Monday, November 17, 2008

No Worries

Scott Montgomery accepts his fateWatched a little football yesterday. Toward the early evening, once the Titans-Jaguars game had wrapped up, CBS moved over to show the last couple of plays of that crazy Pittsburgh-San Diego game which I’m sure Mean Gene had been watching closely all afternoon.

The game ended with the unlikely score of 11-10, the Steelers on top. Pittsburgh had scored a safety early on, then kicked three field goals to arrive at 11. With the Chargers down to their last play, the stats guys reported no NFL game had ever ended with that score (in over 12,000 games). San Diego then tried a trick play involving multiple laterals, ended up botching one and Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu scooped it up and ran it in the end zone as the clock ran out, making the score a much less unusual 17-10.

But the refs conferred for several minutes, decided there had been an illegal forward pass earlier in the play which meant they were ruling the play dead. Game over. 11-10. However, the refs botched this one, too. As ref Scott Green admitted after the game was over, the play shouldn’t have been ruled dead at all since the illegal pass had never touched the ground. “It was incorrect to have killed it at that point,” said Green. “The ruling should have let the play go on.”

Now none of this really matters as far as the outcome of the game goes. However, as I was watching, I was thinking of the screams of agony that had to be filling the air in the Vegas sportsbooks. Pittsburgh was a five-point favorite yesterday, see, meaning that final, nutty play had a lot of significance to anyone who had bet on the game, regardless which team one had picked. For the guy who had bet on the Steelers to cover the spread, he became subject to an incredibly unlikely slowroll, thinking he’d won, then learning he’d lost, then learning he’d lost only because the refs screwed up!

Speaking of unlikely outcomes, I had found myself a little earlier in the afternoon flipping the channels once the Titans had appeared to have taken control of their game with the Jaguars, and at one point landed on ESPN where they were replaying the World Series of Poker Main Event final table. Now I had seen the entire show last week and really there wasn’t much compelling me to watch it again. However, I realized there was one moment I knew I wanted to see one more time -- that hand in which Peter Eastgate rivered Scott Montgomery with the case six to knock Montgomery out in fifth place. Talk about unlikely. There was only one card left in that deck that could’ve ended Montgomery’s day, and out it came.

The reason why I wanted to see that hand again was not because I enjoyed seeing Montgomery bust out in such wicked fashion, nor that I particularly liked seeing Eastgate win the hand. No, the reason I wanted to see it again was to see Montgomery’s reaction -- that wonderful mix of self-effacing humor, quiet acknowledgment, and good sportsmanship. We’ve all suffered bad beats, but this one was about as brutal as it gets. And Montgomery’s response was a model of grace.

It was also a pretty cool “sports” moment to watch again, too. To remind you, Eastgate had made it 1.25 million from middle position. ESPN then shows Dennis Phillips checking his hole cards -- which indeed included the 6c -- before folding. Montgomery then reraises all in with his last 7 million-plus from the small blind, and Eastgate calls, showing 6h6s to Montgomery’s Ad3d.

The flop comes AcQs4h, and Phillips is heard saying he had folded a black six. Montgomery quickly estimates that the Kd on the turn would leave Eastgate drawing dead. (So would a few other diamonds, I suppose.) He also smilingly says something in there about how “that will make it that much worse when the six comes on the river.” (I’d check on PokerTube, but it is currently down for maintenance.)

The turn is the As, which gives Montgomery trips but actually is a meaningless card. I know ESPN dubbed in the commentary later, but they did a nifty job here with Lon McEachern’s call: “And now the riverrRROHHHHHH!!!!!” -- his cry matching the crowd’s uproar at the appearance of the 6d. Phillips immediately backs away from the table in horror. “A one-outer,” you can hear him say.

Montgomery just sits there for a moment smiling, as if he knew it was coming. I’d see his funny spot on the earlier ESPN telecast, as well as heard him interviewed on Pocket Fives (the 10/30 episode), and so was already inclined toward liking the guy. But this reaction -- see the above screen shot -- was just simply terrific. With a big grin he stands up and shakes hands, makes a joke with Ylon Schwartz (it appears), and ambles off. Such is life. Would that we all were able to understand and accept it so well.

I’m guessing those poor saps who bet on the Steelers to cover yesterday probably reacted a little differently.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Certain irony to his bust out. If I remember correctly he hit a 1 outer to stay alive when there were something like 20 people left.

11/17/2008 11:17 AM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

True -- perhaps made it easier for him to be so diplomatic here?

BTW, just read something about $64 million swing thanks to the refs' snafu at end of Pitt-SD game lol.

11/17/2008 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Robert Dudek said...

I guess it is a pet peeve of mine, but why do people insist on calling it getting "rivered" when all the money went in pre-flop?

At that point the order the five cards come out doesn't matter at all. If the six had come among the first three cards it would all be the same.

Despite one six being burned, Eastgate is still a favourite to win the hand when all the money went in - 62.3% equity (and perhaps an ace was burned as well, though I don't think the TV broadcast showed all the hole cards).

11/17/2008 1:04 PM  
Blogger Pokerwolf said...

The Steelers-Chargers game is making people consider if the game was fixed or not in the bookies' favor.

11/17/2008 1:09 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Point taken there, Robert -- just aiming for narrative expediency there, not intending to suggest Montgomery was "rivered" as if he were ahead when the money went in. (And yes, I believe no other hole cards were shown than Phillips'.)

Dunno about the Pitt-SD game being fixed, but I think I saw something about the penalties called in the game being fairly lopsided, too (like 13-2 against Pitt., I believe).

11/17/2008 1:53 PM  
Anonymous Robert Dudek said...

My comment wasn't at all directed at you, Shamus.

I suppose it is directed to the media at large, starting with ESPN all the way through to the podcasts I listen to (and enjoy).

As a case in point, much was made on Big Poker Sundays (a show I think is even better than it was with Schleger co-hosting) of how the Craig Marquis knockout was sick. But there the money went all in pre-flop as well.

I don't see anything particularly exciting about running 5 cards after all the money is in. But the media, starting with WPT broadcasts many years ago, make a huge deal about it.

Commentary ought to focus on the play of hands that involve players making decisions under conditions of uncertainty - such as the Schwartz hand when he checked two pair on the river and induced an oops value bet from Demidov.

The run of five cards after the money is in pre-flop should receive no more than perfunctory attention.

11/17/2008 3:15 PM  
Blogger Erwin Blonk said...

I'm a Patriots fan, can I have some sympathy...... please?

11/17/2008 5:30 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...

I would be semi-interested in watching a DVD of all the hands of the final table(or any final table) just to appreciate the ebb and flow of the whole session, not just the TV highlights. Don't need(or want) commentary. Might be a case of be careful what you wish for as it could be terribly boring, but also could be fun.

Anyone know if such a thing is out there?

11/17/2008 5:51 PM  

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