Why you have to lose to be a good player

Sunday, February 29th, 2004, 2:33 am

I’ve been playing unconcious poker the last month. When I lose I lose a few bucks. When I win I win big. Won the tournament and then when I played after that I posted modest wins. It seemed I couldn’t lose. And, after awhile, I started to believe I couldn’t lose. Oh, I might get nailed a hand here and there, but I’d make it up with a big win down the road.

After losing $100 today I realize that Luck swings both ways. I got down a bit early, made it up, and then I got rivered on one table to lost a quick $20 and made a terrible call on another to drop another $25. I pride myself on not tilting, or not tilting so bad that I start throwing away money, but I KNEW the guy made his straight and called with my trips anyway, and that cost me $15. I hit trips on the flop, bet big, and watched a king and queen come on the turn and river. Couldn’t chase him, he caught me, and I knew it but could’t throw the hand away. It was stupid, and it made me mad at myself.

I logged off, worked on my Phil Hellmuth post, which is finally done and will be posted tomorrow (probably), and logged back on to win back some of the $50 I’d lost. i didn’t feel like I had to make it ALL back, but if I could put together a $10 win I’d feel I’d accomplished something.

Dropped another $50 in about twenty minutes. I was dealt 4s5s and called a piddly $.50 bet. Flop came 4-4-Q. I made a tiny bet and had 4 callers. A five on the turn gave me a full boat, with 2 diamonds on board. This time I checked, and called the $2 bet one of the other players made. Another diamond on the river, and I bet $4 as though I’d made my flush. One guy raised me to $10. I figured he had A-x suited, so I raised him all-in. He called–and turned over Q-4. He flopped the boat and let me drown. Lost $25 in one hand.

I bore down, played premium hands, and slowly pissed away another $10 with lousy cards. I had lousy cards all day, actually, but when I got big hands I got skunked. I had pocket kings, raised the pot, and flopped trips. Guy made his straight again, this time holding 3-6 and filling out his straight on the river. That cost me $10 or so. the hand that finally made me quit for the night was AcQc. The flop came A-8-9, with the last two cards clubs. Top pair with a flush draw. I made a small bet and was re-raised the pot. I figured the guy might have AK because he re-raised me before the flop. I called, and when no club showed on the turn I checked and he did too. A jack on the river, no club, and when I checked he bet $5. I called and he turned over AJ. Twenty bucks flushed right there.

So I dropped $100 in one day, and that hurts. My bankroll has been very robust lately, but I cashed out a bunch thinking I had plenty to play with. And I still do–a month ago I would’ve given my eye teeth to have $250 in my account. Plus Choice Poker made a boo-boo with my funds transfer from the tournament and gave me a $20 bonus, and I have the money for the next tourney entry, and Party just offered my $20 to come back and play, so that helps offset my losses today. Still, it hurt.

But I think it’ll make me a better player. It’s all come way too easy for me the last few weeks. I started to feel like I was too good for the game, and I really got smacked today. If you don’t keep your eye on the ball, if you don’t keep looking for and fixing the holes in your game, you’re wasting your time and your money. I know I got skunked today, it happens, and if you have the 2nd best boat at the table you’re gonna pay the guy off, there’s nothing else for it. But I tilted today, and that’s bad. I got lazy, and that’s worse. And I got arrogant, and that’s…well, that’s because I’ve been channelling Phil Hellmuth the last month. Christ, I don’t know how biographers spend years writing about someone. The guy’s friggin’ haunting me.

So no more poker tonight. No more poker study. Go to bed, wake up rejuevenated, let the cosmic cycles realign or whatever it was that had me jinxed, and start anew. If you make mistakes, might as well learn from them.

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