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03/20/2005: What U Gon' Do

how much gamble is a bad gamble? said another way, what is the lowest percentage that you are willing to risk for losing? fifty percent? thirty percent? twenty percent?

i guess i should qualify this and say that it of course matters whether we are talking cash games or tournaments. cash games, when you go broke, you go home or rebuy; tournaments, when you go broke, you are out. so of course, i would expect many people to say that the percentage they are willing to accept is much higher for tournaments than cash games, and that is true for me too.

yesterday, just screwing around after i had closed the shop and while i was waiting for all the dogs to do their dirty business outside, i joined a ring game on Full Tilt, a $.50/$1 no-limit game. i bought in for all that i had deposited, a little north of $30. it didn't take long for me to be in the big blind and be presented with suited connectors, 10 9. i got to see the flop for 2xBB, so i am playing for a $2. the flop comes 4 J 2: hmmm - so i am first to act and i am four-to-the-flush (plus, should god smile on me, i have a possible draw to a straight.) number outs? 9. rough percentage = 36% chance of winning. so if i have properly read my two opponents, the flush will be the winner. i am first to act and i check and i want a free card, which of course i know i am not going to see. the pot is $6.50 and the player to my left raises the pot, making it $13. the player to his left re-raises $24, making it $37. well now, what's the story morning-glory? obviously we have an over-pair, kings or queens maybe, versus maybe AJ or J10? and here is my quandry: do i put all my dough in for a chance that 1 out of 3 times i will win? i still got the turn and river to come? do i gamble with the implied odds?

the answer is yes, i did gamble. with the pot at $37 and one to still act behind me, i put my remaining $27 into the pot, making it $64. by the end of betting, headed to the turn, the pot is a little north of $90. i have put close to $30 in it, meaning i should have a hand that is better than 33% to win and i barely do. was this smart? was it prudent? was it close?

truth be told, it seemed loose to me, but pot odds are tough to escape. i missed both the turn and river and we saw the original raiser turn over the nuts, trip jacks; the re-raiser had the Gabor sisters.

while i would never do this in a tournament (or at least i hope i wouldn't) it was such a close percentage for me to play (36% to win versus 33% in betting odds) that i accepted the risk. looking back i think this is an area where i could develop more control. the goal in poker is to make money more often than not and if you play too many hands where you will only win one in three, you are not going to win more than lose. while it was fun to gamble, successful players will limit plays like these. sometimes i feel like i don't limit them enough. you live and you learn?

today is Sunday, so that means the Northside tourney is at 4PM. another chance to redeem myself and make some good plays. today i am going to rebuy straight off at the beginning. why? my hope is that i will be able to overcome the psychological problem of looking down and seeing so few chips while it feels like the blinds are rising so fast. this is just a perception problem i have, but i want to see if maybe today i can counteract it and help calm myself into waiting for the hands i want to play, to get my money in when i have the best of it.

we'll see!


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