Monday, February 12, 2007

When to walk away

Well this is first posting on this site. I wish I could begin by writing that I had taken down a huge tournament online or that I had dominated the table at one of the monthly games I attend...but the cards have a way of preventing that.

I guess, I should start by introducing myself. I'll refer to myself as OttawaTilt on this site. For those of you who might be interested, you can usually find me playing on Full Tilt Poker. I highly recommend this site, especially if you are interested in playing low stakes games (now if only I could get that sponsorship deal...). I've been playing No Limit Hold'em for about 2 years how and I've had my run of success. Nothing major to date, but I think I'm on my way.

In any case, I was going to write a bit the difference between someone that's an addict (gambling addict that is) vs. someone who has a passion for a game...that is until this weekend, when I came to the realization that my "level" of play has risen since I first started playing.

Now many books on poker will provide you with many "tools" that can be used to distinguish between an amature and a professional poker player. For the most part, the professional players have more experience, play higher stakes games, and at the end of the day have a number of ways to beat you (reading tells, bluffing techniques, etc.).

These same books will also provide you insight into knowing when you're game is actually improving and the signs to look for. A general rule for any gambler, as a good friend of mine would say is "don't chase dead money". In poker, this means understanding your limitations and also simply realizing that you aren't hitting cards and its time for you to leave the table. I finally learned this after taking two horrendous beats...

The first, which I shouldn't qualify as a bad beat, but rather bad luck is busting out of a game by a friend who called me with K4 (I had A6). He hit two pair on the flop which summed up my evening of cards. In any case, after that the same player came and delivered another shot to my poker ego by taking down my pocket kings (after a significant raise) by calling me with 6-T (the board came up 6-6-4 to give him trip 6s). Suffice to say, this was not my day and my buddy had my number. After that I simply folded up my wallet and said no more...and I haven't played since Saturday night (normally I would play for about 6 hours on Sundays).

Now, if this was me when I first started ego would have taken over and're playing until you win your money back. And at that time, I probably would have gone home with far less money then I wanted. Why? Because when you're having a run of bad luck or playing badly, you're ultimately going to lose more - this is on top of playing horrible poker. Bad/Cold streaks tend to force players to play outside their own game, leading them to chase draws to the end (on the prayer that they eventually HAVE to get lucky) or bluffing at a bad time (ie. after someone makes a monster raise). Once you've started this process of chasing dead money starts, its one of the hardest things to shake. To me, the only real solution is to get up and walk away from the table. Take your loses and don't lose more. Ultimately those who continue to pursue are only seeking to "break even". I'd rather take the money I would have gambled to "break even" and save it for another night when I know I'll be able to profit.

This weekend proved to me that there are days/periods when luck will override skill in poker, and even more it made me aware that I am experienced enough to walk away from the table without losing any more money. Does this mean that I don't have enough "guts" to try to win my money back? No, cause any fool can put down more money...what it says is that I'm a good enough player to know that I WILL lose more money if I continue to play, and knowing this means that I profit simply from not playing.


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