So you want to know my story? Well, I don’t have one of those “I started playing poker with my grandfather as a child” stories. What I do have is the story of how I learned about gambling and horse racing from my Abuelo (that’s Grandfather in Spanish) & Dad at age 9. They taught me the art of deciphering those race programs to pick the best horses, favorite or not. Then I’d walk to the neighborhood kiosk with them to place bets. Later, we’d sit by the radio to hear the races with our picks, rooting and shouting for our horses to win.
My Dad was a helicopter pilot in the Army, an officer that flew Blackhawks and Hueys. Growing up an Army brat I moved around a lot. I ended up going to college at the University of Maryland, College Park (Go Terps!). In high school I was a jock and games were an extension of my competitive nature. I loved games growing up (Uno, Risk, Battleship, dominoes, pool, darts, Atari, you name it, I played it). Skip to adulthood — I’m 21 and living in New York. I discover the world of senior citizens and early bird BINGO on Long Island and am immersed in that, until I take my first trip to Atlantic City in 1994. I graduate to slots and think, “Wow, THIS is it.” That evolves to Blackjack and Craps. Then I start to realize all of these games are one-sided, playing the house. And you know what they say about playing the house…
Cut to 2003 — I’m a struggling stand up comic living in LA who has started producing behind-the-camera because it paid and allowed me to be more creative. Keeping myself in shape for the on camera work, I’m at the gym working out. I look up at the plasma TV and see a bunch of serious men sitting around a table playing this card game with chips — No Limit Texas Holdem’ on the World Poker Tour? Millions of dollars are going into a pot, and they’re betting, but against each other.
Watching it I think, “this looks like watching paint dry,” but as a people watcher, game lover, and artist it triggers a lot of questions in my mind: How much psychology goes into this game? How does one convince another they have the best hand? How much of poker reflects on how you act/react in everyday life? There’s definitely math involved in this but how much creativity? Do you get to dawn another personality, so to speak? What kinds of interactions happen at the table? And where are the women?? As a former athlete and stand up comic I was instantaneously attracted because I was used to playing with the boys. My next thought, “I need to learn this card game.”
It just so happens that a guy named Chris Moneymaker decided to blow poker up that same year when he turned a mere $39 playing online poker into millions by winning the World Series of Poker, so “the poker boom” and I picked up the game at the same time. I started playing tournaments and cash games in LA & Vegas until 2008 when I moved to New York. There I played the underground scene & at Borgata. In 2010 I moved to Miami, FL and played at every poker room near me.
My funnest poker trivia fact is that I knocked Vanessa Selbst out of a small charity tourney once. I’ve been coached by poker pros Marsha Wolak, Jessica Dawley, and Natasha Barbour (Jessica & Natasha are Poker Ambassadors for Hard Rock) of Epic Poker Training.
WHY did I start this blog? Well, I have 2 passions (ok, more than 2)…and I have as many passions as I have multiple personalities (I’m a Gemini) and this blog allows me to mix them up and confuse them. Wait, what? Let’s keep it moving…my first blog is the perfect example of what it’s like to be a Gemini. My inner voices can not stay quiet, they are with me at the tables and play many roles in my hands.
Listen, I love writing, poker, and making people laugh. This blog is (I hope) a platform for all 3. So read, learn from my mistakes, and most importantly LAUGH! At the end of the day, I’ve gotta have fun or…it’s work. If you like what you read, share it! And may you all have insanely sick run good after reading my blogs.
PS: My sister has a rescue in LA, Mayte’s Rescue, she’s working on building an all-in-one, state of the art facility for her rescue animals. As a huge animal advocate I’m looking to help her by producing a charity tournament to raise money for her rescue and the facility. Any leads/info for sponsors will be greatly appreciated!