Friday, May 30, 2014

Vegas Needs a Report, I Know!

This will not be a long post. It can't be. I have to get to Venetian and get into the $600 tourney, Flight 1A. Hoping I can bag chips and spend tomorrow sleeping in and laying at the pool then come back Sunday to go for a big win.

My first event, I played 1B..bagged a smallish amount of chips...then came back....got hot, and got down to 2 tables before I wasn't able to get a guy to fold AJoff to my 3-bet with 88...a clean flop had me hopeful for a double up...but then he turned and rivered a jack to  knock me out with a $2700 cash. 

Next I played the $300 Black Bounty Chip tourney...it was paying 15. I got down to 27 and had AQ lose to A10 to finish short of the money.

I bricked an Omaha tourney...where I kept getting beat on the river...and also was getting my soul owned by an OMRG who kept three-betting my raises with hands like AA23 with his hands of 3-4-6-9...and worse. Didn't matter, he kept beating me. It sucked.

AQ was again the out hand in yesterday's $500 two-flight event. I was started slow...but by the 6th level, had my 99 flop a set to get a set of 4's and a guy with top pair to commit their whole stacks to me. Then on the last hand before the 3rd break I busted a guy with JJ with my QQ and now I had 90K. I got it to 105k...then the chain of disasters started.

I raised to 2200 at 500/1000...with AA...the first time I'd seen them this tourney. This old guy just jams 32k all in...with KK. Of course I called, and of course he hits a king. Here we go, I thought. Not too long later....I flop a set of 6's on a board of 6-7-8 with two clubs. I check, the kid (scrawny little dork with no emotion who bet like a robot) bets...and I raise him. He shoves all in. I can't fold. He has AQc. He gets there. Down to 22k. Blind down a bit....then shove AQ and get called by AJ. Everything is looking like a double up until the river brings a jack. Unreal. A double up there and I'd have been right near the average with only 15 minutes left to play. Then I'd have gone back today and tried to get another cash, only deeper this time.

Instead I went and got some sushi at Kaizen...then came to my room, was asleep by ten and slept until 11! 13 hours of much-needed sleep. I also have not been able to shake this damn cough that is either bronchitis or pneumonia...the doctor wasn't sure. All I know is I've been taking my meds, and drinking a ton of water...and it still persists.

One great thing happened yesterday, as my New York Rangers won a squeaker in Game 6 at the Garden to beat Montreal 4 games to 2 and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 20 years. I'm really hoping LA wins over Chicago so I can drive to LA for either Game 1 or 2 next week! I've never been to a Stanley Cup Finals game. I've been to the deciding game of a World Series, four Super Bowls, BCS title games, NCAA Final Fours and NBA Finals game...but never a Stanley Cup final. 

Tuesday night Annie LePage hosted her annual Pre-WSOP dinner at Maggiano's and I went to that. It was fun, and the food was great.

I'm staying again at the Riviera...where they've done a little remodeling and upgraded the pool. Got another good rate. The weather has been sunny and hot every day so far.

I miss Carley like crazy...and she has been waking up in the middle of the night screaming for 'Dada' which breaks my heart and makes the bad beats even harder to take. I mean, if I have to be here and be away from her...I better be running good and making us some money.

The fashions of Vegas have failed to disappoint, as usual. Just watching the people walk by is so entertaining...there is, of course, those who are dazzling in what they've chosen to wear, and you have to just marvel at how they manage to stay looking so good, and then of course you have those who you just wonder who let them leave their room looking like they look. Wondering what went through their head that allowed them to put on that outfit they are wearing. It makes trips to Vegas very entertaining.

I've obviously got plenty more to write about...but I don't want to be late...as the horrible players really do like to give away their chips early. Rebuying...whether it be for 400, 500 or 600 bucks...doesn't seem to be an issue at all for a lot of these clowns...and anytime you flop a set or a straight,  you have an excellent chance of getting the guy who flopped top/top to double you up. 

So...with that being said. SEE YA!!!!


Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Mystery and Tragedy of Death before our Due Date...Part 2

(if any of you came to read a story you heard  I posted about the death of a fellow poker player's 2-year old daughter...I received a text message earlier from a friend and blog reader, informing me that the actual person was someone who has a very similar name, almost identical spelling. I've simply deleted all references from this post. I apologize to those who may have been affected by that post)

I promised I would finish this, and I didn't want to let another week or so go by before I got around to it. Last night's birthday party for Carley was a total hit. She had a blast...and as a father, just seeing that sparkle in her eye, and that smile on her face..makes whatever price came along with throwing that party irrelevant. Squirrel did a great job of organizing the event and buying all the necessary things to make it a real party. She is great when it comes to things like that.

So yeah...Cincere was laid to rest yesterday, and I will trust it was a wonderful service with lots of her closest friends and family present. They will be  holding a memorial  for her this  Monday on the Gulf Coast for all of her friends and the poker community to pay their respects. I expect a big turnout for that.


A lot of you know I am good friends with Chad Brown...have been for over 20 years now. We started out as baseball teammates, and I even worked for him as a waiter once in his all-male dance team...if you've seen Magic Mike...yeah! One of those. We've stayed in touch all these years, hooking up whether he lived out in LA, or in South Florida. He was always there to lend an ear whenever I was facing adversity and just needed the advice of a friend. Chad has always had time to hear people. I don't know what I can say about Chad that hasn't already been said by others. I think the ONLY thing I've ever heard negative said about Chad, was something every douchebag poker player has to say about ANY poker player who have enjoyed success exceeding anything they've come close to achieving. You know who I'm talking about. I'm talking about haters. And poker has way, way too many of them.

One of the best examples of who Chad is...and how much I wish I could be like him...is a clip in this movie down below....where he is featured as a member of our baseball team that goes out to Phoenix/Tempe every fall and plays against other 40+ year old teams to win their version (NABA) of the World Series...which our 50+ year old guys won this  past year. I played on the 45+ team...we didn't fare quite as well. But we were all basically all one unit,  and were in it together...on both teams/leagues...so we all enjoyed the ups and downs of both teams.

In this clip...he is seen playing Stud-7 against Men The Master (aka Men the Cheater) when Men tells him he got lucky...that he's been getting a lot of good hands, and that Men is a much better player than Chad. How does Chad react? In true Chad fashion...he smiles, looks to someone to his left...where he just kind of smiles and laughs...then nods in agreement with Men. Class, just class. I'm afraid I would be incapable of that kind of reaction. I don't know...maybe now...but definitely not two years or longer. No way!

I'm not going to get too personal into what Chad is now going through. All I'm going to say, is that the United States sucks when it comes to allowing certain procedures to take place in the medical field. You can blame that on the corrupt FDA...who often times won't approve certain drugs because they are being leaned on by lobbyists who want to keep them off the market because it affects their pocket book. Pretty disgusting, but cancer is a big business in the US health system. Finding a cure for cancer is NOT what most in the medical field want to see. So for a person like Chad...with a fighting spirit, that isn't ready to just lay down in a bed and await their final breath...it makes it really frustrating. Chad has been going on a basic world tour the last 4 years or so, seeking answers, looking for treatment, undergoing procedures...in his quest to beat his rare form of cancer. 

I texted with Chad yesterday...confirming his plans for this week...which amounts, in essence, to his last resort. A trip to Mexico to meet with doctors for another non-FDA-approved treatment. If it is successful...Chad has hope. If not...well, things look grim. A mutual friend of ours flew to NYC yesterday to spend some time with Chad and drive him to the airport this morning. He sent me a picture of them, along with Chad's father. I barely recognized Chad. I won't lie...it was sobering. I'm praying for a miracle for my friend, and hope all of you are too. We made a pact, Chad and I. I'm not going to tell you about it...not today. Maybe later. I'm hoping it's a deal I don't have to follow through on...but if I must, I will. 


I have a friend, her name is Weronicka. I've always called her Wonky. We both have very similar senses of humor, which means when it comes to poker, we get along really well. One of the greatest things about her...we can be playing poker on the other side of the country...and I will suddenly get this text from her, bitching about some idiot at her table..and it's like I'm there with her. She cracks me up. Wonky is married to a guy who flies fighter jets. They are both young. Kind of your All-American dream team, right? Well, again...without getting too personal into her past...her and 'Rage' got pregnant in the last two years. And on the heels of me and Cheryl having Carley, she was so excited. We check in with each other on a regular basis to talk about how her pregnancy was going. 

It's funny...once you bring a child into the world, a whole different side of you is awakened. You start to notice every little Facebook post where people's kids are involved. You carefully watch those moms who are having difficulties while in labor. You read books to be a better parent you never would have imagined yourself reading. I guess this is the process of becoming a less selfish, self-centered human being. It becomes a lot less about you and a lot more about those around you, especially your children.

Wonky had her baby...David. I looked with fondness at the pictures over the first few months. I real all her posts. Like I do with all my friends who have babies, Joe Cutler, Jason Young, Bill Phillips, Dan Walsh, Tyler Smith, John Dolan, Josh Brikis...the list is long and keeps getting longer. Everything seemed fine.

Then I started seeing some warning signs. Long bouts of non-stop crying. Other things. She would start to ask me certain questions about Carley. Then one day...out of nowhere, she just lost it. Confessing to me that David had a very serious condition...one that was going to permanently limit his ability to function normally.Without getting into too much detail, which...our of respect to her I won't...the bottom line is that David has been back and forth to the hospital over the last six months, numerous times with pneumonia. She had to rush him back again the other day...where they had him laying on a bed of ice to bring his temperature down. It breaks my heart. He is approaching one year old..and I don't think a day has gone by that he hasn't had tubes running into his nose.

Wonky has started to come to terms that she is most likely going to lose little David. We have talked about it a lot. I can't begin to imagine the number of tears she has shed over the past 365 days. I'm not one who is big on quoting verses from the bible, or giving inspirational messages that come off as cliche.  I try to be as honest and heartfelt as I possibly can. The only thing I can think of to tell her...is to simply immerse herself in that baby as long as she can. Absorb all of his love. Let him know how much she loves him...and know in her heart...that one day, she will reunite with him in a better place. I want so much for her to be at peace when his soul finally surrenders his body. I don't know how any person...any parent...ever goes through that type of thing and emerges in a state of mind most consider to be 'normal.'

Part of me feels guilty that I am so blessed with this perfect little girl when there are others who have been made to suffer so unfairly. Wonky sends me pictures of her holding David...with his little tubes going into his nose...and then I might send back a selfie of me and Carley snuggling on the couch...and then I feel guilty. Does she feel like I am rubbing it in her face that my baby is 100% healthy? And going to probably live a long, eventful life? Should I not send her pictures? There has to be some feelings of bitterness, doesn't there? In a parent with a terminally ill child? How could there NOT be?

I don't know all the answers. I don't know what the right and wrong way are to act all the time. I try...and I've probably gotten a lot better about it in the past 10 years or so. I just know that life sure has become a lot more precious to me since Miss Carley Grace came into my life. And the things I will do, the things I will sacrifice, to make a great life for her...are the only things that are really important to me now. I hear these things happening all around me and they scare me, they really do. I can't even begin to imagine the pain, the absolute heartbreak associated with burying your child.

People don't go through life not being challenged by adversity. It's that adversity that molds us, and makes us the person who people talk about once we leave this Earth. Some can't handle the pain...the challenges...and they take their own lives. They are remembered that way. Some of us can sympathize, some of us can't. Still others take that pain...and they use it to get stronger, mentally and emotionally. They go on to do great things. To raise families. There is no perfect road map to success and happiness in this world, because there are just too many detours along the way that make it impossible to predict. The best we can do, is to do the best we can with the tools we have.

I hope you all have a good Sunday. I will be leaving for Vegas on Wednesday I think. I'm planning on stopping off in Arlington/Dallas to see my Seattle Mariners play an afternoon game against the Rangers...before getting back on the road. I hope to arrive in Vegas in time to play their first event...a $400 tourney with 3 starting days. I am staying at the Riviera for the umpteenth time. I sold 40 shares for my trip...and sold them all in less than three days. I've raised a $7500 bankroll for this summer...and kicked in $2500 of my own...so for you markup cops out there...go ahead and get to work on that one...drive yourself crazy trying to figure out what I priced myself at this year!!! Let me just help you though. Starting bankroll: $10,000. We break even ...as in...end up at $10,000...instead of getting $187.50 back per share? (what they paid) They get $250. Yeah...they get an even cut of my 'kicked in' contribution. Anything over $10,000...they get 40% of, I get 60% of.  Pretty simple. Last year? I  went with a $7500 bankroll...closing figure was $15,800. Everyone roughly doubled their investment. 

Oh and, uh...if the New York Rangers should continue this good run...and wind up in the Stanley Cup Finals....I will....WILL...be making an impromptu trip to NYC...staying with a friend, and going to at least ONE game. Yesterday's 7-2 route in Game 1 at Montreal has me feeling pretty good about their chances. Today...at 2pm...the newest member of the Rangers, Martin St. Louis will be joined by his teammates as they lay his mother to rest. His mother, France, died suddenly of a heart attack back before Game 5...with the Rangers trailing Pittsburgh 3 games to 1. What has happened since then...the way the team has rallied around their teammate,  has been almost magical. Maybe the Rangers have an angel on the ice working for them?  :)


Friday, May 16, 2014

The Mystery and Tragedy of Death Before our Due Date

This could become a very difficult blog for me to write. Often times I say things I don't actually mean to convey the way they come out looking/sounding. You can't interpret a person's intonation through print like you can in the spoken version...and so it leaves you wide open sometimes for people to take shots at you. You also can't make those who don't know you...understand your thoughts and feelings on certain topics. Despite all that, I will try.

One of the things that is sneaking up on me is old age. It's scary. Mainly because aside from periodic back and knee pain...I feel exactly like I did when I was in my 20's. And a hell of a lot smarter, too. And mature! A lot of things I'm glad I am now that I wasn't back then. But there are signs all around me, happening way too frequently. Those things are death, and illness. And tragedy. People dying who just shouldn't be dying. 

If someone I have never liked dies? I'm not going to fret for long. Maybe briefly, and mostly for his/her family. For instance...once this dinosaur who's main staple in his diet the last 30 days (that we all know of anyway) has been his foot....dies, the only ones I'm going to feel sorry for are the pall bearers who have to carry Donald Sterling to his grave site. Whoa...I'm not getting on that topic today. Nor am I getting on the topic of Michael Sam and his polarizing affect on the NFL, its players, and society in general. Maybe another day.

I know back in my 20's and 30's I never thought about dying. Okay, maybe if I was standing on a very high cliff, or bridge...and was about to jump into the water...the thought dawned on me. Maybe in NYC when one night a car with two black kids pulled up next to me when I was walking from my bartending job to my girlfriends apt six blocks away...who told me to give them my wallet...and who, when I started running, fired off two or three shots at me...one hitting  the rock facing of one of the buildings in front of me.  I got  away,  obviously...and yeah, thought about death that night. For a couple hours.

Yeah there was that bout with the kidney stones...when I most likely knew I wasn't going to die...but felt like I would RATHER be dead than experience  another minute of the gut-wrenching, vomit-inducing pain. Fortunately, it ended with the most delightful cocktail of painkillers I have ever experienced in my life...so pleasant I've thought about staging a kidney stone attack! Okay, just kidding. I'd  break into a hospital and steal those drugs before wishing kidney stones on myself again!


We all die. But when? And how? Will it be quick? Will it be agonizing slow?  Will we be surrounded by our friends and loved ones? Or be all alone? These are the questions that are starting to plague my thinking. Not in an obsessive fashion. No I don't need therapy or anything. I'm just more aware of my mortality now. Does God, or some other higher power...whatever your beliefs are...predetermine when our Due Date arrives? 

In preparedness, I have taken the steps to make damn sure...that if I suddenly die, for some  reason...my wife has ALL the information she needs to access EVERY possible account of mine that she would need to get access to, to make that horrible transition seamless for her. I remember last year...exactly last year two days ago...we lost Cheryl's father...who had a heart attack in our living room while staying with us recovering for surgery. He passed away in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. 

Sonny...playing along with the Flat Stanley craze! Squirrel misses her daddy  every day.

My concept of death and the aftermath was dealt a very surreal dose of reality that week. Before you even have a chance to fully mourn...you are scrambling to assemble all the details, the belongings, certain forms...etc etc etc...and it kind of just makes the whole experience even worse. That's the last thing I would want to put her through again. And so I've done everything to make it a nice, easy process for her if it should ever become necessary. Just something for all of you to think about.

This week has been tough. Really really tough. I know a lot of  you saw my subject line and automatically assumed this post would be about one person, and just one person. Well...unfortunately...it's not. 

Cincere Mason: A great friend to many. Rest in Peace sweet lady.

This is someone a TON of you have known very well. When I first met Cincere Mason, she was a dealer at the Grand in Biloxi. I immediately  formed a bond with her. She later moved to the Beau Rivage after Hurricane Katrina's damage had been cleaned up. For the next 8  years we would enjoy a wonderful relationship. My wife has always thought the world of her. In fact...I don't know ANYONE who ever had a negative thing to say about her...and that is REALLY saying something...because I'm sure you all know how mean-spirited poker players can be. As I write this...Cincere is being laid to rest outside of Pensacola. And we would be there if we weren't in North Alabama for my daughter's 2nd birthday party today and Squirrel's family reunion this weekend.

It's true that I haven't been permitted to play at the Beau Rivage the past 2 or 3 years. But it didn't stop Cincere from leaving me nice notes occasionally on my Facebook wall. And I would always have comments get back to me...as I so frequently do in the poker world...where someone might be talking negatively about me, and she was right there to defend me. She didn't owe me that, certainly not. But it was just another example to me that she wasn't one of those typical fair-weathered friends...who treated you kindly when you were in good standing with everyone...or whether you were considered the black sheep of the group. She didn't care. If you were her friend, and she cared about you...then she defended you. No matter what, no questions asked. Now ask yourself...how many people do you know that are like that? Genuinely like that? There aren't too many.

 Squirrel came home from work...I think it was Tuesday...and had this cold, expressionless look  on her face. I've seen that look. It's the look that says something is very, very wrong. I just looked at her...and asked what was wrong?

"Cincere died today!" and her eyes welled up with tears. What? How? I thought she was out of the wood with her second bout of breast cancer!!?? She was. Which is what makes this so tragic, so unfair...but a death that would symbolize what Cincere was all about. The lives she has touched is immeasurable. When I went looking for a picture of Cincere to post here...of course I  looked on her Facebook account. Shockingly, there was nearly nothing to pick from...really just one photo. But then, on second thought...it make perfect sense. Why? Because Cincere was one of those rare ladies...who didn't live for herself...didn't need fancy things...didn't need to be the center of attention. She was happy just to live among us all, to share her love, to make others around her feel better. That was who she  was...of course her Facebook wouldn't be filled with pictures of herself. 

For those who don't know what happened. Pensacola was recently hit by torrential storms that led to massive flooding...taking out roads and causing millions of dollars of flood damage to homes. As a homeowner in Pensacola with a new tenant (finally!) I was relieved personally to learn that I incurred no major damage other than a large sinkhole in the backyard...common in Florida. Others weren't so lucky. One such person was a friend (maybe a family member, I'm not certain 100%) of Cincere's. So what did she do? Of course, she went over to help her. Sometime during her mission, she contracted some kind of a bacterial infection that landed her in the hospital. And despite all efforts to save her...she succumbed to the infection.

Not one of my best looks! But it was for a cause! I'm sticking with that!

About two or three years ago...while Cincere was going through her second battle with cancer...my friend Kai and I decided to rally behind the cause and do something to honor her. Now...mind you...I am a total alpha-male..and dressing in drag is not my forte! But hey...this was for a cause bigger than any amount of machismo. So I let my wife go to work on me...makeup, hair, the who nine yards...then I took a couple pills, drank a couple shots and walked into the Imperial Palace...where I met Kai...who I've decided to let off the hook and not post his picture to spare him further humiliation. Most of you have seen it...for those who haven't? He looked like a trailer-park-livin LSU gal...decked out in Tiger colors, a blonde wig, fake boobs, and looking she'd just come off ten-day bender after another humbling loss to Alabama, and likely a healthy amount of physical abuse from her part-time mechanic husband Boudreaux.

We had already cleared it with their poker room manager, AND tournament supervisor...that we could come in, dressed as ladies, enter the $100 Ladies Event..and play with the intention of giving anything we might win to Breast Cancer Society. I came with a large envelope, already addressed and stamped...to be mailed to them...and whatever Kai and I were able to win...in addition to any donations that might just be handed to us (which, in fact, some were...totaling $1100) which we would leave and let the tourney folks mail for us. 

One thing I steer way clear of...ANY chance whatsoever for ANYONE to ever question my integrity. Don't even give them an inch to gamble with...because gamble they will! Kenny Milam..a great guy a lot of you know,  put a $300 bounty on each of us...money that he earmarked as a donation for Breast Cancer. 

Well...we arrived, and had the rug pulled out from under us. Told we were too late to register. Huh? We were there 25 minutes after the start...they were in the 2nd level. Registration was set to allow buy ins up until the end of the 3rd level. We were getting the total run around...and running around looking for answers while dressed as women, really ugly women. It was unsettling to say the least. Eventually the truth came out...and we were offered free entry to that evening's $200 Mega. We both declined, as we'd both already secured seats...and frankly were feeling pretty pissed, shamed, and didn't feel like sitting there for 5 or 6 hours in drag with a bunch of rednecks. No thanks.

Apparantly, what had occurred was that one or more women, who'd learned that Kai and I had intended to do this, pitched a fit to the tourney director...demanding that we not  be able to play...that it wasn't fair to the other players. I guess that means we should have been flattered, that they were that fearful of our skills! I have a feeling no one probably shared with them WHY we were playing, and who we had dedicated our efforts to. Had that been shared...especially in a $100 event? I think maybe it wouldn't have been such a big deal. But if they still continued to bitch and moan about it? Well...whoever you ladies are out there...I hope you feel really, really good  about yourself, and your life. Because in my book...you are vermin.

Cincere caught wind of what had gone down...and in her graceful manner, without bad-mouthing the IP, managed to express her gratitude in such an eloquent fashion to me and Kai that  her reaction completely made me forget why I was mad.

That is who she was. I ask: Why? Why does god take these kind of people from us? I can only come away thinking it's because there are things we just don't know about...places where people like Cincere are needed. Her two bouts with breast cancer? Were they just to prepare her for the next mission in her life? I choose to make myself believe that. We all lost a great friend, and a wonderful person. I hope you had a chance to know Cincere while she was here with us on Earth.


(Ive just been ordered, in a very stern voice from Squirrel...that is NOW TIME for me to stop blogging, get in the shower...and get ready to go get Carley's birthday party set up! I know when it's time to fold...and it's time to fold!)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Did Somebody Say, 'It's May!???"

Apparently, I just slept right through April!

I kid.  There are some months where I just seem so inclined to write,  then others where I simply have no desire whatsoever. It's not even 'writer's block' as I have plenty of thoughts and material with which to write. Hell...I'm getting paid $100 per post on my 'other site' and I didn't even send them ONE story all April, and haven't sent them one yet this month. Which I suppose makes me kind of a fool right? That I'm blogging here before I blog there? Guess I feel more loyal to you readers...since some of you have been with me here for the whole 6 years that I've been posting here.

What in the hell have I been doing? Well...April is a busy month for me...always. Both Mom and Dad's birthdays are in April. And now...so is Carley's...who just turned 2 on the 25th. You have, of course...tax day..which, for about the 5th year in a row I let my accountant auto-file me an extension. I don't even know why, as this year is going to be so easy. Just something about taxes that makes procrastination seem like the way to go.

Yard work has picked up with the onset of spring. Trips to the beach have picked up as the weather has improved. The playoffs are here in basketball and hockey...and as a lifelong Rangers fan...I've got that to keep me occupied for, hopefully...the whole month. But I don't  know...after two shutouts in a row to the Penguins, and a power play that has gone 0 for the last 34 tries...things aren't looking good. 

The NFL Draft is this weekend. FINALLY! God, I am so tired of every damn day being the time for another Mock Draft from whoever thinks they are a draft expert. I don't understand what all the ridiculousness is for. I mean...it's 7 rounds-worth of players getting drafted to play football. Do we sports mortals really care THAT much where any of them end up? Are people betting on these results? Are their pools dedicated to it? Not that I am aware of. 

Speaking of pools...I came up with a nifty concept and put together my first-ever Kentucky Derby pool...which attracted a much larger than expected 104 entries. It was won by  one of my favorite poker-playing gals from New Orleans, Linda Keenan...who many of you I'm sure have had the pleasure of playing with. She literally nailed 1st, 2nd and 3rd place horses finishes. And her fourth pick finished 5th.  

Also this month, I managed to FINALLY hatch out a deal with the owner of the logo aptly named 'Monkey Fucking a Football' which is, well...an image of a monkey fucking a football. The deal was with CustomInk...who makes my hooded sweatshirts (hoodies) that get awarded (and paid for out of my pocket) to the winners of my  pools.  I received my phone call from the company telling me that we were clear for production, while enjoying a day at the zoo in New Orleans with Squirrel, Carley and my sister and her two boys. 

Yes...my sister came down for a visit over Easter week. So for a week we had a lot of, uh....craziness around the house. It was great to have them...but it was also a bit  of a relief when they went home. We literally had the house to ourselves...100%. Prior  to them arriving we'd had Claudia 'The Claw' Crawford living with us until she 'got on her feet' and decided what she was going to do with herself and her life after her sudden break up with the guy she was dating in Baton Rouge. She'd been with us...for, I think about a month or two.

Well...that may be over as well, since,  while my sister was here she let the same guy, the ex-boyfriend...talk her into letting him take her to Cancun for a vacation. You know, as friends. Just friends. Right. So...needless to say, it looks as though they have worked things out and will be giving it another try. So I assume that means all her stuff will be moving out of our house. I didn't mind having her here...she's always pretty entertaining, she even cooks a nice meal every so often. And I enjoyed some of the talks we had. Ahh, but life goes on, doesn't it? 

My diet has hit a snag. And I'm blaming it on Blue Belle ice cream. I've formed a genuine addiction to the stuff. And, well...if your eating that heaven sent frozen creamery on a regular basis, there is no way you are losing weight. So I'm thinking maybe once I get out to the Nevada desert in a couple of weeks, I will get back to trying to lose some more weight in my quest to get to a very desirable/respectable 245 lbs. I'm currently sitting about 262-265. Not ideal. But my large frame and long arms do manage to hide it very well. 

In April...I didn't play too much poker. What poker I did play, I think I wrote about. The awful trip to Coushatta. Yeah. Never going back to that hell-hole. I mean it. NEVER. And passed on Vicksburg...but did stake (50/50 with a buddy) a  player who was living in my home...to go and play it. Brick, brick, brick. I backed another player...a gentleman I'm good friends with...for just 10% of his total package...in the Cherokee Harrah's event up in Carolina. Same results. Bummer. All told...between the months of February and April I ponied up $4400 for backing poker that turned up nothing. Oh well...I gave it a go. No regrets...I know how tough it is to win poker tourneys...and it could have just as easily gone great. And I sure wouldn't be complaining then, huh?

Oh and for all you jackasses who  like to criticize MY backing packages? Here's a big fuck  you. All the tourneys I backed people in (with exception of the one at Cherokee Harrah's) I paid at a 2 to 1 margin. Yeah! I know! So for those of you twats who like to call me a crook? A scammer? A thieving scum bag? Well....I give what I get. So now...I ask, what does that make me now? I can't find a word for it...maybe some of you internet geniuses can. In fact, I'm sure of it.

Speaking of Internet, as it pertains to poker...something amazing happened. I received my most recent payout request from Lock Poker. A massive $500 check that I cashed out in OCTOBER! It arrived about two weeks ago, finally. And yes...it cleared...though I was seriously holding my breath! I still have about $400 in there and have just been playing it super recklessly...as in, GOING FOR IT! I mean...when you know you may never see the money if you request it...and its doing no good just sitting  there idle...why not get in there and just try to win big or go home? The day I go busto on Lock Poker is the day I can just delete their software from my  computer forever.

I've been playing /dabbling on Bovada a bit. I had one successful night about 3 weeks ago when I took fourth in a $30 tourney for about $550. I had a nice chiplead four-handed but then had two monster suckouts take me down within five minutes of each other. That was kind of a bummer. But last night...after three weeks in a row of getting my teeth kicked in  on that site, I played a $20 Omaha 8/b tourney on there. I think there were 65 players. I enjoyed  the chiplead for a long time...in fact...from about the time there 65 players...until I got heads up. Then it went back and forth for a good while. Then...with me sitting on top set AND the nut flush draw with no low out there...I managed to get all in with the guy....who is sitting on an open-ended straight draw..and that's it. He gets there on the river. Fuck! For starters it was 2am and I was really tired, having spent the day at the beach with Carley and the dogs. For second...I really wanted to win that bitch.

I was left with $4000 chips...and the blinds at 1500/3000. My opponent had 196k! This should be over pretty quick. Um. Yeah...it kind of was. Only...it was ME winning! I'm going to guess that the  other guy wanted to kill himself. I had a couple hands where I flopped HUGE...then just let the guy pour his stack into me. I mean...it didn't take me but 15-20 minutes to make the comeback and beat the guy for a huge $414 score! (yes,  I'm kidding! But the win felt better than the actual money)

Now, I'm not stupid. I know how it works. You win something online...and the next day they butcher you...so I am taking today off! Carley is back at daycare today...after the last four days off with me...and she wore me out! So today  has officially been declared 'Catch Up On Sleep and Sanity Day' for  'ol daddy! That and finally bust off a blog to you people. 

How is my 'little situation' with Harrah's/Caesar's and 'him' going? Will I be able to play the World Series Main Event this summer? Well...without revealing too much, I will tell you that (a) I still am banned and (b) I didn't really do much about it...trying to get 'repaired' what happened in October of 2012 in Hammond. Frankly, I just didn't care that much. And wasn't up for the battle that would be required to get it fixed. 

Well...with the summer approaching, I felt like it was finally time to at least attempt to repair the damage. The damage that was the result of a simple misunderstanding between me and the young lady from Ukraine who was working as a dealer at that event. I have spoken with her several times now...and we are quite friendly. She has  offered to write a letter, or make a phone call...or whatever is required, to get my ban lifted at Hammond, which should (on most planets anyway) result in me being reinstated. 

But this isn't a simple world we live in...this poker world. Nope...see people are allowed to let their petty grudges perpetuate themselves, to a level where common sense doesn't exist. You could do something, be totally innocent, but as long as the paperwork is in place that says you committed some heinous act...its just IN THERE....and the only one who can rescind it...is the person who put it IN THERE!!!! Well, if that person doesn't WANT you to be cleared, and doesn't WANT to rescind it....guess what? It just STAYS IN THERE! That....in essence, is kind of where I am currently stuck. IN THERE!

So I finally took the time to construct a letter...which I'd been writing in my head for months...to the one person at WSOP/Caesar's who  I think has the power/authority/fairness....to help me. I didn't really know what to expect. No response at all would not have surprised me. But...I was completely shocked to see, after two days, that my email to  him had been not only read, but responded to. While the email wasn't totally great news...it was encouraging, giving me some hope at least. I've been promised that he would 'dig around' and see what he could find, and maybe help me out. And so...again expecting nothing, I will sit and cross my fingers and hope something gets rectified. 

To be truthful, even if I do get my ban rescinded, and am welcomed back to the WSOP, and all Caesar's properties, I still don't see myself making a return to a full schedule of events. Frankly, I really only care to play the Main Event  at Rio. The rest of the events? Meh. Those structures, the 3x chips stack vs Buy In amount? Those are definitely NOT geared towards my style of play, at all. I'm quite content to  play across town at Venetian and Wynn...despite all of the recent jackassery of Sheldon Addelson,  the owner of Venetian who  has been doing everything in his power to keep online poker from returning to the US. I know a lot of players have been boycotting the Venetian because of his  actions...and that's fine. I respect them for their decision, and their views of the situation. I just hope they can respect my reasoning for having, or wanting, to play those events and not holding it against me. 

So, what are my plans for this summer? I've decided (I think) to drive out to Vegas in the car I've spent $5000 on fixing/updating/improving the past few months, so much so that I've managed to convince myself NOT to trade her in for a shinier, newer SUV. I just like the freedom of being able to take as much stuff as I want. Not flying is also nice. And as long as I can evade the speed traps of God-forsaken Texas...it should be a cost of 6.5 tanks of gas...then saving all that air fare and rental car money. The plan, is to leave here on May 21st...arrive on the 22nd or 23rd...and get right after the Venetian events. The MSPT has been allowed by Venetian to come in and take over their $1100 event...the same basic branding concept I guess, that they allowed Pokerstars to do a while back with the ill-fated NAPT tour. So having made the final table of my one and only tourney with that tour, I will take a shot at that event while I'm there.

The plan is to play from May 23-June 14th. The MSPT event is on the 11th. On the 14th, I will either fly Squirrel and Carley (who now that she is 2+ I get to pay full fare for!) into Las Vegas that Saturday, or fly them straight to San Francisco. We are set to go spend a week with my brother, his wife,  and their kids...for two days at their home in the Bay Area, followed by 4 or 5 days at their house in Lake Tahoe...a place that Cheryl has never visited. Me, I've been there 4 or 5 times...and love it. There should be lots for all of us to do. So far, I haven't been able to find airfare into either Vegas OR San Francisco that are less than $600 each for them. Brutal. But more brutal might be the 6.5-8 hour drive to my brothers from Las Vegas with Carley strapped into her car seat. That kid does NOT like being strapped or held down. Ever. And even though she is loving the theater I had installed for her in the headrests..its not enough to keep her from losing her mind! So I am leaning on flying them straight out to the Bay...and driving up myself to meet them. My mom and sister are also driving down from Seattle to meet us all there. It will be the first time we three siblings have all been together at one time in about 7 years I think. 

As for backing plans? I haven't decided yet. I can afford, for the first time in a long time, to bankroll myself for the summer...to the tune of probably 10 or 12k. Not that I would hope to end up that deep. I had a great summer last year in my brief 10-day visit, cashing for a total of about $35k if I recall, and making all my backers more than double their investment. And could have, should have...made a lot more, were it not for a couple terrible breaks. But it was a very positive experience. And I know I have a lot of people who enjoy the sweat...so I almost feel like I need to do a package to satisfy the appetites of some of those folks who can't go out there themselves. I'll have it figured out, I suppose in the next week or so.

I have this idea I am rolling around inside my head. As most of you know...I have a pretty tremendous network of people that I mainly built up with my sports pools that I run. A distribution email list that has grown to almost 1900. So this has made it really easy for me to do things like sell a poker investment package. I've had a lot of people contact me, asking me...frustratingly, what they have to do to sell out a package easier? Well...I wish there were a simple solution, but the truth is, there isn't. I think it's 100% a credit to the network I've developed. And I did that by being (a) truthful, open, and honest about what I'm doing, (b) always paying people in a timely fashion when they DO win with me...either in poker, or in pools. And (c) I almost always go way out of my way to keep them in the loop on what is happening...by blogging a lot, or using Facebook and/or Twitter to keep everyone informed. 

I think I've got a lot of people who trust me, and who like to root for me to do well. Hell, I am smart enough to know that I am certainly not the best poker player in the world, not even close. But I do play well enough to almost always have a shot at the big score. Limiting your mistakes, as far as I'm concerned, is the most important thing to playing successful tournament poker,  and I feel I do that as well as anyone. Not playing as much over the last two years, I feel,  has also helped my game a LOT. Just being able to sit at a table and not feel burnt out, or beaten down by all the 'run bad' is such a huge advantage. That and being financially secure...that helps a good deal, too. When you buy into a tourney...and have GOT to cash or you are screwed? That is a terrible frame of mind to be in while playing poker...cash OR tourneys. 

So anyway...getting backed? I think you need to have spent a lot of time, years usually, putting together a network of people who are willing to gamble on you...and people who you know won't criticize you if you don't come back a winner. Because holy shit...who wants that guy who buys 'a piece' that wants to break down your every move/play after the fact? Fuck that. No one can really KNOW what the RIGHT way to play was...when they weren't sitting at your table, had no feel for the other players, the opposing chip stacks, or the history between you and them. It's impossible almost. But you will always here these armchair QB poker players criticizing someone's play like they even had a clue what was going on there. I never, EVER...want one of those people buying into my poker packages, and will flat out refuse their interest if I know that they are one of those people. 

So good luck to ALL OF YOU who are going to be attempting to sell packages for this summer's plethora of events in Vegas. I always root for my fellow players to get to play as many events as they possibly can. There is nothing quite like the poker summers in Vegas...or the action. It's nonstop! And while it can be a mental drain...it is also very exhilarating, especially when you make a hefty score. And I'm not like some of these other jerkoffs who like to criticize other players investment packages. I WANT you all to get out to Vegas to play...whether it's by selling yourself at .7 or 1.2 or 1.7 or 2 to 1! Whatever it takes! I just hope you make it! Don't hate on us guys who are able to sell at a better price than you. We earned it. By either playing well for those people in the past....or by earning their trust and admiration in other avenues of life...and just getting them to jump in because they like you and want to help you succeed. What's wrong with that?

Let's have a great summer fellow poker players!!!! Quit finding reasons to be douchebags. It's not sexy! Its not attractive! And it sure as shit isn't cool!!

IN CONCLUSION: I am contemplating something I have never done before. IF...and it's a very real possibility obviously, I am unable to (again) play the Main Event at Rio...I am putting together an idea...wherein I would put together a Staking Group to fully back, 100%...for a 65/35 cut....three players who I feel are most deserving, and who should not EVER be NOT in the Main Event! In other words...they are great players, but lack the 10k or the means to raise it...but should 100% be playing in that event. If....you think you fit that mold of player...and by fit, I think you know what I mean, and expect....then you can contact me by email...at ThePokerMonkey1@aol.com.  I will be responsible for managing this group of investors, the 'point man' per se. This is not a game show, a reality show, or a contest. Well...maybe it is KIND OF a contest. You won't be asked to jump through any hoops or dance like a clown. Simply get yourself to Vegas and be ready for 10-14 days of kick ass, dialed in mentally....poker.

Have a nice day,