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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

It's June...and I'm Hot and Bothered!!!



The countdown clock is ticking. 23 days til Flight A of this year’s WSOP Main Event…and my 2015 TEAM MONKEY GRINDERS is now approaching 5 team members. That is where I will draw the line…this late in the game. As of today, I have sold (or had people commit to-pending payment) 239 shares…which leaves us just 11 shares ($200 per share) short of the required number of 250 to send 5 players. I think we can assume that we are going to make it to 250. I’ve already welcomed our 5th member to the team and given her the okay to purchase her airline ticket and book her hotel. I am proud to welcome Bridget Fredericks to our team of Grinders this summer. I’ve known this gal, as well as her mother Linda and her grandmother, for close to 10 years. They are all very solid players…with Bridget being exceptional. She has a ‘real job’ working in real estate, so she doesn’t get the chances to go out and play as often as a lot of your average ‘poker pro.’ So this is a great opportunity for her!

Payments are about 75% accounted for…which is great…especially considering I still have 20 days before I head for Vegas myself. I think the most pressure I am feeling is getting them t-shirts, hats and hoodies made. My frustration lies with the ‘artist’ who I’m dealing with who is doing the graphic design for our logo. It’s amazing how possessive they get over their artwork! If you are someone who still would like a piece of this summer’s gang of 5…shoot me an email at ThePokerMonkey1@aol.com. I’ve decided that I will oversell if necessary…to account for anyone that doesn’t pay before the Main event starts. If we end up, ultimately, with more collected, it will just be issued back in equal refunds to everyone…that or added to the total winnings (we hope!). It’s going to be a pretty exciting month of July….I can’t wait! 

Are you a poker player who is sick and tired of being uncomfortable at the poker table? There is nothing worse…especially considering we sometimes spend 10-12 hours at the table on any given day.  Those jeans that bunch up…that belt that cuts into stomach…those underwear that, well, let’s just say there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to protecting the ‘man package!’ And on top of it all, if you are in Vegas, that walk to the casino, whether it be from the parking lot, or from a casino a few blocks away…you are always facing that awful and inevitable ‘butt and nut’ sweat. We all hate it. Well, I’ve been fortunate to make a couple of discoveries this year that I am excited to pass along to my fellow players. And NO,  I have no financial interest in passing this info along…though I  ought to be. 

Now, I know most poker players, despite spending tons on their buy ins, are typically cheap in other areas. And when I tell you the cost of these two items, you’re going to look at me like I’ve lost my mind. To you…I say…GOOD, keep playing uncomfortable, I hope you go on life tilt by Level 6! There are TWO names you need to remember: SAXX and ROCK REVIVAL. 

You have likely heard of the second name, and might even own a pair of their jeans. But! Here is the secret you might not be aware of: Rock Revival recently went to using 2% Elastane (from the word 'elastic') in the making of their jeans. What this does, is keep the jeans from bunching up…and driving you crazy!! They are so comfortable its almost unbelievable! I have stocked up on them myself. On one side of my closet, I have 6 pair of ‘the old kind’ that will likely never be worn again…and on the other side, 7 pair of ‘the new kind.’ Yes! They ARE expensive! $145-$165 per pair. But that was ALSO the price on the old kind…so nice price increase despite a TOTAL quality increase!

The other item, SAXX underwear. They are designed with cooling material…and also have a separate chamber that has little fabric walls around it, for your sticks and berries. No more getting stuck to the inside of your leg, fellas! These things are DA SHIT! They come in all different sizes and colors and styles. For my money…and it’s quite a bit, I’m not going to lie…I like the Fiesta, because it offers the widest waist band. And unlike so many pricey boxers/underwear…the waistband does NOT bacon…or flip over where your waist becomes your, ahem…beer gut! Now if you are some punk kid with a six-pack? Fuck you, I hate you! Just kidding…I’m very envious. But for you…that waistband flipping over isn’t such a big deal as it is with most of us guys over 35! 

The guy who sold me my first pair 8 months ago…told me…”Just buy ONE pair today…and if you don’t love them, bring ‘em back. No questions asked!” Ha! Didn’t happen. I have since been buying them on second-party sites on the internet for about $24…compared to the $35 or so you will pay for them at the retail stores, or from their own website.  I’m now up to 14 pair. Which is perfect for those 2-week poker trips when you really don’t want to have to either go commando, or find a laundromat somewhere. I think the only thing worse than that is sending it out with housekeeping and paying like a fortune for just a few items to get cleaned.

Okay…that’s all for my helpful shopping hints this summer, in my efforts to give a little back to my fellow poker players! Hope you enjoy these tips!

So, last night I took my wife and 3-year old daughter Carley to the Fair. This is about her 3rd visit to the fair and they tend to all be exactly the same, for the most part. Same rides. Same stupid games. Same food booths. Same animals for the kids to look at, feed, and pet. And to a degree it’s about the same brand of people at these get togethers. 

Any time I go to the fair, I am reminded by the guy who owes me $475. Last year…it was $575. It’s amazing. I do football squares all during football season, pretty sure you’ve all played a squares board at some point in your life. It’s fun…and adds a little something to every game. Well, this guy….jeez, him and about 4 or 5 like him, kind of don’t care that I come out of pocket and pay everyone whether I get full payment or not. It’s pretty aggravating. I don’t understand how someone willingly participates in something that they later decide not to pay for. As for this guy…I guess after he finally paid off his first debt to me, I should have never let him play again, or at the very least demanded his payment BEFORE playing any more boards. But I guess I’m a sucker.

And what’s worse? The guy who keeps on telling you he’s going to pay you…but doesn’t? Or the guy who just completely stops communicating with you altogether? Leaving you to believe you just got screwed out of that money? So it’s fair (pun intended) to say that while walking around the fairgrounds last night, I was consciously looking around for my little carnie friend. Yeah, well…no dice. 

On one occasion, I made the mistake of engaging one of the carnies in a conversation. While Carley was riding the Bumble Bee with her mother…I asked the guy, who was sitting in a chair, his belly spilling out of his shirt that was unbuttoned at the bottom, and sweat covering his face: “Hey…I thought this ride rose up and down as it goes around?” Whoops. Big mistake, as his big ‘summer teeth grin’ (some are here, some are there) came out and decided to tell me this rambling story about why the Bumble Bee was ‘kinda not workin that right.’ Something involving a co-worker, a break that wasn’t supposed to be taken, followed by a bunch of carnie-talk that I couldn’t interpret. I finally just did what you do when you’re in a foreign country and don’t speak their language, but also don’t want to offend them. I just smiled and nodded my head a lot…while scooting further and further away from him along the viewing fence. I was never happier to see a ride come to an end.

My evening concluded with an experience that left me wanting to toss a flash bang (or concussion grenade to those who don’t know military weaponry) into the stupid trailer that was housing the two food carnies and their overpriced and unhealthy carnival food. I had just purchased $22 worth of food. Two corndogs, chips and disgusting melted cheese, and a lemonade. While taking my credit card, the lady tells me $21. Then she slides my card across her IPhone….using what I recognized to be the app called Square. I know, and use Square. They charge a fee. But this lady then tells me $22.69 or something like that…and tells me it’s for taxes. I tell her, “Um, your sign there says taxes are included…so how can you tell me you’re charging taxes on top of the total?” “Oh well then I guess it’s for credit cards we have to charge taxes.” To which I had to explain it to her…”No, that fee your charging is the fee that Square app charges YOU. You do not have to pass that charge along to the customer, you just have chosen to.” Oh, she says…and proceeds to tell me how tired she is, how she’s been working all day, and served probably 600 people.  Hey…cool story. Don’t like it, quit your job! Real simple.

So me, Squirrel, and little Squirrel eat our disgusting food. About 15 minutes into our feast, I notice all the ice in my lemonade was gone, and my drink was kind of warm. I make my way up to the counter and ask the overweight, mouth-breathing line cook if I can please have a little more ice in my drink. He takes my cup, then leans back (without falling over, somehow) and hollers to his co-worker (credit card lady) asking if they charge for ice!?? She replies by telling him, yes, they charge $1. He looks at me and tells me “Ice is $1.” I looked at him…and just glared, as I would if I were one of the Avengers and was trying to make him catch on fire. At that point…It became not about the money. Jeezuz, no…as much money as they grind out of you at these things…a dollar was the furthest thing out of my spending range. It was about principle now. I feel fairly confident that this guy was at least slightly nervous that he was about to get shot full of holes over a $1 cup of ice. I don’t really know why, exactly, that got me so steamed…but man, did it. It just really put a lousy taste in my mouth, and it wasn’t 100% due to the terrible corn dog we paid $7 apiece for.

Last month I invited my dad, as his Father’s Day gift, to come meet me in Vegas for a few days while I’m there in July. Well, he finally got back to me with an answer…and he will be coming to Vegas, for the very first time in his life, from July 2-6th. My dad and I haven’t really ever done a father/son trip or vacation together in my life…so it should be pretty cool. For those who find that hard to believe, well, my parents divorced when I was about 5…and she remarried a monster who was incredibly abusive, an alcoholic, and who kept me from being able to see my father. We lived in Montana during that reign of terror also, so there was also that barrier between us. 

When the step-dad gambled away his business, he moved us back out to Seattle, where we had moved from when I was 7. I was 14 now…and after a couple years, he left my mom. Which was the greatest day of my life! I reconciled with my dad, and when I turned 18 changed my name back to Souther, from Magnuson (the adopted name). Throughout high school and college, my dad and I hung out a lot…but never for very long. Then I moved to NYC in  1989…lived there for 5 years, then to Atlanta, for another 10 years, off to Pensacola for 3 years, and  Biloxi for the last 8  years or so. So I’ve been over 1500 miles from ‘home’ for the past 25 years almost. I am going to try and not play much poker while he is there and play tour guide. I will definitely take him to Frank Kassela’s 4th of July party, which is always awesome. And now that he’s become a bit of a fan of poker via ESPN, he will get a chance probably to see and meet some ‘poker celebrities’ which I guess maybe he will get a kick out of. 

How many of you have a will? Probably not many, if I had to guess. I think poker players are pretty aloof when it comes to things like planning for their death. That, or you get people who are living paycheck to paycheck who don’t see a reason for a will. I guess I suppose I was probably guilty of that to an extent for a number of years. Well, a couple things have changed for me in the past few years. #1 I had a child, and everything that happens in my life now is done with her in mind. I mean, EVERYTHING. #2 I finally got out of debt, completely, and even paid off all of my wife’s debt, which she’d been dragging around since the day I met her!  #3 We actually have assets now! A house in Pensacola, cars that are paid off, and stocks, cash and college funds to consider. Then I guess #4…people have been dropping dead left and right. It seems like every week Cheryl is telling me about a sad Facebook post she’s just read where one of her friends from school just died. Seemingly in good health, and then just BOOM, dead of a heart attack. People killed in car crashes. I mean…you seriously never know when your number is going to be up. I am not delusional enough to think I am going to dodge every bullet along the way and live forever. A few years ago, I took the first steps in protecting Carley’s future, by purchasing life insurance for both Cheryl and I, and naming the people to take care of our affairs in the event of our untimely death. Well, I felt like getting a will done should be a priority, so after doing a little research, I finally crossed it off my To-Do List last week. I ended up using Legal Zoom.com and I was very impressed. I paid a total of $160 for a Last Will and Testament and for a Living Will…which has to do with how you want your body to be treated if you end up on life support. It was so easy to do, I was surprised.  I think all told, it took me maybe 90 minutes to complete the whole process. Now, I feel so much more secure with everything. Basically, I guess it means I can now die responsibly!!!

WHO WANTS A LITTLE SCANDAL!???

I know, silly question. I have a good friend, who is also a very good writer, as well as a good snooper, or investigator! Jenn Gay is about the best I've ever known personally at sniffing out a story. She's also very good at bluntly calling people out for acts of doucebaggery. Such an occasion arose yesterday!

About two months ago, Jenn sent me a link to this dealer, a circuit dealer, (who's name I won't reveal here, just because I'm feeling nice today for some stupid reason) who had (not kidding) started up a GoFundMe page, to gather donations for...well, himself. Citing unfair work conditions, wages and travel costs...he somehow thought he could get people to feel sorry enough for him to send him money. Unbeknownst to most, I was told, was that this guy has a pretty bad gambling habit, weather its sports betting or playing casino games. In short...he's a degenerate. I looked at his page once every few days to see if he was finding any suckers. Nope. None. Not one. Ever. How embarrassing.

Then a short time after that, I  get another email...from that same Go Fund Me site. A player I've known for close to 10 years was citing that he'd just gone broke, and was basically traumatized by it. And in trying to rationalize what had happened, got into trying to explain variance. Oh brother. And instead of biting the bullet, dealing with the adversity, and perhaps getting a job to climb out of the self-inflicted hole, people were being asked to make donations to fund his summer in Vegas playing poker. Huh? For a hot minute, I seriously thought maybe someone was pulling a vicious prank on this guy. Turns out...they weren't. He later copped to it. Wow. Again, no names here.

This leads me, however...to someone who I WILL name. Why? Well, for a couple reasons. Mainly because I consider him to be (a) a con artist (b) a complete thief (c) a terrible father and (d) an addict who needs help. That and I don't know the guy personally. He'd friend requested me awhile back I guess...as so many recreational poker players do. I've never really been a poker 'fan boy' or friend requested people on the basis that we are fellow poker players....but whatever, they are out there.

I open up my iPad and start browsing my newsfeed on Facebook, and there it is. Bob Wallace,  who has called himself a 'poker legend' while accusing his detractors of not being good enough to even sit at the same table as him...has posted a very public 'apology' didn't really read like an apology as much as it did a boo-hoo story about why everyone should feel sorry for him. Basically, here is what this guy did. He found a couple backers willing to back him in a tourney at Binions and the Seniors WSOP event. Not a lot of money. They gave him the money. The money never made it to the buy-in cage. Because it got spent playing cash game. In what he thought would be shooting fish in a barrel at some cash game involving tourists, instead turned out to him  losing all of his backers money.

Now...some might ask, 'Why post this on Facebook?' Right? Why not just apologize to the two people who you affected? It's not like anyone really knows this guy, Bob Wallace, right? Why shame yourself to the poker world? Well, the thread slowly grew...and grew...and grew some more. The first few comments were typical, "you've apologized Bob, that's very stand up of you...let me know if I can help"  blah blah blah. I mean, in the apology he tugged on the heartstrings with talk of killing himself, of turning his back on his 'dreams of WSOP glory' and about hitch  hiking back to Nebraska to see his daughter and grand children.  So of course, you had those trying to sooth him. 

Then it started. The first comment from someone calling him out. From someone I don't know. Basically telling him he's a thief. Originally  I had planned to copy/paste a lot of the  comments,  but by the end of the night last night...Bob had craftily deleted the comments (and defriended the commenters) of those who were critical of him...which was about 5 or 6 people, myself included. 

The disturbing thing about what he was saying all throughout his apology and ensuing  comments, was that he basically is living in denial. Denial that he has a gambling problem. Denial that poker doesn't 'owe him' anything. He seems to think he is destined for greatness. At some point, a lady named Cindy Jones...who's Facebook  profile is only represented by a single picture of a woman that is sporting a bikini made of playing cards...a picture that is found all over the internet. We all began to doubt the existence of an actual Cindy Jones, and started thinking it was possible that Cindy was actually Bob...only he had created her to help his cause.
Cindy Jones? yeah, no likely...as this specific photo pops up on Google under several different searches. Nope...just a convenient screen grab for whoever is posing as 'Cindy Jones'

Cindy started telling everyone what a wonderful guy Bob is...that he is dying, doesn't have  much time left (unsubstantiated claim) and that everyone should help him to realize his dream. Then she started trying to drum up support by getting everyone to chip in $100. This is where Jenn Gay arrived, and called Cindy out. Asking her, basically, how fucking stupid she was!?? "Yeah...it's nice to help people out...but there are a LOT of players with dreams of winning in the WSOP.  Put your money on them! Not some guy who has stolen from his investors and now wants to be handed money. Any money raised for Bob needs to go to his investors who he stole from. Period!" It was great. And then....it was my turn. I wouldn't say I ambushed the guy. But I did share my feelings on the subject. 

The thing that some people in poker have come to realize in this game...and have made adjustments in their life accordingly,  but which some just seem to never, ever want to try and grasp, is that being a profitable poker player is VERY VERY VERY hard, to the point of nearly impossible. People talk about variance, and some don't even know what they are talking about. No, see, if you really want to know what variance truly is? Play poker...either cash or tournaments for anywhere from 5 to 10 years, full time. Then you will know! If you are not fully staked, or have a great source of revenue flowing from somewhere unrelated to  poker, your chances of being a 'winning player' are very slim. 

Me? I've been very fortunate, in that I've had a lot of backers over the last decade. This has provided me the chance to emerge as a winning player,  overall. But  had all my buy ins come out of my own pocket? I seriously doubt I would be. Maybe a little bit...but certainly nothing that could support a family. No way. And how many players are there out there who are as  lucky as having that kind of staking network as I have? Not many...I know that for sure. So what you have is a lot of players out there who are grinding away hoping for that one big score that can make it all seem like it was worth it. And you know what? Sometimes, it is. It is that happy ending. The guy who grinds for years and years...winning just enough to keep playing...then one day he has everything go his way, and winds up winning a million dollars. We all feel happy for that guy.

Then what? Does he start playing all the 10k events, and all the high-roller events? Does he change his standard of living? Does he end up broke? Or close to broke? Or is he  responsible about what to do with that money that he's been chasing for all those years? I've played for 10 years now, and I've seen a lot of players come and go for these reasons. It's sad. But it's life. Some people have discipline, and some people just don't. Some are survivors, and some aren't. Survival of the fittest certainly applies to poker.

So, this guy Bob? Well, I originally wanted to merely question his logic in putting himself on blast to Facebook World. In most of my comments, I was actually responding more to the other commenters, then Bob himself. It wasn't until his comment where he was calling out anyone with anything negative to say, and saying they wouldn't have a chance against him at the felt, that I started to lose any empathy for the guy. And then his very own daughter made an appearance, and it was official...he was a douchebag. 

Bob's daughter is Mandy...you might have to click ON the message there to get it to show up big enough to read. It made me sad for her, just reading it.
Later, I found out he'd been hired to run some guy's little ma and pop hotel that the guy had paid 400K cash for...basically his life savings, and good 'ol Bob had basically ran it into the ground...while drinking and gambling on the clock at the neighborhood casino and lounge. And then finally...I find where Bob tried to start up his own GiveForward page (surprise surprise) in which its headline reads 'ALMOST HOMELESS.' Looks like he managed to mooch about $600 from kind-hearted, unsuspecting souls. Well played Bobby, well played.


Why am I telling you all this story today? To be mean? To throw this guy under the bus? Naw...none of that is my primary motivation, though I know it may look that way. Frankly, I am concerned about  the number of con artists, thieves and liars that seem to have found their way into the poker community, and I'm pretty sick of it. So in a way, this is to serve as a warning NOT to give this particular man money for any reason, as well as a warning to be very careful about who you enter into staking agreements with. Always have some form of binding agreement, whether it be by virtue of a simple text message or email...or something a little more legal, like a contract you have drawn up and had signed, as I will be doing with all 5 of our Summer Minions. Not that I question the honestly and/or integrity of ANY of my team members, because I don't. But..you should always protect yourself, 100%.

There is also a story to be learned here about what is truly considered an apology. Now, if you truly feel personally responsible about something that you have done, to the extent that you decide to put yourself on blast on social media for the entire poker community to critique, then you MUST be prepared for the shit storm that is bound to follow. And handle it like a man. It doesn't make you a man because you said "I'm sorry" in front of the world. It makes you a man to say you're sorry, handle the shit storm, and make things right with the people you fucked over. But what did Bob do?  He simply deleted any and all comments that were critical of him and his actions...and then deleted and blocked them as friends. What that shows to me...is that on top of having a gambling problem, and an honesty problem, and maybe a lack of respect for others around him....Bob is a coward.

Monkey

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