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Anna Kournikova Does Me In — Again!

April 12, 2009

You can read all the poker books and magazines in the world, and wonder why you’re not yet in the league of Phil Ivey, Chris Ferguson and Johnny Chan. I often wonder the same thing.

Tonight’s misery got me thinking: one good reason all the best reading material never makes me any better is because I never truly apply anything I learn!

Allow me to elaborate. I waited all night for a decent hand to play, when I finally look down to see an AK offsuit staring back at me in early position. I raise 4x the big blind, as is customary at this micro-stakes no limit table. A semi-loose player 2 seats down re-raises close to double my bet, and the BB re-raises to about half my stack. I know he is loose, and probably has an Ax suited or small-medium pocket pair, and smooth call, hoping 2-seats-down will fold. To my horror, the semi-loose player who first raised me now re-raises all-in. BB calls, and it’s up to me to decide. I hate that word, I swear!

By now I figured they both probably had pocket pairs and I was hopelessly behind. But I already had half my stack stuck in the pot and was determined to get something out of the first decent hand I was dealt all night. All-in, I shoved.

Bad mistake.

Semi-loose 2-seats down turns over pocket Kings, and the BB shows me pocket 8 pair. The flop was no help, and I was left with 3 outs to pair my Ace or head for an early night. And early night it was!

I was handily bundled out when the turn and river brought rubbish, and watched as the pocket cowboys took home a huge payload.

I know the theory well. An AK is a drawing hand and slight underdog (49%) to a lowly deuce (2-2) pair in an heads up situation. Against a KK, that narrows down to less than a 33% chance to win, even with AK suited. With such lousy odds, why do I keep calling all-in with AK? It’s the Anna Kournikova factor. Like its namesake, AK looks darn good but never wins! I know that, and yet I give myself a ton of excuses to just throw even more money down the drain. Excuses like: “But i’ve already invested so much into the pot!” and “How long will I have to wait before I get dealt cards as beautiful again?” And if you’re any bit like me, you throw out all you’ve learnt, and follow your “instinct”. You throw caution — and money — to the wind, even though you know you’re probably beat.

Well, I can’t blame luck for refusing to show me an Ace or two on the flop, I only have myself to blame!

Lessons for myself tonight:

1) Never allow my emotions to get the better of me! It’s better to fold preflop when I know I’m probably beat (eg. drawing), than to throw more money to chase a long shot. Half my stack left is better than no stack left at all.

2) Stop and take 5 slow, deep breaths and think again whether it makes sense in the situation to risk a whole stack of chips.

3) Stop, i repeat, STOP thinking a lowly AK is worth throwing in a fortune for! She’s only good to look at, not to hold!

Anna Kournikova

Update: I just got knocked out of the PokerStars weekly second round. I raised preflop with QQ, was re-raised by some loose cannon, and so I re-raised all-in to get rid of him and any lucky pot shots after the flop. He calls, with a Q-3 suited. I thought I had him beat, but the flop brings 2-7-5 rainbow, the turn lands a 6, and he hits jackpot on the river with a 4 for the straight. I am fully tilted. Can someone tell me please: what do we do with these maniacs who raise and call with rags and luck out all the time? It’s killing poker for me!


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