Sunday, May 27, 2007


I know one hand doesn't effect the next one. The cards have no memory.

At least that's how I stand on the record.

But off the record?

"You got to know when to walk away and know when to run."

Kenny Rogers knows what he's talking about. And not just about gambling. His wisdom is why he also has a successful chain of chicken restaurants. It's no secret chicken is a solid product to invest in. Because it tastes like chicken. In some parts of the world tasting like chicken can mean knowing that you're not eating human.

But I digress.

Know when to walk away and know when to run.

There was a point today when I knew I was done. I knew my time at the table was over. I could feel it in my bones. I needed to run.

It had all started out well. I sat down with 200 and was up to 500 in just an hour and a half.

I was making good decisions. And nothing went horribly wrong. I even got lucky to win a pot with an 8 high flush beating my opponents 7 high flush. Now that's running well.

But then it all fell apart. Here's the hand that changed my afternoon.

I limp in from late position with 6 8 suited. Flop is 5,7,9.

Sure there are two diamonds on the board and yes they aren't my suit but what else could possibly go wrong?

Guy in the blinds leads out for 15. Maybe he has a pair. Solid woman across from me calls the 15. Maybe she has a draw. Now this is a moment where I'm supposed to raise. I have to be holding the best hand right now. Obviously I may not have the best hand after we see two more cards. If the board pairs or another diamond comes then I'm scared.

The advantage to not raising here is I disguise my hand. If a rag comes on the turn and I make a big bet it becomes hard to put me on a straight. And I can also save money if the turn is a diamond or pairs the board and I want to get away from the hand.

The disadvantage of course to not raising here is I'd give everyone a free card.

And I can't give free cards against 2 players. So I raise it to 50. If I really wanted to get them to fold perhaps I could have made it more. 35 dollars isn't necessarily going to get someone to fold in this spot if they have a set, two pair or on a flush draw.

The initial bettor from the blinds folds to my raise. But the woman across from me calls the 35 more. The real problem for me with her call is she has a similar chip stack to mine in the 400-500 range. So when a third diamond comes on the turn I can't say I'm still in love with my straight.

She acts first and completely takes the hand away from me by leading out for 140. It's a great play. Unless I was semi bluffing on the flop with a flush draw I can't call this bet. She's completely playing my hand for me. I raised on the flop like I had something to protect. A set. A straight. Two pair. And now all those hands are vulnerable to the 3rd diamond hitting. And she's betting like she has it.

Now I'm trying to think this through. Would you really bet there if you hit the flush? Why would she want to kill her action and get me to fold?

The best I can come up with is she holds a baby flush. If true, her 140 bet represents that she is now the one protecting something. Maybe she has two small diamonds and does not want to see another diamond come on the river.

Perhaps it's just the opposite. She could be holding a big diamond and is semi bluffing in an attempt to still get paid off in case the 4th diamond comes on the river.

Either way by leading out for 140 she's forcing me to make a decision for my whole stack.

Damn. Great bet.

Part of me is dying to call. I realize she certainly could have made the exact same bet if the board paired. Although that might have been easier for me to call since her bet could just mean trips. Or a "move."

Now if either of us was a small stack I probably call and take the chance. But with 400+ behind the line I'm not about to put in all my money into a situation where I could be drawing dead.

I've only lost the 50 I put out on a the flop. It makes no sense to spend 450 to protect that initial 50.

So curiosity aside, I fold. I've made some big calls the past week or two. This felt like a fold.

The other thing for me to consider is that calling and losing my entire stack here might do much more damage to my psyche than winning a huge pot. If I'm drawing dead it will be hard to forgive myself. And the best case scenario is I'm probably racing against a single diamond or a set/two pair and praying the board doesn't pair on the river. So even if I'm right that she doesn't have a flush at the moment, I can still lose my entire stack. That's not such a great situation to get into.

I know I can make money playing easy situations against bad players. I don't need to make a great call that may or may not hold up against another solid player. I fold.

A half hour later after players keep folding to her flop bets she makes a comment about how we all respect her too much. I ask her if I respected her too much when I folded to the 3rd diamond. I had shown her my straight as I mucked.

She tells me that she had the same hand as me (6,8) with one diamond. I'm not sure I believe her since this meant she had to have limped from early position with 6,8 off suit. But if what she says is true then she was free rolling if I called. We chop 80% of the time and she wins it all by herself 20% of the time. So 80% of the time I get my money (50) back. And 20% of the time I lose my entire stack.

More important though than losing 50 dollars was that this hand seemed to pop my balloon of invincibility at this table. (Is that even a cliche? "Balloon of Invincibility?")

In the next hour I lose multiple hands where my holdings are good but not good enough. Suddenly my reraises aren't getting respect. People are sticking around to see what I have. My top pair top kicker loses to a bigger pocket pair. My pocket 10's lose to pocket jacks when my opponent doesn't go away on an ace king board. The finale is my set of 7's losing to a straight on an ace, 2, 5, 7, king board. Go do the math on that last one. The voice inside of my head was like "as long as he doesn't have 3,4 I feel pretty good here." At least I saved money and didn't reraise him on the river.

And that's exactly when I hightailed my butt right out of there.

I was "down" to only being up 100. But if I stayed I knew I'd give the rest back. Maybe even the buy in too. I wouldn't call it tilt. I was still playing good cards in good spots. I'd call it momentum. Sometimes it's with you. And sometimes it's against you.

In the past I would have sat there and taken it all and suffered it and decided it was all part of The Vegas Year. Part of my poker education.

However at this point I've learned to get the hell out of there. This ain't no tournament. Time to go.

Sure I might stay if I could bet against myself. I'd stay if they'd give me action on my hands not holding up. Like the way you can bet at craps that the roller is going to crap out before he hits his point.

It was a pretty strange experience psychologically. It feels like I lost 200 dollars. Even though I have 100 dollars more than I started the day with.

No comments: