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Friday, February 27, 2015

Monkey Does St. Louis...

I've been here a full week...and am 20 minutes from going down to the poker floor to get started on Day 1A of the Main Event...which I avoided buying into for the full $1675 by winning the $250 Mega Satellite last night, on my 2nd buy in, after my KK fell to QQ early in level 2. 

I'm not sure what kind of crowd to expect for these two flights of Main Event action. As I looked around yesterday, I didn't see too many of the 'tourney regs' come flocking in like they usually do the Wed/Thurs before the Main Event starts.  But with the field sizes in the $365 events being around 250-400 I imagine they will draw enough to make it at least lucrative if I can find my way to the final table.

As for how I've been running this week? Well, it's been kind of a weird week. To summarize, I won a nightly for $4000, then picked up two 3rs, both good for $1800...so those have been good to me. I've only played 3 nightly's. The first nooner...the big one, 792 players....I was deep and in the money when I got two-outed on consecutive hands, on the river....to finish 69th for a min cash of $625..picking up another 7.5 freeroll points and bumping me up to around 40th place with 100 points. 

But the rest of the week has been frustrating. I bubbled the next days's noon event...stone bubbled it. 22nd place, paying 21. That sucked. Then next in the 6-handed I went out 45th...also paying 21. So I've been deep a lot and don't have much to show for it, unless your counting nightly tourney's which I guess I should.

The cash game? Wow....that has been a green pastured every time I've sat down in it. 3 out of 4 sessions I've booked a profit of $500 or more. I won't go into detail about the way they play here...but if you are an experienced player...it's pretty easy to figure out how to play against most of these people if you are trying to have success at the table. 

The hotel room here is really nice...very spacious...and located very close to the poker room. I picked up a roomate, BJ McBrayer, for this trip...so it's nice to half my costs there. BJ has been running pretty well himself, finishing 4th in the $500 tourney and min cashing another before getting hit with some bad luck. 

One negative to this place is the presence of the Missouri Gaming Commission, who, as it's been explained to me, are the losers who weren't good enough to make it as regular cops...so that was their fall back plan. They basically just roam around the tournament area antagonizing the players, almost daring them to engage in a confrontation with them. I've heard story upon story about them. As for what the poker room management or casino management can do about them? I don't think here is anything they CAN do...I think the law stipulates that they HAVE to be here...so they just basically loiter around looking for things to bust people's balls about. Real fucktards.

One thing that has really stood out in my mind here. The Official St Louis 3-bet...is just ALL IN. Pot size does NOT matter. Stack size does NOT matter, either. If a guy limps...and someone raises...9 times out of 10...if he isn't folding...he is shoving all in. Same thing for if he raises, and someone actually (probably not from here) makes a reasonable 3-bet...once it gets back to the ghoul from St Louie....he is shipping it all in! It's just mind boggling. 

One of the eventual circumstances of this type of play...is the play getting whittled down VERY quickly. In just the last three days...with field sizes of approximately 175....the field has been narrowed down to about 32-36 by dinner break...which has been just 10-15 from the money. That doesn't happen unless people are just bombing away with their whole stacks and playing almost ZERO pot control poker. And that is pretty much exactly how they play here...and why the fields are being blazed through at the speed they are.

The other thing I've been noticing is the amount of 'hero play' that takes place here. I can count at least four times...in hands where there was betting on the flop, the turn and the river...where one of the two players in the hand would turn over two cards that made no connection...NONE...with the board. No pair,  No draw. Nothing. Just the desire to get into a back and forth battle with the other player in hopes they could make them fold. Only...in this place? People don't ever fold...especially if they have so much as bottom pair. So this really adds to the amusement element of the attempted bluff play. 

I thought my five-year break from this  place would see an improvement in the play up here. I was wrong. It has not gotten one tiny iota better...if anything,  it's gotten worse. But I think my game may have evolved to a point where I've learned to be a little more evasive when it comes to avoiding getting into bad spots with these jokers...by either keeping the pot small to avoid going bust on some ridiculous river result...or just bailing in certain hands when I know it's got a good chance of being one of those 50/50 death hands. I choose the path of least resistance, knowing they are bad enough that I can just peck away at them one chunk at a time...instead of trying to get the whole ball of wax in one fell swoop. Yes, it's mentally taxing, and time-consuming...but a lot more safe, and effective.

Okay...I have a great table draw...and I say that because I got my favorite seat 6...so I think I will try to get down there on time...when they tend to spend a lot of time giving away chips early. Maybe I can bag up a fat bag of chips on Day 1a...then take tomorrow off and do something away from the poker table. For those of you up here and playing...good luck to you as well!


MONKEY

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Time to Go Play Some Poker!

First...I would like to wish all of you a Happy Valentine's Day...that holiday dreamed up by the folks from the greeting card industry. That holiday expressly intended for those who wait for ONE day a year to share their feelings with their loved one. I can share with you that I spent the most I've ever spent for a simple greeting card, by simple I mean it doesn't play music or feature pop-up animation of any kind. $9.26 for a greeting card. Wow! Carley had her first real exposure to the holiday...as she is now old enough to cognitively register what each holiday kind of represents now. And for her...it meant lots of candy, and the chance to write what she thinks is her name on valentines for her classmates at daycare. After her party...we went to pick up Jasper, our black lab, from Petsmart..where he'd been getting groomed. As soon as I picked her up from her car seat...I was covered in vomit. Orange-colored vomit. I quickly grabbed her 'party cup' that was half filled with candy...and she filled up the rest of that thing...with more vomit. My baby likes to eat the frosting off of cookies, cupcakes and cake. She did a lot of that at her party. And together we ended up wearing it! But once she got it all out of her, she was good to go! 

Today, it will be a big Mardi Gras parade in downtown Biloxi, which I guess is a big deal because it's the first 'night parade' they've had since Hurricane Katrina almost ten years ago. Me? I'm not a big 'parade guy' and have never gotten into the whole 'Mardi Gras thing.' But whatever...I'm a good sport, I can go along with whatever I get dragged to in the interest of showing my girls a good time.

My sadness over the Seahawks loss in the Super Bowl has almost worn off. I won't lie...I was totally distraught over it. And if the pride associated with a back-to-back Super Bowl champion wasn't tough enough to swallow, another thing I lost was the $19,000 I would have won from my $100 Survivor Pool. I resisted the 'chop talk' all week...thinking that with 4 people left, there was a pretty good chance that they other three would take New England. I was right. They did. I was one yard away from the greatest day of my sports lifetime! A touchdown to win the Super Bowl for the 2nd year in a row!!!! And my biggest win in one of my pools in the 18 years I've been running pools. And then Malcomb Hunter happened. 

We had a huge Super Bowl party at our new house...and I can't even tell you what a great job Squirrel and The Claw did making it simply amazing. My buddy Barth, who owns bars in the New Orleans area, showed up Saturday night packing a TON of beer, liquor and supplies...and after I ran all over Biloxi picking up food platters and football-field themed cookies...we had the most amazing Super Bowl Spread you could ever imagine. We got a great turnout as well...and with a huge deck in back with a fire pit raging..and a TV inside and out...it was just a great setting...on top of it being a great game. Everything was perfect...except that final 30 seconds. That crushed my soul!!! But...like I said...I am ALMOST recovered from it. The only...and I mean ONLY thing...that I take away from the loss...is that I hope the Seahawks come back next season just pissed...and hungry...and focused...and steamroll their way to another Super Bowl.

Yesterday I mailed out the FINAL payments for ALL of my Super Bowl squares...of which I sold out 24 boards for a total of $102,000! Last week, I mailed out all the winnings from the various pools throughout football season. It was quite a season. I awarded a shade over $500,000 on just SQUARES this season...then another $100,000 in pools...and ALL OF THEM ARE PAID! It gives me the best feeling wiping that slate clean every football season. Granted...I'm still owed about $9000 from various people...but whatever...they'll pay (most of them) I just have to hound the shit out of most of them. And that shit gets old.

The website I tried to get behind...Fantasy Draft...did not quite pan out the way we all hoped it would. I know a lot of us poker players that were in on it from the outset, and were busting out butts to get the name out there...and get people signed up...were really hoping it would make for a huge success and reward all of us for working so hard on it. Well, they had a lot of problems getting launched...and delays...and when they finally did launch, in the 2nd to last week of the season, it was a total meltdown, slow...like molasses, web delays, lack of stat updates, inability to do player-to-player transfers...which sucked because a lot of people had problems even getting money onto the site. They are trying to get it together right now during basketball season...but I think we all realize that basketball just ISN'T fantasy football..in any way possible. So I don't know...maybe they will do something amazing and kick off next season in grand fashion. I hope so...it would be nice to get something out of all that work I dedicated to it.

I played some online poker this past week...and came to realize why I hate online poker so much. I fired up my Bovada account and was shocked to see I had over $500 in there. Hmmm. So I played some 1/2 NL Hold em and some 50/1.00 Pot Limit Omaha 8. I played for 3 hours one night...and 4 hours another night. I now have $250 in my account. There is nothing that took place that I can honestly call 'normal.' I am pretty sure their software is geared to provide the most ridiculous things you can ever imagine on the river. And no one ever folds...ever...so you can always count on getting drawn out on. Screw it, don't even know why I brought it up. Online poker is a joke.

Did I hear the news? Regarding the chatter coming out of Nevada that they might try to ban, or make illegal, poker players selling 'pieces of themselves?' Of course I did...and even if I hadn't, there were 4 or 5 people posting excerpts about it to my Facebook wall. 

(had to pause to open the door for the Fed Ex guy who was bringing flowers for our selfie-snapping housemate, The Claw! That was just the first of what I assume could be a long stream of flowers coming to the house today for her! She's become quite popular since becoming a demon in the gym and shedding 60 lbs in the last 8 months or so)


Back to that stupid threat of a law banning player staking. First of all,  if it HAD gone through...there is no way players would have stopped selling off pieces. In fact, in my opinion, the ONLY one it would have protected, was the douche bag player who sells pieces of himself, wins something...and then feels he/she doesn't legally have to cough up what he/she owes the investors...since there is legislation stating there couldn't legally BE that arrangement in the first place. Can you imagine that? A way for douchey poker players to be a little douchier? Yeah...shocker.

Well, I was getting people telling me about it for one reason I suppose. Maybe two...as I've been known to sell a lot of packages for my poker adventures...which is what I call them now since, as a daddy of the Amazing (and high-maintenance) Carley...I rarely get a chance to venture out and play with the other poker kids. But I think the primary reason people were concerned was that they are all waiting on me to launch the 2nd Annual Search for Monkey's Minions...or more easily explained as my raising money from my vast network of friends/acquaintances looking for a sweat on the Main Event. Last year we raised $40,000 and sent four very qualified players to the Big Event...with none of them cashing, much to our chagrin. But despite their inability to cash...nearly all of those involved expressed a desire to do it again this year...so they will certainly invited back.

And so...yeah...you can consider this an announcement, I guess...that I WILL, in FACT...be doing it again this summer. Mainly because I've been rejected for reinstatement by the folks at Horseshoe Hammond, as discussed in my last post. Don't know why, other than there is a vendetta being served up by the 'Big Guy' at the WSOP. Childish, ridiculous, and borderline damaging from a legal perspective...but one which I'm no longer allowing to get me worked into a lather. Life is just WAY TOO GOOD away from the poker table for me to give much of a fuck.

How many will I/We send this summer? I guess it depends on how many I raise money for. We only had enough for two last year and then in the three days leading up to Day 1a of the event, quickly raised another $20k. I would prefer not having to go the route we did last year...which turned into the ultimate rush job, and stressed me out. This year I'd like for them to have their buy in at least a week before the event..and be able to get out to Vegas (if they aren't already there) with time to get settled in and rested up. I also hope to have T-shirts and maybe hats made for them to wear to announce their presence! I also hope to have one of them get deep and make us a return this year!!!

Okay...so what is this talk about me getting off the bench and getting back out there? Well......

Once upon a time I traveled (by car, horrible road trip btw) to a place called St.Louis, where I'd never been before. I think it was 2009. What I encountered that trip were some of the most AWFUL beats I'd ever witnessed...that was the trip where Mark Cain (dealer) forged his legendary status of destroying me...as he will openly share with any of you that should ask. I also saw some of the worst poker played of any god-forsaken place I'd ever traveled to. And I don't know what the deal was with the ugly people...but St Louis has some of the most unattractive people I've ever seen...and they all seem very fond of wearing camouflage. Will things have changed in the 5 years I've been away? I mean...how much COULD it have changed? Really? And? I played at the Harrah's up there...and the set up was beyond horrible, slapped smack in the middle of slot machines and surrounded by plumes of cigarette smoke, to go along with that clank clank clank ding ding ding irritation. I was expecting this to be a better set up...but someone I spoke to today has informed me that at the last event they ran there..it was almost a mirror image of the events at Harrah's. Isn't that awesome!

 So an obvious question would be....'Then why the hell are you going back?' Of course, my wife clearly remembers my feelings about St Louis and all things St Louis-related...so that was her immediate question when I told her I was thinking about wanting to go up there for the circuit event. I can honestly say I didn't have a great comeback...other than to tell her I hope that the level of play has improved, and that since we are currently in the best financial shape we've been in since we've been married, I won't have to take that mentality of 'needing to win' with me. 

I think playing in that frame of mind can make poker really stressful, and affect your total behavior towards people. I know it has for me in the past. Needing to make a score, and running into a constant stream of bad beats and suck outs can make you a mental wreck...which translates a lot of times to appearing to be a total asshole to people around you. I mean...what are you supposed to do? Qualify everything you say to people with a long, drawn out story about how bad your running?

I learned pretty early on in my poker career that no one...I mean NO ONE...really cares about how bad you are running. And even when you are running good...they don't want to hear about THAT either...especially when they are running like shit. Poker is a weird game...and to develop REAL (I mean truly REAL) friendships among poker players...you really have to share things in common that don't include poker. I've been lucky to have made about 4 or 5 really, really good friends through poker...who, no matter how well or bad we are doing in poker, it never gets in the way of our friendship. It's pretty simple, we just don't talk about poker that much. Frankly, all of my good 'poker friends' and me agree that poker is a pretty boring topic of conversation, generally speaking.

It was a little tougher for me, I guess, because I've created an identity with this blog. And I'm not saying that it's bad. But when I'm somewhere playing, and things are going bad..and a blog reader approaches and greets me in a very pleasant way, I have to try to put on a happy face...and I'm not always the best actor. Now my wife? She is the BEST! I know that those of you who know the Squirrel have NEVER witnessed her being rude to anyone. It just doesn't happen. Not because she doesn't WANT to be ugly/rude...she just doesn't do it. Me, I have a little harder time with it...so I might just say "Hi..listen..it's really bad timing right now, can I talk to you later?" And people tend to act understanding...but you just KNOW some of them are thinking "What a dick!" And I hate that!

Blah blah blah! Ugh sidebar from hell there! So yeah...I'm going to St Louis...because its being held at Lumiere Place...owned by the people who own The Trop...whatever that is. I know that when I called to make a room reservation, since the website boasted of WSOP rates...I was connected to the switchboard, in Atlantic City. And immediately, I was in reservation hell. The lady hit a snag when it came to booking 'long-term' reservations. Huh? And after first being told the day before they had plenty of availability, she was telling me they were N/A on that first Saturday night...my STL trip was looking like it was going to fizzle.

Finally...a Supervisor took over. He did finally fix the problem...but not until he had to wrestle with the 'long term' thing himself. Apparently, they weren't set up to deal with 11-day reservations...which you would think, if they are going to host a WSOP event, offer WSOP pricing, and get a LOT of players who are coming for the whole time to play the event...they might want to have worked out ahead of time. And so..with only a week until the event starts, less actually now...I have a bad feeling there is going to be a lot of horror stories about getting room reservations there. A little tip...if you call, ask for Supervisor Joe! Feel free to tell him Will Souther referred you to him.

I am hopeful they get a good turnout. Obviously I am playing there because I can play there. The only other properties I can play this season (WSOP-related) are Foxwoods in Connecticut, and The Bicycle Club in Los Angeles. As I looked at the Freeroll standings...I have plummeted to 35th place. The Top 50 (I think) make it into the freeroll for the Million bucks...or whatever it is. And of course, as most of you know...I'm unlikely to be allowed to play in it. But I still would like to actually QUALIFY! And maybe stir up a little attention that makes a few people have to answer a few awkward questions. And with the points I have now...I figure I probably need 20-30 points to lock up a spot in that tourney I can't play in! That could be 3 or 4 min cashes...or just one final table.

I'm excited, because I'm not going with any pressure to win. And I'm not selling any packages or pieces, playing for 100% on my own dime. If I win...great. If I don't win...no big deal, other than having to be away from my girls for 10 days...which always sucks. I fly out on Friday morning...get into STL at noon, with enough time to get over to the casino and registered for that day's event. I decided not to rent a car...so I won't be tempted to go sightseeing in Ferguson!

I guess that's it! If you're going to St Louis...I'll see ya there...otherwise, I'll see ya when I see ya! Hope your year is going great! And if your down here on the coast...have a wonderful MARDI GRAS!!!! 

MONKEY

Thursday, January 22, 2015

2015: So Far So Good!!!

Greetings! And Happy New Year! I know, once again, its been quite awhile since I posted anything here. One of the contributing factors to this, is that my 'o' key and my 'space' bar are both sticking on my Sony Vaio...which I've just learned, Sony has discontinued the manufacturing of! Perfect! Aspired for years to buy one...then buy one..and they quit making them. I suppose I could utilize the 'Geek Squad' thing I paid for and let them fix it...but somehow it always seems that when I try to do anything with Best Buy it NEVER ends well! And so...I just keep putting it off!

So wow, where to start? Poker? What is that? Haven't played a single hand since I last posted. Haven't watched any on TV...haven't read a blog. Zilch. In fact, my closest brush with poker was staking a couple friends in the tournament at the Beau Rivage. The guy I staked (name withheld out of respect) is a guy I've been friends with for awhile...who was up here trying to work, having been dealt a healthy dose of bad luck so far this year. I felt like being nice and offered to put him in something. He rewarded me buy making the final table, before busting out 8th. I was bummed for him. Me? I was just happy to double my buy in!

As for my other stake horse? Well, most of you probably already know who that was! The Claw...who continues to live under our roof. In her first event, she was the bubble. Ugh. Then the next three she just busted...all in pretty irritating fashion. I wasn't about to pony up $2500 for the main...but on her second try in the Mega satellite, she won...so we still got a shot. It went south. I believe she lost with JJ to some wacko judge who's claim to fame is playing any two cards, and not caring. He beat her with 4-8 off suit. Oh joy! I received that news while at sea, on our family cruise.
Always a good idea to give a little 'shout out' to your sponsors via wardrobe choices!
Yeah...cruise! Both Squirrel and I had never been on a cruise in our 40+ years. Joining us on the cruise was our mother and her friend, my sister and her friend, and Squirrel's mother...as well as Carley. So yeah...it was me and SEVEN females! 
The 7 Ladies of Carnival Dream!
About the ONLY bad thing that has occurred so far in 2015, was Alabama losing to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl...which we were there for. In fact, we got the 'royal treatment' from our friend Barth Melius, as his dad serves on the Sugar Bowl committee. We got to go down on the field before the game. And when Bama got out to a 21-6 lead, everything pointed to a berth in the NCG game. But we all know how things turned out there. Not good. I sucked up my pride, and tweeted out my congratulations to the Ohio State fans. They showed their true skill and grit when they went out and pretty much smoked Oregon...winning the National Championship. We  watched from the Lido Deck on the Carnival Dream...with a little sadness, but knowing we lost to the eventual champion was some consolation I guess. 

 



Bama may have lost....and once again fell short of the goal of NT #16...and it looks like we may be losing Offensive Coordinator Lane Kiffin to the Niners...but we did quickly pick up  commitments from the best cornerback and one of the top RB's along with a top-notch DE...to keep the factory at Alabama rolling in the wins. Just sucks having to wait for the next season to start.

The new Monkey Mobile!
Also in the first few days of 2015...I made a tough decision. I traded in my 2004 Toyota 4-Runner...which has been a great car to me...for a 2015 Chevy Tahoe LTZ. Yep...it is a beast! Fully loaded, and just huge inside! Carley loves it, Squirrel loves it...and I love it. I rented one a few months ago when I took mine in for some minor body work...and instantly was hooked. I think the thing I  love the most about it? My 4-Runner, for all its positives, was VERY loud at speeds over 60mph. And it drove me bananas. It also had 'that little rattle' that came from the back seat, and one from the drivers-side door. Me and rattles? Oh...we do NOT get along well!!! So, this new car? At 105 mph...Cheryl and I  are practically whispering to each other! It is like a library in there! No rattles, no creaks, nothing! And the bluetooth, hands-free action? Love it. Bottom line!?? I  am NOT regretting the decision one bit. I also haggled like a mother to get my payment down to a number that when I told Squirrel, elicited an actual raising of the eyebrows! If you are married, you know how HUGE that is!!!!

Our new  house is awesome. I have to give all the credit to Squirrel and Claw...as they have made all the interior design decisions...and all I've had to do is hand over the debit card! The one and only drawback, is the busy road right behind our house...Squirrel says its like living in a road side hotel! But we will only be here until about October...when we will be moving into our OWN house, finally! The taxes are paid  for 2013 and 2014...and we are now finally 'qualified' on paper to be 'allowed' to stop renting! Thank heavens! Now I guess the tough part will be deciding where we want to live. And knowing Squirrel...it's going to have to be just perfect!

Pulling into New Orleans after a great 7-day trip...too bad our 'welcome party' included one of New Orleans' least finest.
So we got back from our Western Caribbean cruise on Sunday morning...pulling into New Orleans after 7 days of absolute bliss. We took two great adventures, one in Cozumel, the other in Isla Rotan, Honduras...which was the definite highlight of the trip. My daughter Carley...loves 'ooh ooh, ahhh ahhh'  which is the sound monkeys make. She has several stuffed ones.Well, we booked an excursion where we went on a nature hike...and came upon 'Monkey Town' where these monkeys would come right up to you....sit on your shoulders, even head...and just interract with you. It was really cool.. Carley just loved it...and didn't stop talking about it for....well, she STILL hasn't!


Pretty obvious that ALL monkeys like the Seahawks!



After that, we met the moms at a semi-secluded beach that the cruise only issued 110 excursions to, getting us away from the overly crowded beach that most of the cruise passengers opted for...and it was simply amazing. It really looked and felt like Tahiti. White sand beaches, beautiful blue water...and a coral reef right off shore that you could snorkel around. We met lots of nice people also. And Squirrel and I even got 30 minute table massages ON THE BEACH! (in the shade!!! we aren't stupid!) 


On the last day at sea, I treated my mom and Cheryl both to 'Top To Toes' treatments at the ships spa. They both came back looking like jello, claiming it to be the best thing they'd ever experienced...which made me happy. Meanwhile, Carley and I were having a blast on the water slides. Followed by a  round of putt putt golf! 

Tackling the Monster Slide with Carley!!!

I think about all the things Carley has done in just under 3 years...and it makes me proud. I love seeing that little smile on her face. The only thing I regret, is that I don't think you remember much from before you are 5 years old...so I'm sad that she won't remember most of the adventures she's been on. Oh well, there are worse things in life, I guess!
Which one is Carley? Both? Nope...the one on the right is Squirrel! Wow!!!!
One of the most amazing things (I thought) on the cruise,  was the way our room would get serviced two, sometimes three times a day. And not ONCE....did a maid/housekeeper knock on our door, like they ALWAYS seem to do at EVERY hotel I ever stay at. It's like they had a secret camera that would tell them when we were out. And whenever we came back...we were greeted by an animal created out of towels...with two little stick-on buttons that served as eyes. Our favorite, was the monkey, that was left hanging from the curtain rod!!!! No kidding! Again...Carley ate that up!
On nature walk in Honduras..Carley kept asking when we were going to see "oooh ohhh ahhh ahh' which is what she calls monkeys!
The food was everywhere! No one starves on a cruise! And there was entertainment everywhere as well, we took in a few good shows, saw some Karaoke, some piano bar, and some comedy. The moms did a little gambling in the casino. I never stepped foot in there. They had poker, but it was through those machines...where you have no dealer...and the rake on cash games was 15%...so I said 'no thanks' and stuck to the reason I was there...being with my family, and enjoying the cruise! 

There was very little I could say anything negative about. We are very excited about doing it again, I know that for sure! 

So...its always nice when you spend 7 days being happy, and being surrounded by pleasant people, right? Well...then you come home!

My mother and their group wanted to see my new car, as well as say goodbye to us. So once we all exited the ship, and got our baggage, I told them I'd get the car and drive around to where they were waiting. Great. Did that. Drove car around...spot them, and pull up in front of them. I am greeted by an angry-looking black lady in Sheriff uniform, asking me if I was loading or unloading?

"No, we just finished our 7-day cruise, and I'm just going to say goodbye to my family right there, as they are going to the airport to fly back to Seattle. I'll be just a minute."

Oh no! She had a major issue with that. Got very ugly, and for what reason? I mean...really...what reason did she have to be a bitch? Cars were standing all around us. She kept hollering about calling her supervisor. I told her that's a good idea. "What? Are you saying you AREN'T going to move your car then?" (obvious attempt to bait me into something she could actually charge me with) "No, that's 100% NOT what I'm saying. I'm saying you should call your supervisor over...so I could discuss with him your attitude, and your insistence to not let us simply say goodbye to our family."

Oh well, she went right on ranting and raving...obviously making no attempt to get her supervisor over. Instead what she did manage to accomplish was upsetting my family, and getting Squirrel all fired up wanting me to just get in the car and leave. Of course, I did...but once I did, there was no opening to get back into...so I had to listen to ALL OF THEM chirping at me now. I asked the lady for her badge number, so I could file a complaint against her. "I aint gonna give you my badge number!!!" Of course you aren't. 

Wow...welcome back to New Orleans! And people wonder why I loathe most of the citizens of that city? Not exactly how I wanted my day to start...but there it was.

Oh...it got better. I think you all know I'm a huge Seattle Seahawks fan...and are aware of the year, and the run, we had last year. Well, starting out the year 3-3 wasn't exactly what I had envisioned...but the 7 game winning streak to close out  the season was pretty awesome. And they looked, to me anyway, better than the team from last year. Well, all that ended when I sat through the absolute worst half of football that I think I'd ever seen  from the Seahawks. 16-0...and it should have been worse. Russell Wilson was 1 for 8...with 3 INT's. They committed 8 penalties, most of them stupid. It was looking like my birds were going to go out  like Bama did...one game from the big one. We were home in Biloxi by then...and I  was mostly watching from our bedroom...and hiding from the family.

Then...magic happened. And there is no need to give you the play-by-play...as I'm sure you all watched it, or at least caught the highlights. I did things, dances and whoops mostly...that I will never be able to remove from the eyes and memory of my family and some other friends who were here. I don't care. It was unbelievable what I was watching happen. But when we scored, to take the lead...I noticed there was 1:25 on the clock...and it took me back three years...to that game in Atlanta...when we scored against the Falcons after trailing huge early in the game...to take a 2-pt lead, but left Matt Ryan about the same exact amount of time to work with...and he promptly marched them down for a game-winning FG and a berth in the NFC Championship game...which they lost to the Niners. That was all I could think about. Then we went for two..and made it, on a desperation heave! Oh thank god! 


And..well, the rest is history. They got their game-tying FG as I feared they would...but then Russell Wilson took over in OT....and all of Seattle went crazy! Consecutive trips to the Super Bowl! A chance at history. Against one of my all-time favorite QB's in Tom Brady. The line is currently about even...which just adds to the luster of the matchup. Top offense vs top defense...just like last year...and we KNOW how that turned out! I don't have any predictions, hell I'm just tickled to be there again! And have the chance! Last year, it was a tipped pass from Richard Sherman that got us there...this year, a miracle finish that included an onsides kick, and a two-pt conversion. It happened three days ago and I'm still floating around on Cloud 9! 

As for the game? Would I like to go? Sure! Can I afford to go? Probably, yeah. But will I? Naw. That's just obscene to pay that much to see a football game. ANY football game. I think the most I will ever pay to see any game is $500. Anything over that just feels irresponsible. And its always almost better on TV anyway. And so...this morning, The Claw announced that we will be having an EPIC Super Bowl Party at our new home...which just happens to be perfect for staging parties in! The owner, for whatever reason...decided she didn't want to deal with a big back yard...and so 85% of the back yard is one gigantic deck! Complete with wrap around benches around the trees. Perfect for sticking one of our big screens on! It will be a great party, to be sure. And one thing Claw and Squirrel are good at? Hosting parties! So I think our Super Bowl Sunday will be fantastic!


As for poker? Well..I am maybe, possibly, going to request permission from Squirrel to go down to Palm Beach and play that event down there. I currently sit in 16th place still in the WSOP Freeroll standings, and while I've managed to make no headway with the WSOP people on getting my ridiculous '86' lifted at Horseshoe Hammond...which is preventing me from playing at  ANY Caesar's-owned casinos, it would still make me proud to qualify as one of the Top 50. That and I am kind of itching to play some tournaments, and see some of my buddies. The only other event I want to play is the one in LA...in March, at the Bicycle Club. That one is probably not as likely though as Palm Beach. We'll see. 

As for the WSOP, itself? Well...they say sometimes in life all you have to do is wait some things out. That may be just what this little stand off with them comes down to. I'll just tell you all, in fact show you...the letter I got back from the Horseshoe in Hammond after submitting my request for reinstatement. You might not notice, but the date on the letter they sent back to me was dated February 2012! And was signed by the Security Manager who hasn't worked there in a year and a half. Yeah...a lot of consideration and time went into that decision, huh!??? Pretty obvious they have orders from above that under NO CIRCUMSTANCES is Will Souther to be reinstated. I mean...when they just reach into the file cabinet, grab a letter from two or three years ago, make a copy of it, and mail that to you? Please! Give me a break! 
To view the ridiculous/hilarious part of this letter, click on it to expand it to full size.
And don't think I didn't call the current security manager to inquire about it. That was a real 'fun' conversation...one filled with questions asked by me that were answered with, well, nothing that made any sense. Yeah, it was both frustrating and angered me...despite staying calm and trying over and over to get something out of her. Yeah...its pretty easy to see, the 'Jam Job' is definitely on in this case! I asked her...did they get the letter from the female dealer who got this whole mess started in the first place? The letter claiming she had made a mistake? And wanted me exonerated? Yeah! They did! She admitted. Did it matter? Nope! Why? Because, she claims a 'committee' of casino representatives made the decision to not reinstate me. When asked what 'representatives' those were...she couldn't really answer that. And I asked, since I'd never played any games on their casino floor, how could there possibly be any 'representatives' from the casino outside of poker who would have an opinion on me either way?

Bottom line? I got f-u-c-k-e-d by the one and only person at the WSOP who has the ability and the power to actually fuck me.  To that...I say this: FINE! You win, big boy! Congratulations! Your one last dying wish as a poker tournament supervisor was to see me ousted from your events? Well, you did it! Way to go! You can now die a happy man!

But the whole 'waiting things out' theory? Well...just so happens a few things are going on behind the scenes. For one...Caesars just filed for bankruptcy. Shocker...as most of us knew they were broke and swimming in debt for years now. But one of the top people at the WSOP was recently let go. That man just happened to be the table games manager at Rio. You know? The place that annually hosts the WSOP? Why did this happen? I suppose its because they are going to be forced to sell the Rio this year...which means this is going to be the last year the WSOP is played at Rio. Where is going to end up? Probably at Planet Hollywood...right there on the strip...with all that abundance (I'm joking) of parking! And it just so happens...that a certain person who serves as Table Games manager at Planet Hollywood will likely assume the position left vacant by the guy who was let go recently. And oh...wait! Guess who might have a thing or two against a certain TD from the WSOP? 

Oh....I'm sure I've given you plenty to chew on. See...poker? It is not what I live for. It doesn't shape me,  or personify who I am. I don't NEED poker to be happy or thrive. In fact...about the only time I am happy with poker? Is when I'm sitting at a final table...that IS the justification for putting up with all the rampant bullshit that just seems to always persist in the world of poker as we know it. Yes, I've met a lot of really wonderful people in the world of poker...and they know who they are, and we remain friends. But they know exactly what I'm talking about...and exactly the things, and the people that I am alluding to, and am pretty sure they all agree with me for the most part. 

So lets just sit back...and lets see what happens to certain people that are working in the poker world. Lets see where the WSOP ends up. Will they even stay with Caesar's? Or will they be bought out by someone else? Who would surely get rid of all the current management...because we all know...companies don't buy up other companies so that they can retain their managers. I am extremely patient! And I've got plenty of years left on this planet! And in the meantime...there are PLENTY of places I can go and spend my money playing poker tourneys! If the urge should happen to hit me to do so!

I hope you are ALL (even you haters!) having a GREAT 2015 so far!!! 

MONKEY

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Is There Such a Thing as 'Good' Torture vs. 'Bad Torture?'

No, this is not a blog about the torture of sitting through 8-10 hours of a poker tourney...not sure if you're going to maintain that consistent stack you've seemed to keep a grip on all day...or if you're about to be derailed by that 'orbit from hell' where you get hit once, twice, then a third time by 2 and 3-outers to wreck you for good, leaving you wondering why the fuck, exactly, it is that you play tournament poker.

Nope. Not one of those.

Oh, and for the jerkoff who thinks your comments bother me? Yeah, you! The one and only guy..the same guy...every time...dude, honestly? Why do you waste your time? Really? Are you that sad, and lonely, and miserable? Is your blog envy that bad, for real? I hope you know I log on expecting, almost HOPING, you have left another one of your comments for me to laugh at. Thanks for not letting me down tonight...as I haven't posted anything in a while. One time...to prove your something other than a weasel...why don't you leave your name and phone number. I'll call you...we can chat about your issues. It'll be nice. Maybe go get a cup of coffee and talk about your insecurities in life.

When I last left off, I was going up to Baton Rouge to play that MSPT event. It was basically the same approximate field size. Same caliber of players. Another solid crew of dealers...and the MSPT staff were very friendly and accommodating. I sped up there...arrived almost  on time...and proceeded to play until midnight...never really got a ton of chips, but always had a decent number that would have given me a shot. But had two levels of just one calamity after another that left me living in 10-15 BB-Land...and that is the worst. Then I just ran into a better hand and was busted late in Day 1. I didn't come back the next day for the 2nd flight because we couldn't find a babysitter...and frankly, I just didn't feel like making that drive again. The eventual winner was someone I've never heard of before. Good for him.

The past month has really just been spent preparing for Christmas...which includes a LOT of shopping, and a lot of decorating! Also been working out a lot with my trainer, I just completed my 22nd session with her today. Not sure how much weight I've lost...not a lot I don't think, but I feel fantastic. Meanwhile...'The Claw' who has been living with us now for most of the year..and who a lot of people noticed packed on a lot of weight while dating a guy in Baton Rouge last year who kind of encouraged her to 'let it go?' Well she has been a total banshee in the gym...and with her diet...and has lost over 50 lbs since the spring. She looks great...and you can tell her self-esteem is through the roof. I'm happy for her. And I think it's rubbed off on the Squirrel because she joined her 4 days this week at the gym. Some of that has to do,probably, with the fact we are going on a cruise in January for a week. None of us have ever been on a cruise, so we're pretty excited about that.

One bad thing? The National Title game is Monday the 12th! Our cruise is from the 11th to the 18th! Ouch! I got my Sugar Bowl tickets from my buddy in New Orleans, who's dad is a big wig with the Sugar Bowl committee...pretty sure they're almost the same tickets we got last year for that rather meaningless game against Oklahoma...but this year? Oh baby! Ranked #1...and playing Ohio State...my $250 seats are going for $800-$1200 on StubHub! Not that I'd EVER think about selling them. No freaking way! But I sure wish we were playing Florida State...because I was REALLY hoping to see Alabama smash that Winston into the turf and end their winning streak and send them back to Tallahassee in ruins! But maybe they'll play in Dallas. I hate FSU and that QB...but say this about them...they might be winning ugly every week this season...but damned if they figure out a way to win. I think that 9.5 point line against Oregon is WAY too high. As for the 9.5 point line for Bama against Ohio State? Tough to tell. Really kind of hard to know what exactly Ohio State is, now with their 3rd QB.  Did Wisconsin just not get enough time to prepare and scout that guy? You know Saban will! Either way...it's going to be awesome!




Been working a LOT on this Fantasy Draft site...as one of the people at the top of the food chain, I've been able to get a TON of referrals, and if they ever get things working right...I might actually make a decent living off of it. The first official weekend last week was kind of a trainwreck...with their servers running really really slow. But they did the classy move of not only paying EVERYONE that got into the money for their guarantees, but anyone who DIDN'T make the money? They all got refunds. Very cool! I'll just be psyched when things are running smooth and the referral money comes rolling in!

Okay...to address the topic of my subject line. And yeah...this will get a little political, so you've been warned. This past month or two...with the mid-term elections, with the racial tensions, the rioting over police actions...its been a pretty crazy time to be debating with people...and my Facebook has gotten a major workout.

The topic of torture has been pretty hot the last few days, since our Democrat-led House and Senate (until January) decided it would be a wonderful idea to come out with a report they charged us taxpayers $40m to prepare...detailing all of our actions in the clandestine services, those being CIA, NSA, FBI and some branches of the Special Forces. All of them having to do with spying...or the interrogation of prisoners of war.

From one side of the street, we hear the cries of those who think it is NEVER right to use pain and suffering to get to the truth. Ever. From anyone. That its a blatant violation of human rights, and only makes someone just as bad as the person they are questioning. I get that. Fine. And trust me, I wasn't the kid who sat around with a magnifying glass burning ants when I was bored for kicks. I know there are a faction of people who think that to be in the torture business, you have to be a bit of a sick fuck with oddball wiring.

From the other side of the street, we have those who most of the time deem themselves as PATRIOTS...defenders of our nation...at any price. You fuck with us...we will fuck with YOU! You drop our towers, and kill 3000 people, and we catch you...you will suffer all consequences. Period. You know those people, correct?

Where do I fall? I'd like to say, somewhere in between the two. For one...I happen to know for a fact, that the majority of Americans are shielded from a lot of what is really going on in this world. There is a damn good reason why our military and parts of our government don't cue us in on what is going on 24/7/365. For our own damn good!  Parents...who have 15-18 year old girls. Question? You are pretty sure your daughter is having sex right? You know it...in your heart of heart you know it. But do you WANT to know ABOUT IT? Hell no you don't. So you maybe convince yourself that it isn't happening.

Americans are a people living in a world of instant gratification. Few of us struggle for something to keep us entertained or occupied. As long as we can come home from work, turn on Wheel of Fortune, eat our dinner...and catch up on what everyone did at work or school that day....our lives are normal. Then we go to bed, spend a couple hours on Facebook 'catching up' and that's our day. Day after day, after day. Right? 

Then you have people like me. I don't work 9-5 (thank god). I'm lucky. I watch a TON of news. And read a LOT of books, mainly the stuff of authors like Tom Clancy (RIP) Vince Flynn, and David Balducci. A lot of military-based novels, and counter-insurgency novels...with a lot having to do with the current state of affairs in the world as it pertains to terrorism and spies. Most of what I read is fairly dialed in to what is going on in a very real fashion. And one of the things I read a lot about is torture...or as it is being popularly labeled, E.I.T.'s....or Enhanced Interrogation Techniques. I think my favorite of the bunch of techniques is the 'Rectal Re-hydration Therapy.' Huh? Is that what I think it is? Sounds like an enema to me. Now...if you've ever gone tubing behind a boat at high speeds...you are completely aware of how unsettling an enema can be!

We have all been made aware of the pleasantries that waterboarding provides. 'Simulated drowning.' Was this report that Diane Feinstein, a Democrat from California, really something that NEEDED to come out? And god forbid...it was released at the EXACT same time that they happened to be grilling Public Enemy #1 on Capitol Hill? That little ferret Jonathan Gruber...who had the audacity to call Americans stupid (as if most of us didn't already KNOW what Obama and his health insurance cronies were pulling on us) numerous times in speech engagements, only to have it blow up in his face? Yeah...for any of you that are actually paying attention to your nation, and your government, and do not have your face buried in your 'Candy Crush' game while eating your bowl of Coco Puffs, this is all some very infuriating shit that is going on these days!

I used to kind of look up to my Congressional and Senatorial leaders...as well as my Presidents. Not any more. They are probably more immature and pathetic then any 8 year old I've ever met. All the wonderful HOPE I had with Obama coming in...with his youth, his enthusiasm, his great ideas....pffft....those sure turned out to be a joke! Now all I'm doing is counting down the months til we finally get rid of his ass. The only thing I fear is...who the hell is going to take his place? Really? I mean...who is any better? If Hillary somehow gets elected? Fuck it! I quit! 

But back to this Torture thing. I'm going to make my point by using what to me...is a very clear cut example between the two TYPES of torture, as it pertains to who it is being administered to. 

You may have seen John McCain testifying last week about how effective (or ineffective as he claimed it to be) the use of torture is/was in gaining useful intelligence, and then he recounted his own experiences in Vietnam, when he was held as a POW for 5 years. Well,  obviously, as a soldier who was captured the way he was captured (TO READ ABOUT HIS CAPTURE AND TORTURE CLICK HERE: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2008/01/28/john-mccain-prisoner-of-war-a-first-person-account) after having his plane shot down, and then treated the way he was treated, it would be damn easy for someone like him to come to the conclusion that torture was NOT an effective way to gain whatever it was they were hoping to gain from their prisoners.

The Vietnamese, after all...had been trained in the art of torture from their communist masters, the Soviet Union, whose forms of torture became legendary through the actions of the KGB...and still persist to this day. There is a damn good reason NO SOLDIER ever wanted to be captured by the Russians.

When you are in the US Military, you are programmed to give up nothing but your name, rank, serial number and date of birth if you are captured. Period. But aside from that, any mission that is ever undertaken sees to it that the men performing that mission know almost as little as humanly possible about the mission objective, for that reason alone. You can't talk about that which you know nothing about. So during the Vietnam War...these pilots were getting orders to bomb coordinates without knowing what exactly it was they were bombing...only that they were supposed to bomb there.

So you get shot down. They gather you up. Beat the fuck out of you. Then throw you in a dark, dank prison cell. Feed you like crap. Then once a day some sicko comes in and starts pulling your finger nails from your hand. Or hooking up the jumper cables to a battery and shocking the shit out of you.  Or burning you with cigarettes. Oh...torture in Vietnam was a real picnic. But here's the shit of it. These soldiers? Most of them? They didn't have anything useful to tell those fuckers. Because they didn't KNOW ANYTHING useful! The only reason they kept McCain alive as long as they did...was because his father was a damn Admiral, and was in charge of the whole damn Pacific fleet...otherwise they'd have killed him...as they did so many other POW's who they figured out were useless to them after first torturing for days, weeks and months. See...these VietCong motherfuckers? They weren't very smart. In fact...they were downright stupid as shit.

Fast forward to 2001. We in the United States have professional psychologists who have been employed in the field of interrogation. We also have intelligence professionals who for years did nothing but track terrorists...through their banking records, to their actual activities abroad. When 9/11 happened, it finally brought everything to bore. All rules of engagement as we knew them ENDED that day. The gloves came off. And not that I ever hope it will happen...but I almost expect it to. The day one of these pricks sets off a dirty bomb in one of our major cities? Oh boy....hold on...there will be some brand new glass parking lots popping up over in ISIL Land! Because we Americans? We aren't to be fucked with.

So yeah...torture? The war against terrorism was ON! Dragging these fuckers out of caves. Finding them hiding in spider holes...eventually, one after another we started plucking these fuckers from their hiding places. Or taking them alive in gun battles. Some were taken to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Some were snuck off to 'black houses' throughout Europe, to be questioned for actionable intelligence. What I'm driving at here? Is that of the prisoners we captured? Almost ALL OF THEM knew exactly what the hell they were doing...why they were doing it, and who they were doing it FOR.They weren't an organized army of soldiers who were simply following orders. No..these were nothing but terrorist sworn to carry out acts of death to all infidels, period.

These pricks all KNEW SOMETHING. And since it was always a race against time...there was always the sense of urgency in finding out what was going to be hit next. These guys? They don't hit you with invading forces. They don't commit ground troops, or mobile units...no...they hide in the hills. They sneak explosive devices into the roads. They infiltrate by dressing up as a GOOD guy only to turn a gun on who they consider the BAD guys....us!

When will people in this country wake the fuck up to what ISLAM is truly about? There is NO PEACE with ISLAM. We are not ALLOWED to exist in their way of thinking. You can't reason with that way of thinking. Am I supposed to extend the hand of basic human rights to someone who's only goal in life...their SINGLE SOLITARY REASON FOR LIVING....is to KILL ME and everyone LIKE ME!????  Are you kidding me? For you pacifists who want to talk about how 'shameful' it is to waterboard these assholes? How bout the people on the 90th floor of the World Trade Center who had a decision to make? Stand there and get burned alive...or jump out of a fucking window? If you knew you could prevent an attack like that by twisting this fuckers arm and fingers until he gave you the name of his operative...wouldn't you?

The torture being used by our agents is NOTHING compared to what the Russians employed for the past 100 years, or what they have taught their underlings like the Koreans and the North Vietnamese. 

As a matter of fact...where the shit REALLY hits the fan...and they get an AMPLE warning before we go this route...is when the Sodium Pentothal comes out. Some people refer to this as 'Truth Serum.' Originally designed in the 50's, this chemical has been refined and improved through the years...to the point that it is now practically been weaponized. Large doses on a typical human's brain has been known to leave the subject about 3 quarts short of a full gallon. Yeah...it turns a brain to mush. And these guys KNOW IT. So...it's a pretty easy tactic to pull out the needle, and start letting these guys know that whatever they know better start coming out now if they want their brain to stay intact. And while they could be easily just spouting lousing intel...telling us what we think we want to hear? We have people who are so well trained, that it's become a lot easier to sort out the factual info from the bullshit. Additionally, we will have assets on the ground in certain locations to verify these discoveries made during interrogation. Or to disprove them. 

Was releasing this report harmful? Of course it was. Did releasing it help our nation? Fuck no! Was it a total political ploy engineered by the Obama administration to shed negativity on the previous Republican administration (Bush) and win back some love from the Democratic voters? Looks like it! Some people are screaming TRAITOR at Obama and Feinstein for pulling this shitshow. And it is not too far from the truth. Our buddies in Al Qaeda have already announced their plans to retaliate for the reports details. Granted...it appears as though no actual agents covers have been blown, thank god. Or if they have...we just haven't been made privy to that information. I'm not writing this to express my political views, or what I believe is the correct path of action to take from a position of foreign affairs. My motivation, is to address the use of 'Interrogation techniques' to provide safety and security for our nation!

I think in the 3 or 4 years following 9/11...Americans were completely on board with whatever it took to bring these assholes to justice. Then Iraq 'happened.' Then things just dragged on, there and in Afghanistan. Things at home settled down. There were no acts of terrorism on American soil (for which we should THANK our agencies, instead of castigate them!) and suddenly, Americans were getting into that old...familiar...mode...COMPLACENCY. Time to start worrying about who is offending who with the stupidest shit possible. Am I not right? Have the past two or three years not just seemed like one big cluster fuck of who is feeling the most offended? No one can say anything or do anything without SOMEONE getting their poor feelings hurt, and subsequently, someone gets sued, fired, or their career destroyed. Meanwhile...ISIL is whacking off people's heads because they like being Christian!

So is our BIGGEST PROBLEM some asshole being waterboarded because we want him to tell us what his band of idiots is going to blow up next? I'm getting really sick of this SOFT bunch of politicians we have working in DC. Do they stand for what YOU believe in? For what you WANT out of our military? Out of our national security? They sure as hell aren't hearing ME! Just watch! These mealy-mouth slimeballs in DC are going to get so caught up in their little US vs. THEM battle between the Democrats and Republicans that when they aren't looking? BOOM! They are going to be blindsided by the next attack. And this one? You can bet it will be as bad or WORSE than 9/11 was. And on that day? On that week? During those months? What will they be saying then? Will they regret their actions finally? Will they feel like they let all of us down with their bickering, and posturing and political maneuvering?  Personally....I'm praying like hell that it doesn't come to that. But like any good poker player who has played millions of hands in the past...you just KNOW...in your gut...when something is about to go down. 

I will end there. 

Monkey

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Off the Bench, Off to Baton Rouge...MSPT.

It's been kind of a strange month in poker...and I haven't even played a single hand, live or online. But that will all end this weekend when I traipse on up to Baton Rouge for a return engagement to that beautiful boat casino on the Mississippi River. They call it The Belle of Baton Rouge. If 'Belle' means 'pile of shit' in some other language, it's one I haven't learned yet...but it would be an accurate title. Frankly, I'm amazed that place actually floats.

I'm sorry, I've really tried to tone down my assault on all things horrible, ugly, annoying and irritating the last couple or few years...but some things are just impossible to not make mention of.

Like that salesgirl at the sports store in the mall in Biloxi the other day. After addressing me as y'all when it was clear I was all by myself (a big faux pas in Southern-speak) then struggling to comprehend what I needed her to do when the size I wanted was about 15 feet in the air on a rack. (it's called a hook on a stick!) But then when it came time to pay for my new piece of Alabama apparel, the most pressing thing in her world was needing to know the location of the hangar that the jacket came off of. Huh? The hangar? I don't know. Maybe over by where the jacket used to be located?

"Oh, okay...I was just wondering if you knew where it was cuz I'm gonna have to go find it now."

So many great comebacks were sifting through my mind. But then I realized where I was. A sad, lonely, half-leased mall in Biloxi, Mississippi, where...as I walked through the place, was overtly aware of the depressing facial expressions on the faces of those poor souls that were working there. It's like you could read their minds.

"My life sucks. This blows. I can't believe I'm working in a fucking mall...making $8.50 an hour...to stand around, bored. I'm not even making commission."

And it dawned on me how any witty or clever comment I made to this dipshit behind the counter would either be wasted, or completely miss the mark. Like taking shots at your own shadow. Pointless.

I fear I've gotten sidetracked. That seems to happen to me a lot. Oh well.

Speaking of malls, and any place you park your car...where other people are also parking their cars; have you noticed that there is a certain kind of person who backs their car into their parking space? No matter where they are? Mall, grocery store, gym, stadium, restaurant, night club, fabric store!!!!??? It could even be one of those places that have the angled parking...and they will drive down the wrong-way so that they can get that stupid back-in parking move accomplished....then when leaving, drive right back out the wrong way. You could say this drives me insane. That and the idiots and assholes that insist on walking IN through the EXIT and OUT through the ENTRANCE at places like Wal-Mart. And if there is anything worse than that...it's the pricks who give you that shitty look...as if to say, "you ARE going to step out of my way ARENT you!???" To which I have always got about 20-25 saucy one-liners to hit them with, but alas...being in the place I live...they are almost always wasted on the ignorant.

Alabama is the team I root for. On Saturday we beat the #1 ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs...and have reclaimed the #1 spot in the rankings...with a big rematch against the team who destroyed our shot at THREE National titles in a row last season...when, while sitting in Jordan-Hare with Squirrel and my sister...one of the most replayed and unlikely plays in football history transpired before our very eyes...the 'kick-six' from Auburn's Chris Davis that beat the Tide on enemy turf. Yes, we should have won. Yes, our kicker sucked. But we didn't. We lost. It was a very painful and long walk back to our car. We encountered a lot of Auburn fans...and they were mostly classy, as we were to them.

"Congratulations. You guys played a great game. Good luck the rest of the way. See you next season."

There is a thing about rooting for a team who is mostly great every season. People of other teams experience the highest of highs when they beat you. You have to appreciate that. It's more or less a show of respect. So when my team has a big game coming up...I try really hard not to talk a lot of shit leading up into the game...because eating your words is a bitch. And when we win...it just comes with a great degree of satisfaction. And it's always enjoyed the most with mutual fans. I don't understand fans who need to seek out a fan of the losing team and get in their face with some bullshit taunting. For that reason right there...I find wide receivers and defensive backs to be the most annoying position players in football. What the fuck is their deal? Their jobs are to (a) catch the football and score touchdowns and (b) stop guys from catching passes and scoring touchdowns, right? Yes every first down or touchdown by a receiver we get either the 'first down' sign or dance...and every touchdown met with a jump into the stands, a collective chest bump...and occasionally, some jawing with the defensive back. And oh...don't let the fool MISS a ball..because then he insta-leaps up demanding a flag from the zebras for pass interference. There is NO WAY he could have just dropped the ball or not caught that pass. he HAD to have been interfered with, right!???

Conversely, a DB makes a play and in an act created I think to sell the back judge or ref that no pass interference occurred, they immediately go into their arms waving like an umpire in baseball signalling that the runner is safe. And when that happens, you will also occasionally see the douche getting in the face of the receiver who probably just dropped the ball, when the DB had nothing to do with breaking up the play at all. I always root for that guy to get burned on the very next play. I pretty much hate receivers and defensive backs.

Whooops...side-tracked again. There was meant to be a central theme in all this. And I think it occurred when we were attempting to pull out of the mall, with Carley in her car seat acting like a monkey with rabies...which is kind of how she's been acting the last month or so. It's making me and the Squirrel a mental wreck. Anyway...I was turned around trying to calm her down...when I look through my back window and see that a car has stopped right behind us. I look a little closer and notice a Miss St flag attached to the back window. Then, all of a sudden, the girl driving the car...who could have been your average worker at the Town Hall, or maybe a school teacher...suddenly flips me off and has this look of sheer anger on her face. I'm like....what the fuck!???

Then I realize I hadn't removed our flags from the 4-Runner that we put up on game day...and it was Monday. The flags that said 'Alabama' on them. I see...this girl was so upset about her team losing...that two days later, she found someone to take her anger out on. Fascinating. I no longer feel sorry for Mississippi State. In fact...I think I might have to root for Ole Miss now in the Egg Bowl!

So I came across an interesting little snippet via Poker News the other day...one in which Daniel Colman was being critiqued by the poker world for comments he made about Phil Hellmuth. Well, if you know anything about me...you know that Hellmuth is one guy I've always wished would sit down at my table so I could 'let er rip.' Unfortunately, I've never been that lucky. Sucks for me. If you didn't see the story...here is a link to it.


http://www.pokernews.com/news/2014/11/dan-colman-phil-hellmuth-19817.htm

It's funny...but the more I hear and read about this kid, the more I like him. I really identify with a lot of the things he has had to say about, well, poker in general, and the people who play the game. I've been soured to the game obviously the past few years due to the 'jam job' I've experienced by 'that guy' at Ceasar's/WSOP who seems to have made it his life mission to make my life hell. I've made enough friends who either deal or work as floor people to know just how fucked up the inside of poker is, sadly. The politics in poker are almost as bad or worse than those in Washington, DC. And as far as his comments about Hellmuth go? I could NOT agree with him more. And I've not only been in that situation before, but have seen that situation transpire, where I'm like...who the fuck is this guy to think he needs to stroll in and make like he's the man, like he's passing the torch or welcoming someone to 'the cool kids club?' 

Sorry...but nobody...I mean N-O-B-O-D-Y who has ever spent more than ten minutes with Phil Hellmuth (which, btw I have...albeit not at a poker table..but at an outside/pool bar down in Aruba one year when I was with Jeff Madsen, Chad Brown and Jason Young. We were watching a very tight college football game between USC and Oregon late in the season) and come away thinking he was the member of ANY cool kids club. Do I think he is a good poker player? Sure. Obviously. He's earned the right to be considered that. But to me...life is a hell of a lot more fucking important than having someone scratch the words 'here lies a great poker player' on your headstone. And as far as I can see...that is the ONLY thing that guy can expect to have on his. When my good friend Chad succumbed finally to cancer on July 1st this year...I don't think anyone even mentioned  what a good poker player Chad was. At least not any one who really KNEW Chad.

And speaking of losing close friends this year...dammit if I didn't just lose another one. And in kind of weird twist of fate...the last time I ever got to play baseball with Chad...this guy was there. On a day when we might have had 10 people at our game in the blazing heat of Arizona...along came this buddy of mine...a poker dealer and player who was living in the Phoenix area and who I loved hanging out with. I would NEVER ask a friend to come watch me play baseball or poker. But he always came to sweat me at a final table if he was around. And here he was at my baseball game.  He met all the guys on the team...that was one of the greatest bunch of guys I ever played with...and a lot of them, when finding out what happened to this guy, remembered him from that brief encounter.

A couple weeks ago...the night after Halloween in fact...my buddy Tony Dick left a strip club...with a girl on the back. Tony had been drinking. And he wasn't wearing a damn helmet. He'd had that Harley Davidson for only 3 months. I warned him every time we talked or texted each other...to PLEASE be careful...that its the bad drivers who would get you. He knew. He agreed. He promised to be careful. Tony was one of those guys who just kind of marched to his own beat. No one could really tell him what to do or how to live his life. I suppose it was because he was this way that I liked him so much. And it was because he was this way that he is no longer with us. I guess I'll kick his ass when I get to see him in the next life. He left that club...swerved for some reason...hit a curb, and was thrown from his bike. He landed on his head. The passenger, a girl (of course) was fine. Thankfully. He never regained consciousness and was taken off life-support a couple days later. 

I woke up on Sunday to a text message from my good friend Jennifer Gay...who was also very instrumental in rallying the poker world (players and dealers) to award Chad with a ceremonial WSOP bracelet, which we finally got to him in his hospital bed mere moments before he passed away...just in case any of you erroneously thought that was some kind of heroic act by the fine folks at the WSOP...it wasn't. In fact, I have it on pretty good authority that they were pretty miffed at how it all unfolded...feeling they were pressured to do it. You know what? Good!

Anyway...Jenn's text read:  "I'm sure you heard about Tony Dick's accident?" My heart sank. And I responded: "Please tell me he didn't crash on that fucking motorcycle. No..I haven't  heard anything." Then she told me the rest...and my circle of friends got a little smaller. 

So back to this Dan Colman business. Poker isn't that big of a deal. The players who play aren't that big of a fucking deal. It's a game. It's been around a long time. And it will be around when the players, dealers, floor staff and office grunts have long since come and gone and been replaced by other guys and gals in their place. His points of view are really pretty spot on in most of the things he has said. And now that there are SO many damn tournaments all over the world...who really remembers who wins these things? Other than the winners themselves, and the dorks who can spout off all the winners, the hands they played..and what they had for dinner after their big win! I mean...does anyone really aspire to be that Fruit Loop, anyway? I sure hope not! But I know those little booger-eating morons are out there...trust me, I see them at every event. They tend to hang out together in what they think are 'posses' but which the rest of us just regard as speed bumps to swerve around.

Do I think Daniel Colman might have used a little more grace, and perhaps a little better timing for where and when he delivered his 'message' to the rest of the poker world for them to digest and attempt to make sense of? Mmmm..yeah, undoubtedly I do. But keep in mind this 'kid' who just won about $23m SINCE JULY...is only 23! For being just 23 I give him a lot of credit for what took me 10 years of playing poker to really figure out. His comments strike me as coming from someone who is incredibly insightful and mature. But yeah, his timing and all that...maybe a little immaturity at work there. Or maybe, just maybe...this is a form of shock treatment he's delivering on all of us. A guy who seriously just doesn't give a shit what others think of him. Period. And if that's the case? Hey! Great...the poker wizards can feel free, I guess, to cast him as their 'bad guy' while trumpeting the usual 'poker pros' as their knights in shining armor. Yeah...I just chuckled to myself when writing that!

So, tomorrow, I am going to drive to Baton Rouge to play in the MSPT's 2nd event there at the Belle. In defense of MSPT...I really like the guy who runs their show. Brian Mileski has been really nice to me since the first time I played their event up there in February. He has emailed me often asking for ideas on how to make their tourneys more successful. I really appreciate that. And the fact that a tournament director is trying to make his product better by reaching out and asking players for input deserves a lot of respect. So, while I might not typically be that fired up to drive 2 hours to play a single event for $1100 that I could be out of in just an hour or two if things don't go right...it's a lot easier to do when I know the guy that's running the event is really counting on players like me to make the effort to get up there. So I would consider this 'giving something back' to the poker world. Maybe I'll get lucky and make the final table again...this time without having to rebuy. They have a flight A on Friday and a Flight B on Saturday...but Squirrel works on Saturday (she's off on Friday) so getting back up there for Flight B might be kind of tough. Their Day 2 is on Sunday and starts back at 10:30am...ouch...obviously not a big fan of that, but it's part of their strategy to not have to require players to be back on Monday. They try to market themselves to the 9-5 working man who only has the weekends to play poker. I guess I can understand that...whether I like it or not! It's really really tough if you are one of those Saturday 4pm players who makes it to the end of the night...at around 1 or 2am...and after bagging your chips have to be back 8 hours later. Brutal. So I'm hoping it goes like it did in February..minus my second buy in with a few minutes to spare before registration was closed! I got to take the next day off...then drove up Sunday morning...waking up along the way!!!

Fantasy Draft still hasn't kicked off yet. It has been holding freerolls every weekend for the past three weeks so at least the owner/operators are showing they appreciate everyone who has signed up so far by giving them a bunch of money to keep them inspired. I have topped 200 referrals now so I am VERY ready for things to go live...to see just HOW much can be realized from this new business. 

Squirrel and I (as well as 'The Claw' who has joined us in our new guest room) have gotten fully moved into our new home, just 2.5 miles from our old stomping grounds. There are things we like and don't like about it...but we are only here for a year most likely, then we will finally BUY our next residence. I payed my readjusted income tax for 2013 last week...will do the same for 2014 in a couple months...and we will then be fully qualified to get a mortgage. I've been doing that creditreport.com thing for the last 9 months and finally this month passed over 700 for the first time on all three of my scores! That made me quite pleased! And at the moment...we have enough in our nest egg to allow me to put down 20-25% when that time comes, and our one-year lease it up on this rental. So I guess between now and then we will just keep stashing money away for Carley's future and stuff we'll want when we get our OWN house. I'm excited. There is a chance we might move to North Alabama, to be close to Squirrel's family. Her mom is in Florence, and her brother and his three boys are in Athens...close to Huntsville. And she has relatives all over the place up there. We both agree it would be best for Carley to grow up with her family close to her. As far as me? I don't care where I live. I just want my wife to be happy, and my daughter to have the best life possible. For what I do in life, I could be living anywhere. 

Thanksgiving is next week. Not sure what we are doing. She always has to work at that damn casino. Maybe I'll whip up a turkey while she's at work and surprise her with a nice Thanksgiving feast when she comes home around 5pm. Of course...my Seahawks are playing on Thanksgiving...a huge game against SF at SF...one week after taking on the 1-loss Cardinals at home. Some huge games coming up! Then that Saturday its off to Tuscaloosa to stay with BJ McBrayer and attend the Iron Bowl. We weren't sure about leaving Carley overnight...so we experimented last night and let her stay the night with her babysitter/slash/daycare teacher Bobbie Sue..who Carley just loves. Well...it went great. And Squirrel and I got to have a 'date night' for the first time in god knows HOW long. We had a nice night...though we both really missed Carley...especially at bed time. But it went so well that we now have no qualms about leaving her with her to go see Alabama hopefully beat Auburn and clinch the SEC West title!

I have some more poker-related news to share...but this blog has gotten pretty long, and hopefully I will first have some good news to share about this weekend in Baton Rouge...and then later I will get to the 'news' that I'm not so excited about...but which is just another chapter in my life as a poker outcast.

I hope you all have a great weekend...and a safe, happy Thanksgiving next week!

MONKEY