Monday, March 30, 2015

Regional Finals, Final Tables, and the Coming Final Four

Not unexpectedly, both my Heels and my NCAA bracket crumbled, and now I semi-dread the inevitable happening a week from today, namely a Kentucky-Duke final. (Others feel similarly?) Some exciting games, though, particularly in the regional finals.

Meanwhile I watched some poker on the computer this weekend, too. On Saturday I frequently dipped in and out of the EPT Live stream of the final table over at EPT Malta, including some of the seven-hour long heads-up battle between the two Frenchmen, Valentin Messina and Jean Montury that Montury ultimately won.

They ended up playing 148 hands total against one another, with the lead swinging back and forth in what turned out to be a hard-fought duel. What stood out the most, however, was the emotion Messina showed during his all-ins in the latter stages (such as pictured above in a screenshot from the stream).

Was hard not to be affected just a little watching him, something mentioned both in the commentary and in the PokerStars blog recap of the final table. The latter includes a nice picture of Montury consoling Messina after the final hand, as well as a good description of the scene by Howard Swains -- check it out.

Then on Sunday I followed a random tweet alerting me to the fact that Barry Greenstein had found his way over onto Twitch, and once on his channel I discovered him playing what turned out to be the priciest play money tournament ever on PokerStars, a 1 billion-play chip tournament that attracted 31 players.

Interestingly, Greenstein’s fellow Team PokerStars Pro Chris Moneymaker also took part, and the two of them ended up making it all of the way to heads-up against one another. Decidedly less emotion was on display for that heads-up match, although it was clear both were battling just as earnestly until Greenstein ultimately emerged the victor, winning 13.95 billion play-chip first prize while Moneymaker picked up 9.3 billion.

Obviously the kitty there was not as significant as what Montury and Messina were playing for (Montury won €687,400 while Messina took away €615,000 following a heads-up deal). Even so, from the rail both were interesting finishes to follow. And I guess the parallels help point up how poker can be meaningful at a wide variety of stakes, high to low.

I guess in both cases I wasn’t necessarily rooting for either player to win, but rather just to see a well-competed contest, which turned out to be so in both cases. Meanwhile we’ll see if that NCAA tournament comes down to the predictable heads-up next Monday, too, where (if does turn out to be the Wildcats and Blue Devils) I guess I’ll also lack any specific rooting interest.

Go Michigan State! Go Wisconsin!

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