Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Al Rocks the Bloggas, BBT Re-Freeroll, MATH Recap and Hand Reading

What's this? Blinders final tabling an mtt? Blinders even playing in an mtt? That is good stuff, go stop by and congratulate the tight man himself for his biggest-ever online score in the 50-50 on full tilt earlier this week. If there is one thing I love reading about, it is bloggers making their biggest ever tournament scores. I wish that could happen for someone in our group every single day. Other recent career-biggest mtt scores of note include fellow New York bloggers Jordan and Sox, both on full tilt, as well as Miami Don in his recent live run at the Venetian I think it was. I love it guys, congratulations to Blinders, and keep up the good work. I hope I can join you back in that group someday soon!

Anyways, it's official: Al really can hang, and in a big way. I wrote about this yesterday, but in the end Al worked to finalize the plans for the reschedule of the BBT Freeroll after last week's server debacle, which will now be held on this coming Thursday, August 2 at 10pm ET on the off-week for Riverchasers. A big thanks to Al to greasing the skids with full tilt to get that done so quickly amidst the fallout from not one but two consecutive nights of server shutdowns over at full tilt, of which one would expect our Freeroll tournament to be surely among the lowest priorities. But more than that, Al also managed to finagle an additional token of full tilt's appreciation for the poker blogging community and what we do for them: a whopping $650 added to the prize pool to bring the total pool up to an even $2500!! This is the kind of shit that Al likes to pull out of his ass in addition to running his day job by day and his night shift at the bar / on the virtual felt in the off hours. It's amazing, really. That is basically a $2500 freeroll tournament for the 56 players in the rolls for Thursday.

And yeah, let's talk about that 56 players for a minute. To be clear, it was I who first mentioned on Monday morning to Al and Mookie that I was thinking maybe we should just include all 56 players back in the Freeroll rerun this Thursday night at 9pm ET on full tilt. That's why I posted the question yesterday here on the blog, because I had been thinking about it all weekend and was finding myself more and more moved by the arguments in favor of simply rerunning the entire field rather than just rerunning the entire field minus the 5 players who had already busted out last week. To his credit, Al, who himself had busted among the first five eliminations the first time through before the servers melted down, steadfastly declined the option that would have put him and his four donkey brethren back into the BBT Freeroll for another chance. In the end I thought it was the right way to do it, and Mookie agreed and so here we are.

Some people have written some interesting observations in light of this decision to include the 5 bustouts in the re-run from the beginning of the Freeroll. Obviously people can write and think whatever they like and I am all for openness and freedom of ideas in the blogiverse, but to be clear I won't care in the slightest if one of those five guys goes on to win the whole Freeroll. Why would I? The entire first Freeroll tournament was a no-go. As someone said in the comments yesterday, it's really just like a baseball game that gets cancelled in the 3rd inning. It doesn't matter if the score was 15-0 when the skies opened, and it doesn't matter if someone had been ejected from the game for arguing a call early on. Everyone starts it up again anew when the tournament is redone. If you think about it at the extreme I think it shows why this is slightly the most fair solution. Imagine you had just gone allin and lost in the hand before the servers crashed. You got reverse hoyed by me so you were sitting on exactly 1 chip left in your stack when the site froze up. That guy would get to start all over at 3000 starting chips, exactly even with everyone else, while the guy who had busted allin on that same hand is done. It just doesn't make sense.

If we had the capability to have full tilt just start up the Freeroll for us right where it left off last Wednesday night, with everyone having the exact stack we had at the time of the meltdown, then that would be a different story and I would be 100% in support of that option as the most fair outcome following the freeze-up. But since we have to start everyone back over at 3000 chips no matter how many chips you had won (or lost) in the first 45 minutes or so last week, to me it is just barely not as sensible to exclude the 5 bustouts as it is to include them. We're starting over. The whole thing, from scratch. Everybody in therefore makes the most sense to me. So if one of the original bustos now goes on to cash in or even win the BBT Freeroll event, I will be happy for them, just the same as I would be happy about a guy who was 0-for-3 in a rain-cancelled 4th inning game, got to come back for the makeup game and promptly went on to hit four home runs. No harm no foul with that whole thing. And before anyone goes making any assumptions about my own personal interest in this decision, I had chipped up nicely and was in 11th place out of 51 players left when the servers crashed in the first BBT Freeroll last week, so this decision actually goes against my personal interest but it is what I think is right and what I think makes the most sense to do.

So I know the solution isn't perfect. When you have a tournament voided like that, it never is. Some people had busted already, others had big stacks already. But make no mistake -- despite Donka (not to be confused with Wonka)'s comments that under full tilt's tournament cancellation policy we would have paid all the existing players out according to chip counts, in reality if you read full tilt's policy, they would have simply voided all the payouts and returned the buyins to everyone while distributing the five busted players' buyins to everyone else. So basically, if we weren't a bunch of poker writers and players that full tilt really cares about keeping happy, you wouldn't even have any choice in the matter -- in this case since we were in a freeroll tournament, we would have gotten nothing back, no payouts, nothing. Instead, we will be re-running the entire BBT Freeroll, from scratch on Thursday like we have to anyways, and to boot thanks to Al the Miracle Worker we also add another $650 to the prize pool to even it out at a cool 25 hundy. Now that is awesome. So free your schedules up on Thursday night at 10pm ET, and the 56 of you who originally qualified for the event should already be registered for the new rescheduled Freeroll in just a couple short days from now.

OK last night's Mondays at the Hoy tournament saw 26 runners, with me easily dominating the field throughout most of the second half of the event. BBT crusher Bayne even made it all the way to 14th place this week before busting, what would have been one spot short of the BBT points if we were still doing that right now. Wtg my man Bayne!

Anyways as I mentioned, at some point around the middle of this week's MATH, I took over the chip lead from my buddy jeciimd, which was helpful since I suffered two horrible bad beats when allin with at least a 2-to-1 chip lead, but thanks to that stack I was able to weather the storm and still coasted into the final table with a solid chip lead. Sadly, the poker gods would see to it that I could not hold on to cash in the event, as I suffered not one more, not two more, not three more but four more suckouts against me just at the final table, a pile of bad luck that I was just not able to overcome despite my superior play throughout this event. It happens in poker tournaments, but boy does it leave a sour taste when it does. All I know is, by the time it got down to the bubble with just four players left, I felt like I had already eliminated each of the other three remaining players at least twice, and yet there I was still stuggling to officially vanquish them. Eventually of course this recockulous string of bad beats caught up to me, as I found the dreaded JackAce in four-handed play and ended up allin preflop against jec's QQ. Especially funny there is that, after six suckouts against me over maybe a 90-minute period, and absolutely zero suckouts in my favor all night when the best luck I could muster in the whole thing was winning two preflop races to eliminate these two guys from the tournament, this AJ for me was in my small blind, and jec happened to find his QQ in the big blind. So it wasn't enough that I found AJ short-handed with four players at the table, but it was a small blind - big blind special to boot. Thanks for the love, full tilt.

Anyways, so I bubbled in fourth place after ripping up the field all night, leaving pokerbrian322 to end in 3rd place, winning $124.80 for his efforts after holding on following a huge stack in the earlygoing in this thing for his second MATH cash this month. Second place this week went to jeciimd, who made his second or third blogger cash since the end of the BBT in taking down $187.20, and who in his defense is probably the only guy of the last few left who did not suck out on me twice during the tournament. And winning this week's Hoy title is bartonf, who nabbed the $312 first prize in winning his second Hoy of the year, representing his only two cashes in this event in 2007 as well. Batronf overcame around a 3-to-2 chip deficit vs. jec when we got to heads-up play, so well done to Bartonf as well as to our other two cashers on the evening.

And here is the updated 2007 MATH moneyboard, updated including this week's results:

1. Bayne_s $1175
2. Columbo $974
3. Hoyazo $849
4. VinNay $775
5. cmitch $774
6. Iggy $745
7. NewinNov $677
8. Lucko21 $665
9. Waffles $650
10. Astin $616
11. Tripjax $561
12. Julius Goat $507
13. bartonf $492
13. mtnrider81 $492
15. PokerBrian322 $490
16. Chad $485
17. scots_chris $474
18. Fuel55 $458
19. RecessRampage $434
20. Otis $429
21. Miami Don $402
22. jeciimd $382
22. Jordan $382
24. Blinders $379
25. Pirate Wes $372
26. lightning36 $371
27. IslandBum1 $357
28. ChapelncHill $353
29. Zeem $330
30. Mike_Maloney $326
31 oossuuu754 $312
32. leftylu $295
33. Emptyman $288
33. Wigginx $288
35. ScottMc $282
36. Fishy McDonk $277
37. Irongirl $252
37. Manik79 $252
39. Wippy1313 $248
40. Byron $234
41. wwonka69 $216
42. Omega_man_99 $210
43. Pushmonkey72 $208
44. RaisingCayne $198
45. Buddydank $197
46. 23Skidoo $176
47. Santa Clauss $170
48. Iakaris $162
48. Smokkee $162
50. cemfredmd $156
50. NumbBono $156
52. lester000 $147
53. LJ $146
54. Heffmike $145
55. brdweb $143
56. DDionysus $137
57. Patchmaster $135
58. InstantTragedy $129
59. Ganton516 $114
60. Fluxer $110
61. hoops15mt $95
62. Gracie $94
62. Scurvydog $94
64. Shag0103 $84
65. crazdgamer $82
66. PhinCity $80
67. maf212 $78
68. Alceste $71
68. dbirider $71
70. Easycure $67
71. Rake Feeder $53

So there you have this week's MATH results, including three previous moneywinners cashing in again this week, and keeping our running total of total cashers in the MATH this year at 71, ranging from Rake Feeder's $53 total won to Bayne's smashing $1175 in profits, thanks mostly to his big run in the BBT.

In other news, I did request my Neteller withdrawal yesterday, at long last. As I've said here for months, I'll believe that money is coming back to me only when I actually see the balance go up in my actual bank account, and not a moment before. And I am especially happy for a guy like KOD and a dwarf like Iggy, because they are the two members of our group who have been public about having the largest amounts of funds "temporarily unavailable" during this entire Neteller mess. While I didn't exactly lose a ton of money at Neteller last year, it does represent a significant chunk of my total poker bankroll. Let's just put it this way, if I ever see that money again, it will represent substantially more than the total amount I have in all online poker sites combined right now these days. So it ain't nothing. It's something, and if we all get our moolash back, I will consider that a major coup and I am committed to doing something smart and responsible with that money. Guinness for the entire bar on me, anyone?

Before I end for the day here, I wanted to get back briefly to the question I had posed yesterday about reading what my opponent held in his hand. To refresh, I tried a "semisteal" with an open-raise from the button with KJo in a 2-4 6-max nlh cash game, and got called by just the big blind. The flop came AQ6, my opponent checked and I checked behind. The turn brought a King, giving me second pair decent kicker, and my opponent then bet out the minimum of $4 into a $28.50 pot, which I called. The river then brought a second Ace, no flush possible, and my opponent led out for $16 into the then $36.10 pot, as seen here:

and I asked what you would do, and what this guy likely has. As usual the responses ran the gamut and were I think very well thought out and instructive. To me this read was very clear so I will explain where I was coming from. I had put in a steal before the flop. When he called that steal-raise, I had to assume he might be on an Ace. When the flop came Ace-high and my opponent checked, I checked behind because his preflop call was clearly consistent with an Ace of some kind, and in most situations in my experience a player will go for the flop check-raise in that spot, which I did not want to face right now.

It was the turn bet that started really thinning out this guy's range in my head. If he did in fact have an Ace, most players I find who go for a check-raise but then are denied because their opponent checks as well, do not respond to that by underbetting on the turn. If anything they tend to overbet the turn, to try either consciously or subconsciously "make up for" the missed bet on the flop when their planned checkraise failed. At a minimum the guys who missed a checkraise opportunity on the flop will put in a "full" bet on the turn -- i.e., somewhere between half and the whole pot, depending on the exact nature and texture of the flop. This for me has been a very reliable betting pattern overall. So when this opponent came out with the post-oaky $4 bet into a $28.50 pot on the turn, I simply could not see that being any kind of Ace at all. I haven't acted particularly like I'm holding an Ace of any kind, and this guy therefore has no reason to think that any Ace is anything but ahead right now. And the minbet there on the turn, that's not to me a bet that "invites a call" as some of the commenters suggested. I mean, it is in that it's a very small, easily-callable bet, but it's too small and too obvious to call to be "inviting the call". It gets more money into the pot, but almost nothing as it only adds $4 more from my stack. In the end, that $4 turn bet stank to me of weakness, but more than that, of a guy who didn't love the Ace on the flop, but who after I checked it back to him on that flop, thought that whatever he had might be best after all. But not confidently. Just $4 worth of confidence.

So here I'm thinking he might have some kind of a medium pocket pair, or maybe a week Queen of some kind (soooted or otherwise). Then, when the second Ace hits the river, this guy now bets out $16 into a $36 pot. This to me also was not suggestive of him holding a third Ace here. I suppose from a "suck bet" perspective he could have been trying to squeeze another $16 out of me, but much like the turn bet, in the end I think the bet with trip Aces here would have been bigger than the $16 he tossed out there, which represented less than half the pot at the time. If I'm trying to do a suck bet there, I want to bust out with something maybe a little more than half the pot. Maybe $20-$25 into the $36 pot. $16 on the river, after just $4 on the turn and nothing on the flop -- if that's a guy with an Ace, then that is just about the most passively-played top pair and then rivered trips I can ever recall. To me, the $16 river bet actually seemed very consistent with me as well with my previous read. He bet small on the turn and I just called, so he did not think I had part of the Ace or King on the flop or the turn. It stands to reason that the guy holding 99 or Q8 or something similar would make that tiny turn bet and then bet out a little more on the river, thinking more that he was ahead after I elected to just call on the turn.

Given all this, I was right on top of this guy's having some kind of middling holding here, so I had to make the call with second pair and decent kicker. So make your final guesses, and down a bit is what he showed:

Booyah. Very poorly and transparently played by him IMO if you can really put yourself in his shoes and think about what specific holding(s) would have made you play the way that he did.

OK that's all for today. Tonight I am hoping to get in on some more of those FTOPS satellites as I continue to try to play my way in to Events 1, 2 and 7 (I am already in #3). Come check me out if you want to say hi, chat about the BBT Freeroll rerun, or get your ass smashed in in a $5 heads-up nlh sng.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, July 30, 2007

MATH Pimp, and Fun With Cash Hands

OOOooh boy, another glorious Monday. Hah. Seriously though, it has been so long since I had a day like Sunday at the cash tables. Far too long. Sunday night I won more than three buyins at 2-4 nl, which is my biggest one-day score in over two months and my first really solid set of multiple sessions in probably half that time. After a ho-hum weekend at the full tilt cash tables -- and a failed attempt for a quickie trip to the Borgata for some live poker action on Saturday night -- I was a monster on Sunday. I kept the pots small when I was weak, I got people to call big bets when I was big, and I hit some effing cards in key spots. I won about a full buyin when I made a surprisingly nut flush on the river with my Q♠. I won another when I managed to flop top two and turn a boat. I got people to call my river value bets on five or six occasions over a a few tables over a few hours.

And the best part about my cash game play last night? I didn't make a single major mistake, which again is the first night I can honestly say that in quite some time. I've had plenty of up nights recently, but not totally major mistake-free ones. Over probably a thousand hands of poker on the session overall, I never lost a pot worth more than about a quarter-buyin or so. I won several that big, but I never lost one. If that ain't the key to playing profitable poker, I don't know what is. Win lots of big pots but only lose small ones. Wtg me.

Btw the actual best part about my play on Sunday was the 4-for-4 I went with pocket Aces. This brings my total since I started using pokertracker to 41 wins in 41 times dealt pocket Aces. Average pot size is still over $85 won per time dealt the best starting hand in holdem. And keep in mind, this is over 13,500 hands, meaning that I should have been dealt pocket Aces my 1/221 of the time, representing 61 times I should have been dealt pocket Aces over this stretch. I have gotten them 41 times. I guess my other twenty went straight over to this guy. Probably all of them in the first hour of the MATH or some blonkament like that.

Poker gods come smite me now.

Speaking of smiting poker gods, don't forget tonight is the latest Mondays at the Hoy tournament on full tilt!

10pm ET tonight, under the "Tournaments" tab, then under the "Private" tab. Password as always is "hammer". Please be there to call my preflop allin with J9s so that more people can leave me comments suggesting that I would ever call an allin with J9s and then defend it on the blog. Ahhh, guys on losing streaks using my blog to work out their frustrations. You gotta love the freedom of the blogiverse.

Before I forget, I understand that Neteller is officially accepting withdrawal requests again for those of us with money still trapped there after a prolonged period of inaccessibility. My suggestions are (1) get in there as quickly as possible and make your withdrawl requests, and (2) I'm still not expecting to ever see that money again until I actually have it in my hands.

Also, a quick question I wanted to poll the readers on. So we're about to reschedule the full tilt freeroll again after last week's server issues froze the event with 51 players left out of 56 runners about 45 minutes in. Now we're going to rerun the thing one day soon. What is everyone's view about including or excluding the 5 people who had busted out in the rerun of the freeroll on full tilt? Do we start it up with all 56 players again and just take a no harm no foul approach? Or do we rerun it with just the 51 players starting fresh who were still alive at the time of the outage last week? Leave your thoughts in the comments if you feel strongly one way or the other.

Oh yeah, it's been a full week and now two weekends since the final installment of the Harry Potter series came out, so I assume most of the hardcore among you have already finished the story by now, making it ok for me to at least mention here. I am determined not to give away any spoilers of any real value here, but if you can't take the possibility then you can skip ahead to the next paragraph. Anyways, all I will say here is this: I really enjoyed the book. I loved it even, just like I've loved all of them. This shit is like Lays potatio chips, really, or kind of like when you're flipping channels and suddenly find that Shawshank Redemption is running on USA again -- once you pick it up I challenge anyone to just put it down. I could not stop reading the book, just like with all the Harry Potter books, and I really give credit to J.K. Rowling for creating this really amazing and interesting story out of her own head like she did. FWIW, I did think the final climax of the book, the final confrontation, was a bit anti-climactic, but then that is probably more or less always the case whenever you end a story as epic as this tale has been. But the shit is great, there is just no two ways about it. If you're interested, don't believe any of the shit you read out there on the Internets -- I myself heard lots of negative stuff from the initial reviewers on the first day or two. The book was incredible, just as good as all the others, and it made for a great ending to truly one of the most awesome stories of my lifetime. I've spent what, the better part of 15 years of my life reading these books, and talk about time well spent. Rowling is my MVP of the summer as far as I'm concerned.

Anyways, back to some poker, here was a fun hand which I think is a good exercise in hand reading skills. We're playing 6-max holdem cash with 2-4 blinds and a $400 max buyin on full tilt. I've got KJo on the button and the action folds around to me preflop. I put in the standard pot-sized semi-steal-raise to $14, and just the big blind calls my bet for an additional $10 into what becomes a $20 pot. The flop comes 6AQ with two clubs. My opponent checks the flop, and I check it right back after a few seconds pause.

The turn brings an offsuit King, giving me 2nd pair decent kicker. This time my opponent leads out small:

This bet seems a bit post-oaky to me, and in any event I have 2nd pair decent kicker so I'm not laying down to a minbet. I call. The river then brings a second Ace, and my opponent bets out a bit more this time:

This card doesn't actually hurt me since it is offsuit and therefore I am still behind now if I was already behind before the river, and I am still ahead now if I was already ahead before the river card. So do you call here? Who is folding? Anybody raising in this spot?

See you tonight for Mondays at the Hoy on full tilt! Newcomers welcome!!

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, July 27, 2007

Riverchasers and FTOPS Update

Man that Riverchasers is something special. It really is. It's funny how the different "blogger tournaments" (not that RC is really a blogger event, but you know what I mean) each kinda have their own persona as far as the kind of play you see in them. I mean, they're all basically the same, don't get me wrong, but there are little variations that you do notice if you play them all all the time like I do. Anyways, last night I had my average-sized stack depleted when I had my preflop allin with two high cards called by a guy with J9s, who was below average but still had probably an M of 8 or so, which for just past halfway through a blonkament is nothing to worry about. Of course he hit -- a Jack on the turn or something -- and most of my stack was shipped over to his. Then my allin preflop with AK was called by the same player with A5, and the 5 on the flop officially eliminated me from the tournament, out in 21st place out of 47 runners on the night*.

The highlight of all this was the chat after the first hand, where the other player told me after the ridiculous call preflop with J9s and then the dumb luckout that he "had to" call my allin there. With an M of 8. And J9. Soooooooted donk. Had to call. This is just all the more proof that bloggers, as a group, simply do not understand the meaning of "priced in" or "having odds". In some situations some people do, but as a rule the people you run into in these events love to make dumb calls on big stacks or on small stacks, just for the sake of trying to eliminate somebody. I can't count how many times I've seen this happen, even with people who some people think are pretty good poker players. I mean, this guy had to call my allin with J9s and an M of 8 like he had to run Kings into Aces. That is terrible man. And I just love it when they justify the bad plays afterwards. I suck out on someone, the only way I justify it is if I'm trying to tilt them with chat like the ones this guy posts about. It never ceases to amaze me how some people can play a game while having so little knowledge or understanding of what's going on around them. I had to. Uh huh.

Anyways, other than Riverchasers, let me just say that I am running hot hot hot these last few days. I've been winning some at the cash tables -- though I will brazenly admit to winning two big pots on suckouts over the past few days -- but my tournament game is through the roof. I know I usually have some people lingering in and out of chat whenever I'm playing, so for any of you out there who've been observing my mtt's over the past couple of days, you have been treated to a real experience. Have I been on fire or what? Other than the Riverchasers (congrats btw to Drizz for taking that badboy down...keep the trophy warm for me for two weeks please willya?), I think I have cashed in something like 6 of my last 7 mtt's played on full tilt. I guess a few of those might have been sng's, I don't really remember. But I've been hitting the FTOPS satellies and super satellites hard this week as I try to qualify for the four FTOPS events I am interested in playing this year: Event 1 ($200 nlh), Event 2 ($200 HORSE), Event 3 ($200 plh) and Event 7 ($1000 6-max nlh). There are other events I would play if it falls into my lap so to speak, but I would probably not buy in to any events other than #s 1 through 3 above (no way I pay $1000 to buy in to Event #7, even though I believe I have the skill to run deep in that tournament).

I really haven't seen much of anything on satellites for the HORSE FTOPS Event #2 yet, so that one is out of the picture for now, but last night I played in the $24 buyin pot-limit satellite somewhere around 10pm ET nightly on full tilt, and I was on fire. Every bluff, they folded. Every big hand, they paid off. I was spreading the punishment all around the table pretty evenly, and in the end I went into heads-up play, with each of the final two winning FTOPS #3 seats, with me as over a 3-to-1 chip leader. We played it out for pride:

For the record, I have played in the plh FTOPS event in each of the past four FTOPS series, and I have cashed in the event twice. So I know how to play this game, as compared to straight-up no-limit holdem. In the end I definitely do not find plh as fun or exciting as nlh, but I understand the differences between the two -- which amount in the end to playing a bit more of the types of hands in plh that can nail big flops hard but be gotten away easily from on the flop if they miss. I'm talking about hands like sooted connectors, Axs, things like that. Of course you still play the big pairs as well, but unlike in nlh where you can push hard preflop with a hand like pocket 5s or something if you like, in plh you can't really push that hard preflop most of the time. So you can see flops for cheaper, and then get away from them cheaper on the flop if you miss, so plh is a game more tailored to playing those kinds of hands than is pure nlh. Anyways, so I'm in to FTOPS Event #3 in plh.

In each of the last two nights I have also won a buyin in a supersatellite to play in a satellite shortly before FTOPS Event #7. On Wednesday I won my way into a $50 supersatellite running on Sunday night, the night before Event #7, which awards I think a minimum of 25 seats into Monday night's $1000 buyin FTOPS 6-max nlh tournament. That was a nice win but in the end, it only awarded a $50 buyin, and with as willing as I am to buy in directly to the 5050 any night I want, I would surely have bought into that satellite anyways so that's no big deal. But then last night I also won my buyin in an $8 rebuy supersatellite to the $200 satellite to be held on Monday night at 6:30pm ET, the night of Event #7, that will award a minimum of 100 seats into that night's FTOPS #7 tournament. So now I will be playing in two satellites to Event #7, which as I said a few days ago when I discussed my FTOPS V plans, is about as close as I'm gonna get to satelliting in to that tournament. At a $1000 buyin, for me to win a $50 megasatellite entry and a $200 megasatellite entry is as good as I'm gonna do, so I have basically reached my objective with that event as well. Lastly, I also won earlier this week a supersatellite into FTOPS Event #1 in $200 nlh. That was another supersat into a $50 megasatellite that will award 25 seats to Event #1 and will run on Thursday night, the night before the FTOPS begins in early August.

So for right now, my objectives are clear: I want to keep trying to satellite directly in to Event #1, in which case I will be playing my satellite for cash only. I will wait until full tilt starts running HORSE satellites into Event #2, and I bet I can get my boy jeciimd to play as many of those with me as I want. Hopefully I sneak into that HORSE event, although between you and me I don't really want to play in that event either. I mean, I will play in it, but in the end I haven't played even the $200 weekly HORSE mtt in months. I haven't even tried to get into it in months. I just don't enjoy playing limit HORSE games nearly as much as I once did. I tend to find the play just too chasey and too fishy, even at the $200 buyin level. Chasing drives me nuts most nights, and probably 9 times out of 10 these days whenever I sit down to play HORSE, I am tilted within literally ten minutes. It's sad, really. So I'll try to get in there and play, but if I don't win my buyin I may not buy in directly to that event either. But I look foward to tiltmonkeying in a few of those satellites as soon as full tilt starts running 'em in the evenings.

Otherwise, maybe I will hit up that 5050 again for the first time in a while tonight. I had kinda sworn off playing the 5050 for this week, since it starts at 9:30pm ET every night which lately is smack dab in the middle of all of the FTOPS satellites and supersats I've been focusing on. Last night, for the first time in my poker career, I simultaneously played in five tournaments at the same time over the span of an hour. And this all on one monitor, a laptop monitor at that, with all five windows overlapping majorly. I won a few seats as I've mentioned, plus this also happened, somewhat of a rarity for me these days:

I have also cashed, as in winning money instead of a seat, in two other tournaments in the past couple of nights, so overall it has been a very successful and profitable week for me at the virtual tables. And more than that, I feel like I am at the top fo my game right now. I might play in Kat's $1 rebuy donkament tonight, but if possible I am hoping to spend the night with my wife and maybe watch a movie or something before I log on, if at all. Either way, I will be looking for some more FTOPS satellite action this weekend, so look for me if you're around. And I'm still willing to take on all comers in a low-buyin heads-up match as well if anyone is interested.

*I admit up front that most of this story is made-up. So don't be the digghead posting that I got the hand history wrong, anuses. Just take this for what it is, a completely fictional account of a hand that in real life I butchered so I am trying to glorify by embellishing here. Thank you and goodnight.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, July 26, 2007

BBT Freeroll Suspended!!

Ahh yes. The wonders of technology.

I would love to tell you guys what went wrong with full tilt last night. For those of you who don't know, shortly before 11pm ET on Wednesday, full tilt experienced what they first reported in system broadcast messages as "traffic problems", although the traffic Wednesday night as reported in the full tilt lobby was not actually significantly different from other nights on the site. Well, over the next hour we got probably ten different system messages, each popping up in its own window, advising us that the servers were experiencing technical difficulties and would not be back for at least 5 minutes or so. Finally after about 40 minutes, we get a window message that tournaments will resume in three minutes. Then in two minutes. Then in one minute. Then nothing. And nothing. And some more nothing.

It was maybe 20 minutes later, with no activity and no updates at all, that full tilt finally threw in the towel, announcing systemwide that they would be voiding all tournaments per their tournament cancellation policy. Buddydank Radio was a great source of mass information as well as kickass music -- ironically Buddy had just cranked up my a propos request of "We're Not Gonna Take It" when the final shutdown message popped up on all of our screens. Many of the players had already been frozen out of their full tilt accounts for most of the past hour, but that message was the official end. The BBT Freeroll had been voided out.

Now, more than one blogger commented to me in the girly chat or text messages while all this was going on as well as after the official voiding about how sad it was that the BBT Freeroll is cancelled. And I know from my own previous experiences with full tilt's server crashing at inopportune times for me (and btw it sucks for Mike Maloney who was top-20 a few hours in to the 24k at the time of the blowup) that full tilt's official tournament cancellation policy -- which I would link you to right here if my dorkwork didn't block all access to the entirety of the full tilt website -- provides that any tournament started but not yet into the money will be voided and canceled entirely, with the players' buyins being returned to them but that is all, regardless of how players were doing at the time of the suspension of play or how many people were still alive. It is a frustrating policy for just about anyone who is alive a few hours into a big tournament, or really in any tournament, but who was not yet reached the money positions in that event. But that's their policy, and they're sticking to it.

Fortunately, I do not at all expect the bloggers and the BBT Freeroll to be subject to that policy. I haven't talked to full tilt at all about this, and in fact I don't know the least bit about what's going on with them right now, other than to say that I'm sure they are focused on much more significant things that our BBT Freeroll and giving us back $1850 of money that they could have kept from us all along. But I do know one thing:

Al is on the case.

For those of you who haven't figured this out yet, Al is The Man. He is like Red in The Shawshank Redemption -- the guy who can get stuff. Only in his case, he is the guy who can get stuff done. I know Al was in contact with full tilt shortly after our tournament went down about 45 or 50 minutes into the action, but again at that time they had to be far more focused on their getting their infrastructure back up and running, and then on their larger, actual buyin tournaments at the time than ours. But I know one other thing about the situation, which is that full tilt is very, very pleased with the whole BBT idea. I know several people have commented that they doubt full tilt would be willing to give us back our rake again. Based on what I understand the situation to be, I think those commenters are wrong. There is a nice advantage to full tilt to having a bunch of us writing about their site and talking about our play there and some of our big scores there, as well as our weekly competitions there. Not to mention all the extra play from all the bloggers that the site has garnered as a result of the BBT. The BBT has been very very good to full tilt so far, I think happily worth $3600 in returned rake fees, and they have made that clear to us in communications with the organizers of the tournaments that have made up the BBT this year.

Anyways, all of that is just a longer way of saying that I know Al is on the job, and I know that full tilt likes us and is actually, contrary to some belief out there, really excited about the BBT Freeroll and about giving this money back to us. Now, I doubt they are so into the coverage they will likely get on Thursday across the blogosphere, but I have absolutely no doubt that our freeroll will not be voided and canceled forever in accordance with some general tournament policy applicable to "the masses". We are bloggers, we are ghey, and full tilt will reschedule this bad boy via Al for whenever we want it to be.

The only sad part about this really, other than the hour of me sitting around like a fonkey actually believing every "5 more minutes" message from full tilt, is that I fear when they reschedule the Freeroll, the 5 players out of 56 who were already eliminated when the shit went down will be reinstated and given another chance to grab some money. That I'm not so into, but what can ya do. Ideally they would reinstate our tournament exactly where it left off at the exact time of the meltdown, but I highly doubt they would have the capability and/or the willingness to do that. Either way I won't really care, although fonkeyboy was the first one out, on the very first hand actually thanks to BBT organizer Al himself when as I understand it he was unable to get away from a high pocket pair despite a preflop raise and an Ace flopping. Nice move, and not something I am thrilled about seeing washed away thanks to a technical glitch at full tilt, but if we need another chance to see Waffles bust anew, there are worse things.

Anyways, thanks to everyone for showing up and again for all your interest in the BBT and in the Freeroll. You can look for updates on the rescheduling of the Freeroll right here or I'm sure on Al's blog. I was in 11th place out of 51 remaining at the time full tilt went down btw, just in case they can pick it up right where we left off.

See you tonight (hopefully!) for Riverchasers, which is at 9pm ET, password of "riverchasers". I own that biatch of a tournament. Me and Dabag. Just don't bring me no 12-year-olds and I have that under control.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Hand Analysis Continued, and The Freeroll

Well guys, tonight is really a special night to me poker-wise. A lot has been said and written about the BBT, the three-month blogger poker tournament series that concluded its official schedule on Sunday, July 1. But from the beginning, one the key aspects -- in fact, in my view probably the key aspect behind the success of the BBT this year was the BBT Freeroll tournament at the end of the challenge, which would be an invitiational tournament open only to the top-ranked players and those who participated in a majority of the events. In the end as I have written about in the past, the BBT proved to surpass our expectations in terms of participation, and as a result we ended up with something around $3600 in the BBT coffers by the end of the three months, $1800 of which will be up for grabs in tonight's series-ending BBT Freeroll.

I think I mentioned this once before, but one of the coolest things about tonight's Freeroll is the payout structure that Al had set up. To Al doing this kind of thing is probably easy peasy but as with the rest of us I am continually amazed at this guy's ability to Get Shit Done, even where others -- myself included -- are completely lost. But Al talked to full tilt and got them to agree to a very flat payout structure, enabling us to pay out the top 12 finishers out of the 56 players running tonight. My guess is at least one or two of you donkeys won't show up to play tonight, you'll forget about it, you'll work late, be out of town something like that. So basically, all you got to do tonight to make some free cashish is finish in about the top 22% of the field. Payouts start I think around $50 for the bottom few finishers starting with #12, and they escalate to a number solidly in the $400s for first prize, which is basically at the top the same prize pool as Mondays at the Hoy usually gets, if you want to think about it that way. So tonight, for all you guys who helped make the BBT fun and exciting and special and interesting to hudnreds and hundreds of blog readers and poker players out there, you are getting the equivalent of a free buyin to a 56-person MATH, but one that pays out more spots at the bottom and the same amounts at the top.

In the end, winning the BBT Freeroll and the $400-something first prize will be about more than the money. To me anyways. I would love to win the freeroll because, to a large extent, it contains most of the best poker skill among our group, as measured over a 3-month and 20+-tournament period. I will be expecting the play to be -- cough cough -- a bit -- ahem -- better than in your typical blonkament. Just a little maybe? Please? Ok well we all do what we can. Anyways in a way I do view tonight as a good chance for someone or a group of people to make a statement and walk away with a nice free cash prize to boot. I'm looking forward to tonight's BBT Freeroll, which again is only open to the 56 bloggers and players who were in the BBT Leaderboard top 50 or participated in at least 20 of the BBT tournaments this year. $1800 up for grabs, for free, tonight at 10pm ET on full tilt poker. This is in place of the regular Mookie tournament, a slot Mookie was gracious enough to give up for the evening so the BBT Freeroll could take place at the time when the biggest group of bloggers regularly get together already anyways at full tilt. So it's 10pm ET on full tilt, and no registration or password is required for you -- if you played your way in, then you have already been auto-registered and all you need to do is have your pretty little selves there at the pc at 10pm ET tonight for the slugfest to begin.

Before I get to the continuation from yesterday's hand analysis post, I wanted to say one thing in response to Blinders' recent run of posts in response to my restealing posts from the last week or two. Blinders' basic contention in his follow-up posts is that while restealing may have its (+EV) place late in tournaments, in general restealing in cash games is -EV. He then goes on to provide an incredible amount of detailed mathematics -- which for once I get to be the one to say about someone else's blog that I didn't read all the way through -- and it seems that a lot of people are questioning the conclusion. While I think the detail is probably best left for another discussion, maybe a future blog discussion even, let me just say for the record that I agree 100% with Blinders' assertion. I don't usually resteal in cash games -- I do it for sure, but not nearly as often as I do late in large mtts, because the most attractive thing that makes a resteal so great to pull off is the blinds and antes that go along with restealing another player's preflop steal-raise. By the end of the big tournaments, those blinds and antes are really effing big in relation to the stacks and the tournament average chipstack, and that's the thing that really makes restealing (just plain stealing too, for that matter) so attractive -- so necessary, really -- late in large tournaments. There is just not corresponding situation at the cash tables. So while I do naked resteals with some frequency in my cash game play, it is only where I feel I have a really good read and where I feel the need to show a particular player that he can't just steal-raise me with abandon. Remember, I play 6-max nlh when I play cash, and in that game on-line it is absolutely customary for the button to pot-steal (my term for stealing with a pot-sized raise, which is the standard raise at all the 6-max tables before the flop) if the action folds around to him. But Blinders, I feel ya brotha! The naked resteal in cash games is probably going to be -EV over time for all but the very best players out there, period. Nicely done.

OK, on to yesterday's hand analysis questions. First of all, that was some of the best slate of comments I've seen to a poker post in a long time, so thank you guys for that. There was a lot of disagreement, more than we usually get I think, on some of the basic points of playing this hand on both the flop and the turn, so I will take some time and go through my thoughts here. To refresh everyone's memory, I saw a 4-person flop with 88 after all four players were in for one preflop raise, and the board of 864, all spades (obviously I had no spades, for those of you who have not used playing cards too many times). Top set, but no part of the flush draw and four players in the pot. I ended up checking and calling a $40 bet into what would be a $173 pot to see a 3-way turn card. It came an offsuit King, and again the first player checked to me. I opted to check again, and the player after me led out again, this time for $140 into the $173 pot. The first player folded, leaving me here at this point as we start today's post:

Before we get to what to do now, I want to go back to my play on the flop, which really goes back to my own personal experiences over hundreds of thousands of hands of poker in my life. In general, over time I have had the best success playing against 3-suited boards very slowly on the flop if there is not a realistic expectation of pushing everyone out with a flop bet. And it's funny, because I actually think I came to this realization from playing Omaha. In Omaha, because of the four hole cards for every player, it is rare for someone to ever fold a big Omaha draw on the flop, no matter how big the betting gets. As a result, when I flop a hand like top set in Omaha against a flop with a high straight draw and a flush draw, I tend not to bet on the flop in that spot. The draws aren't going away anyways, and therefore you can get out cheaper if a draw fills on the turn, or more effectively price out the drawers by betting with just one card left once the turn card is already out. This is consistent with several well-known Omaha writers' and authors' strategy for playing these kinds of hands, and it is something I have adapted a bit to my holdem game as well.

In the spot I was in in this hand, flopping top set on a connecting and three-suited flop, I like the flop check, with the intention of seeing a cheap turn card. Obviously there is nothing wrong with betting out here, though I think if you bet you have to put in a big bet -- I'm thinking of around the size of the pot, given the ease with with someone can have a playable draw on this particular flop. A small bet will for sure entice callers, and with so many draws that can beat my set I do not see it as good poker to throw in a pot sweetener in this particular situation. That said, a large (pot-sized) bet makes some good sense to me here, but unless you're willing to fold to an allin push from any kind of a large stack, I think this can commit me to the hand where I have to admit I have lost to the flopped flush or flopped straight on many occasions, sadly.

That's why I like the check better here. With four players in this pot, the odds that at least one of them has a high spade seemed, to me, to be very good since they are likely playing high cards having all called a preflop raise. I also figured that the odds were pretty good that at least one of the four players in this hand had at least an inside straight draw if not an open-ender with a hand like 97s. Any spade, any 2, 5, 7 or Ten and I may be running a very costly set into a made straight or flush. That is 21 cards that I will not be happy facing an allin bet with if they fall on the turn. That's over 40% right there to hit on the turn, and if I get it allin on the flop then I have to see both the turn and the river and face potentially 21 bad cards twice. With the four players in this pot, this situation seems to lend itself more towards the flop check for the same reasons as in the Omaha situation to me. Cmitch commented that this seemed like a contradictory position, but I don't see it that way. To me, with three other players, one of them will have a primary flush draw that they believe will win them a 4-way raised (i.e., eventually big) pot, and the other probably has some form of straight draw along with something else going maybe. I do not believe that even a near-pot-sized bet will chase everyone out of this pot, just like in the Omaha context. So, just like in the Omaha context, since I likely cannot win this pot on the flop even with a bet and since there are a whole lot of turn cards that will make my hand very difficult and uncomfortable (and potentially unprofitable) to play on the turn, for me I have had the most success in this spot by checking and trying to see the turn as cheaply as possible.

In the end, I was perfectly fine with the way this went down. If I had bet out, the player to my left might well have raised (he did bet both the flop and the turn, after all), and then what? Then I'm going to be forced to call allin for an entire stack of bills on the flop with a whole mess of outs to fade. No thanks. I've lost in this kind of situation making a play like that more times than I can count. Yes I might be better than 50-50 to win that allin confrontation, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is the best play available to me. I still prefer the option of waiting until the turn to make my move, when I actually have some good fold equity by making a big bet, because by that time all those 34% draws on the flop will have turned into 18% draws on the river, chances which I can easily price anyone else at the table out of playing for just one more card.

To be clear, and I've written about this many times on the blog, but if there had been just one or two opponents with me when I make top set on this connecting, suited flop, I would be much more likely (though still not sure) to bet out to try to price out the draws. What I'm going for in that spot is taking the pot down immediately. I do not want to slow-play even top set on the connecting, all-suited flop against just one or two opponents when the odds are much better that my opponent does not have enough of a piece of this board to call. But with 3 other players in there for a raise already in this situation, the odds have increased dramatically that at least one of these guys is going to call any reasonable bet I come up with on that flop, in which case I think I'd rather keep most of my money still behind until I see a turn card and can re-evaluate from there.

OK so that was my line on the flop -- the check with the intention of seeing a cheap turn. Now when the turn came an offsuit, non-straightening King, and the action checked around to me, my intention changed entirely. Whereas on the flop I checked with the intention of seeing a cheap card, on the turn I checked with the intent of checkraising. At that point in the hand, many of the commenters felt I should have bet out solidly on the turn, chasing out those draws with what is more likely to be the best hand. While like on the flop I think betting out here is a fine move, I like the check-to-checkraise more, for two main reasons:

First, the cutoff bet out on this suited, straightening flop, showing strength into a board replete with easy draws. That to me means one of two things, either he has a strong hand (could be made straight or flush, a set, set plus a draw, two pairs, etc. or maybe a primary draw), or he has a vulnerable hand that he wants to find out if it is best. This could be an overpair, or top pair good kicker, something like that, maybe a low two pairs. Given that information I have gleaned from my opponent's bet on the flop, I think I can really refine that information if I can see him bet here on the turn before I make any big commitments. If I bet into this $173 pot, it's going to have to be a big bet, and basically both of us will be pot committed if anyone shows any more interest at all in this pot. But if I check here, this guy will either (1) check -- probably meaning that he missed his draw, or maybe had an overpair to the flop but one that is lower than Kings and now he fears AK, or something like that, or (2) bet -- and from the nature of his bet I should be able to tell whether he is trying to buy a relatively cheap river card or whether he is trying to price out the still many draws with some kind of a strong hand.

And so I checked it here, again intending all along to go for the checkraise if the guy to my left bet. This move carries some risk, don't get me wrong, but with that risk comes the reward of possibly reading from his turn action that he might have flopped the flush or the straight, and what's more, from his flop bet I figured the odds were fairly high that he would in fact bet on that turn card. So why not check and get a little more information in this spot, before I (probably) commit my entire stack on a checkraise now where no opponent could possibly be getting the right odds to chase whatever they are playing for on the river.

When my opponent bet out $140 into the $173 pot, my mind was basically made up. I think Blinders said it best in his comment although a few of the commenters did make this point -- that size bet is not typically one that would be made by a made straight, and almost certainly not by a made flush, given that offsuit turn King♥. A guy with that hand -- that at this point he would basically have to believe is well ahead of any other likely holding given the action so far -- would probably bet out on the turn here, but not that big. Yes a tricky multi-level-thinking player might put us on this read and therefore make the largeish bet, but generally speaking $140 into a $173 pot on the turn is not the best of the flopflush or the flopstraight here. The flush would want to bet less, maybe $80 or $90 into this pot, to try to induce a lesser hand to call or maybe even raise what appears to be a weak bet. The straight might bet more towards the high side there, to apply solid pressure to the flush chasing hand, but remember even $90 into a $173 pot doesn't give near enough odds for a normal primary draw to chase in this spot. So when this guy bet out $140 into the $173 pot, I felt I had gotten all the information I needed, and now with just one card to come I was comfortable ending the hand right here, or eliciting a call from a worse hand:

"I'm all-in baby!" And what I like most about the way I played this hand was that I ended up getting my opponent to commit their entire stack with a hand I figured was almost surely behind mine, and yet I managed to avoid committing a big portion of my stack until after I had seen the turn card and got a good read from my opponent that he did not hold one of the two hands I was most afraid of in this spot. To me this is a far preferable outcome to getting it allin against a guy willing to call off a full buyin on a straightening, 3-flushed flop, where at the time my odds of winning were probably fairly close to 50% or so one way or the other. And yes that was the most pathetic, least thought-out math estimate I have ever used here in the blog. And I'm sticking with it.

Anyways, the guy called my allin checkraise here after thinking for maybe 3 or 4 seconds. You wanna guess what he had? So after all the betting out on the flop on a scary board, then betting out big again on the turn, he called my allin checkraise on that turn card on a board of 468K with three spades. What do you think he had here? Formulate your guesses, and then I will skip down some room and show you the exposed cards.

Blimmitty Blam!! Set over set baybeee, and no not the pocket Kings that would have crushed me, and obviously no spade over there either. And for once in my fricking life at the cash tables my opponent did not hit his one-outer on the river, sending an $857 pot my way and putting a nice cap on what has been another nice little run from me at the 2-4 6-max tables again lately on full tilt.

I would love to know your thoughts on how I explained my strategy for this hand, should you have any.

And I'll see you lucky 56 people tonight at the BBT Freeroll at 10pm ET on full tilt! Long live Buddydank Radio!!

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

MATH Recap, and Hand Analysis Question

33 players at the Hoy on Monday night, another big turnout to start the week. And included in the mix were at least two first-timers, RaisingCayne and hoops15mt. I told Cayne early on in the chat, and in fact even before the tournament in a comment here from Monday afternoon, that I thought he had a good shot in his first showing in this tournament, and in the end I got to watch him from the earlygoing and got to see Cayne slowly but surely growing his stack as he edged ever closer to the elusive MATH final table. Me, meanwhile, I ran JJ into TT, which promptly gave way to a (2-outer) Ten-high flop, and the rest was history as they say. Not my best play ever given that I had pocket Jacks -- only slightly more profitable for me over time in nlh tournaments than its bastard cousin the JackAce -- but a hard one to get away from the way it unfolded.

As far as the cashers this week go, as you may have noticed, at Mondays at the Hoy we have experienced a lot of beginners luck, with first-time MATH players taking down the entire tournament on at least four separate occasions during 2007 alone. And this week's tournament did not disappoint on this front either, as hoops15mt ended the day in 4th place, cashing for $95.04 in his first ever Hoy tournament. In third place was Irongirl, earning $142.56 for her efforts as Iron made it to her third consecutive final table. And the beginners luck theme continued with this week's 2nd place finisher, as Cayne busted out with a big stack early, added to it and at various points held a slight chip lead when down to three- and four-handed, but in the end Cayne fell victim to some very bad luck when heads-up (and earlier at that final table) and ended the night in 2nd place, winning $198 in what was also his first ever attempt at Mondays at the Hoy.

And who was the man, the myth among all bloggers, who managed to Bayne time and time again with lucky flops, turns and river cards on his way to victory last night? It was none other than Waffles, fresh back from World of Dorkcraft fixation to slide into his first MATH in weeks and take the whole thing down. Waffles has a nice writeup of his performance this week on his blog, so go check that out. All I will say is that the final hand saw Waffles get allin on the flop with nothing more than an inside straight, and then hitting his 3-outer on the river to take down the weekly title and the $356.40 first prize from his heads-up opponent in Cayne.

And here is the updated 2007 MATH moneyboard including this week's exciting action:

1. Bayne_s $1175
2. Columbo $974
3. Hoyazo $849
4. VinNay $775
5. cmitch $774
6. Iggy $745
7. NewinNov $677
8. Lucko21 $665
9. Waffles $650
10. Astin $616
11. Tripjax $561
12. Julius Goat $507
13. mtnrider81 $492
14. Chad $485
15. scots_chris $474
16. Fuel55 $458
17. RecessRampage $434
18. Otis $429
19. Miami Don $402
20. Jordan $382
21. Blinders $379
22. Pirate Wes $372
23. lightning36 $371
24. PokerBrian322 $365
25. IslandBum1 $357
26. ChapelncHill $353
27. Zeem $330
28. Mike_Maloney $326
29 oossuuu754 $312
30. leftylu $295
31. Emptyman $288
31. Wigginx $288
33. ScottMc $282
34. Fishy McDonk $277
35. Irongirl $252
35. Manik79 $252
37. Wippy1313 $248
38. Byron $234
39. wwonka69 $216
40. Omega_man_99 $210
41. Pushmonkey72 $208
42. RaisingCayne $198
43. Buddydank $197
44. jeciimd $195
45. bartonfa $180
46. 23Skidoo $176
47. Santa Clauss $170
48. Iakaris $162
48. Smokkee $162
50. cemfredmd $156
50. NumbBono $156
52. lester000 $147
53. LJ $146
54. Heffmike $145
55. brdweb $143
56. DDionysus $137
57. Patchmaster $135
58. InstantTragedy $129
59. Ganton516 $114
60. Fluxer $110
61. hoops15mt $95
62. Gracie $94
62. Scurvydog $94
64. Shag0103 $84
65. crazdgamer $82
66. PhinCity $80
67. maf212 $78
68. Alceste $71
69. dbirider $71
70. Easycure $67
71. Rake Feeder $53

So there you have it. 71 players have now cashed at least one time in the weekly Monday night MATH tournament, including again this week's two first-time entries onto the moneyboard in hoops15mt and RaisingCayne. And congratulations to Waffles for not only winning it all for the second time this year, but for climbing into the top 10 on the 2007 moneyboard with the performance as well. I look forward to another fun time next Monday night at Mondays at the Hoy on full tilt.

Alas I bubbled in the Avatar Race satellite for the second straight time last night. I have had a lot of mtt satellite bubbles recently, and it is really pissing me off. At least I did manage to win my way last night into the $50 super satellite to FTOPS Event #7. That is that juicy $1000 buyin 6-max nlh event on Monday August 13, and the sattellite I am not registered for is at 9:30pm the night before the big event. At only $50 a pop, this is not much of a satellite in that seats to FTOPS #7 will only be awarded to one out of every twenty players in the satellite, and frankly if I had really understood that I was playing a low-dollar rebuy super satellite into a satellite that itself only had a $50 direct buyin I might not have played it at all, but at this point I am happy to be in on at least something related to the upcoming FTOPS tournaments since again I do not expect to be able to play in most of the events this year due to other engagements.

OK before I go today I would like to show you a hand from my cash game play this week that I think illustrates a bit of a rare situation, but one which comes up in some form or another more often than one might think if you play enough no-limit holdem, whether live or on-line. I would love to hear how you guys suggest playing this hand, what you think of the way I played it, and what you think my opponent might have to have played the hand the way that he did. I will be back tomorrow with the answer to show what the other guy was holding and how the hand ended up, but really it is the process and not the result that I am more interested, as is usually the case.

So here's the setup. You're playing 2-4 6-max nlh, and you have 88 in middle position. Action folds to you and you put in a standard pot-raise to $14. The cutoff to your right calls, and then sadly both blinds call as well. There is $53.20 in the pot, and here comes the flop:

Both blinds check to you. You have just flopped top set, but it is on an all-suited board, a suit of which you have none in your hand. The board is also connecting, of which you also have none even though somebody could technically have flopped a straight with the 468 flop. So how do you like to play this here? Are you going to push hard to get all the flush-chasers and straight-chasers out of there? Or do you bet meekly in an attempt to seem like you are on a draw or at least are weaker than you actually are? Anybody like to check here and see what develops, either if the cutoff bets out on this flop or otherwise you can wait and see what the turn card brings before committing a lot more chips?

I opted to go for the check here. I reasoned that with four opponents, the odds of nobody having a decent, playable spade were probably very low since we all called a preflop raise and thus probably have some or mostly high cards. Also with the straight possibilities out there, I figured anyone with any kind of a primary draw is going to stay in for any reasonable-sized bet. Generally with a strong hand on a very draw-heavy board I do try to bet big, in this case with four of us in there I felt it very unlikely that I could push everyone out from all the possible draws, and thus it seemed most prudent for me to check in this spot. The cutoff bet out $50 into the $53.20 pot, the small blind folded but the big blind called, bringing the action back to me, to call $40 into a pot that now contained $133.20:

What do you like to do here? Call, raise or fold?

Following the same logic as above, I went for just the call here, reasoning that I was about to get beat if any spade or any further connecting card came off on the turn (assuming the board did not pair up, giving me the nut boat).

The turn brought an offsuit King, which I reasoned was good for me in that clearly neither the flush draws nor the straight draws could have filled with that card. With still two opponents left, how would you play this now that the turn has not hurt your near-nut hand? How worried are you about someone flopping the flush or the straight, given the action so far?

I decided to check the action again, maybe being a little bit fearful and maybe being a little bit trappy. I'm not really sure how I could put someone specifically on the flopped flush or the flopped straight at this point, so I figured here let's see if one of the other two opponents will bet out on this non-scare card on the turn, so I can raise them unless I get a specific read from when or how much they bet.

The cutoff led out again, this time for $140 into the $173 pot:

and the big blind folded his hand. Now what?

What does this guy have, given his betting so far in this hand?

Answers and my thoughts on Wednesday.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, July 23, 2007

The NBA Referee "Fixer", and FTOPS V

Well we're all back at the grind on another Monday, and that means that tonight is another Monday night. And we all know what that means.

10pm ET tonight on full tilt. Password as always is "hammer". Come one and come all to a fun time in the battle for the $26 buyins. First-timer Emptyman will hopefully be there to defend his title in his second-ever Mondays at the Hoy tournament, as will I and the usual cast of characters in this week's MATH event. One of these days I will get it up to do a live-blog of this thing, but the live blog is not something I am very experienced in and I honestly don't know how guys like Mookie do it every single week while also trying to play the game.

Which reminds me, I'm really looking forward to Buddydank Radio tonight along with the Hoy tournament, which I have not gotten to listen to for a good week or so due to various family obligations. I missed Kat's donkament on Friday night as my mother and brother in law came over to celebrate Hammer Wife's birthday, which was on Friday. Then on Sunday night I took Hammer Wife out to a foncy dinner at one of the nicest restaurants in the city. This is something that my wife and I really look forward to doing these days. I mean, with two young kids my wife and I basically never get to go out at night together anymore, so on the few nights a year when we do manage to get out on the town, we like to do it in style. So for the past few years, we have spent my wife's birthday, my birthday, our aniversary, etc. out at the very best restauarants New York City has to offer. Last night it was at a delicious place in the West Village where I got my all-time favorite meal: Beef Wellington. I eat that shit up like it's hotcakes. It was awesome, my wife loved the meal as well and we had a great time. Unfortunately, it meant that I could not play in the WPBT HORSE tournament that started at 9pm on Sunday evening, even though I had originally signed up and planned to be there. Me = donkey. Oh well. I did log in and watch until there were four people left. Apparently from reading some bloggage today, LJ went out in fourth, with Skidoo, khanwoman and one other player still in there at the time, but I don't actually know who won although I do know Ski had a bigass chiplead when I went to bed. I hate missing a WPBT HORSE event, but it was for a good cause and a kickass night out so I'm not complaining.

I bought the new Harry Potter book this weekend, which I am really looking forward to reading after more than ten years focusing on this story (though I never watch the movies and am not the least bit interested in them). Unlike previous forays out on release day, this time I was not met with recockulous lines and stores that were out of books. My local B&N in the city had about 5000 of those badboys just sitting in a bigass pile right near the front door, and there was maybe just one other person in line ahead of me when I got in and out of there in probably 4 minutes. I'm just starting it but I won't ruin it for anyone...yet. When I finish I imagine I will have some thoughts, or maybe along the way, who knows. I will warn anyone of any spoilers, but I don't really plan to give anything away here so I'm not going to think about that again until if and when it becomes an issue.

So let's talk about what I think is one of the biggest stories of my lifetime as far as the four major sports go in the United States: the NBA referee who the FBI has indicted for fixing games. Turns out now that this clown Tim Donaghy has also been betting on the games, and making calls to alter the outcome of games against the point spreads over the past two seasons, all while he and unnamed mob connections were placing large wagers on those point spreads and presumably raking in thousands. Who knows how much trouble Donaghy had gotten into with his now-acknowledged gambling problem, but the result of Donaghy allegedly fixing NBA games is to me one of the biggest stories in the history of American professional sports, and I don't think people are making a big enough deal about it.

Let's be clear about one thing -- this is not just some guy admitting something that didn't really matter in the actual games. Much the opposite. Tim Donaghy fixed games for money, to bail himself out of large gambling debts, and the results are very conspicuous for anyone who cares to understand it, horrifyingly so for the NBA suits and for Commissioner David Stern. This guy's recockulous calls on the court have been the subject of some of the great conspiracies and claims of unfairness in NBA history.

First, Donaghy was one of the crewmembers of the 2004 game between the Pacers and Pistons that erupted into that ridiculous brawl that spilled over into the stands. You know, that fight. Ron Artest, Jermaine O'Neal, all that stuff. This guy and his horrific calls eventually sparked so much animosity between the players that the game ended up turning into the ugliest scene facing the NBA until...well...this referee points fixing scheme. And that's not all -- Donaghy was also one of the referees in February 2007 when the Knicks played the Heat, where 39 fouls were called on the Heat and only 8 on the Knicks, including technical fouls called against the Heat's head coach and an assistant coach. After a foul differential of 31 fouls between the two teams that night in Madison Square Garden (and loud complaints by Heat coach Pat Riley and its players), the Knicks held on to win by 6. They were favored to win by 4.5.

In fact, there are some very disturbing trends pointed out by those investigating the spread numbers behind the games Tim Donaghy has worked over the past two seasons. When the home team was favored by 0-4½ points, it went 5-12 in games officiated by Donaghy this season, according to Covers.com, a Web site that tracks referee trends. Home underdogs were 1-7 when the spread was 5-9.5 points. And there you have that Knicks game, with the Knicks favored by 4.5 points, and managing to eke out a 6-point victory after being called for 31 fewer fouls than their opponents. 31 fouls fewer! If you watch the NBA then you know just how ridiculous that is.

And this doesn't even mention my personal favorite part of this story, which is that back in January 2003, Rasheed Wallace, known as "ashtray" to the Duke Blue Devil fans (if you've ever seen 'Sheed's hair, then you understand the reference), then a Portland Trailblazer, got himself suspended for seven games for threatening to "kick Donaghy's ass" on the loading dock outside the Rose Garden arena. Wallace had complained back over four years ago now about Donaghy having called a technical foul on him during a game against Memphis that night. Apparently, the undeserved technical foul is one of Donaghy's big moves in fixing these games. So this shit is real, and it's been happening for some time, and it has actually affected the actual outcome of actual NBA games. How the NBA gets over this is beyond me, but to me this is the story of my generation as far as gambling in sports, bigger than Pete Rose who apparently only bet on his own team to win while he managed the Reds.

OK on to some actual poker content today. So I finally up and looked at the entire schedule of FTOPS V on full tilt, easily the biggest (in buyins and in number of events) FTOPS ever held at the world's greatest online poker site. Here's the complete FTOPS V Schedule:

Event # Date/Time [ET] Game Buy-In Guarantee

#1 8-8 21:00 NL Hold'em $200 + $16 $500,000

#2 8-9 21:00 HORSE $200 + $16 $150,000

#3 8-10 21:00 PL Hold'em $200 + $16 $200,000

#4 8-11 15:00 PL Omaha (6-max) $500 + $35 $150,000

#5 8-11 16:30 NL Hold'em Rebuy $100 + $9 $300,000

#6 8-12 18:00 NL Hold'em $300 + $22 $1,000,000

#7 8-13 21:00 NL Hold'em (6-max) $1,000 + $60 $1,000,000

#8 8-14 21:00 FL Omaha Hi/Lo $200 + $16 $150,000

#9 8-15 21:00 NL Hold'em (6-Max) Rebuy $300+22 $450,000

#10 8-16 21:00 7-Stud $200+16 $100,000

#11 8-17 21:00 Limit Hold'em (6-max) $200+16 $200,000

#12 8-18 15:00 NL Hold'em $2,500+120 $600,000

#13 8-18 16:30 PL Omaha Rebuy $100+9 $200,000

ME 8-19 18:00 NL Hold'em $500 + $35 $2,000,000

Looking over this list this weekend, I was kinda bummed to see that I actually will only be making a big effort to play in four of the events: Events 1-3, and #7. As you know I normally do not play online poker on weekends except late at night, as in fact I just about never play except for late at night when my family is asleep in any event, so that basically knocks out Events 4, 5 and 6 as well as #s 12, 13 and #14 the Main Event. Now I know that in the past I have made an exception for the Main Event, which this year btw is the largest ever FTOPS ME guarantee at $2,000,000, but this time around I will be at a good friend's wedding on Sunday night August 19th, so there really will be no FTOPS ME for me in FTOPS V.

So, since I'm not going to play any of the afternoon weekend events this year, that leaves me with only Events 1-3 and 7-11 to consider. Events 1-3 are all $200 buyins, in no-limt holdem, HORSE and pot-limit holdem respectively, and so I'm sure I will be either satelliting in or buying my way in to each of those first three events scheduled for Wednesday nights through Friday nights at 9pm each. Perfect timing for me, and all three are in poker games that I have been very successful in in the past.

Event #7 is probably the most attractive of all the FTOPS V events to me -- the $1000 buyin 6-max nlh tournament. As my regular readers know, I love 6-max nlh and I've had much success in it over time, both online and in live play including my recent run in the WSOP this summer. The buyin is far too steep for me to consider paying directly, but there are lots of satellites and super sats into Event #7, so you can expect to see me in there and finding a way if possible to play in that event. This weekend for example I played in one of the $150 buyin satellites for the first time, where I ended up bubbling after probably six horrible suckouts against me throughout the tournament. It was like I was simply destined not to survive in that thing. So gross. Eventually one of the bullshit suckouts did me in and I went out of there 1 spot away from the money, and 3 spots away from winning a seat. But I'll be back. FTOPS Event #7, I got my eyes on you and I'm comin' to getcha!

After Event #7 though, the FTOPS for me personally leaves a lot to be desired. Event #8 is Limit O8 for a $200 buyin. I've played this event (winning my way in) in each of the past few FTOPS series, and I have never really enjoyed it. I've written here many times about how I simply do not enjoy playing O8 very much. I absolutely love playing Omaha high, so it's not the Omaha format generally that bothers me at all, but I just don't love playing O8 and find it as I've said many times to be the most donkish of all the major poker variants because of the fact that in most cases any A2 dealt to you will give you the nut low automatically. No other poker game has that factor in it, and I never liked that about O8 and still don't like it today. So I may still play this event, but that one is likely to be more of a game-time decision and not something I'm putting a big focus on playing my way in to.

FTOPS Event #9 is another 6-max tournament which I love, but at a $300 buyin and as a rebuy event, that is just way over my head by about ten times. So that one will be a no go for sho for me. Event #10 is 7-stud, a game I love but which I do not expect to satellite in to because it is the major poker variant that I have spent the least amount of time playing, at least in the last few years since my poker play has increased. And I won't buy in directly, even for just the $200, because the guarantee is low, and the field is likely to be small and littered with players who are more experienced than I at this particular game. And Event #11, that last Friday of the FTOPS, is Limit holdem, which I highly doubt I will even try to satellite in to. I've actually been a fairly successful limit holdem player over my live and online poker career, but I've never made a major effort in any LHE tournaments, and other than a few full tilt final tables I have therefore not had much success in the game. And then that's it, we're up to the last weekend of FTOPS where I won't be playing, again including even the Main Event this time around.

So, that leaves me with Events 1 through 3, and #7 as the four tournaments I am really focusing on this time around. Come join me tonight during the MATH tournament as I also hope to be playing in a number of the sats and super sats that run starting in the 9pm ET hour to each of those four FTOPS tournaments that I am most interested in. Between those, the blonkaments and that juicy token frenzy at 9:45pm ET every night on full tilt, my plate should be full for the next few nights as I look to make something happen for me after a rough Saturday night at the virtual tables that saw me bad beat out of 8 out of 8 tournaments in about a 90-minute span.

And don't forget, for you lucky 56 people who qualified, this coming Wednesday night, in place of the regularly-scheduled Mookie tournament will be the fabulous BBT freeroll tournament, which sports a fatty $1800 prize pool made up exclusively of half the buyins paid by every participant in every BBT blogger tournament over the April - June period. Anyone who played in at least 20 BBT events, plus anyone who ended in the top 50 of the final BBT leaderboard should already be registered to play, will be on the list for Wednesday night's tournament at 10pm ET, so I'm getting ready to add to my total BBT profits by scoring one of the cash payouts in that event, which Al once again manned up in a big way and got spread out over the maximum # of paying spots so as to properly reward the top finishers for a job well done in this event and in the BBT tournament series overall. So it's a big week this week on the virtual tables, and I look forward to seeing all of you there with me at various points, starting with tonight when I will see you at 10pm ET for Mondays at the Hoy on full tilt!

Labels: ,

Friday, July 20, 2007

Too Early to Push?

Thanks to everyone for their comments on yesterday's Too Early to Push? post. To recap, in that situation you were down to 860 chips from a starting stack of 1500, just about 12 minutes in to the nightly Midnight Madness mtt on full tilt, after folding the flop with pocket 3s and losing a medium-sized pot with pocket Kings on an Ace-high board. A player in early position raises the 40 blinds to 160, and you look down from MP to find pocket 7s. I asked how you would handle this situation, and is it too early to push allin here in this spot.

Some of the commenters suggested the push here. I do not agree. I think generally speaking there are times when I would make that exact move here, and frankly if my stack was a bit smaller -- say something like 500 instead of 860 -- then that significantly increases the likelihood of me pushing in this instance. But the bottom line is that 860 chips is not nothing, not when the blinds have just changed to 20-40 and when there won't be any antes to speak of for another hour or more in this thing. As many of the commenters pointed out, at 860 chips you have about 22 big blinds and an M of over 14. That's not where you want to be at the beginning of the second round of an online mtt, don't get me wrong, but with an M over 14 this early on, factually speaking you have more than enough time to make a comeback. Of all the mtt's I have cashed in in my life, I bet I was down to 60% of my starting stack in a good 25-35% of those. Think about those numbers. I was down this far early in the tournament in probably a good third of the times I've ever cashed in an mtt in my life. That right there is why I don't like the push-raise with 77. The bottom line is, for the early position guy to be raising preflop from up front like he did, it is fairly certain that he either has a higher pocket pair than 7s (in which case you are a 20% dog) or at least two overcards (in which case you are only a 51 or 52% favorite). The odds that he has a pair of 6s or below, or two cards below your 7s, I would suggest are miniscule at best. So being that (1) you're so short already, making calling your allin push fairly easy here, (2) you are almost surely either a 20% dog or just a 51% favorite, and (3) you have 22 big blinds and an M of 14 still, this is not a good place to push in my opinion.

So what is the right move then in this spot? Some of the commenters suggested a fold here with the pocket 7s. Now that's a ballzy move right there, and I respect the players who would really lay this hand down here. On some level I like the arguments, but at the end of the day I find it difficult to believe that laying down a hand like 7s on a semi-short stack is properly aggressive enough. Hot and cold it is one of the top 10 hands in nlh, and your opponent is much more likely -- purely mathematically speaking here -- to have just two overcards than he is to have a high pocket pair in this spot. So I like the fold here in theory, but in practice I just don't think I want to be the guy who lays down the pocket 7s to a simple early position raise from a big stack very early in an mtt. Let me put it this way -- I have sufficient ability in my postflop play that I am willing to take a cheap flop here, even with a short stack, and see what I can do on the flop. Maybe I flop a set with a 7 on the flop. Maybe I flop an overpair with a 632 rainbow flop. Maybe I flop top or middle pair on a raggish board. Or maybe the board comes something like Q64, my opponent checks to me with a likely Ace-high hand, and I can take the pot down with an allin move. My point is, a lot of things can happen on the flop in this hand that can give me the impetus to move in with my pocket 7s on the flop and maybe get the guy to lay down, or maybe win a bit pot. Pocket 7s is, to me, just barely too good to lay down in this spot.

And this gets me to my last point about this situation -- with 860 chips and facing 120 chips to call, that is an amount I am willing to call off and still go on even if I end up folding to overcards on the flop. In the overall scheme of things, just 11 or 12 minutes in to a large mtt, 740 chips or 860 chips from a starting stack of 1500 is just not much of a difference. I disagree with any of the commenters who said that with just 860 chips left, you are pot-committed once you put up 120 chips with the pocket 7s. I laugh at that notion. Yes 120 chips is nearly 14% of your current chip stack, but that is just not enough for me to consider this "pot committed". If I have 10,000 chips and I reraise some 1400 chips with pocket Jacks preflop very early in the WSOP Main Event, and they re-reraise me allin, am I pot-committed with 14% of my stack in the pot there? No way. Same thing here to me. While it is always tempting to try to double up quick when you get short early in an mtt, in my view with 860 chips left and blinds of 20-40 and no antes for the foreseeable future, you're not only doing fine right now but you even have enough IMO to make a 120-chip call and then evaluate how likely you are to be best from there once the flop is out.

OK everyone that's all for today. I am hoping to be in the donkament tonight at 9pm ET on full tilt, which is the fantabulous $1 rebuy tournament that Katitude has set up on Friday evenings, although I likely won't know for sure if I can play at that hour until just a few minutes beforehand. Either way I plan to hit up the FTOPS satellites this weekend after last night's final table of the 10pm ET $8 buyin O8 sat, as well as the cash tables, where I have recently gotten back on the horse to a good result at the 2-4 6-max nlh tables, while also extending my unbeaten pocket Aces streak to 34 wins out of 34 times dealt AA in cash, now averaging over $85 won per time I am dealt the best starting hand in holdem. Come check me out if you're around this weekend, and maybe I'll even accept some challenges for some heads-up low-limit sngs if anybody out there wants to learn a lesson first-hand. Just say the word and I'll see what I can do.

And don't forget this coming Sunday night at 9pm ET is the latest WPBT tournament, hosted by Columbo. This tournament is in HORSE, and unlike most of our private events, this one is for bloggers only. Feel free to hit me up on the girly chat if you need to know the password. I plan to be at the WPBT tournament on Sunday night, and you should too. Even if you're not an avid HORSE player, you will not find a better environment to get your HORSE on and start figuring out how some of these other games work. See you then if not before!

Labels: ,