Take your poker cue from Jimmy V

March 26, 2012  

Jim Valvano always will be remembered for his quote “Don’t give up; don’t ever give up.” This quote is the motto of the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research, but it’s also meant to inspire us in our actions and mind-set in whatever we do. To be great at tournament poker, you must instill this into your way of thinking.

We’ve all heard some of the “miracle” stories, beginning with Jack Strauss and his “chip and a chair” story, rebounding from one chip to win the World Series of Poker Main Event in 1982.

And there’s Bill Edler in the WPT Gulf Coast Poker Championship, who was down to 2,000 chips in the small blind in the 4K-8K-1K level and 17 players left. He came back to win the tournament.

These are awesome stories we usually just hear about and never have happen to us. Well, I know a little bit about how they feel. A couple of years ago, I played a $150 online tournament lost a huge pot that left me with 75 chips at the 50-100 blind level.

I waited until my big blind, which put me all-in for less than the blind, picked up A-K and more than tripled-up on that hand. A couple of hands later, I doubled-up and eventually was the last player standing, taking down a nice $16,000 payday.

While these stories are inspirational and prove you only need a chip and a chair, there are many more common scenarios that will arise where you just need to stay focused and assess the situation. Let’s say you’re sitting comfortably with 90 big blinds deep in a tournament until you run into a cooler that knocks you down to 30 BBs. Regroup and do a reality check. You still have 30 BBs, which is probably the most common stack size you’ve play in a tournament. Get over the disappointment, and get your mind focused on what you need to do to effectively play that stack. Keep yourself in contention.

On the circuit, I hear lots of stories about rollercoaster runs in tournaments and really awesome comeback stories. My good friend, and proud owner of one of the sharpest poker minds I know, Dave Fox, told me about a WSOPC event where he just finished second.

Several players at the final table, including him, had been down to about seven big blinds late in Day 1, but stayed patient, picked their spots wisely and climbed back into contention.

“Dr. Fox” recommended this column topic because of that tournament. So, if you have a column idea be sure to tweet me @leechilds with any ideas, being sure to mention @anteupmagazine as well and you may be featured here.

Don’t give up; don’t ever give up.

— Lee Childs is a professional poker player and coach. He’s the founder and lead instructor of Acumen Poker and Inside The Minds. Check out his sites at acumenpoker.net and facebook.com/insidetheminds.