Bankroll Mismanagement

This was crazy.

I’m playing low stakes online poker, on the Ignition platform with random opponents, to kill time and scratch my poker itch while waiting out the coronavirus pandemic. Live poker is far preferable to online poker, so I restrict my online time to low stakes and don’t keep much money in my Ignition account.

With just under 14 buy-ins in my account, I open two tables of 6-max no limit Texas hold’em. On the fifth hand at one table, I raise to 3.5 BBs with Q T. The button min-raises back at me, and everyone else folds. Even out of position, easy call, amiright?

The flop was 4 Q♣ T♣. Maybe the button has AA, KK or AQ, in which case I can win a very big pot here. Because the board is very wet, I decide to lead out. If he “puts me on a draw” as many are wont to do with donk bets, he’s likely to raise. [For an insightful primer on donk bets, check out this video.] I bet 3/4 pot, and he min-raises — again!  So I add a couple more BBs to a min-3bet and click it back. Maybe he’ll spazz right away, and even if he doesn’t, I’m setting up for a shove on the turn. If he has a draw, I’m willing to give him a good price to chase it.

He calls, leaving me with just under a pot-sized stack. The turn is 6, making another flush draw. As planned, I shove. He calls and shows.. pocket sixes. What the —? I stare at ‘do you want to re-buy?’  message on the screen, trying to process the illogic of his betting lines and the injustice of a world that rewards him (or her) with my entire stack. ‘snot fair!

Buying in again, I fold twice, then wake up with TT on the button. The cutoff raises to 3 BBs and I make a pot-sized 3-bet. The big blind – the same player from the previous hand – calls, but the original raiser folds.

The flop is 8♣ J♣ 2. This time he donk bets, for 1/2 pot. I really don’t know what to make of this. Maybe he’s just fucking with me, after the last hand where I had donk bet with top 2-pair before getting my ass handed to me. I call, with a plan to re-evaluate after the turn.

And oh, what a turn! The T gives me a set. Karma! What goes around comes around! Turnabout is fair play! The big blind puts out a pot-sized bet. Thank you, sir! Time for a taste of your own medicine. I raise all-in, which is less than a min-raise. After a short hesitation, just long enough to confirm he got caught with his pants down, he calls.

It was hard to recall whether I saw his hole cards first or the river card. Maybe I just saw the pot going to his stack instead of mine, then saw the cards. Whatever the sequence, he had K Q, and the river 9 gave him the nut straight. OMFG! Like the previous hand, his betting line makes no sense. This is no longer funny.

At times like this, one should walk away from the table, and avoid any temptation toss one’s laptop out a third floor window. And next time, drop down a level in stakes to rebuild the bankroll. The worst thing to do is move up in stakes, to try to make up the losses quickly while still tilted. Bad luck leads to tilt. Tilt leads to bad play. Don’t we all know that?

Anyway, I close that table, then immediately open another table at the next higher stakes, for which my online account balance represents barely five buy-ins.

On the very first hand, I have 99 in the big blind. It folds to the button, who raises to three BBs. At the lower stakes, I’d probably re-raise. This is the thing about 6-max tables –> a lot of hands quickly turn into button vs. blinds battles, with the button opening with a wide range, necessitating the blinds to defend or counterattack with a wide range. I try to counterattack as much as I can get comfortable with, as I’d rather force the button to fold the weakest part of his range and take the small win than play the entire hand out-of-position post-flop.

Anyway, I’m at higher stakes, haven’t observed any action at this table, and promised myself I’d be really snug. So I call.

The flop is KQ4 rainbow. I check and the button bets 1/2 pot. This strikes me as an ambivalent bet. While there are no flush draws, all combos that make straight draws are likely a part of my range, including AJ, AT, JT, J9, T9. Since he doesn’t seem to be protecting against that possibility, I call again.

We check it all the way down on a turn 8 and river 7, and my hand is good against his ATo.

On the very next hand, I have JJ in the small blind. The cutoff limps in and the button raises to 5 BBs. The same logic from the previous hand still applies. I should re-raise but don’t. The big blind also calls, as does the cutoff.

The flop is 3♦ T♠ A♠. Not exactly what I was imagining, but it checks all around the table.

The turn is J. Another turned set(!), the third one in a sequence of six hands! This also puts two flush draws on the board, and anyone with KQ just made a straight. Anyone with a single K or Q has a straight draw. With so many draws, checking would be terrible. So I bet 80% of the pot (16 BBs into a pot of 20 BBs). The big blind quickly raises to 50 BBs and the other players fold.

I have no reads. Occam’s Razor says he has KQ and turned a flush. After all… #TheyAlwaysHaveIt. But maybe in some alternate universe he flopped a set of T‘s or 3‘s or top 2-pair and planned to check-raise. Maybe he plays flush draws aggressively, and has top pair & nut flush draw with A X.

Earlier tonight I watched Molly’s Game on Netflix, with Mrs. At the end of Molly Bloom’s time running high stakes poker games, the buy-ins were $250,000. Here I am sweating over such a small fraction of that… I’d be embarrassed to show the math. By comparison, my life is boring. I don’t have millions of dollars to collect from poker players and haven’t been beaten up by the Russian mafia.

But tilt is tilt, and inside my head Tom Petty is singing I Won’t Back Down, so I re-raise all-in. Of course (see blog title), he has it, ‘it’ being a Broadway straight with KQ. But this time the good guy wins, as an Ace on the River (thanks Barry Greenstein!) gives me a winning full house. Since I had doubled up in stakes, winning just over a full buy-in at this table (in two hands!) fully offset losing two full buy-ins on the earlier table.

I quickly close both tables, as now I have some blog writing, wine drinking, and untilting to be done.

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Be safe during this pandemic. Tweet, like, comment, share, etc. if you enjoyed this post.

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