So here are some critical hands from my Step 6. Ten players, first place gets the prize package, second and third get to try again, fourth through ninth have to drop down to lower levels, tenth gets a certainly infuriating $30.
Second hand of the satellite; everyone starts with 1000 chips. UTG+1 raises the T15 big blind to T90. Folded to me on the button with AKo. Geez, already an important decision to make. I don't like a large reraise, I don't like a small reraise, and I hate a fold, especially because those raises are often scared pairs like JJ or TT. I call. The flop comes AA8 with two hearts. UTG+1 bets 150 into the 205 pot. I can't put him on hearts, and if I can just get him to make one more bet I might be able to take his whole stack. I don't mind giving a free card to someone with two or fewer outs, and he might be able to put me on a hand that doesn't include an ace. I call. The turn's the deuce of hearts. He bets 325. I think and push. He pauses for a long time -- thirty seconds or so -- and calls with QQ (no heart.) The river's a blank and I'm up to 2005 chips.
Still in level 1, I get what is probably a bad call out of my system. The cutoff limps, I complete the small blind with JTo, and the big blind checks. Flop is 875 rainbow. Check-check-check. Turn's a deuce; check-check-check. River's a ten. Check, BB bets 45, fold, I call and he shows a flopped straight.
In level 2 I take down blinds in level 2 with 99, 66, and A9o, and don't do much of anything until level 4, when I open-push from the SB; BB posted 100, calls his other 540 with A6o, and hits an ace. I'm down to 1280.
The next hand it's folded to me on the button with K9s; I triple the blind. The big blind calls. Flop comes AJ7 with two of my suit, and the BB pushes for 515 into a 650 pot. Easy call; he has JT and I miss. Down to 465.
The blinds are about to go up and I need to find hands to push. I find one a couple hands later with K7o and take the blinds. The next hand I pick up QJs and take the blinds again; I'm up to 765. A fold, and then I push UTG with AQs. MP2 overpushes in a flash and I don't like the looks of it, but he TT, a worse hand than I feared, and I hit to get up to 1680.
Then I get QQ in the big blind, push against a late-position raiser, and see him fold. Up to 2195. A round later I open-push in the SB with TT and take it down uncontested. Gee, this game is easy when you keep getting premium hands.
Then I don't do much until it's 3-handed and I have QJo on the button. Blinds are 150-300 and I have 3295, a little too much to comfortably open-push, so I open for 900. SB pushes for 2280 total and I call. (I could have folded if the BB had pushed.) He shows KJ and the flop comes rags. Crap. Turn's the lovely Qh. I am so good at this game. River's a blank. We're heads-up and I have 60% of the chips.
A few hands in, I get 54s in the (400) big blind. Button completes and I check. Flop is 664. I check, button bets 450, I make it 2300, button pushes for 5k total, I call. He has T4o and I river an ace to chop the pot. I'd love it if a better player than I am would tell me how to play that pot. I might have gotten it right but I'm far from sure.
We push and fold for a while, and then this hand comes up: the button completes again and I check with 94s. Check-check. Turn's a 9. I'm pretty sure he's going to bet, and I check and call 600 (into a 1000 pot.) River's a beautiful 4. I check, he bets 1200, I push for another 2800ish (we started the hand almost exactly even,) he folds. I'm really not a habitual checkraiser heads-up (far from it, in fact,) but it seemed like a good idea at the time.
A few hands later I have what is almost a 4-1 chip lead and find KJo in the big blind. He open-pushes (for four big blinds) from the small blind and I have an automatic call. He shows ATo; I flop a king but he rivers a one-card flush.
But shortly thereafter I'm in the big blind again, and he open-pushes again (this time for 7 big blinds) and I have another automatic call with A9o and he shows KTo and the board ends up with five cards eight or smaller and I win. Off to Vegas, and all it took was, as a friendly fellow observing the table said, "[a] horseshoe up [my] ass."