Monday, May 11, 2009

Recovering from a brutal beat

When you play in a tournament, a big tournament, you are focused on making good decisions. But in the end, there is a fundamental difference from the smaller tournaments you will play. In the big tournaments, results DO matter. Its a tad ironic that you got hear by remembering the mantra, "decisions not results".

So you train, practice and study making good decisions. You analyze every mistake. Then you walk into the big tournament and you know what? Fish start jumping out of the water and into your boat. It's what you trained for. You feel great. And then an early setback.

Have a sample:

Seat 1: WidowJack (3,625)
Seat 2: boyana05 (8,553)
Seat 3: donkurchips2me (2,947)
Seat 4: rhe041 (2,615)
Seat 5: MrHeuvel (2,965)
Seat 6: Gabyleviking (2,080)
Seat 7: columbo (4,995)
Seat 8: koikoi1 (2,095)
Seat 9: HevvyDevvy (10,160)
rhe041 posts the small blind of 25
MrHeuvel posts the big blind of 50
The button is in seat #3
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to columbo [9h 9c]
Gabyleviking calls 50
columbo raises to 150
koikoi1 folds
HevvyDevvy folds
WidowJack folds
boyana05 calls 150
donkurchips2me folds
rhe041 folds
MrHeuvel calls 100
Gabyleviking calls 100
*** FLOP *** [6d Js 9s]
MrHeuvel checks
Gabyleviking bets 500 (top pair, probably AJ)
columbo raises to 1,000
boyana05 folds
MrHeuvel folds
Gabyleviking has 15 seconds left to act
Gabyleviking raises to 1,930, and is all in
columbo calls 930
Gabyleviking shows [Jd Ks]
columbo shows [9h 9c]
*** TURN *** [6d Js 9s] [Kd]
*** RIVER *** [6d Js 9s Kd] [Jc]
Gabyleviking shows a full house, Jacks full of Kings

Not just a full house mind you, a runner-runner bad beat.

My above average stack is now reduced to a starting stack and I am forced to stare into space, a gaping hole in my face where my jaw was.

We have ALL been there. But what is important is that I am "down but not out". Chip-and-a-chair cliche' moved aside by a Monty Python, "I'm not dead yet".

Chris Ferguson once said that one of the biggest differences between an amateur and a pro is how quickly the amateur will shift to all-in hope-and-a-prayer poker after his stack suffers a big loss. Again, we've all been there.

So how do we soldier on? Here is what I do.

First off, If I get knocked out, I think of it this way. "It took runner-runner to take me out". (or on Sunday, "it took a 3 outer to take me out".) It's not a bad beat story. Its a testament to how lucky someone has to get to outplay you. The "how" is irrelevant. 'It took QUADS to knock me out.' Not that is a statement.

If I did NOT get knocked out, then its usually a call to arms. I am not going to sit idly by and watch my stack dwindle. oh no! You have unleashed pain upon the table my friend. You thought I raised a lot before? The pots just got bigger because I'll take a bit more volatility now! And I will bet into you after the flop like a kamikaze pilot. The reality is that I will start to do that, but slowly shift back down after the image is established or I get some chips back. Then I am going to try and stack someone even if it means getting my money in on Middle Pair with a solid redraw. Once I reach average again, its back to my regular game plan.

One last thing. I never, ever get into a discussion at the table in an attempt to justify my play. The best you are going to get from me is a shrug. I can not be rattled. I'll even say that to myself. "these guys are not good enough to tilt me. They might be bad enough to tilt me..."

Its true in many ways that its harder to get through minefield of fish than a sea of pros. But is there anything more satisfying that watching that idiot who luck-boxed away with your chips go broke while you are still sitting there and get to watch him walk to the rail? If you are going to wage a comeback and you have some volatility, you may have to win a race. Or worse, win from behind. So be it.

All the more satisfying when some player who read a chapter on small ball lets you get there on the turn and river to 2-pair his TP weak kicker. He'll tell me how bad that play was. And I'll shrug. Because after all, he's half right!

Its funny that I feel stupid writing this post. I mean, I have the urge to just delete it. Sometimes when I read it, I feel like I am explaining cooking my favorite dish to a chef. But I want to be able to go back and read this post later. Because one day, I might need to learn this again. There is only so much beating a person can take before they require some solace.


matt tag said...

they say nobody wants to hear bad beat stories, and that's probably true. I write them in my blog for the same reason you do - so I can go back and read them later.

It's nice to remember that you always get back up.

jamyhawk said...

great post!
I'm linking you on my blog. see you in the bbt...