I had a great time in Vegas for my annual trek during the WSOP.   I saw old friends, met new ones, visited some old hang outs, and played plenty of poker.   I played in 7 tournaments during the 2 week stay (really 6 and 1 satellite), with some bitter sweet results.   I made the money in the only WSOP event I played, Event 54, which was the last 1K buy in they held, finishing 170/2883 for $2542.  And I final tabled one… the $125 Friday night tournament at the Orleans, which I hadn’t even intended to play but was coaxed into by a friend who lives there and he felt like a tourney instead of cash that night and we were having dinner in china town at the time so he talked me into it (he made the money in this event as well, busting in 12th).  It’s a pretty nice deep stacked event starting with 12,500 chips.  I ended up 4th/203 for $1400 in that one.   For those of you who like deeper stacked/slower structures for a smaller buy in, I recommend checking this one out the next time you’re in Vegas over a weekend… it starts at 7pm sharp and was 4:30 in the morning when I went out in 4th place, so there is no shortage of play there.  Those 2 events were the “sweet” part of my tournament efforts.  The “bitter” part came in a 3rd tourney and the satellite… I bubbled one of the tournaments, a $365 NLHE Carnival of Poker event, busting out 32nd (paying 27 with 13K on top) when my KK got cracked by the chip leader’s JT all in preflop, for a stack that would have put me comfortably into the money and in a position to compete for a final table run.   And I played in one satellite to the Main Event, a $550 mega-sat.  It had 857 runners or something like that and ended up awarding 40 seats.  So we were down to under 120 according to the players count on the clock (something less than that realistically since they have to update that count manually so it always lags a bit behind), when I got all with AK vs T9 and saw a flop of KTT… if my AK had held there my stack would have been in pretty good shape for a seat to the main event. 


Cash game action was kind of swingy, up and down.  The $2-$5 games at the Aria were absolutely terrible, totally reg and hoodie infested, and Bellagio’s games weren’t much better.  MGM was bad and Rio was ok the night that I played $2-$5 there, but certainly nothing I would class as “great”.  I played a couple $1-$3 sessions as well with friends, those games are always good, populated with the weakest players and tourists virtually anywhere you go.  I also got to meet Sandtrap777 in person for the first time, and played some $1-$3 cash at the Rio with him and JWK24, which was my idea after we’d sat down for a couple beers at one of the bars there.   Not sure how many Sierra Nevada microbrews I ended up having that night, but I remember lots of talking/banter/laughter, a fun table, a high VPIP (K2s is the nuts, just ask John lol), and cashing out about $250 winners from the session. 

The $2-$5 for the most part played much more like a 50nl or 100nl game online most of the time, and yes I was practicing game selection, it just seemed like a ton of grinders and hoodies were in town and playing at the big rooms (go figure).   I’ve never seen so much preflop 3-betting and squeezing in live 2-5 games in my life, as well as light 4-betting.  It made for some swingy spots, and my results were up and down throughout the trip. 

The biggest cash game pot I won came in one of these preflop squeeze spots.   2 new players had just sat down, one of whom I had played with in that $365 NLHE event at the Rio that I bubbled with the KK… I don’t know if he remembered me or not (I assume he did) but I remembered him, he was a younger hoodie type who liked to 3b and squeeze frequently.  His friend who as of similar age and appearance (they were talking like friends when they took their seats) I didn’t know but assumed he would play similarly until I saw different.   So this hand comes up where a really loose fish opens UTG to $20.  It folds to me and I look down at QQ.  Normally I would reraise the loose fish here to isolate him, but I took a different line this time and flatted, specifically because the new guy (and possibly his friend) liked to 3b squeeze (and it was not uncommon at all in these games to see a big 3b squeeze get all folds and take it down immediately).  If no squeeze came, it’s not a disaster, QQ in position and somewhat disguised vs. a loose fish is not a bad result.   The player to my immediate left called as well, and then it was on my friend in the SB.  He checks his hole cards, surveys the situation around the table, then reached for chips that added up to a lot more than $20.   In the end he came out with $100 worth.   The loose fish quickly called the $100, and the action was back on me.   I was playing about $700 and the loose fish covered me.  The squeezer had $500 as that was the max buy in here for this game (Bellagio).  My assessment of the situation was that the loose fish did not have me beat, as I was fairly certain he would reraise with KK+, so the quick call meant 99-JJ, AK, or AQs.  The squeezer can have KK+ of course, but his range was much wider than just this I was certain.  With $245 in the pot already I think the best play is to simply move in now, which is what I did.  If they both fold and I take it down, that’s a fine result.  If the fish calls off with a range of 99-JJ and AK, that’s a fine result as well.  So I felt quite confident in moving in here. 

The squeezer was clearly surprised by this action.  He went into the tank, trying to range me, and clearly not sure what type of hand I would have here to flat/back-raise all in like this.  After about 10-15 seconds I expected he would be folding in the end.  It took him probably close to a full 2 minutes to finally make the decision, and I found myself quite surprised when that decision was to announce “call”.   The fish then says “Ok, let’s go, I call too”, and I’m suddenly finding myself in a 3 way all in preflop pot that is about $1900 with QQ and not totally sure what I’ve just gotten myself into.   In tournaments when players are all in and there’s no more action, all players are required to turn over their hands.  In a cash game though this is not the case, they don’t have to reveal until showdown (and not even then if they are conceding the pot), and as is common in these instances, no one is interested in revealing early.  It always seems like the board is coming out in slow motion in these spots, a trick our senses play on us as if to warn about the impending train wreck that is coming.  The board ran out T639J with no flush… I certainly don’t like the presence of the J, T, or 9 out there, but I do like the fact that neither of them are rushing to table their hands when the dealer says “let’s see it”.  I table my QQ and my squeezing friend grimaces, looks back at his cards, and slowly pushes them in face down.  The fish flips his hand up, AsKs, and I ship a fat pot. 

I’ve thought a lot about the squeezers call here, and I think he must have had a small to medium pair, and put me on squarely AK to make the call.  While I was surprised at the time, in retrospect it makes sense, especially if he remembered me.  He would know that I would 3b pre to isolate the fish with a premium pair (and usually I would of course), but might flat AK in position deeper stacked or smaller pairs here.   Once it’s 3b to $100 I can’t really over-call the fish hoping to hit, but might move in with these holdings (in particular AK) now leveraging some real fold equity to take down a big pot preflop, and in the case of AK, having a hand that does play well enough if called.  So he must have narrowed me to AK, and figured the fish for a lot of AK and AQ combos, which would mean we are sharing outs and a hand like 88 would have a nice overlay.   The grimace upon seeing my holding fits this theory as well, his belief I have AK now squashed and the sting of his hand not being good now felt.  

I’ll spare you from the bad beats, getting stacked, etc stories and leave this trip report on the high notes.  It was an interesting 2 weeks in Vegas, good times and good poker, and even though I came up shorter than I liked in some of the results columns, I lived and I learned and came home happy with my play and decisions at the tables (for the most part).  I look forward to my next visit to Sin city, which may not be until next years WSOP and hopefully will be with a main event seat in hand.