The Live League finished up this past Tuesday with the Semi-finals starting at 3pm, and the finals at 7.  The top 10 in the league rankings automatically advanced to the 20 player finals, while the rest play in the semi-finals in “satellite” format, with the top 10 advancing from there to the finals.   As I finished 13th in the league ranking, I was on hand for the semi-finals at 3pm.  John was playing as well, and although we started on different tables, he was later moved to mine as soon as the first table broke.  

I had a couple interesting hands in the semis… the first one was, unfortunately, against John.  I was getting short stacked, and when it was folded to me in the cut off, I moved in with 5s4s.  John was in the BB… his stack, and that of the SB and Button were very good stack sizes to steal from (all covered me but would be crippled if they called and lost), and all 3 had been playing pretty conservative/tight.   So although 5 high isn’t much of a hand, the situation was good and I went for it.  The Button and SB folded, and John went into the tank.  He counted out the call, checked what he would have left, really deliberated, and finally announced a call.  Good call I said as I revealed my hand.  John turned over AdJd which is actually pretty great for me, I’m only a 60-40 underdog here (I was worried he was deliberating something like pocket 8’s, against which I would have been in terrible shape).   My fortunes changes quickly when I flopped a monster draw on the board of 3s 6c 8s (I am now a 70-30 favorite to win the hand).  That went to 100% with the 2s on the turn, and I double up.   It left John crippled, but he did manage to rally and come back to qualify for the finals anyway, so it worked out in the end.

The other key hand I had was later in the semis, with blinds at 300-600 I moved all in again on about an 8bb stack with pocket 5’s.  It folded to the guy on John’s right who said “call” and then threw 600 in.  He wasn’t paying attention and didn’t realize I had shoved.  Not only that, it was the 2nd time he had done this during the tournament, and he received a warning the last time.  He didn’t really want to call (so he said later) but he did have to make the call with A9 (I didn’t really want to flip, would have been quite happy just taking down the blinds and antes tbh).  His accidental call worked in my favor though, as I flopped a 5 and then rivered quads to get a key double up that propelled me to the finals.

In the finals I made a very nice read and river call with 3rd pair to win a nice little early pot.   On level  1 with blinds at 25-50 I limped in after a couple limpers with Jh9h.  We went to the flop 5 handed and it came Qs 6c 3d.  There were 3 checks to me and I decided to take a stab at it for 125.  I don’t usually bluff at multi-way pots but this flop was so dry, the 3 guys in front of me would have bet with a Q, so it looked like a reasonable spot to take a shot despite the large field.  The button called, and everyone else folded.  The turn was the 9s giving me a pair.  I checked, honestly planning to just give up as I thought the button would often have Qx in this spot.  But he checked behind me.  Hmmm… maybe he doesn’t have a Q after all I thought, he called simply because he didn’t believe me... he may have 54 for a straight draw, or 6x or a pocket pair, so now I felt like I was actually ahead a bunch of the time.  The river was the As, making the final board Qs 6c 3d 9s As.   I checked, expecting him to check it down mostly, as I didn’t think a bet could ever get called by worse hands.  Now he goes to his stack and comes out with a bet of 375.   What?  I went into the tank to think it through.  He would never bet a Q on this river after checking one back on the turn.  He would bet a flush of course, but how does he get to the river with 2 spades?  5s4s would make sense, but why not semi-bluff the turn with a huge draw when I check to him? 6sXs makes sense also but again I thought he might bet the turn with those types of hands as he is pretty aggro usually.  The rest of his range isn’t helped by this river unless he has specifically A6 or A3.  Ultimately this really felt a lot like a busted 54 or some small pair he was now turning into a bluff just because the river card is scary enough that I might fold a weak Q or some such hand strength.  So I called the bet.   “Nice call” he says (those are always beautiful words when you’re bluff catching lol), “I have a 6” and he shows me a 6 without showing the kicker.  He did a bit of a double take when I showed J9, tapped the table and said nh.  One nice thing about this type of scenario is that players are much more reluctant to mess with you after seeing a read like this, so I was pleased that this set up my image nicely. 

Unfortunately though it didn’t work out in the end.  Falling below 10bb’s I open shoved with KT from middle-late position… It folded to the BB who tanked for a bit, then started mumbling about how he had been folding these ace-rags all day (lol), and finally talked himself into calling with Ad6d.  The flop was ace high with 2 diamonds, so that didn’t work out for me, and I was done in 13th place.   At least I was able to make a nice evening out of it in the cash games afterwards.  JDean bubbled the final table, and JWK made it for a $100 payday, but we all came up short of the seat.
It was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed getting together with John and Dave each week for some live poker.  They are doing another couple leagues but because it’s too close to the wsop now the next one will be a cash league with the finals paying 5K to 1st and the roughly 7K of additional money (anticipated) to be spread out to the rest of the final table.  Also the are going to up the buy in from $50 to $60 a week and pay 4 spots on the weekly tournies instead of 3.  It’s a nice set up, in this format John would have picked up a much nicer prize than $100 for his efforts.  I won’t be playing in this next one as I need some Tuesdays off, nor in the next one as I’ll be in Vegas for the Main Event while that one’s running.  They are planning to run these leagues again for next year’s Main Event however, so I expect to get back on the horse after the break again. 

Thanks for following along with the League, it’s been fun sharing it with you.