You’re playing that tournament and the hands you see are, at the best, off suit 3-gappers. Hand after hand after hand is 9/5, 7/3, J/4 and maybe a K/3 UTG. Then the UTG (a solid player) makes a min raise which is 2-bet from UTG+1 (who’s the tightest rock of a player you’ve ever seen). It folds to you in the hijack position (2 to the right of the button) and you look down at K/Q suited. Your heart momentarily flutters. “Ahh, FINALLY a decent hand,” you say to yourself. “I haven’t had a good hand in days – I’ve got to play this.” That’s a big mistake. You should fold – yet again – and wait for a hand or good situation – yet again.
Today we live in an age of instant gratification. We can get instant credit, search the web for instant answers and much more. We have little patience for anything that takes time. The average attention span for an adult is about 20 minutes (can you say 30-minute sit com). That’s bad if you’re a poker player. What you should do is to try and follow the example of St. Monica – the patron Saint of Patience. Years (and I mean years) of prayer, coupled with a strong, well-disciplined internal character, finally led her to convince her husband and son (later to become St. Augustine) to become pious.
Recently, I have been reminded of the value of patience several times when it comes to poker. A couple weeks back I was watching a friend of mine play a 45 person SNG on FullTilt. These pay out the top six. He made the final table (9 players) as the short stack with 7 or 8 times the BB left. He folded. He folded again. He kept folding until he was down to 3 or 4 times the BB when he went all in and doubled up. He went back to folding – living up to his home league nickname “Blind Me Down”. He got down to 5 BBs, moved all in and doubled up again. He got into the money. Some more folding took place before another double up (with about 7 BBs) and a card rush propelled him to full victory (and the hefty first place prize for this was no $2.25 tourney).
Later that week I was in the bar poker league I play in. We reached final table (8 players) and I had 4BBs left. I folded and folded and folded. I was able to double up (plus a little extra) once and steal blinds once but pretty much kept folding. I got a little lucky when the big stacks decided to start to take each other on with 5 people left. Next thing I knew (in literally 6 or 7 hands) I was heads up with the chip leader. I was in terrible shape with only about 10% of the chips (about 10K in chips to 110K) and finished in second after two hands of heads up play. But, even in free bar poker, 2nd tends to pay something – 7th or 8th doesn’t. I didn’t needlessly push or call and was rewarded, just as Blind Me Down got rewarded.
An additional two or three clear examples of the value of patience happened to me or others I was observing since then. It’s happened often enough that it seemed like a good time to write about the importance of patience and to reiterate the gem that ancient Greek poet Hesiod wrote: “If you add a little to a little, and then do it again, soon that little shall be much.” Or, in poker parlance – a few double ups puts you back into the game. You are never forced to call (or push). And, sometimes, even when the “math” is right or you’ve FINALLY gotten a hand after being “card-dead” since Air Supply was HOT, your knowledge of the game screams at you to exercise patience (i.e. – “I’m beat, fold and wait”) or, at least it should (see the example I led off with at the top).
Saint Augustine learned well from his mother (St. Monica) and wrote that: “Patience is the companion of wisdom.” I hope this post reminds you of that truth.
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