Friday, September 28, 2007

Hard Drive Troubles, and the Weekend in Sports

What a day for a Friday. It's been a hugely long week for me at work, as most of the issues I wrote about at my worktiltier times this summer still persist and will never go away it is obvious, and I for one cannot wait for tomorrow to just relax and enjoy my freedom. Not wearing a tie will be a big fucking plus too btw.

I have to give a shout-out here to Dell service, who called me out of the blue on Thursday late afternoon and actually came to my apartment with my new hard drive and installed it at like 8:30pm last night without me even having to beg them. I can't believe that less than 48 hours after I first called Dell to report my computer wasn't loading, here I am with a brand new hard drive installed. What's more, the tech guy they sent also ordered me a new keyboard, new laptop screen and new AC adapter for my pc, all free of charge and under warranty. So I may actually make out well after all this, and all for basically just one night without a computer. I still can't believe how quickly they took care of everything. So, I spent basically all of Thursday night going and downloading all the apps that I need for my personal pc. That meant trips to get AOL IM and Yahoo! Messenger so I can talk to you girly chatters. Screenhunter for the screenshots for the blog. Core FTP for uploading files like those screenshots. Full tilt (obviously) and Pokerstars (for some reason) to be able to get my poker fix. Poker Tracker and PA Hud to be able to start rebuilding my database of over a million total hands. Resetting all my bookmarks. Plus with all these "clean" new apps comes all the configuring and other work that goes along with it -- choosing my preferences, actually getting fucking PokerTracker to work (those of you with Vista will know especially what I'm talking about here), selecting which of you donkeys to permablock on the girly thingy, you know how it is. So I did not have much time for poker last night, although I did manage to lose a little more than a buyin at the 2-4 tables, which is always nice to end the first evening on my "new" old computer.

You know, as I thought about it, there are really only two items of data that I will really miss losing with this new hard drive. One is my poker hand history database on PokerTracker. That sucks to lose, but in the end I only lose about 4 months of data on my unrecoverable hard drive, and in the overall scheme of things I can't believe that is much of a loss. And to be honest I barely ever run PA HUD and so I don't really get nearly as much out of that hh database as I should. But the thing I will miss the most is all the screenshots I've taken over the past four months. Dumbass me has never bought a flash drive or an Iomega anything in my entire life, but I suppose maybe it's time to invest in one of those badboys. I probably lost around 7500 poker screenshots on my fried hard drive, and even though I don't have anything specific planned to do with them, I would still rather not have lost them all. I mean, those shots of you fonkeys calling my allin preflop raises with JTo and 74s and limping utg with AJo and all the other awesome things you guys do, that stuff is really gonna be missed. But I'll make do, and eventually if it's like last time, after about a month of frustration then PT will finally be working again on my new system and it'll be just like old times.

So with my pc back in the house, it's time to focus on my favorite Friday topic: sports! And no discussion on sports today can start without mentioning the greatest chokers of all time -- those fucking New York Mets. My god are they horrible. Putting aside my Phillies for a minute here, the Mets absofuckinglutely do not deserve to go to the playoffs. For more than four months now, that team has played sub-.500 baseball. This is not some great team that is just going on a slide recently. I mean, yes they've now fully blown a 7 game lead with 17 games to play, and yes that is a collapse of biblical proportions, but this Mets team has been playing losing baseball for the vast majority of the season at this point. They stink. Their pitching and especially their bullpen has proven to be no better than the Phillies', and the hitting is just shitty enough to be giving up lead after lead over the past few weeks against teams all around the country. The Phillies deserve to make the playoffs a lot more than the Mets do, of that I am certain. F the Mets. They're a despicable bunch of guys playing for a despicable franchise. And nothing would make me happier than having a 163rd game tiebreaker in Philadelphia next Monday night to watch the Phillies claim the NL East while I rip shit up in the MATH at the same time. My god did I mention how bad the Mets suck it? They are horrible.

But I'm a real Phillies fan, and I have been since growing up in Philly and then in South Jersey for my entire childhood, so I know how tough the next few games are going to be for us to win. This team, this franchise, historically loses in this situation. Anyone who's familiar with the last few years of the National League alone knows exactly what I'm talking about, but think about this: in a division with five teams in it, plus a league wildcard for most of the time, the Phillies have not made the playoffs in 14 seasons. In fact, the team has made exactly one playoff appearance in the last 24 seasons. Can you imagine that? Just that 1993 season, the "Wild Thing" and Joe Carter World Series year, but otherwise Philadelphia is a city that is absolutely starved for some baseball success. And having watched and lived through the last generation of Phillies baseball, I simply do not believe they will get it done, even though I'd much rather be the Phillies playing the Nationals at home this weekend than I would want to be the Mets having to face the Marlins, and in particular Dontrelle Willis who I believe is scheduled to pitch on the last game of the season. Not that Dontrelle or the Marlins have had some great year or anything, but they play the Mets I think a lot better than the Nationals play the Phillies. But you watch, by the time I'm back here on Monday, something will have happened to have kept the Phillies out of the playoffs. It's gonna be a long and exciting weekend for Phillies fans over the next few days, that is for sure.

And on to football. So Duce McAllister's injury early in the Saints' Monday night game last weekend led my opponent to have a monster day from the otherwise worthless Reggie Bush and thus beat my fantasy team in my own league, giving me my first loss of the season in that league where I still sit 2-1 with lots of fantasy points scored and in 3rd place overall. I am ripping up my friend's league where I am the only undefeated team at 3-0, and in my third league with a bunch of college friends my team is 2-1, separated from a 3-0 record there as well thanks only to a 0.38-point defeat in Week 2. And then there is Chad's blogger league, where I beat the worst team in the league last week for my first victory of the season. So amazingly in that league, even though I am averaging over 100 points a week and have scored I think the 3rd most fantasy points of anybody in that league, I've also had the most fantasy points scored against me out of anyone, and somehow I'm sitting near the bottom at 1-2 over there, with little prospects for passing all the teams I would need to pass in order to make any noise in that league. Of course that's my one money league this year, isn't it always that way? Go figure.

The amazing thing about me having a generally very successful fantasy football season this year so far is how awful you may recall my draft position was in every single one of my four leagues this year. You may recall me whining in the blog about somehow getting the 5th, 7th, 7th and 10th picks in each of my four fantasy football leagues, which at the time I thought was a bad beat of pretty obnoxious proprtions, not being even in the top 4 picks in a single one of my four leagues, and not in the top 6 in three of them. I still can't believe that happened. And yet, it ends up being exactly the thing that has saved me to a large extent this season. Think about it -- those guys with the top 4 or 5 picks in every fantasy football draft this year, who did they end up spending those top picks on? LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson and Steven Jackson, all three of who are more or less abject busts so far this season. All of them, totally worthless more or less from a fantasy perspective. So in the end, I seem through the first three weeks of the season to have lucked out by not getting forced into taking those few guys who just are not producing at top-flight first-round pick levels thus far in the 2007-08 NFL season. All that could change at any time of course, but for now it has worked out for me to be starting guys like Chad Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, Ronnie Brown, Brian Westbrook (best runningback in the league bar none right now) and Shaun Alexander a heck of a lot better than starting those big-name non-performers this year would have been. That's what's been keeping me afloat so far, and hopefully it will continue as I have been putting up some bigass fantasy points in three games this year, which I've been rewarded for with my record in every league I'm in this year, except of course for the $100 bloggers league, which is obviously rigged.

So last week I ended up going 1-0 with my two picks, as I gave you the Eagles -6.5 over the Lions in what I described as one of the most ridiculous and absurd lines I've ever seen on a game, so I suggested that somebody must know something and to go with the line despite how recockulous it was. I guess that worked a little bit, as the Eagles ran up 56 points or so on the atrociously non-existent Lions defense in a good old-fashioned style crushing at the Linc in Philly. I also gave you the Jets -3 over the Dolphins at home, which ended up a push. This makes me 2-2-1 so far on the year in my picks against the spread, but last week was a strong comeback from my 0-2 embarrassment the weekend before and gets me back on the right track to pick some more winners this week. So here I am.

The first game I like this week occurs in Detroit, where the NFL's worst defense (sorry, Goat!) in the Lions goes up against the reigning NFC Champions the Chicago Bears. Only this time the Bears don't have the inept fonkey Wrecks Grossman at quarterback. Not that Brian Griese is the end-all be-all of NFL quarterbacks either, playing on his 4th team in a relatively short career in his own right, but something tells me that Griese will do enough in this game to make Lovie Smith question why he didn't make this move sooner (like, about 18 games sooner), especially against the Lions whose defense I think just gave up another touchdown to Kevin Curtis and another touchdown to Brian Westbrook as I type this. The Bears are favored in this game in Detroit by 3 points, and I like the Bears to win by more than that at the hands of Brian Griese at the helm.

My second pick this week is going to be a Miami Don special -- a road underdog. The Denver Broncos travel to Indianapolis to play the Superbowl champion Colts this Sunday at 4:15pm ET, where the superpowered Colts offense is favored to win by 10 points in the RCA Dome. Now don't get me wrong -- I'm not a big Jay Cutler fan, and I don't think the Broncos are all that this year. But they do have a good O-line, and they do have a very solid defense, and at the end of the day the Colts have simply not been blowing many teams out this year. I do believe the Colts will win the game and remain undefeated, but I think 10 points is an awfully large number against a run-oriented and defensive-minded team like the Broncos. I'll take the Broncos plus 10 points to make a game of it with the reigning Superbowl champions.

So this week's two picks are:

1. Bears -3 at the Lions.

2. Broncos +10 at the Colts.

At 2-2-1 so far this year, hopefully the above two picks will add to that record this weekend here as the first quarter of the season is already coming to a close for most NFL teams.

That's all for now. Hope everyone has a profitable weekend at the tables, and if you're around at all in the evenings, come check me out on my brand new old pc. Yay Dell service!!

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Effing Mookie

Another Wednesday, another Mookie gone bad. As usual I played good, solid poker, even made a large laydown in the earlygoing against Iakaris of middle two pairs against what just felt like a bigger hand from the man formerly known as a blogger. But I fought back, pushing aggressively in several hands against pokerenthusiast to get my stack back, and then at some point about 25, 30 minutes in to the tournament, I raised the pot from utg with ATs. It's a good raise, I think basically a required raise at any real 6max nlh table, and it got just one caller from probably the small blind, from a person who I just met for the first time last night but have wanted to meet for some time.

The flop comes AA4 rainbow. My opponent checked the action to me into I think a 400-chip pot. I'm sitting on trip Aces and a ten kicker against a call of my utg preflop raise in the blinds. I bet out around 2/3 the size of the pot, actually hoping for a call (but not a raise). Villain called.

The turn card is an offsuit Jack, making the board now AA4J with no flush possibility. Even though this would now mean my opponent had a boat if they held AJ, my AT was already behind to AJ so I could not worry about that. In fact, the Jack on the turn actually made me happy, in that it made it that much less likely that my opponent held AJ herself, and that was the card I think that tipped me over the edge. Just that little extra likelihood that my opponent could not be on AJ is what did it and made me think I was probably best. No reraise preflop and no raise on the flop, so I simply didn't see this as AK or even AQ, as either of those hands should probably raise on one of those two streets given this board. AJ was my biggest concern, and when the Jack hit the turn, I took that as my green light to go forward with the hand because I was probably best.

So when this Jack hit the turn, Villain bet out for around the size of the now fairly large pot. I was pleased, given my analysis above, assuming that I was up against A9s or A8s, but I figured I wanted to get the rest of her chips with my AT that I felt I had good reason to believe was best. Thus, rather than insta-call, therefore making it obvious that I had a strong Ace in my hand, I spent a good deal of time thinking over the decision that I knew already I would be calling down, and then I eventually smooth called after much thought. I was trying my best to give off either the Ax vibe, or maybe at least the KK or QQ vibe, in the hopes that Villain would pay me off the rest of her chips with what I figured had to be A9 or A8, probably sooted since she called my preflop raise with this hand.

So the river comes down an offsuit 6, which I am very happy with. Villain empties out the rest of her stack, and acting on my read of a weak Ace, I insta-call allin and we flip up our cards on the AA4J6 board:

Me: AT
Villain: A6

So frucking gross. But as gross as it is, it's equally typical for me of my Mookie performances of late. I make a read, I nail it and then I get flocked at the river. So Mookie-ish. To be fair, Villain was very gracious and cool in victory so I can't complain about that, but it's more the nature of the beat itself that gets to me, and the regularity with which this shiat seems to happen in the Mookie in particular. I'll never win that shiat. Not in a year, not in a hundred years.

FWIW here's my quick primer on how this hand "should" have been played, and keep in mind that I've won a good deal of money in 6max nlh tournaments and I've played a ton of it both in tournament and in cash game formats. Also keep in mind that at least half of you reading this drivel from me think I'm an abject donkey and play like one regularly, so take everything here with a giant grain of salt if that's your thing. In general, though, in generally more aggressive shorthanded games, I tend to loosen up my open-raising requirements just a bit to include most Aces from most positions. I'm pretty sure I've written about this before, but at a 6max table I think basically any Ace is openable from any position, although I might be tempted to lay down a shitty Ace from utg, in particular if I have recently won and/or stolen a lot of pots. In any case I think as I mentioned above my open-raise with ATs from utg is I think an absolutely standard move in 6max nlh, and while you might very well lay this hand down from utg at a full ring, I don't see how you can possibly drop it as first to act at a table with only 6 players.

So my open-raising standards are somewhat loosened at shorthanded nlh as compared to full ring nlh. But I have found it far and away the most profitable approach not to adjust much my preflop raise-calling standards. So I may raise when no one else is in the pot yet with a hand like A5 or A6 from middle position -- something I am not apt to do at all at a ring table, where that would be typically an automatic fold of a hand -- but if someone else has already raised preflop, I would never recommend calling from late position with a shitty Ace like A6. When you switch from open-raising to calling someone else's raise, I barely change those preflop raise-calling requirements at all at shorthanded holdem as compared to a full table. Just like at a full ring, in 6max nlh I won't call most preflop raises with A6. I won't even call most preflop raises with A9 or AT. The possibility of mucho chipspewage is just too great with these hands against another person who's already raised it up preflop and therefore might likely have me dominated with a hand like A6. So I do not believe that was the right play to call the preflop utg raise from the small blind with A6.

Along these same lines, I think it might be acceptable (barely) to make a play like calling a preflop raise with A6 from the blinds in shorthanded nlh, but only for a player who is willing to lay the hand down to a showing of strength from the original preflop raiser if if an Ace or Aces do fall on the board. This was Villain's second big mistake with this hand. You can't call preflop raises with A6o -- whether in or out of position, IMO -- if you're the type of guy who isn't going to be able to lay it down when the flop comes AK9 and the preflop raiser is giving you a lot of action on the flop. The only way you get away with making a preflop raise-call like this with A6o is if you know you can and will lay it down without allowing yourself to get stacked with your top pair shitey kicker. Of course the fact that two Aces hit the flop in this particular hand was probably that much more of a reason for Villain to believe that her single Ace and shitey kicker was good, but once I had bet out on that flop at that point I would say it's a pretty safe bet that I have an Ace and therefore it is almost surely going to be a better hand than her A6. So in this case, I was knocked out of the Mookie this week by someone whom I believe should definitely have laid their A6o hand down preflop in bad position, and then who followed that up by not being able to lay down this same TTFK (top trips fideous kicker) to my bet-out on the flop as well. Grrrrrrr.

OK that's all for today. Congrats to leftylu for winning I believe his 853rd consecutive Mookie title last night. Glad he's won so many of these things and I ain't won squizznat, especially since I think I recall leftylu donkeycalling against me and sucking out probably about 15 times over the past few weeks in the Mookie. I really hope you all have the chance to win a Mookie but me. One of these days there will be a major holiday or something on a Wednesday, and I'll be the only one in the Mookie and I will rip that shit up on my way to victory. Until then, happy donking!

Phillies Playoff Chances Meter: Still 2%. I repeat: Do not believe the hype!!

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

PC Attack and Maniac Hand Wrapup

So I get home Tuesday night after a long day fighting with other dick lawyers at work, and after a delicious home-cooked dinner I sit down to see what's up with online poker for the evening and hopefully to log in to the latest WPBT even that I forgot all about until the evening (as an aside, man did I luck out with Hammer Wife -- although she does not cook as much as she would like due to other distractions running screaming around the apartment all day, dam she is one fiiiiiine cook when she takes the time to prepare meals at home). So I open up my laptop screen and see an unusual message on an otherwise black screen: "Error. Hard Drive Failure Samsung HM0601-(S1)" or something like that. Followed by a warning that I am about to lose my data and that my computer's "SmartFailure" feature is warning me before the hard drive crash occurs. Oh shit.

Fast forward literally 120 minutes later, and I'm just hanging up with Dell support, with an agreement that they will send me a new hard drive right away and that a technician will come out to reinstall everything and get my laptop in good working order. So fortunately, allegedly my pc will be ok. Eventually. But unfortunately, I won't have a computer for the next two weeks or so it seems. That's not good given my daily nighttime hobby. We still have the "old" pc, the one that I always used up until the new one arrived just a few months ago, but since that time the old bugger has unofficially become Hammer Wife's domain, and I'm sensing that it's gonna be next to impossible for me to win back any online poker time at anything resembling a good hour in the evenings for a little while.

So I'm sure I'll still make have my chances to play, but for a few weeks those chances may be a little few and far between. For example, I would really like to play the Mookie tonight as usual on Wednesday at 10pm ET on full tilt (password as always is "vegas1"). Other than while Lost was on in originals on Wednesday nights, I don't think I've missed a single Mookie tournament in a year and a half. I love that thing. It's fun seeing how I'm going to get donked out tonight, yknow? With the way the full tilt server has been lately, and given the play you fonkeys usually come up with during our regular weekly get-togethers, I'm ready to expect anything. Most weeks lately in the Mookie, I have the chiplead at some point in the event, most commonly when down to around 15-20 players left, so I'm hoping to continue that trend tonight, and maybe finally make my run all the way to victory lane. But all of that rests squarely on Hammer Wife's shoulders, as it will require her to very generously give up her own computer time in favor of my hobby that she isn't so into. So we'll have to see, who knows. I'll keep everyone apprised of the status of the computer issue, but for now hopefully it won't change my playing too much and won't change my blogging at all. I still love this game and love to write about it every day, so there ya go.

So back to the hand I've been profiling this week. Thanks again to everyone for all the comments. Speaking of which, I have tried to be clear about this in the last few posts but just to make it official, for the record, this is not the way I recommend to anyone that you play AQ. I don't even play AQ in this way, and this is literally probably the only time I have ever limped utg with it in my entire life (literally). There is just so little use to ever limping utg with a hand like AQ, especially at a shorthanded table, that I don't recall ever doing it before and I probably never will again. This is not one of those posts where I'm trying to show you guys a clever way to play two high cards from early position. Do not attempt this yourself at home. You will get stacked. It's -EV, bad poker.

But I did it for a reason. This is the way I like to play my poker, and it's worked out pretty well for me in my cash and tournament games. I think I play different from most people, in that I never go into a tournament or even a given hand with any kind of a plan. I don't worry about a thing like position as much as some other good players do because sometimes I like to bet out on flops from up front instead of always from the back, and sometimes I like to be the guy raising behind the early position lead bettor on the flop. I make up my mind as I go along, and if I have a particular read or a particular play that seems like it will work against someone, I'm likely to try it in a spot that I think makes sense for me.

Similarly, I am all about targeting the weakest player at the table. It's a bit of a poker cliche at this point, but I've literally sat at poker tables -- most often in casinos but even in homegames on occasion -- where there were one or two horrible players at a full ring, and the rest of us were basically just staying out of each other's way and all trying to isolate and then dominate the donkeys. On this I think I am actually quite similar to a lot of the good players I know, in particular the good cash players. Give me a seat at a shorthanded table with myself, three strong players who are all solid historical winners, and two utter fish who are solid long term losers at the game, and an hour later I will have a stack and a half from just the two weaklings. That's how I play. I remember playing at the WSOP Circuit event at Caesars in Atlantic City this past spring, and amongst an hour or two of card death to start things off, the only two pots I won were nice-sized ones where the obvious calling station donk at the other end either limped or minraised, and then one of the tricky guys in middle position put in a big raise (or reraise), clearly attempting to isolate. In both situations, I reraised big -- once with pocket 7s and once with AQo -- and got everyone to fold. I was actually hoping in each case that the donkey would call and the trickster would fold, but I'll take it. It was very clear to me that the tricky guy was trying to isolate on the weakdonk with what was probably a less than premium hand, and that was my same strategy myself in making both of these moves. My point is, I absolutely do always figure out at every poker table I ever sit at where the money is likely to come from, and to the extent that I know the player's game, what is the best way to obtain it.

So with all that in mind, let's conclude the hand. To review, there was a tremendous drunkdonk at the table who had just sat down and had gotten his entire $300+ stack allin at some point in the hand in 4 of the 5 hands he had played at the table. In my mind there was no way he had been strong in all of those hands, and to me he just seemed like a tilting, drunk mofo who was about to spew off his chips like a giant supernova. I always see guys like this and I can't stand it when I don't get the cards to take those chips before someone else does when the donk busts out in a tremendous bluff of glory. I wanted that to be me, so when I found AQo utg at a 2-4 6max nlh table, I limped utg in the hopes that the donk in the small blind would see a flop with me and he would give me an opportunity to take his chips. The button then raised the $4 bet to $22, and my target donk smooth called the bet. Since I felt the button was probably making a position play and certainly could not have known I had a strong showdown hand given my utg limp, and since I wanted real bad to get heads-up with just the donk, I then reraised it up to $86 to play. My plan worked as the button folded and then the drunkdonk called, which I basically knew he would given how he had played his five hands so far.

At this point the flop comes down T62 rainbow, about as raggy of a flop as possible, and the target aggrodonkey immediately moved allin for his last $237 into the $195 pot:

on Tuesday I asked whether you call or fold here.

Now again, there is no doubt that under different, more normal circumstances it is an absolute, obvious must-fold situation with AQ unimproved on the flop and facing a sizeable allin bet. Hopefully that goes without saying for all of you reading this out there. But here, let's think about what has happened so far. I picked a strong showdown hand to play against a guy who I knew was moving in lots of chips -- all of chips in every hand but one since he sat down to play, in fact -- with basically anything / nothing, and yet no one had required him to show a single hand yet. As far as I was concerned, he would have and did call the preflop raise and then my reraise with literally Any Two Cards (ATC). I mean, to be fair he probably wasn't calling $86 preflop with 53o. But literally my range for him at this point given what I'd watched for the first few minutes was any hand in the top 90% or so of possible hands he could hold. 65o, he could definitely be in there with that. 98o, he's in there. 53o maybe not, but 98o or J8o I felt sure of it.

And, as some of the commenters pointed out, I absolutely knew from his previous actions that he was pushing allin blind on the flop, regardless of what it was. As much as I knew that my AQ was the best hand preflop. So, what it basically came down to here was whether or not my opponent happened to be holding either a Ten, a 6 or a 2 in his hand. If yes, then he was ahead now and I had 6 outs for a total of nearly 30% equity in the pot (you pokerstove donks could probably confirm this if you want, but for now my estimate should do fine). If he did not hold a T, 6 or 2 in his hand, then I was ahead, and he would have those same 6 outs to draw against me, giving me roughly 70% equity in the pot. Thrown in there are also some possibilities of some other draws he could have to beat me -- inside straights, back-door stuff, etc., where my equity was probably closer to 60% than 70%. But in the end, here was the super-quick estimation math I did in my head:

The odds that an opponent with just one hole card holds one of three random value cards in his hand are roughly 3 in 13. That is to say, a 2, 6 or a Ten represent three of the 13 possible card values he could hold for either card in his hand, and thus I think the odds that he has one of those cards are roughly 3 in 13 or 23% if he had just one card in his hand. Since he has two holecards and not just the one, the odds of him having at least one 2, 6 or Ten out of two cards chosen at random (again I understand these choices are not fully random, they would have to be adjusted for the AQ in my own hand, etc. but this is still a useful approximation) would climb to somewhere slightly less than 50%. Now, I felt that it was literally impossible that he had a pair or AK, so with no primary straight or flush draws possible on this ragboard, I estimated very quickly that I probably had somewhere between 50 and 60% overall equity in this pot against his likely very wide hand range. Plus, it could be that he has a lower Ace or a hand like KQ or QJ since he called my preflop raise and now moved so strongly at the flop. But this allin overbet did not smell like a monster hand to me, that's for sure, and in the end I simply could not find it within me to lay this hand down. With $195 already in the pot, and it costing me another $237 to win a $432 pot, there was just no way I was going to lay it down when I honestly felt I had more than 50% equity in this pot, and that he was going to monkeypush allin on that flop no matter what two cards came down.

So I called. I'll skip a few lines if you want to guess what he had, and then scroll down for the screenshot:

Egads! What a donkey! So I'm actually dodging 10 outs (ignoring my redraws) twice, giving me in fact the 50-60% equity I had been envisioning in this pot. The situation was actually worse than I expected since he had the four outs to the inside straight, but still the equity was right where I figured it to be and I think I made the right call at that point in the hand as a result. And if you're interested in how the hand ended up, you can check that out here:

Woohoooo! It really is hard to believe some of the stuff you run into on a regular basis once you get up out of the microlimits, especially at the shorthanded tables, where making moves seems to become more a part of the game. And everyone out there should be on notice, if you somehow werent' already -- if I think you have nothing and I think that the pot odds are there, I'm not going to be shy, and it is not winning cash poker to be shy when you believe you have pot odds to stay in pots. Yes this is the literal first time I have ever called a large bet in a cash game with AQ unimproved on the flop, and it will probably be the last for a long, long time, but just take it from me, that's how big of a pushmonkey donk this guy had been acting like, and for once I got fucking lucky playing AQo in a -EV way and living to tell the tale about it.

Now go register for the Mookie already, willya? See you tonight at 10pm ET, I hope.

Phillies Playoff Chances Meter: 2%. What did I tell you about believing the hype?

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

MATH Recap, and Playing a Maniac Part II

Twenty-three runners came out and played in Mondays at the Hoy on Monday night at 10pm ET on full tilt, representing close to our usual slate of donkeys in what would prove to be a much donkier tournament even than usual with lots of highly risky, highly aggro and highly bullshit play across the board. As usual I started off slow, but amazingly picked up AA utg in the earlygoing. Having just taken down two consecutive pots on blind steals with air, I opted to limp utg with the Aces, a move that I have used to significant gain over time despite it seeming to me to be fairly obvious of a monster hand whenever anyone limp-raises from utg. Two players limped after me as well from middle position -- not good for me, but not a huge problem because I know I have to lay down the Aces to any real pressure once the flop is out unless I nail it. Such is the price of trying to limp with Aces once in a while, and if you're not someone who can lay 'em down when you think you're beat, then you can't take the chance of ever limping with them in the first place. Just raise instead. As far as I'm concerned, you can never, ever go wrong by raising with pocket Aces preflop in no-limit holdem.

Anyways, so I limped utg, two others limped from middle position, and then skidoo raised about 5x from near the button. Bingo! This is exactly why you limp Aces utg, especially in a blonkament, and at this point I am not a fan of smooth calling, which is a move I like quite a bit with Aces from other positions when I happen to get reraised preflop. But having limped utg, invariably the other player already does not put me on a hand, so I can typically re-reraise with impunity and still expect to get called. Especially me, with the image I have among the blonkeys. So I reraised skidoo's bet by a good 4 or 5x, and he calls to my delight. The flop came Queen high and I checked since the pot was already a bit larger than ski's already short stack, and I figured he would have to make a move at it with anything. Other than QQ there is just nothing else I am reasonably behind here, and I can't put the guy on QQ at this point in the hand. So I checked the flop, and to my slight surprise Ski checked behind.

The turn brought a Jack, which I didn't love because I was now behind QJ as well as QQ or JJ, but in the end I simply still could not put ski on one of those three hands. The QJ most likely doesn't even call my re-reraise or even reraise preflop, so really what I was worried about was QQ or JJ, both hands that are consistent with ski's preflop play. Nonetheless, I found those to be unlikely holdings considering the odds, so I found the patience to check it again on the turn. Of course I'm asking for trouble to all you weak tight fonkeys, but the playas out there will know exactly what I was doing. And doing well, might I add. This time after seeing me check the flop and the turn, ski was physically compelled to push allin. I instacalled as my plan had worked, and ski flips up...KJo. So we're looking at second pair Jacks with a King kicker. Obviously not worth raising the limpers with preflop, and surely a bad play to call my big re-reraise, but there ya go.

King on the river, and I'm never able to recover. IGH a short while later in 17th place of 23 runners. So it goes in the blonkaments. If you're not pushing in all your chips in big, silly overbets on every single street, then you risk being outdrawn. Even when you have the presence of mind and the patience to wait until after the turn card is out to make the large bets, the full tilt rng is simply not going to be your friend as often as it should. And that's what makes winning these blonkaments so dam difficult for just about anybody. The better you are at getting the money in ahead, sometimes it seems the harder it is for you to survive these things because there's basically always going to be someone there paying to draw at razor-thin odds. It really is unreal how bad some of the plays I saw in the first hour on Monday night were, but I guess that's what makes the MATH so much fun for so many people, and certainly it's what makes it such a profitable game for me and a few others over the year+ I've been running it now. But dam if that didn't piss my ass off on Monday night. I've always said it, but there's nothing worse than pwning some guy's ass on a particular hand and then still getting sucked out on in the end. Because when I'm even waiting until after the turn card to execute on my mindfux against my opponents, it's working and then I'm still losing to the 5-outer on the river, there's just not much you can do about that. 89% with one card to come to take another big chip lead early in the MATH. Can you tell I'm still annoyed? Grrrr.

As usual, the MATH tournament actually continued even after my untimely and certainly unwarranted demise, and like every week there was some strong play as the final table set in and we worked our way down to the top 3 finishers who would receive the cash on the night. Even though there were as many suckouts and overall worse donkeycallery than I can recall at any recent MATH tournament, in the end the guys who made the cash were very deserving and played hard all the way to get there. I did see pocket Aces cracked a good five times myself during the tournament, my hand above only being one of those times, so kudos to our three cashers who managed to survive the bullshit and take down the prizes in this week's Hoy tournament:

In third place this week, playing in one of his first MATH tournaments in some time, was everyone's favorite presto player Fuel55. Fuel won $110 for his night's performance. In 2nd place this week, winning $165.60, was a relative newcomer to the MATH tournament, jimdniacc. Jim said at the final table that he used to write a poker blog but now has little time for that due to being a student and a college golf player. And the man who took down this week's MATH tournament, who overcame a 2-to-1 chip deficit heads-up against Jim after a marathon hu session, the man who just announced a few days ago that he would be pulling a Barry Greenstein and donating all his poker winnings over the next six weeks or so to charity, is Byron aka bdidde. Fittingly for the end of this particular tournament, Byron ended things and won $276 in the process when his KJs sucked out a sick runnerrunnerrunner flush against Jim's pocket Aces. So congratulations to all three of this week's cashers, including jimdniacc making his first appearance on the moneyboard for the year.

And here is the updated 2007 MATH moneyboard, taking into account this week's Mondays at the Hoy tournament:

1. Bayne_s $1175
2. Columbo $1168
3. Hoyazo $1162
4. RaisingCayne $1110
5. Pirate Wes $792
6. VinNay $775
7. cmitch $774
8. Iggy $745
9. NewinNov $677
10. Lucko21 $665
11. Waffles $650
12. IslandBum1 $642
13. Astin $616
14. Fuel55 $568
15. Tripjax $561
16. Byron $510
17. Julius Goat $507
18. bartonf $492
18. mtnrider81 $492
20. PokerBrian322 $490
21. Chad $485
22. scots_chris $474
23. Emptyman $461
24. Mike_Maloney $456
25. RecessRampage $434
26. Otis $429
27. Surflexus $402
27. Miami Don $402
29. jeciimd $382
29. Jordan $382
31. Blinders $379
32. lightning36 $371
33. ChapelncHill $353
34. Zeem $330
35. LJ $326
36. OMGitsPokerFool $324
37. oossuuu754 $312
38. leftylu $295
39. Wigginx $288
40. ScottMc $282
41. Fishy McDonk $277
42. Irongirl $252
42. Manik79 $252
44. Wippy1313 $248
45. swimmom95 $245
46. wwonka69 $216
47. Omega_man_99 $210
48. katiemother $209
49. Pushmonkey72 $208
50. Buddydank $197
51. Gary Cox 194
52. 23Skidoo $176
53. Santa Clauss $170
54. jimdniacc $166
55. Iakaris $162
55. Smokkee $162
57. cemfredmd $156
57. NumbBono $156
58. lester000 $147
60. Heffmike $145
61. brdweb $143
62. Mookie $137
62. DDionysus $137
64. Patchmaster $135
65. InstantTragedy $129
66. Ganton516 $114
67. Fluxer $110
68. hoops15mt $95
69. Gracie $94
69. Scurvydog $94
71. wormmsu $91
72. Shag0103 $84
73. crazdgamer $82
74. PhinCity $80
75. maf212 $78
76. Alceste $71
76. dbirider $71
78. Easycure $67
79. Rake Feeder $53

Now back to the hand I posted about yesterday. To recap, I limped utg at a 2-4 6max nlh cash table with AQo, specifically in hopes of catching the uberdrunkaggrodonkey in the small blind who had moved basically his entire stack in at various points in probably 4 of the first 5 hands he sat down to play with. The button raised it up to $22, which may target donkey in the small blind just called, and action was back to me in the following situation:

I asked what you would do here. Some of you said fold, which I think is a perfectly acceptable position to take, and one which over time in general is probably a good strategy to follow with a hand as vulnerable as AQ against a reraiser and a caller of that reraise. But here's the thing, as I think Mike Maloney points out well in his comment -- I was hoping to get the donkey into a big pot against a hand where he would underestimate my holding due to my utg limp with a strong AQ, and that's exactly what happened, so why would I fold now? Of course the button player getting involved was not exactly foreseen by me, but he could easily have been making a position play, and in any event I had underplayed my hand for a reason and at this point I simply could not find the reason to believe I was behind either hand necessarily, certainly not more than a coin flip in any event. So I was not going to fold in this spot, and I have enough faith in my postflop play that I believed I could navigate some potentially tough flop action to correctly figure out where I was. And I simply could not escape the feeling that the donkey was in here again with nothing good, but would not want to lay it down as he had not shown himself able so far in his first five hands in my table.

So once I decided to stay in this pot, I think the right move was for me to reraise. Again, my objective all along was to get heads-up with the disguised best hand against this uber aggro donkey mofo, and a nice-sized reraise here seemed like my best bet, hoping that the button was in fact just making a position play. 6max can be like that, in particular above the microlimits, and position plays like this or fairly common among the better players at the levels I play. Again, I am definitively not recommending that others play AQ in the way I played it here. This is simply a story of how I tried to target an uberdonk and aggressively take his chips before what I estimated was just a few hands before someone else did exactly that. So I found a hand with great showdown value, underplayed it, got the donkey in for enough chips to maybe be worth his while, and now I wanted to go for the kill when I sensed the opportunity:

The button paused for some time, but eventually did this, which pleased me:

I was even more pleased when my target donkey just called my preflop reraise in this spot. Trust me when I tell you, given what I'd seen him do in just five hands so far and how he played those hands, the fact that he didn't just move it all in there before the flop told me all I needed to know about his hand -- he didn't have shiat.

So the flop comes down T62 rainbow. I'm thinking my AQ is probably in decent shape here against his expected hand range, which is just about anything but the good hands, with which he surely would have re-reraised allin preflop, trust me. While I'm considering my next move, donkeyboy busts out with this badboy:

So, I've gotten exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to get into a pot with this donkey who had gotten all of his chips into the middle in four of the first five hands since he sat down to the table. I swear I can smell the alcohol on his breath even though I'm not physically near him and in fact don't even know where he is. It was probably 2am ET at this point, and the way this guy was playing I just knew he was fixing to lose his entire stack, and everything I did so far in this pot was designed to get heads-up with him and have him commit his stack like he had in the four previous hands. Well now he did it. Do you call with the AQ unimproved here?

Tomorrow, The Conclusion.

Btw don't think I've gone soft on anyone here -- I have a ton to write about the sports world and the NFL from this past weekend, but things just keep coming up in my poker game that are more pressing, blogwise. I'll get to that stuff. Suffice it to say that I had another huge night at the 2-4 6max cash tables, winning another few buyins in one of the best cash streaks of my online poker playing career, so it's all good on that front. And of course, we can't forget my new feature on the blog for this week:

Phillies Playoff Chances Meter: Still 5%. Don't believe the hype.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Excited About Poker, and Playing Against a Maniac

Well, it's another Monday, which means another week at the grind for most of us, as well as another day spent analyzing fixed NFL games, redonkulous fantasy football losses, and, of course, preparing to be donked at Mondays at the Hoy on full tilt:

See you there at 10pm ET Monday evening, under the "Private" tab under "Tournaments" on full tilt. Password as always is "hammer". We've been having some fun lately all trying to stop RaisingCayne's Reign of Terror over the Hoy, and tonight will be the latest opportunity for you all out there to stop by and take a chance at getting your name and blog mentioned right here by ousting Cayne from tonight's event before he makes it 7 final tables in 8 MATH appearances. That is a sick, sick run, so hopefully you'll be there tonight to experience it for yourself. There's four of us now all in the $1100 club for the MATH in 2007, and the next one of the top four to cash in the tournament should have a good hold on the moneyboard lead as the third quarter of the year comes to a close.

This weekend was my first productive one in some time in the world of online poker. I barely played if at all during the first part of the weekend, but on Saturday late night, after another marathon session of Wii Tennis with my brother in law, I ended up playing of all things cash games and really getting in some great poker. I played smart, tight but aggressive poker, didn't donk around for a change and really made some awesome reads. I saved up a ton of hands just from that session so over the coming weeks you may get to see some of those, including one I will post about later today. But I ended up making over 3 buyins at 2-4 over maybe a couple hours of play, and had a blast doing it. More than that, like I said I played really well, avoided any major mistakes, and barely put any money into pots that I didn't end up winning which is always a good thing. But most of all, I really feel like I got my poker playing back on the right track. It was so great, in fact, that I am actually really excited about playing again tonight, and that's the first time I can say that in some time. For whatever reason my Saturday late night session left me feeling like my game is sharp, refined and ready to take on all comers, and I even followed this up with this minor win on Sunday, which if nothing else is good for symbolic reasons in that this is what I was winning a couple of months back when I was running so well:

Booom. Back to five $75 tokens in the account, just waiting to be donked with. I keep meaning to play those $75 buyin mtt satellites to the Monday 1k guaranteed, but basically that means I have to be starting an mtt at 11:30pm ET on a Sunday night which is not normally what I'm looking to do with my weekday evenings. Maybe I'll start trolling for sng satellites at the Tier II token buyin to this tournament, which is something I haven't thought of before. But otherwise, I generally like to use these badboys on mtt satellites rather than the 24k or 18k or whatever, because those guaranteed tournaments seem to be at off-times for me as a rule. That 24k is at I think 8pm ET, which is generally before I tend to get online these days, and the 18k that I know Smokkee and Iak used to love so much goes off at mignight ET, which is again a bit outside of my wheelhouse, time-wise. Anyways, all this is a roundabout way of saying that I might, just might, be coming out of my recent funk thanks to a great session of solid play this Saturday plus a nice mtt satellite win to start off the new week on Sunday. And that's actually what gets me excited right now. Well, that, and this. I can't do the YouTube embedding thing thanks to my dorkwork, but if you want to see a thorough domination rolled into about 2 minutes of football highlights, then look no further.

Anyways, after having so much fun reviewing that 3-suited flop hand last week, today I wanted to post another hand I played recently and get some thoughts and reaction to that situation. Unlike last week's hand analysis, this week we're going to jump to the cash tables, specifically to the 6-max no-limit holdem tables with blinds of $2 and $4 that I love to play at. This week's hand is actually a specific situation where I had been playing well at this table for a while, and after recently busting a short stack and creating an empty seat, a new player sat down two seats to my right. This guy's name was "sobersucks", and it was late night, and I am convinced in this case that the name was a good indication of the actual mental state of the player behind the cute little green turtle icon in the corner of my screen.

He had played maybe 5 hands by the time this particular hand I want to discuss came up. On the very first hand when he sat down, he had bet allin on the flop in a tremendous overbet of probably ten times the current pot and took it down without resistance. Two hands later he was in again, this time with a large preflop raise of against more than ten times the current bet after three players had limped in ahead of him to try to see a flop for cheap. On the very next hand (mind you, just the 4th hand since he sat down, giving all this action), sobersucks check-raised me out of a pot I was trying to buy on the turn, and since I had nothing more than middle pair and his raise was again oversized compared to the action to that point, I had to lay it down. So, I had formulated a read on this guy already, which was basically that he was utterly full of shit -- no one could normally expect to have that many good cards and hit that many flops so hard so early on in any session -- and was probably either hammered or just bad (or both) and fully expected to lose his entire stack quickly and efficiently. And I wanted to do whatever I had to do to get in there with him, especially since he had shown such a penchant for bets and especially for over-raises both pre- and post-flop.

So that's where I was at when the following hand came up, again the very next hand in sequence after those described above, and in total the fifth hand since this crazy aggro player had sat down at the table with me. Again, remember the blinds here are 2-4, and the target is seated two seats to my right, which in this case is the small blind since I am acting UTG. I look down to find AQo utg.

How do you play this hand? AQ is normally a very strong hand at shorthanded nlh. Normal raise like always? Bigger or smaller than usual? What do you like to do in this spot, with at least one player in the blinds who is just itching to get all his chips in with what I have to assume is a wide range of hands?

For me, I opted to just limp. I figured, best case scenario, sobersucks in the small blind has a smaller Ace, and by limping here up front, that gives me the best chance of getting him to see this flop, or hopefully to raise again preflop with shit, and that my utg limp should give off an impression of weakness that I would hope to take advantage of from him later in the hand. Honestly, this was the first playable hand I'd seen since sobersucks sat down to the table, and I wanted to do whatever I could to try to get into a pot and see a flop with him, and then outplay him later or hopefully get this donk to move it all in on me with an inferior hand. I just can't stand it when a blatant donk sits down at the table and then is relieved of his chips without me getting a good piece. And to be clear, limping utg with AQ I think in general is -EV poker, but I did this particularly because I had identified a major leak at the table and wanted to do what I could to exploit it. If I raise here, the donk in the small blind will likely fold his shit hands. But if I just limp, and especially if a few other guys limp behind me, then the donk won't be able to stop himself from getting in there:

So, the action then gets around to the button, who bumps the preflop stakes up to $22 to see a flop. Donkeyboy then in the small blind smooth calls another $18, and the action is back to me:

What do you like to do here? Who's folding? Who's calling? And who's raising, and if so, how much do you raise? And why?

Phillies playoff chances meter: 5%

See you tonight for Mondays at the Hoy on full tilt!

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Rant

As I look around the world today, I see a whole lot of redonkulousness and have to spew a little bit about some of it here.

First we have OJ back in the headlines after getting together a posse of armed goons and busting in to a hotel room to allegedly steal back some sports paraphanaelia that allegedly belongs rightfully to OJ. I'll believe that when I see the proof. You know, OJ, most of us just call the police when something that is indisputably ours has been stolen from us and you know exactly where the culprits are, in an enclosed room, with the stolen contraband right there with them. I heard a funny quote from a caller on sports radio on Monday night from someone who said "The Niners are 2-0. The Packers are 2-0. The Cowboys are 2-0. And OJ is back in jail. It's like the mid 1990s all over again!" Well said, Jerome from Manhattan.

But that's even not the best part of this story as far as I'm concerned. The part that I love the most is OJ's quote after being arrested and held behind bars without bail while the police sort things out. "I'm O.J. Simpson," the disgraced grid great told The Los Angeles Times yesterday. "How am I going to think that I'm going to rob somebody and get away with it?"

Hmmmmmmm....Now why would OJ ever think he could get away with something like this?

You have gotta love people sometimes. Especially completely out-of-body-no-concept-of-reality loopy psychopaths like OJ Simpson.

And please, if OJ asks any of you readers out there for my address after reading this, just tell them I live in Vegas and respond to the name "poker champ".

OK now let's talk for a minute about another falling former sports star: Isaiah Thomas. Thomas is currently embroiled in a sexual harrassment suit by a former employee of the New York Knicks who claims that Thomas made numerous unwanted sexual advances and comments directed at her, in addition to using a number of racial and sexual epithets and slurs in conversations to her and about her. All this while Thomas has consistently run one of the great sports franchises in America into the ground, making move after move as the GM that failed to pan out, and now recently after taking over as coach and leading the team to yet another dismal, shitty season. The part of this story that I love is this quote from a Newsday article from late Monday / early Tuesday of this week:

"While Thomas stated in the deposition, which took place Dec. 8, 2006, that he didn't direct obscenities at Browne Sanders, he said it would be less offensive for a black man rather than a white man to use such language toward a black woman."

I figure Duggles if nothing else will have a field day with this comment. It refers to the fact that Thomas's accuser has testified that Thomas called her "bitch" and in fact began all his sentences to her with the word. As in "Bitch, I don't care about the fucking fans" and "Bitch I don't care about them white people", etc. But that's ok, according to Thomas, because he's black, and it's acceptable for a black man to repeatedly refer to a black woman as bitch. But if a white man referred to a black woman as bitch repeatedly, Thomas stated in his deposition, "that would clearly violate his own code of conduct."

Hmmmm. I guess after reading that I have just one thing to say to Isaiah Thomas, and I summon all my blackness when I say this: Bitch, you better get your team into the playoffs this year, or bitch you gonna be without a job. Bitch.

While I'm on the topic of sports shittiness, my Philadelphia Eagles shat the bed in a huge way this week on Monday Night Football on ESPN. It is always bad when your team goes on national tv and stinks up the joint like that. One thing is abundantly clear to me now, and this is probably all I'll say about the topic for now, but Donovan McNabb is just not healthy. Period. He had about eight of those we-all-know-you're-injured throws against the hated Redskins, 4 or 5 of them about 5 feet above his intended target, and another 3 or 4 that went straight into the ground nowhere near where any receivers were standing. He seemed to be favoring his front leg from what I saw of the game even when he threw normally and the few times he scrambled a bit, and he blatantly missed wide open receivers on 10- and 15-yard throws including some in the end zone or right near it. McNabb, always one of my favorite players in the NFL, has got to go and go now. That's all there is to it. Like I said before, I don't want him cut or anything necessarily, but we need to get another starter in there right away instead of a half-able DMac. I think we all learned last season how bad we can be with a semi-injured McNabb (1-4 in his last five games last season, plus now 0-2 this year after Miggy's return from leg surgery), and how great we can be as soon as you get a serviceable replacement in there. Now I don't know if this Kevin Kolb dork is the answer in Philadelphia, but while McNabb stays in there in his clearly not healthy state, it's all bad for Philadelphia Eagles fans. The Redskins are still a shit team and they basically played drab football last Monday, don't get me wrong, but this year is starting off All Wrong for the Eagles. God I hate when my NFL team sucks early in the season.

Speaking of the NFL, let's get to this week's picks as I look to the right the ship after an 0-2 debacle last week courtesy of the Bengals' defense and McNabb's injured body parts. This week there is honestly one game that is the single biggest setup line I've ever seen in my entire life. In fact, this line is so goddam stoopid that I had to look it up on like three different sites to see if it is even correct, because if anything it looks to me like the number is right, but the wrong team is favored by that amount. This weekend, the 2-0 Lions are coming in to 0-2 Philadelphia, yes they of the still injured quarterback and the zero offense to speak of. And the zero defense while they're at it. So the undefeated Lions are coming to the Linc to play the winless Eagles, where the Eagles just got embarrassed this past Monday night against the horrid Redskins, and what's the line on the game? Lions favored by how much? 5? 3? Pick'em even? Well, guess what. Somehow the 2-0 Lions are 6.5 point underdogs to the Eagles, totally out of the blue. This is truly the biggest setup line I have ever seen in my entire life. The Lions will almost surely win this game outright, as the matchup of their potent offense against the Eagles embarrassment of a defense should take them well into the 25+ point range, and here they are not only favored to lose to an 0-2 team coming off a shortened week, but they are getting 6.5 points to boot. So here's my thought: clearly, the Eagles are going to cover that 6.5 point spread. Bet the Eagles. I don't know why, I think we are terrible right now with Injuryboy McNabb in there, but one way or the other I say you have to take the Eagles to cover the 6.5 in the dumbestassest line I can ever remember seeing in an NFL game.

For my other pick this week, I like the New York Jets to smush the Miami Dolphins in New Jersey this weekend, so I'm taking them minus the 3 point spread in that one. The Jets have a great coach, a great quarterback coming back in Chad Pennington, and still one of the league's top receivers in Lavernaeus Coles. I'm sure I spelled that name wrong, but whose fault is that, really? Mine? I think not. What kind of name is La-vern-e-us anyways, for a man? Not a good one let me tell you. But I think the Jets bounce back and bounce back nicely this week after two tough losses to top AFC teams in Baltimore and New England. 3 points should be no problem to cover this week.

So to recap, my NFL picks this week are:

1. Philadelphia +6.5 at home over the Lions. Dumbest setup line of the year, it must be a setup.

2. NY Jets -3 over the Dolphins. This one should be a solid Jets win I'm thinking.

One other side item to note: this has been the best season of Major League Baseball in as long as I can remember I think. I can't recall a year with such a good race coming down to the wire in the NL West, NL Central, and the NL and AL East divisions, including two huge potential collapses by the Mets and the Red Sox to now be threatened to lose their divisional leads that both seemed utterly insurmountable for mostly this entire season, including as recently as just a couple weeks ago in each case. In particular, my beloved Phillies have made quite a run at the Mets, as of late Thursday night now just 1.5 games back with I think 9 games to play. The sad thing about all this is -- and you can only really understand what I'm saying here if you've been a lifelong Philadelphia sports fan like I have -- but the real Philly fans already know with 100% certainty how this year's Phillies season ends up shaking out. We'll miss the playoffs, falling just short after making this big run and faking everybody into buying in to the team, into jumping on the bandwagon and really thinking we could sneak into the playoffs as a result. Same as last year, and the same as the year before that. So don't believe the hype about the Phillies making this incredible late playoff push. No way, no how no chance do the Phillies make the playoffs this year. Ask anyone who spent a long portion of their life in Philly, and they'll tell ya. Am I right Al or what?

That's all for today's rant. I busted in 11th place from Thursday night's Riverchasers tournament on full tilt after a great run that ended with me pushing allin on the big blind on a preflop reraise with 44 and getting called by Astin's AK. Hard to complain about that I think, especially since Astin's raise came from the button and double especially since we were 6-handed when it happened, what can you do. On Friday night is the latest Donkament, hosted by Kat, which is the $1 rebuy donxtravanganza at 9pm ET on full tilt (password is "donkarama"), and which as usual I will try to play but I often have issues with the timing on a Friday evening. Otherwise I should be on over the weekend around my usual times, so feel free to stop by and say hello, either on the girly chat or in the poker room chat itself on full tilt. For some reason ftp remains my main online poker stomping ground despite the hideous results I have experienced exclusively there over the past two weeks. Guess that means I choose masochism instead of nihlism, who knows.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Another Mookie Flushed Away, and the All-Suited Flop Concluded

Wow. A crazy thing happened to me on Wednesday night about 30, 35 minutes into the Mookie on full tilt. So I'm sitting on my bed with the laptop on a pillow on my lap (those of you with laptops will know why I choose to have a pillow between the bottom of the laptop and my merely 98.6 degree skin of my legs), and as usual I haven't hand a single playable hand yet, through probably 30 hands. Annoying. But standard. I mean I haven't even sniffed a hand. I might have had QJs one time, and I think 44 at one point in the first couple rounds. But that's as good as it got.

So I'm sitting there, I'm playing the Mookie, and my starting stack of 3000 chips is probably somewhere around 2800 or 2900 or so. I had been up a couple hundy, down a couple hundy, but nothing major in either direction as I recall. Eventually I limp from the cutoff with 96 of diamonds. The flop comes...all three diamonds. Now, you would think this would excite me. But I know better. I say to Hammer Wife "Wow. I flopped a flush. And this is where Hoyazo busts out early from the Mookie." Now, when you flop the flush, in all but the most unusual and runnerrunnery of situations, the only way you can lose is to a guy hitting a higher four-flush on you on the turn or river, so of course that means my big objective here is to get one of the two other players in this pot to either lay it down or get it allin when I am a 2-to-1 favorite. So imagine my happiness when someone in early position bets out, and then another player raises, all ahead of me. Now I basically "know" that one of these guys has some kind of pair or two pair or set hand, and the other guy must have the Ace or King of diamonds along with some other kind of hand or draw. I pause the requisite few seconds to fake-think, and then I push allin. Firsty folds immediately, and riggstad in middle position instacalls. I'm bracing to dodge a fourth diamond on the turn or river, and with just 7 left in the deck I am going to be around 70% to win the pot, which I've already known from the minute the flush flopped for me I was not going to win.

At least full tilt made it easy on me. Riggstad flips up his cards, and he, of course, has also flopped the flush. The King-high variety. IGH among the first handful of players out. Nice. And that's when the strange thing happened.

At first it was just something I felt lightly touch my hair on top of my head. My first thought was a fly or something must've landed on my head and be walking around on my head or something. Not usual but nothing so unbelievably crazy or anything. But then I felt it again, on the other side of my head. And suddenly right in front of my eyes, a streamer or something flew past. And that's when I heard the trumpets. It was a festive beat, kinda like what they used to run at the end of Let's Make a Deal. And all of a sudden, there is confetti all over the fuckin place. My bedroom is completely beseiged with party gimmicks and party sounds. Just as I start to wonder what the hike this is all for, Wink Martindale comes through my bedroom door and announces that I have just lost for the 2 millionth no-limit holdem hand with a made flush on full tilt poker! Yay for me! Who knew, I thought, who knew. What an exciting time for me.

I've written about it here before, but I cannot win with a fucking flush to save my life, and it's not for lack of aggression, due to slow-playing or for not respecting the presence of a pair on the board. My Poker Tracker stats show it all, where I have still lost over $1500 in total with made two-card flushes, and that's just in cash games. Again, this is situations where I've made a flush with both of my hole cards, and only 1 out of 14 losses with made flushes was to a full house. That means I've lost thirteen effing times just in cash games and just in the past 4 or 5 months or so that I've been running Poker Tracker, where I made a flush using both of my hole cards, but ran into a higher flush from my opponent. I submit to you all that nobody out there can come up with a more recockulously unlucky statistic than that about their own play. And I'm not even touching how many times I bust out of tournaments with these same two-card flush hands, including this week's Mookie. Bahh. Full tilt has been absolutely lambasting me lately. What else is new. Congrats to leftylu for yet another Mookie victory, blahblahblah. Eat it.

Oh yeah, I also got talked into playing the Dookie this week, pot-limit holdem, but then some no-name called my allin on the flop with absolutely nothing but an inside straight. It filled on the river.

Did I say "Eat it" yet? Cripes.

So on to the conclusion of this week's hand analysis. To recap one last time, I checked out of the big blind to see a 5-handed flop with K9 of hearts. The flop came KT6, all spades. I checked and then called a small bet on the flop, thinking my top pair is likely good but not wanting to commit much with a 3-suited flop out there and still two cards to come. Then when an offsuit 7 came on the turn, I bet out nearly the size of the pot, and just one opponent, the original flop bettor, called my nearly pot-sized bet to see a river card. The river came another rag, the 3 of hearts, and I asked what do you do here (my opponent has 460 chips remaining in his stack):

The comments to yesterday's post interestingly tended more towards checking than betting here, and in fact the majority of the commenters appear to think I am likely behind here and certainly should not bet. A few of the comments took the opposite tack, which is the side I came down on, and I will explain why, although again some of the comments I think pretty much hit my analysis head-on.

Of course, there is always the possibility that I am up against a flopped flush. That possibility is always going to be there, and I'm never going to be able to make that possibility go to zero. It's there, it's possible. But in terms of probability, I simply was not worried at this point about my opponent having either a flopped flush or a stronger King than mine. Let's review the action and put ourselves in this guy's head as best as we can:

On the 3-suited flop, he bet out small from late relative position after a few guys has already checked the action to him. This could mean a lot of things, but to me seems most consistent with either some decent pair on the board, or more likely a flush draw. Maybe a little bit of both. The made flush might also bet out small here, if he's a real man, but that's still a fairly remote possibility odds-wise (forgetting my Mookie story from last night, of course). Then on the turn when a raggy card fell, I bet out and bet out solidly. I bet nearly the size of the pot for a very good reason -- only a bet that size will tell me what I need to know about my opponent's hand at this point in the action. If I bet out a third of the pot here, he may again call with second pair top kicker, top pair shit kicker, or any number of flush draws. But by betting nearly the full pot on the turn, as soon as my opponent called, leaving himself just 460 chips into a now 1200-chip pot, I felt I had formulated a very reliable read on the guy. If he's got the made flush here, as at least one of the commenters mentioned, there is aboslutely no point to him not pushing allin here. Of course I'm calling based purely on pot odds, and he can only lose me on the river, not get more chips from me than the allin he could have clearly gotten on the turn. So no way I put him on the made flush here.

Similarly, I feel his just calling (not raising or folding) on the flop made it highly unlikely that he held some kind of a King in his hand. While I suppose a very specific (and thus very unlikely) holding very close to my hand might have just smooth called there with the 3-flush on the board -- something like K8 or K7 perhaps -- put yourself again in his position for a minute. There's 3 spades on the board, and I check-called his smallish bet on the flop. He has got to put me on a flush draw here. Now, with just 460 chips left in his stack after calling my 390-chips turn bet, why on earth would he just smooth call with a hand like, say, KQ for top pair better kicker than me? What if he had a set, or two pairs or something like that? He's going to smooth call me with the 3-card flush draw sitting out there, while leaving himself an almost unthinkable 460 chips left in his stack? He's going to make it that easy for me to draw out on him, even when he has just that few chips left to put into the pot that is now nearly 4 times as big as his paltry pile of chips over there? When I thought quickly about it that way, I just did not think at all that this guy had top pair or better, which I think would either fold (if he's a Man) or raise (if he's a donk), or the flush which I'm sure he would have raised there on the turn. Thus, I felt very strongly that my K9 was ahead, and in fact my biggest concern was maybe him misplaying a hand like KT or KJ by failing to raise me allin on the turn. And that just seemed very unlikely to me overall.

All of this analysis led me to just one obvious option, as inuited by Bayne in his comment -- this was a clear candidate for the reverse hoy:

Anybody want to guess how he responded to this river bet by me? I'll give you some space to formulate your guesses, and then you can scroll down for the final screenshot and see what happened:

Foldy foldy! Can you believe it? And believe me, for his last 460 chips he was not folding any top pair hand there, not after calling off most of his stack on the turn with that hand. Nope, this was a good old fashioned flush-chasin' donkey, who had nothing else in his hand but probably the Ace♠ and some other junk. So I really enjoyed reading all of the analysis on this hand, and hopefully most of us can at least learn something from the way that the others who commented would have played this hand. Feel free to post your thoughts on the way I played the hand, but FWIW I like the way that I played it, and despite careful reading and consideration of all of the commentary, I would play this hand the exact same way again. I think the all-suited flop ends up being a specific situation that is somewhat unique, but calls for a somewhat unique strategy for taking on a multiway pot when I also manage to flop a hand that I assume to be best right now.

See you tonight at 9pm ET for Riverchasers on full tilt. Password is "riverchasers". Show up tonight if for no other reason than to be at my starting table and you can flop the nuts against my second-nuts in the earlygoing. There's just nothing like that feeling of knowing that there are donkeys literally seated all around you like you will feel tonight if I am near you at the virtual tables. 9pm tonight means probably no gym for me, but I will I'm sure hit up the Wii Tennis for a bit tonight as well as I continue to work my rating up over 1800. That's right you Wii Heads, you read that right. 1800 and change, and counting. I'll dominate you anytime in Wii Tennis or Bowling, whoever you are.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Mookie, Running Bad, and More Hand Analysis

OK it's a Wednesday in the online poker world, and that can only mean one thing. The Mookie on full tilt. 10pm ET tonight, password as always is "vegas1". And it looks like just to change things up, Mookie has changed things a bit from regular nlh to 6-max nlh tonight. Mwaahaahahaha, one of my favorite games. So I'm looking forward to that for sure, and I plan to try to evoke some plays from my big WSOP cash this past summer in 6-max nlh to make another deep run at my elusive first Mookie title [Edit: My bad. I know Mookie is having a 6th child (yes he is crazy) but I mis-read his blog to say that tonight's Mookie will be 6-handed nlh. In reality that was just a pun from Mookie and the actual Mookie tournament will be remaining a full ring event. My apologies.]. I'm so sick and sad guys....I've won ten grand in a big online tournament. I've won 5k 3 or 4 other times, and a lot of smaller yet significant cashes along the way. I've won major once-a-week online tournaments, I've won 2000+-field nightly events, major satellites like the WSOP Bracelet Races which I have won three of in two years of playing on full tilt. But even after all these triumphs, all these affirmations of my play, all I fucking want to do is win a gush durned Mookie. I'm sick, what can I tell you.

Maybe Wednesday will be the night? If any of you saw how hard and how dumbly I donked out of the two tournaments I played on Tuesday evening, you would know I am in all-out donkey mode these days. I've finally been broken down after about 4 weeks of running bad, and now I'm playing like an abject donkey. Last night I pushed pocket Jacks on all three streets against a guy who I knew from his call of my preflop raise held an Ace in his hand, so even with the Ace flopping and me knowing all along I was behind, I donked off my entire stack about 90 minutes in to the nightly 28k guaranteed nlh tournament. Similar story nearing the bubble in the 9:45pm ET token frenzy that has been so good to me over time. And I'm already looking forward to spewing out early tonight in the latest Mookie tournament. So come join the fun where for only $10 + $1 you can play with all the major bloggers every week in the weekly Wednesday night Mookie tournament at 10pm ET on full tilt. And hey, maybe you get lucky and be at my starting table for some free-ass chips. Good times.

So back to the hand we've been looking at this week. To recap, I checked from the big blind to see a 5-handed flop with K9s in hearts in the very early rounds of the nightly 28k on full tilt. The flop came KT6, all spades. I checked and then called a 90-chip bet into a 150-chip pot on the flop from a player I suspected of being on a spade draw. One other player to my left made the call on the flop as well. The turn then brought an offsuit 7 and I was leading off from the big blind, and I asked for opinions on what I should do here on the turn.

Once again the commenters left some excellent thoughts on how to best play this hand. Basically the commenters to this part of the question seem to fall into two categories: the check-folders, who still don't want to risk anything to try to win with top pair 9 kicker, and the bet-outters, many of whom might not have called the bet on the flop but at this point seem to advocate betting out here.

I will admit up front, I am squarely in the bet-out camp here. In fact, I think this comment from Columbo pretty much sums up my feelings about the hand 100%:

Columbo's comment, with my thoughts embedded in red font:

"ok, let me admit something right now. I did not comment on part 1 because I play this exactly like Hoyazo does, but did not want to take any guff for it. Smart man. On the all spade flop with Top Pair, I want to check, not because I fear being behind, but rather to keep the pot small. I do this to "set up" my turn play when a non-spade falls. Exactly mofos, exactly. This hand actually broke down so far exactly how I wanted it to since the flop. I check-called a small bet on the flop (I would have folded the flop to any large bets or any raises), hoping no spade hits on the turn so I can take the pot away from the drawing hand when the odds are terrible, or at least make him pay way too much to draw to the river.

Now, when the non-spade falls on the turn, the only bet here is a pot sized bet. I might get called by a big spade, but if I am he is a big dog. No one else should call unless I am in trouble (like against two pair). I agree and disagree on this one. I think in general a standard pot-sized sort of bet is the way to go here. But, especially since we're so early in a fonkfest like the nightly token-buyin $28k guaranteed, I actually think a lot of high spades will call here -- most players with the A♠ or the K♠ in fact I think will call this bet, stupidly, as will most other flush draw+ hands, like flush draws with middle pairs, flush draws with gutshots, etc. This is a good thing for me, so that when I put in a well-sized bet on the turn, either everyone folds and I win, or some chasers call at bad odds, which is also a big win for me as long as no spade falls on the river.

The nice thing about the all spade flop is that you are not expecting to get re-raised on your leading bets. You expect call or fold. So you can control the pot size from around the front.

If you do get a caller of the pot size bet, then you must really think about your river lead. Maybe a blocking bet, maybe give it up, depending on the opponent." Very well said. The tricky part here is putting the turn caller on a hand here, and then acting correctly based on that read, adjusting for whatever the river brings.

So there's my view. When the all-suited flop falls and I have no part of the flush but I do have a probable best hand like top pair, I don't like to commit any more than I absolutely have to on the flop when there's still a 35% chance of any fourth flush card falling on the turn or river left in the hand. So I will usually check my top pair there, knowing I am likely best and that there is a big draw out there, and I will either call a small bet or fold to a big one or to any additional raising action. And then my move on the turn is to check-fold if the flush draw fills since I all but know I'm behind (and that the other guy isn't folding) at that point, but if the flush card does not fall, then I want to bet out sizeably in that spot to either chase out the guy with the flush draw who stuck around on the flop, or make him pay way too much to draw to the flush since there are so many soooted donks out there in online poker land.

So here I am, betting out for a nearly pot-sized bet on the turn:

The player to my left folded quickly (missed draw), but the original middle position raiser guy thought for a bit and then smooth called my 390 chips. This put 1200 chips into the now-huge pot, and the river came down another offsuit low card, another total rag. Now there are 1200 chips in the pot, my opponent has just 460 chips left and I have just 970 chips remaining in my own stack. Action is to me.

Do you bet out here? If so, do I have any reasonable options for bet sizes other than putting my opponent allin (minus one chip of course)? Or am I checking here in case my top pair 9 kicker is behind? If I check, am I going to call the inevitable allin bet from my opponent for his last 460 chips? Or am I check-folding at this point?

Let me know your thoughts, and tomorrow I will have the conclusion of the hand up as well as some more analysis of the comments and the issues facing us in this situation, which actually comes up more often than you think if you play a lot of no-limit holdem. In the meantime, if you haven't already registered for Wednesday night's Mookie tournament, WTF is stopping you? Let's get going already! See you there tonight.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

MATH Recap and 3-Suited Flop Hand Continued

Now this is really getting redickulous. Somehow this week, RaisingCayne managed to not only add a 6th final table in 7 appearances this year in the MATH to his resume, but he actually won the thing outright again, his 3rd overall MATH win again in just 7 lifetime events. Wow. Even more amazing to me is that I left the pc once I watched Columbo get eliminated on a short stack in 6th place, thereby ensuring that none of the cashers this week would threaten the three-headed hydra atop the 2007 MATH moneyboard, at a time whem wormmsu, playing in just his second ever MATH, had about 40k in chips and Cayne was down to I think 5 or 6k, and in last of the 6 remaining players. So I didn't see how it all went down, but all I know is when I logged in this morning, Cayne had done it again. I read on Cayne's blog about a huge suckout ITM at the final table in a hand that he effed up against emptyman so it seems there was some more donkery to be had for Cayne after I signed off, but let's be honest. This guy has final tabled the MATH 6 times in 7 tries, he came in 2nd once and he's won it outright three times. Obviously he is doing something right.

In the end, with 24 runners on the night and the top 3 finishers splitting the $576 prize pool, third place and $115.20 goes to IslandBum1 who recorded his first MATH cash since winning one of the early MATH tournaments involved in the Battle of the Blogger Tournaments this past spring. Ending in second place, after the big suckout referred to above, was emptyman who won $172.80 for his efforts, and as I mentioned, this week's big winner once again was RaisingCayne, who won the $288 first prize for his continued domination of the event I once reigned supreme over.

And here is the updated 2007 MATH moneyboard, taking into account this week's Mondays at the Hoy tournament:

1. Bayne_s $1175
2. Columbo $1168
3. Hoyazo $1162
4. RaisingCayne $1110
5. Pirate Wes $792
6. VinNay $775
7. cmitch $774
8. Iggy $745
9. NewinNov $677
10. Lucko21 $665
11. Waffles $650
12. IslandBum1 $642
13. Astin $616
14. Tripjax $561
15. Julius Goat $507
16. bartonf $492
16. mtnrider81 $492
18. PokerBrian322 $490
19. Chad $485
20. scots_chris $474
21. Emptyman $461
22. Fuel55 $458
23. Mike_Maloney $456
24. RecessRampage $434
25. Otis $429
26. Surflexus $402
26. Miami Don $402
28. jeciimd $382
28. Jordan $382
30. Blinders $379
31. lightning36 $371
32. ChapelncHill $353
33. Zeem $330
34. LJ $326
35. OMGitsPokerFool $324
36. oossuuu754 $312
37. leftylu $295
38. Wigginx $288
39. ScottMc $282
40. Fishy McDonk $277
41. Irongirl $252
41. Manik79 $252
43. Wippy1313 $248
44. swimmom95 $245
45. Byron $234
46. wwonka69 $216
47. Omega_man_99 $210
48. katiemother $209
49. Pushmonkey72 $208
50. Buddydank $197
51. Gary Cox 194
52. 23Skidoo $176
53. Santa Clauss $170
54. Iakaris $162
54. Smokkee $162
56. cemfredmd $156
56. NumbBono $156
58. lester000 $147
59. Heffmike $145
60. brdweb $143
61. Mookie $137
61. DDionysus $137
63. Patchmaster $135
64. InstantTragedy $129
65. Ganton516 $114
66. Fluxer $110
67. hoops15mt $95
68. Gracie $94
68. Scurvydog $94
70. wormmsu $91
71. Shag0103 $84
72. crazdgamer $82
73. PhinCity $80
74. maf212 $78
75. Alceste $71
76. dbirider $71
77. Easycure $67
78. Rake Feeder $53

So for the second straight week, our three cashers have already previously cashed in the MATH this year, leaving our total number of Hoy cashers on the year at 78 different players. Emptyman climbed up to 21st on the list with his second place finish this week, while IslandBum used his third place cash to jump to 11th, and Cayne remains in 4th place while adding another $288 to his MATH haul from just the past couple of months. The win leaves Cayne as the fourth member of the $1100 club in the MATH this year, and just $65 away from Bayne who still leads after the three of us at the top all failed to cash for at least the fourth straight Mondays at the Hoy tournament. The top of the board is fast becoming anyone's to grab hold of, and if Cayne has shown us anything it's that you could start playing the MATH at any time and still have an impact that is felt in just a short period of time. Way to go Cayne, and I can only hope I'm at your starting table next Monday night in the next MATH.

So, back to yesterday's hand analysis question. To recap, I checked my option out of the big blind with K9s and 4 limpers in the pot ahead of me, and the flop came down KT6 all suited, not in my suit. The small blind checked to me, and I asked how you would be apt to play this hand on the flop:

As usual there were a lot of well-thought-out comments. As a general statement, I am definitely in agreement with the majority of the commenters about betting out somewhere near the size of the pot on a flop with lots of potential draws like this flop has. Mostly everyone seems to like either betting out "to see where I'm at", or check-folding. Personally, I'm not a fan of either, in this specific case. In general, again, give me a flop like KQx with 2 diamonds or something, and I would be likely to do exactly what most of the commenters suggested, and bet out to protect my top pair hand. But, in particular on a three-suited flop, there is almost always going to be at least a couple of guys who are going to call me with their shit flush draws on this flop. Always. Because anyone with any spade can think they can win this pot all of a sudden. So in these all-suited flop situations specifically, I tend to check here. I actually have absolutely no reason to assume that my top pair is behind here; most likely, I'm figuring, I actually have the best hand right now. But with any reasonable-sized bet, I have in my mind basically no chance of eliminating any more than two of the other four players still in the pot, and if any spade falls on the turn, then I will be immediately sacrificing the bet I just made on the flop. So, unlike other draw-heavy flops where I generally like to bet out with a hand like top pair, in this situation of a surprise all-suited flop, I often like to check, with the intention of calling anything but an overbet from another player, and with the intention of check-folding the turn if another spade comes, or potentially betting out on the turn if a non-spade card hits the board.

So I checked it here. The next two players checked behind me as well, but then the middle position guy bet out 90 chips into the 150-chip pot, and the small blind folded ahead of me, bringing the action to me:

As I mentioned above, I checked with the hope of someone on a draw or a middle-pair-top-kicker kind of hand, with the intention of trying to see a turn card as cheaply as possible. So I called the bet, more or less indifferent to the other players behind me calling, although with such a weak top-pair hand, folding them is probably a better move for me than having them stick around to try to suck out on me.

In the end, just the player to my immediate left also called the 90-chip bet, at that point into a 330-chip pot, and everyone else folded. Three-handed, we saw a turn card of an offsuit 7. With the small blind out of the hand, action was to me.

Now what do you do here? The turn card is more or less raggy garbage, and there is now 330 chips in the pot. I still have K9 on a K6T7 board with 3 spades all on the flop. Do I bet out now to again protect my top pair hand and find out where I'm at? How much in relation to the 420 chips in the pot would you bet, with 1360 total chips in my stack? Or do I check here? Anybody looking to check-raise in this spot? How about the check-folders out there?

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