Wild Bill's reflections on poker, sports, and issues facing the Gulf Coast. Wild Bill is one half of GCP, Plays, Coaches, and helps run Gulf Coast Poker Tour.



 Gene D is the other half of GCP. Gene shares his outlook on the local and national poker scene. His mantra is money won is sweeter than money earned. 


 Will Souther is the Poker Monkey. Take a look at his always entertaining views on the tournament poker circuit, gambling and life in general.  The founder of the Monkey Minions never sugarcoats it.



 Nolan Dalla.com is where you find the wit and wisdom of one of the most well known poker writers in the industry.   His home blog covers a wide range of topics written with that singular Dalla conviction.  



 Jonathan Little an all time top tournament poker earners, is from Pensacola and currently operates a coaching site, which includes his blogs and videos you can find it here.



 BEN SAXTON is writing a poker book based on the Gulf Coast scene.  Here is an archive of interviews and features of poker players from all over but with a spotlight mostly on our locals.


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GCP: So let's get started how excited are you basically living every poker player's dream:  chip leader heading into the final table of the Main Event?

Joe:  I'm stoked, it's been a crazy ride since day one to the final table.  I can't wait to finish it off and bring it home to Metairie.

GCP: You've long been an active player in the Metairie bar tournaments, even as you've traveled the local circuits, and played for much higher stakes. Those are a bit of your roots. Have you heard from those folks?

Joe: Yes.  People have been texting me and asking for all the ways to follow at home.  When will it be televised, will it be streamed is there a way to follow it....  Unfortunately, I won't be able to see them until after the tournament as I'm staying in kind of a bubble in Vegas until the final table.  I flew my fiancée Victoria out here and my son Kole to spend Christmas together.  It was Kole's first time flying and he got to come into Vegas at night and see the strip lit up.  I made sure to get him a window seat on that side.  He gave the flight a 5 out of 5.

GCP: What are you covid plans?  Or better put, what are your plans to keep from getting it?

Joe: So, we have just gotten the house and are holing up.  I bought food from Walmart and did the pick up.  We'll be here not seeing anybody until we have to.  On the 26th I have to go to the Rio and get my first test. Then quarantine there.  Take another test on the 27th.  We play on the 28th.

GCP: So with the rules this year, we were talking beforehand, ironically before we knew it would be our friend who was the chipleader and would be in this exact scenario--just how insane it could be if somebody had a big chiplead and then tests positive.  In that case the WSOP takes your chips out of play and pays you 9th place money.  Which are the rules this year if any of you test positive for the virus.  Especially for you that would be so unfair. If your stack was in play and just blinding out your opponents couldn't just wait you out.  Who knows where you'd finish but most likely not 9th.

Joe: Yeah, I mean I think it's unfair they wouldn't let stacks blind out but they already had a player not show for the GG final table in Europe and that's what they did.  I've heard most of our final table are from, or played in, New Jersey.  Think most of them, 7 maybe, are traveling right before hand.  I'm lucky I came out here to play and could just stay.

GCP: Not 100% sure why they do it that way. It may be they thought it would make for bad tv, with just a stack and an empty seat there.  Although arguably it would create it's own uniquely 2020 drama and intrigue. It'd add such a compelling level of strategy, right.  It'd probably be interesting to see how people adapt to that dynamic.

Joe:  Right and what if you test false positive.  I think that's why the test us twice to make sure.

GCP:  Yeah, don't catch covid and you got to fade the false positive.  Such a strange format.  We didn't follow as much as we normally would have because we didn't think too many local folks were out there.  We knew Corey Harrison was playing and we looked for his name and didn't see it on day two. Then I got your text that you were like 26th out of 28th, and so we jumped on that twitch feed to watch.  How does it feel to be the chipleader in the Main Event in the context of this weird year where nobody can be there in person for your rail?

Joe:  It's insane and is weird.   You know my son asked me what we are going to do while he's out there and I said I have to leave on Saturday to go quarantine and he said, what do you mean?  I'm told him I have to do that to go play this final table.  It's crazy, I can't have a rail.  I have shirts made for it, thanks to Tana Karn of RunGood, and I can't even see the people wearing them.  

GCP: You know your rail would have been rowdy...

Joe: Haha,  Yeah. Also a disadvantage for us in that other years you'd be able to go to your rail and get hands histories but this year none of that.  You can't go back thirty minutes and find out the hole cards and see what people are playing.

GCP: It is strange also this year in that you win your final table but you don't get a bracelet.  Essentially you have to win two heads up matches.

Joe: Right. Damian Salas has already won the GGPoker table, I think he's finished 6th or 7th in a Main before, and he'll play our winner for a million dollar freeroll and the bracelet.

GCP: It is certainly a 2020 format.

Joe: Yes, it's been a crazy year.  You know this summer in July, I came out here to play the online WSOP and my roommate Mike Lech won a bracelet.  We celebrated and it was so much fun. I won a satellite into the $3200 event the next day.  Was chipleader with 36 left and finished 34th.  I was super stoked that I got that deep. I flew back home on the 25th of July. My mom was excited I was coming home and I had texted her video of Mike dancing when he won.  She was super excited for him.

I texted her I wish I could have gotten a bracelet and I didn't know how many more chances like that I'll get.  She texted back what will be will be.  Then she passed away three days later from a pulmonary embolism.  I did not get to see her in those three days after getting home.  I just saw her in the hospital.  I saw her last her when she took me to the airport to go out to Vegas.  We pretty much talked every day so it's been a rough ride.  I had to take a two month break from poker. My first return to poker was when I saw you guys in Pearl River Resorts for your recent event there. I chopped a tournament there with Preston McEwen, got the trophy and I finished 7th in the Main Event as well.

2020 has been so strange.  I started it with a great run in January at the Beau and I thought I was going to have a great year poker wise and then all of sudden covid happens and then my mom passes away.  To somehow end it with a win for her would mean the world to me. So now it's #ForLinda.  And now "and Pops."

GCP: Pops, that's another loss for you. He just passed.  Joseph Tiguero (pictured above) was a dealer and a fixture in the local bar games that you were close with too.

Joe:  Yes, everybody loved Pops. He was just a great guy with a huge heart.  It's really sad.  2020 has been rough.  And of course Ron Held passed away earlier in the year from Covid. I was so happy that he got his ring before he died. 

GCP: We were talking to his son Ryan and he mentioned how if his Dad was alive he'd be on the computer hitting refresh over and over cheering for you Joe and he said it's sad his dad can't be here to rail.  Ron (pictured left) was one of those guys if somebody local or from the region was doing something he knew about it and was following them.  Just a great supporter of the poker community and always there with a word of encouragement.

Joe: Yes, exactly Ron would text me all the time.  Saying you got this Joe or he'd be one of the first to congratulate me after a win.  

GCP: So you have been carrying a lot of emotional weight and still produced good results this year.  Has it somehow helped you play better?

Joe: I think it has... you know all of day two I felt like my mom was there with me.  And I felt like she was telling me to fold.  I started the day like 41 or so out of 72 and for the first couple to three hours, I really never had any playable hands and my stack just dwindled and dwindled. I kept surviving.  I never went all in.  Then I was 24 out of 26 and out of nowhere I went on this crazy heater.  I woke up the next day I was chipleader, it was almost a blur.

GCP: It did seem like you kind of started running over the tables a bit. 

Joe:  It felt like players started playing not to lose and I was able to open it up a bit.  I think I was able to take advantage of people tightening up.

GCP: What are you doing in the meantime?

Joe: I'm going to be watching videos. Playing online on WSOP.com.  I'll be talking to Michael Lech (pictured after bracelet win).  I met Lech in 2015 in Punta Cana and we started traveling together in 2018.  He's been a great role model and he's a great guy.  Also, got BJ McBrayer in my corner as well. 

GCP: Think highly of those guys. BJ is another great player in the region we have a lot of respect for both as a player and a person.

JOE: A few other guys from our area have been influential like David Nicholoson has been helping out as well and Scott Hall from Arkansas. And Dan Lowery. You know Dan's a crusher. Also need to mention Michael Hallen and Pasha Esfandiari.

GCP: That's a great group of players to have in your ear.  Personally have played with Michael Lech three maybe four times and what stood out is he played different every single time and played well in every style. More so then maybe anybody else I've played with.  He was lethal as the most aggressive player at the table and just as dangerous as a passive player.

JOE: Michael adapts.  He's great at playing against what the table is doing.  Its why he's so good.  Something I hope rubs off on me.  And Ben Thomas is so good with the numbers and the math.  I had told my mom how much they helped me out and how grateful I am they came into my life.

GCP: Ben, from Baton Rouge (pictured below) is certainly a staple on the live scene in the region, and always seems to be going deep in tournaments.

JOE: And he's a really good guy too.  Ben's been a very pivotal player in my life.  I just feel like since I started traveling with him around 2017 and we started talking poker it just started to make so much more sense.  And you guys as well.  Ya'll have been there through it all.  I can't leave you guys out either.  It's been a journey. 

GCP:  Thanks, Joe. It's pretty impressive considering all the things you've had to deal with this year. Just the loss of friends and family but you've probably also had one of your best years poker wise...

JOE: 100% it's been one of my best years poker wise even with the break I took and covid limiting everybody's options.

GCP: Do you think you've gotten better and now are seeing the results?

JOE: I think I've gotten better and it's more just understanding poker more and what goes into it. You can play a hand correctly a lot of different ways, but if you can understand a player and the logic he's using then it changes everything.  Especially live you can see and do so much more in terms of changing table dynamics.  I feel like I've gotten so much better in that regard. 

GCP: We feel like this is something you deserve, you've earned and this isn't beyond you.  You'd be a worthy Main Event champion and we think you are going to do really well at the final table.

JOE: It's tough to even think you can be that good to win the Main Event. You know I'll never think I'm the best or some great player.  If I win this I'll still be playing at the bar games.  That's just me.

GCP: It's funny we've talked about these hypothetical scenarios and you are living it.  Chipleader at the Main Event.  We've always said a similar thing if we ever were lucky enough to do what... you could do (!) what would we change? We'd like to think not much.We'd joke people would think we were broke because we'd still be playing the local weeklies and lower No limit cash games because we love it and enjoy the people we play with.

JOE: For sure.

GCP: Let's get into the action on day two--as we haven't really talked about any hands. One of the hands I remember the under the gun player put like 95% of his chips in.  Gets to the small blind who rips and then you in the big blind with... Ace King rip and then that dude has a decision.  Because I'm pretty sure there was a pay jump. 15K?

JOE: Yeah, tough scenario for him and a tough spot for me with Ace King for me.  He called. And I won that big hand.  But it went the other way when I doubled up Ryan Hagerty when I had Ace Queen and he had King Jack in maybe a 6 million chip pot.  I get to 13 million then if I hold and he's out.  I wasn't that worried about it at the time because I was running hot.  Right after that I got right back in and after it.

GCP: It looked like you were in one of those zones where you were kind of seeing everything at that point. If ya'll played it out that night feels like you would have won.

JOE: I felt good at the end as I was chipping up.  I couldn't sleep the night before, I was nervous because as ya'll know I satellited in for $325. I was also chipleader in a ring event with nine people left just before this and I ended up getting ninth. We were all pretty short stacked in relation to the blinds.  I had queens on the button. Small blind raised and big blind jammed all in and he was second in chips and I was first.
I called it off and he had AK.  He hit a king on the river. So pretty deflating and it crippled my stack.  If I win the hand I'm in great shape.  But I had the same exact hand happen in the main.  I had Queens in the hijack open, button raises and big blind shoves.  I call it off and he's got Ace King.  But this time the Queens held. I'll take that all day.  Lose the flip there but win it in the Main.

GCP: The butterfly effect in poker is so weird to play out scenarios. Crazy thing is you win that flip there you probably don't final table the Main this time.  Everything is different.  Maybe you play a different satellite, register at a different time who knows?

JOE: Right, sometimes in a specific tournament you make one good fold you end up winning it, you make one bad fold you lose it.  There were so many spots where I could have jammed in the Main and I just held off--and I would have lost.  The hands are shown and I would have been out. One time I had Ace ten suited in the hijack where I'd normally jam with 12 big blinds. I just thought about it for a bit then I folded.  Button wakes up with queens and big blind with Aces and yeah that would been it.

GCP: Any other big hands that stood out?

JOE: There was a pivotal big hand in the beginning I had like 28 bigs, and this guy was playing pretty wide open I felt, so he opened again, somebody 3bet, and I shoved with fives.  He called with sevens and thankfully I turned a five.  That kind of put me on my way.

GCP: Yeah we were going nuts back in New Orleans and Houma for sure as we followed late.  I scared my kids and my dogs hooting and hollering.  How do you think the transition will go from online to live?  You'll be comfortable in a live setting right?

JOE: I think it might even help me out.  We shall see.  Some of these guys have played a lot of live tournaments too.  Definitely got my work cut out for me.

GCP: Thanks for your time Joe, we and a lot of other people will be pulling for you.  Do it #forlinda (Joe and Linda pictured right) #forpops #forron!