My last post discussed a terribly played hand of NL HE at a local NYC club. As I've mentioned, “bad beats” just don't get to me anymore, and I feel fine as soon as I know my money went in correctly and as a favorite. However, I feel awful when I lose a big stack or pot due to my own terrible mistake (or series of them). That's how I felt all night after playing that pot, and even into the next morning as I commuted to work.
I tried to put it out of my mind. I carried out my normal commuting ritual of listening to recorded books on my portable audio player. And, what did I come upon somewhere in Midtown, but the following quote from the Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell:
My motto in any situation is “It could be worse!” “It could be worse!” is how I meet every setback. Though, nothing all that bad has ever happened to me, every time I've ever had my heart broken, or gotten fired or watched an audience member at one of my book signings have a seizure as I stand at the podium trying not to cry, I remind myself: “It could be worse!” In my self-help universe, when things go wrong, I whisper mantras to myself; mantras like “Andersonville”, or “Texas school book depository”.
“Andersonville” is a code-word for “you could be one of the prisoners of war, dying of disease and malnutrition in the worst confederate prison, so just calm down about the movie you wanted to go to being sold out”.
“Texas school book depository” means that having the delivery guy forget the guacamole isn't nearly as bad as being assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald as the blood from your head stains your wife's pink suit.
Though, ever since I went to Salem, I'm keen on “Gallows Hill”. As in, “being stuck in the Boise airport for ten hours, while getting hit on by a divorced man with ‘major financial problems’, on his way to his to his twentieth high school reunion, is irksome but not as dire as swinging by the neck on Salem's Gallows Hill”.
So, if I have gleaned anything useful from reading and day-tripping through the tribulations of the long dead, it's to count my blessings — to try and quit bellyaching — to buck up. Can't you just hear the children's song?
I began to think a lot about how worse it could be. Yes, I know I played the hand that way because my recent legitimate poker losses have left me impatiently looking for a spot to have a big winning session. I probably overplayed my hand because I thought prematurely that this was my moment. I made the classic reading mistake of putting my opponent on the one hand I could beat of many possible hands that fit the betting pattern and tells.
My bankroll sits at near a half of what it was in December, but it is still a full $3,000 more than it was a year ago at this time. I still have enough that I don't need to drop down limits. As Sarah says, “It could be worse!”
As I pondered this, the next track after the quote above started. I was treated to a song by what is probably my favorite band, They Might Be Giants. This wasn't a shuffle accident; I was playing sequentially. TMBG did music for Sarah's audio book. This was They Might Be Giants' rendition of Sarah's “It Could Be Worse!” mantra; their interpretation of the “children's song” she mentioned. (Give a listen.)
So, I'm going to keep those mantras, and this song, in my head at the poker table. I even wrote another stanza of it of my own:
You flopped trips with ten-seven,
And paid off sixes-full.
But, your stack was less than those lost accounts,
in the 80's S&L scandal.
“Gallows Hill”, and “Andersonville”, it could be ...
It could be worse!
My new mantra for bad beats and bad plays: “80's S&L scandal!”!