Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Honeymoon Ends

Last night I got my first real taste of what undoubtedly stops many professional poker careers from really taking flight; variance and, to a small extent I admit, tilt. I spent the first half of my day taking my dog to the vet. As it turns out, Tyson has arthritis and bone spurs in both elbows and is going to at least be on medication for the rest of his life. If things don't improve, he'll eventually need surgery that will be expensive and possibly not even fix the problem. He's still a pretty happy dog though, as you can see on the left.

Now on the harsh reality of my poker session. I sat down at the Garden City 20 game just after 5pm, and by 5:20 had lost my first rack of chips ($500). Things continued to go from bad to worse, and I feel like this hand illustrates truly what was going on. In it I basically gave up on the river, not betting my Ace high, and my opponent tabled an identical hand for half the pot. How he called me on the turn is beyond me. In another hand I raised on the button with KJ of spades, and we saw a flop like 6 handed. The player on my immediate right bet the flop, I raised because the flop was T22 with one spade, and one other player called. They both checked to me on the turn, which was a J, so I gladly bet. Again they both checked the river, which was a K, and I bet, and they both called. The UTG opponent rolled 52 for an incredibly horribly played set of twos and I had to table change.

The next table went little better. I will spare you the gory details, but on at least 1 occasion I made a very bad call down where I should have been able to save at least 80 dollars, and on one occasion, after realizing I had been playing aggressively, I played a hand too passively and probably cost myself 40 dollars (although not nearly so much "in the long run" as the play was pretty close to sound). Down down 3 racks ($1500), I stood up and left after 3.5 hours of punishment at 8:30.

But wait, there's more

So a normal person, after a beating like that, would simply go home, have a beer, and get some sleep. I decided that a 45 minute break would be enough to put me back on track, so I called over the Bay 101 and put my name on the list. By 9:30 I was in a game, and by 10:15 I was up 700, hitting every flop perfectly, including raising with AQ and seeing the board run out AAK-A-4 (yes that's quad Aces) and then being dealt AA on the very next hand (my opponent comments "that's 6 aces in two hands!").

Being a rational mathematical person, however, I did not get up to protect my win. A few months ago I would have called it quits, on the grounds that an 800 dollar loss is quite manageable and I should leave on a high note. Instead, I soldiered on, and found myself at a fantastic table. The player on my immediate right was playing every single pot (I counted. 20 straight pots he entered. He was getting to the river at least half the time) and I hadn't even had to change seats to get the spot. After getting check/raised on the turn 3 times in a row while in the betting lead, this shit happened:

3 limps and bad player on my right raises. I call red 6s on the button (some would argue for a re-raise here, but isolating this player was impossible, as others at the table were also playing very fast and loose. I can profitably play this hand from the button for 2 bets in a 6 or 7 handed pot, so I cold-called). Here comes the pain.

6 players, 12 small bets ($240)

458 two hearts (remember I have the 6 of hearts, which helps a lot).

Checked to the player on my right who bets. I call only, as I don't think raising is really going to narrow the field and this player is very passive. His raise preflop and bet into 5 opponents means he is very likely to hold a big pair. I, however, have 6 outs against this big pair and the pot is laying me almost twice the price I need to draw. An early position player now raises, two players fold, and a middle position player 3-bets. Player on my right calls....there are now 21 bets in the pot (12 preflop, and 9 more already here) and I'm being asked to put 2 more in. Without the 6 of hearts I would fold, but with it both my "set" outs are clean and I figure I have to continue. Unless someone flopped a straight I really can continue. So I call, the EP player caps it (yikes) and we all call

4 players, 14 big bets ($560)

458-7 still just two hearts

This is what I refer to as "gin". EP player bets, MP player raises, terrible player on my right finally folds, and I go into the tank for a second. Ready for this logic?

1. They both had big hands on the flop, as one of them capped it and the other ran a check/3-bet line that indicates a monster. Therefore neither of them can hold 96 (the current nuts). This is pretty obvious, as they simply couldn't put in that kind of action on the flop with that hand unless it was suited in hearts.

2. I hold the 6 of hearts. Therefore, nobody can be free-rolling me. What I mean by this is that it is impossible for anyone to have a flush draw AND a straight, as that would require specifically holding the 6 of hearts.

Therefore, I 3-bet what I am convinced is currently at least tied as the best hand. The EP player calls rather disgustedly and I'm excited. He almost certainly has a set or a heart draw and I'm tied up with the MP player. The EP player has probably 20-25% equity in this situation (a flush draw would have 8 outs, a set would have 10 outs) so even if MP has a straight as well I'm in good shape.

3 players, 26 big bets ($1040)

River comes...Q of hearts. EP bets, we both call, and EP tables 78 of hearts for a flush. On the turn he held top-two pair and a flush draw, giving him 11 outs (the 8 hearts I did not hold, plus 3 outs to make a full house...MP held 68, taking out one of those) out of 42 unknown cards, giving him 27% equity. EZ game right?

I leave Bay 101 down 419 dollars (remember I was up 700 at one point) and am pretty upset with myself. I feel like I might have tilted on a few occasions and should have been able to recognize that I was tired (it had been a long and stressful day) and wasn't playing optimally. However, I'd convinced myself that even my B game had a positive expectation in that game, and therefore I stayed a bit too long.

I'm considering implementing a stop loss for myself, a point at which I can't play any more for the day. The reason for this would simply be that beyond a certain loss point I'm not capable of playing my best poker and should just pack it in. More details to follow.

Session result: -1958


Lucas said...

Dude, sorry about the loss. 50BB is tough but nothing that shoudl weigh you down for the next session. I myself use a stop loss for live play of 50BB (I usually sit down with the whole amount).

Steve said...

Why do you table change when you had the UTG horribly play the 5 2 set? Shouldn't you love to be at that table? This is inconsistent with your later reasoning of staying at Bay 101 because of the juiciness of the game.