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!!!
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