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A Thin Line Between Self-Critique and Shame

I'll be getting to This is True #4, the wrap up for Which is True #4 later this week. In the meanwhile, I would like to take a moment to discuss something that seems to be a repeat occurrence for me lately.

I am ashamed. Plain and simple. I wish I was being self-critical. After all, self-critique is the way in which we learn. But that is just not the case. I am ashamed. But why?

Last night, after making a strong performance throughout that Hoy, leading the pack in 1st place out of 20, and holding a spot in the top 5 for a long time, I eventually went out 9th, when I made a stupid play. It's something that I am prone to do, especially (or at least apparently) during blogger tournaments. Up until that point, I was playing smart poker. I was also getting hit with the deck, but I kept taking enough stabs at orphaned pots that I was getting paid off when I wanted it, and incidentally, winning pots uncontested when needed as well. And then, I just gave it all away in one hand.

Heading in to the final table, I thought I was playing screwed down. I had made some good laydowns preflop, choosing to use my stack to get me to the final table. I wasn't planning on making any moves. But then the background changed as we entered the final table and I was dealt TT. From there, I just can't explain it. I did exactly what I did not want to do, and if I had taken an extra minute, hell, an extra second, to think things through, I wouldn't be typing about how I am ashamed of myself today. I would be typing about how great I played.

All that work to get to the final table, and I essentially fell on my sword. In the hand, a player UTG raised preflop, a player to his left called, I raised with TT, and the first bettor folded. The raiser pushed all-in, which would put me all-in (I was slightly covered). And I called.

Let's not worry about what he had just yet. Let's look at all of the things going on. First off, we have a smooth call-reraise. If memory is wrong, then at the very least, we have a raiser who re-re-raised after I popped it up. In both instances, the player is showing strength. What could this strength mean? Well, at the widest, it could mean any pocket pair (realistically, I'd argue 66 and up, and all high Aces. However, this player was willing to put most of his stack at risk when he re-raised all-in. If he lost, he'd have less than 400. We were both gambling with 7k+ stacks, so he had no reason to take any huge chances. Now, adding that to our widest range analysis, we can pretty much eliminate all of the underpairs, except for maybe 99 if he was desperate. So, now our range consists of dominating hands (JJ-AA) and coinflip hands (AJ-AK) mostly. This begs the question, WHAT THE FUCK WAS I THINKING?!

I wasn't. That's the problem. I was admittedly intoxicated, but beyond that, I was just not thinking it through. Part of me figured that if I doubled up, I would be in great shape to take one of the three money spots. As it were, I was probably at 5th or 6th. But realistically speaking, I should have folded TT and waited for a better spot. My shame is that I made a purely amatuer play, disregarding all of the information available to me and playing ONLY my cards. Disgusting.

The shame continued this morning. I missed a Court deadline and had to make a motion for an extension. To win, I needed to explain the extenuating circumstances. The only problem: there weren't any. I just fucked up. It was a matter of lack of experience, and it is going to cause the upcoming trial and settlement talks to be much more difficult for our firm. I had to face my shame by telling the Big Boss Man, and while I took my licks like a man, I still found the most difficult part to be the personal shame.

I hold myself to high standards. That applies in poker, work and life in general. I strive to be self-critical so that I can analyze my faults and make plans to address and overcome them. But sometimes, faced with my own fallability, I can fall into shame. Its a thin line, no doubt, but its an important one. In shame, I do not think about how I can improve. I think about how I let myself and those around me down. I think about how I failed. I am essentially on life tilt.

With this in mind, I'm foregoing live poker tonight. Fortunately, I'll be at Salami Club tomorrow for the nightly tournament with 23Skidoo and maybe F-Train (if anyone else is interested, send me an email using the tab at the top of the blog). But not tonight. I may be shamed of my play, but the self-critical part of me knows I am in no condition to win money playing poker. At least I have that going for me.

Oh, and he had Queens.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 2:50 PM,


At 3:32 PM, Blogger L'artiste said...

So what did he have? Aces, kings?

At 3:38 PM, Blogger kipper said...

Hey, we all are donkeys at some time or another. Just don't let it become a habitual thing both at the tables and in workplace! But you manned up to both situations and posted it in your blog! Your da Man!


At 3:39 PM, Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Well written, Jordan. And in the end neither of those two things are really big deals in the overall scheme of things. I do admire your ability to see a bad play of yours for what it is. Honestly, one of the biggest trends I see among the bloggers is people who make horrible poker plays, and then follow those horrible decisions up by the even worse decisions to defend their indefensible plays with ill-fitting comments like "I had odds" or "I was priced in" or "I had to call". The ability to look at things the way you have in this post automatically puts you ahead of the vast majority of blonkeys out there.

At 4:03 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

He had Queens, l'artiste.

Kipper and Hoy, I post here for therapy as much as anything else. I'm glad you both like what you see and I appreciate the positive words. I definitely am not fishing for positive feedback, but when I get it, it can really help me get rid of those dark clouds I allow to surround my head.

At 4:25 PM, Blogger SirFWALGMan said...

I totally disagree with Hoyazo.. I have the same problem as you with laying down small-mid pairs but if you have the stack where the blinds are not bothering you just throw those biatches out. In the long run you will do better.

Caveat to that: If you have such a huge stack that it does not matter if you call then go ahead.

In that situation I totally agree with you that you should have just let it go..

At 4:26 PM, Blogger 23skidoo said...

Man, that is my M.O. for fonkaments.

See you tomorrow.

At 4:28 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

Woffle, I don't think Hoy is saying that my play was correct. He doesn't discuss the hand at all. He is merely stating that it is good that I can be self-critical of my play. Did I miss something?

At 4:50 PM, Blogger Patch said...

I disagree with Hoy. Not with anything he actually said, just in general principle. ;-)

Actually, quite to the contrary, I have to agree with almost everything he said. The ability to look at these plays objectively puts you way ahead.

We all make mistakes. If we didn't, we'd all be Phil Hellmuth, and who would want to live in that world? That you recognize it as a mistake is key to avoiding it in the future.

My biggest objection here is with you begging the question, because you didn't. You raised the question. I would suggest one who uses logic and reason to make a living should know the difference, but, you work within the legal system, so logic and reason are obviously not something you bump into on a regular basis at work.

Mostly kidding, but this begging the question thing is a real pet peeve. Now, excuse me while I go begging for my money back from Neteller.

At 5:05 PM, Blogger Julius_Goat said...

I totally disagree with Waffles. I think that Jordan didn't raise with his Aces because he was hoping for a raiser after him to put all in. I mean, after all, this is PLO with deep stacks.

At 5:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

patch: "We all make mistakes. If we didn't, we'd all be Phil Hellmuth, and who would want to live in that world?

Phil Hellmuth is a great player -- what's your point?


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