There were 304 players in HPT event 1 today at River City in St. Louis.  It was a $230 buy in with the top 36 getting ITM and over $14k on top.

I start out at table 24 seat 4.  I don’t know anyone at the table, but come to find out later that sitting in seats 1-3 are some VERY accomplished players.  Two of them have made the final table in the HPT main event from River City, one each from the last two times they held a series here.  The other has a WSOP Circuit ME final table.  Its tough competition, but they are in the seats to my right, which is a great thing.

The action starts out fast and furious and for a change from the league games, I’m not at a table of limp-bots.  Basically every pot’s getting raised by someone.  The first hand I play is the second hand.  I get dealt 66 and call the open-raise, as we’re plenty deep with a 15k starting stack and the blinds at 25/50.  Two others call, then a player 3-bets to 525.  Well, since we’re deep enough, I call this and see a 4-way flop of AKQ.  Needless to say, it’s an easy muck for me. 

The same thing happens on my BB, as there is a raise and then a 3-bet, this time to 475 and when I look down at 77, I’m calling it into a 4-way pot.  The flop this time is KJ5 and it gets ugly, as seats 6 and 10 go at it.  Seat 10 lays down a set of 5’s on the turn and seat 6 shows KK for a top set.

The blinds go up to 50/100 and I’m still missing.  I see two flops, one with AJs and the other with AQs and these times, the board comes out low, so I muck on the flop.

I now get seat 10 that opens from UTG for 300 and I look down at JJ and 3-bet to 900.  Seats 6, 7 and 10 call.  The flop is J 6 3.  Seat 10 checks to me and I lead out for 3k (standard 3/4 pot bet to price out the flush draw, as there are two hearts on the flop).  It folds to seat 10 that check/raises me to 5500.  Well, I’ve only got about 13k chips left, so even calling this pot-commits me and I’ve just barely got the opp covered.  I decide to 4-bet jam and the opp snap-calls me with 66.  The board runs out A 9 and I am now up to about 25k chips and have a knockout (too bad this wasn’t a bounty tourney). 

The blinds now go up to 75/150 and I’m at it again.  There is a raise to 525 and two callers.  I look down at 77 on the button and it’s a snap-call to setmine and the big blind come along too.  The flop is A J 7.  The initial raiser in seat 8 leads out for 1500 and it’s called by me and seat 6.  The turn is a J that puts a spade flush draw out there and seat 8 leads out for 1000.  I raise him to 2750 and seat 6 goes away.  The river is the 10 of spades, completing both the flush draw and a broadway straight draw.  The opp open-shoves the river for about 6k chips.  With all the lower draws hitting, no way am I folding a full house here.  I call and the opp flips over AKo.  I at least figured he’d show a straight or flush and was hoping not to see my nemesis JT.   I end the first two hours of play with 35725 chips and am in great position for a deep run.

The next two hour session starts and I’m quiet the first level (100/200/25).  But, when the blinds go to 150/300/25), I pick up three great steal spots and take them all down preflop.  One from the CO, one from the SB and the other was a 3-bet squeeze.

The blinds go to 200/400/50 and I get another steal spot from the SB.  Then I win another one with a 3-bet over seat 1’s open.

The blinds go up again and 300/600/50, I win two more pots.  One where seat 9 and 10 limp, seat 2 raises and I 3-bet with AA.  I was hoping one of them would call, but I’ll gladly take free chips.  The other was a standard open to 1500 with KJs from the hijack.  With all of these pots that I’m winning without showing cards (helps when the table is scared to death of you), I’m up to 45k chips.

I hit the second break with 41600 chips, about double the average stack and there are approximately 200 players left.  I do see that I added a black chip at break, as my one green chip won the race, so I start the next level with 42.6k.

At 400/800/100, I’m now going to start using my table image to steal even more.  The first opportunity is when it folds to me in the SB.  I make it 2k with Q7o and take down another one preflop.  At the end of 500/1k/100, I’m up to 47700 chips. 

Now, I hit what happens to everyone at some point in time during a tourney, I go totally card dead and it looks like the hand of the day is 26o, as I see it a number of times. 

I hit the dinner break with under 130 left (the board says 150, but I’ve seen two tables break since the update to 150 left) with 39200 chips.

I’m hoping that the break changes the cards a little, but no such luck.  The other thing is that there are now a number of extremely short players, so the majority of the table is in shove/fold mode.  This causes me a problem, as I lose many of the spots where I could have stolen an extra set of blinds/antes, but can’t due to the opp’s stack sizes.

We’re now down to 90 left, then 80 left and the blinds go up to 800/1600/200 and I’m sitting on about a 15BB stack, so I’m now looking for spots to shove. 

When we get to 70 left, my table is the one that breaks and I’m off to table 21 seat 1 with 10BB, as the blinds just jumped to 1k/2k/200.  I immediately see that this table is going to have a totally different table dynamic compared to my last one.  There, seat 10 was the only super-huge stack at my old table.  Here, I’m the shortest stack… by a large margin.  There are 6-7 stacks in the 60k range, triple my stack.  With everyone having triple my chips, I’m not going to even consider open-raising.  I’m going to be shoving and doing everything that I can to maximize my fold equity.

I shove once at 1200/2400/300 (with ATo) and three times at 1500/3k/300 (J7o from the button, KQs from MP and 97s from the button). 

The blinds go up again to 2k/4k/400 and we’re down to 60 left (36 ITM).  Due to the steals (I still haven’t shown a card at this table), I’m sitting on a stack of just about half the average stack with about 9BB. 

I get my next spot when I get a limp from UTG, then a raise to 12k from seat 10.  I look down at QQ and this is a perfect spot for a re-steal.  I’M ALL IN!  I had just shoved three times and nobody played back at me (the two from 1500/3k were within the last orbit), so I’m expecting to get action.  The opps are going to be expecting me to be light here and I have a premium category 1 made hand.  The blinds and the limper muck and seat 10 starts to count out chips.  He calls, over half his stack, and says “I’ll take a race”, then flips over pocket 10’s.  Well, he’s not in a race, he’s a huge underdog, as I’m an 82% favorite to win an 85k chip pot.  This would put me 14k above the average stack and not only enough where I could basically sitout and get ITM (which I wouldn’t do), but well on my way toward a possible final table run.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen, as there is a ten on the flop and the rest of the board runs out blanks, so I’m out in 58th.  I made the correct play, just had bad timing.

Looking back at this tourney, while I’m extremely disappointed that I didn’t get ITM and possibly a final table, there is not a single hand nor situation where I second guessed myself afterwards… not a single one.  Normally, there are always spots where I look at them differently afterwards, but after almost 9 hours of play here, I’m 100% happy with every single play that I made.  Honestly, I played MUCH BETTER today than when I won the $1650 HPT ME seat a couple months ago.