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.