06 July 2009

poker, the evil temptress...

Some days, I wonder why I don’t just play poker for a living. I mean, I really enjoy the game, and it seems, when allowed to just focus and grind it out, it seems that, empirically, I’ve had more success at the tables than failures. And it seems, when I’m playing, I really enjoy what I’m doing. And after a good run, I think to myself, “I’m better than most of these ass clowns, and if I wasn’t so scared, I’d just sack up, take a bankroll and either go to Las Vegas or just put it all online, and just start the process. I think that’s a good idea, until I lose one of these hands, and remember that, with a real job, there’s no possibility of going broke while at work. Let me describe what happened, and if you’re not into poker or have no understanding of the game, you’d be just as well to find another website, at least for the day…

…so I’m playing in the Deep Stack tournament at the Golden Nugget, and I’m moving up, building a modest chip stack until finally I find myself 3rd in the tournament, until I find myself card-dead (where you want to play, but have no cards worth playing, or at least not in the right position to play these cards I would normally think of playing). By the time I’m ready to act, the antes are 200 and the blinds are 1500/3000, and my chip stack is 122K in chips. I then find myself on the button (the last person to act, which allows you to see what everyone would do, which makes it the preferred place to act), with an Ace and a King of clubs (from now out, referred to as AKc). The action folds all the way around to me, and so I raise the blind to 6000 (I don’t want to raise the action too much, and get a set of folds and get no action, but I need to represent some form of strength). The small blind folds, and the big blind calls, throwing in the extra 3000 (plus the 3000 he’s already committed for being in the big blind). The flop comes down:

2c 7c 8c

The player sees the flop and gets a small smile, which to me, indicates he’s hit something, which is cool with me, because I just hit the nut flush. I forgot to mention, my opponent the top chip stack, a relatively loose player, willing to make moves with AX, which means he’s probably sitting there, with his A2, maybe he’s even got the A8 offsuit, which means he thinks he’s way ahead. He makes a move, betting 15K. This is a sizeable bet, about the size of the pot, but I’m in a pretty dominant position, so I re-raise to 50K, putting a little pressure. He makes the immediate re-raise, going all-in. I’ve been waiting for this situation all tournament. There aren’t many situations that will make me call an all-in, especially in tournament format, as I don’t really like going out in tournaments (no re-buy option, so every implication is magnified). But this is a no-brainer. I make the call and we flip over the cards. He flips over As5c against my AKc…I’m holding the nut flush, and his odds of winning this hand at this time are about as likely as flipping 1000 coins and having them all end up heads. I’m envisioning what all those chips in the middle of the table will look like in my stack, thinking about being able to win this tournament, and just being generally pretty giddy. The turn comes down, and a 9c. This makes the board:

2c 7c 8c 9c

This gives him exactly one out, which is a much better position than I imagined him being in when I made the call, and it was at that time I began to get that sinking feeling, that feeling you get when bad shit is about to happen. It was as if my entire poker life flashed before my eyes- every time when I was learning the game and would find myself in the 2-outer position, and would catch my cards to the absolute horror and dismay of my opponents, those times when I would bluff with absolutely nothing, like moving all-in with a 54 offsuit, and catch a 545 flop to catch the full boat on the flop and knock out someone’s pocket A’s, and every time I backdoor four-flushed someone, it flashed as well. With all of this happening, it wasn’t as devastating to have the 6c on the river. This makes the board

2c 7c 8c 9c 5c

That sorry, so and so moved all in with on a four-flush, 5 high. He’s supposed to lose his loot, and I’m supposed to collect the money, smile arrogantly and keep on grindin’. But instead, he catches the straight flush, by hitting the gutshot to hit the straight flush. I see him scream in elation, call me a “donk” for making the call, and said he knew he was going to win. In retrospect, I think I handled it like a man should, I collected my phone, my glasses and headed to the bar, because after a bad beat like that, you need, need to have an adult beverage. As I sat at the bar, thinking about how lucky I was-if that was a cash game, I can easily see myself losing all my money, maybe my house and probably my car in that scenario. Then I find myself being that guy, the guy that says “Oh shit, how can I go home? I can’t tell my wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/husband about this, they’ll kill me.”

And that, is why I don't play professionally.

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