Monday, July 31, 2023

Yes, I'm a Monkey, NOT a bear. But out of hibernation I am!!!


GREETINGS!!!!!  (disclaimer: This particular entry? I wrote it over a month ago. I have since made a 30-day trip to Vegas and have a TON of new content, a LOT of it, actually poker-related...which this first entry is nearly completely void of poker references. If my politics annoy you, or if you simply hate the mere mention of it...you can just scroll on past all of it!!!!) 

Yes! It's me! It's The Monkey! I am not dead! Or in a coma! Or in prison! (not yet anyway!!!) Yikes! More about that last one, later!

I know I have gone from being a pretty consistent, sometimes entertaining writer...to being one of the biggest disappointments ever. EVER!!!! And for that, I apologize! I've found myself lagging on a handful of things in my life over the past year or two, and I won't lie...I'm not proud of it. Do I have an alibi for it? An excuse? Something I can lean on to let myself off the hook?

Well, I'll be honest...and most of you who know me-REALLY know me, know that I am NOT and have rarely ever BEEN...someone who won't accept accountability for my actions. My ACTUAL actions...not the ones that are alleged or rumored. Those ones? Yeah, I'll fight people to the death on some of those...because there is one thing I can't move out of the way for:  my PRIDE. 

Which, frankly...has made living in the United States these past 6 years rather difficult. Never in my life have I been called so many hurtful names, or been lumped into a group by people who enjoy categorizing people they don't agree with. I've heard a lot of them. Racist! (who hasn't been called a racist lately!!???) A homophobe! (despite have a gay sister who I have a great, and always have, relationship with! Along with a number of other friends throughout my life) A xenophobe! Huh? Now it's a transphobe! Again...a big HUH? Its just laziness on the side of the name-callers. First, any kind of PHOBIA...means that you fear something. Pardon me...but the day I start fearing sissy boys dressed up to look like ugly girls? I'll just go ahead and take my own life...because clearly, life on Earth in 2023 is just too difficult!  Naw...I don't fear those folks. And being constantly told that I and others like me HATE these people? Why, that's just silly! It takes a lot of energy to HATE another person. Why would I HATE those people? If anything, I simply feel sorry for them. As I see it, 95% of them are mixed up, confused, and most likely struggling to find an identity...or acceptance from the people they desperately want to be recognized by. So again, I just feel sorry for them. 

See...this is where the big issues seem to lie. The people on the WRONG side of this whole "grooming" argument, they don't seem to be able to win any debate by relying on any facts. So they muddy the waters, adding in dirt...and usually the dirt is just pure lies. "Don't Say Gay" bill that Florida passed? Said nothing of the sort in it. Nothing. But the people on the wrong side of it? They will throw whatever they need to into that stew, to make Governor DeSantis look like Hitler. Banning books? Oh they've really gotten out of control with THAT one. Yeah...I think the last time I checked the number of books that were removed from libraries of K-12 libraries was 12. Yeah. 12 books. And why were they removed? Well...let me just say this; if a parent brings one of those books to a parent/school board meeting...and reads from THAT book, and has their mic cut, and told that what they are reading is INAPPROPRIATE to be reading in THAT environment? You know...a meeting between ADULT parents and ADULT school administrators...then how in the HELL is it appropriate for children K-12 to be reading?  You know the answer:  IT ISN'T!  And that...is the extent of the "book banning" that these lunatics have been raging about. Last thing, and I will get down off my soapbox....because I know you didn't tune in to listen to me rant about politics...but as a parent? And a "friend of people with children" I think this is immensely important. 

While a young man living in NYC in the early 1990's, I ran around with a bit of an eclectic crowd. After all, I was a wanna-be actor, waiting tables and/or bartending to make ends meet. I went out to clubs, a LOT!  While I was, and always have been a proud heterosexual...I never, not once...had a single issue with those who were not. So long as they respected ME? And my lifestyle, and my boundaries, and I respected theirs equally, we had ZERO issues between us. To be honest, I preferred going out with my gay friends. They were usually better dressers, better dancers, had better manners, tipped better, were WAY funnier...and basically were just more interesting to talk to...unless of course they started talking about their sex lives...which they NEVER did! I can recall a couple of fun parties, one at the world famous Copacabana night club in Manhattan...where I attended a drag show. They were always very funny. I wasn't offended by them. I knew what they represented. I say this...because I think there is this mentality with liberals that if someone ISN'T a Democrat or Liberal, then they automatically think that everyone on my side of the fence HATES transexuals...and probably anyone/everyone in the LGBTQ crowd. That's just ignorant. We don't. It's just NOT our chosen lifestyle. 

Now, things can get a little hazy around that sentiment. And I will admit, my sister and I have gone around the tree a few times about that in the last 3 decades! But we do it civilly! And respectfully! It's called 'healthy debate,' and there seems to be an overwhelming lack of it these days in America. I've never had to tell, or ask...my sister not to glom all over her partner whenever she is visiting. She just knows NOT to. Ironically, I have never pawed all over my wife, or any girl I dated in the past (before my wife) when I was around HER in HER home. It's just RESPECT. That's all it is. My feelings about all of it? It's a lifestyle that people choose to live. FINE. I don't care. I've never cared.  Where I have the problem...is when someone, ANYONE...and that INCLUDES the media, the TV programmers, the advertisers, and anyone in the entertainment industry...decides to make it their agenda to PROMOTE a certain lifestyle. Because by doing that, you are boldly saying, whether you actually say it using words, or just pictures, or videos...that you approve of, and suggest...that a certain lifestyle is preferential over other lifestyles. I don't cry out needing a "White Entertainment Channel!" I don't cry out needing a "White History Month." I don't demand a "Straight Pride Month!" Nope. But to have so many people (most of them-if not ALL) lobbying for (essentially) these alternative lifestyles to be normalized to the point they are trying to normalize them? I'm sorry...but THAT is what I have the problem with. 

An argument I hear liberals making in regards to our kids...and what they see, hear and witness, is this one.  It's the job of the parents to TEACH their children whatever it is they want them to know. Well...in some regards, yes..it is. In others? Nope. Sorry. You see, if I turn on the TV at dinner time, and there is a pharmaceutical commercial on for something used for HIV treatment, and my young daughter sees two men kissing? And she reacts to it, and asks "Daddy, why are those boys kissing?" I don't run and hide from it. I address her question. And I answer it as it SHOULD be answered. With a dose of reality in today's world. And she accepts that answer. She knows her aunt is gay, and she doesn't judge her one bit. She knows her uncle has Down's Syndrome, same deal. She treats him like gold. Because she is a great kid, with a great heart. Who isn't judgmental of people.  THAT is what me and my wife are proudly raising. So, what's the big deal? I will tell you the big deal. We'll start with these transexuals making trips to schools for whatever reason. Story hour being one of the most talked-about reasons. WHY?  Why is this even a thing? What is the GOAL? Is there some kind of END-GAME? Lets be honest....everything in life has some kind of goal. Firemen go to schools. Why? To teach kids what to do in case there is a fire. To tell kids what it takes to become a fireman (fireperson!). Clearly...there is a reason behind their visit, right? Same thing with police! With astronauts! And a lot of other professions. I've heard them proclaim that they aren't trying to indoctrinate kids. Yet, there have been certain events...I can't name them specifically and won't try...but they include parades, festivals, and other 'public events' where, once the decision was made to exclude children from the event...those groups of people denying to have an interest in grooming/indoctrinating/appealing to children? They suddenly cancelled. CANCELLED. Really? WHY? Why on Earth would they do that??? Does it make sense? 

Can anyone tell me the benefit of a grown man, dressed up like a female...going to the school to not just read books to our kids...but to also explain certain sex acts to kids? What I can't believe...truly...is that we are even HAVING to ask this question in 2023. I remember a time when ALL OF US...or at least 98% of us...would hear that something like this was being discussed, and freak out! "OH HELL NO! Don't you even THINK about exposing my child to THIS sick, twisted shit!!!!"  But today? There are literally adults, adult parents....who are perfectly FINE with this! How is that even possible? Look, I get it...kids are going to grow up. They are going to be exposed to things. They are going to learn things, or find out about things. But the argument being made to "teach them about it while they are young so they UNDERSTAND more about it?"  Um....NO....a BIG NO....to that theory! I don't need my child knowing/learning about HETEROSEXUAL things! I think we all had Sex Education when we were in school, yeah? Do you remember what grade you had it in? I recall having it in 9th grade. NINTH GRADE! You know...about the time when we just started dating people, or fooling around? Hmm...seems to me, that kind of seems, or felt, like an appropriate time to be teaching about that sort of thing. Right??? Why is it so hard for some of these people to comprehend that? 

Furthermore...if my child decides, down the road...that he or she is, or THINKS they are....gay? Fine. But...I don't want their "decision" to have been influenced by a flood of gay (or transsexual) lifestyle stuff being thrown at them everywhere they turn around. A young mind is VERY malleable, like molding clay. It takes very little to indoctrinate a young mind to think on something you WANT them to think. And I won't expound upon this...but this is (and HAS BEEN for years) going on right now on nearly EVERY college campus in America...and it's scary as hell. A bunch of loser professors who have basically been immersed in the academia world their entire lives...have never really been a part of the REAL WORLD...you know, the one where you go work a REAL job every day for 25-30 years, raise a family, then retire and do what those people do? NO...they are constantly in an environment where they have gullible minds...who through society's urging, have come to a place THINKING they are going to be taught something, by these great minds! So they place a value on those people that really isn't as deserved as some might think. What part of what THEY have done with their life should be ANY more respected than anyone else's path? I literally consider the "college experience" to be a trap. A "re-education center" for our young minds. 

You hope that you raise your children in a way that they aren't gullible. That they are of strong moral conviction, and cannot be easily swayed. Cannot be made to feel bad about themselves, or inferior, and are pushed into changing something about themselves to make them appear "better" to a group of people they probably shouldn't even BE trying to appeal to in the first place. I'm not going to lie...of the things that scare me most in life...the challenge of being a parent in this day and age, is the scariest. I would rather go 10 rounds with the Cocaine Bear. 

Ha! Kind of went down a really deep rabbit hole there, didn't I? I took a left at Albuquerque...which in this case was "What excuse do I have for not posting more blogs in the last year or two" and ran with it! I got lost in the "Forest of Labels and Name-Calling" and forgot to look back! Okay well, I've resurfaced! Lets get this train back on the tracks...if you are still here. I know some of you poker players ARE dyed in the wool liberals, and after a couple of eyerolls, you may have already left the building. And that's fine. My blog isn't and frankly never HAS...been for everyone! I get that. And between you and I...I always find it particularly ironic that those who for years have claimed to be the party of tolerance, and understanding, and inclusivity...tend to be the most INTOLERANT people you will ever want to meet. Isn't that sort of bonkers? 

MY EXCUSE for NOT WRITING MUCH:   (this is about where I left off when I wrote everything up til this point. I'll just pick up where I left off) 

(1)  I'm just lazy . And the older I get, the lazier I get. For some unknown reason, which surely must be biological or something, every day around 2pm....I get very sleepy and seem to require a nap of about 90 minutes. This really gets in the way of a lot of things I'm trying to get done on any normal day! I recently was encouraged by my wife to get on testosterone. It seems to be all the rage lately, along with the shots to make you lose weight. Well, I did, back about 8 months ago. I really don't notice much in the way of increased energy. 

(2)  Motivation. First off, I don't play anywhere close to how much poker I used to. And with the website that I blog on being a poker-based website, it stands to reason that I SHOULD try to occasionally offer some content that is centered around poker. I'm not stupid enough to think that people just tune in to see what I have to share about my life! 

(3)  General Malaise.  This one, if I'm not careful...could also be confused with, or lumped into a category with, depression. Now, mind you...I don't have thoughts of suicide. But, and I think this is 100% having to do with the "Audit From Hell" that the IRS has had me under for 3 years now, and which has expanded beyond just an audit...I think there are at times, feelings of almost hopelessness. Hearing all the possible things that 'might' happen, it paints a pretty bleak image of my near future. And when I allow those thoughts to roll around in my head...and even allow my imagination to run wild on further possibilities, it's hard to regroup, refocus, and just write about something. I'm not sure if that makes sense to any of you. Maybe it does. 

BUT...those are basically the reasons, I think...why I've been so absent when it comes to posting blog posts. My trip out to Vegas this summer, which had lots of ups and downs, numerous peaks and valleys...was enough to kind of re-light my fuse when it came to creative and/or imaginative writing, especially as it pertains to poker. I played a LOT of hands, over a LOT of hours. I saw a LOT. A lot of it, worth writing about. So lets go ahead and get into it!!!

Rewind to my previous post before this one. I was kind of leading you on a journey...as though it was being told from a 3rd person point of view. I was describing my 10-year absence from the WSOP, and to an extent, the effect that it had on me. Then, I don't know....life (or something) happened, and I got sidetracked, and never got back to it. 

We'll go back to that place, only this time, it WILL be ME telling the story, and I will try to be brief, as  a lot of water has flowed under that bridge since early July of 2022. 

One late afternoon in July last year, I was pressure washing my brick shed. When I work outside, I always have on my BOSE headphones, listening to music usually. Occasionally a podcast. I only tell you this, because some might wonder how I heard my phone ring over the loud noise that a pressure washer makes! That's how. It interrupts whatever I'm listening to. And on this day, when my phone rang, I looked down to see the name 'Jack Effel.' (yes, I do have Mr. Effel saved as a contact. We go back close to 20 years now...so....yeah!)

"Whoaaaa...what the...." I thought to myself. But by the time I got the pressure washer turned off, and had a chance to push the button to answer the call, well, I hit the red button on accident, hanging up on the call. "Oh GREAT!"  Well, no big deal, he called right back. I won't get into all the details of the call, that certainly isn't necessary. But basically, it was time to move on from the past, he said. New building (from Rio to Paris/Horseshoe) and a new vibe. A good time to start fresh. It was a pleasant phone call. And I graciously accepted the invite to return to the WSOP after a 10-year absence. 

My little (not-SO-little) pet project that I've been doing since 2013, where I send a deserving group of players who typically wouldn't be able to fund themselves, or who lack the network of people to draw from for selling pieces of their action such as the one I have...had kind of hit a snag when COVID stopped everything cold in it's tracks. "The Two-Year Scam" that the world's leaders orchestrated on all of us lowly peasants to exact the absolute MOST amount of power and control over us that they possibly could, the effects of which are still being felt far and wide. You'll forgive me if I can't remember EXACTLY what transpired during those two years. I want to say that the first year (was that 2019?) EVERYTHING was cancelled, and the following year (2020?) I think they moved the WSOP to the fall and played a smaller schedule. Is that correct? Then did things return to normal in 2021? I don't know, I probably have part of that wrong. 

At any rate...right around September of 2020, I got hit with a tax audit. Now, I've always kept pristine records where my poker is involved. The issue, it turns/turned out, was the pools that I run. That I've been running, for close to 25 years now. I've never been able to get an accurate answer from my CPA as to what (if anything) I am expected to pay in taxes for my pools. Since I take such a low commission for running them, and almost always roll that commission that I DO make, into the pools in the form of entries...I really only thought that the lone thing I could ever have to pay taxes on, was if I happened to win a pool, which frankly...doesn't happen THAT often. I don't think anyone out there is making a living from winning sports pools, or fantasy leagues! Well, the IRS sent a guy who had no idea how poker works, or poker staking...which I've gotten into quite a bit the last ten years...and he certainly had no idea how pools, especially MY POOLS...work. So, essentially, I'm like an escrow account. All the people send me their money...and say it's football season, and it's for a Survivor Pool? I hold that money for pretty much the entire football season. Then, when someone wins...they get paid out. Well, the IRS seems to want to count that money...when it is sent to me, as income! Taxable income! Add to that...say I put together a staking package for a player? The total package for, say, a circuit event, is $50k. Maybe I get 20 investors for that package, including myself. So maybe $40k gets sent to me, right? I give that player the $50k, and off he or she goes to try and make some good scores. Suppose they brick everything!?? Which, yeah....totally sucks! Well, our friends at the IRS? They are calling that $40k that was sent to me by all various forms of payment....as INCOME! Again...TAXABLE income! Which it certainly wasn't. There are other elements to this mess, but those are, for the most part...the biggest elements. So yeah, three years in and it's still going. I've moved from one lousy lawyer who only managed to make things worse, to one of the best in the south. And have added a forensic accountant, and an expert CPA to handle the RE-filing of my taxes from 2015-2022! Doesn't that sound like a great time????

So...yeah, how does that relate to poker? Well, because with all of that going on...I wasn't certain (things are a LOT clearer now) what kind of risks it might be presenting for me to collect a bunch of money from people to send players off to Vegas. Would they come swooping in, in the middle of the night, in their all-black, whisper-jet helicopters, kicking in doors and taking everything they could get their hands on? You know...like the FBI did at Mar-A-Lago!??? Yeah, no...not EVEN going THERE! But the responsible side of me, said that it was probably best that I NOT put myself, my reputation, and other people's hard-earned money in a precarious spot. So I backed away from doing the WSOP Grinders aka 'Minions' thing last summer (2022). But that's when Bill "Wild Bill" Phillips took the initiative to keep it alive, and make it happen. I put my two cents in, did a little promoting, and let all of MY people know that Bill was/is one of the only people I would EVER trust to pick up the baton...or whatever they call that stick in the relay race...OMG...what IS that called? Whatever...you get the picture. Bill is someone I would trust with my life. So it was very easy to get behind his efforts, and support him and what he was doing. 

Because Bill runs this website that I post this blog on, and because him and Gene have gotten into having GCP start sponsoring poker tournaments throughout the south, most notably up at Pearl River in Philadelphia, Mississippi, he also has his finger on the pulse of poker MUCH more than I do. Having a better idea of who the potential "Grinders" are for the team was extremely vital. And since I've really cut back on my poker playing, I didn't consider myself to be at ALL qualified to make those kind of decisions. So last year's team, he did a marvelous job of assembling a talented cast. He dealt with all the payments and the headaches that come with that sometimes-ordeal. On a couple of occasions, he would text me...expressing an appreciation for what I had endured over the better part of a decade putting that team together. It's always nice when someone can walk a mile in your shoes and then come talk to you about it. 

Unfortunately, none of last year's team managed to make the money. Now, don't take this the wrong way...but as the organizer of this beast? And I'm saying this as someone who myself always buys 10 to 15 shares, personally. And since I (nor Bill, of course) ever take any kind of fee/commission for putting all this together, if the players don't make the money...I LOSE money, just like all the investors. Now, what I was going to say will sound weird, maybe. Unless your the person who has had to do what I'm about to tell you about. When doing this team? I would rather we either make a LOT of money, or at LEAST as much as we invested....or NO MONEY. Why no money? Am I nuts? Here's why! Most years, especially the last 5...when it was at it's most popular, and we got anywhere from 7 to 10 players...you're talking about the sale of a LOT of $200 shares! I almost always have between 150-200 individual investors. Yeah. No kidding. And it's hard enough collecting from all of them, and documenting all of it on one spreadsheet. But now, try to imagine...say we have two players that min-cash, or maybe a min-plus cash (like, 3 pay levels in)? Let's say the total amount won was...ballpark....$75,000. Well, the buy-ins of $10k come right out of that. So there is $20k into the prize pool. Next the investors get 65% of the remaining $55,000. So, another $35,750. Total investor pool of $55,750. Lets say we sold a total of 400 shares. That means that the per share return on investment (ROI) would be $139.37. But in the interest of making things 'clean' I just round it up to $140 per share. So if you bought ONE share for $200? You are getting back $140. You lost $60. If you bought TEN shares? For $2000? You are getting back $1400. You lost $600! Everyone lost money. 

Now is it always a good thing, for people to get SOMETHING back? OF course it is. And yes, it definitely helps when it comes time to do it again. But for me? The "payer-outer-guy?" It suuuuucks. Because it means sending out a TON of checks to people. And that is usually VERY time-consuming. Just getting everyone to send me their mailing address is sometimes a herculean task. You wouldn't think so...but it is. Three months could pass, and an investor might email me, saying "Hey Monkey...I still haven't gotten a check from you for the poker thing."  To which I'm forced to respond, "Yeah, well...that's because I didn't send you one yet...because I have no idea where to send it, because you didn't respond to the email where I ask everyone that wants to get a payout...to send me their CURRENT mailing address. No idea how that always manages to slip through the cracks for so many people...but it does. 

SO then...if NO ONE makes the money? Guess what that means for Mr. Monkey? ZERO of that aforementioned ordeal. Basically...I'm DONE...with EVERYTHING...until football season comes back around! Which is where I am right now...because this year's team...which...by the time the dust settled, and with me back into the full swing of things, again WITH Bill's assistance, we managed to sell another 400 shares. Our 8th player...literally came in on a plane the night before the start of DAY 2! Yeah! for real. Players could enter on Day 2. Pay their $10k. Get a 60k starting stack...which at 400/800 was basically 75 big blinds. That topic? Was one of great discussion at this year's event. There was a LOT of people talking about sparing themselves the 12 hours of potential land mines of Day 1, not to mention the mental toll it takes on you, and just coming in on Day 2 and starting with that stack. Granted, you miss out on the opportunity to chip up big on day 1. But as most of us realize...it really doesn't matter HOW many chips you manage to accumulate on Day 1..or even Day 2 for that matter. Because once you get into Level 12 and beyond...those big stacks that you spent ALL that time putting together, can be decimated SO fast. Sometimes, literally...in one or two hands! There is definitely a very specific way to play that tournament, with it's big starting stack, and it's 2-hour blinds. Barring a plethora of horrible cooler hands, or just brutal situations...you really SHOULDN'T ever go bust on Day 1 of the Main Event. But, I say that...and every year, roughly 20-25% of the field DOES lose on Day 1. So again, the argument to just skip Day 1, and come in on Day 2...it's extremely tempting. 

HEY! Here's an idea! Since I don't want to hit you all with ONE RIDICULOUSLY LONG ("TLDR") entry on my first time back in over a year....lets just click on the PUBLISH button now. I'll write the rest...and there IS a lot for me to talk about....from BOTH last year's Main Event...which (spoiler alert) had a pretty decent end result for me in my first time back in 10 years, to the poker I played right AFTER that (Choctaw in Oklahoma, then the Million Dollar Heater in Biloxi) and how I fared in those. Then I will get into the this summer, and the 100's of hours I played in the month I spent out in Vegas. The close calls. The numerous deep runs, that mostly ended in disappointment, sometimes to gut-wrenching cooler beats. To the BIG discovery, and gut-hunch that I took a gamble on, and how it paid off for me. It's been an exciting summer...and as I get ready to embark on my very first trip to Cherokee Casino up in North Carolina, a place I've always been wanting to play, on Friday...there will be plenty more to add to what is already a LOT to write about. But lets just let y'all get your feet wet first with all of this! Then just check back every 2 or 3 days for updates, or 'new content' as the social influencers call it!!! I promise I won't make you wait over a year again!!!


Monday, August 15, 2022

PART 2...What Became of Monkey...And Will We Ever See Him Again???


(continued, Part 2)

Shortly after collecting his $44k for finishing 175th in the 2012 WSOP Main Event, "Monkey" made his way back home, to his newborn child, Carley and his wife, Squirrel...and little was heard from him until he showed up that fall in Hammond, Indiana (Chicago, basically) for a circuit event. Refreshed and seemingly riding a cloud of jubilation at having become a father..."Monkey" made the money in one of the early events and was in the midst of another good start when suddenly he was surrounded by security, escorted from the property...and not seen or heard from again. No one, including "Monkey" himself knew why he had been ushered off the property. 

He would eventually learn what had transpired, and with it being a mere misunderstanding between something he said, and what a dealer from Belarus thought she heard...had led to a complaint being made against him, and it being followed through on. He had been 86'd. Banned from all WSOP properties. He returned to his hometown. Numerous attempts to clear his name, and remove the ban against him were met with resistance from the other side. Eventually, "Monkey" came to terms with the realization that he was never going to be allowed back in. He would spend the next ten years playing at events that were held at non-WSOP properties, having some mixed results. His life with his family, and businesses that he had become more involved in seemed to take over as the top priority in his life. Poker became a bit of an after-thought.  

Poker on its faced continued to evolve in the following years. The names began to change. The "vets" or "TV pros" as they'd come to be known as...were becoming fewer and farther between appearances. Monkey himself started a "team" of players...who would allow him to live vicariously through them at the WSOP Main Event, since he was unable to compete himself. He sold shares to friends, family and poker acquaintances; the price being $200 per share, with every 50 shares sending a player to the Main Event. Monkey didn't make anything off of this venture. As an investor himself, he only made money, if THEY made money. The first year he did it, 2014, he had 4 players. As each year came, the team increased by one player, until in 2018, it had a record 10 players. The results were mixed. While numerous players made deep runs, with some even making the money, there was never enough won to earn everyone an actual profit on their investment. But the experience was a positive for just about everyone involved. 

Sadly, the arrival of the Wuhan Corona Virus, a gift from China, wrapped our world in a state of hysteria...cancelling just about everything important on our planet. Sporting events. Concerts. Theatrical productions. And of course, poker tournaments. Hell it even closed down casinos. Businesses were forced to close, which caused many of them to go completely OUT of business. Basically, two or three years of pure incompetence at the highest levels wreaked havoc on the entire planet. Economies were destroyed. Mental health was taken over the edge to places never visited before. And yeah, lots of people died, from a virus that still hasn't been proven to have been either created or having naturally occurred. That is, and will likely always BE...up for debate. A lot probably has do with which side of the political fence you live on. 

With everything being cancelled or forced into schedule changes, Monkey was forced to shelve his poker team...which has come to be known by many as "Monkey's Minions." But all things being equal, and with the amount of "stuff" on his "To-Do-List" piling up seemingly more by the day, having a break from the annual summer project came as a bit of a relief. The smoke from Covid-19, which it had somehow taken on the newer, more politically-correct name sometime around the time Joe Biden was "elected" the 46th President in November of 2020...had finally lifted for the most part by the spring of 2022. People were finally returning to work, under the guise of "new job creation" by the new administration. And after a year where the World Series of Poker was moved to the fall in 2021...which just felt kind of weird, it was announced that everything would return to normal for the summer of 2022. In one exciting new twist, the yearly event would be moved...from it's old stomping grounds at the RIO Resort and Casino, where it had resided since the "poker boom" arrived in the early 2000's...to Caesar's-owned properties Bally's and Paris Casinos, which were side-by-side and offered plenty of convention space to stage the event. The move also provide the players with a lot more dining options, as well as hotel options that were within walking distance of the venue. 

When it came time to decide on what to do about the "Monkey's Minions" for the upcoming summer...Monkey made a tough-to-make decision. About two years ago, Monkey received a notice that he was being audited by the IRS.  This came as a bit of irritating news, but having kept perfect poker records over the entirety of his career...he was more or less prepared to be audited. Where things turned tricky, and annoying...was when the sports pools that he has run for close to 25 years came under the microscope. Lots of money coming IN....and lots of money going OUT. Shocker! People join a pool. Then people WIN those pools. People pay to play! Then they get PAID when/if they win! But to the IRS...there has/had to be something nefarious going on there...something the US Government felt like he owed them a chunk of change for! And so, the audit got more and more detailed, finally graduating to an actual criminal investigation. Able to see where he thought this might lead, and having read a lot of books lately that detailed just HOW the US Government intended to start going after tax "evaders" due to the onset of crypto-currency and other "work arounds" to avoid forking over all their hard-earned money to a bunch of bureaucrats who seem to lack ANY ability whatsoever to spend taxpayers money responsibly...yes, I am aware this is a really long run-on sentence....Monkey made the smart move and hired a highly-reputable tax attorney to represent his interests and hopefully prevent him from getting railroaded to a federal facility where everyone wears the same outfits and eats the same meals a few times a day. 

Monkey decided that holding a bunch of other people's money; albeit in escrow (essentially) and being tasked with potentially have to sort out a bunch of prize money and tax forms AFTER the event concluded...combined with a "to-do-list" at home that never seemed to get any shorter, he made the difficult decision to turn over the entire endeavor to really the ONLY person he could ever foresee having the ability, the patience, the motivation, and the trustworthiness to handle. Bill "Wild Bill" Phillips was offered the chance to "take the reigns" from Monkey and essentially run the team for the Summer of 2022. He accepted, and quite frankly did a great job with what ended up being 7 players. When one of the players was a late scratch, Bill himself stepped in to take his place, and wound up being the only player to make the money. It was the 2nd or 3rd time that Bill had made the money in the Main Event...all as a member of Monkey's team. 

Lost in all the lead up to the Main Event...was a phone call that was received by Monkey on the evening of June 7th at 6:36pm. While outside pressure washing his shed...he heard his cell phone ringing through his headphones. But by the time he got the washer turned off, and his phone out of his pocket...he had missed the call. When he looked and saw who the call was from...he was basically in shock. "Jack Effel" was what the screen was telling him. "Huh?" he thought. Then his phone rang again. Once again, Mr. Effel calling. To summarize, Effel was calling to bury a 10-year hatchet between him and "Monkey." In a very positive, upbeat fashion, he offered to allow "Monkey" to return to play the WSOP, not just the Main Event...but all the properties. "Monkey" was really mainly interested, however, in just ONE tournament...the BIG ONE...the one he's had to watch for the last ten years with a mixture of emotions. Having had that obstacle lifted, and the green light to return being illuminated, left "Monkey" feeling overwhelmed. When he went inside to share the news with his wife, the news was received with a cautionary level of happiness. 

For "Squirrel," his wife...Vegas has been the site of a lot of marital angst over the past two decades. True, there have been many happy times enjoyed there together, including their marriage to one another. But it also had come with a lot of frustrating moments, not the least of which extended to the poker table. A lot of sleepless nights had been encountered while her husband was out in Vegas grinding at the tables at all hours of the day and night. "Monkey" had come to realize that this lifestyle of a poker pro was one that placed a lot of stress on a marriage. That a lot of what he had put her through in the previous years was unfair to her. He had no interest in subjecting her to more of that. And with a baby girl who was now a 10-year old girl...a lot has changed in their lives. So its safe to say he wasn't expecting his wife to do cartwheels when hearing the news that he was now allowed to return to Vegas to play the WSOP Main Event. She feigned happiness, but the true emotion was clear to see for "Monkey." When he went back outside to finish the pressure washing, she met him out there to apologize for not "acting happier" at the news. Apology not necessary, he told her. He fully understood, completely. And it was most likely that understanding, that moment of honesty, that made his upcoming trip west easier for her to stomach. 

Monkey was out of "jail" and ready to return to the site of some of his greatest AND most disappointing moments in his poker career. The team of 7 was fully funded and assembled in place. His business partner in his bars was en route to Vegas to take a swing at the Main and some other events as well. His long time pal, Joe Cutler from the East Coast (South Jersey area) was also headed out to play the Main, and was looking forward to reuniting after 10 years of not having hung out together. Like "Monkey," Joe had settled down and got married, worked in the family business while backing down from the full-time poker grind...and even banged out a couple of whippersnappers...who are easily the center of his universe! Not just Joe...but several of Monkey's other "poker buddies" had taken the same course in their own personal lives. You know...becoming ADULTS!!!! :)  

In the next part of this series...Will "Monkey" Souther will take over himself, and share his World Series Main Event experience with all of you!   

Sunday, July 3, 2022

"There's This Player Everyone Used to Call Monkey"


[I went back and forth in my head, debating with myself, on which approach I would take in writing this post. First person account? Third person? Past tense, present tense? I don't know. If you've never known me, heard of me...anything? Or whether you've known me quite well over the past 10-15 years or longer...you'll hopefully comprehend what you are about to read]

Once upon a time, there was this poker player the people called "The Poker Monkey." He was brash, loud, extremely opinionated, controversial, often obnoxious...especially if he didn't like you. He was also incredibly sarcastic...so much so, that if you didn't possess the ability to sufficiently interpret sarcasm, you might think he was directly and intentionally trying to offend you. It made for some very spicy encounters at the poker table. But on top of all of that, "Monkey" was a guy who LOVED the excitement of playing poker tournaments. He came fired up. He quickly made it his mission to chat up his table, getting to know everyone while introducing himself. Some thought this was ploy, that he was essentially throwing out a "dragnet" to gather information on his table mates. Others thought it was just "Monkey being Monkey." Somewhere in between those two, lies the actual truth. 

For close to a decade, "Monkey" was a regular on the poker tournament circuit. Initially, when he started out...he was a quintessential "grinder" on the circuit, playing in whatever tournaments he was able to get himself into by winning Sit-N-Go's. Rumor has it, there has never been a player who has registered more SNG's played than "Monkey." And in a place he himself coined "Sit N Go Land" there is a diminished popularity in the current tournament landscape in these single-table satellites utilized to help players get into tournaments by spending a little to gain a lot. I'm not sure WHY this happened...but it definitely did. Poker went through a transition from a game that virtually anyone could get involved in...to a game where you either needed deep pockets, an investor with deep pockets, or a vast network of friends, family or poker acquaintances who were willing to buy a "piece of your action." Anyone who has played poker long enough, knows that the variance in poker makes it extremely difficult to play full time and be profitable. 

This guy, "Monkey," he was lucky. He'd been running sports pools for quite awhile and had developed a pretty big network of people who trusted him enough with their money to get involved with his poker-backing packages. It enabled him to keep playing on a regular basis. Eventually, one person decided that they wanted ALL the action, and became Monkey's full time backer...from approximately 2007-2010. This would prove to be the most successful period of his poker career...where he would win a couple 6-figure scores, and close to 10 5-figure ones. It was a great 5-year run for "Monkey."

Then 2012 came along. "Monkey and his wife "Squirrel" had a baby...Carley Grace. She remains their one and only child. Carley took center stage in their lives. Monkey's full time backer decided to retire from backing semi-crazy poker players. "Monkey" became more of a stay-at-home Daddy...and less of a Poker Monkey. When he did find time to venture out and play...it was done by selling shares to his network of followers. The results were mixed. Poker suddenly wasn't as fun for him as it used to be. The players didn't talk as much, or like being talked to as much. The rules had tightened up significantly. SNG's were almost non-existent. Nightly tournaments that had been so much fun in the "hey day" of poker...were not as prevalent. It was...just different. 

In the 2012 WSOP Main Event...after 4 failed attempts to ever cash in the Big One...despite making it to at LEAST Day 3 in every one that he played, he finally broke through and made the money. As a matter of act, he made it to Day 5...with a real shot at making life-changing money. With "Squirrel" sending him photos of Carley Grace to remind him what he was playing for...he patiently picked up one more pay spot after another...while sitting on a comfortable chip stack of about 40 big blinds. Then...with just 175 players remaining...acting UTG+2..."Monkey" peeled back his cards to see KK for the first time in the entire tournament. He had wondered where they had been. He'd had AA a bunch of times. But KINGS? Not once. He put in a 2.5x raise. The action folded around to Elisabeth Hille, who had just won a massive pot against a young kid who admittedly had grown infatuated with the prospect of having his hands shown on ESPN. Those cameras were all over the floor..as we were down to just 18 tables. He made a horrible, just ridiculous play with AK...when all of us KNEW 99.9% that Elisabeth had AA. The kid couldn't get away from it, and Ms. Hille inherited his entire stack. 

Her inheriting his stack, is what made it possible for her to play the hand the way she did against "Monkey." She admitted that she'd grown aware of his tight play all day. That when he raised in early position, she wasn't sure how good her 10-10 was. But now that she had chips...she could afford to play around a little. Once Monkey's raise made it to her...she bumped it up even more. It folded back around to "Monkey" and upon inspection of his stack size, relevant to the money now in the pot...it was obvious that he had two moves; fold and live to pick up more spots, and question the fold for the rest of his life probably...or shove all in and see what happens. He chose the right option, option B. It was a relief when he saw that she didn't have AA, or for that matter...even AK. All of that relief went down the drain however when the dealer put a 10 on the flop. It did, however, come with 3 hearts...and with Monkey holding two red Kings...he was not out of it yet. He WAS out of it on the turn however...as Hille made quad tens. "Monkey's" 2012 WSOP Main Event was over...busting in 175th place. Hille would finish just shy of the final table...in 10th place. Little did "Monkey" know...but this would be his final appearance in the WSOP Main Event for awhile. Maybe ever. 


Monday, July 19, 2021



Hi everybody! Hope you're all having a wonderful, safe summer. If you happen to be a kid still in school (unlikely-and if so WHY are you reading MY blog!!!??) or a parent (more likely) of a kid about to be going BACK to school, the summer is quickly coming to an end. Which as far as I'm concerned, is perfectly fine...because that means one thing!  FOOTBALL SEASON! It's going to be a pretty exciting season in Tuscaloosa with a handful of unknowns at several positions to find answers to. As for the NFL, well, I'll always be a Seahawks fan until the day they put me in the ground...but without Drew Brees around, it's going to be a little bit harder for me to root for the Saints. He was the one shiny object that kept me interested in them. I certainly won't be rooting for them very hard if Jameis Winston is their starting QB. I've hated that guy since college. Guess we'll see how it all shakes out. 

I would say I'm ready for summer to be over...so we can get into the cooler season, but all of us living in the south KNOW that would be a huge, fat lie! I've had my sprinkler system turned off since May! No joke. It hasn't run ONE TIME. I've never seen so much rain. Half of my yard I can't even cut with the riding mower because the ground is so soft it completely tears it up. So if I want it cut, I have to either delicately use the push mower...or in some cases, a weed-eater. Everyone is having all the same issues. I know one thing for sure...I better not hear ANYONE complaining about a drought for a LONG time! Oh...except for those 'nice folks' out west! I'm sorry, but maybe this is just a little bit the poker player in me, but I'm a heavy believer in karma. As far as I'm concerned, everything bad that is being thrown at places like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, L.A., and a few other places out there...they've brought it on to themselves. 

Not sure if I mentioned it in my previous blog post...but over the winter I let my wife talk me into going in on a river house with her brother. He's got a wife and three boys, and of course they have a ton of friends, as well as relatives in the area. Meanwhile...we live 6 hours south, have only Carley...and might make it up there 3 or 4 times a year, max. They live 25 minutes from where the house is in Rogersville, along the Tennessee/Elk River. We are there right now...our second trip this summer. It's a quaint little place, but the property itself is fantastic. We are surrounded by really nice neighbors. My brother-in-law already had a really nice ski boat, so I chipped in for some nice used wave runners so the kids would have something to keep them entertained. I really didn't think (because of my bad back) that I would get much (if any) use out of them...but as it turns out, they are super-stable and really don't beat up the body as much as I anticipated they might. I've been out on them several times, mostly to pull the kids around on the big tube. About six years ago, my family rented a house for a couple weeks on Lake Chelan out in Washington State. I bought a wake board off of Craig's List while we were there, and actually got up on it and did a fair amount of wake boarding that week. So I brought the board (which I hadn't used SINCE that trip) up here to the river, and had hoped to be able to get up on it and do some boarding. Pffft. No such luck. I tried and failed about 5 or 6 times before I finally gave up. The next day I could barely walk, my hamstrings were destroyed!!! And my forearms hurt like hell too from all the failed attempts to get up. 

Even our Dogs like to TUBE!!!
Me and the girls, 1st Trip out on the WaveRunner!

Hilarious guy I met from England playing PLO
Me and my Sweet Girl!

Squirrel and Daisy out on the boat!

The New Resorts World Casino

The two best things in my life!
Who remembers my 'Ol Buddy Kai Landry?
Well, he came out to Vegas and got married!
It was a really great night! 

That's called....GETTING OLD! And it sucks! If I have ANY plans to be able to do that kind of stuff in the future I am simply going to have to get my ass back into the gym. Maybe one of the two that I'm being automatically debited each month for $20!!!! One thing I've learned about getting old; it's really easy to fall into a lazy routine. You start putting on weight. You find yourself wanting to take naps all the time. It gets harder and harder to get motivated to do little projects on your "To-Do" list. I've really been battling all of those things, and I need for it to END. Like...soon! There are things I WANT to do, in my spare time. And there really isn't anything keeping me from doing them...other than a lack of motivation. So I think once Carley gets back into school the first week of August, I'm going to get my butt in gear and start jump-starting my life!!!

POKER!  Why yes! Yes I HAVE been playing some poker. And in addition to that, I've gotten back to staking, and putting together staking/investor packages. It started with me getting a "hall pass" from Squirrel to go out to Vegas last month to play the big $10m guaranteed $10k buy in event at the Wynn. I stayed at Encore, and played the 3rd and final flight. Things were going pretty normally the first 4 levels. Win a few, lose a few. Hit a draw. Miss five draws. You know the drill. But after rallying from 12k (starting stack of 40k) back up to 46k...I literally picked up AA on the VERY next hand. From under the gun....I raised to 1100 (blinds 200-400 with 400 ante) and it folded around to this newish player...an Asian guy, who came with quite a few chips, and who had immediately been pretty active since he sat down. He had the button, so I guess in HIS world, that meant he needed to apply pressure to me with a 3-bet. You know...me, the seemingly tightest guy at the table, who'd been showing down nothing but mainly Top15 hands all day. He re-raises it to 3600. The blinds both fold. Okay. Cool. Obviously I'm going to put in a 5th raise here...though it would be fun to just flat and let him double me up with some wild play. I just managed to chip back up, and the last thing I wanted to do was "get cute" and screw myself. So I fired a warning shot over his bow...letting him KNOW that I had a huge hand, and that he might want to just fuck off. 

Well...he remained undeterred, even AFTER I bumped it up to 9800! He calls. Ugh. Here we go. Flop comes 10-high...with two diamonds. Pretty innocuous board for everything but a set of tens. I lead out for 12,500. And...truth be known? I'm never folding to whatever move he makes here. But when he instantly ships all in, I put him on either JJ (mayyyyybe QQ- but I think he would have put me all in preflop if he had queens) or AK suited...which is obviously the worst-case scenario there. I was wrong on both counts. He was clear on the other side of the table...and I didn't have my "up close" glasses because I had accidentally left them in a bathroom at Aria the night before. So when I looked at his exposed cards...I THOUGHT I was looking at AK. Which would have seemed pretty normal, and standard. I asked somebody, "Is that AK suited?" And they replied..."No man...it's KING freaking FOUR!???" And...trying not to be THAT guy (you know, Hellmuthiuan in my reaction!!!) I kind of blurted out...."what? King four!???? How the....." and before I could even complete the sentence the dealer slapped a fucking diamond on the turn. I was drawing completely dead to the river...which, adding insult to injury was another GD diamond. Fuuuuuuck ME! Fortunately, the other TWO players who I had raised money by selling shares to stake in that event, were both in close proximity to my table, and literally watched the hand play out. That always makes me feel a little better, because we all know how easy it is to just kind of embellish the telling of a bust out hand. Having witnesses gave me some sense of calm...as I picked up my bag, and zombie-walked to the elevator and back up to my room. 

There is NO worse feeling in poker, am I right? I can handle losing...but please, I beg of you, beat me with a hand that makes some damn sense. I hate plunking down $10k in a tournament where there are guys playing that kind of poker. That's a cash game play, as far as I'm concerned. Whatever. I lost. Time to root for the other two. I went and played PLO, and won a couple dimes. The next day, I went to Venetian and played the PLO tourney there...$600 buy in, I busted, rebought, busted again, rebought a 2nd time...and nearly ran that to the money. I went on a big heater...grew a nice stack...then got into a hand with the only guy at the table with a bigger stack when we were 3 from the money. I think he was chasing a weird draw of some sort against my top set (with a flush draw) when he hit a stupid gutshot straight he didn't even know he had. Yeah...THAT sucked. I was really hoping to snap off that tourney and take $14k back to my room. Well...I didn't. 

Instead, I went across the street to the new casino that just opened the night before, Resorts World. They say they spent 4.3b on the place. Frankly...I don't see where all the money was spent. I mean...sure, it was "nice" and all that. But $4.3b nice? I struggle to see it. The poker room was nice. Spacious. Good dealers. I ended up playing two sessions there. The first session went very well. Cashed out with a $3200 profit. The next session, a couple nights later, not so hot. Missed about every draw. Best hands never seemed to hold up. And THAT... in a nutshell, is Omaha for you! I lost about 4 dimes that second session. 

While I was losing all my early cash-game PLO profits, my other two players were trying to make a big score still in the Wynn Main Event. Jason Bond ran into some bad luck and busted at the end of the day. But Kristen Deardorff ran pretty pure the entire day and bagged up a nice stack. With around 1400 entries...she would end up making it to Day 3...and wind up busting out 94th for close to $32k. For all the investors who bought a share for $200...they all ended up getting $154 back per share. So they almost boke even. They proceeded to use a lot of that ROI on the next to staked events for Kristen, since she lives in Vegas. She played the $5k Main at Venetian, and didn't have any luck. Then she played the $2400 there, the following weekend...and bricked that one also. Currently, we are in the throes of what I've labeled "The 3-Prong Series Package."  It includes the $600 multi-flight Main at Orleans, then a $600 and another $400 at Venetian to round out the package. I sold a total of 96 shares, for $50 per share, to raise $4800...which covers 3 "bullets" in each event. She has had to use all three buy-ins for the first event, this weekend's $600 Main at Orleans. But on the 3rd and final attempt, she managed to bag $107k...and when she returns today, they should be real close to the money, hopefully she picks up some big hands early...and can grow that "M of 7" / 15 BB's to about three times that...and make another deep run. She certainly has the skills to make it happen. She's a player I really have no hesitancy to stake, for a lot of reasons. (1) she's a solid player  (2) she's great about posting updates on our Facebook Group Page...a private group I created just for the players, the investors, and their friends/family. No one else is allowed to view the group page.  And (3) she's very trustworthy...so no matter what happens, I know I am getting a photo of her buy in slip, and if/when she wins money...I know I don't have to ever worry about getting access to it. For the record...Jason is the same way. 

So I promised my wife and (more importantly) Carley that if I busted before my flight was scheduled to come home...I would change my flight and come home early. I kept my word. I took one day to relax, chill out at the pool, drink some frozen drinks...and then headed home. Well...lucky me, I get the driver who decides he's going to take the most leisurely drive to the airport in history. While I THOUGHT I still had plenty of time to make it...I was starting to get real nervous. We finally pull up with 40 mins before my flight is to depart. Okay okay...should be okay, plus I'm Diamond Medallion now with Delta...which I've been working for years to achieve, so they SHOULD cut me some slack if I'm a little late. NOPE! I get the Bitch From Hell. I think her name was Amy (probably spelled something like Aymey or something equally stupid) And she was in NO MOOD at ALL to be helpful. "You are late, sir. We aren't going to be able to check you in. We ask that you arrive at least 45 minutes before your flight! We're just going to have to rebook you for a later flight." I say "Um yeah, hi...Amy, the flight doesn't leave for 40 minutes. If you really can't get my bags on, I'm happy to take them through security, and check them at plane side. (which, in case you didn't know, is ENTIRELY okay...so long as your baggage will fit through the xray scanner, which mind do) I really don't feel like missing this flight." 

Nope. She tells me she has already given away my 1st class seat. I literally want to kill her. She rebooks me on a flight alright. The freaking red-eye! The flight she just booted me from was at 10:45am. Whatever. FINE! Can I please check my bags at least. NOPE! They won't check bags until 6 hours before the flight. Great! So I find a Centurion Sky Lounge (member via my American Express) and make it my homeless shelter for 7 hours...until they closed for the day. Then I went to the gate 4 hours before the flight...found a nice little cubby hole, and passed out for a few hours. The flight home was fantastic! I got lucky and got one of the newer planes with that newer Delta One 1st class cabin where you have basically your own pod...and the seats recline into an actual bed. I think I slept most of the flight home. Went from temperatures around 115 degrees in Vegas...to a monsoon in New Orleans when I walked out to my car!!! Quite a difference! And...since I've been home from that trip...it's literally rained almost EVERY day, as mentioned! 

Once home, I got back on my iPhone/iPad and started back in my PokerBros club. The latest popular game has been the 5 and 6-handed PLO Hi/Low game. But then they went and added another new game...DOUBLE BOARD! Talk about major action! So far, I've found most of the players in those double boarded games to be pretty shitty. I've run my account up a couple grand in the last two weeks. IN addition to those juicy cash games...they run some very decent tournaments. I just don't play as many tournaments as I would like to because I have a hard time carving out that much time to sit and play one. Maybe you'd like to join the club...and take me on!??? No problem...just be prepared to NOT screw over the friends of mine who run the club. They are a married couple who I've know for years, and who worked on the WSOP circuit for a long time. The network, as mentioned...is POKER BROS. The CLUB ID is 21699. And my REFERAL ID is 663632.  If you DO sign up...shoot me an email at ThePokerMonkey1@aol.com and tell me your handle so I can look for you when I'm playing!!!

So the other night, my wife asked me if I would mind if she took (yet another!) trip to the beach with her girlfriends in a couple weeks. I told her..."Okay, I'll make you a deal. There is a tournament I'd kind of like to go play next weekend. If you let me go play that, then I'm okay with you leaving for another 4-day weekend." She agreed! Much to my relative surprise! So...next weekend, I am climbing in my car...because flying in to Dallas, then renting a car, and having to drive a couple hours from THERE...seems stupid, and I'm driving to Durant, Oklahoma to play in the $3700 WPT Main Event there at Choctaw casino. It's been several years since I played up there. I liked the place, for the most part. So I called and got myself a room reserved, and am all set to go. Drive up Thursday. Bringing enough for two bullets...play on Friday, hopefully NOT on Saturday...then take it from there. If I happen to bust out, I drive home. Easy Peasy! The last time I went up there, I also drove. It was an easy trip. I've put feelers out with a couple of my poker buddies in hopes of finding someone (that I can tolerate for 8-10 hours in a car!!!) to share the ride up there with me. If not...no biggie, I'll just watch movies on my iPad while I drive like I usually do! I'm expecting a pretty good turnout.

As far as me playing staked or on my own dime? I put some feelers out to my current staking group, which consists of about 50 people, telling them I hadn't decided yet whether to play it for 100%, or 40% (if I sell shares, they will hold a 60/40 advantage). Well, I got a bunch of emails from people saying they would love to buy some shares if I DO decide to sell a package...so it looks like I will sell one for BOTH bullets. Then, if I bag on the first attempt, they will already get HALF their investment back! 

I was telling my wife that I don't so much miss poker, as much as I miss the feeling of the competition. I miss that feeling of making the right call...and a player mucking his cards. But most of all, I miss that feeling when all the players remaining move to the Final Table. Because at that point? It becomes like something I have played 2 or 3 thousand of in the last 15 years....a Sit n Go. Nine players. Lose, and your gone, and we all get more elbow room! I LOVE playing Final Tables! But the thing I love the MOST..is being the very last player at the table. Just me...and ALL the chips. I hate chopping...and will almost NEVER agree to it...unless its just the dumbest (economically speaking) decision to refuse chopping. I don't play for hours and hours...and even sometimes days...so that I can get to the Final Table, make some kind of deal, and call it a day. Screw that! 

And finally...I really discovered while on my last trip to Vegas, that I kind of miss the notoriety, the respect that I used to sort of hold in the poker community. It used to be I could sit down at a tourney table, and there was typically 5 or 6 player, minimum, who knew who I was. Knew I was highly-regarded, successful. I took it for granted back then. I think people in all kinds of fields probably do the same thing...taking things for granted, until they don't have it anymore...then they miss it. I miss it. More than the money. I don't really NEED the money now, like I did back then. Back then, I was playing staked...and needing a score to pay my bills. To survive. Now? Not so much. I just want to WIN! I want to experience that taste again. Bad! And I know...if I should put everything together, but fall short, say, finish 3rd, or even 2nd...it's just gonna motivate me even more. I hate losing. Always have. Whether it was sports, or school/grades, or job-related or poker...I f'ing HATE to lose. Granted...I certainly have learned how to handle losing a lot better than I used to! Thank god! Now it just burns me on the insides...without me showing my ass to everyone around me. Because lets be honest; poker? No one, I repeat NO ONE...gives two shits about your bad beat story. They don't really care about your flame out. No one. So when you DO lose? Just take it. Eat it. Bury it. Go find a nice quiet place, alone...and work it all out, mentally. Don't go find the first pack of poker buddies you can locate and whine to them about your bust out. Because...while they might act (and I mean ACT) like they actually give a shit? Trust me...they don't. At all! 

And in saying this? It's the same (at least now) for me when I win. I don't need anyone's adulation. I don't need to post a "sick brag" post on Facebook. Nope. The satisfaction is internal. I guess I've come a long way in that department. At least, in the way I'm perceived by others in the poker world. So yeah...there ya go! I now have a wife, a little girl, and her best friend...down there on the dock...wanting me to come down and play with them...tow them around behind the wave runner. Jump off the top deck of the boat house...about 15 feet high. You know...be "The Fun Dad!!" We've been here 4 days now. This is the last day. Home tomorrow. Then, a couple days to do some yard work, run some errands, then kiss my girls goodbye for what I hope is FIVE days!!! Some of you know, I run sports pools. I've been doing that for close to 30 years now. It's how I was fortunate enough to develop the vast network of people I have that make up my staking groups...and other investment "stuff" that I put together. Some players in the past have demonstrated some bitterness towards me, for the great "staking deal" I played under. Well...I wasn't about to feel bad, or guilty because I spent decades building a credible relationship with so many people that gave me opportunities like the one I enjoy in poker. And in fairness, I haven't made anyone what I would say "rich" but I have made a lot of people "some money" and they always get paid RIGHT AWAY! Which...if you are a poker player...and you're playing staked? You should make your number ONE priority! Don't make people who took a chance on you...have to go way out of their way to get FROM YOU...what is rightfully THEIRS. Those kind of people are a disgrace to this profession. And they keep other well-deserving players from GETTING those kind of opportunities. The more "good guys" there are in poker, the more chances other players will get from people with the finances to take a chance on them. 

So? Moral of the Story? Don't be a F'ing Douchebag!!!! Perhaps I'll see some of you up in Choctaw! Feel free to tap me on the shoulder, or shake my hand, and say "Hi!" It's always good to see either old friends, or make some new ones! Bye for now!!!


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Remember When Poker Mattered?


APRIL 15, 2021  (picked back up and finished 4/20/2021!)

IT's TAX DAY!!!! Wheeeee!!!!! For those of you NOT under IRS audit, in which case...you have an excuse to NOT file YET....you better have your taxes done by midnight...or make sure your CPA has filed an extension for you!!!!

Yes. It's 2021! YES...I know! I haven't posted a blog in...lets just say FOREVER! I'm also acutely aware that I've become relatively irrelevant in the World of Poker. Over the course of the last 12-15 months I've made a few efforts to sit down and post a blog. IN fact...this was my LAST attempt. It might bring a little entertainment, even humor. Browse this snippet...then catch me on the other side! I am appearing today as a guest (why me??? NO idea! I'm flattered) on Bill & Gene's Gulf Coast Poker Podcast in less than an hour!!!


Here we are, in June 2020. The WSOP is in full swing in its first full week out in Vegas, the MLB season is nearing its midseason point. In the NBA, we should have a new champion crowned this weekend. And the same goes for hockey...where someone will lift the Stanley Cup. What an exciting spring it's been! And how about that crazy finish in the Master's? Not to mention that amazing stretch run in the Kentucky Derby. I mean...is there anything MORE exciting than being a sports fan in the good 'ol United States of America? 

Yeah...that's the paragraph I SHOULD have been leading with after having not blogged in a number of months. In January, after the "Heater" at the Beau Rivage...I actually started a blog entry...and was pretty close to being done. Then I stepped away from my computer for a few days...and suddenly, the world started changing dramatically all around me. The more time that went by...the more irrelevant my "poker post" started feeling. By mid-March...I became resigned that I would never post that previous entry. Now, here we are...the first week of June...and we have graduated from one huge issue to another. Even while the first one is still going on. In the 53 years I've been living in this country...I'm not sure I've ever seen things more chaotic, more confusing, more frustrating and more divisive. Anyone who insists that they have the answers to all that ails us...is simply a fool. 

AND NOW....here we are!  A new year. A new president. A "new normal" that has been foisted upon us by a new administration, with help from a liberal media that simply can't bring itself to report anything that resembles honest news and/or information. Covid protocols still remain in place in some places. Deaths are still being reported nationwide, and worldwide. A vaccine was miraculously developed in record time...not just in America, but in numerous countries. I'm still perplexed by THAT simple fact. Despite a virus that 99.875% of people are expected to be able to defeat, we are being frantically urged (ordered?) to run out and get a vaccine that has been wreaking havoc with some of it's recipients, either with an unexpected side affect, or in some cases...even death! I'm in the camp of 40% of active Marines in this country...who are simply maintaining that they have NO reason to get a vaccine for something they are 99% certain to beat if they get it. Being young, and in the best shape of their lives...WHY would they EVER worry about a vaccine? I'm not getting it. I'm not letting my wife and child get it either. Nope. 

So the boys at Gulf Coast Poker have started a podcast on their website. They've asked me to appear as a guest today. Why, hell I don't know! I hardly play anymore. I WAS playing pretty regularly in a Pokerstars Home Game that featured a bunch of you players out there who I've known for years. It was entertaining...frustrating at times, but I had a bit of success on there. It went dark a month or two ago due to some concerns based on information that convinced the operators to step away from it. Understandable. NO need putting your livelihood in jeopardy if you don't have to. So aside from that...I'm a participant in some other online sites, and have been playing the app-based PokerBros, and am a....ahhhh what's that word? I always forget it. When you promote a site, and give out a referral code, so that you can earn a little money on the side? I should know that word...I've been "one of them" for several sites over the years. At any rate...I've been somewhat active on PokerBros...and actually made a pretty good chunk of change referring people to the poker club I play in. When I play on there, I lean towards the cash-game PLO6 Hi/Lo game...which is NUTS! I really don't like playing with THAT many cards...and that many WAYS TO LOSE...but getting a game going in the 4 or 5 card versions of Hi/Lo is almost impossible. SO I sit in on the 6-card version...and take my lumps. 

As for LIVE poker? I've been getting closer and closer to venturing out. I ALMOST ran up to Pearl River to play that main event. But things came up with the family that kept me at home. I've been eyeballing some events, one in South Florida...and one out at Venetian, to go get my feet wet again. The one thing that has me really interested, is the fact that nobody is playing 9 or 10-handed. I LOVE having elbow and leg room. And when these places are playing 7 and/or 8-handed...that's like a dream come true for me. I don't know how they are about rules and Covid-enforcement though...and I am NOT someone who likes being told what to do if the reason for doing it lacks ANY logic whatsoever. It's probably one of the things that drives me the MOST crazy. THINGS THAT DON'T MAKE SENSE!  I have NO problem following rules...as long as the rules make SENSE! I am not a f'ing sheep. I never have been. I never WILL be. It's caused me problems in my life. I know that. I've reconciled that with myself. I'm aware that being a "yes sir, no sir" guy might have led to me avoiding some of the bullshit that I've been subjected to in my poker career, and upon close inspection, and reflection with myself, I have no regrets. You only live this life ONCE. How do you want to be remembered? I cling to my morals, my ethics, my values, and my beliefs. I have what I consider to be a lot of pride. People have the right to agree or disagree with me. I've never been delusional enough to think that I would EVER make everyone like me, or even agree with my views. I'm not in the business of making people like me. 

Trust me, if I was? I would be in politics. I have a LOT of knowledge about politics. I have a lot of acquired experience in that field. Have a lot of connections in that world. Were it not for the path of destruction I've left in my wake over the last 30-40 years...I'd enter that arena. But with my checkered past, it would take the vultures in the media and in the political arena itself, to devour me within hours of dipping my toes into the political waters!!! So I operate on the outer fringes, contributing where I can to the causes I most believe in. It's true that 2020 was one of the biggest setbacks in my life...as it pertains to politics, and the overall health of our country. It's been a rough 2021 so far. I've had to pry myself away from the 24-hr cable news cycle...as it just leads to bouts of depression, frustration, aggravation, and deep contemplation about the future of our country. I think that were it not for being the father of a young child...I might not be as emotionally invested in the future of our country, from a political standpoint. I've been urged by several of my followers on Facebook to start a politically-based Podcast. Trust me...the thought has dawned on me many times. But I'll be totally honest...I'm scared. I've watched the way Big Tech has treated Conservative voices in this country just in the last 5-6 months...and it's terrifying. 

I've already seen weird things going on in my own life. I don't how much of it is circumstantial, and how much of it is due to my political leanings. I'm reading a book called "The War on Cash" and that has probably fed into some of my suspicions. I've actually read a LOT of books over the course of the last year...most of them from authors on the Conservative right. I try not to inundate myself with ALL conservative readings...so I balance that by reading newsletters from leftist publications...as well as daily briefings from the New York Times. Each side accuses the other side of being tone deaf, of being shut off to the other side. That they exist in an echo chamber. I've tried hard to welcome liberal voices in my own Facebook wall. (I am currently serving a 30-day Facebook jail term, 13 days from being freed...for engaging in a heated conversation with a diehard liberal on one of my own friends' walls...I made a comment that the libbie didn't like, reported me to the FB gestapo, and got me suspended for 30 days. Ridiculous) I would say I have 4 or 5 people I still consider "friends" who's views I wholeheartedly disagree with, however, I respect their opinions. I respect their right to disagree with mine. We manage to maintain a level of decorum. We manage to maintain a friendship. I'm of the opinion that this is something that is dying a slow death in our country, and it's sad. I think that Social Media...born around 2004...but not FULLY employed until right about the time Obama came into office in 2008, has been the leading cause for the dysfunction of how we get along in this country with our fellow Americans. It used to be...most people kept their political beliefs to themselves. And if they DID talk about it...they knew when to stop the conversation. 

NOW?  Whoa! Social media has basically empowered people, giving them this weapon (essentially) wherein they feel their opinion is a lot more powerful than it really is. The ingredients, that being social media, a liberal media overtly opposed to Conservative views/beliefs, racial divisiveness that has been promoted by those with their own agenda...all of this has led to a nation that is desperately trying to find itself right now. And lost in all of this, is how this has left us vulnerable to the rest of the world. 

Okay. I keep getting sidetracked...pulled into political talk. Sorry. This should be about poker right? I'm trying, I'm trying! Promise! 

Hey! How about my good buddy Joe Hebert!??? One of the truly good guys in poker who I've been really good friends with for over a decade!??? I've never been happier for a poker player's success than I was for him! Winning the WSOP Main Event...granted, it was under some whacky circumstances...still! Home boy beat EVERYONE! And won what? A million and a half? This is a guy who I've roomed with at poker events. A guy I've swapped "pieces" with at other events. We've done a lot, experienced a lot. We've had our ups, and we've had our downs. We had baby's just a month or two apart. We've been there for each other in times of need...emotionally, and otherwise. And he was on the short list a couple times to be on my WSOP Team that has quite affectionately come to be known as "Monkey's Minions!!" I spoke to him a short while after his win...probably one of the few people who didn't reach out to him with ulterior motives! As much as I like to try to see the good in everyone...there is an undeniable element in the poker community that prey on those who are enjoying success financially.  And one thing that is inevitable, any time you make a good score in poker: the moochers come out of the woodwork. 

Moochers are the worst. They will present themselves as "good friends" and tell you how excited they are for you, and how closely they followed you in your big tournament, as though THAT is supposed to have earned them some kind of reward from you....like, you know? Them sweating you had some kind of affect on your "run good" for that tourney. It's annoying. And it's so predictable. It's one reason I'm always hesitant to contact a friend after they make a big lick. I don't want to get lumped into that category. The 'moocher' category. Ugh. But, with some people...they just know that I'm not calling them to ask them for something. And that is in and of itself, a nice feeling...knowing you aren't being scrutinized in that fashion.

So I ran out of time to write this before we went live for the podcast. So I did 90 minutes with Gene and Wild Bill, then let a week slide by...and I'm back trying to finish this post. The interview was nice. Went really fast...and we definitely had PLENTY to talk about. I try really hard to NOT be long-winded in things like that. Sometimes its tough, but as I am a very critical viewer/listener of others' interviews...I'm always seeing/hearing things that I want to avoid if ever in that same spot. So yeah...I had a lot of that going on. 

What else is going on!?? Carley turns 9 this weekend. Crazy. She's halfway to being a legal adult and moving out. After taking piano for two years...she quit a couple months ago, much to my disappointment. But she has taken an interest in golf! We've been out a few times and she seems to really like it. Her Godfather...and my business partner and friend, Barth...got her a set of clubs for Christmas last year. For Christmas this past year...she took it up a notch. Just a NOTCH. She asked for a freaking golf cart. Huh??? Did you say, GOLF CART? The main shock...was that my wife didn't immediately shoot down the idea. So, umm...little girl is driving now. A red golf cart. Took her about 3 days before she slammed it into the corner of my shed...which caused the entire wall of bricks to collapse and messed up the door jam. Needing a little repair job there! But her driving has improved, no more accidents...and her and her buddies have really gotten a lot of use out of it. 

Both the bars are still open and doing well...despite all the COVID protocols, and interruptions in business. MY tenants in my rental homes are still my same tenants. So...stability! I'm still playing the investment game in online stock trading...a lot more these days then when I previously blogged. I've taken up a new hobby...as an investment vehicle, getting REALLY into buying gold, silver, platinum and even palladium rare coins. I've gotten Carley really interested in it too. I'm in the middle of trying to acquire every year and mint location of every Morgan Silver Dollar in circulation. Carley, after I educated her on it...did a presentation on it...to her 3rd grade class. She did great, I was really proud of her. 

With the economy being in the state that it's in...and the dollar being devalued every day with all these TRILLIONS of dollars that the democrats are pumping out...there couldn't possibly be a better time to invest in precious metals. The other thing I've got on my bucket list in the next few months is to fly out to the Bay Area to take a friend up on this 3-day workshop to learn everything there is to know about crypto-currency...so that  can get into that arena. Hypothetically...I should have started that a long time ago. But I don't like jumping into things that I don't have a workable knowledge in. And where crypto is concerned, I have none! So I'm going to change that...as soon as possible!

Bought a tanning salon back in July 2019 so that my wife, Squirrel...could finally, after 20 years...get OUT of the cocktailing gig at the Beau Rivage and do something else. There had been a lot of changes, not many of them good, at the Beau in the past 5 years or so, and the job was making her miserable. But she isn't someone who would EVER be content to sit at home spinning her wheels. It would drive HER crazy...and her being driven crazy would drive ME absolutely berserk! So an opportunity came up to buy this tanning salon. She knew the owner real well...and they worked it out where the gal would come in and train Cheryl...and be on call to help her with anything that came up. So we pulled the trigger. The first year was mostly learning the business...and implementing some upgrades to the business. Then when COVID hit...it was RIGHT before what WOULD have been her busiest time of year. SO that hurt a LOT!  We had just changed all the bulbs in all 8 beds (pricey!!!) and bought her a Spray-Tan machine...which everyone was requesting. So we definitely took a big loss in 2020. This year has obviously been a LOT better.

In addition to the business just being better, she won an online poll run by...mmmm....sorry, I don't know!! Maybe the radio station? But out of 5 places that were nominated, she won the BEST TANNING SALON on the Gulf Coast!!!! I was so happy for her, and proud! And for the last month she has been absolutely SLAMMED. For winning, I guess she won a bunch of free advertising and some other stuff. I think the best thing that came from it though was a boost to her self-esteem...as she's poured all of herself into that venture. So it was basically a form of validation for her.    

Alright! How's that?? Is that enough!?? I haven't posted in so long, the last thing I want to do is drown you all!!! Besides, it's sunny out, and I really don't think that yard is going to cut itself!!!