Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mookin' to the TOC

Is this the real life? Or is it just fantasy?

This one is gonna take a while to really hit me. I woke up this morning after a scant three hours of sleep, and I had to check the computer screen to make sure it wasn't all just some elaborate beer-fueled fantasy, but it appears to be genuine and official:

I am now a Mookie winner.

That's right. On Wednesday night (well into Thursday morning, actually), I took my place among the most hallowed names of all of poker bloggerdom. Nay, the most venerated names of all time. The name "Hoyazo" has now been etched in stone in Mookie's Hall of Champions, forever more right up alongside such lofty legends as rbledj494 way back on July 23, 2006 -- not to be confused with rmbj494 who won his Mookie on December 13, 2006.

Ahhh but you say, that was 2006, back when the Mookie was still a brand new thing, very different from what it is has become. Look to the next year, when the BBT was started and the word really started getting out about the Mookie, check out all the big names to nab Mookie victories in 2007. Ok then, so my name is now alongside the likes of mtnrider81 (March 21, 2007) and, of course, how could you forget NomeyMyHomey (May 2, 2007), and of course Julius_Goat on September 12, 2007. And of course 2008 as well, with another voraciously-attended BBT series, has contributed its own set of awe-inspiring Mookie champions, names like Jasper6294 on June 4, Roberto55 on November 11 and 777GMoney on November 26 to name a few. Shit, any tournament which can boast the likes of numbbono, waffles, evil wonka and piratelawyer all as three-time champions, I mean what more do you need to know. So to become a part of this group, enshrined, hallowed for ever among the greatest names to ever play this game, it's hard to put into words how I feel right now. Again, I still haven't even begun to really get my head around the accomplishment and the notion that I will be permanently etched in that kind of company, forever.

I knew things were going my way in the Mookie this week when, of the 68 runners who came out to play, my erstwhile prop bet opponent Mookie himself was a no-show, as was everyone's favorite chip dumper. So that was two obstacles out of my way just like that. Then, when I saw that Blinders was the first one out on the night, I knew my path to the final table was clear with the Master of the Mookie and the King of Expected Value out of the way.

On a whole, I got what I would describe as fair cards for me for a Mookie. In the end, through nearly 300 hands I received no AA and one KK, which I doubled with. I also got dealt JJ three times, and QQ and TT two times apiece, with AK twice and AQ twice as well. As I said, the way I won my first Mookie was not with superior starting cards so much as with superior luck in my big hands holding up. In a nutshell, I got in dominating or otherwise way ahead (I'm not talking races, or even "waffles races", which for those who don't know are hands favored to win about 65% of the time) several times on the night, and for the first time in as long as I can ever remember in a Mookie, I didn't lose a single 80% or better shot on the entire night. In this way I was able to take advantage of most of the big cards I was dealt, even though it wasn't really a particularly common occurrence compared to what is to be expected. In fact, I don't think I got sucked out on at all the entire night, other than when I called pushmonkey's shove with 10 left in the tournament with my A4 versus his K7o and he promptly flopped top two pairs, which is barely a suckout at all ultimately so much as a 40% hand winning in a given instance. And I can affirmatively say that I did not suck out on anyone else myself either all the way through, which is amazing given the total crap I was seeing hold up and suck out and win again and again all around me from basically start to finish on the night.

My strategy for the night was simple: bet and raise like crazy, as usual before the flop, but also on the flop and even on the turn as well. With the big fields and the silliness of the BBT, this is the way I've been approaching most of these blogger tournaments, and it has worked fairly well, with me squarely in the top 20 overall so far for the BBT, which just on Wednesday reached the midpoint of its 13-week run. In the Mookie on Wednesday, I played one of my most aggro games of all time. I raised relentlessly preflop, and I bet out on the flop and turn more often than my usual, to mostly good success start to finish, buoyed by the twelve hands I was dealt in the range of AQ+ or TT+ during the tournament. Purely from stealing alone, I had grown my 3000-chip starting stack to 3600 chips by the end of the first hour, good for 25th place of 51 remaining at the first break.

Here was my first big hand of the tournament:

Here, there were four limpers in front of me in the big blind for 120 chips apiece, and I looked down to find the Ladies in my hand. Those of you who know how I feel about pocket Queens know there is no way in hike I would consider limping along there, so I went for an outsized raise-the-limpers-move sort of raise to 700. Hacker59, a former Mookie winner himself, pushed and I insta-called. My 82% hand held, the start of that big trend on the night for me, and I had managed to near-double with my first big hand of the night early in Hour 2. For the balance of Hour 2, I bet, raised and stole my way to maintain the stack I had amassed from the Queens, sneaking my way into 6th place with 35 runners left as we neared the end of the hour.

Just before the second hour completed, I got into my second big hand of the night, this time with my only KK of the evening:

I played this one just slow enough before the flop, opting not to put in the reraise that would have committed sophie2002 to the pot to call, such that by the time she c-bet the flop after my check, she was committed to calling my check-raise on the flop with just the AK unimproved. Once again, an opponent with just four outs twice failed to hit, and my 82% hand once again prevailed, surging me up to 3rd of 32 left, where I stayed through most of the next hour thanks again mostly to some seriously aggro betting from me on all streets which repeatedly took me down many pots, big and small. This period included three of the five hammers I won pots with on the night, getting me as high as 2nd place with 19 left around midway through the third hour of the tournament.

Late in Hour 3, Carmen pushed her short stack into my pocket Jacks with her 7s -- yet again, an 81% hand holds up for me -- representing yet another instance where I was able to get serious value out of the relatively small number of strong hands I was dealt on the night:

This hand gave me my first chip lead of the night, in 1st place of 16 remaining:

Now it's nice to be in first place -- rather be there than in any other spot at least, obviously -- but it's not like I haven't been there before. I have been final table chip leader at the Mookie three or four times in the past year or so, all four of which ended in disaster of course, including once already earlier this year. I know how these things tend to go with me, so 1st of 16 left was nothing to get excited about in the least.

Here was also the point where I took the first screenshot of my ftp stats for the night. It seemed to me that for nearly three hours I had been taking down a lot of pots. A lot of em, even for me. So I checked it out, and you can see it for yourself, my stats through 179 hands of the Mookie this week, just short of the third break:

That statistic that I had won 22% of the total hands dealt at my table, at a full ring table over nearly 3 hours is utterly disgusting. I tend to push that number higher than most people when I'm playing well due to my preflop aggression factor, but 22% in a full ring tournament over three hours? That is unheard of, plain and simple. At 9-handed tables like I had been playing at for basically the entirety of the three hours so far, the math dictates that everyone should be picking up roughly 11% of the pots. To perform at twice that rate over such a long period of time in relative terms, well, it really just goes to show evidence of just how aggro and relentless I was in my approach to the tournament on Wednesday evening.

As the third break hit, I was in 2nd place of 12 players remaining. I got back into 1st of 11 after I made a steal on the flop with a donk bet into an 8000-chip pot against two other players on relatively short stacks who I figured were more interested in waiting for the final table than in calling off here on the bubble. And then here with 11 left is where I made the call with my A4s against pushmonkey's K7o and he doubled through me for my worst loss on the night as far as getting it in when ahead, but as I mentioned even this was what, a 57% favorite for me or something? The key for me was all of my significant favorite hands held up, from start to finish, for the first time maybe ever. But here, the pushmonkey hand suddenly dropped me to 5th place with 10 remaining. When the final table bubble burst a few hands later, I had stolen my way back to 3rd of 9, but still with a lot of work to do in my second consecutive Mookie final table.

Through 221 hands as the final table began, here I am still having won 21% of the total hands dealt at my table all night, seeing 18% of flops in the process:

Early at the final table, I had the hand that set up the run I ended up making for the roses. I'm sitting in the small blind, and pushmonkey, who had been living up to his name in a sick, ridiculous way all throughout this tournament, put in the button steal raise, which I immediately read for weak. I know I had just Q6o in my own hand, but looking at the stack sizes, I saw that I could push here with ATC and face pushmonkey with having to call off a quarter of his remaining stack with what I felt strongly was not a good hand. So I went for it:

I thought this would be an easy fold if pushmonkey was actually weak like I thought. But I guess I was wrong:

And, mind you, this call happened so fast, it was like he was already clicking the empty space on his screen where the "call" button was going to pop up when it became his turn. Well, here I was again with yet another 75-80% favorite with the money allin, a spot where I have gotten screwed in this tournament so many phucking times it's sick, but once again as you can see, my dominator held, and I was back in business near the top of the leaderboard at the Mookie final table.

At the fourth break, I was in 1st place of 7 remaining at the final table:

Obviously it's good to be final table chip leader anytime any way, and I had a nice chip lead over second place at the time as well, which is always good and another nice testament to my aggression even as the final table wore on. But I did have Chad sitting right behind me so I knew I had to keep my eye on that fucker if no one else. Through 251 hands, and still only 7-handed at the final table, I was still winning an utterly sick percentage of total hands dealt at my table:

My next large hand occurred about 20 minutes into Hour 5, and it was one of those hands that had to tell anyone familiar with my history in the Mookie, on full tilt, and in online poker in general that perhaps that night could be my night. I limped for 1200 into a 7500-chip pot from the small blind with 92s, based purely on pot odds and nothing else:

After the flop checked around, I led out on the turn after I picked up a runner flush draw and given the weakness shown on the flop:

And I got called by one player, not Chad thankfully. When my flush filled on the river, I debated how to best get paid off on the hand at this point. I had the sense from my opponent's call on the turn that he could have been on a draw, or holding something beatable but strong like two pairs, and with the flush having come runner-runner, I figured I had a decent opportunity for an overbet for value. The idea is that, since it's going to be so hard for me to get paid off anyways on that river, I can just pretend the guy made a straight on the river or flopped trip 7s, hope that is correct, and make as big of a bet as I think he will call if holding one of those hands. I quickly determined that that size was allin, so I pushed for the large overbet to the pot:

and somehow, he called and lost:

And check out the hand he lost with:

Bloooom. What can I say? After all the countless times I've been donked out of a tournament, sng, blonkament, cash table, you name it by losing with flushes -- runner-runner flush over flush being my preferred way of losing in terms of how many times it's happened -- to finally get to be on the winning end of one of those situations was about as sick as it could be for me. Not sure if you call that "luck" right there given the fact that I think I played the hand very well on all streets, but dam if that wasn't a sign right there that perhaps something different was in the air tonight. Instead of running AQ into AK or AQ into AA down to four-handed like happened to me twice in the Mookie during the BBT3, here I am with 5 players left flush over flushing someone in runner-runner fashion to vault to a solid 5-handed chip lead.

Unfortunately, shortly after this point, Chad's JTs fell to pushmonkey's KQs allin preflop, and pushmonkey once again nabbed the big chip lead against just myself and MaggieO, with push holding more than twice as many chips as myself and nearly 4x Maggie's stack:

I made a few of my most key decisions in the tournament during this 3-handed phase, which lasted about 15 minutes I would estimate. First, I struggled hard with this one to Maggie, before laying it down:

Then a few minutes later I was faced with a similar situation, but this time against pushmonkey who again had been flipping up utter garbage with regularity all through the previous couple of hours, to the point that a preflop raise from him almost meant nothing better than ATC:

Again I laid this one down, despite feeling I was likely ahead as I had been earlier when I had made the decision to call pm down with my A4 and then lost my 57% favorite hand to his K7o. I just kept thinking that if I could just hold out for a slightly better spot I might be able to make a huge move based on a mistake by one of my opponents. Not 5 minutes later, I got my chance. I was dealt my third and final JJ on the night, and I raised the 3000-chip big blind to 9000 from the button. Just pushmonkey called, and when the flop came down K87 rainbow, pushmonkey led out with the donk-bet despite my being the raiser preflop:

I figured the odds of me being ahead with my JJ were substantial, especially given the way pm had been playing on the night, and if I was going to lose JJ to K4 in 3-handed play then so be it, it is the Mookie after all and I am cursed, right? Anyways, I think I should like my hand here, so I'm all in:

Pushmonkey pretty much instacalled me again here, just as he had earlier on the night when he held just 76o preflop on a pretty large pot. When he called so quick I knew I had to be beat by a King-rag type of hand, but then I saw this:

There are no words.

My 75%+ favorite held up yet again here, giving me an 82k - 63k - 58k lead in what turned out to be a close matchup in three-handed play, but gave me my first Mookie chiplead with as few as three players left in at least two full years.

Again, despite being fairly sure I was ahead here, I once again figured I had to be able to find a better spot to play, so I folded another chance to knock out the pushmonkeying pushmonkey himself here:

and again here:

By the time Maggie called my very suckbetty river bet here with just A5 unimproved in her hand:

I had her pegged for feeling a little too over-aggressive and a little under-trusting of me, so when I made my inside straight on the turn a few hands later:

I checked, expecting her to bet so I could get her allin, but instead Maggie failed to take the bait. Then when the river made a higher straight possible, I decided to go with the math and the odds that I was ahead and try to get the rest of her chips right there:

Maggie called, and I won. Turns out she called me with this hand:

Now I know she was short in this spot, but T3o? Now that's what I call a lack of respect. I mean she's gonna lose to any A, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 or any pocket pair in my hand, and some of the 3s I might play as well. But such it is, she was very short at the time, and I had been betting and raising like a maniac all night, showing hammers and just generally being way aggro even for myself, and this is the kind of thing that can happen if it breaks just right for you in that kind of situation.

So here I was, heads-up in the Mookie for only the second time in my lifetime of playing Mookies -- it's gotta be at least 150 of them I've played now -- and I had a 122k to 82k chip lead. It was a nice chip lead, but nothing even close to prohibitive. Whoever would win the next allin pot would likely win the tournament, no matter which of us it was. Fortunately, pushmonkey, who had already sucked out on me allin preflop once during the tournament but then had also gifted me a huge stack of chips by calling allin when dominated by me not once but twice in the final 10 players left, and I could not have played more than four or five hands of heaqds-up play I don't think before this happened:

I was dealt K8o, a better than average hand in heads-up play, and pm started the action by raising the 4k blinds to 10k. I called for another 6k into a 15k pot with what I figured was likely -- but by no means definitely -- the best hand, given pm's shorter stack and erratic play I had seen so far on the night. The flop came King-high, giving me top pair, and of course I checked to pushmonkey since he had been the preflop raiser, but again he scrwed up my plans by checking behind. When the turn then brought a raggy 2, which was also the third heart on the board (I held the 8 of hearts), I sensed an opportunity to get in my checkraise there, since I had been surprised as it was that pm failed to c-bet the flop, but now with the three hearts I figured it would be a good bluffing opportunity that pushmonkey was not likely to miss. So I checked it to him again:

This time he did lead out, betting just 9k into the 21k pot, a decidedly smallish bet that could either mean extreme strength or extreme tentativeness. I quickly followed through with my plan to checkraise big, determined to go with my top pair decent kicker against an uncertain range in my opponent, especially given the weakness I had showed on the flop and the turn already in the hand:

PM called quickly and turned up:

And there I was. The whole word went silent. The buzzing of the little fan on my laptop, gone. The sounds of "Live Free or Die Hard" on the tv, faded to nothing. Even the crickets outside, I heard none of it. Instead, my entire Mookie life flashed before my eyes. I saw myself losing heads-up to Surf a couple of years ago when I had outflopped him and had just two cards to fade 2 outs to nab the Mookie title. I saw myself losing AA to KK down to a scant two tables left during the BBT2. Me pushing AQ into AA when 4-handed in the BBT3, and then not a three weeks later once again pushing AQ into AK, also 4-handed. It all cycled right through my vision, all in a split second, as I raised my hands in the air in silent celebration. I wanted to make sure I enjoyed the moment before the river fell, because with three Aces and four Queens, 7 outs once would still give pushmonkey a roughly 15% chance to suck out and further my Mookie Curse forever.

This was it: the moment of truth. Who am I gonna be? The Red Sox, who finally bust through the worst curse in sports history to win a World Series in 2004? Or the Cubbies, who Bartman'd away their best shot at the World Series and furthered their own curse with another tale for fans to tell their children and grandchildren? Winner or loser? Champion or runner-up? TOC or nada? Red Sox or Cubs?

It's the Red Sox, folks!

I write this today from the computer of a Mookie winner. And nobody can ever take that away from me.

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Blogger BWoP said...

Bye bye monkey.

Congrats :-)

11:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Classic shit.

11:25 PM  
Blogger Schaubs said...

I'm pretty sure you had that first part written a long time ago, just waiting for the win so you could launch...

Anyway, well done, congrats etc.

The rest of it was way too long to read, but it looks like your good hands held, which is nice.

11:32 PM  
Blogger jjok said...


you're just lucky I didn't decide to play in my second BBT event.....just sayin.


grats bro......

12:05 AM  
Blogger OES said...

Incredible. Butros Butros Galli.

12:15 AM  
Blogger jasper6294 said...

Welcome to the club, noob. Now assume the position...

12:29 AM  
Blogger Chad C said...

Seriously, you should never play poker again...... I thought you were supposed to kill yourself if you ever won a mookie? I said I would, apparently you don't have the stones!

1:00 AM  
Blogger Fred aka TwoBlackAces said...

April fools was two weeks ago dude! Nice job on the photoshopping! ;-)


2:39 AM  
Blogger Julius_Goat said...

My brain just grew legs and ran out of my nose. Now I'm chasing it down the street as it piddles on the neighbor's bushes and digs up the prize roses.

How am I typing this while all this is going on? Not sure. The world doesn't make sense any more.

2:48 AM  
Blogger Shrike said...

Dogs and cats are living together and the seas have parted, right?



2:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nicely done, hoy.


3:00 AM  
Blogger ScottMcM said...

About fucking time all members of the World Famous Asshat Frat crew had a mookie title.

outstanding job man!

3:15 AM  
Blogger Fuel55 said...

I am certain Chad was playing under your name ...

3:40 AM  
Blogger Memphis MOJO said...

Congrats and nice write-up.

4:16 AM  
Blogger jamyhawk said...

Congrats on the win.
Congrats on the longest blog post in history.

5:38 AM  
Blogger Riggstad said...

Harry the K had to have called your flush over flush hand. That's one that will NEVER happen again!


7:34 AM  
Blogger OhCaptain said...

I've sent this post out to be condensed. I'm sure it's a interesting read...I'll cut to the chase...


8:30 AM  
Blogger Bayne_S said...

No O'Brien has ever folded a pair in Mookie or A rag pre-flop.

Congrats on win.

8:42 AM  
Blogger BWoP said...

Shouldn't there be A Synopsis of Hoy post for this one???

Bayne, where are you?

3:18 AM  

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