Champion Chip Results

The now weekly ChampionChip online poker tournament on bwin turned into a sordid, seedy affair as xxxlolitaxxx took down the title.  Actually, truth be told, except for the name of the winner the action was mostly g rated.  

A parent’s advisory might have been necessary as the players decided to play poker online only for the standard gory and dirty bad beats  but xxxlolitaxxx steady play was approved for all audiences.

There were 1642 players who signed in to play online poker and all fell a little short of xxxlolitaxxx and the $55,065 prize.  The  prize pool was over $300,000 and it didn’t take long for xxxlolitaxxx to gather a lot of chips.  He became a mamonth chip leader with more than twice that of the second place runner for much of the tournament.

As the tournament progressed so did xxxlolitaxxx’s chip lead.  With slightly more than an hour of action left, and 7 hours completed, xxxlolitaxxx could look at 1.2 million and virtual chips.   2nd place at the time barapengar only had  500 thousand.     

Entering the online poker final table the chip stacks were:  phantomaup $355,273, NeilMc $286,140 (who played for bwin at the WSOP last year), Tlick777 $253,712, gregg937 $148,654, RioFish $161,435, skwiik $254,518, Oodges $254,967, xxxlolitaxxx $1,447,851, Keiler513 $566,128, and  barapengar $376,322.   Gregg937 and RioFish had the most work to do.

Second place proved temporary for barapengar as his opponents caught up he cashed out for $12,579 in fifth place.    Beating him to the rail by mere minutes Keiler513 won  $9,359 for sixth.  4th place went to skwiik who netted $18,719.

The final three were  phantomaup with $577,566 in chips,  gregg937with $817,602 and the monster xxxlolitaxxx with $2,655,832.  There was some drama added to the final duel when phantomaup gave his chips to gregg937 with A10 0/s vs. pocket jacks.  Even with more ammunition in the chip department he still faced an uphill battle.  That’s because xxxlolitaxxx didn’t just wait for his opponents to go anywhere he kept chipping up.  He sat with over 3 million in chips and gregg937 was going to need to win a few double ups to win as he had less than a million.

The heads up action didn’t last long.  Gregg937 had to feel good when he turned two pair only to get all the money in and discover the elusive xxxlolitaxxx had turned a straight.  No miracle full house came on the river and xxxlolitaxxx pocketed the first place prize.

It wasn’t all bad for gregg937 won as he won$37,438 for second place.  Third place phantomaup pocketed $24,958.

The Transparency Project

Once again I have to give kudos to a company that gets it.  Harvard University partnered up with bwin to track and study the root causes of online addiction to discover ways to prevent problem gambling.  For those of us familiar with the bright side of poker but more importantly the dark side of the game it’s a refreshing stance to be taken by an online poker site. 

Invariably, there were some critics who thought something smelled funny in a private study funded by an online gaming company.  To prove their motives were altruistic bwin and Harvard have tried to make their data open and available to other scientists.  In an effort to advance the empirical evidence and knowledge base of addictions, bwin will make available actual Internet gaming activity records.  Bwin seeks to accelerate their understanding of problem gaming and institute mechanisms to detect it early.

I made this comparison before but this is night and day from the studies done by cigarette companies in the 50s and 60s.  Then they used the studies to figure out how to addict people and did it in their own closed offices in military like top secret fashion.  Now, this study is being done out in the open, in partnership with Harvard, and it’s to prevent harmful habits rather than accelerate them.

I thought the cigarette companies were idiots from the beginning.  Their science shouldn’t have been researching how to addict their customers, it always should have been figuring out a way to make their product non-harmful.   Forty years of research may have discovered a cigarette that doesn’t inflict cancer, a filter that delivers the nicotine without the carcinogens, or any number of advances. 

However, I must be clear, I compare gaming to cigarettes only to reveal how different they are from one another.  Certain people struggle with gambling addictions but the vast majority of players can enjoy it responsibly at an even keel.  This study seeks to help and prevent the few that struggle with their compulsions from getting addicted and to foster a healthy gambling relationship with those that don’t struggle with it.

For those of us that play online poker, that have a conscience, efforts like this might relieve some of the survivor-guilt.  I personally don’t want to play somebody that can’t afford to lose what he’s gambling.  There is the saying a fool and his money are soon parted, so if not by me someone else will do it, BUT if the opponent has a problem that he can’t control I’d rather play someone else.  The fact that these players play poker online beyond their control still does not sit right with me.  Online poker should be about fun, making money off people that can afford to lose it, and wagering folks that are wagering for the right reasons.

It’s refreshing to see an online poker site that agrees with me.  Live casinos will boot a player that is so drunk he doesn’t know what he’s doing.  Some are winning but most are losing.  In the long run that’s a good policy.  In the short run the player may complain.  They also track problem gamblers and try to help them out.  Bwin doing the same is a great thing.  I love to scoop pots, I love to play bad players, but I don’t like to take from somebody that is playing  afford to give it.  Such a weird dichotomy for us poker players. 

On February 16th, Professor Howard J. Shaffer, Director, Divisons of Addictions, will participate in a discussion in Burssels hosted by the European Gaming and betting Association.    For more invormation visit  http://www.thetransparencyproject.org.

A Little bit about the Bat…

Born Bartholomew Masterson, Bat Masterson kicked some ass back in the day.  A buffalo hunter, a gambler, a ladies man, a gun-fighter, and a sports-writer Bat ran with Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill.  He called himself The Genuis. 

He was also poker stud, but he weathered ups and downs in bankroll management. 

TV shows, comic books, and movies have captured the man… a little bit.

Here’s his theme song:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRNImRxRNjc

He’s basically a legendary American bad ass. 

The only troubling thing is he might not have been the greatest poker player, as he had to have so many other jobs throughout his life.  Course, my parents weren’t thinking about poker when they named me after the guy.

Cash Game… Justice is Served…

Recently I played in a cash game at relatively modest stakes but still clearly enough that it meant something to that players.  And by that, nobody was playing just for fun or for the thrill of winning the money was significant. 

Everybody was focused on the money.  There were a handful of players whose heads were screwed on right, and then there were the donaters who were… just screwy.  Those guys clearly needed to go to poker school.

At one point, UTG makes it 6x the BB.  UTG has a stack about half the size of the next smallest stack, and is anywhere from a 1/3rd to 1/5th of the rest of the tables.  So, maybe not the guy you want to take some chances with because even if you gamble you are not going to win much.

Also, the guy has played few if any hands.  The table is playing tightish so usually early raises thin  the field.  Next to act is the second shortest stack.  He insta-calls.  Then the waterfall is begrudingly started.

Lots of weak holdings pour chips into the pot.  Their clickety clack falling into one another sounds delicious.  Action gets to me in the BB.  I hold 4h3h.  Regardless of my holding, all the late weakness has me contemplating a steal.

Here is the problem, the UTG has shown strength and has a legitimate hand.  Granted I’ll know where I stand pretty quick on the flop cause my outs probably aren’t his.  The second to act insta-called and I have no reason to doubt he doesn’t have a hand.  I believe all my idiot radar is retrospective after this hand played out… so, I could be headed to threeway action, or worse yet, the pot might seduce people to get funky with it and pot all their chips in to get rid of us floaters. 

I’m going to be a dog but I’m not that bad of shape.  Yet, with this multi-way pot, I have no idea what to raise.  Too little, and now I’m just creating a much bigger 6 way pot with a 34 in my hand.  Too much and UTG or UTG+1 might commit to their hands and move their stacks in making me contemplate playing a big pot with 34 in my hand.

Because these variables were in play, I decided the best course of action was to play like the 1-2 zombies in the world and pay to see a flop.  My hand has some value, though my position cut down on my implied odds of getting paid if I nailed it.  Still, needing to call 5x with 31.5x in the pot is definitely worth sticking around especially with suited connectors.

Flop comes out 6s5h2h.  Probably almost exactly as I would have envisioned it.  So many ways to potentially get paid here and of course nut redraws.  Somebody gets a better flush two of their 9 outs give me a straight flush.  Player has 78 could get cute and married to their hand.  Now, I’ll have flush outs if they hit.  And in a dream scenario it the board turns 6h and rivers 9h and my opponent holds 7h8h I’m getting a bad beat jackpot.

I check, hoping somebody in the six will have hit a piece and want to thin the field.  UTG c-bets 1/4 of the pot.  Next, to act raises 2.5x the bet.  Oh.

Folded around to me.  Again, I’m put to a decision because of stack size.  UTG looks like he’s going to call the bet.  Do I just smooth call and then push on the turn and tie the UTG player to the hand. 

My hand is vulnerable in some respects put I got protection for a couple of the draws.   I hope the UTG’s intention to call and his small stack will motivate him to call my reraise.  I also want to put the UTG+1 to a test if he’s got a set or something.  So I bet more then either has. 

UTG folds after some thought.  Didn’t like that.  Thought he might have, at this point, harmless overpair like Js.  UTG+1 calls quickly.   Looks like the call of a made hand.  I don’t think I can lose… feel like he’s got the straight too.  Sure enough he turns over 3d4d. 

I river a heart.  He’s irate because he lost a big pot, when he flopped a straight.  I think justice is served because he played a very bad holding based on the table factors.

Here’s why… when he acts preflop he has no idea how strong or weak the rest of the table is.  He calls a raise from early position by a tight player with 3d4d.  Not in itself a bad move if done infrequently…  but when you consider the early tight player barely has a stack there is no reward for the risk.

If the tight player can double you up, I’m all for calling exploratory raises with hands you can easily pitch.  Hands that also disguise well and pay you a ton.  Here, there wasn’t that carrot at the end of the stick. 

On top, of that not only was the player taking a chance with a bad hand that probably wouldn’t hit, he also had to endure the rest of the table potentially raising him out of the flop with nothing.  He’d also be OOP to almost anybody else that entered the pot.  He might flop the best hand and have to give it up.

Therefore, it’s a terrible hand selection.  Perhaps, he thought an early call by him could set off the waterfall (that did happen) and he’d be playing a multi-way pot with a hand that has a lot of options.  That’s a speculative play at best.  Those kinds of limp or call-fests give a decent player on the button or in the blinds (who might take a chance on stealing the pot preflop rather than play oop) a big incentive to steal.  When you start calling re-raises with a shortish stack you are just setting yourself up for failure.

So, when that 5th heart came out giving me the flush, I have to say, I thought UTG+1 got what he deserved.  Perhaps, he needed to go to poker school.

Bwin’s Magic Moments of Poker Tour

In an earlier blog post, I brought up the online poker tournament promotion taking place in Porto.  My how things have changed.  Now, the truth has come out.  Bwin’s Magic Moments of Poker Tour is actually going  to Madrid. 

Trade in one Old World city for another.  The football game is probably a bit of an improvement with Real Madrid’s roster surpassing the gross domestic product of some small nations.   Madrid is the first leg in a seven nation jaunt throughout Europe.   

 The best part is players are playing for a bwin sponsorship.  A great prize.  Many top pros don’t have sponsorship’s and bwin is offering it as a prize.  The journey starts at home and could finish in Europe after a stop in two great cities.

 The first leg:  Sitting in the comfort of their own home or office, a library, internet cafe, or in the middle of a field with a laptop and a satellite card, players will compete in an online poker tournament on bwin.  The lowest buy-in is a meager $6.

The second leg:  After winning their online poker tournament from the location of their choice, the winners are whisked away to a cities like  Munich or Milan on bwin.

The third leg:  A sportsfan’s dream.  The winners get to enjoy a major sporting event.  Include in the offerings are a  training session,  a La Liga Derby or tickets to a car race.

The fourth leg:  Back to the tables.  The winners will get to play on a televized final table.  The winner gets a seat at the finals in Vienna.  

The fifth leg:   Did we just mention Vienna?  That’s because it plays host to all the winners from each stop on the Magic Moments of Poker Tour.

The sixth leg:   The winner of the Vienna table gets a bwin sponsorship and all the glory that goes with it.

The first opportunity takes place in Madrid, Spain.   The final table online qualifiers will take in the city and watch the Atletico Madrid-Real Madrid derby.   Nothing is spared as bwin puts on a VIP extravaganza of comps:  hotel, dining and even so nightlife. 

Players not nursing hangovers to the point it impairs their play will have four days and nights to enjoy the city.

To start the trip you just need to play a qualifier for $6.  As mentioned you can play it anywhere your internet connection will take you.  If you’ve never played before there is a cure for that too.  Bwin offers an introductory guide to that too:  here.