There were 40 players that showed up tonight to play, which seeing more than the previous week, with this being the last qualifier, is really surprising.  Normally the number is less because the players that can’t improve their position and are locked in normally skip the week.  Unfortunately, I had to show up because as bad as I’ve run the first 8 weeks,  it was still mathematically possible that I could miss the semis.  Highly unlikely, but possible.

I draw table 6, seat 8.  Every time I’ve drawn table 6 (which is always used as the FT), something bad’s happened to me, so I’m suspicious before I even sit down.  When I get to the table, I see that it’s very, very passive.  The only players that raise are seat 6 (one of the better players and solidly in the top 10) and me.

Play starts and I get exactly what I expect, a limpfest.   The first 3 levels, there are on average about 3-4 limps per pot.   Unfortunately for me, the first two levels, I don’t have any speculative hands to limp behind with and nothing really that I can squeeze with either (will save that for later when there are more chips in the pot. 

The first hand that I’m in, I pick up AKo and make a standard opening raise to 150.  I get 2 callers and see a flop of K 2 2.  I lead for 300 and take down my first pot when the opps muck. 

The only hand I play at the second level is from the cutoff.   It’s at the end of the level and I have mucked for two straight orbits and look down at A2s in an unopened pot and raise to 300.  I get 3-bet to 600 by the BB that is playing loose, so I decide to flat and see the flop in position.  The flop is K high with two spades and the opp leads into me for 800.  Needless to say, it’s an easy muck for me and when I do so, he flips over AA, which turns out to be the hand of the night.  Over the next 90 minutes, we have AA at my table SIX times (none were mine) and on the wrong end of it, I see Dave walking out from table 3 and find out that he had AA get cracked by 84o?!

The blinds now go up to 100/200 and I find a perfect spot.  The limpfest is on with 3 of them and seat 6 (the only one I’d even remotely worry about 3-betting me lighter), has mucked.  IMO, this is about as good a spot to squeeze from the button that I can find.  I’m hoping to see anything with some equity in the hand, just in case someone decides to call, and look down at a weak suited A.   I make my standard raise to 2.5BB+1BB for each limper and raise to 1100.  Everyone mucks and I get a sizable amount of free chips!  The break hits and I’m sitting with 3750 chips from my 4k starting stack.

A table breaks over break, as someone busted at another table to get to 30 left, the last hand before break.  The antes kick in and I’m hoping to get some cards to pick up a few pots with, for making a final table run.  Unfortunately that’s not happening so far, as I go totally card dead the first level.

The blinds now go up to 200/400/50 and I pick up AQo and make a standard raise to 1k.  I get called by seat 1 and have them lead for 1500 into a 9 high flop.  That’s trouble, so I have to muck.
The very next hand, I pick up AQ in the BB and get 2 limps in front of me.  I could very easily raise here, but decided that instead, I’d check and bet the flop regardless of whether I hit it or not.  Well, that was a good plan, except that I get a flop of QAQ.  Flopping basically the nuts, I’d have been raised by either of these two opps preflop and know that because I’ve got extensive history with both and have seen them play aces many times, I decide to check.  The first opp checks, but the second bets 700.  I call the 700 and the other opp goes away.  The turn is a blank and since this opp is very passive, I decide to lead the turn and he mucks.  Looking back, I should have just checked and let him see a free river, as he’s going to check behind.  He normally takes 1 shot if in position if it’s checked to him, but haven’t seen him continually barrel into pots without the nuts.  I messed that up and maybe cost myself some value on the river, but if it was just a position play, I wouldn’t have gotten another chip from him anyway.

Two hands later, guess what I get again… AQ!  I make another standard raise to 1000, but this time, I get 3-bet to 3500.  This player will call raises lighter, but rarely 3-bets.  With this being the case, I’m not shoving when I’m basically in a flip at best case, so my best play is to fold.  This one was a good play on my part, as the opp shows QQ.

The last blind level of the second hour, I’m back to being card dead and I hit the second break with 1500 chips.  Not a good situation since the next blind level is 500/1k/100.  The only good thing about this level is that another table broke, so we’re under 20 left.

The first six hands, I’m looking to shove anything with some equity and I mean basically anything.  Unfortunately, here are the hands I see… 24o, 25o, 36o, 26o, 46o and 29o with two shoves in front of me.  I’d have even taken one of the trash hands if I was in a HU situation, but couldn’t even get that.

The next hand, I’m in MP and look down at A5 and needless to say, with not even a BB left, it’s an instant ship.  I end up in a 3-way pot that both blinds check down.  First card on the flop was an A, so I more than triple up!

I avoid the next hand after there are two pushes and I look down at an effsea special!  If I was deeper stacked and no shoves in front of me, I just may have tried something with it, but not in this situation. 

However, the next hand, I’m UTG with the SB already blinded in and see A9.  With about 3BB left, this is another no-brainer ship.  I get snap-called by the button and when the cards are turned over, I see that the SB has A5 (counterfeiting one of my outs) and the button has pocket 10’s.  His tens hold and I’m out in 14th.

While not the finish that I wanted, it’s one that will lock me into the semifinals at 3pm next week.  The big question that I’ll find out the answer to when the standings come out is… who’s joining me?