Friday, March 16, 2007

Basketball, Bracelets and the Big Game

Georgetown 80
Belmont 55

The Hoyas started off slow, but they quickly took a big lead and put this game away early. As they should against a team like Belmont. Offense intended. One down, five to go.

In my March Madness pools, I did ok. I'm right around the middle in most of the pools I am participating in, which include Miami Don's, UpForPoker's, Equinox Gym's, and a private pool run by a friend of a friend from my old stomping grounds up in Boston. Unlike many other people, I have entered the exact same pool in each, and only one entry in each. I'm not looking to maximize my chances of winning the cash in these things. Much like why I would never multi-account when I play online poker, I'm playing to win based on my skill but have no interest in bending the rules because money is just not my primary objective. Being the best is. So I've made my picks, and I actually decided to follow a strategy I've honed over the years which is not to pick the same national champion as everyone else because if they do win it, that makes it nearly impossible to win these pools. Instead, I've gone out on a limb and picked my Hoyas to win it all, even though deep down I do not see how they possibly have the horses to get past that monster Greg Oden and Ohio State. But I know if I pick OSU like many other players will pick, I won't really have a shot at winning. So I figure why not go with the Hoyas, who I honestly do expect to get to the Final Four, and then see if I can get lucky. Because if Georgetown does win, not only will I put myself in the hospital with severe alcohol poisoning, but I'll probably win a pretty penny in multiple NCAA pools as well.

Anyways, did I tell you guys that Duke was going to lose yesterday or what? I think I wrote a bit about this yesterday, but just to elaborate somewhat, the NCAA selection committee (I don't capitalize those words because the committee has not done anything to earn my respect) whacks off to the ACC. Every. Single. Year. As a result, you get a team like Duke -- who honest to god barely deserved to even make the tournament -- ending up with a 6 seed. Now, the selection committee can do whatever it wants and give any team whatever seed it wants. They think this makes them powerful in that they can overlook what a truly terrible season Duke had and what a truly mediocre team they really were this year, give them a 6 seed, and act like the actual games this season never happened for Duke. Never mind that they finished 8-9 in the crappy ACC after the conference tournament opener loss. Still, let's just give them a 6 seed and act like they were good this year after all. But you know what happens? Then you have them playing an 11 seed like VCU in the opening round of the Big Dance, only they're not like your normal 6 vs. 11 matchup. Duke, who themselves is really more like a 10 or 11 seed this year, is basically playing a game against a team that's every bit as good as them. They're expected to win handily being a 6 against an 11, but it's a fake 6. It's a selection committee whackoff 6. So was I surprised to see them lose to VCU last night? Not in the least. Duke sucked this year, and even the whackoffs couldn't get them to play like an actual 6 seed. Fuck 'em.

Same story this year for Maryland as well as Virginia -- #4 seeds for those two shitteams? Are you kidding me? But what can you do, when these selection committee members go home and eff their wives, they're not thinking of their wives while they're doing the nasty. They're not thinking of Christie Brinkley, or Carmen Electra or Tera Patrick or whoever floats your boat. They're thinking about making sweet, sweet love to the ACC. To the conference itself. Right in the puss. It's despicable and it's so transparent, year in and year out. But just like ever year, they can't do shit to actually make these ACC teams worthy of their seeds. So Maryland finally managed to pull away against #13 seed Davidson yesterday, but for a long while there they tried to lose that game too. And same story today with Virginia when they play Albany. Virginia will probably win the game because Albany barely even squeaked in to the tournament despite not being the best regular-season team in the America East conference this year. But if you're one of those sillies picking these alleged #4 seeds like Maryland or Virginia to get past the Sweet 16, you in trouble sista. They suck, and they're both more like 8 seeds than 4 seeds. So when they play those 5 seeds in the round of 32, they're up against teams that are in reality better than them for the most part. And then when they play the 1 seeds in the Sweet 16, they're not like a 4 against a 1. In reality, this is more like the top seeds' second round games, an 8 or a 9 against a 1 seed. And as you know, those teams usually get crushed and crushed hard.

Meanwhile, quality teams like Marquette who was in the top 25 all season long and had a great record in the Big East, the best conference in college basketball, they get a 9 seed that should have gone to Duke, and then they end up losing to a Michigan State team with a great coach who was very close to their skill level come tournament time. Give Marquette the 6 seed they deserved, and they'd have beaten a team like VCU. But instead they're out because they were underseeded, as the selection fuckers do every year to the Big East teams. Syracuse, who (it pains me to say) probably deserved a 10 seed in this tournament, they're not even given the chance to prove that they belong here after their 10-win season in-conference and 22 wins overall. What a filthy effing joke. But as long as nobody forces the selection committee to stop the silliness and the corruption, they will continue overseeding ACC teams every year, and underseeding the Big East teams. But unless the committee finds a way to pay off the referees and maybe even the players, those overseeded ACC teams will continue to go belly up in the early and middle rounds of the Dance because they're consistently up against teams who aren't seeded as high as them but who are as good or better than them in reality. And I'll continue to love every fucking minute of it, especially seeing those Duke anuses lose to a team with the word "Commonwealth" in their name. It's always a good day when Duke loses, especially in the NCAA tournament to end their season. What a bunch of jokers. Josh McRoberts? McSucks. Coach K? Coach F. Off.

OK how about some poker content here? Let me begin by saying this. I think I'm done playing low-buyin HORSE tournaments. Last night I played in the nightly bracelet race on full tilt, which on every other Thursday I believe is HORSE, at 9:30pm ET. I ran well in it, despite my apparently terrible O8 play (why do I love making that joke so much?), but eventually I took back-to-back redickubeats and I could not recover. I think I've just accepted that I am too tilty to play low-buyin HORSE tournaments anymore. Cash games I can still handle HORSE just fine and tend to do quite well in. I play all the games well (except the one, of course ;)) and when I can always go back to my pocket or back to the cashier for more money, I can almost always excel in limit HORSE on a cash table. But in tournaments, where one or two bad donkeysucks can effectively eliminate you and leave you scratching your head in anger, I just don't have the mentality for that anymore. You may notice I haven't talked about the nightly $26 buyin HORSE tournament at 10:15pm ET on full tilt in several weeks. That's because I gave up playing it about two months ago. I final tabled that biatch probably 6 or 7 times in the maybe 4 month run that I gave the thing, finishing as high as 3rd I think several weeks ago, but for the most part I decided sometime in late January/early February that for all the monkeys you need to get through to hit the larger payouts in that thing, the payouts weren't nearly worth the pain and suffering.

See, the problem with limit HORSE in tournaments is the stud games (razz, stud high and stud hilo). These games by their very nature are fucking replete with suckouts. There is a reason why nobody plays razz, stud or stud hilo in a no-limit format. It's because it is so common for the hand that's ahead to end up losing. Same reason nobody who's serious about poker plays no-limit Omaha. In omaha and stud games, there is very rarely a huge favorite early in the hand, and the possibilities for late-hand suckoutage are just everywhere, all the time. Even the AA double suited hands in omaha are rarely more than a 2-to-1 favorite over whatever random holding an opponent has before the flop. Even the buried pair of Aces in stud high is not much of a favorite over someone who is playing 3 suited cards or 3 connected cards early on in a stud hand. In hilo this discrepancy is even worse, since half the pot can go to the low hand in any event. So nobody plays these games no-limit, since it would make no sense to try to get all your money in early in a stud or omaha hand when, virtually no matter what you hold, you aren't possibly a really significant favorite. Contrast this with a game like holdem, which is quite often played no-limit, and make no mistake there is a clear reason why holdem is the only poker game that is commonly spread no-limit. That's because if you have Aces or another high pair, or if you are dominating your opponent, you can be as much as a 4-to-1 or higher favorite right from the flop. See, now it makes sense for the best players in the world to get all their money in early in the hand. You can be 90% or more to win on the flop in holdem, something which almost cannot possibly happen in omaha or stud after 4th street. This is why those games are spread at limit (or occasionally pot-limit) only, while holdem is regularly spread as a no-limit game.

But I digress. This is all a long-winded way of saying that these limit stud games are killing me. In 90% of the razz, stud and stud hilo hands I go deep into in these HORSE tournaments, I'm only going deep into the hand because I'm ahead. I've got a high pair or two pairs in stud, I've got a low draw and a flush draw in hilo, I've got a 4-card 7 in razz. I wouldn't be in there if I didn't have a good hand and am highly likely ahead. But in limit, very much unlike no-limit, there is nothing I can do to keep these donkeys from just paying a little bit more money to draw to their idiotic inside straight, or to draw to the runner-runner flush with 3 cards to come because they can't get away from the fact that they started with 3 suited cards in stud high or hilo. Believe me, I try it. You just can't get the donkeys to go away from those fuckdraws in a limit HORSE tournament. Again, on a cash table I want them to chase those draws, because they'll only hit them, say, 1 time in 4 or whatever, so I can take a lot of their money while they act like morons at the table. But in a tournament context, that 1 time in 4 when they do hit the draw, they snarf a huge pot away from me because I have correctly made them pay bigtime to chase, and suddenly my stack is decimated.

Last night in the bracelet race, I was in the top 5 with 40 or so players to go. I had played my typical solid game up to that point, winning a couple of big pots when truly terrible players could not get away from two pairs despite my door card pairing in stud high, or when the guy with the 76 low in razz could not fold despite my showing A246 on the board. I don't know why players like this get the urge to play HORSE, but one thing I've definitely noticed is that when it's a bracelet race, that really tends to bring out the huge donks. As it is, players online barely even know how to play most of the non-holdem HORSE games. Tell them it's a bracelet race, and every holdem-only donk in the universe who is on full tilt at the time wants a shot. It can be very lucrative, and makes it fairly easy for a well-rounded player like me (except in O8, of course) to climb the leaderboard like last night, but to actually win one of these things, you have to avoid about a million donkeys making about a million donkeychasing plays, and in the end it is very clear to me that it takes far, far more luck than skill. Much moreso than in a no-limit poker tournament where at least I know I have the ability to make a lot of the monkeychasers lay down their foolish draws, and where they might not even bother chasing the 4-outers, the inside straights, etc.

So, in 3rd place with 39 players remaining last night, I first had a monkey hit a river flush in stud high when I had been pushing a split pair of Aces from 3rd street on, which turned into Aces over Tens for me on fifth street when his board showed nada. That was about half my stack as I had been attempting to convince this assidiot to lay down from 3rd street on when it was apparent all along that I was way, way ahead. Then, on the very next hand, a guy raises it on 3rd street with a 9 showing, and I have a split pair of Jacks. I reraise, and he calls with his pair of 9s even though anybody but a monkey's anus would correctly fold in this spot. I go on to make two pairs, again on 5th street, and I'm betting out the whole way, and this guy just can't get away from that pair of 9s. Because, you know, split 9s is just about the best possible hand in stud high of course. Long story short, the monkey's anus ends up spiking a nine on the end, face down of course so even I couldn't know enough to get away from it, and suddenly in the span of two hands I've gone from 3rd out of 39, to 38th out of 39 players remaining. I tilted my ass outta there just as fast as I could for my last 400 chips on the next hand, and growled my way to bed. How annoying.

Anyways this is all why I don't plan to play the $26 buyin HORSE tournaments anymore (let alone those $5 jobs, which I played once upon a time and which are even worse -- somehow -- than the $26 buyin HORSE tournaments). I will still play in the Sunday night $216 buyin weekly HORSE guarantee whenever it entices me -- I have had very little trouble satelliting in to this tournament within a couple of tries in probably 80% of the weeks I decided to try to play, and this despite the fact that in one of the five HORSE games, I have no skills to speak of, mind you. Incidentally the best way I've found to get into that tournament if you're interested is to play the satellites that start late afternoon / early evening on Sunday night a few hours before the actual event kicks off every Sunday at 9:30pm ET. I used to stay up with jeciimd into the wee hours of the morning on Thursdays and Fridays and try to play my way in in the 12:30am ET $69 weekly HORSE satellites, and on occasion I'll still play that with him. The nice thing about that tournament is that it usually only has a very small handful of players so you only have to outlast typically 2 or 3 other competitors to win the seat. The downside, however, is that only one seat is awarded, and if you get a little bit of bad luck it can be very difficult to recover. In the Sunday night satellites, however, the total opposite is typically true. The two best sats I've found to play into the Sunday night HORSE 20k guaranteed tournament are the very last two that run, which I believe are a $26 satellite at 7:30pm ET -- typically with 30-40 runners and awarding seats to the top 4 or 5 finishers -- and then at 7:45pm ET the $75 buyin satellite, which usually has more like 15-20 players, but with the top 5-7 finishers winning their way in. Either one of these presents a nice opportunity to play your way in fairly easily to the $216 buyin HORSE event, and if I can win pretty regularly without even knowing how to play O8, just imagine what you can do with your totally well-rounded HORSE skills in these things. And although there is still plenty of monkeyage to go around in the big HORSE tournament, you just can't underestimate the value of eliminating that lowest level of donkey from a limit event like this. Trust me on that one.

OK what else real quick for this weekend. So Friday night is always a fun night for me on full tilt these days since they not only run the $26 nlh bracelet race at 9:30pm ET, but they also have the midnight ET nlh bracelet race that has the $216 buyin, meaning that 1 in 10 players in that thing win the 2k WSOP prize package. My nlh game has been on on on over the past few days, so I'm feeling good about my chances in one of these $75 or $216 buyin bracelet races coming up over the next week or so. Hopefully I'll get where I want to be. I won't buy in for the full $216 into these midnight races, because when the prize you're playing for is only worth $2000, you just can't buy in to too many tries at $216 a pop or it becomes not worth your while right quick. But, full tilt as usual comes through big time for its players with not one, not two, but three juicy satellites, all turbos, into this event every night it runs. First, at 9:10pm ET every night of a midnight $216 bracelet race, there is a regular $14 turbo sat into that event, awarding a seat to basically 1 out of every 14 entrants or so. At 9:30 every one of these nights, there is a $14 rebuy satellite as well, which typically has 30-40 players and which will typically end up paying out 7 or 8 seats depending on the exact number of entrants and the number of rebuys and addons. And then at 9:40pm ET these nights, full tilt also runs a $26 buyin turbo satellite into the midnight bracelet race, which has the best odds of all due to the buyin, and awards roughly 1 seat for every 8 entrants. In all, it's not too hard to satellite your way in for cheap into one of these $216 races, which as I said are really great because all you have to do is end up in the top 10% and you win your WSOP seat and the 2k total prize package. I myself have satellited my way in to 3 of these midnight races so far, and although I have yet to win my seat in one of them, I came fairly close just this past Wednesday as I wrote about recently, and like I said I'm feeling it lately so any day now you may be reading about my big win right here.

Last thing -- don't forget about the latest Big Game, hosted by Miami Don, which is scheduled for this Sunday at 9:30pm ET on full tilt. Remember, the buyin for this badboy is a $75 token, and this tends to make the prize pool in the $1500-$2000 range or more every time this game runs. And as I've mentioned here several times in the past, this is to me always one of the most fun times I can have with the bloggers. It tends to bring out the best of the best among our crew, and the payouts are big and the trash talk can be even bigger. And now with the advent of these "token frenzy" mtt's on full tilt (god I love that name), including the $75 token frenzy every night at 9:45pm ET, it is easier than ever to win yourself the token you need to get in to this thing if you have any modicum of mtt satellite skillz. So I will definitely be in there on Sunday night, and I hope many of you will get it together enough to make an appearance as well. If you want to pad your bankrolls on full tilt and play against a really good group of bloggers, there is no better outlet for that than the Big Game, happening this Sunday at 9:30pm ET. See you donkeys there! Hee hawwwwww!

Btw I like Notre Dame -4 over Winthrop, and Texas -8 over New Mexico State today, for entertainment purposes only of course.

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Blogger slb159 said...

Smoke pointed out the 13.75$ HU matches that FT runs where you can win a token in a few minutes. Maybe some more of your readers are clueless like me and weren't aware of it, but it might be a good idea for someone wanting to get into the Big Game via a later tier two.

Me? I'm still sitting on a handful of tokens, so maybe I'll try to upgrade one or two of them.

Good luck in your satellites.

10:05 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Thanks, Slb. Man do I hate heads-up sng's though. If I'm sober, I have no patience whatsoever for HU play. Drunk or something else and it's a different story entirely, but sober and heads-up poker do not mix well for me.

10:11 PM  
Blogger Patch said...

There is a reason why nobody plays razz, stud or stud hilo in a no-limit format. It's because it is so common for the hand that's ahead to end up losing.

This is exactly why these games should be played in a no-limit format. I've never considered the point of NL to be that you can get all your chips in at any time. The point of the NL part, at least for good players, is that you can change the pot odds to make it a mistake for someone to chase their straight or flush draw or other long shot hand. Sure, the all-in is the ultimate odds adjuster, but it's far from the only tool in the NL arsenal.

It may well be that the donkeys will chase even if they aren't getting the right odds, but if the format was NL you could at least punish them severely for doing so. In limit, even if they aren't getting the right odds, they probably aren't far off, meaning it's unlikely to be a huge mistake to make the call. At least, not as huge a mistake as it could be in NL.

I think nobody plays these games NL because most people aren't confident enough in their skill to risk playing it NL.

10:16 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Patch, I read somewhere some time ago that my reasoning was why the big players won't play these other games no-limit. And I agree with the reasoning, personally. Why would I want to get it allin on 4th street with my trips in stud, only to see some nerdonkey bust me by staying in and hitting a straight, a flush, higher trips, etc. It's just too hard to be a big favorite in any of these other games. I like the logic then that they just don't make sense for a skilled player to want to play in a no-limit format.

11:45 PM  
Blogger Patch said...

Why would I want to get it allin on 4th street with my trips in stud, only to see some nerdonkey bust me by staying in and hitting a straight, a flush, higher trips, etc.

One could say exactly the same thing about NL Hold'em.

I think the real issue with these games is that the luck/skill ratio tilts more to the luck side than it does with Hold'em. To me, playing them as NL would even that out a bit since the skilled players would have an additional dimension to their play.

The other issue is that you have more betting intervals in the stud games before you know with any certainty your odds of hitting a big hand. If played as NL you may well need to commit a LOT of chips before you get any real idea of where you're going to stand in the hand.

Of course, to me, these are all good arguments for simply not playing these games. There are reasons Hold'em is so popular. It's got an almost perfect balance between luck and skill. It's complex enough that you can still be learning after 25 years of play, but not so complex that you can't play with some confidence after a fairly short time.

The flaw with Omaha is that it tilts too far toward skill. Plus, it's incredibly complex, at least if played properly. It's the only online game where I regularly run my clock down just trying to count my outs.

12:27 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

I wouldn't say the same thing about holdem though, Patch, because the fact remains that it is far more possible in holdem to get in there as an 80 or 90% favorite before the flop or on the flop. In omaha or stud games, it's not possible to be even an 80% favorite on the first round of betting, and I highly doubt one can be a 90% fave on the second round of betting either. Thus, that's why the statement I made there is more true for stud and omaha -- why be able to get all your money in when there is practically speaking no chance of you being able to be a really significant favorite before the later (or last) round of betting. I wouldn't want to do it, and I would argue that you shouldn't want to either. That's not to say that I don't understand the point you're making, because no doubt you are correct that making those games (or any games, for that matter) no-limit would increase one's ability to push other drawing hands out. By definition that is an accurate statement.

Also, I wonder what Ted Forrest or some of the other best stud players in the world would think about your assertion that stud games tilt more towards luck. Maybe they would agree. I wonder the same thing about your assertion that omaha tilts too much towards skill. And I'm not sure that having odds to count really is an equivalent indicator of skill requirements. Now if you're talking strictly about skill at counting and evaluating percentage-odds based on outs, then I agree. Omaha is definitely like that.

Good thoughts, thanks.

1:37 AM  
Blogger bayne_s said...

Isn't nature of all limit poker subject to people having pot odds to draw out on you? I am quite sure it is a Sklansky book that suggests not betting flops in limit holdem when 2 cards to a flush or straight hit so that someone is not priced in to call turn bet. It is of course frustrating that it is the monkeys that screw up the math that hit their draws against you late in tournaments.

Razz is the most brutal for suckouts as you cannot have a hand until 5th street. I have reached point that I am reluctant to complete opening bet with A23 unless everyone has 9+ showing on 3rd street because I am invariably going to finish with 3 pair and lose to a Jack.

Would suggest reading of following blogs for blogs for O8 wisdown:
drizztdj plays O8 quite well as you know but only rarely posts nuggets of O8 play.

3:01 AM  
Blogger Pseudo_Doctor said...

hoy being a grad from UMD i have one thing to say...LETS GO MARRRYLAND.. Maryland will upset UF...

3:21 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Bayne, if you're really not betting A23 on 3rd street in razz, then you are in big trouble in that game. Just like in holdem and in fact in all forms of poker, to play optimally sometimes you have to be willing to bet without the nuts and without a made hand yet. I can understand not necessarily wanting to cap on 3rd street (though in many situations I might cap it), but not being willing to bet at all with the best possible starting hand, that W-E-A-K and you'll get your lunch handed to you in that game if that's how you play it.

4:11 AM  
Blogger bayne_s said...

That was sarcasm.

I don't think I am 0 for 3 at showdown starting with A234 after 4th street, am sure I have taken down many pots without showdown starting with 4 good cards.

It's the hands where the donkeys suck out that are memorable. The bad beats I deliver don't stick in memory nearly as long.

BTW Grubby pointed out a special FullTilt bonus offer you should check for it as well.

4:51 AM  
Blogger Chad C said...

College sports are rigged!! Esspecially college football when it comes to the bowl games. I have already vowed to never watch college football again until there is a playoff system.

8:17 AM  
Blogger bayne_s said...

Do the Friday Satellites into $216 Bracelet Event usually have such poor play from a strategy viewpoint?

10:35 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Bayne, I have definitely never seen such horrifically bad play as I did in the end game of the brace races on Friday. No doubt. Sucks the way it ended for you. In general they're not usually horrifically bad like that, but remember what I said earlier, these races tend to bring out the donkiest of the donkeys, all trying for their shot at the WSOP.

Hopefully I'll bump into you soon in another one of these things out on the virtual felt.

7:40 PM  
Blogger Irongirl01 said...

Hammerman your team has 14 minutes to get their arses in gear over the Eagles.

Seriously didnt realize you were alum. Now I know where the Hoya in Hoyazo comes from since I know that is not anywhere near your real name. What is the ZO for? You may have gone over the derivation of your name eons ago but I havent waded thru the archives of your blog yet.

6:07 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

IG, they pulled it out although they did make it look interesting for a while didn't they?

I've actually never explicitly posted about the derivation of my name. I think I'm going to wait for my Mookie tournament winner profile to bear all on that point. But yeah that is where the first part comes from -- I first established this name when I was a student there (way back when).

5:33 AM  

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