Wednesday, February 07, 2007

WWdN Thoughts, and More on the FTOPS

So. I decided to take it pretty easy last night on the online poker front, as I have been pushing pretty hard and making several deep tournament runs over the last few days that have left me feeling a little bit over-pokered just lately. I'm still really into the game and really looking forward to playing at night, but, as those of you who have won significant mtt's will know, making those deep runs where big prizes are at stake is very draining. Mentally, emotionally, whatever the word is. I mean, when I was pushing this past Saturday night to win that rebuy satellite into FTOPS Event #7 (The Rebuy event), things got pretty tense there near the end. I didn't get into the details so much here, because on Monday I was busy ranting and raving like a madman about the full tilt server shutdown issue from Sunday night, but the top 3 players in that event won the Event #7 seats, and we fought it out at the bubble with four players left for a good hour or more before finally bursting through to the other side. And I'm still kinda shaken by the outcome, where the guy who had had the hugest stack just 5 minutes earlier ended up busting out by running his KK into AJ and an Ace falling, then running his AJ into AK and finally by running his short-stacked AQ into AK again and losing it all, allowing a player who had had under 1000 chips just five minutes before (average stack size among the other three players left was probably 35,000) to squeak his way into a seat. Ironically, this was the same player ("SmokinJoe" something) who was left standing with me at the end of my FTOPS Main Event satellite on Monday night as well, so that was funny in its own right.

Anyways, so Saturday night was really pretty draining by the time all was said and done. Sunday night I don't recall if I played much or what, but I do recall making the final table in a main event sat before busting out in 6th place with the top 2 finishers getting their ME seats. Then on Monday I ended up winning the Hoy, getting heads up against Chad of all people, so that took a lot of mental energy there as I am really into winning my own tournament of course, and then on the same night at the same time as the Hoy, I was also in that FTOPS ME satellite that I eventually ended up winning. But that was a rebuy, so the thing took forever, and again believe me when I say that the final table took probably 2 hours or more to get down from 9 to 2 players left, and that bubble itself was again a good 40 or 45 minutes before that guy finally reraised me allin with AT against my AK. And again, I was really feeling drained from it all.

So all this is a roundabout way of saying that last night I didn't really want to get into any major tournaments. So I just decided to play the Wheatie along with 44 other of my fake internet friends, and as I've been playing very well lately I figured maybe I could make a nice run at my second career WWdN title.

Then I saw Maigrey's chip stack early on in the tournament, and I doubted that. Maigrey, someone who I tend to think of as a specialist in the non-holdem games but who obviously has mad nlh skillz as well, chipped up early in the WWdN and just kept adding and adding and adding to her stack. By halfway through the 45-person field in last night's WWdN, Maigrey had accumulated over 15,000 chips, nearly three times the stack size of even the second-place player in the event at that time. Think about that. She was nearly 3x more than second place, with around 20 players left. Damn. Even Jamie Gold might be jealous of that size lead.

But this is where I think Maigrey made some strategic errors last night. When you get that kind of a redickulous stack early on in an mtt, I think it often makes sense to start playing to preserve your position. Yes you have the chips to take some chances, and I'm all for that sort of thing as a general statement, but at the same time, I can't count how many times I see, for example, some guy who amasses 10k in chips during monkey hour of the nightly 25k on full tilt going and calling allins from "short" stacks (everyone is short compared to him) when the big stack guy is holding T7s, Q9s, etc. Invariably these big-stack players lose such confrontations, because the cards they're calling these allins with suck ass, and suddenly that big stack they had is a little less. And then it's a little less than that. And then a little less still. And suddenly, they're not a big stack anymore, because they've made a bunch of bad plays with bad cards, relying solely on the fact that they had enough chips to "take a chance". Stoopid.

Now to be sure, this is not really what Maigrey did last night in the WWdN. Maigrey nailed some flops hard early, and she made a bunch of good bets and good calls to amass this huge stack. But then when I got moved to her table, I watched her call someone's allin preflop with a very dubious hand -- I don't recall exactly but it was I'm sure not a call she would have made with a lesser stack, something like a medium Ace maybe -- and then she sucked out on the guy to grow her stack from 14k to 16k, when 2nd place had just over 5k in chips. Then, with 19 players left, I saw a free flop with Maigrey from my big blind while I held JK, and I had about 2000 chips left in my stack. The board came J84. I checked, having watched Maigrey bet out at literally every single flop when checked to her since amassing her big stack, and Maigrey dutifully bet out immediately. I quickly checkraised her allin, sure I had the best hand. Maigrey called me without hesitation, and showed....

Ten-Eight. So, Maigrey called my allin checkraise on the flop with middle pair 8s, and a shizzy kicker to go with it. Any higher 8 beats her. Any Jack beats her. And pocket pair higher than 7's beats her. Basically, I have watched Maigrey play a lot and I have mucho respecto for her game, so I know she knew she was behind there and was getting terrible odds to make the call. Of course, no sooner had I typed in "I can't believe you just called that bet" into the chat, that another 8 falls on the turn, and IGH in 19th place, losing to Maigrey's approximately 20% suckout with two cards to come. Ich.

Now this all reminds me of something I wrote about last week in connection with the whole Ace-Jack rant I went off on after one of the blogger tournaments, the Mookie I believe it was. One of the points I made in that post -- and this is something I firmly believe is true -- is that when you are making bad plays like calling preflop allins early in tournaments with a nice stack when you're holding AJ, your mindset is all fucked up. Yes, this is pokerstars or full tilt so you might get rewarded by your donkery there, but that particular hand's result has exactly zippo to do with the larger issue, which is that you clearly and inescapably have the wrong mindset for that tournament if you're making a play like that. And, the point I made last week is that, even if you do get rewarded for your donkeycall with the AJ there, you are not going to win that tournament because you factually do not have the required mindset to do it. If you're making that kind of play early on in an mtt, it is exceedingly difficult to just snap your fingers and get out of that mindset for the rest of the event. It's nearly impossible. I will concede that theoretically it would in fact be possible to do this, but in practice I don't recall seeing it. Ever.

So in this case, when Maigrey got that huge stack going in the middle of last night's WWdN, she started betting and calling more or less everything. She called me for 2000 of her hard-earned 16000 chips -- a full eighth of her stack -- knowing with certainty that she was behind, way behind me, and drawing to no more than 6 outs with two cards to come. She knew it, and yet she instantly called anyways. When the suckout happened, I'm sure Maigrey was feeling great about the play, but it was beyond terrible and she knew it when she made the call. She was just stuck in a mindset at that point that she was "on fire" and thus could keep making plays like this and it would all keep working out.

Now, I didn't follow most of the rest of the WWdN, as my new HDTV conked out for a bit and I had to attend to that for a while, but I did check the leaderboard a short while later and saw Maigrey still at the top as the tournament neared the final table, albeit not by nearly as much as she had been. Then as I fixed the tv thankfully, I logged back in to the leaderboard and saw that Maigrey had busted in I think 4th place. This does not surprise me. I've said it before and I'll say it again, and I think everyone out there ought to understand this, and force yourselves to build this into your larger tournament strategy going on in your heads -- If you have a poor mindset as far as making smart, sound poker decisions early on in a poker tournament, it is practically impossible to just eliminate that mindset and replace it with a winning one to go on to take the tournament down. We're all only human, so this is far from an insult against anyone. It's just part of being what we are. I should know. I've made more donkey plays in tournaments than anybody I've ever met and probably ever will meet. I've been this guy with the poor mindset more times than I can possibly count. Seriously. So I would know. But over time I've come to accept that when I'm the guy calling the preflop allin on the third hand of the 25k with my AJo, even if I manage to suck out on my opponent and double up early, I'm not going to win that night. I'm not going to make the final table, and frankly I'll be lucky even to cash in the thing, even despite the early big stack that I'm off to. I've accepted that by this point in my poker career. When I saw Maigrey instacall with an easily-dominated hand preflop, and then two hands later call off an eighth of her stack with a hand she knew had to be well behind mine, I knew she couldn't win that night. The suckout she let loose on me didn't surprise me much (this is pokerstars, after all, right?), but neither did seeing that she went out in 4th place. A great run for sure, but with the stack she had amassed with 18 players left, that tournament was clearly hers for the taking. But she didn't take it. She left it instead.

In a multi-table poker tournament, mindset is everything. If you don't have your mindset straight early on, and in the middle, and even heading into the final table, it's almost impossible to win. And that's my thoughts on the WWdN last night, which was a blast as always.

Btw I also played the WWdN 2nd chance tournament, which was PLO, one of my favorite poker games. I dominated, chipping up to first place early when not one but two bozos pushed allin ahead of me when I had flopped the nut straight. Funny thing is, there was a flush draw on the board as well, and I thought for sure I would lose the hand to that in the end, but not only did the flush draw never hit, but neither player who had moved in ahead of me on the flop had a piece of the flush draw either. Now that's some bad PLO play right there. In fact, I won two or three big pots in that game when I flopped the nut straight. No matter how many times I write about it here, people just don't seem to learn that Omaha is a game of the nuts. I don't mean that as an insult, as it took me forever to learn that myself. I still get caught once in a while, losing all my chips with a King-high flush to an Ace-high flush, or my personal favorite, being eliminated when my nut flush loses to a boat. If you don't have the literal nuts in Omaha or a strong draw to it, then you simply have no business moving all your chips into the middle of the table, especially again early in a tournament. That said, at the bubble for the final table some monkey sucked out a huge pot on me and I was out of the tournament. I don't remember all of the specifics, but I believe I had flopped trips (no not a set, but actual trips) against someone else who just couldn't get away from the two kings in his hand, even despite the pair on the flop -- talk about a -EV move in Omaha -- but then a 19-to-1 two-outer King on the river did me in and IGH in 10th place. Disgusting and disappointing. But it's ok. Like I said, I wanted to take it easy last night, so after this I just logged out and hit the sack. It was definitely a fun night of poker, and I thought a lot about strategy and things like I wrote about above, and most importantly, I didn't stress or strain at all poker-wise, the first time I can say that in several days. Now that I've qualified for all these FTOPS events, it was nice to just play relaxing, who-really-cares poker with some good friends and just take it easy.

And that moves me to what I really wanted to talk a little more about today -- the Full Tilt Online Poker Series. A lot of people were asking about it yesterday during the WWdN, so I thought I would post some information here. First of all, the FTOPS is a series of large-guarantee online poker tournaments that full tilt has been sponsoring (btw have you checked out full tilt's new blogger, Michael Craig, yet? He is a fantastic poker writer, so you definitely want to be checking out what he has to say if you haven't already. If you like to read this drivel, then you'll certainly love what Michael has to say). The FTOPS has been running every three months lately on full tilt, and this will be the third iteration of the series, this month featuring 10 tournaments running from Friday, February 9 through Sunday, February 18, culminating in the FTOPS Main Event, which is a deep stack, $535 buyin, $1.5 million guaranteed tournament where first prize is at least $274,000 and change. Here is the full schedule for this February's FTOPS on full tilt:



Now, as far as my participation in the FTOPS, about a month ago now I won a satellite called an avatar race (still running nightly at 9pm ET for $75 a pop) that awarded me a seat in FTOPS Events #1, 5 and 8. Three $216 buyin holdem events (regular nlh, 6-max nlh, and pot-limit holdem). I also separately won a seat into the $216 nlh rebuy Event #7 this past weekend, and then earlier this week I won a satellite into the Main Event (Event #10) as well. So as of right now, I am already qualified for Events # 1, 5, 7, 8 and 10. This has me playing in the FTOPS this coming Friday, next Tuesday, next Thursday, next Friday and then the main event next Sunday. I definitely want to play in as many of these things as I can, because, frankly, one never knows if online poker as we know it will even still be around and available to us U.S. players by the time the next FTOPS comes around (presumably in April). And, as I've written about here often, I never ever play on the weekends except for my usual late-night activities, so I hardly ever have the chance to play for the large buyin tournaments that run mainly on Saturday and Sunday afternoons on pokerstars and full tilt. So the FTOPS events, which for the weekdays all start at 9pm ET, are a perfect opportunity for me to get my game on in tournaments where I could actually participate in a veritable huge prize pool.

OK so all that being said, I've basically qualified at this point for almost all the FTOPS tournaments I am available to play in. I'm already in Event #1, and I won't even try to play in #2 or #3, both of which occur on the weekend. Which sucks btw, because I would really love to play the HORSE event on Saturday. I love HORSE as you know, and I've won a ton of money playing HORSE, both in cash games and especially in tournaments, over the past 6 months or more (as an aside, if you're looking for a really excellent HORSE player, look no further than Maigrey, who has won quite a bit of coin in HORSE and in non-holdem events with bloggers over the past year or two). But, no can do. Family time is family time, and with the main event already happening on a weekend at 6pm ET, no way I'm even trying to play any other weekend FTOPS events. But I will miss that HORSE tournament for sure, I would love to play in that shizz.

Anyways, the next event after this coming weekend is PLO with rebuys, for $100, which is another awesome event that I would love to play in, that occurs on Monday, February 12. Not only is it Omaha high which I love, but full tilt was very smart here and made it only a $100 buyin, which makes rebuying all the more pallatable for most of their players, in particular in light of the payment-processor issues now facing the online poker world. So kudos to full tilt for this one. But I won't be playing it. That is because Monday night is Hammer Wife's and my night to celebrate Valentine's Day. We didn't even want to ask our normal sitter to come on Valentine's Day, as she is a young woman who is recently engaged and we're sure she wants to spend that night doing her own thing. So instead we just asked her to pick a night in February to come, and my wife and I would just go out then. Monday the 12th is that night. So, my wife and I have reservations at Daniel, literally the single best meal I've ever had in my life when we went there for Hammer Wife's birthday last year, and she really wants to go back, so we're there. It is supposed to be the best restauarant in New York, and frankly for the price it better be, but the meal itself was so far beyond exquisite, words can't even describe how great it was. So we're there on Monday, and it's one of the few things in the world I would much rather do even than play pot-limit Omaha high with Lee Watkinson and friends on full tilt.

After that, I'm already in Tuesday's, Thursday's and Friday's FTOPS events. I won't even try for next Saturday's $322 buyin Holdem-Omaha tournament, another one I would really love to play in as I love both holdem and omaha, but because it's a Saturday it is once again out as an option. And then Sunday is the main event, which I qualified for this week and am still trying to find a way to figure out how to get to play that. But I'll find a way. And remember my offer from yesterday -- I will transfer $10 to the pokerstars account of anyone who comes up with an idea that works for me to convince Hammer Wife to be cool with me playing in the Main Event next Sunday.

So that's the situation. I'm in on Friday. Saturday and Sunday I won't do. Monday I have fabulous dinner plans so that's out. I'm in Tuesday. I'm in Thursday and Friday. Saturday I won't do. And Sunday I'll be in. So, all this leaves just one other event up for grabs for me in the FTOPS -- next Wednesday's O8 tournament, hosted by Lucko's favorite donkey Mike Matusow (if you haven't yet checked out Lucko's story of the sng with Matusow, go read it now, it's funny and enjoyable). There are almost no satellites to this event yet, which is basically the only reason why I'm not registered for it yet -- there actually is a 7:30pm ET sat every night that Badblood recently won for a $75 buyin that gets you a seat into Events #2 and 6, but the issue there is that I simply can't play Event #2 on a Saturday, and it makes no sense for me to pay $75 to win my way into two tournaments when I can't even play the first one. Otherwise, they don't have any nighttime satellites into Event #6, and although a few weeks back I did play a couple of the sng satellites into this event (including convincing my buddy jeciimd to play with me, which ended with me donking early and him winning his FTOPS seat), I didn't win in the two that I played, and I haven't really thought about it since. This is the smallest guarantee of all the FTOPS events at only 75k, and frankly, as I've written here before, O8 is literally my least favorite game of all the poker variants I play regularly, so I'm kinda torn on this one. I think in the end I will play some satellites when they start running them later than 6:30pm on the East Coast, which probably won't be until early next week is my guess, but I will defiintely not be buying in for $216 to any O8 event. I really don't enjoy the game, although I play it pretty well and have a good grasp of starting hands and general Omaha strategy, so I will make the old college try to satellite in on the cheap. But if not, then Mike Matusow and jeciimd can battle it out to see who the champion is of what I consider to be the biggest donkey game of all the major poker variants.

OK that's all for today. Don't forget tonight is the Hammer Day poker tournament on full tilt, hosted by Mookie and Al, which is only a $7.20 buyin (password is "riverchasers") so it's cheap and easy to play. It takes place tonight at 9pm ET on full tilt, an hour earlier than the usual Mookie, which as Mookie points out is really great for us Lost fans who intend to devote full attention to the new episode which airs tonight starting at 10pm ET. I of course will be long sucked out on by the time 10pm ET rolls around, so no problem for me there.

Oh and one other quick thing, Otis has a great short story over at UpForPoker called "The Syndicate" that I'm sure you'll enjoy if you haven't already read it. Go check it out and see what you think. In addition to being a great poker reporter, it seems our boy Otis can really write too. Awesome stuff.

See you at 9pm ET tonight for some hammer donking on full tilt!

5 Comments:

Blogger Matt said...

I have to disagree with those who suggest you split the winnings with her. Although your poker skills are well documented, your bad beats are documented just as well, and you don't want to end up explaining to you wife that, after 4 hours, there's no winnings to split because you lost to a two-outer on the bubble.

I would try to stay away from tangible things too, like dinners and gifts. Any time you do this you risk losing leverage, and before you know it you'll have to buy her a diamond necklace just to take a piss.

I think a comment that Lucko left Blinders recently applies here as well: "Keep the pimp hand strong."

I say you should keep things equal and fair. Playing this tournament means that she is stuck with the kids while you go do something that you want to do, so give her the same. Take the kids off her hands one Saturday afternoon and let her go do whatever she wants. Then have some kind of surprise for her when she returns, like a spotless kitchen or something.

GL in the FTOPS, and maybe I'll see you tonight in the Hammer Day event.

Matt (mclarich)

2:42 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Personally, I'm with you, Matt. Obviously these guys don't know the Hammer Wife like I do, but offering to split my winnings with her is not the answer. I already share not half but all of my money with my family, and am well known in my family as the guy who is lavish as hell with my wife and kids, but cheap as balls with myself. So splitting the money with my wife, while it sounds good as an alleged compromise offer, doesn't actually get me where I need to be. It's all our money, not my money anyways, after all.

I also agree fully that buying her some shit is not the answer.

Lucko's "pimp hand" comment aside -- and I also thought that was effing hilarious in Blinders' comments -- deep down I know it is more than reasonable for me to take one hour of time with the kids -- albeit a busy hour of the day -- to play before their normal 7pm bedtime anyways is more than reasonable. We're talking about something I do zero, maybe one time a year. And Hammer Wife knows full well how into playing poker I am, and how successful I have been at it these past couple of years. So I just don't think it's asking very much at all, not even like if I wanted to play from noon to 9pm, which would really be leaving her alone with the kids for the whole day. The kids are asleep by 7 every night anyways, so we're talking about one hour here. Personally I don't even think it's worthy of a "I'll take the kids all afternoon" thing, but maybe that's just me.

Thanks for the comments, I'm with you almost 100%.

3:10 AM  
Blogger lucko said...

Don't underestimate the power of a strong pimp hand!

I actually forgot all about that comment I made on Blinders blog, I just went back and checked it and had a good laugh myself.

4:15 AM  
Blogger cracknaces said...

I can't wait for FTOPS either. It might be the end of on-line poker, so we need to go out with a bang :)

4:35 AM  
Blogger bayne_s said...

Hoy,
As I said in previous post honesty is the best policy.

Only suggestion I would add to prior post is to offer to hire baby sitter for few hours from 1 Hour before FTOPS ME starts until you reach sitters minimum duration job or couple of hours after ME is underway.

I think this gesture would convey importance of playing quite well to the Hammer Wife.

5:00 AM  

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