There were 34 players that showed up for week 8 tonight.  I start at table 8, seat 3 and see that I finally get a week where, when I look at the opps at the table, I should have an edge on every one of them.  There are two tight/passives, a tight/aggressive, a loose/passive and a loose/aggressive.

I don’t play a hand until the second blind level, as I open to 300 from the hijack with 33.  Both the cutoff and the button call.  The flop is QQ6 and with only one face card that paired, I decide it’s a great board to c-bet and fire out 525.  Both opps muck and I take down my first pot.

A few hands later, I look down at QQ and once again make a standard open to 300.  This time I get 3-bet to 525.  I call and see a low flop.  However, I notice something with the opp starting with the way that he made his 3-bet and how he looked after the flop that was out of character from all of the other hands that he’d been in (many since he was switching between LP and LAG).  He wasn’t going thru his normal routine of shuffling chips, he was just sitting there staring at the wall… and that’s definitely out of character for him.  Even with this being a favorable flop for me, I decide to check to him and just as I expected, he fires out a huge bet (1100).  Yes, I have a premium hand, but with everything that’s happened in this hand so far, I think I’m beat and muck.  The opp then mucks the winning hand face up.  Glad I went with my read, as I saved some chips.

The blinds now go up to 100/200 and just before my table breaks, I standard open to 500 with A9s from the hijack.  The button (very loose and likes to bluff) calls.  The flop is 569 and I lead out for 600, which is snap-called.  The turn is a 3 and I lead out for 750 and once again am snap-called.  The river is a 7.  As loose as this player is (maybe the loosest in the league), an 8 or two pair is in their range.  I’ve seen them in this situation before and the normal way they play something like this when short-stacked is that if checked to, they’ll make a small bet, but if led into, they’ll raise and probably jam.  I decide that I want to go to showdown with top pair here and check.  Sure enough, the opp bets 500 and with as large as the pot is, I snap-call with TPTK.  The opp shows KJo, a total bluff, and I win a very good pot. 

My table breaks when we hit 30 left and I move to table 7 seat 10.  This table is going to be a bit tougher, as there are two better players at it.  Seat 3 is some guy named JDean and seat 9 is cowboy.  Those are the two that I need to watch out for.  I hit the break with 5500 chips.

We come back from break and with the antes kicking in, I’m looking for spots to steal.  The first orbit, I get one hand to play, as I pick up AKs and make a standard open to 700 after a limp (2.5BB+1BB for each limper).  Everyone folds to me and I pick up another pot.  I now get a tap on my shoulder from the floor, and the game of musical chairs is in motion again, as I get picked to move to balance tables.  I’m off to table 6 seat 10. 

Table 6 has an interesting mix of players.  Seats 2, 4 and 6 are loose/passive, seats 8 and 9 are LAG’s, seat 1 is tight/passive, seats 3 and 5 are tighter and can be aggressive, so those two are ones that I need to have a hand when I’m up against them.  There are two big stacks at the table, and with one of them being a LAG, I’m hoping that is the player that I can get chips from. 

The blinds go up to 200/400/50 and I open to 1k with AK clubs and am called by the huge stack in seat 4.  The flop is A 10 8 with two hearts.  With about 3k already in the pot, I make a standard c-bet of 1/2 pot (1500).  The opp tanks for a second and calls.  The turn is a black 4 and with 6k in the pot and only about 3k behind, I open-jam the turn.  Now the opp goes into the tank.  He’s got some sort of draw and wants to see the last card, but doesn’t want to pay me off.  After a minute or so, he mucks and I take down a large pot.

The blinds now go up to 300/600/75 and seat 5 is getting shorter and has open-jammed a couple times (definitely smart enough to know when to start shoving and his shoves shouldn't be out of line).  On my BB, he does so again and when it folds to me, I look down at AKo and call.  The opp flips over 22 and we’re off to the races for my tourney life, as he’s got me covered.  I flop a K that holds, so I double up and now have a realistic shot at a FT as we’re down to 2 tables.  

A couple hands later, seat 5 shoves the rest of his stack in and seat 8 (LAG with chips) 3-bets to 4k.  I look at my cards and decide that my best play here is to 4-bet jam to isolate the short-stack shove.  Seat 8 now goes into the tank and decides to muck.  Seat 5 shows pocket jacks and sees says to me “You’ve got queens, don’t you sir?”  I flip over pocket rockets and when they hold, I have about a quarter of the chips in play.  Yes, it’s a bunch of chips, but in reality, in a couple min, I’m only sitting with about 27BB. 

We’re now up to 500/1k/100 and on my BB, seat 8 limps.  I look down at A9o and decide to check and try to sandbag my hand a bit. I get a flop of A 7 5 and lead out for 1500, that is snap-called.  I know this guy’s loose, so he could have hit any part of the board.  The turn is an 8 and I lead out for 2500. The opp min-raises me.  He could have two pair, but a straight draw is very possible for him too.  I decide to call and re-evaluate on the river.  The river is another 8.  Since he raised the turn, I check to him and he shoves the river.  He’s definitely got an 8 or better now, as while he’s laggy, he’s not going to put his tourney life on the line as the second largest stack at the table with nothing.  I muck and he flips over A8 for a full house.

The other table now comes over, as we hit the final table.  When we redraw for seats, I don’t even have to move, as I draw seat 10.  The new seat to my left in seat 1… some guy named Dave. 

With 9 players left, I get a hand that I wish I had back to replay, as I knew I made a big mistake in this one.  There are two limps in front of me and I look down at 88 and decide to limp behind to try to setmine (the limpers were big stacked).  Seat 3, another huge stack calls and then seat 4 shoves for 1900 more.  The BB and the first limper muck, seat 9 (A8 guy) calls and I make a mistake.  With all of the chips in the pot, I should have re-shoved to isolate the shorty, but instead, I called, hoping that I could setmine against seats 3 and 9 (two larger stacks than me).  Seat 3 does come along and we see a flop of K 7 3.  Seat 9 checks, I check and seat 3 bets 4500.  Seat 9 mucks and I decide that he’s probably going to have a king and muck.  OOPS!  Seat 4 turns over 94s and seat 3 turns over A3s.  Seat 4 can’t believe he’s got 2 live cards.  Unfortunately for him, they miss and seat 3 wins a huge pot.  I knew as soon as I called the raise preflop that I should have jammed and that’s definitely a situation that I can learn from as it cost me a huge number of chips.

When it gets to my SB, I get involved in another hand.  Seat 5 (the one that I won a big pot against with AK) opens to 2500.  He’s been at all of my tables and is very active.  Sometimes raising and sometimes limping and is playing between 30-40% of hands.  I look down at AQ and decide that I’m going to call and jam any A or Q flop as there is 7300 in the pot and I’ve got about 10k in front of me.  The flop is ace high and I jam… and get snap-called by AK.  The rest of the board is a blank, so I’m now down to about 2k chips after paying him off.  I was talking about this hand with Dave afterwards and instead of open-jamming the flop, I should have check/shoved a small bet or check/fold to a large bet. 

I then find a spot where I look down at KT and shove my remaining chips.  I get called by A4 and see an A on the flop.  I do, however pick up some outs on the turn, as it’s a Q.  Unfortunately, the river is not a jack, so I’m out in 8th place.

Hopefully, this is the start of a run, as I got my first final table in over two months and while I misplayed two hands at the final table badly, I played very well up until then.  Next week is the last qualifying week, then on the 26th, I will most likely be starting in the semis, playing for a WSOP ME seat.