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Monday, December 21, 2009

Okay, out from my cave of despair....

Alright. I guess I'm ready to talk about this. Sometimes all it takes is a 6-hour road trip to visit your in-laws to replay things in your mind, reflect on your life, think about the things that are truly important...and remember where you were a year or two (or sometimes longer) ago to get yourself to being right in the head again.

Then I logged on here and read some of the comments. Those, along with all of the incredibly supportive comments on my Facebook the last few days, and that were texted to me...have made me see how lucky I am to have people out there who actually give a rat's ass about what happens to me.
To all of you, thanks. It means a lot...and during this long drive I've realized something...it should mean MORE than I let it.

I'm becoming a bit of a ...whoa, the proper word escapes me here. I have the same problem developing in poker that I had when I played sports.

Oh...sorry, if I am killing those of you in suspense with my lead in here, those who just want to know what the hell happened at the Final Table yesterday. Okay...for you guys...I finished 8th. Yeah. 8th. Great huh? I will give details (scant as they were) later in this entry.

Back to my problem. I am very competitive. Always have been. I am also a couple of other things. Yeah, feel free to fill in the blanks with your favorite adjective here. I am overly superstitious. I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder like a mo-fo. I have raging Adult Deficit Disorder as well. And on top of all, I'm  pretty sure that I am living in Stage 1 Depression. Unmedicated. And oh yeah...my back and knees are a mess. And on top of it all I guess its safe to say that I have anger issues. I allow things to annoy me (the O.C.D. usually being the triggering mechanism, someone repeatedly playing with their chips is a good one. A guy whistling...another good one. Someone chewing their gum with their mouth open...the list is long) and they slowly build up. Then, add in other ingredients...like looking down at 3-7 offsuit over and over and over...and slowly...like a time bomb...I find myself looking for a good place to plant myself so that I can appear on the 7pm Nightly News.

Another thing that I found that does this to me is a guy who I KNOW to be simply stealing my BB on the button for 1 of two reason. (1) he is one of those online guys who simply raises the button EVERY SINGLE FUCKING CHANCE he gets. (2) He has heard that I am incredibly tight and will almost never defend my blind against a button raise. Both of these make me want to grab the longest, sharpest sword I can get my hands on, get two of my most trusted fellow poker players to hold this particular individual down...and take the biggest swing at this guy's neck anyone has ever seen. Then, when his head rolls onto the floor, pick it up off the ground and start talking to him. "Hi Motherfucker! How you doing? Let me turn your face around pal so you can look at the rest of your body. Especially those two rat-like paws of yours that keep grabbing 2.75 times the BB so you can fuck with my mind. I would say I'm sorry, but I'm not...because now, hopefully, the poker world will be a lot better place with you OUT OF IT. Or maybe that dude who made that cartoon on Adult Swim can put your stupid head in a jar and one of your idiot internet friends can carry you around with them to poker tourneys and plop you on a table somewhere and be your hands. Would that make you happy? Or I could just take you home with me and toss you out on the back porch and tell my dog Jasper that you are a new ball. He would have a lot of fun with you. You are going to hate though how he insists on squishing you in his mouth over and over and getting you all wet and nasty with his drool before he drops you at my feet so that I can throw you across the lawn again, bouncing off the fence first and back into the dog feces-littered back yard. How does that kind of life sound?"

Oh by the way...I still havent gotten into 'my problem' yet. At least the one that I am admitting to. I think those of you out there who actually know me know that I'm not right in various ways. And clearly a guy who plays poker and is talking about lopping some fuckers head because he won't quit raising his BB every time has issues, right? Come on...you all KNOW you have thought these thoughts before...I just happen to maybe be the only one who will admit to it. Kind of like the guy in 10th grade who kept insisting over and over that he didn't jerk off. Ha! Whole 'nother topic!

My problem. And at the risk of sounding Phil Helmuthian, which is what I am fearing this condition may be leading to, I will try very hard to make it make sense. I am a bit of a perfectionist. Always have been. If I fold ten shirts and put them on my shelf, and one of them is off center I will restack the entire stack. If a black sock gets into my white socks, I flip out. If I hit the best tee shot of my life but follow it up with a shot that lands ten feet off the back of the green, I come unglued. My problem, as it relates to poker...is either better or worse, depending upon your point of view.

Why do I fear that this may be my longest blog ever? Why? Because it might be. Its been a long road trip...and the way Squirrel is driving right now I have a feeling there could be a lot more to write about before its all said and done. [ she is very close to her family, and is in a real hurry to see them, kind of like you and I would be if they told you there were 8 of the drunkest guys you've ever seen, who have decided to learn how to play poker tonight all sitting at the same 2/5 table down at your local casino!]

Okay Monkey...cut to the chase. I like to win! In fact...I love to win. I want to win. Every time I sit down, I want to win. Period. Losing sucks. It always sucks. Its never fun to lose. When I first started playing...I didn't know what it felt like to win. Because I had never won. I remember the first time I cashed. I cashed light. It was in Tunica. I was thrilled. I look back on it now and I giggle. I was a poker loser. Because I wasn't playing to win. I was playing to get lucky and make the money. A joke. So a couple years went by. I played more. I learned more. I quit my stupid, boring ass job. Now I had no choice but to start winning once in awhile. Before I won I would take 5th, 4th, 3rd, and 2nd several times...which won me a lot of money but didn't give me the feeling you get after you win. Sitting there with all the chips. Getting 'your picture made' as my wife says in her Alabamian twang. And signing your name at the very TOP of the payout list. Its a fuckin awesome feeling. And once you have it...its the only feeling you WANT to have. I've had that feeling five times this year. Two huge tourneys, one big tourney, one decent tourney, and one small tourney. FIVE. All alone. Me, the chips, the monkeys, the photo, the trophy if there is one, and all the money.

So now...when I sit down at a Final Table, that is all I think about. Being the last one there. And then you can throw in one more thing. When I make a Final Table with a bunch of experienced players, and internet 'specialists' I have another thing pushing me. Most of those guys think I am this 'super nit' and that they can exploit me. Granted they also have a very high level of respect for my raises. TK Miles promised me the other day that if I would give him a half an hour that he could make me such a better player with two tables left. I don't shut myself off to anyone who I think has something to maybe offer. TK is one person who I tremendously respect. He is very, very tough. And we seriously have two different games. I think a lot of a person's game mirrors their personality. One of the things about poker that I find incredibly captivating. And equally frustrating. So when I am at a Final Table with a bunch of these young, internet boys...I feel a heightened sense of pressure inside of me where I want to crush them. To prove that a guy who plays like I do can dominate them like they think they are going to dominate me. So when a day goes like yesterday did, it just gives me a hundred thousand reasons to feel pissed.

Squirrel showed up to watch the Final Table yesterday. Granted, she was late...because she got lost. My wife...sigh....she's so pretty. During the game, and after...she told me, "Sweetie, you have GOT to quit getting so angry when things arent going good, and when you lose. You are going to make yourself crazy."

She's right. I think. Not totally positive. I have one ultimate goal. To win a million dollars. To buy us a nice house. To get one or two sweet cars. To pay off everything I owe. To have a child or two, and put 100k in a money market account to have for their college educations. And to have enough to just not have to worry about working. And oh yeah...taking out a lease with 6 other guys on a private jet, so I can totally avoid airports and airlines and their stupid asshole employees. Thats it. That is all I really want. So all these scores of $1100, $2700, $7000, $9300, $27,000, $44,000....yeah they are wonderful. But what are they really accomplishing? Other than making a little bit for my backer and enough for me to live a relatively comfortable life and not have to get a real job. Nothing really. So when I have a chance like yesterday to make a GOOD score....$71,000....which would have gotten my backer to a place she has never been before and which would have probably led to me paying off every damn credit card I owe money on...and both loans I have out...I win $9000. Yippee. And this gets me zero steps closer to my goal. Even 2nd or 3rd would have been enough to make me smile. $44k or $33k would have been pretty nice. But 9k? Pfft! And when I have all these people telling me how great I played, how happy I should be...it just doesn't fly.

Sure...5 years ago, if you told me that I was going to cash 4 times in one week...including a Main Event Final table cash...and win a Mega Satellite to get into it...not paying the $3k buyin...I would have never believed you when you told me I wasn't happy about it. Back then...I would have felt like I was the greatest player ever. But not now. Those cashes? 12th, 8th, 18th?  Big deal. Remember before this event started? I set my goals as this: Make 3 final tables, win one of them and cash in the Main Event. Not even close. But I am told I had the most cashes of any player at the New Orleans event. I'm supposed to feel good about that, arent I? Then why don't I? Simple. I didn't win. And I didn't get any closer to an easier life. Some might think that after I win that million that I will still feel and think the same way. I really don't think so. I watch Hellmuth, and he makes me sick. He has so many career cashes, so many wins, has made MILLIONS of dollars, yet when he loses, he goes ballistic. On the other players, on anyone close to him...and rants and raves about why he lost. No one should ever want to be like that. I know I don't.

So....wanna hear about yesterday? As of right now I have no idea who won. And frankly, I don't really care. All I know is, it wasn't ME...and that is who I was rooting for. Yeah, I was rootin for Monkey. Were you? I hope so. Otherwise, why in the hell are you reading this?  Maybe looking for secret ways to get in my head? Or a reason to get me 86'd from a casino? Yeah...I suppose those are always possible options.

The previous night I talked to Steve about who the Final Table dealers would be. He asked if I had any dealers I wanted to request. Well, duh...of course I did. Can you say....N-E-A-L!??? My super ridiculously lucky double dealer all week! All I asked, was that Nga and Erin Holt please not be the dealers. He said that Erin was indeed on the schedule, but that he didn't think she would deal because she was 'nervous' about dealing it. Nervous? Hmmm. If you guys have ever played with her dealing to you...then it could be argued that she is nervous all the time. She gets this very weird look on her face when she is dealing....kind of hard to explain. It would be easier if you just saw it for yourself. But she kind of fixates on the middle of the table...and stares down at it with this look on her face like she is afraid of something. Its bizare, and kind of spooky. And me with my O.C.D. I will just sit there and stare at her, unable to watch anything else...but her in her trance-like state...washing the deck...staring at one place...deer-in-the-headlight look on her face. And then she will start dealing...and 91.5% of the time she will give me a hand resembling 4-8 offsuit, or within 2 or 3 in either direction...you know? 3-7. 2-9. 4-10. That shit. But on the hands where she actually gives me an AJ or KQ suited, and I decide to get brave and play it...there is usually someone either jamming on me...or simply calling, watching me flop nothing and betting into me huge. Yay! 'Holted' again!

So when I marched into Harrah's yesterday...I marched with a spring in my step. It was sunny. My wife was on her way over. It was almost Christmas. My knee felt pretty good today. I just read about 20 'good luck' shout outs. Had my crystal monkeys, and my lucky Final table beads. What could go wrong? This was going to be a great day.

Then I walk into the theatre. I look up on the stage...the final table area...and there, sitting at the table...is Erin Holt. No way. You gotta be kidding me. This is NOT happening. Wait a second. I bet its a joke. Yeah. Thats it. Its Steve's way of fucking with me. You know? Just keeping me loose. Yeah...that has to be it. So I go find him. "Steve...thats pretty funny man." "What? Whats funny?" Oh shit. Creepy feeling hits the pit of my stomach. "That! Up there!" And I point up at the stage. "Oh! Ya...well, I don't think she will be up there long, she is just pushing through...most likely she won't even deal you guys a hand." Phew. Okay. Good. "What about Neal? Is he going to get a shot to deal?" And then...when he told me he was...I felt that jubilation returning to my inner self.

We all take our seats. We un-bag our chips. I say 'Hi' to Erin in a very pleasant tone, acting like I am not alarmed that she is there. Why would I? Because she is leaving soon, right? No reason to get her all upset. Because her and I BOTH KNOW that I do not want her there. She has been the Monkey Wrecking Ball for the last 8 months. And I don't care what you people say with your 'Oh Monkey, your just being stupid. She doesnt control the cards. You cant blame the dealer. Yeah, like she is TRYING to knock you out. Quit being stupid.' Kind of how people tell Gabe Costner that he is out of his mind when it comes to his automatic card shuffler conspiracy theory. Hey...listen...as much as Gabe believes his theory, I am 100% convinced that as long as Erin Holt is dealing to me, I am fucking doomed.

She says to me..."Did Steve tell you the good news?" I play stupid. "Good news? What? They are giving me an additional 200k to play with?"  "No, your favorite dealer Neal is going to be dealing the Final Table today." "Oh no way! Wow, thats great news!" And in the back of mind I'm thinking..."annnnnd you are leavingggggg when? Like...uh.....NOW? Please!"

Nope! Not now. Not even close. And the button starts in the 4 seat. I am in the 6 seat. Internet asshole starts the action right  on cue...raising my big blind. I have 37 offsuit and give it up. And sigh. Hand two is 2-7. Sigh. Hand #3 is AJ of hearts, on the button....and it folds to me. Nice. I raise from 3k/6k to 18k. Ben Mintz is in the BB...and decides to raise another 25k. Jeezuz. WTF. Ace Jack...started out looking like AA...now it looks like A4. Thanks Erin. @**(&@  7 more hands are dealt. All complete shit. Then...I pick up KQ of diamonds. I raise. And the old guy in the 9 seats shoves all in. FUCK! Fold. When is she leaving????? 12 hands in and she is STILL HERE!

Finally, after 19 hands that felt like 900...NEAL arrives! And not a moment too soon, as my 159k has become 80k. I've now become the shortstack. Bye Erin! On Neal's 2nd hand he gives Old Man #1 a pair of 55's when I folded 56. He gives Old Man #2, Jim Wright I think his name is (really cool dude) AK. They get it in. King hits. Player down. I make another $1100. On his 4th hand I raise with 88. No no one calls. Yeah baby, here we go! On his 8th hand I get AK. I raise. No action. Okay, drag another 20k pot. Back up to about 115k. We can do this...yes we can. Then after the 9th hand...the NINTH HAND....Jason shows up. What? Why? I look at the time clock. Its only been 21 minutes that Neal has been dealing. What the fuck is going on? I ask Steve. He doesn't really know. Maybe they are breaking early? Jolyn has done the schedule. I am now just having a mental come apart. Jason has also been killing me all week.

And it all kind of started last week, after an incident with him. Now I typically like Jason, and have known him for 5 years, since he was dealing at the Grand in Biloxi. He knows my wife pretty well, and she likes him too. But what happened in this SNG just PISSSED me off. I was in the BB and attmepting to get to my seat...but there was this guy standing behind someone sweating the player...which they are not allowed to be doing. And I couldnt get past him to get to my seat. And Jason could easily see this. But as I finally get around the guy...and get into my seat Jason swipes away my cards. You gotta be kidding me. WTF!?? "You gotta be in your seat Will." Oh I went nuts. And then HE CALLS FLOOR! And asks them to 'explain to Will the rule about being in your seat before your cards are dealt." It could NOT have come out sounding any more condescending. I was livid! "Yeah? well how about explaing to Jason the rule about keeping the rail cleared of birds? Or keeping them at least 3 feet away from the table? Or about using a little discretion when you can see the player trying to get to his seat but is blocked? Or just not being a jerk!" Yeah that was last week...and since then...every time he has pushed into my table, he won't make eye contact with me. Gee, wonder why that is? Maybe because he knows he was in the wrong? And coincidentally, I am almost positive that he hasn't pushed me a worthwhile pot every since...so when its HIM pushing out Neal...I feel about the same as I did when I walked in and saw Erin sitting up there. That feeling? DOOMED.

Which is exactly what I was. DOOMED. I blind down to 10 BB's through the effective distribution of garbage hands for two or three orbits. Then I get AK utg and do the only thing I can do...I ship. No one calls. Yay. Back to 12 BB's. But now I am BB. And 'you-know-who' is about to raise my BB again. The motherfucker. And yep...he does. And I swear to God...If I see J10 or better its all going in there. But what do I see instead? 2-9. (!@*#$(&*!@


I get down to 60k. Blinds are now 5k/10k. I am having a melt down. Squirrel is telling me I'm not gonna win with 'that negative attitude.' I am starting to wish she wasn't there. She just doesnt 'get it.' Not at all. Yeah dear, my negative attitude is exactly why my day is going like this. I am having that feeling where you want to grab your chest cavity with each hand...and just rip yourself open...pull out organs one at a time...and either start eating them...or throwing them at people. Im losing it.

Oh...Jason is leaving! Finally! And in comes....oh...whats his name? Can't remember...but he had been neither good to me or bad to me all week. But hes a good dealer, a nice kid...and I was real happy to see him. On his 3rd hand he gives me AK. Sweet. Well, unfortunately I only have one move. I ship. Guy in the BB folds A7. Dammit. I would have loved a call there. That would be my last winning hand. Carwash...who was again getting lucky all day...like the time he had JJ...and a guy put him all in holding AQ...hits the ace....and even though I had folded J10...CarWash hits the one-outer Jack. I like Carwash a lot. I would never wish defeat on him. But damn...I would have liked to make another $1500. And I know John Dolan sure wishes I would have called for 12,400 the night before with A7 when the blinds were 2k/4k and he pushed all in with Q10. But I had 140k, had been trending downward for awhile..and had no guarantee that the other guy (the button blind-raiding bandit guy) who called his all-in was going to check it down. And what the hell? A-7? Like, what am I beating there? I was even slightly accused of 'collusion' for NOT making that call. That is just retarded. And offensive.  Pretty sure it was just sour grapes since I busted him with my AA vs his A6 on the bubble. And had I called Carwash with A7 he would have been the bubble instead. Whatever. I had no save with Carwash. No piece. We have never 'hung out' before. We aren't related. Hell I don't even have his phone number! Yeah...we were FOR SURE colluding. Fucking joke.

So when Carwash raises...and I look at JJ...I get that awful feeling. Best hand I've had all day. And somehow I know its no good. Carwash has just chipped up over 100k after being short all day. I know there is no way he is raising here without a really good hand. But I have less than 10 BB's and simply can't fold JJ. I have to hope he has 10-10 or AK. But when I shove all in, he makes that face..that..."Sorry Monkey, as much as I wish I could fold, I can't" and I know I am fucked. He turns over KK. Shit. And do I hit a two-outer? Naw. Why would I on this day? I laugh a little, walk over to him...tell him I wish I would have taken him out when I had a chance, half jokingly...but wish him luck...shake a few guys hands....and leave. Go get my shitty payout...which gets tapped for 6% by the State of Louisiana. Then I give the dealers 3%...which would have been a lot more if I hadn't felt like I got royally hosed in that department. 3% from me is akin to getting stiffed.

Then came the 'atta boys' from the various players and dealers around the room. The women's tourney and the Senior's tourney was going on so at least there wasnt a setting similar to a funeral, which actually would have been fitting. Its so hard when you lose like that...early at a Final Table and have to respond to people telling you 'way to go' and 'congratulations' when you feel like a big fucking loser. You want to be gracious in defeat...I mean, you're supposed to right? I really tried to be upbeat. It was just impossible. Then I had to go wrestle with the morons in the cage...which is always an adventure. I drop $5700 in chips on the counter and a $3000 voucher and watched 7...yeah SEVEN black women scramble around back there for 18 minutes trying to figure out how to handle this MASSIVE payout. It would have been one thing to be there cashing out $70,974 and waiting this long. But 9K? Come on! For fuck's sake. And while this is going on...people are piling up behind me. I am giving them the skinny, and apologizing for contributing to the slowdown. They aren't mad at me at all. But a riot almost breaks out before they finally give me my money. She starts counting it out...faster than I can even keep up with...and all the bills in opposite directions. Again...O.C.D. strikes again. I'm having a mental fit now. Knowing I am going to have to RECOUNT this money, AND face all the bills. Where do they find these people? Squirrel and I count it out...to the side of the counter...in case its off and they try to accuse us of pocketing a couple c-notes in a scam. Mercifully its correct.

We decide we are starving and craving a good meal. So we go to Besh again. Well, again for me...three times this week. She shows her country side...not understanding what an 'amuse' is...the little morsel they bring you to 'awaken your appetite' before the meal begins. Nor is she understanding what the pate is that they bring you to spread on the hard toast. I friggin love that stuff. As does everyone else I've dined with this week. But ya know? I wouldn't want to married to an uptight little bitch who loves all the finer things in life. Because if she was like that...she would also be wanting me to buy her a BMW and fancy clothes and shit too, right? She is perfectly happy in her Ford Fusion. She's cute. Its funny watching her struggle through menus in places like this. I love her.

After dinner she takes her car and drives home. I go get moved out of my hotel room and check on my computer to see how my 3 fantasy playoff matchups went. Oh...wonderful...I lost them ALL! Every single one of them. How bad is that? And thanks to Oakland AGAIN upsetting someone...as well as a couple of other upsets yesterday, we lost a HUGE number of people in all of my various Survivor Pools...and I am still alive in some shape and form in all of them...so that was actually kind of good news. I finally get out of there...and get back to Biloxi around 10pm...where I found Squirrel already passed out. I stayed up doing laundry and catching up with my dogs. Then when I finally went to bed...I just laid there, unable to sleep, thinking about my day...about the Final table flameout. About my life. About this trip north for Christmas with the family. Our first in 8 years as a married couple. I need to act happy. Not all glum like I was feeling all day yesterday. They are the happiest bunch of people I've ever known. They all love each other so much. And at this time of the year..isn't  that really a lot more important than not winning some damn poker tournament? I think so.

Hey. I almost forgot to mention. HUGE shoutout to my good buddy Joe Cutler, or "CRACKHAAD" on Pokerstars for you clowns who only know people by their usernames (yes I am talking to YOU brandonjarret.com!) for putting together a great week on Stars last week, and WINNING the TLB (tournament leader board) for the week. What a huge accomplishment. I did that ONCE...like 4 years ago...and it felt amazing. But to do it now...even more so..as there must be at least 200-300 thousand more players playing on that site. And he is giving ME credit for getting him back into playing the smaller stakes online...which I got him into when we were rooming together down in Aruba. Fine...I will take a little credit...but all the kudos from me goes to him for being a fine player. And on top of that...my good buddy Steve "Banger" Anger...who lives up in Windsor, Ontario....texts me last night..."Monkey, look me up on Tilt....I can't believe this." So I do. He is at the Final Table of the Double Deuce ($22 buy in) on Full Tilt with over 10,000 players! There is only 6 left. One guy has 18 million and the rest of them have between 2 and 3 million. Wow. Blinds at 80k/160k. Interesting. And on the first hand out of break...Banger picks up AJ with a guy behind him raising half his stack...and as I am saying "I think I would wait for another hand man...." he shoves all in over the top...and runs into AA. Whoops. But he tells me this guy has been playing like a complete shove-tard all game...and that he would have never folded to this guy. Oh well, I know how that goes. Suppose the guy could just as easily had A5 from what it sounded like. Still, Banger cashed for over $6k. Pretty awesome for him.

Also, one more time, I would like to thank the management at Harrah's for putting on such a great tournament. The staff was great. The structures were simply amazing. Every final table had excellent players at them...and the structure is 100% responsible for that. I wish like hell that everyone would just take this example and follow it to the cue. It was perfect.

We are six minutes away Squirrel says...from her Mom's house...so let me wrap this up. I hope you all have a GREAT Christmas...if I don't blog before then...which I probably won't. Again...thanks for all of your kind words and wishes in this last week. It was very exciting. I know, I have a lot to be thankful for...I will try very hard to start focusing more on that.

Love Ya Guys!!!

MONKEY

Sunday, December 20, 2009

FUH-FUH-Fuhhhhh FINALLLL TABLEEEEE!!!!

Dear Poker Gods:

Thank you so much for answering my prayers. Thank you for the one much needed suckout. Thank you for letting me win when I was ahead not 2 out of 3 times...but 2 out of 2 times. Thank you for letting my ACES....when I finally got them...hold up...and the sweat that came with them? You just had to make it harrowing didn't you? I understand. You work in mysterious ways. And thank you for giving me the strength to make good reads and good laydowns all day. And that one good call...when I KNEW I had that frikken toad beat. Now, I am not trying to push it...but if maybe you could go ahead and make December 20th, 2009, the greatest day of my poker life, I would truly appreciate it! But if not, thanks for today, at least!

Sincerely,

The Monkey

So...here we are, its 5:18am. I am stoked! Finally, after 5 years of playing full time poker, after one countless bad break after another...the most recent in Las Vegas when my AA got busted by KK...in a hand that would have made me Top 4 in chips coming back with 15 left...I have FINALLY  made a final table in a Main Event.

In what had to be one of the longest, most stressful days in my career...I am laying here thinking about what tomorrow might bring. 9 players left...all accomplished, going after a fat little paycheck. Lose right now and I still take home $8300. But I know myself, I will NOT be happy with anything less than 1st place. Justin "LockDownTex" Allen...who I have had my share of run ins with at the poker table lately, and the defending champion...sits on my left. Mike "Carwash" Schneider...who came into the day with 16k (meager) and went on a huge run...then lost it all...got it all back...then lost it again...and who I could have busted on the bubble if I had just called his shortstack shove with Ad7d...is still hanging around too. Ben Mintz (hope I spelled that right) ...Mr. Ole Miss himself...has a healthy stack. Towards the end of the night I accused him (lightly!) of being high on ecstacy as he was handing out praise and compliments like someone rolling on 4 hits of ex! It was funny.

I will give you all the complete lineup with chipstacks when I get back there at 3pm tomorrow. The blinds will be 3k/6k with a 500 ante for another 45 minutes I think. The average stack is 160k. I go back with 159k. Perfect.

It was quite a day. And I havent even mentioned the Saints/Cowboys game. Wow. This city was filled with so much excitement. And then the game? Wow. Dallas got up big early...but here comes the Saints fighting back again...like they have done so many times this season. Then, like a replay of the Washington comeback win...the idiot kicker for Dallas boinks one off the goalpost....to ice the game...and Drew Brees had the ball with 2 minutes and a chance to lead them to a game tying TD. But it just didn't happen this time...and now New Orleans is 13-1. They had the audio of the game on the entire P.A. system in the casino, and in Masquerade, the club in the middle of the casino...it was so loud you would have thought you were AT the game. Had they pulled off the comeback...I can't even imagine how NUTS this place would have been.

So a little about my day. Started the day with 61k, which was about average. Started the day with a raise on the first hand with AJ. Took it down. I would get AQ about 6 times and never win with it. This dude in the 2 seat...who was a royal pain in my ass on Day 1...continued his ways. Total internet player. Always raising light, and raising frequently. To me, these guys are utterly stupid. When you are as deep in chips as we all were, I just can't find the logic. Raising constantly for what? To pull a pot that is less than 1 or 2% of your stack. Yet putting yourself at risk most of the time and completely destroying your table image. I kept getting hands against this putz....and kept missing flops. A deep-seeded hatred for this guy was forming within me.

Erin Holt dealt to me early and often. She has been my albatross lately. But since she kept giving me mostly 3-5...with the occasional 10-6 mixed in, she made it hard for me to let her bust me. When she left I was so happy. Meanwhile, her husband...Uriah, who I have now nicknamed 'The Butcher'...and BTW he loves it...managed to throw me a couple of sweet pots. Lucky for me Nga was off today! Who didnt get to deal to us was my Lucky dealer, Neal. Yeah...if they could PLEASE allow him to deal the Final Table tomorrow, it would be just FINE with me!!!!

Guy on my right, who's name was Rusty...and a pretty nice guy...was up and down all day. My first decent pot was interesting. In the BB....our little friend in the 2 seat...that troll, raised from 600/1200 to 2800...another one of his 'please call me' raises. Well after 4 people called, I looked down in the BB at 4-7. Yikes. But I was getting a price to call that made no 2 cards unacceptable. I called. I would flop a gutshot. It checked all the way around. The turn was nothing good. But again everyone checked. I needed a 6 on the river. I got a 6 on the river. Whoa. I thought I better lead out for a small bet, so I put 2k into that pot...and hope someone has a pair or something. Everyone folded except the last guy. He had 2 pair. That was a nice 12k pot.

Then a while later came my first 'BIG HAND.' Ed...an old guy I play with a lot...and is pretty good, but just ornery as hell.... raised my BB...again! The guy in the SB called. That's when I look down at AK.  Hmmmm. The blinds were at 1000/2000. He made it 5550. SB calls, and I decide to raise the shit out of it. Make it another 18k to call. First guy insta-folds. The 2nd guy? Yeah...he calls. And he loses. How? Well...I had so much in the pot, and he had so few chips left...when the flop came 5-4-8....he shoved all in. Yeah Yeah..I know, I havent gotten anything with this flop...but there is SO much money in this pot that you cant participate in the game of poker and find many reasons to fold there for a shove that amounts to 1/2 of the pot when you have two overs, a back door flush draw and a backdoor straight draw. So as he starts to grab all his chips I hurriedly grabbed a big stack of gray chips (5k chips) to feign 'insta call' in what amounted to a 'shadow bluff' in hopes that he would see me, then stop and hesitatingly change his mind. But nope...he did catch my move, and did stall momentarily, but jammed all in. I didn't even think about it. I called. Not the greatest call of my life. But a 22k call into a 70k pot also wasnt the worst IMO. So when he turns over 77 the first reaction by me and a couple others was "wow, how in the hell did he call that huge re-raise preflop with a middle pair?" My second reaction was "damn, that sucks...sure hope I hit an ace or a king!" I turn a 3...then standing and walking away from the table to have a silent moment of reprimand with myself...a 2 hits the river! For the straight...and I do the silent lap around the theatre, quietly thanking the Poker Gods for that one lucky suckout I was requesting that morning. About that time the guy I knocked out was storming off mumbling under his breath that it was "the worst play he has ever seen before."

To that guy...I say this: I'm sorry. Its been done to me before, that exact play. But you weren't supposed to call preflop. I have shown nothing but Top 5 hands in that situation all tourney long. And after I committed that much to the pot preflop, I had almost no option of folding there to your jam. You are a good player, and a nice guy. And I know how much it sucks to get that deep to lose like that. I hope you have a day soon that makes you forget this one.

So that was huge hand #1 and put me in good shape. The next would put me in GREAT shape...and happened two hands before the dinner break. "The Pest" would make another of his annoying small 'action raises' UTG. I would find 99 in the SB. Again...another good hand against this pain in the butt. I decide not to re-raise, knowing he will most likely jam on me. So I call. Jake Bazely, another good player...who SHOULD have made the Final Table...but had a collection of nightmares occur, combined with a couple of 'internet-player-like' shoves late with hands like A4, A2 and A7 and ran into smaller stacks with hands like AK, AJ and AJ again, he calls also.

The flop comes 8-4-2, rainbow. Good flop for me. But I am not going to check it and screw around here. I lead out for 12k. Into a pot of about 15k. Bazely folds. And then the 'Troll' goes into the longest tank I've ever seen. He stares into my eyes. I stare back. He looks away. I look away. He stares at me some more. I have NO IDEA what I want him to 'read' in me. But I am sure of one thing...I have him beat. An over pair and he would have already have shoved. A set and he would have already have smooth called. Nope, I had him...and the only question was what 'tell' I wanted to give off. Do I want to act confident? Nervous? It was a very awkward moment. Did I want him to call or shove with overs? Only to suck out? Not really. I was okay with taking the pot down there. But I also was not going to fold if he shoved...which...after what felt like 20 minutes, is what he finally did, for another 48k on top. A huge call for me, especially if I was wrong. But I was 97.5% sure that I was ahead...and I wanted to whack this guy. And if I lost, I would still have 55k...and felt like I could recover from that. So I called. He turned over 77. YES! Now just dont hit a 7 here. Poker Gods? Gonna treat me right here? I watch two harmless cards hit and walk away from the table to do another 'under my breath' celebration with myself and hear Bazely say "OMG...wheel on the river!" and I'm thinking..."wait! What!???" and am wondering what the hell I missed. I rush back over...and look at the board as the dealer clears the cards away. "Bazely...what are you talking about a wheel? Oh! you were just trying to scare me?"

No! He had folded A5 suited...yeah, he had a gutshot...which he couldn't call to my 12k bet. But had I checked the flop and Troll had checked behind...I would have fucked myself, because Bazely would have turned the wheel! Whoa! Thank GOD I didnt flop a set!!!! I would have slow played myself to the rail.

I sat there revelling in the excitement of having just chipped up to over 200k...and we were dealt the last hand before dinner break. I look down, on the button at AK as everyone is folding around to me. Nice! I raise to 7k (from 1k/2k)...Bazely folds, and the guy in the BB folds, and I show the AK. And drag another pot. And for the first time I was feeling like the Final Table was a realistic expectation. When we went to dinner at 8pm, we had 14 left. It had taken us from 2pm to 4 to lose 9 players, going from 27 to 18. We were on pace to get this over quick. Maybe even by kickoff of the football game, which would have allowed me to go meet my buddy Jeff Giraldi, who was down from Atlanta. The guy I was with 8 years ago when I went to the Beau Rivage for the first time and met Squirrel.

Well, things slowed down significantly and obviously that wasnt going to happen. I got together with Bob "Westside Bobby from San Francisco" Smith and we went to Bamboo to get something to eat. Walking in we noticed there were NO tables. Damn. But 5 of the guys still in the tourney had a table in back with a SEAT OPEN! They allowed me to sit with them. Ben, Justin Allen, Bazely, this other guy who's name I don't know but who is a really solid player and this guy from other tourneys who I nicknamed 'The Iguana' due to the fact that he NEVER BLINKS! He's also a solid player. I don't think he likes the nickname though. We got this waiter who...well, it was funny. He had this thing where he liked acting formal, and like he was working in a 5-star restaurant, but his actual level of service was on par with a waiter from Applebys. He was missing every 'step of service' that would make him even kind of decent. All the guys were getting completely irritated with him. Westside Bobby was reflecting back on earlier times in our friendship when he claims I would have "lost my mind and freaked out" on this waiter and let it ruin my dining experience. But the truth was...sure maybe I have mellowed a LITTLE bit since then, but honestly, I was still basking in the glow of having whacked the pesky troll...and having just stacked over 200k in chips. Nothing could really upset me all that much!

I will try to wrap this up...as its getting long. After dinner I would have one little streak of good cards that would get me up to 240k...then the shitstorm started. I went completely card dead. For three hours. And when I would pick up a hand like AJ and raise with it....a guy downriver was shipping all in, and for more than I could call for. No! Do NOT let this happen! I was going down, further and further...and starting to panic a little bit. Not too much, as the structure was still great and saving me from reaching a point of desperation. And no one was losing! In fact all the short stacks kept doubling up. Carwash was getting SO lucky, over and over. He shoved all in on Allen Kessler...with A7. Allen wakes up with AK. Carwash turns a 7 and doubles up. We were stuck on 11 players forever...with the 5 at my table and the 6 at the other table....so on top of being card dead as shit, I was picking up the Big Blind every 5th hand. On the other table...Justin Allen moved all in with 44. He gets called by John Dolan with QQ. Nice...this should do it. But then here comes a 4 on the river! You kidding me?

The grind would continue. My stack would get smaller. Down to 140k now. Shit. Then, finally...we hear..."all in and a call!" from the other table. Short stack all in with 77 vs. 99. Didn't even know who it was....didn't care. Just didn't want to hear that a 7 hit. It didn't. FINALLY! Down to 10. Sure, I havent won anything yet...but I am finally off this BB every 5th hand bullshit!

We combine to one table. I find the bathroom. A place I had been several times in the last 8 hrs...as I was spending the entire day pounding one bottle of water after another, in an attempt to get re-hydrated after my previous 3 day drinking contest with everyone in the poker room!

About 5 hands in, Carwash moves all in for 12k with the blinds at 2k/4k. The guy right behind him calls. I am on the button with Ad7d and decide to NOT call. Two reasons...I have 130k and don't feel like I really want to dump off 12k right there with an inferior hand...and I also don't WANT to bust Carwash if I don't HAVE to. Not after the huge comeback he had pulled off, only to lose it all, then comeback. Oh...and how did he get to 12k? Ed, the old grumpy guy....had raised on the previous hand...from 2k to 5500. Carwash looked down at KK. He raised another 25k! Folding around to Ed...Ed just smooth calls...with QQ. Me and several other players were feeling like he had AA maybe. The flop came with a Q. Ed checked. Carwash led out big....and Ed just called. Weird. A Queen on the turn gave Ed quads and he checked. This time Carwash checked. The river was ....well who cares? Not a K. So Ed bets out 12k. Huh? Carwash was down to only 24k then. What does he do? The guy just bet like 1/8th of the pot. On the off chance he had something like JJ Mike felt like he had no choice but to call. Ed shows the quads and you can see Mikes face just shrink. Oh boy.

So him moving in on the next hand, and me seeing A7...I just couldnt do it to him. I didn't NEED to do it to him. But it was also potentially an $8,000 fold too, because to bust him would save me from maybe bubbling later. Both blinds called. They all checked it to the river. And with a board of 10-7-5-7-3....he would triple up with Q-10...but would have been OUT if I had called. I mentioned what I folded and get browbeaten by a bunch of guys at the table. Whatever guys. Say whatever you want. Doesnt matter...it would have still been a pretty damn loose call with my current stack. It only looked bad because I 'got there.'

Now I just had to avoid not bubbling. I continued to blind down. I was now down to 90k. Thats when I pick up 99 at cutoff. I raise to 18,000. Then the guy who had been giving me fits for the last two or three hours shoves on me...again! He did it to me at the other table when I raised with AJ and KQ....to which I folded both times. This time it was going to be another 48k to call his all in. Which if I lost was going to leave me with only a little over 20k. Not where I wanted to be. Shit. I was feeling like his range there was somewhere like AJ, AQ maybe even AK....or 10's or J's...none of which I wanted to be up against with 99. But if I folded there and never got another decent hand I was going to kick myself. I finally decided to fold. And after several players asked what I folded, and me telling them I had 99...Kessler and Dolan insisted I didn't fold 9's. Okay guys. Whatever you say. That is what I folded...and for good reason I think. Allen asks me if I counted the pot. To which I responded, "Yeah Allen, I know what the pot was....this also isn't a cash game...I make my decisions based on surviving, not math." I am really glad I folded there.

Things were starting to get desperate. Carwash and Dolan were shoving all in and getting walks, to increase their small stacks to more than mine. Damn. Don't let this happen! Please do NOT let this happen!

Then under the gun I look down at AQ. I have a problem. If I raise...a few of these guys now think they can get me to fold by re-popping me. Do I want to raise to 18k, only to let a guy like Justin, or that other internet guy re-raise me...with, whatever crap they might have...only to be priced into calling my allin holding a better hand then them, but then coinflip fucking me out of the tourney? No! I didnt want that to happen. So I did what I think was the best thing to do there...I shoved all in for 85k. The nemesis over there in the 10 seat does his patented move of pausing...then making his growling sound. Great. He has a hand again. Here we go. This is it. But then he folds. As does everyone else. And I pick up a pot of 15k. Thank God! He told us he folded AJ. Good. If he had called and hit a Jack I would have lost my mind. And probably chased him to the corner of the planet.

Winning that pot meant that I would have John Dolan, the winner of the 1k event two days prior, covered now by a mere 8k. So on the very next hand...when he shoved 72k on the button...and me sitting in the BB....I would peel back on card at a time. I look at the first card. ACE. Dolan says..."Can I get a sweat too?" And when the 2nd card was an ACE also, I wasnt going to delay any and piss him off. I just said "I call" and turned them over. He jumped out of his seat...."FUCK! Why does this always happen!!!????" Dude, I feel your pain. We have ALL pretty much had this happen.

And by no means did I feel safe. You always see these retards slam their fist down on the table...celebrating in advance of the flop, like they don't even need to SEE a flop. Not me. I've had my heart broken too many times. I could just feel two sixes coming. But instead the flop comes down 7-8-9. OMG. I feel my stomach drop out of my body....I get that rush of shock and nervousness befall me. And I just stand there....begging it not to happen. OMG OMG OMG..please dont do it!!!!! And when he misses the turn and the river....I don't celebrate. No way. I walk over to one of the booths....and bury my head in my arms...and just breath in and out...and thank the poker gods for not fucking me. John comes over and tells me 'good hand Monkey, good luck." Real classy. And it was over for the night. At 2:30 am. Or maybe it was even later than that. In fact...yeah it was.


We all bagged up our chips...Steve Frezer gave us a 'back time' of 3pm the next day...and I walked out of the theatre, on a bit of a cloud...with a couple guys in tow, congratulating me. It felt good, very good...but at the same time, I was, and am still...so mentally exhausted. That was perhaps the longest, most harrowing 8 hours of poker of my life. Justin Allen had said the same thing only moments before, and I had to agree with him. So now...I get to sleep for 7 or 8 hours, if I can...I tend to have these moments before a Final Table where I am just too jacked up to sleep well.

Tomorrow is going to be special. The Squirrel will be here. Looking all gorgeous. The crystal monkeys will finally get to come out of their protective boxes and the sock drawer. The final table beads will go around my head. A red snapper or 10 will be consumed. And there will be a relatively large gallery watching us...as they decided this year to schedule the Ladies tourney and the Seniors tourney on the day of the Final Table...due in part to last years tourney...where on the day of the Final Table there was NOBODY still around...and it was like playing a Final Table in an airport hangar. So there should be a great atmosphere for this Final Table. My first ever Main Event Final Table. And while I wish there had been more than 80 players...say 150...and that we were playing for 150k or more, instead of 70k...money that would immediately change Squirrel's and my life...I still couldn't be more thrilled. Ending the greatest year of my poker career, even better than last year...with a Final Table in my last poker event of 2009.

I can honestly say that it doesnt matter where I finish today...I will be happy either way. But I also cannot say I am not committed 100% to winning this bitch! I want a ring. I want that 10k seat for the  Main Event next summer. I want that 70k for my backer and I. I want to take Squirrel to the BCS title game. And I want to sit in that chair...in front of that damn alligator...with the beads and the cash in his mouth...and take that photograph after winning...grinning ear to ear...yep! I want ALL OF THAT! And there is nothing in my heart and mind saying that it can't happen. I have had so many encouraging messages from everyone on my phone, on my Facebook and here in person...it really helps. And yesterday, prior to tipoff I got the greatest 'BAD LUCK YOU SUCK' post on Facebook from Kai Landry. Then three more from guys trying to compete with Kai's greatness. I know most people who are 'normal in the head' would never read these and feel good about it. But this Monkey just aint normal folks! Nope I read the degrading comments, laugh out loud at them...and get pumped!

So...to Kai and you others...I say this..."Whatcha got for me today fuckers!!!!????" Bring it on!!! I might need your very best rant to make this happen!!!!!

MONKEY

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Just entered Harrah's. Lots of Saints and Cowboy jerseys. Lots of electricity! Big day!

Lets Do This!!!

Its 10:52am. Saturday.

Just got a call from the front desk here at Pelham Hotel. I am finally running good this week! The whole town is sold out...due to the Saints/Cowboys game and some convention....but after three requests...they called to tell me that I can stay in my room. Yeah!

Which means, that after bagging up my chips at 3am last night...61,300 of them (avg 58k)  at the conclusion of Day 1...and coming back here and literally falling asleep with my laptop on top of me...I was going to have to wake up before noon, pack up my stuff...get my car, fill it up...then go play at 2...not knowing if I make the Final Table and have to play Sunday...or bust out and thus, get to drive home to Biloxi.  So this takes the stress out of it. Oh wow, as I typed that last paragraph, all the channels on my TV just turned to snow. Hmmmph.

So, yesterday was quite an adventure. It started with a bit of disappointment as we only got 80 players. So, of course...they are only paying those who make the Final Table...which should make for a very painful 10th place finish for someone...who will get to the Final Table of 10...but then bubble.

I would start pretty good. I had a pretty solid table. 3 very conservative/tight players. 3 wild/aggressive players...and 3 middle of the road types. I tried not to do a whole lot of bluffing. I either had the hand, or crushed it and tried to extract value...or I just got away from it. The reason? The structure. It was beautiful. And very conducive to a player with patience and cunning.

Rodney Corr would be my biggest contributor in the first two levels. Both times he had A9. Both times he made two pair. Only problem? I had two bigger pair. AQ and A10...and Rodney would lose over 20k to me. We started with 20k in chips. By the first break, end of Level 2, I was sitting on 38k. Then in the next two levels...it was a total shitstorm. I lost almost everything I played. AK three times, lost them all. 88. Lost. QQ. Lost. AQ twice, lost both. I made a straight...other guy had a flush. I went all the way down to 26k...but at least I was STILL ahead of the average.

Then...I go back for Level 5 and am greeted by my MVP for the week, Neal the Wonder Dealer. This guy...every time he shows up, there are double ups coming. And once again, he did NOT disappoint. The first big pot came when I checked out of the BB with 10c8c. Flopped two clubs. Check called, three way action. Turn was nothing and the first guy bet 1600. (150/300 blinds). Second guy called. Hmmm..you know what? Its Neal, and I need to turn the momentum back in my favor somehow. So I called. 5 of clubs hit the river. Awesome. Now typically I would bet out here...but three handed, that other guy could easily have been calling with a flush draw also, bigger than mine...so my strategy here was just to check and call anything reasonable.  Which is exactly what I did, and discovered my flush to be good. NICE! Sweet little 8500 pot to start off the new level.

Then IT happened. Guy on my right, in the cutoff...raises to 1000. I look down at JJ on the button. This guy is semi-tight, but has made some goofy moves. So I decide re-raising is probably not the play here. I flat call. Both blinds fold. Flop comes 10-2-7 with two hearts. He bets 2000. I raise to 5000. He just calls. Hmmm. Interesting. The turn is a 2. Hmmm. He checks. So I do the same. I plan on trying to keep this pot as small with as much reduced risk as possible. Well, when a Jack hits the river I feel a lot better. I don't think he was raising with two deuces (quads) or 8h9h (straight flush) so I have to assume I am good. He bets out 5k. I Hollywood it a little and make it 15000. He painfully decides to finally push all in. I am not folding, no way. I call. He flips over AA...and I rake a gigantic pot. As I stack my 66k in chips I can feel a mood settle over the table....hard to describe...but if I could have been able to read minds....I'm guessing it was something like "oh great...now Monkey has a shit load of chips...."

I had John Dolan at my table...and he remarked "Monkey, I hate that you have a lot of chips. Not that I don't want you to make the Final Table...I just hate it because you are the guy who won't punt away your chips. You've just put those chips in deep freeze." And he was right. With this structure being as great as it is...there was just NO reason to get stupid now. At  the levels without antes (which came in at 150/300) it just didnt make any good sense to be raising a bunch just to pick up pots that didnt even amount to 1% of my stack. Not that it stopped these other guys. I don't know their names...but they are your classic internet guys, feeling like they have to raise every other hand...and raise light...so when someone re-pops em they autofold. I don't know...there are a few ways to play. Some disagree with me, some agree with me. I just happen to have a proven track record to support the theory that if you have twice the average, you can sit there...and fold, fold, fold and fold some more....let these guys bounce back and forth between 15k and 45k all day....and just sit and hover around 60k. Every once in awhile you're going to get that moment when a guy who, despite have 20 big blinds or more, but who gets all caught up in feeling small stacked due to the piles around him....shoves all in, the desperation heave, and you look down at AA/KK/QQ and call his ass, and maybe it holds...and you pick up another nice pot.

At dinner break I had 60k. I went to my hotel room, took a shower, and just chilled out. Didn't eat anything. Didn't want to go back tired and sluggish. The last four levels of the night I didn't get any big huge double up hands or anything. In fact, the only real monster I got was KK...on the button...and with Maria Ho in the BB and shortstack (she would later bust out about 32nd) I raise and get no action from either blinds, and of course the two Hyper-Aggressive guys behind me somehow forgot to raise that time.

So I more or less just kind of auto-piloted my way to the end of the night. And with the average at 58k and 27 players left, I bagged up 61,300. When we go back the blinds are going to be 500/1000 with 100 or 200 ante. Having 60 BB's with 27 left....pretty good spot to be in.

Bowl season starts today. And the Saints play the Cowboys. The town should be pretty fired up. Especially if the Saints go to 14-0. And it will REALLY be a good night if I happen to make this Final Table. Squirrel is going to wait around for me to finish this tourney before heading to North Alabama. Thats good, I really didn't want to make this drive alone. Plus I would love for her to be here if everything goes well today and I pull off a Final Table appearance tomorrow. It would be such a great way to close out this poker year, right before Christmas. And probably assure that I will be in a great mood and be acting very cheerful when we get around her family.

My  night ended in a weird way. I was starving...and on my way out the door hit Fuddruckers. I guess I was the last customer who got served. A near riot ensued when they refused to serve anyone else. And they could NOT have been ruder. As I finished my meal, a big ass hamburger...I walked up to the counter...where there was this large black woman yelling back and forth with two or three other black workers behind the counter. So I am just standing there, about to ask the lady if I can get my cup filled with ice...to take back to my room and have for my Coke later.  Apparantly, this lady wanted something, I don't know what. And they weren't giving it to her. And this comes flying out of her mouth..."I bet if I were white you would do it for me! Watch...go ahead white boy...tell her what you want, I'm sure you'll get it!" Huh? Now THAT is a new one! Does that even make sense? I think what she did was fuck me. I told her..."Maam, I don't really need anything other than ice, and I was going to politely wait until she asked me what I want." Then I see the...mmm..lets just call her BITCH...behind the counter shoot me this glance that told me she didn't appreciate my attempts to butter her up. I really was just trying to be the opposite of psycho-lady there.

So when I finally get the chance to ask her for the ice...she looks at me coldly and just says "we closed." Yes, maam, I understand that...I did just spend $15 on a burger, fries and soft drink...and I really just need some ice to take back to my room, and since your ice machine is RIGHT THERE and full...could you not please just fill up my cup? "We C-L-O-S-E-D!" Sigh. Thanks lady! Ya...that whole being white thing really helped me a ton. People and their racial biases are so irritating.

So as I am walking back to my hotel...my stomach starts grumbling. What the hell? Oh no...don't even tell me. As I am walking along the sidewalk, I start seeing these homeless people, all wadded up in cubble holes, and some with cardboard boxes over them to protect them from the cold. It made me really sad. Here I am going to try and play for $70,000 today...and these people are sleeping on the damn street, freezing their ass off. Started getting me to thinking that I would like to get them a couple of rooms and just give them a warm bed to sleep in for at least a night. Of course, everyone in town is sold out...and its not like I am Warren Buffett. I just hate seeing people suffer, and am usually willing to at least TRY and help people in need. Anyway...it sucked, and its all I could think about when I got to my room. That is...until the burger started destroying the insides of my stomach. Great. That would end up killing any chance I had of getting any solid sleep.

Well, its now 11:37am. And thank god I don't have to be out of this room in 20 minutes. We go back at 2pm. I am tempted to try and sleep another hour maybe. Just wouldn't want to run the risk of not waking up. Of course, Steve Frazer would surely call me and ask me where the hell I am!!!!

Really looking forward to December 19th being a great day. If I can just make it out of today, this will have been at least a profitable trip...as 9th place pays around $8k. But I really, really want to win this thing. It would put me in the Top 100 in POY points, give me 10 Final Tables for the year I believe...and 4 total victories. And again...win some respect. Oh...and a 10k buy in to the Main Event in Vegas next summer, along with a ring.

Dear Poker Gods:

Please let me run good today. And if I do FINALLY get AA in this tourney...please let it hold up. Give me the strength to make good folds, the ability to make good reads and good calls to go along with it. Let me get that one magical suckout that we all need to have happen at least ONCE to win a tournament. And if a short stack moves all in to me three times...and I am ahead on every hand, can I please win at least 2 out of 3 of them? I've really been a good little Monkey this week, and feel like I am deserving of your divine intervention. And oh yeah...I did say P-L-E-A-S-E!!!!

Sincerely,

Senor Monkey

Friday, December 18, 2009

Lots to say...LOTS to get excited about!

WOW! This could be really long! I've been awake since 7am. Its 9:35am right now, on Friday. Day 1 of the Main Event here in New Orleans starts in  2.5 hours. I'm not sure why I couldnt get a good night of sleep. Maybe it was the toilet in this hotel room that runs off and on all night. Or maybe its just that 'night before the Main Event' anxiety/excitement that always causes me to toss and turn.

On top of that I am dealing with a handful of guys who owe me money. I've heard more excuses in the last week. Its driving me completely nuts! It would be one thing if I was kicking ass down here, but I literally have had another horrible week, which came to a boil on Tuesday. Yep, we will officially call December 15, 2009 the 2nd worst day of poker in my life! Next to the WORST day of poker, which was November 17, 2006....both occurred here in New Orleans. Ironic, since 3 of my best days have happened here as well.

Tuesday completely SUCKED! I didn't even get STARTED until 6pm. Showed up for a pretty well-attended Mega. Got seated next to Kai. Started pretty well. AA held up. Got paid off on a set. Turned 4k into 7k. But we had two complete morons at our table who over-betting everything, making retard calls...and making everyone very nervous. Well, donkey #1 would whack me...when, I would raise from 50/100 to 325 with 99 and get called by his AdKs. Fair enough. The flop would come 5 high...but with 3 diamonds. He bets 1k. I totally put him on the Ace of diamonds and then something like an 8 or something. I have 6k behind. Knowing how this clown plays....I feel the only thing to do is either just fold...or shove. If I make it 3k he never folds. If I call, thats kind of stupid too. And I trust my read...so if hes going to call 6k on a draw....well, this IS New Orleans! He calls. And turns over his flush draw with overs. The turn is a NINE! Of diamonds. Ugh. And do I fill up on the river? Why would I? OUT!

Then it was off to SNG-Land....where I would begin a journey through hell. I would play 4 $230 SNGs...all with $40 or $50 last longers. I would play 2 $125 SNGs. And one $65 SNG. This was about $1800 in SNG's with last longers. I would win....exactly....ZERO dollars. I would finish either 3rd or 4th FIVE times. In the last $230, with 4 left, I had a nice chip lead. We had $350 in the last longer. A $1500-$2000 score here would actually get me to being ahead for the day. But oh no! Forget it. John "The TExas Troll" would shove all in, and I knew he didnt have shit. I call with AQ. He has 89. He flops two pair. Sigh. Then I double up someone else when ahead. And finally I ship AQ into 910 and the flop comes J-10-J...and I was out! I was fuming. Then I go to the cash room. That was fun. I win about 80% of all the hands that I play. But each pot I won was about an average of $32. THe average pot of the few I lost seemed to be about $500. So I got torched there too. It was an awful day. But somehow, someway, I managed to NOT lose my mind or freak out on anyone. I am definitely getting better at accepting these kind of nightmare days. Or maybe I am just getting numb to it.

Well, on Wednesday I decided to do something that may have been stupid. I was down to $1200 in my pocket. I came over here with about $6k. After cashing in the first two events...I was up to about $7500. Then the wheels just came off. So to put almost my last penny (well, without a trip to the ATM or cage) into the $1k on Wednesday was a little scary. But I did anyway...mainly due to the fact that they got over 100 players. It would turn out to be a pretty exciting day. Had a good time, and had a good table. Again...I won't get into too many hands. But I was pretty card dead early. I had Kenny Milam on my left. Kenny is one of the coolest dudes I know, and frankly he saved my life on one hand. Heads up and pretty short...I raised him in the SB with 99. He called me with KQ. The flop came Q high. I bet out. He called. Oh no. Then I bet the turn. He called. Oh shit. I was down to 10k...and knew I was going to have to move in on the river, hold my breath, and hope he folded. Kenny had about 80k at the time so he really didnt HAVE to call there? I DO move in on the river...and get him to believe that I have KK or AA. He shows. And out of respect I let him see my cards. He doesn't go NUTSO, which is a testimony to just how cool he is.




Kenny has earned a new nickname from me. The nickname is "CRASH." Why? Well, couple nights ago, Kenny decides to go with some people to the Hornets game. On the way there, in a cab, his car gets T-boned at an intersection! He gets out...shakes it off...and walks the rest of the way to the arena. Then...after the game...gets in ANOTHER cab....and on the way back to Harrah's....BOOM! Cabbie slams into the back of another car! Kenny just shakes his head...climbs out of the car...and again...walks it off! Hilarious! He likes the nickname..and by the end of the night had several people using it. A star is born! I am kind of the new king of passing out nicknames. Just ask Rooster!

Another fun thing was going on this day. I am pretty well known by most. And this isnt always a good thing. And since a few guys had to go to bat for me to get me back into this place...there are more eyes watching me than would typically be desired. So pretty much EVERY move I have made has been scrutinized by most. There are those handful of dealers who know how thick the ice is that I skate on...so some of them actually try to FIND something to fuck me with. It sucks...but its reality. I was intercepted on my way in Wednesday by Steve Frezer...given a mini-lecture...then given another one, the same one pretty much, by Troy when I got to my table. So we started a 'point system' based on Monkey's behaviour. For every dealer that came and went without ANY kind of transgression, I would earn a point. I would win bonus points for some things, and risk losing points for other things. By the end of the night, I would have 26 points.

I would also be the last one out. We were playing either to the money, or 2am, whichever came first. For the last two hours, I was shortstacked as shit. But the structure is SO good, that I was never desperate. I was incredibly patient...and finally...when a guy's JJ got cracked by AK on the other table, I had made the money, for $2100. Thank GOD!!!! We now had 18 left. The players remaining read like a who's who of all the good players on the Gulf Coast. Again...good structures equal good players. Tyler Smith, TK Miles, Kai Landry, and several other excellent players. I had my work cut out for me if I was going to make another 1k Final Table. But I sure was relieved to be in the money at least. Well, Tyler likes to raise a lot...and when I get AA UTG, I think, "hmm..pretty damn good place to limp for 1200 (with 13k behind) and hope someone raises or moves me in." However, these are almost ALL good players...and as soon as I limp in, its like they ALL knew I had AA. I couldn't even get the SB to complete! Then I go and flop a damn set. I got nothing from Tyler. Nothing. That hurt. I then proceed to go three orbits with nothing. 9500 left. Yikes. Tyler raises yet again and I have Ad8d. I KNOW I should have shipped there, but I don't.

Frenchy...who's real name I don't know...calls him (with 10-10). Long story short...I end up making a full house. And would have gotten tripled up. And had an ample shot at making the Final Table. So on the next hand when I go all in with KQ...I am lucky enough to run into KK. Oh...how nice. And didn't pick up anything to help me. I was out 18th....and it was 2am. They bagged their chips. I left to my hotel. Then I joined up with Kai and we went down to the Penthouse Club...which is really kind of a nice strip club. It was our second visit. Already there was Gabe Costner and some guys from Atlanta...as well as this girl Andrea who is either dating or just hanging out with Pasha...Antonio Esfandiari's brother, who I met in Aruba 4 years ago. Nice kid. Andrea lives in Cleveland. We hung out there til they closed at 5am.

Got up yesterday...and went down to play the noon Mega. It was one of those days when everything just went really, really smooth. I was never short. I never had a ton. But I always had enough. And I had a really good table. John Westra came to my table and got me drinking with him. Him and I totally stayed out of each other's way too. Meanwhile, Kai was busy going out 7th up on the 1k Final Table. Tyler would take out TK. By the time I won the Mega...I think they were down to 5 up there.

The hand that would end the Mega came when Captain Tom Franklin moved all in for 14k. I looked down at 66 in the BB. The blinds were 600/1200 I think. I had 45k. It was a tough call. But we had 7 left....if I called and won, it was over. If I doubled up Franklin....well, that would just be bad in every way. I was doing the math...and thinking it out...when he started yapping...and once that started, I knew he wanted me t fold. Then he does what he will probably regret doing...he calls CLOCK on me. Big mistake sir. I instantly call. He has KQ. He flops a Q. Dammit. But when a diamond on the turn makes 4...I look at my cards....see the 6 of diamonds, and quietly ask the dealer for a diamond on the river. 5 of diamonds! Yes! Game Over! We win. Very, very satisfying feeling. Didn't have to play the late-night Mega. Thank god!

So then me, Kai, John Westra...and later we were joined by Keith "The Angle" Ezykowich....went to Besh Steakhouse and just feasted. Oysters again...and I had a great filet! And a really good bottle of Pinot Noir. It was the perfect way to end the night. Got back to my room at a good hour. Didn't play ANY poker after the Mega win. Now I am just fully dialed in on playing well in today's Main Event. If I lose today, hey...not a big deal. I will get in the car, drive home...and be ready to head north to Florence, Alabama with Squirrel for Christmas with her family. I make it past today...well, I guess she will leave without me. ANd then I just have to make sure I make the Final Table on Sunday so she wont be too mad when I show up two days late in a seperate car.

Oh, in yesterday's Mega I finished with 9 'behavior points.' I am on FIRE! But 26 is going to be tough to beat. But with the Main, long blind levels....I got a shot at it.

A couple of really nice ladies who read my blog, and are on my Facebook came down for a few days. They made a final table...good for them!!! And they gave me a gift! Really nice! A big ol coffee mug that had a Monkey on it...the handle is the Monkey's arm. It was really nice of them. If you gals are reading this...thanks again!!!

What else? I know I had a LOT of things that I felt I needed to write about...but now, for the life of me I am forgetting a bunch of them.

Despite the four or five awful days I've had on this trip...I guess cashing three times and winning the Mega for the chance to play in the Main has to be looked at as positive. But like I have said before...you start winning, and you just expect to win even more. Makes it tough. High expectations. I really just want to have one GREAT day in a Main Event, like I almost had (AA cracked by KK) at Venetian last month...where I can win enough money to bring Squirrel and I everything we NEED...and give us some peace of mind. Plus, I would REALLY REALLY like to take her to that BCS Title Game in Pasadena. They said $275 tickets went on sale at 8am the other morning....and I was totally going to get on there and try to get 4...but then like a dumbass I didn't wake up and remember to do it. WHo knows? Might not have gotten through anyway. But now everything I am seeing on Ebay is through the roof.....like $900 a ticket. Jeeezuz. But if I can get a top 4 in this Main Event....I am taking her! It would be the experience of a lifetime for her.

I can't think of anything else right now. I need to go back to making notes on my Blackberry when I am going to write about something on here!

Well, time to take a shower and get ready for today. Lets have a GOOD ONE!!!!!!


MONKEY

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sunday night....back to work tomorrow.

So..when we last left off I was errantly telling you I flopped a King with the guy holding, and putting me all in with AQ. Yeah...that might have caused some confusion huh? My bad, and I just edited that post. It was a Queen high flop? Probably typed K because that was what I was needing...or a diamond. Sorry.

Well, that SNG finally did kick off. On the first hand I would get JJ. I ended up winning a nice pot to start out good. But I would inevitably lose. Then I would lose another. And another. Then chop one three ways, and lose another...finishing 3rd when I really thought I had it won. So instead of going to meet my boy Charlie "Smoke" Oliver and Tim (Nickname Pending) Hebert and others down at Rick's Caberet I instead decided to call it a night and walk the 2 blocks to my hotel, Pelham Hotel. I got in at 2am, and was asleep by 2:30.

Why am I staying at this place? Well...there is some weird shit going on with Harrah's. And I am going to tread lightly because they are treating me so well, and just for the fact that they let me back in. But I think its even got the poker operation's people irritated. See, they 'say' that they 'hold' a block of 400 rooms strictly for poker players at the Hilton and at the Doubletree. Now that is a LOT of rooms for just poker players. And we ALL know that us poker players tend to double up on rooms. So you are talking about approxiamately 600 players if all those rooms are being reserved by poker players. So, they have a disclaimer on the site saying 'all reservations must be made by Nov. 21st to ensure a room' and you have to let them know you are coming for the poker tournament.

This happens here all the time. And its the only tournament that I travel to go play where they claim to be 'sold out' of rooms a full WEEK ahead of the event. I'm pretty sure that most players are like me, in that they make their travel and hotel arrangements at the last minute, relatively speaking. So when the majority of us show up, and there are NO rooms...what do we do? Well, I got on Hotels.com and found this Pelham place...that looked like it was going to be a bit of a russian roulette deal. Read the reviews, some horrible, some okay, few very good. But shockingly...I have been very pleased. Getting good maid service every day. Good water pressure. Temperature in the room is okay. King size bed...decent mattress. All the lights work. Good closet space. A safe. Zero issues to speak of. And very close to Harrah's. The day I got there, Larry Barnett the poker room manager, actually called me to tell me they had a room open up if I needed it. So that was very cool, and much appreciated, but I was all set. And at $57 a night, which is less than the $60 poker rate at Hilton.

But this brings us back to the actual issue. As I look at these fields we have been getting for the events...all at or below 200 a tourney...I have to ask the obvious question...."who is staying in these 400 rooms at the poker rate?" Clearly not poker players. 400 to 600 players aren't coming to New Orleans and then NOT playing. So it has me thinking that their other departments are putting those rooms in their pockets and using them for their own customers. Its not cool. Not at all. I don't know how they are going to fix it. And frankly, I don't have the energy or the desire to pursue it. I am kind of tired of fighting the good fight for all you poker players...because it always ends up with me getting shafted by someone or some place. Not worth it anymore. But...if you ever decide to come play in New Orleans in the future...book this damn thing two weeks in advance if you want that $60 rate. That...or do something really cool. Get together with 5 or 6 of your friends and rent one of these super cool houses they have over here for 10 to 15 days. You can get them very cheap...and it gives you a real flavor of the 'real' New Orleans, which is kind of fun. Plus if you can get in with 5 or 6 people you sincerely enjoy...it makes for a really fun experience.

Meanwhile...the actual poker tourneys have been great. By now you guys know I finished 12th in the first one...missing the final table by 3, and 8th in the next one...which was my first ever cash in a 6-handed event. That was pretty cool, but I sure wanted to make that 6-handed final table. In both tourneys I was short on chips all day...then made a meteorical rise in about Level 10 of both. The structures are just great...which is, as predicted by me earlier, resulting in a LOT of good players making it down into the money and deeper. That is what I love to see. I hope some of these other casinos and other tournament directors are paying attention to whats going on here. They have found the perfect balance. Not too many chips. Which always encourages these bozo/moron players to constantly overbet their hands. The perfect amount. And combined with a perfect structure...we are getting deep and everyone seems to have 20 big blinds or more...which really changes the way things play out. Granted, you are always going to get your shove-tard...we all know who they are...don't think I have to call anyone out on that one!

Yeah, Friday sucked. Got taken out on that KQ vs AQ hand. I would lose with the same hand on Saturday in the $550. And it really sucked. I started the day really good. Had a lot of good hands and was chipping up nicely. Made quad 6's on a hand. Flopped a set of ACES twice. Flopped a set of Kings...that became a boat. Then had a hand where I almost wanted to kill myself, but instead got doubled up. Guy limps behind me for 200. I look down at 10-9..on the button...and decide to call. Grab two and throw them in. Oh SHIT! Two purples! I even blurt out..."Oh..SHIT!" Well,"Magnet" in the BB...thats his nickname...I can't recall his actual name...CALLS the 1000. Great. The guy behind me folds. Well the flop comes 10-7-8. Whoa. Not bad. He bets out 1500. I look at him. Then say "dude, I know you are just playing at me. You know I screwed up on that raise...but I actually nailed that flop...."  To which he responds..."You think so huh? So did I!" Hmmm.....

Tough spot. He has me covered. I have about 13,500 behind. I just cant find a good reason to fold there. But I know how this guy plays too. If I re-raise...I am giving him position to re-pop me. And then I am really in a pickle. So I just decide to go all in. Well, when he SNAP CALLS I figure...fuck, this guy must have ....jeezuz...what? He called 1000 preflop!!!??? 6-9? A set of 7's? or 8s? Yeah that makes more sense. Guess what he turns over? EIGHT-FREAKING-NINE! yah! I am not kidding. The turn and the river brick...and I now had around 27k. Awesome.

But then I move tables. And rather quickly, with the blinds at 150-300 I raise UTG to 1100. This guy...oh this guy. He had two moves....all throughout the tourney. ALL IN...or LIMP IN. Guy almost NEVER raised. Either LIMPED...or SHOVED. Well, he shoves. It folds around to me. Oh..yeah. I have JJ. Now this guy's ALL IN means almost nothing to me. I'm thinking AK. But more than anything, I just want this guy gone. Its 6600 more to call. I call. He has QQ. Fuck. Flop...Q-9-3. Shit. 10 on the turn, oh! Wow...how bout an 8 or a K? What? A four instead? Great. Grrrr...

This same guy would pull this same move with QQ two other times. Once he was up against JJ again. The other time...he was up against KK...and luckboxes himself a Q on the turn. What a joke. Right about Level 8 I go card dead. Bad. This guy on the button when I was in the BB was preying on my blind all game and it was getting old. Granted, he did show me some decent hands. But I think when he raised from 400 to 1600...and I folded A9 face up...only to have him SHOW ME A9...that it was then that I became hell bent on busting him. Or, well...now...doubling up through him. So when he raises me for the umpteenth time....at 250/500....to 2200...and I look at KQd....I feel pretty good about my chances. But with 14k....I just don't think shoving is the way to go. I call. The flop comes K-Q-7. Yahtzee! I decide to bet out though. For two reasons....(a) there are two hearts out there and (b) my check raising hadn't been going to well the last couple of days. Plus...this guy hated to fold after he had raised preflop. He raises me. Hmmm. Really? Does this guy have KK or QQ? Holy shit, how bad would that be?

What makes this whole thing worse? How about the fact that this whole tourney I have managed to fade my two biggest 'cooler dealers' the whole time? Erin...who is married to Uriah....is one of them. No idea HOW I have faded her all week. And Nga...pronounced 'Nah' as in....am I gonna make it through your down without getting put on the rail? Na! So when she pushed in I had that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I decide folding here is not in the plans...and I shove all in. He snap calls. Oh shit. But he turns over AA. Oh...wow. Good, I think. No 7! NO A! Turn is a 4. Okay, okay...cool, cool! No 7, no 4, no A!!!! River? FOUR! Son of a bitch! Come on! FML FML FML FML!!!!!!!

I gather my shit. I storm off...out to the hall....which was empty, thank god....curse, throw my hat....curse some more...and walk into the mens room, lock myself in a stall...and just sit there. Fuming. Then Matt Russell texts me.

Shit. Forgot, we had plans to meet for dinner at Besh Steakhouse. Love that place. And I was only 10 minutes away from dinner break. I should have been going there with a shit pile of chips. Dammit! Well, I didn't want to ruin his dining experience, so I did my best to shake it off. Meanwhile, Squirrel was trying to talk me into coming home for the night to see her and the 'kids' (my dogs) then go back the next day. One drawback was that it had been raining like a MOFO all freaking day and night. But...the thought of getting the hell outa there for the night was kind of appealing.

So I go and have dinner with Matt. It was awesome as usual. Corn meal fried oysters as an appetizer. Organic mixed green salad. They have this amazing bread and pate butter too. For dinner I had the wild boar with cheese grits. Amazing. One of them had the Ribeye, the other had the soup sampler then ...mmm...can't remember, but we all sampled a bit of each others meals, and they were all great. Had two nice glasses of Pinot Noir. Yeah...the meal really took my mind off the lousy tournament exit. And Matt is a genuinely good guy, who I like hanging out with. He lives in Houston and is married. We were joined by another of his buddies from Houston, who I play with a lot...but for the life of me now can't remember his name...sorry man, if you are reading this.

So I did decide to come home. Squirrel was very happy to see me. She had a hot bath waiting for me with candles and everything. So cute. She's such a great wife. We had a wonderful evening. Stayed up a little TOO late...and so when 9am rolled around, I just wasn't feeling the desire or ability to get up and get on the road to play at noon. I'm kind of glad too, since I heard less than 100 showed up. This small field thing sucks. I guess a LOT of it has to do with being a week or so before Christmas, right? Well..its just ashamed...because the last couple of events I have played down south...at IP and then now here at Harrah's, the tournaments have been GREAT! Killer structures, good dealers, good floor people. It just sucks to not have the people turn out.

I spent all day today watching football and spending time with my dogs, and then Squirrel. She shot over to Mobile this afternoon to wrap up most of her Christmas shopping. One thing that is great about her....we have a pretty good system now...I give her money, she writes my name on whatever she buys. I used to hate Christmas for the reason that I just hated trying to make everyone happy by buying just the right thing, and having to fight the crowds. Now I have her for that. Yay! I went and met her at Saki for sushi. It was good. Service was decent. Then we came home. Out of 5 fantasy teams, 3 of them made the playoffs. In the first league...I won my opening round game. In the other...I won also. Sweet. And in the last one...the Beau Rivage league...where my team name is SPITE MONKEYS...for obvious reasons...it has worked out perfect. Squirrel has a team in there also...we both got hot at the end of the season...and she got in on the last week. Our first round games today had us in opposite brackets! Nice! Why? Its winner take all. We BOTH won our opening round game! So if we both win next week...we play for the championship. We will call that a WIN/WIN! Not sure if she is going to take it seriously or not...wanting to beat me. I suppose she will. But I have to admit...all season long I've been wanting to win that Beau Rivage league.

Meanwhile, in the Venetian's $100 Survivor Pool, run by some of their dealers and floor guys...23 started...and after one guy lost with Pittsburgh...that one is down to just ME and another guy, a dealer. Wouldn't THAT be nice!?? Nothing like winning money in pools and fantasy leagues.

Its getting late. I really wanted to snap off a quickie blog to you guys before heading back in the morning for the $340 tomorrow...but as always, this got a little longer than expected. Oh well. Hopefully tomorrow night I will have some good news for y'all. I really, really want to win, or at least get a top 3 this week. Oh by the way...a pretty good buddy of mine, and a guy I  know a lot of you know is going through some tough times...Gabe Costner...put together a nice run, making the final table of Friday's $340...and taking 3rd. That makes me very happy for Gabe. He really needed something good to happen for him.

Okay, good night. Talk to ya soon!

MONKEY

Friday, December 11, 2009

2 days. 2 cashes. No Final Tables.

Sitting here pecking away on my new Dell Mini that is about to go dead. Really thought the battery would last a lot longer than this. Im sitting here, waiting...and waiting...and waiting some more, for this $125 SNG to start. Its 4:30. Why in the hell am I here, you ask?

Well, unlike the last two days...that ended with me giong out around 11:30pm with money in pocket, and the sour taste of not making the Final Table but acquiring a little street cred, some much desired respect, and the chance to let the Harrah's bartender try his luck at making the perfect Red Snapper for those who were fortunate enough to make the money with me, today did not end as well...and my shot at 3 consecutive cashes went up in smoke.

Yeah...short all day...and at 150/300 with 25 I raise in early position with KdQd and get 1 caller. Flop comes Q-4-5 with two diamonds. Nice. Almost a good check raise spot...but hell, I only had 3200 left with 3000 in the pot. No real sense in check raising there. He either has something and will call or he will fold. I bet. He puts me all. Okay...he has AQ. Of course he does. And do I hit a K or a diamond? Why would I? Oh well. I went out gracefully. Just wasnt my day. So now...here I am...in SNG-LAND....waiting to try and build the bankroll a little bit. Oh! Finally...we are sold.

I wont get into too much of the hand play from the first two tourneys. Hey...let me post this and come back and finish it later. Lets see if we can't try to win this SNG. If not I might go to the room and take a nap. Pretty tired. Lets win this!

MONK

Monday, December 7, 2009

RoLLLL TiDDDDDeee! GeeeaaauuuXXXX SainnnnTTTsss!!!

Alright alright...settle down folks! I am NOT incarcerated! I logged on the other night and saw all these comments that always seem to pop up whenever I go a few days without blogging. But go almost a week...and ya'all get downright ornery!!!!

Its been a bit of a slow week, kind of. Wrapped up the meds for my kidney stone situation...and slid in a few follow up visits to the doctor. Found out my Crestor is REALLY having a good effect on my cholesterol levels. That's very encouraging. Also, my screwed up knee? That always seems to swell up huge when I am in a prolonged period of sitting at tournament tables? Saw doctor about that as well. He put me on some anti-inflammatory pack program thing....6 pills one day, 5 the next...so on and so on...til today is the last...and my knees feel completely great now! No swelling. No pain. Nice! Just in time for New Orleans Harrah's event!

Went out and bought the adapter for Xbox360. I am now in the world of XBoxLive. How cool. My buddy Joey "LuckBox" Gross up in Baton Rouge got me initiated the other night in a friendly little game of Modern Warfare 2. Good times. Cool features on their XBoxLive too...you can watch all NetFlix movies on streaming video. And on my new kickass Samsung...even sweeter. Also picked up Assassin's Creed 2 and Flashpoint...two pretty killer games. And I am almost finished with my 9th Vince Flynn novel, "Executive Power." Not my favorite of the bunch...but still decent. After that its "Memorial Day" and then on to the latest one just released, something with the word HONOR. And that will be all of them. Then I guess I read the new Grisham novel and then the rest of the Stephen Coonts books. I have also come to the conclusion that I have GOT to get me some glasses. My eyes are getting awful.

I arrived at that decision after my new laptop arrived. Well, actually, my second laptop arrived. See, I bought a new Dell Studio 15...very nice, with the new Windows 7, which takes some getting used to. And then I discovered my portable drive is missing. So I'm bogged down with trying to move my files from the old jacked up computer to the new one using disc-burning as a method. Slow and methodical. Well, I kept thinking...hmmm...do I want to get one of those mini laptops? Kevin O'Leary is always carrying his around at the Venetian. And its the reason he doesnt get told to put it away...cuz its small. I broke mine out there one day...and got reprimanded. Sigh. Plus...there are just places where it would be very handy. So I went ahead and bought one. It showed up two days later. Wow. Fast. But when you are surfing the web the text is REALLY small. MUST GET GLASSES!

Shall we talk football? Why don't we! What a week! WHAT AN EFFIN WEEK! First, I win the Confidence Pool last week. Then, I almost win it AGAIN this week. If Minnesota had won last night...and Green Bay wins tonight, I would have taken it down. But whatever. What a day Saturday was. Squirrel and I strapped on all our Bama gear and went out to watch the game. I have to say, I've watched that team all year and they have often times looked very beatable. But not Saturday. Nope. They looked about as good as I have ever seen them look. What a performance. Need a 3rd down conversion? No problem. Need a big stop on 3rd down from the defense? You got it! Need 6 to 8 yards from your running back every 1st down? There it is! Thing about it...with Florida...it wasnt until about 5 minutes remained where they could really relax and feel like it was in the bag. Squirrel was about as happy as I've ever seen her. I was happy for her. There was a lot of class exhibited at the end of the game...with Saban instructing his boys to take a knee on the 12 yrd line...with just under two minutes remaining and Florida with 2 timeouts. And then Urban Meyer did the right thing and didn't use them. After the game the two QB's, McElroy and Tebow were about as classy as you could ever want to see two guys be. It was all just very impressive. And holy smoke, Bama is in the Title Game...albeit against Texas, who did everything they could to NOT win against Nebraska. Talk about getting lucky. Wow! But...it does have a nice ring to it....Bama vs. Texas. First time they have met in 30 years. Two teams steeped in tradition. Bama is an early 3.5 pt favorite. I think that is about right.

As far as going to the game? I would really, really like to take Squirrel to the game. Its on a Thursday. On Saturday there is a party in Vegas I would kind of like to attend. It would make for a fun weekend. But a very expensive one. So...with that in mind, I will be requiring a very big victory of some sort this week coming up in New Orleans. I started pricing tickets...good gawd...like $700 to $1000 a ticket. Crazy. But what an experience. I went to the Rose Bowl in 1991...the year we played Michigan for the National Title. I sat about 50 rows up in the end zone. The Rose Bowl is amazing. Huge stadium. Beautiful field. And my Huskies beat the snot out of them. It was a great, great day. Speaking of great days....finishing the season with a 42-10 ass-whooping of Cal on Saturday was a helluva way for us to end our season. From 0-12 last year to 5-7 and narrow losses to LSU, Notre Dame and two others has got to have Husky fans feeling optimistic about the future. Now if we can just convince Jake Locker to stick around for one more year...we might actually make a bowl game next year! Good job Dawgs! Good job!

The Saints? WTF is going on with that team? I mean....every time someone has them on the rocks, they just seem to find the ability to come back and win. They have that feel of destiny to them, dont they? Granted, while I would like them to win every game...on this particular Sunday, with them having just thoroughly pummeling the Patriots...and having clinched their division with Atlanta losing...I kind of had a reason to root against them. I am in this guy's Loser Pool...and we are down to only 5 people. Well, one would go out after taking Arizona to lose. And two others had Washington to lose vs. the Saints. Had Washington decided not to gift wrap the game and hand it to the Saints...I would be heads up with this other person for $3400. Would have probably been content to take $1700 each. On top of that...I am down to 3 in the Venetian's $100 Survivor Pool. We all agreed to take $400 each and play for the remaining $1000. And I am still alive in my $100 Survivor, my $25 Survivor, and my $50 Midseason Survivor. So hypothetically, its shaping up to be a pretty damn good year in the Pool department. My Bowl Pool starts on the 19th. I won that sucker for about $5,000 two years ago. Regardless...to see the Saints sitting there at 12-0 is simply incredible. I would love to see the Saints and the Colts run the table...and meet in the Super Bowl, both 18-0. Guess the Dolphins and their tub of champagne would be kinda screwed then, huh!??? I wonder who Archie Manning would root for? Tough one huh?

Did you think you were going to read about poker here? Hope not. At least ...well, it was a slow week in poker. I did manage to get out one night and play some cash game. Brandon Jarrett is in town, or was. He convinced me to come meet him one night (Friday night) at the IP...to play some 1/2. He didnt last long. He was losing, and not taking it very well. I was up and down and not really caring that much. Well, I had been wrestling with insomnia really bad for like two weeks...and with New Orleans coming up, really needed a solution to this sleep situation. Keep not falling asleep until like 5 or 6am and then sleeping in til 2 or 3. Not good, not good. So I decided, since I knew I was going to have to go watch the Bama game with Squirrel on Saturday at 3pm...to just pull an all nighter and try to pull myself out of the funk. I hit the wall at about 7am...but knew I couldn't give up then. If I did it would just screw me up even more. So I slogged on. We had a really fun table for the first 8 hours. The last 6 hours? Not so much. In fact, I pretty much hated everyone at my table. At some point there was a conversation about this Christmas tree Squirrel has constructed in our living room, and the cost associated with it...and this old curmudgeon decided to turn it into me 'trying to impress people with my expensive Christmas tree.' Huh? Dude...um, really? That's what you're taking from this conversation? Same guy also didn't want to do the 'put a dollar on the button when its your button to act as a tip for the dealer if you should happen to win a hand on the button' thing that I started. Simply put, the guy was an old pecker-head. Fuck him. So I finally crawled outa there at like 1:30pm. Got home...got into my Bama gear...popped an Aderol (life saver!!!) and was good to go! And now...my sleep situation...lot better place!

I have been getting slaughtered on Pokerstars all week. I won a $12/180 for $600 like Tuesday...and every since then have just gotten murdered. Nothing holds up on that site. No one ever folds. Draws always hit. Over cards always call when you move in with, say 10-10 on a 4-5-9 board....and hit. I bubble like its my job. Its just ridiculous. And trying to win the fucking PCA trip? What a joke. This has become like a 5 year odyssey that always ends the same. Get deep in everything, and get hosed. Or win Steps 1, 2, 3, 4 and then get fucked in steps 5 and/or 6. I just think I am destined to NEVER ever win that trip. As much as I am dying to make that trip and play that tourney. Thats January 5th til like the 12th. Then there is this tourney here at the Beau Rivage. Of which, of course, I am still not 'allowed' to play in. So I have NO IDEA what January holds for me. Depending on when the Borgata Winter Open is..I might go play that. But I also booked Squirrel and I to go to Seattle for a get together with my family from the 23rd to the 31st. And if I win something in N.O. and decide to take Squirrel out to Pasadena for the BCS Title Game...I wouldn't be able to play Pokerstars PCA anyway.

I kind of just wish Johnny and Ken would call and tell me I can play the Beau Rivage event. I don't even care if they let me back in to play in their live room, or their weekly tourneys. If they could just allow me to play the big tourneys there, I would be perfectly fine with that as a compromise. And not write a single word about them. Maybe they will surprise me. Who knows.

I am very excited about this Harrah's event. And yeah...I am allowed to play there. Hmmm. Wow, intereresting huh? How did that AUTOMATIC THREE YEAR BAN work out for ya there, Monkey Hater Guy??? Eat me! I talked to Steve again tonight, just going over the structures and everything. They are going to be incredible. The same on the SNG's, which weren't great the first day in May...but which Steve IMMEDIATELY changed! And then they were super. But these tourney structures for this event? Absolutely insanely good. 25/50, 50/100, 75/150, 100/200, 100/200 w-25, 150/300 w-25, 200/400 w-50, 250/500 w-50, 300/600 w-75.......and so on. Just killer! I mean...oh, and great starting stacks. But not TOO many chips, which is nice. 7k chips for $200 and $300. 8k chips for the $500. Perfect amount. I expect to see a LOT of good players making the Final Tables over there. And I hope I am one of them. I would like to win ONE event, and Final Table 3 others. That would make for a great trip. And cash in the Main. Those are my goals. Should be a really good week. And I am looking forward to seeing a lot of you! Lets have some fun!!!

Squirrel is home early from work and wanting to go do something. But its kind of my last night before New Orleans, and I really want to go to the gym. I went for the first time in a long time last Tuesday...and HOLY CRAP! I was so freaking sore for 4 days! My whole upper body was just shot! How pathetic is THAT!?? Yeah clearly, I have let things go on the 'ol body! Last night she was off and we went to see a movie that I had no idea about. "The Blind Side." Are you kidding me? Maybe the best movie I have seen in 5 years! It was a true story based on the life of future All-Pro left tackle Michael Oher of the Baltimore Ravens...who was a 2-time All American at Ole Miss. He was a forgotten, left for naught kid growing up in Memphis, when he was discovered, helped, then later made part of a wealthy, white family. They showed him love, he gave them purpose...and together they conquered a lot together. It was a truly inspiring movie. I found myself tearing up about 4 times during the film. The acting was incredible. Tim McGraw played a good father. Sandra Bullock played maybe her most impressive role ever. And even the teenage daughter and young son were phenomenal. And to be set in the always racially divisive south made it all the more impactful. I am now a huge Michael Oher fan. If you haven't seen this movie, and you like sports...and feel like you are a good person, or would like to be...go see this film.  I used to coach Little League baseball every season. At least when I could. Three years in Pensacola. Five years in Atlanta. Never while in New York. And another 4 when I lived in Seattle. I love it. I love coaching/teaching baseball, and I like working with kids in the 8-12 age range. I get along with kids so well, and really identify with them. I also love being a role model to them...and being a mentor. And helping the ones out who really need a helping hand. Watching that movie just kind of reminded me that I possess that gene, in case I forgot...after not having coached the last few years. I would REALLY like to get back into coaching again. I miss it a lot. And I miss the personal feelings I get from doing it. Winning and losing in Little League is so irrelevant, though my teams do always seem to win a lot. And sure, winning is fun...but my teams always had fun no matter what. The worst day of Little League was always the last game, or the team party...when I wouldn't see them again. But I would occasionally hear from one of them later on...and it always made me smile, to know I made an impact in their lives. Yeah...I miss that a lot. Kids...their so cool.

Okay...well, I think I have fullfilled my blogging duties for the day, yeah? Maybe I will go to the gym...then come back, and take Squirrel out for sushi. Always in the mood for sushi. Oh and by the way...that place I was bashing? Where we used to always go? Off of exit 50? Saki? Well, Squirrel went by there one night, and the 'actual' owner...not the little bitch who offended us...offered a heartfelt apology to her...and now we have decided to give them a second chance.

If I forgot to write about something...sorry. You will just have to read about it later!!!!

MONKEY