Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Poker temper tantrums are not uncommon at casinos. As much as I love snotty advice from the Phill Hellmuth, Jr.'s of the world, I'd rather not have to listen to people tell others (and me) about how terrible a play that was and why the other person should have folded rather than continued to call.
I understand that it sucks to get drawn out on and lose a large pot to a completed straight, flush, or two outer, but when it comes down to it- why wouldn't you want people playing that way? If someone is being very speculative (read as reckless), many times they will end up with a busted straight or flush and at worst, all you'll have to do is call or raise a big bluff on their part. If the name of the game is making money, then you want people doing unorthadox things with their money. The equivalent is pretty much like someone staying on 12 in blackjack when the dealer is showing a face card. Most times they will lose, but just because they hung in there, they have a chance of the dealer busting, however unlikely that may be.
So I've decided to relay a cautionary tale about the worst I've ever been busted out at a Poker table in a casino. Did I throw a temper tantrum in the casino? No. But did I come close. Yes. It was a cool October Saturday and my friend and I went to the fine establishment of Cache Creek in Esparto, CA...
My friend and I were seated at different tables, and we had been playing for about 3 hours. I had bought in with $200 at a $4/$2 No-Limit game, and I was hovering around even. I looked down at pocket Aces. I raised to $15. This I felt was a pretty standard raise, though I think $20 would've been more appropriate for the way the table was playing. This wouldn't have changed the outcome of the hand though.
I was at seat 8 and the guy across from me in seat 3 had over a grand in chips. Since the max buy-in was $200, he clearly was a decent player and/or getting ridiculous cards. He bothered me because he was a pudgy hill-billy who sound like he was straight out of the Duke of Hazzard. Anyway, he called, as did one other person (seat 5, I think.)
The flop came 7-8-9. Damn. Horrific flop. Someone could easily call with Jack-10 and have the straight. I decide to see where I was at and I bet $40. Bubba Ray without hesitation goes all in. The middle guy folds so it's up to me. I literally have the feeling that I'm beat, but then I start thinking that this guy is muscling me with his chip stack. I also thought about how pretty those Aces looked and I make the call.
He, of course, had 10-6 of Spades. Awesome. Now, I really can't complain because normally his reckless call would have donated to make a bigger pot for my Aces. Also, I had a feeling that I was beat and I should have trusted it.
So I reserve my seat and go take a breather. I walked around the casino for about 15 minutes and decided to buy back in. I rationalize that I should buy in with another $200 because if I catch a big hand, I hopefully will be able to double that money and get back to even. I sit back down and the guy next to me says, "Ya know, you didn't raise enough on that last flop. You should've raised to $40." Thanks Captian Genius. Raising ten times the big blind, when I've been playing pretty tight the whole game isn't the exact strategy I'd go with. As much as I love winning $6 on pocket Aces, I'll go my own way. (I suppose winning $6 is better than losing $200, but I digress...)
And yet... he did plant that little advice seed in my brain. Wouldn't you know it, I was dealt Pocket Aces again three hands after I sat back down. I decided, "Screw it, I'm taking this down now!" I raise to $40. And you know what? The same two guys who called my $15 bet, called my $40 bet! Mr. Advice to my right needed to shut his hole, and yet I was happy to get all that money in the pot.
The flop came K-6-7 rainbow. It looked like as safe a flop as I could ask for. The hill-billy acted first and immediately pushed all in. The next guy folded, and it came to me. I looked at him and said, "Are we really going to do this again?" To which he asked, "Do you have Aces again?" I said yes to gage his reaction. I liked what I saw and called him.
He held King/Jack. Not bad. More outs than I would like, but at least he didn't have a magically made straight this time! The turn produced a Queen. Scary card because it looks like a Jack, but I'm still good. The river produced a Jack, and I lose to two pair. Just like that, another $200 down the drain. I wanted to cry, then turn the card table over, then punch someone in the face, then punch another person in the face while I made them cry with me. I wanted to go out like Al Pachino in Scarface. Instead I got up from the table and sat by myself reading my "complimentary" copy of Card Player Magazine.
And while I can't pretend like I didn't want to rip the guy's head off for drawing out on me, that type of play, most times, would have worked to my advantage. Obviously, most people would think they are good with top pair and a solid kicker, but why he felt it necessary to go all in without fishing for more information (I could have easily had A-K as well) I'll never know. The point of all of this is that I could've easily been up $400 rather than down $400, with or without temper tantrums. It really had nothing to do with the quality of play or even the betting (in this case.) It had everything to do with the cards falling against me, and there's no need for me to throw a hissy-fit over that.