Emotions will be tested over time in the game of poker

May 30, 2017 3:00 AM


We are all only human and have emotions as we react to the various situations in which we often find ourselves. I can assure you there will be many occasions while playing poker that your inner feelings – your emotions – will be tested.

Often, you will feel so frustrated! It would only be natural that you might ponder: “If only I had stayed to see the next card to be dealt out on the board” – even as you know you played your hand properly based on everything you have learned about the game, including the odds and laws of probability.

The other evening, playing $4-$8 limit at my favorite local casino, I had a hand that made me angry – to say the least, so frustrated – after I mucked my cards. In a middle position, I looked down at a pair of deuces in the hole – pocket deuces. Having learned the Hold’em Algorithm, there was no question this was not a hand in which I wanted to invest my hard-earned chips from a middle position. I was prepared to fold when the betting got to me.

Then, there was a raise by a player to my right. That further confirmed my decision to fold. And, I promptly did so without any hesitation, and sat back to watch the action – to see how the hand would play out. Then, the Button re-raised, still further reinforcing my decision to fold my small pocket pair from my middle position. OK.

You would never guess what fell on the flop: 2c-2h-Ac. I would have caught quad deuces! Without any doubt, I would have made the nuts. “Oh, my g-d,” I silently muttered to myself. Then, thinking of all the chips I could have won, my emotions got the best of me. I was so angry – almost livid with rage. I felt so emotionally frustrated. And, I berated myself, “Why didn’t I stay to see the flop?” I felt like calling myself an idiot.

Later, while driving home from the casino and relaxed, I calmly thought about this occurrence. Similar incidents have happened to me before, I recalled (and probably to you, too, if you think about it). I firmly assured myself I had made the very best – the correct – decision by folding my pocket deuces in that situation. The chances of winning were so small; I was a huge longshot to even make a set (about 8-to-1 against), never mind quads – four deuces – on the flop.

Obviously, it can and did happen. None of us has any control over the machinations of the poker gods. There really was no reason for me to get angry, to feel frustrated. My emotions got the better of me at that moment. Fortunately, I did manage to avoid going on tilt; but I know I was so close to it.

A few days later, as I was playing $4-$8 limit hold’em, a similar thing happened to the lady seated to my left. She had folded to a bet on the turn, and then watched as a Jack was dealt out by the dealer. She stared at the board, and then, apparently in frustration, turned to me and whispered in my ear: “I would have caught an inside straight,” she grimaced.

I could only empathize with her. It reminded me of how I felt after I folded those pocket deuces a few nights earlier. I reassured her, saying: “That’s poker!” I’m not sure whether she overcame her frustration. But, a few hands later, she packed up her chips and checked out of the game.

So rely on the Hold’em Algorithm when deciding whether to play a small pair. In the long run, it will make you richer. Learn to accept rare happenings that go against you; and avoid going on tilt. Patience is a virtue.