Friday, May 30, 2008

No Expectations, No Disappointments

Earlier this week while holding 7,8 suited I flopped a straight flush draw at the Venetian. A gentleman who raised preflop to create the $75 pot that sits between us all, pushes the rest of his stack in. It's only $65 more. This is what I call a good situation. Playing this hand is the reason I've left my home during the week at some strange hour to come down to the Strip.

My ego would love to raise here. Who doesn't? It builds self esteem. Saying the word "raise" is good for the soul. But tonight I gotta show patience because I need another player, preferably someone with chips, to hang around in case I hit my draw. The last thing I want is to isolate the all in guy with my 8 high.

The human being with sunglasses to my left fulfills my unmet need and calls the $60. Thank you sir. A raise would have been fine but I'll take the call. If he wasn't wearing sunglasses I might guess he was on a draw. Unable to see his eyes, I attempt to confuse him and check the turn in the dark!

(How can he possibly handle my check in the dark while wearing sunglasses? I must be thinking on at least two levels here.)

A rag comes out and he checks behind me.

For those of you keeping score at home there's still no side pot to play for. Just the main pot that one of us is going to have to showdown to win against the all in guy.

I miss again on the river and am done with the hand. I have 8 high. I check and get ready to muck. The player to my left bets 75. I fold.

And then here comes the punchline. The guy to my left smiles and shows me his bluff! He bet $75 on the river with 8 high. Meanwhile the entire pot still goes to the all in guy who reveals pocket queens.

Now some of you might be wondering why this fellow to my left bet $75 with 8 high to get me to fold. It's an excellent question.

Why would the guy to my left bet $75 on the river with 8 high when he is only getting called if he is beat?

Yep. Still an excellent question.

Even in italics.

What can I say?

Uh....these are the players I play with?

When we make the film The Vegas Year, we'll have me raise him on the river with my 8 high and watch him lay down and lose the pointless $75 he just chose to bet.

Okay. I'll try to defend him. Maybe it wasn't pointless. What if the all in guy doesn't have queens? Maybe he has 3,5 off suit and the guy to my left just made the best play possible by getting me to fold my 8 high so that he won't have to chop the pot.


Who am I kidding? This type of play can only mean one thing. The WSOP poker tournament has come to town. It starts today at the Rio. The first event is underway as I type this. There are already fresh 2008 World Series of Poker bad beat stories going around!

I'm a different player than last year and a much different player than two years ago. I've become more right brained at the poker table. Logic is still there. But now I'm not embarrassed to call with a mediocre hand. I'm not scared to trust my read. I'm not worried about looking stupid at the table.

My ego is bigger. My expectations are smaller. Two years ago I needed to cash in a tournament to prove to myself that I knew what I was doing. I don't feel that pressure anymore. Whether or not I cash in a tournament won't decide how good or bad I am at poker. My being better at this game doesn't mean that I always win. Heck it doesn't even mean I always play well.

But according to our Zen coach Phil Jackson, a lack of expectations is a good thing.

"No expectations, no disappointments. "

That's what Phil said before the Lakers went into Utah a few weeks ago.

His words make even more sense in poker.

I can't expect things to happen.

I can only make the best decision for myself at that moment in time.

There is no should.

I'm a positive person but I can't expect anything specific to happen at the poker table.

Except of course, the unexpected.


MorningThunder said...

rru dat

Weak Player said...

Just started reading your blog; I love the way you write.