Monday, March 12, 2007

Live Poker, and the MATH is Back

After missing last week's event during the Hammer Family's relaxing trip to sunny southern Florida, I am back this week and looking to make my thunderous return to my favorite blogger tournament of the week...mine!

10pm ET tonight on pokerstars. Be there or be squizznare. Hopefully Fuel will be there, because if he does I am going to lay a $10 bounty on him for whoever eliminates Fuel from the tournament. I've seen so much donkery when players go up against him recently in these blogger tournaments, I want to incentivize somebody to play some real poker against this guy and take him out early. The MATH final table called and said it is sick and tired of Fuel always being there, and always being there with a big stack at that. So, $10 transferred to your pokerstars account if you knock the big man out of the Hoy tonight. See you there.

OK so I have a lot to talk about this morning (what else is new). I guess first let's discuss WSOP Circuit Event #6 at Caesar's in Atlantic City, in which I played on Saturday at noon. This was a $300 buyin event, and in the end sported I think over 1150 players in what was either the biggest or the second-biggest-ever WSOP Circuit tournament, a fact which I kinda liked because believe me when I say the donkeys were out in force in this thing. It never ceases to amaze me that people will make the trek out to a real-life casino and pony up $340 of their hard-earned money to play in a poker tournament in which they should know they haven't got a rat's ass chance of winning. But I am getting ahead of myself.

So I arrive at Caesar's at around 10:30am for the noon start time of the event, and after parking and finding my way to the tournament registration, it was maybe 10:45. The line for "registration" at the event was pretty long, but happily it only took maybe 20 minutes to get through it all and get myself registered. To my dismay, however, nobody asked me to pay the $340 entry fee during the registration process, and this was when the nice lady at the registration counter told me I had to go wait in another line -- the "WSOP Cashier" line -- in order to pay my buyin and officially enter the event.

Now, I'm no tournament structuring genius, but this is a goddam idiotic idea, plain and simple. I mean, they've already got me waiting in line for 20 minutes and providing my personal information to "register". Why not take an extra, what? -- 30 seconds? -- and have me pay them the money right there? It makes absolutely no flipping sense at all. So instead, I waited in two 20-minute lines to get into the tournament instead of just the one 20-minute line it should have been. Luckily I had gotten there way early so this was not an issue, but can you imagine the rant you'd be reading right now if I had missed getting into the tournament because of this effing regoddamdiculous line issue? I still can't understand why they would do it this way. In any event, I got registered with maybe 30 minutes to spare, and was even able to meet up briefly with Jordan for a few minutes before the event, and then we both headed to our tables to sit down.

I had told Jordan I was annoyed going in not only because of the two-lines situation, but then also because I had been randomly assigned seat #10 at my table. There's nothing inherently wrong with seat 10 of course, but this would mean I would be seated right next to the dealer, and typically in my experience there is less room in this seat and in seat 1 (other side of the dealer) than anywhere else at the table. So I was not looking forward to that. You would think, therefore, that when I got to the table and found that I was actually not right next to the dealer, that I would have been pleased. But no. Caesar's, who was really not fully staffed to hold this many players, had made the brilliant decision to play 11-handed tables for this tournament. I hate that. The extra hand added at each table always makes it that much tighter that you have to play in the earlygoing, and at some point it becomes too much for optimal poker play. But the worst part about it isn't that -- it's that these tables are simply not built to fit 11 people. So, as a result of Caesar's not being able to fit everyone in the two rooms they had set aside for this tournament, everyone around every single table got to be squished in between two other people, legs touching and elbows banging into each other every couple of minutes. Not cool.

Anyways, back to the donkery. The guys at my side of the table were pretty solid for the most part. One to my left (seat 11) was a guy who didn't play a single hand for the first 2 hours of the tournament, so when he did finally get in there preflop I knew to evacuate immediately unless I had a premium hand (which I didn't. At all.). Seat 1 was a guy who ended up being a complete donk. About an hour or two into the event, this guy managed to call an allin reraise on a flop of AA4 with his pocket Jacks, even though there were two players left to act after him, both of whom had raised or called the raise preflop and therefore pretty clearly had an Ace (at least one of them). So he lost about half of his stack there. Then the same player also called an allin on the flop of AJ7 from a guy who had raised it up preflop, and this time he flipped over KQs. So, here was a guy who knew the basics of preflop play, but had no clue whatsoever how the heck to get away from his decent starting hands when he didn't hit the flop, and had no respect whatsoever for an Ace coming on the flop.

The 4 seat was similar, but at least knew when to lay it down to a scare card on the flop when he had an underpair or two undercards. His problem, though, was that he was one of these any-Ace guys. He lost probably 2 or 3 thousand chips in two hands, one where he called a preflop raise with A8o, an Ace flopped, and he check-called all the way through the river before losing to AK, and the other hand the same thing happened when his A6 lost to AQ with an Ace on the flop. Pure donkery.

I tried hard to isolate against these two players, but I simply didn't have the cards this would have required since all the good players at my end of the table were all playing the exact same strategy every time the 1 seat or the 4 seat entered a pot. In fact, this strategy helped me to win what was probably one of my two biggest pots of the day, which happened when the 4 seat just limped preflop from early position. The tricky, aggressive player in seat 8 kicked it up 3x when the action got back to him, and I read him for just an isolation play such that when I looked down to find AQo, I reraised him another 4x in the hopes of chasing his ass out right then and there. It worked and I won maybe 600 chips or something early on in the tournament. That aggro player in seat 8 would bust himself about an hour later when he fired not one, not two but three bullets (the last an allin) at a board without an Ace on it, when he turned out to be holding absolutely nothing whatsoever. I used to play that way, but at this point in my poker career I recognize that as totally avoidable. I'm all about bluffing, and firing two bullets is often a requirement if you expect to be able to win pots with your bluffs. But betting it all through three rounds of bluffing after you've been called once and then again twice, and you have totally nothing, that is not sound tournament poker right there, not by a long shot.

Anyways, as far as my own performance in the tournament, let me put it this way. I lasted about 7 hours overall, so it was much better than my first WSOP experience which was at the actual WSOP last summer at the Rio where Joe Hachem runner-runnered me with a flush to knock me out near the end of the second hour. However, in 7 hours of play, I saw exactly four pocket pairs -- twice 9s and twice 5s. I won a pot with only one of those four shitty pocket pairs, and that was when I was short near the end of my run and managed to more than triple up with my pocket 9s against a clown who bet everyone else out of the pot once I was allin, with him playing A4s on a board without an Ace. I got the one AQ hand, which I won a decent pot with early, but otherwise, the best Ace I saw the whole day was A9. So, in just over 7 hours of play, I saw only two pairs 66-AA (those were the two sets of pocket 9s), and no AK, no AJ and no AT, and just the one AQ hand. So it was some pretty awful cards overall, and I had almost nothing to work with. Still, I managed to hold my own with no cards to speak of, lasting 7 hours until my shortstack allin push with A9o was called (inexplicably) by another short stack with JTs on a flop of 875. Putting side how horrendous this call was -- it's one thing to bet with two overs (one of them an Ace), but a whole other thing to call almost your entire stack with two overs Jack-high, which is hugely donkorific -- but the board then brought a 6 on the turn, giving me the straight, and then an 9 on the river, giving my donkponent the higher straight and IGH.

I don't know what place I ended in, but I would estimate probably between 600 and 700 players were left out of the field of roughly 1150 players or so. So my overall performance was pretty meh, but believe me when I say I am proud of how I played given how horrible my cardage was from start to finish in this thing. I laid good reads on players almost the entire time -- save for one hand where I pushed with pocket 9s on a K44 flop, got called by pocket Tens, and then got bailed out by the 4 on the turn and the King on the river to tie for what would have crippled me early. I didn't make any stupid moves, and I laid down a couple of blind steals to big reraises from the blinds when I had an easily-dominated hand like QTo I recall one time, and K9s I recall in another instance early on. Clearly I need to play better in these things if I expect to make a serious run at the WSOP in June, but again, with absolutely no cards to speak of, I am ok with my performance overall this weekend.

The best part of my run to AC on Saturday happened after the tournament ended, when I met up again briefly with Jordan before heading over to the Borgata and meeting up with a few other bloggers from the area. First off, this was my first time ever in the Borgata, and I was pretty impressed (although I will say that Caesar's was pretty sweet too as I think about it). But I quickly headed over to the Gypsy Bar, where I found Al and F-Train hanging out amidst several groups of hot chicks, and some very attractive bartenders to boot as they were quick to point out. I had a few Captain n Cokes with the guys and shared some nice conversation with a few guys who I don't usually get to hang with. As I recall I think F-Train had been a bit put off by something I had said about a hand I thought he had when we sat next to each other during the WPBT gathering in July 2006, and that was the only time I had ever hung out with the guy until this weekend, so it was nice to reconnect there with someone whose blog I really enjoy. I was sure to compliment F-Train on having been blogging a bit more actively than he had been previously for quite some time, and I hope he keeps that up as I always enjoy reading his poker thoughts.

And unsurprisingly as well it was great to chat with Al, who was even nice enough to show me around the Borgata poker room (very foncay btw) for my first visit there before I took off at around 9pm after a long day of pokering it up, live style. Al and I discussed a few ideas which I myself had been kicking around for a while and which hopefully will come to fruition soon, and it was of course great to throw a couple back with the man who has brought the Riverchasers poker tour as well as countless great posts -- and let's not forget the hot chicks -- to us all over the years at his blog.

Near the end of my stay at the bar, Derek came by and we chatted for a bit as well. Derek was actually the very first blogger I met at the WPBT gathering last summer, as I sat at a 1-5 spread limit holdem table in the Excalibur with some people I was sure I recognized from pictures on various blogs, and in the end I was sitting right between Derek and Zeem as I recall. Derek and I shared a few laughs while we listened to Al's friend's band really rock it up in the Gypsy Bar, and I was glad to get to chat with him for a bit before I left for the long drive back to nyc. Also, at the Borgata poker room I was glad to be able to say hi to Heather, whom I also have not spoken to since last summer's WPBT gathering, and who was very gracious to me despite my freakout a couple of weeks back. I thought that was super cool of her, as to be honest she must think I'm some kind of assidiot and I can't blame her. Heather asked how my tournament had gone at Caesar's, and generally like I said was very gracious towards me which I thought was great. If I were more of a man, I really had intended to apologize to her in person there, but at the time there was a crowd around us and they were on their way to the bar or something so it didn't seem right. But I was a fool a couple of weeks back, I admit it here for all to see, and I really appreciated her being cool to a guy who like I said she must think is some kind of a freak. I'm actually not a freak, but I have loads of respect for Heather -- not just for her game at many different variations of poker, but also for her work with the WPBT gathering last summer and at her dedication to her friends and the hard work that they were putting in to get the bloggers together like that -- and I was really glad to be able to meet up with her for just a few minutes in AC this weekend.

OK I think that's all for today. I have a lot to say about the NCAA Tournament coming up this week, but I will save that for tomorrow since I've written so much already about my trip down to AC this weekend. Let me just say here how proud I am of my Georgetown Hoyas, who not only won their first Big East regular season crown outright for the first time since the early 1990s as I recall, but also won their first Big East tournament title since 1989. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I am actually proud to be a Georgetown alum, and this is coming from a guy who was at the school for the end of Alonzo Mourning and the beginning of Allen Iverson, and believe me when I say I have been a raging Georgetown basketball fan ever since I graduated in the mid-90s. This year has been a coronation of sorts for new Hoya coach John Thompson III, and I can't describe what a perfect capper it was to my AC trip to be able to listen to the entire Big East Tournament final against Pittsburgh on my XM radio during my entire drive back up to the city. After taking a 15-point lead into the half in that game, I was sure my Hoyas would give up the inevitable run in the second half, but instead they never let Pitt make the game closer than 13 points, pushing the lead up to I think 25 at one point before ending with a 23 point victory and a huge smushing to win the coveted Big East championship. Well done to my boys in blue and grey, you have truly made me proud once again to be a Hoya fan.

Also, I saw that Miami Don is running a March Madness pool on Yahoo!, which I fully intend to join as soon as I have the chance to actually look at all the brackets, and I think it would be fun if a bunch of you donkeys joined in as well. The link is right there on Don's blog so go check that shiat out if you have the chance, and like I said I will definitely be in there picking my Hoyas to walk to the Final Four since we all know Carolina is having a down year despite them winning the weakass ACC this season.

Oh yeah, and last night I busted from the $69 buyin 9:30pm ET Bracelet Race on full tilt when my AKs ran into QQ on the second hand of the effing thing. How the phuck is it that I can never, ever win when I have pocket Queens, but nobody else can ever lose when they take QQ up against me in a big pot? Dam those biatches, they have literally been the bane of my existence for the better part of the past year, since I got what I consider to be "good" at online poker.

OK, come out to the Hoy tonight on pokerstars at 10pm ET. Password is "hammer" as always. I'm still on top of the 2007 money leaderboard for the Hoy, so come and try to dethrone me if you dare. And don't forget, win $10 extra for busting Fuel from the event if he is man enough to show up as well. See you then!

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Blogger StB said...

I am more than happy to fire all 3 bullets on a bluff to take the pot down(did it last night in the ipod tourney), but if the last one is all in and I have nothing, that is just suicide. Moronic.

11:22 PM  
Blogger F-Train said...

As I recall I think F-Train had been a bit put off by something I had said about a hand I thought he had when we sat next to each other during the WPBT gathering in July 2006

If this is truly the case, I have long, long, long since forgotten about it - and if it was about a hand, it wasn't all that important anyway.

Great to chat with you. Too bad you couldn't stick around longer. Next time.

11:33 PM  
Blogger CEMfromMD said...

Thanks again for your information on the different Braclet Race events, I was actually in the one with you last night, just at a different table. I went card dead about 20 minutes in, but lasted for 22nd when some donk called my AK all-in with a damn AJ. You know what hit on the river right?

12:05 AM  
Blogger Schaubs said...

I've been a G-town fan since junior high myself. It's always been them and Gonzaga for me. Long stories of how and when, but I've always cheered on the Hoyas for as long as I can remember. GL this year.

12:57 AM  
Blogger cracknaces said...

How does the WSOP let a $300 Event get attached to its name? The WSOP is supposed to be all about bigger buy ins right? I bet that one was a ripe donk fest for that buy in. I'd rather scratch my eyeballs with a staple then play that tournament :) How many chips did you start with and what were the blinds? I don't remember reading that in your story.

1:00 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

StB, I'm with you 100% on the three-bullets thing -- I've done that more times than I can count. But just like you said, firing that last bullet allin with what was previously a big stack, when you've got absolutely nothing and have already been called twice, is just bad bad tournament poker. Moronic, according to your comment. Well said.

1:01 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Chad, it was T$4000 and it was 50 minute blinds, so I thought was a pretty solid structure all things considered.

And as far as the $300 buyin, I'm sure this is all part of the WSOP's attempt to bring their series to the masses. And I can confirm that there were donkeys left and right in that thing. I could not believe some of the play I saw there.

1:19 AM  
Blogger Eric a.k.a. Bone Daddy said...

sorry i missed all the fun but I will have to live the moment through your post. The 1,000 plus donkey-fests are all the rage, too bad you didn't hit 1 or 2 big hands to propel you to teh finish line.

I will make it to the next one.

1:53 AM  
Blogger Irongirl01 said...

Thanks Hoy.. I am facing a similar structure at foxwoods in two weeks $300 buyin ($260 and $40) and 50 minute blinds I believe. And its gonna be against a bunch of fonkettes... Rag ace playing, flush chasing, gutshot chasing. Hee friggin Haw fonkettes...

Outwit outlast outplay...

oh and thanks for another gem to my vocabulary...." regoddamdiculous "
Absofuckinglutely Priceless


8:33 AM  
Blogger Derek McG said...

it was great to see you again hoy!

1:17 AM  

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