Sunday, July 31, 2011

Naked Men in a Hot Tub, Barnhart, Cooper, Updates and Sparkly Things.

Breakfast and other revelations.

This morning I had breakfast with Sam Barnhart and Josh Cooper.  Actually, I was having breakfast with Josh and at the exact moment we were discussing Sam's success this summer, he walked through the door.  I motioned him over to join us, and he did so without a moment's hesitation.

I'm a sucker for sparkly treasure.  Sam's bracelet, which he let me appropriately fondle.

I've interviewed Sam a handful of times now, seen him in the poker room, railed him at events.. but I've never sat down and talked to him without needing information for a column or touching base with him in whatever tournament he's currently smokin'.

Sam is funny.  Hysterically, you wouldn't believe it unless you witnessed it, funny.  He tells stories with exuberance and thoroughly enjoys himself.  There were moments during our breakfast when I couldn't see straight for the tears from laughing, and I'd look at Josh in utter disbelief.

He'd recall stories of being nearly robbed at the Rio, or his experience in the ultra luxe gym at the Bellagio.  For the record, he's a fan. Loves the gym there.  Not so much the hot tub.  He feels that there should be a mandatory towel policy, because from his perspective, he just doesn't want to crawl into a hot tub with a bunch of naked dudes. He talked about the pressures of his new found poker fame, and how the 99 of the approx. 100 cousins he didn't know he had have all of a sudden cropped up wanting to be best friends.

This is the image I had in mind while Sam was talking. But with less beer, and more nakedness. 
Don't you guys just all wanna jump in?
I'm a straight female and even I want no part in this.

Being around Sam is a delight.  I've spent the better part of my career dealing with poker players. Some arrogant, some suave and persuasive, some negative and whining.  Sam is just a good guy from Arkansas who is always enjoying himself.

I've mentioned Sam a few dozen times in my blog, but Josh is a new character to the cast that I haven't had a chance to dissect in my blog yet.  Josh is a touring dealer. Apparently, him and I have had a half dozen or so near-misses in the past.  He was supposed to attend a dinner I hosted, unbeknownst to me, and cancelled.  We were potentially going to be roommates this summer in Vegas, also unbeknownst to me, but I ended up not going and he found other roommates. He's dealt to me at events, and even had cocktails in the same general group I was out with following a modicum of tournament success here or there.. but our interaction has been unremarkable. We have no less than 2198348 mutual friends. Some of them, even close friends. He's also one of the very few men I can list on the hopefully-perpetually-short charter of guys I've flirted with.. and have completely shot me down. I seriously got the "It's not you, it's me" speech. I know, right?

Crash AND Burn.

This tour through Tunica though, we've managed to link up and share more than a few excellent conversations rife with witty banter and more text messages than should be considered normal. He's a million miles from home, locked in a hotel for 10 plus days, and I'm taking advantage of him being a captive audience. He's a poker anomaly.  The most excellent manners, ethics and perspectives. A stark difference from the typical industry employee.

Josh is the sort of guy that I could throw into just about any social scenario and he'd be the perfect companion. He never appears bored or less than gracious, and he can talk to anyone.  Plus, he doesn't make me nuts. Which ranks him among a very small group that includes famed characters such as Sharkady,  Mr. Dick, Monk, Kai and Scott "The Creeper" Williams.  There are others of course, but I list this to point out that it takes a sort of eclectic soul for me to really connect with.  I have ADD or something, and my attention span is limited. Josh is like a glittery ball. And we all know how I feel about glittery balls. I'm a fan.

Mesmerizing, no?

I'm not one of those people who stress about the end of events, when it's time for everyone to go home. One thing I'm confident in is how quickly we all see each other again, and how accessible life on the circuit is. So though I'll miss Sam once he goes out to Vegas for the remainder of the year, I know I'll see him when I make it out that way. And though I'll miss the glittery ball that is Josh, I'll get to badger him in a couple of weeks in Biloxi.

A few housekeeping items that I've been asked about by readers.

Mr. Suave from "How Not to Pick up a Woman", cropped back up last week. He brought me flowers. Well, a flower anyway. He apologized profusely for being such a douchebag and crossing the line. He was handsome as ever, but I just couldn't get past the idea of choking him and slapping him around. (His request, not mine). Apparently he read the blog (Who knew he was literate?) and was mortified. I assured him I'd never "out" him and no one would ever know his identity.  He asked if he could hug me, and we parted with a firm handshake and well wishes.

My housekeeper is still keeping house. She talks a LOT, so I generally hide when she comes over, but I like the gal and am appreciative for her help.

The WPO numbers are incredibly high. The turnout has been excellent.  I have a few pictures of my WPO experience so-far. I will include them for your voyeuristic pleasure.  I'll put a lot more in my summation blog post, but these are just some of the highlights of the nights/mornings out and the events so far.

This is how they grow poker room supervisors in MO.

Not as salacious as it looks.. But I was happy for a St. Louis group hug.
Dayan and Stephen.. at Stephen's first event.

Mitch Harris: Superstar.
BadHat being a Badass.

Ryan Potter, being a pimp.

Kevin, tearing up the cash games.
And now, a little rant/bitch session.  I'm entitled. Skip this part if you're not feeling empathetic.

Working in the casino industry can be the most isolating experience a person can endure.  You're absolutely surrounded by people, but your life cycle goes something like this Sleep, Work, Sleep, Work, Sleep, Work, a couple days off, then back to the grind. You're a vessel for other people's entertainment, which means if you're performing your job function properly, you're never really seen. You just provide the best entertainment experience possible.  If you're lucky, you'll make a few real connections with coworkers and find some levity during your shifts.  Dealers in particular experience this. 8 or 10 hours of passing briefly through other people's great time, with interaction limited to a witty comment or a friendly greeting.

Cue emo picture.

Grave shift is a wonder to me.  It doesn't matter how long you're on it, you never quite adjust.  Or at least, I don't. It is socially crippling too.  Even the hardest partiers among my friends just can't quite make it until my 8 am off-time and if they do, I'm babysitting a bunch of mentally challenged Betty Ford hopefuls. My rock and roll hour is between 9 am and noon.  Let's face it.. nothing mysterious, sexy or thrilling ever happened during that time frame. For anyone.  Sometimes on Sunday during "All you can drink Mimosa" brunch, I'll find myself with a few octogenarians with a penchant for champagne over at the Goldstrike Cafe'.  Sure, with a midnight start time I can go out in the evenings.. but usually I have to wind down a few hours before things really get hoppin'.

My 9 am Party Crowd.

It sounds like I'm bitching, but I'm not.  I think I'm just being reflective.  I've been in a weird state of not-depressed, but not exactly jubilant. I am extremely lucky to have the job that I do, doing something that I have the potential to be great at, in a field that excites me. I wouldn't trade it for anything that might be "easier" right now in terms of hours or expectations.

I think it's really important to try to establish some normalcy while on grave. Do typical things that people would do on any other shift. Cook a meal, watch a movie. Pair up with people who are on the same regiment and go outside the casino on more than just your days off. It's very easy, if you don't, to treat your work week like a perpetual business trip.  You shut down normal life, work five days and then spend your two days off realigning everything a million different ways to integrate a normal schedule. 

Sunshine: Goof for the soul. Make time for it.

Okay, I'll get off my soap box now and get ready to head South for a few days.  I'll be staying at Sam's Town, so any of you who are not-creepers and have found the unfortunate end of sold out rooms.. hit me up. I have an extra bed and likely won't be in my room during the hours you would be. If I don't respond to your message, it doesn't necessarily mean that I think you're creepy.

But it might. <3

Come see me this week!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Winehouse Takes a Bad Beat, Taming the Cock (With Photos!), WPO Off to a Great Start!

I was on the fence about doing a blog post.  I really should be getting ready for work and heading to Tunica early so I can be social and say Hi to everyone at the WPO.  I haven't been down there since it started Thursday, which is unusual for me.  However, while checking my email one last time I ran across this particularly delightful headline on MSNBC.

Best. Attempt. Evar.
Suicide attempt? Really? Wouldn't this, by definition, be a suicide success?  If in fact Amy Winehouse's death was even in the ballpark of suicide, I'd say she did a bang up job. Attempt, my ass! I like the morbid humor of the song "Rehab" now. I wonder how long it'll be before scandalous photos of her death come out.  She isn't high security enough for extensive measures to be taken to avoid it.. like with Michael Jackson or Liz Taylor.  So you know someone was snapping iPhone pics while they cataloged the scene of the non-crime.

The WPO is off to a huge start. I'm surprised.  I mean, it's always pulled big crowds.. the second largest annual event in Tunica, eclipsed only by the WSOPCE at Harrah's in Jan. But I really didn't expect fields of 300 plus.  The economy hasn't been very supportive of poker, and we're an especially poverty ridden region to begin with.

I work grave the next five days, and I'm staying on property at Goldstrike during my entire work week.  Which means I'll more than likely live in the Oak Hall Ballroom with the poker players.  Which suits me just fine.  I love these events.  It was the first event I ever went to in Atlantic City that hooked me on poker and working in this industry.  The familiarity among acquainted players, the 100,000 chips clanking in unison, the mass exodus during dinner break.  I love the electricity in the air, the exhaustion of both the staff and the players around 2 am, the hangovers at noon the following day. I know those of you who play for a living, or tour with the circuit will say "It gets old after awhile.." but really, this has been my life for years now. Five plus, I suppose. Longer, casually. You'd think the luster would have worn off by now.

Goldstrike needed this surge of business, and the spillover will make the cash action at Horseshoe better than ever. I'm looking forward to getting to work tonight and seeing everyone I've been out of touch with since the last event.

I've been spending a lot of time out at the farm lately, hanging out with mom.  She enjoys going to Estate Sales, and I'm voyeuristic by nature, so I sometimes go with her.  This house we went into this weekend had a massive sunken living room.  I submit to you, exhibit A:

You see inventive design, I see party pit.

The picture doesn't really do it justice, but the sunken span is about 20 feet wide.. and it's a solid four foot deep.  Why anyone would do this is beyond me, but it brings to mind the question.. what would YOU do with this space?  The lovely elderly lady (Now committed to some old folk's home in Texas), made it a sitting area. Perhaps I still have the mentality of a 22 year old, but I immediately see this space filled with balls from Chuck E. Cheese.  Do you have any idea the parties we could throw? Seriously.

Today while at Mom's, I went out to the chicken coop.. one of my favorite places on the planet, and liberated a few of her caged chickens.  I'm the chicken enthusiast in the family, and she's naturally cautious about introducing roosters to hang out with one another.  I've spent hours, hundreds and hundreds of hours, hanging out with chickens.. so there is very little about their brain I can't tap into.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, that is a tattoo of a tribal chicken on my arm. I told you I'm a dedicated enthusiast.
Please ignore the Catholic School Girl throwback getup. That's another story.

Chickens are the greatest pet a person can have.  They make you breakfast every single day, and if one has the audacity to go rogue, you can eat it. They're genuinely happy to see you, they have imaginative personalities and they can be beautiful. I've had chickens that were so delighted to see me, they'd hop into my lap and flop over to have their bellies petted. Really, until you've owned a few dozen, don't judge me. I have a 12 inch tattoo of a tribal chicken on my right arm for a reason.

Today's Killer turned Kitten. My new BFF.

When dealing with an aggressive rooster, in today's case a Bantam Minorca, the fastest way to break their Napoleon Complex is to pick them up and carry them everywhere with you for awhile.  This particular little bird screamed bloody murder when I accosted him, and by the end of my time out there, he was laying on his back cooing like a newborn.  He's my new BFF.

Moving back to poker...

The world series is over.  Sam Barnhart got 17th.  This is all old news by now, but I'm still really happy for him. As I said in either my previous post or my column (I get them mixed up), this is just the beginning of the Mississippi poker season and I'm looking forward to it.  I haven't been to the Beau Rivage since January and I am long overdue for some dolphin watching and bad beats.

I'm going to actually go make some sense of the bird's nest that is my hair right now and make my way down south.  I hope to see several of you at the WPO, especially as we draw closer to the main event the first week in August.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Main Event: Sam Barnhart, Claudia Crawford, My Poker-Crush Slaughters Frenchie AND Brazil.

I was asked repeatedly to make predictions regarding the 2011 Main Event.  I declined, because really.. who can do anything other than guess with a field of almost 7,000?

To my credit though, in Horseshoe Poker room back at the end of April.. I told WSOP Circuit Champion Kyle Cartwright that Sam Barnhart was the one to watch this year.  To which he replied.. "$20/$40 Player? Nah.." I'm glad a couple of dealers and a friend or two heard me.  Otherwise I'd have no one to vouch for my sentiment.  I'm sure Kyle won't echo it these days. My last two columns have featured Barnhart as the regional "hot ticket".  Boy, has he ever lived up to every journalistic dream I've pinned on him and then some.

What I couldn't predict, was just exactly how fantastic Sam would do. Back in Feb. when Al Theriac and I sweated him at the Delta Gold (A measly $10K win compared to the haul he's bringing in these days), I stopped thinking of Sam as "$20/$40 Player Sam" and started thinking of him as a potential tournament phenom. I put him as a wild card pick to win the $1,000,000 National Championship, and he smoked it. I expected a deep run for the ME, but I don't think any of us expected what he's managed to do so far.

I'll admit, he's played some hands that have made me incredibly nervous.  His bluff/shove with the flush draw (K4d when he was dominated by AK or QK).. had me scratching my head. But he obviously knew what he was doing.  It worked out for him.

I've kept in touch with Sam throughout this event and he's remained positive the entire time.  Just an hour ago, when I asked him if he thought he might actually be able to win this thing he responded "Absolutely!",  Days ago, when this was still a long road to go.. his confidence was just as strong.

Literally, the nicest guy in poker. Clearly, they don't always finish last!

The coolest thing about Sam making the top 30 (so far) in the ME is the tremendous amount of camaraderie it has created here in Tunica. I don't think there is one of us who isn't glued to the updates.  My own mother, who has been learning about poker this year, has become a die hard fan, texting me updates while I'm at work and multi-screening chip counts/pokernews/live streams.

My Mom, analyzing hand replays and calculating percentages. This makes me proud. :)

Mom and I have spent more time together this week than we have in the six months prior, total, just watching and railing Sam (And Claudia as well, but I'll get to her next). It's been fun to share the excitement of the series with her and listen to her speculate "Well, he could have a flush here.. but the other guy is definitely drawing to a one or two outter..".  Not a conversation I'd ever have expected to have with my Mom.

Claudia Crawford is another one we were really rooting for.  Not only for the whole "It'd be awesome to have a chick final table this sucker" factor, but because she's best friends with many of my good friends.  I had dinner with Claudia back in January at the Beau Rivage (Along with Monkey, Chad Brown, Kai Landry, the insufferable Tony Dick, Scott Williams and a few others).. and she is such an animated, beautiful gal. The kind you want to hate, but can't because you instantly like her.  When she was eliminated (Hey, a top 100 finish is still amazing!), it was crushing. The other two chicks? I didn't care if they made it or not to be honest.

Here is a cute interview Claudia did, obviously prior to her elimination.

Today while watching, I noticed how good lookin' the Darcourt, the Frenchie with the pink hair, is. He had a healthy chip stack with him solidly in the top 10. I made a post commenting on him and the 6th place player from Brazil (The very cute Hilton Laborda with the flag wrapped around him for the duration of the tournament.. ). Within minutes of my post going up, not one.. but both of them suffered ridiculous coolers that ultimately lead to both being eliminated.  My love is a curse! I will now be offering my services to those of you who need somewhat attractive men eliminated from your table.  I'll proclaim my adoration and you can relish in their swift demise. I get 20% of your profits. Win-Win.

Upon request, Sam texted me a picture of his stack from a first hand perspective, and it just happens to have an excellent shot of Guillaume Darcourt's KK vs AA (And his very stern "I'm about to hit the rail" look).

I love this pic. Especially as it follows my post about Darcourt.. just before hit he the rail. A++ Sam!
Here is your required reading, while I go back to watching the live stream of the WSOP.  Monkey has a hysterical summation of his nightmare summer HERE.  The pictures of Kai snuggling his tomato are so priceless, I think I'll print 'em off and make 8' by 10' posters out of them. The video of Kai panhandling in Vegas, post Main Event Bust-Out is pretty tremendous as well. Perhaps one of the best parts though, is Monkey making short work of the lucky 'mater.

Speaking of Kai, his summation of his own Main Event Saga is poignantly spelled out in THIS post. You don't want to miss it. Sometimes a picture IS worth a thousand words.

I have a million other things I could write about. My trip to Heber Springs, the upcoming WPO, getting a new-used car, etc..etc. None of this is nearly as relevant as the Main Event right now, which is down to 30.  They're going to 27 tonight and I'm 100% certain Sam will be among them.  It's going to be a challenge to make it to the top 9, but I have faith in him. He's free rollin' anyway..this seat came from him winning the National Championship.. the Championship Seat came from winning the Tunica Main Event. So any cash is a victory, but I'd like to see him bring home Two Bracelets.  I'm off to the rail. I'll see you all at the World Poker Open starting this week!

Just a pretty summer sunset.
Appreciate the BIG things.
AND the little things.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I have nothing to say because I'm busy being emo.

For those not savvy to the slang terms of the time, the definition for "Emo" according to Slang Dictionary is as follows:

Definition: Emo is an abbreviation for Emotionally Disturbed teen or pre-teen person. One would think that the whole world is against them and even consider severance from friends and/or family to provide the need for more personal attention/involvement.
Usage: Tina is such and Emo, moping around all day long thinking the world is against her.

Or, the one I like better:

Definition: Complete idiots. So called "emotionals" often attempt to get depressed about anything and everything and over react emotionally for no reason other than to be attention whores.

Okay, so obviously I'm not really emo.  I could never pull off the hairstyle and vintage jeans, anyway. And who has time to cut themselves these days? My insurance deductible is through the roof and antibiotics won't earn me much street cred. Yeah, emo isn't for me. I'll just be part of generation "Blah".

I try to knock out a blog post a week.  I've been slacking because, honestly, poker has been the last thing I want to talk about lately.  The people I care about have been running terrible in Vegas with few exceptions, my job is stressing me out to the nines, and I'm at an extreme crossroads in terms of what the next step for me is.

With options like these, it's a wonder I ever leave the house.

The evil bitchy side of me can think of a million things and people I can relentlessly make fun of here.  It'd make you laugh and would only cost me one or two facebook friends.  A small penance to pay for comedic genius.

The frustrated employee in me could write a novel about why my job has me pulling my hair out, why I feel like a failure almost every day and how I'm up against challenges I may not be able to beat. And people I may not be able to win over.

Female Pattern Baldness - A potential side effect of this industry.

The scared little girl in me could explain how I'm at a crossroads of decisions, where no matter what I choose I lose something or someone important to me. A win-win full of lose-lose. But I don't want to talk about it.

The romantic in me could write a tri-fold brochure about someone who makes me smile even if he has no idea to what extent. And how irrelevant it is, but nice all at the same time.

The pissed off Republican in me could go to Federal Prison for the things I'd like to say about our current government.  The true crime enthusiast could vomit up a whole slew of words to chat about the travesty that is the Casey Anthony verdict.

And mostly, the newly-turned 31 year old woman in me, who is sitting out on the family farm alone at 1:15 in the morning watching bad 90's movies from Netflix and listening to the frogs croak, just wants to curl up and go to sleep.

Mel Gibson's been rockin' that hair since I was in diapers.

I don't know whats wrong with me.  I'm in a mild, controllable funk of epic miniature proportions. I need a magic 8 ball, a trust fund, a time travel device, a jet on standby, a handful of roofies and a hug. The roofies aren't for me, so I'm not planning anything self destructive. No worries.

I'll be around. And with more uplifting and informative posts in the near future.  For now though, I think I am going to curl up and go to sleep.  Hope you're all well and haven't completely forgotten me. :)