I finished fourth last night at the Cowboy Poker League Tourney. Ordinarily, that is not too bad a finish, but last night there were only four players in the tourney.We were playing Seven Card Stud Poker High/Low. Originally, the games were supposed to be just Seven Card Stud, played High only, but there was a mix up at FullTiltPoker and the game turned out to be Seven Card Stud High/Low. That did not change my results. I was only involved in 31 hands before finishing the tourney. Congratulations to the top two prize winners. The tourney summary was as follows:
When asked how I had finished so poorly as I had previously finished first place three times and third place once, I could not really figure out what had happened. Did I play too many hands with bad cards, did I play too few hands with good cards that did not hold up. I really was not sure. I think it was a combination of playing poorly when I had good cards and not folding when I had bad cards.
In a tourney, you play until you either win all of the chips or loose all of your chips. It is just that simple, baring of course illness or family emergencies. At a cash game, I can decide if I am playing poorly or am just not feeling well and I can stop playing. This is providing that I recognize the signs in time. Of course one of the signs is seeing my chip stack going down. That is usually a good indicator that I might not be playing well. You at least have to ask yourself if you are playing your best poker. If yes, you continue to play until you are either tired or you are no longer playing good poker.
Playing good poker means making the right decisions even if you don’t get the results you expect. Playing bad poker is chasing draws without proper pot odds or enough outs to make staying in a hand profitable. The trick however to this is to be self aware and that is not always easy. Human nature being what it is, there is always the tendency to continue to play if you are losing in order to get even or gain back chips you have lost. Mike Caro, the “Mad Genius of Poker”, says that “you are always even” no matter what your chip stack is at any moment. He also stated that “chips not lost are as good as chips won”. It takes awhile to get one’s head wrapped around those concepts, but once you do, you can see how they apply to your game.
How can you tell when you are playing bad poker? What do you do about it? How do you decide when to stop during a session (cash games only)?