Thursday, January 21, 2016

Bahamas January 2016 - The Big Poker Game

Everything you are about to read happened just as documented. Some of the names have been changed to protect the guilty, at least this is how DUG saw things happen.

Video and all the pictures at the bottom!

The only real desire I had to visit the Bahamas was to mark another country off my list, as I continue on my quest to visit every country in the world. I have been to many of the island countries in the Caribbean and have enjoyed them all, so I was not against the Bahamas, it just had not made my short list.

After returning from my outing in Tucson I had no real travel plan until I head to Hong Kong in February. At least that is what I thought. I got a text from Mike "The Card" Zimmerman, he was putting a high rollers poker game together on his yacht and wanted to see if I wanted to join the game.

Let me give you more detail. When the United States Federal Government shut down On-line poker a vacuum was created for a certain high end poker players. A player that enjoyed playing, but like the
anonymity of on-line poker play. Mike "The Card" Zimmerman saw a great opportunity for a business that would allow him to combine several of his passions, poker, boating, and travel.

He took his 110 foot Broward cruising yacht named Kelly Anne and decided to host high end poker games all around the world. These games have rather large buy-ins $300,000 to $1,000,000 and sometimes follow a tournament format and sometimes be a cash game format.

These games are invitation only and the players decide the format. Players also signed a oath of secrecy about the games. If you break this oath, you are banned for life. Yes, this might be my first and last trip.

I had never met Mike "The Card" Zimmerman, but had followed his poker career, it ends up he had also been following my game. Mike "The Card" Zimmerman was putting together a very special game. Mike "The Card" Zimmerman had a crew of four on his Yacht, the Captain Duran, the first mate Ki, the chef Martin, and the steward Stephanie.

Duran and Ki are from the Bahamas and Martin and Stephanie are from South Africa. While the crew works for Mike "The Card" Zimmerman, they are also poker apprentice under Mike "The Card" Zimmerman.

Mike "The Card" Zimmerman would video real games and then use the videos as a way to teach his crew how to play. There were two reasons for this; one was incase he ever wanted to expand his business to multiple yachts and the second was incase he needed additional players for a game.

The reason Mike "The Card" Zimmerman contacted me was to invite me to this very special game, this would be the first game with his crew. It was time they got some real life experience.

Mike "The Card" Zimmerman had been following both my poker play and my travels and thought I would be a great addition to the game. With the four crew, Mike "The Card" Zimmerman and myself
the game was up to 6 players. One more player would make a nice table. I suggested Kev--Vin. I have never played against Kev--Vin, but have followed him and his play. An aggressive player that likes to bet heavy into draws. I had heard rumor Kev--Vin had played at two of Mike "The Card" Zimmerman's games in the past, but because of the secrecy oath I was not sure.

Yes, his name is really Kev--Vin, I am not sure if it is a first and last name or just a funny first name, but I snuck a peak at his passport and his name is Kev--Vin.

Kev--Vin confirmed he was in. Kev--Vin not only plays poker but is also a world class baccarat player. He has won millions while playing in both Monaco and Macau, beating some of the best
Saudi and Chinese players.

Mike "The Card" Zimmerman makes these trip much more than a poker game. There is no cost, everything is include except your poker money. How does Mike "The Card" Zimmerman make money? He hopes to win enough at the game to pay for his life style.

These trips are usually 4 days and three nights. On our arrival we are greeted by a limo that quietly took us to Mike "The Card" Zimmerman's yacht. We were greeted with cool damp clothes to wash or face and margaritas to drink.

Our bags were placed in our cabins. The yacht has 5 staterooms, as well as two crew quarters.

The big game is not until Friday night, we arrived on Thursday. Since I had never been to the Bahamas, Mike "The Card" Zimmerman offered to show me around the harbor. Kev--Vin, Mike "The Card" Zimmerman and I got in the tender and Ki took as for a tour of some of the other marines and
some of the water front communities. Clearly Mike "The Card" Zimmerman owned one of the larger yachts for this area.

On our return we showered for dinner, if you have ever spent a night on a boat, forget everything you remember, instead think of the most luxury hotel and then multiply by ten and you can picture what the cabin and bathroom are like. Ever stateroom has its own bathroom and full tub and shower.

We had dinner on the upper deck, Martin is a master chef, he was trained in South Africa, and apprenticed at the restaurant, Planet which is in the Nelson Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa.

Mike "The Card" Zimmerman, met Martin while holding a game in South Africa and Mike "The Card" Zimmerman convinced Martin to leave Planet and join his crew.

For dinner we started with some homemade salsa and homemade baked corn chips, next a Capri Salad, followed by the best pork chops ever, they were served over a sweet potato risotto, with a side of fresh string beans. For dessert we had a choice of chocolate mousse or cream brûlée, I had both and they were to die for.

Dinner was served with fantastic South African wines. When Mike "The Card" Zimmerman travels he stocks up with wines from the regions he has traveled to.

After dinner we relaxed in the hot tube enjoying the evening breeze and an after dinner cognac.

I woke before the others and went for a run, we were still a full night away from the poker game and I needed to keep my head clear. I had heard part of Mike "The Card" Zimmerman's strategy was to lull
the invited players into a wine and food induced fog, a fog that would be in full force by poker night.

After the run, I returned to the boat to find everybody was ready to leave for Rose Island. I have neglected to mention Stephanie our steward. If you are old enough to remember the TV show MASH Stephanie is like the character Radar, she knows what you need before you do. From a fresh glass of wine, to having your bed turned down. The service is unbelievable from the entire crew.

I was aware that I would be playing these crew members on there first foray into high stakes poker. I was not sure what my strategy should be over the next day and a half. Kill them with kindness or intimidate them to the point where on game night they will be so shaken and sick to their stomachs. I might tried a little bit of both.

We all went on the big boat with Duran captaining this 110 foot monster. He could maneuver this giant like it was an agile ballerina. Ki followed us in the tender.

Once out at Rose Island the toys were deployed. Stand up paddle boards, jet skis, and scuba equipment. We did a bunch of each. I forgot to mention the food.

Breakfast was a four egg omelet with spinach and cheddar cheese, lunch was the best hamburger I have had in my life, dinner rack of lamb over truffle mash potatoes. Each meal paired with the perfect wine, followed by and after dinner drink.

We relaxed in the hot tub before retiring for the night.

The winds kicked up during the evening so Duran felt it was best to head back to the marina as it was
game night and it would be important to have calm conditions.

Before we headed back Martin whipped up Huevos Rancheros for breakfast, which were the best I ever had. With it being game night, once back at the dock I decided to veg out and make sure I was well rested for the game.

It was decided for the poker game, we would play a cash game with $25,000 buy ins. You could buy in as many times as you wanted until 11:00 PM. At that point the game would switch to a tournament format with the blinds doubling ever 10 minutes until there was only one player left, winner take all.

My strategy was to play louse and be in almost every hand until I blow through my first $25,000.00. My thinking was, I never played against these players and I was spending the $25,000 to gain knowledge. I would later find out this was money well spent.

Ki lost big his first hand with Kev--Vin out drawing him on the river, causing Ki to re-buy. Martin hit a 8% hand on the river stacking Mike "The Card" Zimmerman, causing a re-buy, while Kev--Vin out drew me twice, once on the turn and once on the river, causing me to re-buy. Duran and Stephanie saw their stacks slowly dissolve, Duran deciding not to re-buy, Stephanie going for the second chance and a re-buy. At this point with all the re-buys there was a few hundred thousand on the table.

The game continued the players tightened up, Kev--Vin continued to chase and bet into his draws. Mike "The Card" Zimmerman got stacked again this time by Kev--Vin. The clock hit 11:00 PM we
changed to tournament style with $5,000, $10,000 blinds. Mike "The Card" Zimmerman followed Duran out, left at the table was Stephanie the short stack, next was me not far ahead, then Martin, Ki, and Kev--Vin the chip leaders. I had two nice hands the first beating Martin the second stacking him, putting me right up with the leaders. Shortly after that Stephanie was out. Kev--Vin stack was dwindling as he continued to miss draws. Finally I was the chip leader we all went all in Ki, Kev--Vin and I. I won with two pair.

I am fairly sure Kev--Vin was happy to lose just so he could go to bed, he was exhausted.

Not a bad nights work.

The trip was not over Mike "The Card" Zimmerman always has the poker game on a Friday night and then some activity on Saturday to bring the group back together after a grueling game that can get personal. For this trip he planned a pig roast on one of the out islands.

Being my first time in the Bahamas I thought a walk into downtown Nassau in the morning would do me some good and would be of interest, both Kev--Vin and Mike "The Card" Zimmerman decided to join me. It was a few mile walk which starts out going through a rather dilapidated area that clearly had been prosperous at one point in time. We finally reached the touristy area where the majority of cruise ships dock.

At 11:00 the crew pick us up at the city dock in the tender for our trip out to the out island and the pig roast. What a beautiful day, the water was as clear as could be, Mike "The Card" Zimmerman had invited a few other locals to the roast, everybody had a grand time and we all enjoyed a fantastic roasted pig. The boat trip back was spectacular, right into a beautiful sunset.

We decided to go out to dinner really more for snacks as we were still full from the pig roast. A new Margaretville had recently opened. I also invited two friends that follow my LifeOfDug website, Holly Erica, and
Cleo. It was Holly Erica's birthday so Cleo surprised her with my presence as Holly Erica's birthday present. A great time was had by all.

After the party the crew wanted to go hit the Atlantis Casino they had high hope of winning back
some of the money they had lost the night before in the poker game. After just being in Vegas a few weeks back, I have to tell you there
is no redeeming factor to the Atlantis Casino. I do not think I have ever been in a building so full of cigarette smoke, it was like they piped it in. Martin did well at he black jack tables, but the smoke was to much, I had to leave. I had planned to walk back, about a mile. Duran felt it was unsafe, if this was true another reason not to go to Atlantis. Mike "The Card" Zimmerman and Kev--Vin decided to join me since I would be taking a cab back to the Yacht.

Sunday was recover day, and the day we would all be departing for places unknown. What a great experience, and profitable one. I hope I get another invite back to one of Mike "The Card" Zimmerman's games.

Cheers, DUG.




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