Monday, April 21, 2014

The Poker Diaries: Right, Right, Right, Wrong

Mah Poor Aces
Deep stack home game, coming off a win the last time out, and things are going great. I've been patient and decisive, gotten paid for my big hands, and I'm over 2.5X times the starting stack as the small stacks are starting to bow out. I weather a bad hand or two, but haven't really lost any big pots, and look up under the gun to pocket aces. I raise it 3X the big blind, and the first action is a 3X raise from the tightest guy at the table, and one of our best tournament players. Right.

Knowing this guy and this situation, he's got three possible hands: the other aces, A-K suited, or a pair of kings.The small and big blinds clear out, and I think about just calling to try and disguise my hand, but put that out of my mind. This guy isn't raising with anything but pocket kings or A-K suited, which means that I'm no worse than 80/20, and maybe even 87/13, to win the hand... and he's not getting away from that hand pre-flop. If I raise, he's just calling, and an Ace on the flop will keep him in the tournament. I've got him by about $20K in stack size, and if I shove, he's going to call and hope I've got A-K myself, or maybe even bullying tens, jacks or queens. He hates my move, but says, "I can't fold these. If you've got aces, you win" as he turns over his kings.  Right.

The flop is three hole cards, rainbow, as good as I could hope. I've gone from over 80-20 to 95-5, and he's got two outs for his tournament life. If I fade two cards, I've got $140K+ in my stack in a tournament where there is only $540K in play, with just 12 players left, and something 140BBs. It's all going so right...

And the turn is a king, and the river a brick, and, um, that's poker.

Horribly, terribly, awfully wrong poker.

I wind up busting a half-hour later on J-10 suited versus Qs in the big blind as a blind steal goes wrong (dude actually had to think about it, so I guess my table image was tight), but the last half hour was just lying to myself as to how I was going to shake the 2-outer off. And it's not right to think about the 2-outer that way, since all five of those cards were always going to get flipped, and the 80/20 is based on 5 cards getting turned over, not the last two. And it's not as if I've never been on the other side of the suckout win; as a matter of fact, it's a rare tournament win where I don't get that lucky. That's the story for my kings' man, who winds up taking down the $410 first place win, because, well, who's going to stop a guy who cracks aces like that?

Final point: it's just another tournament, just another night at the tables, a game I've played over 170 times in the past five years to some net profit and a lot of good times. There's no reason to remember it any more than any other hand. And yet, I'm pretty sure I'm never going to play another hand with this guy without remembering this hand, and how bad that suckout tasted. Because, well, that's poker... and it's also the way I'm wired.

Goddamned turn.

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