Thirty five players showed up tonight for the league.  There were a few new faces (not eligible for week 10) and also some notable missing players (above me in the standings).

I start out at table 7, seat 4 and see that my starting table should be one that I would play well at.  The player that my eye is on is in the seat to my left, as I know that he’s one of the two smartest at the table.

I start out immediately, as I look down at AQ of diamonds and make a standard raise to 150 (3BB).  I get two callers, including seat 5.  The flop is Q J rag, with two clubs.  With 2 opps in the pot, I need to bet 2/3 pot in order to price out any draws that they’re on, so I bet 300 into the 475 pot.  Seat 5 calls me and the other opp goes away.  The turn is a blank and I now need to bet 1/2 pot in order to price him out, so I bet 525.  The opp tanks for a minute, then mucks and tells me “Nice bet”.  I find out later that the opp had an OESD.  While he did have some implied odds to call the flop bet (would only work for an extra bet out of me if my A hit for two pair), I think calling even a flop bet that prices him out is marginal because I’m definitely not paying off extra bets early in a tourney with only a pair, especially larger bets.  I most likely would pay off a turn bet or thin value bet on the river if the turn was checked and I hit two pair, but unlike many in this league, I’m not stacking off early with one pair.  At least I’m starting off quickly for once and I’m not dropping into shove range before finding a winner.

Two hands later, I look down at AK and make another standard raise to 150.  This time I get three callers.  The flop is J 7 3 with two spades and I lead out for 475 (3/4 pot so that it looks like I hit the J, instead of being on a big draw as even though I don’t have a made hand yet, if someone has Jx for one pair, I’m actually the favorite).  Everyone mucks and I take down another one.

The blinds now go up to 50/100 and I get a pot with 3 limpers and I look down at 33 and decide that I’m going to try to setmine with it.  The blinds come along too, so we get a family pot and a flop of A K J.  Needless to say, when there is a bet in front of me, I’m done with this hand.

Later this orbit, I get a limp from both UTG and UTG+1 and I look down at a pair of aces.  With 2 limpers, I make a standard raise to 500 (2.5BB+1BB for each limper) and have both of them call.  The flop is KQK and when it checks to me, I’m going to set the maximum that I can lose if they have a K, by c-betting and fire out 750.  The first opp goes away, but seat 10 tanks for a second and calls… and gives off a HUGE tell.  His hands are shaking like he’s been stuck in an icebox for a week.  He’s got at least a K and probably KQ, as he’d been raising big pairs in previous hands.  The turn is a blank and when he checks to me, I check behind so that I can get a free river.  I’m never going to be able to get him off his hand, so since I think I have two outs, I’ll take a shot at hitting one of them.  The river fills most of the draws, as it’s the 10 of hearts.  Now the opp decides to bomb the river.  This is basically always going to be a value bet from this opp and he’s sizing it larger because he missed value on the turn when I checked behind.  While most players would pay him off, especially with the tell, there’s no way he’s getting another chip out of me on this hand and into the muck my AA goes because they’re never good here.  Losing a very big pot doesn’t help my situation either, as since I’m starting 1k chips light, I can’t afford to be losing chips if I want to get a deep run.

The blinds now go up to 100/200 and table 8 breaks as we’re down to 30 left.  I see the players coming to my table and immediately see that two of the better players are now sitting in the two seats to my left and the original seat 5 that got moved away to balance tables, then ends up back in seat 2.  So much for this being an easier table.

The one hand that I play at this level is one where I look down at 66 and make a standard raise to 500 and take this one down preflop.  I end the first hour with 3175 chips.

The second hour starts and here come the antes.  Unfortunately, I don’t get anything even remotely playable the first few hands. 

I’m now down to 2700 chips and it looks like we’re getting another family pot, as everyone is limping on my button.  I look down at 44 and decide to try to setmine again.  I see a 6-way flop of A 7 4 with two hearts.  BINGO!  I don’t have to wait very long to figure out how to get chips into the middle either, as one of the opps leads for 500 and seat 10 min-raises to 1000.  Since any bet pot-commits me here… I’M ALL IN!  It folds back to seat 10 and he goes into the tank and I’m thinking, “I want my chips back from the AA hand, with interest”.  After a couple minutes, he calls and flips over AJ.  The board runs out blanks and I win a huge pot. 

When it gets to my SB, I get a limp from the button and I look down at KTs and decide that this is a pretty good scenario for a squeeze and raise to 700.  Both of the opps fold and I take down another one.

The blinds now go up to 200/400/50 and we’re now losing a number of players.  Of course, the blinds go up on my BB, but just before I have to pay them again, we’re down to 20 left and my table breaks.  I’m now moving to table 6 seat 10.  A number of players at this table are short, so I’m expecting it to be a bit crazy and it plays out exactly what I thought… a shove fest.  The first four hands at the table are all shoves.  Unfortunately for me, the shorties are winning everything.  Not a single one of them gets knocked out.

At the end of the orbit, I do get a chance to steal, as I make a standard open to 1k with TT and take it down preflop.

The blinds now go up to 300/600/75.  I get total trash the first orbit, as not a single hand is playable.  At least a couple players get knocked out, so I’m moving up some.   I then look down at 33 from MP and make a standard open to 1500.  Everyone mucks, so I win another one. 

The last hand before the second break is my BB.  UTG shoves his 3BB into the middle and it folds to me.  With my track record on hands before breaks, I probably should know better, but the opp’s loose and I look down at AJ and call.  He flips over A6, so I’m ahead for a millisecond, until there’s a 6 in the window.  UGH!  There goes about a 4700 pot that should have been mine, since I got my chips in well ahead.

We hit the second break with 18 left and I have 4050 chips, but start the next hour with 4100, as I won the race for green chips.

The blinds are now 500/1k/100 and there are a number of players that should be shoving, including me.  The very first hand, there is a limp and when it gets to my SB, I look down at AKo.  I’M ALL IN!  Everyone folds and I take one down without a fight. 

We now get a few more players that bust.  I look down at AQs and once again, I’M ALL IN!  Everyone folds again.

We’re now down to 13 left and from UTG+1, I look down at black aces.  I’M ALL IN!  With this being the third time in the last two orbits that I’ve shoved, I’m expecting to get called.  It folds to the BB that asks how much more it is and gets a reply from the dealer of 5200 after he counts out my chips.  He tanks for a couple minutes, calls and flips over AJ.  The flop is K Q x and the turn is another blank, so the opp needs to hit a gutter on the river.  Sure enough… TEN.  UGH!  Instead of being a larger stack with a deep run at a top 4, ITM, (I could have probably sat out and been top 7), I’m out in 13th.

At least it’s a keeper score, although I probably need two FT’s or a top 3 to get into the top 10 and avoid the semifinals.  I’ve been playing really well in these, tons better than where I’m ranked, and played well enough tonight to win it, but have had absolutely no luck at all.  I made the correct bets, was reading and ranging the opps correctly, taking advantage of favorable situations, etc.  Sooner or later, things are going to hold for me and when this streak evens itself out, someone’s in deep trouble. It does get frustrating when you know that you’re playing much better than the finishes that I’m getting, especially losing two big pots with aces.  I hope it’s week 10 where it happens, as that’s when the WSOP-ME seat’s on the line.