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Daniel - Poker Journal

Pentru Mama

03 Feb 2008

I screwed up in Germany. Not exactly in a poker hand, but I did something I've never, ever done in 10+ years of tournament poker. Going into day two I was healthy in chips, 8th out of about 170 players or so, but when play started at 3pm I was no where to be found.

No, I wasn't in some random outfit with Vinnie Vinh, but I was still sleeping until I got the call at 3:23pm that play had started. As it happened, the casino was close to 30 minutes away from the hotel so by the time I arrived, there was 20 minutes left in the level. More importantly, my stack of 59,900 was dwindled down to 54,500 which was still way above average, but I was already somewhat defeated mentally. I'd been happy go lucky the whole time I was in Germany, but that day, I was grumpy, annoyed, and impatient with my opponents who were doing the "Hollywood". Forget about the fact that I'd been slow rolled for the third time of the tournament, I've learned that in Europe, that's just to be expected. Simple example: guy bets river, I call, he looks at me, doesn't show his cards, and essentially says, "what do you have?" I've been slow rolled by one too many Italians, though, so I knew not to turn over my hand as he was about an 83% favorite to have the nuts (he had the absolute nuts, not like that's surprising.)

Anyway, I actually took a stupid beat in a pot where I still can't figure out what my opponent was doing in. He called my raise with K-9 off from the small blind, flopped middle pair, and then shoved for another 15k. I had top pair and a flush draw, the dreaded Ac 4h on a three heart board, and he beat that handily despite me turning two pair.

The last hand I played as a short stack from the big blind was a flush draw versus middle pair. I missed my flush and was greeted with, without question, the loudest scream I'd ever heard playing poker. Just top of the lungs yellling. Nice, nothing spells class like a good old chest bumping tirade while you yelp at the top of your lungs.

I left Germany the next day, a little upset with myself for staying up so late at the bar the night before. After leaving the bar, I actually wrote a blog, huh? I still can't make sense of why I did, outside of German beer being pretty good. I'd blame my company for my downfall in keeping me up so late, but that wouldn't be right. I screwed up, it was my bad... oh well. Despite the fact that I haven't done anything like that for quite sometime, I've learned to take it easier on myself and chalk it up to an "oops" moment. It wasn't the "end of me," it wasn't a case of me playing bad, simply being irresponsible. Since I'm normally really good about that sort of thing, I'm going to give myself a pass. You might not, but gladly, your opinion, is well, absolutely meaningless!


Back to the point of the whole blog entry: Mommy. I got back last night and today my mom told me about a wedding that we were going to. I quickly finished my episode of Celebrity Apprentice, showered, threw on a suit, and then got ready for the wedding.

It was an Orthodox wedding which meant an hour of standing for all, listening to a priest ramble in broken English, and then finally, after popping crowns (yes crowns) on the bride and the groom, he made them walk in circles three times. Hey, it was strange, but my brother had a similarly bizarre ceremony for his wedding (remind me to NEVER get married in an Orthodox or Catholic church).

My mother was dressed to the nines, with matching hat and purse to go with her stylish black and white outfit. She loves weddings, she loves dressing up,and she loves Romanian culture, something she really doesn't get enough of. Me and my brother (who flew out from Toronto) were there with her, mostly to support her.

After the 38 hour wedding ceremony we went to a Serbian restaurant that the Romanians had rented out for the evening. They also had a Romanian couple singing, typical European wedding stuff mostly, with a mix of American stuff too.

My mom, of course, brought an "extra" change of clothes for the party, putting on her "dancing gear" so that she'd be read to shake her booty to the Romanian vibes. She looked great. Hair did, nails did, elegant dress, she was looking classy all the way. It's so her element, she is like a wedding queen- knows exactly what they should be like and isn't afraid to TELL the people running things what they need to do to make it festive.

She was awesome. Haven't seen her move like that in a long, long time. At one point, with some real old school Romanian music playing she started tearing up (she cries about, well, everything) and she said that the song reminded her of when she was young. She's still young at heart, seriously. Everyone there told me how much they adored my mother. She is sweetness personified with a little bit of harsh, real truth mixed in, a la, "You look nice ... but you need to put on a few pounds! You look too skinny, here, eat this...."

I didn't know a lot of people at the Romanian/Mexican wedding, but it wasn't really about me, and I found myself mingling with others very comfortably. For me, the whole purpose of me going to the wedding was pentru Mommy. Mommy had a blast and watching her dance brought a smile to not only my face, but I think everyone there enjoyed seeing her with an ear to ear smile.

She grew up in Romania and life is very different there. There is both good and bad associated with growing up in an impoverished country. Good, in that the culture was electric and connected, and obviously bad in that life was a little bit tougher. Thing is, I think growing up like that, although I'll never fully understand the struggles of my mother and father, made them both very special people with an unmatched zest for life. I could watch her own the dance floor for hours, it's really just an awesome sight.

I ended up having a great time with my brother and mother. We don't spend that much time together as a family. I still, to this day feel an emptiness about family outings because the King of our family, the man who was the glue of all things Negreanu passed away in 1996. We have moved on, but to me, it'll never be like it was. To this day he is my hero, my superman, the gy I always looked up to and wanted to be. The life of the party, the joker, the smart businessman, the generous friend, but also a tough, tough, cookie if you crossed him.

Seeing my mother having Romanian friends in Las Vegas makes me really happy. Having my dad there would have been surreal, but I honestly feel like despite the fact that he has passed away, when I hear Romanian music, and I see my mother dance... he's there. He's there in a big way and I miss him.