Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The streak is starting to crack..

So wish me luck this weekend.
I'll be playing live poker two days in a row.
Friday night it'll be buddies, a little nicker-dimer stuff, so that won't be a big deal.
But Saturday will be my first time in a casino.
I've always wanted to play poker in a casino, even before I knew you could put percentages on hands and I thought poker on TV was boring to watch.
Now, after more than a year under my poker belt, I figure I'm ready to dive in.
I don't know what's going to happen. I could lose the $200 I plan to bring (I got the money from a freelance article, so it's almost free money. At least that's what I've told my yet-to-be-convinced-wife).
Or I could win a lot.
Or I could break event.
Two out of three sound pretty good to me.
It comes at the right time, when my tournament play has been good, even if the results don't show it in some ways. I've bubbled out of far too many SnGs when the blinds swallowed me up and my good hands lost their races in the inevitable all-ins (my JJ versus QK or my K,10 versus Q,J, for example),, but I have crushed the $2.25 tournaments at work, cashing 6/7 and making $26.
The ring games, however, continue to be bleechy. This week hasn't been too bad, but it's been far below what I like to think are my standards. The suckouts have disappeared, but that's mostly because I've played very few hands. I've been so very, very card dead. I've seen more 9, 5s than an office worker. And watching decent players take advantage of all the donkeys I've seen spewing chips because they think their second pair is gold (but there's an A attached!) has been so frustrating.
People raise me, and I either call and get burned or they raise and I fold TPTK and they show me nothing.
It'll come back. It has to. But I'm ready for a hot streak. let's hope Saturday starts it.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

My nose against the glass

I am sitting in my computer chair, with my arms crossed, rocking back and forth and mumbling to myself, a numb zombie against the poker forces that have kicked my ass this March.
Poker, officially, is no fun anymore.
These last few weeks, I’ve felt like a poor kid at Christmas being forced to watch as his cousins open present after present, while all I get to open is a candy cane, and one of those awful strawberry ones at that.
I’ve looked over my notes, and in these last few weeks, during the worst month of my young poker career, I have played the best poker of my life.
And as a reward, I’m going to lose money for the first time this month.
Yep, March will be in the red.
Through it all, everything I know about poker seems to be a lie.
I can’t believe the percentages anymore. I’ve lost far too many all-ins when “the percentages” say I’m at least a 4-1 favorite or higher. Many times, these have cost me a tournament that, had I won the race I was heavily favored to win, I would have cashed for sure.
As an example, Friday night I was playing a 30-person SnG when, again, I was playing great poker, bluffing at just the right times despite getting no hands (which, also, seems to be a pattern this month).
I got JJ and, seeing a raise from a donkey, decided to push all in, hoping he would fold, but confident I had the best cards if he didn’t.
Sure enough, he calls with 7,7.
Sweet. I win this and I’m well on my way to the final table and a cash.
Flop comes 8,9,10, which worries me, but only for a second. I have the straight draw, too, only I have the higher straight.
10 comes on the turn.
6 falls on the river.
It’s happened far too often this month for me to believe now that JJ against 7,7 is a 50/50 proposition at best.
The worst part about this streak, other than being patient and then having my rare good hands getting fucked on the river, is watching so many bad plays get rewarded, and not just against me.
All Friday night, after my knockout in the 30-person game, I watched top pairs with weak kickers win 100 BB pots. Over and over, I saw crazy, transparent bluffs get picked off with low pair. Or someone pushing all in and catching their miracle card on the turn or the river.
I would imagine the feeling I had would be like walking into the Playboy Mansion and having no girls look your way while the guys who inspired the movie “Revenge of the Nerds” have one on each arm.

Here’s a hand from the 30-person SnG I played Saturday night:

Leykis 101 posts blind ($25), Bones6538 posts blind ($50).

brandon2x folds, mikmerlo folds, 8overeasy folds, dengl5 folds, brutus8070 folds, corey33bd calls $50, DirtySants calls $50, Leykis 101 bets $225, Bones6538 folds, corey33bd folds, DirtySants calls $200.

FLOP [board cards 7H,9S,10C ]
Leykis 101 bets $250, DirtySants calls $250.

TURN [board cards 7H,9S,10C,KD ]
Leykis 101 bets $400, DirtySants bets $1,000, Leykis 101 calls $600.

RIVER [board cards 7H,9S,10C,KD,5D ]
Leykis 101 checks, DirtySants bets $1,000, Leykis 101 calls $1,000.

DirtySants shows [ JC,QH ]
Leykis 101 mucks cards [ JS,KC ]
DirtySants wins $5,100.

By the way, last time I check, Leykis, the guy who thougth his J,K was gold, was chip leader by a lot and well on his way to winning, off hands like thisone:

DirtySants posts blind ($100), Leykis 101 posts blind ($200).

Bones6538 bets $600, brandon2x folds, mikmerlo folds, dengl5 folds, DirtySants folds, Leykis 101 bets $800, Bones6538 calls $400.

FLOP [board cards 5H,QC,8D ]
Leykis 101 bets $200, Bones6538 bets $700, Leykis 101 calls $500.

TURN [board cards 5H,QC,8D,8S ]
Leykis 101 bets $1,000, Bones6538 calls $1,000.

RIVER [board cards 5H,QC,8D,8S,5D ]
Leykis 101 bets $1,000, Bones6538 calls $1,000.

Leykis 101 shows [ JD,JH ]
Bones6538 mucks cards [ 10H,KH ]
Leykis 101 wins $7,500.

Of course, watching plays like this over and over, and getting no hands in that cash session for yet another card-dead hour (and when I say no hands, I’m not whining because I’m not dealt AA, I’m talking K,J looks GREAT kind of card dead), when I was finally dealt A,Q, I raised $1, and I had two callers, and a Q fell, with Q,10,8 on the board. I have TPTK.
I bet a quarter of my stack.
One caller.
I bet again, when a harmless 3 falls, and he raises me $3.
OK, normally I fold, but I’ve watched guys putting too much into their top pair all night, and I ignore the straight draw because surely he wouldn’t call a raise with J,9 would he?
He pushes all in. I call.
Bad call.
He would call a raise with J,9.
It’s such a brutal, confusing streak that it’s gotten me to start making bad calls. I’m being influenced by donkeys, and that is not a good influence. It's made me question everything I thought I knew about my playing. I must play too few hands because I'm not getting I'm happy with, I think as I endure yet another card-dead session. I must not try to bluff enough, knowing that bluffing with 5 loose players in a pot is a bad play (and when isn't there that many players in a cash game online?). I must fold too much, knowing that, in fact, me not folding last night was the problem that led to me being in a hole.
The streak, in fact, has taken an activity I truly loved and wrung all the joy out of it, even though it's not the money. I won't go broke anytime soon. My bankroll is healthy. I honestly haven't even lost that much.
But now I honestly feel like a junkie, where I play because I have to, hoping for the highs of before and only feeding the addiction instead of getting any real pleasure like I used to.
Surely the highs have come again, right? I mean, this can’t last forever, can it? I scratch my arm where the needle would go, hoping I can continue to chase the dragon before it burns me for good.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Just as I thought...

I played a $10 SnG for just the third time in my life last night and took second for a decent cash. The guy sucked out on me, of course, at the end when he got runner, runner for a straight, but that's OK.
The players were just a touch better, which actually made it easier to play. After the last two donkeys chipped out, bringing us to three, we battled for quite a while.
Player A was far too predictable, but that's probably the weakest part of my game, too. Player B was harder to read, but he went all-in far too much, which got him chips but would eventually kill him when he pushed too hard with a pair of pocket 9s with 10 high on the board and the guy flipped over A,10.
One side note: Don't ever motivate a player.
I was low stacked and starting to try to find a hand to go to war with (i.e., sort of give up, we've all done it, and I was very discouraged after this month) when Player A said to us, "You both have a lot to learn about playing poker."
Oh, really?
Well, after my 3,3 smashed his pretty A,Q, and I doubled against him, I was bound and determined to crash his ass. I bluffed more than I do, played hands carefully and doubled up against him two more times, when my AA destroyed his QQ and my A,9 dominanted his A,7.
Every time, I typed in the box, "Gosh, if only I could learn how to play."
In fact, I would have had him and his huge mongo stack (he got from getting gift hands and even larger gift calls from the donkeys) if it wasn't for his runner, runner, but he admitted I scared him after sucking out on me.
Whew, he said. Remind me never to talk again.
Here's your reminder.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Stuck in between

OK, I just realized something.
Sometimes a good old fashioned rant can help clear your head.
If I'm going to continue to play $5.50 tournaments and $2.25 tournaments at work, I'm going to have to learn to accept more suckouts and just grit my teeth when they happen.
I play them because:
• I'm still a bit of a chickenshit and struggle with the idea of putting up more money for a SnG where anything can happen, even though I know I could hang with them and probably even be successful at them.
• I'm still trying to improve both my skill and my bankroll, giving me even more confidence to play at the higher levels.
• I know I'm one of the better players at the table when I play at the my level, and I want to take advantage of the weaker players.
• The $2.25 tournaments at work require very little attention on my part until it gets down to the nitty gritty, so I can play them and still keep my job. :)
But if I continue to stay in the barn, I'm going to have to accept the fact that I'm hanging with donkeys, and donkeys, of course, make donkey moves.
Most (Some?) of the time, this is profitable for us aggressive-tight players. But it can also be incredibly frustrating, as you just saw, when the donkeys' moves continually pay off the donkeys and leave you bitching and empty-handed.
So maybe I continue to play the $2.25 tournaments and smile not only when I collect money at the end of the week from them, as I almost always do, but smile through gritted teeth when I get donkeyed over and over and over.

Fuck March

(Editor's note: It's rant time. Deal with it.)

First my Jayhawks lose in the NCAA tournament.
Now I suffer yet another week of suckouts.
I really can't tell you how many times I've been in with the best of it and the river has fucked me.
At least 20.
I'm serious.
I know you won't believe me, but it's true.
OK, Variance, thank you for a wonderful February, no need to punish me anymore for it.
The thing that really pisses me off is I rarely, rarely suck out. Almost never. Maybe once this month.
Why? Because I'm not a fucking donkey. I don't get my money in with the worst of it. I don't call a fucking all-in with two diamonds when I am chip leader so I can get my third on the river and then type in the box about how I knew that was going to happen.
So, what I'm saying is, I don't need suckout luck. I don't really even need much luck, other than getting hands to play.
What I need is normal poker. When I put my money in with the best of it, I need to win most of the time. Notice I am not saying all of the time. Like, say, when I get my money in, and I'm an 80 percent favorite, I need to win 80 percent of the time, instead of losing 80 percent of the time.
I should not be punished for playing good poker.
But I am.
So fuck you, donkey.
Fuck you, variance.
Fuck you, poker gods.
Just go fuck yourself.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Bad Boy

You have AA in third seat. You raise 4x the BB. Someone raises you back. You call.
The flop comes K,2,7.
You bet a fifth of your stack and you get called.
A 4 falls on the turn.
You shove all in because nothing frightens you out there and this is a $5.50 tournament.
The guy calls you with K,4.
Now, instead of asking you a poker question, I ask you now.
What do you do?
Do you say nh, congratulate him or berate him?
Well, I broke my rule and berated him.
Nice hand, donkey, I said.
Fortunately, I was able to control myself when I was answered with, "?????."
I didn't say anything else. Don't educate bad players, says Mike Caro, and I agree. Plus my classy outburst was enough anyway.
I am a competitive person, almost to a fault, which is one reason why I love poker tournaments and play many of them, even if ring games are always more profitable for me.
Occasionally, that competitive spirit gets the best of me.
Usually I just sit there if a guy outdraws me, but as the bad beats pile up, my ability to take them cracks and then starts to fall down before it finally collapses and I rip into a guy for calling my AA with KK even when "he knew I had aces" but gets his K on the turn, as I did last week, when it seemed like every time I was ahead when I got all my money in, I would lose.
I hate table captains and will even tell them to shut up when a guy makes a mistake and Capt. Poker chirps up, "How can you call that?" in the chat box.
But lately, I've found myself wearing the Skipper's Hat.
So, this is my New Year's Resolution, as I did not make one until now. I will not, cannot and won't not say anything but nh, sir when as donkey outdraws me.
I'll just take their money next time.
It appears that, for the moment, my losing streak is over, but it's not like I'm on a tear. I've been mostly card-dead and unlucky in tournaments, but that's better than suckouts. At least you don't lose a lot of money that way.
And your dignity.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


When we’re in a losing streak, we’re far too anxious to blame our misfortune on bad luck.
Bad luck is always part of a streak (oh my God, is it ever), but last night, I had several opportunities to pull myself out of the ditch.
And I didn’t take advantage of them.
Poker is a game of situations. If you have a straight, and there are four hearts on the board, and a tight player pushes all in, sorry, but you fold. Learning how to fold, even when I have a pretty, pretty, pretty hand, because the situations calls for it has saved me a lot of money and made me a winning player.
But now that I’m well versed on folding (good laydown!) and waiting for the nuts at my full-table .25 NL cash games, I’m looking for ways to improve my game and maybe add a little more aggression to my life, without the whips, chains or various scented lotions.
I need to rely on the old standby.
I’ll go through a few hands here last night to see what I mean.
• OK, so I get Q,K in early position, so I just call the .25. A guy two spots to my left raised 8x the BB.
I fold automatically and regret it almost immediately.
The guy was a pure donkey, one of the worst players I’d seen, and though he hadn’t been at the table that long, he’d already dropped a buy-in. I had a good read on him. Normally I would never call a raise that high with only K,Q, even soooted. You’re only asking for trouble.
But in this case, it would have been a good time to call. He was making raises much higher than that. It turns out the flop was Q,4,4, and a guy who called won with 9,9. The donkey had A,7.
The situation called for me breaking my rule. I ignored it and failed to scoop a big pot.
• I have 7,7 in MP and the guy to my right raises 3xs the BB.
Now, this may seem tight to you, but I have never understood why so many people fall in love with pocket pairs. It’s a pair, people, and once you’re committed to it, it’s hard to improve it (7.5 to 1 chance of hitting a set), and without improving it, you are vunlerable to overcards, draws and small little donkey two pairs.
Of course I shove all in with AA after a couple re-raises and usually with KK, but after that, I treat them like a normal hand and will fold them many times. Hell, two weeks ago I folded KK preflop and the guy showed me AA.
So I normally fold little pocket pairs, up to 8,8, to raises.
But in this case, the guy was a habitual raiser. I pegged him as an OK player, so he wasn’t raising with junk, but he could be raising with any pocket pair, or J,Q or even something like A-x.
I folded the 7s when it was a perfect time to call.
4,7,3 appears on the board.
Another 7 appears on the turn.
I’m never one to regret a fold. If the miracle card hits, well, so be it. But in this case, again, the guy was a raiser, and you let him scare you off. As it turns out, he folded to action, but two other players pushed all in.
Another great opportunity passes me by.
• Finally, I have K,10, and I throw a quarter out there, with the intent to play it cautiously.
I get an OESD, but there are two hearts out there.
Now this play might take some debate. Why not raise to get the flush drawers out of the pot and protect your draw?
I thought about the play later. It has two sides to it.
The good side is the play is an aggressive one, which may allow you to take down the pot right there, add money in when you do hit your draw and throws your opponents off a bit.
The bad side is I play .25 NL, and at that level, most players pay no attention to pot odds. While this is a good thing most of the time, as it allows us to get paid, it’s tough when they hit their draws. If they have one heart to go, they’re calling, even if they’re getting horrible odds for it.
I have been very successful staying within myself and just playing the cards.
The hand played out when I got my A. But it was the A of hearts, and of course, that made the guy’s flush. I ended up down for the night, not by much, but down nonetheless, after the crying call on the river.
He was playing suited connectors, and no one raised him off them, so he really wasn’t even being a donkey.
I doubt he would have folded to a raise.
But I’ll never know.
That’s exactly the kind of thing that many players would say was typical. They were up for the night, playing well, and then, OF COURSE the guy hit his flush and ruined your great hand. They can’t win, they say, and when will this losing streak end?
I was chirpng that a bit, but I realize, bad luck, last night, was only a small part of my current woes.
Losing streaks start when you take a few bad beats. They hang around when you get scared and fail to take advantage of situtaions that may help you dig your way out.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


When the going was good in poker, the game seemed as easy as a hike through mountain meadows.
Now it seems as trecherous as a minefield.
My bankroll has taken many hits lately. I have KK and an A flops. BOOM! I get AA, as I do last night against KK, and a K falls on the turn. BOOM! I get AA today and a donkey calls my raise with Q,2 soooooted and then calls my all in with a flush draw. The heart falls on the river. BOOM!
I probably shouldn’t have written that post about my fitty-cent move up. It made it seem like things were going well. Honestly, this has been the most frustrating month of poker in my life. If I would have won, instead of lost, when I was at least an 80 percent favorite heading to the river, my bankroll would be plumped by another half.
Instead, BOOM!
I know this is variance after a wonderful February, but the thing that is most frustrating to me, right now, is I rarely sucked out in that month. It’s just that my opponents didn’t hit their miracles. The odds held up, and I was rewarded for my good moves.
Now I’m getting my limbs blown off for them.
All kinds of thoughts go through my head during a streak like this. Here are a few:
• I hate poker. Imagine any other game when you lost every time you made the right move. Would you continue to play it?
• Maybe I’m not playing enough hands. Maybe I’m playing too many. Maybe this is why most players don’t make money, and maybe I’ll lose all my bankroll.
I don’t want to lose my bankroll. I’ve worked very hard for it.
• I’ve moved back down to .25 NL. Sorry, but I can’t take these hits at the .50 NL. When things start to look normal again, I’ll play higher. Not right now.
• Poker sucks.
I woke up at 4 a.m. last night frustrated. I don’t want poker to dominate my life.
I’m almost haunted by poker right now.
The problem with being a good player — and I do think I can call myself that — is you never really get to experience the joy of sucking out on others. You don’t get to steal money because you’re usually in with the best of it. In other words, you just need the odds to hold up. That means when they do, you simply nod your head and sigh instead of experience any sort of elation. When they don’t, it’s crushing.
The highs, in other words, aren’t very high, but the lows are terribly, painfully low.
Aren’t drugs the same way in the throes of an addiction?
In fact, the only way I’ve kept my sanity is the realization that I’m a much better player than I was even three months ago. Almost all of my big losses this month have come with me being in with the best of it, usually by a 4-1 or even a 5-1 favorite. When I suffered through my last major losing streak, in December, I couldn’t say that. I lost to better hands most of the time, to trips when I had two pair, to flushes when I had straights, etc.
If I continue to get my money in with the best of it, I’ll avoid the landmines, and my bankroll will start to heal, right?
I have too soon. I’ve only got so many limbs left.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Well, since I had my great virgin night at .50 NL, I've done nothing but lose, lose and lose.
The losses haven't been bad. I'm still ahead at the .50 NL level. But they've been higher per session than I'm used to. And I would love to say that they were the result of suckouts and bad beats, but they were not. I couldn't get away from QQ on one bad hand, even when K,K was on the board, and in another, I had top two pair with K,Q and yet when an obvious straight card came down, I refused to fold. What's even worse is I allowed the guy to draw to the one card he needed because my bet after the flop was very weak, a greedy, tiny bet that was just a hope for more money later on.
These are the kinds of calls I avoided during my great month of February. But I think these last three weeks are getting to me a little bit. Lately I've been extremely card dead, so I think I"m being pussy for not playing any hands, so I play hands I shouldn't, and when I finally get a hand, it looks like A,A, even if it's K,Q, and I can't get away from them. OR I get a great hand and get beat by a better one.
I could just accept these as variance, and after winning a SnG today, I reminded myself that patience, patience, patience is my weapon, that you are very good at picking your spots for aggression. But now that I'm playing at the .50 NL level, every mistake gets magnified, and I've started to question myself yet again.
I even moved back down to .25 NL in the hopes that the late Saturday night players would be drunk and foolish at that level, but I actually lost a couple bucks. My only consolation is I'm working on another bonus, so at least I'm clearing points.
Repeat this after me: I really can play. Honest. Seriously.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

We're a movin' on up...

So I finally dug my balls way out from in my throat, pulled them out, coated them in steel and moved up to the .50 NL cash game tables last night.
This will, most likely, also mean I will move up to $10 SnGs, although I'll probably still take cracks at $5 30-persons and MTTs.
And just as I was staring around in wonder at all the big chip stacks (wow, $100!), I pick up A,K UTG.
View Previous hand for this table.

Texas Hold'em $0.50-$0.50 NL (Real Money), #222,769,603
Table Erlangen, 9 Mar 2006 10:34 PM ET

Seat 1: amun-ra ($46.45 in chips)
Seat 2: BamBam58 ($112.75 in chips)
Seat 3: x jermdawg x ($51.30 in chips)
Seat 4: LSU235 ($12.45 in chips)
Seat 5: Stegelhare ($40.35 in chips)
Seat 6: UFMatt3 ($38.25 in chips)
Seat 7: phickshun ($59.20 in chips)
Seat 8: kenster07 ($40.20 in chips)
Seat 9: SCFS777 ($48.40 in chips)
Seat 10: Pokerpeaker5 ($50 in chips)

SCFS777 posts blind ($0.25), Pokerpeaker5 posts blind ($0.50).

amun-ra folds, BamBam58 calls $0.50, x jermdawg x folds, LSU235 folds, Stegelhare folds, UFMatt3 calls $0.50, phickshun folds, kenster07 folds, SCFS777 folds, Pokerpeaker5 checks.

FLOP [board cards 3S,JS,KH ]
Pokerpeaker5 bets $1, BamBam58 bets $2, UFMatt3 folds, Pokerpeaker5 calls $1.

TURN [board cards 3S,JS,KH,AC ]
Pokerpeaker5 bets $2, BamBam58 bets $4, Pokerpeaker5 bets $4, BamBam58 calls $2.

RIVER [board cards 3S,JS,KH,AC,5C ]
Pokerpeaker5 bets $15, BamBam58 calls $15.

Pokerpeaker5 shows [ AH,KS ]
BamBam58 mucks cards [ JD,3C ]
Pokerpeaker5 wins $46.75.

Dealer: kenster07
Pot: $47.75, (including rake: $1)
amun-ra, loses $0
BamBam58, loses $23.50
x jermdawg x, loses $0
LSU235, loses $0
Stegelhare, loses $0
UFMatt3, loses $0.50
phickshun, loses $0
kenster07, loses $0
SCFS777, loses $0.25
Pokerpeaker5, bets $23.50, collects $46.75, net $23.25

It was as if the Poker Gods were not only apologizing for all the nut-smashing beats I've taken this week, they were saying I belonged here and gave me a nice pot to boost my confidence right away.

Just a few hands later, I pick up AA in EP and raise $2.
And I get re-raised by a guy directly to my left with $60.
I have nearly $75 at this point.
OK, ecstasy, right? Of course, except this is exactly how the last two nights have gone, AA early in the session, I push a bit, they push more, I push harder and they go all in. Only I lost those last two, both times when they sucked out on me on the river and even when I flopped a set.
My heart thumps. If I lose this pot, I'd probably move back down to .25 NL and lick my wounds the rest of the month.
All numbers, no flush, no straight draw.
He shows K,K.
And suddenly I have about $125.
Now, understand that since October, I've had many good nights, some great ones and a couple dream nights.
But the most I've cleared in one night, profit, was $60.
So now do I hit and run or really see if I can play?
I stay to help clear more bonus points.
I win another pot when I raise someone out of it, but for the most part, the next hour and a half is uneventful, and I am down to $110.
Then I pick up J,10 sooted and decide to play it. I've played lke three hands in an hour.
I flop the nut straight with a rainbow.
Thank you.
And my next hand I pick up A,K again, 5,5,3 so I bet the pot, guy calls, bet again, guy calls, check, check.
I lose one hand, when the guy spikes his club on the river with 7,5, but I leave with $125.
My best night ever.
The Carpenters goes through my head...
"We've only just live."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Why do losing streaks come in sets?

Poker is a skill game, right?
You get your money in with the best hand, and most of the time, you win, right?
If you're 80 percent to win by the river, you'll win four of those five hands, right?
Not if you're on a losing streak.
I've lost 10 percent of my bankroll in the last two days on Hollywood Poker, and though that doesn't seem like a lot, it's enough to sicken me, as if I've just downed a fifth of Jack (Jacks did me in once) and some Coors Light silver bullets (AA loses twice, once to 10,6 os) all at once.
I've only played for real money since October, so on my past losing streaks, they were partly my fault, like losing with a flush to a paired board, losing two pair to a hidden set or going all in with A,K and losing to AA.
And yes, I have made a couple tilted calls, like pushing with J,J and losing to Q,Q or chasing one flush draw down and not getting it.
But I've lost 75 percent of my money on five hands, and on all five of those hands, I was at least a 75 percent favorite by the river, and every time the river fucked me.
It's been a horrible week. Even in the $2.25 tournaments at work, I'm getting spiked.
So my question is, it's mathmatically impossible for "streaks" to really happen, right? I mean, what are the odds, really, of four of the worst suckouts youve had against you happening in two nights? Do I have a shorty memory? No. I can't remember the last time my full house lost to a spiked four of a kind on the river, for instance. I can't remember when A,A lost to 10,6, as I did last night on an all in after he re-raised me twice.
OK, enough whining.
Why does it happen?
Why do we fall into losing streaks after playing winning poker for more than two months? After the game, quite frankly, seemed so easy we contemplated moving up a level or two?
I have some theories based on what's happened the last couple of days:
• Beckoning sirens — I haven't been card dead, as I was last week and only lost $5 in ring play for the week (and more than made up for it in tournament play). My starting hands have been beauties, with full, bouncy boobs, soft, whispery voices and a hell of a tail. AA four times, JJ, KK, QQ, A,Q and A,K, along with other pairs, three of which flopped sets.
I lost with most of them. AA twice when it flopped a set.
It takes amazing discipline to fold great hands, the kind you see in Navy Seals, and when you're losing, the siren's call of "you'll be back to where you were if you win this hand" is just too hard to resist. When you already have a healthy stack in front of you, you can fold almost anything, at least I can. I showed remarkable discipline during my winning streak. I once folded KK two weeks ago because I knew the other guy had AA. He showed them to me after I folded. I folded flopped sets because my kicker wasn't high enough, and every time, I was right. I folded a flush to a full house.
Now? No way do I fold that KK. And it would have cost me another buy-in, and the spiral would have continued.
• Confidence — You can't raise a guy off his hand because, after all, he'll just suck out against you or he's got it already, right? You always think that way. Why stick with a hand? He's got it! My top pair isn't good enough...
Calls or moves we would normally make are not options in a losing streak. Not only do I play like a pussy, I play like a tiny little worm penis, just hoping even a stinky carp will take pity on it and take him home for the night.
• Beaten down — Dieters will call it the what the hell day, a day when they eat that extra cake, drink that extra beer and skip their workouts because they've already done the damage. Mike Caro calls it the point of no return, or something like that, when you've lost so much money that you don't care if you lose another buy in or two.
I have been remarkably disciplined during losing streaks to quit when I'm down a buy in, subscribing to Greenstein's theory that when you quit when you are losing, you're ahead for the next game. That has prevented my bankroll from looking like an extra in "Saving Private Ryan" in the D-Day scene. But I am guilty of tilting off the rest of my buy-in after I've lost a huge pot to suckout. I just bet off the last $6-10 so I can reload. Even when you do that, you've lost a lot more than you normally would.
You start to become the sick gambler in Phil Gordon's book, the guy who not only expects to lose but wants to so he can revel in his own misery.
• Injustice — Surely I've been a good boy, right? I've folded instead of chased, gotten my money in with the best hand and waited all night for this hand to come, so I deserve to win, right?
No. Poker is a cruel, unfeeling game. It doesn't care that the guy called your raise with A,3 and hit his 3 on the river. It laughs at such pain, actually, and asks for another buy-in, like that big plant asking Seymour for just a little more blood. So you continue to call, thinking that the scales will finally tip your way just because you deserve it. In fact, you might even call, saying to yourself you deserve a suckout. It's your turn, you say.
Nobody deserves anything in poker.
Of course, at the end of the night, I won a huge hand with K,K, and finished $25 ahead, so I actually broke even for the night.
Guess it was my turn.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Variance is a cold, hard bitch

Never, ever shave while playing poker.
I'll explain why in a second.
You've read plenty of bad beat posts. You won't see specifics here, but let's just say variance decided to put on a some steel-toed boots and kick me square in the nuts a few times last night.
When it was all done, I was down two $25 buy-ins.
That's the most Ive lost in a night, I think.
It's been a long time, at least.
February was a terrific month, probably way better than it should have been, so I know this is what we call a correction.
And I know, wah wah wah. I can hear all of you telling me to suck it up.
OK, sure. I know.
The thing about bad streaks, though, is they keep resurfacing when you think they are over to snatch out your heart, hold it up for the natives and throw it into the fire.
Last week I was card dead before a Friday session put me at a loss for the week.
I can handle card dead.
Who can't?
But it wasn't too bad until tonight.
• A beautiful set of 10s ruined by a spade on the river (meanwhile, the person raised me twice and called my all in with merely the draw and then tried to justify it, saying he had a 50 percent chance of making it on the river, um, no, donkey, you didn't, but please keep believing that and what was your name again so I can take it down?).
• K,K ruined when a guy calls me with J,9 (top pair on the board, but...) and a 9 comes on the river.
Bye bye $25 after those two.
• I get J,J. I don't like J,J a ton but I do raise, and the Flush 50 percent guy raises me all in with his last $5. He is wild (yeah, surprise, he donked off all my money), so I call, WTF, and he has QQ.
OK, that's only $5. I've got $20.
I'm not really thinking turn it around. That's danger talk. I'm thinking cut it in half. Cut the losses tonight in half. Or at least work off a bunch of points and just break even.

So I run into a card dead session, which, when you think about it, makes sense, since I was getting great hands, even if they were getting torn apart.
So for an hour and a half, I put up with 8,3; 9,2; 10,2; K,3; etc, etc., etc.,
Well, at least I'm not losing money.

So I go into the bathroom to shave and let the poor hands keep being dealt.
I hear the chirping but I ignore it until curiousity gets the best of me.
I run in.
And see A,A.

Being automatically folded.
Because I didn't get there a second too early.

So I do get 5,4 two pair, a BB special, and I make a little off that. Then I get A,K, and a K flops, and I get a little more off that, and I'm back up to $25.

OK, well, not bad, I think, as I almost finish shaving.

Then AA appears again.
So I raise $1 and get four callers.
9,4,3 comes down.
They all fold to my $2 bet except for one. He raises me.
OK, would a guy really have a pocket pair?
Maybe, but I have to push with this.
Raise, raise, raise, he shoves his $21 in, and I call, hoping he has A,9.
He has 4,4.
But then...
An A appears on the turn.

Finally, justice. Finally, I get to suck out on someone instead of the other way around. Finally. This will make up for all the losses tonight. It won't be that bad of a night at all, actually. Just a few bucks after those brutal beats? I can handle that, I mean, what's a few bucks, right?
It's nothing, I can...
what was that river card?

A 4.

And I'm glad we don't use straight razors anymore to shave.

Thoughts for the day

• Poker continues to go well at the full tables. I've raised my starting hand requirements, as probably 75 percent of the time there's a raise either before or after I play (sometimes I'm the one raising), but that's gone fine. In fact, I'm reading "The Theory of Poker" by Skalansky, and he said the lower the ante, the fewer hands you should play. Given that most of the .25 NL tables are pretty wild anyway, and that you should play the opposite of your table, my tight-tight aggressive style seems to fit this perfectly, given these two points.
• SnGs are also going well, I'm cashing most of the time, which leads me to think I'm just going to have to suck it up and start playing $10 ones. I'm told there's no difference, but I just can't quite pull the trigger. I have friends who play on my level who crush the $20 tournaments, so I suppose I should look at that as well.
• I'm clearing my fifth bonus at Hollywood Poker. Hollywood consistently offers reload bonuses, so I just take my SnG profits from Pokerroom and deposit every month. I'm a big believer in getting paid to play, and Hollywood so far has satisfied that.
The only problem is it forces me to play rings a little bit too much, and my dial-up doesn't allow me to two-table very well, so after next month, I'll take a break.
I wish I could two-table. I find myself getting bored and not paying as close attention as I should. This hasn't really affected my play, as I won't change my style at this low level, but I'd bet two-tabling would help me focus even more, as crazy as that sounds.
I'm also wondering if maybe I should move up...maybe a move up would interest me more.
Maybe if I get my bankroll on Hollywood to another $100 beyond. I made almost $400 in February, so I don't see a reason to push it.
• I've often wondered how much luck people need to win even a SnG? I have to have cards, but I also usually only need the same amount of hands that others expect. In other words, I don't need an exceptional run to win. I also notcied that I rarely suck out against others anymore.
But I also need for my opponent to not have great luck, like flopping small two pair when I have A,K and an A comes down, or sucking out on me. I did not do well in my SnGs last week, and the reason for that is took a major suckout like five times in five tournaments.
• Happy Tuesday!!!