Bad Beats

Because I needed an image, I decided to put up some completely unnecessary bragging.

Warning: This post is just thinly attempt to casually drop the fact that I lucked into winning a tournament this weekend.

In Rounders, Matt Damon’s character quotes Confessions of a Winning Poker Player: “Few players recall big pots they have won, strange as it seems, but every player can remember with remarkable accuracy the outstanding tough beats of his career.” This weekend, I had an interesting object lesson on this very point. Because the wife was in Vegas for Blogworld 2010, I joined her for a weekend in Vegas, but likewise because she was at the conference and I wasn’t, I got to spend a lot of time entertaining myself. For me, in Vegas, that means poker. Really quick, the bragging: I managed to finagle first place in a 38-person $50 buy-in tournament Saturday, which allowed me to increase my meager bankroll. On the other hand, though I ended the weekend up, I also put down $300 just on my own this weekend that I never saw again.

The funny thing is, on Sunday, I couldn’t remember any of the hands that I thought I played well, or that I even lucked out and got. I still remembered two major hands, though. In one, though I don’t remember the details, I managed to get bested on pocket aces by somebody hitting their straight on the river. The other one I remember much more clearly – maybe it was so ridiculous that I was in it at all. I was sitting at a 1-2 No-limit Hold’em table, and started the hand with K-2 (unsuited). Because I was trying to make something happen, and I was still feeling a bit flush from the tournament the day before, I raised pre-flop, figuring that if I made my hand, I didn’t want anybody else hanging out and hitting an even more marginal hand to beat me. I had two callers. The flop comes: 7-2-2. Somehow, I had stayed in with nonsense and flopped a set. I check to the next player, he bets, the next guy folds, and I call. The turn is a rag — 10, I think. Now, if you’ve never played me in poker, you should know that at the table, I sometime cultivate a certain reputation for making… odd bluffs. This was the time to make that pay off. I went all-in. It was a paltry $50 or so, compared to the mass of chips ($300+) the other guy had, but in a cash game, you can’t help feeling each of those dollars as money you’re losing. Of course, this time, I was pretty sure I had it — to beat me, the other guy had to have stayed in with an incredibly weak hand pre-flop, or be sitting on a pair of 7s, or less likely, 10s. Still, my heart was beating pretty fast when he called me quickly and flipped open his cards. With a sigh of relief, I saw that he had hit his 7 on the flop and his face-card kicker wasn’t even worth worrying about. Of course, you all know what happened next. As he sat, surprised I had played that nonsense, and worse, beaten him with it, the dealer turned up the fifth card. Goddamn 7.

I can’t remember a single hand I won in a weekend of, on the whole, winning poker, but that hand is going to stick with me for the next couple months.