Losing With Grace Is For Losers

Wednesday, April 6th, 2005, 11:28 pm

I played a 3-table SNG a few days ago, the last poker I’ll be playing for awhile. We were down to 10, one more to go before the final table, and I was low on chips. I was dealt the AQ of spades, raised, and my one caller had about the same size stack as myself. The flop came 8-7-2, with the eight and the deuce spades. I checked, the other guy bet $200, and I raised to $800. I was prepared to go all the way with my flush draw and two overcards, and when he put in another $400 to put me all-in of course I called. I expected to see a set, or at least an overpair. Nope. He had 9-10 offsuit. I was stunned. I was positively poleaxed when a red Jack appeared on the turn and knocked me out.

I went bonkers. I don’t usually get too upset when I play, usually I confine myself to a muttered “motherfucker” when I get sucked out bad. But this time I flipped. I jumped out of my seat, threw my hat across the room, and let loose what I have to say was a pretty eloquent stream of obscenitites. I don’t think I repeated a word for about 15 seconds, I brought the full arsenal to bear.

This was five bucks I lost. I wonder how I would react if I lost five-hundred grand, as I just watched Layne Flack do in tonight’s WPT Aruba tourney. Flack was feeling pretty good with his pair of nines against Erick Brenes’ deuces, but Flack’s merry teasing came to an abrupt halt when a third duck popped up on the turn. A two-outer that cost him half-a-million. Flack clenched his jaw, probably clenched a few other orifaces, and shook Brenes’ hand.

Mike Matusow didn’t do quite as well, bemoaning his fate in typical Mike the Mouth fashion, and convieniently ignoring the fact that he’d nailed Flack on the river with a 9-1 shot earlier on. But when Brenes hit a five-outer on the river to take Matusow out, I don’t think you can fault Mike’s conduct too much. He bitched a bit about how he loses this way every time, that he never gets lucky, etc etc. Pretty much boilerplate.

I wonder how I would react in similar circumstances. I played in a charity tournament last April, and got knocked out when a guy hit a six-outer on the river to beat me. I took it like a champ. At first the dealer thought I’d won (I had two pair, but a queen on the river paired the board, counterfeited my lower pair, and let the other guy outkick me) and he actually started to push the chips my way. I knew I’d lost, stood up, shook the hand of the guy who sucked out, and wished everyone good luck.

I walked to the bar…well, I ended up in the bar. I don’t recall exactly how I got there. I was in a bit of a daze. I was so embarrassed I wanted to crawl inside my bottle of Bud. Some of the players I’d been up against had been submoronic, and they were still in while I was out.

This was a $100 buy-in tourament. I was a long, long way from the money. Losing $500K to such a bad beat would, I think, paralyze me with horror. Flack looked like he’d taken a punch to the gut, which is how incredibly bad news usually feels. You feel it in your stomach, and in your knees. I remember how I felt when the girl I was sort-of dating my freshman year of college told me the giggly story of how she’d lost her virginity the week before (years of therapy that followed: six) and it would’ve been kinder if she’d just speared me in the gut with a hockey stick. The sensation was much the same.

As they signed off Mike Sexton congratulated Flack for his play, and they passed out bottles of Amber Bock, the official beer of the WPT. I noticed that Flack wasn’t holding a bottle, which is a good thing, as the recent Card Player cover story on him mentioned that he’d gone through a rehab program. One wonders what might have happened if Flack had won, since I’d hope Shana would have the good taste not to hand him a bottle. Instead he stood there with his hands stuffed in his pockets, bouncing on his toes, no doubt wanting to get somewhere private so he could either scream, throw something, or get consoled by his daughter and other well-wishers. Of course, he did win half a million, which is, uh, only half of a million, but not chicken feed either. So that might have softened the blow.

I’d like to think that I would just rap the table, shake hands, and head off to the beach so I could jump in the ocean and drown myself. With dignity, I mean. A 30-second, profanity-laced, FCC-scrutiny-attracting tirade might feel better, but you can always do that after the cameras are turned off. You can have the best of both worlds–look like a stand-up pro for the masses, shriek for mommy later. Some good advice there, if I ever end up on TV.

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9 Responses to “Losing With Grace Is For Losers”

  1. DuggleBogey Says:

    I don’t get it.

    You were willing to put your life on the line with nine outs, but when someone calls you that doesn’t have their life on the line with eight outs, you flip out?

  2. BadBlood Says:

    “my one caller had about the same size stack as myself”

    Essentially their life is on the line, no?

    Regardless, I love the title of the post. Sad that being a sore loser gets you more TV exposure, but being a gracious one (re: Joe Awada) gets you didly-squat. I bet Joe’s having a tough time spending all his extra income earned from being a class act.

    Personally, I admire guys like Awada far more. That and $1.50 will get him a cup of coffee some day.

  3. Poker Nerd Says:

    Gene had more than nine outs in most situations, possibly 15, even if he’s currently behind (which, amazingly, he wasn’t). For example, if the villian had top pair with no A, Q, or other draw, Gene is actually the slight favorite. Aggressive, big raises with two overcards and a flush draw are standard.

    If anything, though, Gene could have just gone ahead and moved in on the check-raise if it was only $400 more. I doubt, though, that would have changed the ultimate result.

    Further, the villian basically did put his entire life on the line if, as Gene said, they had similar stacks.

    Good play, Gene, bad result.

  4. Mean Gene Says:

    Oh, I forgot to mention that I was playing pot-limit, so I couldn’t push all-in after he bet $200. My connection is often too slow for me to get a seat at Party’s NL tables. I would’ve gone all-in if I’d been able to.

    What flipped me out is that I check-raise the guy, meaning I probably have SOMETHING, and he calls with 2 spades on the board. Remember, he only had SIX outs, as the six and jack of spades would’ve made my flush. He couldn’t know that, of course, but he might’ve suspected I was on a flush draw.

    All in all, it wasn’t an unusual loose call for a Party SNG. It just ticked me off that he called my raise with the worse hand and the worse draw and pulled it off. It happens, but this time I wasn’t able to handle it with my usual grace and aplomb.

  5. Drizztdj Says:

    I had J2o call my check-raise on a board of 9 6 3 rainbow late in a WSOP SnG. I had 87o and neither one of us improved.

    The lower buy-in SnGs at Party have definitely gotten worse but better for the semi-decent players.

  6. doubleas Says:

    I respect players like Flack, Awada, Ivey and Brunson for their attitude once busted by a suckout.

    However, Hellmuth has many more endorsement deals than those guys.

    If I am fortunate enough to make the final table and get sucked out on for a half million dollars, be assured I’m going to flip the table and then strip naked and scream bloody murder while running away from security.

    That should definitely get me enough press to get on Letterman or at least SNL. Then I should be able to parlay that press into my own online poker room. Don’t worry, I’ll have plenty of freerolls for the bloggers.

  7. MissT74 Says:

    I think it may be safe to say that we all “flip out” in the comfort of our own home, with noone (poker player wise) to watch us embarrass ourselves. Most of us, at a live event, would behave a LOT calmer then we would if we were at home playing online. I would like to think that I would act with as much grace and class as Layne did, as I have in the past, albeit not for 500K, LOL

  8. StudioGlyphic Says:

    Hey Geno,

    When you win that half million and go drown yourself in the ocean, make sure I’m in your will first, k?

    Thanks, man. You’re the greatest.

    –SG

  9. WW Says:

    Good write up. I agree that the other guy shouldn’t have been in the hand. He took a much bigger gamble. If his 9-10 are suited, I can see it. But with what he had, the majority of times, Ace high will take that hand and he’s the one crying into his beer.

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