Friday, February 27, 2015

Monkey Does St. Louis...

I've been here a full week...and am 20 minutes from going down to the poker floor to get started on Day 1A of the Main Event...which I avoided buying into for the full $1675 by winning the $250 Mega Satellite last night, on my 2nd buy in, after my KK fell to QQ early in level 2. 

I'm not sure what kind of crowd to expect for these two flights of Main Event action. As I looked around yesterday, I didn't see too many of the 'tourney regs' come flocking in like they usually do the Wed/Thurs before the Main Event starts.  But with the field sizes in the $365 events being around 250-400 I imagine they will draw enough to make it at least lucrative if I can find my way to the final table.

As for how I've been running this week? Well, it's been kind of a weird week. To summarize, I won a nightly for $4000, then picked up two 3rs, both good for $1800...so those have been good to me. I've only played 3 nightly's. The first nooner...the big one, 792 players....I was deep and in the money when I got two-outed on consecutive hands, on the river....to finish 69th for a min cash of $625..picking up another 7.5 freeroll points and bumping me up to around 40th place with 100 points. 

But the rest of the week has been frustrating. I bubbled the next days's noon event...stone bubbled it. 22nd place, paying 21. That sucked. Then next in the 6-handed I went out 45th...also paying 21. So I've been deep a lot and don't have much to show for it, unless your counting nightly tourney's which I guess I should.

The cash game? Wow....that has been a green pastured every time I've sat down in it. 3 out of 4 sessions I've booked a profit of $500 or more. I won't go into detail about the way they play here...but if you are an experienced player...it's pretty easy to figure out how to play against most of these people if you are trying to have success at the table. 

The hotel room here is really nice...very spacious...and located very close to the poker room. I picked up a roomate, BJ McBrayer, for this trip...so it's nice to half my costs there. BJ has been running pretty well himself, finishing 4th in the $500 tourney and min cashing another before getting hit with some bad luck. 

One negative to this place is the presence of the Missouri Gaming Commission, who, as it's been explained to me, are the losers who weren't good enough to make it as regular cops...so that was their fall back plan. They basically just roam around the tournament area antagonizing the players, almost daring them to engage in a confrontation with them. I've heard story upon story about them. As for what the poker room management or casino management can do about them? I don't think here is anything they CAN do...I think the law stipulates that they HAVE to be here...so they just basically loiter around looking for things to bust people's balls about. Real fucktards.

One thing that has really stood out in my mind here. The Official St Louis 3-bet...is just ALL IN. Pot size does NOT matter. Stack size does NOT matter, either. If a guy limps...and someone raises...9 times out of 10...if he isn't folding...he is shoving all in. Same thing for if he raises, and someone actually (probably not from here) makes a reasonable 3-bet...once it gets back to the ghoul from St Louie....he is shipping it all in! It's just mind boggling. 

One of the eventual circumstances of this type of play...is the play getting whittled down VERY quickly. In just the last three days...with field sizes of approximately 175....the field has been narrowed down to about 32-36 by dinner break...which has been just 10-15 from the money. That doesn't happen unless people are just bombing away with their whole stacks and playing almost ZERO pot control poker. And that is pretty much exactly how they play here...and why the fields are being blazed through at the speed they are.

The other thing I've been noticing is the amount of 'hero play' that takes place here. I can count at least four times...in hands where there was betting on the flop, the turn and the river...where one of the two players in the hand would turn over two cards that made no connection...NONE...with the board. No pair,  No draw. Nothing. Just the desire to get into a back and forth battle with the other player in hopes they could make them fold. Only...in this place? People don't ever fold...especially if they have so much as bottom pair. So this really adds to the amusement element of the attempted bluff play. 

I thought my five-year break from this  place would see an improvement in the play up here. I was wrong. It has not gotten one tiny iota better...if anything,  it's gotten worse. But I think my game may have evolved to a point where I've learned to be a little more evasive when it comes to avoiding getting into bad spots with these jokers...by either keeping the pot small to avoid going bust on some ridiculous river result...or just bailing in certain hands when I know it's got a good chance of being one of those 50/50 death hands. I choose the path of least resistance, knowing they are bad enough that I can just peck away at them one chunk at a time...instead of trying to get the whole ball of wax in one fell swoop. Yes, it's mentally taxing, and time-consuming...but a lot more safe, and effective.

Okay...I have a great table draw...and I say that because I got my favorite seat 6...so I think I will try to get down there on time...when they tend to spend a lot of time giving away chips early. Maybe I can bag up a fat bag of chips on Day 1a...then take tomorrow off and do something away from the poker table. For those of you up here and playing...good luck to you as well!


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Time to Go Play Some Poker!

First...I would like to wish all of you a Happy Valentine's Day...that holiday dreamed up by the folks from the greeting card industry. That holiday expressly intended for those who wait for ONE day a year to share their feelings with their loved one. I can share with you that I spent the most I've ever spent for a simple greeting card, by simple I mean it doesn't play music or feature pop-up animation of any kind. $9.26 for a greeting card. Wow! Carley had her first real exposure to the holiday...as she is now old enough to cognitively register what each holiday kind of represents now. And for her...it meant lots of candy, and the chance to write what she thinks is her name on valentines for her classmates at daycare. After her party...we went to pick up Jasper, our black lab, from Petsmart..where he'd been getting groomed. As soon as I picked her up from her car seat...I was covered in vomit. Orange-colored vomit. I quickly grabbed her 'party cup' that was half filled with candy...and she filled up the rest of that thing...with more vomit. My baby likes to eat the frosting off of cookies, cupcakes and cake. She did a lot of that at her party. And together we ended up wearing it! But once she got it all out of her, she was good to go! 

Today, it will be a big Mardi Gras parade in downtown Biloxi, which I guess is a big deal because it's the first 'night parade' they've had since Hurricane Katrina almost ten years ago. Me? I'm not a big 'parade guy' and have never gotten into the whole 'Mardi Gras thing.' But whatever...I'm a good sport, I can go along with whatever I get dragged to in the interest of showing my girls a good time.

My sadness over the Seahawks loss in the Super Bowl has almost worn off. I won't lie...I was totally distraught over it. And if the pride associated with a back-to-back Super Bowl champion wasn't tough enough to swallow, another thing I lost was the $19,000 I would have won from my $100 Survivor Pool. I resisted the 'chop talk' all week...thinking that with 4 people left, there was a pretty good chance that they other three would take New England. I was right. They did. I was one yard away from the greatest day of my sports lifetime! A touchdown to win the Super Bowl for the 2nd year in a row!!!! And my biggest win in one of my pools in the 18 years I've been running pools. And then Malcomb Hunter happened. 

We had a huge Super Bowl party at our new house...and I can't even tell you what a great job Squirrel and The Claw did making it simply amazing. My buddy Barth, who owns bars in the New Orleans area, showed up Saturday night packing a TON of beer, liquor and supplies...and after I ran all over Biloxi picking up food platters and football-field themed cookies...we had the most amazing Super Bowl Spread you could ever imagine. We got a great turnout as well...and with a huge deck in back with a fire pit raging..and a TV inside and out...it was just a great setting...on top of it being a great game. Everything was perfect...except that final 30 seconds. That crushed my soul!!! But...like I said...I am ALMOST recovered from it. The only...and I mean ONLY thing...that I take away from the loss...is that I hope the Seahawks come back next season just pissed...and hungry...and focused...and steamroll their way to another Super Bowl.

Yesterday I mailed out the FINAL payments for ALL of my Super Bowl squares...of which I sold out 24 boards for a total of $102,000! Last week, I mailed out all the winnings from the various pools throughout football season. It was quite a season. I awarded a shade over $500,000 on just SQUARES this season...then another $100,000 in pools...and ALL OF THEM ARE PAID! It gives me the best feeling wiping that slate clean every football season. Granted...I'm still owed about $9000 from various people...but whatever...they'll pay (most of them) I just have to hound the shit out of most of them. And that shit gets old.

The website I tried to get behind...Fantasy Draft...did not quite pan out the way we all hoped it would. I know a lot of us poker players that were in on it from the outset, and were busting out butts to get the name out there...and get people signed up...were really hoping it would make for a huge success and reward all of us for working so hard on it. Well, they had a lot of problems getting launched...and delays...and when they finally did launch, in the 2nd to last week of the season, it was a total meltdown, slow...like molasses, web delays, lack of stat updates, inability to do player-to-player transfers...which sucked because a lot of people had problems even getting money onto the site. They are trying to get it together right now during basketball season...but I think we all realize that basketball just ISN'T fantasy football..in any way possible. So I don't know...maybe they will do something amazing and kick off next season in grand fashion. I hope so...it would be nice to get something out of all that work I dedicated to it.

I played some online poker this past week...and came to realize why I hate online poker so much. I fired up my Bovada account and was shocked to see I had over $500 in there. Hmmm. So I played some 1/2 NL Hold em and some 50/1.00 Pot Limit Omaha 8. I played for 3 hours one night...and 4 hours another night. I now have $250 in my account. There is nothing that took place that I can honestly call 'normal.' I am pretty sure their software is geared to provide the most ridiculous things you can ever imagine on the river. And no one ever folds...ever...so you can always count on getting drawn out on. Screw it, don't even know why I brought it up. Online poker is a joke.

Did I hear the news? Regarding the chatter coming out of Nevada that they might try to ban, or make illegal, poker players selling 'pieces of themselves?' Of course I did...and even if I hadn't, there were 4 or 5 people posting excerpts about it to my Facebook wall. 

(had to pause to open the door for the Fed Ex guy who was bringing flowers for our selfie-snapping housemate, The Claw! That was just the first of what I assume could be a long stream of flowers coming to the house today for her! She's become quite popular since becoming a demon in the gym and shedding 60 lbs in the last 8 months or so)

Back to that stupid threat of a law banning player staking. First of all,  if it HAD gone through...there is no way players would have stopped selling off pieces. In fact, in my opinion, the ONLY one it would have protected, was the douche bag player who sells pieces of himself, wins something...and then feels he/she doesn't legally have to cough up what he/she owes the investors...since there is legislation stating there couldn't legally BE that arrangement in the first place. Can you imagine that? A way for douchey poker players to be a little douchier? Yeah...shocker.

Well, I was getting people telling me about it for one reason I suppose. Maybe two...as I've been known to sell a lot of packages for my poker adventures...which is what I call them now since, as a daddy of the Amazing (and high-maintenance) Carley...I rarely get a chance to venture out and play with the other poker kids. But I think the primary reason people were concerned was that they are all waiting on me to launch the 2nd Annual Search for Monkey's Minions...or more easily explained as my raising money from my vast network of friends/acquaintances looking for a sweat on the Main Event. Last year we raised $40,000 and sent four very qualified players to the Big Event...with none of them cashing, much to our chagrin. But despite their inability to cash...nearly all of those involved expressed a desire to do it again this year...so they will certainly invited back.

And so...yeah...you can consider this an announcement, I guess...that I WILL, in FACT...be doing it again this summer. Mainly because I've been rejected for reinstatement by the folks at Horseshoe Hammond, as discussed in my last post. Don't know why, other than there is a vendetta being served up by the 'Big Guy' at the WSOP. Childish, ridiculous, and borderline damaging from a legal perspective...but one which I'm no longer allowing to get me worked into a lather. Life is just WAY TOO GOOD away from the poker table for me to give much of a fuck.

How many will I/We send this summer? I guess it depends on how many I raise money for. We only had enough for two last year and then in the three days leading up to Day 1a of the event, quickly raised another $20k. I would prefer not having to go the route we did last year...which turned into the ultimate rush job, and stressed me out. This year I'd like for them to have their buy in at least a week before the event..and be able to get out to Vegas (if they aren't already there) with time to get settled in and rested up. I also hope to have T-shirts and maybe hats made for them to wear to announce their presence! I also hope to have one of them get deep and make us a return this year!!!

Okay...so what is this talk about me getting off the bench and getting back out there? Well......

Once upon a time I traveled (by car, horrible road trip btw) to a place called St.Louis, where I'd never been before. I think it was 2009. What I encountered that trip were some of the most AWFUL beats I'd ever witnessed...that was the trip where Mark Cain (dealer) forged his legendary status of destroying me...as he will openly share with any of you that should ask. I also saw some of the worst poker played of any god-forsaken place I'd ever traveled to. And I don't know what the deal was with the ugly people...but St Louis has some of the most unattractive people I've ever seen...and they all seem very fond of wearing camouflage. Will things have changed in the 5 years I've been away? I mean...how much COULD it have changed? Really? And? I played at the Harrah's up there...and the set up was beyond horrible, slapped smack in the middle of slot machines and surrounded by plumes of cigarette smoke, to go along with that clank clank clank ding ding ding irritation. I was expecting this to be a better set up...but someone I spoke to today has informed me that at the last event they ran there..it was almost a mirror image of the events at Harrah's. Isn't that awesome!

 So an obvious question would be....'Then why the hell are you going back?' Of course, my wife clearly remembers my feelings about St Louis and all things St Louis-related...so that was her immediate question when I told her I was thinking about wanting to go up there for the circuit event. I can honestly say I didn't have a great comeback...other than to tell her I hope that the level of play has improved, and that since we are currently in the best financial shape we've been in since we've been married, I won't have to take that mentality of 'needing to win' with me. 

I think playing in that frame of mind can make poker really stressful, and affect your total behavior towards people. I know it has for me in the past. Needing to make a score, and running into a constant stream of bad beats and suck outs can make you a mental wreck...which translates a lot of times to appearing to be a total asshole to people around you. I mean...what are you supposed to do? Qualify everything you say to people with a long, drawn out story about how bad your running?

I learned pretty early on in my poker career that no one...I mean NO ONE...really cares about how bad you are running. And even when you are running good...they don't want to hear about THAT either...especially when they are running like shit. Poker is a weird game...and to develop REAL (I mean truly REAL) friendships among poker players...you really have to share things in common that don't include poker. I've been lucky to have made about 4 or 5 really, really good friends through poker...who, no matter how well or bad we are doing in poker, it never gets in the way of our friendship. It's pretty simple, we just don't talk about poker that much. Frankly, all of my good 'poker friends' and me agree that poker is a pretty boring topic of conversation, generally speaking.

It was a little tougher for me, I guess, because I've created an identity with this blog. And I'm not saying that it's bad. But when I'm somewhere playing, and things are going bad..and a blog reader approaches and greets me in a very pleasant way, I have to try to put on a happy face...and I'm not always the best actor. Now my wife? She is the BEST! I know that those of you who know the Squirrel have NEVER witnessed her being rude to anyone. It just doesn't happen. Not because she doesn't WANT to be ugly/rude...she just doesn't do it. Me, I have a little harder time with it...so I might just say "Hi..listen..it's really bad timing right now, can I talk to you later?" And people tend to act understanding...but you just KNOW some of them are thinking "What a dick!" And I hate that!

Blah blah blah! Ugh sidebar from hell there! So yeah...I'm going to St Louis...because its being held at Lumiere Place...owned by the people who own The Trop...whatever that is. I know that when I called to make a room reservation, since the website boasted of WSOP rates...I was connected to the switchboard, in Atlantic City. And immediately, I was in reservation hell. The lady hit a snag when it came to booking 'long-term' reservations. Huh? And after first being told the day before they had plenty of availability, she was telling me they were N/A on that first Saturday night...my STL trip was looking like it was going to fizzle.

Finally...a Supervisor took over. He did finally fix the problem...but not until he had to wrestle with the 'long term' thing himself. Apparently, they weren't set up to deal with 11-day reservations...which you would think, if they are going to host a WSOP event, offer WSOP pricing, and get a LOT of players who are coming for the whole time to play the event...they might want to have worked out ahead of time. And so..with only a week until the event starts, less actually now...I have a bad feeling there is going to be a lot of horror stories about getting room reservations there. A little tip...if you call, ask for Supervisor Joe! Feel free to tell him Will Souther referred you to him.

I am hopeful they get a good turnout. Obviously I am playing there because I can play there. The only other properties I can play this season (WSOP-related) are Foxwoods in Connecticut, and The Bicycle Club in Los Angeles. As I looked at the Freeroll standings...I have plummeted to 35th place. The Top 50 (I think) make it into the freeroll for the Million bucks...or whatever it is. And of course, as most of you know...I'm unlikely to be allowed to play in it. But I still would like to actually QUALIFY! And maybe stir up a little attention that makes a few people have to answer a few awkward questions. And with the points I have now...I figure I probably need 20-30 points to lock up a spot in that tourney I can't play in! That could be 3 or 4 min cashes...or just one final table.

I'm excited, because I'm not going with any pressure to win. And I'm not selling any packages or pieces, playing for 100% on my own dime. If I win...great. If I don't win...no big deal, other than having to be away from my girls for 10 days...which always sucks. I fly out on Friday morning...get into STL at noon, with enough time to get over to the casino and registered for that day's event. I decided not to rent a car...so I won't be tempted to go sightseeing in Ferguson!

I guess that's it! If you're going to St Louis...I'll see ya there...otherwise, I'll see ya when I see ya! Hope your year is going great! And if your down here on the coast...have a wonderful MARDI GRAS!!!!