After missing out and bubbling two main event satellites, the first by getting QQ beat by A/rag then KK beat by AK, and the second by being card dead and running AT when it folded to me on the button into the BB’s AQ, my last shot was the HPT Survivor tournament. 

The satty losses hurt, as I played great in them and easily could have gotten a seat if any of those three hands held.  I even had two HPT regulars that are travelling pros with the circuit come up to me after and tell me that I deserved to get in.  Nice to have some street cred with the better players, but would rather have some $$$ for it. 

This is a different type of tourney, as it’s basically a satellite for cash.  The entry fee is $200 and the tournament stops when there are 14% left, with each getting $1200.  I start out at table 5, seat 9 and see that this should be a very interesting table as there are some unknown players, but there are also three that have just busted out of the main event and all three have final-tabled an HPT main.

The first two levels are fairly quiet, as I win two pots, one with a preflop raise with AQ and the other when I 3-bet TT preflop.  The player to my right is a laggy fish that was in the $1/$2 cash game prior to the tournament and he’s getting short due to playing too many hands.  He open-shoves from the cutoff and I look down at QQ on the button and re-shove to isolate him.  Everyone else goes away and he snap-calls with Q9.  The case queen comes on the flop and I’m now up to 18k chips from my 12k starting stack.

When the blinds get to 200/400/50, I get an interesting hand.  There is a limpfest in front of me, 5 of them and I look down at AKo in the BB and obviously decide to raise 2800.  UTG then snap-shoves 28k over my raise.  I pegged the guy as pretty clueless to start with, and that bet after open-limping from UTG just screams either old-school slowplayer (not the case) or internet player that is just used to shoving their big hands.  Well, that may work in an online freeroll, but trying to value-shove against a thinking player is NOT going to work.  I tank for a couple min and muck.  The opp shows QQ.  This is the second time I’ve seen the guy shove like that and the first one, he showed KK.  Needless to say, I’ve got a big note on this player and am now going to set him up to shove like that again so that I can use him for my ATM.  I hit the first break with 13050 in chips.

We come back from break to find out that there are 45 entries, 27 players left, with the top 6 getting $1200 and seventh getting $414.

At 300/600/75, I get the hand I was trying to setup.  I pick up 44 and make the table standard open to 1300 and get flatted by two players, including mr value-shove.  The flop is AK4 with two diamonds.  I make a standard value c-bet and here we go again.  The guy to my right ships his whole stack in.  The other opp quickly mucks, but with a set, needless to say, I’m snap-calling!  He shows AQ and I win a big pot to get up to 20k chips.

The next few orbits, I’m very card dead (see a number of T2o’s) and we’re now down to 20 players remaining.  With 18 left, I get another good opportunity.  I get a raise to 2500 and a flat in front of me.  I look down at AA and 3-bet to 6200.  The initial raiser tanks and folds (he had the real hand of the two) and the other guy quickly mucks, so I’m now up to 25k chips.

The players are now starting to drop as we’re down to 15 left.   I’m up to 29k chips, as I open-raise from the button with a coocoo and take down a set of blinds and antes.  A few minutes later, I steal another with 77 from UTG+1 and we’re now down to 13 left as two players bust the same hand at the other table.  I’m sitting at 30200 at the second break, sitting 7th in chips but only a couple BB from being in fifth, with 13 remaining.

We come back from break and the blinds are now 600/1200/200.  I now get into hand I’d rather forget.  I open to 2500 with AK and get flatted out of the blind.  The flop is KT6 with two spades.  I make a c-bet that gets called.  The turn is the 9 of spades.  QJ just got there and so did the flush draw.  The opp checks and I check behind for pot control.  The river is the J of spades, so there are now 4 to a straight and 4 to a flush and I’m basically 100% certain that I’m behind.  The opp bets out 11k, so needless to say, my cards are in the muck and I’m down to 15k chips.

While I’m now in desperate need of chips, I do now have easy decisions to make, as I only have two options... shove or fold.  We get down to 12 players left and I see an open in front of me from the hijack and I look down at A9 in the cutoff.  I’M ALL IN!  Everyone folds and I pick up some needed chips. 

On my next SB, it folds to me and I look down at J6o.  Well, the player in the BB will be crippled if they call and lose to me, so I figure I’ve got a ton of fold equity, so I’M ALL IN!  Another muck and a set of blinds/antes gained.

We get down to 10 left and everyone moves to my table.  I draw seat 8 for the Final Table.  This redraw creates a totally new table dynamic for me, as I’ve got the huge chip leader on my left, that is an unknown, and on my right is the player that was the bigstack at my table and probably the most solid opponent that I’ve played all night with. 

I start off 8th in chips and continue to be in 8th stack when the shortest left busts, so we’re down to 9 left. 

I now get into a very big hand.  I raise preflop from the button with KT and get flatted by the player on my right.  The flop is 846 rainbow and the opp donks into me.  Well, I’ve got two overs and position, so I decide to peel one and it’s a ten.  The opp checks and I fire a bet into him that he quickly calls.  The river is a queen and he open-shoves!  I now go into the tank.  The flop bet doesn’t mean much, as he could do this with any part of the board.  If so, I’ve got the best hand.  On the turn, having one pair makes sense too, as with only one over on the board, he could check/call for pot control.  He shouldn’t have a ten, as he didn’t lead the turn.  Now an overcard hits on the river.  He could have floated the flop and used a blocking bet to do it and have two overs with a queen, but I’m ruling out QT for two pair as that should have bet the turn.  The only other combination that I think may have me beat here is 68.  He also could be bluffing some sort of straight draw and I’m ahead of that.  After about 3 min, I decide to call and say “I’ve got a ten”.  The opp tries to muck his cards, but since it’s an ALL-IN, the dealer makes him turn over… 23s for a total bluff.  I’m now up to 41k chips and sitting in fifth place.  The guy now goes on absolute monkey tilt!  “You’re a shark!  Only a shark can make that call!” albeit said a bit more colorfully. 

As we lose another player to get down to 8 left, we’re on the bubble and that guy’s still talking to himself about the hand for the next twenty minutes.  I know he wants to play any pot with me, so I’m just going to sit back for a bit and see what happens.  The problem for me though, is that as he’s still on monkey tilt talking to himself, he proceeds to double all three stacks that are shorter than me.  That is definitely not what I want to see, as I’m now down to 8th stack from fifth. 

Well, I need to find a spot and I get one when I get a standard open from middle position and I look down at 88 and 18BB from the cutoff and 3-bet shove.  It folds around to the original raiser that snap calls and turns over, of all things, AA.  How many times in a week can a guy shove into aces?  Four times live and another nine online.  UGH!!!!!!   The window, of course has an ace in it, so I end up bubbling it in 8th.  When the river hits, the guy to my left says to the opp in the hand, “OMG, you got the shark.  Wow, someone knocked out the shark!”

That was not the way that I wanted this HPT run to end.  I was top 20% or better in every tournament, with no cashes.  I played well, just ran into cooler after cooler and between them all, the coolers cost me winning at least $5k.  I’ll get a few months to regroup, as the next tournament series that I will most likely play is the HPT at River City in St. Louis in April.