Wednesday, January 31, 2007

ePassporte Comes Through (So Far)!!

Well after a long, long wait, and basically having given up hope, yesterday, finally, ePassporte appears to have come through for me. I signed up for an ePassporte account exactly 2 weeks ago today, and their website basically said they would be making two "microdeposits" of less than 30 cents into my account on a temporary/pending basis only, which should show up in my account within 2-4 business days, for verification purposes of my bank account. Well, as I said that was two weeks ago today now, and by last Monday night, 3 business days after my signup, I was really bummed to see no microdeposits in my account. I tried emailing ePassporte then, and tried again a few days later after a full week had passed. No response. In fact, they've still never responded to any of my emails, which is certainly not a good sign from a customer service perspective.

That said, all of a sudden yesterday when I logged in to my online bank account, out of the blue suddenly there were the two microdeposits from ePassporte! So in the end it took 10 full business days for the deposits to show up in my account -- not sure why that is but I can only assume it is because ePassporte must be totally inundated with new account requests ever since the whole Neteller debacle began -- but whatever the reason, I quickly verified my account on the ePassporte website, and made my first deposit yesterday.

Unfortunately, unlike Neteller's awesome Instacash option, which basically made an instantaneous transfer from my bank account to my Neteller account, ePassporte's website is clear that it will take approximately 7 business days for ACH transfers from my bank account to actually load into my ePassporte account. So that is far less convenient than Neteller Instacash. That said, on the good side, Neteller charged me something like 7% or something for every Instacash deposit from my bank to my Neteller account, whereas the ePassporte charges are actually far lower. This is in stark contrast to what everyone seems to be saying among the blogs as far as ePassporte having crazy high fees or something. ePassporte is charging me $2 for every $300 I deposit from my bank into my ePassporte account, with a $300 maxiumum daily deposit amount.

So, let's say I wanted to deposit $1200 from my bank into my ePassporte. On Neteller, that Instacash deposit would have cost me something like $80 or so (I don't remember the exact percentage but it's something like that). On ePassporte, that would take me 4 days to complete the loads due to the $300 daily maximum load -- a far smaller maximum daily limit than Neteller imposed on me -- but after 4 days, I would have paid only $8 in fees to get the money to my ePassporte account. Now granted, the money will not be available immediately in ePassporte like it would have been through Instacash, but you will certainly not hear me complaining about paying $8 to fund my account with $1200 instead of paying $80. That sounds like 90% less in fees than what I was normally paying to Neteller, not more in fees. So I'm perfectly happy with that aspect.

I've heard people say that "they've never paid a dime in fees to Neteller to deposit", so maybe those people weren't using Instacash, and were waiting the same couple of weeks to deposit funds that I have been waiting. Fine then, and I admit that would be a better comparison to compare the non-Instacash options at both sites. Now, let's assume it's true (I have no idea because I always only ever used Instacash at Neteller) that there were zero fees to do a regular (non-Instacash) deposit at Neteller. So fine, then it costs $0 to deposit $1200 at Neteller, and it costs $8 to deposit $1200 at ePassporte. Is that difference really worth giving a cripe about?

Let me put it this way. Sure, I will chose a $0 expenditure over an $8 expenditure by me any day of the week and twice on Sunday, why not. But, at the same time, charging me 0.6% on my deposits is not something which I give two cripes about. I don't mean to sound all rich here, which I surely am not, but I most definitely have better things to worry about than a 0.6% fee to deposit money into an account that I can use to fund my online poker addiction habit hobby. Don't you? Plus, let's be honest here -- I'm all for someone charging me a little something to take on extra risk or do extra administrative functions for me that I would not be able and/or willing to do myself. Obviously, ePassporte is taking on a great deal of risk by enabling me to fund an online poker account through its system. That is clear after the recent Firepay / Neteller / etc. issues over the past few months. What's more, they are the only site I know of right now that can enable me to get money electronically into online poker. So, for me, if I want to keep playing then it's either ePassporte or it's a trip out to Walgreen's, and hope they have the specific high-denomination prepaid Visa cards I need in stock, every time I want to fund. Isn't all that convenience worth 0.6%? It is to me. Easily. I mean, it's not like I'm running a hundred billion dollars worth my ePassporte account, such that 0.6% amounts to $600 million, real sum by anyone's standards. Is anyone really going to argue that it's not worth me paying $8 to deposit $1200 into full tilt and/or pokerstars?

And this doesn't even get into the ability for me to make a withdrawal from an online poker site, which as of right now I have no ability to do since Neteller disappeared as an option. ePassporte will also make that possible for me, which of course is invaluable since without it I can't ever get my hands on the millions of dollars I'll be winning, for example, in the FTOPS this year next month. And I freely admit, I've never used ePassporte before, so I don't know what other issues/charges/problems will arise in the whole deposit and withdrawal process with them. So I don't know, for example, if ePassporte is going to try to charge me a huge fee or something when it comes time for me to make a withdrawal from my ePassporte account back to my bank account. From their website it appears that this fee will be either nil or very small, but again I will have to wait and see until I actually do this to find out for sure. All I know is, for all you Neteller Instacash guys out there, the fees from ePassporte will seem a whole lot cheaper than what you've been used to paying. The time to load and fund your account will also be a lot more, but if that's the way it needs to be, then I'm fine with it and I'm glad as hell to be paying so much less than I was at Neteller to enable me to keep getting money into and out of the online poker sites I like to play at.

So in summary, the most important thing I want to say is that, to all you others out there who like me signed up a few weeks ago for ePassporte and have been waiting to fund your account since the whole Neteller business first started, don't despair! Even though it has taken much longer than the ePassporte website suggested was likely, after 10 full business days I finally did see those microdeposits show up yesterday, so you can probably expect something along similar lines to that as far as wait time. And the charges to deposit for me from my US bank account are 0.6%, with a daily max deposit of $300, and these funds will apparently take 7 business days to appear in my ePassporte account. But it appears to be working, and that is the most important thing right now.

Well, that, and the fact that I will never, ever have more than a small amount in my ePassporte account at any given time, now that Neteller has potentially burned so many thousands upon thousands of U.S. customers. Fool me once, shame on you. But fool me twice....

Anyways, I'd love to hear anyone else's stories regarding ePassporte in the comments here for everyone to read and see what to expect. If anyone has been using them for a while and can add anything as far as withdrawal fees when I want to withdraw back to my bank account, do tell here as well.

Mookie tonight, 10pm ET on full tilt (password is "vegas1" as always), and I am also already registered for the Mookie 2nd Chance at 11:30pm ET, even though that is O8 which I am really not into playing these days. But how can you pass up donking with the bloggers at a true donk's game? I cannot. See you then!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Asleep at the Wheel, and the Hoy Recap

Just a quickie post today (quickie for me, anyways), as I didn't really play a whole lot of poker last night, and didn't have much in the way of results either. Well, let me rephrase that. I final tabled the Hoy before busting out to the eventual winner and now back-to-back champion Fuel55, and I also cashed in the nightly HORSE mtt on full tilt. As those were the only two tournaments I played in yesterday, I suppose the night could be looked at as somewhat of a success. But I don't actually feel so great about either of them, as I really slept my way through the two tournaments.


See, here's the thing. Two nights ago, you may recall I final tabled the nightly 30k guaranteed tournament on fulltilt for the first time. I played great and had a real blast fighting my way through to the end after several failed attempts at a deep run in this thing, which I really focused on in January after discovering those two juicy 8-9pm ET turbo satellites into every night's 30k guaranteed event that I've written about here several times of late. So the good part is that I can get (and have gotten) in to the $109 buyin 30k guaranteed tournament on the cheap every time I've played it this month. On the bad side though, the tournament itself does not start until 11pm ET. Now, 11 o clock for me is acceptable if it's a smallish, turbo-style tournament, like the Mookie 2nd Chance for example, where I have confidence that the thing will be over within a couple of hours and there won't be 300 people to wade through in order to reach the end. But, a big "true" multi-table tournament that starts at 11pm ET is not exactly good for me, and here's why. I final tabled it the other night, winning a nice cash in the process that should keep me from needing to make another Walgreen's run for the Gift2Go Visa cards for a good little while here, but to do so required me to stay up until around 4:30am ET. And as if 4:30am isn't bad enough, I have not only a job that I generally go in early to, but I also have two beautiful Hammer Girls who wouldn't know how to sleep much past 6am no matter how late they were up the night before and no matter how sick, tired, or sick and tired they are.

So, skip ahead to last night. Going on literally 1 hour and 40 minutes of sleep, I worked a full day, came home at my normal time and put M, my oldest daughter, to bed after a typically long struggle that involved several books, more than a few piggy backs and a whole lot of negotiation and dealmaking before the lights were finally off and all was quiet on the western front. Then Hammer Wife and I ate some dinner and watched a couple more episodes of our new favorite tv show on DVD, 24. At 10pm ET I logged on for the Hoy as well as the 10:15pm ET HORSE tournament on full tilt, but as soon as the lights were down and Hammer Wife went to bed, my eyes starting feeling droopy. No, not exactly droopy. Let's say "leaden" instead. It probably wasn't 10 or 15 minutes into the Hoy before I caught myself falling asleep for the first time. In fact, in the hour or so I was in the Hoy, I bet I timed out and fell asleep at the computer at least 3 or 4 different times. I would like to formally apologize to all of last night's participants for slowing things down and probably causing a lot of you to type in the normal "zzzzzzzzz" comments to me, which I deserved. But hey you were right -- I actually was sleeping! I needed it. As it is I only usually get 4-5 hours of sleep a night, tops, but even I can't really burn the midnight oil one night after getting just basically an hour and a half of shuteye, and last night was no exception.

Anyways, as I said I ended up waking up enough to call an allin on a K64 board with my pocket Jacks, running into Fuel's pocket 6s for the third (yes that's right, third) time I would run into a flopped set in just under an hour of play in the Hoy last night, and I mercifully headed home in 8th place there. As I mentioned, in the end Fuel rode the chip lead through to the cash, eventually overcoming some suckouts and fighting all the way to victory for his second consecutive Hoy title, something that I believe only my home game guy drraz can claim in addition now to Fuel. I would love to give some more details of Fuel's incredible run last night, but as I was asleep I don't have any details to give, so go check out Fuel's blog where he has a Hoyazo-esque writeup of last night's affairs (minus the screenshots of course, I own the patent on that idea). Congratulations to Fuel for winning the $150 first prize, in addition to NewinNov for 2nd place ($90) and to Goat for third ($60).

So here is the updated money leaderboard, including last night's results, through four MATH tournaments so far in 2007:

1. Fuel55 $350
2. VinNay $310
3. Hoyazo $200
4. Zeem $120
5. Ganton516 $114
6. NewinNov $90
7. PhinCity $80
8. jeciimd $80
9. Manik79 $76
10. Julius Goat $60

Congratulations to everyone on the top ten list so far, and I look forward to seeing you all next week for more donkery, and hopefully to take down Fuel from his perch atop the money list after two straight wins here at the Hoy.

Anyways, I remember waking up in my chair enough to see the first break of the HORSE tournament last night, and as I remember I was in the top 10 of players with I believe 79 people remaining (155 runners began, as I recall) after a huge pot in LHE when I flopped a set on a KQT board and got AK to cap me on every street (what a clown) and another huge pot in O8 where I also flopped top set with KK in my hand on a board that ended up having no low hand available, and where my opponent had AA in his hand and simply could not accept that all my raising meant his two pairs were beat by my hand. So despite being in great position heading into hour 2, I knew I simply didn't have it in me to continue, and so I got up and went to sleep.

Waking up this morning I was surprised to see the window on my screen informing me that I had finished the HORSE tournament in 19th place for 40-some dollars and change! How I managed to blind my way into the cash is truly beyond me, with the Ms getting as low as they do, and the blinds growing as high as they do, nearing the cash in these online tournaments, but somehow it happened. I would think that maybe Hammer Wife played a few hands for me, but she wouldn't know the first thing about Omaha, doesn't know when to Holdem, and only has one Stud in her life and it ain't a card game, and plus she was asleep before me as usual. So, the only rational answer is that I folded my way for at least what had to be another hour into the money positions, which began at 24th place.

What's funniest about this is, when I told Hammer Wife this morning about this story, she replied saying how sad it was that I wasn't awake to win this event, since I had done so well without even playing for the last 90 minutes or whatever. But I explained to her the way this stuff really works. Fold fold folding was I'm sure the only reason I was able to come even close to the money in the HORSE mtt last night. If you play a lot of HORSE tournaments on full tilt, then you know as well as I do that I would have pushed all of my money in on 4th street in razz with four wheel cards in my hand, only to end up with AA2 on my last 3 cards and finishing with a boat, losing heads-up to an assidiot who was in there with an 8-low draw and missed, finishing with a Queen-low that beat my boat. I've been around the block with this tournament enough times to know how this ends up. So kudos to me for discovering the way to cash in the nightly HORSE mtt on full tilt -- get a big lead early, and then turn off the pc and go to sleep. Brilliant. I should write an online poker strategy book with nuggets like this. Gold, Jerry, gold!

OK that's all for today. The good news is I am well-rested now, and looking forward to some pokery goodness tonight as usual. I should be in the WWdN at 8:30pm ET on pokerstars (password is "monkey" as always), and I imagine I'll be back in those 8:15 and 8:45pm ET satellites into the 30k tonight as well, so look for me and hopefully I'll see you at the Wheatie where I'd love to make a major splash and take down my second WWdN and first blogger title of 2007.

Monday, January 29, 2007

MATH, WPBT, Neteller, Reloads, 24 and the 30k Guaranteed

Wow, I have got a ton to talk about today. So much in fact, that I might need to spread it over a few posts. I can write a long one, don't get me wrong, but I'm just not the master of the uberpost like a certain dwarf we all know and love. So I'm going to get started right quick here and we'll see how far it gets today.

First things first. Tonight is your regularly scheduled Mondays at the Hoy tournament:

Yes, you will see that we are still on pokerstars. Much of my furor over that incident in the big buyin Wednesday night tournament a few weeks back has subsided, and I have continued to have a fair amount of success in cash games and mtt's on pokerstars, so for now we will continue to meet there for our weekly donkings. I still have some fun plans in the works for future tournaments, which I will set up and announce right here if I ever get around to running them, but for now the weekly Hoy remains on pokerstars and will go off as usual tonight. As a reminder, here is the 2007 money leaderboard:

1. VinNay $310
2. Hoyazo $200
3. Fuel55 $200
4. Zeem $120
5. Ganton516 $114
6. PhinCity $80
7. jeciimd $80
8. Manik79 $76

So come on out tonight and start the new week of right, with all your fake internet friends and bloggers donking it up on pokerstars.

Speaking of bloggers donking it up, last night was the return of the WPBT tournament series, as I mentioned here last week. A huge 61 players showed up to kick off the new year's WPBT tournament circuit, and yours truly managed to be the Gigli for the event, donking out in 5 hands after what I can only describe as a sick, sad and sorry series of shitty beats and horrible rivers. Let's see....It all started off when my boy Papi Justify stuck around to the river and then managed to hit his 2-outer 6, to match the two sixes he had in the pocket, and to steal a large pot that I had been well ahead on from the flop on. Now Papi has been a loyal reader for quite a while, and I couldn't have picked a nicer guy to river-steal half my stack on the third hand of the tournament, so I'm not going to rant and rave here like I think this play is fully deserving of. So Papi, let's just say that you know what you did there, and leave it at that. So that was half my stack, three hands in.

The very next hand, Fuel55 tried his absolute damnedest to lose with his pocket Kings, not only slow-playing them preflop, but then slow-playing them on every single street as well, waiting, begging, pleading for an Ace to fall so he could barch about losing. Instead, in another river treat for me, a Queen fell to nail the top pair on the board with my AQo in my hand, and Fuel managed to slow-raise me for about 3/4 of my already shortened remaining stack, which I obviously had to call given the action to that point in the hand. Four hands, two opponents doing everything they could to lose a lot of chips, and two river horrors to get me from the 3000 chip starting stacks to under 500 within 5 minutes. And then just to complete the trifecta, precisely two hands later, Irongirl took her pocket Tens and knocked out my AKo, and my WPBT night ended mercifully early. The whole thing sucked just about the biggest one I could imagine for me at the WPBT last night, but at least I was pleased to see that Papi busted out (even with all of my chips to give him the very early chip lead) I think three players later -- I can't say I'm surprised if you're going to make calls like he did against me there -- and I chatted with Fuel later and heard that he got horribly rivered out early from the WPBT tournament as well. I wasn't quite as pleased to see that, because Fuel hadn't made an inexplicable call so much as just a highly questionable and not advisable slow-play attempt that just got laughably and luckily rewarded at the river. But I don't want anyone who gets lucky on the river against me early on in a significant blogger tournament to go on to do jack shit with my chips. So I was glad to see that. I believe rspr went on to win the event, which you should be able to read all about soon at Columbo's blog.

Oh yeah, my boy jeciimd finally got off his ass and started up a poker blog in connection with the 2007 WPBT season, so at least one good thing came out of yesterday's tournament from my perspective. Now, it still remains to be seen how much updating really goes on over there, but just starting the thing up is the first step, and the first post was really funny I have to say. So hopefully there will be more fun to come in that ghey little space of the ghey little blogosphere.

I imagine many or most of you have heard the news by now, but Neteller late last week announced that they are not currently giving any U.S. players any cashouts of their Neteller balances. This after just a few days ago retaining the party line that one could order a Neteller Gold card, and make withdrawals via that card in $1000 increments daily, each for only a $2 charge. Now, no new Neteller cards are being issued, and no cashouts are being honored currently by the former world's #1 e-payment processor for online gambling accounts. This to me is real trouble. I wrote an article about this over at Cardsquad over the weekend, which I encourage you to read if you have any interest at all, but basically let me just reproduce here three FAQ's and answers from Neteller's newly-updated "Notice to U.S. Players", which I believe tell the whole story as far as I'm concerned:

"How can I withdraw funds from my NETELLER account?

At this time, our ability to provide US members with withdrawals is significantly reduced. As a top priority, we are working to resolve all withdrawal issues, but in the meantime we continue to maintain these funds in trust on your behalf. Please check this page regularly for more updates.

Why can't I use my Gold NETELLER Card anymore?

The Gold NETELLER Card is not available as a withdrawal option at this time.

We are doing our best to restore our withdrawal options but don't know how long this will take. In the meantime your funds are safely maintained in trust accounts. We will communicate any updates as soon as possible.

Why can't I get a Gold NETELLER Card anymore?

We are temporarily not issuing Gold NETELLER Cards. The Gold NETELLER Card is not available as a withdrawal option at this time."

What kills me about this business with Neteller is #1 how they keep changing the cashout situation, and keep changing it for the worse, almost on a weekly basis lately since the arrest of their co-founders a few weeks back. And #2, how the company continues to insist that they will make all cashout payments eventually, and how all customer funds are kept in separate trust accounts.

Let me tell you all a little bit about trust accounts. It's really a lot more simple than Neteller, and many people who refuse to believe they're in the early stages of a Pokerspot-like screwjob from Neteller, would have you believe: If Neteller really had everyone's funds in separate trust accounts, then we would all be permitted to withdraw our own money at our discretion here. But we're not. Neteller isn't allowing anybody to withdraw any funds in the U.S., period. They won't even make any commitment whatsoever as to when they expect these funds to be paid. They won't say within 2 weeks, they won't say within 2 months, nothing. They won't say at all. Factually speaking, this is not how a company acts who has all of their customers' funds in separate trust accounts. I've heard some people argue it's a liquidity issue, and that Neteller clearly has the money but they just need to sell some securities and then they can make all the cashout payments. Guys, this isn't how a company in that situation would act. They would have already sold a large number of their financial instruments in the two or three weeks since the shit hit the fan, and they would be paying a large number of their U.S. clients, or maybe paying all of them some of the money they owe us. I don't know what to tell you if you don't recognize this for what it is, but to me it is clear that Neteller does not have everyone's money right now that they claim they keep in separate trust accounts for us all. Plain and simple. It's the only thing that actually explains what they've done here, and the constant backpedalling, and the redickulous lack of any time commitment from them as to when any cashouts will occur.

Let me say it this way, to all you guys who, like me, are owed some money by Neteller: Before last week's latest update, I was already telling people I figured there was a 20-25% chance that I would never see the funds that Neteller owes me. I had ordered a Neteller card last week already, and they said I would have it within 21 days and that I would then be able to withdraw $1000 a day with the card from any ATM machine, but with the massive departure of thousands (millions?) of customers and surely millions and millions of dollars from the Neteller system since they backed out of the U.S. market, I already had serious doubts as to the ongoing existence of the company, at least in the form we have known it up until now. But now that suddenly no more Neteller cards are being issued (presumably including mine), and now that suddenly absolutely no cashouts of any kind are being processed for U.S. customers, in my own head I am raising the likelihood that I never see my money to somewhere over 50%. If you believe differently, so be it, and of course you may be right, and believe me I hope you are. But in my head, this money is now gone. If I ever get anything back from Neteller, I will treat it as found money and that's it. Because right now, I freely admit that I am not expecting to ever see this money, not if Neteller right now can't commit to any time period in which they will pay this back. There are some good comments over at the Cardsquad article, so maybe check it out if this interests you.

Two other quick things -- and I guess this is turning into quite a long Iggified post after all -- but first I just wanted to give a shout-out here to somewhat new blogger Don Morris, for pointing me to the link that eventually showed me one way that we all can reload our pokerstars and full tilt accounts. And it works. Basically the secret is the Gift2Go prepaid Visa card, which is sold at Walgreen's stores across the country. You just need to buy one for at least a $50 denomination (since the minimum deposit at these sites from Visa if $50) -- it basically costs a few bucks to purchase but that's it -- and then you simply deposit at one of these sites using your card as a regular "Visa" deposit. Again I got the idea from Don's blog -- actually it was linked from Waffles' blog so I guess I owe both of these guys my gratitude -- and it basically all stems from a 2+2 link and a corresponding Pocket 5s link, so go check it out if you want to read more. Apparently there are other cards that work as well -- but not all of them so make sure you do your homework at these sites before you buy any of these things for online poker deposits -- but I can personally attest that Gift2Go Visa cards work on both pokerstars and fulltilt, because I personally deposited with such cards on both sites this very weekend. And again make sure the cards you buy are of at least a $50 denomination or they won't be useable for a deposit into either stars or full tilt. But otherwise these things do work, and as long as there is a Walgreen's not too far from you, this is a prefectly viable option to get some money onto the sites right now, so you can keep playing your blogger tournaments, getting your nightly Omaha fix, whatever your poison is, the Gift2Go prepaid Visa card is the shizzy. If anyone has found any other cards or deposit methods that work, please post them in the comments here. Otherwise I have purposely kinda buried this very important fact down here in my post, as I don't want to call any more attention to this than necessary, but these particular cards absolutely do work, and I have the personal knowledge and experience to vouch for their effectiveness, at least as of today.

The last thing, which normally on a regular Monday would be worthy of an entire longass post of its own, but today is relegated to just this statement and the one final leaderboard screenshot -- is last night, after satelliting my way into the nightly 30k guaranteed tournament on full tilt for the 11th or 12th time now this month through that juicy $14 turbo sat every night at 8:45pm ET, I managed to lift the balance in my full tilt account nicely with a 7th place finish out of I think 312 players total in the event:

This was good for a little under a grand in total, and it's a shame because I just missed the really big payouts which jumped over $1200 starting with spot #6, but believe me when I say I am thrilled about my performance in this thing overall. With these satellites I've been writing about, getting into the 30k has not been very difficult at all, and for a $109 buyin tournament, I have probably played in it 12 times this month, for a grand total of maybe around $250 in satellite buyin fees, so I've already made some nice coinage just from this 30k in January with this cash and another smaller cash earlier in the month. But at least I won't need to be running back out to the Walgreen's on 23rd and Park again anytime soon (for all you New Yorkers, I was there this weekend and that particular store seemed to have a nice amount of $100 Gift2Go cards). Now, if mother effing Neteller would just give me back my fucking money from that safe and segregated little "trust" account, I would be all good.

Oh yeah, one last quick thing -- Hammer Wife and I started watching 24 this weekend after having the first season on DVD sitting on our shelf for about 18 months just gathering dust. So far we've watched the first five episodes of the first season, and it's very entertaining. A little over the top for my tastes, but very enjoyable and well-executed. So no spoilers, but as with my wife and my run through Lost a few months ago, I will probably be spending more time watching 24 and less playing poker in the early evenings over the coming weeks, as I have a feeling Hammer Wife and I will be getting pretty into this show before all is said and done.

OK I'm outtie and I'm going to post this now to get it up there for you all to read. Definitely come and play the Hoy tonight if you can, as we look to round out the top 10 list of 2007 cashers in this weekly Monday night tournament on pokerstars. Password is "hammer" as always. See you tonight at Mondays at the Hoy, and go get those Gift2Go cards!

Friday, January 26, 2007

WPBT Returns, Chasing Rivers and Razzing With Jesus

Last night was a fun night of poker for a change. Well, scratch that. Satelliting my way into the 30k 6-max nlh tournament on full tilt for the 9th time this month last night, and entering the top 15 seat-paying spots in that satellite in first place overall, that was fun. Entering the third hour of the 30k in 9th place out of 90 remaining players, staying up playing poker until the wee hours of the morning just like the old days, that was fun. But at 2:06am ET, down to 47 players remaining with the top 42 players getting paid in the 30k, open-raising KTs from the small blind into a big-blind special holding pocket Jacks and failing to connect with the board was not all that fun. Two hands later, pushing my short stack allin preflop with pocket Jacks and running into pocket Kings was not nearly as fun either. And bubbling out of that thing in 46th place out of 340-some players, was most definitely not fun. But I'm not killing myself over my play there. Anyone who plays these 6-max tournaments knows how much they are basically steal-fests. I stole and stole and stole my way to near the bubble, so I'm not gonna beat myself up over doing exactly that same thing but getting burned near the end there. And the Jacks vs. Kings thing, it's just terrible, horrendous luck, but to be honest, I hit a major suckout about an hour earlier when I was allin and drawing to just two outs on the river, so what comes around goes around I guess. To be honest, this was the best run I've had in a nlh tournament in probably a few weeks, so overall it was a positive thing I suppose.

Actually, another thing was really disgustingly un-fun last night as well, come to think of it. Last night I played in Al's Riverchasers tournament. I sat at the same table for the entire two hours or so I was in, sitting with fellow bloggers and WPBT progenitors Byron and Columbo for nearly the entire time -- that is, until Columbo eliminated Byron by hitting a draw of some kind on the river as I recall. At first this was fun, as I started off hot when I eliminated riggstad, the guy who Al calls "the boss man" in this tournament, on like the third hand of the tournament, when my limped-in K5o nailed the flop of K54. I bet out on the flop, riggstad raised me, and I instantly put him on a decent King. With top two pairs and a limped-in pot, I wasn't putting him on anything ahead of me, but as I've seen the play in this thing before I figured this guy will stick with me if he has anything good, so I just went ahead and pushed right there. He called with KQ, and for once my dominating favorite held up early in this tourney, making me the early chipleader out of I think 65 players overall.

Another fun thing about Riverchasers yesterday was that I managed to get pocket Aces dealt to me not once, not twice, not three times but four times in just a couple of hours. Yet even this still managed to end up not being fun for me, as I lost with the first pocket Aces early on when 4 to a high straight landed on the turn and I was forced to fold to a clear made straight. The second time saw three high soooted cards hit the flop, and I was forced to check all the way to the river before taking down a tiny pot with my Aces. Then I lost the third pocket Aces about 90 minutes in when a clown with 77 ended up rivering a despicable inside straight. Two hands later, down to just two tables left in the event, I found pocket Aces again, with some fool already raising 3x UTG, so I pushed my shortish stack at this point, knowing I would get a call. I did, from another clown holding another pocket 7s. As I typed "wonder how I'm going to lose this time?" into the chat, no sooner had I hit "enter" and sent that message that the flop came 972, and IGH. Disgusting. Anybody else out there ever lose with pocket Aces three times in the same tournament? I doubt it. If that had ever happened to anyone, me thinks it would be me. But that fucking sucked. Though I have to say I thoroughly enjoy playing in this tournament overall, and I thank Big Al for hosting as always and look forward to playing it again soon.

Near the beginning of the Riverchasers tournament, Columbo and I decided in the chat to play in the 9:45pm ET razz mtt on full tilt, as the system announcement said Chris "Jesus" Ferguson would be playing in this $5 event, and that really was a lot of fun. Me and a lot of other guys like me joined up based more or less solely in the hopes of catching a glimpse of Jesus himself, and when I sat down to my starting table, there was Jesus, sitting two seats to my right. And, for those of you who've never played a big tournament with a big pro at your table, let me tell you -- the chat and commentary directed at the guy was insane. I don't know these pros do it, honestly. I mean, Jesus must have had his observer chat turned off, because there were no less than a hundred fuckdonks at that table, making all kinds of nice and not-so-nice commentary, accusations, jokes, etc. toward him. Jesus, as is his way, was very quiet overall at the table, and frankly he played some horrible razz. I think in the end he busted out in 211th place out of like 350 players, and he only won one pot in the entire hour-plus I sat with him. I played great early, winning a few pots from the former WSOP main event champion known to be one of the headiest poker pros in the world today, but in the end I succumbed to the hatefulness that is razz, busting in 100th place when my 7-low on 4th street failed to improve and I lost to a 9 low drawn at by an uberdonkey. Ahhh razz. You fucking whore.

OK well before I run, ths biggest announcement I have today actually relates to a private tournament going down on Sunday over at full tilt:

play this or you're a fuckbag

That's right, the WPBT tour is back in da house for 2007, with the first event starting things up at 9pm ET on Sunday January 28. This will be the first event of several scheduled for the year, and assuming the fucking U.S. government allows us to keep playing together online, the WPBT is, to me, the single best opportunity for the poker bloggers of the world to make a splash and show their skills. Yes the weekly blogger tournaments are always fun, but the WPBT will rotate many different poker variants, and it always brings out the best players among the poker blogging crew. So, if you have a poker blog -- new or old -- and you're looking to test your poker mettle against the best and brightest that the poker blogging world has to offer, or you're a new poker blogger trying to get some recognition through your great skillz (or suckout powers), then be there this Sunday on full tilt for the first event of the new 2007 WPBT season.

Edit: Miami Don has got another great post up today with odds on the favorite bloggers in the 2007 POY race. Go check it out and make your predictions for the series, the first event of which is on this coming Sunday night.

See you then!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Late-Stage Satellite Question (Part II)

Today I'm going to post the rest of my inquiry that I started here yesterday regarding the end game of that 30k satellite I played this week on full tilt. If you recall from yesterday's post, I was in 5th of 7 players remaining in a 90-some person satellite, with just the top 4 spots receiving seats to the nightly 30k guaranteed 6-max tournament. I was the middle stack at my table of 3 players, with the current 3rd place stack to my right, and the current last place stack to my left. Already in for the 1200-chip small blind plus the 300 ante, the big stack to my right had min-raised UTG to 4800 chips, and I had QQ. I asked what you all would have done in this situation, as I elected to just min-reraise, in the hopes of attracting a caller with what was surely the best hand here before the flop.

I received a number of thoughtful comments to my post, and I have to admit I was, and still am, really shocked at the unanimousness of everyones' opinions on this question. Especially since I still think the unanimous opinion is not the correct one. Basically, every single commenter without exception said I should have just pushed allin here for my last 17000 chips or so, hopefully making everyone else fold and taking down the big blind, the antes and the 4800 chips bet by the UTG big stack. Now, I am man enough to accept that if everyone thinks I made the wrong move, then there is obviously some merit to that approach. I just can't help but think that people are unable to divorce themselves from the fact that I have this hand up on my blog, and therefore they are expecting the worst, thinking someone else must have an Ace or a King in their hand, and that since I have pocket Queens I am of course going to lose. In reality, in the heat of the battle, and not automatically assuming the worst, I am still liking my play of taking down an additional 5k in chips before the flop, just minraising here, and then pushing in and taking down the pot when I am almost surely ahead once the flop comes out, and someone like the big stack is unwilling to put the rest of his big stack at risk so close to the money seats.

Well, in any event, so you already know I basically minraised here:

and then a strange thing happened. The small stack up top called off basically the rest of his short stack here preflop:

and then to make things even more interesting, Mr. Big Stack responds by min-re-reraising again , raising it up to 15,200 chips.

So now what? Am I supposed to fold the third-best possible starting hand here, having already dropped around 60% of my stack into the pot so far? I would love to hear what you all think is my best response at this point.

For me, the choice was easy. I pushed:

IMO, how could I not push here? I simply refuse to assume that I am behind here, and even though I had to admit that as a realistic possibility -- at least that the big stack has AK, if not KK or AA -- there was just no way I was going to fold, leave myself the short stack remaining in the tournament out of 6 players left (with 4 getting seats, remember), when I held QQ at a 3-handed table.

Long story short, the short stack up top called off his last 1000 chips (of course), and the big stack went on to call my allin bet as well. Anybody want to guess what these two players had? Take your guesses, and I will post the screenshot below after some space so as not to ruin your guesses:

Woohooo! Right? Wrong:

The big stack takes down a huge pot, knocking out the rest of his entire table at once, in a very strange hand, mathematically speaking. Here we are at a 3-handed table, and in the exact same hand, I've got QQ, the shorty has 99, and the big stack has AK. Truly unusual to say the least.

Anyways, my last question here is, as I went home in 6th place, good for $24 and change but not the 30k seat I was really after that night, who played this hand the worst? Was it me? The short stack and his pocket 9s after all the calling and raising that went down? Or, was it the big stack who put his entire tournament at risk, when he was already in position to win his 30k seat, with just AK against two raisers and callers of raisers preflop? I'd love to hear your thoughts on how this hand eventually shook out.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Late-Stage Satellite Strategy Question

OK today I'd like to get eveyrone's thoughts about a situation that I was faced with near the end game of a multi-seat satellite tournament on full tilt. I want to know what you guys think of my play here, as well as what you think of the play of the others at my table. Let me set up the situation.

We're playing the 8:15pm ET $6 turbo satellite to the nightly 30k guaranteed tournament on full tilt. Like the 30k itself, the satellite is is a 6-max nlh tournament, and there were 93 entrants, with only the top 4 finishers receiving a seat in that night's 30k (top 7 got paid, but for purposes of this discussion, I only actually cared about winning the seat). At this point in time, there are just 7 players remaining, with 3 players at my table and 4 at the other table.

The rough stack sizes of the 7 remaining players are something like: 32k, 26k, 24k (this was the chip leader of the 3 people at my table), 20k, 17k (this was me), 16k and 11k (this was the low man at my table). So I'm at a table with 17k in chips, currently in 5th place of 7 players remaining, and needing to finish in the top 4 to win the seat I've been playing for for the last 90 minutes or so. And at my table, there is a larger stack than mine to my right, who is currently in 3rd place overall, and to my left is the short stack of the tournament, with only about half the chips of the current 4th place guy.

So I am the small blind for 1200, and the shorty to my left is the big blind for 2400 (ante was also 300 at this time), leaving the shorty with just around 8k behind heading into this hand. I look down to find pocket Queens, easily the best hand I saw all tournament. The big stack from my table, sitting on 24k in chips, minraises to 4800, and action is to me:

What should I do here? Remember, this is a multi-seat satellite, so my goal has absolutely nothing to do with winning this tournament in any way, shape or form. I only need to last to the final 4 players, and then I will autodonk out to get my seat to that night's 30k. But I do need to chip up some to make it into the top 4. So I'm asking all you guys who I know from your blogs like to play these kind of tournament satellites -- and everyone else who stops by here to read -- what's the play here?

Well, here's what I did:

Should I have just moved allin here? Thing is, I wanted a call. I needed a call (said in perfect Jack Nicholson Colonel Jessup voice). I mean, we're three-handed here. It's not like I'm supposed to be afraid of Kings or Aces. More than anything I was hoping that Mr. Big Stack had like pocket 4s, or ATo, something like that, and I was going to get the double up that I desperately needed. Then I could play smart and stay out of pots, and more or less fold my way to the 30k seat. But would you guys have just moved in here? For what purpose? Trying to get a call, or trying to pick up what was in the pot already? I kinda like my near-minraise in an attempt to double up here and basically win my way to the 30k seat, but I am very interested in everyone's thoughts.

I will put up the rest of this hand later, because I have some more questions about the way it played out as well, but I'd love to hear everyone's comments on my play here first. And yes, yes, I know, in retrospect, of course I had pocket Queens so I should have just figured right then and there that if I played them, I would go home empty-handed, but let's put that obvious truth aside for a minute and pretend this is you, or just some random non-hoyazo entity playing this hand. What what you do?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Another Hoy Tournament In the Books

Yep, last night was another Mondays at the Hoy tournament, bringing out our usual 20 players to round out our usual $400 prize pool for the top 3 finishers. And yep, last night saw me get royally phucked once again, actually by the same guy, Mattazuma, who recently busted me from the Hoy by calling my preflop allin with his KJo. Mr. Subliminal recently referred in his blog to my post after Mattazuma'a KJo elimination of me a couple of months back as a rant in which I got pretty personal in my attacks, but I completely disagree. I actually went out of my way after that horrific untimely call on Matt's part not to get personal, but instead to just try my best to make my argument for why I did not (and do not) think it is a wise move to call an allin preflop with a hand like KJo. Well, I'm going to try to do the same thing here, as last night Mattazuma once again eliminated me on a hand which I would have certainly played much differently than he did before the flop. But I still think Matt is a good guy, I love that he comes out and plays the Hoy, and I enjoy reading his blog, so I will once again attempt to restrain my furious rage hurt feelings and stick simply to the facts and to my rational arguments for and against certain plays.

So this is maybe 15 or 20 minutes into the Hoy last night, and after donking a bit of my stack to Astin in the earlygoing, I had just managed to win a large pot from NewinNov when I flop-checked my pocket Queens on a raggy board, and Newin moved allin with just A4 on a board of 942 rainbow. On the very next hand, I am dealt pocket Aces.

As I wrote about on Cardsquad today, I absolutely love being dealt pocket Aces in this situation. Actually, I love pocket Aces in any situation, but in this case it is especially good because I had just won a big pot on the very preceding hand, with a big hand like pocket Queens. Given that I have an aggressive reputation among the blogger crew (no idea where that comes from!), I know that a lot of this group will not necessarily put me on any cards of real value on the very next hand after I win a big pot. In reality of course I can't remember the last time I automatically played a hand hard just because I had won a big hand right beforehand, but I know this is how people think, so I was salivating at the thought of making someone over-commit to this pot early, with my pocket Aces trap just waiting to be sprung once I had someone allin.

Then a funny thing happened. Fuel limped for 50 chips from UTG+1, and then Julius Goat followed that from UTG+2 with a raise to 200 chips, all before the action even got to me before the flop. Of course, I could not be happier, and with still four players left to act after me, and a lot of aggression already in there ahead of me preflop, I had to figure out how best to play this hand:

In the end, I opted to go for my patented slow-raise maneuver, where I put in a big enough raise to chase out the shit hands, leaving only hands that I will have dominated, while also not raising so much that I chase everyone else out of the pot. Of course I could have just moved allin here, but I really didn't want to chase everyone else out. Ideally I would have bet enough that just one or two other players would have called, and then I could do my thang to dupe them for the rest of their chips on the flop, barring any disastrous flop like 3 suited and/or big cards, etc. So I did my slow-raise, knowing that the avid readers of my blog would know from this move to get the hell outta there right away, but hoping I could trick some of the less regular readers into paying me off in a big way and staking me to the huge early stack:

To my extreme surprise (and joy!), Mattazuma acted just after me and re-reraised to 1200 chips. I could not believe my luck. Matt had to have pocket Kings with a re-reraise like that, as I had the Aces already, and even Big Slick can't be played this aggressively when there is already an EP limper, an EP 4x raiser and then a reraiser in there from MP ahead of you before the flop. Apparently Fuel and the Goat also got the message, as they both folded their hands. Of course, when the action got back to me, I did what I had to do:

Matt insta-called, and he flips over....

Pocket Jacks.

Now, and I'm going to be kinda straightforward here, this is simply not a good play. Pocket Jacks is, of course, the fourth-best starting hand in no-limit holdem. Even if you want to put AKs ahead of it -- which I do not -- then fine, it's still top 5 among all possible starting hands. So on the one hand, it might be tempting to just push hard like this with it in Matt's position before the flop. I could understand that logic, if this were limit holdem maybe (not even really then), or if you knew nothing about your opponents' hands when the action gets around to you before the flop.

But that right there is the rub. In this case, Matt knew an awful lot about his opponents' hands when he made this decision. He knew that Fuel liked his hand enough to limp from UTG+1. He also knew that Goat liked his hand enough to raise 4x from EP, even with a UTG+1 limper already in the pot ahead of him. Then, he also knew that I liked my own hand enough to put in a re-reraise to 500 chips, also from MP and with 4 players left to act behind me, and even knowing there was already an EP limper and an EP 4x raiser in the pot ahead of me. Now think for a minute if you're Matt here, what do you think about your pocket Jacks?

Let's assume that Fuel didn't have much. Of course, an EP limper is often in there with a decent pocket pair or strong Ace, just trying to get some LP raisers so he can reraise allin. I make this move fairly regularly when I am dealt a strong hand in early position, but let's for the sake of argument assume that Fuel's limp was weak, and just an attempt to see a cheap flop, which is not a terrible assumption given all the other action so far before the flop in this hand. But Goat's 4x raise from EP following an open-limper from UTG+1 has got to worry Matt here. He could have AA, KK or QQ, in which case Matt is a 20% underdog. Or, Goat could be on AK or AQ (or even KQ is he's playing donkish), all of which are basically 50-50 shots against Matt's pocket Jacks. The thing is, the raise here from EP with a limper already in the pot is definitely indicative of a strong hand, and it's really not reasonable to think he is weak here, like one might think Fuel is who just open-limped into this pot. I would think that the worst hand Goat could reasonably have here is something like pocket Tens, or maybe pocket 9s. If he's any kind of a player, he's not raising 4x there without at least a pocket pair 9s or Tens (or higher), or AK (or AQ if hes a nut).

Then I came in there with a nice-sized reraise to 500 chips. Now at this point, if Matt doesn't know his Jacks are beat by at least somebody, then he's just not paying attention. I mean, let's assume the absolute donkiest thing I can have here is AK, or a big pocket pair. No way I'm in there with less than that. And if I'm re-reraising here with AK, then I would have to be a total donkey. [Which I'm not of course.] So, Matt has pocket Jacks, and he's facing a UTG+1 limp, a UTG+2 4x raise, and an MP reraise of 2.5x more, to 10x the big blind. He's got pocket Jacks. Isn't somebody bound to be ahead of him here? How possible is it that nobody is at least racing 50-50 with him at this point, given the action before the flop so far? What would you do here? It's almost too much to just flat call, but it can be difficult to fold pocket Jacks before the flop under any circumstances. Do you fold? Smooth call? Reraise big?

As I mentioned above, Matt opted for the latter, Fuel and Goat folded, and I of course put him allin, which he clearly had to call for another 500 chips or so, and here were are:

It's always nice when you get rewarded for making a good play preflop, and when the guy making the highly questionable call gets his just desserts. Pokerstars, of course, loves to reward the better play in this situation:

Ha ha pokerstars you phucking bitch!!! Nice river card asscock. And IGH in 16th place out of 20 players. Nice, huh? Does pokerstars love me lately or what? All this goes to show that pokerstars really doesn't want me to play the Hoy there anymore. We'll see if that's going to change anytime soon. I'm definitely thinking about it.

In related news, I cashed in my first tournament in five days last night. This was one of these new $8.80 buyin, 360-max mtt's on pokerstars, and it was actually in Omaha Hi/Lo 8 or Better. This might have been one of my first deep cashes in a straight O8 tournament in my career, as this is the one game that I enjoy playing the least among all the poker variants I play regularly online (which is all of them, I think). It's funny, because a lot of multi-game specialists out there like Drizz and Maigrey seem to love playing O8 tournaments. Generally, I do not enjoy them, whereas I absolutely love playing Omaha High tournaments, a game I've gotten really into over the past few months, and which I have cashed in several times in some of the regular full tilt and pokerstars offerings for PLO. I don't know what it is about O8. It's not that I don't like the split games, because I've always loved 7-stud hilo and still do today. For some reason, unlike stud hilo, I guess I just think it's kinda stupid how all you often need to do to win the low in O8 is to have A2 in your starting hand. Period. 3 low cards on the board, and your A2 automatically wins half the pot, just like that. It's not like stud hilo or razz, where you need to make a qualifying 5-card low with at least 2 or 3 more cards in addition to what you're starting with in your hand, and that makes for a lot of strategy and decisionmaking along the way even if you're just playing for the low in those games. Not that there isn't some of that as well in O8, as far as if less than three low cards come out on the flop, but there is something about the simplicity of winning the low in O8 that just kinda seems robotic to me, and generally I'm not into that characteristic in the poker games I play. That said, I did make my first cash last night after several bubble runs deep into mtts this week, coming in 17th place out of 360 players in this O8 tournament, and winning about 4 times my buyin for the process, thereby making it basically free to have been ass raped by pokerstars in the Hoy last night, so at least I have that to take a positive spin on things.

And really, what more can any of us ask in any given night, than to be anally raped for free, right? Phucking pokerstars. Unbelievable.

No WWdN for me tonight, as I won't be able to log on until after Wil's 8:30pm ET start time on fuckerstars (password is "monkey" as always), but go check the WWdN out and make a run at poker immortality by knocking out Wil himself and getting your name in lights in the title of next Tuesday's WWdN tournament. And also, look for a WWdN Second Chance tournament at 10:30pm ET or so, which there has been the last couple of weeks as well, and which I will try to play if I'm able to get on in time for the festivities. See you then (maybe)!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Monday Recap

Greetings everyone and I hope you all had a nice weekend. I sure did.

Without further adieu, I am pleased chagrined lazy to announce that Mondays at the Hoy will go off tonight at its regularly scheduled time, in its regularly scheduled location:

So yes, we're still at pokerstars, at least for this week. More on that shortly, but I'll see you on pokerstars tonight at 10pm ET.

Anyways, as I said I had a good weekend as usual, with Sunday evening making me especially happy. Why, you ask? The Patriots finally lost in the playoffs.

Don't get me wrong, I am no kind of Colts fan. While I do find Peyton Manning to be cheerable-for, I don't actually care if he ever wins a Superbowl, or any game for that matter. And it's not like I despise Tom Brady or Teddy Bruschi or anything. I'm just sick of the Patriots. I'm sick of Tom Brady laying ten chicks a night after he wins The Big Game every season. I'm sick of coach Belichik in that fucking grey Pats sweatshirt, throwing cameramen out of the way like he's scything his way through a cornfield, dissing his friends and former coaches for post-game handshakes. I'm sick of that team pulling victory from the jaws of defeat, like they did against Smokkee's Chargers last weekend just to name the latest. I'm just flat out fucking sick of the Patriots, and I for one and thrilled that they are gone. Finally.

Now we can focus on a superbowl that I think should be a pretty good one. Despite all the AFC-lovers claiming all year that the AFC was going to crush whoever the NFC has to offer this season in the Big Game, the reality of the situation is very different from what everyone thought. As I wrote about last week, what we've ended up with here is the (in my view) undisputed best team in the NFC -- best regular season record, best playoff performance so far -- going up against a team that is at best no better than the 3rd best team in the AFC, and arguably more like 4th or even 5th. I have a lot of respect for the Colts, and frankly they seem to have stepped it up a bit on both sides of the ball in alternating games here in the playoffs, but they still don't even hold a candle to this year's Chargers team or to the resurgent Baltimore Ravens. You tell me it's the Chargers and Bears, and I'll quickly pick the Chargers, probably giving the points, and I would do so fairly confidently. But this Colts team has looked very, very beatable through much of the second half of this season, so I think the Superbowl is really up in the air at this point. I'm sure I'll talk a lot more about who I like in this game later over the next couple of weeks, but all I'll say right now is that the opening line on the game appears to be the Bears by 7 points. That line is pure idiocy, and it will almost surely come down between now and two weeks from now when the game kicks off around 6:30pm ET on February 4. If you're picking the Bears by more than 7 points in that game, then either (1) you know something I don't, (2) it's going to be raining snow and ice in Miami, Florida that night, or (3) you're about to lose some money. That is all on that topic for now.

EDIT: OK so it appears I read the line wrong -- it's not the Bears who are favored by 7 points in the big game, it's the Colts who are favored. I'll have plenty more to say about this line between now and game time. But I'm going to leave that statement above up there on the blog, because it was funny and I like it, and it makes me look witty and clever, two things I like to be. Enjoy.

I will point out that I once again went 3-for-4 with my NFL spread picks this past weekend, something I am proud to say as I have not traditionally fared well in spread picks for NFL games, and I really almost completely nailed both games in very accurate fashion. In the first game -- and I watched both games more or less in their entirety, thanks to the wonders of DVR technology -- the Saints played basically exactly like I thought, including the fact that they just couldn't hack it in the end in the snow and ice show that was Solider Field in Chicago. At the beginning of that game, it was barely precipitating at all, and the Saints came out flat nonetheless, while the Bears defense came ready to play and rip-roaring to go. They caused 3 fumbles in I believe just the first quarter, recovering two of them and idiotically failing to fall on the third, and jumped out to an early 16-0 lead before the Saints finally got back on the board with a great-looking touchdown drive to end the first half. Then the Saints came out in the second half and scored again, playing great defense as well as first as they really looked to take advantage of a clear shift in momentum in the game.

Then, with the score sitting at 16-14 Bears, everything changed. The skies opened up, and instead of rain like what the Saints and most of their players would be used to from their homes in New Orleans and where most of the big players have spent their careers, it was the Chicago version of precip, and it wasn't pretty. By the middle of the third quarter, the video feed showed what almost looked like a blizzard of snow and icy drek pouring down from the skies. And almost immediately, everything fell apart for Drew Brees and the Saints. They couldn't hold on to the ball the way they are used to from their dome games and southern location. The players didn't seem comfortable out on the field. Even Coach Payton, the reigning NFL coach of the year, seemed not to be prepared for the cold weather, even as he repeatedly made the exact same faces, the exact same mannerisms, and used much the same (foul) language with his teammates as his mentor Bill Parcells is known to do. Anyways, when the snow started falling, the Bears were completely in their element, and the Saints were completely out of theirs. And it showed. That game went from 16-14 to 18-14 to 25-14 to 32-14 in the span of maybe 10 or 15 minutes of game time, and the Saints' season just slipped away in the drop of a snowflake and the slip of some ice on the field. It was a great, great year for this Saints team, a young team full of big stars on offense who are sure to make a lot of noise for a long time to come in this league, but my pick of the Bears minus the points ended up winning easily in snowy, freezing Chicago, as did my pick of the Over as the Bears really poured it on in the end.

In the other game, the marquee matchup of the weekend, I stated here on Friday that I predicted the Colts would win by just about 3 points, so I took the Colts minus the 2.5 point spread. In the end, the Colts prevailed by 4 points, so I nailed that one. I did pick the Under 47.5, and the game ended up going well over that mark, so that was the one pick I missed for the weekend as the Colts offense really came to life for the first time in weeks and that vaunted Pats defense was basically powerless to stop the Colts' offensive juggernaut, but in the end the game was very close down to the wire just like I thought, and the Colts pulled it out with a late score, just like I thought. Kudos to the Colts for finally besting their playoff nemesis from New England, and good riddance to a team that I will say quickly became, for me, one of the most boring and unrootable-for dynasties around. No pussy for you last night, Tom Brady. Sorry Charlie.

OK so back to poker, yes I admit it, I fucking I went back to pokerstars over the weekend. My first girlfriend. The phucking bitch herself. I guess I'm not really as pissed off anymore as I was last week. Believe me -- I won't be playing that 100k guaranteed tournament again there anytime soon, and hopefully never again in my life. And also, I still think I may move the Hoy to full tilt one of these weeks, as I clearly spend most of my online poker time there these days, a site that is, as I mentioned last week, at least 856 times better than pokerstars when it comes right down to it. But I did go back and play some at pokerstars this weekend, playing in two tournaments and actually playing quite well in both of them. I think my relationship with pokerstars will be ok, at least for now. That whore knows she is on thin ice with me right now, though, so at least this weekend I was able to play my game and not experience anything like I had gone through with that 150k last Wednesday, so that was good. And yes, the Hoy will be back on pokerstars in its usual spot tonight. I should have some announcement(s) shortly about some other exciting private tournaments that I may be involved with setting up, and if those do happen, they will most definitely occur on full tilt, my online poker site of choice. So I am back on the pokerstars bandwagon, at least for now, mainly due to their immense variety and availability of multi-table tournaments. But I will be watching you pokerstars, you phucking bitch. Don't forget it.

OK that's all for now. See you tonight at Mondays at the Hoy!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Getting In With the Best of It, and Another Football Weekend

No big poker news to report from last night. I will say that I once again satellited my way in to the 11pm ET 30k guaranteed nlh tournament on full tilt, by playing in that 8:45pm ET turbo sat that I've been having so much success in. I will also point out that less than 10 minutes in to the 30k itself, I took a cheap flop with pocket 3s and out fell 853 rainbow on the flop. I checked my set to my two opponents, the second checked as well, and then the third guy bet the pot. I reraised the guy 3x on the flop, opting to raise my set as I usually do, and the second player folded, leaving me heads-up with the flop bettor who smooth called my 3x raise on the flop. The turn came down an offsuit Ten, for a board of 358T and with me holding the pocket 3s. This time I bet out small (just under 2/3 the pot) to my opponent, hoping this weakish bet would incude him to make another move so I could get all his chips, because that's how I roll as you know if you watch me play. Once again my ploy worked to perfection, with my opponent moving allin on me there on the turn card. I insta-called for the rest of my chips, and donkeyboy flips up pocket Jacks. Dam I'm good.

Jack on the river, IGH in less than 10 minutes. Gotta love it.

That is just the way online poker has been rolling for me of late. After six or seven weeks of my very public hot hot streak, this week has seen things change on a frigging dime for me, mostly in a sick, sick fashion. I still am pleased to say I am not quite yet getting to that point in the losing streak (which I know is coming shortly, don't get me wrong) where I am actually changing my play to start playing awful poker as a reaction to a longtime series of bad beats. I mean, in each of the past three nights, I have been eliminated from at least two multi-table tournaments after getting my chips all in the middle after the flop is out, with me holding at least an 90% favorite hand.

Think about that for a minute -- in each of Tuesday, Wednesday and last night as well, I've been a 90% favorite after the flop, then got in all my chips as a 90%+ favorite, and lost. At least twice per night! So it hasn't been fun for me, to say the least. But clearly, I am playing some of my best poker still, and that is a good, and comforting, thing to know. Not many people can say that they get their chips allin in an mtt after the flop with a 90% favorite hand in at least two tournaments every single night. But I can. So I'm not able to kill myself for my play as of yet. If anything, the fact that I am so attuned to what my opponents are holding lately is borne out by the fact that I have been making a concerted effort to wait until after the flop is out to get my money in, thereby significantly decreasing my chances of being sucked out on. Sure, the suckouts are still happening to me, but as I said I simply can't kill myself over my recent play.

I've written about this before in the blog, in particular when I've been tilty and ranting like I still am today for sure, so here goes another pompous, self-serving statement that I'm sure makes me come off like an arrogant prick: Sometimes, it is really obvious to me that I am a victim of my own poker skill. I don't know what it is about me, but I seem to have a way of just knowing what my opponents have, in a great many cases, certainly in live poker but even when I play online. I have always had that ability, and that is why I've been playing poker in casinos since I was just in my mid teens, and doing so very successfully. I don't know how I got this ability, but I've always been a very empathetic person -- not in that I show compassion for people (I have very little compassion, actually), but rather that I've always been able to get into people's heads and really understand what they're thinking, what they're feeling, and what their motivations are for what they're doing at the poker table. This skill, which as far as I can tell I was just born with, has helped me immeasurably in my career as a lawyer and as a negotiator. Knowing mostly every single time when my adversary is willing to give in on a certain point in a contract negotiation with me -- even if they are on the phone or at the negotiating table claiming verbally that the opposite is true -- is something that I have been blessed with ever since I started negotiating contracts for my clients, and as you might imagine this skill has come in incredibly handy in negotiations ever since, and has carried me far in my career as a result.

All this is to say, I have a real skill for getting into people's heads, moreso I think than anyone else that I personally know. I mean, I see some of the reads that Daniel Negreanu, Erick Lindgren and even Phil Hellmuth lay on other players at the poker table, and it's obvious to me that I am way, way out of these guys' league in terms of this skill. But of the people I personally know or personally play poker with with any regularity, I'm right up near the top as far as the ability to get into poker opponents' heads. And when things are running bad for me, this skill I have is exactly what gets me into the most trouble. Here's how:

When I have the small pocket pair and flop trips, I have a knack for being able to tell from my opponent's betting patterns, the amount of time it takes him to make his bets, etc., whether he is sitting on a big hand himself. For example in the 30k last night -- make no mistake, I knew he had a hand. I'm not going to sit here and tell you I knew he was holding the Jack of clubs and the Jack of hearts. But I did know just from watching him and getting that "feel" that he had something playable. At least TPTK if not two pairs, or a big overpair. I just knew it. So, because I knew this, I was able to manipulate the guy into getting all his chips into the middle, by subtly acting like my hand was just a bit weaker than his, and convincing him that he could double up.

Most of my other regular poker buddies would never have ended up in the situation I was in last night, to suffer that recockulous river suckout when the Jack fell at the end to eliminate me. Almost every other guy I play with would have bet bigger early on in that hand, and probably chased this guy off of his medium-strong overpair once they flopped their set. Maybe the guy would have called their allin bet with the overpair Jacks on the flop anyways, I don't know. But in many cases he wouldn't have. And so they would still be in the tournament for more than 8 minutes, albeit having only won maybe 300 chips on that hand to add to their 3000 starting stack, but they'd still be alive, and would not have experienced that sickass beat. But not me. Me, I'm not content with the 300 chips, and when I get that feel going of knowing when someone else is ready to play with me, I'm going to go out and fuck with them. It's just how I roll. So instead, I'm out there on the turn card with all 6000 chips in the middle and a 95% favorite to come my way, and then Boooooom, suddenly the Jack hits the river and IGH early, dazed and done. And then I'm here, writing yet another bad beat story.

The same thing happened to me in the turbo 8:45pm ET satellite to Wednesday night's 30k guaranteed tournament. In that one, I had AJo in the small blind, and I just limped even after it was folded around to me, because of the way I roll, I just knew I could act weak and probably dupe someone for all their chips if the right flop falls. Only the big blind calls, and together we see a flop of A94 rainbow. Bingo! I've hit my top pair, and I've done so in a way where I have acted weak, and this guy will never be able to put me on an Ace here. So, just to complete the misinformation in my opponent's head, I check the flop. He bets the pot back to me. I love it. What do I do here? I can tell from this guy's pot-sized bet, and the short-but-not-too-short time he spent before betting out on that flop, that he's got something. But I also know it's not as good as my top pair Aces with Jack kicker. Maybe he's hit a weak Ace. More likely, my gut is telling me he's got a decent second pair or something like that. So he bets out the pot at me on the A94 rainbow flop, and I purposely take several seconds before just smooth calling.

Now, do you see what I've done here? By just smooth calling from the button preflop, then checking the flop, and now long-pausing before smooth calling his flop bet, I've made this guy think I've got nothing. Maybe just a draw. Maybe a shitty piece of the flop, third pair or something. More likely than that even, I've purposely acted as if I maybe only have two overs, and just don't put him on anything at all, and want to see a turn card to see if I can make something there.

And see, this is where the problem with my reading skills comes in. Most of the guys I play with -- heck, most of you bloggers even, which I know from playing with many of you on a regular basis, are going to bet out at this flop, and probably take it down there. If your opponent calls, your potbet on the turn is going to take the pot down. But that's just not how I roll. I've got a read on this guy, and I know that he thinks he's fairly strong here, and doesn't think I have anything. So rather than disabuse him of that notion here on the flop, I know I can get a lot more of his chips with a little luck on the turn and/or the river. So I'm going for it. I've faked the guy out, I've gotten him to bet the pot at me on the flop, and I've flat called that bet in a situation where I basically know I'm well ahead, and I know my opponent thinks he's well ahead.

So, the turn comes a raggy 2, for a board of A942 rainbow, and now I basically know my AJ is still well ahead. I can just "feel" it. This time, of course, being who I am, I just check the turn, indicating to my opponent that I really am weak, his read of me was correct (the read I purposely put into this guy's head, that is). And he bets the pot again, which at this point is getting to be a fairly large pot. And now, rolling the way I do, this is where I go for the insta-minraise move. I try to do it as quickly as possible, which to many players out there is the move of choice when you're just trying to bluff someone out of a pot even though you don't really have anything good yourself. I know this guy is going to fall for my insta-mninraise move here, again I can just feel it. I know he's going to push his entire stack in on me immediately, I know it before I even make the minraise there. I just know it. And of course he obliges, and of course I insta-call, and I flip up my AJ for top pair Jack kicker. What does he show?

Pocket 7s. So he's got a pair of 7s on a board of A942, and I've got top pair Aces. Here I am again, making my own luck, now a 95% favorite to double up again, with a shitty hand like AJo, in a situation where all the other guys I play with regularly would have just taken down a small pot on the flop, and they'd all be alive to live another day in the tournament. But noooo, not me. I'm never satisfied with a few hundred chips if I feel from my read that I can take a guy's entire stack with the proper manipulation. Not if I have a real read on the guy and I'm confident in that read and my ability to double through him. So instead, I've got all my chips in now, a 95% favorite, and Boooooom! A 7 on the river, and IGH to his rivered set.

It's disgusting, but do you see what happened there? Because of my reading ability, because of the way I play, I am constantly getting myself into situations where I've got all my chips at risk and am a significant favorite to win the hand, even in the very earlygoing in big mtts. My friends report that they are typically allin maybe once or twice during their typical mtt runs, at least until well ITM when the blinds are huge and the Ms get progressively lower. Well, not me. I am probably allin with a strong favorite hand maybe 15 or 20 times in every mtt I play. And I'm barely ever behind. But I'm a victim of my own poker skills and reading skills when things are running bad for me, because suddenly in all of my 75% favorite hands and my 85% favorite hands and my 95% favorite hands, in all of them combined, I'm winning 20% of them. And I can't possibly survive late into mtts when I am constantly getting in to pots for all my chips, even as an 80% favorite. Think about it -- if I'm getting all my chips in 10 times as an 80% favorite each time in the first 90 minutes of an mtt, then the law of averages says I'm going to lose 2 of those confrontations, even as an 80% favorite. And that is just no way to play an mtt.

But I really don't know how to stop doing what I do at the poker tables. Am I really supposed to stop duping people into betting all their chips into me as an 80% or 90% favorite? Is that really something I'm supposed to avoid? And keep in mind, I am most definitely not talking about me being a 51% favorite in a race, which clearly must be avoided as a general statement early in big mtts. And I'm not talking about getting in as a 57% favorite either -- like where I have A5 in the big blind and the small blind has just open-pushed with what I'm sure from my read is two big cards but no Ace. I'm talking about getting it all in as an 80% favorite or more, which generally means I have to be in there as a big favorite once the flop has already come down. Am I really, truly not supposed to continue duping the guy into betting me all his chips after the flop when I'm an 80, 85, 90% favorite or more? That is hard for me to swallow. But when I'm not winning those 80%+ favorite hands after the flop, like is certainly the case this week, you can imagine how quickly I'm getting donked out of my mtts, generally in despicable, disgusting fashion.

OK that's enough poker for today, this was actually just supposed to be a football post. So I went 2 for 3 in my NFL spread picks in the playoffs last weekend, and today I'm going to give some more picks for this weekend's games.

First, at 3pm ET on Sunday you've got the New Orleans Saints travelling to freezing cold Chicago to play the Bears at the new Soldier Field. The Bears, the #1 seed as it is in the NFC, are favored by what looks like 2.5 points, always a tough line when the oddsmakers are cutting it to under a field goal for the spread. This also indicates how torn Vegas is about predicting the winner of this game. And the over-under for the game is set at 43.5, a low-ish line but not all that out of the ordinary where the Bears are concerned, considering how great their defense has been over the 16-game season.

But that's just the thing. As Don was quick to point out to me last week, the Bears defense was great over the 16 game season, but it has been downright porous over the past 5 or 6 weeks. Even last week the Bears let a not-very-good Seattle team stay in the game, score a lot of points on them, and eventually the Bears found themselves just one or two big plays away from losing a sudden-death game in overtime to the Seahawks in Chicago last week after giving up 3 touchdowns to the team despite their quarterback having a torn labrum (whatever that is) in his non-throwing shoulder. And, after watching the Saints offense move the ball well -- in particular, Deuce McAllister and Reggie "fumbleboy" Bush -- last week again in Philly, I think they are likely to score the ball a little bit on the Bears D. And, I think the Bears should be able to score the ball a little bit as well against the Saints' defense that really is not any good.

So, I'm predicting another game similar to the games that both of these teams won last week -- something like the 27-24 scores that both teams came out on the winning end of. So, this means that I like the Over 43.5 in the Saints-Bears game, something which I feel pretty good about, as long as the weather isn't going to be horrible in Chicago or anything. The current forecast is for some snow on Sunday in the Windy City, but it's not supposed to snow much before or after Sunday, so I'm doubting we'll have a serious storm there. I think these teams will score some points and just slightly break the Over 43.5 points.

And as for the Bears by 2.5 line on this game, I think that's a very tricky line. Here's the thing -- even though the referees clearly saw to it that the Saints beat my Eagles last weekend, I have a lot of respect for the Saints' team, especially on offense. And I don't have too much respect for the Bears team, especially their defense of late. So all things being equal, on a neutral field and under neutral conditions, I would probably be likely to pick the Saints to win this game. But, having to play in front of the Chicago fans, and in particular having to come up to freezing, snowy Solider field, I just don't think this bodes well for the Saints. Drew Brees is a San Diego guy. Reggie Bush comes from USC. Deuce McAllister has played his entire college and pro career in the Deep South. The team not only comes from the Gulf Coast, but they play their home games in a domed stadium. There is likely to be a lot of climate shock among the Saints on Sunday in my view, and for that reason I'm going to take the Bears minus the 2.5 points. I don't think they'll win by much, but I think a field goal or more ought to squeak by.

In the other game, probably the sexy matchup of the weekend, it's the 3-time-superbowl-champion-this-decade New England Patriots going to the Indianapolis Colts, in a game that will not be affected by the weather as it will occur in a dome in Indy. This is one where the Colts are favored by 3 points, as they are the home team and have won the last couple of regular-season games against the Pats, with an Over/Under for the matchup of 47.5 points. On this one, I'm going to go against what I assume is the more popular bet, and take the Colts. The Pats have had their way with the Colts in the playoffs during Peyton Manning's career in Indy, but to me this year's Pats team is a far, far cry from those dominating teams of recent years. I know they went 12-4 this year, but the Pats scored 20, 14, 7 and 0 points in their four regular season losses this year, one of which was to the Patriots at home in New England, so they have had a little bit of a habit this year of not stepping up on offense in some key games.

The Pats are solid, don't get me wrong, but the team just seems a half a step worse than those superbowl teams of their recent run, and just look at how close they were to losing last week against the Chargers, needing an utterly recockulous, lucky river 1-outer suckout type of play on that interception-fumble, to have any chance of staying alive in the playoffs. And I expect the loss of Mr. Clutch Adam Vinatieri to loom large for both teams in this game, as not only did the Pats let him get away in the offseason before this year, but he got away to the Colts, who will now get the benefit of his bigtime foot in a bigtime spot in this game. I actually think this is likely to be roughly a 3-point game, so I would not be likely to bet this game normally, but for the sake of taking a stand, I'm going to take the Colts, minus the 3 points, because I think they're going to win this game. And I'm going to learn from my mistake last week with the Colts -- I know the Pats' offense has had a bit of trouble scoring in some key games this year, and the Colts' defense has really stepped it up here in the playoffs so far as well. And, the Colts' offense looked pretty shitty as well in their game in Baltimore last week. So I'm taking the Colts, and I'm going Under the 47.5 points as well.

OK so overall my spread picks are:

Bears -2.5
Over 43.5 points in the Bears/Saints game
Colts -3
Under 47.5 points

Everybody enjoy the games this weekend, and best of luck at the virtual tables. I'm hoping to qualify for the Saturday night Winner's Choice and the Sunday night HORSE tournament sometime tonight or tomorrow, so I may be in those as well if anyone is around and cool enough to be playing online poker on a Saturday or Sunday night.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Pokerstars Rant

OK. I confess early on here that I really don't know where this post is going to end up. I also confess to not really feeling like my usual self right now. That might make for a fun combination when it comes to blog ranting posting, we'll just have to wait and see till I'm done here.

OK so last night at the virtual tables, I think I experienced something pretty significant. I have played at pokerstars since the beginning. This was August of 2005 when my college buddy finally convinced me to put some real money into pokerstars, his poker site of choice, and since then I've never looked back. I have been playing far, far more at full tilt lately than at pokerstars, because full tilt is approximately 856 times better than pokerstars could ever hope to be. But I still play at stars. My weekly Hoy tournament is there. I play PLO tournaments there many nights. Lately I've been playing the nightly 100k tournament there some nights as well. My point is, even though full tilt blows pokerstars away in terms of the overall structure of their games and the mtt's they offer, I still play quite a bit at pokerstars and am responsible for a pretty consistent stream of revenues to them.

Well, last night all that might have changed. Last night was I think a real-eye opener for me with pokerstars, and I don't know for sure what the long-term results of it will be, but they could be significant for me in terms of where I play my online poker. So yesterday, I decided to be a real man and play the nightly 150k at 9pm ET which runs on Wednesday nights on pokerstars. This is consistent with my goals for 2007 to try to play some of the larger prize pool tournaments, having done very well for myself at the level of tournaments I played during most of 2006 (10k to 30k or so mostly). As you may recall, a couple of weeks back I final tabled this biatch for a 10th place finish and about $1200 cash, so I've taken a few more shots since then, and last night would be my latest.

And my last.

But I am getting ahead of myself. So, after two straight days of utterly reCOCKulous suckouts against me at everything I touched online, last night I logged on to pokerstars shortly before 9pm ET and registered for this nightly 150k. I was excited because the total prize pool ended up reaching well over $200,000, and I was looking at that 52k first prize with saliva dripping from my mouth, and I was ready to make some noise. If you recall from my last few posts, although I haven't won shiat over the past two days, those losses are almost exclusively due to horrifying suckouts, and in reality I have been playing exceedingly well. So well that I've even been waiting until after the flop falls before pushing allin with the dominatingly best hand, dramatically decreasing my chances of getting recockusucked on to the upper single digits or maybe low teens percentagewise. Sure it is fucking killing me to have lost with multiple such favorites since Monday, but as far as the quality of my play, I have really been fucking with people and reading them well, but just getting recockuscrewed by the cards. Variance. The poker fuckbags. Whatever you want to call it.

OK so back to last night. I'm in this 150k guaranteed tournament, I've been playing awesome lately but getting unbelievably bad cards. So it's the third hand of this tournament. I am dealt pocket Aces on the button. Love it! UTG raises the blinds to 300 (starting stacks were 2500 chips), a fairly large raise all things considered. He's UTG, so I have to figure this guy for a big, big hand. It folds around to me, and I'm laughing because I already know I'm about to stack someone who is probably holding pocket Jacks through pocket Kings, or AK, any one of which is a sick, sick dog to my pocket Aces. So, rather than push allin right here -- which I figured he might have called but might not since it was just the third hand of a large buyin tournament -- I just went for the 3x reraise of his bet, to 900 chips (again, out of starting stacks fo 2500, so a very, very significant raise from me here in the earlygoing). The action folds back to him, and he quickly calls my raise. Again, I am salivating here. And I'm really glad once again I am waiting to see the flop before putting in the rest of my chips, because on the off chance that it comes KQJ or 789 triple-suited or something like that, I can still fold if I'm pretty sure from the action on the flop that I just got hosed (again).

The flop comes a raggorific 589 with two clubs (neither Ace in my hand is a club). I believe there was 1860 chips in the pot heading into the flop. My opponent leads out for a bet of 500. Again, I'm laughing. This guy just got uberhosed by the raggalicious flop, he's got a big pair and I have the killer pair of Aces. I minraise his ass. Yes, because I'm that good. He's sitting on Queens or Kings, and he's going to have to reraise me allin here, given that literally half his starting stack is now in this pot, and I'm sure he has the tremendous overpair. This little bitch does exactly what I commanded him to do with my bet -- insta-pushes -- and I call even faster and show him my Aces. Muhahahahahahaha!

And he flips over...

76 of diamonds.

Uh huh. RIGHT, pokerstars. Or should I say, FUCKERSTARS! Do you mean to tell me that this anal canal of a man raised it up like 7x UTG with 76s? Did that really happen? And then when I reraised him for over a third of his stack -- third hand in to a large buyin tournament, mind you -- he instantly called that bet? With 76s? Did that really happen too? Really? And then the flop just happened to fall with the three perfect cards to make him the nut straight, just like that? When I had pocket Aces? And this guy called my 900 chip raise preflop with 76s?

OK pokerstars well here's where we're at. I don't believe you. I don't fucking believe this for one red second.

Listen, pokerstars, you little SHITS. I've given you a lot of money over time. A lot of rake, a whole lot of tournament fees, etc. I have personally brought maybe 10 friends and acquaintances of mine to play at pokerstars over the past 18 months or so. So you've gotten money from all of them as well. In fact, all the money these people ever spend with you is directly, solely and undeniably attributable to me, period. Plus, I have held a weekly private tournament at pokerstars for the better part of the past year. I happen to know of at least a handful of players from that weekly game who would have never signed up to play at pokerstars if not for the weekly Hoy tournament. I told them to sign up with you, you assholes! I fucking convinced people to play at your site in some cases. And again, all the money you little whores ever make from any of those people, also all 100% attributable to little old me. Period. So there's a bunch more money I have brought you. That you would never have sniffed if not for me. Am I trying to say that pokerstars would be bankrupt if not for me? No. But what I am saying is that I have been the most loyal pokerstars user there is, for quite a long while now, and I am personally and directly responsible for a fair amount of steady user revenue that pokerstars has enjoyed over the past year and a half.

Well, I don't know what it was about last night's beat, but it just doesn't sit right with me. Try as I might, I simply cannot accept that someone raised big UTG with 76s, at the exact same time as I am dealt pocket Aces, that I reraised them for 36% of their stack preflop with my Aces, and they fucking called the bet instantly. With 76s?!!! People wouldn't do that with fucking KQs, least of all in a large buyin tournament like this. Uh uh. I just don't believe it. And then, by pure random chance, the flop just happens to come down 589? On the third hand of this large tournament? When I have pocket Aces?

COME ON YOU LITTLE SHITS! YOU CANNOT REALLY EXPECT ME TO BELIEVE THAT CAN YOU? WHAT, DO YOU THINK I'M STUPID? NO! YOU'RE THE STUPID ONES, POKERSTARS! BECAUSE I'M NOT STUPID LIKE YOU THINK I AM. I KNOW THIS IS NOT A REALISTIC OUTCOME, SO I KNOW SOMETHING IS UP. I admit that I don't know what went on last night. I'm not coming out and saying that something is fixed. I'm going to leave the conclusions to whoever wants to draw them. All I'm saying is that what happened to me on the third hand of the biggest tournament I've ever played on pokerstars is Simply. Not. Believable.

Let me be clear here. This was not some strange 2-outer on the river. That happens to all of us sometimes (ok, to me much more often than everyone else, but still). That occurrence has a mathematical probability assigned to it, and what that means is that, when I've got some jackidiot drawing dead to 2 outs with one card to come, he's going to hit one of those two outs 5% of the time. So, if I get myself into that situation 20 times (usually about how many times I get there in a given mtt, when I'm playing well), one of those 20 times is going to see the guy hit his miracle, and maybe knock me out of a tournament in a huge spot where I am left furious with rage. Fine. In fact, the law of odds could even have this 2-outer underdog hit one of his two outs against me twice in a row. Maybe even three times out of 5. Things like that all have a mathematical probability assigned to them, and that means that, if played enough times, shit like that is bound to happen.

But you see, pokerstars, this is where you fucked up last night. ROYALLY. What happened to me on this hand is not such a situation. This was not a longshot drawing situation where a guy hit his miracle 1- or 2-outer on the river, his 20-to-1 shot or whatever the odds are. This is far more insidious. Here a guy puts in a huge UTG raise very early in a large buyin mtt, with a horrendously unplayable hand like 76s. I don't even know how to assign a thing like odds to this move. Let's just say it's highly rare to see this. Then he calls my huge reraise with that same hand, and does so more or less instantaneously. Again, assigning odds to this move is very difficult. I'm going to go ahead and say it is less than 1% that a guy raises big UTG with this hand, and then calls off more than a third of his stack on a reraise on the third hand of a large buyin tournament. Somewhere less than 1% likelihood. Throw in the fact that I have pocket Aces on the exact same hand, and we're down into the micro-fractions of percent IMO. Something grosseningly low.

And THEN, then the flop comes down, and it's the perfect flop for this shitforbrains' hand. I mean fucking perfect. The odds of all of this happening randomly are so astronomically low, it is in a completely different league than any kind of 1-outer on the river. That 1-outer on the river still carries a nearly 2.5% likelihood of happening, every single time someone can catch one card with one card left to come. 2.5%, meaning that once every 40 times, it's going to hit. This situation with me last night, however, is probably closer to 1000 times less likely than that. It's so unlikely, that I just don't accept that it happened. I don't know how to explain it. But I do know what I'm going to do about it.

I don't plan to play at pokerstars anymore. Right now, I feel happy saying I won't play there at all, ever. Maybe my feeling will change on this point over time, but the way I feel sitting here right now, several hours after The Event, I have absolutely no desire to play anything at pokerstars ever again. If I have lost faith in the randomness of the cards -- and again this is not some 39-to-1 one-outer situation, which, with the amount I play, is bound to happen to me more often than I care to think -- there is just no way I am going back to your little fucksite anytime soon to face you little shits and your shiteating nowhere-near-as-good-as-full-tilt software, variety, etc. No way.

If Neteller hadn't fucked all of U.S. players yesterday, I would have withdrawn every dime from pokerstars last night, except for the money I owe to the top 3 finishers in my NFL Pick'em pool (which I plan to transfer this evening btw since I have not heard any objections in a week from A Bunch of No Name Scrubs, whoever that may be). As it stands right now, I guess I can't withdraw that money to Neteller, so I'll figure something out to get my funds out of there. But pokerstars, you royally fucked up last night, and you've lost me, period. I don't buy in to the biggest online tournament of my life, only to see a player make an unbelievable play UTG preflop, then an even more unbelievable play to call my reraise preflop, and then flop the absolutely perfect flop to set him up and steal all of my chips. Because that's exactly what this was -- stealing. It's fucking theft, pokerstars, and you are the thieves. You fucking stole my buyin, the biggest I've ever played in on your site. You STOLE it. I don't need to bother hypothesizing about specifically how you did it. All I know is, you did.

And for once in my life, I know I can do something about it, pokerstars. You stole a couple hundy from me, and I know for absolute certain I can cost you a heck of a lot more than a couple hundy in lost tournament fees, rake, etc. And it won't even take me very long to do it. Just from my own play alone, within the span of maybe 2 months of not playing at all at pokerstars, you'll have already lost out on more than a couple hundy in fees from me. Plus, I am inclined to move the weekly Hoy tournament to full tilt now as well. It probably should have been there for a long time ago anyways, and I've already got some fun ideas going for what to do with the Hoy. I will make any announcements about that shortly.

So that's it for now. As I reread this I don't think it's much of a rant. But I don't care.

Pokerstars....F OFF!!!