Do I really need more lessons in humility?
I haven't written an actual poker post in over a month now, and I may lose my status as a pokerblogger unless I start actually writing about the game a wee bit. Don't have much to talk about so far as my own game goes, as I haven't been playing much and, when I have played, nothing especially interesting has happened.
Well, except for this--the first day I got back in the saddle after my hospital stay I was playing a little pot-limit and treading water. I was dealt As9s, tossed in my buck, and saw two spades appear on the flop. While I was laid up I read Cloutier and McEvoy's book and one thing that stuck with me was the idea that, in pot-limit, you need to build the pot so you get paid off when you hit a big hand. You can't toss in a buck here and there--you need to bet big, bet hard, and make the other guy pay to chase you.
So that's what I did. I had an overcard (the ace) as well as the flush draw, so I bet the pot. Two guys called, so there was now a nice chunk of change in there. No spade on the turn, and after I checked the next guy in line bet about half the pot. After some difficult mental calculations I figured I had 12 outs--the 3 aces and the 9 spades. I still had about a 25% chance to hit my hand. The pot odds were close, but maybe I shouldn't have called. I did anyway--hey, I'd been away from the tables a long time.
Oh happy day, I got my spade on the river. He bet, I raised all-in, he called, and showed down pocket jacks. I scooped up my tidy $25 profit and set my mind to the next hand. My opponent didn't. "You always chase like that?" he sneered. I ignored him. Then he said, "You keep chasing like that and I'm gonna get all your money eventually".
OK, that I didn't like. I don't mind someone bitching about a tough loss--I've done it myself once or twice, but this jerk thinking he could boss ME rankled. Thinking back to how Hoyt Corkins tormented Phil Hellmuth on a recent WPT broadcast, I typed, "You priced me into the hand. You didn't bet big enough to chase me and I had too many outs to fold. If you'd bet the pot I would've thrown it away".
He shut up and I felt smug and self-satisfied. Nothing like showing a guy who's half-smart that he's also half-dumb. But pride, as they say, goeth before the fall, and I goethed to my doom. Twice in the next session I suffered the same cruel fate as the guy I lectured, though on a greater scale. On both hands I held AK unsuited. The first time I flopped top two pair and bet the pot. One caller. A second heart on the turn, and I bet the pot. Call. A third heart on the river, I bet the pot, and got raised. I called because I only had like two bucks left and I soon saw that the guy had gone runner-runner to make his flush. He had a straight draw after the turn, so I guess it wasn't a HORRIBLE call, but it felt pretty horrible.
The next time I flopped the ace-high straight. Broadway, baby. The Q, J, and 10 were all different suits, so this time I checked, let my pigeons bet, and called oh-so-smooooooth. Another club on the turn and no more Mr. Nice Guy. I bet the pot and chased two guys, but not the third. Another goddam club on the river and again I got raised after my bet. He had Qc5c and, I can only assume, thought he had the best hand after the flop.
I managed not to vomit on my keyboard after that one, I guess that's something. It is said the optimist sees the glass as half full, the pessimist half empty. I not only see the glass has half empty, I immediately start thinking about what a pain in the ass it's gonna be to wash the glass afterwards. Not only did I lose about $60 in those two hands, I should have MADE about $40, had those last blasted cards not made their flushes. Throw in the earlier hand I won and I would've been up about $70, and instead I was down almost $50.
It is said that what differentiates a good player from a bad player is how he handles the bad times. Do you tilt, do you turtle, do you start hating yourself and the world and lose all your money because you feel that you DESERVE to lose? Good players don't commit these self-destructive acts. I yell a little and cry and curse God and all He has Created, but so far I've managed to keep the wheels from totally falling off.
But isn't it about time I also learn how to handle incredible success? Isn't that a valuable lesson as well, to learn how to deal with a streak of almost unimaginable good luck, when it seems like the other players WANT to give you their money? Where your bankroll doubles, trebles, quaduples in the time it normally takes you to bust out at a .50/$1 game? I really think this is a part of my game that needs worked on.
So far the Poker Gods have not been accomodating. Played a remarkable string of hands the other day. Forty-seven hands, and I didn't win a single hand. Ouch. But what was maybe even more remarkable was that I only played my hand past the flop ONCE. I had QQ, called a bet on the flop even though a king fell, but when an ace hit as well and there was a bet and a raise I of course bailed. Someone take the deck outta the freezer, please.
OK, I think I've once again established my poker bona fides. Still working on some poker fiction for Pauly, invented a new poker game I'll introduce shortly, and have lots to say about what we've seen so far of the WSOP and the WPT. But I'll save that for another day. Have to get in shape for Iggy's tournament this Sunday, and so, to the tables I go.