Whither art Thou, Dutch Boyd?
"I'm looking forward to playing and meeting some of the Blogger Poker Tour regulars." --- Dutch Boyd, on Because Everybody Pays Their Own Way, the official site for Dutch Boyd.
After a couple of weeks best summed up by the word "downswing," it was nice to have a chance to partake in a freebie, that being the very generous Blogger Poker Tour tournaments put on by the fine folks over at Poker.com.
Event #5 was on the docket, earlier today: "Blogging Into Spring," hosted by none other than "Crew" member Dutch Boyd. Err, maybe. Dutch was either a no-show or the quietest tourney host ever. Not that it matters; it didn't affect my participation one way or t'other, but it would have been nice for Poker.com's sake for their guest host to both be there and be visible. If something else came up that prevented Dutch's participation, then that's understandable; if not, then Dutch didn't do right by Poker.com. We'll likely never know, but it's fun to ponder, isn't it? (Update: Looks like Dutch was stranded somewhere without Internet access, per Poker.com.)
Of course, it's possible that Dutch was present: speculation centered on a player named "TheBigSurprise," who was showing as being located in the U.S., and was unknown by the others. I broached the topic when we reached the two-table point and hand-for-hand play began; after all, that's the slowdown stage where it's good to have something to keep you occupied while the eternal trickle-out process continues. Stormswift was still around at that point, as was PearlSnapMan, skinski (one of the Poker.com forum moderators) and Stratman4u, folks I know from other places. Two others (PapaHun and DamRiver) were already bearing BPT-winner accolade icons, and several of the others were from Europe... meaning they weren't our celebrity host, either There just weren't a lot of people that could have been Dutch at that point, and not many more even earlier in the doin's.
Oh, yes, the tourney. I'm getting there. 56 players this time around, many of them damn tough. And there are reasons for my going into a brief tourney recap in a bit, so you'll just have to suffer.
Off my previous oh-fer-four showing in the BPT events, I figured I was due for a bit of a better run, though the first hour was as on earlier occasions: card death. I won an early mini-pot on a walkover to my big blind, caught KK under the gun and got zero action, and folded a suited A-J to an all-in reraise. My cards weren't even the type that would let me sneak into a pot from late --- it was a steady diet of offsuited 9-4's and J-2's. Our table wasn't as loose or tricky as some of the others, perhaps, though Byron (starting seat to my immediate left) was the second player out after he lost a slick-vs-pair race to "tfalbb," a LAG player who caught hot early and ran out to the first-hour lead. As for me, I wasn't getting the right cards in the right spots to even think about mixing it up... so I waited.
The cards started turning as the first break approached, although I still couldn't find my way into the right big pot. I bounced betwen 1,500 and 1,900 chips, below the 2,000 start and quite a bit below par. And finally, a 400 raise and a call in front of me when I have suited slick on the button. Not much to lose, with the blinds already 100/200.
Both players call, one of them all-in as well, and they have dominated hands --- a K-J in one and an A-something in the other, neither suited. When a K flops I'm in good shape, and I dodge the suckouts... a recent rarity. 5,400 in chips and I'm up to 7th or 8th. Poker.com's blind structure tends to make these things a pushfest at middle and later stages, and this time I caught the long end of the wishbone.
Funny, though; it was a one-hand surge. I found nothing through the rest of the first 90-minute play period and into the next, where I hovered around that 5K mark. Players were being eliminated, and when we got down to 20 and the hand-for-hand commenced, I decided to ask if anyone knew who or where Boyd was... since it was his tourney, after all. It's also recounted over on Dr. Fro's blog.
Attrition continued, and our table (of the two that remained) was unusual, because we had a compressed chip structure --- almost all the players had roughly the same amount of chips. Blinds went from 200/400 to 300/600 to 400/800, and our M's dwindled to 10 or less as the range from top to bottom was rarely more than a factor of two.
Needless to say, initial bets take down lots of pots in such a situation, especially pre-bubble.
Without any big hits or steals for a couple of laps, my roughly 5,000 chips lost ground to the field, to where I was as low as 12th of 14 at one point. But the three big stacks were at the other table and the order changed with every shift of the blinds. Not a time for panic.
And finally, I caught some cards that allowed me to push --- never a monster, but stuff such as A-J and K-Q and 5-5... cards that at least allowed to put someone else to the choice. I semi-stole my way up to about 8,000, lost a pot to our mystery "TheBigSurprise" player when I had a chance to call his all-in on the cheap, and finally won a decent three-way matchup to crack the 10K mark. Dr. Fro and I were the table bosses... at an admittedly puny table, stack-wise.
The bubble was slo-o-o-ow, but when it popped I was hanging around 6th of 9, with two serious short stacks still in play. One of those was PearlSnapMan, who tripled through a short time later (knocking out the other short stack) to make the final five. I'd worked up to about 15K in a short bit, hanging around or near the magic FOURTH PLACE SPOT, but there was a problem... the big stack, a previous winner named PapaHun, was on my left. And he had a penchant for leading out and reverse-position stealing --- or so it seemed --- from the UTG position.
When's the right time to mix it up? When does discretion overtake valor?
We've arrived at this post's digression into artificial tourney-payout structures, and the other reason --- besides the Ghost of Dutch --- for the writing.
Each BPT qualifying tourney has a nice little cash divvy of $500 for the top ten finishers, meaning that the cash EV [Expected Value] is about $10 per entrant. But the top four players in each of the eight lead-in events also win a seat in the final BPT event. This wonderful gift to the blogging community includes a $20,000 total value in prizes, including the granny: the coveted all-expenses-paid trip to the Main Event at the WSOP.
It's time to offer two tables. The first shows the cash payout only for the top ten spots, and the second shows the cash payout when an approximate EV for the final event is included. With a maximum of 30 players --- there are already a couple of duplicate qualifiers --- the EV per qualifying seat is a minimum of $20,000 / 30 = ~ $650. Here's the comparison:
BPT QUALIFIER: CASH-ONLY PAYOUT STRUCTURE
- 1st: $125
- 2nd: $100
- 3rd: $75
- 4th: $55
- 5th: $45
- 6th: $30
- 7th: $25
- 8th: $20
- 9th: $15
- 10th: $10
And now, including the value of the seat in the BPT Final:
BPT QUALIFIER: CASH+SEAT (EV) PAYOUT STRUCTURE
- 1st: $775 (includes seat in BPT final)
- 2nd: $750 (includes seat in BPT final)
- 3rd: $725 (includes seat in BPT final)
- 4th: $705 (includes seat in BPT final)
- 5th: $45
- 6th: $30
- 7th: $25
- 8th: $20
- 9th: $15
- 10th: $10
Before the "Duh" chorus starts up, let's qualify things: we're in a tourney with a small number of starters (50-80) and we're approaching a secondary bubble where the stacks, through preceding play, are no longer even close to equal. Given that I'm evaluating this in terms of overall gain, my strategy is: To hell with first; let's go for fourth.
And so, with the big-stack stealer immediately to my left, my answer is to fold, fold, and fold some more. And if I get into a situation where I need to make a play to stay in the top four, then I wait until I think I've got lots better than a tossup situation in front of me, then push and hope for the best.
That said, I still did sneak in a steal-raise or two, twice crossing over the big stack's button to snag the blinds from the short stacks on the other side. (I'd built up a rock-ish table image and dammit, it was time to use it.) Both steals were in good semi-bluff situations, with half-assed hands like K-8 suited. I was interested in preserving my margin compared to the two or three remaining short stacks, and I didn't care how many multiples of the rest of us the big stack amassed. In fact, if the big stack comes over the top of me, I'm insta-folded, whether or not I had sufficient pot odds to call. Such was the unusual structure of the situation.
When we got down to six, I thought I was home free when PapaHun (the big stack) got all-in against both of the shortest stacks left, TheBigSurprise and PearlSnapMan, and all three turned out to have A-x hands with PapaHun having the strongest holding. But PearlSnap sucked out a flush on the river to play on, and we were still one spot shy of the magic four. Bye-bye to TheBigSurprise, too... maybe-Dutch or not. Still, PearlSnap was well back of the rest of us --- and he was picked off on his next pot venture, giving the rest of us the table qualifier we sought. (Or at least two of the final four of us, me and Dr. Fro, since the other two had already won events and were seeking to repeat.)
I was in a virtual tie between third and fourth at that point. I'm in the big blind with an M of about 10, and our table boss, Papa, leads out yet again with another 3x bet. He's had the cards every time he's been tested, but he's taken down lots of pots unchallenged, too. This time, though, I have 8-8.
The big stack turns up yet another A-K, and when the board brings two K's and an A for gravy, I can take consolation in the fact that, as races go, it wasn't even close.
Oh, and this:
Mission accomplished. A 1-in-30 chance at a trip to Vegas? Okay, maybe 1-in-120, given my skill set. I'll take those odds any day.
Thanks, Poker.com. You've been doing the bloggers right on this one. Now about that Dutch Boyd thing...
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Additions/Corrections: Digging around through some of the BPT stuff on the Poker.com website shows a screen name of "KidDutch" as part of the listed qualifiers --- I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that that was Boyd, and he was definitely a no-show for his own event.
Also, there are some additional ways to qualify for the final of the BPT, such as hosting an event; the addtional event pages show a maximu of 50 players for that final. At 50 players, the EV for the final is $400 per person, not the $650 as shown above, though it wouldn't have changed my strategy at the final table in the least. I still play to get just above that artificial break point.