by Ashley Adams
You’re going to make them, these mistakes at the table. You’re going to make them, so you should figure out how you’re going to deal with them when you make them. Why am I so sure that you’ll make mistakes at the poker table? Because I make them. Recently I made a colossal one. It could have ruined my game for the night. That it didn’t is the product of having learned to deal with mistakes like this over the many years that I’ve been playing poker. Here’s what happened.
I was in a relatively soft $1 - $2 no limit game at Foxwoods. Everyone was friendly and most were laughing much of the time. Players were generally tight. So my new style of being loose and aggressive was working—building pots, or letting others build them, and then stealing them with aggressive play on the flop and turn.
I was enjoying myself, as my stack had grown by about $300 since I had sat down an hour or two earlier. A new player, Chris, sat down on my left. He was a fairly tight aggressive player. I wasn’t terribly keen on having him on my left. I’d rather have a chance to see what he was going to do before I decided to enter a hand. Nevertheless, a hand developed between us. I was dealt pocket 8s in early position. I raised to $15 in this $1 -$2 game. Chris called me as did a player a couple of seats to my right. The flop was 79T. With my open-ended straight draw I bet $30 into the $45 pot. Chris called; the other player folded. The turn was an 8, giving me trips, but opening up all sorts of straights for my opponent. I tried to get a read on him, but could not. He had about $200 left. I figured that a $100 bet might make him release any draw—but that if he had the straight he’d come over the top and I could safely fold without putting in another $100. I figured that if I checked he might well bet as a bluff, but I wouldn’t know where I stood. I bet $100.
Say what you want about my play; here’s where I made my huge mistake. So focused was I on the moment, I actually focused myself into thinking that it was the river, even though there were only four cards on the board—and it was obviously the turn. Nevertheless, thinking that it was the river and that he had called me down, I turned my hand face up, revealing my trip 8s. The dealer said, “He’s not all in sir”. I was enormously embarrassed, turned my cards face down, and waited for the river. It was a 2. I checked. My opponent Chris bet the rest of his stack—exactly $101. Could he have been bluffing me, after seeing my hand? Did he know he had me beat? I decided that I had to call him, getting 4 to 1 on my call. He turned over a pair of tens for trips, beating my trip eights. Alas.
So I committed a huge mistake that even a brand new player wouldn’t do. I showed my hole cards on the turn. Me, a poker writer, radio show host, and professional poker player. By all accounts I should melt into the table and leave right away to avoid my shame. But I didn’t.
It would have been easy for me to do one of two things. I could have gone on tilt—humiliated as I could have been by my huge whopper of an error. Or I could have left, my tail between my legs, unable to face the derision of the other players. But this was a great game—and I wanted to profit from it. As it turned out, I mocked myself, laughed it off, took all of the grief and good-natured ribbing from the other players, and stuck around in what was a great game. Had I left, I wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of their bad play and my tarnished image. I wouldn’t have won the $800 that I won as the evening progressed. As it turned out, though I committed an embarrassing blunder, I avoided the bigger error of going on tilt or leaving a profitable game.
Ashley Adams is the author of Winning No Limit Hold’em and Winning 7-card Stud, both available at Amazon.com. He is also the host of the popular poker radio show, House of Cards. For listening times and stations, to get a podcast of the show, or to check out the blog, go to www.houseofcardsradio.com. You can email Ashley firstname.lastname@example.org.