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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Ohhhh What a Crazy Week!!!

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So much to write about. Not even sure where to begin. Probably should start with the thing that got my blood boiling last night, since its so fresh in my mind. 

So...currently, there is a Card Player (along with Tito's Vodka) sponsored event going on at the semi-new Scarlet Pearl casino here in Biloxi. Way back before the place even opened, I emailed the head of table games...and shared a lot of great ideas that I had for their poker room. Told them how excited I was for their arrival in our town. Then I made them an offer I would have thought would at least garner a response of some kind, at the very least:

"Let me come in and be your poker room manager for 3 months. You can pay me $1 a month, for 3 months. Then, at the end of those three months, if you like the direction things are going? We can sit down and discuss salary." I never even got a response. In actuality, with all that I have going on...it's probably a blessing it didn't come to fruition. I am not really someone who likes a 9-5 job, at ALL, in fact. Not to mention the time it would have cost me with my girls. Yeah...no thanks. 

Meanwhile, I've been rooting hard for these guys to make it. It's this big, spacious room, high ceilings, lots of room between the tables. No shuffle masters on the tables (hear THAT Gabe Costner!!????) which I personally like. You can get food that is quite delicious. And when it comes to brands that you can order from the cocktail waitresses? They have no limitations. Which is hard to find these days as casinos continue to look for ways to cut costs. So in this respect....they really have a lot to offer. 

But...for some reason, it continues to struggle. I frequently peek at my Bravo poker app to see where there might be a cash game in town to go play...and they almost never have more than 1 or 2 tables going. (then you have casinos like Golden Nugget who won't even spend the money FOR Bravo...which is completely insane) I was excited for this event, hoping they would draw some good numbers, and more importantly attract some players who had not had a chance to play there yet. 

In other words? A really, really great opportunity for them to make a good first impression. I would say on the poker end...they are doing a really good job this week. They seem to have added just enough over flow tables to accommodate the number of players who showed up. Anyone that has had to go in as an alternate, hasn't had to wait very long. Unlike some casinos, they didn't tie up a bunch of tables spreading cash game to the detriment of players waiting to get in the tourney...and frankly, that might just have more to do with them not really having a solid cash game clientele, more than anything. But nonetheless, its nice to see all 8 tables plus the five outside the poker room, being used strictly for tournaments. 

I've noticed a sharp improvement in the dealers there since my last tournament experience there. The floor also seems to have a better grasp of how to run the events. Floor calls are being made a lot more....well, correctly, then I've witnessed in the past. So all in all, the staff has done a good job. 

One thing that I hate!!!! And I will always hate. Have always hated...and just can't for the life of me figure out why they won't come off of it (some casinos have-finally) is the insistence to make players sit and play 10-handed. It is the WORST! And there is nothing I can stand less than asking for a reason...especially when there are plenty of open tables...and being told "That's just the way THEY (you mean we? Right?) do it here." So...in other words, they COULD change it, if THEY felt like it...but they don't want to. I get it. 10-handed equals fewer tables, equals fewer dealer downs. Equals more money for dealers. Equals more money for the house. The difference is nominal. But for the players? And trust me...I talk to a LOT of players...to a man, we HATE it. 

And if you are like me? And a bit of a "Space-A-Phobe?" I sometimes sit down and within minutes am on life tilt. Players are usually pretty nice, and will square up and allow you your space. But then there are some who are just total dicks about it. They've apparently gotten very used to that extra leg and arm room that was there before you arrived...and they will fight you for it. Making it even worse...years ago, I gave up on trying to sit down and hoping the players would adjust automatically. I started just standing there, and mouthing to the dealer to please square up the table. But for some reason, dealers have gotten very nervous, or scared, or something...where they don't make much of an effort to get the players to move to where they are supposed to be situated. Its frustrating.

And lets not even try to pretend that us poker players aren't exactly the most physically fit bunch of "athletes" in the world either. So jamming ten of us into a poker table is often times a challenge in and of itself. But to have to fight for the space you are SUPPOSED to be entitled to??? I'm guessing part of my problem is how I was wired, as a kid. I had that shithead little brother (btw, he's STILL a shithead...as a 48 year old man) who used to like to antagonize me (usually in the car-on road trips) by touching me. In a way that aggravated me. Can you hear it? Do you have kids? Then this probably rings a bell..."Stop touching me!!!!!" Well he wouldn't stop, I would end up punching him...the car would stop...and my step dad would let me out and try to scare me (I was 8) by telling me I had to walk. I would cry...he would drive away....I would panic...then finally he would come back. 

So...maybe that explains why that guy's knee pushing into my thigh...or that elbow braising my arm every time the guy goes to look at his cards...makes my blood pressure rise. Bottom line...I fucking HATE playing ten-handed. They had a tournament somewhere this year....can't for the life of me remember where it was: it might have been the Beau Rivage, actually. But it was an 8-handed Hold Em tournament. It was MARVELOUS. Yeah, sure, I like 6-handed (6-Max) tourneys...but with 6 it tends to play a little more aggressively than my style agrees with. But 8-handed? Absolutely perfect. And with all kinds of room to enjoy your time at the table. And you know what? For the exorbitant fees these guys are charging now, to sit and play a tournament? Shouldn't we at LEAST get to play in relative comfort? So that's my two cents (not the first time I've ranted on the topic, and surely not the last) about playing 10-handed. 

Moving on. I've spoke on this subject in the past as well. The thing is...as I've gotten older, I've tried to chill out about certain things. To not be the argumentative guy who needs shit to make sense before I will accept them. Trust me...my wife has lit into me more than a few times about my stubborn refusal to accept things that simply lack any common sense or logic. "That's just their rule, Will. Whether you thinks its stupid or not, its their rule. Just say yes sir, or no ma'am, and follow it..."  See...I consider people like my wife to be a little bit "Sheepish" in that they do exactly what their handlers want...with no resistance. And yeah...she goes through life with nary a conflict. Its not a bad recipe for a peaceful existence. I am just not wired that way. Never have been. I don't know if you'd call it a flaw or not. I'm sure some would, and some wouldn't, all depends on the person, and their perspective. 

"The Bag Check Thing." It used to piss me off when I would walk into a casino and they would demand to look inside my bag. It pissed me off NOT because I didn't want them poking around inside my bag. It pissed me off because they would NEVER check a woman's bag. Ever! And some women have some giGANTIC-ass bags! But nope. They skate. Why? I mean, the whole objective is to potentially stop a terrorist attack, right? How fucking stupid do they think terrorists are? I mean...it doesn't take much to figure out how their security runs things. So if I'm gonna plan to blow up a casino, through the use of a person packing a bomb in a bag...pretty sure it's going to involve a WOMAN! And not for nothing...but even a MAN could get away with it...because lets me honest, all we ever do is open up our bag, they take a peek, and say "Okay, you're good...thanks." Any idea how small a little lump of super-explosive semtex is? Or C4? My point is...those bag checks aren't preventing anything. All they are doing is annoying the person being stopped. 

Well, I quit being a jerkoff about the discrimination side of that bag search thing. Now when I approach them at the front...I just simply unzip my bag and show them inside of it, they smile...and wave me in. Much easier. Learned a long time ago I'm not winning an argument with them over it. Right?

I am, actually, going somewhere with this. But first....poker.

I played Tuesday night's $130 Ante Only tourney. I have played a bunch of those online, and thought it would be fun. Plus the structure looked great. I was disappointed that only 12 players showed up for it. Well, I somehow managed to NOT rebuy/re-enter..which is always a bonus. Last Friday and Saturday at the Beau...I played their well-attended 75k $355 tourney...and busted Flight A six from the money, then Played Flight B twice...and busted (again) six from the money...then in Flight C...busted 4 from the money. It was pretty demoralizing to play THAT much poker only to fail to cash completely. But hey...that's poker!!!! The guys at the Beau have come up with a pretty unique format...where you play down to 15%...and between 15% and 10%...each player makes $500. At 10% they bag up. So hypothetically, you can play...cash...then bust and come back and play the next flight. OR...you can play...make the money, but if your stack sucks, you can surrender it, and take your $500 and play the next flight. So in essence, you could actually cash the tournament FOUR times! Get it? It's definitely a cool new wrinkle on tournament payout structures.  Well I cashed ZERO times! But at least I had a relatively good time all weekend. 

So back to the Ante Only tourney. I never really had many chips all throughout. I won just enough hands to stay in the mix. Once we got down to 6 players (it was only paying top three-and the winner received a seat in the $360 Main Event) I started winning a few hands...and was getting more and more confident. The structure allowed for you to really be patient and find good spots. The chance of getting blinded out was pretty thin. But don't tell that to some of the players...who simply played themselves out of the tourney. We finally got to four-handed...and they started talking chop. The guy I eventually got heads up with had a lion's share of the chips, and he wanted nothing less than the seat and a little extra of the prize money. I, of course, said "No dice!" We played four-handed for TWO HOURS. And it wasn't much longer after that when we got heads up. He had a 3.5-1 chip lead on me...but I was honestly not nervous at all. The structure was perfectly conducive to a long grind where I could slowly chip away at him.

Well, we played for two hours...and when I had HIM 3.5 to 1...he tried to trap me by limping in with AK. I raised him with 88. He instantly shipped an amount I was never folding to. I called, flopped a set of 8's...and it was over. $588 (I know, big deal!) and the $360 seat. But more than anything...that wonderful feeling of having overcome a massive deficit...and WINNING. I don't care how many players there are, or how much you win...winning always feels good. Especially in that kind of a long ass grind. Those are perfect for working on your head's up game...which is another reason I don't like to chop. For the practice. 



I didn't go back until Friday...for the first flight of the Main. I busted late in the flight. Barth had come over from NOLA, and he too busted late. So we found a black jack table to decompress; about the time that a couple of our buddies started blowing up my phone about a private PLO game across town. Barth wasn't too keen on going, since it was a bunch of known sharks playing in the game. But I was itching to play a little Omaha. "Come on man...lets just go buy in for $1000 and see how it goes!" Sold. So we headed over there. I was slightly inebriated so a lot of the details escape me. But this IS what I remember: I bought in for $1200. I cashed out for $18,700. In about three hours. Barth had taken a pretty crazy beat earlier and ended up stuck in the game for 2k. So to make myself not feel guilty about goading him into driving us over there, I gave him his 2k back that he lost. And yeah...that IS officially my greatest cash game haul of all time...that should be pretty obvious! 


Not sure which stage of the game this was. I actually got as high as $22k before Barth finally dragged me out of the place before I could lose much more! Thanks Barth!!!!

Well last night...a lot of those same players came looking for me, I guess. They NEVER spread PLO at the Pearl...and as I was bagging up my 95k chips from the early 10am flight (yeah, I actually made it in at 10am after staying out playing PLO til 5am!) I see a PLO game breaking out...with most of those guys from last night. Three or four of them imploring me to sit down and give them a chance to win back their money. Me, being ever the good sport...obliged. I bought in for $1000. Early in the game I lost about $800 to one of the guys...when I flopped top two...vs his bottom set of deuces. All of his chatter led to me thinking he was just trying to bluff me out of the pot...not that I didn't still have outs...but I didn't hit any of them. I was quickly down. I rebounded nicely. By the time the table broke, I had managed to dig out of that hole and finish up a couple hundo. 

So I venture over to the blackjack table. And this is where my night took a turn for the annoying. The lady working the pit, Melinda...was awesome! We shared stories about the Virgin Islands...and she knew my wife from the Beau. So luckily, I had her in my corner when this young-looking kid comes up to me, and informs me that I can't have my back pack on the gaming floor. "Huh? Since when? I've played here several times...always with my backpack...and no one has ever said anything about it. In fact..I have probably played in 10-15 casinos, always with my backpack...NEVER an issue. So you're telling me this is the ONE casino...a place that is struggling to get business...that takes issue with it???"

"I'm just telling you, sir...that its a policy at this casino. We have no way of knowing what's in your bag."

ME: "Well, I would assume that is the reason why, when I entered the casino, they checked my back in the first place, no?"

HIM:  "I'm not sure sir, I just know that you can't have it on the gaming floor. If you would like...you can go check your bag in at the front desk."

ME: "Well, no. I wouldn't like to do that. First, I have a lot of money in my bag. Second, I have a lot of personal items in my bag that I like to keep close to my person. Kind of like a purse. Would you ask a woman to go check her purse in at the front desk?"

Well, I wasn't getting anywhere with this walking, talking, employee handbook...so I asked to speak to his supervisor. "Sure." So here comes the supervisor...trying to act all "supervisoree." I explain myself. He explains himself. He offers to check my bag. I refuse. Tell him I would be happy to cash in my chips if he'd like and go across town to the Beau Rivage, with my bag, and give them my business...since I know they don't have any problem with me having my backpack with me while I play. He finally decided it was okay "this time" that I keep my bag with me. I also asked if he was aware that their casino was currently hosting a poker tournament? That poker players often times carried back packs with them? He claimed to be aware, yes. Yet, apparently this hadn't prompted any kind of opportunity to train his security staff to relax the rules on the "Backpack Thing" during this week. So instead...they just paint themselves as a bunch of amateurs. Because I promise you...NO regular tournament grinder has EVER been hassled about sitting at a blackjack table while on a poker trip....because they had a backpack in their possession. It mostly just made me embarrassed for the casino. I'm fairly confident if anyone on the gaming side of things observed what was going on, they would be appalled. Melinda, the pit supervisor, was obviously irritated by how they were handling it. She tried to keep me calm...and I did manage to stay relatively calm. 

But even after they "allowed" me to stay...they (three of them) lurked behind my table about 25 feet away. Why? Seriously...WHY? What were they doing? Finally, I just got fed up of looking over my shoulder and seeing them standing there with their walkie-talkies. I colored up, and headed for home. Made sure to wave goodbye to the three of them on my way out. 

Think the BS shenanigans were over? They weren't. Some of you might be aware of my obsession with high-end BMW's. Two months ago...I wandered into our newly-opened Mandal BMW here in Biloxi...and laid eyes on a car that floored me. There are only 3 of them in the US currently. And it carries with it a price tag of $168,000. The 2018 BMW 760Mi. 601 Hp. Absolute beast. And beauty. Four door sedan. I didn't think  I could afford it...but after they quickly crunched some numbers...and then plugged in my 755 credit score...they came back with a very affordable monthly payment of $2400. Ohhhh baby! This was literally my dream car. I've been wanting a 7-series BMW for 30 years. I got caught up in the moment...even put down a $10,000 down payment. Everything was signed, sealed and delivered...faster than any car transaction I've ever been a part of. Bo Mandal, the owner, was so excited that a local buyer was going to be the owner of this car. He's friends with Coach Saban at Alabama...and promised to take us to games, and introduce us to the coach in his office! And to maybe go to dinner with coach and his wife. I was so pumped up!!!!





Then the shit hit the fan. First...we couldn't find ANYONE that would insure the car. So I didn't drive it home. Then when I went to get it the next day...it was pouring rain...and I didn't want to drive it through that. Plus we were still trying to find coverage. On the third day, we finally found someone who would insure it. But now my wife started poking around asking questions. When I told her I had essentially bought the car...she flipped out. And that was when she thought it was like an $80,000 car. When I told her how much it REALLY was? Ohhhhhh...the crazy, stubborn redneck Squirrel came out swinging! "You are NOT buying that car, Will! I mean...you CAN...but don't be bringing it back to THIS house! Get your ass up there RIGHT now and get your 10k back!" Well I was too scared to go face these nice people alone...so she came up there with me...and oh yeah...she put her foot down. I was reduced to crumbs. It was pretty embarrassing, and a little emasculating. But she was right. It was kind of an irresponsible purchase...and definitely something I shouldn't have done on my own. Granted...YES I could have afforded it. And YES I would love to drive that sucker. Well...say what you want...the wife won. I lost. No car for me.

So why am I telling you this story, you ask? Because as I was leaving the Scarlet Pearl...I gave the guy my valet ticket...and walk out to wait for my car...and I see this masterpiece of Bavarian engineering. I'd seen pictures of it...but never in person. To my knowledge, it existed mainly just in Europe. Its the M8...sick sick sick. Price tag approaching 250k. 






This is perfect! See him pull up in his Security car? And there is my Tahoe pulling up in the Valet lane? Notice how this car is basically being showcased with NO other cars anywhere near it?

So I am walking around the car...checking it out. Even took some pictures. From every angle. Out of the corner of my eye...I see one of those roving security SUV's drive by. I certainly didn't think anything of it. I mean I'm in the waiting area..and this bad ass car is parked right there next to the waiting area. I never TOUCHED the car...but I was peeking inside the car...mind you, not touching the glass. Simply looking. In awe. A fan of the car! You feel me? Well...here comes this chubby, cherubic-faced security kid who couldn't have been older than 25...and the first words out of his mouth are..."everything okay sir." Now, riddle me this: What the fuck kind of question is that? What would prompt him to ask me that? Is everything okay?

ME: "Yeah...everything is great, why do you ask?"

HIM: "Well, I'm just asking because I see you walking around that car. Is that your car? (no, I tell him) Well then there isn't any reason for you to be looking inside of the car."

ME: "You have got to be REALLY bored to be bothering me about checking out a $250,000 sports car that is parked right up front here where EVERYONE can see it. I haven't TOUCHED the car. I am simply looking at it...and that's causing a big problem for you? I take it it's been a slow night for you?"

About that time, my car pulls up.  Mind you...I drive a nice, 65k Tahoe myself...so it should be clear to him that I simply have good taste in cars, and am not some hobo milling about the garage scheming to break into this car, or god forbid, STEAL IT! But no....after all, we are in Mississippi, and we aren't always dealing with the sharpest set of knives in the drawer. Still, you would think the training at the top of the department would be able to keep these kind of episodes from happening. I mean...that guy has NO IDEA who I am, how valuable I might be to the casino...what kind of day/night I've just had...maybe I won BIG or lost BIG...and now that is the impression they want to leave me with as I'm departing?

So as I'm getting my car, he starts that stupid thing that strikes a nerve like no other...where they grab that mic on their chest and start chattering into it...giving the look that hey are calling for backup. So me..being "triggered" I guess we could call it couldn't resist needling the guy. I am aware the correct move would have been to ignore his stupid ass, climb into my car and drive home. But I was irritated. First by the idiot lurkers at the blackjack table, then by this clown. 

"Ohhhh what are you doing? Calling for back up??? To handle the THREAT of me looking at a car??? Slow night in the parking garage eh? Gotta call in some extra muscle!!????"

So...here he comes! I have my window down...am exiting the garage and this tool box comes strutting towards my car. "Hi! Are you the back up!? Have you come to read me my rights as it pertains to looking at fancy cars parked in your featured parking spot next to valet?" And he goes the tough guy route...."You need to leave the premises...NOW! Leave the premises!!!!" I rolled up my window and drove off. Laughing. Hmmm...I wonder...how did the conversation between those two idiots sound when they discussed that later?

See, these are the kinds of experiences that have caused problems for me in my life. They have been reduced significantly in my elder years...as I have learned to be more tolerant of assholes and ignorant morons. And having a pacifist for a wife who is constantly in my ear about just ignoring the dipshits of the world, that has helped a lot too. But dude...there are some times...where my meter just expires, and I can't stand it. 

Moral of the Story: Scarlet Pearl has a TON of potential to be a really nice resort and casino. The rooms are really nice. The casino itself is nice enough. It has a couple good restaurants. Sure, they are lacking a theater for live entertainment, and their pool is a joke, butted up against the valet drive through lane. But they got their parking garage built finally, and also, after months of being open with out it...got video poker units installed on their main meeting bar. But when you have a bunch of buffoons working in security, who treat their customers...who SHOULD be their most valued asset, like a bunch of criminals, well how do you ever expect the average patron to return? I hope someone in upper management reads this. But, if my history of dealing with casinos is any indicator...what will likely happen is I will come out looking like the bad guy. A disruptive force, someone who is bad for business. Hell...maybe they will even 86 me! That would be one for the highlight reel of all my previous transgressions with casinos!!!!  Surely, someone with a shred of common sense would realize the only loser in that scenario would be them.  "Hey Monkey...why did you get 86'd from the Pearl?"  "Oh because I was playing $25 a hand blackjack and they had a problem with me having my backpack on the back of my chair. And then...after I left, I had the audacity to take photos and gaze with fascination at this amazing BMW. I guess they consider that kind of unruly behavior an unacceptable trait in one of their valued guests!!!!" 



Hey a lot of you know my buddy John Durio, who I've been playing poker with for years. I think some people refer to him as "Angry John" if I'm not mistaken. Not sure how he got THAT nickname...since every time I see the guy he's got a smile on his face. At any rate...I've been promising John I would put a free ad on this blog, touting his t-shirts that he came up with. They're pretty cool. So..if you look over there in the margin you'll see a link to his Donkey Gear! The t-shirts come in black, blue, or grey...and cost $20. He will either hand deliver them, or send them out in the mail. You can hit him up on Facebook, or call him at 504-430-5209. Just let him know Monkey sent ya!

And that, my friends...is a wrap for today. Tonight I'm taking Squirrel to dinner at Ruth's Chris with some friends, and then at the Hard Rock we are going to see the Purple Reign (my 2nd concert ever as a 16-year old kid, with Prince) Tribute Show at 8pm. Should bring back some awesome memories of our youth. Some of you are grinding your balls off today trying to get chippies in a bag to meet us back tomorrow. I am taking 30'ish big blinds back at 2pm to try and chase down a decent win. And if I fail...hey no big deal! My Omaha score more than made this a great week on the felt!!!!


MONKEY


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