I want to share a lesson I learned 13 years ago...
A buddy of mine told me one of those "What do you think I did wrong?" stories a few minutes ago, and he did something I see too often, and I don't understand. In fact, when I say I "learned" this lesson, really it was more a reminder of something I would have thought was obvious. So it's 2007 and I've only been playing casino poker for a little over a year. I'm playing a $1/2 game when I see this kid with a nosering, about as young as I was buy in for the table max of $500 and start betting aggressively just about every hand. Every hand he's in, he's the aggressor, and his bets are all 3/4 pot or more. At one point he overbet-jams an A-K-8 flop into two opponents, gets called, and beats his opponent's AJ with his K4 when a four hits on the river. So he's an idiot, but a rich idiot at this point, with a little over $1100 in front of him. Now, I, myself, was at the tail end of the night and had been about ready to pack it in before this maniac arrived. I'd bought in for $400, turned that into $1800 over the course of 7 hours, and then turned that back down into $1400 in the last two. I was tired and ready to leave but Nosering sits down and he's got $1100 he's going to try to give away. I want it, so I stick around. I figure I'll wait for a strong hand and let him do the betting for me. He seems to see someone check/calling as some sort of insult that can only be met with substantial bets. If I have so much as top pair, he'll give me his whole stack voluntarily. Nosering's style does not change. He bets and bets. He doesn't bet with nothing, but it seems he'll go just as far with middle pair as with top set, and doesn't care about how many are in the pot. He's already dropped to about $950 when I find J-J on the button. Under the gun, he raises to $25 and gets two callers before it comes to me. Now, I played this hand bad. BAD. Not just bad by today's standards, but bad by 2007 standards as well. Just want to make it clear -- I misplayed every street, and I know that. But yeah, I've seen him fold in situations where he can either fold or call, but if it's his action, he wants to raise. So I figure I'll raise something that will entice a reraise. I make it $125, pretty much asking for action. This was a bad play for lots of reasons, but what happened is a big one -- the big blind called, Nosering flat calls, and another player calls. Now I'm in a $500 pot, four-way with pocket jacks. I pretty much have to fold guaranteed if I see an A, K or Q. This sucks. Flop comes 9-8-2 with two diamonds, which is about as good as I could expect. Big blind checks, Nosering bets $375. Pretty much what you'd expect. The other player calls his last $150, and I'm in a perfect spot to jam. I don't want to see a card above a jack come on the turn. Or a diamond, for that matter. I'm pretty sure I have the best hand (the whole table has been loose for a while, but especially so after Nosering came around), but that could change on the turn. Nosering's pretty much pot-committed now, having put in most of his stack already, and would likely call me, either way. Plus, he'll jam any turn card. So I just flat call him. My reasoning here could have been that Nosering was putting all his money in, no matter what. I might as well see what the turn is before I decide to call. That would be wrong, especially with another player still to act, but the truth is, that wasn't my reasoning. My actual reason was much worse. I figured it was possible that he was in there with something stupid like 9-2, because he's played silly thus far. Or, he could actually have a set. Mostly, I was thinking like this -- if I call the $375 and lose, I'm down to $900. Still a profitable session. If I go all-in and lose, I'm down to $300 and now I'm in the red after 9 hours. That's a terrible way to think, but that's how I thought, so I called. Big blind folds so now we're three handed (with one all in), so action's heads up on the turn. The turn comes an 8 of clubs, Nosering shoves his remaining $450, and I sit there and tank. The turn is about what I would hope for. Everything has happened exactly as I had predicted -- he bet aggressively every street, willingly offering his entire stack, and I'm holding better than top pair now, with an overpair to the board. More, I'm getting insanely good odds to call here -- $450 to win $1900. But what if he was sitting on A-8? Or 8-2? Or pocket nines? I just... can't do it. I fold. When the river comes the Jack of hearts, I curse out loud. It doesn't matter, of course, but it twists the knife. I'll never know what Nosering had. That's because the all-in player showed K-9 for two pair, 9's and 8's with a king kicker, and Nosering mucked his hand. I took my middling profits for the night -- I made $500, it felt like nothing -- and left. On that drive home, I cursed myself for continuing to play. I backed out because I was afraid of turning a "winning" session into a "losing" session, and if I'm going to think like that, I can't play well. I misplayed every street, I thought. If I look at Jacks and think "oh boy, I hope my whole stack goes in," then I'm an idiot. But more importantly, if I think that, then I shouldn't maneuver myself into massive a 4-way pot against who knows what? But the biggest thing? The biggest, most obvious "lesson" that I learned? I made a prediction based on what I had seen. Then my prediction came true. Then I failed to act on that prediction. When I called the $375, I knew -- I fucking knew -- that he was going to bet all-in on the turn. That means I wasn't making a decision for $375. I was making a decision for $825. I knew that if I called, he would put me all-in, so I better know what I'm going to do when he does. His bet represented no new information to me. And that's the thing that I'm always so surprised to hear from people in stories. When I made this mistake, I was tired after a 9-hour grind, I wasn't emotionally ready to play, and I was young and stupid. Still, I instantly knew my biggest mistake, because it's obvious: If you expect your opponent to bet, and then he does, it shouldn't change your plan. "Have a plan if he raises you" is a good general rule for betting, but this is even worse than that, because it wasn't if he bets, as far as I was concerned. It was when he bets. As far as I was concerned, his bets meant one thing, and one thing only -- that he was still breathing. His $375 bet on the flop was a big bet, but it was at a $500 pot. More importantly, I knew he would make big bets. Then he did. I set a game plan in place but I refused to follow it. Even 13 years later, it still stings. I still want that damned pot. Most people remember their worst beats, I guess I'm lucky that I'm more easily able to recall my worst plays. My buddy's story reminded me of this, as do many of the stories you see here, sometimes. "I was against a loose-aggressive player whom I've seen three-barrel with nothing. I had top pair, top kicker, and decided to check/call and let him bet my hand for me. He bet the flop, I called, he bet the turn, I called, then he bet the river and I folded because I only had one pair. What did I do wrong?" If you have a plan, and that plan involves your opponent betting, then don't change your plan because everything is going according to plan. Adjusting to new information is important, but if you expected the bet, and then it happened, then you have no new information. If you're going to fold the river, then save some money and fold before you get there.
Disclosure: This is not a comprehensive breakdown, and it's not meant to be. Just some key points and context that I thought you'd find interesting. DraftKings is technology stock meets gambling Three main products: Daily fantasy sports or DFS, Sportsbook, iGaming DFS is OG DraftKings. Fantasy sports are where players make fantasy teams and battle each other to win money. However, sportsbook is where the money is: betting actual money on actual sports against the house. iGaming is basically an online casino with some online games you can gamble on, in addition to the classics like blackjack and Russian roulette. In addition to DraftKings, there’s also SBTech, the online gambling technology company that had an arranged marriage as part of the DKNG merger. Landmark Case In 2018, the Supreme Court knocks down the federal law prohibiting sports gambling throughout the United States. Pandora’s box is open. Each state has to decide what it wants to do with gambling on its own. The Path to Legalization Map of Sportsbook legality DFS legality is more widespread Currently, 36% of the USA population lives in a state with some form of legal gambling and 24% in a state with legal online gambling. The population living where DraftKings is live or going live is only 13% of the country. There’s a lot of ground to cover. NJ is the posterchild for sports betting legalization at the moment, and it’s DraftKings promised land. Generating 30% of DraftKings total revenue, it is a testament to the money waiting to be made if sports betting is made fully legal. The Risks for DraftKings Regulation: Gambling is a money-maker, but it’s also a social disease. States will want to cash in with taxes of 6.8 to 36% but it will be a tough battle to make it happen. And that battle will unfold state by state. Just like with the marijuana industry, the fate of the market is undeniably shaped by how legalization unfolds. It could end up being a niche hobby in select states, or it could end up like gambling in the United Kingdom, where there’s a gambling shop on every corner. Or there could be a huge gambling market, but one that is monopolized by the States exclusively. If they’re going to allow gambling, why not take all the profits, right? Competition: FanDuel and DraftKings once considered a merger before the FTC played tough. Now, together they own 95% of the DFS market in the USA with a slight majority going to DraftKings. However, there will be fierce competition as new states open up, and missteps could be stifling for either company in the early stages. The lifeblood fueling this battle? Cold hard cash burned up in advertising and incentivizing dollars. Maybe it’s not as bad as Uber since gambling has a chance at being profitable, but if you don’t like to see money burning, think twice about entering the online sports betting market over this coming decade. Technology: The hardware of gambling is a liability. Paying for the bandwidth needed at the exact moment of a match when everybody checks their bet is expensive. Payment processing, user validation, server hosting, sports data, app store placement: these are all areas of vulnerability and cost that you can minimize but can’t eliminate. With SBTech in the fold, having complete vertical integration is the aim and strength of DraftKings. The House Always Wins…Usually: Writing bets means risk. Thankfully, the DFS is player versus player, so DraftKings always wins, taking something like EDIT: up to 15% of what players put in. It's a bookkeeper's wet dream. But Sportsbook and iGaming have classic gambling risks which should be fine over the long-term. The Good Side (and Oh God They’re Beautiful) Growth Potential: It’s a technology stock. The PE Ratio is over 600. When you buy DraftKings, you’re buying the dream of an America where gambling is as American as the Ford F150. A matured Sportsbook market in the USA would be around $20 billion, about $85 per adult. It’s a beautiful untapped (and non-existent) market with lots of money waiting to be taken. With Coronavirus, the slice of the sports betting pie that goes digital is bound to be more than ever before, if the sports happen COVID19: The only thing that can stop a sports betting company from making money is getting rid of sports. Thankfully, new sports like Table Tennis, eSports, and a host of other betting topics have allowed DraftKings to get by. With lots of cash on hand ($450 million plus) and a monthly burn of $15 million, there’s enough to weather the storm. And if sports reopen with empty stadiums, fans may turn to online gambling to get their authentic sport experience. Turnaround Time: The largest expense that DraftKings has is conquering new markets. Every time a state opens up, it’s a massive investment. That’s why analysts and executives don’t think DraftKings will run net positive for years to come. However, DraftKings experience in New Jersey has shown an average turnaround time of about two years is all it takes to recoup their initial investment when entering a new market. Some pretty tasty data to have coming in. The Numbers Revenue was up to $323 million in 2019 from $226 million and $191 million the years prior. NJ made up $86 million of that, growing by 8.5x after sports betting legalization in late 2018 to make up over a quarter of revenue in 2019. Net loss however was $146 million in 2019 from $76 million and $73 million the years prior. Cost of Revenue was $103 million, Sales and Marketing was $185 million, Product and Tech was $55 million, and General and Administrative was $124 million of that. DraftKings has never been in the green. They attribute the accelerated burn in 2019 to growth in new markets so whether its aggressive or reckless is up to you. To be fair, if you’re investing in this stock, you should be expecting them to burn every single dollar they get at this point. Average monthly unique players was up to 684k in 2019 from 601k and 574k with the average revenue per monthly unique player up to $39 from $31 and $28. As of March 31st 2020, there were 720k monthly unique players with average revenue of $41 per. So continued growths in the midst of the early Coronavirus pandemic. Q2 will be revealing for certain. The stock just skyrocketed to $34+ yesterday meaning a market cap of over $10 billion and a PE ratio of over 600. Take it for what it’s worth to you. Some Quirks DraftKings revenue is seasonal. Q4 is the best when the NFL and NBA coincide, with Q3 and Q1 being roughly equivalent, and Q2 basically being garbage. With COVID mainly taking out Q2, perhaps there’s hope for sports by Q3 and Q4 to hit those high-earning months? Controlled Structure: You get 1 vote for 1 stock, but CEO and Founder Jason Robins gets 10 votes for each stock. So whatever you do, he has 90% of the voting power. Good for long-term growth in a highly reactive landscape, but being powerless is never a fun feeling. SBTech offers B2B solutions for other gambling companies looking to offer online sports betting and iGaming, so there’s that added benefit. In fact, the share of B2B has been growing from 1% in 2018 to 5% in 2019, so some diversification is happening. DraftKings’s ticker symbol DKNG reminds me of Donkey Kong
Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives. PREVIOUSLY:
We start with more on the death of Davey Boy Smith, including a full-length super long obituary, because apparently 2002 is nothing but people dying. I feel like I've done nothing but recap obituaries since starting back with 2002. Anyway. in the wake of Smith's death, the reaction has sadly not been one of surprise. Anyone who saw Smith in the last 4-5 years pretty much saw it coming. The cause of death, pending toxicology results, was ruled a heart attack caused from prolonged steroid use. But until the toxicology results are back, the belief among his friends and family is that there was probably more to it. Dave talks about the staggering number of wrestlers who have died under age 40 in recent years, with upwards of 20 of them being due to drug issues.
Smith died while on vacation with his girlfriend Andrea Hart, estranged wife of Bruce Hart. Despite that, Smith was actually on good terms with most of the Hart family, although Andrea is not. The Hart family believes Andrea knows more than she's letting on about the circumstances of his death, but she's not talking to anybody. Andrea's children (that she had with Bruce) were also there and they each apparently have different accounts of how he died (he was sleeping! he was in the pool! he was eating!) but they all pretty much agree he collapsed doing whatever he was doing. Andrea told the press that she believed Smith had overdosed, but Smith's dad did his own interviews and denied it, saying his son had stopped using drugs and was clean when he died. Needless to say, most people aren't buying that given his track record. Smith's father decided against having the body cremated and instead ordered it sent back to England for examination to make sure he wasn't murdered. "I cannot believe his death was natural," he said. "If they find drugs in his body, then he didn't put them there. Davey was clean." (Eeeeeeehhhhh....) Shit got even messier when Andrea and Smith's ex-wife Diana Hart each tried to claim the body. Despite her book (in which she accused Smith of drugging, abusing, and raping her), Diana played grieving widow in the media even though they're divorced. It may not have been an act though. Some in the family believe Smith and Diana were trying to reconcile, and they were on good terms at the time of his death. Andrea claimed to be his common-law wife, even though she's still legally married to Bruce. She later claimed Smith had proposed to her 2 weeks before his death and said they were engaged, which was the first anyone had heard about that. Smith's father claims in their last conversation, Davey Boy had told him he was planning to break up with Andrea after their vacation. So who knows. Anyway, both Diana and Andrea planned their own separate memorial services, while Smith's dad is planning his own 3rd service. Smith's body wasn't at either of the Hart family memorial services because, as mentioned, it was sent back to England where authorities are launching an investigation at the behest of Smith's father.
Andrea's service was said to be small and simple, just a few dozen people, and she seemed sincere in her sorrow. Diana's service was larger and more public, with hundreds of attendees and press, along with several WWE names. Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart (who attended both services), Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Jim Ross, and others all attended and several of them spoke. Diana's eulogy featured a professionally produced video featuring Davey Boy footage from WWE that had never aired on television before. She thanked Vince for trying to help Davey with his addiction issues. She never acknowledged everything she wrote about him in her book last year. Smith's children as well as Stampede wrestler TJ Wilson gave speeches as well. 16-year-old Harry Smith was composed and gave a great speech about teaming with his father in his last matches. And then Ellie Hart got up there and....it went about how you'd expect. She started ranting about Andrea and blaming her for not giving the family the answers they wanted and it started to turn into some drama, but the minister gently interrupted her and got things back on track. And finally, Bret Hart gave a speech, directly addressing Smith's children and saying that Davey Boy and Owen would want the children of all these Hart family members to get along with each other better than the adults have. From here, Dave gets into the actual meat of the obituary, recapping Smith's life and career. As always, an excellent read but very long to recap.
WWE Confidential, the new show the company is producing, aired its debut episode this week, focusing on the Montreal Screwjob. Dave once again talks about how Vince McMahon tried to downplay the incident recently, giving an interview just a couple of months ago calling the Screwjob a minor incident that almost no one cares about. Vince went so far as to say he could count on one hand the number of people who even still care about that old news. Turns out one of those must be Vince because this week, they dedicated the premiere of this new show to the story and highlighted it as the most controversial night in the history of wrestling. The hook of the show was Shawn Michaels revealing publicly, for the first time, that yes, he was in on the screwjob and knew about it in advance. Dave says this isn't really a secret. Shawn denied having any knowledge of it that night but as soon as the day after Survivor Series 97, he was bragging to friends about it. Vince McMahon also later confided in Undertaker that Shawn knew ahead of time. So it was kind of an open "secret" that Shawn knew but this is the first time he's admitted it publicly. Triple H still denies knowing about it ahead of time, but Dave is pretty skeptical there too (and indeed, it's later revealed that yes indeed, Triple H also knew). Dave thinks lots of people had to know. Even the guy who cued the music had to know, because Shawn's music was queued up and ready to play the second Vince ordered the bell to be rung. Pat Patterson always claimed not to know and Bret has said he wants to believe it, because he likes Pat, but the way Pat interrupted the match-planning conversation and specifically suggested the sharpshooter spot to them makes Bret question it (I think Patterson still denies it to this day, but I have my doubts there too). Anyway, the show recapped the history of the Screwjob and if you know Dave, you know he's about to poke a whole bunch of holes in WWE's revisionist bullshit. Here we go...
The story of the episode was WWF was close to going out of business due to the WCW war and couldn't afford Bret anymore, so Vince nobly allowed Hart out of his contract so he could negotiate a better deal with WCW. Actually, Dave says, Vince first talked to Bret about deferring some of his contract to later on but that was a couple months earlier. At the time, WWF really was having some financial struggles, but it's an exaggeration to say they were almost driven out of business. They were never even close. But regardless, that's irrelevant because in Sept. 97, they raised the price of PPVs by $10. That added revenue, which was nearly $1 million per month in pure profit, was easily enough to get them out of financial trouble. By the time Survivor Series 97 rolled around, WWF was doing just fine, money-wise, and were only a couple months away from catching fire and getting nuclear hot. So no, they did not need to get rid of Bret's contract. And in fact, in October, a couple weeks before Survivor Series, Vince changed his mind and asked Bret to stay, saying that the financial situation had turned around. But by this point, Hart's negotiations with WCW were full speed ahead and Vince allowed Hart to continue negotiating. But after talking to both sides, it was clear Vince had no real plan for Bret and he didn't really seem like he wanted to keep him, so Bret took the WCW deal and the rest is history. But of course, none of that is mentioned in this show. The episode also claimed Hart refused to drop the title to anyone (again, not true. Only Shawn. Bret even offered to lose it to Brooklyn Brawler if they wanted. In fact, Dave breaks down all the different scenarios that were presented here, and Bret was willing to lose the title to anyone other than Shawn, anywhere other than that show in Montreal, at any date before or after the PPV. They had actually presented Bret with dozens of different scenarios, all of which he agreed to, only for Vince to keep coming back around to Shawn at Survivor Series, which was the one and only thing Bret wouldn't budge on). They also tried to paint the picture that Bret could have taken the title to WCW the night after Survivor Series. In fact, Bret's WWF contract didn't end until Dec. 1st, and he was booked on more than a dozen house shows after Survivor Series and had even agreed to work the early December PPV because Bischoff had given his blessing. There was zero chance Bret was going to show up with the belt on Nitro. There was concern that Bischoff would go on Nitro the next day and announce he had signed Bret, and Dave says it's true that Bischoff certainly was planning to do that. But Bret had also asked Bischoff to hold off on the announcement and Bischoff had agreed. Vince knew about that too, but in recorded conversations with Bret (from the Wrestling With Shadows documentary), Vince didn't seem concerned since the word was already out and everyone knew Bret was leaving already. This just goes on and on. We all know the story already. Anyway, TL;DR - interesting show, but WWE's version of the story is bullshit. But we all knew that.
At the latest NJPW show, Antonio Inoki came out and cut a promo. He talked about being in attendance recently at the World Cup and said wrestling needs something like that. Inoki claimed he had put together a deal with WWE for a joint NJPW/WWE show to take place later in the year. Dave doesn't know if there's any truth to that story, but this is the first he's heard of it and he doesn't think it makes any sense for WWE so he's skeptical.
Usually in Japan, TV-Asahi airs the finals of NJPW's G1 Climax tournament live. But this year that may not happen, as they're looking at airing one of Inoki's MMA shows instead. This is a direct result of the terrible rating the recent Tokyo Dome show drew when it aired live. This company is struggling mightily lately.
Random news and notes: Inoki recently recruited a 23-year old Brazillian MMA fighter named Lyoto Machida to come to NJPW (he never really does anything in NJPW other than train at the dojo, but he had a long career in UFC and still fights for Bellator to this day). Dusty Rhodes is the new co-host of Turner South's Atlanta Braves pre-game show called "Hey The Braves Are Next!" Scott Hall will be working Insane Clown Posse's upcoming Gathering of the Juggalos event. Former WCW wrestler Evan Karagis recently filmed a role on the soap opera "Passions."
In the main event of FOX's Celebrity Boxing show, Chyna lost by decision to Joey Buttafuoco. Chyna's mystique of being a woman who only wants to compete with men got pretty much obliterated here, as the larger Buttafuoco manhandled her with ease for much of the match, which probably makes all those big tough wrestlers who sold for her feel kinda silly. But Buttafuoco came in as a hated heel to the audience and despite how she got pummeled, many people felt Buttafuoco was fighting dirty and cheating, so Chyna wasn't too hurt by it. She talked about wanting a rematch and Dave says if PRIDE really wants to break into the U.S. market, they could throw it onto one of their cards. Hey, this show did a really strong TV rating, maybe a rematch would be just the kind of freak-show attraction needed for PRIDE to get attention in the U.S. Nothing else they've tried has worked. Dave also suggests NWA-TNA could book it, but a worked wrestling match between the two probably wouldn't get as much media attention.
Big Dick Dudley's ex-wife, former ECW valet Elektra, did an interview talking about his death. She said he'd had stomach pains all week and couldn't urinate. But didn't go to the doctor because he didn't think it was a big deal. Then at one point he got up to go to the bathroom but collapsed on the floor and died there on the spot. Jeez. At the time of his death, he had lost over 100 pounds from his peak weight of 320 in ECW several years ago.
Vince Russo is going to be writing a book about his time in WWF. Due to legal reasons and the ongoing lawsuit, it won't include much about his WCW tenure (I think he's written a book or two, but I've never read them, so if anyone has any insight, feel free to share).
Shaun Assael's book "Sex, Lies, & Headlocks: The Real Story of Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation" will be published next month and is getting strong early reviews. Dave has talked to several of the people who spoke with Assael for the book and some of them expect it to be good while others feel that Assael fell victim to the cons and charms of wrestlers who were working him. We shall see, says Dave.
The debut NWA-TNA PPV will feature some sort of tournament to crown a new NWA champion. Dan Severn is no longer the champion after not agreeing to work the show (he already had a prior MMA booking for that date in New Mexico). As a result, the NWA (which is now working with TNA) just stripped him of the belt, which is convenient because they didn't really want to use Severn anyway, so now they can do whatever they originally planned to do with the belt without having to book an excuse to get it off him. The Jarretts and this new promotion now have full control over both the NWA world and tag team titles.
Mike Tenay has been named the lead announcer for the new NWA-TNA promotion. They're also trying to get Lex Luger to appear for the debut show, but Dave thinks its unlikely since Luger is financially set for life and has shown no interest in doing any wrestling since WCW folded.
Jeff Jarrett had talks with Bret Hart about coming in to do a Team Canada gimmick. Latest Dave heard is that Hart isn't interested, but they may bring in some of the new generation of Harts for it. There's been talk of bringing in TJ Wilson, Harry Smith, and Teddy Hart as a new version of the group. Smith is still only 16 and it's way too early to put him on the national stage yet and in a lot of states, he wouldn't even legally be allowed to perform. Wilson is also a teenager, from a bad home who pretty much grew up as an honorary Hart member in the Hart household. And Teddy Hart is a natural in-ring performer who would already be in WWE if not for the fact that during his two training camp tryouts, he had behavioral incidents both times. But they're all talented and will likely be big stars in the future. Last time WWE was in Calgary, Vince McMahon personally requested to meet with all 3 of them for a private tryout, but it didn't amount to anything.
Little bit of a change in the WWF writing teams. Brian Gewertz is now the official head writer for Raw, while Paul Heyman is the lead writer for Smackdown. Stephanie McMahon will continue to oversee creative for both shows and, of course, Vince still has final say on everything. Dave expects this to result in Raw being a more comedic show while Smackdown will be the more serious in-ring product (pretty much, yeah. And thus, we have the official beginning of Heyman-era Smackdown and soon we'll see the birth of the Smackdown Six).
Notes from Raw: show opened with Chris Benoit making his unannounced return to a huge pop. Dave still expects Benoit to eventually be managed by Arn Anderson, which has been the plan for months (and never happens). That was actually the original plan before the NWO was brought in. If Benoit was healthy in time (which, turned out he wasn't so it didn't matter anyway), the original idea was Benoit vs. Austin at Wrestlemania 18 with Anderson managing Benoit. But that obviously all changed. Anyway, what else? Dave once again mentions that Jeff Hardy looks physically awful. He seems to know about Hardy's drug issues and seems to be hinting about it without saying it. Tommy Dreamer continued his gross gimmick by drinking Undertaker's tobacco spit. Lesnar beat Bubba Ray Dudley but had to sell a ton in the match and Dave doesn't get it. For a guy that they so clearly want to turn into a Goldberg-like star, selling for midcarders every week isn't how Goldberg got over. Jim Ross went on and on about how Lesnar has never been pinned, which Dave says is an insult to all the fans who have seen Lesnar do jobs at house shows. RVD beat Eddie Guerrero in a 20+ minute ladder match and Dave says it's the longest match on Raw in at least a year. Dave gives it 4 stars and considering how messy and sloppy it was, that shows you how good it was. Lots of dangerous spots, some botched moves, and most notably a moment when a fan ran into the ring and knocked over the ladder while Eddie was climbing up. Eddie and Earl Hebner started stomping the fan until security dragged him out. Still an awesome match though. And finally, Benoit returned at the end of the show and turned heel on Austin. Dave says Benoit actually isn't ready yet and isn't supposed to be back in the ring until July, but the company is so desperate for anything to give them a shot in the arm that they may have pulled the trigger on this angle early.
Notes from Smackdown: the only thing Dave talks about is the Hulk Hogan retirement angle they did and he's got mixed feelings on it. First the positive: he gives Hogan credit for being an absolutely incredible performer when the heat is on. And Hogan gave a tremendous performance in this and Dave doesn't let it go unrecognized. But then the negative: in the promo, Hogan talked at length about when his dad was dying, he was basically expressionless except for Monday and Thursday nights when he'd watch WWF and his face would light up. So Hogan said his dad's last words were he wanted to see his son return to the WWF. So that's all sweet and nice, right? Weeeeeell....Hogan has told a different version of this story in the past. In previous interviews, Hogan said his dad was disgusted by what wrestling had become and he wanted Hogan to "clean it up." The idea that he was laying in the hospital and only coming to life when his beloved WWF was on doesn't exactly jibe with what Hogan has said before. And no matter what the truth is, Dave is uncomfortable Hogan using his dead dad as a way to get this storyline over, but hey, he ain't the first and won't be the last.
WWE's first show in Hawaii in probably 15 years is scheduled for later this month. Rock is scheduled to work the show and tickets sold out 2 hours after they went on sale. While we're at it, the Australia show in August also sold out the 47,000-seat Colonial Stadium in Melbourne in only 4 days. Once they scale the stadium for production, they plan to open up more seats.
It's "basically a sure thing" that Hogan vs. Vince McMahon will be one of the top matches at Summerslam. How they get there seems to change weekly. There's been talks of having Hogan take time off after King of the Ring and return for the Vince match at Summerslam. There's also been talk of him sticking around through the entire summer. So who knows? (Ended up being a mixture of both: Hogan stuck around the entire summer, but then he did an angle to get written off TV right before Summerslam. And he didn't come back until early 2003. And, of course, we got the Hogan/Vince match at Wrestlemania)
More info on the incident from a couple weeks ago where Kevin Nash and X-Pac reportedly threw a fit and got the script changed. They were told by writer Ed Koskey what the plans were for them on the show. Nash and X-Pac didn't like it, especially X-Pac since it involved him doing 2 jobs during the same show. X-Pac said he was quitting and told Nash he'd meet him in the car. Nash told Shane McMahon he'd go calm X-Pac down and straighten everything out. Nash and X-Pac came back, had meetings with Shane and Jim Ross, and then later with Koskey and Brian Gewertz (who wrote the show). They managed to convince the writers to change it more to their liking. Nash was also upset about how Ric Flair went on TV and said he'd fired Scott Hall. Nash didn't like the idea of Flair on TV being able to hire and fire people from their NWO, because that kinda takes away from the idea of the NWO as an autonomous, outsider group that doesn't play by WWE's rules. So that's why Nash was able to go out on TV on this night and cut the promo about how Flair doesn't control the NWO. Of course, Hall is still gone, so I guess he still does. Anyway, both Nash and X-Pac were pissed over all this and caused a scene, especially X-Pac, to the point others in the locker room wondered why they weren't disciplined instead of being given their way. But if you wonder that, you clearly ain't been paying attention to Nash over the years. Anyway, X-Pac still did the job in the Hardyz match, but not in the second match.
Random news: house shows in Alexandria and Baton Rouge, LA were both canceled this weekend due to low ticket sales. Shit's selling out in record time in Australia and Hawaii, but they can't give tickets away in Louisiana apparently. Undertakers hips were both banged up after the Hogan match at the PPV but he continued working, although he was limited (and years later, he'd have to get major surgery on both those hips). At Raw in Edmonton, Ric Flair was getting huge pops and "woo!" chants for him before the show started, so they filmed a backstage segment where he told Arn Anderson how much he hates Edmonton so they would boo him when he came out live. Lance Cade won the HWA title from Johnny the Bull down in developmental. WWF was pushing the city of Edmonton to present Benoit with the key to the city on Raw, but Edmonton wasn't so keen on the idea. And finally, during a bikini contest at the house show in Winnipeg, Ivory's top got pulled down, exposing her boob, much to the delight of many in the crowd.
Remember how MTV's The Osbournes was the only show routinely beating Raw in the cable ratings? That's changing. The Osbournes is over for the season, but this week, Raw fell to #4 behind the Lakers/Spurs NBA playoff game and 2 different episodes of SpongeBob. Patrick's a draw, brother.
Raven has been doing commentary on Sunday Night Heat, but he recently asked to be removed from it because he feels like it hurts his wrestling character. Dave thinks this is pretty risky. Raven as a wrestler is probably nearing the end of his shelf-life and lord knows WWE hasn't shown any desire to push him. And he was actually pretty fantastic at commentary. So giving up a safe job that he was excelling at for one that WWE doesn't really seem to see any value in him for seems like a good way to find yourself on the chopping block next time they decide to get rid of some people (yup, he'll be gone from the company in another 7 months or so). For what it's worth though, this isn't the first time Raven has been in this situation. Back in the 90s, he was a manager and commentator in WWF then too, under the name Johnny Polo. But when they weren't interested in using him as a wrestler, he quit the company and reinvented himself in ECW as Raven. Sometimes you gotta bet on yourself.
Jim Ross has a weekly WWE.com article where he usually just shares all the latest injuries everyone has. This leads Dave on a bit of a tangent when Ross wrote about how Triple H has a fractured patella. The injury was diagnosed by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham and Andrews told Triple H to be careful with it, but he could continue wrestling as long as he can take the pain. Basically one of the world's top sports doctors saying, "Yeah you've got a broken knee, but throw some dirt on it, you'll be fine." It's no wonder so many of these guys end up on pain pills rather than getting the medical treatment they need.
Also in his article, Jim Ross admitted that the WWE is not doing a good job lately of providing a product the fans want to see. Dave thinks that's just about as strong a statement he's heard on the current state of WWE from someone so high up within the company. Ross admitted they need to create new rivalries, elevate new young talent, and effectively introduce new stars. However, Ross also blamed the economy and the abnormally high number of injuries everyone is dealing with right now for part of the problems too. Dave says the economy may play a small role in the declining live event and PPV numbers, but usually when the economy is in the toilet, TV ratings go up because people are staying home more. Not the case here. Injuries, yes that's a problem for sure. But the core of all WWE's problems right now comes down to the simple fact that the show pretty much sucks. And at least someone high up in the office seems to finally be publicly admitting it.
Tough Enough 2 is down to the final four. Dave talks about how Jackie Gayda is now the sentimental favorite because she tore her ACL during the show but has still refused to quit, which opened a lot of eyes on her. Speaking of Tough Enough, in a WCW-like comedy of errors, they aired a promo for next week's episode before the current episode was finished, thus spoiling who the final 4 were going to be, before it was revealed on the show people were watching.
The WWF Forceable Entry album has sold around 364,000 copies total since its release. But it's actually considered a pretty huge failure because WWF had to pay so much money in fees and up front advances to the various artists on the album, and they're nowhere close to recouping that cost. (The album eventually sells over 500,000 and goes gold but still a flop).
NEXT WEDNESDAY:A look at the dismal state of WWE in 2002, Tough Enough II finale, Riki Choshu's departure from NJPW, Dave reviews several new wrestling books, and more...
The best uses for a deck of cards / Playing games worth playing in these times
It is a horrible time for the world, but a good time for games. As it is an expensive and space consuming hobby, I know many of us don’t have access to everything we’d like to play. Over a few years I researched for myself the best uses of a deck of cards – easily portable, easier to get people to the table (oh yes! I play cards!), usually available. It seems like the right time to share the results. I’ve organized the below into both frame of mind (I want to Think, I want to Pass Time, I want to Laugh) and player count. Player count is focused on who you have – I didn’t put games necessarily where they are best, but rather “if I have four people, what is my best option?” A brief calibration: I still have my 1995 first edition of Settlers of Catan. I’ve got roughly 80 games in my basement curated from the last 25 years and know the rules to twice that number. My favorite games are Tigris & Euphrates and Race for the Galaxy. This isn’t boasting (certainly not around here) - it is meant to be context so when I say these are games “worth playing” you have a better sense of what that means. Links to rules. Hope this is helpful. When you want to think: For 2: · Khmer (2 players): Khmer begins as a math and probability game, but quickly evolves into the psychology space and bluffing as you and your opponent learn the game. It gets better with more play, as it has room for different metagames and strategies, and the winner will be the one who remains one step ahead. In essence, you are trying to move cards between your hand and the table such that your total is MORE than your opponent, but LESS than the table – and you are rarely sure what your opponent is holding. The deck requires six 6’s – we use face cards for the 6’s and A-5 for the 1-5. · Dibs (2-3 players): This is also a psychological game, where you will win by predicting your opponent and staying one step ahead. The core conceit is simple, you each have an identical deck (1-13), you are bidding on another pool of cards (worth face value), and high cards win. The twist comes because you have to use your entire deck of 1-13 to bid, and you can’t win everything. The game is more commonly known as GOPS or Psychological Jiujitsu, but I feel those names are both bad and inaccurate, so we’ve adopted this name instead. For 3: · Fight the Landlord (3 players): This is the best 3-player version of the “Big 2” family of games from East Asia. Big 2, or climbing games, are a race to empty your hand before your opponents. There is wide room in choosing what to play when, and how to break up your hand, meaning you will be making both difficult and important decisions throughout each and every round. Highly addictive, and good hand play will nearly always beat out a lucky deal. The rules get a bit lengthy when it comes to what cards can be led, so you will either want to make a crib sheet or simplify the rules to mirror Tichu (below). The game will play just as well. · 99) (2-4 players): Another trick-taking game (see note below) on my list. The mechanism for bidding in this game (in a nutshell, removing three cards from your hand) is simple, but introduces asymmetric, hidden information and requires you to make trade-off choices between your desired hand and your desired bid. This adds a bit of crunch to the model without making the game inaccessible to new or more casual players. For 4: · Scotch Bridge (Really 4 players, but can stretch to 3-6): Also known as Oh Hell, Pratt & Whitney, La Podrida, and others. This is a trick taking game, and I nearly universally dislike those (see note below), but it wins me over for two reasons. First, you aren't trying to win the most tricks but rather to value exactly the strength of your hand and then hit that bid - which means you are engaged in every single hand. Secondly, the handsize will range from 1 to 13, and each handsize meaningfully changes the feel of the game. 13 is a pure test of trick taking skill, 1 is a Mexican stand-off with your chips on the table, and 7 in the middle is a wild ride of big bets and lady luck. As noted, this game has numerous variations. Most make little tweaks to the scoring, max handsize, and order of hands. In general, I prefer a positive form of scoring (10 for hitting your bid, 1 for each trick, penalty for how far you missed your bid, etc.) and playing hands from 1 to 13 and back again. · Tichu (4 players): In my opinion, the best of the Big 2/climbing games. Same as Fight the Landlord, the goal of the game is to be the first to empty your hand, but it requires skillful play in knowing when to play, when to pass, and what to lead. You can never go on autopilot in this game. Tichu is played in 2 vs. 2 partnership and has elegant rules for scoring, both of which make this one of my favorite games of all time. A note on the game – It is technically designed and published by a Swiss designer. However, if you research it, he played more the role of an editocurator, (quite masterfully) going through regional variants of Big 2, compiling the best, pulling in some scoring rules from other games, and polishing it all into the glistening pearl it is. A note on the deck - it requires four jokers. You have three options 1) Find two decks with the same backs and mark up the jokers 2) Equally mix two decks so there is an even mix of two card backs, again including and marking up all four jokers, 3) Removing the jokers and using the four 2’s as the jokers, with a crib sheet in the middle of the table mapping the four suits to the jokers. Or you can buy a Tichu deck. 5-6 Players · Fossil (4-8 player): This is an auction game using a deck of cards. Winning a bid will net you points but losing a bid will constrain your future options - as well as provide key information to your opponents. These decisions are the core drivers – what to set out for auction and when to throw down on someone else’s auction. In the end, the game is a mixture of psychology, strategy, and luck, leaving room both for clever play and for big moments when everyone groans and laughs around the table. It can play 4-8, but plays best at 5-6. The first game or two generally feels casual and luck driven, but as the game clicks you may start seeing how you can influence the state of the table by choosing what to auction, or how the timing of your bid can win or lose you the hand. Like Khmer, this game grows on you over the first couple of games. · Napoleon (5-6 Players): This is a Japanese trick-taking (see note below) game. What makes it stand out is the hidden role. Each player bids individually, then the winner (Napoleon) declares a Secretary card. Whoever is holding this card is secretly on Napoleon’s team, unbeknownst to everyone (including Napoleon). This leads to bluffing and deduction during play, with players uncertain about when to win a trick and when to ditch their low cards. It’s an excellent knife twist in the side or what is too often a rote playing-out-of-hands in standard trick taking, and it creates a social environment ripe for discussion and laughter at the end of each hand. Napoleon is very similar to Briscola Chiamata, but in my opinion plays better as it removes some unnecessary complications from that latter game. It also draws comparisons to Schafkopf/Sheepshead, but again I think this one does it better. · Skull & Roses (4-8 players): This is a pure bluffing game – think Poker without hands, only you, your opponents, and your wits. If that doesn’t capture it for you, just accept that this is amazing. You all place cards on the table until someone starts bidding, then it’s a gamble for who thinks they can flip the most cards without revealing a skull. The tension comes because, if you win the bid, you have to flip ALL of your own cards - so if you’ve played a skull, you lose. But, if you play all roses, you’re making it easy on your opponents. Choose wisely when you want to bid to win, and when you want to bid to entrap your opponents. The game is usually played with coasters, but just as easily you can give each player one face card as their Skull and three numbered cards as their Roses. Or mark up any stack of two sided, identical objects in your house – I’ve heard of people playing with sweetener packets at Denny’s. 1) A note on trick-taking: I don’t like it. Pure trick-taking – think Vanilla Whist – is not devoid of skill, but it IS quickly masterable and rarely surprising. A set of skilled players will play the same hand the same way every time, can guess the outcome before play even begins, and state it with certainty after 2-3 hands have revealed voids or singletons. Most trick taking games, therefore, overlay something else to add interest. Things like complex bidding (Bridge, Skat) make the games inaccessible to new players, and turn them into objects of study more than play. Things like small hand sizes (Pitch, Euchre) throw the game into heavy luck, and often throw you into the backseat, passively throwing cards on the table until you are dealt a hand worth playing. This is fine to keep your hands busy while you drink, but isn’t what I look for when Gaming (with a capital G). Nonetheless, I’ve included four trick-takers. My criteria are straightforward:
You have to be able to bid and play whatever hand you get. Games like Spades and Scottish Bridge don’t ask you win as much as you can, but rather to exactly value your hand. Playing a bad hand can be just as engaging and difficult as playing a good hand.
They need a single, straightforward twist to add interest. Napoleon adds a hidden role and uncertain partnerships. 99 asks you to secretly remove cards from the game, manipulating suit length, while trying to deduce what your opponents have removed. Hearts asks you to consider and risk when to win a trick and when to lose. These all give you something to think about throughout the game, sometimes require you to shift tactics midgame, and don’t require a course of study to properly learn (I’m looking at you, Bridge).
I anticipate the comments will contain passionate counter-arguments. So play and make up your own mind. I’ve played a lot and am now offering the best advice I can. When you want to chat and pass time: None of these games are chutes and ladders. But they do offer more luck and simpler decisions, for the most part, allowing you to while away hours and spend as much time talking to your opponent as you do thinking about the table. 2 Players · Cribbage (2-4 players): Cribbage plays out in two acts. You and your opponent(s) lay cards on the table, trying to hit or avoid certain sums, with a few bonuses for creating pairs or runs. Then you look at your hand (and the crib) to make combinations worth points. There’s a bit of a list to remember, for what scores you points, but with that mastered the game settles into an easy rhythm of regular dopamine hits and little pegs on a board. Hitting 15 and hunting for your melds is utterly enjoyable. This is the perfect game to crack open a bottle of something together and seamlessly move back and forth between chat and play. · Spite & Malice (2-4 players): This game feels like Spit - without the frantic pace, slapped hands, and bent cards. It’s also like multiplayer solitaire, except reverse to how that term is usually used. The rules are built on real solitaire, but you will be very much intertwined with your opponents. Hence the spite, and the resulting malice. I know couples who play this frequently, keeping a running score for the entire year. 3 Players · Shed / Palace (3-5 players): This game goes by many names, not all of them polite. I was taught it as “Screaming Yoda” and it was over twenty years before I learned that the game was known worldwide by other names. Anyway, Shed is a race to get rid of all your cards. Instead of a winner, there is one loser (the last one). The rules for playing cards are simple, and sometimes you’ll be forced to pick up 20 cards all at once. But it’s fine, everything’s fine. You’ll get it back. The game plays out in multiple acts and often swings back and forth, lending it excitement and perpetual hope. Not overly strategic, but engaging and fun from start to end. 4 Players · Canasta (4 players): The Archetypal Argentinian game. Canasta is an ageless, breezy, push your luck game of set collection and making odd faces at your partner across the table, trying to read their mind without communicating ("May I go out?" "No." "G****n you what a f**** mess why didn't you play your Canasta before.") It feels a bit like Rummy, as you are drawing and discarding to collect sets of cards with your partner, and trying to out-collect your opponents. However, the team dynamic, the scoring rules, the wild cards, and the end-game make this an entirely different animal. The game has a frustrating amount of rules – though they are all simple, the sheer number means some time to learn and then time to familiarize/memorize. As is the way with most longstanding, cultural games. Nothing that a crib sheet and a few run-throughs can’t solve. · Cuarenta (4 players): Now hop over to Ecuador, and this is the national game. The central conceit is much simpler than Canasta – play one card onto the table, trying to capture the cards already on the table by creating matches or runs. But, as with Canasta, there is then a laundry list of footnotes to be memorized with edge cases and scoring. That said, once digested, the game is simple, breezy, and endlessly entertaining. You’ll do better if you can calculate odds and count cards, but at the same time you can still enjoy yourself (and still win) by just playing your cards and sipping your drink. · Hearts & Spades (4 players): As mentioned, I’m generally not a fan of trick taking (see note above). I include these because they don’t overinflate themselves. They know they are simple trick-taking games, they add a touch of spice for interest, and just leave it at that. The result in both cases is a pleasant way to pass the time. For Hearts, the good bit is the shifting winds, trying to decide at each point when you are trying to win and when you are trying to lose. Each hand is a puzzle, how to throw your hearts at other people, how to win those tricks with your high cards at the right time, etc. For Spades, the central challenge is in correctly valuing your hand, then playing to hit that value. Keep in mind that others may start tanking their own tricks to hit their bid, which makes the ground under your own feet increasingly unstable. Depending on how the cards come out, you may find yourself scrabbling for just one more trick, or suddenly shifting to trying to lose because someone had an unexpected void – it’s that agility that comes from the shifting landscape and the fact that every hand is a chance to play THAT hand that makes Spades a game worth playing. When you want to Laugh and have fun: Sometimes you want to laugh more than you want to win. Sometimes you just want to have fun, without taking on any stress. These are those games. 2 Players · Cabo) (2-4 players): This plays better at 3-4 but is the only one I’ve found for the bucket that does work for 2. At it’s core, it is a bit of memory, luck, and playing the odds – you are swapping facedown cards around the table, but you don’t get to look at all your cards. So you need to figure out what you have, what your opponents have, and choose the moment to strike - when you think you have the lowest hidden total. Cabo is a relatively modern game, but even so there are a handful of different origin stories and many minor rules variations. Play one set of rules to start and, if you like it, you can check out all the possibilities and stick with your favorite. 3 Players · Ricochet Poker (3-8 players): It’s a light betting game – can play with quarters or crackers, whatever you like. The game is simple and draws from poker rules. Each round you get one more card and have to decide whether you want to pay to stay in or fold. It’s more accessible than poker, so is easy to “wing it,” but you still get the agony and thrills that come from winning or losing the pot. · Manipulation Rummy (2-4 players): If you are familiar with Rummikub, this is that game exactly but with two decks of cards (instead of tiles). If you aren’t – this builds on the foundation of Rummy, but all melds are played onto the table. Where it shines is the fact that you can break, reform, and rearrange ALL the cards on the table on your turn, in order to find a place for more cards from your hand. The joy is in hunting for that one opportunity on the table so you can wow everyone when it comes to your turn. 4 Players · Cockroach Poker (3-6 players): This is properly a game that should be purchased, but in these times you can make a deck using two decks of cards – 8 each of 8 numbers (I recommend A, K, Q, J, 7, 8, 2, 3… it’s a cognitive psychology thing, just humor me). You’ll be passing cards facedown around the table, asserting (truthfully or falsely) what the card is. The game is in correctly guessing when someone is lying or telling the truth, as well as in the politics of not being the last person at the table to receive a card (after everyone else has already seen it). Every time you lose a challenge, the card goes face up in front of you. Collect too many cards, and it’s game over. This one is amazing. 5-6 Players · Eleusis (4-8 players): I originally learned this as “Delphi,” a streamlined version that is more appropriate for kids. This version has more teeth to it and should delight all ages. One player takes on the role of god (think Zeus) and secretly writes down a law that all cards played must follow. All the other players must then, by trial and error, figure out that law and get rid of their cards. This is harder than it sounds. What makes it work is that Eleusis has a number of scoring rules that put balance into the game – you want the rule to be hard but not too hard, etc. This game will earn many rounds of play. What is nice is it also has a co-op feel. Yes, you are all trying to be the first to guess and play your cards, but on the other hand you are all in it together trying to decipher the divine law you’ve been given.
[OC] The Chicago Bulls rebuild imploded again this year. How can they pick up the pieces and make it better next time?
As we continue to wait for real basketball to happen (or not?), it may be a good time to monitor teams that will definitely be missing out on all the playoff bubble hijinks. Here's a look at the CHICAGO BULLS, with a special shoutout to true Bulls' fans like celsius_two_3_two for helping me review the content. PART ONE: From Playoff Challenger to Challenger space shuttle Like any proper degenerate, I like to make a few Las Vegas "oveunder" bets before the season (note: don't try it at home, it's usually a waste of time and money.) Still, a few win totals jumped out at me. Among them: the Chicago Bulls, oveunder 33.5 wins. Now, the logical move may have been to pound the "under" here. After all, this was a team coming off two seasons with 27-55 and 22-60 records. However, I couldn't help but overthink this one. Sure, the Bulls had a very bad 2018-19 season (highlighted by Fred Hoiberg getting fired and Drill Sergeant Jim Boylen taking over). At the same time, they played better in the second half of the season. Boylen (douche or not) would presumably keep improving their defense. Moreover, Boylen and the front office were on shaky ground in terms of their job security, which usually motivates an organization to push forward and win as much as possible. The front office clearly had that in mind as well, signing Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young to sizable $10M+ contracts. Neither are great players, or perhaps even good players, but they're solid and reliable veterans whom the team could immediately plug into a rotation. These Bulls felt deep, balanced, and perhaps ready to strike. After all, star Zach LaVine would be set to enter Year 6 in the league. Otto Porter would be entering Year 7. Some of their other "young" pieces weren't that young; for example, Kris Dunn and Denzel Valentine are both 26 right now. Overall, this felt like a recipe for success. Or at least, semi-success. The Bulls were ready to take a jump. Making the playoffs may have been unrealistic, but 35-38 wins felt doable. "OVER" it is! Flash forward nearly a year later, and I've got so much egg on my face that vegans won't even talk to me anymore. Turns out, these "new Bulls" were the "same ol' Bulls." They'll end the season with a 22-43 record, which would have put them on pace for 27.8 wins over 82 games, well under the 33.5 set by Vegas. So what went wrong? How did this potential darkhorse run so far off the rails that it needed to get shot and turned to glue? Let's take a closer look. PART TWO: Missing Otto Porter III + D One of the major reasons the Chicago Bulls disappointed in 2019-20 was injuries. Center Wendell Carter missed time, and Otto Porter III barely played due to lingering hip injuries. He appeared in 14 games, and only drew 9 starts (averaging 23 minutes per game.) On the surface, Porter shouldn't feel like a huge loss. After all, this is a player who's never averaged as much as 15 PPG in any season in his career and has never sniffed an All-Star team. That said, the loss of Porter had a trickle down effect that hurt the team in numerous ways. Offensively, Porter is a low-usage player who's about as efficient as anyone in the league. For his career, he shoots over 40% from three (40.4%). Better yet, he's only averaged 0.8 turnovers per game (1.1 TO per 36 minutes.) He's what you'd call a role player / assassin. He gets in, hits his target, and slips out without being noticed. Porter actually has a little more versatility to his offensive game than the average catch-and-shoot player (he can take you down on the block, for example), but most often, he's used as a spacer and he thrives in that regard. Without Porter's shooting, the Chicago Bulls' offense looked even more sluggish than usual. Their offensive rating ranked 27th out of the 30 teams in the league. Porter's loss also showed up in other ways. Porter's not a great defender -- he's probably "above average" -- but that's still an asset to have in your lineup. He's a savvy player who's usually locked in defensively, despite one infamous Shaqtin' A Fool moment. He also has good size and length for his position at 6'8" with a 7'1" wingspan. That size is a key element to this discussion. Porter has "plus" size as a small forward. In his absence, the Bulls struggled to fill that void with the same. They ended up shifting Zach LaVine (6'6", 6'8" wingspan) over to small forward quite a bit. LaVine played 67% of his minutes at SF this past season according to basketball-reference. You can take those positional play-by-plays with a grain of salt because it's not easy to track and label, but that's still a notable difference in terms of the roster composition. The Bulls were smaller than average at SF, and smaller than average at SG with rookie Coby White (6'4", 6'5" wingspan) playing the majority of his minutes there. The natural follow up to this may be: so what? Even with those size limitations, Jim Boylen's Bulls still finished with the 14th best defense (up from 25 last year.) However, the lack of size on the wings helped contribute to the Bulls' problems on the glass. They finished 30th (out of 30 teams) in total defensive rebounds, and 28th in rebounding differential (-3.6 per game). Using rebounding totals isn't always the best metric to use because bad teams miss more shots (and thus allow their opponents more rebounds). However, if you dig deeper, the numbers still aren't pretty. The Bulls' grabbed 75.6% of their potential defensive rebounds -- 5th worst in the league. Overall, they grabbed 47.9% of all potential rebounds -- 2nd worst in the league. "Rebounds" may be not be an en vogue stat in general, but it's a weakness that still hurt the team at the margins. When you're a mid-level team, those extra few possessions per game could mean the difference between a win and a loss. The good news? Porter will likely be back and healthy next season. The bad news? He's not cheap. He'll almost certainly pick up his oversized $28M player option. In another circumstance, he may try to rip it up and renegotiate a long-term deal with the Bulls or another team instead, but the murkiness around the cap and around his health makes that too difficult to imagine. Barring a trade, he'll be back with the Bulls next year, and will help the team win a few more games. PART THREE: Misusing their offensive weapons The Chicago Bulls are a young team, built around young stars like Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen. Both LaVine and Markkanen have some limitations overall, but they're both gifted offensive players. So given that, how is it that the team only finished 27th in offensive efficiency? In terms of the national media, a lot of the blame tends to fall on Zach LaVine. After some inefficient play early on in his career, the narrative has stuck that LaVine is an "empty calorie" or "volume" scorer. However, the results on the court don't really justify that anymore. Sure, LaVine shoots a lot, but he doesn't take as many bad shots as you may expect. He takes 8.1 threes per game (and makes an above-average 38%). He takes 5.6 free throw attempts per game (making 82% for his career.) Overall, that's a winning formula. LaVine's efficiency and true shooting is above league-average, no small feat for a player averaging 25.5 points per game this year. You'd like to see him hammer his way to the line even more, but he's not the problem for this team (offensively.) Meanwhile, Markkanen has some work to do. For a 7-footer, he's a gifted shooter. He shot 42.3% from three in college (and even flirted with 50% early in the season.) He carried that success over to the NBA for his first two years, netting over 36% from three each year. His results at the free throw line (84% then 87% as a second-year player) illustrated his potential to keep improving from there. 7-footers tend to get labeled as "stretch bigs" if they can get anywhere over 30% from three; Markkanen has the potential to get closer to 40%. However, that leap didn't happen in Year 3. Markkanen sagged to 34.4% from three, and "only" 82.4% from the free-throw line. But those percentages aren't what bothers me. Percentages will go up and down over smaller sample sizes like that. What's more concerning is how Markkanen's role shrunk offensively. After averaging 15.3 field goal attempts last season, he slipped down to 11.8 attempts this season per game. Even if you account for a few less minutes, he dropped from 17 FGA to 14 FGA in terms of "per 36" numbers. As mentioned, Markkanen is an offensive player. He's a shooter. I'm no coaching genius (and neither is Jim Boylen apparently), but I'd encourage a shooter to SHOOT. Because if Markkanen isn't a focal point of your offensive attack, then he's not doing much good for your team. He's not a good defender -- he's not a good rebounder. This is like the Justice League sending Aquaman off to the find evil aliens in the desert; we're misusing his talents here, people. Practically speaking, the next Bulls' coach needs to rethink the approach with Markkanen. Personally, I believe he has more in the tank offensively than he's been allowed to show so far. Maybe he's not Dirk Nowtizki, but he's still an extraordinary talent as a shooter for his size; I'd make a point of funneling him the ball. And if the problem is that he's getting marginalized by ball-dominant LaVine, then Markkanen should come off the bench as a 6th man scorer instead. He needs to be an offensive priority whenever he's in the game. And consequently, a better offensive philosophy and system needs to be installed in order to allow that to happen. PART FOUR: Natural growing pains When the Chicago Bulls' playoff chances slipped away, Jim Boylen and the front office finally unleashed their rookie, Coby White. White took advantage of that greenlight and turned up the gas as a scorer. He'll end the season with a modest 13.2 points per game, but that undersells his impact as a scorer. Per 36 minutes, he averaged 18.5 points per game. That trended upwards over the course of the season as well. White averaged over 20 points per game in February and March (albeit over a limited 14 game size.) If White can do that as a 20-year-old rookie, then it's fair to suggest that he could be routinely scoring over 20 PPG in his prime. While Coby White has some obvious virtues -- highlighted by his quickness and his cool hair -- there are some natural concerns and growing pains that he showed. He scored, but he didn't necessarily do that with efficiency. He shot only 39.4% from the field, and netted only a 50.6 true shooting percentage that's well below the league average. Defensively, White also struggled. Playing "up" at SG for 71% of his minutes (and even at SF for 17%!), White's limited size and limited experience showed. ESPN's real/plus minus metric graded him as -1.9 impact per 100 possessions. If you wanted to count White as a point guard, that would rank 89th best (out of 94 qualifiers.) If you envision him as a shooting guard, that would rank 134th (out of 137 qualifiers.) That debate -- is Coby White a point guard or shooting guard? -- is an important one. Sure, we're in an era of "position-less" basketball to some extent, but players still have certain roles offensively and certain assignments defensively. White's limited size and length (6'5" wingspan) projects best as a point guard. However, he's more of a scorer than a natural distributor. He only averaged 3.8 assists per 36 minutes this season, not far removed from the 5.2 assists per 36 minutes he averaged back in college at UNC. His playmaking can improve, but he's more of an attack dog by nature. This combination of strengths and weaknesses makes you wonder about the long-term fit next to Zach LaVine. If the Bulls' long-term plan is to play White at SG and LaVine at SF, then they're always going to be behind the eight-ball in terms of length and rebounding (especially with Lauri Markkanen at the 4.) If their plan is to start White as a point guard, then they're going to have to rely on LaVine to be more of a lead facilitator, or on the entire team to adopt more of a ball-moving offense 1-5. Most realistically, White projects best as a super-scorer off the bench, a la Lou Williams. To excel in that role, he'll need to continue to draw more free throws (he was at only 2.0 FTA per game as a rookie), but the potential is there to improve his shot selection and become a big-time scorer. Staggering White and LaVine would also allow them to be aggressive as scorers without stepping on each other's toes. PART FIVE: Done with Dunn? The other reason that it'll be important for the new Bulls' coach and front office to devise a long-term plan for Coby White is because it will affect other decisions on the roster. Among them: the fate of Kris Dunn. Like Coby White, Dunn has some extreme strengths and weaknesses -- they just happen to be in opposite order. He EXCELS defensively. He has a big frame (6'9" wingspan) and natural instincts on that end. He nabbed 2.0 steals this season in only 24.9 minutes of action. A lot of times, "steals" can be misleading because they amount to gambling. For Dunn, it's more reflective of his actual talent. He has extremely quick hands; he could have made a lot of money as a gunslinger back in the Old West. In some ways, he reminds you of Andre Iguodala on the ball defensively, combining length, strength, and savvy. The rest of Dunn's game is a mixed bag. He's not a bad distributor (averaging 6.0 assists in both 2017-18 and 2018-19), but he's a poor shooter. He's also had injury issues flare up over the course of his career. As mentioned, he's already 26 years old, so it's unrealistic to expect him to become a wholly different player in the next few years. With Kris Dunn, you mostly know what you're getting to get. So the question is: do you want it or not? The Bulls will have to make that choice this offseason, as Dunn enters his (restricted) free agency. There's a chance that COVID will infect the cap and allow them to retain him on his one-year qualified offer of $7M. Alternatively, there's a chance that another team will swoop him and sign him to an offer sheet. He'd make some sense for a team like the Detroit Pistons, who could invest in him as an heir apparent to Derrick Rose at PG. If a team like that offers Dunn a deal in the 3 year, $8-10M per year range, will the Bulls match it? TBD. Again, a lot depends on their views regarding Coby White. If they envision White as a future starter at PG, then there's less of a need for Kris Dunn. The Bulls would be able to start White at PG as soon as next year, with Tomas Satoransky as a combo guard off the bench and Ryan Arcidiacono serving as a third point guard and insurance policy. If the team envisions Coby White as a SG (or combo guard off the bench) then there's more of a need for Kris Dunn to platoon with Satoransky as a lead guard. This game of musical chairs may be getting more crowded, because there's also another element at play: yet-another lottery pick. PART SIX: Drafting some Help Currently, the Chicago Bulls are slated in the # 7 position in terms of the NBA Draft order. They have a 9% chance of moving up to # 1, and a 32% chance of moving into the top 4. If they can make that leap, then that would mean adding another potential star to the fold. It's not a strong draft by any stretch, but SG Anthony Edwards (Georgia) and C James Wiseman (Memphis) have the potential to be good starters. If they can land someone like that, you ignore "fit", take the potential stud, and work out the rest later. More likely, the Bulls will be picking in that 7-8 range. That's still a good pick, of course, but not one that should cause you to throw the baby out with the bath water and ignore the composition and needs of your team. Again, this is why the "Do the Bulls need a PG?" question becomes so critical. This is a poor draft, but it's strongest in terms of its point guard depth. According to ESPN's draft experts, 5 of the top 13 prospects are point guards (LaMelo Ball, Tyrese Haliburton, Killian Hayes, R.J. Hampton, Cole Anthony). A few of those -- namely Hayes and Anthony -- are "pure" point guards who don't have enough size to switch around and play minutes at the 2. Among the crop that's likely to be available around pick 7, here are some potential fits. PG TYRESE HALIBURTON, IOWA STATE (# 8 on espn). Haliburton is one of the easiest "fits" for the Bulls and for basically every team, because he offers a versatile set of skills. He's technically a point guard (averaging 15.2 points and 6.5 assists last year) and can capably fill that role. Better still, he can be effectively off the ball. His three-point shot looks a little wonky, but he converts it well, hitting 42.6% of his threes in college. Defensively he's got good size (6'5" with a 6'10" wingspan) and instincts (2.5 steals, 1.3 fouls last year). In a sense, Haliburton can be a "3 + D" point guard that plays alongside a ball-dominant player, be it Zach LaVine or Coby White. If the team drafts him, you figure it'd be with the intention of using him as an upgrade on Dunn (slightly worse defense but better offense.) SG DEVIN VASSELL, FLORIDA STATE (# 16 on espn). Like Haliburton, Devin Vassell is another player who could fit well on virtually every team because of his 3+D potential. He's hit 41.7% of his threes in his two years at FSU with a good-looking form that's aided by good size for his position and a higher release than Haliburton. Right now, Vassell is listed around 6'6" with an estimated 6'10" wingspan, but he looks bigger than that to my eye. That's crucial because it would allow him to play both SG and SF and draw some different assignments defensively. I also like Vassell's personality off the court; he seems like a good kid that should continue to improve. Like Haliburton, Vassell is the type of player that should easily into a lineup with LaVine and/or White. SF DENI AVDIJA, ISRAEL (# 5 on espn). I'm not going to pretend to have as much confidence in my projection of Avdija, who's played in the international youth circuit and has been a rising star with Maccabi Tel Aviv. Based on what I do know, he could be an intriguing boom/bust pick around # 7. He's a big forward (6'9") who can convert inside, and better yet, has a real knack for playmaking. The Bulls' young stars -- Zach LaVine, Coby White, Lauri Markkanen -- are all better scorers than passers right now, so perhaps Avdija can operate as a de facto point forward and help the offense click into place. Right now, his shooting results have been shaky though, so he's not someone you can just throw out there and tell to stand in the corner as a 3+D option. If you take him, you need an actual plan to highlight his skill set. The Bulls' top exec Arturas Karnisovas is from Lithuania originally, so you presume that he'd have no qualms about selecting an European like Avdija (whose dad is Serbian) if need be. Of course, that logic didn't quite work out for Sacramento GM Vlade Divac and Luka Doncic. SHAKIER FITS. Alternatively, there are some players in the Bulls' draft range that may not be ideal fits. As mentioned, Killian Hayes and Cole Anthony are more of traditional ball-dominant point guards; I don't love the idea of that next to Coby White and Zach LaVine. I'd also be wary of Dayton's PF Obi Toppin. Toppin has strong scoring potential with a decent shot and good athleticism inside. That said, he's a little stiff in the hips defensively, and may duplicate Lauri Markkanen in that regard. PART SEVEN: Buh-Buh Boylen One of the Chicago Bulls' biggest decisions will be among their first. Technically, the new front office has not fired coach Jim Boylen yet, but it appears that his clock is ticking on that decision. It's only a matter of time. Candidly, Boylen gets too harsh of a rap from national media and fans. He's not a complete asshat. He's had success as a defensive assistant in the past, and did help the Bulls' defense improve some over the past few years. He'd be a fine assistant coach somewhere in that limited capacity. However, he does seem woefully out of his depth as a head coach. He's never had success in that role before, and he didn't have any now. His offensive system is virtually nonexistent, and his attitude is boarish. Usually those "Drill Sergeant" coaches get a short-term year or two of improvement from a young team, but he couldn't even do that. We need to pull him out of there before there's a full-on Full Metal Jacket rebellion here. Looking ahead, the Bulls need to pick a coach that can get the team back on track, especially in terms of their offensive philosophy. That said, the Bulls have to be careful not to "zigzag" too much in their coaching hires. They went from Tom Thibodeau (the gruff, defensive-heavy coach) to the Anti-Thibodeau in Fred Hoiberg (likable, low-key former player), and then jumped on the seesaw again with the complete opposite in Boylen. There's always a tendency to go for the opposite of your last coach, but presumably there's a happy medium in between these two poles. Goldilocks was happy to find something "just right," so Karnisovas should be as well. According to media reports, Ime Udoka is a top candidate, and would be a natural fit. While Udoka doesn't have head coaching experience yet, he's about as "ready" as any first-time coach would be. He's a former player, and a long-time assistant under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio (and now has worked the last year in Philadelphia.) The Spurs' philosophy is an ideal template for the Bulls to use, both in terms of their offensive ball movement and their locker room culture. I'd also recommend Kenny Atkinson as a viable candidate. He didn't mesh with the new superstars in Brooklyn, but he'd done a great job prior to that in terms of rebuilding a broken Brooklyn team. He specializes in pace and space offense, and player development. That sounds ideal for this team right now. There are a few other candidates out there that would be worth interviews (Chris Finch, Wes Unseld Jr., Chris Fleming, Nate Tibbetts, Alex Jensen, Dave Joerger, etc) but Udoka and Atkinson represent a very solid top two. Hiring either of them would be a great first step for this new administration. TL;DR The Chicago Bulls' "breakout" didn't happen; instead, they broke down. However, the foundation isn't bad here. If the new front office wants to push for the playoffs next year (manifested by keeping Otto Porter and continuing to play veterans) then it's not unrealistic that they can get up to 35-40 wins with better health and a better offensive system. Conversely, the team may decide they're further away than that, and take a step back to collect their bearings.
Hey all - here's a hand I feel that I played incorrectly, but I can't really work out why I feel that way. CO (CO): 74.85 BBBTN (BTN): 67.85 BBSB (SB): 73.85 BBHero (BB): 74.85 BBUTG (UTG): 74.85 BBUTG+1 (UTG+1): 74.85 BBMP (MP): 74.85 BBMP+1 (MP+1): 84.2 BBMP+2 (MP+2): 74.85 BB 9 players post ante of 0.15 BB, SB posts SB 0.5 BB, Hero posts BB 1 BB **Dealt to Hero:**Qs Qc fold, UTG+1 raises to 3 BB, fold, MP+1 calls 3 BB, fold, CO calls 3 BB, fold, fold, Hero raises to 13 BB, fold, fold, CO calls 10 BB Flop (33.85 BB, 2 players):Ah 5d 4hHero bets 10 BB, CO calls 10 BB Turn (53.85 BB, 2 players):JsHero checks, CO checks River (53.85 BB, 2 players):4cHero bets 17 BB, fold Hero wins 53.85 BB My own analysis: Pre-flop - I feel like this is a pretty standard move. Fishy table, squeeze, get heads up against worse hands. Flop - I get a bit lost on these textures with a strong hand against fishy players. My hand is strong against the fishy range but I'm unsure about whether or not to c-bet and what it achieves. I sense that if he has an A he calls, otherwise he folds, so I'm not betting for value. But now that I look back I realize he may have some gutshots, open enders, and flush draws which he can call a c-bet with. If he has non-A broadways I guess he's scared of the A and folds them a lot. Overall there's probably enough junky calls and folds to justify this bet. Turn - Based on that analysis of the flop, this doesn't really change much, so I should probably bet for value assuming he continues chasing something or occasionally hits a pair with KJ QJ, more often than calling with Ax. River - I'm unhappy with the bet sizing here but can't figure out what it should be. I see a safeish river so I bet instinctively, and maybe irrationally fear an A so bet a small amount. I guess I hadn't thought clearly enough about what I wanted to get value from. The occasional Jx, TT, 99 etc? Assuming the passive nature of the fish, I can probably expect an inelastic calling range, so ramp it up to 3/4 size at the least if he's really calling with those hands? I'm not sure I can rely on this passive player to bluff the river enough to justify checking, so I think going for value makes sense. However.. my main concern is that I sense there are more combos that I lose to when he calls, than combos that I beat. Combos I beat (?): KJ, QJ, JT - 48 combos. Combos I lose to (?): JJ, 55, AQo, AJ, AT, 54s, 43s - around 60 combos, being conservative by ignoring weaker Ax combos. That leaves my value bet as a -EV decision, based on the method used in the Grinder's Manual, whose section on calculating EV of value bets I've just read. Does this mean it is simply a bad value bet and I should check, hoping for a bet from my passive opponent? Or should I also take into account fold equity when calculating the EV of this value bet? If so, how would I do that?
Hey everyone! I've been a long-time viewer of this subreddit and am thankful to you all for some awesome ideas. I wanted to share some of the tavern games that I have created (and stolen) that have been the most fun for my groups to play. All of these have been tested with great success, but I am definitely open if you have any suggestions. Here is a collection of 14 of my favorite tavern games to try with your party! Goblin's Eye
A game of darts
Each player puts an ante into the pot and DM matches
Players take turns rolling 1d20 and 1d6 both at once, three times. The d20 determines what number they hit. The d6 determines where on that number they hit. For example, a 1 is the outer ring (double), a 3 is the inner ring (triple), while a 6 is the bull's eye (50). First player to 301 wins the pot.
A game of blackjack
Each player puts an ante into the pot and DM matches
Each player has access to the following dice: d20, d12, d10, d8, d6, and d4
You pick which dice to roll and your objective is to get as close as you can to totaling 21 without going over. Once you roll a die, place it off to the side and it contributes to your total—you cannot use that die again this round. Players take turns rolling TWO dice of their choice, then continue taking turns rolling ONE die of their choice until everyone holds or busts.
Closest to 21 without going over wins the pot.
A simple game of one-shot slots
Costs 5gp to play
Players choose which slot machine to play on. The more difficult the chance of winning, the better the jackpot.
You roll three of the same dice at the same time. If all the numbers match, you win. It’s that simple!
3d4 = 1/16 chance, 80gp
3d6 = 1/36 chance, 180gp
3d8 = 1/64 chance, 320gp
3d10 = 1/100 chance, 500gp
3d12 = 1/144 chance, 720gp
3d20 = 1/400 chance, 2000gp
An intermediate game of progressive slots
Costs 2gp to play
You roll dice one at a time starting with the d4. If you roll a 3 or below, you can stop and collect your winnings or move on to the d6. If you roll a 3 or below on the d6, then you can stop and collect your winnings or move on to the d8, and so on.
The winnings get higher and higher as you go up, but your chances of winning also get harder. If at any time you roll a 4 or above you have to start over and play again.
The d4 gives you 2gp, the d6 gives you 5gp, the d8 gives you 20gp, the d10 gives you 100gp, the d12 gives you 500gp, and the d20 gives you the jackpot of 2000gp.
A simple dice game
Each player puts an ante into the pot and DM matches
Players take turns rolling 5d6. All numbers on the die are face value except for 3's which are worth 0. Lowest score wins the pot.
Dead Eye Dice
An intermediate dice game
Each player puts an ante into the pot and DM matches
Each player starts their hand with a d20, d12, d10, d8, d6, and d4. Each player rolls all of them to start. Any time you roll a 1 on any die you need to discard your “best” die (d20, then d12, etc.). If you get more than one 1 then you discard that many dice starting from the “best” die. Last person with dice remaining in their hand wins the pot.
Crown & Anchor
A simple betting game
Players can put any amount of gold on a grid numbered 1 through 6. They then roll 3d6 one time.
If 1 die matches their bet number, they win 1X the original bet. If 2 dice match their bet number, they win 2X the original bet. If 3 dice match their bet number, they win 3X the original bet. If no die match their bet number, they lose the original bet.
A game of Texas Hold’em
Each player puts an ante into the pot and DM matches
You pick two different dice and roll in secret from one another. At this time, players place their initial bets or fold. House rolls a d6, d8, and d10 one at a time. Raises and folds may occur after each roll.
The player with the best hand according to the below rankings wins the pot.
Five of a kind
Four of a kind
Full house (three of one, two of another)
Straight (five in a row)
Three of a kind
Two pair (two of one, two of another)
An intermediate betting game
Players can put any amount of gold on any of the five critters
There is a racetrack that is 13 spaces long with the 14th space being the finish line. Each player and DM can take control of a critter (to make it easier) and rolls simultaneously for all five critters on each turn.
Fox= 2d4 (average speed of 5, max of 8)
1/1= 50% chance
Dog= d4+2 (average of 4.5, max of 6)
4/1= 20% chance
Rat= d8-1 (average of 3.5, max of 7)
11/2= 15% chance
Pig= d12/2 rounded up (average of 3.5, max of 6)
12/1= 7.5% chance
Badger= d6 (average of 3.5, max of 6)
12/1= 7.5% chance
If two critters reach the finish line on the same turn, then the one who had more movement remaining wins. If two critters reach the finish line with the same amount of movement remaining, then they roll off to determine the winner.
Betting odds coordinate with how likely a critter is going to win. For every value B that you bet, you will win A plus the return of your stake.
After a few races, the animal trainers will put their animals in their cages to rest for the day.
A game of strategy
Each player puts an ante into the pot and DM matches
Everyone rolls a d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and d20 in secret.
The higher the number the better. Each player has one reroll that they can (don’t have to) use anytime in the match where they reroll ALL of their remaining dice (even the good numbers).
Each round all players take one die they rolled and move it to the middle of the table with their hand covering it. All players reveal and the highest number wins the round. A tie is won by the smaller sided die. A still tie is resolved by rerolling those dice. This is done until all six dice are used up and the person with the most points wins the pot.
Wheel of Misfortune
A game of roulette
Players can put any amount of gold in any of the following locations or a combination of the following locations on the roulette table:
Odd or even (2:1 chance)
Corner bet (5:1 chance)
Split bet (10:1 chance)
Straight up (20:1 chance)
For every value B that you bet, you will win A.
An intermediate game of bluffing
Each player puts an ante into the pot and DM matches
Each player starts with five d6 and one cup, which is used to conceal rolls from all other players. Begin by rolling one die to determine who goes first.
After looking at the numbers they’ve rolled, the first player offers an opening bid to the group. For example, if you have two 2s under your cup, you could start there—or you could predict, with some mathematical certainty, that there are a total of “three 2s” among all the dice on the table, including your own. The next player must then bid either a higher total amount of dice “four 2s” or keep the same amount but move to a higher number “three 3s”, bluffing as needed.
If you think a competitor is offering up an unlikely bid, call them out. All players must then lift their cups to reveal their respective rolls. If the bid in question cannot be calculated with the dice displayed, the bidder must forfeit one die. The same punishment applies to the accuser, however, if the bid in question can be made from the existing dice. Play continues until only one person has dice remaining, who wins the pot.
Need to succeed ability check with DC 10 for 2 daggers, DC 15 for 3 daggers, and DC 20 for 4 daggers with bets on how long the juggler can keep going. Failed throws cause 1d6 non-lethal damage.
Beating your opponent in a STR ability check moves your arm one step closer to victory. You need three steps to knock their arm on the table. Rolling a natural 20 counts as two steps.
I hope you have fun playing these tavern games with your groups, and let me know how they work in your sessions! Game on.
More Tales From 2+2: A Very Controversial $70k prop bet
I enjoyed writing up and seeing positive feedback from this post so I decided to write up about an interesting prop bet that came from the 2+2 poker forums that I feel went under the radar. It's way longer than I thought it would be but this story has it all: large amounts of money being bet, furious grinding, 25 buy in swings, community outrage and Doug Polk.
The modern cash game grinder may be surprised to hear that there used to be a Sharkscope style tracking website for online cash games, it was called PokerTableRatings or PTR. It tracked hands fairly accurately. Today, it doesn’t exist and has been shut down for years but it was a valuable resource for grinders and having one browser open to check out opponents was useful. PTR showed your graph and win rates at different stakes, it also had an achievement system. Some achievements were serious like ‘1 Million Dollars In Profit’ and some were less serious like ‘Check Raise 3 Times In A Hand’. One coveted achievement given by PTR was the ‘Ultimate Grinder’. This was given to the most profitable player each month at each stake, this was all tracked on the Ultimate Grinder Leaderboard. So for example: if you are the top of the leaderboard for 50NL in December 2008, you will receive the ‘Ultimate Grinder December 50nl 2008’ badge on your PTR profile.
The year is 2010. Johnathon Duhamel has won the WSOP Main Event. Poker, especially online poker is still booming. The grinders are plentiful. The fish are more plentiful. Posts flow on 2+2 like wine. Enter Silent_0ne. He puts out a proposition bet on BBV (Beats, Brags and Variance: a subforum of 2+2 which is the precursor to Poker’s weekly BBV thread). Back in the golden days of online poker and 2+2 it was common for large prop bets to be made on BBV. Silent_0ne’s prop bet is he will be the ultimate grinder for December 2010 at 100nl. No easy feat, the previous months' ultimate grinders had won between $12k-18k and Silent_0ne claimed to have never played more than 10 tables or ever played on Pokerstars. The odds were set at 6:1 odds in Silent’s_0ne’s favour. Jalexand42 was selected to be the escrow and judge of this prop bet, so he will be the middleman for the money and he will arbitrate any disputes. The rules were set down covered many different situations. The judge was confident of this:
Jalexand42: Just a quick note about the judging... I'm optimistic there won't be any controversy in this bet the way the rules have been defined. (#83)
He would turn out to be so wrong. Many 2+2 posters weighed their opinions in and started to place bets:
Chicago Joey (Joey Ingram): damn that is going to be interesting for a bunch of reasons(#46) Canoodles: If I was OP, I wouldn't take this for less than 100-1. (#18) Chinz: Settling for 6-1 and doing it on December when lots of SNE chasers are playing really high volume... You don't seem to like money. (#218)
Nearly all the posters doubted Silent_0ne but he seemed confident and Jalexand42 started collecting money. By the 28th November, with 3 days to go until the challenge begins the bets were placed and finalized, 14 people put up between $600-$3k. Silent_0ne stood to gain $67,500 or lose $11,250 from the bet alone. In just a few days he would put himself at the mercy of variance and would dedicate himself to destroying 100nl. If he overcomes this challenging month, he stood to win a significant amount of money.
December the first rolled in and Silent_0ne starting playing. It was a rocky start for him, he finished day two down more than $2k and received comments from 2+2 posters like:
ChicagoJoey [Joey Ingram]: lol trainwreck (#392) MinSixBet: are you still taking action? (#399)
But some posters really believed in him and were rooting hard:
Eaglesfan1: Forget about the leaderboard and focus on your game and playing ur best. (#406)
However things got worse and Silent_one seemed to be losing hope, on day 4 he posted this:
Silent_0ne: just got owned bad rly bad "hero call" for big pot set of 8s < set of As KK < AK bad river bluff shove set of 6s < str 10s < Js AK < AA AK on AK6 board < 66 AA < 99 on 974 board ^ all greater than 200 big blind pots could have prevented half of those if I didnt suck so much (#410)
Day 5 and Silent_0ne was doing better but was down a few buy ins, still far behind his target. Remember, he needs to be number one in profit in the massive 2010 pool of 100nl Pokerstars players. He posted this astonishing hand: Poker Stars $0.50/$1 No Limit Hold'em $0.20 Ante - 9 players
Silent_0ne: $568.55 UTG+1: $444.30 UTG+2: $519.10 MP1: $226.75 Hero (MP2): $257.70 CO: $250.00 BTN: $100.00 SB: $257.70 BB: $120.90 Pre Flop: ($3.30) Silent_0ne is MP2 with 9h9c Silent_0ne raises to $4.80, UTG+1 raises to $18.60, 1 fold, MP1 calls $18.60, 5 folds, Silent_0ne calls $13.80 Flop: ($59.10) 2h8s5s(3 players) Silent_0ne checks, UTG+1 bets $32, MP1 folds, Silent_0ne raises to $92, UTG+1 calls $60 Turn: ($243.10) Kc (2 players) Silent_0ne checks, UTG+1 checks River: ($243.10) 4s (2 players) Silent_0ne bets $127, UTG+1 raises to $333.50 all in, Silent_0ne calls $206.50 Final Pot: $910.10 Silent_0ne shows 9h9c (a pair of Nines) UTG+1 shows 9dJc (high card King) Silent_0ne wins $907.10
As you can see, 2010 was truly an amazing place for online poker. Silent_0ne was bringing out his inner grinder and was playing 16 hour sessions and seeing huge swings in the first week. Day 7 and he posted some hands that shocked the community and his growing fan base:
DPred123: wtf at those HHs. (#520) Transa: LoLolLololooLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL (#521)
Here are two of the hands he posted:
Poker Stars $0.50/$1 No Limit Hold'em $0.20 Ante - 9 players Pre Flop: ($3.30) MP1: $365.20 Hero (CO): $342.35 Silent_0ne is CO with 7s7d 3 folds, MP1 raises to $4, 1 fold, Silent_0ne raises to $15.50, 3 folds, MP1 raises to $41.90, Silent_0ne raises to $342.15 all in, MP1 calls $300.25 Flop: ($687.60) ThKc6s(2 players - 1 is all in) Turn: ($687.60) Ts (2 players - 1 is all in) River: ($687.60) 2h (2 players - 1 is all in) Final Pot: $687.60 MP1 shows AcAh (two pair, Aces and Tens)
Poker Stars $0.50/$1 No Limit Hold'em $0.20 Ante - 3 players BTN: $656.85 Silent_0ne(SB): $288.00 BB: $345.00 Pre Flop: ($2.10) Silent_0ne is SB with 4d4h BTN raises to $3, Silent_0ne raises to $12, 1 fold, BTN calls $9 Flop: ($25.60) 3h6d5s(2 players) Silent_0ne checks, BTN bets $18, Silent_0ne raises to $275.80 all in, BTN calls $257.80 Turn: ($577.20) Js (2 players - 1 is all in) River: ($577.20) 9c (2 players - 1 is all in) Final Pot: $577.20 BTN shows 3d5d (two pair, Fives and Threes) Hero Silent_0ne4h4h (a pair of Fours) BTN wins $576.20
Silent_0ne: barely ate anything last few days. i just get up and play, dont prepare anything. im playing right now btw. down around 2700$ for the month. im really dumb for spewing off 3k+ just cause i was tilted/ran bad, and snapped. another problem that people overlook is the extra attention i get at the tables for doing this prop bet. lots of regs can exploit my plays and then all tend to focus on owning me. (#554)
Silent_0ne had started the month on a $3k downswing, then won $2.5k before going on another $3k downswing in just one week. He must have felt desperate as after an hour and a half Silent_0ne had an idea and events took a shocking turn:
Silent_0ne: any interested if i give up 100nl and start tomorrow on day 7 at 50nl to try and get the badge there for 6 to 1. i wanna gamble and break even on the month, so im willing to put up 5k on this if any1 is interested? (#570)
This new bet must have seemed too good to be true. At this point he had been relentlessly grinding 100nl for a week, was losing badly, he was tilting, was likely playing more tables than he can handle and he’s a week behind getting to the top of the 50nl leaderboard. The bets started to pour in and within an hour he had 7 people place action. The community commented:
Absurd: This is adsurd (#601) jalexand42: Seriously, take a day to cool off. (#599) King Fish: I'd be interested but highly advise you to reconsider this and maybe take an hour and step back. Edit: will take $1800 to your $300 assuming same judge and escrow. (#574) loK2thabrain: I call dibs on first bet when he moves down to win the 25nl badge. (#700)
Everyone on the thread couldn’t believe what they reading, However, Silent_0ne seemed to accept that the 100nl bet was dead and he wasn’t getting the $67k prop bet win. He was willing to pay the $11k out and enter a new prop bet. Now, being the Ultimate Grinder at 50nl is his goal. Again, the bets were substantial and he had 8:1 odds in his favour for being the Ultimate Grinder for December at 50nl. The same day he made the new bet, he started at 50nl and was off.
The New Bet
Enter Fees. Fees is the 2+2 username of Ryan Fee (Currently on Team Upswing), at this point he was known for being a fearsome 2000nl grinder and writing Ryan Fee’s 6 max guide, which he distributed for free. In a world where succinct and good poker strategy was hard to come by, this was a valuable guide for many players. He takes interest in the thread on the 7th of December:
Fees i'll take all the action, PM me (#746)
Fees booked action late and the details of this booking were not listed in the thread. The next day, Fees acts a question about the rules:
Fees: what if kerpowski or jeffmet wins the ugl and he gets second? (#878)
Kerpowski and Jeffmet are players who took action against Silent_0ne. They are also 50/100nl grinders. The case of fellow grinders taking action was covered in the rules. A poster quotes the rules and informs Fees that they have to be existing 50nl/100nl grinders. Fees then asks the following question:
Fees: i think that implies at the same tables as him, but what if they just play completely different games and just win the ugl?
Remember these probing questions, they’ll become relevant later. By the 10th of December things looked tough for Silent_0ne, the player of the top of the 50nl leaderboard was already at $2.5k profit (50 buy ins). Silent_0ne was up $1.1k and estimated he was only 2-3 days behind pace. By the 12th of December he was still playing brutally long sessions:
Silent_0ne: just finished 11 hour session, too tired to post anything, ill go to bed for a couple hours then post graphs/hands when i wake up. was tilted throughout entire session, played 12k hands...eyes burn...ran bad for once (6 buyins below ev)
He also posted eight hands that looked pretty spewy, here is one of them:
Poker Stars $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em $0.10 Ante - 5 players BB: $50.00 UTG: $103.40 CO: $137.65 BTN: $133.00 Silent_0ne (SB): $144.60 Pre Flop: ($1.25) Hero is SB with AdQh 1 fold, CO raises to $1.50, BTN calls $1.50, Silent_0ne calls $1.25, BB calls $1 Flop: ($6.50) 6c6d6s(4 players) Silent_0ne checks, BB checks, CO bets $4, BTN folds, Silent_0ne raises to $14.75, BB folds, CO calls $10.75 Turn: ($36.00) 8h (2 players) Silent_0ne bets $25.75, CO calls $25.75 River: ($87.50) 4d (2 players) Silent_0ne bets $102.50 all in, CO calls $95.55 all in Final Pot: $278.60 CO shows JdJc (a full house, Sixes full of Jacks) Silent_0ne shows AdQh (three of a kind, Sixes) CO wins $276.60
Even people taking action against him gave him advice:
King Fish: I am speechless … It's NL50. Stop trying to get so fancy. (#1038)
But then, Silent_0ne has an explosive session and is up an incredible $2800 in one day, that’s 56 buy ins! The posters go wild as he moves into 3rd place on the 50nl Ultimate Grinder leaderboard:
vaike $3,142, 19.38 Hands BB/100
zzn1980 $2,833, 2.46 Hands BB/100
Silent_0ne69 $2,634, 5.19 Hands B/100
For the first time people are starting to believe that he can do this. Fast forward to the next day, December 13th and with another miraculous winning session he reaches number one on the leaderboard. He has $3.4k profit at 50nl and number two is close behind with $3.1k, if he can maintain his win rate of 6b/100 hands then he should have a very real chance of making an incredible comeback. 14th December. Fees posts:
Fees: still taking action, I want 2:1
Despite Silent_0ne being top of the leaderboard when he posted this and Fees already buying action Fees seemed willing to take 2:1 in Silent_0ne’s favour. Soon after, a poster in the thread reveals that:
tightmaniac: fees is 4th
It is revealed that Fees who is normally a 2000nl player is playing 50nl HU and is 4th on the leaderboard. HU 50nl still counts towards the 50nl leaderboard. With the higher rate of hands of HU, bigger winrates of HU and Fees' skill, it could mean he would soon reach the top of the leaderboard. 10 minutes after TightManic’s post Fees lowers his odds:
Fees: Looking to take action on this at 1:1 (#1180)
The judge weighs in:
Jalexand42: If fees' didn't disclose this to whoever has his action, it's obviously pretty questionable, although that probably should have been asked. As far as the prop bet tho, I specifically asked Silent whether HU players should be included/excluded and he said included. The rules clearly don't exclude some random player from dropping down and playing $50nl (or $100nl for the original bet). They DO clearly state that people who bet against Silent one as part of the prop bet are NOT allowed to interfere with the bet, but I don't have anything to do with whatever side action fees may have on this. I told kerpowski last night that I didn't want him to play HU to try to win the badge, since I felt like it was a gray area in the intent of the rules (since he obviously doesn't normally play those stakes). Kind of sucks for OP if this is going on, but I can't really change the rules after it's started since that would affect the people that bet against Silent. (#1196)
As of the 15 December Silent_0ne was still top of the board with $4.4k and most posters were expressing their displeasure if Fees were to continue playing 50nl. Silent_0ne drops this bombshell:
Silent_0ne: ‘2. Actions must be in accordance with the intent of having a fair prop bet. No actions (chip dumping, collusion, ghosting/coaching players on Silent_0ne's tables, etc) can be taken with the intent to affect the outcome of the prop bet. Violations will result in the violator's action being forfeited and may result in additional modification/extention to neutralize the interference.’ [Silent_0ne is quoting the rules here.] ‘The spirit of the bet is that OP is competing against players who 'really' play NL100, both ring and heads up.’ I know a friend of Fees and his friend said he was legit and everything. alittle after the bet started and action was full, fees approached me and my friend about taking additional action at 10 to 1. my friend and I took an additional 2.5k to his 25k and escrowed to wcgrider. the bet was under the assumption that the same rules as the 100nl bet were going to be used, and whatever the judge decides would be final. so given the quotes above, it is against the rules that someone betting against me should also be able to compete against me given that he does not regularly play at 50nl (he plays 6max 2knl and WON the UGL badge last month at that stake) also, im not allowed to play 50nl HU which is really fishy and easy to win the UGL badge at if you put in enough volume. regardless of if fees action is with Jalex or not, i think the same rules apply, because he is not a regular at the stakes and he accepted the same rules when making the bet with my friend and I going to eat something then start up a grind session, hopefully I continue to crush and run good, though my heart has sunk when I looked at fees in forth, and I feel ill and tilted (#1205)
Silent_0ne posted that he did a deal, off with main thread with 10 to 1 odds (Fees betting $25k to Silent_0ne’s $2.5k that Silent_0ne will win ultimate grinder 50nl) with Fees and that WCGRider (Doug Polk, currently of Upswing Poker and poker Youtube fame) is the escrow, not Jalexand42. Most posters now seem outraged:
King Fish: Wow what an angle shoot by Fees on this. This does help define the measure of what type of person he is that he is even attempting it. (#1207) Tumaterminator: sickest hustle ever. (#1210) kp1022: wait, doeboyfre$h is fees? he sat me in 50nl HU a few days ago FWIW after PTR'ing him , i asked why was he playing so low? he replied, "busto" (#1234)
Some of the posters were trying to play Fees at the 50nl in attempt to slow down his winning streak and tell Fees that he is breaking the rules. Silent_0ne expressed his displeasure and downed mental state:
Silent_0ne: this is horrible. im going to start my first grind right now. imo what fees is doing is against the rules and is unfair. i really hope i dont lose alot right now, but im in a pretty poor emotional state please whoever is decent, sit it up with fees and discouarge him to continue what hes doing. 2knl player won badge last month, makes big bet against me and decides to compete for 50nl badge against me... (#1267)
For the first time in a few days Fees posts:
Fees: Hey, Just to clear a few things up,
I haven't broken any rules, there isn't a rule that explicitly states that I cannot win the UGL.
I'm not trying to scam/do anything shady/etc, when I made the bet I posted in this thread asking if a bettor could win the UGL […] anyway I'm going to try and win the 50nl UGL this month... I haven't done anything wrong and there is nothing wrong with me going for it.
Then, an enflamed debate about the rules erupts, almost every poster is furious at Fees
Silent_0ne: had a conversation with WCGRider over the phone. the assumption was that jalex is the judge of this bet, and his word is final. WCGRider is simply just an escrow. fees and I agreed on the rules of the bet and having jalex of the judge. #1352
Then WCGRider (Doug Polk) posts for the first time:
WCGRider: Wanted to make a quick post here because i talked to colin earlier about this and i want to clear up a few things. First off, I was never told i was going to be an escrow. I literally woke up with colins [Silent_0ne] money in my account. I was never asked anything, I was never told anything, I just was sent the money and thats it. So now im being brought into this to make a decision, which i dont think really is fair. I haven't read any of this thread, I haven't read the rules. Also, fees has to be one of my best friends here in las vegas, and I want that to be clear before i give my opinion about this. I think its sort of unfair that i get put into this situation.
jalexand42 then posts his judgment in a lengthy post (#1526) but I believe this excerpt sums it up:
jalexand42: So, while it is not UNFAIR of fees to be playing $50nl, he has CLEARLY taken actions that will influence the outcome of the bet IF he wins the UGL for $50nl for December. Fees would clearly NOT be playing $50nl (and in fact is still playing his normal stakes) if he didn't have action on this bet. Fees also clearly understood this was a questionable area with regard to the rules based on his posts in this thread and he did not clarify it with the judge. He posts also indicate clearly that he felt he was subject to the rules. Therefore, I rule that Fees' standing on the UGL for December WILL BE IGNORED for purposes of determining this bet if he wins.
Many posters praise Jalexand42. But Jalexand42 does not have the money from the sidebet between Silent_0ne and Fees. WCGrider does. Silent_0ne gives his piece of mind and a quick poker update:
Silent_0ne: yes, i agree with this [Jalexand42's judgment]. also, fees can keep the 25k in the bet without any forfiet. im just really happy things worked out okay. however i probably should have read this before my session I just played. probably wouldnt have spewed as much at the endodays been my worst day since the start of the 50nl bet so far. gonna play 1 more session later tonight and going to be in alot better and focused mood (#1561)
Then, another bombshell drops, a friend of WCRrider’s reveals that Fees didn’t even escrow his money to Doug: theskillzdatklls: Afaik, Fees did not ship his $25k share to Doug, only Colin [Silent_0ne] sent his part. (#1669) 2+2 reacts:
Handbaggio: LOL wtf, fees hasn't escrowed his bet??? (#1676) rnb0sprnkles: LOL and when I thought the drama was starting to die down, the thread gets even crazier (#1698)
Jalexand42 has a conversation with WCGRider to reach an agreement and reports:
Jalexand42: Okay, so here's the summary of my conversation with WCGRider:
He is only holding Silent & the_most's action, $2,500.
He did talk to Fees. Fees told him he was going to talk to Colin [Silent_0ne] today and 'hopes to work out something reasonable'.
I asked what that means, he said he didn't feel like he could tell me, because he felt like what Fees told him was as a friend, but that it sounded fair in WCGRider's opinion.
WCGRider said he thought my decision making sounded reasonable.
WCGrider said that noone told him what to do, so he figured he was just holding on to Silent's money.
I told WCGrider I was willing for him to ship me the $2.5k now if he was feeling uncomfortable, he said he'd wait to see what Silent & Fees work out. ( #1703)
Back to actual poker and Silent_0ne reports a bad losing session on the 16th December citing all the ongoing drama:
Silent_0ne: 22 buyin downswing im playing really bad right now, and I really wish I didn't have to think about and deal with all these other problems.
The community are rooting really hard to him at this point and are all telling him to stay strong. Things start to get messy when Jalexand42 speaks with WCGRider and Fees and in a long post ( #1957) said that WCGRider protested his participation was unfair and Jalexand42 accused him of not of not already sending the $25k to Jalexand42. Fees also tried to offer Silent_0ne a $1k buy out saying it was ‘super generous’, it was refused. Silent_0ne states that the reason fees doesn't want his money escrowed by Jalexand42 is that he is afraid that his bet will be forfeited due to breaking the rules. WCGRider chimed in to defend himself (he also spoke about playing 50nl-100nl and having a rough year, which is interesting as he developed into the top HU player for a time and couldn’t get action, even at the highest stakes.) The 2+2 community then debate and lightly harass WCGRider and Fees to concede and send the money to Jalexand42. Fees finally agrees to a 50% buyout.
On the 17th of December and Silent_0ne slips to number 2 on the leaderboards.
vaike $3,835 ,17.44BB/100
Silent_0ne69 $3,523, 4.25BB/100
Silent_0ne then makes a post that changes everything:
Silent_0ne : Hello everyone firstly, I would like to say thank you so much to everyone who supported me throughout this bet. i cant stress how much it meant to me to see any post wishing me goodluck, or someone pming me given me some life lessons and more encouragement. ive been approached by the bettors on numerous occasions regarding a buyout. the original buyout deal offered was 33%. eventually 37% was offered, and then 44%, and finally I agreed on 50% of total wagers from all 6 bettors as their buyout. I am not really satisfied with a buyout, and I was not the one originally looking for the buyout. the bettors wanted it and I decided to see what they had to offer. what I wanted was time to spend with friends and family throughout the christmas break. With continuing this bet, I do have alot of confidence of accomplishing it, but at the expense of isolation through one of the most special times of each year. My family was mad at me when I tried explaining to them I probably wouldn't be able to particpate in any family events and have much if any celebration of christmas. my goal the next 14 days was to just grind it out 10 hours each day with breaks inbetween, and sleep. Instead I will be able to go back to my regular, stress free grinding, and shipping 50% of the total wagers after half the month as gone by. In the end, including both the 100nl and 50nl prop bets, I made a net of roughly +20k. The other two options would be risking a net of -20k or a net of +60k. I took the variance free route, and all the bettors did the same thing. None of us wanted to lose the bet obviously, so I think we worked out a fair resolution with this buyout. I have no hard feelings against fees or wcg rider. Perhaps a different scenerio would have occured if the recent issues did not occur, but thats in the past now and i'm looking forwards to a postive future. (#2511)
So, in the end all the parties involved reached a buyout agreement on the 50nl prop bet. Silent_0ne would stop playing the 50nl prop bet and would be up $20k. The community replies:
Ditch Digger: Silent, nice job. 50% is more than reasonable. (#2516) kelnel: gg on +20k, u rocked!! (#2520) shhhnake_eyes: I call this the most anticlimactic finish ever. (#2522)
Link to original thread. Note: Please note I’ve tried to be impartial in writing this. Please let me know publicly or privately if there are any errors or you feel I misrepresented something or someone. The quotes I’ve included don’t always show the full post made but I’ve included the post number in each quote so you can read it on 2+2 in full context. If you want to be fully informed you should read the whole 2+2 thread.
Wall Street Week Ahead for the trading week beginning March 2nd, 2020
Good Saturday morning to all of you here on stocks. I hope everyone on this sub made out pretty nicely in the market this past week, and is ready for the new trading week and month ahead. Here is everything you need to know to get you ready for the trading week beginning March 2nd, 2020.
Stock rout may deepen in the week ahead as coronavirus impact starts to show up in economic data - (Source)
Stock investors just experienced one of the nastiest weeks in history that recorded the S&P 500′s fastest correction on record, but hold on tight, the market might have more room to fall as the coronavirus damage starts to creep into upcoming economic data, analysts warned. Major U.S. stock averages suffered their worst week since the financial crisis as fears about the coronavirus disrupting the global economy scared investors away from risk assets. However, stocks might still be searching for a bottom next week when investors grapple with a slew of economic data potentially dragged down by the outbreak. The Institute for Supply Management will release its manufacturing gauge on Monday. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve will publish its latest Beige Book on Wednesday, which will detail anecdotal information on current economic conditions. Many expect U.S. manufacturing to have taken a hit from the coronavirus. “Look out for ISM surveys and Beige Book for early signs of COVID-19 impact,” Michelle Meyer, Bank of America’s head of U.S. economics, said in a note Friday. “It will take time for the ‘hard’ economic data to show the impact but we are already seeing evidence in early economic indicators.” Weekend action? The outlook for the week could be changed this weekend by coronavirus headlines or by some sort of intervention by central banks. Expectations are rising on Wall Street that there could be some potential move from the Federal Reserve to get ahead of what could be another rough week. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said Friday the central bank is monitoring the coronavirus and pledged action if necessary. Meanwhile, former Fed Governor Kevin Warsh recommended the Fed act as quickly as Sunday before the markets reopen. The market is already pricing in a 100% chance of at least one rate cut at the Fed’s March policy meeting. Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group, is worried about the cascading effect of coronavirus hitting upcoming economic data points. “ISM manufacturing is going to be widely scrutinized,” he said. The ISM manufacturing index rose to a reading of 50.9 last month, the highest level since July (Any reading above 50 signals expansion.) Bank of America expects ISM manufacturing to pull back to 50.0 and said Fed Beige Book may provide “early insight” into the U.S. economic impact from the deadly virus. Cutting forecasts Next week, investors will also likely grapple with more warnings from major companies about broken supply chains and easing demand due to the outbreak. Apple, Microsoft, Nike and United Airlines have all sounded alarms that they will not meet their earnings and revenue guidance because of the virus. Wall Street strategists this week were quick to slash their forecasts on corporate earnings and the stock market. Barclays sees the S&P 500 to end the year at 3,000, down from a previous forecast of 3,300. The bank also expects a 2% drop in profits this year. Meanwhile, Goldman said it sees zero earnings growth for American companies in 2020. To be sure, some believe the steep stock rout has gone too far too fast, betting on at least a small rebound. “The level of panic has become very extreme and the level of downside price movement is pretty extreme. All of that is to me more of a sign that we are getting closer to the beginning of the end of it,” Paulsen said. Another source of support could come from the Trump administration, where officials are discussing tax cuts, among other economic reactions, as one option to make up for the economic impact of the coronavirus, the Washington Post reported Friday. Still, investors will have to be on edge for a while now with more virus headlines, as well as the key Super Tuesday Democratic primaries. Some notable investors including “bond king” Jeffrey Gundlach blamed the rise of Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders for helping accelerate massive sell-off.
This past week saw the following moves in the S&P:
The coronavirus outbreak—or Covid-19 —has caused significant market volatility over the past week. Our approach as always is to focus on economic fundamentals first, but the uncertainty around the scope of the outbreak has made it very difficult to assess potential impact. The situation clearly is unsettling for investors as more cases are reported across Europe and Asia, and the first case of community transmission has been reported in the United States. As this was written, the S&P 500 Index was 10% below its February 19 all-time high. “The Covid-19 outbreak continues to significantly disrupt economic activity in China and throughout Asia,” said LPL Financial Senior Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “Given that China is such a big component of many global supply chains, we will almost certainly see weaker economic data globally over the next several months.” Even as the situation remains fluid and very uncertain, we want to provide some sense of the potential U.S. and global economic impact. China: If virus containment holds in China, which is our base case, we could see something like a 3–4 percentage point impact to Chinese economic growth in the first quarter—possibly 2–3% gross domestic product (GDP) growth rather than 5–6%—followed by a much more modest hit in the second quarter. We think we would see a return to trend growth by the third quarter of 2020. This scenario would put China’s 2020 GDP growth below the current 5.6% Bloomberg-tracked consensus, shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, and the Chinese government’s previous 6% annual target. In other words, China’s GDP growth in 2020 could end up closer to 5% than 6%.
United States: At this point, our base case is that any economic disruption in the United States may be modest and short-lived, as we expect domestic efforts at containment to be more successful and have less economic disruption than in China. The outbreak may trim 0.25–0.5% from U.S. GDP over the next couple of months due to global supply chain disruption, falling export demand, and decreased tourism. If evidence emerges over the next month or so that the virus is being contained successfully, as we expect, the economic impact would likely be at the better end of that range (0.25%). In that scenario, damage to business and consumer confidence would be limited, setting the stage for a potential second-quarter rebound. We believe our 1.75% U.S. GDP growth forecast may still be achievable.
Global: In the short-term, the collective hits to global GDP from China, South Korea, Japan, and Italy—the countries where the outbreak impact has been greatest to date—may comprise 0.2–0.3% of global GDP. Our latest global GDP forecast of 3.5% from our Outlook 2020 publication is probably a bit too high in light of the latest news. We expect to update or reaffirm our economic forecasts once we have more clarity around Covid-19 impact in the weeks ahead.
Can the Market Bottom on a Friday?
It's often said that equity markets can't bottom on a Friday. One of the reasons for this line of thinking is that during a market downturn, no one wants to hold onto or bid up equities into a weekend for fear of further bad news. It may just be a matter of semantics, but based on that line of reasoning, the more accurate way to phrase it would be that markets can't bottom on a Thursday or rallies can't begin on a Friday. However you want to think about it, the chart below shows the number of times the closing low of a 10%+ correction has occurred on various weekdays. Of the 97 S&P 500 corrections since 1928, the day of the week that has marked the low close of a 10%+ decline the least frequently is actually Wednesday with only 10. Behind Wednesday, Friday has been the second most infrequent day of the week for a bottom (15), and Thursday is the only other day of the week where the S&P 500 has made a low on a closing basis less than 20 times. The days of the week where the S&P 500 most frequently bottoms are Monday and Tuesday with 26 and 28, respectively.
Dividend Stock Spotlight: S&P 500's Highest Yielders From The Sell-Off
Given the lower prices of stocks, dividend yields have been on the rise over the past couple of weeks. The dividend yield of the S&P 500 now stands at 2.12% which is the highest since June 3rd of last year when it reached the same level, but only stayed there for a single day. Prior to that, yields were only higher during the Q4 2018 sell-off through February of 2019. At the beginning of the current sell-off on February 19th, the S&P 500's yield was 26 bps lower at 1.86%.
Of the individual stocks in the index, there are now 81 stocks that have dividend yields of 4% or more. That compares to only 64 at the beginning of the sell-off. In the table below, we show the 25 highest yielders of the S&P 500 as well as the price change and change in the dividend yield since the 2/19 record high. As shown, there is only one stock, Macy's (M), that yields over 10% at the moment. This major retailer has fallen out of favor in the past few years but the stock has gotten crushed since the 2/19 market peak having fallen just under 21% in that time. That decline has raised the dividend yield by 2.44 percentage points, but there is one other stock that has seen its yield increase by even more. That stock is Occidental Petroleum (OXY), the second-highest yielder in the index (9.93%). Being an Energy name, OXY has fallen the most dramatically (-29.05%) since 2/19 of all the highest yielders.
While there is a lot of overlap, in the table below we show the stocks that have seen their dividend yields rise the most as stocks have declined since 2/19. Again OXY and M top the list. While no other stocks have seen their dividend yields increase by more than 2 percentage points, there are another 17 who have risen by at least 1 percentage point. Notably, two cruise line stocks, Carnival (CCL) and Royal Caribbean (RCL) find themselves on this list. Carnival (CCL) now yields 6.28% while Royal Caribbean (RCL) yields 4.05%.
It is no secret that energy stocks have gotten crushed this year, and the list of the 25 worst-performing stocks in the Russell 1000 since the previous record close on February 19th is a prime example of this. Seven energy stocks find themselves on this list, two of which, Chesapeake Energy (CHK) and Kosmos Energy (KOS), take up the number one and two spots having fallen 45.73% and 41.95%, respectively since 2/19. CHK had already been weak headed into the broader market sell-off with a YTD loss on 2/19 over 40%; the past week has added fuel to the fire as it is now down 68.5% YTD. Continental (CLR), Centennial Resource Development (CDEV), Transocean (RIG), and Apergy (APY) are other energy stocks that were down 20% or more on the year headed into this sell-off, and each one has fallen another 20%+ since the 19th. While most of the other biggest losers since 2/19 had already been down on the year, there are some that have seen their gains in 2020 get erased due to this sell-off like Nutanix (NTNX), Qurate Retail (QRTEA), Anaplan (PLAN), Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Chemours (CC), and CommScope (COMM). Some other notable losers of this group have been those heavily reliant on travel like American Airlines (AAL) and the cruise line stocks like Norwegian (NCLH) and Royal Caribbean (RCL).
Given how breadth has been over the past week, it may not come as any surprise that since the February 19th high there are only 18 stocks of 1000 in the Russell 1000 index that are higher. Four of those are up less than one percent. In the table below we show all of these stocks. Given the sell-off has centered around coronavirus fears, it is sensical that a coronavirus vaccine developer Moderna (MRNA) is the best performing stock since 2/19. What is amazing is there was not much momentum with this name headed into the sell-off. As of 2/19, the stock was actually down 3.27% year to date, but as the Covid-19 saga has moved along it is now up well north of 30% on the year. A few other health care names like Regeneron (REGN) and Gilead (GILD) have also benefited from the coronavirus.
The histogram below shows the distribution of performance of Russell 1000 stocks since 2/19. As mentioned above, there are very few stocks in the index that are up since the 2/19 high. The highest share of stocks are down between 10% and 15% while the next highest share are down between 5% and 10%. Of the worst decliners, there are 75 stocks that have fallen over 20%.
Looking at the individual sectors, again Energy was extremely weak even before equities sold off. On 2/19, the average Energy stock in the Russell 1000 in that sector was down 15.6% YTD. While they hadn't tipped into the red yet, Consumer Staples were only up 1 bp.
Since the 2/19 high for the US equity market, the average stock in the Russell 1,000 is down well over 10%. The average Energy stock is down the most at -21%, followed by Communication Services and Technology at -13%. Consumer Staples stocks have performed the best with an average decline of 8.9%.
This leaves every sector down year-to-date. Utilities have generally outperformed only falling 2.3%, but the sector is sitting on a loss nonetheless. Of the worst sectors, Industrials, Consumer Discretionary, Materials, and of course Energy have fallen 10% or more.
The recent equity sell-off has clearly been global in nature as concerns of a global pandemic rise. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the way equities have sold off recently is that the country that has been hardest hit by the virus is closer to its YTD high than any other major global equity benchmark. The chart below shows the distance that each major global equity benchmark has declined relative to its YTD high. China's Shanghai Composite is down just 4.45%, which is better than any other country shown. Sure, you could argue that the Chinese government is manipulating the market and prohibiting investors from selling, but even the ETF that tracks the CSI 300 (ASHR) is down less than 6%, so anyone could go in and trade at these levels. Manipulated or not, the numbers are the numbers. At the bottom of the list, Brazil's Ibovespa index is down more than any other country at 11.6% and that country has only reported one confirmed case so far. With respect to US indices, the Russell 2000 is down the second most of any major global benchmark (-9.19%), while the Nasdaq is down the fourth most at 8.68%. Even the S&P 500 is down close to 8%. These weak US readings come in a backdrop where there have only been 57 confirmed cases and all but a couple are instances where Americans contracted the virus outside of the United States and have been brought to the US under quarantine. Join Bespoke Premium to access Bespoke's most actionable stock market research and analysis.
There's still another day left in the week, but unless things improve on Friday this will go down as one of the worst weeks for US equities in history. Since WWII, there have only been four other weeks where the S&P 500 was down more than 10% in a given week. On a related note, there are also only four stocks in the entire S&P 500 that are positive for the week! Leading the way higher, Regeneron (REGN) is up a healthy 7.1% while Gilead (GILD) is up just over 4%. Behind these two, the only other stocks that are higher now than they were at last Friday's close are Clorox (CLX) and CME Group (CME).
On the downside, there are a lot more losers, but in the interest of space, below we have only listed the 17 stocks in the S&P 500 that are down over 20% this week alone. Looking through the names on the list, the cruise lines are well represented with Royal Caribbean (RCL), Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCLH), and Carnival (CCL). Besides these names, American Airlines (AAL) is down 26%, while Live Nation (LYV) is down 22.2%. One thing we've heard a number of people argue the last few days is that some of the weakness this week is related to the increasing likelihood that Bernie Sanders wins the Democratic nomination. If that's the case, why is not a single one of the worst-performing stocks from the Health Care sector, and why is the Health Care sector the third best performing sector this week and one of just four that is not down 10% so far this week?
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Target Corp. $103.00
Target Corp. (TGT) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 6:30 AM ET on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $1.66 per share on revenue of $23.49 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $1.68 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 74% expecting an earnings beat Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 8.50% with revenue increasing by 2.23%. On Friday, February 28, 2020 there was some notable buying of 3,641 contracts of the $100.00 put expiring on Friday, March 20, 2020.
Plug Power, Inc. (PLUG) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:00 AM ET on Thursday, March 5, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $0.06 per share on revenue of $90.15 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($0.05) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 66% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 25.00% with revenue increasing by 50.70%. Short interest has increased by 29.2% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 59.6% from its open following the earnings release to be 39.8% above its 200 day moving average of $3.10. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Friday, January 17, 2020 there was some notable buying of 2,010 contracts of the $5.00 put expiring on Friday, March 20, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 20.0% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 4.1% move in recent quarters.
JD.com, Inc. (JD) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 5:00 AM ET on Monday, March 2, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.44 per share on revenue of $23.81 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.47 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 76% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 1,000.00% with revenue increasing by 21.41%. Short interest has decreased by 9.9% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 9.9% from its open following the earnings release to be 19.4% above its 200 day moving average of $32.25. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Wednesday, February 12, 2020 there was some notable buying of 8,001 contracts of the $38.00 put expiring on Friday, March 20, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 11.5% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 5.3% move in recent quarters.
Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (ZM) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:05 PM ET on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.07 per share on revenue of $176.36 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.10 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 82% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for earnings of approximately $0.07 per share on revenue of $175.00 million to $176.00 million. The stock has drifted higher by 63.4% from its open following the earnings release to be 29.0% above its 200 day moving average of $81.40. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. The stock has averaged a 12.1% move on earnings in recent quarters.
Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:15 PM ET on Thursday, March 5, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $2.06 per share on revenue of $38.34 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $2.10 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 75% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 2.49% with revenue increasing by 8.32%. Short interest has decreased by 9.0% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 4.6% from its open following the earnings release to be 1.6% below its 200 day moving average of $285.72. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Thursday, February 27, 2020 there was some notable buying of 1,125 contracts of the $285.00 put expiring on Friday, March 20, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 8.2% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 3.8% move in recent quarters.
Tilray, Inc. (TLRY) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:05 PM ET on Monday, March 2, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $0.34 per share on revenue of $55.35 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($0.40) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 51% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 3.03% with revenue increasing by 256.38%. Short interest has increased by 25.9% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 32.1% from its open following the earnings release to be 49.5% below its 200 day moving average of $28.57. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Wednesday, February 26, 2020 there was some notable buying of 2,011 contracts of the $15.00 call expiring on Friday, April 17, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 26.7% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 8.5% move in recent quarters.
AutoZone, Inc. (AZO) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 6:55 AM ET on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $11.87 per share on revenue of $2.58 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $12.01 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 73% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 3.31% with revenue increasing by 5.28%. Short interest has decreased by 7.1% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 16.7% from its open following the earnings release to be 7.3% below its 200 day moving average of $1,113.49. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. Option traders are pricing in a 8.3% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 5.1% move in recent quarters.
Kohl's Corporation (KSS) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:00 AM ET on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $1.92 per share on revenue of $6.80 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $1.91 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 40% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 14.29% with revenue decreasing by 0.34%. Short interest has decreased by 2.6% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 19.7% from its open following the earnings release to be 19.9% below its 200 day moving average of $48.86. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Monday, February 24, 2020 there was some notable buying of 809 contracts of the $40.00 put expiring on Friday, March 20, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 11.7% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 9.5% move in recent quarters.
Splunk Inc. (SPLK) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:00 PM ET on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.96 per share on revenue of $783.94 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $1.00 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 91% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for revenue of approximately $780.00 million. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 31.51% with revenue increasing by 26.02%. Short interest has increased by 2.1% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 9.1% from its open following the earnings release to be 10.8% above its 200 day moving average of $132.95. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Wednesday, February 26, 2020 there was some notable buying of 2,414 contracts of the $155.00 call expiring on Friday, March 6, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 13.0% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 8.6% move in recent quarters.
Dollar Tree Stores, Inc. (DLTR) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:30 AM ET on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $1.75 per share on revenue of $6.39 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $1.75 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 61% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for earnings of $1.70 to $1.80 per share. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 9.33% with revenue increasing by 2.98%. Short interest has decreased by 7.1% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 13.3% from its open following the earnings release to be 17.9% below its 200 day moving average of $101.15. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Wednesday, February 26, 2020 there was some notable buying of 3,974 contracts of the $85.00 call expiring on Friday, March 20, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 9.0% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 7.9% move in recent quarters.
Fivefold Betting Example. As an example, you might want to place bets on five different horses at a meeting. You’ve been pretty successful with your single bets, so you this time you decide to wrap them all up into a Fivefold accumulator. You put £1 on horse A at 3/1. It wins, so the £4 return is automatically put onto horse B at 2/1. "21Bet" is a fast-growing European bookmaker recently, using a rich deposit and withdrawal method including virtual currency. It is a truly solid bookmaker that operates with a strong license and has complete support. Flag-Folding Script #1. As the flag is folded, for each fold recite the following: Fold 1: The 13 stripes represent the original 13 states: Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island. Fold 2: The 50 stars represent our 50 United States of America permutation betting, to reduce the overall risk of betting on multiple selections. The best way to fully explain permutation betting, and the benefits it offers, is to use some examples that show how it works in practice. Example 1 – Two Selections. Our first example is based on wagering on the following two soccer matches. The bet includes 28 doubles, 56 trebles, 70 four folds, 56 five folds, 28 six folds, 8 seven folds and an accumulator. A minimum of 2 of your selections must be successful to win a return. H
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