Monday, August 02, 2004

Bend Over and Take it Like a Man

I am still in a state of shock.

Last night in the $500+15 No Limit Holdem tournament on Pokerstars, the fifth event of WCOOP, there was a massive entry of 1642 with ensuing huge prize money, the pinnacle being the top prize of $180,620.

I was chugging along nicely with just over 200 left. I had well over the chip average with approximately 18,000 when the following hand occurred. Blinds are 300-600 with a running ante of 50. I have the BB. Everyone passes to the SB, who is a very aggressive Swedish player (you know what these Scandis are like!) who has slightly more chips than me, he raises it up to 1800. I have QQ. I reraise him 3600. He calls. Flop comes Q83 rainbow. Swede moves allin. I call (d'oh, obviously). On their backs, he shows T9 hearts. And the river brings a Jack (also, obviously).

Julian Gardner wrote this a Hendon Mob pro-tip over a year ago, "It's not how you play the hand where you take the bad beat. It's how you play the next one."

Now this all is very well and good if you're not a Grade 1 crack up merchant like me. The first time I played the main event at the WSOP I lost with AA v QQ when a he rivered a queen. I proceeded to drop a five figure fortune on the craps table in the next hour.

When I make mistake that costs me chips, I can accept it. Live and learn and hopefully never make that mistake again. But, the red mist tends to fall when I suffer a bad beat. Especially in a big tournament. For a short period of time, I wonder if playing poker is worthwhile, when so much of the outcome is down to luck. When the poker Gods frown on me that's when I am most vunerable.

Recently I have felt like a punchbag, taking beat after beat, punishing me for all the good fortune I've had for the last 2 years. What can I do to help me clamber up from the canvas over and over again?

All these poker magazines and websites have plenty of guff about how to play AK in the BB for two preflop raises or whether to play suited conectors in a tight game on the button. Why don't they publish something useful like how to get off tilt? Or how to play when steaming drunk? Or playing aginst someone you really hate?

With no craps tables available in my living room here in Darlington, the first reaction was to throw the computer out of the window. But, I tried something new. I bought in for $30 on a Pokerstars 25c-50c limit holdem table and for the next 30 minutes I terrorised them. If I had any pair or any draw, however remote, I would raise or reraise when it was my turn. I lost my 30 bucks sure enough, but had great fun, I cracked aces with 64 and twice made a backdoor straight when I only had 3 to the straight on the flop.

It was a cathartic experience. All tilt was removed and I slept pretty soundly. Perhaps I've discovered the cure for tilt... Putting 8 others players on tilt cures your case!

Meanwhile...has anyone else got any solution they find effective?


Blogger Belly Buster said...

I guess the Scandi had JJ you didn't actually say.

4:40 PM  
Blogger Harry Demetriou said...

This site gets better and BETTER, Well done Camel.

I guess the guy had a gutshot straight with 9T but the way you chose to deal with going on tilt after elimination is almost identical to what I do except I make myself play every hand be it in a stud or holdem game (I take any low limit seat available).

Additionally I will raise and/or reraise anybody who dares play a pot against me.

It's an expensive form of entertainment in terms of bets lost poer hour but who cares you're letteing off steam. I guarantee that within 5 mins more than half the table are staring at you and threatening to kill you and whining that you've spolt the game.

But it feels so good terrorising these opponents as you put it.

11:06 PM  
Blogger The Camel said...

D'oh. The article is edited now. Yes, he had T9. Need to proof read articles before I actually post them. Apologies.

3:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Badgirl,

I didn't quite manage to get my computer out of the window, but I did reduce my mouse to scrap plastic following similar Pokerstars experiences.

I have found the best solution of all to the problem - I have stopped playing on their site!

The constant, and I mean constant, stream of bad beats such as you have described have left me totally cold to their offerings. I know that the rewards for winning, especially one of their big tournaments, can be huge, but is it worth the pain? The cost of achieving anything there is at least three times its worth. I have had bad beats everywhere I know, but nothing even approaching what I get on Pokerstars. I even e-mailed their support to look at two specific patterns - never making a (nut) flush unless it gets beaten and always losing to a straight or better when starting with wired kings in stud hi-lo, which I seem to get at least once per session!. Their answer was "bad beats are everywhere, more hands means more beats etc". Cr#p.

Playing there can also disastrously affect your live game. It is easy to lose all relation to the (true) value of your cards and the (true) expected outcome. You wrote about your game suffering recently Keith, maybe you need a rest from them too.

3:39 AM  
Blogger chaos said...

'Why don't they publish something useful like how to get off tilt? Or how to play when steaming drunk? Or playing aginst someone you really hate'

Hi Keith,
This has been my axe to grind for a long time. In a lot of aspects of life we find out that we know what to do, but not how to do it. In poker it seems a trivial response 'fold your cards', 'raise' etc. There is no skill in actually doing this it seems, just knowing when to do it. As an example, someone might post and say I'v got 77 on the button, its Devilfish's BB. What do I do? Everyone might say 'Raise the pot'. But thats easy to say and not so easy to do I'm sure. There is a cost involved in doing this - having to be put through the ringer by the guy, get the verbal etc. Similarly, letting some guy you can't stand raise your blind two or three times and let him get away with it. That hurts. How do we avoid paying these prices, how do we get to simply not care ?
These are hurdles that successful players overcome, or perhaps they don't, perhaps its just their profile - round holes into round pegs.

As for the tilt side, I'm pretty gutted whenever I lose.
The big bad beats do hurt - I've not played in many big comps, but the hardest had to be when the guy rivered an A to knock me out of the WPT event. If it hadn't arrived I would have about 2.5 times the chip average. For days I had the painful image of my mind - screaming 'not the ace, not the ace' and staring in disbelief as it arrived. I was gutted but felt somewhat relieved at the same time - I could now relax and enjot the cruise. The trouble in these scenarios is that the long run doesn't help too much here. I'm not playing them week in week out ! But that isn't true for you, I guess.

Generally I find it easier to get over bad beats than bad plays. When I play badly it does get me down, especially when it is a play that I know is wrong. That's when I get worried. Because I haven't learnt a damn thing - I know its the wrong move but I'm not closer to eradicating it.

This is why so many posts that I read are pointless, because they aren't dealing with the issues. Some guy wants to know how he should have played some hand. Nine times out of 10 he knows how to play it, he justs wants to stop himself from playing it the wrong way again.All that happens is that the players ask the wrong questions and writers duly oblige and answer them. Or even if he does post a genuine quandry the the chances are there are 10 other hands that he playe wrong that weren't marginal at all - but he KNOWS he played them wrong so thats ok.

The writers aren't meeting the requirements of the poker players. As I've said before, I think the answer lies in reference points. Perhaps in time we'll see it.


9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or alternatively Chaos, people who know how to respond and react to such situations, having developed techniques over time, will keep them to themselves and not donate to other people the tools with which to take their own money.


10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10 commandments can never cover all poker sins.

I'm surprised there wasn't room somewhere on the list for splashing the pot. Not a problem at the top level maybe, but in a 20 quid rebuy with 5 different all-ins on the same hand, throwing an unannounced heap of chips at the main pot always seems to help....

Simon Galloway.

10:56 AM  
Blogger chaos said...

It's not an alternative to my view - the literature falls short - either through ignorance or choice. But in that respect it's no different to any other useful educational material on poker - it helps to improve decision making. At some stage these things laways get written. Personally, I don't think there is much academic thinkng in this field, people either do or don't figure out what works for them - for many people I suspect its hard to quantify.


11:08 AM  
Blogger Jim "The Bandit" Britton said...

Take some bandit training

7:48 PM  

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