I Came Back For THIS?
Instead of obsessively playing poker last night I went out and played 3-on-3 hoops for about 90 minutes. For about the last 40 minutes of it I thought I might die, or at least vomit on my shoes, which means I got a pretty good workout. I played well (for me) and when I got home around 11PM I was exhausted but still a bit wired, so why not play a few hands and maybe, just maybe, actually win one?
And I do mean ONE, because as I wrote yesterday, I played 50 hands without once dragging in a pot. Well, that couldn't happen again could it?
Of course not! Of COURSE I won a hand last night. Unfortunately, I must bring your attention to the noun marker "a". I won A hand. As in, singular. One. Uno. The loneliest number.
The gory details? I made a rookie mistake right off the bat. Before I sit down at a table I take a look at everyone's chip stack. If the minimum buy-in is $25, and I see that everyone is right around that level, no one too high, that's probably a nice average table. If there's one guy with $60 and everyone else has $8, that probably means the big stack is a fairly decent player and I should therefore go looking for fairly awful players. Last night I forgot that and sat down at just such a table. And, to top it off, I sat down directly to the right of the big boy at the table. Smooth move, Gene, really.
I got into trouble almost immediately. I called with A-9 and the flop came Q-9-6. With second pair and an ace I called a single bet. When an ace fell on the turn I felt my luck was changing, and bet my two pair. Only to have big boy raise me. He was raising almost every hand, so I was only moderately terrified. Another queen on the river counterfeited my nines, but this far along I check-called. And he showed down quad Queens. I typed that I thought the fourth queen was a bit excessive. Bad enough he holds the Hilton sisters, but then he makes the Olsen twins on the board...
(Actually, what a horrible mental image. The Hilton sisters and the Olsen twins together...285 pounds of cosmetic- and media-engineered cultural pollutants with a combined net worth probably closing in on a billion dollars. And they say there's a God).
My losses for the session eclipsed $10 when I was finally, finally dealt a hand--pocket aces. I pulled my head of the noose and this time RE-raised the table bully. He called, and the flop came J-6-2, with 2 diamonds. Big boy checked, I bet, and the bastard check-raised me. What the HELL? Could he have flopped trips? Was I already drawing to two outs? I started to panic...and I'm ashamed to tell you that I nearly folded. FOLDED. Had I done that there would've been no reason to keep playing poker, as I would have surrendered all rights to call myself a semi-sort-of-serious player.
I calmed down. If he had trips he would slow-play them. If he had a flush draw, then it was my job to charge him to chase. So I raised him back, he called, and he check-called me down to the river, where he turned over the hand I thought he had, AJ. And CONGRATULATIONS flashed across my screen, and I heard and saw the fireworks. Pure, unadulturated bliss.
And then I got squat the next 10 hands and I surrendered to exhaustion and went to bed. So far things have not gone my way. I'm down $17, though I'll clear my bonus soon and that's ten whole bucks to plump out my purse. I've played 80 hands, and won one. ONE. That's not good, but that's they way it is. As I went to bed I remembered something I read in a poker book, I forget which one (maybe all of them): "The purpose of playing poker is not to win pots. The purpose is to win MONEY". Good advice. Chasing down every hand will win you a few odd pots, but it'll cost you in the long run. Better to maximize the value of your every advantage and minimize your losses through loose and incorrect play. And thinking of this reassured me that things will get better. I'm not folding good hands out of fear or playing passively--its just a cold streak. I shall endure.
But then I remembered a quote from Woody Allen's movie "Love and Death". Allen's character has just been executed and he's walking off with Death, when he stops to speak directly to the camera about the meaning of life. He talks of this and that, and in part of it he says, "The thing to remember is...it isn't the QUANTITY of your sex life that matters, it's the QUALITY". He pauses to reflect and then says, "but...if the quantity falls below once every eight months, well, then that needs to be looked into".
In other words, I probably need to improve on my 1.25% win rate.