Whoa, that’s weird. I wonder who all those security guards are after?”, I thought to myself.
Imagine my surprise when I learned they had come for me.
What a weird time in my life. I was great friends with a billionaire, was living in a Hollywood apartment with the Mistress, and am pretty confident I was in direct contact with organized crime on a weekly basis.
It all started when I became friends with Max (the billionaire). He was (RIP) a legendary VIP whale at the Commerce who had been playing for decades that pretty much everyone was happy to see show up. And it wasn’t always even about the money he would inevitably dust off.
Max had an unparalleled charisma that just made folks want to be near him. He was a tiny, hilarious, affable, Tunisian fashion designer. For some reason he and I just hit it off.
After four or five times of playing together and joking around, Max, out of the blue asked me if I’d like to fly with him on his private jet to Vegas for the weekend to watch the Billboard Music Awards.
After that trip, Max and I were officially friends. And, just like all friends ask of one another at some point in the friendship, Max asked me if I would move in with the Mistress so that she wouldn’t be lonely when he wasn’t around.
Here’s the deal: You know the feeling you have in poker when you have a great hand but you have a really horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach when your opponent jams the river? This was how I felt in my gut.
But because a lot of times in my life I have ignored my instincts and played the role of the fish, I said, “Yeah, why not?”
It’s really hard to pass up free rent.
So I move from my spacious arrangement at the Crown Plaza Hotel in the Commerce Casino to a 2 bedroom apartment in Hollywood with the mistress.
Pretty much immediately, the hours I had been spending playing poker went down. You may think Hollywood is close to Commerce, but I have experienced nothing in the world as tilting as LA traffic.
And then there were the home games the Mistress was regularly putting together.
I cannot state clearly enough to you how stupid it was to play in home games when there were legalized cardrooms very close by. I would like to tell you I was young and stupid but I absolutely knew better. Again, in life, I have been known to play the role of the fish.
You see the thing about the Mistress is she lived by a golden rule: Absolutely never give two fucks about anything, ever.
It probably stems from always getting whatever she wanted.
Where would you think the best place to recruit players for home games would be? Maybe a place where cardplayers go every single day? Yes, she was breaking the one rule at Commerce everyone knew you never break: Don’t poach their players.
But she felt like she was bulletproof because of her association with Max, the legendary Commerce VIP. She brazenly recruited players, Ironically promising them they could play more often against Max, right at the table. She overplayed her hand in a massive way.
Apparently, the owner of the Commerce, David, became very well aware of what the Mistress was doing and brought her into his office to have a little chat:
“Stop doing what you’re doing, give me the name of everyone who’s helping you out, and I will not ban you.”
You can probably discern what happened next:
5 security guards escort your faithful Coach to the guard shack and the Mistresses roommate was informed he’d been banned for life.
They waited one whole day before banning her, too.
As you might guess there’s a lot more to this story and maybe someday I’ll follow it up with a part 2.
I will follow up on a couple of points, though:
Was I actually guilty of recruiting players? Well, yes and no.
I “recruited” one player, one time in the dumbest way possible.
Someone brought up the topic of home games at the table, and a guy I was becoming good friends with (He’s actually the only person from those days I still talk to on the phone regularly) bemoaned the fact that he had never been invited to play in one.
So I said, “Hey man, if you’d like to come to one I can get ya in.”
I actually thought for the longest time this was the reason I had been banned.
Guilty, your honor.
Did the ban ever get lifted?
My ban got lifted after 7 months in a way that, as Marie Kondo might say, “Sparks joy”.
It could very well be my answer to the CPG podcast question, “When you think of joy in your poker career, what’s the first memory that comes to mind?”
All of my friends who were regulars in the games went to bat for me with management. They had zero incentive to help me get back in but did it anyway because that’s what friends do.
It’s a gesture I will never, ever forget.
Eventually a player by the name of Muhammed had some juice with Commerce ownership and talked them into lifting the ban. It was a guy with nothing to gain who I barely knew. We had had only a handful of interactions at the table.
To this day that still blows me away.
When I hear folks talk about Commerce players being the “lowest of the low,” I will always think of the kindness they showed me and defend them to the death.
(I found out about the back half of the story after the ban had been lifted and I got to speak with the owner who told me what really went down)
So, to wrap up…
My god damn affable nature got me into a bad spot and then ended saving me, too.
If you’d like some courses from a billionaire befriending, Mistress babysitting, once-banned Outlaw of Commerce Casino, just click here.