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Sunday, December 20, 2009


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!


The Monkey 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.' 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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! 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!!!!!



Anonymous said...

Go Monkey Go!

The QG@S2

flyer213 said...

Good luck Monkey. You will do it! Nelson Lickey in California...