Day 6 – Thursday 7/10 Having not gone to sleep until close to 6 AM, I sleep until about 1 before getting up. After getting some much needed exercise, taking a shower, and grabbing a bite to eat at the Courtyard Café, I called up Hector as we’re supposed to get together tonight. He says he’ll swing by in about an hour, and I fill him in on the night before at the Wynn. So when he picks me up we decide to go to the Wynn again check out that game. Again there’s 2 Omaha/8 games with the second being a short handed must move. I take a seat and Hector, who would rather play hold’em, takes a seat while waiting for a $9-$18 or $20-$40 hold’em game to go (both have an interest list with no game running, it was pretty slow for a Thursday so far but still early). The game is ok but not nearly as good as the night before. I’m barely above even after a while and Hector is taking it on the chin with bad rivers and picks up after about an hour to venture into the pit (his leak lol). After a while he tells me the pit was equally rude to him and he’s done playing for the night, plus he has to work early in the morning, so he’s going home. After a couple hours I get moved into the main game, and it’s much worse than the night before. The only familiar face from last night is the young Canadian pro. This time the game is much tougher… there’s a couple loose cabooses but they dispense with their chips relatively quickly and leave a game full of solid players 5-7 handed the rest of the night. In every days Vegas trip report I’ve tried to include some poker strategy for you. This one doesn’t include any funky hands or analysis of a play. The strategy advice here is to practice game selection. I’ve often said that game selection is one of the most under used tools by successful poker players, and true to my words I myself failed to practice it on this night. This game was barely tolerable with the couple loose players splashing around, but once they left it was nothing more than a tank full of sharks. While I enjoy sharpening the saw against tough competition from time to time, it’s really a poor way to make money. There’s no excuse for sitting in the game at this point… with 2 loose weak players feeding the game the good players get plenty of competition vs. other savvy opponents while still maintaining an edge over “the field” as a whole. Once they go though, I think none of us had much edge over any one else, which if true means the house wins while we pass money around. I was not running good, and as a result passed more money than I received. But it’s my own fault for not practicing what I preach and finding a better game. Proof positive that even winning players, and sometimes even those who teach others, make mistakes at the felt. And this one to me was a pretty basic mistake… shame on me. In the final day’s trip report I’m going to share another mistake I made, this one on a hand I played really, really poorly (yes, I still do that too sometimes lol… anyone who tells you they don’t ever misplay a hand or make any mistakes is either delusional or a liar… usually self deluding though). I finish the session down $600, which is my day total. Trip +$100. Day 7 - Friday 7/11 This was my last day in Vegas, flying back on the last flight out for the evening on Southwest at 7:45. I set my alarm to get up in the late morning so I have time to get showered up, pack my stuff, and get checked out of the room. I get all that accomplished by 12:30 and drop my bags with the bell desk, then head over to the poker room. I’m hungry and there’s a long line for the café, so over to the poker room and I get a $5 comp off my players card, then head back to the café now being able to stand in the much shorter “comp line”. While at the poker room I put my name on the lists. She asks me for what game, and I said “all games except $2-$4 limit”. So after my late breakfast I head back over and wait to get into a game. There’s a $4-$8 omaha game that’s starting and they call me for a seat so I take that and play for a bit. The game is pretty good with a bunch of older locals who all know each other and for the most part all play weak tight (weke-tite as game_face would say for emphasis). But I’m not playing very well, I’m playing too many hands and not really focused on the game because my preference was to play some NL on this day. So when a new $2-$5 blind game opens up, I take it. The game is pretty good with a few solid players, a couple loose stations, and a loose-aggressive player who favors big over bets post flop. He’s the kind that’s easy to trap but alas I didn’t get an opportunity. He did exhibit a pattern in his betting where he’d bet large with top pair or better and bet smaller with weaker hands, and I was able to use this read to take a pot off him about an hour into the session. He opened to $15 and I called in position with 8c7c along with 2 others. The flop came A45 rainbow, the first 2 players checked, and he bet $25 into the $60 pot. I was pretty sure based on what I observed that this was the classic “I raised pre and have to auto continuation bet the flop or I’ll look weak, but I really don’t like my hand” bet. I opted to flat call the $25 rather than raise though, because the other 2 players might just have been checking to the raiser, and I needed to find out if they had anything before moving on this pot. They were both pretty straight forward players, and I was pleased to see them both muck leaving us heads up. The turn came out another 5, and again he made a weak lead at it of $50 into the $110 pot. I did a little deliberation as if contemplating how much to raise (and I was in fact contemplating how much he’d expect me to raise if I held AK or better here), counted out the $50, then pulled out another $100 stack and moved the $150 in. He grinned, saying “I knew it” and tossed his hand without hesitation. Nice read, sir. ;-) So on to the hand I played poorly, which was much later in the session. An aggressive player (not the same one as above, he was long gone) opens from middle position for $20 on a deep stack, gets a call from a loose player in late position, and the SB. I’m playing about $500 at this point, and both the loose player and raiser have me covered. The SB, who is an off duty dealer, is playing a stack of about $250. He sat with a short buy in of $200, was ground down to $125 or so mostly blinding off and folding flops, he was playing pretty tight. He won an all in hand with a big pair to get to $250. I look down at Tc9c and call $15 more from the BB, pretty standard implied odds call with a nice suited connector. The flop comes down Js7c3s. The SB and I both check, and the aggressive player bets $40 into the $80 pot. The loose player mucked, but the tight player called. I decided to peel one off for $40, getting now 4-1 immediate odds and figuring I had good implied odds vs. the deep stacked aggressive player if I hit my disguised gutter. The turn came off a very pretty 8d, giving me the nuts. The SB checked and I checked to the aggressive player, planning to spring a big check-raise on him and perhaps trap the SB in the middle if he called. But the aggressive player failed to do my bidding and checked behind me. The river was a disaster, the 9s. Even worse, the tight player now bet out $75 into the $200 pot. This guy just wasn’t bluffing, I figured I’m tied at best. I make the crying call and the aggressive player folds. True enough, the SB shows me a king high flush and takes it down. So how badly did I play this hand? Pretty bad actually, I was really kicking myself for making some fundamental mistakes. Let’s go back over it. First of all preflop is perfectly fine and standard. In fact if you’re not calling this preflop on deep money, it’s a leak (shallow money folding OOP is definitely correct for the raise, as hands like T9s derive much of their value from situations that arise only in deep money, namely implied odds situations and leverage situations). On the flop my play is suspect. Leading out with a gut shot to make a play on this pot is too risky, with an aggressive player having shown strength preflop and a loose player calling. Was check-calling, the line I took, ok? I’m looking strictly to peel an 8, which I’m about 11-1 to do on the turn. I was getting 4-1 odds right now, and can win $440 more from the aggressive big stack if I hit and get him in, so my implied odds are 440-40 or an additional 11-1, giving me a total of 15-1 with the money already in there. Of course I won’t always stack him, but I do have the SB still involved who might add equity, so it seems close. What was I forgetting though? The SB is a tight, conservative player and he’s still calling this flop. Chances are he’s got a big hand, or a draw. And it’s probably a flush draw if that’s the case. Which means I don’t really have 4 outs to make my hand, I only have 3 that are clean and 1 that’s dirty, the flush card. With 3 clean outs that puts me at 14.7-1 against improving, which is just too close to the 15-1 estimated implied odds (I would need to stack the bigger guy virtually every time I peel my 8 to break even essentially). So calling in this situation was a leak, all be it a small one EV wise. What about check-raising the turn, power poker yo? Not really attractive. A check-raise to about $140 should do the trick vs Mr. Aggressive if he’s got big cards that missed, but if he’s got an overpair or hit the jack, he wasn’t throwing away. And then there’s the tight SB who called. If he’s slowplaying a set it’s a disaster for my check-raise. If he’s on a flush draw, he’ll be getting 3-1 immediate odds (assuming the big stack folds), plus be short enough that he figures to get the rest if he hits, so it may not be enough for him to feel priced out. Especially if he’s got overs since he can give some measure of value to hitting those as well. So in short, a semi-bluff raise would seem to have little chance to get through both players here unless I make it so big that it will shut out any and all draws, but that will be roughly half my remaining stack to get the job done, and if I run into a hand I only have 4 outs. That’s living on the edge for sure. Ultimately my best play on the flop was just to fold the hand probably, and next best was call as it provides the lowest variance for my longshot draw (hit and win a big pot, miss and fold a smallish investment). If I had more fold equity to leverage a raise could have been a better play, but in this situation it just wasn’t there. Now on the turn, I hit bingo! Checking this turn card is simply awful poker. First of all, I do not know that the aggressive player will bet again. He wasn’t a dummy, he saw that he got called by the rock of gibralter in the SB and no doubt put him on what I did, a big hand or a draw. If he’s got AA/KK he might bet again to “protect” it, but he’s not betting all his airballs, and he might even check big pairs behind for pot control (to avoid exactly what I was planning, getting check raised and being put to the test to play for stacks with just 1 pair). So the risk of a free river card is very real here. Second, I have the stone cold nuts and obviously don’t mind playing a big pot now. Therefore I need money to be going in on the turn. The free card isn’t just a disaster because it might catch someone up to me, but also because it means no money goes in on this round. How am I going to stack someone without getting their money in the middle? LOL This is related to some deep money principles I teach in my NL Cash Games Phase 1 class, and those of you reading this who have taken it (and many others I’m sure) caught this as soon as I checked the turn. I have no excuse, this was just a slip up by me. What I should have done is make a healthy lead at the pot… there was $200 in there, I like about $140 here (roughly 2/3rds of the pot). This will deny drawing odds to the SB if he’s drawing, as well as open the betting for him if he was trapping with a set. Likewise if the aggressive player has a premium pair or flopped to his hand and calls me, there’d then be $480 in the pot (assuming the SB folds after the other player calls, leaving us heads up) and I’ll only have $300 behind left to bet, so my river all in will be tough for him to get away from as he'll be getting very attractive pot odds of 780-300 (2.6-1) for a solid made hand. The river call is also suspect. I think it was a mini-tilt call at realizing how awful I had just donked up the turn. I know it’s only $75 into a pot of $200, so I’m getting 275-75 or 3.7-1, but really that’s not what I’m getting. I just knew there was no way this guy was bluffing. The best case scenario here was that I was tied with another jack high straight. Or he’s got the Q high straight (not likely) or the flush (very likely). He’s just not betting a set into a 4 straight + 3 flush board and 2 opponents, so he’s got to have me beat here mostly. So I was really calling $75 to win $100, a split of the pot, which is 1.3-1. I have to tie this pot almost 43% of the time to beat breaking even (In 100 trials, I’d get $100 back 43 times for $4300, and lose my $75 bet the other 57% or 57 times for -$4275, a net profit of $25 over 100 trials or .25c per trial, essentially break even). Will I split at least 43% of the time here? Not on your life. I estimate I’d be lucky to split about 15% of the time here at best. Yes, he was that conservative a player. I thought he would probably check-call even the same straight as me, in the face of the possible flush coming home (but there was hope his bet was a blocking bet so he didn’t have to pay off his stack, but not much hope IMHO). So yes, everyone makes mistakes at the tables and that goes for me too of course. I hope by sharing it some of the readers will learn from it and make less of these mistakes themselves. I ended the session down about $400, and the trip total was a negative $300. Over all, even though it was the first time I’ve been back to Vegas since moving away that I didn’t book a win, I felt lucky to come away with this result. I really ran bad on this trip, and as you saw compounded the problem with some poor decisions on the felt. It could have been much worse though, if it weren’t for the worst group of Omaha/8 players in the world assembling for me at the Wynn on Wednesday night. That’s it, I hope you enjoyed my trip report and learned some things too along the way. Until next time….