Monday, March 10, 2008

In the Fishbowl

In the FishbowlWas kicking around the PLO tables on Stars yesterday afternoon and decided to watch a couple of the Sunday tourneys while I played. Spotted a short-stacked Annette “Annette_15” Obrestad bust out of the $200+$15 Sunday Warm Up. Moved over to the $100+$9 w/rebuys tourney and noticed a few familiar names up and down the leaderboard, including Jon “PearlJammer” Turner, Shane “Shaniac” Schleger, and Tim “Tmay420” West. Ended up spending a little bit of time railing a table featuring not one but two well-known online phenoms, Cliff “JohnnyBax” Josephy and Kevin “BeL0WaB0Ve” Saul. While there I witnessed a semi-interesting situation come up involving the two of them I thought I’d share.

This was not quite a couple of hours into the tourney – Level 8 (200/400 blinds with a 25-chip ante). Saul was actually the chip leader at the time with over 46,000 in chips. Meanwhile, Josephy had recently lost a chunk of his stack after missing a nut flush draw and found himself down to a lowly 4,145 in chips, putting him near the bottom of the 250 or so players remaining. Folded to Saul who from middle position put in a raise to 1,100. Another player folded, then Josephy raised all-in, pushing his remaining 4,120 into the middle.

It folded back around to Saul who took a few extra seconds deciding what to do. At the time, the pot was a little over 6,000, and it would take just about 3,000 for him to make the call -- about 2-to-1. As an untutored observer watching from afar, I couldn’t imagine Saul folding in this situation unless he had utter trash. And since he’d raised, it seemed as if he at least had something. But what do I know . . . .

Finally he made the call, and the cards were turned over. Josephy had a pair of kings, while Saul had Ah5c. Both players sarcastically typed “RACE!” as the cards came out. A king flopped, and Josephy managed to survive. “NICE SUCKOUT BAD,” wryly typed Saul. (I think he meant either “Bax” or “bud.”) Josephy quickly responded with a “tyty.”

During the next hand, Saul typed “id love to fold there...” Then, “but everyone screams chipdump if i do.” He added a little frowny face.

He’s right, of course. That thought had crossed my mind as I watched. As Saul hesitated before making the call, I thought about how these guys all know one another, and might very well soft play in situations just like this one. (The fact that Saul and Josephy work together at PokerXFactor perhaps encourages such suspicions even further, for those who can’t help indulgin’ in them.) Completely unfair, of course, for me to think that way, although in today’s collusion-clouded climate, such thoughts are understandably hard to avoid.

While Saul certainly shouldn’t feel obligated to make an incorrect and/or marginal play in a spot like that just to stave off unfounded charges of complicity, I have to say I do appreciate seeing some of these guys showing an awareness of such matters. Would definitely be unfair should anything like that be happening, and I imagine a few of those who were sitting around the pair’s table probably appreciated Saul’s post-hand disclaimer.

Kind of makes missteps such as the one made by Jonathan Little last week even harder to comprehend. Once you experience some success -- online or live -- yr in the fishbowl, whether you like it or not. And people be watchin’.

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