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, 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!

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Blogger bayne_s said...

Tim Donaghy was referee in Game 3 of Suns-Spurs series this year and was the referee who called a shooting foul for Manu Ginobili that was whistled three seconds after the play.

Bill SImmon's of ESPN had a great column this weekend on subject:

11:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You and I have discussed this before and I've taken a lot of shit for it from it seems everyone else but you, but I'm 100% convinced the certain NBA and the NFL games are fixed and that a handful of refs are in on the conspiracy.

There is just too much money at stake not to find someone like Donaghy, who has gambling or any other drug, alcohol, or debt problems, to fix games.

Ref trends are hot topics at Vegas sports books. We have terms called public side, casino side, and fix side. Anytime you are opposite the public side and on both the casino and fix side, it's money in the bank.

Glad you mentioned this. I'll post some more in depth stuff once football season approaches.

11:47 PM  
Blogger Astin said...

The real question is if it sparks investigation into other major sports too. The NFL is a prime target of course. MLB less-so.

The NHL isn't out of the range of possibility either, as penalties can play a HUGE role in the final outcome, and there are plenty of situations where fans and coaches are left scratching their heads. Throw in a fine if anyone criticizes the refs, and it's a tempting situation.

12:13 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

And Don, the kicker to all this Donaghy business is that no longer can anyone just write off the guy like you making the claims that you do as "paranoid" or just a conspiracy theorist or something. The shiat is obviously real, and it has affected games that we all watched, that we all knew were officiated poorly. Now, it turns out, purposefully. This is going to turn into a huge story before it goes away I'm thinking, much bigger than it seems to be right now.

12:20 AM  
Blogger Chad C said...

You "automatically" get half the pot with A2 in Omaha /8? I don't know where you play Omaha /8 but that couldn't be further from the truth. Because everyone will play a naked A2 to the felt a lot of the times you will get quartered or worse! Omaha /8 is definitely a "thinkers game" much unlike NLHE which is the new black jack to me :)

I love how everyone thinks that one man can effect the outcome of an NBA game. I really think this is a conspiracies theorist wet dream right here with this ref. So now every time someone loses a sports bet "the fix must have been in". The man has not been convicted of anything yet. For all we know he wasn't even betting on the games he was working. If he was we will surely get frame by frame breakdowns in no time on sports center.

12:50 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Chad I think you have misunderstood my point about O8. But whatever I will take you down in heads up O8 with a $5 buyin any day of the week.

And btw, the frame by frames have already been posted about Donaghy man. Go check out YouTube. He's guilty and that is pretty obvious from all the evidence. No matter what our effed up legal system ends up "deciding" he is for official purposes.

12:54 AM  
Blogger Goat said...

I think it is now safe to say that Harry Potter has been intimately involved in a long term and far-reaching conspiracy to fix Quiddich games.

I think they should feed him to Ron Weasley's fighting dogs, if you ask me.

12:56 AM  
Blogger Irongirl01 said...

I thouroughly enjoyed your post with a side of Cobb salad on my lunch..... But im jealous of the Beef Wellington!! YUMMO..

I should be there tonite at the MATH... Turning Stone tomorrow early AM however.

1:30 AM  
Blogger KajaPoker said...

I think I know where you went to eat those Wellingtons. I can't remember the name of the place but the restaurant is in a little alley and has two floors, kind of like in a townhouse. And yes, those are some good Wellingtons, yum.

As for this NBA stuff, more readers are offended by that than they are off what Vick was doing - Check this link.

3:25 AM  
Blogger RaisingCayne said...

Long time reader... Tonight will be my first blogger tourney as I'm looking forward to the MATH. See you there.

I've started my own blog this week:

If you do bother perusing it, PLEASE don't give me too much $h*t over today's post, as I'm feelin' downright awful enough about it.

Anyway, just wanted to try to introduce myself prior to the MATH. Lookin' forward to it. Hit me up to say hello sometime...

5:23 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Cayne I already read your post, sorry to hear that. The world would be much better if people just never transfered any money to anyone on poker sites unless you personally know the person and know from experience that they are legitimate and trustworthy.

See you tonight man, looking forward to your presence. First-time winner last week, maybe we repeat that feat again tonight.

5:48 AM  
Blogger pokherforlife said...

Kinda makes me think of the Steelers/Seahawks Superbowl a couple years back. The Seahawks were a favorite to win as I recall, but w/ the way the game was officiated, there's no way they could have won. Wonder how much money was paid out betting on the 'underdog' Steelers...

The solution? Pay the Refs more money so they won't be as tempted to cheat...

8:19 PM  
Blogger Blinders said...

I always new the zebras were on someones payroll. I am sure more will be identified in short order. Basketball is the easiest game to fix, Football next.

10:29 PM  
Blogger golden said...

The Steelers were 4.5 point favorites against the Seahawks in the Superbowl year before last. I still think the Seahawks got jobbed.

11:38 PM  

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