It is quite a rarity these days for me to take part in a poker game. The main reason is Pokerstars left the Israeli market (thus essentially eliminating online poker as an option) and most of my time and energy these days are dedicated to my career and other projects.
On Thursday night I was fortunate enough to be invited to a very fishy game. This isn’t your typical $1/$2 or $2/$5 game but rather a super fishy, high variance game which plays closer to $15/$30 even though the blinds are $1/$2 and the initial buy-in is $150.
The session started really badly when I got most of my stack in pre-flop with AK vs. AJ and my opponent spiked the J to scoop the pot. I added another buy-in to my stack and brushed it off. About 30 minutes later I got my money all in again in a very similar spot. This time I binked the K on the flop and scooped a huge pot. I had recovered my previous losses and now had almost $100 in profit sitting in front of me.
The key hand came about 20 minutes before the end of the night when I called an EP raise with 5 6 9 with two hearts in a hand of pineapple (a variant of holdem which this particular group of players mix into their sessions). I decided to call a large raise against the biggest stack at the table because a hand like this can do a lot of damage against someone who is representing a high pocket pair. In pineapple each player is dealt three cards and then needs to discard one on the flop. This means that over pairs have very little value because of all the set and two pair combos which are likely in a multi-way pot. Since my opponent made it 20x pre-flop I knew he held either AA or KK.
The flop came 2 6 9 with two spades giving me top two pair. He continuation bet around $150 and I moved all in for another $250. The rest of the players in the hand folded and my opponent happily put in the $250 after about 5 seconds of consideration. He opened pocket kings and we ran it once.
Turn 10, river king. I had lost a $900 pot and got up to leave the table and wait for the game to end so I could get a lift home from one of the players in the game.
To say that it didn’t sting would be a lie. I’ve been struggling over the last year to build up a significant live poker bankroll. A big problem is that a lack of a bankroll limits the number of sessions I can play so a bad run, like the one I’m currently experiencing, can last for a long time. It is spots like the one I described above which you need to win in order to grow a roll.
So why wasn’t I angry with the outcome of the hand? Well, about an hour before my final hand in the session I realized I wasn’t playing my A game. I was trying to bluff (a big no-no in a game like this) too often, I was playing too loose, and just making bad decisions. I took a bathroom break and got something to drink to help reset my mood and help me get a grip. When I sat back down at the table I said to myself the following, “I’m only down $80, one big hand and I’m in the money, I don’t need to force it, I just need to get one spot”. That spot came about an hour later when I got 350 big blinds all in on the flop with a 75% chance to win the hand.
It was my ability to get things under control and maintain my composure while I waited for my spot which gave me a lot of joy and helped counter the disappointment of losing that pot. There will always be another hand and the need to shift from a B or C game back to an A game. It is the ability to make that shift which is worth a lot more than the $400 I lost on Thursday, and that is why I wasn’t angry.