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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

New Hobbies Never Suck!

Greetings my poker (mostly) friends. It's been quite a year so far. We saw the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history last month...or the greatest choke job, depending upon your point of view and who you root for (or against). We've seen the most controversial president in the history of our nation slog through his first 100 days with a wholly divided nation hinging on every action and every word that comes out of the White House. 




We saw an Academy Awards end with a Steve Harvey-esque conclusion...throwing chaos into an event that was already being watched closely by the Conservatives...as they waited for another Liberal Hollywood personality use their pulpit as a place to preach politics. Chet...the older brother in 'Weird Science' who couldn't cut Wyatt and Gary a break in their pursuit of building the perfect woman (and at that time, Kelly Le Brock WAS the perfect woman) just passed away. We had a lot of famous people die last year...and in fairness, most of them had reached their end naturally. But Bill Paxson...only 61? All these actors and musicians who I grew up with in my childhood, dropping left and right...has put a whole new perspective on my own mortality. 




On February 16th, I hit the half century mark. Ask me twenty years ago if I considered 50 to be old...and I would have enthusiastically replied, "Hell yeah it is!!!" Then you get to 50...and things really change. Little changes in your subconscious...you don't see yourself as being old. Even looking in the mirror, you still see that guy you saw in High School and College. It's not until you go to Dollar General and that little acne-faced teenager addresses you as "Sir" that you even feel a little bit older. Funny thing...when I was younger...much younger, I wasn't one of those asshole kids who made fun of old people. And I think that it was mainly due to my grandfather who passed away when I was about 15. Before he died, we had some of the greatest chats. He taught me so much about life, and about people, and shared so many experiences with me of his amazing life. I took a lot of what he said to heart...and have tried to live the fullest life I possibly can. I've traveled the world. I've dabbled in numerous career fields. I think I can safely say, I left it all out on the field! And whenever I encounter someone I consider elderly...I'm left wondering to myself, "Hmm...I wonder if they are happy with the life they've led? I wonder if they have regrets? Things they wished they'd done? 

We get older...and friends and family members die. The older we get...the more frequent it gets. It gets harder and harder to process. But then....I wonder...do we just get numb to it? Does it become such a regular thing that it doesn't phase us after awhile? Do we just wait for our turn to arrive? And while we are getting older and older...we have these little jerkoffs...they are currently called 'The Millennials' in most circles, who think they know SO much...and have such little regard for anyone outside of their generation. 




They will be replaced by my daughter's generation...no telling what they will be called. And so it goes....on and on and on some more. Ask me when I was 10, "Do you think America is an old country?" And I would have reacted by saying "Oh yeah! Really old! 200 years!!!" But then you live 50 years...and it all seems to go by so fast...and you realize...damn! 50 years is but 25% the age of our nation!  (older now, of course) So no...I think our country is nothing but an infant. Isn't that weird? This...what you have just read? Is what I would call one of my classic sidebars! Now back to my originally intended blog post! 

Shall we talk a little about poker? Especially considering this is a poker blog on a poker website? Sure...why not. I also assume there are a handful of people checking in periodically to see if I am taking on comers for this coming summer's team of grinders...to venture out to the desert in pursuit of millions. Well...I will, indeed be getting that ball in motion soon...very soon. Let me just say...I have about two or three people in mind for this year's team already...if, of course, they are equally interested in being on the team. As for all others? The process...is that I take applications...with (hopefully) an impressive cover letter. And one thing that I would impress upon potential applicants? Have some impressive scores on your resume. Try to keep in mind...its not just ME who is investing. In fact, I am but a mere partial investor. I just happen to be the choreographer of the whole shebang. So, while I may very much be impressed with your skills at the poker table...remember that there will always be 100-125 people who I must convince that this person I have chosen is legitimately qualified to take our $10,000 and make a run deep into the most famous poker tournament on the planet. Because when I select someone? And they fall on their face? Guess who gets second-guessed and criticized? Yup! This guy!!!!

All interested/potential candidates should email me at ThePokerMonkey1@aol.com for consideration.

How have I been running? Well...first I drove over to New Orleans...then drove a little longer. Got lost a couple times...but eventually found my way to Boomtown, who was running a semi-big tourney for the folks from Heartland Poker Tour. It was a good field, and had a good structure. I had only committed to firing one bullet, and wasn't all that excited about it....because their Day 2 would be played on Super Bowl Sunday...and they didn't have any kind of set up to be able to watch the game from the tournament area. It was also situated in a very poor location, smack dab in the middle of the slot area. So it was noisy as hell, and smoky as a mother. I'd been warned about the smoke by others...so picked up some surgical masks on my way over there. 




I made the dinner break...and that was the highlight...because, while the service at Pier 41 was dreadful....just lousy....the food coming out of the kitchen was amazing. I sat at the bar and feasted on a ribeye steak that was incredible. Then I returned to the tourney and busted....don't even know when. But I didn't bag, so what does it matter? The following day...having returned to Biloxi, I posted on my Facebook that I'd been fantasizing about that steak all day and would happily pay someone to bring me the same exact meal I had enjoyed the night before. Well, no sooner did I post that, than Charlie Gelvin messaged me that he'd take me up on my offer. I was like...."Whoa, what?? Really!??? Okay!!!" And about two hours later I was sitting at my kitchen table eating that same meal and drinking one of my better bottles of Pinot Noir! Bliss!!!



Know what I forgot? I forgot that after busting the Main there...I made my way to their poker room...just to see if it was as much of a joke as I'd heard it was. To my surprise...there was a big 1-2 game going. Yes...I said 'A big 1-2 game going.' I know, some of you are snickering! Well...by the time I got into the game...bought up to the biggest stack ($1800) and played for about an hour...there had to be $15-$20k on that table. We had railbirds...probably 10-15 just sweating this game. It was nuts. Completely nuts. Had I caught even a couple of breaks, and had even a few hands hold up as they should have...I would most likely have cruised out of there with about a $3500-$4000 profit. Instead...I lost $2700. So...a nice little -$3800 road trip. Ugh. 

Next up on the poker agenda...was a trip to West Palm...aka Palm Beach Kennel Club. I flew down this time, instead of driving. And for the first time, I became a UBER user...which I was more or less impressed with. The one hiccup being the day I got a Cuban lady who spoke NO English at all and took me on a ridiculous maze-like adventure all over South Florida! If you follow me on Facebook...you might have enjoyed that exciting adventure! Well, I also decided to treat myself...since it was the week of my BIG FIVE OH...and booked myself at PGA National Country Club in Palm Gardens. It was incredible. Maybe not exactly worth what I paid for it...but it was peak season...and they did have the Honda Classic coming in the next week, so it was a very electric environment. While I was there I got a chance to play three rounds of golf and loved every second of it. Before I went down there...I got with a local golf pro to work on some of the holes in my game...mainly with my irons, and seemed to have worked through the major issues. Thank god...because the last thing I wanted to do was embarrass myself in such good 'golf company.' Turns out I played fairly well...well enough at least to convince my playing partners that I knew what I was doing!

The day I flew in, I got to the hotel, checked in, and returned to the Kennel Club to play that day's Omaha 8 or Better tourney. Getting there late was probably a good thing. I got deep...and then ran like crap. I don't remember exactly, but I think I busted about 15 from the money. I was just in time to hop into the 4pm Turbo tourney...and got deep in that one too....but busted 8 from the money in that one. Sigh.......

The next day I played the 6-max at noon...a tourney I've never cashed in my career. I've been close many many times...but never a single cash. Well...that ended, finally. 188 played...and I busted 11th...just missing the final table...but happy to finally have a 6-max cash on my resume. The only downside to that day...was that the 4pm tourney was an 8-max...which seemed to me to be the PERFECT tourney! The ideal amount of leg and elbow room...and not too speedy or geared for super-aggro players. So I didn't get to play that. 

That was the extent of my tourney play that week. I took the rest of the week off to focus on R&R at my resort and playing golf. On Thursday night...I went with Tim Burt to where he was staying, the Hard Rock...and played some cash game. It was my birthday...and it would only stand to reason that I would run like a....well, actually, I didn't really RUN GOOD....I just had all my hands hold up. And got paid off on them. I bought in for $300...and in only about 2 hours...cashed out with $2450. A very nice little session! Earlier that night...Tim and I had dinner in my hotel lobby...and they were having a big benefit raffle. We both bought a good amount of tickets, and I ended up winning the Grand Prize...which was a 3-day/3-night stay at PGA National along with golf for two on the Champions course ($420 value per round!). I don't think I've ever won a raffle in my life before that!  So yeah...my birthday was somewhat memorable!!!


I came home from South Florida...and got together with my best friend...who I've decided to enter into with as partners on a bar and restaurant in St Thomas, Virgin Islands. As we sat eating sushi, I forked over the second LARGE certified check in the last calendar year (the first being for our house!) for a major purchase/investment. I used to own a bar in Atlanta with, ahem...SIX other guys...big mistake, and I said I would never do a bar venture with multiple partners again. That bar was incredibly popular and successful...and I've always kind of missed that business. Well, my friend is the ONLY person I would EVER be partners with in this kind of thing again...and he's done an amazing job securing the location, the lease, and all the other components necessary to get a place like that opened. We look to open the place in about a month. So I will most likely be taking some trips down to St Thomas in the coming year. Hopefully I don't lose my shirt! But I feel good about it overall, and think we will be really successful! 

Finally...last week, I decided to play the Beau's Friday $130 tourney...my first tourney there (not counting the Million Dollar Heater) since I'd had my five-year ban lifted in January. It got a decent turnout of 54 players. The nice thing about playing a little hundred dollar tourney...is that there is very little that can happen that is going to get me irritated. So early in the game...when I was losing to some of the shittiest hands...I just bit my tongue and laughed. To myself, of course. Overall...it was a nice day of poker. And after my hands started holding up...I started building a pretty nice stack. It was only paying 9...and when we went from 34 down to 17 all of a sudden..I started thinking how nice it would be to win my first weekly tourney since I returned. But I've been in those spots so many times...and every time you start thinking you have a pretty good shot to win....something almost always seems to derail your plans! So I just kept waiting for it to happen.

We combined at 10 players...and they all started chirping about taking $15 out of pocket to pay the bubble. Well, I am now...at this stage in my poker career, heavily ANTI chop. And I don't give a crap about the bubble...whether its me, or someone else. I mean...seriously? Is that $150 really going to change your life that much? Luckily, there was another guy at the table who said 'No' so I didn't have to be the lone voice of dissent. Which was nice...I hate being the bad guy if I don't have to be. 

So we played on. Eventually we lost that 10th person. Then we got down to 6...I was still 1st or 2nd in chips. They started up with the chop talk again. I politely declined. They offered me 'a little more' than the others. Again...I told them, "Guys, no offense, I don't like to play all day so I can quit when we get down to 6, or 4, or 3, or 2. Sorry, I like playing final tables. It's not a money thing for me." And that was it. Well...we get four handed...the blinds are 6000/12000 and a very interesting play happens. This guy limps on the button with 9-10 off. The guy in the SB...who was extremely 'squirrely' all day...meaning...mmmm....I don't know how to explain it, very twitchy or something. Made very erratic plays. Well he completed for 12k with what turned out to be A10 off. Well, if I'm in the big blind with something like QJ suited? And they have both limped at THOSE levels? And I have them both covered by a good amount? To me...that's just them telling me..."Hey Monkey...you want this pot of $36,000??? (with antes)" And I'm like..."Of Course I do! I'm all in!" (for about 30 bb's) Well, before the button can act on his hand...the SB acts out of turn and stands up (like he'd been doing often) and declares he calls. In my mind I'm alternating between..."what the fuck?" and "whoops...fucked that one up, I guess" and ...."Sure hope I suck out!!!!" 

Well now the button limper...who actually had plenty of chips to just get out of the way...especially knowing that the SB had already announced his intention. Now...as a logical thinking human...I'm thinking...WOW...this guy just did me the biggest favor ever! Hopefully he can cripple Monkey...then we can finish him off...and do a three-way chop deal! Right? Nope. Not this guy. He stands up...and says..."Well, shit...since this guy isn't going to do a chop deal....I might as well just get it all in, what the hell...." Um...okay then! So we are all three all in...and the flop comes A-Q-7. Well...I got outs! The turn is an 8...giving this guy a straight draw...and killing my Jack as an out...shit. The river...BOOM! I spike a queen! And I take them both out!  Heads up!

Now this other guy starts asking about some kind of deal. I have him about 5 to 1. I repeat my speech....he respects it...and we prepare to play. At this point...his wife...who had been observing for awhile...situates herself right over his left shoulder. And he is showing her every hand.

Okay first of all? I've never seen that happen where the floor doesn't make that person leave. Frankly...I couldn't care less if someone wants their lady friend to sit and watch. In fact, I'm all for it...it certainly makes things more interesting for them! In such a boring game, otherwise. I just was surprised, that's all. 

Secondly? Boys and girls...word to the wise here: If you get heads up with a player that is above average in skill level? And has demonstrated an ability to pick up physical tells from other players over the past decade and a half? It is probably not in your best interest to have someone sitting over your shoulder, who's face is in clear view of your opponent, looking at your hole cards. Because what that does...well, I don't think I need to spell it out for you, right?

Lets just say...it was a nice advantage to have...when I would look at his wife's face after looking at his cards...and know if he had a big hand, or a shit hand. Because if I was on the button, and I was fairly certain he had a shit hand...I would just raise 2.5x and take down the pot.  Hopefully the guy I played against will read this, and not let that happen again. Not that I don't think I would have or could have beaten him anyway....it just might not have been quite so easy. 

He almost had me, actually. It was down to 4 to 1...and when I raised with AJ suited...only to have to call his all in with 99...I flopped two pair only to get turned by a nine and ship him a very large portion of my stack. Then he caught a bunch of good hands to get me down to where he had me now about 5 to 1. But I turned it around...and got super aggressive against him. Finally, I raised with A6 suited...and called his all in...with KQ. I caught a dream flop....a 6-5-4 flop with two spades. Nice. I held...and it was over. I don't usually ask for a 'Victory Shot' in a tourney like that (daily) but given the circumstances, I felt it was both necessary, and appropriate. It felt good to win again. Anything...but especially to win at the Beau Rivage. It had been a long time....on the outside looking in. It was a win for $1570...no big deal. It was a great feeling to just sit there...with all the chips. Its one of the very rare feelings in poker that still get me excited. Right up there with making that hero call...when you are counting on your reads to be right...and they are! 


I left a generous tip...and went to meet the girls who were already at Chili's. Carley gave me a card protector for my birthday, that has her picture on both sides of it. The first thing she asked me: "Daddy! Did you use your coin today for poker!???" I love it. "I sure did! Don't you know that's why Daddy won!!!???" 



That's the last poker I've played...last week. I don't have anything else planned right now. Me and Squirrel are taking a little 4 day/night trip to Punta Cana next week...her birthday gift to me. Carley is staying home with her Mimi...its an all-inclusive, adults-only resort...so it should be a nice weekend. Not something we get to do very often. She's been on a rampage lately in the gym and with her diet...trying to get down to her 'playing weight' for this summer! The Elliptical I bought her about 3 years ago...that she largely ignored and used for a place to stash the extra pillows from the bed...has finally been getting a great workout this month! After that? Well...as you know...I run sports pools...and here comes March Madness! I don't really follow or care that much about hoops...but March Madness is always pretty exciting. So that will keep me busy through April I guess. After that? Not sure! Guess we'll have to wait and see!!!! 

MONKEY