Friday, August 25, 2006

Limited-Time Fantasy Football Invitation, and Oh No....NOT Again!

Well, the time has come for my annual fantasy football team's live draft, which will take place on Yahoo! Sports tomorrow morning (Saturday) at 9:45am ET. As of now we have an 8-team league, which is a nice number to have a lot of playable options for each team each week. However, we're toying with the idea of a 10-team league, which I really think deep down is the "perfect" number of teams for fantasy football. So, I thought, with all my new fake internet friends, there might be two of you out there who would like to join and give us 10 total teams. There have got to be at least a few of you out there who regret not having signed up for the blogger fantasy football league that KJ is running (we drafted last weekend), and now is your chance to make up for that mistake, or someone who is in that league but would like to get their ass kicked by me in two leagues for the price of one. Or maybe it's one of the thirty-something of you who will be playing in the NFL Pickem League this year with us and who desire to see the greatness of my football predicting ability up close and personal. So come join up for my fantasy football league on Yahoo! right now! First two teams that get there, are in. It's that simple, and it's free. Here's how you do it:

Just go to Yahoo! Fantasy Football and follow the link there to "Join a Custom League" (you will have to sign in to Yahoo!, but if you don't have a Yahoo! ID yet, then you're a freak of nature and I'm not sure you can play with us in this league).

My league is called the "Baker League" (same name as my yearly Yahoo! NFL Pickem league, which is still available for signups for anyone interested -- just go to this post for details). The details to find the league are:

Name: Baker League
League ID#: 422435
Password: hammer

Remember, our live draft for this league is at 9:45am ET tomorrow (Saturday) morning, so keep in mind that you will want to be at the draft by clicking over to the league homepage, or have pre-ranked your players before then in order to get the players you want.

I'm hoping to get two new teams before midnight tonight. If not I may have to close off the team at 8 because we don't want to play with an odd number of teams, which means someone is on a bye every week.


Poker Content Ahead!

Last night's WWdN was another tournament I didn't think I would end up playing. But then time shifted, events occurred, and suddenly there I was sitting in the dark as 10:30pm ET approached, and I figured why not. I mean, I won the WWdN tournament this past Tuesday, and then followed that up with a final table 6th place finish in the Mookie tournament on Wednesday. So why not take a stab at my third career victory in the WWdN Not tonight, now that I'm suddenly available? And unlike my WWdN triumph, this time I was on the good computer all the way through, so I can give you as much detail about my WWdN Not performance as you care to have.

Here was my starting table for last night's WWdN Not tournament:

This was another fine starter for a blogger event, including Rick (Darval, the host), Lifesagrind, slb, Ll8bloomer, Guin, and three non-bloggers (as far as I know) -- LOK1 and bigpokerwin, both of whom I've played with before, and cantseefade, someone whom I did not recognize.

Things got started off fun early for me, as I took a page out of my winning WWdN performance from earlier this week by calling an allin reraise preflop when I knew my Big Slick was up against a race situation. Of course, this is normally an inadvisable move to make early on in a no-limit holdem tournament, but I have lost so many of these things recently on races just like this -- usually when I am holding the pair and thus have a slight lead in fact -- that I have become a little bit enured to it at this point, and in the right situation I sometimes like to just go ahead and do it. And to once again illustrate just how important it is to win your races in order to do well in nlh tournaments, this happened for me:

And I had a nice stack just like that, about 25 minutes into the event. Unfortunately, I was forced to lay down a large pot to LOK1 when the worst possible card (a suited Ace) came for me on the turn, negating my top pair top kicker that I had been sure was ahead after the flop, and before I knew it, I was down to less than half of my starting stack of 1500 chips, and watching in horror as my eyes looked down at 75s, and my fingers clicked on the "allin" button from middle position:

but this board:

gave me new chips and a new lease on life in the tournament. So that was one race won and one lucky suckout (shouldn't that be called a "luckout" and not a "suckout"?) already, and here we were still less than 45 minutes into the event. Little did I know the fireworks were just getting started for me. Two hands later, this flop happened:

Boom! With cantseefade leading out at that flop for me, I went for my patented slow-raise move:

which had exactly the desired effect:

and when cantseefade flipped over his hand:

I took a huge pot down, and was vaulted into first place with 14 players remaining:

About 20 minutes later we made the final table:

which included some friends from my starting table, in addition to NewinNov, Trophyhubby on the back of a solid performance streak in this tournament, Shadowtwin, and BlkBeltJones who won this event two weeks ago, and someone named Anithri whom I also did not recognize.

Donnie (Shadowtwin) was out on I believe hand #1 of the final table with his very short stack of less than 1000 chips, and just a short while later, I made the first big score when I karate-chopped BlkBeltJones when he thought I was stealing. BlkBelt raised it up 4x preflop from one before the button, a stealy-looking position as it is. Then I reraised his bet 4x more to 2400 chips from the button and holding AKo, which I supposed came off looking quite re-stealy to BlkBelt. Everyone else folded, but BlkBelt just called, and then barely had the flop come out AK4 that BlkBelt moved me allin:

I called of course with my top two pairs. Want to guess what he was holding? I'll give you some space to formulate your guess, and then you can scroll down to see the shot:

and suddenly I was back in first place with 8 players left in the tournament (top 3 spots to pay). And I have to say, while I think BlkBelt's 4x raise preflop from one off the button with KQo is a perfectly fine move, and one that I almost certainly would have done myself in that situation, the calling my large raise was a bad, bad move. What did he think I had that I would reraise so big there, and yet that he would be ahead with? I think, not even knowing me from Adam, he's got to put me on a pair or at least some kind of Ace here, which means he is well behind heading into the flop. Then to top it off, the flop came with an Ace and a King, and he pushes allin, totally disregarding the presence of the Ace on the flop and the fact that I had reraised him to 16x the big blind preflop with still two players left to act. BlkBelt should have put me on an Ace there, and at least waited to see what I did before pushing allin. But oh well, I'm not complaining.

And this is where the fun part began for me. After this hand, I had around 8500 chips, a good 3000 more than second place or anyone else left in the tournament at the time. So, it became time for me to use that stack to do what I do best -- bully. I stole everything at the final table last night. I mean everything. I successfully stole holding decent cards from the button:

I took down pots uncontested preflop holding a bit weaker cards from one spot before the button:

I pilfered blinds with even weaker (but sOOted!) cards from two spots in front of the button:

Eventually it got so bad, and people laid down to me so often, that I lowered my stealing requirements even further, moving on to even pure trash and from early-middle position:

I stole more pots in last night's WWdN Not tournament than I can ever remember consistently stealing in any other single holdem event in which I've played. It was fun and exhilarating to have everyone lay down their cards to me preflop, again and again and again and again. I stole so much, from every different position on the table, so many times that I even had everyone fold around completely to me preflop on nine different occasions. In one 2 1/2-hour holdem tournament. I was the thieving king last night, and it paid off for me in many great ways.

I formally removed BlkBelt from the tournament as we approached the first hour break on this hand, when he tried to take the Mookie (T8) up against my dominating A8s:

and Trophyhubby went out soon after on what was also a very short stack (under 1000 chips) at that point in the event. Down to five players remaining (Darval had also managed to go out thanks to a big beat by SLB early on the final table), I was still the prohibitive chip stack, thanks to all my pilfery:

In fact, stealing the blinds was working so well for me as the big stack, that when we got down to five people, I conciously opened up a bit more and started using my aggressive image to decisively bluff at big pots after the flop was out, and sometimes even after the turn card. For example, I made this move with a truly terrible hand on the turn:

and won:

and similarly, this large pot-sized from me on a high-flop with just an inside straight draw:

also resulted in another laydown:

I did this again and again, preflop, postflop, on the turn and the river, and it all added up. It was the most untouchable table image I can recall having in an online blogger game in some time. It didn't hurt that every once in a while I got to show a really good hand either:

DQB baybeeeee!!!!

And remember, all this while with just a handful of players left at the final table, I was successfully stealing blinds as well, with nothing:

and nothing:

and still more nothing:

I won a big pot here from Newin when he folded to my raise of his turn bet when I held top pair, terrible kicker, but had the feeling that he was on more like second pair or a draw of some kind:

This pot got me up to a nearly 3-to-1 chip advantage over everyone else at the table, even with Anithri having just eliminated SLB on a tough call situation. With the way I was playing, and the image I had created at this table, I knew it was going to be damn near impossible to take me down in this one. That said, we played with four players remaining, the money bubble, for quite some time without anyone making a real effort to get eliminated. Just when we were beginning to think about a 4-way chop, LOK1 suddenly put us out of our bubble misery when he reraised me allin from the BB preflop, thinking again I was on a naked steal, only this time he wasn't quite right and I quick-called his allin bet:

Eventually, Newin lost a big pot, again to Anithri who was slowly accumulating other people's chips at the final table, and this left me basically "forced" to call Newin's allin one or two hands later even though I had missed the flop completely and held two of the worst fucking cards imaginable:

I got lucky to spike a 4 on the turn, and Newin GH in 3rd place, leaving me and Anithri to fight it out for my second heads-up WWdN battle of the week. My first opponent, in this past Tuesday's WWdN tournament, had been skidoo, a guy whom I would describe as having played hyper-aggressively in heads-up play, raising and reraising before the flop almost every hand, and almost a guarantee to move at the flop, or for sure the turn if the flop was checked by both of us. Anithri was almost the total opposite, to a fault. I very quickly ascertained that Anithri would fold his terrible hands preflop to me (that's always good in heads-up), and would not put in a bet or raise it up under any circumstances on any street if he did not hold a good hand at the time. Thus, it was exceedingly easy for me to put Anithri on a range of hands early on in each hand, and I went into every flop I saw knowing more or less where I was at, generally speaking. This makes heads-up so much easier, and frankly it's a rare thing to run into in these blogger events. In this case, Anithri said he doesn't have a blog and is really just a WWdN guy, and I think his poker inexperience showed through a bit in this headsup matchup.

So, for example, after seeing a flop of JT6 (2 spades) with 32o in my hand, Anithri checked that flop to me, and I checked back with my powerhouse pocket cards. But then when Anithri again checked the turn card of a raggy offsuit 3, I knew from observing his play that this meant he had nothing. I bet out big, the size of the pot, and took it down:

Two hands later, I looked down to find ATo, a veritable monster hand in heads-up nlh play. Anithri raised it up (to the extent you can call a measly 2x minraise an actual "raise"...), and so I double-popped him right there, knowing with certainty that Anithri would call me because he had already put in the minraise preflop, indicating that he liked his hand okay at least:

Figuring for sure I had the better hand at this point since he had just minraised it, and was playing very straightforwardly, I figured I would just do this minraise right back at him, and ensure I didn't lose him yet since I knew he thought his hand was good enough at this point. Then the flop came, and it was a doozy for my hand:

The even better part was that Anithri bet out half the pot at me here. Now, with my top two pairs, and with Anithri having minraised and then smooth called my min-reraise before the flop, I figured for sure I had to be ahead here. But I still didn't want to lose this guy just yet, so I did the thing that makes baby Jeebus cry, for the second time this hand:

That's right. Another minraise. Why not? If he can minraise and minbet all day at me, then why the hike can't I? Anyways, the bet worked perfectly because Anithri called off another $2400 of his suddenly dwindling stack to me in a situation where I had to think I was ahead. On the raggy river, I tried the hoy to end this once and for all right there:

but Anithri didn't bite, perhaps finally realizing for the first time that he was beaten here:

And now I had a very significant chiplead over my heads-up opponent to end the WWdN Not. Nearly 8 to 1 I was up. And I was determined not to let this last much longer, not when I was basically in tune with what my opponent was holding even before we saw the flop in most cases. So, when Anithri failed to raise preflop on the next hand, so I thus knew he did not have an Ace, I then bet out on the flop when it came with a single Ace on it:

and Anithri quick-folded, netting me some more of his stack. Two hands later, the same thing happened again -- Anithri just smooth-called preflop, and so when an Ace hit the flop, I knew I could bet him out. This time I waited until he checked the flop again, and then again checked the turn, which was the single best tell I had on him the entire night -- he never once failed to fold quickly in this situation, and this hand was no different. I bet that flop:

and he quick-folded:

Now my chip lead was about 14-to-1, and it was almost like my opponent just didn't realize how much he was letting his stack shrink while he let me take advantage like this. On the next hand, Anithri quickly raised allin before the flop, which told me quite clearly that he held a strong hand, so I folded my crap cards and knew I could wait for a better opportunity. Next hand, Anithri smooth-called my big blind preflop, so I knew he was not strong, which was my cue to move in with my "20" hand of two cards Ten or higher:

He called, the board came out:

and I had done it! My third WWdN Not title in probably about 10 or 11 attempts:

This was another significant victory for me, for a few key reasons. Look, the $90 is nice, don't get me wrong it will buy me probably another couple of weeks of donkage on pokerstars, getting beaten in races by cc, getting Smokkee to call my allin preflop raises with AQs, and myself calling xkm's allin preflop raises with my AJo and winning. But what is more significant about this win is what it says about my holdem tournament game, which as my readers know has been sorely lacking these past couple of months. Now this week alone, I won the WWdN (my first), final tabled and came in 6th place in the Mookie tournament, and now won the WWdN Not. This after not final tabling in any blogger tournament for a good month or so prior to this week.

What does it all mean? Well I can say one thing definitively -- this week I played a much tighter, smarter, more patient game in the blogger tournaments than I have for some time. I didn't make too many stoopid pushes or overaggressive moves in poorly thought-out spots. And when I did get caught with a decision to call or fold with a hand that was likely beat, I played it smart, got out of Dodge and waited for another day when a stronger hand and/or better situation would present itself to me. As an example, with 5 players left in this tournament, I raised it up 4x from first betting position with A8s, a very typical move for me in this event and in any nlh tournament I'm involved in. But when the BB reraised me allin, for not even that many more chips:

I thought it over, and figured this guy is almost surely either on a pocket pair (in which case he is roughly a 51-64% favorite, depending on whether his pair is above an 8 or below an 8), or a stronger ace, in which case he is likely a 75% or more favorite. So, why call this bet, just because I put in a nice pile of chips already preflop, if it will require me to give up a lot of my stack in a situation where I figure, realistically, I am hoping at best to be a 49% dog? So I laid that one down, a laydown which I would not normally be making over the recent past in a blogger tournament. Similarly, with four players left, I raised my standard 4x from the button with actually a decent hand of pocket 6s. But then LOK1 in the SB pushed in a large reraise:

Here, even though I knew I was in steal position and thus LOK1 could easily be restealing with nothing here, I also knew that I only had a pair of 6s. Even if he flipped 2 high cards, I would only be a 51% favorite. And, if LOK1 flipped instead the dreaded higher pair, then I'm a 20% dog. Why bother calling a huge raise, even if I suspect I am slightly ahead, if my best case scenario is an ever-so-slight favorite in a race, and I might be a 4-to-1 underdog? So I laid this one down too. It's always hard to keep in perspective how much little laydowns like this along the way will end up affecting your overall performance in a no-limit holdem tournament, but here is a great case in point: I ended up winning this entire event, just by trying to be smart, and cautious (yet aggressive) where it was called for to do so. And it paid off in spades (pun intended). And, I think back to my last really hot streak in the blogger tournaments -- this was a couple of months ago -- and I recall how I was using at that time a strategy I called "moderated aggression", which basically amounted to playing aggressively when no one else has indicated any strength, etc., but to otherwise rein in the aggression a little bit, just enough to be able to stick around for enough time to get my good cards, make some good plays when I'm out in front, and stay in it till the end when I can amass a large stack and really start laying some reads on my opponents. Somehow along the way, the whole "moderated" part of that "moderated aggression" strategy I think got lost in the shuffle, and maybe, just maybe, I finally have it back now.

Can't wait to try this out again in next week's Mondays at the Hoy tournament on Monday night at 10pm ET, where I have still failed to cash in at least 12 attempts in my own tournament. Sad.

But why are you still reading this now?! Go join my fantasy football league dammit! First two come, first two served.


Blogger slb159 said...

Good playing with you again. Would have enjoyed HU play, but donkey boy got lucky with "The Tourist." Go figure. Maybe next time.
I need 1 more west coast victory to catch up with you now. Booo.

8:51 PM  
Blogger CC said...

Congrats on the sweet victory!

9:55 PM  
Blogger smokkee said...

i always forget about the WWdN:not.

nice takedown.

1:42 AM  
Blogger Patch said...

I have to agree with your assessment of your own play. I'm used to seeing you make rash moves or calls, going in with well the worst of it, and then sucking out. Last night you showed great restraint. Several times I came over the top of your raise and was quite surprised to see you give it up almost every time. Since I actually did have good cards each time (except for the last), I suspect they were good laydowns.

As for your thievery, I can only speak for my own cards, but I seldom held anything worth making the call with. I knew what you were doing and my calling/re-raising standards were adjusted appropriately, but I just wasn't getting the cards.

I have recently started a blog:
I even have my own take on the game last night. Not nearly as in depth as yours, but it's something.

Congrats, BTW. Very impressive to take down both the WWdN and the WWdN: Not The in the same week.

-- L0K1

4:25 AM  
Blogger slb159 said...

Anyone who plays the tourist pf is obviously a pretty bad player. He should have just sat out. He had no chance. Instead, he lost valuable sleep time. I hope he reads my post for advice.

5:01 AM  
Blogger Donnie (aka Shadowtwin) said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:13 AM  

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