No pandemic numbers to update, but let’s talk about something relevant in my last 24 hours… my involvement in the World Series of Poker, which was going really well, until… suddenly… it wasn’t.
Unfortunately, that is the nature of the game, and there’s actually something relatable to the world in general, especially these days.
In tournament poker, unlike cash games, you play until you have all the chips (and win) …or you bust out with nothing. Often, in tournament poker, you’re put in a position where it’s blatantly obvious what you should do, but plain old (good or bad, depending who you are in the story) luck will have something to say about it.
Even in the most extreme and obvious cases… and here’s the math on one of the most extreme examples… things can (and do) go wrong.
Let’s say it’s just you and me battling against each other in a hand. You have a pair of Aces, the best possible starting hand. I have a 2 and a 7 of different suits, which is generally the worst starting hand. For some misguided reason, I think you’re trying to bluff me with whatever you did to kick-off the hand, so I go All-In on you, meaning I bet everything I have… not because my cards are any good, but because I think you don’t have anything that good, and as per what I wrote yesterday, this is a game of money played with cards, not the other way around. As long as you think I have something better than you, you should throw away the hand.
But instead, this scenario is a dream for you. Someone pushing All-In, while you have pocket Aces. You call instantly, and are even further delighted to see my awful cards. Here’s the math: After running 5 board (common) cards, you should win 88% of the time. I, through sheer luck, will win 12% of the time… having hit 2 pairs or 3 of a kind or who knows.
And that’s the thing… one out of eight times in that dream scenario, you will lose. And it will feel like someone sledgehammered you in the gut… and if you visit the hotel bar at any poker tournament, you will see an ever-increasing group of gut-sledgehammered people wandering in to drown their sorrows and tell anyone who’ll listen how they just got completely screwed by some idiot who doesn’t know what they’re doing.
I will spare you all the details of exactly what busted me out of “The Big One” this year, but there’s no expert that’d tell you I did anything wrong. I got all my money in with a much better hand, and the other guy got lucky. In a real tournament, “IGHN” – I Go Home Now. Silver lining of course… I already am home. And instead of having a bunch of drunk, depressed poker players to make me feel better, I have my dog licking my face.
What’s relatable? That sometimes, doing the exact right thing… doesn’t yield the results you were hoping for or expecting. You’re wearing a mask, you’re social distancing… and somehow you caught the bug. It’s happened. Bad luck. But in no way does that negate what you (and everyone else) should be doing. Knowing that sometimes things aren’t going to work out is no reason to not do the right thing in the first place.
And, for what it’s worth, there are still some smaller WSOP events I might jump into. If things go well there, I assure you, you’ll hear about it. Kind of like the pandemic… when that starts going well, rest-assured… I’ll be here to tell you all about it.