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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bring on Vegas....

Yes...I disappeared.

Shortly after making a 'move' on the guy who kept raising 5 times the bet in last position in the Main Event in New Orleans...and having him wake up with AA...and having it lead to my early exit...I went on a bit of a hiatus.

First of all, congrats to Fred Berger for winning over there. Fred is a helluva player and overall good guy. Another semi-buddy of mine Jake Naquin made the Final Table and had his highest finish ever...so props to him. This Indian dude who I met at IP and later played some SNG's with and got pretty chummy with, Chander...from Houston, also made the Final Table. Some good players made that final table and again, I point to the excellent structure laid out by Steve Frezer and the rest of his staff. It was a horrible tourney for me personally, but by no means was that a reflection on the event itself. It was a great event, was very well attended ...and even consisted of some good players. I just ran extremely bad and unlucky. Lucky for me, I have a supportive backer who understands 'running bad' and after doing my spreadsheet for the last few events...and submitting it to her, I took delivery this morning of the first check I've needed from her in over a year. Actually two. The first one I will cash...the second one, I've chosen to convince myself that I won't be needing to! Because the plan is to get to Vegas and start like a house on fire!

For the last week, I've been dicking around an online poker room or two. Last night, I actually won a $12/180 for $596...then almost won that $5.50 PLO H/L again...this time with 518 players. But I got swept out 24th..which was good for close to nothing. But it felt good to get online and do some winning a couple days before leaving for my annual summer odyssey in Vegas.

In addition to that I got my car all checked out, then went to the doctor to get my hand checked out. Found out I had a clean fracture of the 5th metacarpal (think thats what it was called) but that I didn't have to get a cast...which was great news. They gave me a brace to wear and told me it should heal in about a month. Cool. Then I went to the dentist...got a deep cleaning and an overall checkup. And some bleach! So...in my attempts to catch up to "Smilin Don Norman" of St. Louis in the 'Nice Freaking Teeth' department...I am getting after it! Incidently, Don will be my roomie in Vegas this summer.

After exhausting all efforts to make something happen with Joe Cutler...we just ran out of options and time. And since Joe is now engaged...you heard me....JOE CUTLER is now engaged, yes...the Red Sea DID just part...yes...that was a cold blast of air you felt, rising from the center of the Earth. Joe needed a bit of privacy for when his woman comes out to Vegas...so a 2-bed room wasn't cutting it. We got jammed up on everything else we looked at, and I just wasnt willing to fork over $2k for accomodations...not the way I've been running this year. So he took a 1 BR by himself. And I scrounged around until I found a very reasonable rate for 48 days at the Imperial Palace...which I know isn't going to impress anyone...but at roughly $22 a day, and only one block from Venetian, is kind of hard to feel bad about. And since this is a work trip...and I'm not really there to impress anyone...hey, it will do!

I am basically approaching this summer like I approached Vegas about three years ago. This is the first time in 3 years I didn't run like God in New Orleans and take a healthy bankroll with me to the Summer Poker Fest. So in a way, its kind of maybe a good thing that I am getting screwed by Harrah's and denied access to the WSOP. Granted, I'm sure its going to dig at me that I can't go over there. But at the same time...there were about $37,000 worth of tourneys I wanted to play there this summer. The total sum of EVERY single Venetian tourney this summer is only $32,000. And of course, there is no way I will play all of them. Tim Mix, who runs the tourneys there, has informed me that they added in a couple of vital levels in the tourneys...and the one thing I've been bitching about for the last few events...the SNG's...which had a structure that went 200/400 to 400/800 then just kept doubling? Those have been fixed now too, so I am actually looking forward to going out there and taking on my old image, of the grinder...nickel and diming my way into every tourney...and keeping a healthy bankroll without needing another 'contribution' from the boss.

I take with me the title of Defending Champion in the Venetian All Around from last summer. So I will be working my ass off to defend that. They have added tables...now up to 119 total tables. A LOT! And Caeser's finally wised up and cancelled their Mega Stacks event...so with the NAPT exposure that Venetian got and the overall momentum they have been building over the past few years...I expect all kinds of records to be set this summer in the Venetian Deepstacks. There will be plenty of money to be played for to make me and the Squirrel happy if I come this summer with another trophy or two. I really need to have a good summer. This year has been so terrible, in so many ways. And it all kind of started with us getting robbed. But every time I start to feel lousy about my life, I just click on that link to the Shelby County sheriff's office in Birmingham...and look up that skank who was part of the group who robbed us, sitting in that jail cell up there, and I feel better. Because I can walk outside my house, breathe fresh air. I can play with my dogs. I can hug my wife. I can go to the beach. I can eat whatever I want. And I have a family who loves me. Things can always be worse. And they may have really knocked us down...and crippled us...but I still have some fight left in me.

This past weekend, we were invited by James Ray and his girlfriend to join them in Pensacola at their beach house...to do some boating and just chilling out. Squirrel met his girlfriend at our Final Table together in April at the IP...and really liked her. But it was to be our last weekend together for a couple months and she just really wanted to be alone together. So I rented us a room at the Hilton Garden Inn on Pensacola Beach and we went over on Saturday. It was two days of perfect weather. We had a great meal at Flounders Saturday night and Sidelines on Sunday. I spent a lot of time in the water, which was perfect...about 75 degrees, and crystal clear. And then it got me to thinking about that oil spill, and how horrible it will be if they can't keep it off the shores. The people were having so much fun. I watched a Dad put his small child on the tip of his surfboard and then caught a wave and rode it all the way into the shore...and the kid never budged...and was laughing the whole time. It was so cool. Also got me to thinking about the baby we lost last February, and how much I want to be a Dad. I think I've run out of things to live for where it involves myself. I've pretty much done everything I ever wanted to do in life...with a handful of exceptions. I think now all I want to do is create a life and spend my waning years sharing all I have learned with that person...and experience all the wonderful things life has to offer between a father, a wife, and their child.

Poker is the one thing in my life that can make that dream a reality. I don't need a LOT of money to make all that happen. I don't have a lot of needs. We were almost there on our down payment for our house that Cheryl so desperately wants. They took that when they stole our safe. I am committed to getting us to a certain spot, where I can buy her that house. And pay off all my debt. And have some money in the bank to live off of, then just go play a handful of events, instead of being gone 40 weeks out of the year. I'm sick of being gone so much. I love being home with my wife, and with my dogs. I hate leaving them. But the reality is, this is my job. I am not maybe the best at it...but I'm one of the best. And therefore, to not be out there taking my shots is stupid. But boy oh boy...if I can have a summer better than or equal to last summer? It will be a really nice fall for us.

Okay...I can check 'Do New Blog' off of my pre-driving to Vegas checklist now! The big one today is mowing the lawn...as it is approaching 90 out there with ridiculous humidity. I will try to throw in some little updates as I drive out west. And hopefully, my engine doesn't blow up in New Mexico like it did two summers ago. Boy did that suck!

Monkey

Monday, May 17, 2010

Heating up in the Big Easy....Main Event time!

Well I manage to hit rock bottom here after a week. I knew things couldn't possibly get any worse. Then on Saturday, I slept in...started the day by winning a $12/45 sng on Pokerstars...which at least got the feeling of total hopelessness out of my system.

Then I headed over to the casino. Got into a $125 SNG...including a $100 last longer with a guy who was full of information about all his various sponsor deals and his 'tight' relationship with the poker 'legend' T.J. Cloutier...who was on his way to the casino to make a 'guest appearance' and sign autographs. He bristled when I shared my negative opinion of Mr. Degen. He kept insisting that T.J. is a fantastic human being. Whatever.

This same guy would get lucky on a draw and be tripled up early in the SNG. Nice start. No worries though, I stayed patient and he played loose and stupid, and eventually he would get knocked out, I would chip up...and then eventually win, and end my long drought of SNG defeats. A much-needed boost to the 'ol bankroll, as well as my confidence. Then went to play another one. Started good. Got down to 4...was getting excited about two in a row...but then got snapped. Bummer.

Had time to play one more before the 9pm nightly started. Andddddd cue the circus! Yep, as one player I know quite well who was sitting in the 5-seat turns to me and says, "Pretty weird huh Monkey? Being on this side of it? Now you know how we all feel when we sit at your table!"  What am I talking about? Here is a picture:


This guy's name is Bob Sura. If you are a sports fan, you may remember him from his days playing college basketball at Florida State, and then later for the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA. He now lives in Houston, and was hanging out with a group of guys, including little Gabrielle, a pretty good player I met a few years ago and who gets deep in a lot of tourneys. Bob and his boys had been in the quarter all day and were hammered. Another of his buddies was also in our SNG, a guy who had never played poker. He was really skinning and wearing a hat like Ralph Kramden on the Honeymooners. Or wait, was Ralph the Jackie Mason character? Not sure....I think he was a DJ or something. But the two of them together were putting on quite a show. This old, heavy set woman sitting next to Bobby was about to lose her mind. They were talking in the hand, showing cards, telling everyone they were going to raise if anyone raised. Holding up the game every hand...it was actually pretty silly, but I couldn't help enjoy it. And then Bob started something I know the dealer loved. Every time he won a hand he was tipping her $100. He must have tipped her about 5 or 6 times.

His buddy would get knocked out finally. Then Bob spilled his drink on the table and we got moved into the Manor Room, a.k.a "The Meat Locker" which is always about -32 degrees. Once we got back there Bob decided he wanted to start drinking Jager Bombs. Most people arent entitled to Jager without pulling out the magic 'Seven Star' card. But I have a pretty good repoire with the waitstaff, me and Squirrel's friend is the beverage manager, and my other buddy is the manager at Masquerade, where the waitress has to go to get a bottle of Jager. So I told Bob I could hook it up. And it was on! I end up getting knocked out 4th again. Which wasn't a total disaster, as I was able to get to the 9pm'er on time. And I would be happy, as I started out hot...winning 5k chips in the first 4 hands.

The nightly ended up being a blast. I found others to drink with. Then my waitress comes back, tells me she could kiss me. Hmmm....let me guess...did Bobby give you $100 back there? Yep..he did. Turns out, Bob is a pretty cool dude, and really has his shit together. He is still young, retired from the NBA, owns a piece of 4 different companies...and appears to really have a fun time. Nice to see an athlete with all their ducks in a row. I ended up getting one of his buddies at my Mega satellite table the next day, and when they all came in to check on him, Bob came over to shake my hand...so I guess he wasn't too drunk to remember me.

I guess I'll just cut to the chase in the nightly. It was a long-ass grind. I would make the final table with relative ease. In fact, I was never all in on a single hand...until my final hand. It was just one of those nights where I just cruised. I needed this bad. It had been such a lousy week. First place was $5500. I wanted... I needed that hit. So when all of the other players wanted to chop when we got to 5 players...and it was well after 5:30am...I liked my advantage; as easily the best player at the table, and as the guy who wasn't about to fall asleep. So I resisted the offer of a chop. I also had Dwyte Pilgrim sweating me, and agreeing with me that I shouldn't chop with them. Well, it would blow up in my face. This old donkey raises me in the SB with KQ. I shove on him with AK. He snap calls...and it wasn't a 'priced in' type situation either...it was a huge call.

Flop comes.....oh....really?  A-J-10-3-4.  Perfect. I wasn't real pleased with that outcome. I guess later I felt a bit better about the $1700 hit. But like all of us...you don't ever want to go out like that. Left the casino...walked outside, and it was daylight. Oh boy.

So then, after sleeping 4 hours, I was back up...and headed back to the casino, for the noon mega satellite, which would get 135 players. 12 seats handed out...$3500 for 13th place. It would be a long, long grind. I would get almost NO cards all day. I never got a pair over 10's. I never flopped a set, never made a straight or a flush. I had to weasel and wiggle my way all throughout. Then, once the 6pm Mega came and went...and we were still not in the money I was getting a sick feeling like I was going to get froze out of another chance to Mega my way into the Main Event.

Then as we got close to 9pm...and I was down to 9 big blinds, this guy who nearly blew up a 70k chipstack raises under the gun with A7...I have 88 in the small blind...and decide this is the time. I shove all in. He is pot committed to call. A big crowd comes swooping in...and as the dealer flops me a set of 8's all tension was relieved, for me anyway! That was the only hand I really needed to lock up my place in the Main Event...we would wait for the shortstack on the other table to blind out. In between, we all kicked in $200 for the 14th place finisher...who would end up being my buddy John Wesstra, who went down with AK suited to Dan Walsh's JJ...and took it like the great sport he is.

My seat was secured...and it felt great! So with a nice SNG win, a Final Table in the 9pm nightly, and a Mega Satellite win, I feel like hopefully, I am heating up at just the right time. After that ended I got a couple of buffet comps from Steve Frezer, the greatest Tournament Director EVER...and went to eat with this guy Shane and Andy (Phillachuk or something like that) who won this Main Event two December's ago and who got heads up with Phil Hellmuth when Phil won his 11th bracelet. Good player, nice guy...was at my table most of the day and was a royal pain in my ass. He busted my 10-10 with Q-10 when he was short stacked, hitting a flush...but then did double me up when I had KQ to his 9c7c...after raising my BB for about the 47th time! He's real aggressive...but a solid, solid player. Hell the guy has over 1 million in earnings, so he is definitely doing something right!

After dinner I decided to play a little $125 SNG before calling it a night. I would take a couple players out...once when I flopped top two...and the lady called anyway with 44...another when I ran KK into another lady's A5. And just as I was thinking I might be going to bed with a win, my AQ raise...with 3 callers...got a flop of Q-3-6. When I bet...and this nice, older guy started studying me in kind of a weird fashion...then moves in on me....I didn't have any idea how to read it. The only thing I could think was that he got lucky and flopped two pair. But then again, I did raise....so I tried to convince myself he had QJ. He didn't. He had 666. Ugh. Ouch. That was it for me. I was done.

So I walked across the street, and 7 minutes after laying down in my ridiculously comfortable bed at the Hilton, I was asleep. Tim Burt wasn't in the room...I guess he must have been playing cash game. I have no idea when he came in, but I found some money for the hotel room, and his stuff gone...so I guess he isn't playing the Main Event. So its just me in the room now, and I just called and got my room reservation extended. So with 45 minutes til the Main Event starts...I am ready, and fresh...to go have a good Main Event run. There is NOTHING that would get my life back on track, and get me set up for Las Vegas next week...better than running good in this Main Event, and at least cashing. But to make the Final Table would really, really be a great thing for me right now. So I will be super dialed in today, and hopefully tomorrow in Day Two.

I will try to post updates.

Monkey


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Humble Pie is NOT very delicious.

"Hey Monkey, don't you usually run good in New Orleans?"

Yes....that would be the number one quote that I have been asked this week as I continue to get one and two-outed and watch my bankroll continue to dwindle.

There is an element to this game that if you don't learn how to deal with, will eat you alive. I have been here before. Many times in fact. And if you all have been reading this blog for a long time you are aware that I never get too wrapped up in my success and try very hard not to get too disappointed when I'm running bad. The players who strut around like their shit don't stink when their running good, most of us 'serious' players just kind of chuckle at them...knowing that when their 'downturn' hits they will probably not know how to handle it. And it comes. It always comes.

Monday I showed up for the $350 a bit late because I was getting you guys out a fresh blog. Got to my table...and didn't know a single player at the table. Scary. I got some hands early...but couldn't get anything going in the way of building a stack. Then tried to pull a few bluffs that didnt turn out so well. Then, after listening to this little jarhead in the 5-seat clown on the guy in the 10-seat who called every raise it seemed, but never 3-bet...just a total call-station, he pulls his own beauty. He limps in for 150. In middle position. I have AhKd for about the 5th time so far. I kept raising light trying to get action, and WOULD get action but then brick every time. So I decide this time to try and take a pot and gain some momentum. I raise it to 650. Both blinds fold. This kid barely hesitates and calls.

The flops comes Ad-8d-6d. Wow! Too perfect (you would think). He checks. I decide...hmmm...should I slow play it? Or bet it big to suggest that I missed? I go for option B. I bet out 1100. He RAISES! Huh? Is anyone folding here? I'm going to go with 'NO EFFING WAY, MONKEY!!!!' I re-raise him. He ships. Well, I guess he must have like Jd10d. I'm still not folding. I call. He has 2d3d. Wait...what? Deuce three? For 650 preflop? Wow. Well, of course I miss the next two shots at a diamond. I leave pretty pissed off, then experience an accident that results in me doing serious damage to my hand, in fact...I am about 85% certain that its broken. Was starting to think it might have just been a sprain, but this morning I was reaching over to grab my cell phone and hit the top of my hand on the nightstand...it almost brought me to tears it hurt so bad. I just spent two hours icing it. I think I will require x-rays when I get back to Biloxi next week.

Later that day I would play and lose two SNG's. The irritating one was a $230 with a $100 last longer. With 4 left...and this guy I call 'crazy eyes' because well, he has crazy eyes...and is a bit of a spaz...I raise on the button to 1200 (blinds 200/400) with JJ and leave 4000 behind. He is chipleader. He calls with Q10off. The flop comes 4-5-2. He shoves all in. Well...pretty sure no one is folding there. I didn't either. Dealer turns a 10 and rivers a damn Q. I said nothing. I just walked into the room where the nightly was being held...that I had already registered for. That got off to a really good start. I got 7k up to 15k. Then 22k. Then...with three tables left...I was in the BB on a min-raise at 150/300 that got 4 callers. I called with 9-10. Flop comes 8-J-Q. Wow. Nice. I check. First guy bets. Gets two callers. And with about 9k in the pot I decide that this would be a good time to shove. So I do. And get called by the initial min-raiser and his QJ. Matthew promptly plops a J on the turn. Wonderful. And I'm out.

Its just been that kind of week for me so far. I can't complain about ANYTHING else. The turnout is good, the structures are awesome. The staff has been great. Even the caliber of players is relatively solid. I just happen to be running bad. And it sucks. And it is eating at me. Its just really been a horrendous 2010 so far, for me, for Squirrel, for the damn PLANET! I mean...what the hell is going on out there in the Gulf of Mexico? I would have hoped these geniuses with all their money would be smart enough or well-equipped enough to be able to deal with this. Just makes me wonder what they would do if a bunch of terrorists started blowing up oil rigs...would we have uncontrollable gushers all over the gulf? Back two years ago, when oil hit $140 a barrel, and people were screaming for more drilling in the gulf, and the environmentalists were freaking out, I couldn't understand what their problem was. Well, now....I get it.

Yesterday I decided to play the heads up tourney. There were a LOT of good players registered. It was somewhat disorganized...but they finally got it all sorted out. We were all wondering, as we were standing in line....who would we draw! Brandon Jarrett, Dan Walsh, Ben Mintz (there is your name drop portion of today's blog!) and a couple other guys and I were all standing in line talking about how funny it would be if Brandon and I drew each other. So when I got my assignment finally, and walked down to table 60...the first thing I noticed wasnt that it was Brandon sitting there...holy shit. No, the first thing I noticed was the damn dealer. Jo, the Brazilian dealer...the one who has been butchering me for a month. He gives me Kings, I am fucked. At the IP Main Event last week...he's the one who gave me KK against Mr. Cashgame Gamble-Gamble....and flopped him a 5-7-5 full house. Then in yesterday's noon tourney...I get KK again...and lose to a guy with 55...who flops QUADS! When the hands were turned over I could see him cringe. I know, I know...its not his fault. And I don't hate the guy. He's actually a pretty nice guy. He keeps suggesting I go down to the quarter and get with a witch doctor. He might be on to something.

When I saw him at the table, I really did come very close to going and unregistering. If you took Jo, Mark Cain, and Erin Holt...and put us all on a boat together...I'm sure I would be fish food by Day 3.

But I played. And Brandon and I really played small ball throughout the first half hour. I had about a 3500 chip edge on him when Jo decided to give me KK. I raised. Brandon called with A4c. Flop came all rags...but with two clubs. I bet pot. Brandon called. He turns a gutshot wheel, he gets almost all my chips. Jo's face again melts into sheer panic. And I again had that 'kicked in the stomach' feeling. I didn't quit though. Trailing 21,500 to 2,500 I fought like hell to come back. I did manage to double up twice...and got back to as high as 7500. But then, as 300/600 he gives me 66...and gives Brandon KK! His Kings held though. And I was out. We were the final match to conclude...so at least I had that to cling to. Whatever.

The thing about playing Brandon heads up...is that I KNOW he really prides himself as a great heads up player. And sitting in my living room a couple weeks ago and watching him play was kind of ironic, I'm sure that was entering into his thoughts as well. But Brandon is just one of those players who I have always been able to read very well. So with him and I playing, and him really kind of understanding that...he knew he was going to have to tread lightly with me. That him and I would likely come down to who got the best cards and was able to reel the other guy in. And thats pretty much what happened. I had a top 5 hand, and he had a decent hand that became a great hand after the flop...and I got skewered. For me to beat him in our match...I'm not sure what that would have done to him personally. I know that in that little online community of theirs, none of them probably regard me as much of a heads-up player. And I will admit, three years ago, I would have been terrified to play a heads up tourney. I now happen to think I am above average. Certainly not great by any stretch, but not awful either. There were a LOT of good heads up players in that tourney...that is a fact. I just don't know how Brandon would have handled getting beat by me. Its probably best that it ended the way it did. I didn't want to have to go talk Brandon off a ledge later!!!

And that was it, I called it a day. Came back to my room with BJ and took a nap. Then woke up and him and I played some online poker...some of the SCOOP events and I played a $5 Omaha H/L tourney with 507 players...finishing 5th for an amazing $135!

By the way, I appreciate your comments regarding the KK hand the other day. I realize that I COULD have folded there, still had 9k in chips...and been just fine. But I think, in the end...you have to trust your instincts...and if you KNOW you have the best hand, and have a shot at a clean double up...in Level 1 or 2...you HAVE to seize on that opportunity. And if the clown sucks out? Well, you just have to be willing to accept the consequences. I just wanted you readers to know...that whatever you guys put on here, I generally appreciate and respect. Especially when you sign your names to it, and don't post as ANONYMOUS. I hate that word now.

I also really appreciate it when you guys and gals come up to me and introduce yourselves to me and tell me you read this blog. Some of you seem embarrassed when you do it, or act like you are bothering me. NEVER! Please don't feel like that. I am just an average joe-schmo trying to get ahead in life by playing this stupid card game. Trust me, if you take the time to read anything I have to say, and are the least bit entertained by it, I am flattered. I love meeting all of you guys. And frankly, I have to say, its really affecting how I act at the table these days. Sometimes in the past I can honestly say that I didn't care how I acted after a bad beat, or what I said to someone I thought was making a stupid play. But now, I almost feel a certain sense of responsibility to act...mmm, not sure what the word is here. But to think I have someone who reads this on a regular basis and then I offend them? Wouldn't make me feel very good about myself. So I think with that, coupled with this medication...I am getting a lot better about just laughing certain things off and not letting them affect me.

I'm going to try and get back in there today, get some good run going, get some money back in my pocket and have some fun. This city is supposed to be fun, right? Everyone comes up to me and asks how I am doing, and I hate being phony and telling them..."Oh pretty good, how are you?" it sucks! I want to be like, "Oh man...I am GREAT!!!! how the hell are YOU!!!???" Sounds a lot better that way, doesnt it?

Y'all take care...and I hope to see you at the table!!!! Be nice to me! No nasty beats! If I tell ya I got KINGS, I GOT KINGS!!!! FOLLLLLDDDD!!!!! Okay, unless you aces...then its just a cooler!

MONKEY

Monday, May 10, 2010

Okayyyyyyy!!!! I'm sorrrrry! Here is your New Orleans update blog!!!!!!

Look, I'm sorry okay!??? This happens every time I come to New Orleans...I get really, really backed up on the content. Its not that I havent wanted to report in on my 'doings' in the Crescent City...I have...its just that a few factors have prevented me from getting y'all caught up. One of those reasons is that the doctor put me on Celexa, an anti-anxiety med...that for two weeks does nothing but interrupt your sleeping and make you feel like you are just stepping off a two-week cruise.

Last night was the first good night of sleep I have had since I got here. Squirrel came over last night...sat through the tail end of a 4th place finish in a sit n go...before we went to Rock Em Sake for some killer sushi and a night out with my beautiful wife. We should have been celebrating our first Mother's Day as a mom and dad...which would have been really special. But God had other plans for us last year and took our baby to a special place.

A few things of note on Mother's day. First...I sent my Mom a card and flowers and am so happy that I still have her in my life! Second...I loved watching Dallas Braden pitch a perfect game yesterday with his Grandmother in the stands. Watching them hug and cry after the game was really terrific. I also want to salute my sister and her partner, who adopted a severely challenged child a few years ago and have changed that childs life. They are truly amazing when it comes to being Mothers.

On a tragic note...Cheryl's Aunt and Uncle, who live in Florence, Alabama...were woken up in the middle of the night Sunday morning by an unusual sound of popping that at first sounded like a storm, but was actually their home engulfed in flames. They barely made it out of the house. The fire chief told them they probably had less than three minutes before they would have been killed. Thank God they got out alive. Their house burned completely to the ground...and their dog was killed...which has them feeling devastated. Trust me, I can understand that. I think most of us can. When I heard this news yesterday it made me tear up. These people are so wonderful and I feel so awful for them. But by the afternooon, no fewer than 100 cars had driven past their home, dropping off  'care baskets' and monetary gifts. The church they attended took up a collection as well. By night time Uncle Dennis was saying stuff like...."hey...we lost everything, but we have insurance...so in a few months we will have a brand new house, new clothes, new cars....everyone will think we won the lottery!" Now THAT is a guy with a rosey disposition! Squirrel has the most amazing family on the planet. Those people up in Florence are truly fantastic, and just incredible people. I really feel like I married into royalty. They aspire me to be a better person, they really do!

Also...on another non-poker related matter...two of my favorite ladies in the world...who live over in Texas and play some pretty good poker, brought me another gift yesterday. A little squirrel, that I can keep on the table next to my monkey...so I will always have a little squirrel with me when I'm playing! And this hilarious stuffed monkey...who is wearing a black cape and a mask...SUPER MONKEY...and works like a sling shot. You fire him across the room and he lets out a shriek as he flies through the air. Its awesome! I got the whole room laughing when I fired him over three tables. Debra and I were in a sit n go together when Cheryl showed up around 8pm. So she finally got to meet this 'mystery' lady in Texas who keeps giving me gifts!!!!!  They hit it off like long lost sisters!

Driving into New Orleans on Friday morning I could see guys on a scaffold doing something to the side of the Superdome...and as I was trying to figure out what they were doing, I almost plowed into the back of a line of cars....that had suddenly all stopped for some reason, while the other lane was still moving at about 50 mph. Scared the shit out of me...it would have been my first accident of my life, and probably kept me out of the noon tourney, which in retrospect, would have been a good thing! With my heart racing, I got to the other side of the Superdome and saw what they were doing.

WOW! It looks simply beautiful! They either swapped out the panels or painted them...but the dome now looks incredible. The gleaming white dome on top and on the sides it is golden...like the gold in the Saints' uniforms. I like it....win the Super Bowl...get your house painted! Its going to look really cool from arial shots when they show it on TV. In the 3 days that I have been here, it feels like the overall attitude in this city is different, like something like winning the Super Bowl has caused people here to hold their head up, to be proud, to carry themselves differently. Is that possible? It even smells better and feels cleaner. So just as I was feeling really good about New Orleans, after years of loathing this place...I come to my room last night, and on my bed is my pillow case. Just my case. With my pillow, my $120 pillow...missing. WTF? Still trying to get housekeeping to explain this one!

Lets talk about the job the staff is doing here. Steve Frezer is quickly becoming the best damn poker tournament director on the planet! When I arrived I noticed that the SNG structures were less than spectacular, with only 1500 starting chips, 15 minute levels and at least 3 vital levels missing. All it took was for me to mention this to Steve, and it was immdiately remedied! The $125 sngs went to 2000 chips, with 3 levels added...and I am telling you, this change alone was highly instrumental in 3 of the 5 sng's I won the other night. All the players I talked to were very pleased with the change too. Hey! Anything we can do to make things better, and Steve is always willing to listen to the players and give them what they want.  The tournament structures are killer. A lot of good players are getting deep, which is a sign of good structure. The dealers are mostly good. There are a few newbies...as there always is in New Orleans...since its really hard to get liscensed in this state. Not like it could ever get as bad as Atlantic City!!!! At least the newbies usually KNOW they are new and try to get better by welcoming advice. The tourney room seems to fluctuate from sticky and humid to unbearably cold...so if you are coming down, make sure you bring a sweatshirt or a jacket.

The sizes of the fields have been impressive. I don't know what they were expecting...but I will say I expected them to be a bit larger. Not that I am complaining....I mean they got over 500 for the first event...and with the structures good, and the SNG's going off with regularity, things are great. The overall 'quality of player' is about average. There is a handful of mutants from St. Louis that have snuck down here and made their presence felt already. I have had at least 5 players come up to me and tell me they got "SAINT LEWIED!" by a donk at their table. Pretty funny!  If all of you could just please wear your St Louis identifier, in the form of a hat or shirt or something, so we can all identify you it would really help us dodge you and your horrible play. Thanks, thanks a lot!!!!

Okay...wow, its now 15 minutes to noon. Shoot. Well.....I will just give you a quick rundown.

Event #1.  AK three times. In first damn level. I hit EVERY time. I lost every time. Once with trip Kings against a guy who had flopped a set of 8's. I got away from that one. Then I hit an A-2-3 board after having re-raised an UTG raiser. He folded. The guy with 22 didn't. Wow. deuces. I was out.

Event #2. $550. Good field. Level 2 early. A notoriously bad asian guy...who loves to overplay the shit out of AK...and who I've NEVER seen at a Final Table in about 5 years of playing with him...raises to 500 (50/100) UTG...and gets TWO callers. I look at KK and raise to 2100. He shoves all in. Yep...that is AK. Or QQ at best. No way he has AA. No way. The other two fold of course. I stand up and start pondering. Damn....if I call and lose, I have 425 chips. If I call and am correct, and win...Im sitting on about 22k chips and can pretty much coast for 6 levels. A crowd begins to assemble around our table. Three or four of the guys I know real well. They know my predicament. I make the call. He turns over AK. Of course. Flop comes 5-7-4. Hmm....okay....good so far....and as I am watching trying to fade an ace...the dealer goes runner runner.....2-3-.....for the damn wheel. I just sink in my chair. Everyone gives me that look you get when you've just been told you're getting laid off after a 24.5 year career with a company, and 6 months from retirement. Hating life...I manage to triple up my 425 before our table breaks. I get that to 3400. Hope floats. But it dies a short time later when my Ah10h runs into AQ and 77....with 77's winning out.

Event #3.  6-handed event. $550.  Start out bad....stayed bad....ended bad. Pretty much every time I made a hand....flush....lose to a boat. Boat, lose to a bigger boat. Straight, lose to a boat. Top two....lose to small set. It was ugly. Just ugly. And I was out in Level 4.

7pm nightly. The drinking started early. It was a blast. I was accumulating a lot of chips. Then I get moved to the table where the SHOVEMONSTER lived. After the second all in....which at 400-800...made no sense. This guy is shoving 30 to 40 big blinds every time. The table is telling me this is all he does. He limps or he shoves. Never raises. So I fantasize about a future moment when I can get all his chips. We get in the money. I am sitting on a nice stack of about 72k. I finally pick up AA. At 600/1200 I raise to 4500. Annnnnnd Shove-Zilla shoves all in! Yahtzeeeeeeeeeee! I find the energy to speak those two beautiful words we all love to say when we have AA against a re-raiser.....

I CALL!

He flips over KJ offsuit.  When the K hits the flop...we all...and I mean....WE ALL...everyone at the table wanted me to whack this bozo....give that sigh that comes with any 'sweat' which is what the flopped King provided. Then the buffoon turns another king and I was left praying for a damn ace on the river. Didnt come. Wonderful. Thanks. Now only have 12k. Which forced me to have to get it in with A8 to pull some blinds another orbit later. I ran into KK. Terrific. And was out in 14th place.

In SnG's, I am now 5 for 12 overall...which isn't too bad. What does really suck is that I have gotten 3rd place twice and 4th twice...hell, just win TWO of those and I am up about a dime on the trip...but as it sits now I am down about $700 or so. Which isn't disastrous or anything.

My roomie situation is great. BJ McBrayer is proving to be a great roomie. Doesnt talk too much (yes Tim I'm talking to you!) and doesn't snore (yes Keith I'm talking to you!) at all. Thought my BOSE headphones stopped working on me...no audio coming from the right side...but after speaking to BOSE this morning...determined it was the connection cable...and since I have a spare...I am now back in business! Sweet! And...the pillow mystery was just solved. Found the pillow. They just changed the pillow case, leaving my pillow case. So I take it all back!!! Back to loving New Orleans again! Now dammit, lets go final table this tournament today!!!!!

MONKEY

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Off to see the Doctor

Wow, its really been 6 days since I blogged?

Well, I suppose a lot has happened since then. I could reallly pretty much just summarize it into about three paragraphs...that would make it real simple. For me. But that just wouldn't be my style, now would it?

I have exactly 30 minutes before the doctor appointment my wife has been hassling me to go to. The one where I find out if I need some kind of medication to regulate my mood. This could be something that I try to make light of, but I just simply can't. It's a serious problem.

As I write this I am looking out my patio door into my screened in porch, where my dogs hang out. Mollie, she of the newly laid sod devestation...is prancing around out there with a turtle in her mouth. Yep...a turtle. Yesterday, it was a gecko. Where does she find these creatures? Turtle? This is the third time a turtle has shown up in her mouth.

I also need a refill on my Crestor...the wonder-drug that has sent my skyrocketing cholesterol level plummeting to manageable levels. Not sure what he is going to be able to determine about my mental state. I just know that I am currently in a state where nothing about poker makes me feel joy. Even contentment. And the thing about poker is that nearly every tourney you play...ends in defeat. And if I get 2nd or 3rd....or 4th through 8th...I'm never happy then either. If I should win...I usually forget about it very soon. That can't be healthy. And I just dwell on the losing. How I lost (bad beat, suckout...whatever) why I lost (bad call, bad read) and how much I lost. Pretty much everything about poker is driving me nuts. When I am at home with my dogs...and my wife...it makes me wish that I could just be with them...all the time. Buy an RV...load them inside, and just go places together. I wouldn't miss poker one iota.

But I can't. Not until I rip a huge score. Then I can. And go back whenever I feel like it. Because as I celebrated 6 years of freedom from the 'working world' and the jackasses who control it yesterday on Cinco de Mayo, I realize that this is what I excell at. This is what gives me the best chance to secure financial independence. I have been within a few cards here and there, a river card one day, a one outer another day...blah blah blah...you all know the story...to having that ONE huge score...that allows me to say "Sweetie, go quit your stupid job" or..."Hi! I would like to pay off my balance please" to everyone I owe money to....or "Yes, we would like to take THAT one over there....fill it up with gas please!"

You're just never truly happy doing whatever it is you do to make ends meet, I'm afraid. Okay...I have 20 minutes to get to the doctor. I will write more later.

But to summarize. I took Saturday off. Didn't play the 1k. On Sunday, I played the freeroll with 384 other psychopaths. I finished 12th. Only 2 people won a WSOP Main Event seat. Then at 4pm, I fell 11 people short of winning a seat in the $100 rebuy mega. Had a lot of chips all throughout only to raise on the button with AA and run into this lady with KK who found a king. Crippled me. Was out a few hands later. Then in the 8pm Mega...I flop a straight with Q9 (J-10-8) only to have 'Herbie' who plays a lot of cash game.....float my flop bet with overs (AQ) and nail a King on me....putting me out of that one.

I came back the next day...not wanting to buy into the Main Event for $2100. Just knew it was a terrible idea. But hell, I had made 7 Final Tables during this event and just felt like I was SUPPOSED to be playing the Main Event. So I bought in. I had no regrets early....as I went from 15k chips to 24k rather quickly. Things were going very smooth. Then it happened. The one dipshit at the table...who had been, well...pretty much a moron this whole event....limps in with another guy for 300. I had been not re-raising with AK all day...about 3 times in my BB...and completely missing the flops and not regretting it. So this time when I see KK....oh no! We will be raising this time! I make it 1500 to go. First guy folds. But 'cashgame Carlito' decides...."I really want to see a flop with this hand" and calls. Flop comes 5-5-7. He checks. I bet 2k. He calls. Oh no! 8-7? Turn is an ace. He checks, and I check to try and pretend like I am trapping with aces full. The river was nothing...like a 2 or something....wishing for a damn K there. He bets 2500. I decide to represent aces ...and raise to 8500. He calls. And turns over 5-7. Motherfucker!

I never recovered from that. Then eventually...when I got moved to a table full of good players...one being David Diaz...I thought I had a golden opportunity to wrestle away a really big pot. This lady, super tight...raises to 1800 (300/600)...I look down at 10-10....hmmm.....12,000 chips. Tough to smooth call there...but I know her...she has AJ or AQ probably. She will likely call my all in....so I should just gamble and flat her here. So I do. Well, then David, on the button, starts fiddling around....uh oh...he's about to fire out one of his patented 3-bets I think. Yep...he makes it 3200. Back to her. She hesitates but finally calls. Okay...its official! I KNOW I have her beat! She would have shoved...as she didn't have too many chips at that point. Now I know I can get HER to fold if I shove....its just a matter of knowing whether Diaz was 3-bet stealing there or not. I take the risk and shove all in. David says..."Ohhhh Monkey....setting a trap weren't you?" Which I took as being correct...and that he would be folding. But then he seems conflicted and then calls. ????? Really? Uh oh!  The lady folds.  He turns over QQ. Oh noooooooooooooooooooooooooo! I was wrong!

Erin Holt puts out the cards....all spades. No tens. Great...and I don't have a 10 of spades. He has the Q of spades. I need a one-outer to win. Nope, not me...I don't run that good. I was out. But no regrets. I did what I thought was the right move/play there. It just didn't go the way I was hoping it would. I was pleasant on my way out...though I was really kicking myself for having played at all.

Okay....its 11:20...damn, I gotta go. I will finish this later. I've had quite an online odyssey this week.

Monkey