Friday, November 05, 2010


With my stack in the 12k range I pick up 8,9 suited in early position and raise to 500. 

Loose aggressive player to my left makes it 1800.

It gets folded back around to me.

1300 to win 2600 but more importantly the villain began the hand with approximately 10k.  We expect him to continue bet the flop at which point he will have committed a decent percent of his stack.  So from my seat in the world's largest poker room my implied odds appear to be approximately win his stack.

Moments like these are known in poker as a good time to flop a monster.

Flop comes queen, 8, 2.  

I check. 

He pushes all in.




All legitimate reactions. 

Later on I spoke to a rocket scientist about this hand and it was his belief that the villain either holds a big pair or is completely bluffing.  It's analysis like this that earns guys like that the big bucks.  

Why did the villain push all in?  Plenty of folks play their monsters this way on the internet.  They over bet and hope their bully move subtly taunts you into making a bad call.  These players try to get paid off by casting you as the unbelieving table cop in the independent film that doubles as their life.

Me?  I think he has ace king.  If he really has a monster there's no need to force me out of the hand.  This guy doesn't want to bet the flop and risk giving me the chance to raise.  So he pushes all in to take away any response on my part.  Other than my calling all in for most of my stack.  And who likes to do that?  

If I am correct that he has ace king then math loudly says I should call.  Oh sure I will have to survive the turn and river but there are great benefits if my hand holds.  My stack will be up over 20k and have enough chips to start snowballing.  I can fulfill my destiny and upset people by playing too many hands.  In fact making this call is exactly how I hyped "myself to myself" driving to Vegas.  I told myself I would play fearlessly, trust my gut and build up my stack or be done.  Well here's the moment big shot poker player.  Here's my chance to show everyone how good I am by calling this all in with middle pair after my opponent's actions have done nothing but insist that he has the best hand.     

If I am wrong I will needlessly give away most of my chips during level 100/200.  If I call and he turns over pocket kings boy will I feel silly.  An aura of shame will surround me.  I will be forced into drastic life changes.  I will obviously have to change my name.  Plastic surgery will be a consideration.  I probably won't have to fake my death again but minimally I will have to move a few thousand miles away and start a new blog.  I will miss playing poker but maybe I can start playing bridge?

I absolutely struggle with the decision.   Do I really want to move again?

If this was the river I think I trust my read and call. 

If the question is simply "am I ahead right now?" I would take the chance.

However I can't get past the consideration that if he is bluffing with ace king this villain still has a 25% chance of winning the hand.  The universe will still reward his awesome playing style 1 out of every 4 times he does this. Even when I make the correct call.  And something in me feels this coming.  

I suppose this is where poker becomes so tough mentally.  To get oneself ahead in a hand 75%-25% is a dream.  It's more than ideal.  Yet 25% happens all the time.  There are 250 hitters in baseball.  People also usually aren't rushing into having an operation that has a 25% fatality rate.   

And yet the way gambling works, anytime you can have disaster occur only 25% of the time you jump at the chance.

So if I am ahead I can call and my hand holds up 75% of the time.   Or I am behind, call and probably give away most of my stack which I am lucky and grateful to have accumulated. 

It's a 3 day tournament. 

I fold.

Villain flashes me a king as he mucks, purposely showing me a card that did not connect.  He wants me to believe he didn't have it.  That he folded ace king.   So perhaps he did have kings the whole time and was doing the internet over bet discussed above.  Or he got his chips in with ace king and got me to fold.  King queen would certainly be another option.  He could have raised with it preflop. Lots of players do that to find out if the other has ace king.  Then he got lucky hitting the queen and tried to make it seem like he was stealing.  All 3 scenarios are possible.  That's why we have rocket scientists.  And hole cams.  So we can figure this stuff out. 

In life sometimes our orbitofrontal cortex makes decisions for us.

Mine told me to fold.

Even though my ego really wanted to gamble.