Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Poker Diaries: I Think We're Done Now

This is probably going to be the last entry in this diary for some time, as I'm moving away from my home for business, and don't expect to be at a table again for months, and honestly, there is a possibility of that being ever. And at least when it comes to casino play, that's for the best.

Last night, I had a night out with a half dozen of my regulars, as a going away experience before I jump in my car and drive to the West Coast to start a new gig. So it was off to Sugar House, the urban instant place on Delaware Avenue, for an evening of pub crawl, poker and the like. What happens next is.. well, what almost always happens to me in a casino. I play very few (as in, 10%) hands, because every table has a third of the players who bet $1/$2 as if it were $10/$20, and limping with marginal holdings just makes the bleed go faster. I have to pretty much shove it all in on the hands that I do play, because they raise with anything and hit often enough to make that work. I get called where the best that the caller could be hoping for is the wrong end of a 46/54 split. They hit. It's all very predictable, and about as much fun as surgery without anesthesia.

And sure, I get it; this is all The Complaint of the Nit, and pointless, because had I had the 54 hold up a few freaking times, I'd have won money and felt fine about life. But what it really comes down to is that the game just isn't all that fun even if you are winning this way, even though winning money is fun, because it's all been boiled down to stacks over skill, and if you can't bluff but your opponent can, you can't win.

Where I am in life is that there is no money that can be set aside for entertainment. As such, the money in a poker game is too important to, well, be risked in a poker game. When the chips are whether or not you are going to pay down a credit card, and soon, whether or not you are going to be able to help with education or avoid doing side jobs to make ends meet, poker is simply a job with unpleasant co-workers and a very uncertain pay rate... and, well, I have better jobs to do. Even if the job is just getting enough sleep, or getting back to the gym, or making my living conditions better.

So, to bring this back to poker, three hands, three shoves, three felts, and I don't think I made the wrong play on any of it. But the cards say different.

Pocket 9s against A-10 off suit. I put him on maybe one over, and hoped he'd call a shove. Instead of one, he had two, and called $145 on a pot of $40. 10 on the turn.

Pocket Js against Q-K suited. Dude called $65 on a pot of $20, because of course he did, and was shocked that he wasn't up against aces, which begs the question of why the hell you are calling, other than folding cards is a sin against God. Q in the window.

A-K suited, making the nut flush on the turn, in a 3-way hand; flop was Q-Q-2, two hearts, 7 of hearts on the turn. Dude who plays every hand and calls every bet had pocket deuces, because of course he did. (Smaller stack had a 7-high flush.)

I get that in the long run, 54 beats 46, and when it does, maybe you get back to bluffing and actual poker. But it doesn't do it often enough to make small samples defensible, and that means that it doesn't do it often enough to put significant cash at risk. All cash is significant now; all cash will, likely, be significant for the rest of my days.

So, um, why play poker, honestly?

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