Follow Just Hands contributor Jon Metz as he documents the beginnings of his career as a professional poker player.
I’ve put in a lot of work into my tournament game over the last month or two and I feel ready to crush at this year’s WSOP. I’ve watched a ton of training videos, both on tournament theory and actual game play, as well as reviewed a handful of past WSOP final tables. I think I have gained a pretty solid understanding of ICM and other tournament nuisances like adjusting to shallower play and short-stacked Nash shoving/calling ranges.
I guess the moral of the story is don’t play at the Bellagio if you don’t have to. Fortunately for me, as bad as I ran off the felt I was able to run pretty well in game to the point where I now feel I’m well rolled enough for some deeper stacked 2-5 NL as opposed to the Bellagio’s $500 cap game. Hopefully I won’t have to return to there when I venture back out west in a few weeks.
Given our read on the turn and the fact that jamming here only needs to work about 71% of the time to be profitable, I honestly think jamming any two cards as an exploit against this specific opponent is going to be printing money. My exact hand is also one of my best bluffing candidates, as I hold blockers to villain’s most likely 5x and 3x hands, which are what he’s representing when he goes for the 2.5x pot bet here (I think over pairs would likely elect to choose a smaller sizing).
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 accustom 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.
We have a pretty nice range advantage on this runout as we can have AA and QQ and our opponent cannot. We can represent some flushes as well, as we’d be taking this line with some of our weaker flushes. We also believe villain is capped at Ax given his check back on the turn. Furthermore, we block our opponent from having the nut flush and AK, giving us even more of a reason to put him to the test with his Ax type hands.
I played for a total of 55 hours this week, smashing my old PR by over 10 hours. My degenning was not something that was really planned, but more a result of finding myself in a handful of dream games that I just couldn’t part myself with until the guys giving their money away were gone. My ability to play longer sessions and not quit when the game is great is something I’ve definitely improved upon since I first started playing. I used to just put in my 7-9 hours and call it quits almost regardless of the quality of the game. The reality of the situation is, however, that these dream games rarely assemble in Cleveland (especially at the 2-5+ levels) and when they do, I shouldn’t really ever be leaving them (assuming I’m playing my A-game or close to it).
I feel pretty guilty not having put in much volume at all over the last two weeks, almost as if I’m taking advantage of the fact that I’m living at home and thus have little to no worry about living expenses. If I were living on my own, there’s just no way I could afford to take as much time off as I have been. All that said, it was very nice to spend some quality time with my girlfriend and my motivation to get back on the grind is definitely sky-high.
This seems somewhat straightforward to me. I tend to over cbet paired boards for exploitative reasons and given the equity I have with my gutshot and BDFD, and the fact that I rarely expect to get bluffed off my equity (i.e. if I get check-raised, it’s almost always for value), I’m cbetting in this spot 100% (against these specific villains). I used the smallish sizing because I’m c-betting so frequently. When villain calls, he can have some Jx (some would check-raise, and JT+ likely would have raised preflop), a lot of Tx, and a ton of FD’s and SD’s.
He was throwing insults at me left and right. He was making fun of me for not being able to grow a beard, asking me about what kind of hair product I used (I don’t use any FWIW), calling me gay and insinuating that I’d hit on him, and lots of other BS needles. While I was definitely needling him back, I wasn’t insulted in the least, and was actually blatantly laughing in this dudes face.
When villain raised, I was honestly very confused. I really just didn’t (and still don’t) see what hands he’s credibly repping. At the time, I thought AA/KK/AQ were basically the only value hands he could have here (AA/KK somewhat discounted as they’d often bet OTF). In hindsight, 35s may also be possible. However, I think at least some of the time villain would flat with those hands in order to induce a second barrel from me on the river.
This was the first time tilt clouded my judgement enough to cause me to make an error I’d seldom make while playing my A or B games. Fortunately, I was able to recognize that I was way off my game and picked up my remaining chips directly after this hand and called it a day. I was (and still am) pretty disappointed in myself for making such a spewy play, but I will say that writing this post and thinking it all through has helped a bit.
The bottom-line, however, is that poker is basically my only source of income and thus I should be looking to maximize my EV in every session. If that means moving from a 2-5 game in which half the table are pros to a 1-3 game in which no one else at the table has a clue as to what’s going on, then so be it. There’s no shame in playing smaller as long as I think it’s the more profitable route to take, and I need to stay conscious of that.
Before I’m berated for considering making a pretty massive hero call with just TPGK, hear me out. While I do have a decent number of stronger hands in my range that I can call with here (TT, QTs, some QJ/44/66), I actually think KQ may be my best candidate to use as a bluff-catcher. This is because I believe Villain is basically polarized to either a straight or air when he takes this line, and KQ is pretty much the only hand I can have that blocks some of his straight combos.
The hand I want to talk about this week occurred in a 2-5 game towards the end of a 9 hour session that I had been playing while somewhat sleep deprived. I made a pretty bad play here on the river and would like to think that had I been better rested, I wouldn’t have played the hand the way I did.
The hand I want to talk about this week occurred in a 1-3-6 game at the Jack. The game started at as a 1-3 game, but turned into a 1-3-6 after I suggested to the whole table that we throw on a mandatory straddle. I actually suggest this a good amount of the time but it rarely ends up amounting to anything. It happened to work out in this case though because there were a few 2-5 regs at the table with me who really wanted to play bigger and peer-pressured the nits who wanted to keep the game small. To all the readers out there, I highly recommend trying to get a mandatory straddle going, assuming you feel like you have an edge at the table. Recreational players rarely adjust correctly to the straddle and it can make the games you’re playing in far more profitable when you’re able to get the table to agree on it.
The 2-5 games at the Jack have been thriving over the last week. I believe a game has gotten off for at least 6 of the last 7 days, and of the games I played, I only felt 1 of them was less profitable to play than the average 1-3 game. One of the games over the weekend had an absolute dream line-up consisting of 2-3 serious/ thinking recreational players, 1 aggro fish, a couple weaker recreational players, and a mega whale. The mega whale had this move he referred to as “going dark” which basically meant he would play the hand without looking at his whole cards until the river unless he faced a bet large enough where he felt he compelled to view his cards. Once his stack was under 60ish BB’s he would start shoving in the dark until he either doubled up or went busto. It was pretty hilarious to watch, and obviously great for the game.
When I’m playing 2-5, I feel like I have to pay attention to every single hand and every decision my opponents make, both because I want to get a better idea of my opponents’ strategies’ and because I feel as though the opportunity cost of missing out vital information can be quite high, especially relative to this cost at 1-3. While this is obviously true, it’s no excuse for not giving 100% of my attention (or close to it) to any game I’m playing in regardless of the stakes or quality of my opponents.
This was a pretty tough and weird spot. We’re calling 295 to win 680 so we need about 30% equity for this to be a profitable call. I think V can have 7x here in the form of 67 and 78 type hands as well as 7xdd, but ultimately decided that V was unlikely to just snap shove such strong hands without really putting in any thought. I think as a general rule these kinds of snap shoves vs recreational players tend to be bluff-heavy. I also thought hands like 55 and 44 were somewhat unlikely as V would likely have check/raised or led out at some point prior to the river in fear of being drawn out on (obviously not necessarily correct thinking, at least not for that reason, but I think rec players generally fear being sucked out and would raise/ lead for protection as well as value).
I prepared for the tournament in a multitude of ways. First, I fired up training videos both on RunItOnce and UpSwing and sharpened my understanding of what my preflop ranges should look like and learned about ICM, of which I really had no prior knowledge. I developed a sort of pre-game plan to try to play the early levels somewhat conservatively to instill a tighter image upon myself and then to really open up and play a lot more aggressively once the blinds were larger and antes began. I then tried to get some actual tournament experience by playing a few micro tourneys on Ignition. I felt these tournaments would be decent for getting a feel for playing less deep and also thought the fields would be pretty similar in skill to the one I was planning to play.
Straddling is not something I had ever done up to this point (unless a whole table was down for a round of straddles) but in this particular scenario, I thought it would be less -EV than straddling normally is, and kind of fun too. I had a total whale two seats to my right so I was looking to do anything I could to play more/ bigger pots with her, and by straddling I could accomplish both of those things.
Although my decision was wrong in this particular instance, I was happy with myself for not playing scared poker like I did when I was in a similar position last week. Overall, I’m fairly confident that making this call will yield tons of EV in the long run and I don’t plan on letting the results of it affect my decision making in the future.
I’m very unhappy with this line of thinking, however. In poker, we should always be focused on making the most +EV decisions and not let the fear of losing a massive pot some smallish percentage of the time affect the lines we take.
With all of the holiday festivities and friends that were in town, I took a bit of a break from poker this week. I only put in about 20 hours at the tables, and 2-3 hours of studying. My studying for the week consisted mostly of the PLO stuff I mentioned in last week’s post which you can read here, as well as some NLH training videos from a variety of training/ coaching sites.
To boost my motivation, win-rate, and to mitigate the boredom that’s arising from the 1-3 grind, I’ve decided that it’s time for me to begin learning Pot-Limit Omaha. If you’ve read any of Jack’s articles on his transition to PLO, I’m sure you’re well aware that it is by far the most profitable game that’s regularly spread at the Jack.
The lineup in this game was made up of a massive whale with deep pockets who refused to have less than $1k (the max buy-in) on the table, 2-3 loose passive stations, a smart 30 year old businessman who was at least semi-competent but seemed to like to gamble a little too much, and 1-2 nits. To some of you, this might sound like a typical 2-5 game, but I assure you that is not the case at The Jack.
Poker is an easy game when you can cooler somebody for 200 BB’s. The other 2-5 session did not go so well. I lost a little over $1,000, getting semi-coolered with AK on a k-high board and then running into the tops of a couple players’ ranges when bluffing.