Learn not to be a poker victim

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Play long enough and you’ll get your share of cooler hands. There will be times when the cards play themselves and there’s not a whole lot you can do. There are, however, plenty of times when you can do something about it. You don’t always have to be a victim. Here are two scenarios I witnessed in the past two tournaments I played.

In the first one, we were down to eight players (paying six) and the two biggest stacks saw a flop of Q-J-2. There was a bet, a raise, a reraise, an all-in and a call. Snap, snap, snap, snap and snap. Both could have coasted to the money so I was expecting to see some big hands, yet, it was A-Q vs. K-10. A nine on the turn left the A-Q crippled and he was eliminated shortly thereafter.

Next tourney, we’re down to six and paying four. The big stack at the table called an all-in with pocket sixes and lost to pocket 10s. A few hands later there was an almost identical hand. He called an all-in with pocket sevens and was against 10s and lost again. Shortly thereafter, he was eliminated. In both tournaments, I sensed the player eliminated felt victimized by his poor luck and there wasn’t much he could have done given the hand he was dealt.

This brings me to a third scenario. A friend of mine called me to ask my opinion of a hand. He was in a tourney where they were down to six and paying five. He was short-stacked, but so are two others. One of the short stacks went all-in preflop before our friend could act. According to our friend, the all-in player was playing extremely tight. Our friend had A-Q and decided to fold. Everyone folded and the all-in flashed pocket nines. Our friend announced he folded A-Q and the table didn’t believe him as they were unanimous that A-Q is an automatic call in that spot.

A-Q is a positive EV call there given the potential hand range of even a tight player coupled with the blinds and antes in the center of the table. Is it an automatic call? That’s up to each individual, but my friend’s point was that he did not want to go out on someone else’s terms. He could easily be up against a pocket pair or A-K and after grinding all day, he did not want to risk his tournament life on a coin flip or worse. He refused to be a victim to his cards. He folded and ended up in a four-way chop. While a correct decision doesn’t depend on the ultimate result, I can’t argue with his logic, not after some of the victims I’ve witnessed.

— David Apostolico is the author of You are the Variable: Play Your Best Poker, ($5.99 for Kindle). Email him at thepokerwriter@aol.com.