Friday, November 22, 2013

Okay...A Blog.

Alright. I'm only doing this for two reasons: (a) because some of you keep badgering me to write a new blog. (b) I have a cause I would like to talk about. Mostly because of (b) because frankly, I feel almost out of place being on a site that talks about poker when I have played ZERO poker in over a month, almost two. Oh...I tried, one night...to go play poker. I did.

We had just finished watching Alabama beat LSU (again...yaawwwwwnn, just kidding, beating LSU never gets old!) and were at a club I didn't know existed in Ocean Springs, which if you aren't from Biloxi, I should tell you is just about 5 miles away. The club was a blast...with outdoor stages, and a big bonfire that people were gathered around. I hadn't drank in over a month...and I guess it showed. I was pretty well  lit by the time we left Oren's place...BIG O's, (also in Ocean Springs). At some point I decided I could pick up a flaming log from the pit and hold it in my hand like an idiot. My thumb is  still in recovery.

I had decided I was in the mood to play some live poker that night. So once most of the 'friend crew' had left...I made my way to a taxi...and headed for the Golden Nugget, previously called Isle of Capri. The switchover happened a few months ago...but none of the marvelous renovations have taken place yet. Supposedly, the poker room is or was supposed to be really kick ass once that was done. So....wanna guess when that is happening? Yeah. Now. I arrived, and learned that it was closed, due to...yep, renovations. Perfect. So I played blackjack for some damn reason. 

Oh I remember the reason. There were no cabs. Huh? Had to call for one. And there was a BJ table right inside the door...so to kill time I sat down and bought in for $100. 4 hours later...I cashed out with $650. Nice. Unfortunately, the wife was pretty pissed that I was out all night and hadn't called. Whooops. My bad. So I gave her half my winnings to try and ease my way out of the doghouse.

So yeah. No poker. Later in the week, I had a little free time, and decided I would try to get online and play on Lock. I log on. And in the lower right hand corner...I see...WHAT? You gotta be kidding me; a total of 274 players logged into the site. Worldwide! Huh!??? And predictably there was little to no action to play in anything.  Which got me thinking...."Hmm...maybe some of those guarantees are ripe for the raping!" So I looked at the tourneys. Nope. Lock has just lowered those to ridiculous number...like $75 Guarantee! Seriously? Well, I think it's official that Lock is seeing their already flickering flame about to be doused once and for all. 

I have a $500 withdrawal request in the pipeline, and another $500 still on the site...which I am assuming I can kiss goodbye. I just don't see it ending well. My check request was made 7 weeks ago. I sent them another email yesterday asking them for a status update of my check. The way I feel about that $1000 is about the same way I feel about the $1000 that this buddy (loose use of that word) owes me...for over 4 months now...the same guy who, when I was kicking ass at Venetian back in 2008 or 09 or whenever it was...who was my roommate that summer...had 10% of my action all summer, and never cashed once. Nope, I spent all summer forking him money...per our agreement. Yeah, it was slightly aggravating. But a deal is a deal. The roles could have easily been reversed, I've seen it a thousand times. Oh, but speaking of thousand...that's what he owes me...and for the past month won't even respond to me, my emails, text messages, phone calls. Lovely. Well, I guess the price of my friendship is only worth $1000 to him. 

Why haven't I played any circuit events? Easy. I  haven't felt like going anywhere. And there haven't been any events that I felt were 'GOTTA PLAY' events. Squirrel and I are thinking about ramping up our day care plan for Carley...from 2 days a week with our personal sitter...where she is often times the only kid...to a full daycare plan...where we have the option of taking her for 1 day a week, or the full 5. We visited several to see what we thought of them. They all have really positive things about them...and they are pretty affordable. The best thing, I'd say, is that it enables her to spend time with other kids...to grow from a social perspective. I mean, I  love being at home with her...we have become so close, and it's so amazing watching her grow, and learn...and sometimes I just don't want to be away from her. But I know that isn't probably the right thing to do. And walking into these places, and seeing all these adorable kids all laughing and interacting with each other...in an environment where they are taught things...well, it hit me, that was a no-brainer. She needs that. 

So I  think we are going to start her about the 2nd week of January. And coincidentally, that happens to be around the time that some poker events I might want to play start popping up on the calendar. I liked that place in Oklahoma enough to return there. See...I've been out of commission so long I already forgot the name! I think they have a big event there in January. (oh yeah, Choctaw) Then in February there are quite a few events, including the big event at Commerce Casino in LA. And funding for poker certainly isn't an issue...I just want to  pick and choose and give whoever decides to buy my package the most bang for their buck.

I see someone won the WSOP Main Event. Yippee. Didn't watch one minute of it. Could care less about any of it. I was surprised that JC Tran didn't win. He must have really run bad, because that guy was hands down the best player at the table and started with the most chips. Had to have run like shit.

I notice the Gold Strike in Tunica is closing their poker room. Wow. Now, I can only assume this also means they will no longer be hosting any poker events. It would be odd to host a big poker event and yet not HAVE a cash room. I can only wonder what the reasons are for this. Once upon a time, Gold Stike was a mecca for big poker events. Back in 2004, it was where I  made my first ever final table, during the WPT event there. It was exciting. I would have other runs there...like the one in 2008 when I final tabled 7 nightly tourneys in 10 days...winning 3 of them. It was one of the sickest runs of my career. Well, I heard they are doing major renovations at the Horseshoe...which would be more exciting to me if they weren't owned by Caesars. Yeah...that irritant with Caesars still exists. 

Read a funny article the other day. Not sure where. But in pretty clear language it was made painfully obvious that Caesar's Entertainment now is carrying more debt than any creditor will effectively loan to them because of. I'm not sure about all the fancy language, but basically, they are like a hobo walking in off the street wanting to buy a house. Poker is on the decline. We all know it. The signs are everywhere. And currently the brand WSOP is probably the one thing Caesar's owns that is worth anything. Which...to anyone with common sense, is why they will probably be selling it before too long. 

And yeah...I would maybe be more excited about that happening, if it didn't mean that all the Caesar's-owned hotels and casinos would be still be managed using the same infrastructure and the same people. So any bogus '86' that has been entered into the system against an individual, won't just disappear overnight. I have made no effort at all to try to have my 'situation' overturned. Despite having a very positive conversation with the person who was supposed to have been the reason it happened in the first place. (Yana, the female dealer at Horseshoe Hammond who I was supposed to have harassed) I mean...what path would I take? Who would I talk to? It has become more about one guy wanting to win his personal battle (for whatever stupid reason) with me than it is about what I did or didn't REALLY do. I mean...I'm pretty sure I could show up at the offices of Caesar's with this girl, and profess to anyone who would listen that nothing happened between us verbally that should have ever seen me get booted from not just the property but ALL Caesar's properties...and as long as THAT GUY has it in his head that he wants me out of all WSOP events? He will put a finger in each ear and start making that humming noise that little kids do when you tell them something they don't want to hear.

Combine that with me wanting to stay home more with Carley and Squirrel, and my growing disdain for poker in general...as well as my disgust at the growing, almost offensive amount of juice being charged at their tourneys...and frankly, it has become awfully easy to just go on about my way and not let the riff with THAT GUY and THAT COMPANY cause me any unrest. Simply put...I just don't care that much. If I want to go play poker...somewhere, there are plenty of places I can go to play. Plenty of places with large prize purses. I will reiterate, the ONLY tournament I regret not getting to play...is the WSOP MAIN EVENT. Because of the structure, the exposure, and the gigantic prize pool, that would enable a guy like me to make a massive score and just disappear...well, from the poker world anyway.

So...my cause? Here's the thing about causes. People who know me know that I have this blog. And that I get (or used to get, before I quit posting 5 or 6 times a month) quite a few readers checking in here. A lot of people know I have an email mailing list of 1800+ as well. And so, I have been asked a lot to help them out with certain causes. It's tough...mainly because I hate ever saying no to anyone. But in the case of my mailing list? I use that expressly for my various pools that I  run year-around. Those people get my e-mails willingly, but to me, they get them with the understanding that they are pool-related. So that keeps it from being SPAMmish in nature. 

Well, about the time I start bombarding them with 'other' emails...like numerous causes...well, human nature, especially in this generation, is to get annoyed. Even skeptical. And the last high-profile cause I got behind...raising money for the family of Casey Jones...who passed away two summers ago...and was a friend of mine for years, ended up leaving a very sour taste in my mouth. When I was ASKED...by a woman who knows I have a bit of a far-reaching influence in the poker community...to help the family, my immediate reaction was "Great! Love to! Tell me what you need me to do!" On that day...they had collected something like $600 if I recall. (don't quote me...lets just say it was a low number) I got behind it 100% posting the link to donate money on my blog site, touting it on my Facebook, blogging about it...and even put together a Last Longer bet at the Main Event in Bossier City last year, which was eventually shut down by their Head of Security after I'd already collected $2200 from 22 players, including myself. 

Incidentally, the winner of that...was a guy who I had no contact info for...and went bonkers trying to locate. At one point, Mike 'Carwash' Schneider had him at his table at a tourney in some other city...and my name came up. I told Carwash to give him my number...and have him call me so I could get him the $1100 I owed him. (half went to the family, half to the winner of the last longer). The guy never called. Well, finally this past summer at Venetian, he ends up at my table. "Are you Monkey?" Yeah...what's up? He announced himself to me. Whoa! Well come here, I have something for you. And he was cool enough to tell me I didn't have to give it to him right then. I mean...sometimes, that's all a person has on their person. But no! I wanted that money OUT OF MY POCKET! I do NOT like ever owing people money! So we squared up, and the book was closed on the Casey cause/ordeal.

Ordeal? How could raising over $20k become an ordeal you ask? Well, because I guess when you have haters out there...and they sure are easy to get when you play poker...you get the cynics, who want to run around speculating that you are doing it for 'another reason.' That somehow you are benefiting from it financially. Or that I was doing it to get attention. Yeah. Attention. For what? Raising money for a dead friend? Some people are just pricks. I used to think people who are pricks were usually born pricks...but lately, I've changed my mind. Because I see a lot of kids now...and there is no kid that is a prick. They are all so cute, and innocent, and sweet. And harmless. Certainly not little pricks. Nope, not yet. Something happens to them along the way...that turns them into pricks. And those are the people I deal with, it seems, too often. 

All I can do is try to ignore the pricks. Pricks who like to write things about me in their blog. When they have no idea what they are talking about. Or are trying to deflect their own shortcomings. Pricks who like to go around talking shit about me. When they know what they are saying is simply something he wants people to think about me. What those pricks don't realize...is that most people can identify a slimy little prick weasel, by the way he says things, by the way he carries himself...that anything that comes out of his prickish mouth carries almost no credibility whatsoever. In fact, the only ones who really buy in...who take the story and run with it...are his fellow pricks. It's kind of just one big Prick Community. I'm not positive, but if I had to guess...I would imagine they even carry membership cards identifying themselves as pricks.

And so...this experience with pricks, has 'caused' me to be a little nervous about getting involved in anything where I might have to run the risk of being seen as an opportunist in any way. The best kind of causes, are the ones where I can donate my time, or donate money anonymously. Anyway. I will get to the point.

You might see a charity link in the upper right hand corner of my blog right now. There is a gal who is a very dear friend of mine. Her name is Nikki Ivey Moore. Moore was just added to her name last year, when she married another friend of mine, Brandon. They both used to be dealers on the WSOP circuits for years, back when I just started playing. I got to know them really well. Nikki eventually worked her way out of the box and into a supervisor's role. For whatever reasons, Nikki and Brandon both stopped working for the WSOP. They worked some independent events, and even got out and played a little bit. I remember in the past year, they both won a satellite into the Main Event for some event in the Caribbean. I was excited for them.

Well, Nikki's father had a bout with cancer years ago. He underwent a very arduous battle with it before finally beating it. Which made it all the more difficult to deal with, both mentally and physically when the cancer returned...now more aggressively. It is the kind of cancer that insurance won't get involved with. The expense in treating it is astronomical. But through a ton of research, and following up with one reference after another, they were able to track down a clinic in Japan who has some ground-breaking form of treatment that has been showing amazing results. Well, they decided they HAD to get her father to this facility. They don't come to you...you have to go to them. So Nikki contacted me, asking me how we did the charity for Casey. 

I told her I wasn't the one who started it, but that it was run on this GiveForward site. I told her I wasn't a big fan of the site...mainly because they don't have a way to accept PayPal payments...which to me is a 'must have' these days in anything you want to take online payments for. I also wasn't really thrilled with the percentage of the funds they take for their 'administrative' fees. But the pros I guess outweighed the cons, and she decided to go ahead and use them to help promote her charity for her father. So I signed on to help, making a small contribution from our family and adding the link to my blog page, as well as posting it on my Facebook. I've been checking back on it to see if they are getting any closer to their goal of $30,000 and it's obvious they have a long way to go...and only about 30 days left to raise the money.

Look. I get it. Christmas is around the corner. We just had the Typhoon in the Philippines. We just had 70 tornadoes rip through Southern Illinois and killing people there. (now, if karma was working it's magic...there would have been a certain prick who lives in Southern Illinois scooped up into one of those funnel clouds and dumped in a sewage plant 30 miles from his home) There are a lot of people out on the sidewalks ringing their bell asking for a contribution. Certainly, there is never a shortage of places to make a heartfelt donation for a good cause. I'll be honest. I've never met Nikki's father. So I have no real connection with the man, or major reason to want to see him win his battle and go on to live a healthy life. But I do know Nikki...and I know what a sweet, wonderful person she is...and that alone, is my motivation to help her. I have a daughter now...and I know she loves me. And I would like to think that 20 or 30 years from now...if I was in the same boat...that she would do the same for me.  I watched my wife drive in the middle of the night 7 months ago...to be by her father's side in Birmingham for a life-threatening surgery...and sit there with him for four days...while I was home taking care of Carley. 

He would survive the surgery...and come to stay with us for 6 weeks, while he recovered from the incredibly dangerous procedue. We were happy to have him here, he got a chance to get to know his grand-daughter...and Cheryl got to spend time with her daddy. Then, out of nowhere...he was struck down by a heart-attack...right in our living room. Efforts to save him on the way to the hospital failed. Looking into the eyes of my wife was one of the hardest things I have EVER had to do. I didn't know what to do, what to say, how to act...other than be strong, and supportive. It was horrible. Cheryl has had moments over the months since his death, where she cries, missing her dad. The most recent, was during Cruising the Coast, an annual event here in Biloxi, that her daddy used to come down for every year in his old, restored pickup...and take her cruising with him. Sometimes Carley is laying in bed with us...and will start waving and saying 'Hi!' to the ceiling...and Cheryl has almost convinced herself, I think...that Carley is being visited by Granddaddy Sonny. 

Some people think babies/toddlers have the ability to see and communicate with the dead. Who am I to say it's not true? I  mean...it would make sense right?

The point is...little girls losing their daddy's is something I've had first-hand experience with...and it's terrible. And so I would like to help Nikki avoid losing hers. So I am asking you to help her out. Not for ME...but for her. That's it. That's my speech.

It's Friday. Carley is at the sitter. I have promised myself that I'm going to the gym today. Squirrel is out in the kitchen doing this thing that drives me crazy....going through ALL our food and throwing out everything that has an expiration date on it. EVERYTHING. And you may be saying...well, duh! But you would be shocked to go through your cupboard and see just HOW much is in there that is out of date. I just stay out of her way...otherwise, I end up battling for certain things I don't want her to throw out...and we get into a big fight. And no...she won't donate it to the needy. She considers that mean. Okay...I fold!

Alright. There's your blog folks. Today is the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Assassination. I wasn't born yet. But its amazing how much we've been taught about it since we've been alive. I wonder if we will EVER know the truth about what really happened on that fateful day? Movies have been made, books have been written, certain 'witnesses' who could have been useful in proving what happened have mysteriously vanished or died from unusual circumstances. It's truly one of the biggest tragedies and mysteries of the 20th century. RIP President Kennedy...your legacy is still felt, 50 years later.