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Friday, May 29, 2015

Annual Dreamers Flock to the Desert

If I was sadistic (okay, if I was REALLY sadistic) I would say this is my favorite week in poker, out of the entire year. I just wonder, scratching my chin, how many of you already know where this is headed!!!???

I decided last night while texting back and forth to my good buddy Kai Landry, that I had to post a blog about this subject. And I was going to do it last night...but dammit if Squirrel didn't slip me the melatonin long before I was ready to call it a night. After all, I had just won a 50/50 sit n go on Bovada good for $60, then smashed a guy heads up in an Omaha 8-b match for another $60...that is the one THING on Bovada I have been murdering lately, heads up Omaha-8 PLO matches. I think I'm something like 14-2 this week. And last, in my 3rd contest, a little $10 single table SNG...I was heads up...and close to even...I raise this guy, get re-raised...and shove on him with AQs...and he calls...with 46h. Are you similar to me? When you see that matchup...especially online...don't you just KNOW you're going to lose? I do. And I did. 2nd place. $27. Whatever. Then I passed out.

With Game 7 coming up in a few hours between my Rangers and the Lightning...it occurs to me that if I don't post this now...and the Rangers happen to lose, I will do my post-Super Bowl disappearing act, where I go into a social coma for about a week or two. So lets get this done! [Spoiler Alert...we lost, we fucking lost...2-0...shutout by the guy who gave up 7 goals in Game 6. Let the mourning period begin!]

So...what is it about this week in poker that I love, you ask? You know I'm about to tell you. It didn't used to be like this. When I started playing poker...and making my annual pilgrimage to Vegas for the yearly pursuit of riches, they didn't have Facebook. They had MySpace I think...but no one really used it, at least not in my circle of society. Twitter was something your heart did when your plane hit some turbulence. And the ability to shoot video on your phone was an emerging technology. Nope...the actual interaction with fellow poker players didn't really begin until you arrived in the hallowed halls of the Rio.

Those first couple weeks, everyone was very excited; it was common to see smiles on the faces of players as they walked through the corridors. The pockets of players had that familiar 'bulge' in the left front pocket (no! They weren't just happy to see me!)...as they toted around their 'summer poker roll.' 

Then the games began. And when you have THAT many people playing THAT  much poker, what inevitably happens is that ALL that money ends up going to a small percentage of people. And probably half of those people end up losing that money...maybe to poker, maybe to the casino itself, maybe to other vices like strippers, drugs or club life. The smiles in the hallways turn to long faces, even frowns. The murmurs about bad beats echo in every room of the place. There really is no place to escape them. Not the cafeteria, not the bathroom, and certainly not the poker table itself. 

Every player seemed to think their would actually be a welcoming ear to hear about them going out three from the money when their AK lost to two fours. No buddy...sorry...no one cares. Wait. Did I have 60% of your action? No? Okay...just checking. Yeah...don't care.

And this was how it went...for about 4 or 5 years. Then, along came Facebook, and soon after that, Twitter...which I was (admittedly) late to the party in joining,  and still am not a prolific Tweeter.

Now what we see...every year...in the final week of May...and the first week of June....is the same thing. It's awesome, hilarious, and comical. And then...when you think you've weathered it...it flairs up again in the first week of July...when those unable to spend the whole summer in Vegas arrive to play the Main Event....all of them thinking it is THEIR year to win it. Then you spend the entire week perusing through the posts...most of them consolation speeches, to those remaining, as they have 'gracefully bowed out' of the competition. 

There are a few different 'kind' of people who travel the globe to come to Sin City to chase the riches that poker has to offer at the WSOP...as well as all the other 'junior circuit' events scattered all over Las Vegas each summer. At the top of my hit list, are the Euros. They seem to come with bankrolls they've been saving up all year. Might as well just call it the bottomless bankroll...because nothing about how they play would ever suggest that there is an end to their ability to rebuy. When I sit down at a table, and see a guy (or two or three) with that fucking scarf wrapped around their neck and/or face....I get nervous and irritated. And just really annoyed. 



Or a guy with that ONE sweatband on his arm. That guy is usually from somewhere like Germany...or even South America (think Colombia or Argentina). And frankly, South Americans are almost as bad. I just always assume they all come from Cocaine Cartels and never run out of money either.

In fairness, this guy probably NEEDS the sweatband!
Then you get some of your Americans. The ones who are new to the experience are incredibly easy to pick out, and my favorite. They are the ones walking around looking for 'big name' poker players who they can photograph, or get autographs for 'their mom who is a big fan of theirs.' These guys always make me laugh too. Why? Well, mainly because these 'idols' of theirs...are usually so deep into makeup that they'd happily change places with that guy asking for their autograph. Additionally, it always makes me cringe when I'm at the table with a guy like Greg Raymer and some clown says..."Wow, if I have to give my chips to anyone, I hope its you Greg! I'm a huge fan!" Yo...dickwad, why are you even here? I mean, if you didn't come to win, just give me your fucking chips, fanboy!

Sorry, but poker is not this glamorous profession a lot of people think it is. It's kind of the dirty little secret about poker. When they say 'Variance is a Bitch' they aren't kidding!

Ah, but I digress. Back to what makes this week so fun. Because its the experience I used to get by actually GOING to Rio every day ...all wrapped up and neatly packaged for me, for me to sit on my couch in Biloxi, Mississippi some 1745 miles from the front door of Rio, and witness it all from the comfort of my home. All I have to do is open up Facebook, and start scrolling and reading. It's beautiful.

The hope. The optimism. The threats to go west and start crushing souls. The promises to emerge with multiple bracelets. It's all spelled out there for everyone to read. Hey, I'm not saying that positive thinking is a bad thing. Clearly its not. But guys like Tony Robbins have worn me the fuck out. I consider myself a realist. I know that poker is a kick in the balls that rears its nasty, crack-whore ugly self constantly...especially when you are playing anywhere from 1 to 5 tournaments a day for 7 weeks! 

The absolute best case scenario for a happy summer in Las Vegas, is to go out there, with about 10-15k in your pocket, which is actually considered a pretty paltry bankroll if your going for 7 weeks(run-on sentence). But hey! You're a grinder! And you have a plan, right!?? So in one of your first contests (or 'birds' as the poker-term slinging idiots refer to them), we'll call it the 2pm $230 (or whatever the juice is these days) Deepstack at Rio...with a gazillion players...and you WIN! Or hell...get 2nd or 3rd even. 

Next thing you know...you're cruising around with a $50k bankroll! Hell! You were only planning on playing some daily's, a bunch of Sit N Go's..and maybe some of the $400/$600's at Venetian. And of course, that $500 Colossus thing that everyone that is allowed to play at Rio will be playing...and of course, their pets and dead family members. But now you have $50k in your pocket. You just opened yourself up to playing the $1k's and the $1500's too. Hell...you can run bad now for...well...most of the summer, and still go home with most of your money intact. 

You won't have to question yourself every time you lose. You won't have to feel like a loser every time you join your buddies (who are running like gods in cash game) at a strip club, or go clubbing without having to cringe when that gold-digging cocktail waitress tells you that the bottle of Grey Goose you are REQUIRED to buy as part of the deal in getting a table (which anyone over 30 HAS TO HAVE when clubbing in Las Vegas- for the sole necessity of needing a place to fucking sit down!) costs $450! Hey...no problem! Or, you're at the pool on your day off and suddenly that big score you made has instilled a confidence in you that will allow you to spin your magical speech on those two hotties who appear to be open game. [disclaimer, this ONLY applies to those poker players who AREN'T married, double to those who aren't married with kids!]


I'm telling you...making a score in week one??? That is the best thing that can happen to a poker player's life while grinding the summer schedule in Vegas. 

The worst? Well, I'm sure you can figure that out! Losing! And even worse...bubbling, or close to bubbling. Repeatedly.  Logging long hours...only to fall short of the money. Next thing you know, 3 or 4 buddies call you up asking if you are down with going to a club that night. "Um...gosh guys...I'm really tired, I don't think so, but have a good time." FUCK! Translation: You're pissed. You're depressed. You just burned another $1000 in buy in money. Played 10 hours. And got two-outed on the river. Last thing you feel like doing is getting 'worked' by a damn waitress, or 'played' by a couple out of town skanks who have nominated you to buy their drinks all night, then pull their standard disappearing act at crunch time.  [again, this only applies to the NON-MARRIED poker players] And this can go on for days...and weeks. 

Ohhh...Vegas can be the most dehumanizing experience you can ever imagine. Some even give up sooner than they planned. I've known and witnessed plenty of guys who came out riding their high horse...ready to conquer the world of poker, only to leave a couple weeks later. BUSTO!

Some of those guys...well, they were simply undisciplined. One thing I can always say with pride: I always made it through the entire summer. You have to have a plan, and you have to stick to it. Guys play a couple tourneys...and don't cash. Next thing you know, instead of playing $125 or $175 sit n gos...suddenly they are playing $500 sit n gos, trying to get it all back. And when that plan fails? Oh mother! 

Or you see them playing 2/5 cash game...knowing they aren't that type of player. The sharks who own the cash games....they come to Rio, and they set up camp for the summer. They don't even fuck with tournaments. They just feast on all the tilting tournament players. You can't argue with THEIR plan. And it's not a bad idea. I just don't personally have the patience (or desire) to sit and play cash game all summer, especially with tourneys going on all around me. I just love playing tourneys too much. Oh! And yeah...I'm still not allowed back in to play at Rio! 

Sometimes...it gets so bad, I can't even get on Facebook. I get so tired of all the whining. I also get so tired of all the new 'poker terms.' And as you may or may not know...if you're gonna be one of  the 'cool kids' in poker, you simply HAVE TO be up on and utilize, the new poker terms. And if you don't know what the fuck they are? Read Facebook and Twitter all summer...you'll figure it out. I am NOT one of those cool kids. In fact, anyone who uses those idiotic terms, I refuse to associate with. If I catch one of my true friends using those terms...I am quick to heap as much verbal shit on them as quickly as I can in an attempt to get them to shut it down!

Then you have your players who go west and run good. The ones who kill you with their posts about sitting on 'heaps' of chips...and 'bagging and tagging' x-amount of chips as 'we come back with the chip lead tomorrow.' Who the fuck is WE? Are you playing with a ventriloquist doll on your lap? Stop calling yourself WE! It's fucking stupid! Here is what I'd like to see a lot of this summer.  "I had a very satisfying day. I have made it to day two...and am about to place 145k chips in a plastic bag, seal it, leave, and go crush some cocktails with friends. Bye!" Is that really such a hard post to make?
WE ran so good all day! WE bagged up heaps! WE come back at 2pm tomorrow. YAY US!!!
And for fuck's sake...no one, I repeat, NO ONE...wants to hear you analyze people's play while the tourney is taking place. Talking about their polarizing ranges and who is leveling who. It's nauseating. Save that for your message boards on 2+2. Where you poker dorks like to break poker down and treat it like its actually a molecular science. Have fun with that. The rest of us will be out having real lives.

So...keep your eyes on the social media this week...and next, and the next four. And see if you notice what I'm talking about...and just how funny it can be. Or if you see a post of someone that is running like shit? Go to their wall...and start scrolling down...and try not to laugh...because its funny when you can just watch their confidence level plummet! All the way down to May 28th...where they talk about their drive to Vegas...and all the cheery, happy thoughts they are sharing with the whole Facebook world. Now look at you! You're huddled up in the corner in front of the fountain at Caesar's Palace...with a cardboard sign...asking people to help you get home!


My advice? And I won't lie...I've been employing this strategy for the past 4 or 5 years. Go to Vegas. Go quietly. Bring a healthy bankroll. Stay off Facebook as much as possible. Or if you HAVE to post, post about something, ANYTHING, other than poker. I have lots of suggestions for this, but don't feel like sharing...as I have to wrap this up and go pick up Carley from school in a minute. Post what and where you playing at the beginning of the day. If you bag chips, go ahead and let everyone know. Some out there, I get it...actually give a shit. Most don't. And another thing? For the guys and gals who are running like total ass? Your little 'sick brag' about how many chips your bagging? It's just an unintended dig at those who aren't. Keep that in mind. So, sometimes its almost nice to almost sound apologetic when informing the Facebook world of your ridiculous number of chips that you've just dropped in that ziploc bag.

More advice: And this is huge, trust me. I didn't do it for the first 3 years I did the 7-week grind in Vegas, and it really showed in my game, and my attitude. Take a day off, a total day....from poker. About every 3 or 4 days. Go to the pool. Go play golf. Go hiking out in the hills. Go rent a kick ass Ferrari for $250...take it out to Death Valley...and break the sound barrier (without any worry or concern about cops). Go sky diving. Go see the Grand Canyon on a helicopter tour. Go see a show, there are a ton of good ones. Go with some friends to Lake Mead (there IS still a lake there, right?) and rent a boat...and spend the day relaxing, drinking, water skiing, whatever. There is a LOT to do in Vegas away from the poker table. DO IT! Then come back with a clear mind. Refreshed. I spent three years trying to convince myself that this advice was bullshit...as it had been offered to me by many an experienced player. It wasn't. It's really really good advice.

I hope you enjoyed this post. I actually enjoyed writing it. If I help just ONE person this summer...it was worth it! Do I miss the 7-week Vegas summer grind? Mmmm...sort of, a little?? I think I am much happier working on putting together staking groups to send rock solid players to try to WIN US money though...while we get to sit at home, go to places like Destin and Orange Beach, play golf, spend time with my family...then just go out for a week or two. Of course, there was an excitement to being out there for 7 weeks. But now...with a three year old? And a wife who really needs my help with her? It just makes no sense to be gone that long. Couple that with simply not enjoying poker or the losers who play poker like I once did, and it makes staying home a pretty easy choice. 

I mean...seriously? HOW am I supposed to NOT sit down across from THIS and go on life tilt!???
On the subject of the 2015 WSOP MONKEY GRINDERS? We are really getting close to having FOUR players fully funded. As of today, I have sold 176 shares...which leaves us now just 24 short of 200, and four players. Also, I have (knock on wood) nearly finalized a kick ass design logo specifically for my hats and hoodies that the players are going to get. Just waiting on the proof, then I can get them made! Not sure why, but that has me really fired up too! And I think just being out there will really add to the experience. Anyone who has invested in the group will be invited to a big dinner before the Main Event starts with me and the players who will be playing for us. 

I am also very, very proud to make this announcement! And this is a SHOUT OUT (or, I guess...rather, a CALL OUT) to all you staked players who win money and then make your backers wait forEVER before you get them their money that they are owed! My guy, Mike Bratovich, drove home from Foxwoods...and the very NEXT DAY after getting home...made a deposit into my account for my share of our winnings! That...my friends in the poker world...is how you get people to stake you again in the future! Or other people...who find out (you're welcome Mike!) you are a straight shooter, to back you! Less douchebags in poker would be a good thing!

Okay...I'm off to get my sweet, crazy, loveable, temperamental, smart, funny apple of my eye...it's Friday!!!! Lets go see what she pulled out of the End of the Week Treasure  Box!!!

MONKEY

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