Tuesday, February 12, 2008

More FTOPS, and a Big Tournament Score

Monday night was another busy day on the poker front in the Hammer household. It started off with a hot string of cards in FTOPS #10, the $1060 buyin nlh tournament, extended to a nice performance in the MATH, and ended with a deep, deep run into the 50-50 tournament on full tilt. With all the tournament success of late of bloggers like LJ, Don and Chad, I will admit to being more than a little jealous. I have won in the neighborhood of 5k or more in poker tournaments several times over the past few years, but none of those big scores have occurred in the past several months, with my most recent "big" score being the $2500 and change I won in the shorthanded nlh tournament at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas last summer. So as I've watched a number of bloggers I like and whose game I respect get their due in the world of poker tournaments, it has only increased my resolve to achieve already a stated goal of mine for 2008 -- namely, to focus more on cash-payout tournaments and win some actual money again from the large mtt's. With that focus in mind I have spent a good portion of the past month or so playing the 50-50, the tournament with the best structure of all the regular nightly events online, as well as the comparable 25-25 and 50-50 tournaments on pokerstars. And although I haven't written much about them here, I have made several deepish runs, finishing in the top 50 or so between those three tournaments probably 6 or 7 times in the past month. But nothing that rises to the level of A Big Score -- just $350 here, $280 there, maybe a $500 thrown in for good measure. The simple fact is that you need to final table these biatches to be in position to make what I consider to be real money, and runs to the top 20 or 30 finishers just don't make the cut for me anymore of what is "blogworthy". But last night in the 50-50, I made the cut and joined the party of my fellow bloggers who've hit the bank hard in the big tournaments recently.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. First there was the 9pm ET FTOPS #10 in 6-max nlh. This event had 1649 runners -- a huge number for a $1060 buyin tournament if you think about it -- including just about every red ftp "pro" there is (34 of em). First prize in the event was $329,800, with a generous payout to the top 204 finishers. I've yet to cash in any $1000 buyin tournament online, but after a nice run in FTOPS #9 on Sunday including my biggest cash tournament payout in a few months, I was optimistic that this could be the day.

I started off with some playable hands, raising with them as you basically have to do in shorthanded play and taking down a lot of pots with raises before the flop and on the flop as well. In the first half hour of play, I had won 29% of the total hands seen at my table, including a full 20% of the hands dealt to my table having been won by me before the flop, both amazing stats for any level buyin event. I figured this was great because I was aware that I was really splashing around and creating a highly aggressive image, and that since I knew this, I would be able to make use of it by really getting paid off if I could just hit a huge hand. 46 minutes in to the tournament, I got just that chance as I limped into a 3-way pot with pocket 3s and flopped a set on a rainbow board. I bet just half the pot from the blinds since there were no high cards on the flop and the pot had not been raised preflop, and just one player called. The turn came another rag but did bring a second spade to the board. This time I made a more standard bet of around 3/4 the pot, which the flop caller quickly called again. The river then brought a third spade, and my opponent led out for the first time in the hand. Now I can't really put him on the runner runner flush, can I? Obviously not. So I raised it big into the now large pot, knowing I would take down a big one, but instead my opponent reraised me allin. Of course I laid down my flopped set, bet on every street, to my opponent who obviously had caught the runner-runner spade flush. How sick. This knocked me down below 1700 chips (starting stacks had been 5000), and just five minutes later I was eliminated in 1036th or so place when I raised from late position with A9s and got called from the blinds. The flop came a raggy 456 with two suits, not a flop that scared me in the least in a heads-up pot that was raised and called preflop, and when my opponent checked, I pushed for my last 1400 chips or so. He beat me into the pot calling with....AA. Fucking sucked.

So that was another FTOPS tournament wasted, although I am already positive overall for the entire series thanks to my FTOPS #9 cash along with the 3 seats I won to FTOPS #9 in the nightly satellites heading up to the event. Like my early slamming in FTOPS #9 on Sunday, though, I was determined not to tilt here as I had over the past couple of weeks because I knew there was more good poker to be played on the night. At this point I turned my attention to the MATH, also a 6-max event which was just recently underway and where I had actually been running well for a change. This week's Mondays at the Hoy tournament featured 25 runners for a nice round $600 prize pool. I don't have much of the details because I was busy playing the FTOPS, the 5050 and the FTOPS O8 megasat, but suffice it to say that I made it to the final table for just the second time this year, before suffering a Mookie-style setup that saw me run AQ into Pirate Wes's KK at the shorthanded table, followed by my push with A9, called by Wes's pocket 6s, an Ace on the flop and then a 6 on the river to eliminate me in 6th place. It was gross, but standard for me.

Here are your cashers for this week's Mondays at the Hoy:

4. $60 -- PirateLawyer
3. $120 -- cubanlinks
2. $180 columbo
1. $240 Pirate Wes

And here is the updated 2008 MATH moneyboard, including this week's results:

1. surflexus $488
2. fuel55 $445
3. astin $366
4. Jordan $332
5. Pirate Wes $312
6. twoblackaces $298
7. Tripjax $288
8. Donkey Shortz $215
9. VinNay $203
10. columbo $180
11. buckhoya $150
11. Miami Don $150
11. Mike Maloney $150
14. pureprophet $144
15. chitwood $127
16. cubanlinks $120
17. bayne_s $112
18. thepokergrind $95
19. bartonf $89
20. Hoyazo $67
21. PirateLawyer $60

Congratulations to Wes for his second cash and first win of the year, and to PirateLawyer for becoming the 5th lawyer out of 21 players to cash in the Hoy this year. More drama my ass. More poker skillz is more like it.

Before I get to the 5050, I want to show my favorite hand that gives a perfect example of why I could not hold on to win the FTOPS O8 megasat on Monday night. Check out this jackfucker's call at the end, when I had completely put this moron on the precise hand that he had, but I incorrectly assumed that he would know what he unequivocally had to do with it:

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to hoyazo [8h Ks Qc 7h]
MrLuckyQ folds
cracknaces sits down
cracknaces adds 1,660
driven folds
jdog2004 calls 100
truebetruebe folds
Squ1rrels folds
hoyazo calls 50
ourounder checks
*** FLOP *** [6s 9d 8s]
hoyazo checks
ourounder bets 100
jdog2004 calls 100
hoyazo calls 100
*** TURN *** [6s 9d 8s] [6h]
hoyazo checks
ourounder bets 200
jdog2004 folds
hoyazo calls 200 I know from watching this guy that he is on a low draw and is just betting out twice like he always has at this table for the past hour.
*** RIVER *** [6s 9d 8s 6h] [6d]
hoyazo bets 200 Gotcha motherfucker! I know you just had a naked A2 and now you may lay down your nothing hand.
ourounder has 15 seconds left to act Yeah that's right, you play it off for as long as you need to to save face before the fold. Bitch.
ourounder calls 200
*** SHOW DOWN ***
hoyazo shows [8h Ks Qc 7h] three of a kind, Sixes, for high
ourounder shows [Ad 5c Qd 3d] three of a kind, Sixes, for high
ourounder wins the pot (1,400) with three of a kind, Sixes
No low hand qualified

So he called me down with just Ace-Queen high for the high hand in Omaha. Fucking sick!! But that'w what the donkshits who play this game online are like. I had a guy call me down earlier in the same tournament with 9732 in his hand on a board showing 4447K as well, clearly believing he was holding a full house. These people have no clue, and the more you know this game, the less your chances of ever really succeeding in a big way in an O8 tournament on full tilt. Sorry but it's true and those two hands above show exactly what I'm talking about.

OK so on to my big news of the night, which was the 5050 tournament on full tilt. As I mentioned I've been playing this thing more than I used to lately, as the turbo sngs have propped up my roll seemingly no matter how cold I run in mtts, and last night was no exception as I cancelled out of the token frenzy at the last minute to make screen space for the 5050 instead. Good decision #1 on the night for Hoy! Unfortunately but standardly, I got no cards whatsoever for the first couple hours in the 5050, ending Hour 1 at the exact 2000-chip starting stack, and ending Hour 2 just over 3000 and still well off the pace of even the average remaining stacks. I played patiently as shit, getting absolutely nothing to work with but also not forcing the action as I waited for a good spot to make some kind of move. Unfortunately, for the first three full hours of this thing, that opportunity simply never arrived, and I was still just around 3100 chips as Hour 3 came to an end, to the point that when I found A9s in the big blind on the very first hand of Hour 4, already ITM and down to 149 players remaining, I decided to donk it up and push after the button had steal-raised and then the small blind had pushed in response just ahead of me. It was a reckless move from a player (me) who was feeling reckless and tired of waiting for something good to happen after 3 hours of survival-mode poker, and in the end I was the only Ace of the three hands and I nailed my card at the river to triple up and into 12th place overall out of 148 players remaining. Suddenly at 12:50am ET I had the stack I had been so desperately waiting for a chance to amass since 9:30pm the evening before.

When we got down to 100 players remaining at 1:10am ET, I was in 22nd place, merely coasting on the coattails of that one big hand of the entire night for me. My second big hand of the night occurred when I was finally dealt a hand -- pocket Jacks -- and called an allin from a shortish stack ahead of me on the button, who flipped up pocket 9s. My JJ was ok and I shot up to 5th place of 93 players left, approaching the best position I had ever been in this late in this tournament including my other two final tables which occurred on back to back days last July while the Hammer family was away at the beach.

From 5th of 93 left, I played cautiously aggressive, as I pretty much always do when I am in position to make a run at the big money at the final table. I didn't get any other good cards for the next hour or so, but what I did do was take advantage of good situations, identifying the stealers and restealing from them just enough times to stay ahead of the escalating blinds and antes, while pushing the few genuinely playable, genuinely raisable hands I received and also not getting called in key spots. By simply stealing and restealing against the right people with the right stack sizes, and by laying down without thought on the few occasions where my steals got caught by allin reraises, I was able to stay ahead of the blinds and antes and in fact maintain my position, not falling below the halfway point of the remaining players as the number of tables dwindled to 5, 4, 3 and then 2. With 18 left I was at one point in 10th place, but quickly picked up some blinds and antes and pushed back into the top half of the field, where I basically waited the other players out as we all made the push for the final table. I would love to tell you about the great plays I made and the huge aggression I showed in taking advantage of the final table bubble approaching, but again I simply did not get the cards to make such kinds of moves. I did execute a few more well-timed resteals which are basically an absolute requirement if you're going to run deep deep deep in the big mtts, including the requirement that you do not run into a monster when you do such resteals which in this case I was lucky not to. Mercifully, at around 3am ET, the final table bubble broke, with me by that point all the way down to 9th place of the 9 remaining players, giving me just my third 5050 final table in the past 7 months or so. I was determined to last longer than my two previous finishes in 6th and 4th place, although I was in poor chip position sitting in last place with some really large stacks around the table thanks to general card death and inability to make big moves in key situations.

And that's when I looked down to find TT in the hijack, my first truly playable hand in over two hours, sitting there right on the very first hand of the final table. Being the short stack, it was an obvious decision to push over the aggrodonkey MP players' raise, hoping for a call. And a call I got, with my opponent proudly flipping up pocket Jacks. What a frucking setup! On the very first hand of the final table and on a short stack. Anyways, here was the final board:

BOOOOooooooooooommmm! Man there is nothing like a suckout on a setup hand to start off the final table of a major tournament. Funk that guy, funk him and his pocket Jacks setup against my short stack on the very first hand of the 5050 blue table. Funk that. This hand shot me up suddenly to 3rd place at the table, a position I would hold for around the next hour or so.

Once in 3rd place, with the big payouts realistically within reach, I did my usual final table strategy of trying not to splash around too much and instead let the smaller stacks battle it out while I waited for my chances to be the aggressor with strong starting cards. This led me to make a couple of big laydowns that you could easily argue might have cost me. The first laydown was with another pocket Tens maybe 10 minutes later in this spot:

Here, the UTG player had raised it up, he being one of the only two players at the entire table who could basically cripple my still 3rd-place stack, and I pondered my move. Early on in the 5050, this is an easy raise or at the least an obvious calling hand for me, but here, with all the money on the line and this guy's huge stack threatening me, his UTG raise made my hand simply too hard to play. Did I really want to call off 40,000 of my hard-earned chips and then fold to the inevitable c-bet on overcards on the flop? Did I want to reraise here and face an allin push (or allin call) with a hand that could easily have me dominated and almost surely at least be racing with me? Answer: no. Not in this spot, not this close to the money positions. I like the fold here, though I would be interested to hear any different thoughts.

Similarly, this was another laydown I made that I know Chad at least in the girly was questioning all through the rest of my run, and yet for me it was quite an easy laydown:

Now granted I have to admit that the two raisers in this pot were both known donkeys, again and again and again moving in way too much of their chips with way too many hands than could possibly have been actually strong. That said, here we are down to five players remaining, and the only two stacks at the table that are larger than mine are involved in a pot, first the chip leader raising from the cutoff, and then the 2nd place stack moving allin -- enough to eliminate me if he wins the pot over my Jacks -- on a reraise here. With Chad saying he thought I was likely ahead, to me this was an easy fold. Again, if this is the 28k and we are 15 minutes into it, I make this call pretty dam quick. Why not? Take a chance to amass a big stack early, or go home early, neither option being a bad one given the small buyin and small time investment made so far in the tournament. But in this spot, I just don't see how I can call of my stack against not one but two raisers with pocket Jacks when I'm this close to the big, big money. Easy fold for me. Thoughts?

About 10 minutes later, I had stolen a few pots and had managed to climb my way into the chip lead. Still five players left, and I had about a 50k lead over 2nd place with around 650k in chips. Very glad for both of those previous folds at this point.

For those of you interested, as we went to break, still with five players remaining, at almost exactly 4am, here were my total stats for the tournament:

So through exactly six hours of play, I had seen 384 hands and just 7% of flops. Now once you're this late in the tournament, you've played a whole lot of shorthanded hands -- I would estimate probably a good 20% of the total hands I had seen occured at a table with fewer than 8 players at it -- and plus the action tends to slow down quite a bit once down to the last couple of tables as everyone wants to fold to the final table and then to the big money in the top few spots, so that 7% stat is a bit misleading, but it also doesn't mean nothing. 7% of flops over 6 hours, take from that what you will. More telling I think is that I had still won 17% of the total hands I had seen in the entire tournament, a figure that is more telling of my level of activity throughout the event despite my shitcards, and also notice the 9 out of 12 showdowns won which shows that I was at least not getting to showdown without strong hands to back it up.

The 7th hour went quickly, as the two uberdonkeys I mentioned with my JJ fold hand above busted first in 5th place and then in 4th fairly quickly once we came back from break. As usual for these final tables, almost every elimination was a suckout or at least a resuck of some kind, and just about every time someone was knocked out you almost had to feel bad for the guy. But, given that I am getting in ahead an inordinately large amount of the time, I was unable to be one of the donks doing the sucking out, and as a result when we got down to 3 players left, I was about 200k behind the two chip leaders who had just donked out the uberdonks in 5th and 4th place. With the blinds escalating, I let the one chip leader donk steal a couple of pots in a row, and then the third time he put in a big preflop raise in a row, I went for the resteal with 87o for about half my stack. After some deliberation, he reraised me allin. At this point, obviously I was behind as the chip leader could not possibly believe I would lay down for my last 230k chips into a now 680k pot. I suppose this was the fault of my preflop raise sizing more than anything else, but at this point I clearly had the pot odds with any two cards let alone with connectors like 87o, so I felt compelled to make the call. The chip leader flipped up AQo -- the first time in the final two hours of the tournament that I restole into a monster hand -- and I could not win the 40-60 shot and I was eliminated in third place overall:

The payout for third place out of 1218 runners was quite pleasing to me:

Remember I was just saying yesterday how I could feel the fog being lifted and the weight of the downturn just peeling away after a couple weeks of annoying bullshit at the virtual tables? It's hard to put it into words, but sometimes you just know, you can just feel it. As I said above I think this is my biggest score since before my WSOP cash last summer, probably since I took 2nd place in the $109 buyin 30k guaranteed 6-max tournament at 11pm ET on full tilt late last spring. And it feels fucking great, let me tell you. Like I said I am happy to join the party and at least be able to be considered in the same breath as Chad and LJ and some of the other bloggers who have made huge tournament scores recently, and I'm even more excited to be playing well and with the proper mindset, to be able to look forward to playing more in the coming day and weeks and hopefully come up with more results like this.

Don't forget the latest Skill Series tournament tonight at 9:30pm ET on full tilt, password as always is "skillz". And for those of you who love playing on horrible poker clients who bounce their withdrawal checks to their players, there is always Smokkee's Bodonkey tournament on bodog, which I believe is at 9pm ET. I'll see you at one of those tournaments, but not the other....

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Blogger jeciimd said...

I was so caught up in my own tilt, I had no idea you were even playing last night (silly me, I thought you were just up railin').
AWESOME JOB! And long overdue I might add.
Of course, now you're doomed to have to buy in direct to FTOPS tonite.....

10:09 PM  
Blogger Alan aka RecessRampage said...


Congrats Hoy. Good to see some MTT success/poker strategy related posts from you again. Now that the fog has been lifted, keep it up!

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well done, hoy. Awesome score.

10:43 PM  
Blogger Julius_Goat said...

Right on. So cool.

11:20 PM  
Blogger 4dbirds said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:22 PM  
Blogger 4dbirds said...

Congrats. So here's my question. I know you must work more than eight hours a day being a big time lawyer and all. Plus there's the commute, the kids, the wife, time to eat, shave, play poker and blog, so when the fawk do you sleep?

11:23 PM  
Blogger Eric a.k.a. Bone Daddy said...

congrats, I told you the horse race score was going to change your fortunes, congrats and well played.

11:36 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Tonight I slept from 4:40am to 5:55am ET. And yet as with the other times I have had a big late-night tournament score, I am chipper as balls today at work.

5 Large can do that to a person I guess.

11:37 PM  
Blogger Instant Tragedy said...


When the rush comes, ride the rush!

I agree with the JJ fold as well as the 10 10.

12:02 AM  
Blogger Shrike said...


I guess your play secretly inspired my hammer squeeze last night. ;)

12:05 AM  
Blogger Mondogarage said...

Awesomely strong finish, Hoy, major 'grats on your score!

As an aside, given the situations, I agree with both the JJ and TT folds, which struck me as similar to the situations I folded to on Sunday. If either were QQ, I think you'd have to play them.

Great job!

12:06 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

Well done Hoy....don't know if your saw last night in the chat, but I told you your time will come....so hopefully this is a stepping stone to something bigger, and I hope we can all ride the recent wave of successes to even more final tables and big payouts. Congrats again.

12:08 AM  
Blogger Schaubs said...

Nice score! Glad to see it is coming around for you.

FTOPS avtar guy is a donkey? Seems like an odd thing to say to me since he is bascially advertising that he is a decent player... and is at the 50-50 final table...

12:27 AM  
Blogger Chad C said...

Hoyazo: I love the token frenzy

cracknaces: Play 50-50, not ghey ass token frenzy!!

Hoyazo: OK

cracknaces: god your ghey

Hoyazo: whoops I just won the equivalent of 67 tokens in one shot, cracknaces is a genius!

12:28 AM  
Blogger jusdealem said...

Very nice, Hoy. Congrats!

12:37 AM  
Blogger vandy said...


12:42 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Schaubs, take it from me, FTOPS avatar guy, who just won the FTOPS Main Event 3 months ago for 385k cash money, is a Confirmed Donkey. You heard it here first. He maybe used to play good, but I'm thinking all that money last year changed him in some way. He played as silly and reckless at the final table as anybody but for maybe the other donkass mofo.

12:47 AM  
Blogger bayne_s said...

congrats on score

12:49 AM  
Blogger Drizztdj said...

Very nice score Hoy!

On the O8 hand... unless you're playing big bet O8 don't expect people to fold until a BB means a sizable chunk of their stack.

Fold that trash preflop, its not worth even completing.

1:08 AM  
Blogger SubZero said...

Big up to the Hoy!

From all I read, was a long time coming but as we all know, good things come to those who wait! Congratulations.

1:11 AM  
Blogger cmitch said...

Congrats - nice score!!!

Good time to get things rolling again - WSOP is a little over 3 months away!!!!

1:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice run Hoy sorry I missed it.

As for the blogger lawyer comment and skillz? I beg to differ.

1:24 AM  
Blogger Fuel55 said...

You're back baby. Beers on HOY!!!!!!!

1:46 AM  
Blogger $mokkee said...

well done Hoy.

1:50 AM  
Blogger pokerpeaker said...


3:02 AM  
Blogger AnguilA said...

Nice run indeed! Congrats!

3:09 AM  
Blogger BigPirate said...

Great job!

I fold the TT there. FWIW.

4:11 AM  
Blogger KajaPoker said...

very nice. i don't even turn on my computer these days, so i totally missed it. i'm not sure how you even fell asleep after that.

it's good to see you winning again (other than the damn sats which you are a wizard at winning).

4:14 AM  
Blogger mookie99 said...

Congrats man! Well done.

5:33 AM  
Blogger BamBam said...

Well deserved Sir !


5:37 AM  
Blogger RaisingCayne said...

Better late than never I suppose...


7:00 AM  
Blogger Joe Speaker said...

nice hit, hoy. way to go.

7:10 AM  
Blogger Pseudo_Doctor said...

awesome score man...u want to pay off my credit card bill this month...

Glad to see you out of your slump keep it up

9:00 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

Nice job Hoy!

1:18 PM  
Blogger Lifesagrind said...

Congrats Dude!

1:01 AM  
Blogger lj said...


8:30 AM  
Blogger HighOnPoker said...

I'm a bit late to the party, but I had to extend a hearty congratulations. Good job, Hoy.

5:14 AM  

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