Bad Play Is What Makes Poker Profitable – But Sometimes They Suck Out; Get Over It

I was playing $2/$3/$5 at Casino M8TRIX last night. There was a live $10, two callers and the cutoff raised to $55. I called with AQ in the small blind and one of the callers called as well. There was $185 in the pot for a flop of A106ssc. I checked, the initial caller bet $125 and both the initial raiser and myself called. Now there was $560 in the pot for a Qc turn. The pot was about the size of my stack and I shoved All In. The first player thought for a minute before folding. The cut off – the initial raiser – thought for a long time so I knew I was good. He would have snap called with KJ, AA, 1010 or 66 – the only four hands that could beat me. I put him on a pair and a flush draw, AK or AJ. After a long time he called and said “If you have two pair, you’re good”. The river was the Js – however – and he flipped over AK for a straight and scooped the $1500 pot.

This happens all the time in poker: Your opponent makes a bad call and gets lucky. In this case he had only 7 outs (3 Kings and 4 Jacks). I had an 86% probability of winning the hand. But this is exactly the kind of thing you want. I could have tried to talk him out of making the call but why would I do that? These are exactly the spots you want to get all the money in. Why did my opponent call? One pair is almost never good in his spot. If I had 1010, 66 or A10 I probably would’ve raised the flop which means that KJ and AQ are my most likely holdings. Somehow he must have talked himself into thinking I had a pair and a draw and his AK was good. In reality I’m always check calling with those hands. There is nothing in my range when I shove for that amount in that spot that AK can beat. Against me he is literally never good.

If this kind of things tilts you’re not thinking correctly about poker. Because – like I said – you want your opponents to make these calls. You want to get the money in 84%/16%. If they played good and always folded these spots – which the better players will – the game would be far less profitable for you in the long run. And 16% is 16%: One out of six times a K or J is going to come. That’s the game. Once you understand all this, you simply collect yourself, smile inside that your opponents play bad, and move on. That is The Way, The Tao of Poker.

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