Monday, March 19, 2007

Close Call in the Bracelet Race, MATH, NCAA and Heads-Up Peep SNGs

Well, it's another Monday, and that means I'm here again, ready to come at you with tons to talk about. Where to begin? OK well how about with this:

That's right. It's Monday and that means it's MATH time again. $20 buyin, 10pm ET tonight on pokerstars as always. Password, as always, is "hammer". I'll be there, defending my top spot in the Hoy leaderboard so far this year. Hopefuelly current runner-up Fuel55 will join us as well, or risk falling further behind yours truly as well as upstart chart-climber Bayne who has eked his way into third place on the 2007 board so far with a number of Hoy cashes of late. Who will be the big story tonight? Will the moneyboard top spot change for only the third time this year? Will you make your first appearance on the board after Monday night's MATH tournament? Only time will tell. But come on out, even if it's your first time ever in a blogger tournament, and make some noise with the donkeys tonight at Mondays at the Hoy on pokerstars, 10pm ET.

OK what else? Oh yeah.

Georgetown 62
Boston College 55

This was one a bit harder-fought than the first-round matchup for my Hoyas, but in the end the best team won as BC was unable to stick with the combination of Big East Player of the Year Jeff Green and 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert. Hibbert in particular really poured it on in the second half, punishing the BC inside men with rebound after rebound on both sides of the court, and BC was simply not able to get enough shots off to counter the inevitable run out of the Beast from the East. So Georgetown advances to the Sweet 16 for the second straight year under coach John Thompson III, taking its Princeton-meets-Shaq style of basketball next to #6 seed Vanderbilt, who upset #3 seed Washington State on Sunday to advance as well to the third round. On paper this should be a good matchup for the Hoyas, who are clearly the better team in any event but who will now face barely-top-25-ranked Vanderbilt with both teams playing their best ball of the season. Vandy has a couple of strong scorers, led by 6-foot-7 swingman Derrick Byars, but their big weakness also happens to be one of Georgetown's biggest strengths. Vandy does not even start a pure center on their team, and the tallest of all their starters comes in at 6-foot-9. Roy Hibbert should have an effing field day with this team, both on the boards and in point totals, and that matchup alone ought to be enough to propel the Hoyas to the Elite 8 for the first time in what must be about 11 years since the early Iverson days. I'm sure I'll write more about this later, but that's where it's at with the Hoyas so far who have done well and let their skill lead them to where they want to be after the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

Speaking of the tournament, you just know those Selection Committee members are flaccid today. I mean, completely and utterly limp. Despite the overseeding of -- count them -- six ACC teams (only North Carolina was truly deserving of the #1 seed they received), all but one of them are gone already after just the first weekend of the Big Dance, most of them losing to allegedly "worse" teams according to the seedings. Let's review. After passing up Syracuse (10-6 in the Big East, 23-10 overall) and West Virginia (9-7 Big East, 24-9 overall) inexplicably in favor of Duke (8-8 in the ACC, 22-11 overall) and Georgia Tech (8-8, 22-12 overall) for at large selections this year in their continued and undying masturbation to the ACC -- which itself had probably its worst year as a conference in literally as long as I can remember -- the Committee was treated to watching 6-seeded Duke give up big leads in both halves on the way to losing to #11 VCU in the first round in what was really more like a matchip of two #11 seeds, and #10 Georgia Tech losing to #7 UNLV in what was realy a matchup of a 7-seed against a team that had no business whatsoever even sniffing the Big Dance this year. Then after most of the other ACC teams tried their hardest to lose but managed to hold on for dear life for victories against teams seeded far below them in round 1, the second round saw laughably overseeded #4 Maryland losing to the "worse" #5 seeded Butler, the equally-laughable 4-seeded Virginia Cavaliers lose to #5 Tennessee in another "upset" per the (over)seedings. Plus, Virginia Tech at #5 lost to the midmajor upstart Salukis of Southern Illinois at #4, and Boston College lost by 7 to the domination known as Georgetown basketball. Carolina, on the other hand, dominated, and I watched their game this weekend. They look good. When you're that strong inside, and then your guards are hitting 3s and driving as well as they were, now that's a team to be reckoned with. The rest of the ACC, however, were jokers this year, and to think that two 8-8 teams got in over two over-500 teams in the Big East with better overall records as well, that is just sad. But I hope those limp-dicks on the Selection Committee got what they wanted, which was to be erect for at least a few days here while some of these ACC dogs were still alive in the Big Dance. Now, for them, it's back to Viagra and Cialis for the next 360 days until they can use their position on the Committee to get their jollies again for a weekend. Talk about fuckin fonkeys.

Not that the Big East fared a whole lot better this weekend in the tournament, but they did fare better, and under far more difficult circumstances. Of the five (!) Big East teams in the tournament this year, Marquette lost in the first round to a tournament-savvy Michigan State team whom Marquette would not have had to play if they had been given a fairer seed than the #8 dished out to them by the Limpdick Committee. Notre Dame I have no excuse for, they completely dropped the ball against Winthrop whom they should have beaten but simply could not get it going against. That was a pathetic performance, but at least in that case ND got a fair seed at #6, after what was a great season at 11-5 in the Big East, 24-8 overall. Otherwise, the top 3 seeds in the Big East -- Georgetown, Pitt and Louisville -- all advanced easily to round 2, and other than Louisville who took the most recockulous last-play shot to win a game that I've ever seen from a coach who is supposed to know what he's doing, Georgetown and Pitt both advanced fairly easily in the end to the Sweet 16 as well. So the Big East has 2 teams in the Sweet 16, and 2 out of the only five teams from the conference that even got invites to the Big Dance this year somehow, so the conference as a whole has performed reasonably well. Still, there is a lot of ball left to be played in this thing of course, but so far so good for my team and the conference in which they play.

Speaking of a lot of ball left to play in the Big Dance, right now I am somewhere south of the middle in each of the pools in which my brackets are entered. Because I have watched these games every year for what seems like a good 20 years or more now, I picked a number of upsets in the early rounds, and as many of you know, this year that has been a surprisingly poor strategy. It was the first year I think in history that no 5-seed or higher lost in the first round, and all of the 1s and 2s have made it through to the Sweet 16 except for #2 Wisconsin in the Midwest. What's more shocking for me is that I can actually say that all 8 of my Elite 8 teams are still alive. I don't remember the last time I could say that after the first two rounds of this thing. Now, granted, in this year with the lack of upsets that isn't anything super special, but believe me it feels good for me as I don't recall the last time this was the case for me at this point in the tournament. So, although I am around the middle but usually somewhere beneath the middle so far in my pools, my total points possible is fairly high in all of them, and if things go as planned this week, I should be up in the top 10 in all my pools one week from today, with all of my Final 4 still alive, and in a spot where if Georgetown does go on to win, not only will I drink myself to death, but my estate should have some nice pool money coming to it as well. Nice to know at least the Hammer Wife and the Hammer Girls will be well provided for, and I'll have a fun way of dying to boot. Bring on the Jaeger baybeeee!

OK how about some poker content today. First off, this weekend saw a huge disappointment for me on Saturday, as a number of bloggers were on the rail to see me ride the $24 bracelet race on Saturday night in Limit Holdem (!!) all the way to the final table, where my dominating play led me to a nice chip lead with just four players to go. Of course, being the $24 variety of these things, only the top spot paid out the 2k WSOP prize package, with no prizes whatsoever to any other finishers, and as Chad has written about on several occasions, that leaves these things rife for bubble disappointment. So anyways, with me up at 78k in chips, 2nd place at around 58k, and third and fourth both in the mid 20k's, I found AK on the button and just knew I was going to knock one of the shorties out on this one. It is raised and re-raised in front of me, which normally might scare a guy with just AK, but #1 it's only Limit, so the raises aren't that scary and make it very easy -- desirable even -- to see a raised and reraised flop with AK, and #2 with only four players left at the table and the blinds very high at 1500-3000, it's perfectly possible that the first raise comes with something like 66, and the second with a hand like A9 or KQ. So long story short, it is capped on the first round, with 3 players capping it including with my AK. The flop comes AQ7. I'm lovin' it. It is bet, raised and re-raised on the flop, and all three of us call for three bets on that flop. At this point I'm not loving the AK, but I'm still hopeful. It could easily be three Ax hands we're dealing with here, or someone could have Kings and be making a move, who knows. I'm hoping for some help but am not too worried at this point. The turn is a rag, an offsuit 2 I believe, and the small stack in the small blind bets out, which the big blind calls, and I raise it. The small blind calls my raise, and the big blind folds. So again I'm a bit worried about what this guy is betting and calling here, but he was on a very small stack at this point (under 10k left in chips after all the betting in the hand so far), so he could easily be doing that with a hand like AT or AJ, assuming he is best. Of course I have to worry a bit about a set or about AQ, but the odds of that are surely low, even lower given the betting from the big blind earlier in the hand, indicative itself of some kind of an Ace holding with a lower kicker than my King. Truth be told, I read the small blind for A7 at this point, thinking he might have outflopped my dominating hand after making a very questionable call of a capped pot preflop, and I figured I probably needed a little bit of help here. But I know my King kicker is by defintion the best, so I'm just hoping for the board to pair on the river so that my Aces-over with King kicker can outboard the small stack and give me an almost insurmountable lead, and I find myself saying out loud as the river is about to be dealt "come on Queen, Queen, Queen!" And out comes the river, a beautiful, sparkling Queen. He bets, and I raise now, thinking I just rivered the guy on the gorgeous resuck, and when he calls of his last few hundred chips to get allin on my raise, I am expecting the best.

Now, I'll tell you up front that I lost the hand. And you're probably thinking it was, in fact, to AQ, having hit a rivered boat against my top two pairs and top kicker. It wasn't. So then you'll think well he must have flopped a set after all, my initial read was right, and I was just cursed with my hand improving on the river to the point that I could beat mostly any hand he would have been playing up to that point. Wrong again. You know what the little fucker turned over?

Q7. Soooooted (of course). This anus called a cap-raise preflop with frigging Queen frigging 7 sooooted. Now, I know he was fairly short-stacked and in last place of the 4 of us at the time. But at around 22k in chips, he was nowhere near the point of desperation where you just have to push and pray. Yet push and pray he did, and he got rewarded by flopping bottom two pairs on the flop, when I happened to flop TPTK with AK. An incredibly lucky flop for the fuckin fonkey extraordinaire who called a cap raise with Q7s. I still can't believe that shit. What's worse, when I rivered top two pair top kicker, which actually was ahead of what this schmuck had been holding up to that point in the hand, that shit also happened to river him a frigging boat. With fucking Q7 soooted, did I mention that already?!! So needless to say, that pot took about half of my big chip stack, making the luckbox the new chip leader and leaving me in 3rd place of 4 remaining. But, thanks to my performance and the big stack I had amassed up to that point, I still had about 42k left in chips, up against a small stack with around 25k, and the leaders now with around 48k and the fonkey with now around 65k. Still easily within reach.

A few hands later, I am dealt AJs. A veritable monster at a 4-handed table. I raise it up 3x, and just the 2nd place guy calls from the button. Flop comes A83 rainbow. Again, I am smelling blood here, and when he just calls my flop bet, I know I'm ahead, and hoping he's got a lower Ace which he had been prone to play throughout the final table like this. The turn is another blank, where I elect to check to try to trap the guy, he obliges with a bet, which I promptly raise. He just calls, and now I really know I'm ahead. This guy was stubborn as hell, and I had taken a number of pots from him because he would stay in one round too long with hands he knew were beat, and this was gonna be another of them. Long story short, river is another blank, I bet, he raises, and at this point I'm thinking "Fuck!" but what am I gonna do, with just around 10k left in chips, I had to call it and see what had happened to me this time. He flips up pocket 8s for the flopped set, and I was basically done from there. It was too bad, really. With the big stack and just 4 players remaining, I took AK to an Ace-high flop and lost to a fonkey who called a cap-raised pot preflop with Q7s and flopped two pairs which turned into a boat when I made top-two-top-kicker on the river. And then I took AJ --- which most of you donkeys treat as a can't-lose hand as we all know -- to an Ace-high flop when I knew I had the best Ace out there on a 4-handed table, and lose to a flopped set. As I commented just afterwards to some people in the girly chat, in the end, as with most limit tournaments in which I've ever been involved, the guys who went on to play heads-up are the guy who got lucky and flopped two shit pairs and then rivered a boat, and the guy who flopped a set, both when down to just a few players left at the final table. That's what it takes typically to win a limit tournament -- a whole mother load of luck. And mine just ran out at the worst possible time on Saturday night. Still, it's been a while since I've made a big run like this in a limit holdem tournament, so that aspect was good. But man does it suck to lose that way, when I had played so well going in to that thing. And in the end it just reinforces all the more my feelings about limit tournaments in general -- while clearly skill can play a big role, and I think surely did in my case as I played some great poker almost start to finish in this thing on Saturday -- in the end, when you can't push the fonkeys out because of the pre-ordained betting structure, and the dickhead with the Q7s is going to stay in even through max-raised preflop betting action, it just leaves way more up to luck than I choose to commit my funds to for the most part.

In other news, Sunday night was Miami Don's latest Big Game, and I had fun for the 20 minutes or so that I lasted. In the end I had plans early on Sunday night that caused me to miss the first 35 minutes or so from this thing, and then I played too strong when I got back in an attempt to win back the quarter of my stack that had gone missing in my absence, including pushing A9o against Waffles who had amassed a big stack with what I understand was some nice turn and river luck, and and who was trying to play table bully as best as he could, for a guy who is just not used to even being alive in these blogger tournaments after an hour anymore, let alone to being alive and with a big stack at the time to boot. Despite the fact that when I left, Waffles had amassed a massive chip lead over the rest of the field, he then proceeded to blow it all on some allin calls with not much, mostly against the Gnome, and yadda yadda yadda skip ahead an hour and Waffles with gone without a cash, and the Gnome had taken the Big Game down. Waffles, for his part, has a funny take on the tournament on his own blog, and I'm glad to see he is keeping his sense of humor about this. And for all of Waffles' luck on the later hand rounds early on in the Big Game, the Gnome was the real card rack of the night. Check this out from the Gnome's blog review of the event:

"I played 242 hands. I was dealt AA twice, KK twice, QQ five (!) times, JJ twice and AK three times. Seriously, that's a sick run."

I'll say. Fourteen times of the top-5 premium holdem hands in one 12-person tournament. That ain't bad. Ain't bad at all. Although I have to give the guy props for not busting early -- lord knows I would have with five phucking pairs of pocket Queens. I cannot win with those whores to save my life. And I can't beat 'em either, as I've lamented about many times here. Anyways, congratulations out to smizmiatch a.k.a. the Surly Poker Gnome on a job well done, as well as to Smokkee and Wes for their 2nd and 3rd place finishes and respective cashes as well in what is always among the most skilled field of all the blogger tournaments. And thanks again to Don for another fun time and a job well done with the Big Game.

One last thing, speaking of Smokkee -- Smokkee mentioned something in comments a couple of times to other blogs last week, and I have to give the guy props for pointing out another great new tournament that has quickly become my preferred way of winning the $26 Tier 1 tokens on full tilt. For Tier 2 ($75) tokens, I still prefer the nightly 9:45pm ET Token Frenzy tournaments, which pay out one $75 token for roughly even 5.5 entrants at just $14 a pop and have thus far proven very easy to win if you know how to play mtt sats and can avoid any bad luck in the earlygoing. But for the $26 Tier 1 tokens, full tilt in the past week has started these new $13.75 buyin heads-up sng's, where the losers gets zilch and the winner gets a $26 token. It's that simple. Beat a guy in a low-buyin heads up match, and win a token. And, having won 8 out of 11 of these hu matches this weekend, let me say that the quality of play in these things is not good. At all. In fact, even for $13.75, I ran into two or three different guys who were just the push-allin-preflop-almost-every-hand type of guys, who are for the most part laughably easy to beat. Let me put it this way: any situation that has me winning 8 out of 11 hu matchups has got to be easy, because I hate heads-up play and generally am not patient enough to wait out the best situation to get a lot of chips into the pot. In any event, this was a great find by Smokkee, and as I said at least for the time being it is far preferable for me even to those 18-person turbo Anna Nicole Britney Spears sex token sngs that I have played and written so often about. The average time of these things in 11 of them over the weekend I would say was probably 10 minutes or less (as compared to maybe 80 minutes for the 18-person turbo peep sngs), and for less than $5 more in buyin, to me that's the best tradeoff in the world. $5, worse opponent play on average and save me over an hour each time? Easiest decision in the world. Thanks, Smokkee.

OK I have a fun hand to analyze around the whole Any Two Cards concept at the end of tournaments, but I think I'll save that for Tuesday and get this post up now. I also bought a whole new spate of poker books this weekend, which I will be mentioning along the way as I read them since I've just finished re-reading a bunch of oldies but goodies for the tenth time as well as my latest batch of new poker texts. So there's lots of fodder there for future posts I'm sure. For now, you can find me tonight in Mondays at the Hoy at 10pm ET on pokerstars, where you will be too I'm sure, as well as in my usual run of Monday night bracelet race activity on full tilt. There is the regular 9:30pm ET $26 buyin 6-max nlh race on full tilt where I will definitely be, and plus Mondays at midnight also means another $216 buyin bracelet race paying the 2k prize packages to the top 10% of the field, which means I will be in most if not all of the 9:10pm, 9:30pm and 9:40pm ET satellites tonight into the midnight race as well. Will tonight be my night to get into the WSOP? I'm playing great lately so any day could be The Day for me! Check in here tomorrow to find out.

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Blogger Gnome said...

Good luck in getting a WSOP seat! Thanks for the comments about the Big Game -- I'm glad we didn't end up in many hands together.

1:21 AM  
Blogger smokkee said...

ya man. those $13.75 HU matches for the $26 token are a piece o' cake. i'm 4-2 so far. they rarely take over 15 mins to play. i won one on the very first hand.


1:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ACC is overrated but then again the Big East blows too. Oh and the Big 10 we hardly knew ya.

I'm seeing the West Coast bias up close for the first time as Pac 10s UCLA, USC, and Oregon make the Sweet 16. Also nice job by UNLV who got screwed with a 7th seed. Four dangerous teams that will get no respect.

Thanks for playing last night. I'm glad we could both give our chips to Waffles so he could donk them off.

2:07 AM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

I'm giving A-J lessons later this month. Sign up for a spot at my blog ...

Q-7? What a piece of shit way to donk off chips. Terrible break, bro.

3:07 AM  
Blogger Irongirl01 said...

Good Luck tonite Hoy in the bracelet attempts. Im going to reread your middle pocket pair articles in earnest this week in prep for Foxwoods.

If I can stay awake past 10PM ill try to make the HOY.

6:39 AM  
Blogger KajaPoker said...

I came by your tables to wish you good luck in the Sats tonight and saw you were doing well early on without my help. Hope you win your seat.

Thanks for pointing me to the single table HU token games. Since I can't win two in a row, but can usually win one, maybe that's the way to go for now.

I also wanted to ask if you have ever posted about strategy in satellites, like the token frenzy. Most of what I see is sit tight and only play your monsters, but I am not sure this is the only way to go since the average suckout ratio is huge. Any thoughts?

9:10 AM  
Blogger Schaubs said...

I agree Smokkee. 1-1 on the weekend in a drunken haze... I like them as well considering the time and attention span required...

11:03 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I think I have never seen such blogs ever before that has complete things with all details which I want. So kindly update this ever for online

10:33 AM  

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