Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Spartan King Leonidas: Dilios, I trust that "scratch" hasn't made you useless.
Dilios: Hardly, my lord, it's just an eye. The gods saw fit to grace me with a spare.

A few weeks ago, a well known English sports journalist passed away by the name of Ian Wooldridge and in his wake there was a story told that I read and thought that the lesson was quite apt. I post this exert from "The Fitz Files", a weekly sport column from the Sydney Morning Herald and posted at smh.com.au.

Ian Wooldridge was playing golf one day with his good friend Richie Benaud. For my North American friends, Richie Benaud is a former Australian Cricket Captain and has been the head cricket commentator in Australia since most of us were born. He still does this to this day, now in his 70's.

The story continues as "On one hole, Wooldridge's drive went awry, meaning he had a difficult approach shot to the green over a pond. So difficult was it that Wooldridge replaced his ball with an old and scungy one from his bag, explaining to Benaud that he didn't want to waste the good ball. With a smile, Benaud gave him a brand new ball from his own bag, saying that by replacing his original ball with an older one, Woolers has allowed the approach shot to beat him even before he had swung his club. Wooldridge then unleashed a superb shot over the lake, and it finished within inches of the pin. According to Wooldridge, this explained why lakes on golf courses are full of very old golf balls, and also why Benaud was probably the greatest Australian cricket captain of them all!"

I read this a few weeks ago and thought some more about it, and then started to see how I could relate this to my poker game.

A few weeks ago, I had some very strong hands run into some other even stronger ones, and made some good lay downs and made some bad ones. More than anything, it made me feel like I was running into the nuts on every hand which made my play not optimal. My mindset was "avoid loosing" which has the side effect of "avoid winning" sometimes, much like the golfing situation above.

I set about the game on Friday night with a new attitude – and lost my first buy in within the first orbit. Eventually though, things changed and after a real cold streak I started to hit some cards and wasn't scared about throwing chips into the pot even when I didn't have the nuts. Slowly the cards changed for me and I feel I played a lot better.

Biggest pot for the night was with J2s. Four players saw the flop come Ks9s2c. Aggressive player bets out, call in front and I call as well as one behind. Decent sized pot already and the turn card is Jc. Now I have two pair and a flush draw, nice position to be in I think. Aggressive player bets out $20 into maybe a $30 pot, but $20 is still a big bet at this table. 2 nd position calls – and I decided to push without hesitation. Now I have a good enough tight image at this table that it won't look like I am too venerable. The two players who have already committed $20 on this card are able to do that without monster hands, and even if they do call I should have some good outs. Last player folds, as does the original raiser. 2 nd position says he is pot committed and calls my all-in which was another $35 I think. He has 7s8s and has 3 outs to a ten. Original raiser had K9o for the flopped two pair, but had to give me respect and thought I had already hit the straight. The river was the queen of spades meaning he dodged a bullet there. I won the pot and that hand put me up at that stage of the night, and for the first time in some weeks.

After this, some more hands started to hit and I finished the night $135 in the black, which is enough to put my year to date back in the black also. It was just a much better night of cards and attitude from myself which reminded me of why I love playing poker in the first place.

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