Week 1 of My Trip Out West

Hello from California Just Hands Nation! After spending five days grinding hard in Vegas, we arrived in the Palm Desert area last night. We’re now staying at Zach’s grandpa’s (shout out to Pop-Pop for being an awesome host) which is conveniently located just 10 minutes away from the lovely Agua Caliente Casino. I played a short session there last night and was lucky enough to find myself in easily the softest 2-5 NL game in which I’ve played. It honestly felt a little bit like I was in a time machine and was playing in the kind of game that used to run 10-15 years ago. Fortunately, I was able to run well, make some hands, and go to value-town, which helped me book a monster win that brought me into the black for the trip overall.

Vegas Review

Although Vegas didn’t go so well results-wise, I very much enjoyed the experience and am psyched to make my return in about a week. We stayed at the Rio, which was nice as it made it possible to get away from all of the chaos on the strip. I played 2-5 exclusively at a variety of casinos, and just about every game I played in was softer than the games I’ve grown accustomed to at the Jack. Overall, I felt like the games were softest at the Bellagio. The buy-in for 2-5 is capped at 500 while everywhere else I played was $1k+, so it would make sense for the games to be softest at the Bellagio as the smaller buy-in detracts some of the better regs from playing there. It’s also possible that I just ran best in terms of table quality while at the Bellagio.

As for which room I enjoyed playing in the most, game quality aside, I’d definitely have to say the Wynn was my favorite. The poker room has a very elegant classy feel to it. It was comfortable, the lighting was on point, and the overall atmosphere/ player pool was generally quite pleasant. It seemed to draw a wealthier crowd which I think increases the likelihood of running into some kind of rich/ baller mega-whales, although I wasn’t fortunate enough to run into any in my two short sessions. The game also features a $1.5k cap, so stacks were typically deep which is obviously attractive to those of us looking to maximize our skill-edge.

Getting Owned by a Nitty Pro

Game: 2/5 NL at the Wynn, 9-handed

Villain: (1300) UTG+1. Villain is a 25 year old who is likely a professional. I had only played with him for an hour or so, but given his outfit (hoody, hat, sweat pants, back-pack) and the fact that he was doing quite a bit of talking to another professional at the table, I’m fairly confident that he was in fact a pro. He had been playing fairly tight, opening maybe two or three hands in which he basically check/ folded after facing a bet.

Hero: (1100) OTB with 8h9h. Hero is probably viewed as a professional given age and general demeanor at the table. I had been playing a somewhat TAG style mostly due to card-deadness. I had made one significant showdown where I squeezed out of the blinds with KQs and got called by a fish, bet a K22 flop, jammed a K turn and got called and was obviously good.

Preflop: (7) Villain opens to 20, folds to hero who calls, fish calls in SB, weak-tight reg calls in BB.

I think this is a hand that could be 3bet some of the time, but given that there were two weaker players in the blinds I prefer flatting here to increase the likelihood that they call the raise as well.

Flop: (75) Qh6h3d. Checks to villain who bets 50, hero calls, SB folds, BB folds.

I actually think calling is a somewhat big mistake here and would much prefer raising. I have one of the weakest FD’s in my range and theoretically should have some hands that are bluff-raising this flop to balance my value raising range of 66, 33, and possibly AQ (against this particular villain I may not be raising AQ as his range is likely very strong given the nit read). It’s a pretty big victory when I can get folds from better FD’s or Qx’s, both of which are in the blinds’ and villain’s range. If I had a nut FD or 2nd nut FD here, I think calling would be much more viable to ensure that lower FD’s continue so we have a chance to play for stacks when a heart rolls off. Villain’s range here is likely made up of KK+, Qx, FD’s, 66/33, possibly some AK’s, and possibly some backdoor straight and/or flush combos.

Turn: (175) Jx. Villain checks, hero bets 120, villain raises to 350, hero calls.

Had this pro been more aggressive and I felt it was possible for him to have some bluffs here, I think this would be a good candidate to bluff-rip after we’re check/raised. I felt this particular villain was more value-heavy here, however, and thus didn’t think I had much if any fold equity. Once villain check raises, we’re calling 230 to win 645 and thus need about 26% equity to continue without taking implied odds into account. Against a range of QJs, 66, an 33, we have about 23%. It’s also possible villain has a hand like AhKh in his range, although I think it’s somewhat unlikely from this villain, but if he does our equity drops to 22%. Although I don’t think our implied odds to hit a heart are that great, I also don’t think they’re negligible as villain should pay us off at least some small percentage of the time. They’re also much more prevalent when we happen to spike a T, in which case I don’t see villain ever not getting all the money in, assuming he’s as value-heavy as I suspect. Overall, it’s a pretty marginal spot but I’m certainly happy with my decision to call.

River: (875) 2d. Villain checks, hero jams 680, villain snaps… :(

From a balance perspective, I don’t mind my play here. Given the read I had in game, however, I think it was a massive error. It’s just a spot where villain has very few hands that I’m going to be able to get to fold. In game, I convinced myself that villain could have a hand like AhKh, AhTh, or maybe a weirdly played over-pair that might be able to find a fold, but in reality, I just don’t think that’s the case. Villain probably realized that I had a good number of FD’s OTT and the only way to get additional value from those hands OTR is to check to induce. And of course, it worked. I walked right into his trap and shipped him a nice $2k pot after he rolled over the QJs. I actually really like the line he took, so if you’re reading this sir (although I doubt you are), NH and very well played.

That’s all I’ve got for now. For anyone looking for a fun sweat/ +EV investment, be sure to check out my WSOP package on Tasty Stakes here. Any questions can be posted in the comments section below, or e-mailed to me at jonmetzpoker@gmail.com. Thanks for reading, will talk to you all next week. Until then, peace and happy grinding.