August 2, 2006

Lesson #1: Poker is Tiring

the first thing i learned from last week is that being a full-time poker player is tiring. really tiring. sure, it's not in a physical sense (because, after all, i sat around a table all day), but it is in a type of mental exhaustion that i've never felt before. i can remember spending hours studying for a class while in school and never feeling NEARLY as zombie-like as i felt every day last week after playing 10+ hours of poker. you can ask skratch, but when i got up from the table each night i could barely focus on talking about anything. part of that may have been the taxing emotional bad beats that i took (for personally disturbing amounts of money), but i think most of that was all of the time spent THINKING. why did he bet that much? what kind of hand would play that way? how should i play this hand? how much is in the pot? how little should i bet? who's this new guy? how does that person play? when you sit at a table for ten hours a day thinking through all of these decisions in your head non-stop, you start getting tired, even when you don't know it.

on wednesday i played at caesar's. i spent about three hours trying to set up this over-aggressive player who would overcall lots of hand. this guy was so hellbent on getting broke with one pair that i just needed to find the right spot. i eventually got a sizeable stack (about $450) into the pot very good against him and he sucked out on me HARD. so hard that even the dealer said, "wow, that's pretty rough." it's fine. it happens. but in thinking back on the day, i was sick about what happened AFTER the hand.

about twenty minutes later, with another reasonable stack, i re-raised the hyper-aggressive norwegian guy on my right (Norway, for short) to $65 with KK, after he had raised to $20 with (probably) a shit hand. i knew Norway was an idiot and was glad to play my whole stack against him when (i imagined) he would inevitably push me in for $200. but things changed when the solid player in the SB (Solid, for short) re-raised to $250 even in the easiest motion i had ever seen. as Norway decided whether or not to call with KcTc (by the way kids, KT is a crap hand), i studied Solid, trying to figure out if he was strong or just trying to re-steal (since i very well could have been stealing from the donkey). he looked very strong.

because this is a story about how being tired can affect your play, you obviously know what happened. Norway laid down his monster two-card royal flush draw and i stuck my chips in the pot senselessly as a heavy dog. if there was ever a time to lay down kings before the flop, this was it. given a fresh brain with my read on the situation, KK is a tough but sensible fold. given a tired brain twenty minutes after a sick beat, KK is unfortunately an instant call. and subsequently an instant loss. i actually knew even before my chips got into the pot: poker is tiring and i can never get kings to catch up on aces.

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