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Sometimes You Are Just Going To Lose

by Jonathan Little |  Published: Jul 03, 2019

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Day one of the $10,000 buy-in World Poker Tour event at Aria went well enough. I was fortunate to find A-A against K-K to double up my 40,000-starting stack to 80,000, and then chipped up a bit from there to finish the day with a healthy 87,000. I returned to day two to find a fun table, but proceeded to lose every hand.

Early in the day at 500-1,000 with a 1,000 big blind ante, a loose, aggressive player raised to 2,200 from middle position and I defended the big blind with KDiamond Suit 9Club Suit. K-9 is a perfectly fine hand to defend from the big blind, especially given the amazing pot odds.

The flop came 10Diamond Suit 9Diamond Suit 4Heart Suit, giving me middle pair. I checked, he bet 4,000, and I called. There is no point in raising because he will never fold a better hand and will be getting the correct price to continue with his reasonable draws. When you have a clear, marginal, made hand, check-calling is almost always the right play.

The turn was the 7Diamond Suit, giving me a flush draw. I checked, he bet 9,000, and I called. At this point, my middle pair is starting to look quite marginal, but it is still too strong to fold, especially with the king-high flush draw. My opponent is known to be quite capable of betting with a wide range including many draws, so I would likely continue even without the flush draw.

The river was the KSpade Suit, improving me to two pair. I checked (due to still having a marginal made hand), he bet 20,000 and I called. There is no merit to leading the river because the king should be quite good for my opponent’s range and getting raised would be a disaster, especially given my opponent is capable of bluff-raising the river. Even facing his sizable bet, folding would be much too weak. Check-raising the river would be terrible because when he calls my raise, I will almost always be crushed.

He had QDiamond Suit JDiamond Suit for a flush, awarding him the pot and leaving me with 52,000. From there, I lost a few more pots, once with top pair against a set where I again check-called down. Maybe I should stop calling down with one-pair hands!

I eventually dwindled down to 20,000 at 600-1,200 when the player on the button raised to 3,000, the small blind three-bet to 10,500, and I found 9-9 in the big blind. This is an easy all-in against all but the tightest opponents, so I pushed. The small blind called with A-J and I lost the flip.

So, I played for about two hours and lost essentially every hand. When this happens to you realize that there is nothing you can do about it. If you resolve to play incredibly tight, you will blind out, giving you almost no chance of making a deep run. And if you play maniacally, you will get your money in poorly.

All you can do is continue playing your best. Realize that when you play your best and lose, there is nothing to be sad or depressed about. Instead of heading to the nearest bar or gambling your money away at other games, study your hands to ensure you did nothing wrong and move on happily with your life. If you find that you made a mistake, make a point to understand why and resolve to not let it happen again.

It is important to realize that in poker (and many other activities) you will often lose and there is nothing you can do about it. As soon as you accept that and focus on what is under your control you will have a much happier life.

Good luck in your games! ♠

Jonathan LittleJonathan Little is a two-time WPT champion with more than $6 million in tournament winnings. Each week, he posts an educational blog and podcast at JonathanLittlePoker.com, where you can get a FREE poker training video that details five things you must master if you want to win at tournament poker. You can also sign up for his FREE Excelling at No Limit Hold’em webinars at HoldemBook.com/signup.