Thursday, January 31, 2008

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!

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

PLH Skillz, and Buddydank Radio

So Tuesday night was a mixed bag on the poker front for me. After winning about a buyin at the $100 nl tables on pokerstars, I went 0-for-3 in the earlier part of the evening in the $55 turbo sngs on full tilt, two of those losses coming on stoopid suckouts (AK losing to shorty's A5 allin preflop, and 88 losing to AQ allin on a JJ5 flop). The third loss came when I literally saw one flop (and no turns or rivers) for the first 28 hands dealt to me -- which is basically death right there in a turbo format sitngo -- and then finally found AJs which I pushed allin with on a short stack, only to get called by AK and IGH in 7th place. I also got recockulously beat out of the 5050 fairly deep into it when some assclown insta-called my top-pair flop bet with just an inside straight draw (no overcards even) for crying out loud, then filled on the turn and stacked my aggro ass because I could not put him on that hand. Silly me. Yes it happens, but all that sucked the big one. Fortunately, I ended the night by running my first $110 turbo sng in a couple of weeks -- thank you, end of year Iron Man bonus! -- and after surviving not one but two recockulous suckouts in that thing as well, I still managed to hold on for the victory. I've mentioned this before, but it is pretty sweet winning one of these $110 turbos, as it pays $495 for the win and even $297 for second place which is also pretty great. So my cash wins along with that $495 more than made up for the rest of the day's losses and left me solidly up overall on the night, which is always a good result whenever I take my usual 10-15 suckouts like I certainly did throughout all my Tuesday evening play. I swear it is a serious curse getting in ahead all the time, it really is.

Moving on to the latest Skill Series tournament, I really enjoyed myself as 42 buttclowns got together for some pot-limit holdem on full tilt at 9:30pm ET. I played fairly well, but somebody hit me for a large loss early on to get me short stacked, where I basically would stay for the next 90 minutes of the tournament. I don't remember the hand that got me, but I do remember thinking it was pretty funny so that probably means it was a setup, a suckout or just a bad play by someone. Who knows. And it doesn't really matter anyways, I play these tournaments to have fun and that's what I did. I do know that I played the short stack pretty masterfully, sitting within the bottom few spots remaining almost all throughout the first hour and a half of the event, until finally someone got me. Again I don't remember the hand or who it was who mercifully ended my annoyingass short-stacked run, but again I do remember thinking it was pretty funny. Who knows why, like I said it doesn't really matter. But I think these Skill Series games have been a great time for everyone, and as long as we can continue to keep the chatbox clean then I think they are some of the most fun our group has every single week. And congratulations out to this week's Skill Series winner, everyone's favorite disc jockey Buddy Dank himself! Buddy wins his first of the Skill Series events and shows that he is more than just a bubbly on-air personality and a tangy piece of eye candy, but he can also play this game and play it well. PLH is generally thought of as a higher-skill game than limit or in many cases even than no-limit since you can't generally just push allin before the flop, and to win this really says something about someone's skills as a holdem tournament player in general, so congratulations to Mr. Dank for the big win.

And this makes for a perfect segue into what I wanted to talk about today: Buddydank Radio. Now I know I have written here on the blog about this incredible web-broadcast radio program that Buddy has been putting together for the better part of the past year now, but today I wanted to take some time to really talk about some aspects of the show. Every Wednesday night, the Mookie runs, which as most of you know is the largest gathering of bloggers every week to play in a private tournament,and which is also the Tournament That I Simply Cannot Win. Every Wednesday night, therefore, I get absolutely sloppy sloshed on Captain & Coke or a number of beers, preparing for the inevitable running an overpair into quads on the flop, the flonkey calling my preflop allin with T9o and winning or some other shit like that which I have to get good n liquored up just to be able to handle. And for the past several months, Buddydank has been saving his best stuff of the week on Wednesday as well, broadcasting live over the intertubes all during the Mookie, and bringing on some awesome guests on occasion to help liven things up a bit. Last week as you may recall, I joined Buddy and co-host Miami Don, and guest hosts ScottMC and KOD in a marathon 4 1/2-hour broadcast session where we shared online poker stories, told some jokes, did some serious degenerate gambling and even spent some time evaluating the poker luck of some of our fellow blogger brethren. And I have big news for you all regarding this week's show:

We're all coming back on again tonight.

That's right. The "Asshat Frat Crew" as we have been dubbed of Don, Scott, Chad and myself will be joining Buddy back on Buddydank Radio again this week for a repeat performance in what I believe is Don's last week of "controlling" the show thanks to the Jaguars beating down on Buddy's Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the playoffs a few weeks back. For those of you who listened last week, hopefully you had a good enough time to want to tune back in tonight for the festivities, where I can promise you we have lots more good stuff planned for your listening and laughing pleasure. And for those of you who did not tune in last week:

Why the hell not? I'm serious here now guys. I'm sure there are a few people with valid reasons, as I myself have had some issues in the past with sleeping kids and sleeping wives "and whatnot" to make it a little difficult to tune in to Buddydank Radio, but at least in the early part of the evening, I can almost always dial in for some ghey good tunes, good entertainment and great laughs. Now here's the thing: I know that Buddy's all-time record for concurrent listeners has been in the 50s. This is a number that has been reached on two occasions -- first, the live-from-Vegas broadcast from Chad's basement during the week of the live blogger gathering this past December. The second time we had 50 people tuned it at once was last week with the AFC in da house along with Buddy to guide things along. Now don't get me wrong, I love that 50 different people are tuning in to Buddydank Radio at one time, I think that is great, it helps foster our community and just in general I am really pleased to have a bunch of people logging in all at once to hear the guys do their show. But here's what I don't get -- if the Mookie has, say, 80 to 90 runners, then why are only 50 people listening to Buddydank Radio? Shouldn't that number be at least 80 or 90, or at least somewhere close to it? That's what I'm thinking anyways.

So I've spent some time this week since getting on air with the AFC last week in trying to figure why even more people haven't been listening. Yes I know we were up at a near-record last week, which is great, but I can't help but think, there are hundreds and hundreds of people who read these blogs, and therefore hundreds and hundreds of people who would love the shit out of listening to Buddydank Radio if given the chance, which we all have. The major thing I can think of is that people either don't know how to get it all set up on their pc's, or just don't want to take the time to do what people assume will be a big effort. In reality, it could not be easier to listen to Buddydank Radio on any regular old computer. You don't need any special plugins or special external software to listen. Today Budday updated his blog with instructions on the best ways to listen, which I am going to just copy right here directly from Buddy's blog:

I recently had some requests for information on the best way to listen to BuddyDank Radio. I'd written this up awhile ago but it needs updating, so here we go.

First off! BuddyDank Radio is here!

You have several options for listening to the broadcast. On the main page you will see a couple links.
1. IceCast Test(low latency) - This is the best way to listen to BDR. It has the shortest delay so you can hear everything as close to when it happens as possible. This link will work with Windows Media Player, Winamp, iTunes, and many other media programs. When you listen to this stream it is usually only about 5-10 seconds behind the action.

2. WinAMP/iTunes - This link easily works with the two players listed. BUT! When you listen to this version of the stream you will be hearing everything 30 - 90 seconds behind. If you have a slower internet connection or a problematic one then this may work better for you. We are slowly trying to eliminate this stream and go completely to the IceCast in the next few weeks to why not use that one now?

3. Media Player - This link was designed to work specifically with Window Media Player. This stream is also 30-90 seconds behind the live action. This link is normally a last ditch effort for those having trouble listening to the stream at all. If the other 2 don't work for you and you have Windows, Try this one.

And that's about it, simple eh? Having problems? Got questions? Contact BuddyDank at or you can find me on Yahoo messenger. Screen name is Cracksmokingrobot.

Tune in tonight for the last special broadcast of MiamiDon/Instant Tragedy radio! The same crew that brought you last weeks show will be back! MiamiDon, Cracknaces, ScottMc and Hoyazo will be your hosts, so tune in damn it.
We are doing our best to attempt to break the maximum number of listeners at one time for BDR. The record is 54 and last week we had 52 so this should be doable.

So it really is that simple, folks. At most you might need to download a free media player from someone on the intertubes, but even that is unlikely. I used to listen on Winamp as recommended above by Buddy, but one day for whatever reason I had some trouble with the audio on the feed, so I went and downloaded the free Yahoo! Music application, something Buddy does not even mention as an option in his writeup above, and since then I have had absolutely no trouble whatsoever tuning in every week I can to listen to Buddy and his boys kick it old school on the airwaves. I just open up Winamp or Yahoo! Music, click on "open up URL", and type "" for the URL address to open, and after about five seconds or so, voila! Buddydank Radio live, coming right out of the speakers on my pc. It could not be easier, and anybody with a computer that accesses the full tilt application to be playing in the Mookie should obviously be able to listen to Buddydank Radio as well. Except for you donks who actually play online poker from your work, I don't know if you can listen to Buddydank Radio from there or not.

But the rest of you, what is your excuse at this point? I know a ton of people read this blog, far more people than have ever tuned in to Buddydank Radio at one time for one of the weekly broadcasts during the Mookie. So let's make tonight the night and everyone get on there and listen in and see what you think about making this part of your weekly Wednesday routine. Ever wondered what my voice sounds like live? Ever wanted to know if I'm as much of a whiny pompous-ass bitch as I seem on the blog? Tonight is your chance to find out, as I plan to be on hopefully from the beginning to the end just like last week.

Last thing -- just like last week we have some fun stuff planned for tonight's broadcast, so we're really hoping that people will tune in to follow along with the progress in the Mookie and whatever else comes up along the way, in addition to hearing whatever else the AFC has on our minds during the evening's festivities. I will update right here later if we have any more details as to just what else is going to be on the show for the night, but otherwise, I'll see you tonight at 10pm ET on full tilt for the Mookie (password as always is "vegas1"), and I'll see you tonight starting sometime before 10pm ET on Buddydank Radio!!

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

MATH Recap, and Monsters on the Flop

Out of the blue, 39 runners showed up for the MATH last night, the largest crowd in the 1 1/2 year history of Mondays at the Hoy other than during the BBT, lending further support to my contentions that (i) 6-max is a fun break from the normal grind in the blonkaments, and more importantly (2) the blonkaments as an institution are at an all-time high right now in terms of popularity. I think that is a really great thing, and it shows how much fun we are all having as a group and that the general level of interest in online poker and in our little community is still going strong as ever. Look for a big turnout for Chad's Skill Series tonight at 9:30pm ET, which will be pot-limit holdem on full tilt, as well as for Smokkee's Bodonkey on Bodog.

So anyways, we had 39 runners in the MATH, making for a sweet $936 prize pool, again the largest ever outside of the BBT which is all good. As usual since the switch to 6-max format, the action was fast and furious right from the getgo, with several players getting bounced out in just the first few minutes of play, and around half the field gone by the end of the first hour. Personally, I managed to get dealt pocket Aces not once but twice I think during my run in the tournament, which of course I was able to ride to a near-bubble at the final table. In my elimination hand, I was in the big blind with A2s, and the action folded around to the small blind who raised it up the size of the pot, still about 10% of our respective stacks. With the Ace in my hand, and it being soooted, I decided to make an aggressive and yet I think good move of pushing allin, attempting to add 10%+ to my mid-sized stack and knowing that if I got called by an average sort of hand, I was likely to be roughly a 60% favorite or less. It was an aggro move, but even holding a soooted Ace I won't quite call it a setup because I know the risk when I am holding a 2 as one of my hole cards, so when my opponent quickly called and flipped up AK I knew it was over. As the flop came down AKx, it is obvious that I would have gone to the felt on that flop in any event with my top pair hand, so I don't feel too bad about the play but it ended up sending me home in 11th place, just short of the final table.

Unlike previous weeks I did not stick around to watch the final table action this week, so I can only report on the final results, which included the following cashers:

5. $84.34 -- VinNay, whose blog I mis-linked so badly all through 2007 that he actually had to create a separate blogger page just for all the people who tried to link through to his site via mine (sorry guy, that has been repaired as I hope you have noticed).

4. $112.32 -- bayne_s, making his first appearance on the 2008 MATH moneyboard after a top-3 finish in 2007.

3. $149.76 -- buckhoya, my good friend from college who first got me in to online poker several years ago now, but is too afraid to blog.

2. $215.28 -- Donkey Shortz, a relative newcomer to the blonkament scene, whose name I recognize only from the last few blogger tournaments. Donkey, if you have a blog, please let me know in the comments and I will link you up here.

1. $374.40 -- fuel55, everyone's favorite high-stakes player who is starting of 2008 just like he started of 2007 with some strong blonkament performances early in January after overcoming a solid chip deficit early at the final table to take down his first Hoy of the year and also make his sceond appearance already on the 2008 MATH moneyboard.

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

1. surflexus $488
2. fuel55 $445
3. Jordan $332
4. twoblackaces $298
5. Donkey Shortz $215
6. VinNay $203
7. buckhoya $150
7. Miami Don $150
7. Astin $150
7. Mike Maloney $150
11. chitwood $127
12. bayne_s $112
13. thepokergrind $95
14. bartonf $89
15. Hoyazo $67

So Fuel jumps up to the early 2nd place on the moneyboard, joining two-time cashers Surf and Jordan in dominating the top three on the list through the first month of the new year. VinNay also recorded his second cash of 2008 as we are already beginning to see who some of the best, aggressive players are in our group given the nature of shorthanded nlh tournament play and how it tends to cater to the more aggro players out there. I look forward to more fun times in the coming weeks as we move into February with our Mondays at the Hoy tournament on full tilt.

I wanted to leave you today with a little tidbit I found in one of my latest poker books I am reading, which seems at first glance to be very simple and yet I have found myself thinking about it a lot as time rolls on. As you know if you read here often, I am always on the hunt for the simple little pearls of poker wisdom that I can share with you guys here on the blog from the books I am reading, and this one is a very simple concept and yet something that, the more I think about it, the more I think it is true in most cases. And here it is:

Where you are the preflop aggressor, and your opponent unexpectedly leads out at the pot before you have a chance to act on the flop, it is highly unlikely that he or she has hit a monster hand. With a good hand they might be betting to protect their hand or find out where they are at, but it is very unlikely that they have made a monster hand.

There it is. Now let's think about where this principle is applicable in all of our regular poker play for a moment:

You have pocket Queens earlyish in a 1-table sitngo, and you are in middle position. UTG raises the 40-chip big blind to 120 chips. You reraise from MP to 450 chips. Everyone else folds around to the utg player, who flat calls your 450-chip raise. The flop comes down KK8 rainbow, and there are 960 chips in the pot.

Your UTG opponent now suddenly leads out for 400 chips. Most of the time, using the principle above, you are safe to move in the rest of your stack here without too much worry that you are beaten. Yes of course every once in a while you are going to run into pocket Aces pocket 8s, but as a general rule, think about what your opponent just did here on the flop. He knows that you are the preflop aggressor, since you put in the last raise, a sizeable one at that. So he knows that if he checks on this flop, you are almost certain to bet given your preflop aggression and given the size of the pot already here on the flop. You've represented something strong and you almost "have" to bet out here if UTG checks the action to you on this flop. So, if he has something like big slick or KQs and has just flopped trip Kings, why would he ever bet out here? Why would he not instead wait for you to bet and then raise you allin? That's what I would do. Wouldn't you, with a monster hand like that if you were the UTG player in this example? Probably.

And that's exactly why this point is so valid. Knowing that you are going to bet the flop if he checks, your opponent in most cases would not want to bet out on this flop, especially in a sitngo where the stacks are not all too deep, because check-raising you allin is such a stronger and more profitable move for him if he has in fact flopped a monster. Now think for a minute about what this kind of lead bet from your opponent does likely mean in this scenario. As we've discussed he is not likely to lead out with a monster like trip Kings here, since he can so much more profitably check-raise you in this spot. But what if he holds a hand like JJ or TT? Those would be perfect candidates to lead out here. He knows if he checks this flop, you are going to bet and he will likely have to lay down a decent pocket pair hand. And, with the pair on the flop, he may think he has a reasonable chance of being ahead if you are holding something like AQ or a medium pocket pair yourself, something like 99 or TT. Same thing if he holds a hand like A8s, or even 98s if he is a preflop raise-callin donkey. Those are the much more likely candidate hands for your opponent to be betting out with UTG on the KK8 flop, because with those hands he might want to find out right away if he is ahead or behind, and he knows he will have to lay down to your likely bet if he checks to you in this spot. Whereas, again, if he has just flopped trip Kings, he will usually want to check to you precisely because he knows you will bet out here, which he can then check-raise and either make you lay down or take all your chips.

Now of course, as with any rule, there are exceptions, and in this case the exceptions primarily relate to either the really dopey players or the really tricky players. The dopes aren't even going to realize the tremendous check-raising opportunity they are presented with here when they flop trip Kings after your preflop reraise, and they may just bet out because they like their cards and they've connected well with the flop. Similarly, but different of course, a very tricky player -- in particular, one who thinks that you are a thinking player as well -- might well have the presence of mind to bet out with the trip Kings here purposefully because he knows it will seem as if he does not have a monster hand if he bets out. That is a somewhat advanced play, but even in our blonkey group, and certainly among the "real" poker players out there, you are apt to run in to a fair number of people who will bet out with their trips in this situation. All that being said, as a general rule, if you have been the clear preflop aggressor and an opponent unexpectedly leads out into you on the flop, you will do far better over time by calling or raising with your own strong hands than you will by folding to what is not likely the way he or she would be playing a true monster flop in this situation.

See you all tonight for the pot-limit holdem Skill Series at 9:30pm ET on full tilt!

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Sunday Bloody Sunday, But Another FTOPS Sat Win

Ahhhhhh. Is there anything better than heading on to public transportation on a Monday morning? In glorious New York, the subway riders are even more polite and cheery than usual on Mondays, and I have to tell you, what a pleasure to be around, all of them. Today's special was the clown who would not get out of the way to let some other people off the subway at the business stop in midtown, I guess just because he thought he should be allowed to block the entire doorway since he didn't feel like going to work. Or something. It's always something new with these guys. But don't worry, I elbowed him good in the ribs as I went by. Asshole.

Anyways, that last paragraph pretty much sums up how I feel after a long night of poker on Sunday night on both full tilt and pokerstars. Actually I only played one sitngo on stars, but on full tilt I ran of bunch of 6-max and full ring $55 turbo sngs, plus an mtt or two and a few satellites as well. And unsurprisingly, it was a little bit of good, a larger amount of bad, and a whole lotta ugly. Let me show you what I mean.

But first...

Don't forget, tonight is 6-max nlh blonkament time again at Mondays at the Hoy on full tilt. The time is 10pm ET, the password as always is "hammer", and we are located under the "Private" tab under "Tournaments" on the full tilt lobby interface. Come on by, and as a reminder, anyone is allowed and in fact encouraged to play the MATH every week, so don't be shy! Even if you've never played with the bloggers before but have always wanted to try, let tonight be your time to shine. We often have first-timers at the Hoy, and I have to tell you, they have had an ordinately good performance as a rule when losing their MATH virginity, so let that be you tonight and come out with your $26 in tow. Just don't expect solid play, that's really the only requirement. We are all blonkeys after all. But you can expect to have a good time, play some aggressive poker, and have a chance to get yourself known or at least recognized by a group of guys who all love to play and write about poker in their various blogs. And of course I will list n link you here tomorrow if you cash in the tournament tonight. So come out tonight at 10pm ET and join the fun at Mondays at the Hoy on full tilt! Winner gets to take home Giselle up there for one night as well, although only if Tom Brady is too hobbled to catch you. Best of luck with that.

OK so back to this weekend. I played the donkament on Friday, ran my KQ into eventual winner SoxLover's QJ on a two-Jack board and IGH somewhere short of the final table as a result. Ran a few other sngs, did reasonably well, and called it a night somewhat early as I recall. On Saturday I managed to squeeze in a couple of 4-tabling sng sessions in the afternoon, but then slept right through the evening without logging back in, having already secured my 200 FPP points and thus Gold Iron Man status for the month of January, while also working tantalizingly close to earning out my entire end-of-year Iron Man bonus of $750 or so. And then came Sunday.

Sunday saw me run a bunch more of these $55 turbo sngs, something which I am having a lot of success at and which I am very pleased to say I seem to have discovered a winning formula to. I could probably 10-table these things if my laptop monitor was big enough to fit more than 4 at a time at the smallest size I prefer to play at, without suffering hardly any degradation in my quality of play, because it really is pretty close to formulaic at this point until you get down to the bubble times when the shizz gets really interesting and I really find myself playing as much by "feel" as anything else. I will definitely be running my series of turbo sng strategy posts one day soon, but as is often the case with me I find myself having too much pokery stuff to say every day and just don't end up getting to them. But they're all about 75% written and they will definitely be going up one day soon, I promise.

Anyways, as is typical for a Sunday, I took an inordinately large (even for me) number of recockulous suckout-eliminations from tournaments on the day, as well as some truly primo setup hands. I will show you without a doubt my favorite of the many of these hands I saw on Sunday, and in keeping with my stated attempts to "get it right" I'm just going to post the actual hand history here:

Full Tilt Poker Game #5022098357: $55 + $5 Sit & Go (Turbo) (38130698), Table 1 - 25/50 - No Limit Hold'em - 20:46:01 ET - 2008/01/27
Seat 1: toribum (1,345)
Seat 3: hoyazo (2,450) So notice, I'm already in great chip position early in this thing, just trying to play tight and not make any big mistakes or lose any big pots.
Seat 4: zoey11 (2,845)
Seat 5: edmiami (420)
Seat 6: NVN76 (1,940)
hoyazo posts the small blind of 25
zoey11 posts the big blind of 50
The button is in seat #1
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to hoyazo [8d 8h]
edmiami folds
NVN76 folds
toribum calls 50
hoyazo calls 25 Again, playing it conservatively, much more so than usual for me in fact, which is fairly typical for me with a nice stack early on in a turbo sng.
zoey11 checks
*** FLOP *** [4s 8c 4d] Ding ding ding!
hoyazo checks This is how much of a man I am. Even I am not going to bet out with the flopped overboat on a checked flop. Why bother?
zoey11 checks
toribum checks
*** TURN *** [4s 8c 4d] [Qh]
hoyazo checks Did I mention I am a mega man?
zoey11 checks
toribum bets 150
hoyazo has 15 seconds left to act
hoyazo calls 150 Serious manliness once again.
zoey11 folds
*** RIVER *** [4s 8c 4d Qh] [6s]
hoyazo bets 250 That's right biatch. Now you're gonna have to call it too!
toribum has 15 seconds left to act
msandler1403 (12:15:13 AM): toribum has 15 seconds left to act
toribum raises to 600 Hahahahahah I love being the dominant male.
hoyazo has 15 seconds left to act
hoyazo raises to 1,144 Reverse hoy, special just for this guy.
toribum raises to 1,145, and is all in
hoyazo calls 1
*** SHOW DOWN ***
toribum shows [4h 4c] four of a kind, Fours Total, complete stunned silence.
hoyazo mucks
toribum wins the pot (2,740) with four of a kind, Fours
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 2,740 | Rake 0
Board: [4s 8c 4d Qh 6s]
Seat 1: toribum (button) showed [4h 4c] and won (2,740) with four of a kind, Fours
Seat 3: hoyazo (small blind) mucked [8d 8h] - a full house, Eights full of Fours Crickets chirping.
Seat 4: zoey11 (big blind) folded on the Turn
Seat 5: edmiami didn't bet (folded)
Seat 6: NVN76 didn't bet (folded)

Now, I am happy to say that in the end I won that particular sng outright anyways, so no hard feelings. But for a minute there it was like I was playing back on pokerstars all over again. Nothing quite like slow-playing the flopped overboat right into flopped quads, is there? Unbelievable. And that was pretty much par for the course on the night. That fit in quite nicely with the couple of dominated-hand suckouts I suffered at the final tables of events I really wanted to win on Sunday, including my $75 token attempt to satellite in to last night's NL Avatar Race where I ran AQ into the mighty Q4 on the bubble and lost to a 4 on the flop. Q4o, that is a hard hand to beat right there.

On the good side, I did somehow manage to outlast the Sunday donkery for this:

So I am in to FTOPS #1, which is coming up a week from this Wednesday, on February 6, at 9pm ET. This is a straight-up $216 buyin nlh tournament, the same tournament that full tilt has started the FTOPS with for at least four or five series in a row now, and I again managed to satellite in for around my usual 30% or so of the true buyin price. This $10 rebuy satellite has proven to be a gold mine for me as far as the FTOPS is concerned, as this time around I won my way in on just my second attempt at this rebuy sat. The first time was $11 down the drain on a final table suckout, and this time was $31 thanks to an early double-rebuy from me, for a total of $42 spent to win the $216 buyin. I'll take it.

Other good news from Sunday night is that in the middle of one of my turbo sngs, I got the window popping up informing me that I had cleared my entire end-of-year Iron Man bonus of $750. In the end, it wasn't even that hard. And I did it almost exclusively by playing tournaments -- sngs, mostly, with some mtt's and a little omaha cash thrown in, but not much of either of those. Basically the $55 and $110 turbo sngs rode me to the bonus, with 4 days to spare. Thank you full tilt, and thank you for the sucking fuckouts all night on Sunday night, easily costing me the entire value of the $750 bonus and then some. You are so fucking clever you guys. So clever.

Before I go, here is another example of a point I have made here several times on the blog about not calling allins in key spots with little pocket pairs, most recently just a couple of weeks ago when 22 called my allin in the Mookie and busted me in the first half hour or so. So I am in a $20 rebuy satellite to the FTOPS ME last night -- the first time I have attempted to satellite in to the ME this time around -- and I have amassed a nice chip lead with 4 players remaining, with me at around 12k to 8k to 6k to 5k for the 4 players left. Then, the guy with 6k sucks out on the guy in 2nd place, eventually taking the rest of his miniscule stack on the very next hand on a tilt-push. Now that guy has more than my stack, and of course not 3 hands later, he sucks out again on the remaining player, leaving me and my beautiful prior chip lead now at a 20k to 10k chip deficit heading into heads-up play, against a monkey who didn't have a clue how to get himself into good situations late in the game in mtt satellites. I hate when that happens, and it underscores the importance of being the guy to eliminate the final player or two before heads-up play, or else you often find yourself at a chip deficit even if you had been leading with just a few players remaining.

Anyways, so it's just me and this other guy, in essentially a winner-take-all heads-up battle for one FTOPS ME seat, and I look down to find 55 in the small blind against his button. Although I have closed the gap some from the starting 2-to-1 chip deficit in hu play, I am still down in chips and I am looking to win the blinds and antes so that I can get into the chip lead, always crucial in heads-up play so that I can win the entire tournament with one big hand. So I push allin as I had been with most pocket pairs during the hu session:

The guy pauses for less than 2 seconds, and types in the chat, "I have to call."

Another 2 seconds and he also types in "gg and good luck in the tourney."

Then he calls with? Check it out:

Yep. Pocket 6s. Now of course I turned out to have pocket 5s and of course he won the hand and the satellite and the ME seat, while I had to settle for a sweetass $5 cash prize for second place. Gross. But here's the thing: Why would he call this bet here? Why on earth? He has the chip lead in heads-up play for crying out loud. If he folds, we are still even in chips with both over 14,500, and he lives to fight another day with 100% certainty. But instead, he says he "has to call". Has to call? Allin with the chip lead heads-up with pocket 6s and you have to call? Come on donkey. Unless there was a man in a ski mask with a gun to your head at your pc, then you most assuredly did not "have" to call, and in fact, calling there is a putrid poker play. I just raised you allin before the flop, so the odds of me having two cards higher than 6s are probably what, 90%? And the chance of me having a pocket pair higher than 6s are what, maybe 15-20%? Pick your numbers, but the point I am making here again today just as I have said it before is, you should not call allins preflop with low pocket pairs for significant chips in key situations. It makes no sense. When you have the chip lead and are down to heads-up, such a move becomes even more laughable than usual. You are either taking a chance to race for all your chips in a spot where you already have the lead in chips, or you are going to be dominated a significant percentage of the time since the other guy already raised allin before the flop. Why do it? Don't do it. It works against me like an absolute charm of course, but against your average player, calling allins for significant chips when the chip leader in heads-up play is moronic. Learn this, and you will be ahead of the game in late-stage tournament play already right off the bat, and this applies very well to both mtts and sngs.

OK that's all for today. I'll see you tonight for Mondays at the Hoy on full tilt! And don't forget, Lost is back for the first of eight powerful episodes this season, coming this Thursday night at 9pm ET on ABC. Can't wait!

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Isn't it Time to Change the Name to Poker Chica?

LJ has done it again! Late Thursday night / Friday morning, this time on pokerstars in the 1573-entrants $25k guaranteed tournament. Go check it out for yourselves -- another $4k+ score. Wtg LJ!!!


Friday, January 25, 2008

On Poker Blogging

Another day, another blogger tournament win by Surflexus, who took down Riverchasers Razz last night. Everyone knows you have to be kind of a card rack to win at razz, and I would say it is easily the most luck-based of all the major poker variants, but what can you say when Surf, a blonkament dominator extraordinaire who has won 85,000 Mookies, 14,000 MATHs and I'm sure a bunch of Riverchasers to go along with them, makes another win other than that the man really knows how to play the game. Almost as interesting is that Gary Cox came in 2nd place in razz on Thursday night, just a week or so after taking down the Skill Series razz game. In typical Gary fashion he will also probably attribute his second nice razz performance in a week just to luck, but obviously both of these guys know their poker well and have figured out the formula to succeeding in razz with donkey shithead motherfuckers bloggers. As has often been the case recently, I was clueless as to this formula, donking out early as I played some truly horrific poker in both razz and an FTOPS O8 sat along with KOD and CK. I could not catch a single break in razz until one hand when I was already allin, and I had people catch perfect on me several times in questionable situations to leave me with no chance early on.

But I played like shit last night. I just wasn't in the mood to play, as I have not really been for most of this week. I know just what it is that's bothering me lately and I feel quite constricted in writing about it as I'm sure it will just perpetuate the problem and that's not good for anyone. I do remember when it really used to get to me when someone would say in their blog or in a blog comment somewhere that I made a bad play or was a bad player in general. That kinda stuff usually rolls right off me nowadays. But I understand very well that feeling when someone reads something in my blog that doesn't describe a play they made in exactly the way they want to. But you know what? I can say with factual certainty that some people I like and respect have overreacted to things in my blog of late, several times over the past few months in fact. I guess I'm just stuck with an image now, one of a guy who recklessly insults people here and tries to make people look or feel bad about their play. I certainly don't think that is even a remotely accurate portrayal of anything that happens here at my blog, but if that's what people think, then that's what people think and there's no use to me just sitting here and denying that that is my intention. My main goal here on the blog is and always has been to provide genuine analysis of poker and of the hands I see on a regular basis during my nightly poker activities, and to help in what little way that I can to educate myself and whoever else might actually be able to learn something once in a while from reading here.

For example, when I say someone got lucky or even that someone is a lucky player in general, I am not insulting them, and that's a fact. We got into this a little bit on buddydank radio the other night, but let me just say for the record that there is no way calling someone "lucky" is an insult. No way. People read that here and they get all up in arms about it, and the next thing I know I'm just reading my normal list of blogs and blog comments, and poof! there is someone ripping me a new anus for daring to call them lucky on my blog. Why is that? Why would that possibly bother you so much? I contend it is because there is a preconceived notion that I am some kind of asshole blogger and I'm trying to embarrass you, which of course could not be further from the truth (either part of that statement). Again I know we discussed this briefly on air during the Mookie this week, but to be clear, I would like to be called a luckbox by people. In fact I would love it. I only wish that I had the runs of cards that would support such a claim and that it was roundly thought that I was a lucky mofo. Where in the shit is the insult buried in that? Everyone gets a little lucky to do well in poker tournaments, and why on earth would it bother me if people thought I was lucky? I just don't understand it. But lord knows, when I ever dare say that someone else got lucky one time, most of the time they get fucking furious and let their frustration out on their own blogs or somewhere else. You would think I said that they suck at poker or something, which if you scan my archives I don't think you'll find me saying about any of you. Ever.

Same thing really with me stating that someone else is "loose" or "aggro" or whatever descriptive adjective I would use to describe their poker play. I have news for you guys -- "loose" is not an insult. The word does not judge in any way at all. It is simply a description, a description that fits a good number of poker players out there. That's why there are LAGs and there are TAGs in the world. Some people are loose. Some people win money playing loosely, especially early in hands. Look at Negreanu. Look at Gus Hansen. These guys will see a ton of flops with in many cases shitcocklian cards, and they play well enough after the flop to be profitable playing this style. "Loose" is not an insult, unless the reader wants to make it into one. "Aggro" should not be insulting to any of you, unless you are already insecure yourself about your level of aggro or something and come into this with preconceived notions of how you wish you were perceived by others at the tables. Shit, I play aggro. Not only am I not insulted when other people say that about me (which happens all the time btw), but I publicly proclaim it here. Am I crazy to say this in a public form, to admit that I play aggressive poker? Am I just being self-effacing? No, of course not. It's a descriptor of my playing style, and it is what it is. Someone thinks I play loose early in tournaments? OK, so be it. I am really struggling to understand why some people would be so defensive about this kind of thing, and yet every time I use a word like that about someone, I read about it, be it in blog posts, blog comments or emails, again and again and again. I keep coming back to it being related to an image that I have, one that I know is perpetuated by a lot of the bloggers out there about me, of being some kind of an insulting, pompous jerk. Pompous? Yes. Without a doubt. That is a badge I wear brazenly. Insulting? Ima go with No on that one. You can have your own thoughts.

Twice already just in this short year on the blog I have been accused of getting a hand history wrong that I in fact got completely right (actually one time I had the player involved wrong but the action on the hand absolutely correct). Both times the accusations came from people who in reality I guess just did not agree with my analysis of the hand in question, and/or who felt genuinely insulted by what I had to say about them. Yet in both cases, there were no insults involved. One time I referred to a player who had made a number of loose calls as having made some loose calls. That was and is a fact, a fact which the player in question to this day has tried to use fuzzy math, generalized insults and any other means available to him to refuse to open his mind about. That's fine, play the game how you want and analyze (or refuse to analyze) your play however makes you happy. And I mean that. But you can't make me have insulted you just by saying and acting like I did. When you call allins with Ace-rag and with tiny pocket pairs on four occasions during the last 90 minutes of a tournament, you just decided for yourself that you are making loose calls. Instead of spending days after the fact trying to insult me, my blog, my blog style, and my entire profession all to argue that you were not making the loose calls that you were in fact making, why not instead explain why you did in fact make those calls. Or -- imagine this -- open your mind to possibly changing that approach in the future. At least consider that someone else realized how loose those calls were, and think honestly and introspectively about why you made the calls that you made. If you go through that exercise and decide that you are happy with your decisionmaking, then so be it, that in my view is a great outcome. I don't even necessarily disagree with you -- maybe the situations in question called for some loose calling from you. But you still made some loose calls, and I'm just the messenger writing about it in a non-insulting way. I'm not putting you down when I say you made some loose calls, any more than I put myself down when I say like I have ten times in the past couple of weeks that I bet and called with and then hit a million draws in the Riverchasers O8 event earlier this month. It is an unbiased, objective non-judgmental observation about what happened in a poker tournament. There is no insult there.

On the other occasion, I described literally exactly how a particular hand finished out, and one of the players involved was disappointed with me for not portraying their play better in the way I described the hand. Christ guys. My blog isn't here to make anyone look good. My blog is here for me to write about how I perceived certain plays that have been made, and I am extremely proud to say that I've never used this blog, or anyone else's blog comments, on even one measly occasion, to present an inaccurate view of any poker play for any purpose other than the analysis of the poker itself. Just because I don't agree with the way you saw your play in a hand, that doesn't mean I am lying or trying to insult you, that I do not have respect for you, or any other negative thing. It actually most likely means that we actually have two genuinely different views about the same poker play. And since that happens...oh....about 25,000 times a day in the world of poker, that shouldn't be surprising to anyone, and no one should feel insulted if, say, they think calling with that draw on the flop was a smart play and I think it was overly loose. If the "right" play was always obvious and clear, then this game wouldn't be even a fraction as fun as it is, and there wouldn't be nearly so much variation in the kinds of plays nor in the quality of players we all run into on a regular basis at the tables, live or online.

I guess all this is a long way of saying that I am disappointed in a lot of what I see out there lately as far as people's reactions to statements in my blog. Obviously a lot of you are disappointed with me as well, and that is something I will have to accept and deal with, and figure out the appropriate reaction to. In fact, in that regard, I am here to say today that I am really going to go out of my way to present things in as fair and unbiased of a fashion as I can here on the blog from here on. Frankly this is what I always have done here, but I am going to try to go out of my way to choose my words and structure my sentences in ways that are not designed to leave people feeling insulted about my thoughts on some poker they may have been involved in. Hopefully some of you will pick up on this and notice the differences to some small degree. But I have no doubt that I will fail in this attempt, I'm sure again and again and again, because many of you are no different from me in that it can be really annoying reading about yourself in anyone's else blog in anything other than a supremely positive and awesome light.

And that's exactly the thing: this is only going to be a small difference from the way I already approach writing in my blog. I'm not proud of everything I've ever said here on the blog, but I have only told the truth about all of my poker thoughts and I've even tried to do so in a way that goes out of my way not to call anyone out or make anyone look or feel bad about reading what I write. But I am not going to keep my opinions to myself. That's not what this blog was, is or ever will be. I don't want it to be. If someone makes a call at mathematically poor pot odds and wins a big pot, I might use that hand as a example here to show my thoughts on the odds involved in making that call. That's what I've always done here and I will continue to do it, and I know I am better off from thinking through and analyzing hands like that here, and it is my hope that some of you might be better off for that discussion as well. What I will do is try my hardest to go out of my way not to make the person who made the call feel negative about reading that particular post, which is something that I've made a focus for a good year or two here but which I am obviously still not as successful at as I would like to be.

But this effort from me is going to require some hard work from my readers as well. I challenge you all to question some of the things you have read, heard and maybe even said about me, and might at this point just assume are true about me and my blog. The idea for example that I only talk about the poker books I've read so that I can sound authoritative, as opposed to the real reason I write about that (I know this is just about the dumbest idea I can imagine, but I actually have heard that said about me). The idea for example that I do not have respect for my opponents, something which I think could not be further from the truth and which I don't think even remotely follows from the fact that I enjoy and feel that my game improves from questioning and debating plays I see at the poker tables. The idea that I somehow can dish it out but can't take it in, which again is just about as inaccurate about me as it could be about anyone, given the recockulous amount of negativism and haterism that follows me wherever I go, along with the fact that I let all of your filthy insulting negatory comments sit on my blog for the whole lot of you to read.

I guess what I'm saying is, I am really going to go out of my way even more than I already do to challenge my own approach to analyzing poker plays and poker hands made by other people who might read here in the blonkaments and otherwise. But along with that effort, I challenge all who read here to try to keep a more open mind about what I am saying and how I am saying it here in 2008. I challenge you to challenge your own assumptions about me, about my intent with this blog, and about the kind of person you think I am. I ask that you consider whether maybe you are guilty of certain preconceived notions about me based on ideas formulated either a long time ago and/or based on faulty assumptions. My blog has changed a lot over the past three years of writing every day -- an awful lot -- and I like to think that most of us have open-enough minds to allow for people to change their approach over the three years and 600+ posts that have been here. Believe me, when I go back and read some of my earlier posts, I don't even recognize that guy. Go check my early archives out sometimes. It's funny, really. But I am constantly evolving as a person, as a poker player, and as a "writer". I would like you all to join me in challenging the way things have been thought of and done here in the past, and try to read what I say here at face value, leaving our preconceived notions, our own personal biases and especially our egos at the door and simply enjoying what I write for what it is. I'm going to make a real effort on this point, and all I ask is some of the same from you all, which I believe we are all entitled to.

My effort on this point starts tonight, in my rant-free zone that is known as the donkament at 9pm ET on full tilt (password is "donkarama"). As usual I do not know if I can be there tonight, but in the past I have usually found a way to sneak in, even if it's a few minutes late. So come and slug it out in the $1 rebuy tonight if you are around, still the best poker therapy I know of in the online poker world. And next week, I promise some actual poker strategy and analysis posts like I've always loved to write. Deal?

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Curse Rolls On, and Live on Wednesday Night

Wow. What a night. Three of my favorite things happened in conjunction with each other on Wednesday night during my regular poker travels. First and of the least significance, I won another $75 token in the 9:45pm ET token frenzy on full tilt. This was by far the longest token frenzy I have ever played in (and I've played in many, believe you me), with the token bubble not bursting at the 23-players threshold until nearly 11:30pm ET. Usually these things are over maybe 15, maybe 20 minutes tops into Hour #2, but for whatever reason last night things conspired to make this thing just roll on and on and on. I don't think it was short stacks sucking out or anything, and in fact at least from my own personal table experience it seemed to be a preponderance of mega-stalling and table collaboration more than anything else that was the culprit. But whatever the reason, by the time the smoke had finally cleared just a shade before 11:30pm on the East Coast, myself, chitwood and Smokkee had all prevailed and won ourselves a $75 token to get donked out of a larger-buyin tournament with one day soon.

Speaking of which, why does full tilt insist on playing these multi-seat satellites out once all of the tokens or seats or whatever have been awarded? In other words, I know from my return to pokerstars this week that when they run a multi-seat sattelite such as the regular ones into their nightly 50-50 copycat tournament that also runs at 9:30pm ET just like full tilt's, once the bubble breaks, the tournament automatically ends, and everyone left is declared the 1st place winner. And yet, on full tilt, they make you sit there and have everyone push every hand until there is one lucksack left standing at the end, and only then do they award the tokens to all the winners. Why do this? Why take the time from everyone else, when they could instead be moving on a few minutes sooner to the cash tables, another sng or an mtt and paying that valuable rake to full tilt that much quicker? And why take up the additional bandwith from full tilt's perspective, which although is not much in the greater scheme of things, surely has some marginal cost associated with it from an infrastructure and variable cost perspective? And then of course there are guys like me who, when presented with the opportunity, cannot help but piss everyone else off by folding for several hands once the bubble bursts, simply because I can and it is fun to have everyone go monkey-crazy in the chat. But why even allow me to do this? It's meaningless to anyone, has no discernible benefits, and has some marginal cost increases and revenue delays or losses to full tilt as a result. Why, full tilt, why?

Anyways, back to last night. The second super fun thing that happened to me on Wednesday night was running KK into flopped quads in the Mookie. Yes, the Mookie curse rolled on and how on the evening, as I received my only hand even close to a premium at the very last hand of the first hour, pocket Kings, and knowing that this will be my one premium hand of the next month in this thing, I opted to just smooth call Rake Feeder's middle position raise rather than reraise it myself, figuring I will ensure that I win a bigger pot as well as being able to fold when the inevitable Ace hits the flop as soon as my chips are in the middle. Nice Wonka also called the raise behind me, and three of us saw a flop of 886 with two hearts. Other than flopping a set of course, this was just about the perfect flop for my Kings. A paired board, so only two cards instead of the normal three that could have hit either of my opponents. And since I was a bit short and we were already an hour in to the tournament, what I really needed was a double-up, which meant that I was actually happy to have the possible straight and possible flush draws on the board too, figuring this would increase my chances of being called. So Rake Feeder led out on the continuation bet on this raggy flop, which I immediately pushed allin on with my last chips that were probably about twice the size of the current pot. Wonka folded what turned out to be pocket 7s, and Rake Feeder wasted no time in calling and flipping up pocket 8s for the quadsflop. Gotta love it. I take KK up against 88, get close to the perfect flop for me and get it allin, and BOOOooooooooom! Quad eights. Wonderful. That is at least the second time in the past few months that I have gotten KK allin against a lower pocket pair in the Mookie and then ran into flopped quads. It's like full tilt is sticking it to me. I mean, isn't it enough to just dish out the set to the guy? Do you have to quad his ass up just to make me look and feel that small? Come on now. So from there I was crippled, and although I did manage to more than quarduple from there using my mad skillz, I eventually ran 99 into QQ and since I haven't beaten an opponent's QQ since early in the first Bush administration, we knew that one was done. I was sure I would flop quad 9s, but somehow that was just not meant to be and IGH in the middle of the Mookie pack once again. So that was the second thing that I loved about my Wednesday night poker action at the virtual tables.

But the best part of all about Wednesday night for me was definitely Buddydank radio. As those of you who listened know, I made my virgin appearance on the show this week and I have to say, I had a fucking blast. I really don't know how good of a job I did or how interesting I was, although I did get some positive feeback from people over the girly but you know how it is a lot of people are afraid I will rant about them or something if they don't say nice things like that about me. It sure felt like we were doing a fun show, though I do regret somewhat that we kinda got a little bit away from the Mookie at the very end of the tournament, which btw was one by poser New England fan Byron after a run to the final table and then a strong performance when down to the last few players to take it down. I watch these guys and it's so obvious why I will never win a Mookie -- these guys suck out like champions! And don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to cheapen bdidde's or anyone else's performance last night. But it took Byron a mega river suckout to even make it to the final table, and I believe I saw one more setuppy kind of hand (QQ and JJ 5-handed or something like that) along the way at the final table to get him a huge stack. I just don't ever have that happen to me deep in the Mookie. Ever. If anything I am the exact opposite -- always the victim of the cooler beat, the setup hand, whatever it takes to prevent me from ever winning this fucking thing. I'm the guy who gets AQ against KK when 4-handed. I'm the guy who gets AQ against 99 and can't win a race 4-handed. I'm the guy who suffers the 13% resuck at the river when allin heads-up with the chip lead. And the guy (or gal) who wins the Mookie every week is pretty much always the opposite. It's the person who called the pot-sized bet with just the open-end straight draw on the turn and then hits it. It's the sucker-outer. And none of those things are ever me, not in the Mookie anyways. I've been that guy in every other blonkament from time to time, including my most recent Riverchasers win when I hit a ton of draws all through the night on my way to victory, but simply never in the Mookie. And I never will.

Anyways, so being on Buddydank radio was a really fun highlight of my poker blogging career, and I only hope it was as much fun to listen to as it was for me to be a part of this week. I absolutely loved the group of Don, Chad, Scott and Buddy, and I think in the end we all share the same sense of humor and sensibility about poker and about blogging in general. I also think it helps that we are all pretty good poker players in our own right as well, which adds to the analysis and some of the poker decisions we can discuss on line. But I got to be interviewed by Buddy and answer some questions for the first time about the genesis of my blog that I always thought I would be answering in a Mookie champion's profile that at this point will obviously never come. I spoke a little bit about my outlook on poker and about my love for and dedication to blogging regularly about the game. I talked a little bit about the kind of games that I am focusing on these days in my poker play. And we all had a great time playing "Lucky or Not?" about some of our favorite poker bloggers and their penchant for hitting big cards at big times at the tables. Like I said, one thing I found out yesterday is that when you are on Buddydank radio, you don't get to listen to Buddydank radio, so I really have no clue how it all went over to the audience, but from my perspective I had an absolute blast.

In the end, I understand that the number of listeners for the radio show last night was right up there with the highest it has ever been, so that I guess can be taken as a good sign that people were interested in the team that was on last night and that is a good thing. And I recall at some points during the broadcast receiving updates from Buddy about the numbers of listeners, which almost all through the night were even higher than the number of people still remaining in the Mookie, including at the very end of the night when Pokerfool lucksacked his way to not one but two consecutive allin-pushfest wins against 16 and 12 fellow bloggers, respectively, to the tune of $308.02 won in two consecutive 50 FPP supersatellites to the 750k. Last I recall there were still 20-something people online even after 1am as the Mookie came to a close, so again I will say I had a blast on air, it was much harder than I thought it would be to keep up with everything, and just a big thank you to Buddy and to Don for having me on their show for the entire night's run. Good times.

OK that's all I got for ya today. Don't forget tonight's Riverchasers event at 9pm ET on full tilt (password as always is "riverchasers"). And tonight is gonna be a fun one -- Razz.

Ugh. I just threw up in my mouth as I typed that word. See you tonight anyways though at 9pm !

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Blogger Tournament Nirvana, and Eye Tells

Congratulations to LJ and to Rake Feeder for chopping up the latest Skill Series tournament, this week in Omaha 8 or Better, after Rake Feeder overcame a more than 4-to-1 chip deficit when down to just three players remaining. As I have said about most of the Skill Series tournaments so far, having played in the O8 game last night I will say without hesitation that winning this thing is quite an impressive feat. I was going to write a whole post all about the play last night, but in the end let me just say that never have I seen so many players calling raises -- and even raising themselves -- in O8 with hands like 668J, 7799, and 4567, the exact worst kinds of hands in this game. I got burned by players doing this all night to end with me busting in the middle of the pack -- I shouldn't even have lasted that long but I got lucky a few times when down to a short stack -- but I will say again, somehow making it through this minefield is really something to be proud of in my view. And I will say this -- the crowds in the Skill Series games have been truly awesome. I have never ever been one to count the people in the tournaments we play, and I don't evaluate myself or anyone else or their tournaments by how many people show up in absolute numbers. But, I am thrilled beyond my wildest expectations that we are getting 40-50 players every Tuesday night to come out and play together as a group in some non-holdem games. And part of me really enjoys seeing everyone playing these games ways. Some of those people are actually winning doing it, and others are lasting far and at least making it hard for everyone else to put them on hands. I guess all I'm trying to say is that I could not be happier with how many people are interested in playing something other than holdem on full tilt every Tuesday night, and I already really look forward to the Skill Series as one of my favorite times with my fake internet friends (and haters) each week.

As an aside, this has happened kinda quietly from my perspective, but has anyone noticed how right now seems to me to be the height of blogger private tournaments? Think about this for a minute. There is no BBT going to really create an "artficial", temporary incentive for people to play, and yet just look at the regular crowds we are seeing in what is now 5+ nights a week of blonkaments. I am sure things like the BBT, the big overlay Smokkee has secured for his weekly Tuesday night Bodog tournament and some other interesting developments like knockouts and changes to some non-holdem games all the time have all contributed, but just look at what we are doing together every week now. I've been getting more than 30 people for the MATH on most Mondays. The Skill Series on Tuesday has been drawing close to 50 people a week to play games that many people (clearly) don't even have the first clue how to play. Smokkee has reported a record turnout for the bodonkey now several weeks running, including 37 players last night. On Bodog, easily the worst poker client ever created! That seems crazy to me. Of course on Wednesdays you have the Mookie and his usual crowd of 60-80 people, and again I'm talking without the BBT. The Thursday Riverchasers tournament, which I remember started off as just mostly RC guys and a few friends from the Boathouse, has now become the place to be online on Thursday nights, also bringing in between 50-80 players or more on most nights it runs. And on Fridays of course there is the donkament, which also continues to grow and seems to be pulling in a good 25 or so players every week on a night when most people cooler than me are out partying it up. Then of course there is the monthly Big Game and HORSE deep stack event on Sunday evenings, another hard night to play for many people, and those too tend to draw 20 or more even with no BBT involved, even with the Big Game's lofty $75 pricetag.

Then I think back to just a year ago. I had just started up the Hoy and was getting maybe 15 or so players every week to come out on pokerstars. The WWdN, also on stars, was well beyond its heyday a few years back when I used to play this thing with 120 of my closest friends, and was in fact heading for its demise. The Mookie was there and already doing well, but was probably averaging more like 40 or so players than the nearly twice that we seem to get most Wednesday nights these days. There was no Thursday tournament, there was no bodog tournament and there were really no weekend tournaments to speak of -- no donkament yet, not really a Big Game and that was it. The private blogger tournament as an institution was maybe not dying, but it was past its prime that is for sure. Now just one year later, the blonkaments that existed then have nearly doubled on average, and a bunch of new ones have arisen as well that are every bit as big and as fun and as much looked-forward-to every week as the older ones, even with Wil and his WWdN that really started it all falling by the wayside. And all this proliferation has happened despite what a very small minority of bloggers have complained about as far as people now using the blonkaments as a springboard to post negative comments about people's plays every day in their blogs, insulting people, whatever. Personally, I will always chuckle at the attempts to curb free speech from some people who complain about what others write in their own personal blogs and who claim themselves to be such big proponents of blog-what-you-want, but I guess it is really noteworthy to me and very obvious just now with the bodonkey growing and the Skill Series becoming what it is so quickly, just now much everyone is in to the private tournaments, really more so at this very moment that at any time before. I am thrilled about that and look forward to what the future will bring on that front.

So yeah tonight is the Mookie, 10pm ET on full tilt, password as always for Mookie's events is "vegas1". My prop bet with Mook is still in effect -- three months of Mookie buyins for the winner from the non-winner if either one of us wins the tournament during 2008 -- although with our dual final table performances last week it is probably not likely to happen again for me at least anytime soon. That said, I have been playing awesome in the blonkaments recently, on one of my best stretches since I started playing these things a few years ago in fact, so I guess you never know. Historically I have not gotten the cards or the luck needed to last in the Mookie in particular, but like I said I did final table it last week so who knows what will happen. And be sure to tune in once again to Buddydank Radio, where I understand Don and crew will be taking over once again in what is sure to be another top notch show for the radio program that is at its absolute best ever right now, right along with the blonkaments in general these days.

Before I go today, I wanted to share something I read in my latest poker book that I've just completed this week. The book was called Beyond Tells, by James McKenna, and let me start by saying this book was almost unreadably bad. I hate to say that about any poker book, but when your editing is as bad as this book's was, you really deserve it. And I'm not just talking about your normal poker book fare bad editing -- the Super/System and Phil Hellmuth style writing with the exlamation points and the caps and the bold everywhere. I mean, this book had entire passages -- entire pages even -- totally duplicated from other parts in the book. There would be the same two paragraphs, and I do mean word for word identical, just a page apart from one another. It's the kind of thing that makes you wonder if there even was an editor for this book, because believe me when I say that anybody who actually sat down and read through the book from front to back like I just did would have picked up on this stuff immediately. So that was very, very frustrating, especially since it probably happened literally ten times in the book. But more than that, the substance to this book was just about as flimsy as the editing. It was probably a good 300 pages or so, and yet I don't think there were more than 2 or 3 points in the entire book that are even worth considering let alone worth discussing out loud or here in the blog. It was probably literally the single worst and most worthless poker book I've ever read, and believe me I have read them all.

The one most interesting point that I did take out of Beyond Tells was something that the author says about a tell you can get from most players' eye movements. Basically, McKenna makes the following points:

1. When a player's eyes move up to the right, they are visually constructing.
2. When a player's eyes move up to the left, they are visually remembering.
3. When a player's eyes move down to the right, they are dealing with internal feelings.
4. When a player's eyes move down to the left, they are having an internal conversation.

Now, of course, the subject of what is being constructed, remembered, or discussed or felt internally is still up in the air so it's not like eye movements alone can tell you whether to call or bluff someone during a live poker session, but in general I find this whole line of argument to be very interesting. Basically, all things equal, the author argues that if someone bets the river out of nowhere for example, and then you see their eyes unconsciously move up and to the right while they place this bet, then the chances are that they are bluffing because they are trying to construct an image in their heads of the cards they wish they had and or the hand they wish they had just made. Similarly, the author argues, if someone takes their time before making a call and their eyes are moving down to the left during this time, the chances are they have a so-so drawing hand or some sort of mediocre holding and are genuinely trying to decide whether to call or fold here, as opposed to actually being very strong and just fake-pausing to get you to show some more strength on later streets. If a guy's eyes move up and to the left while he bets out strongly on the flop after raising preflop, argues McKenna, then it is likely that he is accessing his memory banks of how he got you to call his nuts in an earlier situation or perhaps an earlier session. And so on and so forth.

So my question to you all is, is there anything to this eye movement business? The first time I read this, it seemed like a bunch of hooey to me. What do you all think about this? Are eye movements specifically something that you pay attention to when you are playing live poker?

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

MATH Recap, and Losing with Effing Aces

Just sick. I am going through one of those sickass runs lately where I have lost I think 8 of my last 10 times being dealt pocket Aces in tournament play. As has happened to me before, three of those 8 losses with AA have been to KK. For those of you who have not had the opportunity to experience this, let me tell you, losing with AA to KK allin preflop in a big spot in a tournament three times in a week is a simply brilliant feeling. I mean, proudly showing your KK and then seeing your opponent flip up AA feels bad enough as it is, but losing when you're the one with the AA and he has the KK is far, far worse. Have that happen to you three times in a one-week span and let's see how many of you are still playing online poker. The worst of my three AA to KK losses happened a week ago in the nightly $75 buyin 25k guaranteed tournament, and naturally it was right on the money bubble after lasting through about 90% of the field. I was probably in 40th place of 85 players remaining, and I got it allin before the flop against a guy I knew was on KK before I even put in that last raise thanks to his very unusual preflop minreraise. So instead of being top 10 in the tournament and clearly ITM, IGH just 3 players short of the money after playing great and patiently awaiting my turn all through the night to finally get some big cards. Sick.

But it's not just KK that I've been losing to with AA recently. And btw not once of these 8 beats have I slow-played myself to lay some of the blame on me. I don't slow-play AA as a rule, and if I ever were to, I don't lose with it on a bad flop for me either. These have just all been hardcore effoffs of the worst kind, one after another after another. And when you get AA, or any premium pairs for that matter, as infrequently as I seem to, you simply cannot afford to get burned again and again and again with the best of 'em and expect to be running deep into many tournaments. Last night in the MATH for example, I was dealt AA in early position about 25, 30 minutes in, and I had the fortune of playing against a guy who was clearly in aggro-tilt mode after his 76o and 65o failed to hold up against my "Ace-rag" as he described them in separate hands. He had been making snappy comments at a lot of the players at the table after most of the hands he did not win, and his stack was short and it was obvious that he was heading for an early disaster. So, after I sneakily smooth called an early position raise with my AA preflop, hoping for this very player to reraise given his tilt session at my table, and then when he did in fact reraise, I went and just smooth-called his reraise again into what was now a heads-up pot, knowing he would push allin on any flop and I could just snap him off there on all but the scariest of flops. The flop came pretty raggy -- K92 rainbow or some shiat like that, and he pushed immediately. I called and showed my Aces, and he flipped up? The Hammer. Misplayed as per usual when it's not me playing it, but what can I do? As I almost always say after I don't win a blonkament, I could not paint a better picture for myself here, allin against a guy who played exactly how I envisioned he would when I masterminded my AA play since before the flop. Anyways, long story short, another 2 on the river and IGH to the 5-outer by the aggro tilt monkey.

Now don't get me wrong, I always like me a good Hammer suckout. But it's just not every day that you get to see the Hammer take down AA, and even less so when it is played as obviously as it was last night, and taken advantage of as badly as I did. But what can I do. AA goes down to the Hammer suckout early and IGH in 27th of the 33 runners who came out to play the MATH this week. Btw I am really pleased with the crowds we've had of late, which are a good twice as large as when we started the year in 2007 with our usual 16-18 players, so I am really happy about that and that people seem to be responding to the change to 6-max nlh format. It is definitely a nice change now that we have blonkaments five nights a week and them some, to have a shorthanded tournament in addition to all the regular nlh we have going on every week. And plus, the shorthanded tournaments have been moving faster, and thus ending a little bit earlier, which is always good for everyone as well. Some have commented that 6-max makes the tournament more of a luckfest -- I do not agree with that statement. Especially with this tournament being a double-stack -- where it will stay btw -- the 6-max does make the game more aggro, but that is a change for the better and not the worse as far as I'm concerned. But I don't think changing to 6-max makes a tournament more luckfestian, not in the way that making it a turbo or something similar would do. 6-max is definitely a different game than ring tournament poker, more aggro, more loose, and more read-dependent, but to me and apparently to a lot of you out there, that is a fun thing and everyone appears to be enjoying it which makes me happy for the change.

Anyways, so we had 33 runners for a $792 total prize pool in this week's MATH tournament. The field included some new or at least fairly new faces which I always like to see -- people like marpet1 and DOC Schwizz, as well as schlepp571 whom I recognize from some recent blonkaments but am not even sure if this was his first Hoy tournament. I don't know these people but welcome to you all, this may be your first time or near first for you all at the MATH and we love to have you! If you guys have blogs, please leave me your links in the comments and I will get you linked up here.

In the end, here were your cashers for this week's Mondays at the Hoy tournament:

5. $71.28 -- fuel55, bounced out first once the bubble burst with TheCloser when Fuel was on a very short stack coming in to the money positions.

4. $95.04 -- thepokergrind, who surprisingly pushed allin with 44 when chitwood was on such a short stack behind him. Grind got called by a higher pair and he busted in 4th place as a result.

3. $126.72 -- chitwood, not a blogger but a nice guy (a lawyer, so that is obvious!), who pushed allin on a very short stack immediately after the hand where thepokergrind went out.

2. $182.16 -- Jordan, who entered heads-up play at a 72k - 27k chip deficit, and called off his stack with 2nd pair no kicker quickly into the heads-up session to take 2nd on the day, and his second big cash in the Hoy in just this month.

1. $316.80 -- Surflexus, who not only beats down on me but even pwns in my tournament, as his 98 beat Jordan's T7 on a K8T29 allin bet called by Jordan on the river with just his 2nd pair 7 kicker.

Congratulations to Surf, always a force whenever bloggers get together for a private tournament (the guy has won five Mookie's let us not forget) for another fine blonkament win, and for jumping out to the big early lead on the 2008 Hoy moneyboard.

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

1. surflexus $488
2. Jordan $332
3. twoblackaces $298
4. Miami Don $150
4. Astin $150
4. Mike Maloney $150
7. chitwood $127
8. VinNay $119
9. thepokergrind $95
10. bartonf $89
11. fuel55 $71
12. Hoyazo $67

Now, before I forget, some quick blog pimps that I should probably have gotten to yesterday but I wasn't really on my game since I was on vacay for the MLK holiday:

1. Everyone's favorite female blogger was at it again this weekend, as LJ took down a live $200 buyin tourney in Atlantic City after a chop which netted her just short of 12 large!! WTG LJ!! Go read all about it in a nice, detailed post here, not only for the recockulous score but for her first major poker tournament win. That is a nice feeling for sure, especially after all the big cashes but not yet winning a big tournament for LJ. Enjoy it and make sure to stop by LJ's blog and tell her how much you love her!

CK has a very nice post up this week for beginners or people who are still learning the nuances and strategy in Omaha 8 or better, which is also the game for tonight's Skill Series on full tilt at 9:30pm ET (password as always is "skillz"). So if you were afraid to play O8 with the big boys tonight on full tilt, or if you were thinking about playing and are looking to brush up on some of the finer points of the game, I have read this post and give it the full Hoyazo seal of approval. This chica knows her shizz about Omaha. Go and check it out.

Also, I am totally and completely remiss in linking to some of the best blog posts over the past couple of months, which are coming from Wes as he takes his cross-counrty NHL tour. Now, I have to admit I was shocked to read at Wes's blog that the NHL is still in existence, as I honestly thought it had closed up shop after the last strike / lockout / whateveryoucallitwhatsthedifference. I'm still not 100% believing that the NHL is actually still running, but I will give Wes the benefit of the doubt on that one because he is posting some of the finest "On the Road" type of posts I have read over the past couple of months. Of course his stankyass blog won't ever let me post a comment to tell him what a great read all of these posts are, but you really ought to get over there and check his shit out. Almost every post from a new NHL city over the past couple of months is absolutely top notch shit, and you can just tell how real and genuine the stuff is even from a quick read. Go check these posts out if you have not already (do you live under a rock or what?) and you will not be disappointed, Wes is doing an amazing job of capturing the essence of each of his trips to a new city in this glorious country of ours, while still keeping his sorta country-boy-from-South-Dakota perspective on things. His blog lately is sheer brilliance.

Btw am I the only person who thinks this recockulous idiocy with Tony Dungy is a complete waste of everyone's time? WTF? I won't even link that stoopid story, but the basic gist is that Dungy felt the need to hold a press conference earlier this week to announce to the world that he is not going to leave his coaching job of the Indianapolis Colts. I got news for ya Dungy -- until this current NFL season, your team has had the most talent of any team in the NFL bar none, and you've been to precisely one superbowl. You've been hands-down the best team in the AFC for several years running until this year, and you haven't done shit with it. If you are white, your job is in serious jeopardy after yet another early-playoffs bustout this year. So don't go telling anyone that you're considering leaving your job for your family. Nobody bought this anushead, not for one second. The day you leave that team a year after winning the superbowl is the day hell freezes over. And although I'm sure the part of hell that lies under New York City was getting pretty frosty this past weekend, it ain't frozen and you Mr. Dungy were never even considering leaving Indy. So stop being an asshole, and start focusing on getting your fucking team and your all-time quarterback to play at least somewhere near its potential instead of the opposite please and thank you. Jackass. I almost called him "blackass" there, but then I guess I would be called a racist even though I would really just be commenting on the color of his skin and combining it with his quality as a coach. I guess let's stick with "jackass" there, as long as you all know what I was really thinking when I wrote this. OK good.

Btw speaking of sports, thanks to my highlariously poor track record on the maybe 10 or 12 sports bets I have ever made in my life, I am already down the $11 buyin to the Mookie this week thanks to my beloved Georgetown Hoyas shitting the bed against the despicable Syracuse Orange last night. In the end, we won the game in overtime after both teams tried incredibly hard to lose for two 20-minute halves and 5 minutes of overtime, but I foolishly agreed to bet filthy Syracuse alum ck -- who has quite a store of sports knowledge for those of you wondering -- using the Vegas line of Hoyas + 12 for the game between our respective alma maters, and that now marks the second time out of two attempts where I have lost money to another blogger betting on Georgetown. Of course when I finally decide to adjust and bet against my boys in blue and gray, that's when they will bust out with a huge stomping like they did against 13-3 Notre Dame this past weekend. So I'ma try to lay off the Georgetown bets for the rest of this year, but we'll see how well that happens. Still, F you Syracuse your team blows ass.

Oh one other thing -- I have decided for various reasons to reopen my account a bit at pokerstars. For now I still plan to play a lot on full tilt, but I've come to the realization that I am simply giving full tilt way too much free advertising and there's just no reason to do that without getting something in return from them. And so far I have been pretty dam unimpressed with full tilt's reaction to an interest from me in doing some kind of "official" promotion of them on my site. So there is just no reason for me to shill for them every day exclusively like I do. So I played a bit on pokerstars this weekend, took a sick beat (with AA allin preflop) in my very first tournament there (imagine that!), but I also won a small tournament and a satellite there so it's not all bad. It takes some adjusting to pokerstars' clearly worse interface (how in this day and age can a poker site not have a "bet pot" button for example?), but I am determined to give the king of river beats another shot and see if things have improved, how the nightly mtt schedule looks and what kind of weekly and other tournaments they have running to maybe lure me back to play some over there. Not that full tilt will ever know the difference or pay any attention to me not exclusively shilling for them for free, but I do get a lot of readers and while I defend to the hilt full tilt's right to treat me however they want from an affiliate perspective, I defend equally strongly my right to react however I see fit to that treatment. So yeah it's not that full tilt will know, but I will know and I'm tried of being bothered by that.

OK that's all for today. One of these days I am determined to do a post on how to actually play the Hammer profitably in blonkaments, since I say with a little bit of pride that I clearly play it consistently better than anybody else. I probably win and show the hammer preflop and on the flop a good 3 or 4 times on average in every blonkament, many of which I am winning or performing well in along the way, and I almost never ever lose with it except with a short stack in a tournament. None of you clowns play this thing like me, which is perpetually surprising to me because I find the Hammer to be one of the easiest hands to play profitably in all of poker. I play it in "real" tournaments as anyone who rails me a lot knows, be it in the first 10 minutes, on the bubble and even at final tables with all the money on the line, and I play it with some frequency in sngs as well. Cash, not so much, but otherwise I truly am the Hammer Player and one of these days I will help share my wisdom of how you too can look cool in front of your blogger friends without almost ever being the guy who has to suck out with it in order to survive.

Don't forget the latest Skill Series tournament, Tuesday night at 9:30pm ET on full tilt, password is "skillz". The game tonight is O8, which I won in Riverchasers a couple of weeks back by flopping a lot of big draws and then hitting basically all of them. Good times.

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