Over 4 Years and THIS is What I Post?!?!

I can’t tell you how many times over the past 4+ years I have started typing out an update for this site, only to get pulled away by other responsibilities, then never post. Besides the obvious demand on my time from those responsibilities, I think the true reason (excuse) I didn’t post, or at least the most pertinent one, is that I always felt the need to express my thoughts exactly through the typed-out word. I would often go back and read what I had written to get back in the flow of my thoughts, then get derailed by tweaking, and ultimately give up.

I am not going to do that any longer. This is not a commitment to post more often, though I hope I do, more just a commitment to let the words flow, and then let them be what they are. If it’s not exactly what I thought or felt, so be it. I am not the most eloquent of speakers, I’m not clever, and I may not even have things to say that people might find interesting.

I started this site really as a way to connect with people in the poker community. I wanted to use the site to communicate in a way that limited character social media just isn’t ideal for. If I was able to entertain along the way, great! The focus was supposed to be sharing my thoughts on the game of poker, welcoming others’ perspective, and having a healthy dialogue.

So, let’s start a new dialogue together. I will start by talking about the many poker related projects I have in the works right now. 

  • Playing the game

After taking the bulk of the previous 4 years off from playing a consistent poker schedule, I really started playing quite a bit again in October, 2017. Even with a commitment to playing, I am somewhat limited in the number of tournaments I can play as I do not play when my oldest son is with me. Being back on the felt again fairly consistently felt great! While I also had an amazing amount of tournament success in the past 14 months, it just felt good to be competing at the game I love again. 

I hope to continue playing a fairly consistent schedule for the foreseeable future. I probably (my wife says absolutely) will not travel nearly as much as I did last year. While I enjoyed some decent success on the road last year, it took too big of a toll on my family, and myself. My wife has a fairly high stress factor job, and it was unfair of me to expect her to take care of our younger son on her own while I was away so consistently. Part of the reason I play the game is the freedom it affords me to spend time with my family. For quite a lot of time last year, I lost perspective of that value, and I want it back. I do enjoy traveling for poker, even more so when my family comes with, so I still will incorporate it into my schedule, just not to the degree I did last year. This isn’t because of a lack of support from my wife, quite the contrary. It was really her that encouraged me to start playing more again. I just know that for myself, and in fairness to her, I need to be home more. Also, there will be more travel commitments moving forward with iNinja (more on that later) so I won’t even really have as much opportunity to travel and play. At least for now, I do have a few trips planned for the year. 

My first trip will be to Florida in February. I will be heading to Seminole Coconut Creek to play in a few of the smaller WSOPC events. I really like having this trip on the schedule because my wife loves FL and will be joining me. Also, even though the rake is pretty high in the WSOPC events, there is still a lot of value in the lower buy-in events. And, in all honesty, I want a WSOPC ring. I haven’t played a ton of WSOPC events over the years, I believe I only played in 2 total events prior to last year. On a whim, I decided to go to the WSOPC event in Council Bluffs in April. I played 2 events, and final tabled 1. Getting to that final table, and playing with some really strong players, really left me with a burning desire to chase the ring. It was because of that desire that I then booked a trip to Las Vegas for the Planet Hollywood event in November. I only played 1 WSOPC event, and again made the final table. Upon returning home, I then booked a trip to Cherokee for one more WSOPC series to close out my year. I didn’t fare as well, cashed 1 out of 3 events played, but the desire to chase the ring is still with me. While I get that it took 7 months for me to travel to a WSOPC event after Council, so it doesn’t seem like the desire was of the burning nature, the delay between events was more a function of other events I had scheduled, and a different poker chase.

I had a dismal summer at the WSOP this year. I made 2 trips out, played over a dozen events, and fired even more bullets, all for a slightly better than min cash in one event, and a little money made in a bounty event. I was crushed. I was scheduled to play the ME, but really didn’t feel like I was mentally in a place to properly play. So, I came home and played the Anniversary event at Running Aces. I finished 2nd, and instantly felt better about my game again (funny). Two weeks later, I decided to go play the MSPT event at Meskwaki. Meskwaki has been a casino of perpetual let downs for me. It is the casino where I have bubbled the most $1k buy-in events, and it is also the casino where I have suffered some of my most embarrassing exits. I played twice on Friday, didn’t bag either time, played some of my worst poker ever (literally horrendous, which is saying something given how bad I normally play), and drove back to my hotel room fully prepared to drive home the next morning instead of playing again on Saturday. 

In the morning, I awoke with a strange feeling of resolve. I wasn’t going to drive back home with my tail between my legs quite yet. I was determined to change my Meskwaki narrative. I was tired of driving down there and letting it get the best of me. I am not saying that I internally predicted my win, but I felt that I was going to be able to play close to some of my best poker that day, and if I lost, so be it. I can live with playing well and losing, that’s part of the game. I was not ok with driving home feeling like I just wasted time and money to perform horribly. It all worked out, I bagged Saturday, then grinded pretty much all day on Sunday, and got super lucky for my tournament life shortly after getting into the money, made my first MSPT final table in over 4 years, and locked up my 1stever MSPT win!

What a great feeling! My best finish prior to that in an MSPT event was a 2ndplace finish over 5 years prior. My wife in the subsequent years even spoke the winners’ name as a swear word. The year after that finish, I final tabled the same event, and busted on the 2ndhand, even though I came in 4thor 5thin chips. Meskwaki was my 3rdchance at an MSPT title, and being able to close it out is a feeling of satisfaction, pride, and relief that I won’t soon forget. I was able to exorcise a lot of demons that day. Finally closing out an MSPT event, finally not letting Meskwaki get the best of me, and saving my summer after a disastrous WSOP will be an achievement that I will always carry with me.

This brings me back to why I had such a long layover between WSOPC events. After capturing the MSPT title, it was suddenly a possibility that I could get myself into the running for the MSPT Player of the Year. I had never considered that possibility before, and Aaron Johnson had such a huge lead, that I didn’t realistically think I could get there, but I thought I would give it my best shot, even though I couldn’t play a ton of events given my family schedule. Instead of playing smaller buy-in WSOPC events, I traveled to as many $1k MSPT events as I could. I bubbled the money in Grand Falls, fell short at Meskwaki (again), but did final table in Niagara Falls. I didn’t finish the year anywhere close in the POY chase, but I have inched closer to a bid for the MSPT Hall of Fame. I am self-aware enough to know that my game is not good enough to ever be considered for the Poker Hall of Fame, or even the MN Poker Hall of Fame, but there is a possibility I can get in the MSPT HoF. It is still a long shot, but given the parameters for entrance, it IS doable. It won’t happen anytime soon for me. With my personal schedule, as well as iNinja commitments and other responsibilities, and the MSPT schedule for 2019, actively trying to achieve that honor will have to wait. The first event in 2019 that I could conceivably make would be Meskwaki in March, but it is right after the iNinja event in Reno (have I mentioned that iNinja will be having a multi event series at Atlantis in Reno March 7-17?), I probably will have to skip it. 

I’ll talk in the future about other plans I have for the year, but I have already typed way more than I thought I would, and have probably bored you to death (is anyone even still reading?). So, I will close out this section with some over-arching poker goals moving forward. Not goals for 2019, though I could achieve some this year, more just milestones that will be in the back of my mind as I look ahead at events to play:

  • Complete the Running Aces Signature Slam.This is something I have named myself, not something Running Aces has come up with. They have 5 events every year that they have dubbed their Signature Series. These are: Pot O’ Gold, Mayhem in May, Anniversary, Hallow-Scream, and Cold Hard Cash. I have captured 2 of these titles, and think it would be kind of cool to be able to get all 5. Plus, Running Aces is my poker home. It would really mean a lot to me to be able to say that I have won each of their signature events. 
  • Capture a Fall Poker Classic title.I don’t care which event, I just want one. For many years, this series has been widely regarded as THE premier event in the Midwest. I haven’t always had a ton of availability during the series, and have only played a handful of events over the years, but would really like to add that feather to my cap. Plus, like so many other close calls, I finally made a final table of one smaller event last year, so now I REALLY want to close one out.
  • Win a WSOPC ring.It’s funny, prior to final tabling the event in April, I hadn’t really given much thought to these events. There aren’t any held in MN, so playing them always requires travel. However; now that I have gotten to 9th and 8th, again I REALLY want to close one out. Plus, I’ll probably never win a WSOP gold bracelet, so a WSOPC ring may be the only type of WSOP title I can realistically achieve.
  • Win a WSOP gold bracelet.Wait, didn’t I just say that I would probably never win one of these? Me not winning one is definitely a strong bet. Much like most of my other poker goals though, I have gotten close. Finishing 17th in the Casino Employee event in 2016 really made me feel like this goal was much more achievable. I have no delusions that I will ever win the Main Event, or a super prestigious bracelet like the $10k HORSE event, but I do think that I have just as good a shot of winning a smaller event as most others. And if I do ever get close, I will definitely have on my mind that I won’t let 16 people get in my way again 🙂
  • Get into the MSPT Hall of Fame.As mentioned before, I have no delusions about my poker ability level, or feel like I will ever deserve to be considered for any of the different poker HoFs. However; I give credit to the MSPT. I’m sure, like most HoFs, they created there’s as a type of marketing tool. But, like the others, there is still a level of prestige that goes along with achieving such an honor. So far, there are only 3 members of the MSPT HoF: Kou Vang, Richard Alsup, and Aaron Johnson. All 3 of these players are legends of the game, and they will shortly be joined by some other familiar poker giants such as Blake Bohn and Rob Wazwaz. I understand that I am not anywhere close to the level of these players, but the beauty of the MSPT HoF is that I can still be in that club, if I push myself and have success. The idea that I could potentially be in that club is definitely a motivator for me.

Seems like a somewhat ridiculous poker goal list, and one that seems to be nearly impossible to achieve. Again, I do not expect to achieve all of them, I may not even achieve a single one of them, but they ARE possible, and it’s good to have goals…

  • RecPoker

Steve Fredlund is one of the most genuinely enthusiastic people I have ever met when it comes to poker. Before he launched the RecPoker Podcast, and subsequently now, recpokertraining.com, I remember starting to see Steve at tournaments at Running Aces. He made an impression upon me by being consistently positive, and showing a desire to really improve his game, and the game of others. When he first launched the podcast, I told him that I would help him in any way that I could. The idea that he was brining recreational players closer to the game, and building an even stronger MN poker community (there has always been a very strong community that I have been proud to be a part of). I remember some of my early discussions with Steve about what he hoped the podcast would become, and he was very open to letting it sort of organically grow. Well, fast forward a couple years and the podcast is still around, but now he has launched a new website, and is bringing learnings of more experienced players to the recreational players. While doing this, he has also solidified the ideas of there being a strong community of people that invest in each other’s success. I cannot express enough how proud I am of the work he is doing, and the very small part I have played in it to this point.

Moving forward, I have joined one of his growing community chat groups. I have also made myself available to him for some of his play and learn training sessions. Really, I have just made it known to him that I will help him out with anything and everything he has going on, if he wants me. I have had some good conversations with him, and I look forward to helping him in the future. In the meantime, please check out his site: recpokertraining.com.

  • iNinja Poker Tour

In 2017, I partnered with my friends Chris “Fox” Wallace, and Jordan Handrich, to launch a new poker tour company: Next Level Poker. For several years, I have been having conversations with people about bringing another tour to the poker world. Some may say that the market is saturated, but I feel like there is still plenty of appetite for more events, especially if done the right way. I wanted to bring a tour that really listened to players’ desires, brought innovative events, and brought this great game to even more people.

Late 2017 we held our first series of events at Diamond Jo Casino in Iowa. We had some success, and also some challenges, and we learned a ton. As we were assessing how we would adapt and move forward, an opportunity to acquire the iNinja brand came up.

iNinja was started by a very creative guy, Issac Tucker. Issac came out of almost nowhere with some really great ideas, great marketing, and in very short order, grew a couple fledgling poker leagues into a tour that saw over 1000 entries in one of the final events. Issac had some really great ideas, but he also had some issues. Most everyone is aware of what befell Issac and the iNinja Poker Tour, and I am not going to rehash it here. I will say that it was a sad day in the poker world when iNinja was forced to close operations, so when the possibility of Resurrecting (see what I did there?) the brand came about, I was genuinely excited. There was something about iNinja that connected with people, including myself, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring it back.

Chris, Jordan, and myself have worked really hard to Resurrect (I did it again) iNinja. As before, we want to bring innovative events at a reasonable price to the masses. We had our first event under the iNinja name once again at Diamond Jo Casino in December, 2018. This tournament is called the iNinja Resurrection Event. It is the first MTT of its kind where you have an option to buy a special Resurrection Chip when you enter, and can redeem it when you bust, for a fresh 20 big blind stack at the level in which you were eliminated. The event was a big success at Diamond Jo, and we will be holding more events there. The Resurrection Event format will also be featured at every tour stop, including our next series of events to be held at Atlantis in Reno, NV March 7-17, 2019.

This series will include 2 Resurrection events, another new event called Assassin Squad, which combines the best of the bounty tournament and team battle tournament formats, a mini-main event for $280 with a $40k guaranteed prize pool, and a Main Event featuring a $500 entry and a $100k prize pool! More details will be released VERY soon, so make sure to check out ininjapoker.com frequently.

We are hard at work securing future events. If you have a venue that you think would be interested in bringing in a fun and different poker series, feel free to contact me.

What’s with the logo? Well, I’m going to save details on that for the future. For now, here are some clues/thoughts as to how the above logo came about:

  • Embracing my luckbox persona. One of the several updates I had planned on writing for this site was talking about embracing my lack of skill, my reliance on luck, and how I have been able to parlay that into a little bit of poker success. That initial embrace was the catalyst of what is to come…
  • #LTO. Luck Theory Optimized
  • Sharing is caring
  • Some help from Morpheus of The Matrix: Most people are not ready to become unplugged. And many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it. Others: Not everyone believes what you believe. Morpheus: My beliefs do not require them to.

So that’s it, my first update in several years. As promised somewhere near the start, I am not going to go back over this post with a fine-toothed comb and make it as close to perfect as I can make it. As it is, I have read through all of it (exhausting) and know that if I were to start tinkering with it, this update would become like the many before it, just filling up space on my laptop never to be shared with the world. I hope you enjoyed it enough to come back when I have something more, but until then, I hope to see you at the tables!