Sometimes when you lose, you’re still a loser

February 8, 2009

At the risk of quoting “White Men Can’t Jump” twice in a three-week span, I have to open with a line from Rosie Perez.

“Sometimes when you win, you really lose.  And sometimes when you lose, you really win.”

Doing my best to purge her accent from my memory, this quote came to mind during a poker game situation last week.  It’s a loose correlation between right/wrong or win/lose, but you’ll see what I’m talking about in a minute.

On to the point, which is the pain of going out on a hand, and then following the game through to the end only to realize you would’ve won.  I can’t stand when this happens.  I end up feeling like I’ll bet those guys on jeopardy do when they only wager 10% of their money and get the easiest question of the year.

What is “I’m a dumbass?”

That is correct.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that’s poker.  And to be a strong poker player (much like, duh, everything else) you have to know the game and make the smart decision.  Which is exactly what I did…I thought. 

So why the quote to start this article?  Well, I felt like this was a perfect example of “sometimes when you make the right call, you end up being wrong.  And sometimes when you make the wrong call (poker can be famous for this) you end up being very right.”

Just for background, here’s the hand.

I was dealt Jack of clubs, nine of hearts.  Nothing special.  I can’t remember if I was the small blind or neither blind, but I called to play the hand.  Right after that, the next player made a major raise…something like 20 percent of my stack. 

I decided to fold.

From force of habit, I follow the hand.  I’m even one of those guys who, if it’s seven card stud or a similar game, will work out the distribution and ask the guy who got the river card I would’ve received to let me see what it was after the hand was over.  Sometimes they oblige, oftentimes they don’t.  But anyway, I follow it through and realize I would’ve pulled a straight, and probably cleaned up against three of a kind.

And oh, did it burn.  Just sat with me for the rest of the night.  I tried clearing my head, tried taking a break, even tried a little Absolut…nothing did the trick.  I was fuming.

I try never to play angry, either, so after about another 30-35 minutes, I called it a night.

Usually I can tell you exactly how much, down to the quarter, I won or lost on any given evening, but I can’t for the life of me remember.  I can’t even remember whether I won or lost, believe it or not.  This “missed opportunity” just got to me.

So, did I make the right call?  I thought so.  I didn’t have a strong enough hand to play against a big raise…and I couldn’t read the guy well enough to feel comfortable calling his bluff (and he wasn’t bluffing).

But it was a large pot (since two people did call his bet) without my contribution, but I’m guessing I could’ve cleaned up topping three of a kind if I stayed in and make intelligent, patient bets to bait him in until the end.

Sometimes when you do the right thing, it definitely turns out to be wrong.  And it will, unfortunately, make it that much more difficult next time to do the right thing. 

The little gambling devils in my head will remind me of this one for a long time.