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Monday, October 10, 2011

I weigh in on Epic Poker League...

Greetings. If you are coming off a huge, winning weekend courtesy of my amazing football picks,'re welcome. You can tip me when you see me at the next circuit event!  :)

I've decided to write a bit about poker. Just chatted with a friend of mine who exists in the poker world and seems to have a finger on the pulse of poker.  Always good for a juicy story and/or rumor or two.  Always kind of my compass for where I stand in the poker world. It seems my 'image rehab' is still being scrutinized by some, and there are those still waiting for me to stumble. Good lord, if going to Bossier City, losing every single tourney I played...and not once coming unglued or freaking out on a dealer or a player isn't proof enough...well, not sure what they need. 

At any rate, I know that I am a constant source of excitement to them, some of whom are obviously just bored to tears with what they consider a mundane anything resembling a scandal is reason to get fired up. It makes me think back to that Eminem song, when he questions what they will do without him when he leaves. Seriously, I've already got floor guys all around the country coming up to me telling me they didn't even know I was there...when I had been there for up to a week at times. Why? Because I wasn't being loud, or flamboyant. Sorry to disappoint you all, I just kind of like to show up, bury myself in my Bose and my iPad, and see if I can win some money. If I lose, I usually just pack up my shit, mumble good luck to everyone, and slink away. I know...they hate it. They want more. They want an overturned table. They want chips thrown at the player who felted me. They are begging me to throw my cards at the dealer. Sorry guys. Just don't have that 'passion' or 'lack of judgement' living in my soul anymore.

So for those floor guys and dealers and tourney supervisors who I know read this blog, I ask you; can't you just be happy that I promote your events on my blog, no longer rip you and your staffs to shreds, play nearly ALL your events, and pay your exorbitant rake fees without so much as a whimper? I mean...aren't I the kind of player you WANT coming to your events? Why must you go looking for something, get me in trouble again? Seriously...ease up gang. Turn your attention to something much more deserving of your focus. Because Mr. Monkey (who doesn't even have his 'monkey' anymore) just isn't going to give you anything you can use against me. Find a new guy to hate. Sorry...but I'm just boring now. 

Oh sure, you might get lucky and read about some funny shit on this blog. And for heaven's sake, I would hope you wouldn't attempt to use THAT against me. Don't probably only have me to kick around for about another 6 months or so...then there is a strong possibility I will be disappearing from the wonderful world of tournament poker as a road carnie. Lets call the date....mmmm...April 25th as my possible date of resignation from the occupation of Professional Poker Player.

Moving on. Epic Poker League. I have heard other not-so-lovely names for this league. The Uppity Poker League, The Nazi Poker League, The Poker Clique...just to name a few. I was asked to voice my opinion on this league and their widely talked about policy of weeding out players for what they view as Ethical Violations.

EPIC POKER to check out their site

Wow! Holy shit. Really? First of all, let me state for the record, that I think the idea of forming a poker league where you have to be in the top 5-10% of tournament poker players to even get the chance to play in their a really good idea. Does it suck that I am not IN that top 5-10%? Well, yeah sorta! But its been a shitty year...what can I say. But to think you could go pay good money, to win good money...and be sitting at a table with players who (a) you knew fairly well from either TV or other tourneys that you've played against them (b) players who's style of play you are familiar with and (c) not having to worry about the old guy in the hunter's cap and camouflage hunting outfit who is never folding middle pair, flush draw or gutshot straight draw to any bet you are making on the flop or the turn? Well I think we can all agree that this is a pretty attractive scenario for a serious tournament playing poker pro, yeah?

So for what it was intended to be, I support the idea. For what it has tried to become in the process? I wave a big, huge, gigantic red flag! And I will try and make my point very clear. We are poker players. We aren't politicians, school teachers, or clergymen. We aren't trying to change the world with our acts of kindness and/or good deeds. Though some of us do seriously try to give back to the community as much as possible. What you find when you walk into any poker room in America is some of the most unsavory individuals you would ever want to meet anywhere. It's no accident that my blog seems to feature a 'Worlds Biggest Douchebag' mention at least once a month, as it relates to poker players.

Poker players are known to lie, cheat and steal to stay relevant. You've all heard the stories about famous players. I don't even need to list all of their names. You know who they are. Guys who sell three times a tournament buy in to people, then go in and dump all their chips...just so they can essentially steal the other two buyins. Guys who borrow money and take forever to pay people back, if they even pay them back at all. How many poker players do you know that have accumulated a DWI/DUI or two? The point I'm making is...for someone to invoke an Ethics Policy into a poker league? I find it borderline laughable.  Especially when you consider the source.

Okay...the guy from Germany? The Turkish guy? Who was using plants disguised as photographers to spy opponents hole cards and signal their boss on the other side of the table? Yeah, pure and simple...that piece of shit should never be allowed to play in a live poker room as long as poker is a game. In fact...maybe even take that guy out back and beat him unconscious. Then pee on him. And if your really feeling froggy, give him a Cleveland Steamer.

Yeah, sorry...I DID go there! Hide the kids!

But a guy getting tossed because someone who he busted looked the guy up and discovered he was a registered sex offender going to the Epic Poker League's bosses and getting him booted? Huh? When confronted with it, he wasn't even the least bit ambiguous about it either. "Yes, I was forced to register as a sex offender. It was years ago. End of story."  Or was it? Nope. Not end of story. They yanked his EPL card. Done. See ya. Sorry.

His offense? He was guilty of being 20...and DATING...a 17 year old. The girl's old man apparently had a problem with it, and had the guy arrested. Wow, and I thought that kind of shit only happened to me in my life. Kind of refreshing to see there are others getting just as screwed around in their life. Nice little badge of honor that guy gets to carry around for the rest of his life, eh? I mean...I think of all the 'slips' I had when I lived in NYC 20 years ago, and bouncers weren't so 'careful' about checking ID's at the door as they are these days. I would say I'm ashamed of what happened back then...but do you think as a 24 year old that I was out at the club attempting to prey on 16 years old? Shit, you kind of assume everyone in a club is 21. And when 16 year olds looked like 23 year olds...and TELL YOU they are 23...does that make you a criminal because you didn't card them? Or hell, if their fake ID looked real, take it one step further and conduct a back ground check on the spot? Well, this was before we had such awesome technology as we do today. So instead, you had guys going to jail for rape. Yeah! I got lucky. Pure and simple. 

Okay, I kind of got side-tracked there, sorry. It just pisses me off that someone can get so completely blacklisted for something that is so unwarranted. And it happens EVERY SINGLE DAY in this country, not just in poker, obviously...but everywhere. Petty office politics lead to someone getting fired when they did NOTHING to deserve it. Its a joke, and the people who promote this kind of behavior? Off with their heads!!!! The level of hypocrisy in this nation is absolutely mind-boggling.

Epic Poker League decided to put 'restrictions' and 'conditions' on Chino Rheem, who happened to win $1m in their first big event. Why? Because rumor (and yeah, it wasn't just a rumor) had it that Chino was a little delinquent in paying people back who he either owed money to for loans or for past buyins, a.k.a. 'makeup' payments. So...Epic Poker League calls in these people who he owed money to...and confirmed this, then made the decision to appoint themselves as financial mediators and making sure Chino paid these people. Okay...this is going too far, in my opinion. I, if I could get EPL to round up all the assholes, welches, and scumbags who owe ME money for the past 10 years...and get them to pony up, I could take the next two years off from everything!

I happen to think that it's every person/player's responsibility to handle their own individual affairs when it comes to being a person with enough credibility to repay people that they owe. Since the beginning of mankind there have been dirty little scumbags...without a ruling committee to bring them to justice. Its kind of been the 'Law of the Street' that has doled out the necessary punishment to these assholes, and I kind of feel that this is the way it should remain. That or just relying on 'karma' to catch up with them...which honestly, I've never really been a big fan of. I do believe in karma, trust me...I do! But when someone has royally fucked me over? To sit and wait for karma to get them? Ehhhh...not my first choice of options. I'm just not that patient. Baseball bats and a couple buddies with nothing to do that night always seem like a better option to me.

Back to the EPL. It is headed up by Jeffery Pollack, formerly of the WSOP. Also Annie Duke, who is the sister of Howard Lederer...can you say awkward? Now, I have known Annie for quite awhile, and while a lot of guys I am friends with seem to have a problem with Annie, she has always been very sweet to I can't really find a good reason to say anything nasty about her. Matt Savage is their Tournament Supervisor and runs the events. Not a better guy in the business to do that. So they have a lot of really positive things going for them. And a TV contract with CBS. I hope they succeed. I really do. I hope they find corporate sponsorships to drive it, as well. I hope I one day get to play in their events. What I do hope for, though? I hope they can back away from the heavily discriminative groundwork that they have laid out in their first year.  Or at least give the people who are being victimized a right to go before a panel of some kind to present their case before being tossed to the wolves.  I mean, if I am 'sexual offender' guy...I just had my name dragged through the mud (and that's a good reason why I am not publishing his name here...cuz I think he's getting totally fucked) and been damaged in a lot more ways than as just a guy who got ripped off for his $20,000 buy in.

The first people they booted were Chris 'Jesus' Ferguson and Howard (Annie's brother as most of you know) Lederer. Why? Because they were tied into the scandal with Full Tilt Poker. But why wasn't Erik Seidel?  Who finished 2nd in their first event for $600k. He was a Red Pro with FTP too, wasn't he? I mean...are they all going to go down? Eric Lindgren? Phil Ivey? Jenn Harman? Durr? How many are there? You've seen the commercials of them marching into the camera...what? Maybe 20 of them? Why are Chris and Howard any more guilty than the rest of them?

Here is what I think. I do not think ANY of the poker pros had any knowledge that they were getting into a 'sticky situation' with any of the poker sites. And this includes Annie Duke...who had a deal, along with Phil Hellmuth, with Absolute Poker/Ultimate Bet Poker (same company)...but who jumped ship right about the time the shit hit the fan. It's kind of ironic now that Annie is afforded the luxury to stand in judgement on these guys from Full Tilt after the same accusations could have been slung her way, right? Not saying it would have been fair...just saying. People seem to be so damn quick to judge people these days, I find if shocking. I mean...Ultimate Bet was proven to be openly cheating from the inside, and that, I all of our biggest fears, isn't it?

So back to what I think. I think when poker was booming there for those five years...the goal was to get your game to a point where you could sign a lucrative deal with an internet poker site, right? Get as much as you can. Who wouldn't want to put their name on something, appear in a few commercials...and make money hand over fist? Pretty sure we all would. How many of those guys do you think were getting super-involved in the everyday operational aspects of Full Tilt Poker? You think any of these big pros were flying to Ireland to 'check up' on things to make sure everything was on the 'up and up?'

Highly unlikely. But sure is convenient now...isn't it, to throw these guys under the bus, right? Oh! They had to know! They were making all that money...millions, while the company didn't have the money in the bank to justify all of their players' account balances!!! Does anyone with an IQ over 75 think that these players were 'in on the scheme?' Please. No effing way. These guys were just realizing a golden opportunity they had been shooting for their whole poker career, and fell victim to some terrible business people. And now, because their name was attached to the product as co-owners, they will suffer the most. I'm pretty sure the little slimy ferrets who are currently hiding out from US prosecutors on their private islands have squirreled away enough money, stolen mostly from U.S. players, to not have to worry about anything as long as they either (a) live or (b) manage to evade hit-men and/or prosecutors.  Keep in mind, these assholes don't have to worry about protecting their 'poker reps' because they never had a poker rep to begin with.

Does any of this make sense to you people? I have a feeling it might. This French company has seen an opportunity to purchase Full Tilt, and with it, it's existing debt, and I think it would be great if it goes through. I'm not so sure FTP is as dead as people think it is. I mean, if Ultimate Poker could come back from THEIR scandal? Please! I personally can't believe anyone would put .25 cents on UB after all that bullshit.

I think I'm about done. With this entry. Gonna watch some playoff baseball, make a trip to the gym, then watch what I hope is a Detroit Lions blowout tonight. Its funny, in my current fantasy matchup, I have 201.50 points, my opponent has 200.48 pts. We reward the team each week that scores the highest number of points. No one else has more than 165 pts. One of us is going to lose not only the game...but that prize. He has Chicago's defense tonight, and I have Devin Hester. We get points for kick returns. It should be a very interesting/exciting night! Just the thought that Detroit has a chance to be 5-0 is mind-boggling. 

I leave for Chicago on Wednesday afternoon...getting in around 10pm. Plan on driving straight to the casino and registering so I don't have to face that wall of people on Thursday morning. It's rumored they are anticipating over 2000 players for their first event. Holy crap. Wouldn't that be a nice event to win!!!! Hope to see a lot of you up there! Have a great day!



Anonymous said...

Where's a safe, inexpensive place to stay close to the Horsehoe in Hammond? Also, i guess you know, that Annie did not vote in their meeting to ban Howard and Jesus from the EPL. You were too kind not to mention some big names who are convicted felons and allowed to play, even a convicted drug dealer, Mike the Mouth

Poker Monkey said...

I love that you ask where a 'safe' inexpensive place in Hammond there is to stay. Not too many places is the word SAFE used in that question. I guess for me, I don't really sweat the safety factor that much, living in NYC for 5 years and knowing how to defend I'm a bit impervious to it. But in Hammond, yikes, its not a good place to show up without a reservation, like I did two years ago. The places around the Horseshow are pretty scant. You have a cluster of hotels off of S.Calumet Avenue that are reasonably priced...but then you are looking at a lot of other places that are well over $100 a night. Its one of the tougher places to find affordable lodging. And the Horseshoe there doesn't even have a hotel. Pretty weird. ANd better rent a car...because the taxi's there are a nightmare. And hotels shuttles stop running after 11pm.

Poker Monkey said...

As far as not mentioning a lot of other names? It wasn't really my mission to 'go after Epic' in a manner to embarrass and humiliate all the players included. Like I stated, I think its a noble concept. But to single people out for exclusion based on a lot of things that call into the question the preponderance of the facts is extremely shortsighted and just unfair.

Anonymous said...

Lederer and Ferguson are two of the original investors of FT. Tiltware was the managing company and in the most trouble with the DOJ. People like Harmon, Durrrrr, and Seidel were red-letter sponsered pro's and therefore not involved in day-to-day operations of the company but certainly received lots of the pie.

Anonymous said...

that's a very good picture of you in the blog, right below "Sorry...but i'm just boring now";
you may be many things, but boring ain't one of them. what's happening April 25th? incarceration, or a J.O.B. even so, you will always crave playing in tournies, like a vampire, when you get that first taste, (of blood/success) you always want more.