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.