Monday, October 16, 2023

It Is Official: Poker Sucks Dick

 I can't really pinpoint the first times that I began playing "serious poker" -- not just playing a few games while goofing around with friends. It must have been sometime after Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP Main Event in 2003. I had perhaps watched some of the ESPN WSOP broadcasts before then -- I don't really remember. But it is likely that I stepped my feet gingerly into online poker sites like Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker somewhere just short of 20 years ago. After cutting my teeth on play money games, I finally deposited some money on a few sites and began to play -- mostly tournaments at first. As the years progressed, I lost my desire to play in tournaments, largely when I took some brutal beatings by idiots in tournaments hosted by Illinois Charitable Games in various central Illinois settings. Along with those experiences, I found that I was tired of drowning on the river in some online poker sites, where many people questioned how random the random number generators really were. When it became more difficult to find freezeout tournaments, my decision to concentrate on cash games became more set in stone. I am aware of variance and know that the poker gods can really be fickle. After having a really bad downswing last year, I went on an unreal heater. Well, for the past several months, I have had a bad downswing. It seems like nothing goes right when you hit the skids. It took a long time, but after all these poker years I finally have divined the true nature of the beast: Poker Sucks Dick.

I began frequenting casinos in the 1980s. After having much success with slots, a downswing with them was part of what led me to poker. Poker always seemed to be sort of a strange match with me. In real life, I had this respectable job in higher education, often supervising a number of people and being responsible for some significant aspects of the school. Part of what I did was make sure that my reputation was spotless. I was always a pretty straight arrow with a wholesome image. In contrast, my early days with online poker saw me using any profanity and mind games I could with some of the cretins who were prevalent. And despite meeting so many great people via poker, let's face it: there are some really unseemly people and situations in poker. But what else?

All my life I have lived by certain credos. I was gifted with a good head on my shoulders. I was generally pretty successful with most things things I attempted since I was pretty smart, worked hard, and tried to have the best intentions. I had a long, successful career in my field and now am still trying to find my way around in retirement. The thing that has confounded me most has been poker, especially learning to cope with the ups and downs. Frankly, I have been fortunate to have had many ups in life and struggled with the downs. The downswing I've had in poker just slays me because I can't somehow just fix it, as I have been able to do with most other things on my life  when things went askew.

Earlier this summer, for instance, I had a horror show of a bad five session poker odyssey. In those five sessions, I had these outcomes: Winning sessions: one; Ran pocket Kings into pocket Aces: one; Lost set over set: three. I seriously began to wonder which poker god I offended to award me such outcomes. Many of my other sessions have been filled with other instances of being completely card dead, losing to underdog hands, and generally struggling to go home with even a modest profit. This led to my deceleration of poker sessions and in fact seemed to make my recent volunteer involvement with a local non-profit agency become a refuge where what I did was important and appreciated. And I didn't lose money. And I didn't curse the poker gods for crapping on me. However, this past Saturday, I decided to play a poker session at  Lone Butte, which is about a 45-minute drive from my house. I was hoping to turn things around and maybe even hit a high hand. I wasn't prepared for what would happen there and later on at my usual place, Talking Stick Resort.

Lone Butte

Hand 1: Playing $1/2 NL with a $300 maximum buy in. Most stacks at the table were between $200 and $400. I was dealt pocket Kings in the big blind. A couple of players limped in and I raised to $12 to get some action. I got only one caller. The flop was a beauty: K-4-Q. I raised and my opponent called. Sweet. The turn was another 4, giving me the full house, Kings over 4s. I was hoping that my opponent hit a King or a Queen, so I bet. My opponent put out a big bet that would take about half my chips. It was thespian time as I faked mulling over what to do. When I thought that I had sufficiently acted long enough, I shoved all in. He instacalled. I don't remember what the river was because my opponent turned over pocket 4s, meaning that he had the only hand that could beat be when the true one-outer came on the turn. I was shocked. Not only did he felt me and win a pot of $600+, his quad 4s won the half hour high hand jackpot, meaning that he got an extra $250 that should have been mine, as I saw it. Damn!

Hand 2: I was on the button with Ks3s. There were several limpers, so what the heck -- I also limped. The flop was 3-3-J. I was hoping someone had a Jack. Everyone checked. The turn was a 3, giving me quads and potentially a high hand bonus. Everyone else checked, and I put out a bet to get more money in the pot and, if nobody called, I didn't have to worry about an Ace hitting the river, negating my potential high hand (both hole cards had to be used). One person called. The river was a rag. When I bet, my opponent folded. I turned over my hand and said "High hand." It held for a $250 bonus. Sweet, I thought, the poker gods might be having mercy on me. I began building my stack up and decided to continue playing as the table had some players who appeared to be pretty weak.

Hand 3: By this time, the table had turned over except for a jerk in seat three. We had almost gotten into it earlier. He was the initial raiser and, after the flop, I bet into him. I had apparently done this a time or two more than he would like, and he three bet me a substantial amount. I had a decent hand but not one that I thought good enough to call or four bet. He then snidely made a remark about how he was tired of my betting into him and that I couldn't have it all the time. He was mostly talking shit about me to the guy next to him, who was getting amused as I answered back. The tension level was rising and I was pretty sure the refereeing would not be impartial with a regular vs the interloper (me). Fortunately, that was the last we talked. I'm sure he knew that I was laughing inside when he got felted. Anyway, with the tension pretty close to normal and with my stack being pretty healthy, I looked down to see pocket Queens. I raised and got two callers. The flop was Q-8-3. I decided to put out a small raise. The guy in seat one, who was pretty new to the table and had been losing, jammed all in. The other caller folded and, of course, I called the smaller stack. The turn was a 6 and the river was an 8, giving me the best boat. I flipped over my cards and was shocked to see that my opponent had rivered the case 8! Once again, I was one-outed and lost to quads. I can't even remember the last time I was one outed, much less having it done to me twice in the same session. I was flabbergasted. My stack shrunk some, and after not connecting in a few more hands, I decided to leave and get some dinner. I felt pretty fortunate to be down less than $100 for the session, but really -- one outed twice?

My favorite BBQ place in the area was less than two miles away. I anticipated getting my favorite meal -- a large smoked potato with one or two meats added on top. When I attempted to order, I was told that they had run out of smoked potatoes for the day. Huh? The place still had 1 1/2 hours before it closed. The run bad continues! An interstate closure for construction forced me to drive past my usual poker home, Talking Stick Resort. I thought "What the heck - maybe I can break the curse here tonight. Mwahahaha - what a fool I am. 

Talking Stick

Hand 1: Playing my usual $1/3 NL Hold em. I bought in for $300. After burning about $50 on hands that missed the flop, I was dealt pocket 6s. The young, aggressive Asian guy to my left raised to $12. I called. We were heads up. The flop was 6-6-2. Yowsa! It been some time since I had flopped quads. The guy bet $40. I decided to just call. I don't remember the turn. The guy bet $50 and again I smooth called. I don't remember the river either, but there were now four clubs on the board. The opponent checked. I was hoping that he had a high club. I bet $100, praying for a call. He thought for a few moments and folded. I turned over my cards, announced "high hand" to the dealer, and scooped my pot. Unfortunately, the quads did not hold up and were beaten by quad Kings or Jacks for that half hour's high hand bonus. Can't win 'em all. 

Hand 2: Asian guy raised pre-flop to $15. He had been getting spanked on some hands and appeared to be tilting. I looked down at pocket 4s. I called as well as the big blind. The flop was a juicy Q-4-2! Quite unexpectedly, the Asian guy went all in. The only hand I had to fear was Q-Q. He had been aggressive in his hands, so I didn't put him on a hand that big. I called pretty quickly. The big blind thought, then decided to also call. The both had me covered. Since the big blind had not re-raised pre-flop, I was pretty sure I was way ahead of both. I anticipated tripling up. The turn was a Queen. As it turns out, both players had a one Queen, so that was the case queen. They both had trip Queens while I had my 4s over Queens boat. The river stuck a dagger through my heart. It was a 2 -- one of only three cards in the deck that could lose me the hand. So both players went runner runner (case Queen and three-outer deuce) for full houses, and my full house was second best. Felted and discouraged, I called it a day. Stoopid poker.

How can anyone run so badly? And what a poker day. I got quads twice and was involved in two other hands where my opponent turned or rivered quads. I lost a hand where I flopped a set when the perfect cards came runner runner -- the case Queen and one of three river outs. Really -- how?

As you might guess, I am feeling pretty discouraged. In most things in life, doing the right thing advances you. In poker, luck has a way of disrupting even the best plays. Thus, I came to finally realize what I mentioned in the blog post title and the first paragraph of the post: Poker Sucks Dick.

What does this mean for the future? I'm not quite sure. Although I had been going to Las Vegas every 4-6 weeks earlier this year, the combination of Las Vegas fatigue, getting my ass handed to me in poker, my new volunteer gig, and the Las Vegas 2024 negatives (cyber attack, F1 traffic issues, reinstated parking fees, floods and insect attacks) have kept me away since July. I do plan to go there sometime around the week before Christmas to meet up with Very Josie and meet her sister. Until then -- I just down know. Probably no Las Vegas trips until then, and maybe even little b&m poker. The fun just seems to have been sucked out with my run bad over the past several months. *Sigh*

Thanks for reading! 😀