Why The Hell Do I Play Poker, Anyway?

Friday, June 25th, 2004, 1:25 am

I got yet another deposit bonus offer from Party so I moved my money over and started playing a bit to work it off. Since I’m unemployed I’ve been spending more time looking for a job and doing stuff in the yard than playing poker, but the last 2 nights I’ve played into the wee hours trying to get the bonus money released.

As always seems to happen, I’ve lost just about the amount I’ll get for the bonus. I’m about 2/3 of the way there, and at the rate I’m going I’ll end up losing money on the deal. And since my last two nights at the tables have been almost absurd, I’m starting to question why on earth I play at all.

It isn’t just that I’ve lost. It happens. It’s how I’ve lost, and how I’ve been losing the last few months. I’ve taken my share of bad beats, but that isn’t why I’m frustrated. I’m going bonkers because the cards have positively gone ice cold for me, and its gone on long enough that it’s messing with my head. Bigtime.

I was playing two tables of $1/$2, the Bad Beat jackpot ones where if you lose with quads or better you get like eight grand. I played about 150 hands. I lost about $40. I won seven hands. One of those was a 3-way split pot, and two were short-handed pots where I won the blinds, all of a buck. 150 hands, and I won four hands with actual cash. My aces didn’t get cracked, because I didn’t get aces. I didn’t get rivered because I never got to the river. During that session I only saw like 20% of the flops, including when I was in the blinds. Now, I’m a tight player, but this is corset-caliber tightness.

But what choice do I have? Start playing J-4 offsuit? I shrugged off last night’s misery and played tonight with verve and optimism. The first 50 hands I didn’t win a single hand. Not a one. Nada. This time I did get killed a few times, both when four of a suit appeared on the board and my chasing opponent caught me. Fifty hands with no wins. Added to yesterday that made 200 hands where I only heard that happy “Congratulations!” noise four times. I decided to move to Pot-Limit, which is probably my best game. Not today it wasn’t. Lost a bit more, played about 100 hands, won four. One a split pot where I made zilch. What made this even more frustrating was that on one of the first PL hands I played I hit the nut flush on the turn and got paid off handsomely. I was up $25 and about even for the day, and hope sprang eternal. Only to be unspooled by an evening filled with folding.

I logged off, chilled a bit, and decided I’d try my luck in one of Party’s new multi-table SNGs. Looked like fun, a chance to play a more creative game. The SNG available when I checked was Pot-Limit, fine by me. Finish in the top 5, take home some money.

Of course you can see where this is going. Played 76 hands. Of those hands, only 4 were playable. Oddly, I was dealt KK on four separate occasions. The first time I had 2 callers and an ace appeared on the flop. The one guy bet the pot, the other raised, and i had to get out of the way. I doubled up one time, won the blinds another, and got knocked out when I went heads-up with AQ and he caught his ace on the flop.

The rest of the night, forget it. I was dealt 2-9 seven different times, including three times in four hands. I had to fold my small blind about nine times in a row because the best I could do was J-6.

There is a certain perverse pride to be derived by folding, folding, folding. “I’m patient,” you say to yourself. “I’m playing smart. I’m playing tight. Most other players would go bonkers and start putting money in with anything. I’m tough. I don’t tilt. I always play my A-game, no matter how the cards are treating me.”

I actually started watching my stats to see if I could get my “sees the flop” percentage below 20%. If I couldn’t win any money, I’d comfort myself with the knowledge that I was playing “properly”.

But am I? When I read Gary Carson’s book it gave me a whole new attitude toward starting hands. I was playing ultra-tight before, but in the loosey-goosey games you find at Party you can relax your requirements and increase your profits. And it worked for me. Looking over my stats and reviwing my play I know that the part of my game that really needs work is my play on the flop. I play scared, giving my opponent credit for having huge hands when in fact they’re betting bottom pair with no kicker. I won won tidy hand today that made me think I was making progress. I had J-10 in the big blind and called a raise because there were 5 other players in the pot. I flopped top pair and when the action was checked around to me I bet, and got two callers. Another low card on the turn, I bet, and get raised. Shoot. The other guy folded, and now I had to decide whether to turn tail. I called, hearing a voice in my head saying, “Don’t give up so easy on top pair”. I try to block out the voice. Guy either has me outkicked or has two pair. The river was a king, I checked and he bet. I started to fold. But then I remembered that there was enough money in the pot to justify a call. No straight draw out there, no flush…let’s see what this turkey has.

He has AQ. Gobblegobblegobble. I almost laid down the winning hand to a guy who just wanted to bully me out. I found myself wondering how ofter that’s happened to me recently, how often I’ve given money away because I lacked the guts or brains to bet my winning hand.

ABC poker. That’s what I’ve been playing. And it’s wearing me down. I’ve made some nice money playing poker since I started–nice for a low-limit grinder like me, anyway. But…what’s the point? That’s the question I find myself asking right now. Do I enjoy playing? Yeah…but even a rookie like me is starting to get sick of the constant folding, folding, folding. I feel like I’m making money because the quality of my play is just one notch about “moron”.

I don’t think I’m getting any better. That’s why I’ve been playing tournaments, because it allows me to play a more creative, aggressive game. Until I got busted out in 10 tourneys in a row.

OK, enough of a rant. Maybe tomorrow’s the day I get dealt aces five times in a hour. Maybe tomrorrow’s the day things click and I start playing a lot better. Or, maybe I just won’t play at all tomorrow.

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3 Responses to “Why The Hell Do I Play Poker, Anyway?”

  1. LordGeznikor Says:

    If you’re seeing 20% of the flops when you aren’t getting cards, you’re seeing too many flops.

    My suggestion, one that helped me a lot, is to look closely at how you’re playing KQ, KJ, KT, QJ, QT.

  2. hdouble Says:

    Suggestion: try two-tabling, or even three. It’s easy to fold KJo to a raise when you’re seeing twice as many hands. Also, in loose-passive games, 20% is low for me (given a normal distribution of starting hands). The implied odds are a lot higher in these games, so you should be playing more hands. That is, if you don’t mind a little variance…

  3. chrisL Says:

    MeanGene, I’m pretty sure you’re a far better player than I, but it seems like we have been having some similar issues and I might be able to offer some humble advice. Regarding your J-10 vs. AQ hand – especially on party but all over, you see people chasing with overcards. I fold AQ on a ragged flop if I’m bet into, but a lot will chase with overcards no matter what. That hand is a little odd because it sounds like this guy was chasing and betting into you and out of position. (horrible) I guess just value bet your TPTK more, and you’ll catch these clowns with their pants down half the time. Also I had been having a pretty cold streak lately, so I opened up three tables and didn’t allow myself to play any other hands then AA, KK, QQ, and AK. Guess what, it helped a lot, I started winning some money and got my confidence back up. Just my two cents.

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