Saturday, March 14, 2015

Part 2. Monkey's Farewell to St. Louis!

Tonight at 5:30 I am driving to New Orleans with 'The Claw' to see Craig Ferguson in concert. Shouldn't there be another word for when comedians perform? Concert? Yes, Squirrel was invited. No, she isn't a Craig Ferguson fan. So before I go and attempt to let someone make me laugh, I will sit down and write something in an attempt to make you laugh. Sound fair?

The exit wound from my week in St Louis has almost healed. Last night, I almost even dared myself to log on to Bovada...before I checked myself. And two days ago...I even got the itch to take Allen Kessler up on his 'buy a piece' offer on Facebook...for his Bay 101 action. I bit. For 10%. And honestly...didn't even know the event had started before someone told me he was out. Huh? What? Oh. Okay. Nice sweat.

Any pain I had from that...or anything else was temporarily healed yesterday when I heard that the Saints decided to throw in the towel on another season, and trade their best player to my Seahawks. Yes...that kind of made my day. Can we just go ahead and start the season 3 months early? Please?

Went to a steakhouse last night, Logan's Roadhouse...to celebrate the great news...and was informed by our waitress...and this was at 7pm on a Tuesday, that they were OUT of all their steaks. Oh...and salmon, too. Huh? And this was AFTER we'd had to vacate our favorite sushi joint because Carley decided to freak out. Pretty funny...I made a post about it on Facebook, which always posts to my Twitter...and I had the CEO from Logan's blowing me up this morning! Wow...social media is something, eh?

I have a Fantasy Baseball League...its $350 per team. It's 20-teams deep..and I've been told it's 'the best setup in any league I've ever played, Monkey!' Been going on for about 7 years now. Head-to-Head league on Yahoo...non-keeper league...live online draft Sunday the 29th at 7:30pm CT. 16 teams came back from last year...and one was scooped up yesterday. I have three teams available to anyone interested. Just email me: ThePoolMonkey@aol.com.  Also have the March Madness Pool coming up...my 17th Annual. $25 per entry. Had 689 entries last year. I've never won. First place last year was $6600. The winner was a woman. If you're interested in playing, again, email me.

The final night I was in STL...when BJ and I were holed up in our room watching the Family Feud marathon and contemplating going off campus to eat...while scrolling through the channels...we land on a poker tourney...taking place in Australia. And I noticed my good friend Frank Kassela had made it's final table and busted like 4th or something for $100k+. Today I notice on Facebook he's in the Bahamas with his wife, Piper. Nice life, Frank. So we watch the 3-handed play for a few minutes...and I hear the announcer say something that sends me rolling on the floor howling. It was especially funny because you rarely hear the poker announcers make fun of the players.

It was only about 3 minutes into watching when I was already telling BJ all the various ways I'd like to bitch slap all three players. I just don't get these fucking players these days. But this guy? Oh...he was the ultimate DoucheCase. And when the announcer says..."Lets see what the Emperor from Stars Wars does on this one" I lost it. It was perfect. Not sure if it was actually 'the emperor' or not, Star Wars fan-geeks...but it referred to that creepy black-hooded guy with the awful teeth and the red eyes. This guy's thing was sitting there trying his damnedest to never move even a single muscle. With his black hood, big glasses sitting there like a statue. Then...one of my favorite (and by favorite, I mean I'd like to watch an ISIS militant be-finger him) moves...would do that fucking slow, robotic picking up of the chips...then monotonously dropping them just about 4 inches in front of his stack. Which I know is a move dealers also universally loathe.

I couldn't take it any longer. "Change it BJ! Change it!!! Please!!! Back to Steve Harvey! Back to Steve Harvey!!!!!"  We're gonnna play Steve!!!!


Okay. I've made you wait long enough. Let's talk about 'The Table' you've been all anxiously waiting to hear about. Present at that table was the man I not-so-affectionately have labeled the Official Face of St. Louis Poker. I do not know his name. And really, does it matter? And do the other 'gentleman' at the table matter, either? I mean, you'll never see any of them on TV at a final table, or any other final table that matters. These are the cretins who live in the poker world who like to push the envelope, to see just how much they can get away with. These are the men with 2 to 3 inch peckers, who I would say drive Corvettes from the 80s and 90's (the affordable ones) if I didn't have such a hard time debating with myself between Vette and Trans Am.

My view of Mr STL from my 2nd seat (after rebuying)
The Crown Prince and Face of St. Louis Poker...something like a cross between an inbread family of possoms, and Mike Matusow. A solid 30 seconds of his glare will turn you into Queso dip!
I think I  mentioned it in either my last post or else on Facebook...but one of the things about being at a poker table...is that you always seem to have sanctuary in one of the player's next to  you...who you can chat with about the terrible play going on before you. But what do you do when the entire table is playing like a bunch of fucktards? Granted...in this particular event...the person on my right was a tall, lanky young man who I'd discovered had won the Main Event at Tunica the previous month. But he rarely played any hands. And he didn't talk at all. He might as well have been from Romania. So I was getting nothing from him, aside from an occasional snicker at one of the collection of epically (not sure that's an official word-but you get it) awful-played hands. No...my only salvation for sanity resided in the seat to my left...in the form of the dealer. And it rarely mattered which dealer it was. A hand would be played...I (in seat 10) would turn slightly to my left...make eye contact with the dealer...and a smirk would cross his/her face...followed by a rolling of the eyes.
Mr 4-Seat...a true Fashionista in his 'too-small-sweatshirt-too-long-Tshirt' look, that is sure to make a smash hit this spring! At least in STL. The only thing funnier was his hairline...which I spent most of my first buy in debating with myself: real hair? Bad toupee? Never reached a conclusion
Mr. 6-Seat. AKA: Sexist Pig. AKA: Show Bluff to make himself feel better about his male inadequacy.
Say this for dealers: I don't know how they do  it. I can't see myself lasting more than a few days if anyone was ever stupid enough to hire me to deal. I am just too outspoken, and too much of a smartass. I wouldn't be able to help myself. Not to mention some of the bullshit they put up with. And I'm not excluding myself. I've had those days...where a succession of one beat after another turns me into a raging dickhead...leaving my cards and/or antes or something short of the desired placement area. But I think for the most part, I treat them with a fair amount of respect, and appreciate the service they provide to us players...and just marvel at some of their abilities to deal with the aforementioned BS. The dealers in STL and floor staff, were top-notch.

(I stopped writing to get ready to go New Orleans...for the comedy show...then left...got about 25 minutes  into the drive...and got a heads-up from someone that the show had been cancelled. Awesome. It's now Friday. Will try to finish....but Squirrel has split for Pensacola for the day/night to visit her best friend, and I have sole possession of Carley...who can be a major handful!)


The Table From Hell:  The Play-by-Play!

The Main Event was still being played...so playing in any event while that is still going on just a few tables away is always depressing. I'd already busted that. And I also busted, as discussed...that day's ring event. So I was relegated to that day's 3pm tourney...which, contrary to the way they played..was a $250 buy in...with rebuy/re-entry available. Yes..it played like the buy in was $25 with $100 bounties. Not so much. I busted out of the nooner...so in very unfamiliar fashion, I was the first one arriving to my table.

The table fills. The game begins. I don't even know how...but the guy next to me (3-seat) busted in the first five minutes. He was replaced by a nice guy who was a former Israeli soldier..so we talked about the Arab/Jewish conflict for awhile. While we  were chatting the guy in Seat 4...with the hair I couldn't stop looking at...trying to figure out if it was the worst haircut ever...with an incredibly bizarre hairline...or just a silly ass toupe. Oh! Sorry...yeah, he announces to me "Hey...remember me? I'm the one who busted your kings the other days with QQ to cripple you when you bubbled!" Oh...gosh...no...I didn't actually remember that it was YOU...but how nice of you to give me someone to target, you schmo! Well, he then finds I'd be interested to know that he just 'busted exactly the same way in the Main Event' and wanted me to know how tilty he was feeling. Hey...that's great. Guess what? I don't fucking care! (there are no (") there because I didn't actually say that. I think there is this misconception when I blog that everything I print is interpreted as me having said. If it was said, you will see (") if not...I was only thinking it. And I think a LOT of nasty shit!)

In ironic fashion...I'm talking to the nitwit to my right (seat 1) who had already demonstrated his prowess by calling early position raises with 10-6 off and 3-9 suited. We were discussing how to play AK...and I'm saying that its not a hand I really like to 3-bet with early...only late. Just then I look down at JJ. I raise (at 50/100) to 250. The Israeli guy makes it 650. Ugh. He'd already been very, very active early...so I was not going to just fold to him. Bad Hair/Long T-shirt/Short Hoodie guy calls the 650. So I complete. The flop comes Queen high. Shit. I check. Seat 3 bets 1500. Hair calls. I fold. Turn 6. Bets 2200. Hair calls again. River deuce. Bets 2500. Hair calls again. Isreali guy has AK...and hair has? JJ. Fuck me. Note to self. Don't try to bluff Bad Hair. (later note to myself...don't try to bluff ANYONE at the table)

The guy in Seat 3 wouldn't last much longer. He was replaced in the 3-seat by a fellow long time circuit grinder...but not until I'd busted from seat 2...and got re-seated in seat 10. That fellow grinder and I would exchange looks from afar, looks that cried out..."Am I really witnessing this shit?!!" I think it might have been Bob Chow.

My first bust out came after I'd basically just gotten flustered after having folded what I thought was the best hand twice already...and when I flopped a pair with a straight draw...then turned two pair...I check raised the guy big...and he just puts me all in. I couldn't make it make sense....and the guy in the 4-seat had already shown two hands (and many more later- even later I didn't hate my call) that made no sense...I called...to find I'd ran into top two. Shit. Whatever. I felt almost good busting...thinking I'd get a new table. Nope. Sorry Monkey. Same table. Different seat. And now, directly across from the idiot I'd already deemed the 'Face of St. Louis Poker'  in Seat 7...who bore some freakishly bizarre resemblance to a bloated Mike Matusow...and he came with the prerequisite (for any STL grinder) St Louis schwag (either a STL hat, or some form of camouflage) in the form of a Cardinals hat, and plastic pullover.

This guy was un-fucking-believably bad at poker. Here was his deal. Bet big...always bet big! Ignore the pot! Dare them to call! And...and this is the best...if you have the nuts...we'll call it, say, on the river, and you have four people in the pot calling bets on all streets...whatever you do...do NOT price them into a river call with a bet you think at least ONE of them might call! With a board (unsuited) of 10-5-Q-2-3....this guy goes ALL IN...for like 11k...with a pot of about 5500....holding pocket tens! And after everyone folds? He SHOWS his hand! Buhhhhh-RILLIANT!!! 

Now some might argue that he was doing this to set some kind of trap later on. Ha! Kids...don't be silly! This guy wasn't capable of thinking forward to his next breath of air, let alone anything he might have had planned strategically in the poker tournament! But good thinking, I feel ya!

It's been almost two weeks since I got home from that place...so it's getting hazy...some of the hands...but I'm trying. A lady joined our table a while later...her name is Michelle Royster...and lives (I think) in Houston. Her Aunt is Joan Rhoades...who a lot of you might recognize. She used to back Maurice Hawkins (who you ALL know) for a while. Well...she has played mostly cash  game in her fledgling poker career...and just started playing tourneys. She was in the 8-seat.  We had a nice chat. She was very nice. And her game was pretty similar to mine. Meaning...we weren't calling re-raises with hands like 2-8 and J-4. That would be the rest of our table. 

Michelle Royster (left) and Joan Rhoades
As the game went on, and we sat and watched quality hands like AA and KK get punished by garbage hands...and our own raises with good hands got murdered as well...hopelessness started to set in. After having finally won a decent pot, and gotten back to starting stack...I picked up 10-10 on the button with the blinds 100/200 and an ante. Three limped. On the button I make it 750. Not one of 'em folded. Not surprising. I get a pretty favorable flop of 10-6-9. The idiot in the 5-seat (gray shirt up above) checks the flop. As do the other three. I bet 900 into a pot of 3200. Folds to idiot. Idiot ships all in on me. Um...okay...pretty sure he's not doing that with 7-8...I call. He turns over 5-8 off suit. Mmmm..yes...makes sense. Nice hand sir. Well played. Great pre-flop call. Tells the dealer he 'guesses he needs a 7 or he has to go rebuy. The dealer promptly delivers him a seven on the turn...no suspense. It holds. I give Michelle a glance...she rolls her eyes. I look at the dealer...she also expresses disgust. Misery loves company. Right? I'm now short.

I fight back...while watching fuckbird, fucktard, and fuckstick all duel with each other...mainly the 1-seat, the 4, 5, 6 and 7 seat....all fucking morons. All playing pretty much the same way. Raise...or re-raise...WAY too much....still get called, then hope they hit the flop...and if they don't...generally check it all the way to the river (great poker!) or have one of them jam their whole stack in there and pray no one calls. They just sat there trading stacks back and forth. The players who actually had some skill...just decided to play the game in sniper mode...hoping/praying for a big hand in early position...limping with it, and HOPING someone raises...so they can shove...KNOWING they'll get at least ONE call...then just hoping no one sucks out.

Michelle finally picks up AA. Guy limps for 300....he gets one, two three calls....from all three of the usual Stooges in the usual seats....it comes to her...she glances at me...I know immediately she has waken (woken?) up with AA or KK...and she is contemplating what kind of raise to make. Because in typical spots, you don't want to price anyone ...or rather, EVERYONE...out with those two hands. But you also don't really want to play it 5 or 6-handed either. Especially against these dipshits..because they can literally be playing ANYTHING. She settles on 1400. Good raise? I would think so...at least with this table. Typically, I think I make it 950 there...especially if I'm garnering a tight image. Which she was. But under the circumstances, her raise made sense. We all folded back around to the original limper...Mr. Bad Hair. Also calling was Perma-Tinted-Reflective-Glasses-Guy. Then Grey Shirt/Black Shades, Corvette-driving-short dick (more on that soon) Guy also calls...as does The Face of St Louis Poker....Matu-rodent. She groans. I groan FOR her.

The flop comes a very pesky 5-6-7...with two diamonds. I look at her...I can read her mind. "Great...just fucking great!" They all check to her. She doesn't shit the bed and shove all in...credit to her. She makes a rather innocuous bet of about 1500. She might as well have just bent down and lit the fuse to a stick of dynamite. BOOM! ALL IN!!!! From Seat 3 (hair) ALL IN! From seat 4 (Reflecto) ALL IN!!! (Pecker-Vette)....Man-Rodent folds. She tanks. I ask her if she has AA...."Of course I do!" Yeah...thought so. She correctly folds. Oh and...just so we know where things had devolved to at this table...any kind of respect to rules had long since flown out the window. So 'talking in and about the hand' was not even scratching the surface of anything that would have gotten the dealer worked up.

The hands:  3-4 off suit. (bad straight)  8-9 (good straight) and A-8 (open ended and that's it-for his whole stack) The 8-9 holds...and Reflecto rakes the biggest pot to date.

A little while later...Ratboy gets into a hand with 77...Michelle got in there with 6-8 suited. The flop comes 7-9-x....eventually it all gets in on the turn. Douchenozzle quickly turns over his set with pride...as it was about the first time in many orbits that he was ahead in a hand. She calmly turns over her hand...says nothing...then rivers a straight. He freaks out...Seat 6 mutters something to him...and as he gets up to leave the table, he turns and tells us all to go fuck ourselves! Heyyyy yo!!!!! Good times sir! Good times!

Well, I guess we would get the last laugh...because he went and rebought...again...and guess which table..and SEAT he would return to! Bingo! We got his ass again! 

Now he locks horns with his nemesis in the 6-seat again. Gray shirt raises with 2-7. Mr STL re-raises with K10. Seat 6 calls (obviously) The flop? Not sure exactly...but there was a deuce...and no king or ten. That didn't slow them down. Betting would ensue...on the flop...the turn (still no king or ten or anything helping either player!) and finally...on the river...gray shirt makes a huge bet....dipshit with K10 goes ALL IN...and dude with 2-7 CALLS...with bottom pair! And it's good! Mr. STL Poker goes and rebuys...AGAIN....third time. 

It was a shit show of epic proportions. Oh...there were so, so, so many hands like this...not just in this tourney, but all throughout the week. Now let me take just a moment to reflect on this kind of illogical poker.

I consider myself kind of a poker purist. I play the game as I think the inventors of the game intended for it to be played. Now...don't get me wrong. I DO,  however, agree that there are times...when it calls for a range to be opened up...and those times? Usually when you are shorthanded...like 4 or less, and certainly heads up. Or on the bubble against a lot of shorter stacks. I get it...there ARE times. When you can't just play A-B-C poker and think you are going to win a tourney. So for all you 2-2'ers, and OFP-players...pot-smoking, backpack carrying, RunGood members...who are bashing me for 'not knowing how to open up my game' you can cool your jets. Trust me, I get it. A lot of you STILL think I play like a 'nit' (your word not mine) since when I started playing tourneys in 2004...they started you out with 1500 starting stacks and you pretty much HAD to play tight or you ran out of chips VERY quickly. Yeah...despite the popular sentiment, I play a lot looser than most of the seasoned veterans think I do...but shhhh don't tell anyone, I rely heavily at times on my squeaky tight table image!

Here is my argument, that I think is pretty sound. You start with 10k in chips in this particular tourney. And yeah, its a black chip bounty tourney ($100 for everyone you whack). So I get it, that sometimes factors in...but for your whole fucking stack? Shouldn't happen-ever! Should you manage to play like a complete kamikaze early...and collect two or three bounties (which means you are now 'freerolling') while building up a stack of 3 or 4x the starting stack...and in a tourney with less than 100 players...wouldn't it make more sense to defend your position, and keep yourself in a good spot with a shit ton of big blinds? TO ensure a deep run? All while maintaining that ever-important +/EV? My favorite I think...is the guy who plays like a complete retard in a $250 Mega satellite that offers rebuys...while trying to win a seat with a $1600 value attached. Um...how many times do you rebuy before common sense pisses in your mouth and makes you realize just what a stupid fuck you are? I'm convinced some NEVER figure it out. Those are the guys who used to get to school in 14-foot yellow transportation vans.

This is why I come away from St Louis thinking they are without a doubt, the worst...and STUPIDEST players...I've ever experienced of all the venues I've ever played. And I've played a LOT of places! Because...while I can appreciate the ram and jam...stick and move...bluff and shove shenanigans that can often take place at a poker table...never have I seen it in a way that made little to no sense more-so, and on a consistent basis, than in St. Louis.

Another fun hand...and evidence of that which I'm addressing. Blinds are 50/100. Bunch of limpers. I have 6d8d. The flop comes 7-8-9...with a diamond. Seat 7 (doofus Mr. STL) bets 400. I call. Turn is a six. I'm now losing to any 10. But I do have two pair. He bets 400 again. Seems like a weak bet...maybe he has something like K9. I decide to raise...to 950...kind of a good way to sell  the straight myself...or just find out what he's up to. What does he do? He raises it to EIGHT THOUSAND!!!!! Um....okay. I fold. Wow. Wanna try to guess what he had? Oh..me too! No idea. Never saw it. OH wait...I forgot...when I looked at his bet...and said "Whoa! EIGHT THOUSAND!??" he says...."give me $20 and I'll show you my hand!" Um...why would I give you $20 to see your hand? You either just misplayed the nuts...again!...or made a bluff that is stupid because you could have gotten more out of me! That tilted him I think. 

He pretty much spent his whole time at our table being tilted. I wish I could remember all of the horrible ways in which he played hands...but like I say, two weeks have gone by, and mercifully, I've forgotten most of it. But this guy....wow...just brutal.

One thing I remember...while engaged in a conversation with Michelle...was attempting to impress her with his poker resume by telling her he'd played in 'millions of poker tourneys.' That brought the 6-seat (gray shirt) into the conversation. Him and Michelle chatted amiably for awhile...discussing mutual people they may or may not have known...and her giving him her name. Well, unbeknownst to her...he took a moment to try to look her up on Hendon Mob, and check out her stats. Later in the action...he (for whatever reason) decides to tell her he looked her up and announced to the table that she 'didn't have any stats at all!' 

ME: "Wow! Dude just called you out for not having any stats! What a guy!!!"

Her comeback was fair. "Well, that makes sense, since this is only about the 3rd tournament I've ever played. I've just been playing cash game for the last few years. I never had any interest in tournaments." She kept it friendly though...I guess because she had a little class. 

So about two orbits later...they get into a hand. He limps in for 300. She gets what was probably AK...and raises to 950. I think they went to the flop heads up....and when the flop came 9-high...he decides to lead out on her. Like 1400 I think. She hesitatingly calls. I don't remember the turn...but he checks...she bets big...and he raises enough to put her all in. She just shakes her head...and folds. 

This guy was in his mid-50's I'd guess. With the security of a 15-year old. After she mucks...he proudly announces..."Okay, I'll show you just this ONE time....." and he turns over 2-8 off suit. No...he didn't have any of that on the board. She looks at me.

ME: "Hey! He's gonna show you...just this ONE time...because you know...you guys have this blossoming friendship and all...and he just felt you would appreciate it!"

MICHELLE: "Right!?? He's taking, and watering the seeds that will make our friendship grow...and last a lifetime!"

Her and I went back and forth like that for a few seconds...adding more to it...and letting it get funnier...to us anyway. He then tells her "I just wanted to see if I could bluff you, so I could try to feel superior to you just one time." Huh? Yeah...see...what I always try to do, is bluff the tightest player at the table with 2-8...and put a dent in the stack I luckily inherited by sucking out twice before...when there is really NO reason to...other than wanting to humiliate the only woman at the table by bluffing her. All I could think about was....WHAT A FUCKING DOUCEBAG! There is no doubt in my mind that this guy drove some kind of sports car from the 80s or 90's and had a dick NO BIGGER than 4 inches. I also think he probably still has the posters of all his childhood heroes on the walls of his bedroom. In fact...he probably lives with his mom...as I didn't see a wedding ring on his finger.

Michelle would bust from this table...when once again...a limp fest was in process...5 of them...for 400 a pop...and she looked down at 66 in the big blind and 5600 in her stack. Tough to fault her for moving all in. But unfortunately, Mr. Bad Fashion/Bad Hair had limped in with AA...and it held. A little while later...with 3 limpers behind me, I decide to shove with KJ suited for about 5500...really kind of just wanting everyone to fold. No such luck. The dork (who reminded me of the office manager in Ghostbusters) in the 1-seat snap calls with pocket fours! Everyone else folds. Flop comes K-J-4. Lovely...and I don't improve. Ball game. I exited gracefully...despite my burning desire to remove two live grenades from my satchel..and roll one under each end of the table...hollering 'fire in the hole' and bolting from the casino!!!!

In conclusion: I would go and sit alone eating sushi and Michelle would happen along a while later. She sat and we discussed that table for awhile, and poker in STL in general. We both pretty much shared the same sentiments about everything we'd witnessed. And I expressed to her that there was/is nothing that could EVER get me to come back to play in that place. There just isn't a reason. I mean...to play tourneys there you basically are playing roulette. And I don't like or play roulette. Sit and wait for a good hand, then hope it holds up? Pffft. No thanks. It's stupid. Sure...if you play cash game...I suppose with a certain amount of patience, and the right table draw...there is money to be made there. But I think you have a better chance of ending up in an insane asylum in STL before you ever end up being a 'successful' poker player. Its not worth the gamble. 

Sadly, nothing changed in the 6 years I hid from STL. And as a lot of you know...those bounties I would place on players while in Vegas...who were sporting ANYTHING with STL on it? It was for a damn good reason. Because I didn't want THEM...or their shitty-ass style of play...fucking up my table. And when a 'Louie' shows up at your table? It almost always turns to shit. And for those of you who somehow, for some dumb reason LIKE a table that has been 'Louified?' Hey! It's all yours buddy! Move to St. Louis! But for the rest of you? With a brain? Get about $20-$100 ready for one of these goons sit at your table...and be ready to bounty their ass. Trust me, you'll thank me later. And no need to send me a tip...consider it my free gift to the poker world.

By now this post has grown VERY long. Whatever. I'm just glad I've finally finished it...because I need to get to other things...in another post. Like next week's WPT event at the IP in Biloxi. I think it's like a satellite event or something. There aren't any guarantees or anything so I have no idea what to expect. But its HERE in Biloxi...which means I can play some poker without having to leave Carley, and listen to her cry every night on Facetime because Daddy isn't home to sleep next to her. I hate that. Plus I tend to run pretty damn good at the IP.

So...there ya go! Hope this blog post was at least partially what you were hoping it would be...and if not? Well...sue me!


Friday, March 6, 2015

Some Going-Away Jabs for St. Louis PART 1

I'm home. Unpacked. Caught up on sleep. (sort of) And ready to share my mental anguish that was the last 6 days in St. Louis. Making it harder to share was the final 18 hours..which were actually pleasant. Dang St. Louis, just when I was in full-on nuclear mode and ready to unleash the hounds!

My flight to St. Louis was perfect and without incident. And the day of my flight home...everything was also going perfect, which was almost ominous. Then sure enough...as my plane was literally lifting off from Lambert Field...I check my email and find 'Your flight from Charlotte to Gulfport has been canceled.' Hells bells. And so began the day from hell. I won't share every gory detail other than to say I navigated the horror better than most by doing the opposite of everyone else, staying calm, and speaking in a pleasant voice to the agents. It seemed (for once) to be the winning formula, one that kept me from waiting in a line that 140 (I counted, because that's what us people with OCD do!) tortured souls were standing in after flights were being canceled all over the board. I found a sympathetic gate agent to help me when all I did was ask what would happen to my luggage if I decided to forgo the line and just book a ticket online.

"Why would you buy a ticket if you don't have to? That's crazy. Let me see your boarding pass from your canceled flight?" Next thing I know I had a confirmed seat three hours later, albeit to New Orleans...but hey! I wasn't sleeping in Charlotte! And I got lucky, as 'The Claw' was driving home from Jackson, MS that night. She made a detour and picked me up at NOLA International..and I was home and in bed with my girls by 2am! Without my luggage of course...got that the next day around 6pm. No big deal. Say this...for all four legs of my trips to and from I had exit rows...and surprisingly friendly flight attendants, so it wasn't a total disaster.


After a horrendous experience (that I'll discuss later here) in the 3pm Bounty tourney (after a ridiculous beat in the noon tourney that day) I sauntered off to my room. Along the way I was reminded of a good amount of comp dollars that I'd built up on my players card while there that needed to get burned through, so I sat and made them all vanish, enjoying some sushi at The Wok in the lobby of the casino. I was planning on playing the 7pm tourney...and trying to run my streak to five final tables (with a 1st, 3rd, 3rd and 8th) in nightly's while in St Louis. But I got to my room...was met by BJ McBrayer, who'd just experienced yet another idiotic beat of his own...and the more we sat and talked about the week, and that day, the more it just seemed like a good idea to let sleeping dogs lie...if that cliche applies. I changed into my bedtime clothes and called it a night. We sat through a 3-hour marathon of Family Feud...and then all of a sudden BJ got hungry, and was wanting to go to a place 3 blocks away that I'd heard a lot about but failed to get out to see....Joey B's.

The view from our more-than-spacious room at Lumiere Place in STL

I guess I didn't realize it had become a dealer hangout...because when we walked in it was about all I saw. It turned out to be a really nice evening..and I  discovered what everyone was raving about...telling me I simply HAD to experience 'toasted ravioli' while in St Louis. Well I did...and also enjoyed the best pulled pork sandwich I'd ever laid my teeth in to. In fact, they were SO good...that before my shuttle arrived to take me to the airport the next day, I schlepped on over there to get the same thing to go...and ate it on my way to the airport. The bartenders were great, and friendly...and I had a really nice time talking to dealers and some players before calling it a night. In addition to that...on the walk over with Chris Conrad and BJ...we got a little side-tracked, and got to see a really cool part of St. Louis...where the streets were made of brick...or maybe they call it cobblestone? There was still a ton of snow on the ground from the day before, making it a really neat, almost movie-like setting. Some people hate the cold and snow...I love it, and think it has a very nostalgic, almost romantic feel to it.

A late night journey with my roomie BJ McBrayer from some grub at Joey B's
So I said my goodbyes and headed back over to the casino. Like a moth attracted to the light...I decided I needed some kind of 'fix' before heading home. Would it be the blackjack table...where I'd had unprecedented success on this trip? Or might I find a poker table that drew me in? I walk in to the poker room and find it dead as a doornail. Three tables. One of the floor guys informed me this a 'typical Sunday night when the WSOP isn't here.' Yeah I'd heard the place was pretty dead most of the time. Two tables were full...a 1/3 and a 2/5. So those were out. Then I see a 1/2/5 PLO game with 3 players. Hmmmm.....why not!??

I buy the table max ($1000) and take a seat. As I'm sitting the old guy in the 10-seat is racking up. So it remains 3-handed. I would play TWO hands at this table...and stay for 5 minutes. On hand #1...it's raised to pot...and since I have junk, I ditch my hand. They are heads up. The flop comes 6h-7h-8h. One guy has a set of 7's. The other guy has 4h-5h. I think you see where this one is headed! Especially when the turn is a 7, giving the guy quads! Which still doesn't beat a straight flush. Oh...and NO! They didn't have a badbeat jackpot at this place for Omaha. Great. The hand left the very large man to my right...with the quad 7's, in a very sour mood. So it wasn't a surprise when on the next hand he potted it preflop. I had 4-5-K-J double suited so decided to take a look for $40.

I flop the nuts...3-6-7...which is nice, but which most of us know rarely ever holds up in Omaha. There were also two rather precarious clubs out there...of which I had none. The big guy pots immediately. I just call..preferring to see the turn card before doing anything I can't get myself out of. The third player (still stacking his chips!) folds. The turn is harmless (not a club) and when Gigantasaurus Rex pots again, I re-potted it...only to have him put me all in, while saying "If I can't win this hand, I'm quitting poker!" Yeah he had AA67 with two clubs. So he had, indeed, a lot of outs. And if St. Louis was going to be it's typical self, he would hit one of them on the river. But shockingly, he didn't. I couldn't believe it. And after he claimed to be "out of here" after that hand...I did the same, not about to sit and play heads up. So for those scoring at home...that's a $1000 profit in 5 minutes, or $200 per minute. Not bad. Thank you and good night, St. Louis!!!!


I know I know...there is a large contingency of you out there who are dying to see the rip job I'm about to lay on certain players. It's coming. But first, here's a real head scratcher. Can someone...anyone...tell me how SO many GOOD players made it deep in the Main Event....but not ONE of them managed to make the final table? Nothing but locals. It defies poker logic. And just gives anyone who prides themselves as a 'good poker player' more reasons to stay as far away from the St. Louis poker area. You almost have to come away from it thinking there is some form of witch craft at work for such an anomaly to occur.

I'm not sure how I managed to fade so many of these fools the first four days I was in St. Louis. It boggles my mind. Because with each payout...or each winning cash session...I knew in the pit of my stomach that disaster (and normalcy for that place) had to be looming just around the corner in whatever I chose to participate in next.

There is this 'thing' about poker that serves as a bit of a security blanket. You pick your friends very carefully when you choose the poker lifestyle. For me? I like to surround myself with those who don't like to gather in strange  places and play Open Face Poker at all hours. Or talk about poker until they are blue in the face. Or roll around with backpacks in the same change of clothes for days on end, while smelling like the ounce of pot they've been smoking all week. I also like to associate with people who basically share my philosophy of how poker is played. Now sure, I get that there are times in every game where we might play a hand slightly different. And that's to be expected. But I don't want to hear about how 'he ripped 45 big blinds with 10-4 off suit in an attempted 5-bet re-re-re-steal, and got caught by the original raiser with KK calling, but sucking out with two pair.' Not only am I sick of hearing the expression 'ripped' which for those of you not 'in the know' is another, hipper (apparently) way of saying 'moved all in.' But I'm even more sick of hearing and seeing the ways in which poker is under attack by those who have made the decision to bastardize what once was a grand game, played by those who play a very patient, plodding, strategic brand of poker.

Nope, these guys are the equivalent of tightrope walkers...who see poker as a place they can go to test the limits, to seek out their 'rush' against those mortals who are playing the game as prescribed by the innovators of the game. Because anyone with the ability to use the millions of hands they've played in the last 10 years can tell you, whenever ALL FIVE CARDS come out on that board...anything can happen. And it almost always seems that the 'anything' I speak of is an epic disaster.

And nowhere on the Planet Poker is this more on display than in the area code of 314 and its surrounding area. Now, as most of you know...I am not one to sit here in my blog and document individual hand play. Why? Because it's boring. Unless you are a big fan of Jonathan Little and his style of writing, in which case...I'm not for you, and I don't even know what the hell you are doing over here.


The Lead Up to Sunday's Final Shit Storm

There is no doubt that my ultimate punch in the face, kick in the groin, and taser to the face came in Sunday's final event...the $250 Black Bounty Chip event...in which the participants primarily played as though they'd been given $1000 each by some stranger in the parking lot and told in a very stern voice to NOT COME BACK with any of this $1000 remaining in your pocket! That or they all had a money tree in their back yard...which, as a poker player...you have to admit, would be awesome!

In reading over my notes...I just can't see how any individual hand is going to shock and amaze. Its like the way any good joke or story goes, where the person telling it, noticing that the crowd isn't as blown away as they'd hoped or expected them to be is left delivering that famous disclaimer "I guess you had to be there."

One hand to start off this parade of pain:

Blinds at 100/200. Guy limps with K10off. Fair enough. Another overly aggressive, late-position raiser, makes it 550. I'm in the big blind with Qc10c and call. This guy calls also. The flop comes Kc-Jh-5c. Pretty damn good flop for me...and as I usually do in spots like this, I check with the intent to raise. K-10 guy bets 1500. The original raiser calls...with who-knows-what? And since I had just 6200 in my stack...it seems the correct play is to push all in with my 17 outs. I do. K10 guy doesn't even hesitate to call. And not shockingly he holds. Busto. (oh and no! He did not have a big stack...he only had me covered by about 800)

Here I was in the event after busting out of the main. I get priced in to a raise of 900 at 150/300 in the BB with 5c7c and 5 callers. I was sitting with about 14k in my stack. The flop comes K-6-8 with two clubs. Another pretty damn good flop. It checks to the raiser who makes it 2300. The old guy who for years I've been calling George Seiffert, (for you youngsters, Seiffert was the one time coach of the 49'ers) and who I know plays crazy hands in weird positions, makes it 5000...and now I know my hopes to play this hand without being all in just became a pipe dream. And there is no way I am ever folding this hand, especially in a $365 event. Ever. I shove all in for my 14k. The original raiser was gone in a heartbeat. And Seiffert moans...then calls and tells me I'm way ahead but hopes he can 'shit out' on me. Well...shit out he did. Turns out...I didn't even need to hit. He was sitting there with 2c3c. The only outs he had were a two and a three...and hope that I not hit one of 17 outs. Both of those things happened, him pulling a 3 on the river...to eliminate me. 

This will conclude PART 1 of this Blog...for two reasons, (a) my blogs tend to get a little long and I don't want to lose ya and (b) I need to drive to the Pensacola tag office to finally get my tag/title  for my new car that I've had now for over two months.