Horse-basketballGrowing up, sports was a staple of my childhood, as often is the case in small town life throughout the Midwest. Many summer days were spent playing basketball with my buds, and on the days when we were too tired to play an actual pickup game, we’d play HORSE for hours on end.

If you’re not familiar with HORSE (in the basketball sense), it’s played with two (sometimes more, but usually two) people. Person A would attempt a shot…any shot, a three pointer, layup, bounce-off-the-cement bank shot, anything goes in this game. If person A made their shot, person B would have to make the same exact shot. Failure to do so gives you an H. Your second fail on different shot gives you an O…and so on.

The first person to fail five times has spelled out the word HORSE, and would be the loser…except for one thing. The final shot must always be “Proven”, meaning the first person has to make the shot again to seal the victory. Of course, if you’re on the losing end of the game, and you miss that final shot, you have to yell “Prove it!!!” to the potential winner in order to invoke the rule.

Event #17 of the 2011 World Series of Poker was my “Prove it!!!” moment. I’ve enjoyed success playing HORSE (the poker variation) online and live, winning tournaments often, and posting a great ROI in the game.

Living in Las Vegas this year affords me the opportunity to play live HORSE tournaments for the first time, and I was a bit nervous when I first started playing the weekly $75 HORSE tourney at the Orleans late last year, but after winning it three times in probably around 10 attempts or so, I was beginning to think that maybe I could play the game well. It’s one thing to consistently win and run deep in $5 and $26 tournaments on Full Tilt, it’s a different ballgame transitioning that into success on actual felt.

June 10th was my day to Prove It…to see if I could play on a bigger stage, with a bigger buy-in and with a bigger field.

Don’t get me wrong, I know one tournament performance doesn’t always tell the story. Its simply too small of a sample size, and given the nature of the game of poker, anything can happen in one tournament, and one tournament isn’t an indicator of a players strength (or weakness for that matter) in the game. So it’s not like I felt that if I failed to finish well I’d have doubts as to my skill in mixed games.

But it certainly felt like I had to prove to myself that I was not only a capable HORSE player, but an exceptional one.

I don’t like to set goals when entering a tournament other than winning, which is why my friends always get on my case when I talk about a second place finish in a tournament like it’s a failure. Is this a bad thing, feeling like anything but a victory is a failure? The answer is different for many people, but if I ever lose that burning desire to win, I’ll stop playing poker. That’s how I’m wired, and if you’re playing poker and not thinking a similar thought, then you’re going to lose money.

So that’s why I’m not completely pleased with a 56/963 finish and a WSOP cash in Event #17. I want more, I want to final table it…I want to win it…Is this unrealistic? Absolutely not, but for now I can sleep at night knowing I’m 1/1 in WSOP cashes.

More to come…