Wednesday, July 10, 2013

So I Cheered Up And Things Got Worse!

My dear, late father had a joke he used with me for as long as I can remember.  When things were going bad and I was down in the dumps, he'd say to me:

"Cheer up!  Things could be worse."

Then there would be a pause and he added:

"So he cheered up, and things got worse."

So after my last post, I cheered up, went back to the poker tables and.....things got worse.

Really, they got worse. The same evening I posted my recent tale of woe, things got worse. You can find the last post below, or here.

And be sure to scroll down to read the warning from an Anonymous commenter warning me to stop playing poker, because it was going to get worse.
Ah hell, just as some folks have short attention spans, I know that no matter how much I plead and beg, the vast majority of people out there wouldn’t click a link if I put a gun to their heads.  So here is that comment, so my lazier readers (and you know who you are) won’t have to click the link:
All I know is you ain't seen nuthin yet...2 nights in a row of horrible bad luck...atrocious bad luck..but it's not 2 weeks in a's not 2 months in a's not a solid year of nothing but bad's actually possible for this bad run of yours to go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on to the point where it not only seems statistically impossible, but almost IS statistically impossible. Could happen! It's happening to me right now. Over and over again my sessions, whether cash games or tourneys always end the same way....the exact way you described those two sessions...OK, not EVERY session, but almost all of them.. it's horrible....get out now while you can!!!!
I only wish I had read and heeded Anony’s prescient warning before going to play some more poker just moments after hitting the “Publish” button and publishing that last post.  Because what I already posted was actually fun compared to this one.

I had donked off my original $200 buy-in and was working my way back.  Ordinarily, I would tell you folks just how badly I played a hand to lose the first buy-in, but I wouldn’t want people with short attentions spans to complain about how long my posts are again. It’s frankly getting tiresome to see some smart-ass blogger complain about it.
And thus I also won’t tell you how I was starting to recover, and had worked my $200 rebuy up to about $300-$320 by playing excellent poker for the next hour or two.  Truth be told, it all seems meaningless now as a result of my last hand of the night anyway.
It wasn’t a particularly wild table.  Pretty sane, really.  One guy, a Brit, had a big stack, about $800-$900, and he was a bit aggressive, and was not afraid of taking risks and of using his big stack to bully a bit, but believe me, I’ve seen a lot more aggro players.  Of course, the time I lost my stack it was to him, when he had played something like 10-4 suited to hit a flush.  So his play on this hand didn’t really surprise me.
I was in late position with Ace-King offsuit.  A new player, an older gentleman, raised to $8.  He hadn’t played a hand until now, after about 10-15 minutes there.  I had to put him a big hand.
Ace-King is not a hand I usually three bet, as I noted in my last post.  Against this guy, until I saw something from him to change my mind, I wasn’t going to three-bet him with A-K. Now if the Brit had made the raise, I would have three-bet for sure.  But he was in the blind and he called the raise like I did, and a few others did.
The flop was merely Queen-Jack-10.  Yeah, I had flopped Broadway, the nuts.  I was pretty happy about that, but I was concerned a bit because two of the cards were clubs, and neither of my cards were clubs.
Brit led out with a $10 bet, Seat 1 and the preflop raiser both called.  Seat 1 had been there all night, and was a totally reasonable player, neither a nit nor an aggro and certainly not a fish.  A solid player.
Of course I wanted to bet to give any draws, particularly the flush draw, bad odds to call.  I thought about shoving, but that seemed like an overbet.  Believe it or not, I don’t think if I had shoved there it would have changed the result one bit.
Instead, I bet $70 because three people had already shown interest in the hand.  Too big?  Too small?  Let me know your thoughts.  I don’t think it mattered in this case, but perhaps it will help in the future if I ever decide to play poker again.
Brit thought about it for awhile, and it really looked like he was going to fold.  But my read was wrong.  Instead, he put out two stacks of red chips and announced “raise.”  A raise to $200 to be exact.  Seeing as how I had the stone-cold nuts at that point, that didn’t dismay me.  But I was absolutely sure he was on a flush draw and I just had to hope he’d miss.
To my surprise, Seat 1 went into the tank and thought long and hard about his action.  He had about $200 in front of him.  What the hell did he have?  He couldn’t have had Ace-King because that’s a snap call.  And if he had a set, he would have raised preflop with any pair that the flop had hit. A flush draw?  Two pair?  My gut told me if he had a flush draw, it was better than the Brit's flush draw, if indeed that is what he had.
Finally, after a long time, he shrugged his shoulders, said OK, and put all his chips over the betting line.
The old guy, the preflop raiser, folded instantly, saying something like, “I started this, but I can’t finish it.”
Back to me, and I wasted no time in saying “all in.”  What else am I supposed to do with the nuts?
Brit asked for counts of both our chips, but there was no way he was folding.  Of course, he called.
Nobody showed their hand and the dealer dealt out the hand.  The pot was over $800.  Both the Brit and I had full claim to all of it; if Seat 1 took it down, there’d still be about $200 plus for one of us.  Of course, all I could think of was, “no clubs, don’t pair the board.”  I didn’t say it out load, but I was shouting it eternally.
The turn card was a low red card, I don’t remember what it was, but it looked great to me.  One bullet dodged.   

The river, on the other hand, was extremely ugly.  It was god-damn f***ing 8 of clubs.  Yeah, a god-damn f***ing 8 of clubs.  I knew I was dead.
Seat 1 showed two high cards for two pair.  I didn’t notice which ones, it didn’t matter.
Of course the Brit had two f***ing clubs in his hand.  Of course he did.  It was a 9 and a 5.  So once again I lost to a pretty low flush.  I mean, I know the guy put me on exactly what I had, but he couldn’t be sure someone else didn’t have two clubs and that one of them was higher than a lousy 9.  But he gambled and won.

You can be sure I did not rebuy after that, I left the table and was done for the night.  If not the year.  If not for life.
The pain was worse because of it coming so soon after the three hands I described last time, another suckout.  Plus it was a huge pot for a 1/2 game.  It would have put me over $400 ahead for the night, instead of leaving stuck that $400.  All my work trying to recover from that one badly played hand just flew right out the window because of a lousy 8 of clubs.
I checked the odds calculator later and was surprised to see that I didn’t have more equity with the flopped nuts.  I was only 48% to win there on the flop.  Brit was 34% and Seat 1 was 18%.  But since the turn missed them, on the river I was 71%, Brit was 19% and Seat 1 was 10%.  Guess I should have found a fold there, huh?

At least I couldn't blame the guy I had blamed in my last post.  You know, the guy I thought was my own personal black cat.  He, his wife, his wife's orange dress, and his wife's possibly non-organic big tits were nowhere to be seen.

I wrote the above immediately after returning to my room after it took place, two nights ago.  I wish I could tell you things got better the next night, but I had another nightmarish poker session.  It wasn't the dreaded pocket kings cracked--it was Aces again.  However, I am not going to blog about it, at least not for now.  It's just too damn depressing.  I'll have to find something more fun to talk about in my next post.  Of course in my current state of mind, I can't think of anything that is fun.
Poker is a stupid game.
A very stupid game.
I hate that stupid game.


  1. The most profound truth about streaks in poker, from Tommy Angelo's "Elements of Poker":

    All of my good streaks and all of my bad streaks of every length and depth have had one thing in common. They did not exist in your mind. They only existed in my mind. And this is true for everyone's winning and losing streaks. None of them actually exist. They are all mental fabrications, like past and future. Everything that ever happens happens in the present tense. But how can you have a "streak" in the present tense? You can't. And therefore, if you are in the present tense, which, in fact, at this time, you are, then at this moment there is no streak in your life. There is no inherent existence to streaks. The streak is there when you think about it, and when you stop thinking about it, it goes away. It blossoms and withers, all in your mind. And when your mind invents a streak, you believe it exists, because you believe what your mind tells you. But the truth is there is only the hand you are playing.

    1. Thanks, Grump. That's a great paragraph you quoted, and I will read more from the book when I have some time. It does help.

      I also appreciate the two follow up comments and the links you provided, and I will read all of that soon, and perhaps comment back.

      Thanks very much for your thoughts. It means a lot to me that you would make a Rob-sized series of comments in response to my current situation.

      I think it also means you miss poker a bit! :)

  2. In case it would help any to read what some other people have written about bad streaks in poker, I offer some suggestions:

    I wrote about how one especially protracted losing streak was short-circuiting my brain here:

    Maybe the best description of what a serious losing streak feels like came from Larry Phillips' little gem of a book, "The Tao of Poker." I published a lengthy excerpt here:

    But overall the best writing about losing at poker has been done by my girlfriend. To save space, I'll just point you to a blog post of mine which contains the several appropriate links. Skip to the heading "Cardgrrl on losing."

  3. Perhaps someone will think, "I don't want to read Cardgrrl's old blog posts on losing." That would be a mistake. So let me post a little sample of how good her writing on this subject is, from the first of the posts to which I linked above. She has just described how pleasant it is to be on a little winning streak:

    And so one quite naturally thinks to oneself, "things are going swimmingly, yea verily I shall extend my stay in this paradise of gaming, where the rooms are cheap or free, the people pleasant and accommodating, and the cash runs like milk and money, err, honey."

    But no paradise is without its snake, no rose without its thorn. Or, if you are me, your paradise becomes a snake pit, and your rosebush becomes a thicket of thorns without a bloom of any sort.

    That horrible, perhaps unfamiliar, but indisputably ominous creaking noise you hear in the background, is the sound of the doomswitch being pulled from the OFF position to the ON position. You don't know it, yet, but you are FUCKED. Everything that was fun and good is now going to become very, very unfun and very, very bad. It's as if the Apocalypse had five horsemen, not four, and the guy after Death (Death’s really, really mean older brother) is coming specifically for you. Did I mention: really, really not good?

    1. I've read all the links you provided now, some really great stuff there, thanks. Very helpful.

      And you're right, Cardgrrl's writings on the subject are truly excellent and should be required reading for any poker player.

      I do note however, that it appears Cardgrrl has retired from blogging (at least about poker).

      Has she also stopped playing poker? If so, that might perhaps be the best advice she could give me! :)

  4. Perhaps some name changing is in order.

    Based on your post, maybe you should be the new "grrouchie."

    Based on Grump's lengthy comments, perhaps he should become "Robwell."

    Just some thoughts ...

    1. The trouble is, "Robwell" sounds like a name for a cat burglar. A successful one, anyway.

  5. Rob,

    Sorry to hear about your losing streak. IMHO, it is just that. A bad streak. But recognize while that bad streak is occurring, your self confidence dips and dips some more, until you are bogged down with negative thinking. I think a lot of playing poker has to do with the power of positive thinking (at least that is true for other aspects of life) .. there is a psychology, if you will, that is part of poker play. So, I guess it has to do with focus ??? if you focus too much on results instead of your game and the table ... it may overtake your brain.

    Just some thoughts ... for whatever its worth. Hope my words make some sort of sense. Sorry if they don't.

    Hang in there. From what I read, you are a damn good player. Chin up!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Thanks, LM. That's remarkable good advice coming from someone who doesn't even play poker!

  6. WaitWaitWait... you lost as a 48% favorite at the time all the money went in and you're crying like a school girl who's BFF just kissed the boy she has a crush on?

    You need to work on your bad beat stories.

    Seriously, though, I gotta go with the commenter from the previous blog post--if this is tilting you to outrageous extremes, stop playing the game because you ain't seen nuthin' yet.

    I can go back in my notes and find a single 3-hour session where I dropped $900 in a 1/2 game getting all the money three times, once as a 989:1 favorite (running 2-outter 1-outter was his only chance), and then an hour later a 45:1 favorite (one-outter hit the river), and as a 2:1 favorite.

    What you've experienced is just normal, natural, completely expected variance. If you can't deal with it, find a new hobby/profession/whatever.

    1. >>>If you can't deal with it, find a new hobby/profession/whatever<<<

      Excellent advice, Anony, I may just take it.

      But I take issue with your suggestion that this particular hand or the ones from the earlier post (or subsequent ones) have me "tilting."

      I am not on tilt. I get upset, of course, and then I go back to my room and do a blog post ranting about my luck, which I find cathartic. Tilting would mean I would keep taking money out of my wallet and throwing it on the table, and then playing high risk, stupid poker to try to win it back, right?

      To some degree, having this blog so I can rant about those bad beat stories I "need to work" on keeps me from tilting. So thanks for reading and helping me out there.

  7. Hey Anon: It's not like Rob doesn't understand variance, cold streaks, pot odds, and the fact that he should be happy for bad players making iffy calls at the tables. It's obvious he's just had his first real shitty week as a NL player and could use a sympathetic ear as opposed to tough love. This blog essentially acts as a personal journal: he'll look back at his immediate feelings years from now and realize that his skin has grown thicker and that the beats come easier (God willing.)

    Suggesting that he give up the game just because he's expressing his initial shock and disappointment is rather unhelpful. Just my two cents.

    1. Thanks, Prudence. I appreciate having such a supportive friend.

      In addition to this blog being a "personal journal", it also, believe it or not, intended to entertain the reader. It was my intention, and hope, that I at least ranted/whined/pissed/moaned in an entertaining enough fashion to amuse the readers. I'm egotistical enough to think I have done that on occasion.

    2. Oh and why is there NOT a website with the URL, ""? Shouldn't there be?

  8. 1. Well I don't think of it strictly as a diary. The point is that you are kind enough to share your thoughts (and brilliant photo picking skills) with the community. The least readers can do is give back a little support.

    2. According to one man who once I stacked at BSC (I had the dreaded kings, flop was k66, he paid on every street and called my all in on the river), "NO ONE WANTS TO EAT YOUR LASAGNA. I BET YOUR LASAGNA SMELLS." So no plans for that site anytime soon.

    1. Isn't Lasagna supposed to smell? I mean, like Lasagna? Or was Lasagna a euphemism?

      That you once actualy won a hand with the dreaded KK leaves me in awe of you.

    2. I would be more than happy to make you a lasagna dinner when you are in town! And prudence too!

      And one more thing, don't let the turkeys get you down. Hang in there my dear Rob.

    3. Thanks LM, but I have it on good authority that Prudence was indeed referring to something other than lasagna!

      And what are you doing up at past midnite? I suspect a dog is to blame!

  9. Jeez, who peed in your cornflakes Anon? A guy is bemoaning some bad luck and you rain all over him just to put the knife in a little more. We all have run bad before and I know Rob understands this. Cut him a little slack why don't you. Show me the blog posts or magazine articles you wrote after you lost your 989 to 1. I bet they weren't all sweetness and light either.

    1. LOL. Thanks for your support, Neo. Look forward to meeting you in person this weekend.