Archive May 2010: nath

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admission of failure

I blew it today. No bones about it.

I ran well and played well (and developed a pretty solid strategy for the format in the meantime) in today's early mini FTOPS event, a rush poker rebuy. I had some basic strategy for rush tournaments down-- specifically, I planned to just fold marginal spots, to 3-bet liberally, and to avoid the hell out of anyone who had me covered until/unless i had the goods.

Then I blew it.

With 22 left and $2M in chips (good for 6th place at 12k/24k blinds), I opened 76s in the CO (when I should have "quick folded"), the button (who had a history of using his stack to 3-bet light) reraised, and I (instead of 4-betting to take it down or folding) called. I then check-called his bet on an A72 flop. I thought for a while after a 6 turn, and led 400k. He raised somewhat quickly to 880k, and I (instead of stopping to think about this piece of information) insta-jammed. He called and turned over A7. The river was an ace and i busted in 22nd.

I screwed up the hand from beginning to end. I played a hand in a situation that could have busted me when I didn't have to, solely for reasons of ego. When I was sure I was right about his weak hand, I decided not to take the aggressive route and move to take down the pot, but to play the hand in the most potentially dangerous way possible-- a 3-bet pot out of position with a weak hand against someone who could bust me.

Now, why the hell would I do that?

I don't even know anymore. And that's what scares me the most. Late in a tournament, for just one hand, I'll do something incredibly self-destructive, incredibly counterintuitive, and incredibly against every core principle of winning tournament play I have adopted. And I will bust out.

It has happened multiple times and cost me lots of money. It happened on the final table bubble of a tournament last fall where first was almost $20k. It happened on the final hand of my 2006 WSOP final table. And I'm writing this because, well, I have to admit to myself that I have a problem with this.

I can't become a winning tournament player again if I completely self-destruct when the stakes are highest. I wasn't always like this. I used to be a stone killer. I don't know what happened to me; I'm just hoping that spelling it out and owning up to it will help me overcome it.


I've put a lot of hours in this week, which has me thinking about poker, which has me thinking about writing something about poker. It's late this hour, but all I really have to say is that it's a constant effort to get better. Being a professional poker player means doing lots of things well.

And if you're not getting ahead, you're falling behind; it's a constant struggle against the forces of entropy, of mediocrity, of negativity, that are always dragging on you. You must stay the right course.

I've got a long way to go but I'm working harder and harder.

P.S. I apologized if any of you have sent me messages or e-mail and I haven't responded. I've been very disorganized in that regard.

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