I used to play in a very seedy private tournament many years ago. I'm still sure that about half the original buy-in money never actually made its way into the prize pool, but that's all a learning experience of course and once you know that you know to simply avoid such joints in the future. It was a rowdy but good natured affair. I always remember the owner announcing at the start of the event "shuffle up and deal...chilled bog rolls are in the fridge on standby for those who need them", which was his way of saying that you were all about to get repeatedly outdrawn in ugly fashion by a bunch of numpties with any two cards, and a pocket full of rebuys, so don't think for a moment that playing poker properly is going to get you the results that you think you deserve. Sage advice indeed. It was a bloodbath, and many a buy-in was shredded with the best hand going in.
Another guy when I first began playing seriously told me "if you are going to play poker tournaments, then you'd better get used to getting outdrawn horribly, because it's going to happen a LOT!" I took this advice with me going forward, and that knowledge, accompanied with what I had always been told was a very good and even temperament for such things anyway, stood me in good stead for what was to happen many times in years to come.
I remember the first time I ever played in the WSOP main event many years ago. I was experienced by then, but obviously still a bit apprehensive since it was my first outing into the biggest poker tournament in the world calendar. I played solid, took my chances, built up a reasonable stack, and then the fateful hand came along when we were on (if I correctly recall), the 300/600 level on day one.
I got dealt KK, and there was a raise to 1250 ahead of me from an aggressive young kid who had a hoodie, shades, an iPod, 3 bottles of water, loads of poker (not sponsorship) logos, and the conversational and social skills of an elderly Yorkshire terrier. One other player called his raise, and I then made it about 3100. A player behind me then also called the 3100 and it was back to the youngster. He twiddled his chips and made it 6300. Next player passes and it's back to me.
Three of us in the pot and we're all pretty deep. The money in the middle looks worth winning so I make it 14k out of my original stack of about 70. The guy who called my 3100 folds after about a 4 min dwell so it's me vs the hoodie.
He tanks for 5-6 minutes it feels like, then makes it 29,000. I immediately go all-in.
He looks shocked and thinks for a moment. I know he doesn't have aces or kings. My gut feeling is AK. He dwells and dwells, counts his chips and tries to give me the treatment. I was chatty even back then, so I decide to make it easy for him.
"You have ace-king don't you. Your hand is no good". He goes green.
Another two minutes passes. It's a big pot in the main event and luckily most of the table are aware of this, and they exercise some etiquette and don't pipe up calling a clock or anything.
More chip twiddling, he looks genuinely pained.
I tell him "look, you 100% have ace king. I guarantee it. You must realise by now what awful shape you're in?"
He sighs and slumps...and then slides the rest of his stack over the line, we both had around the same chips at the start of the hand. Over we go..
One of the original guys in the hand exclaims "I folded Ace-queen". Good news for me but still not really something you should say at this point.
A39. I stand up.
The other guy who was in the pot says "wow. I folded A9".
Turn and river are bricks, and I'm out of the main event.
This whole paragraph isn't to be accompanied by violins, or to illustrate my Jedi skills at hand reading. It's all about what happens next...
He springs out of his seat, and exclaims "YES!" very loudly. Then starts hi-fiving his buddies on the rail. I'm collecting my stuff and standing up. He comes back to the table, as the dealer pushes him the pot. He looks over at me and utters the word every poker player needs to hear at a time like this..
I consider my reply very carefully. I've just been one outed in the main event to a guy who has called a 7-bet shove when I've told him what cards he has before he calls. Nothing I say is going to change that.
"Nice hand. Good luck everybody". I make my exit. There was little else to add.
I guess I'm trying to say that good players are going to get the shaft playing poker. It feels like it happens more than to bad players, because obviously the good players make fewer mistakes and are in better shape when the cards go on their backs. Having said that this doesn't give anyone a divine right to win a hand, a number of hands, or a tournament. A part of the game comes down to luck, and bad players or lucky players winning pots or tournaments is the foundation for why there is a poker world. Don't cry about it. Don't tell the other guy how much he sucked. Just accept it for what it is and move on. You'll be a better person for doing it, and generally people won't think you're a prick who doesn't know how to take losing. Look at the great players. The truly great ones. With one notable exception they all just suck up losing and get in with it. Maybe they know something that the cry-babies don't...
Today was a day of recovery. I slept late, did some swimming and some admin, went out to dinner with a pal, and went and got myself an hour's massage from a very sweet girl. I'm still wondering if she was providing therapy or trying to kill me with her feet by walking all over me. Felt good though. All very civilised it all was too. Days off here are very important. So is not bleating about it when you don't win. I may very possibly get the cucumber again tomorrow when I play at Planet Hollywood for a one day $400 event. Whatever happens, I know I'm better prepared for the inevitable ups and downs than most.