An extra set of hands

  I took a different approach towards kick starting my fitness goals in January. I didn’t join a gym or start a new exercise routine, instead I picked up a part time job working construction. Coming from a late night poker schedule this took some significant lifestyle adjustments, but that’s exactly what I was looking for. I ended up walking down this path while following a thought about changing the way I value time.  A thought that came along while I was lending my friends and family an extra set of hands.

I’m at my happiest when I am helping people.  I’m the guy that shows up on moving day. When I feel aimless, there is nothing better than helping others reach their goals.  Sometimes I won’t have much experience, but the value of having me around is worth the time it takes to train me.

My construction job was helping a couple of friends renovate a rental property.  They paid me a wage equal to (really above) my skill level.  If I was evaluating the job purely from a financial perspective I wouldn’t have been able to justify it. When I added in the construction skills, the full body workout, the demo hammer therapy sessions, and the lessons I could learn about flipping houses and rental properties, I decided the job had enough value to invest the time.

It was rewarding on many levels to help my friends build something, if only for a couple weeks.  I’ve been going through some major transitions to start the new year and this job gave me purpose and support in a difficult time. I’m grateful for the opportunity and my friends’ kindness and generosity.

I’m looking for jobs that mean more to me than a paycheck.  Jobs that have a positive impact on the people I’m working with, the customers I’m providing a service to, and myself. The idea of making a living while nourishing people appeals to me.   In my second new job I’m accomplishing this goal in a different way.

I use a couple self massaging products daily and they have had a tremendous positive impact in my life. I love to tell my friends and family about them and I have sold a decent number for online retailers through my referrals. So I’ve actually been working my second job for a couple years now, I just haven’t been getting paid.   I decided it was time to remedy that situation.

Getting started I’m selling out of the trunk of my car and on ebay.   I’ve really enjoyed pitching these products to my friends and family and hope to turn my passion for these tools into a supplemental income stream. I’m going to do a separate post for each of them, but I put some shameless self promotional links for those who know what they are and would like to support me at the bottom of this post😀 (Note to local friends and family: I’m learning the ins and outs of shipping and I can sell these products to you cheaper and still make more profit if I do it in person.)

These are the first two new jobs I’ve worked this year, but I’m looking for more. I’m interested in learning about yoga, meditation, massage, nutrition, nature, and counseling. I’m open to any opportunity that nourishes people and all suggestions are welcome. I’m also open to travel, so if you need help with a job and have a couch for me to crash on, I might have an extra set of hands for you.

Shameless promotional links:

Thera Cane:


An introvert’s New Year’s Resolution:

When I was 12 my mother died. She was diagnosed with brain cancer before I was old enough to understand what was happening. When I was 9 she had an operation to remove the tumor in her brain. They were able to successfully remove the tumor, but we were left with only a shell of the incredible woman she once was.

The family’s pain was immense. The three years between her surgery and her passing were an excruciating open wound of grief, a mourning process that wouldn’t end. My father was our rock. He watched his world crumble before him and still had the strength to remain composed and tend to his two sons. He never raised a hand or even his voice to us in frustration. He didn’t dive into a bottle. He put his head down and carried us through the darkness as best he could.
My father is a great man, but he is still only one man. He continued working full time to provide for us, so often my brother and I were left to our own devices. As a child, I was ill equipped to deal with issues of life and death, disease, and terminally ill care. Walking into my parents bedroom and seeing my mother laying there day after day took its toll on my mental state.
I slowly slipped into a deep depression. I missed my mother. I was afraid of death. I would spend hours in the dark thinking about dying and being buried alone in a coffin for eternity. I felt an incredible guilt towards the end of her care as I started to wish that she would die. I couldn’t take the pain anymore. I couldn’t watch her or the rest of my family continue to suffer, I wanted it to be over.
The extended grieving process honed my coping mechanisms to a fine edge. I had limited options at that age, but I used what I had to the best of my ability. I learned how to run and hide like a pro. When I couldn’t sneak away to my friend’s house for the weekend I would seek internal refuge. I read fantasy books, watched television for hours, and played video games late into the night. I built myself an enormous castle inside my head and raised the draw bridge.
I can still remember walking home from school and thinking about the video game I was going to play when I got there. My mind would focus all its energy on whatever distraction it could maintain to avoid the issues it had no way to process. Unfortunately these coping mechanism long outlived their usefulness and have continued through my adult years, often to my detriment.
I graduated from high school and headed off to college. I continued the theme of “run and hide” and chose a school as far away from home as I could get. I ended up in Missouri. I didn’t have the social skills to build a support system of friends and quickly started to relapse into depression. I started playing an online video game obsessively and had to withdraw in the middle of my second semester to avoid failing all my classes.
I returned to Texas and moved back in with my father and step mother. I continued gaming in excess, but I was able to control it enough to enroll in a local university and continue my education. I will always remember the Myers-Briggs exercise we did during orientation. 100 kids filled out a questionnaire and it told us what category we fit into.  We were then told to go stand in our square, so we could meet others like ourselves. I was an INFJ (introversion, intuition, feeling, judging) and, as I have most of my life, I stood alone in my square.
I moved on campus with an old childhood friend who had recently moved back to Texas. It was good to live with someone familiar, but my social skills still weren’t up to the task of building a support system. I eventually joined a fraternity to try and fill the gap, which quickly alienated me from my friend. I wasn’t frat boy material, it always felt disingenuous, but I stuck with it for a couple years, enough time to meet a few girls and make a couple connections.
I eventually fell back into gaming to cope with my isolation. I was able to complete enough of my course work and hold down a part time job to at least maintain a semblance of stability. This is around the point I discovered online poker. Online poker was an answer to my prayers, a productive video game for me to sit in my castle and produce something more than points on a scoreboard.
For whatever reason online poker is one of the few games I have never felt addicted to. It was a way for me to make an income using the skill sets I had, but it was never an all consuming obsession like most of my previous online excursions. I was never an amazing poker player. In the early days just a basic understanding of strategy and the patience to wait for a good hand were enough to be profitable. I would put in enough sessions to pay for my bills and then go back to playing my other games.
I’ve never held a full time job outside the poker world. My last job was as a help desk tech support during my senior year of college. I worked all the night shifts and once the managers went home at five, I would supplement my income with party poker sessions while I was resetting people’s passwords on the phone.
Once I got out of school I decided to try and start a home game with a hustler I’d met playing in underground games. We were supposed to go in on an apartment and split all the bills and profits. He showed up once to drop off a poker table, chips, and chairs, and he never came back again. I tried to make a go of it, but as it turns out, an introverted gamer without many social skills doesn’t make a very good poker promoter.
Thus began my career as a poker dealer. I started off picking up the worst parts of shifts from a dealer who would call me when the game was bad and he wanted to go home. Sometimes, when the game got good after he called me, I would show up and he would tell me he had changed his mind and keep the shift. I was eventually able to bribe the floor man with a sack of weed to get my own shifts. This particular establishment wasn’t exactly a bastion of moral character.
I could continue at length with stories about my dealing career and underground days, but I bring it up more as an aside than as a central plot line. I always enjoyed the service aspect of dealing and running games, it suited me much better than being a player. One of the positives of being an introvert is the ability to realistically asses your skill sets, and when I do that, playing poker doesn’t match up well with my best qualities.
I have dealt, played, and run poker rooms for over 15 years. The house games have been a source of easy money that it has been tough to quit. Instead of investing the time to build new skills and move towards a better match for my personality, I fall back into the routine of picking up shifts when things get tough and hiding in my castle with my games and stories.
My New Year’s resolution is to break out of my castle. To build the skills I need to establish a social network that can support me as I attempt to achieve a more fulfilling life. I will focus my energies only on positive experiences and people. I will not be discouraged by the inevitable set backs and back slides along the way. I will live in the present and be grateful for the blessings I have.
Thank you so much for reading my story. If any of this resonates with you please feel free to ask me any questions you have or tell me your own story.

Rocky road to the Rocky Mountains



Been making some lifestyle changes that have moved blogging and social media down the priority list a few spots. Very happy with the results for my overall quality of life, so writing is likely to stay on the back burner for now. I will come out of literary hibernation from time to time to tell a story I find worthwhile, but I won’t be putting in the hours I did the last couple years.

Rocky road to the Rocky Mountains.

La recently decided she wanted to add the Colorado Black Hawk circuit stop to the schedule. I wasn’t convinced. I was enjoying the beautiful Dallas weather, sleeping in our bed, and getting some much needed exercise. I eventually told her she should go by herself if she wanted to grind, but I didn’t feel like it and I didn’t think there would be much Omaha action for me anyway. She wasn’t very happy about the idea of traveling without me and decided to make a few last minute compromises that would allow me to enjoy the Colorado state of mind while she got on the mtt grind. Once I agreed we got all the travel arrangements sorted quickly and packed for an early morning flight.

As is often the case with our schedule, its easier for us to stay up a few extra hours to catch an early morning flight than it is to get up after a short night’s sleep. While we were waiting for the flight I spent the time enjoying our compromise. I was deep into a Colorado state of mind by the time we left for the airport and that would make for an more interesting morning than I had anticipated.

We got the car to the long term parking and got on the shuttle to the airport. As we were about to exit the lot I did my usual pocket pat down and noticed there was no bulge where my phone should be. I blurted out an expletive and quickly told the driver I needed to go back to the car. He told me there were a couple other passengers in the shuttle and if they needed to get to a gate we would have to wait and come back. If we had to wait we would miss our flight. Luckily both the other passengers were understanding and not late, so we were able to turn around and grab my phone. Crisis averted.

We arrived at the terminal and went through the bag check process. La was annoyed by my forgetfulness and she tilt registered for the flight without checking all our bags. The leftover was a light duffel bag we often carry with us, its bulky and annoying to lug through the airport, especially when we can check it for free. I wanted to run through the menu again and check the bag, but she just wanted to carry it. We disagreed, she walked off, and I tried to stumble through the registration process without her. I massively failed at trying to re-register and check a bag and I ended up with a second boarding pass and a duffel bag.

I was steamed a little from our argument and my struggles with the front desk people and their automated systems. I made my way to security, quickly jammed everything into the bins and went through the scan. I then emptied the bins completely and caught up with La at the gate. I calmed down, caught my breath, sat down and did the pocket pat down. This time my travel roll was missing, and my heart dropped…

When I started traveling some of the old school road gamblers I traveled with taught me to never keep all my roll in one spot. Keep a little money handy, but don’t let the world know how much money you are traveling with and make yourself a target. I’ve lived by that wisdom ever since and never had more than a dime or two w my ID. So my concern wasn’t so much for the money, it was just a couple buy-ins. In true poker player fashion I was more worried for my credit cards, ID, health insurance card, etc. and the hell of automated menus, lines, and forms it would take to get them back.

I double checked my pockets and bag and ran back to security. My mind started racing and thinking about the shady TSA agents who stole electronics out of people’s bags and sold them on eBay. If they would steal an iPad out of a suitcase they could certainly grab a loose roll some sloppy tourist left out in a bin right? By the time I got back to the checkpoint I had almost convinced myself one of the TSA agents had snatched it out of my hat, where I tossed it when I was hurrying through the first time.

I ran back into security and started talking to a TSA agent. He asked me all the standard have you checked everywhere questions and I affirmed that I had. Then he asked me which line I went through and I pointed to the line. He went over and started talking to his agents. They stopped the belt and did a quick inspection. While I was giving them suspicious looks they were looking everywhere they could think to and they didn’t find anything. There were about ten people waiting in the line that were also watching with annoyed looks waiting to get on with their travel day.

So at this point I had five TSA agents and a couple lines of travelers looking at me and the TSA agent came back over and asked me again if I was sure I checked everywhere. I assured him I had and I hadn’t seen it since I put it in my hat. To emphasize the point I lifted my hat off my head… and that’s when my roll fell out and landed on the metal table with a “thump”.

It was a strange wave of emotions that followed. I was relieved, embarrassed, amused, and ready to get the hell out of there. So I did all I could do really, I laughed, grabbed my roll off table, mumbled some half-ass apology about not sleeping, and bounced. After a rather rocky start, the CO trip actually went very well. It was a great stop and we had an amazing time on and off the felt. If I find some more time and motivation I might follow this entry with a short trip report of the rest of our mile high adventures.

Thanksgiving in Vegas


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After our poker trip to Tahoe we were planning to travel to Dallas for Thanksgiving.  About halfway through the trip we got word that La’s mother wasn’t doing well and we decided to reroute and spend some time with her and the Cali family.  We had purchased our original round trip tickets with points, but Southwest airlines is our favorite carrier for a reason.

We fly Southwest for their cheap prices and flexibility and they didn’t disappoint, but they don’t fly to Fresno.  Southwest refunded our return tickets to Dallas and allowed us to use the points to buy one way tickets to Vegas, where we could catch a flight to Fresno on a regional carrier.  We had a two day layover in Vegas before we could catch our flight to Fresno, not a bad thing, but it meant we would be spending Thanksgiving day in Vegas.

Vegas isn’t a bad place for a short layover.

With family all over the country we are used to having to reschedule Thanksgiving meals before and after the actual day to celebrate with everyone.  As long as we all get together the date on the calendar isn’t important.  This would be the first year we were going to spend Thanksgiving day without either side of our family though, and spending Thanksgiving day at a casino buffet didn’t sound appealing at all.

One of our favorite spots on the strip, Mon Ami Gabi
Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner at “Mon Ami Gabi” with my baby.

Luckily for us, Vegas is home base for much of our traveling poker family from the WSOP circuit.  Before we even took off from Tahoe we had our short trip booked up with friends to see and a couple Thanksgiving dinners to attend.  Unfortunately we weren’t able to catch up with all our friends in such a short stay, but we will be back soon to catch up with those we missed.

First stop was our good friend Alan Fowler’s house for a pre-Thanksgiving get together.  We used to see Alan on the circuit regularly when he was one of the traveling WSOP media guys, however the birth of his baby girl took him off the road. So this celebration was both a reunion with an old friend and a chance to meet his better half Mia and new baby girl Maliah.  We had a wonderful evening with the Fowler family, it was great to catch up with Alan and meet both the beautiful ladies in his life.

Great to finally meet Mia and baby Maliah (picture by a proud daddy, Alan Fowler)

Thanksgiving day rolled around, and like most things in Vegas, the day started a little later than it would anywhere else. We had two dinners to attend and we didn’t have to be anywhere until 5pm.  This gave me time to hop a cab over to the Riviera and redeem a 500 dollar free play coupon from a summer promotion.  They had changed the machines since the last trip and it took me a minute to track down one with solid payouts, but I found a bonus poker machine that fit the bill. I definitely caught some Thanksgiving run good as I was able to clear the free play and bink another 500 cheese plus cab fare.

After the VP session  I headed back to the hotel and woke La up so she could get ready for the festivities.  We were spending the day with two of our favorite people from the circuit: Adrian Lopez (@akrisl55) and Miranda Schmidt (@mirandaschmidt2). We weren’t the only additions to the festivities though, there were a couple other circuit dealers passing through Vegas that joined in as well.  It was a very WSOP Thanksgiving.


Thanksgiving day felt like any other year, which is to say we spent it surrounded by friends and family.  We are grateful for the hospitality of our poker family on such short notice and feel blessed to know so many amazing people across the country. After an excellent Thanksgiving day in Vegas we caught a plane to Fresno to be with mom and the Cali family.

On such short notice we were only able to get together a little of the Cali family.

After an enjoyable layover we finally made it home to mom.  Our stomachs were thankful for a few hours of rest between meals and we were happy to be home.  Its always great to be back in Cali, and as you can see from the picture, we have plenty of family to catch up with here.

Big things in the Big Easy


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The 2011 New Orleans poker trip report was an unfortunate casualty of our hectic end of season points chase and my side projects. New Orleans is one of our favorite stops on the WSOP circuit, so much to see… and do… and drink… and eat… especially eat. There was no shortage of action on the felt either. Many heros made deep runs, and on my birthday I got a rare triple final table sweat with three friends in three different ring events on the stage at the same time. I really had no intention of spending my birthday in a poker room, but I’m always happy to support my friends no matter the day. I’m not trying to make you feel sorry for me either, I stretched my birthday celebration out across the whole two week trip to compensate- a lil trick I learned from Lala.

Out on Bourbon street. Thanks to Jordan Cutter (@VegasJdub) for being our tour/drink guide.

We always eat well in New Orleans. We don’t rent a car when we go, so most of our favorite spots are within walking distance of the casino. This is a good thing because we can walk off some of the thousands of calories we consume during our stay. We made regular trips to Mother’s for the crawfish etouffee and Po’boys. We made two or three trips to Crazy Lobster, a touristy Riverwalk restaurant that serves stout hurricanes and one of our favorites: the Seafood Bucket deluxe. The Seafood Bucket deluxe consists of two lobsters, stone crab, crawfish, shrimp and a little bit of filler. It wasn’t quite as fresh as it was the year before, but it is still a great way to get your seafood fix.

Buckets with the boys.

Another of our regular stops was Felix’s off bourbon street. I recommend eating at the bar where they shuck the oysters as fast as you can put them down. An Abita strawberry or three to wash it down and a dozen char broiled oysters and you have a very satisfying meal.

Hand Grenades and oysters, the breakfast of champions.

Between meals there was a little poker going on. I didn’t play many events on the stop because I wanted to rest up for the summer and enjoy my birthday. I got a nice birthday present in the form of a triple final table sweat. Josh Evans (@JoshEvansLV) FT’d event 1 and finished 2nd, Cliff fisher (@BRDPoker) FT’d event 2 and finished 5th, and John Harris (@85nutz) FT’d event 3 and shipped his second ring!

Congrats to John Harris on number 2!

LaLa (@CanULala) also got in on the action FT’ing event 7 and finishing 6th.

My baby grinding away, showing them how to Lala.

A couple more good guys grabbed rings in NOLA side events: Michael (Car Wash) Schneider shipped his first ring in event 10 and Justin Gardenhire (@Gardyone) snagged his 3rd ring in event 11.

Congrats Car Wash on a well deserved first! (picture by Image Masters)

Justin Gardenhire with the 3 peat! (picture by Image Masters)

You would think that all those final tables would have been enough for one stop, it turns out they were just warm up for the main event.

They were double barreling at the table and we were double barreling on the rail.

In a stop full of great final table sweats the main event did not disappoint. Two members of our traveling family made final table appearances in the main: Dan “Du ma” Lowery (@danmflowery) and Andrew Nguyen (@winnersnguyen).

Andrew Nguyen and Dan “MF” Lowery on the main event grind.

Dan “Du Ma” Lowery with racks on racks on racks.

Dan Lowery was one of the most successful grinders on the circuit last year. Juggling family obligations and a couple businesses, Dan’s circuit schedule was limited, but he was still able to to finish top 4 or better in three different circuit main events (2nd in Durant , 2nd in Lake Tahoe, and 4th in New Orleans). Dan had the ring slip through his fingers a couple times, but his consistent deep runs in the biggest events left no doubt that he is the real deal. He and his wife Krista are an invaluable part of our traveling family and I’m sure there are many more big scores in his future.

Andrew “No balls, no babies” Nguyen

Andrew Nguyen has been grinding the circuit with La and I since our first stop. He is our original circuit road dog and has grinded and hustled his way across the country with us. He is a founding member of #TeamPBJ, even though he isn’t a big fan of white boy food. I’m proud to call Andrew my brother and couldn’t be happier to see him taking his place on the big stage. Drew has a style all his own, great taste in food, and a gift of gab that has gotten us all sorts of places we shouldn’t have been. While he wasn’t able to grab the belt, he was able to cut out a nice slice of the prize pool. Congratulations my brother on an excellent score, I’m sorry it took me so long to get the blog out.

Drew demonstrating the “great wall” style of stacking chips.

Drew playing HU with Justin (@theycallmetrues) Truesdell, the eventual champion and a good kid.

I had a blast partying and railing all my friends and family this year in New Orleans. I hope to have more of the same opportunities next year, with a little less partying and a few more runs of my own. The National Championship tacked on to the end of this series should also provide some additional drama as the circuit regs battle it out for the last few at large spots. Hope to see everyone there next year for another round of big things in the Big Easy.



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One of the beautiful things about being self employed is the freedom to schedule downtime when you need it. After a grueling year on the WSOP trail, La and I spent the last couple months relaxing at home, catching up with friends and family in Dallas and Cali, and limiting our poker expeditions to long weekend poker outings. It was a time for unwinding, reflecting on the season past, and contemplating what the future holds.

My blog downtime was also influenced by a frustrating series of mishaps in my social media marketing and writing endeavors. Most wounds were self inflicted: not getting a contract before putting in significant work on a project, underselling myself to a point where I couldn’t continue on another project I was enthusiastic about, and linking my content without consideration for a formatting that would protect my site’s traffic. The time away has let the sting of these mistakes fade and the lessons sink in. My biggest mistake was prioritizing these new ventures over established income streams and missing some great opportunities on the felt for these unproven side projects.

On the poker front, our long term direction in poker is about as clear as the legislative swamp that US online poker is sunk in. We are definitely pruning down the travel schedule for WSOPC stops and exploring other options. The ever expanding number of WSOP circuit stops continues to dilute value and increase the cost of chasing points, making it a less attractive proposition. We are considering a move to a poker friendly city, or a trip across the border for a few months of online grinding. Whatever we do, many of the smaller “point chasing” stops will no longer be on the schedule.

My attempts at sidework have also left me with a decent backlog of trip blogs. I won’t fill in all the gaps, but I will be revisiting a few spots to hit the high points in the coming weeks. I will also be experimenting with some different formats like photoblogs moving forward, so please leave comments and let me know what you think.

New ideas in poker reporting via Twitter


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Twitter is an ideal communication tool for poker players. The sleek interface makes it perfect for mobile devices at the table and the 140 character limit works well for tournament updates. When major poker events like the WSOP come around though, many casual followers get frustrated by the constant tournament updates cluttering their timeline.

Daniel Negreanu came up with a clever solution to this problem by using the @mention function as a filter. If you wanted to see his updates, in addition to his main @realkidpoker account, you also had to follow @dnchips. Whenever he sent out a tournament tweet he would start it with “@dnchips” and these tweets would only be seen by followers of both accounts.

This was a solid innovation and one that has allowed twitter users with non-poker followers to effectively compartmentalize their tournament reports. The idea has gained traction over the last year with many poker players adding a second account to separate their updates. This solution works well if you only want to follow a few players, but if you want to follow a large group of players things become more complicated.

With so many players making these new accounts it’s getting harder to keep up with them. When I want to follow a new player at an event, not only do I have to dig up their twitter account, then I have to find their chip account as well. This isn’t terrible for one player, but doing it ten times is annoying.

Another issue comes when I want to stop following chip accounts after an event. Going through and unfollowing each account is a pain. Obviously lists are an option for organizing my twitter feed and avoiding the whole follow/unfollow issue, but overall the current system is getting bloated as more players start to use it and managing lists can still be a chore.

I recently participated in a test run of a new Twitter poker update system at the New Orleans WSOP circuit that may hold the answer to the problem of poker account sprawl. Paul Oresteen (@PaulOresteen) of Pokernews added a new twist to the Twitter update equation by having players run updates through one central reporting account.

Paul’s main focus was getting players to mention his “@pncounts” account when tweeting updates. This allowed him to have all the relevant players updates in one central feed for faster, more accurate reporting. As post Black Friday reporting budgets have tightened, Paul found an intelligent way to bridge the gap between reduced staff and large field size. The potential of the idea isn’t limited to chip counts though, it could also be a used to reduce the amount of accounts necessary for updates considerably or even create a new reporting stream.

This central account idea could be expanded for events like the WSOP and WPTs, so they could set up their own reporting account for players to update through. That way, when I want to send an update from an event, I could use @wsopchips as my filter. This would give the events a more focused Twitter presence by turning every player into a reporter that fans could follow through their central account.

The central accounts also eliminate the need for secondary accounts almost completely. To follow a series all I have to do is find the reporting account and follow it to keep track of all players I already follow. When a series is over, or I am done sweating an event, I unfollow @wsopchips and all the mtt spam is gone in one click.

If you have a timeline full of poker players and only want to follow updates from a few of them this solution may not be ideal. There is certainly room for smaller group accounts to be created. If you are only interested in your poker crew’s updates you could create an account like @teampokerati. An account like this would allow you to follow a smaller more specific group of players at an event, but still reduce the amount of accounts you had to deal with.

I currently use a secondary twitter account to update my followers interested in my poker action. I would be happy to scrap it and all the other secondary accounts I follow for this new system. I know it will take time to adapt, but I was excited enough about Mr. Oresteen’s idea that I felt the need to blog about it and share my thoughts about the potential it has to reshape the poker twitterverse.

St Louis Circuit Props


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The last few months have been a blur of poker and travel. I had a handful of days between wsop circuit stops to unwind and no spare time to write. I should say no spare time to write my blog. I have been working on a side project that has been eating up most of my creative writing efforts and cutting into my poker sessions. Hopefully the work pays off this summer and opens up some new business opportunities. Until things settle down I guess I will have to forgo sleep to fit in my blogging sessions.

St Louis Circuit Props:

Welcome to the St Louis WSOP please “smoke freely”

Picture by David Clark

Last year I had some trouble getting into the Harrahs St. Louis and almost missed the stop entirely after an issue with my temporary drivers license. I won’t get into how I got around that issue for fear of legal ramifications, but trust me it was a pain in the ass. St Louis was arguably the most annoying stop on the circuit with heaps of overzealous rules and regulations. I was going to spend some time getting into these problems here, but with the recent sale of Harrahs St. Louis to a rival corporation they are most likely moot points.

I wouldn’t shed any tears over the loss of Harrahs St Louis. The poker action was good, but with high smoke and noise levels on the floor plus strict gaming regulations and state taxes it’s an event I will be happy to scratch off the schedule. The last round of the event did produce some major fireworks though, with multiple circuit stars putting on a show and the roommates of room 143 stealing the spot light almost* entirely.

I should have known I was in for trouble when I came down from the room one night to sweat La and ended up at the bar with some circuit regulars. I just wanted to relax, have a beer, and sweat. These kid’s idea of a relaxing night at the bar is a shot, and then another, and another… As is often the case on the circuit, consumption of copious amounts of alcohol leads to trash talking, which in turn leads to prop betting.

I was in the company of most of room 143: Tripp “captain” Kirk (@tkirk1212), Matt “Bum” Hankins (@pokerskibum), Kyle Cartwright (@da_kyky), along with their friend @chronictown, with later appearances by my roomies La “CanULala” Sengphet (@lasengphet) and Andrew “Andy” Nguyen (@winnersnguyen). We decided to pick 2 player teams and bet on a series of props. We had a must-cash prop for the next event plus a last longer, and a series-long team total cashes prop (by this point Tripp had already finished 3rd in the re-entry so that result was excluded).

La struck early winning the must-cash prop and last longer for her and Andy. My teammate Kyle put a strong finish on the board next by shipping the 1k for his 4th ring and a 53k cash. He won his HU match against the other roommate of 143, Alex “Ap” Phahurat (@legitap47). Going into main event we had a 53k lead, meaning someone would have to get 4th or better to steal our lead and ship the props.

Number 4 for Kyle:

Picture by Eric Harkins of Image Masters

In typical Tripp Kirk fashion, he flashed his trademark smirk and then took a dump all over his roommate Kyle’s 53k score. He called the 53k and raised another 137k and a main event ring with a lil prop cheese on top. It’s Tripp’s second ring and his biggest score to date. Not a bad days work for a guy with a limited poker schedule and a day job that often ships him out of the country. I did get the last laugh on Tripp though. We left St Louis early and I was able to fade the pain of paying him and his smirk directly by giving the money to his partner Bum at the next stop.

Tripp Kirk and his smirk with his 2nd ring:

Picture by Eric Harkins of Image Masters

Tripp’s win would be the second St Louis main title for the roommates, Kyle took it down the year before. Overall the occupants of room 143 had 4 top 3 finishes in the 3 biggest prize-pools of the series. Tripp took 3rd in the re-entry and won the main, Kyle and AP took 1st and 2nd in the 1k, AP also had two near misses finishing 10th and 11th in two other prelims. Not a bad series boys, but next time you score big I would probably avoid tweeting your room number until after you left town #RookieMistake.

*Usually that would be the end of the story, but the last-chance ring event also had another usual suspect doing some work. Kurt Jewell (@kurtjewell), a two time wsop circuit main event winner with an O/8 ring from St Louis last year, added a forth ring to his twitter pic. Kurt delivered a drunken-master-like performance taking it down with a beer in one hand and cards in the other. Congrats on number 4 Kurt #YeahBuddy.

Kurt Jewell ships his 4th:

Picture by Eric Harkins of Image Masters

Black Friday Blog: Life After Online Poker


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After Black Friday our war room got turned into an arcade.

I was never an online poker rock star. At the height of my online career I was mid-stakes PLO grinder on Pokerstars and FTP. The low expenses and generous player incentives made this a comfortable lifestyle for La and I, who also made her living grinding online mtts. Decent bankroll management and a few well timed live scores prior to April 15th 2011 left us in better shape than most when our virtual bankroll was frozen, but our lives were still drastically altered after our freedom to play online poker was taken away.

Our average pre Black Friday day consisted of waking up whenever, having “breakfast”, and grinding out sessions in the upstairs war room. We lived a good life in a nice house close to our friends and family in DFW. A few times a year we would travel to a deep stack tournament series for a change of pace, but the majority of our working hours were spent at home in our boxers and bathrobes. When we went on the road we would take our laptops with us. If there was no action after we busted a live event we could supplement our income with online sessions.

Dressed up for a day at the office


I used to tease my 9 to 5 friends about my “commute” from the bed to the office upstairs, “traffic was good today” I’d say and laugh. Well, karma is a son-of-a-bitch. After Black Friday we started spending more than half our year on the road. Our “commute” involves lugging 90+ pounds of luggage to an airport, catching a flight with multiple plane changes and layovers, and often ends with extra hours in a shuttle or rental car to reach our remote destinations. We then spend the next two weeks grinding out 14 hour days. Our expenses have tripled and our average “commute” takes the better part of a day each way. I’m a lil jealous of my 9 to 5 friends half hour drive to work now.

The extra expenses and extended travel schedule made keeping a 2600 sq foot house in Texas an untenable burden. It didn’t make sense to spend 2k+ a month on a house when we only spent a week or two of the average month staying there. We moved half our furniture into storage at the end of 2011 and moved into a 1300 sq foot house our friends had available. This location is much less central than our old spot, but it is closer to both the airports and much more affordable for the time we are home.

Our poker room in the old house was a casualty of Black Friday


The decision to stay in a non-poker friendly state like Texas was a tough one, but being close to our friends and family is important to us. Being able to recharge and reconnect, even a few days out of the month, has been invaluable to our motivation and sanity while following this hectic schedule. Being home also allows us to be there for loved ones. My grandfather recently passed away and our decision to stay based in Texas allowed us to be with him and my grandmother in his last days. I’m so glad we didn’t let the DOJ take away these last days together.

My Grandfather and Grandmother’s 70th anniversary


Life on the road has been tough, but there have been positives on our new journey too. Online poker can be very isolating, it’s not so bad for an introvert like me, but La is a social butterfly and needs the interaction. Through her we have met so many wonderful characters and made lots of great friends that are now part of our traveling family. From the PTC crew, the media, players, photographers, writers, and local casino staff we have been lucky to find so many special people to share our time with. We might have met only a handful of these friends if Black Friday hadn’t pushed us out the door.

Just a few of the many friends we share our time on the road with:





In addition to pushing us out the door, Black Friday made me rethink my life. Being forcefully unplugged gave me time to try new things like blogging, investing, and starting a small business. Clearly I have a long way to go with all these endeavors, but the invigorating new directions have brought more depth to a life that used to be dominated by a fairly monotonous routine.

Life on the road can be repetitive too, after awhile all the casinos start to blend together. Ultimately these trips have taught me its not where you are, but how you approach life that determines what you get out of it. Our time on the road has shown me that there is potential everywhere, and when one spot goes away there are always more to replace it for those willing to look. I hope that online poker comes back to the US in a big way, if it doesn’t though, this last year has taught me there are plenty of new games to play.

The Road to Rincon: Travel Report


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The first thing you need to understand when planning a trip to Rincon is that it’s not San Diego. Our friend Billy made the mistake of bringing his family thinking he could play poker while his family enjoyed the city. Rincon is an hour outside the city up a nice windy mountain road and should in no way be categorized as “close to the beach”. Billy’s family left him the day after arrival, exchanging their mountain view for something oceanside.


Even though Rincon is close to a major metropolitan area the presence of more accessible casinos with larger poker rooms limits the amount of local traffic for the wsop. The Rincon poker room is a tiny 9 table space on the second floor of the hotel with one sign in the lobby acknowledging it’s existence. The hidden poker room helped walk up traffic to the WSOP’s events next to the casino floor, but meant cash games were a poor alternative for post bust-out grinding.

The room even had a promotion going during the series which paid 20 dollars in cash and 50 dollars in casino free play chips for an hour of cash play with a wsop mtt slip. The offer was valid for 48 hours and could be used concurrently with multiple entry slips. This generous rakeback yielded an average of 2 1/3 NL games and 1 3/6 FL game per evening, an extremely disappointing turnout. There was better cash game grinding available for those willing to make a half hour drive to a neighboring room, but La and I chose to focus on sngs in our off time.


The field sizes were up this year, but the inconvenient location keeps them smaller than the majority of stops. The turnouts and short commute from Vegas have made this stop a favorite of LV grinders trying to pick up points for the wsop freeroll. The collection of high level talent in town for the last weekend’s events has to make it one of the most stacked WSOPC main event fields outside sin city.

Harrah’s outrageous weekend rates and small prize pools limit the value of this event to many circuit grinders. So while the fields have more LV pros, there are less circuit regulars which somewhat balances out the later events and certainly makes the prelims softer. There are a couple places to stay close to the property, but if you don’t book early, affordable accommodations mean a half hour commute up and down the mountain.


Dinning options were decent as far as circuit stop casino eating goes. There was a 24 hour cafe with a typical american menu. Fortunes asian cuisine had solid (for casino) pho and noodle dishes. The steak house was disappointing, with overpriced food and mediocre service. The diamond lounge had a selection of fruit available throughout the day with tiny finger foods served by the wait staff around 5pm. The buffet was probably one of the better dinning options for our stay. Harrah’s had a good comp available for buffet dinning: An hour of table game play or an hour and a half of cash poker (also stackable w the wsop promotion) would get you a meal ticket.

If we didn’t feel like eating out, peanut butter jelly time was always an option.


Our trip:

With some great travel agent work by La, we were able to keep this trip’s costs manageable. It wasn’t a huge stop for us, but we left with more money than we came with, so it still goes in the W column. A couple of our friends did well, if you haven’t read my previous blog entry you can find it here:

Overall we enjoyed our visit to the casino in the mountains, the hotel was nice and the staff had excellent customer service. The PTC did a great job as usual and the growth in WSOPC attendance was encouraging for future visits.

A quick pic from a lookout on the way up.


Thanks for the read. If you have any thoughts on, or suggestions for the blog please leave a comment below. I am also available on twitter @whoisdavidclark if you would rather communicate in 140 characters or less.