Hand of The Week – Week 135

I don’t know about you but I cannot abide “Hollywooding” at the poker table.

There’s one player in particular I’ve noticed while multi tabling sit n gos recently. When you shove all in he always takes until the last second to fold. Every time! He must know full well that he is folding but he puts everyone through this performance every time he faces an all in.  It gets tiresome because when you play turbo sit n gos you get to face a lot of all ins!

Maybe the first time you’ll think “close decision there – perhaps he’ll look me up next time.” But by the 20th time it is just a joke. Yeah mate, we get the message, you don’t like being set all in. None of us do.

I can only imagine what an arsewipe he’d be at a live game. I bet he’s one of these players who chirps up whenever anyone raises his blind, trying to draw everyone’s attention to your “loose game” pretending to be good natured, but in reality just moaning and whining and doing everything instead of playing back at you like a man.

Well last Friday I ran into something even more extraordinary. This was Mr Hollywood himself – someone I discovered while playing my Bounty game. He didn’t just Hollywood when somebody raised him. This character would Hollywood if someone limped on to his big blind! Perhaps “Hollywooding” isn’t even the right word to use for this bloke because that implies that some sort of act was going on. He just took the maximum time, or very close to it, over every decision.

The effect this had on the game was something else. This tournament starts at 9pm and usually gets 50 runners (we had 51 on Friday). It has 10 minute levels for the blinds and is always done and dusted by 11.30pm. This game on the other hand?

With Mr Hollywood in attendance it just went on forever. It finally finished at 12.36am, over 3.5 hours after we’d begun. What makes this staggering is that at the first break (at 10pm) we were down to 19 players from the starting 51. We were well ahead of schedule!

Mr Hollywood simply refused to get eliminated and we eventually ended up heads up for 30 dreary hands. But it was three handed where the real agony took place. We entered 3 handed play at 11.25pm. At 12.25am we were still 3 handed. That was a mind boggling 104 hands later! Usually the entire final table is over in less than that. Do bear in mind that most of these 104 pots were done and dusted preflop or on the flop because we were three handed. It was utter torture.

The thing is it just made me try harder.  There’s no way I wanted to lose to a player whose only tactic seemed to be to bore everyone to death.  I played as if that €100 bounty was the crown jewels. My precious, precious bounty.  Even when there were setbacks I stood resolute in the face of tedium. I would not be perturbed! Heads up I turned a 2-1 chip advantage into a 2-1 chip disadvantage. But I just thought “so be it, just means I have to grind HIM down now.”  Finally I managed it, with this beautiful hand, 6-2 offsuit. He called my min raise with 8-5 and we flopped 2-5-2. This prompted an all in shove which I gleefully called (I’ve changed the names to protect the innocent).  And believe me it was always going to take a hand like that to see the back of this guy.

Mr Hollywood 18-09-2014 13-37-17

At the end there was the usual rounds of “wp, gg” and all that. I looked at the time and it was 12.36am, over 3 and a half hours after we’d started.  I said truthfully “That was torturous”.  And off I went to make a well earned cuppa.

I looked back at the table about 10 minutes later. I’d left the table open (a little habit I’ve got when I win tournaments, as if it somehow extends the glory :) ). And I spotted something in the chat.  He had actually said “sorry”.

I feel a bit bad now.

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Poll of The Week

I don’t think we’ve done a politics related poll of the week before but seeing as it’s so very topical right now (translation – there’s been nothing else on the TV for days on end) this week’s question will be about Scottish Independence.

This week’s question is: what percentage of Scots will vote “YES” for Independence ?

Answer this week’s poll and leave a comment with your Twitter username to be in with a chance of winning a token for my Bounty competition.

The polls seemingly have it “neck and neck”. Well that’s what they tell us anyway, but I’m not so sure it will be that close.  I suspect a lot of the people who claim they “don’t know” how they will vote are just worried that they’ll get put upon Braveheart style by belligerent nationalists if they admit they don’t actually want independence. I also think the press plays up how close it all is to make it sound more exciting than it really is, but we’ll know soon enough. The telling statistic after the voting takes place will be how many Scots actually vote “yes”.

All I know is that I haven’t seen so many economically illiterate assessments and genuinely dishonest economic forecasts, since ooooh, probably the last time a bunch of politicians got together and started talking about economics and making forecasts.  And that the English politicians are a bit worried (also that Alex Salmond is a bit of a clown.) 

Deutsche Bank have predicted a doomsday scenario for Scots if they vote “yes” to independence, akin to the great Depression of the 1930s indeed. And as we all know, we can really trust the opinions of banks (in this case a German bank which isn’t even incorporated in either of the countries that it professes to advise) because they are completely altruistic and never lobby for their own narrow self interest.

Congratulations to @ironnutzpoker for winning last week’s poll.

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Friday’s Caption Competition

Time for another caption competition! But first of all, the password for the Freddie Mays Bounty tournament at 9pm tonight is:

topactor

What better subject matter to choose for this week’s caption competition than Paralympic athlete and top actor (and definitely non-murderer) Oscar Pistorius?

Bailed today (que?) after being found guilty of culpable homicide he will return for sentencing in another month. Because after an entire month’s delay to read out a verdict they obviously need another month to work out a sentence (because no way this could have been worked out in the last month they just took off, see?) Perhaps they could send him for psychiatric reports more another month (again)?

Here’s a picture of the man-of-the-moment doing what he does best – no, not breaking down toilets doors with er a cricket bat, but running really fast.  Submit your caption on Facebook for your chance to win a token to my bounty tourney next week.

Oscar

Congratulations to David O’Connor for winning last week’s competition with: “not everybody at Aston Villa left deflated on transfer deadline day – celtic3x”

blow-up-doll-on-sky-sports-news-transfer-deadline-day

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Hand of The Week – Week 134

A bit of light relief from this week’s hand of the week.

It’s one of those hands which although doesn’t quite make the category of “worst play you’ve ever seen” definitely hails from the annals of “what a strange was to play your hand”.

The stakes were low which might explain the laughable play on the river of this hand by my opponent.

You could tell he was a bit novicey by the way he would limp in to most pots and call most preflop raises or 3-bets”just to see a flop” regardless. He would also carry on if he caught any part of the flop and luckily for him it was working. He was hitting flops and winning chips and built up quite a stack in this 6 man sit n go.

On the hand in question the blinds were 100-200 and I had 1440 chips vs his 3860. I was in the big blind with 3♣-4♠ ready to fold and he limped in like he did every hand, this time from under the gun (although I doubt he knew if he was in early position or not.) Everyone else folded so it was just me and him. I checked my option.

The flop was 5 4♣ 2

I figured I was ahead and that he probably limped in with two overcards to the flop but I checked it anyway because there are still lots of cards that improve my hand. The turn was a 6d so I now I had my straight. With three diamonds on board I thought it was time to start betting so I bet 200 and he called. Immediately I wished I had bet bigger because the river gave us the ace of diamonds.

Sigh. Four diamonds on board and I don’t have one.  This was frustrating. I’d had pocket queens and AKs in this game and no-one wanted to play with me. Now I’d seen my straight flushed down the toilet. I could bet small here and represent the flush myself (folding to a raise obviously) but I didn’t want to waste any chips because I’d be bottom of the pile if I lost the hand. We all had similar stacks bar our chipped up odd ball.

I checked. He checked it back to me and in the second it took for the cards to be revealed I said to myself “great he checked it back, he probably doesn’t have a diamond.”

Unfortunately he did. The KING of diamonds. He had K-9 with the king of diamonds!

Absolute disbelief from my end. See for yourself – moves 17 and 18 where I checked first and he checked back the nuts at me.

po

“You just checked back the nuts to me!” I exclaimed.

He had the stone cold nuts and, last to act, had just checked it back to me.

“I didn’t want to scare you away with a bet”

…..came the inexplicable, utterly bonkers reply

Well what can you say to that?

Needless to say I was eliminated before him and he gave me the old “bye Freddie” send off. :)

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Poll of The Week

OK, it’s mythical sit n go time.

With Dan Colman’s victory in the Seminole Poker Open – his FOURTH prize of over $1m this year (an utterly ridiculous feat), I had a ganders at the all time money list just now.  The 23 year old Colman, who I had never even heard of until a few months ago, is now third with $21.5m behind Daniel Negreanu ($29.8m) and Antonio Esfandiari ($26.3m).

Does the money list accurately represent the talent out there? Well yes and no.

The list is massively skewed due to WSOP main event winners (eg Jamie Gold 13th), and the emergence of super high roller events over the past few years. But even so, I reckon the top 10 looks about right. Everyone has their favourites – eg I’d have Carlos Mortensen in my top 10 and probably Mike McDonald too – but on balance the top 10 seems quite fair to me.

It’s funny how you look down the all time money list and think “but he’s broke, he’s definitely broke, him as well!” But of course the money list just counts prize money. It doesn’t deduct your entry fees, not to mention travel expenses. (One interesting name in 19th place: Gus Hansen with $11.25m of tournament winnings, yet DOWN $17m playing online and that’s just on one site. Incredible.)

This week’s question is: Who would win a 10 man sit n go out of the money list’s all time top 10 players?

Answer this week’s poll and leave a comment with your Twitter username to be in with a chance of winning a token for my Bounty competition.

Congratulations to @pcbunter for winning last week’s poll.

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Friday’s Caption Competition

Time for another caption competition! But first of all, the password for the Freddie Mays Bounty tournament at 9pm tonight is:

skydolls

Watching Sly Sports on deadline day for hours on end can actually get quite boring and repetitive but this time there were a few interesting incidents to spice up the day. Having backed Harry Redknapp’s QPR to make the most signings at 5-1 I was more interested than usual in Harry’s car window musings. So imagine my surprise when the intrepid wheeler dealer didn’t stop in his Range Rover (windows up indeed!) and sped away from Sky’s man with the mike.

“No worries” I thought. “It must mean he’s really busy“. Alas, my bet was a loser, Harry seemingly losing his touch with his failure to sign DeFoe and then Borini – who, to be fair to Redknapp – wanted 90k a week to play for QPR! As darkness drew in there was bad language galore from the assembled crowds outside the stadiums, leading to quick cuts back to the studio for apologies. Then a purple dildo was waved in a reporter’s ear just as he was delivering some non-news, before this little incident which also prompted a quick cut to the studio and yet another grovelling “please don’t ban us from screening people stood outside stadiums OFCOM – what would we ever do on deadline day?” Submit your caption on Facebook for your chance to win a token to my bounty tourney next week.

blow-up-doll-on-sky-sports-news-transfer-deadline-day

It was all soured for me when Utd signed the actually rather very good Radamel Falcao, at gone 1.30am. I mean what is the point of having a dealine if they just allow clubs to miss them? 11pm deadline….missed, extended first we were told until midnight…missed, then it transpired to be until 1am…..missed again, 1.30am….STILL no deal…….oh just conclude it whenever you want, you’re Man Utd and Falcao is really good after all and we can’t spoil the precious BRAND/PRODUCT. Harrump!

Congratulations to Kevin jones for winning last week’s competition with: “I know wot ur thinking boss but I retired (…cybererie)”

Giggsy van Gaal

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There’s an Overlay at Seminole today

Got a joke for you….

What does a Mexican put under his carpet?

“Underlay, underlay!”

Oh yes, the old ones are the best. That came out a few times during the World Cup I can tell you. (Oh dear I just had a horrible flash back to that dreadful Holland 2 Mexico 1 game where Robben cheated and van Gaal gave it the big one about how clever he was for having a tactical discussion during the drinks break because nobody ever thought of that before…aaaargh BEGONE foul memory!)

Anyway it’s not underlays I want to talk about today, it’s overlays.

The word “overlay” is music to tournament players’ ears. When a tournament has a prize pool which is guaranteed and not enough players register to make up that guarantee then you have an overlay. Naturally, overlays are bad news for tournament organisers.

Say for example a tournament is guaranteed to distribute a minimum of $10,000 in prize money and the entry fee is $100. The tournament organisers won’t be very happy if only 70 players register because they’ll only collect $7000 in entry money (I’m excluding fees in this example) and have to pay out the $10,000 that they guaranteed. They only “guarantee” in that case is that they would lose $3000.

But of course this spells value for the players!

Well collectively it does because not every player “wins”. You’d need to actually make it into the money to capitalise so only a few players benefit, but one thing is for sure: the organisers have a big headache when guaranteed tournaments don’t fill up.

And a headache is what the organisers at the Seminole Hard Rock in Florida had this week. In what was the biggest case I’ve ever heard of, there was a mammoth $2.5m overlay at the Seminole. The tournament was a $10m guaranteed job to start with. Well I say “was”, it still is a $10m guaranteed event and as far as I know the payout structure will be honoured – it is due to finish today.

The organisers probably thought they would be OK given last year’s turnout. The $5300 buy in event attracted 2384 entries and they easily beat the 2000 that was required to make the $10m prize money. But not this time……

…cue much smirking and schaudenfraude and “heads will roll for this” type of commentary.

I do feel a bit sorry for them. It can’t be nice having to play out the whole event knowing you will be $2.5m down when it is over. It can’t make for a happy atmosphere amongst the staff.

The trouble is, what can they do? The whole point of offering the guarantee is to tempt people to buy in and everyone would rightly complain if they tried to renege.  (Americans will hold you to this sort of thing.)

But can’t they just welch on the deal and stick two fingers up? Well this has been tried before unsuccessully. The “Partouche Pokers”, a French outfit, tried this tactic in September 2012. They attempted to remove all traces of the guarantee, taking down posters and web pages and the like. But you know where the internet is concerned this never works. They were exposed, there was outrage, they got embarrassed and they eventually had a change of heart, coughing up the overlay. But what if they literally just didn’t have the money? Well I’m not really sure about that one! It would probably get messy.

So how did the Seminole organisers get it so wrong? I suspect tournament scheduling is probably the main reason.

The European Poker Tour began its schedule earlier in the week in Barcelona and at virtually the same time the Legends of Poker at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles was taking place. People can’t physically be in two (or three) places at the same time.

Some commentators have said that the multi-entry format may have had something to do with it.  Being allowed to enter multiple day ones has come under scrutiny recently for being unfair to amateurs and those without deep pockets. These players tend to only buy in the once while pros are buying in several times with their deeper pockets and playing more aggressively. Although these arguments are valid, the same format was in place last year –  indeed it is probably what helped it make up the numbers – so I would suggest it was just bad scheduling.

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Poll of The Week

It’s transfer deadline day  – the greatest day in the world – again!

And you know what that means – Sky Sports news readers getting unduly frantic, loads of people stood outside football grounds doing absolutely nothing and Harry Redknapp spewing a torrent of really reliable information out of his car window.

So much for death and taxes being the only certainties in life!

I just spotted that there is a betting market on this deadline day. It’s great! Bookies are actually pricing up which club will sign the most players today. ANd Harry’s QPR are 5-1! So I thought I’d make that this week’s question. Drum roll please……this week’s question is:

Who will sign the most players this transfer deadline day (1st September 2014)?

I think you can probably guess who I’ve bet on. Then again Man Utd are so desperate to get Champions League football they will pay seriously daft money for players in large quantities. Just look at what they’ve done already! (But I can’t help feeling they are strengthening the wrong end of the team….)

Man Utd

Answer this week’s poll and leave a comment with your Twitter username to be in with a chance of winning a token for my Bounty competition.

Congratulations to @DarrenTeagii10 for winning last week’s poll.

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Friday’s Caption Competition

Time for another caption competition! But first of all, the password for the Freddie Mays Bounty tournament at 9pm tonight is:

mkdons40

Watching MOTD recently I saw a scene like this and not long after a mate of mine texted me asking “what are the odds that van Gaal ever listens to a single word that Ryan Giggs says?”

Very large you’d imagine.

Giggsy van Gaal

It intrigues me why people in football do this “hand over mouth” routine when they are talking to their staff. Unless it’s the worst kind of profanities being uttered, or your name is Malky Mackay, I just don’t see why it is necessary. Are they really worried that someone lip reading on TV will untangle their conversation, suss out a way to benefit tactically from this, get word to the opposing coach, who let’s face it is just sitting on a bench watching and whose capability to influence is really not that great? Or are they just muttering the darkest kind of abuse to one another? Submit your caption on Facebook for your chance to win a token to my bounty tourney next week.

Congratulations to Belinda Hubbard (a.k.a “BeeBitch”) for winning our previous competition with “hand happy toke too!”

Vincent Tan

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Double Bubble !

I’ve just heard of a new blueprint for prize money structures in poker tournaments and I think it’s a great idea. I really hope it catches on.  In the 2015 PCA schedule to be held in the Carribean there are two tournaments on the schedule which will have this new “Double Bubble” format.

Although an exciting development I have one slight tinge of regret. I suspect if every tournament I’d ever played was “Double Bubble” I’d have done a good deal better over the years. And if you’re one of those players who successfully navigates the early stages of tournaments but gets knocked out before the money too often then you might feel the same way.

“Double Bubble” prize money basically works like this: the top half the field have their entrance fee returned once they have eliminated 50% of players and then they play as normal for the remaining cash.

So say 200 people enter a tournament for $1000, making a prize pool of $200k. Usually the top 20 would get paid and 1st place would get around $50k, or 25% of the cash. But in the Double Bubble format when 100 players remain they would all get paid their original $1000 back. At least half the field do not lose. After this they would play to a finish with the remaining $100k split among the last 20 survivors in the usual percentages.

Of course the half way stage payout means you reduce the total prize money by 50%, so in this case the player who wins the whole thing would get around $25k instead of the usual $50k that he’d have won for 1st place (not forgetting his $1000 back of course).

I suppose the people who might not like this format are the high rollers and the very best players that are used to making final tables and hitting huge payouts (that’s me excluded :) )

In fact anyone who makes the money will wish that the structure took the old format, but that’s just being wise after the event. If you sit down to play a double bubble you know the rules up front and you’ve no complaints.

I really like the fact that half the field lose nothing instead of the usual 90%. The more players who get paid the more happy players you have. They’ll stay in action longer and go broke less quickly.

If this takes off online I can see myself playing a lot more tournaments. Thinking about it, the reason I play so few tournaments online today is probably precisely because of the way the prize money is structured. There’s just too much variance and if you play a lot then variance is the thing you want to reduce.

It’s a common story – you play for 3-4 hours and end up cashing in, say, the top 20%, winning exacly nothing. It’s particularly frustrating when you spend hours reaching this stage. After all, as we all know, the first man out of a tournament you get paid as much as the man who gets knocked out on the bubble: zero.

Adjustments have continually been made to the format of poker tournaments.

People have agreed to “chops” in prize money for as long as tournaments have existed. Then around 2011 the concept of “bubble insurance” was born. Bubble insurance was a bit of a misnomer because it isn’t only the bubble boy who gets insured. With bubble insurance you can insure yourself against the outcome that you finished in the 10% after the prize money.

So for example, in a $100 buy in event with 100 runners that paid out places 1-10, you could fork out another $12 and if you finished 11th-20th you would get your $100 back.

I don’t think that proved to be too successful to be honest. I’ve certainly never paid for bubble insurance. The problem with all insurance, be it driving, holiday or life insurance is that you know full well the providers have built in a little profit margin. So poker probably wasn’t the best medium to sell insurance. People who strive for +EV situations all day aren’t natural purchasers of insurance.

But now there’s my already-favourite-despite-only-hearing-about-it-today innovation and I’m hopeful it will take off.

The reason for the name “Double Bubble” is obvious. The game will now have two crucial points, first at the half way mark and then at the usual bubble time. Of course only the first of these will be a genuine “bubble” in the sense of winning zero. The second bubble boy will at least have his entrance fee refunded.

So how might bubble insurance affect strategy?

I’ve got 3 immediate observations. In theory everyone should start playing tighter and look to get into that top 50%. In fact, the introduction of a second bubble at half way could dictate the speed with which the average stack size erodes and it could get become a bit of a crap shoot if it means the second half kicks off with an average stack size of 20 BBs.  But that’s just in theory. I don’t think that would happen. People are creatures of habit and I reckon players who struggle to fold AJs under the gun in a normal game will continue to struggle to fold AJs under the gun in a double bubble format. Some players are obsessed with doubling up early, believing they “need a stack” to have any chance of winning the thing and that probably won’t change. People will still subscribe the first out=bubble=zero point of view we mentioned earlier.

Second, as we know in the usual format, clever players start to get aggressive at the bubble when everyone is playing tighter so there will be a lot of this going on. In theory we should all be more aggressive while everyone is playing tighter, which ought to be from the start in this new format. But if we do that then now we are collectively not playing tighter! So as ever, it pays to see what opponents are actually doing on the day rather than heading in with some pre conceived plan.

Thirdly, in normal tournaments you see a flurry of activity once the bubble bursts. You might not get an elimination for half an hour or even longer in live events, but once that bubble bursts it’s a veritable “ALL IN – CALL” fest with players biting the dust left right and centre. Does the double bubble format mean we will have two periods of madness? I’m not 100% sure it would because stacks might not be as desperate at half way. But if it does it means loosening up and calling a bit lighter could be the order of the day.

I suspect that this format will benefit steadier tighter players and as ever, with even more factors to consider, the more situationally aware (ie good players) will tend to come out on top.

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