Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Sage Advice from "Joe-Pro"

I think I've had a fever during the past two days. As crazy as my mind works at normal times, the fever has made it work in ways even more mysterious and scary, lol. I have had deep thoughts that usually don't enter my mind, thoughts in color, instead of pure black and white.

Usually, my mind works in black and white. I see something, I research it, I learn as much as I can, and then I make up my mind. Black and white, no color. I am not wishy-washy. Anyone who described me as a flake would be a horrible judge of character. I'm wrong sometimes, and when I'm wrong it's usually a big deal, because I have been so vehement about my position.

Thinking in color presents a whole new set of difficulties for me. I have to reevaluate my position, and doing so is like a fish riding a bicycle, sooooo unnatural! So I hope that soon I'll be able to shake this fever and go back to being the witch I'm meant to be, wahaha. No, it's true, I really am born on Halloween, and I'll be 36 this year :)

I have been communicating with one of today's top players. I am so fortunate that I met some truly caring people through the WPPA, that is one thing I wouldn't take back, even with all of the pain that this festival caused me.

This guy is well known and respected in the top echelon of poker. His unbelievable kindness and generosity in the poker community astounds me, as I have only heard well of him. He claims he is having an off year, yet has won over 150k in the bigger buy-in tourneys so far and almost won a WSOP bracelet. I wish I were having that kind of off year, lol.

Anyway, we have been communicating quite a bit, having met at the WPPA, although I recognized him from frequent published pictures and TV appearances. He is extremely literate, and a clear, passionate correspondent. Having witnessed some of the atrocities that happened at the Orleans, he was able to communicate with me and felt some empathy for the situation.

For whatever reason, Joe-pro thought I was interested in a writing career. Hahahahaaaaa, like anyone is going to hire a renegade like me. Not only that, but I'm a great poker player, not a great writer (lol). I'm known throughout the world...well, mostly Laughlin, for my superb poker playing ability. Jeez, I have trophies to prove it! Wait, come back, you guys still don't believe me???

Hardy har. Well, anyway, he was under the mistaken assumption that writing meant something to me. Writing is cathartic; it is a form of some kind of crazy therapy, which just happens not to cost me any money. I do not look forward to any kind of career in writing. I was simply trying to be nice to the WPPA when I volunteered to do the tournament reporting.

So getting back to Joe-pro. He and I wrote back and forth many times. He, assuming that I wanted a career in writing and not in poker, gave me some great advice about not continuing with exposing the WPPA debacle. His advice wasn't based on the fact that I might be burning bridges, but more based on a deduction he had come to and used in his own life. He said:

"Consider that perhaps going out of your way to tell the truth, in this instance, may not be worth it in the short or long run. In the grand scheme of all things poker, the WPPA and the GSN will likely be a forgotten blip in their attempts to capture a piece of this monumental momentum currently in poker. You, on the other hand, have much greater potential, so why risk squandering that potential on something that will likely never be considered worth fighting for or against? I am not so much worried about you in regards to what the WPPA or the GSN would do, I am worried about "who you really are" being taken out of context by those that would otherwise take you in. The WPPA and the GSN will self-destruct on its own and the impact in the poker world that they have made is negligible (at least so far). So, maybe letting go of this one, in that you end any more public comments on the subject, would be good lay down for you. You are of obvious strong character and integrity, but consider that sometimes those traits can be applied literally to a fault."

Wow! This truly shook me to my core. Not because I was afraid of burning bridges or making enemies, but that what he was saying was true...would exposing this accomplish anything? Even ONE benefit? Sure, writing is a type of therapy for me, but just because I write something doesn't mean I have to publish it. So what real benefit is it to me to publish anything further? WPPA has already committed suicide, I don't need to rub salt into the wounds of an already dead body.

Just when I had mulled over this e-mail, deciding that perhaps some of the wonderful, kind players I'd met might shut me out of their world for my writing, I got another e-mail from my new friend. This time he'd changed his mind. He hadn't changed his initial thoughts of it being a type of lose-lose situation for me, but he had changed his mind about what the public needs to know. Some of his wisdom included:

"Hands down I don't think there is any risk that the poker community nor the casinos would alienate you. The players would agree with you and celebrate your courage for your candor, and the casinos that matter would not be threatened because they know better than to run a poker tournament and treat their patrons the way the Orleans did. In other words, you are doing both the casinos and the players a service by telling it like it is. What happened is not a polarizing issue within the poker community, everyone I know agrees it sucked wind."

"Your final table reports are compelling and interesting as is everything else I've read of yours. I took notice that your reports have a style that is unlike what I have read from others. Actually, it was those very reports combined with a little push from Charlie Shoten that changed my mind about putting the Orleans back on my schedule.

So I now say never mind my words of caution, follow your gut."

Okay, so here I am at a crossroads. Yes, I know that writing all of this may not change anything. The damage is already done. Everyone who is anyone in the poker world already knows that the Orleans has built their own horrific reputation in their treatment of poker players, not to mention the tons of money they have stolen from prize pools over the years (for those stories, I'm going to have to refer you to RGP, but they are well known, this is nothing that isn't discussed in the industry every day).

Likewise, the WPPA dug their own grave early on. Louis is not a spokesperson type. He didn't want to run the WPPA in any capacity other than getting a TV contract. While that is honest of him, to realize his shortcomings and refuse to make a fool out of himself by speaking in public, the fact is, he didn't hire anyone else to take that role, and it hurt the WPPA, putting them in a horrible light during the entire festival. His complete sell-out on the final day of the main event only sealed their fate.

The Game Show Network, as well, is headed towards disaster. No matter how good this show looks on TV, they will bomb. They treated the players and the spectators abominably. At the very last minute, during the final two days of the tournament, some bright boy had an idea that he would clear the set and forbid any family, friends, spouses or press. Instead of handling this with kid gloves, he decided to be a big bully, ordering people around, threatening lawsuits and police.

One spouse was led out of the Arena by armed guards, in tears, after being treated so roughly that she literally feared for her safety. She had planned to watch her husband play, and hadn't made any back-up plans. She didn't know where to meet him, didn't know how to get in touch with him. Instead of being met with sympathy and understanding, she was threatened and "roughed up" by both the GSN and security guards at the Arena.

I was treated brutally, as well, but that, I will save for another story :)

So who will it help if I tell all? The poker players in the know already have knowledge of this disaster. It has been spread all around Las Vegas and beyond. No one is ignorant of what happened.

In the end, it will accomplish two things. First off, the players who are not "in the know" about these things will be enlightened. Sure, they may never be entering events this big, but they will be put on their toes for things like this happening at every level. They will be prepared.

Second, I want to talk about some of the wonderful people I met, like Joe-pro above, who have shown me such unbelievable human kindness in the face of this disaster. I have already written about Max Pescatori, and obviously "Joe." I would like the opportunity to talk about others.

So that is where I stand right now. Fever or no fever, I know I'm doing the right thing. Please come along with me on this journey.