Life and Poker, running good and playing bad.

As poker players we learn to accept our fate somewhat.  We get it all in on the flop, see our opponents hands, and know what chance we have to win the pot.  In some ways, waiting for the next two cards to come is the most exciting part of poker.  It can also be the most agonizing, especially on the money bubble, or at the edge of a big money jump.  Do we need a miracle?  Do we have to worry about half the deck improving our opponent?  It's out of our hands.  The deck, or fate, is predetermined, nothing is going to change the order of the cards as they hit the table.  All we can do is wait.

To me, those moments, where the fate of my tournament life is out of my control is not only exhilarating but also  a teaching moment.  There are times in life, where there are things that are not in your control.  All you can do is wait.  What's done is done and what will be will be.  Nothing you can do in the meantime can change things.  When you become a parent, these times magnify in intensity, especially when it comes to your health or your child's health.

When pregnant with our third child we discovered a heart issue the doctors picked up on a sonogram and verified in subsequent tests.  In a quirk of nature sometimes this particular condition could heal itself as the child develops.  Sometimes they don't.  We had our son early so that if things didn't improve we could get him the medical attention he needed.  After birth all we could do was wait for the next two cards to come. What would the tests say.  Essentially it was a flip.   We prayed, our friends and family prayed for us, and we couldn't be happier.  Maybe prayer helped.  Maybe it didn't.  I know on a card table it can change the order of the deck, but maybe in life it can.  We won.  He's been healthy and vibrant ever since.    

Still, even if this most dramatic of life events, playing poker, on some level helped me control my emotions, when all we could do was wait.  Instead of a dealer revealing fate, a doctor would do some tests and show us the results.  On the flip side there's no exhiliration at all, only agony.  However, as a poker player that waiting, that moment before the reveal can be marginally more tolerable.  Half your stack is at risk, if you lose it, you lose it and you play with less chips.  If my son has a condition, regroup and deal with it, we are still in the game it's just a setback.

The last couple of months, I've had some similar scary personal events.  Again, fate is out of my hands.  Medical tests and results would reveal if my family would have to deal with some unfortunate things.  A couple of times they'd have scary consequences.  So far, we've gone ~two for two.

We aren't quite out of the woods on one but things look good for my son.  He's been sick on and off for a while, they did some tests and he had a sky high white blood cell count.  Google it and there is a very scary word that comes up for kids starts with a L.  Some follow up testing and a massive drop in the white cell count suggest that we are out of the woods on the really scary L word,  However, we still aren't quite clear on why he can't stay well but our big fears have been relieved.

The second one other was far less threatening than an on call doctor suggested to us.  In that case our daughter, already sick couldn't move her neck without crying.  The concern of course is meningitis and the on call doctor sent us to Children's hospital to get evaluated.  She essentially told me that regardless of the fact that our daughter lacked other important symptoms we had to go.

By the way, the doctor delivered this grim news in a condescending, you are a bad parent to even question this, kind of way.  Whoops.  Alright, this may be serious?

The irony is the doctor that looked her over five hours later when we finally got seen said in almost the exact same condescending tone that she didn't have meningitis, as though he questioned why we even brought her.  He delivered what was good news in a I couldn't be bothered kind of way as he told us she lacked the other symptoms (you know the ones I mentioned to the on call doctor) to worry about it.  Like we wasted his time.  Can't win with these guys.  Did he really think we wanted to spend five hours in a children's hospital waiting room, thinking our three year old might need a spinal tap and other painful prodding?  That's how we wanted to spend our Sunday night?   In some ways, poker is a metaphor, and tool for navigating life, and in some ways it falls short.  Sitting at children's hospital hearing screaming, crying children, and seeing sick kids doesn't have a parallel, especially when you have a little one on your lap who possible has to undergo a lot of pain.  

Now, we have one more flip to go.  If I had to pick two to go our way and one not to, I'd pick the first two.  The good news is, this is probably the least likely to be scary for us, so we are going into this one as a big favorite.  There's a small chance it could be bad, but we are running good this month.

Now, enough of the vaguaries of my family's health.  Just needed to get that off my chest a little bit, and I know I've hinted to some friends about these things so there's the update.    

Now, to the MSPT in Baton Rouge.  That was a bit of a roller coaster personally.

Won some satties playing great.  At one point in the span of an orbit I made a killer call with just a pair of twos, and then later I open folded kings.  Jacks bet, Aces raised and I got a stone cold read of massive strength.  Not queens strength, probably not the other two kings strength but aces.  I peeled my cards back in a way that I hoped the dealer would see what I was doing.  Then I mucked.  Flop came qq9.  Jacks checked.  Aces bet.  Jacks folded and Aces showed his hand.  That was sweet.

Then I played a mega on Friday trying to earn another Main Event ticket.  Two from the money, I misread a hand.  Literally thought I had Q9.  In battle of the blinds.  I got it in on the turn on an AQ10...Q board.  My opponent called and showed QJ... Coolered.  I then turned over 9... 8.  Wow.  Plenty of chances to get away from the hand had I read it right.  Think all those drives back and forth to Baton Rouge caught up to me.

I considered not playing Friday and just coming back Saturday.  Haven't made a mistake like that in a long time.  The early restart on Sunday made me reconsider it, and I played Flight A friday night.

That started off poorly, when in the big blind, I literally misread my very first hand and thought I flopped two pair.  This time I checked before the turn, and saw I just had top pair no kicker.  Luckily I scooped the pot when my kings were better than the pocket queens of David Weinstein.  Instead of steadying me again, I think it kind of tilted me.

A steady diet of getting pipped by kickers of flopping pair and flush or combo draws in the blinds but not getting there quickly had me at almost half my starting stack.  Then I played a hand as badly as I ever did.  I thought I had been playing way too passively with my hands and decided I was going to ramp up the aggression.  One of my favorite disguised hands to play is low suited connectors because I think I don't go nuts when I hit the flush and can get away from it when beat, or get paid when not. Also, my image was fairly tight, I had people concede the blinds to me when I raised AA and KK earlier (yeah, that didn't help my tilt either) and I showed.  So, if I hit them I knew I might get paid.

I got called by four or five players and promptly flopped a flush.  I c-bet and got called.  Board KQx.  Not putting the caller on AK (felt he was the type to reraise pre especially with his big stack).  Maybe AQ or KQ.  Thought he might push back with bottom set.  Possibly he had a bigger baby flush or even nut flush.  On turn, another queen fell and I bet.  He raised.  Here he has a full house or maybe a semi-bluff with just the A high draw.  I was pretty sure he had exactly KQ.  Still I hoped he had the far less likely hand I could beat and called.

 Remember when I said I was normally good about not going crazy with a baby flush.  Yeah, at this point I find the fold button, not on this day.  Then when I called, before the river even fell I was mad at myself for calling.  On the river, I was kind of trapped.  I knew if he had A high draw I could only get paid by checking and calling his bluff.  If he had me beat I was going to pay him off.  When I checked, I got a strong read of strength on his shove, and even though I had put most of my chips in the pot, I could have found a fold even then.  No, titled Bill just called off.


Hard to believe I can play hands so well a couple of days before and then play so badly a couple of days later.  Despite being tired there's no excuse for it.  Pretty grim to have to show that hand on a table full of players that I respect and then take my walk of shame.

Oh well, on to the next one.


Anonymous said…
A while back I noticed that the MSPT was scheduled to return to the Belle of BR in early 2015. However, now another stop is not even on their 2015 schedule. I guess that's because of the low turnout.

Do you have any information about this?
Anonymous said…
I'm not sure of the rationale. I think maybe it's turnout because they can get bigger fields elsewhere. It's a crowded market down here and timing is everything. They've gotten a couple events at Jacksonville Best Bet on the schedule so I suspect they are tackling things on the Coast from a new place.

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