Friday, April 28, 2017

The Reason I Quit Poker for 2 Years

Every poker player has a bad beat story. Here's mine.

I was in my early 20's playing poker "professionally" as any young man who consistently won at poker would claim. I was at a 10-20 table at the Aria where the action was quite good and the stacks were deep. I was sitting with around $6,000 with the dealer button (in Poker having "position" is very meaningful because you get to act with more information about what your opponent is doing) with pocket 4's. In the small blind (SB) is an old man who is a rock doing rocky things. Just solid player who has only shown monsters, bought in for $2,000 and is now at around $5,000. Under the gun (UTG) was a loose European fish who flew in for the World Series of poker with more money than sense, he's at $8,000 and the real reason we're all at this table.

UTG opens for $40 fold around to me where I decide to raise to $100 fully expecting to take the pot down or get a loose call from the European. SB makes it 300. UTG tanks and flats. At this point I can probably be talked into folding but I think it's pretty standard to call and set mine here. With position I have a lot of options on the flop. Flop comes A44 with two spades. I flop a 4 of a kind. SB checks, maybe a bit too fast. UTG insta pots making it $1,000 to go for a pot of $900. I tank for a while and I flat. SB tanks and min raises.  UTG goes all-in. I count to 20 in my head again hoping to get SB to come along and I call. SB fist pump calls and tables aces. I look at him apologetically as I flip over quads. SB says something about flush draw and saying UTG has his only out. Back to the dealer where the board runs out K on the turn and K on the river. UTG is busy on a phone call or something, tables pocket Kings giving him quad Kings to beat my quad 4's. We're at Aria where there is no bad beat jackpot.

I don't remember much about the next 10 minutes. I think I was stunned, angry, and in disbelief. I felt entitled to the money; I was already spending it in my head. I realized in that moment that I couldn't do it anymore. It obviously ruined my entire trip. I had a new car sitting in front of me only to have it taken away by a guy who was honestly disinterested in the hand. He was on his cell phone and didn't seem to even care that he won. I don't think he even tipped the dealer.

That single hand changed my poker life. Reality came crashing down. Good things don't happen to good people. Mathematics and a .07% chance is a cruel mistress. Happy endings are only for movies.

I quit poker and went back to playing exclusively blackjack. While I am a lifetime winner in blackjack, I now play poker casually to have fun and be social. I might consider playing poker seriously again but I'll never forget that cold day in November.