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This is True #3

I seem to be on a Kamikaze kick. Its not so much that I'm trying to bluff players off of hands, as much as I keep thinking that other players are making plays back at me. Of course, my stubbornness doesn't help. I suppose that's a good explanation for my play in You Decide #54. I decided to raise preflop and just was unwilling to give up the hand. Meanwhile, I lost in a tragically similar way last night in the Mookie. While the hands played different, it was the same shortcomings by yours truly that paved the way for my exit. I believe I raised in LP with J9h deciding to gamble a bit, and got raised by the BB, Irongirl. For the life of me, I don't know why, but I called. The flop was Jack-high and when she open pushed for an ass load of chips, it didn't make sense to me. I put her on AK or AQ, making a play, or maybe even TT or 99, believing that I didn't hit the Jack, so I called and she showed AA. Well fuck me sideways! Nice hand, Irongirl, and my apologies to Buddy Dank, who chose me as one of his picks to win the damn tournament.

Before we get to the wrap-up for yesterday's Which is True #3, I'd like to discuss a hand from last night's Mookie. I have 2860 after losing a big hand early and clawing my way back (as I often do). I was dealt QTo in the BB when it folded around to the small blind, LGkiev, with 4250. LG decided to raise from the 100 blind to 325 total, and with two high cards and a wide range for LG's raising in this situation, I decided to flat call. The flop was a gorgeous QT4, rainbow, giving me two pair. LG bets out 650 (pot) and I take a moment before flat calling. I'm selling a story of a player who is calling but not confident. I didn't want to raise because I am confident that he'll be the turn, and if he doesn't I can make a low value bet on the turn. The turn was 3d, creating a diamond flush draw. LG pushed all-in. I called. He showed AT, for second pair.

I mention this hand for one reason only. It may appear that I got lucky, calling with a dominated hand and then hitting two pair, but there was a lot of skill in getting all the money into the pot. All too often, we focus on the "luck" of getting great starting cards or hitting flops, but there is more skill than we sometimes recognize. After you get those lucky cards or flops, the skill is in maximizing your payout. Likewise, in those unlucky hands and flops, the skill is in manuevering the hand so you can either save the most money, or ideally, steal the pot away for the cheapest possible price. Just something to contemplate...

Onto bigger contemplation. Which is True #3 occurred to me last weak when I was thinking about my success in the recent 8.5k guarantee ($75 buy-in, 167 runners, I took 1st for $3k) and a 1008 person tournament from many moons ago where I took $650 for placing 4th in a $10 tournament.

For those who missed it, the question I posed was:

The greatest accomplishment out of the three options listed is (choose one):
(A) Winning (1st place) an online 50 person tournament with a $50 buy-in for a profit of $1200.
(B) Placing in 5th in a 1000 person online $10 tournament for a profit of $650.
(C) Making the final table of an online 9,000 person freeroll, winning $250.

This is a tricky one, because there are a lot of variable factors between the three options. I'm going to start backwards with (C) Making the final table of an online 9,000 person freeroll, winning $250. Not surprisingly, (C) got no votes, but some players did offer some valuable insight into evaluating tournament wins. I almost wonder if (C) would've done better if it was a Freeroll with 100 players with the top prize paying $3000. But alas, that wasn't the option, so let's see what people thought.

The main point of contention that I personally have with (C) is the fact that it is a freeroll. Plainly, the majority of people do not play freerolls the same way they play actual tournaments. If the freeroll was for a greater prize, that might change, but if you have to beat 99.9% of the players for a mere $250 over 6+ hours, it just isn't worth it, so players are going to be, well, acting like monkeys for a good portion of the field and tournament. Play will get better as you near the money, but its still a lower caliber of play overall. In fact, we have some great insight from Chipper, a player who actually accomplished (C):

"Freeroll play is one big luckfest. However, outlasting all of the pushes and horseraces and getting to a final table is one piece of luck in my opinion. The time investment alone is just NOT worth the measly reward. A patient player can pick up a lot of chips to those LAG-tards who push on any draw or top pair. Certainly a lot less payout and the quality of poker is less than good. I finished a final table of a 10,000 player freeroll once but felt less than accomplished because the money just wasn't worth the time. Never the less, to get that far is in a field that large takes a bit of skill."

In the end, its that feeling of satisfaction that we are really looking for, and for some its about the money or the pride. In Freeroll tournaments, you get little of both (money and pride). Which brings us to (B) Placing in 5th in a 1000 person online $10 tournament for a profit of $650.

There were three players who chose (B) as the greatest accomplishment, Hoy, Chipper and AlCantHang. It's interesting that these three stand alone, largely because they are so influential, Hoy producing in depth poker analysis on a daily basis and Al being the life of the blogger party (not a small feat, and one he does excellently). As Hoy explains:

"I think I'm going to go with choice (B). 5th out of 1000 players in a $10 online tournament is pretty incredible, IMO much moreso than just winning a 50-person mtt outright...Choice (B) represents the best combination of strong performance against a real field playing real poker."

Its that combination that I can really appreciate. As I said, for some players, its about the money and for some its about the pride of accomplishment. For (B) you get a mix of both, with a nice score of 65x your initial buy-in (or $640 profit in hard terms), and the accomplishment of outlasting about 1000 players. Still, with such a great combination, why did most players (7 out of 10) choose (A)? Interestingly, there are two separate camps of thought, and they both have to do moreso with the inadequacies of (B) than the greatness of (A).

Let's be frank for a moment. (A) is great, winning a big buy-in tournament and taking down some money, but its not exactly a lofty goal. Beating 1,000 players is amazing. AMAZING. Beating 50 players is, well, 'routine'. It's a great routine. Don't get me wrong. But its a lot more likely to happen and a lot easier than the several additional hours it will take to win the 1,000 tournament. So why did most players choose (A)?

It all goes back to what I said earlier, pride and money. Let's start with pride.

A couple of players correctly pointed out that it feels 1000x better to win a tournament than it does to place high but fail to finish it out. For some, like Bayne and Cayne, there will always be a disappointment when you get so close to 1st but fall short. As Cayne explains, "5th place would leave me with a little bitter taste in my mouth for not wrapping it up. " It's definitely something the majority of us can recall at one point of another. On the flipside, Raveen (aka Psuedo Dr.) commented, "Personally anytime you win a tourney regardless of the money is one of the best feeling's in the world..." Truer words have not been spoken. This is exactly the High I mean in High on Poker. Likewise, MeanHappyGuy said, "I'd have to go with option A, for the pure fact that it is the only one with a "winner" flag."

Once again I find myself with a wish that I could revise the options. I won't, not for now at least, but it would be interesting to compare winning with a lower payout vs. taking 4th with a higher payout. After all, the players above all seem to revel in the idea of being the Winner, something I can certainly appreciate. But would that Winning pride be enough to overcome the fact that they could have won more money placing lower in another tournament?

It would seem that Matt, KajaGugu and DP would rather place 4th for more dough if those were the options. Even though both chose (A) as the greatest accomplishment, they relised on the ole poker scorecard, money. As explained by DP, "poker is about money" and Matt, who takes seems to lean more to the middle, "it's the bigger score of the three and it's an actual victory."

I can definitely appreciate their analysis. When I think about my 1000 person 4th place for $650 vs. my 167 person 1st place for 3.1k, I think I have more pride about the $3.1k. Think of it outside of the world of poker blogging. When you tell someone about your poker accomplishments, would you rather say, "I beat 167 players last night" or "I won $3.1k." Inside the poker world, I'd argue that the first statement probably has a stronger impact (assuming that we are dealing with people who have good bankrolls). Outside the poker world, however, people care about cold hard cash. So, in a public setting, I'd be more proud of dollar figures vs. the amount of players I defeated. In the end, I guess it depends on the audience and what you are out to prove. Are you trying to show that you can beat large fields or that you can be profitable? They are often one in the same, but they don't have to be.

Before I head out, I would like to touch on something mentioned by Matt and Kaja. One of the factors they considered was the idea of beating better competition in the (A), the $50 event, as opposed to the $10 event. Logically, this makes sense. Matt explained, "...although A is a smaller field than B, it is a larger buyin so, presumably, the players may be less donkalicious," and Kaja explained, "Beating better competition is also a plus for me."

This makes sense on its face. It is essentially an extension of the argument against (C), where the slew of freeroll players are disregarded because of the tendency for people to play freerolls like, well, they were free. However, I am not so certain that it extends between (B) and (A) so readily. While the play between a freeroll and a $10 tournament is drastically different, the difference between $10 and $50 buy-in events are not very dissimilar. From my experiences, the play is not much different. There are donks at every level, just as there are some great players in some $10 events. So, overall, I see the logic in that rationale, but I don't think it should be a deciding factor (notably, it was mentioned as an aside from both players, and not as the sole deciding factor).

Final thoughts: It seems like the real question is whether you play tournament poker for the pride or the money. The money speaks for itself, but the issue of pride can be broken down into smaller considerations. Is it about being the Victor amongst a field of losers? Is is about beating a large amount of players, but not necessarily needing the top spot? These are all individual considerations for each of us to consider.

My opinion is that (B) is the greater ACCOMPLISHMENT, but I get more pride from (A). I, too, want to be the Winner. Not 2nd, not 3rd. Initially, when I lost the 1008 person tournament in 4th place, I was a tad bummed out. There is always that feeling of wanting to grab the brass ring, and the disappointment when you miss, but after that feeling went away, I had to acknowledge to myself that I played great poker for hours and beat over 1000 people to win a nice chunk of change. Winning the $3.1k, on the other hand, definitely gave me that high from winning, and the amount of cash still blows my mind. BUT in the end, I beat 167 people, something I have done at least on two other occassions that I can think of off of the top of my head, and many more if I were to consider when I merely beat 167 players out of a larger field tournament. While winning gave me that short term high and the big bankroll boost, it didn't leave me in awe the same way beating 1000 players did.

Did we get to any final conclusion other than to say that it depends on each person's priorities? Hell no. That's not what Which is True is about. But it is interesting to consider poker accomplishments and how they are viewed by a variety of players. I thank all of the commentors for your input on Which is True and the You Decide post. Now I have to finish out the work day, see Harry Potter, and get about 2 hrs of sleep before my 4am airport pickup and trip to Okie Vegas. Get ready for a real hootenanny of a Trip Report coming up.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:55 PM,


At 2:02 PM, Blogger MHG said...

Great post! Way to get the blogger brains engaged :)

And yes, I'd rather win a lower-paying tournament than final-table a higher-paying tourney (to a degree).

At 2:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post... I really enjoyed the queries and loved reading all the comments that came in. And now to see me quoted on your blog!? I feel like a quasi-celebrity with my name up next to Bayne's on your blog! Thanks again for another great post, I'll look forward to your trip report.


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