Monday, September 29, 2008

Go Steelers!

Specifically, Santonio Holmes.

I'd love to see the Steelers tonight, but preferably, I'd like to see them win by throwing three 80 yard TD passes to Santonio. That's what it's going to take to beat meanhappyguy in our Fantasy Football league this week.

Ugh, what a fucking horrible week Fantasy-wise. In Skidoo's blogger league, I was without my top 2 RBs (Addai on bye, Parker hurt again), leaving me to start Edgerrin James and Chris Perry. I was fine with James, and he came through OK this week, but trying to win any week without your top two RBs is tough. But I thought I had a chance against MHG, who had a laughable lineup including Hank Baskett and Chester Taylor. Instead, he nearly outscores me with three players: Favre, Lavueradalfsdf Coles AND the NYJ Jets. Talk about a perfect storm: I end up losing to someone who started 3 Jets because he was lucky enough to be scheduled against me when they played the Cardinals. In retrospect, I shouldn't have gotten my hopes up. After living in AZ for most of my life, I know all too well about the futility of that franchise. I'll cheer for them when I can, but I'll never get too invested in them because, no matter what happens, they'll always be horrible.

In my $100 league, I was also without my top two backs (Julius Jones & Westbrook) my top WR (Wayne) and my starting defense (Seattle). On top of that, my bye week defense was none other than....Arizona. However, I was able to reap a little bit of benefit from that game since my other WR is Cotchery. Between Cotchery & Romo alone, and in light of AZ's "performance" costing me 8 points, I was able to outscore my opponent 56 to 37. Ugh-ly.


It's around Week 4 where I start trying to solidify my roster. I'm kicking myself for my draft strategy in the blogger league; had I paid attention to the fact that our flex player HAS to be a WR, I definitely would have held off on drafting a QB as high as I did with Romo. I do have Greg Jennings, who has been an absolute stud thus far, but I'm left reaching for WR leftovers to fill my lineup each week. I actually used a waiver claim two weeks ago when I thought Koren Robinson was going to play against STL, and this week, I'm adding players like Justin Gage and Steve Breaston.

My RBs leave me much to be desired as well. With Addai & Parker I have a formidable yet inconsistent 1-2 punch. I'd love to be able to trade one of them to shore up my WR front but I'm not ready to roll with James or Chris Perry as my No 2. back. My only other tradeable asset is Romo, but he has an awesome schedule the next couple weeks and I can't afford to give up his consistency.

In my $100 league, I'm looking a bit better. I'll roll with Westbrook and J. Jones, and I've got Buckhalter as a quality handcuff, but I wouldn't mind a bit more RB depth (Sproles, Perry and T. Jones). At WR, if I can upgrade Cotchery I wouldn't mind, but he and Wayne aren't a bad 1-2 punch. Holt and Roddy White are my backups. Holt hasn't done anything but I'm not ready to give up on him just yet. White has put up decent numbers despite a rookie QB but I'm still trying to figure out ATL's offense, especially now that their schedule is going to get a whole lot tougher.

Anyways, this year is proving to be a bigger challenge than in years past, but that's the fun of it. Plus, I'm 3-1 in my big league, and soon to be 2-2 in the blogger league, so it's not like I'm completely out of it either. Either way, it's been fun thus far.

But it'll be more fun if Santonio explodes tonight, as long as it's enough to win. There's nothing I'd hate more than to see him get something like 130 yards and 3 TDs yet I still lose by 5 points. F that.

Rascal's, Take Two

On Thursday, I made another trip to Rascal's Casino, this time for their $60 Double Stack tournament. Unfortunately they had too many people sticking with the cash game, so they could only use the two remaining tables for the tournament instead of all three (yeah, it's a small place). I don't know if that's the standard or not but I would prefer a bigger tournament.

I didn't have much to work with starting hand wise, and I lost 1\3rd of my stack fairly early when AQ
For the most part, it was a straight-forward weak-tight game: lots of limp-calling preflop, no positional pressure bets or flat out bluffs, most bets represented strong hands. The only time I recall a bluff was when a gruffy man on my right, who was literally limp-calling with K8 to TT, let out a huge sigh on the river. It was one of those classic tells that are beyond obvious. The old man on my left picked up on it too and immediately shoved. With straight & flushes possible, the gruffy man made a crying call with two pair; old man shows down A high. That was the only time I saw anyone making anything that could be considered a move.

After the 2nd break, I was down to 3.5 blinds after mistakenly trying to push out some limpers from the SB with sooted connectors. I didn't hit and had to fold the turn after getting my c-bet called. But luck would turn my way, and I won the next two hands with K4 > 76 and A6 > 99. With 15k in chips, I was alive, and made it to "the final table" shortly thereafter.

Once we got down to 9, I found myself making a tough laydown PF with JJ, after seeing two limpers then a 6k raise by the chip-leader. I could have been up against a smaller pair, but I had played a couple hands with him in the last tournament, and I figured that I would be flipping at best. Plus, most of the players to my left were being extremely tight, so I knew that if I couldn't get my money in better, I could still steal some pots.

In fact, I tried stealing one pot a couple hands later with A6. The BB, the chipleader still, called, and we saw a Q23 flop. I went for the c-bet again and got a caller. I paired my 6 on the turn, giving me some outs, and pushed the rest of my short-stack in, thinking I needed some help. However, the CL states "I've come this far" and makes a crying call with....KTo? The turn is low and I get a much needed & surprising double up. Nevertheless, I still only had about 16 BBs worth of play left.

I made a crucial laydown in the BB with AQ against two even-stacked shorties who showed TT and 77. I would've flopped a Q only to end up four-flushed by TT. The TT, some drunk douchebag, was proud of himself, declaring that "I got him to lay that hand down" with his talk. Instead, what made me lay it down was that the 77 girl had just mentioned that she wasn't getting anything to play with, and that was even after I saw her laydown AQ herself to a PF raise a couple hands prior. Anyways, the math probably said I should call but risking 30% of my stack with two all-ins in front of me told me to wait, and it worked out.

I ended up going out in 6th (4 paid) to the TT douchebag with A5 vs AT. Unfortunately for me, the flop came A24 and I wasn't going anywhere on my board, but I couldn't find the help I needed and left empty-handed again.

I definitely enjoyed the DS tournament since I had a little more time to make some moves, I just had bad timing in most cases. I think I need to loosen up a bit post-flop as I noticed a couple of opportunities where I could have taken some pots with river bets had I still been in the hand.

I'll have a FF post up later: right now, I have to go pray for a huge game from Santonio Holmes to help me escape MHG's onslaught via Favre AND Coles. Lucky fucker.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Back In The Game

I made a trip tonight to Rascal's Casino just south of Seattle. I'd never been there before but gave it a shot since the new poker room manager used to run Treasure Casino in Renton. He's a goofy fellow, but he runs a tight tournament, and he offers the best low-buyin structure aroundL $5k chips instead of the normal $3k other places offer, and a better blind structure that allows for a little more post flop play.

I got there pretty early, about 45 minutes to spare, to avoid being an alternate. I wasn't sure how popular this place was, but I remember the first time I tried Treasure Casino with Cayne & Joshua, and I was something like the 14th alternate even with a half\hour before the first hand. This time I was definitely early enough, which was a good thing: the casino only has 3 tables for poker. The good news is that they end any cash games to insure that the tournament can reach capacity.

A side note about the casino; although it's in a somewhat sketchy location, the casino is pretty top notch. Brightly lit, friendly staff, decent food...and of course, PAI GOW! I didn't partake in any PAI GOW, because what fun is that all by yourself? Anyways, between the tournament structure and the quality of the casino, I definitely recommend this to any Seattle area players looking for a decent place for tournament play. MHG? Zeem, perhaps? Maybe one of these days I'll even manage to meet The Doc.

So a quick roundup of the tournament. I really only played 4 hands:

1. A9 on the button. Raised after MP limped, bet A-high flop, win pot.
2. 77 in MP. Raise after UTG limps (same guy as last time). Folds and he reraises about 4x. Later he claims to be bluffing when I ask if he had Aces there. It was a rhetorical question.
(Note: He later confirms his donkeyness when he calls in MP after 5x UTG raise, then still calls after BB shove & UTG call..for his entire stack. His hand? QT sooted. Up against TT and JJ, he finds a Q on the flop to triple up. Wheeeeeee.)
3. AQ sooted. Shove in BB after UTG raise; he was a pretty passive player and I figured there was a good chance I was either ahead or racing.
4. KK. Raise UTG, UTG+2 puts me allin. I know he probably has AA but AK or QQ are slight possibilities. Folding essentially leaves me with M of just over 6, but soon to be just over 3 as blinds are going up around the time I hit the button. I call and he shows the AA. IGHN.

Overall, the tournament is very weak: lots of preflop limping or min-raising, a couple of draw chasers, mostly tight postflop with fairly predictable players. On Thursdays, they have a double-stack tournament with even more intermediate blinds; I'm really looking forward to that.


So the meaning behind the post is two-fold. Not only was I back in another live game, but I'm back online as well. Even I knew it wouldn't last long, despite my last post.

After that last post, I had a measly bankroll of $7. I tried my hand at some $2 SNGs and busted out of each one, leaving me with $1 and some change, but not even enough for a $1 SNG. I had no intent of reloading, even for $50, so I figured I'd try to cash out my FTP points and pick up some shwag from the FTP store. Only problem is that I didn't have enough points for anything but random shit items. Instead, I found that FTP runs token SNGs for 1800 points, with the top 3 getting a $26 token.

7 tries, 4 tokens. I take a shot at a 90-seat KO and take 6th for $108. I take another shot, this time at a 5-table SNG, and finish 2nd for $270. Throw in a couple random SNG scores, and I end up trading in about 13,000 FTP points for a nice little bankroll of just under $500.

So yeah, I'm back.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

77 Cents

At one point earlier this week, 77 cents was all that was left in my bankroll. At that time, I was in a couple of KO SNGs, so I worked that all the way up to $7.77 before busting in both of them.

Last month, I split the remaining $600 of my bankroll between FTP & PokerStars. The FTP bankroll dissipated pretty quickly, the PokerStars balance held steady. I hit a point where I finally just had enough of online poker, and cashed out what I could from PS to go buy an XBox 360. I burned through the rest of my FTP roll with the intent of taking a long break from online poker until those KOs gave me something to work with again.

Either way, I'm basically done with online poker for an undetermined amount of time. This has been the result of a number of factors, including:

1. The difficulty and\or uncertainty of being able to cash out from poker sites
2. Burnout from increased playing time during this period of unemployment
3. The sudden inability to play without using scared money which coincided with the depletion of my severance package
4. A very long streak of bad beats from which I still haven't completely recovered (the tilt factor is gone but I'm still not playing my A game)
5. A desire to do other things with my time, which has proven difficult for me to manage with my desire to play poker & the ability to do so with more money than I've had in a long time
6. A change of my focus from having fun & improving my game to chasing money & an unhealthy emotional investment in the game

So for now until who knows when, I'll be more absent than before in any blogger events. This blog will still keep going; I've got fantasy football to write about at least, and I still intend to keep up my live game as much as possible. And perhaps that small amount in my bankroll is the beginning of a new bankroll challenge or something.

But right now, there's too much uncertainty in my life to justify gambling with what qualifies for me as a significant amount of money. If I find a new job soon, perhaps things will change, or perhaps I'll find the break refreshing & stay away for a while. Personally, I can't help but be a bit nervous about the difficulties I faced cashing my money out (especially in the state I reside in) as being a sign of things to come. At some point, this online poker thing will come crashing down even further if not changed radically. I don't have a pulse on the industry to know much about it but it seems inevitable to me, and as quickly as the whole Neteller business went about, I'd hate to have a large sum of money tied up if something happened. Perhaps I'm being paranoid, but I'd be less concerned about losing money to something like that when I'm in a better place in other areas of my life.


Now, time for some fantasy football content.

First things first: I'd like to point out that I was right about Willie Parker surpassing last year's TD total. I just didn't expect it'd happen in one game. Hell motherfuckin yeah!

Luckily for me, the first week in Skidoo's league didn't count, as I was up against the juggernaut that is MattyEbs, who had both McNabb & Westbrook, along with decent performances from the rest of his team. In my other league, which drafted in time to have the first week count, I eeked out a victory thanks to Tony Scheffler's only catch Monday night, which was a nice little 72-yarder.

Skidoo's league is a 12-team league; I've only been in 10 team leagues for the past couple of years. Had I known this, I would have drafted a bit differently. I mentioned last time about my second-guessing of the Romo pick, but now, what I'm even more concerned about is my WR depth, or lack thereof. I'm fine with Santonio Holmes and Greg Jennings, but I have no confidence in Bernard Berrian as a 3rd WR in a league that starts three.

It could be worse though; I could have been the one to draft Brady.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Fantasy Football, Take 2

Tonight was (finally) the draft for Skidoo's league, including such esteemed bloggers as the aforementioned commissioner, myself, Schaubs, meanhappyguy, NumbBono, and others (I don't know any of the other bloggers in the league). Since it was a 12 team league, I changed my draft strategy a bit. Overall I'm not completely happy with my team but I think I'll do alright. Here's a recap:

I ended up with the 5th draft slot and was left to choose between Joseph Addai & Stephen Jackson. I chose Addai because I think he'll be featured more in Indy's offense this year & because of health reasons too, despite Jackson being the better receiver.

In the 2nd round, there were still a handful of good running backs around (Jacobs, MJD, McGahee, McFadden, & Parker), most 2nd-tier WRs (Burress, Colston, Fitzgerald), but still one top-3 QB left: Romo. That gives me two leagues, two starting QBs named Romo. I hate the fact that I have to cheer for him every week now but I'll manage.

In the 3rd round, I took Willie Parker over other RBs like Jamal Lewis, Reggie Bush, Michael Turner & Earnest Graham. Lewis is the most proven but I'm not certain he can replicate what he did last year. Bush is still living on potential, as is Turner. I like Graham but chose to go with Parker because I think he'll get the yardage but also more than two TDs with Najeh Davenport out of the picture. Plus, being a Steelers fan, it was a no-brainer.

With two RBs and no WRs, it was obvious what I would have to do in the 4th & 5th rounds. In the 4th round, I chose Santonio Holmes over Roy Williams & Boldin because I think he's going to be the featured WR in that offense (as well as being a Steeler too). In the 5th round, the WR pool was getting thin, and I had to settle with Greg Jennings as my 2nd WR, over options like Roddy White, Chris Chambers, and Lee Evans.

Here's where things got a little bit tricky. This league starts three WRs and two RBs, which still left me short 1 starter in the main positions. However, by round 6, there really weren't any WRs that stood out for me. So, I used back to back picks to add some depth to my RBs with Edgerrin James & Chris Perry. I probably could have waited on Perry as it seems like others had him rated lower than I did.

I grabbed my other WR in round 8 with Bernard Berrian. I still needed a TE, but most other teams had their TEs already, and I was fine with my choice of Owen Daniels, Ben Watson or Tony Scheffler, so I used my next picks to build more depth, selecting DJ Hackett & and a backup\bye week QB in Matt Schaub. I also grabbed my defense in Round 9 with Seattle.

Surprisingly, a couple other teams started drafting backup TEs, so with Watson & Daniels now gone, and one other team still needing a starter, I was forced to grab Scheffler in Round 12. I was hoping to wait another round and grab a sleeper like Chris Johnson, or deepen my WR corps with Drew Bennett or Derrick Mason, but I couldn't wait.

After picking up Ronald Curry in Round 13, I started getting indecisive and grabbed my kicker the next round in Rob Bironas. It was pretty much slim pickings at that point so I didn't really care. Since this was such a deep league, I went for the handcuff and drafted Dominic Rhodes in Round 15.

The last two round were meaningless; I timed out in Round 16 and got a backup TE in Zach Miller (Go ASU!) then added more depth to WR with Shaun McDonald.

So, to recap, here's my roster with starters in bold:

QB: Romo, Schaub
RB: Addai, W. Parker, E. James, C. Perry, D. Rhodes
WR: S. Holmes, Jennings, Berrian, R. Curry, S. McDonald, DJ Hackett
TE: Scheffler, Z. Miller
K: Bironas
D: Seattle

Looking back, I think I might have been better off passing on Romo and going RB-RB-WR. I could have gone Addai-Parker- and Fitzgerald, Housh, or Holt, still grab Holmes or Boldin in the 4th, and go with Big Ben, Palmer or Hasselbeck at QB. I think Romo is still a Top-3 QB this year but the difference between him & the othe QB's I mentioned may not be as big as the difference between those WRs and Greg Jennings.

So instead, my WR corp is thin and lacking a proven scorer. I expect Holmes to improve upon last year, but Jennings & Berrian as my other starters leave a lot to be desired. Since I don't really have any horses I can just run each week, I might have to play the matchups & put Curry or Hackett in there more often than just as bye-week replacements.

The one thing I do like about my team is my depth at RB. I've got a good 1-2 punch at RB with Addai & Parker (I expect Parker will get more than 2 TDs this year) and I have two starters backing them up (although Perry is probably more of a timeshare with Kenny Watson). Plus I have my handcuff in the event Addai goes down, and Rhodes has performed well when plugged in as a starter.

Overall, I'm satisfied but not ecstatic with my team. Maybe I should have let Romo slide, but then again, if he's still there in the 3rd, it's even harder justifying a WR over him at that point, so I won't beat myself up about it.

I've got one more draft, but it's Saturday morning, so I might just let that one run on autodraft. Either way, I won't be recapping that one. Good luck to everyone else in their FF leagues this year (that excludes anyone in Skidoo's league).

Monday, September 01, 2008

Fantasy Football Content

Sorry, no poker content in this post except a congrats to Jamyhawk for what I think is his biggest score yet. Well done sir!

I had the first of my three FF drafts, this one being the $100 league I've played in for years. There aren't too many old-timers left in this one, just me, the commish & two others, but most everyone else has been around for about two years.

What I love about this league is that it's fairly active but most of the people are clueless when it comes to FF drafts. For example, some of the highlights this year were:

- Reggie Bush going at the No. 7 pick overall
- David Garrard going in the 4th round (and the No. 6 QB overall)
- My favorite pick: Travis Henry going in the 7th round
- The first K was drafted in the 9th round (Gostkowski) and four were gone by the 12th round

I ended up with the two spot out of 10 teams and surprised a lot of people when I chose Westbrook over Adrian Peterson. I think it's a no-brainer; Westbrook may not put up 40 point weeks as often as AP but he also won't give you as many 6 point weeks either. He's a high scorer AND he's consistent, which is exactly what you want from your first pick. In fact, I would probably take Addai over AP as well.

I changed up my draft strategy from last year a bit as the whole idea of going RB-RB the first two rounds isn't necessarily the standard anymore. For someone with my draft position, the difference in quality between a RB in the 2nd round & one in the 3rd or 4th round isn't as big as it used to be. Instead, I focused on trying to get as many elite players as I could. When it came back to me in Round 2, 3 receivers were gone: Edwards, Moss, and Owens (in that order too). With Reggie Wayne the only other elite WR left, I took him with my eyes on Willie Parker in the 3rd.

The only other person ahead of me was thinking the same & grabbed Parker before my turn in the 3rd round. There weren't many No. 2 RBs that I wanted to take (McGahee, J. Lewis, T. Jones, Jacobs, McFadden). There were still some quality WRs left, but there was only one elite player left: Mr. Jessica Simpson himself, Tony Romo. So with my first three picks, I got a Top-3 RB, a Top-3 WR, and a Top-3 QB. So far, so good.

Rounds 4-6 saw a couple players drop much further than they should have & right into my lap: Holt, Maroney, and T. Jones. Each one of those players have some question marks, but as proven starters, they were great value for the No. 2 spots on my team. I had a brain fart in Round 7 and took Julius Jones way too early, especially with Selvon Young & Kevin Smith (and Travis Henry) still on the board. I could have waited on him but I wasn't paying attention.

Rounds 8-11 started seeing a run on Defenses, but they were still going way too early. I was hoping Jacksonville would fall to me in the 12th but they were taken the pick right before mine. Instead, I used these rounds to build depth, again with players who really fell too far. In order, my picks were: Jericho Cotchery, Roddy White, Matt Schaub, and Chris Perry. Decent starters in real-life, perfect for the bench in fantasy.

I still needed a TE, a K and a D, but most of those could wait. Instead, I used my Round 12 pick on my only "sleeper" pick for the year, D.J Hackett of Carolina. He showed good ability when I saw him with Seattle & he could really emerge as a good No. 2 WR with Steve Smith. I finally grabbed my TE in Round 13, the great Tony Scheffler. In hindsight, I probably would have taken Tony Gonzalez over RB depth earlier in the draft (any other "top" TEs were drafted too high for my taste) but I think Scheffler could put up decent numbers in Denver. Really, most TEs are crapshoots anyways; they're too inconsistent to predict, so you just want someone who can catch the ball. Scheffler can do that.

The rest of my picks were made by the commissioner as I had to bail out early to go catch Stone Temple Pilots headlining the 2nd night of the Bumbershoot Festival, just 2 blocks from my apartment. Overall, aside from the Julius Jones blunder, I'm fairly happy with my draft. I might have to play the lineups a little more, rather than just rolling with my horses each week, but I was able to get 3 elite players plus a lot of depth at the key positions. So, for Week 1, here's my roster (starters in bold):

QB: Romo, Schaub. Delhomme
RB: Westbrook, T. Jones, Maroney, J. Jones, C. Perry
WR: Wayne, Holt, Cotchery, R. White, DJ Hackett
TE: Scheffler
K: John Kasay
D: New York Giants

I'll probably put up another FF post later this week, once Skidoo's blogger league draft is finished.