Monday, June 7, 2010

Self Destructing: The fine line between genius and donkey...

I am taking a holiday from blogging my WSOP experience and I promise to finish it as I have a lot more to talk about. I am, however, considering taking a break from both blogging and from poker after what happened to me yesterday when I entered the Venetian Deep Stack Tourney.

Poker is a hobby that requires a lot of my time. Although poker has brought home money, it without question puts a strain on my personal and professional life. Although I spend a lot of time with my children, I know that my wife feels slighted when I take off to the rooms on the weekend after a long busy work week. I do my best to make time for us, but even without poker it is difficult with 2 children, 2 dogs, and both of us working full-time.

Also, as of late, I have been putting more energy into poker than I have at growing my practice. I love medicine, specifically the fields that I specialize in; wound care and weight management. What deters me from enjoying my job is the business end of things. From dealing with insurance companies to toilet paper. I never wanted to have to worry about that bullsh*t. I was naive when I went into medicine, thinking all I needed to do was take care of people.

This brings me to yesterday.

Having more confidence than ever in my tournament game I planned on going to the Venetian this Sunday to enter the Deep Stack Event. It is a ranked tourney, with a $350 buy-in and attracts more than 500 entrants. After last week I was very excited to get into another large field tourney that was ranked.

The problem with the tourney was that:
a. It was a 2 day event
b. Day 1 did not end until 2am

This creates several issues:
1. It tears me from my family for the entire Sunday.
2. If I make it to day 2 I will need to cancel a few patients at the end of the day; which might not even make sense since the money starts at $695.
3. I have to be at work by 7am...which If I do well, leave the Venetian at 2:15am; get home by 2:45 and then fall asleep at 3:15. That leaves me with about 3 hours of sleep.

I have done medical residency, and so sleep was not as much a concern for me as the overwhelming guilt I had of possibly leaving my family for so long.

I rationalized that since my wife was gone at a very exciting Dialectal Behavior Therapy workshop from Thursday to Saturday and I spent all weekend with the kids, I deserved some poker time. Although my wife was not excited I might be gone until 2am she did not give me any issues about going.

When I arrived at the Venetian and bought my seat I received a very cool high quality tee-shirt. The tourney had more than 560 entrants, paying the top 54 places.

I am not going to detail the tourney, but to summarize it, I did not have great cards. I do feel like I played my best poker game yet. By level 7 the field was down to 200, I had an average stack of about 22k, and the blinds/antes were still mild on my stack. I had an incredible table image and my bets were well respected. I had solid control over my environment.

I was having a great time but I couldn't shake the feeling that I missed my family and was a bad father.

Then I self-destructed. Amazingly this occured without being on obvious tilt or having a specific emotion towards another player. I still can't believe I did this...but here is the notable hand:

Blinds 300-600 antes 50
My stack is around 22k

I am in the big blind at seat #4 and I am dealt pocket 5's. Under the gun folds, and seat #6 comes in with a $1600 raise. Seat #6 has come out with a raise at least half a dozen times from this same position. Everyone folded to me. Several levels ago I challenged him from the same position with a re-raise that he-called and I was able to steal the pot from him after I bet out on the flop.

I had little respect for this raise and my first hunch was to re-raise him, but since I already used that tactic on him I was weary that he might push back. Calling did not seem like a good option as I did not want to have to count on flopping a set to take this pot. My next thought was to push all-in, putting the pressure on him and delightfully taking a few extra grand if he were to fold. Due to the risk of the move I second guessed myself (something I should not do) and did what I know was wrong. I called.

The flop Came J 4 9 rainbow. I checked and he bet out $2600. I didn't believe him. Like an idiot I called again. The turn was a Queen. I checked. He pushed all-in.

I smelled weakness on him. I just knew he had a weak hand. But how could I possibly call pocket 5's with 3 over cards. If I didn't see him make this pre-flop raise so regularly from this position I would have likely folded this hand pre-flop. I don't even know why I called it on the flop. I sat there surprised with myself that I was now considering calling an all in bet. While deliberating I vividly remember checking my cell phone to see what time it was. It was only 5:30pm or so. I still had a full night to spend with my family. I thought about how nice it would be to see my kids.
I knew I was about to go home.

I called.

Seat #6 looked crushed and defeated by my call. My read was close to spot on. He states "Good call." For a moment I thought I must be a genius, but the line between genius and donkey is thin.

With the image I established, he and everyone else were shocked to see me turn up pocket 5's.

He gleefully turned up J7. Off.

I was crippled and seat #5 picked up my pieces ultimately sending me home.

I am so disgusted with myself that I did this. I wasted a good position in a ranked tourney on a complete idiot move. If I wanted to go home so bad why didn't I just move all-in preflop? Was it because I knew this was the best decision at the time? There is no way he could have called me with J7 freakin off. All-in might seem like a reckless move...but I find more often than not my instincts are right.

At the end of the day I believe I did this because I wanted to go home. The guilt of being away from my family and the stress of having to deal with work loomed within.

Its been hard to get this out of my head. I think I need to take some time off from poker. I can't go into these tourneys partially committed and with all these mixed emotions. I love poker. I love being a physician. Most of all I love my family. Somehow I must find balance.

1 comment:

  1. I've been there, too. Playing your worst because your mind is elsewhere and in particular on family. You just have to keep finding the time when it's right - so you feel good about it. One of my motivating factors when I play is wanting to win for my family too. Hey, it worked for Jerry Yang - right?