For example, it was about my fifth hand today when I was in the big blind and called a preflop raiser with my . Four players saw a flop of . I bet, two players folded, and the preraiser raised. I reraised and he just called. The turn brought the , I bet and he called. The river was a blank, I again bet, he again called and showed his . I proceeded to lose a couple of hands with lower flushes, then suffered a bad beat or two. That’s when the decision-making mechanism started to weaken. Next thing you know I’m cold-calling preflop raises with KJ-offsuit and the like. I’m chasing when the outs aren’t all “clean” (e.g., going for a straight with a flush draw or pair on board). I’m calling down coordinated boards with middle pairs. And so forth.
Toward the end of the session I had a fairly rapid sequence of three hands that told me it was time to step away -- not because I was losing (although that was reason enough, to be sure), but because I realized I was no longer confident I could make correct decisions. These three hands came relatively quickly -- within an orbit or so of the 6-max $0.50/$1.00 limit game I was playing. I thought I’d briefly describe these hands as a demonstration of how a player’s decision-making abilities might become compromised by the right (or wrong) series of events.
In the first hand I was dealt in middle position and raised preflop. I had one caller behind me, and both blinds called. The flop was an unhappy , but both blinds checked to me. I bet out and only the big blind called me. I wasn’t too concerned about the big blind since I’d seen him routinely calling flop bets and then often letting go. I was glad to see the come on the turn. The big blind checked and I bet out only to be check-raised. A combination of suspicion and stubbornness led me to reraise and the big blind called. Then came the river, the , and the big blind bet. I called to see my opponent showing the . “Nice,” I typed. “Thx,” he replied. Perhaps he was also being sarcastic.
I might have taken solace in fact that I had, as it turned out, read the situation correctly from beginning to end. Still, I was out another $5.50. A couple of hands later I’m in the big blind and get dealt . The button and small blind both call, and I check to see an unexciting flop of . Everyone checks. The turn is the , and again, everyone checks. The river brings the , giving me a nice little, unexpected straight. The small blind bets, I raise, the button calls, and the small blind also calls. We all have queens, as it turns out. The button also has an ace, though, and thus gets the whole pot for himself.
Hmm. I look around the table. On the right is someone who check-raises the turn with a gutshot draw and a king on board after his opponent preraised. On the left is someone who doesn’t raise preflop from the button with AQ, nor does he raise on the river when holding the nuts. How do I play against these people, I wonder? I’m almost ambivalent when two hands later I’m on the button and look down to see . The UTG limps, I raise, both blinds call as does the UTG. The flop comes and the small blind bets, the big blind calls, the UTG folds, and I raise. The SB calls as does the BB. The turn is the and again the SB bets out. The BB folds and I think for a moment. The way things have been going, he could well have really made trips here, I decide. I can’t fold, though, so I call. The river is the and the SB bets out again. I make the call, forcing him to show his .
A ten-dollar pot for Shamus, although I can’t say I enjoyed it that much. That’s because I knew even though I’d won the hand, I was lost. Having shot and missed so many times previously, I’d become too skittish to pull the trigger when I needed to. Not a good way to be, I decided, and so quietly moved the mouse up to the upper right corner and clicked “Leave Table.” As I probably should have done a few dozen hands earlier.