A Festivus Poker Story

The holidays for me, have always started in October. Halloween is the mark of the beginning of two months of showing gratitude and joy for the smaller things in life. This year felt slightly different. My social circle had grown. Life was starting to feel like it had some resemblance to what I knew before I moved. I wasn’t looking to make the holidays special or anything like that. To be honest I was ready to put 2022 behind me and continue into 2023.

After spending a night handing out candy to children who had been chauffeured by an adult, Halloween was over. We spent the following week preparing for our annual trip to Lake Tahoe. A few poker sessions were played, one was short, one was ended sooner than I planned, and the rest were online. Before I knew it, we were thinking about what the menu for Thanksgiving would consist of. We decided to forego tradition and make ham instead of turkey along with Nicaraguan style tamale. A gluttonous amount of food was made, so much that even our fridge had to let loose its belt. Lots of food was shared with friends and family. Many drinks were poured. Still, we could barely finish it all and our meals consisted of leftovers for a week.

As I looked forward to eating normal meals again, I started to see Christmas decorations appear. My wife was on a rampage. Putting up the trademark ladder with Santas climbing up to nowhere. The door jingled every time someone entered our home. The Christmas tree, stuffed with ornaments, candy canes, garland, and lights had been assembled. All this eventually led to the question that I get asked every year, “What would you like for Christmas?” A question I never actually know how to respond to. If I could ask for anything it would be related to the current state of how things have been going for me in poker. A change for the positive instead of the negative number that I manage to achieve.

I was starting to feel the holiday spirit as Christmas approached! I was looking forward to seeing my little one open his gifts. I had done my duty as a father and a husband. I put in a helping hand with some of the Christmas decorations. I had made sure to get gifts for my family. I shared what I had with my friends and tried to spread the holiday joy! I could tell my poker game was improving. Maybe I could have a positive month! But was I going to get what I wanted?

On this last night before Christmas eve, before our families would arrive to spend time with us and partake in more food and drinks. I went out to smoke a cigar that had been given to me. My wife asked if I would also be playing poker; something I had not thought about until that moment. So many of my sessions had been spent playing online that live poker almost seemed like a foreign concept. At first, I didn’t think I would play but as I thought about it more, I thought I was due for a decent win. I had been diligent in my studies and sharpened my skills. There was no reason why I couldn’t play and have the great session I deserved. My mind was changed and as I headed out, I decided that I would play. After I finished my cigar, I went to get a seat at a game. There was nothing special about the game I joined. A few short stacks, odd opening sizes were used, and lots of checking. This game should be easy and a few hours later, I had run up my stack close to 150 big blinds.

It was getting late, and I had started to think about calling it a night. As I sat there folding and waiting for that moment when I would rack up my chips, I found a hand that I could play. By the time my turn came there were already multiple limpers and so I decided to limp along too. Not because my hand was speculative but because I wanted to control the size of the pot should someone want to raise behind me. The player next to act raised it and before it was my turn again there were 3 callers. How could I fold when I was getting a price of 4 to 1 on a call? The flop gifted me top pair and gutter to a straight. The board I thought was very favorable for me and as the action checked around, I decided I would check-raise. I checked, the original preflop raiser made a pot sized continuation bet, and one by one, players folded. My turn again; I put in a raise just as I had planned. My opponent squirmed in his seat as he contemplated his options. There was a chance that I could win the pot! Instead, he found a reason to call and matched the amount of chips I had raised. I had made my play and now leverage had been met. There was nothing else I could do, or so I thought… The turn card came down demoting my top pair to second pair. I put in the rest of my chips. My opponent snap called. I knew that the turn card had connected with my opponent. I needed my one time! This river card is all I wanted for the holidays to end my year on a good note! The dealer’s fist pounded the felt two times. The burn card was discarded from the deck. The river card was dealt but it changed nothing; the poker gods did not grant my holiday wish. My opponent asked if I had the straight. I shook my head no in response as he proudly showed his trips as if he had conquered a mountain climb. It was in that moment as I watched my session go down in flames, I knew there would be no official Red Ryder Carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle for me.

There was no hope for me. I accepted my fate and knew that if I wanted to continue playing poker, I could not dwell on this. All I could do now is continue to work on my game off the felt and try to apply it to the game on the felt. I work hard so that my studies will have a fruitful outcome, but poker doesn’t care how hard you work. Poker doesn’t care how many hours you put into a solver. The cards are dealt and if you respect the flow of the game then maybe you could win a hand or two or three. No one is entitled to win in poker. Yes, you can improve your skill and have an edge over your opponents. Yes, you can identify someone who lacks the understanding of the complexities of the game. Yes, you can be a better poker player! But at the end of the day, it’s the cards that decide your fate and with every winner the must be a loser.

Bizzy’s 2022 Gains: -$4083.70

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