Friday, February 03, 2006

An Aftertaste So Bitter

Wrestled on it’s back
The ego shows its face. – Dark Tranquility

Egoism dictates human relations. – In Flames

By the turn, you have a hand.  Not a great one, but a hand nonetheless.  You’re in early position, you’ve been the aggressor the whole hand, and now you’ve just been raised.

In the back of your mind you’re weighing your options.  You can fold because there’s something in your read that tells you that you’re behind.  Or you can check-call provided your opponent doesn’t make a big bet on the river.  Or you can re-raise because you think the other guy is bluffing.

How do you decide?

Online, you don’t have much other than betting patterns to tell you.  In a live game, perhaps you have some more information and you can use it to improve your read.

After some consideration, you have a strong feeling you’re behind.  Maybe way behind.  Still, you refuse to give up the hand.  Why?

It’s that damn ego getting in the way.  Can someone tell me what else it could be that makes you continue with a hand when you know you’re beat?  Some stubbornness perhaps, but most likely it’s ego.  Literature on hold ‘em everywhere talks about the required aggression needed to win.  Folding is not aggression.  You can’t let the table see you bail out of a hand at the first sign of resistance.  And that raise?  That’s some kind of personal attack on me and I cannot sit idly by.

But folding is not a crime.  I know it brought a bunch of laughs, but the list that Steve Dannenmann’s brought out at the final table of the 2005 WSOP did have one gem:  “Folding to a raise is only a small mistake.”

Letting go of a hand is just as important as getting proper value from your monster hand.  Making a few small mistakes is better than making one giant one.

The ego drama unfolds.

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