We had just made the money. My head was flooded with happy-making endorphins.
I looked down at QQ in the cut-off; it was the first premium hand I'd seen in the nearly two hours we'd been playing day 2. "Don't go broke with this hand," I told myself, "it's only a pair of queens."
The action folded around to me and I made a standard raise. The button re-raised me, almost tripling my bet. He and I had approximately equal stacks.
With that re-raise, I gave him the following range: AA, KK, QQ (not likely for obvious reasons), JJ, possibly 10 10, and AK. Or air, as an aggressive button move to counter a cut-off steal, although I would assign that possibility a relatively low likelihood.
Should I raise or call? I thought I'd take a flop, and if it came with an A or a K, I could get away from my QQ easily. Of course, by doing so, I pretty much defined my own hand range to my opponent.
I called. (Probably a mistake: if I had re-raised and then he had come over the top, I would have had a very clear idea where I was.)
The flop came 9 8 2. I checked, intending to check-raise.
He bet out. I raised, making it 20K to go.
He moved all in. (This same player, a couple of hands earlier, had claimed to have laid down JJ to an all-in bet, saying that he wasn't prepared to play for his whole stack with a hand that weak.)
I was behind to AA, KK, and a set of 99s or 88s. I had about 40K left. If I folded, I would suddenly have barely half the average stack. Over half my stack was already in the pot.
I was high on having cashed. This is a leak in my game that I have previously identified: success goes to my head and I make poor, rash decisions. Had I breathed and contemplated for another 45 seconds, I think I could have found the fold, which was clearly
the right thing to do. How could I not be behind here, way
behind? I was, mostly likely, drawing to two outs.
I called anyway. If you were to ask me why, I really couldn't say, other than there was a ton of money in the pot, my brain was clouded with pleasure, and I was indulging in crazy wishful thinking (a hero call snaps off an elaborate bluff, or he's got JJ).
Of course he turned over KK, and I didn't catch a miracle Q.
It was a very bad decision.
Really bad. Donkalicious. An utter embarrassment. Certainly not worthy of an aspiring professional.
I am very annoyed with myself. I could have made the right choice and played on with a smaller, but still potentially effective stack. I could have gone deeper. I could have given myself a chance to come back. I COULD AND SHOULD HAVE FOLDED. I am, in fact, mortified that I made such an amateur error.
Paradoxically, however, I am also actually grateful to have busted out of a big tournament through my own bad play. I have been so beaten up lately by bad luck, that it was somehow refreshing to be able to take full responsibility for this failure. Granted, it sucks to have QQ run into KK the very first hand after the money, but hey ~ these things happen. Ultimately, though, I made my own misfortune this time, and I am entirely willing to take responsibility for it.
I am not soul-crushed by it, as I would have been if I'd gone out on some kind of horrible bad beat. This is an expensive lesson, but I do believe that I can learn from it and that the sting of it will make the lesson stick so that I become a better player.
I cashed (albeit for the minimum) in a World Series of Poker event. That's a personal milestone, and I'm proud of it despite my disappointment. It's one small but meaningful step on the road to greater success.
I'm not done yet.
Labels: Las Vegas, tournament, WSOP