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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 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 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 see that Will Souther never comes back to another WSOP event. Why you ask? Why ME? 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 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 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. 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 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 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 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. 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 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 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 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 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? 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 about 5-10 feet away) 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 shady deal goes unpunished. It might take awhile...or it could happen in the blink of an 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 days of chasing WSOP titles...bracelets, rings, points...all 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 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 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 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 be shared, with all of you who DO still give a fuck about poker.

Have a nice weekend.

Senor Monkey

1 comment:

phil galderson said...

the fuck did you bring me into this for losing bad poker player