Monday, April 03, 2006

Always Something New Under the Sun

Honest to Peteza, I witnessed something in a tournament a week ago that I didn't believe possible until it unfolded before my eyes: a re-buy maniac so out of control that he managed to skew the structure of an entire tournament.

Screen grabs included, as evidence. This is a good one.

The scene of the crime was a familiar one, for me --- the "Expert Series" on Royal Vegas Poker (Prima skin) on Thursday evenings. (With the recent Daylight Savings Time change, they now start at 6:00 p.m. EDT). Something was afoot in the 3/22 tourney --- this re-buy/add-on event averages 80-100 players, and on most occasions there's a large overlay when all is said and done. We were up to 127 players when play begin, with lots of new faces. It turned out that Royal Vegas had opened up additional entry paths through its newer sister skins, Poker Time and 7 Sultans.

Good to see. Even if it did make my chances of winning or even cashing tougher.

Our opening table looked to be an average mix. I'd drawn the #10 seat, site host Lou Krieger was over in Seat #7, and seats #6, #8 and #9 also included players that are regulars in the game. Typical to see Lou... if he or Matt Lessinger doesn't end up at my table it's a bit of an upset. On the other side of the table, seats #1, #4 and #5 were all newcomers, or at least unfamiliar to me. (Seat #2 might've been a newbie as well, but that player didn't last long --- I flopped a set against that player's top-pair/top-kicker holding, getting it all in on the turn, and that player chose not to re-buy.

What was unexpected, however, was the all-in ferocity of the newbie over in seat #5, whose name on the images below is mercifully blurred. We've all seen the type --- the player who goes all-in hand after hand after hand during the re-buy stage, trying to randomly jump his stacks up to six or eight times the original buy-in. Trying to intimidate the table, too, by impressing upon us just how meaningless these $10 re-buys really were. (For a truly hilarous lesson in how this works, I recommend the "Big Buck" tourneys on Paradise. Priceless.)

Only one problem: most of the other players in this tournament aren't likely to be intimidated. Despite the low buy-in and the across-the-gamut talent range of those who play, the competent players still have the clueless ones outnumbered by a healthy margin. Here's a screen grab that shows the average in-hand situation:

Hand after hand after hand it continued. The player moved all-in pre-flop, and the rest of us, as you'd well expect, sat back and took turns picking him off. I caught hot early and jumped up to about 8,000 chips, the chip leader at an unimportant juncture. And on occasion, this player would suck out some garbage collection, build a bit of 3,000-5,000 chips... but give it right back in another hand or three. After one such 3,000-chip beat, one of the other newbies, the "rollie" dude over in seat #1, went off on a rant. My thought was, "Are you kidding me, sir? When you know this maniac is going to turn around and hand those chips right back?"

Which the player did, of course, and in fact by the end of the hour "rollie" had replaced me as the chip leader by a wide margin... but more on that in a bit.

Players slowly dropped out and the tables shifted and condensed. We picked up another name you might recognize, over there in seat #2:

Think our table-boss wannabe was going to figure out that the competition wasn't likely to get shoved around?

Nahh. The buy-ins kept on coming. Click. Click. Click. And all this within the first 40 or so minutes of play. Just a few minutes later:

My God. Look at those chip stacks, and compute in the fact that besides our original buy-ins, perhaps two re-buys from the group, and Barb bringing over some chips when she joined the table, everything else came from our maniac. 15... 20... 25... and the re-buys just kept coming. Now, I have seen this level of manic buying-in before, though rarely at even the $10-per price we had here, but when you've got two name pros at the table and a handful of others who can be presumed to at least understand the basics, at what point do you figure out that you're not going to out-aggress your way to the top of the board?

Well, never, in some rare instances. Our chip-stack financier made it to the hour two, but disappeared (as expected), shortly thereafter. And after all that, it wasn't even the point of this post.

Think back to the intro. There were only 127 players in this thing, and simply by being at the this table, three or four of us took our turns at the top. Our benefactor single-handedly turned this from an overlay to a non-overlay tournament --- the first time this has happened since I joined the fun --- but even that fact is unimportant when one considers the greater skew: Even though his own actions were unlikely to succeed, his re-buys significantly increased the chances that the winner and other high finishers would come from our table.

I've never seen a tourney entrant pull that off to quite this extent. Halfway through the first hour, I said to myself, "This guy's gonna make a winner out of one of us."

And he did, too. Though it wasn't me, or Lou, or Barb, or any of the other regulars.

The winner turned out to be the "rollie" dude over there in the #1 seat --- the same player who'd berated our maniac for his hyper-splashy play. "rollie" busted me, too, in bubble-land, when his A-rag in the small blind stayed ahead of my slightly-worse A-rag in the big blind, when I was down to about 11,000 chips with 1,000/2,000 antes, and had to make a stand. This after he'd taken a chunk of my chips at our earlier table, when he dodged a couple of big, big draws that I held when he let me play them far too cheaply. That didn't matter. It was "rollie"'s night; he was meant to win. Good enough.

Justice? That the guy who wins it was the loudest whiner at the maniac who put him in position to win in the first place? Silliness to even think about it. This is poker, after all; short-term justice in the cards is seldom what transpires. Take the next week, for instance: a chnage in the format for the tourney had been enacted, placing an additional bounty on the head of the previous winner --- in this case ol' "rollie."

Came the bubble's approach, this subsequent week, and I was switched to a new table as mine broke and the others were condensed. I find myself in middle-late position, about in the middle in terms of stack size, and two seats to my right is a short-stacked "rollie"... looking for all the world like low-hanging fruit. Even better, he comes in for a standard 3x raise, which is just about half of his remaining chips. (!) I find a true monster, a pair of eights, but re-raise in hopes of isolating the bounty boy anyway. That part works, and of course "rollie" comes in for what's left, turning over an unsuited A-J.

Neither of us improve... and I snag the cheap $50 bonus. So guess who groused?

Some folks just don't know when they've had it good.

Housecleaning stuff.

Spending undue wordage on the thanky-thanky-thanky stuff is not something I'm good at, nor often choose to do, because too often the practice degenerates into the print (or pixel) version of group masturbation. (That's why this stuff is down at the bottom of this post, too.) Nonetheless, enough has transpired in recent weeks that I need to acknowledge some credits and thanks where such things are due. So...

My continuing thanks go to Jason and Brad over at Kick Ass Poker for the chance to contribute to their growing site. In addition to a few other chores, I get to do the poker blog, and I've been doing my best to make it an entertaining read. It's appreciated, guys. As for the rest of you, get your butts over there once in a while. You might not agree with everything you'll read, but I'm damn sure going to try to make your visits worth the surf.

A couple of thank-yous for recent citations of my various blogs, because they took unusual form. Wil Wheaton quoted one of my Kick Ass Poker blog entries in his recent post on Card Squad. Now, I'll do shameless self-huckstering when it comes to procuring links within blogrolls and such, but in-story mentions are a different beast; it's the difference between advertising and editorial. (For a claasic example of what happens when that line is crossed or ignored, do a little research into the demise of once-mighty Omni Magazine.) Wil groks this difference, too; once one knows why the line is there, one can tell. So on behalf of my bosses, Wil, thanks for the mention --- they'll appreciate the added traffic.

It's good to see that Iggy seems to have popped out of his recent malaise. Iggy's own postings venture into deeper areas than most of what's out here, and I value that when I do my own 'switching of the hats,' from writer to reader. I don't know Iggy hardly at all, apart from a couple of e-mails and a few dozen words of chat at the table; nonetheless, there's enough of him in his writing to know when he's running hot or in a bit of a funk... as has shown recently. I've been there.

Lou Krieger --- who I already owe more favors to then I could count --- once described this stuff to me as "life tilt," a neatly-turned phrase that speaks volumes more than the words themselves. Here's hoping that Iggy continues remembering the difference between a contributor and a filler, and that he's part of the first group.

Lord knows, the world needs people that have an operable shit filter. Iggy passes muster.

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