Originally published on the Full Tilt Blog.
On Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip there is a devout Christian character who is a comedienne on the sketch show which is the eponymous subject of the series. On last night’s show, she was describing her Mother’s faith to a feature reporter played by Christine Lahti. Her mother had endured a series of crippling events that had left her very ill and seemingly on death’s door. When asked why she didn’t complain to God about her problems and ask why such bad things were happening to a presumably devoted servant, the Mother replied, “I didn’t ask ‘Why Me?’ when things were going well, so I won’t ask ‘Why Me?’ when things are going badly.” (paraphrased)
One of the biggest stumbling blocks I observe in MTT play is the attitude that every player gets occasionally and the poor (MTT) players get habitually. The obsession on losing hands that should have won from a math standpoint is a fruitless endeavor. When their Aces or Kings are cracked for seemingly the fifth time in a row, a player can reasonably be expected to ask of Poque, “Why Me?” The good player reviews his play and position and that of his lucky opponent to make sure he played his monster correctly. Once satisfied with their own play, they can then move on to the next hand or tournament with undiminished confidence. A poor player will ignore the factors of the play other than the relative hand strengths and focus on berating the other player for daring to suck out. This attitude can easily lead to playing premium hands incorrectly in anticipation of getting beat. Of course, this may lead to even worse beats as opponents are more correct to play against our incorrectly played hands.
I am not immune to this at all. For six months on Full Tilt, it felt as though I got knocked out of every tournament with a big hand and as a 4-1 favorite when the chips went in. It got to the point I quit playing the 20K guaranteed due to the frustration I was feeling. It was not so much, “Why Me?” but more like “What the Fuck are you doing calling with that crap?!!” I continued to study my little poker books and kept up a better pace on other sites while occasionally playing on FT until I finally broke through with a third place finish in the 20K. All of a sudden, I was a genius again.
To get that third, and the first in the 40K, and the third last night, and to every final table I have ever made though, I have had to get lucky a lot. Everyone has seen the math of getting in the pot as a big favorite (4-1 or better is the example I will stick with here) multiple times in a tournament. Simply put, get in five times at 4/1 and you are probably going to lose once. If it happens to occur the first time you get in there, you are out of the tournament with your magical Aces and bad attitude. Now, try to recall all those times you have gone in with AK versus TT or 99 versus AK where you are not a big favorite or may be an underdog even. In MTTs, you will have to stick your neck on the line with these hands in every tournament and hope you hold up or catch up.
Instead of asking “Why Me?” every time you suffer a bad beat, look back on all the times your big pairs have held up and how many times your coin flips have come down on your side and remember you weren’t asking “Why Me?” then. Instead, you were pumping your fist and saying “Hell yeah. That’s what SHOULD happen.” The fact is, and you all know it is true, it should also happen that big cards get beat on occasion through no fault of their player. That is what keeps the less talented player around that provides the buy ins required to sustain the scene. If a bad play always led to a loss, there would soon be no bad plays. And none of us want that, do we?
Make your play based on the information you have at your disposal. If it turns out to be wrong, try to learn how to do it better. If it turned out to be right and you lose anyway I would encourage you to pump your fist anyway. “Hell yeah! I played that right and got beat by a donkey. Next time shall be different donkey. Next time.” Do this enough and you will get closer and closer to the final table and the big win. Pretty soon, you may be asking, “Why NOT Me?”