Saturday, October 16, 2004


A very wise person gave me some good advice last night. Some of it had to do with the debacle at the Orleans. I'm not sure he even realized he was giving me advice, because he was kind of thinking out loud and maybe pondering his own dilemma about what occurred there, wondering what course of action he was going to take in print.

He said that sometimes he doesn't speak out about some of the corruption he sees in the poker world. Not because he is afraid of exposing it, or wants to hide it, but because every time there is a scandal in poker, the legitimacy of it take great hits, yet every time there is something positive for poker, it simply takes a tiny, baby step forward.

Pondering his words, I started thinking to myself that maybe I wouldn't write such harsh things about what happened with the WPPA. Maybe I would cushion the blow a bit, not by lying or covering up the truth, but by thinking about exactly what I was going to say, and saying in a way that didn't make it sound quite like the nightmare it was.

Glenn said it wasn't right, I should just report things that happened straight up, in the "Felicia way," blunt and candid. As much as I would like to protect the integrity of poker, he said I had to do the right thing.

I tossed and turned last night, sleeping horribly, wondering what I should do. Jeez, all I talk about is the legitimacy of poker, and maybe if I expose the dark, horrible side of it, poker will just fall right back into the stink hole that it is known for.

Today I woke up tired, but with a better attitude about what had happened. I thought about the wonderful people I met during those two weeks (almost all players). I thought about the nice things they had done for me, said to me. I thought about the trip I was about to make to Foxwoods, and the many other nice people I might meet there. I was doing the smiley, happy, shining people dance, singing Kumbaya...and then I got an e-mail.

Four days after I'd been booted out of the Arena at the Orleans by the Game Show Network, Louis Asmo finally decided to write me an e-mail about it.

On the surface, the e-mail seemed positive. Digging deeper, it was very negative. To make matters even worse, he took a private e-mail and copied several people into it! Guess who one of those people was? YES, the guy who kicked me out of the Arena from GSN! My gawd, just when I thought people couldn't possibly be more hypocritical!

Suddenly Kumbaya froze in my throat and I knew what I had to do. I had to tell it all. Thus, it begins.

I met Louis this April at Binion's. He was seated at my table. If you have ever met Louis, there is no way you would forget him. Anyway, he got short stacked and defended my button raise (I had KQ or AK or something like that), with an all-in. I believe he had pocket sevens, and they held up.

I didn't speak to Louis again until the WPPA came up. It sounded so good. Sure, the website was a disaster, but not everyone knows how to write well. It was ambiguous, yet I understood his message, and I agreed with it. I was just as outraged as him that poker players were generating millions of dollars for TV stations, getting nothing in return, and being forced to pay higher and higher juice all the time, only to be treated like secondhand citizens in most cardrooms.

So I wrote Andy Bloch an e-mail asking him about the WPPA, since I had talked to Andy before, and he was on the list of volunteers. Andy never responded. I guess that is another dark side of poker...people you think may be your friend because they treat you so well during a tournament end up never writing you back.

Anyway, I wrote Louis and we chatted back and forth a few times. He had this way of using capital letters in practically every sentence, to emphasize things, but just way too often, it was over done and seemed as if he was shouting almost all the time.

I'm not a perfect person. I'm not even a nice, amiable person, so I looked past this. I could understand where Louis was coming from, and furthermore, there were so many people I respected on the list of volunteers. Later I would find out that almost all of them didn't even know they were on that list, hadn't volunteered for anything, and didn't even belong to the WPPA!

I trusted that Louis was on the up-and-up about the integrity of poker. He asked me what committee I wanted to volunteer for. I told him I would think about it. Then I remembered that right before Andy Glazer died, he'd asked me if I wanted to do tournament reporting with him and Max. I went to the WPPA website. Nope, no tourney reporter. So I volunteered.

Before I just up and gave my time and money to the WPPA, I also wrote to Mason Malmuth about it. Mason has been very supportive of me over the last two years. I have not written much about Mason, although I should, because he is one person who has stood behind me on all of my twists and turns in the poker world. No, we don't agree on everything, we have had big disagreements before, both on 2+2 and in private e-mail, but people who support each other genuinely don't have to agree on every point. That is the whole meaning of friendship. You don't always see eye-to-eye, but you can still be friends and be there for each other. I don't really know Mason that well, but I do know one thing, he has been there for me whenever I needed advice. That's good enough for me.

Mason wasn't so crazy about the WPPA. He didn't say anything overtly negative, just more of a warning about giving too much of my time for nothing.

So when I decided to go ahead and do the tourney reporting, I was wary. Mason has never led me in the wrong direction before. I wanted the experience, since I'd never done tournament reporting before, and I had planned to play in the two Stud events anyway, but I kept my eyes open.

Louis kept saying he was going to try to get someone to pay me for the reporting. I assured him that I'd volunteered, just like all of the other volunteers, but I didn't refuse to take any payment they may offer, either. Little did I know at the time that there were no other volunteers.

I never received a cent for my work, but that is already common knowledge. I didn't ask for one, I volunteered from the start. I did think that I might get my two-week hotel bill reimbursed, or maybe some entries to satellites, but I didn't expect it, and nothing like that ever materialized. I paid the bills myself, although I was compensated somewhat by the generosity of players like Max and others who I plan on profiling in my series of stories.

When I arrived at the Orleans, I was extremely disappointed to find no signs, no banners, nothing, not even a made up little hand written sign with a magic marker arrow pointing the way. They had us jammed up into a dark, dismal little space.

Louis was pretty disappointed, too, none of the volunteers showed up. He told me that he'd had dozens, but in the end, I was it. It was Louis and Felicia, he sighed, clearly hurt.

Lots of players showed up for the first event, but after they experienced Bryan's pessimism and rude arrogance, they walked out. I counted at least 20 who decided not to enter, and simply walked away. Some said it was the structure. The structure was great for a decent amount of chips, but 25/25, 25/50, 50/75, 50/100 was just not enough for only 1000 in chips. Kenna James and Asher Derei were two who expressed that opinion, then walked out the door.

Another surprise was Mel Judah. He stood around, but never entered. I couldn't figure it out, he was on the list of volunteers! That is when I first started having some doubt that maybe the people on the list of volunteers weren't even WPPA members, and hadn't volunteered for a thing!

In all, the first event got 62 players. Most were very disappointed by everything, and I went around taking notes of their complaints. Louis tried to defend the Orleans, and the WPPA position, but seemed to do more damage and create more ill will than anything.

The first day was great from the standpoint of a brand new tourney, where everyone was unsure, most players were in Aruba, and the Orleans did everything they could do to ruin it. It was actually a great start, given the obstacles we had to overcome, but to many in the pro poker world, it was a failure. It was certainly a failure to the Orleans staff, all they did was whine about it all day long. They never shut up for a second, but let us know at every turn that they hated the WPPA, hated the players and hated us.

Louis was not respected at this event, and was openly mocked and ridiculed by several parties, from the Orleans to the players. I felt sorry for him, still believing him to be sincere and out for the best interests of the players. It was one of the many mistakes I would make in the next two weeks.

It was the Best of Times, it was the Worst of Times

I think I'm going to have to split the WPPA posts up into many stories, in order to make it readable, and save my sanity. Please do not misunderstand that it means I'm going to hold back, or refuse to tell the whole story. That is the last thing on my mind.

In the past two weeks, I have met some of the most kind people that I've ever met in my life. I want to write about those people.

Max Pescatori was one of the nicest people I met through the WPPA event at the Orleans. He always had a quick, easy smile, yet was ruthless on the table.

Max was very good about giving me quotes and little interviews during the tournament. He didn't seem upset or hasty even after busting out. He was easygoing and pleasant.

Sometimes there are up-and-coming players who bug the pros. The pros can get exasperated by their persistence in questions, especially at the worst times, like in the middle of a hand or giving away their name to the other players at the table, when they might not want to be known. Max was never this way, treating everyone with common courtesy and kindness.

Other pros have problems with begging railbirds. You win a tourney, so suddenly everyone wants to be your "friend." Certain pros have stopped responding to new people, simply because they're afraid of being hit up. I have experienced this myself, being new in the tournament world. I have found that there are big names who keep their distance from me. Not because they are aloof or think they are superior to new players, but because every time they open up, someone hits them up for money. Again, Max couldn't have been any more kind or friendly to me and some other unknowns at the Orleans.

I noticed that Max could have stopped coming to the WPPA events at any time, given the way he was treated.

For example, on the first day, the WPPA had a NLHE event for $1000. Max showed up about eight minutes late. He figured that the WPPA would be upstairs, given that the other big Orleans events were upstairs, so he went there first. When nothing was going on upstairs, he tried to find out where the WPPA was being hosted, but was given the runaround, like so many other players. When he finally reached the buy-in desk, it was eight minutes past noon.

Bryan Durdan immediately began yelling at Max. He said, "You're going to have to get here earlier if you want to play!" Max was taken aback. What casino starts threatening their customers who are eight minutes late for an event? And Bryan was vehement, not saying this in a nice way whatsoever, but in a very confrontational, threatening manner.

Max tried to explain the situation, but Bryan kept cutting him off, yelling at him for being late. He told Max he wasn't going to accept his buy-in if he was late again. He told him to get to the Orleans on time, or just forget it, and some other very rude things. Max could tell this story better than me, as he was the recipient of such anger, but I was present, and I did try to report Bryan for such abominable behavior on the part of the Orleans. Naturally, I was met with apathy and hostility, as the Orleans didn't want us there in the first place.

On another occasion, a player was worried about his room. The Orleans did their very best to make sure the WPPA players were unable to book a room. At one point, a player was told to move out of his room, that they needed it for a real guest, a wanted guest, not a scummy poker player. Max was buying into an event and suggested that the player just leave his luggage in his room, they would find a place for other guests. I agreed that I had done this in the past, and never had a problem. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Bryan started yelling about Max giving this advice. He didn't address me, but seemed to single out Max for his anger and aggression. He refused to even treat Max like a human being, but decided to talk about him in the third person, like he was a dog not even worthy of Bryan's notice.

Even after this horrible abuse by the Orleans staff, Max kept coming back. He knew he was giving up bigger prize pools. He knew that he was being abused, but he wanted to help the WPPA get off the ground, and he came back, although it was a -EV situation for him.

I remember one night when Max made the money. Somehow he found out that I wasn't being paid for my writing. I have no idea how he found out. It could have been me. I always answered honestly when someone asked who I was working for, and if I was being paid.

Anyway, somehow Max found out I wasn't being paid. He came up to me after the tournament was over and tried to give me money. I was shocked. I didn't want to take it, at first, but I was so honored and overcome with emotion at the same time.

He must have also spread the word, because suddenly other players started approaching me, giving me money. I am not an emotional person, I do not cry except in physical pain, but this was the most heartfelt I have ever been in a poker situation. I cannot tell you the absolute joy and honor it brought to me to meet a class act like Max Pescatori.

Friday, October 15, 2004

A Precursor to Revealing the Orleans Nightmare

It seems as if every time I turn around, I'm embroiled in some kind of controversy that shakes the ground I walk on. It's like I'm a trouble-magnet.

People like to say things around me that should never be said in public. People like to pretend I'm not there, and air their dirty laundry never knowing it's going to be repeated.

One thing that I've been accused of is making a mountain out of a molehill. I've heard this by several parties during my lifetime. I used to mull things over in my head and wonder if I truly was making more out of something than there was in reality. These days I just brush off those comments.

The thing I discovered is that there are two types of people. Some people choose to bury their heads in the sand and pretend like things around them aren't happening. They are "dull" to what is going on in the world. My husband, Glenn is like that, which is how I was led to discover why certain people always seemed to accuse me of making a big drama out of something.

One time Glenn and I were somewhere and there was a very angry man making trouble. Naturally I stepped right into it, trying to diffuse the situation and not allow this man to abuse patrons of a business. He then turned his anger towards myself and Glenn, cursing at me, calling me names, anything in order to vent. The situation was resolved eventually. It was obvious that this man needed some help, and he was detained and given assistance.

Okay, so the funny thing about this story is that Glenn didn't remember any of it happening. He just stood there in muted silence as this man was attacking business patrons, threatening them with violence, then turned to Glenn and me and started threatening us while calling us every name under the sun. When I asked Glenn later why he didn't do anything, why he just stood there like a wax dummy, he responded that he "never heard the guy say or do a thing." !!!???!!! What? The guy is being surrounded by people trying to calm him down, the police are being called, the guy is lashing out at patrons of a business, the guy is threatening to kill people, the guy is calling Glenn and his wife names, and Glenn doesn't remember anything?

I thought this was just Glenn's way of refusing to get involved in any stressful situation, but over the years (this was eight years ago), I learned that Glenn actually goes into a type of shock, and if he doesn't acknowledge something, if he ignores it, he truly can live in that surreal, altered universe. He has done this over and over again in the years we have been married. I have gotten used to it.

I remember when I was a kid, getting defense training in school by cops who would come inform the public, and especially the girls, how to defend themselves and get help in a bad situation. The one thing they told us time and again, was never to yell, "Help!" They said no one would come. At the time, I thought they must be on crack. What do you mean, you yell for help and people refuse to come? They told us, instead, to yell, "Fire!" They said help would come from everywhere immediately.

I have also been told by the police that when witnesses are interviewed after a traumatic event, some of them absolutely refuse to believe it had even happened, denying they heard calls for help, denying they heard the crack of gunshot. They have trained their minds over the years not to allow any reality to enter it. If they deny it long enough, it simply doesn't exist.

So that describes the people who tell me that I'm making a mountain out of a molehill.

On the other hand, there are people like me. I would probably describe myself as hypersensitive. I see things around me. I don't deny reality or horrors that happen in the real world. Someone palms a chip, I see it, and I don't just throw it out of my mind, hoping not to make trouble in the cardroom, I stand up and shout. I bust the scummy little cheater, angleshooter and thief faster than you can cry "foul!"

Where is all of this leading? Well, it is leading up to the way I'm going to describe the events that happened at the Orleans. The WPPA, GSN, the staff at the Orleans.

When I publish everything that has happened over the past two weeks, there are many things that will occur. First, the "bury the head in the sand" people will come out and say I'm exaggerating the way things occurred. They will feel as if I'm making a mountain out of a molehill. They will claim that things weren't nearly as melodramatic as I'm describing them. They refuse to face reality. If someone came and lifted their wallet out of their pocket, they would claim that the thief didn't exist, and they must have left their wallet at home, by accident, only to find out later that they were robbed and their money, as well as their identification and credit cards, are gone.

The second thing that will happen is that I will likely be threatened with lawsuits for libel. The great thing about libel is that it's really hard to get a judge to listen to the accusation, if the person doing the so-called libeling is TELLING THE TRUTH!

I have already been threatened by the Game Show Network. I'm sure the threats will continue, as well as attorney's letters being sent to me of "cease and desist," but no libel lawsuit will likely ever be heard in court, as they never had me sign a non-disclosure agreement, nor am I lying about any of the events that occurred.

As I begin on my journey of exposing the truth about the nightmare that was the Orleans, I wonder how this will change my poker adventures. Will I be welcome in major tournaments, or will the staff feel threatened by my mere presence? Will I be warned every time I buy into an event, that anything I write on my website will be monitored, and lawsuits will be forthcoming if I publish anything negative about the event? Will WCP avoid me like the plague, scared to death I might publish something overheard or seen at the tables?

I don't have the answers, I only know that telling the truth, and the whole truth, not a watered down version of the facts, is the only way I can function as a human being. Does that make me a better person than the "bury my head in the sand" people like Glenn? No, absolutely not. Glenn has to live the way he can. Glenn has extremely volatile, high blood pressure. He cannot allow himself to experience too much stress or he'll have a stroke. He almost had a major stroke at only 29 years of age. Glenn has to hide from the horrors of the world. He is forced to be PC, to go-along-to-get-along. He has to train himself not to see the stark world in black and white, but to pretend like there is world peace, pretend like everyone is smiling and happy, there is no crime, there are no women crying out for help when attacked. Glenn is forced to live in a fantasy world. Glenn says part of the reason that he lives in this world is just pure shock. Sometimes something abominable happens, and Glenn goes into shock; shock and disbelief. Unable to control himself, his memory simply denies the event, and erases it from history.

I am cursed and live in the real world, the black and white world where some people are incredibly evil and do things that only those spawned from Satan would even consider. I have to respond to cries of "Help!" It is my lot in life. God gave me the hypersensitivity, the discernment to handle these things. He also gave me the rock-hard personality to endure the horrors of the real world, in all of its scars and glory. I don't whine about my place on this earth, it is what I was meant to be. I can only reveal it, knowing I'm doing the right thing at all times.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Upcoming Post

I am writing about my experiences the last two weeks with the WPPA at the Orleans. I am also going to write about the Orleans and the Game Show Network.

Since I didn't return from Las Vegas until 2:00 am, I haven't had a chance to catch up on lots of things. The last two weeks have been very stressful and I need a chance to think about things for a while, then post what I know.
I'll get a post up as soon as I'm able.