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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I'm Sick of the News...Ready for Some Poker!

I'm sitting here watching Outnumbered on Fox News. Today's guest is Taya Kyle, the wife of former Navy Seal Chris Kyle, who as most know, died at the hands of a troubled fellow service member at a gun range in Texas. Am I the only one who thought the story of Marcus Latrell, in the movie 'Lone Survivor' was way better than 'American Sniper?' Two weeks ago, as Rick Perry declared for president, he had Marcus and his twin brother Morgan flanked on each side of him...scowling all throughout the speech.

What does any of this have to do with poker, or my current state of mind? Oh...nothing. Sorry. But I am at the point where I am getting real sick of the news. Mainly because it inevitably leads to some super-aggravating thread on Facebook that leads me to think I am living among Super Idiots. The fact there are people in this country who will actually vote for Hillary Clinton for president makes my brain hurt. The presidential 'race' has already begun, and I just don't think I have the patience or the stomach to sit and watch all the phony speeches, the awkward posturing, the talking out of both sides of their faces...etc etc etc. It's literally the worst of what American TV has to offer. The only thing that seems to interrupt this period of obnoxious TV news...is your occasional cop-killing, or your racial incident and it's resulting fallout, and of course, your big-news-of-the-day occurrence: A train derailment. A vanishing airplane. The latest ISIS story. Rockets fired from Gaza. I mean...seriously...does the news ever really change?

This week's big news item...is the 21 year old asshole who went into a predominantly black church in Charleston, South Carolina...sat there for an hour, almost changed his mind and didn't carry out his 'mission' because the church-goers were ''so nice to him" but then eventually opened fire on them...killing nine of the most innocent victims you could ever imagine. The only ones in memory who come even close...are the 20 kids who were gunned down by Adam Lanza (who bears a rather creepy similarity to this prick Dylan Storm Roof) for no apparent  reason whatsoever. Granted, there are still some who think  none of that happened. Whatever.


Dylan's goal was to start a race war. Hate to break it to you dickhead, but there has more or less been a race war going on in this country for quite awhile now. Just because there aren't battle lines drawn and daily gun battles going on in the streets doesn't mean there isn't a war going on between the two races. Ironically, dead-man-walking Dylan picked the wrong town to pull his dastardly deed. And in the wake of this tragedy, the fine folks of Charleston have proven that. The doors to the Mother Emanuel Episcopal Church were opened to all this past Sunday...and the mix of white and black church-goers heard a powerful sermon from Rev. Norvel Goff that only served to bring the tight-knit community even closer together. Nice try Dylan...epic fail! Even Al Sharpton and his band of rabble-rousers were encouraged to take their act elsewhere. The 'Hands Up Don't Shoot' posse...that has rumored to be funded by George Soros...as he's been sued now by 'professional protesters' claiming to not have been paid for their 'work' in Ferguson and Baltimore....even they were chased away by the city of Charleston.

If this isn't progress...I don't know what progress is! Which brings me to the next topic on this subject. The Confederate Battle flag, and its existence in places like government buildings.

Can we just be 100% totally honest for a second? Can we all agree that there is no good reason whatsoever to have a flag...ANY flag...fly over anything that only serves to anger some people? I mean...what is the point? The people who are fighting to NOT have this flag removed? Do they take daily treks to those government buildings to salute that flag? Or are they just fighting so hard because they are stubborn? Because they don't want to feel like they were defeated?

After being raised in the north until I was 35...my view as an outsider of the Confederate flag, was that it always kind of had a connection to slavery. Now...if I dig deeper into history, which very few people do, I discover that it was actually only used by the Confederate armies while in battle against the Union armies. Was the Confederate flag an official symbol of slavery? No. It wasn't. Was the Civil War fought because of slavery? That is a point you can debate. No, not directly it wasn't. But it was a factor, or catalyst for what brought it about, for sure. So it's pretty easy to make the connection for some. 

When we go to the beach, and see that 'gentleman' driving the gigantic truck that has been boosted about 8 feet off the ground, and has the huge rebel flag raised on a pole in the back of his truck...is that guy ever NOT a redneck who probably uses the 'N-word' on a regular basis? Seriously...how many 'classy white folks' do you see wearing rebel flags on hats or t-shirts or flying the flag on their front porch? If I am a black person...I'm sorry, but its real hard for me to think these people are wearing rebel flags because they are honoring the memory of the Confederacy or their fallen soldiers. Who's kidding who? There are times that I think blacks are being overly sensitive, or even dramatic about some things that are going on in our society right now. This? This is not one of them. I think they have every right to be totally offended, and pissed off about this stupid flag issue.


Nikki Haley did the right thing yesterday. She said all the right things. I am hopeful that the required number of votes are cast to make what she proposed a reality. And hope that this leads to a popular movement that leads to the removal of this racially divisive flag to be removed on all government buildings. Hey...if you are that person who thinks you need to fly it above your own property? Go for it. No one cares. We will all just look at you like we've been looking at you for years now. That won't change.

If this country is EVER going to make strides to come together, it needs to start with the simplest of deeds, and this flag issue? It's the simplest. 

That's all I have to say on that subject. But back to me hating the news...or being sick of it. I would just like to thank HBO and Showtime...as well as online sites like Hulu and Amazon, for saving TV. Because you sure as hell are NOT finding it on network TV anymore...with all the crap that they are putting on there, whether its the latest piece of shit reality show, or the garbage sitcoms they are putting out like 'Two Broke Girls.' How in gods name does that lousy show stay on the air? And haven't we evolved enough in the entertainment business to the point where they can finally stop using 'canned laughter' during the taping of their shows? When I hear that...it becomes all I pay attention to. I don't even hear the dialogue anymore...just that fake, shitty laughter. 

All the best shows are on premium TV now. The other night, Squirrel and I did something we haven't done together in years...we sat on the couch, no phones, iPads or computers...and we watched the premier of 'True Detective' followed by 'Ballers' and both were awesome! Add that to the list of 'Game of Thrones' (not me-I have yet to make that plunge) 'Veep', the 'John Oliver Show', and several others...and its just about the only place I get my entertainment anymore.

It's Tuesday the 23rd. Squirrel and I just celebrated our 6th anniversary yesterday...though we celebrated it all weekend. We've been together for 14 years. Wow! Time flies! Things couldn't be better. Tomorrow we head to the beach for four days...to stay with her family, watch a ton of baseball games with her nephews...and hopefully get some time at the pool. Yes, the pool...I'm not getting in that water! Flesh-eating bacterias, sharks! No thanks! As soon as we get home from that, I have 3 days to get my stuff together and any errands run, then take off for Vegas, for poker!

I've sold out the poker package for the Minions...with some on a wait list in the event the last 8 remaining people who still owe don't come up with their money. $45k is in...with only $5k out. If you look up on the right-hand side, you'll notice I finally got our logo made...20 hats showed up today, 6 (to be personalized) for our Minions and myself...and the other 14 sold and shipped by me to our investors who wanted one. The T-Shirts also got made...again, 6 for me and the players...and 14 to sell to investors, I think 12 have been requested so far. And finally...hoodies! Those were $65 each..and yeah...all the Players' hats, t-shirts and hoodies are on me! So I really hope one or all of them do some winning! That, or I hope I  make a big lick in my tourneys at the Venetian! I am promised the t-shirts and hoodies on Thursday...which is great except that we won't be home until Sunday! 

If anyone out there would like a hat, or a t-shirt or even a hoodie...let me know by emailing me at ThePokerMonkey1@aol.com and I will get you taken care of. And no...I am not making a single cent off of these! They are being made by Custom Ink and you pay what I pay.

I'm outa here!

MONKEY




Wednesday, June 10, 2015

It's June...and I'm Hot and Bothered!!!



The countdown clock is ticking. 23 days til Flight A of this year’s WSOP Main Event…and my 2015 TEAM MONKEY GRINDERS is now approaching 5 team members. That is where I will draw the line…this late in the game. As of today, I have sold (or had people commit to-pending payment) 239 shares…which leaves us just 11 shares ($200 per share) short of the required number of 250 to send 5 players. I think we can assume that we are going to make it to 250. I’ve already welcomed our 5th member to the team and given her the okay to purchase her airline ticket and book her hotel. I am proud to welcome Bridget Fredericks to our team of Grinders this summer. I’ve known this gal, as well as her mother Linda and her grandmother, for close to 10 years. They are all very solid players…with Bridget being exceptional. She has a ‘real job’ working in real estate, so she doesn’t get the chances to go out and play as often as a lot of your average ‘poker pro.’ So this is a great opportunity for her!

Payments are about 75% accounted for…which is great…especially considering I still have 20 days before I head for Vegas myself. I think the most pressure I am feeling is getting them t-shirts, hats and hoodies made. My frustration lies with the ‘artist’ who I’m dealing with who is doing the graphic design for our logo. It’s amazing how possessive they get over their artwork! If you are someone who still would like a piece of this summer’s gang of 5…shoot me an email at ThePokerMonkey1@aol.com. I’ve decided that I will oversell if necessary…to account for anyone that doesn’t pay before the Main event starts. If we end up, ultimately, with more collected, it will just be issued back in equal refunds to everyone…that or added to the total winnings (we hope!). It’s going to be a pretty exciting month of July….I can’t wait! 

Are you a poker player who is sick and tired of being uncomfortable at the poker table? There is nothing worse…especially considering we sometimes spend 10-12 hours at the table on any given day.  Those jeans that bunch up…that belt that cuts into stomach…those underwear that, well, let’s just say there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to protecting the ‘man package!’ And on top of it all, if you are in Vegas, that walk to the casino, whether it be from the parking lot, or from a casino a few blocks away…you are always facing that awful and inevitable ‘butt and nut’ sweat. We all hate it. Well, I’ve been fortunate to make a couple of discoveries this year that I am excited to pass along to my fellow players. And NO,  I have no financial interest in passing this info along…though I  ought to be. 

Now, I know most poker players, despite spending tons on their buy ins, are typically cheap in other areas. And when I tell you the cost of these two items, you’re going to look at me like I’ve lost my mind. To you…I say…GOOD, keep playing uncomfortable, I hope you go on life tilt by Level 6! There are TWO names you need to remember: SAXX and ROCK REVIVAL. 

You have likely heard of the second name, and might even own a pair of their jeans. But! Here is the secret you might not be aware of: Rock Revival recently went to using 2% Elastane (from the word 'elastic') in the making of their jeans. What this does, is keep the jeans from bunching up…and driving you crazy!! They are so comfortable its almost unbelievable! I have stocked up on them myself. On one side of my closet, I have 6 pair of ‘the old kind’ that will likely never be worn again…and on the other side, 7 pair of ‘the new kind.’ Yes! They ARE expensive! $145-$165 per pair. But that was ALSO the price on the old kind…so nice price increase despite a TOTAL quality increase!

The other item, SAXX underwear. They are designed with cooling material…and also have a separate chamber that has little fabric walls around it, for your sticks and berries. No more getting stuck to the inside of your leg, fellas! These things are DA SHIT! They come in all different sizes and colors and styles. For my money…and it’s quite a bit, I’m not going to lie…I like the Fiesta, because it offers the widest waist band. And unlike so many pricey boxers/underwear…the waistband does NOT bacon…or flip over where your waist becomes your, ahem…beer gut! Now if you are some punk kid with a six-pack? Fuck you, I hate you! Just kidding…I’m very envious. But for you…that waistband flipping over isn’t such a big deal as it is with most of us guys over 35! 

The guy who sold me my first pair 8 months ago…told me…”Just buy ONE pair today…and if you don’t love them, bring ‘em back. No questions asked!” Ha! Didn’t happen. I have since been buying them on second-party sites on the internet for about $24…compared to the $35 or so you will pay for them at the retail stores, or from their own website.  I’m now up to 14 pair. Which is perfect for those 2-week poker trips when you really don’t want to have to either go commando, or find a laundromat somewhere. I think the only thing worse than that is sending it out with housekeeping and paying like a fortune for just a few items to get cleaned.

Okay…that’s all for my helpful shopping hints this summer, in my efforts to give a little back to my fellow poker players! Hope you enjoy these tips!

So, last night I took my wife and 3-year old daughter Carley to the Fair. This is about her 3rd visit to the fair and they tend to all be exactly the same, for the most part. Same rides. Same stupid games. Same food booths. Same animals for the kids to look at, feed, and pet. And to a degree it’s about the same brand of people at these get togethers. 

Any time I go to the fair, I am reminded by the guy who owes me $475. Last year…it was $575. It’s amazing. I do football squares all during football season, pretty sure you’ve all played a squares board at some point in your life. It’s fun…and adds a little something to every game. Well, this guy….jeez, him and about 4 or 5 like him, kind of don’t care that I come out of pocket and pay everyone whether I get full payment or not. It’s pretty aggravating. I don’t understand how someone willingly participates in something that they later decide not to pay for. As for this guy…I guess after he finally paid off his first debt to me, I should have never let him play again, or at the very least demanded his payment BEFORE playing any more boards. But I guess I’m a sucker.

And what’s worse? The guy who keeps on telling you he’s going to pay you…but doesn’t? Or the guy who just completely stops communicating with you altogether? Leaving you to believe you just got screwed out of that money? So it’s fair (pun intended) to say that while walking around the fairgrounds last night, I was consciously looking around for my little carnie friend. Yeah, well…no dice. 

On one occasion, I made the mistake of engaging one of the carnies in a conversation. While Carley was riding the Bumble Bee with her mother…I asked the guy, who was sitting in a chair, his belly spilling out of his shirt that was unbuttoned at the bottom, and sweat covering his face: “Hey…I thought this ride rose up and down as it goes around?” Whoops. Big mistake, as his big ‘summer teeth grin’ (some are here, some are there) came out and decided to tell me this rambling story about why the Bumble Bee was ‘kinda not workin that right.’ Something involving a co-worker, a break that wasn’t supposed to be taken, followed by a bunch of carnie-talk that I couldn’t interpret. I finally just did what you do when you’re in a foreign country and don’t speak their language, but also don’t want to offend them. I just smiled and nodded my head a lot…while scooting further and further away from him along the viewing fence. I was never happier to see a ride come to an end.

My evening concluded with an experience that left me wanting to toss a flash bang (or concussion grenade to those who don’t know military weaponry) into the stupid trailer that was housing the two food carnies and their overpriced and unhealthy carnival food. I had just purchased $22 worth of food. Two corndogs, chips and disgusting melted cheese, and a lemonade. While taking my credit card, the lady tells me $21. Then she slides my card across her IPhone….using what I recognized to be the app called Square. I know, and use Square. They charge a fee. But this lady then tells me $22.69 or something like that…and tells me it’s for taxes. I tell her, “Um, your sign there says taxes are included…so how can you tell me you’re charging taxes on top of the total?” “Oh well then I guess it’s for credit cards we have to charge taxes.” To which I had to explain it to her…”No, that fee your charging is the fee that Square app charges YOU. You do not have to pass that charge along to the customer, you just have chosen to.” Oh, she says…and proceeds to tell me how tired she is, how she’s been working all day, and served probably 600 people.  Hey…cool story. Don’t like it, quit your job! Real simple.

So me, Squirrel, and little Squirrel eat our disgusting food. About 15 minutes into our feast, I notice all the ice in my lemonade was gone, and my drink was kind of warm. I make my way up to the counter and ask the overweight, mouth-breathing line cook if I can please have a little more ice in my drink. He takes my cup, then leans back (without falling over, somehow) and hollers to his co-worker (credit card lady) asking if they charge for ice!?? She replies by telling him, yes, they charge $1. He looks at me and tells me “Ice is $1.” I looked at him…and just glared, as I would if I were one of the Avengers and was trying to make him catch on fire. At that point…It became not about the money. Jeezuz, no…as much money as they grind out of you at these things…a dollar was the furthest thing out of my spending range. It was about principle now. I feel fairly confident that this guy was at least slightly nervous that he was about to get shot full of holes over a $1 cup of ice. I don’t really know why, exactly, that got me so steamed…but man, did it. It just really put a lousy taste in my mouth, and it wasn’t 100% due to the terrible corn dog we paid $7 apiece for.

Last month I invited my dad, as his Father’s Day gift, to come meet me in Vegas for a few days while I’m there in July. Well, he finally got back to me with an answer…and he will be coming to Vegas, for the very first time in his life, from July 2-6th. My dad and I haven’t really ever done a father/son trip or vacation together in my life…so it should be pretty cool. For those who find that hard to believe, well, my parents divorced when I was about 5…and she remarried a monster who was incredibly abusive, an alcoholic, and who kept me from being able to see my father. We lived in Montana during that reign of terror also, so there was also that barrier between us. 

When the step-dad gambled away his business, he moved us back out to Seattle, where we had moved from when I was 7. I was 14 now…and after a couple years, he left my mom. Which was the greatest day of my life! I reconciled with my dad, and when I turned 18 changed my name back to Souther, from Magnuson (the adopted name). Throughout high school and college, my dad and I hung out a lot…but never for very long. Then I moved to NYC in  1989…lived there for 5 years, then to Atlanta, for another 10 years, off to Pensacola for 3 years, and  Biloxi for the last 8  years or so. So I’ve been over 1500 miles from ‘home’ for the past 25 years almost. I am going to try and not play much poker while he is there and play tour guide. I will definitely take him to Frank Kassela’s 4th of July party, which is always awesome. And now that he’s become a bit of a fan of poker via ESPN, he will get a chance probably to see and meet some ‘poker celebrities’ which I guess maybe he will get a kick out of. 

How many of you have a will? Probably not many, if I had to guess. I think poker players are pretty aloof when it comes to things like planning for their death. That, or you get people who are living paycheck to paycheck who don’t see a reason for a will. I guess I suppose I was probably guilty of that to an extent for a number of years. Well, a couple things have changed for me in the past few years. #1 I had a child, and everything that happens in my life now is done with her in mind. I mean, EVERYTHING. #2 I finally got out of debt, completely, and even paid off all of my wife’s debt, which she’d been dragging around since the day I met her!  #3 We actually have assets now! A house in Pensacola, cars that are paid off, and stocks, cash and college funds to consider. Then I guess #4…people have been dropping dead left and right. It seems like every week Cheryl is telling me about a sad Facebook post she’s just read where one of her friends from school just died. Seemingly in good health, and then just BOOM, dead of a heart attack. People killed in car crashes. I mean…you seriously never know when your number is going to be up. I am not delusional enough to think I am going to dodge every bullet along the way and live forever. A few years ago, I took the first steps in protecting Carley’s future, by purchasing life insurance for both Cheryl and I, and naming the people to take care of our affairs in the event of our untimely death. Well, I felt like getting a will done should be a priority, so after doing a little research, I finally crossed it off my To-Do List last week. I ended up using Legal Zoom.com and I was very impressed. I paid a total of $160 for a Last Will and Testament and for a Living Will…which has to do with how you want your body to be treated if you end up on life support. It was so easy to do, I was surprised.  I think all told, it took me maybe 90 minutes to complete the whole process. Now, I feel so much more secure with everything. Basically, I guess it means I can now die responsibly!!!

WHO WANTS A LITTLE SCANDAL!???

I know, silly question. I have a good friend, who is also a very good writer, as well as a good snooper, or investigator! Jenn Gay is about the best I've ever known personally at sniffing out a story. She's also very good at bluntly calling people out for acts of doucebaggery. Such an occasion arose yesterday!

About two months ago, Jenn sent me a link to this dealer, a circuit dealer, (who's name I won't reveal here, just because I'm feeling nice today for some stupid reason) who had (not kidding) started up a GoFundMe page, to gather donations for...well, himself. Citing unfair work conditions, wages and travel costs...he somehow thought he could get people to feel sorry enough for him to send him money. Unbeknownst to most, I was told, was that this guy has a pretty bad gambling habit, weather its sports betting or playing casino games. In short...he's a degenerate. I looked at his page once every few days to see if he was finding any suckers. Nope. None. Not one. Ever. How embarrassing.

Then a short time after that, I  get another email...from that same Go Fund Me site. A player I've known for close to 10 years was citing that he'd just gone broke, and was basically traumatized by it. And in trying to rationalize what had happened, got into trying to explain variance. Oh brother. And instead of biting the bullet, dealing with the adversity, and perhaps getting a job to climb out of the self-inflicted hole, people were being asked to make donations to fund his summer in Vegas playing poker. Huh? For a hot minute, I seriously thought maybe someone was pulling a vicious prank on this guy. Turns out...they weren't. He later copped to it. Wow. Again, no names here.

This leads me, however...to someone who I WILL name. Why? Well, for a couple reasons. Mainly because I consider him to be (a) a con artist (b) a complete thief (c) a terrible father and (d) an addict who needs help. That and I don't know the guy personally. He'd friend requested me awhile back I guess...as so many recreational poker players do. I've never really been a poker 'fan boy' or friend requested people on the basis that we are fellow poker players....but whatever, they are out there.

I open up my iPad and start browsing my newsfeed on Facebook, and there it is. Bob Wallace,  who has called himself a 'poker legend' while accusing his detractors of not being good enough to even sit at the same table as him...has posted a very public 'apology' didn't really read like an apology as much as it did a boo-hoo story about why everyone should feel sorry for him. Basically, here is what this guy did. He found a couple backers willing to back him in a tourney at Binions and the Seniors WSOP event. Not a lot of money. They gave him the money. The money never made it to the buy-in cage. Because it got spent playing cash game. In what he thought would be shooting fish in a barrel at some cash game involving tourists, instead turned out to him  losing all of his backers money.

Now...some might ask, 'Why post this on Facebook?' Right? Why not just apologize to the two people who you affected? It's not like anyone really knows this guy, Bob Wallace, right? Why shame yourself to the poker world? Well, the thread slowly grew...and grew...and grew some more. The first few comments were typical, "you've apologized Bob, that's very stand up of you...let me know if I can help"  blah blah blah. I mean, in the apology he tugged on the heartstrings with talk of killing himself, of turning his back on his 'dreams of WSOP glory' and about hitch  hiking back to Nebraska to see his daughter and grand children.  So of course, you had those trying to sooth him. 

Then it started. The first comment from someone calling him out. From someone I don't know. Basically telling him he's a thief. Originally  I had planned to copy/paste a lot of the  comments,  but by the end of the night last night...Bob had craftily deleted the comments (and defriended the commenters) of those who were critical of him...which was about 5 or 6 people, myself included. 

The disturbing thing about what he was saying all throughout his apology and ensuing  comments, was that he basically is living in denial. Denial that he has a gambling problem. Denial that poker doesn't 'owe him' anything. He seems to think he is destined for greatness. At some point, a lady named Cindy Jones...who's Facebook  profile is only represented by a single picture of a woman that is sporting a bikini made of playing cards...a picture that is found all over the internet. We all began to doubt the existence of an actual Cindy Jones, and started thinking it was possible that Cindy was actually Bob...only he had created her to help his cause.
Cindy Jones? yeah, no likely...as this specific photo pops up on Google under several different searches. Nope...just a convenient screen grab for whoever is posing as 'Cindy Jones'

Cindy started telling everyone what a wonderful guy Bob is...that he is dying, doesn't have  much time left (unsubstantiated claim) and that everyone should help him to realize his dream. Then she started trying to drum up support by getting everyone to chip in $100. This is where Jenn Gay arrived, and called Cindy out. Asking her, basically, how fucking stupid she was!?? "Yeah...it's nice to help people out...but there are a LOT of players with dreams of winning in the WSOP.  Put your money on them! Not some guy who has stolen from his investors and now wants to be handed money. Any money raised for Bob needs to go to his investors who he stole from. Period!" It was great. And then....it was my turn. I wouldn't say I ambushed the guy. But I did share my feelings on the subject. 

The thing that some people in poker have come to realize in this game...and have made adjustments in their life accordingly,  but which some just seem to never, ever want to try and grasp, is that being a profitable poker player is VERY VERY VERY hard, to the point of nearly impossible. People talk about variance, and some don't even know what they are talking about. No, see, if you really want to know what variance truly is? Play poker...either cash or tournaments for anywhere from 5 to 10 years, full time. Then you will know! If you are not fully staked, or have a great source of revenue flowing from somewhere unrelated to  poker, your chances of being a 'winning player' are very slim. 

Me? I've been very fortunate, in that I've had a lot of backers over the last decade. This has provided me the chance to emerge as a winning player,  overall. But  had all my buy ins come out of my own pocket? I seriously doubt I would be. Maybe a little bit...but certainly nothing that could support a family. No way. And how many players are there out there who are as  lucky as having that kind of staking network as I have? Not many...I know that for sure. So what you have is a lot of players out there who are grinding away hoping for that one big score that can make it all seem like it was worth it. And you know what? Sometimes, it is. It is that happy ending. The guy who grinds for years and years...winning just enough to keep playing...then one day he has everything go his way, and winds up winning a million dollars. We all feel happy for that guy.

Then what? Does he start playing all the 10k events, and all the high-roller events? Does he change his standard of living? Does he end up broke? Or close to broke? Or is he  responsible about what to do with that money that he's been chasing for all those years? I've played for 10 years now, and I've seen a lot of players come and go for these reasons. It's sad. But it's life. Some people have discipline, and some people just don't. Some are survivors, and some aren't. Survival of the fittest certainly applies to poker.

So, this guy Bob? Well, I originally wanted to merely question his logic in putting himself on blast to Facebook World. In most of my comments, I was actually responding more to the other commenters, then Bob himself. It wasn't until his comment where he was calling out anyone with anything negative to say, and saying they wouldn't have a chance against him at the felt, that I started to lose any empathy for the guy. And then his very own daughter made an appearance, and it was official...he was a douchebag. 

Bob's daughter is Mandy...you might have to click ON the message there to get it to show up big enough to read. It made me sad for her, just reading it.
Later, I found out he'd been hired to run some guy's little ma and pop hotel that the guy had paid 400K cash for...basically his life savings, and good 'ol Bob had basically ran it into the ground...while drinking and gambling on the clock at the neighborhood casino and lounge. And then finally...I find where Bob tried to start up his own GiveForward page (surprise surprise) in which its headline reads 'ALMOST HOMELESS.' Looks like he managed to mooch about $600 from kind-hearted, unsuspecting souls. Well played Bobby, well played.


Why am I telling you all this story today? To be mean? To throw this guy under the bus? Naw...none of that is my primary motivation, though I know it may look that way. Frankly, I am concerned about  the number of con artists, thieves and liars that seem to have found their way into the poker community, and I'm pretty sick of it. So in a way, this is to serve as a warning NOT to give this particular man money for any reason, as well as a warning to be very careful about who you enter into staking agreements with. Always have some form of binding agreement, whether it be by virtue of a simple text message or email...or something a little more legal, like a contract you have drawn up and had signed, as I will be doing with all 5 of our Summer Minions. Not that I question the honestly and/or integrity of ANY of my team members, because I don't. But..you should always protect yourself, 100%.

There is also a story to be learned here about what is truly considered an apology. Now, if you truly feel personally responsible about something that you have done, to the extent that you decide to put yourself on blast on social media for the entire poker community to critique, then you MUST be prepared for the shit storm that is bound to follow. And handle it like a man. It doesn't make you a man because you said "I'm sorry" in front of the world. It makes you a man to say you're sorry, handle the shit storm, and make things right with the people you fucked over. But what did Bob do?  He simply deleted any and all comments that were critical of him and his actions...and then deleted and blocked them as friends. What that shows to me...is that on top of having a gambling problem, and an honesty problem, and maybe a lack of respect for others around him....Bob is a coward.

Monkey

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