Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Golden Hammer Thoughts

I had just finished up a solid dinner with my posse, and had some time to kill before we dropped off two of our group at the airport for the Saturday red-eye. There was a call for more gambling, which I was not against, but I informed them that first I wanted to check in on the tournament, now heading into hour 9.

Last year's game finished around 11. The year previous, with a larger field, I bubbled in 10th around the same time. At 9pm, I figured the game was still far from over.

We walked in as a break was winding down and the remaining six were milling about the table waiting to start up again. I was happy to see so many familiar faces still in the game. And even though we were long eliminated thanks to my inability to win a damn hand, seeing teammate MiamiDon with a big stack in front of him was great.

Now, having gone deep the previous two years, I know how much of a grind it can be. I don't know if there was a dinner break this year, but there wasn't the previous. I was hungry, tired, and frankly a little sick of playing poker for so long for both my runs. My friends were out drinking and rolling dice and eating and generally having more fun than me, and the longer the game went, the more I wanted to be out there with them. Hell, both years I missed the chance to see one of my buddies off to the airport.

But I would have never chopped for the trophy.

Al made the offer to JoeSpeaker and myself the previous year when we were three-handed. "Chop, but I get the trophy!" No way. Joe and I looked at each other incredulously. How could Al make that offer? We'd happily chop the cash 3-ways, or even give Al a premium since he was in the lead at the time, but we were playing for the trophy. One a year gets handed out, and the list of champions is still short. Al refused to chop if he didn't get the Golden Hammer handed to him. So I ended it with, "That's the sort of thing someone who doesn't think they can win it on their own would say."

Now, I don't fault Don for offering the chop, or taking it. Hell, if I was in a dominant lead, I'd put it out there, expecting nobody to take it. Negotiating requires you to ask for more than you think you'll get, because what will you lose? Plus, Don had a very healthy stack of orange chips in front of him, and it could be argued that he was the most feared player at the table. But for FIVE other people to say "sure, no problem" without even an ATTEMPT at negotiation? Nobody even tried to talk him down on the cash - why not say, "You get 2nd place money minus whatever puts the rest of us at 3rd place cash?"

Cash aside, only ONE person (and I don't even know who he is) said, "I kinda want the trophy." Which he quickly followed with, "But I'm good with the chop." Don even put it out there that he was happy to play on if ANYBODY didn't like the chop. Nobody spoke up. I get the shortstacks taking the deal, their chances of getting past 5 other players slim, but that leaves 3 other players who had a legitimate shot at the championship who shrugged and went with it.

Poker is a grind, and after 9 hours, I get the desire to stand up and leave with over a grand in your pocket. Bills to pay, losses to cover, people have their reasons for wanting or needing the money. But this wasn't the noon $150 tournament, this was the WPBT Winter Classic, which I THOUGHT was a championship coveted by our little group. I was PROUD to have won the trophy outright, and would have been ashamed if I'd taken the money instead of trying to take the championship. Hell, if even ONE person had spoken up and said "No, I didn't just put most of my Saturday into this to not take a shot at the Hammer," and been talked into the chop by the rest, then someone could have held their head up. Instead, a few hundred extra bucks locked in was enough to toss pride aside.

Don made a big play without a single card and won. He won the trophy and the tournament with one last big bet. Do I think that's a deserving way to win a championship? No. Do I feel it tarnishes the win? Yes. Do I fault him for taking it? No. I probably would have done the same in Don's position, because I would have never expected FIVE of our crew to agree to such a ridiculous offer. Everyone who said yes though? You come off as a sellout.


Bayne_S said...

This would have never happened if Dawn hadn't caught a river diamond to put me out 7th

SirFWALGMan said...

Good post man.

Shrike said...

Food for thought, for sure.


Dawn Summers said...

Ouch. Well, I guess I think you let me off the hook here since I had maybe four big blinds when I somehow managed to get third place money, so I will try not to cry myself to sleep too hard tonight.

Schaubs said...

When its all said and done, the trophy is just that - a trophy.

I agree with everything you said.

put a * on the engraving.

Astin said...

Dawn - I get where you and Buddy (I think?) came from. You were the shortstacks and it was a big jump in pay when your shot at winning was minimal. But the gap between 1st and 4th was not insurmountable.

Even then - the shorties could have spoken up about the trophy being on the line too. No harm in counter-offering with "the money's good, but not the trophy."

Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Is this even close to as bad though as that time that I had the temerity to buy a BBT Tournament of Champions seat?

Seriously, I had no idea six people chopped this thing up. That is pretty unbelievable. Not sure how anybody can really claim to have "won" the trophy. It's one thing if you're heads up and have a 10 to 1 chip lead -- the odds are strongly in your favor that you are going to win. But with six players left? That is a million miles away from knowing who the winner was going to be. How much of the chips in play did Don have when the chop occurred?

jasper6294 said...

I can't speak to anyone else's motivation, but I intentionally waited to be the last one to speak. And I decided that I wasn't going to be the "new guy" going against what everyone else wanted. That being said, after the money agreement, we should have played it out. Hindsight.

23skidoo said...

Leave it to Hoy to insert himself into it.

Having watched the final 4 tables down to 1 and given the fact that Don had easily 1/4 of the chips in play, I thought it was a pretty generous offer by him. I won't speak for him but he made an offer that he didn't think would be accepted and it was. He wanted the trophy more than anyone else at the table and got it. I respect your position, but I consider the trophy earned.

Astin said...

Jasper - that's exactly the impression I got from you.

Ski - Like I said, I don't fault Don one bit. I have to think he was surprised the offer was taken too, and he gave everyone a couple chances to change their minds. I also don't doubt he wanted it more. It's also pretty likely that Don would have run over the last 5 players with his chipstack and won anyway. But that doesn't change that it took five bloggers basically declaring that they didn't care about winning for it to happen when it did.

Astin said...

Hoy - glad you brought this up, because I thought about it too. I don't think I had a problem with you buying the seat back then. Any deal is valid at the tables as far as I'm concerned.

I can't recall exactly, but you either bought the seat off someone who already had one, or just didn't care about the BBT itself.

What annoys me with this instance is that it wasn't a bunch of random people at the table. If it was some of my friends, some G-Vegas guys who don't blog, etc, then you'd have Don and 5 people who don't really care or understand about the trophy. But it was largely recognizable bloggers who had been to multiple events, taken part in the weekly games, and still actively participate in this community. For them to shrug and take the money still amazes me.

Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Btw of course I was kidding about my "buying" the BBT seat way back when. What I did was about as far from "buying a seat" as one could possibly get -- I had a chip lead and was easily the more skilled player at the game (stud hilo as I recall), playing against a guy I'd never heard of who doesn't blog, and I wouldn't in a gillion years ever have even thought of a chop let alone suggested it. He was the one who suggested it, I was really not wanting to do it and told him so, and then he insisted that he could not play in the ToC regardless, was not going to be available. I still pushed back on him, but he wasn't going to play it out. I refused to offer him any more than an even-money split of the remaining prize pool because I had zero desire to chop for the seat, and he accepted after being the only one to push for the chop all along. It would be difficult to imagine someone "buying a seat" less than I did under those circumstances.

And let's not even mention that twice in the preceding few weeks before my "buying the seat", two different bloggers in two different tournaments had basically paid over the entire first-place money to someone after lobbying hard to get them to give up the seat in exchange for the money.

Just sayin'.

It's also hard to imagine someone giving (only) me crap for weighing in with my two cents on this issue when you posted it on your blog, but I guess that's just what bloggerdom has become these days.

SirFWALGMan said...

Hoy totally bought the seat and would have lost.

Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

God I hate when he undermines me like that.