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Old 02-18-2018, 01:16 PM   #1101
sublime_fan24
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Re: The story of "The Home Game" - TL;DR

Happy to hear you are trying to transition off the medication; I can imagine its physically daunting, but you can, and will, do it!
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Old 02-22-2018, 07:26 AM   #1102
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Re: The story of "The Home Game" - TL;DR

Oh man, I read quite a load of this thread back in 2017. Decided to just start over from the beginning and that description of Donnie in the second post just gave me the biggest smile in a week. Oh man this is gonna be GOOD!
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Old 03-02-2018, 01:52 AM   #1103
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Re: The story of "The Home Game" - TL;DR

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Originally Posted by halides View Post
Oh man, I read quite a load of this thread back in 2017. Decided to just start over from the beginning and that description of Donnie in the second post just gave me the biggest smile in a week. Oh man this is gonna be GOOD!
lol....Same here.
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Old 03-02-2018, 10:28 PM   #1104
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Re: The story of "The Home Game" - TL;DR

TST: While not quite the fanboy of some of the people posting here, I've enjoyed this thread, especially as for the last 15 years I've lived in Hallandale/Hollywood area of SE Florida and am familiar w/ many of the areas you describe. I wonder if you ever had a short guy named "Crazy Steve" or "Satchel Steve" (I know his last name but don't want to use it on a public forum...he was short & a little heavy, wore a Louis Vuitton man-bag, was funny as hell, gave crazy action and usually donked off large amounts of money) play in any of your home games?

Previously someone asked why a poker player--if they had the option--would choose to play in a raked home-game versus a legit casino / card room. Although there are benefits to both, in my experience home-games are often a lot more fun, but too often they @#$^ you over when it comes to the rake. I've played in quite a few home-games, and more often than not the person(s) running it are shady as hell and will rake as much as they can get away with. At first glance running a raked home-game would seem to be a huge money-maker, but I'm wondering at the end of the day if that's true, or--if like many businesses--once you run the numbers you find out that it isn't as easy or as profitable as it might at first appear?

It is as profitable as it appears to me, why the hell do most people screw over their customers by increasing the rake by whatever they can get away with--pure stupidity and greed? It would seem to me a well-run home game w/ one or two tables full tables even once a week would be a major money-maker, why the need to skim? The saying "Pigs get fat but hogs get slaughtered" comes to mind.... If you have the time and/or interests, personally I'd like to read a post where you breakdown the average costs and profits of a full, one table home game that runs from say 8PM to 3AM.

Btw, many pages back you were considering moving and mentioned the poker room in the Villages area of Florida; for future reference you should def. take this area permanently off your "possible list of places to move to". For family reasons I recently relocated here, and the poker room near the Villages has got to be the single worst room in all of Florida. Not only is the Villages truly "Heaven's waiting room" and the poker room full of old tight nits, if I remember correctly they take $2 for the bad beat jackpot, which added to the rake & dealer tip, makes 1/2 virtually unbeatable. That doesn't matter to me personally as I usually play 2/5, but it still irks me. And shockingly, they charge for everything, including soft drinks and water! What poker room charges for bottled water?!?!?!? I pretty much refuse to play there on principle--screw them!
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Old 03-08-2018, 09:39 PM   #1105
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Re: The story of "The Home Game" - TL;DR

Wow, what a story man! I'm finally caught up.
I'm a classic snow bird from Maine was heading to Tampa with my wife and kids a couple weeks ago. I searched 2+2 looking for poker in the area and came across this thread.
It was so much fun driving from St Pete to Hard Rock to play, riding over Skyway and passed the Derby and all the other places mentioned in your story.
Thank you so much for taking the time to entertain us all!
Do you have a PO Box or Venmo or equivalent so I can buy you a gift card to Waffle House or something?
Also, I think you should start a Go Fund me to get this story edited and published. I agree with the sentiment here that HBO would buy the **** out of this screen play.
Good luck with the writing. I will hit you up next winter when I'm back in Florida and buy us in to a 2/5 at HR.
Let me know if you ever head to New England!
In the mean time, stay safe and MMMoar!!!
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Old 03-10-2018, 08:29 PM   #1106
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Re: The story of "The Home Game" - TL;DR

Points South, Part Dos

While riding in the Mercedes going over MacArthur Causeway, I realized we were going to be in some traffic for a while, Saturday Night at the beach was a solid 20 minute wait to get from downtown to Collins Blvd. I got onto my phone trying to figure out where April was, no texts or calls, just Chop wondering when she was coming back. I was more focused on this meeting and was actually a little bit nervous. Sitting in the car, I noticed it wasn't a normal S550 - it was longer, but it wasn't a limo. The seats in the back were bolstered and there was a fixed arm rest so it was in reality a four seater. I never asked if it were bulletproof, but everything seemed highly reinforced and I can only assume that the vehicle was very far from stock as far as the exterior goes.

My nerves were uneasy because I had done quite a bit of business with both the "Boss" and his employee, my friend from New Zealand. I had, however, not met either one of them, I had only talked to my Kiwi friend and never the Boss. I had sent packages to the Boss's physical address, it was the longest name I have ever written on a package in my life. It was a rather easy transaction though because he did not have to have packages examined by the government in his country due to his status or require any documentation. Someone who has that much immunity to normal laws made me a little nervous. I was fairly certain that my friend was gay, he seemed to post quite a bit of "suspect" material on Facebook, but I couldn't be sure because there were no pictures of him with guys, etc. which I attributed to the fact he worked in a country where being gay may get you killed. He told me he could only drink at the US Embassy but that the Boss was "lenient" with his religious practices and they often had drinks at his residence. I was surprised he took on the job that he did due to his possible sexual orientation.

We somehow weaved through the traffic pretty fast and got up to Middle Beach area within 10 minutes or so. Miami Beach is unique in that most beach towns wind down after dinner, where this is the time that South Beach really starts to wake up. LIV and the Fountainbleau hotel are up a ways around 42nd Street where South Beach really is 20th Street and south, so you don't get a lot of the noise and the tourists walking the street as you do a couple miles south. This separates your average South Beach tourist from the upscale oceanfront experience that is the Fountainbleau and LIV. I didn't know if my head could handle any more music tonight, and looked up on my phone that realized there wasn't a show until later in the night. We pulled into one of the cul-de-sacs for parking, and the driver let me out but quickly ushered me away from the buildings and back out towards the road.

"This way, this way sir." I got the feeling he was well paid but was fearful that I would somehow drift away. I followed him to the road and we crossed it, and I realized we weren't going to be in the club or the hotel for that matter, but were meeting at the dock across the street which housed massive boats - boats that made the guys in Boca Grande look like child's play and probably started around 10 million. We walked over to one boat in particular, it appeared to be about 90 feet long and was completely blacked out, but everyone seemed to be up on a deck wandering back and forth. As I walked towards the catwalk onto what appeared to be the second floor, I saw Cory, my New Zealand friend, and he greeted me with a classic "How's it going mate?" which relaxed me, as I was getting nervous. I felt like this would have been the type of boat and location where a lot of coke deals went down in the 80s, where Don Aronow would have met up to show the DEA and drug cartel members his newest Cigarette boat. I honestly felt like I was walking into a huge drug deal and it made my anxiety skyrocket.

"It's nice to finally meet my friend," I said with a big smile on my face, trying to chop up the anxiety with some talk to get my mind away from it all.

"If only we lived closer mate....come on in. You are going to get patted down, I hope you understand." I realized that someone of this caliber must have security measures in place considering his home country and his political status.

Now I have been in a lot of beachfront houses in the Hamptons, Miami, Naples, and other affluent areas, but this boat's custom interior was genuinely one of a kind. There was gold, silver, and diamonds on everything. The mantels, the tables, the mirrors, and the floors were of a wood that I did not recognize, but it was heavy, shiny, and presumably expensive. Bowls of crystal held dates, almonds, and other Middle Eastern delicacies, and the seating areas were all leather and alcantera. I was ushered in and finally was in the presence of "The Boss". I was not sure what to call him, so I googled what the proper title was and showed traditional respect to His Excellency.

"It is very nice to meet you Liam," he said in an Arab-British accent, and he was not dressed as I expected. He had on a very nice button down business shirt, dress pants, and leather loafers - not typical Middle Eastern garb. He offered me a drink, and normally I would say no but I feared insulting him so I took a Johnnie Walker Black on the rocks. We were not outside, but in a room that was next to a galley that led outside to another group of people walking around, but they were not talking. I noticed one of them was armed, then I realized they were all armed security guards - my curiosity was piqued but I didn't want to start asking questions about guns as a first impression. His Excellency did not waste any time in his getting to the point.

So Liam, tell me about this palm, where does it grow? He had asked about a certain species of very rare palms that grow outside a small town in Cuba. These were some of the most sought after plants in the world and also some of the most expensive. I told him what I knew about the palm, where it grows, and it appeared he wanted to collect some seed.

"Well why don't you collect seed from the palms here in the US?" I asked, curious about his intent.

"Liam, my garden is 100% wild collected material. If I collect from another garden, then the garden has no purpose." I started to nod my head in approval and respect for his pure intentions.

"Have you ever been to this place?" He had asked this since my knowledge of the area was very descriptive, and though I knew exactly where they were, I had not. Only two Americans at the time had been to the area, and one was too old to go back, the other was spooked by someone following him 5 hours from Havana that spoke perfect English and asked him questions about his family. I let him know that although I had this information, I was not a guide and could make no promises. He paused for a while to talk to someone from outside in Arabic.

"Would you like to come with us? I need someone who can spot the perfect, pure specimens. I cannot have hybrids or runts in my collection. I really need this palm to complete my collection and will not accept anything other than what has been collected in the wild." I could hear my ears ringing, sort of in shock, knowing I had to give an answer quickly to a man of this stature.

"Yes, I'd love to come." I had no idea how I felt about it. Cuba was unknown territory for Americans still, and I had my passport, but was unaware of what Visas were needed. He assured me this was not a problem, that any points of entry were taken care of. I was suddenly nervous, I felt like I needed to perform for him and the thought of failure was a little unnerving.

"Meet us at Kendall Executive tomorrow evening, 630pm." He gave me very specific instructions and not to discuss this with anyone. I wasn't going to fly to Cuba solo and not tell anyone, but I certainly wasn't going to tell Chop, who will lose his mind and tell me about the legal implications and probably call me a communist. I trusted Cory as well, he was a Westerner and he wouldn't lead me into a shady situation. Then again, this was our first time meeting. My thoughts started to speed up which created this cycle of anxiety that words cannot explain. Only one person would know, and I called Ken to let him know I had to stay over tonight as he lived closer to the airport and I felt better telling him what was going on. He would understand as a palm guy why I was doing this and I didn't have to deal with April anymore. April was just a memory, I had forgotten about her at this point, and as I was driven back to Chop's house I got my stuff, got onto US1 and headed south towards Redland. I felt this glowing feeling knowing that this man trusted me to take him to find a specific, very rare palm, and pick a pure one out of the cultivated ones or the hybrids. It is times like these when you work for yourself that you can tell yourself the reward is worth the risk, and you can feel that you are successful in your line of work. In the meantime, Xanax was going to have to take care of the anxiety as Ken had stopped drinking years ago. Should I tell my family, other friends? The thoughts would not stop racing as I pulled off US1 and onto SW 216th Avenue into farm country, heading West into the Everglades.
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Old 03-10-2018, 09:00 PM   #1107
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Re: The story of "The Home Game" - TL;DR

Quote:
Originally Posted by Truestoryteller View Post
Points South, Part Dos



While riding in the Mercedes going over MacArthur Causeway, I realized we were going to be in some traffic for a while, Saturday Night at the beach was a solid 20 minute wait to get from downtown to Collins Blvd. I got onto my phone trying to figure out where April was, no texts or calls, just Chop wondering when she was coming back. I was more focused on this meeting and was actually a little bit nervous. Sitting in the car, I noticed it wasn't a normal S550 - it was longer, but it wasn't a limo. The seats in the back were bolstered and there was a fixed arm rest so it was in reality a four seater. I never asked if it were bulletproof, but everything seemed highly reinforced and I can only assume that the vehicle was very far from stock as far as the exterior goes.



My nerves were uneasy because I had done quite a bit of business with both the "Boss" and his employee, my friend from New Zealand. I had, however, not met either one of them, I had only talked to my Kiwi friend and never the Boss. I had sent packages to the Boss's physical address, it was the longest name I have ever written on a package in my life. It was a rather easy transaction though because he did not have to have packages examined by the government in his country due to his status or require any documentation. Someone who has that much immunity to normal laws made me a little nervous. I was fairly certain that my friend was gay, he seemed to post quite a bit of "suspect" material on Facebook, but I couldn't be sure because there were no pictures of him with guys, etc. which I attributed to the fact he worked in a country where being gay may get you killed. He told me he could only drink at the US Embassy but that the Boss was "lenient" with his religious practices and they often had drinks at his residence. I was surprised he took on the job that he did due to his possible sexual orientation.



We somehow weaved through the traffic pretty fast and got up to Middle Beach area within 10 minutes or so. Miami Beach is unique in that most beach towns wind down after dinner, where this is the time that South Beach really starts to wake up. LIV and the Fountainbleau hotel are up a ways around 42nd Street where South Beach really is 20th Street and south, so you don't get a lot of the noise and the tourists walking the street as you do a couple miles south. This separates your average South Beach tourist from the upscale oceanfront experience that is the Fountainbleau and LIV. I didn't know if my head could handle any more music tonight, and looked up on my phone that realized there wasn't a show until later in the night. We pulled into one of the cul-de-sacs for parking, and the driver let me out but quickly ushered me away from the buildings and back out towards the road.



"This way, this way sir." I got the feeling he was well paid but was fearful that I would somehow drift away. I followed him to the road and we crossed it, and I realized we weren't going to be in the club or the hotel for that matter, but were meeting at the dock across the street which housed massive boats - boats that made the guys in Boca Grande look like child's play and probably started around 10 million. We walked over to one boat in particular, it appeared to be about 90 feet long and was completely blacked out, but everyone seemed to be up on a deck wandering back and forth. As I walked towards the catwalk onto what appeared to be the second floor, I saw Cory, my New Zealand friend, and he greeted me with a classic "How's it going mate?" which relaxed me, as I was getting nervous. I felt like this would have been the type of boat and location where a lot of coke deals went down in the 80s, where Don Aronow would have met up to show the DEA and drug cartel members his newest Cigarette boat. I honestly felt like I was walking into a huge drug deal and it made my anxiety skyrocket.



"It's nice to finally meet my friend," I said with a big smile on my face, trying to chop up the anxiety with some talk to get my mind away from it all.



"If only we lived closer mate....come on in. You are going to get patted down, I hope you understand." I realized that someone of this caliber must have security measures in place considering his home country and his political status.



Now I have been in a lot of beachfront houses in the Hamptons, Miami, Naples, and other affluent areas, but this boat's custom interior was genuinely one of a kind. There was gold, silver, and diamonds on everything. The mantels, the tables, the mirrors, and the floors were of a wood that I did not recognize, but it was heavy, shiny, and presumably expensive. Bowls of crystal held dates, almonds, and other Middle Eastern delicacies, and the seating areas were all leather and alcantera. I was ushered in and finally was in the presence of "The Boss". I was not sure what to call him, so I googled what the proper title was and showed traditional respect to His Excellency.



"It is very nice to meet you Liam," he said in an Arab-British accent, and he was not dressed as I expected. He had on a very nice button down business shirt, dress pants, and leather loafers - not typical Middle Eastern garb. He offered me a drink, and normally I would say no but I feared insulting him so I took a Johnnie Walker Black on the rocks. We were not outside, but in a room that was next to a galley that led outside to another group of people walking around, but they were not talking. I noticed one of them was armed, then I realized they were all armed security guards - my curiosity was piqued but I didn't want to start asking questions about guns as a first impression. His Excellency did not waste any time in his getting to the point.



So Liam, tell me about this palm, where does it grow? He had asked about a certain species of very rare palms that grow outside a small town in Cuba. These were some of the most sought after plants in the world and also some of the most expensive. I told him what I knew about the palm, where it grows, and it appeared he wanted to collect some seed.



"Well why don't you collect seed from the palms here in the US?" I asked, curious about his intent.



"Liam, my garden is 100% wild collected material. If I collect from another garden, then the garden has no purpose." I started to nod my head in approval and respect for his pure intentions.



"Have you ever been to this place?" He had asked this since my knowledge of the area was very descriptive, and though I knew exactly where they were, I had not. Only two Americans at the time had been to the area, and one was too old to go back, the other was spooked by someone following him 5 hours from Havana that spoke perfect English and asked him questions about his family. I let him know that although I had this information, I was not a guide and could make no promises. He paused for a while to talk to someone from outside in Arabic.



"Would you like to come with us? I need someone who can spot the perfect, pure specimens. I cannot have hybrids or runts in my collection. I really need this palm to complete my collection and will not accept anything other than what has been collected in the wild." I could hear my ears ringing, sort of in shock, knowing I had to give an answer quickly to a man of this stature.



"Yes, I'd love to come." I had no idea how I felt about it. Cuba was unknown territory for Americans still, and I had my passport, but was unaware of what Visas were needed. He assured me this was not a problem, that any points of entry were taken care of. I was suddenly nervous, I felt like I needed to perform for him and the thought of failure was a little unnerving.



"Meet us at Kendall Executive tomorrow evening, 630pm." He gave me very specific instructions and not to discuss this with anyone. I wasn't going to fly to Cuba solo and not tell anyone, but I certainly wasn't going to tell Chop, who will lose his mind and tell me about the legal implications and probably call me a communist. I trusted Cory as well, he was a Westerner and he wouldn't lead me into a shady situation. Then again, this was our first time meeting. My thoughts started to speed up which created this cycle of anxiety that words cannot explain. Only one person would know, and I called Ken to let him know I had to stay over tonight as he lived closer to the airport and I felt better telling him what was going on. He would understand as a palm guy why I was doing this and I didn't have to deal with April anymore. April was just a memory, I had forgotten about her at this point, and as I was driven back to Chop's house I got my stuff, got onto US1 and headed south towards Redland. I felt this glowing feeling knowing that this man trusted me to take him to find a specific, very rare palm, and pick a pure one out of the cultivated ones or the hybrids. It is times like these when you work for yourself that you can tell yourself the reward is worth the risk, and you can feel that you are successful in your line of work. In the meantime, Xanax was going to have to take care of the anxiety as Ken had stopped drinking years ago. Should I tell my family, other friends? The thoughts would not stop racing as I pulled off US1 and onto SW 216th Avenue into farm country, heading West into the Everglades.


Great chapter mate!!!
Can’t wait to read the rest of the story!
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Old 03-12-2018, 11:32 AM   #1108
Chaos_ult
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Re: The story of "The Home Game" - TL;DR

Fantastic update. Edge of my seat per usual.
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Old 03-12-2018, 06:00 PM   #1109
sublime_fan24
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Re: The story of "The Home Game" - TL;DR

Excellent update; very cool! Thanks for another chapter!
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Old 03-12-2018, 10:04 PM   #1110
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Re: The story of "The Home Game" - TL;DR

Christ this is epic
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Old 03-27-2018, 04:45 PM   #1111
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Re: The story of "The Home Game" - TL;DR

Awesome stories man.

I took a trip to Fort Lauderdale and Miami a few months ago -- southern Florida is a special place. There's so much culture down there, and a lot of natural beauty with the clean beaches and water. The cities themselves are nice as well.

I'll actually be moving to the FLL/Hollywood area this summer (May - July) to play poker full time at the Hard Rock. I'm looking for someone to stay with (I'll pay of course). If anyone has an extra room or knows of somebody who is looking for a roommate, let me know. I'm an easy going guy and I cook, clean, and drive.

And keep the updates coming
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Old 03-31-2018, 09:49 AM   #1112
Truestoryteller
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Re: The story of "The Home Game" - TL;DR

So once again I managed to write half a chapter then delete it by accident so I am still working on getting that last bit in. Thanks again for all the comments, lately all my work has been running the software for this private garden I am managing. I also managed to buy Far Cry 5 so I have literally been playing it 12 hours a day and questioning whether or not I have a life at the moment.

SummerPokerPlayer - Your best bet living-wise is staying between the Isle in Pompano Beach (expensive area) and Hialeah Casino (no speaka the English). I would stick to Broward County, and a bit inland - it is cheaper, safer, less traffic. Miramar, Pembroke Pines, Weston, Coral Springs are all nice towns, but if you like the beach then I would stay on the barrier islands. I could probably find you a place south of Miami, but you would have an hour drive to places like SHR Hollywood and 40 minutes to Hialeah. Fort Lauderdale is probably the most central city for poker commuting, but again traffic can be miserable.

I have two weeks of traveling coming up - going to Sarasota, Miami, and Orlando, maybe I can meet up with WarmDeck, he should be back in town. I am staying at a resort near Disney with my mom, sister and her boyfriend, Nicole, and my sister's friends from high school. I could definitely get out of there at night, if anyone wants to go play at Orange City or Hard Rock, send me a PM. This would be April 10-13.
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Old 03-31-2018, 11:47 AM   #1113
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Re: The story of "The Home Game" - TL;DR

You may consider writing in google docs; it's secure, offsite, and autosaves.
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Old 04-01-2018, 01:24 PM   #1114
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Re: The story of "The Home Game" - TL;DR

It's kind of crazy to see all this since I'm sure I know a ton of the actual characters from this thread irl. I already think I know who Mike is irl. Spent tons of time at skc a few years ago. I wonder if I've ever played at the same table as op.
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Old 04-03-2018, 07:38 PM   #1115
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Re: The story of "The Home Game" - TL;DR

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You may consider writing in google docs; it's secure, offsite, and autosaves.
or use Cntr-S every paragraph...
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Old 04-04-2018, 08:56 PM   #1116
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Re: The story of "The Home Game" - TL;DR

Quote:
Originally Posted by m_hood115 View Post
It's kind of crazy to see all this since I'm sure I know a ton of the actual characters from this thread irl. I already think I know who Mike is irl. Spent tons of time at skc a few years ago. I wonder if I've ever played at the same table as op.
Send me a PM, we probably know a lot of the same people if you were a regular at SKC at any time from 2011-2015. Would love you know your experiences there, I personally can't handle the place anymore.

I have now started using Google Docs, no more deleted work.
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Old 04-05-2018, 09:51 AM   #1117
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Re: The story of "The Home Game" - TL;DR

I check every day for updates, can't wait man.
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Old 04-13-2018, 11:40 AM   #1118
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Re: The story of "The Home Game" - TL;DR

Props to TST for writing about freaking plant collecting and somehow making it EVERY BIT as engaging as the pokerlife tales that originally brought us here. I can guar-an-freaking-tee that not nary a one of us gave half a crap about plant collecting before reading this thread, and yet somehow here we are all crackheaded out waiting for your next entry with relish and anticipation. A staggering testament to your writing ability, sir. Kudos!
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Old 04-13-2018, 12:02 PM   #1119
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Re: The story of "The Home Game" - TL;DR

MOOOOOAR..



please
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Old 04-15-2018, 09:49 PM   #1120
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Re: The story of "The Home Game" - TL;DR

Points South - Part Tres

The next 24 hours I did my due diligence. I had two fellow nurserymen that had made the trip to Cuba. The first one, Mike, was too pissed to talk to me because I did not buy plants from him anymore, so I called the other guy who I did buy from Dale, and he gave me exact coordinates of his last collection in 2001. He was 80 years old and his fear of competition was not like Mike - he took these risks the same reason I did, for the passion of the plants. He gave me some old school turn by turn directions but they included stuff like "there is a corn field with a shack, 400 yards after that you take a right next to a black wooden sign." It had been over 10 years since he had gone so my expectations of that sign being there were little to none. It was a little anxiety-inducing when I made the trip up solo to Miami Executive airport on 137th Avenue. If anyone from Miami knows this part of town, there is a four story Lexus dealership that sits adjacent to the airport and is one of the largest dealerships I have ever seen (Fucillo Kia is down the street from me). At night the place lights up like a beacon of luxury, with the nicest cars on the top floor looking out at all the passing traffic. It was my queue to turn in to the airport and park.

Rory told me to call him when I got there and he met me outside with some girl he gave a kiss goodbye to, and we got to talking about the trip. Apparently my thoughts of him playing for the other team was a high level troll, and a good one at that.

"The Boss really likes to enjoy his international travels, you are in for a treat mate." He was pretty giddy considering we were flying into a third world country, but I guess it is the American in me that was more concerned about having no diplomatic support or Visa, I hadn't even checked on what the requirements would be if I were traveling publicly, but was told not to care. We met in some private lounge where His Excellency was sitting with a bottle of mineral water and some fruit, shaking my hand and offering me food and drink. The anxiety was killing my appetite, but I had a few bites and a bottle of water.

"I hope you do not take offense, but we must search your luggage and your person for any dangerous items." One of his stewards had come up to me and picked up my bag and I told them not a problem and I let them wand me down. This was not a normal flight, there was no TSA, customs, they were the ones in charge. I told them I had been given exact coordinates from an old friend and he was elated.

"I cannot wait to see these in habitat, they are so pretty and will go great in my preserve. I must tell you the reason I reached out for your help was through contacting the botanical garden for which you had worked. I made them a very generous offer to purchase their wild collected specimens to which they refused, but gave me your information for finding these plants. Since we already had purchased material from you, I felt it was only fate that brought us together." I thanked him for the offer to come along on the journey, at the same time almost wanted to laugh when he mentioned fate. Of all the extremely wealthy people I had worked for, the biggest ones had always mentioned fate, whether it was in acquiring plants, meeting people, or whatever the case may be. The truth of the matter was it was not fate, it was the fact they had an endless supply of money, and reaching their goals or meeting people was not fate, it was really just a matter of business. I don't think all of these businessmen are that naive, however.

We go to board the plane and it is a "VIP" version of the Boss's home country's national airline. The interior of the jet was as showstopping as his boat, and even though the jet could probably seat 100, it only had a couple dozen luxurious seats. Rory and I sat together with His Excellency and a few guards, people who clearly were hired to give their life to their employer, and more than once I saw a glimpse of their guns - a Sig Sauer P229 at the hip and a couple had mini-uzis with folding stocks under their jackets. This is basically the same way the Secret Service rolls, so I assume they took a hint from some of the best and armed themselves in the same fashion. We were offered drinks and as His Excellency asked for scotch, I did the same and told them to put a little bit of amaretto in it. As we took off, the mix of xanax and scotch had me wanting to ask about their weapons, but I realized that was not the right topic for the moment and did not want to anyone in security on any alert.

What amazed me the most about the trip was how fast we were suddenly landing at Cayo Coco, the city closest to the town we were to visit. It was barely an hour and suddenly we were on this island off the coast of Cuba, untouched by capitalism but stricken with poverty and totalitarian rule for over fifty years. This could have been the Miami Beach of Cuba, but it felt very lonely and dark. Even in the darkness of night I could make out colorful buildings, farmhouses and a long bridge over to the mainland that seemed to stretch forever. We finally made it to the town of Moron and stayed in a hotel there - this had to be the Boss's version of slumming it. We did have multiple Mercedes S550s at our disposal but the hotel felt like a government owned Econo Lodge. I turned on the TV and couldn't understand anything, would walk around downstairs and around the block, but I had no means - no communication (my phone did not work), I couldn't speak Spanish, and I knew I stood out in any crowd with blond hair and blue eyes. At the airport I was given a slip of paper with a stamp in it in case there were any problems and put it in my passport which I kept at all times. I barely got any sleep than night, excited, anxious, afraid of the unknown. Rory as my hotel mate and some Cuban Rum calmed me down a bit and I fell asleep to the sound of some people talking outside on the sidewalk.

In the morning we gathered together and suddenly in front of the hotel appeared some police and some Eastern European trucks that I was not familiar with, but were to be our ride to the site. I was paranoid that Cuban government officials may find it odd that Middle Eastern royalty was showing up in a small town with a couple of gringos and they might question me, but everyone was very nice - almost everyone I talked to told me about their family in Miami. After a hefty dose of Cuban coffee, which are basically shots of caffeine, we headed out in these vehicles. According to a map the area was about 25 miles away, but it took us over an hour to get there. It was a pretty brutal hour as I immediately realized these vehicles had no AC and no one had decided to put on deodorant in the past three days apparently. To add to that, the suspension on the trucks must have been an afterthought and so were the roads to this particular town, filled with potholes. We did finally arrive, and along the way I did notice close relatives of this palm which concerned me as I thought we may find hybridized plants - exactly the opposite of what The Boss was looking for.

I started to have everyone ask about a black wooden sign referring to a pig farm, and we eventually found it on about 3 miles outside of the town center. As soon as this sign came into view, I also saw the farmhouse and fields of what appeared to be the species His Excellency was looking for. He shouted with glee as we approached this farm, and the owner came out unsure of why all these foreigners were at his doorstep. As soon as the word "palmas" was spoken, he seemed to understand and pointed to the strand of palms towards the back of his property. We proceeded to truck over there in excitement as these huge pillars of plants lined his fences, standing tall and dominating the landscape. We finally reached them after trekking through some nasty muddy fields, and as everyone stood in amazement, I stood a little disappointed. I knew these were hybrids - the fronds were not the right width or color, the bases of the leaves were too short, and the trunks not the right thickness. I wandered through the trunks looking for any sign of purity. These palms, though hybrids, would easily fetch $10,000 each in Miami, but here they were in the way of pigs grazing in the fields.

Through this small forest that provided shade from the hot, humid weather along this plain I saw another clearing and yet another strand of palms in the distance, maybe another mile. I broke the news to The Boss and Rory and after some discussion they understood that these were in fact not what they were looking for. We got back in the trucks and took another 15 minute trip to the next strand, and this time we struck gold - these palms were pure, and about a third of them were dropping seed. His Excellency had some of his men in the other truck break out bags, shovels, anything they could do to collect plant material. I tried to tell them not to dig up seedlings as they would die, but they didn't listen to me. Rory and I found a well preserved palm frond and were able to cut it and preserve it for a leaf press to do DNA research and for reference and comparison to the offspring of the plants in the future.

It took a little while for this to all hit me - that I was actually in habitat of this plant, that these plants would fetch millions of dollars just 200 miles away. I was asked by His Excellency to not shoot photos or video, that Rory could send me both when they were back home. I was not in the backfields of Redland, and these were not field grown specimens at a local nursery. These plants had been here since way before there was a revolution or even Westerners; their presence reminded me of the pillars of the Parthenon. After I pointed out which seeds to pick up and which seedlings may be salvageable, my job was done. I felt like my job of searching and finding these palms was Indiana Jones-esque in the way it played out. Not only were these palms rare, but they did belong in more botanical gardens. These farms were state-run and it may be a matter of time before this grove fell to a project in the area that was to "repurpose" the land. It had happened before and could easily happen again. It was times like these that made me feel like my odd choice of employment had been the right choice in my life.

We returned to Moron and ate dinner at a local place where the food was excellent, but I felt again as if I was not supposed to be there. I didn't feel like I was in danger, but I seemed to attract more attention than I would be in Miami eating at a typical Cuban restaurant. From what I had seen, Cuba was a time capsule from the 1950s. Everyone was very nice, but things just had not moved much out of that decade. It reminds me of something the US would look like had we not won World War Two and our ability to be an economic powerhouse was thwarted by debt and lack of technology. Our time there was done though, and 24 hours after we had taken off from Miami Executive, we were back landing on the same strip. His Excellency thanked me very much for my help, and even offered me a job doing some plant finding here in the States, and I still keep in touch with him and Rory to this day. He also offered to fly me out to visit his conservatory, and hinted we may be able to ride in a few of his personal vehicles including a Ferrari 250 GTO, a Pagani Zonda, a Konigsegg CCX, and a McLaren F1.

I felt a sense of relief turning my phone on and seeing full coverage from Verizon on the screen. I immediately called my mother, the only person who knew I was going to Cuba and let her know I had a great time and helped a person interested in conservation get endangered plants to a safe haven. She has always been supportive of my nomadic lifestyle and plant interests even if it diverted from the more normal 9 to 5 routine. When I was broke she would be there to tell me I was still going down the right road, and when things were good she was the first to tell me how proud she was. At the same time I think about what life would have been like if I hadn't left college when I did, what if I hadn't gone to Florida and met Ken and others who took me under their wing to learn the ropes of the plant world. Even in the depths of the home game, I still took on small plant sales or brokering opportunities to keep myself in the loop with customers and to touch base with that part of my life. It was what I wanted, and whether I liked it or not, it will be with me the rest of my life.

On another note, I never did hear from April again through a call, text, or otherwise. She moved on to work for a Mary Kay type makeup company according to her Facebook. Chop does still ask about her from time to time, however.
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Old 04-16-2018, 12:47 AM   #1121
Eri_manga
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Re: The story of "The Home Game" - TL;DR

Great update!!!
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Old 04-16-2018, 09:29 AM   #1122
sublime_fan24
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Re: The story of "The Home Game" - TL;DR

awesome finish to the "palmas" story; I really enjoyed it

thanks for taking the time to write it up and share it!
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Old 04-16-2018, 11:04 AM   #1123
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Re: The story of "The Home Game" - TL;DR

Yes! Been waiting for the update, amazing.

Thanks
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Old 04-16-2018, 02:33 PM   #1124
JW31
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Re: The story of "The Home Game" - TL;DR

I’ve spent the better part of 3 days reading this story while also trying to get work done... and now I’ve finally caught up and have to wait for updates as opposed to just reading continuously.

TST, I’ve very much enjoyed the whole thread... keep them coming when you have time. I’m coming to that area of Florida in a couple months and would buy drinks if you wanna shoot the **** some night.

To the readers, is WarmDeck worth the read too? I’ve alreay read the entirety of ipuntstacks posts and it was a wild ride too.

Thanks
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Old 04-18-2018, 01:05 AM   #1125
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Re: The story of "The Home Game" - TL;DR

Quote:
Originally Posted by JW31 View Post
To the readers, is WarmDeck worth the read too?
Thanks
Yes, but in a much different way than this thread.
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