, as seat 8 is knocked out, so I’m now ITM! We hit the third break with four left and I have the smallest stack with about 15k in chips.  One great thing for me is that two of the other three left in are already basically locks for the finals (third and fourth going into this week), so those are points that someone else can’t use to try to pass me in the standings, making it easier for me to lock myself in too.

I gain some chips at break, as I win the race when the black chips are colored up.  The blinds are now up to 3000/6000/500 and if you think the last few hands were crazy, you haven’t seen anything yet! 

The first monster hand is between seats 9 and 1.  Seat 1 shoves with 55 and is snap-called by seat 9 with pocket aces.  They get a flop of Q 5 8 and seat 1 doubles up.

Two hands later on my button, I look down at 33 and as the lowest stack, needless to say, when it’s folded to me, any pair will do and in go my chips.  The SB folds and I’m snap-called by the BB… with pocket aces again?!  The flop is K 2 4, so I don’t get any help there.  The turn J is another miss, but guess what shows up on the river… a THREE!  That gives me just about enough chips to be dangerous, not a good thing for the opps.

Seat 7 is the first to go after the money bubble, as he’s been pretty card dead and I’ve been relentless about stealing his blind when it folds to me in the SB.  I did give him a walk with 27, but stole 3 of 4.  That leaves us with three.

Seats 9 and 1 get it all in preflop again and seat 1 is in deep trouble as his QJ is up against A9.  The flop comes A 4 5.  The turn is a 2 and the river is a 3.   CHOP!

Seats 9 and 1 now get into a big one again.  Seat 1’s all in with A4 and seat 9 calls with A6.  The turn is a 4 and now seat 1 has the chip lead and seat 9’s once huge stack is now down to almost nothing.  She got her stack early by sucking out with 44 getting a set on the river (after calling a large preflop raise and flop bet when there was an A on the flop) and from KK beating AA.  However, she took some really bad beats at the final table.

With her getting knocked out, it’s up to seat 1 and me, heads-up. 

The blinds go up to 5000/10000/1000 as we start HU.  I’m down about 2-1 in chips, so I’m looking for any places to pick up chips, but I absolutely am going to follow my plan.  Play about 80% in position and 20% out of position is what I’m trying to do, however, the cards are not cooperating for my buttons.  Bottom 5% hand after bottom 5% hand… and I hate having to fold the button HU. 

The good thing is that I’m getting some playable hands out of position and the opp likes limping in HU.  He limps, I’ve got a hand, I’m shoving and he’s mucking, so even with losing 5 buttons in a row, I’ve actually hanging in and even gaining some chips.

In a way, it was a really good thing that I was getting trash on the button, as I can tell he’s getting frustrated with me folding and starts showing me some of his hands.  I mucked to his AA, KK, QQ, QQ, JJ, AT, AKs and AQs.  I’m really glad I didn’t pick up a small pair or ace against those.

The chip lead is going back and forth, over and over until I pick up K4 on the button and raise to 25k.  He instantly shoves on me.  I think he’s got another monster here, so after tanking for a bit, I muck.  The very next hand, he raises to 25k and I look down at AK and shove over him.  He tanks and mucks, so we’re back to where we were at.

After 20 min of HU play, the blinds now go up to 6000/12000/1000 and the first ten minutes are more of the same.  I raise and take one down, he raises and gets them back.  I muck one pre, then he does the same.  

The pivotal hand is when he’s got about 60% of the chips in play.  He makes a raise on the button to 25k and I look down at A9o and shove.  He’s got me covered, but doubling me will cripple him.  After tanking for a couple minutes, he decides to call.  I show my A9 and he flips over Q9s, so not only did I get them in ahead, I’ve got him dominated… or so I thought.  I get just about the worst flop possible, jack, ten, eight!  The turn just adds insult, as it’s a 7 giving me a lower straight.  The river’s a brick, so I end up in second place.  Even though I lost, I wouldn't change a single thing that I did, especially heads-up.  I got my chips in good every single time all night except for the 33 hand (and that was definitely a +EV play).  I played really well when it was short-handed and just got one unlucky hand.  Looking back at it, I wouldn't have even considered changing a single thing that I did the entire 30+ min of HU play.  

Second place money was $185 today, but the big thing is that as long as I show up next week, this finish should lock me into the finals.  I’ll post a comment on my blog where everyone is at after I see the new standings.  I’m definitely moving into the top 10, but I’m curious as to what happens to Dave too, as he was in first, but with two of the top 4 getting a top 4 finish tonight, they are now close to or might even pass him.   With one week left and both of us basically locks for the finals, we’ll both be able to go for it and try to win the weekly money next week, as we won’t have to worry about trying to ladder climb.