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.