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Friday, May 29, 2015

Annual Dreamers Flock to the Desert

If I was sadistic (okay, if I was REALLY sadistic) I would say this is my favorite week in poker, out of the entire year. I just wonder, scratching my chin, how many of you already know where this is headed!!!???

I decided last night while texting back and forth to my good buddy Kai Landry, that I had to post a blog about this subject. And I was going to do it last night...but dammit if Squirrel didn't slip me the melatonin long before I was ready to call it a night. After all, I had just won a 50/50 sit n go on Bovada good for $60, then smashed a guy heads up in an Omaha 8-b match for another $60...that is the one THING on Bovada I have been murdering lately, heads up Omaha-8 PLO matches. I think I'm something like 14-2 this week. And last, in my 3rd contest, a little $10 single table SNG...I was heads up...and close to even...I raise this guy, get re-raised...and shove on him with AQs...and he calls...with 46h. Are you similar to me? When you see that matchup...especially online...don't you just KNOW you're going to lose? I do. And I did. 2nd place. $27. Whatever. Then I passed out.

With Game 7 coming up in a few hours between my Rangers and the Lightning...it occurs to me that if I don't post this now...and the Rangers happen to lose, I will do my post-Super Bowl disappearing act, where I go into a social coma for about a week or two. So lets get this done! [Spoiler Alert...we lost, we fucking lost...2-0...shutout by the guy who gave up 7 goals in Game 6. Let the mourning period begin!]

So...what is it about this week in poker that I love, you ask? You know I'm about to tell you. It didn't used to be like this. When I started playing poker...and making my annual pilgrimage to Vegas for the yearly pursuit of riches, they didn't have Facebook. They had MySpace I think...but no one really used it, at least not in my circle of society. Twitter was something your heart did when your plane hit some turbulence. And the ability to shoot video on your phone was an emerging technology. Nope...the actual interaction with fellow poker players didn't really begin until you arrived in the hallowed halls of the Rio.

Those first couple weeks, everyone was very excited; it was common to see smiles on the faces of players as they walked through the corridors. The pockets of players had that familiar 'bulge' in the left front pocket (no! They weren't just happy to see me!)...as they toted around their 'summer poker roll.' 

Then the games began. And when you have THAT many people playing THAT  much poker, what inevitably happens is that ALL that money ends up going to a small percentage of people. And probably half of those people end up losing that money...maybe to poker, maybe to the casino itself, maybe to other vices like strippers, drugs or club life. The smiles in the hallways turn to long faces, even frowns. The murmurs about bad beats echo in every room of the place. There really is no place to escape them. Not the cafeteria, not the bathroom, and certainly not the poker table itself. 

Every player seemed to think their would actually be a welcoming ear to hear about them going out three from the money when their AK lost to two fours. No buddy...sorry...no one cares. Wait. Did I have 60% of your action? No? Okay...just checking. Yeah...don't care.

And this was how it went...for about 4 or 5 years. Then, along came Facebook, and soon after that, Twitter...which I was (admittedly) late to the party in joining,  and still am not a prolific Tweeter.

Now what we see...every year...in the final week of May...and the first week of June....is the same thing. It's awesome, hilarious, and comical. And then...when you think you've weathered it...it flairs up again in the first week of July...when those unable to spend the whole summer in Vegas arrive to play the Main Event....all of them thinking it is THEIR year to win it. Then you spend the entire week perusing through the posts...most of them consolation speeches, to those remaining, as they have 'gracefully bowed out' of the competition. 

There are a few different 'kind' of people who travel the globe to come to Sin City to chase the riches that poker has to offer at the WSOP...as well as all the other 'junior circuit' events scattered all over Las Vegas each summer. At the top of my hit list, are the Euros. They seem to come with bankrolls they've been saving up all year. Might as well just call it the bottomless bankroll...because nothing about how they play would ever suggest that there is an end to their ability to rebuy. When I sit down at a table, and see a guy (or two or three) with that fucking scarf wrapped around their neck and/or face....I get nervous and irritated. And just really annoyed. 



Or a guy with that ONE sweatband on his arm. That guy is usually from somewhere like Germany...or even South America (think Colombia or Argentina). And frankly, South Americans are almost as bad. I just always assume they all come from Cocaine Cartels and never run out of money either.

In fairness, this guy probably NEEDS the sweatband!
Then you get some of your Americans. The ones who are new to the experience are incredibly easy to pick out, and my favorite. They are the ones walking around looking for 'big name' poker players who they can photograph, or get autographs for 'their mom who is a big fan of theirs.' These guys always make me laugh too. Why? Well, mainly because these 'idols' of theirs...are usually so deep into makeup that they'd happily change places with that guy asking for their autograph. Additionally, it always makes me cringe when I'm at the table with a guy like Greg Raymer and some clown says..."Wow, if I have to give my chips to anyone, I hope its you Greg! I'm a huge fan!" Yo...dickwad, why are you even here? I mean, if you didn't come to win, just give me your fucking chips, fanboy!

Sorry, but poker is not this glamorous profession a lot of people think it is. It's kind of the dirty little secret about poker. When they say 'Variance is a Bitch' they aren't kidding!

Ah, but I digress. Back to what makes this week so fun. Because its the experience I used to get by actually GOING to Rio every day ...all wrapped up and neatly packaged for me, for me to sit on my couch in Biloxi, Mississippi some 1745 miles from the front door of Rio, and witness it all from the comfort of my home. All I have to do is open up Facebook, and start scrolling and reading. It's beautiful.

The hope. The optimism. The threats to go west and start crushing souls. The promises to emerge with multiple bracelets. It's all spelled out there for everyone to read. Hey, I'm not saying that positive thinking is a bad thing. Clearly its not. But guys like Tony Robbins have worn me the fuck out. I consider myself a realist. I know that poker is a kick in the balls that rears its nasty, crack-whore ugly self constantly...especially when you are playing anywhere from 1 to 5 tournaments a day for 7 weeks! 

The absolute best case scenario for a happy summer in Las Vegas, is to go out there, with about 10-15k in your pocket, which is actually considered a pretty paltry bankroll if your going for 7 weeks(run-on sentence). But hey! You're a grinder! And you have a plan, right!?? So in one of your first contests (or 'birds' as the poker-term slinging idiots refer to them), we'll call it the 2pm $230 (or whatever the juice is these days) Deepstack at Rio...with a gazillion players...and you WIN! Or hell...get 2nd or 3rd even. 

Next thing you know...you're cruising around with a $50k bankroll! Hell! You were only planning on playing some daily's, a bunch of Sit N Go's..and maybe some of the $400/$600's at Venetian. And of course, that $500 Colossus thing that everyone that is allowed to play at Rio will be playing...and of course, their pets and dead family members. But now you have $50k in your pocket. You just opened yourself up to playing the $1k's and the $1500's too. Hell...you can run bad now for...well...most of the summer, and still go home with most of your money intact. 

You won't have to question yourself every time you lose. You won't have to feel like a loser every time you join your buddies (who are running like gods in cash game) at a strip club, or go clubbing without having to cringe when that gold-digging cocktail waitress tells you that the bottle of Grey Goose you are REQUIRED to buy as part of the deal in getting a table (which anyone over 30 HAS TO HAVE when clubbing in Las Vegas- for the sole necessity of needing a place to fucking sit down!) costs $450! Hey...no problem! Or, you're at the pool on your day off and suddenly that big score you made has instilled a confidence in you that will allow you to spin your magical speech on those two hotties who appear to be open game. [disclaimer, this ONLY applies to those poker players who AREN'T married, double to those who aren't married with kids!]


I'm telling you...making a score in week one??? That is the best thing that can happen to a poker player's life while grinding the summer schedule in Vegas. 

The worst? Well, I'm sure you can figure that out! Losing! And even worse...bubbling, or close to bubbling. Repeatedly.  Logging long hours...only to fall short of the money. Next thing you know, 3 or 4 buddies call you up asking if you are down with going to a club that night. "Um...gosh guys...I'm really tired, I don't think so, but have a good time." FUCK! Translation: You're pissed. You're depressed. You just burned another $1000 in buy in money. Played 10 hours. And got two-outed on the river. Last thing you feel like doing is getting 'worked' by a damn waitress, or 'played' by a couple out of town skanks who have nominated you to buy their drinks all night, then pull their standard disappearing act at crunch time.  [again, this only applies to the NON-MARRIED poker players] And this can go on for days...and weeks. 

Ohhh...Vegas can be the most dehumanizing experience you can ever imagine. Some even give up sooner than they planned. I've known and witnessed plenty of guys who came out riding their high horse...ready to conquer the world of poker, only to leave a couple weeks later. BUSTO!

Some of those guys...well, they were simply undisciplined. One thing I can always say with pride: I always made it through the entire summer. You have to have a plan, and you have to stick to it. Guys play a couple tourneys...and don't cash. Next thing you know, instead of playing $125 or $175 sit n gos...suddenly they are playing $500 sit n gos, trying to get it all back. And when that plan fails? Oh mother! 

Or you see them playing 2/5 cash game...knowing they aren't that type of player. The sharks who own the cash games....they come to Rio, and they set up camp for the summer. They don't even fuck with tournaments. They just feast on all the tilting tournament players. You can't argue with THEIR plan. And it's not a bad idea. I just don't personally have the patience (or desire) to sit and play cash game all summer, especially with tourneys going on all around me. I just love playing tourneys too much. Oh! And yeah...I'm still not allowed back in to play at Rio! 

Sometimes...it gets so bad, I can't even get on Facebook. I get so tired of all the whining. I also get so tired of all the new 'poker terms.' And as you may or may not know...if you're gonna be one of  the 'cool kids' in poker, you simply HAVE TO be up on and utilize, the new poker terms. And if you don't know what the fuck they are? Read Facebook and Twitter all summer...you'll figure it out. I am NOT one of those cool kids. In fact, anyone who uses those idiotic terms, I refuse to associate with. If I catch one of my true friends using those terms...I am quick to heap as much verbal shit on them as quickly as I can in an attempt to get them to shut it down!

Then you have your players who go west and run good. The ones who kill you with their posts about sitting on 'heaps' of chips...and 'bagging and tagging' x-amount of chips as 'we come back with the chip lead tomorrow.' Who the fuck is WE? Are you playing with a ventriloquist doll on your lap? Stop calling yourself WE! It's fucking stupid! Here is what I'd like to see a lot of this summer.  "I had a very satisfying day. I have made it to day two...and am about to place 145k chips in a plastic bag, seal it, leave, and go crush some cocktails with friends. Bye!" Is that really such a hard post to make?
WE ran so good all day! WE bagged up heaps! WE come back at 2pm tomorrow. YAY US!!!
And for fuck's sake...no one, I repeat, NO ONE...wants to hear you analyze people's play while the tourney is taking place. Talking about their polarizing ranges and who is leveling who. It's nauseating. Save that for your message boards on 2+2. Where you poker dorks like to break poker down and treat it like its actually a molecular science. Have fun with that. The rest of us will be out having real lives.

So...keep your eyes on the social media this week...and next, and the next four. And see if you notice what I'm talking about...and just how funny it can be. Or if you see a post of someone that is running like shit? Go to their wall...and start scrolling down...and try not to laugh...because its funny when you can just watch their confidence level plummet! All the way down to May 28th...where they talk about their drive to Vegas...and all the cheery, happy thoughts they are sharing with the whole Facebook world. Now look at you! You're huddled up in the corner in front of the fountain at Caesar's Palace...with a cardboard sign...asking people to help you get home!


My advice? And I won't lie...I've been employing this strategy for the past 4 or 5 years. Go to Vegas. Go quietly. Bring a healthy bankroll. Stay off Facebook as much as possible. Or if you HAVE to post, post about something, ANYTHING, other than poker. I have lots of suggestions for this, but don't feel like sharing...as I have to wrap this up and go pick up Carley from school in a minute. Post what and where you playing at the beginning of the day. If you bag chips, go ahead and let everyone know. Some out there, I get it...actually give a shit. Most don't. And another thing? For the guys and gals who are running like total ass? Your little 'sick brag' about how many chips your bagging? It's just an unintended dig at those who aren't. Keep that in mind. So, sometimes its almost nice to almost sound apologetic when informing the Facebook world of your ridiculous number of chips that you've just dropped in that ziploc bag.

More advice: And this is huge, trust me. I didn't do it for the first 3 years I did the 7-week grind in Vegas, and it really showed in my game, and my attitude. Take a day off, a total day....from poker. About every 3 or 4 days. Go to the pool. Go play golf. Go hiking out in the hills. Go rent a kick ass Ferrari for $250...take it out to Death Valley...and break the sound barrier (without any worry or concern about cops). Go sky diving. Go see the Grand Canyon on a helicopter tour. Go see a show, there are a ton of good ones. Go with some friends to Lake Mead (there IS still a lake there, right?) and rent a boat...and spend the day relaxing, drinking, water skiing, whatever. There is a LOT to do in Vegas away from the poker table. DO IT! Then come back with a clear mind. Refreshed. I spent three years trying to convince myself that this advice was bullshit...as it had been offered to me by many an experienced player. It wasn't. It's really really good advice.

I hope you enjoyed this post. I actually enjoyed writing it. If I help just ONE person this summer...it was worth it! Do I miss the 7-week Vegas summer grind? Mmmm...sort of, a little?? I think I am much happier working on putting together staking groups to send rock solid players to try to WIN US money though...while we get to sit at home, go to places like Destin and Orange Beach, play golf, spend time with my family...then just go out for a week or two. Of course, there was an excitement to being out there for 7 weeks. But now...with a three year old? And a wife who really needs my help with her? It just makes no sense to be gone that long. Couple that with simply not enjoying poker or the losers who play poker like I once did, and it makes staying home a pretty easy choice. 

I mean...seriously? HOW am I supposed to NOT sit down across from THIS and go on life tilt!???
On the subject of the 2015 WSOP MONKEY GRINDERS? We are really getting close to having FOUR players fully funded. As of today, I have sold 176 shares...which leaves us now just 24 short of 200, and four players. Also, I have (knock on wood) nearly finalized a kick ass design logo specifically for my hats and hoodies that the players are going to get. Just waiting on the proof, then I can get them made! Not sure why, but that has me really fired up too! And I think just being out there will really add to the experience. Anyone who has invested in the group will be invited to a big dinner before the Main Event starts with me and the players who will be playing for us. 

I am also very, very proud to make this announcement! And this is a SHOUT OUT (or, I guess...rather, a CALL OUT) to all you staked players who win money and then make your backers wait forEVER before you get them their money that they are owed! My guy, Mike Bratovich, drove home from Foxwoods...and the very NEXT DAY after getting home...made a deposit into my account for my share of our winnings! That...my friends in the poker world...is how you get people to stake you again in the future! Or other people...who find out (you're welcome Mike!) you are a straight shooter, to back you! Less douchebags in poker would be a good thing!

Okay...I'm off to get my sweet, crazy, loveable, temperamental, smart, funny apple of my eye...it's Friday!!!! Lets go see what she pulled out of the End of the Week Treasure  Box!!!

MONKEY

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

My Horsey Hits Paydirt!!!!

Well, well, well...looks like we have a little last-minute situation developing here at the Circle M horse ranch!

You all  know about my current 'thing' that I have going on with the 2015 WSOP Monkey Grinders...aka Minions.  I've named our first three players. And as of this writing, I have sold 144 of the 150 shares (at $200 per share) to send those 3 players. Personally, I've taken 10 shares.

One thing I learned a long time ago, in poker, anyway...was to never let your fellow players know certain things. Some things you just can't help. Like making a big score, or a collection of medium-sized  ones. Inevitably, those kind of performances always tend to bring a certain unsavory element from out of the word work  and into your life...or at least your email or Facebook message center.

"Hey Monkey...congratulations on your recent success. Hey...I was just wondering something...." and I think we all know how the rest of the message reads. STAKE ME STAKE ME STAKE ME!!!!!

So, the past year I've done some staking. It's gone very, uh...well, lousy. A large percentage of that was done on a girl who continues to live (rent free) in my house as a guest of my wife until she 'gets back on her feet.' Part of the strategy of staking her was in hopes that she would snap off something big, get back on her feet...and give me back my ability to walk  around my home naked whenever I want! Didn't work. So that's going on a year and a half now. I've decided to stop staking her. Just felt like I was losing twice!

So...instead, I decided to finally go with this one particular guy. Why? I  guess because I liked him. He wasn't a pest about it. He was actually very polite, telling me what he wanted to do. No hard-sell tactics. I also was familiar with how he played. He played in my online poker club when I had that going on two years ago...before it was sabotaged by someone who couldn't stand the idea of me making a good living in poker without having to step foot in a casino. Secretly? I would like to thank whoever that piece of shit was...seriously. It was taking way too much of my time...WAY too much, both with the amount of time I sat on my computer playing, as well as the amount of time the accounting work took.

I said no to Mike a couple of times before I  finally decided to give it a shot with him in New Orleans. The very first event he played, the 6-Max...he final tables! He finished 6th. He would then cash 29th in the Main Event. We came out of that event boasting a PROFIT! Yay! That felt great! But did I ask for some of that money? Naw....I said "Go For It" when he asked about Foxwoods...as he was getting very  close to winning a seat in the National Freeroll, which just happens to take place in his own backyard of North Carolina at the end of July. He lives in South Carolina. And he offered me 50% of his Freeroll if he should happen to win a seat. 

Mike arrived in Foxwoods and promptly cashes in his first two events...finishing 9th, and then 52nd in their big $100k guaranteed $580. Suddenly he was only about 10 pts away from clinching a seat in the Freeroll. But then he had 4 events of just running like dirt. Flopping sets left and right and either having to fold to obviously better hands or simply losing after getting drawn out on. AA losing, KK losing...hey, he didn't have to explain it to  me! I've been there! I've seen it! One good thing he has in me as his backer? I actually believe some of the crazy shit he tells me! Cuz I've lived it! 

Well he got off the schneid and punched our cheaper ticket into the Main...winning the Mega satellite on his second attempt. Elation, however, quickly turned to deflation...as he ran into some terrible luck in not just the first flight...but again in the second flight, that I green-lighted him playing. Then he lost quickly  in Event 11...leaving just  ONE more tourney for him to try and get those much-needed 10 points to make it into the Freeroll. I was already out of the profit-zone and into the negative-zone...but hell's bells...why would I give up now!?? One more $365 to play...and a Turbo, yuck!


Well? What happened? I was busy that day...but  periodically glanced at my phone.  He quickly doubled up. Then it was like most days....chipped up....lost a race...got  some back...lost some back...card dead....a double up. I  was trying not to get too  excited, almost exactly how my mental state is when I'm actually playing, and things are going like that. Poker, as most of us  know...can become a very emotionally draining experience, especially if we let ourselves get sucked up into all the peaks and valleys. It's kind of cute...sometimes I'll be playing against an obviously new player...and I might win a huge pot...and will show no emotion...why? Because I'm just completely relieved that the guy didn't river the flush, or the straight, or whatever the fu** he needed to beat me. 

"Hey man! Why aren't you happy!?? Smile why don't you! You just won a big pot!"

Oh...ye of little experience. One day, my little shamrock, you will understand...and look back on your joyous naivety with amusement. As most of us have. Yes...I do slightly remember those jubilant moments in poker. Slightly.

I remember I used to observe the well-known, experienced players, and admire the way they would take bad beats, and marvel at how they would show little to no emotion after winning a huge pot. I used to think to myself..."wow, this guy has ice water in his veins!"

No, no he doesn't. He's just been there, done that....so many times, that nothing really registers anymore. Someone one outs you on the river...as you are teetering on becoming chip leader? Old you might slam the table...shout out something like "Noo!!! You have GOT to be kidding me!!!! That did NOT just really happen!!!!!" Yeah...I think maybe I was that guy once upon a time.

Now? Grain of salt my friends. Roll of the eyes, fall back in my chair...and attempt to gather my  thoughts, reset my mental state...and try to come back from the devastating blow to my stack. Moral of the story: Shit  happens. Deal with it.

Back to Mike.

It was getting late. I was getting tired. They were almost in the money. Obviously, with it paying 18...he needed to finish 9th or 10th to clinch his spot...and since the only payouts that were really even kind of appealing were first place and second place...and I wasn't even going to worry about anything below that. The obvious 'prize' we were focusing on was getting that seat, which I'd have a 50% sweat on.

I laid in bed reading. Then it started getting really exciting, because since it was a Turbo, players were dropping pretty fast. At some point, I moved to the living room and fired up the live feed from Foxwoods and watched for the rest of the night. Once he got to 7th place, we officially became profitable again. That was exciting!

On the very last hand of the tournament, the short stack moved all in with J9...and Mike called with A5 suited. On the flop...a jack! Shit. On the turn...the ACE OF CLUBS...but that also gave the other guy a flush draw. The river was a brick...and my little horsey...Mike Bratovich...had won his FIRST WSOP Circuit ring! He'd cashed for me FIVE times, out of 19 total events...in a lot of different areas of the game...six-max,  turbo, and a Main Event...as well as winning a Mega satellite. The $14,450 we took down for winning that FINAL event was pretty awesome too! And finally...he clinched his seat in the National Freeroll...with 50 points added to his 120...putting him in 15th with 170 points. And of his 8 total cashes...5 of them came playing for me. 


I won't lie...I am VERY happy to have finally profited off a staking venture. But more than  anything, I am ecstatic for Mike! He's really a good kid,  has a beautiful wife and two little girls...and had just lost his job before the New Orleans event. So he needed to win pretty bad! As for Vegas? Well, I've already told him I consider staking on WSOP events (non-Main Event) to be one of the worst investments in poker. Why do I feel like this? Same reason that when I was allowed to play there I  didnt like to. Lousy starting stacks, and too many crazy/insane Euros. I just can't find any reason to invest money on a player on BIG buy ins...in a tourney where you only get 3 times whatever the buy in is. If you don't get some hands early and double or trip up by the first break...you are in deep trouble come Level 4...almost forced into a shove fest. And THAT SUCKS! 

(I've had to come in here and issue a retraction, or rather, correction. I've been informed by a couple of people that the WSOP staff has improved the structure. And how would I know? Since I'm not allowed in there? But I'm told the chip stacks are much better now...something like 5 times the buy in...much more reasonable. And I'm also told they've added in some levels...so really, you should start seeing much better players making final tables this summer-my prediction. How this affects me in staking? Well..it DOES make a difference, to be sure. I'll play it by ear.)

The good news for Mike? His good run has stirred up interest from some other people...who aren't scared off by those structures. GOOD! I couldn't be happier for him! Because nothing would make me happier than if he goes out there and makes a HUGE score that can really help his family. Hell, I'm not greedy! I don't mind taking my little victories here and there! Besides...I have a tremendous amount of faith in my Minions doing WORK this summer! And now...booking this nice profit...I now can invest even more than 10 shares into my group.

So...what this has created, is a dire effort on my part to try and get Mike on our team for this summer. In addition to Mike, I was really, really trying to get a certain female on the team. I know I  have a lot of potential investors that are ladies, and they would love to see a woman on the team. And to be totally honest...whatever is going to sell shares..and get more players on the team and INTO the Main Event, I have to pay attention to.

SO...if you are interested in getting a piece of my THREE, and hopefully FOUR or FIVE incredibly solid players this summer in the WSOP Main Event...with it's 30,000 chip starting stack, and two-hour blind levels (God its so incredible, the structure, it pains me to even type that out!!!!) you are NOT too  late...in fact, not too  late at all! It's not even JUNE yet! All you have to do is  email me at ThePokerMonkey1@aol.com and tell me you want in!

As for me? I've made my reservations for Vegas myself. I will be arriving there on July 1st...staying at the Treasure Island, which is literally across the street from Venetian...and playing in  two of  their $1125's a couple $600's and $400's and most likely their $5000 Main event. A grand total of about $10,000 worth of events. I still haven't decided if I  will play 100% on my own, or sell a package. It's a tough call. I will be in town to give all our Summer Minions/Grinders their hoodies, and hats and MONEY to register. Hopefully I'll get a chance to hang out with them a little bit as well. I'm also looking forward to going to my friend Frank Kasella's annual 4th of July party. That is always a major blowout! I'll return home on July 15th...unless, of course, I final table the Main Event at Venetian...then we'll casually change our flight and assume the wife is understanding!


Tonight! There is a better than average chance that my  New York Rangers' season is going to come to an end. I have a bad feeling. I  know they are the kings of winning with their backs to the wall...but this Tampa Bay team is TOUGH. I really felt like we needed to win Game 5 at home the other night, and we got shutout 2-0 and just outplayed. Tonight in Tampa Bay...well? It's another must-win game. Then follow that up with a must-win Game 7 back in the Garden. I wonder how NBC is going to feel about  Anaheim vs Tampa Bay  as opposed to  New York vs Chicago? I think I know the answer. I hope my boys surprise me and give me yet another reason to go hoarse tonight!

LETS GO RANGERS!!!!

MONKEY

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Here Comes the Summer!

It's been a very crazy, hectic, and sometimes sad month since I last posted. Two nights ago we returned from Seattle, and a 5 day short vacation to visit my brother Jimmy and celebrate his 50th birthday. Jimmy is my brother who has Down's Syndrome, and who also has a crush on Squirrel. She promised him a big party two years ago for the big 5-oh, and we didn't disappoint him. We coordinated things with his handler, Wendy...who as it turns out, is an amazing gal who had done wonders with Jimmy. 

The day started with 25 of Jimmy's friends at his favorite place, Red Robin...where we had a big birthday party for him! He loved it and had a great time!
That night I took him and my mom and dad to the Mariners game, where once again, my appearance JINXED King Felix into his 3rd loss in a row when  I come to see him pitch!!! BOSOX got us!
We were all set to have a few calm days before leaving for Seattle, when the phone rang on Monday, and we found out Cheryl's Grandaddy had passed away. He was 85 and had been in a deep depression since losing his wife of 67 years about a year and a half ago to Alzheimer's, which she struggled with for years, finally succumbing in their living room. He'd refused to put her in a nursing home, staying with her every moment until the end. It really hit Cheryl's family hard, and threw our schedule into disarray. We drove up to Florence on Tuesday, and they managed somehow to quickly plan the funeral service for Wednesday. It was quite wonderful...I couldn't believe the turnout, And as a song leader at his church, it was dominate by the singing of hymns throughout the service. Afterwards, there was a gathering at his son's (Cheryl's Uncle Dennis) home...where loads of people showed up to eat a gigantic meal, which had been prepared and delivered by the church.
Fortunately, we had just been up north just two weeks prior, and got to spend about an hour visiting with Papaw. Everyone adored this man...but he is happy now, in heaven with his sweet wife.
Cheryl has had a rough two years in her family...as her own daddy passed away on our couch two years ago, then she lost her grand mother a few months later. And now her grand daddy. She was very close to all of them.

Once that was finished,  we packed up the car and drove home that night,  then flew out to Seattle the next day. Very hectic. Carley was great on the flight...which she's been every time we've flown. But...on the way home? She had a little episode. She is fond of having the tray table down. Well...they won't let you have it down prior to take off. So she went off. And nothing we did we get her to stop freaking out. And since we were in Seattle...there was a bit of a back up of planes taxiing out for takeoff. As we got to about the 5th minute of her 'freakout' this woman sitting behind us, and overweight lady in her 60's, wearing lots  of both gold and silver jewelry, and sporting short spiky hair that had been colored blue, red and green in various areas...leaned forward (sitting directly behind Cheryl in the window  seat) and asked "Is that going to continue for the entire flight!???"

Hmmm. How does one respond to such a rhetorical question? I looked at the flabbergasted face of my wife, and knew this lady just said the wrong thing, at the wrong time, to the wrong person. I feared my wife might come over the top of the seat and rip this  ladies face off...which would have likely got us thrown off the plane. So I intervened.

"Yes! Yes it will. And...if she should happen to stop? I will make sure I do something to make her start again, so we wont risk upsetting you." We never heard from her again. And Carley chilled out a little bit later, and never made a peep the rest of the flight. I posted that lady's picture  on my Facebook, and shared the exchange, asking FB friends to share how they would have responded. I got some pretty funny responses, and then one, from a prick named Mike Brewer, who I (to my knowledge) don't know from Adam. I awoke the night we got home to Squirrel furiously pecking away on her iphone and asked what she was doing? "Oh, just answering one of your friends on Facebook who had left a real shitty message on that post." So I had to check it out.
Out of respect to his daughter, I opted to crudely black over her face in this picture from his Facebook. He didn't provide a lot of options, as he had about 8 total pictures in there, none by himself.

Well, I have my Facebook set up so that any Tom, Dick or Prick can leave a message on there. I don't have it set to 'Friends Only' so every once in a while I will get some asshole who thinks he needs to make his unwelcome opinion heard on my wall. This guy was a real gem...and he was sufficiently jumped and attacked by several people, appropriately. I tried hard to take the high road...hard as it was. Again, I have no clue  who this jerkoff is. Feel free to go check out the exchange if you want to see what a fucktard looks like.

The first order of business once I got home was to organize and see how many shares I've sold for our Summer WSOP Grinders...affectionately known as Monkey's Minions! The first thing I would like to do is thank ALL those of you who have applied to be one of our grinders this summer. The list of applicants is extremely impressive, and long. On one hand, it brings me a lot of joy knowing that I can basically make some player's dream of playing in the Main Event come true, when they otherwise wouldn't be able to. And then on the other hand...it bums me out that despite a person being MORE than qualified to play for us...I just don't have the ability to fund them. Saying 'no' to someone who I dearly want to say 'yes' to makes me nuts.


So...after I sent out the 'welcome back' email to the 72 investors from last summer, I quickly generated the selling of 82 shares. Those same 72 investors accounted for a total of 200 shares last year...where we sent 4 players to play. Well, two days ago, before boarding our flight, I sent out an email to all the people on my distribution list (for pools mainly) and after adding it all up last night, discovered we have 133 shares that have been sold, with about 1 third of them paid for already. So...that leaves just 17 shares to be sold (at $200 per share) before the three players who I already named about 10 days ago...are fully funded. Then, I can start working hard to get one or two (who knows, maybe three!???) more players on the roster. 

I am trying really hard to get a woman on the team...and already have a 95% idea of who she is. Out of respect to her privacy (in case we don't sell enough) I won't name her yet. But she is someone I've known for a long time...and is an excellent player.

I've also gotten applications from 3 separate players who all have some sort of a medical condition or disability, all who are very solid players. I would love to get one of them on board and a shot at the Big Dance as well.

And finally, I've been backing a player myself...for the WSOP New Orleans event, and now the WSOP Foxwoods event...a guy I know to be a solid player, a family man himself, and who just lost his job about a month ago. Since backing him...he has cashed FOUR times for me...including the Main Event in New Orleans...and made two final tables. He is also very close to  qualifying for the National Freeroll...which, if he qualifies, has pledged 50% to me. Again, out of respect, I'm not revealing his name here. But I am extremely proud of what he has accomplished this spring...and if a guy deserves to be playing the Main Event...holy cow, its THIS guy! The Main event starts up there in two days, and I am really hoping he has a great run! For a LOT of reasons!! 

So, who have I named as the first three minions/grinders so far? 

1. Wild Bill Phillips, the creator/owner of this very site that I blog on...has been named on the strength of his run last summer. A lot of people (including investors) felt like he should be grandfathered in as the player who made it the deepest. And since my opinion of him as a player haven't changed, it was hard to argue with that sentiment. If I had my druthers, I would also send his co-owner of the site, Gene Dudek...who is equally qualified. Like I said...there are SO many great candidates I can choose from its ridiculous!

2. Seville Hale. An active member of our US Army, from the 5th Stryker Combat Brigade and I guy who when I first had a chance to play with...after only 'hearing about' noticed we had a lot in common. Same sense of humor, and some similar styles of play. I've followed his results the past couple years..and frankly, he smashes almost everything he plays. The problem? It's usually just small, local stuff because he's not able to just go and play. But for us...he will put in for some time off. And we are psyched...because I see him doing great things out west!


3. Michael 'Carwash' Schneider. I've known this guy a long time. Hell, I've even had dealers confuse us for each other. Which....I don't see it, but whatever. We (players who play a lot) all know Carwash by his very identifiable ball cap and that tired old jacket of his! Well, I'm working on some Grinder Hoodies...and he's agreed to wear his if he has to! Carwash has been a 'cashing machine' since he started playing, and being a family man like myself, he just doesn't get a chance to play the big tourneys as much as he'd like, or be gone as much as it takes sometimes. Mike is in the Top Ten in All-Time WSOP Circuit cashes, also.



So...these are our first THREE selections...and I am VERY hopeful that we will be able to add anywhere from 1 more to 2 or 3 even. Do you want to be on the investment team this summer? There is no maximum of shares you can buy. I am in for 10 myself...as are a couple other folks. One guy last summer took 25 shares...which kind of blew me away! But most people take one or two shares, and that is great. What I offer in exchange is a contract that EVERY player signs, agreeing to all the terms. It's a 65/35 deal in favor of the investors. Frequent updates via Twitter/Facebook and the app called MyStack are promised by each player. Additionally, I am going to try and make it out from July 1st to July 15th...so I can hand each player their buy in, and they can play any of the first three (or is it four this year?) flights, instead of everyone getting their money at the last minute last summer and having to play the last flight. That was way too chaotic...which was why I got started on this a LOT sooner this summer!

Last year's 'Minions' who spontaneously put together this photo for us!
I am also wanting to get out there so I can attend my friend Frank Kassela's infamous 4th of July party at his house. And I am going to play the bigger buy in events at the Venetian...I think its a couple $1100 events and their main event, a $5k buy in. And I should be there long enough...so that if any of our players cash, or bag for November (wouldn't that be awesome!) I will be there to handle the money, do investor payouts, and potential 1099-issuance if that is necessary. I will also be able to bring and hand out the hoodies and hats I'm trying to get made for these guys (and maybe gal!!). A feel a lot better, a lot more organized, about how things are going this summer. And additionally, the players themselves don't have to make last minute reservations like last year...not that any of them complained about it!!!! But it is a lot easier for them to  know they are going a month or so before they have to go.

How do the investors get paid? It's really, really easy. Say we end up selling 200 shares for FOUR players? Say just ONE player cashes...and for (example) $67,000? The $10k buy in comes out of the prize money...leaving $57k. The player who cashed will receive 35% of $57,000 ($19,950) and the investors will get $47,050...which will be split up 200 ways. That would equate to $235 per share...or a profit of $35 per share.

Now lets say we get THREE players who cash...and we sold 250 shares and sent FIVE players? Those three players cash for $35,000, for $120,000 and someone who finished around 18th snagged us $385,000! The grand total is $540,000. We remove 10k three times...for $30k. Leaving $510,000 in the player prize pool. $178,500 is paid out to the three players, accordingly by where they finished. Which leaves $361,500 for the investors to split 250 ways. This breaks down to $1446 per share! A profit of $1246 per share! SO if you are like me...and bought 10 shares...Your $2000 became $12460!

As you can see...this could be a  whole lot of fun! While none of us are going to become millionaires, we can certainly make a nice score...while getting two weeks almost of entertainment, and NOT having to be the one sitting there for HOURS going through all the peaks and valleys, the suckouts, the bad beats, the lucky fades and all that goes with playing a tourney of this type. I'm fired  up! So if you are interested...and want a piece of this action...email me at ThePokerMonkey1@aol.com. I will let you know all the various ways you can pay for your share. I will also be keeping ALL the investors updated on how many shares we have sold, hence, how many players we have on the team, and how close we are to getting another one enlisted!

Well...I think that is about enough for today! Big game tonight...Game 3 of the NHL Eastern Finals between my New York Rangers and the Tampa Bay Lightning, with things tied at a game a piece. As with every series in the past four years...I'm once again nervous as hell! The streak  of 15 straight one-goal playoff games (a record, previous record was  9 games) finally came to an end Monday night, as Tampa Bay spanked us in the Garden, 6-2. A win tonight would make me feel a whole lot better!


Been playing that quickie cash game on Bovada a lot lately...think they call it Zone Poker...its basically Speed poker, fold and get shuttled to a new table and a new hand. Had some good sessions and some bad ones. Decide to take it up a notch the other night and play $1/$2, their max game. Bought in for $200. And on about the fourth hand...pick up 10-10 in the BB. Button raises to $6. I re-pop it to $17.  He calls. Flop comes 8-8-2 with two clubs. I lead for $35. He raises. Whatever...I shove. He calls with Kc9c. River the ace  of clubs. Perfect. Gotta love online poker! And yeah...he had me covered!

Played a cash session at IP a couple Saturdays ago. Started off good. Played two hours at the 5/10 Omaha-8 table before it broke, and banked a $350 profit. Then moved to a 1/3 table...and after about 6 hours, was up about a grand. Then I started drinking. And having fun. And bluffing in spots that I shouldn't have been. Stack went up and down. When the smoke finally cleared, I realized (because my wife was calling me) that it was 9am! Whoops! I cashed out what I had and raced home to take the reigns from Squirrel (the reigns to Carley, that is!). She wasn't real pleased with me. I guess I understand. But what is it about a poker table that when you are playing it becomes so easy to sit there and play for 12 hours and not even notice how long you've been there? Sometimes it freaks me out.

Okay I'm outa here!

MONKEY

Monday, April 20, 2015

Time to Assemble The Minions!!!

It's Mid-April. March Madness is over. I've paid all my pool winners. I'm still owed about $5000...so like the IRS....it's 'collection month!' The NBA playoffs have started (don't care), the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs have begun (ALL I care about, GO RANGERS!), the Masters has a new 21-year old champ, baseball is in full swing...I actually have a fantasy team that might just compete this season...and in poker? We have almost come to that time of year when the migration to Vegas starts.

And with that...the 2nd Annual March of Monkey's Minions to the desert to chase the millions and millions in dead money. Sure...some of you might have anticipated me only making this a very Kentucky/Duke-like 'One and Done' for Senor Monkey...and that because my 'crew' went oh for four last summer, that I would fold up my tent and call it a day. Pfffffft...you, my friend...would be wrong! For starters, the large contingent of contributors/stakers/sponsors from last summer are only too eager to jump on board again. And as for players? Well...there is NEVER a shortage of players wanting that shot at the $10m first prize...or at least a share of it, and the attention that comes with it. (some would call it fame-personally I'd finish 2nd place every year if given the choice)


Who will be this year's Minions? How many will make the trek? Will I get some fancy hats and t-shirts made for them this year? Will I be driving in the dead of night to meet one of the minions with $40,000 in cash...with which to climb on a plane to Vegas in hours...to meet up with the other 3 Minions at the registration counter hours later at the Rio? Or will I actually get this show all nice and pre-packaged with ample time to spare, and prepare? That is for sure what I am going for this year. Hell, I don't even KNOW when I started this little campaign last year. But I do know that I WILL do everything to have our 'horses' locked up  and ready to roll by the middle of JUNE...so that gives me roughly 60 days to make it happen.

Candidates? I already have one person in mind. That is all I will say. If you think you have the RIGHT STUFF to March with the Minions in Vegas....simply email me at ThePokerMonkey1@aol.com and tell me why my backing group should hitch their wagon to you. Generally, I make the final decisions on who goes...but don't think the decision isn't made without consulting the prime contributors within the group. I mean, at the end of the day...our main objective is to send players who we feel are HUNGRY...SKILLED...and READY....for greatness! Guys/gals who are fun to root for, likeable, who communicate with the group through Twitter/Facebook, who maybe have a following of friends and family we can all 'get with.'  So....get your 'applications' in...and I will have get this ball rolling ASAP!

As for me, and my poker? It's been rather limited. I've been having a REAL fun time playing on Bovada lately. And by fun, I mean...are you fucking kidding me? It's a joke. Nothing holds. AA and KK might as well be 3-9 and 2-8 offsuit. When I think they have nothing,  they have the nuts. When I think they have the nuts, they have nothing. When I make the hero call...and briefly celebrate my 'amazing poker vision' I watch as the next card or two give them whatever they need to emerge victorious. The only good news is that I'm playing small stakes, due to my inconsistent, aggravating internet connection. So I'm not losing a lot when I'm losing . It's not about the money I'm losing...it's simply the losing.

Recently, I participated in the event that they had at the IP...which, if I had to guess, might be their last. If you didn't think things could get worse at the IP...well, you were wrong. The turnout for the WPT Deepstacks event was putrid....and if it hadn't been for open rebuys until Level 9 in a lot of the events...it would have been downright embarrassing. I had a min cash early...yeah, 6th place was a min cash! I followed that up with two consecutive bubbles..finishing 7th two days in a row. I can't even find a reason to dredge up the memories of that event, since most of the poker planet barely realizes it even occurred. I won enough in cash game during my down time to make the week almost break even...which is about what happened at my last event up in St Louis. At least at this event I didn't stake anyone....oh well, unless you consider the staking shots I again took on 'The Claw' across the street at the Beau during the same time period. And no...those didn't turn up anything either. My current record on staking in 2015 is ....well, there is nothing to report. 

I don't know how to explain what the hell is going on in poker. The way events are being scheduled? The lack of marketing? The over-saturation of events at a time when there seems to be a real decline in the popularity of poker? Well...maybe not. Tell that to the folks up in Cherokee, North Carolina...who just got a turnout of almost 1500 for their SENIOR'S event this week! That's one place I'd like to go and play. I'm patient. I'm not going anywhere. And I've got plenty to keep me busy...being a daddy, being a husband...and keeping the home fires burning...while Harrah's/Caesar's falls further and further in debt, and the people who've decided I need to be blacklisted for whatever reason continue to see their jobs endangered. Where I once felt this sense of urgency to right the wrongs that have been done to me...I can kick back and laugh about it now. The pettiness of people, the politics employed by people who think  they are a lot bigger and a lot more important to this world than they really are. This is a mentality that seems to reign supreme in the poker world. 

I'm doing something very exciting at 3pm today. It only took about 4 months to get approved by my damn insurance company. While working with my personal trainer this past fall...I did something real bad to my left shoulder. I knew it when it happened. But my insurance company...acting like they were the  company in 'Erin Brockovich' decided to just stamp DENY on my doctor's request to stuff me in the MRI tube to see what was going on in there. 'GO GET XRAYS' and 'GO GET PHYSICAL THERAPY' was their response! Ha! Okay! Geniuses! Get an X-Ray on something that all parties (patient/doctor) can easily agree is muscular or tendon related. Yeah we did that, I spent that wasted money...to find exactly what we knew we'd find. Nothing! And PT? Um...did you happen to comprehend that I incurred this injury while DOING physical therapy, basically!??? Back and forth we went with these clowns for months...until finally...it got approved.


My doctor comes into the room...."Did you used to play hockey or something?" Yeah...why? "Because your shoulder is a mess. You're right shoulder is perfect...but your left shoulder? Guessing that's the one you lead with a lot? You have lots of arthritis in there, and swelling in your bursa sac (bursitis) and strained tendons in four different spots." Marvelous. Nothing that requires surgery...which is good, I guess? No torn rotator cuff...which is a nightmare to rehab after surgery. So what he recommended was steroid injections in the shoulder. I had that done to my knees about a year ago...both of them, and (knock on wood) I've never had LESS issues with my knees than I have this past year! So today...at 3:00...I'm off to take the needle. I hate needles...but I am REALLY looking forward to this one!!!

I'm gonna make this short because I have a lot of errands to go run...but I really just wanted to get this Minions announcement out there!

MONKEY

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Part 2. Monkey's Farewell to St. Louis!

Tonight at 5:30 I am driving to New Orleans with 'The Claw' to see Craig Ferguson in concert. Shouldn't there be another word for when comedians perform? Concert? Yes, Squirrel was invited. No, she isn't a Craig Ferguson fan. So before I go and attempt to let someone make me laugh, I will sit down and write something in an attempt to make you laugh. Sound fair?

The exit wound from my week in St Louis has almost healed. Last night, I almost even dared myself to log on to Bovada...before I checked myself. And two days ago...I even got the itch to take Allen Kessler up on his 'buy a piece' offer on Facebook...for his Bay 101 action. I bit. For 10%. And honestly...didn't even know the event had started before someone told me he was out. Huh? What? Oh. Okay. Nice sweat.



Any pain I had from that...or anything else was temporarily healed yesterday when I heard that the Saints decided to throw in the towel on another season, and trade their best player to my Seahawks. Yes...that kind of made my day. Can we just go ahead and start the season 3 months early? Please?



Went to a steakhouse last night, Logan's Roadhouse...to celebrate the great news...and was informed by our waitress...and this was at 7pm on a Tuesday, that they were OUT of all their steaks. Oh...and salmon, too. Huh? And this was AFTER we'd had to vacate our favorite sushi joint because Carley decided to freak out. Pretty funny...I made a post about it on Facebook, which always posts to my Twitter...and I had the CEO from Logan's blowing me up this morning! Wow...social media is something, eh?

I have a Fantasy Baseball League...its $350 per team. It's 20-teams deep..and I've been told it's 'the best setup in any league I've ever played, Monkey!' Been going on for about 7 years now. Head-to-Head league on Yahoo...non-keeper league...live online draft Sunday the 29th at 7:30pm CT. 16 teams came back from last year...and one was scooped up yesterday. I have three teams available to anyone interested. Just email me: ThePoolMonkey@aol.com.  Also have the March Madness Pool coming up...my 17th Annual. $25 per entry. Had 689 entries last year. I've never won. First place last year was $6600. The winner was a woman. If you're interested in playing, again, email me.



The final night I was in STL...when BJ and I were holed up in our room watching the Family Feud marathon and contemplating going off campus to eat...while scrolling through the channels...we land on a poker tourney...taking place in Australia. And I noticed my good friend Frank Kassela had made it's final table and busted like 4th or something for $100k+. Today I notice on Facebook he's in the Bahamas with his wife, Piper. Nice life, Frank. So we watch the 3-handed play for a few minutes...and I hear the announcer say something that sends me rolling on the floor howling. It was especially funny because you rarely hear the poker announcers make fun of the players.



It was only about 3 minutes into watching when I was already telling BJ all the various ways I'd like to bitch slap all three players. I just don't get these fucking players these days. But this guy? Oh...he was the ultimate DoucheCase. And when the announcer says..."Lets see what the Emperor from Stars Wars does on this one" I lost it. It was perfect. Not sure if it was actually 'the emperor' or not, Star Wars fan-geeks...but it referred to that creepy black-hooded guy with the awful teeth and the red eyes. This guy's thing was sitting there trying his damnedest to never move even a single muscle. With his black hood, big glasses sitting there like a statue. Then...one of my favorite (and by favorite, I mean I'd like to watch an ISIS militant be-finger him) moves...would do that fucking slow, robotic picking up of the chips...then monotonously dropping them just about 4 inches in front of his stack. Which I know is a move dealers also universally loathe.

I couldn't take it any longer. "Change it BJ! Change it!!! Please!!! Back to Steve Harvey! Back to Steve Harvey!!!!!"  We're gonnna play Steve!!!!

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Okay. I've made you wait long enough. Let's talk about 'The Table' you've been all anxiously waiting to hear about. Present at that table was the man I not-so-affectionately have labeled the Official Face of St. Louis Poker. I do not know his name. And really, does it matter? And do the other 'gentleman' at the table matter, either? I mean, you'll never see any of them on TV at a final table, or any other final table that matters. These are the cretins who live in the poker world who like to push the envelope, to see just how much they can get away with. These are the men with 2 to 3 inch peckers, who I would say drive Corvettes from the 80s and 90's (the affordable ones) if I didn't have such a hard time debating with myself between Vette and Trans Am.


My view of Mr STL from my 2nd seat (after rebuying)
The Crown Prince and Face of St. Louis Poker...something like a cross between an inbread family of possoms, and Mike Matusow. A solid 30 seconds of his glare will turn you into Queso dip!
I think I  mentioned it in either my last post or else on Facebook...but one of the things about being at a poker table...is that you always seem to have sanctuary in one of the player's next to  you...who you can chat with about the terrible play going on before you. But what do you do when the entire table is playing like a bunch of fucktards? Granted...in this particular event...the person on my right was a tall, lanky young man who I'd discovered had won the Main Event at Tunica the previous month. But he rarely played any hands. And he didn't talk at all. He might as well have been from Romania. So I was getting nothing from him, aside from an occasional snicker at one of the collection of epically (not sure that's an official word-but you get it) awful-played hands. No...my only salvation for sanity resided in the seat to my left...in the form of the dealer. And it rarely mattered which dealer it was. A hand would be played...I (in seat 10) would turn slightly to my left...make eye contact with the dealer...and a smirk would cross his/her face...followed by a rolling of the eyes.
Mr 4-Seat...a true Fashionista in his 'too-small-sweatshirt-too-long-Tshirt' look, that is sure to make a smash hit this spring! At least in STL. The only thing funnier was his hairline...which I spent most of my first buy in debating with myself: real hair? Bad toupee? Never reached a conclusion
Mr. 6-Seat. AKA: Sexist Pig. AKA: Show Bluff to make himself feel better about his male inadequacy.
Say this for dealers: I don't know how they do  it. I can't see myself lasting more than a few days if anyone was ever stupid enough to hire me to deal. I am just too outspoken, and too much of a smartass. I wouldn't be able to help myself. Not to mention some of the bullshit they put up with. And I'm not excluding myself. I've had those days...where a succession of one beat after another turns me into a raging dickhead...leaving my cards and/or antes or something short of the desired placement area. But I think for the most part, I treat them with a fair amount of respect, and appreciate the service they provide to us players...and just marvel at some of their abilities to deal with the aforementioned BS. The dealers in STL and floor staff, were top-notch.

(I stopped writing to get ready to go New Orleans...for the comedy show...then left...got about 25 minutes  into the drive...and got a heads-up from someone that the show had been cancelled. Awesome. It's now Friday. Will try to finish....but Squirrel has split for Pensacola for the day/night to visit her best friend, and I have sole possession of Carley...who can be a major handful!)

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The Table From Hell:  The Play-by-Play!

The Main Event was still being played...so playing in any event while that is still going on just a few tables away is always depressing. I'd already busted that. And I also busted, as discussed...that day's ring event. So I was relegated to that day's 3pm tourney...which, contrary to the way they played..was a $250 buy in...with rebuy/re-entry available. Yes..it played like the buy in was $25 with $100 bounties. Not so much. I busted out of the nooner...so in very unfamiliar fashion, I was the first one arriving to my table.

The table fills. The game begins. I don't even know how...but the guy next to me (3-seat) busted in the first five minutes. He was replaced by a nice guy who was a former Israeli soldier..so we talked about the Arab/Jewish conflict for awhile. While we  were chatting the guy in Seat 4...with the hair I couldn't stop looking at...trying to figure out if it was the worst haircut ever...with an incredibly bizarre hairline...or just a silly ass toupe. Oh! Sorry...yeah, he announces to me "Hey...remember me? I'm the one who busted your kings the other days with QQ to cripple you when you bubbled!" Oh...gosh...no...I didn't actually remember that it was YOU...but how nice of you to give me someone to target, you schmo! Well, he then finds I'd be interested to know that he just 'busted exactly the same way in the Main Event' and wanted me to know how tilty he was feeling. Hey...that's great. Guess what? I don't fucking care! (there are no (") there because I didn't actually say that. I think there is this misconception when I blog that everything I print is interpreted as me having said. If it was said, you will see (") if not...I was only thinking it. And I think a LOT of nasty shit!)

In ironic fashion...I'm talking to the nitwit to my right (seat 1) who had already demonstrated his prowess by calling early position raises with 10-6 off and 3-9 suited. We were discussing how to play AK...and I'm saying that its not a hand I really like to 3-bet with early...only late. Just then I look down at JJ. I raise (at 50/100) to 250. The Israeli guy makes it 650. Ugh. He'd already been very, very active early...so I was not going to just fold to him. Bad Hair/Long T-shirt/Short Hoodie guy calls the 650. So I complete. The flop comes Queen high. Shit. I check. Seat 3 bets 1500. Hair calls. I fold. Turn 6. Bets 2200. Hair calls again. River deuce. Bets 2500. Hair calls again. Isreali guy has AK...and hair has? JJ. Fuck me. Note to self. Don't try to bluff Bad Hair. (later note to myself...don't try to bluff ANYONE at the table)

The guy in Seat 3 wouldn't last much longer. He was replaced in the 3-seat by a fellow long time circuit grinder...but not until I'd busted from seat 2...and got re-seated in seat 10. That fellow grinder and I would exchange looks from afar, looks that cried out..."Am I really witnessing this shit?!!" I think it might have been Bob Chow.

My first bust out came after I'd basically just gotten flustered after having folded what I thought was the best hand twice already...and when I flopped a pair with a straight draw...then turned two pair...I check raised the guy big...and he just puts me all in. I couldn't make it make sense....and the guy in the 4-seat had already shown two hands (and many more later- even later I didn't hate my call) that made no sense...I called...to find I'd ran into top two. Shit. Whatever. I felt almost good busting...thinking I'd get a new table. Nope. Sorry Monkey. Same table. Different seat. And now, directly across from the idiot I'd already deemed the 'Face of St. Louis Poker'  in Seat 7...who bore some freakishly bizarre resemblance to a bloated Mike Matusow...and he came with the prerequisite (for any STL grinder) St Louis schwag (either a STL hat, or some form of camouflage) in the form of a Cardinals hat, and plastic pullover.

This guy was un-fucking-believably bad at poker. Here was his deal. Bet big...always bet big! Ignore the pot! Dare them to call! And...and this is the best...if you have the nuts...we'll call it, say, on the river, and you have four people in the pot calling bets on all streets...whatever you do...do NOT price them into a river call with a bet you think at least ONE of them might call! With a board (unsuited) of 10-5-Q-2-3....this guy goes ALL IN...for like 11k...with a pot of about 5500....holding pocket tens! And after everyone folds? He SHOWS his hand! Buhhhhh-RILLIANT!!! 

Now some might argue that he was doing this to set some kind of trap later on. Ha! Kids...don't be silly! This guy wasn't capable of thinking forward to his next breath of air, let alone anything he might have had planned strategically in the poker tournament! But good thinking, I feel ya!

It's been almost two weeks since I got home from that place...so it's getting hazy...some of the hands...but I'm trying. A lady joined our table a while later...her name is Michelle Royster...and lives (I think) in Houston. Her Aunt is Joan Rhoades...who a lot of you might recognize. She used to back Maurice Hawkins (who you ALL know) for a while. Well...she has played mostly cash  game in her fledgling poker career...and just started playing tourneys. She was in the 8-seat.  We had a nice chat. She was very nice. And her game was pretty similar to mine. Meaning...we weren't calling re-raises with hands like 2-8 and J-4. That would be the rest of our table. 

Michelle Royster (left) and Joan Rhoades
As the game went on, and we sat and watched quality hands like AA and KK get punished by garbage hands...and our own raises with good hands got murdered as well...hopelessness started to set in. After having finally won a decent pot, and gotten back to starting stack...I picked up 10-10 on the button with the blinds 100/200 and an ante. Three limped. On the button I make it 750. Not one of 'em folded. Not surprising. I get a pretty favorable flop of 10-6-9. The idiot in the 5-seat (gray shirt up above) checks the flop. As do the other three. I bet 900 into a pot of 3200. Folds to idiot. Idiot ships all in on me. Um...okay...pretty sure he's not doing that with 7-8...I call. He turns over 5-8 off suit. Mmmm..yes...makes sense. Nice hand sir. Well played. Great pre-flop call. Tells the dealer he 'guesses he needs a 7 or he has to go rebuy. The dealer promptly delivers him a seven on the turn...no suspense. It holds. I give Michelle a glance...she rolls her eyes. I look at the dealer...she also expresses disgust. Misery loves company. Right? I'm now short.

I fight back...while watching fuckbird, fucktard, and fuckstick all duel with each other...mainly the 1-seat, the 4, 5, 6 and 7 seat....all fucking morons. All playing pretty much the same way. Raise...or re-raise...WAY too much....still get called, then hope they hit the flop...and if they don't...generally check it all the way to the river (great poker!) or have one of them jam their whole stack in there and pray no one calls. They just sat there trading stacks back and forth. The players who actually had some skill...just decided to play the game in sniper mode...hoping/praying for a big hand in early position...limping with it, and HOPING someone raises...so they can shove...KNOWING they'll get at least ONE call...then just hoping no one sucks out.

Michelle finally picks up AA. Guy limps for 300....he gets one, two three calls....from all three of the usual Stooges in the usual seats....it comes to her...she glances at me...I know immediately she has waken (woken?) up with AA or KK...and she is contemplating what kind of raise to make. Because in typical spots, you don't want to price anyone ...or rather, EVERYONE...out with those two hands. But you also don't really want to play it 5 or 6-handed either. Especially against these dipshits..because they can literally be playing ANYTHING. She settles on 1400. Good raise? I would think so...at least with this table. Typically, I think I make it 950 there...especially if I'm garnering a tight image. Which she was. But under the circumstances, her raise made sense. We all folded back around to the original limper...Mr. Bad Hair. Also calling was Perma-Tinted-Reflective-Glasses-Guy. Then Grey Shirt/Black Shades, Corvette-driving-short dick (more on that soon) Guy also calls...as does The Face of St Louis Poker....Matu-rodent. She groans. I groan FOR her.

The flop comes a very pesky 5-6-7...with two diamonds. I look at her...I can read her mind. "Great...just fucking great!" They all check to her. She doesn't shit the bed and shove all in...credit to her. She makes a rather innocuous bet of about 1500. She might as well have just bent down and lit the fuse to a stick of dynamite. BOOM! ALL IN!!!! From Seat 3 (hair) ALL IN! From seat 4 (Reflecto) ALL IN!!! (Pecker-Vette)....Man-Rodent folds. She tanks. I ask her if she has AA...."Of course I do!" Yeah...thought so. She correctly folds. Oh and...just so we know where things had devolved to at this table...any kind of respect to rules had long since flown out the window. So 'talking in and about the hand' was not even scratching the surface of anything that would have gotten the dealer worked up.

The hands:  3-4 off suit. (bad straight)  8-9 (good straight) and A-8 (open ended and that's it-for his whole stack) The 8-9 holds...and Reflecto rakes the biggest pot to date.

A little while later...Ratboy gets into a hand with 77...Michelle got in there with 6-8 suited. The flop comes 7-9-x....eventually it all gets in on the turn. Douchenozzle quickly turns over his set with pride...as it was about the first time in many orbits that he was ahead in a hand. She calmly turns over her hand...says nothing...then rivers a straight. He freaks out...Seat 6 mutters something to him...and as he gets up to leave the table, he turns and tells us all to go fuck ourselves! Heyyyy yo!!!!! Good times sir! Good times!

Well, I guess we would get the last laugh...because he went and rebought...again...and guess which table..and SEAT he would return to! Bingo! We got his ass again! 

Now he locks horns with his nemesis in the 6-seat again. Gray shirt raises with 2-7. Mr STL re-raises with K10. Seat 6 calls (obviously) The flop? Not sure exactly...but there was a deuce...and no king or ten. That didn't slow them down. Betting would ensue...on the flop...the turn (still no king or ten or anything helping either player!) and finally...on the river...gray shirt makes a huge bet....dipshit with K10 goes ALL IN...and dude with 2-7 CALLS...with bottom pair! And it's good! Mr. STL Poker goes and rebuys...AGAIN....third time. 

It was a shit show of epic proportions. Oh...there were so, so, so many hands like this...not just in this tourney, but all throughout the week. Now let me take just a moment to reflect on this kind of illogical poker.

I consider myself kind of a poker purist. I play the game as I think the inventors of the game intended for it to be played. Now...don't get me wrong. I DO,  however, agree that there are times...when it calls for a range to be opened up...and those times? Usually when you are shorthanded...like 4 or less, and certainly heads up. Or on the bubble against a lot of shorter stacks. I get it...there ARE times. When you can't just play A-B-C poker and think you are going to win a tourney. So for all you 2-2'ers, and OFP-players...pot-smoking, backpack carrying, RunGood members...who are bashing me for 'not knowing how to open up my game' you can cool your jets. Trust me, I get it. A lot of you STILL think I play like a 'nit' (your word not mine) since when I started playing tourneys in 2004...they started you out with 1500 starting stacks and you pretty much HAD to play tight or you ran out of chips VERY quickly. Yeah...despite the popular sentiment, I play a lot looser than most of the seasoned veterans think I do...but shhhh don't tell anyone, I rely heavily at times on my squeaky tight table image!

Here is my argument, that I think is pretty sound. You start with 10k in chips in this particular tourney. And yeah, its a black chip bounty tourney ($100 for everyone you whack). So I get it, that sometimes factors in...but for your whole fucking stack? Shouldn't happen-ever! Should you manage to play like a complete kamikaze early...and collect two or three bounties (which means you are now 'freerolling') while building up a stack of 3 or 4x the starting stack...and in a tourney with less than 100 players...wouldn't it make more sense to defend your position, and keep yourself in a good spot with a shit ton of big blinds? TO ensure a deep run? All while maintaining that ever-important +/EV? My favorite I think...is the guy who plays like a complete retard in a $250 Mega satellite that offers rebuys...while trying to win a seat with a $1600 value attached. Um...how many times do you rebuy before common sense pisses in your mouth and makes you realize just what a stupid fuck you are? I'm convinced some NEVER figure it out. Those are the guys who used to get to school in 14-foot yellow transportation vans.

This is why I come away from St Louis thinking they are without a doubt, the worst...and STUPIDEST players...I've ever experienced of all the venues I've ever played. And I've played a LOT of places! Because...while I can appreciate the ram and jam...stick and move...bluff and shove shenanigans that can often take place at a poker table...never have I seen it in a way that made little to no sense more-so, and on a consistent basis, than in St. Louis.

Another fun hand...and evidence of that which I'm addressing. Blinds are 50/100. Bunch of limpers. I have 6d8d. The flop comes 7-8-9...with a diamond. Seat 7 (doofus Mr. STL) bets 400. I call. Turn is a six. I'm now losing to any 10. But I do have two pair. He bets 400 again. Seems like a weak bet...maybe he has something like K9. I decide to raise...to 950...kind of a good way to sell  the straight myself...or just find out what he's up to. What does he do? He raises it to EIGHT THOUSAND!!!!! Um....okay. I fold. Wow. Wanna try to guess what he had? Oh..me too! No idea. Never saw it. OH wait...I forgot...when I looked at his bet...and said "Whoa! EIGHT THOUSAND!??" he says...."give me $20 and I'll show you my hand!" Um...why would I give you $20 to see your hand? You either just misplayed the nuts...again!...or made a bluff that is stupid because you could have gotten more out of me! That tilted him I think. 

He pretty much spent his whole time at our table being tilted. I wish I could remember all of the horrible ways in which he played hands...but like I say, two weeks have gone by, and mercifully, I've forgotten most of it. But this guy....wow...just brutal.

One thing I remember...while engaged in a conversation with Michelle...was attempting to impress her with his poker resume by telling her he'd played in 'millions of poker tourneys.' That brought the 6-seat (gray shirt) into the conversation. Him and Michelle chatted amiably for awhile...discussing mutual people they may or may not have known...and her giving him her name. Well, unbeknownst to her...he took a moment to try to look her up on Hendon Mob, and check out her stats. Later in the action...he (for whatever reason) decides to tell her he looked her up and announced to the table that she 'didn't have any stats at all!' 

ME: "Wow! Dude just called you out for not having any stats! What a guy!!!"

Her comeback was fair. "Well, that makes sense, since this is only about the 3rd tournament I've ever played. I've just been playing cash game for the last few years. I never had any interest in tournaments." She kept it friendly though...I guess because she had a little class. 

So about two orbits later...they get into a hand. He limps in for 300. She gets what was probably AK...and raises to 950. I think they went to the flop heads up....and when the flop came 9-high...he decides to lead out on her. Like 1400 I think. She hesitatingly calls. I don't remember the turn...but he checks...she bets big...and he raises enough to put her all in. She just shakes her head...and folds. 

This guy was in his mid-50's I'd guess. With the security of a 15-year old. After she mucks...he proudly announces..."Okay, I'll show you just this ONE time....." and he turns over 2-8 off suit. No...he didn't have any of that on the board. She looks at me.

ME: "Hey! He's gonna show you...just this ONE time...because you know...you guys have this blossoming friendship and all...and he just felt you would appreciate it!"

MICHELLE: "Right!?? He's taking, and watering the seeds that will make our friendship grow...and last a lifetime!"

Her and I went back and forth like that for a few seconds...adding more to it...and letting it get funnier...to us anyway. He then tells her "I just wanted to see if I could bluff you, so I could try to feel superior to you just one time." Huh? Yeah...see...what I always try to do, is bluff the tightest player at the table with 2-8...and put a dent in the stack I luckily inherited by sucking out twice before...when there is really NO reason to...other than wanting to humiliate the only woman at the table by bluffing her. All I could think about was....WHAT A FUCKING DOUCEBAG! There is no doubt in my mind that this guy drove some kind of sports car from the 80s or 90's and had a dick NO BIGGER than 4 inches. I also think he probably still has the posters of all his childhood heroes on the walls of his bedroom. In fact...he probably lives with his mom...as I didn't see a wedding ring on his finger.

Michelle would bust from this table...when once again...a limp fest was in process...5 of them...for 400 a pop...and she looked down at 66 in the big blind and 5600 in her stack. Tough to fault her for moving all in. But unfortunately, Mr. Bad Fashion/Bad Hair had limped in with AA...and it held. A little while later...with 3 limpers behind me, I decide to shove with KJ suited for about 5500...really kind of just wanting everyone to fold. No such luck. The dork (who reminded me of the office manager in Ghostbusters) in the 1-seat snap calls with pocket fours! Everyone else folds. Flop comes K-J-4. Lovely...and I don't improve. Ball game. I exited gracefully...despite my burning desire to remove two live grenades from my satchel..and roll one under each end of the table...hollering 'fire in the hole' and bolting from the casino!!!!

In conclusion: I would go and sit alone eating sushi and Michelle would happen along a while later. She sat and we discussed that table for awhile, and poker in STL in general. We both pretty much shared the same sentiments about everything we'd witnessed. And I expressed to her that there was/is nothing that could EVER get me to come back to play in that place. There just isn't a reason. I mean...to play tourneys there you basically are playing roulette. And I don't like or play roulette. Sit and wait for a good hand, then hope it holds up? Pffft. No thanks. It's stupid. Sure...if you play cash game...I suppose with a certain amount of patience, and the right table draw...there is money to be made there. But I think you have a better chance of ending up in an insane asylum in STL before you ever end up being a 'successful' poker player. Its not worth the gamble. 

Sadly, nothing changed in the 6 years I hid from STL. And as a lot of you know...those bounties I would place on players while in Vegas...who were sporting ANYTHING with STL on it? It was for a damn good reason. Because I didn't want THEM...or their shitty-ass style of play...fucking up my table. And when a 'Louie' shows up at your table? It almost always turns to shit. And for those of you who somehow, for some dumb reason LIKE a table that has been 'Louified?' Hey! It's all yours buddy! Move to St. Louis! But for the rest of you? With a brain? Get about $20-$100 ready for one of these goons sit at your table...and be ready to bounty their ass. Trust me, you'll thank me later. And no need to send me a tip...consider it my free gift to the poker world.

By now this post has grown VERY long. Whatever. I'm just glad I've finally finished it...because I need to get to other things...in another post. Like next week's WPT event at the IP in Biloxi. I think it's like a satellite event or something. There aren't any guarantees or anything so I have no idea what to expect. But its HERE in Biloxi...which means I can play some poker without having to leave Carley, and listen to her cry every night on Facetime because Daddy isn't home to sleep next to her. I hate that. Plus I tend to run pretty damn good at the IP.

So...there ya go! Hope this blog post was at least partially what you were hoping it would be...and if not? Well...sue me!

MONKEY