Final Table Takedown: Joey Weissman Breaks Down Win At BetMGM Poker Championship

Joey Weissman has been making a living playing poker live and online since 2008, having caught the poker bug from watching his grandfather drag pots at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. He originally worked at the family business, and then as a salesman, before deciding to try poker as his career.

The Long Island, New York native’s biggest score came back in 2012 when he took down the $2,500 buy-in no-limit hold’em event at the World Series of Poker for his first bracelet and $694,609.

After the pandemic, Weissman had a big score at the Wynn, finishing runner-up in the $1,600 no-limit hold’em Spring Classic for $230,090. Later that summer, he won the $10,000 buy-in no-limit event at the U.S. Poker Open for another $204,000.

This year has been just as successful. In June, he final tabled the $3,000 buy-in no-limit event at the WSOP. Then later that month Weissman topped a field of 343 in the inaugural BetMGM Poker Classic at Aria, taking home the third largest score of his career of $224,236. He even made a royal flush at the table to knock out one of his opponents.

“This is the stuff we wake up for,” Weissman told PokerNews after the victory. “Every day we wake up, most of the time we lose. As my good buddy [Patrick Leonard] says, ‘You wake up, you suffer, you go to sleep, you wake up, you suffer, you do it again.’ This is the day you wake up for, though. Some days you win.”

Weissman now has $4.4 million in career earnings. He feels grateful for the opportunity to play high-stakes tournament poker and lives by the philosophy that happiness comes from healthy competition, following your passion, and focusing on self-improvement.

Card Player caught up with Weissman, just before his deep run in the $10,000 buy-in WSOP main event, to get his thoughts on some hands from his win at Aria.

Event: 2022 BetMGM Aria Poker Classic
Buy-In: $3,500
Entrants: 343
Prize Pool: $1,097,600
First Place Prize: $224,236

Stacks: Joey Weissman – 2,000,000 (100 BB) Isaac Kempton – 1,600,000 (80 BB)
Blinds: 10,000-20,000 with a 20,000 big blind ante
Players: 9
Players Remaining: 18

Isaac Kempton opened from the hijack to 40,000. Weissman raised to 160,000 from the small blind holding QClub Suit 10Club Suit.

Craig Tapscott: What was the table dynamic at the time?

Joey Weissman: I covered, but we are both top three in chips at the table.

Kempton called.
Flop: 9Diamond Suit 8Club Suit 4Spade Suit (pot: 360,000)
Weissman bet 225,000.

CT: What was your thinking with that bet sizing?

JW: I continuation bet 60 percent pot targeting K-Q, K-J, A-J, and A-Q type hands that dominate us and might call versus a small bet, but may become indifferent versus a larger size. It helped that we had the backdoor clubs for added equity.

Kempton called.

JW: When he called I began to remove some of those combos from his range.

Turn: QHeart Suit (pot: 810,000)

CT: It was a good turn for you. Did you choose to continue to barrel?

JW: It gave us top pair. We could choose to continue value betting although it feels somewhat thin given the ICM, but reasonable. It could have easily been the best hand. I considered it, but chose to…

Weissman checked.

JW: This allowed him to start bluffing draws like 5-6 suited, 6-7 suited, maybe 10-7 suited or 7-8 suited. And if he had K-10 suited, K-J suited, A-J suited, A-7 suited with a backdoor it’s conceivable he may start to bluff those on the turn sometimes. And A-4 suited, 4-5 suited came to mind as well, all well within his range.

CT: Did you have a read on his playing style?

JW: Isaac is a special player who I know loves to pressure his opponents, so giving him rope felt like a good idea at the time.

Kempton bet 200,000. Weissman called.

JW: We just called, keeping these hands I reeled off in the pot.

River: KSpade Suit (pot: 1,210,000)

CT: That hits some of the many possible hands you had put him on. Now what?

JW: True. The K-10 suited, K-J suited get there versus me, but he still had the straight draws that missed, some other unpaired combos or even 4x and 8x that he might have thought can’t win on the river, so maybe he wants to bluff them.

Weissman checked, and Kempton shoved all-in.

JW: He did shove. Although I took this line with the intent to bluff catch, it still felt necessary for me to take some extra time to review. I wanted to study him a bit, and give myself a chance to get away if I actually convinced myself he was strong. Not because of overthinking the spot, but rather if I could pick up on something physical.
It was a huge decision. I used a few time banks but decided I didn’t want to use my last one, and I eventually…

Weissman called. Kempton flipped over 6Diamond Suit 5Diamond Suit, and Weissman won the pot of 3,240,000.

CT: Nice call.

JW: Thanks. That was an amazing feeling.

Stacks: Joey Weissman – 5,000,000 (83 BB) Noel Rodriguez – 3,000,000 (50 BB)
Blinds: 30,000-60,000 with a 60,000 big blind ante
Players Remaining: 6

Rodriguez opened from UTG to 130,000. Weissman called from the big blind holding KDiamond Suit 9Heart Suit.

CT: Did you consider raising in this spot short-handed?

JW: Yes. I did. I would consider using this hand as a three-bet bluff sometimes, but ultimately felt it was a bit too weak and peeled instead.

Joey WeissmanCT: What’s your take on Rodriguez?

JW: At this point in the tournament, Noel and I have been playing a fair bit versus each other, a three-bet pot here and there, but nothing where a ton of chips have gone in the middle. I viewed him as having an online background, and he knew how to apply pressure well. But I also was keeping in mind that this is currently his largest score to date, in live poker at least. 

Flop: JHeart Suit 5Diamond Suit 8Heart Suit (pot: 350,000)
Weissman checked. Rodriguez checked.

CT: Were you surpised he didn’t c-bet?

JW: In non-ICM situations I would expect this to be a board that would get continuation bet at a very high frequency, something like 80 percent of the time. However, given he is up against a player that covers him in an ICM scenario, I expected him to play a touch more passive. And he did, by checking back the flop.

Turn: 9Diamond Suit (pot: 350,000)

CT: This seemed like a very interesting turn.

JW: Yes. This is quite a dynamic turn card, bringing a double flush draw, and giving me second pair. Now I have a decision. I know I want to either bet something like one-third pot or check. We just needed to figure out what is optimal versus his range and with a 30-second shot clock no less.

And for me, not a super easy decision, especially given his flop check range is not a normal flop check. It’s a flop check in an ICM situation. That would imply he has a bit more J-x than average here, and something like 10-10 more often, heart combos, and even A-A potentially sometimes.

CT: Thanks for sharing your thought process in this spot. It’s really one of the first times a player has articulated this type of check-back ICM scenario in one of our hand breakdowns.

JW: Well I like to ask myself questions in game. This does work better without a shot clock. I tried my best to think it through. “If we bet, what do we accomplish?”

We charge draws like 10-x and Q-x, as well as some diamond/heart combos that may have checked flop sometimes. We get a bit of value from A-5 suited type hands as well as 6-6 and 7-7. I’d expect these hands to check the flop a very high percentage of the time.

CT: So the plan is to bet out now?

JW: Yes. That way we get to choose our bet size as opposed to playing defensively and facing say a two-thirds pot bet if we would have checked.

CT: And if he raised?

JW: I didn’t think I would get raised very often. The Q-10 raises sure, but I assume that hand would have bet flop a good portion of the time. Also 9-9 might raise, but there is only one combo, and I would have expected two pair combos like J-9 suited or 8-9 suited to just call when I lead out. While 5-5, 8-8, and J-J bet flop almost always.

CT: And if you had chosen to check behind?

JW: If I had checked, I also give him the option of playing passively while realizing all of his equity for free, especially with a K-Q, A-Q, A-10 type hand. I’m not necessarily strongly opposed to a check here. I just felt that betting small actually simplified the process for me in a sense, and that to me actually has a lot of value.

Weissman bet 150,000. Rodriguez called.
River: AHeart Suit (pot: 650,000)

CT: You can’t have been too happy to see the ace.

JW: This felt like a bit of a disaster to me. If he has A-10, A-Q, A-K, A-8 suited, A-5 suited or any combination of hearts, we lose. And I actually expected him to have these combos quite often too. My hand can’t value bet, and bluffing without a premium blocker like the KHeart Suit just felt too out of line.

Weissman checked.

JW: I checked with the plan to reevaluate if he bet, depending on the sizing and feel. He didn’t take too long before he announced…

Rodriguez bet 245,000.

JW: That was a bet just over 40 percent of pot.

CT: What did you make of the sizing?

JW: For a moment, I was a bit thrown off by the sizing choice. People do things for a variety of reasons, but I couldn’t help but feel like announcing a specific number like 245,000, just felt odd. Why not just bet 250,000?

CT: So you went back to asking questions to figure it out.

JW: Yes. After dismissing that thought, I analyzed where his bluff combos were coming from. I quickly acknowledged K-Q and recognized that the king in my hand does not bode well for bluff catching, since it reduced his combos of K-Q from 16 to 12. K-10 suited is another one, I don’t think he opened K-10 offsuit preflop, so now there were three combos instead of four. He could have been bluffing 6-6, 7-7 sometimes, and maybe a hand like K-6 suited or K-7 suited.

I just started to run out of potential bluff combos fairly quickly, even given the price he was laying me. I came to a relatively quick decision that the hand was simply a fold and not to start to overthink it, or dive into my time banks.

Weissman folded, and Rodriguez won the pot of 650,000.

JW: I was happy with the decision. I later found out on the stream that he had KSpade Suit QSpade Suit as a bluff combo. It was a well played hand by him.

Follow Joey on Twitter @JoeyWeissman.