The Sorities Paradox is a philosophical dilemma attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher Eubulides of Miletus (a contemporary of Aristotle, if you must know these things). “Sorities” derives from the Greek word for heap. Consider a heap of sand. If you remove a single grain of sand from the heap, what remains is still a heap of sand.
Yet when you repeat the process of removing one grain of sand at a time, eventually the heap changes to a non-heap. Exactly when does this occur?
A related and better known parable is that of the Boiling Frog. This fable holds that a frog dropped into a pot of boiling water will quickly jump out, but a frog placed in room temperature water that is slowly brought to a boil won’t realize the danger until it is too late and he or she is cooked to death.
I like to think of this as a good metaphor for my emotional state when playing poker. Whether I join the game as a shark or as the whale, a gradual progression of a suckout here, a missed draw there, a slow roll, a cooler, and so on can bring the emotional water in which I swim to a full boil. By the time I reach full raging tilt, I might not be able to escape.
One risk management technique is to set a timer on my phone for 80 or 90 minutes. When it goes off, I take a short break. I might visit the bathroom, get a drink or snack, go for a walk, stretch, chit chat with friends, call Mrs., or catch up on Twitter. The real goal is to make sure I’m back at emotional room temperature when I return to the table.
Last night, when my first scheduled break arrived, I decided to play the “free” hands until the big blind reached me before stepping away.
On my next-to-last hand, the button straddled, the player in the small blind called and I looked down at 5♦5♣ in middle position. This seemed like a good spot to leverage my tight but winning image, so I raised to 5x the straddle amount. A loose player called, the button called and the small blind called again. For purposes of this blog, I’ll call the small blind “Chad.”
Welp. That didn’t work so well, and unless I flop a set, I’m done with this hand. Or so I thought until the flop came out 4♦3♦2♦. Now that is interesting!
Chad leads out for close to a half-pot bet. That is also interesting. He could have flopped a flush, having limped in with a suited A♦X♦ hoping to see a cheap flop and calling a second time based on the attractive pot-odds for a multi-way pot. But I think Chad would be more likely to check with the nuts here. What seemed more likely at the time was a set of 444, 333 or 222.
With an open-ended straight flush draw, I’m not going anywhere right away. I call, and the other players all fold.
The turn is 6♥, completing a straight for me. Chad goes all-in for about 60 or so big blinds more. I have him well covered and call.
Much to my surprise, Chad turns over 64o (with no diamonds) for top two pair. His turn bet actually makes some sense when you consider that I over-represented the strength of my hand with the pre-flop raise, and my call on the flop looks like either a premium pocket pair or a hand like AK or AQ with the ace of diamonds. I’m sure he thought he was ahead.
Much to Chad’s surprise, I table my pocket fives and show the straight. Since the 6♦ gives me a straight flush, he only has three outs. He has trapped himself!
Much to my surprise, the river is another four, giving him a full house and this large pot. Seriously.
Then I get something to eat, sit on the couch for a bit and chit chat with a friend who is waiting for a seat and we haven’t seen each other for awhile.
The rest of the session was fairly uneventful, and I left with a small win.
BONUS CONTENT: I’m now a regular contributor at PokerNews. Check out those articles here!
If you enjoy my poker blog, will you share it on Reddit, Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram, and enter your email below for automatic notification of all new posts. Please and thank you!