Wednesday, September 28, 2011

See Ya September....

It's been a pretty damn slow month. Usually, or well...back in the 'good ol days' when I wasn't on the road at a poker tourney, I could at least sit at home grinding online. Now...with that being a thing of the past...at least for now, there is XBox360, online TV shows with NetFlix and Hulu...and the dogs to play with.

I know, I know Joey 'Luckbox' Gross...you want me to go buy this new kickass game so you can get me online and use me as your personal whipping bitch. I get it. STFU already!!!!

On Sunday...in between NFL games...Squirrel and I took the dogs down to the backbay under the draw bridge on Popp's Ferry where the rednecks are always out fishing to let them play in the water for an hour. Jasper couldn't be pulled out of the water. We must have thrown him that ball 50 times.

It's Wednesday night. The Braves, Cardinals, Red Sox and Devil Rays...or Rays I guess they are just called now...are all tied for the Wild Card and playing for either a spot in a one-game playoff tomorrow, or the Wild Card playoff spot. And then Texas, Milwaukee, Detroit and Arizona are all playing for homefield advantage and the 2nd best records in their league. Quite a way, after 161 games...to end the regular season.

Things for TB have not gotten off to a very good start tonight, as Mark Teixeira has a solo home run and a grand slam to stake NYY to a 6-0 lead early.

If the Cardinals ever let this beast get away from STL they will regret it forever. All the dude does is show up and mash, game after game, season after season. Love this guy!!!

This is my absolute favorite time of the year. Baseball postseason, when the leaves are turning brown and orange...the air is getting cooler...and new memories are forged. Love it. And then the NFL and NCAA are a few weeks into their seasons...and things are starting to heat up and get interesting. NASCAR...if you like watching cars going around in circles (which I do) is into their Chase for the next two months. 

The SEC is where its AT! And with LSU sitting at #1 now, and Bama at #3...both teams have a field of landmines to get through before hooking up in Tuscaloosa next month for what is sure to be a war!!!!

And as tired as I am of the NBA and all their over-inflated egos, over-priced tickets and rap (not music) sheets as long as a 7 year-old's list to Santa, it gives me joy to dream about the possibility of these jerks NOT coming to an agreement, and missing the entire season...and forcing a lot of their players to go overseas and play, to keep paying for those houses and cars and jewelry they won't be able to afford if they miss one season. I will laugh my ass off as these pampered assholes are forced to play in shitty little arenas in Eastern Europe for a few months.

Do we need another season of THIS?

I think I'd rather spend my winter watching a season of THIS, instead!

Okay okay...I know why y'all are here! Just shut up already! Someone has told you that there is a new Chad Burns video floating around out there...right? Well, I can't deny the rumor. It does live...and some of you may have already seen it. I know my wife is sick of hearing about Chad...but gosh dang it, the little squirt is just so doggone irresistible when it comes to taking shots at. And for the guy who wrote in asking me why I can't/don't just block him from my Facebook? Ahem, stay with us there partner, I did, in fact announce on here a full 45 days ago that I changed the settings on my Facebook, so that now Chadwick has no ability to post on my wall or send me messages. Or even SEE my wall. I'm sure its driving him insane.

Two nights ago, one of my field reporters (also known as a fellow poker-playing, Facebook friend who reads this blog and follows the Troll Saga) weighed in with an Ooompa Loompa sighting at the $1/$2 table in Harrah's New Orleans. Ohhhh...so tempting. Well, it is nice to know that wherever he goes, he has eyes on him constantly. I sure as hell was looking for him in Shreveport...as I kept hearing he may be showing up for. But alas, common sense directed him to stay at home. Hell, that damn thing was on top of a boat. Couple things gone wrong...couple of things spoken the wrong way...and there is a good chance that punk could have been making the splash of a small stone into the Red River...getting no one alerted, but pissing off the other half of Houston who he still owes money to. So to those, who still think they have a chance of getting repaid, you're welcome.

Okay, before I drop this on you...I must confess, I have not created this latest masterpiece, as much as I want to take credit for it. I just am not a thief of artistic beauty. The problem? The director/producer of this badboy refuses to be acknowledged, in kind of an evil genius, lurking in the shadows kind of way. So...he shall remain anonymous, and we can only hope he continues to provide us poker heathens with delicious content for my little blog. Wheeeeeeeeee!!!!  ENJOY!

I hope you enjoyed Chad...in the kitchen at a place that was obviously NOT where he works, since we all know he doesn't have a job. Maybe next time our esteemed director can provide us with a little more realistic set!!!!

I would like to address another snid...mmmm, how do I spell this word? Root word, SNIDE. As in, he made a snide comment. I would like to call it a snidish comment. Are you on base with me? Okay...getting to my point. Another brave guy hiding behind the anonymous tag and refusing to leave his name, love those guys. A ton. In fact...if I were on a cruise ship, and 'that guy' were lurking around late one night...having consumed about 7 shots of tequila, and weaving back and forth walking in my direction? On say...a chilly night where the seas were a bit rough? Lets just say there is about a 59% to 83% that I might accidentally hip-check the guy over the rail. Whoops! Sorry! Hope you can swim!

So let me see if I can find this toolbag's comment. Hold Please. 

"You are just another guy who binked a couple tournaments and thinks he's God's gift to poker! You are always bitching about people playing random hands. Have you ever thought to adjust and that's how people play now!"

Yes, he ended that sentence with an exclamation point, when clearly it was a question. And no there was no comma between 'adjust' and 'and.' But more to the point of his rant.

Um...if you think...that I think...that I am God's gift to ANYTHING, poker notwithstanding, then you clearly have never met me. Assclown. For the record, I hate people who are still using the word 'bink' and wish anyone using it would fall into an active volcano. Bink...is a brand of wine, and makes perhaps the finest Pinot Noir I have ever consumed. The only time I EVER want to hear the word BINK...is if the waiter is opening THIS bottle of wine pictured below.

Furthermore...skidmark, I haven't won a 'couple' tourneys. I have won 7. Well, seven that are reported to Cardplayer.com. In actuality, I have probably won somewhere between 15-20. Do I think this is great? Hell no. Great would be winning ONE tourney...for 5 to 10 million bucks, and never have to sit down at a poker table, ever again. So, as bad as my year is going, as many close calls and tough breaks I have had in the last five years...for any moron to suggest that I think I am God's gift to poker? Its fucking comical. I have to imagine this is flowing from the thin boney fingers of a schmuck who has never won ANYthing in his life...not just poker. I'm talking...anything. Like that contest in 1st grade where you had to balance a damn Lincoln log on another Lincoln log as you raced 10 other idiots 50 yards to the finish line. Or a sack race. Spelling Bee. Soap box derby. Dude...I mean ANYTHING. 

I am a master at reading people...even through their slimy, anonymous comments. And you dude, are a fucking hobbit. Right? Well, I'm not done explaining myself. Or rather, addressing your comment. You know...it's guys like you who perk me up. When things are slow, when I'm in a rut...when I'm questioning my mission in life, wondering what's next, asking myself if I should just end it all....jeez, I read a comment like yours, and it reminds me just how full of idiots this world is. How much people really DO need me around to warn them of dart-targets like this guy.

Ah, but alas, he raises a very important question, doesn't he? Have I ever considered 'changing, or adjusting my game to incorporate more random hands' as he labels them? Well, I think any poker player worth a shit would admit that we all go through periods where we question everything we are doing as players, especially when we are running bad. We might play a small buy in tourney and try to employ a different strategy than usual. We might try out the 'ol move where we just start 4 and 5-betting the shit out of everyone...to stake your dominance on a table.

There is something you pick up when you are friends with excellent players. I first realized this, I think...when in 2008 I shared a house with 6 very fine players. At night, after we all came home from that days conquest/disaster we would sit down and present situational hands...and I shit you not, you generally got 5 or 6 different responses to each situation. Proof that there is no ONE WAY to play poker. No one is naive enough to think there is. Frankly, I don't think I do nearly as much bitching as I used to about people beating me with what most of us would regard as piece of shit hands. I actually admire, respect and fear that rare player who can put in a third or fourth raise with what most would consider garbage (with the utmost confidence while doing so)...and then outplay their opponent after the flop.

This is a strategy, that to me...is best used in cash game. And some of the best cash game players I know...do just that. I won't name them, as I don't want to blow their cover. But I will say that hanging out with, and talking to them about it...has really improved my cash game a lot this year. My problem, is that I just get bored shitless sitting at a cash game.

As it pertains to a tourney...the thing is, my mission is to put myself in position, the best position, to finish in the top 5% and better. And the best way to go about this, is to play a certain range of hands. Now, I will confess...as much as some of you think I am a damn 'nit' (another word I loathe) I play a shit-ton of off hands in the first four levels of most tourneys nowadays. The advent of deepstack structures affords a good player the luxury of doing that. I love to do a lot of limp calling when people raise in late position. Even with hands like AA and KK. Because if I limp with one of those hands...get raised by the button, then come over the top with a 3-bet...due to my table image, I'm almost never getting action there. I would rather disguise the strength of my hand, and take a shot at this guy's whole stack...than to merely take a small pot early. Granted, it doesn't always go according to plan, and I think (okay, I KNOW) that I am a good enough player to remove myself from a hand if I am pretty sure that my big pair is no longer any good.

A lot of players can't. In fact, some players are so bad...they put so many chips into the pot before they even see a flop...that they marry themselves to the hand. Oh! Shit. I have two black aces! But the flop is 5-6-7...all diamonds..and the guy just check raised me....dammit, I have half my stack in there now, and I hate playing with a short stack...fuck it, I'm all in. Yeah you are, stupid, and now you are drawing dead. Probably. Good game.

Here's the deal, guy who has no concept of tournament poker. If you are the jackass who thinks playing a hand like K7d....or J4h....or A8off...when the blinds are 300/600 and are sitting on between 20 and 30 BB's, and calling people when they raise you...with hands like AK, KK, JJ, whatever...and you think that this 'style' of adjusting your play is what is going to get you to the top 10% of the field? I have news for you assbandit, you are going to remain there in your cubicle at Dicker & Snatcher Collection Agency for the next ten years...sneaking peaks at the 2+2 Forums and making your occasional post, where you attempt to come off as a poker guru...and absorb all the crap that you read on there and somehow convince yourself that those of us who do this for a living, have no idea or clue what we are doing.

Who think, that after we, God forbid, do have a nice, successful run of a month or two...that we are running all over the country selling t-shirts and hats and signing autographs at malls while punching out paparazzi's who dare get within three feet of us when we are on our lunch date with the latest hot porn star or reality star, well...you live in a fucking cubicle, and your Mom's basement, so I guess it shouldn't really be much of a shock to my system, huh...should it?

See, I choose to play a select few hands when we get to 20-30 BB-land deep in a tourney, because I am not going to get caught dusting off all my chips with Q8 when I thought I could get away with stealing the blinds when stealing the blinds wasn't really tantamount to my tournament existence. A lot of guys sit there and don't see a hand for 3 or 4 orbits...and they still have over 15 BB's...but their inability to demonstrate any patience or discipline whatsoever, decide its time to shove their chips in to try and end the dry run. 

As tight as you guys who refuse to recognize that my game has evolved the past three years think I am? There is nothing I love more than snap calling an over shove from the cutoff or the button when I know they are just doing a move that I just described. And I will do it with a LOT of hands. Why? Because (a) I hate this guy for being such a dickhole (b) I want to send out the message that my blinds aren't out there waiting for a circle-jerk bukkake fest and (c) I'm usually about 85% certain that I have the best hand. So I call, and after busting them...whisper to myself as they get up...."Suck it, buddy!"

I've actually covered this topic in the past. Once when I was reflecting on a kid that I am pretty friendly with, despite having two complete opposite games, Tyler Smith. He was on a major heater...and I was wondering, "Hmmm...self, do I wish I could be the type of guy who plays like Tyler does?" And if you don't know what I am talking about...then you won't understand what the hell I'm talking about anyway...so just fast forward to the next paragraph. I will occasionally 'Go Tyler Smith' on people when playing in some $120 nightly tourneys...more for entertainment and research than anything. I've done some real cool 'read building' exercises, where I will find a cheapo SNG...and play it blind..never looking at my cards. Simply playing the player. And sure, I get caught in some spots where I have to really rely on my instincts, period. It's amazing. You should all try it at least once if you get the chance.

Okay...I am now really, really sick of talking about poker. Went to IP on Friday night. Or was it Saturday? Yeah, Friday. Met a guy there named Brett who lives near Baton Rouge...or maybe its Houma, can't remember. He finished second when I won my ring at WSOP IP last fall in Omaha H/L and is a big supporter of mine. He also is quite crazy! Which I just find amusing. He was seated at a 2/4 limit game when I arrived. Or 4/8 or whatever that game is that has all the white chips on it. And I took a seat at a 1/2 table...once again, no 2/5 running. Wow.

And within 10 minutes he is texting me horror stories from his table. This as I'm losing some hands I can't believe I'm losing. Won't get into details on them...lets just say that I was in for $300 and within 45 minutes was down to $55. Gutshots getting there, flush draws getting there, flopping two pair when other guy had bottom set...it was just nasty. But I stayed cool. Shit happens.

Then I had my OCD moment. Holy shit! There were about 10 full tables in the room, and it was pretty loud. Loud enough...so that I hadn't even notice....THE GUY!

I cannot lie. I had never, ever in my life donated the time, sorry, wasted the time...to sit and watch this televised abortion called "Storage Wars" in my life. But thanks to our dealer, Chris Pratt, who decides to utter this sentence:

"Man, I am so sick of that guy. Every night...he does the same thing, over and over and over. I swear, I want to kill myself!!!"

Huh? What? What are you talking about Chris? Do I watch Storage Wars? No. No I don't. Never heard of it, why? Oh...because there is a guy on the show...who is the 'Yep-ster' and thats when I heard it. Oh no! Oh my God. No! NOOOOOO!!!! Then the guy across from me heard it. Then the girl in the 4 seat. It was spreading like a pandemic now. How many of us poker players have raging OCD anyway? Is it that common? Apparently it must be.

A guy at the next table over...was YEP'ing with every one of his actions. A call. A raise. A fold. Anything. YEP!.......YEPPPPPP!........YEEEEP YEP YEP....

Hair...rising on back of neck....skin...beginning to crawl down my arms...chalkboard, nails...shreaking....stop!!! STOPPPPPPP!!!! Another five minutes go by. Yep, Yep, Yepyepyepyepyepyep!!!!!  Kill! Kill!!!! Other players start asking if there is ANYTHING the dealer can do about this guy. 

"I Wish!"  Wow, who in their right mind comes to work every night, sits down, and listens to this guy without paying someone to make him and his 'YEP' disappear forever?

I finally SNAP! I stand up...our table is in the middle of the poker room.

"DUDE! Seriously! I don't know what you have in storage that has you so excited, but I am going to ask you, sincerely, what it will cost...and I will take up a collection from the rest of the room, to make you STOP making that annoying sound every 3.57 seconds!!!???"

The room got quiet. A handful of people laughed. Others expressed elation that someone had FINALLY addressed this guy's annoying serenade. And he turns to me, and tells me that for $100 he will stop doing it. Seriously. Seems like a bargain.

I start working the room, starting it off with my own $10 donation...I get to $35 when the poker room manager goes over to him, pulls him from the table and orders him to stop making the sound or he was forcing him to leave. 

He came back, played for about 15 minutes, and left. I guess he just couldn't do it. I hope there isn't a woman at home having to deal with this guy. Holy shit. I have been watching the local nightly news the past few nights....just waiting for that random report about a black male in his late forties who was gunned down in his sleep, estranged wife being the leading suspect. Nothing yet.

Oh, in hour number 6...after having rebought 3 times already, a guy arrived, who looked a bit like a cross between a turtle and a bullfrog. He thought he would impress us by pulling out as many $100 bills as he could find. Wow. Scary. I abused him for about 4 orbits...taking my stack from a paltry $160 to $420...then I raised with KJh...called his min-raise...him holding A10...and flopped A-10-Q, rainbow. Yup....yep yep yep....Da Nuts. Bitch. Try as I did to keep the pot relatively manageable, he refused, going all in on me after I check raised the flop. Well, okay...guess we are in fade mode once more. And this time I did, for a change. And just like that I was up to $900 almost. Even steven. Time to leaven. Peace out turtle face. Go buy yourself a neck and a chin. 

That was my poker story for the week.

I have a new team to hate in the SEC it looks like. Texas A&M. Anyone I've ever met that has anything to do with that institution, I've pretty much wanted to dip in hot bacon grease. Can't wait to watch them come over and play .500 football every season. Hope Arkansas beats them by 40 this weekend.

Anyone watching the new show X-Factor on Fox? With Paula and Simon and LA Reid and that hottie from England, Cheryl Cole? Wow, she is smokin. Occasionally they slip in Nicole Sherzinwhatever her name is from the Pussy Cat Skanks...and her and Paula have taken to battling with Simon. Well, from a pure entertainment standpoint, I really like this show. The level of talent they are seeing is blowing American Idol away. LA Reid is fun to watch, beats the hell out of Randy Jackson and his ability to beat up your mind, soul and body with his "Yo! Yooo! Yo check it out, check it out man...yo...dude....check it out. Here's the thing, Dawg!!!" Ten years of that, and you have to ask yourself, 'Self, how much abuse am I capable of listening to?'

Then there is the absolute joy of not having to watch Ryan 'Oozeball Cheesefest' Seacrest hug the camera and stage all night long. God I can't stand that little ass maggot. The guy they have doing the job of Seacrust just stays in the background and speaks when spoken to. Perfect. And the production element of the whole thing is great. They make you really feel the joy of the kids who come with their parents, tell their little story then go on stage. And they get to bring music tracks with them...which makes it a lot easier to listen to.  Whatever, my point is...I'm a fan. So far. Let's see where things take us.

Went to the gym on Sunday. Did that ten-station workout thing. After 45 minutes on the exercise bike. After the ten station thing, I did one hour on the treadmill, watching football....walking fast, running, walking, back and forth. For the past two days, I have this pain in the very upper reaches of my neck, almost into my skull. I can't decide if its a headache or not. Two days. Its freaking me out. Whatever.

Okay. I'm sick of blogging, and feel I have given you people plenty for this entry. Next poker trip? I'm 92% bagging Southern Indiana unless Bob Talbott gets a hold of me and tells me that they are running a virtual SNG factory up there. Highly unlikely, especially since its being run by in-house staff dealers and floor. So I believe the itinerary looks like Chicago/Hammond next...for that kickass WSOP circuit event, followed by the IP...who's sale to the Boyd Gaming group was just approved by the Mississippi Gaming Commission this week, and is set to close on October 4th. Then after the IP I am all set to go to Vegas, stay with Omar the Magnificent, and play the Venetian Deepstacks, who have shaken up their schedule...and it looks great. Can't wait for that trip.



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Back in Biloxi...What Next?

First I should address the positive:

Congratulations to David Nicholson...who was running like crap the first week in Shreveport...even loaned him money for a SNG at one point...which I should note he quickly returned, who has just won the first WSOP-C Main Event of the season...taking down $168,000 in the process. David is a really nice, low-key dude who I have always regarded as a good player, on the fringe of a big score. Good for him!

My good 'ol boy trucker friend Kenny Milam...who also ran like crap all week, carried the short stack for most of the second day....and kept getting critical double ups when he needed them worst, to hang around. He called me twice on my drive home from Shreveport yesterday, the final time to tell me he got knocked out 10th. Ugh. That is so irritating, but admittedly, the way my summer has gone, I would have loved to take 10th in the Main.

I stopped off in Metairie, at the Apple Store...where they were nice enough to exchange my iPad2...which had a locked volume switch, and an expired warranty...for an upgraded WiFi 3G iPad 2. Sweet. For almost nothing in cost. That kind of made my day.

I also wish to report, that despite only getting maid service a grand total of 3 times in the 12 days that I stayed in Bossier City...the front desk was nice enough to refund my 4 days that I won't be staying there. Yes...I screwed up and booked it til the 23rd. And Hotels.com has a policy of not refunding you in those situations unless the hotel agrees to it. I got screwed by the hotel up in Hammond this spring under the same circumstances. But thanks, to Days Inn of Bossier City for letting me have that money back. 

Dancing with the Stars has started their new season, and I will admit that I watched it tonight. About the only thing I can see missing from this season is Casey Anthony. I mean...its getting comical, the people they decide to put on this show. Nancy Grace? Funny, but you never see her from the chest down...I had no idea what a dumpy, frumpy cow she was. It was fun watching her plop around on the stage. I hope they keep her around just so we can all laugh at her! As for Ron Artest...or 'Metta' as they were calling him, along with his dance partner, Peta? Pita? Petta? Ronnie, who auctioned off his NBA championship ring for some mental health charity (how fitting)...now has decided to change his name to Metta World Peace. I swear to God...every day I live on this planet, shit just keeps getting more weird by the second. Click on that DWTS link up there to see The Big Dancing Dummy.

I drove 375 miles in each direction and failed to get a speeding ticket. I also failed to incur any more damage to my vehicle. Huge victory.

I have decided that there are a few things that I simply cannot stand anymore. Not sure when it started, the whole....Facebook post...where certain player lists his current standing in the tournament, or chip count...followed with a 'Letsss Goooo"..but I only remember Jason Young doing it, and it was okay hearing from him...because that is exactly how he talks. But now its rampant. And its just stupid. I'm pretty sure there is even a beer commercial now with a motto of "Lets Go!" If JY did in fact create this moniker, I think he should be getting creative credit. I vow to never use this on my Facebook, Twitter, or face...ever again. And would like to urge everyone else to do the same. Come up with your OWN shit people.

I love the commercial with the song "Party Rockin" and the rodents dancing against the robotic killing machines. I think its a KIA commercial. 

After holding onto the movie "The Conspirator" for the entire 12 days I was in Bossier City, I finally watched it on my drive home yesterday. It was about the whole conspiracy to kill Abraham Lincoln...and the people involved, and why the Constitutional freedoms were completely ignored at a time of crisis in the US. Directed by Robert Redford...it was exceptional. And further proof that when people in positions of power wish to reach a pre-determined conclusion, they will do whatever it takes and circumvent any normal path of societies expectations to arrive there. 

Spent the first part of the day on Day 1 of the Main Event next to a guy who was hilarious. Very dry sense of humor. And now, like an asshole, I forgot his name. I want to say John Dudley...but that doesn't feel right. But he says he remembered me from 4 years ago at New Orleans...and says he used to think I was a total spaz, and a tilt-o-saurus...and that now he doesn't even recognize me, that I have totally chilled out. I think that felt pretty good. We had a good time playing together, and he sent me this hilarious video that he had on his phone. I must share!

With that in mind, I arrive at this shocking news to share. While in Bossier City, I received a letter at the house. Squirrel shared it with me. Received from the Head of Security, I was informed that I have been 'Trespassed' from ALL, not just the Beau Rivage, but ALL MGM properties. Was I given a reason? Oh, shit...please. What do YOU think? Of course I wasn't. This one is easy. Johnny treated me like shit, didn't allow me to play the last event at the Beau...which I really didn't care about as you recall. But did care about the way he went about it. So I formed a group called "Boycott the Beau until Johnny Grooms is Toast" on Facebook...which sent ripples through the Beau Rivage's management, and even got my wife called in for questioning. Lovely, eh? So...yeah, I assume that I have been deemed a 'hostile objector' to all things MGM and had my rights to walk into their hallowed halls yanked from me.

Was this an operation waged by Grooms as retaliation for the nearly 300 people who signed on to my group to Boycott that place until they replace him? Possibly? Or is it just another knee-jerk reaction by a management group who refuses to look beyond the surface and just do what it thinks will eradicate a problem? I find it amusing, to be honest. They have a person in me who could do SO MUCH for them to help them grow, improve and promote their product, and what they choose to do instead is attempt to stymie me and silence me by closing their doors to me. Hey, knock-knock! Who's there? Nobody at MGM that has any bearing on my future, thats for sure. What major tourneys are run at MGM that I am freaking out about missing? Oh...right...none! The only casino they own that I even LIKE is Aria...and its kind of out of the way anyway. With a gazillion casinos to play at in Vegas, not being able to play at Aria is a mere hiccup.

So I sat down tonight and crafted a letter to their upper management, informing them of my confusion at their letter. Why would I not be given a reason? I was simply curious. I also let them in on a few morsels of information regarding their poker management that they are likely unaware of, but may become increasingly curious about investigating. At the conclusion, I even offered my services to them as their next Poker Tournament Supervisor...bringing with me a solid management background, coupled with my contacts in the poker world, with players, dealers...floor personnel and WPT/WSOP management figures. My wife is sick of me being gone all the time, and frankly, I am sick of being gone. I'm sick of the grind. I'm sick of the variance. Hell, I'm just about sick of sitting there loathing half of the people at the table...playing well for 8 hours, only to get that one spirit-breaking, soul-crushing card on the river that sends you to your hotel room searching for answers in a un-madeup room that sends you into a furious mission to get a damn towel from the front desk.

Where was I? Hating poker? No wait...I just had a major thought, and then poof, I clicked on 'Entourage' just now to finally watch the final episode, and that thought just left me. Maybe it will return. 

I'm almost positive that Pete Carroll is on a mission to secure the big prize in next spring's NFL Draft...Andrew Luck...who would have been the #1 pick if he had come out THIS year...let alone next year. The dude is a made-for-NFL QB who is ready to start today. I would love to see him in a Seahawk uniform. Our team looks like SHIT. Tavaris Jackson is a joke, and Pete won't turn the reigns over to Charlie Whitehurst, which can only mean he has orders from ownership to out-tank the Colts (missing Peyton Manning) in the chase for Luck. 

In an update that should surprise no one who has known me for the last 30 years...I still HATE the Dallas Cowboys.

My family owns 600 acres of oil rich land in North Dakota, that is currently under a 5-year mineral rights lease that sees us getting 15% of what it produces. They are currently sucking oil out of the ground on the next lot over and two lots to the north. We are talking about the kind of money that will lead to a lot of sitting around doing NOTHING for life! Dear Oil Drillers: no time like the present to stick that drill in the ground on the Souther's property!!!! I think my father and I would have a lot of fun gallivanting around the world hitting all the finest fishing holes!

One thing I think that would be incredibly fun, and hilarious...is renting, check that...buying...a kickass RV, getting a bunch of friends together and going all over the country, for football games, concerts, races, and poker tourneys. Going to poker tourneys...and finding those players we can't stand the most...and getting into hands against them with crap like 4-9 offsuit and worse, and trying to put bad beats on them. Having so much money that no matter what you play, no matter how much you lose...you leave laughing. Just living to drive assholes crazy. What a great, great time that would be!!!!

Oh. Yeah...poker. It was starting to look like my trip in Bossier City was about to turn around. I played the $1k tourney on Friday. It started well...I was amassing chips, and getting a little excited. Made the dinner break. Then everything went to shit. Two awful levels left me short stacked. Then...honestly, I can't even remember now, its been 4 days, and I put it out of my mind...but I lost. And when I lost, it was 8:20pm. I had half an hour to still get into the $345 Mega into the Main Event. 

So I got in, and I steam rolled it. I was never short stacked in that one. Never was in doubt. Won it going away. Sweet, into the Main Event, another shot at redemption. Then after that, I got into a late night $180 SNG with a $40 last longer. We got down to 3...and me and another guy were in the last longer. I refused to chop that. Knocked him out. Then the guy I was heads up with wanted to chop. I refused. Sorry...but the current trip deficit was too large, I needed a 'win it all' victory. Back and forth it went. Then I raise with 55. He shoves on me. I call. He has 88. Oh shit. But then I river a 5! And it was over! $1850 win. Much needed win. And confidence. Heading into the Main. 

So Day 1 of the Main started awesome. Getting all kinds of great hands, and winning. We started with 20k. At the end of Level 3 I had 27k. Which sucks. Why? Because if I had picked up those hands at the 200/400 level or higher? I would have had a bazillion chips! But to only be up 7k was like a crime. 

I got to 28k before I would lose a big 10k hand against 'sort of attractive, but looks like she got smashed in the face with a frying pan' Asian lady who over bet EVERYthing she played. Watching her play was just annoying, and she took way too long to act on every hand. Well, with the blinds at 100/200 with a 25 ante...she raises to 1100. WTF? She's UTG+1. I am next in line with AKs. Do I re-raise her? Do I flat her? The overbet just screws everything up. I decide since I have 28k I will play it kind of semi-trappish. So I just call.

And I flop an ace. Along with a ten. Two clubs. No idea where she is. She checks. I check with the intention of re-raising the hell out of her on the turn. The turn though puts a 3rd club on the board. She bets out 2200. Hmmm....now I'm thinking that pot control might be the best strategy here. So when the river is a 5 of hearts...I kind of think I am good. So when she bets out 1800, I took that as total weakness, and raised to 6100...which I honestly thought was a value bet. She tanks. Again. And finally calls. And turns over QJc. OMG. Flush. What was she fearing? A king-high flush? There was no paired board. I seethed. And spent the next four levels of the night treading water. The cards got cold. 

On another hand against that...ahem...lady, she limps into the BB for 400, and I have KQh. I raise to1200. She insta-raises it to 5000. Come on! What the hell??? I frustratingly folded and spent another two orbits plotting against the entire continent of Asia. Finally Day 1 was over...and baggin up 16k felt like a defeat, but fortunately,  was able to go get some sleep...and re-focus, and think about the big picture. A chance to win $168,000...to make everything perfect in my life again. So I went back with a renewed vigor!

The other thing that had me feeling hopeful was my table re-draw. Now, I am known to be a little superstitious...but this was too good to ignore. I drew Table 55. Seat number 5! 5-5-5. Remember how I stuck that 5 on the river to win that SNG the night before? With a set of fives? Had to be a sign, right???

On the first hand of Day 2...I get AKc. I raise. Everyone folds. Good start. A while later...this nice guy who has a condition I'm unsure of, he can barely talk where you can understand him. And his bodily motions when he walks are out of control. Maybe some form of MS. Not sure. I played next to him in cash game one night early in the trip...and was being really nice to him, so when he saw that I was at his table he was excited. I don't know anything about him...but guys with 'conditions' I always root for them to do well in everything they do in life. Well, I watched him play a couple of hands pretty bad, bad calling hands...that on one he got real lucky on for a double up. Well, he raised my BB...and didn't seem to confident about his hand. Then the guy in the SB looked at his hand and bowed up. Aha...a real hand. 

He was about to re-raise...then just called. Well, I looked down at AJd...and decided I was going to make what I hoped would be an isolation shove-steal. I moved all in for 14k. The guy didn't really think about it too long before calling. Which prompted the guy on my right to fold pocket tens. I was pretty shocked when the guy turned over A3c. Wow! I flopped a Jack. But with it came two jacks. Oh boy. But I faded it...and now was up to 28k and feeling now like I might actually make a run and go home happy. Then our table broke.

My new table was made up of players I'd never seen before. A lot of fishing/hunting types. Lots of camouflage in this group.  Oh boy. Then it happened. I raise with AK. Texas A&M hat wearing redneck in the SB shoves all in....for about 8k. I call. He has KJ. Nice matchup there. The flop is A-3-J. Nice...but there is that damn Jack. Turns out the guy on my right folded J10...so dude was drawing to one card in the deck. But it's 2011...and when the jack hit the river, I just sank in my chair. I looked at the face of the dealer, Richard...a super nice guy, and great dealer who I have known and respected for years...and I could tell he was distraught. I couldn't decide who I felt worse for...him or my chipstack. I just can't get anything to break right for me this year. If he doesn't hit that damn one-outer...I'm sitting at close to 30k, instead of 12k...which was below ten big blinds. 

So about two orbits later...when the button raised from 700-1400 to 3000 and I looked down at pocket 9's, I had a good feeling that I was about to double my 12k back up to about 24k if I could get a loose call. I shove all in, he snap calls, and turns over KK. Shit! And no miracle help for me...and I was out. 157th out of 475 entries. And only one hour after I busted, I looked up to see they were already down to 91. Wow. I sat around feeling glum before they finally announced a $65 SNG. Oh good gawd. I guess I will play it...and then at 5pm, they had the final tourney of the event, a $345 ring event.

SNG went great, till we got 4 handed. I raise with AKh. Get raised by one guy...short stack shoves all in....I go all in. Three way action, one guy with QQ the other with JJ. Standard. Flop a King. Sweet. Turn...a queen. Fuck. Done, son!

Went to go eat. Received service from a ditzy blonde girl who was maybe the worst waitress I have ever had, anywhere, ever. On the flip side, I ordered the BLT (yeah I know, real good for my cholesterol!) and it was one of the best BLT's I have ever had in my life.

Then went to play the $345. Same thing as usual. Great start. Lot of good hands. Even had a really cool bunch of players at my table. Lost a few hands, won a few...was just kind of treading water. Then the wind started acting up. Bad. Finally, they announced they were evacuating the tent, and forcing us all to suspend play for the night. Shit. So that was that...and we were done for the night.

I come back the next day...excited and confident to end on a strong note. On the very first hand...with the Big Blind not yet there...which always presents an awkward situation, where people always THINK you are just trying to steal the big blind. Well, I had pocket Jacks...and was NOT stealing, obviously. So I raise, and get called by the small blind. Turns out he has AQh. Nice hand. The flop comes 7-7-2. He gives me a look and says something I didn't understand...almost sounded like 'Sorry' and bets out about half the pot. The only thing I can put him on is either A2, or a pair like 88,99 maybe...or a flush draw, as there are two hearts out there. And I am not folding. So I re-raise him all in. He calls, and yeah...flush draw. He misses on the turn...then hits the 4 of hearts on the river. And just like that...ONE EFFING HAND...I was out. Jeezuz.

Went back to my hotel, packed, took a nap, haggled with the front desk to get my last 4 nights refunded back to me...and hit the road. Nice trip. 

What is next? I'm not sure. A lot depends on my backer. I have not been doing too well for her this year...so its kind of up to her. I was thinking about Southern Indiana...which starts next week, but I think I am more inclined to just stay home for a couple weeks, then go to Hammond/Chicago and play those mega huge fields for some big paydays...in a place where SNG's get off on a regular basis.  Then come home for the IP event after that. 

Oh...I remember what that thought was a while back. People keep emailing and texting me asking why they can't post to my Facebook wall anymore. Simple answer. Used to be you could post on my wall even if you weren't a Facebook Friend of mine. Well, I put the brakes on that because of one person. Chad "The Orange Troll" Burns. I didn't really care what he had to say to me...I was able to take him for what he is, a pathetic human being who is short, Napoleonic, with small hands and a fake tan that couldn't hit a piece of ass if he fell upside down into an outhouse. But I didn't appreciate the incredibly ugly things he was saying to people on my wall who I do feel I needed to protect, so I just disabled that function on there.

I am currently up to about 94 people in the PENDING mode on my Facebook friend request list. Bottom line, I don't know who they are. And they don't send me a note telling me who they are. When they do, I will probably approve/accept them. Its not a huge big deal, I just like to KNOW who is on my list if I can help it. So if you read my blog (and I thank you!) and want to be able to talk to me through Facebook, just send me a message on there when you make your friend request and tell me who you are and its all good. That's not hard to understand, right?

A lot of people sent me a bunch of messages today about the whole announcement/article that the Wall Street Journal and Forbes magazine did about Full Tilt Poker and their den of thieves. I have a lot of thoughts on that mess, but I won't feel too good about airing my opinions until I hear a bit more information and do a little research first. Not that hundreds of you are going to lose sleep 'wondering what Monkey thinks about the FTP mess!!!!!'

Okay. I'm done, I feel like that was plenty for today. I will be in my cave hiding for the next few days...if anyone needs me, send a courier.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Runnin Like a Three-Legged Horse

One thing I hate more than running bad? Is knowing I have created a monster with this blog and have to 'produce' something to keep a bunch of you from emailing and texting me asking for an entry.

Because when I am running ice cold and super unlucky...I don't want to talk to anyone. Or write. I want to just hide.

This trip has thoroughly sucked. I have yet to cash. Anything. Other than a couple of SNG's early. Last night my SNG ended quick when my AA went down to a guy who had a nose (and I'm not being critical here) like a pig and breathed through his nose..so that it was this annoying wheezing sound coming from his face....well, he decides after one guy raised to 150 from 50/100...and I raised to 500, which in most venues would be a bit of an overbet, but not here. Nope, this is the place where people limp for 50, then one guy raises to 650 and everyone calls. And you're left sitting there just scratching your head asking yourself 'what the fuck!!!???'

So yeah he calls with 10-9. He flops trips. Then just to rub it in rivers a 9. Then snorts when turning over is hand. Nice hand. Oink oink.

Before that I was in the 5pm PLO H/L...which started out fantastically. The table was littered with awful players, and they were giving away chips like Halloween candy to kids. I wanted to get excited about my chances to win this tourney...but based on my recent luck, I refused to allow myself the luxury of optimism.

Cue the arrival of 'guy who's name I don't know, but who I traditionally run bad against in every tourney he's at my table.' This guy's dominant feature is his thin face and omnipresent gum in mouth...with his jaws and muscles flexing with each chew of the gum. It always drives me insane. That and he wears glasses that are way too dark. The blinds were up to 150/300. 4 people limp, and in the SB I decided not to raise with A29J. Well he decides to pot it to 2000. The other 4 fold. Interesting. I smooth call. The flop comes 3-9-9. Yahtzee. I decide I'm going to check/raise pot his ass...only he doesn't bet. Dammit. The turn is a Q. I make it 4500. He calls. He has A-Q-4-K. The river? Why not? A queen. I bet 6000. He calls. His trips beat my trips. More shit luck. And now I was shortstack. Cue the music where Pac-Man gets his lunch eaten.....

Speaking of Pac-Man....while playing cash game the other night...I broke my new record of 151k. Smashed it. I am now up to 162k for a top score. Suck it!

So I'm short. I manage to double up. Now I have an outside shot to recover. I pick up AJ2K. I call for 1000. Five others call. Ugh. But the flop comes AhJh2s. Pretty good flop. Checks to me. I pot it...trying to take it down right there. Instead I get a FIVE-WAY all in. You gotta be kidding me. On guy only had AK with no low draw. The other guy decides to chase a bad low draw. And the other guy...the idiot redneck who had no idea what he was doing at the table? He would of course be the eventual winning...of the whole pot...as he was holding 3-4-8-10. Yeah...he needed one card and only one card to win...a five. Why WOULDN'T he river a five? He rakes another huge pot...and I depart. Shaking my head in disgust.

This was my second disgusting, disappointing Omaha bust out in two days. The other night... in the H/L limit version of this tourney...I got down to nearly nothing in Level 5...as we had a over-sized Jethro from Texas A&M who thought it was a game that was only fun when you raised, re-raised and capped the betting on every hand without looking at your hand. Then miraculously winning hand after hand and providing the entire table with enough frustration to destroy a family. But alas, I caught him...and allowed him to hang himself with his blind raising...and was in good shape.

I would cruise all the way til we got down to 4 from the money. Then I got hit by the same disaster that seems to keep occurring in 2011 every time I get close to the money. I run into a case of OMRG this time. For those of you still out of the loop...this is "Old Man Run Good' time, when Quivering Quincy and his lack of Omaha H/L skill make zero difference in the outcome. Because as long as he has ONE pair...and I have a great hand and flop four to the nuts on either the high hand, the low hand...or BOTH...which happened twice out of the three hands I got involved in with Shivering Sammy.

But my pre-flop raises...called, flop bets...called....were all for naught, as on three consecutive hands my awesome dealers did me dirty by throwing 6 bricks in a row through my front window...and ended my tourney 2 from the money. Could I have sat back and played no hands and cashed? Sure. But cashing meant $310 on a $245 buy in. Sorry...but I wasn't there to 'cash' I was there to 'win.' And I wasn't about to start folding AA2Q, A3QQ, and AK34 just because we were close to the money.

After busting that tourney....I return to my hotel in a very, very blue mood. Feeling close to hopeless. Then I see Kai up on the top floor of the hotel, wandering around with his laptop in his hands. I reach the third floor and he is babbling incoherently about his computer not starting. He is plotting tossing it over the side. Then I screw around with it, get it to start...get him connected to the internet...and everything seems fine. 

Nope. Not fine. This is when Kai starts punching his screen. Hmmm...that can't be good for the computer. I wouldn't think.

This is what a computer looks like after you decide to punch the screen a few times. The one good thing about Kai's tirade is it was working to get my mind off of my tourney bubble. Which was badly needed. Oh God...then he decides to take it up a notch!

Yes. That is Kai...picking up his laptop and swinging it at the wooden chair the hotel has sitting here at the desk. Once, twice...then three times he was smashing this thing against the chair. Kai had clearly lost his patience with this thing. He starts discussing a final burial for his 'Gateway From Hell' and I suggest an Osama bin Laden like burial at sea for his little electronic terrorist. This met with Kai's approval.

And here...for your entertainment...is the burial of the demonically possessed Gateway laptop computer. Enjoy!

The rumors you have all been hearing about the temperature in the tent at Bossier City is not just a rumor. Between the hours of noon and 7pm it is miserable. A few of us had taken to turning the slats in the vents so that the air would blow down...and maybe to the side towards our table. Instead of blowing straight up to the top of the tent. 

Then two days ago...at the start of the tourney...someone came on the microphone and makes this announcement.  "Players, the Captain of the Boat (which is funny in itself...the boat that never sails anywhere) has adjusted the air conditioning units to finally solve the problem of the temperature in the tent. We ask that no one touch the vents on the air conditioners...and everything will be fine." My optimism on this subject, along with everyone else...vanished after less than an hour. His 'adjusting' consisted of turning all the vents in the same position.

So...yeah, nothing changed. And everyone is saying the same thing about it. Playing poker, especially 10-handed, with a bunch of over weight sweaty men....in a tent that is between 80-90 degrees...is absolute misery. 

The other major issue, is that SNG's are not getting off with any kind of consistency. Most WSOP events you go to...there are ALWAYS SNG's going off, left and right. And I would say that 75% of us who do this for a living, when we are running bad in tourneys...we always know we can fall back and getting our buy ins back by playing SNG's to recoup our losses. Well here...the real value is in the $180's. But everyone here wants to play $45 or $65 SNG's...which are a joke and pay very little for winning. It makes no sense, no one has money to play SNG's...but when they play in the tourneys that are $355, $555, $1000...they treat their chips like they are Pez...or Tic Tacs....with no value on them what so ever. It makes no sense.

So the SNG coordinator is forced to figure out where he is going to put his two available dealers that he has for SNG's...and more times than naught, it ends up being in a $65 SNG. Bottom line...there aren't enough dealers. And their aren't enough tourney regulars who understand the value in playing higher buy in SNG's. In a week of being here, I have played less than 10 SNG's...which is totally unheard of for me at a circuit event, unless of course, I am getting deep in every nooner that I am playing...which has NOT been the case at this event. 

Kai got here on Monday...and was ready to pick up and leave just two days after getting here. He hates the heat in the tent. He hates the players. And I guess he had some altercation with one of the house dealers while playing cash game. Something about a dealer, who when the topic of religion came up...she professed to being Baptist or something...and then saying the only religions she 'hated' were Mormons and Catholics...which I believe Kai might be. Kai took offense, requested a floor person. And the floor person couldn't understand why Kai was upset. Upset that a dealer was bashing on religion of other folks...PLAYERS...at the table she was dealing at. Sometimes...there is no solution for sheer ignorance. 

My good friend...uh...in the interest of protecting his privacy we shall call him 'Tommy Boy' is on the tear from hell. Oh...not himself. No-no...he is running about as shitty as I am, and we have been joking about it every day. Not joking in a ha-ha-ha I hate money kind of way, mind you. More like a 'how the fu** can I play so good, get it in so ahead every time...and continue to get skull fuc**ed every time?' kind of way. But unlike me, 'Tommy Boy' has been running a little stable of stake horses the past couple of months. John Evans...his kid Zach Evans...and Jennifer Parrish...have all been playing under his banner in the past two events. And the three of them have been kicking ass...making one final table after another. It's unreal. So...I am happy for 'Tommy Boy' who can smile despite his own personal misery at the tables!

You guys ready for some scandal? Or should I save it for my next entry? Probably should. Today is a Mega satellite for the Main that starts Saturday. That starts at 5pm. Oh wait, check that...its a mega into tomorrow's $1k. Maybe the Main starts on Sunday. I can't remember. But I know there is only a couple more events to play. And there is a $300 mega coming up to get into the $1600 Main Event. I have a feeling if I get into that, I am going to run good and get deep, and maybe Final Table. I have to. My life demands it! I might as well just win it. I think my backer is about to hand me a blindfold and cigarette and order me to stand against the wall. 

Signing off for now.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Just Like Yesterday.....

The year 2001 was very memorable for me. On September 3rd...I lost my best friend of the previous 8 years...when my black lab, Jasper was forced to be put to sleep when he could no longer walk. I was devastated, and took a week off from work so I could sit at home...lay and bed and mourn.

Then on the afternoon of September the 9th...I walked in on the girl I was dating at the time...in bed with another guy. I stood there in disbelief. Then, noticing their clothes at the foot of her bed, collected them and went out to my Jeep, where I had a gas can. I doused both of their clothes in gas....put them at her doorstep, and lit them on fire, and left. I never saw her, or talked to her again. Skank.

Fast forward to Tuesday, the 11th. I played on a men's baseball team called the Pilots. So named because we had 4 guys on the team who were airline pilots. Three of them had previously been F-14 pilots in the Navy. Good bunch of guys. Well, one nice thing about having pilot buddies...is that you can occasionally finagle yourself a 'Buddy Pass' on the airline...which isn't all its cracked up to be, honestly. A lot of standing around on standby lists. But it is a free ticket to fly. You just need to get lucky and find a plane that has seats.

It just so happened that my Seattle Mariners were in the midst of the best regular season record in baseball history. It was the year they won 116 games. I was certain they were going to win the World Series that year. So I needed to get home for the playoffs. I lined up a ticket with one of my pilot friends. But I needed to go meet him at Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport to get the pass from him.

On the morning of September 11th, I headed for the airport to meet him at a gate, and pick up my pass. About halfway there, I'm listening to "The Regular Guys" on a local radio show...and they start out by joking about a 'small, commuter-like plane that has crashed into the Trade Center.' It was being regarded as a bit of a joke...that some idiot flew off course or something. Regardless...someone tells you a freaking plane flew into the Trade Center...you take notice.

So I get to the airport. There was a noticeable change in the usual demeanor of people at the airport. As you go through life...there are certain places that you know will always be the same when you walk into them. Right? Know what I mean? Well that day was so ominous. The look on people's faces...the noticeable silence of the terminal. Something was definitely not right.

I get to the gate, to meet my friend, and he asks me if I heard the news? Something about a plane crashing into the Trade Center? He tells me...."Yeah...it was one of ours. Looks like a hijacking and suicide mission."  NO  WAY!!!???  He had a very grim look on his face. Then...I turned to my right, and saw a mass of people assembled in front of a window, looking into the restaurant in the concourse that had its TV on the news.

 There must have been about 35 or so standing there watching the North Tower....as it continued to billow smoke from the top of it. No one was talking...just standing there staring in stunned silence. I think we all knew we were staring at history...having one of those experiences that 10, 20...30 years ago, we would talk about 'where we were when the Tower was hit.'

And then...as we were watching, and I will never forget...a speck showed up in the background. Flying low....and getting closer. "What the hell is THAT" I was thinking to myself. And you couldn't hear audio on the TV...so you were on your own for figuring out what was going on. Then as it got closer, and the camera started to tighten on it...it became clear that it was an airliner...and I think that is when that sick 'Oh My God, no!' feeling hit the pit of my stomach. Then the plane disappeared from view...as it was obscured by the South Tower.  And then.....BOOM! Massive explosion! Followed by debris scattered everywhere.

Hands covered mouths. Eyes were wide. Gasps were heard. A few people grabbed hold of one another. It was a moment I will never forget, as long as I live. I stood there for two hours. I watched the towers fall. First the South Tower...then the North Tower. I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream. I wanted to fight someone. 

Finally, I went home. Called work, and was told that we would be closed that night. Good. I sat in front of my TV that whole day...and most of the next week...watching coverage of the aftermath. Learning about why and how this happened.

A lot of things happened that month, and that fall. My Mariners lost in the playoffs, to the Yankees, who inspired New Yorkers with a World Series run...that ended with an incredible Game 7 victory by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Heroes were found in the aftermath of 9/11. Victims were mourned...on a daily basis for months. Culprits were hunted down...culminating in the killing of Osama bin Laden, finally, after a 10-year manhunt. Our nation changed that day. Forever. For the first time in my lifetime, everyone came together on that day. Blacks, Whites, Jews, Asians, Latinos...it didn't matter what race, religion or sex you were that day. We were all Americans. We had a common enemy...and I'd never seen people work together or get along the way they did that fall. 

Its sad, but amazing how tragedy seems to bring people together in our country. I am proud to be an American. I am not overly thrilled with how the government has seemingly used the events of 9/11 to repeatedly violate our Constitutional Amendment Rights as citizens. I'm not proud of the unfair racial profiling that has manifested in our society as a result of the terrorist acts of 2001.

Later that year...in December, I met Cheryl Johnston on a trip to Biloxi with my friend Jeff Giraldi, who I bartended with, and went to go play some blackjack with at the Beau Rivage. I met Cheryl when she was our cocktail waitress. From the moment I saw her big brown eyes, and heard her southern accent, I knew I had to have this girl. Through a lot of persistence, I would eventually 'get the girl' and my life has been different ever since. I got a 'new' Jasper. He is still with us, now almost 7 years old and getting to that age where you start to focus on every day you have him in your life. I love that dog. And I love my other dog. And I love my wife, and family. Somethings in life are just a lot more important than poker....which is why I didn't say anything about poker today.

To the firemen and police officers who risked their lives to save innocent victims ten years ago...to those who continue to suffer as a result of their life-saving efforts, either mentally or physically...I say THANK YOU on this day that we remember what happened to our country 10 years ago. To our troops, who continue to battle a silent, stealthy enemy in countries on the other side of the planet, I salute you for your bravery. I am proud to be an American...whether I agree or disagree with the decisions made by our leaders. At their core...there are no better people on the planet than right here in the USA.

I hope you all have a good Sunday. Time to go to work.