Raise or Fold:  A Year of Risky Business

Writing and playing poker as if they were activities worth doing well.

Friday, May 1, 2009

One Good Decision At A Time

In a refreshing turn of events, I won my B League tournament last night, outlasting a field of 25 entrants. Although I played well, I cannot take any credit for the very nice run of cards I also enjoyed. It is a truism that no one wins a tournament without getting lucky several times, and having been at the ugly end of the luck stick many, many times of late, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the truth of the saying when I benefit from it for a change. I have solidified my position atop the leaderboard; with two games to go in the season, it will be very difficult for anyone to catch me.

I am reminded that, above all, in tournaments you cannot afford to make a mistake. Every mistake you make requires an extra-large portion of subsequent good luck to recover from it. Your fundamental job is to minimize the role that probability plays in your success. Don't let variance contribute more than its absolutely unavoidable share to the outcome! That means playing smart: hand selection, position, tournament stage strategy, player analysis, stack management, pot odds and control, and on and on. Any lapse in attention or discipline can be very costly.

Tonight is my last crack at the WSOP subscription series. I am currently in fifth position. The first two positions are pretty much locked up. In order to collect one of the payouts, I have to move up at least one step on the ladder. Several other players are also in the hunt. The challenge for me is to keep my eye on the prize, make one good decision after another, and just skip the mistakes. The rest is in the hands of the poker gods.

[Update: WSOP FAIL. By a couple of points. Gah.]

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