This past weekend I traveled to Las Vegas with several friends for few days of poker and fun. AdamD went with us to play in the World Series of Poker because he had won our local club’s qualifier tournament, and he decided to play in event #28, the $1,500 No Limit Hold Em event that started on Saturday. Additionally, some of us wanted to play in the $550 buy in Venetian Deep Stack tournament on Saturday afternoon.
The trip started well enough with several of us going over to the Rio to get AdamD signed up for the WSOP event, then had dinner at the Rio. We also took a tour around the WSOP tournament area, and I got to see many of my poker heroes playing right in front of me. At one point I was watching Phil Helmuth making a spectacle of himself, and nearly backed in to Humberto Brenes, who was playing at another table right behind me. I also got to watch Daniel Negreanu playing Omaha, listen to Greg Raymer whine about a bad beat to a friend on his cell phone (he said he called the guy even though he knew he had pocket Aces, so I don’t see how it was a bad beat), and was nearly run over by Doyle Brunson as he drove down the hallway on his scooter.
AdamD and I then rolled into the Venetian poker room on Thursday night, playing cash games. I was playing solidly enough, and had built up a solid chip stack by 3 AM. Then one of my co-travelers decided it was time for him to sit at my table, and compete directly against me. I will never understand this decision. Why would you plan a trip, get on an airplane, travel 1,000 miles away…..just to play poker against a guy that you play with three to four times a week back home? And not only did he sit at my table; he sat directly to my left, and started challenging me by raising my blinds and reraising my raises. Needless to say, I am still a little upset about his decision. I laid down several premium hands because I did not want to do battle with a friend.
Then the hand of the night happened. Well, to be honest, the hand of the morning, since it happened at 6 AM. I called a small raise with 9-10 suited. The flop came 2-8-J, and the original raiser put in another small raise. I figured he had an overpair to the board, so I called. The turn then came a beautiful queen. There’s the nut straight for me, and the original raiser fired again. I thought for about 30 seconds, and then pushed enough into the middle to put him all in (around $185). Well, he tanked for about 2 minutes before finally making the call. Now I knew he had tripped up, so all I was hoping for was that there was no pairing of the board on the final hand. And wouldn’t you know it….another Queen. And what did my mighty adversary have in his hand? The other two Queens, of course. Oh well, I didn’t mind losing that hand. My co-travelers play directly against me? An entirely different story.
On Friday, I played more cash games in the Venetian poker room, and then went out to dinner with friends for an amazing steak at the Capital Grille. If you ever get a shot at one of their Kona coffee crusted sirloins, I highly recommend you sink your teeth into it. It was amazing. Then, back to the Rio for more poker. Without my friend at the table, my results were much better, and I ended the session several hundred dollars up. Then I trucked over to the blackjack table, and played some Spanish 21 while drinking multiple Jaeger Bombs.
Saturday brought the $550 Venetian Deep Stack event for me, while AdamD rolled over to the Rio for the WSOP. I was rolling fine in the event, and had tripled up in chips, when something hit me that wasn’t right. Turns out something I ate during the day didn’t settle well, and I was hit hard with some food poisoning. Within an hour I figured out I either had to bust out of the tournament or bust out all over the table. I took the sissy route, shoved all in with A-K, and got taken out by the chip leader with his pocket Aces. If I had doubled, I figured I could go upstairs and recover while my chips blinded off. But I was more than willing to get knocked out, because I was really sick at that point.
I slept 11 hours on Sunday, and woke to hear from AdamD that he had played well in the WSOP, and was only 30 or so away from the money to start Sunday. We then decided to walk the strip collecting $1 chips from various casinos, get some breakfast, and head over to the Rio for his 2PM restart. Everything went as planned, and I got to stand right behind AdamD at his table as he played his way into cashing in his very first WSOP event. Nearly 3,000 people started the event, and fewer than 300 cashed, so this was an incredible accomplishment. AdamD eventually busted out in 119th place, which put him in the top 5% of all the players. A major congrats go out to him.
Once AdamD was in the money, I decided to head back to the Venetian to play in the Sunday Night Second Chance $120 buy in event. Again, I played well, and made the top 30 of over 200 players, but my cashing was not meant to be. I was down to 14,000 chips in the big blind, when a chip leader shoved all in ahead of me and I had A-K. I figured he had a pair, but I was in no position to fold a premium hand like that. My call forced him to turn over pocket 2’s, but turns out they were good enough and I was out. All wasn’t lost though because another friend traveling with us played into the top 6, eventually chopping for $2,500. Nice profit on a $120 buy in.
From there it was back into the cash room, and more profit for me. I cashed out nearly $300 profit before Steve finished in his Second Chance event, so my losses in the two tournaments were wiped out. (In fact, they were wiped out early in the day when I won over $500 on a 25 cent slot machine, but that doesn’t count towards my poker funds).
Then on Monday, I woke up early and had an hour to kill before I had to depart for the airport to return home. What does one do in Vegas when he has time to kill? For me, the answer is more poker. I went into the poker room, bought in for $300, and decided to shoot for a double up before getting into a taxi. I was not reaching my goal for the first 55 minutes, but everything changed in that final five. One player had been berating the other players about their terrible play for the entire hour. He kept raising preflop, and talked bad to anyone who dared call him. I decided to simply fold until I had a hand to play back. That hand turned out to be another A-K. (Notice the theme here?). I flat called his raise with my A-K, and the flop was A-7-3. I had him and I knew it. He bet $25 on the flop, and I flat called again. He checked the turn, so I checked too. He then bet $75 on the river, and again, I flat called. He immediately threw his cards into the muck, and said “You’ve got me with whatever you’ve got”. I then showed him my A-K, and got another verbal assault about my poor play. I laughed and said “Poor enough to get $100 out of you”.
Well, this turned into another lecture from him, and one which I was tired of hearing. So I did something I’m well known for, and turned on my inner jerk. I pulled $20 out of my pocket, and said the following:
“I have to be on a plane in two hours, and I’ll bet you this twenty that I’m on that plane with the rest of the chips you have in front of you”.
Well, he took the bet, and the game was on…..for another minute. You see, the very next hand I was big blind, he was small blind and steaming, and I had A-A. He raised, as I knew he would, and I simply called. The flop was A-K-4, and when he bet out, I was certain he had A-K. I immediately shoved all in, knowing there was no chance of him folding. And he immediately called.
When the river didn’t help him, I grabbed a chip rack and started loading in chips. I looked over at him and said “Wow, I’m even gonna have time to stop for coffee”, and went on my way listening to the rest of the table, including the dealer, laugh. Well, the rest of the table not including my target. He had already left the casino through the back entrance.
And with that, our weekend Vegas adventure ended.
What is the lowest hand you can hold that can possibly be the absolute nuts after the flop, turn and river have been dealt?
Trip Queens is the lowest hand you can have that can be the absolute nuts. If you have Q-Q, and the board is Q-10-7-4-2, there is no chance that anyone had a higher hand than you. If you have J-J, and the board is anything, you can be beat. For example, J-10-7-4-2 means your opponent can have 8-9 for a straight. J-9-6-4-2 means they could have 3-5 for a straight.
So always look at the board, and make sure you are holding the nuts, before you make moves against players that are standing up to you. If you don’t have them, there’s a chance they do.
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