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I got on a plane to get home, but found out why my friend was murdered instead

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Today something very odd happened to me, and I’m writing it down here quickly to try to record every detail.

I boarded a flight in Denver, on my way back to Costa Rica this morning. I ended up sitting next to someone who looked familiar and I asked him if he played poker in Costa Rica. He said he had, and that I had looked very familiar to him as well. Then he dropped the bomb on me, saying “did you know Alvin….” He finished his sentence but I was a bit taken back and didn’t catch it. Alvin was a poker buddy who was murdered in 2007 and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “I was his roommate,” he continued and once again Alvin was the subject of the kind of surprise that floors you (when he died, a Costa Rican had joked to me about how the person in the news must be my friend because he was an American, and then I looked and it actually was).

Alvin had died in a gruesome scene that I won’t go into in detail except to note that three people had been found stabbed to death, Alvin had seemed to have killed two of them in the initial reports (that speculated about a love triangle gone wrong) and part of what made it hard for me was that I didn’t know what had happened, I didn’t even know if my buddy Alvin had started it. And because he was a poker buddy, and I didn’t even know his last name or anything it didn’t seem like I’d ever get closure on this. He was just one of those guys you knew from seeing all the time but whose family and friends were strangers to me. It’s not like I’d hunt down his family to try to find out what had happened.

But today, serendipitously I found out what went down by happening to sit next to his former roommate and co-worker from Pokerstars on the plane. I won’t go in to the gory details (that were hard, but relieving to hear) but I will say that it appears to have been a case of Alvin being the kind Alvin I knew and that the other two had begun stabbing him in his sleep in order to rob his place. He was left for dead but got up and killed them both while they were loading up his stuff in his car to take away.

It’s hard to explain, but I am so very deeply relieved to find out that Alvin was the victim of their disgustingly stupid plan to rob him as opposed to what else could have been the case to make him kill two people. Back when it happened I thought it was the case, and I stopped walking around with a wad of thousands of dollars like he used to (it’s a poker thing, we need to carry money to be able to buy into the games), but the story the newspapers tried to sell about a love triangle left a little doubt in my mind that he might not have been the kind person I thought he was. It is insanely weird to find out this way so much later that this doubt can be put to rest, but it feels strangely peaceful to do so.

Rest in peace Alvin, you were good people and you went out strong against those fucking bastards. I may be a bad person for saying this but I’m glad you killed them, what they did to you was nothing short of disgusting after the kindness you showed them and how you let them into your home.

Don’t burn the queen….

Monday, May 25th, 2009

A few years ago I was playing a tournament and was nearing the bubble without many chips. I needed to commit to a hand soon, or the blinds were going to bust me. I was dealt a queen, and then another queen that flipped over before I quickly slapped my hand over it to try to save it from being burnt. Nobody saw the card but the dealer insisted on burning it anyway, denying me the pocket queens that would have kept me in the tournament.

Today I played a brief 1/2 session which ended on a similar note. I played my first hand (KQ) in a multi way pot that nobody hit and I was able to take down and it gave me some chips to play with and I promptly moved off my cards and stole small pots to quickly build up my stack. Then right after I changed gears I was dealt Aces, which got 3-way all in action against kings and 3. The player with the 3s said he thought he was in last place pre-flop but wanted to “gamble” and it paid off for him as he spiked a 3 and ate most of my session profits.


Keeping the poker streak alive… and wishing the poker players would

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

Tonight was a decent night at the poker tables. I’m no longer playing full-time as most of my friends know, and play only a couple of times a month at most these days while I refocus my efforts on the web development and marketing and sure enough, now that I don’t do this full-time I can’t lose.

I haven’t lost a live poker session this year, and though I don’t know exactly when this streak started it’s been close to a full year now without any live losses. I won 2k+ tonight on the 2/5 tables. I wasn’t getting any hands, but picking my spots to steal the pots I needed to stay even. Then with pocket Jacks two people bet hard in front of me, one of them bet $300 and made me think a full minute about laying it down despite my read telling me this was a bluff.


RIP Alvin

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

I met Alvin playing poker, back when I was doing it for a living. I was playing late at night in the Horseshoe Casino in San Jose, Costa Rica and he came in to play. He isn’t the kind of guy you’d forget. He looked like a Samurai and he played very aggressively. He’d raise every un-raised pot and was good enough at post-flop play to almost break even most nights. Ultimately, it wasn’t profitable play and he knew it. But it was fun. And that was the point. He played for fun and made any table interesting. We loved his action and the action he’d generate and he was a pleasant and fun guy to hang out with around the poker scene.

We weren’t close friends but we’d sometimes go out to eat or hang out before, after or in between the poker sessions. I haven’t been much of a partier since moving in with my girlfriend and he always said we should hang out more and since I knew he was pretty bored in town with only gambling as entertainment in most of his free hours I always promised that we’d go party some time.

He lived close to me and a few times I gave him a ride to his house after the games. I can’t say I had the honor to call him a good friend but I liked the guy. He had a child-like earnestness about him. Everything you said he’d think about very hard and say what he thought, whether he thought you were right or wrong yet he was never argumentative. He just seemed to think very hard on everything.

Anyway, last weekend I heard some foreigner was murdered in Escazu, where I used to live and my friends jokingly asked if it was me or one of my friends. It was a pretty shocking crime, as 3 people were found stabbed by kitchen knives.

For some reason when I heard the description of the scene I thought of Alvin as roughly fitting the description. You don’t really expect such fleeting fears to be true but I spoke to a mutual friend and he asked me if I’d heard about Alvin. “It was him?” I asked. When I found out my girlfriend looked up the news online and warned me that it was pretty graphic. And it was, the photos of him aren’t easy to forget.

The newspapers didn’t know anything but didn’t hesitate to speculate that it was a fight over the woman who was also found stabbed and dead. But later the newspapers reported that Alvin had seemed to indicate that the man and woman with Alvin had intended to rob him in broken Spanish as he was dying. Whatever the case is, I’ll likely never know why Alvin died and it seems so very weird.

It’s been bothering me more than I thought. I’ve been less patient and a bit more stressed. I guess I won’t be able to keep my promise to Alvin to go party with him sometime, but he’d understand. He was a good guy.