Thursday, April 30, 2009

Placemat Superpanchos, Pig Profiteers, Iron Man IX, and PLO Malaise

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

There's a company in Argentina that makes paper placemats. They were in at least two different eateries that I visited in Mar del Plata. Although the colors varied, the designs were similar. See the above picture to get a better grasp of the placemat. There will be a quiz shortly.

Five of us sat down at a restaurant during the dinner break. Our choices were limited because the dinner break was before 7pm and Argentinians did not eat dinner until 8pm or even later. We sat down in one joint across the street from the hotel. Otis was in a gambling mood from the get go. Although the menus were in Spanish, we pretty much knew what we were ordering.

However, there was one unknown item on the menu. A Superpancho. It came con queso or sin queso (that translates into with cheese or without cheese). Otis never bothered to ask the surly waiter what the contents the Superpancho. He wanted to be surprised and ordered a Superpancho... con queso.

All I knew was that whatever Otis ordered, it was gonna be definitely lathered in cheese. We wondered if it was some massive steak sandwich... or some sort of Argentinian version of a club sandwich.

Fifteen minutes later, the waiter returned with our dishes. To Otis surprise, the waiter plopped down a plate. Finally, the Superpancho was unveiled.

Talk about a bust. It was just a foot long hot dog. With a slice of barely melted cheese resting on top of the most overhyped hot dog I had ever seen.

Otis whiffed on the Superpancho, but he had a chance to win some money playing Placemat Roulette. Look at the above picture. There were ten or so different images. I would write down one image in my notebook. Then I gave everyone a chance to guess my pick. The odds started out at 8-1 and I allowed them to bet anywhere from 1 peso to 100 pesos. After the first person missed their guess, the odds dropped to 7-1, and then to 6-1 and if it got that far, down to 5-1.

I obviously had the edge as the house, but Change100, Joe, Otis and MeanGene wanted to play. They craved action. On the first run, I picked a Highball glass. Everyone whiffed and I collected 40 pesos. I pretty much won almost every time except once... when Otis nearly busted the bank when he miraculously picked correctly. I had to pay him off at 7-1 odds.

Here's a video montage of my travels in Argentina.

* * * * *

Over the weekend, I did my homework and researched four different pharmaceutical companies that stood to profit from the Swine Flu. I targeted BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, and Quidel. I jumped out of bed extremely on Monday morning because I was on the West Coast and didn't want to miss the opening bell. The rush returned. That feeling I forgot. The adrenaline. Mounting as the time slowly approached.

Within a few hours, I was mentally exhausted as I sat on the edge of my seat with every uptick and gobbled up every ounce of news from Mexico City about the swine flu. There was so much chatter that I had no idea what to believe.

My picks fared well. I was essentially done with my day trading session by 1pm and booked a small profit. I returned to re-writing Lost Vegas and returned to my retirement from the grind of investing.

Alas, I was one of those scumbag Swine Flu profiteers. But hey, if Al Gore can pick up some quick cash on the Swine Flu, why can't I?

* * * * *

I achieved Iron Man on Full Tilt for 9 consecutive months. I can probably get to ten in a row before I stop playing in June because of the WSOP. Too bad. After a rough start to 2009, I bounced back the last two months and have been booking frequent winning sessions for the first time in months.

My buddy Johnnie Walker told me that you can use your Iron Man medals to buy a free Iron Man month, so I might do that for June which will buy me some time in July.

Iron Man was never something I actively sought to achieve. It just happened because I have been playing a lot of cash games over the previous six months in order to supplement my income and cover those staggering six digit losses that my portfolio took in the stock market. If I had a decade straight of winning years at the cash game tables (considering my modest limits)... I might have a shot at wiping out those loses by 2019.

Anyway, the bottom line is this... I'm having more fun playing poker so I'm putting in more time at the tables.

* * * * *

I played in the Mookie and made one bad move on the last hand before the break. I tried to steal a pot because most of the time, no one wants to get involved in a big hand on the cusp of a break. Sometimes they gotta piss, or smoke, or make a phone call and they'll pass on a hand. I hoped to take advantage of that situation... alas, to no avail. I was crippled and busted out on the first hand after the break in a dismal 59th place.

Anyway, Mookie published my champion's profile from last week's interesting finish. Check it out.

* * * * *

Even though I curtailed my time at the PLO tables, I managed a couple of innocuous sessions at the PLO tables on PokerStars. During one session, I lost most of my stack on a horrendous runner-runner straight. I know that those things happen, especially in PLO, but this one particularly stung.

I held A-A-10-9 double suited. Three players limped. I potted. One of the players from the blinds re-potted. Everyone folded to me and I shoved. He quickly called with A-A-9-6 rainbow. Yep, his 9-6 played and he won the pot with a nine-high straight. Ooommmmph.

Stacked by a donk from Dusseldorf. Thank you, RiverStars.

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

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

21 Dead Horses

By Pauly
Holylweird, CA

Something is rotten in Wellington, Florida. And it's not 21 dead horses previously owned by Venezuelan billionaire Victor Vargas.

If you are not familiar with the posh polo scene, let me clue you in on a tragedy. Last weekend, 21 polo horses owned by Victor Vargas died unexpectedly at the Palm Beach Polo Club only 45 minutes before a scheduled match. One polo insider compared the horse slaughter to the 9/11 of the polo community, however, the news was barely a blip on the radar of world wide weirdness. Between torture scandals, Government bail outs, the NBA & NHL playoffs, and this newly concocted Swine Flu... it's no wonder that the news of 21 dead horses flew under the radar. So under the radar that it was a mile under ground.

In the shadows of the pristine polo fields of Wellington, Florida (where various equestrian sports is estimated a 500 million per year industry), there are whispers of a possibility of a governmental conspiracy, or a mafia vendetta, or a massive betting scandal. How about all three?

There has been plenty of speculation over the whos, whats, and whys about the 21 dead horses. And one of those rumors keeps pointing back towards the notion that the 21 horses were killed to prevent Venezuela's Lechuza Caracas club from winning the US Open Polo Championship. If that is the case, it has to be one of the biggest scandals in sporting history. And if the horses were killed to insure a gambling wager, then that has to be one of the most horrid acts of deviant degeneracy. It's one thing to pay off a kicker to shank a field goal in crunch time, but it's another thing to kill 21 animals. That's cold blooded shit that only the lowest of the low could ever conjure up.

The 21 horses were poisoned. That much has been made evident and Franck's Pharmacy in Ocala even copped to the act of accidentally injecting the horses with a lethal dose of selenium... up to 10x the intended dose.

Accidents do happen. But what was the real motive behind the accidental overdose?

Where the horses killed to prevent Lechuza Caracas from winning the Polo Championships?

Was it an act of sabotage from anti-Venezuelan entities who wanted to punish Vargas for his close ties with President Hugo Chavez?

Was it a CIA plot and simply mere message sent to Chavez via Vargas' prize horses that Chavez was in trouble (similar to the dead horse's head in the bed in The Godfather)?

Was it the Russian mafia taking out the horses to ensure that the clubs they wagered on would win the Polo Championships? Did the Colombian or Mexican drug cartels operating out of Miami rub out the horses as payback for mismanaged laundered funds from various cocaine conglomerates controlled by many of Vargas' banking entities?

A billionaire who is friends with a despised dictator like Chavez is bound to have a handful of enemies. Vargas' resume is cluttered with misery, shadiness, and gloom behind him. Despite Chavez's socialist revolution that has enveloped Venezuela, Vargas' Banco Occidental de Descuento escaped unharmed. Word on the street was the Vargas' was Chavez's personal banker and his Banco Occidental handled high volume currency trades and over $1 billion in Argentine bond swaps. Vargas was buying bonds at official rates (Bolivars to Dollars) and then re-selling those bonds to investors at black market prices often double the market value.

Aside from being one of Chavez's buddies, Vargas ticked off quite a few people in the American banking elite. According to a Time magazine article...
In 1993 he paid the Federal Reserve Bank of New York $1.5 million in fines after it determined Vargas had lied about his knowledge of fraud that executives had committed at a bank he was in the process of acquiring. (As part of his settlement with the Reserve Bank, he didn't have to admit guilt.) Today, Vargas cannot invest in U.S. banks without government permission."
Vargas made plenty of enemies during his days in international banking. Were his horses just a bit of collateral damage in a greater war between the haves and the have nots?

Polo horses in Vargas' stable were worth approximately $100,000 each. Estimated damages of the 21 dead horses were in excess of $2 million and only a handful of the horses were actually insured. Did the money really matter to someone with the obscene wealth of Vargas? His complete stable included over 60 polo horses and he reportedly purchased a $68.5 million compound in swanky Palm Beach in order to have a place to stay during the polo season. The value of the horses were insignificant compared to the amount of money it cost to field and train a team and army of horses which were flown on private jets to matches in the UK, Florida, and Argentina.

Vargas openly flaunted his wealth. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal last year, Vargas admitted, "People write stories about me saying I have a Ferrari, a plane, a yacht. But it's not true. I've got three planes, two yachts, six houses. I've been rich all my life!"

Then again, the dead horses could just be the result of two uber-rich guys who have nothing else better to do than engage in high stakes pissing matches in the form of polo. The concept of polo is exceptionally high brow. Only the richest of the richest and the highest of classes (think Princes, Archdukes, and other Eurotrash royalty) can afford to participate in the polo culture let alone attempt to be the best in the game. Perhaps Vargas' arrogance got the best of him and one of his opponents decided to slay his prized possessions out of jealousy and spite.

I hit a deadend when trying to obtain information on any large sums of money placed on any polo clubs that were not Vargas' Lechuza Caracas squad. But if anyone collected a nice sum of cash due to the edge gained with the 21 dead horses, you have to automatically assume that they were directly involved.

Throughout my research on this matter I discovered one startling article that was never mentioned in any of the other new blurbs about the 21 horse deaths. 3 vials of virus samples missing from Maryland facility is an article from CNN. Hmmm, so three vials of Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis go missing right around the same time that 21 horses die? Coincidence?

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

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Magnificent Return of Liz Lieu Tuesdays

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

2009 is a special year. Phish got back together. Even the surviving members of The Grateful Dead are touring. And how could we forget about Liz Lieu Tuesdays?

Everyone's favorite Poker Diva is currently in Monte Carlo and about to play in the EPT Grand Finale. Wish her luck...

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

Monday, April 27, 2009

New Argentina Tao of Pokerati Episodes: Models and Hookers

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Michalski finally uploaded two episodes of Tao of Pokerati that I recorded in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

Here's the latest episodes...

Episode 11.1: South American Models... Pauly and special guest MeanGene disucss the highlights from LAPT Grand Final in Argentina while they drank at the LAPT wrap party hosted in a club in a sketchy part of Mar del Plata. They discuss their favorite parts of Argentina especially the sleek and silky models hired by PokerStars that were all over the tournament area.

Episode 11.2: Costa Rican Hookers... Pauly's special guest includes Chip Monkey, who Dan nicknamed 'the Costa Rican Benjo'. Pauly and Chip Monkey discuss seedy Costa Rican strip clubs, the advantages and disadvantages of street corner trannie hookers, and the local narcotic scene.
Thanks for listening to the shortest and laziest poker podcast on the intertubes. For first time listeners, head over to the Tao of Pokerati Archives.

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

Sunday, April 26, 2009

New Radio Shows

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

A couple of friends and colleagues are involved with a couple of new radio programs.

First up... a couple of Aussie friends down under are the masterminds behind Poker Network Radio, which launched last week. The host is JoeyDel and once the Aussies get the show up and running at full speed, it's going to be a nice addition to your weekly podcast listening rotation.

The Poker Show with Jesse May launches tonight in the UK. Spearheaded by the legendary Jesse May, this new program will be one to keep an eye on with Jesse May as your host along with Irish pro Padraig Parkinson and British TV presenter Matt Broughton.

Jesse invited me to come on and speak about the WSOP on his first broadcast. My segment will be on live around 12:30 or 1pm PT (or for you East Coasters that's 3:30pm-4pm). Tune into The Poker Show if you want to listen.

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

Friday, April 24, 2009

Crashing the Mookie

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Several months ago, I stood in the middle of a ballroom at a resort in Nueva Vallarta, Mexico and watched in bewilderment as the federales shut down a live poker tournament. A couple of politico types claimed there was a discrepancy in the paperwork, but I knew that I was in the middle of an old fashioned shakedown.

That was the last time I was involved in a tournament where the result was.... incomplete. Well, until Wednesday night.

When AlCantHang goaded persuaded cajoled begged invited me to play in the Mookie, I quickly accepted. AlCantHang sent out a tweet that there would be a bounty on my head. It's never fun to be a target, but I accepted the challenge. I have not played in the Mookie much in 2009 due to a hectic writing schedule finishing up the first draft of Lost Vegas. I only played twice this year, both times in late March, with modest results... a 14th and a 25th place showing... yet zero cashes.

I wasn't paying much attention during the early levels. I knew that with the bounty, everyone would be gunning for me, so I slipped into super tight mode and focused on a my cash games tables (low-stakes PLO and 5/10 LHE) instead.

I usually take detailed notes when I play poker but I didn't take any on Wednesday night. I was distracted and listened to the touching Shronk tribute that the gang at Poker Road broadcasted live from the Fontana Room inside the Bellagio. I gotta say, there were times when I was a little teary-eyed especially when several friends of mine spoke about their favorite Shronk moments. Perhaps it really wasn't the best time to play poker.

Early on, I picked up some chips and nearly doubled up against AlCantHang. I flopped a set of fives against his Cowboys. We got it all in on the turn when I boated up.

I also flopped quads against PokerFool for a timely double up.

It was a little blurry from that point on with the emotional show on Poker Road Radio playing in the background. However, I definitely recall raining on DakotaBlock's parade with two vicious river suckouts. On the first one, I avoided elimination by a sickly three outer. We got it all in on the King-high flop. My K-J trailed Dakota's K-Q, yet I promptly rivered the Jack to double up. I avoided elimination. Thank you, RiverStars.

On the anemic suckout, I raised with Ks-10s and Dakota called. The flop was K-J-10 and he check-called a pot-sized bet. The turn was a deuce. He checked. I bet the rest of my chips (around 15K) and he called with K-J for a bigger two pair. The river was a fortuitous ten and I sucked out. Again. Jesus, sorry Dakota. That was just brutal. Not once, but twice.

I surged into the chiplead with two tables to go.
Here's the final table of the Mookie:
Seat 1: veryjosie (32,172)
Seat 2: MaggieO (7,430)
Seat 3: ElSnarfGrande (43,750)
Seat 4: xXGetLuckyXx (34,775)
Seat 5: Tarpie (8,825)
Seat 6: DeepChitNJ (18,804)
Seat 7: DrPauly (57,936)
Seat 8: noollab (27,228)
Seat 9: Drizztdj (18,080)
I picked up lots of small pots and pushed my stack to 105K with 7 to go. That's when the servers crashed. My initial reaction? Ratshit. Total ratshit. I was more than pissed. I was livid. I rarely play tournaments, let alone have almost 42% of the chips in play with seven players to go. A victory was on the horizon, but I covered enough tournaments to know that a chip lead, no matter how large, is always vulnerable. But that's not the point... the tournament was left in limbo because of a technical faux pas.

Here's a screen cap (courtesy of Al) of the chip counts when the servers went down.

Drizz was one of the shortstacks when the severs crashed. He sent me an email and said that he was going to bed. I gave up after an hour and went back to writing a short story about a petty thief who worked at a pickle factory instead of siting around holding my dick in the wind and retardedly click the FT icon on my desktop hoping that the site would all of a sudden spring back to life.

When I finally woke up, support emailed me an update...
When a tournament is cancelled after it reaches the money, according to tournament rule 31.3:

* All remaining players will have their tournament fee of $1.00 refunded and be awarded with the next guaranteed payout of the tournament, $33.20.

* The remaining prize pool will be divided and distributed according to chip count - (Remaining Prize Pool)*(Your Chip Count)/(Total Chips in Play) = Your Share of Remaining Prize Pool.

In your case, this means $551.95*104891/249000=$232.40

Tournament Fee Refunded: $1.00
+ Next Guaranteed Payout: $33.20
+ Your Share of Remaining Prize Pool: $232.40
Total Amount Credited to Your Account: $266.60
Alas, I won the Mookie by default via a chip chop technicality. Thanks for Mookie for hosting and thanks to AlCantHang for encouraging me to play.

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

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pauly on The Poker Beat

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

On Thursday starting at 1pm PT (or 4pm ET), I will be making my first appearance as a guest on The Poker Beat over at Poker Road Radio. The Poker Beat is co-hosted by Scott Huff and John 'Schecky' Caldwell featuring journalists in the poker industry. I'm fortunate to be included in this week's discussions of the industry top stories. If you have never listened to the Poker Beat, it's Poker Road's version of ESPN's The Sports Reporters.

Click here to listen to the Poker Beat on Poker Road Radio.

Tune in at 4pm ET or 1pm PT. The show is one hour long.

* * * * *

If you missed this week's show, you can always listen to an archived version... here.

Our topics on the Poker beat included the WPT Championship, Annie Duke & Celebrity Apprentice, and a Shronk Tribute. I spoke a little bit about the LAPT Argentina to kick off the show. Michalski and I discussed Annie Duke's blowjob. And, I told another Shronk Monte Carlo story during his tribute.

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

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

R.I.P. Shronk

By Pauly
Dallas, TX

Justin Shronk (1981-2009)

I was sitting at an airport in Mar del Plata, Argentina after finishing up a work assignment when I got a call relaying me the tragic news of Justin Shronk's passing. We had exchanged emails on Friday afternoon when Shronk was hospitalized in Las Vegas due to a pancreatic ailment. He said that he was waiting to be released after a short stay and I took that as a positive sign. That's why the news of his sudden death completely blinded sided me along with his closest friends and the majority of the folks in the poker media.

I first met Shronk at Sydney airport in 2007. We were both hired by Poker News to cover the Aussie Millions. Although we both knew of each other by reputation, we had never actually met before. His previous employer had been a multi-media producer at Card Player and the Aussie Millions assignment would mark the beginning of a year long stint as the multi-media manager of Poker News. He produced and directed the earliest videos for Poker News when they launched their tournament reporting project and he would become an integral part of the 2007 WSOP coverage team.

During the two week long Aussie Millions assignment in Melbourne, I had the pleasure of getting to know Shronk. After all, when you sit next to someone every day for 12+ hours a day for two weeks straight, you really get a glimpse into what makes that person tick. And right away, one thing was obvious... the guy was hysterical. And his sense of humor was an asset especially during the lengthy grind of covering a poker tournament series. He definitely kept things light, particularly during the lulls and boring parts of the day.

It was in Melbourne that I learned of Shronk's fondess for Aaron Sorkin especially his work on The West Wing. He knew nearly every single line of dialogue from that long running series. Shronk had odd tastes for music and film and would often blurt out random lines from the BMX film "Rad." That pretty much summed up Shronk right there.

In Melbourne, I recorded an infamous video of a prop bet with Shronk... where he ate an entire packet of Vegemite. Check out the video here...

One of the funnier moments at the 2007 Aussie Millions involved Shronk's late night eating habits. He was often up until the wee hours rendering and uploading videos. He often ordered room service at 3am. There was a mix up with the our food allowance on that trip. The Poker Shrink and John Caldwell were given unlimited credit while Shronk and I got nothing. We worked around that obstacle and I would often charge beers and food to Caldwell's room while Shronk added items to the Poker Shrink's tab. When Shronk ordered late night room service, they often made an error and sent the food to the Poker Shrink's room instead of his. The Shrink would be fast asleep when there'd be a knock at his door. One night the Poker Shrink answered the door buck naked only to discover that Shronk had ordered a bowl of spaghetti bolognese and the kitchen sent it to the wrong room.

During 2007, I worked along side Shronk for several other international assignments (EPT Monte Carlo, EPT Barcelona, WSOP-Europe, and the Poker News Cup in Melbourne) and a few domestic ones as well (L.A. Poker Classic, WSOP Circuit at Caesar's Palace, WPT Championships, and the WSOP). Shronk admitted that he was a terrible traveler and hated being away from home, yet there he was traveling the globe while working for Poker News. He sacrificed a tremendous amount personal comfort out of sheer love of the game.

One of my least favorite stops on the tour was Monte Carlo. My French was tres mal at best and the snootiness of the entire concept of Monaco rubbed me the wrong way. Now, I thrived being on the road and costly in flux, yet if I had a tough time with being in the South of France, you could only imagine how much Shronk struggled. There was a small bar that served food next to the media room in Monte Carlo. Due to the long work hours, we frequently ate there out of convenience. Shronk loathed trying to order anything from the surly waiters and often pleaded with me to order his lunch or dinner. For the length of the Monte Carlo assignment, I frequently ordered overpriced food for Shronk and we both could believe that we were blowing though our per diem at a rapid pace.

"I have no idea what those French waiters are saying," Shronk said.

"That's because they are speaking French," I told him.

The road is a very unusual place, especially when you're on business trips. In Spain, we quickly learned how to avoided the local sausage and Shronk got a quick tutorial in how to use a European style shower after flooding his bathroom. And in London? Well, let's just say London was another headache for Shronk. We had been on the road for several weeks at that point (covering EPT Barcelona and WSOP-E back to back for almost a month straight on the road in Europe) and Shronk ran out of clean clothes. He had tripped on a slippery cobblestone and twisted his ankle pretty bad and unable to hobble to a laundromat. Instead, he opted to get his clothes cleaned by the hotel's laundry service. When he got his tab, the bill was over 400 British Pounds. At the time, the US dollar was at its lowest so that was work almost $800. Man, I wish I could have seen the look on the faces of the big wigs at Poker News when they read his invoice where he billed them $800 to clean his underwear.

The Tools of Shronk (Barcelona, Spain circa Sept. 2007)
His laptop and video camera when he sat next to me in the media room

Shronk eventually departed ways with Poker News and ended up as a producer at Poker Road and that seemed like the perfect fit for his talents and personality. He was genuinely happy to be a part of that gang as well as the eclectic group of people who make up the poker media.

Owen said it best...
"It's a world for the kinds of creative people who spent their teenage years feeling out of place and it's a haven. It's a welcoming environment in which individualism is encouraged and friendships are forged in hotel rooms and casino bars the world over.... It's a place where people like Shronk thrive."

The gang at Poker Road were deeply affected by his loss. Joe Sebok wrote a touching tribute to Shronk...
"He loved new media and I think, in many respects, he was able to live some of his dream by being a part of it in poker, whether that was for CardPlayer, PokerNews, or most recently right here at PokerRoad. He was an integral part of our family and we will miss him with all of our hearts. It had been our honor to call him a co-worker, and more importantly a friend.

BJ also penned something...
"But the humor I'll remember Shronk for is his sharp wit and his clever comments. Like his final forum post, he got maximum effect out of a minimal number of words. I know Shronk respected some of my technical skill as a writer, but that can be learned with time and practice. If I live to be 100, I don't think I'll ever have a wit as sharp as Shronk's."

Amy wrote...
"The tragedy of Justin Shronk’s death wasn't that he never lived his dream. He lived it every day. The tragedy is ours."

Needless to say, on those long nights during a tournament (especially during the insanity of the WSOP) Shronk kept me loose with his tremendous sense of humor and wit that BJ eloquently described. That's when I'm going to miss him the most on those late nights when the last thing I want to do is be sitting inside a casino, yet Shronk had the ability to make those brutal moments palatable.

Shronk, you were one of a kind. RIP, brother.


Listen to Poker Road's tribute to Justin Shronk.

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

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Vicodin Diaries Vol. 3: Stray Dogs, One-Armed Bums, Paint Huffers, and Bar Fights

By Pauly
Mar del Plata, Argentina

Although the Brazilian models busted out on Day 1a, they returned on Day 1b and played in a second chance tournament. Those tables ran right in front of media row. Change100 scoffed at me as I wiped the pool of drool that collected on my clothes. Otis flatly refused to look up in order to avoid mega-braless-Brazilian model-tilt.

"Have you seen the amount of beer that those Brazilian models have been consuming?" said Otis at one point.

They chugged beer like it was apple juice. I was in awe.

The state run casino was housed in a sprawling complex of brick. You passed through heavy revolving doors and walked up a marble staircase, sort of like entering a palace. My hotel had similar doors and bellboys strategically positioned themselves in front of the doors. Their sole purpose in life? Pushing the revolving doors for patrons. Their extra shove definitely helped especially when you carried around a lot of gear.

There wasn't an infestation of feral dogs, but a handful randomly roamed around the square in front of the casino. One dog in particular, a gaunt German Shepherd, took up a position right in front of the casino. The starving canine laid down near one of the revolving doors. The security never bothered to shoo it away and the first time I saw the pooch, I honestly thought it was dead.

I'm not an overly superstitious person, but the mere act of stepping over a dead dog to enter a casino could not have been good mojo. Alas, my fears were nixed. The dog was sleeping or that was his way of trying to hustle some scraps of high quality yet overcooked Argentinian beef from sympathetic gamblers.

The casino had three separate revolving doors and a one-armed panhandler sat on a milk crate inside the doorway. The simpleton mooched cigarettes and random food stuffs. Again, I was sort of surprised that the chain-smoking heavily-armed security did not usher him away. That sort of plight would never be tolerated in Las Vegas.... today. However, if the current economic state of affairs continues to spiral downward towards complete financial collapse in the Untied states, I'm envisioning that sort of desperate scene becoming common place in Las Vegas. Bums and hungry dogs camping out in front of the valet at the Bellagio being ignored and passed over by the few wealthy elite would could afford to pay passage to and from Sin City. Next thing you know it, there will be hungry kids hustling for pennies at traffic lights on Las Vegas Blvd. and lepers taking up shop in front of McCarran airport.

Oh, and did I mention the casino security included chain-smoking cops that were armed to the hilt? In Vegas, you might see the occasional rent-a-cop security guard sporting a six shooter, a taser, or billy club. In Argentina, the security forces were not fuckin' around.

At one point on Day 2, a couple of mean-eyed law enforcement officers stood behind Mean Gene and I as we covered the tournament. They wore black military fatigues with semi-automatic pistols on their hip. I took special notice of their extra ammunition. They were prepared for a serious fire fight if by chance one broke out.

Pray for the best, but prepare for the worst.

A couple of police officers were stationed in front of our hotel (located next door to the casino). There were also two sparkling shiny new ambulances adorned in red ribbons. They contained some PokerStars branding on the side and a sign explaining that they were donated by PokerStars. A nice gift to the local officials to ensure that the tournament ran smoothly, especially after the fiasco in Mexico last December.

I heard a couple of stories about trying to score party favors from different locals. Supposedly the windshield washers at traffic lights were the primary source of yerba. At one point, I was offered to huff paint out of a paper bag. Although I considered the option for a brief moment, I respectfully declined. I have not huffed paint thinner on a street corner since the summer of 1997 (that's a very long story that I'll save for another time) and I had no intentions of going that far off the reservation... at least while the tournament was still running.

On the first night in Mar del Plata, I noticed a sign across the street that said, "Friends." I mentioned that to one of my Costa Rican colleagues and asked if it was a strip club. He said that it looked like a hair salon. Fair enough. But less than 24 hours later, I discovered that the joint was a brothel. The girls cost 80 pesos or roughly $24.


And then there was the guy in the market place selling knives. I almost bought three. By reading enough Jose Luis Borges short stories, I learned that having a bigger knife during a potential mugging almost always thwarted the alleged assailants.

"Dude, you're gonna need this, especially walking around at night," as I stealthily handed Otis and MeanGene a seven inch blade.

I decided against it because the last thing I wanted to do was send those guys on mega-knife-fight-tilt. But just in case something happened to Otis, he asked me to deliver his watch to his first born son back in G-Vegas.
"The way your dad looked at it, this watch was your birthright. He'd be damned if anyone was gonna put their greasy hands on his boy's birthright... And now, little man, I give the watch to you."
I'm glad we didn't have the knives because someone would have gotten stabbed at the wrap party.

We went to a club. Free booze. Lots of weird late 80s music. Everyone was celebrating the end of a tough assignment. Everything was groovy until around 3:30am. I was about to leave when something happened. Apparently there was a drunk guy (not a player but the brother of a player) hanging around the tournament the last few days harassing all the models and some of the female staff. He crossed a serious line at the party and groped someone he should not have been touching... particularly a friend's wife.

When the drunken nimrod was repeatedly warned by my buddy and told to stop, the drunk responded with a sucker punch. It caught my friend off guard and the two tumbled over a couch and fell onto the dance floor right in front of me. I was caught up in the middle of it as everyone on the dance floor parted as the music continued to blast in the club and the two grappled on the ground. My buddy's wife tried to intervene and I was trying to pull her away so she didn't get hurt. Sometimes, things are best left to two guys settling a problem themselves. A near brawl ensued. I expected the security to break it up, but no one was in that part of the club. As soon as another friend pulled my buddy away, the drunken molester bolted. He tried to run into the bathroom with an angry mob of Costa Ricans and Argentinians in pursuit. Luckily the club security caught the drunken molester before the angry mob tore him to pieces. The drunken scumbag was quickly 86'd from the club. Everything happened so fast and there was a ton of confusion. I was glad that Change100 and my friend's wife were not harmed in the fracas. As soon as the fight ended, the dance floor quickly filled up with people dancing... like nothing happened.

Stray dogs. One-armed bums. Chain-smoking federales packing heat. Paint huffing windshield washers. $24 harlots. Beer guzzling Brazilian models. And a good old fashioned bar fight.

Just another Sunday night in Argentina.

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

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Otis Likes Argentinian Nipple Art

By Pauly
Mar del Plata, Argentina

We shot this clip on Wednesday night... and we were both sober.

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

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Vicodin Diaries, Vol. 2: It's a Tough Job, But Someone's Gotta Do It

By Pauly
Mar del Plata, Argentina

Covering poker tournaments in foreign lands can be quite problematic. Take for example the early obstacles that I had to overcome in order to reach this lovely beach resort on the coast of Argentina. It took almost 24 hours to travel from the slums of Beverly Hills across the equator to Mar Del Plata on a journey that included two taxis, three different flights (each one delayed), five different airports (including two in Buenos Aires) and a shuttle branded in PokerStars just to arrive at my intended destination.

I was lucky. I didn't have to ride a bus from BA to MDP for 5.5 hours. And unlike a couple of my colleagues at Poker News, my luggage arrived safely. I'm a veteran and always carry-on my gear whenever possible. Unfortunately, the wizards at Delta Airlines lost Melissa and Randy's luggage. Melissa was the on air talent and did not have any clothes. Randy? His video equipment and cameras were also lost. They showed up at the Casio de Central in odd-colored fluorescent t-shirts purchased from a local souvenir shop. Reminded me of that scene in Pulp Fiction.

Then there was the mix up with the credentials. When I showed up at the media check in ready to pick up my press pass on Wednesday afternoon, the woman in charge said in broken English... "What is this Poker News? Is it online site?"

Are you fuckin' kidding me? How can you legitimately work in the poker industry and not know what Poker News is? They have a Spanish version of the site in addition to translations into over a dozen languages. I saved her life and withheld the information from Tony G. Otherwise, she'd be sleeping with the fishes.

I asked her to check her list again. She blew me off and went to talk to her friends instead of trying to sort out the mix. I assumed that she purposely blew me off because I'm an American. After whiffing a third time to secure a badge on Wednesday, I contacted a couple of higher ups in the organization for assistance. They were more than willing to help out.

My crew did not officially get credentials until mid-way through Level 3 on Day 1a of the LAPT Mar del Plata. Better late than never, right? Oh and for the record, I never got my creds despite applying online two weeks ago and filling out paperwork four different times inside of a 18 hour period. I simply gave up and used my old credentials from the LAPT Mexico. I have so many badges from previous assignments that I don't know what to do with them. I tried not to take it as a sign of disrespect, just incompetence. There's a lot of that going around in the poker industry. Par for the course.

Adapt and overcome. That's why I get paid a paycheck to fly all over the world and tackle on difficult assignments. And sometimes there are surreal moments like Boris Becker wandering over and asking me, "Where's the toilet?"

And then things got really difficult when the models sat down at the tables. South American models playing poker? Yes. It was a horrendous task to undertake but I rolled up my sleeves and accepted the assignment even though I knew it might kill me. and by killing me, I mean the tiny daggers that shot out of my girlfriend's eyes as a stalagmite of drool encrusted off my chin.

Sometimes, you have to make sacrifices.

I noticed that South American models have a penchant for not wearing under garments. That included bras and underwear. There were a couple of Brazilian models/actresses (Vanessa Machado and Angelita Feijo) and an Argentinian model/actress who was not even the best looking model in her family. Geraldine Neumann was Jan Brady to Marcia Brady and her older sister Nicole Neumann.

A quick scan of Google images nearly gave me a heart attack and a hard on. Like this extremely NSFW image of Aneglita. I'm gonna submit that to GuessHerMuff.




Yes, those women played in the LAPT. Why the hell are you wasting your money on the WSOP, when you can head down to South America and snort the best drugs in the world*** and play poker with women that have a shot at appearing on Wicked Chops Poker's Friday parting shot?

You can imagine the pain and misery that went through our entire bodies as we had to type up their tournament obituaries. One by one the models slowly disappeared after their eliminations. First to go was Geraldine. And a little piece of me died when the blonde vixen sauntered to the rail. Next up was Angelita. I threw up in my mouth a little bit.

Just when we thought we saw the last of Angelita, she re-appeared. What do Brazilian models do after they bust out of the LAPT? They head to the bar and return with draft beers for their other model friends and sweat them. The security guards held back the surging crowd on the rail, but they allowed Angelita to stand behind Vanessa as she continued to play.

And then... Vanessa became a casualty. She busted out and MeanGene was in near tears. I had to pop a couple of Vicodin just to calm myself down from the utter misery.

Day 1A came to a close and not one single model advance to Day 2. Alas, Day 1B is on Friday and we're hoping that more leggy and top-heavy models are in the field.

*** Disclaimer: Cocaine is a dangerous narcotic and should only be taken under the supervision of a physician. Readers are advised that the Tao of Poker does not purport to tell or suggest that readers snort white powdery substances that are sold to them on street corners from guys in soccer jerseys with messenger bags. Tao of Poker will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by robberies from said cocaine merchants. Readers are solely responsible for their own incarceration, legal fees, and bribes to local officials.

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

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Vicodin Diaries, Vol. 1: Prayers

By Pauly
Mar del Plata, Argentina

When Change100 heard that I was going to Argentina on an assignment, she immediately started teasing... "Dr. Pauly and the Vicodin Diaries."

Of course, for you non-revolutionists out there, she alluded to Che Guevara's Motorcycle Diaries and my fascination with the revolutionary who helped thrust Castro to power in Cuba in the 1950s and was later hunted down by the CIA in Bolivia.

I was bubbling over with excitement about the assignment (as opposed to apprehension and contempt which seemed to plague most poker media these days) mainly because several of my friends were scheduled to work the event including Change100, Otis, Joe, and Alex for PokerStars and myself with MeanGene for PokerNews.

Plus, you never know what might happen in South America. Heck, the last time I covered an LAPT event in Mexico... the federales shut down the event. I hate to think that I'm a cooler. Then again, that could be a profitable business. Professional Cooler. Entities will pay me to stay away.

On Easter Sunday, I went to the pseudo in-laws house for dinner. I heard about the now infamous knife-throwing prop bet that went down the last time Change100 covered an LAPT prop bet. I did not want to show up in Argentina with a disadvantage. I'm more than confident in my deft lime tossing skills, but I haven't thrown a knife since an incident in Jamaica that occurred fifteen years ago. (You can read about that in my unpublished novel Gumbo if/when that ever gets published). Alas, Change100 found me a suitable knife and I went into her parent's backyard in Westwood and I hurled the knife at a lemon tree. On the second throw, the handle cracked. On the third? It broke apart. Karmic payback for trying to throw knives at trees on Easter Sunday?

During the Easter feast that Change100's mom whipped up, I was bombarded with text messages from G-Rob. He went to see The Dead tour opening concert in Greensboro, NC. We were also prop betting on the song openers for each set including the encores. During the Phish reunion shows in Hampton, VA in March, I was wagering significant amounts of money on what songs the band performed at different times in the show. The Joker won a huge pot on the last night and G-Rob edged me out in heads-up betting. On Easter? G-Rob and I ended up chopping.

Once I arrived in Buenos Aires, we started prop betting before we even cleared immigration. At the front of the line there was a kiosk that flashed numbers designating the next immigration booth that was available. I turned to Change100 and said, "Odds or evens? Which one will I get?"

She said odds. It turned out that only one of the open booths was odd-numbered. I was a 5 to 1 favorite to win the bet... and I did.

Change100 got some money back at the second airport in Buenos Aires. We had to drive across town and catch a flight at the domestic airport. We did not have a gate assignment, something that would not be revealed until a half-hour before the scheduled departure. She picked odds and our gate was originally 5 but they changed it at the last minute to... 11.

I'm anxiously waiting for Otis to arrive so I can take 1,000 Pesos off of him in throwing things prop bets. I actually saw a kid on the side of the road selling a sack of papayas for $4. I'm going to find him in the morning so we have plenty of ammo to gamble on. Papaya Tossing is the new Lime Tossing.

Of course, we don't know if Otis will arrive. His original flight out of G-Vegas was cancelled which meant that he missed his connecting flight to South America. Our assignment is located in a beach resort town south of Buenos Aires approximately 5.5 hours by motor vehicle or a 45 minute air flight. I had to book a separate domestic flight from Buenos Aires to Mar del Plata on Tuesday morning which flew out of a different airport in Buenos Aires (similar to arriving at JFK and then having to head to LaGuardia to finish up your journey). All of the other Buenos Aires > Mar del Plata flights were sold out on Wednesday.

Otis was supposed to arrive on Tuesday morning, but since he got screwed, he found himself in a tough situation... and the inevitable horror of having a 5.5 hour bus ride ahead of him since there were no available flights Wednesday to Mar del Plata because the LAPT kicks off on Thursday and hundreds of online qualifiers and players filled every seat.

The TDs (Greg and Mike) arrived on Easter Sunday and discovered not a single available seat on flights (because of the holiday) so he took a cab from the airport in Buenos Aires to Mar del Plata.... a good 5.5 to 6 hour drive. The taxi cost him $1,200 USD.

Alas, Otis was looking at a 5.5 hour bus ride. Originally, PokerNews arranged me to travel on a bus from Buenos Aires > Mar del Plata. I could only imagine what a bus ride in South America would be like... chickens flying around, crying babies with snot crusted on their face, holes in the floorboards with dust swirling all around... not to mention, a gaucho with a blade in the back row challenging anyone who wanted to use the toilet to a fight to the death. So instead of riding on a dilapidated bus without AC while sitting in my own warm piss, I decided to avoid a shanking in a scene reminiscent of a Jose Luis Borges short story.

I paid money out of my pocket for a flight to Mar del Plata to avoid the plight with the unwashed masses on the lengthy bus ride. The flight only cost about $130 more than the bus and I'll more than make up for that difference in prop betting with Otis. Then again, there's plenty of local soccer, er football, to wager on if I can find a legitimate local bookie.

Sadly, MeanGene is booked on one of the buses from Buenos Aires to Mar del Plata. I can only hope that he'll arrive in one piece. Please pray to St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers, and ask him, the Virgin Mary, and the entire choir of angels in heaven to protect MeanGene and Otis on their passage to the coastal town of Mar del Plata.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

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

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Poker Haiku Vol. 2: PLO

By Pauly
Mar del Plata, Argentina

spike in my parched veins
lewd action beseeches thee
chasing the dragon

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

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Check-Raising the Devil: The Mike Matusow Autobiography

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

In America, we're suckers for a rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-rehab-to-riches stories.

Mike Matusow epitomized the American Dream and an E! True Hollywood Story all rolled up into one... white trash roots, lived a wild yet misunderstood childhood, harnessed an innate genius to become famous and rich, partied to excess, got in trouble with the law, went to rehab, and bounced back into the spotlight as one of the most noticeable pros in the game.

One month from today, on May 12th, the highly anticipated Mike Matusow autobiography will be released... Mike Matusow: Check-Raising the Devil written by Amy Calistri and Dr. Tim Lavalli (aka the Poker Shrink).

Check-Raising the Devil was not the first attempt at extracting an autobiography from The Mouth. Michael Craig was originally attached to the project circa 2006 and spent the better part of the Christmas holiday in 2006 interviewing Matusow in Las Vegas. Within a couple of weeks, Craig left the project due to creative differences with Matusow's agent, and that's when Amy and the Shrink got a crack at the book. They officially jumped on board after the 2007 WSOP and they have been attached to the project ever since. Craig even offered up all his notes and interview tapes that were approximately fours hours in length. It total, the Shrink accumulated over 70+ hours of audio interviews with Matusow which were the genesis of the book.

I'm friends with both authors and obtained first-hand knowledge regarding the trials and tribulations of the entire process. From the get-go, Amy and the Shrink had major obstacles to overcome beginning with hold-ups and delays in securing the contract to write the book. There were plenty of challenges dealing with a volatile personality such as Mike Matusow and keeping him focused enough to talk about specific and difficult points in his life.

The book was not an easy birth. Amy and the Shrink were bogged down in hellacious struggles between themselves and the publishers during the editing process. The original first chapter was cut and hopefully Amy and Shrink will share that will us someday. I'd actually love to read the original "authors'" cut before the publishing company hacked up and re-organized their manuscript.

Amy wrote on her blog...
"Getting a book out is like having a baby. At first, you're all starry eyed with the romantic notion. By the end of it, you're calling everyone in the delivery room a cocksucker.

The only difference is that just as you're ready to push out your book, the doctor starts saying things like, "Are you married to the name? Let's change the name" or "It would be a lot easier to deliver if we could lose a few appendages. Look, it's never gonna be a Major League pitcher. We can lose a few fingers and the kid won’t even miss them." In the end, you hope that what comes out resembles the vision you had going into the project.
Yet despite all the behind-the-scenes bullshit, Amy and the Shrink pieced together an entertaining autobiography that depicted Matusow's rise from humble beginnings in a Nevada trailer park to achieving rock-and-roll status after winning millions of dollars on the poker circuit. The dark side of Las Vegas, morbid addiction, and fame preyed on Matusow and he quickly fell from grace. And when you fall in Vegas... you fall hard and fast. After time in rehab and a stint in prison, Matusow eventually sought salvation and with the proper guidance he's headed towards redemption.

According to the Poker Shrink....
"I am glad that poker fans will finally get the opportunity to hear Mike's side of the story. I can only promise that some of the tales will seem like Mike is covering up his guilt or blame, others will surely seem like way more of a confession than you ever would have expected but finally, there are stories in the book that no one has ever heard before and Mike was honest enough to tell them like they happened and never once asked us to tone them down or clean them up."
Check-Raising the Devil was written in the first person. The editors obviously cleaned up a lot of Matusow-speak, which is sort of like watching The Breakfast Club on TNT in a edited-for-TV sort of way. That's not to say that they censored all the partying and drug scenes. All of the mischievous hijinks were included (although some of the names were changed) and and if anything, they held back on a few scenes.

It's been widely known in poker circles that Matusow had a penchant for street drugs for many years for both recreational and self-medicating purposes. His struggles with drugs affected his poker play in both positive and negative ways. The book discusses that aspect in great detail... how meth was initially a wonder drug for Matusow and he went on a million-dollar rush tweaking his ass off... but in the end, the addiction and reliance upon speed led to his downfall at the tables.

Thee heart of the book included chapters discussing the recovery > sting > arrest > trail > prison. After realizing the partying and meth was rotting his brain and destroying his future as a professional poker player, Matusow had cleaned up his act and was trying to turn his life around when he got set up doing a coke deal for a couple of friends who turned out to be a DEA agent and an FBI informant.

The prison chapter stood out from the rest of the book. Matusow painted us a word picture of what it was like being in jail from the different jobs he had (kitchen detail, laundry, and landscaping) to his multiple experiences with getting thrown in the hole. Supposedly, someone from the inside kept messing with Matusow's status and he was constantly moved around from the mellower parts of the prison to the dreaded North Tower where the hardened criminals were quartered. On Matusow's first night in the North Tower, his cellmate threatened to kick his ass if he snored. That instantly scared the fuck out of Matusow and he did everything possible to stay awake. He eventually dozed off and he woke up with his cellmate choking him. A scuffle ensued and Matusow quickly asked to be transferred. The guards gave him two choices... stay in the cell with the psychopath... or get thrown into the hole. Matusow chose the hole.

Hard core poker fans will love the detailed hand analysis from different highlights in Matusow's tournament career (first bracelet win, the 2005 Main Event final table, and the TOC victory), however, those were some of my least favorite parts. The specifics slowed down the pacing of the book and after a while, I skimmed those sections and feasted on the juiciest parts such as the prison chapter.

As a known drug fiend, I was intrigued with the self-medication vs. doctor-prescribed pharmies battle. That's one of the most intriguing parts of the book even though Matusow's mental stability was just a back-story. Obviously, the strengths of the Poker Shrink where shining through on those sections.

Several poker biographies/autobiographies were released over the last few years and Matusow's story is by far one of the most fascinating stories that I read in recent memory. You can pre-order the Matusow book today via Amazon. The book will be released in stores on May 12.

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

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Good Friday, Homer

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Poker writers don't make a lot of money. Some of the perks are priceless, but the average pay is atrocious. Most of the time, after a week long assignment we're lucky to leave the casino with any money whatsoever. God knows how many temptations surround us since we work inside places that were constructed for the sole purpose to suck every single cent out of your wallet. Between the poker tables, the pit games, prop betting, and the soaring bar tabs... and toss in a couple of expensive vices such as strip clubs, working girls, and illegal substances... poker media types often leave an assignment deep in the hole.

That's why I was particularly excited when Homer went deep in the $500 08 SCOOP event on PokerStars. Homer wrote for Blonde Poker and is part of the crop of stellar poker writers from the UK. I'm in awe of their mastery of the English language.

I knew that Homer was a decent PLO player, but I had no idea that the chap had mad 08 skills. Homer put on a demonstration from the time I started sweating him with about six tables to go. He was among the Top 5 in chips from pretty much that point on as I became a Midi-Scoop railbird for the rest of the evening.

Tom McEvoy was already seated at Homer's table when the one and only Chris Moneymaker was moved into an empty seat after his table broke. That's something you don't see too often... two former WSOP Main Event champions at the same table... especially because they were seated with a snarky British scribe and someone who used a picture of Britney Spears as their avatar.

McEvoy spent most of the time folding in between debunking myths about his swinger status spawned by a fake myspace page created a couple of years ago. Moneymaker busted out in 23rd place and Homer was all of a sudden second in chips.

I was playing PLO on PokerStars, when Homer took the chiplead with 17 to go. Alas, his lead was shortlived. He was rivered brutal PokerStars fashion and slid far down the ladder into the basement. He went from rubbing elbows with the fat cats and sipping the finest gin in the British Empire to slumming it in the gritty ghettos among the flimsiest of stacks. Despite the humbling setback and challenge, Homer mounted a spectacular run as he outplayed a cagey Scandi sitting to his right who sported an Annette 15 avatar and a hometown containing lots of vowel with dots over them.

"He's the Terminator," said Homer in awe of McEvoy's ability to stay alive.

Homer advanced to the final table fifth in chips with McEvoy as the shortstack, an uncoveted role he had held for the final two tables. He simply refused to die. The former world champ's stack would dwindle down to minuscule amount and on the verge of getting blinded out in the big blind. On one instance, he shoved from UTG and survived with a triple up.

Then the blinds reached a point where they were so ridiculously high that several medium stacks were suddenly shorties. Someone figured out how to knock off McEvoy and he finally busted. With four players to go, Homer took on the unwanted role as the wee one at the table.

A plucky Homer battled and scratched and clawed and fought his way back into contention. Despite numerous stoppages and offers to negotiate a deal (where Homer would have gotten the shit end of the stick - short stacks usually get fucked in 'chip deals'), Homer remained firm in the amount he felt he deserved. When they failed to meet his expected payout, the game played on.

A player busted and with three to go, Homer made a stand. He was on the brink of elimination and all in... which occurred at the most fortuitous time because he flopped trips and turned quads en route to a tournament saving double up. And with three to go, he surged into second place when his Aces held up.

Although Homer trailed the chipleader by a million chips and at least a 3 to 1 margin, the chip leader was tired and the weakest player of the three remaining players. Homer looked for opportunities to chip away at the massive lead. After an hour or so of three-handed play, the chipleader lost a couple of medium-sized pots as his stack slid under 1M in chips. Homer smelled blood and bested him in one hand when Homer scooped a pot with two pair and an uncontested low.

At that point, only 170K chips separated the three players and they arranged a chop for about 33.5K each plus a little more to the winner. Alas, Homer's run ended soon after and he bowed out in third place.

"Sigh... I'm absolutely gutted," he said. "But I guess I should be happy."

I only sat on the rail for a couple of hours and I was absolutely beat down. Chopped pot games? Sort of like poker on Valium. The tournament ran for 11+ hours. Jesus, a half a day of 08? That's utter torture for me, but for some, it's sheer bliss.

Congrats to Homer. Job well done, mate and may God save your Queen. Next time I'm in London, the first seven round of pints are on you!

* * * * *

Congrats to Terrance Chan for taking down not one... but two SCOOP events... in the same day. That's the stuff that legends are made of. Well done, sir.

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

Friday, April 10, 2009

Poker Haiku Vol. 1: Razz

Poker Haiku Vol. 1: Razz

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA
only sadists play
the junk numbing game of razz
brick brick brick brick brick

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

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Lost in Translation

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

My buddy Benjo agreed to translate Lost Vegas into French. And we already have great news... a big dog in the French publishing world wants to secure the publishing rights to Lost Vegas. As a scribe, one of the highest literary honors you can achieve is having a work translated into a different language... particularly in French. Talk about a humbling moment.

I'm hoping to sell more copies in the UK, France, and Canada than in America. Why? Americans don't read books....
According to Jerold Jenkins from

1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.
80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
57 percent of new books are not read to completion.
70 percent of books published do not earn back their advance.
70 percent of the books published do not make a profit.

* * * * *

Benjo wrote a very flattering piece on his blog the other day about Lost Vegas titled.... Un futur best-seller. Too bad that my French is awful, so here's the hysterical Babelfish version...
Then, for both of the sitted bottom close to the radiator which reads my blog in diagonal, Paul McGuire is not other than famous Dr. Pauly, founder of the Tao off Poker, best the blog devoted to our universe (without counting a foultitude of projects devoted to his passions: the writing and music of hippies, inter alia) a friend, a mentor, a fellow traveler, an invaluable moral support since two years. And this luminous panel which s' insert in a sand desert, it is the cover of its first book, "Lost Vegas". The good doctor comes d' in making the first public advertisement on its blog today - this n' is not a fish d' April, I know it because that made d' more; one year qu' it bump above in secrecy, between New York, Las Vegas, LA and l' Europe. I do not know when his fate, but fichtre, like j' am in a hurry to be able to put the hand on the manuscript. With the menu: degenerated whores, drug addicts, strippers, players, and still well d' others acros of any kind, in a city entirely founded on l' addiction. With judging some by the subtitle, I deduce from it that the contents will be strongly autobiographical. Having lived tens and tens of adventures heteroclite in Vegas in company of Pauly, the WSOP, in the casinos, the tables of black-jack, in restaurants seedy character and strip-clubs equivocal, in the desert, I wonder whether I will appear in the account? I am enough conceited to think that yes. At all events, I have already tankard the rights of the French translation.
In the immortal words of Woody Allen... "Here, I'm a bum. There, I'm a genius. Thank God the French exist."

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

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

You Can't Change What's Already Happened

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I was up $7,000 and my flight to Burbank did not leave Las Vegas for another seven hours. What could possibly go wrong?

I have been extremely lucky in life so I'm surprised when a wave of good fortune comes my way in the form of gambling. I've been around the gambling world enough to know that those rushes don't happen frequently and it's important to ride the rush and enjoy ever second of it before it fades into oblivion.

I experienced one of those epic weekends that happened every once in a blue moon. I went 4-0 in the Elite Eight games during a sports betting rush. The result? A nice wad of Benjamins burning a hole in my pocket and a anxious desire to skip town as soon as possible.

Shaniac called me on Monday morning. He checked out of the Bellagio and offered me a ride back to L.A.. I almost took him up on the offer, but I had a lunch meeting scheduled and respectfully declined. Less than an hour later, my meeting was canceled when my colleague had gotten sick at the last minute. We had to reschedule for another date and I found myself in an odd predicament. I had already checked out of my hotel, my bags were packed and I smoked the last of my stash. I had several hours to kill and nothing specific to do.

"To be idle is a short road to death and to be diligent is a way of life; foolish people are idle, wise people are diligent."

Buddha said that. And that fat fuck must have glimpsed into the future and saw visions of the depravity in Las Vegas. I had more money on me than I had in a very long time and a cornucopia of ways around me to lose every single cent. I curbed my urge for more excessive gambling at the sports betting. There were NIT games. NBA games. Even chick college hoops. I promised myself to stay out of the sports book the moment after I cashed the largest ticket that I had seen in years. I knew that I had been pressing my luck and the rush. The last thing that I wanted to do was continue to push it because I was due to lose a bet... a big one.

I considered renting a car and driving back to L.A., but by the time I got anywhere near the city, I'd get stuck in awful rush hour traffic. Nothing tilts me more than L.A. freeway traffic, well, maybe crying babies on airplanes send me on the most uber-tilt. Xanax is perfect baby repellent and I'm waiting for Pfizer to start manufacturing childrens' cherry-flavored chewable Xannie bars so parents can dispense proper dosages of alprazolam to their feisty offspring in order for me to have an outburst free flight. Sadly, I can't take Xanax while I'm driving in L.A.. It just wouldn't be very safe. Then again, it's probably the least harmful chemical that's been in my blood stream in the last decade. Alas, driving back to L.A. was ruled out of the question.

I sat in the food court at the Castle and figured out my options as I ignored the aromatic callings of Krispy Kreme. Man, I craved a donut. I craved gambling action. Alas, I have been on a self-imposed donut diet for the last few years. Sometimes in life, it's important to have structure and boundaries. I could look at the savory donuts, but I do not touch. Instead, I used their free wifi to look up flights because I fought every urge to spend every single dollar in my pocket.

I considered changing my 7pm flight, but the only other JetBlue flight to SoCal left only ninety minutes earlier. I found a $139 flight on Southworst airlines that left within the hour, but it would cost me $100 to cancel my other flight. I was already to buy a new ticket when I closed out the browser. Only the weak flee from a confrontation. Then again, some of the harshest Las Vegas losing stories that you'd hear at GA meetings in the valley entailed a huge score where the victim sat on bundles of cash and then blew it all. I did not want to be that guy. That hopeless loser people jeered at, who could not exhibit an iota of self-control.

Thoughts of peril and evil bombarded my brain but they were disguised in tantalizing nuggets of joy and bliss. I had difficulties discerning entertainment and financial fleecing. I spun around in a 360 degree circle in the middle of the Strip and pitfalls surrounded me. Temptations around every nook and corner.

I was literally spooked out of my skin and afraid to do anything or go anywhere for fear of losing my profit. I considered hanging out with the afternoon shift at the Rhino and acquiring yet another sampling of Existentialist Conversations with Strippers for the sequel to Lost Vegas, but I exercised an amazing display of willpower and discipline. Strip clubs are black holes for bankrolls.

If I could abstain from pissing away my money at the various gentleman's clubs around town, then I could definitely avoid the Pai Gow tables with all those evil Asian female dealers who just smile as they scoop up your money.

Pai Gow was the first foul temptress to call out my name. Those bitches were even subtle about it. Pai Gow is enticing on several levels when played with a group of rowdy friends and knocking back watered down greyhounds. However, sitting alone at a Pai Gow table at one in the afternoon is a tad on the degenerate side. It's flat out... sad. Raging solo at 4am is another story but at 1pm? Something total different, unless I had been up for 37 straight hours, then it would have been kosher to be buying in for $1,500 at a $10 table. I convinced myself to stay away from the Pai Gow traps and the remainder of the seductive games in the pit... single deck black jack, Let It Ride, the money wheel, and of course the most degenerate game in all of Sin City.... craps... the crack cocaine of the gambling world.

I slowly ate my lunch at Mandalay Bay and read the local newspaper (a fusion of the RJ and the Sun), while it still existed and thumbed through the classified section. I never saw so many homes listed at under 100K. And those used to be quarter of a million homes at the end of Cul de Sacs with fancy sounding names but now they are all empty aside from a few entrepreneurs who turned a bunch in grow houses or meth labs.

I wandered past the poker room and noticed that they were starting up a new NL table. There were a few empty seats and I said, "Fuck it."

I sat down at a table made up of mostly tourists and maybe one or two locals. Seat 1 was a convention guy with a laptop bag underneath his chair. Seat 2 was a woman in her 60s. You hero sat in Seat 3. A young Asian kid with a Red Sox hat sat next to me in Seat 4. Seat 5 was another convention guy who constantly went for a short-buy and would bust and rebuy short. Seat 6 was the calling station. Seat 7 was his wife another calling station. Seat 8 was an old guy with a porn mustache in a Hawaiian shirt. Seat 9 was a local with a dark golf tan. Seat 10 looked like a NJ state trooper.

I started out with a Perrier and on the waitresses second pass, I asked for a Ginger Ale. That's when the old lady sitting next to me decided to bust my balls.

"Moving onto the hard stuff?"

When she sat down she immediately quizzed the waitress about the types of vodka they served. She wanted to know if she could get something top shelf instead of the well brand.

"Do you have Grey Goose?"

"No," said the busty waitress. "I can get you Absolut or Skyy."

"I'll have a Abslout with a splash of cranberry. It's 5pm somewhere, right?"

The old lady took a couple of sips of her drink. She barely touched it and asked the waitress for a single shot of Absolut. When the waitress returned, she poured the shot into her drink.

"Why didn't you ask for a double?"

"If you ask for doubles, they automatically give you the well vodka. This way, I definitely get two shots of premium stuff. All the well vodkas give me horrible headache. So where's you drink? A real drink?"

"I popped a half of a painkiller after lunch."

"Well, let me know when it kicks in."

I didn't want to tell her that I actually popped two, but they never kick in. I have just been maintaining steady buzz since 1996.

"You look very familiar," said the old lady. "Are you from California?"

"New York originally. I used to live here in Vegas, but now I live in L.A."

"Do you play at the L.A. card rooms? I swear that I've seen you before."

Wha? Cougar seat 2 trying to pick me up? I was flattered, and obviously not interested.

The table played super passive. Lots of limping. At the L.A. casinos, you'd see someone from UTG raise 10x the BB and there would be 7 or 8 callers. Every fuckin' time. And then everyone checked the flop... but that's a story for another time.

At the Mandalay Bay, my table was filled with limpers. A couple of times I three-bet a redunkulous amount. I'd thin the field with my raise and get one or two reluctant callers. They checked to me on the flop. I'd bet out and they'd fold.

And then I got kicked in the junk. One player opened for the standard raise and there were five callers including your hero in the big blind with 7-7. The flop was K-K-7. I check called a 1/2 pot size bet from the guy on the button. Two players folded and one other called. I hoped that one of them had a King because I was on the verge of check-raising the turn. The 3 fell on the turn. I checked. The button bet 1/2 the pot. I check-raised 4x his bet. The other player folded and the button called. The river was a Jack. Jesus, I hope he didn't have K-J. I bet out about 1/2 the pot and he raised about 4x my bet.

"I flopped a boat," I said. "And you just rivered a bigger boat with K-J."

The convention guy looked away and I furiously rubbed my temples. I should have folded but the low limit NL tables on the strip are filled with the worst of the worst. I called because of the slight chance he only held trip Kings.

"Show me K-J."

He quickly tabled K-J for the bigger boat. I flashed my sevens and tossed them into the muck.

"If I moved all in on the flop or turn, what would you..." I wondered out loud.

He cut me off before I could finish. "I'm all in for sure. It's hard for me to get away from a set on the flop."

I cringed when I heard people incorrectly use the term 'set'. I was almost felted by a guy who didn't know the difference between sets and trips. I probably should have gone broke there, but didn't I topped off my chips and stormed back. I was up 1/2 buy-in at one point after I pulled off a marvelous bluff with Qs-2s. I flopped bottom pair and missed a flush draw and by the river all I had was a paltry pair of deuces. I somehow pushed the guy in the Hawaiian shirt off his hand. I didn't show the bluff, but the Asian kid next to me whispered, "I know you had jack-shit."

"Make that Queen-Shit sooooted."

Sadly that would be the last hand that I'd win against the tourists and locals. The old lady spewed off her stack as the booze finally hit her hard. She left but not before obtaining a cocktail for the road.

A retired southerner with white hair sat down in her seat. He asked the waitress for a scotch and water and I carefully inspected his watch and wedding band. It wasn't long before we were involved in a pot together. I found K-K in the big blind. One player raised and the retired southerner called from the small blind. I severely overbet and both players called.

Without fail, whenever I have Kings in a multi-way pot, an Ace will hit flop.

To add insult to injury, the Ace of hearts was the door card. Two hearts on the board. The retired southerner checked. I bet the pot. The original raiser folded and the retired southerner called. The turn was a low heart. The retired southerner quickly moved all in. I folded my Kings face up and he showed me Kh-10h for the flush.

An orbit went by and I found pocket Jacks UTG. I fired out 5x the BB. The short-buy guy shoved all in for 20x the BB. The calling station called along with the retired southerner. I looked back down at my Jacks and figured that they were no good. I flashed them to the Asian kid sitting next to me and he shook his head.

"You should have shoved," he joked.

Yes, I folded J-J preflop. The flop 7-4-2 and the retired southerner fired out a huge bet from the big blind and the calling station called as they built a side pot. The turn was a Jack and I threw up a little bit in my mouth. The Asian kid shook his head and muttered, "I told ya. Always shove with Jacks."

The retired southerner moved all in and the calling station tanked for three minutes before he folded. The retired southerner tabled A-K suited. The short-buy guy? Pocket sixes.

Wow, a fuckin' tourist bluffed me. I didn't even need that Jack on the turn. I was ahead the entire time. The retired southerner won uncontested the side pot and the short-buy guy had quadrupled up.

"Now, that's gonna tilt me," I said to no one in particular.

On the next hand, I found J-10 of clubs in the big blind. Five players and everyone limped. The flop was J-10-X rainbow with the X card a low club. I checked-raised the convention guy in Seat 1. He called.

The turn was the 8c. I fired out with top two and a flush draw. He quickly re-raised me.

"No way you have Q-9," I said. "Would you have limped on the button with eights?"

I tanked for a bit. I should have folded but somehow I convinced myself that he had J-10 as well and that we were tied for the pot, except that I was free-rolling a flush draw. Or perhaps he picked up a flush draw in addition to top pair and he was trying to push me off the pot.

"All in," I said and moved a stack of redbirds over the line.

He quickly called couldn't have tabled Q-9 fast enough. I quickly asked the dealer for a Jack or a ten or a club. Nope. I whiffed on the river. Felted by a conventioneer.

The dealer asked me if I wanted to rebuy. I probably should have stayed since the game was definitely beatable with the high amount of weak and poor players. Alas, I was on tilt, something that was rare for me, and I was clearly not playing optimally even against the inbredtards. I couldn't shake it so I decided to walk away. I lost two buy-ins and cursed myself for not buying a new ticket home. It would have been cheaper.

Shakespeare said it best, "When our actions do not, our fears do make us traitors."

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

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Tao of Pokerati - Bowling for Dollars

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Last Sunday night was my last night in Vegas. I was stunned at my miraculous run at the sports book. Wasting my night away on MPGT (mega-Pai Gow tilt) was a desperate situation that I wanted to avoid.

I decided to hustle Michalski at the lanes. I offered to bowl a three game series against Michalski for $100. We settled on a $50 wager for best series and we also wagered $50 on a 'best-of-three' including bonuses for whoever had the most strikes each game.

Michalski drove us to South Point in the middle of a sandstorm. Swirling. Winds. Sand. Ominous signs of the continuing winter of discontent. I visited South Point once before, with Grubby on a buffet sojourn.

Wandering through the floor of the unusually brightly lit casino was sort of like being inside a classier version of the Gold Coast inhabited with people that had actually bathed that day. A dozen Japanese hippies stumbled out of a small van and dragged their luggage through the casino as I followed Michalski up the escalator to the bowling alley.

A busty blonde in a pink juicy sweatsuit stood in line in front of us. She paid for an extra game for two of her friends. She unfurled a $100 bill and the guy from behind the counter leered at her fabricated rack for a couple of seconds longer that someone in a service situation should have been allowed to do so. I looked over to at the lanes and spotted two other exotic dancer types. What do Las Vegas strippers do on Sunday nights? Bowling, of course.

The guy behind the counter was all business. He spoke with a slight Eastern-European accent and didn't respond when I asked him how his night as going. Unfortunately, the miserly Michalski failed to bribe the guy behind the counter. If Michalski had slid the hourly-wage slave a $20 bill, heck even $5, then he would have hooked us up with the lane next to the strippers. Instead, the bitter malcontent plopped down two pairs of recently disinfected size 10 bowling shoes and shipped us to the far end of the bowling alley.... next to two lanes of kids. Some sort of Mexican birthday party with 20 kids running around and playing bowling with bumpers. At 11pm on a Sunday night. Las Vegas.

Despite the little ones and the obvious sexual angst brewing for not being near the dancers, we kicked off the challenged in a highly contest first game. It came down to the last frames. I held a slight lead and won by a few pins. I smoked Michalski in the second game. He later revealed that the guy in the lane next to us was using his ball and got too much lane grease on finger holes. It was a legit excuse, but Michalski was too much of a pussy to tell the guy to stop using his ball. Why? The guy was at least 6'6" and 250 lbs. He would have kicked both of our asses, so I'm kinda glad that Michalski sort of shined it on like a nice Christian soldier. The meek shall inherit the Earth.

We recorded a podcast that night regarding our hijinks at the bowling alley. Here's the latest episode...

Episode 10.7: Bowling for Dollars... According to Michalski, "I blame it all on a text that put me on tilt for about four critical frames... regardless, to close out his most recent visit to Vegas, Pauly and I went bowling at the South Point casino for an intense heads-up match and some prop-betting education... and because he's not on Facebook and we couldn’t wager status-update control, we had to play for cash."
Thanks for listening to the shortest and laziest poker podcast on the intertubes. For first time listeners, head over to the Tao of Pokerati Archives.

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