Friday, June 17, 2016

MINION Update: Unusual Staking/Investment Opportunity, Electric Daisy Carnival, Year of the Monkey and MORE.

A beautiful utopia of dehydration and overdoses.

I took this weekend off work to potentially drive for Uber because EDC is in town. Electric Daisy Carnival is basically an outdoor electronic music event where roughly 400,000 young people will converge upon the desert to dance "underneath the electric sky" for three days. Its one big freakin rave. Only, it costs a small mint to attend with general admission tickets ranging from $329 to $800 plus. Then you're expected to spend another small fortune making creative neon signs and glittery barely-there attire so you can show just how unique you are from every other attendee following the same protocol.

You are a special snowflake.

I HATED driving for Uber. I don't like having to make conversation with random people, the pay is pitiful, the liability is HUGE and I get annoyed with having to track passengers down in crowds like we experience on the Strip. I signed up because I usually have a few hours available each evening after Carter and Steven both go to bed, and I had this idea that any money (being purely "extra") could be deducted straight from the principles of our remaining auto/student loan debt. I saw it as a way to fast track our already aggressive debt elimination plan. I dedicated myself to it for the first few months it was here in Vegas and I made a few grand, but determined the money wasn't worth the aggravation. I haven't driven for them in months.

This logo is largely indicative of how exciting driving for the company turned out to be.

There are occasional exceptions. When a major event is in town and the surge gets super high, like CES week when I had one really long day that netted right around a grand. That was worth it because almost every passenger was a professional adult who works in the tech field. They were super interesting to talk to, and it was a short stop from the convention center to the strip hotels.
Woodstock meets Technology with the same level of narcotic intake as the 60's.
This weekend the potential to earn money is even higher. Uber is guaranteeing a minimum of $85 per ride taken from the motor speedway with a pretty massive bonus comparatively after completing just 7 rides. The catch? They have to be done between 3 and 8 am. They must be leaving FROM the speedway. Which means everyone will be hot, sweaty, high, drunk and/or in a coma. I. just. don't. know. if. I. can. handle. it. Then I think about making a grand in 5 hours or so, just driving some people down the road, and I wonder if its even sensible to pass it up. So my plan is this: I will be out there at 5 am. If its weird or people smell funny, I'm calling it quits.

Onward to more important stuff:

If just one minion can make it to the Thunderdome, JACKPOT.
Steven has applied himself to his study and poker coaching to a level I couldn't have believed possible. Mostly utilizing "Float the Turn" and watching hours and hours of reviewed hand histories, he spends his lunch break at work every day studying in addition to any down time he has at home. He cut carbs from his diet, losing 20+ pounds and dropping below 200 for the first time in a decade, hoping that better health overall will lead to better stamina and mental clarity.

I am super excited about his opportunity to play in the main event and believe he's going to run deep. Hopefully, really deep. I did the math on it and approximately $43,000 would pay off every dime of debt we have and finish the fund for a down payment on a home. We are on track to hit this goal by December 2017, but it would be really nice if he could just knock it out in one big tournament cash. Plus, if we're bringing home $43,000 then that means the investors are all getting a huge return on investment.

Speaking of which:

Last notice to WSOP investors/anyone who still wants to gamble a little and maybe hit it big this summer: If you were thinking of getting on board with the 2016 Minion Investment Team, I expect all shares to sell out by Monday. We have 30 or less left available. ALL five Minions have been named and include previously successful Minion and all around solid guy, Bill Phillips, poker industry professional and wildcard player Steven Pique, the lady-minion who won her seat Dr. Laura Langley-Crafton, the seriously talented Robert Harwell and Online Beast/Live Grinder Christian Iacobellis. We've got all the bases covered, ladies and gents. You want wild card players with heart and drive? Done. Family men with patience and gratitude? Covered. Impressive "Hendon Mobs" with proof in results? Accounted for. This is definitely the YEAR OF THE MONKEY.

Its true. This is the year. If you're going to join the team, now is the time.

Can't come to Vegas and want to win money anyway? Already here and want to offset your losses? Feeling lucky? The time is closing to purchase shares in the Minion Pool. We're less than 30 shares away from sending 5 poker players into the Main Event. For $200, you can purchase one "share". (Steven and I are already in for six shares so far, and may buy more - THATS how good of a deal it is). Our five horses all play the $10,000 tournament. All money cashed in the tournament has the $10,000 buy-in subtracted first and refunded to the investors in equal parts. Then, all the profits are split 65/35 with the lion's share coming back to US the investors! This is the only pool of its kind where you can have 5 potential Powerball tickets with one investment share. Last year, one player cashed. This year, we're hoping for 4/5 with at least one to make top 20. We have an amazing team amassed. There are no extra fees, no markup, the curator of this brilliant group doesn't take a fee (though he is a large shareholder). If you can't afford a share and want to go halvsies on one, I'll go halvsies with you. I benefit in no way from this sales pitch, so trust me when I tell you, THIS is the "staking package" you want to invest in.

Contact William Souther for information on how to buy your piece. If for some reason you're allergic to Monkey, or a sworn enemy of his dating back to the days of Gladiators, but secretly want a piece of this.. message me. I have ways of funneling money to the powers that be. Don't miss out. If you have general questions there are multiple blog posts detailing the odds and ends, but you can also ask anyone involved. There is a large private Facebook group for investors to follow the railing and get involved. This is all transparent, well run and has been established successfully for several years. THIS IS OUR YEAR! Also a special thanks to the lovely and talented Jacqueline Britton for her hard work with all the Monkey Gear this year! If you want to support the Minions and purchase a shirt, hat or hoodie, they're available essentially at cost through the Minion Facebook group to all investors, friends and family, logo pictured below.

Can't invest but want a cool shirt or a hat to show your support?
Buy them at-cost ($7 to $10 per piece) and be part of the rail support.

Thanks to everyone who has approached Steven or I with well wishes of his success in the Main. This is truly a dream come true for him, so it means a lot. I look forward to being able to write a detailed blog report of our long wait for the November 9 final table.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The fifteen minutes Jaclynn Moskow was relevant.

Until this morning, I had never heard of Jaclynn Moskow.* This isn't that unusual for me lately. I haven't been as focused on "who's who in poker" since becoming a Mom and getting off the circuit. I asked my husband. He has (and continues to), floor some of the biggest cash games in the country. He said the name didn't ring a bell. I showed him a picture of the all-female line-up from a taping of "Poker Night in America" a popular poker TV show. He was able to name the majority of women photographed, even specifying their game preferences and personality attributes. Not the blonde in the middle though. We both drew a complete blank.

A mostly familiar crowd.

Granted, I'm just a blip on the radar in the poker world. I've written a few columns here and there, I've dealt and floored all over the world but mostly I keep a low profile in the field that supports my family and has provided me with a network of "Poker Family", without which I would be lost. We both work in well known rooms on "The Strip", but know far more players by name than we are recognized ourselves. Staff should blend in and be efficient and competent, but not necessarily household names.

With that being said, my home is a poker home and we are huge advocates for the game. We recognize the value of the players, the dealers, the media and every other cog on the wheel that keeps things moving. I am a strong advocate for women in poker. I celebrate the successes of female players as if they were my own and compete, as they do, in a male dominant environment for more opportunities and accolades.

It was for this reason that when I woke up this morning and read the "latest scandal" involving a  relatively unknown "Jaclynn Moskow" (JM for brevity) and one of the most recognizable names in poker, Nolan Dalla, I was beside myself.
The incomparable Nolan Dalla.

JM, a cash game player from Florida, wrote and published a lengthy blog post accusing Nolan and two other men involved in the taping of the show of sexual battery/assault, gross misconduct and anti-Semitism.

To be clear: I am rather fond of Nolan Dalla. He is, without question, one of the people I admire most in our industry. He is brilliant, funny and regularly charges against the grain with his larger than life convictions and political beliefs. Above all else, he has a certain class and grace about him that can only be described as "refined".

I will sum her post up briefly for those not already up to speed: She claims she was sought after by Nolan to appear on Poker Night in America (he is the creative director). She showed up, played a little bit, was replaced on set (as is customary when there are alternates) and later everyone adjourned to celebrate the taping at a local bar with the cast and crew. Festivities were had by all. She asked about appearing on a special "ladies" taping of the same show in Florida, to which Nolan replied that they had no room for her but would keep her in mind in the future. She showed up in Florida anyway and the crew was able to get her some TV time. After the show was taped, she expressed interest in further opportunities but was never invited back to the show. Somewhere around a year later she sent a letter to the powers that be suggesting that she had been the victim of sexual assault and harassment, as well as discrimination because of her religion. She demanded compensation and/or to be given a regular spot on the show or she would make her allegations public.

The sexual assault she alleges occurred at the post-taping after party at the bar with everyone, including her boyfriend, present and public. She claims that a camera man grabbed her ass, Nolan Dalla "motor boated" her breasts and another executive confided that the best part of the show was that there "were no Jews involved". Being Jewish, she suggests this was highly offensive to her. Back at the hotel, there was also a racist statement made by yet another person in the party. This she overheard directed towards an African American front desk clerk. Also, an assault on her senses. She claims that she didn't mention any of this in the previous year, despite lobbying for more opportunities to be on the show, because she was traumatized and didn't want it to affect her poker career. Of course, the damage she suffered could be repaired if she were given opportunities to appear on air. She claims that she has "proof" of all of the above, but would only reveal them publicly if her demands were not met. Back and forth between executives for the show, lawyers and various other entities ensued. The lawyers for the show made the decision to offer her $15,000 to settle the issue. She countered that she wanted $20,000. (A clarification was posted on two plus two saying she actually countered for $100,000). She claims that in retrospect, telling her story was worth more than $15,000. Or, more likely, the time limit to accept the offer passed while she countered for more and she was no longer eligible for any type of settlement.
Complete with implied odds!

Not to be deterred, JM made a rather impressive looking website for herself. It touts, in extreme detail, her successes in the field of medicine. She graduated from The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine where she says (about herself in the third person), "she created her own major entitled Molecular Biology and the History of Medicine". Her biography extols the extent of her education and talents, how they apply to poker and even her work as a scientific consultant for the film "The Perfect 46". While the site is rife with narcissistic overtones, complete with retouched photos of herself and flowery quotes about her plans to write several books in the future, it is largely uneventful. The problem I have with Dr. Jacklynn's cluster of pages is that she includes on them a blog. In this blog, she has but one post.

The post details, explicitly, the above allegations and a specific call to action. She says, if she doesn't get an apology from all involved, she's going to release "proof". Nolan Dalla responded today on various forms of social media his detailed rebuttal including email correspondence between him and his accuser. JM responded on a well trafficked poker forum that she would be doing an interview on a Podcast sometime in the near future, at which point, she will reveal her "proof". Meanwhile, on Nolan's heavily populated Facebook, eye witnesses in attendance at the bar that night have offered up their testimony should this escalate to a point where he needs it.

Rape culture is a thing, and its a big deal. We live in a largely patriarchal society and victims are often shamed or even victimized further with disbelief when their claims aren't taken legitimately. Which is why, despite my better judgment and my personal experiences with Nolan notwithstanding, I did my best to keep an open mind about Jaclynn. I dug through her Twitter where she posted pictures of her partying with the cast and crew hashtag OMGFUN. I saw selfie after selfie with quotes from her about random men routinely commenting on her beauty, asking her to do porn and for her to "please post more pictures!". I saw her attempts to command, continuously, attention from literally anyone who would lend it. She is loud and proud an activist for women and yet none from the poker world are taking up her cause in solidarity. (Edited to add: Since writing this a few women & men in the poker community have stepped up in support of JM, in what is quickly becoming a rather polarizing scandal) In my sleuthing I noticed that she IS garnering support from a different crowd. The feminist and social justice warriors of the internet are banding together with her, welcoming this recently crowned victim into their fold. The more I read about Dr. Moskow, the more I realized that she is either incredibly insecure or desperately trying to cling to some notion of fame she believes she deserves.

And she's funny, too!
I would feel sorry for JM if she weren't trying to damage the reputation of someone so widely respected in an industry I am a part of. Instead, I'm angry. In her triumphant "quest to advocate for women", she's actually propagating victim shaming and rape culture. By claiming to have evidence of her alleged groping, but withholding it until she receives interviews and apologies, she's using a supposedly tragic occurrence to extend her fifteen minutes of fame. Her "cat and mouse" style blog post ending with "Your Move" reeks of a black-mail-ish air that trivializes victims of actual assault and their often times inability to speak up. Every time she screams her story with the subtle undertone of "Look at me! Look at me!" she's silencing someone else who now will also get the side-eye. Sexual assault isn't a joke. It isn't a game. It isn't a move on a chess board.

Dr. Jaclynn Moskow
I have no doubts that JM is a smart girl. She has managed to create enough buzz about her today that nearly every one in poker will now recognize her name. Its a shame she had to piggyback off someone else's notoriety to accomplish it. Especially in such a potentially damaging manner. Though I can't sympathize with her motive, I can understand it. Poker is a cut-throat industry. You must either possess a great deal of talent or extraordinary beauty to continue to be relevant. By all accounts JM is a mediocre player. And though she isn't classically beautiful, she's pretty by most standards. Playing $1/$3 in Tunica, MS she'd be the belle of the ball. On the set of a national TV show, however, she lacked either of the pre-requisites to be memorable. It may have taken her a year to realize it, but when she did, hell hath no fury.

It's a sad day when the exploitation of women is used, in kind, for exploitation. This is so atypical of the poker world, and thankfully so. JM ended her blog with "Your Move" in what is obviously a game to her, but aside from a few rage inspired anecdotal OpEds, I imagine this ship will sail unremarkably into the night. There are no other moves to make, JM. No one wants to play with you.

*On a side note, I would like to clarify that I would never ordinarily post specifically negative information about an individual. I live a very "judge not, lest ye be judged" existence. Live and let live. I feel this is a special circumstance when people I hold in high esteem are being cast, dishonestly, in the most unfavorable of lights. I will be happy to re-evaluate this blog post, or even dispose of it, in the event that this situation resolves itself or new information is brought to light. I'd much rather be writing about summer poker and Game of Thrones anyway. All photographs and information sources were collected from public domains.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

YOU CAN BE A MINION TOO! & Steak & GoT & So much more.

I was going to write this blog post last week. Then I caught Ebola and lost 6 days of my life. I seriously don't remember them. I had a doctor's appointment on Day 1 of the hellacious virus that nearly claimed my sanity, purely by accident (I'd made the appointment two months earlier) and the Doc said "Oh its just a little virus, rest and fluids and you'll be fine."

My ass.

I vaguely remember Steven and the kid coming upstairs one day to check on me, and them bringing it to my attention that it had been 11 hours since they'd seen me last. One morning I woke up and actually got lost in my bathroom. While we do have a fairly spacious double lavatory, you can still see the entire room from any vantage point. It took me 10 minutes to find my way back to the bed.
I did not know you could spell Diarrhoea that way. It checks out.

I called into work for the first time in well over a year. In the end though, I survived. While I was at the Doc's I had the host of blood work done that every person closer to 40 than they are 20, needs to have done. Terms like cholesterol, triglycerides, diabetes, thyroid and closer evaluations of abnormalities are thrown around. I haven't received the results yet, but I'm pretty sure if death were imminent they would have called sooner rather than later so I must be mostly okay.

Anyway, you didn't come here to read my whining. I'll start with the really exciting Minion Stuff.

Bill Philips. The other confirmed Minion. Just had a 6th place finish in a circuit event in NOLA.
All around good guy. I expect him to finish second in the Main this year.

Monk announced in his blog today that the first two Minions are Bill Philips and Steven. Which you already knew, because you read my blog. Granted, I was a bit premature in putting it all out there but now that everyone is on the same page, consider it "official news". His goal is to put 5 Minions into the Main Event this year. (For those just tuning in, Will "Poker Monkey" Souther runs an investment group every year that puts together a dream team of would-be World Champion Poker Players and stakes them for the full $10,000 buy-in into the WSOP Main Event. Anyone can invest by purchasing "shares". Each share is $200, and for the $200 you get a piece of all the runners. Then from the winnings, the 10K buy in is deducted first and refunded to investors, 35% goes to the player and 65% is split evenly among all investors. It is hands down the most creative and equitable staking opportunity you'll find. Why back one horse when you can own 5 lottery tickets?). Anyway, the pool is nearly at 3 seats already purchased by investors and the rest will come along as excitement builds for the WSOP.

Master of Ceremonies himself, one time Minion, the Hugh Hefner of Biloxi, MS, propagator of many things contagious - Kai Landry.
More than a few times while chatting, Monk has shared his distress over choosing the third runner. He's had multiple qualified candidates from a variety of backgrounds apply. He has a short list of personal favorites, but hasn't quite made the final selection. So Seat #3 is going to be a Wild Card. Which means YOU can win it. The gloriously coifed, semi-famous and entirely salacious Kai Landry has agreed to host a poker tournament at his home in Biloxi. The real deal with professional dealers, cocktail waitresses, the whole nine. He'll even wear his velvety smoking jacket. It's a legitimate event. The buy-in is $400. Two shares in the minion pool. If you win the tournament, you get the third Minion seat and the same deal as the others runners. If you lose, you still have two shares of investment this summer and may turn a profit regardless.
Today I learned what a Merkin is. Apparently, I am the last person to know.
These may be part of the goodie bags for the coveted Minion event.
At the very least, expect an application demonstration. 

This is way better than a typical satellite because the field will almost certainly be small. Maybe less than 20 small. Maybe less than 10. Kai's lavish abode, "Lord Puddingsworth's Manor" as he calls it, isn't exactly in downtown Los Angeles. But it IS within walking distance to the Beau Rivage Casino Resort in Biloxi, MS. And plane tickets from Vegas to NOLA are as cheap as $70 bucks round trip. If you're willing to fly Spirit or Frontier. Which is pretty much the equivalent of a flying greyhound bus. But that's another blog. My point is.. if you can make it happen, you should make it happen. You can put up just a few hundred dollars and play for life changing money. Plus, the last time Kai hosted a poker tournament, the champion streaked naked around the neighborhood with his trophy in tow. Also another blog post. For more information or to inquire about dates, click on over to Monk's blog here. Or just hit him up on Facebook. Or message me and I'll point you in the right direction. Or if you just want to grab a few shares while they're still for sale, let him know. He usually stops selling shortly after the series gets going.
This is a perfect steak.

Next order of business. I promised in the last blog to give the new Steakhouse "Alder & Birch" a mention. Now this is the part where I'm going to lose some of you: It's in "The Orleans" casino. I know. Not exactly synonymous with fine dining. Actually, it conjures up more of an "oxygen tank & motorized scooter vibe". But this small, elegant pearl is tucked away in a corner almost begging to be overlooked by the typical Orleans clientele. We were nearly forced to try it the first time. I received a $100 dinner comp and we were already planning to play a tournament there so we figured we'd find something close to edible to burn the comp on. What followed was hands down the best steakhouse experience we've had in Vegas.
A shocking delight - a watermelon and goat cheese salad.
Don't knock it till you try it.
The ambience is contemporary without being pretentious. The menu is straight forward and reasonably priced. (An 8 ounce filet is $28. A la carte side dishes average $7). Literally everything we tasted was prepared simply and elegantly. I can't speak to the wine menu, as I'm not nearly as educated in wine as I should be. It was varied and lengthy. I can say that we returned without a comp just two weeks after our first visit and plan to make it our "occasions" venue when we want something a little nicer than the norm. I HIGHLY suggest trying this steakhouse before they inevitably become dated and less attentive to every detail. Which I truly hope is never the case for this exceptional gem.
This speaks for itself.
Onward to Game of Thrones. Sunday is the highlight of my week right now, but I'm already emotionally distraught that we only have six episodes left. I am fearful of saying too much and ruining someone else's experience as they catch up.. but I am curious as to who you all think might get the axe this season? Because we know we aren't going to get through 10 episodes without losing someone near and dear. I have never enjoyed a show as much as I enjoy this one. It is expertly written and masterfully devastating.

I am dangerously teetering on this becoming a novel, so I'll just give a quick update about Steven's progress towards becoming a World Champion. I'll give a more in depth report in the next update. He has been religiously studying Jonathan Little's online coaching opportunities through "Float the Turn". He watches videos, take notes, reads articles, adds to notes, rinse repeat. I'm not really sure what he's doing over there because I'm busy binge watching all 32 seasons of Survivor (don't judge me) and teaching the kid how to put on pants. But he's working hard. He's dedicated. I'm impressed. I expected him to take it seriously, but he's really interested in learning what he can. Today he went and played the 12 pm tournament at The Orleans and made great efforts to apply some of the methodology he's been working on. He was able to identify some specific leaks and put into effect some of what he's already learned to strengthen his game. He chopped three ways and gave himself a good morale boost to get back to the books.

That's it for now. I'm off to Tribal Council.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Making a Minon Part 3: The Training Begins, Coaching, Investing.

In case you're late to the party, I'm writing a series about a relatively unknown poker player on his path from Poker Industry Professional to World Champion. Or at least, somewhere in between.

If you need to catch up you can read the full explanation here, and part two here. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Okay, excellent. Now that we're all on the same page, Steven (our horse extraordinaire) has started his coaching regimen to prepare for the big game. I solicited advice from several people I respect and admire in the industry, as well as reading more than a fair share of training recomendations and we came to the mutual conclusion that poker intellect is only a fraction of the necessary preparation he would need to make.

Onward to victory!

Steven is no spring chicken by poker standards. At 31, he's borderline.. dare I say it? Old. On top of his "advanced" age, he's grown comfortable in married life enjoying more time with pizza than the treadmill. We know that the stamina it takes to win a tournament like the Main Event shouldn't be underestimated. If the plan is to go all the way to the final table of the longest poker tournament in the world, he'd need to be as healthy as possible. Following a full work up from the doc we were happy to hear that his only physical ailment is slightly elevated cholesterol followed by the recommendation to lose 5 to 10 pounds. Otherwise, he's in great shape for competition. At least, at an air conditioned poker table.

I still don't know if poker classifies as a "sport". Regardless, this still holds true.

Part one of his path to victory is to log his daily nutrition in an attempt to make over his diet from carb laden junk food to lean proteins and copious amounts of fresh vegetables. He's entering his third week of logging food on the Lose It app and has already been successful in breaking a long-term relationship with soda. This has not only lead to his increased energy, but has become contagious and inspired me to make similar changes. As an official Minions railbird this summer, I suppose I'll need stamina too.

Coach, guru, poker player and indoor sunglass connoisseur, Jonathan Little. 

Steven is starting with training videos on by Jonathan Little. I don't know Jonathan very well on a personal level, but his resume speaks for itself. I've taken a few Ante Up Cruises where he was a guest pro and I've attended a class or two by him. He teaches well but can get a little bit wrapped up in himself when he's conveying information and it can make his point hard to follow. He is literally too smart on subjects he's passionate about and his meticulous methodology takes some work to get into. With all that being said, his site was recommended to us repeatedly by players at different levels of success so it seemed a good place to start.

Steven's plan for the week is to watch 6 full length videos relevant to deep stack tournament strategy, participate in one of Little's "webinars", read a handful of corresponding articles and keep some loose notes about each for me to relay here. He will then apply what he's studied in online tournaments on and any opportunity for live tournament play during the week. He usually tries to catch a nightly at Aria, Venetian or The Orleans on one of this nights off. Not only is he soaking up information and looking to improve his game, but he's objectively critiquing the various training methods we're investigating from a consumer standpoint.

Each week we will add another element of study, coaching and practical application leading right up to the main event. You'll be able to follow all the details here. Feel free to make recommendations and suggestions via comment or through direct message.

Steven may be your golden egg.

Though Steven's participation as a 2016 Minion is not dependent on him selling shares, anyone who would like to invest and own a piece of all 4, 5 or 6 runners this year should contact Poker Monkey.
Check out his blog here. $200 gets you one share of each of the Minions. Its a pretty simple breakdown: The players keep 35% of anything they cash, minus the 10K buy-in. The investors split the 65% plus Buy In equally. If you're going to gamble on staking a player this summer, why not buy a piece of several with one bullet?

If I'm ever on death row and get the opportunity to make a "last meal" request, this place wins. And it isn't even close.

In the next blog I will deviate from the poker standard to talk a little bit about my current love (for the next 9 weeks), Game of Thrones. As well as my new time sink, the Korean MMORPG Black Desert Online. My passion for the greatest steak house in Vegas, the all new Alder & Birch. And of course, an update on the Minion training.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Making a Poker Minion Part 2: Who is Poker Monkey, What is a Minion, Investing

As I alluded in the last post, Steven is joining the coveted ranks this year as one of Monkey's Minions and will be playing the 2016 Main Event. For a few of you, this will be greek. So let me explain.

The World Series of Poker is a big deal. It is a necessary evil. I say evil because CET and the WSOP are not without major flaws. For industry professionals, literally any company in the world provides a better employee experience. For a player who wants the best tournament poker action in the world, the WSOP is the crown jewel. The WSOP is a large, well oiled machine that fuels our entire industry furiously during the summer, and maintains a constant buzz of excitement even in the downtime. Its like the parasitic anemone to the poker industry clownfish.

The expression on his face sums up my years as a dealer with the WSOP.
The price to compete for world renowned glory and life changing money is a measly $10,000. Chump change, right? For us, or rather for Steven, this was a distant goal. Buying into the main event would while we're in the "building" phase of our lives simply isn't an option. We had originally intended to invest a percentage of that into satellites in an attempt to win a seat. Maybe a $1,000 Father's Day shot at greatness from Carter and I.

Instead, I decided to take a chance and put in an application for him to participate as a Minion.

You can't beat the logo.

Monkey's Minions is an investment group curated by my friend Will "Poker Monkey" Souther. Before I explain what that means, I should explain who Will is. Or at least, who Will is to me. Plenty of you know him as Poker Monkey. Even more know him as some mythical beast of poker legend. Though I've known him the better part of a decade, I'm not immune to listening to the occasional Monk tale. "He once kicked a table after a bad beat at the Beau Rivage, broke his foot, went to the emergency room and returned in a cast several hours later and STILL won the tournament!" (That one isn't true, by the way). "Do you remember when he was kicked out of Horseshoe Tunica for winning too much money at black jack, and he then proceeded to dry hump a stop sign in front of an angry female dwarf security officer?" (Totally happened). The list of his larger than life conquests spans most of his time on this planet. There is an even larger trove of stories you haven't heard. Like when he drove 7 hours to help me sand bag the Tunica casinos when the levee was threatening to break and destroy the livelihood of tens of thousands of people. (We helped save the properties from damage). Or when tornados ravaged the south and he spent days collecting clothes for donation and helping with clean up efforts.

We bagged sand. We met a swamp boat captain. We offended a dwarf. We saved the town.

There are three of us really, Monk, Kai Landry and myself, that because of poker we were able to sort of find each other in the wilderness of life. I consider them both my intellectual soul mates and know that nothing is too sacred for us three to laugh at.

I love these two men. And I'm so happy now we can all use the same bathroom.

Through the years there has been plenty of scandal, drama and excitement. Ironically, it was just a few months after Will and his beautiful wife Cheryl had their daughter Carley that Steven and I found out we were having Carter. Things have settled down since we both entered parenthood, and our escapades as friends involve less casinos and red snappers and more parenting faux pass and Peppa Pig anecdotes.

It is for all of these reasons that I felt guilty submitting an application asking for Steven to be chosen as a minion. Will is sort of a mastermind when it comes to organizing investment pools. Its his craft, first and foremost. Regardless of how many love/hate stories are out there circulating about the legend of Poker Monkey, there is no one who questions his integrity when it comes to money. Because of this financial transparency and an impeccable track record, Monk is somewhat of a guru at getting people to give him money and somehow turning that into more money. Its a win-win for everyone. A few years ago, he had the idea of developing an investment pool for Main Even runners. Basically, he cultivates a group of perfect would-be world champions. A mixture of four to six "horses" to stake in the largest poker event in the world. He usually selects a nice mixture of amateur hopefuls, professionals, young, middle-aged, ambitious, stable and wild card. A smashing combination hoping to strike literal gold. These are affectionately referred to as the "Minions".

Like this, but less understated.

The deal he makes with them is that he'll pay their way into the main event ($10,000 each) and they get to keep 35% of anything they earn. They're responsible for their own travel, accommodation and expenses above and beyond the tournament seat. The remainder of the money (65%) is divided among the investors. Pretty straight forward, huh? Monk has never and will never take a fee for his troubles, but he is a large shareholder purchasing a huge chunk himself every year. The investors include anyone who wants to take a shot and gamble on a big score. A share costs $200 even. No more, no less. You can purchase as few or as many as you like. Where its a brilliant investment and different from most staking arrangements, is with one share you're purchasing equity in ALL of the runners. So you literally have 5 shots at a massive return on investment with one share. Last year was a poor year with all but one player getting eliminated early, and with a relatively minimal cash from one of the staked player (the equally awesome and legendary Bill Philips), each shared STILL returned $151 each. Not bad considering 90% of staking arrangements end in a big fat $0 return. Imagine how awesome it'll be if someone makes a deep run. Or if two of the runners go deep.

Everything is done with total transparency. Once you invest (or even if you just want to rail), there is a facebook group set up so you can watch the progress of the Minions. The Minions themselves post updates, and at any time there are always scouts on the ground at the Rio keeping up with our collective horses.

So for me, this was a no brainer to want to get Steven in on this. Where the guilt comes in is that I didn't want him to be chosen just because of my friendship with Will. I find it especially tacky to rely on friends for their "talents" or expect hookups because of someone else's position. So I mulled it over and put serious thought into it. We could spend $1,000 on two satellites to try to get Steven a seat, or I could buy shares in the Minion pool. The Minion pool just makes better sense. Always a fan of betting on the home field advantage, I put in the application. Why not bet on my guy to win it all?

He isn't a total newcomer. He just hasn't taken many shots. Yet.

I believed Steven would make a valuable addition to the Minion field because he's smart. He's steady and level headed. He is highly educated and yet still chose to build his career in poker, simply because he loves it. He's 31 years old and doesn't owe a soul money, has no enemies, no vices (aside from pizza) and he's passionate about the game. Every single thing he does, he aspires to be the best. Whether its the best floor in the best poker room (in my biased opinion, he is among them) or the best daddy he can be. He's a little bit of a wild card because he doesn't have the big tournament experience or professional experience some would probably prefer in a horse but what he lacks in those categories he makes up for with innate understanding of the game. He hasn't had the opportunity to develop the bad habits of jaded players or the cynicism of long time tournament veterans. To be clear though, he's not a complete rookie. He's played plenty of live/cash, spent his college years on FullTilt and takes regular shots in smaller tournaments now that we live in Vegas. He has the enthusiasm of a "young gun" along with a deep understanding of the value of this opportunity. Most importantly, this will be the realization of a dream for him and something he'll approach with proper respect.

So I wrote it all down and emailed it in, explaining clearly that I didn't want a "hook up" because of our friendship.

A few LONG weeks later, I got a welcome text, bright and early from Will welcoming us into the Minion family. I also agreed to chronicle Steven's experience in detail. As of today, the official roster hasn't been announced on his page but I expect that before May 30th. In the meantime, we are busy developing a coaching plan and putting together resources for Steven to study. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and he plans to maximize all avenues towards success.

In my next post I will go into detail about the coaching and preparatory resources we're using. Please message me directly or comment with any recommendations you have. Anyone who is interested in investing in the minion pool get in touch with me so I can point you in Monk's direction. If you'd just like to join the virtual rail, look up the group on facebook. Its going to be a wild ride, one way or the other.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Resurrection of the one true ...BLOG. Dreams, Goals and Making a Minion (The Introduction).


Just kidding. Well, kind of. I sort of lost my way with the blog a few years ago. I went from eating, sleeping and breathing poker and the lifestyle to meeting the man that would become my husband, becoming a mom to our awesome son Carter and settling into a domestic bliss. Or at least, domestic contented-ness.

Bliss. This is what it looks like.

I have a reason for this resurrection and no, it isn't another obituary. Sorry about that. I really didn't mean for my last five or so entries to be about death, but some of those losses in the poker world were far too personal to go undocumented. Before I get to the point, let me give you the cliff notes on my life and bring you up to speed.

Obligatory family selfie.

We live in Las Vegas, NV full time now. The kid is 2.5. He's awesome. The husband (Steven) works for the greatest poker room in North America, quite possibly the world, as a full time floor/sometimes relief shift manager. We are very lucky and he loves his job. This blog has nothing to do with his job, obviously, so I won't discuss anything that happens there.  I work part time as a poker room floor a little ways up the strip from his room, a couple days a week. The rest of the time, I'm a Mom. We are happy to both be employed by parent company MGM Resorts International and are equally happy to no longer be associated with the WSOP or Ceasars Intl. We are both still non-smokers. 3.5 years I think it is now. I never met my previously mentioned weight loss goals and am starting anew in that department. I obviously didn't meet my "one blog entry per day" goal. I aspire to do better this year.

I think that's pretty much everything.

Which brings me to the next order of business. When I met Steven, and we were in the infancy of our relationship and discussing dreams and goals, we both shared plenty. The included the standard bucket list of travel destinations, family goals and career aspirations. As most new couples do, we made promises to make each others dreams come true. In so many ways, we've been luckier than we should have already and have accomplished so much in a relatively short amount of time.

We saw the entire country together in one REALLY long road trip.
From the West Coast..
To the East Coast.
Then we made this.
And took it to Miami.

Steven achieved his goals of going from dealer-no-name to dealer-prime-time when he dealt down to the final table in the Main Event and did a number of other feature, final and TV tables.


He exceeded even his own goals.
But it wasn't ALL about his goals..
I finally got what every woman wants. A spa-quality bathtub with an amazing view of the sunset over the mountains. Jackpot!

Oh yeah. And my fairy-tale.
But there are still many things on our bucket list. I need to see Belfast, The Maldives and Bora Bora before I die. He wants to see the Cowboys win a major game, live, to become Operations Director of a major poker room and we'd both like a sibling for Carter.
What brings me to resurrecting the blog though, is a series of post I'm going to start called "Making a Minion". Its the story of how one of Steven's top five bucket-list goals will come true this year: To play the $10,000 WSOP Main Event (while he's still young enough to have a decent shot), and to (hopefully) make a deep run and bring home a noteworthy score. In the coming weeks, leading up to and through the Main Event, I will tell you about how he was chosen to play and receive backing through the Monkey's Minions program. I will tell you about the coaching, studying and game preparation techniques he's participating in to get ready for the big event. I'll give you regular updates during the days leading up to the Main and his game play during and then I'll post the victory story when its all said and done. So if you're looking for a poker story, this is your golden ticket. Consider it the poker reality-TV of the blog world, starring one of the good guys. And you're invited to follow along.
As always, I appreciate you sharing, commenting and reading. Stay tuned, more details to come.



Sunday, November 2, 2014

I hope I found the words. A letter to Tony Dick. Address, unknown.

Dear Tony,

I'm sure the last few days have been a blur. To sum the early hours of Halloween morning, you had an accident. I like to think you were speeding through the desert after a night of debauchery, with a beautiful woman on the back of your motorcycle. I'm probably not far off the mark. It didn't end well this time, buddy. On All Saints Day, it was decided that we'd lost you for good. In typical Tony style, you hung around just long enough for the Vikings to lock up a win and Dallas to get smashed by Arizona. I hope whatever is waiting for you on the other side is ready for the force that is Tony Dick. If you get a spare minute, find a way to let me know you made it. If they have Facebook in the afterlife, your wall is a glowing tribute to how many people loved you. Its also the least offensive and most polite your page has been since its inception.

You were a force to be reckoned with. On so many levels.

I hate that you bought that motorcycle, even though it made you happy. I knew you'd get yourself killed on it. I didn't know it would take you less than 90 days. If I had, so many of us would have protested more. Not that you would have listened. Not that you ever listened.

You were always going to die this way, you know. It was never going to be natural causes or old age. You lived fast, loved hard and played even harder. Everything with you was an extreme. You gave 110% of yourself and always did exactly what you wanted to do. Don't get me wrong, I'm not faulting you for it. You were more than willing to take anyone along who wanted to go. Any two people plus you and its an instant party. I just wasn't ready yet. To give you up, that is.

What I have to tell my rational brain is that every single day after your aneurysm was a gift. That all of us who were lucky enough to know you already had our greatest prayers answered. But it wasn't enough, was it? I guess not, since I'm sitting here feeling sorry for myself and I can't stop thinking about what I've lost.

Thanks for wrapping your words and arms around me so many years ago when I was a fledgling in the poker industry and needed a friend. Thanks for teaching me about mixed games and tipping,  brushing off losses and celebrating the wins, hard. We commiserated over our common ground as "Broken" people. People who have battled addiction and came out on the other side, albeit a little bruised. It always brought me comfort to know you were there even though our lives have shifted in different directions now that I have a family. I'm grateful we got to talk recently.

This is the night you taught me how to deal mixed games. We were at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, NV. I tried, hard, to dodge this table and you made the floor (Josh Treat) send me in anyway. You sat in the ten seat and coached me through every hand. Every mistake I made, you'd throw me a red bird. And every pot I pushed, you'd scold the winner into showering me with red birds. I think I made at least $700 that night. You made a miserable moment, awesome. It wasn't the first time, or the last time. You told me you were going to win a big pot with this hand. You did. <3

I'm sorry I never paid our prop bet. I really wanted to wear a shirt that says "I Love Dick" while walking down Las Vegas Blvd on a short leash with collar. I did. Even more I wanted to buy you that steak dinner. Thanks for not pushing the issue while I was 8 months pregnant with Carter. That would have been awkward.

Speaking of awkward prop bets.
(It has been brought to my attention that this picture could be misconstrued. This pic was a joke. It was a counter argument to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that was so popular a few months ago. Kai Landry issued a "Warm Cozy Bathtub Challenge of the Rich and Famous" or something of that nature and Tony was nominated. This was his ridiculous photo response in a series of ridiculous photo response. He wasn't even close to being serious here..)

When I'd heard you were declared brain dead, 99.9% of me was shattered to the depths of my soul. The .01% (that will slowly grow over time), imagined us sitting at a bar having a Jack and Coke and joking that your brain had finally won; leaving you in second place. Your celebratory tattoo turned into both commemoration and foreshadowing. You would drink to that.

Your sense of humor was untouchable.

I will most of all miss your sense of humor. The way it echoes my own. Its inappropriate, completely without regard to the politically correct and what bonded us the most. I fucking loved you. Even if I didn't say it in so many words.

This photo captures your essence better than any other.

While I write this, they are preparing you for organ donation. This also would have made you laugh. The jokes on them when they get inside there. Can you imagine waiting for years on a transplant list only to get Tony Dick's liver? Talk about a bad beat.

I can't help but get a lump in my throat reading all the memorials growing on your Facebook wall. Who would have thought, when all the smoke cleared in the wake of your life, that the greatest thing you would be remembered for was the size of your...wait for it... heart? The words I keep reading are love, generosity, laughter, friendship, loyalty. It would have made you proud.

Instant. Party. Even though we're blurry and I'm mostly hidden behind your shoulder, this one I will treasure.

You were the super glue that held so many people together. If you were in town, acquaintances became friends for the opportunity to celebrate your visit. I had this idea that something should be done - anything - to mark your passing so that we might not let you become a memory so easily. College scholarships and park benches are reserved for these occasions, you know. Neither of which are suitable for a man like you. So my hope, instead, is that whenever a mixed game comes together on the road or during the series.. we will all remember to throw "A red bird for the dealer". A bit of "Dicking" around, if you will, in your name. You would like that

I'm pissed at you. And sorry for every single person who will miss out on the light that you brought into every room. This is the first time I've been mad at you that you won't be able to crack a joke and make it better. It isn't the last time that I crack a joke at your expense. I promise. I think this will be a hard one for a lot of us to accept. When a force as vibrant and unstoppable as you comes to a grinding halt it makes everyone a little more afraid for their own mortality. You lived more in one day than most of us do in a lifetime.

In the words of the great D-Rod, "Today, the world loses it's Dick!".

You did it your way, friend. I'm going to miss you.


Jennifer Gay