Wednesday, November 24, 2004


I'm going up to Vegas for a few days. I should be back on Saturday or Sunday. Have a good Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 22, 2004

WPPA, the Final Insult

Man, am I getting old or what? I turn 36, and suddenly I'm losing my mind. Jeez, I am writing about Arizona, when I haven't even really started the Foxwoods posts yet, nor have I ever finished the WPPA main event. Blah!

Okay, I'll go back in time. Later, I'm going to have to put all of these in chronological order, so I don't look like the dunce that I am.

When I left off, I'd just decided to leave the Orleans and go home to decompress for a couple of days.

I got back to the Orleans on Monday, which ended up being day three of the main event, since they cancelled Sunday's play thinking that the event would end quicker than they'd expected.

I figured something was wrong right away when I was stopped by security at the Arena. Security? What about the audience? I found out there WAS no audience, that GSN had pulled a last minute switcheroo and decided to make the main event a closed set, with no observers allowed.

Oddly, I was given access. I'm still not quite sure why I was allowed in, since they considered me "press" at this point, and not a player. For whatever reason, I was there to witness the GSN fiasco, and to document the WPPA demise.

They had three tables set up in the recording area. One table was huge, it was the "main" table. Originally, they were going to switch the players, en masse, every level, in order to have them all at the main table, but they changed their minds after the first switch, due to the hassle, most likely.

The main table was gigantic. It made the Late Night Poker table look puny, by comparison, lol. It was a monstrosity.

There was a color commentator that I didn't recognize. I asked where Katrina Jett was. Everyone kind of looked at his shoes and shuffled around a bit, nervously. They'd hired Katrina! She came in with several clothing changes, only to be told that instead of being the star, they were going to put her in the hole card cam room, looking at everyone's hole cards for 18-20 hours per day, and relaying to the floor people that so-and-so was not showing their cards every hand. Ugh. What a disgrace.

Instead, they had a girl working who had no idea what poker was. She had never played, and didn't have a clue. I begged her not to ask eliminated players "how they felt." I was asked to provide a list of suitable questions for her. Later, I found out that Katrina and Louis were both asked to provide a list of questions, also, but were found unacceptable, for whatever reason. Why mine were treated any differently was beyond me, but she did use them, although it came off as completely stiff and unnatural for her, since she had no real idea what she was asking, what those questions actually meant. To give her some credit, though, she was a nice girl, who always stayed very pleasant no matter the circumstances. Poor Karina was the one given the shaft.

Louis and I talked in the hallway about what was going on with the taping. Why was there no audience? Why was the set closed? Why wasn't Katrina doing the commentating, as expected? Why was I being asked not to report the final two days, not even just the bare facts?

Louis said that GSN calls all the shots. That is really funny, being that the WPPA is supposed to be all about the players. He said that at the last minute, GSN had decided they wanted to keep it all a secret, to have some big drama on their station. I was supposed to keep the results under wraps until December! I told him that the results would never be kept a secret. He agreed, but didn't want me to be the one to spill it. He kept saying over and over again, "I know you are with me on this one, Felicia. I know we are a team here." I assured him over and over again that I most definitely was NOT with him, and disagreed totally. He seemed not to hear me, or he didn't want to hear, and we never discussed it again. I never agreed to keep the results under wraps, nor was I asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement, although the executive producer, the assistant EP and Louis all talked to me about it, and I vehemently disagreed with all three of them. Why they allowed me to stay for two full days is beyond me.

The biggest mistake that most people make when they have any kind of relationship with me is assuming that I am a nice person. Just because I'm a happy person, does not mean I'm a nice person. People tend to ignore me, thinking that I'm not actually overhearing what they are saying. People think they can trust me, after all, I'm just sitting there, smiling and innocent looking. Don't trust me! If you want to keep something private, I'm not the person to tell your deepest secrets to, unless you tell me that you want to keep this between us, in which case I'm a vault. If you tell me "news," I'm going to report it as such.

So my point is, don't trust me with something you don't want repeated to the world, unless you ask me to keep it between us. I will never, ever keep it off of this website if it is relevant to poker. My life is an open book, and I just assume others are as candid as I am. I don't give them the benefit of the doubt that they don't want things published, unless they specifically tell me something private.

Anyway, I sat and took notes on Monday. The players played extremely late. Thor Hansen was crippled when he flopped two small pair in the blind. Since there were ten players remaining, and Thor had no chips, the group made a $500 save from each player, so that 10th would at least get his money back. Naturally Thor was 10th. The generosity of the top players continues to astound me.

I was cracking up during most of the day by the behavior of GSN. For whatever reason, they decided they wanted to make the WPPA into the Brady Bunch. They were telling players what to wear, how to sit, not to stand up and walk around during and between hands. They were trying to "control" Minneapolis Jim. Anyone who knows Jim knows that trying to make him into Greg Brady is only going to cause more anxiety and problems. I told the GSN guys over and over again that this was poker, not the Brady Bunch, but they had their own agenda.

The funny thing about them trying to make poker players into actors, is that Louis told me that when they first approached him about a TV contract, they had wanted to stake certain players, then seed them in the tournament, to make trouble, to cause fights. They wanted players like Arieh, Matusow and Hellmuth. They wanted to seed the players, the ones who would be most likely to start fights and controversy. Ironically, after finding out that they would not be allowed to seed real poker tournaments, they went the complete opposite direction and decided to make the set closed and silent, and turn the players into actors.

On Tuesday, play didn't start until about 3pm, but the players had to arrive early for interviews. Everyone was tired and grumpy. I know that Jesse probably took the worst of it, with his fragile health, but he was a trooper and never complained.

As the tournament stretched on and on, GSN got more nervous. I was thinking, "Well, if you wouldn't have cancelled Sunday in the first place, you wouldn't be under such a crunch!" The technical crew seemed very nervous. I found out that most of them were contractors, and were scheduled to be at other jobs the next day, or traveling to another, at any rate. They constantly complained about how bored they were, how boring poker was. I just shook my head. Heck, at least they were getting paid. When they decide to do these days for free, then they can whine about their jobs, in my opinion.

As dinner came, Paul Wolfe kind of gave an open invitation to the steak house at the Orleans. I asked if it was for players only, or if I was allowed to crash. He kindly told me anyone was invited. By this time, only Jesse had been eliminated, I believe. We had a nice gathering at the restaurant. Matt Savage showed up, as well as Scott Fischman and a few other players. Karina Jett came, and I told her she had been completely screwed, stuck back there in the closed camera room for 18-20 hours every day. Paul Wolfe cracked us all up at dinner. Kathy Liebert and David Troung also joined us. In the end, since some of us didn't have cash and were going to use our credit cards, Scott Fischman picked up our portion of the bill, and wouldn't be denied. What a nice gesture. Once again, I am constantly shocked and awed by the generosity of some of the top players in poker.

Right after the dinner break, David and Yohannes got knocked out.

The final six were still playing when I got kicked out of the arena.

The way it happened was that Bryan, the angry tournament director, was getting meaner by the hour. He was snapping at everyone. Naturally, I was no exception, as he always had felt I was an easy mark. Rather than make things rough, I tried to blow it off, joke around with him and calm him down. Instead, he took it even worse, and started yelling at me, rudely, along with everyone else.

James VanAlstyne stopped me on my way back off the set, and apologized for Bryan's behavior. He said many times that Bryan was out of line, but nothing ever changed.

I was out of the set, in an open area, talking to the guys from Las Vegas Vegas about it. Joe Sr. and Joe Jr. were there taking pics and notes, excited about the access they'd been granted.

Although all press had been denied access, Joe Sr. had been on the set both days taking pics unchallenged. I was amazed that they were allowing him such freedom, but then I found out that most of the people on the set were contractors, and had no idea that Joe wasn't one of them. After two days of taking pics, he was finally approached by someone asking to see his GSN pass. Naturally he didn't have one, so they decided to handle the situation with kid gloves. A representative from GSN along with Asmo talked to Joe about his pictures, and if they could be made available for the WPPA website. Joe was very amiable and promised to help out, free of charge. He was told that he could return to the set after dinner, and set off to get his son and some grub.

I was talking to both Joe's when we were approached a GSN employee, the assistant EP. He asked about GSN passes, and Joe Sr. started explaining what had happened earlier in the day. I tried to back it up by telling one very hostile employee that Joe had been on the set for the past two days, given unlimited access, so it was a little late to start with the high and mighty routine. She accused me of lying. I was cracking up. I told her to ask anyone, like I would make up that someone was taking pics on the set. What good is that going to do me? Anyway, the AEP went ape, and started yelling at both Joe's. Joe Sr. said that he had already talked to an employee and Louis about the pics. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Louis started denying his conversation with Joe, and saying things like he'd never seen or talked to Joe in his life. What the heck? I'd seen the two in deep conversation not six hours previously.

You may think that Louis' selling out came as a surprise to me, but it really hadn't. Like I've said, I got to know Louis pretty well during those two full weeks at the Orleans, and I saw him do it over and over again. He was constantly compromising the player's rights for the casino, for the TV station, etc. At one point he promised everyone they would be allowed to wear logos, but then GSN overruled that promise, and went around taping up everyone.

So Joe & Joe are both in the process of getting kicked out, when I finally just went off. I told them that they were unreasonable, etc. I told them that the whole thing was a huge failure, and had been sabotaged from the first. I told them how Bryan had done everything in his power to put players down and dissuade them from buying in. Someone asked, "Is that true?" and looked at Louis. Louis was standing behind me and I turned around to see him, behind my back, making the "no, no" sign with his hands and shaking his head vehemently. I said, "You and I have talked of little else since this started!" He kept shaking his head, selling me out along with everyone else.

The AEP said that if I really felt that way, to leave. I agreed readily. I went and gathered my things. On my way out, Joe and Joe were ahead of me, I said something about the using the pics on the website, and to feel free to use anything I wrote on their site.

The angry employee yelled out, "YOU CAN'T POST ANYTHING! THIS IS A SECRET, YOU SIGNED A NON-DISCLOSURE!" I laughed in her face, saying I never signed a thing, and that is where they went completely wrong. I said I could and would write whatever I wanted, and expose them for the creeps they were. She screamed, "WE'RE GOING TO SUE YOU! HOW DOES A QUARTER MILLION DOLLAR LAWSUIT SOUND TO YOU?" When I didn't answer, she kept yelling, "HUH? HUH?"

Joe, Joe, Glenn and I met outside. We were laughing our butt's off. The one great thing I got out of this debacle was getting to know those neat guys.

So we drove home. It was after midnight, but we made the two-hour trip anyway. When we arrived back at our house, I immediately sent an e-mail letter of resignation from the WPPA to Louis and to the website.

Right before I got kicked out, GSN had been trying to talk the players into making a deal, or speeding up the levels. The players weren't going for it. Later, I found out they ended up buying the players off, with $21,000 added to the prize pool. I'm sure they didn't contact the Nevada Gaming Commission before they did this, and I've heard rumors about lawsuits and fines, but who knows!

The rest of the drama you know. The letter I got from Louis four days later, which had my personal e-mail copied in with several employees of GSN. Jesse Jones' subsequent letter of resignation, the dismal failure of the WPPA at their next event and the many friends I made during this experience.

Was it all worth it, in the end? Yeah, I guess it was. It taught me quite a bit. It taught me that tournament writing is hard, with long, tough hours. It taught me that there are certain top players whose kindness and generosity extends beyond all boundaries I'd ever imagined.

I met a lot of good-hearted people. I will never forget the experience, nor do I really regret it. Although I wasn't paid for my work, I was paid in kindness and generosity, plus I was able to sneak in a couple of cashes in the poorly attended tournament.

Not only were some players extremely kind to me, but some of the dealers and floormen were outstanding. Jack and Adam did a superb job. I meant every word I said on Poker Pages about the floormen and dealers being top notch. It wasn't something I expected from the Orleans, and I got a pleasant surprise. Marlin always had a great attitude and kept his chin up during the worst of circumstances. Tracy, the girl who took the entries, was of very high moral fiber, and did a fantastic job. She always kept a smile on her face. One time, I remember that she found a lammer on the floor. This lammer was worth $1500. She could have used it, sold it. Instead, she thought she remembered a player dropping it, and kept it, asking him if he was missing a lammer. He was, and she gave it back to him.

These are the kind of things I was speaking about when I said that the staff at the Orleans did such a great job. Sure, Bryan was very grumpy and negative, but even his floor decisions were usually good, and he ran a tight ship.

So for good or evil, I lived through it. I learned some valuable poker lessons, and I met some wonderful people.

This time, it really is The End.

Back to the Future

I think it's time to give a brief history of my journal, along with a small disclaimer.

I started a journal because I had posted many of my stories on 2+2 and other poker forums and got overwhelmed with e-mail requests. Soon, I was getting requests to send so-and-so this or that story, some people wanted them all, in chronological order. It got to be too much work, so I simply posted them all, in order on Yahoo.

Quite a few readers hated the Yahoo format, and begged me to take the stories elsewhere. Being the witch that I am, I refused. Finally, one reader, Scott, offered to pay for the website and my own domain, if I would post the stories on a "regular" blog-type site versus Yahoo. I agreed, because Scott was such a nice, little begger :)

So this brings us to the present and future, along with my disclaimer.

I don't write for YOU. I am not PC or kind. I have never been called "nice" in my life. I write for myself, and I write what I feel, at any given moment. I don't claim to be sweet or gentle. No one is forcing you to read this journal. No one is bringing you here except your own willingness. If you don't like what I write, if you don't like the way I write it, or think I'm not sweet and kind as you'd like me to be, then don't come. I won't be saddened or hurt. Go find Holly Homemaker's journal and knock yourself out.

I'm not going to change the way I write for any of you. I simply don't care. As one flamer said, I'm self-centered (I had to take his comment off of my page. Not because he said I'm self-centered, but because he used the F-- word).

Remember, when you are reading and/or commenting on my journal, you are doing just that; commenting on MY personal journal. Invading MY personal thoughts. I don't do it to you, and I don't really care what you think about me. Either read it and get whatever you want from it, or don't. If you think you can change me from who I am to some nice, sweet, courteous person, you are wrong. Go blow.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Desert Diamond

If Casino Arizona was a bust, Desert Diamond was a jewel in the rough. Rarely have I had such a good time in a cardroom.

I remember that we visited DD a couple of years ago. They had a nice, new casino on highway 19 south of Tucson. For whatever reason, now it is in a trailer, attached to a tent. I suspected hard times, but was told that they just couldn't get a regular clientele to travel so far down highway 19, so they were building a new casino closer into Tucson.

Trailer or no trailer, the place was rocking.

We signed up for everything, since there were no seats open. They were spreading 3/6 HE with a full kill, ditto for Omaha 8 and 6/12 HE. They had interest lists for Stud 8 and 10/20 HE.

That night, they were holding a NLHE tourney. They have various ways to earn extra chips in their tournaments, sort of like many of the smaller cardrooms across the country. So many hours played live before the tourney is xx extra chips. If you purchase your rebuy in advance, extra chips. A tiny add-on, extra chips.

I ended up sitting in the O8 game for three hours. It was fantastic. The action was good, and some pots were in the $300+ range. Sometimes I'm such a dunce, I was so focused on my low that didn't get there, that I neglected to notice that I had a straight flush. I called out my ten-high flush, only to be told by the table that I had a straight flush. I get tunnel vision easily, especially with split games, since I don't play them very often.

For Omaha, the players were fantastic. Everyone is used to "Argu-ha," and this game wasn't a total exception, but for the most part, everyone got along, and there weren't eleven dealers sitting at the game (actually, they spread a nine-handed game, but you get the point). Most players were friendly and jovial. I thought I'd sat down at the wrong table, lol.

The tournament was equally friendly and juicy. I doubled up early on with a few premium hands that got excessive action. Then I got stupid and forgot my competition. With a ton of chips, I tried getting fancy with some top cards. Naturally I'd forgotten whom I was playing against, and the action I would get regardless of how I played. Once I had QQ. There was a guy in the eight seat who was shaking like a leaf whenever he was in a hand. He had a policy; always raise with any suited ace in any position. So I figured I'd get some FPS going and let him hang himself. I smooth called his raise, instead of popping him, which was my first mistake. When the board came low, I let him trap himself with a bluff, then put him in. No, he didn't get his ace, he ended up getting running hearts, for a flush. That was the end of my FPS.

We had an extremely loose Asian at our table. I think he was a dealer, but could be wrong, because he was wearing a ball cap and I couldn't remember. He was stealing quite a few pots, but didn't always know how to respond when getting caught. After the rebuy period ended, he decided to go for my blind. I found kings and reraised all-in. He looked at his chips for a while. If he didn't call, he would be left with maybe 1500. If he did, we were almost even in chips. He called. He showed T8s and caught two pair. I was eliminated in about 20th or so.

I was puzzled about him calling my all-in. It took me a bit of thinking about it, but I finally figured out what probably made him call. He was extremely loose and aggressive. I think maybe he thought that if he folded when I looked him up, he would be on a short stack, and could no longer play lots of pots. He would be forced to slow down. To some players, being forced to play conservatively is almost worse than being eliminated altogether. He could not adjust to being a short stack, so maybe he figured he'd rather go out in a blaze of glory.

Glenn got closer to the money, fizzling out when it got down to the final two, shorthanded tables. Glenn has become a really good tourney player lately. I have been very impressed with most of his play.

We really liked Desert Diamond. It was only 90 miles south of Casino Arizona, but yet a totally different world. We decided to stay overnight and play there again the next day, after a trip to see Biosphere 2.

Not once in our 12 hours or so play at DD did anyone asked to see mucked hands. Not once were the rules of poker, its integrity, twisted into an angle shot. Players were kind and cordial to each other, for the most part.

Tomorrow, I will write about our second days' adventures at the Diamond.
One thing I have noticed about my life is that people who are less fortunate than myself tend to attack me viciously. No biggie, it happens all the time, I'm used to it.

I have been a member of 2+2, UPF, Poker Clan, Hendon Mob and other poker forums for a long time now. Before that, I was a long time member of some health forums, when dealing with my own health problems.

One of the sad affects of these forums is that some people feel it is their business to go around attacking other members. The attacks are usually unprovoked and angry. I have had to deal with it for ten years now. It doesn't really change. I, myself, refuse to "flame" anyone on any group. I won't flame even if they flame me. I won't put myself down to their level in order to feel better about myself. I have way too much self-confidence to worry about what they think.

Sometimes, though, something is so funny or unique that it is worth writing about. I figure if it makes me laugh, maybe someone else will crack up about it and have a better day because of it, too. So that is why I'm sharing this one with you.

Lately, I have been flamed by someone. No surprise, right? Well, the funny thing about this is that in my life, there have been a couple of instances of someone who lives an "alternative" lifestyle trying to give me advice on my own lifestyle.

Once it was with a friend of my mom. He was a gay guy who went to my mom for haircuts. He became a really good friend of hers. One time, we were all out at dinner. He had found out that my latest boyfriend was a black guy. Suddenly, unprovoked, he started in on how he was raised the "old fashioned way" and didn't believe races should mix. He went on and on about this for fifteen minutes. When he was done, I was like, "Dude, you are gay! You get persecuted at every turn, and you, in turn, are a racist and telling me whom I should and should not date??? You are the last person I would ever expect to say something like that!"

About ten years later, I got some life advice from a hooker. She was virtually living on the street, working on and off in a strip bar, on drugs, in and out of jail and mental institutions, etc. I was reading a book, and she told me, "You know the problem that you have, Felicia?" Intrigued, I asked her what my problem was, and wondered how she could fix it. She told me that I read too much. That I used reading as a means to escape the real world, and plunge myself into a fantasy world. She went on to tell me how I could find other hobbies besides reading that would have more to do with the public, etc. Yes, she was dead serious. I was just sitting there trying so hard not to crack up.

It is amazing how people who are living fringe lives themselves feel they have some kind of right to tell others' how they should live their lives. Tell others' their shortcomings, and what they could do to improve themselves. That cracks me up.

Most recently, another hooker has been flaming me and giving me advice on how to live my life. Jeez, what is wrong with these people? I'm so sorry that you are not happy. I'm so sorry that your life is in shambles and that you have to sell yourself to survive. But I don't presume to give you advice on how to live, stop invading my life. If you don't like my writing, please, stop reading it. No one is holding a gun to your head, for cripesake.

I am extremely happy. I have been in a fantastic, monogamous relationship for nine years. I have been happily married for seven years. I was very fortunate to be able to retire at 30, as well as my husband.

So there is my laugh for the day. Told by three people, all who live very alternative lifestyles, that mine isn't good enough for them, and that I should change myself, to become the way they'd like me to be. Hehe, "why don't you blow me...blow me a kiss..."
And now, I guess I'll wrap it up by promoting a journal that I love. I keep saying that I'm going to go back to my "journal of the week" or something similar, but I run out of time, I can't seem to find the time to promote my favorite writers. Today, I'm going to make sure I get one in, even if I never find the time again!

Simon Trumper is a pro player from England whom I've spoken about before. He is a wonderful person to be around, as are a lot of Brits who play poker in the bigger tournaments. He immediately impressed me with his high standards and etiquette at the table.

I started reading his journal, and immediately thought to myself, "Daniel Negreanu!" He writes a lot like Danny. He walks his way through hands, thinking about them as they are being played out, then writing them up that way, for our benefit and instruction. Reading Simon's journal is like getting free lessons in poker from a world-class player.

His journal is too good to ever be missed! Thank you so much, Simon!