That’s the story of poker isn’t it? Bad beats, suck-outs, losing with hands that should win is part of the game and it’s something you have to get used to. Unless of course you are a terrible player and you never get your money in ‘good’. Then I guess you don’t have to worry about how it feels to be at the poker table and lose a big hand that you were just positive was going to hold up for you.
As a poker player you have basically two things that you need to do well: get your money in when you have the greatest percentage to win the hand should it go to showdown, or force your opponent to fold. Obviously there are about a million fine points in between point A and point B, but suffice to say, if you can get your money in good most of the time, that’s all you can ask of yourself. If someone sucks out on you, so be it. You cannot change the way you play or decide that the Poker Gods are against you. If you do that, you might as well quit playing poker. Lest you think that it is easier to sit and write about this in a post and that I can’t imagine how awful it feels when a suck out happens, let me share this scenario from a recent WSOP event.
I was playing the Colossus about 6 hours into flight 1b. I had accumulated a better than average stack and my reads had been spot on. I could not find anywhere at this point where I had made a bad play and I hadn’t had any real bad beats. I had tangled several times with a hyper-aggressive pro who was 3 seats to my right, as had pretty much everybody else at the table. This guy played a ton of hands and as such, his chip stack has experiencing huge swings up and down. He had just lost 2 massive hands in a row, one on a bad beat, and another where he had to lay down a hand after putting a ton of chips in the middle. He has down to a little over $2k in chips to my $13k and as I correctly surmised, he was ready to tilt off the rest of his stack.
The action folded to him and he pushed all in for just over $2k. I looked down at A-Q on the Button and it was a no-brainer call for me. All I had to do was figure out if I wanted to push or not to keep one of the Blinds out of the action so I could isolate with Mr. Tilty. I pushed and everyone folded. He flipped over J-5 off suit and my A-Q was in pretty good shape. A flop of 4-A-6 put me in even better position. At this point in the hand, I am a nearly a 94% favorite to win going into the Turn. You can probably guess how things turned out: 7 on the Turn and a 3 on the River gave him a runner for a straight and he had to sit back down at the table after getting up to leave, and collect his chips.
Sure, this bad beat didn’t cost me all my chips, but it did get in my head a little bit. Two things happened here: there was a $4k chip swing to my stack. That is, instead of being up to $15k, I was down to $11k. Not good. Perhaps worse, a hyper-aggressive player was still in the game rather than at the rail and now I still have him to content with which is never a good thing.
My point of all this is not to share yet another Bad Beat story with you. Any moron in the world who plays poker can and has done that. My point is that even when it happens in big tournaments like the WSOP, you have to remain in the same mind-set. If you are not able to do this, you will leak chips even when if you don’t notice that you are. When things like this happen you just have to tell yourself that you got in with the best hand, in the best situation, and sometimes shit happens. Any other thoughts that go through your head will eventually influence your play. Get up from the table and go to the bathroom if you have to. But don’t sit and stew about it and don’t complain to the rest of the table about how unlucky you are. Everyone knows it anyway. Keep it to yourself, keep your head down and play the same poker that took you into that ‘good’ situation to begin with. Your bankroll will thank you for it later.
Contact Chris Wilcox at: firstname.lastname@example.org