Double or Nothing!

Gambling man
Image by waffler via Flickr

Last night I played No Limit Hold ‘Em at while watching a previously recorded interview of Sarah Palin by Oprah. Lately, I had been playing my hands in what I called automatic mode so playing a cash game and watching a little TV at the same time should not be too big a deal. After all, I have been folding almost 85 to 92% of my hands pre-flop, even some of those when I was in the small blind as well.

The reason for most of my folding was that the table I was playing on was very aggressive and unless you had a strong hand or extremely good draw, you would be unable to call most of the pre-flop raises made by some of the aggressive players. Some raised the pot almost 6 times in a row so you knew they were playing power poker and were stealing the blinds. It is very unlikely to have a good starting hand in the top 16 that many times in a row.

If you were in the big blind or small blind when someone else raised the pot by at least three to four times the big blind, it was hard to defend when you were holding a 3 5, 7 8 or even a J 10. You really needed something to be able to either call or re-raise with. If you called and did not get a good flop you would be out at least 5 or 6 big blinds. Worse, if you did catch a pair with such a starting hand,  your opponent might have made a larger pair or trips. So in those circumstances, I would wait for AA, KK, QQ, JJ, TT, 99, 88, 77, ,66, 55, 44, 33, AK, AQ, Aj, or AT. Some of those hands I would even throw away if I was in early position or under the gun, meaning I was the first to bet or that there would be at least  four or five more to follow me if I bet or called the big blind.

28 hands were played while Diane and I watched the Oprah interview of Sarah Palin. I won a couple of small pots when I made pot size bets with no callers. Then I looked down and saw that I had pocket Kings, Cowboys. I was in early position so I put in a 4x the big blind raise or $2.00. I was re-raised by $2 and everyone else folded and I called. The flop was 6 K 10. with two cards of the same suit on the flop.  Unless my opponent was betting heavily on a flush draw, I was in good shape.  I placed a pot size brt, which left me with only a third of my stack. My opponent insta-called with no hesitation. The turn card was an Ace of diamonds which was a bit of a scare card as he could have had pocket Aces and this would have crushed my hand. I checked and he raised me all-in and I called as I was pot committed. Woot!!! He turned over AK against my KK. I had him dominated, as they say in the poker world. The only card he could catch on the river to win was one of the two remaining Aces. The river card was a 10, giving me a full house of Kings full of Tens for the best hand.

In just one hand, I had doubled up my starting stack from $25 to over $50 dollars. And only 29 hands had been dealt so far. This was going to be a great evening of poker for me. I had visions of increasing my bankroll even further by my careful playing style.

In less than five hands later, I was dealt pocket Kings again. I could not believe my good fortune.  I opened the pot by betting out $2.25. The opponent that I had beat with my last set of pocket Kings raised me to $7.50, pre-flop and I called. All of the other players had folded to this action. The flop was Qs,6s,Th, and I bet out a pot size bet of $16, trying to win the pot right there. My opponent shoved in his remaining $50 making it an all-in or fold decision for me. Without giving it too much thought, I called and was shocked to see that my opponent had pocket Aces. He had me crushed. The turn was a 5d and the river was a Jh. No help for me.

I lost my entire stack of $55 in just one hand. This was just like a game of double or nothing.  My wife looked over at me and said what happened? I said well, honey, that was variance. She looked at me and said “No dear, that was gambling!”. And she was right.  I had misplayed the hand. With my opponent’s raise, I should have figured out that he might have pocket Aces and when I did not improve at the flop, my best course of action should have been to check and fold if raised.

I did reload for another $25 and left the table an hour later with $19. Overall, I had lost $31 during the session.

Do you ever play on cruise control, not really following what is happening too carefully but just going by your hand value? Have you  ever made bad calls? How did you handle the loss? How did you keep from going on tilt?

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