Thursday, March 19, 2015

Short-Stacked Again

Enjoying March Madness this afternoon, despite the fact that one of my Final Four picks has already been thrown over the side before the tournament was even three hours old.

Of course, with the two big upsets this afternoon -- UAB over Iowa State (my Final Four team) and Georgia State over Baylor -- “busted bracket” is already the theme all over. Saw a stat a short while ago that after the first three of 63 games were done, just 86,737 of the 11.57 million entries in the ESPN Tournament Challenge had picked all three winners.

The analogy between the NCAA tournament and a poker tournament doesn’t really work, unless, of course, we’re talking about a heads-up event. But those of us in NCAA pools are very much like competitors in a poker tournament, with the “stacks” (or possible points) all starting out even and then instantly beginning to differentiate with the completion of each game.

A few years ago I remember coming on here and whimpering a little about having dropped to the bottom of the “counts” after the first two rounds. But with all four of my Final Four teams still intact and seven Elite Eight teams still alive, I was short-stacked but still competitive -- kind of like being below the average in chips but still okay in terms of big blinds.

Meanwhile, just like in a poker tournament, those leading after the first rounds (or “levels”) are hardly guaranteed to win or even make the money. Picking later round games correctly earns more points as well, just like the pots later on are bigger and the significance of winning or losing has a greater impact on ultimate results.

And while my poor start doesn’t make me want to consider it that closely, it’s certainly possible to bust altogether early on if one has played (or picked) badly enough -- or suffers enough bad fortune.

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