Monday, July 14, 2008

What bastin Should Not Do

Posted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 6:09 am
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Hello dear friends.

It occurs to me that these posts about my casino experiences may suffer from a score of social missteps. First of all, I note that posts by others of similar adventures have a bit less emotional turmoil (apart from maybe pokergirl’s , yet that’s to be expected from my sister). It is true that I am prone to a high level of self-disclosure. In this context, it can be camouflaged within a bad beat story; yet my intention here is not to bitch and moan, or to seek pity. I do tend to let my emotional state get the better of me at the table, even if I don’t think so at the time, and I pay the price. This week is a case in point, and I would hope that an exploration of the how and whys are instructive not only to myself, but to others as well. With that said, let us call this essay: “Confessions of an Adequate Poker Player.”

I was done with farming rather early Saturday evening as the old leg was acting up again. As I sat on the porch reading Mason Malmuth’s “Essays #3” I began getting the urge to play instead of read about poker. I thought about PA or Full Tilt but our DSL is quite taxed on weekend nights. My ping goes nuts. When my dear wife came in from putting the ducks in, I asked, “What would you say if I went to the casino tonight, sleep in the car, play again tomorrow and be home in the early evening?” That’s a bit encapsulated but the gist is there, to which she replied, “Sure.” Bless her heart.

The poker room was full. I signed up for 1/2 and spotted a player who I’ve talked to a few times and asked him how his table was. Without any hesitation, he pointed to the guy to his left and said, “He’s an idiot. And you know how hard it is to get an idiot off of a hand.” I took that to mean to watch out for the tourists tonight. Being a good player at a soft table is sometimes not all that it’s cracked up to be.

After a short while, I was sat at a different table. First hand I get pocket queens and reraise from middle position after an initial small raise. Flop is all low cards, two spades. I have Q of spades. I bet the pot and initial raiser calls me, so I back down on turn and bet half the pot on a blank. River is two of spades, she checks, I check. She shows KJ spades. I’m a bit touchy right away, but say to myself I’ll get that 1/3 of my stack back. A few hands later I get to check in the BB with 9 10 suited. Flop is small with a 10. I bet pot. Two callers, including the same woman. Both follow me to the river, where a Q hits. Checks all around. She has Q. 45 minutes into my game and I have to buy chips. Not a good start.

Eventually this woman gets a taste of her own medicine when her AA gets cracked and she leaves. I limp in the SB with K8 diamonds. Flop comes with two diamonds but I check. A small bet is made somewhere in the middle of the pack, UTG and I call. Turn is a K and I bet out. UTG raises and other player folds. It’s about 3 to 1 to call. I’ve played with this guy quite a bit and he says to me, “I’ve got a made hand. You don’t want to call.” That says to me he has a set by the way the board looks, and I’d say it’s tens. I say, “I have outs. I almost have to call.” I almost folded. River was a blank. He goes all in after I check. I fold. As he shows me his Tens, he says to me, “Man, I tried to tell you. You’re the last person I want to be in a hand with at this table.” Even though he respects me, I know I’ll never get that money back from him if he tries to avoid me. In fact, he racks up fairly soon and I buy another stack of $100.

By 4 in the morning, despite some regular 2/5 players at my table, I’m about back to even, maybe $20 or so up, so I leave and try to get some sleep in the car. Two hours of tossing and turning and dreams about Q 10 off and I go back inside. The only 1/2 table open is filled with the all-night regulars. It takes about 2 hours to lose $300 on a lower flush and a Broadway that gets mauled by a flush. I get up from the table. I have to chill for a bit.

By 11 o’clock the room is jumping and they open a new 1/2 table. A fresh start. The table has a couple of old-timers who are on a first name basis with the staff, a couple young kids, a few others I’ve never seen before, and two folks whom I’ve only played with once. The long and short of it is that I make some spectacular bluffs to win some big pots, lose most of it chasing straights, and win a couple more massive pots. I go home down $200 for the session.

Stoked on way too much coffee, as I drove I began to think about the subject for this week’s missive. Initially, I thought I’d write about the bluffs, and how important it was that I was a stranger at the table who seemed like a solid player. I then started to replay the session and review how it was I came to lose money. It came down to the chasing. I had to ask myself why I chased. It all pointed back to that first hand with the Queens. I did not shake the feeling that I had to play catch-up poker. And once I isolated the three hands I chased and calculated how much I had lost, the irony hit me: had I not chased, I would have come home up at least $100 or so.

It still comes down to the delicate status of my bankroll. After a stellar week last week, I was hoping to well this week. The more I am able to build my bank, the more comfortable I can feel at the table and not take chances. I know… it’s backward thinking in that I took unreasonable chances anyway. But now I had tangible proof that chasing makes no sense whatsoever. I used to say “maybe I’ll get lucky” are the four worse words for a poker player to utter. I have also preached patience to fellow players who express frustration. It is time for me to re-acquaint myself those attitudes.

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