There were 37 players that showed up to play the league tonight.  I started off at table 8 seat 5 and when I get to the table, I see that I think I’ve got a pretty good table draw.  The only one that I know is seat 10 and know that he’s one of the better players.  Needless to say, I’m going to be watching the rest of them observing, since I don’t have history with them. 

I start out and pick up 99 the second hand and when folded to me, make a standard opening raise to 150 (3BB+1BB for each limper).  Both of the blinds call me and I get a flop of AK8.  When the SB leads and is called by the BB, needless to say, it’s an easy fold for me.  Too bad the 8 wasn’t a 9 or I could have won a huge pot here.

We now get two new players that sit down at my table, so I’m still watching, as I only have history with one of them.  I now pick up 33 from the cutoff and when folded to me, make another standard raise to 300 (blinds just went up to 50/100).  I get called by the blinds and get another unfavorable flop with two broadway cards.  Needless to say, this is another easy fold when one of them led the flop.

The next orbit, I open again to 300 with JJ and guess what, get the same two callers plus the BB.  This time, however, I get a favorable T high flop.  Since there are 3 opps in the pot, I need to bet 3/4 pot in order to protect my hand, so I bet 925.  Everyone mucks, so I pick up some badly needed chips since I’m sticking with my plan and short-stacking these tournaments.

It pays to be observant though, as I pick up a very useful tell on one of them.  I didn’t get a chance to use it tonight, but believe me, it’s filed away for later use.  One of the players has a facial tell every time that they miss the flop.  I picked up on it the first time that they did it, but couldn’t verify it because the hand never went to showdown.  However, there were 3 instances after this (2 when they missed and one where they hit) that DID go to showdown and every one of them verified my read.  With being able to tell when they miss, that’s going to allow me to steal pots from them and also when I know they have a big hand, it will save me chips due to letting anything even remotely marginal go.  Little things like this may not seem like much, but if you can get a tell on the opp’s cards and whether they hit the board or not, I should be able to exploit this in the future to win some extra chips, and in this type of fast structure, every chip helps.

I also pick up on a bet tell from another player, as he showed a number of hands where he bet very large, then showed a middle pair, so his overbets are marginally made hands.  This is another one that I’m filing away for if I ever run into him again.

Table 8 is always the first one to break, as they break tables 8 then 7 first as these don’t have the automatic shufflers and for the first time this league, we did NOT break by the end of the first hour.  I end with 2950 chips, basically my 3k starting stack.  Last week, I went out 50 minutes into the first hour and had 8 players finish worse than me.  Today, there are still 32 left out of 37, per the board.

As I come back from break, I notice that there is a rack in front of my chips and that two players busted at another table the last hand before break.  I draw a seat card and I’m now off to table 5 seat 8.  This new table has four players that I don’t recognize, but the others, I have some history with (including two very good players, last week’s winner is two seats to my right).  Another thing that immediately catches my eye is that seat 10 is a HUGE stack and an unknown, so I’ll definitely have to be keeping my eye on him.

The first orbit, I’m getting total trash and mucking everything.  Too bad J5 wasn’t a prop hand, or I’d have been leaving with a ton of chips.  At the end of this level (100/200/25), I’m now down to 1500 chips and get three limps in front of me on the button.  I look down at AK and this looks like a perfect squeeze spot.  Two of the limpers know me and I have a rock table image to them, so I’m certain they’re going to fold to a shove.  The questions are the third limper and the blinds.  I’M ALL IN!  Everyone quickly mucks and I pick up a badly needed pot.

The blinds now go up to 200/400/50 and the very next hand after my squeeze, I get a limp (same serial limper from the last hand), but then a min-raise from the player to my right.  I look down at AKs and this is another great spot to squeeze, so… I’M ALL IN!  Everyone mucks again and I take down another pot.

Later in the orbit, I get a hand that once again proves reads on a player help tremendously.  The player to my right open-limps and I look down at AQs and make a standard raise to 1400 (2.5BB+1BB for the limp).  It folds back around and I get called by the limper.   The flop totally misses me and he checks to me.  I have seen him limp AK many times in the past and also know that if he has a pair, he’s really sticky and will not fold.  The only hands that I can beat in his range are AJ, KQ, KJ or QJ, as with a T on the flop, any ten is ahead of me.  Even low pairs that have 3 overs on the board, he’s not going to let go of.  If I make a c-bet here, I’m basically going to be pot-committing myself and if he’s not folding, I decide that the best decision here is to check behind and hope to hit the turn.  It’s a blank for me and he now leads out for 1k.  Well, the weaker bet screams low/mid pair to me and since I only have A high and he's not going to fold a pair, I muck and the opp flips over 88.

This leaves me as a shorter stack again, so I’m back into shove/fold mode.  Three hands later, it folds to me on the button and I look down at A4… I’M ALL IN!  Both blinds muck, so I pick up another pot.

The very next hand, the player to my right open-limps again and I look down at KQs.  I’M ALL IN!  This time, the blinds don’t muck as quickly, but I do pick up another pot and as I do so, table 7 breaks, so we’re down to 20 left.

The blinds now go up to 300/600/75 and due to the blinds going up, I’m back to being shorter again.  When it gets to my BB, I get two limpers.  The big-stack in seat 10 that is now open-limping or min-raising a ton of pots and also a serial limper on the other side of the table.  I look down at 57 diamonds and figure that I know I’m behind if I get called, but I do have enough equity to make a play.  I’M ALL IN!  I was hoping that one or both would fold, but to my surprise, BOTH call, which is definitely not good, as I’m way behind both now.  The flop gives me hope, as its 4 6 T, so I now have an OESD.  The big stack checks and the other opp now shoves.  My hand is crushed now when seat 10 mucks and he flips over KK.  The turn is a 7, so now I pick up a few more outs.  River… THREE!  I scoop up a sizable pot and now have a playable stack.

The very next hand, I get a limp, then a min-raise from a LAG that plays a ton of pots.  I look down at TT in the SB and with as many chips that are in the pot already, I’M ALL IN!  Winning this pot if I’m called is going to set me up great for a very deep run (basically guaranteeing me a FT and probably at worst a mid FT finish), so it’s a play I’m very happy making.  The others quickly muck, so it’s up to the min-raiser… that goes into the tank.  After a couple minutes, he calls and flips over AK?!  No clue what he’s even thinking about, as I’m snap-calling with AK there.  There’s an ace in the window and I don’t hit a J for a straight on the river, so I’m out in 16th.  Considering that I’m up against a very loose player, taking a shot like this to guarantee me a final table (need a couple more to guarantee being in the top 10 at the end of the qualifying weeks, being a favorite in a huge +EV situation, I’m taking this shot every single time.

I was just outside the top 10 and this one should definitely be a keeper score.  The interesting thing that I’ll be looking for is to see how many players above me in the standings have missed a week.  If they do miss weeks, the bonus points for playing them all just might be what gets me to be able to skip the semis.  I’ll post where I’m at when the standings show up online later in the week.