"Art is no part of southern life. In the South art, to become visible at all, must become a ceremony, a spectacle; something between a gypsy encampment and a church bazaar given by a handful of alien mummers who must waste themselves in protest and active self-defense until there is nothing left with which to speak..." - William FaulknerWilliam Faulkner never spent time at Brad-o-Ween, but I did. I've attended big events before, especially in the South, such as wild parties like Mardi Gras and Jazzfest in New Orleans, St. Patrick's Day in Savannah, the Kentucky Derby, and Gator Growl. Now I can add another epic event to that list... Brad-o-Ween.
Brad-o-Ween is an experience that it hard to fully write about. I can regurgitate a few hundred words and splash a few pictures that still wouldn't do justice for the actually spectacle which we all experienced. So why did I get on two small planes and torture myself with the brutal South Carolina heat for a weekend in August when I could have been home writing in a nice air conditioned room and spending time playing poker online while watching reruns of Real World Austin?
Because of Otis, of course.
That's why people from all walks of life came from the far corners of South Carolina, all over the South and Midwest, and from our hometowns and cities on the East Coast. Even a few aliens from other planets arrived to check out the Brad-o-Ween festivities. We all completed our pilgrimage to a tiny cul-de-sac in order to celebrate Otis on a day that he designated be the specific time to celebrate all things Otis. That day was Brad-o-Ween.
I had the unique opportunity to spend several weeks getting to know Otis in Las Vegas. We sat next to each other in press row during the WSOP during coverage of some tedious final tables. We frequently drank at dinner together at the Hooker Bar at the Rio. We saw each other at our best and our worst while we were working in Las Vegas. Indeed, I got to know real-life Otis and it was less than 48 hours after he left Las Vegas before I bought tickets to G-Vegas for Derek and myself. The fact that there was an awesome group of folks from G-Vegas made the trip to Brad-o-Ween even more special. Add to the mix a list of some of my favorite bloggers and it was a no brainer that I come.
I knew that Brad-o-Ween was going to be the highlight of my Summer before I even booked my flight. So why did I have so much fun?
Simply put, it's a crazy fucked up world we live in. So much bad stuff happens to people that I'll never be able to comprehend or explain it. In the past five years, I have had ten of the best days of my life and ten of the worst days. That's how it is and how it was. But sometimes, you just have to take a break from your hectic and unexplained lives and just let loose and surrender to the flow. Because there are specific moments in your life when you get a chance to meet and click with a person, a few people, or an entire group of like minds. And even for a brief moment things make complete sense, like you were supposed to be a part of something cool. The crazier my life gets, the more I appreciate moments like Brad-o-Ween. It was an original experience and I could not think of anything else that I'd like to do to end a truly amazing summer.
We woke up a little late at Casa de Bad Blood and rushed to get to chez Otis for the Brad-o-Ween Open poker tournament registration. Plus there was going to be some great BBQ. Bad Blood loaded his poker table into the mini-van and we headed over. A small group already gathered in the garage area. We were greeted by a huge white sign that said, "Welcome to Bradoween."
Eva Can Hang was already behind the heavily stocked bar in Otis' garage. She was the featured mixologist for the weekend and whipped up cocktails for the pre-tournament crowd. To the left was a table with the BBQ. A huge tray of cole slaw, baked beans, chicken, and pulled pork made my mouth salivate. There was also several jugs of Sweet Tea ready for my own personal comsumption. Some folks love it. Others hate it. I'm a big fan of Sweet Tea. In fact, here's a quick top 5 list.
The Top 5 Things I Loved About Living in the South:I drank two cups of Sweet Tea right away and dug into the food. Daddy and I made a sandwich with chicken and pulled pork on top. I also added a few baked beans. I'd dip the sandwich into two types of BBQ sauce.
1. Widespread Panic
2. Mayo on hamburgers
3. Sweet Tea
4. Southern vixens who say "Y'all."
5. Magic Mushrooms
The Brad-o-Ween Open poker tournament had 43 players. The buy in was $50, er 50 units, since gambling is illegal in South Carolina. Damn red states. Just a week before a local game was busted in G-Vegas. We had to be extra cautious. I suggested that Otis hand out bibles just in case we were raided by the pigs. If they questioned us, we'd tell them we were at a special prayer revival or performing an exorcism on Al Cant Hang. Due to the recent events, Otis had to hide the money in his neighbor's house. I think it was the preacher across the way. I was hoping to meet his daughter. In my experience, some of the wildest Southern girls I've ever met were preacher's daughters.
Back to the Brad-o-Ween open... Otis squeezed Tables 1 and 2 into the living room. Table 3 was in the dining room and Table 4 was in the kitchen. Some of the tables were 11 handed. Derek was at Table 4, and I'd wander over to see how he was doing.
43 players participated in the 2005 Brad-o-Ween Open, with the top 7 places paying out. 800 units to first place with 100 units to 6th and 7th. Since this was not a WPBT sanctioned event, no points were awarded and since we were outside of the reach of the Shulman Junta, no points were awarded for Card Player's Player of the Year standings.
My first table:Of course, everyone joked that we were at the "featured TV table" with some of the big names. There were a lot of great players at my table but since the blind levels were 40 minutes in length, I sat back and waited for quality hands. Players started with $170 in chips and blinds began at $1/2.
Seat 1: Ryan
Seat 2: Iggy
Seat 3: Marty
Seat 4: Heather
Seat 5: Maudie
Seat 6: G-Rob
Seat 7: Pauly
Seat 8: Dr. Jeff
Seat 9: Todd
Seat 10: Tracey
Seat 11: Double As
1:30pm... Cards were in the air.
1:41pm... Maudie check-raised G-Rob and moved all in. G-Rob reluctantly folded.
1:52pm... A wave of commotion echoed out from the dinning room. The Cigar Girl, or River Queen as Otis has referred to her in the past took all of Otis' stack when she rivered a gutshot straight against him and their table went wild. Otis is the first person out in 43rd place.
2:17pm... Gracie's KK lost to Wes' AA. She was knocked out in 42nd place. Otis announced that he created a special board to list everyone who had been eliminated. He was the first player to sign it. Gracie begins filming exit interviews.
2:18pm... Local G-Vegas celebrity, G-Rob, was eliminated in 41st place. Film at 11.
2:36pm... Big Mike was sent to guard the keg when he was busted in 39th place.
2:40pm... Table Change. I was moved to table 2 which had Pablo, Bad Blood, Poker Stage John, and Big Mike.
2:45pm... Eva was knocked out in 37th place and headed to the bar for bartending duties. She proceeded to whip up the best damn Long Island Iced Teas possible.
2:47pm... Bad Blood was eliminated when his pocket Tens lost to a set of 3s.
2:48pm... Derek was knocked out in 31st place. He reported to keg guarding duty with Big Mike.
2:55pm... The Mark rivered a straight on April.
2:58pm... Debby hit Quad 9s at my table. She caught running 9s for a monster hand. With A-x a few hands later, she would have hit quad aces on the river, but everyone folded to her by the turn with two aces on the board. She started a huge rush and started accumulating chips at our table. Her son, Wolverine, was also one of the chip leaders at our table.
3:07pm... Tracy was knocked out when her pocket nines lost to Ryan's Hiltons.
3:14pm... Poker Stage John's 10-10 lost to Debby's A-J and he was eliminated.
3:30pm... Heather's AQ lost to Dr. Jeff's pocket Jacks and she was knocked out.
3:49pm... Maudie and her short stack was eliminated.
4:04pm... I forgot that I was supposed to tape a segment with Cinci Sean for Card Club on the Lord Admiral Radio. He called and I left my table for fifteen minutes and was blinded out while we conducted the interview for his podcast. I went outside and drank Sweet Tea and we spoke while Sean recorded my bit. (Editor's Note: You can download this week's episode... here. Just right click and Save As. My segment starts at the 29:30 part of the show. When Sean asked me who out of the remaining players who everyone should keep an eye out for, I jokingly replied, "Me." A little podcast foreshadowing?)
4:20pm... April's Hiltons could not hold up against Daddy's Donkeys. His A-9s emerged victorious. I wonder if Paris Hilton would fuck a donkey and let me tape it? I'd title it "Ride Donkey, Ride!"
4:31pm... Action was down to 2 tables. A cash game broke out in the kitchen and was moved to the dining room. Everyone else was outside drinking or inside sweating the bloggers. Mrs. Otis began whipping up hors d'oeuvres and Derek helped her by taking a few trays out to the poker tables.
4:33pm... CJ was eliminated in 20th place when he dropped the Jack Hammer and it lost!
4:55pm... Pablo was knocked out in 19th place by Debby.
5:15pm... There was a "color up" break and I stepped outside with Pablo and Derek for a quick smoke. I had $250 when the average stack was over $370. Double As looked like the chipleader and Wolverine was the chipleader at my table.
5:39pm... Double As busted Marty with the Hammer!
5:47pm... Double As lost some of his massive stack in a three way pot. He had AA. Gamecock was the shortstack and moved all in with A-10s. The Cigar Girl had pocket Kings. She was also all in. The room was buzzing because everyone expected Cigar Girl to catch a King. And she did, just like it was supposed to happen in the script. She doubled up against Double As and Gamecock was eliminated.
5:55pm... Rumors circulated around Brad-O-Ween that BG had passed out in Lil Otis' nursery. I snuck upstairs for an exclusive picture, which I filed away for future blackmail purposes. I'm sure OJ would love to have a pic of sweaty, shirtless, napping BG for it's archives, right?
6:35pm... With 11 players left, Al Cant Hang was knocked out by Wolverine. He bubbled out of the final table and missed the money by a few spaces. Al Cant Hang was admittedly sober for the entire tournament. Like me, we only had one alcoholic beverage each during the entire afternoon. I constantly drank Sweet Tea and I had to piss every ten minutes.
6:55pm... The Final Table began afte we redrew for seats. Double As was the chipleader. I had $645 and was the 3rd shortest stack. Four players at the final table were related... Debby, TeamScott Smith, Shep, and Wolverine. Here's the line up:
Brad-o-Ween Poker Open Final Table Players:7:20pm... Brian was eliminated in 10th place.
Seat 1: Pauly (New York City)
Seat 2: Double As (Fairfax, VA)
Seat 3: Lefty (Chicago, IL)
Seat 4: Daddy (Hilljack, IN)
Seat 5: Wolverine (G-Vegas, SC)
Seat 6: Shep (G-Vegas, SC)
Seat 7: TeamScottSmith (G-Vegas, SC)
Seat 8: Brian (G-Vegas, SC)
Seat 9: Debby (G-Vegas, SC)
Seat 10: Wes "Nile Virus" (Midlands, SC)
8:00pm... We had a color up break. I had $500 left. During our break, a cold deck was set up by Double As and whoever was left. Daddy was dealt A-A and Wolverine (who was in on it) had the Hammer. The flop: A-7-7. The turn was a blank and the river was a seven. Daddy bet and Wolverine moved all in. Daddy was sweating like a fat kid in a poker game and quietly said, "I can't believe I'm laying this down." He put Wolverine on quads and he was right as he flipped over the Hammer. CJ told him what really happened and Daddy was amused by their cold deck.
8:02pm... Shep was knocked out by his brother TeamScottSmith when his pocket Kings did not hold up to J7 on a flop of J-J-x.
8:04pm... Left was eliminated on the Bubble when his K-6s lost to Team Scott Smith's 6-6.
8:06pm... Daddy was donkey fucked by the Hiltons when his 7-7 lost to TeamScottSmith Q-Q. Daddy made the money and TeamScottSmith went out to a nice chiplead as some of Double As stack dwindled after he went card dead. With six players remaining I was the short stack.
8:11pm...Debby was knocked out in 6th place when her Q-T lost to Wes' A-Q. It seemed that everytime Wes won a pot, everyone would do the pirate chant, "Arrrrrgggggghhhhh!"
8:15pm... I moved all in with 10-8s and doubled up against Double As A-5 when I caught a 10. I had $750. Double As was the one player I was the most afraid of at the final table. He's a far superior NL player than I am and I knew that the only way I'd play a pot with his was to get all my money in preflop against him since he was to my left. There was no way I wanted to get outplayed by him post-flop so I tried to pressure him to make calls instead of the other way around. Lucky for me, I caught a fortunate board with my junk hand and doubled up to stay alive.
8:35pm... I cannot explained what happened but inside of twenty minutes, I shifted gears and flipped on the Layne Flack hyper-agressive switch. I stole pots, I pushed players around. I raised with mediocre hands and hit some flops with junks hands. I went from $750 to $1875 inside of a half a level.
8:43pm... I moved into the chiplead when I doubled up against Wes. He raised on the button and I moved all in with A-Ks. He thought for a long time before he called with 10-10. I flopped an ace and double up to around $3900.
8:46pm... Wolverine was knocked out by Team Scott Smith. He played great poker and was the youngest player at Brad-o-Ween.
8:49pm... I lost two big pots to Wes when it was three handed. My A2 lost to his Big Slick. My Q-9s lost to AJ. I dropped to $1530 and Wes moved into the chiplead.
8:52pm... Wes caught another monster hand with A-10s and beat out Team Scott Smith's pocket Kings. Wes flopped a ten and turned an ace to knocked out Team Scott Smith in 3rd place. He played great!
8:53pm... I was severely outchipped $1550 to $6675 and I offered him a chop. He declined. Otis grabbed the Hooters girls who came out for the money presentation. Some of them had $20 and $100 bills stuffed into their cleavage. CJ has a good video of the money presentation here. Check out "Money Shot." You need QuickTime to see it.
8:59pm... Wes went card dead and I did my best to pick up some pots. I won a hand with 6-2 vs. 10-8 to stay alive.
9:05pm... A finally pulled within even to Wes and offered up a chop. He agreed and we played out one final hand to determine the winner as a formality. I had Q-6 and he had Q-7. Although I was dominated, I caught a 6 on the river to become the winner of the Brad-o-Ween Open. Wes and I chopped first and second place.... 800 and 500. Wes played excellent and if he caught any cards once it got heads up, I would have finished second for sure.
Again, I got lucky. The only skill involved was my patience in early rounds to avoid playing too many hands. I pretty much folded my way to the final table and once I got it, the other small stacks were knocked out as I folded into the money. Once it got six handed, I became super-agrressive and went after a lot more pots since I really had nothing to lose. I went from the short stack to the chipleader inside of one level, then promptly blew the chip lead. How I got heads up is still a mystery to me.
I must say that Otis did a great job organizing the tournament. CJ and April assisted out in the later stages and Heather did one kick ass job as well. She dealt the final table and really made sure things ran smoothly. She did better than a lot of seasoned Las Vegas poker dealers and I was impressed with how she kept things running. Someone needs to hire her as a tournament director. She gets my highest recommendation.
As I walked outside, Mrs. Otis introduced me to her firends, the Hooters Girls. She said, "Pauly's single, good looking, famous and he's rich after he just won the poker tournament." One girl showed me her cleavage as I smiled and grabbed a water.
It was time for Drunk-a-Lympics. Otis sent out an email a week earlier outlining everything. Big Mike joked that he signed legal documents that were shorter in length. Otis and G-Rob were captains and they drafted willing participants. CJ ran the Drunk Olympics while a crowd gathered outside to take part in the highlight of Brad-o-Ween 5.
Here were the teams:
Team GoodIn case you were wondering the rules and events, here's what Otis wrote:
Al Cant Hang
Event #1-ROSHAMBO (Individual)
One player from each team will square off in a best three out of five rock paper scissors match. Standard rules apply. The loser of the contest will take a single shot of Southern Comfort.
Event #2-OVER THE TOP (Individual)
One player from each team will face off in standard arm wrestling form. Two half-full beer glasses will sit in the place where the loser's hand would normally fall (on the player's right). The object is to knock over the opponent's cup with his own hand. The loser of the contest must drink his opponent's beer and a shot of Southern Comfort.
Event #3-CAPS (Team)
Two players from the same team will sit next to each other in folding chairs with a full cup of beer between them. Seven feet across from them, two members of the opposing team will sit in the same way. The teams will alternate attempting to sink a beer bottle cap into their opponent's beer. The first team to accomplish this task--without the opposing team canceling the shot with a subsequent successful shot -wins the contest. The losing team must split the beer that sits between them. ALL players from the losing team must also drink a shot of Southern Comfort a piece.
Event #4-THE BAHAMAS MEMORIAL WATER BOTTLE TOSS (Individual)
In recognition of the 2005 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure appearance of Al Can't Hang, Boy Genius, Eva, and G-Rob, one player from each team will compete in the same game the travelers created in the Bahamas that soured their reputation with the Bahamian Gambling Commission. Each player will be given a full bottle of water. Each player can keep as much or as little of the water in the bottle as he wishes. Standing at a distance of 20 feet, each player will get a turn to throw the bottle and sink it in a trash can. If he sinks the bottle and his opponent cannot counter with a successful throw, the successful shooter wins. Starting order will be decided by a single game of Roshambo. The loser of the contest will drink a single shot of Southern Comfort.
Event #5-TEAM ROSHAMBO (Team)
In this version of Roshambo, each team captain will stand with his teammates in a row behind him. After a team conference, all members of the team (excepting the captains) will put their backs to the center and hold to their chest either a rock, paper, or scissors. Once both teams are set, the team captains will pick one of his opponent's teammates (who will step back from the herd, but not turn around). The opposing captain will do the same. Then, on the referee's mark, both players will turn around and reveal their hand to determine the winner. This will continue until one of the teams wins the best two of three. (The alternates will serve as monitors to assure no player changes his symbol at the last second). The entire losing team (alternates not included) must drink a single shot off Southern Comfort.
Event #6-TRASH BALL (Individual)
To commemorate the game that birthed itself at Bradoween, one player from each team will attempt to bounce a child's ball into a small trash can at a distance of six feet. If he makes the shot and his opponent cannot counter with a successful shot, the successful shooter wins. Starting order will be decided by a single game of Roshambo. The loser of the contest will drink a single shot of Southern Comfort.
Event #7-CHEEZ MANIA (Individual)
In an homage to last year's wildly successful Team Cheese Ball Eating contest, this year, one member from each team will attack a regular sized canister of cheese balls. The first one to finish wins. The second one to finish has to do a shot of Soco (God help him). The referee will monitor and assure that the player is eating the balls and not dropping them on the ground.
Event #8-FLIPCUP (Team+Alternates)
All members of both teams (including alternates) will up on opposite sides of a table. Everyone will have a cup half full of beer. Beginning at one end of the table, on the referee's signal, the first two players on each team will chug their half-beer. When the beer is empty, the player must flip their cup over from right-side-up to upside-down. This will be achieved by placing the cup on the edge of the table, right side up, with half of the cup off the table. Flip the cup over by flipping it with a finger or fingers from underneath. When the player has achieved his goal, the next person begins the process which continues in relay fashion until the entire team has finished. The first team to finish wins. Each member of the losing team must drink a shot of Southern Comfort.
Event 1: G-Rob crushed Marty in Roshambo. Team Good jumped out to an early lead.
Event 2: Derek was chosen to "take one for the team" and arm wrestle Bad Blood. G-Rob was humilated the night before at the Bait Shack, so Derek stepped up knowing he was going to lose. He didn't even flinch when Bad Blood entered to some theme music. Derek simply picked his nose and scratched his balls to try to get Bad Blood on arm wrestling tilt. It didn't work. Derek drank his losing shot like a man. Action was tied.
Event 3: The bottle toss took place and Al lost to Dr. Jeff who went the Rick Barry way of throwing his bottle. We were behind.
Event 4: Instead of Caps we moved up Trash Ball. Since I'm a NYC playground legend, I figured I could do it. I lost to Otis who sunk his shot on the first try. According to G-Rob's entry, "Otis cheats. Pauly takes his shot like a champ."
Event 5: Team Good dominates the Team Roshambo event. Team Good pulls a little closer.
Event 6: Lefty pulled an upset and beat Big Mike in the cheez puff eating contest. In just 7.5 minutes Lefty made Brad-o-Ween history. That win put us even closer to victory and Left sealed his team MVP performance with an impressive feat.
Event 7: We finally found bottle caps and me and Al lost. As G-Rob put it, "Otis cheats."
Event 8: We almost pulled out the victory when Daddy came from behind to beat Iggy during Flip Cup. So close! We'll get them back next year.
The events after Drunk-a-Lympics were a blur. I lost two plus hours in there. I do recall a few things like:
1. Several of the Smith clan climbing trees and Mrs. Otis wigging out.I spotted the Al Cant Hang Experience Table. All you had to do was stop by his booth and live life through Al's world. The ride was free and you got to wear a wig, glasses, smoke a Marlboro, and do a shot of SoCo.
2. Derek puked on the lawn and Mrs. Otis wanted to give him a prize.
3. The hottest girl at the party was jail bait.
4. I hung out with Uncle Ted after he took care of business.
5. Bad Blood passed out and had to be carried back to the mini-van.
6. Derek and Al Cant Hang moved a passed out guy on Otis front steps.
7. I did a shot of tequila with Maudie.
8. Watched the Al Cant Hang Experience.
9. Saw Otis almost fall down.
10. Called Wil and Halverson for a Dial-a-Shot.
Wet T-Shirt Contest
I was hanging out in front of the lawn with G-Rob when we saw Dr. Jeff pulling the garden hose away. He muttered, "Wet t-shirt contest." And we ran over to the garage. I got a front row seat to the debauchery. One of the Hooter's girls actually flashed her boobs. Oh my. Here are a few shots:
The rest of the night was a blur and I don't recall too much aside from seeing Otis point at something in his freezer. When most of the party started to break up around 3am, I called for a cab who got lost on the way to Casa de Bad Blood. We eventually found our way home and Mrs. Blood was up while Bad Blood was out cold.
I attempted to describe Brad-o-Ween in several thousand words for you and I feel that what I wrote will never be enough to fully explain the events of this past weekend. You simply had to be there to get the full vibe of what went down. However, if there was one picture that could sum up Brad-o-Ween, it would be this:
Happy Brad-o-Ween 5!
FYI... the Bash at the Boathouse is just 32 days away.