So last Friday, I once again played in the National Capital Poker Tour’s monthly poker game.
And this time, I came out with guns blazing. I won several big pots. I folded hands when I needed to. I only went all-in when I had the best hand.
Yet, I came 8th out of 15 people, and out of the money.
I’ll quickly review some of my bigger hands, and then get into the one thing that really frustrates me with poker.
We’re a little ways into the tourney. I’m dealt J-9 offsuit in one of the blinds (I can’t remember which one), but I think it’s the small blind. There’s a call or two, so I decide to play along, so I call. Flop came 8-T-Q. I flopped a straight. Sweet. I raise, and everyone folds except for the shortstack. He makes a comment that he’s pretty sure everyone at the table would like to see him go all-in. So he does. I instacall and show my straight. He was slowplaying pocket aces. My hand holds up, and he’s eliminated.
I’ve won a few small pots. I’ve lost a few small pots. So nothing much has changed. I don’t even know what position I’m in. I look down at KK. I raise. The guy who was shortstacked earlier has bought back in, and he’s lost some more chips. So he re-raises all-in. I insta-call again. He’s holding AK offsuit, and my kings hold up.
I’m doing pretty good. I just lost about $30 on a hand when AQ didn’t do anything and I bluffed on the flop. So I’m at about $75 or so. Blinds are $4-$8. I look down at pocket kings again (I actually had pocket kings about four times on the night, but never had another pocket pair higher than 55). There was one caller. I raise to $25. Chris, on my left, raises another $30. There was one shortstacked guy who folded that I’ll get to in a minute. I re-raise all-in and Chris calls. He shows AK, both clubs.
You can already tell what’s coming, can’t you? Chris was at the other table with me earlier, and made a comment that that’s the second time I had KK versus AK.
Flop came something like 5H, 5C, 8H. I’m now an 82% chance of winning. Turn shows a 10 of clubs. I’m worried, but I’m still at a 72% chance. I actually believe an ace is coming on the river, knowing my luck.
No ace on the river. A 2C instead. I’m eliminated with runner runner flush. Sigh.
Back to the other players. One guy said he folded two clubs. That actually decreased Chris’ odds of hitting the flush and made the bad beat even worse.
The shortstacked guy who folded earlier? He folded pocket 10s, which would have given him a full house. So even if I wasn’t against Chris, I would have lost pocket kings to pocket 10s.
And that’s the thing that frustrates me most at poker. I think I play good poker. I could be wrong, but it seems like I make the right choices. Last month, I lost the majority of the hands where I had the dominant starting hand.
This month, that didn’t happen until the end. Truthfully, I don’t mind losing when I have the worst starting hand. If I have AQ versus AK, and I lose, that doesn’t bother me at all. Or pocket 9s against pocket kings.
I get frustrated when I lose to hands that I should win with easily. Not marginally winning hands (I could take losing a hand like A9 suited versus KQ suited), but hands where I’m dominating. I don’t know if expecting to get bad beats makes me play differently, but it could be something for me to keep in mind next time I play.
It may sound stupid, because really, it’s something I can’t control. All I can do is play my best poker and hope the cards fall my way.
Next tournament is the season championship. It will be totally different. No rebuys or add-ons, so strategy should be different right from the start. And instead of starting with $30 in chips, you start with $50. Everyone is on a level playing field, and once you’re out, you’re out.
Hopefully, lady luck won’t desert me that night.