The Pot of a Lifetime

Back when I was writing poker articles for magazines, I started about 5 articles for every one I finished. Many of them never grew any longer than a title and an idea. Others I worked on for months, on and off, but they never passed the larval stage. Then there were some, like the article below, that I completed, only to find out that there wasn’t much to say. They came out as dwarf articles, just the kind of thing that would be great for blogging. Except blogs didn’t exist back then. Thank goodness for data storage!

From 2001:

The Pot of a Lifetime

Here’s some twisted thinking that appeals to me on an emotional/romantic level.

I try like heck to operate entirely from cash on hand. By ‘operate’ I mean everything – buy-ins, rent, food, travel, concerts, everything.

When my cash runs out, I have to dig into reserves, and I hate hate hate that. My fear of digging creates an illusionary, arbitrary break point, or rather, broke point: when I won’t actually be broke, but I convince myself that I will be. My mental dance motivates me to take necessary measures – tighten up my game, cut back on frolicky expenditures, pray to the poker gods, even drop down in limit sometimes – whatever it takes, to avoid digging into my reserves.

It so happens I’ve currently gone a year or two without having to reload from the reserves. That is the definition of “success” in my wacky world.

A few weeks ago I was down to $1,300. Danger danger! I sat down to play $20-40 limit hold’em and I bought in for the whole $1,300 (2.6 racks). If I went bust this session, I’d have to dig. A few hours later, I was down to my last $130, planning to finish out the current lap and quit on my next big blind because I was too shortstacked already. I’d be pretty much giving away my last nub if I kept playing. I’ve seen others do it a million times, and I’ve done it plenty too. Looks like tomorrow I’ll be at the bank, reloading. Oh well, so it goes.

I folded the next few hands, and when it was my big blind, I thought, man, I’ve got a firm policy against going all-in at limit, but I sure don’t want to go to the bank, so maybe I’ll get lucky and turn my molehill into a mountain. I folded both blinds before the flop, so now I had $100 left when I picked up king-six suited on the button and five people limped, so I did too. I flopped a flush draw and I was all-in on the turn and bingo, I hit my flush on the river.

Ten hours later, I cashed out $2,000. After that I ran good for a while and now my operational cash is back up to $10,000 or so, and this morning, it occurred to me…

What if I never have to dig into my current reserves again? That would mean I had lived the rest of my life off that last $100. That K6 hand could turn out to be the pot of a lifetime.