Thursday, June 14, 2007

An Honest Mistake

I'm embarrassed. I put up a post yesterday, declaring that I got the donkery out of my system, and I'm ready to bring my "A" game to The Mookie last night. And then I proceed to make such a huge donkey mistake that I send myself on tilt for most of the night.

I couldn't really get anything going last night. I had to fold 22 & AQo preflop against a couple of reraises. I chipped down to about 1k when I get AKo in the SB. Folds to Miami Don who raises to 155 (I think blinds were 25\50). I push, BB and MD fold. I steal a couple more hands, raise UTG with QQ, and soon enough, I'm back to a starting stack.

Then comes the death hand. This was at the 30\60 level, and I had lost some chips in a manner that I can't remember. I'm in the SB with A9o, and we get 3 limpers, including Miami Don on the button. I limp as well, getting 10:1 on my hand. Flop comes 7K9 rainbow. I check and surprisingly, it checks all around. Turn is a 3. I bet 240 into the 300 pot, assuming my 9 could be good. Everyone folds but Miami Don. River is a Q.

This is where I make my mistake. I check, and Miami Don bets about 1\2 pot. I think about what he could have. 33 crossed my mind. JT makes a straight, Q9 could be a possibility as well. The only thing I can really beat is a complete bluff. There are two clubs out there, so perhaps he's trying to bluff with a busted flush draw. Yeah, that's it. I make the call for 1\3 of my stack.

Miami Don shows 33 and I'm desperately shortstacked.

I don't pick up anything pushable until I get A2d in the BB with a raise in front of me. I push, he calls with AT, and the flop is all black. IGHN.

After the game, I was FUMING at myself for making that call. Seriously? 3rd pair on the river? Against Miami Don? How many people are making that call? And what's worse, I can't actually figure out what made me make that call. Curiosity? Do I really have to call off 1\3rd of my stack just to confirm that I'm beat?

I beat myself up afterwards. I've been playing poker for 3.5 years now. This kind of the call is something I'd expect from someone who's been playing for 3.5 DAYS, maybe weeks, but certainly not YEARS. I know better than that. I could just imagine the look on Don's face. A9o? If he's getting a call, I'm sure he's expecting me to show Q9, maybe Q7 at best. But middle pair alone?

I felt sick & depressed. It's just so goddamn frustrating to be making these kind of mental mistakes at this stage in my poker "career". And that's what this was, it was a mental mistake. It was a lack of focus & discpline, a failure to think things through and realize that the only thing I'm beating is a bluff, and that calling off so many chips on this hand was not the optimal play.

What made it more embarrassing was that I did this during a Blogger game. I'd consider myself to be a fringe member of such a closely knit group, but it's making calls like this that will keep me on the fringe. I don't have the bankroll to play each Blogger event, and while I know that I can't win everytime, I'd like to think that I'd be more focused and play my best when I do take the opportunity to play one of these games. And although most of those in the game last night don't really know me or my blog, it still makes it worse that I made that play in The Mookie. Against a bunch of unknown players, I wouldn't be so upset about it, but against a group of players that I have a lot of respect for, it's disheartening.

I did make one good play last night. Once the tilt set in, I knew what usually came next - donking off my bankroll at higher stakes, playing under less than optimal emotional circumstances. Not this time. Instead, I cashed out most of my winnings from my 90 seat SNG win. I promised my girlfriend I'd take her out to a nice dinner, and I wasn't going to waste that money away. So I took out enough for that, and a little bit extra. Now's probably a good time to use that extra on picking up HOH2, because God knows I could use it.

I know it probably seems like I'm being overly hard on myself, and perhaps that's true. We all make bad calls from time to time, but there was something just so obviously bad about this call that bothered me. I'll pick myself up, get back into the game, and start winning again, I know this. But I'm never going to progress unless I get past making mistakes like this. My skill level has plateaued, and if I ever want to get into the WSOP with at least a fighting chance, I have to learn from these mistakes.


At June 14, 2007 at 11:57 AM, Blogger Alan aka RecessRampage said...

You know what's funny? It's a thin, thin line between a donkey call and a great pick off. Sure, Don is less likely to steal that pot off and sounds like you kmew that so that's why you're pissed. But if that's the donkiest call you've made, then you're doing fine. Hang in there man. You win some you lose some. Fuming/tilting over losing is never the answer, that's for sure. One of my greatest assets is the fact that I don't tilt easy. I can get back to playing solid in a very short period (if I tilt at all). And I think that's very important.

And I like your goal. Hopefully, I'll be in the WSOP by 2010 also. :)

At June 14, 2007 at 1:25 PM, Blogger TripJax said...

what rampage said.

and i'll add, it's much better to learn from perceived mistakes in a $10 game amongst friends than it is in a huge tournament with life changing money amounts. learn from it and be better for it...

good post.

At June 14, 2007 at 2:48 PM, Blogger Matt said...

Thanks for the comments so far. If there's one thing that I am good at, it's staying off tilt, even of the bad beat variety. The result of this hand was less tilt than it was disappointment.

I guess what made it so frustrating is this: say this was a situation where I was teaching my girlfriend how to play. I'd be telling her to fold, and explaining the reasons why. Yet in my shoes, I make the all.

It's those in-the-moment lapses of clarity & focus that I still need to prevent.

Thanks for the kind words, much appreciated.

At June 15, 2007 at 8:56 AM, Blogger Alan aka RecessRampage said...

One thing to add: If you can, find someone to teach poker to. Just like anything else, you learn so much more by trying to teach it. Like, this blog for example. By me writing down on my blog the examples of what I did good or bad and trying to explain to others, I sometimes notice that what I write isn't necessarily the thought process I had... and I am better for it because next time, I am thinking in the terms of what I am explaining. It's like you know something. By teaching, you're forced to apply that knowledge in clearer terms and that helps a lot.


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