You Get What You Deserve

Last night I went out to the local poker fair and rode the tilt-o-wheel. It’s my least favorite ride, but they disguise it to look like a fun house until you get lost in all the mirrors and suddenly don’t know where you are. Or who you are.

It started with pocket kings on the button. Wee-e-e-e! What fun! Fast forward to the river. The board was J♠ 9♦ 2♠ – 9♠ – 8♣. The player on my right went all-in, an approximately pot-sized bet. When I tank/called, he tabled 88. The ol’ river two outer. [insert profanity here]

Later, after getting home, I wandered into a virtual poker fair and took an open seat at a 5-card Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo table (a/k/a “Big O“). This is not the place to go when you need your beauty rest. The mere fact of entering that game just might, maybe, possibly hint of being on tilt.

A few hands in, I flopped bottom set and a nut low draw. Let’s try to describe a Big-O hand.

My cards: A♠ 2♣ 3♦ 2♠ 2♥

The flop: 2♦ J♦ 7♥

I bet 75% of the pot and got one caller. The turn J♣ completed a full house and I bet 75% of the pot again. Repeat for the river K♣ but this time the villain raised all-in, although with his stack size this was barely a minimum raise. His KK crushed me and 2/3 of my starting stack was gone.

As I look back at the hand history to write this up, I see his full hand:

Villain’s cards: 9♥ T♦ K♦ J♥ K♠

The turn had given him trip jacks to go with a 2nd nut flush draw. He actually had 9 outs despite the in-the-moment impression of losing to another river 2-outer.

But I didn’t know that, and the invisible tilt that led me into this dark part of the fair bubbled up to the surface. I knew I shouldn’t be playing Big O, which is like knowing you shouldn’t have that 3rd serving of cotton candy on a stick after you’ve already starting devouring It only takes one more hand to lose the rest of my stack. Hopes for a good night of sleep are gone. Reload please. I’ve never put any effort into studying Big-O but surely I can figure out a way to lose another buyin before 3 am.

The disaster plan (?) is working, when I flop top two pair on a board of T♣ A♦ 9♥, against a villain with top and bottom pair. The turn 9♦ – another 2-outer – costs me another chunk.

I wasn’t the only one who knew I was in trouble. Several other players started making fun of me in the chat box. I can read, y’all.

On the button, I got 2♥ 8♥ 3♦ 6♦ A♦. This seems to be a very playable hand for Big-O, with high hand potential (nut diamond flush), nut low potential including counterfeit protection (with A23) and scoop potential (including straights using the 86 that also make winning low hands). And position.

The flop was 5♦ 4♥ J♥, giving me a slew of outs. Fist pump. Betting and calling.

The turn T♦ gave me more outs.

Two opponents check, I bet pot and the first villain check-raised all-in. Snap!

He had K♠ A♥ 5♥ 3♠ T♥

Let us count my outs. Outs to win the whole pot: K♦ Q♦ J♦ 9♦ 8♦ 7♦ 4♦ 2♦ 7♠ 7♥ 7♣ 6♠ 6♥ 6♣ 3♠ 3♥ 3♣ A♠ A♣

Plus these to win three quarters: 2♠ 2♦ 2♣

And these outs to win half: 8♠ 8♣

That’s a ton of outs. A plethora. A cornucopia you might say. 24 in total. If other players can hit 2-outers over and over, surely I can smash a 24-outer, amiright?

Anyway …  …  …   I still had a few chips left.

Another schmuck at the table – not involved in this hand – typed in the table chat “what did the fool have?”

One thing I’ve learned, and re-learned many times, is that in poker you tend to get what you deserve when measured over the long run. You get a normal distribution of starting cards. You hit your share of flops. The money you make or lose is what it should be based on how you played. Bad luck is an illusion; really just randomness. You have to learn to accept that, or quit the game. That’s the message.

Or is it?

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