Running Bad

Friday, August 10th, 2007, 12:09 pm

I just endured the worst two days of my poker career. After going on a minor heater since returning from Vegas the last two days erased those gains in a perfect storm of bad beats, coolers, and some terrible play on my part. About the only good thing I can say about the last 48 hours is that when I tilted, I mean when I REALLY tilted and toyed with the idea of pulling a Matusow and throwing my laptop off the balcony, I shut it down and went for a walk.

I pride myself on playing my best even when I’m at the bottom of the variance trough. After reviewing some of my play on PokerTracker, I either tilted or I’m a horrible poker player. I’ve mostly been playing short-handed limit games, low-limit stuff that fits nicely within my bankroll. I was at a table with two fishy-fishy-fishies and figured it was a matter of time before I picked up some of their chips. The guy to my right was almost a joke–I played 150 hands with him, and according to the stats he played 86% of the pots. He raised exactly ONCE before the flop. And after the flop he very rarely raised and almost never, ever folded. Just about the perfect guy to play against.

He beat me for just over 25BB. I tried being aggressive against him. No good–he wouldn’t fold and I soon realized I needed a hand against him. Fine. I picked up Aces, he had 10-5 and flopped two pair. OK, I flop two pair against him. Nope–he flopped a straight. Nearing critical mass I capped the betting after the flop game me an open-ended straight draw and two overs. I made the straight on the turn–and better yet, it gave him two pair. It also gave him a flush draw. He made his runner-runner flush and beat me out of a HUGE pot.

That’s the hand that sent me over the edge. I was FURIOUS. I was, almost literally, steaming. I knew it was time to take a break when I found my roving eyes were looking for a sharp object, ANY sharp object. I went for a walk.

When I came back I reviewed those nightmarish hands. And found, to my disgust, the in almost every case the guy had played his hands reasonably. When I raised with my Aces he’d been getting 5-1 to call with his 10-5 in the big blind. Likewise he’d been getting good odds with the 4-7 he used to flop his straight. He flopped top pair against my open-ender, made two-pair with a flush draw on the turn, and hit on the river. He’s gonna lay that down?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like he was a good player–I don’t think many strategy guides tell you to limp into five-sixths of your pots. But he got lucky and I got unlucky. And after reviewing more of my hands, I saw that I was just spewing chips in an effort to dominate the table. Hard to do that in low-limit Hold-Em. As I do for nearly all my troubles, I blame Howard Lederer. I’d just read his chapter in the Full Tilt Tournament Guide and was doing things like check-raising my gutshot draws. Against folks who play 86% of hands. Sub-optimal.

After I cooled off a bit I played some more…and dropped another 20BB. But this was more run-of-the-mill stuff and didn’t trouble me as much. I also played in a $10 short-handed NL event with 580 players. I doubled up early when I flopped a flush with the 7-3 of hearts and got a guy with two black Aces to pay me off. He limped in and couldn’t get away from them. I was actually in the top 5 in chips for a bit when I flopped TPTK with Big Slick and ran into a set. At that point it was just past midnight and I wanted to put the day behind me. I had Qc-Jh and the flop came all clubs, Jack-high. I bet, was raised, and I pushed. The other guy turned over Aces, including the Ace of Clubs. "Eww…" I typed, knowing that my night was at an end. Then the Jack of diamonds spiked on the river to keep me in the game.

I ended up 16th, earning me a massive $40 profit. I was actually dead-last in chips when we reached the bubble, but I doubled up and had just enough chips to prevent my all-in steals from getting an automatic call. I finally went out around 3AM when I pushed with K-9 on the button and was called by pocket Queens. Flopped a nine, and had I found a way to win that pot I might’ve been a factor down the stretch. But I didn’t, and I wasn’t.

Reviewing my stats I’m up six bucks since I returned from Vegas. I’ve been playing a lot since I got back, though I don’t know why I’ve gravitated toward short-handed limit games, which are probably the games I’m worst at and have played the least. Maybe that answers my question right there.

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