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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. 

SEE YA SOON!!!!

MONKEY

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