I remember years back making a final table (stop sniggering, I've already thought of any jokes you might want to post in the comments). It was the first hand of a weekly tournament at Luton Grosvenor, when I was a regular there, despite the 2 hour drive each way to play. Over the course of a few years the place was a source of plenty of money, much happiness, and occasional heartbreak, but those are entirely different stories. I digress. You should be used to that by now from me.
I looked down at the wonderful sight of a red ace and a black Ace. Always good to see. I'd had a brutal run in tournaments for a few months, and had basically willed my way to a final table with very few hands actually being shown down. 9th place paid very little, and 1st would make life a lot easier financially for a while for me. The line up in the final was a murderer's row of regulars. Most were pretty capable players and thinkers of the game, so I decided to be unorthodox. I jammed, under the gun, for about 25 big blinds, hoping to get a bad call, which in Hold 'Em, when you have Aces preflop, you always want..
All folded round to one regular, who sized up the bet, assessed the table, and then said out loud "You know what? I know I'm behind here, but you're so out of form I'm going to call you". He pushed in his chips, and flipped over A9 offsuit against my AA. Hallelujah. Well played Kevin. Start engraving that trophy.
He ran out a full house, 9's full of deuces, and busted me in 9th. Nice hand brother. I think I picked up enough for my hard work to put petrol in the car that night.
The point of this tale isn't to whine about getting busted (no one cares), nor is it to talk about bad luck (it doesn't exist, at least not in the sense most people understand). It's to highlight this wonderful thing that gamblers (in the UK anyway) call "form". It can't really be quantified, yet anyone who has experienced it, either good or bad, will testify as to the stark reality of it's existence. When you're "in form", every draw hits for you, every hand is called by another just a pip worse, and every bluff gets through. You get the trophy, the money and the girl, and leave in a shiny new car with a big novelty cheque. Happy days.
Then of course, there's bad form, or being "out" of form. Far less fun.
An out of form player can't do a thing right. They make good decisions that end up as losers, they fold the winner, and they bubble every tournament, or get their money in as a decent favourite, and get shafted. A lot. Being out of form is a horrible place in which to find oneself, it feels like everything you learnt and know is now in question, and makes you rethink everything, including yourself, and your abilities and life choices. For a poker player, it's about as bad as things can get, and if you don't have the constitution for it, it can rip you to bits.
Right now, smack bang in the middle of my Spring tournament series, I am well and truly "out of form". I know it, you know it, anyone reading the painful updates knows it. This doesn't affect my mindset or my choices when playing, nor am I bleating that I can't win a hand, a race or a tournament. I just recognise it for what it is. For me, the right thing to do is to knuckle down and stay focused, and to be around when form changes, which inevitably it will. Note there's a huge difference between playing capably and being out of form, and playing badly, and believing that in fact, you're just unlucky. A lot of people don't know the difference, and if you don't, then poker probably isn't for you.
I've made a few bad decisions in events I've played, but generally so far have either got the money in good and been outdrawn, or have been on the draw myself and it's turned to ashes at the wort possible time for me. Almost all of the time, my money has gone in first to put the other player to the decision, which is a fundamental of winning poker, both in cash and tournaments. The unfortunate outcome of this isn't "so sick" as the kids who know it all like to say, it's just standard, and how you handle it and move on when it goes badly says a lot about who you are.
Venetian $600 day 1B tomorrow. Time to saddle up and try again. Whatever the outcome, I won't be moaning about the unfairness of life. I'll just be trying to play my best and give myself the best chance to turn bad form around.