Shuffle Up and Deal

A pair of aces is arguably the best hand to be...Image via Wikipedia
I started really getting into poker and specifically the Texas hold'em variety of the card game back in 2004. I read some books on how to play and improve my game. I hosted a few games at my house, but quickly learned none of my friends knew how to play. I played a couple cash games in casinos in Reno and Atlantic City. I learned very quickly that cash games are very different from tournament style. I didn't play online because I liked the action of a live game and being able to study my opponents. The World Series of Poker tour was all over the TV, but if I wasn't playing I wasn't watching. I guess I could have learned something by watching the pros, but that didn't dawn on me at the time. I joined a poker club that met Sunday nights at a local bar. A poker club is for those who live where gambling is illegal, which is pretty much everywhere in this country. I had fun in the beginning, but being a stickler for the etiquette of the game, I learned very fast that people play very differently when it's free compared to when money is on the line. Playing in a smoky bar with drunk idiots or with people who didn't know how to play or both wore me down pretty fast. What really did it for me was the fight where the word "divorce" was first uttered by my first wife started at a poker club game because some crusty old douchebag was hitting on her. Seriously-no joke. You play the hand you are dealt (pun intended).

I moved on with my life without poker. I still loved poker, I just didn't go out seeking to play. The passion died. Fast forward a few years. I got remarried and started a family. We joined a great Episcopal church. The Young Family Ministries dad's group has a monthly poker game that I got invited to. I won my first two games. That's all it took to get the fire burning again. I was back baby. I was so motivated that I got my own monthly poker game together with a new group of friends who love to play poker as much as I do. Two games a month didn't satiate my hunger. Like a sign from the heavens, I turned on the boob tube one night and what was on? You guessed it-poker. This time i watched intently, hoping to learn a trick or two from the pros. What I did learn is that as skilled as these poker pros are, you still need lots of luck. With lots of playing, studying and luck, I can do what they do. So I took the plunge and started playing online for free. Online poker is a very different beast which is good because it adds another facet to my game.

Last week I played in my first high stakes ($100 buy-in) game. It was a charity game dubbed "Hold'em for the Cure". Half the buy-in was a donation to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the other half went to the prize pool. I was excited. So excited in fact that I was the first one knocked out. On about my fifth or sixth hand I went all in with a full house deuces full of aces. It's hard to beat a boat. But I was beat by a full house sevens full of aces.  He sank my battleship! I then played the role of sore loser as there was no re-buy and you still had to be in the game to purchase the add-on. I stayed for the pizza dinner. After eating and throwing a hissy fit, I quietly left.

So here I am playing and losing lots of poker. I have dreams of becoming a professional poker player. It's my only hobby that if I'm good enough could pay the bills. Like the saying goes "you can't truly know success without failure." Well, I've failed a lot. Hopefully thats a catalyst for my success. Shuffle up and deal.
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Less Than a Month Until the Nats!

Here's the latest BTUSA news:

Magnificent Specimens
Saturday was the opening of "Magnificent Specimens," Dave Mead's exhibit of photos from the WBMC last year in Alaska.  The exhibit is at the Chelsea Market in New York City.  It will run there through June.  There was a strong BTUSA presence at the opening, including a film crew from LA.   Details on the exhibit here: http://davemead.com/ magnificent/  Check it out if you can!

Springfield Beard and Moustache Contest
Memorial Day Weekend will see the final, final warm-up event for the Nationals -- the Springfield Beard and Moustache Contest.  It's at the Patton Alley Pub on Saturday night, May 29.  Organizer Christy Claybaker has promised a great time for anyone with or without a beard.  Brighton- and Anchorage-vet Devin Cara and Christy's husband Clay, both of whom will be competing in Bend, will serve as judges.  Proceeds go to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.  See http://www.facebook.com/#!/ event.php?eid=115300261835815& ref=mf Which Springfield?  Not the Simpsons' one.  This one is in Missouri, Missouruh to some.

Burke Kenny to Judge
And now, announcing another celebrity judge!  FBSM former world champ (many say he should be the current world champ) Burke Kenny will be on the judges' panel in Bend.  "Beards should judge beards," says Burke.  Also it looks like Burke's band, As the Devil Dances, will have their gig in Bend on Friday night, not Thursday as previously planned.  This will be at the big welcoming party at the Old Stone Church to which everyone is of course invited.

Judge Applicants
We have several applications for others who want to judge.  Go to beardteamusa.org, check them out, and let your opinions be known!
If you'd like to print out some of the posters for yourself, the full resolution images are available http://beardteamusa.org/nationals/posters-and-logos.

Finally, a reminder:  If you want a super-cool Beard Team USA name tag to show off in Bend, you need to Paypal me $5 by this Saturday, May 15 at the latest.  Let me know how you want your name and hometown to read 
Twitter and Facebook
Beard Team USA now has a much more active presence on both Facebook and Twitter.  Be sure to become a fan/follower to keep up on last minute preparations for Bend.  Also be sure to keep the rest of us posted on your own plans.  Twitter.com/beardteamusa and facebook.com/beardteamusa.

See you soon,

Phil Olsen
Founder and self-appointed Captain
Beard Team USA


I'll be in NYC in June visiting my sister and bro-in-law. We're going to see the "Magnificent Specimens" exhibit. With Burke Kenny judging and Jack Passion MCing, two championship beards are not competing in the Nats, opening the floor for some new blood to be crowned champion.  -Shock

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