A cursory look through the poker literature will reveal words to the effect that poker isn't a sprint, it's a marathon. They will often mention that there's really no such thing as sessions, but rather that poker is just "one long game," with the idea being that even if you get smacked around on any given night it doesn't really matter, since if you play the game well the percentages will eventually even out, and you'll end up a winner where it really counts, over the long run.
Of course, just like X and 1/X are respectively infinitely large and small, sometimes it feels like poker is both one long game played over the course of a lifetime as well as millions of small games counted by sessions, hours, hands, and even streets. It's hard to remember that "one long game" stuff when we've all had sessions where we'd broken even and felt like the biggest loser in the world, as well as breaking even and feeling like a WSOP winner. Last night at the Borgata, I had one green chip left on the table, one hand to play, when a miracle happened and I went on an incredible rush...to finish even.
A little background: I was playing $6/$12 with some good guys, a few crazy friends with the unfortunate habit of talking to each other in a foreign language during hands, one semi-prick who would go on for hours about perceived misplays, even when he wasn't in the hand, and a guy downing scotch who almost instigated a fistfight. In short, a fun table.
I spent a few hours running bad, but managed to take advantage of a few of the newer players to eventually get a stack above water. Our table broke after a while (the Borgata â€” wrongly, I feel â€” doesn't have a "must-move" system), so I cashed in half my chips and took an open seat in one of the other $6/$12 games. I figured I'd play for a little while longer, as I was having such a good time.
Well, that good time didn't last too long. Kings cracked twice, opponents hitting their lower kickers, and an assortment of excuse-less poor play wiped me out like a hole in the gas tank. It was a rare hand that wasn't raised or three/four-bet preflop, so even the unmemorable hands were costing me. Into the wallet for some more of those previously cashed-in chips, then into the wallet again, and then one final time.
So I've just gotten crushed once more in late position, when that third spade did, in fact, give my opponent the flush. One missed flop later and I'm looking at one final green chip, $25. I'm asking myself why I didn't just leave when the table broke, all those losing hours ago. I could have had a fine meal, headed over for a look at the ocean...so many opportunities, and all I had to do was leave. I decided that I'd give myself this final go around the table to see if I could pick up pocket aces or something, and if not, I'd take that lonely green chip and get myself some dinner. I threw away pocket 2's in middle position only to see a deuce fall on the turn. I threw away a bunch of crap. And then I was under the gun.
This was it: if I didn't find something right now then I definitely wasn't going to waste my money on the blinds. I mean, $25 is still $25, and I was hungry. So I looked down to find...the 9 & 5 of hearts. Ugh. But...well...it's my last hand, so why not try limping in and hope I get lucky? $19 is $19, too. So I limp, only to watch in horror as it's raised and reraised behind me. Figuring that my hand isn't really in danger against the premium hands I call the bet, and it's, of course, capped by the original raiser. And folks, one lonely white chip is not even $1.
The first thing I notice about the flop: at least there's one heart. The next: hey, I have an open-ended straight draw! Then..waitaminnit...I have two open-ended straight draws which means...I have a straight! Yep, the flop was 678. I throw in that last white chip and watch as the board pairs the six and then the seven...but no worries, I win the hand (pocket queens takes the side pot) and quintuple up.
I decide to play another round and immediately get pocket Kings in the big blind. It's capped again, but this time there's nobody playing crap straights and I take down another monster. In two hands I've gone from looking for my coat to almost $300, and it doesn't stop there. Not long after I pick up pocket tens and decide to only smooth-call the raise. I don't hit trips on the flop...I hit quads. It's checked around, and on the turn a King falls. The other two players each hit their King and the original raiser (who hit his King) bumps it up before me and ends up paying off for a raise on the river. It was beautiful.
With that and another small win or two, I realized I had won back everything that I had lost during those nightmare hours, and even a few measly chips more â€” enough for breakfast, at least. And while I've had bigger wins than the $10 I eventually finished ahead, I can't think of too many better ones.