Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011....GOOD BYE!!!!

Never...ever...well, at least not in the past five years, have I been so excited for a year to be over as I am for 2011. Don't get me wrong...some good things did happen this year. That can't be ignored. I met some great new people, some of whom have become good friends. I had doors opened to me to future opportunities. I had my long time spat with Harrah's put to rest, thankfully. I finally appear to be headed to fatherhood, which I am very excited (and nervous) about. 

And hey! Don't think I won't find something to do for New Year's Eve! For starters I have a killer bottle of champagne sittin in my refrigerator that I will drink from 11:45pm to 12:30am as we pass into 'The Year.' Then of course we will sit and wait on our drunk friends to take us up on our offer of driving anyone home who has 'had a little too much.' That's what you do when you're drunk and pregnant, right? Hopefully none of our friends will be coming from this party down below!

But when I look back on 2011, what I will remember most, is getting deep in SO many tourneys, with good scores in sight, only to get derailed by heart-breaking suckouts, leaving me sitting there feeling empty, depressed, and somewhat cursed. I honestly don't think I played any better than I did this past year...but with few results. When you play a whole year...as much as I do, and your biggest score is $15,000...well, that's just not good enough. 

I think the guy hitting quads on the river in Chicago when we had both flopped a set (me QQ, him 55) to knock me out 9th...instead of handing me the chiplead with 9 left and $40k for first was the toughest blow. That or playing for 3 long days in the WSOP Main Event only to get popped on the 2nd to last hand of the night when my K10 suited shove was snap called by a guy with Q7 who didn't even look at his hand, just sitting there in the BB with a mountain of chips and not having a problem with calling a 18BB shove. Yeah, that one hurt.

When I think about 2011, I will remember the day that our government decided we were no longer responsible enough to decide where, when and how to spend our own damn money. While it's seemingly okay to have a casino license granted to nearly every state in the union, for some reason, playing online poker...some as full-time professional online players, was an impermissible sin!

How politicians ever get in the position of wielding such ridiculous powers over individual rights is both shocking and appalling. This guy pretty much became poker's Satan in 2011.

When I think back to 2011, I will think about the thousands of people whose lives were either doused or devastated by natural disasters. The earthquakes, the tornadoes, the floods, the fires...then the killing all over the Middle East, whether it be by way of terroristic attacks, war, or people revolting against their government. If ever there was a year when 'signs' of a coming apocalypse was upon us, it was definitely this year. 

Thank you to all my friends who chipped in and helped me raise $1500, which we went to the Red Cross of Japan after the disaster that killed thousands.

Really hoping that fate smiles on Tuscaloosa on January 9th.
Is there anything more eerie than to walk outside and see THAT!??

I am really looking forward to 2012. As April draws closer and closer, our little bundle of joy...Carley Grace...will change my life dramatically. I will no longer be able to be the road warrior that I have been for the last 6-7 years. And why would I want to be? As my passion and interest in poker has begun to wane increasingly year after year...my desire to be a father has blossomed. And I would never want to miss out on too much while my little girl grows up.

Does this mean I will have to get 'a real job' in about 6 months? It might. I feel like I am going to have a really good trip out west to start the year. Two circuit events for WSOP...one in LA and one in Las Vegas...followed by a Venetian event. A chance to really do well, and put money away. I no longer have a backer. It's not really that complicated, or scandalous. It's what happens when you have the kind of year I had in 2011. A three year relationship ended simply because the checks were going in the wrong direction. I have nothing but the utmost appreciation to my backer for the experience, for believing in me for as long as she did. 

So while I will play on my own dime...it's both nerve-wracking somewhat, but also kind of exciting, knowing that if I should hit a big one..instead of garnering 40%, I will get the whole kit-n-caboodle, and that's also something that the Squirrel will like. 

I kind of have a feeling that online poker will make its return pretty soon, with the US government standing in control, and being able to tax and regulate its existence, which, in reflection, is better for the online gamers anyway. So to think I might be able to stay at home, raise my girl, while Squirrel keeps her job...is kind of nice. Maybe during the day...I can go log a 4-hr session of cash game 3 or 4 days a week as my 'job' then come home when its time for her to go to work. Or maybe another opportunity will present itself, where I can just work a full time job from 9-5 that I actually enjoy. Who knows? I'm excited about the possibilities.

Barth was nice enough to warn me about the evils of ticket fraud...and told me to cover up the bar code on the tickets. DONE! For those of you who may already be working on screwing me? Good luck. I hear the jails in New Orleans SUCK!!!!

I went over to New Orleans...Metairie specifically...to hang out with Barth...and oh yeah, pick up our BCS game tickets! And, he has poker over there. The night started off with a fun little $60 NL tourney at 8pm. Started out pretty well, but then lost most of my stack in a AK vs JJ race...and Barth killed me off with A10 vs. my KQh right after I had doubled back up. It was funny, I had no idea I would go over there and see so many guys I knew. I was planning to go in all incognito. So much for that idea. After busting I got to play some 1/2 with the other 'losers.' I actually did quite well in that game. In for $300 and out for $1150. 

During the game I watched as my Washington Huskies put on huge offensive display against Heisman winner RGIII and Baylor, leading by 11 at the half...and leaving me with a special feeling of 'hey we are going to win two years in a row when huge underdogs!' Scratch that. We blew it in the 2nd half. Not only losing but not even covering the 10! Losing by 11, in the highest scoring bowl game (without OT) ever! And with the most yards combined by two teams. 

Located on Veterans Blvd near the Mall, just off of 610. Fun place. Call for information on their poker nights...504-889-7350.

Barth has a pretty cool bar over there. The people who hang out there are pretty nice folks. There are plenty of TVs to watch your games...and their food is really, really good. I'm not sure how the laws and everything work over there in Louisiana, but he has a permit to run poker there...I think mainly because it's two different buildings, officially. At any rate...they run poker over there pretty often, its worth checking out. 

I leave for LA on Sunday morning. I can't wait to see what kind of a turnout they get in LA for that WSOP-C event at the Bike. I have a feeling its going to be great. I'm also kind of wondering if I'm going to know anyone out there. Wouldn't have hated having a (non-snoring) travel partner for this trip....nothing I hate worse (especially without a backer) than paying $75-$80 a night for a hotel. Especially considering its just a place to sleep and shower and change clothes. 

Finished all five seasons of 'Friday Night Lights.' Not sure what happened in Season 5. Its like they got all new writers or something...because the quality went down hill. Fortunately it finished really strong...it was almost as though they knew they were getting cancelled and had 3 episodes to wrap it up...and it did wrap up really well. I really enjoyed those 122 or so episodes. Now I need to find another show to get addicted to.

I am laying here watching 'Happy Days' on one of those late night marathons. I am pretty sure I'm watching one of the first episodes ever. Mr. C didn't have any idea 'what' a Fonzi was. And I never knew Richie C had a brother! Chuck? And he appears on this episode. Wow.

I used to hate Shannon Dougherty when she was on '90210.' Thought she was such a bitch. Its pretty fun to watch her chubby ass with that awful spitting gap between her teeth doing these late-night commercials for online education websites. Hilarious. Work much, Shannon?

The race for the Republican nomination is about as sad and pathetic as any since I've been born. I mean...what the hell is going on? There is no way Barack Obama isn't going to win re-election. And just watch...these jobless reports that come out every month? Watch...they will claim that unemployment is down every month from now til next November. Watch as gas prices go down. Every little thing that can be manipulated to influence voters will be, its the same thing every time there is an upcoming election. I mean...jobless claims? Rate of unemployment? Who prepares those reports? People are so stupid and gullible. Not that I care, I don't really hate the job Barack has done. I just don't think the office of President really matters too much in the grand scheme of things.

I would say good luck to all of you who will be playing at the Beau in this upcoming event...but you know my feelings on that deal. But if you are going to be there, and play...and happen to get served by Squirrel? Don't hesitate to overtip the hell out of her...we will call it your attempt to make me forget you were there!  :) That and a contribution to the Carley Grace fund!

Thanks to all of you for your support in 2011. And to everyone who reads this blog...and I'm shocked at how many of you there really are, I appreciate it. I hope I have a lot better news to relay to everyone in 2012! Have a happy and healthy new year everyone!!!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

College Football Much?

So, yeah...I kind of screwed you guys. Telling you I was going to be coming out with my fearless bowl predictions and then giving you zilch in return. Pretty sweet eh? Yeah I rule. In defense of myself, I'm pretty sure my predictions so far would have been utter dog shit through the first 8 games, unlike my buddy 'Banger' who is currently 8-0 in my Bowl Pool, the only person out of 156 who is perfect so far.

Y'all may have noticed just how close the voting was in my little poll over there in the right margin for who YOU think the Heisman Trophy should have gone to. I figured when all the players got an award of some kind at the awards show the night before the Heisman presentation....all EXCEPT Robert Griffin III, that it could only mean he would take down the Heisman. I was right. Honestly...I think he was deserving of the award. It was a delight listening to ALL the Heisman candidates talk during interviews...well except for LSU's Honey Badger...who apparently is playing on a team who doesn't screen for marijuana, or has an amazing supplement he's using to mask all that dope he's smoking. Had he not had such a fantastic final two games...he wouldn't have had to be up there embarrassing his university. We could have instead got to listen to another solid kid, like Kellen Moore or Case Keenum.

The main reason I wanted Trent Richardson to win...was because when Mark Ingram won, 'Bama won the title. Also in that year, the Saints won the Super Bowl. I have convinced myself that 2011 is running a parallel course to 2009. And that was part of the puzzle. However, Mark did NOT win the Doak Walker award that year...not sure who did, but no Bama running back had ever won that award, and Trent did...so that is pretty special.

Bama started as a 1 point underdog in this BCS title matchup...and now is a 1 point favorite. I have no idea what swung the line 2 points...but I would much prefer they go into the game as an underdog, for the psychological advantage.

On Thursday night, the #1 team in my heart, the Washington Huskies, take on Baylor...and RG3, this years Heisman winner in the Alamo Bowl. I love my Huskies...and yes, we beat Nebraska last year in the Holiday Bowl as 14 point underdogs...but I just don't see us beating Baylor. Our defense is horrendous.

Watched the Saints on MNF last night...and damn did they look good, destroying the Pidgeons from Atlanta. And what a treat...getting to watch Drew Brees eclipse Dan Marino's 27-year old record for most passing yards in a season...and doing in dramatic fashion, with a 7-yard TD pass to this season's free agent 'steal' Darren Sproles...who has been my fantasy GOLD for the past four seasons. Listening to Drew talk after the game...and watching how he conducted himself right after setting the record, I just hope New Orleans as a city knows what a special treat they have been given, getting to see this guy play for their Saints. What a class individual. Not given much of a chance coming out of Purdue...where he was coming off a Rose Bowl clobbering by my Huskies (that was a nice day for me!) he was deemed too short and lacking arm strength, but was still taken in the 2nd round by SD. The rest is history.

But today, as I peruse Yahoo...I see them trashing him and the Saints...for what they call an 'anything but classy' move...by running up the score. Funny, none of the Falcons were bitching about it. None of them. I think with the entire nation watching...and at home in front of his adoring fans...coach Payton made a decision that he knew would maybe be questioned. But to me...it was a no-brainer. I mean, come on...come back next week needing 30 yards? Or just get it taken care of, and have the option of resting Brees along with a lot of other starters next week in preparation for a title run?

I woke up this morning with a pool of dried blood in my left ear. I have no idea why...but can't seem to find anything that would point to this as being 'normal.'

Redbox is a great thing. But when you take out two movies on Wednesday...and it takes you until Tuesday to watch them....at $1.20 per day...its kind of stupid.

When the girls at the Beau Rivage get pregnant...they eventually outgrow their tight little cocktail uniforms, and have to resort to their maternity uniform...or what Squirrel has labeled 'the fat dress.' Well, yesterday was the first day she went to work in her 'fat dress' and frankly, I think she looked gorgeous! She is finally starting to show...and I love it. Meanwhile, my mother continues to bombard us with clothes for our little SquirrelMonkey...who it is appearing will be given a name we are almost completely sold on, unless something comes from out of nowhere and blows us away. But its looking like Carlie (or Carley...thats still in debate) Grace Souther. Grace was my Great-Great Grandmother who I loved...and I just think its a pretty name...and flows nice with Carlie. That was a name Squirrel liked a lot, and I like it too.

Congratulations to Jennifer Parrish for her new baby....who came out just over TEN POUNDS! Wow...last time I saw her she DID look like she was trucking around a pumpkin in there! Then one day after Piper was born, Jenn celebrated her birthday. Pretty nice birthday present.

Hey, I meant to put this up on my blog a few weeks ago...as it might have helped a lot more going INTO the Christmas buying season. But as always, I got sidetracked. I suck. Cheryl and I have a girl we both are very fond of, and who a lot of you poker players probably know. Melinda Harvison. She used to deal at the Beau for quite a while. She was one of the few dealers there I never once caught a snotty attitude from, and her love of animals makes us, well...two on the same wave length. Well, Melinda got together a lot of her savings, and bravely started her own little business making dog collars, the kind that are waterproof, and don't get all smelly. And they come with cute, fun little words on them...and in stylish colors. She told Squirrel about what she was doing...and even gave her two freebies for our little beasts.

She didn't ask me to do anything to help her...like put this new ad on my blog for her....but I thought it was the least I could do for someone we both like so much. She recently got her own kiosk set up at the Mall here in Biloxi...Edgewater Mall. She also has her won website set up for the collars....CLICK HERE to check it out, or go to the link that I have added to my little ad space over there on the right-hand side. If you have pets...and feel like spending a few bucks on a new collar for them...throw my friend Melinda a bone and check out her stuff. Tell her Monkey sent ya...I'm sure she might offer you a deal of some kind. No promises though. (that will function as my legal disclaimer!)

The mystery of the bloody ear has been solved. I somehow incurred a laceration...also called a 'scratch' sometime while sleeping last night.

The Middle East is blowing up again. Syrians are dying by the hundreds. Egyptians are pissed that they got duped by the military. And now that we have left Iraq...the new Civil War is set to begin...which, honestly, would have happened exactly the same way if we had just gone in, killed Saddam, did whatever else we were trying to do there, and left, in say....2004? Instead...we let 3 or 4 thousand troops get killed, thousands other maimed, and countless more messed up in the head. Yeah...Iraq was a really good decision. Well played Mr Bush and Mr Cheney. What's going on in Iran? Who knows? It's clear that the race is on to either covertly destroy ALL of their atomic facilities, or get the CIA to fund an overthrow of their government by the youth of Iran...who happen to also be the majority, and who also happen to clamor for the niceties enjoyed by most Americans. Yup...2012 should be a very interesting year.

Remember when Sineed O'Connor was young, and pretty...and a top 10 singer? And that bald head left people saying things like..."Damn, she'd be hot if it weren't for that bald head! But then again...she is still pretty...so I guess it's okay." Did you ever utter that phrase? Well, four marriages, 40 lbs, and no hit singles later...I think maybe now would be a good time for her to finally abandon the bald look and perhaps grow some hair. Her recent marriage just ended after 18 days. You heard me. DAYS.

Good news for Star Wars fans...specifically Darth Vader fans. Yes, I am talking to YOU Kai Landry. The University of Oregon...always one to flirt with the edges of fashions boundaries, are at it again. Nike has presented them with a very interesting, state-of-the-art uniform to wear in this year's Rose Bowl. Good luck, Cyborgs!

Okay. That's enough for today. Somehow...the mailman came today and DID NOT bring a package for 'Baby Girl Souther.' Has to be a malfunction at the post office!


Poker, Santa, and Christmas with the Family

I have been admittedly sluggish about timely blog posting this month. I tend to go through periods where I am more fired up to blog than others. This seems to be one of those 'down' periods.

I just finished up a 10-day run at Harrah's New Orleans...in an event, that unless you were there, might not have even known it took place. It's kind of fun to see your tourney cashes post to Cardplayer...and see where you rank in P.O.Y. rankings. But as I write this...and the event ended almost a week ago...there still is not one result posted...so cashes #97, #98 and #99 currently don't exist, officially. I had no idea who won the main event over there...nor did hardly anyone else, until today when I checked out our front page here at GulfCoastPoker.net and saw that they allegedly did a 6-way chop for $25k each. Huh?

Now...I used to take a bad rap a few years back...by some who thought I was always the guy who was itching to do a chop deal. Truth be known...it was never anything like what people accused me of. I really only ever wanted to chop when the structure had outrun the skill factor, or when I had a paltry amount of chips and was being offered a chop that totally benefited me. But in the past two or three years, I have lost a lot of my desire to do deals...since many of the times when I did make deals, it resulted in me giving away a lot of money that I would have eventually won had I just played it out. Add to that a feeling that when players are begging to chop or do a deal, that its a sign to me that they are afraid to keep playing. Which motivates me to keep playing and try to bury them.

I can always tell the players who aren't accustomed to getting down to the final 5 or 6 in a tourney...and their inexperience shows in a lot of ways. My favorite is watching their body language, how they act around the people that are there watching them...and how awkward and clumsy their casual conversation becomes. I would say those people annoy me and I thirst to bury them...but that might come off as sounding mean, or condescending. More so I think, I just find it amusing...comical almost.

I didn't come into this post with this being my focal point. It was kind of just accidental. But hearing that these guys chopped 6 ways for $25k? I just find that utterly stupid. First place was $160k. How do you NOT want to shoot for that? There is no way the structure had gone to shit. At all. 

So what is it? The economy? The fact it was so close to Christmas, and 6 guys saw a chance to all make the 'ol lady happy? I'll tell you this...if I had made it down to 6 and told Squirrel we were doing a 6-way chop for $25k each, she would have divorced me.

Well, I didn't have to worry about getting down to 6. Thanks to Dan Schmeich. 

Day 1 went pretty seamlessly. I had a pretty good table draw. That and I stayed out of trouble. That and my pocket kings...which I got SEVEN times, never got cracked. When we bagged up our chips, we had 40 players left...and I had the 11th biggest stack. I was shocked that we got 165 players. Never in a million years, due to the turnout the rest of the event, would I have predicted more than 125.

On Day 2...we lost 10 players in the first level. At my table we had the tournament chipleader. He had over 300k in chips. He also had something else. A lobster claw for a left hand. Did I make fun of him? Of course not...I'm not a douchebag. 

But then he gave me...and the rest of the table...a reason to clown him, if any of us chose to do so. It was early in the first level and I raised with 10-10. I raised to 8500. Sitting behind was BJ McBrayer...and he re-raised to 22,000. Geez. Well, I didn't have to think about it too hard because 'Lobster Boy' goes ahead and grabs a stack of gray chips, representing about 150k and say's "All In."

We both folded. This little move of his happened about 4 times. The whole table had grown very tired of his move. That and he was talking all kinds of shit. I think it was pretty obvious that everyone on the table was praying to pick up AA or even KK so they could catch him pulling that move against him. Then we had a hand where five us were in to the flop. Someone bet the flop, then there was an all-in...I folded. BJ then hesitated, and folded. The next guy...sitting next to 'Lobster Boy' was still deciding what to do...when he starts crowing about "How can I possibly think about folding this hand here" and showing him his cards. Then folds. 

Huh? In case anyone had missed it, this event had already become the tournament that everyone would remember for a new world record for penalties handed out for exposing a card...usually on accident. But now...I'm sitting here, waiting for the dealer to do something, like, you know, call the floor! Since this is precisely why the rule was invented in the first place! But he wasn't doing a thing. You gotta be kidding me. I finally said something to the dealer. He calls the floor. Lobster Boy receives a penalty.  And starts talking more shit to me. Whatever. Go serve your penalty jerkoff.

He went...and soon after, our table broke. We were down to 27 already. 9 from the money. While I was sitting there picking up a few pots here and there...something really funny was happening over on the table behind me...as reported to me by Barth Melius. Once sitting on over 300k...Lobster Boy was committing one mistake after another. His little 'grab a stack of grays' and stick em out against a raiser had now backfired on him twice. He was now sitting on only 70k, plenty to work with...but an amount I was sure he would tilt right into someone elses stack.

And when we got down to 21 players...three from the money, guess who hit the bricks!?? You know it. That kind of made my day. A little bit later, we were in the money. Down to 18.

What's kind of interesting is how I got into this Main Event in the first place. The previous day, I was only able to play in one tourney to get into the Main. It was satellite day, but the Tournament of Champions was being played at 6pm. It was situated just perfect (sarcasm), so that I couldn't play the Mega at 4 or the one at 8. So here we have 67 qualifiers...and 45 people showed up. Typically in a freeroll, all the stacks that have been 'earned' stay in play until they blind out. And when I asked the floor guy in Level 3 if that was the case...I was told 'yes' that is the case. Awesome...since we only had 4 players on our table. But then, not even five minutes later, the TD makes an announcement that 'all dead stacks will be picked up off the tables at the end of the level.' Huh?

I ask the floor guy why they said they weren't and now they are? The reason I got? "I don't feel like making my dealers sit here and deal to a dead stack for the whole tourney." Hmmm. I didn't even know how to respond.

This was on the heels of the previous day...when I had bought into a very lightly attended $340 satellite...with only 24 players. There were two tables of 10 players...then 4 of us just sitting there waiting to play. You need 5 players to start dealing. And there weren't a rash of players signing up. That and we were playing 20 minute levels and were already in level 3. I merely asked one question. 

"Is there a reason why you can't pull the 10-seat from both tables...making us 6 handed...so we can at least start playing?"

I was pretty much ignored. Then heard him telling another player he was going to do it anyway...but just wanted to see how pissed off I would get before he decided to do it. Wow. Well, the thing is...I didn't get pissed off, I just sat there seething, wondering why in the hell he was acting like this. I've known this floor person for years...have always liked him...and always thought he'd done a great job. It made no sense. And with my 'history' with Harrah's and the whole WSOP bunch...the last thing I was going to do was give them a reason to back me into another corner that takes me years to get out of. So I just sat there biting my tongue. 

Oh there was more. But I will get to that later. For now...I'm talking about how I managed to get into the Main Event. We would get down to 10 players in this Freeroll with 7 winning entry. With 10 left, I had the chiplead. But not a huge one. I kept raising with great hands...and the small stacks kept pushing all in with worse hands. I doubled up 4 small stacks...all but three times with the best hand. Then I was short. I pick up 99 and shove...which amounted to about 18 BB's and was more of a frustration shove than anything. The big blind snap calls me with 66. And guess what? He flops a six. Perfect. And I was out. I tried to go play the nightly. Too late. I tried to play a sit n go....none running. None! Great. 

The move seemed to be getting in my car and driving home and calling it a day. But...for some reason, I decided to go play cash game. I sat down at a 1/2 game with $300. Over the course of the first three hours...the most interesting thing that happened was trying to guess who was going to win...the 'YES' I can use my iPad at the table or the 'NO' I can NOT use my iPad at the table votes. We had a plump little bitch of a dealer who had a runny nose...guessing she was sick and irritable, but for some reason, the center of her universe seemed to revolve around putting an end to me being able to escape into my own little world of watching 'Friday Night Lights' and not having to listen to the annoying, tedious conversation at the table. 

She starts with..."Ya know, I don't think you can use that thing at the table." To which I respond..."Well, last night it was deemed acceptable by your shift manager, so I am going to assume she knew what she was talking about." Well, that wasn't good enough for her. She then points to two floor people standing a few feet away and literally tells me that "those two guys right there just told me that you can't use it." Really? How did we miss them coming up and telling you that? So I get up from the table...walk over to them, very politely explain the conversation I just had with the dealer, and ask them if they told her that, and if so...why, since I was just told the night before that I could. Well, much to my surprise...they told me they had no idea what I was talking about. The dealer had simply lied to me.

Well...this went on for about another hour. The final vote ended up being 4 votes for YES I can use my iPad to 3 votes against. The final vote was the Shift Manager. I guess that made it official. Never...in any poker room...have I seen such inconsistency and ridiculousness. And these dealers? It's like...wouldn't you think they would be bending over backwards to help their players? Instead of fighting them on everything? It makes no sense. But then...you know something? (another Monkey Analogy coming) When you spend two or three days in an insane asylum, you can't believe the shit you are experiencing. You think it can't possibly be real. Like you are being 'Punked.' But then...magically...after the fourth...fifth...and sixth days pass, its kind of funny. Everything starts seeming pretty normal. By the second week...you aren't sure why you ever thought the place was weird. Then when newbies show up...you just giggle at them, making fun of their inability to fit in. Ya get where I'm going here? If you don't...you are a moron. If you do...then I don't even need to spell it out for you.

So...I sat there watching my TV show...which by the way..is without a doubt one of the best TV programs I've ever watched...and which I am now in the middle of Season 4....with only 5 seasons made before it was cancelled. So I am about to be on TV tilt in about three days. While I was doing that, I was massacring the table. One guy in particular, from San Diego, and there for the bowl game...was nice enough to ship me his stack three times. Once, and this was the funniest, I had raised to 17 with QQ...to which five people called, of course. The flop was a very convenient Q-2-2. He checked to me...and like I often like to do when I flop the nuts, led out...this time for 35. I got one call from the button. And he calls. Hmmm. If someone has quad deuces, its just not my day. The turn is a 6. He bets out 75. Huh? Okay, I call. The other guy folds. The river was....pffft, I don't know...maybe a 4? He bets 100. Well, now I raise...and put him all in for his other 75. HE CALLS! And turns over Ace high. A7 specifically. No shit. It was like a little chip fairy had flown down and decided that I was going to play the Main Event the next day.

Yeah....see this stack? That is what I had at the apex of my 'sickest run ever' in a piddly 1/2 game. Those bottom stacks are 100's...oh why am I telling you guys. We both know that ONE of you is going to add up every single chip and leave some comment. At some point I had around 2150. All signs were pointing to 'GET UP AND LEAVE, MONKEY!' I even posted on Facebook my current status and let my buddies on there try to guide me to a decision.

Then our table breaks. They send me to a table that looks very fishy...and by fishy, I mean...filled with fish. So I fight the urge to do the right thing. I sit. I play. I lose...not bad...but slowly...over a two hour period...and when I got down to $1770...decided to get up and GO!

I got a hotel at the Ambassador, compliments of Gene D...who was cool enough to hook it up for me. A room, on a Friday night, in New Orleans...with a bowl game in town...for $77? Wow. And you know what? The room was actually pretty decent. Had a very New Orleans flavor to it, high ceilings, wood floors, french doors. It was really quite quaint and charming. And I enjoyed the 5 hours of sleep I got. Know what I didn't enjoy? Starting at 1pm....playing until an ungodly 3am...then being ordered back the next day at noon! Yeah. Noon!

Early in Day 1...well, not THAT early I guess, it was 20 minutes before the dinner break, actually. I had gotten very careful about how I was folding to avoid the dreaded penalty for exposing a card. One good way to do it, was putting both hands on top of my cards...and slowly pushing them to the middle, lifting up my hand...and pulling it back. Ahhh...good strategy, unless however...the room in which you are playing in is very hot and humid. Then your hands get clammy, even sticky. This is what happened. And I had even asked if they could call engineering and ask them to turn on the AC. Something we had already done three times earlier in the week. Always about the same time too. 

Well, I go to fold...and when I lifted my hand off of my cards, one of them stuck to my hand and came back with me, flipping over. And then of course your natural reflex is to hurry up and flip it back over. And you can see all the other players getting that look on their face. The 'oh shit, not this again...no...no...dealer just muck the damn card.' I mean...we are all experienced players here, we all paid $1600 to play this fucking event. It's a damn accident. Let it go. But nope. She just sat there...then calls floor. And boom! I was on a damn one-round penalty. And I did go a little nuts...not bad, just expressing how stupid I think they are being about the rule, over managing the shit out of it. Using zero judgement, no discretion whatsoever. But the one good thing about it...was that I got to head down to Rock N Saki and get Barth and I a table and put our order in so we wouldn't be late going back.

On our 3rd visit of the week, the gang was starting to know us...and when we ordered a Dragon Roll, presented us with this awesome presentation. One of my Facebook friends said it looked to him like Bart Simpson on his back wrapped in a green blanket. Hilarious!

So we had a great dinner again...between that place and Grand Isle, me and Barth had some awesome meals that week. Its hard to find someone who likes oysters as much as I do...but I guess I met that guy. We sat at the oyster bar one night and wolfed down about 3 dozen oysters each, of all difference styles. And the service we got from the dude who did all the shucking was great. If you ever hit that place, I strongly recommend sitting at the oyster bar to eat. 

Yeah, so anyway. Here was the one that left me deciding that I was going to make a very painful decision. The decision not to tip after I cashed (if I cashed) in the Main Event. Barth and I were talking about it over dinner...and he literally said "Man...what they did is fucked up...and I'm going to tell you, if they pull that shit on me when we are down to like 3 tables? I am going to raise holy hell!!!" So...guess what happens?

I have 45,000 chips. Each round is now costing 6500...or 15% of my stack. I am needing a big hand pretty soon...badly. We are down to 22 players. I am under the gun...and I get A3h. Geez. One of 'those' spots. Bad position. But getting low. Have a decent table image. Might be able to squeeze out a round of blinds and antes here...which would help a lot. But if someone re-raises I can't call...and there goes 7000 of my stack. Damn. So I am going to fold...and pull my hand back to think about it, but as I pull it back, the ace kind of catches an edge and kicks back into my hand...I quickly grab it and flip it back over...then just decide to quickly fold. But again...the dealer pauses. Everyone at the table is just encouraging him to kill the card...to let it go. But he doesn't. He summons the floor guy. And I just cringe. And then get stuck in a one-round penalty. Costing me 15% of my stack. Now I was fuming. I walked over to one of the booths and just sat there. Several of the players came over to console me, which was actually very cool of them.

When I finally got back to the table, Eric Cloutier was going off on them about it...and suggested all 9 of us at the table expose a card at the same time...which, I guess if they were following the rules, would put all of us in a one-round penalty...which would result in no one losing any chips for ten hands. They (the floor) didn't find that very funny...telling us they didn't allow collusion. It did make me feel better that the players were kind of acting out on my behalf. I would win a pot of about 55k to get over 100k and didn't have to sweat making the money. But I was now pretty firm in my decision not to leave a damn penny at the tip out desk. Oh...well, that and being told that 'maybe if I would be more careful I wouldn't have to worry about getting a penalty.' That was like a fucking dart hitting me in the eye. In his defense, that particular floor person DID actually apologize for making that comment to me...which I did appreciate. But as far as I was concerned, the damage had been done.

I ended up making a post on Facebook about the penalty, and how it was making me question my intent to tip...and that was after the FIRST penalty the day before. The comments blew up. There were something like 85-90 comments...and half of them were like college essays. You had those who were taking up for the dealers. You had those who, as players...were supporting their position on not ever tipping. You had some torn and somewhat supportive of both sides. If you are a Facebook friend of mine, you may have read it...it got really nasty for awhile.

This is a very difficult topic for me...mainly due to two factors. (1) I grew up in the food and beverage industry...and supported myself for a lot of years on the tips I was able to earn from people I provided a service to. (2) I have played professional poker now for 7 years...and have made a lot of friends on both sides of the felt. I never want to see anyone taken advantage of, mistreated, or screwed over. There is a lot of good things about poker and how it is run. And there is an equal amount of bad things. I guess at some point...it becomes a bit like religion or politics. It comes down to your point of view, and what you believe in. And no one can convince you otherwise. I don't know if this is a good thing, or a bad thing. It's just kind of a painful reality. You are never going to convince everyone to line up on the same side of any issue. So what do you do? I'm not sure. Try to walk a thin line between two sides of all issues? Easier said than done.

Fast forward to my demise. 16 players are left. The money goes up at 15. I have 5 guys at my table that know me and know me well. Dan Schmeich is one of them. He is on my right. The blinds are 2k/4k and he raises to 12,500 on the button. I look down at AJ. I know Dan likes to play the button pretty hard. So I am fairly confident that I am way ahead. I have 105k. Which I think is too much to shove all in. In fact, I think all in just looks weak sometimes. To me...when a solid player re-raises about three times my raise, unless I have a top 5 hand...I am folding, and doing it pretty quick.

Well, that is precisely what I do. I re-raise. To 42,500. Or just about half my stack. Now, if Dan has a ton of chips...and by a ton, I mean like 250k or more, I can see flatting that raise to see a flop. But with 135k...the only thing I can really see him doing is either (a) insta-folding or (b) shoving all in while making a move and hoping it works out. Hoping I was three betting with trash, and can be forced still to fold. Of course, I would never have folded to his shove there...and he would have just gotten lucky, and I could have lived with him making a move and getting lucky. 

But what he actually did...was shocking. He smooth calls. Barth was sitting in the 9 seat and we both exchanged a similar look...one that said..."what the fuck!??" I was pretty much determined to ship all in on any flop...which is what I did when it came 10-7-2. Well, he calls...and turns over 9-10. Jeezuz effing......no way! Well, at least I still had two overs...right? Fuck that.....10 on the turn. Drawing dead. Game over. 16th place. Dammit. Went, got paid...left nothing...and played cash game while I waited on Barth.

He busted 11th. We went to his Christmas party at one of his bars that night...joined by BJ McBrayer...who had busted just shy of the money...when he took a stand against the constantly shoving Eric Cloutier...with 88. Eric had A7. He rivers a four card flush. I was bummed for BJ. Luckily, we had a really good time that night. And to top it off...Barth surprises me by telling me that 2 tickets had mysteriously appeared for the BCS game and that Cheryl and I were welcome to have them...for face value!!!! That became Squirrel's Christmas present...and don't think she wasn't thrilled to find that out. Section 111...which is at about the 5 or 10 yard line...and is behind the Alabama bench. You kidding me!??? So, I had to go and buy a ticket for a flight from LA to New Orleans the night of the 8th...go to the game on the 9th, hop back on a plane at 6am on the 10th...and be back in LA in time to play the Main Event at the Bike on that same day. I think it goes without saying that I really REALLY hope Alabama wins that game!!!

Okay...that's my Main Event story. Sorry I got so behind. To those who care. And I'm sorry if this blog just got really long. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!


Friday, December 16, 2011

FRIDAY...and time to lock up a seat!

My question, obviously, is..."Will anyone show up for this $1600 Main Event?" I decided I didn't want to sit and take a bunch of shots at the Mega...not at $340 a pop. I mean, I would almost rather just buy in. Unless, of course...if I show up and there is like 40 players, in which case I would probably just say 'screw it' and close down shop for 2011.

The last two days has been pretty annoying. In the $350 on Wednesday, I was cruising all day long. Literally never was below 20 BB's once. We only had a turnout of 86 players. So when we got down to 18, paying 9...and I had 45k...I was feeling pretty good. I had a table with 3 good players, 4 complete donkeys, and 2 somewhere in between. And wouldn't you know...I would manage to find the ONE donkey to destroy my day. As would Kai...who was sitting at my table and went from 60k when I arrived at his table to 14k by dinner break when he couldn't get this fool to fold A2 to a preflop re-raise.

Well, at 600/1200...bozo, who incidentally has the last name of Stoner (appropriate) raises to 3500. I look down at AK in the SB...and I make it 10,500 to go. Now...In my tournament existence, I would say that when I make that play...there is almost ALWAYS (and by always I mean 99.9% of the time) one of two responses. They either fold, or they shove. But smooth call? Very rare. But this clown does just that...and that always creates a huge 'situation' post flop. Flop comes J-10-5. I have a gut shot and a back door flush draw...and 24k in the pot. I am not surrendering this one to the guy. If I check I know what he's going to do. I bet out 18k. He goes all in. And then says "You probably have me." Huh? Not likely fool. I can't fold....I'm getting a stupid price to fold. And when I see his AJoff I want to puke.

I, of course, didn't improve, and just like that was out 17th. And yeah, I did have a few choice words for him. I don't mind losing, and I certainly don't mind being outplayed. But losing like THAT...to one of THOSE? Just pisses me off. And to make it worse, there was no other tourney to play, no SNG's being played...and you just come away with that annoying feeling of just having driven 170 miles round trip, 3 hours, $40 in gas....and played 10 hours...just so you could go home -$350 and having lost to the idiot. Again. He told me 'I was putting you on a small pair!' Uh huh. Okay genius.

When I returned yesterday, I noticed he had made the final table. No shock there...since he only needed to fade 6 more players after I lost. Cameron Ainsworth also made it, and was easily the ONLY...and by only, I mean O-N-L-Y decent player at that final table. I walked up there to say hi to him...noticed he was about average in chips...and whispered in his ear:

"It is clear to see you are the best player at this final table...so much so that I fully expect you to be the 9th place finisher. Maybe 8th if you get lucky!"

Guess what? He finished 9th. Whoa. Didn't exactly mean to put the Kaibosh on him...but well, I did call my shot. Who finished 8th? Mr. Stoner. Who by the way was in violation of my policy that calls for all men who are at least 30 pounds over weight to stop tucking their shirt into their pants. Well in his case, he was sporting a polo shirt...and had it tucked into SWEAT pants! Sexy look. Nice! How does any woman say no to that? He looked about 8 or 9 months pregnant. Solid.

So how was yesterday going? Not so great. In my first purchase, I would pick up JJ...raise, get re-raised by Andrew Becker....convince myself he had AK...on a ten high flop, and go broke when he produced two aces. Whoops. Get up. Go rebuy. Play for awhile...run fairly good, had a pretty soft table...things were looking up. Then on a hand where 6 people limped for 800...I checked A7 in the big blind. The flop comes 4-2-7 and I check with the intention of check-raising. It checks to the button, and I figure the guy is just trying to take down the pot with a bet of 2700. So I ship all in for 12k and change. He almost folds...but calls, and rolls over two JJ's. Oh. Shit. Nice hand sir. Can't be upset with that one. Just have to leave.

So I was too late for the 5pm tourney...which was PLO anyway. But got into a SNG right about the same time the 6pm Mega was starting. I just wanted to finally say I've played a SNG on this trip. So I plunked down my $125 and tried to start a last longer. Yeah...you know, that thing that happens on about 576 of the 600 SNG's I play a year? Only problem? These guys were looking back at me like I had turned into a fucking frog. Ribbit? Three of them asked me to explain what a last longer means. Oh my gawd. I really have died and woken up in hell, haven't I? No one wanted to do it. Perfect. 

After watching a number of stupid plays...and the guy in the 6 seat continue to play chip suicide with his stack so he could either get lucky and chip up...or get busted and get to his seat in the 6pm Mega...I pick up 10-10 utg. I decide to limp with the intent to raise if someone does it for me. Oh it gets done. A guy makes it 150, gets two calls...and Mr. I Want To Run Over this SNG or Get the Fuck Out of Here makes it 450. I shove all in for 1500. The 3rd guy who called the 150...sits there doing this very weird squinting and blinking...and I start to wonder if its a human or a fucked up robot. I'm just waiting for him to fold...I mean...if he had such a great hand, would he have just flatted the 150? Oh wait. He calls! Weird. Mr. 450 also calls. He turns over AK. The other guy flips over AQ. You know that King is going to hit the flop. Of course it did. And I was out.

Off to the $340 Mega. Things started slow. Lost a lot, won a little and was down to 3500...then caught fire. My table was soft...and everything was working. Then the 27 players made it to 10...I was the chipleader...and it was paying 4 seats, with 5th getting $1100. Guess where I finished? TENTH! Yeah! I literally double up FOUR shortstacks...all but once having the best hand...then got it in with 99, running into 66 and having him flop a 6. And I was gone. Just like that. Holy crap. 

No sit n go's to play. No more tourneys. I decided to go try and recoup my losses in cash game. Things started very well. Bought in for $500 and had it up to about $1200...then a succession of bad rivers had me back down at $700. I floundered for awhile...then had a war-of-words with this small-handed elf-like moron sitting in the 2-seat who seemed all excited to be sitting next to 'Mr Monkey' and being able to rattle my cage. Only problem was, he was one of those tools who you couldn't really take seriously. But I had one semi-amazing 5-minute rant where buried him verbally, and had most of the table laughing pretty hard. I shoot. I score. Then put my headphones back on and returned to watching my new favorite show on NetFlix 'Friday Night Lights.' I am currently on episode 12 of Season 2...with plenty more still to go.

As for crybaby? I sat and watched him and his buddy, who I am pretty positive he was colluding with, both lose all of their chips. Why is it that the most pathetic of the pathetic losers seem to play cash game? Another reason I'm not so fond of cash game. I got up around 2:30...walked to my car and drove home again.

So...I am planning on doing something...but not today, because as I look at the clock, and realize that I slept in til 3pm today...I have to get ready and get over to NOLA for the Tournament of Champions freeroll, which is supposed to be awarding 6 seats into the Main Event tomorrow. It starts at 6pm. You only needed to make a final table with 70 or more players in the event....to qualify. And since I got 2nd the other day, I'm in. Interested to see how many actually show up. Hopefully 7! 

Oh but what am I doing? Yeah, sorry...I will be doing my COLLEGE BOWL predictions...picking every game. That coincides with my 15th Annual Bowl Pool...which starts tomorrow! We already have close to 100 players and always get a late rush near kickoff of the first game.

I reckon if I lost by 8pm in the TOC...I may have to play the 8pm $340 Mega. If I lose that...I might just have to skip this Main Event altogether. We'll see how it goes.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

AND....its a.....

Time to start getting used to having a LOT of PINK all over the place!!!!

On or around April 26th, we will be welcoming to our world, what is ALREADY the most spoiled little girl I have ever known! We are still batting around names...so I regret to inform that there is no decision there. My mother, who has been INSISTING now for weeks that we were going to have a girl, has proven to be prophetic. I think we can call it wishful thinking...since she has FIVE grandsons between my brother and sister.

Cheryl's mom is also elated...as her son has three little boys as well. I really didn't have a preference. I just want with all my heart and soul to have a healthy child. Well, that...and I hope it looks a lot more like Squirrel and a lot less like Monkey!!! Especially NOW...that we know it's a girl! So the avalanche of gifts from friends and family has already begun...and I have to admit...the thought of a little baby girl crawling around the house in each outfit is giving me goosebumps.

Sorry to keep y'all waiting in suspense. To those of you (and I was surprised how many there were) who have come up to me in New Orleans this week asking me what we were having...I apologize for it taking a WEEK! I just got busy with the event in New Orleans...and with lack of sleep and all, just hadn't had time to post. But thanks everyone for your well wishes and prayers for a safe delivery. We are both feeling blessed to have so many wonderful, thoughtful people in our lives.

Now then...on to other stuff, like...TA-DA! Poker! First event...198 players showed up...which has been the largest field so far. Buy was $350. Everything went well most of the day. Made the money, and bagged up the 5th smallest stack out of 17. Drove home...slept 4 hours...and drove back, to return at 2pm. On the fourth hand...a guy raised in early position to 10k. A guy who I had already seen over-shove all in three previous times in the tourney with AK and/or AQ did again...this time for 85k. I had to assume he had AK...then I looked down at QQ. Those queens again. With only 6 more rounds before I blinded out...I didn't have much of a choice. I shoved. First guy folded. And I was up against...like I thought, AK. Everything was great on the flop...clean on the turn...and I started thinking about having 150k and being right back into contention for the $15k first prize.

But then the damn king hit the river...a handful of groans were heard. I got that typical feeling you get in your gut when that happens, and I slowly pushed back away from the table...and sauntered over to get my $731 payout. Two days and 14 hours to earn what I could have made in a 1.5hr SNG. Hate that.

But I was out early enough to get into the $560...which had attracted, I believe 115 players. I ended up getting really lucky on the last hand before the 1st break. This guy at the table...I had also had him at the table in the previous tourney...was real aggressive, liked to do a lot of 3-betting in late position. He also has this really annoying way of plopping down his bets.

He's one of those guys who puts his bets out in two motions. Know what I mean. Holds the first half in one side of the hand...and the other half in the other side of his hand...and goes....boom, boom (not the sound...just the action) with his bet. Well, anyway...I hate it. It's super annoying. So with the BB sitting out, having already left for break...I pick up KJs and decide to raise. Well it folds around to this guy on the button and he does his double-barreled re-raise move, taking my raise of 350 up to 850.

I stubbornly decide that I'm tired of this guy...and that he's just making a move because he thinks I'm trying to pick off the dead money in the big blind...so I quickly grab all my chips except my 425 in greens, and re-raise. Only problem, he thought I was all in...and says "Call" and turns his hand over. AA. Whoops. Well, that created a 'situation' that we all know the outcome of. (one round penalty for the guy after the hand) As the last hand before break...if I missed the flop I probably would be inclined to fold. Problem is, 425 isn't too many chips to come back from break with...and they offer re-entries up to the break. So just dumping the last 425 so I could walk out and re-enter was obviously an option. But having to cake off another $560 also wasn't looking very attractive, either.

Well...that all went by the wayside when the flop came out J-10-J. Whoa! Put my last few chips in there...and I had my lucky double up to 22k. Wow. I don't see that happen very often! To me, anyway!

So...my tourney life was good. For awhile. Then 'HE' showed up. And this is where it gets interesting. Some of you remember my little flair up with Chalmette's own Danny Dorsey, who thought it was cool to stiff me $200 on a fantasy league, then concocting some lame ass story about his 'girlfriend changing the password on his Yahoo account, hence locking him out of his team.' What wasn't mentioned was that it happened after he'd fallen out of contention already. So after telling me he would get the money to me...he conveniently blew it off, and guess who had to pony up the loot on his behalf? Yeah. Yours truly. And then a little blog blazing of Danny ensued on my little corner of the world here. It was entertaining to some, I guess..and made for good ratings that month!  :)

Well, arriving at our table was who I THOUGHT....was Mr. Dorsey. I didn't learn until later (two days later) that this person was, in fact...not Danny...but a guy named Pike. A guy who looked just LIKE Danny. Weird. And shockingly, he talked like him and acted like him too. This guy overplayed everything, raised with anything, called with shit...only to get lucky and suck out over and over again. He went from about 75k down to 10 BB's with a couple of hair brained plays, then magically rebuilt it back up to about 50k.

I think we were down to about 35 players. The blinds were 400/800, maybe 500/1000...not positive. But a guy UTG+1 goes all in for 5450. The button calls. And this guy Pike calls. I look down at AKd. I see close to 20k in the pot. I have 22k total. Hmmm. I think the proper play here is to ship. So I ship. The guy on the button folds. And as Pike is tanking this original shover is telling me I don't like him...that he made a really shitty play against me in the past...and that I blogged about him. Added that "if I win with this hand you are REALLY gonna be pissed." Hmmm..that prompted me to wonder to myself..."If this guy has such a shitty hand, why the fuck did he decide to ship here, and now..in that position?" Well, as it turns out...he did make a stupid fucking play. He was shipping with J7. And yeah...the blinds were 400/800 come to think of it...cuz later when he came to me and asked me "what was I SUPPOSED to do with only 7 big blinds" my answer to him was that I would most likely be able to find a lot better spot, or situation to move in than to do it there, with J7 off suit. It was, in a word, RIDICULOUS.

So meanwhile, back to the Piker. He was in the middle of his swamp-donk theatrical speech, contemplating whether or not to make YET another stupid ass call...ah hell, it was only another 16,500 to call, or 1/3rd of his stack, for those scoring at home. Finally he announces "Shit...only cuz I don't like you Monkey.....I call" and turns over 6-7. So okay, I am up against 67 and J7 to get to over 60k. I like my chances. And wow does this guy stink up a poker table with his awful play.


I did not say a freaking word. Just left. Can't beat stupid. Can't kill it, maim it, or even affect it. It just can't be defeated. Stupid ended up finishing 6th in the tourney.

I went, then and played the 5pm tourney. For $240. I would end up getting it all in with 77 vs. 66. That guy wouldn't hit a six. Nope. Just four hearts. Peace out.

Then I went and played the nightly. Once again...good start followed by calamitous finish. We had now achieved the vaunted 'Hat Trick' of poker...having played and lost all three in the daily lineup. My winnings from earlier had been exhausted.

Then I galloped off to the cash room. Why? Because there weren't any SNG's being run. As a matter of fact...there have been very FEW SNG's all week. As most of you know, there was very little advertising done for this event. Why? No idea. I was told it was 'budget related.' The cost to place your event in Cardplayer.com...which is kind of the first thing any tournament does...is FREE. As of this writing, the event is still not listed there.

My buddy, Barth Melius, who is known to a lot of people around New Orleans..and who owns three bars/restaurants in town...has been especially critical of how this event has been run. 

See anything back there you have EVER seen on ANY bar's 'backbar' in your whole life? Oh! I think I do see Seagram's 7! That would be THE top of that shelf!!!!
It all started with asking for a Red Bull on the first day and getting one, no problem. Free of charge. But then the next day, it was $5. Huh? Then we received an explanation from the waitress, who told us, because the poker tourney was given no budget for the event...it was only going to be offering the players the worst of the worst as far as liquor choices. Most of the beer is free, but Corona and a few of the other imports are all $5. I find this, as does almost everyone else, to be almost comical. I mean...this is a simple business model. You spend a little money to advertise, and your player field increases by 35-50%. You are taking a hefty tournament fee already, for the casino. So with all that added 'juice' you just might be able to offer the players the same beverage service they have come to realize from Harrah's New Orleans the past 5-10 years.

That's Barth...who is about to pay $5 for a Red Bull...for the first time ever since coming to Harrah's, and not feeling very happy about it. Fortunately, the bartender had a great attitude and was being a good sport about it.

Its kind of been the talk of the event. Personally, I don't really care that much. Honestly. I haven't been drinking all that much...and now, when I do...its beer. I've started drinking Michelob Ultra. Those are free. And I tip the same. I mostly feel for the other players who have been bitching about it non-stop. And I cannot understand for one second, how a guy can have a Seven-Star card with Harrah's (the TOP tier of player's card available) and STILL be required to pay the $5 for a damn Red Bull. Are they serious?

So...where was I? Oh yeah, I just left the tourney room after pulling the inglorious hat trick. Decide I'm going to go play some cash game. I walk to the desk and ask for a 1/2 table. He points me to a table. I sit down. Look at the stacks. Lot of green chips. "Is this 1/2?" Nope. 2/5. Sigh. Go back to the desk. Tell him that was a 1/2 table. "Oh, sorry!" He asks if a table in back has a seat. Dealer raises her hand. He sends me there. I go, I sit...and again notice abundance of green chips, and typical 2/5 players. "Is this 1/2 or 2/5?" Yup. 2/5. Go back..again, to the desk. Tell him the deal. He tries to tell me he sent me to the table next to it. Uh huh. Right. So the dealer who raised her hand....whatever. I go to the third table. Ahoy. 1/2.

It took about 20 minutes before 'The Incident' occurred. One that caused me to report it to the Poker Room manager the following day. And given my reputation, in the midst of this incident, I had to dig down deep for the patience required to not lose my effing mind.

I decide to put my mark on the table early...and fire in a 4-bet behind a straddle and a raise. I had a pretty shitty hand. I get called four ways. I completely miss the flop. It checks to me. I bet big. I get one caller, and another guy goes all in for less. Awesome. Now I've really dug a hole. Shit. One more chance...get this other guys money in a side pot. So on the turn I fire in 150...which is what he has left. He calls. Ugh. Now what? The river gives me absolutely nothing. The guy Im in the side pot with...he is pretty drunk, and quite possibly has a screw loose...no one has turned their hand over yet. The one guy...who is all in, turns over a hand good enough to win...and the other guy mucks his hand. FOLDS IT. Face down! 

So...what does this mean boys and girls? Say it after me...real slow.  Monkey.....wins....the....side....pot. Right? That's the deal, huh? Right? Well hold on a second. The dealer...he decides to halt the action. He takes the guys folded hand...and pushes it back to him!

"Dude! What are you doing??? Why are you pushing him his hand back! He folded man...that is a muck!!!!"

"No, his hand isn't dead...y'all are all in and all the hands have to be turned up."

Oh my god. What planet am I on!??? Does this guy think we are in a tournament? He calls the floor. And here comes Mr. Anderson, late night poker supervisor. And when he arrives I try to explain what is going on and he orders me to 'CHILL OUT' and let the dealer explain the situation to him. Now this is fairly common, and in fact protocol. But as most of us players know from experience, there is also a propensity for the dealers to creatively change the way things went down when they repeat it back to the floor person. So, as players...we automatically try to plead our case before it can be falsely replayed by the dealer.

Why does the dealer do this? Well, I think its fairly obvious that a lot of dealers do this because they KNOW they screwed up and are petrified to tell the floor guy what REALLY happened because they are fearing that they might get in trouble. And that sucks. Because, hell...we all make mistakes. And I don't mind a guy making a mistake. But to go and LIE about something...and having it grossly affect the person who is sitting there tipping them all night, because they are scared of getting disciplined by their supervisor? That just pisses me off. So...pretty sure you can predict what happened.

The dealer explains what happened. And of course, he explains it wrong. But the one thing he does admit, is that the guy threw in his cards. But does the floor guy then immediately do what 97.5% of all the other floor guys out there would do...and rule his hand dead, and award me the $300 side pot? Nope! He ordered the guys cards to be turned over. And his pair of 8's were good to beat my hand. I almost lost my mind. I asked about three times if this was really happening. If I was really witnessing this. And then he says:

"Hey...why don't you say it ONE MORE TIME...and see what happens!!!???" Huh? Oh...he is threatening me now. What? I ask him if this is REALLY his decision one more time and he's gonna what? TOSS ME? For asking why he is making a decision that just cost me $300...when he couldn't be any more wrong? Holy shit. Well, it got better...before he returned to the front desk, he turns to me and throws me this gem:

"Hey Monkey...why don't you go blog about THIS one!!!"

Wow. I just sat there, stunned. And yeah...I told the poker room manager about it the next day. And he acted like he was upset about it. But when I asked him about it yesterday, I came away feeling like nothing was done about it whatsoever. In fact...what he told me was that when it was discussed, Mr. Anderson laughed about it. Oh...yeah. Pretty fucking hilarious eh? Well...I sat there for about another hour...and finally got fed up with being there, and left.

But where did I leave to? I decided to do something I rarely do. I decided to go play blackjack. Maybe a hat trick and a bad cash session had something to do with it. Well, in New Orleans, there is no such thing as a $5 or $10 blackjack table. And when I play blackjack..which isn't very often...I like to chill at a $10 table. Not available. So its $25. I plop $500 on the table. And within an hour I was up to $2400. Hmmm. I was almost having fun. Know what didn't happen? Not once did a floor person ask for my player's card. Or a dealer. And I'm making a lot of bets between $25-$100. And in most casinos...you are, or should be...sitting there earning a LOT of comp points. But, not in New Orleans I guess. I don't know a lot about comp points, because I don't do a lot of gambling on the floor...but somehow I think I probably got hosed.

I finally got up when I managed to lose all but $600 of that $2400. Headed out to the parking lot. It was 6am. Damn. What to do, where to go. Drive home? Ugh. Find a hotel? Why? So I can check in...then have to check out in 5 hours? Screw it. Hotel Toyota time! Good news. The last time I slept in my car in New Orleans? It was in 2008. And that following day...I made the Final Table in the $550 event. So maybe lightning would strike twice. I was only hassled twice by the parking lot dude who rolls around in the golf cart trying to keep the parking lot from turning into a hotel. I told him an answer that was just good enough to buy me a few hours of sleep.

Time for a sidebar: Has anyone seen the feature on HBO...Bryan Gumbel's Real Sports...with Marcus Dixon of the New York Jets? It was an amazing story. Literally brought me to tears almost. If you get a chance, check it out. 

Bought Squirrel her own XBox to have in the bedroom so she can use it to watch NetFlix and Hulu. She's not a real gamer. She's likes to find herself a series of shows to watch...then watch all of them. Well, the one she found now is 'Friday Night Lights.' I think maybe I've seen 2 or 3 episodes in the past five years...not much. But now I've watched about 10 episodes in the last two nights. Never realized what a great show it is. 

Want to see some goooooooofy ass pictures of some gooooofy ass people? And what is almost better than the pictures...are some of the comments under the pictures! FUNNY FUNNY SHIT CLICK HERE!!!!

Okay. So...back to poker, because this one almost had a happy ending. After sleeping in my car...I ambled into the tourney room to play the 1pm tourney.  I'm not gonna lie, I don't remember much about the first 8 levels. What I do remember, is winning the first monster pot. A guy raised to 1500 utg when we were at 250/500. I looked down at JJ...hmmm, he had a lot of chips, and I've gotten into a lot of trouble when I re-raise with JJ against an early raiser, as a lot of players have, I'm sure. That and I had a lot of chips at the time...about three times the average, as did this guy. So I played it safe and flatted. Which led to FOUR other guys calling. There were a couple guys lurking behind me...and heard me say "Great...I don't see how in the world I'm going to win with this hand, now." And they saw my hand.

So when the flop came out J-10-10 I felt pretty decent. The original raiser (who had AK) led out for 3500. I simply called. Another player re-raises to 10,500. Folds back to AK guy, and he folds. I didn't have to go all in...had enough chips to re-raise...so I did, another 9k. I was pretty convinced he had A10. He goes all in, I call and tell him I hope he doesn't have quads. He asks if I have jacks. Yeah. He has A10. Huge pot. And that pretty much propelled me to the final table. Yeah..there were some big hands along the way...like the lady (super nice, always forget her name) who raised with JJ...I re-raised on the button with AA. She merely flatted, then went all in on a 7-high flop for about a 80k pot. 

We ended the night with 11 players. It paid 12. I didn't realize it but when we returned the next day, I saw on the sheet that I had the chip lead. Wow. That doesn't happen very often. Me? Chipleader? I'm usually the short stack who has to grind it out. But things could not have gone much smoother. I didn't lose very many hands. And never had less than average. First was only $7800 so I didn't see a lot of value in every chopping. 

Ricky Romero kept beating AK with AQ...twice making serious over-shoves against guys who re-raised his initial raise to an amount that should have told him AQ was crushed. But...well, everyone plays a little different I guess...so maybe in his mind, he convinced himself that these other guys had AJ. Or KQ. Meanwhile Andrew Becker, who was sitting on about 5-8 BB's for a long, long time played his shortstack amazingly, and almost pulled out the miracle comeback for the win. But he ran out of luck...and ended up losing to Ricky when we were three-handed.

Ricky and I got heads up and had about dead even stacks. He wanted to chop....and now, of course, I wish I had...we both would have walked with about $6500 each. Which was sure a lot better than $4800. I couldn't get anything going against him. He was calling all my raises...and then C-bets (most of which I had whiffed on) and then crushed the turn with a huge bet. It was getting very frustrating and I was quickly falling behind. I needed to turn the tide...or I was gonna be dead.

So I get pocket fives on the button. I raise. Ricky re-raises me. Jeezuz. I've decided that I am done folding. I re-raise him all in...and it was for a LOT. He snap calls, and I expect to see a pair over 10's and/or AK. But I see 88. Huh? Eights? Snap call all in for 250k with 88? Wow. Shit. Well...okay. Obviously I fail to hit a five...and I was the second place finisher. Oh well.

Barth, who had gotten knocked out 6th...when Ricky busted his AK with AQ...joined me for dinner at Grand Isle down the street and we ate a shit ton of oysters. It was a great meal. We finally decided we would go screw around and play the nightly tourney...which had started all the other nights at 8pm. So we walk in about 8:30 and the girl at registration tells us its closed. Huh? Closed? We walk in and discover that the nightly started at 7. What? They changed the start time from 8 to 7 during the week. Why? I've never been at a tourney where they did that. Can't imagine what the reason for that would be. Very odd. So yeah, we were shut out of playing the nightly. So we just went and goofed off for awhile, and I headed home to Biloxi.

Now...for the longest time now...it seems like every time I have a decent score, the following day is a complete shitstorm. A nightmare. A 'whatever can go wrong, will go wrong' day of wanting to kill myself the very next day. So I decided...I was absolutely, positively...NOT playing the next day. So today (Tuesday) I spent nearly the whole day in bed...sleeping on and off again. Took Cheryl to dinner when she wasn't needed at work, and have just been relaxing watching this show all night. Turns out they only got 56 players today in the 1pm tourney and then Barth called me and told me that they only had 7....yeah...>SEVEN!!! Players in the 5pm PLO tourney. Holy crap. That...is insane.

Well, I don't know what else to expect the rest of the week...but I guess I'm just going to go play and make the most of it. But hell, with a turnout under 60 players...you aren't even earning P.O.Y. points if you make the final table. Can't wait to see how many people show up for the $1500 Main Event. Could be scary. If these guys can't make the commitment to advertise their event, then I'm struggling to find a reason why they would even bother putting on the event in the first place. And to not utilize even the outlets who will list your event for FREE? The places where EVERY player looks to see what tourneys are out there to go play? That's just inexcusable. It kind of has the feel of a place that doesn't WANT anyone to show up. Is that even possible? Hell, I don't know. So much shit these days doesn't make any sense.

Oh...but there is ONE thing they have been VERY good at covering. The 'exposed card' rule. You are familiar with the rule where you aren't allowed to expose one card or two with action pending behind you. This rule is designed to protect the other players in the hand. And it makes sense. And its a good rule. So is the law against littering.

So one day, you're driving your 4Runner down the road, and a big huge piece of paper comes flying at you...and gets caught up in your brush guard...and won't come off. Then suddenly, the wind hits it just right and it comes flying off, blowing up over the top of your windshield...and over the top of your car. You watch it in your rear view mirror...and then you see the cop. No big deal. Wait. WTF? His lights just went on. Huh? Must be someone else he's going after. Nope. It's you. You look at your speedometer. 70. Speed limit? 70. What in the hell??? You pull over.

Guess what he is giving you a ticket for? Littering! You try to explain to him what happened. Nope. Not hearing it. He saw it come flying from YOUR car. That means it came from YOU. You are guilty of littering. You get a friggin ticket. And are so pissed off you want to smash your car into that son of a bitches cop car. But you don't because you know how stupid that would be. So you drive off cursing the guy.

So...we have the exposed card rule.  Think there is room for a little discretionary judgement on behalf of the dealers? Oh...well, in most casinos (and by most I mean EVERY casino except, apparently, Harrah's New Orleans) there certainly is. We sit there for hours sometimes...and see a LOT of hands. Every once in awhile, you finger might be sticky...and when folding, one might stick to your finger and get accidentally turned over. No harm no foul. Dealer lets everyone know what card has been exposed. That's your burn card.

Ever went to fold your hand...and had it collide with the dealer's hand, and flip over? It happens over the course of a tourney. Simple accident. Ever had a dealer deal out the cards...and on the last card, say you are sitting on the button, the dealer slides the card up your hand and onto your wrist, and it turns over? These are ALL examples of things that have happened this week which have resulted in players getting slapped with 10-hand penalties. More than the $5 for Red Bull and imports thing, this has been the #1 hot button issue this week.

What makes it worse, is that a couple of the floor guys who are making these 'zero tolerance, no excuses' rulings are guys who I have a great amount of respect for, who have worked at several other events, including the WSOP at Rio, and I can't believe they are making these calls. It's just bizarre. I have to assume that the home casino has been adamant with them about it. Why this has become the thing they decided to focus on, I have no idea. Has there been a rash of intentional card showing at their weekly tourneys there? And I'm telling you this having NOT received one of these penalties. Not even close. I haven't received a penalty for anything. But its just like a lot of things I've spoken about in the past that didn't have any effect on me. Some of them even got me in trouble. But if I'm going to get treated badly because I'm pointing out a few negative things...then I think that is more of a reflection on the ones who feel threatened by my voice (or keypad) than it is a reflection on me for trying to 'start trouble' or something.

Pretty sure all of you know that for years now I have been going out of my way to advocate for all sides of the game...not just for the players but also for the dealers and floor people. I just want poker to be a good game...for it to be fair, and for the rules to be uniform across the board. When one place starts running a rogue operation, making bad floor calls (sometimes intentionally because they have a BIAS against you!) and over-penalizing people for chippy rule infractions...then it really starts not becoming fun.

What else? Pools. My bowl pool starts in just 4 days. We have 50 signed up so far. And my BCS Board is exactly half full. Both cost $50. In my 12-team league for NBA fantasy...I have ONE more team available. $150 fee for that one. If you are interested in playing any or all of these...shoot me an email at ThePoolMonkey@aol.com.  
That's it for tonight! Gotta be over in Nola again tomorrow at 1pm. My current record for that 85 mile door-to-door drive is :58 minutes. Followed closely by my 1:04 the other day. Both excellent times! That new bridge over Lake Pontchartrain is a god send! Before that new bridge...I never made it over there in under 1:20.

Good Night.