Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Best Survivor Tournament Yet

That's right -- tonight's Dank tournament at 10pm ET on full tilt (under the "private" tab, password is "vegas1" as always) will be easily the most exciting tournament to date in all of Survivor Poker. Sure, there have been some other fun ones, tourneys with fun immunity bounties, spots where one alliance's leader or the other was set to get voted out depending on who lasted longest, even ones that ended in ties and thus heads-up nlh matches to decide an elimination. But nothing is going to be as fun as tonight's Dank, where as I mentioned yesterday, any old shlub who shows up with $11 and signs up with the above password can make a big hand and cast a major impact on the eventual outcome of Julius Goat's brainchild, Survivor Poker.

As I mentioned yesterday, we are down to just the Final Three on Donkey Island: muchtim, veryjosie and smboatdrinks. Tonight in the Dank, whoever lasts the longest among those three will win immunity, and along with that, will win the right to decide which one of the two remaining competitors to bring along to the final two, which it has already been decided will come down to a heads-up vote among all of the Tribal Council as to who is most deserving of being the Champion of Donkey Island. So who finishes the highest of the three remaining Survivors tonight is going to play a huge role in what ends up happening in the end, and that's why any one of us mere spectators can exert a very significant influence on the overall outcome of the game. And with the way the game has been set up here, getting that immunity oneself is going to be the only way for anyone to be truly sure that they are safe heading into the final heads-up vote among all the Survivor participants.

I mentioned yesterday that I figured it was a safe bet that if either of josie or boat wins immunity, they will choose the other one to come along, perfecting an alliance that has seemingly existed right from the getgo of the tournament series. But as I have thought that over over the past 24 hours or so, I have realized how utterly unsure that conclusion really is. I mean, josie and boat have presumably been allied all along, and I bet if we went back and looked at the votes, those two might never have voted for a different person in any elimination vote all along the way through the series for all I know. Clearly, an alliance still in existence at this point would by necessity require that the alliance members are "supposed" to stick together here now and vote for each other to advance to the heads-up Survivor final. However, this is Survivor, and even our silly little bloggers version of it has been absolutely chock full of backstabbing and brazen dickovers in the name of self-advancement. So let's say Josie wins immunity tonight. Her agreement is I assume based on her last post about the game to stay with Boat and bring him to the finals with her. But what if Josie thinks Boat might have a decent chance of outvoting her among the Tribal Council members at the end? And what if Josie believes she can comfortably out-vote muchtim under the same situation? Then what is Josie to do? Keep the alliance, and face a possible second-place finish because she took the wrong guy with her to the final heads-up vote? Or end the alliance, choose muchtim to take to heads-up, and claim her spot as Queen of Donkey Island?

Similarly, what if Boat wins that immunity tonight. He has at least as tough a dilemma as Josie would. Bring Josie along as previously agreed to as part of their longstanding alliance, but then have to find a way to garner more Tribal Council votes than Josie in order to win the game? Or, alternatively, elect to bring Much along -- thereby stabbing Josie squarely in the vertebrae -- on the thinking that Boat has a better chance of winning that heads-up battle than he would against Josie.

And even Muchtim will face an interesting decision along similar lines if he manages to win immunity in tonight's Dank tournament, as I alluded to yesterday. Yes, josie and boat are allied, but one can only guess from Josie's recent posts that she and Much are not exactly on great terms at the moment. If Much wins immunity, does he pick Boat, continuing with what seems to be his recent history of voting against Josie over the last couple of elimination votes, and take his chances going heads-up against another blogger who is perhaps not as "out there" and well known of late as Josie? Or, does Much elect to make things up to Josie and take her over Boat down to heads-up if he wins the last-longer in tonight's Dank, on the thinking that maybe Josie has alienated enough Tribal Council members with her play of the game that Much might perhaps have a better shot heads-up against her than against Boat?

All of these things are very real considerations for the participants in tonight's Dank tournament on full tilt. And don't get me wrong -- of course Josie and Boat have told each other that they are allied and will vote for the other to survive if either of them wins tonight's crucial immunity bounty. That goes without saying. But what either or both of them does in reality when faced with the situation and the potential to alter their own ability to attain ultimate success in this game -- and how much they weigh that ultimate success against "doing the right thing" or "standing by your partner" -- is still very much up in the air the way I see it. I mean, sticking with your alliance partner is obviously a noble end to pursue, but this is Survivor folks, and we've seen time and time again that in the end people have been (and shoud be, really -- this is a contest, after all) choosing their own self-interest over perceived alliance ties over and over and over again. And tonight will have by far the most at stake of any immunity bounty, and of any elimination decision made by any individual in the entirety of the Survivor Poker series.

Who will win the all-important final immunity bounty on Donkey Island? Who will be the first of the big three to drop? How pissed will Josie be when I river her three times in the first hour tonight? Only one way to find out -- tune in and see for yourself.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On the Road Again

In between more trips halfway across the country this week, I thought I would pop in with some general thoughts swirling around my brain while I have some internet downtime courtesy of free airport wireless from Boingo! So what's happened since last I checked in here?

The Tournament. Damn. What an incredible run this time around, quite possibly the best March Madness in history if you're a fan of upsets and of the Little Guy. Everyone said there were no great teams this year, but by the time the tournament actually came around, I think it was pretty clear that Ohio State and Kansas at least were a cut ahead of the rest, with Duke pretty much right on their heels behind them. And yet somehow, the whole "no great teams this year" ended up proving out, as we have an amazing 11-seeded VCU in the Final Four, joined by 8th seeded Butler to accompany #4 Kentucky and #3 UConn. It's the highest sum of the four Final Four seeds in NCAA tournament history, and Saturday afternoon's VCU-Butler matchup will be the highest sum of two teams matching up in the Final Four in tournament history as well. It's the first time we've had no #1 seeds into the Final Four in a decade, and the first time with no #1 or #2 seeds in tournament history. Suffice it to say, these are four teams as befitting of the "there are no great teams this year" mantra as any collection you could find.

This Butler story is simply amazing. There are just no other words to describe a guy out of that tiny school, that unknown basketball program, and that weakass heretofore disrespected conference and make it to the Final Four. Twice. Consecutively. What Brad Stevens has done this year cannot be put into words, but go read my post about him last year if you want to know what I already thought of this guy's coaching skills after last season's run. Stevens' career has been on the upswing for years, and this latest run of back to back Final Fours could be just the beginning for who has got to be thought of at this point as America's best college basketball coach.

And enough with the talk about the Big East. The Committee hopefully learned something this year about parity, as they allowed in 11 teams that beat the crap out of each other for three months in to the big dance from the Big East, surpassing the Big East's own record of 8 teams into the NCAA Tournament back in 2008. I'm all for allowing in all the teams that deserved it, but frankly I did not think Marquette did quite enough to get in, and I though the way Villanova ended the season -- including losing in the first round of the Big East tournament to lowly South Florida to cap a horrible second-half slide to their year -- also made them prime ground to be bumped out for a more worthy squad. I mean, the Big East deserved to break that record this year, but they probably should have had just 9, or at most 10 teams in. Crushing the all-time record like that, and allowing in 11 of 16 teams in a conference as a result, was I think kind of a mistake. But don't be one of those clowns who points to the Big East only getting two teams into the Sweet Sixteen. That's just bogus. Number one, nobody ever said that inviting a team into the Big Dance means they are going to win the tournament, or win four games, or win two games. It is and ever was only a way of rewarding a team for a good season, and in that sense the committee let in who they thought deserved to be let in. They let the Ivy League winner into the Big Dance every year...does that mean they think Princeton has a legitimate shot at taking the whole shebang down? Of course not. So just because a lot of the Big East teams didn't last long, that really is not actually related at all to whether they deserved their bids.

Frankly, I think most of the pretty much bad Big East teams lost early, and that is just the way it should be. I mean, I just said up there that I probably would not have let in Marquette or maybe even Nova, but those decisions are defensible to me, and the fact that Nova, Georgetown and Louisville all got crushed early did not surprise me much. I profited from my expecting that in my pools, in fact. Same thing with Pitt and Notre Dame, who paying close attention to the Big East this year led me to have fairly low expectations for come tournament time. The thing with the Big East this year is that, while quite probably the deepest conference in college basketball history, it really was not in my view the best conference in college basketball history. Not by a longshot, really. I don't even think this year's Big East crop was quite as good overall as a couple of years ago, when Villanova and Pittsburgh had that amazing late-tournament showdown. That year, the Big East had about eight teams ranked in the Top 25 all season long, which was sort of like this year although maybe not quite as deep. But that year, the conference also had arguably three of the top four teams in the country in Nova, Pitt and UConn. We were looking at a conference with legitimately five of the ten best teams in the land all concentrated in it, and three or four tournament-worthy teams to boot as well. That was a crazy strong conference in my view. This year's Big East was crazy, crazy deep -- the conference's 9th place team in UConn is very close to winning the national title right now -- but at the top, the small handful of very best teams in the country at no point included anyone from the Big East, all season long. The closest anyone in the conference has come to being one of the country's best is right now, with UConn, who with Kemba Walker is playing as scary as anyone in the sport, but it's the first time all year. The Big East may have had 8 or 9 ranked teams through most of the 2011 season, but very rarely did we have anyone ranked in the top three or four, and not at all more than one at any point. And with soft Pitt and Notre Dame teams at the top of the conference by the time the seedings for the Big Dance were handed out, I did not pick either of those teams to make a deep run. The deepest I had any Big East team going this year was UConn, based on the way they played and the way Kemba Walker stepped up in the Big East tournament, although I did not pick any Big East teams to make this year's Final Four. Which makes perfect sense to me, and certainly does not mean that these teams did not deserve to be in the Big Dance to begin with, but I never thought the conference had a top-5 team in it all year, albeit having several teams in the 5-25 range on the national rankings.

Getting away from the tournament for a minute, the Phillies are heading into the 2011 season with a major whimper, as second baseman Chase Utley sounds to me like he is going to be sidelined for a good couple of month at least with a still-ailing kneee, Brad Lidge is looking like he will start the season on the DL as well, and even star pitcher Roy Halladay took a beaning line drive off the bat of Manny Ramirez right in the back of the head the other day. To this Phillies fan, it feels like the year has slipped away before it even started, and with the problems this team had scoring runs in 2010 as it is, plus the loss of 100-rbi man Jayson Werth's bat from the starting lineup, and Utley likely not 100% if in there at all for a good half the season, things are not looking good for this team to make it back to the World Series anytime soon, even despite their vaunted pitching staff. You heard it here first -- this Phillies squad isn't going to score enough runs to be as great as everyone thinks they're going to be.

Oh and let's not forget Survivor Poker, which is winding to a close here as we have just three players left: smboatdrinks and veryjosie from the original Team Fish, and muchtim from the original Team Donkeys. Since I last checked in about the goings-on at Donkey Island, the Fish fulfilled their plan of banding together as soon as they had snatched the majority back from the Donkeys shortly after the merge, and summarily eliminated the remaining Donkeys player by player by player, until certain members of Team Fish pissed off their own ringleader with backstabbery and deceipt such that their own elimination became more important than finishing off the Donkeys. Thus, muchtim has managed to squeak his way in as the remaining Fish alliance of josie and boat have eliminated their own would-be mutineers in turtle and xkm over the past couple of games. Now on Wednesday, we all have a chance to really impact the outcome of Survivor Poker, because whoever wins immunity out of josie, boat and muchtim gets an automatic pass into the final two, and they get to pick which of the other two remaining players to bring along with them. I think it's a safe bet to assume at this point that the two surviving fish would vote for each other if either of them wins immunity on the day, but the really interesting thing would be if muchtim manages to pull off that feat. Who will muchtim choose to bring along with him to the final heads-up showdown? The person he has been secretly allied with for weeks? Or the person he has been secretly working against all the while? Or are those one and the same person? Wednesday should be good times at the Dank at 10pm ET on full tilt, and I definitely expect to be there along with a nice crowd of bloggers. Take a big chunk of the stack of any of muchtim, smboatdrinks or veryjosie on Wednesday night, and you will be personally influencing the overall outcome of the series in a meaningful way, so hopefully I will see you there for the festivities.

Assuming I am back home in New York by Wednesday night, that is.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Long Live The Dank

As nice as making my second straight flush of 2011 is (the first being the royal flush I posted last week or so), it's even better when it happens in a blogger tournament, and still better at a final table of said blogger tournament. Even better than that, at a severely short-handed table, in this case when down to 3-handed left in the inaugural Dank tournament that finally officially replaces the Mookie as the Wednesday night private blogger tournament. But the best of all has got be when you make a straight flush when down to 3-handed in a private blogger tourmament, and you actually beat another straight flush:

Now granted, we both only used one card from our hands in combination with four obvious straight-flush cards on the board, but still, this one was pretty awesome.

Even more awesome was that it led to this:

So, as was so astutely pointed out by the guys on BDR last night this morning right around 1am, after struggling in vain to win my first Mookie for the better part of three years, publically embarrassing myself countless times with my gaffes and final table blunders, and enduring all the inevitable the late-game coolers and the heads-up suckouts, the guys finally change things over to The Dank, and I take down the very first one. Hopefully this means the curse of the Mookie will die with the name, as I not only won this one but did so by getting lucky in the final hand with A5 vs A6 allin on the flop, in addition to the straight-flush hand above as well as a few other nice rivers along the way.

There is so much more for me to write about right now (Survivor Poker winding down, the NCAA tournament refs butchering yet another March Madness, I could go on and on), but suffice it to say that the last week has been a whirlwind of cross-country travel and back on a couple of large deals at work that have had me absolutely unable to come up for air in any meaningful way for several days on end. I've just barely enough time to get this posted before diving back down deep in yet another 3-hour conference call with a government client lawyer who acts as if he is being paid by the minute for as long as he can drag our negotiation out. So for now this will have to be it, as I will look to get back some of my free time over the next week or two at work and back to my more normal blogging schedule.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Madness is Upon Us

That's right, it's that time of year again. This has got to be the sixth or even the seventh year that I've been writing here during March Madness. Although these first few days of college basketball's championship tournament will always be magical, this year they will get I think a little bit less magical, for two key reasons, both ultimately tied to money and broadcasting of the games.

When the NCAA went out to bid for their new broadcast contract recently, they managed to sign an all-time record deal, pretty amazing when you consider what the economy has been like for the past few years. How did the ever manage to sign for a new record, even as television ad sales are slumping, thus directly weakening the value of the same NCAA package as previous years when ad sales were more brisk? Simple -- they changed the historical NCAA telecast package. For the first time ever, tv brought four separate television networks together to make the historic rights bid for March Madness, and as a result, you'll get to see games this year for the first time not only on CBS but also on TBS, TNT and even TruTV, which I understand used to be the old CourtTV.

You might not think this will impact you much as you watch the games, but I bet you will notice the difference if you are someone like me who in the past has downloaded the special web viewer for all the games, and who stays up all night these next few nights watching those buzzer beater after buzzer beater moments that only the NCAA tournament can provide. First off, the idea of the four networks wasn't just to spread the huge money around that it costs to purchase the March Madness package from the NCAA -- it's also to spread around where the games are shown. You will have games on all four stations during the prime time hours tonight, simultaneously, which can be a positive or a negative depending on your perspective. Yes, you will technically have individual "freedom" to choose which game you want to watch, and to some people that is a big plus, in particular I guess those people with multiple large-screen tvs in their homes. But for me, I'm going to miss all of the switching windows, getting to just plant myself in front of tube, turn on CBS, and vegetate while CBS's producer determines which games to show me, and ends up supplying me with a buzzer beater here, then a last-second just-miss heave for the win here, followed by a ferocious last-minute comeback by the underdog down here, all one after the other after the other. Don't expect to see that this year anymore, because now it will be on you (not on CBS) to switch from one game to the next. And, you're going to have to know real quickly which station on your cable system is TruTV, and where TNT and TBS are. I have had my new cable system for about six months, and to tell the truth I couldn't tell you where TruTV is (or if I even have it at all), and frankly I don't even know for sure about TNT. TBS I watch The Office on from time to time on Tuesdays, so I know that one, but TNT and certainly TruTV are going to be a real problem for me, and even when I find them, it will take days for me to really memorize where each station is.

Also in the chase for the almighty dollar, the NCAA opted this year with their new tv package to switch around the timing of some of their games, in addition to the distribution channels on the television. For the first time, on each of Thursday and Friday, two games were moved from the mid-afternoon slots to the nighttime slots, which was specifically negotiated as part of the plan to increase the overall revenues from the games that are played, in addition to being able to sell ads throughout each individual game which will now be shown in full on the four different tv networks. Two games may not sound like much, but with their removal on Thursday afternoon and on Friday, combined with the more staggered start times the NCAA came up with to help to spread out the afternoon games a little better, those of you who have made a habit in the past of spending the afternoon watching the first two rounds of the NCAAs will I imagine notice the void this year. There should basically always be a game going on starting from shortly after noon through dinnertime, but an some points it will be just the one game, and at others two or three, but not the four or five we have gotten used to in the past. And this trend of moving the games to the prime time p.m. slots will only get more pronounced as the tournament wears on, as even the third and fourth rounds next week and weekend -- when there are far fewer total games to be played -- have been moved to mostly or all prime time games. Gone will be that second weekend of staying home and watching college basketball from 2pm onward on the East Coast as part of March Madness. Those games will still be played, but you'll be looking at almost exclusively night games in the East as we grind our way down towards the Final Four over the next 11 days.

So the games that make up March Madness will be fewer and farther between this time around, and you'll do a lot more flipping with your own remote while you watch because there is set to be a whole lot less of CBS flipping from game to game to make sure we are catching all the exciting endings to these early-round games. But it is still March Madness, and that will always be awesome, the very thing college football wishes it had but doesn't know how to get to given the way the Bowl Games have infiltrated themselves within the conference leadership's psyche by this point in time. Even with the changes this year, these next four days are about as exciting a time in sports as you'll ever find, and as far as I'm concerned noontime can't get here soon enough.

I thought I would give a few general thoughts on the games, the seedings and the tournament in general here before things get rolling in a few hours:

The best teams? Unlike last year, when I singled Duke out as having no shot at winning it all a couple of weeks before they did just that, this year I think Duke is better than most people think. They lost some big experience from the team since last year's National Championship run, but they got a lot bigger and badder on the inside with some of their new pickups, and this Duke team I think floated under the radar quite a bit this season because the ACC was so woefully weak in 2011. But I look for Duke to make a big run and this may be the first time in ages that I pick them confidently to reach the Final Four. Ohio State and Kansas also seem to me to be singularly more talented than all the other teams in their brackets, and should be odds-on favorites to win their regions and advance to the Final Four. And in the Southeast, I predict a wide-open look as many of the top-seeded teams have not been historically strong performers in the Big Dance. In all, it's a year where I think three or four teams have clearly distanced themselves from the pack, but at the same time, one where any one of probably 10 to 12 teams could pull it together and win it all.

Looking at the regions themselves, the toughest region in my view is the East, where top-seeded Ohio State has to deal with a very talented, albeit erratic, UNC squad, a tired but very accomplished and experienced Syracuse team at the 3 seed, and an underrated Kentucy team for the #4. Any one of those teams could come out of that bracket, and, frankly, any one other than OSU could probably lose in the first two rounds without anyone being all that surprised, but there is a lot of talent at the top in the East, moreso than in any other bracket the way I see it. The West is also a strong bracket, as Duke got a tough road to the championship from the Committee for a change, as even though I think SDSU is terribly weak as a #2 seed coming out of that conference, but with the flaming-hot UConn Huskies as the 3 seed and Texas -- who was ranked #1 for the first part of the season this year -- as the #4. The Southeast and the Southwest are really where I think there is a concentration of beatable teams -- in the Southeast, #1 seed Pittsburgh typically does not fare well come Tournament time, Florida is probably overrated as a 2 seed in what was kind of a down year for Billy Donovan's squad, BYU I think is definitely overrated as a 3 given their #2 player being removed for boinking his girlfriend, and the 4-seeded Wisconsin Badgers in this part of the bracket are just getting over scoring all of 36 points in being ousted from the Big Ten conference tournament by lowly Penn State. And the Southwest may be the weakest of all, as powerhouse Kansas got the easiest pass this year IMO with Notre Dame as the 2-seed -- a good team but nothing Kansas shouldn't be able to handle -- Purdue as their typically overrated selves at #3, and Louisville at #4, behind coach Rick Pitino who hasn't run deep into the NCAAs in several years now.

In terms of early-round upsets, I look again to those two weaker regions to see most of the likely action among the worse-seeded opponents, since so many of the top teams in those brackets are actually weaker than their seed would suggest. In the Southwest, I think Vanderbilt at #5 is probably not long for the tournament, and could fall to #12 Richmond in first-round action; and I think my beloved Georgetown team could be in trouble as a 6-seed against VCU who played their way in as an 11 seed after beating USC on Wednesday night. In the Southwest I think things could get even crazier, as I believe #1 Pitt will have their hands full against the winner of ODU - Butler in the first round, and I think both Wisconsin (#4) and Kansas State (#5) could face tough times in their respective first-round matchups against points-differential leader Belmont and tournament-seasoned Utah State, respectively. I also think St. Johns is likely to take down BYU in the 6-3 game if we get that matchup over the weekend as most people seem to expect, after St. Johns beat so many big teams down the stretch this year in the regular season. On the other side of the bracket, I like Marquette to beat Xavier in a close one, although that game is in Ohio so it's hard to get too excited about Marquette's chances there, and I like Missouri to beat Cincinnati in the 6-11 matchup in the West as well, as far as games where I think we could see a significantly lower seeded team making some noise in the early rounds.

I hope everybody enjoys the games today, and may your team go far as long as they aren't playing the Hoyas.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Venetian Deep Stack Extravanganza -- Summer Schedule

I saw this on cmitch's blog, but the Venetian has finally released the schedule for this summer's much anticipated Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza. This tournament will always be near and dear to my heart, and frankly, although the Day 2's leave a lot to be desired in terms of room to play, thanks to a very favorable Day 1 structure the DSE represents a much better tournament bang for your buck than even most of the lower-buyin WSOP events available during June at the Rio.

Although I am waiting for some contingencies to work themselves out before picking my exact dates for my WSOP trip to Vegas this summer, as I have mentioned previously, the odds are very high that my trip will be somewhere between Saturday, June 11 and Monday, June 20, 2011, so I have naturally been focusing as well on which events the DSE will be running on those days. Well, I am happy to report, there are a great many of them, unsurprisingly, mostly all of them very attractive to me.

For starters, on both Saturday and Sunday, June 11-12, as well as on Thursday the 16th and again on Sunday the 19th, there is a $340 nlh tournament at the DSE on each day. Generally I would prefer a higher buyin event, but it is great to know that there is a favorably-structured tournament in no-limit holdem at my favorite poker room in all of Las Vegas on both days of that weekend as well as the middle of the next week, should I opt not to pursue multiple of the myriad $1000 and $1500 nlh events at the WSOP this year. These $340s are a great option for anyone who is out in the desert and yet who does not want to drop the 2k or more often required to play in that day's WSOP tournaments, but who is looking for a great structure and a great location to wile away the hours playing a no-limit holdem tournament, and I may very well be partaking in such offerings during my stay in Sin City in a few months.

Kicking the buyin level up a notch, on each of Wednesday, June 15 and Saturday, June 18, the Venetian is also hosting their standard larger-sized $550 buyin nlh tournaments, which is the buyin where I had my biggest ever poker tournament score a few years back. All things equal, I tend to prefer the events that are above the minimum DSE buyin of $340 for any of their deep stack events, as the $340s therefore will attract the lowest level of poker player, and as a rule I have had somewhat better success playing against that next-level-up opponent than I have at the cheapest buyin level. This is true both in my live play as well as online, where I have logged numerous big mtt scores, but very few of them at the $10 and $20 level, much more focused instead on the $50 to $200 buyin mark for the most part. There is also a $550 buyin PLO tournament in the afternoon on Wednesday, June 15, which is intriguing to me as PLO has always been one of my favorite poker games to play, especially in a tournament format. The only issue there is that it is a re-entry tournament, which means people who are already donking it up in a chase-happy game like PLO will likely be donking it up even more than usual, which can be frustrating unless I am truly willing to drop a couple of buyins getting chasemonkeyed all over the place for a couple of hours. Still, it's yet another nice option to have at the Venetian while the World Series runs on at the Rio.

But it is the higher buyin level still where most of my focus lies, as I look at the DSE schedule during the time I will likely be in Vegas to participate in this tournament series. For example, on Tuesday, June 14 is an interesting $1070 buyin nlh tournament, which frankly may be the perfect buyin level for what I am looking to play in while in the desert, and not one I have had the opportunity to play before at the Venetian. And meanwhile, on both Monday the 13th and Monday the 20th are fatty $1590 buyin tournaments, also no-limit holdem, which is also a buyin level I would give serious consideration to playing as I imagine the prize pools for those badboys could get pretty large depending on the number of players, which should be significant at this time of year. There is even a $2100 buyin tournament on Friday, June 17th, which is attractive for the reasons I stated above, but which I would probably not be as likely to play as I might opt to take a stab at the more prestigious WSOP if I'm going to be shelling out over 2k to run in a big nlh tournament while I am in town.

And make no mistake, this decision ultimately comes down to prestige, and not a whole lot else, at least not for me. Because, as you've probably seen written about in various other forums such that I don't need to rehash it here, there is no doubt that, all other things being equal, I would probably opt for the beauty and comfort of the Venetian over the Rio, and the more favorable buyins, and the more favorable tournament structures and game choices of the DSE over the WSOP every day of the week without much thought if it weren't for the prestige of the WSOP. In particular the tournament structures are not close between the two tournament series, as the lower-buyin WSOP events provide only three or four hours of what I would call solid, deep-stacked play before the tournaments basically turn into all-in preflop luckfests -- believe me, I've been there several times -- whereas the DSE will offer a full day of pretty great structured poker on Day 1, before they come back and ream like you it's a WSOP donkament on Day 2 to get things over with as quickly as possible. But it's that prestige -- that allure of the gold bracelet -- that keeps me considering playing once again in the World Series of Poker this year. I could chop up another five Venetian DSE events and it simply wouldn't mean as much as even final tabling at the WSOP. I mean, can you imagine, cashing in a televised WSOP tournament some year, and when they put up my picture on tv, it says underneath "This is Hoyazo's fifth WSOP cash and third WSOP final table"? Hah! A final table at the World Series of Poker is itself a resume builder that no one can ever take away from you and that everybody in the world of poker immediately knows to respect. And you win one gold bracelet, and your name is suddenly known all across the poker world, and you will forever be enshrined along with the names of all the greats of the game's history who have ever joined you in claiming one of those elusive gold bracelets. I mean, the last time I checked, nobody really cares that I've made a final table at the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza.

Well, nobody except my bankroll, that is.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Donkey Island and Merging Multiple Entries

Since last we got together like this, the dynamics on Donkey Island have changed significantly. The last time I posted about Survivor Poker, the Donkeys and the Fish had merged, but we were still looking at a 5-4 advantage for the former Donkeys and thus the likelihood that if the remaining Team Donkey members just stuck together tight, they could pick off whomever they wanted from Team Fish one by one by one. Instead, however, the exact opposite has happened. After coming into the merge with the Donkeys leading the Fish 6 members to 4, since then we have seen Goat, then Katitude, and now Jamyhawk this past Sunday night get voted off the island by a fairly solid majority, taking three more Donkeys out of the picture, and leaving us at this point with just three Donkeys left (heffmike, muchtim and brainmc) as compared to the four remaining Fish (xkm, iaatg, smboatdrinks and veryjosie).

What the Fish have done here in the past week of play is nothing short of astonishing. As I mentioned above, and frankly as people have been saying on an almost weekly basis since Survivor Poker took off a few weeks back, if the Donkeys had just voted together as a group -- as recently as this very Sunday night -- they could have at least forced a tie, and more likely simply picked who from the Fish to remove, and just gone and done it week after week after week. But just like I wonder why my teammates would have stabbed me in the back when I know I offered them an objectively better alliance then what they were left with once I was gone -- and we've heard the same refrain from many of the other eliminatees in the game thus far -- for some reason the Donkeys could just not keep it together, and the result has been that, amazingly, the Fish have instead been the ones to just pick off a different Donkey after every single tournament over the past couple of weeks.

And the Fish aren't just taking out any old random Donkey members. Noooo, far from it. Just look at the last four people eliminated from Team Donkey here: Jordan, then Goat, then Kat and now Jamy. Although I cannot specifically speak for each of these players, I can say for sure that each of those has been perceived to be one of the "leaders" of that side of the alliance, and probably in most cases has been the single biggest leader of that alliance, and each tournament over the past couple of weeks has ended with the current Donkey heavy being summarily voted off of Donkey Island. Goat helped work to have Jordan eliminated, and then the next week it was Goat being blindsided and removed from play, led largely by Jamy. Now it is Jamy who has taken the step down from surviving player to the tribal council, a week after he, too, thought he had been in control of things, at least on his side of the house. But with five votes coming in for Jamyhawk on Sunday night, it is clear that not only did the four Fish vote for Jamy, but at least one member of the old Donkey alliance has joined in as well.

From a team alliance standpoint, it is fair to say at this point that the Donkeys are decimated. Of the three remaining players who began Survivor Poker as Team Donkeys -- heff, brain and muchtim -- none of them was in the "core alliance" from the beginning, and at this point we are looking more at improvised desperation among those participants than anything resembling team leadership among those three survivors. The Fish alliance, however, is the much more interesting story, as after four consecutive Donkey eliminations, it is clear that the Fish have figured out how to ally and to work together to accomplish their objectives far better than the Donkeys ever did. And now, with just three of the weaker members of Team Donkey remaining, the question becomes: who is next?

Will the Fish look to take out the final three Team Donkey members in succession here going forward as they have done with the last four eliminations? This writer says No. Although the Donkey alliance is obviously completely broken down here, there are new alliances budding between groups on both teams, both large and small, with multiple Fish teammates entering into individual alliances with random Donkeys, as well as the broader teaming among the Fish that has flexed its muscles so powerfully over the past four Survivor Poker tournaments. And I can personally attest to the fact that there is even some talk of potential mutiny within the Fish, as at least one team member has begun plotting the takeout of their own perceived leader, sending out some feelers and looking for support to muster enough votes to shake things up once again.

One thing is clear at this point though, really for the first time in the entire run thus far on Donkey Island -- the next real intrigue among the eliminations is going to come from the Fish, and not the Donkeys. Getting Jordan out was big, and Goat's elimination was just as huge, with Jamy's not far behind as by all rights he was playing both sides almost from the getgo which eventually caught up with him. But at this point, it is where things will go from here on the Fish side that is the most intriguing question right now in Survivor Poker. When will the Fish start turning on themselves instead of devouring the remaining scraps of Team Donkey? And when they do, who will be the first to go? It's a good bet that there has been a pretty solid alliance all the way from the beginning among the Fish, so at some point sooner rather than later here, one of them is going to find themselves in the all-too-familiar position of listening to Buddy count down the votes on BDR and finding that they themselves are suddenly the odd man out. Most recently, it was Josie picking up two votes on Sunday night, and before that SmBoat had gotten a couple of votes on a couple of occasions, so that may be some indication of where there is at least some interest to ruffle some feathers on the Fish side. Personally I think it's high time to turn the attention back on the Fish after two solid weeks of Donkey drubbings in Survivor Poker.

Oh, I should also mention that I had an interesting occurrence happen to me last night, in Goat's $5 multi-entry nlh tournament. We had 73 runners, and I did the maximum four entries even though I didn't have close to enough room on my laptop screen to really keep up. Long story short, I got one nice big stack early, then another, and then another, while one of them remained short and near the bottom of the pack all the way as the players began to drop out. Right around the two hour mark of the tournament, we crossed the threshold below 30 players remaining, and I hadn't been paying that much attention but I still had all four of my entries remaining, even with well more than half of the field gone. Well, fast forward to a few minutes after the second break, and a couple guys got knocked out, and suddenly we were down to 27. And then one of my tables shut down, showing a note that read "Waiting for players to merge...", and before I knew it, two of my entries had combined into one, as I suddenly realized I had four entries left out of 27 entries remaining, and only three tables on which to play them at. So I merged, for the first time I've ever seen, and I can officially tell you it's real. I had often wondered how common that kind of merger would really ever be considering how deep you would have to run with multiple entries just to get to that point where it could even be possible, but here's your answer. In a smallish tournament, you just need a couple of good chip-ups and you can get there.

So I merged, and not even three hands later, I ran AA into JJ allin preflop who sucked out a Jack on the river to knock one of my entires out. About 15 minutes later, I ran KK into 66 on another table allin pre, and fell to a 6 on the flop to take out my second entry. My third entry failed to win a race with KJs vs. 55, and then I was down to just one entry remaining. That last entry did carry me all the way to the final table and a small cash in the tournament, but eventually he, too, succumbed with KK vs a lower pair, allin preflop. What more can you do, right? I was an 80% favorite to win probably about 80% of the chips in play last night between my four deep entry runs, but when you keep picking up AA and KK, playing them to perfection, getting allin dominating before the flop, and continually losing, nobody's gonna be able to overcome that kind of luck. But at least I got to live through the phenomenon of merging two of my multi-entry stacks, something I bet I won't personally experience again for a long, long time in any context.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

This One's for TBA


Unlike some people, royal flushes tend to be an annual occurrence (at most) around these parts. Here's hoping this will be the first of many in 2011!

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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

High Intrigue on Donkey Island Tonight

And then there were nine. Nine players remain on Donkey Island in Survivor Poker, with Julius Goat joining the tribal council after another shocking elimination after Goat's own tournament ended late on Sunday night / early Monday morning. With still five players from the original Team Donkey remaining (heffmike, brainmc, muchtim, katitude and jamyhawk), and just four from Team Fish (xkm, iaatg, veryjosie and smboatdrinks), tonight could be an absolutely crucial vote, and that of course means that outlasting the rest of the surviving team members and winning tonight's individual immunity is of the utmost importance, and could have a huge impact on who is eliminated tonight and on the game in general, depending on who nabs tonight's immunity last-longer prize.

Some might argue that, with the two teams now merged into one giant team, the old demarcations of Fish vs Donkeys do not really apply any longer, and they might be right. But I don't quite see it that way. Sure, you can tell people that the old teams are now gone, and it matters directly in that there is no more team immunity for the longest-lasting surviving player on Donkey Island in the nightly tournaments, but in the end, those original alliances don't just die so easily in my view. You've still got a slight majority for the Donkeys, but that majority shrank to just 5-4 with Goat's ouster last Sunday night, and tonight could see us draw to even, with four members of each original team and each original alliance remaining. That would be a major inflection point in the challenge, because the Fish will have successfully found a way to eradicate what was a pretty significant 6-4 deficit heading in to merged play, and would have done so in a hurry. And, it would free the Fish for the first time since the second event on Donkey Island from having to worry about getting summarily voted out by a simple majority vote of the other team all sticking together and voting as a block, which is a pretty big hammer just sitting out there to be taken under the right circumstances.

Or, things could easily go the other way tonight, with the Donkeys managing to flip a Fish or two onto their side of the voting alliance, and taking out another of the Fish to bring things back down to a 5-3 majority for the former Donkeys over the former Fish, which, at a differential of two, would equal the Donkeys' largest surplus of votes at any point during Survivor Poker so far. The Donkeys regaining their 5-3 lead tonight could be devastating for whichever three Fish manage to survive tonight's vote, as it could leave them in a position where they could easily be picked off one by one by the Donkeys next week until it is nothing but the original alliance of Donkeys left on the island, and then we see who can pull it off under every-person-for-themself rules. Of course who knows if that would be the Donkeys' plan if they regained their 5-3 majority at tonight's Dank tournament, but it would again be possible, based solely on the numbers, if the vote goes their way this evening.

If there's one thing I've learned so far from the shock-a-minute eliminations we've seen so far on Donkey Island, it's that the people who seem to be totally in control of the entire game one week, often seem to end up on the outside looking in the very next. And one can only assume that that trend will continue tonight and on into the series. And with that in mind, I am beginning to see two distinct voting teams re-forming right now on Donkey Island, each of which I think is likely considering its options on how to take out the perceived leader of the other team. Do they think they can get the other alliance's perceived leader out tonight? If so, they will probably try it tonight. If not, how many and who among the other survivors need to be eliminated first, so that the other alliance's leader will not be able to survive a vote-off? Or, will a third faction spring up, a counter-culture push against one or both of those perceived to be "leading the pack" on the two respective sides breaking down roughly along the original team lines? We've seen that happen at least once before already over the past few weeks, so you certainly can't count that out tonight either as a possibility.

My guess? I'm thinking we will probably see a vote targeted at the perceived leaders of the teams tonight, and quite possibly the closest vote yet of all those we've seen on Donkey Island. Who ends up on the outside after tonight is still very much anyone's guess. And don't forget that immunity bounty, which will be basically huge from here on out, as it increases in value as the number of survivors continues to shrink with every passing tournament. If the right (or wrong) person lasts longest tonight, we could have a slew of votes needing to be changed sometime after midnight ET this evening, and again we've already seen from my own elimination how things can get turned totally on their heads in the bustle and rush that something like that can cause.

In any event, why don't you be there to enjoy, participate in, and even affect the outcome on Wednesday night? The Dank is tonight at 10pm ET under the "Tournament" -- "Private" tabs on full tilt, with a password as always of "vegas1". And at just an $11 buyin, why not stop by and make your first foray ever into the private blogger tournaments? All are welcome, and who among us doesn't love a good virgin from time to time?

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Monday, March 07, 2011

Survivor Poker: And the Insanity Continues

The Goat held his weekly $1 rebuy this past Sunday night as the Survivor Poker challenge continues on Donkey Island, and -- this is getting kind of tiring saying the same thing over and over and over again every morning after one of these events -- but I simply cannot believe who got voted off. The latest victim? Julius Goat himself.

The Goat is Gone! The creator. The godfather. He is out, voted out by receiving 6 out of 9 votes, and something tells me that we were surely looking at yet another one of those disbelieving moments as Goat listened to the final tally counted out live by Buddy Dank on BDR. Goat will I am sure comment on things himself as he wishes, although I can say from personal experience my backstab-elimination did take several hours for me to be able to write about it in an appropriately objective manner, so I would expect the same from Goat today. But something tells me that Mr. Goat had no idea that this was coming, and if the recent pattern holds true, he probably had every reason to believe that a specific other person was set to be booted on the night.

So NumbBono is out. Al is history. I am gone. Jordan is busto. And now Goat has vanished from Donkey Island as well. It certainly does seem that a lot of people who at least have played some role as Alpha Wolf have found themselves just one or two short events later the subject themselves of an elimination vote. Is that common on the tv show? It certainly does not seem like something that would be common. Guys one week contributing to the decision to vote someone else out en masse, and then the very next week they themselves are voted out? How does that happen anyways? What are the inner workings of a team that totally takes one person's vote one week, but then bands together in secret to vote that very same person out as a group just a few days later? Maybe it's because I have never even one time watched the show, but I simply do not understand the deep-down inner workings of the team members here. I guess there is a lesson right there in that, but I'm just not getting it.

Several of us have asked the same thing upon our eliminations: why didn't the alliance members just stick with the agreed-upon plan? Now, in my case I give a 10% reprieve to my teammates, because Dawn winning the individual immunity threw a huge monkey-wrench into our plans as we had basically already cast our votes for her before she even busted wolfshead to nab immunity for that night. But still, there was plenty of time and the team had standardized on another teammate to vote out. And although nothing exactly specific has been written to this effect, suffice it to say that, in addition to myself, Jordan and I imagine at least one other of the knockouts so far has believed they had a solid voting alliance heading into the actual reading of the votes. So what is it that makes someone on Survivor Poker deviate from a plan -- a plan that is pretty much guaranteed to carry them at least another few weeks without issue into the challenge -- in favor of a different plan, championed by another person who you just know is by definition ultimately trying to dick you over just as much as you are them? These are the things that just fly right over my head as things continue to play out in shocking fashion on Donkey Island.

But one thing that isn't going over my head is the likelihood of the various remaining players taking this thing down. Through a number of unnamed sources, I'm starting to develop a picture of what things are like on the inside right now on Donkey Island, and although I am sure that will change about ten more times between now and the time we crown a champion I guess in a little over a month or so, I think after this week's Dank tournament might be the right time to start posting my odds on who will survive Survivor Poker. After this week, a full half of the field will be eliminated, and if there's one thing I am happy for it is that my coverage so far of Survivor Poker has not included pre-game odds, which surely would have had guys like Goat and Jordan and probably Numb as well running pretty deep into the field before hitting any real resistance. So sometime after Wednesday night -- maybe as late as this weekend -- I will hopefully get up my first post about the eight remaining players and my thoughts on what they are exactly up to in the game, how they've survived so far, and just how far into the inner circle they may actually be, culminating in listing the odds in Hoy fashion for each survivor of taking this entire thing down.

That is, if the contestants don't do something so outlandish on Wednesday that I just have to write about that instead.

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Friday, March 04, 2011

Survivor Thoughts

Don't forget that the first event of Survivor Poker: Donkey Island with the two teams merged down into one will be the Goat this Sunday, which will be back as the $1 rebuy extravaganza that it was before taking a quick $5 multi-entry spell in this past Sunday's festivities. With the teams set to merge and move into the second phase of what I am sure will only become more and more interesting and fun as it goes along, I thought I would take some time on a Friday and post some quickie thoughts I have or reactions I have to others' posts about the game.

For starters, I want to make the point that I am pleased that we seem to have at least one other person out there -- in this case, Jordan -- who gets it when it comes to the eliminations in this game. I mean, it's Survivor, folks. The whole point of the game is to make alliances with people to ensure your own survival until...well...until you have to dick the other person over to preserve yourself. It sounds selfish, but it's not -- it's the whole point of the game! Even though most of the eliminations so far seem to have involved a fair amount of lying and backstabbery, in the end getting all bent out of shape because some other person or person stabbed your back, thereby not letting you survive until you could stab their back which you would necessarily by definition be looking to do, just makes no sense at all. Yes, I can speak from personal experience that it really kind of stings in the moment when you keep hearing your name called as the votes are being counted, even when your entire team had already promised you they would be voting for someone else, but give it a short time and you will hopefully see it for what this is -- a bunch of people trying to play at its heart a selfish game as best as they can. And ultimately it's nothing more than that -- just a game -- and personally I haven't seen anything so far that makes me think there is anything sinister or dick about the decisions that have been made at all. It's just people jockeying for position among their teams -- and now the group at large -- and all trying to do what they think will help them -- individually -- best to win in the end. So kudos to Jordan for rolling with his surprise elimination the other day, as is clearly the only way to be.

Secondly, in his parting post as his submarine was leaving Donkey Island, Jordan made a number of recommendations for how to improve the Survivor Poker experience the next time around, and I thought I would react to those as well as chipping in with some of my own thoughts on this point.

For starters, I want to voice my complete and 100% agreement with Jordan's feeling that the longest-lasting member of the losing team should win individual immunity from that night's vote. Actually, let me clarify that somewhat -- I actually think the individual immunity bounties added to the Donkey Island experience so far during team play, and I probably would not have changed that situation much to be honest. However -- and this is something that I would not at all wait until Survivor Poker II to change, but rather would enact right now, prior to the merged teams begin play on Sunday night -- but now with the teams merged as one and ten players fighting it out each week, I don't see how this goes on without the longest-lasting surviving member in each tournament automatically winning individual immunity for that tournament. I know so far the vote-offs indicate a real desire of those still involved to take the poker skill out of the equation, but poker is after all a quantitative endeavor, and poker tournaments are by definition comparative and combative, and I just think it is obscene to think that someone could outlast everyone else and then get voted out that night. Although personally I would prefer the longest-lasting of the remaining players to win immunity, at an absolute minimum, if someone outright wins that night's tournament, for them to be subject to a vote-off just sticks a finger right in the eye of the poker aspects of this endeavor. I think, if we're going to have this be Survivor Poker, then the only responsible thing to do is to award immunity each week -- at least for the next several tournaments while we still have a nice big group to choose the next dickoveree from -- to the person who outlasts all others in each of the private games that are part of the challenge. Not only is this only fair in any sense of the word as I see it, but I know this would make the games themselves more important and thus ultimately more exciting for everyone involved. Make everyone play their best poker in each one of these tournaments in order to ensure their own survival. It just has to be, and it's a rule I am hoping that Buddy and Goat will announce heading into Sunday night's action at the Goat.

Jordan also suggested moving up the start times for our tournaments. This is an interesting one, because for one thing, tournaments like the Mookie have always been running at 10pm ET, although I have to admit that, like Jordan, in my old age what used to seem like a perfectly acceptable start time now seems every week like a requirement to stay up way too late and be way too tired for work in the morning. That said, personally I do not think we need to change the start time of the Dank just for Survivor Poker, in particular if the West Coasters in the group are going to miss the tournaments due to timing issues relating to having to get home from work, get settled, etc. all before a 6pm ET start time (if we were to move the Dank from 10pm to 9pm ET). I would be willing to stay up until 1am every Wednesday for a few more weeks in order to keep the Buddy where it is and allow the West Coasters to get home on a work day. That being said, I am in violent agreement with Jordan once again, when it comes to the Sunday night tournament. I know Goat was kind enough to start his weekly event at 9:30pm instead of 10pm ET, and under normal circumstances that extra half an hour might be just enough of a tweak to make the timing work better for us New Yorkers. My issue here is that the Sunday events run longer than the Buddy's, because so far they have either been a monkey rebuy or a multi-entry tournament, each of which leads to longer start times due to the rebuy aspects, and plus they also lead to much larger stacks for the players, which itself even makes the later stages of the tournament last longer than they otherwise would. The end result is that, on what is essentially a work night, us East Coasters are finding ourselves staying up until 1am or later on these Sundays just to finish out our run and fight as hard as we can for our teams or, now, hopefully for individual immunity as well. If we are going to continue with the longer-form formats like multi-entry and rebuys for The Goat, then I would suggest a 9pm ET start time for those events -- it's a Sunday, so there should not be much of an issue with people making it home from work, and over just a few more weeks it hopefully would not be a huge burden on anyone from the Left Coast to make it in time to play the first hour fairly well. We've had plenty of regular blogger tournaments at 9pm ET and the time seems to work well for everyone -- lest I remind everyone that back in the day, the ole' WWdN on pokerstars used to start at 8:30pm ET, and regularly pulled in well over 100 players. So people can make themselves available for a 9pm ET start time, and Sunday is a great day to do that based on its weekend status and the fact that our Sunday games have thus far been structured to run a little longer than the Wednesday night Dank tournaments in any event.

Jordan also commented generally that he thinks the $1 rebuy format is not a good one to retain. Not sure I can agree with him there -- although, interestingly, I agree with his general analysis of this particular game as a total donkfest that encourages bad players to make bad plays and then suck out. That's clearly what it is, we see it acted out over and over again every time we get together to play a $1 rebuy format, and there's just no debating that that is exactly what goes down during Monkey Hour in this thing. But I'm just not sure I agree that we should therefore get rid of it. In a post chock full of good ideas from Jordan, this is the one I am not sure I understand the logic of. I'm not saying I would personally select a $1 rebuy format for this event if I were in charge, but frankly, I kind of like the rebuy format in general -- in particular if the time is moved up an hour more, and the rebuy hour kept to 30 minutes as in the second Goat tournament on Donkey Island a couple of weeks back, and I certainly don't question Goat's decision to go with it. I could see, however, bumping it up a little from the minuscule $1 buyin to something more like $5 for the rebuy maybe, but frankly I kind of like the rebuy format, and I certainly don't see something so wrong with it as to question Goat's judgment on what game to bring to the table for his Sundays.

But I do once again agree with Jordan's last piece of advice, which was to keep things interesting with new twists. Frankly I think Buddy has done a great job of doing that so far, and I am looking for this to continue as we head into "Merged Play" now that the teams are done for. I understand that this is something the show itself does very well as a rule, and I would look for more of the same from Buddy et al over the ensuing few weeks. And, as someone who has been eliminated from the game already but who remains highly interested in not only the outcome but in the game play along the way to get us there, let me also mention that I am hopeful that Buddy and his crew can find some ways to get the Council more involved in some of these games -- be it through continued individual immunity bounties, team play linking a particular surviving player with a particular already-eliminated player and adding up their scores to see who gets that week's individual immunity, etc. Perhaps the Council could vote on the format or the gimmicks for some of the later tournaments? Maybe some of the other tournament formats available on full tilt -- multi-entry, bounties, heads-up, etc. -- could be integrated into the game in some fun way? It would be cool when down to 3 or 4 players left, if they had to win a best-of heads-up series or something to determine who is in and/or who is out? I don't know how all of this would work exactly, but the specifics were never my area of expertise. The suggestions and the improvement is my area of expertise, and as you know I am never short on those, so those are some thoughts I have to help keep the series fresh as we move into the second phase of the game.

Lastly, I wanted to say that one trend that has become clear with the elimination votes so far -- and that I think probably speaks volumes about who might be targeted for a vote-off next -- but that I have not seen mentioned anywhere is that a lot of the people being voted off seem to be those among the participants with the most "pomp" on their blogs. Now, I'm using the word "pomp" very loosely here, in the sense of "pomposity" -- that is, the blogs that come off as being written the most pompously. Now, this is of course not meant as an insult to anyone, because lord knows nobody's fits that bill better than my own, but suffice it to say that I would categorize both Numb, myself and Jordan at least somewhat in that category. Any one of our blogs over time could easily be the place where you go and read a rant about some other d-bag's bad play against us, or a lengthy post describing how we played such great poker at such-and-such tournament recently, or even something like actually presuming to make recommendations to help improve Survivor Poker, that has been going so well already on its own without our "help". But I can't help but notice that those people with blogs like this have not fared so well on Donkey Island so far, and I would not be shocked if that continues now that the teams are merged. There aren't many left, but there are at least one or two people remaining whose blogs you can go to right now and you can read some things in the recent archives that simply reek of pomp. I would not be the least bit shocked to see those people's time on Donkey Island coming to an end shortly.

So what do people think? Will the next elimination be one of the former Team Fishees, with the 6-4 majority of former Team Donkeyites enforcing their will over their newly-merged competitors? Or will the Donkeys relish in booting off Jordan the other day, and take the opportunity to join with the surviving Fish members to continue to clean out their own house? Only one way to find out live as it happens -- play the Goat on Sunday night at 9:30pm ET on full tilt (password is "survive"), and tune in to Buddy Dank Radio, including after the end of the tournament when Buddy has done an exceedingly good job of building the suspense as he reads out the votes and announces the latest elimination from Survivor Poker.

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Thursday, March 03, 2011

The Fish Roar Back on Donkey Island

And the hits just keep on coming in Survivor Poker. Not to be outdone by what we've seen already happen in just a few short weeks on Donkey Island, Wednesday night's Dank tournament brought a couple of new shocking surprises. For starters, Team Fish outlasted Team Donkey for only the first time since I won the opening tournament of the series, meaning that the Fish won a key battle to allow themselves to retain their four remaining team members, and instead force the Donkeys to show us all a little more about who is in charge of their own alliance as they would have to vote a player off of their team here in the last tournament before the two teams merge and it becomes every person for themselves.

But the bigger shock to me had to be who the Donkeys voted out, although I guess at some point I have to stop acting all shocked when this happens and just accept that this is the way the game is going. Jordan has been eliminated in what I can only describe as a major upset, and I will be honest in admitting that I lost a little bit of coin on two prop bets each of which involved Jordan being alive in the competition at least for another couple of weeks.

One trend I just don't think can be denied at this point is that the vote-off selections have little to nothing to do with poker prowess. Or, should I say, the teams do not seem to be keeping around the people who are perceived to be the best blogger tournament players. The Fish got rid of Al and myself pretty quick on our half of the bracket, and in two chances the Donkeys now voted off Numb and Jordan, surely two of their strongest competitors from a poker perspective. And frankly, I can see the refreshingness to these decisions. I mean, this is not the way that I would be handling the eliminations personally, but it's nice for a change that a bunch of bloggers have gotten together for a tournament series, and yet the ultimate winner of the series is not the person who plays the best in the tournaments. That's not something we've ever done before as a group, and I think what we're finding is that the participants are revelling in that, in their chance to make a run at a trophy without the pressure of needing to necessarily play the best or last the longest or win the most tournaments, what have you. On Donkey Island, the tournaments all matter, and who gets voted off can and has been greatly influenced by what happens in our tournaments, but at the end of the day the guys who in my view seem like the most skilled blonkament players seem to have very short half-lives. It's an interesting twist on the usual blogger tournament series, and one that I am enjoying. From the rail. Thanks to my own former teammates.

Seriously though, both Josie and Iaatg played excellent games at the Dank on Wednesday, both of them cashing along with myself and Joanada, and ultimately the two of them went head to head for a few hands before iaatg nabbed the title. Jordan managed to last the longest of the Donkeys (again), but eventually after amassing a number of big stacks he finally succumbed to the pressure of the blinds after seeing himself slip to the bottom of the leaderboard with 5 or 6 runners remaining. But iiatg and Josie really played smart, never once getting out of line as the pressure mounted and the number of Donkeys remaining shrank and shrank, and they fully earned the right not to have to vote someone out on Wednesday before the merger of the two teams. It was a well-fought win and well-deserved by my former teammates to preserve I think any real chance they have of survival once the merger occurs heading into the next tournament. Now down just 6-4 of the ten remaining players, the Fish gave themselves a fighting chance at near-even teams and alliances by ensuring they would not need to eliminate another team member.

Oh, and my individual immunity bounty? No dice. Several people tried, and I eliminated two Team Donkey members along the way, but nobody could take me out until the last of the losing team members in Jordan was finally eliminated. Eventually I pushed AJ into iiatg's AK when down to 4-handed and iiatg took me out, but at that point the immunity was worthless because the Fish had already secured victory and knew they would all be immune from elimination on the night.

So, with Jordan now gone, the list of my pre-tournament favorites in Survivor Poker continues to shrink, and this is really, truly anyone's game. You've got the series creator in Julius Goat still alive, and you've got several people who've been around for ages in Katitude, Heffmike and BrainMc, in addition to a number of newer or more recent bloggers like Josie, muhctim, iiatg and others still lurking in the weeds. I will repeat what I said a couple of weeks ago -- and Jordan's elimination last night only furthers this case -- but this thing might come down to a contest to see who has done the least in their blog to annoy or irritate the other bloggers who are a part of this competition. A guy like myself, or Jordan, we've got years and years worth of many many many posts on our blogs, we tell it like it is and we speak our minds, and I can only assume that what has been seen and interpreted on Jordan's blog over time makes some contribution to his being voted off last night, whether he or even the other voters explicitly realize that or not. A number of the remaining participants in Donkey Island as the teams merge together are clearly not in that boat, as they either don't blog much, are relatively new to the scene entirely, or simply don't generally make many controversial or direct statements in their blog to get other readers' dander up. I think I'm going to wait another week or so before I post some odds on the remaining players, but we've got a number of strong poker players and solid writers whose blogs I enjoy left to compete for the last ten spots on Donkey Island.

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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Hoy Bounty on Donkey Island

Not only is tonight's Dank tournament (why hasn't the name been changed on full tilt yet btw?) the latest tournament in the Survivor Poker series, but it's a very special one at that. What, you ask, could be more special than Team Fish's last chance to get another member of Team Donkey voted off of Donkey Island prior to the merging of the remaining members of the two teams?

Tonight's immunity bounty will be on...Yours Truly.

That's right. Come to tonight's Dank, the former Mookie which at one time years ago was the very bane of my existence as a tournament poker player, at 10pm ET on full tilt (password as always is "vegas1"), where anyone can play and anyone can make a run at head. But it's the final 11 participants in Survivor Poker that will be gunning for me the most -- or gunning for you if you manage to take me out and are not one of those final 11 players -- because if they knock me out, they will win immunity from elimination for the night, which as I mentioned is the last night of Team Play. One unlucky soul will be summarily booted off of Donkey Island in the wee hours of the morning after the Dank is over, falling one final vote short of surviving to the point when the teams merge and things really start to get interesting.

We've already seen one example where winning the individual immunity bounty literally saved someone's least until the next elimination vote, that is. The night I was voted off of Team Fish, Dawn Summers had basically been marked for elimination until she knocked out a hobbled Wolfshead and took down that night's immunity bounty. In the scramble of the ensuing couple of hours, I was nearly unanimously removed from the team in Dawn's stead, and Dawn went down in the next tournament when the Fish again had to elect someone to kick out of the game. So the immunity bounty is a big deal, and depending on exactly whose hands it ends up in, it can make a major difference.

To make matters even more interesting, Team Fish's Very Josie has put a $20 bounty on the head of Team Donkey player Heffmike for tonight's tournament, and come tournament time there may be other bounties in effect as well, in addition to the individual immunity bounty on my own head. So there is a lot of cash and valuable prizeware available as bounties in tonight's Dank, in addition to the fun of slinging chips with some of the best poker playing bloggers you read every day.

So hopefully I'll see you all for the Dank tonight at 10pm ET on full tilt!

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