Saturday, November 18, 2006

Easy Eddie

Easy Eddie was born May 21, 1951 in the Washington DC area. At age 6, he witnessed his mother being murdered. He was abused during the fall of 1965 in a way that profoundly affected his personality and his choices for years to come.

I first encountered Easy Eddie (known by the screen name ‘Woodstied’) approximately three years ago in an online poker tournament. He was the first consistently loose-aggressive player that I ever struggled with at the poker table. Learning to play successfully against his type was a key hurdle in my growth as a tournament poker player. I owe him for lessons that he never knew he gave me.

Woodstied is one of many friends I have had the pleasure to meet through pokerschoolonline. Pictured above are {left} Sailor Moe (Leon) and Bhat (Larry) and above them are {left} Expatcr (Bill a/k/a the Costa Rican bandit) and thehazyone (Aaron). These were taken during my trip to Minnesota in October 2006.

Ed made his living as a carnival operator and occasional telemarketer until a stroke slowed him down in the summer of 2005. Neither of those jobs, nor his occasional visits to the underbelly of society, resulted in any health or disability benefits beyond the standard V.A. package available to U.S. military veterans.

About a year ago a woman named Karen made an online appeal on Ed’s behalf. I responded at the time, but was left with the lingering thought that I needed to do more to help him. Last month I was fortunate to win some prize money at Canterbury Park (Minnesota). The result was an opportunity to help a friend in need. So I contacted Ed with a proposition.

Two nights ago Easy Eddied walked off a plane at Seattle-Tacoma airport and I met him face-to-face for the first time. His one suitcase held all of his worldly possessions. Chef Billy and I took him to his hotel room and yesterday was spent shopping for shoes, clothes and other essentials. Today we will play in our first live poker tourney together. I put up a $50 “last longer” prize and a $100 bounty on my own head. My advice to him: “Play tight and don’t bluff off your chips.” We’ll see what happens…

Tomorrow Easy Eddie and I will head from Seattle to Albany NY via Amtrak. I have no idea what might be in store. Stay tuned.

Here is Karen’s original post (edited slightly):

September 2005

(note: PSO here and elsewhere stands for an wonderful online learning site known as "pokerschoolonline")

Hi all,

I am not sure if anyone knows about PSO member, WOODSTIED, or Ed (real name) who had a stroke in July and is recuperating but monitoring his blood pressure checking it every hour because his Doctor told him he can expect having another stroke in the near future. Ed also has a debilitating condition with his legs. With all his health problems he also suffered damage from Hurricane Ophelia that hit the Carolina's before Katrina. A tree smashed down on the house crushing his bed, which by the way I would like to mention here that Marion a/k/a Buschman sent Ed some money to replace his bed, not the Red Cross, not FEMA. No, it was a fellow PSO'er that did. Very nice of you Marion!

The reason I am telling you all this is because I am hoping some of you will join me and chip in to collect enough to buy Ed an annual membership to PSO. Ed's current membership is about to expire. Here's the thing. Ed is a Vietnam Vet and this is the part that makes me very angry, because of his health problems he is unable to work and has no income, well except $46 a month I think, but other then that he has nothing while he waits for a decision about SSDI benefits. Dealing with the government can be a very frustrating and time consuming nightmare! For Ed, it has been just that and he is being told that it will take at least 120 days, that is 4 months before they can process a decision for SSDI benefits, They do not care that he recently suffered a stroke. They don't care he has a leg disability and cannot work. And they really could care less that a Hurricane caused damage to their home, and so on and on this goes.

This is unbelievable to me that our Military personnel, retired or otherwise, who in this case put his own life on the line for this country & was in a WAR, would be treated with such disregard! It is wrong and it is unacceptable. Unfortunately, it is the reality. I am hoping to change that a little. You see, PSO and playing Poker had been a form of therapy for Ed during his recovery process. His Doctor thinks it is a good thing for him and his health as long as he enjoys it and he stays calm. So I was hoping we could help Ed out during this bump in the road and pay for his PSO membership. I can find out from Tina what the best way to do this would be. For those who want to help, thank you and just post here. I will contact you will the details.

It is hard for me to express myself when it comes to pen & paper and I hope I have said it here in a way that is proper and tactful to Ed and his situation. Thank you for listening and I hope you will join me in helping a friend, one that does not deserve such a heavy cross to carry.

Bless you & yours


(Note: Ed’s membership was extended at no charge by PSO owners Tina and Mark. Subsequently, more than $2,000 was transferred to Ed from PSO members – Frank N.)

My response at the time (after offering to pay his membership and getting some positive feedback):

October 2005

There's a reason I am willing to pay Ed's membership in PSO (several actually) and I do not wish to be compared to those not in a position to give more or to those who can offer a whole lot more. It's what I wish to do for him. I believe he would do the same for me if situations were reversed.

I have never met Woodstied in person but I feel like I know him well. During mid 2004 I saw him hour after hour, day after day on the PSO tournament tables. Ed is, among other things, a retired carnival worker. He shared stories about his carnie days which made me chuckle and remember my few road trips with the local carnival as a teenager...sleeping on the back of the Ferris wheel storage trucks and, well, I digress…

Later when I read Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet in Heaven I immediately thought of Ed. He has touched my life, and if/when you read the book you will understand why. After my 1997 stroke my doctors also told me to beware of another episode. It took six years but eventually a heart attack diverted me from my fun position as Executive Director of the U.S. Chess Federation and landed me here in Poker School Online. What a blessing in disguise!

Now I am writing my own book of inspirational stories. Surely my carnie memories, thanks to ED, will take up a few paragraphs and I will be certain to mention 'Woodstied'.

Best wishes,

Until two days ago, Easy Eddie was living a small community called Hubert, North Carolina. With his permission, and for the benefit of his friends, you will probably be able to follow his transition here. Next stop: The Suquamish Indian reservation in Kitsap County, Washington….in about three hours. Shuffle Up and Deal!

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