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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Happy New Year...Back in the Beau.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MONKEY

Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Farewell to 2016....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MONKEY

Friday, September 16, 2016

MAIN EVENT STARTS TODAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

MONKEY

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

And Then the Vultures Converge!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STAY STRONG LOUISIANA!!!

MONKEY

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Friends, Come Hell or High Water

Sometimes, a lot actually, I sit awake at night. Tossing and turning; my mind racing. Lately, my restless leg syndrome has been driving me berserk...and I find myself having to turn to a pain killer combined with a muscle relaxer to finally get to sleep. It's during these long, restless periods of times that I often get the inspiration to write. I can't tell you how many blogs I've written 'in my head' while laying in bed at night. Over the past 8 years, 798 of them have actually found their way into actual print. There are easily another 500 that haven't. Once I fall asleep...my over-active brain turns itself into dream mode. I don't know if the amount that I dream would be considered normal, or excessive. I do think, however...that my true calling might have been as a screenwriter. Because, were I to wake up, move into the living room...and just start writing? I am fairly confident that I would have at least 3 or 4 screenplays to my credit. The trouble with that? My sensibilities tell me (especially at the age of 49) that those efforts would be futile. Back in 1997, as a just-turned 30 year old, I lived in LA for awhile...and one of my temp jobs had me working on an actual movie studio lot. I was basically a 'go-fer' for a big casting agent. I would sit and marvel at stacks upon stacks of screenplays that had been sent to this guy for him to 'check out when he had a chance.' At a time (currently) where movie-making has descended to re-making one film after another...and the industry seems to be screaming for some original work, you would never believe that such a condition exists, right? Well, it does. But I digress.

I have grown weary of the politics. I've lost friends on Facebook (big deal!) over this stupid presidential election. I've experienced tense and irksome conversations with people I consider 'good' friends. All the while, for me? Its simply become a contest between two individuals I wouldn't invite over to my home for dinner, or leave my dogs with for a weekend. Seriously! And worse? I've truly discovered what a hard-leaning leftist (liberal) is during this whole shitstorm of an election. Like I said, I've grown weary of it. Thank god for the Olympics. I really wasn't looking forward to them...at least I didn't think I was. All the negativity surrounding them, the corrupt IOC, the shit hole that is Rio, at least the non-pretty parts that the TV cameras don't let you see. The crime. The poverty. The cheating athletes. All of it. But...much to my surprise, it's been delightful. Aside from a few stories, and I'm sure there have been more...we just haven't heard about them. The IOC is going out of it's way to paint nothing but a rosy picture of Rio during August. Case in point, Swimmer Ryan Lochte and two of his teammates get robbed by a couple of 'fake' cops while riding in a taxi...report it, and immediately the IOC issues a report stating that it wasn't true. Huh? I mean...fine, paint a rosy picture, but flat out denouncing an incident involving the very athletes you should be protecting? Again...the IOC being the typical scummy IOC. At any rate...I will watch the final 9 or 10 days...then prepare for another wonderful football season! And in counting down the days...we are now at 16 before I pack up the girls and drive to Dallas to watch the USC vs Alabama game in whatever they call Jerry's World, our first trip to see that gigantic stadium! 

So...I should get to the theme of this post. I couldn't decide on a headline. Originally, I was going to go with 'Friends in Low Places' but damn...that could mean a LOT of things. Right? This one seemed a little more apropos. Some of you who have been following me and my life (thank you, sincerely) for the 8 years I've been blogging on Bill and Gene's site, have come to realize that I have a bit of a kind, caring, and generous bone in my body. I try to give whenever a friend is in need. When there is a disaster, I try to be the first to find out what I can do to help. There was a day of filling sandbags in North Mississippi during the flooding there, followed by a day volunteering at an animal shelter to help save displaced pets. There was the weekend spent in Tuscaloosa after the tornado there, donating tons of various things I'd collected from friends and from our own home. And along the way, I have spearheaded fundraising campaigns for other causes, of which I'm sure you remember. Maybe even contributed to.

Well? The events of this past weekend in the Baton Rouge area have hit me and my wife, Cheryl (or Squirrel as most of you know her) pretty hard. You can kid around and say...as an Alabama fan, that it's hard to feel sorry for Tiger fans, but unless you have the darkest of souls, you just know that is not even a sane way to think. Never has life reminded us just HOW unimportant something as trivial as sports is when something as tragic as this happens. And while the CNN's and the FOX News' of the world are focused more on this stupid presidential election, or the rioting in Milwaukee...a very real tragedy is taking place in Louisiana. And if you live down here on the Gulf Coast, it has undoubtedly touched someone...perhaps a handful, of people you know and care about. It certain has us. The sad thing about our media; and we here on the Gulf Coast certainly saw this during Hurricane Katrina, unless there is a massive body count? They barely pay it any attention. New Orleans got all the coverage because lots of people died. Meanwhile, just about everyone who lived half a mile to a mile from the water...from one side of Mississippi to the other....lost EVERYTHING. Homes. Cars. Pets. Lifelong possessions. But they lived! So I guess, in the media's eyes...they weren't 'victims.' 

Back in 2010, I won my first WSOP ring. It happened at the IP here in Biloxi. A fond memory. Ironically, we are just a couple weeks away from the WSOP returning for a circuit stop here, and I am anxiously awaiting that event. Sadly, one of the friends I would be typically excited to see, will likely not be attending this year. Why? Well...because this weekend, he lost it all. His house. Two cars. And a lifetime of memories. 

What do you say to someone who has lost everything? Are there even words? As some of you know...and I think maybe I've written about it before, if not here, certainly on Facebook...I am not a big "I'm sending thoughts and prayers your way" kind of guy. I consider that to be such a cop out statement. So empty. So cliche. I see it SO MUCH on Facebook...it's like everyone's convenient 'go to' comment...the one they think will suffice for all those painful messages. I almost never want to post a message that might possibly elicit anything of the "I'm sending thoughts and prayers to you!" I have two dogs that are getting up there in age. Jasper, my almost-12 year old lab...has been diagnosed with kidney failure. The vet is giving him a few months to live. I've put him on an incredibly expensive diet, and have him taking 6 pills daily called AminAvast...pills that cost $42 per 60! At night, I give him and our other dog Mollie (8 years old) each half a Deramax...which is prescribed for pain. Google AminAvast if you want...it really does sound like an incredible thing I have him on...and he seems still to be very happy. He's eating, is still playful, and that tail is still a-waggin! So until I see the joy completely leave his face...we will keep fighting! 

I bring up my dogs...because it's one of the toughest things us animal lovers ever have to deal with...that day we take 'the drive' to the vet, to give them their shot...that sends them on their way across the Rainbow Bridge. We sit there in that room, bawling our eyes out like kids again. Blubbering, talking to our pet...knowing that they've passed. And then, in this day and age with social media, we make some kind of post about it...since so many people were touched by our pets too. Then those messages start coming in. "In our prayers." "Sending thoughts and prayers." Ugh. Just know this: You will never get one of those from me. Ever! You will either get a very well thought out message, or I won't bother saying anything...which I do a lot, why? Because I just think, sometimes? There just aren't any words. It doesn't mean I don't care. Oh! I do! A lot! I just can't find the words, ANY words, that I think will help, or even soothe. 

Damn, did I ever get sidetracked there. So back to my 2010 ring experience. The guy I got heads up was a man I would become very good friends with. As well as his wife. They have truly carved out a place in the life of Squirrel and I. In 2007, on Christmas Eve...our friend Holly, while at work...had her home burn to the ground. Her children managed to get out. Her husband at the time...didn't. He laid in a hospital for 37 days before finally succumbing to his injuries. A couple years later, Holly met my friend Brett...they hit it off, and eventually married. Together, they have built an amazing family together. This weekend, Brett and Holly Alello lost their home to the flooding. While texting with him back and forth...I found myself again in that position of not having the proper words. I felt almost ashamed, not being able to produce something inspiring. Anything. Other than...Oh my gosh...that's terrible...I'm so sorry man. Give him credit...he's a resilient son of a gun! He's obviously really down in the dumps...but man, I can feel his positive attitude right through my phone. And knowing this is the 2nd time that Holly has lost her home? I just know he is being a rock for her. I feel richer for having people like this in my life.

I have another friend in Baton Rouge...a guy we all call 'Smoke.' He was one of the first poker players I became friends with when we met at a tournament up at the old Gold Strike in Tunica. My wife instantly fell in love with Charlie Oliver...and we have all stayed in touch over the years. He's gotten out of poker, and is now selling cars up there, has a baby girl on the way, and is about to be married. We couldn't be happier for him. Well? He was another friend who I felt compelled to check in on...and when I did, the news was horrible. He was stranded at his house...surrounded by water, with no way to get out. But he wasn't worried about himself. Ever since I've known 'Smoke' I've known that his grandmother was his absolute world. He was freaking out, because the retirement home where she is living was taking on water. He was trying desperately to get his hands on a flat-bottom boat to try and go save her. Eventually, the next day...she WAS rescued, and moved to a shelter, thank god. But after that situation was resolved, a new one popped up...as his father lost his home to the flooding. 

Cheryl and I both have sat looking at the pictures all over Facebook, reading the posts of good friends...and it just makes us weep. A lot of people losing homes...and not having flood insurance. Yes...we are ALL grateful that they were spared, and are still with us, of course we are! But can you even begin to imagine that pain and suffering that they are being forced to deal with? To live with on an EVERY SECOND basis? 

Well, yesterday, a former Minion, Class of 2015, Bridget Fredericks...got in touch with me. She is a lifelong resident of Louisiana, but recently moved to North Carolina to pursue her real estate career I think; I may be wrong about that...if so I'm sure she will tell me!!!! She had seen my post on Facebook expressing sympathy for all of those touched by the horrible flooding, and knowing of my past willingness to help out, simply asked me if I had a couch I could spare for her and a friend who are gathering up a van full of supplies to donate to those in need, and driving them down here from North Carolina. I didn't even ask Cheryl, who was at work...because I already knew what her answer would be: OF COURSE! We actually have a guest room! The dogs are in charge of both couches! So while she has been working on getting all the supplies together up there...I am trying to figure out what I can do to help out. I have a Tahoe, and it's pretty big, but it also has a trailer hitch, that I have yet to figure out. But I'm sure it's a pretty simple task. So I was thinking perhaps I could rent one of those tow-behind trailers from U-Haul and fill that sucker up with all kinds of stuff. But what exactly? And take it to where, precisely? She's working on that. I contemplated doing a drop off location for people locally in Biloxi/Gulfport/Ocean Springs who wanted to donate items...but then was like..."Hmmm..do I really want EVERYONE knowing exactly where I live!???" Maybe meet up in the big parking lot at the corner of Cedar Lake and Popp's Ferry? 

So, she'll be down here tomorrow afternoon or evening I think. Then at that time...I guess we can come up with a strategy. I know it's going to be a challenge, because they have almost all the roads and highways into Baton Rouge closed. Or they did, as of last night. If any of my readers out there have ANY helpful ideas, advice, etc...please...email me at ThePokerMonkey1@aol.com. I want to help! I have the time, I have the resources, and I have the resolve. It's times like these when we really need to pull together, to help one another...this isn't sports, or politics, or religion or anything else...this is LIFE! And these are our friends. Do whatever YOU can do to help! Just because the news media is essentially ignoring this disaster doesn't mean we have to. I will post something again tomorrow and let you know if I am going to organize something you can all chip in and help with...or if I am just going to help out individually. 

Well, my pain killer has kicked in, my legs have stopped whiggin out! And I finally crawled out of bed and put my thoughts into print. Guess I will go back to bed now and come up with the next great film that will never be seen! 

STAY STRONG LOUISIANA!!!!!

MONKEY

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Living Under a Microscope

So I'm sitting here fuming. I'll just preface this blog with THAT. But unlike the person who is responsible for that, I am not going to throw her name out there into a public forum, and attempt to change people's opinion of her, both as a person, and as a professional in her chosen field. I'm going to attempt to demonstrate that it is possible to NOT be a mealy-mouth, reputation-ruining asshole while at the same time sharing an experience that happened to you. And in turn, allowing those people you are sharing it with, to weigh in with their opinions. You might...MIGHT...just discover, that you were actually in the wrong! Which might then lead you to apologize to the person you dragged through the mud!

I know...you're all sitting there saying..."WHOA! WHAT HAPPENED MONKEY!!!????"

Patience. Grasshoppers. We live in a society now...where everyone is expected to be calm all the time. One of my favorite places where this is the expectation...but where they repeatedly give you reason to NOT stay calm, is the airport. I can't tell you how many times since 9/11...when all the people who work in and around the airports and airlines, suddenly became empowered with the ability to wreck your fucking life with one panicked cry for security! I can't tell you, how many times I've been on the verge of going to airport jail because some gate agent had no ability to manage stressful situations or upset passengers. My wife, the calmest, most even-keeled person I know...has had to once or twice, bump me out of the way to keep me from getting handcuffed...only to step in and nearly get herself arrested. It's simple: When you are dealing with assholes, that are also incompetent, or just ignorant, combined with a little arrogant? You are never going to win! Ever!

I saw on the news...wait, no, I read it. And it was accompanied with the headline: 'Vanilla Ice caught having total mental breakdown in Atlanta airport.' Ohhh! Pretty good click bait huh? I mean we all have our opinions of Robert Van Winkle, don't we? At least those of us born before 1990! So I read the story. Oh! Wait! This sounds like a page out of my many episodes with Delta Airlines. He was there an hour before his flight. Then he either got distracted, went to the bathroom, maybe a gift shop. That part was left out. But when he went to board his flight...ten minutes before the scheduled departure, the gate agent told him the flight had already been closed. This always pisses me off...especially when I can see the plane sitting there. But to make it worse, some dickhead had to chime in that was standing next to the counter. "Hey Dude...you have to be here 20 minutes before the time...blah blah blah" and Vanilla Ice snapped on the guy. "Hey, did I ask you? Do you work here? Why don't you mind your own fucking business, pal!!!!" Security was called, of course, because that's how gate agent's deal with upset passengers in post 9/11 situations. Everyone is considered a threat. Even passengers who are of the highest loyalty rating with their company. 

So there's that. Here's the thing: If I do something wrong, if I am a jerk...I will be the first to apologize. But if I am correct about something, and someone wants to paint me as a jerk, by CHANGING the story? Well...sorry, but that drives me absolutely insane. I had a situation out in Vegas this summer, at Venetian, where I haven't had an issue with a dealer in years. Well...Carley and Squirrel called me on Facetime. I had my headphones on, so it wasn't creating any kind of a disturbance. I was sitting in the 10-seat, so the dealer was the only one who knew I was talking on Facetime, on my iPad. The whole time I was out there, I was trying to be good about staying in touch 2 or 3, maybe 4 times a day with the girls. So I notice the dealer checking out what I'm doing. And just like I have always done throughout the years, cognizant of the rules about phone usage while in a hand...when the action would fold around to me, I would tell Cheryl I was in a hand, and flip my ipad shut...then act on my hand. Once done, I would open it back up. No big deal. Right?

A moment later, the dealer started telling me I couldn't be on it. I asked, "While I'm in the hand right?" Yes, she said. But you are still on the call even when you put it down in your lap. I asked her "Okay...so, just that we are clear, I'm talking to my 4-year old daughter, and I am putting it down whenever its my turn to act. What would you like me to do specifically, that I'm not doing?" She calls the floor. I am confused. Floor shows up...a really nice guy who unfortunately roots for the Boston Bruins...and in her explanation, she tells HIM that she told ME that I had to leave the table! Total lie. I was perfectly fine with anything she told him if it was exactly what we HAD actually discussed. But it wasn't. She lied. Bold face lie. I got a little excited. He pulled me a couple feet from the table, and very calmly asked me what happened. I told him. Another player walked over...and volunteered that what I was saying was 100% true. He apologized FOR the dealer, assured me that what I did in mid-call was what they ask us players to do, and said he would talk to the dealer about it later. Which he later came back to me and told me he had done. It was over. I felt vindicated. Again, let me stress...its not that I get a big RUSH from being declared RIGHT. I just hate being called WRONG when I'm pretty sure that I'm NOT wrong...or worse, having the dealer LIE about what took place. That makes me furious. And sorry, but I'm a bit emotional.

So...this past Saturday night...after a day of entertaining the kids, I asked Squirrel if I could go play some cash. "Sure! No drinking! And don't come home too late." You got it. Left the house. Checked the Bravo Live! app to see who had the most action. Sadly, Golden Nugget still hasnt gotten on the Bravo system so they still require a phone call. IP looked to have the most action. But for some reason, I've been wanting to support Scarlet Pearl, I think because its not owned by a corporation, and its been struggling, and I just want to try and help them out if I can. So I called, and they had a seat for me. So I went there. It was your typical 1/2 cash game in Biloxi. Lots of old-timers. Had one guy (who it turns out was really a nice fella) sitting next to me who was writing down all the hands he played. I was fascinated...especially since he was writing down the hand, with the pending action...in mid-hand. I even took a picture of just his hands, and the notebook, and shared it on my Facebook wall. It led to a pretty fun and interesting thread! 

Unfortunately, I was busy running like crap. Doesn't matter the hands. I won't make this too boring. But it was just 'one of those' sessions where nothing goes right. I finally just got into that mood you get when you're running like crap. Started clowning myself...which in turn had most of the guys at the table laughing along with me. "Hey! I flopped a set...wonder how I'll lose this one!!!" "Wow, I got 17 outs...any side wagers on if I miss again???" It just became funny after awhile. It wasn't like I was losing the mortgage payment! Oh, wait...I don't have a mortgage payment! Carley's college fund? Yeah, that works.

So, along comes a new dealer. I will refer to her as SHE. Out of respect. In one of her early hands...I am in a hand with a guy I think I have crushed. I bet $50 on the river. He raises to $100. Oh boy. I throw out a red chip and say call. She turns and looks at me. >>>???? What? I said call. I turn my cards over. She is still looking at me. I ask her again...what do you want? She tells me I have to push out the $50 extra. I explain to her that my action of throwing out a chip constitutes a call, and that me actually saying 'call' also constitutes a call. She disagrees. Meanwhile...the other guy isn't helping any by NOT turning over his cards...which if I had seen, I would have slid my other $50 out there. Not an issue. But he wasn't turning over his cards. And she was pissing me off. Show me the winning hand, and I will shove you $50 chips. Holy shit. But it was like she turned it into a Mexican stand off. Finally I just pushed out the $50. Then he shows his cards. Yeah I was beaten. Great. Whatever. Next! 

Then awhile later, in the same dealer down...and me getting creamed one hand after another...I get into a hand with a guy. It goes to the flop. I bet...he goes all in...for less. I reluctantly call, and see that I'm dead again after he turns over his cards. Okay, I could have gone runner runner...but essentially drawing dead. SHE sits there...waiting...for what? I look at her...with that..."What are you waiting for" face. "I'm waiting for you to turn over your hand." Huh? Turn over my hand? This isn't a tournament. What are you talking about? "Yes...you have to turn over your hand before I can deal another card." Is this...is she....what the....I look around...am I being Punk'd??? Is someone TRYING to get me to freak out and go ISIS in this poker room? What the hell? I look at the two players on either side of me...."Is she kidding?" They both have these perplexed looks on their faces too, followed by shrugs. Finally, I ask her "Okay, this is now the third time you have demonstrated to me that you have no idea what the rules are. Seriously...how long have you been dealing?" And you to me, swear to God, if she had said anything less than 6 months I would have acted TOTALLLLLY different. But that didn't happen. She tells me she's been dealing for 24 years. I almost fell out of my chair. Either from shock or from laughter, take your pick. 

Well that didnt sit well with her. I'd offended her. She calls the floor. Floor, who I had already had a very pleasant conversation with earlier in the night...a guy who moved down here from up north somewhere, and who really seems to 'get it' when it comes to running a good poker room. So he shows up, and I see her explaining the situation. I see him raise his eyebrows a couple times...which to me translates to him saying, "You told him WHAT??" They stopped talking. He came over to me, said I was completely right...and then asked me to try to take it easy on her. That she had been having a rough day. I said 'sure' and there was never another issue with her the rest of the night. Done, right? During the 'episode' I had posted within the 'fun thread' I had opened up on Facebook what had occurred with this dealer. Done so without naming her, taking a picture...nothing that would put either ME or HER in a bad spot.

Fast forward to today. I get a call from my wife, who had spoken to someone in the poker room...who had mentioned something about a certain post on a certain person's wall. A person I deem to be a friend. And a person who works in the local poker industry. In addition to that comment, were other comments below it...from other people in the poker community who I deemed to be friends. Basically...what this post was? That dealer...had found MY POST on MY WALL...copy/pasted it...and shared it on this person's wall...then made certain comments about it...while eliciting negative comments about me. She called my comment comical, and stated that I had grossly exaggerated what happened. Which was 100% false. I posted EXACTLY what had transpired. Didn't make one negative comment about her personally...only that she claimed that she had been a dealer for 24 years...and I found that to be absolutely impossible to believe. 

I wasted no time defending myself. I left a few comments of my own. Here is the thing about people talking shit about you. If they are true? Well, you're kind of just screwed. And have to sleep in the bed that you yourself made. Enjoy! But if they are a total lie!?? Well, I think you are obligated to defend yourself, to call out the person who is lying, and if possible, make them accountable for their actions. So, in essence that is what I did. This of course, was BEFORE my wife texted me that I "didn't have to go and make a bunch of comments on their wall!" To her, I responded with, "Sorry, too late!"

The more I read, and the more I thought about it...the more pissed off I got. Then...all of a sudden, I get a friend request on Facebook. From this dealer!!!! What the......???? Why? Did she suddenly feel remorse about how she had 'misreported' this event? Was she fearful that I might report her to her HR department? So as I was in midstream of constructing my last comment to post on her little 'hate thread' I noticed that as I went to post it...it wouldn't post. Why? Oh...because she had blocked me!!!! Imagine that! Don't like someone telling the truth? And exposing you for being a liar to make yourself not look like a fool? Simple! Block them! Delete all their comments that expose you! Isn't that such a 2016 way of dealing with your shortcomings? Scream for security! Then when they get there...just make something up! After all, its just their word against yours, right? And you are wearing a uniform, so surely you must be in the right!!!!

So...I wonder: what kind of response would I get, I wonder...if I wrote a letter to her HR department, tell them I was a customer, tipping the staff on a regular basis...a guest of the hotel already since opening. I was playing poker, had a disagreement with a dealer, made a post on MY Facebook page. Emphasize that I am not a friend of this dealer. Share with them, that she copy/pasted my OWN content...to the page of a poker community professional...who I AM friends with (which made it possible for me to see) and attempted to disparage my reputation to them with this story that she twisted around to make me out to be this raging maniac who somehow abused her? I wonder how they would treat a letter like that? Would they even care? What would you do? Is it okay to let people attack you because they think they will 100% get away with it?

That was my day! Oh, and Happy 44th Birthday to my lovely wife, and our 44th president, Barack. Yeah, strange company there!

MONKEY