Friday, August 29, 2014

Breaking News: Is USC's new coach a Racist?

It's kind of interesting that I just wrote a rather lengthy piece on race, and its effects on our country and the people who reside in it. Then yesterday comes news that a USC player by the name of Anthony Brown (no relation to Michael as far as I know) has quit the team. Why? Because he claims that new (and former UW) coach Steve Sarkisian is a racist...and that he won't play for a man who is racist.

Now...I will be the first to admit, I heard this and immediately wanted to dismiss this as the angry ramblings of a kid who probably wasn't getting things to go his way early in the coach's tenure at USC. I'd never heard of such allegations while he was at Washington for the past 4 previous years...and from what  I could see, this was just a kid doing unspeakable damage to a coach's reputation, and possibly it's program.  I was ready to blow the whistle on this kid and flag him for illegal use of the 'Race Card.'

I may have reacted too soon. Who is Steve Sarkisian? Well, he is a man who played college football at BYU, and who was their starting QB. He later played a little pro ball in Canada before getting into coaching. Despite going to BYU...he is not Mormon, rather a Catholic, born of an Irish mom and an Armenian dad from Iran. He wound up as an assistant coach with USC during Pete Carroll's time at USC. Back in 2009 he took the head coaching position at Washington...at the ripe young age of 42. He took a Husky team that was 0-11 under Tyrone Willingham and turned it into a 5-7 team that following year...then ran off four years in a row of teams that went to bowl games...before being offered the job to return to USC as its head coach.

Last week...USC's Josh Shaw leaped from the third floor of an apt building near campus and sprained both his ankles. It was first reported that he did this while trying to save his cousin from drowning in the pool. It turned out to be a total lie. He was subsequently suspended from the team...and Los Angeles Police are investigating the possible claims of a man matching his description having robbed someone's apartment in that same building he jumped from. Despite Sarkisian expressing disappointment that Shaw would concoct this  story, he has left the door open for his return to the team. However...according to the latest reports, his fellow teammates have been quoted as saying they 'are done with him.' So I guess that pretty much seals his fate.

Also coming out in today's news...is a story that one of the leaders of USC's team has stated that Coach Sark has shown no signs of being a racist. And that everyone should ignore the player who  is making those allegations.

Okay. So...case closed right? Anthony Brown is just some bitter kid with an axe to grind so he decided to blow up the best way a black kid can against a white coach he is trying to hurt?

Whoa! Hold it a second. I want it known for the record...I was a big Sark fan while he was at Washington. I loved what he brought to Huskyville. He turned our program around. And when he left to coach USC I was disappointed, not mad...I understood that he had roots there, just kind of bummed. Well, all that sadness disappeared a few days later when it was announced that Chris Petersen had left Boise State to take the head job at Washington. It was a great day to be a Husky! And the loss of Sark was a distant memory. So this news I'm about to reveal? It has nothing to do with me being bitter about losing our  coach. None!

My sister...who herself played softball at Washington...was in a Master's Program last summer...one which we all attended her graduation and got to meet a lot of her class mates. This program was centered around Sports Management...and she had several people in her class who has been on the Husky football team. What she told me blew me away. 

"Oh...it's been known around campus now for several years that Sarkisian was thought of as a big racist. I had a guy in my class who gave me numerous examples of it...and he said it was widely known that he wasn't well liked by the black athletes."

So of course, when I asked "why wouldn't they have said something, then? I mean...if it's that bad...and the current culture being what it is now in our country...what were they afraid of?" Her response made sense. They were afraid of  losing their scholarship. Here was this coach who was revered for the turnaround he had performed at UW...which holds its football program sacred...and how was it going to look if some kid started screaming 'racist' about him? Probably the same thing that most people will do about this kid at USC. That he's just some punk ass jock not getting his way...and so he's going to the race card.

Wow! So...in defense of this kid Anthony Brown...and following the mantra that usually where there's smoke there's fire? Someone might want to send the Fire Marshall down to Los Angeles and check things out at the University of Southern Cal!

Okay then...just felt compelled to share this news...as I am now about  to take a shower then take my mother to the Mariners game tonight...where we are going to see King Felix attempt to pick up his 14th win against the NL's best team, the Washington Nationals tonight. I've picked up some juicy tickets 10 rows behind the Mariners dugout for $120 a pop....and expect that we might see the biggest crowd of the season so far!

I really need the Mariners to win at least 2 out of 3 from Washington this weekend, and a sweet would be great. I  have this poker dealer who will  be dealing the WSOP circuit event I'll be playing at this week talking crap on my boys...that they are  merely 'pretenders' who have no shot this year. Well, needless to say, I disagree! So losing 2 out of 3 at home to the last place Rangers wasn't exactly what I was looking forward to. We went to the only game they did win on Tuesday night. Before that...we went to four different locations around Seattle and had total strangers dump ice over our head for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge! It was a very exciting afternoon! Those four videos are currently being video-edited by a friend into what I hope will be one very entertaining clip that I will 'air' as soon as its ready!

Okay...time to go get ready! 


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ferguson, MO...Race...and the Media. In 2014

As promised. Something was just eating at me to write something about this scene that has been going on in Missouri since August 9th. Then...after coming home to where I grew up as a kid, Seattle...it became oh so crystal clear to me. I know this is a poker blog. Sort of. I've been known to go off about a lot of things unrelated to poker. And one thing is for certain...I am acutely aware that there are those who are almost desperate it seems, to use my words against me any way they possibly can. So writing something that has to do with such a touchy subject could be considered 'taking a risk.'

I read a great post by a guy I have always respected and admired. A lot of you might know of him. If not, simply Google his name. Matt Russell. He lives in Houston. Is a fairly wealthy guy who owns businesses. He is married, is a good family man, has a lot of class...and when he plays poker (or blackjack) he puts a lot of chips in play! He made a comment on his Facebook wall...that more-or-less mirrored a couple I'd made...and his comment echoed precisely my feelings on this whole shitstorm in Ferguson. And to a 'T' neither one of our viewpoints had any kind of racial repercussion or bias or slant attached to it. See...neither one of us cared if Michael Brown was black...or white...Asian, Mexican, Jewish, Puerto Rican, Native American Indian...or from Mars. All we have been looking at, is pure and simply, the facts of the case, and the individuals involved.

There is one thing that I have grown up in this country realizing; when a black person commits a crime, and is on trial, he seems to almost always have the support of all the black populace. When a black guy runs for President...it doesn't matter his religion, his experience, his background, his nationality...nope...because he is black...they all vote for him. Pure and simple, they all stick together. Is that a bad thing? I guess it goes both ways. I can't profess to knowing what it feels like to live life as a black person. To do so would be foolish.

I grew up in a suburb of Seattle...then from 7 to 14 lived in Kalispell, Mt. You never, ever saw black people in Kalispell. The only ones I saw were on my TV. So obviously, you can imagine...I grew up in a culture that was completely devoid of racism. Even when I moved back to Seattle for my high school and college years...it was much the same. In fact...to be precise, if there was ANY tension among the races, it was the Asians who provided that. But as for black/white tension? It just wasn't there. The minority of those who went to my schools, they were all wonderful people who I always got along with. My teammates on all the sports teams I played on? We always got along and had each others backs. When I was young, and would watch movies like 'The Color Purple' or 'Mississippi Burning' I was outraged that people could be so mean to other people. Were people, white people, who lived in the South REALLY like that? 

Then in my early 20's I moved to NYC. The one thing about living in NYC? Everyone was there trying to get ahead. No one lives on a strip of land that small and has time to worry about the race of each other. Naw...if there was any racism going on...it was out in Queens, or Brooklyn...and it was usually between the Jews and the Blacks. During the time I lived there, Spike Lee made a movie, a couple actually. 'She's Gotta Have It' and 'Do the Right Thing.' Then a few years later came 'Jungle Fever.' What these movies explored was the racism that existed in Brooklyn...and the relationships between each side. During that time...I was in denial..insisting that it was Spike Lee's attempts to drive a wedge between the races...since I just didn't it. I saw him as an agitator. In retrospect, I think maybe I still do. See, I  think that nothing good ever comes from perpetuating a social condition like racism. Were blacks supposed to watch those movies and come out of the theaters feeling anything other than angst towards whites?

While I lived in NYC...a little black girl supposedly got raped...and had feces smeared all over her body. Her name was Tawana Brawley. The case divided the entire city of New York and all five boroughs. The man who would come to represent her was none other than the Reverend Al Sharpton. This was our first (but certainly not last) exposure to the man we all know quite well in 2014. In most people's eyes, including a lot of blacks themselves, he is nothing but a grandstanding, spotlight-seeking clown. As most of you probably know...the story that little Tawana spun for the cops and media turned out to be one big fat lie. Not that the lives of several police officers and their superiors weren't ruined. I will never forget that year in NYC. The marches, the riots. That was truly the first time in my life that I'd ever felt 'scared' to be white. Where I'd had to watch where I went at certain times of the day. 

In 1993 I moved to Atlanta, to open a bar in Buckhead with 6 of my friends. I'd never been to Atlanta before. It was kind of a weird place. Pretty much everything north of Downtown Atlanta was predominantly white. And the blacks who lived in that area were labeled 'yuppies.' Remember that term? Translation: They were younger blacks, mostly just out of college, with medium to high-paying jobs that dressed well, drove nice cars, and lived in nice houses. From Downtown south...it was nearly ALL black. And the houses were anything but nice. The first couple of years were great. Business was good, the clientele was great, and life was good.

Then a couple things happened. Bill Campbell won the race for Mayor. Campbell was black. Once that happened, the entire City Council was suddenly black. Almost overnight...they started offering all kinds of deals to 'Black-Owned Businesses.' You would walk around Atlanta and literally see signs in their window that proclaimed them to be 'Black Owned Business, and Proud.' Simple tasks like obtaining a building permit to build a 5x7 bar out on our patio became a mission in futility with the city. Inspections from the Health Department and the Fire Department began occurring much more frequently. I could see what was going on...and it made me sick. Then IT happened. During the Super Bowl in Atlanta in 2000...Ray Lewis and his posse were at one of the more popular clubs in Buckhead...just four doors away from our bar. Someone got stabbed and killed that night. The facts of the case and who actually got convicted have always been disputed ever since. The night club couldn't survive the negative publicity and ended up going out of business. 

Then, that spring...our beloved Mayor decided it would be a good idea to open the doors of the city to Black spring-breakers in an event that would be called 'Freaknik.' This was a disaster. Thousands of blacks...allegedly college students, but clearly never more than 30% students, or law-abiding citizens for that matter...would descend on the city for 5 or 6 years before the new Mayor finally put the kibosh on the disastrous annual event. But before that had been done...the entire demographic of the city had been turned on its head. It started with the rampant 'cruising' of Buckhead. There was never any desire to just park their cars, come in, and buy a drink or two. Because they didn't come with money in their pockets. Just a desire to come to Atlanta and get their freak on. Which apparently meant robbing, raping, vandalizing and murdering. Because that is what we saw every year. People all over Atlanta would pick that time of year to pack up and go on vacation. Which was great...until they returned to a home that had been ransacked.

What resulted was that all the bars in Buckhead gave up. How many times can a man in his 30's with a job making 50-60k a year and who is taking his girlfriend out on a date...pass three black punks on the sidewalk who start talking about how 'fine she is' and how she ought to get with a black guy instead of that chump...before eventually...they just quit going to Buckhead. It was like that every weekend....they would be all over the street...just wandering around...loitering...and slowly, the good customers just quit going there. END OF BUCKHEAD. So they moved to midtown...the bars that is. Then about two or three years later...the same thing happened there.  So then they migrated to 'The Highlands' which is//was a part of town frequented by the artsy folks, and gays. You know those kind of sections of town. Pretty much anyone can go there and  have a good time as long as they aren't too uptight. I even managed a bar/restaurant there for a little over a year.

My last couple of years in Atlanta were nothing but a struggle to find happiness. I'd grown up never having to be wary of the people around me. Now it was all around me. I'd go to the park to play pickup basketball...and sometimes I'd be the only white guy...and I had a hell of a time even getting on a team...and then when I did, would never get the ball passed to me. Why? Because I was white. It didn't matter where I went, or who I was dealing with...I was constantly trying to make friends with black people whenever the opportunity arose, and aside from a few exceptions, it just wasn't wanted. My friendship that is. The prevailing sentiment among most whites while I was living there was that the only racism that existed in Atlanta...was that of the blacks towards white people. After growing up the way I did, this gave me great disappointment. I spent most of my life feeling sorry for them based on the movies I'd seen and the books I'd read. Now, I was seeing things through a whole different set of eyes.

I always kind of thought that I would get to the South and discover that all the white people down there were complete hicks who you'd see walking around spewing all this racist trash talk. But that wasn't the case. At all. Which was a pleasant surprise. While we had that bar, we also opened one out in the Athens...of the same name. Again...no racism. Granted, in Athens, Ga...pretty much the only blacks you saw out there were athletes, and most of them were as cool as they come. I hosted a lot of the football players in my bar on a regular basis. 

Eventually I got fed up with Atlanta. That and I met Squirrel....who was living in Biloxi and working at the Beau Rivage. We'd been going back and forth to see each other for about 2 years...which was a pain in the ass. I finally took a job working in Pensacola as a liquor and wine rep for a big company. Bought a little house, that I still own (and rent out) and got the hell out of Atlanta. 

Now, living in Pensacola, and living in Atlanta? Night and day! That southerner who I always thought I'd encounter when I  moved to Atlanta? Oh...I found them...in Pensacola! And pretty much everywhere else throughout the south that isn't a major city. Granted, it's not the majority...by any stretch...but I was finally able to see where the stereotype had originated. And the blacks? Well...they were just as anti-white (if not more) as they were in Atlanta. But there was something different about living there. If you made a sincere effort to be their friend? They would be your friend. Something about people who don't live in big cities? I think they tend to be better people.  Sure...the race thing is always there...lingering, creating that haze of distrust...but I've always found in my experience, that if I am genuinely kind to a person of any race...that we can be friends. Just not in a big city like Atlanta...where they had drawn a line in the sand.

Is this blog getting a bit too long for you? Probably. Sorry. I moved to Biloxi a couple years later, quitting my job in 2004 and taking on the full-time profession of poker player. The folks who live in Biloxi aren't a whole lot different from those who live in Pensacola. The ratio of black to white is about the same. 

Am I biased? Are there people I don't like for what, or who they are? Yeah...I won't lie. I don't like whites who do too much meth. Who don't bath. Who dress like bums. Who don't brush their teeth. Who beat their kids. Who steal. Who kill. Who are just straight up ignorant. Yeah...I don't like those people.  Oh...incidentally? Those things I mentioned? I  also don't like black people who exhibit those same traits. Or Asians. Or Latinos. Or Indians. Pretty much anything that makes them a deplorable human being? Yeah...those things make me not like them. I don't care about their race. No one can help their race...they are who they were born as. I think a lot of you feel me. And maybe agree with me. It's not fair that whites aren't allowed to say "I have a lot of friends that are black" without getting ridiculed. Why!??? I mean...if you really DO have a lot of friends that ARE black...then that should be some kind of a reflection on your character that race isn't a big deal to you. Right? But for some reason...it's something that when a white person is heard saying it, they are ripped to shreds. Pretty fucked up as far as I'm concerned.

Now then. Let's talk about Ferguson. The other day...while my mother was laying in her hospital bed recovering from her double mastectomy...which by the way went GREAT, and my mother is at home recovering quite successfully...we were visited by a good friend of ours, who is cop with the City of Seattle. Ah ha! Perfect! Because something had been really bugging me ever since not just this thing with Michael Brown went down...but also the shooting of the knife-wielding, soda-stealing kid a few days later. I've been doing a lot of internet surfing lately where cops and excessive use of force is concerned. I don't know about you guys...but I'm white, and I have had plenty of incidents over the years where my rights were more than violated by aggressive cops. So it's not like I'm a big fan of the people who have taken an oath to serve and protect us citizens. I'm of the opinion that there are a rather large number of cops that became cops because they were drawn to the power that the badge and gun represent. 

I wanted to know why it is that cops need to fill suspects full of bullets when simply wounding them and disarming them would solve the problem. Well, I guess I got my answer. I simply asked: "Is it not possible to shoot for their leg or arm...and disable them...then apprehend them?" The answer was a very matter-of-fact "NO!" We've all seen way too many movies I guess...you know the one...where the cop shoots the gun out of the guy's hand...then sweeps his legs, and cuffs him? Yeah...no! That's Hollywood. I was told that they are instructed to shoot for 'center mass.'  So I asked my next question. "The guy with the knife was like 6 or 7 feet away from them...there were two cops, both had gotten out of the car and were standing behind their car door...yelling at him to drop the knife. When he didn't...they shot him about 8 times. Is that not a blatant use of excessive force?"
NOPE! Department regulations state that if a suspect is inside of 21 feet...yeah...TWENTY ONE...and ignoring the request/demand by the police to release their weapon, they are determined by law to be under duress...and are permitted to use deadly force. I was shocked to hear that.

My last question...and this came from watching the cell phone-recorded movie shot from a bystander...was why on Earth they felt it necessary to cuff the guy after he'd been shot 8-10 times and was clearly dead.

The reason? And after asking this...our police friend was nodding as I said it...I was told that it is department policy to always cuff a suspect even after being shot...because apparently, the body has been known to do some pretty weird things after its been shot. Like suddenly getting some weird burst of adrenalin, and going berserk before they fade off for good. So yeah...cuffing them is standard operating procedure. Interesting.

So after this conversation, I came away feeling like the cops did everything by the book, and that there will never be a trial for Darren Wilson. Unless of course, King Barack has sent down the message via his idiot AG Eric Holder...that Mr. Wilson is going to be offered up as a sacrificial lamb to placate the community of Ferguson. And this? This is the part that infuriates me. Not even the appearance of the useless Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Not the Black Panthers showing up to get everyone whipped into a frenzy. 

No, the thing that pisses me off? 1000's of blacks are killed every day in America. Mostly by fellow blacks. Small children killed in drive-bys by errant bullets. Numerous innocent victims killed for no good reason. But where is the outcry for those people? Where are the marches, the riots? Just this week, there have been several instances of whites killed by blacks...one where a black cop killed a white kid. Did you see any riots? Any marches? Did anyone burn down businesses in their own neighborhoods? No. Why? Because level-headed people don't act like that. They exercise patience, they don't ignore it...they are watching, but they are watching with patience...to see what the justice system does. The wheels of justice in the United States are a slow moving machine. Anyone with half a brain knows this. 

These people in Ferguson have literally made DEMANDS of the City/State government there...as if they are in a position of negotiating. What they are calling for, basically, is the head of Darren Wilson. What is this? 1215? Anyone got a copy of the Magna Carta lying around? It is absolutely absurd the scene that has transpired in that town. And the media? Whoa...you've got to be kidding me. It's become such a BUSINESS the past two decades that it has turned the news industry into a sham. Here we are...with Russia basically invading Ukraine, Israel and Hamas lobbing rockets and bullets at each other, Syria in Civil War, and ISIS murdering women and children in the most inhumane of ways...and all the men...because they aren't Muslims. Oh and in case everyone forgot...a plane was simply blown from the sky a little over a month ago...for no good damn reason. But where are the big news teams all assembled? In Ferguson fucking Missouri! Why? Because racism sells! We all remember the OJ trial...the most-watched news event of all time. That trial basically MADE CNN! I won't get too deep into this...but their ad time rates during that trial more than quadrupled while that trial was going on. 

We all remember the ridiculous round-the-clock coverage of Trayvon and George...it was so annoying it should have just been turned into a reality show. We all knew (well, those of us with a brain and a simple understanding of law) how that trial was going to end up. But that didn't stop the nonstop coverage did it? 

I hate what this country is becoming. There seems to be a secret desire to ignite a race war in this country. The media simply preys on situations like these. I just picture a dead wildebeest out on the African plain and a bunch of jackals and hyenas feasting on it...blood smeared all over their faces...devouring the dead beast. And the more they bang the drum...the more the irrational citizens come out of their homes, take to the streets, and make it worse. Mark my word...if the news crews all just picked up and LEFT that town? The riots and marching would have ceased to exist. But they don't. They just keep feeding on the victim.

And about the victim himself? I don't even think it's really necessary to delve into that. That's not what this about. Yeah, I'm sick of cops on power trips. I'm sick of people who have no respect for authority, who talk back to cops and get themselves shot...then set off rioting in their communities. I'm sick of people who think they are above the law. Did Michael Brown get murdered? Or did he get shot because of his actions? I have my theories, as I'm sure a lot of you do. But our theories don't matter do they? If...and that's a big IF...the grand jury thinks there is enough evidence to even bring this cop to trial....then we will let a jury of 12 decide what happened on August 9th, correct?

So what 'tripped my wire' about all this? The day my mom was in surgery, my sister and I left the hospital and drove down to Pike Place Market to buy her some flowers. Her surgery was four hours so we had some time to work with. It was game day...for the Seahawks (preseason game) and everywhere...people were decked out in their Seahawks schwag. All kinds of people...white, black, Asian, Mexican, Indian....Americans, Europeans...just a huge cross section of people. Most of them with some kind of Seahawk item on. It was a beautiful sunny day. Almost everyone had a smile on their face. I accidentally bumped into a black man. He immediately said "Excuse me, I'm sorry." To which I replied..."Hey, no problem!" That same thing happens in Biloxi...or any other number of places in the south...and it rarely goes that way. There is usually a dirty look attached to the other person...sometimes maybe even a "yo man! Why don't you watch where your walking!"

Then it dawned on me. Wow! Nothing has changed since I left Seattle. And this summer...when I went to Lake Tahoe with the family? Same deal there. Same deal in Vegas. Pretty much the same thing everywhere west of Texas, to be honest. What is the problem in the south? I know...for a fact...that it isn't a one-way street. And for anyone to suggest as much is a moron. Neither side is innocent. But I think...and this is only my opinion, that one side is trying a lot harder to make things good between the races than the other. I get real tired of playing online poker...and someone from some other place in the world seeing that I live in Biloxi, Mississippi and the first thing out of their mouth being...oh...you must wear a white hood and burn crosses on lawns for a hobby. I feel very strongly that there are a whole lot more blacks that have a problem with whites in the south than there are whites who are have an axe to grind.

So as I'm walking around the Pike Place Market...this wacky thought occurs to me. Hmmm....what IF? What if, for a whole week...we took ALL the whites in the south...and swapped places with all the whites in Seattle? Let them both live a week in each others shoes. And then...the following week? Do the exact opposite experience. Oh! I know what you're saying....so I'll stop you! Yes, you would be exposing all the same people to each other both weeks. Right? Well, yes...that is correct. However...you would also be introducing all four groups of people to totally different living conditions. Think about it. How would they get along? Would the experience open their eyes?  Would it change them? What if we could bring all the black people in Ferguson, MO to Seattle for a week and let them simply exist in this environment? 

This might all be a little deep for some of you. Or maybe you just aren't understanding what I'm trying to convey. Or hell...maybe I've even started to talk in circles. I'm not even sure there is ONE PRIMARY POINT that I'm trying to make. I guess I just want to see our country, and our world, become a much better place before my 2 year old daughter gets old enough to realize just how fucked up it currently is. And god forbid there is ever a race war in this country....I'm packing up the car, putting my girls in, and driving to Montana...pitching a tent, and living off the land til all the crazies work out their differences. 

And now....I'm going to bed!


Monday, August 25, 2014

Great News From Seattle!

This is not a post about how great my poker results have been out here....although I have booked two winning cash sessions, albeit modest in gain....+570 and +310 both coming at the Snoqualmie Casino which is only 2 miles from my mother's house.

Nope, this a report about my mother, and how her initial breast cancer treatment went. The news is great! I arrived on Wednesday night...after yet another horrendous airline experience. This time on United. I'm not even going to waste my breath or keystrokes on this latest episode. Just know that my disdain for commercial travel has only worsened.

Her surgery for double mastectomy occurred on Friday. Her doctors were so wonderful. She felt very relaxed and confident going in...and the procedure went flawlessly. We haven't gotten back the oncology report and wont until later in the week...but all signs look very positive, most notably, it appears that the cancer hasn't spread to any of her lymph nodes...which is the best news possible! She left the day after her surgery...and later that same night, insisted on making us all dinner. We had grilled steaks, baked King Salmon, and seared sea scallops, with roasted new red potatoes. What a meal!!!!

We've had lots of visitors this weekend...and have pretty much just sat around watching the Seahawks crush Chicago, the Mariners sweep the Red Sox in Boston for the first time in club history...and movies. On Tuesday...I think my sister and I are taking my mom to the Mariners game. We hinged between Tuesday's game and Wednesday's game. We chose Tuesday because King Felix pitches on Wednesday, and since he almost NEVER gets any run support, I feared it would be a boring game for her to see.  And since they are playing the hapless Texas Rangers with the worst pitching in baseball....I'm hopeful there will be a lot of runs scored! 

Before we go to the game...my sister and I are going to do our very imaginative ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Through today...the Ice Bucket Challenge has raised $79m! That is phenomenal! And yes...I understand...people have short attention spans, as well as short leashes when it comes to fads. I've heard a lot of people grumbling about 'being sick' of all the 'stupid Ice Bucket videos' out there. Hey! Look! I get it! But think about this...never has so much money EVER been raised for what is an absolutely horrible disease. Whether you are tired of the videos or not...you can't NOT like what the results have been. It's been simply amazing. That being said...I am cognizant of the fact that if we are/were going to make a video somewhat late in the 'Ice Bucket' game we need to do something very unique and original. And so...that is what we will attempt to do. I hope to have the video up and available to view by Friday or Saturday. Oh...incidentally, I've been challenged already by 3 or 4 people, including a little girl named Alexa Fisher...who, according to her father Justin, was impressed by me when, way back in 2011 I went to dinner break with Justin and his two little girls, JJ Liu, and Men 'The Master' Nguyen on the dinner break of the WSOP Main Event. 

Alexa and her little sister were there...and they thought it was funny that my nickname was 'Monkey.' And I think I spent most of the dinner attempting to entertain them..as most of you know how much I love kids. So they asked if I would be okay with them challenging me...and I (of course) responded by telling them I would honored. Dad told me she screamed out 'Yay!' when he told her I said yes.  How cute. I love kids. Almost as much as I love dogs!

Carley is mad at me again...for not being home with her. The first 5 days here have been hard on her I guess. She won't talk to me on Facetime. It makes me so sad...but it's also kind of cute. The good news is that she has had all kinds of attention since I left, with friends spending the night, and her daycare teacher keeping her on Saturday while Squirrel had to work. They had a great day together, which made me very happy, of course. She just LOVES Miss Bobbie Sue...and freaked OUT I guess when she was at our front door Saturday morning. 

It looks like if my mom DOES need chemo or radiation treatment...that the treatments wouldn't start for 4-6 weeks from now. So I guess it looks like I would/will be going home probably next Wednesday the 3rd...and will be able to play the event coming up at the IP in Biloxi...the 3rd WSOP Circuit stop of the year. It will be the first time I've played at the IP in two years...so I am excited to add to my career-earnings/cashes total at IP events. I'm not sure...but I think I might still be the all-time leader there. Maybe not. Either way...with the letters having been sent from the 'dealer-who-wrecked-me' in Hammond to all the various people with the power to remove my ban in Hammond and have me reinstated...I just want to keep adding on to the 35 points I picked up in Palm Beach in hopes that I will be reinstated....and have the chance to make the WSOP Freeroll National Championship next spring for the 2nd time...and then of course play the WSOP events next summer. I hope it works out...but if it doesn't, then it doesn't. After all, there are a lot more important things in the world, and in my life...then whether or not I can play WSOP events.

A little more about my cash sessions here. The players up here all seem to kind of play the same way. It's eery! They only spread two games at this casino, 4-8 limit...and 2/5 no limit. In the 2/5 game you can only buy in for a maximum of $300. And the biggest bet you can make is $500. Which is kind of a stupid rule...since the way around it is to just keep raising and re-raising an amount not exceeding $500. That is, if you both decided you simply have to get it all in. 

A very common scene is the guy who keeps buying in for $200....and whenever there is a raise of $15 or $20...just shoving all in and praying to get heads up and either hold up or outdraw the person(s) who were brave enough (or confident enough in their hand) to call. It is a very, very wide-open game. You, of course, have your overly aggressive players...and your somewhat tight players. But those tight players play in a way that they are never going to get any value out of the hands they wait around for hours to get. So I developed a pretty sound strategy for this game, I think. My opinion obviously. I simply played the entire time in sniper mode. Limped a lot with decent hands (middle pairs, anything suited connected, random face-card hands) and would call the eventual raise as long as I had a decent price to call...then hope for a good flop I could use against the majority inferior opponents. This worked perfect in almost every scenario...the exception being, obviously, when I got caught slow playing or exercising some pot management to get the aggressor to keep feeding the pot, and them sucking out. It's just one of those unfortunate eventualities of playing sniper poker...but for the most part, it paid dividends.

The other thing that was fun to do was limping with QQ or better...then waiting (or hoping) that someone would raise...which they usually did, then betting an amount that would lead to a lot of head scratching. Not that this stopped guys from calling with shit like 7-9, Q-10 and pocket deuces. I could sit here and complain about my KK losing to JJ, or my 88 losing on a flop of 8-3-A...turn Ace....when a river of ace came...completely fucking my hand..showing the guy how lucky he got, then having him show me a complete bluff. But why bother? You are always going to lose some hands you shouldn't lose. At the end of the day...the fact remains...that if you are a decent player, and you sit down at the 2/5 game at Snoqualmie Casino, you should almost never leave a loser. I think cash session #3 will come tonight...after my Big Money Fantasy draft...which is at 6:15pm Pacific time and should end around 9pm. My sister has expressed a desire to try her hand at the game after hearing me talk about it a good amount. She is a decent player...but doesn't get a chance to play much with her job and kids. Hopefully she will fare well. 

Okay...I'm going to wrap up this post. Tomorrow, or maybe the next day....I am going to be writing a blog, pretty serious in nature, and a direct observation of my time here in Seattle...both in my early years growing up here...as well as my current trip home. This will be a post focusing on race, and the tensions that exist all throughout  our country. Today they are burying the kid in Ferguson, Missouri, in that case that has once again driven a wedge between the relationships between whites and blacks in this country. I will also express my views on that, and share a conversation I had with a Seattle police officer who happens to be a good friend of our family. I asked some questions that were really bugging me, and got some really surprising (to me anyway) answers. I'm hoping you will find this next post interesting and maybe even educational. 

Have a great day!


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Palm Beach Wrap Up....and What's Up Next!!??

I probably should have posted a blog last Monday, to report to you how Day 2 went in the Main Event at Palm Beach Kennel Club. Well, I figure most of you who truly care did enough limited research to discover that I finished 6th...which matches my highest finish in a WSOP Circuit Main Event. I also took 6th in Hammond back in 2010...in a gigantic field, at a table littered with great players like Kurt Jewell (winner), William Reynolds, Nick Jivkov and Bryan Devonshire.

This final table had the likes of Tristan Wade (winner), David 'Lefty' Diaz, Zohair 'BrownMagic) Karim,  and Chance Kornuth. I came into the day with a pretty small stack...but did what I'm best at, playing patiently. Eventually, my breaks would come...and I would amass enough chips to allow me to persevere long enough to get to the Final Table, which was my ultimate goal...well, okay, it was Hurdle #4 officially, with Hurdle #5 being WIN! I guess the good thing about waiting a week to write this is that I have pretty much forgotten about most of the hands...so you don't have to be bored with that.

I have some regrets. We got down to 6 players...and I was surging...having just topped a million chips. And I don't know what it is about being at a final table...but when you start surging like that...and winning every hand your in, you being to start feeling a little bulletproof. A sense of invincibility starts to set in. And this can either be incredibly powerful and lead to victory, or be falsely intoxicating and lead to your demise. I'd had a pretty rough run leading up to the Main Event...having gone out less than ten from the money three times and having zero cashes to show for my efforts. I'd determined that I  needed to finish 8th to break even for the trip. So once I cleared that hurdle...I was basically freerolling. Sort of. I mean, the idea when you leave for a poker trip is to come home with more money than you left with right? So 'freerolling' is probably not the correct term.

In 2010 in Chicago, I was on a similar tear at the final table. I had moved up from low stack to 2nd in chips. Then I made that one fatal error that cost me dearly. I  might not have won...but I surely would have probably finished at least 3rd...which meant the difference between $47,000 and $125,000. Quite a difference. In the case of PBKC...my actions on two back-to-back hands meant the difference between $20,000 and probably $60,000.

In Chicago, William Reynolds had opened on my big blind a lot, and everytime I'd woken up with a huge hand...3-bet him, got called, and got favorable flops to either lead on or check raise on...to which he folded every time. Then he raised me with KK...I  flatted with Q-10...flopped ten-high, and check raised him all in. Stupid. I had so many chips, and we were playing so deep,  that  I could have simply check called him...and  had plenty to work with on the turn and the river. His kings held, and I was crippled. 

In Palm Beach, Tom Midena...who was pretty unpredictable, but more or less a very tight player...raised behind me at cutoff, and I looked down at 88. At that stage of the tourney...and with him holding about 400k and me 1.1m...flatting a raise of 75k didn't seem like a smart move holding position and an almost 3-1 chip advantage. So I reraised him to 200k. He shoved. I had no price to fold now. Which sucked. ANd of course...he had KK...which held. Then on literally the NEXT hand...Zo Karim raised (again)...got re-raised by Tom...and I once again had 88. That would have been a great time to fold. And had I? I think things would have shaken out a whole lot differently. I fold, Zo calls with AJ...Tom's KK wins again, taking a large chunk out of Mr. BrownMagic...and really leveling the playing field. 

But nope, like an idiot, I shoved with 88..hoping I had the best hand...which wasn't the case. Zo calls with his AJ..and Tom again has KK. Incredible. And they held. I was busto..and Zo would end up, somehow...after having about half the chips in play when we were 6-handed, going out 5th. 

Nevertheless...it was my 3rd Main Event cash at PBKC in as many attempts...and first final table. My $20,200 for 6th got me out of the red for the trip, and also triggered a bonus for all 80 people who invested in either my summer package, or the one for the 'Monkey's Minions' that sent 4 players to the Main Event at Rio this summer. I had promised to pay out a total of 10% of my winnings to them if I were to make a cash over $20k....which was just barely what happened! So they all got a little stimulus check of $25. To their credit a lot of them have donated it to either Carley's College Fund...or Breast Cancer research. Still more are using their credit for the upcoming pool season...which is always a good/fun investment!

Congrats to Tristan Wade for winning the title over another guy I'm pretty good friends with, David 'Lefty' Diaz. Tristan sat there in the 1-seat...very quiet, very patient...in fact, it took me a couple hours to even realize it was him! We had met a few years back in a lounge in Vegas and my impression of him was very favorable. Incredibly nice young man. And great player. He waited, and found his spots...and next thing you know...with his family present (they are all from down there) shipped the thing for $106,000. Good for him!

I played the last event the next day...despite my insistence that you should NEVER play the day, or even the week, after making a decent score. Why? So you can actually enjoy it a little. But since it was the last event of the trip, and I figured their would be a small field and why not  take a shot at a ring and more freeroll points? So I bought  into the $365 Turbo event.

I  flop trip nines....on flop of A-9-9 holding J-9h. It checks around to me. I make it 500. Only one guy calls. The guy with 33. Good call sir. He turns a three. I lose a bunch. Same guy....limps with QQ. I call in SB with A3h. I flop four to the flush. Call his bet. I turn a flush. Check raise the crap out of him. He calls. Why not? He  has a set of queens. River pairs the board. Ugh. I check call his bet. Wonderful. I got down to 900 chips are was thinking about the beach...as it was only noon, still. I jam JJ. No callers. I jam AK no callers. Then get KK utg. Limp. Get 6 callers, no raisers. Ugh. Guess this is how I'm going out. Nope. Q-high flop...guy in BB bets. I ship. He calls with Q-10. Doesn't improve. Then I ship on the button behind an UTG raise and four calls, holding AK. Get called by JJ. Flop a king and it holds. Back in the game. Before I know it...I have the table chip lead with 23k. Will this be an amazing story on the final event?

I'm in the SB with QQ. Cutoff raises to 1000. An OMRG chewing on a toothpick (always a double whammy for me) makes it 2500 on the button with AJ off. I make it 5500 in SB. He announces "Oh what the hell, I'm going to the beach (I can respect that sentiment)" and calls off with AJ. No sweat. He hits his ace. Sigh. Then it was just a shit storm from there. Same guy would beat me two  or three more times...and for my final act, I shoved 11 BB's in early position with 99...and got overshoved on by a  lady with A10. Nice hand. No help to her on the flop...or turn...but sure enough...tenball on the river and my Palm Beach trip was a wrap.

I went downstairs, where I'd  had  mixed results the whole two weeks I was down there...and this time picked up $525 in my final cash session. A nice going away gift. Went to Dicks and bought a new pair of sunglasses to replace the ones that got stolen at the beach while I was in the water snorkeling. Driving home would require them. Picked up 5 movies from Redbox, and some KFC....then went and packed...and got on the road. I made it home in a record 9 hours,  stopping only three times for gas and nothing else. It was about 8am when I walked in, and Carley heard me...shrieked, and came running into the kitchen to greet me. It was awesome. I got the biggest hug! 

It gets harder and harder to leave my little sweetie. But at least this time the trip was worth it, since I came home profitable. But it sure doesn't make me miss her any less. We have been connected at the hip all week. This weekend we did her favorite thing...playing on her slide and pool in the backyard...while throwing Jasper his ball. Whatever it takes!

I only have three more days with Carley and Mama Squirrel...then I have to leave for Seattle. I have no real idea on how long I will be there. I wrestled with revealing the reason for my trip on this blog...as I really didn't feel like dealing with the asshole haters who leave their snotty comments...and any negative comment on this subject would put me in a state of mind  I really don't want to deal with. But since I guess the majority of you who read my blog are actually kind, caring human beings...you'd probably be a lot more understanding. Just a few weeks ago, we found out that my mother has breast cancer...and that the doctor wanted to perform surgery right away. So she made an appointment originally for August 12th...which made me think I would be leaving Palm Beach...getting home, doing laundry, and getting right back on a plane.

But then she rescheduled it for August 22nd, this coming Friday...which came as a bit of good news...so I get home, get caught up on...well, life...spend some valuable time with my girls, and then head out there for her mastectomy surgery, and after-care for as long as she needs me. My sister is also going out, coming from Milwaukee. Some of you know of my involvement in the past with causes for Breast Cancer...and of the tragic loss of our friend Cincere Mason,  who beat Breast Cancer twice, before dying of a strange bacterial infection after helping a friend after flooding in Pensacola. And you certainly know of my painful loss of my good friend Chad Brown this summer, also to cancer. So it really kind of hit us all right smack in the face when my mom called us and shared the news with us.

I know my mom is scared, despite acting very brave. Cancer is a scary, scary thing...to be certain. But one bit of good news that we got was that after they did the biopsy and scan and all that...they determined that the cancer had not spread to the lymph nodes...which in my limited knowledge of breast cancer, is for sure good news.  So we are crossing our fingers that after her surgery, they will have eradicated all of the cancer from her body and not have to get into all the chemo and radiation. I will keep you all informed as I learn more.

As for future poker events? Well, while I was in Florida, I received the letter from the IP in Biloxi informing me that I am no longer 86'd from their place. So that opens the door for me to play the WSOP Circuit Event there from Sept 4th-14th. I fully expect to play that event IF I am home from Seattle. If not...then so be it. Anything beyond that event I have no idea on. Hopefully, my Mom's surgery goes well...I come home and play what I hope is a well-attended WSOP event here in Biloxi, and make a couple cashes. Then if I need to go back to Seattle, I can do that.

Football season is right on our doorstep...and I am SO glad! It feels like its been the longest offseason ever! I am so excited to see if my Seahawks can make a good defense of their Super Bowl title. To see if my Washington Huskies are better under Boise State's former coach. To see how strong Alabama is, and if their new QB can handle the task. And of course, all four of my pools and my four fantasy leagues...which are just about full with a few openings still available. I just LOVE September! The weather gets tolerable...the playoff stretch run in baseball....hockey starting...and of course FOOTBALL! IF you aren't on my pool distro list and have any interest in getting on it, shoot me an email at ThePoolMonkey@aol.com and I will make sure you are involved!

Well...this seems like a good place to end. Thanks to  those who threw me their support during the Main Event run...I always appreciate that, as I'm sure most players do! It was a very fun event...and I honestly left town with a very good taste in my mouth! Thanks again to the staff of WSOP and the people from the Kennel Club's poker room for their hospitality! 


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Here We Go Again....

One thing I like to do before a Main Event is get some sleep. The other thing I like to do is limit myself to one buyin, aka 'bullet.' The only way I don't mind firing twice is if I am either (a) backed for two bullets (b) running exceptionally well that week and have it to spend or (c) am playing in a field that is so large that the value dictates doing it.

None of those three elements are in play this trip. I've been playing on my own dime this event. I've been running like crap the whole time. And the turnouts have been relatively disappointing in comparison to all the other events this play has hosted. Not sure why, exactly. So with all that in mind...and with my brain overloaded from a plethora of river beats, runner runner suckouts, and way too many one and two-outers...I took Friday completely off from poker.

I joined some friends for a trip to a beautiful park just north of West Palm Beach...where you had to walk through what looked like a rain forest and a three hundred yard wooden bridge that took you over an ocean-filled lake and to the beach. We snorkled around a rock reef...seeing all kinds of fish while dodging what I found out is called 'fire rock' which is...well...bright red rock that when you touch it burns like a mofo. I was wearing flippers which kept me from stepping on it. 

While I was snorkeling, some asshole was busy stealing my $140 Under Armor glasses out of my snorkeling gear bag. That kind of took a little happiness out of the experience. But nonetheless, it was a nice day...while 109 players were playing down to 20 in the Flight A of the Main Event. I returned to my room around 7...and slept uninterrupted until 10am the next day...getting roughly 15 hours of sleep!

I showed up in a very positive frame of mind. My first table draw wasn't too tough. What happened over the next 3  hours though was perplexing and  irritating. I've been playing poker tourneys now for 10 years...and I can't ever remember getting Ax so many times in a tourney as I did yesterday. It was mind-boggling. Here were my cards that I can remember. AK? Had it five times...lost all five before winning a double up with it against A10...who thought I was squeezing from the big blind with nothing and snap called my shove. AQ...had it three times. Won once. AJ...had it four times.All losers. A10...had it 3 times...lost them all. A9...5 times...won twice. A8...3 times...lost them all. A7...twice, no winners. A6...three times. Losers. A5...4 times...losers. A3....6 times. One winner. A2...twice. No winners. AA....five times! Won 3 (2 good pots, 1 walk) Lost 2 (both big pots).  That's 46 hands  that included at least ONE ace. That is...crazy!

I was quickly in a -2500 hole from my starting stack of $20,000. But I wasn't panicking. I picked up KK and got it to win. I bluffed a couple of pots. At the first break I was sitting at my starting stack. More up and down in Levels 4-6 saw me go on break with 19k...still hovering around starting stack. It was a grind...and I was grinding my face off.

Registration was open until 12 levels...which is nuts. We ended up getting a total  of 194 in our  flight...combined with the 109 from Flight A...to give us a total  of 303 players...with first place paying $106,000 and 33rd place $2700. 

My table would break three times in two levels...which is never very fun...since you have no info on how the other tables' players are playing and how  much your raises are going to be respected. 

I ended up going on a bit of a heater. The double up with AK vs. A10 behind four other raisers of 1100 before I jammed my 14,000 was huge. Then...I'm in the BB  when the guy UTG raises...it folds to John Holley who had just rebought into  the tourney....and he shoves all in for 28k I think. It folds to me...and I say "Well...let me find some aces under hear"...and what do I look at? Two black aces! Wow. I say call...the guy on my left chuckles knowing what I just discovered and he folds. John says "Shit...if Monkey's calling my hand can't be good!" He had 10's. He was right...as he failed to do what so many others had done this week...two out me. That moved me up to 74k.

Then a while later...at 800/1600...I find AA again...UTG...and raise it to 4100. I get  one caller....then the button...a player who had about 150k when I sat down at the table but was having a murderous couple of orbits...jams it all in for 34k. I called,  the second guy folded and I was up against 88. Again...I faded the two-outer...or of course, some weird straight...and now I was right near 100k in the top ten in chip counts.

I got into another two or three big hands where I was able to win  post flop on hands where I may or may not have been good. But the bottom line? When you have a big stack in big tourneys, it  really changes the way you can play. You have leverage. I had Ylon Schwartz at my table and he was really playing well...and was tough to battle with, due mainly to his stack size. I would flop middle pair against him....or some kind of obscure draw...and while a lot of times I didn't think he had anything, it  just didn't seem worth it to keep getting deeper and deeper into the hand with him. When I get a big stack...I like to minimize my liability to about 15-20% of my stack size on any given hand.

I know that there will be a lot of times like those with the AA and small stacks jamming into you...that will present themselves late in tourneys...enough so that I don't necessarily have to get mixed up in hands where I'm guessing if I'm good or whether it justifies calling huge bets on the flop and turn to 'get there' and possibly cut into my stack in a significant fashion.

We got down to 51 players...and were on the last hand of the night...when the current chipleader...Zo Karim...who had gloated that he should just be raising with anything since he was running so good, and he had! He'd gone from 12 big blinds about 30 minutes before I got to his table to over 400k...beating AQ with QQ...beating AK with QQ...and a few others I can't recall. But he was dropping players like flies. So here we go on the last hand of the night and me sitting at 108k preflop. He raises (at 1200/2400) to 5000. I'm on the button and flat his raise with AQ...not wanting to do anything crazy...and just wanting, really...to see if I can nail a flop against him. 

Well, I do. The flop comes A-5-Q. Rainbow. He leads out for 5000. I raise him 15,000. He quickly calls. Hmmm. That uneasy feeling sets in. The turn is a 7. He checks. I bet 22k. He calls again. Now I'm getting nervous. The river is a king. He sits there staring at me for quite awhile then bets a very peculiar 17k. I knew something smelled bad but I couldn't bring myself to fold. I thought there was a chance he was just making a play where he thought he had become bullet proof in his mind. And if I folded and he showed me some bullshit hand I was going to never forgive myself. I called up the 17k. He turns over J-10 offsuit. He rivered the gutterball. And instead of bagging up 180k in chips...being in the top ten in chips...and likely cruising to the money today....I was stuck on 65k...or roughly 21 big blinds heading back for day 2....and 18 spots away from the money.

That was  NOT how I wanted to end my night. At all. I wonder what he'd have done had he missed that river card? Whatever. It is what it is. We go back to 1500/3000 and I've researched the players on my Day 2 draw...and it in no way resembles the tough tables I had yesterday...at one time I had a table with Lefty Diaz, Chris Conrad and TK Miles all present. That was like a blast from the past. All friends, but admittedly a table where NO ONE was going to give me a break.

Earlier I had a table with my buddy BJ McBrayer...who would lose on the river when he patiently sat blinding down before shipping with 66...getting called by two face cards...and getting rivered by a straight. 'Smiling Don' from St Louis was also at my table...and on a play where Chris Dombrowski, who has quickly become one of my most annoying opponents...as he's been clearly watching Tom Dwan play WAY too much....he of the 4 finger slow robotic checks, and the slow blinking...long staring with the cold emotionless eyes in between the action on each and every street....well, Durr-squared decides to 'make a move'...as he 3-bet the utg raiser (holding 66) only to run into Donnie 4-betting (with AA) behind him. The action folded to the utg raiser...who also folded. Then 'Dombo Durr' decides to get cute and jam all in for 43k. Donnie had about 38k and snap called him. 

I was confident Don was going to double up and put Dombrowski on the brink of elimination. I was wrong. The board ran out K-10-7-9-8....giving him a straight and sending Donnie downstairs to the cash room I suspect. Really an awful awful beat. In fact, I saw AA lose quite a bit yesterday...I lost with it twice...once for 6600 of my chips in Level 4 to a guy with KJh...and another to a guy with J10...who made two pair on the river. 

All told it was a very, very, long 12-hour day of poker. While I am happy to have emerged from the herd with chips...I sure would like to be going back with 180k instead  of 65k. But hey! I play some of my best poker when I've got my back to the wall. I took a melatonin when I got back to my room and managed for a second night in a row to get a good night of sleep.

Just got done Facetiming with Squirrel and Carley...who are in Pensacola at her best friend's house for  the weekend. They spent the day at the pool yesterday and are going out on the boat today. The same boat Squirrel lost her engagement ring on 5 years ago. Well, having replaced her ring this past Christmas...I reminded her to take that thing off before going out today!!!! I don't think I needed to remind her! Carley is now able to say the words (sort of) "I love you, Daddy" and there is nothing that puts me in a better mood or makes me smile harder than hearing that come out of her mouth...with a big 'ol smile on her face. 

For no other reasons than wanting to bring home a big payday for Squirrel and Carley and also wanting to kind of re-establish myself in the poker community as a player who is successful...I just want to have a good day today. If not 1st place, just making the final table...I just really really want to NOT encounter something like I've been encountering down here all week, and frankly, most of the summer. Playing deep only to get derailed by some horrific beat. If I lose...let me lose fair and square to a hand that either had me beat...or was just as good. Those are the kind of situations where I can stand up...say "Nice hand sir" and "Good luck to all of you" and leave knowing I did everything I could to win but that it just wasn't my day.

I just want....for once this year....for it TO BE my day!!!!

Here we go!!!!!!