Friday, May 28, 2010

Bad Luck, Bad Result in the ToC

Well the BBT5 Tournament of Champions has come and gone, with three of our brethren winning themselves $10,000 prize packages and another two more nabbing $2,000 prize packages along the way. Unfortunately, my name is not among them.

What happened, you may wonder, given my solid confidence yesterday heading in to the big game?

It's pretty simple, really. I started off the ToC playing like a total spewmonkey, and the cards were just not with me. I lost a big pot within minutes when I correctly put xkm on a lower pair to my QQ on a 478 board, but I opted not to raise, thinking I could extract some more chips from what I figured would likely be another lead bet on the turn if an Ace or King did not fall. When the turn brought a 9 which also put a flush draw on the board, I opted to just call xkm's bet once again, again correctly reasoning that I was ahead but not wanting to go nuts with the possible straight having filled a couple of times now, and given the deep stacks we had in this event thanks to Al and Full Tilt. When the river brought an ugly, despicable Ten, runner-runnering to a 4-card straight, I felt compelled to make the crying call of xkm's fairly small bet of around 40% of the pot, although of course I was less than thrilled to do so. What's that? Why didn't I raise this hand on the flop or the turn? Well, the stacks are so deep, and I was afraid xkm might have a decent pair lower than mine which I was afraid he might just push in with. And do I want to get it all in this early in a super stack, slow structure tournament with just an overpair of Queens? The reason I don't is, well, I would have busted on this hand if I had. xkm flipped up JJ on the river for the sick runner runner straight, and I was down below 4000 from the 5k starting stacks within just minutes of beginning. I did not play that hand optimally I don't think, but I am pretty sure xkm is not going away with the overpair, which means again that I literally would have gotten allin on the flop, been a 9-to-1 favorite with two cards to come, and then busted on just about the worst runner-runner rivering ever if I had. So instead I chose to keep the pot small but still ended up taking it on the chin at the river.

From here though I slowly regained my composure, made a number of huge plays, some of them with the goods and some of them as bluffy as I get, and by the end of the first hour, I was just over 5300 chips, back above the starting stack and ready to get my aggro on in Hour 2. Which is exactly what I did, slowly chipping my way up as I stole more and more pots, my c-bets finally getting some respect, and before I knew it, I was in second place in the tournament (with jj ahead of me, of course).

And then I ran KK into AA. As I've often said here, I have never yet run into the situation where I would fold KK preflop, but in this case there was so much dead money already in the pot thanks to a half-stack reraise preflop from xkm after I had raised it up with pocket Kings in early position, that I just felt like a total tool if I did not play this hand for stacks after a third player raised it up as well, trying to make a move on what certainly looked like a stealy raise from xkm. Well KK into AA it was, allin preflop -- in a spot where I would not possibly have gotten away even on the flop as my Kings were an overpair -- and instead of being the massive chip leader in the tournament with 16 left, I was suddenly a pretty short stack with under 2900 chips remaining.

Fast forward maybe 15 minutes, however, and I had managed to claw my way back to over 6000 chips, having won a nice pot with Aces vs someone else's top pair, and after some failed steals gone bad, we came to the last hand of Hour 2, which saw Goat raise it up 3x from middle position. I have JJ in the small blind, so I do my best impression of a final-minutes-of-the-round resteal and raise it up but not even all in. Goat pauses and ten pushes, I figure must have been beat but I have to call for very few chips remaining into a now large pot, and I am overjoyed to see that I am allin preflop with pocket Jacks up against Goat's pocket 9s. I barely had time to relish a sweet double at the end of the hour when the flop comes 9TQ, giving Goat the flopped set but me an unlikely straight draw. My straight miraculously filled with the 8 on the turn, but the rivered Ten sealed my fate, and I was done in the mid teens.

So how did I go out so fast in the BBT5 Tournament of Champions after being so confident going in yesterday? Runner-runnered for 20% of my stack five minutes in against a guy who bet me repeatedly while he was hopelessly behind in the hand. Amass large stack, but then run KK into AA in a 3-way pot. Then rebuild again to near average and then lose JJ to 99 allin preflop. Anybody out there know how to still be alive after all that in a no-limit tournament? Me neither.

Good times, this poker thingie.

Huge, huge congratulations go out to JJ today for winning the 10k prize for the second straight year in the BBT ToC. JJ is like the Cris Carter of the BBT -- all he does is win tournaments. Seriously, that is an incredible feat to win this grand prize two years running, and it could not happen to a better guy, or to a more deserving guy. For reals -- JJ was the prohibitive chip leader in this tournament after about 30 minutes in, and he held the prohibitive chip lead basically all the way to and into the final table. He quickly got himself into position at the top of the leaderboard, and he simply did not look back, period. He played the best and he took down the grand prize, along with NYRambler who also nabbed a 10k seat, in addition to Adam 27x. The 2k "consolation prizes" were won by KeepFloppin and adamsapple19, although I have to admit I did not stay up to watch the end of the final table. I think I made it until near 1am but eventually had to hang em up for the night, although I did let JJ know in the girly chat that I was going to sleep knowing in full confidence that he would win, and I can't say it was the least bit of a surprise when I confirmed that confidence this morning. What a run out of JJ in the last couple of BBTs, especially given his limited appearances in the actual tournaments comprising either BBT series.

Will JJ play the WSOP Main Event this year? Will he blog about his experiences there? My two cents for JJ: Take the hint, man! No-God, fate, kismet, the Island, Jacob -- whoever it is, someone is trying to tell you something. Obviously, you are fated to play the WSOP Main Event. The Rio isn't finished with you yet! So I say you give in to fate and get your ass to Vegas next month for the granddaddy of them all, get that mug on tv, and rocket past Iggy's incredible finish in the ME a few years back to show everyone what you can do after learning to thoroughly dominate the poker bloggers like no one else has ever done.

The BBT5 was a great ride for everyone involved, and although of course I cannot say that I was pleased with my luck in the series-ending ToC, I am certainly thankful both to Al and to full tilt for their generosity and their hard work in setting up and handling the logistics of a series like this. And although I would have loved to have been included in the ToC winners' list this time around, like I said it could not have happened to a more deserving bunch of people than this year's winners. Best of luck to everyone, and hopefully those who won prizes will find their way out to Las Vegas this summer and to write about their experiences so that people like me and many, many others who read can live vicariously through them, and so that full tilt hopefully continues to see the value in putting on huge promotions like this for us lowly bunch of poker wonks in the future.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

BBT5 ToC Odds

So that's it. The BBT5 is over. Probably the last ever BBT tournament series, right? Right? Seriously, with Al's frustration bubbling over several times in this series -- at least a few times my fault -- and him once again having to go through all the bullshit that comes with running something like this, I can't see him doing it again. But then, I suppose a good deal of that decision will depend ultimately on how much full tilt feels they got their money's worth this time around, which at this point remains to be seen as we head into the BBT5 Tournament of Champions this evening. In the past, full tilt has given away thousands upon thousands upon thousands of dollars to various bloggers, and for whatever reason it feels like a good half of them have declined to use those funds to play poker, and thus did not blog about any poker experiences they had thanks to full tilt's generosity. And of the other half who have gone on to use full tilt's funds to play, mostly all of them have really not blogged about the whole thing all that much in any event. There have definitely been a few notable exceptions, but for the most part I imagine that full tilt is still waiting to really get the bang for their buck that they ultimately envision out of these BBT series. Will this be the year? I suppose that depends on who wins tonight's Tournament of Champions.

Before I get into my thoughts on tonight's TOC, with this week's Buddy marking the final event of BBT5, we are now down to the 21 participants who will run for the money in tonight's big event at 10pm ET on full tilt. So we can start off by looking at the people of note who are not going to be in tonight's TOC, many of whom are people I was counting out of the ToC as they were eliminated last night as that was when they were officially eliminated from contention. Among those out of the ToC we have guys who have won against the bloggers and who have had much success in former BBT series such as twoblackaces (out 99th of 101 in the Mookie this week, that musta been interesting), lucko, Bayne, Astin (remember AstinBaynage from back in the first BBT?), heffmike, ck , Don, Chad, columbo , buddydank (eliminated from ToC contention in his own self-named tournament, dayummm that has gotta hurt), Waffles (did not play, pay day must not be for another week), smokkee, Tuscaloosa John, Jordan, 1Queensup1 and many, many others who could have posed problems for anyone in tonight's Tournament of Champions for sure. In fact, the honest truth is that most of the people I have a little bit of respect for in these tournaments are not in the ToC this time around, which is a good thing overall I suppose, but which is also going to make for some very tough going in tonight's field.

And with that, let's move on to the field for tonight's BBT5 Tournament of Champions. I look briefly in the morning just to note that the winner of this week's Buddy was someone I do not recognize and not somebody who has already nabbed a seat, which means as I mentioned that we are looking at a total field of 21 runners for the big prizes. With Shabazz Jenkins recently nabbing his second ToC seat in addition to oossuuu and his 3 ToC seats, that is just three tables of 7 to play it down to three grand prize winners and two more "mini" prize winners. With three 10k WSOP prize packages and two 2k WSOP prize packages being awarded, that means a total of $34,000 being given away for free to tonight's winners, and with 21 runners, that brings the total Blinders-approved(TM) Expected Value of a seat in tonight's ToC is 34,000 / 21 or over $1,619 per seat. If you just play average, do average, and have an average run on the night compared to everyone else, you can expect to win over $1600 on average just for having the right to play in the big game tonight. That is some incredible free swag for a bunch of donkeys who barely even know how to play this game, isn't it? And moreover than the $1600 expected value, a full 5 out of 21 runners will win a nice big fat prize of at least 2k. 5/21 = a 23.8% chance that each one of us will win at least 2k tonight, and a 3/21 or 14.3% chance that each of us will win one of the big momma 10k prize packages.

So here is the field in tonight's BBT5 Tournament of Champions, along with some quick thoughts from me on each, keeping in mind that the average player should be 23.8% (just over 3 to 1) to win a prize and 14.3% (6 to 1) to win a grand prize:

Jim McManus. Author of one of the greatest poker books ever written in Positively Fifth Street and for sure one of the drivers of my obsession with poker over the last several years, McManus has also been to a World Series of Poker Main Event final table, and from watching him I would say the guy can play. I have found him to be a bit on the aggressive side in the BBT events he has played, but that aggression generally works well against this crowd if you know how to wield the power, and McManus has played enough with the big boys to know just that. Add to this the fact that full tilt would cream in its pants if Jim wins this seat and goes on to get the site some solid publicity, and you have to figure that Jim's odds of cashing are somewhat better than your average bear, even against this field of champions and highly-skilled players. I would say Jim is at least 2.5 to 1 to cash and probably around 5 to 1 to win a ME seat tonight.

Adam 27x. Like a number of the entrants in tonight's Tournament of Champions, I don't know anything about Adam 27x. All I do know is that it looks like he played exactly one BBT5 event, and he crushed it. 'Nuff said. I'm still just putting his chances at average tonight though, 3 to 1 to cash and 6 to 1 to win the ME seat, because if nothing else this person will be at a significant disadvantage in terms of knowing the other players around him (like that really hurt him last time).

adamsapple19. This week's Buddy winner is another total mystery to me. He played in five BBT5 tournaments, cashed in two, and final tabled just the one he nabbed his seat in. I don't know him, but he hasn't played against this group much, so I once again see him right about average to cash in the big game. 3:1 to cash and 6:1 to win the 10k seat.

All in At 420. Allin is a professional poker player and is someone who played 6 events in the BBT5. He can obviously play the game and I would say probably has slightly better than the average chances to win a prize in tonight's Tournament of Champions. 2.5 to 1 to cash and 5 to 1 for the ME package.

BamBamCan. BamBam nabbed his ToC seat near the end of the BBT5 in I think the final invitational tournament. Although he always seems to be hanging around late in these blonkaments, I can't say I have many memories of BamBam winning these things outright or playing for the big money. So I would lay BamBam's odds of cashing in the ToC somewhere less than average, maybe around 4 to 1 to cash and 9 or 10 to 1 to win one of the 10k grand prizes.

dignitasODEE. I looked up dignitas on the internet and although this person seems to have some online presence, I do not recall them being an actual online pro of any note. Dignitas played in six BBT5 events and managed to win the one, so like the others who won an event while not playing much against this crowd in general, I think the odds are right around average for dignitas to cash in the ToC, 3:1 to cash and 6:1 for the ME seat.

hoyazo. Although I have not managed to get a good run going in the BBT over the past few weeks since winning my seat early on in the series this time around, I still feel like I am playing a good game of poker overall. I know well the games of over half of the ToC participants, and I have had a lot of success against the bloggers over time. Ever since bubbling out of the BBT4 ToC last year, it feels kinda like I owe myself something here, and as I mentioned, the lack of most of the big, scary guys who could have ended up finding their way into the ToC leaves me feeling like this thing will definitely be mine to lose. Of course anything can happen (and has been happening, lately) in any poker tournament, especially one against this field, so there's just no way to get anyone's odds much above average in any event, but I tend to think of myself in my own pompass way as about 2 to 1 to cash tonight, and maybe 5 to 1 to win one of the big seats.

jjok. What can you even say about this guy? He's played like four BBT tournaments in his life, and he's won them all. Even after I slapped some bad odds on him in last year's Tournament of Champions, he showed us all by claiming one of the WSOP ME seats in the BBT4 ToC. Never one to learn a lesson though, I am going to once again say that jj is not quite active enough, and does not quite have the experience against this field, to have great odds to beat the bloggers in tonight's ToC. Yes, the same bloggers who he was roundly embarrassed almost every time he has sat down with us over the past year. I'm a genius, what can I say. 4 to 1 to cash, 8 to 1 to win a ME seat (you're welcome, jj).

Julius_Goat. Although it looks like we might be waiting until after Hurley passes on the mantle of Island Protector to the next guardian before we get Goat's final Lost post, Goat has always been one of my favorite bloggers, and a guy that I am quite sure full tilt would love to have playing and writing for them in the WSOP ME. And moreover, Goat has had I think among the best overall BBT5 performances of all the people who participated this time around, as basically start to finish the guy amassed big stacks, made fairly deep runs, and of course took care of business the one time he needed to. As someone who always seems to be hanging around the top of the leaderboard in these things, and as the guy who I think it is fair to say played the best tournament poker of anyone in the event where he won his ToC seat, I say Goat definitely has above average chances of cashing tonight in a big way. Let's say 2.5 to 1 to cash and 6 to 1 to grab the granddaddy prize of the poker world.

KeepFloppin. Pokermeister is a solid player and he seems to have played more and more of the blonkaments as he got more involved with our group over the past year or so. However, what he does not have is much tournament experience, much big game experience with tons of money on the line, or much big game tournament experience with tons of money on the line. While in a cash game the Meister might be more formidable, I can't escape the fact that he will probably be fighting an uphill battle in tonight's BBT5 Tournament of Champions. Let's say 5 to 1 to cash, and 10 to 1 to win a ME seat.

lightning36. Lightning is another guy who I feel like I have seen playing a lot against the bloggers over the past couple of years, but who is also not someone I think of as a tournament specialist in any particular way. Lightning has had enough blonkament success not to just write off, but I'm still seeing him as having on the under side of average chances in tonight's ToC. Maybe 4.5 to 1 to cash, and 9 to 1 to win a grand prize.

maigrey. Maigrey is an old-schooler who has won more than her fair share of blogger tournaments in her day. Although she played in 8 BBT5 events, those numbers are semi-inflated because she managed to win her way in to the ToC in the very first one, meaning that all of those other BBT5 appearances for Heather were just not played with the same sense of urgency as most of the rest of the field played with every time out. Maigrey is good, can be tricky and is definitely not someone to be trifled with, but I will keep her odds right at the average of 3:1 to cash and 6:1 to win a seat due to lack of regular experience playing with the field in tonight's big event.

NYrambler. Rambler not only won one event in the BBT5 but got off to massive stacks in at least three or four others. If this were a regular BBT tournament I would definitely have rambler in there above average, but I think rambler's aggression might get the best of him against this field with this kind of money on the line, so I'm going to stick with 3:1 to cash and 6:1 to win the seat tonight for another of New York's finest.

oossuuu754. Oossuuu is basically a shoe-in for making the final table tonight, and with a big stack at that. He has destroyed all comers in the BBT5 as I have mentioned here previously, and I feel sorry for anyone who does not realize that one of the top 3 spots and its 10k prize package has his name written all over it. Osu is a good 1.5 to 1 to cash tonight, and not more than 3 to 1 to win the 10k grand prize.

pushmonkey72. Pushmonkey found his way in to the BBT5 ToC late in the game, much as I recall him doing in a previous BBT series as well, so he is not exactly a stranger to the blogger games or even to playing for the big money at the end. I seem to recall making a similar prediction about Rich in a previous post for a previous BBT-ending tournament, but in the end I haven't seen pushmonkey make deep runs in bnig spots in blonkaments too too often, and thus I think push's chances are just below average to cash tonight, maybe 3.5 to 1 to cash, and 7 to 1 to win the seat. Can't ever say anything too bad about the guy most directly responsible for my first Mookie win during the BBT4 (back when it was still called the Mookie).

pvanharibo. pvan is one of those people in the ToC who everybody has to look out for. Without a doubt I don't know anyone in this group who can bounce back from the early short stack like pvan, so even if she drops early she may be down but definitely not out. I saw pvan playing extremely aggressively during most of the BBT5, including the Buddy in which she won her ToC seat, so I expect more of the same tonight which I think is probably likely to get her off to a nice stack and increase her chances above average of cashing. I would say 2.5 to 1 to cash and probably about 5 to 1 to win a 10k WSOP ME package.

Shabazz Jenkins. Shabazz is a good little player who has had success previously in former BBT series, including winning two seats into this year's BBT5. There's just no way you can count this guy out, as he too has shown a penchant for building big stacks early but also for being able to rebound from early weakness in these tournaments. Shabazz is someone who I also think is slightly better than average to finish at the top in this evening's BBT5 ToC. Let's say 2.5 to 1 to cash and 5.5 to 1 to win the grand prize.

TexansBaby. April, along with Maigrey, is the only other confirmed pure "old school" blogger in the mix tonight in my view, and that along with the blogger tournament success she has had over time makes her a formidable opponent for sure in tonight's ToC. That said, with very little to really go on, I continue to look at a lack of recent experience against most of the other bloggers in tonight's field (I see her only having played 6 events in the BBT5, for instance) as a potential drag on any player's expected performance tonight. Thus, I would expect about a 3.5:1 chance for April to cash, and maybe a 6.5:1 chance to win one of the 10k seats.

TripJax. Trip is another one of those really good guys in the ToC this time around, and I was thrilled when I got up that morning a few weeks back and saw that he had nabbed his seat in the ToC after near-missing and finishing the runner-up in an earlier event in the series. Trip has a good game as well, and unlike many of the older-school bloggers I have covered in this post, Trip actually came out and played in 13 of the 18 BBT5 tournaments overall, cashing in 3 of them and making two final tables. With Trip's success against this field and his experience playing against them, his odds to cash on the night have got to be somewhat better than average. Let's say 2.5:1 for the cash in the top 5 spots, and 5 to 1 to win the 10k.

VinNay. VinNay is another guy who has played a very good BBT5, winning one event and final-tabling two of the 14 tournaments he showed up to play, but amassing a large stack in several others without managing to nab multiple seats as a result. I have my eyes on VinNay as someone whose game is well-suited to a ToC like this, and who is definitely above average overall in his chances. To me VinNay is probably 2.5 to 1 to cash as well, and let's say 4.8 to 1 to win one of the big ones.

xkm1245. xkm is someone who I have known since the days of the WWdN when he used to trash talk like a mahfah every time I sucked out on him (which was often, you know me). Although we seem to be friends again lately (until tonight...heh heh), xkm is another guy who I haven't seen playing against the blogger too much over the past year or so. But, at the same time, the guy showed up for 9 BBT5 tournaments and managed to cash in a whopping five of them, so he is clearly on a good streak. With that kind of momentum I will predict him right at average of 3:1 to cash and 6:1 to win the seat.

So there you have it. I am including myself as well as oossuu, Jim McManus, TripJax, the Goat, All in at 420, VinNay, pvanharibo and Shabazz Jenkins as the top 9 of the 21 runners and the group from which I would expect to see 2 of the 3 Main Event package winners as well as at least 3 of the 5 overall prize winners in the tournament. No matter what happens, I will look to play my best and take the game tonight very seriously, which I understand to be a very favorable structure including super stacks with 5000 starting chips and the same extended blinds as are found in the nightly 50-50 tournament on full tilt. It's still hard to believe that, thanks to the generosity of full tilt and the ass-hard work of Al Can't Hang, we are basically playing in one of those two-table token sitngos on full tilt where the top 5 out of 18 runners win the prize.

See you tonight at 10pm ET for the BBT5 Tournament of Champions on full tilt!

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lost n Vegas

So, so much going on right now.

Have I mentioned that it is less than a week until I leave for Las Vegas? Things are so crazy at the office right now that it seems completely surreal at this point. But only three more work days....Three more work days....Three more. I just keep telling myself that in the hopes that sometime soon I will finally wake up to the bright sunrise of Saturday morning.

And speaking of my office, how many effing times am I going to try to open my office door with my home key? Why would the key to my home ever fit my office door? And more importantly, why do I keep doing the same thing -- pretty much 4 out of 5 days every single week -- and never, ever seem to learn? Is it because it's so early in the morning, and I haven't really woken up yet or something? Or is it because of the fact that the PDAs and web-based email access and emailing me .wav files of my voicemails and the cell phones and everything else, there really is very little line anymore between home and work, so I am making a purposeful metaphor by trying to use the key to one place to enter the other.

So the Lost stuff is quickly fading away, as I knew it would. When something this bad gets on to the airwaves in a big spot, it's all the rage for a couple of days, and there's always going to be the contrarians out there beating the bushes about how great it was. As I wrote about here recently, I accepted a long time ago that you just can't do anything about the contrarians. The more prominent and the more obvious the situation is, the more guaranteed you are to have those people out there claiming the opposite of the obvious. With most people as I have mentioned previously, it is some unstated (and sometimes, unconscious) desire to feel smarter than others. Other people will come right out and state it in fact, as we have seen on my blog comments over the past couple of days -- that they "get" the story in a way that nobody else does, because they are smarter, and they really understood it while nobody else on the planet did. It's part of what makes the world go round I guess. But in any event, it's fading now which I think is good. That big of a copout just should not be talked about publicly for very long, and ultimately with so precious little actual content to discuss, there just isn't a lot there to captivate the public.

One other item -- I finally went and read Doc Jensen's two-part column about the Lost finale yesterday on -- he managed to keep this one to a mere 16 pages so I guess we should be happy it wasn't longer. Jensen is basically the only person I've ever met who aboslutely puts me to shame as far as the amount he writes, most of the time about seemingly nothing when it comes to his ridiculous overanalysis of this show. But strangely, Jensen's 16-page opus on the finale made just a very passing mention of the closing montage, which showed a bunch of plane wreckage strewn across the beach, and no shots of the Losties. Some have speculated that this somehow is the remains of the original Oceanic Flight 815, except that there were no survivors at all, which would somehow suggest that perhaps all that we saw in six years of Lost was just a dream of some kind much like Sideways World ended up being. Others have said this is the remains of the Ajira plane that Lapidus tried to pilot off the island at the end of the finale, which means that it crashed and all those aboard were killed off. My answer? Who cares? Once you've gone and made Sideways World just a purgatory for whenever everyone finally dies to come together again to get ready to "move on" to the afterlife or whateveritis, who cares whether Lapidus, Sawyer, Kate, Miles, et al ended up getting off the island and escaping, went on to live another 50 years back in their "real" lives, or whether they just plummeted to the ground minutes after Jack saw them fly overhead as he himself died in the same bamboo field where he originally found himself in the pilot of this series. The only thing that matter is, we saw Sawyer and Kate there in the church at the end, so eventually they died, and it really doesn't matter how. Don't get me wrong -- it is so quintessentially Lost to end the entire series with an ambiguous scene that deliberately leads some to question whether or not the entire plot of the entire series ever even happened. In an unintentionally comedic way, that is about the best possible way Lost could have ended its run, and the most symptomatic of how they addressed the rest of the plot points on the show in the end. Maybe the whole damn thing never even happened!

I wish.

I'll leave you with this funny Lost link today (shit, forgot to check with Jordan again about whether or not it is ok to link to this), which I picked up from the comments to Goat's blog. Jordan of course will have no need to watch this link, and in fact he will I am sure be totally flabbergasted as to why the narrator is asking all of these obvious questions, but to the other 17 million of you out there, this is just a smattering of some of the interesting questions still remaining about the series, in a roughly chronological order of the time when they first arose and have never been addressed.

And with that, I think I shall end my Lost coverage for now. As I said, the show had a great run, it declined dramatically after the midpoint when the writers officially put an end date to the show and were thus forced to actually decide upon the ending, and then the execution of that ending was done about as poorly as a show could do it over the final two seasons, and in particular in the last episode. But at this point, sure the shock of having been anally lubed by the show's producers and writers is still there, but it's wearing off fast. We've been through this before as many people have commented, be it Dallas or St. Elsewhere or most recently, the Sopranos, and at this point already I am ready to let it go.

Six days till Vegas. Later in the week I should be back with some more reminiscence about past trips to the desert and to the World Series of Poker.

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More on Lost

After being out-of-pocket busy basically all day on Monday, I have had a little bit of time to digest some of the things people are saying about the Lost finale this past weekend. To those I will offer a few comments:

For starters -- and this is an objectively true statement I am about to make here -- it does not make a show good simply because it "makes you think" or because people talk about it a lot or think about it a lot outside of the show. Obviously many people could write a show that makes the viewer "draw his own conclusions" or "fill in the dots" by simply not telling you anything. They could show a lot of crazy or thought-provoking images for an hour with no coherent way of tying them together, and people would be left to "draw their own conclusions", while the show could actually suck. Balls. Shit, that's basically exactly what Heroes was/is (is that show even still being made?) -- one of the worst, most thoughtless shows ever made, that was so unmitigatingly stupid that sure, it had very smart people spending hours every week thinking about it, trying to piece it together and make sense of it all. But does that make Heroes a good show? The answer to that is obvious. So, it is clear in an objective sense that simply because the writers told us nothing in the end about Lost and left us completely wondering ourselves and talking amongst our friends, this does not in itself have the slightest bit to do with making Lost a good show, or making the finale a good episode, or anything like that.

And while we are on the topic of the viewers having to draw their own conclusions, I wish wish wish the Lost defenders out there could see the things that they write objectively instead of through their own personal prism. Instead, what we have is an army of Lost devotees who are out doing the writers' dirty work for them, proclaiming the show to have been great and to have answered everything we needed to be answered, and that to me is the saddest part of all this.

After taking the time to trash me and my intellect in the comments to my blog, Jordan's post about the Lost finale has got to be the best out there among the people I actually know. This thing has more gold in it than a prospector's pan in 1849 (god I am so good with the similes):

"Interestingly, the one mystery not conclusively revealed was what exactly the island is and what was that light at the center that “had to be protected.”

Oh. My. God. When you're starting off your post like this, you just know it has got to be good. So this is the one mystery not conclusively revealed, huh? Pure, 32 karat gold right there. And this is written by a guy who just accused me (not him) of having never actually watched the show. Ugh that is so classic, farrr too classic to even respond to. Let us just move on.

To continue from Jordan's post, the pure gold continues like the eternal light springing up from deep within the heart of the island, that thanks to Jordan we now all know what it (obviously) was:

"My best guess, which to me is essentially obvious but also irrelevant, is that the island is essentially an Eden. Not the Eden, insofar as I do not think the show took a literal approach to the Bible comparisons. Rather, it is the well-spring of all life, both of this world and separate. The island itself has some odd properties, which incidentally would make sense in context. If the island is also the source of life (or maybe “souls” moreso than life), it may be the source of other things as well…like time, or perhaps electromagnetism."

Essentially obvious, huh? And irrelevant. So not only am I and 10 million other viewers totally wrong and we somehow missed this key and very obvious, overtly-stated explanation of the nature of the island (I'm just guessing here, but perhaps that is because Jordan's explanation was never given, is clearly not obvious, and in fact is almost certainly idiotically incorrect), but in fact it is obvious! And on top of that, it's also not relevant what the island is! Thank you for making that conclusion for us, which we deserve I suppose since we are all so motherfucking obtuse that we did not see when the writers made it obvious that the island = Eden. Of sorts. It is so clear now, thank you for "filling in the dots" for us. Hahahahahaha.

"The island is protected by some supernatural force. Specifically, throughout time, there was a guardian of the light. The first guardian we meet is Jacob’s “adopted mother” but there were likely those that came before her. That is one of the unexplained mysteries that fall under the banner of what is this island and how did it come to exist. We don’t know that answer, but how could we? Was the show supposed to show the big bang, the creation of the universe, and the formation of our planet and/or life, as coming from this hidden wellspring Eden?"

Wow. I mean, what do you say? So, so far we have explained away the fact (read that: F A C T) that the writers never told us what the island was, by claiming that they not only did tell us but that it was in fact "obvious". Now we've also explained away their not telling us about the origin of the island, because -- if I can follow the apparent "logic" used in the paragraph above -- there's no way we could possibly know the answer to this because to do so would require the writers to go back to the beginning of time and the Big Bang in order to do so. This is logic at its finest, ladies and gentlemen, please run to hire this guy to be your lawyer.

And the shit just keeps rolling downhill in this post:

"Jacob is forced to take over and takes vengeance on Smokey by throwing him into the wellspring/light, which kills his body but leaves him a bodyless sentience. WTF is that all about? I don’t know, but like the show tells you, its best just to accept it. Let it go. Why didn’t it affect Desmond the same way? Because Desmond had some sort of resistance to the island’s forces, which we learned when he survived the explosion of the hatch and was able to see the future, or when he lived through the time-travel sickness in the episode, The Constant. But in the end, you have to take that leap of faith. Smokey turned into Smokey, but Desmond lived because, well, that’s what happened."

Like the show tells you, it's best just to accept it. Let it go. Nothing to question here. The main villain (the only villain in the end) of the entire 6 seasons, the guy who was shrouded in mystery until the third to last episode of the series, we should just "let go" the minor issue know...his very existence. His whatthefuck is he? Who is he? What happened when he went into the light? We should just let it all go of course! Why? Because the show told us to!

You can go ahead and read the rest of his Lost post to see all the other "maybe"s and the "probably"s and the "presumably"s peppered throughout the rest of Jordan's explanation of what happened on the island in the finale, just to get a flavor for what was so "obvious" in addition to not being relevant about that aspect of the finale.

And then of course there is the whole resolution of Sideways World, which Jordan again has the obvious (and I suppose also irrelevant?) explanation for:

"The last season, though, was the Sideways World, which was a mystery. Until now. Now we know that Sideways World us nothing like a flashback or flashforward. It’s something different. Its the place you go when you die, before you can move onto the afterlife (perhaps a return to the light…on the island!).

Admittedly, this last part was not clearly explained, but apparently, somehow, the Losties had bonded to the point that they were going to move onto the afterlife together. They “created” a place where they could meet before crossing over. This does not mean that they died at the same time. Time has no meaning in this afterworld, as we know from some direct statements to that effect by Christian Shephard. So whenever those characters died, be it before Jack (the incestuous step-siblings and Locke) or way after Jack (Hurley and Ben, who acknowledged that the story went on post-Jack by mentioning how well they did as the respective new #1 and 2). They all return to this sideways world.

How did the sideways world come to exist? My guess is that it always existed, in a sense that there is a waiting room for each of us, in the Lost world. The group may’ve been anchored together by Desmond, who said fairly clearly before unplugging the wellspring that he had already seen the afterlife and that he could maybe take everyone with him. So perhaps he was the bonding point that allowed all of them to meet up after the end.

That covers most of it. Any questions? Feel free to ask."

Now how could we have any questions after an obvious and complete explanation like that? Oh sure, Sideways World was a purgatory, hmmm? And how did the Losties create it (Christian Shepherd says at the end that the Losties created it for themselves to be together)? I am going to guess that on their flight out on the Ajira plane, maybe Kate and Lapidus whipped up Sideways World in the in-flight blender somewhere in the airspace over Fiji? Or maybe Sawyer formed Sideways world out of a dump he took mid-flight? Or maybe it was Miles and Claire who thought creating an entire fucking alternate reality would be a cool thing to pass the time out of their airline meal in the middle seat between them while they taxied down the runway at LAX?

I could go on and on and on about Jordan's post, combined with his unbelievable comment on my blog yesterday, but alas I do only have the time for one more thought today, to all you Lost-defenders out there: You come off -- objectively here, now -- sounding like a goddam horse's ass if you equate what the writers didn't tell us about this show with "drawing one's own conclusions" or "filling in the dots". The fact is, only a complete assmuffin bottom-2%-intellect in the history of the Earth would even consider publicly attaching their name or identity to the notion that the viewers not even knowing (1) what the island is, (2) the identity or nature of either of the two main characters who the whole story ended up being about even were, or (3) how or what the alternate reality that comprised about 90% of Season 6 after never being mentioned previous even came from, constitute minor enough omissions to be described as "filling in the dots". A better comparison using that utterly inapt analogy would be not to failing to "fill in the dots" but rather to failing to give us the numbers to connect the dots to, the magazine with the connect-the-dots puzzles in it, in addition to failing to provide a writing implement, the invention of paper, even any usable language or form of communication to work with in the first place, or the creation of life on earth to want to complete the dots puzzle in the first place. This is not "draw your own conclusions" television, folks. Putting aside the unintentionally comedic attempts by Jordan and others at justification for Lost's unthinkable gaffes, which thinking people immediately dismiss as the rantings of a blind denialist, if you're going to be a defender of the show out there, and you care if people think you are dumber than fucking Fluxer, you need to at least make some attempt to stick to this reality, the one we all live in on the present-day Earth -- as opposed to the one "obviously" created by the Losties in their own private little purgatory that we all get to create whenever we want to in life (who knew?). This means you need to actually address the actual shortcomings of the actual show instead of just attempting to explain them away as not actually unclear, not relevant, or otherwise.

It's kind of like poker, in a strange way. Some people play poker over time by denying the truth and simply ignoring the problems they might have because they don't want to accept that they are beat in a given hand, that they have not broken even this year, that they are not a good player overall, etc. Others who are successful rise above this "obvious", self-serving denialism and learn to see things for what they actually are, rather than allowing themselves to get emotionally involved in things to the point that they lose all ability to be objective. Although I can conceive of a response to the Lost finale from someone who addresses the show's shortcomings in real, intelligent ways and still overall enjoyed the show (not that I have seen that yet), to simply state that the show is great because it leaves the viewers to fill in the minor details and in particular because they did explain all of the outstanding mysteries (save for one) is simply being the proverbial ostrich in the sand.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Worst Finale of All Time?

Or just of recent memory?

Not too much time today, but let me just say this about this weekend's Lost series finale:

First and foremost, those writers have got some mf'ing balls to not even attempt to explain what the island is in the finale. Or in the entire show, for that matter. To give us a show with this much mystery, have it basically all be about The Island, and then to end the show never even giving us a clue about what the island is? That shit is criminal. I'm sure these ahole pompass writers will tell everyone and their mother that they wanted to do it this way, that this is the beauty of the whole thing, but in reality, they're monkey turds. It is downright assholic to end the show like that, with not even a beginning of an explanation as to what the island actually is, where it is, when it is, anything. Nothing. To do that to your loyal fans for six years, who've stuck with you when the show was good years ago and even when it got horrible for the past couple, to do that to us just because you can is, well, assholic.

So no island explanations whatsoever in the finale. And how do they resolve Sideways World? With the equivalent of "it's all a dream"! It's unbelievable, really. This was the best plot idea the writers could come up with a couple of years ago? This plot? That Sideways World -- you know, that thing that you spent about 15 hours this season revealing to us piece by piece by piece -- was actually just a purgatory-type of place, where all the Losties went when they died in the real world. A place that does not exist in time or space, just a place that the Losties "created themselves, together" as Christian Shephard put it at the end, so they could all be together and then "move on" as a group. WTF. I repeat -- that was the best plot arc you fucknuts could come up with over the past two years?

I'll go you one further by the way -- the Lost writers were so discombobulated this year that they didn't even know this was how they were going to end it up. Because don't even tell me they would have had Juliette mumble to Sawyer just minutes before she died in the season premiere this year that "It worked", and then never even go on to explain wtf that means. And if Sideways World was not somehow created at all by the bomb going off, then Juliette was totally wrong that it worked, and the whole thing just makes no sense. But they just never explained it, did they? Just left it out there twisting in the wind.

And the last horrifyingly stupid thing the writers did in this finale was end up having Flocke killed by fucking shooting him. With a regular gun. In the back. That's it. Forget the black smoke -- shiat, the closed the black smoke got to making any appearance at all on Sunday night was one of those ghey promos during the breaks -- and forget all the week-long, season-long and really to some extent series-long wondering about how one can actually "kill" the body-less black smoke. No need. Instead they just have Desmond big special power mean that he can crawl into the light and remove the stopper -- quite anticlimactic in its own right -- which then I guess removed Flocke's powers (hence Jack drawing blood on his ass with a vicious right hook), and then they just kill him, the great evil baddie of the island, with a quick shot to the back, and that's it.

It's amazing, really, that the pomp of some people can swell so large that it leads them to try to pull one over on the very viewers who made them what they have become today. Cuse and Littleton (whatevertbefucktheirnamesare) are dead to me, and to millions of other people in this country and around the world from here on out, and I have zero doubt that those two f-heads won't ever amount to anything ever again in their pathetic little lives. It's hard for two people to step down harder in a big spot than those two asseaters did this weekend, this season, and really for the past coupe of years. Although in a way the finale was perfectly symbolic of all the problems Lost has had since the powerfully captivating "We have to go back!" scene between Jack and Kate a few years back, ultimately what galls me more than anything else is the fact that the writers literally created an entire construct just for this season that ended up being basically a meaningless, dreamlike "purgatory" where everyone's dead soul goes when they finally die. Very little effort was made in wrapping up this story for the past couple of years, and after making us invest so much over the years, it's a move that is as unthinkable as it is a great big "yuck fou" to all the audience over the years. I hope those two producer douchebags who made the first two hours on Sunday night all about themselves really savored the moment, because it'll be the last we hear from either of them in any positive way for some time.

Go ahead, I dare you to disagree in the comments.

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Friday, May 21, 2010


OK ok, after a number of texts and emails from people looking for my thoughts on the second-to-last episode of Lost, I watched this week's ep again this week, and here are my thoughts.

In general, I thought this was a fairly mediocre show. Ultimately, in my view this episode continued very well along with the main Season 6 themes of answers that are too pat to be believed, and just generally bad storytelling that here at the end shows just how far the writers have strayed from anything they ever thought of even earlier this season, let alone last year or in earlier seasons.

This week's episode had a lot in the "too pat" category as we have seen more and more of heading towards the end of the show. For example, how convenient that Ben just happened to have four huge bars of C4 hidden in a secret safe in his old barracks? We never heard about that before. And wasn't it convenient how now, when the story kind of "needs" them to, all of the Losties can now suddenly see Jacob. And speaking of Jacob, something tells me that we might have just seen the only explanation we're going to see for why a young Jacob appeared randomly around the island this season following MIB succeeding in killing Jacob through Ben Linus -- it was a young Jacob, and they will both likely disappear once the ashes burned down in that fire Jacob set. And don't even get me started on Richard. If that wa Richard's death scene that we just saw with the smoke, that was -- well -- fast. Too pat. I would say it was a horrible death scene, but given the last few weeks of this show it is basically par for the course as far as how these writers have been killing our characters off of late. I don't buy that we've seen the last of Richard though -- he will have to have some role in this finale, even these writers cannot be that demented to leave Richard out of the series finale, could they? After that ignominious death scene? Come on. It's almost like the writers have turned bitter and angry and are taking it out on the viewers here as the show winds towards its conclusion.

The bad storytelling is the other big aspect to this week's show, and it applies equally well to this entire season and really Season 5 of Lost as well. Fr one thing, am I the only one who feels like the writers kinda shot their wad here in the second-to-last episode? I mean, sure we still need to see how the story ends up getting resolved, but really, with Jack taking over the helm for Jacob so willingly here, and assuming there is going to be some kind of ultimate happy ending to the show, what suspense really is there left for the finale? And plus, amazingly we still have Sideways world completely unresolved heading into the finale! Ugh. Here we are going into the final episode of this epic series, and the big secret is the thing that never even existed until earlier this season. In fact, that's the problem with the whole story these past couple of years on Lost -- there is simply no relationship whatsoever nowadays to the story from the first four seasons of the show. Period. It's become a story of Jacob vs MIB, rendering everything we watched for four seasons -- the caves, Dharma, all the stations hidden all over the island, the Hatch, all of it -- totally without any significance at all. Shit, why'd they even bother introducing Dogen, and Weird Al, and the temple with the crazy rejuvenating spring and such, given that none of it has any meaning whatsoever in the end with this show? Wazzup with the writers needing this much filler during the final season of a show that used to be so ridiculously rich in story and suspense.

And while we're on the topic of Jacob and bad storytelling by the Lost writers, how does Jacob say that Kate can be his successor even though her name was crossed off the wall (let's put aside btw the fact that Jacob said he crossed her name off because she became a mother, which she did not wtf -- don't even try to go there with Aaron, come on now?!). I mean shiat, so it turns out that anybody can be the next Jacob when Jacob is done huh? What about me? If I appeared on the island just now, could I be the one too, even if my name wasn't up on Jacob's wall either? Come on, writers! "It's just a line of chalk on a wall, Kate. If you want the job, it's yours." Come on with that. Then wtf have we been paying attention to this whole notion of the "candidates" for all season? Why did you writers tell us that was important if it actually has no meaning at all?

And while we're at it, this whole thing about Jacob having brought these Losties to the island because none of them have anything to go back to? Sorry, but I gotta call bullshit on that one, too. Kate? Sure. She was in handcuffs, going to jail, a murderer and the most annoying biatch in LA as far as we can tell. If you want to argue Sawyer was facing a similar situation, with absolutely no one to go back to, reeling from having killed an innocent man in Australia as I recall before boarding Oceanic Flight 815, I suppose I can buy that too. Claire as well I suppose. But everyone else? Come on now. Jack had nothing to go back to? Why, because he didn't have a wife and kids? Come on. For a long part of my life, I didn't have a wife and kids, and at some points I was also a raging alcoholic like Jack. That doesn't mean I had nothing to go back to reality for, though, not by a long shot. What about Jack's job? His family? Please, with the "nothing to go back to" crap. OK, and Sun and Jin? They had "nothing to go back to"? Yes, they were having problems, and Sun was going to leave Jin, but how can you say she had nothing to go back to? I'm sure she felt that she had everything to go back to now that she had finaly decided to leave Jin. Hurley, sure he believed he was somehow cursed, but he did have 165 million reasons waiting for him to go back off the island. And this doesn't even get in to the other Losties from years past -- Charlie had nothing to go back to? Shannon? Boone? Come on with that, Jacob, your writers should surely be able to do better than that. It's just yet another too-pat answer to a long-running question on this show -- why them? Why did Jacob choose them, specifically, to come to the island? And that, my friends, is one shittyass, silly, over-simplified answer. Come on, they were all "flawed"? Who could you plug in there that isn't "flawed" in some way or another?

Then there is the way that Jack just up and chose to take over for Jacob. This whole thing about Jacob giving them "the one thing he was never given -- a choice" would have resonated far more with myself and all the viewers if we had learned Jacob's story more than one week ago. That is just bad storytelling, plain and simple. Same thing when Jack drank the water and then Jacob said to him, "Now you're like me", just like his mother had said to Jacob some 2000 years before. If we had seen that scene with Jacob taking over for his mother five years ago, now that would have been powerful to hear again this week. Instead, once again, it's just another plot device that the writers completely swung and missed with. And Jack in just seconds is standing up and volunteering for the job, without even knowing what the job is, what it means, anything? He gives up his life as a successful spinal surgeon. His life with his mother. His friends, presumably he has some of them. His money -- as a well-known surgical specialist like he is, he is likely quite rich. He just up and gives it all up, on a dime, no thought needed, oh and btw at the same time gives up his right to ever return to the Earth. Uh huh.

And the last part of bad storytelling from this week's ep came in the final scene, which ended with Flocke starting into the camera and saying in his sinister, angry voice, "I'm going to detroy the island." Did we not already basically know this already? Is that an appropriate level of cliffhanger for the second to last episode? Come on, you could tell by the music and the closeup camera angle that the writers thought they were really messing with our minds with that. Oh my god he's going to destroy the island! Who cares?!!

For the finale, I think we will still need to find out what Widmore's real motiviation here is, because does anyone possibly think Widmore was actually visited by Jacob like he claimed, saw the err of his ways, and then found out from Jacob just how to get to the island to make things right? God no, what an idiot story. I wouldn't have thought even the Lost writers would try to pass that one off as true. And, we're going to need to hear from Ben again as well, because I don't believe that he has once again turned all bad, either. Sideways world will resolve in some way -- I don't really care how -- and otherwise while I will watch the show on Sunday of course, it is hard to imagine how they are going to fill another 2.5 hours with this story.

Who woulda thought it, all this rich story and mystery and mystique and intrigue, and in the end I can't even imagine what they're going to fill 150 minutes with in the finale.

It's been a sad, sad ending to a once-proud series, that is for sure.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pencil Him In

Well I had a post I was going to complete today talking about my past World Series performances as part of my psych-up for my Vegas trip, which is now amazingly less than two weeks away. I still cannot believe that; when I first bought my plane tickets, it felt like two years until Vegas time. I know these next 12 days will still feel like two years, but it's a lot less time than it was back then. In the winter, those tickets, this whole trip, another WSOP, it was all just a dream, just an idea. Now as I sit here thinking about it, it's a reality. And it is soooo close....

Anyways, the plan yesterday was to complete sometime during the day my WSOP reminiscence post and get that up here today. But then a strange thing happened. I woke up, literally whispering the name "osu". Really, you can ask my wife. I had a crazy premonition and I mean I literally sprung out of bed, bounded down the stairs, and checked out the old laptop where I had left up the lobby of Wednesday night's Buddy tournament. And fudge if I did not think I was looking at a cached copy or something -- oossuuuuu won again, now his amazing third BBT5 win, and more importantly for those of us skilled enough to already be in the upcoming Tournament of Champions, now bringing that ToC down from its original plan for 24 seats now to 22. With three 10k prize packages and two 2k prize packages in play in that thing, the value of those last few remaining BBT ToC seats just continues to go up. $34,000 in prizes to be distributed to 5 out of 22 players? Check my math but I'm thinking that is 1 and 12/22 = 1 and 6/11 = 1.545 = $1,545 of EV per seat in the ToC. And with I guess four more seats available in this thing, oossuuu might be able to get it down to just 18.

Three ToC seats. Three. And I think he's won them all kind of recently too. Let's face it guys -- you can pencil oossuuu in for one of the two 10k prize packages. He's earned it, and he's going to win it. This guy bullies a table so badly that I'm scared of him. And he always has it. Always. Well, has it, or hits it. One way or another, he is betting or raising, and your chips just keep sliding sliding sliding his way. And he's been absolutely killing it during the BBT, which worked so well for jeciimd back in BBT2 when he crushered the field during the series, and then held on to win the jackpot 18k prize to the Aussie Millions as well. The very best players in the last BBT as I recall -- Tuscaloosa Johnny as always, 1Queensup, Jordan -- I don't think any of them won the seats in the end in the ToC, but here we are again with one guy who is simply head and shoulders above the rest.

oossuuuu, this post is my homage to you. I bow to you, and I am willing to cede you one of the 10k prize packages. Just don't include me in your path of destruction and eliminations along the way so that I may have a fair chance at surviving. I'll donk to you in the WSOP even if that is the price of protection. You are the most skilled of all the bloggers in playing the blonkaments right now, and no one else is even remotely close. You have figured it out; you have figured us out.

Odds on oossuuu nabbing five ToC seats before this is all over, anyone?

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Two Weeks

Two weeks. 14 days. That's all it is until I leave for Las Vegas.

As has happened a couple of times in the past four years I have travelled out to the desert in the summer for my annual poker pilgrimage, things at work are on a massive heater heading into my final couple of weeks, so I know already I am simply not going to have the opportunity I would really like to savor and anticipate and get excited for and look forward to my upcoming trip. Instead, I'm going to sit in my office, thinking only peripherally about work while I try to focus on the task at hand. As is often the case, it is clear already that this is going to be among the loooooooooongest two weeks of my life leading up to this trip, and I can honestly say that with everything going on around me right now, I have never needed a trip like I need this one just to get my head back on straight. I have a ton of responsibilities between my family, my job and otherwise, and even though I rarely if ever let the cumulative weight of those responsibilities break me down, it is clear to me that this time I really need to get away from it all.

I thought I would take a few minutes and go over some of the things I have planned for this year's Vegas trip as I try to get psyched up for a few minutes and leave my other worldly troubles behind. So, to the extent that there is any real plan since I tend to try to let the poker dictate when I'm free for the most part on a trip like this, this is what I'm looking at so far:

Tuesday, June 1: Flight leaves in the early evening from New York, arrives in Vegas late evening. This is the only night I am currently still homeless, as I priced suites at the Rio a couple of months back when this trip seemed only like a distant circle on the calendar, and the prices for the up-level suites were simply atrocious. Like, laughably silly. I think the Rio has their regular suites available for stoopid cheap, like $70 and $80 a pop, which I'm sure will do me fine if that's where I end up staying, but I called a couple of months back and asked for a price on their higher level suite, the one with the jacuzzi and the extra space and the floor to ceiling windows that I stayed in the night before my second WSOP back in 2007. The price I was quoted? $1200 and change. At least, I think there was change, because my ears and I think my entire brain shut the hell down as soon as I heard the nice lady quote me that price. Ummm, no, I think I will pass on paying Rio $1200 to stay for one night starting after midnight in a suite off the strip at a place generally considered less-than-desirable as far as their accomodations, all when the regular suites in the same hotel are going for well under a hundy a night. My hope here is that sometime between now and then I will call the Rio back -- I am thinking the longer I wait and the more availability there still is, the better -- and be able to talk them into upgrading me to the good suite for the regular suite price, or something close to it. When I spent a night at the Rio in 2007 they upgraded me free of charge downstairs at the front desk when I first checked in, and ideally that's the same dealio I would love to get now. Either way though, I'm still figuring on staying at the Rio that first night I get in, although nothing is set in stone yet I suppose.

So anyways, the plan will be to arrive in Vegas, take the cab from McCarron, make sure the guy does not drive me to the Strip through the tunnel, and then most likely head up to my room at the Rio. Then I will head back downstairs and register for the next morning's noon PST World Series of Poker tournament, which is the $1500 buyin no-limit holdem event.

Wednesday, June 2: WSOP at noon. Hopefully this encapsulates my entire day's plans. Still having made only one Day Two in my live tournament career, I can't say with any real assuredness that I will play all through the day on Day 1, but that certainly is my plan, and so I don't have anything else scheduled for this day. At some point in the evening on Wednesday, my brother will arrive in town with some of his friends, so at some point I will meet up with him, and bring my bags over to the MGM where we will be staying in the super penthouse suite for the rest of my stay.

Thursday, June 3: Hopefully, again I will be back at the Rio for Day 2 of my WSOP event, and as such I do not have any specific plans in mind for this day. There is a possibility that I will be accompanying my brother and some friends for another helicopter trip to the Grand Canyon on Thursday afternoon -- again this will be totally dependent on my WSOP status at the time -- but this is a trip I have taken now 3 or 4 times over the years, and it never ceases to amaze, especially for a northeasterner like me who has never really spent time around mountains of any size in any meaningful way. The trip out to the Canyon usually takes maybe 45 minutes or so, flying out over gorgeous Lake Meade, past about a million joshua trees, and then all of a sudden you go over a ridge and booom! The Grand Canyon awaits. It's a great deal for anyone who has the money (around $400) and the inclination to ride in a helicopter, and it's something I've done with various family members three other times in my day, including I believe last year. So tentatively my clan has another trip out to the copter scheduled for Thursday, so I may or may not be participating depending on how the poker is going at that time.

Friday, June 4: Trying not to be unrealistic, by this point I think it is safe to say that I will no longer be in WSOP event #8, as the third day I believe is generally reserved for the final table, and even after my success of last year I am not even considering a WSOP final table as any kind of a realistic possibility. Thus, Friday is the day when I will consider whether or not to play a second WSOP event -- there is another $1500 nlh donkament scheduled for midday already -- or maybe instead I can check out whichever other of the main casinos are running summer tournament series like I did last year with the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza. Either way, the plan is definitely to get involved in some kind of poker tournament on Friday as I cross the halfway point of my trip to the desert for 2010. Tentatively, again assuming no poker tournaments get in the way, I may try to drag my friends to go see Blue Man Group -- one of my all-time favorite shows -- since no one else in this group has seen it before somehow, and dinner at Tao at the Venetian has also been discussed. But I am trying not to make too many commitments or plans for the same day as the WSOP events I will be playing in, since with the events starting at noon, I sincerely hope I will still be alive by dinner time on those same days.

Saturday, June 5: Although this will be my last day in Las Vegas this year, it is also shaping up to be one of my fullest. First and foremost, again, will be poker, and if I am still alive in Day 2 of WSOP Event #12 from the day before, then that will be my plan for the day on Saturday. If not for whatever reason, Saturday night is my regularly-scheduled annual dinner at Prime in Bellagio -- still easily the best filet mignon I have ever eaten, that stuff is like buttah I tell you -- and then we have tickets to go see Terry Fator at the Mirage, a show I have heard is supposed to be really funny so I am looking forward to that. Basically, Saturday night should be a great night to end my Vegas bash for the year, as I will either be playing poker, or hitting up Prime and Terry Fator, late into the evening, and then of course poker, poker and more poker throughout the night where I will as usual stay up straight until my 6am departure time back to the real world.

I expect a lot of this to come more into focus over the coming days as we get closer and I get things like my hotel room for the first night ironed out. Although I have already begun making plans with several of you, anyone else who is going to be in town on these days and would like to meet up, it would be my extreme pleasure so please let me know in the comments.

Two weeks. 14 measly days and counting....

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Sports Rants

There's so much going on in the world of sports right now, a lot of which can be downright amazing if viewed in a certain way.

For starters, there's the LeBron James thing, which was all the rage on sports talk radio around the country at the end of last week. Personally, I never thought LeBron was even seriously considering leaving Cleveland until about a week ago. I was sure he would stay, and in fact the only thing I thought that might get him to leave would be if he managed to lead the Cavs to the championship this year. I figured then, after finishing what he started in Cleveland and bringing that loser city their long-awaited sports championship, he might feel free to move on to bigger and better things. But I thought that if he was not able to finish the job this year once again, I simply couldn't see LeBron leaving the city in the lurch and going somewhere else to play out the rest of his career.

And then I saw LeBron's last two games against the Celtics. Sure, all anyone is really talking about is his second to last game, when LeBron put up pretty much the single worst game of his career in an 18-point effort that included an abysmal 30% fg shooting performance on the day. You won't hear much about his last game, where LeBron managed to put up a triple-double including nearly 20 boards on the day, but in reality if you really sat and watched that game as well -- in particular the second half, and really in particular the fourth quarter -- then you know as well as I do that something happened to LeBron before those final two games of the series with Boston. Something happened in that locker room -- maybe between LeBron and a teammate, maybe with his head coach, but it was definitely something. Maybe something went down with management that opened LeBron's eyes to the fact that his future is not or should not be in Cleveland. But to me, LeBron played those last two games -- out of nowhere, mind you -- as if he already knew he was leaving. Before last week, I could not have conceived of circumstances such that LeBron would leave Cleveland without winning a title, but then right before my eyes I feel like I watched those very circumstances unfold in a very public and yet inexplicable way to us fans. One way or another, I still would not be surprised to see LeBron remain a Cav -- in paricular if he can sign a short-term deal and still have time in a few years for his max-dollar mega-contract -- but I can no longer say that I don't expect him to leave Cleveland now. His face looks to me like he already has.

The next item I would be remiss in mentioning is this business about the Phillies being accused of attempting to steal signs from the opposing catcher. It seems that some video was taken of a Phillies coach sitting in the bullpen in left center field with a pair of binoculars and staring seemingly towards the pitchers mound. For their part the Phillies have denied any attempt to steal signs, and explained away the bino's in the bullpen by claiming that the coaches were trying to work on Carlos Ruiz's catching stance, but that is basically cripe since I've seen shots of the coach with the bino's at his eyes during the top half of the inning when the Phillies were at bat and not in the field. As a result, I have to say that is a pretty pathetic and sleazy move by the two-time defending NL champions, as I have always maintained that I can't stand cheating or cheaters or anything associated with it.

All that said, some have suggested that this places the Phillies on a par with the "Spygate" Patriots of some years ago. This is absurd for several reasons. For starters, the Pats won three superbowls in four years by cheating. The Phillies have done nothing of the kind, nor have they thus entirely caused the other teams in the league to entirely restructure their game plans to compete like the unbelievable success of the Patriots did. To compare the Phillies and their one title with this nucleus to the Patriots in that respect is just plain silly before you even start off. And this doesn't even take into account my second point, which is that it's an undeniable fact -- something with you haters out there were oh so quick to point out to me last year when A-Rod was caught stealing signs and communicating them in real time to his teammates -- that stealing signs is an understood part of baseball. Now I'm not trying to justify anyone breaking the rules -- you saw what I wrote just above about this being a bush league move on the part of the Phillies, if true -- but at the same time, equating trying to steal the catcher's signs in baseball with someone illegally taping the defense coordinator's playcalls in football is patently silly. One thing is done all the time in the sport, by every on-deck batter and every time a runner gets to second base. The other is done, well, never. By anybody. One is considered totally a part of the game within reason, and the only is wholly not allowed.

For the two reasons I mentioned above, to compare the Phillies' transgressions -- if even proven or admitted -- to those of the Patriots is redonkulous. But there's an even dumber point to all of this, something which I heard Buster Olney communicate quite well on ESPN Radio a couple of days back, and which I think basically opens and shuts the issue of whether this is really a big deal, and why you won't hear boo about the Phillies stealing signs in the future despite people still to this day talking all the time about what a dirty, cheating, lying bunch of scuzzbuckets the New England Patriots are. In football, the signs the Pats willingly stole are signs that could not be obtained anywhere else, in any other way other than using cameras to record them during walkthroughs and even during games. With the Phillies, on the other hand, it is in my view not even very likely that the binoculars were being used to pick up the catcher's signs, because if the Phils wanted to steal those signs there is a much better way of doing that than having some old man with bad vision sit behind a grating deep in left field and stare through binoculars at a little man crouched some 450 feet away -- just turn on the damn tv! I mean, have these guys ever watched a baseball game on television? Ever? That center field camera -- you know, the one that they show mostly every single pitch from in the entire game -- basically captures the catcher's signs on almost every single pitch. Believe me, if the Phillies -- or any other team for that matter -- wanted to steal the catcher's pitch signs, they wouldn't even dream of having some old fart peer at them through tiny bino's 150 yards away. They would either look up at the tv screen, or if not available, pay $5 a month for unlimited tv access on someone's iPhone. That's all. They could pay a teenager probably $25 a week to record the signs from every single pitch every thrown at Phillies hitters through an entire season, from the comfort of his own den at home. So to suggest that that's what was going on with the Phillies coach and his binoculars against the Rockies and the Mets this season, it is just plain ludicrous and they can suck it. Yeah, that's the reason the Mets haven't performed well against the Phillies the last few seasons -- we're stealing signs! It's not that the Phils are the best lineup in the National League in 50 years or anything, that has nothing to do with it. Johann Santana woulda shut the Phils out the other day (instead of giving up 10 runs in under 4 innings) if only we hadn't been stealing his signs. Uh huh. I got news for you, Mets and Rockies fans: any professional baseballer will tell you that the great pitchers, when they are on, would still get everybody out even if the batters knew what pitch was coming when. Comparing this "scandal" to that of the Patriots or any real-life cheaters out there is unfair to the Phillies, but more than that it is unfair to the teams like the Eagles that the Patriots brutalized by their illegal, sleazy disqualification-worthy deceptions.

Lastly, no sports recap from this weekend could possibly be complete without mentioning the Philadelphia Flyers. Now, I'm not going to sit here and act like I'm the biggest Flyers fan this side of Broad Street nowadays. But when I was a kid, I was all about the Flyers. My family had season tickets -- there's no better live sport to go see than NHL hockey, bar none -- and I grew up playing street hockey with the kids in the neighborhood basically 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and my older brother and I were as in to the Flyers as anyone was in to any team when we were younger. My interest has waned somewhat in the wake of some truly disastrous decisions made by the league, its owners and its players over the past several years, but in the end of course I am from Philly and always get excited to see one of my childhood love-affair teams doing well. And what the Flyers did in Boston over the past week is absolutely legendary stuff. After dropping to an early 3 games to 0 series deficit in their second-round playoff matchup with the Boston Bruins, the Flyers suddenly turned everything around, winning Game 4 at home before taking Game 5 in Boston and then the must-win Game 6 at home again to force an unlikely Game 7 back at the Garden in Boston. To make matters even worse, however, the Flyers then quickly fell to a 3-0 deficit in Game 7, on the road, all in the first ten minutes of the game one day after losing their starting goalie for the next month or more. But then something clicked, and this team that knows No Fucking Quit at all scored a goal to end the first period, another in the 2nd, and then they tied it up in the 3rd before scoring the go-aheader with about 7 minutes left in the game to take the win and the series 4 games to 3. Although it is the third time in NHL history that a team has fought back from a 3-0 series deficit, it is the first time that that team did so in a Game 7 on the road in which they dropped quickly down 3-0 in goals just minutes after the puck was dropped. And after this Flyers team quickly went out and spizzanked the Canadians 6-0 to start the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday night, one has to wonder if this year's Flyers are another Team of Destiny for Philadelphia, the city that once was a place were sports championships were just never won.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Lost": The Final Stretch

Wow. I'm not sure what surprises me more -- some of the revelations from this week's episode of Lost, or the generally very negative reaction I am seeing out there from seemingly 75% or more of Lost fans to that episode. After having to sit and listen to people make excuse after excuse for this show all through Season 6 (and Season 5 too, really, who am I kidding), through bad episode after bad episode and after all the inconsistencies, the dropped storylines, the pat explanations, all of it, this week the producers give us a 100% mythology-based episode, and the people are up in arms. Sure, so 11 worthless hours of Sideways World this season was all fine and good -- great even -- but now finally seeing the origin of Jacob and MIB, much about the nature of the island, the black smoke, etc., and that sucks.

It's so funny. People are just contrarians. It makes people feel superior if they can act and talk as if they are smart enough to know that what the other guy is saying or is thinking is totally, obviously wrong. And with the anonymity of the internet, and the free and easy access for anyone to just post their opinion for all to see, this is only magnified. It happens even with us poker bloggers. Post a poker hand that you obviously played correctly, and half the people by definition will find something wrong with it. Shit, this phenomenon happens all the time, in particular with "the masses". Bill Belichick makes the known poor decision to go for it on 4th and 7 late in the 4th quarter, misses and loses the game as a direct result? You don't have to go far to find people who will still tell you it was the right call. They'll quote you numbers, they'll work backwards with the math just to concoct a reason to argue against the obvious truth. It makes people feel smart I think. So Lost gives us that redonkulous explanation of the Island's whispers being trapped souls, and right away there are people out there saying what a great, satisfying answer it is. "I knew it!" they'll say, "That's awesome!". Uh huh.

So then this week, we get what I will admit was a frustratingly incomplete episode given the fact that there are...oh...two episodes left in the history of what used to be the best series of the millennium. But let's be honest guys: whereas most of the episodes this entire season on Lost have been 2 or 3 out of 10, this week's had to be a good 5.5 or 6. Defending the show all through these horrifying last two seasons, and then getting on its case after this week's show? I'm sorry, but you are just a moron.

All that said, how frustrating is it that they still haven't told us the true nature of the island? At all. In fact, Jacob and MIB's mother was clear that (1) there had been other men to visit the island already previously (they came, destroyed, corrupted, etc.), and (2) she was not the first of the protectors of the island's mysterious life/light source. So we don't know who she was, we don't know how she got there (she claimed it was the same way as Claudia -- the twins' real mother -- arrived, which was in a shipwreck). But I got the sense that the writers wanted us to get a vibe of some dark side going on with this lady, and I really found myself simply not believing most of what she said in this episode. In a way, this may be where Jacob and MIB learned their incredibly devious, self-centered, manipulative ways when it comes to other people. Because I got the distinct impression that their mother basically said whatever she needed to people to get them to do what she wanted. So I don't know how much of what the woman said was true, but it seems she at least buried some good kernels of truth even inside what were ultimately lies she was telling. But, assuming she was being truthful about not somehow being the mother of the island or something, it is to me highly frustrating that even after this episode, we still don't know what the island itself is, where it is, anything at all about how or why it was created, or by whom.

Moreover, I can't deny that the whole light source in the cave thing was, ultimately, quite cheesey. It's hard to put words around it, but if you're telling me three episodes from the end that oh, the island is on top of a great yellow source of enternal life-giving energy, that somehow flows throughout the whole universe or whatever, I mean, what can I say about that. It's an extremely pat answer, one that will and should be wholly unsatisfying to Lost viewers, well, because, ultimately it is stupid and the show has purported to be not stupid. That's really what it comes down to. The writers obviously find it a totally acceptable explanation, but for me and it sounds like for many others out there, it is basically an insult. Tell me what that light is, or how it got there in the first place, justify it in some way with a plot point from earlier in the show, I don't know, you figure it out, you're the writers! But the bottom line is, there is a smart way to present what this light is, and there's a dumb way. Lost went with the latter on this one, and it seems to have really stuck in the collective viewership's craw.

Not that this was the only too-pat explanation we got this week, which of course only adds to the frustration. The skeletons? Check -- it was MIB and Jacob's mother. I recognize that the writers are wiping their hands together and ticking off another item on the list of loose ends that they have now tied up, but they should realize that -- to the extent anybody even really cares about the skeletons anymore -- this is not a satisfying ending when the two people whose skeletons these are literally never even appeared on the series until (1) the finale of Season 5 (MIB), and (2) the 3rd to last episode of the entire series (Jacob's mother).

And this really gets at the central problem ultimately with the way Lost has gone these past few seasons, and it's something I have mentioned here over and over and over again during that time -- the writers had no clue whatsoever what they were doing with this show until somebody finally decided on a plot arc at some point late during or even after Season 4. It's that simple. The bottom line is that everything we saw on Lost for the first three or four seasons -- everything, from all the backstories of the main players, to the Hatch, the Others, Hydra Island, the frigging polar bears, the freighter, to all of Dharma, all of it -- ends up being totally and utterly meaningless. It is devoid of any meaning at all with the way the writers have taken us here in the end. That's why you keep getting answers like Michael's lameass explanation of the whispers a few weeks back, or last season's inexplicably worthless visit of Walk by Locke, or this week's letdown with the skeletons: because back then was a 100% completely different show than what it is now, with a completely different plot arc. The fact that this week's entire episode -- start to finish -- could have been played at any time earlier this season, or even last season at any time for that matter, belies as well just what I'm talking about. For four years we watched a show about these castaways on an island, discovering things that had been left there from past expedititions by others, mysterious secrets, etc. all while desperately trying to get off the island and return home, to civilization, to the real world. In the end, all the show comes down to a long-running fight between two brothers born to some kind of a supernatural mother in some kind of a(n unexplained) supernatural state, who have been manipulating these other characters all along in furtherance of their own self-involved game. That's all it is. Who cares why Dharma ever came to the island at this point (something they've never really explained). Who cares what that brainwashing room was for at Dharma. Who cares why Libby had previously been in Hurley's mental institution. Who cares why Walt was special? Who cares, right? It turns out, the only story the writers left any real interest in by the end was the one involving two characters who were never even seen or heard from (other than "Help me" in the cabin) before the Season 5 finale, and even during this final season, they've only been seen for what, a total of maybe three more hours? Now I don't know whose genius idea this was, but it has ultimately made a total clusterfuck of the ending of the series, and it's been going on for so long and is so far down the path now, there is aboslutely zero way it changes in the final two episodes. And that's what everybody is feeling inside who's watched this show for six years, whether they can put their finger on it or not. Everything we ever saw on this show has been a waste of time, only interesting us at the time so much because they never told us until Season 6 how totally meaningless it all was. It's unthinkable to me that this was the best idea the writers could come up with at that fateful time after Season 4 when the decision was obviously made as to what was all really going on on the island. But here we are.

The biggest question I have that was generated by this week's episode is (and sadly, I don't really expect any of our outstanding questions to get answered any more than they already were this week, don't get me wrong) whether the black smoke was actually created when Jacob threw his brother's body into the cave of light, over his mother's express warning that this would be "a fate worse than death". In other words, was what we saw there the genesis of the smoke monster? Or was smokey already there, just as the mother said others had been the guardians there before her. At first it seemed like the show was intimating that smokey was born right there, before our eyes. But the more I watched the show, the more I just don't think so. I mean, who was that who appeared to the young twins as Claudia, their real (dead) mother? Do you think it was a "good" ghost -- like I think Richard's wife was earlier this year, or the Jacob sightings, or Hurley's old friend from the mental home a couple of seasons back, etc.? Or, like me, do you think that was smokey, appearing as the dead mother of the children, purposefully to tempt and lure MIB away from the mother and to the other side of the island? That just seems like the most likely answer to me, which means that smokey was already on the island when Jacob and MIB were kids, already able to take the form of any dead person for his own manipulative ends. And if smokey was already on the island when Jacob and MIB were kids, then when we saw MIB go into the cave of light, and come out a minute later as the smoke monster, that was not the first time the smoke had been on this island. In fact, for all we know, there could have been several smokeys on the island.

There is a good possibility from this week's episode, I think, that even the twins' mother might have had smokey capabilities. I mean, they had her kill the entire camp of the first "others", in addition to filling in all of their wells with mud and rocks, seemingly doing so much too quickly even if she was adept enough to commit all those killings and such. I think they were clearly trying to suggest that perhaps she had the same sort of destructive powers as she ended up somehow passing on to her adopted son. She always liked MIB best, she embraced his innate ability to lie and to manipulate, and deep down she even encouraged his rebelliousness and his unwillingness to follow her rules. She liked it. She always liked her evil son best. Perhaps because she was part evil herself, in addition to having been the island's protector. Who knows how that all works. And who cares really, at this point?

Lastly, was anyone else left with the feeling that, although the writers showed the young MIB's anger over not being able to leave the island, to go with his people, they didn't really give a good enough explanation for why things got so bad with him? I mean, I understand he was (rightfully) pissy to have been lied to, to have had his mother killed, and to be forced to be separated from his own people by a mother with some kind of an ulterior motive. But how does this make him pure evil, the darkness, or chaos or whatever Jacob called it in the Richard episode when he explained that the island is the cork keeping the darkness that is MIB in. How is MIB "darkness" or evil? He wasn't evil as a child. Rebellious, yes. Dishonest? Sure. Manipulative? You bet. But he wasn't evil. Somewhere, somehow along the way, things switched from the guy we saw in this week's episode, to the "evil incarnate" theme they've been hinting at all through this season. But they did a very poor job of showing that in this week's episode, and I can't imagine a more logical time to cover that than in this week's show. So I'm not sure what to make of that. I mean, it may be true (this week's episode was a bit ambiguous on this point) that Jacob's brother is just plain dead, and that smokey took the form of his body when, for example, we saw the "Do you know how much I want to kill you?" scene in last year's finale. But then, if smokey had been on the island already for a long time even before Jacob and MIB were born, then why does the smoke monster currently residing in Flocke's body want to get off the island so badly? That was Jacob's brother who wanted that. And if smokey is somehow Jacob's brother, then again I ask, what is it that made him so evil that he is willing to do anything to unleash his chaos and darkness on the universe. How does Jacob's brother even represent darkness? The way he was shown to us this week, he was just a boy, a human, like his brother was. Where do we get from that kid to pure chaos?

So many questions. It was cute in Season 1 and Season 2. I remember nearly having a nervous breakdown waiting for a week to find out who the hell turned on that light down in the hatch, and what awaited the castways in there. But having this many questions, on this kind of a level, with just two episodes remaining, I have to admit is quite a bit disheartening. Either way, there are just 3.5 hours left of what was once the best show of the 2000s on ABC.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Live Poker Hand Question -- Conclusion

Yesterday I posted about a hand that occurred early in a $400 buyin tournament in AC this past weekend, and asked what you would do on the river if you were me. As a reminder, here is the setup from yesterday's post:

The tournament started with 10k in chips, and late in the first hour I called a preflop raise from mp with T8s, and the big blind called as well which brought us a flop of T84 rainbow, three-handed. With 1250 in the pot, the big blind led out for 400 chips, and the original preflop raiser thought for a few seconds before just calling, and I smooth called as well with the flopped top two.

The turn card was an offsuit Queen, making a board now of T84Q. The big blind surprised me by leading out again, this time for 1000 chips into a pot of 2450. The guy to my right thought it over, for a little longer this time, and eventually slid out a purple chip as well for the call, and again I made the pot-odds call as well, a bit reluctantly.

The river card then brought an Ace. The big blind hesitated a bit and then slid out another purple and some yellows, a 1400-chip bet for his third lead of the hand. The guy to my right had a kind of disgusted look on his face, but after a few seconds he too slid out 1400 chips to make his third postflop call of the hand. The action was to me on the river to call 1400 to win 8250 in the pot.

Now of course, the answers I got in the comments were mostly well thought-out, but like any good "What would you do?" hand, almost nobody could keep themselves from critiquing my earlier play of the hand -- even though that's not what I asked -- in particular my not raising on the flop. As I mentioned yesterday, top two pairs is the only two-pair hand that I will generally slow-play, and I should re-mention that nobody gave me any credit for the fact that I wasn't checking here, I was calling a decent bet, building the pot by about 60% on that street while keeping two potentially weak players in the pot. Someone, I think it was Astin, mentioned that when your top two pairs are Tens and 8s, it is almost not like top two pairs at all. That is a semi-valid point, although the math I imagine would not bear out that statement in its extreme. The turn card will be a Ten or below still more often than it will not be, and even if a Jack or Queen falls it is hard to be too concerned with just the one non-Ace and non-King overcard on the board (I certainly would not be, given the action in this hand so far). Another commenter mentioned the many straight draws available on this board as a reason for the raise on the flop, which I simply do not understand at all. For my money, if I see a flop of T84 in a 3-way raised pot, that is one of the least drawy boards I could ever hope for. If T84 rainbow is scaring you away from slow-playing because of draws, then you just have a different view of math and odds than I do I guess. Sure, 732 rainbow would be even less drawy, but T84? Come on. That is almost ideal from a drawing perspective as far as maybe letting another card slide off.

This is all a long way of saying that I think I agree that with medium two pairs like this, and only because of the fact that this is a 3-way pot and not heads-up, some kind of a raise on the flop is probably the more +EV play over time (I'll have to check with Blinders on the EV calculation of course). Certainly in this spot it did not work, as the turn was an overcard that also completed an open-ended straight draw from the flop, and then of course the river brought the dreaded Ace, but taking the results-oriented viewpoint out, I think I buy that raising my hand on the flop was probably the better move against two opponents. I just don't think it is nearly as obvious as the commenters seem to think it is, as I think a couple of key considerations I mentioned above were overlooked in general by the commenters.

That said, this was really a question about what I should do at the river. The comments were split about 50-50 as to folding and calling, though even those recommending a call seemed not very confident, calling more for the pot odds than anything else. Well, I already had the alarm bells going off in my head from the flop when the guy to my right just smooth called, and when he did the same thing again on the turn, I was thinking either overpair or flopped set in a big way. When the Ace hit the river, I figured I was going to have to fold to any action since at least one opponent had at least one pair heading into this street, and the odds of one of them holding an Ace as a kicker are fairly good given that they called a preflop raise in this hand to begin with. So when the first guy led out again -- for the third time after getting two callers on both the flop and the turn -- this to me smelled like a very solid hand, at least an overpair himself if not two pairs or better. I mean, how many times do you ever lead out on the flop, get called (twice), lead out again on the turn and get called (twice), and then actually lead out still another time on the river? That to me just screamed of strength. Similarly, the player to my right calling all three of those bets also screamed out that it was at least strong ish -- more than one pair, say -- in which case it seemed to me that I had no option but to fold on this river. I was not sure that both of my opponents had my two pairs beat, but 3rd and 4th pair really could not reasonably be ahead of both of these guys the way I saw it.

And so I laid it down, even for the measly 1400 into an 8250-chip pot. I would only have to be ahead of both guys roughly one time in six to make always calling here profitable, and yet I relied on my reads sufficiently to figure that I'm not going to be ahead of both of these guys even that often to make the call worthwhile.

The big blind flipped up?

Pocket Kings. How he bets out a third time on that river after getting called twice on each of the flop and turn is utterly beyond me, but that's definitely the way a big-time donkey would play this hand.

And the guy to my right flipped up?

We'll never know. He took one look at the big blind's pocket Kings and he fucking mucked.

One pair FTW!!!

As an epilogue, although it took me a good hour to truly get calmed down from the tilt induction that was that hand, eventually I bounced back in the tournament with several big hands, mostly without having to show down anything, and in the end I took 3rd place when my short stack push with J9s got called by A8o and I could not catch up. Still, I won almost $1600 for my efforts, and overall I played great in my last live tournament tune-up prior to leaving for Las Vegas three weeks from yesterday. Make that two weeks and six days from now. Just two+ weeks baby, just two+ weeks.

But tell me, how do those two clowns both bet and call three times with just one pair?

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