Improved Poker Tournament Results | WSOP Harrah’s Cherokee

Scared Money Don’t Win Poker Tournaments!

I didn’t play in Flight 1A because it ran at 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. I love poker, but I wasn’t going to ditch my family on Thanksgiving.

Flight 1B began at 11 a.m. on Black Friday, which was too early after a Thanksgiving feast. Flight 1C started at 4 p.m. on the same day, which made the most sense to me. Since I had an hour to spare, I took a walk by the river, followed the path to the rarely-used picnic benches, and exercised. Just push-ups and triceps-dips, but it did improve my mood.

In Flight 1C, it took many hours to grind my way up to 40,000 chips but less than an hour for it to dwindle to 20,000. I had one borderline call. I was just barely getting the odds to call and none of my outs hit. Was 0-3 in race situations, all of which I was barely ahead.

I was attempting to knock out opponents in all of those situations. You could say I was running bad, but after grinding for so many hours, it wasn’t great decision making to put my chips at risk—even if for a few thousand chips at a time (those add up).

I usually try to avoid race situations as much as possible in tournaments. My thinking is that there is no sense in flipping a coin if you feel you’re one of the stronger players at the table. Several well-known professionals—who have been around for a very long time—feel the same way. Prior to those calls, I was playing some of the best poker of my life.

With 10 minutes prior to bagging and only 17,500 in chips, I shoved with A8-off from middle position. It was the right move because the blinds were 3,000/6,000 with a 50 ante. Either I collected the blinds or I had a shot at winning the pot in a likely heads-up situation (not many people want to call for 17,500 prior to bagging).

The BB (and big stack at the table with about 105,000 chips) debated for a while, which was a good sign because it meant I wasn’t dominated if he called. He eventually called with 33, which held. I was out.

The following is what I wrote in my notebook when I returned to my hotel room that night:

The chair at the hotel desk is really low and that matches the way I feel. I’m beginning to think there’s something wrong with me, that I have a problem. I’m staring into the mirror behind the desk as I write this (eyes literally staring at myself as I write this) and I don’t like what I see.

I see a guy who will turn 42 years old in three weeks and is wasting money that can be used to support his family and a guy who will be away from his wife and son for three consecutive weekends.

At this point in time, I plan on playing next weekend in the Main Event (already booked hotel), but only because I want it to be really painful. Basically, I want to hit bottom. Not bottom as in going broke. I have another gig (a gig much bigger than this one and not related to poker) that drives my cash flow, but poker is hurting my net income.

I want to hit my own personal bottom. But there’s still a chance that I cancel my hotel next week and don’t play in the Main Event. Still undecided. 70/30 I play as of right now. After last week and now firing at Re-Entry and failing, I’m not feeling confident at all.

Even if I win, what’s the endgame? Travel to play poker? Lose time with son? Time that I will never be able to have back? I want to travel with family, but poker time and expenses have put a dent in that over the past few years. Also, when I’m playing poker, I usually know where my opponent stands—many times to the exact holding—and I STILL LOSE!

This is frustrating. I continue to put myself in mathematically advantageous situations and it doesn’t work. I’m soon going to have to make a decision between poker and family, but I think it might be a compromise. I need to cut down on travel, play, etc. and be more selective with tournament events.

After writing the above notes, I sent a text to my wife.

Me: No good. Cash games went well and made it a profitable trip, but If I don’t cash big next week, then off until April. Will drive home tomorrow morning. Thinking a lot. If next week goes poorly, then I could even take off for a year.

Wife: J said you were still playing when you called. Did you not bag chips? Maybe you just shouldn’t play next week.

Me: I was still playing but just missed bagging again. Next week is the biggest payday by far. I need to know. If I fail, I will go into anti-poker mode, probably get crazy into fitness again, and write a lot of articles so it’s profitable. I can make up the money, but I can’t make up the time. All that said, a lot will depend on work week.

Me (again): Wait … I might have an idea. Let me think (sleep on it). There might be a way where I can play and use next week as the big shove for The Big Shove (instead of Vegas).

Me (again): BTW, at least cash games seem relatively easy now.

Wife: J has been really upset today about you being gone. Stick to cash games. Less time consuming.

Me: Cash games are WAY less time consuming. You are correct about that. I will figure out a way to make it up to J. Right now, leaning toward playing next week, but leaving our house Friday night, playing Sat and either bagging or driving back home Sat night.

Me (again): The irony is that I ate at the Noodle Bar and two older guys went from talking to each other about poker to talking to each other about family and how they both missed their dads. I need to think, especially in the car on the way home.

Wife: Ok.

Wife (again): What time will you be home tomorrow?

Me: Don’t know. Going to try to get some sleep now, but slept awful last night. I don’t even know how I’m still awake. I’ll text you in a.m. Love you.

Wife: Love you too.

I lose two weeks in a row, traveling, and she still texts “Love you.” That’s a win! (Looking back on this, it was an interesting time but I wasn’t aware of it. No infidelity. That’s not what I mean. Something else that I won’t get into for privacy reasons. I also didn’t realize it at the time, but there was a clue in those last two texts.)

Result (overall): +$835
Profit/Loss: -$4,229 (cash games went well, but that wasn’t my objective)

Author: Henry Brown