Seventy players showed up at the Horseshoe in Hammond for a $130 satellite for the Chicago Poker Classic mini-series ME tonight.  The top 17 get seats and 18th gets $40. 

I start off at table 13 seat 6 with 6k chips and surprisingly don’t know anyone at my table.   I start the tourney off quickly, as I look down at pocket 7’s and make a standard opening raise to 150 (3BB+1BB for each limper).  I get called by seat 2.  The flop is 68T and with two overcards, when the opp checks, I check behind.  The turn is a 5, giving me an OESD and a pair and when the opp checks, I fire out 375 that is quickly called.  The river is another 10 and when the opp checks again, unless he has an 8, I should be good here, so I bet 525.  He tanks for a minute and calls.  I show my 77 and pick up the first pot when the opp mucks.

The very next hand, I’m at it again.  I look down at QQ and open to 200 since there was a limper.  I get three callers and see a T 7 2 flop.  I make a c-bet of 550 and take down another one.  The rest of the first level, I’m very quiet, but I’m noticing that I’m getting a pretty good read on seat 2.  He’s playing smallball LAG and is in about 75% of the pots… but they’re all for standard or small bets preflop.

The blinds now go up to 50/100 and here’s the play of the night.  I look down at two red queens and open to 300.  I get 3-bet to 1500 by seat 2 and pick up another caller (hadn’t played a hand yet) before it gets back to me.  Instead of 4-betting, I decide to call the 3-bet and see what happens on the flop, as I’m up against a player with a 0 VPIP and a smallball guy that is now all of a sudden betting huge.  The flop is J 9 4, so I’ve got an overpair to the board, but with what happened preflop, I decide to check to the 3-bettor when the first opp checks.  Here we go… 2500 (well over half his remaining stack) and it’s called by the other opp?!  I also notice something else that is of huge interest.  The smallball LAG has his cards in his hand and his hand’s shaking!  Normally on a board like this, I’m definitely making some sort of bet with QQ, but this whole situation for me falls into JDLR (Just Don’t Look Right).  I go into the tank for a minute and decide that at least one of them has me beat, maybe both and into the muck my queens go.  The turn is another J.  Another bet and call (noteworthy that they weren’t all-in), but the chips do go in on the river T.  Seat 2 shows quad jacks and the other opp shows and mucks pocket 10’s.  Luckily for me, I was very observant and picked up on seat 2’s out of character actions, because most players are probably not going to, and will end up going bust.

The next two levels, 75/150 and 100/200/25 are pretty much a wash for me.  I play a couple pots, taking them down preflop, but not much happening with my stack and I hit the first break at 7925 chips.

When we get back from break, we combine from 6 tables to 5 as there are now under 50 left (they left it at 6 tables until break, as late-reg was still open).  This session is not starting off good for me, as I go totally card dead.  150/300/25 and 200/400/50 go by and I only win one hand, taking one down with a preflop standard raise to 900 at 200/400.  The one positive is that we’re losing people pretty quickly.

When we get down to 30 left, the table next to me breaks and the only player left in the tourney that I know moves into seat 8.  Just what I’m looking for, an extremely tight player sitting in the BB for my button.  As the blinds go up to 300/600/50, I’m now down to 10BB, so I’m looking for spots to gain chips.

I’m able to steal two pots at this level preflop, to keep up with the blinds, but now they go up to 400/800/75 and the first orbit, I can’t play a hand as I’ve got trash and there are others at the table shoving. 

I now get to the second key hand.  I’m at 6BB and look down at AQs and when it folds to me, it’s an easy play, I’M ALL IN!  I did not want to see what happened next, Matt in seat 8 snap re-shoves.  He’s short too, but he’s the tightest player at the table by a mile.  I’d range him here at JJ+ AQ+ and luckily for me, he had the absolute bottom of his range... AQo!  We chop the pot, which is a huge relief to me as my hand plays horribly against his range.

Later in the level, I get into another one.  I’m still very short and desperately need a double-up.  I’m in the hijack and look down at A6o when it folds to me.  In go my chips, I’M ALL IN!  It folds to the BB in seat 10 that snap-calls me.  Uh oh!  He flips over AT, so I’m in deep trouble.  Blank, blank, ace, blank, SIX!  Jackpot!  I double up and get back in it. 

We hit the second break with 19 left and I’m still extremely short (8k chips).  When we get back from break, the blinds are now 600/1200/100, so I need to get more chips.  Yes, we only need to lose 2 and we’re playing HBH, but there are only 2 shorter than me… and not by much. 

I pick two spots to shove (AK and KQ) and pick these up preflop.  I then get a real break.  Seat 5 limps on my BB and I look down at 47o.  I decide to check and see a flop of 7 4 2.  When he checks, I shove and pick up another one.  If he wants to leak off chips to me, I’m short and will gladly take them.

The blinds now go up to 800/1600/200 and on my next BB he does it again!  This time, I look down at A7 of hearts and since this should be well ahead of his limp range, I’M ALL IN!  He quickly mucks, so I pick up a few more chips.

I now hear an all-in and a call at the other table.  Unfortunately, I don’t like what I see, as the shorty doubles and we’re back to HBH for the bubble. 

Seat 3 at my table that is getting extremely short, shoves A6 and is called by seat 7 with 88.  The board runs out blanks, so we’re all now getting something and the talk of a deal comes up.  Since there are 18 of us left, and 17 get seats and 18th gets $40, the other table wants everyone to throw in $10 each to give to the player that ends up without a seat.  Well, there are 3 short stacks and since I’m one of them, I’m all for it and gladly throw in my ten.  Everyone does it except for seat 7 at my table, which is thoroughly against it… so whomever ends up 18th will now walk away with $200.  

The bubble bursts, as seat 4 at my table (the shortest stack that never tried to steal a blind) goes all in and gets called 4-ways.  Seat 1 wins the pot, so the tourney is over! 

I now have a tournament ticket to play in the Chicago Poker Classic mini-series Main Event ($250k GTD) day 1C that starts at 12:15 on Saturday.  There were 120 that played 1A today and they played down to 12 left (top 10%), so I’m assuming that’s what they’ll do tomorrow and on Saturday too.  The players that survive the three day 1’s will then combine to play it out on Sunday for day 2.

This will make for a very busy week and a half for me now, as I’m also playing in the HPT bounty tournament next Monday and an HPT ME satty on Wed.  If I can make it thru that satty, I’ll play day 1B on Friday with day 2 on Sunday and day 3 on Monday, if I can make it that far.