Friday, May 23, 2014


A little while back I had an eventful ten days or so.  Three unrelated things happened.

First, a friend of mine lost his battle with prostate cancer.  He was about my age.  I'll miss AJ.

At about the same time I was teaching my grandson how to clean a catfish.  That was an interesting experience.  At first he was simply put off by the whole idea.  He could see nothing to gain from being put through such a horrible experience.  Over the course of a few days I had him clean several catfish and the last one was a whole world better than the first one.  By the time I pronounced him an accomplished catfish cleaner (admittedly a bit of an exaggeration) he was quite proud of himself and appreciative for my teaching him a new skill.

The last thing that happened was quite unexpected.  The same grandson's mother was killed in an automobile accident.  We will also miss Jessie. 

While the three occurrences were unrelated, together they have brought a realization to me.  AJ's passing reminded me (as death often does) of the finite nature of life.  I'm approaching sixty.  How many years do I have left?

Teaching David how to clean a catfish followed by his mother's unexpected passing made me realize that we must take opportunities as they come because we never know which opportunity will be our last.  Believe it or not, Jessie could have taught David to clean a catfish.  She was an avid fisher as well as a "hands on" type of personality so I'm sure she knew how it was done.  But she had never taught David and that opportunity has passed forever.

The poker playing community is filled with grandfathers.  We all know things that need to be passed on to the next generation--or perhaps the generation after that.

We also have something to pass on to the next generation of poker players.  I have found that most older poker players are gentlemen and know how to play the game with class and dignity.  I believe it is incumbent on us to pass that trait on down.  I'm not asking any of you to give any lectures on playing our great game with class.  Lectures never work anyway.  It is a proven fact that behavioral lessons are almost always learned by example.  We just need to keep setting good examples.  We're teaching lessons whether we realize it or not.

See you at the tables.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Bad Runs

Yogi Berra has been quoted as saying "Ninety percent of the game is half mental".  Of course, he was talking about baseball. 

I watch a lot of baseball and my favorite team is the Braves.  The Braves have been on a bad run.  At this writing they are riding a seven game losing streak.  During this current losing streak it seems that everything that can go wrong is going wrong.  When one of the Braves hitters hits a line drive it always seems to be directly at one of the outfielders.  When one of the opponents hits a line drive it always seems to be a "gapper".  All our ground balls seem to be at an infielder ("at 'em balls) and all their ground balls seem to find a hole ("seeing eye grounders").

By now I've noticed that the bad run has gotten into their heads.  Hence the quote from ole Yogi.

The same thing has been happening to me in poker.  I've been on a bad run since late last year.  I won't bore you with specific bad beat stories but suffice it to say that it seems that every time I flop top pair my opponent either flops or turns two pairs.  And when I flop two pairs he flops a set.  It seems as though I never catch any of my draws and the other guy seems to catch his draw every time.  Even one of my friends ("Trucker Kenny") made note of my bad run when he was observing an STT and I actually won a race.  He piped up with something like "Hey, you actually won a race!!".

At first I laid it strictly to bad luck.  After all I hadn't changed my game, had I?  After a while I admitted to myself that perhaps my play wasn't always optimal.  And, let's face it, nobody's game is always optimal.  I started tweaking my game.  Did it help?  Apparently not.  In fact, I probably made the situation worse.

I don't normally go on tilt.  If I suffer a bad beat or if someone draws out on me, I'm pretty good at just shaking it off and avoiding a chip spewing tirade.  However, I believe I am now on what could be called "long term tilt".  I've let the bad run get into my head.  I no longer believe I can win any hand.  I have come to expect the worst.  This was brought home to me by the last hand I played the other night at the WPT Regional event at the IP in Biloxi.  I got it all in before the flop with AA and the other guy had 87 offsuit.  I actually stood up and started gathering my things before the flop even hit the board.  By the time the turn provided an eight to go along with the seven that had come on the flop I had already gathered my things and was headed for the door.  I had no doubt the aces were no good.

There's an old adage in poker:  "Scared money is dead money."  No doubt that is true and my money has become scared money.  Consequently, I won't be traveling to any more series and I won't be making the trek to Vegas this summer unless and until I turn my game around.  I'll be playing the Friday and Saturday tournaments at the Beau until I get my bearings.  And I certainly won't be playing any cash games because the "scared money" philosophy applies even more so at a cash game. 

See you at the tables (Beau only).