Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sunday Night With MOJO

Sunday night I was planning to write a blog post about my adventures at The Bike the day before, a long session of poker trying to satellite into the WSOP Main Event.

But a wonderful distraction prevented me from doing that.  I had been following on Twitter the adventures of Dave Smith, aka Memphis MOJO.  Dave was playing in the Seniors Event at the WSOP.  I believe he plays in that every year.

I only wished I was still in Vegas so I could rail for him in person.  Hell, I could have been in the audience for the final table.

Anyway, as you must know, MOJO is a long time poker blogger.  I’m pretty sure he was one of the first bloggers to comment on this here blog, and he comments regularly.  Also, he was one of the first to put my blog on his blogroll. So we’ve been blogger pals since the early days of my blogging career. 

I’ve only met MOJO once, very briefly, back during the 2012 WSOP, when we were both playing in a Deepstack tourney there.  The story of that brief meeting is covered here.

Despite the fact that my only meeting with him was over in less time than it takes to read even my briefest blog post, with all the contact we’ve had on our blogs (and our other blogs) through the magic of the internet, I consider Dave a friend.

Anyway, they were webcasting the final table on the WSOP site.  And Dave made it to the final table!  I had to check in on him.

And once I did, it was riveting.  I couldn’t stop watching.  The odd thing is, despite the fact I work in the poker biz, I don’t watch a lot of poker on TV. In fact, I almost never watch it. I don’t actually find it that entertaining, and any time I spend watching it would reduce the amount of time I have to write. 

But this…this….I just couldn’t take my eyes off it.  The fact that I knew one of the players, and that I really, really, really had someone to root for, made all the difference.

Besides, clearly MOJO was representing all of us poker bloggers.  I kind of felt that, if he won, we all did.  All those bloggers in my blogroll were basically on the stage with Dave, playing along with him.  That’s what it felt like to me.

When I started watching, the table was 9-handed, a full final table.  Even before it was mentioned on the live feed (actually, it’s on a 20-minute delay since they reveal the hole cards), I noticed that all but one of players had a first name that started with a “D.”

The host of the feed was Dave Tuchman and for most of the time his “color commentator” was Matt Salsberg.  And there were quite entertaining.  They of course tried to provide background info on all the players at the table.  They apparently knew at least a little about most of the players.

But MOJO seemed to be the player they knew the least about, and that sort of made him the underdog.  The longshot.  The one fact they knew about Dave that they repeated constantly, much to his delight, I’m sure, was that Dave was the oldest player at the final table. 

But they asked viewers to tweet them any info they had on any of the players, and they would read the tweets on the air.  That didn’t really register with me at first, until I heard them read a tweet from none other than Lightning36 himself. I believe he tweeted a quote from MOJO’s blog about the event, before it started.  When I heard Lightning’s name, I thought, “Hey, I know who that is!”

Then it hit me that I could tweet to them too.  And I felt that was my duty to get a tweet on the air demonstrating how all of Dave’s fellow bloggers were out there railing for him, and supporting him.  I came up with something real fast, because I knew the feed was on a delay and Dave was one of the shorter stacks so…..I hoped to get it to them before he busted (if he did).

So I tweeted to them: “Dave represents all us poker bloggers. Also a Bridge wiz.”

OK, pretty lame and more than a bit self-serving I guess.  Keeping under 140 characters isn’t my strong suit.

Sure enough, Tuchman read the tweet on the air….or started to.  Right after saying “Robvegaspoker tweets ‘Dave represents….” The current hand got really interesting and he had to interrupt himself to discuss the hand (I believe someone busted out on that hand, but I’m not sure).  I was sure they would never get back to my tweet.  But no, Tuchman was real good about it, and after the hand was over, he read the full tweet.  So now I’ve been mentioned on a WSOP final table telecast!

They had actually mentioned Dave’s bridge prowess a bit earlier, but I think it was after I sent the tweet.

The fun thing about the webcast was the comments they made about Dave’s play.  First off, I have to tell you, that Dave is the tightest tournament player I’ve ever seen.  Really.  He makes me look like an absolute maniac.

I really have no idea how Dave survived so short-stacked for so long playing so few hands.  But the commentators mentioned it often, especially when he folded a hand they felt playable.

Twice within a brief span, Dave folded pocket 8’s, and once pocket 7’s.  I was surprised too, but Tuchman and Salsberg kept referring back to it.  And when it got down to three-handed, they kept pointing out that Dave was basically letting the other two players play at each other while Dave was almost a bystander, just playing the occasional hand.

They speculated that Dave was playing that way because of the payout schedule and his desire to protect his position on the pay scale and move up—and that money was more important to him than the bracelet.

I can’t speak for Dave, but I don’t think that was it at all.  I think that’s Dave’s normal style.  I think he was playing a style that he was comfortable with and he felt had an excellent chance to win the event with that style.

Of course, the two best moments for me were the two times I saw Dave dealt the mighty deuce-four, aka the Grump, aka The Most Powerful Hand in Poker.  Both times he raised with the hand (this was after folding pocket 8’s twice).  The first time, no one called his preflop raise.  The second time, he had a caller, but on a flop that totally missed him, he made a continuation and took it down.

After the first of those hands, I tweeted that MOJO had raised with deuce-4 and won the pot (and of course, copied Grump on the tweet).  MOJO tweeted back that he did that “on purpose, in honor of Grump.”  But seriously, how could you not raise with such a big hand?

I mentioned Dave’s tight play.  Frankly, I was very surprised at the tight play in general.  As the table kept losing players, I would have expected a lot more aggressive play, and an all-in on almost every hand.  But that was not the way it went.  There were “reasonable” raises made most of the time.  Three-handed, no one ever shoved for a long, long time, despite the short stacks.

The commentators definitely noticed, and several times noted that this was the difference between a Seniors Event and an open tournament.  They were saying that if there were younger players at the table, the raises and the all-ins would have been bigger and more frequent.  I was thinking the same thing myself!

Anyway, I believe Dave was the short-stack the entire time they were three handed.  And because of the delay, before I saw it on the webcast, I had read Dave’s tweet that he was out in third place.  Hey Dave….how about a spoiler warning? J

But I watched the event to see Dave’s busto hand.  And it was quite interesting.  Dave had Ace-10 offsuit and shoved from the big blind  Dan Heimiller, the chip leader had completed from the small blind after the button limped.  The limper folded but Heimiller took his sweet time making a decision.  I can’t recall the chip counts but Dave had more than enough to really cripple Heimiller if he called and lost.  And with only a pair of four’s, the obvious move there was to fold.

That’s what the commentators were saying.  No way did it make sense for Heimiller to call.  Way too risky, especially the way Dave was playing.  The best Heimiller could hope for was a flip, with Dave having two overcards.  Why take a risk like that?  If he lost, he’d almost have to just shove in one or two hands with any two cards.  And if Dave had a pocket pair, it would almost have to be better than his 4’s, and he’d be a 20-80 underdog. 

But Heimiller had been making a lot of questionable calls all night long—especially on the river—with weak holdings.  And he had played many, many hands in ways that defied explanation. The commentators couldn’t figure him out.

So Tuchman and Salsberg were sure that he would eventually call, even as they were saying that it would be bad play.

Heimiller called.  The board bricked for Dave.  No Ace.  No 10.  No straight, no flush. 

And Dave was out.

Had he won that flip, he would have been the chip leader and very likely would have taken home the bracelet.

For his three days of poker, Dave took home a tidy $279K.

It was an awesome performance by Memphis MOJO.  He really showed how to work a short stack, and also how to work a tight strategy even as the blinds and antes got huge.  Very impressive.

Congratulations, Dave.  Well deserved.  You did us fellow poker bloggers proud!

Since Dave was making news with his sensational performance, I stole this pic off his blog where he is “reporting” the news!



  1. Thanks for the post, Rob. Others had supporters there in person. But I had the biggest support group, all virtual, but real just the same and it meant a lot to me. Thanks for the tweets from you, lightning and others.

    1. Glad we were there to virtually help you!

      Have you spent all the money yet? :)

  2. "Dave is the tightest tournament player I've ever seen..." You've never seen me Rob... :P From everything of Mojo's that I've read, I think that we play tourneys really similar (except for his overwhelming success of course)... ;) I think that too many people have bought into that "you have to shove at this point mentality," and they eliminate themselves with really inferior holdings (allowing the MOJO's to climb the ladder). Nice write up - Dave deserves all the accolades...

    1. Thanks, Coach.

      Geez, what the heck is going on? Suddenly I'm thinking that I'm not playing tournaments nitty enough!

      I wonder how much MOJO charges for lessons?

  3. i would think mojo would be one of the players theyd know the most about, since they could easily research him online from his blog when probably hardly any of the others at the table would either be well known or have blogs.

    1. Apparently the commentators don't read our blogs, Tony.

      Sadly, not everyone does.

  4. Nice post Rob. However, the picture isn't on par with your other posts :)

    1. Yeah....you know I spent over three hours searching, trying to find a topless picture of MOJO, but I just couldn't find one.