There were 36 players that showed up in the sub-zero temps to play the first week of the league.

There have been some changes to the structure and they make it harder on the players that are trying to look at the value of the individual tourneys.  In the past, we had started with 3k chips and had an optional dealer toke of an extra 1k chips for $5.  This add-on, IMO, is a no-brainer and I’ve taken it every single week

Now, you can start with 3k chips for the $65 buy-in, or there are two dealer tokes.  For $5 you get an extra 500 chips and for $10 you get an extra 1k.  This, in my opinion, causes a big problem.  In this fast structure, an extra 1k chips, while nice, is not that big of a deal.  These chips normally don’t come into play until the second hour and then, it doesn’t even add an M of 2 to your stack, as blinds and antes are 550 per round.  Also, over the course of the 9 week league, instead of the 1k chips costing less than an extra buy-in, it now costs an extra 1.5 buy-ins.  Anyone that knows me, knows that I basically always advocate taking any extras, especially when it comes to dealer tokes, but with the price being doubled, I think it’s a –EV play to take it now.

So, what I’ve decided to do for this session of the league is that I’m going to go into short-stack ninja mode and skip the add-on.  What I will definitely do, is that the dealers will get a much higher percentage of any of my winnings, as I hate to see a change like this be a detriment to them.  The only changes that not taking the add-on should have for me is that I’m going to hit shove/fold mode a bit earlier if I’m not able to accumulate chips in the first hour.  Luckily for me, working with the shove/call Nash charts is something that I’ve been working on over the last year.

Another change is that if you’re not registered by 6:45 (starts at 7), you are now listed as an alternate.  This change won’t affect me at all because I get there early as I want to miss some of the traffic getting there.  But, for any of the players that are late, instead of the dead stacks getting blinded off from the beginning, now, there are no dead stacks.  However, any alternates lose a % of their chips based on when they enter.  Level 1 entries lose 10% of their chips (300).  Not sure what it is for level two, but it will be higher… so I definitely wouldn’t want to be late.

I start out at table 3, seat 7 and surprisingly, I don’t know a number of the players at the table.  Seat 1 is definitely my toughest competition, but I’ve also got my eye on a couple of the other seats.  I do notice that the cash games break up when the tourney starts and most of them are in the tourney (we’ll see how many know the difference between cash strategy and tourney strategy).  The first level is totally uneventful for me, as I don’t play a single hand.  I saw one A (A6o from UTG) and don’t even get a chance to see a flop from the BB. 

The second level starts and I’m getting hands that I’d open with in late position, in early position and nothing in LP or the blinds.  The first flop that I see is a free one after 3 limps on my BB where I totally miss the flop, so it’s an easy muck for me.   I finally pick up a hand that I would normally play, AQo from the hijack, but I get a 6x open from UTG+1 and a shove in front of me.  So much for playing that one and into the muck it goes.

The blinds now go up to 100/200 and I’m still card dead.  Late in the level, the first table breaks and we now get a full table.  I do recognize a couple of the players that get moved to me, especially the player to my left (won a seat last year).  I end the first hour with 1525 chips and wondering if not taking the add-on was going to cost me.

The second hour starts and the antes kick in and needless to say, with under 8BB, I’m looking for spots to start shoving.  The first orbit, I don’t get any cards nor a real spot to get them in with.  When I get to UTG+1, I finally get a spot as I look down at cowboys.  I’M ALL IN!  Since I hadn’t played a hand basically at all, everyone quickly mucks and I finally win a hand. 

A few hands later, it folds to me and I look down at quackers.  I’M ALL IN!  Once again, everyone mucks and I get another pot. 

When it gets to my BB, I get two limpers in front of me (both opps playing very loose) and I look down at A6s.  This is a very good spot for a semi-bluff squeeze, so I’M ALL IN!  Both opps muck and I finally get above a starting stack.

The blinds now go up to 200/400/50 and it folds to me in the cutoff and I look down at AKo.  I’M ALL IN!  This time however, when it gets to the BB, she looks down, counts out the chips, calls and flips over A3.  I get a king on the flop and double up.

We now get an interesting situation that hasn’t happened in any of the leagues here.  The floor comes to my table and says that we’re breaking?!  If there were 20 left, I’d understand, but there are twenty-one players left and I even tell the floor that there are 21 left (knew that one because I had just looked at the other tables and counted everyone during the previous shuffle).  They hand out the seat cards for our new seats and seat 10 (odd player out) says “Where’s my card?”  The floor still thinks there are 20 left and tells us to go to our new seats and that seat 10 will get the open chair.  Well, with 21 players, guess what, there is no open seat.  What he decides to do now, is to make table 5 an 11 player table.  I drew seat 7, but guess it turned into seat 6 1/2 LOL.  It also totally tilts seat 11 (seat 10 at my old table).

We start playing and more and more players are now in shove mode like me and I now have many more reads on the opps, as I know the majority of them at this table.  Maybe I did make the right choice in not taking the add-on.  The first orbit here, I’m back to being card dead. 

When I get to UTG, I look down at KQs and once again, I’M ALL IN!  This time it folds around to the BB and he not only has the odds to call with ATC, he knows he has the odds to do it (was in seat 8 at my old table).  He calls and flips over QJ, so I’ve got him dominated.  I even get a K on the flop, but with a 9 on the turn, I have to sweat the straight on the river and double up. 

We’re slowly losing players and as the blinds go up to 300/600, I look down at 77 when it folds to me.  I’M ALL IN!  I get a walk and more badly needed chips.  The second hour ends and I have 2600 chips.

We come back from break and the blinds are now 500/1k/100.  The first orbit again, I get absolutely nothing, but two players bust.  From UTG+1, I either need to go now or the next hand and I look down at J9o.  I’M ALL IN!  It folds to the BB that calls and flips over 97.  My jack plays and I get a few more chips.  

When it gets to my BB on the next orbit, I get a raise from seat 3 that is more than my remaining chips.  Well, I’m isolated against one opp that I know has a hand as he’s a tighter player from last year’s league.  With hardly any chips left, I’m priced in for anything, so I’M ALL IN blind!  The opp flips over AJs and I say “just give me two live cards”.  I flip over Q7s, so I’m not only live, but suited and get a queen on the flop, that holds.

I now look down at 44 and needless to say, I’M ALL IN!  Seat 10 calls and with another player in the pot and it not being much to call, the BB also calls as he’s getting great pot-odds.  The flop is 5 5 8 and I get a check/raise by seat 3.  That is not good as he could very easily have a 5 coming out of the blind.  Seat 10 folds and it’s even worse than I thought when he flips over 84o.  Not only does he have a higher two pair, he’s counterfeited one of my two outs?!  The river… the case four!!!!!!!   I more than triple up and now have about 10k chips, a playable stack.

This time, the floor gets it right and we combine tables as a player at the other table busts, so we’re down to 10 left.  I move to table 6 and draw seat 7.  While I don’t have history with everyone at this final table, I do have extensive history with many of them.  As we take our seats, two of the players actually say, “I see it’s the usual suspects here”.

I start the final table in about 8th in chips and with being at the final table, this is definitely now a keeper score.  The first hand that I get involved in is with seat 3 (seat 3 at the last table too coincidentally).  He shoves and I look down at AKo and need to try to isolate him.  I’M ALL IN!  The isolation play works and he flips over QJ.  That’s all great until he gets a J on the flop that holds.  Back down to a short stack again.

At 600/1200/200, I’m really short again and with less than a BB in front of me after posting the blind, the SB shoves blind (he’s priced in for ATC).  I’m obviously calling with anything, so I’M ALL IN!  I flip over my 97o and what does the opp turn over… 73o.  My junk has his junk dominated.  I get a 7 on the turn and win another one.

The blinds now go up to 1k/2k/300.  I get a short-stack shove, a call and another call by the SB.  Well, with it costing me less than a BB to call, I’m seeing this flop just due to the pot odds alone.  The flop is Q 7 5.  The other two opps are looking to check it down to try and eliminate the shorty.  I’ve got other ideas.  I’M ALL IN!  The SB is now kind of irritated with me and goes right into the tank when the other opp mucks.  He’s got some sort of hand, and obviously, it’s totally missed this flop (pair or big ace is my guess).  He mucks and I flip over my Q5s.  My short stack has now turned into about 20k.

The blinds now go up to 2k/4k/400 and seat 5 shoves.  I look down at AKo and I’M ALL IN!  He flips over A7 and my hand holds. 

I hit the third break with 19700 chips, but top of at an even 20k when I win the race for black chips. 

The blinds are now 3k/6k/500 and even the big stacks are small.  The first orbit, I get absolutely nothing and I’m not calling shoves by others in multi-way pots. 

We’re now down to 5 left and I need to find another spot to shove… and quick.  My blinds are 28 and 37 and both would be into multi-way pots.  Needless to say, I’m back to short-stacking when I muck them. 

On my button, I look down at 5c5d and that’s plenty good enough to shove with.  The SB (the other shortest stack) re-shoves and the BB calls as he's priced in with anything.  They flip over four unpaired broadway cards, so I’m actually ahead.  I get a huge problem on the flop though, as its all spades with an A.  The turn is the 3 of spades, so the BB can’t lose as he has the highest spade of the three of us. 

I hate being the money bubble and of all places, that’s where I’m at.  The SB made a very smart play here though, as he was on tilt from punting his chip lead, but with it being either him or me that was going to end up being the bubble and with the blinds hitting me first, I have to be the one to make the first move.  When I shoved, his re-shove would guarantee me going out first if I didn’t win the hand and was a smart play because it made me have to beat two players, instead of one, to make him the bubble.

This finish is hopefully a sign of things to come, as I’ve got a solid keeper score in and am in the top 10, what I need in order to get a bye directly into the finals.  In looking back at my plays, not taking the add-on did not change a single one of my actions the entire tournament.  Yes, it was an eventful evening, but if I had the extra 1k chips, it wouldn’t have changed a thing.  With this being the case, I guess I’ll be short-stacking it again next week.