We get to file this one into the poetic justice category.  I decided to jump into the $180 8pm qualifier last night.  I draw table 17, seat 9.  This has its good points and it’s really bad points.  I know two people that are in this tourney very well, one player from our Tuesday night league ends up in seat 8 and Sailor Moe (seat 10).  Having one of the best in the tournament on your left is not a good thing, but knowing each other is an advantage, as we both know how each other plays.

 I start off quickly, as I get to play three hands in the first orbit.  I pick up AQs and make a standard opening raise to 150 that is called by two loose players on the other side of the table.  The flop is A J 4 and needless to say, being first to act, I fire out a 325 continuation bet.  The both fold and I take down my first pot.  I then pick up AKo and after two limps, raise to 250.  I get called by seats 2 and 4.  The flop this time is A 6 5 rainbow and when he checks to me, I fire out 375.  Seat 2 mucks, but seat 4 calls.  The turn is another A, so when he checks to me, I’m firing another bullet, this time 750.  He mucks and I take down another one.  The third one is another hand after two limpers and 77.  I make another standard raise to 250 and take this one down preflop.

With this being a smaller buy-in satellite, only the top 10% get seats and the levels are shorter, 20 minutes.  The rest of the first hour, I go totally card dead… but better now than later in the tourney.  However, my two neighbors were not so lucky.  Seat 8 picked up AA and had to muck them on the flop to a shove by seat 4 when the flop was K J T.  The opp was playing any broadway cards the entire time, so I was pretty sure he had at least two pair, if not better.  He asked me afterwards what I thought the opp had and said 2 pair plus and said that’s what he put him on too.  The other casualty was Sailor Moe.  However, he re-entered and will be heard from again later in the evening.

We get two more new players, in addition to seats 8 and 10 as the blinds go up to 200/400/50.  Seat 3 is the one that I’ve got my eye on, as my gut says he’s one of the better players.  I also see that seat 10 is ready to gamble and later find out that he’s made multiple HPT ME final tables.  His gambling doesn’t pay off though, as seat 3 stacks him.  This is trouble, as the one I’m looking at as the toughest opp at the table, now has a large chip stack.

I now get into it twice with seat 3.  Since I’d been card dead and not playing any pots (which I’m sure most of the players noticed), I decide to open to 1k with 66 from UTG.  Yes, I know this is a bit light, but thought my table image would help.  It folds to seat 3 that 3-bets to 4500.  This is the same bet that he made (and he’d been varying up his bets) when he stacked seat 10, so I decide to muck.  A few hands later, I pick up AKo and make another standard raise to 1k and this time, he 3-bets to 2500.  I decide to flat, as we’re too deep for me to be getting it in preflop with an unmade hand.  Good thing too, as the flop is Q 9 7.  Since he 3-bet and I missed, I check to him and he shoves on me.  With ace high, I muck and later find out from him that he had pocket 10’s and was hoping that I wasn’t trapping with a Q.  We hit break after this level and I’m down to 10900, which is a sizable drop from the 17k that I had earlier.

The blinds now go up to 300/600/75 and I’m starting to look for a spot to get my chips into, as I’m card dead this whole level.  Just as the blinds go to 400/800/100, I get my chance.  I get an open-limp and another limp and look down at KK.  Needless to say, I’M ALL IN!  It folds back around to seat 6 that tanks for a second and calls with AKo.  For once, I don’t see an ace on the board, and I more than double up. 

Two hands later, I get a limpfest in front of me and I make a slightly larger than normal for me, but well within line for the table’s standard raises, to 6k.  I wanted to thin the field and any observant opp (seat 3) should quickly figure out that I’m pot-committed.  I get one caller, seat 4.  Seat 4 now donks into me for 2k.  I’m guessing he’s on the flush draw and I’m 100% certain that if that’s what he has, he’s going to pay to try to draw to it.  Even worst case, I’ve got plenty of equity, as I’m holding AA for top set.  I’M ALL IN!  Seat 4 snap-mucks, but I’m now up to 30k chips, which is well on my way toward my chip goal.

As the blinds go up to 500/1k/100, we’re now down to 50 left and my table breaks.  I get moved to table 14, seat 9.  When I get there, I immediately see four things.  One, I’m the second stack at the table.  Secondly, I go straight into the BB.  Third, the probable tourney chip leader is 2 seats to my right.  I see her take out 2 players over the next three hands and she must have gotten the chips by being lucky, as she played trash hands in both.  One was two pair with an ace/rag special.  The other was chasing and hitting a gutshot (when she was definitely priced out).  The fourth is that I see Sailor Moe on the table next to me and he’s hanging in with some chips, so there’s still a chance that both of us can get in.

Here’s where the fiasco starts.  The floor makes an announcement to the 5 tables left that there were 90 players that entered the tourney (they gave out 90 sheets), so that means that there should be 9 seats awarded.  However, about 30 minutes later, they now say that the cage has only verified 89 players paid, so someone got a sheet, never paid and never played.  That creates a problem, as now we’re playing for 8 seats instead of 9, but ninth place will get $1450 cash. 

I’m quiet this level and until the end of the next level, 800/1600/200.  I get a limp from two players, including seat 7, that also seems to be a serial limper and look down at AK.  I raise to 7500 and both players muck, so I get some chips to help cover the blinds and antes. 

The blinds go up to 1k/2k/300 and I’m just watching the shorter stacks get taken out.   I don’t do anything at this level, except for one hand.  I look down at Q3o from the button and since I hadn’t made any moves at this table and with both blinds being medium stacks that won’t want to bust to me, I make a standard raise to 5k and take one down preflop.  The Q3 here was irrelevant.  I had made up my mind that I was going to raise ATC as a steal and I just so happened to end up with Q3. 

Sailor’s table now breaks, so we’re down to 30 left.  I see that he gets moved to table 12 and there is an interesting situation that takes place there.  One of the younger players now makes a very bad decision.  One of the card room rules is that any chips that you cross the action line with, stay in the pot.  Well, the player didn’t have that many chips left and wanted to call a bet, but, instead of counting it out, then putting the chips into the pot and going past the line, has his entire stack in his hand.  He moves his hand over the line and starts to count out the chips to call.  The other players notice it and say that the chips have to stay in the pot and the floor is called over when the dealer tells him that he’s all in and the player gets irate.  The floor here, DOES make the correct decision that since the player took all of his chips past the line, even though they didn’t hit the table, the chips are in play and he is forced all-in… and all out of the tourney.  This is not the rule in all card rooms, but is a great example of something that a player should look into before they sit down to play in a given casino.   The room rules are posted right when you walk into the room and here, they are also printed and available at the desk.  I’ve played in a number of rooms where this IS the rule and some where it is not.  When playing somewhere, always check the house rules before you sit at a table! 

We hit the next break and with 27 left and 8 seats available, my stack stands at 26600 and I need at least a double up.

We come back from break to blinds of 1.5k/3k/400.  At this level, I get involved in a hand here.  I get a short-stack shove from seat 3 and go figure this one, the tourney chip leader decides to call.  I look down at pocket 10’s and here’s my shot.  Extra chips and I get to isolate the short-stack shove.  I’m expecting the shorty shove to be a real hand too, as they blinded down to only a couple BB.  The big stack goes away and the race is on when AQ is flipped over.  My tens hold and I’m now up to 39k chips with 24 left.

A few hands later, I’m in another hand and guess who with… the huge stack that likes to spew chips.  She open-limps and I look down at AK.  I raise to 11k and another shocker, she calls.  The flop is A Q Q and she checks to me.  I decide to fire out 13k as a bet both for value, but it’s setting the maximum that I’m going to lose on this hand if she comes over the top with a Q.  Into the tank she goes.   She now says “You’re lucky two clubs weren’t on the flop” and mucks K8 of clubs face up.  Limp/calling with K8s preflop… that tells you right there how capable she is of spewing chips.  Lucky for me, I get some of them and am now up to 55k chips.  I see now, from looking at the other stacks, that my estimate for how many chips I need is a bit low, so I still need to find a way to get more, as my revised target is 100k chips.

My table now breaks as we’re down to 20 left and I move to table 12, seat 8 and I see a few familiar faces.  There’s a Sailor sitting in seat 2 with a good sized stack and the chip gusher waiting to happen in seat 4.  Good to see I immediately know who the fish of the table is.  Here’s where her strategy gets real interesting.  Satellite poker strategy says to accumulate enough chips to get the seat, then don’t play anything that can risk the seat.  She had about 250k chips at one point, but that is soon to change and obviously has no clue on how to play a satellite.  I also recognize seat 7, the player I had pegged as my toughest competition from the later part of my first table (after Sailor got knocked out).  At least since I know this guy’s going to be aggressive, he’s in the seat to my right.

The blinds now go up to 2k/4k/500 and here we go again… the black chips are supposed to be raced off, but I end up with some for the next hour due to the dealer not doing it (facepalm).  More to come on this one later.

I’m quiet the first two orbits, as I don’t get anything for cards, which is not good as these blinds and antes are starting to kill off everyone remaining’s stack.  The blinds now go to 3k/6k/1k and I get another opportunity to get them in.  There is one limp and I look down at QQ.  I’M ALL IN!  Everyone quickly folds and I get some needed chips.  

An orbit later, it folds to me and guess what I look down at again, pocket ladies.  I’M ALL IN!  This time I get a scare out of it, as it folds to seat 2 that goes into the tank.  Sailor is the last person that I want to have to play a pot against, as I know he’s the smartest one at the table with knowing odds and when a hand is priced into a pot and both of us need a double-up to get in.  He mucks and I pick up another set of blinds and antes.  I later find out from him that he had AK and mucked because he was worried that I had KK or AA, as he asked me what I had at the next break.

The blinds now go up to 4k/8k/1k and we lose another couple players and unfortunately, it brings a bad hand for Sailor.  He needs a double-up to get in and he opens with KJ.  He gets a K high board and gets it in… unfortunately, the opp had KQ.

As we head toward the next break, the blinds go up again to 5k/10k/1k.  I get a raise to 20k and a call of that raise by what used to be the chip leader (imagine this… that she has now leaked off about 80k and no longer has the chip lead) and I look down at TT.  Well, I need another double to get in, so I’M ALL IN!  The chip leader in seat 3 insta-mucks and into the tank she goes.  About 5 min later, she decides to call.  I’m expecting to be in a race or maybe even against ace/rag, but she turns over pocket 7’s.  My tens hold and I’m now up to 115k chips and she has now put herself squarely into the bubble hunt.  Here is where the black chips come back into play.  The dealer counts up my chips to double me and realizes that I’ve still got 2 black chips, and so do some others at the table.  Well, there was no announcement and the dealers, while they did color up as many as they could, never raced them off.  So right in the middle of the level, we now color up the blacks and I win a purple 500 chip.  As we hit break, we’re now down to 10 left and the others move to my table. 

We need to get rid of one person to get ITM and 2 to get a seat.  As we come back from break, the blinds are now up to 8k/16k/2k and go figure, I’m right in the BB when it goes up.  I have to muck both of my blinds and also the next orbit.  When it gets around again, I’m card dead and others are raising and shoving, so I’m avoiding as much as possible.  The third time the blinds come around, I finally get a steal opportunity on the button.  I know seat 10 knows what he’s doing, as he’s mentioned certain things about satellite strategy at the table (that someone that doesn't know it will not pick up on, but I do immediately), so I know since he’s got enough to get in, but doubling a middle stack could damage him, he’s not going to play hands.  Seat 9 is also one of the 3 lowest and wants the others to go first (seats 1 and 5 are lower than him).  I look down at AKs and instead of open-raising, I’m putting maximum pressure on them and open-shove.  I’M ALL IN!  It takes about 1 second for both of them to muck and I pick up a bunch of chips.

Seat 5 is now down to under 2BB and he shoves and is called by seat 7.  Seat 7 was in the blind and with how much he had to call, knew the right play was to call with any two cards and does so with J4o.  Well, the +EV play by calling was rewarded, as he hits a 4 on the flop and another one on the river.  That leaves 9 left, so worst case, I’m guaranteed $1450 cash!

The blinds now go up again to 10k/20k/3k and with two stacks at under 3BB, seats 1 and 9 and seat 4 now under 4BB, I’m more than happy to just sit on my 85k and let one of the others bust.  The blinds go thru me and seat 7 pushes from the SB when it folds to him.  No way am I calling when I look down at 24o.  Finally, the hand happens.  Seat 1 pushes and is called and beat.  I’M IN THE MAIN EVENT!

I’m going to play day 1B at 9am on Saturday, as I figure by playing then, I have plenty of time to play, get home and get a good night’s sleep, then if I make day 2, I can easily get back to the casino by noon on Sunday.  This is a TV event, so the final table will be on TV and might be streamed online too.  We’ll see how many big pros are in this, as there normally is a number of them.  Two that I know of are Fossilman and The Chainsaw.