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Misconceptions

Bond18 The recent conception of this blog has had an interesting affect on my personal life. I got used to anonymous comments and judgments being made about me on the internet a long time ago from my years spent posting on forums and stopped affecting me a long time ago. However, getting the opinion of people who have met me and their perception of how I would be based on the blog or their thoughts having previously known me is far more relevant and interesting for me. While bored in Africa I went back to reread a few entries to see how I came off and started to understand where they got these impressions. Still, I feel a number of misconceptions have arisen as a result of this blog about both me and people close to me so I’d like to use this entry to try and clear some of them up.

1. I’m a drug addict: First things first; I have tried one drug in my life and that’s marijuana. I thought that I never tried it until I made a conscious decision at age 23 to get blazed with some 2+2’er friends, though I recently found out that there was a couple times when I was mega wasted at age 20 when I hit some friends piece but was too far gone to remember. I always promised myself that when I tried weed I would never allow any drug escalation of any sort, and although I am curious about other drugs and enjoy asking people about their experiences with them I can say for sure I will never try anything else. I have no judgment for those of you who do, it’s simply a personal choice as a result of being a health nut and aware that experimenting with more drugs could lead to a dangerous slippery slope, not to mention the negative stigma that comes with people knowing that’s your scene.

It’s true there was a period in my life where I was smoking pot daily, but even then it was mostly done in the evening after I’d done everything productive I needed to do with my day. I have never felt I fell into the category of a “pothead” in the sense that I sat around stoned all day and craved little else. Even this summer in Vegas I would often get high then go to the gym for two hours and come home to cook something healthy(ish) for myself. There will likely be a point in my life when weed loses its appeal to me and considering I’ve decided to move Dubai until December I’m about to have a few months away from it and I don’t anticipate any difficulties with that.

Almost every single one of my poker playing friends asks me to not name them in the blog when it comes to smoking pot because they’re aware of the possible sponsorship consequences and implications, with the exception of my Australian friends because like all Aussies, they don’t give a shit about much of anything and I love them for it. I never attempt to apply peer pressure on others to try drugs and respect everyone’s choices, or as the conversation commonly goes:
“Hey man you wanna hit any of this?”
“No thanks, I don’t smoke”
“No worries, more weed for me baby!”|

2. I’m washed up at poker: It’s true that I really haven’t done much at all in the year of 2009. I’ve had one decent live result (second in ANZPT Adelaide for about 70k US which is nothing special in the grand scheme of things) and have played very little online where I’m ballpark break even on the year I believe. I’m fully aware that having spent so much time away from poker my game has likely fallen behind and that when I return to hardcore grinding in roughly a week’s time I’ll need to do some serious study. There is a general misconception amongst many players that this is an easy job or quick way to make a buck but in reality nothing could be further from the truth. Unless you’re a huge genius or natural poker is a ton of study and hard work and I fully appreciate that. I’ve gotten to the point I’m at because for years I spent my life absorbed in the game and sought the coaching and advice of people I thought were fantastic at both the game and explaining the concepts behind it, guys like Adam Junglen, NoahSD, Mike Watson, Luckychewy, Randallin and many more.

A little over a week from now I will return to the online arena with fervor. I’ll be grinding about nine hours a day six days a week for the next few months, even though that means living truly miserable hours given the time zone I’ll be in. I’ve already consulted a number of players I respect about swapping review sessions and spending time discussing strategy on Skype like I used to. What the last few months have taught me more than anything is that poker is an incredible opportunity and that I’m one of the luckiest people alive to have a job that I truly love and that allows me the opportunities that I’m privy to. When I went home to Wisconsin so many of the friends I grew up with were confused and exasperated trying to figure out what to do with their lives and my time in Africa forever cemented the idea in my head that I should secure my financial stability.

I guess over the last year my mind has been in places outside of poker, which is fine by me. I go through phases where I want to spend heavy amounts of time pursuing interests outside the game such as exercise, girls, and travel and I like to think they make me a more complete person. That said, my passion for the game is fully reignited and I can’t wait to go back to the job of not only playing, but learning.

3. I write about going to whores: When a guy I knew in real life said this to me my immediate reaction was “What the fuck are you talking about!?” in a less than friendly tone. I can understand why people would think this is something I’d partake in given my general behavior and hell; I even wrote a blog entry entitled “The mathematics of whoring.” I have no judgment for those who choose to indulge in whores; it’s their decision and risk and none of my business if they don’t want it to be.

Personally I have never paid for sex, for a number of reasons. First off, I’m afraid that if I got started in that direction I might never stop, that if I broke down the mental barrier I have associated with it that I’d lose interest in chasing normal girls and would wind up at the hookers all the time. Second, I genuinely enjoy spending time with/dating women in the traditional form and the buildup of sexual tension that goes with it. I like hanging out with women; they’re fun, they’re challenging, they’re seductive. Third, I don’t feel I should have to pay for it. I’m a young guy living an attractive lifestyle who isn’t awkward around women; I shouldn’t have to resort to shelling out of pocket just to thoroughly bust a nut. I guess it just feels like a cop out for me. Fourth, I didn’t spend months studying pick up just so I could go buy girls; I enjoy the sense of gamble associated with the chase. The nights I go home alone and annoyed to watch porn in a sea of my own self loathing make the nights I go home with a girl with a mile wide grin on my face all the more satisfying. I guess that makes me results oriented.

4. I’m arrogant: Don’t get me wrong, having gone back and reread some entries I can see where this comes from. I’m happy to fess up to being cocky; it’s delusional to think I’m not. However, I think the people who’ve met me would nearly unanimously say that I’m pleasant, polite, easy going, and approachable. I’ve always made it clear online that anyone who wants to message me for advice, no matter what on or how inconsequential, is free to do so and is likely to get a response (though I have been awful about getting back to them during my travels.) I have never lost my temper on the table towards anyone and I doubt anyone can tell a true story where they saw me lose a hand or bust out and I was rude or offensive afterward. I think my worst reaction in memory was quickly walking away without speaking a word after a particular brutal bust out and I think it’s pretty pathetic that many of my fellow professionals feel the need to lose their shit at someone just because they’re disappointed over a few hands or tournaments. Professional indeed.

I like to think I’m one of the most outgoing and social guys in poker. I invite everyone to everything, even at times when I probably shouldn’t. I had a couple of BBQ parties at my house this summer in Vegas and invited everyone I could think of, going so far as to throw up a thread on 2+2 for anyone to see. It didn’t matter who they were, what stakes they played, or the fact that they were 16, if they saw the thread they were welcome in my house to eat my food, drink my beer, and smoke my weed (okay, so the 16 part wasn’t terribly responsible of me, but he was living in a 2+2 Vegas house anyway so it’s not like I corrupted his ass.)

I like to think I haven’t forgotten where I came from. At heart I still feel like some random kid from Wisconsin who was never particularly talented at anything and happened to get lucky in finding poker early and having some smart coaches and friends. It wasn’t so long ago that I was just another subpar grinder looking for advice wherever I could get it, and just because I’ve won a few donkaments I don’t think that makes me a better person than anyone else, it just makes me better at playing 30 BB stacks than most. If poker dries up I’ll go right back to being that random kid from Wisconsin, albeit a well traveled one, who is likely to never get paid six figures a year to do anything ever again and at this point doesn’t even have a college degree.

5. I’m a misogynist: A good friend of mine told me that I come off as a misogynist in my blog over dinner in my last week in Vegas. He said from knowing me personally that it’s clearly not the case, but even his having had that perception really bothered me. I understand the kind of stigma that hangs around pick up, particularly with weirdos like “Mystery” running around in giant capes and top hats talking about running routines and negs. I understand that the assumption about any guy who dates with the volume that I do is that he views women as disposable and easily replaced. I understand that people would think from the writing that I happily and instantly out any woman I fool around/sleep with regardless to the consequences on her life.

When it comes to writing about the women I date I apply two basic rules. If it’s a girl that was a super random hook up that basically nobody knows or has met and is in no way involved in my social circle then I change her name, almost entirely leave out description, leave out identifying locations, and refrain from any disparaging comments. I think the worst thing I’ve said about a girl in my blog is that she was “plain looking.” When it comes to girls who people know I’ve had involvement with, are in the poker industry, or could be easily identified I give them the option of being completely omitted or editing my story in any way they see fit by sending it to them before I throw it up. I’ve gone so far as to let one girl write the entries with me, which was pretty fucking cool of her in my opinion even if she did leave out all the fun stuff. I’ve shown what I’ve written to quite a lot of women and I’ve yet to get a negative reaction and I even had one girl say it was the nicest compliment anyone had even given her.

Of all the women I’ve had some romantic involvement with since the start of this trip, which is ballpark 20 (which is not to say I’ve slept with 20 women) I only have negative things to say about one of them and I can assure you that she properly earned them, and I won’t be writing about it. I’m confident that most of the women I’ve dated would say that I’ve been respectful, generous, pleasant, and above all, honest. I air it all out from the get-go; that I’m not really looking for commitment, that I’m not monogamous, that I will almost certainly leave wherever we are, that I smoke pot, and that I like to go get wasted with my friends with pretty decent regularity. No, I don’t walk up to women and say “Hi, I’m Tony and I have a blog that chronicles my gambling, drug use, and sex life” (which come to think of it might be a lot of fun) but lately I have been screening for girls who I think are going to be cool with it and telling them about it before we get physical. I’d really rather hang around people that I can be myself around, which is something that really appeals to me about pick up. I can meet a lot of women being nothing but myself and if we aren’t compatible then I’ll just go meet a bunch more and not feel bothered that any girls I met previously weren’t interested.

I can say that this kind of dating lifestyle is not something I anticipate doing forever. It’s incredibly time consuming, expensive, only occasionally emotionally fulfilling, and you can go through vicious streaks where you get very little sex (and I will certainly not deny being a huge sex degen.) Sometimes I run into guys with girlfriends who tell me that my blog makes them wish they were single and I always tell them it sounds more fun than it is then give them the following example: I spent six weeks in Vegas for the WSOP and despite having sex with four different women I only had sex on seven different days, spent quite a bit of time and effort to get it, spent no more than a few days with each girl, and wound up longing for a girl that due to my lifestyle I simply couldn’t have. Don’t get me wrong, there are some awesome advantageous to the lifestyle and I’m glad I’m pursuing it while I’m young because I’m confident that If I didn’t I would have always wondered, it’s just that I don’t anticipate doing it for too long.

I have only cheated on one woman in my life (not Celina) and although I never got caught (I don’t think) it was still a pretty terrible feeling and simply a stupid and selfish thing to do. If you get into pick up (or are naturally good with women) you’ll find there are plenty of women who are happy to date casually and openly just like men. You simply have to accept that she will very likely be dating others as well and you might wind up being expendable next to a guy who can offer more emotionally. You don’t have to lie or cheat and if anything openly presenting myself as not monogamous has certainly helped attract the kind of women who could handle that kind of relationship and repelled the ones who couldn’t.

6. Celina used me/I write the blog to get back at her: A few people have mentioned to me that people perceive that Celina used me to learn poker and get a foot in the industry then got rid of me when I was no longer a viable way to move up in the world. I get how it looks, but let me make this abundantly clear; I have always maintained both privately and publicly that Celina was absolutely correct to have broken up with me and that roughly 95% of the problems in the relationship were on my shoulders. For the last year of our relationship I was a totally lackluster boyfriend and although I was never mean or temperamental with her I was certainly apathetic towards the health of the relationship and my disinterest became highly apparent. Celina was as good a girlfriend to me as any man could hope for and the only real mistake she ever made was getting committed to a guy who was way too young and reckless to think about settling down. Early in the relationship she even went so far as to cover rent when I was a moron with no bankroll management who lost nearly everything.

In the end we simply wanted different things and just weren’t as compatible as we appeared, and I hold none of this against her. That’s why I find the idea that I write the blog to get back to her particularly absurd. There’s nothing to get back at her for and her affect on my life was undeniably a positive one. I wish her nothing but the best of luck in her career as a poker player and budding celebrity and for what it’s worth I asked her about writing this at the APT party to make sure it was cool.

7. I volunteered for my own self-satisfaction: Obviously any volunteer work is partially self satisfying and motivated. As they say on the internet “Like duh, obviously.” I didn’t go to Africa thinking I could fix poverty or solve the world’s problems. I went to Africa for three main reasons. First, I just plain love travel and the kind of things I learn doing it. Every time you go somewhere totally different and encounter a people you’re unfamiliar with you become increasingly empathic and open minded. I can’t recommend it enough. Second, I liked the idea of doing something productive with myself outside of poker. I love my job, but it’s still sitting inside on my computer or at a table and doing math problems all day and outside a bit of writing I can’t say that I’ve done anything constructive or substantial in my adult life. Third, I had a month between the WSOP and the APT so fuck it, why not go to Africa.

I’m quite excited to write about the time I spent there in further detail as I have a lot of good and bad memories and a couple of totally absurd stories. With anyone who has a bit of gamble them I’d definitely advise checking out Africa as you’ll see some crazy shit there that you just can’t compare to anywhere else you’ll go. Unfortunately, you’ll also see some things that make you feel a brief twinge of guilt every time you eat a decent meal or take a shit in a toilet that isn’t a bag with the intention of launching it out the window.

Alright, that’s quite enough for now. I’ve spent three sleep deprived hours on this and wound up ranting for 11 pages. I look forward to getting back to Dubai so I can finish the story, I feel confident that it’s not boring.

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