Sunday, August 30, 2009

My Fantasy Team

I am in a keeper league that gives .5pts per reception. Before each season, we sign one player to a 3-year contract (so we have them for two more seasons after the one about to be played) and two player to 2-year contracts. After last year's draft, I gave WR Larry Fitzgerald a 3-year contract and 2-year contracts to RB LaDainian Tomlinson and RB Michael Turner. Coming in I knew I would be giving another 3-year contract to Fitzgerald and another 2-year contract to Turner. I also knew there was no way I was going to re-sign LaDainian Tomlinson. I finished second in our 12-team league, so I would pick 11th this year, and then 14th in the snake draft. But one of the players was given the first overall pick after some controversy about trades last year was discussed, meaning I wouldn't pick till #12. Of course, everyone's keepers from last year are unavailable.

I had dreams of Detroit's Kevin Smith falling to me at the 12th spot, but he didn't make it. Dwayne Bowe, the only receiver I felt worthy of this position in the draft, was snapped up right before my pick. Although I advocate taking running backs early and often, I wasn't too pleased with the guys available here: Ryan Grant, Ronnie Brown, and Thomas Jones. So I pulled the trigger on TE Jason Witten, knowing I was going to then select Aaron Rodgers and give him a 2-year contract after the next guy (who already had Tom Brady) picked. Picking a tight end this high is totally out of character for me. I did so for the following reasons:
  1. Witten was an absolute monster last year before he was injured, posting numbers way ahead of any other tight end.
  2. With Terrell Owens gone I expect Tony Romo to look for BFF Witten even more this season
  3. There were no WRs I felt worthy of this spot
  4. I have two highly-projected backs already; I wasn't desperate for a running back although it would be a long time before I picked again.
  5. I had my eyes on some potentially explosive RBs I thought I could get in the late rounds, as well as plenty of quality receivers who would be available later.
I really expect Witten to blow away the other TEs this season. With Turner, Fitzgerald, and Tomlinson as the base, I am gunning for a championship now. Taking Rodgers with the next pick would give me a very sick RB-RB-WR-TE-QB front line.

I did put myself in a box next year - I will almost certainly have to draft a running back with my first pick.

Somehow Thomas Jones was still available twenty picks later. But I was scarred by Thomas Jones two years ago. I had him all season and he scored one freaking touchdown. I hate Thomas Jones. I think he's one of the most overrated players in football. He's old and has a lot of mileage. I expect the Jets to stink. They will be looking to get the ball to Leon Washington and rookie Shonn Greene. And one of my rules in fantasy football is not to draft Jones Bros. Problem is no other running back interested me at this point. So I went with the best player available/highest upside approach and took WR Lee Evans. Then with the wraparound pick, I drafted WR Eddie Royal, who
  1. I could see grabbing 130 balls this season.
  2. Is probably my favorite player right now
  3. Plays for the home team
  4. May have my dog named after him if "Royal" fits the appearance
I have been eyeing Julius Jones for weeks despite my "no Jones Bros" rule. So when Le'Ron McClain, Knowshon Moreno, Fred Jackson, and Felix Jones were picked ahead of him, I grew increasingly excited. But two picks before I was slated to punch him in, he was drafted. I immediately offered my pick plus a late-round pick for Seattle's #1 back. He accepted, and I had not only broken the No Jones Bros. rule, but even traded a pick for RB Julius Jones. The pick would be virtually meaningless as it was my final slot due to some trades for picks I had worked in '08. I just had to get another back, and hated my other options.

WR Donnie Avery's upside was way too high to be ignored with the next pick, figuring I could still take some chances on RBs later. Those opportunities came in the next round, where I had two picks. I watched the Bucs preseason game the other night and cooled on Derrick Ward, as he appears to be in a fight for carries with a suddenly-healthy Cadillac Williams along with Earnest Graham. Apparently my whole league was cool on him though; when he dropped all the way to my next pick, I felt I had no choice but to make Derrick Ward running back #4. RB Michael Bush was then selected to provide even more depth, followed by Chicago defense - which Football Outsiders has tagged as the #1 in fantasy by a wide margin.

Justin Gage went the pick before my next one, which alerted me to the fact that WR Nate Washington was still on the board, a natural selection at that point. I then picked my second Bronco - QB Kyle Orton, who will back up Rodgers.

I knew in advance RB James Davis would be my second to last pick, followed by a kicker - who turned out to be Kris Brown. Nobody picked Jerome Harrison or Cadillac Williams, so I will be following Cleveland and Tampa closely to see what develops there. Other free agents on my radar include Dustin Keller, Davone Bess, Troy Williamson, Mike Walker, Johnnie Lee Higgins, Mark Clayton, Deion Branch, Greg Camarillo, Bobby Engram, and Mark Bradley.

The team is:

RB Michael Turner
RB LaDainian Tomlinson
RB Julius Jones
RB Derrick Ward
RB Michael Bush
RB James Davis
WR Larry Fitzgerald
WR Lee Evans
WR Eddie Royal
WR Donnie Avery
WR Nate Washington
QB Aaron Rodgers
QB Kyle Orton
TE Jason Witten
DEF Chicago
K Kris Brown

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

2009 NFL Preview Part One: Moon's Fantasy Primer

Draft Do's and Dont's

At the end of the 2008 NFL season, the top five scoring players in a standard-rules fantasy football league were Drew Brees, Jay Cutler, Kurt Warner, Aaron Rodgers, and Philip Rivers – all quarterbacks. #6 was running back DeAngelo Williams, followed by three more quarterbacks – Peyton Manning, Matt Cassel, and Donovan McNabb. The next three were RB Michael Turner, Andre Johnson (2008’s top wide receiver), and RB Matt Forte.

An analysis of this top twelve gives us an outline of fantasy football’s fundamental composition. The first thing we must understand is the principal of limited resources. There is no way you can draft a top-flight quarterback, two great running backs, two #1 wide receivers, and a sterling tight end in your fantasy football league. Resources are limited in fantasy football drafts. So you will have to make sacrifices. Choosing what position to sacrifice early in the draft will determine the path of your entire draft, so it puts extra emphasis on making the right decisions with your first three picks.

The fundamental structure of most fantasy football leagues puts a premium on running backs. If you think about your typical NFL offensive formation, there is one quarterback, one tight end, two wide receivers, and one tailback. Yet in fantasy football, most leagues have you start two running backs along with two receivers, one tight end, and one quarterback. Generally there is a flex position, which depending on your league, will usually be WR/RB or WR/TE. If your league uses a WR/RB for the flex, this puts even more emphasis on the running back position. This all means that running backs are acutely scarce.

The other reason why running backs are disproportionately valuable in fantasy football is that most leagues award a whopping six points per running or receiving touchdown. A touchdown is worth six times as many points as a ten yard gain, no matter where that touchdown is scored from. Usually quarterbacks receive four points for passing touchdowns, just two thirds the value given by receivers and running backs. When you consider that more touchdowns are scored on the ground than through the air, it elevates the value of running backs even further.

One final consideration is that running backs get injured more often than any other position. This makes finding and holding onto a strong producer even more challenging and important.

So although quarterbacks put up the biggest numbers in fantasy football, running back is the more essential position. It makes more sense to draft running backs in the first few rounds than quarterbacks.

Now let’s look at wide receivers. Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Calvin Johnson were the only wide receivers who finished the season amongst the top 29 fantasy performers (225-275 points in a .5pt/rec league). Then came a rash of wideouts – Greg Jennings, Roddy White, Steve Smith, Anquan Boldin, Antonio Bryant, Brandon Marshall, and Terrell Owens (all between 206 and 225 pts). Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne, Wes Welker, Lance Moore, Dwayne Bowe, Santana Moss, Hines Ward, Vincent Jackson, and Eddie Royal made up the next tier, players between 183 and 196 fantasy points. After a small fourth tier sprinkling (Derrick Mason, Kevin Walter, Bernard Berrian, Donald Driver, Laveranues Coles), wide receivers are a dime a dozen. There are tons of guys available, players who are hard to separate. Differentiating these sort of players (last year Jerrico Cotchery, Ted Ginn, Santonio Holmes, etc) will have little impact on your fantasy football season. It will not be hard to acquire this sort of receiver (hopefully as your #2 WR or flex) during the season. Last year, for example, I used Donnie Avery, Davone Bess, and Ginn (all plucked off waivers for free during the season) as #2 WRs after Chad Ochocinco busted and Laveranues Coles was injured.

So when thinking about wide receivers, we need to identify the players who will rise out of the pack. Getting Derrick Mason ahead of Braylon Edwards wouldn’t have won the league last year, but choosing Greg Jennings instead of Edwards might have. One reason I had such a strong season last year was Larry Fitzgerald, whose consistently strong numbers repeatedly gave me a matchup edge at WR #1. It is hard to win a league without a true #1 wide receiver.

Now, looking at last year’s top wideouts, we find that most were drafted pretty high. Most of the top wide receivers were drafted correspondingly. The three true studs, Johnson, Fitzgerald, and Johnson, generally went in the first few rounds. Amongst the second tier, Antonio Bryant was the only sleeper. The only low picks who elevated to tier three were Lance Moore and Eddie Royal (both undrafted in most leagues). So this tells us that if we want top wideouts (unlike running backs and quarterbacks), we are probably going to have to draft them early.

So there is a premium in the early rounds on running backs and #1 receievers. So, generally speaking, many shrewd fantasy drafters believe the most sensible position to ignore early in the fantasy draft is quarterback. The problem with drafting a quarterback in the first few rounds is that you won’t be able to use that pick on a running back or top-flight receiver, and those players are so hard to get a hold of. But you might be able to hit big on a late-round QB. Last year, Kurt Warner, Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, and Phil Rivers – four of the top five QBs and overall players in the final fantasy numbers – all went late in most drafts. Some high upside QBs you might find available later in this year’s draft: the four Matts – Schaub, Ryan, Hasselbeck, and Cassel; Carson Palmer, Kyle Orton, Trent Edwards, and whoever emerges as Cleveland’s starter.

Remember that if you take this route, you must quickly back up your late rounder with another high-upside guy, and then you may even want to add a third. In a recent mock draft, I took three consecutive quarterbacks in rounds eight through ten – Edwards, Hasselbeck, and Orton. The thought here is that hopefully one of the three will hit big.

Last year I used this strategy, grabbing RBs and WRs with my first six picks, then selecting Marc Bulger in the seventh round immediately followed by Jon Kitna in the eighth. Did this work? Of course not – both were complete busts. But I added Chad Pennington to the fold, and later Tyler Thigpen (both via waivers). Pennington finished in the top ten while Thigpen put up a series of big games down the stretch. In fact, if I had not sat Thigpen for Matt Schaub (another waiver find, released by an owner frustrated with his injuries) in the championship game, I would have won the league. Why? Because I stocked up on backs and receivers (Tomlinson, Fitzgerald, Turner, Ochocinco, Forte, Coles) with those first six picks – and they came through.

Looking back to last year, Tomlinson and Fitzgerald were obvious choices. Turner and Forte were the key picks. How and why did I wind up with these guys? I chose Turner over Torry Holt, TJ Houshmandzadeh, Jamal Lewis, Laurence Maroney, and Brandon Jacobs, because in fantasy the name of the game is upside. Those other guys are proven performers who would likely give me solid numbers (though Holt and Maroney were total busts), but anything was possible with Turner. He was an unknown starting at running back, as was Forte. Steve Slaton, who I grabbed much later in the draft, was #2 on the depth chart behind the old, broken-down Ahman Green.

There is no glory in a fifth place fantasy finish, so it’s better to go after an unknown quantity with a chance to get some action rather than a proven mediocre player. So who are the Turners and Fortes of 2009?

There is only one player this season who fits the Turner/Forte profile: Arizona’s rookie Beanie Wells. Beanie isn’t even listed as the starter right now – behind Tim Hightower – but anyone who has seen the two run knows Beanie will be the one getting the carries.

While there might not be a Turner or Forte out there (unproven but clear starters on their teams) there are several possible Steve Slatons. While almost every backup running back is an injury away from fantasy stardom, a number of particularly opportunistic situations exist. Here’s a look at the prospects for the league’s backup backs (sleepers in red):

Ahmad Bradshaw playing behind Brandon Jacobs. The Giants love running the ball – last year Jacobs and Derrick Ward both went over 1,000 yards for the G-men. Bradshaw added 355 yards and a TD in limited action. Bradshaw averages 6.1 yards per carry for his career, and the idea of Jacobs playing sixteen games this season is laughable.

Like Bradshaw, Felix Jones of Dallas boasts huge ypc numbers and sits behind a violent runner who probably won’t survive the season unscathed.

The Eagles don’t have much behind Brian Westbrook, so rookie LeSean McCoy becomes eminently draftable.

Ladell Betts has never impressed me, but the chances of Clinton Portis’s body breaking down at some point seem alarmingly high.

Glen Coffee instantly becomes a fantasy beast if Frank Gore goes down.

Edgerrin James, signed this week by the Seahawks, is intriguing simply because we know Julius Jones isn’t that great and Seattle cut TJ “Touchdown Vulture” Duckett. Justin Forsett is in the mix as well.

The Rams backups stink, but since Steven Jackson is likely to go down at some point, you should at least know the name Kenneth Darby.

Matt Forte miraculously made it through 2008 unharmed; if he gets injured, Kevin Jones is a capable player.

Maurice Morris impressed me last year in Seattle and now moves to Detroit to back up Kevin Smith.

If Ryan Grant runs as poorly as he did last year, Brandon Jackson is slated to take over in Green Bay.

The solid Chester Taylor gets the nod in Minnesota if Adrian Peterson, a very violent runner, goes out.

Jerious Norwood, perhaps the most frustrating fantasy running back of the last three years, will get more time if Michael Turner gets hurt. Norwood has averaged 5.8 ypc for his career.

Jonathan Stewart put up 836 rushing yards and ten touchdowns in 2008 while splitting time with fantasy’s #1 RB, DeAngelo Williams.

Pierre Thomas should get the majority of the carries this year in New Orleans, while Reggie Bush will likely catch more passes. #3 Mike Bell probably isn’t draftable but should be snapped up immediately if anything happens to Bush or Thomas.

Tampa Bay’s situation is somewhat murky; Derrick Ward is the man to draft first there, while keeping an eye on his health along with Earnest Graham and Cadillac Williams.

Fred Jackson will start the first three games for Buffalo while Marshawn Lynch serves a suspension. Jackson runs hard.

Ricky Williams will probably put up some consistent, if not overwhelming, numbers in Miami.

Differentiating between Laurence Maroney, Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris, and Kevin Faulk is impossible.

Leon Washington, who led the NFL in all-purpose yardage last season, is a million times better than Thomas Jones. Shonn Greene was drafted in the third round to eventually replace Jones.

Denver’s situation is almost as murky as New England’s; Knowshon Moreno has the highest upside, Correll Buckhalter is currently the starter, LaMont Jordan has the largest career totals, and Peyton Hillis is a sick beast who is just too good to keep off the field.

Baltimore’s threesome of Ray Rice, Le’Ron McClain, and Willis McGahee is somewhat messy; all can score touchdowns, but none are explosive.

Bernard Scott fits the Steve Slaton profile, though he may not beat out Brian Leonard for the chance to back up crappy Curtis Benson.

James Davis is my favorite deep sleeper. He might be the best back on the Browns. Jerome Harrison is draftable as well.

Rashard Mendenhall is talented, and Willie Parker gets hurt a lot.

Ryan Moats or Chris Brown could be in line for a big season if something happens to second-year back Steve Slaton.

Rookie Donald Brown will get action – a lot of action if oft-injured Joseph Addai gets hurt.

Maurice Jones-Drew is slated to lead the league in touches; if he were to get hurt, Alvin Pearman or rookie Rashad Jennings will take over. Keep a close eye on that situation.

Javon Ringer is an electric rookie who would be one of the hottest sleepers if not for Chris Johnson and Lendale White.

There are a hundred places you can go to find fantasy player rankings for the upcoming season. Checking those out, and preparing your own spreadsheet, is mandatory. Something to think about while sifting through the rankings is potential. Particularly late in the draft, you should be looking for guys with the potential to explode. Finding a halfway decent contributor on the waiver wire for WR #2, backup quarterback, or tight end is usually not too difficult, so you should be greedy with your picks, going for guys with the potential to explode. You want players who can give you a leg up in their matchup with the other team. Conversely, you don’t want to go too high on guys who maxed out last year and can’t possibly duplicate those numbers. Here’s who I feel have significant upside or downside based on where they’re currently being ranked or mock-drafted across the major fantasy sites:


Adrian Peterson (potential to break every record)
Kevin Smith (a monster if he can get some TDs)
Ryan Grant (could get a lot of red zone action)
Joseph Addai (still #1 RB on a good offense)
Julius Jones (clear #1)

Michael Turner (can’t score as many TDs this season)
Chris Johnson (watch out for Javon Ringer)
DeAngelo Williams (can’t score as many TDs this season)
Brandon Jacobs (likely to get injured)
Clinton Portis (miles adding up on him and his line)
Thomas Jones (bad player on potentially bad offense)
Marshawn Lynch (out first three games and could lose a lot of action to Fred Jackson)
Lendale White (nothing but warning flags)
Reggie Bush (may not see the field much because of Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell)
Cedric Benson (sucks)
Tim Hightower (sucks hard)


Calvin Johnson (may have a real QB)
Greg Jennings (could finish as #1 WR)
Dwayne Bowe (could be #1 in targets)
Vincent Jackson (perfect situation)
Chad Ochocinco (A monster every year but last – now healthy)
Bernard Berrian (If Favre can still throw a big upgrade at QB)
Lee Evans (one of the most talented WRs in football)
DeSean Jackson (coming off a strong rookie season – most rookie WRs struggle)
Eddie Royal (ditto)
Santana Moss (led all WRs in fantasy production the first quarter of last year)
Anthony Gonzalez (should get a lot of action)
Torry Holt (Jacksonville’s #1)
Lance Moore (coming off a huge season)
Devin Hester (the Cutler factor)
Josh Morgan (San Fran’s #1)
Ted Ginn Jr (getting better)
Domenik Hixon (NY’s #1)
Chris Chambers (a career “upside” guy who has never burst through)
Greg Camarillo (playable last year before hurt)
Mark Clayton (contract year)
Chris Henry (flies)

Larry Fitzgerald (Kurt Warner injury)
Andre Johnson (oft-injured as is his QB)
Steve Smith (high-variance)
Chad Ochocinco (yes he's on both lists)
Antonio Bryant (issues galore…one year wonder?)
Muhsin Muhammad (super old)


Aaron Rodgers (perfect system, stud WRs)
Matt Ryan (lots of positive buzz in preseason and great weapons)
Matt Cassel (anything could happen)
Carson Palmer (could be a throw-first offense)
Kyle Orton (McDaniels, Marshall, Royal, bad defense)
Matt Hasselbeck (huge ’07 numbers)
Trent Edwards (in same situation as Cutler, Rivers 365 days ago)
Jason Campbell (make or break)

Peyton Manning (diminished WRs)


Jason Witten (put up monster numbers before injuries last year)
Kellen Winslow (still just 26 years old)
John Carlson (coming off a big rookie season with weak QB play)
Dustin Keller (actually a juicy situation after careful consideration)
Visanthe Shiancoe (could become Favre’s favorite)

Tony Gonzalez (lot of mouths to feed)
Tony Scheffler (system doesn’t throw much to TEs, oft-injured)


San Diego (soft schedule, aggressive plan)

Finally, here are some WRs, TEs, and QBs you probably shouldn’t be drafting but should monitor as the season goes along, ready to snap them off the waiver wire:

Mark Bradley
Brandon Pettigrew
Mike Walker
Troy Williamson
Earl Bennett
Daunte Culpepper
Martellus Bennett
Laurent Robinson
Johnnie Lee Higgins
Randy McMichael
Michael Clayton
Dennis Northcutt
Matt Leinart
Dante Rosario
Dwayne Jarrett
Pierre Garcon
Austin Collie
Deon Butler
Chase Coffman
Jeff Garcia
Chris Simms

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday Night

Arrive a few minutes late as I was boiling some ramen and watching the Monday Night game which sadly may have tipped the public off to betting against Mark Sanchez.


Got some big names this time – jse81 to my right, USCphildo to his right, clotilda to his right, and imabigkidnow (who recently took me out of the Sunday 500 in frustrating fashion).

Bring in my first hand A4 diamonds with a raise from middle position the cutoff calls. Flop 884 I bet a little less than half pot he folds.

Next hand jse raises I fold JTo.

Fold KTo UTG.

Clotilda raises late I have the button and T9o I am going to call but jse calls I don’t like T9o in three or four way pots so I fold.

Next hand get T9o cutoff and open-raise. BB calls. Flop 964 two hearts. He checks I bet 2/3 pot he calls. Turn 8s he checks. Close decision here I end up checking but looking back I think I like a bet. River Ah he bets pretty decent into me and for once I fold a pair on the river.


Fold A9o MP.

Imabigkidnow raises early I call late with JTo. Both blinds call. Flop K96 two clubs check, check, bigkid bets ¾ pot I fold.

Got the Rockies on what can I say I got the fever. Went down to Denver yesterday to scalp tickets but we were unable to come up with anything reasonable so watched them overcome Tim Lincecum and the Giants in exciting fashion from a sportsbar. Also yesterday got in a game of Catan - "The Caravans", part of the Traders and Barbarians expansion. I strongly recommend "The Caravans" to any Catan fans out there – it might be the best Catan expansion.


Fold AJo UTG.

These Rockies are a funny team, similar to the ’07 squad that caught fire and won the NL. Except they don’t have Matt Holliday. They have no sluggers…although the broadcast just announced the Rockies signed…Jason Giambi?!? Very Un-Rockish.

I do ramen a little different from most, pour out the water after cooking it, then add the seasoning (about half the packet), then throw some cubes of cheese on it.

There is a 3x EP raise and two calls including phildo on the button. In the big blind I have KJo and end up folding. I am not a fan of KJo out of position in a four-way pot.

Thought this was a terribly played hand:

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to GnightMoon [Ks Jc]
vacili folds
JW30 raises to 120
The Drake folds
bestlayever calls 120
imabigkidnow folds
clotilda folds
USCphildo calls 120
jse81 folds
GnightMoon folds
*** FLOP *** [Ts 5h 9c]
JW30 checks
bestlayever checks
USCphildo checks
*** TURN *** [Ts 5h 9c] [4s]
JW30 bets 290
bestlayever folds
USCphildo calls 290
*** RIVER *** [Ts 5h 9c 4s] [9h]
JW30 has 15 seconds left to act
JW30 has requested TIME
JW30 checks
USCphildo has 15 seconds left to act
USCphildo checks
*** SHOW DOWN ***
JW30 shows [2s 2c] two pair, Nines and Twos
USCphildo mucks
JW30 wins the pot (1,000) with two pair, Nines and Twos
The blinds are now 25/50
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 1,000 | Rake 0
Board: [Ts 5h 9c 4s 9h]
Seat 7: USCphildo (button) mucked [7h 6c] - a pair of Nines

Rockies finally get a hit off Barry Zito in the fourth inning. Yesterday it took em till the 6th to get a hit off a wild Tim Lincecum.

Imabigkidnow raises MP jse calls I fold K7s on the button. Against some players I would get involved there.


Phildo limps early I limp AQo blinds complete. Flop 332 checked around. Turn T SB checks imabigkidnow bets half pot from BB phildo calls I fold.

Fold 54s 2nd position.

EP raises 2.5x phildo calls on button I fold T7o in BB.

Reading Michael Lombardi in the downtime. This will be one of the last Monday Nights for a while as we are now just two and a half weeks away from the start of the season.


I raise Td7d from the cutoff to 151 and the BB makes it 480. Though there has been very little 3-betting at this table, and I have not seen this player 3-bet once, I decide to call. Perhaps memories of me doubling up with this hand in the WSOP Main Event influenced that decision. Flop A52 all diamonds…cha-ching! He bets out a normal amount and I settle on a call. Turn 4c he checks I bet a little less than half the pot he calls. River 9d he goes all-in for 2100 into 4100 (almost all of my stack) so so lame I fold.

A few hands later phildo raises to 180 UTG and jse calls right behind him. With aces in third position and a 2500 stack I think about getting cute as a reraise would look so strong. But I make it 600, all fold to jse who reraises. We get it in and I double through his AK.

Fold 55 in SB to a raise and reraise.

Fold 96o button.

Fold A5o cutoff.

Zito walks Todd Helton with the bases loaded to tie the score at 1. Through five innings Zito has given up one hit and walked five, similar to Lincecum’s line yesterday.

Open-fold A5o from the hijack.

Fold A9o MP to a phildo EP raise.


Fold ATo 2nd position

Fold 22 UTG.

Phildo raises I call with 87 of diamonds on the button. Both blinds call. Flop AJ8 rainbow no diamonds checked to phildo who bets more than half the pot I fold.

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to GnightMoon [3c 5h]
imabigkidnow folds
clotilda folds
USCphildo folds
jse81 raises to 198
GnightMoon folds
vacili folds
JW30 calls 198
The Drake calls 158
bestlayever folds
*** FLOP *** [8h 7c 7s]
The Drake checks
jse81 has 15 seconds left to act
jse81 bets 240
JW30 calls 240
The Drake folds
*** TURN *** [8h 7c 7s] [Jd]
jse81 has 15 seconds left to act
jse81 bets 640
JW30 has 15 seconds left to act
JW30 calls 640
*** RIVER *** [8h 7c 7s Jd] [9h]
jse81 has 15 seconds left to act
jse81 bets 1,830, and is all in
JW30 has 15 seconds left to act
JW30 has requested TIME
JW30 calls 1,830
*** SHOW DOWN ***
jse81 shows [2d Ad] a pair of Sevens
JW30 shows [8s 9c] two pair, Nines and Eights
JW30 wins the pot (6,094) with two pair, Nines and Eights

Goodnight Chad.

Fold J7s 2nd position.


Fold T9o in BB to a 2.5x EP raise.

Same guy raises next hand clotilda calls I fold 65s in SB.

Imabigkidnow raises 2.5x I fold 98o on the button. This may have been my tightest 1k Monday ever.

Clotilda raises 3x EP I have 43 BBs and AKo I just call. Everyone else folds. Flop is terrible (975 two hearts) he bets I fold.

Next hand a new guy raises 3x I make a loose call with 54 clubs the loose-cannon button also calls. Flop 873 two hearts raiser checks I check and the button bets. Raiser folds and I fold.

Zito escapes the 6th after giving up two hits to start the inning. 1-1 going to the 7th. I think the lower-scoring a baseball game is, the more entertaining it is.

The loose cannon 3x raises EP, the SB calls, and I call from the big with 33. Flop A86 checked around. Turn J SB fires big I fold.

Phildo raises late I fold Q9o in SB.

3804 chips

Fold QTo button to a UTG raise.

Clotilda raises phildo calls I fold 33.

Raise KTo hijack win the blinds.

Fold 55 UTG.

The loose cannon raises early and phildo calls on button. I call in BB with 33. Flop KJ4 two hearts I check preflop raiser bets big phildo raises big I fold of course.

Next hand phildo raises and I call in the SB with QT hearts and a dwindling stack. Flop A94 rainbow I check and he checks. Turn 4 I check he checks. River 9 I think about betting pot here but am too worried he has some pair better than fours and will call; I time down and check he checks his KJ and we chop.

UTG raises and I make a loose call (considering my stack) with 98s on the button. SB (loose) calls also. Flop J42 two not my suit SB checks preflop raiser bets I fold.

Next hand fold KJo to a 4x UTG raise.

3409 chips

Only one guy has gone broke at this table in over a hundred minutes of play.

Button raises 3x I fold JTo in SB.

Cutoff raises I fold 95s button was gonna take a stab there.

Fold A8o 3rd position.

Rox elect to keep starter Jason Marquis (117 pitches) in the game with 2 outs in the eighth, runners on first and second. Marquis gets the out on pitch 122. 1-1 going to the bottom of the eighth.


Think I am gonna go see that movie “Moon” if I bust before 10. Heard good things.

Complete SB with 87 hearts BB checks. Flop QT2 two hearts I bet a little more than half pot he folds.

Fold A9o hijack.

Guy raises to 500 MP I have AJ spades in BB. I think and shove for 2900 he snaps it off with AQs. Flop is T62 two spades but I don’t get there. If I just call preflop which I strongly considered I probably win this pot.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Offseason Observations Part III: The NFC

1. Philadelphia team president Joe Banner has stated “I feel this year we have the best roster in the league.” This may be true, but the Eagles have taken some serious hits on defense. Longtime defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, one of the best at his craft, passed away a couple weeks ago. Middle linebacker Stewart Bradley is out for the season. Longtime captain Brian Dawkins was not resigned and found a new home in Denver.

2. The Eagles upgraded their offensive line substantially, bringing in tackles Jason Peters from Buffalo and Stacy Andrews from Cincinnati. Stacy’s brother Shawn (guard) returns from an injury that kept him out for all of 2008. But the Philly line has not played together yet in camp or preseason due to a slew of minor injuries. Cohesion on the offensive line is critical.

3. Philly also added several skill position playmakers to their offense. WR Jeremy Maclin was drafted in the first round. RB LeSean McCoy, who does not impress me, came in the second. TE Cornelius Ingram, who missed his senior season at Florida with a torn ACL, was snagged in the fifth round and looked to be a steal based on a stellar camp. But Ingram tore the same ACL and is lost for another season.

4. Finally came the stunning signing of the NFL’s most polarizing player, fresh out of prison, Michael Vick. Vick’s 2009 impact is hard to predict. He will likely be suspended for at least five games to start the season. He plays behind Donovan McNabb, who has a similar skill set – if more refined and less explosive. With all the playmakers the Eagles have, they may not ask much of Vick.

5. One area the Eagles can be expected to use Vick is third and short, where they struggled mightily last season. Converting a few extra third downs might be all the Eagles need from Vick to be one of the league’s top offenses this season.

6. But I remember how Donovan McNabb struggled so much at the beginning of games last season, how it seemed like he never warmed up. I remember Andy Reid screwing up the clock. I remember Philly handling the Vikings and Giants on the road because of Jim Johnson’s schemes. And I wonder if Philadelphia will actually be any better this season, or if their losses will dwarf their acquisitions.

7. The Giants got 22.5 sacks last year from their defensive line…backups. Their starters are Justin Tuck, Rocky Bernard, Chris Canty, and Osi Umenyiora. This is a terrifying defensive line.

8. I’d be feeling a little better about Kurt Warner making it through the season if the Cardinals had upgraded on Mike Gandy at left tackle

9. Beanie Wells enters a dream situation – a powerful offense with no other serviceable running backs. The most improved fantasy players:

1. Maurice Jones-Drew
First tier for sure now that Fred Taylor has finally left the building – will go #1 in some drafts.
2. Kyle Orton
Gets to throw to Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal instead of Devin Hester and Marty Booker.
3. Anthony Gonzalez
Should get a ton of looks with Harrison gone.
4. Donnie Avery
STL’s only legit WR with Holt out.
5. Dwayne Bowe
Will likely get a ton of action from Matt Cassel with Tony Gonzalez in Atlanta.
6. Devin Hester
Jay Cutler’s #1 option?
7. Trent Edwards
Helming the controls of a loaded offense.
8. Bernard Berrian
Visanthe Shiancoe may be very potent there as well.
8. Roy Williams
9. Jason Witten
10. Patrick Crayton
11. Miles Austin
All should be draftable now that The Cancer has been cut out.

And the biggest losers:

1. Jay Cutler
Falls all the way from Brees/Manning heights to the middle tier (Kyle Orton, Trent Edwards territory).
2. Tyler Thigpen
Obviously undraftable, at least until Bernard Pollard takes out Matt Cassel’s ACL in practice.
3. Ronnie Brown
May not be seeing as much action in the Wildcat with Pat White in town.
4. Tony Scheffler
Wouldn’t touch him with a ten foot pole. Many more reliable options.
5. Thomas Jones
Tried to play hardball with the Jets and they responded by drafting Shonn Greene.
6. Michael Jenkins
Will have a hard time getting his number called with White, Gonzalez, Turner, Norwood, and Douglas all needing touches.
7. Tony Gonzalez
See Jenkins, Michael.

10. Holdouts kill seasons. Ask Michael Crabtree and the 49ers in a few months. Crabtree’s threat to sit out the season and re-enter the draft in 2010 conjures up memories of Mike Williams.

11. San Francisco has not solved the problem at quarterback. They will not contend with Shaun Hill or Alex Smith.

12. Seattle is getting a lot of hype as a sleeper or rebound team, but injuries (Walter Jones, Marcus Trufant, Lofa Tatupu) and interior issues give me pause. There were times last year I wanted to bet on them but both lines never found the form they had earlier this decade.

13. Rams RB Kenneth Darby, currently listed at #2 on the depth chart behind Steven Jackson, is terrible. Antonio Pittman stinks too. They cannot afford to lose Jackson. This problem should have been addressed in the offseason – watching the games last year it was obvious these guys do not belong in the NFL.

14. Marc Bulger plays scared.

15. The Rams do have some hope on defense – there is some talent there – and Steve Spagnuolo should help.

16. Another team with crappy backup running backs is the Bears. If Matt Forte gets half the action he got last year, he’ll be lucky to stay healthy.

17. I didn’t like the Bears letting go of Mike Brown. He’s aging and oft-injured, but had an uncanny playmaking knack and was a team leader.

18. Although I predict Matt Stafford will be an unmitigated bust, I liked the rest of Detroit’s draft. Everyone seems to love safety Louis Delmas (first pick of round 2). Brandon Pettigrew was one of my favorite college players last year, a beast blocking and catching.

19. The Packers suddenly have a frightening defensive line, with Ryan Pickett, Johnny Jolly, Justin Harrell, Mike Montgomery, Cullen Jenkins coming back from injury, and first round pick B.J. Raji.

20. Brett Favre is not much better than Sage Rosenfels, but he is a better fit for the Vikings offense. Let's remember Minnesota could have avoided all this drama - and gotten a better player for a much lower price - with one phone call to Chad Pennington's agent a year ago.

21. Not sure how Tony Gonzalez fits into that offense. Atlanta ran a smashmouth attack last year, with lots of runs and plenty of deep balls. The tight end rarely got looks. If they want Tony G to be heavily involved, they will have to change the offense. Their offense was so good last year – with a rookie quarterback – why would they want to change it? This signing reminds me of when the Saints traded for Jeremy Shockey. Gonzalez is a better player and teammate than Shockey of course, but I’m not sure how he fits in there.

22. Everything about Atlanta makes me uncomfortable. Could they be this year’s Cleveland Browns? Or are they evolving into the Dungy/Manning Colts? Nothing from the Falcons would surprise me this year.

23. Carolina, like Indianapolis, will be an interesting case study on the power of coaching. The Panthers return an almost identical lineup, but most of their assistant coaches are somewhere else.

24. Tampa Bay is one of a few teams that has gone through this aesthetic cycle:
December ’08: playoff contender
May ’09: left for dead
August ’09: intriguing sleeper

25. There is no such thing as hopeless. At this time last year, nobody gave the Dolphins or Falcons any chance.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My 100 Favorite Songs: #35

The Rolling Stones - Dead Flowers

Proof the Stones would have been the greatest country band ever, if they had wanted to be.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday Night



THE D_RY (biggest name at the table) raises to 60 I call in SB with AQss BB calls as well. Flop AdTd6h I debate betting and end up checking BB checks D_RY checks. Turn 7 I bet 2/3 pot both fold.

Next hand cutoff raises I call on button with K4s flop J76 two clubs he bets I fold.

UTG limps I limp 22 flop 765 BB bets out UTG calls I fold.

Raise AK nobody calls.

Sifting through old emails cleaning up the inbox. Got the Monday night preseason game on the background. Jon Gruden is better than he was last week.

Fold A9o UTG.

Folds to me in SB I fold 96o.

Open-limp button with As5c. BB checks. Flop J42 two clubs BB bets 35 into 50 I make it 100 he calls. Turn Kc check check. River 7d check check he wins with JT.

Fold ATo to UTG raise.

Raise QQ MP all fold.

Next hand fold 85s.


MP raises D_RY calls I just call in BB even though I “should” reraise. Flop AKx checked around. Turn 8 I check raiser checks D_RY bets I fold.

Folds to me in cutoff I limp A4 hearts. Button limps BB checks. Flop KQ4 two diamonds BB checks I check button bets 70 into 105 BB folds I fold not feeling great about how I played that hand.

Nothing happening at this table guys playing like experienced sit n go players.

Raise AA UTG absolutely no action.

Guy raises early gets a call I fold K8s button.


Guy raises early I call with KJo MP cause I just feel like playing. Flop Q82 two clubs he bets small I fold.

Adam Schefter now works for ESPN. I’m cool with that.

Raise my favorite hand KTs (clubs this time) from the hijack cutoff calls SB calls. Flop Q76 two hearts one club not exactly what I’m looking for SB goes into the timebank and checks I check cutoff bets hard we both fold.

Raise a former favorite hand T8s nobody calls.

Limp 44 UTG two other guys limp blinds come along flop J88 blinds check I check button bets SB calls I fold.


Button raises 3x on a bit of a short stack I fold K3s in BB.

Raise KQ three guys call. Flop KTs8s I fire out a big bet basically saying get the f out y’all if anyone raises I will fold if anyone calls I will fire big again on a safe card. All fold.

Fold KTo UTG.

Fold T9o in SB to a D_RY LP raise. By the way, my record of getting 4-bet every time I 3-bet remains intact through the summer.


Raise KK guy behind me who calls every time calls AKwow also calls on button. Flop J95 I check cause I have been check-folding in these spots both check behind. Turn 9 I check guy bets button folds I call. River 3 check-check he has fours.

Emerging trend I saw a lot of late in the 2500 6-max yesterday is this habit of underbetting the pot on the river. Didn’t see many hands get turned over in those situations.

Break. Nobody bustoed in the first hour.


Raise A6s button win the blinds.

Active guy on shortish stack raises MP I call from cutoff with 5d4d. Flop Th6d2h he checks I bet he calls. Turn 6h he checks I decide to fire 2/3 pot he timebank folds.


Fold A6s to EP raise I was going to open-fold in 3rd position.

Ahmad Bradshaw, one of my favorite fantasy sleepers, looking good tonight.

Guy who has been average raises in 2nd pos to 200, I make it 544 in cutoff with K3o. Felt like a good spot to put some pressure on him (he would have to play for stacks). He snap calls, so I think he has a pair. Flop 7h5c4c he checks I check. Turn 8h he checks I check. River 8 he checks I check he has AJs and wins.

Three hands later I raise QQ and he calls in SB. Flop Td9h5d he checks I bet he calls. Turn As he bets 400 into 1k I call. River 5s he bets 720 into 1800 I call. Why do I call? Because he has shown himself to be a bluffer? No. Because it makes sense for him to have a bluff here? No. Because I never fold, that’s why. He wins with AdJd.


Limp T8o in SB BB checks. Flop 953 two clubs I check he bets I fold.

Raise AQ cutoff they fold.

Guy raises 3x early I have gotten a bit short so fold J8s in position.

Limp A7o SB BB who has been loose-passive raises 4x I fold.

Next hand limp JTo button SB raises to 550 but I call! Flop A43 he bets I fold. Hands like that are very spewy of course but when someone makes that kind of bet it tells me they do not want a call. I have position and it is the sort of hand and situation where I feel comfortable calling in position feeling like a jack or ten will usually be good and I can also jam over his c-bet if I flop a draw.

Next hand raise AK cutoff they fold timing has been bad tonight.



This frustrating hand:
Dealt to GnightMoon [Tc Kc]
tbt4653 folds
enterthewu19 folds
-AKwow- folds
Tiltovic has 15 seconds left to act
Tiltovic raises to 270
WeaponBD folds
THE__D__RY folds
23dontreraiseme folds
bzimzim calls 210
GnightMoon calls 150
*** FLOP *** [Jd Th As]
bzimzim checks
GnightMoon checks
Tiltovic bets 480
bzimzim calls 480
GnightMoon folds
*** TURN *** [Jd Th As] [Qh]
bzimzim checks
Tiltovic checks
*** RIVER *** [Jd Th As Qh] [8d]
bzimzim bets 520
Tiltovic has 15 seconds left to act
Tiltovic has requested TIME
Tiltovic folds
Uncalled bet of 520 returned to bzimzim
bzimzim mucks
bzimzim wins the pot (1,770)

Cutoff raises I elect to fold QTo button on a 2700 stack.

Fold KJo EP.

UTG raises I call in BB with KsJs. Flop 8s4s4 I check he bets I raise 3x potcommitting he jams I call he has 88 I am drawing dead goodnight.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

My 100 Favorite Songs: #36

The Shins - New Slang

For some reason it's more irritating than rewarding when a song or band you "discover" blows up.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cash Plays Interview

Jeremiah Smith interviewed me for his pokerroad radio show "Cash Plays." You can listen to the interview here.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Offseason Observations Part II: The AFC

I am not a college football expert. I do not watch game tape of obscure college games and players. I don’t pore over 40 yard dash times, vertical leaps, standing broad jumps, bench presses, or Wonderlic test scores. I couldn’t tell you if Mark Sanchez is the next Tom Brady, if Tyson Jackson went too early at #3 overall, or who was the best center in the draft. But I am a games player. I understand concepts like game theory, opportunity cost, elasticity of demand, and risk vs reward. My favorite board game, The Settlers of Catan, is all about resource management and trading. My second favorite board game, Puerto Rico, is all about microeconomics and game theory. So while I can’t analyze the NFL draft in terms of personnel, I can break it down from a gamer’s perspective – how well each team allocated and organized their limited resources. And I can dissect the transactions teams have made for players who have already played in the NFL, as well as the positional strengths and weaknesses of the teams and where I expect they will be weak or strong.

1. I can tell you that what the New England Patriots did (trading two third-rounders for second-rounders in 2010) is efficient. What the Denver Broncos did (trading a 2010 first rounder for the 37th pick in this year’s draft, then trading two third-rounders for the last pick of the second round) is clearly inefficient. I hate using future picks as trading up in the draft. How can these execs be so short-sighted? How can it possibly be worth it to lose a round’s worth of value just to get a guy a year earlier? There are a lot of reasons why the Patriots are the league’s top franchise, and their strategy of repeatedly trading current picks for better future ones is a big part of it. Belichick & co. are laughing all the way to the bank.

2. I also like what the Patriots have done in free agency. Shawn Springs is an excellent player who was playing at a very high level last year before he was injured. Leigh Bodden seemed like one of Detroit’s better players on defense. You won’t be seeing Deltha O’Neal anymore, Pats fans. And Fred Taylor still has a spring in his step. To me, the Patriots are the favorite this upcoming season and every one in the future.

3. Everyone seems to be glowing over the Jets trade with Cleveland to grab Mark Sanchez. But the Jets gave up five players (the 17th pick, the 52nd pick, DE Kenyon Coleman, S Abram Elam, and QB Brett Ratliff) to get one back! This trade would never fly in Settlers of Catan. Not only did they give up five players, but four of them (assuming the picks aren’t busts) will be significant contributors. Even Ratliff has generated some positive buzz. I hate trading five players for one mystery quantity.

Speaking of Sanchez, it seems most of the positive hype surrounding him centered on his interviews and leadership skills. This is football, not politics. Can he play? Can he make the throws? Meanwhile, all the Sanchez highlights I saw were with no defenders around, throwing to streaking wide receivers with no defenders around them in perfect weather. Let’s see how he fares against the Patriots in December. By the way, New York’s two best receivers are Jerricho Cotchery and Chansi Stuckey, and their offensive line looked like crap late last season. The Jets traded a third-rounder (which would have been a second rounder if they had made the playoffs, first rounder if they had made the Super Bowl) for Brett Favre in August and now traded five players for Sanchez. To me, this doesn’t seem like an efficient way to build a team. People are saying Sanchez is the type of player “you can build a team around” but how are they going to build with no picks and no cap space?

4. I like the T.O. signing for the Bills – minimal commitment and you get first-year T.O. and contract-year T.O. together at a reasonable price. But jettisoning OT Jason Peters does seem contradictory.

5. For me, the most shocking event of the offseason didn’t involve Jay Cutler. It was Nnamdi Asomugha resigning with the Raiders. Here’s a guy, best in the league, in the prime of his career, who could have played for anyone. Having witnessed the immolation of the Raiders first-hand, he decided to stick around for another three years. If he didn’t sign he may have been franchised a second straight year. That fear, along with the record-breaking deal the Raiders gave him and Asomugha's Nocal roots and residency, were enough to get him to sign.

6. Surprisingly, the Raiders also managed to hold on to punter Shane Lechler, either the best or second best in (the history of?) the league. Again, it was a record-breaking contract that convinced a previously disgruntled player to stick around.

7. Even if you think Darrius Heyward-Bey and Michael Mitchell are the best players available at the time, why not trade the picks and move down ten slots, then get your guys? What’s happening in Oakland just saddens me. If I lived in Oakland, I would just have to root for someone else.

8. Covered the Denver Broncos here.

9. I think the Chargers are primed for a run at a championship. They are loaded at every position. The buzz on Shawne Merriman, LaDainian Tomlinson, and rookies Larry English and Louis Vasquez is nothing but positive.

10. Losing Derrick Mason would have killed the Ravens. He was their offensive MVP last year. They have no one to fill the void. Cam Cameron, my reigning offensive co-ordinator of the year, will have his hands full again.

11. Don’t forget that the Bengals get Keith Rivers, the 9th pick of the 2008 draft, back from a broken jaw.

12. Eric Mangini continues to develop as the Villain amongst NFL coaches, and may even relish that role.

13. The Texans have a lot riding on Matt Schaub’s health. Their backups: Dan Orlovsky, Alex Brink, Rex Grossman.

14. The 2009 Colts will be an interesting case study on how much coaching affects a team.

15. Remember that Jason Jones, a rookie in 2008, had 3.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles filling in for an injured Albert Haynesworth last year against Pittsburgh. Remember that everyone and their mom was on the Pittsburgh bandwagon for that game, which was for AFC homefield advantage, and the Titans pasted the Steelers. Remember that Tennessee was the best team of 2008, and would have been in good position to win a Super Bowl but for a fluky loss to the Ravens in which the Titans held a near 2:1 lead in yardage.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

July Top 15

15. Bob Dylan - Just Like a Woman
14. Cake - Sheep Go To Heaven
13. Ryan Adams - Two
12. The Waifs - Goodbye
11. Ryan Adams - Oh My Sweet Carolina

10. Cake - End of the Movie
9. Katy Perry - Waking Up in Vegas
8. Jimmy Buffett - Fins
7. Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown
6. Jackson Browne - Running on Empty

5. Sublime - Date Rape
4. The Beatles - Yesterday
3. Cake - Palm of Your Hand
2. Green Day - 21 Guns

Song of the Month: Sublime - Doin' Time