Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ballin in Baton Rouge

Before I get too far into this blog post, I want you to know something. Due to a handful of very solid relationships I've made with the owners/operators of this site, and some readers who have been tremendously supportive of me over the years, I've decided to continue trying to post to this site on the same regularity that I have over the past 6 years.

Why am I telling you this? Why WOULDN'T I keep doing that? I'll tell you why. Through a good friend of mine, my writing abilities (or whatever you would like to label them) were mentioned to a nice fellow in Europe, who runs a very large poker site similar to 2+2, and he was scouting for US writers/contributors to periodically write original content for his site. We did kind of an interview via email, and I was accepted into his 'stable' of writers. I am being paid a very 'respectable' fee for every post I write for them. The one catch? And this is a tough one. I can't copy/paste the material I write for GCP.net. Which means I actually have to really commit a lot of time, energy and original thought now when I sit down to write for that other site. 

This led to my wife asking me what to some would be an obvious question: "Well then why not just quit writing on that site and only write for the one that is paying you?" Yes...to anyone outside the GCP family that would seem like a pretty easy decision, especially since my main purpose for writing for GCP is for my own sense of therapy a lot of times. If I could show you a few of the comments that I haven't published, and I will stress, there is no doubt they are almost always by the same two or three people, you would wonder why in the hell I even continue writing on here. I've literally had death threats...not just to me, but to my wife. That unless I quit writing, I am going to pay. No kidding. What would motivate someone to make these comments? I have no clue. And frankly, I didn't really let them rattle me. I just find it disturbing that these people actually exist among us.

So, to answer the question: Why? Because I'm loyal. It might not be a big deal to some (most!) of you...but it means something to me. Bill and Gene have been awfully good to me, and they have helped my poker career. And several of my readers have been instrumental in getting involved in my backing deals. So, to an extent, I feel like I owe it to these guys to keep writing here. Actually, I think this site will host what is more like my personal Poker Diary...whereas this other place I'm blogging will be more of a take on poker in general, and the people who play it. Less about me, more about poker.  And probably a lot more short and to the point. Definitely two different writing styles. I'll try!!! But editing is not my strong suit!


A couple months ago , I was asked by my friend Chad Holloway, who I've known for over 5 years now...and was/is a writer-reporter for PokerNews, a favor. He has also started to play some, and ended up winning a bracelet in the WSOP employee event last summer. He's a great guy...so when he asked me to give some thought to driving up to Baton Rouge in late February to play this $1100 event, I didn't quickly dismiss it as I would if some random person had told me about it. 

But knowing what kind of person/player would  likely be present at this event, I felt like I was simply driving 2 hours each way so I could light $1100 on fire. I knew there would be those Lafayette maniacs and the Coushatta crazies that I've experienced before. Well, I wasn't disappointed. On the other hand...there were a lot, I would actually say a majority, of good players. And that was good to see. I went up on Friday...passed on the mega satellite they ran at noon...opting to just go, plop down my $1100 and see if I could get lucky. Claudia met me there.

We both got off to equal starts. Lousy. I finally won my first hand with :20 seconds left til the first break. About the same time she won hers! My table draw sucked. Four complete donks. And the guys at MSPT had, and I don't have any idea how they worked this...a few 'MSPT Pros' who they had inserted into the tourney. And one of them...a guy who seriously looked like a heavier version of Tim Tebow, but carried the real name of Matt Alexander, was playing a lot of stupid hands...and playing them with 2 and 3 barrel bets to hammer home the belief that he had the goods. Only problem? He kept getting called, not by the good players. No...those guys (myself included, on a hand where I was sure I had him) kept letting him steal pots. No, it was the swampies who refused to fold middle pair. And he was pummeled, over and over. Not just on Friday, but again on Saturday (I know because I was following the blog that PokerNews was doing for the event) he bought in (or his backers did) not once, twice, or three times...but FOUR times. On his fourth bullet, he surrendered his stack, of 12,000...so that he could rebuy before registration closed...and come back with a stack of 20,000. Great EV move there, wouldn't ya say?

Mr. Alexander got moved to Claudia's table. I texted her to tell her that 'Fat Tebow' was on his way to her table...and to watch out for his incessant bluffing. She ended up putting him on the rail. And the play was classic. It got a nice write up on PokerNews...something like "The Claw knocks out Alexander, then Insults him!" And included a few Tweets from him where he said she called him Fat Tebow. Somehow, I feel slighted! Apparently, she had A2 in the blind...called his button raise (automatic for FT)...and flopped a deuce with a bunch of other things. She calls his flop bet. Calls his turn bet...and on the river...still holding just that lonely deuce, he ships on her...and she calls his ass...the deuce being good. And he left shaking his head. I'll tell you who SHOULD have been shaking his head....the guy from MSPT who decided this guy was worthy of four bullets into this event that attracted a grand total of 114 players. He would have had to finish 6th or higher for them to finish with a profit. Yikes.

I would fire my own second bullet. Not on Saturday though. And frankly, I would not have made that trip back up there the following day to play again if I'd lost late in the day on Friday. Nope. When I lost, there was still 3 minutes left to re-enter...and I just didn't really feel like leaving on the note I would have been leaving on. 

I raised in early position with QQ...and not surprisingly got called by four players. Think we were at 100/200 with a 25 ante and I raised p/f to 550. The flop came 10-x-x...rainbow, both unders, and no straight draw. I led out 850. This guy...who I admit, is NOT a total donkey, I've played with him somewhere else before..and I know he's made some scores...I just don't know why he refused to believe his 10 (with a jack) could actually have my hand beaten...but he sure did. He raises me to 2200. And though I should have just shipped, I figured he had like A10 or maybe even K10...and if I could fade either of those on the turn...was simply going to ship my remaining 6200 and either take down a decent pot, or hopefully get called, hold and get back to a near starting stack. The turn was junk....like a five or something and I shipped.

He couldn't quite grasp why I was doing that. Which told me right away (thankfully) that he didn't have a set. So I knew I was good...and literally said to him "well, now that you've told me what you have, you might as well call and try to hit one of your five outs (two more tens and three more of whatever his kicker was)...which led to more tanking by him. And in fairness, he had amassed quite a few chips...so it wasn't the most horrendous call, if he in fact just had me on AK. Which he must of, since he made the call. I saw his J10 and felt pretty good about my chances to double up and go to break with a starting stack. Whoa...hold the phone! James Ovington...a dealer who is also a Facebook friend, and one of my favorite dealers mainly because I love his dry, sarcastic sense of humor...plops a damn jack on the river. Shit! Then he gives me that look...one I've seen way too many times from dealers I like, the one that says "Shit, Monkey...I'm sorry man!" Hey....it happens. I know it, they know it. But yeah...it still sucks!

So...I now had a decision to make. Rebuy? Or just get in my car and get the hell out of there? Now, I wasn't playing this event backed...so there was no consideration there to make, like...why in the hell would you put another $1100 into a tourney that currently only has 54 entries? A question my wife grilled me about later that night when I returned home. Granted, Day 1B was sure to get (wasn't it???) a lot more, maybe double...the players that the first day got? And I knew that field....and knew I could beat it. So damn, I happened to have $1500 still in pocket, so I bought in again. Screw it!


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Palm Beach Wrap Up

Hopes of a birthday that would resonate for years failed to materialize. And there really wasn't any major nightmare hand or 'orbit from hell' to blame it on. I was happy to clear the first hurdle...making the money, as we started the day with 123 players...and about two levels in got down to 72 players. When we were 5 from the money, I had a great chance to go way about an average stack...but when a short stack jammed in 12 bb's with J10, and I looked down at KK...a hand I'd seen getting destroyed all week, I kind of cringed, knowing I had to call, but doing it with little to no confidence at all. Of course, I was happy to see that he wasn't holding a rag ace. Didn't matter...he would go runner runner to make a straight...and I was crippled, leaving me with that all-to-familiar feeling of having to sweat out making the money. Is there anything more annoying?

But we got into the money finally. A while later I had a very huge hand, that almost propelled me to a deep run...deeper than the 38th place I would eventually finish in. I had just come from a broken table...to a new table that featured Nate Kogel...who I'd played with a good portion of the first day with, and gotten to know well, but who no longer had the mountain of chips he had the  last time I'd seen him...and a number of aggressive players. Then,  over in the 9 seat, Mr. Land Yacht himself. And...shocking to no one...he was eating. I was in the 2-seat, so didn't have a real great angle for shooting pictures or video of the life-tilting behemoth. But lucky for me, the tourney's eventual 3rd place finisher did...sitting in the 6-seat...and taking some epic photos and videos that he text messaged to me during the action, as well as a few other players seated around him. At one point there were 4 people laughing at the same time...so hard that they were wiping tears from their eyes. Will I share the video with you? Duh! You know I will. Don't be silly.

So, Mr. Super Aggro young kid raises UTG+1. The guy on the button, a good player I've played against a lot, three bets him from 5500 to 20,100. I look down at 10-10 in the BB. A really, really tough spot to be in. Had I shipped, the first guy would have folded, and the button raiser would have called (with AK). The only way I wasn't getting doubled up (plus some) was if I had folded. This is always a very tough spot...with 10's, J's or Q's. And at the time I wasn't close to desperate, so folding was still a viable option. I decide to flat. The original raiser (not sure wtf he was thinking) calls as well (with 9-6 off) and we see a flop of 9-10-J. I didn't see anyone having KQ..so I felt like checking was the correct play. The original raiser (OR) makes it 35k. Wow. Button folds his AK...and I shoved 46k...11k more for him to call, and he knew he was doomed, but had to call. I held, and suddenly was in great shape, and getting pretty excited.

There is something really cool about playing a Main Event when you get down to 4 tables. You start to realize that all your patience has paid off. You start to understand that if you can just catch a few hands, and manage them correctly, that you are in striking distance of some life-changing money. And when the blinds are as high as they are...it's real easy to go from 10 BB's to chipleader...happens all the time. I never get nervous...not after ten years of doing this. And I won't lie...after the 350+ comment thread that blew up my Facebook wall all week concerning my staking packages as it relates to my mark up? And all the goobers who had decided to make my business their business? A lot of my motivation to keep getting deeper and deeper was to send out a little 'eff you' to those people, while putting a big stinking grin on the face of all my investors' faces.

It was time for a break. The players left the area, and I lingered behind, gathering a few of my things, when the tournament director came over...and blurts out, "What the hell!!?? Where did this pile of bones come from!???" I just started howling. You know where they came from! You got it! 'Ol Cal and his Magical Land Yacht had moored along side the pier that was also known as table 25, seat 9...and wolfed down a whole bird, leaving the carnage under the table for someone to clean up. Pig. And yeah, of course I snuck over there and snapped a picture before they could clean up the  last remnants of that poor bird.

One sad bird dies,  so that one man can find happiness for 30 minutes of his miserable life. Rest in peace....chicken!

So...action resumed. Cutting to the chase, I had a hand that if I had a chance to play over again, I would have likely done so. I raised in early position with 7-7 and called by Richard Kirsch, who would end up 3rd, and the SB...a very aggressive player. The flop comes A-Q-5. Lousy ass flop. SB checks...and I checked, regrettably. Had I led out, I think I would have taken the pot down. Kirsch checks. But I'd basically surrendered position by not betting the flop. The turn was like a 4 or something, and maybe if I shipped, they'd have both folded, but I still had a manageable stack and didn't want to get caught in a semi-bluff for my tourney. So after the SB checked, I checked as well...which opened the door for Kirsch to fire in a big bet and take the pot down. 

As I went card dead, and couldn't find any good spots to steal blinds...I started to dwindle down rather quickly. Blinds were getting real high...and I needed to make something happen pretty soon if I wasn't going to be getting a 'real' hand.

That moment arrived when the  action folded around to me on the button and I looked down at a pretty good hand, KJ. I shoved all in with my 8 BB's, actually not even feeling like  I was stealing, with a 'call' not being the worst thing that could happen, maybe. Well,  I got a call, from the BB...who held QQ. Oh shit...and whoops! At least I had one over, right? Well, I  missed it...and was out. 38th. For $3652. I left the odd money, $152...to  the dealers and left with $3500...profiting a grand total of $150 after the two buys-ins were deducted. Marvelous! But my investors all got 1.2% per share of what I won...so they all got about 1/4th of their investments back. For me? Well, it was a losing trip, overall...as I got deep in a lot of the prelims but bricked all of them. I at least had some success in the sit n go's...winning three out of five, one a big one in the $500 with $200 last longer...and somewhat decent results in the cash game.

I retreated to the cash game, where I played 2/5 while waiting on Claudia, who was still in the Main...and who I was really hoping would make the Final Table. I was getting killed in 2/5. I was having a hard time believing what I was watching. Some of the people at this table? I had no idea where they were finding the money to play the game. 
What the!??? Lil John plays Poker? Yeahhhhhhhh!!!

And the WAY they were playing the game? I was literally pulling my hair out. After only 2 or 3 hours I was already in for FIVE buy ins of $500. I was on the verge of killing this smart ass in the five seat. Oh he was a real piece of work, and I was the person responsible for filling up his three chip racks, when he made his best play of the night and decided to get the hell out of that place. There were about 8-10 hands he beat me in where I was left incredulous...but the one that left the biggest mark, and his reaction afterwards...that led me to want to play dodgeball with his head....was where I had raised to 25 with AJd....got four calls, and he (who had straddled for 10) decides to price in the whole table with a raise to 40. The flop comes J-3-2. Rainbow. He leads out 60. Now...there is very little chance in that spot, after raising like he did, that he isn't going to be there whether he hit the flop or had anything at all.

But I was going to find out just where he was...and where I  was with top/top. So I make it 150 to go. All the others fold. And dipshit tanks...forever...and like a guy in his first year of poker, is attempting to 'size me up' and get a read, making all the typical newbie facial expressions...I know most of you KNOW this guy. You're like...'come on asshole, do something!' Right? So Johnny Poker decides to smooth call my bet. And guess what comes on the turn? By the way, I left 200 behind my bet...so that should have been enough to tell him when he made his stupid call on the flop...that I was likely not folding to anything on the turn or  river. But...that's probably Poker 102...and he hadn't graduated to that level yet.

Did you guess the turn? No? Well, duh...because I haven't told you what Phil Ivey, Jr. had in his hand. Now I will. He had 88. The turn? An eight. And now...he was the most brilliant poker player on the planet...as he checked to me, and let me shove all in. I got up. Walked to the bathroom....pissed...yes I washed my hands....and took a little walk outside. That was AFTER the verbal maelstrom I unleashed on him. It only got worse over the next two hours. The table was actually enjoying it...and the couple times the dealer tried to curtail it, a few of them asked the floor to let us go on...because it was the most entertainment they'd had in weeks. See, I don't get loud, and use curse words, and try to look tough. I prefer to be witty, use big words I don't think idiots understand, make incriminating insults that I don't think they will get, either. It's fun that way...because only half the table catches what you're saying. And plus, it makes me look so much smarter when they respond with 7th-grader level comebacks. 

Look at this punk. And yes! He's one of those assholes who, every time he raises, the glasses go on! We love that guy don't we???

This kid though? He finally pushed my last untapped button...and I don't even know what he said...but it was enough to get me to follow him out the door and attempt to beat his ass in the parking lot. Well, I was intercepted by someone from the poker room, a floor guy, who'd heard the whole thing go down. And interestingly enough...and this is rare in my poker life, the guy actually had my back. Told the kid he was way out of line, had said things that anyone in my shoes would likely find reason enough to beat his ass over, and that he needed to leave and not come back. That was some satisfaction. Then he told me to have a good rest of the night. Hmmm. Okay, thanks.

So I did. I went back in and started kicking ass. Oh, I lost one more buy in first...and so, in for 6 buy ins....$3000....I mounted my big comeback. And as I looked up at the tournament clock...which, despite the fact they were playing upstairs, they kept a clock downstairs for us to see, I saw that their were only 15 players left, and Claudia was still one of them. Nice!

I look down at 77. There is a raise. And a re-raise...by a pretty tight player. This is my chance to win a big pot. I call. Everyone calls. 75 preflop....by 6 players! $450 in the middle preflop. And here comes the dream flop! 7-3-3. NO effing way! Bet. Raise. Call. Oh this is like heaven! I just flat. Another call. Hundreds more in the middle. A three on the turn. Ugh. No wait. No...I'm still okay. But holy shit...what if another 3 hits the river? That would  be the worst beat of all time! By this time I figure I have GOT to be up against some BIG overpairs...and am just holding my breath that I can avoid one of them hitting the river. The turn. More betting....now some raising. It gets all in from FOUR of us. And I am just praying for something under an 8 on the river....just not a three. The river is a jack. Oh holy shit. Please....NOOOO!!!! The cards are turned over. KK. 10-10. And QQ. Hell yes! My sevens hold. And I win the biggest pot I've ever won...in ten years of playing poker, in a cash game. Close to $1900 in that pot. 

But before I was even close to done stacking my chips? I get a text from Claudia. Guy raised...with Q10h. She re-raised on the button with KK. He calls. Flops a set of kings. Guy, who would eventually win the whole tournament...check raises her all in with a flush draw...and gets there. She was out. 15th. One damn busted flush draw away from being in the top three in chips and almost certainly making the final table. Oh no...

It really took the shine off that cash hand. For sure. She came down, I gave her my keys, and let her take my car back to the hotel. I stayed and played cash, getting close to even before calling it a night.

Claudia and I decided to play the last ring event...a $365 turbo, the next day. I  lasted two hands. She followed me out about 5 minutes later. It was brutal. We stayed and played cash all day, as they were running a promotion, where the high hand every 15 minutes won $500. I never, not once, in 8 hours won one. She managed to win once. We left about 10pm...went to the hotel, packed up, checked out, stopped and got four movies, and hit the road. I ended up driving the whole way....12 hours...and when I got home, basically slept for two days! I was drained. But I was so happy to be home, and see my baby, and Squirrel. It had been a long, frustrating trip. But at least I had a good roomie, a good road trip partner, and she made a little money on the trip. And my investors got a little something back. Which....incidentally, I decided to double as a gesture of my appreciation, after my final table finish this weekend up in Baton Rouge at the Belle of Baton Rouge...which I'll talk about in my next post.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Birthday Wish? Final Table!

Well...here we go again. It's been a somewhat 'entertaining' week, listening to the poker 'experts' rip me to shreds on my 'markup' for my investment packages...as they have ran the comment count up to over 250 on my Facebook wall, and some others, like Allen Kessler, chose to copy my post to their own wall...and pose the question, 'Exactly how much juice is this guy charging?' This guy? Me...the guy who I thought was friends with THAT guy.

To be fair? I have had a pretty substantial number of players come to my rescue, offering their take on the matter. What these people just can't seem to hammer into their thick skulls? Is that there is no SET rule for selling poker investment packages. The 2+2 crowd would have you THINK there is, however. And anyone who tries to exceed their limitations, is entering into the world of Bernie Madoff and his boys. Oh yes, I have been labeled the Enron of poker!

My wife even felt compelled to finally weigh in. Which really touched me. The 'ol Squirrel is usually quite content to stay hidden in the shadows where my poker exploits are involved. She will give me her tidbits of advice though, just away from the spotlight. Well, when she jumps into a conversation/debate you know someone has touched a nerve.

So yeah...it's been a pretty exciting week. While all that was/is going on...I've been playing some poker. In four prelim events, I managed to make the dinner break in three of them. I cashed in none of them. Oh I came close...in all of them. But they all had their own little tale of disaster attached to them, and for whatever reason, I found myself back downstairs playing cash game or sit n go's.

On Friday night...after having played and lost in the  Main Flight A...I played cash game for about five hours...then 'The Claw' and I decided it was time to play a $500 sit n go. With a $200 last longer. I also decided, after a long, painful week...that it was time for a drink or two. Claudia joined me. Long story short? We crushed that sit n go. We got heads up...played it out for pride (she beat me) and we split up $6,400. We then headed for IHOP to cheat on our diets! It was a great way to end an otherwise shitty day, one where we both busted out of Flight A after a nightmarish experience. Personally? I flopped a set twice, and river trips another time...only to lose ALL OF THEM...and somehow I still had chips. I finally would move in with 66 and run smack dab into aces...which held.

So...that sit n go? It happened on Saturday, February 15th. That's right...we had already turned the page on Valentine's Day...since midnight had come and gone. So after sleeping...we returned to the scene of the crime for Take Two in the Big One to make our mark, to stake our claim to 1000's of bones, and take home to our loved ones....a big breath of fresh air.

My first three levels I didn't do dick. For starters, I drew one of the most difficult tables in the entire tourney. Don't believe me? It was the first thing I saw on WSOP.com when trolling for updates...they specifically called attention to my table, with the likes of Nate Kogel, Mike 'Carwash' Schneider, a guy they call 'Uncle Krunk' and several internet wizardly types...and I suspect, a few members of the Markup Police. At first break I had 18k...a couple thousand below starting stack.

I won my first big hand with KK...that hand I've watched go down in flames more times this week (by other players, not me) than any time in the last ten years. It's been astonishing. Well...Nate put in one of his many raises in early position....and there was a 2nd raise to 2200. I decided to not play it cute...and since I really needed to win a pot to reverse my poor momentum, I decided to play it to end it pre-flop. So I re-popped it to 5800. Nate folded, but the other guy called. Ugh. The flop came J-3-6. He leads out for 2400. I laid out 6200. He calls. Oh no. What THIS time? The turn brought a 6...which made me feel a little better. He checked this time. I bet 7500. He tanks...then looks at me, and says "Hmmm...that smells like kings!"  Good read sir. He folded.

A while later...on a 4-way hand, me holding 88...the flop came 6-8-9. Two diamonds. It got real nasty....action on the flop and turn...then the guy in the small blind decided to check-raise me all in on the turn...putting me to a HUGE decision. Shit. I spent the entire day on Flight A losing with sets...and there was a lot of things out there beating me. But I had also played with this guy a bit, and I knew two things. (a) he liked to bluff. (b) he knew I was one of the only players capable of folding a set in that spot. I sat there thinking....and verbally said "I have a bad feeling you have J10 (for a straight) and I'm about to get my set crushed again" but I don't know, maybe our dealer can pair the board for me. Wow...tough call here."  I made the call. He simply utters..."I can't beat a set, in fact...I have no outs to win." Talk about feeling good. There are no sweeter words to hear than "I'm drawing dead!"  He didn't even want to turn his cards over, but of course the dealer made him. He was out...and I dragged my biggest pot of a very long day.

One of my worst calls of the day...one that I thought might end up costing me the tourney....was on the first hand after dinner break. I went to dinner break with 52k...which was far ahead of the average of 36k. So here we go. There is an all in from a short stack for 7500. Then this rather aggressive Asian guy wearing a Men The Master logo on his track jacket, goes all in as well...for 13,900. I look down at 99 on the button. Shit. Its roughly a quarter of my stack to call, with the chance to knock out two players. Or...if I can beat the one guy while losing to the shorter stack...I still almost break even on the call. Hmmm....damn. And I don't know, officially if this was a good call or a bad call. I even asked 4 or 5 of my trusted poker friends. They all made an argument for both sides of the coin. I called.

I was up against A8 and....ugh...ACES! Yuck. But I did manage to turn a straight draw AND a flush draw...before bonking the river. That set me back a lot. And then I went card dead. Oh no...not this song and dance, again! I blinded down to 25k and was really starting to get nervous.

Then I get 88 again, under the gun. I raise to 2500 at 500/1000. I get four callers. Yikes! The flop comes 7-8-9. I can think of better flops. But also worse ones. I check. The guy behind me checks. And Nate (predictably) bets the flop for us. He puts out 4200. It comes back to me, and I raise to 10,200. Then the guy after me makes it 24,000. Nate folds. What the fuck? Whatever...I'm not folding. I kind of think maybe he has A10...or maybe a set of sevens. Wrong. He has freaking KK. Wow! He decided to play it sneaky preflop...and kind of had it blow up in his face. The dealer puts out the remaining two cards after we both got it  all in...and I see three diamonds out there and his King of diamonds catches my eye. All I'm watching for is a diamond...and when a diamond hits the river, I thought I'd lost. Until I noticed that the turn card was a nine...and the rest of the table was laughing at me. Again!

Earlier...when a guy had tried to bluff me, and I made what I felt was a hero call...I saw his cards...and thought he'd turned a straight, and reacted emotionally...only to realize he was merely open-ended and had missed on the river. Whooops! So same deal on the 8's...I'd won with a boat...and scooped an enormous pot to get my stack back to a healthy number...something like 90k!

Another big hand would happen towards the end of the night...when I raised UTG with JJ...got called again by four people...and flopped 7-8-10...with two spades. Not a bad flop. I lead out on the flop....one fold, two folds, and this guy shoves all in. Shit. Folds back to me. I can't fold to this guy...it's another 25k...which had I lost would have set me back to about 30k. But whatever. I put him on a flush draw. Nope. Pocket nines. Gross. He turns a six....shit! At least I still have outs....I need a nine or a spade....and on the river...SPADE!!!

I responded with my biggest emotional reaction in a poker tourney in a LONG time. Then I regathered myself...or tried to. I was no over 100k. I won a few more decent pots...and when it came time to bag up...had 128,000 chips...sitting 33rd out of the remaining 123 players. We head back at noon (45 minutes from now) to get started on Day 2...with 72 people getting paid. But that has no bearing for me. It's final table or bust!

Joining me....my roommate. The Claw! She had a day a lot like mine, except she was up big early...topping the 100k mark early in the day....only to encounter a train wreck level that decimated her stack and left her with only 25k. But she rebounded well...and at the end of the night bagged up 118k. So we are both heading back healthy, and optimistic.

I haven't asked for anything for my birthday in probably 20 years. But today? On my 47th birthday? Yeah! I would like to ask the Poker Gods to PLEASE let my superior hands hold up! Please....allow my one,  maybe two bluffs to NOT get called! And for the love of god...can I be allowed to suck out once or twice myself, if necessary? That's all I ask! I need this, I want this....to re-establish myself as a poker player who knows what the hell he's doing. And to give these members of the 'MarkUp Mafia' something to suck on!!!!



Thursday, February 13, 2014

Slap In the Face to those WITH Disabilities

In the past two decades, our country has taken large strides to provide protection for those who have been put at a disadvantage. I'm talking about the American's With Disabilities Act of 1990,  or ADA. This was introduced as a means of making sure that those with disabilities would have a way to function in society as close to normal as any other person. A few examples are handicap bathrooms, ramps for those confined to wheelchairs, special elevators, parking places at nearly every public location. If you are unaware of the ADA, you are living with your head in the sand.

If you are a professional poker player (or part-timer) or spend a lot of time in casinos, you are acutely aware of the growing number of people buzzing around on those scaled-down versions of golf carts. Scooters. Hove-a-rounds...they come with different names, but they are all mechanized carts to shuttle those who either CAN'T walk on their own, or simply choose NOT to walk  on their own. These people come in all shapes and sizes, and with all different demeanors. My least favorite, are the ones who also probably smoke cigarettes. If you are a non-smoker then you know what I'm alluding to. The smoker who could give two shits less about your personal air. Doesn't care if you are allergic to smoke, or just trying to go home not smelling like tar and nicotine.

You know these folks. Speed limit? Does one really need to be enforced? Or should people just know better than to go ripping through the aisles of a casino at 35 mph? I've contemplated the ways to retaliate against these bastards. About the time I had a guy who weighed about 450-500 lbs roll over my foot one day while on a tournament break up in Tunica about 4 years ago, I've had a special dark place in my heart for those fuckers.

Just so that are perfectly, 100% clear...I am NOT against providing rights for these people. What I AM against, are the people who are taking advantage of those rules to serve their needs, when they don't qualify as someone who needs protection under that law. And the number one violator of that law...happens to be among us at this current poker event.

I've been playing with this guy for years. Some of the players here, it's their first experience with this  guy. Everyone is saying the same exact thing, and not just the players..but the dealers as well. Why? Well...it would be one thing if this guy just happened to be your ordinary, run of the mill overweight man. Who sat in a chair like all the other poker players. But that is NOT this guy.

No...this guy cruises around in his own personal Land Yacht. And he refuses to park it. So he just parallel parks that bitch into his 'space' at the table..always helping himself to the 3 or the 8 seat, even though everyone else gets a 'randomly selected' seat. The unlucky players on either side of him wince in horror, as they know they will be spending the rest of the day (or however long it takes for CartZilla to donk off his chips) riding shotgun on the person's leg who is seated next to them. As a poker player...it is the worst beat you can take before every seeing a hand.

Coupled with the space this guy commands at the table, he is almost ALWAYS either eating while playing...or has food on the way. And manners? Haha...good one. Eating with his mouth open, talking with food in his mouth...piece of food in one hand...cards in the other...it's borderline vomit-inducing. In a sit n go down here last year...he was mid-bite in his salad when he suddenly coughed, sending shards of his meal flying all over my arm. The table stared at me...in horror, waiting on what was sure to be an epic Monkey Melt Down. Instead...I sat there, unfazed, cold, expressionless eyes....staring at the food on my arm. Which elicited that awkward laughter I'm sure you can imagine.

He is disliked by the dealers as well...as they almost all complain about his rudeness on a regular basis. They also agree that him being allowed to pull his beast-mobile into the table, whereas other large people who use them, but who have perfectly good use of their legs, park theirs away from the table and out of the way...and sit in a chair like the rest of us.....is unfair. To everyone. 

Yesterday, while playing a SNG...I was in the 5 seat. Well, these tables here are close together to start out with. But he was in the 3-seat (and 2 and 4 seat, for the most part) and what that meant was I was PINNED to my seating area. If I wanted to get out, it was impossible. If there had been a fire, I would have had to stand up and dive through the fucking window to get away. I couldn't move back an inch. I was slowing coming out of my skin. Finally he donked off all his chips, going out 7th...and clearing away the space made empty after a day of cleaning out your garage. 

My question? WHY? Why is this guy allowed to inconvenience every person at the poker table, players who have paid good money to assume a chair they have to hope will be unimpeded by the person next to them? We are all pretty sensitive to those who NEED the chair to function. In fact I have two friends who come to mind...no, make it three, who REQUIRE a chair to sit at a poker table and play. Have no problem with it. Glad to have them there playing. Would do anything to help them, whenever possible. And they know that. But when a person...who is perfectly able to get up....walk...and sit in a chair decides he is going to park his ship at the table? It's bullshit.

So...yesterday, as the rhetoric has been building surrounding this guy over the course of the few days I've been here...and other events before this, I decided to ask one of the floor people in management the golden question:

"Why do you guys let him park that thing at the table? Do you guys realize he ISN'T handicapped? That he is just obese and lazy?"

And I got my answer, and it was a predictable response. They just, frankly, don't know how to approach it. They aren't sure if he NEEDS it. (he doesn't) And to order him to sit in a chair, they are concerned, worried actually, that they would somehow be in violation of the ADA...and hence, they are trying to avoid a possible lawsuit. I get that. So they just kind of tolerate it. And make all of us suffer. So its not so much that poker room managers 'allow it' to happen, as much as they nervously just 'let it go' because they are more worried about the possible repercussions. 

Well, something needs to be done about it. I speak for a large majority when I say this has gone on long enough. If you are carrying a card, that states that you are legally disabled, and require a scooter or wheelchair, then FINE...you can play poker at the table, in that device. If you CAN NOT provide that information? Then you sit in a fucking chair, like the rest of us! And oh...if it wouldn't be too much of a bother, bathing before you attend an event, and maybe splashing on some cologne and/or deodorant? Would that be so much to ask? Just think about the poor bastards who have to sit next to you ALL DAY! Or until you get it in bad for the one millionth time and say goodbye to all your chips. TAKE A SHOWER! And please...cover your fucking mouth when you cough. And stop talking with food in your mouth. It's gross!

Allowing these lazy fuckers to pull up to the table in their Land Yachts is nothing but a slap in the face to those people who have actual disabilities. I've talked to a couple of them...and they are grossly offended by it. I pay good money, and so does everyone else...to go play in these tournaments. And the minute you see that fucking heap rolling up on that red scooter....you start to cringe...since that 8-seat next to you is currently unoccupied. 

"Oh god no....please god...don't do it to me....NO...NO .....NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!"

And when he does pull in, requiring everyone within a 25 foot radius to completely reconfigure where their were previously sitting...you go on INSTA-TILT...knowing your day just became all about either putting a silent bounty on him to get him gone as soon as possible, or going on tilt yourself and donking off all your chips. Are you feeling me yet? ITS FUCKED UP!

Or....we can all just cross our fingers....and hope, that if poker room managers aren't going to do something about this guy, and make him conform like everyone else is expected to...that he will go the same route as that wonderful Mr. Creosote in "The Meaning of Life."

Okay...it's time now to go tackle the $1100, Event 9. The last two days...in the $365 6-Max and the $365 NL yesterday, I started one out like a house on fire...sitting on 30k by Level 2...only to see a cacophony of disasters bust me out about 20 from the money. Then yesterday, I was as card dead through nine levels of a tournament as I've been in four years...and I remember that tourney, it was at Venetian...never seen anything like it until yesterday. Then I double up with J10 vs. A5...I triple up with QJ vs. AJ and KQ....my table breaks....I pick up AA for the first time all day....flat an early raiser for 2000...get three more to call. A king-high flop checks to me, and I shove all in for 6k...getting called by one guy, who had KQ. I hold, win a huge pot...and after raising on the button with 99....getting called by the BB, and flopping a set (winning the hand) I was suddenly up to 29k! With the average at 30k. Wow. Now had a shot.

Forget it. Right before dinner break I raised with AKh. Get called by the button and the BB. Flop comes A-3-7. I bet 3000. Guy on button ships. For another 12k. Hmm. I call. A10. Good call. River 10. Fuck. Went to dinner. Came back, and busted on the 2nd hand. Calling a min raise from cut off with A4...flopping 3-5-6....check raising all in,  and seeing that he flopped a set of sixes. Shit. Then bricking out. Busto....21 from the money.

Went down and won another sit n go...that's two now on the trip...and played cash game til midnight, picking up a few hundred bucks. Slept like a baby...and am now ready to go run good in the $1100...and hopefully stick a fork in these asshole's thrashing of me and my 'backing deal' on my Facebook wall...a thread that has been going on now for like 7 days...and now incorporates about 165 posts. I won't even go into detail on that one...other than to say its consumed  way too much of my time this week, and has served to reinforce my opinions about this 'new age' group of poker players and just how fucking annoying they are with their 'know-it-all'  thoughts and ideas on 'poker staking.' If you weren't aware...poker staking has been regulated by Congress when you weren't looking...and now ALL STAKING DEALS now must conform with strict guidelines laid out by our new Poker Czars from the online  world. Most of these 'wizards' you can find hiding behind their keyboards, gnashing their teeth, and pounding on their 'instruments of doom' in places like the 2+2 Forums. They are a delightful lot, and are sure to turn any 'good day' you may be having, into a S.E.A.L. mission where it becomes your primary objective to hunt them down, and when they least expect it....ambush them. Their removal from the poker landscape causes nobody a single wink of unrest.  They simply become a footnote in the annals of poker lore.

Okay, I really must go. Wish me well today. Or don't. Be a hater and wish me failure....that motivates me MORE actually, anyway!


Monday, February 10, 2014

Time For a Change of Scenery...

Well, Coconut Creek managed to chew me up and spit  me out. The Main Event started out pretty decent. I drew a very tough table. And seat 1...which I loathe with a passion. 1 or 9. We had 5 very good players, 2 decent players, and 2 lousy players. Probably not hard to predict that I would have all of my problems with the lousy player seated on my left.
We started with 30k chips. I was up about $2000 after the first break. Then in the next stanza...I lost a huge hand, with good 'ol pocket kings..to the fish in seat 2. I would raise preflop. He would call with 55. The flop came 9-7-4. I bet a good amount on flop, he called...why? No idea. Oh...he 'put me on AK.' Of course...they always do! He conveniently turned a five. I lose 13k on the hand when its all said and done.
I rallied. Got it back up to 30k by the next break and felt a lot better. Then in Level 5 I won a couple big pots...including one where I check raised this twerp who had been constantly raising my blind with crappy hands. He folded...and that pot put me near 40k. Then it happened.
I look down at AA. That great feeling I used to get when looking down at those two beauties...has dimmed lately. Ace of hearts, Ace of spades. I raise to 800. The fish, the nemesis, seated next to me, min raises, to 1600. I then re-raise to 4800. He hesitates. Then calls. The flop comes Kh-10h-6h. I look to make sure I have the ace of hearts. I do. Great place to check and induce a bet from him. I check. He bets 5200. I have a weird feeling he has AK. I make it 13,200. Then he instantly puts me all in.
Shit! That tells me he has got KK. Unreal. but I've got two cards to catch a heart...or another ace...to go to 80,000...be in the top five in chips...and cruise the rest of the day probably. Plus...he COULD just as easily have QQ or JJ with a heart. I call. Yup. KK. And I whiff on the flush or hitting an ace. And bust.
I go play cash for an hour...winning $140 in half an hour. Then decide to go 'try my luck' in the 6pm $560. It comes with a $30k guarantee, which is generally just an after thought, since very few 'guarantee' tourneys ever fail to reach their number. but this one? When I eventually got busted, again with AA...the same ace of hearts and the ace of spades (this time to a clown with KJ who had three hands before re-raised a guy with 3-7 offsuit...and magically hit a gutshot straight on the turn) their were only 21 players...and were paying 6 spots...meaning all of them were going to win decent money.
Had I known how the next ten hours were going to turn out (playing 2/5 cash game) I would have re-bought into that $560 and gone for the top 6 payouts. Well, obviously I'm not Nostradamus...like the imbecile in the 2-seat during the Main. Oh...it wasn't just me he did that to. I watched him float the flop bet on FOUR other occasions, only to get the card he needed on the turn THREE times. I started calling him 'The Floater.' Not sure if he enjoyed that nickname. Frankly, I didn't care.
I  played 2/5 for the next 10 hours....since I knew I wasn't playing on Sunday...but would wait around for Claudia, who had made it back for Day 2 with a small stack. I grinded for hours...getting my 800 buy in busted...bought in for another 500...and after a marathon, ran it up to 1600...or +$300 for the session. Smart move? Get up and GTF out of there with a profit, albeit slim. Dumb move? Try to run it up to $3000 and get to even on the trip. Dumb move would see me flop top set (on a flop of 6-3-4) against a guy who had raised behind me....leading out for $45. I raised to $105. He makes it $225. I'm looking at the board and asking myself...could he really have raised with 2-5? Or 5-7? He wasn't a bad player...so I had a hard time putting him on an overpair...he was capable of folding that. He definitely had SOMETHING. Maybe a set of threes or fours.
And I just couldn't see bringing myself to fold...knowing how many outs I had if he DID have a straight...to win...get my stack to over $3000...and leave with a really good taste in my mouth. I call the $225 to see what the turn brings. It brings a king. He shoves all in. Okay...now why would he do that if he had a straight? I really start thinking he has threes or fours.  Or maybe 55....for a pair with open ended straight draw. I call. Then watch the river bring nothing to help me...a ten. He turns over 2-5 of clubs. Oh my god. He DID raise with that. And flopped a damn straight. I want to throw up. That was it. I got up and left.
Sunday, I took Claudia to the casino, came back to my room and essentially slept, off and on...all day!
We are going to get packed up, check  out of this room, and drive to Palm Beach, look for a room up there...then play the back end of the schedule up there, hoping to make a hit somewhere along the line before next weekend's main event there.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Hello Again South Florida!

Here I am again, back in South Florida. This kind of came out of nowhere. I had no intention of coming down here. I was content to sit at home, get the Super Bowl squares wrapped up, the winners paid, and chill at home, thinking about where to go next. 

Then, all of a sudden, a situation came up. Our friend 'The Claw' who has been in a self-induced state of retirement from poker the last six months after a blazing hot circuit run...had made the decision to accept an offer to play, staked, for a relative stranger...in the $3500 WPT Coconut Creek Main Event. Not feeling comfortable with accepting a free flight and hotel and any potential 'obligations' that may have come with it...my wife encouraged me to drive her down and stay with her...and play the event myself. 

Well? Okay. On my last trip down here in August/September, I min-cashed the Main Event at Hard Rock...and last February I min cashed the Main at Palm Beach in the WSOP circuit event. The cash games down here are soft....really soft. So why not? I decided to go ahead and sell a package to my pool of investors, and welcomed in some new backers who were interested. I sold a package for about $8000...sold 50 shares. In one day...Thursday, I sold 43 of 50 shares. I have 7 unsold, which is fine. I wasn't in a spot where I absolutely HAD to raise the full amount. The package includes the $3500 WPT Main. Then the $1100 Event #9 event at Palm Beach and two potential bullets in the WSOP Palm Beach Main...$1675 twice. If I don't use the 2nd bullet (hopefully) they will all get a total refund. 

Claudia and I  left Biloxi at midnight Thursday. We managed to avoid speeding tickets, car trouble, running out of gas...and didn't run through any tolls. We arrived around noon, got moved into our room, unpacked, showered and went to the casino. I decided to play the $390 Mega at 3pm...thinking a nice way to start my trip would  be to snap off a $3500 mega seat.

I started out...literally, the first hand I  played...with a double up. I raised with JJ. Got five callers. Then the older guy in the BB re-raises...from 250 (blinds at 50/100) to 1250! Huh? Hmmm....smells like either a total steal...or AK. I called. One other guy called. The flop comes Q-Q-4. He bets 1500. I wasn't buying it. I call. His body language looked like he was concerned. Good. I like that. The turn was 7. He bets 1700. I call, again. He looked more uneasy. The river was a 3. He shrugs...and goes all in. I tanked, thought the hand out...and convinced myself he has AK...or a pair under mine. I called. And when he said "You probably have me" looked to see 10-10. Yes! That feels so good when you make those kind of calls, and end up being right. Love that! Double up, to start the game.

A short time later...this OMRG would raise under the gun....at 100/200 to 550. I have AA in middle position...and re-raised to 1300. It folds back to him. He calls. The flop comes Q-4-7. He leads out 850. I raise him to 2250. He calls. ??? I am completely putting him on KQ.The turn is a 5. Nothing suited out there. I am pretty sure I'm good. He checks. I bet 3200. He calls again. River is a ten. And he snap shoves. Weird. I call...since it wasn't much more...and he turns over...what else? Q10. Hilarious. I turn to Claudia, who ironically, had drawn the seat next to me, and rolled my eyes. 

I was decked back down to 4500. I would made a comeback...and get back to 15,000...and we were down to 11 players, starting with just 29 (and three winners) in this mega. Then I had two big hands...one where I missed open-ended, with a pair...and the next where I got fed up with this guy constantly raising me and Claudia...knowing he was just preying on our short stack. I called from the SB with A2h...a min-raise at 600/1200. The flop came Q-9-5 and two hearts. I looked at the stacks. If I checked...and he bet, it was going to take away my check-raise options...meaning I would have to shove against his bet and NEED to hit a heart (at the least) to win the hand. Shoving all in, my 9200...I could likely take the hand down...a much needed pot of around 6k...which would  get me to about 20,000 and some breathing room.

So I shoved. He tanks...and after a long time...calls. With K9 off. Middle pair. 9200, or a little under half his stack. Wow. The guy? The winner of the 2014 Million Dollar Heater at the Beau...who was quick to pass me his phone earlier to show me the picture of him posing for the 'winners' photo of that event. At the time, I congratulated him. I wasn't quite as happy for him after he made that semi-boneheaded call and faded the world...as I turned a wheel draw with a 3....needing a four, a heart, or any ace...15 outs...to get a huge double up. BRICK BRICK. Fuck! I left. Claudia got knocked out right after me. 

She took my car to the hotel, and I opted to play some cash game. In for $300...I was quickly up about $300. Then I made a straight flush with 10-8h...to pocket another $150 for that half hour's 'high hand' promotion. Cool! After about 3 hours I was up $700. Noticing it was getting late...around midnight, I decided to play another 30 minutes then call it a night, get some sleep, and be fresh for today's $3500 Main Event...flight B. I had a rough last hour...missing every draw, getting every bluff called...it was nasty. Lost about $300 of my profit. But still cashed out a reasonable profit. 

Once again...as I tend to always be...I was restless all night the night before a big Main Event. I  hate that. I was the same way before the Super Bowl! Despite getting no sleep the night before, aside from an on-again off-again cat nap, while Claw drove the last four hours...I should have slept like a rock. Negative. But I feel fine. I'm fired up. Ready to go in there, use a great structure...with hour levels, a ton (30k) of chips, and all the blind levels, to my style of game...stay away  from disaster..and try to bag up 100k or more at the end of the day. 

I have 18 supporters on my bandwagon that I am playing for today. So I hope I can give them something to get excited about. And back home...I have a wife and little girl who I'll be trying to impress! I'm looking down at the clock...and see that it's time to go!!!


PS: Thank you to the reader who commented that Jim Rice, who I mentioned in my previous post as NOT being in the Hall of Fame (undeservedly) is in fact in the Hall of Fame...voted in as a member in 2009.

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Dream Come True...

Something happens when you're a little boy. Well...but before that happens, you're father (typically father, the occasional single mom) decides it's time for you to take up sports. So they drag you off to t-ball, or soccer. Even basketball. Some kids take to it right away and it becomes a part of their DNA. A smaller group reject it, and grow up to be fashion designers or theater actors. 

For those of us who decide we like sports, and make it part of our daily lives, we eventually start noticing the sports we are playing, being played on our television. By bigger, much more talented, men. Men wearing cool uniforms. Some of us kids lived in big cities that had professional teams...and those teams became the teams we rooted for. And so this story repeats itself, over and over, for decades and decades all around our world.

In the United States, one of those sports that capture our imagination at a young age is football. Almost all little boys find their favorite football team at an early age. When I was 8, I was living in Kalispell, Montana with my Mom and her asshole of a 3rd husband...who would spend the next 8 years physically abusing me. To his credit....and the ONLY thing I credit him with, he did introduce me to sports, and even took the time to teach me to be good at them. Granted, this was more about him not wanting to be embarrassed by a kid he had to take credit for. Since he claimed (and certainly had the trophies to prove it, which my little brother and I ended up burning in a garage stove one day while cleaning up the garage, not realizing their significance; yes, that resulted in an incredibly painful beatdown from his Royal Assholeness) to have been a great athlete in 'his day.' 

Living in Montana...I had a few choices as my favorite team. The Seahawks hadn't been born yet. It was 1975. I could root for the Broncos. Or the Vikings. Geographically they were the closest. I was a little partial to the Green Bay Packers...because I liked their colors. But for some reason, I became a Baltimore Colts fan. Bert Jones was my favorite player. Which would never happen today, since Bert was an LSU guy. Him and Lydell Mitchell. Those were my first memories. Those Colt teams were always really good, but always stumbled just a step shy of the Super Bowl....losing to either Oakland, New England or Pittsburgh. My memories of the NFL as a kid were almost magical. Super Bowl Sunday was a vacation from the abuse of my step father. It was that day when nothing could go wrong. I would wake up early....watch the all-day-long pregame show...biding the time before the big game started. And those first four Super Bowls were all spent watching from my Baltimore Colts bean bag chair.

So, in 1980, shortly after the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, which blanketed our town in volcanic ash and turned daytime into nighttime in the time it took for the cloud of ash to travel over our town, my step-dad's business went bankrupt. A lot of that had to do with his drinking and gambling. It was time to pack up and move back to Seattle, where we had come from 6 years earlier...where my mother had quit a great job, and moved out of a house she owned on her own. In other words....gave up a good life to pursue one with 'The Prick.' I became the new kid in school, settling in at Rose Hill Jr High in Kirkland...which at the time, was the city where the Seattle Seahawk's headquarters were...and who practiced just down the road from my school.

The Seattle Seahawks...who in their first four seasons had certainly never made the playoffs...but who gave fans a thrill almost every Sunday, at home in the Kingdome, or on the road. They had Jim Zorn at quarterback, Steve Largent at wide receiver and were coached by Jack Patera, who ran a wide-open offense that featured a lot of trick plays. There were seldom games that weren't exciting. They didn't win a whole lot...but boy were they fun to watch. And there were never games in Seattle that weren't sold out. Weekends as a kid in Seattle were incredible, with the Huskies playing on Saturday...followed by the Seahawks on Sunday. Nothing but loud, packed houses for both...every game.

About the same time my mom divorced 'The Prick' the Seahawks made a bold move...bringing in former Rams and Buffalo coach, Chuck Knox, a man who'd taken a team (LA Rams 1979) to the Super Bowl...and had plenty of playoff success. Later, in my junior year at Redmond High School, playing in a football game against Bellevue High, I would be ran over...no no...I mean...like flattened, trampled...by running back Chuck Knox, Jr...who would lead Bellevue to the State Title, and follow that up with a career at the University of Arizona. Coach Knox turned the Seahawks into winners. New quarterback Dave Krieg was handing the ball off to Curt Warner. He was passing to All-Pro and future Hall of Famer Steve Largent. The defense was tough....led by Future Ring of Honor Seahawks like Jacob Green and Kenny Easley. Monday night football in the Kingdome was the loudest place on Earth...and when the Raiders came to town...or the Broncos...in an AFC West showdown...it would turn the town blue all week. These were the Seahawks of my childhood.

In 1983....while I was in the midst of my juvenile delinquent stage....my mother packed up my brother and I and we drove to Kalispell, to spend Christmas with my grandparents. By this time, I  had a job bussing tables at a restaurant. I also was getting into a lot of trouble. I liked parties...attending them, and hosting them. Well, I had planned a party for the weekend after Christmas, a New Year's Eve party at the condo we lived in. I had convinced my mother that I had to be back to work New Year's Eve at my job...and she was going to let me go home on a bus...or maybe it was a train. I don't recall. Well, my mom, being the eternal snoop, peeked into a Christmas card from a buddy of mine, Grant McKenzie...who said something to the tune of "your party is gonna be awesome!" and next thing you know, I was banned from going home. Shit!

I couldn't accept that. After all, I had 100's of people from three different high schools all planning to come to my house. Was I going to risk my popularity by not being there? Hell no! It wasn't even an option. So when they all went out to shop, I packed up my stuff and hitch hiked to the bus station, where I bought a ticket and waited to leave. I boarded the bus...and then damn, here came the police. Shit! They boarded the bus, tagged me, and pulled me off. They took me to jail and made me sit there....for two days. Oh, my mom could have gotten me out. But she didn't. She made me sit in there....to, you know, teach me a lesson. I know, that as a parent, it was probably the 'right' thing to do. But 30 years later, I can tell you...it didn't teach me anything. All it did was piss me off, and make me loathe my Grandfather (who I always despised, and who I figured was behind her decision to keep me in the can) even more. But the thing that pissed me off the most?

The Seattle Seahawks were in Miami....a week after winning their first playoff game in franchise history, 31-7 over the hated Denver Broncos in the wild-card game. They were there as huge underdogs to the Miami Dolphins, led by Hall of Famer Dan Marino. And I was sitting in jail. With no TV. Except I could hear the guards listening on a TV. I was furious. And Seattle would go on to win the game...27-20...sending them to the AFC Championship game...the only time they ever made it to the AFC Championship game, to face the L.A. Raiders.

I was freed from jail. We rode home to Seattle in complete silence. Even as my mother put the car into a 360 degree spin on an icy highway on a mountain pass in Idaho...I sat there, expressionless. That moment broke the ice a little bit between my mom and I...as she was clutching herself and screaming...only to look over at her 16 year old son who looked like he was on 5 hits of Xanax. Once home....it was a week of trepidation for the biggest game of my young life. There was just one little problem. I also would be serving one of my four court-ordered weekends in Juvenile Detention. Say what, you ask? Yeah...well, me and some buddies had a secret entry into the Kingdome that we had discovered a few years back...and we would sneak back in...to gain an advantage in the game of autograph hunting. All the other kids would have to wait for the players to come through the gate...and would have only 50 feet between the gate and the bus to work with. 

Yep! That was me! Rebel without a CLUE!

Not us. We would pin them down as soon as they walked out of the locker room. And security? Pfft. This was the early 80's folks...no one cared back then. I was piling up a mountain of autographs and memorabilia. We decided one day to take it up a notch. We got brave. We started letting ourselves into the locker rooms. Walking around....with some players still in there. We played on the whole 'cute kids' thing to perfection. Oh it was brilliant. Got to see how the clubhouse was laid out...with the spread of food in the middle of the room. Where all the TVs were, the training rooms. Very cool. We got a little bolder. Once the players all cleared out..we started taking things...like batting helmets, and bats. We made a nice score when the Yankees came to town. But then when the Red Sox came to town...we got REALLY greedy...and ended up taking an entire equipment bag to our car...well, my mom's car...that I was allowed to drive. 

As we were set to pull out from the Kingdome parking lot...someone yelled that they knew what we did, that they had taken down our license plate number and called the police. We drove a stealthy getaway route...back to our homes in Redmond, sure we had pulled the 'caper-of-the-century.' An investigator's call to our house the following Monday proved I hadn't gotten away with it. Long story short, I got busted. I had to give everything back. But....and very few people know this...I kept Jim Rice's batting helmet...and have used it for years. Jim Rice...number 44...who was GREAT...and who SHOULD be in the Hall of Fame. But mysteriously, he still isn't. Anyway...I was a kid, so I got off relatively light. My two friends, one a mormon, who's dad went to court and painted him as an angel who was led down the wrong path by me...the 'bad influence' kid from a broken home and the other; who's dad had a lot of pull, apparently in the court system, both skated with a slap on the wrist...while I did 'hard time' in 'Juvey' for four long weekends. Honestly though...it was a walk in the park.

But that is where I sat watching the 1983 AFC Championship game...won by the LA Raiders 30-16...who then went on to beat the Washington Redskins...a game where Marcus Allen would win the MVP award. The same Marcus Allen who I'd met, after the game while seeking autographs, after a Husky game two years prior, when the Huskies upset the #3 USC Trojans in the wind and the rain of Husky Stadium...in what, to that point...had been my greatest sports experience to date. You may be able to see that football played a pretty important role in my life as a kid!

The Seahawks lost that day...and it really hit me hard. All I could think about was the Super Bowl. How incredibly close we had come. And we missed. The next year, we would get revenge, beating the Raiders 13-7 in the Wild Card game in a raucous Kingdome...only to then lose to the Miami Dolphins...them getting revenge on us this time 31-10. Until 2005...we would make the playoffs five times....losing all five years in the first round...four of those wild-card matchups.

Then...in 2005...the magic returned. Shaun Alexander would rush for 1800+ yards, and an NFL record 28 TD's...Matt Hasselbeck was our steady, consistent QB...and we were led by a coach who had won a Super Bowl with Green Bay, and another great QB in Brett Favre. We went 13-3...then steam-rolled the Redskins and the Panthers to make it, for the first time ever...to the Super Bowl. I had now turned 40. I wasn't a kid anymore. I was in a committed relationship with the woman I would later marry. And I was faced with the decision of going to Detroit to see the game...or going to Vegas to watch it like a 'playa!' Well, Detroit as most of you know....is kind of a dump, not much to do or see there...and tickets were beyond expensive. So we chose to go to Vegas. We watched with a great bunch of people, and hung out a little with NASCAR driver Elliot Sadler. Squirrel and I were decked out in our Seahawks jersey...and while attending a party at the Bellagio, settled in to watch what I hoped would be our first Super Bowl victory.

Most of you know how that game turned out. A goal line ruling...by now- infamous referee Bill Leavy...turned the tide of the game...when Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisburger was ruled to have scored a TD when it was clear for all 100 million people watching that he never came close to crossing the goal line. Even after a video review! Then a phantom pass interference call...an 'illegal blocking' call on Hasselbeck, after he threw an interception and tackled the guy...was one of the most bizarre and unexplained calls in Super Bowl history. It was a collection of things that turned the game in Pittsburgh's favor...and led to what some deemed, the NFL's going away prize to Jerome Bettis, who retired after the game.  

(if you watched yesterday's Super Bowl...you might have heard Joe Buck's comment prior to kickoff when they were discussing the game's officials...."Not that Seattle would ever concern themselves with the officiating crew of a Super Bowl." Instant classic!)

I have spent the past 8 years being bitter about that game. All of my Pittsburgh fan/friends know it too, and haven't failed to miss any opportunity to turn the knife on many occasions. Our next four playoff appearances would go WIN, LOSS...WIN, LOSS ....WIN, LOSS and again, WIN, LOSS. Last year was especially painful....as we came from a big halftime deficit to catch the #1 seed Atlanta Falcons, in Atlanta...taking a lead with just 1 minute left...a minute that I was cringing about, feeling we'd left them too much time. I was in Choctaw...playing in that poker tourney....and as Marshawn Lynch crossed the goal line to take the lead...the Tournament Director was just announcing that we had made the money in their first huge event up there. It was a moment to feel good. A moment that was doused just a few minutes later when Matt Ryan led Atlanta to a game-winning field goal. Then five minutes after that...I was busted from the tourney. I retreated to my hotel room to mourn for the rest of the day.

I know this blog is long. I don't care. You have the option of moving on....

This year...we didn't sneak up on anyone. People knew our defense was for real. They knew this exciting rookie Russell Wilson was the real deal. Everyone was familiar with Beast Mode, and his penchant for Skittles! This was going to be the year of the Seahawks! Right? All the preseason predictions did NOTHING but make me nervous as hell. Usually, preseason expectations lead to postseason disappointment. But things stayed on track all year. A narrow loss in Indy made us 4-1 before we reeled off 7 in a row...some in not-so-impressive fashion, as we relied heavily on our defense while we played without our go-to receivers in Sidney Rice and prized free-agent acquisition Percy Harvin.

But there we were...11-1 and poised to win the division and clinch home-field advantage. But a loss on the road to San Francisco...a game I thought we actually played great...and served notice to the 49'ers that we would not be bullied, tightened up the race and made things scary. Then...we lost at home...for the first time in two seasons...to tough Arizona...who will be tough again next year too I think. It might have been a blessing for us...as I look at it now...letting the team know they still had to give 100% to win at home...that those automatic wins weren't so automatic. We were 12-3 now...and were at serious risk to fall to a wild card. If we lost at home to the always-pain-in-the-ass Rams...and San Fran won at Arizona....that would be the outcome.

Forget it. The birds took care of business...crushing the Rams...clinching everything, and setting up the perfect scenario. TWO WINS...two wins in front of the 12th man...to return to the Super Bowl for the first time in 8 years. First up....Saints.

This was kind of bittersweet...as I like the Saints. Love Drew Brees. Love their coming back from the scrap heap of Bounty Gate a year prior. And it's my wife's favorite team. And of course, a lot of my friends down here on the coast. But my loyalties lay with my Seahawks. Not even close. And it was a dominating performance by Seattle for 3 and a half quarters...until a little late game heroics by Brees nearly brought them back. Nothing comes easy as a Seahawks fan!

This set up the NFC Championship game that EVERYONE in Seattle was clamoring for. There is a deep-seeded hatred for the 49ers. In fact...when I lived in Seattle, the people with all their money from the Bay Area were invading Seattle, and driving up real estate values...which resulted in a major backlash in people's feelings towards Northern Californians in general. So it wasn't just about sports. Seattle residents HATE almost all things Bay Area-related. Back in the days of the AFC West it was the Raiders.

The Niner fans took up a collection and bought several billboards along the freeway that leads to the stadium, mocking Seahawks fans for rooting for a team with NO Lombardi Trophies, where the Niners have 5. 'Got Trophies?' Fuck you SF! What have you won lately? Kind of the same thing the Dallas Cowboys fans do (to even more ridiculous lengths)...brag about all their past Super Bowl glory...despite not having won (or played in) a Super Bowl since 1996. And San Fran hasn't won one since 1995. So both of you can stick a sock in it!

Before the game started, I told a lot of people I was more concerned, and nervous, about that game...then I was in a potential Super Bowl matchup against either New England or Denver. I just know enough about football, about matchups and about history, to know that the Niners would represent our biggest challenge. And I'd have to say I was right. The Niner game was a slug-fest. Granted, our defense played lights out, limiting their running game to nothing from the RB's...and only a few scrambling open-field gains from Kaeperdick (yes, I intended to spell his name that way). Their passing game was non-existent in the first half. And once we got our offense going in the second half...it was our game to lose...which almost happened, until Richard Sherman did what he's been doing since we drafted him in the 5th round...breaking up the most important pass of the game and tipping it to eventual Super Bowl XLVIII MVP Malcolm Smith to ice the game and send my beloved Seahawks to the Super Bowl!!!

It has been a very, very long two weeks. Hours of mixing it up with mostly idiots on message boards on ESPN and other websites...which is just a waste of time. My wife asks me over and over why I leave comments on them. I don't have any idea. But when you believe so firmly in your team it's just so tempting to defend them against naysayers. And of course Richard Sherman's little outburst, which I think he has sufficiently made up for...just made for a very annoying two weeks of lead-up to the game.

I posted my prediction in many places.... SEATTLE 27 DENVER 21...citing my amazing record in Super Bowls and my ability to almost nail the scores. Well...I wasn't even CLOSE on the score...but if you took my advice and simply bet on them? And took the over? Which was 47...well, you were a double winner!

Yesterday was like Christmas. I hadn't slept more than an hour all week without waking up. And Saturday night? It was a joke. I took a melatonin to help...but was up all night...the anticipation killing me. I was out of bed at 8:30am...getting Carley dressed up in her Seahawks jersey. Putting on mine. Cheryl had hers on. I started in on my Super Bowl squares...which, holy smoke...set an all-time record for boards filled. Last year was the old record...where I filled up 14 boards. Yesterday, I filled 20 boards! 3 boards at $100 a square. 5 boards at $50 a square...and 12 boards at $25 per square. 2000 squares to account for! I had 18 sold out with 30 minutes to kickoff and people hammering me with emails asking for more. Fine. I opened up two more. They were sold out in like 15 minutes. Incredible. Overall I had a 'decent' Super Bowl in the squares department. Nothing like last year....or the year the Saints won. I was invested for $7750. My commission from running the boards was $6800 total...so I went into the game stuck $950. I won $4150 total....so ended up clearing about $3200. Now, and this is where my wife questions me...I could never buy a single square...and make great money.....$6800 on just running them. And that would make the most sense from a business point-of-view... I realize that. 

But how much of a dick would that make me? Guy just runs pools...doesn't play in them...and just makes money on us suckers! Wouldn't that be the sentiment? I think so. And I just love the excitement of rooting for your numbers to come in. It really adds to the excitement of the game...and in a game like yesterday...a blowout? It's sometimes the only thing to cling to, that and the over/under for the gamblers. It takes a lot of hours to do...but it's worth it I think. And the 'thank yous' I get from people really lets me know how much they appreciate the added entertainment value to their Super Bowl experience. The next week will consist of processing payments...and then next week...I will be sending off about $75,000 in winnings! One thing about the end of football season...my bank account always goes back to a normal balance! If anyone at my bank is watching my balance they must just be shaking their head wondering what the hell is going on in my life!

I don't even need to discuss the game do I? I mean...talk about the 12th man making their presence felt. On the first play of the game...and TWELVE seconds in...an errant snap led to a 2-0 Seattle lead on a safety. Then, to start off the second half...already leading 22-0 in the biggest shutout score in Super Bowl history at the half...Percy Harvin did what we spent millions on him to do....he returned a bit of a pooch kick (designed to keep him FROM doing what he was about to do!) all the way for a touchdown...and a seemingly insurmountable 29-0 lead. In...yes...TWELVE seconds. Eerie, isn't it!???

I know the networks (especially!) and the casual fan always roots for a close, exciting Super Bowl...and admittedly I am usually one of those. But when it's your team playing for the Lombardi Trophy? That feeling goes out the window. In fact...you PRAY for a blowout. Screw a close game, screw being stressed out down to the last second. I'd had enough of that this postseason! Give me a game where I can be hoarse by the end of the 1st quarter...then just sit and grin like a Cheshire cat for the rest of the game. That's what yesterday was....a long 60-minute coronation of my lifelong dedication as a fan to that of SUPER BOWL CHAMPION fan of the SEATTLE SEAHAWKS! Proud doesn't even begin to describe my feeling. 

I think about the players we have. How young they are. How most of them aren't even eligible to renegotiate until after NEXT season. An owner with the deepest pockets and a heavy desire to not just win...but to win big. Some teams like to just compete, and make money. Paul Allen is a winner...one of the founders of Microsoft and owner also of the Portland Trailblazers, and resident of Seattle. 

There might be some players, Michael Bennett comes to mind...who decide to parlay his success with Seattle into a huge free agent deal somewhere...and that's cool, you gotta respect a man's decision to make the money while he can...an NFL player's window to make good money is small. But with Pete Carroll being deemed the coach players most want to play for (that was a vote, I'm not just making this up) and Seattle offering a legit chance to win a Super Bowl...filling any holes left open will be easy...and you know there are solid players who will be willing to take a smaller contract for the chance to win a ring. 

We are still one of the youngest teams in the league...and are led by a quarterback who is...well, what can you say? Years beyond his age. Mature, intelligent, classy...a hard worker. Humble. I personally fell in love with this kid last season. I don't care that he doesn't pass for 300 yards a game and throw 3 or 4 TD's a game. He doesn't need to. Maybe if he needed to, he would. He's a bit like AJ McCarron was for Alabama. Classy, good kid, team player. Winner. Only, lucky for me...Russell Wilson isn't going to graduate in 3 years. 

This Super Bowl has given me the greatest joy as a sports fan. It's made all those Super Bowls I've watched since I was 7 years old mean so much more. It's true, I wanted so badly to travel to NY for the game. But as a responsible father...I can't make decisions like spending $5,000 to see a football game, when I have a daughter who needs to be taken care of for at least the next 20 years. I have a wife who clamors for a house we aren't paying rent on. So do I! So to watch from my couch, with the two loves of my life...who understand my passion for the Seahawks....it was just fine. I couldn't have gone to bed last night any happier. Yes...that depression that always sets in when the last football game of the year has been played...has set in a little bit. But I just think about how excited I am going to be this coming fall...a new chapter for Alabama football, also for my Washington Huskies, with a great new coach (Chris Petersen from Boise State)...and my Seahawks...who will come back stronger than ever...and trying to do it all over again.

Since Carley Grace came into our lives....we watched, in person...from the Superdome...with Carley in Mama Squirrel's tummy...as Bama crushed LSU to win the National Title. Then a year later...with Carley crawling around, we watched them destroy Notre Dame to do it again. And this year...with Carley running around the house yelling BOOM! as she heard Daddy yelling every time the Seahawks made a huge defensive play...we won a SUPER BOWL!!!! Wonder what act she will have in the 4th year!???

Squirrel has just left the house...for Baton Rouge, to go spend the evening with a bunch of her friends...as part of a surprise birthday party for our good friend Claudia 'The Claw' Crawford...a fellow Aquarian. (I'll turn 47 on Feb, 16th). So it's just Carley and I tonight. Carley attended her first day of Daycare today...it was pretty traumatic...mostly on me and Squirrel, as we stood in the hallway fighting back tears as Carley ran around the room crying and looking for us. We only made her stay a few hours before picking her up. Baby steps!

I know I owe you guys a blog about my Main Event...and really, my last week there...in Choctaw, and I promise...it's coming. Soon. Like maybe in the next day or two. But this was fresh in my mind...and I felt like sharing. If you are a Broncos fan, or lost money betting ON the Broncos...I'm sorry if you hated this post. I was prepared for losing the Super Bowl. I have always admired Peyton Manning, and would have handled losing to him just fine...as I'm sure the Seahawks would have. He is a great QB...and its amazing the things he does on the field. But yesterday....my Seahawks proved what a great defense can do to a great offense. I think I will go now, and watch the Super Bowl back on the DVR!!!!