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Poker News | PokerWorks Op-Ed

Online Poker Challenge: Can I Love This Game Anymore?

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I'm trying hard not to hate the game of poker.

I'm really trying.

I have always understood that bad streaks happen. Bad beats happen. Bad shit happens all the time in poker. Even when you're running well, you'll have some rough nights.

But I don't think I can remember a more frustrating bad streak than the last two months.

I should warn you that some of what you'll read here may seem like whining. I should also warn you that some of what you'll read WILL be whining. I should, again, warn you that what you'll also read here may not seem like anything new. But, please, read on. This is more than a screed on how my luck is bad. It's an essay on trying to play a game I love even when it continues to kick me in the nuts.

Really, it's bad timing. Like I start a new month on the first of April, anxious to put a horrible March behind me (a month that didn't really clobber my bankroll but could have been so much better). Only I'm the Fool. And in the first hand of the night, my nut flush in Omaha got runner-runnered by a cheap full house. And then I have top set in Omaha with a set of Js, I know a guy has A-A-x-x, and I get him to call off his stack to me.

He has no draws. He has virtually no chance to win. And then he gets his two-outer Ace on the river.

The next night my A-A-x-x double-suited loses to J397 rainbow pre-flop.

And then a guy goes all in with a naked flush draw against my top set and hits. And was this in Omaha? Nah. Holdem.

So the bad streak continues. I'm never, ever sucking out against someone, and yet people are sucking out on me all the time. That's a bad combination.

The real issue here is I'm a "good" player. I suppose I should explain.

I play a solid, tight game. Man, back in 2006, you could crush a $25 No-Limit Holdem game playing a solid, tight, aggressive game. You won, in other words, by not making stupid mistakes. That's it. You laid down top pair, knew when you had odds to call with a flush draw or not and respected shoves before the flop. Otherwise you played your good hands tough. And you won.

These days things are much tougher. But I've said that before. You've already noticed that. Rush Poker on Full Tilt has helped because no one really knows I play fairly tight. The problem is most people on Rush Poker play that same tight, aggressive game that won them a lot of money.

So when you do, finally, almost miraculously, get a guy to make a mistake, and he shoves on you with something stupid like a flush draw, and you're way ahead to win the hand, and you lose, it's just that much more painful. There just aren't that many opportunities any longer.

And yet when I review my hands this month, most of my big hands are not holding up. Remember when I won in February? I didn't do anything much differently. It's just that my hands held up when I was ahead. Now they're getting crushed.

So the next week I give it a try. I decide to take a chance, only it's not really a chance. I have top set and a flush draw. The other guy obviously flopped a straight. I can't tell you how many of my flopped straights have been crushed in Omaha these last two months. I sort of understand. A flopped straight in Omaha is a very vulnerable hand to exactly the kinds of hand I have right now. I have a huge draw. I'm actually a favorite. The last four times I've gone all in with a straight and the other guy had a huge draw, or even just a flush draw, he's hit.

I do not hit. The guy's straight wins.

I may have to get away from Omaha for a while. It's really killing me. In fact, if my bankroll drops to a certain number - and I'll tell you that number only if I reach it - I am quitting Omaha for a while. I'll have to only play Holdem. That will bore me to tears but I can't lose all my money.

Do you know what else is hard about suckouts? They make you scared to put your money in, even with the best hand. I had A-A two weeks ago, and I checked a fairly nebulous flop twice because I was certain my opponent had flopped something to crack them. He wound up runner-runnering me for a straight with his J-J. I didn't lose a lot on that hand, but I did pay him on the river. That's not just bad poker. That's horrible poker. That's tilting. I quit for the night.

One thing I've learned in Omaha: You have to almost expect coolers. I had a full house. I got it on the turn. Only one hand really beats me, and of course he has it with his top set. But when I made a small raise on the river, he re-raised me big. In Omaha, you have to fold there. He has you beat too many times for it to be profitable for you to call.

So I have learned some things throughout this streak.

I have to say that I'm not encouraged. In fact I'm discouraged. It seems like getting your money in when you're ahead doesn't work anymore. I'll be honest: The biggest pot I won this month was on a bad play. I went all-in in Omaha with nothing but top pair, a gutshot straight draw and a flush draw (on the turn, no less) against top set, and I sucked out and won.

Getting your money in behind seems to be the way to go.

I know the odds simply don't reward bad players all the time. But I'm wondering why I spent all that time and money on all those poker books. I'm trying hard not to hate the game of poker. But the game's changed, and I wonder if I can love the new version any more.

I finish the month when someone makes the worst play I've ever seen against me in Omaha and gets rewarded.

I'm giving you the hand history. I admit my call on the turn wasn't the best but I just could not put him on that hand given the action. Look at his hole cards too. Plus I had a lot of outs. Of course, they didn't hit.

Read it if you want. And honestly I don't think I'd blame you if you didn't. You've probably heard enough whining. Let's hope next month we don't see any of it.

For both our sakes.

Full Tilt Poker Game #20148737300: Table Alacrity (6 max) - $0.10/$0.25 - Pot Limit Omaha Hi - 15:45:52 ET - 2010/04/17
Seat 1: Yuri_Empire ($27.43)
Seat 2: potkukelkka ($40.92)
Seat 3: pokerpeaker ($30.30)
Seat 4: Mangrow ($9.25)
Seat 5: CherryPotPie ($28.66)
Seat 6: ccthefirst ($14.99)
Mangrow posts the small blind of $0.10
CherryPotPie posts the big blind of $0.25
The button is in seat #3
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to pokerpeaker {A-Diamonds}{Q-Clubs}{K-Diamonds}{K-Hearts}
ccthefirst folds
Yuri_Empire folds
potkukelkka folds
pokerpeaker raises to $0.85
Mangrow folds
CherryPotPie calls $0.60
*** FLOP *** {K-Clubs}{10-Spades}{2-Clubs}
CherryPotPie checks
pokerpeaker bets $0.85
CherryPotPie raises to $3
pokerpeaker raises to $10.80
CherryPotPie calls $7.80
*** TURN *** {K-Clubs}{10-Spades}{2-Clubs} {J-Clubs}
CherryPotPie bets $17.01, and is all in
pokerpeaker calls $17.01
CherryPotPie shows {7-Clubs}{Q-Spades}{A-Clubs}{5-Diamonds}
pokerpeaker shows {A-Diamonds}{Q-Clubs}{K-Diamonds}{K-Hearts}
*** RIVER *** {K-Clubs}{10-Spades}{2-Clubs}{J-Clubs} {9-Clubs}
CherryPotPie shows a flush, Ace high
pokerpeaker shows a straight, Ace high
CherryPotPie wins the pot ($54.55) with a flush, Ace high
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $57.42 | Rake $2.87
Board: {K-Clubs}{10-Spades}{2-Clubs}{J-Clubs}{9-Clubs}
Seat 1: Yuri_Empire didn't bet (folded)
Seat 2: potkukelkka didn't bet (folded)
Seat 3: pokerpeaker (button) showed {A-Diamonds}{Q-Clubs}{K-Diamonds}{K-Hearts} and lost with a straight, Ace high
Seat 4: Mangrow (small blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 5: CherryPotPie (big blind) showed {7-Clubs}{Q-Spades}{A-Clubs}{5-Diamonds} and won ($54.55) with a flush, Ace high
Seat 6: ccthefirst didn't bet (folded)

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