I Love Myself
I spent four hours in the nightly $20 MTT on Poker Stars last evening, trading bets and pots with 700 of my closest friends. I could see the mountaintop--the Final Table--from my seat. I could smell the homemade apple pie--a big payday--cooling on the windowsill.
I busted out in 24th.
You'd think that disappointment would be the ruling emotion. So would I. But not this time. Because I played my fucking ass off.
Poker provides plenty of humbling moments, events that assault the confidence and pummel the bankroll. So when I get a chance at satisfaction, I'll take it. Especially when I end up short of the goal. In this case, the result ultimately doesn't mean a thing. It stung at the time, for sure. I replayed my last hand over and over for a while. But contentedly. I felt like it was just one of those nights where I put it all together. "In the zone," as folks like to say. One of those nights of affirmation.
"I can play this game. And play it well."
Lately, I've been guilty of making (at least) one egregious error per tourney. They've often been fatal. The prevailing issue is stubborness. Continuing to push a big hand in spite of the betting telling me I'm beat. Forcing the action when I've got the worst of it. "But I have good cards!"
Last night, I had a couple minor mis-steps. But I didn't compound the mistake with what I've termed the "Aw, fuck it" call. I have AKo in LP and I raise 4x. Get called by the BB. Flop comes TT4. Checked to me and I follow-thru with a big bet. BB raises me. Folding leaves me with only 5x the big blind. "Aw, fuck it."
But not last night. Last night I folded it. Last night, I folded AQs in position to a big pre-flop raise. Last night, I folded pocket 5s to a re-raise. Last night, I had the patience to wait for a better spot. The confidence to play my cards well when I got them.
I successfully changed gears all night. I pressured the shorter stacks, avoided the big stacks with everything but top holdings, stole whenever the opportunity presented itself.
And risked my chips when I had an edge. Like the hand I went out on.
We're down to three tables. Ours is 7-handed. I have 13x the BB. It's folded to me on the button and I go after the blinds (1500/3000) and antes with Kc3c. The BB, who has me covered, calls. Well, I'm probably behind, but he's not THAT strong with just a call. The flop is 5c4c2d. So, let's see, that gives me one...two...three...a gazillion outs. The only hands I need fear are Ax of clubs or a set. Pretty small group, though one that fits with the BB's pre-flop call. This all goes through my head as he moves all-in. I call. He's got A7o, no clubs. I've got 17 outs. Twice.
I don't get one.
I could sit here lamenting how close I was. How lasting a couple more orbits probably gets me to the final two tables, gets me a sizable jump in the ol' paycheck. I could curse the poker gods for not hitting me on the turn or the river.
Instead, I'm beaming. So much of the positive reinforcement in this game comes solely from results and bankroll considerations. Today, it's coming from the satisfaction of playing well. Kinda nice.
I'll be able to hold onto it at least until the next bad beat.