Ante up with Pocket Rockets Poker at Sue Ellen’s

A real reason to put on your poker face

“Lots of people are intimidated by poker, but we’re really friendly,” Teller assures. “[My partner, Aaron Ahamed and I] were nervous our first time. The one thing we do at our league is, we emphasize good sportsmanship. I really feel that enables us to bring in new players.”

Poker beginners and experts convene Tuesdays at Sue Ellen’s to join in on Pocket Rockets’ poker tournament for cash prizes and an all-around good time. Teller and Ahamed are knowledgeable hosts who will guide you along the shuffles and bets, while the ace players vie for top honors — for the night. Hands down, it’s fun.

Read about Pocket Rockets here.

DEETS: Sue Ellen’s, 3014 Throckmorton St. 8 p.m. Free. PocketRocketsDallas.com

—  Rich Lopez

DEALING with it

A LEAGUE OF OUR  OWN | Flirting can be used to your advantage when playing poker in a gay league. Just ask Pocket Rockets founder Jeff Teller. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Even with Lady Gaga’s advice, poker face does nothing to help the couch potato know when to hold ’em and fold ’em in gay traveling card tourney

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Playing for money without really playing for money is my kind of betting. With gas at three bucks a gallon, my wallet is screaming for help, but Pocket Rockets turns me into one high roller. All I really have to dole out is a couple of bucks for drinks and put on a poker face for some Texas Hold ‘em action at three clubs around the gayborhood. The best part — total exhilaration — comes even when my ass is handed to me by my opponent’s full house.

“We go out of our way to make sure people are comfortable in poker setting,” says owner Jeff Teller. “It’s just about fun.”

At Sue Ellen’s on a recent Tuesday, I got my game on. Activities that involve sitting while partaking of alcohol are ideal for the dedicated couch potato. The cardio behind it is just my speed at the deal … but seriously, poker is stressful. Thinking it would be all drinks and laughs, the “fun table” was just as serious as the tournament final table dealing across the dance floor. I’d played Texas Hold ‘em once before at some friends’ loft. Once. And that was three years ago. Without Cliff’s Notes in hand, I was about to be “that guy.” But once people figured I was the speed bump, they all pitched in to help.

“Lots of people are intimidated by poker, but we’re really friendly,” Teller assures. “[My partner, Aaron Ahamed and I] were nervous our first time. The one thing we do at our league is, we emphasize good sportsmanship. I really feel that enables us to bring in new players.”

By day, Teller is a yoga teacher and licensed massage therapist, but his interest in poker got him started on the path with his new company.

Poker isn’t new to Dallas gays: The Round-Up Saloon hosts a Wednesday tourney that goes on hiatus for a while after each championship. Pocket Rockets, however, runs continuously, offering prizes each night (which I didn’t win).

Teller says up to 45 players will play on any given night, which (as of now) takes place four times a week. Along with Sue Ellen’s on Tuesdays, Pocket Rockets hosts poker tourneys at TMC: The Mining Company on Thursdays and at the Brick Saturdays and Sundays. Teller and Ahamed plan to keep players going at each of those venues while adding more.

“We’re making an effort to get out there, be involved,” he says. “We started going and went to a couple of other leagues and thought how nice it’d be to put emphasis on gay community.”

My night of play, despite my half-hearted efforts in true CPAJ style, left me a total loser. My first plan of attack wasn’t working: Fold and never bet until people fell out of the game. This was not a good idea. Confusion led to checking which led to unfortunate bets. When I looked down I had less than 10 chips — just over a $1,000. This was the inevitable “fuck it moment” and I went all-in with a hand that I felt confident about … too confident as it turned out.

With an ace and a queen in hand and an ace and queen on the table, I had a strong two pair hand. I was edging, trying not to jump ahead to do my “in your face” dance. Something about a side bet would have put me back on track but another player won with his ace and king, also mirrored on the table. One other player had his ace but a weaker hand. It was climactic and the table rallied with “ohhhs” as each hand revealed.

“Yeah, there’s that drama because queens are playing,” Teller says. “ Some people take their game so seriously that you’d think the Super Bowl was going on. You can’t help the drama.”

I have no idea what he’s talking about.

Going in as a novice, margaritas and beers obviously did not affect my judgment, but Teller still gave me tips on how to be ready for the next time.

“Sense you’re players and if they are cute, that could work in your favor,” he says. “You can distract with flirtation and then all of the sudden take him out. And glute exercises, because sometimes you’re sitting for hours at a time.”

Wait, exercise? Ugh.

For more information, visit PocketRocketsDallas.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 25, 2011.

—  John Wright

America’s next top (role) model?

‘A List Dallas’ casting stuts out one gay couch potato even before getting started. You might be luckier

RICH LOPEZ  | lopez@dallasvoice.com

cpj
GETTING DOUCHEY WITH IT Wanna know how to go from d-bag to A-list? This writer may not know, but he’ll get you started. (Arnold Wayne Jones Dallas Voice)

Using my connections, I could get into most snazzy events in Dallas if I, you know, tried. I know enough highfalutin’ types to be able to drop a few names. This all comes with the territory of working for a newspaper — kinda A-list, right?

Maybe not so much. Along with all that comes a journalist’s salary, a nine-year old Ford Escape without a radio and a gym membership that rarely gets used. I might call it more D-list, though even Kathy Griffin is a rung up from me.

So when I heard The A List, Logo’s new reality series, was casting in Dallas, it was without question I’d need to apply. TV stardom could be my way to the big time, and since I can’t find a reliable Amazing Race partner, this could be my ticket. Already, thoughts of an auto-tuned dance album filled my head.

The first step was the online application, where I saw these words in the intro: “…presents the unprecedented invitation to the ‘A List’ in the age range of 20–mid 30s…” At 38, I might already be out of the game before filling in the first blank. But audacity is an A-list quality, so I proceeded. But I was gonna need help.

“Anyone can apply online, and if you fit what the network’s looking for, we’ll interview you,” said Chad Patterson, casting agent for the Dallas version of the show. “It’s my job to make each applicant an individual and stand out on their own.”

Patterson is in town this week through Dec. 19 doing follow-up interviews after an initial cut, but don’t think you can crash the sessions. Only those with stellar applications are invited to meet. (But you can still apply after he’s gone.)

As I filled in my name, occupation, etc., I halted at the blank for a MySpace/website address. Um, MySpace was A-list like five years ago. Hello! Maybe this is a list I don’t wanna be on.

The inevitable body image complex came up. The app asks for height and weight, which I get. Then it asked for my body type and waist size. Despite what Patterson told me, there seemed to be a specific response needed here.

“There are no wrong answers when applying to a reality show. This is all to uncover the reality of you,” he said. Yeah, but I needed more convincing that anything above a 31 inch waist wasn’t an immediate cut.

The app went on to ask about my relationship and if I have children; my personality type and why I think I’m fabulous — all easy enough. Then it listed celebs like Brad Pitt, Anderson Cooper, Madonna and Rachel Maddow as “dream date” choices. For some reason, Stone Cold Steve Austin wasn’t an option. This actually excited Patterson and he kinda made me believe I could be on the show. He’s that good.

“See? This is where your unique personality shines through,” he said. “You might be what we’re looking for, this anti-establishment guy who doesn’t buy into all the bullshit.” It was like he was looking into my soul over the phone.

What he doesn’t want, he said, is the self-entitled queen who thinks he’s fabulous just because. Patterson is looking for specifics as to what makes an applicant A-list material. A heavy helping of personality goes a long way, though he admitted he wouldn’t mind stereotypes.

“We do want to make it specific to Dallas so I’d love to find a gay boy who’s parents are in the oil business or even a gay cowboy. Stereotypes in certain regions will make it unique.”

Oh, that’s another thing: Patterson used the term “boy” a lot. This worried me.

“Yeah, it’ll be fun to have a few boys that are actually A-list, but we’re not ruling people out if you’re a go-go boy who’s broke but knows how to work it,” he said.

He wanted to offer one piece of advice to all the Dallas men (er, boys) who apply. Because there isn’t a guarantee the show will be cast like New York, there’s no telling the direction it could go.

“You shouldn’t decide it’s not for you before applying,” he said. “Just be open to it. There are no points off for anything.”

Until they read my application; which, at that point, it’s back to finding that Amazing Race partner.

To apply online, visit TheAList Casting.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 10, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

A star is born

MyStudio can make a singer out of anyone — even a couch potato

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

If Lindsay Lohan can piss away a career of fame with no talent, then I should be able to do just the opposite, right? Forget going through the casting couches and reality TV shows to make my mark on Hollywood — I’m hitting up

MyStudio for my break. Because if I can whip out a music video for 20 bucks and be the next big thing, well, then hot damn. Grammy here I come.

The plan is to use modern technology found at the mall to make headway into becoming a fame monster. That means a trip to Grapevine Mills and the new MyStudio HD recording studios. I decided a music video would be right up my alley, considering my singing chops are minimal and I look about as good on video as a mug shot. But I’m determined to bust out some karaoke on some Springsteen in high def brilliance.

Without confidence beyond my solo car concerts, I figured vocalizing and performing tips would be crucial, so I sought advice from Voice of Pride finalists Angie Landers and Robert Olivas. As perennial contestants in the local singing competition, they were fresh from this year’s cycle and flush with suggestions.

“If I’m gonna do a studio song, I need to feel and connect with it,” Landers says. “A big mistake is just not being prepared.”

Not a problem. Especially since MyStudio provides thousands of licensed karaoke tracks, I can just read the words. Olivas echoes Landers.

“I don’t sing it unless I feel it.  First, it has to be within your heart, it has little to do with the vocal cords.”

Sweet! Preparation and great singing voice can be checked off the list. Clearly, this is going to be easier than I thought. I can see the VMA already on my mantle; I can even imagine Kanye ruining my moment.

MyStudio isn’t just for creating karaoke vids. In fact, it’s serious stuff. Green-screen technology, song catalogs, professional studio recording and high def video lets anyone create quality looking work needed for auditions, resumes, modeling, comedy, personal fun — even dating.

And it’s a bargain compared to going through the usual avenues. Up to five minutes sets you back $20. Sure, you might need more to get the results you want, but if you can wrap a video in half an hour, you’ve probably spent way less than forking greenbacks over to a production company.

Landers wants to check my voice out so she leads me through a rendition of “Proud Mary.” After politely not cringing (personally, I’d say I killed it), she had an idea of my vocal range.

“You’re voice isn’t too bad. Just don’t take on anything too challenging,” she says. So, no Celine? “That would be a negative, but if you sang ‘Proud Mary’ you could begin with your slow passionate self and then come out like a diva.”

This is not lost on me. But if I go Tina Turner on the mike, I’ll need some help, and not by another singer. Olivas knows what I mean.

“Liquid courage helps,” he says. “First, know that alcohol can alter your tone and make you flat or sharp. Consider your voice a motor skill. But I have a tradition of taking a shot of tequila before going on.”

And who am I not to respect tradition? If it’s gonna push me through to music glory, I’ll drink whatever I need. Although, I can understand Lindsey’s approach better now.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens