There were 27 players that were eligible for the league semi-finals, but only 25 decided to show up.  I started out at table 6 seat 5 and since this will be one of the final two tables (playing down to 10 left), I’m hoping to be stuck to my seat.  I think that I got an ok seat draw.  There are two of the better players at my table, but there are also a few of the weaker players.  Seats 3, 7 and 9 are the ones that I’ve got my eye on as the players to watch.

We start out with 25/50 blinds and I am just sitting back and watching as I’m not getting anything for cards nor situations.  With the looser players on the left side of the table, it will be tougher to steal pots later on and every pot is basically going to be multi-way.  I find out this level that the hand of the night is 25o, as I end up with it three times and end up seeing it about a dozen times this hour.
The blinds now go up to 50/100 and I get a spot in my BB.  There are three limps in front of me, so I make a standard raise to 600 (3BB+1BB for each limper).  The first two limpers fold but the SB calls.  The flop is T 7 4, all diamonds.  When the opp checks, I decide to make a c-bet of 800 with my AA (I do have the A of diamonds) and am quickly called by the opp.  The turn is the 5 of spades and the opp checks again.  I bet 1100 and am quickly called.  I know he’s got something and decided on the 1100 as it would be a bet that is close to pot-committing me, but doesn’t make it obvious to an opp that isn’t looking at my stack size.  Also, with this being basically a satellite format, I wanted to play it a bit more conservatively.  The river is the 6 of clubs.  UGH!  When the opp checks again, now I’m stuck in a really sick spot.  If I bet, I have to shove but there are three diamonds and four to a straight on the board.  Since I do have showdown value, I decide to check behind as I don’t want to give the opp a chance to check/shove as I wouldn’t know whether they’re doing it for value or as a bluff.  The opp turns over QQ with the Q of diamonds, so I do take down the pot with my pair of aces.  Too bad the river wasn’t another diamond because I’d have definitely doubled.

The blinds now go up to 100/200 and the first hand that I play at this blind level is with 77 as I get another pot with a limper in front of me so I make a standard raise to 700 (2.5BB+1BB for each limper) and take it down preflop. 

The other hand that I play is from my BB.  Seat 9 has taken a couple beats and is down to 450 chips and open-shoves.  When it folds to me, since I’m priced in for basically ATC to try and take out one of the most dangerous players at the table, needless to say, I’m snap-calling and do so blind.  I flip over Q5o and the opp shows of all things, pocket kings.  I get a Q on the flop, but the rest of the board blanks out, so my pair of queens lose to his kings.  I end the first hour with 6200 chips and am in pretty good shape.

The second hour starts and the antes now kick in.  Partway thru this level one of the tables breaks as we’re down to 20 left.  Unfortunately, one of the casualties was JD as a player setmined against him getting the wrong odds and hit their set.  The opp made a very bad play as the stacks were nowhere near deep enough for them to setmine with 66 against JD’s AA.

With the new players at the table, there are two new players that I need to keep a watch on.  Seat 8 is a player that has won multiple daily tournaments and someone I had marked as a good player from the first time I played with him.  Also, the new player in seat 6 to my left is also one of the top stacks in the tourney and another player that is very good that I’ve played with many times in the past.

Here’s where the problem for me starts.  I’ve got the table bigstack to my left and the players to his left are smart and looser, so I’m not going to get hardly anything for steals.  Add to it that all of the short stacks are now in shove mode, and that makes it even worse.  I do however get one steal in at the end of this level, as it folds to me on the button somehow with A7h.  I make a standard open to 500 and take the pot down preflop.

The blinds now go up to 200/400/50 and I’m totally card dead.  Can’t find an ace, broadway, suited connector (minus one 23s)… nothing.  The blinds now go up again to 300/600/75 and still getting absolutely nothing, I decide to try to make a play.  I make a standard open trying to steal a pot from early position (out of character for me in this league, so I’m hoping that I get a bit more credit and have extra fold equity).  Unfortunately for me, the bigstack to my left raises to more than my stack to isolate me.  Everyone else folds and having history with him, I know he’s going to have a monster here as he’s a smart player that would not even consider damaging his stack in a situation that could put being in the top 10 at risk with only 6 more needed to end the tourney.  I hate having to fold off 1500 chips here, but getting my hand caught in the cookie jar, I have to muck.

The next orbit, I’m looking for anything to shove before I get to be too short.  Unfortunately, due to three shoves from other opps and more junk cards, that doesn’t happen.  I get to my BB and get a shove from seat 3 that’s on the button.  He’s smart enough to shove lighter, but when I look down at 29o, into the muck they go as I’d call him lighter, but not that light.  Good thing, as I find out that he did it with AA and shoved to make it look more like a steal… hoping to be called.  Glad I didn’t have a hand.

The next hand in the SB, I get a raise in front of me and am priced in to go with the majority of hands, but when I look down at 24o, that is not one of them, so while I want to shove, I can’t and have to fold again.

The next hand, I’m on the button and when it folds to me, I look down at A3s.  Needless to say, that’s well within my shove range and toward the upper end of the range.  I’M ALL IN!  The bigstack mucks but seat 8 is the BB… a player definitely smart enough to call me with anything with even a small amount of equity.  He calls with T7.  The board runs out and gives us both a pair, but his pair of sevens is higher than my pair of threes, so I’m out.

The next league won’t be until after the first of the year, as they’re taking December off due to two of the Tuesdays being over the holidays.  I will get to play another live tourney between now and then, as I’m going to play HPT event 1 at Majestic Star on Friday.  It’s a $370 two-day 32k starting stack tourney with the same structure as the WSOP ME, but with 30 minute levels.  PSO will have a couple shots at it too, as Sailor Moe will also be playing with me on Friday.  I do get a bit of a break on the price of it too, as I was able to win a $100 live stake thru one of the other sites that I play on and will be using it for this tourney.