Monday, July 14, 2008

Haunted by a hand

Posted: Sun May 13, 2007 3:12 pm
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Dear Friends,

Please forgive this indulgence as I know many of you play at casinos on a regular basis; yet, for me it is a relatively novel experience and I therefore have a need to share it. Yet again, I hope what I have to share will be of some benefit to those of us who are still relative neophytes to this game and its arena.

Yesterday, I once again visited the local casino. I have not been there in about six months. Some of you may remember my post after that initial trial by fire. Luck was certainly not on my side that day, premium hands falling to superior hands. $400 disappeared within an hour. Yesterday I redeemed myself, sitting at the $1/$2 table for five hours and leaving with more than double my initial buy-in of $200. It was a good day: pocket Ks, Qs and Js all holding up. The fishing was good, and no matter what the local sharks tried against me, I endured to take their money when I had no other choice than to be in a hand with them. Overall, a splendid day… until the last hand. It was that hand that I lost sleep over last night.

I had just taken a break from the table to call home. After some discussion, it was determined that I might do well to call it a day. Indeed, I was starting to lose focus at the table. I was getting hungry and I had had less than an optimal amount of sleep the night before. The local casino had a restaurant, yet, unlike my trip to Las Vegas in March, I had no room to retire to for a nap.

I returned to the table to find that I had just missed my big blind. The button passed and as I racked up my $5 chips, I put my $3 in to play this, what was to be my last hand. I was able to check with A9 off in the cutoff with several limpers. The flop came A95 rainbow. Beautiful. After checks around, I bet 2/3 of the pot and was called by the small blind. The turn was an 8. Again, I bet, maybe half the pot and was called after his check. The river was a 10 and the small blind bet out $30. I asked him, “Did you hit the river?” to which he replied, “Yes.” I paid him off with his A 10 off and said, “Shame on you.” My stack was diminished by 20% in that one hand.

Several things occurred to me afterwards: With the A in the cutoff, should I have represented strength pre-flop? And had I done so, would that have possibly made him think twice before calling a flop and turn bet? The guy did like to see the river (I saw him get clobbered once by 4 6 diamonds!) Should I have talked up my two pair during the hand in order to get him off of his ace? I thought I had a good trap going. Did I just get unlucky and he would have called me down no matter what? And what effect did the fact that I knew, as did the whole table, this was my last hand have on the outcome?

This hand occupied my thoughts and dreams the rest of the night. I played the hand over and over. Ultimately, I suspect I sabotaged myself. I was perhaps too cavalier with my betting, giving the guy implied odds. Up to that point I had been tight/aggressive and it had paid off. Lots of questions and doubts. Hmmmmm.

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