Surf is the Dark Lord, and Analyzing the Blonkaments
So I get up on Thursday morning to look at the final Mookie results, and immediately two things jump right out at me. First and foremost, WTF Surf? Six fucking Mookie titles? What kind of a profile does this guy even get after his sixth title? At some point don't we just rename the tournament from "the Mookie" to "the Surf"? Jeezus Christopher. How someone wins six of these things is completely beyond me, when even making it to sixth place one time is such a rarity for me these days. Wow is all I can say. Wow wow wow.
I also noticed that the Mookie runner up last night was, well, Mookie himself. Another wow. If you recall, I have the 2008 prop bet going with Mook where whichever one of us happens to win the Mookie first during 2008 will automatically win three months' worth of Mookie buyins from the one of us who does not win it first this year. So even though I shut down and went to bed shortly after finally hammer-donking out of the Mookie myself last night, in a way I wish I had stayed up for the excitement that must have been when Mookie made it from final table short stack all the way to heads-up with the man who has bent his tournament over a knee and spanked it to a bright cherry red. The Mookie live blog is a wee bit sparse on the details of the heads-up match, but Surf states simply in his blog that he was very lucky to pick up KK during the hu contest and that propelled him to victory. Does it surprise me that Surf found KK in a key spot in the Mookie? Not at all. Surf is one of those guys who has routinely gotten a whole lot of luck in the blonkaments, and he is more than good enough to make everyone pay for the luck that he gets. But dam if he doesn't get lucky in a lot of spots. But even though it would have cost me mucho embarrassamento plus about $120 cold hard cash, I gotta feel sorry for Mookie. The guy plays hard, he sat around at my table for a good hour or two doing not much of anything, playing tight and just waiting for the good cards, and here for the second time in a few weeks he comes up just short of winning his first title. And it's not like Surf needs another Mookie championship, right? Mookie, I feel terrible for you. Congratulations of course on another great deep run, but dam man. Maybe you really are cursed in this thing just like I am.
So I just can't stop thinking today about how Surflexus has managed to win six fucking Mookie titles. Then I was thinking, well I have won five Riverchasers titles (really 5.99 if you almost count the 13-year-old sucking out like Bayne on me by getting in behind time after time after time heads-up against me), over a much shorter time period in fact, and guys like Fuel have won a bunch of MATH tournaments as well. Now of course we all know how incredibly much luck is involved in winning any poker tournament, without exception. But I'm thinking, there has to be something more than pure chance and coincidence that the same people seem to have won the same tournaments again and again and again, no? Doesn't that only stand to reason? So here are my rundowns of each of the major blogger tournaments, what I think about the play specific to each one of them, and maybe if I can, linking those factors to the people or at least the kind of people who seem to succeed the most in them.
First, on Monday nights is my MATH tournament. This has been running for something more than a year and a half now, and it has always been either a $22 buyin (on pokerstars) or a $26 buyin (on full tilt). This buyin is basically a little more than twice the buyin of the Mookie, the Riverchasers or really any of the other regular weekly blonkaments, and that buyin has led in my opinion to a slightly increased quality of play overall as compared to the other tournaments on average. I say "slightly" because I don't want anyone to think that I think that the players in the Hoy are so great or so much better than anyone else, because that I surely do not think, but the $26 buyin does tend to keep out some of the people who don't really even have the roll to support playing a $26 tournament once in a while, which is generally the less-than-best poker players among our group, to use a nice euphomism. As a result of the play in the MATH being better than average as compared to most of the other blonkaments, the game has always been a highly aggressive one, something that has only gotten more pronounced since I switched the format to 6-max nlh. The most successful tournament players are always the aggressive ones, and with the least successful players unable to buy in for $26 a pop, we are left with not only a better than average quality of player, but a more aggressive than average group as well. And thus, in very general terms, I think the secret to succeeding in the MATH has been to be someone who plays well against aggressive players. Hence, someone like Fuel has performed well overall, with several outright wins over the past year, because he plays against aggressive people at high stakes probably more than anyone else. A guy like Bayne who hits draws like it's going out of style has had a bunch of Hoy success as well, since hitting the board hard against aggro types is almost guaranteed to pay off consistently. I too have won several MATH tournaments over the past year and a half, as I think I have a better grasp of restealing from other aggro types and when to move in from late position than probably most of the other players out there. So as I said, in general the Hoy is a more aggressive game than most, and the players who play the best against aggressive players have tended, on average, to be the most successful as a result.
Quickly I will talk about the new Tuesday night Skill Series tournaments. There have only been six of these so far, but I think already a very noticeable trend has emerged. These games are mostly limit (with the one pot-limit holdem tournament just this week), and more than anything else, it's almost the exact opposite of the discussion I just had about the MATH above. In limit tournament, the key is not so much aggression as it is tightness, and the one thing we are seeing so far in general in those tournaments is that the guys who know how to play tight, tight poker in the earlygoing are the ones who are consistently succeeding. So here I am talking about players like Zeem, who has played more than enough limit poker in his day to understand exactly what I mean about playing tight early. Miami Don is another guy who has been successful in the Skill games so far because he's been playing some very tight poker as he likes to do, especially early on. We all remember Gary Cox winning not one but two Razz tournaments over the past few weeks, playing his usual tightass style for the most part. And before anyone gets their panties in a bunch, I will remind you all again that "tight" is not an insult -- in fact, in this context, it is nothing short of high praise. Tight is right in limit poker tournaments, and the donkeys like me and Fuel and others like us have been getting for the most part crushed in these things because we insist on playing speculative hands, way too early in the tournament, and dribbling away chips early on while these guys I mentioned above always seem to get out to early chip leads by saving their chips for the truly strong starting hands.
Now on to Wednesday and the Mookie. This one is perhaps the most interesting tournament to analyze, basically because almost everyone who's anyone in the poker blogging world comes out to play. But that fact actually plays in to why a guy like Surf has had the most success in the tournament overall, as well as a bunch of other guys who have won hardly any other blogger tournaments. Think about that -- there are tons of guys whose names I will not mention because I specifically don't want anyone to take offense, but who have won one or even more than one Mookie but haven't won even one or two other blogger tournaments in their entire lives. Go check out the list right here and see it for youself so I don't have to name any names for you all to understand exactly what I'm saying. Sure lots of those guys have had other tournaments successes, but a bunch of them, even many of the multiple-time winners, are basically one-trick ponies in the blonkament careers despite the fact that I've seen them playing in many other blogger events in their day. Now this is not meant to be an insult in any way, shape or form, but merely a very meaningful observation as far as what it takes to win a Mookie. In my view it takes two main things to have a solid shot to win a Mookie, due to the large fields and due to the low buyin of $11 which means a lot of players who are not the tight-aggressive style normally indicative of the higher-bankroll guys. It takes (1) aggression to get through this big field, and (2) luck, moreso than in the other tournaments due to the large field and large number of passive and loose players. You don't see so many loose or passive players in the MATH, and certainly not 30 or 40 of them like there are every week in the Mookie, so you simply have to aggress and you have to be lucky any time you win a Mookie. And that right there is a description of Surf's game in a nutshell. Aggressive and lucky. A lot of the other Mookie winners, incuding again many of the players who have won it more than once, fit this same mold. They are people who play very aggressively every week -- often too aggressively to win most of the other blonkaments on any kind of a regular basis -- but on the couple of weeks where they played this aggro style and have gotten very lucky in doing so, they have gone on to win. Get a lot of good starting cards, bet with and nail a lot of flops, pick up big hands against other slightly worse big hands at the final table and bet them hard, that is the way you win a Mookie, moreso than any of the other private blogger tournaments, and that's why a guy like Surf does so well in them in my view.
Now on to the Thursday night Riverchasers tournament. This one is interesting because it is usually another large field, similar to the Mookie, and the quality of play is not very high given the low $11 buyin and the fact that a lot of the original Riverchasers crowd have proven to be, well, donkeys for the most part. Yes some of the RC players are actually quite good -- guys like Perticelli, riggstad, even Donkette -- but I will still stick with my statement above as far as the original RC crowd as a group. The thing that I think differentiates winning this tournament from the way you win the Mookie is just that -- the overall quality of players in Riverchasers is simply worse, and in many cases more aggro as opposed to more loose-passive as compared to the Mookie. And the reason that I have had so much success in Riverchasers compared to absolutely no success in the Mookie -- other than just being flat-out cursed in the Mookie of course -- is I think that the tricky, trappy players tend to get rewarded better in the Riverchasers because the donkeys are more likely to be out there, betting or calling allin with their top pair shitty kickers in the RC than you see in the Mookie. Sure there is plenty of that in both, but in a nutshell I can only speak from my own experience to say that I have gotten off to big stacks early and late in the Riverchasers more times than I can count by getting a good or even just reasonably good hand (TPTK, middle two pairs, etc.), and being able to play the hand so as to get raised or called for huge bets from someone with really a shitty hand or just a draw or something. I think when it comes down to it, that has been why a guy like me or even someone like Waffles who will also trap you when he gets good cards have had much more success in RC than in the other tournaments. The field is slightly more donkish, but I think generally more aggro than the similar-sized Mookie, which in general I find more passive and loose than aggro like the Riverchasers.
So that's my analysis of the main weekly private blogger tournaments, and what it takes to win them. The MATH I think rewards players who play well and who play against other aggressive players the best. The Skill Series rewards the tight players who understand the need to wait patiently for strong starting cards early. The Mookie rewards the lucky and aggressive players more than the other tournaments. And the Riverchasers rewards the trappers and slow-players the most because the other players tend to push and call big bets with all kinds of garbage. Maybe some of you out there can do a similar analysis of the Bodonkey on worst-poker-client Bodog, which sounds from what I've read to be a slower structure that more rewards tight players like Peaker, and I'm sure there are some conclusions that can be drawn from Kat's Friday night donkament as well, though I was not going to touch that today because, even though I have won four of them, I really don't know exactly what to say about strategy in a tournament that involves about 150 rebuys from 25 players over a one-hour period.
Whatever the case, congratulations again to Mookie for another deep run in his own tournament, I'm sorry he did not take it all down, but there is always next week. And congratulations out to Surflexus for another job well done, winning his sixth effing Mookie in just the past couple of years. That my friends is a record that this donkey claims will never be broken, by anyone. So there.
Don't forget tonight is the Riverchasers at 9pm ET on full tilt (password is "riverchasers"). And how could anyone forge the return of "Lost" as well tonight in a two-hour season premiere also starting at 9pm ET on ABC. Or at 9:45pm ET on the DVR if you're me and refuse to watch commercials anymore like you cavemen without DVR or Tivo might. See you at the RC where I will look to trap me some donkeys!