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Everything Happens for a Reason

16 Sep 2006

Before making my trip out to Toronto I spent a few days golfing with some friends I don’t spend enough time with. Guys that I’ve been playing poker with for almost 15 years now.

You are lucky in life to have friends that would “have your back” and these guys qualify. My brother, first and foremost, I’m certain would take a bullet for me. He is just one of those people, a real protector. Sometimes he can be a little over protective, but his intentions are loving.

I’ve got my brother, Sam, Tyson, and my two best friends from high school, Regev & Oren. I have other friends too obviously, but this core group of people are the people I’ve been friends with the longest.

Since moving out to Vegas I don’t see all of those guys as much, but I was able to make some new friends along the way. Jennifer Harman, and now her husband Marco, are both really close to me. Erick Lindgren, the best man at my wedding, is also someone that I spend time with. Evelyn Ng, I’ve known since I was about 17 from my Toronto days, and we are still good friends although I feel like I never see her anymore.

I have so many other friends that I just don’t spend enough time with anymore. Allen Cunningham was a guy who used to stay at my place during Vegas tournaments. John Juanda, another guy that was always there with his fatherly advice, is one of the funnier people I know, but you wouldn‘t know it from watching television. If you spent time with John, you‘d see how much of a joker he is, poking fun at others, but also himself. Then of course there is Phil Ivey.

Phil and I have some things in common that maybe some of the other guys don’t. Back in the day, Juanda and Allen always seemed like the logical ones, and that still holds true. Phil and I, we were just a lot wilder in our decision making. Sometimes that works out, other times it doesn’t.

If I had to talk to someone who really “gets me,” or has “been there,” he is often the guy that I would talk to. Not just about poker, frankly, rarely ever about poker, despite the fact that Phil is the best all around player in the world in my opinion. He tries harder than anyone else I know and that’s probably the key thing that separates him from the rest of the players out there.


On September 13th, I played golf with Tyson, Sam, and Ted. It was Tyson’s birthday and that’s what he wanted to do. I couldn’t hang out after golf because I needed to be on a plane to Toronto at 11:30pm that night.

I got to Toronto early, at about 6:45am the next morning. My mother, desperately missing Foxy asked me to bring her to Toronto for her. Dogs can’t sit in first class on Air Canada, so I had to switch my seat and was crammed into a smaller seat with much less room which made for a longer flight.

I’m no prima Donna that has to fly first, but I just can’t sit like a normal person for extended periods of time. I don’t know if it’s my hamstrings, or my lower back muscles, but I can’t sit normally without pain so the coach seats aren’t something that I look forward to. They give me no room to stretch out my legs. Having Foxy under the seat in front of me only made it even more crammed.

When I got there, I had to go through extra screening because of the dog. Then something legitimately scary happened. The guy asked to see my wallet, then he did a scan of it or something. He came back to me and asked me if I did any drugs? I was like, “Dude, I don’t even do caffeine!”

He then told me that there were traces of heroine on my wallet and asked why that might be. I was dumbfounded, but thought maybe it had something to do with cash touching the wallet? The guy didn’t seem to believe me, and asked to see my arms.

I showed him my arms on both sides. He was looking for track marks. He found nothing, obviously, and then asked to see my toiletries bag. Now this bag was brand new since I left my old bag at the hotel in Tampa Bay recently. Patty refilled my bag with all of my needs so everything in there was brand new.

Anyway, he swabbed the inside of the bag and found MORE traces of heroine! I was honestly scared, but just a little. I couldn’t figure out how traces of heroine could be in the bag?

The officer asked me if I had any friends who did drugs. “No, none,” I told him. He then asked me if I was at a bar or something like that recently where I may have run across heroine. “I was at a bar called Brewski’s the other night?” I told him.

It was so strange, I didn’t know what to tell the guy? He was asking me to explain why there would be traces of heroine on my wallet and inside my toiletries and I had no answer?

Eventually he let me go. After giving it some thought, the only thing I can think of was that somehow traces of heroine were on my hands and when I handled my toiletries it got on there also. All in all, that was a scary moment for me. I honestly thought there was a chance that I would be heading to jail, and I just don’t think I’d do all that well in jail if you know what I mean.


My brother picked me up and we headed over to his place. Both my mother and my sister-in-law Ornella had food ready for me when I got there. I inhaled a couple of sandwiches and then dozed off for the afternoon so that I could be prepared for the UMM/Bobbi party later that night at This Is London.

Once I got the party I started mingling with some old faces and some new ones. One new face in particular struck me by surprise. Angelina Jolie was there and she came up to introduce herself. Then she asked if she could buy me a drink.

We sat in the VIP section for a little while talking poker. Apparently she wants to learn how to play. Then things got really weird. She asked if I would tutor her and teach her how to play, but I told her that I just don’t have all that much time and she could always try qualifying for Protégé 2 if she was serious!

She continued to push me on it, though, telling me that she would do anything it takes to have me teach her. Then, I truly got creeped out. She told me that Brad, “Didn’t mind,” and that she is free to do what she pleases. In fact, that they have an open relationship and often share???

I was totally freaked out at this point. First of all, I didn’t know she was even coming, and second of all, I seriously didn’t think she would be THAT interested in poker?

Before I continue, did I have any of you going on that one? LOL. The whole heroine thing was 100% true, but no, Angelina Jolie wasn’t at the party and no, she didn’t proposition me.

The party was a blast, though, as a good amount of FCPer’s were there too. One dude, XXXmen was begging me to give him a “shout out” in the blog or the forum. I tried to politely explain that I don’t really take requests like that. Then he goes into his wallet and hands me $1000 to give him a shout out.

I, of course, took the money, so here is your shout out: “Hey XXXmen, how is it going buddy?” In the future, anyone who wants a shout out in the blog can send money to shoutouts@fullcontactpoker.com. XXXmen started the bar high with the $1000 bid, but I’d be willing to do shout outs for the low, low, price of $645.

(Ok, that part wasn’t true either J
The party there ended at 2:00am, but we all decided to head over to another place that was just down the street and open until 4:00am because of the Film festival.

That party was being thrown, in part, by my cousin Michael so he took care of us there as usual. Once there, this guy comes up to me and tells me he thinks my Mom is great, etc. and that he saw my MTV Diary that aired in Canada already.

The guy’s name was Chris Sheppard, a very famous DJ that revolutionized dance music in Canada in the 80’s and 90’s. You can checkout some of his work at www.piratesounds.com.

My brother was an absolutely huge fan of his and so Chris gave him a copy of his CD. I ended up talking to Chris for most of the night. We ended up talking about God. We had something in common, in that, we both were believers, but that it can be difficult to share your feelings publicly when you are in either his, or my industry.

Our position on how to do that was very similar. Never, ever be “in your face” about it. Being subtle is a much more effective way about dealing with the topic of religion than by cramming it in people’s faces. I hate it when others pass judgment on me, so the last thing I’m going to do is shove my beliefs down other peoples throats. I’m more than willing to talk openly about my faith in God, but I try to be very careful not to be too strong with my words or to offend those that don’t believe.


I had an 8:20am flight to Philadelphia and then a one hour ride to Atlantic City, so it was time to start getting to my brother’s place. When I got there, I took my time since it was only about 6:00am, and by that time Ornella was up and made me something to eat.

My brother was crashed out on the couch trying to squeeze in a few minutes of sleep before a long day of work ahead of him.

Then Ornella decided to look at my itinerary. She looked at my departure time, and it was a 6:45am departure! It didn’t look like I’d be able to make it, but my brother lives just 5 minutes from the airport.

I didn’t think it would be a huge problem anyway since if I missed the flight I’d just take the next one and get to AC in plenty of time to check in and make the 12:00pm tournament start time.

I went to the check-in desk at US Air and they told me it was too late to get me on the 6:45am flight. “No worries, can you get me on the next flight out to either Philadelphia or Atlantic City?”

The lady checked through the computer and found me a flight that connected in Cincinnati and got me into Philadelphia at noon. That wasn’t going to work for me, so I asked them what other airlines will get me there quicker. Nothing.

I went to information, talked to everyone I could, but there were no flights before then. Man, that sucked, but since I had no choice I went back to the desk at US Air and decided to take the connecting flight which would force me to miss the first hour of the tournament.

That wasn’t too big a deal, since before even traveling to Toronto I knew that I wouldn’t be at 100% for the Borgata event. So, my plan was to play very tight on day one and just look to survive. Then, get a good night’s sleep and go to work on day two.

It was a little after 7:00am now, so I had three hours to kill. Toronto airports are “bum friendly” in that the seats don’t have arm rests on them so you can sleep across four chairs. It was tough to sleep, though, since there was this annoyingly loud alarm going off the entire time, non-stop! I finally woke up at about 10:00am to see that my 10:30am flight was delayed to 11:20am. That put my connection in jeopardy. When the flight was delayed even further, to 12:00pm I weighed my options and felt like it would be foolish of me to go.

I really wanted to play in the tournament, but combining the fact that I wouldn’t be at 100% on day one with the fact that there were no guarantees I’d get there before 4:00pm, I said screw it, and pulled my bag from the plane.

Ornella was at work and so was my brother. My mother lived quite a ways from the airport, so I just walked across the street and checked into the Sheraton.

I was trying to sleep, but if you can freakin’ believe it, they were testing their fire alarm at the hotel for two straight hours. What a brutal day.


When I woke up I decided to watch some TV and maybe a couple of movies. First, I watched 20//20 and it was an excellent show called Race and Sex. Basically explaining that we ALL show bias towards people based on race, gender, and age, whether we like to believe it or not. It explained that to stereotype people is to be human. We all do it.

What’s really stupid about our culture is that people are afraid to talk about it. If a coach says that blacks make for better cornerbacks and running backs he’s looked at as some kind of horrible racist. Doesn’t it matter that it appears to be true based on statistics? That EVERY starting corner or running back in the NFL is black?

In fact, despite the fact that blacks make up only 12% of the population, 87% of the players in the NBA are black. 75% of the players in the NFL are black. So, if you were to generalize and say that blacks are more inclined athletically, why does this garner so much negative attention?

No white man has EVER run the 100 yard dash in less than 10 seconds. None… EVER! Would it be outlandish to make the general statement that blacks are faster than whites?

Or how about long distance running. Kenyan runners absolutely dominate the sport. They suck in the 100 yard dash, but their bodies, the thin legs and smaller mass weight appear to be the ideal body for long distance running.

The show was really, really, interesting and it showed some other experiments as well that would surprise you. At one point, they had a classroom of kids look at two pictures. One picture, was of a black man, and the other was a white man. The kids were then asked which man looks nicer. They all said the white guy. They were then asked, which one was the criminal. They all said the black man. Then they asked, which one was the teacher. They all said the white man.

The white man in the picture was in fact, Timothy McVeigh the Oklahoma bomber and the black man was actually a professor at Harvard. These kids, at a very young age developed stereotypes and bias.

They also did this test that kind of blew me away. This test was supposed to show that a person’s mindset has a ton to do with how successful they can be at a task. For example: they did this golf test where you had to putt over a bump and make the putt into three different holes. They tried it on black people, and when they were told that it was an “athletic test” they all fared very well.

However, when the people were told that it was a “test of intelligence” they fared much worse. The theory being, that their level of confidence in a test of physical ability was very high. However, as soon as they were told that it was an intelligence test, added pressures negative stereotypes put on people cause them to do worse.

That’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, there was more to the show than that.

After 20/20 I watched the 50 Cent movie Get Rich or Die Tryin’. I read horrible reviews on the movie but wanted to see it anyway. I’m glad I did, I actually enjoyed the movie.

Then I watched another movie that is one of those potentially life changing films. You’d never believe in a million years that an Adam Sandler movie could be “life changing,” but the premise of Click is very powerful.

It basically deals with a man who works too hard and his family life suffers. He gets this “magic” remote control which allows him to fast forward through parts of his life. In the end, he misses out on so much time with his family and regrets it big time. I won’t spoil it any more for you than that. I personally got a lot out of the movie.


Anyway, it’s 6:00am here in Toronto right now and I’m getting sleepy again. As you can probably tell, the whole “daily blog” has become more of a “weekly” blog. I enjoy writing them, but it is one area of my life that I felt like I could spend less time on in order to make time for more important things.

I’m going to hang out in Toronto till the 20th, playing in Ian Legget’s Celebrity Golf & Poker Tournament on the 18-19th. Till then, I’m not sure what I’ll be doing, but it will mostly likely include a lot of personal time and some writing.


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