Friday, December 30, 2011

Know When to Quit (not alcohol related)

This is probably the last post for 2011.  There’s just too much football on tap for the next couple of days to spend much time at the keyboard, and…well, I plan to take a few days off of poker for other reasons, which is the subject of this post.

Knowing when to quit is a useful skill for so many things, including playing poker.  Plenty of scribes besides myself suggest that one should only play when one WANTS TO and is in good mental condition.  To play while “on tilt” is recognized as something everyone should avoid.  And yet, so many succumb to play when they shouldn’t.  Tilt or no, your mental state of mind is important in playing your best, and you are less likely to win when you’re not playing your best.

I mentioned in the last post about a series of bad beats, and one or two of these, while depressing, should not be considered enough to put one in a horrible mental condition.  That is, unless you let it.  I’ve always been a level headed person, not prone to panic, always thoughtful and careful in planning (and execution).  So when bad beats happen, I usually shrug them off, take notes, do my homework, (see last post), and get back to playing good poker.  Usually.

But this week has been a bit different.  The spouse has been under the weather, and the weather here has taken a turn for the rainy worse. On Tuesday, I decided to play some short-handed turbos to practice my ability to read players and to gauge their skills (and mine) in determining proper pot odds.  Since short-handed turbos tend to feature a lot of poor “all-in” play at the lower levels (more for scaring opponents than actually challenging them), I thought I could also pick up some easy money.

I’d play well until some fateful hand where two of us would tangle in what eventually became an “all-in” affair, and I always had the best of it until the last card, when I made a quick trip to the rail (or was so crippled that the rail soon appeared in my sights).  Four tables in a row I was favored, and in all four I met defeat.  I decided to end my scheduled two-hour session early, and planned to make a comeback on Wednesday.

And the first two tables on Wednesday brought more calamities.  First table: four players left (of the original six), me with pocket aces on the button, and I raise twice the BB.  Small blind is chip leader, and pushes all in.  Everyone folds back to me, and of course, I call.  Bully has Q-4 offsuit, and the flop brings…nothing rainbow!  A 10, 7, and 3 of different suits, and there’s only one way I can lose.  Yup, Queen-Queen giving him trips.

Second table, down to three players (two are paid) and I’m the chip leader on the button with pocket deuces.  I limp, the small blind completes, and the big blind (the bully) checks).  The flop brings 10-7-2 (eerily similar, huh?), giving me trips.  Small blind check, Bully bets two-thirds the pot, and I raise.  Small blind folds, bully goes all in.  I figure he MIGHT have a set, too, but most likely has either a pair of tens with a good kicker, maybe two pair, or maybe a diamond flush draw, as the 7-2 are both diamonds.  I have him covered, but barely…and I call.  He only has one diamond, the 10, with a King kicker, so I am way ahead.  The turn brings another 10, giving him trips, but I now have a full house, twos over tens.  Only pairing the 7 on the board or his King kicker gives him a better house and the hand.  And of course, the river would be the king (hey, that’s the title of this blog!  Coincidence?  Yes.).

I was down to less than the cost of the blinds and was quickly eliminated, and instead of signing up for the next table…I quit.  I was in no mood to continue to play, even though I lost not because of playing poorly, but by bad luck.  Still, I knew a change was in order.

I spent some time nursing the sick spouse, made dinner, and wrote some notes on the subject of bad beats.  Returning to the computer on Thursday I found Tom Leonard’s column on bad beats, and instead of playing poker, I wrote about it.  I then continued my poker moratorium and wrote this one.  And vowed not to play (for money) until 2012.

Every now and then one needs to start refreshed.  Sharp   Mentally alert.  I realized I could not do that unless I took some time to collect myself and come back to the game once these beats were exorcised.  Writing about them is actually cathartic for me, and so, come next week, I plan to be raring to go.  Hope you are too (unless you’re at the same table), so here’s to a great new year for us all.

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