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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

New Hobbies Never Suck!

Greetings my poker (mostly) friends. It's been quite a year so far. We saw the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history last month...or the greatest choke job, depending upon your point of view and who you root for (or against). We've seen the most controversial president in the history of our nation slog through his first 100 days with a wholly divided nation hinging on every action and every word that comes out of the White House. 




We saw an Academy Awards end with a Steve Harvey-esque conclusion...throwing chaos into an event that was already being watched closely by the Conservatives...as they waited for another Liberal Hollywood personality use their pulpit as a place to preach politics. Chet...the older brother in 'Weird Science' who couldn't cut Wyatt and Gary a break in their pursuit of building the perfect woman (and at that time, Kelly Le Brock WAS the perfect woman) just passed away. We had a lot of famous people die last year...and in fairness, most of them had reached their end naturally. But Bill Paxson...only 61? All these actors and musicians who I grew up with in my childhood, dropping left and right...has put a whole new perspective on my own mortality. 




On February 16th, I hit the half century mark. Ask me twenty years ago if I considered 50 to be old...and I would have enthusiastically replied, "Hell yeah it is!!!" Then you get to 50...and things really change. Little changes in your subconscious...you don't see yourself as being old. Even looking in the mirror, you still see that guy you saw in High School and College. It's not until you go to Dollar General and that little acne-faced teenager addresses you as "Sir" that you even feel a little bit older. Funny thing...when I was younger...much younger, I wasn't one of those asshole kids who made fun of old people. And I think that it was mainly due to my grandfather who passed away when I was about 15. Before he died, we had some of the greatest chats. He taught me so much about life, and about people, and shared so many experiences with me of his amazing life. I took a lot of what he said to heart...and have tried to live the fullest life I possibly can. I've traveled the world. I've dabbled in numerous career fields. I think I can safely say, I left it all out on the field! And whenever I encounter someone I consider elderly...I'm left wondering to myself, "Hmm...I wonder if they are happy with the life they've led? I wonder if they have regrets? Things they wished they'd done? 

We get older...and friends and family members die. The older we get...the more frequent it gets. It gets harder and harder to process. But then....I wonder...do we just get numb to it? Does it become such a regular thing that it doesn't phase us after awhile? Do we just wait for our turn to arrive? And while we are getting older and older...we have these little jerkoffs...they are currently called 'The Millennials' in most circles, who think they know SO much...and have such little regard for anyone outside of their generation. 




They will be replaced by my daughter's generation...no telling what they will be called. And so it goes....on and on and on some more. Ask me when I was 10, "Do you think America is an old country?" And I would have reacted by saying "Oh yeah! Really old! 200 years!!!" But then you live 50 years...and it all seems to go by so fast...and you realize...damn! 50 years is but 25% the age of our nation!  (older now, of course) So no...I think our country is nothing but an infant. Isn't that weird? This...what you have just read? Is what I would call one of my classic sidebars! Now back to my originally intended blog post! 

Shall we talk a little about poker? Especially considering this is a poker blog on a poker website? Sure...why not. I also assume there are a handful of people checking in periodically to see if I am taking on comers for this coming summer's team of grinders...to venture out to the desert in pursuit of millions. Well...I will, indeed be getting that ball in motion soon...very soon. Let me just say...I have about two or three people in mind for this year's team already...if, of course, they are equally interested in being on the team. As for all others? The process...is that I take applications...with (hopefully) an impressive cover letter. And one thing that I would impress upon potential applicants? Have some impressive scores on your resume. Try to keep in mind...its not just ME who is investing. In fact, I am but a mere partial investor. I just happen to be the choreographer of the whole shebang. So, while I may very much be impressed with your skills at the poker table...remember that there will always be 100-125 people who I must convince that this person I have chosen is legitimately qualified to take our $10,000 and make a run deep into the most famous poker tournament on the planet. Because when I select someone? And they fall on their face? Guess who gets second-guessed and criticized? Yup! This guy!!!!

All interested/potential candidates should email me at ThePokerMonkey1@aol.com for consideration.

How have I been running? Well...first I drove over to New Orleans...then drove a little longer. Got lost a couple times...but eventually found my way to Boomtown, who was running a semi-big tourney for the folks from Heartland Poker Tour. It was a good field, and had a good structure. I had only committed to firing one bullet, and wasn't all that excited about it....because their Day 2 would be played on Super Bowl Sunday...and they didn't have any kind of set up to be able to watch the game from the tournament area. It was also situated in a very poor location, smack dab in the middle of the slot area. So it was noisy as hell, and smoky as a mother. I'd been warned about the smoke by others...so picked up some surgical masks on my way over there. 




I made the dinner break...and that was the highlight...because, while the service at Pier 41 was dreadful....just lousy....the food coming out of the kitchen was amazing. I sat at the bar and feasted on a ribeye steak that was incredible. Then I returned to the tourney and busted....don't even know when. But I didn't bag, so what does it matter? The following day...having returned to Biloxi, I posted on my Facebook that I'd been fantasizing about that steak all day and would happily pay someone to bring me the same exact meal I had enjoyed the night before. Well, no sooner did I post that, than Charlie Gelvin messaged me that he'd take me up on my offer. I was like...."Whoa, what?? Really!??? Okay!!!" And about two hours later I was sitting at my kitchen table eating that same meal and drinking one of my better bottles of Pinot Noir! Bliss!!!



Know what I forgot? I forgot that after busting the Main there...I made my way to their poker room...just to see if it was as much of a joke as I'd heard it was. To my surprise...there was a big 1-2 game going. Yes...I said 'A big 1-2 game going.' I know, some of you are snickering! Well...by the time I got into the game...bought up to the biggest stack ($1800) and played for about an hour...there had to be $15-$20k on that table. We had railbirds...probably 10-15 just sweating this game. It was nuts. Completely nuts. Had I caught even a couple of breaks, and had even a few hands hold up as they should have...I would most likely have cruised out of there with about a $3500-$4000 profit. Instead...I lost $2700. So...a nice little -$3800 road trip. Ugh. 

Next up on the poker agenda...was a trip to West Palm...aka Palm Beach Kennel Club. I flew down this time, instead of driving. And for the first time, I became a UBER user...which I was more or less impressed with. The one hiccup being the day I got a Cuban lady who spoke NO English at all and took me on a ridiculous maze-like adventure all over South Florida! If you follow me on Facebook...you might have enjoyed that exciting adventure! Well, I also decided to treat myself...since it was the week of my BIG FIVE OH...and booked myself at PGA National Country Club in Palm Gardens. It was incredible. Maybe not exactly worth what I paid for it...but it was peak season...and they did have the Honda Classic coming in the next week, so it was a very electric environment. While I was there I got a chance to play three rounds of golf and loved every second of it. Before I went down there...I got with a local golf pro to work on some of the holes in my game...mainly with my irons, and seemed to have worked through the major issues. Thank god...because the last thing I wanted to do was embarrass myself in such good 'golf company.' Turns out I played fairly well...well enough at least to convince my playing partners that I knew what I was doing!

The day I flew in, I got to the hotel, checked in, and returned to the Kennel Club to play that day's Omaha 8 or Better tourney. Getting there late was probably a good thing. I got deep...and then ran like crap. I don't remember exactly, but I think I busted about 15 from the money. I was just in time to hop into the 4pm Turbo tourney...and got deep in that one too....but busted 8 from the money in that one. Sigh.......

The next day I played the 6-max at noon...a tourney I've never cashed in my career. I've been close many many times...but never a single cash. Well...that ended, finally. 188 played...and I busted 11th...just missing the final table...but happy to finally have a 6-max cash on my resume. The only downside to that day...was that the 4pm tourney was an 8-max...which seemed to me to be the PERFECT tourney! The ideal amount of leg and elbow room...and not too speedy or geared for super-aggro players. So I didn't get to play that. 

That was the extent of my tourney play that week. I took the rest of the week off to focus on R&R at my resort and playing golf. On Thursday night...I went with Tim Burt to where he was staying, the Hard Rock...and played some cash game. It was my birthday...and it would only stand to reason that I would run like a....well, actually, I didn't really RUN GOOD....I just had all my hands hold up. And got paid off on them. I bought in for $300...and in only about 2 hours...cashed out with $2450. A very nice little session! Earlier that night...Tim and I had dinner in my hotel lobby...and they were having a big benefit raffle. We both bought a good amount of tickets, and I ended up winning the Grand Prize...which was a 3-day/3-night stay at PGA National along with golf for two on the Champions course ($420 value per round!). I don't think I've ever won a raffle in my life before that!  So yeah...my birthday was somewhat memorable!!!


I came home from South Florida...and got together with my best friend...who I've decided to enter into with as partners on a bar and restaurant in St Thomas, Virgin Islands. As we sat eating sushi, I forked over the second LARGE certified check in the last calendar year (the first being for our house!) for a major purchase/investment. I used to own a bar in Atlanta with, ahem...SIX other guys...big mistake, and I said I would never do a bar venture with multiple partners again. That bar was incredibly popular and successful...and I've always kind of missed that business. Well, my friend is the ONLY person I would EVER be partners with in this kind of thing again...and he's done an amazing job securing the location, the lease, and all the other components necessary to get a place like that opened. We look to open the place in about a month. So I will most likely be taking some trips down to St Thomas in the coming year. Hopefully I don't lose my shirt! But I feel good about it overall, and think we will be really successful! 

Finally...last week, I decided to play the Beau's Friday $130 tourney...my first tourney there (not counting the Million Dollar Heater) since I'd had my five-year ban lifted in January. It got a decent turnout of 54 players. The nice thing about playing a little hundred dollar tourney...is that there is very little that can happen that is going to get me irritated. So early in the game...when I was losing to some of the shittiest hands...I just bit my tongue and laughed. To myself, of course. Overall...it was a nice day of poker. And after my hands started holding up...I started building a pretty nice stack. It was only paying 9...and when we went from 34 down to 17 all of a sudden..I started thinking how nice it would be to win my first weekly tourney since I returned. But I've been in those spots so many times...and every time you start thinking you have a pretty good shot to win....something almost always seems to derail your plans! So I just kept waiting for it to happen.

We combined at 10 players...and they all started chirping about taking $15 out of pocket to pay the bubble. Well, I am now...at this stage in my poker career, heavily ANTI chop. And I don't give a crap about the bubble...whether its me, or someone else. I mean...seriously? Is that $150 really going to change your life that much? Luckily, there was another guy at the table who said 'No' so I didn't have to be the lone voice of dissent. Which was nice...I hate being the bad guy if I don't have to be. 

So we played on. Eventually we lost that 10th person. Then we got down to 6...I was still 1st or 2nd in chips. They started up with the chop talk again. I politely declined. They offered me 'a little more' than the others. Again...I told them, "Guys, no offense, I don't like to play all day so I can quit when we get down to 6, or 4, or 3, or 2. Sorry, I like playing final tables. It's not a money thing for me." And that was it. Well...we get four handed...the blinds are 6000/12000 and a very interesting play happens. This guy limps on the button with 9-10 off. The guy in the SB...who was extremely 'squirrely' all day...meaning...mmmm....I don't know how to explain it, very twitchy or something. Made very erratic plays. Well he completed for 12k with what turned out to be A10 off. Well, if I'm in the big blind with something like QJ suited? And they have both limped at THOSE levels? And I have them both covered by a good amount? To me...that's just them telling me..."Hey Monkey...you want this pot of $36,000??? (with antes)" And I'm like..."Of Course I do! I'm all in!" (for about 30 bb's) Well, before the button can act on his hand...the SB acts out of turn and stands up (like he'd been doing often) and declares he calls. In my mind I'm alternating between..."what the fuck?" and "whoops...fucked that one up, I guess" and ...."Sure hope I suck out!!!!" 

Well now the button limper...who actually had plenty of chips to just get out of the way...especially knowing that the SB had already announced his intention. Now...as a logical thinking human...I'm thinking...WOW...this guy just did me the biggest favor ever! Hopefully he can cripple Monkey...then we can finish him off...and do a three-way chop deal! Right? Nope. Not this guy. He stands up...and says..."Well, shit...since this guy isn't going to do a chop deal....I might as well just get it all in, what the hell...." Um...okay then! So we are all three all in...and the flop comes A-Q-7. Well...I got outs! The turn is an 8...giving this guy a straight draw...and killing my Jack as an out...shit. The river...BOOM! I spike a queen! And I take them both out!  Heads up!

Now this other guy starts asking about some kind of deal. I have him about 5 to 1. I repeat my speech....he respects it...and we prepare to play. At this point...his wife...who had been observing for awhile...situates herself right over his left shoulder. And he is showing her every hand.

Okay first of all? I've never seen that happen where the floor doesn't make that person leave. Frankly...I couldn't care less if someone wants their lady friend to sit and watch. In fact, I'm all for it...it certainly makes things more interesting for them! In such a boring game, otherwise. I just was surprised, that's all. 

Secondly? Boys and girls...word to the wise here: If you get heads up with a player that is above average in skill level? And has demonstrated an ability to pick up physical tells from other players over the past decade and a half? It is probably not in your best interest to have someone sitting over your shoulder, who's face is in clear view of your opponent, looking at your hole cards. Because what that does...well, I don't think I need to spell it out for you, right?

Lets just say...it was a nice advantage to have...when I would look at his wife's face after looking at his cards...and know if he had a big hand, or a shit hand. Because if I was on the button, and I was fairly certain he had a shit hand...I would just raise 2.5x and take down the pot.  Hopefully the guy I played against will read this, and not let that happen again. Not that I don't think I would have or could have beaten him anyway....it just might not have been quite so easy. 

He almost had me, actually. It was down to 4 to 1...and when I raised with AJ suited...only to have to call his all in with 99...I flopped two pair only to get turned by a nine and ship him a very large portion of my stack. Then he caught a bunch of good hands to get me down to where he had me now about 5 to 1. But I turned it around...and got super aggressive against him. Finally, I raised with A6 suited...and called his all in...with KQ. I caught a dream flop....a 6-5-4 flop with two spades. Nice. I held...and it was over. I don't usually ask for a 'Victory Shot' in a tourney like that (daily) but given the circumstances, I felt it was both necessary, and appropriate. It felt good to win again. Anything...but especially to win at the Beau Rivage. It had been a long time....on the outside looking in. It was a win for $1570...no big deal. It was a great feeling to just sit there...with all the chips. Its one of the very rare feelings in poker that still get me excited. Right up there with making that hero call...when you are counting on your reads to be right...and they are! 


I left a generous tip...and went to meet the girls who were already at Chili's. Carley gave me a card protector for my birthday, that has her picture on both sides of it. The first thing she asked me: "Daddy! Did you use your coin today for poker!???" I love it. "I sure did! Don't you know that's why Daddy won!!!???" 



That's the last poker I've played...last week. I don't have anything else planned right now. Me and Squirrel are taking a little 4 day/night trip to Punta Cana next week...her birthday gift to me. Carley is staying home with her Mimi...its an all-inclusive, adults-only resort...so it should be a nice weekend. Not something we get to do very often. She's been on a rampage lately in the gym and with her diet...trying to get down to her 'playing weight' for this summer! The Elliptical I bought her about 3 years ago...that she largely ignored and used for a place to stash the extra pillows from the bed...has finally been getting a great workout this month! After that? Well...as you know...I run sports pools...and here comes March Madness! I don't really follow or care that much about hoops...but March Madness is always pretty exciting. So that will keep me busy through April I guess. After that? Not sure! Guess we'll have to wait and see!!!! 

MONKEY

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Happy New Year...Back in the Beau.

Well, here it is January 22nd, Sunday. Later today...4 of the best QB's in the NFL today take the field in the NFC and AFC Championship games. Sadly...my Seahawks will not be there for the 2nd year in a row after a run of consecutive Super Bowl appearances. Even sadder, was last Monday night...watching Alabama control Clemson most of the night only to get 'Vince Young'd' at the end and having their 17th National Title snared away from them by the hungry Tigers. Our home was in mourning for a few days. (yeah so...I finished this post a little bit later. We now know our two Super Bowl opponents are New England and Atlanta. Should be good)

This weekend, we celebrated...well, half of America did anyway, the Inauguration of our 45th; and easily the most polarizing and controversial, President of the United States...The Donald. The Trumpster. Or all the names the liberal folks decided to label him. It went smoothly, no terrorist attacks. Madonna didn't blow up the White House, despite threats to do so. There was bickering about crowd sizes, about the talent level of the concert performers...and of course, what event in the new USA wouldn't be complete without some good 'ol fashioned rioting and looting!!! Even more ironic was watching these collective group of asshole Millennial's as they threw a garbage can through the window of their iconic gathering place...Starbuck's. If that didn't make you laugh...well, that's just impossible! Then Saturday...we had a march...a march that was originally planned to be a 'I'm With Her' victory march for Hillary Clinton...as she was completely expected by everyone to be taking the oath this weekend. But just like all that money that was spend on fireworks that were never used, the champagne on ice that was never popped...this parade turned out to NOT be a victory celebration, but instead, a part to protest Trump's being elected. Oh sure...some tried to put a pretty shine on it, saying it was just 'an expression by woman to voice their concerns about their human rights' etc etc etc? It just came up sounding lame...especially when women who voted for Trump were kept OUT of the proceedings, as if they don't have the same needs and concerns as women who voted for Clinton. This was simply another reason to scream, yell and stomp their feet in anger and frustration that their party wasnt good enough, or their candidate strong enough...to beat what was easily the biggest joker the GOP has ever put up on the ticket! Sorry...but knowing what I know now about liberals? That just cracks me up even further!!!!

So the event, the Million Dollar Heater, has just concluded at the Beau Rivage. I had mixed results in my week there. In the first multi-day, multi-flight event...I somehow, miraculously managed to play just ONE bullet...and bag a good amount of chips. After a day off I came back for Day 2. I didn't play very long...it's been over a week so I've forgotten what occurred...but I lost early, finished somewhere around 200th place...for an eerie amount of prize money, $666 in my first tourney back to the Beau after five years.

The next event I played was the Omaha 8 or Better. I started pretty bad...but once I gathered momentum...I pretty much cruised to the Final Table. I came into the final table with the chiplead...but then it ended up being ONE OF THOSE final tables....all good hands went up in smoke. If I flopped a great hand with outs to get better...I'd miss all those outs...while they would hit some crazy miracle card. Or if I was behind but only needed 17-23 outs...I seemed to miss them...every time. And at those blind levels...that can't happen very often before you are out of chips. I ended up busting a disappointing 6th place for $1500. But hey...at least I was 2 for 2 so far.

The week would just go downhill from there. I played deep in the Monster...only to bust on Day 2 in...if I recall...45th? Something like 9 from the money if I recall? Then basically the same thing happened in the Mini-Monster. Can't remember how many it was paying...or where I went out...but it was within 10. Another bag up for Day 2, only to come back and bust. I had a run with AA over Friday and Saturday where I went 0 for 6 at one point....and finished that run 10 for 12...that's LOSING with aces, 10 out of 12 times that I had them. It was pretty sickening. I kept losing...of all hands, to KQ.

Then, after bubbling (or close to it) in the Little Monster, I directly bought into the Main, Flight A. What a freaking train wreck. I've tried to put it out of my memory. But I do know I lost with AA not once, not twice, but three times! I also flopped a straight and lost. Turned a flush and lost. Flopped a set and lost to a bigger set. Honestly...I have no idea how I made it to Level 5...but I did. I finally busted before the 2nd break...when in a blind vs blind situation, I moved in for 8k vs.Houston Carter...who literally puts an entire table on life-tilt in about 10 minutes no matter where he goes. Asks if I want a loose call...which pretty much ANY call he makes for more than 2.5x the blinds IS anyway. "Sure...give me a loose call....I need a double up." So he calls...with Q4. I flop a King...feeling pretty good...pretty safe. He turns a four...and rivers a four....and I just have to laugh.

I go play the 3pm $355 Mega Satellite. It would eventually end up paying 5 seats..with the 6th person getting $970. Care to predict where I finished? I'll just tell you. I finished 7th! I went from feeling relatively comfortable with my stack...to losing to a shortstack...me with ACES (again!) and them with 66. I blind down a few orbits...and am now in desperation mode...with 7 people left. This guy raises three hands in a row...and I look down at 55. I have to take a stand. Dammit. I shove all in vs. his raise. He tells me "You're going to be SO mad at me....I have to call." Oh. Just aces? That's it. How wonderful. I don't improve. Bubble boy!!!!

Bubble Boy decided to go play some cash game...and that did not go well either. I did, however enjoy my comped meal. That might as well have been the highlight...as I think I dropped about $800 in there that night. I like the new location of the poker room. More spacious, and a cool feeling to it with the brick walls and stuff. On the weekends, yes it's a little loud, with Coast being right next door...but oh well...bring your headphones if you don't like noise.

SO I show up the next morning ready to have a good run. Allen Kessler again ducks my Last Longer offer...which had kind of been blowing up all over Facebook. After he made some slapdick comment on his Facebook page, trying to sell pieces of himself for the BR Main...he mused about how 'soft' the field would be at the Beau. So I took exception with his claim...and took it up another notch by offering to play him for a $5000 last longer. But of course, Allen being Allen, he decides to make it all about math and a bunch of other factors that basically just added up to him being too scared to take me up on it. Once I busted on Day 1A...which he also played...he inaccurately ripped me on his wall..saying I had burned two bullets already...I guess when he saw me bust out of the Little Monster he assumed that was the Main. Then he tells his wall buddies I busted at 100/200...again, not true...close...but not true. It was 150-300! And he ends up busting not too long after me...so I had the thrill of having 'ComplainSaw' seated right over my left shoulder on Saturday for Flight B.

He would end up back at my table for the last level of the night...and I watched him go broke with his 55 vs 10-10 when he figured he might be good on a rag-infested board and a straight and flush draw. Other guy had the 10 of diamonds to counter his 10 of diamonds. And no cards came to help him make a straight, or a set...and Allen was busto. I'm not sure who's happier that he didn't take a last-longer bet with me...him or me! I know if I had won...he would have attempted to pay me with a plethora of free play and comps and other shit I had/have no use for!!!! That would have been sheer hell!!!

SO I end up bagging 143k that night. I came back with 58 players....paying 18. The day started pretty smooth. I won exactly ONE hand in the first level...K10...that I got to see in the big blind....betting top pair, getting called...then going runner runner 10-K and getting no more action. Bummer. Then I sat there card dead as a mofo, and not getting into any good spots where I could raise to steal some rounds of blinds. But we were also losing players pretty rapidly...as you always seem to do in those tourneys. When we got to about 30 players I finally started getting some hands. I picked up JJ...and after raising 2.5x...I get shoved on by TK Miles...with a semi-short stack...holding 66. It was a tough tough spot. But after having played with TK for years...I knew...that HE knew...that I was the one person he could most likely get to fold a hand that strong to his shove. I hated calling...but I did..and was thrilled to see an underpair...which didn't manage to hit a two-outer on me. Now I had some breathing room, finally.

I picked up another few pots and was now over 200k and really liking my chances...despite the field being incredibly stacked with talent. Frankly, I have always preferred to play against better players in big tourneys.

That is when the shit hit the fan. Tara Snow was sitting on about 15 big blinds. I will assume since she has never played against me...and doesn't know that I don't screw around on the button by raising with shitty cards...that she thought when she called my raise (and me holding KK) with her KJ that she was golden when the flop came J-8-4 rainbow. So she check raises me all in. I call of course...and when the dealer was kind enough to deliver a jack on the turn...she felt like a genius, I felt oh great...here we go again...and instead of being up to close to 400k...I was back down to 145k. Then our table breaks. We go to a table where she is seated next to a guy I've never liked. Aaron Massey. Why don't I like him? No special reason. I just find him annoying. He's short, and I never seem to click with most short men. And the way he acts in mid-hand is extremely irritating. Ive watched him play a lot, too...so nothing he does ever comes as a surprise. So of course...the festivities get started with me raising under the gun with AQ suited. I get a ridiculous 4 calls....from the table full of call stations...then it comes to him and he goes into his 'terrified ferret' act. The look at the cards. The shuffling in the seat. The eyes growing larger...the breathing unsettled...chest bowing up...eyes darting all over the table...oh for fucks sake, DeNiro...DO SOMETHING!!!!

He does...he re-raises the shit out of it. Well, I've seen this little act from this little shithead too many times to even WANT to give him credit for a hand. And since I have about 235k and he has only 105k...I think I can blow up his big plan by just moving all in on his ass. Which is what I do. The other four fold, of course...as I expect him to do. Only he doesnt. Nope. He snap calls and arrogantly turns over two kings. Hmmm...isn't that marvelous. The dealer and eye look into each others eyes...him being the guy who just gave the gal a two-outer jack on the other table to beat my hand not too long ago. I say to him...."throw me ace here and all is forgotten sir!" Naw. Why would he want to do THAT? Instead...the flop comes K-J-J! Oh...okay. How nice. Here you go, troll...take 105k off my stack.

Then I sit there, seething a little bit, and I hear him chit-chatting with Tara some more...and I'm not certain about what hes saying...but its annoying me, whatever it is. About this time...once again under the gun...and now down to about 28 players (paying 18....good for $4500'ish, with $150k going to 1st) I pick up AJ suited...and raise from 800/1600 to 5200. Again, I get two callers. And Tara is one of them.. Well? I have KJ smashed preflop!!! Then here comes the 'Terrified Ferret' again. Oh lord. Goes through the whole act again. And raises a bunch, again. I'm so tempted to shove. But decide I can wait for a better spot. I fold. Everyone folds. I hear the two of them talking...she says she almost re-raised...which he responds to by saying if she had re-raised, he would have folded. Huh? So your telling me I should have folded when I shoved...and I should have shoved when I folded? Yep...about what it felt and sounded like. SHIT!

So I go another couple orbits without anything to play. Then...finally...and once again under the gun...I get pocket jacks. And I'm not down to about 22 big blinds. I raise. I get two callers. And this time, SHE does the Massey-like re-raise...and after sitting and watching the two of them chat for the past hour...all I can think, is that she is basically getting tutored by the little troll..and he has taught her that move. So, that probably has as much to do with my move to ship back over the top as anything. That and I was just sick of getting pushed around by that end of the table. Maybe I could have folded there. I don't know. But this time? Of course...she has AA. Of course she does. And unlike her...I don't get any help from the dealer by handing me a jack or two. How nice that would have been.

I was out. 25th. 7 from the money. I was feeling pretty bummed out. Thought about jumping into the last event...that 200 plus a bunch of juice tourney...but I knew in my head that I wouldn't be bringing anything resembling my 'A' game...so I just kept on walking out the door, and went home. I wanted to get as far away from that tourney as I could. As fate would have it...she would end up winning the whole tourney...and $150,000. I dont know if they made any kind of chop deal or not. She got heads up with Kyle Cartwright...and exceptional player who everyone expected would win....but the cards just really, really, REALLY went her way for the whole session. Seems it was her 'one time' to run good in a big tourney. I had a few pretty well known, good players tell me they had encountered her recently up at Pearl River...and that she was known for playing KJ really hard. Makes sense. I will assume it's her favorite hand.  Well...good for her. She does live in Tuscaloosa, so I can only assume she is an Alabama fan...so after our loss in the National Title game...I'm sure that money and that win helped ease her suffering as a Bama fan...as it would have mine!!!

But for me? Just another two-day deep run gone up in smoke. But...if you know anything about poker...you know that this is just how cruel the game can be to you. A lot! In fact...most of the time!!! So, now? Now that I don't play with the pressure of HAVING to win...or some bills might not get paid? It's mostly just the losing that irks me. Which I guess is a nice place to be, mentally, when playing the game. During the week I was able to have some fun, have some nice conversations with some people I actually missed seeing in poker. Also saw some very funny things. I wish I could have shared some photos, but I think we all know the history with me and posting pictures of people on my blog! One of my favorites of the week, though...had to be the guy who we ALL know...I mean...can I just say: If you are known to a large group of people? And you decide to go out and buy a toupee? Is that REALLY the group of people you want to try it out on!??? This guy walked by my table in the first weekend, during a sit n go...and I was look and am like...."isn't that...wait...whoa...what the...." and had a guy next to me finish the sentence for me, "yeah man....that's what you think it is! No idea who he thinks he's foolin!" I'll tell you what...if you are looking to be a huge millionaire? Come up with a toupee that isn't so painfully obvious that it's a...well...toupee! 

It's now Wednesday...and we are minutes away from leaving for...ugh...Orlando. Last year...we went to Disney the week before the Super Bowl...and apparently, my wife thought it was so wonderful, she decided she wanted me to take everyone back again. Only this time...we've flown my brother down from Seattle to join us. Jimmy. My special needs brother who basically sees through me and only sees my wife...or 'Seester' to him. Who he has an obvious crush on. So while his being handicapped status should move us up to the front of most lines...he will turn our journey through the theme parks into a crawl...as he putters around at a clip of about half a mile and hour. Its painful. But don't feel bad for me. I got all my pain pill prescriptions renewed, and refilled...AND...rented a motorized scooter for down there. Isn't there some kind of universal name for those things? Hover-round? Land Yacht? Is it motorized scooter? I assume you all know what I'm referring to. Anyway...because I'm sensitive about people looking at me with the stink eye when they see what on the outside looks like a perfectly healthy man...even though they have no idea what lurks beneath the skin with my two bad knees or my shot-to-hell lower back and the three bulging discs and two arthritic vertebrae, I feel compelled to slap a knee brace on my leg just to give them a sign that I've earned the right to pay $176 to rent this bitch for 4 days!!!! Hey...whatever it takes to cut down on the hate!!!! I can promise I will be feeling a LOT BETTER when I get home THIS year...than I did LAST YEAR!!!!

As for poker? I really entertained going up to Choctaw to play that Main Event. But I was too burnt out and tired from the event at the Beau...and didn't even bother with it. I know they have a pretty juicy (it would appear) coming up at Boomtown in New Orleans this coming weekend...but alas, since I will be in Orlando going heads-up with Mickey and his crew of Extortionists...I will have to miss that one too. Next on my possible hit list...despite the fact my mother would like me to come visit her and my sister in tropical Milwaukee for that WSOP event at a casino I can't pronounce....is West Palm Beach WSOP. I might have to package that request to my wife as it being my 50th birthday gift to myself. Hanging out with my boys and playing a little poker while betting on the doggies like a real old fucker! Picture it! So yeah...that is what I will be angling for! West Palm in the middle of February. This Monkey officially becomes an OMRG and eligible for OMRG events on February 16th. Beleeee-dat! It's freaking me out...I can't lie.

Okay...gotta pack, before this woman has an aneurysm. 

MONKEY

Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Farewell to 2016....

Sept 16th. That's three and a half months. The period of time since I've last posted here. Very un-Monkeylike of me, I know. I actually wrote half a blog post in October...but never got back to it to finish it, and now, its just totally out of date. So this seems like an excellent time to put up one more post for what some, has been a very traumatic year. 

The Chinese calendar called 2016 The Year of The Monkey. And for me, personally...it was an exceptionally positive year. Bought a house. Paid off a car. Played very little poker. Staked some players, some successful, some not. Took lots of vacations with my girls. Went to a lot of Bama games, and even a Seahawks game. Had lots of family come and visit us, with more still on the way. And as I sit here in my hotel at the Marriot Marquis Atlanta...where the Alabama football team happens to be staying...I look out over the city from our 24th floor room, cold and dreary outside...and contemplate what today may hold, and what 2017 may provide us as well. 

As a kid growing up in the Seattle area, my first true love in sports was of the Washington Huskies football team. Thanks to Warren Moon and his heroic effort in leading underdog Washington to a win in the Rose Bowl over mighty Michigan in 1978, I've been hooked for life. I sat with my girlfriend at the time...having flown in from NYC where I was living at the time, and with a room at the famed Chateau Marmont, and in the SAME room that John Belushi overdosed and died in...we went to the Rose Bowl in 1991 versus, again...Michigan. Michigan and their Heisman poser, Desmond Howard. That day, the greatest Husky lineman of all time, Steve Emtman...owned Michigan. The Huskies crushed Michigan...and the Dawgs had their first National Title in program history. Granted, they had to (unfairly!) share it with those hated Miami Hurricanes. I can't tell you how many Husky games I attended as a teenager....a LOT! I saw the Dawgs play and beat the John Elway-led Stanford Cardinal. I saw them upset 3rd ranked USC with Marcus Allen and a cold and rainy day in Husky Stadium. I saw them win the Apple Cup when my step-brother was a backup for the WSU Cougars...and got to go in the locker room before and after the game. Simply put...I had an amazing childhood as a football fan growing up...and everything was Huskies and Seahawks!

The following year, in 1992, I had a new girlfriend. She was a model...from Mobile, who had recently graduated from Tuscaloosa, then moved to NYC to get 'discovered.' She decided we were flying to New Orleans...visiting her family in Mobile, then driving to Tuscaloosa for homecoming, and the game against South Carolina. I fell in love with the whole 'SEC-thing!' Husky football was great...but 'Bama football...and later, as I would learn years later...the SEC in general, football was a religion. A deep-seated passion. And I was hooked! It was another cold, crappy day...and we all left at halftime with Bama winning big. I followed them closely the rest of the year...all the way to the Sugar Bowl...where they upset the heavily-favored Miami Hurricanes to win the National Title. And so...a relationship was born with Alabama football! 

As most of you know...I married a girl from Alabama...and while 'the other side' of her family are 'Auburn folks' most of her family...the 'good side' I call them...are diehard 'Bama fans! Over the last decade I've lost count of the number of games we've attended...and even Carley went to her first two games this season, in Dallas vs USC and Oxford against Ole Miss. I wasn't brave enough to dare take her to Baton Rouge with me for that game! But she is ready and excited for today's huge game in the Georgia Dome. We are being joined by our good friends Robert and Kelly Harwell...and their 10-year old daughter, who hit it off right away last night when they met. Jayden even brought Carley a cute necklace for their first encounter. So sweet! 

And...so...it's happened. In the past, I've had people ask me: "Monkey, what happens if the Huskies ever play Alabama in a bowl game or for the Championship? Who will you root for?" I never thought it would actually happen. It has happened. And yeah, it feels super awkward, and not even right...but I have to be true to my Huskies. Partially I suppose because 'Bama has done SO MUCH winning this past decade that maybe they can let us have one! Honestly though? The knowledgeable football fan in me doesn't see the Washington O-line being able to handle the incredible Alabama defensive line. In the only two games where I saw Jake Browning get pressured hard...against USC and again vs Colorado...he looked dreadful. It could be more of the same today. BUT...big but here...if the UW O-Line really steps up...and gives him just DECENT protection? UW could very well pull the upset. I think the Husky defense is more than good enough to stop Alabama's offense. Guess we'll see...either way, one of my top two favorite teams of my life...is going to Tampa for the title game!!!  What I do NOT want to see? Is Washington getting destroyed and embarrassed. Anything but that. 

After the game...I suppose we will find something to eat, then find a good place to hopefully watch some fireworks and the peach drop. Tomorrow we are doing the aquarium...and if I can talk Squirrel into it...the Falcons-Saints game...where I need a Saints win...coupled with a Seahawks win...so they can clinch the 2-seed and homefield. GO SAINTS!!!!! Then of course...that 6-hour drive home!

So....poker??? Have I played? Meh...a little, not much. At the WSOP event at the IP in September...in their first event...the biggest, player-wise...I made my deepest run...finishing 8th out of 800 players. But at the final table, I made two really really bad plays, that cost me at least three more spots, and probably any chance at winning. Live and learn. Then they had a decent little event at the Scarlet Pearl that drew a pretty good turnout. After Day 1a and 1b I somehow had the chip lead coming back on Day 2. Well...pocket queens pretty much took care of that. It didn't get all in preflop either...I flatted the four-bet...then on a board of rags couldn't find a fold button...insisting in my head that I was up against AK. I wasn't. It was KK. I was crippled, and would lose a little while later, finishing with a much-hated min-cash. That was my last tourney action. I've had a couple of non-memorable cash sessions since then. Starting next week however, now that I am again welcomed to play at the Beau Rivage, I will most likely head over there for the Heater and see if I can splash around and find some luck. It will be nice to see a lot of people I haven't seen or played against in a very long time. I'm very excited about the crew they have running the place now, a bunch of guys I basically spent the last decade either playing WITH, or having deal TO me...or watching them start their careers as floor guys. I'm happy for them, and their progression in the business. They seem to be doing things right over there. Good to see. Hope they get a great turnout this coming event. 

So as this year comes to a screeching end tonight, we will be ushering out, as I mentioned from the top, a year that was pretty traumatic for a lot of people. And by that, I mean death, and Donald Trump. I spent quite a lot of time...too much, my wife would argue, debating politics on Facebook over the past 12-18 months. I'll be honest, I have NEVER in my life gotten SO involved in anything political as much as I did this election. I can honestly say...before this election, I really didn't know the TRUE difference between a conservative and a liberal. I didn't know what to even call myself. I think, now that I have a true understanding of the two...that I am a fair mixture of both, but a lot more of a right-leaning conservativeSLASHrealist. Most liberals that I've 'discovered' during this year have really opened my eyes about a lot of people I never guess I really knew as well as I think, or thought, I did. Sadly, a lot of 'them' would say the same exact thing about me. When I look at the skirmish...the 100's of years old skirmish between the Palestian's and the Jews...and see how no amount of dialogue ever seems to lead to peace, it reminds me of the frustrations of trying to have a logical conversation with a diehard liberal. It starts as being frustrating. Then I get angry. Then I get flustered AND angry...then I finally back away from the computer before destroying it!

The long list of dead celebrities this year is shocking. We literally lost some of musics most celebrated artists this year. In sports we lost one of our greatest legends in Muhammed Ali. In this latest death...Carrie Fisher dies after a heart attack, not really a surprise given the years of abuse she has put on her body with drugs, alcohol and obesity, but nonetheless, she was an amazing actress and writer...and someone's daughter, someone who was also a celebrity, and also still alive at 84. The next day, Debbie Reynolds, her mother...also died. As a father, this hit me and hit me hard. Cheryl (yes, that is Squirrel's 'real' name) and I often talk about how horribly tragic it would be to lose Carley... and how we would likely respond. I know that I would almost certainly want to die. We have no other kids, are too old to have more...and she has literally become our whole world. Losing her? I would lose my desire to live. I've had a great life. I've done all that I could have ever wanted to do. My whole life now is all about making sure Carley has a great life where she never has to struggle...while, along the way...teaching her the value of a dollar, teaching her m. anners, and respect...and teaching her valuable lessons. All while showing her the world, and giving her one great memory after another. I write to her in a book, a journal I guess. Letters from Daddy. Some day, after I'm dead and gone...she will read that book...and learn things about me she never knew. About feelings I had on everything, her especially...and I will hope that will round out her relationship with me and make dealing with my death a lot easier for her. I meet so many people who I hear say, "I just wish I had known more about my father....." I don't want to be that father. 

And so here comes 2017. A new year. A new start for a lot of people. A time to make all those new year's resolutions. A time to usher in a new administration in Washington. Will The Donald do the job he promised? Will he drain the swamp? We he bring back jobs? Strengthen our military? Build that damn wall? Will he EVER be able to do enough to satisfy the Hillarista's even a little bit? I don't know the answers. I wasn't Trump's biggest supporter. I took issue with a lot of things he does and says. Still do. But to me? He wasn't Hillary Clinton, who I regard as one of the worst human beings on the planet. The worst, and most corrupt, careless and reckless politicians of all time. She felt we owed her the presidency. She has no respect for 'average' Americans...and at the end of the day enough Americans saw through her act to keep her from her ultimate goal. It is a night (Nov 8th) that will be forever etched in my memory. A lot of really good pinot noir was consumed on that night. I've never been so fired up about an elections results. Hey...in 2007, I voted for Obama. I bought the dog and pony show. The big hope and change BS. I did. I admit it. And it didn't take long to be disappointed, as the curtain was ripped open and the show exposed. I read a LOT of books...about his administration, about the Clintons...about the Bush years. I informed myself. And I knew that a Clinton in back in the White House was going to be VERY bad for America. And thank god...for once, my fellow Americans DIDN'T let me down.

And so...as we head into a new year...I am hopeful for great things to transpire in the new year. A recovering economy, a stronger infrastructure (roads and bridges), more jobs, better education, better relationships with our foreign adversaries, while also garnering more respect, and a little fear. A real, no BS effort at protecting our borders and toughening up our immigration laws. A diminished emphasis put on political correctness...THAT would be REALLY nice to see!!! Perhaps we can even get a president in office who doesn't seem hell bent on dividing the races and driving a wedge between us at every opportunity. Sorry...but my glass is resoundingly half FULL...and my glasses are in fact rose-tinted! And if I'm wrong? Or if my expectations are NOT met? Well...it will just be another disappointing president. Nothing new. But the worst thing about it, will be having to listen to what has easily become the most annoying and loathed group of people I ever thought could exist...LIBERALS. If liberals were a race? You could truly call me a racist!

With that...I must conclude this. We are set to meet our friends in 20 minutes. So I will wish you ALL a very safe, and happy New Year!!! May all your teams win! May all your champagne be cold! May all your hangovers be cured by Excedrin Migraine! And may all your first dates be deals that get closed! 

MONKEY

Friday, September 16, 2016

MAIN EVENT STARTS TODAY

I've wanted to write numerous times. As most events typically are...this has been another one filled with episodes and characters more than worthy of my writing about. But with so much going on around me...and these start times (11am!) being such a handicap, football season, etc etc...I've been left with very little time for anything, let alone posting a blog. And on top of it all...I have played and advanced to EVERY dinner break and beyond this week...despite failing to cash EVERY single time. As some of you know, the event got off to a great start, well, sort of. I burned my first buy in for the $365 3-day event...but bagged up the 6th highest stack ($300,000) in my 2nd attempt. Ended up making the Final Table (out of 800 total players) but bowed out 8th when I played a hand about as bad as it could have possibly been played. I collected $5500 for that effort, which has basically been used for every failed attempt since Sunday. 

Last night was about the worst...even worse than BUBBLING the Omaha, BUBBLING the nightly (twice) and busting out 10 or less from the money in 11am tourneys THREE times this week! Last night...sitting slightly below average with 37k...blinds at 800/1600....this gal limped in, a gal who had been giving me fits, and who is most closely identified as a cross-hybrid of Krazy Kerri Simmons and Claudia 'The Claw' Crawford...in her demeanor, appearance, and style of play.  She limps in...and this guy...who people have been calling Jon Cena....yeah, he's gigantic, and quite muscular. He makes it 7800 to go. And as it folds around to me in the SB....I look down and see two aces. Holy cow! That moment we all fantasize about. So now I'm thinking...."Damn, how should I play this? Flat? And try to get them both in there? Raise to about 18k..and look ridiculously strong, and risk having them both fold and only winning a pot of about 10k that won't help me that much? I really need a double up. All of this took maybe 30-45 seconds...I shoved all in. Hoping it would look weak and allow him to put me on AK or JJ. She folded, and he took the bait....calling my all in. I was hoping to win and be sitting comfortably at 80+k...with the money only about 12 away.

As soon as I turned over my AA...he obnoxiously says "Oh! Of course...I knew you had AA...with your little act! Reward me dealer! Give me an queen!!!" I struggle to see what act he was referring to. I can only assume he just didn't understand the situation, or poker for that matter. At any rate, it was a little annoying. Even more annoying, was when the dealer plopped a fucking queen on the turn. He went berserk. I noticed that it gave  me a flush draw though...and as a 2 of diamonds hit the river, I felt vindicated...and was like (to myself)..."Ha! In your face, asshole!!!" But right then...the guy to my right hollers out "Wait! He has a full house!!!" Huh? Oh fuck. I look at the board, and sure enough...that deuce paired the board. I wanted to puke.

It was 7. I went back to the back table and tried to mellow out...but was clearly rattled by this one. Finally I painfully bought into the 7pm tourney. Had my aces hold up in THAT one...against JJ. Big whooop! But as they all seem to have gone this week, I would eventually get it all in versus AQ when we were getting close to the final table. Jack high flop looked good. But a ten on the turn and a king of the river punched me out. Then went to try the $250 Mega satellite.  The same dealer who knocked me out of the Nooner with my aces...then showed up and finished me off in the Mega as well. In her defense...I don't think I feel nearly as bad as she does. She's a nice gal, and a great dealer...she just really wrecked me yesterday. I hope I wasn't too hard on her. 

The Main starts today, in about 20 minutes. I just wanted to give you guys something...as I head in for this event. If I bag...great! Me and Squirrel and Carley are then going to drive up to Oxford for the big Bama game tomorrow. We will party in The Grove for the first time ever...and hopefully see our team end this two-year run of defeats to the Rebels. We will then come home after the game...and I will prepare for a Day 2 run in the Main. If I do NOT bag chips today? So be it. That will be the end of my Main Event...as I will not be playing in the 2nd flight. So yeah, today is big. I really want to see what I feel has been my exceptional play this week be rewarded by having my hands hold up like they were doing in the first event...and I make it back to the final table. I love winning. I hate losing. It's not about money anymore. I have plenty of that. There is no stress involved with poker. Not HAVING to win to survive. Now, it's just all about winning and losing. And like I said...I HATE LOSING! And really hate losing ugly. And this week has been ugly. Time to turn this shit around. 

And yeah...I have a LOT of funny stories from this week. Sorry I hadn't had time to share them all with you. Some of you caught some of them on my Facebook. Good luck to all of you playing today and tomorrow. Hope you stay out of my way!!!!!

MONKEY

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

And Then the Vultures Converge!

Before I get started...I would like to congratulate a good poker buddy of mine. Over the past 10 years we have played together, been road-trip roomies, and grinded away in the world of poker circuit tournaments. We live about 2 miles from each other, but are seemingly (at times) worlds apart. I watched him run deep this summer in the Main Event, rooting with all of our other Biloxi friends, for him to make a final table appearance. He would bust short of a HUGE score. Well? That huge score, the one that has evaded him for so long (trust me, I can relate!!!!) came, finally...yesterday in South Florida! At the Hard Rock's $5m guarantee in Hollywood, Tim Burt did an ICM chop that netted him $460,000! They played it out, for the title and whatever their bling was for winning, and Jason Koon emerged the winner. But with the money settled, there really wasn't much left to play for...similar to my situation back in 2010, when me, Kai Landry and Mark Rose did a three-way chop in the Beau Rivage's Main Event...leading to my biggest (to date, still) score of my poker career. ($110,000) Tim has definitely logged the hours, and paid his 'poker dues!' I could not be happier for him! Way to go TIM!!!! Hopefully I will see him 'back home' for the IP and Beau Rivage events in a couple weeks. But who knows...with all that newfound money burning a hole in his pockets..he might skip us and go for greener pastures. I wouldn't fault him for that, certainly. 
Tim and his 'better half' Sandra...who happens to be the sister of poker pro Natasha Barbour...who is now married (I think!!!) to poker great Jason Mercier! Nice inner circle!

So...a follow up to the Louisiana situation. Been getting a lot of pictures texted to me from friends' homes after the flood waters have receded. NOT a pretty picture. The water line that has been stained on the sides of their homes are testament to the harsh reality of what was going on just a few days ago in their world. Now comes the really hard part. The clean up. If you've never been in a home that has been flooded? Count yourself as lucky. It's awful. A muddy, nasty slime covers everything. The walls are soaked through and through. Any furniture that is there is ruined. The smell is god-awful. The feeling you are hit with when walking in the front door is one of complete hopelessness. I remember all too well, walking into homes after Hurricane Ivan when I lived in Pensacola, then a year later in Biloxi after Katrina swept through. For the people who had flood insurance, you could at least find solace in the fact that eventually (insurance companies are notoriously slow to pay, especially after a disaster) they would get a check that would help them to rebuilt their home and their lives. For the huge number of people without flood insurance? You had to hope they could get help from FEMA, or through donations. But either way...they are still left standing there, looking and smelling what has become of their home. There is no other word to describe it other than devastating. 

My wife had both our guest room, and Carley's room all ready for our out-of-town guests to arrive. But yesterday, when I spoke with Bridget she told me they were just getting out of Charlotte...and wouldn't be in our area until late at night...and that they were just going to drive through to Baton Rouge. So that was kind of a disappointment, as I was hoping to get involved with her and do something to help out. I exchanged messages with Wild Bill yesterday, and learned that he had been in contact with a few casinos about holding a poker tourney to benefit the victims of the flooding disaster. My only advice to him: Make it happen QUICK! Because our society has turned into a 'what's hot NOW' kind of world. Today's tragedy is easily replaced by tomorrow's big news story. The attention span for most people now when it comes to one single incident, is paltry. So he is working on that...and hopefully, we can make it happen. And I know Bill enough to know that he will find the absolute BEST charities to donate the proceeds to. So I will keep y'all posted on what I hear on that end. 

So...what would a natural disaster be without the scum of the Earth rearing it's ugly head? It's happening again, predictably. Yesterday, the reports started pouring in of people's homes being looted in the wake of the flooding. One of Cheryl's friends had it happen to them. Anxiously returning to their home, only to find they had been robbed. Unbelievable. I mean...I guess the kind of people who partake in this kind of bullshit have zero concern or beliefs in karma. Nor have they had the sense of right and wrong instilled in them by their parents. I mean...is this what it's come to? Are we turning into a fiefdom? The 'Haves' versus the 'Have Nots?' I spent time on message boards, angrily berating those insensitive people who were suggesting that Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas like Denham Springs, Prairieville, Hammond, etc...being hit with these epic floods was a form of biblical punishment for the events this summer in Baton Rouge...where innocent police were gunned down...and rioting took place. How anyone could draw a parallel to these two events is kind of mind-boggling. But in these times of racial strife, cue the ignorant to do just that. 

So imagine how silly I feel...defending these people...ALL of them, and then BOOM! There they go...proving that maybe I'm wrong about them. We saw those communities pulling together...with what seemed like everyone with a boat putting it in the water, rounding up a buddy or two...and going on a rescue mission or ten. I think we all saw the video on Facebook...where the young Asian guy hopped out of his boat, and saved a woman (and her dog!!) from drowning in a sinking car. That's just one example of what was going on over there. If that doesn't give you faith in your fellow man...shit...what would!!!??? You want to think that people, at the very core of their being, are good people. Right? I read a story yesterday...I think (not sure) that this one happened in Georgia. Two young black men had their car break down, I think maybe it was in the ditch, stuck in the mud. An older white man stopped, got out...and volunteered to help the boys. How did they reward him? By shooting him dead! Then robbing him. Explain THAT one. Try to convince yourself that those two young men at their core, are good people. Is it even possible?

I conducted a bit of a social experiment this summer. I recommend to everyone that they try it. It's really kind of an eye-opener. With all the racial discord going on...it's easy to draw a line in the sand and pick sides. But what does that accomplish? Nothing really, except widening the divide. I think it's fair to say that all of us who are white have a number of black friends, and all of you who are black have a number of white friends. Fair? So my point in that? Is that we aren't predisposed to just SHUN the opposite race. I prefer to think that the kind of people who ARE like that? Is a very, very small number. Hopefully less than 5% of the population. Every once in awhile, I will encounter someone (often times a fellow poker player) who through casual conversation I come to realize is a raging racist. And it makes me feel very awkward and uncomfortable. And then while feeling those things, I'm making a mental note to myself: 'Avoid future social arrangements with this person!' 

I can't think of a time in my lifetime where there has been so much disdain between the races. I'll admit it, I'm not too proud...I drank the Kool-Aid back in 2007. I voted for Obama. I believed in him, in his fancy (yet empty) speeches promising all this hope and change. As a black man, or at least a partial black man...I was totally convinced that he would foster an era of cooperation between the races. It would be great. He would inspire his fellow African-Americans...lead them out of poverty, instill in them a desire to pick themselves up and pursue the American dream. Well, as I'm sure most of us can agree...none of that has happened. Instead, the poor have gotten poorer, there are more people on welfare, there are more people in prison than any time in our nation's history. And where race is concerned? Any chance our president has had to try and heal, to bring both sides together, he has squandered. He has endorsed what in actuality is a terrorist organization, the Black Lives Matter agitators, going so far as inviting them to the White House and "praising the work they have done." Are you kidding me? Rumors are rampant that the dark, evil billionaire George Soros has financially spearheaded the efforts of BLM. Just recently, Barack was observed, photographed even...visiting Soros' son Alex in his NYC penthouse apartment. If you just spend a tiny little time connecting the dots of all the deeds of this administration through the past 8 years, its not hard to see what is going on. 

Do they...and by 'they' I mean the people who wish to control all facets of our nation...the 'power brokers' if you may...have 'they' made it their mission to MAKE the two sides, white and black, go to war with one another? What would the reasoning be behind that? What good would a divided nation offer to those who want to hold all the power? It's pretty frightening. And almost ALL economic-based.

So...back to my social experiment that I conducted this summer. It started while I was in Vegas. And I think it hit me when I was just chilling out at the pool at Venetian one day. I was alone...and just walking around in the pool...observing all the various cultures of people. Literally people from all over the world. White. Black. Yellow. Everyone. Almost all of them appearing to be happy. People who were polite with each other. Friendly conversations. I was guilty of it too. A couple pina colada's in me...I spent the afternoon conversing with couples from all over. And it hit me. Wow! What if I just walk around with a pleasant look on my face all day. And if I should happen to encounter a black person...smile at them! Or say hello! Hold a door. Allow them to pass in front of you when walking through the crowded casino. Then watch their reaction. Maybe they will respond by doing the same, or something similar. Maybe they will raise their eyebrows...because they are surprised. 

I did this, and have been doing it all summer. It really is pretty amazing. We were eating at the buffet at Mandalay Bay when Cheryl and Carley were in Vegas. And this was after the 12 cops got gunned down in Dallas. Very tense times. They went to the bathroom...and seated right behind us was a family, a black family...two young children. I turned when the kids said something cute, and smiled. And then...we just started talking. We talked about Dallas. And all the other 'crap' that has been going on. We talked as parents. Then as just 'people.' We had so much in common. They were so nice. When the girls came back to the table, and saw us talking, Squirrel was quick to engage them in conversation as well. It was nice. It gave me hope. 

We have been getting the road behind us widened for over a year now. Literally, over our fence...we see them and their tractors every day almost. Carley loves tractors. Well, she has a heart of gold. Lately, she has been very concerned about all the kids who don't have mommy's or daddy's, and who might not have pets to love on....or who even lack toys. She wants to help all those little babies and kids. It's so cute, and makes me so proud of her.  I truly think she is going to grow up to be a GREAT human being. Well, she has been very concerned about these construction workers...as it's typically 90+ degrees out there and VERY humid. So one day, she wanted to take them all a Gatorade, something we always have an abundant supply of! I said 'Of course, Carley...what a great idea!!!' In fairness, she was kind of borrowing this idea from an earlier episode this summer...when she and I were in the driveway when the garbage people showed up. The guy on the back of the truck was pouring sweat....and Carley tells him..."Wait! Wait!! I go get you 'BaybaBade" as she calls it. He looked confused...but she ran to the fridge we have in the garage, pulled out two orange Gatorades...and came back with them. The look on his face...wow. You'd have thought she brought him a bucket of gold. Again...I was left feeling so proud of her. Yes, the garbage man was black. And yes, 4 of the 5 construction workers were black too. And when she handed them a Gatorade over the fence, we got almost the same reaction. 

It wasn't the last time we saw those guys either. Carley likes to go out and check on them...and they always acknowledge her. One of them...comes over and asks her "how are you doing today, young lady?" And she just beams. I wonder to myself: Are these guys thankful for the cold drink, or are they more surprised that we, as white people...care about them? Obviously, Carley doesn't see color. She doesn't understand the difference, as it relates to how people treat one another. That's another thing about kids that I simply love. They don't discriminate. At all. They are so simple. They haven't 'learned to hate' yet. And isn't that what it's all about? When people are conditioned to hate...when they are taught how to hate...it never leaves some people. They never overcome it. It's just a stain on their soul. I don't know if we can be saved as a country...from all the hate. It's hard. Maybe the hardest challenge ever. I do know...I do remember...a day, back in September of 2001...when EVERYONE in the USA came together as ONE. While it was a tragic, horrible, gut-wrenching day...it was also a day, a week...that made me so proud to be an American. I miss that feeling. Everyone had a US flag on their car, or their house, even on their clothing.  We were ALL Americans...united against a common enemy. It was kind of beautiful. It's that week that makes me think that all things are truly possible. I think the time I felt that way...before 9/11...was twice. In 1991..on the eve of the first Gulf War...when Whitney Houston sang the Star Spangled Banner before the Super Bowl, and in 1980 in Lake Placid when the USA hockey team upset the heavily favored Russians...at a time when they were the USSR, and the evil empire of the world. HOCKEY! A game played predominantly by whites!!! Didn't matter, did it!?? Are you old enough to remember that moment, and how it made us all feel?

So yeah...I've been doing this little experiment all summer...I might just keep on with it. Why not? It really shouldn't even BE an experiment, it should just be the way you are ALL THE TIME. Because honestly? The response I get, is 90% positive. Yeah..it's sad, the other 10%. Those people who are conditioned to hate me because I am white. Though we have never met, I've never done them wrong, I never owned a slave, and in searching on my family tree on the Ancestry.com thing I did this year...can't find anyone in my past who could have possibly owned one either (my whole family comes mostly from the Dakotas and Canada on my Dad's side...and we have a lot of Sioux Indian blood in us...if you want to compare 'human treatment' stories. On my Mom's side...no one ever lived south of New Jersey, and all came from Europe in the mid-1800's) so that's not a reason to regard me with such disdain. It's like I said...I want to believe, in my heart and head...that the number of people is very low...who simply won't budge off of their position on how they regard people of other races. Because if it IS just 5% or less? We can fix that. I think. 

Do you ever watch these people protesting on TV and ask yourself..."Hmm...I wonder if I could get that person alone, maybe in a nice, peaceful place...and have a constructive conversation with them? Would they be willing to have a meaningful debate, without all the hostility? Would they make me see their point a little? Would I make them see mine? Would we be able to actually solve anything?" Do you ever do that? I know its really easy to watch these people, mostly black, on TV and immediately discount them as 'thugs, assholes, pieces of shit, criminals, animals, etc etc etc.' I get it. It's easy. The way they appear on TV...yeah, it's real simple. And a lot of it is probably due to them being in a crowd. It's a lot easier to act like a fool when you have a bunch of you doing it. If that crowd around them vanished...they would be left standing there..."uh...hello? where did everyone go? Damn...well, okay I'm out of here!" Right? 

My sister lives in Milwaukee. What's going on there, to most, looks absolutely ridiculous and unwarranted. And I agree, it is. Black kid, stole a gun in March, along with 500 rounds of ammunition. Has been involved in numerous crimes. Gets into a car chase with a police officer. A police officer who is black. It turns into a foot chase. Black kid turns, aims gun at cop...cop fires first...kills black kid dead. Before ANY kind of investigation can even BEGIN...that night...rioting begins...with violence, and looting, and fires. (A) yes, this IS inappropriate behavior. (B) But..at the core root of this, is a long, long pattern of frustration with the police in Milwaukee. Add to that that Milwaukee is considered one of the worst places for a black person to live in the US. Its incredibly segregated. Unemployment among blacks is through the roof. So while I think the way they are reacting is counter-productive to their concerns, it IS somewhat understandable due to their degree of frustration. TRUTH: Some of them are probably a lost cause, and should most likely be locked up for a long time. Any attempts to turn them into good, law-abiding citizens might be futile. FALSE: They are all a bunch of crazy animals, a gang of thugs, worthless pieces of shit. It's just not true. I promise you...there are some good people in those crowds. There HAS to be. My heart, my head, and my social experiment tells me its true. 

In conclusion: Baton Rouge...I truly hope everyone touched by this tragedy finds some happiness in these gloomy days. That your lives are able to return to normal, at least close to normal...soon. And to the vultures who lurk amongst you...lets pray for them to find their inner-good person, and stop being such scum bags. Maybe instead of robbing you...they may surprise you, and offer to help you clean up around your house. Ya never know!!!!

STAY STRONG LOUISIANA!!!

MONKEY