As I did last year, I joined a pool again this time around in which we pick winners for all the games (straight up, not against the spread). No fantasy football stuff for me, I’m afraid. Never did get into that whole phenomenon, and I still can’t quite figure out how it can be enjoyable to watch games pulling for particular players to perform rather than teams to win or lose. But lots of people do.
I managed to pick New Orleans to beat Minnesota last night. The Saints won 14-9, meaning I begin my year of picking games 1-0. Just 255 games to go, I believe.
I did notice that the line for the game -- at least when I checked it yesterday -- had New Orleans favored by six points. And I also noticed how the N.O. kicker, Garrett Hartley, missed a couple of field goals, including a chip shot from 32 yards midway through the fourth quarter, meaning those who bet on the Saints versus the spread lost their bets. And those who took the Vikings and the points were winners.
The second missed field goal -- the one that would have pushed the lead beyond the point spread -- reminded me of that helpless feeling I tend to associate with betting on sports. You can educate yourself, studying trends and weighing probabilities with a careful eye before placing your wagers. But in the end, others are gonna decide your fate. Every single time.
In poker, we’re similarly subject to forces outside of our control, but we’re usually given lots of opportunities to decide how much or how little we want to subject ourselves to those forces. That’s one way of describing the difference, anyway.
For example, yesterday I jumped into an $8.80 satellite to one of the WCOOP events on PokerStars in which I came up short. As happens in these things, I made a key decision at the end that ultimately affected my result -- in this case, negatively. And while I fell victim to an unfortunate card falling, I still felt as though I had something to do with how things turned out.
The satellite was for today’s Event No. 16, the $215 buy-in six-handed pot-limit Omaha event. (See the full WCOOP schedule here). The tourney was set up as a six-handed turbo (five-minute levels) and was actually a rebuy, too, although I managed to chip up enough during the rebuy period to avoid having to do so. I didn’t take the add on, either, meaning I was only in for the original $8.80. Forty players entered, and with the rebuys and addons that ended up meaning the top four finishers would get spots in the event, with fifth-place getting a decent payday (like $180 or something) as well.
I bobbed and weaved my way into the final nine with a below average stack, then won a couple of pots after that to sit with 15,885 chips -- fourth out of the remaining nine, I believe. At the time, I had the biggest stack at my four-handed table, with the others having 12,625, 6,500, and 3,400. Looking back, I’m thinking it might well have been time to put my head in the turtle shell and tighten up, but that isn’t what happened.
I picked up under the gun and raised pot to 1,750, half-anticipating a possible showdown with one of the shorties. The one with 3,400 was on the button and (strangely) just called the raise. The SB folded, but then the big blind -- with 12,625 to start -- decided to reraise to 7,250.
I could well have let go here. I am capable of folding aces preflop in PLO, which in some cases can be warranted, especially if they aren’t suited or have any other big cards to go with them. I did have that small diamond draw, but really this wasn’t such a great A-A-x-x hand. Right or wrong, I went for it, reraising and we ended up having a three-way, all-in situation. The short stack had and the larger stack in the BB had .
I glanced at all three hands and decided I liked mine best, and in fact, according to Two Dimes, I’m 51% to win here. But I was hardly feeling comfortable.
The flop was decent -- . I was still ahead and still a slight favorite. But the turn was the -- the case king! (ack!) -- giving my bigger-stacked opponent a set, and the on the river sealed it. That knocked me back to just 3,200 or so, and it wasn’t long before I was all in against two players with a marginal hand and got bounced in seventh place.
Was kicking myself afterwards over it, but I can’t say I felt nearly as helpless about it as I would have if I’d lost a bundle thanks to a player missing a short field goal late in the game as happened last night. After all, I made the call, one of many decisions I made during the course of the tourney. Wasn’t like I just sat there and let it happen without me.
Gonna go study the Sunday schedule now to see if I can keep up my streak. Meanwhile, I have a new piece up over on Betfair called “A Game You Cannot Quit,” if you’re looking for more reading material. Am kind of curious to get feedback on that one, actually.
Enjoy your weekend, all!