Why I Am (Still) Not a Very Good Player

by , Aug 4, 2006 | 6:03 am

LAS VEGAS–Three weeks or so ago, I found myself going bust in a $2/$5 NL game at the WSOP, and it all hinged on a single hand. I had called a small raise with 8-9s and the flop came 9-9-10. As the hand progressed, I began duking it out with the big stack at the table … and ultimately, even after putting more than $250 in the pot, I woulda/coulda/shoulda been able to get away — thereby saving $320 in my stack. (And leaving me $20 up for the session.) I did not do that, however, and sure enough … he had flopped a boat with 9-10s. Of course he did.

A “very good” player knows how to flop trips and get away from them.

About three hours ago, something similar but different happened while playing $1/$2 at the MGM. The MGM is packed with Party players still, so the low-stakes tables are juicy to say the least. I had to wait about a half-hour for my seat, but that was fine … I passed the time playing blackjack, and cashed out of that +$205. So basically I was freerolling.

That mentality had me very up and down — mostly down — for the first several orbits. I wasn’t playing bad-bad. I just would build my stacks up playing a combination of straight forward and “clever” … and then wouldn’t trust my instincts and would get myself in trouble. I blew $125, for example, when making a bad call on the flop, catching a higher pair on the turn, and then not folding when it became CLEAR CLEAR CLEAR the other dude had flopped a set.

My stacks got as low as $30 … but I rebounded nicely (just as I knew I would) by catching a couple rivers. Before you knew it, I had plenty of chips and was (seriously) playing good poker. There was another solid player at our table — very much of my ilk — who had $700 in front of him … until I called an all-in on his bluff and doubled up. From that point, I have never seen someone go on such serious tilt. I mean the dude still had $500 in front him, but that didn’t stop him from playing every pot. I began chatting with the solid player to my left about how unbelievable it was. This was the same guy joking a half-hour earlier with his (sexy) girlfriend about how he was going to punish the table, and then punish her. It was all good fun. Now it was just a matter of time before he lost every last chip, and I was fortunate to take the last of them by rivering a boat.

So in a matter of a couple orbits, I had turned my $30 into more than $500. Sweet. The good player to my left had about $600. And then came the hand where I had pocket Aces … and he had 10s. I raised to $10, he re-raised to $25, and I then made it $60 to go. “Oh really?” he said. “You got a real hand this time,huh?”

“Better than the 5-7,” I respond. (Inside table humor.)

We both smile … “Ok, be careful, I’ve got a big pocket pair,” he says … as he calls.

The flop: Qc-Tc-7h.

I fire out $75 … he says let’s make it $150, at which point I ask him, “did you flop a set?” He totally freezes. Oh man, he totally has pocket Queens, I think … and think …

“Call and find out,” he says nervously … which gives me even more confirmation that something’s screaming “monster!” before I decide to, in fact, call.

The turn is a blank — and eliminates the possibility of my hitting any sorta nut-flush draw. I check and he pushes all-in. “Damnit, I say. You totally flopped a set.” I knew it. I had been victim to it (from a different player) earlier in the night … but for less money … didn’t trust my instincts and fold … Again, this time, 70-30 sure I am behind … but wait a minute … maybe he doesn’t have Queens, I think. Yeah, he’s scared … he’s got Kings. Yes, Kings, that would be best … Yeah, he doesn’t have Queens, at least I hope not … “OK, I call.”

Forget the fact that I still woulda been up had I passed. If I was wrong about what I thought to be true … I’d be back in the black for the whole trip! Ahh, right … 10s. Of course, why else would he have said “I ‘ve got a big pocket pair” with anything but 10s … or maybe Jacks (which he woulda played way differently after the flop)?

But that’s the thing …

Very good players know how to fold pocket Aces (or any overpair, for that matter) and still win.

Buy-in: $200
Cash out: $0
Same-session blackjack: +$205
Net: +$5

Overall record in 4-figure poker pots: 2/7

2 Comments to “Why I Am (Still) Not a Very Good Player”

  1. Uncle Ray

    You just HAD to see what the guy had. And you paid dearly for it…again!!

    Even though you sort of “knew” what he had, you had to pay. Then you could later say “I knew he had a set”.

    The key to the game is that after you decide he’s got you beat, you should fold and then NOT CARE WHAT HE HAD! Just believe you made the right decision. Even if he then shows you a bluff, ignore it.

    It’s better to fold too many than play too many.

  2. jen

    Uncle Ray…good advice…now only if I can learn to follow it as well.