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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Out of Dog Prison, Back in Biloxi

What a long drive. Lurky (David Nicholson) and Barth, my two travel mates...had no desire to take the wheel, sleeping most of the way, leaving me to watch 4 unimpressive movies by myself...driving through pounding rain and tornado warnings, and fighting fatigue. When we finally arrived in my driveway around noon, Squirrel told me she and Carley were just leaving N. Alabama for home, where they'd been all weekend, soaking up the love and affection of Squirrel's side of the family and being pestered with 'when are you moving back home' questions all weekend. 

This trip ended as way too many have this year. Main Event in Vegas...KK goes down to 10-10, right before the money started getting REALLY good. Several other deep runs that were derailed too early. 6 circuit cashes this year so far...out of 3 played...unless you want to count Chicago/Hammond, where I was permitted to play just two events before getting 'THE INJUSTICE of 2012' bestowed upon me and shoved out the door. 6 cashes, for only 37.5 National Freeroll points. My goal, obviously, was to qualify for that event that, even though I've been told by 'that guy at WSOP' I won't be allowed to play as long as this joke of a ban on me is in play, I would love to have won the Main, or the Casino Champion, or an event or two to get over the 125-150 pts it will likely take to qualify this year. 

The reason, as I see it...would be that if I were to qualify, but then not be allowed to play, my 'story' would become a lot more visible. There would be a lot more questions being asked by a lot more reputable and credible people. Poker media would get involved....and my 'situation' would become more than a 'he said/she said' tale on the 2+2 forums. After talking to an anonymous source high within the WSOP administration, I learned a lot of information I didn't previously know about. I'm not going to show my hand here (completely, anyway) it will likely only come back to hurt me. Lets just say, there was a very concerted effort to find something, ANYTHING...that could be used against me, to get me placed on the 'Unable to Perform List' like I was between 2008 and 2010. 

When spring of 2010 rolled around, and I had punched my ticket to the freeroll, despite being on the banned list at ONLY Rio...despite having never done anything wrong there...but having it placed on me as the result of a bias-driven 86 that was orchestrated by Jim Pedulah (who has since been fired by Caesar's Palace Las Vegas)...who used a minor exchange of words between me and another player AFTER we had concluded play on Day 1 of a $360 tourney there; turning it into declaring me a wild, insane and out of control maniac who had threatened to kill another player...calling over to Jeffrey Pollack (no longer at WSOP) and 'recommending' that I not be allowed to participate in any more of the 2008 WSOP events. Pollack fell for it, aided by his (still employed) fellow employee, who had formed a distaste for some of my antics dating back to 2005.

I would be a jerk if I tried to say I never did or said anything out of line in those years when I started playing on the circuit, mainly the years 2004-2008. Admittedly, I was guilty of coming across as a sarcastic, abrasive smart ass. Granted, having a dry, sarcastic sense of humor (especially at a poker table where you are dealing with a lot of straight up simpletons) and playing poker usually leads to more than a few people 'misreading' you. Instead of thinking...'wow what a funny guy' they come away thinking 'what a fucking asshole.' I get that now. I got that then. So while my intentions were never malicious in nature, I understand how the bi-product of some of my actions managed to cultivate the environment that I was forced to play in over the past five years. And to be honest, it sucks. I wish I'd been then how I am now. Because no matter how well-behaved I am, no matter how mellow I am...its always the guy they remember from those years who they want to associate me with. 

Well, in the case of the Freeroll, I qualified. And I did so while playing at numerous Caesar's properties.  So when the GM at New Orleans Harrah's got involved, and realized that they had a major legal issue possibly brewing, it got kicked up the chain of command until it got to the top legal people in Vegas, as well as the management of the WSOP. It was determined that I would be allowed back in to Rio, and Ceaser's Palace, where the event was to be held.  The person forced to 'give me the good news' that I'd been reinstated, put on a good act the past couple years...acting like he was 'so anxious' to put a bracelet on my wrist. Look, we play poker for a living. Spotting bluffs isn't that hard. Regardless of my suspicions of this guy, and what I viewed as an ongoing threat of him planting land mines along the way, in hopes of trapping me in some 'situation' I couldn't (or WOULDN'T) be allowed to even explain my way out of....I played the good little monkey. Saying all the right things. Smiling the smile. Writing nice things about him. Never criticizing Caesars for things I viewed as easy to criticize.  Some of you who work in corporate-based jobs understand what I'm talking about. It's sometimes known as kissing ass to get ahead. Or in my case, kissing ass to stay on the 'Able to Perform List.' 

I knew, and had it confirmed for me by numerous people within WSOP, whether it was dealers, floor people or administrative people, that this guy was 'utterly pissed' when I was allowed back in. That he would be, and would have other people, watching my every move. Looking for any reason to be able to put me back on the 'Bad Guy' list and go to his handlers/managers with the message of  'see, what did I try to tell you! That this guy Will Souther is a bad seed, not worth letting back in.' And in his mind, he would be vindicated. Pretty easy to understand. What I don't understand? Is why? All these players on the circuit, all the things to worry about...and I garner so much of this guys attention. To be honest, its kind of disturbing and creepy. 

Well, so that was my main drive in playing these Non-Caesar's Circuit events, and try to qualify for the that I would be given the proper forum to tell my side of the story. The petition drive that Scotty Clark started was nice. The comments were great. Did it help? I guess not, because I sent the whole package, including my entire explanation of the events from October 2012 in Hammond, to the Security Manager in Hammond. I was hopeful to get that 86 removed, which would in turn make it possible for me to have WSOP/Caeser's Entertainment management in Vegas to totally lift the ban that had unfairly been placed on me. [In case you aren't aware of this deal...and don't feel like scrolling back to October to read up on it...a part time dealer, of Belarusian background mistook my statement of "would you care to escort me to get my $1000" after cashing for $954 in the first event up there...and being one of the dealers assigned to walk each player that had busted, back to the well-hidden payouts area, for "would you like to be my escort for $1000?" Goes to management, tells them I offered her $1000 for sex, and next thing you know, I'm being thrown off the property two days later in the middle of an event I had already doubled up in, and wasn't given a refund on my buy-in. It's a bit more complicated than that...but this is a pretty good summary of the events that occurred there.]

So, uh...yeah. I got NO response from Hammond. And later, a guy who is a 7-Star with Caesars and who was out to a concert and dinner with the GM for Caesar's in the SE region, and who is one of my investors in my shares...asked the guy "do you know what the deal is with a friend of mine," and before he even got my last name out...the guy knew who he was talking about. Didn't have to go look it up on the computer. Knew the whole story. "Oh yeah...that guy? He's never getting back in. I talked to the GM (a woman, who of course I've never met) from Hammond and she said that when he was up here he was horrible!"  Huh? I was literally there for 4 days. I played Day 1a of the first big event....all day long...bagged my chips, and went to my hotel.  The next day I played the nightly tourney. Lost, then played about two hours of cash game...then left with all four of my roommates. Came back the next day for Day 2 of that big tourney....played until 5pm. Basically min-cashed, then got right into a Mega Satellite, which I played until 11pm, and won. I then left. I never played a SNG the five days I was there. On Sunday, I took the day off to watch NFL games and work on my pools. Then on Monday, I play the nooner, get a nice stack, and get ambushed and kicked out.  I was horrible while I was there? I heard that, and immediately smelled a rat. What's my theory?

Well, my theory is that this 'certain individual' at Caesar's/WSOP who was forced to reinstate me in 2010...probably made a little phone call to this person I've never met before, the GM of Hammond...and shared some info with her about me. In an attempt to make sure that their Head of Security NOT grant me reinstatement. This is the same guy who, back in 2008, when he needed a way to keep me out of New Orleans' final WSOP circuit hopefully cause me to fall short in the chase for the Freeroll (his mission failed, I qualified anyway) he contacted one of his confidants in Atlantic a casino I had never even PLAYED IN before...and had him slip an 86 into the system on me. True story. Because one of my own 'insiders' told me that they were able to pinpoint where this 'trespass/86' originated. It came from this place in Atlantic City...where I hadn't even visited. Sneaky, eh?'s my understanding that WSOP Vegas' management and/or legal team discovered this information...and turned the heat up on this guy who has made it his mission to make my poker life a living hell. While I was given assurances by many that after getting reinstated, I really didn't have anything to worry about...that in fact, there was probably MORE pressure on that guy, due to the unscrupulous way he had gone about trying to sabotage my efforts to play the World Series events. Regardless of that, I remained skeptical. I guess the longer you inhabit this planet, the more cynical you are...almost expecting bad shit to happen.

Frankly, I am so sick of all this ridiculousness. I have become almost completely disillusioned with the whole game of poker. Caesar's now has a basic monopoly on tournament poker. We are paying ungodly amounts of juice now...and there is nothing we can do about it. We are forced to play these big events...$500, $1000...even more sometimes, smashed into tables...10 of us most of the time, or 9 of us on stud tables. It's offensive. We don't receive comps. We don't get very good deals on hotels. We are often times treated like a bunch of pre-schoolers by the floor staff. I mean, I understand that to an extent, poker players are pretty close to BEING a bunch of pre-schoolers sometimes...but when you are on the bubble, and you have these people shouting at you to stay seated, to NOT go sweating the other tables...OR ELSE! Or else you will get a one-round penalty. I guess, as a kid growing up with a physically and mentally abusive stepfather, I'm not real keen on being told what to do in dictatorial fashion. Especially by the people who exist courtesy of the outrageous fees we pay to play in their tourneys.  I mean...I used to let all this shit bother me. I would rant and rave and blog and post on Facebook about it. I don't anymore. Why? Nothing will ever change. And I'm not naive or delusional enough anymore to think my 'mighty voice' would or will ever bring about positive change in poker. I used to actually care. I used to WANT to be the guy who led the charges for good against evil. I was so idealistic. So hopeful. So optimistic. I was just stupid. And being me on a lot of people's bad side. Being on the bad side of the 'poker mafia' isn't a good place to be.

So now? I show up (where I am allowed to play) and play. I take my bad beats with a grain of salt. I save my criticism of the players for small conversations among my friends, or the occasional mention of the situation either here or on my Facebook. But never at the table anymore. When an event is done, I try to thank as many dealers and staff members as possible for having me. I'm really trying to be everything they want me to be. Period. Not because I like it all the time. But I just want the negativity attached to my name to disappear. Will it ever happen? I don't know. I know it has with a lot of people. But everyone? Who knows? All I can do is make the effort. 

So oh...sorry, back to my conversation with that anonymous WSOP staffer. Basically, in a nutshell, it was their feeling that I am really fighting an uphill battle. That there just aren't very many people interested in 'my side' of the story. The advice given to me, was to let about a year go by...keep my nose clean. Play where I can, leave a good impression at those places...and after about a year, simply reapply for reinstatement. Told me that it shouldn't be anything that results in me being banned forever or even more than a year. Stated that there are examples of numerous players having been banned for far more egregious acts that are allowed back in after just 6 to 12 months.  I asked if there would be any sense in trying to get a face-to-face meeting with the ONE person within the WSOP who I think might actually be above buying into the BS story that has been concocted, and who knows enough about the history and the back story between me and this other person at possibly hear me out and do something to help me. This person wasn't honestly sure if that would help or not. Said it might be worth a shot. Like if I'm in Vegas this summer, to just attempt to get 30 minutes with him. So maybe that is what I will do.

It's funny. Some of you know me really well. Some of you know me very little. Some of you still...just know what you know from a few fleeting moments at a table with me, either recently, or years ago. For those who 'really' know me...none of what I have just said comes as a surprise to you. Today, I logged on here to see how many (if any) unmoderated comments I had to either publish or delete. Every time I do this...I kind of brace there seems to always be a handful of nice and supportive emails, but then always that 'hater' comment. And today was no different. There it was. QQ in the main event in Palm Beach getting busted by the internet twerp who at one time was down to crumbs (27k at 1200/2400) before I doubled him up (me KQ him AJ) gets snapped off when he (again) min-raises to 12k....only to call my shove in the BB for 55k with the queens...holding K6. He spiked a king...and instead of having 130k at 3k/6k and having a legit shot to get back on track for a final table run, I was out. Well...this 'hater' suggested 'karma' had a role in this. That I was being paid back for all the years of being an asshole.  Told me what a loser I was. How I would never win a big event again. Because I am basically doomed to failure. Those comments never come with a name. They are always Anonymous. And they always sound about the same. I mean, I'm I can't say they don't bother me at least a little bit. But I don't let them eat at me too bad. 

Congratulations to my good poker buddies...Clint Tolbert, Mark Rose and Nancy Birnbaum, for their great runs in the Main Event at Palm Beach. Always nice to see good people and those I respect and admire making nice scores in this aggravating profession of ours. I know for most of us...a good score gives us more relief than unadulterated joy...and to be honest, that's pretty sad.  I'm ready for a little relief!


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