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Friday, June 1, 2018

The Bear is Out of His Cave!

Well...HELLO! Remember me!??? So back on February 21st...after a 6-month absence from blogging...I sat down all ready to finally post something. This snippet below is as far as I got. And now...it's June 1st. It's summer! 

{6 months long enough? That's how long it's been since my last entry on this poker blog. Far and away the longest stretch in the history of this scribe. I don't even know where to start. It's truly amazing just how much can transpire in half a year. Do I talk about what's happened in MY life? Do I talk about what's happened in the world? And give my commentary on all of it? Do I even attempt to delve into poker-related shenanigans? I suppose if I were going to do that, I probably should have thrown up a post back in January during the Beau Rivage's last tourney. There was actually some decent material that week to write about. But...alas, I once again dropped the ball. Or, rather, the pen. Or more specifically, the keyboard.

And sadly...I only started this entry...at 3am, for one reason. Because, as someone with OCD...who is a true "To Do List" aficionado...if I can just commit the act of STARTING something...then I am guaranteed to actually finish it in a relatively acceptable amount of time. Hopefully tomorrow. For now...I'm off to bed. }

Yeah...well...so here we are. June. So much has happened in the last 10 months. SO much. And with the Main Event in Vegas set to begin in just a month...I haven't even lifted the first finger to launch this summer's team of WSOP Grinders...aka "The Minions." In peeking at the schedule, I see they have moved up the starting date of the Main even further this year...and instead of Day 1 a, b and c taking place over the weekend...its now a M-T-W affair. Weird. In fact Day 1C is on the 4th of July. So if I am going to do it for a (is this correct???) 5th consecutive year...oh..it is, I pulled up the spreadsheet. 4 players in 2014, 5 players in '15, 6 players in '16, then 8 (bucking the escalating trend) in 2017. So yeah...this WOULD...be the 5th year in a row. 

FULL DISCLOSURE. It's been a long year. Long, taxing, stressful, pain-filled year...and to be completely honest? I really do NOT WANT to do the team this summer. I really don't. And it's for no other reason than I'd just like a chance to DO NOTHING. To sit on the back deck of our new home we just moved into this spring...and look out over our 4 acre back yard...and the pond back there...and drink something cold, eat something tasty...watch Carley run around in the back yard with our dogs or her friends, and just enjoy the summer free of any responsibilities. People just don't, and to be fair, CAN'T...fully comprehend what an undertaking it is putting this team together. For starters...I typically start talking it up in about March! I have generally had the team pretty well in place by NOW. Then its just a matter of getting all the Team Schwag produced and dispersed, and collecting all the money from investors...then making MY plans to get out to Vegas to orchestrate everything. I know it sounds like a quick and easy mission...but wow...it's NOT!

Over the past month I have been getting bombarded by a LOT of poker players, even investors (both past and those wanting to get in for the first time) asking for details on this year's team. I've even had a few people offer to lend their assistance with the endeavor. [If you are one of those and I didn't respond...sorry, I just didn't know what or how to say what I might have said!] 

Here is why I can't just "turn it over" to someone else to run. For 25 years...I have run sports pools of all various types. In that time I have grown a network of people...from probably 25 when I started...to about 2000 today. Along the way I added people from my various career fields...one of those being poker. So when I decide to do something of this magnitude...it involves reaching out to those 2000 people whose trust I have earned over the years. See...despite being owed more money than I care to even try to digest, from over 100 people...I keep slugging away with the pools. Trust me, the GOOD definitely outweigh the BAD. By a long shot. The BAD just make it a little frustrating at times. Well...I have never, not ONCE...failed to pay a person who I owe money. Hence...when doing something like "The Minions?" There are a lot of people sending me a LOT of money...and people don't just DO THAT...unless they KNOW 100% that the person running the show is someone they can trust to not just run it properly, but also be trustworthy when it comes to handling the money, as well as disbursing the winnings, whatever those may end up being. 

I am smart enough to know that if I were to just allow someone to take over for me...that they would have an extremely hard time getting all of my customers who I have built relationships with over the past three decades to just jump on board without any trepidation whatsoever. And so...if this is going to happen...it's going to happen with me and me alone MAKING IT happen. 

So? I get it. The feedback has convinced me. And once I get the ball rolling...it will get done, and get done right. I pride myself on NOT doing things "half-assed." We might not have the same number of players as we have been getting the past few years. Maybe a smaller team. Maybe NOT? I can't predict the way people will respond. The economy...we are told..is robust. Right? Wrong? I don't know. Depends, I guess, on who you are listening to...and if they have motivations or an agenda at play. And players? I always have a large pool of players to choose from. But I like to choose those who are HUNGRY and WANT to play for my team...under my banner. I'm not just looking to give someone a convenient stake. That's not what this team was started for. I get people asking me left and right to buy their action for the World Series. Typically...if I'm going to buy ANY action on ANYONE for the WSOP...it's going to be MY team. And I will buy a LOT of it. 15 shares last year alone. I like to put my money into things that I have poured my heart and soul into. 

I've been extremely proud of the poker players who have played on my teams the last four years. We have yet to have anyone make that "BREAKOUT SCORE" that defines a player for his/her poker career...but man, we have had a few of them come close. Some brutally unlucky breaks here and there...which truly IS the name of the game in poker (most of you know of MY bad luck break at the 2012 WSOP with 155 remaining...when my KK lost to 10-10 and ended my dream) or we might have had some MAJOR returns on our investments. But we have had a LOT of people cash! In fact...Wild Bill Phillips, who has played on all four squads...got deepest in our first year...then 'cashed' in back to back years before falling just short last year. Christian Iacobellis, who has represented us the last two years...has also cashed in BOTH trips...and is an odds-on favorite to represent the squad again. And as part of my unwritten and unofficial policy of "Thee Who Goes Deepest Gets an Invite to Return Next Summer," Chris Canan holds that title from last year's team. 

I know that if I DON'T do the team...the closer we get to the Main Event...the itchier and itchier I am going to be getting. Not having my team there would expose a big void in my life for those two weeks. The excitement of having over 100 investors on board...cheering like crazy on our Facebook Team/Investor page...always adds so much to the experience. I know if I don't do the team...it's going to really dig at me. So...with that in mind...LET 'ER RIP! And lets see how much earth I can move in just 3 or 4 weeks!!!! Adding to the limited time...I have to take a trip June 21-25th down to St Thomas to celebrate our one-year anniversary of opening 'Bernie's,' It's also an excuse to celebrate the birthday of my business partner and best friend, Barth Melius. I haven't been down to St Thomas since the week of Thanksgiving...when I took the family down there. Point blank...it SUCKED. I truly wish (as did the girls) that we had gone to Maui instead. The flight alone would have been less. Paid around $900 per ticket. And the condo we had to rent was grossly overpriced. The one that we rent was still out of commission due to the hurricanes that ravaged the island. So we overpaid for a place that had power that came and went. Had no clean running water. No internet. No television. It was awful. Yeah...the beach was nice. Unless you ask Squirrel. Some people are completely immune to sand fleas...and some get devoured. Put my wife in that second category. She got annihilated by them...was covered head to toe in what looked like a bad rash. And she itched like a maniac for 5 days solid. She was mIsErAbLe!!!! 

The GOOD NEWS....is that our bar wasn't affected at all...so we were one of the only places operating on the island. 

In a show of generosity and just basic human caring...Barth decided to treat a TON of people (10,000 was the last estimate I heard) to free meals in the months after the hurricane. Power line workers, FEMA reps, National Guard, local police and military, insurance adjusters...they all knew Bernie's was a place they could come in for a cold drink and a warm meal...and it really made a lasting impression on everyone on the island. I'm extremely proud to be not just business partners...but friends...with such a good guy who has such a kind heart. It was the right thing to do, at the right time...and we are now starting to reap the benefits from the rest of the community down there. 

On a side note...Barth was forced out of his old location in Metairie...where his bar 'Out of Bounds' had been for 12 years...because his landlord...who had previously run a failing bar in that location before letting Barth have the space and run it successfully...decided after meeting a girl half his age...that he would like to try being a rock star, albeit an aging one...like, THINK: Keith Richards!!! Throwing her the keys and letting her "run her own bar" while he reaped the benefits of being a wanna-be Hugh Hefner (rest in peace Hugh!). So yeah...Barth didn't get his lease renewed...and was forced to quickly find a new location AND move out within 30 days. It was a total jam job. But Barth being Barth...he sucked it up..utilized his resources, and found a location. A better location. A two-story location...one that once we are able to get the upstairs done (the lower level opened for business again months ago) once permits are finally granted, and build out is completed, will serve as a fantastic venue for the frequent poker games and tourneys he likes to run. Well as it turned out...he needed a little cash flow to make the move...so I was extended an offer to come on board as a part owner of Out of Bounds, too. Of course I jumped at the chance. So now...I have a nice piece of two very successful bars (with food) that are about 2000 miles apart!!!! Oh, and....Clarence? The putz who forced us out of the old location? Months later...he STILL hasn't opened "his" place.

In February...after a conversation about what to do about our "Carley/Guest Room" problem...as it related to all of Carley's toys...Squirrel and I ended our discussion with me telling her..."Look, I never thought this house was going to be our last house. I've always wanted a big yard. I hate having neighbors 20 feet away. I'd like a pond for the dogs to play in...maybe enough land to have horses someday. If you think Carley is outgrowing her room....go! Go find a bigger house!" So what did she do? She called up our favorite realtor....who a LOT of you know...Jonathan Griffin...who used to be my "go to guy" when he managed the local Buckle for about 15 years. Well now he is this town's SUPER REALTOR. I mean...that title doesn't come lightly...I actually WORKED in real estate myself for awhile when I lived in Atlanta. It wasn't for me. Well..it suits Jonathan perfectly, and he is GREAT at his job. Didn't take him long to find us a few places to look at. The first one we looked at...we both LOVED. Had an amazing back yard with a beautiful deck and pool. Secluded. 3 acres. Only one problem. ZERO closet space. IT was a deal killer. Next up...the house we ended up buying. Woolmarket area. 4 acres. 1.3 acre pond in back yard. 2500 square feet house. Two-car garage. Bought it the Friday before the Super Bowl. But didn't move in until after March Madness! Hired some handymen and spent a butt load of time and money getting it to where Squirrel wanted it before moving in. 

Then, once we got moved in...it was time to work on the OLD house to get IT ready to rent out. Two months of having no one in there left a mark financially...but when it came time to rent it out..it was immaculate. And with all the improvements, upgrades and repairs that I've put into that house...my renters are basically getting a brand new home. They begged us not to rent to anyone else...as they needed a couple of weeks. I let them have it...and they are thrilled. Hopefully they turn out to be even HALF as good as the tenant I have renting my house in Pensacola. Another property that has seen a TON of money spent on repairs and upgrades this year. 

Carley just graduated from Kindergarten! It was a great year. I spent lots of time going there to eat lunch with her...and volunteering for stuff at her school. I got to know all the kids in her class really well. It was a lot of fun. I love hanging out with little kids. They are so funny. So innocent. And they ask the silliest questions that just crack me up. Next year...Carley will be moving from North Bay to North Woolmarket. I hope the school is at least close to as good as North Bay was. And the kids as nice. In the meantime...she is home with Daddy for the summer...but next week she starts a Summer Camp Program through North Bay that is limited to only a small number of kids. Squirrel went there at 4 in the morning...after her and I had been out the night before for a concert and gambling...suffice to say...she was miserable. But she got the spot!!! Carley will be joined by 4 of her best friends...so she should have a great time. 

What else? Alabama won the National Championship!!! Again! My Mariners are a game out of first place!!!! The NBA is rigged...obviously, as the Cavs and Warriors hook up in the Finals for the FOURTH year in a row. That's never happened in the history of the league. My Rangers missed the NHL playoffs for the first time since Carley's been alive...but the 1st year Vegas Golden Knights have done the absolutely unthinkable...and not just won their division...but are sitting in the Stanley Cup Finals...with the series tied at a game apiece headed back to DC. Crazy crazy crazy!!!!!!


Trump is still president...YUP! The crazy lunatic liberals still haven't impeached him. I've had to back away from any and almost all communications with liberals. At first...it was kind of fun. It was fun to kind of poke the bear. But it was also an attempt to try and win over people that were (in my opinion) lacking in political knowledge. But as time went on...and it became evident that the lunatics who I find are infected with TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) I learned that they were simply incorrigible, and were in no way going to be moved from their position on Trump. Occasionally...I will happen upon a thread that grabs my attention...that deals with some kind of political thing...and I will catch myself..before it gets too deep...or too incendiary...and I pull the ejection handle and get the hell out of there. 

In case you don't KNOW my position on politics, and/or Trump? In my life...I've never thrown my loyalty to any ONE party. I think the people who simply pledge themselves to a party...no matter what...are idiots. Narrow-minded, non-independent thinking morons. I have basically thrown my support behind the candidate who I think is either the right person for the current moment...or has the policies I find most appealing. Now...in my 40 years of following politics, I always found that MOST politicians would say one thing to get elected, then a whole different thing ONCE elected. So it's been refreshing, actually, to see that Trump has kept almost ALL of his campaign promises. Some more than others. Some we are still waiting on, of course...but hurdles stand in the way. I felt that Hillary Clinton was (and still is) one of the worst human beings who ever held any office. I think she is corrupt to the bone. And I wasn't interested in seeing a continuation of Obama's 8 years of fuck ups. And so...I voted for a guy who I consider to be an egotistical douchebag. Who has a knack for saying the wrong things at the wrong time. Who is immature. Who badly needs a Twitter "handler." Who exaggerates like no one I've ever seen (which just leads the other side to scream LIAR!!!!) ...and for what reason? Deep-seeded insecurity? I don't know. So yeah...he's flawed. Some would say WAYYYYY FLAWED. But? He's the right president at the right time. He makes things happen. He's a risk taker. He's not afraid to swing for the fences. He has reestablished our country as a STRONG nation that other nations fear again. And with fear...comes respect. Just as I've been my whole life...you can't always be overly concerned with everyone "liking you." As long as they "respect you." And as much as you may hate Donald Trump...its hard to deny that we are benefiting from him being in office from a lot of angles. And if you can't? Well..then you are just "one of them" and please don't try to engage me in political chit chat.

So..back to poker. Geez...I wouldn't mind getting out there and actually playing something myself. I was looking at the schedule for the Beau Rivage...just this week...and it looks, unless I've completely lost my ability to read....like they quit doing their $50k Guarantee tournament twice a month. Which would/will really suck. Because now a days...it takes a lot to motivate me to leave the compound to go sit with a bunch of annoying poker players to win a, meh...."decent" amount of money. Its about the only prize pool locally that I can't find the motivation to go play for...and now it might be toast. I hope not. Maybe they just took the summer off. Actually, it looks like the poker room is about to move (again) because they just voted to allow states to decide if they want to allow sports betting. And all indicators are pointing to the Beau being in the Sports booking business pretty soon. That should be fun. Not sure just HOW much of an impact that will have on the local economy. Hopefully its a much-needed shot in the arm for everyone here on the coast. 

[update: I dropped in to edit a few items today, and should add that last night I saw Derek from the poker room...and he informed me that the 50k is NOT gone. I simply looked at The Poker Atlas...which he says is always wrong, despite his numerous attempts to get them to correctly report their tourney schedule. The wife and I also played a little poker...an hour BEFORE the show, and a couple hours AFTER the show. I was +750 before the show...and -600 after the show. The crippler was flopping a full house...holding 55 on a board of J-5-J. I was pretty certain by the turn that the other person had a jack. SO it ALL got in there...and wouldn't you know? They hit the 1-outer Jack for QUADS to felt me? That suckkkkkkkkked!!!! ]

OKAY. This is an OPEN CALL for people who are interested in either (a) PLAYING on my 2018 Summer WSOP team....or (b) INVESTING in the team. Shares cost $200. The players get to play for 35% of what they win. The buy in isn't included in that. If a player "wins" a total of, say....$75k? $10k goes back to the investors. The players winnings are $65k...and they get 35% of that. Investors split up and share 65% of ALL COMBINED WINNINGS. I collect all monies (from investors). I hand the money to the players. I observe them buying in. I take a picture of their seat receipt. They all sign player/investor contracts. We take a team photo. If I have time...they will all receive team "gear" in the form of hats, t-shirts and either polo shirts or hoodies. Again...if time allows...since I dragged my feet so bad this year. I have an ace in the hole named Jacqueline who might...MIGHT...be able to make something happen along those lines!

If you would like to participate as either a PLAYER or as an INVESTOR...I ask that you email me at ThePokerMonkey1@aol.com. Yes...I still have America Online. Don't judge me. I have my reasons. They are lame, kind of...but still...my reasons. Okay...go ahead and judge. I probably would too! 

I will now attempt to blog on a regular basis this month...and update the whole process. Keep everyone in the loop on where we stand and where we are headed, or trying to get to. Just getting this blog written was the first obstacle, the first hurdle...in getting this effort restarted for another exciting year. 

Tonight!??? Me and Squirrel are having yet another "Date Night!!!" That's about 6 or 7 now this year! Dinner at BR Prime...a little gambling...then off to see one of my favorite comedians, Jim Gaffigan!!!!  And thank god...I still have a few favorites who haven't let their politics force me to scratch them off my list of "favorite performers." In 2018...it seems to be a dead heat between "Who will do or say something to ruin their careers" and "Who's politics will cause me to never support them ever again???" What a year. What a time we live in. See ya soon!!! Promise...much much sooner than 10 months!!!!

SENOR MONKEY

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