Poker is Life

Self Awareness and Self Improvement through the game of Texas Hold'em

  1. 2009-01-04 16:46:39

    Use the Force, Luke

    Last night's game took place at my friends Alan and Roxanne's house in Burlingame. Eight players around their poker table in the living room. A really nice setting despite the hockey game on their big-screen TV in the corner.

    We'd all started with about 3800 in chips. My screw-up occurred as follows: It was the 2nd blind round at 40/80, and I was two players before the button. Several people checked to me. I looked down to see AQ off-suit and immediately made it 250 to go. The guy to my left calls (let's call him Willem DaFoe) as well as the "Puerto Rican" on the button (He's actually Filipino, but the group constantly jokes that he's Puerto Rican). Everyone else folds; so we've got three players, me being first to act.

    The flop comes 4 9 9. I look, I think; and my best guess is that no one's hit. I'm guessing my AQ is the best hand at the table; so I bet roughly half the pot: 500. Willem Dafoe folds, and the Puerto Rican calls without too much thought.

    The turn comes Queen. Wow. That's a really good card for me as, in my mind, it has clinched my hand as the best. Again, without too much thought, I bet roughly half the pot, thinking he will probably fold: I count out 1000 and place it into the pot. Without hesitation the Puerto Rican calls. ... At that moment my thought is "He's got a 9." I look at him, see a blank expression, and think, "He's slow-played me."

    The river comes something like a 2. It is my turn to act, and my intention is to check, but I am interrupted by the PR saying (out of turn) "All in."


    Now, I wouldn't really fault myself for how I've played so far. I don't think I'd had a reason to suspect trip 9's. But here's where I screwed up royally: I didn't listen to the voice that was yelling at me in my head.

    1) It was my strong feeling that he'd been slow-playing trip 9's.
    2) His eagerness to go all-in was a give-away that he held the best hand. It should have been a DEAD give-away considering he bet out of turn!

    And here are the other factors which I foolishly did not take the time to consider as well:
    3) He'd been calling quickly and calmly the whole way – no sign of deliberation.
    4) He had a healthy stack of chips – a little more than me in fact – so he knew he was putting a lot on the line with his all-in bet; It was obviously not out of any kind of desperation.

    So, instead of taking my cues from the wise information above, here are the amateurish thoughts that went through my head:
    A) There is a chance that he's got a pocket pair lower than Queens.
    B) I've put so much money in so far, I'd be really annoyed if I let myself be bluffed out of such a large pot.

    And here are the responses I should have had to those amateurish thoughts:
    A) Not likely. If the guy held even JJ, considering the Q on the board, he would NOT have gone all-in.
    B) I will be REALLY annoyed if I call with the worst hand. Besides, if I'd taken the time to think about it, I'd have only lost about half my stack, leaving me with about 2000 – well enough to remain competitive at that point in the game.

    Other than a 9, it occurred to me that he could have held KK or AA; another good reason to fold.

    Yes, I took a few moments to consider my next move, but apparently not enough time, because I gave in to the feelings of not wanting to be beaten at that moment. I traded in my surrender for the inevitable beat when we showed our hole cards. I didn't listen to my gut instinct NOR did I take long enough to come to a complete rational assessment.

    ... If I were able to freeze time for everyone else, and write down all my thoughts on paper (much like I'm doing now) and really taken my time to weigh the pro's and con's of calling, I'm pretty sure I would have folded. ...

    But I gave in to my irrational desire not to lose what I'd already invested. I chose to throw good money after bad. I decided to "take a shot" that he did not have me beat. I called, and was not surprised when he showed me the 9.

    Foolish human, I am. This is what I battle to overcome in this game and in my life in general. And this is why I am so drawn to poker.

    Posted by Phil at 2009-01-04 16:46:39

Comments on “Use the Force, Luke”

    • avatar for Ron Knee
    • Okay, it may take a bit more than "just do it"...

    • anonymous
    • I'm baffled by your human minds. Stop thinking like a human and just bet the right bet, play the right hand. Forget pride and possession and make the right moves for the sake of the move! The chip will follow this play. In short, "Use the Force".

    • avatar for Ethan
    • Nice post, good thought process.

    • avatar for Tony Gags
    • Lot of shady plays in poker lol. I won a pot at the Venetian once where the guy called a 200 bet on river without putting his chips in. They shipped me the pot and the guy tried to tell me he already put them in there. I'm like uh I don't add well but this pot is 200 short and you called 200 on the river, so I think you need to put those chips in there sir. lol

    • avatar for Jason M
    • one time, at the venetian (and maybe band camp), a guy in the small blind thought there was a chop so he folded, but somebody else had limped and i raised. this dude owed me the $1, but he wouldn't give it to me. eventually he threw it across the room, so the floor made him pay me. lol.

    • avatar for City50
    • The Rican was calling quick correct? Then he quickly called a 1K bet on the turn then went all in on the river out of turn? AIR BRAKES! RED FLAG! But just like you wrote too many thoghts in your head and going against your gut always makes you shit your chips away probably 80% of the time. Next time that happens call the guy a donkey, ripp your cards and thrpw your chips off the works.

    • avatar for Teresa
    • we so craaazy hahaaha

      that was nice, phil, i liked reading it.

      "If I were able to freeze time for everyone else, and write down all my thoughts on paper (much like I'm doing now) and really taken my time to weigh the pro's and con's of calling, I'm pretty sure I would have folded. ..." Ughhhh that happens too often! lol

    • avatar for Jason M
    • crazy puerto ricans :p

      nice post. even better title for your blog. i like it!

      i think the thought process you went through is the exact same thoughts that get me into trouble so much... wishful thinking to find a situation in which his bets "make sense" that your hand still beats (and inevitably, upon further review, the bets don't make sense).

      your post analysis is right on. 2000 in chips when the blinds are 40/80 is plenty. you may be able to snap off a big bluff there, but it's probably not worth the risk and your "reads" (calmness, betting out of turn) reinforced the fold.

      good analysis. better than complaining about how "some dude called with A9 and got really lucky". keep it up.

    • avatar for Teresa
    • no. lol

    • avatar for Tony Gags
    • Good blog. I love how you went through what you were thinking, pretty awesome. I wanna know why they call the Phillipino guy a Puerto Rican. Woulda been part of my read on that hand lol

    • anonymous
    • join the club

    • avatar for Phil
    • Would you care to elaborate?

    • avatar for Teresa
    • wow.