Any tournament poker player, even Norman Chad, will tell you that in NL holdem tournaments it only takes one small mistake to lose all your chips and be on the rail. I’d love to say that I’ve been playing long enough to recognize possible mistakes and avoid making them, but every tournament I lose I recognize another mistake! A few times they have been big enough for me to complete change a facet of my game.
I remember distinctly losing at a final table of a PL Holdem game at pokerstars.co.uk “when it was me and the big blind left preflop and I decided it was time to push with J5. Looking back that was the dumbest thing I could do. Not only did he have a lot more chips than me, but it was pot limit! Maybe in NL I could have made him lay down his hand to an all in but I was severly limited to my raise, especially since no one else had entered the pot in front of us.
I raised and he called and I was forced to go all in on a flop when I had jack high. He called, he had hit top pair queens, and I was all but dead. I lost that tournament in 7th place and vowed never to do something that dumb again. I had to remind myself that I had a whole round to pick a hand had I let that hand go and could’ve picked a much better spot than there to put my chips in. Damnit, Steve! I’m still mad about that screw up.
More recently I was playing in one of the $22 180-person SNGs on Pokerstars when I was shortstacked and needing to double up. With 60 players left I had 2000 chips, the blinds were 200-400 and the average chip stack was nearing 5k. From the big blind I called a 3x raise with A7 of diamonds. That may have been my first mistake. Then when the flop had two diamonds I decided this was the hand I was committed to, and checked! Looking back I made my biggest mistake right there. My opponent bet 800, I raised all in for 350 more, and he was forced to call with pot odds of over 6-1. He had A9 and was probably surprised to see he was ahead.
I missed my flush and lost. What I should have done was just push right then and there on the flop. I doubt my opponent would have called on that flop with ace-nine high, and if he did I had outs. Instead I decided to only be drawing against a better hand, allowing no fold-equity to take place (the chance that he would fold to my bet). I was so mad at myself after that I stopped playing poker for the night and played pool instead, while watching Phil Ivey kick some ass on TV. Hopefully soon I’ll start minimizing these mistakes and make another big cash again.