Playing poker while tired, physically or mentally, is dangerous.
But sometimes I need poker to relax.
It sounds funny, poker can be and should be intense, but at times it's also a nice way to end the day. If that costs me a couple bucks because I haven't analyzed a hand enough to see through that guy's bluff, so be it.
So I sat down to a .25 NL cash game last night, after a softball game when it rained THE ENTIRE TIME and a 15-mile, mini-marathon is staring at me, in the face, at a time when I've rarely felt so worn-down, tired and just plain dead.
Maybe I overtrained. It's possible. Maybe I'm just sore from softball, the first two games of the new season. That's possible as well. Maybe I'm just worn down mentally, from considering giving one of our dogs away and dealing with a situation I don't want to get into right now (it involves ebay and an undelivered computer) and selling our home and trying to do all this while raising an active 10-month-old who thinks he MUST explore every inch of every open door, cabinet or toliet.
Then again, I may have just been pissed and down after bubbling out of a $10 SnG and a completely frustrating last half when my cards were deader than the cast of "Night of the Living Dead." My play was lamer than that analogy. The other two guys were raising, raising, raising, pounding my stack into nothing, and yet, when challenged, they would back off. Whenever I had any scrap of a hand, J,10, Q,9, K,8, even 8,7, I would pound back, but more often than not, they would raise me when I had 4,9 or 8,3 in my blind. That means, of course, that even if they are bullshitting, they probably have you beat. It's the most frustrating feeling in poker, at least it is for me, a tight-aggressive player who prefers to make a move with a good hand rather than bluff and push with bad ones.
I finally get another scrap of a hand, A,5, after three blind levels, and I have to push, and I do, and the guy flips over A,K.
Anyway, so after an hour of X-box to decompress, I went back to poker, to my cash game, still exhausted but not on tilt.
I was whining about my cash game, at least in my head. These last two months, I have scraped together enough winning sessions to make a profit for the month (I was ahead $50 in April, who-hoo), but I've also had lots of losing sessions.
Here's what I was whining about in my head:
"I'm a tight player, especially in cash games. I never seem to lose a lot. The problem is, I never seem to win a lot, either. So many other players, bad ones, walk away with these $75 takes (200 BB). I'm happy to scratch out $5 profit for the night. Lately I'm either raised out of a decent hand or not called when I raise with a good hand. My hands also never seem to hit the flop. Maybe I'm not playing enough hands. Wait, I play sooted connectors, my blinds, any pocket pair, As down to A-7, Ks down to K-10 and a few other fliers. So is that too tight? I don't think so.
But there are so many players playing crap all the time, and with so many players in every hand, they don't mind the gamble. Is Poker really a glorified lottery? Is it really a skill game? How can anyone call a 7-hand game a skill game?"
My game plan is always to not lose a whole lot and wait for the big score.
I was down another $2 when I got Q,J hearts. I call. Three other players call. The last guy raises another .25. In an effort to loosen my game up, as I have lately, I call.
One card can be me at this point, and only if it's paired with another hand.
One guy bets $5.
I call, taking a small risk, but hoping that the third guy calls.
He raises all in for his $25, a full buy-in.
Sweet. If he has the K and another heart, I suppose he deserves a payoff.
The third guy calls.
The pot is $66, or more than 300 BB.
10 diamonds, 8 spades.
One guy turns over 10,9 of hearts.
Last guy turns over a set of 4s.
I love my style. I love my game.
I love poker.
And I'm awake.
Today I'm tired, but that pot still brings a smile to my face. Maybe it will give me a little more energy Sunday.