Monday, January 31, 2011

Poker Politics - Welcome to the Corporation

The poker world is divided into two distinct columns.  The production side and the performance side.  The production side of the house is reserved for employees who keep the industry well tended, the media who provide the coverage so sought after by players and the organizations keeping things moving fluidly to the best of their ability.

The performance side is reserved for any player with enough money in his or her pocket to pull up a chair.

Regardless of what circuit you're playing or in what card room, this is one big monopolizing corporation with no address or company directory. 

So far, I haven't met anyone I can't work with. (Well, with the exception of Rogers. But that's a whole other issue!) One thing I'm astounded by are the politics of poker. On both sides of the house. The more successful you become on the poker food chain the more your name gets swept up in scandal.  Throw out a name, any name, and I can find you someone who has an awful scandalous story they're just dying to share over cocktails.  Some of these stories even involve incriminating evidence, a weed eater and the types of edible toppings you'd find suitable for an ice cream sundae. I'm not kidding.

The bigger the name, the bigger the drama and scandals. Its the sort of scenarios that you'd expect on an episode of Survivor or in a fraternity house.

I was told, almost ominously by someone recently that it was just a matter of time before someone in the industry hates me too. This said after I pointed out that I have no scandal and I have no issue with any one individual. I put a great deal of thought into this, because I already have my ideal road map lined out, and I'd like to make my way without stepping on any one's toes. What a girl mentality too, to exist in a highly competitive and cutthroat world and genuinely expect to do so without getting swept up in the negative dynamics.

Another friend of mine uses the term "Poker Mafia".  This is humorous to me, because I absolutely see what he's talking about. I suppose this is to be expected when you exist in a world where the color of your card determines your worth and viability.

So if we're all to be swept up in scandal, I would like to go on record in advance... that I'd prefer mine to be the type that involves a weed eater and edible toppings.  I'm not much for backstabbing or playing favorites. I'm going to continue to form my own opinions about people in this machine based on my specific interactions. Don't get me wrong, I love hearing the stories just as much as the next person.. but I've also seen how sky lining yourself in this industry can have an impact that is virtually irreversible.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A memorable dinner I can't remember and ladybug rocks.

This past week needs a bulleted list to sum up.

  • I quit my job at Southland as the Poker Room Manager and accepted a position with Horseshoe Tunica as a floor supervisor/jack of all trades in their poker room. I start tomorrow. Go me.
  • Scott and I each played two events in Biloxi, I cashed none, he cashed one. I fail.
  • Scott and I had dinner at BR Prime with Monkey, Chad Brown, Kai Landry, Claudia "The Claw" Crawford and two floor/dealer people who shall remain anonymous. This dinner revealed several things.
    • Lemon Creme Brulee = Not so good.
    • Chad was a gangsta in High School.
    • Kai is delighted by spinach leaves
    • Wine can actually be described as "leathery"
    • You can make the waitstaff in a AAA rated 4 star restaurant laugh by saying the words "Chicken Dick".  Repeatedly.
    • $1,000 is the approx. cost for 8 people to gorge themselves on an extravagant meal, and then tip appropriately.
    • BR Prime does not in fact serve oysters from Seattle and their name is not "Six".
  • (1) Margarita, (1) Double Captain and Coke (1) Malibu Slammer (1) Shot of Patron (many) glasses of wine (1) Amaretto Sour (2.5) Red Snappers happens to be the exact amount of alcohol it takes for me to be obnoxious enough to get pushed out of bed, fully clothed, onto the floor where I will proceed to lay and talk shit for the following thirty minutes.
  • Saw Vince Neil in concert with Scott.  He put on a hell of a show for the 40 minutes he could be bothered to perform.  20 minutes it was just his band, and then the show was just over. It was overly disappointing but we managed to have fun the short while we were there.
Now, to the not so bulleted list.  Monk has a great blog post (Available Here) about the politics behind him being prohibited from playing in the Southern Championship.  I can't write a whole lot about this because of politics, and unlike him.. I am not in a position to speak entirely freely about the powers that be in poker.  I have to keep things civil if I want to keep my sources open for writing.  But he was missed, and the poker room was decidedly more dull without his presence.

My friend Scott and I have always had a pretty open and honest relationship.  That night, with the tequila and the butt prints on the mirrors? He got every gory detail. My on again off again flirtation with a maniacal man who may very well be the devil, he eventually gets all the details too.  And then, out of nowhere, he shows up at the poker table with a little painted rock card protector . A blue ladybug rock.  This rock is so gay, it made me want to sing show tunes. Which means one of a few things are possible. 1.. This rock is a gift. From a lady friend. And he's withholding information. It would have to be a lady friend because absolutely no respectable male would be associated with this bug rock.  2. He bought this rock himself. In which case, this is the single most embarassing thing I can think of.  3. He painted it himself.  Strike number two off the list as the single most embarassing thing I can think of. 

Either way, this stupid rock has ruined my life.  It means that there is something I don't know, and I HATE not knowing. More importantly, it means that I may need to start accepting applications for Scott's replacement.  Because, as we all know, nothing good comes after a man shows up with a ladybug rock.

If you would like to apply for the position, please send all applications to Job description includes: A willingness to take lengthy obscure trips to play poker in random destinations, be willing to be introduced as my cousin/brother/lover/ex/the homeless person I picked up on the side of the road/BFF alternately as needed and an open mind about glitter, high heels and assless leather chaps.

If for some reason we manage to survive the tragedy that is the ladybug rock, I will keep suitable applications on file for a year as possible alternates.  Scott is getting on up there in the years, and it never hurts to have a backup plan just in case a hip goes out.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sex and Poker. The Genitalia Buffet.

If you're a female poker player and can't manage to get laid, there is something seriously wrong with you.  Poker is a veritable man buffet, and not a crappy buffet either.  Sure, there are the prerequisite six day old food selections that smell bad and are crunchy. But there are also King Crab legs, Prime Rib and Oysters Rockefeller.  Every single day.

As with most buffets there is an understanding in advance that there is no take-out box.  You better enjoy as much as you like while you're there.  And don't bother trying to sneak a dinner roll home in your purse either, because you'll quickly find out that a lot of these man-delicacies are not so delightful outside the brick and mortar. A lot of them who were business owners, pro poker players and real estate investors over a vodka cranberry the night before, under the harsh light of a non-synthetic sun, are actually unemployed and quite often married. Which isn't a terrible thing, really, the deception.. because what is the allure and grandeur of the casino industry if not based in illusion?

For the most part, I avoid the buffet. I don't play poker to hook up and I almost always stick to my policy of "Nothing good happens in a casino after 12 am". Most male poker players have little game off the felt, when confronted with a female is witty, can hold her own and doesn't irritate the daylights out of them in a tournament. However, we're all human, and who hasn't had a night of indiscretions in an environment where cocktails flow free-ly and money is the lubrication for all things.

This lifestyle is not conducive to having a relationship. Or a marriage, really. Not that anyone really wants to be married these days.  In a relationship where both people play poker, both have to be financially stable and fairly evenly talented or problems will arise. There is nothing worse than dealing with someone who has an inflated perception of their ability, or an absolute inability to finance their own ventures. Its equally challenging to balance a relationship with someone who does NOT play, and try to work out the nuances of a 4 day bender or bad runs - while still garnering the support a dedicated player needs.

So with all that being said, from time to time, the man buffet starts to look appealing.  Even if its just temporary satisfaction rather than long term gratification.

In the interest of full disclosure, as a public service to all of you men (and women) I will call upon my two most significant indiscretions (which happen to be the total of the last year and a half). One of these two did just about everything wrong (see the following list) but was hot enough to be forgiven. The other did almost nothing wrong, and if I run into him in daylight somewhere as long as it isn't in a church, I might even enjoy it. Consider this my list of what NOT to do when trying to run game on a fellow card player regardless of gender.

-  Do not lie about your name, location, cash record or tournament wins.  We all have google on our phones now, and depending on where we're seated in the casino and approx. how many bars we have, we will know in less than thirty seconds just how full of shit you are. Plus, we probably don't care anyway.  Our level of care will directly correlate to exactly how attractive you are, and how much we've had to drink.

- Poker is a small world. We're all going to see each other again. Probably soon. Its a really good idea to have a basic, quick discussion about that and try to sort out the stalker-likelihood you're dealing with.  One time, ages ago, I let some whack job buy me a cocktail after a tournament. We talked, he was creepy, I bailed. Apparently he took my abrupt departure as "playing hard to get".  Now I see this fucker absolutely everywhere. If I'm at a final table, there is a 75% probability that he's seated to my right. He has this amazing propensity for accidentally stalking me. And he's doing a great job. Its been about four weeks since I've had to encounter him and I was starting to feel like we'd finally broken the trend.. then my column comes out this month, and sure as shit.. his picture is right there on the same page with mine.  He's accidentally stalking me in my column now. Delightful.

- If you do manage to hook up with someone you meet in a card room, under no circumstances.. before or after, should you ever utter the words "Oh shit, my wife just called."  Even if this is in fact the truth. Instead say.. "I'm going to go get ice/go home/discretely disappear while you're in the shower". Anyone who is buying into the illusion wants the full service experience. Don't blow it.  As a man, if you don't understand this, imagine your freshly conquered lady-friend declaring "Oh no, I hope that isn't a herpes flare up I feel coming on."  Herpes and wives. Not entirely different.

- Do not gossip. Do not share those pictures on your cell phone. (Yes, I'm talking to you. The rest of you, don't ask), Do not expect just because we shared a nice dinner and cocktails in one state, for that person to necessarily remember it three states later.  These events tend to bleed together. It isn't personal.

- If a dealer hits on you, and you aren't interested. Do not say.. "Sure I'll meet you at the bar, say.. around midnight" with no intention of showing up.  There is a very high probability that he or she will be dealing you cards the next day for 6 hours and you won't be able to escape. This is compounded if the dealer's dad is actually a friend of yours, and subsequently turning down his facebook requests will inspire his entire extended family to prompt you to add him. Speaking purely hypothetically here. Don't judge me.

- DO be funny. DO keep things cool. If you actually WANT to see these people again, understand that they're going to be gone. A lot. To a lot of different places. Have fun, keep things low stress and be direct. The odds are though that you're going to have to mow through approx. 7,345 players inflicted with a mild case of douchebaggery to find one worth keeping around, and really, who has time for that? So keep your expectations low. 

One night stands, or even one-event stands.. and sometimes.. one poker season stands are not like your typical hookups.  You can't escape these people. So every lie you tell, every awkward "I'm sorry, this has never happened before, it must be the alcohol" moment you share, every little detail you're going to be forced to witness again and again.  Or quit playing. And take up badminton. So use common sense and consider adopting my policy.  If it begins and ends after midnight, you're probably going to regret it at some point.

And for those occasions that you don't regret it (We'll call both of them Oysters Rockefeller and Prime Rib respectively).. the amount of poker lingo that can be turned into sexual innuendo is far more vast than one would imagine. And highly entertaining.