Friday, November 30, 2007

$50K HORSE and Top Referrals

By Pauly
New York City

"When are you going to watch HORSE?" Derek asked me.

I hijack my brother's TiVo whenever I hit the road, which has been a lot this year. He recored ESPN's entire coverage of the 50K HORSE event from the 2007 WSOP. I didn't have the opportunity to watch those episodes yet. I caught the main event on ESPN repeats when I was in Key West. During the afternoons, I'd hang out at the AlCantHang Compound and play online poker while AlCantHang and I watched the WSOP on the big screen.

During my first year as a tournament reporter, I religiously watched every tournament that I covered, which included both the WSOP and WPT events. I was such a poker nerd that I would pull up the Tao of Poker and re-read my coverage from that event and follow along with the action. There were some hands (at the time they happened) where I anxiously waited to see what the players had.

By the second year in the industry, I had become so jaded that the last thing I wanted to do was recapture moments that I'd rather forget. There were parts of the 2006 WSOP that I never even watched on ESPN, and the same goes for several WPT events.

At this point, I'm totally burned out and lost my passion for watching poker on TV. It's hard to get motivated to watch any WPT event since their coverage has slipped over the years. The final tables are a crap shoot due to the structure and the majority of the players who make the final table are not exciting to watch. Overall, there's simply too much bad poker programming out there that I cringe when I see any on TV. When I was overseas, I always liked flipping through the TV to see what TV is like in other countries. I would discover random poker programs from different countries like in Sweden, Australia, and the UK. And those are not any better.

I don't have too much free time to spend on watching the boob tube and I end up devoting time to watching things outside of poker like sports or movies. So if I have a choice of watching poker or something else... I always pick something else. The one exception is that I watch High Stakes Poker as much as I can, but usually I'm watching the chopped up via You Tube videos, because I can squeeze an episode in over a couple of days during down time.

Anyway... I watched a couple of episodes of the 50K HORSE event, only because my brother wanted me to free up space on his TiVo. I saw myself a couple of times wandering around in the background. I can spot my bald spot anywhere. I paid less attention to the action and tried to find my friends in the background. I spotted several of the floor reporters that worked with me at Poker News such as Dave, Matt, Steve and Tom Sexton (who is Mike Sexton's brother).

I also found my friends Felipe, Heather, and Jen Browning who were all taking photos in the background. And I also saw Flipchip and Shronk milling around Hellmuth's table. I noticed that Homer from Blonde Poker was sweating Matusow's table and the CC was sweating Freddy Deeb's table. I even saw Schecky hard at work getting chip counts at one point. That's dedication.

I even saw the Jesus Freak wearing the John 3:16 t-shirt who got some airtime when Fossilman busted.

During the final table broadcast, you can see me sitting next to Otis and there are random shots of BJ, Leanne, and Lacey Jones sitting in media row.

Watching HORSE reminded me of how much I hated my job over the summer (as compared to the 2005 or 2006 WSOP). Sure I made more money that the previous two WSOPs combined, but I paid a price both physically and mentally. I really don't ever want to have to undertake that tremendous workload ever again and that's why I needed two months at the end of the year to recover from the WSOP.

Although, my life got a lot easier once the $50K HORSE event was over. I definitely felt that HORSE was the most important event at the WSOP and the hardest to cover. There was a lot of pressure from the powers to be (Harrah's, Bluff, and Poker News) to have flawless coverage (which itself is inherently impossible). Plus, I put a ton of pressure on myself and the team that I was working with. So the final table was sort of reaching the top of Mt. Everest and that the rest of the WSOP was making our way down from the mountain to safety. The main event was a breeze compared to the HORSE event, especially since we had an entire staff at Poker News devoted to one tournament, instead of spreading ourselves across four, five, or even six tournaments per day.

* * * * *

My online HORSE binge continues. I usually sit out for the 0maha 8 portion since that is my weakest game. If we played Omaha High, then I'd be a pig in shit. I have noticed that the majority of my opponents are short buying in HORSE, which is odd especially with the three Stud variation with betting on extra streets.

I tend to win the most during Stud an Razz. I used to loathe Razz but for some reason I have been enjoying the Razz portions. I have random brain farts from time to time and raise hands during Razz because I think I have a sick Stud hand when it's actually a terrible Razz hand.

I'd prefer to play HOSE but no one ever plays at those tables. I played some HA the other night, which is PL hold'em and PLO. If I ever decide to settle down and get a place to live and start a home game, I'd like to play HASE... hold'em, PLO, Stud, and Stud 8. No Razz and no Omaha 8.

My upswing continues after an ugly Turkey Day weekend. Maybe I'm on the good side of variance, or maybe I picked up some things after reading Barry Tanenbaum's new book, but I've done remarkably well at the 10/20 and 15/30 limit tables. It's probably a little of both.

* * * * *

Thanks to the Top 10 Referrals for November...
1. Las Vegas Vegas (Poker Prof & Flipchip)
2. Wicked Chops Poker
3. Tao of Pauly
4. Aaron Gleeman
5. Up for Poker
6. Shaniac
7. Hoyazo
8. Neverwin Poker
9. AlCantHang
10. Iggy

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sundays with Dr. Pauly - Week 7 Update

By Pauly
New York City

My ugly streak continues over at Fantasy Sports Live.

RTrizzle is the overall leader with three weeks to go.

Qualified for TOC: Bobby Bracelet , RTrizzle, ebk03001, Chewbot, bonds, Mattazuma, jek187, Expensive Wino, Pokerpeaker, Big Pirate, KenB25, Proehl, DrizzDJ, Mark, PokahDave, VinNay, HermWarfare, bayne_s, Zeem, Betty Underground, johnnieb, 23skidoo

Two Week Streak Vs. Pauly (TOC Seat for 3 Straight): Mookie
Week 7 Results:
1 jek187 135.1
2 bayne_s 134.4
3 Troyinator69 124
4 Drizztdj 123.3
5 Betty Underground 119.7
6 Chewbot 119.3
7 bonds 119.2
8 Jason 116.8
9 23skidoo 114.8
10 McGuyver 114.2
11 johnnieb 109.7
12 HermWarfare 109.1
13 Expensive Wino 107.6
14 Zeem 104.8
15 dnord 102.8
16 Jevanstar 102.1
17 change100 100.4
18 Proehl 98.8
19 Big Pirate 97.1
20 LTLover 97
21 ebk03001 95.6
22 donkeypuncher 95.3
23 Pokerpeaker 95.1
24 VinNay 93.8
25 BigHeeb91 92
26 Rtrizzle 92
27 jakehead 83.4
28 Dart Thrower 82.4
29 Mattazuma 77
30 Mookie 76.7
31 TaoPauly 75.4
32 PokahDave 67.6
33 KenB525 64.4
34 Mark 59.5
35 Beale 53.1

Sundays With Dr. Pauly Leaderboard (Top 35):
RTrizzle 958.3
ebk03001 941.2
bayne_s 898.3
bonds 896.9
HermWarfare 889
Chewbot 870.1
jek187 863.7
Expensive Wino 860.4
Zeem 833.7
Pokerpeaker 833.5
Pauly 812.2
Big Pirate 792.3
change100 782.5
DrizzDJ 779
BigHeeb91 768.1
Mattazuma 765.6
Proehl 755.7
KenB525 747.9
Betty Underground 746.3
Mark 729.4
jakehead 728.6
Bobby Bracelet 727.8
PokahDave 633.2
VinNay 628.5
Garthmeister J. 619.4
DonkeyPuncher 602.9
Party Matt 602.6
mush237 525.1
belly2bar 524.7
johnnieb 513.4
23skidoo 451.6
scurvydog 424.5
Joe Speaker 408.3
Jevanstar 403.8
Mookie 401.1
Best of luck this weekend!

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Run the Voodoo Down

By Pauly
New York City

I have been writing several hours almost every day, unfortunately very little about poker. There's an epic poker post that I'd like to write but I don't have the proper time to dedicate myself to such a post, so instead I'm writing yet anther half-baked post on the fly. I gave myself twenty minutes to write the last time and I have twenty to pen this one. Why twenty? Why not?

Writing is therapy for me. It keeps me sane and gives me tons of pleasure... that is when I'm writing for myself. I've been working on a new project and spending very little interaction with people and have been limiting distractions from outside media sources like internet news sites and avoiding as much TV as I can. Aside from a few flicks and sporting events, I have been avoiding the boob tune. I stopped buying and reading newspapers. I've been trying to keep my mind on one thing and it's been this recent writing project. I never realized how many distractions I had in my life until I started taking measures to distract them.

I guess that's why I play better poker live is because I have limited distractions. I'm not multi-tasking which I often do when I play online poker. I'm playing other tables, sweating my brother or girlfriend, and looking up opponents on my Poker Tracker. Even those activities are poker related and I'm still dividing my time. I believe that my ego is the problem and bullies reason out of the way. It seems that when I limit my distractions, I give myself a better opportunity to play better. Especially when I play HORSE, NL, or PLO. For me, limit hold'em is such an ABC poker game that I don't have to pay attention to the tables or the players. I see my cards and play them accordingly, unlike NL where I'm playing against my opponents and cards have nothing to do with it.

Last weekend, I wrote an editorial for the Swedes over at Ongame Zone about Annette_15. I mentioned a story that in my opinion makes Annette_15 a legend. Several months ago, before she won the WSOP Europe and became the youngest bracelet winner in the history of the WSOP, Annette_15 confirmed a rumor that she played a 180 person MTT totally blind. She covered up her hole cards and played by total feel. She admitted that she peeked at her cards only once, and that was on a flop of all spades. She wanted to see if she had a spade before she made a decision. Aside from that one instance, she played blind... even during heads up... and won it all. Very few players have such a grasp and feel for the game to be in a position to dominate and decimate the entire field without even looking at her cards, like Annette_15 and that's why she has the potential to become one of the greatest NL players of all time.

I could never do that. I once tried to play a $5 SNG blind, but that didn't work out too well. I didn't actually cover my cards. But it was one of those late nights in Hollyweird during a merciless bender where I was so jacked up from partying that I could barely see the laptop screen let alone my cards.

Then again, a friend of mine once dropped acid and made the final table of a Razz tournament. Miracles do happen.

* * * * * *

I enjoyed writing about my exploits with Grubby in the previous post. So here's another nugget. Whenever I had assignments in Las Vegas, I stayed with Grubby. Usually I'd rent out his place for a month at a time. I'd arrive early, work my assignment, then stay a week or so longer.

One of my least favorite past times involved me going from casino to casino on Saturdays with Grubby. That's when the casinos located off the strip handed out gifts to locals, in an attempt to draw them in and get them to play. Grubby would bring me along because he knew that I wouldn't let him near the slots or blackjack tables. One afternoon, we hit up four different casinos while Grubby collected a fanny pack, a salsa bowl, jumper cables, and a coffee mug. He seemed pretty pissed off at the selections, with the exception of the jumper cables. Those always came in handy.

Sometimes we'd play online poker. I'd sit on Grubby's couch and play a couple of tables, while Grubby would fire up four SNGs. I always find it interesting to watch other people play online poker in real life... if anything... to hear the funny shit that they say to their virtual opponents. People love to talk shit and not have any consequences. I'd lose my shit when Grubby would unleash a tirade of obscenities after getting sucked out on. In real life, Grubby takes bad beats in stride and rarely criticizes his opponents play. But online is a different story. Sometimes saying the word douchebag or assclown or fucknuts makes you feel better.

Anyway, sometimes we'd be playing online poker for hours and after a slew of bad beats, we'd stop playing and decide to go to a casino and play for real. But then we head out to Green Valley or down to the Strip only to discover that we're bored shitless at the tables. Some dealers are painfully slow and some of your tablemates won't shut the fuck up. I guess that's how we invented betting on wheel spins at the Excalibur.... to keep things interesting. Then again, action is action.

* * * * *

Tough swing for me at the tables over the weekend. In a 70 hour stretch, I lost over $1,200. The carnage was ugly and was spread out over the 1/2 PLO, 1/2 NL, 3/6 HORSE, and 10/20 LHE on both Full Tilt and Poker Stars. I'll spare you the bad beats. But I only misplayed a couple of hands. Aside from that, I felt that I played solid poker.

I stopped the bleeding on Tuesday with a decent 10/20 LHE session on Poker Stars. I was down for the majority of the session until I put one guy on tilt after a bad beat. I caught a runner runner flush when all I flopped was bottom pair in a four-way pot. He had flopped top two with A-Q. Oh well. I guess I was on the good end of karma that time.

The other night, I played 3/6 HORSE with Julian Gardner. He is a British poker player best known as the runner-up to Robert Varkonyi at the 2002 WSOP. I had no idea why he was playing 3/6 HORSE. I always thought what would have happened to poker if he won instead of Varkonyi. Hellmuth would have gone on mega-tilt knowing that his record for youngest WSOP champion would have been broken by Gardner. Alas, it didn't and Hellmuth had to shave his head because he bet that there would be no way in hell that Varkonyi would win the WSOP.

Anyway, I also played HORSE with Daddy and Derek over the weekend. Lots of fun. I rarely play online with friends anymore, so it's a treat when I get to.

I played some 5/10 HORSE at PokerStars and turned a small profit. The HORSE games on Stars seems tougher than on FT. The thing is that there are rarely any middle stakes HORSE games. It's tough to find anything higher than a 3/6 table going most nights.

During my NL cash game experiment, I noticed one thing... that sets make and break you. The biggest pots that I won came from flopped sets. And the biggest hands I lost were against sets. I got felted once in a set over set situation. A couple of times I doubled up players with a big pocket pair against a middle pair who flopped a set.

And the biggest suckouts against me happened when I got my money ahead with a set and either lost to a draw or my opponent improved their two pair when they rivered a boat.

* * * * *

Finally, congrats to Liz Lieu for making two final tables in Macau. She finished in 7th place in the APPT Macau event, which was the first ever tournament to be played in China. She also made the final table of a 15K buy-in event.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


By Pauly
New York City

Flashback to the summer of 2005.

The World Series of Poker had just ended and I stuck around Las Vegas for several weeks. During the last two WSOPs, I hightailed it out of Las Vegas within a week of the last hand of the main event. I couldn't stand being in Las Vegas for another minute and escaped the madness as soon as possible to repair my battered soul.

But the summer of 2005 was different. I wasn't completely jaded by the poker industry yet and after working my ass off for several weeks, I was jonesin' for poker. I wanted to explore Las Vegas as a local and play as much poker as possible. Fortunate for me, Grubby lived in Henderson at the time and the two of us hung out everyday.

Grubby and I had a daily routine. I still lived at the Redneck Riviera and I'd wake up sometimes after noon or 1pm. It was too hot to venture outdoors and I didn't want to catch E. coli from the hordes of pot-bellied mulleted kids that frequented the pool, so I'd stay inside and write for a couple of hours. Grubby would wake up in late afternoon and give me a call. He'd then swing by the Redneck Riviera to pick me up. We'd go eat somewhere, usually selected by Grubby. Then it was poker for several hours before we ended up at a strip club in the middle of the night.

If we were winning, we wanted to celebrate with lapdances by slutty dancers drenched in cheap perfume. If we were losing, we wanted to be consoled by slutty dancers drenched in cheap perfume. It was win-win. And there was always that moment when I'd signal Grubby at a table across the poker room to let him know it was time for Cheetah or the Rhino. He'd chug the rest of his strawberry Julius and quickly rack up his chips as he sprinted to the cage with a massive brain freeze.

After completing our charity work and humanitarian efforts at the local strip clubs (save the strippers, save the world), we'd either race back to a poker room to get in a game or go eat a late night special at some random eatery where tranny hookers, tweakers, and the odd random hipsters from Hollyweird seemed to gather at 5am.

Probably my favorite part of the day was our first meal at the buffet. You see, Grubby had comps all over town for different buffets which he had earned by playing (losing at) slot machines. So we'd hit up random places like Silverton, or Monte Carlo, or Terribles, or Green Valley Ranch only because Grubby had a ton of comps at those places

We would sit at a buffet for three hours or more in some instances. Grubby is the type of guy who likes to get as much bang for the buck as possible. So he'd milk the system. He felt that he lost so much money in that particular casino, that he was entitled to a relaxing meal which would be eaten at our pace. Sometimes we'd sit and discuss writing and films. Other times we talked poker. Grubby would explain a hand and then ask me how I would play it. And vice versa. We had two different styles and it was great to pick each other's mind. There were moments when we only discussed one single hand of poker and we'd debate back and forth for a couple of hours about the proper way to play that specific hand.

Grubby had an amazing feel for the game and was in the process of developing a new style that would be suitable to play in Las Vegas. I always said that Grubby had a grasp of the game that very few people I knew had. He could have been a highly successful cash game player, if it weren't for slot machines.

Here's an inside joke between us. Grubby's biggest leak in poker? The slots.

He had such a solid poker game that he frequently won. Except that he couldn't leave the casino with his poker winnings. He'd donk them all off at the first Mr. Cashman machine he would find.

We read every possible poker book. Our biggest complaints were the concepts discussed in those books, were basically concepts. Very rarely were you able to apply those to real life situations, mainly because those books were written with optimal play (or atrocious play) from your opponents. What we both learned was that players in Las Vegas didn't play like the pros wrote about in books. In short, we had to take the concepts they preached and apply them to the recent wave of poker people who flooded the tables in Las Vegas in the golden year of the poker boom.

Every night we were experimenting with different styles and play at the 1/2 NL games that the tourists loved. We also played different styles against geriatric rocks at the locals casinos. The Strip casinos had a ton of competition with table games and other poker rooms. They were all about keeping their poker rooms filled to capacity and offered up high hand jackpots (like at Palms or Mandalay Bay), so our style incorporated those promotions. The Station Casinos (like Green Valley and Sunset Station) were a part of a larger bad beat jackpot, so the locals played any pair and any suited connectors hoping for a straight flush over quads.

We'd opened up our playing range and got ourselves into different situations. After our sessions (and after a quick visit to the strip clubs), we'd sit and discuss what we learned that night. It was hard getting tourists to fold flush draws and they almost never folded Big Slick post-flop. We worked on picking up as many small pots as possible while at the same time, looking for that big moment when we get to felt an opponents with junk hands. Our philosophy sort of mirrored Barry Tanenbaum's approach to the game about making your opponents predictable while becoming completely unpredictable yourself.

Our other basic philosophy was trying to quickly read the players at the table and figure out their story. That's where being writers helped us immensely. We looked at people differently than most normal people. We paid close attention to the small details. Like expensive loafers or baller watches. We listened to the conversations to figure out if they were locals or in town for a few days. We watched their reactions when they won or lost posts. Humble winners? Or did they erupt like a volcano when they got sucked out on?

We extracted as much information as possible in order to compile a thin psychological sketch of our opponents, which would come in handy later on if/when we got involved with a big pot against them. The more information that we had about what they played and how they played it, gave us a slight edge in determining which buttons we needed to push in order to get them to fold or to call. That was the one advantage we had playing live versus playing online, so we exploited that edge.

We did our best to get involved with post against predictable players, since more often than not, we knew exactly what they had (or narrowed down them to a specific range).

My poker game was slowly evolving at the time to the style that I play today. I soaked up everything I saw at the WSOP and asked pros lots of questions. Almost all of them were happy to discuss poker strategy, especially Andy Bloch. I credit a lot of my development of a poker player from the conversations I had with pros during the down time at the WSOP. After I started thinking about the game in a different way, I applied what I learned from poker books, conversations with pros, and the Buffet symposiums with Grubby.

The weeks right after the 2005 WSOP were vital for me. That's when I rebuilt my bankroll and gained more confidence at the tables. I'm a better person and player today for the lessons that I learned in those few short weeks where I continued to live in the Redneck Riviera in the shadows of the Las Vegas Strip. (However at the same time, that was the end of the innocence and the beginning of our moralistic demise as we slid into the abyss of debauchery and became princes of darkness, trolling the streets of Las Vegas and feeding our voracious appetites for gambling, food, and sex. But you already know about those stories...)

When I finally left Las Vegas in August of 2005, I made adjustments. In order to neutralize all the short term luck involved in poker tournaments, and to stop the biggest leak in my bankroll, I began to eliminate tournaments from my daily diet. I focused on cash games because I played them much better. Although it would still be another six months or so that I stopped playing NL cash games and switched to my bread and butter... limit hold'em cash games. But that's a story for another time.

Ah this would have been a perfect time to segue into a review of Barry Tanenbaum's new book about advanced limit hold'em strategy, but I'm out of time. I'll save that review for a future post.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Playing Poker with Scribes

By Pauly
New York City

There's someone in my head, but it's not me.

That Pink Floyd lyric summed up the series of dark, twisted, and inescapable emotions that tormented me for a few months. After a couple of relaxing weeks of healthy living and providing myself a positive environment to write and create, I have finally become reacquainted with my former self. And yes, I missed me.

The immediate result has been an elated feeling of self-worth. I have slowed time down and there by slowed myself down. I unpeeled all those excess layers of thick skin that I wrapped myself in just to shelter myself from the world. It's amazing that you can waltz through life for several days at a time as a madman, or asshole, or emotionally distraught individual, or just another clueless soul adrift in the cosmos, and yet still be the same person trying to reconnect with your true self.

I am constantly being hijacked by my quirky and diverse personalities. Depending on the time of year, or even the time of the day, my entire universe is ruled by the dominant personality trait (or flaw) at the time. Sometimes things turn out alright, but other times, I'm a walking disaster like when darkness launches a coup d'etat. That tends to happen to me a lot when I spend too much time inside a casino or gambling environment. That's why balance is important. I sacrificed a lot of energy earlier this year and now it's the perfect time to regenerate all those lost brain cells and mend all those troubled spots on my brain when I spent too many hours worrying about some pointless bullshit when I should have been enjoying living in the moment instead.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I drive fast. I walk fast. I live hard. And I'm constantly pushing myself. After speeding through life the last ten months, I welcomed a slow down. I simplified a lot of things and have been enjoying several hours a day where I'm unplugged and no longer a slave to my cell phone and email. I relish my freedom, while it lasts.

I have reduced my work schedule down to one day a week. I crammed five days of poker industry and freelance work into one hellish 18 hour day. And I get all of my responsibilities taken care of in that one day. I'm used to long hours, so it wasn't that much of a sacrifice since I gave up one day for six free days. The result has been remarkable. I have been devoting five days a week to a new writing project. I take off Sundays to watch football with my brother. So far, the experiment has worked and I'm thinking about how I can apply it to 2008.

I have disconnected from most of the world and get to lock myself in a room for most of the day where I write and listen to music and pace around and let my mind wander in thought. It had been so long since I got to do that.

I've been eating better, exercising regularly, and have been booze and painkiller free since my return to New York. I'm not quite living the Mormon lifestyle, and I'm smoking more than Slater from Dazed & Confused, but that's been my only vice. Well, that and stying up very late listening to a lot of old albums such as Bitches Brew by Miles Davis. I have been writing to that nonstop and has become part of the rotation of various background music that I listen to when I'm playing online poker.

So here we are with five weeks left in 2007 and I finally got a firm hold of my life. What the fuck was I doing the other 42 weeks?

* * * * *

My new schedule has allowed me to find time every night to play online poker. I finally killed the PokerStars jinx and had a couple of winning sessions. I'm on the verge of posting my first winning month on Stars in God knows how long. I was getting my ass reemed at the 15/30 and 10/20 LHE tables. But since I have been dabbling in 1/2 and 2/4 NL cash games on both Full Tilt and PokerStars, and I started to turn a small profit.

Since I have been playing more NL cash games, I have been playing less Pot Limit Omaha. However, one random night about a week ago, I played short-handed 1/2 PLO on Full Tilt with Jim McManus. He had over $1,600 in front of him when I sat down. The max buy-in is $200 and it looked like Jimbo was on a heater. We only played one big pot against each other inside the hour we played together. I took it down when I flopped a set against him... and it held up.

* * * * *

I played in a rare limit tournament over a week ago when I signed up for the FTOPS short-handed limit hold'em event. A couple of days before the tournament, I found myself killing time in the Flat Iron District and wandered through Barnes and Nobles. I headed to the poker section and re-read Howard Lederer's chapter on Limit in Michael Craig's book called the Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide.

Anyway, there were over 1,057 entrants. I held my own for the first level. My table was loose and I picked up a few pots with bottom pair and Ace high, just by making good calls. I was in 25th place with about 900 to go. Everything went well until a fuckhead rivered a gutshot on me. Later that orbit, I lost another hand when a different opponent rivered a flush. Next thing I knew, I was shortstacked and busted out in 574th place. I outlasted a slew of pros including Annette_15, Kenny Tran, and Max Pescatori. I also outlasted Michael Craig, who incidentally made two final tables at the WSOP this year.

Last Sunday night, I played in Miami Don's Big Game. That didn't go very well. Lost a bunch of chips on a two-outer. Got super-short and made a move with Ac-5c. I ran into Zeem's Big Slick and the rest was history.

* * * * *

On last Sunday afternoon, Wil Wheaton live blogged a sale of the hard copy edition of his latest book The Happiest Days of Our Lives.

Check out a review of his book over that I wrote over at Tao of Pauly. You can buy Wil Wheaton's book by clicking here.

Anyway, late in the afternoon, Wheaton announced a tourney at PokerStars on his blog. Only two tables of players showed up but Derek, Penner, and Change100 were among those who showed up. I busted my brother when I sucked out on him. Three way pot. I limped-called Derek's preflop raise, and one other called. I had 10d-8d. The flop was 9d-6h-3h. Ooooh, a gutshot! I check-called Derek's pot-sized bet of 300. Third guy stayed in. The turn was Ad. I picked up more outs with a flush draw. I checked. Derek moved all in for his last 1,350. I had him covered and I called. The third guy called too. The river was the 3d. Derek had an Ace and the other guy showed Q-Jo. Huh?

I made the final table as the chipleader and Wheaton busted Change100 on the money bubble. I had a massive chip lead when it was three-handed and found myself heads up against Wheaton. We had never played a heads up match before, so this was special. I had him outchipped almost two to one (10.8K to 5.6K) so I held an edge. Our heads up battle lasted 29 hands. Wheaton took the lead early when I made a bad call. Wheaton slowplayed an Ace on a board of A-6-6. We both checked the flop. The turn was a Jack and I paired up so I thought I was good when Wheaton put all his money in on the turn. Man, I was surprised to see his Ace. Nice trap and I walked right into it. He had me 11K to 5K and all of a sudden I was in trouble.

After a couple of hands, I was down to 3.8K and Wheaton had me on the ropes. Then I sucked out on him and caught a runner-runner flush to double up. Wheaton won three out of the next four hands and I was back down to 4K. That's when I found the Hilton Sisters. Of course the flop had both and Ace and a King. We both checked. The turn was a Jack and Wheaton bet the pot. I called. The river was a 10 and all of a sudden I had a straight. We got it all in on the river and my Hiltons held up. After fifteen hands, we were back where we started when heads up play began.

I won the next seven hands as Wheaton went card dead and slipped to 2.5K. Just when though I had him, he doubled up on the next hand when I flopped top pair and he flopped second pair. We got it all in and then Wheaton rivered trips to avoid elimination. Five hands later, it was all over. I flopped top pair with Queen-rag (a hand I had been getting all day and winning with it) and Wheaton got in all in with a straight draw and missed. I won our first ever heads up battle and won the small, but extremely fun impromptu tournament.

* * * * *

I also played in the Tuesday Night Game, a NL tournament hosted by Tony Holden (author of Big Deal). During the WSOP-Europe in London, we spoke briefly and he invited me to play in his infamous Tuesday Night Game which has moved online over at PokerStars. I signed up a few days before and the day of the tournament, I forgot it was going. I showed up 45 minutes late and my stack was blinded down to about 1,250.

I outlasted two of my poker literary heroes, Tony Holden and Al Alvarez, who are both contributors to the Bigger Deal blog. The infamous Moll (she'd was Tony Holden's love interest in both of his books) was at my table. She was told to keep an eye out on me. Heh. We only played two pots together and I think we both won one.

There were 259 entrants overall and the top 27 places paid. I finished in 36th place. Bad beat too. Big Slick lost to Mrs. Slick. And I don't have to tell you what spiked on the river to send me to the rail. Godammed RiverStars strikes again. Despite the beat, it was a great time. Thanks again to Tony for hosting.

* * * * *

On the night before Turkey Day, Rounders was on cable. Derek and I watched it instead of subjecting ourselves to the utter torture of watching the inept Knicks play against the Pistons. It had been a very long time since I had seen Rounders from beginning to end. But there I was, sitting on my brother's couch and playing 3/6 HORSE and 8/16 LHE on FT as the movie played on in the background.

On Turkey Day evening, I played a NL gash game on FT with Derek, Daddy, Garth, DonkeyPuncher, and Drizz. Fun times. Flashbacks from our days on Party Poker a few years ago. As DonkeyPuncher said, "This feels like 2004."

* * * * *

Johnny Hughes sent me a copy of his book Texas Poker Wisdom. I had the chance to read the story about Matt "Slick" O'Malley before it got published and was honored that he gave me an advanced copy. Anyway, the book has finally been published and you can buy them over at

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sundays with Dr. Pauly - Week 6 Update

By Pauly
New York City

We are more than 60% done with Sundays with Dr. Pauly over at Fantasy Sports Live. Only four weeks left in this contest. Time to start making moves! By the way, I had yet another blah week which means more of you made it into the freeroll!

Freeroll Qualifiers: Bobby Bracelet , RTrizzle, ebk03001, Chewbot, bonds, Mattazuma, jek187, Expensive Wino, Pokerpeaker, Big Pirate, KenB25, Proehl, DrizzDJ, Mark, PokahDave, VinNay

Two Weekers: The following players need to beat my score this week to qualify for the freeroll... HermWarfare, bayne_s, Zeem, Betty Underground, johnnieb, 23skidoo

Overall, RTrizzle holds roughly a 20-point lead over ebk03001. My brother jumped into the third place.
Week 6 Results:
1 Mark 173.7
2 bonds 164
3 VinNay 161.7
4 Pokerpeaker 159.9
5 Madden 158.9
6 Expensive Wino 148.3
7 RTrizzle 148.3
8 johnnieb 145.2
9 ebk03001 142.8
10 PokahDave 142.8
11 KenB525 140.7
12 Hunter 137.6
13 belly2bar 136.5
14 Mookie 136.2
15 Zeem 134.6
16 HermWarfare 130.2
17 Betty Underground 130.1
18 Drizztdj 126.6
19 iemblock 122.8
20 Proehl 122.5
21 jek187 121.2
22 Big Pirate 118.6
23 TaoPauly 117.1
24 Chewbot 109.8
25 23skidoo 109.5
26 Mattazuma 107.5
27 change100 105.5
28 Garthmeister J. 99.9
29 meansdude 93.8
30 BigHeeb91 93.7
31 scurvydog 93.3
32 donkeypuncher 89.3
33 Jevanstar 89.1
34 bayne_s 88.2
35 mush237 83.9
36 Otis 79.1
37 jakehead 73.4
38 BobbyBracelet 67.6

Sundays With Dr. Pauly Leaderboard (Top 30):
RTrizzle 866.3
ebk03001 845.6
HermWarfare (Derek) 779.9
bonds 777.7
bayne_s 763.9
Expensive Wino 752.8
Chewbot 750.8
Pokerpeaker 738.4
Pauly 736.8
Zeem 728.9
jek187 728.6
Bobby Bracelet 727.8
Big Pirate 695.2
Mattazuma 688.6
KenB525 683.5
change100 682.1
BigHeeb91 676.1
Mark 669.9
Proehl 656.9
DrizzDJ 655.7
jakehead 645.2
Betty Underground 626.6
Garthmeister J. 619.4
Party Matt 602.6
PokahDave 565.6
VinNay 534.7
mush237 525.1
belly2bar 524.7
DonkeyPuncher 507.6
scurvydog 424.5
Best of luck this weekend!

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Turkey Day

By Pauly
New York City

I have a lot to be thankful this year, especially the people in my life I consider my friends. Thanks for supporting and inspiring me!

Circa 1979

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Bloggers Invading Las Vegas Tips 5.0

By Pauly
New York City

Falstaff and some other bloggers asked me to re-post Bloggers Invading Las Vegas Tips. The next gathering of the bloggers is 17 or so days away and I realized that the timing is now.

It's hard to believe that this is the 5th version of this post and it's still harder to believe that the Prof and I set up the very first one on December of 2004. Anyway, I will cut and paste excerpts from four previous posts and rewrite a few parts on surviving Las Vegas, meeting bloggers for the first time, and advice for Vegas newbies.

Feel free to print this up and hand out copies to your entourage, attorney, and/or parole officer.

Disclaimer: I do not want to disappoint anyone who is meeting me for the first time, but I want to warn you that I am not as wild and crazy as every thinks I am. Expect me to be aloof and heavily inebriated. I will not be showing up in Vegas with two nymphomaniac teenage gymnasts from a Eastern European county that no longer exists, along with an eight-ball of Colombian Snow Flake and a brick of Moroccan hash the size of Herve Villechaize. Believe me, if I had access to those kind of drugs and were able to woo nimble nymphets like that, the last thing I'd be doing would be hanging out in Vegas with you sordid bunch. I'm only showing up for the free booze, a chance to be showered in glowing praise from your random compliments about my writing, and a rare opportunity to see Otis fall down.

So here we go... my Top 20 23 Tips on Surviving Las Vegas:

1. Cut back on sleep immediately.

As of right now, cut back on your sleep by 45 minutes every night and get down to about 3.5 hours of sleep per night. The average Las Vegas visitor gets around 3 hours of sleep and the average poker blogger gets substantially a lot less. Cutting back on sleep right away is an easy way to get adjusted to sleep deprivation by following my simple routine. Seriously, if you are used to getting 8 or more hours per night, you're in trouble.

2. Sip, don't chug.

Pace yourself with your alcohol consumption. Al Cant Hang is a machine. His blood type is 180 Proof because Al is really an alien. He's not of this world. Don't succumb to the frisson of being in a casino bar with all your favorite bloggers and foolishly attempt to keep up. If you do, you'll end up clutching the porcelain God at 4am wondering why the hell that cab driver punched you out after you yakked up your dinner and a half a bottle of Southern Comfort in his back seat. Surviving the Sherwood Forest bar at 9am on the morning of the blogger tournament was a moment I'll never forget. It's a badge of courage like a soldier who managed to get through D-Day without a scratch. I'm glad that we made it through an entire weekend of partying in Vegas the last three Decembers and benders in the last three summers without anyone getting their stomachs pumped at the hospital or landing themselves in the drunk tank at the Clark County jail. Let's keep it that way. Don't get wheeled out of the IP in a wheelchair like Drizz. Moderation is the key to happiness.

3. Water and Motrin are your best friend.

Las Vegas is in the middle of the fuckin' desert. Drink water. Lots of it. I used to try to drink one glass of water per alcoholic beverage consumed. In Vegas I do my best to double that amount. Sure, I'm pissing every eight minutes, but you're head will thank you the next day when you're experiencing a hangover-free morning. One of my biggest expenses in Vegas is my water tab, well that and trips to strip clubs with Grubby.

Motrin is essential for combating hangovers. During college, one of my friends' girlfriend gave me several Motrin after I complained about my bum knee. She took Motrin for cramps and it's a reliable pain killer. If you expect to going running with the bulls and attempt to go shot for shot with AlCantHang, you will most likely die of SoCo poisoning. If you do survive, you will have the worst headache on the planet and wish you were dead. Dr. Pauly suggests taking four Motrin every three hours after a night of heavy drinking.

Also, I credit Kat for turning me onto Perrier last December. It's great to drink first thing in the morning. Or if you're stomach is churning after too much booze, drink some ginger ale.

4. Bring a cell phone charger.

Don't forget one. Since you will be staying up from anywhere from 20-36 hours straight, you might want to make sure your cell is charged before you begin your gambling session. With bloggers in town, having a phone will be necessary to arrange meetings or if you need someone to post bail money. Besides, you should throw your loved ones at home a bone every 12 hours and send them a drunken text message or get someone on the horn for a Dial-a-Shot. When you are sleeping, charge up your phone during the few hours that you're crashed out.

5. Take pictures.

Come on, I know you geeky bloggers can't wait to spice up your Vegas trip reports with pictures. I encourage it, especially if you have never been to Vegas before. Don't be afraid to go camera happy and take more pictures than a menagerie of Osaka businessmen. Bring a camera, even if it's one of those disposable ones for $7. You have to leave Vegas with at least one good story and at least one good picture.

6. Ask before you post pictures on the internet.

If you are a person who thinks they look awful in photos or is just camera shy or they want to keep their identity a secret, then by all means please tell everyone now. Conversely, if you are going to post pictures of bloggers, please respect people's privacy or their wishes of anonymity, make sure you get their consent with the exception of anyone who passes out in my room like the Poker Geek (pictured above) or Bill Rini. My ugly mug is all over the internet, so snap away. There's a reason there are no pictures of Iggy on the internet. Let's help keep it that way.

7. Speak your mind and stay in the moment.

One of my regrets of these trips is not making enough time for everyone. I simply assumed that I'll have time later in the trip to shoot the shit and play cards with everyone, but that never happens. Don't make that crucial mistake. If you have the chance to talk to someone, take advantage of that opportunity. If you see Miami Don at the pisser, seize the moment to talk shop with him. You never know what might happen during your time in Vegas. With such a big group, you won't have time for "quality one-on-one time" so whenever you cross paths with a fellow blogger, whether it's Otis sitting by himself at the Pai Gow table at 4am or running into Bad Blood at the Bellagio at 2am or shooting craps with Obie at the Plaza... stop by and shoot the shit. You won't regret it.

And don't feel shy or intimidated about saying what you want to me or anybody else. Our time is limited, so speak up! If you want to ask me questions, feel free. If you want blogging advice, just ask. If you want to buy me a drink, let's do it. If you want to go to strip clubs, then let's find AlCantHang.

8. Understand that it will be impossible to spend quality time with everyone.

I have already accepted the fact that I will not be able to hang out with everyone, even my friends and my brother Derek. With the huge number of people involved with this event, it will be impossible to find blocks of unfettered time to spend with everyone. Expect splintered conversations that last about five minutes or ten minutes if you are lucky. Use meals and time at the poker tables as an opportunity to get to know your fellow bloggers.

So please understand ahead of time that I'm gonna feel horrible that we didn't get to spend quality time together. However, whatever time we do spend, it's going to be special and meaningful for me... so let's just have fun and live in the moment. I'm sure we'll all get together in a smaller setting at sometime in the future.

9. Don't be Gigli.

Former winners of the Gigli Award include:
Dec. 2004: Bill Rini
Jun. 2005: Poker Nerd
Dec. 2005: Tanya
Jul. 2006: Spaceman
Dec. 2006: Easy Cure
Jun. 2007: Kram420
Dec. 2007: ????
If you bust out first in the blogger tournament, then you will awarded the infamous Gigli DVD for coming in last place. I bought a new copy of Gigli (how sad is it when the postage costs more than the actual DVD?) which I will be giving to the first blogger out of the Holiday Classic tournament. Will it be you? And rest assured I will torment you for the rest of the year with chants of "Gigli! Gigli!" in your chatbox every time you play on PokerStars.

10. Never underestimate the importance of a $20 tip.

Do you wanna get shit done in Vegas? Tip the hell out of every person you see. I'm from New York City and we tip everyone. In a town like Vegas, most of the people working in the service industry are not paid extravagantly. They rely on tips to supplement their wages. You would be surprised how much attention you can get with a simple $20 tip. Heck that's like one big bet for some of you.

Example #1: I call this move The Grubbette. When you check into a hotel and they ask for your credit card, carefully place a folded up $20 bill underneath your card. As the front desk person is picking up the cash and card, quickly ask them if they can bump you up to a better room. It never fails. But then again, Grubbette is a lot cuter than me!

Example #2: I called around to find a reservation for dinner on Easter Sunday, I found out that every place was booked. Grubby, Senor and I made plans to meet Flip Chip and Poker Prof at Ceaser's Palace. I decided to pop into The Palm to see if they had any open tables. The hostess checked her reservations book and said she didn't have any open spots for us. When I spotted two open tables, I slipped her $20 and said "Did anyone every tell ya that you have beautiful eyes? By the way, can you check again? That's Dr. Pauly, for a party of five." We were seated within five minutes.

There is only one instance where I will tell you to save your tips... and that's in a strip club. Never, under any circumstances give a stripper a tip. If I find out you did, I will smack you personally.

Now if you think $20 gets you a long way... try tipping $40 or $100.

11. Food is fuel.

If you have the opportunity to eat, do it because you never know when you might never have another chance to get some grub. At the first ever gathering of the tribes, I never saw Iggy eat one bite during our last trip. He was on the ciggies and Guinness gambler's diet. And never drink on an empty stomach.

12. Wear comfortable shoes.

As a native New Yorker, I walk everywhere and I'm used to trudging along for five or six miles in a day. If you are a lazy fuck who's a slave to their vehicle, then start walking a mile or two everyday to get your legs in shape. Plus if you want to walk the Strip, everything appears much closer in the desert. Otis can tell you how wonderful Ecco shoes are. I have a pair and wear them all the time.

13. Bring a watch.

There are exactly six clocks in the entire city of Las Vegas and you won't see any of them in an actual casino.

14. Keep your gambling bankroll separate from your other cash.

I think this one is self-explanatory. Don't bring more cash to Vegas than you are willing to lose. Always keep your bankroll separate from your strip club money. You'll thank me later.

15. $50 bills are bad luck.

Don't feel weird about asking to change in your $50 bills. That is one superstition I've been following every since Grubby clued me in.

16. Avoid the slots.

Grubby will try to turn you over to the dark side of gambling and get you to hit the Mr. Cashman slots with him at 3am. Resist the temptation!

17. Don't tell people at your poker table that you have a poker blog.

Please for the love of God, do not tell anyone you're in town for a poker bloggers convention. Why don't we just slap the loser mark right on our foreheads? The only thing worse would be to mention we're at a MySpace pedophile convention. I never tell "civilians" that I'm a blogger. If they recognize me, then that's fine. But never reveal who you are. Because if you do, then you can't talk about them or make fun of them in our blog!! And please don't out me at the tables to civilians. If anyone says, "Do you know who that is?" and points to me will get to experience the wrath of The Rooster.

You're in Vegas. It's a surreal place. Make shit up. Pretend you're a fish. I lie to dealers, strippers, cab drivers, and my tablemates all the time when I'm in Vegas. During previous trips, I've told random strangers that I was a marine biologist, an aquarium salesman, a trumpet player in a Latin jazz band, a radiologist, and my favorite... that I've just got out of prison. The ladies seem to like that one. Bottom line is this: if you can't successfully lie to the people at your table and if you are unable to convince them that you are in fact an astronaut, then you shouldn't be playing poker in Las Vegas. Go home and fire up Poker Stars instead.

During this trip I intend on telling folks that I'm former priest who left the church to pursue a career in professional sports betting where I get my picks from conversations with St. Peter. Or I'm thinking about being the malcontent heir to the "Spork" fortune. A spork is not a fork, but not quite a spoon. One of my fraternity brothers in college used that line to try to pick up girls in bars. He even convinced a few that he had a spork shaped swimming pool. And if I happen to stumble into a strip bar, my cover story will be that I'm the tour manager for a metal band called The Al Cant Hang Experience.

18. Bring a jacket and sunglasses.

Sloshr suggested that I tell everyone to bring a jacket or sweater. It gets cold in Las Vegas in December so pack something warm. It's cold in parking decks and most card rooms have high powered A/C.

19. Never burn the locals.

Hunter S. Thompson mentioned that in Fear in Loathing in Las Vegas and it's the travelers mantra. Never, ever piss off the locals. That includes hotel and casino staff. They live in Vegas and don't need your drunk ass berating them.

20. Don't get rolled by a hooker.

This is self-explanatory. But if you have the desire to hire a working girl at the nearest Hooker Bar, then make sure you're not too drunk and never flash around your bankroll because you will get robbed. A 2005 WSOP bracelet winner picked up two hookers to celebrate his win and not only did he get rolled, they also stole his bracelet.

Also, be very careful of frisky girls in bars. You might think your mojo is in high gear or that all the women you meet in Vegas are super friendly, but they are usually not. They might be on the job, or they might just be a pickpocket. They usually target extremely drunk guys, so try not to get so shitfaced that you become a target to be rolled.

21. Avoid hangovers. Stay drunk.

If you need to puke, stick your finger down your throat and pull the trigger. You'll feel a lot better afterwards. Warm ginger ale is your friend, or any kind of warm soda like 7-up or Sprite. Perrier and Motrin always do the trick for me. And you can always start drinking as soon as you wake up to avoid a hangover.

22. Get off the Strip.

Take a side trip away from the Strip. Head to a locals casino like Red Rock or Green Valley Ranch. Take a drive through Red Rock Canyon national park. Head downtown and check out the Gambler's Book Store. Leaving the Strip is a great thing to do if you happen to go broke. It happens so if you do, you can always check out a post I wrote for Las Vegas Vegas called Things to Do in Las Vegas if You're Broke...

23. Don't die.

"I'm surprised no one has died on these trips," mentioned Iggy to me during one of the last get togethers. We both laughed but I could tell there was a tinge of seriousness to his comment.

Don't do something stupid and die from being an idiot. Not only will you be dead, but that would put an end to these gatherings and ruin the fun for a lot of people who desperately need a week in Vegas to escape from their hectic lives. Believe me, you don't want to be known for the rest of eternity as that dude (or that chick) who puked on their own vomit and died after passing out on the Monorail. Have fun, but just don't get yourself killed.

On that note, over the last couple of years, Las Vegas has been riddled with random incidents of crime that are trickling down to the Strip. Yes, there have been some shootings and drunks do drive up onto the street from time to time, so always be careful no matter where you go. There is a lot of gang activity in Vegas, but that usually goes down in North Las Vegas. The gangs avoid the Strip and the three or so shootings this year have been random and isolated incidents from lone gunmen.

Last year one blogger was robbed at gunpoint. If you are in parking garages make sure you are not being followed. If your hotel does not check keys to get access to the elevators, make sure no one suspicious is following you to your floor. It's not rude to chose not to get in an elevator with someone or several people you don't know. Sure it's a tad paranoid, but safety is always the key especially if you are holding large sums of money.

Be careful with what you leave around in your hotel room. If your room has a safe, use it. Although not all maids have sticky fingers, no need to tempt them by leaving out an iPod or anything of value.

And if you are robbed by an assailant with a weapon, don't be a hero. Just delay the situation long enough to get a good description of the person, then take your money out of your pursue/pocket and throw it one way while you immediately run the other. The tweaker or thug just wants your money, so toss it and haul ass.

* * * * *

OK that's it for now. Those were my half-baked ideas on how to survive Las Vegas. If you can remember half of these, then you should make it home in one piece. The event is what you make out of it. So come with an open mind, relax, and have fun at the 4th Annual Holiday Classic.

And if you are looking for any poker tournaments to play in while you are in town, check out Poker Prof's Las Vegas poker tournament directory. Or if you are looking for a room to play in, check out his Las Vegas poker room directory.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Friday, November 16, 2007

No Accidents

By Pauly
New York City

Unable to find a local card room to play in New York City, and too lazy to drive out to Atlantic City or Foxwoods, I have turned to the internet to get my gambling fix. And why not? The internet is a bastion for lonely souls who troll the intertubes seeking entertainment, love, bizarre porn sites, redemption, attention, and simplistic meanings to their complex, yet mundane lives.

Me? I'm looking for action. I'm on vacation, technically, but I'm trying my best to slow down and have a relaxing couple of weeks. I've been laying off the hard stuff and had not had a drop of alcohol since my return to NYC. I've also been jogging again and watching the foods that I eat in an attempt to shed fifteen pounds. I've been trying to be as organic as possible and have been avoiding any sort of pharmacopoeia that frequently passes through my bloodstream on a weekly basis. In short, it's been clean living.

And, I swore off big time sports betting.

"No more dropping two dimes on NBA games?" wondered Schecky.

Sigh. Unfortunately. No more bets until December and then it's only a few hundred on the NFL. And no more betting on basketball, unless I get a tip that a game is fixed. Then how could I not get in on that action?

I'm kinda itching for something. Anything. I had to stop betting on Swedish hockey. I quit while I was ahead. Sooner or later, I was going to fall under the shadow of a wicked batch of dark and dismal Swedish karma. I'd spin out of control after a vicious losing streak. The next thing I know, I'm dropping two dimes on Nykopings against IF Sundsvall just to break even. I knew absolutely nothing about Swedish hockey, yet I was betting on it. I couldn't even watch the games to sweat my bets. And why did I bet? Because I could.

As the saying goes... action is action.

I discovered that the more poker that I play, the less that I gamble otherwise. And vice versa, the less poker that I play, the more gambling I engage in. Like there's some specific quotient inside my body that I must be doing some sort of gambling at all times, otherwise I'll explode.

Perhaps deep down, way down inside the hallways of my mind, where those existentialist thoughts fester, that the reason I'm gambling is not to win or not to lose. But rather to give something meaningless.... meaning. For example, just a few months ago, I had no concept of the Swedish HockeyAllsvenskan League. Those games were utterly meaningless to me. But as soon as I wagered £100 on the game, it has meaning. It has a purpose. And more importantly, I have a purpose.

That's a punk-ass way of admitting that I'm frightened and cannot figure out why the hell I'm here, so I'm recklessly gambling in order to feel what it's like to be alive.

There's nothing quite like that moment of pure ecstasy when time slows down and your entire fate is determined by a single free throw...

or one pitch...

or one penalty kick...

or a field goal attempt...

or even from the turn of a card.

Addicts shoot junk into their veins to attain that rush. Nymphomaniacs fuck their brains out to hit that high. Yogis mediates for days straight to become one with the universe. And we can get that same exact feeling by gambling.

Or maybe I'm just addicted to the rush and I justify my entire degenerate behavior on a bullshit philosophical quest? Maybe it's both?

"In the magical universe there are no coincidences and there are no accidents. Nothing happens unless someone wills it to happen," said William S. Burroughs. He was a functioning addict and well-known junkie who lived into his 80s.

I need to gamble. If not sports betting, then online poker. I've plaed everyday since I've been back from Australia. I can't seem to turn a profit on PokerStars so I've been lingering in the shadows of Full Tilt. But there's not enough full ring limit hold'em tables running on FT and I end up on PokerStars playing 10/20 and 15/30.

Maybe the players are better? Or maybe they are worse?

Maybe I just suck at poker or my stars are not aligned this month? Maybe I need my charts read again by that hippie chick in Seattle that I used to buy mushrooms from?

Bottom line, I'm not as profitable on PokerStars. I found myself hitting and running at short-handed limit hold'em (which I don't like playing) on FT at odd hours because that's the only 8/16 or 10/20 games running. The variance is so tremendous and the swings are huge. After I log off of FT, I don't feel satisfied. I get that same feeling after I eat Chinese Food. Sure I ate... but I'm still hungry.



I have a relentless appetite for action. I'm such a fuckin' stone cold junkie that I quickly fire up PokerStars to try my luck again at the full ring tables. Sometimes limit is too boring and too slow and I drift over and play PLO to get some real action. I had a couple of blah sessions of PLO and not feeling great about my game. My big draws have not been hitting and I've been getting felted more often than I'd like.

Alas, I'm stuck at PokerStars this week as I'm sucked into a weird cycle of reluctance and indecision. I don't want to play there, but it's the only place where I can find a game I want, but I end up losing there, so maybe that's not my game. All of this circular logic makes me dizzy.

Maybe I should just bet on basketball? It's so much simpler.

Game selection is always important over the long run. That's what I've been told by pros. That's what I've read in books. That's even the advice I give to beginners. Even in the short run, game selection is key. Sometimes my game plan is called fish selection. That's when I log on and find my favorite fish playing at a table, I begin to salivate and quickly join the waiting list for that game. I chase the fish. I hunt them down. Shit, someone is going to felt those snot-nosed minstrels eventually. It might as well be me.

I've been running well since I returned from Australia. Nothing too exciting to report aside from playing a lot of 3/6 and 5/10 HORSE on both Stars and FT. I usually sit down during Razz and then I'll sit out during O8 or if I do play O8, I'm playing super super tight. It's my weakest game and there's no reason for me to bleed chips during that level.

Enjoyed playing Stud (the game I started playing in casinos back in 1994) and even Razz. I used to loathe Razz. Well, I still do. I dig it when I'm making my hands. But I'm driven insane when I'm catching brick after brick after brick. It's a love-hate relationship and at times is just as volatile as Sid Vicious & Nancy Spungen's star-crossed love affair including the knives and heroin.

I've discovered that I make my most money in HORSE cash games during Razz and Stud levels. The best thing about HORSE is that at any given time, you're playing against someone who is possibly playing their weakest game. Mistakes happen more frequently during mixed games and that's how you make money... by taking advantage of your opponents mistakes. Over the long run that's profitable, but over the short run, you're susceptible to a lot of bad beats.

By the way, I played in the Mookie on Wednesday. I finished in 40th place out of 112 or so. I won a pot early when I flopped a set of nines. Then I took some chips off of Waffles. I busted a player (sorry I forgot who and I'm too lazy to look at the hand history) to get most of my chips. He raised from the CO and I called from the big blind with Q-7. The flop was Q-7-x. I checked and so did he. The turn was an Ace. I bet the pot and he moved all in with Big Slick. I quickly called. My big blind special held up and I was in good shape.

By the end of the first break, I was in the Top 10 in chips. Then I lost a monsterpotten. It would have put me into the chiplead. JoeMav raised 3x BB UTG and I woke up with Aces in the small blind. Everyone folded to me and I jammed for almost 12x the BB. He called with 10-10. The flop was 9-7-6. I moved all in and he called. The turn was an Ace and I had a set. He still had outs to a gutshot and one of them spiked on the river. I thought I was out, but had like 30 chips left. I doubled up three times on weak hands but ended up finishing in 40th place.

Lastly, Miami Don is hosting a Big Game this Sunday. It's part of AlCantHang's BBT2 series where you can win a seat to the Aussie Millions. There's other weekly blogger events also involved including Mondays at the Hoy, The Mookie, and the Riverchasers. All of those events are hosted at Full Tilt.

Since I'm contractually obligated to cover the Aussie Millions, I'm not trying to win a seat. I'm pretty much donating to the cause. I will try to play as many events as I can, time permitting over the next several weeks. If you'd like to play in any of those tournaments listed and don't have a Full Tilt account, you can simply download Full Tilt.
Tournament: Blogger Big Game
When: Sunday, November 18th, 21:30 ET
Where: Full Tilt
Game: NLHE Deepstack
Buyin: $69+6 or Tier II token
Password: donkey

Tournament: Mondays at the Hoy
When: Every Monday. 10pm ET
Where: Full Tilt
Game: NLHE Deepstack
Buyin: $24+2
Password: hammer

Tournament: The Mookie
When: Every Wednesday. 10pm ET
Where: Full Tilt
Game: NLHE Deepstack
Buyin: $10+1
Password: vegas1

Tournament: Riverchasers Online Poker Tour
When: Every Thursday. 21:00 ET
Where: Full Tilt
Game: NLHE Deepstack
Buyin: $10+1

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


By Pauly
New York City

If you have been reading my main blog over the last few weeks, you know that I've been struggling with a lack of direction and having an insanely cluttered life. I've been mulling over decisions about how to implement changes with my life, specifically with writing.

Here's what I wrote over at Tao of Pauly:
I had been wasting my time as a writer and allowed several years to pass by without evolving. I've felt that my ability has been stuck in the same phase for several years. I've been wanting to experiment with new approaches to writing and have a slew of creative projects that I'd like to pursue. Sadly, I don't have the time to do either since I'm caught up in that eternal struggle between art and commerce. I've been focusing more on commerce the last few years and finally gave in and accepted my role as an entertainer and not as a writer. I've been compensated well for that but over the last few months I have been wanting to break out and go my own way.

Luckily Bluff Magazine gave me an opportunity to write more creatively within the poker and gambling genre. But that's more like putting a band-aid on a gushing wound. I need more. When I bottle up all that angst and frustration, and I'm not allowed to create, it spills over into my personal life and depression seethes underneath the surface. I've been swept up in that metamorphosis more and more over the last year. I'm going to have to do something about it soon and come up with a solution and balanced life where I can continue the obligations and responsibilities that I have and at the same time, blaze a new trail that will make me content as a writer and allow me to unleash everything I have inside.
After spending ten months writing for others and bouncing all over the world, I took off the last two months of the year to focus on writing for myself. I started a new personal project. I have no idea if I will complete it, but I had gotten to a point where I had to try.

It's hard to explain, although 2007 has been the most successful of my life there were moments when I was utterly miserable. Sure I made some money along the way, but money doesn't secure happiness. I also paid a sincere price for all those insane hours and all that time on the road. I'm run down physically from jumping all those time zones. And I'm mentally drained from too much business travel.

My friends who have normal jobs and that do not work in the poker industry are baffled when I explain that the last thing I want to do after an assignment is hang out in a casino and play poker.

Poker used to be my passion. For many others it's their only passion. It's a hobby. An addiction. It's an escape from everyday realities. Life is brutal, unforgiving, and unpredictable. Most of you endure bullshit jobs and have to work for unappreciative bosses and nits. Your social life is not what it used to be or has reached a point of stagnation. But poker is a salve, a savior, a dues ex machina and that light at the end of the tunnel. You spend any free moment testing our company's firewalls by reading forums and poker blogs. And as soon as you get home, you fire up your favorite online poker site and play for hours until your ass goes numb and until you can't tell if that card on the turn is the 10c or the 10s. You finally quit because you have to get up and go to work the next day and reluctantly shuffle off to bed with thoughts of river suckouts and flopping sets are rattling in your mind as your head hits the pillow. Then you wake up and the process repeats itself. The cycle continues.

Alas, after a while the coolness factor of working in poker wears off and it becomes a job. And by definition all jobs suck. Although I'm fortunate and have a unique situation. I wouldn't want to trade what I do for 99% of the other menial tasks out there, but working in the poker industry can be a grind and the gambling demons punch holes into your soul. Lots of people I have met along the way burn out. Others fade away. Some go completely crazy and freak out, never to be seen again. There's a lot of turnover in the poker industry. Mostly everyone is underpaid and the ones who can find a better job move on quickly.

For a while I fed the monster and my entire life revolved around poker. I breathed, ate, drank, and snorted poker. Almost all of my daily activities were poker-related. There was no separation between work and my personal life. That's never good. The unbalanced ones rarely survive and I slowly slid into the abyss. I succumbed to the dark side. I got so deep into the shit that the only thing for me to do was quit before I imploded. And I walked away for a while.

That sabbatical lasted two or three days before I came to my senses. When I returned in the Spring of 2006, I made a conscious effort to separate my personal life from my work life. That meant I spent as much time away from poker as possible. The immediate result was that I felt happier and my writing flourished. I scaled back on clients and had more time to write instead of overextending myself which I did. I followed Flipchip's fatherly advice of "Work smarter, not harder."

I made time for things that had been absent from my life such a relationship and spending more quality time with friends. But after a while, more things got shoved onto my plate and before I noticed it, I was back to where I started. Overwhelmed and unable to sit and relax for a minute before it was time to take off to a new place.

As I found myself with less and less free time, I started coming up with better ideas and philosophies of time management. I was able to reduce wasteful time by limiting my blog/entertainment reading and my always looming email problems (I get too much). But instead of putting that time to good use (like seeing a concert or reading a book or sleeping or speaking to an old friend), I allocated that extra time to doing... more work. In essence, I added more hours of work per week instead of reducing them.

That's when I realized it was time for a change. An overhaul. I revamped how prioritize my time and any time that I saved I would allocate to something good, fun, and positive for my life... such as reading books or catching up with friends or getting in shape. I also vowed to reduce my work schedule and any time I was able to save, I would allocate to working on personal writing and creative projects. Anyone who has been a freelancer or owned their own business knows that it's a 24/7/365 job and that you are rarely disconnected. My goal was to eliminate that mentality and be able to conduct business inside of two days per week, which would free up five full days for myself. Twenty hour work week in two days. My experiment over the next few weeks is to set aside two consecutive days where I will focus on work and then take five off for creative activities, which could include playing more poker.

During the last year, I discovered that I had less time per day to read blogs and websites. Surfing the web became nonexistent because of time limitations. I would return from a trip and discover that I had 1,459 unread posts in Bloglines. In order to get through them I started skimming. Everything., poker blogs, items from the Drudge Report, and articles from the Wall Street Journal. I came to the conclusion that was all a waste of time. Skimming didn't accomplish anything and that's when I scaled back my Bloglines folder. The immediate result... I saved time and I paid more attention to the few items I did read.

I relied on my friends to keep me up to date with certain genres like sports, music, poker, politics, and entertainment. If there's anything important, I'll eventually hear about it anyway. Like the Absolute Poker Scandal. Or Joe Torre leaving the Yankees. Instead of wasting my time away sifting through the static, I eventually weened myself off the notion that I have to read everything possible in my Bloglines folder or what I have bookmarked. Simplify. I made the incessant mindless chatter disappear and now I'll use that time more wisely.

I wrote three of the biggest checks of my life this year which went to the IRS, my student loan lender, and most recently to an asset management firm. After managing my own money for all of my adult life, I decided to hand over my finances to professionals. I guess you can say that I'm outsourcing my financial future to a bunch of Wall Street thugs. I had to swallow a lot of pride because I used to manage money for a living. But the fact of the matter, I was only doing slightly better than the market and didn't have the time to keep up with everything to be a savvy individual investor. I made the decision to seek professional guidance. My money is in better hands now. And the transfer to an asset management firm has given me more free time. I used to have to pay close attention to my positions and holdings and read hundreds of articles and reports a week. I'll be saving time and making more money in the process. All that extra time I can now allocate towards personal writing projects.

I also had to come up with a solution to my email problem. I stopped reading/answering several times a day and limited myself to email in two increments of 60 minutes each. Of course there are exceptions and due to my weird schedule I have to answer/send emails at odd times. My goal is reduce my email interaction to an hour a day. I also stopped reading email before I go to bed and avoid reading email until a couple of hours into the day. I triage my email and read/answer as much as I can in an hour. If I can't... then I can't. If you sent me something and I never got to it... well that's what happens. I don't want to become a slave to the machines and I'm trying to get my life back. I'm sure that you understand.

My other solution is to get a virtual assistant and outsource several other aspects of my life. There's an personal concierge service based out of India that Tim Ferris (the author of The 4-Hour Work Week) uses to help him with research and other areas. My quest to get an intern for the Tao of Poker during the 2006 WSOP failed. Miserably. But Get Friday can be the answer to a lot of my problems. I signed up and will begin the process of interviewing my own personal assistant. Since it's based in India, the costs are under $10 hour. For a couple of big bets, I can get my own personal assistant from India to sort through all my email a couple of days a week. Man, maybe I can even get a couple of guest posts written for me?

The excess of traveling influenced how I thought about the concept of stuff. And things. I never realized how many useless things I used to have. Now, I have very little stuff and I'm always looking for an excuse to get rid of things. Not having a home over the last three years allowed me to experience the freedom to escape attachments and personal possessions. All I have is what I can carry on my back. And even then, I'm traveling lighter and lighter every day. I bought a new backpack a few months ago and it was smaller than my older one. That forced me to travel lighter.

I own very few material items. No place to live. No car. No furniture. I sold almost 80% of all of my books. My only possessions include a few paintings, Dead bootlegs, and boxes of mementos, photo albums, and souvenirs that I've collected along the way. There's nothing else except a couple of Brooks Brothers suits collecting dust in a closet in somewhere in NYC. I even donated the majority of my old clothes to the local church. Someone who needs a shirt or a jacket more than me should have it.

I even started carrying a smaller wallet. BG told me about the slimmy wallet. I started using it overseas and I've since put it to good use in America. I used to have a monster of a wallet of the George Costanza variety. Now, I just carry cash, an ATM card, my ID, and a Metrocard. Did I really need to have 57 different business cards in my wallet? Of course not.

What I'm doing with making some changes is nothing special. I finally had time to think about the last couple of years and assess how I've handled myself and my life. I'm proud of some areas and ashamed of others. My past is cluttered with mistakes but that's experience. Or life's hard knocks. And I'm sure I'll make more in the future. But I'm a gambler and I'm at a point where I'm not comfortable with the path I'm heading down. So I'm going to blaze my own trail and hopefully I'll find that original path that I started out down. We all get sidetracked in life. But so very few of us have the courage to change direction or go back to the point where you made your last turn off and proceed to venture the other way.

What does this mean for you the reader? I have no idea. Maybe I will post less. Maybe I will find time to post more. I'm hoping to find more time to play poker, which means I might have more to say about the topic. Bottom line, my goal is to improve as a writer and that includes my output here.

I have only one assignment between now and the 2008 WSOP and that's covering the Aussie Millions in January for It's still too early to decide who I'll write for during the WSOP, but I have been having thoughts about writing exclusively for Tao of Poker. Of course, that's good news for everyone if I make that vital decision. Or maybe I'll just whore myself out to the highest bidder. After all, I am a hired gun.

There are dozens of other assignments available to me right now. I have already turned down gigs to cover tournaments in Sydney and Macau. Over the next few weeks I have to make a decision about whether or not I want to follow the circus around next Spring or pass up on it completely. Wow, if I would be able to just write and travel and play poker between the Aussie Millions and the WSOP, then that would be as close to nirvana as I can get.

It's a goal. An appealing goal and I'm gonna try to pull it off. With the help of my patient friends and my new sidekick from India, anything is possible.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sundays with Dr. Pauly - Week 5 Update and FSL News

By Pauly
New York City

Man, I donated this past weekend after an atrocious showing in Sundays with Dr. Pauly over at Fantasy Sports Live. If you played this week, you were almost guaranteed to get a better score than me as I finished in next to last place. Sorry, Mush. With my spotty performance, a few more players managed to qualify for the freeroll.

Freeroll Qualifiers (6): Bobby Bracelet, RTrizzle, ebk03001, Chewbot, bonds, and Mattazuma.

Players who have beat me in two consecutive weeks: change100, jek187, Expensive Wino, BigHeeb91, Pokerpeaker, Big Pirate, KenB25, Proehl, DrizzDJ, Mark, PokahDave, VinNay, Troyinator69, and Jevanstar. They all need to beat me for one more week to qualify for the freeroll.

Congrats to Jakehead for winning Week 5. RTrizzle still holds the overall lead.

Sundays with Dr. Pauly - Week 5 Results:
1 jakehead 135.5
2 VinNay 130.7
3 Family Guy 129.8
4 Zeem 125.2
5 23skidoo 123.8
6 HermWarfare 122.6
7 Troyinator69 121
8 RTrizzle 118.5
9 ebk03001 115.1
10 bayne_s 114.3
11 BigHeeb91 112.8
12 scurvydog 110.9
13 Drizztdj 110.3
14 Chewbot 107.5
15 Alpo_Splatr 107.4
16 BobbyBracelet 104.9
17 bonds 104.9
18 Garthmeister J. 101.3
19 KenB525 97.8
20 donkeypuncher 95.4
21 Mark 94.4
22 Proehl 93.3
23 Pokerpeaker 91.7
24 Betty Underground 89.9
25 jek187 87.8
26 Expensive Wino 85.2
27 PokahDave 85
28 Party Matt 85
29 KingBack 83.4
30 Mattazuma 82.8
31 Jevanstar 81.3
32 Big Pirate 80.6
33 johnnieb 78.8
34 change100 73.4
35 TaoPauly 73.1
36 mush237 58.7

Overall Standings:
1 RTrizzle 718
2 ebk03001 702.8
3 bayne_s 675.7
4 Bobby Bracelet 660.2
5 HermWarfare 649.7
6 Chewbot 641
7 Dr. Pauly 619.7
8 bonds 613.7
9 jek187 607.4
10 Expensive Wino 604.5
11 Party Matt 602.6
12 Zeem 594.3
13 BigHeeb91 582.4
14 Mattazuma 581.1
15 Pokerpeaker 578.5
16 change100 576.6
17 Big Pirate 576.6
18 jakehead 571.8
19 KenB525 542.8
20 Proehl 534.4
21 DrizzDJ 529.1
22 Garthmeister J. 519.5
23 Betty Underground 496.5
24 Mark 496.2
25 mush237 441.2
26 PokahDave 422.8
27 DonkeyPuncher 418.3
28 Joe Speaker 408.3
29 belly2bar 388.2
30 Alpo_Splatr 381.8
31 VinNay 373
32 scurvydog 331.2
33 Lounge9 324.9
34 Chico's Bail Bonds 319.1
35 Victory 278.9
36 johnnieb 258.5
37 Troyinator69 243.1
38 Family Guy 232.2
39 23skidoo 227.3
40 Jevanstar 212.6
41 GCox25 205.5
42 Mookie 188.2
43 Digger 173.5
44 Al Can't Hang 164.4
45 Bill Belicheat 155
46 Miami Don 151
47 Smokkee 140.2
48 RJ 121.6
49 Jack D 121.1
50 fantasy 116.9
51 Bad Ass Mofo 114.8
52 DontDoItPls 107.2
53 Chuckdnb 106.2
54 Lord Bodak 104.5
55 Madden 93.9
56 Otis 90.7
57 spotcheck13 89.5
58 Draft Master Mike 84
59 KingBack 83.4
60 McGuyver 81.2
Best of luck this weekend.

* * * * *

Are you a fantasy hockey junkie? How about fantasy basketball? We have a fix for your jones. Fantasy Sports Live recently introduced contests for both the NBA and the NHL, starting as low as $1. So now, you don't have to wait until the weekend to play a football contest.

Hope to see you there. If you do not have a FSL account, join today using my bonus code... pauly.

Bonus Code: Pauly

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Writer's Strike, Studs, and Pics

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Well I'm back in America. Almost. In Hollyweird for a few days showing solidarity for my fellow writers in the WGA who are on strike. They bust their asses coming up with original material for your favorite TV shows, late night talk shows, and movies... and have been getting screwed by The Man. Time for them to get a bigger piece of the pie.

In case you have no idea what is going on, here's why the writers are on strike...
"Simply put, we want to be paid for what we create. The producers don't want to pay us.

Writers, actors, and directors (and there are others too) are paid in two ways: 'up-front' when the work is completed and 'deferred' later when the product we've created makes more money for the company, usually because it was sold into a new market.

One of the key provisions of the current negotiation is based on that simple fact: we're paid for our work in television or a film; now that work is being sold on the internet, so there should be a formula that calculates that additional payment."
Looks like the strike might be a while. Check out United Hollywood, a blog written by strike captains.

I don't have the time to write while I'm in Hollyweird, but I will when I get back to NYC on Monday. I should be back in a couple of days. For now, here are a few things to keep you entertained and occupied...

Michele Lewis added Part II of her Studs of Poker Interview with yours truly. Check it out.

Mean Gene posted Part 2 of a series over at Las Vegas Vegas called Online Poker Legal and Political Opponents...Part 2.

By the way, the next time you are going to Las Vegas and are looking for a tournament to play in, the Poker Prof has compiled a comprehensive Las Vegas poker tournament directory.

The Prof also whipped up another cool feature called the Las Vegas Poker Room Directory which provides detailed information about various Las Vegas poker room.

* * * * *

Stopped for an autograph in front of the Sydney Opera House

I published some new photos on Flickr including the one with the little Korean kid above. Check out my Australia II gallery which contains over 140 pics from the Poker News Cup, Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island, Sydney, and Manly Beach.

I also added a couple of new photos to the Pauly Food Gallery.

And the Tao of Bacon has been updated.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.