Musings on Poker and Other Stuff
Only been in London a few days but already been enjoying myself a ton despite the chilly weather. I started by galavanting around The sights and looking for Poker Terms IRL.
They were everywhere!
Then, we headed out to the PokerStars party at one of hottest night clubs in London, DSTRKT Apparently, Kanye and Jay-Z and Rihanna and everyone in hip hop has partied there. The party was gorgeous as always. And free...which is one of the amazing perks of this job.
Day 1a Kicked off with a heads-up match Full Tilt vs PokerStars and I got to interview some of my favorite guys in Poker.
It's only Day 1b. Can't wait to see what London has in store for me the rest of the week!
Walking through the halls of Atlantis I can't help but think about how different I feel now then I when I first came here 3 years ago. I barely knew anyone or anything about poker and I couldn't be more fortunate to be where I am now. I feel like the poker world opened up its arms completely and let me in for the full bear hug.
A HUGE part of that is in THANKS to these ladies.
And I can't forget the boys.
It wasn't all roses when I started...
But with a lot of help along the way own job has become way easier.
And the Poker Community finally feels like home!
Walking down the halls I see my friends and the faces of the people I love. Thank you so much for making me better. For putting up with me through the good and bad. For teaching me the difference between a gut shot and an open ender. For showing me who you are. And for sharing your life changing moments with me.
I am truly grateful.
I would argue that I am mostly a hippie. I go crazy for things like blind horses that need homes, or abuses to the environment. I am very active fighting for mostly bleeding heart causes. And still, the most amazing thing about humans is our ability to adapt to things entirely new to us. And what I am realizing is that I might have sold myself short on a lot of possible interests. By deciding that I am a certain kind of person or into a certain kind of thing, I might totally miss out on the things that make being an individual so amazing.
Some of the things that I never had an overt interest in have been some of the most exciting and rewarding interests or hobbies in my life. For example, when I first went to Thailand I planned on just beaching it up. But when I met a group of Thai people that were going to the South to teach climbing, I decided to go with them. They taught me to climb. It wasn't something I had ever really considered doing. It became one of the most rewarding things I ever did. By virtue of letting myself be open to something totally new, I discovered a sleeping part of myself.
Poker is one of those things also. And ironically, something which has now also started to define me in some ways. It wasn't something I was pulled to at all. But once I gave it a chance (really to be able to have a conversation with my boyfriend), my eyes were open to all the intricacies I was ALL IN so to speak. The more I learn about it. The more I love it. And if you would have asked me 5 years ago if I wanted to play Hold Em, I probably wouldn't have known what you were talking about. However, allowing myself to be open to the possibility that it might be some hidden talent I just hadn't discovered yet, I found another love.
Most recently I stumbled upon shooting. I am a constitutionalist. So when I heard that the powers that be were working on ways to take away the 2nd amendment, I thought, what the heck...I'll get a concealed carry permit. I never had the intention of getting a gun. I just wanted to get the permit so that if I ever wanted one, I would have gone about it in a very safe and legal way. The CCW class totally blew me away. All the laws and rules and situations were fascinating. Even more than that, this whole culture that seemed to feel people who didn't own guns were strange. I ended up shooting nearly perfect on my test. And yet again, I had found something I never would have expected that just adds to the core I "think" is me. I can be a mystery even to myself I guess. Constantly evolving by letting myself be shaped by the people and possibilities around me.
I got my first gun last weekend and am already signed up for a Tactical shooting course.
If you would have told me even one year ago I would be doing that, I would have laughed at you.
It makes me so excited to imagine what is coming next. What gem will I be exploring next year that seems foreign and ridiculous to me right now. Unraveling all the possibilities of this life one at a time is one of the greatest gifts we have. I am always grateful.
As anyone who knows me knows, I am a downtown rat. I don't like to play poker very often if I can't walk home when I'm done. This gives me the opportunity to drink if I want, blow off some steam on the way home, not have to wait for my poker playing buddies, etc. I'm also pretty rigid about work things. If I am responsible for working than I will never feel comfortable playing. And thus, over the last few years, I had avoided the Ladies Event and been the dutiful worker bee. However, this year the ladies fell on my off day and after a big debate about the merits of $1,000 I decided to go for it. I didn't sell any action, I just went full steam ahead.
I prepared for my very important day by utilizing my Casa Don Juan groupon.
I arrived for Day 1 just in time and found my table draw pretty nice. I had a hyper-agro girl, two extremely passive gals, couple of cash game players, a luck box, and finally came Team Bodog Jay Tan. Now I love this girl. We had our wake boarding virginity together.
Anyways you don't start with very many chips. You can pretty much play only a few pots early in the game. I hit a crucial double up when I flopped a set against Jay's top pair. She turned two pair so she woulda got it in there anyways probably. The day went pretty good until I called an all in with KK and obv A8 spiked an A and I was down to around 8 BB. But I hit my flips and took down the blinds a few times. And I made Day 2, 29th in chips.
I had a blast! I even had a rail that got in trouble 4 times. I was like OH GEEZ, If I final table this thing it is gonna go CRAY! I was super amped up after bag and tag around 3am and by 4:30am I still hadn't managed to fall asleep. #amateur mistake for sure. So I took a sleeping pill around 5:30am. I don't think that was the right choice for sure. I felt groggy and not great starting Day 2 and I basically donated my stack with 10 4 off to a woman who final tabled the thing.
But, I did manage to get a poker photo.
Yes, one small victory at a time. And I did cash my first WSOP event. It was an awesome experience and even though I was so mad at myself for the subsequent three days, I think I got a bit more confident. I shipped the Golden Nugget tourney I played right after that because it seemed like small ball compared. Even though I made more at the Nugget than cashing the Ladies!
And after that win. It ended where it started...I gave a shot of Tequila just one more try. Yep, it's still gross.
So a good friend of Heath and I's started a supplement company called Onnit. He sent over Heath some of their products to try. Like any good girlfriend I decided to sample some of the stuff myself. I was shocked! The first product I tried was called Alpha Brain. I had just come back from a long holiday and was tired and jet lagged, yet had tons of work to do. I popped an Alpha Brain to try to increase my energy and focus on work that day.
Boom. I worked for eight hours straight and actually enjoyed it!
Needless to say I started to do some research on the products and they are amazing. Essentially they designed a product using ingredients that most manufacturers were saying were too expensive. But lets be honest, what you are putting inside your body and mind for nurishment should not be based on the cheapest and most easily genetically modified products. I mean just look at this:
Using the Alpha Brain has had an additional effect on me. I dream the entire night and am slowly gaining more control of my dreaming state. It is nuts but super fun. Instead of losing eight hours, it is like i am playing for eight hours. I find it even helps me sleep. Meaning I get tired and fall asleep with ease at the end of a solid and focused day of energy.
They company offers tons more supplements including ones to help with the ick that comes after a long night of partying for me. But moreover, it is just designed for balance and mood moderation. It helps maintain calm.
Anyways, I called our buddy and asked how I could jump on board to help bring this into poker. I feel like these supplements could help poker players who want to be healthy and in tune. Instead of polluting your brain with aderoll and energy drinks...this stuff is a great alternative. So I've been talking to some poker players and getting it out there and I think that it is gaining tons of traction already. I'm gonna try to bring some samples with me to events...so hit me up if you wanna try some. And if you wanna buy some you can use Heath's code for 20% off. It is CRAZYHORSE.
My on camera debut came one year ago at the PCA. It was wild to go back this year and see how much things have changed. I remember last year Nick Schulman was leading the way in the Super High Roller and Kristy told me, "go grab an interview with him and ask him about being at the table with his best friend Eugene Katchalov." This was completely new to me and I didn't know who either of them were at all. I ran up, nervous and excited....the FAIL.
This year things felt so different. Not only do I not have a problem with Eugene's name anymore, I actually know him. Last year if someone didn't have a patch on I was likely to walk right by them. This year, patches were almost completely absent from the Imperial Ballroom. But, I no longer need that signage to signify who plays and who doesn't. In fact due to spending some time on all circuits I have a pretty vast knowledge of players from around the world. But that doesn't mean I don't still F it up. Just this year at the WSOP we were dishing out 3-4 bracelets a day. I remember coming in for my shift and there being a winner whose name was....very Greek...
I whiffed it and kept going. However, by the time I saw him next in Greece, I had burned that name into my mind. Baller.
It makes me think about what things will be like a year from now. Even my personal life is starting to change to reflect my professional life. I find myself actually spending social time with poker players. And loving it. For all of our faults I have to emphasize that the poker community is absolutely welcoming. And being the dog eat dog world that it is, I think the poker community could be an example for the rest of the world. Just because you are competing for the same prize, doesn't mean you can't share and help each other out. I've said it before and I will say it again. I FEEL BLESSED AND LUCKY TO BE A PART OF THIS WORLD. And I hope when I look back next year I can make of myself and the progress I hope I will continue making.
It started out like any other day. And it ended like this:
Well, maybe I should fill in some blanks. Yesterday was the WSOP Media Freeroll. I don't think I played last year because I didn't feel like I was really a part of the media, and well I had just started playing poker about 6 months before. This year, I was all about it! To be honest, I hardly even cared if there were prizes or not. Just poker, drinks and some of my new found best friends. We PN girls decided to show our PokerNews pride but sporting our I <3 PokerNews T-shirts. In hindsight, maybe broadcasting our association with PokerNews wasn't such a great idea.....but you know what they say about hindsight.
My primary concern to start the tournament was who I was going to get to drive my car back to the after party at Insert Coins. Once I found a responsible colleague up to the task, I was able to get in the game. It was a slow beginning for me, both in terms of alcohol consumption and in terms of cards. I took down a couple nice pots with marginal hands. I missed a couple streets of value here and there, but I made up for it in a few other hands. I was probably about average or below when I got moved to a new table. One guy was obviously dominating and luckily for me he was moved after about one rotation.
I made one bluff against Effel. I think he gave me the stink eye today. Because when I made the bluff I hardly realized there was another player all in for less, so I was forced to show with a lil baby rail all there watching. I'm probably just being sensitive, but that is how I am. I got moved again and I probably quadrupled up just in time for my 5th chardonnay to arrive. (drink) I definitely donked off around 1/6 of my stack to Annie Duke. We were in a small blind/big battle where she ended up making a straight on the river. I called her all the way down in an attempted hero call with Jack high. But of course what I read as a bluff, was more like a bluff turned into the nuts. Ooooopppppsss.
Anyways I made my way to the Final Table. But not dissimilar from my last post, where I come into the final table as a chip leader and leave with less than glory, such was my fate. To be honest, I'm not even sure what position I bust exactly. I think seventh maybe? I'm sure some more sober media members may remember. Too bad too because I'm probably the only poker person not to own and Ipad already. But I'm not too mad because I scored some Klipsch headphones for a bounty on @whojedi and some beats by dre headphones for being the last PN person standing. I also scored a blu-ray player and drumroll......comped Chip 'n Dales tickets. So obviously Kristy, Lynn and I will have to make a night of it. That will be another blog.
Basically the rest of the night ends in Mexican food, a dollar store, and me rambling to people I work with. When will I learn: DO NOT GET WASTED WITH YOUR WORK PEERS. I thought it was fine this morning. I actually felt good. But when I saw the face of my fellow PN employees, as well as Rio staff today, I realized I made quite an impression. Not to mention the comments, "wow, you look shocking well today.", or "you look much better than expected. Did you throw up?" For the record: no, I didn't throw up. And really, that was nothing!! You should see when I really blow it out. NO YOU SHOULDN'T. I'm still waiting for images of the final table to emerge. I definitely win the most ridiculously dressed award.
I let it all go. With poker people. And it was one of the funnest times I've had in awhile. So there you go, walk of shame aside, not only do I love poker people on the felt, I love them behind the bar. Thanks for the good times ya'll.
So, I have never been known for being 'a lady,' or knowing when to say the right thing, or knowing when to say nothing for that matter. Then, if you add in several glasses, or should I say bottles of chardonnay, it can really go the direction of probably a little bit offensive. I actually think people have referred to it as THE SARAH GRANT SHOW. Funny thing about it, it happens the worst when I am playing poker. After I took third at one of the Golden Nugget Grand Events I woke up with several regrets about the final table. There were at least two spots where I know I made the wrong fold or the wrong shove. But, all in all, I got drunk, had fun and came home richer. Good day off.
Oh no, I was about to have a talking to. I won't say by who, but let me just say this person knows me well and saw the whole thing go down. Apparently they were trying to cut me off. They told me a few times I was out of line. (I don't think this is true.) But the truth is: NO ONE STOPPED ME!! So if I was such a menace, why didn't someone punish me? I see people get penalties all day for silly accidents and I am causing an enormous scene and I don't get punished until the next day by my significant other. oh geez it slipped.
Here is my theory: Woman can do those things and it is funny.
Because woman are supposed to be timid and cute and demure, everyone is so shocked when a woman is vulgar and aggressive and offensive. Thus, when they see this, it is more like entertainment than it is something that causes an actual problem. There is nothing actually scary about me at a poker table. But I will talk some trash, boy!!! If I was a man, I would have been asked to leave I think, or probably gotten my butt beat down.
Example 1: I told the guy in the one seat, who I had been casually referring to as baby face all day, (finding nickname to alienate the other players from being real people in your mind is a key to this kind of trash talking), that I was going to take his girlfriend. She wasn't even that good looking. In fact she was a little overweight and her breasts were hanging everywhere. It doesn't matter, for shock value I want to make them both a little bit uncomfortable while simultaneously making all the guys at the table crazy. If a man were to say he was going to take someones girlfriend, I think that ends in fists flying.
Example 2: There was a guy there from Sweden who didn't agree to pay out the bubble. I thought this was very rude and decided his nickname would be mother f*#-er. I called him this all night while making fun of him every time he did anything. When he would raise I would say in my best (worst) Swedish accent, "oh really, mother f---er, in your ridiculous yellow shirt, you want to raise. I have a an idea. I re-raise. Want to borrow a tampon." I'm sure the crowd that had developed at this point shockingly even though it was 4am was just thinking, "where did they get this girl....she is completely insane."
I think when they cut me off I just started storing drinks under my chair. Any yes, of course I eventually spilled one.
Obviously the joke is on me. I came to the final table the chip leader and ended up with third because you can only be SO drunk an still play good poker. I had managed it for over 12 hours but into hour 16 I was waning. The only thing that kept plaguing me after was....if I was so unruly, how did I get by?
Being a woman. I run so good.
Basically I have brought you all up to speed to the point at which I arrive back in Sin City. This was about a year and a half ago and where my life moves to the felt....sort of. I spent several month prepping movies I was never going to shoot. I also started a talent agency to represent my boyfriend and other fighters in the film business. At the time it seemed like a perfect idea: I had all the connections in the film world and all the fighters' managers were terrible. This too, would take a back seat however once I fell hard for PokerNews. I still represent Heath. So all the time and money that went into starting that agency wasn't a complete waste. But my future was not going to be in the managing of fighting actor types, or even the managing of film sets. To quote Kristy Arnett, my future was, "to be semi-famous on the internet."
I was randomly sifting through Craigslist.org one day. I'm not 100% sure what, but as my thesis has been so far in this blog, I trust my gut and it never leads me too far astray. I saw an ad looking for a production assistant for the World Series of Poker. Coming from a production background I thought I might be able to take my skill set and learn a new trade. I was interested in poker and wiling to start at the bottom if need be to merge into this world as seamlessly as I had film. I interviewed with Matt Parvis, Tinsley and Topper. Topper gave me the thumbs up, but Topper is a lover, so I don't think that impressed. I waited. After a few days though, I got a call and as long as GloBalls didn't reject me...I was in for the WSOP. Sometime mid-week I got the call that GloBalls wasn't repulsed by me. I would start on Monday.
But I had to get through the weekend before that happened. My thought was, 'Sweet, let's party cause it's nose to the grindstone after this.' Some friends from Palm Springs were coming up to visit. And by friends, I mean a DJ (DJ Madd Matt) and some DJ groupie he had picked up on the way up. The whole thing is bit blurry. I have an openness problem. I want to share everything. Yet, there are people in my life who prefer a bit of privacy. I digress. Suffice it to say that the weekend ended on Sunday with me punching the refrigerator in my apartment and breaking my hand.
Here I was about to start this new life in the poker world and I had to start out my day by going to the doctor to see what the damage was. In an attempt to do it cheaply I went to a Doctor friend Heath had from his fighting days. Sadly though, he could not help me except to say, 'yes it is broken.' The break was bad and I had broken it several times before. In fact, I had some sets of screws in there. I needed surgery. But I didn't want to have to call my new boss and say, "Thanks for hiring me. I might have to take a few days off for surgery." I begged the doctor to set it and set me free. She set it.
Next mission was to do a good job at my new job while taking pain killers and typing with only my left hand. I actually just found my notes from the Series last year and was laughing because they looked like the scribbles of a child--they were written with my left hand. I went back to the doc the next week and she said my hand had shifted. It really needed surgery, but it was the last possible degree where she could let it slide if I insisted. I already felt like this job was perfect for me, so I told her to let it slide. My hand is kind of funny now. It sticks out a bit and is super sensitive. It doesn't always work right. I call it my special hand. It gives me character.
Turns out, the poker world LOVES characters.
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.