Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Oops We Did it Again

I have got to say, 2008 has without a doubt been the low point for the United States of America, at least during my lifetime for sure. I don't mean to be hyperbolic here, I am really serious. This latest bailout of Citigroup has just gone so far above and beyond, it leaves me nearly speechless. The fact that time after time after time this year, a company, or an entire industry, lets its greed, its laziness, its cheapness, its stupidity, all of the above, you name it, drive itself into the ground, and every single time these days, all you hear chirped about on CNBC, on CNN, and even on the streetcorners and the Starbucks' of this country is "Bailout!", "Bailout!". I mean, how many of us even ever used the word "bailout" before this year? And now how many fucking times have we all used it, and thought it? It's so sick.

All I know is, the U.S. government has really outdone itself here with the Citi deal over the weekend. Citigroup has $306 billion of "risky assets" on its books. No, not 3.6 million, and not even 306 million. $306 billion of risky assets. This compared to the $30 billion on the books of Bear Stearns before it collapsed, and the $60 billion or so that Lehman Brothers had before it too collapsed unto itself. $306 billion of crappy assets. That shit does not happen by accident. You have to really try -- I mean, really, really go out of your way -- to be so reckless as to amass $306 billion of shitty assets on your books. There's just no way to get "stuck" with that kind of portfolio or to just "get unlucky" or something. No way no how.

So what does the our government decide to do this weekend, when the collective weight of that $306 billion of shit finally takes its toll on what was once America's largest financial institution? How do we decide to treat the company whose greed, whose stupidity, whose sheer recklessness outdid all other comers by a significant margin? Easy! We reward them!

Yep. We reward the most reckless company in America purely for being so reckless that they drove themselves into the ground and to within realistically probably one or two days of a bankruptcy filing. We fucking reward them. I mean, if they hadn't been nearly as reckless, only saddling their company significantly, with, say, $100 billion of bad assets instead of going that extra mile and reaching $306 billion, then their stock would not have been down 97% this year, the company wouldn't have quite been in danger of having to shut its doors for good, and the beloved Bush administration would not have had to give Citi anything. But instead, we injected another $20 billion of fresh cash into the company over the weekend, and more than that, our government has now officially backed (i.e., taken on the risk) of 90% of that incredibly shitty loan portfolio on Citi's books. Sure, we are requiring Citi to eat the first $29 billion of risk on their $306 billion, I imagine because that's the exact same amount of risk the Fed took on from Bear Stearns' book when they forced its firesale to JP Morgan Chase earlier this year, but of the remaining $277 billion, just about $250 billion of the risk is fully and completely owned by our government. So if Citi has to write down that $306 billion to, say, $200 billion in the coming quarters, the first $29 billion in writeoffs is taken on by Citi, and the remaining $77 billion will be shouldered $7 billion by Citi, and $70 billion will be eaten by the U.S. government. This is how we reward the biggest bunch of schmike yet in the entire financial crisis, the guys who acted the worst, who took on the stupidest, most vile bets and gambles. No, not the guys who acted the best, who behaved the most prudently with other people's money, the most responsibly. Nope. This kind of treatment we literally only save for the worst of the worst.

My lord, what must the guys at JP Morgan, or Wells Fargo, US Bancorp, Bank of New York and countless other more prudently-run financial instituations be thinking this week, huh? JPM and Wells, US Bancorp, these other giant financial institutions who aren't hurting nearly as bad as Citi, they must be as fuming mad as I am. I mean, how the phuck do we offer up this kind of a deal to as bad of actors as Citigroup management obviously has been over these past few years? Doesn't anyone care what kind of a lesson we send to these reckless piece of shit bankers, taking our money -- yours and mine -- and throwing it at them, taking all the worry out of their lives and all the risk out of their company solely because of what fucking pricks they have behaved like? I know I've written about this before -- maybe 14 or 15 bailouts ago at this point -- but does anyone involved in the current administration get it that this kind of reaction will only ensure that this exact kind of behavior happens again? Not just out of our nation's banks, but all across this country? It is possible that the people in charge here just don't get that?

I don't think so. I just think they don't care. As I've also written about here many times, W's administration is the first time, in my lifetime at least, when the whole notion of a recession or any kind of a downturn at all has become absolutely unacceptable. Never mind that we've had a recession every 10-15 years in this country for the past, oh, forever. And no mind to the fact -- the fact -- that recessions are as much a natural and necessary part of this and any free-market economy as the economic booms are. But Once W was in office though, I guess that all has had to change. And these jackmonkeys will stop at literally nothing (obviously) to help prop things up artifically in a vain attempt to dig us out of the hole our own financial and Congressional leaders put us in. So I think there is no way that all of these supposedly smart people in the current administration could fail to realize how completely and utterly ridiculous the effects of bailing out every bad actor, ever reckless fool, ever greedy pig banker, auto executive, insurance chairperson, retailer, you name it, will be on commerce and risktaking in this country over the long term. They do realize it. They just don't care. If it helps artificially get us to the end of the current recession sooner, then the ends justify the means I guess.

Btw, don't think I didn't notice what Hank Paulson did again with this Citi bailout. After he and Bushie got on tv and told us ten weeks ago that taking the bad assets off of our nation's banking giants' books was the only way to save the banks of this country, and that it was absolutely crucial to do so as soon as humanly possible to stave off a severe crisis (hah hah!), Paulson went a couple of weeks ago as I wrote here and announced publicly that he won't be buying up any banks' assets at all, opting instead to use the TARP money that Congress approved for him to buy bank assets for capital infusions into the banks instead. While I believe this to be the right answer, the way he went about getting to that point, the back and forth, the clear confusion and panic involved in his process, pissed me off, and more than that, sent the markets on a nearly 10% tailspin over two days as investors reacted to the flim-flamming, and the clear lack of knowledge about how to fix this growing problem. Well, guess what, guys? The Fed, FDIC and Treasury actions over this past weekend with Citigroup amount to nothing short of just a fancy way of taking the bad assets off of Citi's books. So after intending to do this for all the banks, and then announcing he would do it for none of those banks, now I guess the plan is just to do it for the very worst-behaving, most reckless and just generally the biggest assholes of all the financial institutions in this country.

What. The. Fuck.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, November 24, 2008


It's vacation time again for the Hammer Family. This week we are packing up and taking the girls on their first real vacation since they are both what I would consider "grown up", at least to some degree. And by that I mean at least that they will remember this trip for more than a few weeks after we return home. I mean, we took a trip to the Southwest a couple of years ago -- I actually remember watching the very end of the Mookie at night from our living room -- but my little one was just a mere babe, sleeping in the crib in the bathroom as I recall while we tiptoed around desperately trying to avoid waking her up. This week, we're going tropical on their asses, heading to the Caribbean for a week to get away from it all, relax and show the girls a good time in the islands as it has gotten effing cold in a hurry here in New York.

"Getting away from it all" has really taken on new meaning this year. I've written quite a bit about this over the past several months, but from a stress perspective and just generally considering all the things I have had to worry about in 2008, this is easily the worst year I've had since, well, since I don't know. High school maybe? The year I was born was tough too, come to think of it. I mean, I couldn't walk, I couldn't talk, I didn't even know where I was or who I was. 0 was definitely a rough year. But 2008 is right up there with the worst of 'em. I am definitely one of the lucky ones who has a solid family situation with a great family and a bunch of A+ friends who have been there for me all through this year. And lord knows it could have been much worse, with me narrowly escaping the Lehman Brothers situation just weeks before the bankruptcy declaration, and I probably could have easily lost my job a couple of times over the past several months if things didn't go the right way. But between having it out with my boss to start off calendar year 2008, interviewing and getting job offers from two companies whose stocks have absolutey gone into the toilet this year thanks to the hammering of the financial services sector, before turning them both down for a big promotion at Lehman, and then having to sit and watch the slow-motion taking apart of that firm over the following several months from the inside, it was quite a first half of the year already.

And little did I know, things hadn't even started to really go downhill yet.

Throughout the summer, Lehman's stock tumbmled to fresh low after fresh low. There were many days when the stock price was so all anyone was looking at that we couldn't even consider doing any actual work. Sadly, there were so many of those days that it almost lost its effect, inuring us to that feeling of fear, of panic really, of total hopelessness. Eventually I gave up and started looking for another job again, which brought with it even more stress to go along with dealing with the day-to-day grind at Lehman. Then Hammer Wife and I decided it was time to move the family out of the city, adding yet another huge layer of difficulty to what was already a real pressure-cooker of a life I had going on.

In the end it all worked out, as we managed to get a great house just four days before the school year started, also four days before I started at my new job, which turned out to be fortuitous as it was exactly six days into my new job when Lehman Brothers went under, sparing off this sick plunge for stock prices that is still yet to reach its bottom. That said, a new job and a new house and all of course have brought with them their own new stresses that most of you out there are more than familiar with. And now the massive economic slowdown, I feel like I'm fighting for my job all over again. It has just been one thing after another after another for me almost since the minute that 2008 began.

And again, don't get me wrong -- I am well aware of how many people out there are grappling with things far worse than I. Millions of Americans are flat-out unemployed. People are sick, or worse yet, their families. Family problems, personal and emotional problems. Shit, just from a job perspective, guys like mutual fund managers and hedge fund managers have had it far worse than me this year, I freely understand that. But it's not a competition, and I'm not trying to say I have it worse or better than anyone else. All I'm saying is, I've been feeling for a long time like I need to just get the fawk away, from everything. Hopefully this week will bring me the quantum of solace I am looking for.

So as usual when I'm away, I don't know for sure just how much I'll be blogging while I'm gone. It looks like I will be bringing my laptop on our trip, and I learned this weekend that our hotel does in fact have high-speed internet in every room. So I may be totally off the grid for a few days, or I may be totally blogging every day like usual. Or it could be something in the middle, which I've done before, where I just link up some old posts or some posts in a certain category that I'm thinking about this week. We'll just have to wait and see. But either way, this is a week about relaxing and winding down for me, about adding to the huge list of awesome memories with my family, and giving my incredible girls a whole bunch of experiences they've never come close to taking in before. And no matter what happens with the blog this week, I will be back and better than ever next week with more of the same blogdonkery you've been getting here day in, day out for nearly four years.

Have a great week everyone, and an awesome Thanksgiving if I'm not around.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bear Markets and Recessions Take II

OK so remember that chart I put up a while back showing the magnitude of historical bear markets since 1914? Well here it is again, in case you missed it:

S&P Composite Price Index Bull and Bear Markets 1914-2008

Market TopIndex High% IncreaseMarket BottomIndex Bottom% Decrease
10/9/2007 1565.15 101.5% 11/20/2008 752.44 -51.9%
03/24/2000 1527.46 59.6% 10/9/2002 776.76 -49.2%
07/17/1998 1190.58 304.3% 10/08/1998 957.28 -19.6%
07/16/1990 369.78 67.1% 10/17/1990 294.51 -20.4%
08/25/1987 337.89 233.1% 12/04/1987 221.24 -34.5%
11/28/1980 140.52 61.7% 08/12/1982 101.44 -27.8%
09/21/1976 107.83 73.1% 03/06/1978 86.90 -19.4%
01/05/1973 119.87 73.0% 10/03/1974 62.28 -48.0%
11/29/1968 108.37 48.0% 05/26/1970 69.29 -36.1%
02/09/1966 94.06 79.8% 10/07/1966 73.20 -22.2%
12/12/1961 72.64 86.4% 06/26/1962 52.32 -28.0%
08/02/1956 49.75 267.2% 10/22/1957 38.98 -21.6%
05/29/1946 19.25 157.7% 06/13/1949 13.55 -29.6%
11/09/1938 13.79 62.2% 04/28/1942 7.47 -45.8%
03/10/1937 18.68 131.8% 03/31/1938 8.50 -54.5%
07/18/1933 12.20 120.6% 03/14/1935 8.06 -33.9%
09/07/1932 9.31 111.1% 02/27/1933 5.53 -40.6%
09/07/1929 31.86 408.9% 07/08/1932 4.41 -86.2%
07/16/1919 9.64 60.7% 08/24/1921 6.26 -35.1%
11/20/1916 10.55 59.1% 12/19/1917 6.00 -43.1%

The big change on this chart is on the top line, where I have updated the magnitude of this current bear market with the most current numbers, including Thursday's 11-year closing low on the S&P 500. As you can see, this leaves us now down just a shade under 52% from the peak of the broader market index in the U.S., all within approximately 13 months of action on Wall Street.

Interestingly, note that this update now officially makes the bear market of 2008 the 3rd worst in magnitude in the the U.S. going back as far as we have reliable index data to measure. Back a month ago or so when I first posted this, we were looking at a top-10 bear market but not even in the top 5 of all time, but now we are squarely beyond the dot-com bubble bursting of earlier this decade as well as the blistering bear of the 1970s. In fact, this is now the worst bear market ever recorded in this country that did not occur during the Great Depression. That's something interesting for you right there isn't it? It certainly gives a solid perspective into #1 just how bad this market action has been this year,and #2 how oversold U.S. stocks really are right now at this point.

So today I wanted to analyze a question which is certainly on my mind and the minds of investors all across this country and the world these days: what is the historical relationship between the stock market and recessions? In other words, what does the market typically do during recessions, when does it peak, and when does it bottom?

Luckily, there is much data with which to study the answer to this exact question, and the answer, at least in light of the last several recessions, falls into a very discernible pattern. Let's start by taking a look at the following charts, which show the action in the broad S&P 500 index during the last six recessions prior to this one:

The vertical lines in the above charts show first the peak of the business cycle (the beginning of a recession) and then the lows of that cycle (the end of the recession). Interestingly, the broader market does not tend to peak right along with the peak in the business cycle, and then to trough right along with the bottom of the recession; rather, the market tends to anticipate both the onset of a recession (dropping before the recession begins), and then also the recovery (rising before the recession ends). Using the history of the last six U.S. recessions as a guide, you can see pretty easily from the above charts that the stock market generally starts to fall before a recession starts -- probably contributing in some small, ironically circular way to igniting the recession in the first place -- and then it tends to fall very sharply during the first stage of a recession, but then it starts to recover in the late stages of a recession before the recession has reached its bottom -- again, ironically, probably helping trigger the recovery to some degree. If you look at those charts above, you can see this pattern quite clearly in each of the last six recessions in the U.S. Stock prices fall dramatically as the economy enters a recession, which we certainly have seen once again this time around in 2008. Then, the market begins its recovery from its own bottom some short time before the economy has gotten out of a recession.

You can also see quite clearly from the above charts that, in five of the last six recessions in America, the stock market peaks a few months before the actual start of the recession and starts falling even before the recession officially begins. This is why the stock market is often said to be a leading indicator with respect to business cycles, or a good predictor of what is to come as far as economic activity in this country.

So in sum, recent history shows with surprising repetition in patterns that when an economic recession is coming, stocks in this country tend to fall dramatically before the recession and during the first half or so of the recession, followed by a relatively sharp recovery in the late stages of a recession and helping to lift the economy out of negative GDP land.

So what does all this mean with respect to the current stock market situation? Well let's look at where we're at right now. The economic recession of 2008 officially began in the third quarter of this year, as the Q3 GDP was the first quarterly GDP number to go negative (-0.3%, as reported earlier this month and in my view likely to be revised slightly lower when it is re-reported in December). Realistically, we will probably be viewed as officially turning negative in GDP sometime in August, and most definitely by September when Lehman Brothers fell and the entire financial world starting turning on its head. And let's look now at the 1-year chart of the S&P 500 index:

And there you can see the S&P 500 falling from around 1426 in May down to right around 1200 in August, just before the recession began. So, so far we're right on pattern with the noticeable drop in advance of the recession beginning in August, and now a sharp drop as the recession has begun in earnest for the past 4 or 5 months now. So the next thing we should be looking for is for the market to stop falling and eventually start recovering, somewhere around halfway through the recession as has happened in the recent past.

Most economists are predicting no economic recovery of any substance until sometime in mid-2009. I think that is a reasonable assumption. Just how strong that eventual recovery is still very much remains to be seen, and probably has a whole lot to do with what the government does to help stimulate things between the time when Barack Obama takes office in late January and next summer. But for the sake of argument, let's call this a full-year-long recession -- longer than the average, but perhaps a reasonable assumption given the massive credit bubble that has burst all over the country over the past year -- which would mean that the recession lasts from August 2008 through August 2009. If the market continues to fall until roughly halfway through the recession as has been the pattern over the six recessions immediately preceding this one, then we are looking at a market bottom sometime around January or February of 2009. In truth, the charts above show the market generally bottom either a little bit before or a little bit after the midpoint of the recession, but generally speaking, it makes sense that this market should bottom sometime around the beginning of the new year. This would coincide very nicely with Barack Obama's assumption of the presidency in late January of next year. It seems reasonable to me that the market will likely be putting in a bottom sometime between now and late January / early February, with hopefully the onset of a new beginning and the merciful end of the Bush administration sparking a nice optimism rally on Wall Street.

So if there's one glass-half-full thing to be said about the ludicrous stock market declines over the past year, it's that history shows us with somewhat shocking regularity that we are likely very close to the bottom of the current down cycle for U.S. stocks. This is true both in magnitude of the loss -- as we are now saddled with the third-largest decline in stock prices of all time in this country -- and the time until the gains resume, judging from recent history of recessions and bear markets in the U.S. Anyone with any cash who is looking to get in to the market at good, solid prices, ones which have 120 of the 500 "blue chip" stocks in the S&P 500 trading below $10 a share (the largest percentage in history, and more than double the amount of blue-chips below $10 in the last recession in 2002), should with all luck have a fairly easy time picking winners anywhere around current levels, which are not likely to continue to exist much beyond the new year if history is a good guide. I've said it before and I'll say it again -- you don't make money in the stock market by running away when everyone else is running away as well. It's kinda like poker in a way, where you generally profit from playing tight at a loose table, and loose at a tight table. With stocks, never forget the old adage: buy low, and sell high. If you can't see that this is one of those "low" times, then you are likely in need of the mostly costly eye exam you might ever fail to get.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Still Running Sick, and Another Poker Book Review

Well, I took a couple of days away from poker after last week's hideous streak of 2- and 3-outer bad beats. I showed up for one tournament last night, and promptly got it allin preflop with my JJ against my opponent's TT. Ten on the flop and IGH early. That makes three consecutive oustings from that particular tournament where I got it allin with my opponent having three or fewer outs. Lately in there I've been waiting until after the flop though, so I guess I have myself to blame for believing I could hold up as a mere 82% favorite with the way I'm running.

Should make for a fun Mookie tonight though, as I make my triumphant return to Fuck Tilt. 10pm ET on full tilt. Mookie Curse + already losing to 2 outers all week long should equal a brilliant burnout early in this one. Just hope you're at my starting table this evening. And don't worry about trying to get it in behind -- I've been taking care of that just fine lately myself, as I am consistently getting myself into good situations, playing my strong hands optimally to get myself into the best possible positions. Yes, I want people to make those calls, yes I want to be in these situations as much as possible, yes the long term should work itself out yaddayaddayadda blahblahblahblahblah. Pay me bitches!!

So back to the poker book I mentioned last week that was a good, solid read, I was referring to Gus Hansen's "Every Hand Revealed". This was the one that jeciimd had recommended to me, and I have to say that guy hasn't given me one bad poker rec yet. Hansen's book is solid, because he basically recounts the entire background and situation of every single hand he played in the entire Aussie Millions tournament that he ended up winning. I mean, deep down I know exactly why I enjoyed this book -- it is more or less exactly like reading one of my tournament recaps in my blog, only by a better player. He does basically exactly what I do when I win a big tournament, only he literally mentions every single hand he played, while I skip the most boring ones in my tournament recaps and probably only end up covering maybe 60-70% of the hands I play throughout.

Gus does a good job with this book, largely because his style of play is so aggro that it is a real eye-opener to most of the people reading this book I imagine. In fact, kinda like I said about Arnold Snyder's "Poker Tournament Formula" books, if you are someone who has never won the big mtt and does not really understand why you're never getting close, if you're a Harringbot or a tightydonk like I know many of you out there reading this are, this would be a fabulous book for you to read. You will see just how many times Hansen opened a hand with a raise when his cards were absolute and utter shit. You will see the moves Gus makes without any regard whatsoever to his own cards, just playing his opponents instead. You can watch Gus play a tight(er) style early, and then get to see hand by hand how he opens things up as the tournament wears on. Any of you out there who have won large mtt's before already know this in general -- because there really is no way to win a large mtt without being one stealy mofo -- but for the majority of you who have not, I think reading "Every Hand Revealed" should be enjoyable and educational. And, although Gus shares the same (lack of) writing skill as almost all other poker authors out there, his writing does have a very informal and laid-back thing to it that makes this book seem much less instructive and much more just a fun read, which is also a positive I think.

I've already started reading a new poker book that I am really enjoying, which I will review in a later post. But after slogging through Daniel Negreanu's clunker a couple of weeks ago, Gus Hansen's book was a welcome and pleasant surprise, and it's a book that I would recommend to others to read if you like playing multi-table poker tournaments. I give it a 7.5 out of 10 overall. I don't see myself as the best audience for this text as I was not surprised to see most of the moves Gus makes in that I know what it takes to run deep in the big mtts, but I still had a great time with it and I look forward to more of the same from Gus if he can string together some more big tournament wins.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

And On to the Auto Industry

It turns out the investment banks were just the first companies to feel the brunt of the massive economic dislocation that all started from the credit crisis now some 18 months ago. Bear Stearns' sudden collapse last spring turned out to be just the beginning of the woes for the independent investment bank model, with Lehman Brothers declaring the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history in September, and Merrill Lynch turning itself over in a firesale to larger Bank of America. The rest of the regional and money center banks soon followed suit, with their stocks all suffering huge declines over the past couple of months, the primary driver behind the major U.S. indices' runs to several fresh multi-year lows this fall, including as of Monday's close where the Nasdaq is at a fresh 5 1/2-year low and the S&P 500 sits just 2 points above it own early November nadir. Since then, most sectors of the market have taken massive lumps, with scares especially focusing on homebuilders, insurers, and lately retail as well as the consumer appears to have finally rolled over after years (decades, really) of spending far more than we make, as a country overall.

Now the latest victims are the automakers, with GM and Ford shares both sitting at or just above multi-decade lows, and the business of these once-proud American institutions severely broken. And naturally, we've got the short-sighted pro-spending clowns in Congress -- this time it happens to be the Democrats, but we all should know that over the balance of this year it's been as much the Republicans as anyone -- pushing to "bail out" the automakers by simply throwing money at them. The Democrats' proposal, championed by House Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, involves emergency loans of some $25 billion to the Big Three, in the hopes that this can tide these companies over until the economy recovers enough to repair their ailing businesses.

As bailouts have become all the rage during a truly ridiculous 2008 in America, the simple solution so supported by the current administration has just been to throw money at our problems. And not just thousands, or even millions or hundreds of millions. Billions of dollars. Just throw it at the problem, and it will go away. We can see how well that seems to be helping the banks, mostly all of which are right up against fresh multi-year lows of their own even after Treasury has spent now some $270 billion of taxpayer money under the TARP program to prop up their balance sheets with capital infusions. And you know what? This would be an even stupider approach for the car companies in this country.

These bozos in Congress fail to understand even the most basic precept of economics and finance. Throwing money at a problem to make it go away carries with it an implicit assumption, without which simply donating cash to an enterprise or an industry cannot possibly be expected to do anything but delay the inevitable. For capital infusions alone to work to save a company or a sector of the economy, the underlying business models need to be strong and viable. Throwing money at a problem can work when the only issue is a short-term cash flow problem, where the cash infusion will help a company bridge the time until the economy or other external factors will stabilize and allow their underlying successful businesses to recover on their own. But if you take a business that has been slowly dying for, say, 30 or 40 years like GM and Ford, and simply give them money, that's not a bridge loan. That's like emptying your wallet down the garbage disposal, and turning it on high. To use a better example, it's like pouring more and more water into a bucket with a huge, gaping hole at the bottom. Give GM and Ford and Chrysler $8 billion each without requiring massive changes among those three companies -- not just requiring them to submit a plan for change like the Harry Reid proposal would -- and you might as well circle the date, sometime in late 2009 / early 2010, where we'll be right back here having these exact same discussions, only all of our wallets will be $25 billion lighter.

The U.S. auto industry is so horribly run, it's seriously laughable to hear about it even if you don't have any understanding whatsoever about the industry as a whole. You don't need one to get just how funked up these companies' business models are. GM's market share in the United States sat at a whopping 53% back in 1966. Now it sits at 20%. And it's still dropping. And yet GM has done nothing to right itself, to reorganize, in all those years, longer than many of us reading this today have even been alive. Ford is in a very similar situation. The leadership of these companies, weighed down by one of the strongest unions in the world today, has remained paralyzed since the friggin 1960's, and as a result, these companies have been literally dying a slow death for more than four decades.

Everyone knows that Japanese automakers Honda and Toyota came onto the scene in America in the 1980's and basically took over. The Accord and the Camry became the gold standard of efficient cars driven in the U.S., and have led this country in sales for well more than a decade among car purchases. It is well known that one of the keys to Honda and Toyota's success in this country has been their focus, both marketing-wise and cost-wise, as Toyota has just three car brands in America, and Honda has just two. GM, meanwhile, continues to push on with eight brands -- GMC, Pontiac, Buick, Cadillac, Saab, Saturn, Chevrolet and Hummer -- many of them purchased during the past decade or so as it is. It's not that some of these are bad cars per se, but the inability to focus on fewer brands definitely hurts the company's ability to drive market share, in the U.S. and abroad. Not to mention that each of one these brands carries its own cost structure, from a General Manager and his or her management chain, down to brand managers and marketing folks, its own finance group, its own chain of dealers, distributors, etc. This is incredibly costly, and while their Japanese counterparts have whittled these cost lines down to just a few, GM continues to this day to have to pay eight sets of each of these lines of employees, contributing greatly to the massive problems with the company's cost structure. And here we are today.

And let's talk about those dealers for a minute. The Wall Street Journal reported the other day that GM has around 7000 car dealers in the U.S. Seven thousand dealerships. In contrast, Toyota has just over 1400, and Honda close to 1000. Is it any wonder which company's sales model works the best? And yet, GM has done nothing to change this bloated dealership structure. A system with fewer, more centralized dealers is well known and understood to be more efficient, again from a marketing, inventory and maintenance perspective, a premise with which GM management does not argue. But it would be a very expensive and politically unpopular process for GM to eliminate nearly 80-85% of their dealerships, so they just haven't done it. For nearly 30 years now. Toyota and Honda have been eating GM and Ford's lunch, and these companies simply refuse to take the admittedly painful steps needed in order to align these companies with their competitors, and with efficient business practice. And here we are today.

And now let's look at employee costs, which is perhaps the biggest bugaboo of all for companies like GM. Honda and Toyota pay their American workers more or less the same as GM and Ford do. But in its ultimate wisdom in the 1980's, GM pushed for the creation of the Jobs Bank program with the United Auto Workers Union, which guarantees nearly full wages and benefits for workers who lose their jobs due to automation or plant closure. GM originally pushed for the Jobs Bank to help prop up workers' productivity as it looked to automate certain manufacturing functions in its plants, but today the Jobs Bank saddles the company with massive employment and benefits costs for people who aren't even working, yet another significant competitive disadvantage compared to its foreign company peers operating in the U.S. And here we are today.

Moreover, it's a well-known fact that the U.S. automakers, and GM in particular, spend massive amounts on healthcare and other employee benefits as compared to almost all other industries in the country. A lot of this is again due to the significant presence and power of unions in the automaking space, but the companies themselves can be blamed to a large extent for allowing themselves to be negotiated into positions where they are simply losing money hand over fist as a result of employee costs. GM currently pays benefits for more retirees than it does current workers. Is that even believable? After many plant closures over the past few years, GM still owns or leases many properties currently not in use, and yet it is contractually obligated to pay interest on bonds that were issued by municipalities to build these facilities, even though no revenues are currently being derived from the properties. And here we are today.

And let's not forget the companies' manufacturing focus over the past few years as trends have been shifting in the consumer marketplace. While Ford and GM have remained focused on the production of heavy trucks and SUVs that were so popular during the 1990s and earlier part of this decade, consumers have clearly begun shifting to smaller, more cost-effective and fuel-efficient vehicles over the past few years. So while cars like the Toyota Prius and other hybrids produced in growing numbers in this country by Honda have grown in popularity and sales, GM and Ford's factories remain tooled for production of larger vehicles, contributing greatly to the slowdown in sales in the Big Three U.S. automakers. And here we are today.

So there you go. GM and its competitors are not in any way, shape or form experiencing just a short-term cash flow problem. This is a long-term, systemic weakness in the very infrastructure of these companies, leading GM and Ford to be habitual moneylosers. If we just blindly throw $25 billion -- or a hundred billion dollars, for that matter -- at these firms, we are simply putting off the inevitable. And I'm not interested in having my money go towards that, like I assume you out there reading this aren't either. And don't get me wrong -- I actually am not in favor of telling the U.S. auto industry to go screw. Although of course indsutry lobbyists are overblowing this as they attempt to secure a bailout package for the American car companies, there is no doubt in my mind that the economic fallout from allowing Ford, GM and Chrysler to go bankrupt -- which is exactly what will happen within a year at most if nothing is done -- would be huge, and unnecessarily so. Much like I've said time and time again here about Barack Obama's planned tax hikes for those making over $250,000 a year, this is simply not the time or the place to be allowing one of the largest industries in the country to completely go to pot.

Instead of viewing the automakers crisis as yet another huge problem for the current or incoming administration to have to deal with, I view this as a tremendous opportunity for someone to take charge, fix a long-term problem, and help to lead this country into the next generation in terms of dependence on foreign oil. I don't have any problem providing emergency funds to a key industry in this country. But I wouldn't even consider giving it to them under their current cost structures and with their current business models, like Harry Reid's recent push in Congress would do. What we need to do is have someone take charge of this situation, and tell GM, Ford and Chrysler that they can have their $25 billion apiece, but only once they make the massive, sweeping changes in their models that will enable them to survive as ongoing concerns after this money is paid. So they can have $25 billion apiece, money they desperately need to fund their operations right now, but only if they start by completely overhauling their cost structures, aligning the benefits they pay more closely with those of the rest of the country, regardless of how they have done things in the past or what the over-powerful union leaders claim to be willing to agree to. If he or she has to, the person to take charge of fixing this industry will likely need to tell the unions to kiss his or her ass, something which the incoming administration has not shown a willingness to do previously given its generally pro-union stance. We also need to condition the money on these companies' totally reducing their distribution / dealership structures, again to more closely align them with what a company would do if they actually wanted to be profitable in this space.

I don't know if we specifically need to require a company like GM to reduce its number of brands, but the fact of the matter is that reducing their cost structures like these firms all need to probably would require some siginificant reduction from a brand perspective. Such a reduction would also clearly help increase demand for its vehicles over the long-run, using the model of the foreign car companies in the U.S., and the dealership and branding changes would also greatly increase these companies' ability to provide excellent service on the vehicles they do sell in this country, also long thought to be a problem for U.S. cars relative to their foreign company counterparts. And while we're on the topic of branding, one of the key moves we should make as far as conditions for GM, Ford and Chrysler to access the money they need to survive this downturn is an absolute requirement for production of large numbers of significantly more fuel-efficient / hybrid vehicles. If I were in charge, I would literally tell these companies that in order to get their money, they need to not only overhaul their cost and distribution infrastructures, but also that, within a short period of time -- say a couple of years max -- 50% of the vehicles they produce need to get at least 50 miles per gallon. Period. It's a tall order, I am well aware, but it's doable. Many of the most popular hybrid-type vehicles out there today in this country already run their first 40 miles on pure battery power, using no gasoline at all for what amounts to 90% of the trips made in these cars. The long-term effect on the environment and on our country's abundance of natural resources, as well as our dependence on foreign oil and our ability to have our fortunes controlled by countries whose interests are often directly opposed to our own, is probably the single greatest benefit of this entire plan.

With any luck, this ill-informed push by the House Democrats will fall flat on its face as far as simply throwing money at the U.S. automakers without flat-out requiring them first to make all the hard decisions and necessary changes to align their companies with other similar entities in the U.S. that are actually designed to make a profit and give a good return on the taxpayers' investment of any bailout funds. This would amount to an irresponsible and really downright wasteful attempt to spend our own hard-earned money in a time when such money is increasingly scarce, and supporters of this bill in Congress ought to be ashamed of themselves. As I said above, I don't view this as a massive crisis so much as a tremendous opportunity for a leader to step up, to insist on fixing the massive problems plaguing one of the key industries in American manufacturing for the past several decades, and most of all, to help the environment and to help keep oil prices down for the rest of time. Normally one simply does not have the practical ability to force these kinds of changes down the throats of any companies, especially in our "capitalist" system, but the current crisis in the automaking industry presents a literal once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a massive difference and a massive change for the better for every American. Throwing that opportunity away by simply handing over cash with no strings attached to these firms, thereby all but ensuring they will run out of money again in the near future, would be in my opinion a far worse error than the car companies' refusal to fix their own business models over the past several decades.

Labels: , ,

Monday, November 17, 2008

FTOPS Main Event

So earlier this week I had written about losing around $2000 of cash on three separate 2- or 3-outers on the river, all occuring when the money got in after the flop. It's something I've been focusing on for a good couple of years now, a strategy which I see most the great professional mtt players follow fairly religiously in the tournaments they play in -- almost to a man, these guys hate to get it allin without the mortal, uncatchable nuts. So I've been trying to do less and less of the get-it-allin-well-ahead before the flop stuff, even though I used to do that all the time. I've written about it here countless times over the past couple of years, but after getting it in ahead and taking the number of suckouts that I take,I have really been focusing on turning those 80% favorite hands before the flop into 90%+ favorites after the flop by waiting an extra round or two before getting all the money into the middle.

So there I was earlier this week, running in "the" 40k, "the" 32k, and those juicy turbo satellites into the FTOPS Main Event, getting knocked out of all three on either 2-outers or 3-outers despite waiting until after the flop to get all the money in to the middle. What does this mean, exactly? I'm talking about having pocket Tens in the small blind, and the cutoff bumps it up on a typical steal-raise, and rather than push my last 20 big blinds into the middle right there preflop when I'm fairly sure I'm ahead, I figure I will wait until the flop, and just give myself a chance to get away where the donkey with the A4o would have spiked his Ace on the flop and taken me out. So I just call, the flop comes all rags, and then by checking I induce my opponent to push allin on me. I flip up my Tens and he shows pocket 9s. 9 on the river, and IGH. When you've played 3 or 4 hours into tournaments over the previous few days and that has been the way it's ended for you just short of where the money really gets big three separate times, it can be very hard to swallow.

Then, one day after writing about this was when I made that fantastic run deep into the 50-50 on full tilt which I wrote about on Thursday and Friday of last week. This is the one where I picked up my first premium pair of the entire night in pocket Kings with exactly 10 players remaining out of the 1195 who started, the guppy chip leader calls my preflop pot-sized reraise with 75o, pushes all-in to me on a 7-high flop and then manages to suck out the river 7 to eliminate me in tenth place despite playing the hand about as poorly as it could have been played on every single street. That was conservatively another $4000 or so of Tournament EV added to my already $2000 from earlier in the week, all raped away from me by river suckouts after I managed to get myself in well ahead in key spots in big tournaments.

Well, Sunday night this weekend was the FTOPS Main Event, which I did play in, and played in very well might I add. I managed to chip up on several hands, mostly bluffs of course, in the first hour or two, and my first really big hand did not occur until just about two full hours in to the event. It's worthy of some screenshots, because hand histories just don't do these things justice all the time.

So I'm around 33% above the starting stack, right around average just short of two hours in to the Main Event. I pick up pocket 3s on the button, and since I've done my usual thing and been a stealy mofo throughout the tournament so far, of course I have to raise here so I go for my standard 3x raise to 480 chips. The small blind, a guy who had tried at least one time previously to move me off of a hand he thought I was stealing with by using a minraise, which he quickly folded to my pot-reraise, reraises me here with a below-average stack:

Now, even though I obviously don't have the odds to properly set mine, the bottom line was that this guy had gotten out of line a couple of times already, I figured there was a very good chance I was already ahead and that he would push any raggy flop allin on me from first position. So I went for the call:

The flop comes down T73 rainbow -- my only flopped set of the day -- and my opponent bets a big portion of his stack but not all of it:

OK so now I can whittle down his range of hands to literally just a few, all of which I am crushing. To not push allin here, he either hit top pair top kicker with AT, or better yet, he has AA-QQ and desperately thinks he's going to double up here, with a small chance that he might have flopped a higher set with 77 or TT given his please-call-me bet here on that short stack of his. Either way, I am content to play this one slow, just in case, so I just callin the hopes of seeing the turn card before committing the rest of his stack to the pot. In keeping with the tournament strategy I mentioned above and have written about incessantly here for the past couple of years, waiting until after the turn will just give me that much more information, and maybe if an Ace, King or Queen falls, and he does something that really indicates a higher set, I can at least consider getting away from the hand, unlikely though that may be:

So the turn comes and it is basically another rag, after which my opponent quickly pushes all in:

So here I am, I've waited until after the turn card here, and there is just nothing on this board that can possibly get me to fold here. My opponent's actions are consistent with a high pocket pair, and I nailed his ass by flopping the set on the flop in a spot where he rightfully assumes I have been stealing with air all along. I've seen all the cards but the last card with my deceptively strong hand, and my opponent has forced me to a decision for the rest of his stack. I've lessened the risk of my getting drawn out on significantly by not only waiting until after the flop but also until after the turn. What more can I do, I can't fold here obviously. So I call, with much confidence:

Booooom. Well played with the one pair for a just under the average stack in a $535 buyin tournament.

River card:

2-outer on the river, after waiting for not just the flop but even the turn before getting the last half of my opponent's stack into the middle. Sound fucking familiar?

Now granted, it was early enough in this thing still, with some 2500 runners remaining and only nearly 800 making the cash, that it is very difficult to ascribe an actual cash value to that disgusting, despicable suckout. Maybe just a couple hundred bucks, being fair to the math. But who knows what this could have turned in to. And like I've been saying all fucking week, it hurts especially much when I am going out of my damn way to decrease my risk by waiting to see as many cards as possible on the board before getting the majority of the money into the middle, even when I'm fairly sure I'm ahead on an earlier street. I mean, higher pocket pair losing to lower pocket pair allin preflop is bad enough. That is an 82% favorite or so in most cases, and anytime you lose a big stack on that kind of a dominated hand, it just feels wrong. But when I've got the Tens over the Nines after the flop and the money goes in, that is what, a 91% favorite? So this week alone, I lost two 91% hands and one three-outer on the flop as well for an 88% hand, all in key spots in big tournaments with real cash on the line. Then I closed that week out by getting beat after the fucking turn card with a 2-outer for a 95% favorite, up in flames, in the biggest tournament of them all.

I mean, what do you do when even 19-to-1 isn't good enough to double up in a huge spot in a $2.5 million guaranteed tournament?

It isn't often that I wake up the next morning still feeling physically ill about a bad beat. In fact, it's been years now since I almost ever care about a bad beat even an hour or so later. But this one, coming on the heels of a week of close calls, deep runs and horrible anal rapages, is really clinging with me. Someone think of something to say to put this into perspective please.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, November 14, 2008

50-50 Final Table Hand Revisited

On Thursday I wrote about the silly suckout that knocked me out of the 50-50 on the final table bubble on Wednesday night, netting me about $900 cash but raping me of an expected value from the tournament that was probably closer to $3000 or so before the suckout occurred, and significantly higher once I was a better than 4-to-1 favorite to become the chip leader with ten players remaining in the tournament with just one river card to come. In the comments to Thursday's post it was suggested that my opponent did not make a bad play by pushing in his entire chip-leading stack on a massive overbet to the size of the pot when he flopped 743 rainbow with his holding of 75o. This strikes me as a particuarly bad play -- in fact as the very worst of the chipleader's options in this spot -- but I always focus on keeping an open mind about things so I spent my entire train ride home on Thursday with a pen and some paper trying to work this question out and see if my math instincts, which do not usually lead my astray, might have done just that on this one. As I worked through the problem it occurred to me this might be a fun blog post. So here we are. And keep in mind, I am well aware that solving this sort of problem in a poker context requires one to make about 8500 assumptions, all of which are challengeable if you want to, but without assuming many things there is simply no way to compare the worth of one play versus another. So I'm going to solve this the way I believe Sklansky, Harrington, etc. would approach it, having read pretty much all of their books.

OK so to review and give you the whole setup, there are 10 players left in the 50-50. This was a larger than usual 50-50 with just under 1100 runners, a good 10-15% more entrants than this thing has been attracting most weeknights these days, and this number of players equates to approximately 2.1 million chips in play. The approximate payouts for the top 10 spots range from $900 for 10th place, $1000 for 9th, $1200 for 8th, $1600 for 7th, $2100 for 6th, $2700 for 5th, $3500 for 4th, $4600 for 3rd, $7000 for 2nd place and up to just about $11,000 for first place, for a total distrubtion to the final 10 finishers of $35,600. For lack of any better way of determining the players' relative Expected Value of the Tournament in cold, hard cash (TEV), I will add up all the money available in the remaining prize pool ($35,600), and I will assume that each player's TEV share of that $35,600 prize pool is equal to their proportion of the total chips in play with 10 players remaining, multiplied by the total prize pool left to be distributed. As I mentioned above, this obviously is not an exact science, but I can't think of a more accurate way than this of determining what each player is likely to win given their current chip stack and the money available to the remaining players in payouts in this event.

One important caveat I will have to follow about using this TEV formula, however, is that it very quickly gets out of whack once one player amasses more than, say, 20% of the outstanding chips with still a full table of players remaining. This is because the first prize of 11k is itself only less than a third of the total $35,600 prize pool to be paid out to the top 10 finishers in the 50-50, so if one player has, say, half the chips, it's not like his Tournament EV is actually half of $35,600, since the maximum he could possibly win by taking down the entire tournament is only the 11k first prize. So, once we get above around 20% of the chips in play with ten players remaining, I can't use this simple TEV formula anymore since it leads to TEV outcomes that are highly skewed to the upside. So for those calculations in the below solution, I will explain the alternative formula I have opted to use instead as I go through it.

So here is a chart of the approximate chipcounts of the 10 remaining players and the respective Tournament Expected Value (TEV) of each player in the tournament given their current chip stack when this problem occurred:

Player     Chips  TEV
Player 1   440k  $7120 (Villian)
Player 2   290k  $4692
Player 3   270k  $4369
Player 4   250k  $4045
Player 5   240k  $3883 (Me)
Player 6   190k  $3075
Player 7   170k   $2750
Player 8   140k  $2265
Player 9   120k  $1942
Player 10  90k   $1456

Again, these TEV figures come from simply taking each player's proportion of the total 2.2 million chips in play, and calculating an equal proportion of the $35,600 in total prize money available.

So, Player 1, the Villain in this hand, has an expected value from this tournament of $7120 right now before the hand in question, due mainly to the fact that he has almst exactly one-fifth of the total chips in play, giving his an excellent chance of nabbing one of the top few cash payouts in the prize pool. I should note that his nearly 20% of the outstanding chips is right up against the point I mentioned above where my simple TEV formula starts to skew, but even if this $7120 figure is skewed by his 20% of the outstanding chips, it is only skewed by a little bit, a couple hundred chips maximum in any event. So I'm sticking with the $7120 as Villain's starting TEV for this problem, although if you prefer to think of it as $7000, or even as low as maybe $6800 or so, I can't really say that is any more or less accurate than the $7120 figure I am using. Anyways, my TEV at the time this hand occurred was $3883, as I had just over 10% of the chips in play and thus my TEV is very close to the average of all payouts remaining in the pool.

OK on to the hand in question. Villain, the significant chip leader, is in the small blind and the action folds around to him. He looks down to find 75o. He should probably fold here, but I'm not gonna kill him for trying to pad his chip lead at a time when everyone else is probably going to be playing tight, scared of missing the final table. So he raises the 5000-chip blind around the size of the pot to $18,500, bringing his chip stack down to 421k (these numbers are not necessarily exact, but they're all very close). I wake up in the big blind with pocket Kings, my first premium pair of the entire tournament. No point in slow-playing this, I don't want to go up against the big stack here on the literal final table bubble with a hand that's going to be hard to lay down, so I bump it up by the size of the pot again, to 55k, bringing my chip stack down to 185k. Villain calls -- with 75o!! -- which was a horrible, horrid, putrid play that stinks so bad I can still smell it here more than 30 hours later, making his stack now 384k.

The flop comes down 743, rainbow. Villain has flopped top pair and a 5 kicker. He also has an inside straight draw. As I even just begin to ponder how much I love this raggy flop in this key spot for me, Villain instantly pushes allin for 384k into a 113k pot. I think for about 2 seconds and then of course I call for all my chips, the turn is a raggy 9 but the river brings a 7, giving the Villain trips and sending me home in 10th place for the $900 final table bubble payout. I know I played this hand optimally, so I don't have any doubts at all about my own play, but my feeling when I posted on Thursday was that Villain's allin insta-overpush on the flop against my preflop reraise was a bad move that clearly cost Villain TEV over time. Some comments said otherwise. So let's work it out.

Remember, the starting point here is that Villain comes into the hand with 440k in chips, and thus an TEV of this tournament of $7120.

The first, and really the central, issue in this hand is what is my hand range for me to pot-reraise the chip leader preflop for over 25% of my stack here on the final table bubble. The answer is that this is a hugely tight range of only the absolute very best hands. He is the chip leader, and we're right on the final table bubble. Now, with ATs or something like that, it is unlikely but I suppose conceivable that I might push allin on a reraise. I actually would fold a hand like that in this spot, but trying to get into Villain's head, maybe he could think that way. But to only pot-reraise as opposed to pushing allin, with about 27% of my stack into the pot preflop, against the chip leader, on the literal final table bubble with the payouts just about to start really escalating, a reasonable hand range for me is AA-JJ, and AK. That's it. Perhaps he could think I would make this move with AQ as well, although of course in reality I would not. I might reraise allin, and I might (more likely) fold to his preflop raise given that this is the final table bubble and he is the chip leader, but no way in hike I pot-reraise with AQ there. So it's AA-JJ or AK, and maybe he would throw AQ in there as well. That's it.

The next assumption is to predict what I'm going to do with each of those hands to his massive insta-allin overbet on the flop. This one is easy. I'm folding the AK (or AQ), and I'm calling with all the big pairs. He was making a move from the small blind, I had been playing fairly tight while he had been an uber-calling donkey for the last hour or so, and I felt more or less positive that I was well ahead of anything he might have been holding as soon as he did not re-reraise me before the flop. His allin massive overbet insta-push on the flop absolutely iced it for me. AA or a flopped set would never, ever do that in this spot for fear of losing me, and would surely require at least a few moments of thought as to how to extract the most chips from me with such a flop. So I'm calling 100% of the time with AA-JJ, and folding 100% of the time with AK, or AQ if you think that's in my range.

So let's look at the structured hand analysis of how likely each of those hands is for me. There are 6 ways to make each pocket pair of JJ, QQ, KK and AA, and there are 12 ways to make AK (and AQ). So there are either 36 hands in my total range (if AQ is not included), or 48 hands in the range (if AQ is included), and in both cases 24 of them are pocket pairs which call 100% of the time in this spot.

So, moving on to the math, let's see what happens to his stack and with what probabilities, and thus what happens to that $7120 TEV he started the hand with, once he pushes allin on the flop. He should figure, if he is behind (he always will be if I call), he has 9 outs (two more 7s, four 6s and three 5s), discounted a bit for my redraws to trips with my pocket pair and better two-pair hands:

If AQ is not in my hand range, so it is just AA-JJ and AK:

66.7% of the time, I have a pocket pair (24 out of 36 possible hands), which I call with every time given the circumstances. In this case:

(1) Villain will win 36% of the time with his 9 outs twice, discounted slightly for my redraws. If he wins the 483k pot, his stack jumps to 682k, giving him around 31% of the chips in play and a very high likelihood of nabbing one of the top 3 payouts. Unfortunately here we cannot use my Tournament EV formula, because it would equate with him having a TEV of around $11,100, or higher than the first place payout, which of course makes no sense whatsoever since the maximum he can possibly win by winning this tournament outright is the $11,000 first prize, and there is still an entire final table of players to get through. This is exactly the skew I was referencing earlier with my TEV formula once someone starts amassing a huge portion of the remaining chips with more than a few players remaining. So for Villain if he beats me here, we will have to devise a different method of computing his Tournament EV. To do this, let's instead just intuit that, with 31% of the chips outstanding and 10 players remaining, he has just a 10% chance of missing the top 3 payouts, paying him an average of $2000 if he does, and a 20% chance of ending in 3rd place ($4600), 30% of second place ($7000) and 40% of ending in 1st place ($11,000). This equates to a Tournament EV of $200 + $920 + $2100 + $4400 = $7620.

At first glance this may not sound right because his TEV with 440k in chips was already $7120, and now with another 245k in chips on top, the TEV only rises another $500 or so. But in reality this makes perfect sense. With ten players left, there is only so close to the $11,000 first prize that one's Tournament EV can ever come. So much can happen, so much is still dependent on luck, that with 10 players left it's going to be nearly impossible to nab a TEV much higher than 2/3 or so of the first prize payout. So $7620 for Villain's TEV if he wins my stack seems about right to me.

(2) Villain will lose 64% of the time to my higher pocket pair, in which case his stack drops to 199k. At 199k, his TEV drops to $3220 from the $7120 it began the hand with.

So, to summarize, 66.7% of the time when he pushes, I have a pocket pair and will call. When that happens, 36% of the time he wins anyways and his TEV climbs to $7620. 64% of the time he loses and his TEV drops to $3220.

What happens the other 33.3% of the time, when I have AK? I fold, so Villain automatically wins the 483k pot, bringing his stack up to 517k. Once again my original TEV formula is going to produce a TEV value skewed too high with Villain then holding nearly a quarter of the total chips in play with still 10 players remaining, so let's intuit again for a bit. With 517,000 out of 2.2 million chips, let's figure he has a 15% chance of missing the top 3 payouts for an average payout of $2000, an 18% chance of 3rd place for $4600, a 28% chance of 2nd place for $7000 and a 39% chance of first place for $11,000. This equates to a Tournament EV of $300 + $828 + $1960 + $4290 = $7378. Again, not much higher than his TEV with 440k chips and ten players remaining before the hand even started. Of course these numbers are all so inexact and you could adjust them here and there however you want, but my point is, his TEV does not rise much by getting me to fold and bumping his stack up another 113k with still ten players left.

OK, so for the grand summary, when Villain pushes allin on this flop, 66.7% of the time, I have a pocket pair and will call. When that happens, 36% of those times he wins anyways and his TEV climbs to $7620. 64% of those times he loses and his TEV drops to $3220. In the other 33.3% of cases, I have AK and I fold, raising his TEV to $7378.

Now we can easily figure out his overall TEV from the above probabilities and values. Remember, he started with a TEV of $7120 before this hand began.

66.7% (I call) x 36% (he wins anyways) = TEV of $7620.
66.7% (I call) x 64% (he loses) = TEV of $3220
33.3% (I fold) = TEV of $7378

Adding these three mutually exclusive outcomes up, we have $1829.71 + $1374.55 + $2456.87 = $5661.13. Villain's Tournament EV from pushing allin on the flop against a guy with a range of AA-JJ or AK who will call with any of the pairs and fold the AK, drops from $7120 to $5661.13. That right there is a hugely bad play for Villain, which is what I felt at the time. As chip leader with these payouts now all within reach, making that overpush is a major mistake. Now of course there are a million different assumptions and guesses thrown in to the above calculation, but hopefully it is clear that my results are so far below the $7120 TEV that he started with, that it is obvious the play is a bad one regardless of my being a little bit off here or there. He simply cannot increase his TEV very much no matter what he does in this particular hand with ten players still remaining in the tournament, but he has an overall 42% chance of decreasing his TEV to $3220 if he doubles me through. This is a gamble he should never make given that he is in position to make a serious run to the hefty top few payouts in the tournament given where he is already situated.

For interest's sake, let's throw AQ into my range as well. Like I said, there is no way I pot-reraise the chip leader with AQ in this spot, absolutely none (I might reraise allin, or I might more likely fold, but never a pot-reraise for 27% of my stack), and I refuse to even consider my doing that with a shithand like AJ or KQ or worse because that is just plain looptidin this spot. But let's throw in AQ, because it makes a whole new 12 hands in the structured hand analysis that I would fold to his flop push. I will try to simplify some of these calculations now since I've already been through how it all works once above.

So, if AQ is in my range, so it's AA-JJ, AK and AQ:

(1) Now only 50% of the time do I have one of the pairs (24 out of 48 possible hands). So I call 50% of the time, and once again when that happens, 36% of the time he wins anyways and his TEV climbs to $7620. 64% of the time he loses and his TEV drops to $3220.

(2) Now the other 50% of the time, I have AK or AQ, and I fold, raising Villain's TEV to $7378.

Again, we can easily figure out his overall TEV from the above probabilities and values, given a range of AA-JJ, AK and AQ for me:

50% (I call) x 36% (he wins anyways) = TEV of $7620.
50% (I call) x 64% (he loses) = TEV of $3220
50% (I fold) = TEV of $7378

Adding the TEV's of these three outcomes up, we have $1373.04 + $1030.40 + $3689 = $6092.44.

So, in sum, if I would pot-reraise Villain before the flop in this spot with AA-JJ or AK only, Villain's TEV by overpushing allin on the 743 flop drops from $7120 to $5661. If I would pot-reraise preflop with AA-JJ, AK or AQ, his TEV drops from $7120 to $6092. As I said, I won't even consider adding AJ, KQ or weaker hands to the mix, because that is a ludicrous assumption given that we're on the final table bubble and I'm going up against the chip leader. I suppose we could add TT to my hand range as well, but hopefully it is intuitive to you that adding another big pair to my range is only going to lower Villain's TEV from the move, because that is another hand that I will call with and be ahead of him on the flop. And I wouldn't pot-reraise with TT anyways preflop in this spot. Again, as with AQ, I might reraise allin preflop with it, and I might more likely fold it in this spot, but pot-reraise with a vulnerable and hard-to-play hand on the flop like TT? Not happening. And equally unthinkable is sinking 27% of my chips into this pot before the flop here on the final table bubble, and then folding an overpair to hsi insta-overbet allin push. Not in a million years.

So there it is, in all its boring and overcomplicated glory. It is definitively a bad play for Villain to push allin on that 734 rainbow flop with his 75o, only because the range of hands I would need to have in order to have reraised the chip leader the size of the pot on the final table bubble is so strong that his 75 is behind more often than not. If he wants to push way earlier in the tournament with 9 outs twice and possibly being in the lead in the hand in any event, there is some math to at least make that not an objectively poor play. But once you're down to the final table like this, the cash payouts take on utmost importance and the relevant calculation for many allin moves like this becomes not EV but Tournament EV -- at least the way I view it, it does.

By the way, once the guy flopped top pair, you know he could have considered that he had only top pair shit kicker and an inside straight draw, and that it was about 2-to-1 likely that I had a higher pocket pair in my hand, and he could have gone ahead with a bet of approximately half the pot,say 60k into the 113k pot. This would have brought his chip stack from 384k down to 324k, and I would doubtless have raised him allin, and he could have insta-folded there. With 324k chips and still a solid 2nd-place stack, this would have left his Tournament EV at $5196. So he could have made this half-pot bet on the flop, and I'm still going to fold my AK (33.3% of the time) or my AK/AQ (50% of the time). So his TEV of betting half the pot instead of the foolish massive overbet allin looks much better:

With a hand range of AA-JJ and AK, I have the big pair 66.7% of the time, I raise allin on the flop, and he folds, leaving him with a TEV of $5196. The other 33.3% of the time I have AK and I still fold to his half-pot bet, giving him a TEV of $7378. So this equates to an overall TEV of $3465.73 + 2456.87 = $5922.60.

With a hand range of AA-JJ and AK or AQ, I have the big pair 50% of the time, I raise allin on the flop, and he folds, leaving him with a TEV of $5196. The other 50% of the time I have AK or AQ and I fold to his half-pot bet, giving him a TEV of $7378. So this equates to an overall TEV of $2598 + 3689 = $6287.

As you can see, whether my range includes AQ or excludes AQ, the strategy of Villain betting just half the pot on the flop and then folding to any push by me dominates his silly allin overpush, leading to a higher TEV for him in either case. So even if you think him check-folding to me after flopping top pair and an inside straight draw (admittedly, that seems a bit weak to me as well) is too wimpy for the chip leader in this spot, the allin overpush on the flop was truly the worst of all of his available options.

Flame away.

Have a great weekend everyone. I should be in the FTOPS Main Event on Sunday night at 6pm ET, looking to make a big run in the first ME I have played in I think this entire year in the FTOPS.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Suckout Blues

In bottom-line profits, this has been a good week for me at the online poker tables. I've won I think three or four FTOPS satellites, having a particularly good win rate with those $50 mega-satellites they run every night during FTOPS time at 9:45pm ET, as well as the highly juicy $100 turbo sats into the FTOPS Main Event that are now running every night at 8:45pm and 10:45pm ET as well. After cashing but failing to nab the seat in two out of three of those ME sats, I did win my seat the other day, so I do intend to play on Sunday night at 6pm ET in the $535 buyin event in which I have cashed at least two times before.

But despite my being up solidly for the week so far, this has also been one of those highly frustrating weeks where you can't help but focus far more on the money left on the table than on the money you've won. Those of you out there who play a lot of multi-table tournaments will know exactly what I'm talking about. I mean, in the two FTOPS ME sats that I mentioned I cashed in but failed to win, in both cases I was eliminated on a redonkulous two- or three-outer on the turn or river, when the money didn't get in until after the flop when I was a good 90% favorite or better. That was about $900 down the drain right there over those two tourneys. Similarly, late in "the" 32k on Sunday night, I lost Tens vs 9s allin preflop in a situation where I would have had the literal chip lead but instead took a major hit to my stack, and then shortly afterwards I ran Queens into Kings allin preflop with less than the average stack. And I'm not even going in to my at least two other two- and three-outer eliminations this week, all since just Sunday night, each of which cost me a good shot at some more tournament cash. Before Wednesday evening, I had estimated to a couple of people in blog comments and in the girly that I had -- conservatively speaking -- benn rooked out of a good $2000 in tournament winnings by disgusting low-odds beatdowns, all of which featured me as at least 80% to win the hand, if not 90% or more, when the money went to the middle of the table.

Then Wednesday night made it about a hundred times even worse. I played my bitch the 50-50 on full tilt, and I amassed an early stack with some strong tactics despite not being dealt a premium pair all night long that I can recall. Out of just short of 1100 entrants, I was in the top 10 out of around 700 runners left at the end of Hour 1, and I remained there all through Hour 2 as well, ending that hour in I believe 4th out of 290 remaining. I just kept building and building, near-doubling and near-doubling, and I didn't even show down many hands to do it, which is when you know I am playing my best. I did not suck out one time in the entire night of play, and was dealt AK a bunch of times but I don't recall any of the big pairs, and yet over 5 1/2 hours of play I never really fell too far from the top of the leaderboard. In fact, the only two times I did get knocked down to the middle of the pack of remaining players were two dominated suckouts against me, once when A9 beat my AQ allin preflop, and once when JT bested my KTs allin preflop, both against shortish stacks where I took a calculated gamble in raising it allin and really didn't mind the call in either spot.

Other than those two very, very typical beatdowns, I seriously cruised through the field in the 50-50 on Wednesday, to the point that I was the literal chipleader with 300 left, with 200 left, with 100 left, and even down to 40 left, 30 left and 20 left. There were a number of bloggers and people I know on the rail to see it all happen -- this run was a thing of beauty, even compared to my other 50-50 final table runs this year. I mean, I don't think I got in behind more than one time all night long, again against a shorty where I knew exactly what I was doing and figured I had the odds to take a stab at a racey-sort of situation with my two high, sooted cards. Eventually, as the blinds escalated as we got down to the final two tables, a couple of pushbots got taken out by bigger stacks, and my stack slipped to 4th place out of 10 remaining. As usual, the play even down to this point of a $55 buyin tournament online was generally garbage, and a couple of guys at my table were so awful that they were being berated by railbirds incessantly for the better part of the previous hour for some truly unbelievable moves. The worst of these people was the chip leader with 10 left, who had a little over 400k while 2nd through 5th (including me) each had between 200k and 250k), who had amassed his big pile of chips by doing shit like instacalling allin reraises with K7s and A7o against sizable stacks with just 12 or 13 players remaining.

So it's the last hand before the 5th break, it's just before 3am ET, and I pick up pocket Kings. In the big blind no less. This is my first premium pair of the entire night, mind you. Fewlbot chip leader open-raises the pot on the small blind, and I'm not effing around with this hand of course, so I reraise. The full pot. At the time blinds were probably 2500-5000 with a 500 ante or so, so his first raise was to something like 19k, and my pot-reraise was to a little over 50k. Like I said, I wasn't going to mess around here, on the literal final table bubble. He thinks for 2 seconds and calls. No sooner does the flop come down 743 rainbow than this guy pushes allin for 400-some thousand on a massive overbet into the 130k or so pot. I took maybe 3 seconds to consider, but realized quickly enough that even a poker blogger the biggest donk alive does not get away in this spot. I'm about to be the significant chip leader in fact. I mean, this wasn't on pokerstars, so I know he doesn't have 65o in there, and he did raise and then call my pot-reraise before the flop. He's done. I call.

The chip leader flips up 75o for shitty top pair against a preflop reraiser, and an even shittier kicker just for good measure. Turn is an offsuit 9, and I am better than 5-to-1 to be chip leader. That is, until the 7 on the river rivers the donkey trips, and IGH in 10th place, one away from the final table. Just like that. Dude raises preflop with 75o (strike 1!), then calls a pot-reraise with it as chip leader down to 10 players left (strike 2!), then flops top pair 7s with a 5 kicker and pushes allin on a massive overbet (strike 3!). The money is allin and he is a solid dog. And BOOOOOooom, IGHN. It is hard to believe and even harder to swallow.

Sure I won nearly a thousand for my efforts on the night. As I said, this has been symptomatic of my entire week (and my entire career, who are we kidding) of online poker. It was yet another very profitable run into the 50-50 on full tilt, probably my 15th top-25 finish of the year in this thing, which it's not like I play every night. And while it's always fun to run deep in front of a bunch of bloggers, losing like that is just so deflating, it can't really be described in words. Yes, I won another grand on Wednesday night overall playing poker, and I am thankful and happy for that. But it doesn't feel that way. It feels like I lost about $3500 to $4000 of expected value, all on that redonkulous riversuck by a guy who desperately tried to gift me his chips.

I've said this a million times before and I'll say it again -- to me the real trick, and the real difficulty -- in regularly playing poker tournaments is not figuring out how to win them. That part is elusive for many, but not for me, and certainly not for those whose tournament skills dwarf my own. It's more or less a formula, and for the most part that formula, if applied pretty much blindly, can increase your chances of final-tabling probably 4 to 5 times above the average online player's chances at this buyin level in my experience. To me, the real skill involved in being a regular tournament player is being able to withstand the bad beats, the setup hands, the thousand-dollar losing suckouts like mine last night, and still be able to show up tomorrow in the right mindset to come back and succeed again. Sometimes I really don't understand how anyone does it.

And pardon me if I can't feel too bad about your suckout with two tables left in a $10 buyin tournament with 30-some donkeys in it. If anything that happens in that level of an event is going to have a profoundly negative effect on you, you are really never going to be cut out for mtt play. Which is not an insult in the least btw, but a very accurate obsevation nonetheless.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Somebody Please Get Rid of These People!

The complete and total confusion, switcheroo, and just overall donkery of the Bush administration and this recockulous bailout plan continues. And lookie there, the market is tanking again as a result of all the back-and-forth....What a futher mucking shock! Six weeks ago, buying the troubled mortgage assets of our nation's financial institutions wasn't just an idea that was being kicked around by a few people. It was absolutely, positively, vital to keeping the U.S. out of the economic abyss. Now today: "Oh yeah, we changed our minds again!" Fucking fools. I wrote a month ago or so about the absolute, cold, hard fact that confusion and flim-flamming by market regulators and overseers creates panic and fear in the stock market. That wasn't an opinion then, and it still isn't an opinion now.

Facts are facts.

I am speechless. Yes, me. Totally and completely speechless. To think that this administration could still be getting markedly worse by the day, given the depths to which it has plunged already, is truly unthinkable.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Poker Book Review

In my never-ending attempt to exhibit my authority as a poker expert, I am back today with a review of a really disappointing poker book that I recently completed, although I also just finished a very interesting book that I enjoyed based on a recommendation from a poker blogger who knows the good books from the bad.

First, the bad: Daniel Negreanu's Power Holdem Strategy. This is another book, like Dan Harrington's cash game endeavors, that should be getting a lot of pub, and yet the fact that absolutely nobody ever mentions it or writes about it all as about as telling as the reviews could be on this thing. Negreanu obviously tried to model his tome off of the classic poker text Super/System by Dolye Brunson, in that the books are of very similar size and thickness, and they are set up with different chapters written by different authors covering a wide range of poker topics.

I will admit that I was really excited for this book, both generally, having watched Daniel's truly incredible prowess at hand reading on several televised poker events, and specifically after reading the introduction written by the book's publisher, Avery Cardoza, who obviously has an ongoing feud with 2+2 publishing. The intro begins by proclaiming that Power Holdem Strategy is the third msot influential book of all time in poker literature, starting with Super System (which was awesome, obviously), and then listing my boy Daniel Snyder's The Poker Tournament Formula II as the second, which got me excited because I figured this guy clearly knows his tournament poker books. The publisher goes on to explain that Negreanu's and his co-authors' focus on small ball and other aspects of poker not otherwise written too much about in the other popular literature will surely go on to make Power Holdem Strategy one of the lasting contributors and a book that will seriously change the game of poker forever.

There's just one problem: this book sucks. I mean, it really, seriously sucks. It begins with a chapter on beginner holdem tournament strategy by Evelyn Ng, a chapter which I strongly suggest you skip unless you have more or less never played a poker tournament before in your life, and even then I would skip it as the approach it espouses, Ng freely admits, is only for a beginner to use and not something effective if you have any real understanding of the game. Negreanu's good friend and awesome tournament poker player Erick Lindgren then contributes a chapter specifically on online poker, which should have been the best thing ever to a guy like me, but believe me when I say that chapter could not have been more useless. I mean, how many times am I going to read someone suggesting that you have to loosen up to get calls, and to make sure you're not distracted by other things when playing online? Sheesh. Paul Wasicka then writes about short-handed online holdem games, which is equally and totally worthless, completely devoid of a single idea worth dog-earing in my book as I often do with my poker texts. Todd Brunson then throws in an utterly worthless chapter on high-limit cash games that has no place in this book and offers next to no original advice, with famed foot-lover David Williams then chipping in with a book on loosening up your play, also not very helpful and really I imagine just included to fluff up the book and to provide a decent segue into Negreanu's chapter on small ball.

When it comes right down to it, Negreanu's chapter, although lengthy as far as number of pages involved, does not do much to help other players adopt his small ball strategy successfully. I mean, do we really need 250 pages to tell us to keep preflop raises small, see lots of flops with big-potential hands, make your play hard to read, and never to get it allin without the nuts, or dam close to the nuts? The bottom line is, if you can't read hands with the amazing accuracy that Negreanu can, then you need to be very, very careful playing this keep-the-pots-small strategy, and there is just no way Negreanu is going to be able to impart that incredible skill in this or any book. Negreanu's chapter is easily the best part of this book overall, and to someone who has only read the Super/System's and Harrington's of the world, Daniel does a good job of describing his general approach to the game in a way that is different from what most other well-known poker authors out there are advocating.

In all, though, less than half of this book was written by Negreanu himself, and the problem is that rest of the non-Daniel content is so worthless that it really cheapens the overall value of the book. If you have the misfortune of reading it all, I assure you you will be left with the feeling that Negreanu wrote all he could (or wanted to) about small ball poker, and then his publisher felt it was not big enough to sell in the amount and/or at the price they were seeking, so they went looking for some co-authors to pen some quick and dirty fluff to make the whole book seem longer and sell better. In all, Evelyn Ng's chapter I would give a flat-out 1 out of 5 to, and even Lindgren's online poker treatise -- and I'm a huge Erick Lindgren fan, don't get me wrong -- is generously worth a 2 rating out of 5. Wasicka's shorthanded chapter, as someone myself who plays mostly shorthanded games, is another 1 out of 5, containing basically no new ideas and not even holding a candle to other shorthanded holdem authors (Colin Moshman, for example). Brunon's high-limit cash chapter is no more than a 2 out of 5, and David Williams is definitely a 2 or a 2+, maybe a 3 if I'm feeling in a very generous mood, but surely no better than mediocre. Negreanu's piece is probably worthy of a 3 or 4 out of 5, but like I said, the overall feeling of the book is something akin to 2 stars, nothing more. And I really don't think you will come away from reading it with any more ability to play Daniel's style than you had before you picked the thing up to begin with.

If Negreanu had rushed this book out a couple of years ago when he was still really breaking on to the poker scene, Power Holdem Strategy would probably be a lot better receieved, at least his chapter on small ball. Nowadays, though, Daniel's small ball approach has been well documented and discussed in a number of different forums, and the simple fact is that the concepts behind how to play this strategy are not complex ones. Reading hands like Daniel does with such amazing accuracy, now that is complex, but he does nothing (and really cannot be expected to) more than other well-known poker authors in describing the process of reviewing a hand, playing it backwards and tryingt to intuit your opponent's holdings. As a result, you are left with a book that will be largely devoid of those dog-eared pages I mentioned above, and frankly one which, if you're like me, you will be looking forward to getting through so you can stick it way on top of your bookshelf where you know you will never get it down again. Stay away from Power Holdem Strategy, you won't miss it, trust me.

Tomorrow: the good poker book I read this month that can really help your game if you're not someone who regularly wins mtt's.

Labels: ,

Another Silly Stoopid Blown Call

Well the Eagles lost a tough one, 36-31 at home to the Giants on Sunday night on national television. But the real losers in the game were not the Eagles, but once again the referees, as well as one of the two key announcers on the Sunday night games. With the Eagles up 24-20 with 6 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter, Giants quarterback and reigning Superbowl MVP Eli Manning scrambled during a 3rd and 10 play further than he planned to before short-arming a first-down pass to inside the 5-yard line, but then he was called for being past the line of scrimmage when he threw the ball.

Here is the way NFL.com describes the play in question in their writeup of the game:

The Giants went ahead 27-24 two plays after a reversed call gave them a first down at the Eagles' 3. Manning's 17-yard pass to Kevin Boss on third-and-10 was initially ruled illegal because he appeared to release the ball from beyond the line of scrimmage. Replays showed Manning's back foot was behind the line, and Jacobs ran in from the 3 for the go-ahead score.

"I think the way the rule is written, it was worth taking a shot at it," said Manning, who urged Coughlin to challenge the call. "If you have one toe on the line of scrimmage, then it's a legal pass. I thought it was worth the risk."

The Eagles were surprised the play was overturned.

"I don't know what they were looking at," defensive tackle Mike Patterson said.

Here's the video. The offending play is at 2:38 of that video and you can see it for yourself, but there's just one problem: that is the edited-after-the-fact version of the video, where the NFL or NBC (not sure which, who really cares) had re-drawn the red line into the video, moving it back some number of inches such that Manning's back foot can be seen still on the red line when the ball left his hand.

Watching the game in real time as I assume many of you out there did since it was the nationally televised Sunday night game and featured two of the better teams in the NFL in a divisional battle in far and away the best division that football has to offer, it was downright comical, reminding me sadly qutie a bit of watching Joe Fuck and Tim ShitCarver calling the World Series, as I would constantly find myself wondering what the hell game those two baseball clowns could possibly be watching given the drivel coming out of their mouths through the speakers on my tv set. On Sunday night, at least three separate times, Al Michaels, normally just about the best sports announcer on tv as far as I'm concerned, played the replay of Manning's throw, each time freezing the frame with Manning's heel just barely touching a millimeter of the red line and the ball still in Manning's hand. Michaels would then say something like "And here is the ball, out of Eli Manning's hand, and you can see Manning's heel is still just ever so barely touching the red line."

Thankfully, co-host John Madden was having none of it. All three times Michaels tried to pull the wool over the viewers' eyes, Madden chimed in with "Well there's just one problem, Al. The ball is still in Manning's hands in that shot, and his heel is only barely on the line while he's still holding the ball." Three times Michaels showed the same view, commenting on how it proved the refs had made the correct call in overturning the on-the-field call of a penalty on Manning, a loss of down, and requiring the Giants to go for a roughly 41-yard field goal instead of the touchdown they easily scored a few players later after having 1st and Goal from the 3 yard line handed to them. And three times John Madden laughed at Michaels, explaining quite correctly how it is impossible to imagine the referees using that video as the "clear evidence" they need in order to overturn the call on the field in that spot.

The kicker came when the game came back from a commercial break following Brandon Jacobs' eventual touchdown despite triyng to fumble the ball to the Eagles for the fourth time on the night. Just after the break and before the kickoff, there was Michaels again, this time showing the same exact replay, only now you could more or less clearly see that Manning released the ball while not just his heel but the majority of his entire foot was in fact clearly touching the red line indicating the line of scrimmage. I'm looking at this and I'm like "WTF I just watched this replay, ran it back on my dvr four or five times, and this is not the same replay I've been looking at for the past five minutes?!" When John Madden weighs in with the exact same sentiment, this is when Michaels decides to fill in the viewers that actually, during the break NBC had reviewed the placement of the red line on the video, and had changed where they drew in the red line to indicate where the line of scrimmage "really" was.

To which John Madden, bless his bug dumb oafy heart, responds, "Oh well there's just one problem with this. This is the edited version where the red line has been changed to make the call look right. I wanna see the actual red line again!" or something to that effect.

Dumb F-bags. Don't waste your time trying to curry favor from the sport you are calling the games for by trying to obfuscate matters to make the refs look like they didn't blow a call that clearly had a significant impact on the outcome of a huge game between divisional rivials. If you can't think of anything non-idiotic to say, then how about you just shut your piehole and let the viewers see the replay for ourselves and make our own judgments. Don't put up a video that clearly shows the call could not concievably have been overturned, and claim that is clearly shows it should have been overturned. Don't say the ball was out of Eli Manning's hands, when clearly it is still in his hands in the video you're putting up. And please, most of all, do us all the service of not even bothering to show the edited version of the play after the fact, which NBC and the NFL both clearly have an interest in making the refs appear to have made the right call.

Bottom line: you need clear and convincing evidence to overturn a call in the NFL via instant replay, and there was no way no how that such overwhelming evidence existed in this case. You blew the call, you affected the outcome of the game, and it's only the 50 billionth time that has happened in the last few seasons, even with the help of instant replay to help make sure you blindass not-even-knowing-the-rules monkeys can get the shit right. But hey, the New York team won the game with the help of that bullshit, so everything's gonna be alright. Effing unreal.

Labels: , , ,