Saturday, July 27, 2013

Choctaw...Here We Go!!!

What a crazy week!

I was supposed to be getting up here on Tuesday. But here it is Saturday, and I just got in early this morning. And for some stupid reason (maybe the hard mattress...or maybe the 'homies' out in the parking lot at 8am showing off their new booming speakers in their Olds Cutlass with the rims that are worth more than the car itself...that had my room vibrating, and me feeling like I was in Jurassic Park) I couldn't sleep very well. 

So I decided to do all the necessary updates and accounting work for the poker club...and after that went ahead and paid ALL my bills for August. Something is so liberating about paying your bills...all of them...before the month even arrives.  Pretty sure I've eliminated any and ALL distractions that may come my way this week while I am here searching for that 'big score' that will allow me to put a cash down payment on a house...and get out from the 5-year rental we have been stuck in. I hate...HATE...paying rent. But when you're listed occupation is 'Professional Gambler' and your wife's is 'Cocktail Waitress' and your living in the post-housing bust era...getting a home loan is a lot more difficult, and requires about 25% down. Hence...I go seeking that 25%!!!

I caved in against my earlier reluctance and finally bought an iPad Mini last week. One nice feature on it is the Mobile Hotspot...which allowed me to finally get rid of that stupid Verizon Jetpack,..which sucked...but which I was under contract on until July 1st. GONE! $20 a month off my bill. I used the Hotspot for my entire 700 mile drive up here yesterday...and while driving played in every one of my 19 club games yesterday. As an incentive to make each game worthwhile, I placed a $10 bounty on myself in every game. I paid out $150 in bounties. I had $325 in total buy ins. I won $520 with 6 cashes. Yeah...if you are a mathematician,  you've figured out that I broke DEAD even! But we had one of our best Fridays, numbers-wise...ever. And talk about cutting down on the boredom of the drive. It went by SO fast. 

Earlier this week...while in Gulf Shores with Squirrel, Carley, and Cheryl's family, I shuttled back and forth to Pensacola to work on my rental house. Lucky me...on the 2nd of 3 days there, I had a couple guys happen by and offer their assistance for, which to me was VERY affordable, $9 per hour. I used them for 5 hours on Monday and 5 hours on Tuesday....gave them both a little extra, and marveled at how much we managed to get accomplished.  It actually made me really miss that great little house and almost wish we could move back into it. I had some great memories in that house. I really loved living in Pensacola, it really is a great little city. Well, my property manager has found me a new tenant...a Marine...who will be moving in this week! So after 14 months of sitting vacant...I finally will have some revenue coming in from that house! Awesome!

While working in the yard over there, the day I was alone, I suffered some form of heat stroke. I was feeling nauseous...and walked into the house and before I knew it...woke up sometime later...with a bump on the back of my head where I had hit the wall after fainting...and my cell phone on the other side of the room. Whoa! I still felt nauseous...so I went into the bathroom and sat under the cold water of the shower for about 15 minutes before I felt somewhat normal again. I called Cheryl and told her what happened, reluctantly, knowing she would order me home. She tried...but I HAD to get that house done. And so I stayed and worked til dark. Later...weird things started happening. Little blocks of my memory were missing. It was weird. And then...and this one was real freaky...I poured a glass of milk. I drank half the glass. Then saw some cookies on the counter. Decided to refill my glass and dip some cookies in it. I started pouring the milk...and despite looking right at the glass...just kept filling it...til it overflowed and spilled all over the counter and onto the floor, before I finally stopped. "What am I doing!???" I stood there, stunned, looking at the milk all over the counter and floor. Spooky. Any brain doctors out there care to tell me what the hell happened to me? Not to mention all the crazy ass dreams I've been having this week!

Football season is almost here! I can't wait. Never been this excited! Although...my Seattle Mariners have been on fire...winning 9 out of their last 10 until losing in 13 innings last night despite King Felix pitching 9 innings and only giving up 1 run...bringing a 1-0 shutout into the ninth before giving up a run. Bummer. I know they are 10 out...but nothing is impossible. 

I would be a lot more excited about my Seahawks if I didn't just hear that Percy Harvin, who we gave up a LOT to get from Minnesota, might be out for 6 weeks or longer with a hip injury. Great. Not the news you want to hear on the opening day of training camp.

Been laying in my room watching this special on HBO about women in Pakistan who have asshole husbands who threw acid in their face. Apparently, this acid-in-the-face thing is real big in the Middle East and Southeast Asia...and considered by Sharia Law to (in some instances) be justifiable. How do we EVER think we will EVER see eye-to-eye with these barbarians? I mean...taking reporters hostage and cutting off their fucking heads? That's one thing. But to hit on a woman...be rebuked...then break into her house and pour acid on her face because she won't have you? Destroying her life? What kind of human does that? There has GOT to be a special place in hell for those guys, doesn't there? I sure hope so. And if for some reason I go to hell (sure hope not) I will assume those pricks will be in their own little area where fellow hellions can pass by them and do unspeakable things to them. The shit that goes on every day on this planet just boggles my mind.

I hate reality shows. And I've gotten SO sick of all the damn music/talent shows. But....B-U-T....there is a show I have decided I like. And it has nothing to do with the talented performers. It has everything to do with my crush since I waited on her and Seal when I lived in Los Angeles in 1997 and worked at the Hotel Mondrian....Heidi Klum. I can't get enough of her. And unlike most models...she is smart, witty, and funny. And at over 40...her body is just as banging as its ever been. In case you think I'm being disrespectful to my wife...hey...she has Matthew McConaughey to fawn over, which she has done since I've known her. Fair enough...guy is a stud. I get it. And she knows how I feel about Heidi Klum. Oh...yeah...so America's Got Talent? New favorite show.

The November Nine...or October Nine...or whatever the hell they are calling it now...is set, and unfortunately my buddy Chris Lindh didn't make it. Sucks. But I see he has been utterly enjoying his winnings...doing a lot of partying. Good for him. I think the beast from Sacramento, JC Tran will win the thing. I think, and this is only my opinion, that they really need to stop the ridiculous two or three month delay between playing the final table. It's stupid. I mean, seriously...who likes this? 

Fall out from the David 'Doc' Sands saga? As far as I can tell...there was NONE. No reprimand. No suspension. Nothing. So Drew McIlvain gets kicked OUT OF the Main Event in Tunica...for almost the IDENTICAL thing...but Doc Sands gets nothing in the way of discipline? Awesome! Gotta love that double standard, alive and well in the WSOP. Oh well, if there is a lesson to be learned, its that you should strive to win a bracelet, or a televised big event somewhere...so you TOO can become on of poker's 'untouchables.' Cuz dammit, that is just how the business of poker seems to be conducted. Oh well, life isn't fair sometimes, is it?

So this damn baby in England has FINALLY been born, right? Good gawd, were you as sick of hearing about this shit as I was? What the American press doesn't ever let you hear, is just HOW much the English people despise the Royal family...for all of the wealth they plunder, while Great Britain continues to struggle in economic squalor. The millions spent on the Royal Wedding was like a big 'fuck you' to all those people struggling to make ends meet in their country. I mean...I do think Kate Middleton is beautiful and classy and all that, and she seems very nice. But for fuck's sake...I don't care about up-to-the-minute reporting on how close she is to having her baby. And poor kid...from the time he left the womb he is gonna have cameras in his face. Whatever. Have a nice life, kid.

Well, bout time to start getting ready for my first event....today's noon tourney is a $550 buy in...oh, plus $10 'staff fee'...yes, the event is being run by Jimmy Sommerfeld, they always like to kick a little bit extra to their worker bees. I think its a 200k Guarantee if I'm not mistaken. No idea of the structure...but I expect its probably pretty good. All the tourneys up here are re-entries, so I really have to be careful about getting into hands with maniacs who are 'gambling it up' early. Try to manage the pots as much as possible if I can. I really am not interested in burning up a lot of multiple buy ins...especially since I've elected to play this event 100% on my own dime. The Main Event is next Friday and Saturday...with a Day 1a and 1b...and costs $1600. I will definitely play it either way...but will certainly try to satellite into it.

I've only been gone from home for less than 24 hours...and I already miss Carley Grace so much. She has gotten so clingy on me...it's so sweet. We have gotten into this little habit of taking her first nap of the day...usually sometime around 11-2...together in our bed. It is one of those things I cherish...that I will always remember when I'm old and decrepit and she is a young woman. Just looking down at her, laying on my chest...with her soft breath on my neck...I can't describe it. She is the most amazing little thing I could have ever dreamed of having in my life. Being away from her is torture. But it helps keep me focused, and reminds me of what I'm playing for. No goofing off. And going home...whether I run good, or run like shit...is always something now where there is a guaranteed pot of gold at the end of that rainbow. Sorry...being a little sappy...just really missing my baby this morning!  :)


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Up Next: Gulf Shores with Family, Then Choctaw...for Poker.

Well, I think the wave of controversy has passed! On the day I posted my last blog I got 300 hits. Then the next day...when the 2+2'ers caught wind of my post...and someone posted it there...I got 744...then it went down...to 320, 240, and finally...a normal day's worth at 110. The thread over on 2+2 is up to 32 pages...and some are calling my friend...who revealed himself in the post, Barth Melius...as a one-post legend...for his 'well-written and unbiased' account of what occurred at his WSOP Main Event table...and which surely would have resulted in some MAJOR controversy had the Poker Gods not brought the karma-induced 5 on the river for David 'Doc' Sands. Think maybe the staff at WSOP (and likely Sands himself) took a collective sigh of relief when that five hit the river.

In case you're wondering what became of the old man who lost his father that day? Who now had quite a healthy chip stack? Well...his chips returned, but he didn't, getting blinded out of the biggest tourney on Earth, so he could fly home (India was what I'm hearing he was from) to be with his dead father and presumably see to the funeral arrangements. 30 pages of conversation about this topic on 2+2 made for some very interesting reading. http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/29/news-views-gossip/thoughts-doc-sands-hand-2013-wsop-main-event-1351227/

At one point...one reader identifies another reader as a guy who previously owed him $50...and they conduct their own little 'love spat' over several pages of the thread. Pretty stupid, but at times entertaining. For the record, Doc Sands himself, who HAD to have heard about the thread...never once ducked in to leave his comments, or offer an explanation. And for that matter, my friend Barth chose to take the high road (a lot having to do with the fact he's been tucked away at a no-internet-having retreat somewhere in the Georgia mountains for the past week) and not leave any kind of follow up comments or answer any questions. The 2+2 crew can get pretty rough...and its usually a good idea to just steer clear of their courtroom tactics!

So, a couple of their readers who read my post, made comments alluding to my 'credibility' because of my ad banner for Lock Poker on this site. Now, I know Lock has had some major issues with getting people paid out in a timely manner. As I write this, I've just received an email yesterday that my most recent (6 weeks ago) cashout request for $3,000 has just been processed and is being express mailed to me. So that makes three cashouts this calendar year that I have gotten from them. One thing I've noticed is that their numbers are down quite dramatically. It used to be when I logged on there would always be between 4,000 and 5,000 players online. And lately, its been between 1,500 and 2,500 usually. Which sucks for a worldwide server. But it's been great for all the overlays that their guarantees are forced to pay out. I don't know what the big hangup with people regarding Lock is, other than the cashout issues....but some of these people left comments that were just nasty. Like...I am knowingly cheating and stealing from my friends by being a part of Lock. Huh? How am I stealing from them? Or cheating them? I don't get their money. By signing up under my affiliate link...they are just getting themselves 35% rakeback. Period. How do I gain from them? I don't! And if they sign up using the bonus code 'thefuture' they get 200% on their deposit. That has nothing to do with me either.  

Hell, I don't know, I think sometimes, people just need something to bitch about. And poker players being poker players...one way to piss them off the most, is by not paying them...or making them wait. The way it's been explained to me...is that because Lock dares do business in the US, where other poker sites have chosen to honor the DOJ's order to stay out...it requires them to do a lot of bobbing and weaving...stick and moving...when it comes to who they find to process their checks. The check processors have to be VERY careful too...so it's a little bit of artful dodging involved, I think. I know that all three checks I've gotten from Lock have been from different banks and/or processors. So...if you are someone who plays on Lock..or wants to, just keep that in mind. And I might also suggest sending frequent payment requests to their cashier department. Seems to help.

Meanwhile...on my own poker club on Pokerstars...I've been getting thrashed. Lots of bubbling. Lots of losing in the most incredulous fashion possible. I have a gal who is a member that also went out to Vegas to play in the Main Event. Discouraged after a bust out in one of the prelim events, I made an attempt to kind of reel her in, talking her down from the ledge, and explaining all the reasons why I thought she should play the Main Event. She did...and wound up cashing...for somewhere in the neighborhood of 450th place or so. I was really happy for her, and proud to have a poker club member who cashed in the main. Joining her was another one of our players, who got even deeper. We have some really decent players in my poker club...to be sure. But holy cow...we also have some major donkeys!!!!

Well, the other night, I'm playing with this gal...and when we got heads up...she had me 3 to 1. I managed to double up on a hand. Then on the very next hand...I raise with QQ. I think the blinds were like ...oh I don't recall, but I raised 2.5x the blinds. She calls....with NINE DEUCE...off suit. The flop comes J-10-9. I had about 5400 in my stack...and she fires out 4200...which was about twice the pot. I go all in obviously...she has to call, whether she has anything or not. Turn is a 9. River is a 9. I couldn't believe it. I said nothing. She said nothing. But later on her Facebook wall, I see her post "Played some online poker...and made a really terrible play...(describing the hand)." Well...okay, at least she acknowledge that it was a horrible play. Regardless...it was one of my higher buy in tourneys...and I was really needing a win. It's been that kind of week. 

But the club is going great. The numbers HAVE picked up since WSOP ended...and I have taken in 4 or 5 new players in the past week or so. I still have about 20 open spots in the club and would love to get some more new blood in there, especially with players who are serious about playing a good amount. If you are interested in getting into my Pokerstars Homegame Poker group...email me and I will get you some information on how to join.  ThePokerMonkey1@aol.com.

I've finally made my poker plans for the next 30-45 days. I've decided to play Choctaw on my own dime...see if I can make that work for me. I was going to go up...well today, actually...and play the whole event, but then I found out my wife's family is coming down from North Alabama for a week at the beach in Gulf Shores...and I didn't think it would be very nice of me to jet off to Oklahoma and miss all of them, plus...what's not to like about 3 or 4 days in Gulf Shores? Also, I need to get over to Pensacola to put the finishing touches on what needs to be done on my rental house over there. I worked on the yard a little bit last week...and this week, found out that my leasing company has FINALLY found me a tenant. And it's a dream tenant. (knock on wood) A Marine! Can you say: Reliable? Respectful? Organized? Dependable? I can't think of someone I'd rather have living in my rental house! So I will spend parts of Sunday and Monday doing yard work and other stuff to get it ready for him to move in sometime in late July or August. So psyched to have that finally out of the way. It's been vacant for the past 15 months. Brutal!

So we will stay there til Tuesday....then I come home, not even unpack, then drive to Choctaw the next morning...where I am staying off site from the casino because everything up there is booked up. Which is fine. I will get about a week's worth of tourneys to play, including the Main Event. Hopefully I can make a decent score somewhere...since I'll be playing for 100% of myself for a change. 

After that, I will come home for Squirrel's birthday on August 4th...then on August 11th, Kai Landry is having his big poker tourney at his house for that big, ugly ass trophy that I won last year! It should be a really fun night. Then a few days later, I will drive down to South Florida to play the back end of the Hard Rock event...which actually starts around August 4th. That will be a huge field down there...and should attract some really good players. A good friend of mine, Chris Lindh...who made a pretty deep run in the Main Event...before busting 16th I think (for about $357k) is talking about going down for that event...hope he does, he is always a lot of fun to hang out with. Probably in a damn good mood right about now too! And he knows I'm one of the few poker player friends who he doesn't have to worry about badgering him for staking deals. I'm serious, one of the worst things about being a somewhat well-known poker player...and making a nice score...is the ridiculous amount of calls and emails you get from fellow players giving all their wonderful presentations on why you should want to back them. It's really irritating. Anyway, I'm so happy for Chris...he's really been through some major BS the past couple years...and some tough times. He's a great dude, and really deserved having something good happen to him like this. I just wish he'd have made the final table.

I only really know one guy at that final table...and he is someone I've called the 'Player I fear the most' in poker. JC Tran. Dude is absolutely insane...just a beast. Plays anything. Bluffs like a motherfucker. Has zero tells. The guy is just an awesome poker player. I have been waiting for him to make a big final table like this. Really kind of surprised it took as long as it did. I fully expect him to run over that final table. 

So that's it. Choctaw, on my own dime. Hard Rock...on no one's dime yet...depends on how Choctaw goes. Some time with the family. Some yard work, both here in Biloxi and over in Pensacola. And before we know it...football will be starting up!!! Hallelujah!!! Can't wait!

I was going to offer my views about this whole Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman verdict and chaos afterwards...but decided I wasn't in the mood to get myself riled up. Plus...I'm sure you are all just about sick of hearing about it. So I will refrain!


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Double Standards, Hypocrisy, and Vendetta the Recipe for Success? Or Failure for WSOP?

Okay. Now that I have your attention. A lot of you are reading this because you like flocking to ambulances to see how many victims there are. Some of you are reading this to see if it's me trying a 'new angle' to shoehorn my way back into the 'good graces' of the WSOP, or by somehow using a 'story' to force them to let me back.

Let me stop you right there. As for victims? Well..there really can only be a maximum (probably) of two people in this sordid tale. For those who think this is a once-in-a-decade occurrence? It's certainly not. It's just the only one I've felt was worth sharing with the world, and effectively, the Poker Community. A community that I once cared about extensively as a person who planned to make a career out of playing poker for a living. For a long time. 

Well, a lot of things have led to that 'goal' being, for the most part, extinguished. One, being the vendetta-driven mission of the WSOP's face of poker...Jack Effel. My 'issues' with Jack go back to 2005...when I admittedly was a handful to deal with. I made (and this is the only one I will EVER admit to as being WRONG) a horrible decision one night during a circuit event in New Orleans at a sit n go late at night. You might have heard the story. I fired my remaining chips...which I was going to have blinded off after getting a penalty for using the 'f' word, but not at the table....at ANOTHER table...three tables over, where a friend was playing his own SNG. Upon returning to the table, I was told I was on a one round penalty...then the floor person's eyes glanced in the direction of the player who had 'called me out on it' as I'd been warned against using any 'bad words' about half an hour prior to that. (it had been one of 'those' crazy days of drinking in N'awlins with some poker buddies)

Well, that resulted in me snapping on the guy...who I'd been owning in SNG's that whole day. His only way to beat me, apparently, was to have me penalized, thus blinding me out. I made mention of that in a few 'colorful' terms...and fired my chips at him....telling him..."If you can't win my chips on your own...I will go ahead and give 'em to ya, you blah ba dee bah!" I knew when I did it I was out of line. Way out of line! I told the floor guy "I know...I'm out of here. I will throw myself out..." and did just that. Leaving for the night. Upon returning the next day, and registering, and playing three levels, I was surrounded by security, and told I was being 86'd. Ugh. And so began...the long, painful, irritating, and at most times...ridiculous and unfair road with Jack Effel.

Just so that we are clear. I NEVER had anything against Jack Effel up til 2006. As a matter of fact, I liked him. And respected him. Would approach him all the time at circuit events seeking advice, or sharing interesting stories. Jack is, or would be...an excellent politician. He is great at making you think he cares. Or likes you. Or gives a shit about anything, for that matter. Jack will shower you with praise to your face...then turn right around and tear you to shreds in a conversation with someone important to you. He will tell you he is rooting really hard for you to win a bracelet, then ten minutes later...encourage floor people and dealers to find a reason...ANY reason...to see that Will Souther never comes back to another WSOP event. Why you ask? Why ME? Or...is it me, and 100 others like me? I can't be sure. I do know, for a FACT...that the trail of former dealers who have come and gone through the doors of the WSOP have many, many revealing stories about 'His Highness.' I've never shared those stories. And won't today. Because, if you want to put a label on those stories, they really are just 'He-Said, She-Said' stories. And while I happen to believe all of them I've heard...there is no factual basis.

As for my current 'mess' with WSOP? My mess was just that, a mess. A dealer from Belarus, who come to find out...is/was a 'mail-order bride,' married to some old guy in South Florida, but dating a fellow dealer from France, with a chip on her shoulder, an infrequent part-timer on the WSOP circuit, with a past history of getting into 'spats' with other players...and who completely misunderstood a statement that every other human on Earth managed to understand (except ONE! shocking)...found a dealer who was a kiss ass looking to advance on the WSOP ladder...and who KNEW that I had a 'thing' with Effel...where anything bordering on 'career-threatening' would be scooped up by the Poker Czar and used against me.  And so he walked her in...to the shift manager...who alerted security...who then...well...shit rolls downhill. A little phone call to the Casino manager followed later...'persuading' said person to reject my letter attempting to get reinstated to the Horseshoe Hammond on the basis of a simple misunderstanding, that anyone with a shred of common sense could see. No...it was hammered home that this person, this Will Souther...was a career problem child, and that under NO circumstances should he be allowed back. 

See...the thing is, if you are banned from just ONE property...guess what? You are...for lack of a better word: F-U-C-K-E-D.

Witness, this summer. David Diaz. A friend to me and Cheryl both...and to many players in the poker world. David is a sweet guy. When he drinks, and he will admit this to anyone I think...he becomes a bit of a nightmare. Saying things he doesn't really mean. Doing things he later regrets. David is a living poster for what and how NOT to act when drinking. Okay. Fair enough. He has a flaw. Has David ever done anything that warrants his exclusion from a poker tourney? Hmmmm...not to my knowledge, and trust me, I'm pretty sure I'd have heard. David happens to also have won a WSOP bracelet...that coming two years ago...and treated a large number of his friends (Cheryl and I included) to an all-expenses paid (along with Omar Hikary) day of food and drinks at Omar's swanky condo in Las Vegas. It was a fantastic day. Beautiful weather, great food and drink, and a gathering of about 15-20 of us. Bottom line...David is a 'good guy.' Period.

So David and some friends are at the Carnival Court at Harrah's one night early this summer. If anyone has ever been to Harrah's in Las Vegas...you will know that they employ these 'gentleman' in yellow shirts...who's sole job is to go around strong-arming guests. Pulling rank. Not listening to explanations. Pulling the trigger. I guess it gets them off. I've pretty much always hated bouncers. As I suspect most of us do and/or have in our life. They are thugs. They are generally uneducated, and completely lack any people skills, or the ability to reason. I actually have more respect for the bathroom attendants than bouncers. Well, David stepped out of line. Said something 'inappropriate' or got argumentative, or something. Didn't hit anyone. Didn't threaten anyone. Didn't break anything. Or stiff a bill. Nope none of those things. He just got mouthy.  And what happened? You know what happened. Mr. Yellow Shirt showed David who had 'the power' and after taking his ID...did the necessary paperwork to make sure David couldn't step into another Caesar's-owned property until he had his 'mess' cleared up. Which is like a 15-year old trying to clear up problem acne.

Well, he was playing in the 6-handed $3k a few days later....and was suddenly surrounded (fun feeling, being surrounded by a security 'posse' and having no fucking clue why-been there!) and told he was being 86'd from the tourney...and the property. BOOM! Your World Series is OVER Mr. Diaz! Thanks for coming out!

At what point do personal injury lawsuits become a very real possibility for us poker players who have chosen to make this a career, against those who have used their 'power' to put us in the lifetime penalty box? Now, in the case of this bozo security guard? It's just another day in paradise for this $9-an hour mutt...he doesn't care who he is hurting. Why should he? But as a casino executive? I have to ask...don't you think maybe a little 'sensitivity' training for your goons would serve to create better customer/gambler relationships? In a time when the economy is down...when Vegas revenue numbers are down..in fact, the casino industry nation wide is down...wouldn't it be in your interest to NOT have misfits of society with IQ's of cucumbers driving away your customers?

I think we all understand that you CAN'T sue most casinos. You are very rarely going to win. They will fight you and your contingency-based lawyer with a band of lawyers who will never run out of money. And win or lose, you are NEVER stepping foot in that casino again. It doesn't matter HOW right you are. How wronged you've been. Doesn't matter. That is just a painful, sad, and discouraging reality. But it is what it is...so you accept it and move on. And forget about suing an Indian Casino! Which now constitutes what seems like the majority of casinos in this country now. They are considered 'sovereign nations' who can't be sued. Ohhhhhh...to be a Chief with your own casino. What a racket!!!!

Am I pissing you off yet with my slow lead in? I bet. But to adequately share this story with you...I felt like it was necessary to share a little 'warm up' story with you. Or stories. See..a lot of people will hear this, and the first they will say is "Oh...please! Was it Will Souther who said all that? He's just pissed off and bitter at WSOP and would say anything! Fuck that guy." Yeah...I get that. But this? I happen to know that this story is about to be making its rounds on 2+2...being posted anonymously (I think) by the person who witnessed it. What he ISN'T posting....is the reaction by 'The King.' When I asked him why? He gave me a very interesting, yet calculated response. 

"I think the allegations, and the way in which they were (or weren't) handled, pretty much speaks to the problem with the leadership of the WSOP in itself. The fact I spoke at length to known pros (who's names I will withhold out of respect to them-some as friends) who after hearing the story, encouraged me to take it to Jack Effel...tells me that I did what I should have done. His response...was baffling. And left me never wanting to participate in a WSOP event again."

What was that response? Well...let's let you hear the story first. And all I am going to do is cut/copy/paste his words. I will NOT tell you who this person is. Some of you might already know. Some of you might figure it out on your own. He is a respected business owner, and a stand up guy, who has the respect of almost everyone who knows him. I asked him for permission to share this story, and he said 'sure' and didn't even ASK that I not use his name. But I think it's the right thing to do...as knowing his name won't do anything to further the story. You obviously know it isn't ME...since I wasn't anywhere NEAR Las Vegas on Day One of the Main Event!


On Monday July 8th I played in Day 1c of the Main Event. Shortly before the final level of the day, I was moved to Amazon and was seated in the 9 seat, with Doc Sands to my right in seat 8. The rest of our table was old men, one may have been about 45-50, but the rest were 60+. One man, seated to Doc’s direct right in 7, had his suitcase packed up and sitting next to his chair. 

Joking, I ask Doc how he hasn’t busted the guy who is already packed up ready to get showered. Doc tells me that the guy’s dad passed away during the 2nd level and he is leaving after day 1 no matter what to go be with his family. I feel like an asshole, and offer my condolences to the man. He is clearly distraught, and his first Main Event experience ruined.

The floor announces 4 more hands in the night. We are all talking, and the man clearly has developed a table friendship with Doc. After saying he will not be back for Day2 or any subsequent day, the man tells Doc “if I could give my chips to anyone, I’d love to give them to you”. Doc thanks him for what I assumed was simply an attempt at a kind gesture. Then unsolicited, Doc tells the man that he feels so bad for him and his family, and he would like to give him a 1% freeroll on whatever he cashes for in the Main. He tells the man he can find and contact him on twitter. Hearing this exchange, I chime in and tell the man that if he has a charity that his dad liked, I would give 1% of anything I cash for to that charity.

The second to last hand of the night is dealt out, and I look down at 88. The man in 7 throws some chips in the middle to open UTG and after his long tank and pose, Doc slowly drops in a call. The hair on the back of my neck was standing straight up at this point, and despite the action and position I feel something bad happening here so I choose to muck and observe.

They are heads up to a flop of K-Q-J. The old man tosses out a bet, and Doc stays in his tank pose. The man looks at Doc and raises his eyebrows and hand as if to say it’s on you. Doc slowly drops in a call. The man turns towards Doc and says “All you have to do is raise, if you raise I fold”. The turn is a complete brick. The old man again tosses out a bet, this time about 10k, with about 20k behind. Doc goes into the pose tank again for quite a while. 

(my question, is, during this exchange...what in the HELL is the dealer doing? is he not hearing this conversation taking place and saying something about it?)

During his tank, the old man lifts his cards with his right hand onto the long side of the card and fans them out making them clearly visible, not just to Doc, but also to me in the 9 seat. Doc continues to “tank” then my jaw dropped stare catches his eye and he looks at me. Knowing I am aware of what is going on, Doc turns to the man and says “Sir, I just want you to know before I act, I saw your hand.”

 The dealer asks what happened, calls the floor over, and after explaining to the floor that he “accidentally” saw the man’s hand, the floor says well since it’s heads up, they need to finish the hand. The floor walks away, and after a little more tanking Doc Announces he is ALL-IN. The old man can’t wait to put the rest of his stack in for a snap call.

(the floor walks away? He doesn't inform the player that he will be receiving a 1-round penalty after the hand? For exposing his hand with action pending? Which IS the rule? Or does the fact they are down to the final two hands of the night somehow negate that?)

Doc: A7o

Old Man: 5d3d

There is not a diamond draw on the board. The man snap called it off with 5-high. And Doc jammed it in with A-high. I can only assume that Doc thought the man would fold, and the man thought Doc had to have a pair and he would be drawing dead with 5-high.

Doc is clearly shocked to be called and to have to turn his hand over. The old man seems clueless as to how bad it looks to turn over a 5-high snap call. The dealer taps the table, burns and turns over the river card.

Straight from the poker Gods, it’s a 5.

The old man cripples Doc with a pair of 5’s, leaving Doc with about 2,500 in chips.

Doc is stunned, staring at the board with his jaw dropped. The old man apologizes profusely over and over saying he didn’t want that to happen.

Clearly, had Doc won the hand, I was ready to jump out of my chair and go ballistic over the clear and obvious attempt at collusion/chip dumping. After collecting my thoughts, I felt that the cards took care of the situation for me.

I wasn’t sure if I had a responsibility to report the situation. The last hand was dealt out and completed, and we bagged and tagged. I immediately went to the table next to ours to grab a friend and respected professional to ask his advice. We also spoke to several other players with solid reputations in the poker community, and there seemed to be a split opinion on what if anything needed to be done.

So...there you go. That is the 'story,' as reported by a guy who I would trust with anything I own. Even my daughter. It gets better.

But first! Does anyone remember the story about Drew McIlvain in the Main Event in February 2012 in Tunica? At a WSOP circuit event? Pretty similar, in fact, nearly identical story....about an old man...who had no intention of coming back the next day, for whatever reason. Table chatter between the two...some of it heard by table mates. Old man appears to dump his chips to the younger McIlvain. A short while later...Drew is taken aside by a floor person...told that he is being kicked OUT of the tournament, and 86'd from the casino...making him ineligible for any other future WSOP tourneys. I had this brought to my attention (by phone, from a friend with Ante Up magazine)  while I was literally sitting in Las Vegas at Caesar's Palace playing in a tourney. Was asked if I would talk to this kid. Wasn't sure what bringing me into it was supposed to accomplish, but I did. I wasn't impressed. With him, or with his story. In researching him a little more,  and reading some of the comments he made regarding it...I really didn't like the guy. He was pompous, arrogant, and overly cocky. And where he could have really helped himself in certain interviews, he simply made it worse. Okay? So...great...a guy with a questionable character was kicked to the curb. 

How does the WSOP make it's decisions? Based on the rules? Or based on their opinion of that player? We have all (most of us anyway) heard about the double standards that seem to exist in poker. Guys like Scotty 'Hey Baby' Nguyen getting shit faced and cursing up a storm at the table...often times being abusive to dealers...other players being guilty of this...Mike Matusow, Gavin Smith...you know who they are. But do they EVER get even a warning? God forbid 86'd? Hell no. When Men 'The Master' Nguyen was cold BUSTED in a chip dumping scandal involving players he had put into the event...only to get caught with a bunch of their chips in his hotel room on a break...was he permanently banned from WSOP events? You know the answer to that. The list is long. Players getting out of their chair and cold-cocking other players AT THE TABLE...getting a 1-day cooling off ban. Not just average-Joe's though...no no...'name players.' And what is a 'name player' anyway?  The public who doesn't really play poker sees these guys as the GREAT poker players of poker. It's a joke...and every 'good' poker player knows it. Most of those GREAT poker players are broke or close to broke...and have horrible reputations within the 'actual' poker world. They became 'household poker GREATS' because they won or final tabled a televised tournament in the past 10 or 15 years usually. Or were 'legends' back when Main Events were played by less than 200 players. 

Why does the WSOP protect these guys? The way they do? Do they think they add something to the game of poker? I think I can say this with 100% confidence. Poker players who are in the game to win money? Don't give a rat fuck if they come to a tourney and see Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey, or Phil Galderson from Topeka, Kansas. (I apologize if there really is a guy named Phil Galderson in Topeka, KS who I've offended) The online scandal of the past two years pretty much diminished any 'hero' image that most of those guys had anyway. So again, I ask? Why the double standard? Why does one guy get 86'd for something that under the exact same circumstances...merits NO discipline for the 'name' player? How can they even begin to preach about upholding the rules, and fairness, and all the other crap that they spew? It's a joke.

Let's continue with the story. So after speaking to a handful of 'pros' and other players with extensive knowledge of the rules...and no axe to grind with Doc Sands...he is advised to take this to Jack Effel. So...coming back for Day Two, he comes up on Jack in the hallway of the Rio. Before he can even FINISH his sentence, Jack chimes in with "Oh, yeah...I already know about that. I knew about it 5 minutes after it happened. It's being taken care of. We pulled the surveillance on it and everything." To which my friend just stared back at him...thinking to himself, 'that's impossible. There is no way in hell he knew about this five minutes after it happened. No way.' 

Now, we can all say that Doc Sands was 'had' by 'karma' when the five hit the river...destroying his stack, and most likely his WSOP. So...let me ask...did Effel just decide (if he really did know about all this-conventional wisdom says him saying he knew about it already was just a defense mechanism he has learned along the way doing his job...where you just get ahead of the shit storm by acting like you already know about something...then racing off after the conversation and actually GETTING the information and dealing with it from there) that because Sands lost almost his whole stack, that discipline wasn't necessary, because he had essentially been dished out his 'punishment' when the 5 hit the river? Or...was there never any intention of passing down discipline to Sands because he is one of 'those guys' who's name is familiar to most in poker?

So...my friend took his 'toe the line' statement as predictable hyperbole and was walking away questioning why he even bothered wasting his time taking this up with the 'Face of the WSOP' in the first place.  When suddenly, Effel called back out to him:

"Hey! Just for the record (friend turns around...now about 5-10 feet away)...you just have to realize, at the end of the day, if you or I was put in that situation, we would do the exact same thing."

This...statement...from the person who is supposed to represent the WSOP on the grandest scale possible...put my friend on spin cycle. I immediately got a text...telling me he was so hot he couldn't think straight...and would likely never play another WSOP tourney again. That he went back in to the tourney (their conversation occurred during a break on Day Two) and tilted off the rest of his stack.

His response to Effel, was as I would expect it to be from this guy: "Are you kidding me? I, under NO circumstances, would EVER....E-V-E-R even consider doing that. And I am offended and shocked, that as the head of the WSOP you would even suggest it as being an option." After saying that he stormed off to his table...where he (as mentioned) dusted off the rest of his chips.

I don't even need to weigh in with my opinion on this exchange. Why? My reaction would only be seen as biased anyway. As for, 'would I take the old guy up on his attempts to dump me all his chips' angle? Or rather, question? I have never been a fan of cheating. And that IS a form of cheating. Yeah..its nice to get that 'gift' in poker...when someone ships you their whole stack...them holding nothing but two overs (AK) and you holding a set...and we all love it. It happens so rarely. But you are talking about another type of gift. You are talking about a gift that excludes the other 7 players at the table. And to blatantly participate in that? No way. I am also very fearful of karma...no shady deal goes unpunished. It might take awhile...or it could happen in the blink of an eye...as it did with Doc Sands. 

A lot of you might ask yourself the question: "what in the hell is Monkey's motivation for sharing this story? Payback to the WSOP? A personal grudge with Jack Effel? Doesn't he think he's been in ENOUGH trouble already?"

Fair questions. First let me answer the question about my motivation. My motivation is that poker will clean itself up. I am now the father...the proud father...of a little girl who I intend to spend as MUCH time with before I die as I humanly can. Which means...my days of chasing WSOP titles...bracelets, rings, points...all that...is OVER. By choice. Whether I am 'allowed' by His Highness to grace the hallowed grounds of the WSOP with my presence or not. Frankly, Scarlett...I don't give a damn! (so eloquently spoken by Clark Gable so many years ago!) I can no longer be 'hurt' by the likes of Jack Effel. Between you and me and a hole in the ground? I happen to think very highly of nearly EVERYONE at the WSOP with the exception of that one guy. I don't wish to see the WSOP fall apart or fail. Nope. Not at all. I think it's a great thing. And I think it should continue to go on getting stronger and enjoying worldwide recognition. But I think new leadership is required, to see that the future includes a level playing field for ALL the players, not just the CHOSEN ones.  How you can even begin to call yourself 'credible' when such a double standard, and such hypocrisy exists, is comical.

As for getting in trouble? I don't care. What 'trouble' am I going to get in? I have plenty of casinos I can still play in...and will demonstrate that by traveling to a great property in a week...to play the Cardplayer Poker Tour Choctaw event. After that, I will go to South Florida, and play at the beautiful Hard Rock Seminole in Hollywood....where they are guaranteeing a $10 million prize pool for their main event. I've already received emails from Jason who works down there in their marketing department, who has asked me to help 'get the word out' about their event. I really don't think it's necessary...since that event always draws exceptionally well. So that is two great events that I will play next. If I wasn't playing at Hard Rock, I'd be at another place playing...where I'm allowed...Foxwoods. If things go well at either Choctaw, or Hard Rock, or BOTH...I plan to hop a plane out of Miami...fly to Dallas, drive to Win Star Casino (also allowed) and play their huge Main Event called 'The River' that I've been trying to play for years. Once all that is done....I don't plan to leave Biloxi for a month, maybe two. If I want to play cash game here in Biloxi? Well, the Golden Nugget has finally taken over for the Isle of Capri and is doing a lot to improve their poker room...so I will give them my business. But I rarely go out to play cash game when I'm in Biloxi. It just bores me. And besides...I'd rather be at home...with my family...and play online in my own Pokerstars Homegame if I am playing anything. 

So that is it. That is your 'big story.' I'll let the maniacs on 2+2 do the brutal character assassinations that usually result from these kind of stories. I don't care enough anymore to get that deep into this shit. It kind of sucks, too. I mean, I used to REALLY care about poker, the players, the employees, and the state of the game as it related to me. Now? Not so much. For me...its just something to dabble in once in awhile, play a few events. Maybe make a nice lick here and there. Whatever. But when these kind of things happen? And the outcome is what it was? I'm sorry...but something HAD to be said...to be shared, with all of you who DO still give a fuck about poker.

Have a nice weekend.

Senor Monkey

Monday, July 8, 2013

Back from Vacation...Back to Grinding Online

Vacation is over. We are unpacked. Bills are paid. WSOP is winding down...actually the Main Event starts today...which has put kind of a bitter taste in my mouth. Last year at this time, I was just getting started on a decent 5-day run that ended a little sooner than I'd have liked, but which left me feeling that sense of having nearly come home a millionaire. I've resisted the temptation...actually haven't even thought about it really...to check all the event winners and final table participants. I finally looked today, mostly out of boredom. And to see if there was anyone I needed to congratulate.

I've been going over the upcoming schedule of tourneys for this summer and trying to decide what I want to go and play. I'm also trying to decide if I want to raise backing again...or just go and play for 100% all on my own dime. There are certainly strong arguments for both. On one hand...I'm finally in a place (financially) where I can definitely afford to go play an event on my own. And playing for 100% of yourself certainly is desirable. On the other hand...in poker, it's always a pretty good policy to avoid as much maximum exposure as possible when it comes to overhead. And with travel, hotel and food already a pretty significant expense...why further burden yourself with 100% of the buy ins if you don't have to? I mean...yeah...you might only be playing for 50% or less...but if the fields are big enough, and you aren't greedy...then any score that comes 1st-18th is usually a pretty okay hit. Furthermore...it's also kind of fun to have a lot (29 this summer) of people behind you, giving you encouragement. I wouldn't say it makes me play better, or keeps me more focused...but I do know that when I hit bad patches, the nice things they say to you can really help pull me out of the abyss sometimes.

So...I'm still juggling that option. As well as where I want to go and where I want to play. I usually go to events and play them from beginning to end. With my exclusion from the WSOP, well...any Caesar's owned properties at least...until something changes in their hierarchy...or common sense finally just wins out (not holding my breath on that one) it really doesn't matter to me now how much of an event I play...as long as I'm around for the Main Event. I can't stand being away from Carley...and that 20-day trip to Vegas was really tough. And right now...she is at the cutest stage...talking, I know, is just around the corner. Her little personality is developing so fast...she just marches all over the house...and there is now pretty well-established give and take with her in how we communicate. We had so much fun together in Washington State. I took her into the semi-cold lake with me...she liked it. Squirrel took her in the intertube with her behind the boat...she loved it. Then last night...we took her to the Barnum & Bailey Circus here in Biloxi...not knowing what to expect...and she loved it. She mainly loved the animals and their tricks...giggling every time they came out. She really loves animals...which makes me happy. I have always loved animals...so maybe she got that from me...or maybe just being around our two dogs since birth has made her love them. Not sure.

Anyway...the point is...I can't stand being away from her for very long. And if I am away from her...I damn well better be winning...because if I'm not...I really hate that I'm away from her. I was talking to my friend Kai Landry about it the other day when Carley and I went over to his house for lunch while Squirrel was at work. He mentioned (he has 3 little girls) how he used to hate leaving on a poker trip...and I remember now...didn't pay it all that much attention when it was happening...but now I guess I identify a lot more with it. Talked about how if we went somewhere, and he was running bad, it was like a double whammy...running bad, and being away from his girls. Yeah. No kidding. Makes so much sense to me now. I am so thankful that I am in a situation of being self-employed and not having to go grind out a 9-5 desk job everyday...only to come home, see my girl for a few hours before she goes to bed...then go back and do it all over again the next day...five days a week. Ugh! This will probably be my only shot at a child...and its great that I get to spend nearly every day with her for 10 hours or more. (til she goes to bed every night)

Sorry....I probably talk about Carley too much. Well...she's kind of the center of my universe, so....

So coming up in a couple weeks, we have the event up in Choctaw. I made my first trek up there a few months ago, and really liked what I saw. Great facility. Good staff, good dealers...and big fields. I said it then, I would like to go back. So I can't find a good reason to NOT go play that event this month. On top of it all, they have pretty fat guarantees on all their events...which isn't ever that much of a draw to me like it is some players (I call it the moth to the light marketing strategy) because I rarely see events that pay out an overlay. (although there have been a bunch of them on Lock Poker lately!!!) But the one good thing about guarantee tourneys? You can almost always expect them to draw well. Brings all those moths out of the closet!

The other event I am now 100% committed to going to play, mainly because I agreed to room with New Orleans native (and 2nd place finisher in the Main Event WSOP-C this year) Joseph Hebert...who is also a recent daddy, is the big event down at the Hard Rock Seminole in South Florida. Ton of events. And they always draw well down there. He is flying down on the 16th...which is a week after that event starts...and booked the room for 10 days...which would allow us to make the Main Event. So...I guess if I go to Choctaw a few days after it starts...and stay through their Main Event...then come home...that would give me a couple weeks (instead of just a few days) to be home with Carley and Squirrel and get all my affairs in order...before driving down for that other event.  Yes drive. I like driving down there. It's always nice to have a car down there...and to rent them they are really expensive down there for some damn reason.

Now this is where it gets tricky. I am already missing a WSOP-C event in August that I am allowed to play...at a casino I've never played, but have been trying to play for years. Foxwoods. I don't know when I will EVER finally get up to Connecticut to play at Foxwoods...some day I'm sure. Just not this go around. But the other event I've been trying to play for years...is 'The River' event at Win Star casino in Oklahoma...just a hop, skip and jump from Dallas, and Choctaw as well. Their Main Event happens a few days after Hard Rock ends....so I've kind of decided that if I have an above average trip to Choctaw and/or Hard Rock...that I will hop a plane (out of Miami) to Dallas, fly there, rent a car...and drive to Win Star and play that sucker....then when done, fly back to Miami...and drive home...hopefully with a nice bundle of cash! I'm sure a lot of you out there would like to have that little plan come into focus too, right? Well....can't do it if you don't give yourself a shot at doing it, right?

We (Cheryl and I) have a fantastic set up with Carley for when I do go out of town. Her babysitter is the greatest...and has a house like a daycare center. The cost is great. And she gets so much more specialized care. She usually has one or two other kids there...so Carley is getting to interact with other kids...which I think is really important to her growth. And her babysitter just adores her. We got lucky. For sure. She took care of Squirrel's best friend's kids for a long time...so she came really highly recommended. So at least when I am out of town...I know she is in great hands...and usually is having an awesome time...and its not too much of a burden on my wife.

Now I just need to decide (a) when I'm going to go for sure and (b) if I want to play backed or not. Maybe play one event backed and one not backed? Hmmm... tough call really. Probably should just play it safe, keep my expenses low...and give some people a chance to climb on my back and maybe make a little money again. I have no doubt I would sell out whatever package I put together pretty quick. I always seem to. And that...in itself, is a blessing that I am truly thankful for. But I've done a lot to cultivate that. With my pools, and my history of never screwing people over. Had a pretty long conversation this morning with a guy in my poker club on Pokerstars...and we got to talking about how incredibly 'douchey' some poker players are about 'selling packages' and then screwing over their investors with nickel and dime kind of shit.

Like deducting tips (I cover all my own tips out of my share) when they never even tipped. Like saying they played one event (bigger buy in) when they waited and played a smaller one..and pocketing the extra money. Wow. Well, my investors ALWAYS get a spreadsheet with each event...and are always entitled to a photo of my buy in receipt. I've heard players claim to not 'save' their buy in receipts. Huh? You're being backed and you don't keep your buy in receipt? Unreal. Players who get into 'chop spots' and report a completely different payment structure to their investors. Douchey. Just plain douchey. If you believe in karma...and know that what comes around, goes around...then you just know that this is no way to deal with investors. Ever. Not just in poker, but in business too. I just like to think that the best way to deal with investors, pure and simple...is how you would want to be treated if YOU were the investor.

On Saturday morning, after logging off on Friday night with zero issues...my computer wouldn't start up. Oh it would turn on...but Windows wouldn't initiate. After running through every test imaginable, I called Dell. After running all their tests...it was determined that my hard disk had crashed. Oh no effing way! Well, guess who didn't back up their hard drive? You know it! In 20+ years of owning laptops...I've never had that happen, so I guess I was kind of feeling bulletproof. I am sick to my stomach. All my pictures, hundreds of documents, letters, etc. All my downloaded music. I lost pretty much everything vital to my business that I run out of my house. There is still an outside shot that I can take the hard drive into the Geek Squad or someone like that, and they can extract all the data from it. Dell is coming to replace the hard drive in the next day or two. Unreal!

My poker club is going great....and finally, after a pretty dismal June...the numbers are starting to pick back up, after a lot of people are returning from Vegas. The most popular tourney going now are the bounty tourneys....so of course I replaced some struggling tourneys with bounty tourneys to turn things around in those time slots. This month...starting on the first of the month....I killed my existing club on Stars...which was four months old. Why? Simple. It was named after me. I have some haters out there who would like to see me NOT be successful, in anything, really...and some former players who we had to get rid of for one reason or another, and it seemed like a good idea to 'rebrand' our product and get the dogs off our scent trail. What that has resulted in...fortunately for me, is that only 72 of the 100 members have made the move over to the new club...and the 28 who haven't are players who just weren't playing hardly at all. So now I have the wonderful opportunity to welcome in new players who are psyched about getting on Pokerstars and playing some online poker. Of course...I'm not letting ANYONE in that I don't know at least a little bit...or who presents themselves in a way that I won't have to worry about them being a evil weasel out to harm me. This club has been great, for me, for Squirrel...and for a lot of players who are loving playing online on Pokerstars again. So if you think you'd like to get on board...feel free to shoot me an email and I'll see if I have a spot for you.  ThePokerMonkey1@aol.com.

I was hoping to get two or three players who I could buy some action off of for this year's Main Event...but only ended up getting one. Our good friend Claudia Crawford. I took 5%. Well she drew an incredibly tough table...telling me that in Level 1. Her day concluded in the final level. She just never could catch a break or get any kind of momentum. Yeah, I was bummed about losing $500. But I am a lot more bummed for her. It would have been great to see her make another deep run. The girl who knocked me out last year, Elisabeth Hille...made it out of Day 1 with about 50k. I sent her a message on Facebook, telling her good job and good luck. We've been Facebook buddies ever since she busted me last year. She seems like a really nice girl. And humble. Good quality to have in poker.

Nice landing by that guy in San Francisco the other day, eh? All I could keep thinking about was I wished it had been the flight attendant working our flight back from Seattle who had been on that flight. And how much must it piss off the family of the two passengers who were killed when the media keeps saying....'there were ONLY two people killed in the crash!??' I don't think that would sit well with me.

Kai Landry...he of the poker tourney featuring the gigantic hubcap sitting on top...the one I somehow managed to win last year....before keeping my word and jogging around his neighborhood in my boxers....is threatening to run that tournament again this summer. The dates seem to keep changing...which is annoying. He was thinking about doing it next weekend, but some conflict with his neighbor, wherein he had him arrested for something involving chickens I think...has Kai paranoid about the possibility of retaliation by his neighbor during the event. Anyway...stay tuned for details on that shenanigan-fest.

Speaking of planes. Does anyone really think they need to have that stupid, see-through curtain separating first class from coach?

Had a really funny thing happen this week. Had a guy who I never, ever thought wouldn't pay me the money he owes me....NOT PAY ME..in fact, pretty much disappear from the face of...well, Tuscaloosa. And then...in a total twist of the bizarre...had a guy I never thought WOULD pay me...PAY ME. How has YOUR week been?

While we were in Seattle, some really wild things happened to my little sister (36 actually). First, on our first day there, we attended her graduation from her Masters Degree program...which was really cool, and which I'm extremely proud of her for. Then...on the way home from Chelan? And this is really a trip. See, Janae (my sister) and I have the same mom....not the same dad. Her dad, was pretty much my abusive tormentor for 8 years, and she has no relationship with him whatsoever. That ended after he left her high and dry while away on a school trip in London. Bottom line, he's a major POS, always has been. Has been married...4...or maybe its 5 now, times. Anyway...after leaving my mom, he re-married. They had two boys. One of whom I last saw when he was younger than Carley. Janae spent quite a bit of time with him...but hadn't seen him since he was 7.

We knew he owned his own Fishing Guide business out of Levenworth, Washington. I kind of tracked him down when my Grandmother was close to death last fall. Well...he had no relationship with Janae, and she thought it was maybe because her father had poisoned that well. Safe assumption.

So on the way home from Chelan....we see a truck, pulling a boat...with adds all over the side. Clearly a fishing boat. And with lots of seats. Hmmm. Interesting. I pull up along side the truck....trying to get a good look at the guy.

"Janae, what are the odds that this guy is Shane?"

Janae: "No way...that's not Shane."

Five minutes later we all pull off at a fruit stand to buy some fresh cherries. The truck and boat drive on. While sitting in the car...Janae opens up her Facebook and starts digging around. Then she sits there looking stunned...and hands me her cell phone. Whoa! The same exact boat! And the picture of him made it perfectly clear she had just seen her brother...on the open highway. Holy shit!

We get back in the car...and start to drive on. About five miles up the road, as we are getting off the highway to make a turn...we see his truck, coming from the other direction. No way! I kind of panic. Flash my lights...and pull in front of him so he can't continue on. He looks a little puzzled and shocked.

Well, we then had about a 30-minute family 'reunion' there on the side of the highway. It was amazing...and very surreal. And to all of our amazement...Shane seems to have turned out to be a really great guy. He invited all of us to come, anytime, and let him take us out for a big river fishing trip on the Columbia. (which would be awesome!!!) And promised to stay in touch with Janae. That night he sent her an incredibly touching message. My sister thanked me...telling me that if she had been driving, and not me...she would never have tried to stop him. That she has a bit of social anxiety. Cheryl was like..."No way! That did not just happen by accident! That was meant to happen! And then to see his truck AGAIN...you HAD to stop him!" She was right.

Isn't life funny? So many things can pass us by when we just forget to pay them any attention. Think of all the wonderful things we probably miss out on. My sister and I have both dealt with a lot of really bad shit from our childhood. I might not have handled mine as well as she has...and for that, I am really proud of her. But now part of her life, her past, has fallen BACK into place. And it made that day, our last day in Seattle with my family, all the more special. It really was a fantastic trip. For a lot of reasons. You only have one family. And you only get one shot with them. You really have to make it count.