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.

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