Friday, June 30, 2006

Fox Sports Poker

I wrote the lead story for the poker section on Fox Sports. Here's the article called 2006 WSOP Preview. It was just published. Take a peek.
Bad Moon Rizen Leads the Pack in PLH

Performify tipped me off that his buddy Rizen (nee Eric Lynch) is currently the chipleader in Event #3 $1500 Pot Limit Hold'em. He's up against two Full Tilters.

Here's the final table players for Event #3 including chip counts (courtesy of Poker Wire):
1. Rizen (aka Eric Lynch) 455K
2. Rocky Enciso 247K
3. Rafe Furst 222K
4. John Juanda 147K
5. Burt Boutin 140K
6. C.K. Hua 122K
7. Rick Chase 95K
8. Alan Gilbert 88K
9. George Bronstein 15.7K
Dewey Tomko bubbled off the final table. Also going deep and making the money were Matt Hilger, Randy Jensen, the newest member of Team Poker Stars Victor Ramdin, Amnon Filippi, 2005 bracelet winner Isaac Galazan, Dan Alspach, Bryan Micon, The Grinder, Jesus, Randy Holland, Chau "Chow" Giang, Erica Schoenberg, and Brandon Schaefer.

By the way, if you piss next to me, then you make a final table. CK Hua did just that the other day and now he's trying to win a bracelet! Which means that one of these guys will make a final table sometime next week.
Last 5 Pros I Pissed Next To...
1. David Singer
2. Chris Bigler
3. Eric Mizrachi
4. Hoyt Corkins
5. Tex Barch
Otis will be doing excellent coverage of the event since Rizen is a Poker Stars guy. Poker Wire will be following Juanda and Rafe. The Tao of Poker will be following Widespread Panic. I'm off to Hollyweird for the weekend. Be back Monday.
Poker Divas and Radio Days

Pauly, Liz, BJ, and Foiled Coup

For a third day in a row, I'm stooping to a new low and pimping Liz Lieu one more time. Can you blame me? She's cool. Funny. Smart. Hot. She crushes the competition. And she reads my blog. Everyday.

I ate dinner with Grubby at Kahunaville in Treasure Island. I ordered the Aloha Lime Chicken and the Big Kahuna Sundae for dessert. After dinner, I wandered back over to the Rio and ran into Liz and Wendy Measley. They both thanked me for linking up Liz Lieu and sending her a ton of traffic. Liz was especially excited and whipped out a sexy photo of herself. She autographed it for me.

When I walked into the media room, I noticed that Otis was on the floor and away from his work area. I left the autograph sitting on his laptop. When he saw it, he flipped me the finger.

Otis on "hot-poker-chick tilt" is hilarious to witness.

He was excited to tell me about his dinner with SNL alum Norm MacDonald, but as soon as he saw the autograph he knew that was nothing compared to getting autographed pic from the lovely and talented Liz Lieu.

* * * * *

When I walked into the Rio, Max Pescatori told me in passing that he translated two of my articles for his Italian poker site. Wow. I'm honored because that was the first time any of my work has been translated into a different language. Unless you count "Jive" as a language.

When I spoke to Nolan Dalla for a few minutes, he congratulated me on the Bluff Poker Radio gig. He also mentioned that how it was important that I got to cover this year's WSOP.

"You're writing is excellent. I'm a huge fan," he said.

Nolan is one of the people I respect the most in poker. To hear that from him gave me more encouragement to ignore the chipcounts and hand histories and find the real stories of this year's WSOP.

I spotted BJ in the hallway trying to pick up one of the hot chicks who works for Image Masters... "I used to run marathons, you know."

I also saw Tanya playing in the $1500 Limit event. She was at Joe Sebok's table and gave me a big hug.

* * * * *

I did my first show on Bluff Radio. I give my performance a D+. I could have done much better. I was timid and when I spoke, I sounded awful. Everyone at Bluff thought I did a good job but I strongly disagree. We had a few minor issues like not having taped interviews ready when we ready to play them. Hopefully all of this will be ironed out over the next few days. But starting next week, Spaceman said that we're gonna be doing the 4 to 5 hour segment by ourselves.

We had Nick Geber leading the way in the three-man booth. We were set up right in front of the final table. Even Andy Bloch mentioned that we had the best seats in the house.

Nick Geber is British and has an amazing radio voice. He's a true pro and does soccer games for Fox. I felt intimidated sitting in the same booth as him. We interviewed Carlos Mortensen a few minutes after he was knocked out in 9th place in Event #2 $1500 NL. We also had Andy Bloch sit in and talk blackjack with us.

I was only supposed to do an hour and ended up doing two. I'll return to the airwaves on Tuesday and will not be appearing this weekend on Bluff Radio. I'm going out of town to Hollyweird for the weekend. I'll be back at work on Monday.

* * * * *

Event #2 completed a few moments ago. I posted a recap of Event #2 $1500 NL over at Las Vegas & Poker Blog called Cantu Can Do It. Take a peek.

Like I said earlier, Carlos Mortensen was eliminated in 9th place after edning the first day as the chipleader. Mortensen busted after losing three crucial coinflips. The event became wide open but Brandon Cantu from Vancouver, WA (not Canada) prevailed. He won his first bracelet and over $750K in cash. Not a bad take for three days of work. That's a quarter of a million dollars per day for those of you who are mathematically challenged.

Here's the final table results:
Event #2 $1500 NL:
1. Brandon Cantu (Vancouver, WA) $757,839
2. Mark Ly (Los Angeles, CA) 416,816
3. Drew Rubin (Hollywood, FL) $226,597
4. Lee Padilla (Modesto, CA) $176,579
5. Brent Roberts (Staten Island, NY) $151,570
6. Don Zewin (Las Vegas, NV) $126,940
7. Ron Stanley (Henderson, NV) $107,614
8. Mark Swartz (Phoenix, AZ) $88,668
9. Carlos Mortensen (Las Vegas, NV) $71,617
* * * * *

Stop by Las Vegas & Poker Blog to check out some of Flipchip's 2006 WSOP Photos. Here's a sample:

"You wanna go Pumpkin Head?"

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bluff Radio, Fossilman Makes More History, and Grubby's Secret Drawer

I will be a regular on Bluff Poker Radio (channel 125 on Sirius) for the remainder of the 2006 World Series of Poker. Spaceman asked me if I was interested in helping kill some dead air and I quickly agreed, especially since they are paying me off in blow and hookers.

At 4pm PCT or 7pm EST starting this Thursday June 29th, I will be appearing on Bluff Poker Radio for about an hour before they broadcast coverage of the final table at 5pm. I have no idea what I'll be doing/saying and will be making up stuff as I go along.

Unfortunately, you have to have Sirius Radio in order to listen to the program. If you have Sirius, I hope that you tune in and listen to the unofficial "Spaceman and Pauly Show" on Channel 125. This should be tons of fun because I can drink before the show and curse since it's satellite radio. Plus I get to work with my buddy Spaceman who is one of the producers of Bluff Radio!

I drank at the Hooker Bar with Otis again at dinner break. We both played the video poker as I sipped a Red Stripe and he knocked back Coronas and we discussed international politics and various complicated theories in quantum physics.

The video poker machines at the Hooker Bar are some of the loosest in Vegas. Last year Otis nailed quads four times and I pulled it off once. Definitely check them out. You might find yourself a lady of the night as well.

We were about to order another round when Friedman and Johnny Walker invited us to join them for dinner and drinks at the Tilted Kilt, an English style pub in the Rio.

I had never knocked back cold ones at the Tilted Kilt because the majority of my WSOP alcohol consumption took place at the Hooker Bar and occasionally at the Masquerade Bar. The waitresses were stunning and wore short plaid kilts. If you tried hard enough, you could almost see bush. The sultry waitresses looked like strippers dressed as catholic high school girls. Naturally, I was in heaven.

Our waitress named Lana liked me a lot. The big tip helped. I made a witty "Stella" joke while attempting my best Marlon Brandon impression. She laughed. And it wasn't one of those fake laughs. It was genuine.

I told Otis we'll be drinking for the rest of the WSOP at the Tilted Kilt.

* * * * *

Greg "Fossilman" Raymer made history again at the WSOP. He took 63rd place in Event #2 after he pulled a move with a stop and go. He had all his money in the pot with the best hand... and lost. Here's how Otis described the hand:
4:13pm--Well, I've always had faith in Greg Raymer's ability to put a great read on his opponent. He did it this time, pulling a decent stop-and-go from the big blind. Raymer was actually ahead with his A5 on a 446 board against his opponent's K3. Then the board ran out runner-runner diamonds to give his opponent the flush and knock Raymer out in 63rd place.
Raymer also became the only player that cashed in every WSOP event that featured 2,000 or more players, which included the last two WSOP main events. That's an amazing feat.

When day two of Event #2 started, Carlos Mortensen held the chiplead. He would let it slip away. When it got close to the TV bubble, his big stack took two huge hits and he ended up fighting for his tournament life as the short stack with Jen Harman. The angelic Jen Harman ran into A-A with Big Slick and finished in 11th place. Carlos Mortensen fought back and doubled up when he woke up with pocket Aces. They held up against Drew Rubin's Hilton Sisters. He ended up making the final table and is 7th in chips.

Here's Event #2 $1,500 NL Final Table chip counts (courtesy of Poker Wire):
1 Brandon Cantu 753K
1 Lee Padilla 753K
3 Drew Rubin 573K
4 Mark Ly 516K
5 Mark Swartz 359K
6 Don Zewin 342K
7 Carlos Mortensen 337K
8 Ron Stanley 283K
9 Brent Roberts 260K
Paul Darden went deep and took 32nd place. Bill Gazes, Erik Seidel, Phil Gordon, and Devilfish all cashed. They made the final five tables but were all eliminated. The Devilfish started the day 5th in chips but could not advance. Phil Hellmuth didn't win his tenth bracelet, but he cashed for the 49th time in his career at the WSOP when he finished in 67th place. All of those pros outlasted 2,700+ other players.

Also getting busted and making the money today were Tuan Le, John Bonetti, Carl Olson, E-Fro, and Blair Rodman.

* * * * *
Random notes and thoughts...

You have to check out this revealing video that I made where I discover Grubby's Secret Drawer.

"I just saw a guy vomit on himself," Otis texted me as I was in the media room bullshitting with Nolan Dalla.

"Didya get a pic?" I texted back.

The lovely Liz Lieu sent me an email. She thanked me for all the traffic I sent her. Stop by her site and her journal. They also have a cool picture gallery. She sent me this pic that has not been published anywhere yet.

I'm a lucky guy when hot poker players like Liz send me "never-seen-before" pics of themselves via email. I hope to do a Q&A and an interview with her at some point over the next week or so.

I heard a hilarious story about one of the other media reps who met a hooker the other night. He didn't think she was a hooker at first. He was Albert Finney drunk and honestly thought that he picked up a hot chick. They started making out in his room and took the action over to the bed where she started jerking him off.

"If you want me to make you feel even more better, it's going to cost you $200."

He realized that the chick he had in his bed wasn't that easy, just one of those infamous Las Vegas hookers. He said he only had $20 left and handed her the last of his money... a $10 bill. He tried to negotiate a better deal as she teased his penis with her hands. He hoped that he could get off before she stopped stroking his salami.

She eventually persuaded him to go downstairs to the ATM. He also noticed that she snagged his $10 bill. As they started to walk out into the hallway she turned around and said, "Where are your shoes? You can't go out bare foot."

"That's right," he said and slammed the door.

* * * * *

You should be reading... Las Vegas & Poker Blog and Otis' Poker Stars Blog.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Bad Beat Princess

"I cracked his (famous TV poker pro) pocket aces," she shouted into her cellphone as she rushed down the corridor sliding past the steady flow of other players on their break. She was well tanned with perfectly manicured nails. She wore a baseball cap and carried a purse that was worth twice as much as the blue book value of Grubby's 91' Geo Metro.

"I cracked fuckin' aces with my sixes too. It was so freakin' cool. Just like on TV!" she continued in a thick Long Island accent. I put her on somewhere near the Nassau/Suffolk County border as she hid her eyes behind oversized $400 designer sunglasses.

Right now there's a famous TV poker pro sitting around a NL cash game bitching with his other famous poker pro friends about that donkey of a tourist who called off all her chips with two overs on the flop and then rivered her two outer.

It's just another Wednesday at the Rio. Even Daddy's Little Princesses have been infected with the crack-like symptoms of tournament poker. They're jumping into the fight handing out bad beats to pros quicker than they can drop $2K on a shopping spree.

If one of them with a pretty face gets lucky and goes deep into one of these early events, they are going to get swallowed up by a major sponsor. The 2006 WSOP used to be tiny tournament in the smoke-filled back of The Horseshoe downtown. Now the WSOP is big time. Poker players and big business reps are roaming the hallways of the Rio like the pimps and the hookers on Tropicana Avenue.

The online poker room suites are opening up soon which means more free food and liquor for me. Last year, Full Tilt set the standard with their suite which had excellent food and a mini bar. They also had other stuff like chocolate bars and gave away tons of free schwag. Ultimate Bet, Poker Stars, and Doyle's Room had been setting up their spaces as the Roofers Convention finally left town. And Full Tilt is going to pull out all the stops this year.

* * * * *

partypokerad.gifLast night, Andy Black and Vince Van Patten were playing cash games. I think it was $25/50 NL. I haven't had the chance to sit down and play yet. The tables were packed last night. I'm making an effort to play at some point today.

Like rockstars banging groupies, poker pros are jumping in bed from one online site to the other. Victor Ramdin used to be a Full Tilter. Now he's a Poker Stars guy. Otis has a picture of Ramdin from earlier today sporting a Stars shirt. Last year, Poker Stars were baffled when two of their guys Marcel Luske and Noah Boeken wore FT shirts at the "featured TV table" during last year's main event.

I spotted Robert Mizrachi (the brother of the Grinder) in a FT jersey. He's one of their new "friends of FT" along with Carlos Mortensen, who ended the first day of Event #2 $1,500 NL as the chipleader. The former WSOP main event champion is seeking his third bracelet as he began day two with a mountain of chips.

2,776 players bought into Event #2. That's the second most number of players ever for any WSOP tournament. The final table will start on Thursday. Action will play down to nine tonight.
Here's Event #2 final table payouts:
1. $757,839
2. $416,816
3. $226,597
4. $176,579
5. $151,570
6. $126,940
7. $107,614
8. $88,668
9. $71,617
When Allen Cunningham won this event last year, he took home $725K which represented 22.81% of the total prize pool. This year's winner will take home about $758K or 18.2% of the total prize pool. In all fairness, Harrah's is paying out 270 places this year to 200 spots in 2005 for this event.

Oh now back by popular demand!
Last 5 Pros I Took a Piss Next To...
1. Freddy Deeb
2. Jean-Robert Bellande
3. C.K. Hua
4. Noah Boeken
5. David Williams
* * * * *

I heard a story about the father/son prop bet between Doyle and Todd Brunson against Joe Sebok and Barry Greenstien. I'm going to investigate more and get the full details. I heard it was somewhere between $100K and 500K and it's based on total combined earnings during this year's WSOP. Stay tuned for more details.

Before I go, I have to let you know that some good friends of mine Tom Murphy and Mike "Lucky Blind" Lacey are headed to Vegas shortly. They are some of the coolest guys I met through poker at the 2005 WSOP. And they can drink. Lots.

Here's part of an email I got from Tom today:
Subject: The Irish Are Coming

There are SOOOOOO many Irish coming this year, its going to look like Paddy's Day for a month!

Seriously, the local clubs are worried there wont be the attendance for the tournies while we're all out there. Easily 15 of my poker buddies are coming. So, there will be a lot of us to drink with this year!We're looking forward to it too.
Can't wait for those guys to show up. One of my favorite stories involving them happened at the WSOP final table. For most of the night they constantly bought me and Otis hotdogs and Coronas. Every poker fan in Ireland religiously followed Andy Black's progress through the coverage on their site Antes Up. After Andy Black was busted, they were pissed and took off to drink heavily and gamble. They packed up their laptops and hit the road since they only player of Irish significance was eliminated. Their last WSOP post that read, "For the rest of the final table, go read Pauly's blog."

* * * * *

You should be reading... Wicked Chops Poker and Joe Speaker's The Obituarium.

Otis was on tilt from the second I saw him. He dropped a decent amount at the tables last night. He wouldn't tell me the specific details because it was a bad beat. Then he went on super-mega-tilt when I told him about my hallway encounter with Isabelle Mercier.

It was the start of the dinner break and I started walking down the corridor. One of the doors to the tournament room opened up and the captivating Isabelle Mercier appeared before me. That was one of those cool moments that makes this job kick ass. She was in a disguise of sorts and wore a hat and I almost didn't recognize her.

Without hesitation I said hello and went in for a double kiss. And I got it. Pauly 1, Otis 0.

She told me she had 9K in chips at the break. Her hat said "Deal" on it which is a new poker flick coming out that she appeared in. She also wore a sexy "material girl" shirt. Stop by and check out the picture Otis took of Isabelle earlier today.

I walked back into the media room with a shit-eating grin on my face. I gloated to Otis about the double kiss.

"I hate you," he said without looking up from his laptop.

"I've been getting that a lot today," I muttered rubbing my cheek in the spot where Isabelle had just kissed me.

At dinner break, Otis and I wandered off to the Hooker Bar and we ran into Grubby. He followed along with us to the bar. The bartender remembered us from last year. Grubby went Lebowski on us and ordered a White Russian. Otis had his standard Corona and I got a Red Stripe.

We bullshited for the rest of dinner break. On our way back to the media room which takes about six minutes to walk from the Hooker Bar to the actual WSOP tournament area, Lacey Jones and Lynette Chan walked towards us. The last time I saw both of them was at the Playboy Mansion a couple of months ago. They told me that they both busted. Lacey pushed with a straight and a nut flush draw and caught blanks.

Lynette pointed at my Red Stripe.

"I see that you are working hard," she joked.

"Hey I wrote 2,500 words today," I blurted out.

They both decided that number was high enough to allow me to drink on the job.

* * * * *

I was talking to Friedman in the hallway when Andy Black sauntered past us. He wore a backwards red Full Tilt cap and smoked a cigarette.

"You boys gettin' on all right?" he said in his Irish accent as a couple of tourists stopped and got excited about their random poker pro sighting.

Andy explained to us how he was disappointed with his performance over the first couple of days. He wanted to get off to a hot start at this year's WSOP but faltered.

"Tell me how the fuck I pissed away 900,000 in chips last night?" he asked.

He started the final table of the Tournament of Champions as the chipleader and made a bad move with K-9s against Mike Matusow's K-K.

Andy pulled out a fistful of $1,000 chips out of his pocket inquired about the cash games. I summed it up in one word, "Juicy."

"Well then, I got some work to do," he answered and wandered off.

By the way, here's my first Liz Lieu update. She's no longer is sporting blonde hair. She's back to the dark hair look. She said she prepped for this year's event by relaxing the past week and resting up. She worked on her tan and went shopping. She suggested that I cut down the length my blog entries.

"You write too much. You're posts are so long!!!"

Liz also told me how bummed out she was that she would not be participating as a member of the Elle Team where she would donate her winnings in the Ladies Event to the American Heart Association. She was going to be a part of the Queen of Hearts Team but Elle negotiated a sponsor from a different site that Liz is affiliated with. She's a part of Martin's Poker and said that's where her loyalty lies.

I ran into a fellow blogger Zeem Jr. who was playing in Event #2. I snapped a few photos and this one is the best one because you can see Phil Hellmuth sitting right behind him. Zeem was shortstacked after dinner break and ran his 2900 up to over 9K then lost it all when he missed a big draw.

Zeem at the WSOP

I spoke to Spaceman briefly. He was working on the Bluff radio show. I also met some of the hotties that they have working.

I had a long talk with Earl Burton from Poker News. He just completed a nine part series on the WSOP. Take a peek. He introduced me to their intern, Stephen, who happens to read my blog.

As I write this, the players in Event #2 just made the money. More than 2700 players entered the event which is a record for a non-main event WSOP tournament. They took alternates for this event and even had some tables 11 handed. Well, the top 270 players made the money and the money bubble just broke according to Otis.

Carl Olson, who is friends with Brandon Schaefer, eliminated Texas Dolly. And Phil Hellmuth busted Clonie Gowen. Hellmuth is still alive and will cash in this event. Hellmuth now has 49 cashes and is tied with Men the Master for the overall lead.

Event #1 finally concluded today. 18 players who are employed by a casino in one way or another returned for day two of their $500 buy-in NL event. One of the players was Marsha Wagonner, who happens to be the wife of Kenna James. Chris Gros from Henderson, NV beat out Bryan Devonshire from Minneapolis, Minnesota for the victory in Event #1. Gros won $127,616 and the first bracelet of the 2006 WSOP after his 3-4o cracked Devonshire's Big Slick.

Here are some random pics from today:

The railbirds flocked to Texas Dolly's table

Nice hat, Andy

Paul Darden

Phil's back

* * * * *

You should be reading... CC's Quest of a Closet Poker Player and Otis at Poker Stars Blog.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Flipchip Update

He was short on chips when he pushed all in with A-K. He had a race with J-J and rivered a King to double up. He had a little over 2K at that point and is sitting pretty with 2500 now.

At the table next to Flipchip was the lovely Lacey Jones. She's playing in eight or nine events, including the big one.

Lacey Jones

I bumped into Brandon Schaefer who just woke up. He's going to be playing tomorrow in the PL Hold'em event. I saw both Joe Hachem and Greg Raymer posing for pictures with fans. Right now I'm in the media room sitting next to Otis.

Another update...

6:15pm... Flipchip just busted when his A-A got snapped off by J-10. The opponent raised to 600 and Flipchip min re-raised to 1200. The guy called and flopped two pair. All the money went in on the flop and Flipchip busted out early.
WSOP Event #2 $1,500 NL Day 1 and Event #1 Casino Employees NL Day 2

I arrived at the Rio early after grabbing a Texas Toaster sandwich at Sonic. I wandered down the hallway for my first official day of coverage of the WSOP. Just a few hours earlier, Mike Sexton won the Tournament of Champions around 7am after he beat Daniel Negreanu in a grueling hads-up match. On the final hand, Negreanu had Q-Js, which is a monster in heads-up play. Unfortunately, he ran into Sexton's pocket aces. After flopping a gutshot, Negreanu moved all and Sexton quickly called. He ended up with a boat which sealed the victory. The WPT announcer won bragging rights and $1 million in cash.

"You know, Mike Sexton really needs that money too," Chris Fargis joked with me when I told him who won.

Congrats to Mike Sexton and to Daniel Negreanu who won $325K for second place.

The first thing I noticed as I walked into the Rio were the huge Milwaukee's Beast cans lining the corridors. There were more random booths this year too as online sites and poker merchandising companies pimped their goods. The media room is all the way in the back and I slowly made my way down there past the hordes of railbirds, fans, and players in today's $1,500 NL event.

The first person I bumped into was Jay "Big Shot" Greenspan. He's working for Full Tilt again this year.

"When am I getting a copy of your book?" I asked.

"In a few weeks," he said with an excited look in his eyes.

Jay's a real writer and his book is going to be some of the best poker literature to come out this year. I'm going to get him to autograph a few copies and then sell them on ebay.

I stumbled upon the PokerStars booth and found Otis. He looked like he hadn't slept in days. Immediately I was worried. Otis had the twenty-yard stare in his eyes that most of us WSOP reporters got last year after a few weeks in the trenches. It's only day two and we're losing Otis. We made plans to hit up the Hooker Bar later in the night.

I got in line and waited for my badge. In front of me were two Craigs. Michael Craig, author of The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King and Craig Cunningham (CC) were securing their media credentials as I patiently waited. I also ran into Johnny Walker from Card Player in the media room. He was busy and I promised to tell him stories about the Widespread Panic shows at Red Rocks.

CC snapped a photo of me and we hung out in the hallway for an hour or so. He's covering the WSOP for Poker Works. The official media room would not be set up for several hours. There was a conference of roofers going on next door. Michael Craig showed me some of his notes about the roofers. Last year we had those pre-teen dance/gymnasts roaming around the Rio. With all those degenerate gamblers, it was an Amber Alert waiting to happen. Today, we had to deal with a roofers convention. As soon as they clear out, the room will be ours and I won't have to sit on the floor in the hallway.

I found John Caldwell from Poker News. He invited me to a viewing party to watch Jen Leo's appearance on Mansion's Poker new show Speed Poker at the Poker Dome. I also have a seat in the audience and will be cheering her on Sunday July 9th. Congrats to Jenny from the Block!

I found Mrs. Flipchip who was there to cheer on Flipchip from the rail. He won a seat into Event #2 and was fighting a nasty cold hoping to advance to Day 2. Nearby were Celine Dion's husband Renee and Gavin Smith. Minh Ly stopped me to say hello and John Phan rushed passed the silky Carmel Petresco and her boyfriend Daniel Alaei aka "the luckiest guy in poker."

In the hallway, Amir Vahedi was posing for a photograph as I could hear the raspy, cigarette-stained voice of Minneapolis Jim Meehan.

"This place is a fuckin' zoo," he barked at me.

Ted Forrest was on his cell phone as he navigated the crowded hallway like a skier doing the Giant Slalom.

"It's a madhouse," I overheard him shouting into his cellphone as a family of five snapped photos with Jesus.

As I stood in the hallway, I took a few photos and said hello to Vanessa Rousso. The Miami law student recently signed a deal with PokerStars as a sponsor. I bumped into Chris "Triple Draw" Fargis who was on the "alternate list" for today. He said he was staying at the Rio for the duration of the WSOP and that he enjoyed my Bonnaroo recaps. We both commented on the quality of female talent that has been flocking to the rails. A few poker sites hired models again to wear tight clothes and wander around the Rio.

Today felt like the first day back at school when you see everyone for the first time since the summer started. I didn't realize how many random people I knew like dealers, suits at Harrah's and floor people from last year. I also forgot how many pros I knew. Jean "the Prince" Gaspard walked in about forty minutes late to event #2. He knew it was going to be a clusterfuck and came late to avoid the rush.

Here's a few pics from today:

Amir and a fan

Flipchip playing in today's event

By the way, Full Tilt has a 50% reload bonus up to $300 through midnight at June 29th. Take advantage of it.

Before I go back to wandering the floor, I want to introduce and thank my new sponsor Paradise Poker. They were kind enough to buy the "leaderboard" ad space which covered my expenses and then some. Thanks to Jason at Paradise Poker for having faith in the Tao of Poker.

That's it for now.

* * * * *

You should be reading... Iggy's Guinness and Poker and Chris Fargis' blog Twenty-One Outs Twice.

Monday, June 26, 2006

First Day at the WSOP: Buffets and Hookers 1, WSOP 0
"Your life is what other people's dreams are made of." - Betty
In true Hellmuthian fashion, I'm showing up late to the 2006 WSOP. I woke up today in Colorado after a weekend rumpus of music and high altitude partying with my buddy The Joker and his crew which included a smoking hot former Olympic female skier, a wedding singer, a sixth-grade science teacher, and a professional racquetball player. We drank too much and more fun that humans should be allowed. I also met fellow poker blogger Frankl. He gave me a ticket to Sunday's show and beer. Head over to the Tao of Pauly to see random pics, reviews, and setlists from the Widespread Panic shows at Red Rocks.

I do some of my best work when I'm strung out, hung over, and jacked up on pharmies. The words seem to flow smoother when I'm in that frame of mind. And after hanging out in the hippie enclave of Boulder for a weekend, my mind is warped after being drowned in patchouli and magic mushrooms. I'm now ready to tackle the toughest assignment of my life.

Well, almost ready.

I wanted to go to work today, but my flight from Denver did not arrive in Las Vegas until 4:20pm. That was too late for me to pick up my press credentials at the Rio. I drove home instead to do laundry and answer two hundred or so emails. Grubby and I planned on dinner at Green Valley Ranch, which is about a five minute drive from our apartment in Henderson. At the last second he suggested the Silverton Casino. He had an exclusive buffet for two coupon that was only eligible for Gold Members.

Going to a buffet without Grubby is like the difference between watching black & white TV and color. Or to be more sexually explicit... it's like the difference between having sex with a condom or without one. A buffet excursion with Grubby is like watching Jack Nicklaus play a round of 18 at Augusta National or witnessing Hemingway write The Old Man and The Sea.

Very few people can fully maximize a trip to a Las Vegas buffet and only a few people can make a visit to the buffet a true artform. Behold the greatness of the Poker Grub. He'll have a special announcement in a few days. And it's going to be a doozy.

I'm not staying at the Redneck Riviera this year. Thank God that I won't have to brush off the advances of $20 crack whores with poorly designed back tattoos. I don't have to worry if the homemade meth lab in the apartment upstairs is going to explode while I'm racing to meet a 5am PCT deadline. I have more posh surroundings this year in a gated apartment complex in Henderson that's complete with a pool where random strippers/hookers tan themselves in the late afternoons when the temperatures drop to the low 110s.

I have a car this year. Flipchip found me a rental for $100/week. I had a choice between a PT Cruiser, a minivan, or a convertible. I wouldn't be caught dead in a PT or a minivan, so the convertible was the easy choice. Grubby wanted to check out the car which I nicknamed "Bukow," which is short for one of my favorite writers Charles Bukowski.

We drove to Silverton with the top down. Luckily the temperature dropped to 109 degrees and we could enjoy the cool Las Vegas night. Silverton's buffet featured ten different flavors of gelato and I was in heaven. I always eat buffet desserts as my second course.

Photo courtesy of Flipchip

Since I skipped my first day of work to bust a buffet with Grubby and drive around town in a convertible funded by Fox Sports and Paradise Poker, I figured that I would make it a total blow-off day and head out to a strip club. I'm going to end this post quickly so we can have more time to grope cokehead lesbians. I'm gonna make up fake names and professions to the strippers I meet. Tonight my name will be Octavio and I'm a weatherman from Des Moines, Iowa. Grubby will be playing the role as Colby, a former Bible-salesman who now owns three car dealerships in Yuma, Arizona.

There was poker going on today at the Rio but I missed it. Flipchip was there and took some photos so stop by Las Vegas and Poker Blog to see check out some of the best WSOP photos. Event #1 started today which is the casino employees' event. Dick Gatewood from Sam's Town is playing. He helped me organize the first ever blogger's tournament in Las Vegas back in December of 2004.

The second day of the Tournament of Champions began. Unlike in past years, they decided to play this event before the WSOP instead of afterwards. The final table seat a few hours ago. Here's who made it:
TOC Final Table:
Andy Black
Daniel Bergsdorf
Darrell Dicken
Chris "Jesus" Ferguson
Mike Matusow
Daniel Negreanu
Kido Pham
Chris Reslock
Mike Sexton
It's good to see Atlantic City's Chris Reslock go far at the TOC. Mike Matusow made the final table again this year. He's the defending champion and took 9th in last years WSOP main event. Daniel Bergsdorf and Andy Black both made the final table of the WSOP main event with Matusow. Andy Black has become one of my favorite players after he dropped The Hammer at the WPT Borgata Winter Open back in January.

Last year in an article published on Fox Sports, I picked Daniel Negreanu to go all the way. He had an awful 2005 WSOP and made me look like I know absolutely nothing about poker. That might be true. I know very little about poker and I'm still shocked that I get to cover the WSOP. But I'm a good writer and I have the illusion of poker knowledge which is just as powerful.

There's a ton of pressure on me this year. Last year I was a nobody and if I failed, it never would have mattered. That's why I took the chances that I took. Lucky for me, those chances paid off. But this year, there are hundreds of thousands of frenetic poker fans expecting me to entertain them and inform them about the events at the largest poker tournament in the world. Those people believe in me along with a few sponsors that bought ads or the folks who hired me to write articles for them. If they are willing to put their faith in me, I have to step up and get the job done.

I'm not fooling myself. I know how difficult it's going to be cover this year's event with new restrictions placed upon the media. Plus there's gonna be several hundred other reps out there covering the same story. I have an edge. I roamed the halls of the Rio last year and aside from a few exceptions, I can describe the scene better than anyone else here.

The content and style of the Tao of Poker is constantly ripped off, imitated, sampled, and stolen. I am aware of the fucktards who steal my feed and throw up ads and banners trying to profit from my words. I'm aware of the bloggers who are desperate for attention and turn their blogs into Tao of Poker clones. I encourage you to visit their sites so you can see how pathetic they really are. Hey I don't think I can blame them. They wouldn't steal my vernacular and style unless it was good. They might be able to fool some of the folks, but those poseurs know they are two-bit hacks with no talent and zero imagination. If they had any, they wouldn't have to steal from my soul and pass it off as their own.

I'm not being paranoid or anything, but there's a reason why certain media outlets signed and paid out big bucks to get "exclusive coverage" rights to cover the 2006 WSOP. They are afraid of what I accomplished on the Tao of Poker last year. I took away their traffic which meant that they lost out on ad revenue. They don't want that to happen again from either me or one of their rivals. After all, these organizations aren't providing coverage because they love poker or want to do the poker community a great service. They're doing it for the money.

I'm not going to bullshit you... I'm getting paid more money than last year ... but I'm here in Las Vegas because I want to be here even though I have plenty of chances to do other things. I could be smoking hash in a coffee shop in Amsterdam watching the World Cup with die-hard fans. I could be following around my favorite bands this summer and dancing in fields under the stars with half-naked rolling hippie chicks. I could be holed up in an apartment in Paris writing the second draft of my novel Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. I could be back home in NYC eating burritos with Derek and The Rooster.

But I'm not. I'm in Las Vegas for a second year in a row covering the biggest event ever in the history of poker. I want to be at the Rio everyday and tell you what I see, hear, and smell. I'm not going to sugar-coat the poker coverage and tell you how awesome it is to be at the WSOP. I'm not going to write 2,500 words on how cool it is to see Gus Hansen and Jen Harman and Annie Duke play poker. They are degenerate gamblers just like you and me. They happen to be better at it than us but that doesn't make them rockstars and Gods among peasants.

Poker is a dark and ugly entity. The media has created an aura of nebulous sanctimony and the masses are flocking to it like it's the cure for the void that they have in their sad and empty lives. I should know. I fell for it too. For most of my life I was empty and sad. Poker was the light at the end of the tunnel. I bought the bullshit like everyone else. But unlike you, I got to see behind the scenes of the poker world for the last year. I peeked behind the curtain and saw the great and powerful Oz. And he's not great, nor powerful.

Poker is an old dirty whore. Poker is a $10 crack rock. Poker is an illusion and a momentary distraction from the harsh world that we live in.

Instead of asking ourselves the real questions and seeking out real answers, we're hiding from the repulsive truths of this world. There are twenty-one year old internet pros making six figures a year while kids their age are getting limbs blown off by roadside bombs in Baghdad. Tell me how important poker is to our troops overseas? A coinflip to them is not 7-7 vs. A-J. Their races and coinflips are life vs. death.

Alas, no one wants to hear about that morbid stuff. That's why more people watch American Idol than the nightly news. And Las Vegas is not a glamorous place. It's seedy and infested with crooks and criminals. Some of them wear suits and others wear gang colors. Just a few miles north of the Rio, some of the worst gang violence in this nation goes down on a nightly basis. But no one gives a rats ass if a couple of wasted gangbangers filled each other with lead last night in North Las Vegas. All the poker addicts care about are chipcounts or multiple pictures of Clonie Gowen so they can whack off too. I don't blame them. The world is a cruel mindfuck and I've tossed my salami to Clonie at least three times. Ok, maybe thirty-three times.

Sorry for the rant and political tirade. I spent too much time with hippies in Colorado this weekend passing around the peace pipe. Just like Chau Giang said as he rubbed his nipples in a counter-clockwise motion, "I love poker."

So if you want chip counts, hand histories, or winners photos of the 2006 WSOP then the Tao of Poker will be a major disappointment for you. But if you want to read about my encounters at the Hooker Bar, or the pros I pissed next to, or the strippers that Grubby and I paid $200 to eat a can of dog food, or how many boiled cheeseburgers made of kangaroo intestines that Otis ate in a 48 hour period... then this is the place to get those stories.

I'll share it all with you here. For free. You don't have to pay me a dime. And if you don't like my coverage, that's fine too. Don't read me. I don't waste my time reading shitty blogs or piss poor WSOP coverage that has already been cropping up like an unwanted case of the rickets.

I love to write and I know that's why you are coming here ten times a day to read my coverage. For that... I'm truly humbled, honored, and flattered.

Along with Flipchip, we outperformed other media outlets and shill sites that had teams of reporters working in shifts. In order for them to level the playing field, a couple of the big boys went out of their way to get me (and other media outlets) banned from providing "live updates" and photos. They wanted to control a few of the aspects that they can monetize the most... like winner's photos and live updates. I can't give you any of those. Oh well. I'm going to do everything possible to test the elasticity of the rules. If I don't get my press badge revoked, then I'm not doing my job as a gonzo journalist. I might have to lurk around the Rio in a disguise. I might just tell people I'm Dan Michalski from Pokerati.

Don't be fooled by the bogus coverage you see on other sites. I'm not going to try to deceive you and say I'm covering the WSOP from the floor today. I'm not. I'm sitting on Grubby's couch, scratching my balls, and listening to my new favorite band My Morning Jacket. There are dozens of other sites that will cut and paste stuff from my site or other places like Poker Wire and try to pass it off as their own work. You won't get that fluff here.

That's why I didn't lie and told you the truth. I skipped work today to go to a buffet and strip clubs with Grubby.

I kept rambling on and forgot that we have to go now. There's several bleached blondes with fake boobs that are waiting to gyrate their shaved tacos in my face as a Nelly song echoes loudly on the stereo system at The Rhino.

Anyway, stop back here as much as you can. There will be no pattern to my updates. They might happen at anytime. If you have this site blocked at work or at school, then feel free to set up a Bloglines account where you can view the Tao of Poker feed. And don't forget to check out Flipchip's WSOP photos.

One day down. Forty-eight more to go.

P.S. Happy birthday to BG and Change100.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Birthday Truckin'

I'm sitting in the airport (again) ready to leave 110 degree Las Vegas for the cooler climates of Colorado for the weekend. I'm going to meet up with fellow poker blogger Frankl and my buddy The Joker for two Widespread Panic concerts at Red Rocks. I'll be back on Monday to head to work for the WSOP.

Flipchip took this photo on Thursday

In the meantime, feel free to read the entire recap of my Bonnaroo Experience which is almost 10K words and includes setlists, pics, and videos. The four part series and can be found on the Tao of Pauly or my music blog. The interview I did with Paris Hilton still gets me in stitches.
Bonnaroo Part I: Thursday Arrival
Bonnaroo Part II: Fanfuckingtastic Friday
Bonnaroo Part III: Superlicious Saturday
Bonnaroo Part IV: Sunday Finale
Bonnaroo video Part I
Bonnaroo video Part II
Bonnaroo 2006 downloads
* * * * *

Truckin' - June 2006, Vol. 5, Issue 6

My literary blogzine Truckin' turned four years old this month. Holy shit! I've never held a job or had a girlfriend that lasted more than 1.5 years so you can say that Truckin' has been one of the most meaningful relationship in my life. Joe Speaker and Daddy are featured in this issue along with three new writers inlcuding CC from Quest of a Closet Poker Player.
1. Late Night Donuts by Tenzin McGrupp
"You're ruining my life!" Nicky screamed at the old man in the Lexus who cut her off. "Fucking douche bag!"... More

2. Milk by Mella
It's been years now, since the accident, since the anniversary. But she still carries it. Her little scarlet letter, tucked in her purse; meaningless to everyone but our family. Occasionally, while she listens to her lists or while recording the ingredients for the salad she wants with dinner, people will ask her what she's doing... More

3. Letter Home by Mitchell B. Ivey
I thought I should take the time to finally get in touch with you, and let you know how I have been. The move was rough, going from one place I call home to a new place that is so vastly different... More

4. Roommate by Sigge S. Amdal
I could always hear her late at night, turning in bed or sleeping and sighing dreamfully, when I could not. I just knew she was a virgin... More

5. My First Lynching by Craig Cunningham
I was doing a girl named Sherry when I saw my first lynching. It was 1953 in Morrisville, Mississippi, and I was 26... More

6. Crop Dusting by Daddy
Her name was Lori, and I think she's from Brookville. I do know she ate Mexican food with her cousin before the party, and that ended up being the demise to my New Year's... More

7. Truffles by Joe Speaker
The place looked posh, sconces and scarlet lighting pointing toward a trim, demure blonde awaiting our cover charge. She smiled as she took our money... More
And yes, I wrote something up about my time in Hollyweird earlier this year. Thanks to all the writers and to everyone else for their support. The fifth year will be the best year yet. Stay tuned. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you know anyone who is interested in being added to the mailing list.

That's it for now. Next time I post something... it will be a 2006 WSOP update.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

On the Road... Again
"If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative." - Woody Allen
When it rains, it pours. On Monday, I signed up a sponsor which I'll reveal on Monday. Then a couple of hours ago, I got off the phone with a suit from Fox Sports. I'm about to sign a deal with them to write freelance articles on the 2006 WSOP for their online site. Flipchip will be providing photos for them too, just like last year. I'm excited to be working with them again this year. I'll be blogging here at the Tao of Poker everyday and I'll be posting tournament updates over at I'll also be writing twice a week for Fox Sports along with daily recaps for them during the WSOP.

Over the last two years I've spent a too much of my life waiting around in airports. Luckily JetBlue at JFK has a wi-fi hotspot so I can catch up on email, play Party Poker, and throw up a last minute post. There's three hot scrawny model-types that might be strippers sitting nearby. The chances that one of them are sitting next to me are 5%. But if I stole one of their Louis Vuitton handbags, I could sell it and buy into a WSOP event. There's also a young Russian couple nearby screaming at each other. My Russian is so bad, that it sounds like they are speaking Ukranian. With my luck, I'll be wedged between the bickering couple on my flight instead of the leggy models/hookers/strippers.

I'm a people watcher. That's the writer in me who's always observing people. Since I grew up in New York City where there's several million people from all walks of life, people watching has always been a hobby. Sitting here at the airport, I noticed two types of travelers; those flying for business and those going for pleasure.

Last year, moving to the WSOP was all business for me. This year, I'm happy to say that I'm going for sheer pleasure. I'm shocked that I'm actually getting paid to do this. I'm sure that I can be do more socially and politically conscious things with my life like saving the spider monkeys and the rain forest in Costa Rica or joining the fight in Iraq helping "smoke those terrorists out of their caves."

But I'm not. I'm a hedonist and I'll be living with Grubby who wondered about the next time we'd be hitting up a strip club.

I'm going to spend most of my time over the next two months trying to double my bankroll against sunburnt tourists while drinking at the Hooker Bar and composing half-baked commentary and drivel on which degenerate gambler and social misfit woke up with a horseshoe up his ass to river a one outer to win a bracelet and take home more money on a $1,500 buy-in tournament that Doyle Brunson did for winning two WSOP championships.

* * * * *

I picked Italy over the Czechs today but the damn Yanks blew ass chunks versus Ghana. Not only did they get bounced from the World Cup, they also royally fucked me over in my pool.

partypokerad.gifOn the legalized gambling front, I'm taking a bath on one of my stocks. Brasil Telecom has been cornholing me hard the past few weeks. I wish I shorted the stock when I bought in several months ago. Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda.

I opened up a new online trading account. Citibank offered me a free toaster and a Thai hooker to try out their services. A year ago I made enough money from writing and playing poker after the WSOP that I could finally start paying off my credit card debt. That was a day I thought would never come. Now I'm doing the wise thing and stashing money away instead of pissing it away at the tables. Diversification is the key to any fundamental investment plan.

I spent most of this afternoon investing the money that my grandma left me buying some stock, silver options, and oil futures. I'm gambling on international politics instead of donking off chips on Party Poker. After all we're just pawns in the global game of chess and I'll gamble on almost anything. Buying Warren Buffet recommended stocks seems a lot more +EV for me than tossing dice around at Casino Royale with Spaceman or dropping a grand on lap dance at The Rhino with Grubby.

Of course, I'll do both within a few days.

I get in to Vegas at Midnight and will be in town less than 36 hours before I board a flight to Colorado, where I'm going to fulfill a dream that I've had for almost a decade. I made a list of 100 Things I Want to Do Before I Die and one #81 was: See Widespread Panic play at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. I'm going to Panic concerts on Saturday and Sunday.

The Top 3 are still...
1. Publish a book.
2. Sell a screenplay.
3. Kiss a girl in Paris on a rainy afternoon.
On the original list (written in 1996), I have about twenty-five things left to go. I told myself that if I get to do half of those things on the list, then I'd have enough material for one great book. There are two types of people in life: people who talk shit about doing things and people who actually do them. I might not get the top three finished, but I'm gonna die trying.

I fly back to Las Vegas on Monday afternoon. That's when Event #1 of the 2006 WSOP starts and the fun begins.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Hump Day Pimp Day

Five days and counting until the 2006 WSOP! By the way, check out the revised 2006 WSOP Schedule.

I leave for Las Vegas tomorrow evening when I officially move in with Grubby in Henderson. I'm spending my last busy day in NYC trying to do laundry and pack for 10 weeks on the road.

Stay tuned for a special annoucnement. The Tao of Poker just signed up a new sponsor during the WSOP, which means that I won't be paying my own way! They are going to let me do what I want, so I have 100% creative control. Let's hope this is the start of a new partnership.

If you don't know, I'm in the middle of a crazy stint where I'll be flying around catching a couple fo Widespread Panic shows at Red Rocks in Colorado and in Hollyweird. Inside of thirteen days, I'm flying from:
Nashville to NYC
NYC to Las Vegas
Las Vegas to Denver
Denver to Las Vegas
Las Vegas to Long Beach
Long Beach back to Las Vegas
Six flights. Five cities. Four time zones. Four Widespread Panic shows. 5,500 air miles flown. That's what the end of June is looking like for me. I'll have to squeeze WSOP coverage in during the weekdays since I'm taking off the next two weekends to see concerts.

Of course in three weekends, we have the bi-annual blogger get together in Las Vegas which includes a NL tournament. "Gigli" arrived in the mail so if you come in last place... I have your booby prize!

On the personal writing front...
Bluff Magazine published the online version of the article I wrote for the June issue called Poker Blog: The Best of the Best.

Poker Player Newspaper published my recent column Celebrity Endorsements.

Stop by the Tao of Pauly to read my trip report... Bonnaroo Part I. I'll post Part II later today. For Bonnaroo setlists, head over to my music blog.

On Wednesdays, Mookie holds a tourney on Poker Stars at 10pm. If I have the time, I'm going to play again this week. Stop by Mookie's site for more details and the password.

I jumped back into the fishy waters at Party Poker last night after a ten day hiatus away from the virtual felt. Although my game was shaky after a four day bender, I managed to hit and run for two sessions playing Limit Hold'em. When I'm in Vegas, I'm going to play a ton of live poker... at least five days a week to work on my middle stakes Limit game at 10-20 and above. I'm also going to grind out the ocassional low-limit NL cash game looking to double up against tourists with hands like 10-8o.

Now go stop by Wicked Chops Poker and read their blogfiles on Jen Leo, which includes a pic of us drinking heavily during the Full Tilt party at the WSOP last year.

Five more days until the 2006 WSOP...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Bonnaroo Videos

Bonnaroo Part 1
Bonnaroo Part 2

By the way, these videos are NSFW. Because these are so big, the videos play faster than it streams. You might have to pause the video from time to time to allow it to catch up. If you pause the video at the start and let it load up for a few minutes, you should be able to see it all without having to pause it.

Part 1 is 10 minutes and features celebrity head interviews, Beck's puppet show, and clips from random bands such as Tom Petty, Beck, Radiohead, the Super Jam, and the glowstick war during My Morning Jacket

Part 2 is 7 minutes and also features more celebrity interviews, the Bonnaroo Poker Open, and clips from random acts such as Oysterhead, Ramble Dove, and Matisyahu.

I spent almost 10 hours at the Nashville airport yesterday. I could not get on an earlier flight and my flight ended up delayed by 90 minutes. I took some time to splice a video together. It was too big, so I broke it down into two parts. When I have time, I'll cut it down into four parts for easier viewing. For now... enjoy the two videos of Bonnaroo.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Almost Home: Bonnaroo Update

I'm sitting at the bar in Nashville Airport waiting for my plane to take me back to NYC as the World Cup game is on the boob tube. I survived the Bonnaroo music festival which was attended by 80,000 music lovers from all over the world. I spent four straight days and late nights partying with hard-core hippies, hipsters, and indie rock kids. I didn't get arrested and magically avoided a trip to the ER. I'm gonna leave Tennessee with thousands of warm memories, hundreds of pictures, a couple of cool videos, and several stories. I will be posting photos and updates over at the Tao of Pauly and on my music blog.

Over the past four days, I caught some of my favorite bands including: I-Nine, the Wood Brothers, The Motet, Electric Eel Shock, Ben Folds, Ramble Dove (country band featuring Mike Gordon from Phish), Oysterhead (Trey Anastasio from Phish on guitar, Stewart Copeland from The Police on drums, and Les Claypool of Primus on bass), Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers with special guest Stevie Nicks, My Morning Jacket, Common, the Disco Biscuits, Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah, Gomez, Beck, Radiohead, the Super Jam featuring GRAB (Trey & Mike from Phish with the Benevento/Russo Duo), The Streets, Matisyahu, Sonic Youth, moe., and Phil Lesh & Friends featuring John Scofield.

All that music cost $185. That's a bargain. The highlights were My Morning Jacket, Radiohead, Beck, and the Super Jam featuring Trey & Mike from Phish. And yes... My Morning Jacket is my new favorite band. Here's a clip of MMJ's Bonnaroo performance courtesy of StereoGum.

I went to Bonnaroo with an awesome crew that featured Change100, The Joker, Molly, BTreoch, and Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot. We all got along and partied it up hard. We lost Mr. Fontenot for two days as he wandered around Bonnaroo looking for some gambling action. He took over $1K off of the "Three-card Monte" tables in the campgrounds. Yes, he crushed that game. He was also betting $50 a pop on Q-Bert in the arcade tent, which featured tons of arcade classics from when I was a kid. Mr. Fontenot beat several challengers who couldn't pay in cash. He told me that he accepted "kind trades" from hippies in addition to winning five glass pipes, a bag of mushrooms, and a crystal.

We played some poker too. There were four of us for the first annual Bonnaroo Poker Classic. We sat in the field in front of the main stage and played while we waited for the Phil Lesh & Friends show to start. I busted out first on the 3rd hand when my aces got cracked!

Aces cracked at Bonnaroo

Change100 raised my BB with SMTL. The Joker called with Q-J and I smooth called with A-A. The flop was J-8-3. The Joker and I both checked into Change100, who moved all in. The Joker and I both quickly called. I thought I was way ahead and was going to triple up. The Joker turned a Queen to take the lead. The river was no help. I was busted and Change100 got crippled.

The tourney was a quick one. The Joker took it down in 12 hands and is the current Bonnaroo Poker Champion.

The Joker: Bonnaroo Champion

Earlier in the week, I played a couple of tournaments at Spaceman's house. Change100 won both. She beat Spaceman and Mrs. Spaceman heads up both nights.

By the way... congrats to Glyph, who made the final table and won a seat in a $1,500 WSOP event. I was at Bonnaroo at the time and could not play. I sat out and ended up coming in 1083rd place! Thanks again to Poker Stars for setting the freeroll up.

Stop by my other blogs over the next few days for stories, setlists, and photos. I'm gonna try to splice together a video of the weekend.

I move to Las Vegas on Thursday for the WSOP. I have to sober up, do laundry, pack, and write a few reviews of Bonnaroo before I go. I can't wait for the WSOP...

Monday, June 12, 2006

2005 World Series of Poker Recap

2005 WSOP Champion Joe Hachem

Photo courtesy of Flipchip

I'm moving back to Las Vegas in ten days so I can cover the 2006 WSOP here at the Tao of Poker. It seemed like just yesterday I was stuck in the corner of Benny's Bullpen as I watched Joe Hachem win $7.5 million and become the new WSOP Champion. But almost a year has passed.

I will be taking the next several days off while I'm on holiday in Tennesse to visit Spaceman and Mrs. Spaceman. Then later in the week, I'm attending the Bonnaroo music festival featuring some of my favorite bands. I assembled a kick ass crew to come along with me to party it up during a four day musical bender, which includes my buddy the Joker, Change100, Molly, and professional Keno player Neil Fontenot. I'll be posting pictures, updates, and reviews on the Tao of Pauly and my group music blog.

In the meantime, take the time to go back and re-read my 2005 WSOP coverage on the Tao of Poker and other sites.
WSOP Quick Links:

2006 WSOP Schedule
Pauly's 2006 WSOP Preview
2006 WSOP Odds
Flipchip's 2005 WSOP Photos
2005 WSOP Tournament Results
2005 Tao of Poker WSOP June Archives
2005 Tao of Poker WSOP July Archives

To start off, "First Impressions" is one of my favorite pieces from last year. I wrote this for Fox Sports and it appeared on their website on June 19th.

2005 World Series of Poker: First Impressions

Every day at high noon, a young and eager gunslinger arrives into town ready to take down the established grizzled locals. This is not a plot out of an old John Ford western movie, instead it's simply a recap of the daily events at the 2005 World Series of Poker. Millions of dollars are on the line with every turn of the card. Legends are being made every few hours, while souls and dreams are being crushed in the process.

Indeed, the first two weeks of the 2005 World Series of Poker have been complete insanity. Players, tourists, and media types from all over the world have converged on the Rio Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada to witness the largest and most prestigious poker tournament in the world. For six weeks the Rio is poker's version of Mecca. There are 45 major tournaments being held with the infamous $10,000 buy-in No Limit main event scheduled to start on July 7th. The fast-paced gambling action will be non-stop at the Rio and running twenty-four hours a day with cash games featuring celebrities, Las Vegas sharks, and satellites filled with plenty of "dead money" players from all walks of life.

With every turn of the card, there is the potential that a brand new WSOP winner will be crowned. The prize pools at this year's WSOP are the highest they have ever been at over $20 million. And that's just for the first fifteen events. The main event alone will have a prize pool of over $60 million. More players are participating in every event than in previous years. We're in the middle of the "poker boom" and it appears that everyone is trying to get in on the orgiastic frenzy. The crowds of spectators are flocking to the Rio in huge groups to watch their favorite professional poker players in action. They are gawking on the rail, pestering pros for their autographs, and spending ungodly sums of money on various WSOP paraphernalia.

I get goose bumps every time I walk into the poker room here at the Rio. It's been two weeks already and that feeling has not worn off. A wave of energy hits me right in the face as soon as I take one step inside. The sight of this operation is overwhelming. The room is bigger than a football field and resembles an airplane hangar more than anything else. There are hundreds of tables in the room, illuminated by some of the brightest lights I have ever seen. The tables are filled with players from all over the world. Some are listening to their favorite hipster bands on iPods while others are sporting sunglasses to hide their timid eyes. A few online amateurs have that "deer caught in the headlights" look, after they find themselves sitting across from guys nicknamed Texas Dolly, Devilfish, Men the Master, and Minneapolis Jim.

You can hear the sound of chips clattering from the corridor leading up to the poker room. The distinct sound began two weeks ago and will not stop until a new WSOP Champion is declared. Over the loudspeaker, a young lady's voice tells players when their seat to a specific cash game is available. Cocktail waitresses are fighting for position to deliver imported beers, water, and Red Bulls to the players, while chip runners are sprinting from the cage to the cash game tables. You can hear players verbally display their reactions when they get sucked out on the river or survive a desperate all in attempt with a short stack. Floor managers are refereeing disputes between players, often giving them a ten minute penalty for unruly behavior and excessive usage of profanity. In media row, writers from various news organizations are exchanging gossip and chip counts of different players. In the hallways and in the bathrooms you can overhear players recant their bad beat stories and other tales of how they lost all of their chips.

Over at the cash games tables, pros are pulling out wads of $100 bills to take on other big named pros, fish with deep pockets, and celebrities who dropped by the Rio to see if they could hang with the big dogs. One late night, I spotted Phil Laak, Clonie Gowen, Anontio Esfandiari, and Jennifer Tilly playing in a $25/$50 No Limit cash game. There must have been close to $100,000 on that table in a game that lasted until sunrise.

On the far end of the poker room is where the dreamers hang out. That's were the satellite area is located. For as little as $50, you can try to earn your $10,000 seat in the main event by winning a series of smaller buy-in single table tournaments. Doctors from Long Island, accountants from South Carolina, college drop outs from California, and other varieties of "dead money" have been fighting each other around the clock, in hopes of turning their limited bankrolls into a chance at becoming the first $10 million winner at the World Series of Poker.

If the first two weeks of action are any indication of what is to come over the next four weeks, then this year's World Series of Poker is going to be the most epic gambling event of all time. Don't blink or turn away, because you might miss history.
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Before the 2005 WSOP started, Derek and I headed to Vegas for the second ever bloggers event in early June. We shared a suite at the Plaza with AlCantHang and his lovely wife Eva. I posted some random updates and pictures. We did a lot of drinking and a lot of partying and played a ton of random poker including late night SNGs in the suite while Drizz played Full Tilt and shouted obscenities at my laptop.

I held back just a little because I knew I had to work the WSOP for six straight weeks. I didn't stay up as late as I would have liked and missed out on a lot of hijinks. I got to meet the Fat Guy and Chris Halverson for the first time and that made the trip for me. Bill Rini won the blogger's tournament at the Aladdin. He beat CJ heads up. The Poker Geek dropped the Hammer on the first hand of the tournament at my table. I sat next to Tanya and we became friends. I also cracked Halverson's K-K with my Big Slick. Chad busted me when my 10-10 lost to his 9-9. AlCantHang hosted a party at La Salsa and we also headed to the Rio to sweat the bloggers who won seats into the WSOP $1500 NL event which included Joe Speaker, Russ Fox, Wes, and Bobby Bracelet.

On the morning of the first day of work, Flipchip took me over to the Redneck Riviera where I was going to be living. It looked nice on the outside, but the residents would end up becoming the biggest story of my stint in Las Vegas. They became so much more popular than the WSOP that I even considered naming my book: The Redneck Riviera.

"Didn't they catch the Ohio highway serial sniper at the Redneck Riviera in Las Vegas?" I asked Flipchip.

"Possibly. But at least they caught him. He could have still been living here," he joked.

Here's how I described the Redneck Riviera in my Las Vegas book:
I lived on the ground floor of Building D, which was the abbreviation for Demented. I found out the hard way that a white trash family lived next door. It seemed like they had 18 people living in a one bedroom suite. The same size apartment I lived in. I passed out around 7 A.M. every morning. At 11 A.M. it was "Redneck Family Hour" which came complete with drunken arguments, a slap fight, and no less than a dozen malnourished kids running rampant in front of my window. A rowdy a group of them were hootin' and hollerin' like they re-enacted the Battle of Antietam in the parking lot. It was extremely frustrating trying to fall back asleep. I requested a new apartment, but they put me on the waiting list. The entire place was booked solid and the only rooms that were available had shotty A/C. The lack of sleep drove me closer towards the brink of insanity and directly hurt my writing skills. My neighbors weren't helping.

Grubby was right... locals don't get any sleep in Vegas either. Either a drug dealer or hooker lived on the other side of me. I wondered if I could get a package deal? Every twenty minutes or so I could hear a knock on their door. That went on at all hours. At least, the free HBO and ESPNews drowned out the moans and groans from the portly johns and their strung out hookers.

Yeah, my apartment complex was in a flavorful place. I had a freaky feeling that someone's homemade crystal meth lab in the adjacent building unit is going to blow up and all my WSOP notes will be destroyed.
I headed to the Rio for my first day of work with Flipchip and he showed me the ropes. I set up my laptop in media row and introduced myself to a small group of people who ended up becoming my friends. Otis wasn't supposed to arrive for a few weeks and I knew almost nobody. I met Amy Calistri who was a fan of my blog and she introdcued me to Lou Krieger. I was so nervous that I kept calling him "Sir." Lou would end up becoming a loyal reader of the Tao and ended up recomending me for a few freelance assignments.

I also met BJ from CardPlayer and Jen & Heather from Poker Wire. We'd end up sitting in media row everyday for six weeks together while Andy Bloch stopped by a lot.

I also finally met the infamous Jay Greenspan and Nolan Dalla. Not to mention Dan from Pokerati who ended becoming one of my close buddies during the WSOP. And of course Foiled Coup was around snapping photos of hot chicks like Liz Lieu and hitting on all the skanky trade show girls that worked various booths in the hallways when he wasn't eating cheese and crackers with me in the Full Tilt hospitality suite.

I met Jen Leo, John & Earl from Poker News along with Otis' crew at Poker Stars, Brits like Mad and Howard. I could never forget meeting the Irish guys Lucky Blind Lacey and Tom Murphy. Those dudes could drink.

Flipchip ended up taking the best 2005 WSOP photos around. Take a peek.

I ended up posting my first ever live blog from the WSOP. The rest was history. I had no idea what I was going to do. I was getting paid to write daily recaps for the Poker Prof's blog at Las Vegas and Poker along with recaps for Poker Player Newspaper and Fox Sports. The live blogging started out of a way for me to take notes on the daily events as they happened. The Poker Prof encouraged me to go ahead and do it. The first post had origins of the now infamous "Last 5 Pros I Took a Piss Next To" when I spotted Scotty Nguyen in the bathroom fixing his hair.

I also blogged my first final table, the event that E-Fro ended up winning, becoming the younest ever bracelet winner. I also ended up getting in the background shots of ESPN's taping of the final table.

I also taped weekly spots with Sean for Card Club's Lord Admiral podcast. I did episode 29, episode 30, episode 31, episode 32, episode 33, episode 34, and episode 35.

I witnessed bracelet wins by Erik Seidel, TJ Cloutier, Josh Arieh, Mark Seif (twice), Barry Greenstien, Todd Brunson, Johnny Fuckin' Chan, Phil Ivey, and Doyle Brunson. Here are the live blogged final tables:
Event #5 Omaha Hi/Lo
Event #6 NL Shorthanded
Event #7 $1K NL w/ Rebuys and Event #8 $1500 Seven-card Stud
Event #9 $2K NL
Event #11 PL Hold'em
Event #12 PLO w/ Rebuys
Event #13 $5K NL
Event #15 Limit Shootout
Event #16 NL Shootout
Event #17 Limit Hold'em
Event #19 PLO
Event #21 Omaha 8
Event #22 $1500 NL
Event #23 $5K Seven-card Stud
Event #25 PL Hold'em
Event #26 Ladies NL
Event #27 PLO w/ Rebuys
Event #28 $5K Limit
Event #31 $5K Short-handed
Event #32 $5K Omaha8
Event #34 Senior's NL
The craziest single moment at the WSOP in June was the night Johnny Fuckin Chan won his 10th bracelet. There were 2 final tables and the Ladies Event going on. Four tourneys in all and I covered every single one. That was the hardest night at the WSOP and most memorable. I sat in the front row and watched Chan take down the Unabomber heads up to win bracelet #10. That was like being in Yankee Stadium the day Roger Maris hit #61.

The very next night, Jen Tilly won the ladies event. My story on Fox Sports got picked up by a ton of media outlets.

A few days later Doyle Brunson won his 10th bracelet after he beat out his buddy Minh Ly.

I also played in my first ever WSOP event. I sold pieces of myself on the Tao and sold out quickly! Thanks to everyone who bought shares including: Maudie, Al CantHang, Tanya, Derek, Briana, Otis, Senor, Iggy, Joaquin, Human Head, Obie, Joe Speaker, Wil, Spaceman, Sean & Brent from Lord Admiral Radio, Chad, Halverson, Gracie, April H., and Poker Prof & Flipchip. They all would have gotten a cut of my winnings if I made the money.

Spaceman called me to tell me one night that Charlie Tuttle was very ill and in the hospital. His favorite player was Marcel Luske and he wanted to know if we could get Marcel to call Charlie or something. Marcel did so and sung to Charlie in a ten minute phonecall. What Marcel started ended up becoming the backstory to the next couple of days as different pros rallied behind Charlie. Felicia helped get plenty of pros involved and Max Pescatori sent Charlie a care package along with other pros like John Juanda and Barry Greenstien who called Charlie.

Barry Greenstien went out and won a WSOP event. He dedicated it to Charlie in a tearful brief speech after he won. I wrote it up for Poker Player. Afterwards I broke down and cried in the hallway with Otis doing his best to console me. Charlie died the day after he heard the news. That was the same day I was supposed to play in my WSOP event #22. The last thing I wanted to do was play poker. But I did anyway and I was busted on a bad beat when A-K lost to A-10.

My thougths drifted mostly to Charlie's family and to Spaceman and Mrs. Spaceman and all of their friends. Charlie Tuttle touched so many lives at the WSOP. Charlie and his death somehow became a connection and bridged a friendship between Barry Greenstien and myself. The experience was too painful to talk about and we've only discussed it once since. We both feel blessed that being a part of Charlie's last days was a sacred reminder that life is short and precious and that you really need to live each day to the fullest.

I was tired, exhausted, and drained by the end of June. But the spirit of Charlie inspired me the remainder of the WSOP. He got me through some tough days and nights.

Here's a story I wrote that appeared on Fox Sports and on the cover of Poker Player Newspaper called A Guy Named Charlie:

A Guy Named Charlie

"It's very easy to do a good deed." - Barry Greenstein

Some of you don't know about a guy named Charlie Tuttle. He got dealt a bad hand in life and he's been battling cancer. When the World Series of Poker began, his health took a turn for the worse. His best friend Jason Spaceman wondered if the Poker Prof and myself could find away to cheer Charlie up. His favorite player is Marcel Luske and some of you already know the amazing story how Marcel borrowed my cell phone to call Charlie in the ICU. He even sung to him and that made Charlie laugh for the first time in a very long time.

Our friend Felicia took it upon herself to find as many pros and ask them to do something to help lift Charlie's spirits. Max Pescatori, Barry Greenstein, and John Juanda all took time out of their busy schedules to call Charlie. Barry even said he would send Charlie a copy of his new book. Max sent Charlie a care package and got some of his friends like Jen Harman and Doyle Brunson involved. In the last few days, Charlie's breathing problems persisted and he was unable to physically talk on the phone. He has internet access now, so I know he's reading this.

Charlie, in one of the most amazing moments I have ever witnessed in poker, Barry Greenstein said he was going to win a WSOP event for you. Then he went out and did it.

During one of the breaks at the final table of Event #19 $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha, I walked over to Barry Greenstein and thanked him for calling Charlie. His gesture really meant a lot to Charlie, his family and friends, and to a lot of people in the poker community, both players, bloggers, and readers alike. Barry said to me, "It's easy to do a good deed."

He understood how the poker boom had made poker pros instant celebrities and that a simple phone call was the least he could do. Before the break was over he told me that he was going to dedicate the victory to Charlie. At that point, I rooted for Barry harder than I ever pulled for any other player before.

In order to get in the position to win this event for Charlie, Barry had to outlast a field of 291 players including a former World Champion in Chris "Jesus" Ferguson. The final table started an hour later than originally scheduled. Apparently, there was a computer error in the payout structure and some of the players who cashed yesterday got more than they should have. As soon as the error had been corrected, play began.

Here's the final table players and chip counts:

Seat 1: Chris "Jesus" Ferguson (Pacific Palisades, CA) $16K
Seat 2: Sam Silverman (Las Vegas, NV) $39.5K
Seat 3: Paul Vinci (Shell Beach, CA) $54K
Seat 4: Paul Maxfield (Stroke-On-Trent, England) $67K
Seat 5: Barry Greenstein (RPV, CA) $92K
Seat 6: Tim Martz (Butte, MT) $72.5K
Seat 7: Toto Leonidas (Los Angeles, CA) $45K
Seat 8: Eric "Blue" Bloore (North Hollywood, CA) $16K
Seat 9: Chris Lindenmayer (Pickerington, OH) $35.5K

Here are some interesting facts about the final table players... Chris Ferguson was playing in his second final table at this year's WSOP. He has five bracelets and is looking for number six. Sam Silverman is a 25 year old poker player. He had been playing in the WSOP since 2003. Paul Vinci is a restaurant owner and this is his first final table. Paul Maxfield is a CEO of a company in England. He has six cashes and made two final tables in his WSOP career. Barry Greenstein is known as the "Robin Hood" of poker. He has a victory on the WPT and also won one WSOP bracelet. Tim Martz is a poker room operator from Montana. This is his first final table. Toto Leonidas is at his second final table this year. Eric "Blue" Bloore is playing in just his second WSOP event. Chris Lindenmayer is an x-ray technician.

Eric "Blue" Bloore was the first player eliminated. Barry Greenstein raised preflop to $6K. Blue reraised all in for 10k more. Barry called with As-5s-2s-2h. Eric Bloore had Ac-Kc-10h-9h. The board read Kh-6c-3s-6s-2c and Barry caught a full boat on the river. Eric " Blue" Bloore finished in 9th place. He won $8,030.

Sam Silverman was next to get eliminated. Silverman moved all in on the flop of 2d-8c-8h when he flopped trips with 5s-6c-7d-8d. Paul Vinci showed 7s-7c-As-Ad. Silverman lost the lead when an ace spiked on the turn. His boat was good enough to win. Sam Silverman won $12,045 for 8th place.

Chris "Jesus" Ferguson was knocked out in 7th place by Chris Lindenmayer. Jesus missed his flush draw and Lindenmayer flopped two pair. Jesus won $16,065 for his efforts.

In the battle of the Paul's... Paul Maxfield was knocked out in 6th place by Paul Vinci. Maxfield moved all in preflop with As-Ks-10d-6d. Maxfield was called by Vinci's Ac-Qd-3d-7c. Maxfield flopped a pair but Vinci caught running clubs to spike the nut flush on the river. Paul Maxfield won $20,080 for 6th place.

Toto Leonidas went on a mini rush. He caught several cards on the river to double up a couple of times, including one pot against Barry Greenstein. Toto knocked out Tim Martz in 5th place. Marz won $24,095.

In one of the biggest pots since the final table began, Barry Greenstein doubled up. On a flop of 4d-2d-7c, Barry Greenstein moved all in with a pair a kings and a flush draw. He had Kx-Kd-Td-4x. Toto Leonidas called with top pair and a straight draw. Barry caught a diamond on the turn and doubled up against Toto. He was close to being eliminated, but hung on. That was a crucial hand because he went on a run right after that.

Barry Greenstein took down another huge pot from Toto. The flop was Js-9d-4s, Greenstein bet $15K and Toto called. The turn was the 3d and Greenstein checked. Toto bet the pot about $54K and Greenstein moved all in with Kc-Jd-Jh-6c. Toto called with Kd-Qd-Qs-3c. He had a flush and a gutshot draw. He missed both on the river. Greenstein's flopped a set of Jacks was good enough to win. Toto Leonidas was eliminated in 4th and he won $28,110. Barry moved into the chip lead.

Chris Lindenmayer was knocked out in 3rd place by Paul Vinci. Both players checked on the flop of Kd-Qs-5s. Lindenmayer bet $26K on the turn when the 6c hit. Paul Vinci called. The river card paired the board with the Kh. Lindenmayer bet $20K, Vinci raised, and Lindenmayer moved all in. Lindenmayer showed Qd-Qh-7s-4d for a full house Queens full of Kings. Paul Vinci showed Kc-6s-Ac-9c and a bigger boat with Kings full of Sixes to win the pot. Chris Lindenmayer was knocked out and he won $36,140 for his efforts.

We've reached heads up play and the chip counts were about even.

On the 16th hand of heads up play, Barry won a huge pot when he caught a Wheel straight on the river. Barry held a $400K to $43K chip lead. A few hands later, Barry won his second bracelet. He won $128,505, all of which goes to charity. Paul Vinci played great and he took second place and won $70,680.

I wish I could say that I was paying attention to the hand that Barry beat Paul Vinci with. I was distracted because all I could think about was Charlie and Spaceman. A few moments after he won, Barry spoke to the audience and officially dedicated his victory to Charlie.

"This one is for Charlie," Barry said as a round of applause filled the room.

Barry couldn't say much more because he was also playing in another WSOP event, the Pot-Limit Hold'em tournament, in the far corner of the poker room. On the way to his table, he barely spoke about his win to the media because he was all choked up. Barry is one of the best poker players in the world and he always has his feelings in check at the table. For a brief moment though, he was overwhelmed with emotion and exposed his vulnerable side. I think a lot of us involved were a little teary eyed.

I had to excuse myself and go into the hallway because I was about to cry. At that moment, the events at the World Series of Poker seemed meaningless compared to the battle that Charlie was fighting. Situations like this make you reassess what's really important in life. Las Vegas is a city built on greed. Poker is a game that often attracts some of the lowest forms of life. However, in the past two weeks, there have been a small group of professional poker players who have earned my respect and admiration. Amidst all the darkness and debauchery, I have caught a few glimpses of the bright side of humanity. The hearts of some of the biggest sharks in Las Vegas are filled with compassion.

Tonight was a special night at the World Series of Poker and Barry Greenstien made sure that we would all never forget a guy named Charlie Tuttle.
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BG set up the Charlie Tuttle Memorial Tournament on Poker Stars which was won by SarahBellum.

I interviewed Clonie Gowen and ask her what she had on her iPod. I also asked Phil Hellmuth what was on his iPod as well.

I wrote about one awful day at the Redneck Riveria.

CJ was cool and hosted a few clips of Otis and me from the WSOP.

Flipchip snapped the photo on the right of us in media row featuring (from left to right): Otis, Dan from Pokerati (standing), Pauly, BJ, and Poker Wire Heather.

The month ended with me in the middle of the Charlie Tuttle story and getting to play in my first ever WSOP event. Within a few weeks I went from a nobody at the WSOP to a somebody. The traffic began to pick up on my blog and I was getting noticed by fans and readers for the first time. I befriended more media reps and pros and the ESPN crew.

By the fourth week I knew everyone working at the Rio convention area. Flipchip and I spent 12-16 hours there a day sometimes more, while the Poker Prof was hidden away in a bunker in a secret location in the Nevada desert doing computer geek stuff. I'd get only an hour off every day and that's when Otis and I would hit the Hooker Bar and drink non-stop while playing video poker. The rest of the time I was writing or trying to sleep through all the craziness at the Redneck Riveria.

I had very little time to play poker aside from a satellite and the WSOP event. I played several $100 MTTs on Party Poker to prep for the WSOP. The only poker I played was online via dial up at the Reneck Riveria on nights that I couldn't sleep.

July started with me having a mental breakdown a few days before the WSOP main event. The Redneck Riviera and the intense Nevada summer heat were making me crazy. The bad food. The lack of sleep. The depression. The deadlines. The bad beat stories. The misery. It was all fucking with my head and I lost my shit more than once in July.

I saw Paul McKinney become the oldest person to ever win a WSOP bracelet.

I went to the Full Tilt party held at La Bete in the Wynn. The dress code was LA Chic. I had no idea what that meant. I went with Shirley and I hung out with a ton of media folks including a bunch of bloggers. I ended up closing out the bar drinking past last call with Daniel Negreanu, the Poker Prof, and two Irish Guys.

On the same day that AlCantHang came out to surprise me and Otis, I met Wil Wheaton for the first time and we hung out and bullshitted for a while. He was supposed to play in the main event in less than 24 hours from the time we met. I showed him the empty table he would end up sitting at. It was the same day as the WSOP Media/Celebrity event.

I cashed in my first WSOP event and made my first WSOP final table. I also cracked Shannon Elizabeth's A-A with JJ. I was Otis' table to start and I got A-A in back to back hands. I busted him and build up a huge chip lead. I was also seated next to Lou Krieger at some point.

During the main event, I met DoubleAs for the first time. He would end up cashing in his first and only WSOP event.

The WSOP $10K main event started. The last two days were held in Benny's Bullpen at the Horseshoe. Here are my live blogging updates:
Day 1A
Day 1B
Day 1C
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7 - The Final Table
Be sure to take a peek at the Poker Prof's hard work in his 2005 WSOP tournament results page. And look at Flipchip's 2005 WSOP photo gallery.

Everyone knows that Joe Hachem from Australia won the 2005 WSOP main event. He took home $7.5 million and I got to experience the 2005 WSOP from nearly the start to the finish. It was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. I might cover WSOP events in the future, but it's never quite the same as your first one. I have the Poker Prof to thank for the entire thing. He said we were going to pull it off... and with Flipchip's help... we did.

The Poker Prof told me that I was the single most read writer at the WSOP, even more so than Nolan Dalla. He estimated that more than one million people read something of mine during the 2005 WSOP either on the Tao of Poker, Poker Player Newspaper, Fox Sports, MSN, and some of the other sites that I write for. I was blown away by that number and still refuse to believe that was possible. He broke it down by the numbers and although it adds up, it's still a disturbing number. If I knew that then... I would have freaked out and choked. As is, despite some problems and rough patches, I came out of the WSOP as a legitimate poker tournament reporter. Some of that was due to Felicia's suggestions along with Otis' help, Flipchip's Obi-wan like guidance, and Poker Prof's persistent belief in me.

Wil gave me some great advice and insisted that I take my dinner breaks for "me" time. I ended up rushing off to the Hooker Bar to drink with Otis. For a while it was our favorite time of the day. We'd drink sometimes for free and made sure we didn't talk about poker. We discussed anything except poker. That was our only rule. For an hour everyday we escaped the insanity of the WSOP. We didn't have deadlines or readers eagerly awaiting updates. We were just two dudes drinking away our troubles at a bar in Las Vegas, checking out the talent and swapping a few stories in the process. That was just one of the many highlights of the WSOP.

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Gallery of Champions

I snapped the following pictures moments after these champions won their event. My favorite is Johnny Chan winner's photo. They all have the distinction of being in my Gallery of Champions. You can click on the individual photos to get an enlarged view. Enjoy.

Erik Seidel
2005 WSOP $2K NL Champion

Josh Arieh
2005 WSOP $2K PLO Champion

TJ Cloutier
2005 WSOP $5K NL Champion

Isaac Glazan
2005 WSOP $2,500 Shorthanded NL Champion

"The Mighty" Quinn Do
2005 WSOP $2,500 Limit champion

Bary Greenstien
2005 WSOP $1,500 PLO Champion

Mark Seif: Two time bracelet winner
2005 WSOP $1,500 Limit Shootout Champion
2005 WSOP $1,500 NL CHampion

Phil Ivey
2005 WSOP $5K PLO champion

Johnny Chan wins bracelet #10
2005 WSOP $2,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em Champion

Todd Brunson
2005 WSOP $2,500 Omaha 8 Champion

Doyle Brunson wins #10
2005 WSOP $5K NL Shorthanded Champion

Jen Tilly
2005 WSOP Ladies Champion

Paul McKinney
2005 WSOP Senior's Champion

Joe Hachem
2005 WSOP $10K NL main event Champion

Bobby Bracelet
2005 Saturdays with Dr. Pauly Champion

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After all that hard work during the WSOP, my eforts were recognized. The Tao of Poker was mentioned in an article in the Online Journalism Review called Gonzo poker bloggers bring World Series to life in real time. Here's a bit:
At the 2005 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, which wrapped up last week, the blogging star was "Dr. Pauly", a struggling screenwriter and novelist who became a poker fanatic... more
I move to Las Vegas in 10 days and the WSOP begins in two weeks. This will be the place to get your 2006 WSOP fix. In the meantime, feel free to read my articles on 2006 WSOP Odds and the 2006 WSOP Preview.

See you at the Rio in two weeks!