Musings on Poker and Other Stuff
I served my community and met some really crazy, and also some really awesome kids along the way. I returned to California for court and had my case dismissed. Finally that chapter was over, but I wasn't exactly sure what the new chapter would be. I was living with Heath and helping him through a pretty intense training program. His trainer was having all these family problems, (once again it was a blessing disguised as a curse), and so his trainer would email me the program and I would make Heath's meals and make sure that he got to the gym on time, etc. Fighters are like babies during training. Their bodies and minds are so haggard that you just have to lead them from one strenuous activity to another, to a meal, to another body bruising two hours, followed by some protein. According to one of his trainers from Holland he wasn't doing enough. In Holland they just destroy you, Heath was very familiar with this as he lost 50 lbs when he first moved to Holland at 21. His American trainer however thought he was pushing it too hard and that his body was breaking down. As it turned out, he was training too hard. He developed Bronchitis about 6 weeks out from his scheduled fight with Cain Valasquez. Heath has asthma and the doctors determined that traveling to Germany for the fight would put his immune system at risk of developing Pneumonia. Thus, after six months of intense training, we had to throw in the towel.
The universe continued to guide us in ways we never could have predicted on our own. The lease was ending on our crazy house. An opportunity presented itself for Heath to invest in a restaurant/bar called the Tilted Kilt in Palm Springs. Heath played poker with a guy who was part-owner and pretty soon we were in a UHaul on our way to Palm Springs. We were given a gorgeous place to live minus the fact that it is a retirement community. Check out the house we left behind in Vegas.
The bar was fun. I mean I'm like a kid in a candy store if you offer me free booz. Although there were some down sides. I have always said that fighters are like catnip for skanks.
And the Tilted Kilt is basically Hooters...so it wasn't always pretty. But I'll throw down. (drink) J/K Anyways, I left for 6 weeks to do a movie. Don't worry though, I got Heath on the movie, so he got to come for most of it. Woop. Woop. When we got back I took a job at an organic cafe. At first I felt like I was going backwards career wise. Then I realized it isn't always about forward or backward, it's about what fits right now. I didn't have a part in the Tilted Kilt business besides following my boyfriend to Palm Springs and drinking all their profits...so it made sense to do something else. I am the kind of person that has to do SOMETHING.
Towards the end of our six moths in Palm Springs Heath started playing a lot of poker. When he was home, he was up until 6am playing online. When he was with his friends he was playing live. It didn't take long before I wasn't able to have an engaging conversation with him because his mind was so focused on poker. After fighting it for months I finally decided to read a poker book. He had some appearances in Las Vegas, so I sat down at my first real poker table. I cleaned up.
I'm pretty sure that is what happens to most people...or at least all of us that got hooked. It doesn't take a genius to make that connection. What I enjoyed the most was watching Heath play online and talking about why he was doing certain things. Pretty soon we were debating choices together. And not too long after that we were on our way back to the City of Sin. That six months was a tough time for Heath and I. But we came out of it much stronger in ourselves and in each other. And finally both of us were into poker.
Well in light of the fact that a huge part of our poker world came crashing down last week, it would make complete sense for me to be writing about that and the aftermath. However, that has been written about pretty extensively and I doubt I have any important insight to offer. So I continue the brief description of my journey into poker.
Just as Dan and I had talked about, the only way to get where you belong, is to do what you want. Not to do the thing that makes sense to get you where you think you need to go. But trust your intuition, hell, even trust your mistakes. I decided, after saving my money for a few years waiting tables and doing other random jobs while attempting to finish school, that I was ready to move to California. My step dad may have had a good point when he probed me about what exactly I was planning to do. Did I want to work in a studio? Did I want to act? Direct? I want to do it all was the obvious response. So, I packed up my gear and my pitbull and headed to Hollywood. The move was an adventure in itself considering I had no place to move to yet, but that is another story.
I had worked on several features before and so clearly felt I was worthy of being picked up immediately by the major studios. Turns out it would take a little more work. But I really did do it all. i worked as a receptionist at Paramount for a few weeks just to check out the studio life. I did some acting. I did some promoting. But I really found my niche when I worked for free on a couple of shows one weekend. I had been an AD on features before, and the more I did it, the more I realized it really encompassed my strong suits.
For those who don't know an AD is like the manager of a film set. We schedule, plan, organize and run the set so the director only has to think about getting the story and performance from the actor. I yell, "quiet on set!!!" and "roll camera."
It fit perfect and I started a pretty healthy career. Within a year I was working on big pictures like He's Just Not That Into You and Hancock. I was the Unit Production Manager on a film for Master P--that is definitely worth a blog later. And then I found myself as a favor doing a movie originally titled Sex Blood And Fights. Turns out that gem would lead me down the next path to my poker destiny.
As the 2nd Ad on that flick, I met MMA fighter Heath Herring. We had a little romance and then it was time for him to return to Las Vegas.
We met up in New Orleans which was awesome except for the fact that I got my life stolen for the second time in one year. ( I also had my purse, laptop, cell phone, etc stolen on the Master P movie.) Pretty soon I started going to visit Heath every weekend. And here comes the before mentioned felony.
I was working on the re-shoots of the stellar action flick Never Surrender. After a late night of shooting the art department had already gone home. So the actor gave me all his props and I promptly threw them all in my purse. We had to next three days off so I headed off to the Bob Hope Airport to get on a flight to see Mr. Herring. As I went through the metal detector at the airport they pulled me aside to confirm that it was indeed my purse they were looking at. I told them it was and laughed when they pulled out the brass knuckles I had thrown in there from the night before. Well, it turns out they don't care if it was from a movie, possession of brass knuckles is illegal whether you are in the airport or not. I was arrested on felony possession of a deadly weapon. It would have been better had I had a gun because at least I could claim it was for self defense. I was booked. I think the universe was helping me in whatever way it could though because somehow the phone in my cell worked for about 20 seconds. You aren't even supposed to be able to call a cellular telephone, much less call from the phone inside your cell. But I got a hold of Heath just long enough to say, "they arrested me." He had his attorney's number given to me in the jail and the attorney was able to call my mom. Oh yea, you can't call out of state or cell phones!! WTF? My mom posted the bail and I was finally released. Although they didn't give me my cowboy boots back? Apparently since I was such a criminal I couldn't even be trusted with boots.
The legal battle that followed was expensive and lengthy. I was finally given a misdemeanor charge if I would serve 40, 8 hour days of community service. Basically two months where I would be unable to work. I was freaking out. How would I pay my rent? What about the film I was slated to start? Would I be able to see Heath? Then the worst thing ever, became the best thing ever. Heath paid for my attorney and offered to let me live with him and help take care of him while he was training. It basically meant I was leaving the city where my industry thrived. Sure, I would be able to do some work here and there, but it was a huge weight on my mind. Heath and I had only been dating for 6 months. And those 6 months are another blog, hell, they are a reality show. But I trusted my guts. I loved the guy and I figured I can always find work, I don't know that you can always find love.
So I moved to Vegas and started serving my community at the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth.
I've been with PokerNews for a year now, seems like the perfect time to be asked to start a blog. I've been reflecting about my new life in the poker world a lot lately. It's crazy how fast something can really become your world. I was talking with Vanessa Selbst yesterday about some hand where she decided to make a thin bet for value and I had a moment where I realized, 'I can't believe I even understand what she is saying.' Now, I am no expert by any means. But, this time last year I was just finishing Super System and playing my first live tournaments (at The Hard Rock, I said I'm not an expert!)
The poker world has been so welcoming. I'm not sure what I expected. i definitely didn't expect to count poker peeps among my best friends. And I certainly didn't expect to consider poker the best way to work and play. I was surprised by the lack of divas. From big names, to smaller ones, to the people that work side by side with me, the poker community welcomed me with open arms. So, how did I stumble into this wonderful world one might ask?
I think my journey is best expressed starting with a lovely conversation Dan O'Brien and I were having the other day about how he ended up in poker. Even more, about how anyone ends up doing anything. The thesis of our conversation revealed that those who trust their guts, usually end up following the road to their destiny. Those who try to fight it (by doing everything right) end up living lives waiting to live lives. You know, holding out for retirement or being SOLD jobs that they hate. We also decided retirement is a farce, but that is another blog.
He essentially chronicled for me how what had started in his life as pure laziness accompanied with intelligence had led him into poker. He made decisions because he was lazy, that eventually led him down the road to the green felt. Had he chose the right path, he may still be a day trader. I think poker is perfect for Dan because it is the quintessential lazy but brilliant person sport, if you will. Lazy smarts isn’t what got me here, but it is the same idea. I think what got me here is; an obsession with being organized and a little desire for attention.
As a girl I wanted to be an actress. But after my first film I realized that I wanted more control, and secretly I didn’t want to be auditioning all my life. I decided obviously directing was the next choice. I graduated high school early and moved to Mexico while I waited to hear back from colleges. I decided on NYU and took my gringa butt back to the states to save for life in the Big Apple.
NYU was awesome academically, albeit lacking a little socially. I was obsessed with my studies though, so that served me just fine. Going into my sophomore year I had some money problems and so decided to pursue my studies in the Czech Republic where it was cheaper. Yes, it was cheaper. But, consequently I learned less. And, had to live in Eastern Europe without speaking the language.
After some time of beating my head against the wall, even literally, I surrendered. I had done everything to get where I thought I deserved to be and needed to go. And I was pissed. So, I shaved my head into a mohawk and took to drinking heavily.
Ultimately, there was a whole other plan for me out there. I went to Thailand and ended up staying much longer than expected.
I learned to rock climb, live on three dollars a day, have no electricity, and I learned to LET IT GO.
This is when it all started happening. Like Dan, I started just doing what I wanted. Making crazy choices, but trusting my guts. And my whole life changed. As a little girl I thought I wanted to be an actress. I didn't even know that poker presenter was a job. It is a way we all pigeon hole ourselves. By the time you are in second grade you seem convinced already that you can be a lawyer, teacher, doctor, veterinarian or of course rock star. Well it turns out there is a whole other world out there and the only way to get there is to surrender.
Soon my guts would take me to the City of Angels and ultimately to the City of Sin. But that is the next installment which will include fighters, felonies and finally some poker.