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Losing like a Champion

Last night, as I was enjoying my evening with wifey Kim and Ernie the Cat, I received a telephone call from long time friend J-Dub. Dub had recently gotten married, and was just back from his honeymoon. As we chatted and caught up, I told him of my most recent trip to AC. We discussed the tournament and the two hands that caused me to lose ITM in 7th place. The first was AA v. 55 all-in preflop, where my adversary hit his 5. The second was AJs v. 9To, in a hand where my adversary did not mean to call, but was absent-mindedly counting his chips in front of his cards.

As I told him about it, he asked, "But doesn't that kill you inside, losing like that?" I knew what he was talking about. It's all too easy to lose at poker, and specifically in tournaments, and think that you were screwed, that god hates you, that luck is conspiring against you, and that you can never win with such luck. But I also knew that this was the wrong way to think about poker.

I explained to Dub: "Nah, I'm cool with it. In both of those situations, I was ahead, so at least I didn't mess up. Luck is part of the game, and after a while you come to accept that. You don't get mad at 2-outters, because it will happen and getting mad won't help you. Instead you just have to see tournament poker for what it is. It is largely a lottery (oversimplifying it a bit for my compadre). Luck is definitely a factor. But if you play smart, then eventually luck will come around and you'll win. That's what its all about, winning big and hitting that huge payout. It's the high payout that makes all of the long suffering worth it."

That's the bottom line, people. I don't mean to sound harsh. I've been in the luck doghouse before, and spent four months in the red this year. That may be a sign to some that I'm not one to take advice from, and if you decide that, then so be it. But I know this game, and at the very least, I've learned to lose with a tad of grace (if not consistent grace). This is a game of luck, and if you are having a bad stretch, sure, let it out. But if you can only focus on your bad luck and damning the poker gods, then man up, goddamnit! You are a poker player, aren't you?! If you are an 80-20 favorite, you are still going to lose 1 out of every 5 attempts. If that happens to you a couple of times in a row, its still within the realms of mathematical probability. All your tilting and wining isn't going to change it.

You have control over one thing in this world and in poker: yourself. Get control over how you perceive things and how you react to things. Learn to lose like a champion, because, yes, champions DO lose in poker.

And if you can't do that, there is always chess.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:16 AM,


At 12:59 PM, Blogger DP said...

That's why there's more money to be made at poker compared to chess.

At 10:15 PM, Blogger Raveen said...

good post man ur exactly right about poker

At 3:55 AM, Blogger AnguilA said...

You are absolutely right. As long as your money goes in as a favorite there's nothing else you can do but watch the outcome.

But when I flip my aces up preflop in a live tourney to see them cracked, I certainly have a harder time digesting it (hopes of winning an important live tourney going down I guess sucks more than losing an online MTT since you can always start up another in just a few clicks)

Anyway, I think you are spot on. Learning to lose is important.

At 10:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing you'll notice about very successful MTT players is that they are rarely all-in, especially pre-flop (except at the Final Table and in some other situational circumstances). It's just common sense. You can go all-in as the favorite every single hand, but you're losing some of them, even AA vs KK and the like.

At 12:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great point that can't be reiterated enough. Thanks!


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