Monday, March 13, 2006

For Revenge, Don't Call

You've been there. Some douchebag makes a re-steal and you lay down the best hand. You flop a great draw only to have a donkey push his whole stack into a small pot. An assbag 19-year old with acne and a whiny laugh hits his bloody gutshot on the river and practically creams his pants as he throws out a bet.

You want revenge.

Why? Because you're smarter than he is, goddammit! (AND a better player AND you got better SAT scores than he could dream of AND you don't live in your mother's basement in New Jersey wanking off to Sweidish urine porn for fuck's sake!)

Revenge is sweet. Especially against assbag 19-year olds. But it doesn't belong in tournament poker. Why? Because vengefulness causes one to refocus their attention on another when it should be firmly placed on oneself in a tournament setting. Where is MY stack in relation to the table? How am I playing aginst the eight or nine others? Who will fold to a re-raise coming from ME? What image am I giving off? These are the things we should be thinking at all times, not stuff like "how can I bust this guy and make him pay for what he did, that STUPID FUCK!!"

Vengeance leads to bad moves and loose calls. Bad moves and loose calls lead to losing. And losing leads to tilt. How much do we hate tilt? It's perhaps my least favorite state of being. Yet I find myself there all the time.

I'm arriving at some sort of a point, I promise.

I think it was one of those sexual dynamos, Sklansky and Malmuth that wrote that we go on tilt because we don't understand why the move we made was wrong. And it is only in reliving those moments outside of the cloud of tilt and examining why our decisions were wrong that we not only make strides in our game, but we prevent future tilt. Or at least try to.

Here's two terrible moves I made in this afternoon's $5.5o Craaaaazy Rebuy on Poker Stars. The hands have three things in common: (1) I made a bad decision, (2) I lost the hand, (3) my bad decisions were motivated by revenge.

1. During the rebuy period I was seated to the left of a player that was going all-in on literally every single hand. It was incredibly frustrating, though it created a lot of action for the table. I had accumulated a huge stack of 16K by the third level, and this guy had probably rebought in excess of ten times. Just after he did yet another double rebuy and made a miracle double-up to 6K chips with queen-rag, he pushed in from MP and I found KQ suited. It's 6000 of my 16K to call.

Even though it is a rebuy tournament, I feel that this is a frighteningly easy fold in retrospect. There's no reason to risk that percentage of my chips just to catch him with his hand in the cookie jar yet again. But there I was, caught up in the moment. With 16000, I should be overjoyed about where my stack is at only the 25-50 level and wait for a better opportunity, perhaps against a different player.

I called like an idiot. He had the best hand that time with AJ and doubled through me to $12K. Of course, he stopped going all-in on every hand right after that. I still had over $10K left and it wasn't the end of the world for me, but it was a terrible decision nonetheless.

2. Late in the second hour of the tournament. 200-400/50 blinds and I have an above-average stack of about 15,000. A hyper-aggressive player had been moved to my table a few orbits ago and has been stealing every pot in sight. He has an avatar with a picture of his smug little face and layers of gold chains. Any time I tried to steal the blinds, he'd flat-call from the blinds and checkraise all-in my continuation bet on the flop. I was pretty sick of it. I had just folded to him twice in that sort of situation and was definitely looking for a hand to bust him with (here's that revenge thing again).

I was dealt 77 in third position and put in a raise to 1200. He flat-called from position. The flop came 3 4 4, pretty great for me. I decided to try his own trick back at him and checked, intending to check-raise. But he pushes all-in. It's my whole stack to call. And he'd make this move with pretty much any hand.

I should have folded. Absolutely. There are much better places to get my money in. But I just wanted revenge. I had lost patience with being pushed around. I just wanted to beat his donkey maniac ass. So I called off my whole stack. Who's the donkey now?

He had JJ and took every last one of my chips. 20 minutes later, he had bled almost all of them all off to the rest of the table.

Folding in that position would have just set him up to make further stabs at me and I could have potentially trapped him with a huge hand and really got paid off. Instead, I trapped myself.

Sometimes, folding is not for pussies.

In the face of so many loose-aggro internet maniacs and all-in monkeys, patience needs to remain my virtue. This game is not about "beating" people. Tournaments are about survival, and surviving longer than those doofuses ever want you to.

When I played MY game today, I flourished. My game is tight and patient and crafty with flashes of aggression my opponents don't see coming. That game gets me deep and it gets me chips. I know I can be too cautious at times and it's something I struggle with. But vengeful, longball moves like I made today are for donkeys. They'll only make you lose. And what does losing mean? Tilt. And we know how much I hate that.

When in doubt, fold. For revenge, don't call!


lucko said...

Great post! I did basically the same thing in a tournament last week. Very frustrating.

Yoyo (Poker Poison) said...

I'm always amused. Nice post!

Tommy said...

Excellent lesson. This is one of the things that really makes a difference in tournament play, where losing one bet that _might_ otherwise be a +EV call in a normal cash game can end your tournament life, costing you so much more in the long run.

I constantly have to tell myself in situations like that, "Let the donkeys fight it out, and take on the last one standing."

And when I just can't resist making the call, I'll literally say out loud to myself right before calling, "This is a bad call, I am playing just as badly as he is".

By reinforcing it audibly, and getting bitten damn near everytime, I've caused myself to start laying down way more often.

Great post.

Poker4peace said...

Well said.

Patrick Schreiber said...

Insightful post. I don't normally comment on poker blogs but I just wanted you to know that your advice is right on the money, I wish I had the kind of will power needed though.

Irritable Male Syndrome said...

..."wanking off to Sweidish urine porn for fuck's sake!)"

I got to that part and thought; wow, you've spent way too much time around Pauly.

Max said...

First off, I agree with Chad.

Second, I'd say great post if it wasn't for the fact that without the revenge factor, a Class A Donkey like myself wouldn't make any money!