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Monday, August 1, 2016

Minions Summer Camp Wrap Up Report

I know this is pretty overdue. I remember once upon a time, when I was out in Vegas on my 5-7 week summer long grinds, I tended to blog about every 3rd day, before I left my room for the day. Usually that room was in the infamous Riviera Hotel and Casino...which has been erased from the Vegas skyline. First, the crew of 'Jason Bourne' was crashing cars into it's front entrance, then, they were imploding it for a live audience, complete with firecrackers. Oh, how things change.

So I have now been home for a week and a half, and am finally getting around to putting fingertip to keypad. Something about Vegas, or really anywhere else I run off to go play poker for a week or two; when I get home I am completely drained. No energy. Body aches. No desire or motivation to do anything. I've always blamed it on breathing the casino's pure oxygen for days on end, then coming home to an environment devoid of that 'turbo boost.' But I've never been able to substantiate from any credible sources that this is anything but an old Vegas myth. So then why do I feel like such a slug when I get home?

Every time I sit down to write a blog post, I am first prompted to approve or deny the latest comments. Our resident anonymous hater managed to chime in, excited to let me know how thrilled he was that none of our Team Monkey players managed to cash for a sizable score this summer. And to of course suggest I am accountable for their inability to finish better than 90% of the field. Apparently, when you sign up as an investor with me...there is a very very tiny small print in the contract that states: "team players may accidentally get deep in the tournament, and snap off a score of $100,000 or more. Unlikely, but just in case they do...please do not hold it against me, since it was obvious your reason for signing up for this adventure, was to find a place to dump a bunch of disposable income!"
This Summer's Fantastic Team Monkey!!!!

I always wonder to myself what kind of a person sits around all rooting for bad things to happen to people? What is their motivation? What do they have to gain from it? Well..just so that the record is correct, Mr. Anonymous Loser at Life...I must correct you: You claimed we 'blew' $70k and 'only' returned $28,000 to the investors. Making everyone 'probably about $25' back. The FACT: Two players cashed, Christian Iacobellis, 910th, for $15,000 and Robert Harwell, 435th for $28,700. That is a total of $43,700. Also...we didn't 'blow' $70k. You are terrible at math. 6 players. $10,000 entry. Where I come from, that adds up to $60,000. When the 20% taxes for each player were deducted, each investor was left earning $105 (per each $200 share) per share. Hence, everyone got about half of their money back. And as of this writing, I have accounted for 93 of 116 payouts. The other 23 I am waiting to hear back from with their mailing address.
Nelly, always a very entertaining guy to have at your poker table!

Some opted to get behind my Venetian Main Event package with their returns. My plan was to win a $600 satellite and play for 100%. Well...despite a pretty good start in it, and some entertaining back and forth with Nelly before he busted...I would run into a couple of lousy coolers and end up not winning the Mega. So I was faced with a decision. Cough up $5k, and play for 100%? Or sell out 50 shares for $100 each and play for only 40%? I had already had 5 or 6 people tell me they wanted a piece of if I decided to sell a package. And one guy wanted to buy 15% for $900. So I knew that would be easy. But I also felt really good about how I have been playing. And knew 1st would be around half a million. Tough call.
Steven Chew...the eventual winner of $250k in the $1100 Venetian event. He was a massive pest for me all day, and I played one critical hand against him horribly. He would bust me shortly after that.

Earlier in the trip...I played the $1.5 guaranteed, an $1100 buy in, and only had to play it twice! Yes...there were some guys who played and busted and rebought 5 or more times! So I was in for $1300, since I managed to win one of the $200 mega's for my 2nd bullet. Out of 1587 players, I made it down to 43 before I played a hand against the eventual winner of the tourney, Steven Chew, that I wish I could have gotten back. The hand isn't important, only that I hate how I played it. Then he would end up busting me when I bluff shoved against him when he had, essentially, the nuts. I had sat watching him bluff all day and open light...so I was pretty sure I had a better hand anyway when I shoved into him. Nope. I was out 43rd for $4700...but was still left feeling pretty satisfied with my overall play.
A week full of great structures, great events, and great players. Carlos Mortensen is still a great player, and is always a total gentleman at the table.


So selling the package was, like I said, a tough call. Earlier in the week, after busting  43rd at the $1100, I walked across the street to The Wynn and played their $1600 Main Event. I had a very up and down first day...and an incredibly tough table, but still managed to bag up an average amount of chips. Then after taking a bunch of cold medicine and melatonin, I woke up at 11:53am...with a restart of noon! I was staying at Venetian! Somehow, thanks to a delayed start of 15 minutes...I made it on time. Well, my Day 2 was a disaster. I don't remember much about it now that it's been over two weeks. But lets just say I played a few hours and busted...short of making the money. When I wasn't playing tourneys I was playing cash, and doing pretty well. I had one horrible session sandwiched around 6 winning sessions...so overall my cash play for the trip was profitable. I decided to go ahead and sell a package. 20 minutes after I sent out the email, I was sold out. Then, while at the table I had to email people back telling them I was sorry, that I was sold out. Some felt they got slighted because they claimed to have asked through Facebook or other means that I hadn't seen. I felt bad, but in the long run, they were the winners!
My poker buddy...who is widely regarded as 'AquaMan'...one of poker's most notorious when it comes to tanking for long, unnecessary periods of time. 

My Day 1 couldn't have gone too much better. I had a very weird table draw. It was a 'feeder table' where they would bring in new players...then two or three orbits later come and take them to another table. I was one of only three players to start and finish at the table. They would bring by players like my arch nemesis in poker Matt Stout, who only stayed for like 8 hands. Then Jordan Cristos, the notorious tanker, and thankfully, he only stuck around for 2 orbits too. Our table finally broke with about 45 minutes left in the night...and I took 30k to my new table. By the end of the night...I would bag up 106k...which was 19th out of 130 returning players on Day 2. I literally had two hands in ONE orbit...where I fired a 3rd big bluff bet on the river...and was CALLED by ace high! I also had ace high...but with a better kicker! Twice! Both times for huge pots. Both times by British players. So I went to bed feeling very good. I didn't have to play the next day and used it to completely chill out at the pool...which was fantastic!

Went back for Day 2 and had a great table draw. I was the biggest stack, and no one at the table was very intimidating. In the first three levels I was on absolute fire. After about an hour of play Johnny Chan joined our table...giving me my 'Rounders Moment' which is always fun. After winning a couple hands in crafty fashion...and one where I bet the flop, turn and checked behind the guys river check...finally giving up with my AQ on a rag-infested board, I said to the guy "Do you have King high?" He asked "What's my kicker?" I said "KQ probably." He turns over KQ. (I had AQ) Johnny eyeballs me and say's "How good ARE you man?" I won't lie...in all the years of playing poker...and I'm not some big poker fan boy or anything...but shit, that WAS Johnny freaking Chan and he did just pay me a pretty kick ass compliment! My head did swell a little bit! Also swelling was my chip stack...which was up as high as 146k with the blinds at only 600-1200 (120bb's). Our starting field started out with 587 players and was down to almost 100. It was paying 54 spots...with that spot getting $11,700. That payout alone would guarantee each $100 share buyer of a return of $135. My first mission was to make all those guys and gals some money. Then start worrying about a good score for all of us.
The Great Johnny Chan! Handing out compliments to Senor Monkey!

I felt so good. So comfortable with my table, and confident. Then I lost three kind of rough hands in a row to dip to 115k. And then...in a stroke of shitty luck, I got that tap on the shoulder most of us players loathe. "Next big blind? You're getting moved."  Fuck!!!! And I got moved to the table from hell. Several players I had played with on Day 1. Almost all of them the internet wizard types. The German...who played super aggressive, and who would berate you if you beat him in a sizable pot. Alex Rocha...who's aces I had cracked late in Day 1...forcing him to rebuy...also showed back up at my table, vowing revenge. Playfully of course. Alex and I have always been friendly. Regardless, I knew he would stop at nothing to whack me. The table was a total shitstorm. Any time someone put in a raise, it was almost assured that they would get re-raised downstream. So I made a point of not entering a hand unless I was ready to go to war with it. 

Admittedly, there were a couple hands I wished I had played different. But it's always easy to second-guess yourself AFTER the hands have been played. I had opted for a strategy of getting into pots cheap, or as cheap as I could...and hitting a flop, then maximizing the value of those pots in order to survive and maintain. Again...my first goal was to make the money. Then...after that, I would take the training wheels off. But I had to get there first. So...this guy, very quiet, and playing very few hands...and sitting on about 24k with the blinds at 1000-2000...LIMPS under the gun! Huh? Nothing screams aces more than THAT right??? I look down at 44. Oh hell yes...I will take a shot at two-outing this guy! Three other players call...creating a 10k pot now. Well...the big blind, Javier Zarco (not actually Javier!)...who had already drawn my ire...with his mopey, non-expressive face, and his desire to constantly 3, 4 and 5 bet to show what a bully he was...goes and makes it 10k to go. I roll my eyes..and right on cue...the limping for 2k...shoves all in for 24k. No one calls. Not even dipshit with his 300k stack (gotten through a series of ridiculous gifts) would call the extra 14k. I was so pissed.
Javier...the Douche Canoe
The 'REAL' Javier Zarco!!! On the right

So I get down to about 67k and pick up QQ. I raise to 5200. No one calls. Except
Droopy Dog. Flop comes J-3-5...two diamonds. He checks. I bet 6500. He shrugs...and calls. What's he got? A jack? A flush draw? Man I hate people who chase flush draws. The turn in the 10 of spades. Not much to fear out there. He checks again. This time I bet  11k. Yes...I now have 22,700 of my 67,000 in this pot. The river is a 7 of hearts. He gives me this dumb look...grabs four blue chips...worth 20k and just nonchalantly does that stupid robotic drop of the chips on the table.

I got a message from a reader, informing me that who I have identified as Javier Zarco is NOT Javier. Javier is the guy who I have posted a picture of below, after the fact. He, though coming off as a Euro, maybe Spanish? Is actually listed as being from Lake Charles...which I assume is Louisiana's Lake Charles. Not sure. He was a very good player. Pain in the ass. But very talented. He also min-cashed the Main at Venetian. As for who Droopy Dog is with the incessant habit of holding his hoodie in front of his face that seems to be so popular in poker lately? I guess it shall remain a mystery as to who he is. Or if he cashed.                                               

It feels like a 'go away please' bet from a guy who has a lot of chips to use to push people around. Like a guy who missed his flush draw. I can't see just flatting 20k. Call, be wrong...and be left with 25k? Or shove and have him either fold...or have him call with something like AJ or KJ and get a FULL double up. I shove all in. He repeats that "hhmmph, why not" stupid shrug of his....and calls. He turns over J7. I feel like I've been kicked in the gut. Rivered a second pair. That's it. I'm done. Out. 92nd. No money. But the worst...was as I was getting up...he tells me "Nice bluff on the river!" I won' lie...I wanted to strangle him. I said nothing instead. Told everyone else good luck. And went out to the area where the slots are...and roamed around aimlessly for a few minutes trying to get my bearings back. 
We had a great time at Mandalay Bay's Shark Reef Aquarium

Carley had a real connection with this clown!

Only WE know just creepy those Vegas street performers really are! Shhhhh! No one tell Carley! She really, truly though that was her beloved Olaf!!!!

Then I played a $300 bounty tourney that had started at 4pm. I played bad. Really bad. I burned off two buy ins before realizing I needed to quit with the poker for the day/night. I then retreated to my room and basically slept away an entire day. I spent the following day at the pool...trying to put a nice positive touch on my end of the trip before going home. All in all it was a good trip. The girls came out for 4 days...and we had a great time while they were there. Saw a lot of my GOOD poker friends while there. Got to play a good amount of poker...and I confess, I really kind of got that itch back from playing in competitive tourney with really, really skilled players at the table. I am all about, and have always been about...competing against the best in the trade, whether it be sports, or poker. It gives me a rush. It invigorates me. Whether I win or lose...its still a feeling I enjoy. Playing in big buy ins, with really good players...that's what I thoroughly enjoy. Now...things will change mightily next month, when I tee it up at the IP and maybe the Beau Rivage, to play these two local events...a lot of low buy in events ($300-$400) with a lot of extremely below average (even bad) players. Those are the ones that can get really, super frustrating. 
I have always loved staying at the Venetian, but on this trip I really loved my room and the great view of the pool!

Against good players...you are playing poker. You get deep and it's mostly a lot of good players who are just sitting around coolering each other. And yeah its brutal, but you can take it. It's much more acceptable to lose like that...than to lose to some dumbass who can't ever tell from your betting patterns when he is smoked, but keeps calling like a 17 year old kid on Friday night, getting rejected over and over by the cheerleader. Then sometimes...they hit that magic 1 or 2-outer to derail you. They are suddenly, in their mind, the next Phil Ivey...letting all their friends know about their 'awesome suckout.' Meanwhile, you just played 14 hours...only to run your KK into Q10 guy...with his flopped 10 making him think he was good on every street...until that river brought him another 10...fucking you, and turning him into a genius. Poker...it's a bitch. 

But I will be there. Might even have to repeat my move of a few years ago...bringing in my office chair to use that week. Hey, I plan to play deep, a LOT. And I would like to be comfortable. Hoping the IP has that lit-up 'Disco Stage' again. Always love making that final table! Hoping, that since it's a WSOP circuit stop...and there are so many more players now chasing rings and National Championship points...that they will draw a lot better than they usually do. And as for the Beau? I haven't even seen their event show up on the Cardplayer tournament schedule yet...so I'm not really sure what is going on with that event. All that starts in September. We got one more month to wade through. 

August is the worst. Waiting for football season to start. Being forced to whet our appetites with crummy preseason games. Yuck. I bought us 3 tickets to the Bama-USC game in Dallas on Sept 3rd. Never been to Jerry's World. Should be a cool experience. This is the season where I am finally going to start taking Carley to football games. I bought 3 tickets to the Ole Miss game too, in Oxford. Only one problem, the $1600 Main Event at IP falls that weekend. Flight A is on Friday and B is on Saturday. I'm going to have to play on Friday and bag chips...so I will have Saturday off, to attend that game. Then come back for Day 2 on Sunday. That's the plan!

I would be getting excited about the upcoming Olympics in Rio...if it weren't for the fact that we are most likely about to see the biggest disaster in the history of the Games. The IOC, and their corruption, has really screwed up this event. Putting it in cities that clearly should NOT have them awarded to them. They aren't even close to being ready for the games. And Rio is a total dump. I guess I will watch to see if Michael Phelps can add to his amazing medal count over four Olympics...and of course, women's beach volleyball! Outside of that...not much to see there.

It was a great summer. I am very proud of what our 6 players did in Vegas. 5 of them making it out of Day 1. Another 3 making it to Day 3. Two making the money. The whole investment team was great! The level of support was simply amazing. Our Facebook group page was blowing up the whole time. Lots of Twitter updates. The players themselves did a fantastic job of keeping everyone in the loop. It always makes me happy when people tell me they can't wait to do it again next summer! Yeah..its a lot of work doing this. I spent almost an entire day at the post office in Vegas sending out all the hats, t-shirts and hoodies that had been ordered. And have spent many many hours getting everyone's return on investment sent to them this whole past week. But I take pride in getting people paid out as quick as I can. I do the same thing with my sports pools. I find the quicker I pay them...the fewer of them pay me late or not at all. 

I can't envision NOT being back in the Summer of 2017 to do it all over again. We had 4 in 2014. Then 5 in 2015. And finally, 6 in 2016 this summer. And I know we could have easily sold enough shares to send a 7th. But I figured we would wait and shoot for 7 in 2017...maintain that pattern! 
Carley loves all animals...but REALLY loves her 'GiGi'

A few months ago, I caught Jasper, my lab who will be 12 in January...throwing up blood in the kitchen one morning. I got a sample and took it and him to the vet. Found out he had early onset of kidney failure. We put him on some expensive meds and I changed his food to something much much better. Instead of spending about $45 a month on their food, I've basically tripled that. With zero regret! I love my dogs! Well once I was in Vegas and the girls were home, Squirrel said Jasper was being very irritable and not himself. I came home...and took him back to the vet, where they did more blood work. What they discovered was very depressing. Despite all these great meds, his condition has taken a turn for the worst. The vet told me we will be lucky if he makes it another three months. This will be the first test in Carley's life, and dealing with loss of a loved one. I am going to aggressively up his meds, and hope I can extend his quality of life for a while longer. It's such a tough spot...and I've been here now with 3 other dogs...where you have to decide when their suffering exceeds their desire to still be here, being your best buddy. Anyone that has a dog knows this pain. We've all agonized over it. 4200 days of being my best buddy. That's a tough pill to swallow, knowing I'm going to have to eventually give 'the word' to my vet to send him off to the Rainbow Bridge. Then I have to worry about Mollie, our 8 year old lab-pit mix mutt. Will she die of a broken heart? Jasper is the only 'pal' she's ever known. It sucks. I'm trying to fill a big bucket list of stuff for Jasper before his day gets here. One thing I want to do is take him over to the dog beach in Pensacola, and let him play all day in the sand and ocean. He will be so happy. 

Well...this seems like a good place to wrap up this blog post. Squirrel is off in Gulf Shores with a gaggle of her girl friends for her birthday...and Carley is home with me...bombing me with "Daddy look! Daddy, come here!!! Daddy, can I have _____" non-stop!!! Seriously shocked she let me sit down long enough to write this whole blog post in one sitting!!!!

MONKEY

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