I was playing poker the other night at a short handed table for about 4 hours and had a great time. Someone I hadn’t played with for literally years invited me over and it was just him and one other guy, both of them decent players. My edge in such a game was very slight, and I mostly had to focus on playing my good hands well and folding my dogs.
I won a three handed $20 winner take all tourney when I caught three flushes in just 5 minutes. The first two put out one player, the third put out the other. To my credit I was never all in for the draw, but was priced into it because I didn’t think my opponents could lay their hands down. (They couldn’t)
A fourth guy arrived in the middle of a second $20 tourney and we let him buyin. I got put out and so was up $20. We then played $.25/$.50 NL for cash with everyone able to buy (and rebuy) up to $40. There was one weak player at the table, but the original three were pretty strong. The weak player was relieved of $60 and left and I thought the game would break up right there about midnight, until I had this hand.
An aggressive player in the SB raised my BB to $2.50 while holding Q8. I held QJo and called the raise when the flop came QQJ. He bet $3 and I called while acting concerned. Then the turn came an 8 and he put in $5. I raised it to $12 and told a story that suggested I had a flush draw. He thought about it and raised me another $10. I shoved all the rest of my chips in, as did he, and we both showed our full houses, mine larger than his. The river was a blank, and I dragged the $100 pot.
I didn’t mean to be an ass about it, and I told him I couldn’t have laid down his hand either. Unfortunately I spent the next 10 minutes stacking my chips, which I know probably tilted him further. He bought in again and rebuilt his stack to about $35 when I played the very best hand of the night.
I looked down at a pair of 10’s before the flop as he raised it to $5. I made it $10 (haha), and he pushed all his chips in. I thought about it and folded. With his AK against my TT, I was basically flipping a coin probabalistically for $70. Who needs that kind of aggravation? I didn’t think it through as thoroughly as that at the time, which is something important I need to work on in my game. I merely thought, "All those overcards makes me nervous, and I’m an underdog to any pair, Jacks or better."
If I’d been thinking more like one of my idols, Matt Matros, I would have analyzed the range of hands arrayed against me and realized I was likely a 50-50 tie, and more likely an underdog.
But fold I did, and when we checked the deck, I would have lost anyway when his Ace came out.
On my way home I remember thinking: "On those days where you win money, you seem like a wise man for playing cards that night. On the days where you lose, you always think, ‘I should have done something else with my evening’"
And therein lies the emotional swings of poker. The money justifies or criticizes everything with an unforgiving eye.