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!!!


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