Thursday, March 15, 2007

Lots to Discuss

OK. As the title indicates, I've got lots to get to today.

First off, today is the beginning of the NCAA tournament, which for a sports guy like me is probably the single most fun day of the entire year. I enjoy the superbowl, I like the World Series in baseball, and I'm really in to the WSOP Main Event when that shiat gets down to the final table or two. But there is really nothing that compares to these first few days of March Madness. 16 games each day on Thursday and Friday, and I'm already signed up to view every game for free from my work computer -- one of the few sites of any real value that my dorkwork seems not to have discovered yet to block access to. And of course, the tournament takes on added value when your team is in it, and all the more when they're actually good. For me, being a Georgetown guy has been very difficult for the years. Yeah there was a brief year there with Allen Iverson in his sophomore (and final) year at Georgetown when the team was good, but there was always the specter of Marcus Camby and John Calipari's UMass team in our same bracket that you just knew was going to end our season.

This year, it's different. Georgetown enters the tournament this year as probably the second-hottest team in the entire country, having won something like 17 of its last 18 games coming into the Big Dance. John Calipari's Memphis team has won I think 23 straight, but let's be honest, they don't play much in the way of good competition, so even though I have loads of respect for Calipari's coaching and for the Tigers in general, what Georgetown has done this year has been truly incredible. We clobbered the Big East this year, including two beatings of top-10 Pittsburgh, two beatings of top-20 Notre Dame, and some smushings of top-20 Marquette and Louisville to boot all during the past stretch of 10 or 12 games or so. It's been an amazing run, with the only loss coming a couple of weeks back to hated rival Syracuse, which I'll get to in a moment. Anyways, the Hoyas enter the tournament today as a #2 seed, but with UNC as the #1 seed in our bracket, I have to say I am not the least bit afraid of that team. Everybody knows but no one will talk about the fact that Carolina is having a down year. I don't care if they ended up winning the ACC this season -- having their worst year as a conference in literally as long as I can remember -- but they are simply not that great this year. If the Hoyas match up with them in the Reginal finals, take it from me: Georgetown will emerge victorious. And I will be there rooting them on the whole way, and as a result of the Hoyas' greatness this year, I haven't been more excited for the NCAA Tournament since I was actually at Georgetown in college, and that was quite a while ago. Anyways the Hoyas' first game is at 2:45pm ET Thursday I believe, and you can bet I'll be watching it as we crush some school named Belmont that I've honestly never heard of in my entire life.

Now back to Syracuse for just a minute. Let me begin by reiterating that I hate Syracuse. I effing hate them. They are probably Georgetown's biggest rival, I can't stand the coach that weasely anus Jim Boeheim, and I hate everything that has any relation whatsoever to the stinkin Cuse. That said, Syracuse got what I have to say is the single biggest snub I've ever seen from the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee this year. Somehow when the brackets were released this past Sunday evening, the Cuse was left out of the 65-team field, including the 34 or whatever at-large bids, and I am still trying to figure out how in the effing eff that could possibly have happened. Let's review. Now I'm the first to say that the Cuse did not have many big wins this year, and they had some stoopid losses to go along with the lack of big wins. But they did beat Georgetown in the last week of the season, a #2 seed in this tournament, and to go along with that they did also manage to do a little thing called going 10-6 in the Big East, with 22 wins overall. Ten and Six guys. This wasn't some 7-9 conference team, or even 8-8 or even 9-7 (the latter of which should also basically be a lock for the Big Dance when combined with 22 overall wins). This team went 10-6, ending tied for 5th place in the Big East, and went on to become the first team in the history of time to record 10 Big East wins and fail to make the tournament. It's a filthy joke. Meanwhile, a team like Duke goes 8-8 in the worst ACC I can ever recall (literally), loses in the first round of their conference tournament game, has their worst season since Pete Gaudet tried to fill Coach K's shoes in 1994-95, and what happens? 6 seed. That my friends is a phucking joke of the highest order. Which is why I'm going to enjoy every minute of VCU eliminating Duke in round 1 from the Big Dance starting at 7:10pm ET on Thursday night. So tune in around 9 o'clock Eastern time to see a bunch of white kids standing around crying. Lord knows I will be all over that stuff.

OK now on to some poker before I get to some other items. Last night was incredibly tough for me as I suffered two horrendous tournament endings in big spots in tournaments that I really wanted to win. First I played the 9:30pm ET $69 buyin Bracelet Race on full tilt, which I truly dominated to the tune of sitting in 2nd place with 15 players left after the second break, and with the top 3 winning the 2k WSOP prize package I was looking very good and had a big, big stack. Then the wheels came off as soon as round 3 began. First I'm dealt KK in the second hand of the third hour, and some dude raises it up 3x in front of me. I reraise enough to get him allin, he quickly calls with AQ (donkey!!!), and the Ace on the turn nails me where I would have had a prohibitive chip lead with 14 players to go, and instead lands me near the middle of the pack. Talk about a despicable setup hand. What am I supposed to do, just call with my Kings at the end of an mtt like that? Fold? Fuckers. Then, only 5 hands later, I am dealt AK in the small blind and it's folded around to me. I raise it up, representing the same steal that I've done with nothing in my hand about 150 other times at this table, and the big blind repops it pretty big. Of course I get it all in, knowing I'm about to crush this dude who probably has Ax going, and what does he flip up? Pocket Aces.

Needless to say, I was out of the tournament a few minutes later, putting up a good fight and eventually busting in 7th place at the final table when my AT of course couldn't hold up against a donkey who called my allin with his KJ. A move which, btw, makes even the anuses who call allins with AJ look like geniuses. How the eff you call an allin in a big spot with KJ will never be clear to me. Dumbest move ever. And thank you full tilt for rewarding the dumbery. Again.

Anyways, both cracknaces and I had also qualified for the $216 buyin bracelet race at midnight ET last night, after a long, hard-fought battle in I believe the $14 buyin satellite to this event that ran at 9:10pm ET. I enjoy playing with Chad at my table, mostly because he is an awesome tournament player, but it's also hard because #1 I know he is so good, and #2 I know he knows my game so well, something which most of the other players in these satellites certainly do not. Anyways we sat at the same table off and on for the majority of the event, and in the end we both made the top 8 seats that paid the entry into the midnight tournament, where I was determined to right the wrong that had been unleashed upon me earlier in the night by those setup biatches at full tilt.

So the midnight bracelet race starting table pops up, and who is that 3 seats to my left? Chad again. Chad and I both fought it out at the same table for a good two hours, including me hitting a ferocious runner-runner flush to suck out on some donk who had me utterly dead to rights, and shortly after that I pick up pocket Kings in middle position. Long story short, I slow play them and Chad ends up getting allin with me on a hammer flop of 227 with his AJ, and miraculously the AJ did not win the hand (I'm convinced it would have won if Chad only knew how to play AJ properly against me, which is to get it allin before the flop against my pocket pair), and I felt bad to knock Chad out. But, I was happy to be in 2nd place with about 50 players left, with the top 9 finishers winning the 2k WSOP packages. That persisted such that I was in 3rd out of 39 players left, until again the bottom suddenly dropped completely out of my run. Suddenly, every time I open-raised it preflop from late position with KQ or AJ, etc., someone behind me was going allin, eventually showing QQ or KK or AA. Every time I raised from MP with a small pocket pair, someone else called, three overs hit the board, they bet and I had to fold. All the stuff that had been working for me all night (all poker career, really) suddenly stopped working on a dime, and the result was a slow bleed of chips that eventually led me down near the middle of the pack heading into the second break. As the third hour began, I am dealt 99 in middle position, I've got just under 10 big blinds, so I just push, hoping for one of these two-overcard donkey mofos to call me, and from late position I think I've found my mark when he pushes his entire big stack in in an apparent attempt to isolate against me with what must be only a mediocre hand.

Or not. Pocket Aces (sound familiar?). And IGH, in the low 30s or upper 20s I think. So two missed opportunities last night in bracelet races where I had solid leads going on late enough in the event to be thinking about winning them both. That sucked. It was one of those nights that ended so badly that even when I woke up this morning, I'm still feeling kinda sick to my stomach about the whole thing. That first one was much worse because I had had such a big stack and got so set up with the KK and AK hands dealt to me very early in round 3 -- exactly the kind of help I was praying for to be able to ice my position early -- and it always hurts me the most when I know I could have won, should have won, and played great cards perfectly but just got effing effed. Damn I am still pissed off today. So tonight I'll have to try to get back to the bracelet race grind once again, though it will be hard after the way I feel about last night. Wednesday night was my first real solid shot at winning one of these things this year, and in both cases I feel like the chance was basically taken away from me. I wouldn't play a single hand differently than I did at the end of either of those two tournaments last night. The cards just set up against me at the worst possible times, and I don't see how I could have avoided my fate in either one.

OK back to some other thoughts here briefly. Lost last night. Good episode again, two in a row now. Basically, I've been very happy with the episodes since the return from the 3-month hiatus, with the exception of the car episode a few weeks back which was literally the worst episode I've ever seen of any show since the day I was born. Wednesday's was another good show though, with a few interesting tidbits answered and a few new pieces of information (like the relationship between Jack and Claire, which I have written this way so as not to give away anything to those of you who plan to watch but have not seen the episode yet). And so it turns out my friends from work have been right all along -- it sounds like Ben is not in fact the real leader of the Others. Not that we have any clue who is. Maybe that guy who first recruited Juliette to come to Dharma in the first place? Maybe someone else we haven't even run into yet? Who knows. And the best part of course was how they found Jack at the end there. Is that for real? Do you think he is really happy there? Could he be drugged? Hypnotized or brainwashed? Or just playing along? Wtf was up with that? Lots of questions still unanswered, and I'm looking forward to next week. Just keep Cheech Marin out of these shows and I think we'll be ok.

OK one other thing, about the hands I asked about over the past two days. First off, about yesterday's hand, of course I agree with just about every commenter that of course you put in your last 50 chips in that spot. Frankly, like mostly everyone but the last commenter yesterday (mr. want-to-be-different), to me this is a trivially easy call to use one of Dan Harrington's favorite expressions. You've got a suited connector, and you actually have a chance to quintuple up (at least), with a bunch of low cards or 3 any spades on the board. You will surely not find a better risk-reward ratio than this in your next 5 hands before you're blinded in -- even if you get pocket Aces on the very next hand, the chances of being able to quintuple up with it are almost nil -- so to me this is just about the easiest call in the world.

Now, why did I ask these two questions over the past two days? Well, a guy I work with recently left my company, and just before he left he returned to me my copy I had lent him of Harrington on Holdem, Volume II. Now I assume most of you have read this book already, but if you haven't, it is widely regarded (including by me) as the single best no-limit holdem tournament book ever written. Personally I don't think anything else is even close, and I doubt you will find many serious mtt guys who disagree with that view. Nonetheless, one thing I've noticed as I've become better and better at nlh tournaments is that I find myself disagreeing more and more with Harrington's recommendations in certain spots, and I find that interesting because I remember the first time I read Volume II that I was basically in awe of every single piece of advice, every single recommendation, and I certainly didn't think anything he said was flat-out wrong. By the time I got to Volume III, which I plan to explore a little bit here over the coming weeks, I had played thousands upon thousands of mtts, and I recall thinking much of Harrington's advice was pretty awful in that book. But Volume II has always occupied a special place in my head, as one of the truly great and accurate tournament strategy books of all time. Now, it clearly still holds the same weight for me overall as a book, and if you haven't read it then I am basically much, much better than you in nlh tournaments, period.

That said, both of these examples actually come straight out of Harrington Volume 2, and I included them because I think Harrington gives terrible advice in both instances. First, the J2s hand from Tuesday. This is the one where basically everyone agreed, when you're in the top couple of positions on the leaderboard when 6-handed at the final 2 tables of a major mtt, it folds to the button who bumps your big blind up from 4k to 15k, and you are holding J2s, you should let it go. Of course you should. Yes you have a big stack so you technically have the chips to withstand a hit if you end up taking one here, but it seems to me that with the Jack and the 2 in your hand, you have got to be able to find a better spot to bully someone around. Nonetheless, here's what Harrington has to say in this spot (I'm paraphrasing this quote somewhat):

"Despite your weak holding, you should often raise here -- perhaps to 30k or 40k. The raise is good for two reasons. There's a significant chance (probably as much as 60 percent) that the button was stealing and now will fold. If he calls, your hand will catch some flops and win some pots....Any bet that can win immediately 50 or 60 percent of the time is a profitable bet to make....In the latter stages of a tournament, you must defend your blind and let the other players know that you are not to be trifled with."

Wow. When I re-read this the other day for the first time in probably two years, I was shocked at what horrible advice this was from a master poker tournament player and teacher. Maybe the first time I read this, some 10,000 nlh tournaments ago, I thought this was sage advice, but at this point I can't believe how terrible Harrington's commentary here is. I still say -- and it seems like you all unanimously agreed with me -- that #1 there is not necessarily a huge chance that the button is stealing, and even if there is, your hand is so weak that to chance that he calls or reraises is just plain stoopid with the big stack you already have. And the comment of "your hand will catch some flops and win some pots" is horrible advice. While technically true, your J2 is going to lose to whatever the button is holding far more than it will win, and especially with the 2 in your hand I don't see how he can possibly view playing such a hand in this way. And lastly, while I'm all about defending my blind late in a poker tournament -- you guys know I am a blind stealer extraordinaire -- picking this spot, with this hand, to do it is just plain silly IMO. With by far the biggest stack at the table, there is almost zero reason to have to defend in this spot. This is some bad advice from Dan Harrington, plain and simple. Btw if you're interested in reading a little more about it, this example is on page 92 of Harrington on Holdem Volume 2.

Similarly, Wednesday's hand example is also from Volume 2, and it also seems that my intuition was correct that (almost) everyone agrees Harrington gives bad advice here. Recall that in this case, you had just half the big blind left in your stack, you've got 43s in middle position, and you're facing the two blinds, a caller, a raiser and then a call of that raise already ahead of you preflop. With just the half a big blind left in your stack, you're basically toast here anyways, and the only thing you should actually care about is tripling or quadrupling up to try to get back into the tournament. How you can possibly pass up a chance at quintupling up when you've got a suited connector is beyond me here. In fact, I would argue that just about Any Two Cards (Lucko's three favorite words) justify a call in this spot, given the chance to quintuple up, and just hope you make trips on the flop, a miracle straight or flush, something like that.

But Harrington, who throughout the "low Ms" portion of Volume 2 advocates pushing allin with all sorts of garbage if the Ms get low enough, suddenly here has this to say about this hand:

"The chance of quintupling up looks enticing, but your hand is incredibly weak. Against five random hands, your winning chances are only about 10%. While the pot is giving you 5-to-1 odds, your hand is about a 9-to-1 underdog. You've still got five hands left before you're forced to put up all your chips in the big blind. Let this one go, and wait for a better chance."

Huh? Give me a 10% chance to quintuple up in this spot with a suited connector, and I'll take it in a heartbeat. In a mouse's heartbeat, for crying out loud (I'm assuming a smaller animal like a mouse has a faster heartbeat than a human. Maybe that's wrong, but that's what I meant here). As I mentioned earlier, the quintupling up is what makes this such a clear and obvious call to me. Even if you knew you would be dealt AJ on the very next hand or something, the guaranteed chance to quintuple up in this spot, when your stack is that low already, is paramount here. Who cares if you double up with AJ two hands from now. Then you've got one big blind left. That is just dumb. And what's with this "You've still got five hands left before you're forced to put up all your chips in the big blind"? Go re-read this chapter of Harrington Volume II sometime. He has just spent the past 10 or 15 hand examples describing how you have to push allin with a hand like Q6s or K9o from early position with an M of 5 for crying out loud, because you're "in the Red Zone" and in a few hands the blinds will double and your M will become 2 or 3, so you have to push now. But suddenly here, you've got five whole hands left before you are blinded in with your M well into the Dead Zone? This was the most incongruous advice I've seen from Harrington in the entire book so far, and I'm through re-reading about two-thirds of it at this point. Btw this example is on page 219 of Volume II if you want to read more for yourself.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm thoroughly enjoying re-reading the best poker tournament book of all time. And most of what Harrington has to say is really great stuff. But, again, as I have grown increasingly experienced, and increasingly skilled, in playing no-limit holdem tournaments myself, I find myself noticing more and more holes in what Harrington has to say. I guess that's part of the fun of re-reading a book like this, but I have to say I was very pleased when just about all of you agreed with my view of the hands Harrington has profiled here. It turns out, with a little experience under my belt, that some of Harrington's advice in Volume II is flat-out terrible, almost nonsensical, and completely opposite other general advice he gives in the book, and even just a few pages earlier or later from the examples I've given here.

OK that's it for today, I hope this post is long enough for you guys. Check out the NCAA Tournament games this afternoon if you're into that kind of thing. Talk about a great day to be Miami Don or any of you other luckboxes out in Vegas. I've been out there for the first week of March Madness and if you're into watching and betting on sports, today cannot be beat. Hoyas, 2:45pm ET baybeee. Belmont is so going Doooowwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnnnn.

Labels: , , , ,


Blogger Fuel55 said...

43s vs 4 opponents with any pair, any suited ace or any two broadway is about 17% to pentuple up. Give your 4 opponents a wider range to include suited kings and suited connectors and 43s percentage to pentuple up drops to 11%. Still an easy call in my books. Doubling does you no good when short you need to shoot for the moon.

11:33 PM  
Blogger jjok said...

Lost was excellent......thank you DVR.

34sooooted is a other way around it

1:17 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

Thoughts on Lost this week...

1. Not sure how I feel about Jack's dad being the BabyDaddy to Claire. Waiting to see how this ties in to things (like half of everything else going on)

2. Am I the only one who's getting more frustrated with Locke? Why is he so set on sabotaging things? I saw a little bit of a spoiler, so I have a hunch for his reasoning, but why does he have to sabotage everyone?

3. Black hair or doesn't matter. Claire is gorgeous

4. Thoughts going forward - I'm on the fence about Jack. I don't think he's drugged. I say either he's trying to be happy, as a result of finding out more about the circumstance he's in (and because he's got a thing for Juliet now) or because he's scheming something and just playing it cool right now. I don't know if he has the patience for the latter, but I'm leaning towards that anyways. Guess we'll find out in Season 6 at this pace.

All in all, good episode.

1:31 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Yeah Matt Jack's dad seems to be becoming more and more involved in this whole thing as time goes on. And with no body in that coffin, I can't help but think we haven't seen the last of him on the show.

Locke's motivations I think will become somewhat more clear in next week's show, if the scenes from next week can be believed, anyways. Personally I'm not nearly as frustrated by him as I am by the lack of some answers on other fronts. Locke obviously thinks his destiny is to do something here at the island, and he doesn't bother me too much.

Claire looks good but to me is no great shakes. In fact I don't think any of the women on that show are super great looking to me. A few are good looking, including Claire, to me but none are superb IMO.

I say Jack has been brainwashed maybe, the same way they did that shiat to the kid whateverhisnameis, Alex's boyfriend. Either that or he's scheming. Take your pick, like you said we'll probably learn which sometime in early 2012 or something.

1:43 AM  
Blogger Patch said...

The key aspect of Harrington's advice to push with crap when you have an M of 5 or less is that you are first in. You've got two ways to win -- everybody could fold (which is obviously what you're hoping) or you could actually win at the showdown.

With the 43s scenario, you've got to win at the showdown, you're up against multiple opponents (most of whom are likely to have you beat pre-flop), you aren't getting the pot odds necessary to make the call, and there are no implied odds. And, oh yeah, there's a raise and a call ahead of you.

Admittedly, with only half a blind left in your stack, you're going to be entering a lottery whenever you toss those chips in the pot, but you know with 99.99% certainty that you're way behind in this situation. I don't think Harrington is wrong to suggest you should wait it out and hope for better starters in the next few hands.

4:30 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Patch you're 100% correct about Harrington advising to be first in. But as you point out in your comment, even if you're first in with the 50 chips (half the big blind), you will be chasing out exactly zero people from the pot whenever you make your move. Hence I think his advice on the 43s hadn is just about the worst thing I've ever heard. You get the chance to at least quintuple with a frigging suited connector in this spot, and I think you're insane not to take it. Just my opinion, ymmv.

4:39 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home