I Suck at Poker

I’m actually a pretty good player. I don’t make big mistakes very often anymore, though I have a lot to work on and I try to get better every time I play. But I still make mistakes sometimes that are very frustrating. I made one tonight in the $550 buy-in event at the Fall Poker Classic that is really bugging me.

I won’t name the player directly, because I don’t want to teach people how to play against him. I like the guy and dissecting his game on a public blog just wouldn’t be a very nice thing to do. We’ll call him Ted.

Ted is a smart guy. He is middle aged and has been very successful in life because he’s smart and he applies himself to things. He plays well, and has had some success. I’m sure that Ted is a winning player. Ted plays fairly tight, and it’s not his standard game to reraise light preflop or open a ton of pots. Because he’s a smart guy, and always learning, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him open up his game somewhat in the right spots, but he is much more Ryan Hartmann than Kou Vang if you know what I mean.

I moved to a new table with about 75,000 chips, which was a little above average stack. Ted was on my left. Within one round I looked down at a pair of tens in early position, raised, and was unhappy to see Ted’s reraise. My raise was to 4,500 (1k and 2k blinds), and Ted went all-in for around 25,000. I thought about it, but I didn’t think Ted was going to reraise with a lower pair very often at all, and he probably wouldn’t reraise Ace-Queen here either. Against a range of Ace-King and tens or better, I’m in bad shape.

TT has 34% equity


AK, TT+ which has 66% equity

I can’t call when there is less than 30,000 in the pot and I have to call 20,000. It’s close in a cash game if those are his ranges, though still a bad call, but in a tournament it’s a terrible call. Good fold by me. That’s one.

Within half an hour I looked down at a pair of jacks and raised again. I had raised a few hands in between and won the blinds. Ted had not played another hand. I raised to 5,100 this time because the blinds had gone up to 1,200/2,400, and Ted reraised me again. I was annoyed, but I really didn’t think Ted would try to push me around here, and he had more chips this time. It was irritating, but not a tough fold. Similar numbers to the first hand meant that I was making the right fold.

Fifteen minutes later I was dealt Ace-King second to act. I opened for 5,100, with 68,000 in my stack. Ted reraised me to around 14,000. He had also played a pot in between and had a stack only slightly smaller than mine. Could Ted be three-betting me without big hands? Was he really getting this many big hands in a row? I was about tired of it, but I still had to think. If Ted had a big hand here, I was throwing money away by going all-in. I had a perfectly reasonable stack if I folded, and we were getting fairly deep into the tournament.

On the other hand. I had folded to him twice already, and I had not let the irritation show, so an all-in from me would look like a big hand rather than looking like I was just fed up. There was a lot of money in the pot now, and we both had enough behind that I would have fold equity if he didn’t have a big hand. A hand like a pair of tens would fold here. I might even be up against another Ace-King, or I could be racing against queens or jacks.

Do you see the flaw in my logic here?

I was in early position. The table was full. Ted knew that there were still seven players left to act when he made his reraise. And he’s not a brash young kid who is would make a mistake by reraising light from early position against another early position raiser. His range is probably TT+ and AK. Again. And my Ace-King is a 41% to 59% underdog. I can fold and go on to the next hand, or I can get my chips in against a range of hands that is beating me, with almost no fold equity.

I thought I saw fold equity. I thought he might be reraising me light. I thought everything except the right thing. He has a big hand here, and I should make yet another fold. Against most players I would have called one of the first two times, and would definitely ship all-in here, but not against Ted. And Ted is a solid guy who doesn’t make big mistakes like reraising me without a hand from early position for a quarter of his stack.

I pushed all-in, he called with a pair of kings, and I was crippled. And very angry with myself. If he had flipped over queens, and I had won the race, I probably wouldn’t have even thought enough about the hand to know I had made a mistake, but that doesn’t matter. I did make a mistake, I made it deep in a tournament, and it cost me money. The game is already tough, and with house rake, the dealer percentage, tips, and taxes, I can’t make a lot of mistakes if I want to make money over the long term. I definitely can’t make mistakes like this one.

The good news is that I learned from it. I get a little stronger and a little smarter every tournament. If I keep that up, I think I’ll be pretty good at this game in another forty or fifty years. I also took 4th in the HORSE tournament, so I’m up for the series. And Running Aces has a great promo next month with tiered rakeback that can earn you up to $10 an hour if you play enough hours. I will definitely be grinding those games most days and should make some good money. At 180 hours for the month I’ll make $1,800 in rakeback, which helps quite a bit with the bills.

I’ll be back at it tomorrow, and hopefully I won’t waste nine hours of good poker with one stupid call. Because maybe I won’t suck tomorrow.

Don’t forget to vote for the Minnesota Poker Awards

If you enjoyed this blog, please support it by buying my book or joining a fantasy sports sites through my links
  1. #1 by robowolfman on October 14, 2013 - 10:57 am

    I want to make sure that i understand all the concepts here. Due to Teds playing style, His position on you, and his position acording to the blinds and the rest of the table, Does that mean that you believe he had a big hand each time he reraised you or is he a player that has the ability to play you as well as his cards?

You must be logged in to post a comment.