Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tsk Tsk You Bloggers

A lot of discussion has been had over the past couple of days regarding possible collusion in the Big Game that occurred for the first time this past Sunday, and I have to say I was shocked when I first saw this discussion, and I still can't really believe it blew up into the Whole Big Thing that it did. For those of you who are not aware, at the final table of the event on Sunday, Lucko, the eventual winner of the tournament, was thought by several bloggers to be "playing soft" against Blinders when Lucko failed to use his huge stack to push Blinders and his microstack out of the event when we were down to the cash bubble with exactly 6 people left in the event. This feeling was exacerbated when, a few hands later, Lucko did call an allin from Katitude in a similar situation, potentially sending Kat home on the bubble as a result, and allowing Blinders to sneak into the money positions despite not playing a hand until his last hand at the final table.

Let me begin by saying that true collusion in poker tournaments is disgusting, and is something which I would be livid about if it actually happened and I knew about it. This would be true for any poker tournament in which I was involved, live or online, and especially in a blogger event where I have come to expect more from the people that we all know and like (mostly) and play with regularly every week. So, if I thought it were true that Lucko was taking it easy on Blinders for some reason, in favor of busting out a different player instead, I would be very disappointed and angry, and this post would say something very different than it will today. So it's not that I think it is Lucko's right or something to collude to eliminate specific players from any poker tournament. As far as I'm concerned, it's not really right for a chip leader to do that, and I would fight against it to whatever extent I could.

My issue with this whole brouhaha that has come up with Lucko's play here is that I think it is very clear that no collusion of any kind had happened, and frankly I don't see what all the hubbub was originally that led to this allegation to begin with. Lucko has made his point in several blog comments over the past couple of days, essentially that he was going out of his way to keep Blinders in the tournament, so as to keep the bubble going, so that Lucko could continue to use his huge chip stack and beat the crap out of the rest of the field in the tournament as a result. This is a sound strategy and it's not like Lucko made it up himself or like he's the only one who knows it and follows it (although most bloggers do not go this route in our blogger tournaments). Some other commenters are 100% correct that even David Sklansky makes this suggestion in the strategy espoused in his well-known and well-respected poker books.

The thinking is simple. The bubble creates an artificial situation in any poker tournament, where the small stacks are likely to play ubertight as they attempt to hold on to sneak into the money, and the medium stacks as well are often not interested in making any huge moves with just one more elimination before making the cash. This artificial situation is often a very beneficial one to the biggest stacks, and the more prohibitively huge the biggest stack is, it follows that the more he or she is likely to benefit from an artificial situation that discourages other players from getting in the big stack's way.

If you played in or watched the end of the Big Game on Sunday, you saw Lucko kicking everyone's ass at the final table. Hardcore. He was betting and raising almost with abandon when bubble time arrived, and almost every time the other players folded to his aggression. Lucko turned a huge stack into a ridiculously huge stack by taking major advantage of the bubble play, and it obviously helped his case to extend this artificial bubble situation as much as he could. Let's put aside the fact that I've never known Blinders or Lucko to even know each other, mention each other, even comment on each other's blogs. I am quite sure that it was in Lucko's best strategic interests to extend the bubble as long as possible, and that's all he did here.

Ironically, Lucko said in a comment to either Iak's or Waffles' blog that the only reason he called Kat's allin bet in a similar situation a few minutes later was that he felt peer-pressured into it by all the complaining surrounding his failure to push Blinders off the bubble a few hands earlier. Lucko would have preferred to keep Kat in the game at that point as well, but all the people crying foul -- I can't help but notice they are mostly people who are close with Kat (as am I, by the way) -- are eventually the very thing that caused Lucko to call with a shot to eliminate Kat from the tournament. That's funny to me. People need to relax about these sorts of things, and certainly give some more thought before crying foul or claiming any ulterior motives.

For my two cents (especially in freaking blogger tournaments people!) people ought not to be accusing others of "cheating" or "soft-playing friends", etc. when the very actions that are being questioned also happen to be in-line with smart, profitable strategy for the situation that the accused is in at the time. If people don't even know enough to recognize basic big-stack bubble strategy, then I think a guy like Lucko has earned the right to not be accused by anyone until those people go and do their homework to ascertain whether the approach he was following could actually be him trying his best to win, rather than to help a friend or hurt another player. Hopefully everyone involved has taken the opportunity to apologize to Lucko, who I also point out has proven time and time again his very solid poker tournament skills. The guy is right up at the top of the WPBT leaderboard after several events spanning several different poker games, and he's never been involved in any suggestions of even the slightest form of impropriety in any of these events.

Lucko, I for one congratulate you on a job very well done. And hey, if you managed to educate a bunch of other less successful poker bloggers on one way to really bully the table with a big stack, then more power to everyone. Hopefully some people will learn a lesson here and at least think a bit more before jumping to conclusions which are hurtful, insulting or, as in this case, just plain way off base.

[end rant]. I am hoping to play in the WWdN tournament tonight, but as with the past couple of weeks, I won't really know until a few minutes before the scheduled start time and until I see how the Hammer Girls seem to be feeling about their regularly scheduled bedtime tonight. See you then! And Wil, you better not be soft-playing me!


Blogger lucko said...

Thanks Hoy. I appreciate you taking the time to write this up. No apologies are necessary. Most of the people involved don’t know me or much about me and I took as just an honest misunderstanding. If people who knew me were accusing me, I would go through the roof.

The bloggers involved only judged from the hands they saw and a comment I made in the chat that was misunderstood. No harm done. Thanks again for taking the time to fully look at the situation and explaining it very well.

12:56 AM  
Blogger Iakaris aka I.A.K. said...

Well, I guess I should take most of the heat for this post given that I dedicated everything I had to say about the big game to the bubble play.

As someone who knows he can communicate effectively with the written word, let me be clear: I don't think ANY collusion was involved. Period. If that's the impression anyone had reading my post, I am genuinely sorry and offer lucko and blinders a heartfelt apology.

I truly believe I was highlighting how I was outplayed fair and square. I KNEW no collusion was involved, but given my inexperience in such a situation I gave into a little paranoia initially - until I got lucko to talk during the game. That may not have been great table manners, but it saved my ass by getting me to change gears in playing against him.

In posting about the bubble play I clarified the strategy for myself as the comments were enlightening, and perhaps assisted others who may have also not fully understood this very effective strategy.

Anyone who needs further elucidation on how to play the bubble as a big stack should read lucko's post today - it's a clinic.

12:58 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Iak, FWIW I don't think you were the one really supporting this allegation in the end. Some other bloggers are still today leaving comments on other blogs which are accusatory in tone if not explicitly stating such. I just feel bad for the guy, as he is following a well-known strategy even covered by Sklansky and other well-respected poker players and authors, and took an awful lot of heat for it at first blush.

Congrats on the big game cash btw. Nice work.

1:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I only saw one thing that could even be considered collusion and it didn't involve Lucko.

In fact, the thing I saw was so innocent that it was trivial - and it could be taken as psychological table chatter.

One player raised a short stack's BB which would have committed him to go all-in, and the raiser apologized to the shorty and said he had a real hand and couldn't just call.

2:04 AM  
Blogger slb159 said...

Like I said in my comment on Ick's blog, I did not accuse Ick of anything. I don't read books, so I am at fault for not realizing the "intelligent-ness" (if that's a word) to Lucko's play. Smokkee put it in persepective for me.

6:25 AM  
Blogger smokkee said...


i'm sorry you felt like you had to play like a maniac on the bubble. please go ez on the rest of the table next time. ok?

9:28 AM  
Blogger Love_elf said...

Hoy - you have managed to capture in words the evolution of mood and strategy on the final table that night better than anyone else has. I agree with every word you wrote, and send up high praises for your frank and accurate portrayal.

How did you get so freakin wise, anyway?

12:32 PM  
Blogger Blinders said...

The funny thing about all this is was I was on lucko's immediate left. He had to go through me everytime he pressured the table. There was no way to soft play me without soft playing the whole table.

In the hand in question that got all this started, Lucko simply folds his SB. How dare the chip leader ever fold his SB when a shorty is in the BB?(not all-in yet either) The table wanted the implied collusion that always goes on at the bubble where mutliple players call the shorty and check it down. So lucko does not do the implied collusion thing and is accused of outright collusion. LMAO.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Iakaris aka I.A.K. said...

Just read blinders comment and literally laughing out loud. Great point, especially for someone with a taste for irony.

8:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heh, yeah. If I have a weak hand and think the BB is going to push if I complete, I'll simply fold. I don't think that's a bad play at all.

9:14 PM  
Blogger smokkee said...

i have a policy of always raising Blinders BB whenever i'm on his right. ez money.

1:13 AM  

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