Saturday, July 10, 2010

Epic tilt

Last night's session was the worst of my poker career. After hitting the felt at the first table I joined, I completely lost perspective and made some incredibly stupid decisions. It took me more than an hour to hit the felt at the first table. It only took a single hand at the second table! And at the third table, it only took about three hands. Technically, I didn't actually hit the felt at the third table; however, my crazed betting of the final hand left me so severely crippled that I just called it a night (approximately 5 hands too late!).

Thinking back over the debacle, I can sort of understand how things could have gone so horribly wrong. I was "card dead" for most of the night, and therefore I backed the few good hands I finally did get much too strongly. In other words, my patience was completely worn out. I tried to make things up in a hurry, which is a very bad idea. Baseball players strike out much more often when they're trying to hit a home run than they do when they're just trying to get a base hit. Similarly, poker players take the biggest hits to their stacks when they're trying too aggressively to win a huge pot.

In a nutshell, I was classically on tilt. The most basic poker thought processes don't even occur when you're on tilt. The one hand I played at the second table was a perfect example of this. I was dealt ace queen offsuit. The flop came 2 4 3 rainbow, the turn was a 5, and the river was a 3. So I'd made a 5 high straight on the turn, but in my addled, incapacitated state, I couldn't formulate the realization I would have made if I'd had even a single functioning poker brain cell left in my head at the time -- namely, that I had the lowest straight, and anyone continuing to bet almost certainly had a higher one. That was indeed the case. A $40,000 lesson! As Benjamin Franklin said, "Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other".

delta: $-117,184
balance: $503,614

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