“Two Pair, No Good”

by , Jan 28, 2012 | 4:07 pm

I had plans for my first post of 2012 to write about my new year’s resolution, which was to find more purpose in what I’m doing for a living … quite the challenge when your work day consists of picking out tourists to relieve of their vacation cash so you can pay your bills for another month.

Crushed, beaten, annihilated, squelched, wrecked … you feel helpless and empty and start questioning what you’re doing with your life and why you’re wasting so much money.

A new year is supposed to be a time when everyone is feeling the most hopeful and positive and have the brightest outlook on what the next 12 months may hold. I try to put a positive spin on everything and especially the things I write on twitter and in this blog with an audience in mind. I’m sure there are some people who take joy in other people’s down times because it makes them feel better about their own situation. But I just think it’s a better EV play to try and inspire people rather than give them something to wallow in.

I wish I could follow my own advice, but today I don’t see how.

We can at least start off at the highest point, which is right before the calendar turned a page to 2012. Following the win streak that I wrote about last time, I went through an extended break-even stretch that lasted through early/mid December. There were lots of ups and downs and I never gained any traction for about a month straight. A win followed a loss which followed a win followed by a loss, over and over. Finally, and without even really realizing it until after Christmas and just before New Year’s Eve, I strung together another double-digit win streak and took my total winnings to their highest point since I took my two month hiatus. It wasn’t a ton of money, as the vast majority of all my sessions played are $1/$2NL, $1/$3NL, and $1/$2NL-PLO. But I was proud that my results showed such a nice overall uptrend, and was able to break out of a couple of sideways movements on my graph.

Things could not have taken a more drastic turn as they have in the year 2012. I’ve played almost every day, and have posted a grand total of one winning session. And none of the losing sessions have been small losses. Pick any word with a negative connotation, and then break out your thesaurus and go through the list of synonyms for that word: crushed, beaten, annihilated, squelched, wrecked … All these words weigh on me and make me hang my head and stare at the hideous carpet of various Las Vegas casinos as I make my walk of shame to the valet. It’s infinitely worse than a break-even stretch because it piles and compounds on itself so quickly — you feel helpless and empty and start questioning what you’re doing with your life and why you’re wasting so much money.

I don’t bombard twitter with bad beat stories because we all know the beats need to happen in order for poker to exist. There needs to be a luck factor in order to attract casual players and for us to be able to make a living playing the game. I know this, you know this. My buddy Jaymes knows this. But I don’t give a fuck as I bombard his text message inbox with beat after beat in an effort to release the pain.

KK < AT aipf

Flop top set vs bottom set, get most of the money in on flop, he turns quads. Then the game breaks.

Open J9, two callers. Flop A94 guy checks I bet 21 guy calls other guy folds. Turn J I check he bets 60 w/ 75 back I shove he tank calls, river 4. AT good.

Open 5h8h, btn calls. Flop K76 two diamonds, I bet 15 he calls. Turn 6x I bet 22 he calls. River 4x I bet 60 he makes it 140.

1 limp, I raise AA 14, sb calls limper calls. Flop K97, check to me I bet 32, sb folds limper calls with 70 behind. Turn 9 I shove he calls w/ T9 ftw.

3 limps I raise AsQs 21 from sb, 2 calls. Flop T42 one spade. I bet 35 one call. Turn 8s I bet 85 w/ like 50 behind, he raises. River x, 22 good.

88 < Ah3c 6h7hTh

AA < J7 QJ7

JJ < A8 T64 guy floats flop and magically finds an A.

You get the idea.

To crawl out of my hole, I was grinding at Treasure Island the other night. If you play 60 hours in a week there, they pay you $599 cash back, and I was putting in some hours after a long session earlier in the day. I had already dusted off one buy-in thanks to a superfish waking up with AA vs my JJ on a board that made it difficult to get away from.

I had about $250 in front of me when the action folded around to my button in our 5-handed game. I opened the action for $10 (which was a smallish raise for this game) with 3h5h looking to bring in the weak player in the big blind. The small blind, who was the only other decent player at the table, reraised to $25 and I made the call after the big blind folded. I’m looking to connect hard in some sort of pair/two pair/combo-draw fashion or else I’m dumping the hand, as I know the sb isn’t looking to waste time getting into a leveling war when there are 3 fishy players at the table. The flop comes A35 rainbow, and he checks. I don’t know why but he likes to check for deception more often than he should, in my opinion, and I already know that all the money is going in at some point. I check back and the turn is a 7. We waste little time; he bets $30, I raise to $75, he snap shoves. Just after I make the insta-call he asks, “Do you have AK?” which immediately defines his hand as AQ. I hold up my cards so he can see them and I say “Two pair…” just before the river falls, which I quickly follow up with “…no good” as we both identify the Ace.

I’m sure it was written all over my face before that last hand even started. The start of 2012 was the worst 1.5 weeks of poker in as long as I can remember, with every session ending deeper in a darker hole. Grinders know never to say “sorry” when they beat someone in a hand because it was exactly what they’re trying to do and will try to do it again the next time. But when that ace fell on the river and I immediately got up to leave, the guy who won the hand patted me on the shoulder and said “I’m sorry.”

I didn’t have it in me to say “It’s ok” or even anything at all. I just put on my backpack and trudged out of the poker room, head hanging and eyes staring at the casino carpet. Wondering what the hell I’m supposed to do.

Follow @AndrewNeeme for his uplifting take on life and living as a low-stakes Vegas grinder.

4 Comments to ““Two Pair, No Good””

  1. Anonymous


    Keep your head high. We all have some bad streaks and its part of the lifestyle. My suggestion… instead of spiraling into a deep tilt, why not focus your time on what you can fix?

    I know when I was in college I had about a one month streak where it felt like I should just give up on poker all together. I was on tilt and was simply throwing money away because of it. Then one of my buddies I played with every week gave me the same advice and I found of my biggest faults (holding on to good hands knowing I’m slaughtered). Managed to help me so I figured it was time to pass it on.

    Good luck and win big!

  2. Andrew Neeme

    Hi N. Thanks for the comment. 

    I’d like to think that while I’m at the tables and after losing some hands, I manage tilt fairly well and take the same lines no matter what happened previously in a particular session. That’s probably not always the case but I tend to handle tilt relatively well. What I would really like to figure out is, as you alluded to, how to leave results at the table and not wallow in a downswing away from the felt. I definitely have some difficulty separating poker from the rest of my life and I think creating a good sense of balance is key to a poker player’s overall happiness. 

    Best of luck to you too.

  3. Dave Ferrara

    I don’t think it’s terrible to “take poker home with you,” as most people with “normal” jobs do this daily. 
    Sometimes you need to have a few beers with friends and colleagues and talk about your bad day (or week) at the office.Thing is, whether that bad day at work negatively affects your personal life.
    In college, I attended a journalism seminar in which a classmate announced, “I want to have a life outside of journalism.”
    That can be just as tough to do in journalism as it is in poker.
    In the course of about a dozen years as a reporter, I’ve met lots of people who were bad, good and great at their chosen professions. 
    The people who seemed happiest: A high-priced lawyer who would read Poetry magazine on cross-country flights, a mayor who was a fitness guru, a senator who learned to fly. This sort of thing.  
    I also spent lots of time talking with a cold-blooded murderer who enjoyed “sunsets and shit.” But that’s another story. 

  4. Andrew Neeme

    So… balance and shit?