Monday, November 09, 2009

2009 WSOP Main Event Heads Up: Moon v. Cada and/or Luck v. Skill

One more day of play at the Rio, and the 40th World Series of Poker will at long last be completed. (Had to share that cool FlipChip pic from Saturday night there to the left.) What a lo-o-o-o-ong, strange trip it’s been.

Joe Cada and Darvin Moon are scheduled to begin their heads-up battle at 10 p.m. Vegas time, although if things go the way they usually do cards won’t be in the air until some time after that.

For those of us here on the east coast, then, that’s after 1 a.m. Would mean a late, late night, but I’m thinking I’ll probably follow along anyhow. Could be wrong, but I am encouraged to stay up by the belief that the match might well be a short one. Gotta couple of reasons for thinking that.

When play resumes, Cada will have 135,950,000 chips and Moon 58,850,000. (Interestingly, Moon has almost exactly the same stack as he had when the final table began, when his 58,930,000 gave him a huge lead over his eight opponents.) They are in the middle of Level 39, with blinds of 500,000/1,000,000 and 150,000 antes. Not sure exactly, but it looks as though they have about a half-hour or so left at this level, after which the price to play Level 40 will be 600,000/1.2 million blinds and 200,000 antes.

Last year Peter Eastgate and Ivan Demidov came back on Monday night to Level 37 (300,000/600,000/75,000), so they are a little farther along in the schedule this time around. Last year players in the Main Event began with 20,000 chips, as opposed to 30,000 in 2009. There were 6,844 entrants in 2008, meaning the final two players had a little over 137 million between them. A total of 6,494 came out in 2009, and so Cada and Moon have just under 195 million on the table.

Was fussing over this some last year -- this business of calculating the “M” of each player here at the start of heads-up play. Remember, a player’s “M” (from Dan Harrington’s Harrington on Hold’em books) is the total “cost” to play one orbit, i.e., the blinds and antes. So here we’re talking about the small blind + the big blind + two antes. Harrington’s “M” figure doesn’t really have the same significance for heads up as it does in full-ring play, of course, although it does provide a way to talk about relative stack sizes between tourneys.

Last year Eastgate had an “M” of approximately 76 and Demidov about 55 when they began, and those two went for 105 more hands. Over at the WSOPE Main Event in 2008, John Juanda had an “M” of around 63 and Stanislav Alekhin of close to 41 when they began heads up, and those two went on for an epic 242 hands (like seven hours or something). That difference proves that “M” doesn’t necessarily help us predict how long heads up will go, since when the “M” is above a certain point how long they play mostly depends on players’ styles and their approach to the endgame.

For comparison’s sake, when they return tonight Cada will have an “M” of just over 75 and Moon just under 33. So theoretically, these guys could go on for a hundred or even two hundred hands, but I ain’t seeing that happening.

One difference from the 2008 WSOP and WSOPE Main Events is the fact that Cada has a more than two-to-one chip advantage here. That alone decreases the likelihood that we’ll see the sort of patience demonstrated in the other examples, although again -- theoretically -- it doesn’t mean they can’t be patient.

However, here I think it is clear that the amateur Moon is not interested in trying to outplay Cada after the flop very much, and so will be encouraged both by his chip disadvantage and skill disadvantage to start shoving right away. In fact, I’d be very surprised if Moon did not begin moving all in from the very first hands tonight. (That said, we’ve been surprised by Moon before!)

Cada certainly improves his chances if he shows some patience and waits for a decent hand with which to accept that first invitation to an all-in challenge, although if Moon does force the issue this way and try to negate (or at least mute) Cada’s skill advantage, the kid is still going to have to have a hand hold up to win the sucker.

We might well see some post-flop poker tonight, but it appears more likely it’s gonna be flipping coins. Moon’ll have to win that first one in order to have a second go. If he does, then Cada will have to win the next one in order to survive. Both made it this far via a combination of skill and luck, but it sure seems that luck will prevail tonight.

Or not. Which is why I’ll be staying up to see what happens. Will be truckin’ over to PokerNews’ live reporting page as usual, where FerricRamsium and Donnie Peters will chronicle the hands, and Gloria Balding will interview the players.

See you there!

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1 Comments:

Anonymous rakeback said...

I think in the case of Darvin Moon, he seems to have benefited from very timely hands much more than he has played skillful poker. ESPN can frame things however they like, and show hands that portray players in a certain light, so without watching many more hands it would be difficult to determine this for sure, but I dont see Moon ever contending for another bracelet.

11/09/2009 7:57 PM  

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