The only thing more important then knowing when to walk away from the table , is knowing when not to sit down in the first place. Some people can play superb poker while shitfaced, for others it is just burning money. Personally, I’m a God player awful when I am tired(even more god awful than normal that is), for others this never seems to bother them, and it never ceases to amaze me how many people in their 70’s and 80’s still play the game night after night and play fucking well. It just goes to show that no matter what mental or physical hurdles are in your way, if you push yourself you can get through them.
With one exception, and that’s when you start playing playing scared. Let’s look at an example from last Friday’s Paddys day 10K tourney, our “hero” Ian Hambone is hold AA and after some preflop raising between Ian and the dashing Birdseye, the flop comes down AKK. Birdseye comes out betting and Ian being the cunning swine that he is just calls. Some blank came on the turn, followed by a bet and call again, the river is another nothing card and Birdseye checks, so you throw out a bet hoping to get paid and to your absolute joy Birdseye raises. Surely any player with a pulse would be giddy with joy, but not our Hamjob, no, maybe for the briefest moment KK would flash through your mind, but if he has that, fuck it, he is getting paid. But Ian sits there, shaking his head, “oh you have the one hand I was afraid of”, he moans, tears welling up in his eyes. Birdseye still has chips behind, re-raise is an option, but no, “I, I, I hate giving you chips more than anything else in the world”, Ian stammers as his shaking hand fumbles the chips he’s trying to count out to call. As a tear rolls down his cheek, “Call” he squeaks with a cracked voice, trembling hands tabling his pocket Aces. To nobody’s surprise, but Ian, Birdseye immediately mucks his cards and Ian breaths a massive sigh of relief as he quickly wipes away a tear, hoping in vain that nobody noticed.
To be honest, it was a sad sight to witness, a man who had one been bright and vibrant, reduced to a trembling, sobbing shadow of his former self. What I couldn’t understand was why he even bothered stacking the chips, in that moment it was over, if he had even a shred of self-respect left he would have just gotten up and shuffled away, leaving the game to the living. But no, like a punch-drunk boxer, he kept plugging away, addled and unsure what was going on around him, until eventually someone put him out of his misery.
God, I hope when my time come to hang it up, I will be able to walk away with a little dignity.