I've been playing great poker, and decided this week to go for the big money.
I jumped on the World Series of Poker bandwagon last year, like millions of other people. I've played a little all my life, but never for money, unless you include the giant jar of pennies at Grandma's house.
Anyhow I've gotten much better, and played a few live No Limit Texas Hold 'em Poker Tournaments.
I began to play lots of free online poker, and learned a little, but quickly realized that playing free tables only teaches you to beat other play money players. It's pretty easy to build up quite a large stake on most free online poker sites, but you don't really improve your game. If you've never played at all, a few hundred hands can help you learn the game, but you won't become skilled.
I started playing real money games and instantly saw an improvement. First, the players who play for real money are generally better players. I'd always rather play with good players because they are more predictable.
Poker is all about predicting your opponents more than the cards. In the right situation, you can play the players and win money, regardless of your cards. In the wrong situation, you'll lose money regardless of the cards your dealt. The key is to learn which players you can beat, and which players you can't. Avoid the ones you can't, and empty the pockets of the rest!
Anyhow, yesterday I decided to take a bigger risk.
Normally I play fixed limit $2-$4. I play until I'm 20% ahead, then leave the table with my profits. If I get 20% down, I limp away. Lately, I've been playing really well. I'd sat down with $50 and left with between $60 and $70 at every table. Playing once or twice a day, I was up from my original $50 to $180.
That's when I started playing some low dollar tournaments. Tournament poker is different from table poker. I wanted to practice in a few large multi-table tournaments. I finished 10th out of 158, then 18th out of 370. My confidence was continuing to grow.
Every Sunday afternoon my favorite online real money poker site holds a $100,000 Guaranteed Online No Limit Texas Hold'em Tournament. This tournament costs $109 to play, and is open to 1500 people maximum. Most Sundays the field is between 750 and 800. The top 81 win cash, 81st prize is $250, and first prize is $25,000.
Kristen agreed to watch the kids. She also agreed to bring me food and beverage each hour during the five minute breaks. These tournaments typically last for six or seven hours.
I sat down at 2:00, and started playing really tight. I literally hadn't gotten into a hand for the first fifteen minutes.
The Big Blind came around to me, and I was dealt the 9-8 of diamonds. Only one player stayed in, raising only double the big blind, so I called.
The flop came 9-8-2, all hearts. He doubled the pot and pushed in 120. Normally, I'd be afraid of the flush, but with top two pair, I called.
The turn was an 8, I had the Full House. He was first to act, and pushed 300. Now I'm hoping he has the flush, preferably with an ace. I called. Now there was over 800 chips in the pot, and we only started with 1000 chips each.
The river was the seven of spades. This improved my hand even more. It gave a potential flush, a potential straight, but eliminated the straight flush and four-of-a-kind possibilities. Now, out of 169 possible starting hands, only one could beat me.
He pushed all-in. I called.
That's when he showed the nuts, 9-9. Literally, this was the only hand that could possibly beat me. He had the last two nines in the deck. The random chances of him having those cards was one in 2025.
I looked at the clock... it was 2:18. I finished 758th out of 762, and lost $109 in eighteen minutes!