Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Bitches, Bracelets and the MATH

Man am I glad I don't have to work with the bitch who got on the subway right behind me this morning. I mean, here we are, all packed in like sardines as is the universal constant for rush hour in Manhattan, and this bitch gets on right after me and starts pushing her way through the crowd. And by "pushing", I mean throwing elbows aggressively and angrily left and right at anybody standing in her way. All so this bitch could -- what? Get to the next overcrowded sardine spot 3 or 4 feet across the train car. She nailed me good in the back a couple of times as she raged her way to the other side of the train, and when it was all done, there were probably 5 or 10 passengers all looking at this bitch to see what the hubbub was about, including me. She must have sat there angrily shaking her head in the "no" sign for a good minute or two even after arriving at her equally-packed destination point. And I was just thinking: how the fuck bad must this bitch's life be to be acting like this in a perfectly innocent situation that affects everyone equally, at 7:30 in the morning on a nice day on the first day of spring in the best city in the world? Then I remembered I don't live in Las Vegas. But, other than the "best city" part, what must be up this bitch's ass so early in the day? First I'm thinking maybe she just really hates her job. But as someone who has worked jobs that I fully hated, despised with every ounce of my being (hint hint...law firm), I just don't see that person acting quite like that. That was typically more of a depressed, mopey attitude for the morning commuter, not the raging bitch thing that this whore had going on first thing in the morning today. No, this struck me as more of a family thing. She's probably got a husband (she looks to be about 40, 45 years old) at home, who's probably nailing the 18-year-old babysitter, or worse yet the 50-year-old next door neighbor, all because his own wife has turned into such a fucking bitchcow that he can barely stand to be in the same room as her. She must have something going on at home that angers her so much, that she is showing up at the subway at 7 fucking 30 in the morning already pissed off to the point of launching physical violence on numerous fellow citizens just because she has the slightest excuse to do so. I can't imagine being that kind of bitchwhore, or having that kind of life that I'm that kind of angry that early in the day for no good reason. Poor little bitchcock. And poor little bitchcock's co-workers, as she looked dressed for some kind of an office job. I can only imagine working with that scumbitch has got to be like playing at a full tilt table with me or Chad when we're fully tilted and raring to go in the chat. Hah. Love that fuckin post man.

OK back to poker....So you want to hear something about me, that is not only just about the dorkiest thing about me, but probably the dorkiest thing you could ever hear about anybody, and then how it relates to my poker play? Well here goes (avert your eyes if you don't want your opinion of me as mister cool n smooth to be shattered forever)....

I won the New Jersey Math League as a teenager, an annual competition of all the students in the entire state at tricky and complex math problems, given once a year state-wide. And if that wasn't enough, I won it twice. I don't know if this has happened since, but at the time nobody connected to the Math League exam had ever heard of someone winning this contest back to back. But that was me. I was also on my high school's math team in my junior and senior year of high school. Yes, the math team that won all of Burlington County and placed third in the state (I can't help it if we didn't have a great cast all throughout!) both of those years. And I was always the anchor of the team. You could hardly come up with a math question that I couldn't quickly figure out how to solve. By the time I was done with high school, I had scored a 5 on the Calculus BC advanced placement exam, and I had placed out of all math requirements at Georgetown. And you know what I did with all this great math experience once I got to college?

I never took another math class again. Despite being really awesome at math all growing up, I never took math after high school. It just didn't fit in with all the rest of the more well-rounded courses I was taking in college, and it's not a decision that I regret a bit. But, the downside is that today, more than 15 years later, I have forgotten the "how" behind many of the more complex math-type of problems, including difficult probability questions, combinations, etc. These are things that I'm sure I could re-learn with probably just a few days of study since I once knew them and was able to combine and manipulate the formulas and concepts like a master chef knows just what to sprinkle and throw in to create a delicious entree or dessert. But nowadays, after upmteen years of not practicing, not even thinking about how to calculate some of the finer complexities of probabilities, you know what I am left with? Very little ability -- or desire, really -- to actually do the computations required to determine with any exactitude the probabilties I often face at the poker table. But one thing never went away -- I still have really, really fine math instincts. I may not care to remember how to calculate exactly the probability, say, that I am dealt KK when another player at the table is dealt AA. But I know it's rare as balls, and I bet I could estimate that probability just based on instinct off the top of my head a heck of a lot closer than mostly anyone else who doesn't already know the answer. That's what I am nowadays at the poker table, math-wise. I may not be in the least bit willing to figure whether a given probability is 20.3% or 20.7%, but I am usually able to "guess" that probability off the top of my head to, say, "somewhere just slightly more than 20%" and usually am right on.

All this is to say, when I'm at the poker table, although I'm not one to do many actual calculations, I generally know with pretty good accuracy how likely or unlikely something really is, moreso I find than mostly anyone but the very best players who have also taken the time and energy (and have the ability) to really understand the math behind this game we love. And this kills my game sometimes as a result. You know how? Because sometimes I get too attached to what I just instinctually know to be true about the probabilities, without regard to the betting action I have actually seen at the table in a given hand. And this is something I have got to work on and get better at. For example, I am just about the last person who will ever lay down the pocket Kings in the small blind, say on a raggy board, even when I can just tell my single opponent in the big blind is playing his hand just like he has Aces. I am just too in tune with how truly unlikely it is that I would be dealt KK in the small blind, nobody behind me would be dealt anything playable, and the big blind would just happen to be dealt Aces at the exact same time. Again, I don't do the calculations, but my head instinctually tells me -- and I know this is true beyond any doubt without sitting down with a calculator or pen and paper -- that we are talking about less than 1% here. Probably more like a third of a percent. Or less. It's rare enough for two players to be dealt KK and AA in the same hand at the same time. But for this to happen in the small blind and big blind, and to have nobody else have anything worth playing, and to have the flop come all low cards, it's just incredibly rare. And because I seem to have a great instinctual grasp of just how rare that really is, I tend to talk myself out of believing that the super-rare event could actually be happening here when I'm sitting at the table. It's just too unlikely, I'll tell myself, and I'll end up calling off all my chips even when by the end I basically know the guy does in fact have the Aces. And sometimes I feel like if I didn't have such a good instinctual grasp of the math, I might not be so unwilling to believe I am beat in situations like this.

Such was the case last night in the midnight bracelet race on full tilt, which I again satellited in to, for the second straight time in the 9:20pm ET $14 rebuy sat with only one initial rebuy. Actually, to be accurate, I bubbled in this satellite thanks to some ultra-annoying collaboration between two players who were obviously friends, with the one big stack to the short-stacked guy's immediate right folding his small blind to the friend's big blind twice instead of stealing to knock the small stack out, and then that same big stack raising big against my big blind on the next hand on those same two separate occasions. The J2o and 64o I had in both instances made it difficult for me to do anything about it, and by the end there the blinds were so big that my own stack quickly went from 4th out of 6 remaining down to 6 out of 6 remaining. But, I scored just over $100 for my efforts in going out in 6th place with the top 5 players winning the full $216 buyin, and I figured, at just $100 for a 10% chance to win the 2k prize package in the midnight bracelet race, I would go ahead and do it anyways.

Anyways, I didn't get shit for cards through most of the first hour of this thing on Monday night, seeing a despicable 5% of flops through my time in the tournament, and then with about 2 minutes left before the first break, I look down to find QQ in the big blind. First position limps UTG, and when it folds around to me, I pop it up significantly, about 4.5x his bet, since I want the limper out of here because UTG limpers generally scare me. He pauses briefly and then called my big raise. Sign #1.

The flop naturally comes out a rainbow 873. I've got the big overpair here, and I need to test the UTG limper to see just how strong he really is. I bet out the size of the pot on the flop, now about 1200 chips of my 4000 or so remaining chipstack. He pauses briefly and then calls. Sign #2.

Before the turn card even came out, I had decided I was going to check it and see what he had to say about it. It came another offsuit rag, and I checked. He paused briefly and then checked behind. Truth be told, if he had gone allin I was going to call him anyways, but he didn't bet it. Then the river came a Jack. I checked it, knowing full well that my fucking Queens never win shiat, and I was completely unsurprised in every way when my opponent responded by moving in his last 2400 chips or so, just enough to cover me. Sign #3.

Now, at this point, I knew in my heart of hearts that I was beat. The guy had limped UTG and then called a big raise from me preflop. That right there screams out "big pair! big pair!". It's not like I don't know this. I did know it. I knew it right then and there in real-time last night. Then when he called my big bet on the flop, that iced it. I knew I was up against Kings or Aces. There was just no other way. I know plenty of donks (the majority of online poker players out there I would say, in fact) who would make the preflop call with AK. But would most also call a large potbet on the raggy flop with just the AK high? Nope. Not the good players anyways. So in my heart, I knew this guy had Aces or Kings.

But that was when those math instincts deep in my brain started kicking in. And this has happened before, many, many times. Suddenly there's this voice in my head saying "Come on, Hoy (ok I don't really call myself "Hoy", but still). What are the odds that this dude just happens to have Aces or Kings, at the exact same time that you get your only premium hand of the tournament with Queens, and that the board comes all raggy like this to boot?" And because I've always had these great math instincts, I have a very good idea of the answer. Do I know it exactly? No. But I know we're talking about in the low single-digit percents here. Like, the percentage of a 1-outer-with-one-card-to-come kind of chances. Now, obviously when you play several hundred hands of poker a night, even something with a 2 or 3% chance ends up happening to you, almost every night in fact. And lord knows we've all lost KK to AA, QQ to KK, etc. more times than we can count (or in my case, KK to AJ, QQ to AJ, 99 to AJ, 66 to AJ, AK to AJ, etc.) But nonetheless, when my math brain starts talking to the rest of my head, I can find it very hard to ignore. And there was me last night, as I've done so many times in the past, letting my math instincts convince me to "go with the odds", instead of paying fucking attention to all the fucking evidence there was that this was, in fact, one of those 2 or 3% of times when my pocket Queens were in fact beat from the getgo. I called, he showed his pocket Kings, and IGH on the second to last hand of the first hour. What a waste of about 3 1/2 hours of satelliting into and then playing in this thing. What a waste of a good read, and what a waste of an hour of solid, patient poker play, finally waiting until I hit a cheap flop hard and was able to double up despite sitting there like a donk and seeing almost no flops for the better part of an hour online, in the dark, after midnight with my wife and kids all asleep around me.

So that's it. I've made this mistake in this exact way too many times now, and today I resolve to finally do something about it. I, King Hoy, hereby proclaim (trumpets sounding in the background) that I am not going to let my math and probability instincts talk me into making calls that the evidence otherwise indicates I should not make. If I am sure I am beat from the action on a hand, I will hereby stop using the fact that I am very good at quickly just "knowing" the chances of something fairly remote to make a decision for me that I otherwise know is wrong. Now all you donks out there, try all you want to push me off of hands because of this. I'll read you like a book and take your chips. But in the specific type of situation I am talking about here, when I know I am beat in a very rare, hard-to-believe, "big blind special" or big-pockets-over-big-pockets type of situation, I've made this mistake for the last time. You have my word on it.

OK briefly I want to review last night's Hoy tournament, which had 21 runners including at least two new faces (to me, anyways) in Shag0103 and Nickedemus (hope I am spelling that one right). I got no cards, saw almost no flops, and ended up going out I think in 13th place. More importantly, however, is that I outlasted both Fuel55 and Bayne, my two closest competitors on the 2007 Hoy money leaderboard, meaning that my top spot was safe for another week, so I felt ok pushing with what I think was just Ace-high on a paired flop against a preflop raiser who I think turned out to have a pocket pair and held on to win. I don't remember who got me, but I donked it as I recall, so way to go whoeveryouare.

In the end, it was Hoy newcomer Shag0103, complete with icon of Shaggy from Scooby Doo fame and all, busting in 3rd place and taking home $84 for his efforts in his first ever Hoy cash. Shag, if you have a blog let me know in the comments and I will link you here. This left fellow bloggers Zeem and Byron to battle it out for heads-up play and for the latest weekly Hoy title, with Zeem starting off the battle up 22k to 8k in chips after Zeem knocked out Shag in third place. These two fierce competitors battled it out two-handed for a good long while, and the 20- or 25-minute clash included some nice consecutive hand-winning streaks by both players that saw Byron take a more than 2-to-1 chip lead from Zeem, and then Zeem getting himself back to his own 2-to-1 lead on at least one other occasion during the tussle. Eventually, once Byron had once again regained the chip lead, Zeem raised preflop, and Byron moved in with what turned out to be KQo. Zeem quickly called with his A6o, the Ace held up and Zeem once again was up 18k to 12k. Five minutes later, Zeem's A9 held up over Byron's pocket 4s when the 9 on the flop sealed the deal, and Zeem had won his first Hoy of 2007 (and I believe at least his second overall). So it was Byron coming in second place for $126, and Zeem taking down this week's tournament along with the $210 prize to go along with it. Congratulations to all three of this week's cashers, including again Shag in what I believe is his first ever Hoy tournament, and I hope to see you all back again next week as the field continues to try to dethrone the long-reigning leading 2007 Hoy moneywinner through almost a quarter of the year so far:

1. Hoyazo $472
2. Fuel55 $458
3. Bayne_s $410
4. Zeem $330
5. VinNay $310
6. Wigginx $288
7. Manik79 $252
8. Byron $234
9. Omega_man_99 $210
10. bartonfa $180
11. Santa Clauss $170
12. Smokkee $162
13. Chad $120
14. Ganton516 $114
15. NewinNov $90
16. Shag0103 $84
17. Columbo $80
17. PhinCity $80
17. jeciimd $80
20. l.e.s.ter000 $72
21. Julius Goat $60

See you next Monday for Mondays at the Hoy!! Tonight I will try to make the Wheatie at 8:30pm ET on pokerstars (password as always is "monkey"), and I should otherwise be in the 9:30pm ET bracelet race on full tilt, which I believe tonight is just straight-up no-limit holdem, even though nobody ever wins these things when it's just winner take all like most of the regular 9:30pm races are. But I can't stay away, on the off chance I can get lucky early and often and maybe hit something big. I still have the Any Two Cards post half-written, but it looks like that is going to wait for tomorrow once again. I'll still be here then if you will.

Labels: , , ,

11 Comments:

Blogger Alan said...

Your blogs are freakin hilarious. I need to stay away from your blogs during work hours... Between your blogs and the Jim Rome show I listen to with my earphones, my coworkers probably think I'm a freak every time I chuckle. And how bout them ACC schools!!! Every time an ACC school went down, I was thinking about your earlier post about the selection committee whacking off to the ACC. Hilarious.

9:40 PM  
Blogger BigPirate said...

Please e me at attorneywwj@alltel.net so I can get your e-mail address. I have some wonderful amway opportunities I would love to discuss with you.

Thanks for the hosting as always and the kind words.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Iakaris aka I.A.K. said...

very very interesting read...i've found it strange you never focus on the math in your posts but have been consistently successful. this background kind of fills in the gap.

looking forward to suing the shit out of my partner with you.

11:14 PM  
Blogger StB said...

I bet that first paragraph venting on the bitch was actually fun to write. Better than a cup of coffee in the morning.

12:34 AM  
Blogger smokkee said...

always trust your instincts Hoy.

12:57 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

You're so right, StB. And it had just happened about 10 minutes earlier too. I run into all kinds of cockshits on a usual subway ride in Manhattan, and I think it's time I start venting about them, one at a time. You can look forward to more of that I'm sure.

1:02 AM  
Blogger Pokerwolf said...

What is it about public transportation that turns people into assholes? Sheesh!

I used to ride the subway here in DC and most people are pretty respectful of other people's personal space and saying "excuse me" when they need to get by, but some people must have missed that memo. Ugh.

Interesting tidbits about you and math, Hoy. Now we have an explanation for why you called your tournament "Mondays At The Hoy". Nice subliminal acronym you have there. Well played.

3:02 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

FWIW Wolf, I never even noticed the "MATH" acronym until a few weeks after I set up my first Mondays at the Hoy tournament. "Honest Injun" as my dad used to say. But I was a big math geek back in the day, no doubt about that.

3:03 AM  
Blogger WindBreak247 said...

Hey Hoy. I've got my first real hand analysis post up that I've ever done, and I was wondering if you'd take a couple mins and stop by and toss in your two cents. My blog usually sucks so I understand if a lot of people don't read it, but I was hoping to flag down a few people to take a look at this hand I was in last night.

If not, no biggie. Thanks man!

3:17 AM  
Blogger Raveen said...

hilarious first paragraph man...and like smokee said go with your instincts there usually right, but its just so hard to fold QQ and up sometimes

7:06 AM  
Blogger The Litvak said...

That's better than the woman who threatened to slap my girlfriend on the crowded Q train last week because my GF brushed against her. The woman hadn't seen that gf was with me, so I let her know (and let her know she was not going to slap anyone).

Out of curiosity, what do you do now that you're no longer at a firm?

9:07 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home