It doesn't take much analysis of my SNG game to understand why I don't do as well as I think I should. I'm chicken. I take my seat and suddenly I sprout a beak and feathers and starting going pwock-pwock-pwooooock!
Against the maniacs who usually populate my usual low buy-in games you have to play tight. Short of sticking a Glock against their temple most of these folks will not lay down a hand, and even then you have to thumb back the hammer to show you're serious. Playing this way often gets me in the money, but it rarely gives me enough chips to win or even have a good chance to win. It also makes me feel like the unfortunate guys in those "Enzyte" commercials they show 100 goddam times a day on late-night TV.
The past 2 nights I played hands that made me shy away from looking at myself in the mirror. In both hands I made decisions that I think can be justified but left me feeling hangdog. The first happened in a Party SNG, on the very first hand. I'm in the small blind and pick up pocket queens. Yum. The second guy to act raises it to T350--you know, the standard 23.33X the big blind raise. Before I decide how I'm gonna play it the guy two doors down goes all-in.
So, do I call and go to war with my ladies? Against a guy who opens with nearly half his stack and another who shoves everything he has? Under normal circumstances this would be an easy yet easy-to-brag-about laydown. Afterwards you breezily tell how you made an incisive read and laid down two queens, hopefully earning the oohs and the ahhs. But this is Party Poker, where the inmates run the asylum. I might have these guys totally crushed. Based on their crazy raises, I probably do have the first guy crushed at least. I could triple up right here. I could boss the table the rest of the way and smash my way to victory.
I fold. The original raiser calls and turns over pocket sixes, the all-in dude flips over KQ. And I very slowly rest my head on my desk. It doesn't matter that the turn came a king and I would've been knocked out. Nor does it matter that calling might've proved a donkified play had the all-in guy turned over aces. I didn't gamble. I didn't risk. I didn't dare all.
I end up out in 8th place when my top two pair runs into a set. So I mosey over to Full Tilt to try my luck there. And indeed I do have some luck, winning a few hands and building up a nice little stack. Trouble is, the guy to my immediate left knocks out four players in about six hands and dominates the table. And he's the raising kind. We're one from the money and the other two guys are either folding or going all-in, and with Goliath to my left I have to wait for a hand and play meek.
The shorties fold to me and I have the king-ten of spades. I raise, the big stack calls. The flop comes K-Q-10, and the cards that pair me up are both clubs. I bet out, hoping to take it down right there. Of course he sets me all-in. Terrific. Those 2 pair looked so very lovely, and now I can't keep from thinking that this jerk has KQ. Or AJ. Maybe he has a straight draw. A flush draw. A straight AND flush draw. I start pecking at the floor for loose kernals of corn. I hear a chirp indicating I have 15 seconds to decide. If I'm wrong I'm out. I'd still have a big lead over the other 2 guys if I fold. I fold.
He turns over pocket nines, and my fluttering eyes roll back in my head. Three overcards come out, I bet after raising pre-flop, and he goes all-in. I really could've hurt him had I won. "I could've made a straight with a jack" he explains. Yeah, can't argue with him there, he's perfectly correct.
I end up second to him after I survive a truly horrible play when I hold pocket nines. Never has second place seemed like such a hollow victory. But the key to hollow victories is that they ARE victories. No...the key to hollow victories is that they're CALLED hollow victories because they feel like defeats. Not as bad as a real defeat, not as bad as bluffing off all your chips with AK five hands into a 3-table multi (which I did a few days ago), but not nearly as good as playing well, playing aggressive, and winning. I know that calling these two hands might not have gotten me first place, nor necessarily would calling have even been the RIGHT decision. But the reason I folded was because in my mind I conjured images of my own destruction, instead of reasoning things out and acting rationally. No matter the stakes, logic and reason should guide your play (unless you're really, really drunk). Fearing what's hiding under the bed should not.