There were 28 people that qualified to play in the semifinals and all but one showed up to play.  I go to get my seat assignment and draw table 5 seat 4.  With three tables, there should be about 3 from each that get in, so I’m not too happy when I see the others that end up at my table.  Seats 1, 5 and 6 are all players that are definitely capable of transferring (seat 6 won a cash league final last year).  Seat 7 is one of the weaker players.  Seat 8 is the very lucky LAG that I shoved into his AA in an earlier week.  Seat 10 is the calling station that knocked me out in week 1… and seat 9 is definite trouble, some guy named Dave.  If I had to pick the 10 best players in the semis, 5 of them are at my table?!


The afternoon starts off and I don’t get much for the first level, however, I do win a hand with the monster hand of 37o when I get a walk in the BB.  The only other hand I play is one where I limp behind trying to setmine and while 66 isn’t bad, I want absolutely no part of it on a flop of A K Q!
The blinds go up to 50/100 and now I start to pick up some hands.  The first is pocket 10’s and make a standard opening raise to 300.  I get one caller and get a flop of 2 4 7.  I make a c-bet of 350 and take down another one.

The very next hand, I look down at AKo and make another raise to 300.  This time everyone mucks and I take it down preflop.

When it gets to my SB, I get four limpers in front of me and look down at ATo.  I decide to call and re-evaluate on the flop, as I don’t want to bloat the pot OOP with 3 smarter players behind me.  The flop is 10 high with two hearts.  I lead out for 375 and get one caller, seat 9.  The turn is the 9 of hearts and I lead out for 500 and Dave raises to 1100.  That one’s sending off warning alarms, as he could easily have my one pair beat.  Limping suited hearts is nowhere near out of his range and neither is a coocoo.  I go into the tank and decide that since my only real plays are to either shove or fold, I opt for the conservative route and give it to him, as I don’t have a heart redraw.  If I’d have had a heart, so that I could be drawing to the flush as a backup plan, I’d have shoved, but with no heart, I muck.  I later find out that I mucked the hand that at the time was the best, as Dave had T8, but he DID have a big draw too with an OESFD.

The very next hand, I look down at AKs and after a limper, make a standard raise to 400.  I’m hoping that someone thinks I’m on tilt and raising anything, as I definitely wouldn’t mind a call and play AKs from the button.  The LAG tanks for a second and mucks, so I take another one down preflop.  As this is happening, I notice that one of the best players in the semis busts at table 3.  With all of the good players that I have at my table, having one of the best go out at another table is a definite plus.

The blinds now go up to 100/200 and on Dave’s BB, I get two limpers in front of me.  I look down at pocket 10’s and make a standard raise to 900 (2.5BB+1BB for each limper).  Everyone mucks and I take down another one preflop.  I’m really quiet the rest of the hour, as I start picking up trash hand after trash hand.  Too bad there wasn’t a prop on 69o, as I get it three times this level.  I end the hour with 3850, down from my starting stack of 4k.  My guess is that it will take getting to 7-8k to be safe to transfer, as that is what I was able to get to in all of the other times that I have made it out of the semis and into the finals.

The second hour starts and the antes kick in at 100/200/25.  I’m looking for any situation that I can, in order to pick up chips.  I get my first chance the second hand, as there is a limp by seat 1 and I make a standard raise to 700 with JJ.  Everyone mucks and I get another pot.  I then look down at JTo on the button and when it folds to me, make my standard raise to 500 and take down another pot.

On my next SB, I look down at 33 and with two limpers, complete and get a raise by the BB to 600.  One player before me calls and I decide to call too and see if I can spike a 3.  Not a chance on that one happening as the flop brings three broadways.  Needless to say, it’s an easy check/fold for me.

I then look down at AJs and after a limp, make my standard raise to 700.  However, this time, I get 3-bet to 1500.  While I don’t mind playing AJs in position, it’s not strong enough to call a 3-bet with against a good opp, so into the muck it goes.

In my BB, it folds to seat 1 in the SB and he raises to 500.  I look down at two black queens and decide to 3-bet to 1600 (to intentionally pot-commit myself).  The opp thinks for a second, says “Really?” and mucks an A face up. 

The next hand is a big one.  I’m on the button and Dave makes a standard open to 500.  This time, I look down at the two red queens.  Since I had just made a 3-bet to 1600 to intentionally pot commit myself, I decide to make the exact same play here.  However, this time, I get a totally different reaction… Dave shoves on me.  I know he’s not going to do this light, as while he does have me covered, doubling me will basically cripple him.  I’m putting him on a range of AK+, JJ+ with maybe an outside chance at TT.  It’s basically a flip with either range, as he’s at 52% if TT is not in his range, I’m at 52% if it is in his range. 

Here’s where the big problem is.  I need chips to get into the finals.  In five minutes, the blinds are going to double and if I fold, I’m sitting at just under 5BB… a HUGE problem, as I would then need multiple double ups to get in.  I AM priced into the pot, as due to the blinds/antes, my pot equity is well under my 48% hand equity based on the range I put him on.  The other problem and why I tank for a couple minutes, my gut is telling me that he actually has it and normally my gut is really reliably accurate, not perfect but very close to it.

I’m really struggling with my decision here and decide to go against my gut feeling and call… and see Dave flip over KK.  The first card on the flop is of course, a K, but the turn does give me an OESD as there is a T on the flop and a river J.  Unfortunately for me, the river is a 3 and I’m out.  I know that odds-wise, the correct play is to call, but going against my gut (that turned out to be right) along with the fact that this is the ONLY time that I've ever missed the finals is one that is going to eat at me for a good long while.

I wish I had better news on the final, but Dave lost a monster pot with 4 left that if he hadn’t gotten rivered, most likely would have gotten him the ME seat.  Go figure, the hand was his KK vs QQ that rivered a Q.

I guess here’s the way that I can look at this league session.  I ran bad the entire 10 weeks and only had one run at a low end final table.  The next league starts next week (with a seat guaranteed to the winner), so I can start over fresh and hope things turn around… and rule #1 for it… listen to your reads and gut and go with it.