Sunday, April 29, 2012

"Wow! I'm a Daddy!!!"

It was NOT intentional. Trust me. I last posted at 4am, on the morning that my daughter decided to show up and bless me and Squirrel with the greatest gift I've ever gotten in my life. I got a LOT of comments from you folks, some very, very nice sentiments, that truly touched me. And for those not on my Facebook, or Twitter, I guess I may have left you in the dark a little bit the past four days. For that, I apologize. I know some of you readers could probably care less about my private life, and that I'm having a baby. That's cool, I respect that. After all...my blog DOES appear on a poker website.

For those who come for the poker...fine. I have a tiny little bit. On Saturday I logged on and played in about 5 games on Lock Poker. I min cashed in one...and in the $10 Bounty tourney with 123 players...I won! That's two wins online in a week. Last week I won a $6.60 PLO tourney on there. Both wins were good for about $180. No big deal money-wise, but a win always feels good, no matter where it comes. Especially ONLINE...where I have always run pretty bad!

I will try not to get too much into the details...but when it was looking like we were going to get Carley late in the afternoon or maybe even in the evening...she suddenly decided she was ready to join us! First Cheryl's water broke. Then just a few hours later...on her 19th push (I was counting...I guess because I'm tremendously A.D.H.D. perhaps) Carley came flying out and into the Doctor's hand. WOW! I cut her cord...which we discovered was in a big knot! Not only that, it had wrapped itself around Carley's neck. Suffice to say...after discussing all this with our doctor, it was apparent that we had just received a bit of a miracle baby. So much could have gone wrong. And yet..it didn't. The look on Cheryl's face when she was handed Carley for the first time, is one I will never...as long as I live, forget.

Everyone said to prepare for the nasty, mean, evil things Squirrel would shout at me during delivery. Never happened. Everyone said I would get queasy watching the whole thing. Nope. Not even close. I stood (until my knees started to throb with pain...then I kneeled on my memory foam pillow) in amazement...watching the whole process with excitement. And did I cry when she was out and wrapped in her blanket? Not really. I think what made me tear up was watching Cheryl's face when Carley met her for the first time.

A steady stream of friends came to visit us in the hospital, mostly Cheryl's girlfriends. Okay...ALL Cheryl's girlfriends.

 None of my 'boys' decided to come by. I guess that's okay, and pretty normal. We got lots of flowers...we had meals delivered to us from Claudia, and Brandy Conway...and if I forgot anyone, I'm sorry. And on Friday morning...we finally got to leave. We were getting real tired of the tiny, cramped room they had us shoved into. I drove so slow and cautious on the way home...I got passed on the highway TWICE by OMRG's! Both at least in their 70's! How embarrassing!

Is anyone curious to know who won the Carley Grace Baby Pool? Well...the way it went down was amazing. The guy who won my March Madness Pool...for around $4500...and who I met playing poker a few years ago...ended up buying a spot late in the action...for the time slot of 12pm-1pm on Wednesday the 25th...and with Carley coming at 11:54am...he became the winner! So what does he do? And I hope he isn't mad at me for telling you all this...he turned around and donated his winnings to us. We were both speechless. So nice. Tim Thompson is his name...and he will be playing some tourneys in New Orleans in May...so if you happen upon him, know that he is a great guy...and maybe give him a 'walk' in his BB if he's in need!!!

The winners of 2nd and 3rd was interesting too. Brian Delatte had purchased two time slots at the last minute...back to back...which made him the winner of 2nd and 3rd place, and totally cutting off Matt Bannantine...who would have won 1st were it not for the late entries...and certainly 2nd and/or 3rd at worst. But in a very classy move, Brian decided to split the $450 with Matt...then went ahead and donated his $225 to Squirrel...to pick something nice up for Carley. Once again,  I was touched by the amazing kindness and generosity of people in our lives. I've been running sports pools now for about 15 years...and some of the greatest people I've met have come from those pools. I will never regret getting involved in the pools. Brian won my Master's Pool this year...and will also be playing the WSOP-C event in New Orleans. I look forward to seeing all of my poker/pool/Carley pals in NOLA next month!

So...what else? Carley shows up...and all my teams start winning! My Seattle Mariners...who had just been swept at home by the White Sox...including getting a perfect game thrown at them, suddenly got hot when she arrived, sweeping the Tigers in Detroit! And my NY Rangers...in a all-or-nothing Game 7 on Thursday night at home against Ottawa...beat he Senators, and advanced to Round 2 against Washington, who they beat in Game 1 yesterday! So we were undefeated..until yesterday...my Mariners finally lost to Toronto 7-0. Hey...I really didn't envision the Mariners winning out and finishing 152-10! But I do think she might be my lucky charm for the Rangers! I'm counting on Carley to deliver us a Stanley Cup in 2012!!!

Okay...well, I figured I owed you all a post today! I have lots to do around the house...and two dogs who are feeling a little bit ignored...since they haven't been allowed in the house since we got home. We are taking baby steps (no pun intended) with how we introduce the dogs to Carley. We did let them see her for a minute or so. I did something that I think proved to be a good idea. I took the towel Carley was wiped off with, and the blanket she was first wrapped in...and brought them home on Thursday afternoon, left them in their sleeping area...and to get the scent in their nose. As soon as they saw her....they both started sniffing like crazy, and I'm positive they knew what the deal was. 

Mollie is not used to not being able to sleep in our bed every night...and she is NOT happy with being outside every night. But I think she will be okay.
One of things I'm going to have to spend more time doing now is spending time with the dogs away from the baby. They love going to the beach...and we have been down there the last two Sundays. It's really hot today...and maybe after the temperature goes down a bit...I will take them down today and let them have some 'quality time' with me. Cheryl has taken to providing a special shirt...that before I go outside to pet them, throw them the ball or do anything else...I have to change into. Then I have to wash my face and hands (and change back into my 'normal' shirt) once I come back inside. Yeah...Squirrel is a wee bit paranoid. But I guess you can't blame her a bit. We went through a LOT to have this special package delivered...no sense in doing something stupid and screwing it up!!!

Okay...hope you all have a great Sunday!!!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

'Twas the Night Before Fatherhood....

Yep. The day has finally arrived. It's time for Squirrel and I to see just what we created after I got home from a disappointing WSOP last July. When I made that long drive home...I did a lot of soul searching. 

I might be biased...but I can't imagine a woman who is 9 1/2 months pregnant being any more beautiful than this. She has done a fantastic job with our daughter...way to go Squirrel! I love you!
As you all know by now, I have a tendency to open up to a lot of people on this blog. And by a lot...I don't know the exact number. I don't know how many 'super repeat' clickers I have...but when I see an average of 5500-6000 hits a month...I know that when I write personal stuff...that it might sometimes be getting viewed by those who (were I to know) I might not like thinking about having them in my personal business; or it being such a great thing. I keep re-reading that last sentence, and I think it sounds all screwy, but I can't think of a better way to re-write it...and I have a feeling you all (or most of you anyway) have a pretty good idea what I'm talking about. Ugh...moving on.

I can either be The Poker Monkey..and just talk about stuff that has to do with poker, or I can be the guy who really just likes writing in this blog because it allows me a place to express myself, to unload some pent up feelings. And occasionally I will have interactions with some of you will tell me stuff like "your blog really makes me feel not so screwed up" or "you know, I was about to kill myself, then I read your blog and thought 'wow, I really don't have it as bad as I thought I did." And ya know...if I can save just one person with my blog? Then hell...I guess it's worth it, huh?

Well, it is for reasons like those that I don't mind sitting down in this really uncomfortable chair/bed thing they think the husband is actually going to sleep on while laying here listening to my baby's heartbeat on this machine...and put what I'm feeling down on my blog/diary. I don't know how many haters I still have out there. I suspect the number has gone down somewhat as I've continued to mellow with age...kind of like a good bottle of wine, or fine aged cognac, or even a piece of petrified wood. I kind of think I have taken myself out of the 'firing line' the past couple years. But oh...I'm sure there are still some of you out there who wish I would spontaneously combust...and I guess that's okay. Pretty sure it's impossible to get EVERYONE to like you...well, unless of course you are my wife.

I feel myself getting sidetracked a lot. It happens. I think my mind has been racing 347 miles an hour for the last two days. I can't believe what is about to go down. Me...Will Souther...single til I was 42...without child for 45 years...a dog the one thing I've been responsible for all those years...am about to be a ...yikes...FATHER. Of what I can only HOPE TO GOD will be a gorgeous little girl with all her fingers and toes, arms and legs...two eyes and ears...and everything as normal as possible. I've read and listened to all the cliches the past nine months...about how much my life is going to change, about how she will be wrapped around my finger (or am I the one who will be wrapped around HER finger? That one confuses me) about how I have never really known love until I see my child for the first time...heard about how much I will cry in that first hour. Yep...I've heard it all. And for the past 24 hours...everyone keeps asking me "How do you feel? Are you scared? Nervous? Excited?

You know what I am? And it took me most of the day today to figure it out? I mean...I woke up today and all I wanted to do was errands...and fix stuff around the house. Cheryl was cleaning like a banshee...which she has been doing almost everyday now for a week. They say its the Mother going into her 'nesting phase.' Yeah...I'll say!!! Well...sometime around 5pm on Tuesday...it hit me. It's like that feeling you get right before you are about to step on the airplane and go skydiving for the first time. You are anxious. But a little scared. You are excited, but also a tad nervous. You know its something you can't wait to do. But at the same time you are doubting why you decided to do it. Right? You feel me?

But right now...as I lay here looking over there at Squirrel...deep asleep with the aid of the nurse's administered Ambien (hey! Where's mine!!!???)...and the gentle beating of Carley's heart beat in the background...all I can think about is what its going to feel like walking out of this hospital with this little girl in our arms. I will have created life! With the woman I have spent the last ten years with...who I met on that December day at the Beau Rivage...while playing blackjack..with my good buddy Jeff Giraldi from Atlanta. When those brown eyes looked at me, and that Southern accent asked me if I'd like anything to drink....wow! And now look at us. We are hours away from bringing a life into this world. It's amazing. And maybe its just NOW starting to really hit me. 

Driving home from Vegas last summer...with my friends Kai Landry, Allie Prescott, and Kyle Bowker...we made a lot of stops. It was good for me to travel in a group because I got to take my mind off how things ended up out there. But when I got home...it hit me. I knew I was depressed. I knew I was more or less sick of poker. And there are those times...and I have talked about it with other poker players...damn successful ones...where no amount of 'winning' every really changes your life. We tend to dwell on the losses...hard. I know I do. And when we do manage a win...it seems like we never get to fully enjoy it. Unless of course...its something over half a million. I think we can all find a way to enjoy a score like that! 

I think the key to enjoying anything is taking the time to actually enjoy it. When Kai, myself and Mark Rose chopped the Main Event at the Beau a few years ago...our family already had a week vacation planned that started right after that event. So that was literally the ONLY time I think I ever really, fully, enjoyed a win. Well...that and maybe the one on Halloween a few years ago at the IP because it marked the first time I ever flat out WON a tourney...a decent sized tourney...after a TON of 2nd place finishes. Yeah...that day felt good.

Anyway...not to once again get sidetracked...but this is actually going somewhere. So I get home...the depression really hit hard. That feeling of worthlessness set in. What am I? Who am I? What the hell contribution am I making to society? Some of you remember my little pilgrimages to North Mississippi and later to Tuscaloosa to help with the floods and the tornadoes. That was less about anything I could give to them...and more about what doing for them made me feel about myself. It's like...I needed that to make myself feel better about myself. And it worked. I know this might sound like bullshit...but believe me when I tell you this...were I ever to fall into more money than I knew what to do with? I would get the most amount of joy spending my last days on Earth looking...literally seeking out ways to bring joy and happiness to people who are suffering. I just don't really have that much use for large abundances of personal wealth. I don't. 

What would be nice? Would be just enough to assure yourself of never having to struggle. To never have to experience marital strife due to financial concerns. I mean...once you get a certain amount...what's the point? Now you're just keeping score with the others. Which is why the ultra rich make me sick. With the things they buy, how they choose to spend their money. It's offensive at times. There are a lot of rich people who I truly respect, who give lots of money to schools, and museums, to research facilities...those people are really my heroes. And I wish...I aspire...to be one of those people. It is literally my primary reason for living. To do something that after I die...people will be able to look at me and say "you know what? That guy right there....he really had a great life! He really did amazing things. The world is going to miss him. But at least he accomplished something while he was here."  Ask yourself: How many people can say that?

So yeah, I've once again gotten side tracked...and here we go...it's becoming another marathon blog...but you know what? This is my last night of being a 'kid.' Seriously. I've never 'felt' my age. When I was in my 20's I still felt like I did in High School. When I was in my 30's? Pfft...still felt 18! When I was 40? Hell, all my buddies were in their 20's...I sure didn't feel like the people my own age. But after tomorrow? Will a switch go off? Monkey! You are NOW a father! Grow up! Will I grow up? Do I really have to grow up? I mean...that much?

Let's get it back on course. So...yeah...last July, I was glum. Very, very glum. I didn't know what it was going to take to get me back to a place where I enjoyed waking up every morning. I mean...when your beautiful wife and your two dogs are the only thing bringing you ANY happiness whatsoever? You have got a problem. And I had a problem.

I used to coach little league for many years. And I was damn good at it. I have a weird ability to connect with kids. And that is so important when you are trying to coach them. I loved those times I had with those kids. And even now...no matter where I go...if I run into a kid under 12...its like they just gravitate to me like a magnet. We went to the beach on Sunday...and out of nowhere comes this little kid...named Julian, along with his adorable little friend Kaylen. They were both there with their moms...who were about 50 yards away. Well, they wanted me to play with them. So I did...and after missing every pitch I threw to him...I made a few adjustments to his stance and swing...and before I knew it, he was hitting bombs!

It was awesome! His Mom finally came over and pried him away from us...insisting that he was 'bothering' us. Then she saw that Squirrel was pregnant, and they talked about that of course. It was a nice moment, and one that reminded me how much I love coaching, and just spending time with kids. They are so innocent, you know? So unadulterated. Bottom line? They are cool. Society hasn't had a chance yet to completely fuck them up. No...that comes later on. And its really sad.

So...back to July (again!). Yeah. What can I do to get out of this funk?  I love my wife. I love kids. I'm 45. (44 then) What am I going to leave behind? What if I never win a big tourney? Am I just going to grind enough to keep playing for year after year after miserable year? How long before my wife leaves me and that terrible, frustrating life behind? And it hit me. I need a reason to live. I need a reason to wake up every day. I need something to drive me, to motivate and inspire me. And what could that possibly be?

A child. I wanted a child. I wanted something that would take the place of anything and everything that is considered 'important' in my boring, mundane life. And I knew it was time. Cheryl was almost 40. I couldn't possibly keep firing magic bullets forever, could I? Three years ago...we made the decision to try and start a family. I have literally TRIED only twice to get Cheryl pregnant in ten years. Both times...Yahtzee!  Well, three years ago...we succeeded, and were both SO excited, before tragedy took away our child on the day before the Super Bowl. That's one Super Bowl I will always remember in the worst way....Pittsburgh vs. Arizona. It took a lot of time to recover from that. Thirteen weeks of excitement, and well wishes...and just...well, you know the rest of that song and dance. And then it was just....gone. There was a big void in our life for a long time.

Then...I had a couple of really good years in poker. I wanted to buy us a house. And then try again to have a baby. So what happens? We get robbed. Yeah...all the money I had saved up, I had sitting in our house in a safe. Brilliant. And more or less, we got set up. And there went all of our plans...right down the tubes...all the way back to square one. Incidentally, I got a call from the new Assistant DA's office last Friday...at first I was nervous. You're always nervous when someone calls you from a courthouse.  Huh? OMG OMG...what did I do? Well, after 2 years and 4 months...they are finally bringing the two culprits to trial in Gulfport, in May. They wanted to know if my information was still the same...for the possible restitution hearing. Well, its nice that those scumbags are finally getting their day in court...but I know that any chance I have of getting any of that money back is slim to none. It really just kind of served as a reminder of how much they took away from us. But I guess we aren't supposed to dwell on that kind of shit, right?

So back in July, I decided it was time to 'drop the hammer' on Squirrel. I was never going to get her to agree to it. She is just too rational, and will always find a reason NOT to do something if the timing isn't right. Well...take a trip to Wal-Mart...then tell me the timing isn't right for having a child. Really? I'm sorry...but there is no such thing as bad timing to have a kid, as far as I'm concerned. So it was on. And a month or two later...she came into the kitchen holding one of those pregnancy sticks in her hand...and a caustic look on her face. It quickly turned to smiles, and tears...when she saw how genuinely elated I was. And the rest...as they say...is history! Well, I guess we are still in the process of making that history...but its been a whirlwind the last 8 months!

The amazing love and support we have gotten from our families, our friends, our co-workers and so many of you poker players out there...it just, I don't know...its just really shifted my whole way of looking at life the past three months. Yeah, I want to be successful in poker, sure. But its hit me just how truly unimportant poker is, and all the BS that goes on in and around poker. Hey...now? It's just a way for me to try to get in, get out...and make a fast buck. (or a million if things go right!) I try not to dwell so much over the bad beats and the long periods of 'run bad.' Why bother? It doesn't change anything. Oh sure, its fun to sit and rag on the donkeys and bemoan the amazing luck of the OMRG's at the table...take the occasional picture of someone for the pure entertainment value of it. Hell, I'm not COMPLETELY dead inside! I'm just saying that there are things way more important to me now than poker...and I would like to thank Squirrel and soon to be...Miss Carley Grace for opening my eyes to those things.

I think that is about all I have...if you made it this far...you are a real trooper! I appreciate all of you. I really do. Even you haters. Cuz if you care enough about me to read my blog...well, you might hate me, but at least you 'care' about me a little, don't you!?? When I write to you all again....knock on wood...I will write as a father. Wow...that sounds pretty cool.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday. Some Poker. No Baby.

Okay..first off, to those who continue to ask me what OMRG...or for that matter, OLRG, means, I think that this phrase is becoming the new OMG or LOL. That to NOT know what it means, makes you either 'kind of cool' or 'living under a rock.'

I had this experience in a different realm at Wal-Mart the other day with Squirrel...who as the title up there reveals, has STILL not released Carley Grace from her womb of captivity. Squirrel keeps getting bigger and bigger...her whining louder and louder (not that bad actually, I'm mostly kidding) and the due date getting closer and closer. Despite getting 55 entries in our baby pool, only five people chose dates between April 25th and 27th. (Due date is the 26th)

So Squirrel decides to make spaghetti for dinner that night. She likes to put hamburger in her spaghetti sauce. Its yummy. So while browsing the hamburger section, I jokingly (joking because I know that 95% of the stores in the US have removed the shit) tell her to make sure she gets the hamburger WITH the 'pink slime!'

"The what!?? Did you say pink slime? What the hell is that?" She was dead serious...I just stood there looking at her in astonishment. Holy crap. How did THAT ONE get by her?

If you are like her...I'm sorry you don't ever read the news, or watch it for that matter. I am not about to tell you what pink slime is here. You will just have to Google this one.

So what is an OMRG, some of you still ask? Sigh...okay. Here we go.

See this random stranger? What do you notice about him? Anything outside of the norm? Hint: He isn't young. Or spry. Or sneaky. But he does one thing...and does it well. Gets it in behind. Gets it in bad. And always seems to 'get there.' Some call this running good. Add those four things up...and what do you get? You get an OMRG.

O= Old  M= Man  R= Run  G=Good.  Figured out OLRG yet?

 You guessed it...and there is a whole collection of them...all at the same table. You've got two OLRG's...and one 'full on' OMRG and another OMRG-in-training. There are a couple of things about OLRG's that you can always count on. Aside from playing pretty similar to an OMRG...they have very distinctive qualities in the outfits they sport. 

One...long, irritating day of getting OMRG'd and OLRG'd on my most recent trip out west, we stopped into a store for some 'items' for the room...and I decided to model a few of the OLRG 'looks' that we encounter on a regular basis. Silly hats seem to be a favorite of most OLRG's. You regulars know exactly what I'm talking about if you have played long enough. (Susie Isaacs)

 Know what this is? Of course you do. It's a dog, and that dog is humping someone's leg. Well...I think most of us have experienced this annoying, and sometimes embarrassing indignity. Don't think we don't get shamed like this at the poker table as well. Because we do. As an example, I give you...  THIS GUY...never figured out yet why they don't have a DOWN arrow on the keyboard.

 A couple years ago, my buddy and travel companion Kai Landry coined the phrase 'leg-humper.' It took on other strains...like 'Mr. Humpty Hump,' and 'Old Man Hump Hump,' and 'Hump-Zilla.' What is a Leg Humper in Poker? Well, I will narrow it down for you and tell you it tends to be that player over the age of 60 about 94% of the time. He limps...you raise...he calls. He raises...you re-raise, he calls. You flop top pair..and bet out, he calls. He bets the flop, you raise him...he calls. You notice something missing here? Him three-betting? Him moving in? Him, god forbid, folding! Nope. None of those things happen. Oh every once in awhile, the leg humping call station WILL pull the 'ol all in move on the river...after smooth calling every bet you make leading up to the river. And then...BOOM...all in, and usually it makes no sense to a rational thinking poker player. You bet your top two pair...or your set...thinking its a value bet...and then he just crawls out of his 87 year old skin, and with the exuberance of a 22 year old, leaps up out of his seat and for the first time all day, says something the whole table can hear.

I'm ALL IN!!!!!!!

And your reaction is always the same. Even for those of you who DON'T curse.

 This is Kai. He is sitting next to a leg-humping OMRG up in Iowa. Here is another thing OMRG's seem to be fond of; stacking their chips in very annoying fashion. Now the way this dingle-berry has his chips laid out would lead you to think there is a chance that this guy is a limit player. Not sure why...but limit players always self-identify themselves by stacking there chips in as many spread-out stacks as is humanly possible. I used to think maybe they were raised in Southern California...where earthquakes happen all the time, and building things low to the ground seem to be the norm. There is certainly some kind of experiment on the brain that could produce a more conclusive reason for this, I'm sure.

All I know...is that it drives me fucking nuts. Especially when you have been forced to play at a shorter table, and even more so when you have a tourney director who is a douchebag and is trying to save money on dealer downs, and forcing all the players to play 10-handed at their table. (the exception being at a tourney where they get such a huge turnout that they have no choice but to seat you 10-handed, a rare occurrence) I will sit there staring at the guy's ridiculously spread out stack until finally it dawns on him that I would like him to remove his kids from my yard. Either that or I will 'accidentally' knock over his outer stacks with my elbow while making a motion to look at my cards. Two or three of those usually get the point across. Okay...next.

Totally unrelated item here. Watching a basketball game. Guy misses the easiest shot in basketball, the uncontested free throw. But wait...no big deal, don't feel bad about it...your whole team...all four of them...are there to encouragingly give you a hand slap. Why? That NEVER happened when I played as a kid, or when I watched pros and college players. Until about...I don't know...maybe ten years ago? I think this is a really good reason for why there are so many shitty FT shooters. There are no repercussions for missing. I think maybe if they would start punching the guy in the face...or kicking him in the balls...maybe even hitting him with a taser...after missing a free throw, you might see the percentages pick up a little bit.

Today is my Mother's birthday....and she has reached retirement age! Congratulations Mom! And thanks for being such a great mother...and for all you have done for me and Squirrel...and Carley (already!)

Yesterday was April 20th...or 420...National Potsmoker's Day. Hope those of you who make marijuana an integral part of your life had a wonderful day celebrating your center of the universe...though I doubt most of you will remember it, right?

So...I finally got totally fed up with Cable One. With their internet always getting turned WAY down after midnight, or going out all together. With the movie we are watching always suddenly cutting over to the weather channel for no explainable reason. Tired of them not having E! Tired of them not being able to work with cool Aps on my iPad like HBO-Go, like Showtime Anytime, like TBS and TNT on Demand...all things you can use on your iPad if you have either Direct TV or AT&T U-Verse. So...I did some research...and on Wednesday, literally ONE day after I ordered the service...we were in the presence of an installer. 

The set up is pretty awesome. One DVR receiver. The other two are simply receivers. But whatever you record on that ONE...can be viewed on all the others.  It all works on wireless receivers as well. So not one INCH of coaxial cable lives in my house now. The internet and the cable operate on different signals...so no mutual interruption of service. The picture is better...way better. And the internet is so much faster its not even funny. The only drawback I've seen so far...is that the TV keeps getting frozen while watching programing. And I don't know what the solution is. I hope its not a regular thing. I think that the way around it is to completely turn off the TV Receiver...then turn it back on. Whatever...so far it has improved my quality of life.
 See this...uh...art? Every day as Kai and I drove from the awesome Day's Inn in Council Bluffs, we would get off at the exit that featured this business. What is it? No one really seems to know. But if you are a fan of 'Transformers' you probably think it bears a resemblance to something from those films. Guess that is as close as we got to 'Midwest Culture.'

This is a pretty typical sight in the Midwest. A car with a really horrendous paint job. I'm not positive, but I think from my time living in Montana that this is due in large part to the harsh winters. Salt on the roads is a big culprit. I guess in the movie 'Fargo' when dude kept trying to scam everyone into buying the seemingly unnecessary 'under-coating' that it may not have been such a bad idea, after all.

 See this chick? I found this to be one of the most perplexing characters in all of Council Bluffs. I never saw her play a tournament...but saw her nearly every day in the cash room. She is a woman. For the first couple days, I was questioning it. Because she had almost ZERO female qualities. Her facial expressions were all dude-like. Her body language, same deal. The way she walked. She is already tall..but then she would make it just bizarre by always wearing these 6-10 inch heels every day. She looked like a giraffe. And then there was her voice...which was very low and guttural. Yeah...very sexy. (not!) She was also a lousy poker player. But one who thought she was awesome...which is just always annoying as hell. In this picture, she looks about as ridiculous as it gets. Gotta make sure you have those shades for that intense 1/2 game. Make sure you strap that 'old school' MP3 player to your arm! Like she is jogging or at the gym working out. Yeah...she was one of, if not my MOST....unfavorite cartoon character of Council Bluffs.
 This is a picture of a Royal Flush. It happened in a tourney. What is astonishing is that both players were holding El Diablo...but one of them was suited with the Ultimate Nuts. The other wasn't, and despite no more spades coming out...he lost about as little as you could ever imagine on the hand. To his credit, he was a really good player. Otherwise, I think that the guy who flopped the Royal would have stacked the guy.

See this menu? Take a really close look. It's from our favorite truck stop/restaurant in Council Bluffs...Sapp Brothers. Kai and I both love liver and onions like you wouldn't believe. While driving to Vegas...we went 40 miles out of the way to hit a place 'famous' for liver and onions. It was worth it. Well, this place featured different items on every day of the week...and liver and onions day was Tuesday. You couldn't get it any other day. So when we left Iowa last Tuesday...we made that our last stop...or first I guess. And though the liver was over-cooked and the onions under-cooked...it was still pretty good, and worth the wait. So...check out the description of the Salmon. Did you catch it? If you guessed Fillet...when it should be filet...then you were correct. And I'm not exactly sure when 'medium doneness' (which last time I checked isn't an actual word) became a good way to adequately describe a menu item.

Played a couple of cash sessions at IP this week. Nothing real positive to report. Even started documenting one of the sessions on my iPad, then just became so irritated, I decided to take an Attivan, close my iPad and pretend like nothing bad was happening. Why is it when you flop something like 4s-5s-6s holding Ad7s...that there is always two guys holding made hands (2-3off and 7-8 off) and after getting your whole stack in there...always brick out? Or is it just me?

Then the other night, Thursday, I decide to show up for their new tourney...a $130 bounty tourney ($30 bounties) at 7pm. I arrived at 7:15pm. They had one table, with 11 players. I was the 2nd alternate. Jeezuz. I finally convinced him to make it two tables...7 and 6. OMRG was driving me fucking bananas. I would raise (from 100/200) to 600 with AK suited. He would re-raise it to 1600. Sigh. Call. Miss. This was one of those guys...I just knew he was bluffing every time he bet. And he always bet way too much. Two people would limp...for 200...he'd make it 1200. Ugh. So finally...after we combined to one table...I pick up KK utg...nice...and he was in the big blind. At 200/400 I make it 1100 to go. Folds around to him...he makes it 4000. Whatever. I was all in for 5500. He has AK off. Mmm hmmm. But would I fade the three-outer? Are you kidding? Please. Ace on the turn. Ball game.

Moved over to cash game. That didn't go swell. I either couldn't hit a draw...over and over...or I kept getting sucked out on. Then...a huge hand occurred...and for about the third time in three days I found myself wanting to smack Jim...a.k.a. 'Smoky' in the face. Earlier...I had flopped middle pair with an ace. He had 9-8. The original raiser...a total c-betting clown...led out again. I just flatted, as did 'Smokey.' The turn was an 8. Nice. He bet again. 20 I think. I went ahead and raised to 60...not sure where Jim was...but suspecting a flush draw. So what does he do? He shoves all in for about 420. What? The first guy folds. I'm not folding. I call. A nine hits the river...the guy next to me is saying 'He has 5's full' and I'm thinking maybe he saw his hand. Nope...much grosser. He turns over 8-9. Offsuit. Oh my god. Full house on the river with the 9. I wanted to puke. Rebuy.

Well...then this hand sent me on a voyage out of the poker room...doing laps in the casino...cursing Jim. Every so often they do this thing where one table gets $100 for the player that wins the hand. So our table was picked. And I knew with the current cast of characters at our table...which was 1/2 but playing more like a 2/5, even a 5/10 game most of the time...that this hand would get crazy. So when I got pocket nines under the gun...I just limped, knowing someone would raise.

True story. The guy right behind me goes all in for 71. He gets one call...from a guy I could tell didn't really want to call...so I felt confident I could make him fold...then it came to Smokey...and he starts counting the pot...and hemming and hawing....okay, definitely have HIM beat too....he calls. Then another aggressive clown, the guy who was constantly over-c-betting calls...making the pot now around $300. Well it finally got to me...and I made it (what I thought was a great bet) $225 to go. Now I could have gone all in for $410...but I thought $225 just really looked strong...all in might look like a steal, just a stone cold steal. And honestly...I kind of wanted ONE caller...since if I lost to the guy all in for $71 there wouldn't be any kind of side pot.

The first guy folds...as I thought he might. Well, Smokey...for some reason, thought Q9h was a good hand to call with there. Why? I have no fucking clue. The other guy folds...and then this lady...who only had $30 behind her call of $71...and who played about as bad as you can play in about 3 or 4 hands...called, obviously. The flop came Jack high...with two hearts...and I was obviously not folding to any flop...not with over 900 in the pot and only $125 left in my stack. Jim snap calls...I cringe...then when the next card was a heart he turns over a flush. Jeezuz effing christ. I snapped...but not at the table. I just got up, and bolted out of the poker room. I came back 15 minutes later. I dug out $1000 from my pocket, got two racks of red and declared war on the table.

It worked pretty well...because on two hands where I knew they were drawing I just shipped all in for over a dime...with between $100-$150 in the pot. I got it up to $1400 and was just trying to get even on the night then getting the hell out of there. But I floundered around $1200-$1300 for about three hours...god that is irritating.

On my right was this guy who lost a few hands and started tilting his face off. So when Mr. Aggressive made his standard raise of $12...and I was going to call, once with 4d5d and the other time with As5s...I ended up folding to tilt boy on my right...who kept shoving his whole stack...shoves I couldn't possibly call, but had he NOT pulled that move, I would have flopped trip 5's on the one...only to river a boat, and then flop middle pair with the nut flush (which got there on the turn) which I would have never folded after the flop. I would have won about $1000 on those two hands...if it just hadn't been for fucktard shoveface beside me. All told, it was just one of those nights when nothing was breaking my way. I could have easily left that table with about a $2500 profit. Instead I lost $350. Which gave me two consecutive losing sessions of around $350. 

I now (finally) have food in my house again. Squirrel and I took a power shopping trip to Wal-Mart the other night. The other good thing about that trip? It always makes me feel better about myself, my life...and my looks. That place is like a carnival. 

Okay...that's enough for one day. Plus I've just developed a monster headache. Congrats to Chip Ervin for his second place finish up in St. Louis. I know I'm forgetting about someone else who fared well up there too. I've noticed a LOT of people I know doing great in poker over the past year. Is it just that I've made so many acquaintances in poker that whenever someone wins now, I just happen to know them pretty well? That might be the case. I am getting 'winner's circle envy' really bad....and am really hungry to taste victory again. Its getting pretty close to New Orleans...I really need the poker gods to smile on me at that event.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Follow up to GCP Front Page News

Okay, as promised...and this is being done on Blogger's new interface...which so far is freaking me out. I am that one person who has resisted to 'switch over' to Facebook's new 'Timeline' format. Because if I hate it on everyone else's page...why would I like it on mine? They even try to trick you into getting it...which is what happened to Squirrel...and it won't let you go back. Sucks. But they won't get me! At least on this new Blogger interface, I have the option of switching back.

Okay, so I must first say thanks to Wild Bill and GeneD for giving me the front page! Yay! Always a nice gesture by them...especially when there were several guys way more deserving of that honor!

A couple of guys, who I spent a good amount of time hanging out with while in Iowa...had the opportunity of a lifetime, only to let it go slip sliding away. Yes, I am speaking of Tim Burt and David 'Lurky' Nicholson. And if you don't know about the nickname...well, sorry. You will have to earn that one! :)

As the front page mentions, they got into a 3-way battle with Brent Carter...whom they managed to accurately label 'The Grumpy Neighbor.' Matter of fact...when it comes to whiners, bitchers and moaners...Brent 'Members Only' Carter is the King of the Court. Brent is who Allen Kessler looks to for mentoring. The owner of the last Member's Only (burgundy in case you wondering) jacket still in existence, Brent is the guy who is always there to let you know what the rules are. Why? Because he wrote them...he'll have you know.

To his credit, Brent is a very good poker player. And he had definitely put in the work and paid his dues throughout the years. And in fairness, where we once did nothing but butt heads, we both kind of have a mutual fondness for one another these days. I kind of understand him a little more than I ever used to...and he seems to confide in me (as a fellow 'hate people with no common sense' guy) whenever something ridiculous has taken place at the table. But to the outside observer not privvy to what goes on in the 'inside circle' of the poker world, Brent would come off as nothing but a grumpy old asshole. So, they boys at GCP more or less got it right...and of course, we all would HAVE to be rooting for our boys from Biloxi to take that rebuy PLO down for obvious reasons. But it didn't happen. And yeah...I was one of the first to give them both hell over it. But not reported was that they did some kind of a money deal, and I'm pretty sure Tim ended up with that damn ring...which Kai and I both have taken to calling 'The Illegitimate Child' of WSOP circuit rings. We shall call it...Ring #3.5 for future reference.

Also...on the front page was a shout out...well...a whisper out...to a couple of people a lot of us know quite well. Kenny Milam and Jena Delk. Jena and I shared a house in Vegas in the Summer of 2008, when I first started writing on this site. The summer our house out there was either robbed, or an intricate inside job was staged by one of the home's dwellars. It's still kind of shrouded in mystery. Fortunately, I didn't lose anything in that robbery...so I wasn't a victim. No, that happened a few weeks before, when 3k in lammers went missing from my bag while I slept one night. Grrr....whatever.

Well, I got to know Jena pretty well that summer. She had just won the Ladies Event in New Orleans...when I was busy finishing 2nd to Tyler in the $1k. In fact, it was on the same day. She then went on to cash (I want to say 13th?) in the Ladies event at WSOP Vegas...which was a nice score. Her husband came out for a couple weeks too, and final tabled a couple events at the Venetian. Well, Jena has just revealed on Facebook, that she is battling breast cancer. As a lot of you know, I have donated a lot of time and a fair amount of money to that cause...and having had a handful of friends fight that battle...its always sobering news to hear that someone else has been ravaged by this awful disease.

Last year about this time...I was getting news that my good friend Chad Brown had been diagnosed with cancer...having had a gigantic tumor removed from his stomach. I have watched Chad fight all year...and in his 'never-let-them-see-you-down' style, done it with the positive approach he seems to handle everything since I've known him. Chad also saw his marriage with Vanessa Rousso come to an end this year...which I hated to see. But like everything, he handled that with an equal amount of grace. The guy is a rock.

So...knowing what I know about Jena...I can see her handling this 'cancer thing' the same way. She is the type who seems motivated by a challenge...who doesn't let the 'small stuff' get her down. I'm pretty sure Jena was already dealing with some kind of a condition prior to that...forgot the details, but I know it never got her down. So I will hope and pray that she tackles this new battle with the same energy she fought with before...and that God deals her top set with cancer drawing dead to the turn and the river. 

As for Kenny...I am not positive what the situation there is...other than its not with him...but his wife. He was unable to play the Main Event in Iowa because his wife was scheduled for some kind of surgery on Monday (I believe) and since they had kind of screwy schedule up there for that Main Event...he wasn't able to play it. It's nice to see that he has his priorities in the right place at least. And I hope that everything turned out okay for one of the 'good guys' in poker. Not sure I've ever met one single player who has ever had a bad thing to say about Kenny.  Well, maybe your occasional "Can you believe it? Freaking Kenny Milam called me down with _____and sucked out on me!!!!" Yeah....we ALL know that Kenny WILL put a bad beat on you if you aren't careful!!!!

Okay this entry just followed my previous entry...and I will get those funny pictures to you soon...promise.


My Big Iowa Wrap-up

Yeah yeah, I know...I've done it again. Left you in the lurch. Well, those of you who have me on Facebook and Twitter know the deal, as far as what became of me in the second running of the Main Event. To those who don't, and didn't....once again, I apologize. 

I've noticed a very interesting trend going on over here>>>>> yeah that poll, the one I always try to pose to you folks that centers on some kind of current happenings. Last month it was 'who do you think will win the March Madness' and Kentucky was an overwhelming choice. They won. In fact...they coasted. And now people can stop calling John Calipari a coach who can't win the big one. He did it. Find your next victim. So this month's poll centers on who you would most like to punch in the face. And sure...Nancy Grace is ALWAYS going to be at or near the top of any poll where this is the question. And she took an early lead in this one. But in the past 7 days...she has been caught, and passed, by the two-headed monster that is Al Sharpton/Jesse Jackson. And I suppose this has a lot to do with the race war....errrrr...Trayvon Martin case they are spearheading right now down in Florida.

Fancy outfits...complete with yellow badges to wear around the neck...which allow them, uh...um...help? Access to stuff?

Well, now that George Zimmerman-Lopez-Waxstein-Jones has been charged with 2nd degree murder, and is sitting behind bars...my question is: Will the 'New' Black Panthers crawl back into their sheath of anonymity, waiting for the next race-baiting episode to occur? Or will they awkwardly continue to march around looking like ignorant assholes? My vote is for Option #2.

 One thing I noticed while Kai and I were in Iowa: Civil unrest was non-existent. If anything...the divides up there in corn country were more between the young and the old...and the skinny and the obese. There didn't seem to be a 'middle class' in either category. It was bizarre.

I've been living in the South now since 1993...and in those almost 20 years I have seen things that are just alarming. And a lot of what takes place now seems to be fueled by a media that is thirsting for conflict between the races. Why? Because it attracts viewers? I'm not going to delve too deep into this topic, but frankly, I really think our country is a total mess right now, in almost every form of the word. And I hate to say it...but I don't think that either Obama or Romney have the answers. 

So...poker. Yeah. I returned for Day 2, with 20 big blinds in my stack. On the third hand I raise all in over a notoriously aggressive asian kid raising behind me...with AK in my hand. Took it down. Then a couple hands later...Charles 'Woody' Moore's wife (he knocked me out the night before with A7 if you recall, nice call sir...and would eventually finish 2nd in this event) Becky limped UTG for 1000. I wake up with AA on the button. Ha! Revenge!???  I make it 2500. It folds back to her. She mumbles something about giving me a break and folding...so I show her the two aces. She had an ace. Shit. Whatever. Knowing how those two run...she would have probably flopped trips.

Our table then broke....only half a level into the day. It's been a week now, almost...so details have kind of left me. It was a pretty decent table. Kevin Saul came to our table with a shit ton of chips...and kind of exacted control over the table. About half way through the day...after doing a lot of folding all day, I decided to test my 'super nit' tight image...shoving all in behind another one of Saul's early position raises...which collected two callers. Seemed like a good time to try and take down a 12k pot...as I was now just sitting on 38k. Whoops. Bad timing. Kevin had AA. Me, I had attempted to squeeze shove with A8s. No problem...I flopped an 8 and two spades. Not even I could miss that one. Flush on the turn. Double up, plus some. 

Then after taking out another player...I hit my high-water mark of 107k when the average was 75k. (at some point Poker News erroneously reported me as having 140k) I was now starting to dream about cashing. About the time I started dreaming, Kai was getting busted at the table behind me. So now any plans I had of leaching off of Kai and the 20% save deal we had between us if I should happen to go down in flames, had also just sank to the bottom of the Missouri River. It was I who had now become the leachee. 

Blinds started going up. Stack started going down. Every time I was about to shove on another one of Kevin's raises...once with AJ, the other with 77...the guy in the 9-seat ( I was in the 1-seat) kept re-raising. Shit! And come to find out...I had a much better hand than the guy I had slapped with the nickname of 'Willie Nelson' and who I now had the entire table calling 'Willie.' Pretty sure Poker News had taken to calling him that as well. No...it was NOT Willie Nelson. I only know this because at some point...oh yeah, after doubling up through Kevin...he assumed the chiplead, and his name was up there for all to see (James Devaney, 10th place).

Oh, Kevin was doing a pretty magnificent job of doubling people up. This was my first experience (at least to my knowledge) with playing with Kevin. Some onliners know him by the name of BelowAbove. Think thats the proper spelling of his online moniker..if I'm wrong I'm certain one of you will correct me. Well, I can see where his style is going to win a lot, or at the very least, get deep a lot. He plays that Tyler Smith style of poker. Which I have gone into quite a lot of detail about in the past few years. You can throw Michael Hallen into that lot. And so...when in the throes of being card dead, I was having to observe Mike and Chad 'Lil Holdem' Bautista admonishing me for folding AK on a hand...where Doug 'Rico' Carli had shoved all in UTG+2 for 22 big blinds...and had been snap shove/all-in'd by the guy  two spots over...for about 20 big blinds.

Now this may open up a lot of debate among you poker junkies. There are those of you who simply refuse to fold AK. That no matter what...if you have the person shoving covered, you HAVE TO call there. Well, in my case...I had just experienced a glorious AK moment only two hands prior...where a guy had raised (a guy who was raising a LOT) into my BB with me holding AKh. I shoved all in on the guy...who snap called with 99. I flopped an ace and went runner runner ace, king for the boat. Which put him on life tilt. Had things been a bit different on this hand...that same guy (with the 99) found 88 in the big blind. Had neither one of those two behind me woke up with a hand (which turned out to be QQ and 77) I would have raised on the button with AK...and had tilt-boy shove on me...to which I would NOT have probably ever folded, given the circumstances, and position, etc...and would have completely whiffed on the AK.

Well, none of that happened, because I was allowing myself to (in my opinion) play good tournament poker. Doug wasn't shoving with garbage, this I knew. He had been experiencing a pretty painful two orbits, and I could easily see him shoving there with anything from 10's to Q's to even AK...my hand. But when the second guy quickly shoved also? How live can AK be there? Certainly I HAVE to hit one of my six (maybe) outs. Not very good odds. AK felt like a pretty easy fold there(sittin on 35 BB's). But watching the banter on my Facebook, I had 3 'for' my move and '3' against...and then just a handful of innocent bystanders trying to get a good view of the carnage. As long as the verbiage stays clean, and the personal attacks are kept to a minimum, it never bothers me to read that stuff. I always find it pretty interesting to see how my fellow players think on stuff like those 'big moments' when you have to either fold or pull the trigger.

Well, I was accused of playing too much like a nit, of folding my way to another 'min cash' which...sorry to say it, after how my trip in Iowa had been going...I wasn't all that averse to. Sneaking out of Council Bluffs with $3k or more would be considered a positive. Now obviously, if I had made that call...that probably would not have happened, because I would have been crippled down to about 15 bb's, which would have perished as I went horrendously card dead all the way down to the bubble. 

I could go on and on about the theory of tournament poker when you get to that stage of the tourney. We all have our thoughts and opinions. But in conclusion, I find that in order to be in contention to win...you have to be present. One guy who wasn't present? Kevin Saul. Why? Well...in what I would consider to be one of the most bizarre and unnecessary plays I have ever seen late in a poker tourney (with the exception of my horrendous play at the Main Event Final Table in Hammond/Chicago two years ago vs. William Reynolds) ...he decides to pull a move that I can only conclude was motivated by a narcissistic desire to exact complete domination over the table at the most crucial time of the tourney.

A pretty active player raised in early position. It folded to Stephen Ma on the button. Steve is a damn good player, Asian kid...and he came to our table with a lot of chips, and essentially put them on lock down. Which is about how I play a heavy stack late in a tourney. I try to survive to the final table...where the money is good, then pick spots or wait on hands. So when Ma three-bet raises there, you might want to put him on a good hand. Just maybe. So what does Kevin Saul do? In the big blind? He...ahem...get ready....he FUCKING SHIPS IT. Yeah. Which prompts an immediate fold from the first guy. Now...I suppose this might work a lot, especially at this stage in the tourney...and guys are going to fold a lot of big hands....all the way up to, I'm thinking, queens. But the one hand that ISN'T getting folded? Yeah...aces. Which is what Stephen was holding, vs. Kevin's KQ. Not even a sweat, as the dealer put an ace on the flop and no help for Saul. He sent 250k the other way...then just went down the tubes from there. He did make the money...but just barely, 28th, for a min cash.

We finally got into the money when a guy literally allowed himself to get blinded down to where he was all in while in the big blind. Two players ended up getting whacked on the hand..and we were at 28. We got it to 27 and it was time to redraw. On my first hand, I got AJd and shoved all in under the gun...getting a call from the big blind with A10...and just like that, had a much needed double up...to just over 60k. Now, I could see all my patience possibly paying off.

A guy we call Premo came to our table...and on his first hand raised UTG (with A4 it turned out)...and like an idiot, I simply smooth called the 14k raise holding AQ...when the proper move would have been to move in. Pej and I know each other pretty well, and admittedly he would have folded to me...but I let a flop of 2-4-8 hit, and folded to his 20k bet. Damn. Not that I think it might have changed what happened on the 'OUT' hand I'm about to tell you about.

We got down to 22 players...and were one away from moving up another $700 in the money. At this point...I was just focusing on surviving, picking up a few more pay spots along the way...and hoping to catch fire when we got down to two tables. Which...sorry to say, is how I have final tabled a LOT of my big scores. Say what you want...but it's proven to be a pretty good recipe for success. So at 3k/6k....Casey Cavannaugh, who had been chipleader for a good portion of the tourney and would finish 3rd in this event...limps in UTG. This was the first time I'd had him at my table all tourney...so I had no idea what he was capable of in that spot, but what he was doing was being cagey and sneaky...a good strategy with 400+k in chips and a handful of shortstacks (including me) at the table. 

Well, I looked down at JJ...which was the best hand I had looked at in hours. And right away with two other limpers behind him...and 48k in my stack...had me thinking about either taking down a pot of 30k or so and being back to a respectable amount...or possibly doubling up to well over 100k and being right back in this thing. I shoved all in. Casey very nonchalantly called and as the other two folded told me "well, I have two kings." You have WHAT!??? Oh shit! Damn...and I meekly turned over my once powerful jacks...which had shrunk up to virtual deuces now. I got no help from the dealer...and just sat there, bummed, not totally devastated by any stretch..since after that A8s hand I was more or less free-rolling anyway...but saddened that my 'magical journey' had ended. 

But what was even MORE of a bad beat...was getting handed the card for 22nd place...and just 15 seconds later watching 21st being handed to the twerpy little dork who had annoyed everyone by dragging his 'lucky chair' (no it wasn't a chair he had brought from home...shut up!) from one table to the next...and coming up behind me asking if I just busted. Yes...squeaky-voiced troll who just got paid $700 more than me, I did. Son of a bitch!

I collected my $3745. I left my tip. Then I just stood there, in the cash room, where they make you walk to so you can cash your 'check' they issue you after cashing. What to do? Where to go? Damn...its over. Screw it...might as well play some cash game. Good decision for a change. In for $300...and eventually, after finally getting bored, and watching the table turn into one of those nightmares waiting to happen...you know the kind...when you get just the right mix of players and it goes from a nice little 1/3 table into a maniacal 5/10 game...and your profits over the past few hours are gone with one or two bad beats. Yeah...my work here was done. I cashed out for a nice little $498 profit...and Iowa was a wrap. My $740 20% gift was paid to Kai...which served to heal some of his cash game wounds. The only thing undone is how to handle what to give to my backer for this trip. 

Its a touchy subject...first, because this is a guy I really like and respect, and second, because I would love to have future backing opportunities with him. Its kind of screwy though...because I called him with the 'good news' on Friday night...telling him that the last of our remaining $3500 in staking funds went into the $250 then $70 rebuy mega...which I won...and left us with a grand total of $10 in our account. So for this final mega on Sunday...that $250 deal with 15 players...I hit the ATM for that buy in. So hypothetically, it was done on my dime. But realistically, and I think...more to the fair side of things, I wouldn't have probably been in position to do that if I hadn't had all the previous shots afforded by him...a lot of you might have a LOT of different opinions on this matter...and I guess none of them really matter, do they?

I tried to call him two days ago to discuss it with him...but got his voice mail. And I see that he called me back today...but I was in the throes of another one of my marathon sleep sessions, which have been out of control since I got home. Granted, I am still battling this ridiculous cold that I picked up in Iowa. I got on some antibiotics finally, yesterday...and hopefully they are going to do the trick. I literally woke up today at 4:30pm! What the hell!??? In the past three nights, I have had some of the most epic dreams of all time. Last night's was, I'm positive, a film everyone would go see. But what happens? You wake up, and you start losing all of the important details. But this one last night, an action thriller, had me kidnapped at gunpoint by a deranged sociopath...held captive in his gross trailer. He was into some kind of conspiracy against the government. No one knew where I was. I was allowed in and out...but monitored such that anything I did to try to contact someone was immediately noticed. When I would return to the trailer he would check my pockets for anything unusual. Blah blah blah...it was a weird, yet exciting damn dream!

So what have I decided to do about throwing my Iowa backer a bone? I'm not sure...but giving him at least a dime seems pretty fair. I mean, yeah...that will mean I came home a loser overall...but it sure could have been a lot worse. And I did manage to scrape together another 12.5 points towards the Freeroll Points...and now, sitting with 42.5 going into New Orleans...I am just one event win...or a couple of final tables away from returning to the National Freeroll this summer. Striking distance!!!! And god forbid I win something for an amount that involves 5 numbers in it...with Carley Grace getting here in the next two weeks and the nest egg slowly dwindling away...the timing couldn't possibly be better.

So, oh yeah...what's up with Carley Grace? Well...everything is tracking for a normal delivery. Momma Squirrel has been making regular trips to the Baby Doctor...all signs are great. Due date is the 26th. My baby pool has sold 41 spots (out of a possible 216) and we have a split of those insisting an early delivery is coming to those even more insistent that a late delivery is on order for Squirrel. Well, she just worked her final shift at the Beau last night (for about three months) and I'm pretty sure she is ready to get that wiggling beast out of her. Last night...as we laid on the bed, I watched as Carley was moving all over the place. It's a trip, for sure. Can't lie...kept thinking about that scene in 'Alien'...you know the one!

I know I promised you guys a bunch of hilarious pictures from Iowa. I haven't forgotten that. But this entry just got way too long, agreed? I will follow up with a follow up. Cool? If you haven't checked out KAI'S ENTRY from Council Bluffs...I suggest you do, it was hilarious.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Back to Main Event? Yep. Whacky!

Well...someone isn't ready for me to leave yet. Not sure why the poker gods keep fuckin with me like this, I keep choosing to believe that it's all part of a sinister master plan, designed to make me remember the road I was forced to travel down before realizing glory and riches. 

So that when I finally arrive; down to heads up in a WSOP Main Event...with an 8-1 chiplead I can't possibly lose, and my limp with QQ (my punchout hand in Main Events about 381 times) is met by a shove all in by the guy with K-10 suited...and me calling... and a flop of Q-J-9...making me roll my eyes, and start counting out the guy's chip stack for the payout that will draw us closer in chips...watching as the ace hits the turn, just making it worse..and pushing the double up amount into the center of the table...as the dealer (who we shall, for the fictitious glory of this yarn...call Matt the Messiah) peels off the final queen in the deck...giving me QUADS...and the title, putting my QQ demons down for all time...giving me the championship, the ring, or hell...bracelet, and the multiple bundle of 10k stacks...that I smuggle into a secret compartment in my Monk-Mobile and Squirrel it off (no pun intended, but yeah, PUN INTENDED) to it's secret hiding place.

Than can only be...what I assume, Mr. Big upstairs has been planning for me all these painful years. Last night was a kick in the nuts, literally. It was deflating. It's always so discouraging when it happens in a Main Event. But like I told my wife on the phone as we were driving back to our hotel...I can lay in bed and feel sorry for myself, or I can take out another $250 from the ATM...play that last Mega, hope to play well, and run even better, emerge victorious, and go back to the Main Event, on Day 2, with 20k in chips (20BB's) and about 120 players, and just hope to put together some good hands, a little good luck, and just play well...and hope for the best. 

Well...something went right tonight. I showed up about half way through level 2. First hand, I get QQ. Weird. I raise. Get called twice. Here we go. Flop comes Jack high. I lead out. They both fold. Okay, okay...I like it, I like it.

I never got to a point of desperation...but with a chance to eliminate a player and cripple another...there was a raise utg to 1800 (at 400/800) and I looked at AQ on the button. Hmmm. Re-raise? Flat? I felt pretty good about my ability to outplay these guys after the flop...already having won a hand where this Asian guy had raised early with 10-10, I flatted with 9-9..and when he checked the king-high flop I bet behind him...while he folded his 10's. So...I didn't think flatting with AQ was the worst idea. So I did. Well, OMRG in the SB complicates issues by shoving all in for 2950. Shit. Enough to re-open the betting. Will this first guy re-raise to isolate? Well he didn't. Hmmm. That's kind of weird. Must not be all that strong. Or maybe he is VERY strong and wants me to shove. Shit. Hate these spots. Damn. What do YOU do?

I decide NOT to shove (thank god...) but to just call. The flop comes 8-10-6. He checks. I check. The turn is an ace. He checks. I must be good. I bet 6200. He has 6800. He groans...then folds his pocket 7's. OMRG sees my AQ...and tells me he has 6 outs. Huh? He turns over pocket nines. Oh. Yeah...great. Well...not six, since dude just folded two of the 7's you need. FOUR. Two nines, and two 7's. Hey dealer? How bout putting a.....what!?? NO! What the fuck!!! COME ON!!!  A seven on the river? Mother)(*!@#&(*!@#(*&!(*#

And just like that, my stack takes a monster hit. OMRG triples up...and I was in peril. Well, I would get my revenge on OMRG. With the blinds at 600/1200...I pick up QQ in the SB...it folds around to me. I meant to make it 3500, but picked up two purple (500 chips) instead of two orange (1000 chips) and announced raise. But what I had done was screw myself into min raising. Or had I!?? OMRG calls. The flop comes J-7-8. I bet....he shoves. I call, and he turns over 45. Yeah, another gut shot for the old cuss. Somehow, I fade the wrath of the OMRG....

I go on a heater and take over the chip lead. Then knock out the other OMRG...when he shoves on me after raising with QJ in the SB. I did some math....then grew some balls...and made the call...him showing me EL DIABLO!!!! Oh god...but I decided I wasn't going to fear that beast this time. Nope...I was ready to fade the K10. I flopped a Jack. But he turned an open-ended draw....don't do it, don't do it.......don't.....do.....it. THREE on the river. His wife was lurking over my shoulder and screeched out in horror. He emitted an OMRG ballad of "Whyyyy! Why must I always bubble!!??"  Um....I had nothing.  I had no time for that. I was heads up for the win.

The deal? One winner of a $1600 seat. The other guy getting $1456...so basically, two winners. But on a trip where I have done nothing but watch money leave my wallet, having expended my backer's last contribution with the previous rebuy satellite, I was not the least bit interested in having to enter my PIN # again to come up with the rest of the buy in loot. I was heads up with the Asian dude. He had his whole rooting crew behind him. He proclaimed he didn't care if he won or lost heads up...already feeling like he'd won, and that's fair, but I like winning when heads up, and also didn't feel like (as I said) spending any more money on this damn main event.

We played heads up for about two levels, trading off hands...and me maintaining a 2 to 1 lead on him....waiting for a hand where I could set him up. I finally got that chance...picking up pocket jacks on the button. Pretty much every time I had limped in, which I'd done with excellent drawing hands like 6-7 suited, 9-10, Q-9...he had raised. To which I had flatted, and hoped to catch something I could trap him with. A couple times I flopped air but check-raised him anyway, to which he folded both times. So when I limped with the Jacks...and he raised, I was ready to fuck him up for the kill. I re-raised him all in. He snap called, and turned over AQ. Ugh. Overs. He caught an ace on the flop...and it held. Dammit.

We played a bit longer. Back and forth. Then he won a hand that gave him a slight lead. I pick up QJ. Raise to 6000 at 800/1600. He smooth calls. Which he'd been doing a lot with some pretty not-so-impressive hands. One one hand I raised with 4-4. He called with K9. The flop came 4-9-10. And after checking the flop....I bet the turn (harmless 3) when he shoved all in with middle pair. Of course I called..and that was what gave me a massive lead at the time. So him shoving with middle pair was kind of normal for him.  So with the QJ hand...and him calling, the flop comes 9-10-4. He checks to me, and I shoved all in. Again, he snap calls with middle pair. Well, okay...win this hand, and its all but over. Turn was a jack. Ugh. Two pair for him...but really changing nothing. I still needed a king or an 8...just meant that I could now hit a Q too. None of that happened as a 7 hit the river. I lose. 2nd place. Pony up another $150. Got my voucher and raced over to registration before they closed at 10pm. Going in as an 'alternate' which means show up...get my seat card.

I am not terribly devastated by not 'winning.' Hell...after that gutshot by OMRG (Old Man Run Good...for you newbies to my blog) I figured I was toast...and would be playing in the $350 ring event tomorrow at noon...which I may still play, if things don't go right for me early tomorrow. The re-start time for Day 2 is 11am. But instead...I turned it around, and have to admit, I'm pretty happy with the way I played to get to where I got. And have to just keep hoping/praying/assuming that God is totally fucking with my brain, and wanting to see me suffer, and hurt before he rewards me with 'The Great Victory.'

Kai and I finally hit the barbeque restaurant in the parking lot of our hotel. Don't ask me what its called, because I can't remember. But their food was awesome. They had, no shit...the best cornbread I've ever tasted in my life. The bartender recommended we put butter and HONEY (???) on it. Never tried that before. It was amazing. We couldn't eat everything, so we took to-go boxes for our refrigerator, the bartender giving us more cornbread for the road. Must have been the 25% tip.

I was going to blog when we got back to the room...as Kai himself was doing...but I passed out. Didn't even get around to sending out the email announcing the winners in my 85-entry Master's Pool. Then woke up at 1am...with a burst of sudden energy...and took care of the Master's Pool, which was won by the same guy who won my March Madness Pool. Think that guy is having a great spring? Well...he has taken a bunch of those winnings and invested $500 into my Carley Grace Baby Pool...which still has many openings on it. So kudos to that guy. I got shut out for the second year in a row in the Masters Pool...which I usually do pretty well in. After round 1, I had 5 of my 6 entries all in the Top Ten. Well, a few golfers like Ben Crenshaw (+11) and Stewart Cink (+9) took care of that in the next few rounds.

How about that Masters? I think everyone just kind of assumed Phil Mickelson would show up on Sunday and win another Green Jacket. But things seemed to fade for Phil when he had one horrendous hole, followed by Louis Oosthuizen's amazing double eagle. Then another impressive showing by the SEC! Here comes ex-Georgia Bulldog Bubba Watson...surging late, forcing a playoff, and winning on the second hole of overtime! A boy named Bubba wins the Masters! Isn't that just perfect!???

So after sending out my Master's winners' announcement, I decided to read Kai's blog entry. Holy shit. One of his best posts ever. I was laughing so hard I unfortunately woke him up. Well, if I didn't wake him up with my laughing, I'm sure I would have with my coughing from this chest cold from hell. You HAVE to check out his latest post...CLICK HERE to read his blog post. Yeah...if you are looking for FUNNY...mine isn't really the place to go today, Mr. Landry has the corner on that market. My post here tonight is more a general accounting of my day. I will try to match Kai with a funny post once all this is over. Probably while we are driving home on that 15-hour hellacious drive. [blog editor is telling me I spelled hellacious wrong..but its not offering me an alternative spelling, so it stays as it is]

I must sleep now. If some of you did as I asked in my post...and offered up a round of prayers for me last night...THANK YOU...it seems to have worked almost to perfection. Might I beg for more of the same tomorrow? If I win it all...or hell, even make the final table up here, I will happily reimburse you for your offerings later in some form!!!