Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Another Summer of Broken Dreams....

And...just like that, it was OVER. 

Sadness ensues. That familiar empty feeling takes over. Replaying hands in your head is the new normal. Laying in bed...and trying to find the motivation to pull yourself up so you can wander out to the kitchen and start another "back to the daily grind" list of chores. 

No trips to the local BMW dealership. Or the boat dealership. No calls to the guy to come out and give you an estimate for that backyard pool the wife and kid wants. (and dogs) No big score to take the sting out of all those 2k withdrawals you made while in Vegas...convincing yourself that "it's all good...in a few days, you'll be getting it all back anyway!!!" 

For the fifth summer in a row...this feeling has befallen me. Me and many of the 160 investors who joined TEAM MONKEY 2018. Every year...we get that one or two players who seem to have it all going their way. They have undisputed talent, and they've garnered the admiration and respect of our massive rooting section. Nothing seems capable of derailing them. We catch ourselves checking out flights BACK to Vegas for what would be the night of the Final Table. In what would be a glorious day and night spent doing unspeakable things in the streets of Sin City! 

For me...its that "finding out" that is the most memorable of all the summer memories. In a "where were YOU when JFK was shot?" kind of way. Or if your not that old..."where were YOU when the planes hit the towers???" So when I ask...."Where were YOU when you heard that Carwash had busted???" there will always be that moment that you look back upon, and realized that none of our dreams were going to be fulfilled in the summer of 2018 for TEAM MONKEY. That like so many seasons as a Mariners fan...it would be "wait until next year!" Sure....we got a little bit of a financial band-aid for our rooting efforts. And to be honest? I would almost rather we DIDN'T cash at all. To have to now go and process the returns on investment for 160 individuals...is SO time consuming. At least if no one had cashed at all...my work would be DONE! See...if we cashed for enough to have made a profit, at least....then this process wouldn't be painful at all. I like it when people play my pools, or my poker investment groups...and actually WIN money! 

So...where was I, you ask? When I learned that the Carwash has broken down and started mutilating cars as they were passing through the assembly line-like chip cleaning process? First...to answer that, I have to share a little story with you first.

My last day in Vegas was Saturday...and I was all set to fly out on the red eye. It was Day 3 in the tourney...and we had Easton Oreman, Kristen Deardorff and Mike 'Carwash' Schneider all taking to the mound for Team Monkey that day. Fresh off an over-the-phone counseling session with Jason Young...who had fallen short of his goals, and taken it extremely hard...I found my way to the pool, joined later by the aforementioned JY....to try and wash the stank of numerous bad beats off my body. Despite there being a 20% chance of rain...the sun finally broke through at around 2pm. When JY finally arrived I was on my 5th Pina Colada. He got started in his Jameson/Ginger run...and we were off. 

Eventually the pool closed, and we were forced to find out last action before I had to depart. So we up, I packed, and we decided to go play BIG O...and order food from Grand Luxe...using my plethora of comps acquired in $10 increments with every tourney buy in (bustout). Lets just say...what I had was enough to cover BOTH of our meals. Neither one of us had much luck at the table. I gave him a last-ditch shot at making some money...staking him with the understanding he could have 50% of whatever he won. He didn't win. Neither did I. Just another losing session on this trip. 

If you following my tourneys at all...I had the same luck with KK out there that I seem to have every time I play tournaments in Vegas this decade. My last two punchouts came holding KK both times. Making it all the more irritating and painful...was that I lost to K10 and KQ. Yeah. No BS. One to a flush. The other to a straight. That following significant 4-bet re-raises by me too. Whatever. That's poker. Lots of idiots play poker. They pay their money...they have the right to play like complete fucking morons. I think it says that in the rules somewhere. 

The good news...is that cars still run on gas....oil is still far from obsolete, and our property in North Dakota is still up to its eyeballs in crude...so I'm not going to give any "woe is me" stories about going broke. I'll leave those stories to the guys who scrape together every last penny they have...make that venture to the desert...chasing a dream...and lose on the river...to bubble the big one. Yeah...I'll be okay. For me? It's no longer about the money aspect of it all. For me...its just fucking losing. I hate losing. FUCKING HATE IT. Especially when I lose some of the ways I lose. It drives me fucking berserk. All I wanted...was to make my little one-week journey to Vegas...handle my Team Monkey shit..then go play a few big tourneys. Have everything go my way, have my better hands hold up, pull an occasional bluff, suck out a couple times...and then? Be sitting at that table. All alone. Me...my pile of chips, the two winning cards...and that shit-eating grin on my face as I pose for the "money shot" that would announce me as still be relevant in the game of poker. Shit I might even flip the bird and hold up a sign giving an insulting shout out to the person responsible for making me play on the outer circle tournaments instead of the one I keep sending players off to play. Yeah well...none of that happened, kind of like Carwash making it to the Final Table...which would trigger "The Great Reveal!!!!" never happened. 

So uh...we played, we lost. We ate, it was delicious. Took forever...as the food there did all week...which is really a disappointment. Went to my room, called an Uber...grabbed my bags...and headed to the airport, dropping JY off along the way at his hotel. As I was nearing the departure area, our two players were now 41 spots away from making the money. Kristen had 20 bbs, and Carwash was in good shape...with many many more than 20 bbs. I arrive at the gate...ready to take my seat...a seat which was in "Delta Comfort Plus" which I should share with you...is a fucking oxymoron. I know better than to select window seats now. Why? Because planes are essentially a tube. Tubes are round. If you are next to the window...your space is significantly reduced. If this doesn't make sense to you...I don't know how to better explain this to you. But if you are large...like I am? You will, one day, experience this...and you will remember these words...and probably say something to yourself (or scream out loud) like "Ohhhh fuckkkkk...this is what Monkey was talking about!!!!!" By then, it will be too late. 

See...I didn't book seat 19f. Nope. But Delta had a problem with their original airplane...which was an Airbus A-320. They had to replace it with a Boeing 757. Slightly different configuration. They decide to move me to 19f. A window seat. In an exit row. Which means no movie screen. Oh and the seat doesn't recline. Sitting in the two seats next to me? Both very large guys wearing MMA t-shirts. I assume they had come to town for the big fight that weekend. Some of you might be aware that I have anxiety issues. So much so that I've been on Celexa now for a decade. And for those REALLY HAIRY situations....I'm prescribed Ativan. Well...this was to be one of those moments. I pleaded and begged with the flight attendants to do something...ANYTHING...even let me sit in the "jump seat" which is that seat the Flight attendants sit in during take offs and landings. I offered $100 to ANYONE on the plane in a seat with actual shoulder/arm/leg room to switch with me. No dice. Not even sure they tried. As I started to freak out...I could detect in them that they were starting to get...mmm...what's the word? Agitated? I was foreseeing one of those "episodes" we are treated to occasionally on the news. An unruly passenger causing a plane to land early or something. So here comes this little smart ass...who tells me they can book me on a later flight. "Oh...really? That's super. First, your plane has a problem. Then you MOVE me to this seat. Btw...I am 'celebrating' my escalation from Gold medallion to Diamond medallion with this flight. Very memorable! You offering to rebook me is SO accommodating. Except I don't have anywhere to sleep. And I have a wife and kid expecting me home. So no...I will have to decline your wonderfully generous offer!" 

Lucky for me...the Ativan and muscle relaxer-combo kicked in about 20 minutes after we left the ground...and the pretzel position I managed to get my body twisted into failed to prevent me from slipping into a virtual coma. I was awoken by one of the flight attendants once we got to the gate in Atlanta. When I attempted to stand up, I immediately fell over. I'm still not sure if that was because half of my body was asleep from the goofy position I was trying to contort my 51-year old body into, or simply the effects of the pill. With a 3 hour layover...I limped off to the Delta Sky Club (which by the way...is really a nice thing to have access to) and found a nice quiet corner to make my sleep quarters. I got home to Biloxi on time...but in a hurry to get home by 10:18am (ish) so Squirrel could make it to work on time. Well...despite having gotten to McCarren a full hour before my flight...guess who's luggage didn't make it home? Yup! Oh...one of them did. The other one didn't. I'm confused...how does that even HAPPEN? Whatever. Went home. Kissed the wife. Hugged the kid, and dogs...crawled into bed...and passed out. 

That was Sunday. It's now Tuesday. I think 'Wash got knocked out yesterday. But it might have been Sunday. I can't be certain. Because the last two days have been me slipping in and out of the Ativan-inspired coma. Poor Carley...so excited for me to get home...and I keep falling asleep on her. She laid in bed with me, eager to watch some Disney movie...and I couldn't keep my eyes open for more than five minutes at a time. "Daddy! Are you sleeping!!???" "No...promise!!" That went on forever. 

So yeah...back to my original topic of "where was I when I found out" about Carwash running out of chips? Sorry...I know...that was another long, rambling sidebar. If you've been reading my blog either full time...or off and on over the past decade..then you will know that I am renowned for that kind of writing style. So where was I? I was in bed. Duh! Don't have any idea what time of day it was. But I had the WSOP.com site up on my phone...and whenever I was lucid...I would click REFRESH and see what results it produced. They were painfully bad about posting accurate chipcounts...seemingly focused on just reporting the chipstacks of those who's names your average poker follower was familiar with. Everyone else didn't seem to matter. Well...it mattered to 160 of us! So to that end...it was pissing me off...that every time I looked it said "Michael Schneider 660,000  +330,000" and it stayed that way forever. Well...until they erroneously reported him as having 1.9m. Then I got EXTREMELY excited...as did a bunch of people in our investment group.

I have a private page on Facebook...set up with the sole intent of keeping all of the players, their friends and family, and the investors a place to post updates, or share their thoughts. And once word got out that Mike had 1.9m chips...I won't like...knowing how Mike plays...which is very similar to my style of play, especially when sitting on a big pile of chips...I allowed myself to start thinking about flights back to Vegas. My own Day 5 ended 6 years ago...when...with 175 players left...and me feeling extremely confident, and with a very healthy stack (for me anyway) of about 35 bb's...I raised with KK under the gun. The first time I'd seen KK the entire tournament. Most of you know the rest of the story. It's only aired on ESPN since then about.....ohhhhh...I don't know....100 times? Elisabeth Hille (who eventually finished 10th) would get out of line with 10-10...due in large part to Jeff Finkelstein shitting the bed with AK a few hands prior. A guy who had already admitted to being enamored with the TV cameras...he decided to make a big show of committing chip suicide, with everyone at the table...and most likely the Amazon room knowing that she had AA. But hey! He got his moment of recognition for all of America to see. Dipshit. Well he passed her 1.8m chips with that move...and made it easier for her to call my 5-bet all in shove, hoping I had something like AK and she could win the race. Not a problem though. She simply made quad tens and my shot at glory was extinguished right then and there. I used my best acting skills to keep it together...knowing that however I acted at that moment would be seen by everyone...likely for years. Over the years...I've received a lot of praise for how I acted after that brutal elimination. So for once in my life filled with episodes where I DIDN'T use good judgement, I'm glad that I did on that one. 

So...back to the main topic of conversation. Kristen had already been eliminated early in the day. She did all she could to last as long as she did. She managed to move up one little pay jump at least! She did great...and everyone made sure to let her know how proud we all were of her. And I've already let her know that she has a place on the team again next summer. The thing about having a solid woman on the team? Women players are REALLY loyal to each other...just...as a gender. You certainly don't see that in men. At all. So having Kristen, and Jacqueline on the team this summer...resulted in a lot more shares being purchased...and a really amazing rooting section. I like that. It's a great element to have on the team. 

So, Wash never had 1.9m. I guess that what happened was that the chip counter erroneously combined the stack of the player not sitting at his seat, with Mike's. So for awhile there...Mike was a bit of a beast, and in the top 50 in chip counts. About that time...I fell asleep. Then I woke up....clicked on REFRESH...and couldn't find him anywhere. Hmmmm...what the.....don't even tell me......set over set? Aces vs Kings? The orbit from hell??? Lord knows I've had those at that stage of a tourney! You only get 3 or 4 hands max...and you go from a big stack to the felt like THAT! It suckkkkkkkkkks!!!!!! 

I kept searching. Then thought...shit...guess I better click on RESULTS...and pray that I don't see his name there. And....there it was. 226th. Michael Schneider. $42,980. Had he made it just ONE more spot...to 225th...it would have paid another $7k. OUCH! I checked my phone. No text from him. I know him. I know what he was feeling. He's like me. He was probably in a very dark, cold, isolated place...seething. Not wanting to talk to anyone. I get it. I didn't bother him. Didn't even think to. I hope no one else did, but I can't be sure. Eventually the texts started coming in...asking me what happened. Fortunately for me...I had passed back out. The last day or so have been spend lamenting the "wrap up" blog post....then subsequent report to the 160 investors letting them know what they are getting back....which...after doing all that math work last night, is exactly $100 per share. So a 50% return on investment. Which means I get to facilitate the disbursement now of about $40,000. Fun times. 

So last year....the "wrap up" blog post was, I think...the last time I posted a blog until June 1st of this year. Nearly 10 months in between posts. Its true that I just seem to be lacking the same desire to write as I used to posses. I don't know why. I really don't. My mind is still constantly generating crazy thoughts and ideas. I still have that "bug" to go sit down and play poker. Maybe not as much as in the past. Today's players have managed to diminish that somewhat, both with HOW they play...and HOW they approach the game. Sometimes, its just too much for me to tolerate. Plus I find myself getting impatient a LOT faster than I ever did in the past. They have an event coming up here in Biloxi...at the Beau Rivage...that I will try to play all of. The competitive fire still burns in me. I like to win. I enjoy winning. And I guess there is a tiny little part of me that wants to prove to people that I still have what it takes to win a poker tourney. Maybe that is childish and stupid...maybe. I don't care. 

For now...I will wait for football season to arrive. My busy season! When all of my pools and fantasy leagues kick into high gear! When the road trips to go watch the Crimson Tide, the Huskies, and the Seahawks start. Maybe this fall...there will be (finally) a flight out to Seattle to see my Mariners in the MLB Playoffs! Carley starts 1st grade in a month or so. There is lots to do around the new house. Yup...Summer Poker Camp is over. It's not the 7-week variety that I enjoyed, or suffered through...from 2005 to about 2010...this is a much shorter version of Summer Poker Camp...but it still dredges up all the same feelings...both before it starts, and after it ends. Poker is a game that is really good at leaving lasting marks emotionally. For better or worse. And I have my own fair share of both. 

Thank you to all the investors who joined in to make the 2018 TEAM MONKEY poker adventure one of the most exciting in the five years I've been doing this. I'm extremely proud of my 8 selections to this year's squad...and thank them for their incredible contributions as team members! After dragging my feet to get this year's team launched...even waffling on whether I would do it or not...this summer's team really showed me just HOW important this thing is, to so many people. So I am hereby pledging to everyone that I will come back in 2019 with a renewed vigor...and a promise to get the ball rolling no later than April 15th! Get your player applications ready! In 2019...I will be gunning for at LEAST NINE team members...maybe more. 



Monday, July 2, 2018


Good morning, from sunny Las Vegas! 

It's the BIG DAY in poker player's lives! The opening of the WSOP MAIN EVENT! In about 30 minutes...Day 1A will kick off, and out of 7 players...we have just ONE of our players going today...Jacqueline Britton! She is ready too!

Last night I had all 7 of my players show up ON TIME...and hungry to kick some ass. Got all their contracts signed, gave them their 10k stack, got them all registered, their seat assignment/receipt sent out to all the investors, t-shirts passed out, Team Photo taken, and finally...we all gathered at Carmine's at Caesar's for a GREAT dinner party!!!! Everyone had a great time, the bill was about HALF what my bills at Maggiano's always were...and we STILL had more food than we could ever fathom consuming. I didn't even get around to ordering my Carmine's favorite...the Tiramisu for dessert. And that was my ONLY regret!!!!
Definitely NOT my finest effort in the field of photography...but you get the idea!!!!

I was going to meet up with a few of the guys later and play in the Big O 8/b game at Venetian, but when I went by the desk at 10:30 the list was 15 deep. So I get to my room...turn on the TV...switch the poker list channel...and see only THREE names on the list. Huh? Called down. Yup! They called through the whole list. Damn. Should have stayed there. But I didn't. And then started getting tired. Then started thinking how much nicer it would be to throw on my C-Pap breathing device...fill it up with water to keep me from getting "Las Vegas Nose" that I have made famous out here...and get a solid 8 hrs of sleep. 

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!! My nose STILL feels awesome...meaning...no dried up sinuses...dried clumps of blood all up in my nose...the one thing I truly HATE about being out in the desert! This new CPAP machine is great! Breathing for 8 hours with that built in humidifier is the SHIT!!!!!  

So today I plan to play the last flight of the $600, 750k guarantee here at the Venetian that starts at noon. One huge bummer. They moved the tournament area to...well...freaking UTAH basically!!! It's a long long walk. Back in their convention area. And the registration situation is even worse. They don't even OPEN until 10am. Two hours before the tourney. Which translates to: Get ready to wait in line. I don't like lines. AT ALL!

But...I am pretty excited to get back into big tournament action! It's been way too long! I would love to come out here and make a nice splash. If everything goes to crap...I will bounce over to the Wynn and play their $1100 tourney. But this tourney at Venetian is a SuperStack...30k in chips...and I usually don't burn through that many chips fast, unless I just have a calamitous level or two. 

So...check THIS OUT. I've got a shot at getting an 8th and final player on the team. We are trying like crazy to make it happen. My choice for that spot is between a long time buddy of mine who I met over a decade ago playing in Lake Tahoe. A guy who used to just tear UP tournaments...and has a game well-suited to the long structure of the main. Well, he ...like myself, got off the full time tourney grind, settled down, had some kids...and took a real job in the oil industry. He's kind of been my eyes and ears in North Dakota where my family has 700+ acres of oil property under lease with an oil company. Well he recently moved to Bakersfield (ohhh lucky guy!!!) so he is close to Vegas now. He has been asking me for awhile...and he is DEFINITELY a worthy candidate.

The other guy...is sitting down in Phoenix...just waiting for the call. He is young...seems like a great kid. Comes highly recommended from a few of my current players. He's had some nice scores, and frankly...I really liked his application letter. Also a young family guy...so he's got good motives for playing and making a good score. In case you haven't figured it out...I really enjoy putting people on this team who I would LOVE to see make a big score because of what it would mean to them in their life. Most of my investors? They aren't into this to get rich quick. They know the deal. They KNOW that for any of us to make a "nice splash" as investors, we really need one or more of our "horses" get down to the final 4 tables and beyond. It hasn't happened yet. We've had a couple get close. And I have no doubt that if I keep doing this every year...it WILL happen!!!! But if it doesn't? It doesn't. As long as our players give us a great ride, and a little bang for our investor BUCKS!!!!

Are you interested in getting in on TEAM MONKEY 2018? I have...as of this minute....sold 377 TOTAL SHARES. 350 sent those 7 players. I have now sold 27 of a necessary 50...that would allow me to "make the call to the bullpen" to one of these guys and fulfill their dream of chasing the millions!!!! Oh! There is a FB Messenger popping up from a "Tom" requesting two shares....so make it 379!!!! 21 to go!!!! 

EMAIL ME at ThePokerMonkey1@aol.com

I will be checking my phone and everything all day and keeping in the loop! I gotta go grab a shower then make that long journey over to the Sands Convention room to get my own personal poker odyssey started!!!!!



Sunday, July 1, 2018

Twas Main Event Eve...and Vegas is a Boomin!!!

Well I'm quite the loser! Got in yesterday at a reasonable time...even won the "Upgrade Lottery" on my Delta flight and got to fly 1st class...my favorite. That after spending my 3 hour layover in Atlanta in the posh Delta Sky Club...which my Gold medallion status gives me free access to. So basically, a wonderful day of travel. Got all checked in without much fanfare. And then...NEVER left my room! Not to play a nightly. Not to play cash. Not to gamble. Not even to eat! I actually ordered, from Capriatti's sandwich shop...my favorite sandwich on the planet, "The Bobbie"...which is Thanksgiving on a Hoagie! Had it delivered...thing showed up about 9:51pm. Ate half of it...went into a food coma...woke up at 3am...ate some more....woke up at 8am...ate the rest!!!! How is THAT for a Las Vegas tale!!!???

SO since then...I have been weeding through all the emails, and all the payments...and coming up with some numbers...while sending out notice to all the current investors and players that I have named a SEVENTH player to this summer's team...after crossing over the 350 shares sold hurdle late last night. We now are sitting on 360 shares sold...with the first of three Day 1 flights starting tomorrow. I am fairly confident that we WILL get to the same 8 players we had last year. My only real question is: Will they make it into the Team Photo!??? I am pontificating between two players. And one of them IS in town...while the other one is in Phoenix...which is, I think, about a 3 or 4 hour drive from here. Additionally, I only brought 75k with me...enough for 7 players...and then some money for myself. Well...if we DO add an 8th, I'm going to need to visit Wells Fargo when it opens tomorrow so I can pull out another 10k for that 8th player...and probably a little more for my own tournament play while I'm here.

PLEASE...allow me to introduce to everyone...someone MOST of you Gulf Coast poker players know already, KENNY "TRUCKER" MILAM to the team for a return visit from last year. Why did I pick Kenny? Since he didn't cash? Well...a few reasons. (1) I like Kenny! (2) Lots of people LIKE Kenny! (3) Me and LOTS of people, investors included...are aware of Kenny's style of play...and KNOW he is fully capable of making a deep run in the main event. (4) Kenny almost...and really SHOULD...have cashed last year...going out right before the money, which really crushed me emotionally. (5) Kenny has had a rough go of things the past few years...and a big score would do GREAT things for him in his life...and one thing I love to do...is help people get on track when things aren't going so great. We have a few people on the team this summer who kind of resemble that..without me revealing too much. And as a guy who has had my own shares of ups and downs in my life...I always hold out a lot of sentiment for people who can use a little hand. Or in my case...a freakishly large hand!!! :)

We have close to 150 investors now...a record in the five years I've been doing this. A great great support unit behind these folks. With the special group set up on Facebook (private group) it also opens up a nice space for the investors, players, friends and family to talk among each other, answering questions....showing support and giving frequent updates. I can't believe that I waffled for months on this and almost DIDN'T do it. What was I thinking? Now I'm beyond psyched to get this thing going again!!!!

FIVE PM...it's TEAM DAY at the Rio....then at 7:30...TEAM DINNER at Carmine's. Gonna be a great day!!! 

If you would like a last second PIECE OF THE ACTION on this summer's team...I have a hard 40 shares left to sell. $200 per share. Just email me if you are interested...at.... ThePokerMonkey1@aol.com. That's it. EIGHT. I won't go beyond that. Just not enough time. If I sell all these shares before the team meeting...I WILL name that person...and hopefully they might be able to be here to be in the TEAM PHOTO! For now...I am heading to the pool!!!!!!