Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year End Video: On the Road in 2009

By Pauly
Miami, FL

A couple of years ago, I spliced together a video that featured random clips from my random travels. The "On the Road" year end video has become a tradition since then.

2009 was an exhilarating year for me. Although I limited my international travel in 2009, I spent a significant amount of time exploring different parts of America when my favorite band got back together. And of course, I spent a nice chunk of time in Las Vegas.

The 2009 video had to be split into two parts...

Enjoy and Happy New Year!

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

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Tao of Poker: 2009 Year in Review, Part 2

By Pauly
Miami, FL

And let's get started with the best of the rest of 2009...

* * * * *


The month started with the 2009 WSOP underway...
Day 5: Vitaly Lunkin Who?
Day 6: Scooter Races and Fading the Great Dane
And then I took off on Phish tour. It was only supposed to be a weekend, but I took off for 20 days in total. The reason? I had the Tao All Stars to pick up the slack. I assembled the best writing team in poker to cover the WSOP while I took an extended vacation and returned for the final three weeks.

Here's the sensational contributions from the Tao All Stars...
The Tragedy of Mr. Nice Guy by Benjo
The WSOP Fashion Report - Week 1: The Year of the Makeover by Change100
The BJ Report: Just Another Day in the Office... Phil Ivey Wins His Sixth Bracelet -- and $12 Million by BJ Nemeth
Mean Gene's WSOP Photo Dump, Volume 1 by Mean Gene
All That Glitters by Snoopy
The BJ Report: A Look Back at the First 19 Events by BJ Nemeth
Ladies of the Night: WSOP Version by Poker Shrink
The New Kid in Town by Snoopy
Flipchip WSOP Photo Dump by Flipchip
The BJ Report: A Look Back at the First 31 Events by BJ Nemeth
Fringe: Jeffrey Pollack and the Fine Line by Brad 'Otis' Willis
WSOP Fashion Report, Week 2 & 3: The Douche-O-Meter by Change100
World Series of Penny by Poker Shrink
Mean Gene WSOP Photo Dump Volume 2 by Mean Gene
The Kabbaj Regime by Snoopy
And once I returned to Las Vegas, I was back for good and returned to writing daily on Tao...
Day 27: The Weigh In and the Miami John Incident
Day 28: Lisandro's Hat Trick
Day 29: Jeff Goldblum Is Not Dead
Day 30: Dying HORSE and Never Mind the Pollocks, Here Come the Sex Pistols
Day 31: Horses, Deuces, and DonkeyBombers
Day 32: Undercover and What Does Benjo Think?
Day 33: Gus Hansen Orgasm
* * * * *


Michalski was happy that I finally returned so we could record episodes of Tao of Pokerati podcast...
Episode 11.18: The Angry Michalski Episode (5:00)
Episode 11.19: Lisandropalooza with BJ Nemeth (3:49)
Episode 11.20: Pauly Returns (5:07)
Episode 11.21: HORSE Hunting (4:09)
Episode 11.22: The Satellite Economy (5:06)
Episode 11.23: Poker VIPees (3:02)
Episode 11.24: Running Numbers (3:30)
Episode 11.25: Tinfoil HORSE (3:52)
Episode 11.26: DonkTwit Conspiracy (4:54)
I wrote daily recaps of the WSOP on the Tao...
Day 34: David Bach Wins $50,000 HORSE Championship and What Does Benjo Think, Vol. 2
Day 37 - Main Event Day 1A: Summer of George?
Day 38 - Main Event Day 1B: Theme from the Bottom
Day 39 - Main Event 1C: Welcome to the Psychedelic Circus
Day 40 - Main Event Day 1D: No Soup for You
Day 41: Dollar Bill Blues and What Does Benjo Think, Vol. 4
Day 42 - Main Event Day 2B: Schadenfreude
Day 43 - Third Place for Charity
Day 44 - Main Event Day 3: Two Frenchies, One Cup
Day 45 - Main Event Day 4: Bubbles, Leap Frog, and What Does Benjo Think Vol. 5
Day 46 - Main Event Day 5: Rapido and The Rise of the DonkeyBomber
Day 47 - Main Event Day 6: When I'm 64
Day 48 - Main Event Day 7: Evil Lurks on the Cusp of Greatness
Day 49 - Main Event Day 8: Phil Ivey Advances to November Nine

WSOP By the Numbers
The biggest personal highlight during the WSOP Main Event... was getting to play in Dream Team Poker... and winning it! Tao of Pokerati (me, Michalski, and LJ) took down the team side of the tournament while I finished in 13th place. Check out Making Day 2 and Tao of Pokerati Wins Dream Team Poker III.

And yes, Michalski blew through all of his winnings while I spent the majority of mine on self-publishing Lost Vegas and the rest funded my trip to the Phish's Halloween festival, fall tour, and the New Year's run in Miami.

And yes, it returned... Existentialist Conversations with Strippers: Sunshine, Jesus Freaks, and the Afternoon Shift... Consider that new material for the sequel to Lost Vegas!

This has been sort of a tradition... the brooding closing post about Las Vegas that I write when the WSOP is finally over and I have been freed. This year's piece is titled The Story of the Ghost

I appeared on the Poker Beat.

Laydowns is a post inspired by a big fold that I made during a session of online poker.

And for all you Benjo fans, here's the video version of What Does Benjo Think?

* * * * *


Not too much report in August mainly because I was having a fun summer and went on vacation to Colorado, Washington State, and New York. But there are a few gems...

There's an adage... "write what you know" hence... Addiction: The Fine Line Between a Hobby and a Habit.

Favre Trumps WSOP? Yeah, fuck Brett Favre.

is a touching tale about... ah go read for yourself.

Flash Forward: Reunion is how I imagined my 15th college reunion.

I weighed in on some heavy industry news... Party Gaming Buys WPT.

And I was still degen'ing it up with Degenerate Wednesdays: LLWS and Betting on Baseball.

Matt Parvis was named editor of Poker News and he hired me to write a series of Op/Eds and Sunday columns.

* * * * *


ESPN aired the episodes of the WSOP Main Event and I penned recaps of their broadcasts...
Main Event Day 2A on ESPN - The Fossilman and Costanza Show
Main Event Day 2B on ESPN - A Kinder and Quieter Hellmuth and the Always Aloof Ivey Time
Main Event Day 3 on ESPN - Aussies, Ivey, and No Shake for Hellmuth
Main Event Day 4 on ESPN - Bubbles and the World Series of Ivey
Main Event Day 5 on ESPN - ElkY and Happy

Embezzle is a few half-baked thoughts about the casino thieves.

My friend and colleague, the Poker Shrink, left the poker industry... for good. I wrote something titled Farewell to the Shrink.

Joe Sebok Signs With Ultimate Bet; Caped Crusader Looks to Bring Law and Order to Online Poker is a reaction Seebs signing with UB.

My friend Trisha Lynn wrote a guest post as the Tao's reality TV show correspondent as she covered Tiffany Michelle and Maria Ho's stint on The Amazing Race. Check out... Letters to Pauly: The Amazing Race, Vol. 1.

* * * * *


ESPN continued to air episodes of the 2009 WSOP Main Event and I wrote up recaps of the broadcasts...
Main Event Day 8 on ESPN - Liquidity Crisis, Mucking Winners, and Down to 18
Main Event Day 7 on ESPN - Donkeys in the Rye
Main Event Day 6.5 on ESPN - Four Heavy Hitters, Jaws of Ivey, and AngryJulie
Main Event Day 5.5 and Day 6 on ESPN - Introducing the DonkeyBomber
Trisha Lynn returned with weekly updates of the Amazing Race. Check out...
Letters to Pauly: The Amazing Race, Vol. 2
Letters to Pauly: The Amazing Race, Vol. 3 - The Cambodian Monkey
Letters to Pauly: The Amazing Race, Vol. 4 - Digging Through Sand & Snow in Dubai
Letters to Pauly: The Amazing Race, Vol. 5 - Rowboats, Hookahs, and Water Slides in Dubai; Tiff-Ho Move into Second Place
I skipped the WSOP-Europe in London to finish up work on Lost Vegas. I missed the hoopla surrounding Barry Shulman's victory in the Main Event. Here's my reaction... Happy's Dad Wins WSOP-Europe; Happy's Chances in WSOP Final Table Plummet.

Not to be outdone, Happy hired Phil Hellmuth as his coach. That inspired a Karate Kid-themed post titled... Happy Hires Hellmuth.

I was fortunate enough to be one of the 15 members of the media who voted on this year's class into the Poker Hall of Fame. As expected, Mike Sexton got a nod... Welcome to the Poker Hall of Fame... Mike Sexton.

I was told by many of my friends that they thought this was the "post of the year" on Tao. Decided for yourself... Cezanne = The First Tournament Reporter.

I played poker in Schecky's home game... The PMHG: Cheviot Hills.

A weekend session of online poker against Eurodonks inspired... Kafka, Eurodonks, and Repartees.

* * * * *


Trisha Lynn returned with one final guest post... Letters to Pauly: The Amazing Race, Vol. 6 - Tiff-Ho Busto.

On the cusp of the November Nine, I recapped one final episode of ESPN's Main Event coverage... WSOP Main Event Day 8, Part 2 on ESPN - Darvin Gump and the November Nine.

The drive from LA to Las Vegas inspired me to write Conceptual Alienation.

Here's the November Nine coverage on Tao of Poker:
November Nine Quick Stats
November Nine Bios
November Nine Final Table - Live Blog
From Nine to Two; Cada vs. Moon
November Nine Heads Up - Live Blog
Joe Cada Wins 2009 WSOP Main Event & Becomes Youngest Champion
Poker Hall of Fame Dinner & Mike Sexton Induction Ceremony
We recorded new episodes of Tao of Pokerati...
Book 12: The November Nine
Episode 12.1: Pre-action Action (1:45)
Episode 12.2: Homme-team Advantage (1:45)
Episode 12.3: For Those about to Rock, We Saout You with Benjo (2:25)
Episode 12.4: Hall of Fame Dinner: Voter Hesitation (1:13)
Episode 12.5: Hall of Fame Dinner: Touched by Sexton (2:45)
Episode 12.6: Not-so-Last Call (3:36)
Episode 12.7: The Final 3 (2:56)
Episode 12.8: Wave the Flag with Benjo (4:02)
Episode 12.9: Cutting down Moon (1:58)
Episode 12.10: Cada’s Commencement (1:25)

French Fried Poker with Benjo & Pauly
Episode 1: The Scarf
After the November Nine ended, I hit the pits for a batch of utter degeneracy... Dilettante Pai Gow.

Oh, and then a bitch accused me of cheating... Golden Angle Shooters at the Nugget.

We also got a bit of sad news... Jeffrey Pollack Vacates WSOP Commissioner Job.

Here's a batch of Reader Mail: Waffles, the Vegas Trip, and Hooters.

I headed down to Central America for a working-vacation and penned Dispatches from Costa Rica, Vol. 1.

The month ended with a piece about The Rise and Fall of Isuldur1.

* * * * *


Politics and poker... UIGEA Regulations Delayed Six Months.

I offered up some advice to friends about to hit Sin City... Invading Las Vegas Tips Reprise.

The Godfather of Poker is one of the coolest things that happened to me in a while -- an autographed copy of Texas Dolly's autobiography.

Tao of Poker was nominated for Best Poker Blog in the Bluff Magazine Reader's Choice Awards.

I headed to Las Vegas for the annual bloggers gathering. Here's the skinny...
Dispatches from Las Vegas: Origins
Part I: Taste the Fear
Part II: Friday Night Amateurs and Astin Wins the 6th Annual WPBT Holiday Classic
Part III: Sunday Sunday
WPBT Video
And let's not forget... Life Wagering: Planes, Pac-Man, Sportsbooks, Top Chef, and Parking Meters.

* * * * *

And if you like what you read, I encourage you to vote Tao of Poker for Best Poker Blog in Bluff's Readers Choice Awards. Thanks for your support.

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

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Tao of Poker: 2009 Year in Review, Part 1

By Pauly
Miami, FL

This is the time of year that I love and hate equally. Sometimes it's fun to sift through the static and find a few gems, but most of the time I cringe as I re-read the incessant ramblings that I churned out over the year. I also start fresh in January and remind myself that less is more. Someday I'll listen to my own advice.

Anyway, here's the first part of the 2009 Year in Review for the Tao of Poker...

* * * * *

January 2009

I started the year on an assignment in the Bahamas covering the PCA for PokerStars. After my first day on Paradise Island at the equal swanky and overrated Atlantis resort, I penned Welcome to Hog Island.

In the Bahamas, Benjo and I recorded an episode of the Tao of Pokerati...
Episode 8.1: International Hotspot (3:25)
PCA Afterthoughts: Midnight Ravers... is something that came together when the PCA came to a close and I reflected on the events, drunken hijinks, and other sordid tales.

But I wasn't quite done with writing about the Bahamas... German Chicks on Sleds, the Bahamas Belch, and Lime Tossing.

In industry news... my friend and colleague John Caldwell resigned from Poker News in early January. I was saddened at the news. Once he left the helm, I found it difficult to want to continue to work/do business with the company.

Flipchip took some salacious pics of porn stars, meanwhile, I appeared on a poker industry Roundtable with the likes of Barry Greenstein, Matt Parvis, Jeffrey Pollack, and super agent Brian Balsbaugh as we weighed in on several topics.

When I returned to L.A. after the Bahamas, I focused primarily on finishing Lost Vegas. The book took up most of my time, so the quantity of posts slipped dramatically on Tao of Poker, however, the quality per piece increased substantially. Looking back at the blog, there was a period in late January and early February when I cranked out some of the better material I had produced in a very long time.

The Lost City of Tunica wondered what happened to the Tunica buzz as more pros have been pulled away from the Southern gambling Mecca in favor of international pursuits.

I delve off the deep end during a discussion of addiction in Chasing the Dragon. It's a dark, raw, and honest piece. One of my favorites from 2009.

Conceptual Paranoia includes a dystopian peek into the financial crisis.

Chevoit Hills Counterfeit is a recap of one of Schecky's home games in L.A.

* * * * *

February 2009

The Day the Music Died marked the anniversary of the death of Buddy Holly and how he tragically lost his life by a mere flip of a coin.

Where's My Bailout? is my skewed take on the big banks feasting on billion dollar welfare checks from the government.

Soul Cards was originally the opening chapter to Lost Vegas, yet that got trimmed. I posted the scraps for public consumption.

Reader Mail: Busto Brad was the most fun I had writing a post in a very long time. It involves the above photo.

Welcome to AmsterVegas is my suggestion to the Vegas power brokers to seriously study the Amsterdam model to boost tourism after the city and casinos posted another dismal quarter. How about bringing legal prostitution and the decriminalization of marijuana/hashish to Las Vegas? Or maybe just leave that to the Dutch?

* * * * *


Slim pickins in March on Tao. I was bogged down in the slums of Beverly Hills writing Lost Vegas and then took off for two weeks; Vegas for March Madness and Virginia for the Phish reunion.

Gobbling Pills in the Dark and Returning to the Mothership is where I admit my addiction to Pac Man.

The Feeling I Forgot is an inside look into the Phish Reunion including scalpers, hippies, drug dealers, and local law enforcement types.

The Ides of Imperil is the beginning of the end of me. March Madness. Sports betting.

March Heater and Dream Team Poker tracks my progress early on in the college hoops tournament and on the cusp of playing in my first Dream Team Poker event.

Dream Team Poker at Caesars is my report on how I was the last player standing on my team, Tao of Pokerati, with Michalski and Shaniac.

And of course, we recorded episodes of Tao of Pokerati...
Tao of Pokerati - Dream Team Podcasts
Episode 10.1: Gel Time (2:47)
Episode 10.2: Shirts vs. Skins (4:15)
Episode 10.3: Spam and Eggs featuring Shaniac (3:16)
Episode 10.4: Karma, Villanova, and Thor (3:53)
Episode 10.5: Bustout Strategy (4:40)
Episode 10.6: Better Luck Next Time (4:58)

* * * * *


Coming Soon... Lost Vegas appeared on April 1st. All you fools thought it was a joke. Bleh.

Here is when I introduced the masses to Guess Her Muff. Since that moment, I'm up several hundred dollars wagering on the daily pictures on that website. When in doubt, go shaved.

I played PLO SCOOP on PokerStars and wrote about it... The Philistine Liberation Orchestra.

While I was still in Las Vegas, I went bowling with Michalski where we recorded another episode of Tao of Pokerati...
Episode 10.7: Bowling for Dollars
You Can't Change What's Already Happened is how I was sitting on a 7K score in Vegas yet had one night more to go. What could possible go wrong at the tables?

I landed a deal with a French publisher and Benjo got tapped to translate Lost Vegas en francais.

I had a haiku binge...
Poker Haiku Vol. 1: Razz
Poker Haiku Vol. 2: PLO
My friends the Poker Shrink and Amy Claistri sent me an advance copy of their Mike Matusow book. I wrote a review of Check-Raising the Devil: The Mike Matusow Autobiography.

I went to Argentina on a work assignment and covered the LAPT with Mean Gene, Joe Giron, Change100, and Otis. Fun times. Lots of hot models. Heavily armored cops. Oh, and there was the bar fight. I wrote a three part series aptly titled... The Vicodin Diaries.
The Vicodin Diaries, Vol. 1: Prayers
The Vicodin Diaries, Vol. 2: It's a Tough Job, But Someone's Gotta Do It
The Vicodin Diaries Vol. 3: Stray Dogs, One-Armed Bums, Paint Huffers, and Bar Fights
I also recorded a couple of episodes of Tao of Pokerati...
Episode 11.1: South American Models... Pauly and special guest MeanGene discuss 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.
Lest we forget Otis and the nipple?

When I was in Argentina, I got word that my colleague Justin Shronk passed away. I wrote a tribute titled... R.I.P. Shronk. And yes, you can see his infamous Vegemite prop bet video in that post.

I made my first appearance on The Poker Beat.

21 Dead Horses is something I have no idea why I wrote it.

And I ended the month with Placemat Superpanchos, Pig Profiteers, Iron Man IX, and PLO Malaise, which was a potpourri of reflections on the Swine Flu, Argentina, and online poker.

* * * *


Glass Tappers is just another rant about enduring bad beats at the virtual tables.

With the WSOP approaching, I announced my plans to unleash the Tao of Poker All Stars onto the scene. Yes, afew of my talented friends agreed to write guest posts on the Tao mainly during my days off.

WSOP Food is a good read even if you're not going to the WSOP.

Pusherman Reprise is another take on the Pusherman angle and the underbelly of drugs in Las Vegas.

Beef Jerky and the WSOP is where I lampooned the latest sponsor.

Atlanta: Where It All Began
is a flashback post where I wrote about my home game during college.

I made another cameo on The Poker Beat.

Tao's 2009 WSOP Bracelet Picks. So much potential.

And I finally arrived in Las Vegas for the 2009 WSOP. I wrote exclusively for the Tao of Poker. Here's the coverage...
2009 WSOP Day 1: No Respect
2009 WSOP Day 2: It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times
2009 WSOP Day 3: The Valley of Ashes
2009 WSOP Day 4: Nostrum Donkulus
* * * * *

Stay tuned for Part 2 and a recap of June through December.

And if you like what you read, I encourage you to vote Tao of Poker for Best Poker Blog in Bluff's Readers Choice Awards. Thanks for your support.

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

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

By Pauly
New York City

35 years ago today

* * * * *

Here's a Christmas tradition where I suggest you read Auggie Wren's Christmas Story written by Paul Auster, which is one of my favorite short stories written by one of my favorite NYC authors.

Enjoy and have a Merry Christmas.

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

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Life Wagering: Planes, Pac-Man, Sportsbooks, Top Chef, and Parking Meters

By Pauly
New York City

Even though I might not be playing poker, I'm making decisions every day and employing some tenets of poker strategy. The rest of the time, I find myself in gambling situations, assessing risk and calculating odds in every day situations. Sometimes, I'm just degening it up.

A few random examples...

* * * * *

Day before Thanksgiving. Long Beach Airport. My flight to New York City was delayed and I chatted up a guy who proclaimed, "I hate people" after a rich-bitch nearly ran him over rushing to the gate, "Whatever happened to 'Excuse me' or 'I'm sorry?'" he bemoaned. That's when he uttered, "I hate people." I figured, this is the one guy on my flight I want to talk to. So we bullshitted about the downfall of modern civilization while we waited for our flight to finally board and we both prayed that the wailing baby at the gate would not be seated next to us.

"Hey, you play poker, what are my odds that I get stuck next to the baby?" he asked.

"Well, there's 27 rows on an Airbus with 6 seats across. That's 1 in 162 chance you will random be seated next to the baby. However, you have to take into account the screaming radius, which I estimate as three or four rows give or take. So that makes it 1 in 6 or 7 that you're seated in a danger zone. Roughly 15 to 18% that you're fucked."

He was amazed that I was able to spit out those numbers. I was amazed that I think in that way. Luckily, I was away from the baby and seated near the front of the plane -- part of my strategy so I could be one of the first passengers off the plane at JFK so I could sprint to the taxi stand and beat the rush.

* * * * *

Winter storm pummeled the Mid-Atlantic states last weekend. I was schedule to fly on the Saturday night redeye out of LAX and scheduled to land at New York City around 6am. The snow was supposed to stop sometime in the middle of the night. Would the JFK runways be plowed by then or would my flight be canceled? On Friday night I made the snap decision to re-book my flight. I was worried about the snow so I took a proactive approach. The earliest flight I could get was 48 hours later and I booked that flight. 12 hours before my original flight was scheduled to take off -- JetBlue canceled that flight along with the next two days of flights. Had I waited, I would have been scrambling with 200 other fools on mega-travel-tilt. I sucked out and got a seat on the first possible flight out of JFK.

* * * * *

Degening it up sports betting again. I had a couple of bucks left in one of my online accounts. I wanted to see if I could pull off a Jesus-like resurrection and run up my roll in time for the NFL playoffs.

On Sunday, one NBA game caught my eye. The Cavs limped into Dallas who were Dirk-less and a +3 home dog. I love home dogs so I bet Dallas and the moneyline. It hit at +165.

I pressed that win on the Monday night football game. The Giants seemed too good to be true at -3. They blew out the Redskins and I was off to a hot start.

Never bet on a game that you can't sweat. I scrambled to find the Fordham/Jams Madison game on the radio. I had James Madison -12. They were getting blown out at home by a crappy team. They trailed by double digits at half time. With 7 minutes to go, they held a 2 point lead then went on a run. They were up by 14 with under 10 seconds to go, but a missed free throw and a last second layup fucked me. James Madison won by 12. Push. Fuck me. At least I got my money back.

Sometimes lines jump right off the screen. I was going to type "page" but I don't look for lines in the newspapers anymore like I used to when I was a kid. I saw the -6.5 line in the UNLV/Hawaii game. Sure it's in Hawaii, but the Runnin Rebs have a Sweet 16 caliber team this year. They're even ranked in the top 20 and should have been a double digit favorite in that game. I let it ride on UNLV. The game was on ESPN2. I passed out watching it and missed the 24 point victory. I was 3-0-1 since Sunday.

* * * * *

Change100 posted a 29K score on Pac-Man after a couple of games. I told her that I could beat that in one game using her laptop. Turns out her laptop keys are much different from mine and I posted a horrible showing. Double or nothing. I whiffed again but finally adjusted to her keyboard. Doubled up again and won this time posting 59K. I offered her 3-1 if she could beat that milestone -- but she never came close. I won that battle.

Of course after sprinting out to a huge lead, I lost in our Top Chef fantasy pool. I was at a disadvantage going into the final. I had Kevin and Change100 had both Voltaggio brothers - who finished 1-2 while my guy choked and fizzled out in third. Looks like I owe her a meal at any restaurant where any former Top Chef contestant currently works.

* * * * *

The parking meters in the slums of Beverly Hills start at 8am daily. My breakfalst ran a little long at the coffeeshop. The time was 7:57. I looked at how much food I had left on my plate. I glanced at the copy of the LA Weekly that I was reading. I had about 8-10 minutes left and decided to risk the ticket and kept eating. Three minutes later, I saw a group of motorcycle cops get ready to leave from the back booth. I told the waiter that I needed to feed the meter and sprinted outside. It was 8:02 and I drove the car forward one spot to a "failed meter" (that was originally taken) to save 25 cents. I enjoyed the rest of my meal.

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

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

More Islidur1 Drama

By Pauly
New York City

Before we begin, go read the latest article from Matt Parvis titled... Isildur1 Speaks.

The Editor of PokerNews landed an exclusive interview with the Swedish online apparition otherwise known as Isildur1. They had some incendiary things to say about Brian Hastings, Full Tilt, and Isildur1 getting fleeced for $4 million because Hastings did his homework and assembled a 50,000 hand database of hand histories in matches between Isildur1 versus some of his friends.

My two cents?

Full Tilt was gifted a huge headache of a Christmas present. It's obviously in their best interest to keep Isildur1 playing on Full Tilt and now they are forced to reprimand Hastings and his cronies. The publicity blitz in the poker media surrounding Isildur1's epic rise to fame was significantly greater than the snoozer otherwise known as the "durrrr Challenge". Shit if you were lurking on the rail then you know that durrrr's matches against Isildur1 were some of the most entertaining online action to watch in recent memory... even more so than his matches against Antonius.

Brian Hastings is an idiot. I don't know the guy at all and that sentence might come off as harsh, but the next time I cross paths with the guy I'll say the same thing. "You're an idiot for exposing yourself. You should have kept your mouth shut."

Which brings me to the next point... remember that scene in Goodfellas when young Henry Hill gets pinched for the first time and he thought all the mobsters were pissed at him? But then he found out they were proud because he took his lumps like a man?
Jimmy Conway: A graduation present. (stuffs bills into Henry's pocket)

Young Henry: Why? I got pinched.

Jimmy Conway: Everyone does. You did it right. You told them nothing.

Young Henry: I thought you'd be mad.

Jimmy Conway: I'm not mad, I'm proud of you. You took your first pinch like a man, and learned the two greatest things in life. Look at me. Never rat on your friends... and always keep your mouth shut.
Heck watch the scene here...

About the dirty business of data mining... I used to do it back in the day before Full Tilt banned the practice. My opponents were keeping tabs on me and vice versa. That practice falls on the murky side of online poker.

Of course, here's where I call Brian Hastings a genius. Hastings and his buddies discussed and shared information on how to play Isildur1. I'm sure (no proof, just me talking smack) that Martonas and Isildur1 engaged in lengthy discussions about IKEA, snow, and how to beat the Card Runners guys and durrrr in their native Swedish tongue. If they weren't, then they were foolish. Hastings was much more organized which is why he siphoned off $4 million from Isildur1.

Will Isildur1 get his money back? Who knows. I don't think he should. What's done is done. Let Hastings keep the money. In the end, Hastings still beat the unknown Scandi.

But this situation definitely tarnishes any future high stakes matches. Anytime someone takes down a big score, everyone will wonder if there were shenanigans involved. That's why Hastings should have kept his mouth shut. I know, I know... it's important to maintain the integrity of the game blah blah blah. But in the immortal words of Joey Knish, "Maybe this is a game that can be beat."

* * * * *

Update #1:

Read the continuation of Parvis' Isildur1 interview.

Also check out Change100's astute Hand History Analysis op/ed.

* * * * *

Update #2:

I'm back in NYC in my old neighborhood in the Bronx. I ran into Vinny the Barber and he gave me a haircut. We spoke about a variety of topics from Tiger Woods to the international date line to the time he told me he ran 32 miles in a single day. He asked me what kind of poker stories I was writing about. I mentioned something about a potential cheating situation.

"You know about that guy they caught cheating at a poker game on Arthur Avenue?"

"No, when? What happened?"

"This was a couple of years ago. They caught him and chopped off his hand. With an axe."

"What did they do with the hand? Toss it in the East River?"

"Fuck should I know? Probably fed it to the dogs."

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

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

LLT: The Christmas Edition

By Pauly
New York City

Here's an early Christmas present...

Oh, and a Merry Christmas to Liz Lieu! Stop by her blog for more titillating photos.

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

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Link Dump: Betting on Tiger's Divorce, Aria & the City Center Opening, and Poker Books

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Well it's the start of the holiday week. Here's something to kill some time while you count down the days to your Christmas vacation...
Those Irish bookies will set a line on anything, because those binge-drinking punters in the UK will bet on anything. If you don't know, the lines have been set for... Tiger Woods divorce settlement odds. You can also wager on which sponsor will drop Tiger next. (Business Insider)

New episodes of the Gambling Tales Podcast are up featuring special guests Lee Jones and David Schwartz. (Gambling Tales)

Interesting video about the true identity of Isildur1 and other speculation from the Vegas pros. (Raw Vegas via Wicked Chops Poker)

Parts of the gaudy monstrosity known as the City Center opened up last week. Flipchip snapped plenty of pics. Check out his stunning Aria pics and the Aria poker room pics. (LasVegasVegas)

Vegas Rex didn't have too many nice things to say about the brand new City Center. (Casino Guide)

Ban Antonius and Ivey? That's what one friend thinks should happen to the biggest of the big dogs at the online poker tables. (Bill's Poker Blog)

The boys at Poker2Nite are getting better with each episode. Watch the archived episodes here. (Poker2Nite/UB)

My final Sunday column of the year has been published over at Poker News. The topic this time? Books. Not just poker books, but other influential books as well. Check out... Top 10 Influential Poker Books (Poker News)
OK, that's it for now. Don't forget to vote for Tao of Poker over at the Bluff's Reader Choice Awards.

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

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Last Chance Satellites to the 2010 PCA

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Do you dream about waking up on a remote island and then taking a long walk on the beach to start your day? Well, if you run good at PokerStars, then that dream can become a reality.

The first major event of the 2010 tournament circuit is the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure at Atlantis on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. The PCA will be expanded to 50 events this year. Yeah, the islands will become poker's Mecca for two weeks in January when the PokerStars PCA kicks off on January 4th.

The PCA is a also stop on the EPT and the LAPT tours as the best players from Europe and Latin America clash, not to mention a highly popular destination for up and coming online Americans (pros under age of 21) who are making their live poker debut.

The 2010 tropical bonanza with include 50 poker tournaments in addition to cash games. Time is ticking. Here's one of your last chances to win a seat into the Main Event and enjoy some fun in the fun. Satellites are running 24 hours a day on PokerStars for as little as $1 along. The rebuy sats to the $700 qualifiers are your best value. Or, you can take a shot at the $109 rebuy.

There are also FPP sats so if you have a bunch of FPPs lying around and you don't want to use them on poker-themed clothing or books, then burn your FPPs by play PCA satellites.

A Ladies Event was added to the PCA this year. PokerStars is also running satellites for the Ladies Event. Don't miss out.

Here's the schedule of events...
2010 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure:
$1,060 + $40 Super Satellite to Main Event 4-Jan 18:00
$200 + $20 Nightly NL Turbo - 4-Jan 20:00
$10,000 + $300 Main Event (6 Day Event) - 5-Jan 12:00
$200 + $20 Unlimited Re Buys Super Satellite to Main Day 1B - 5-Jan 14:00
$530 + $20 1 Re Buy Super Satellite to Main Day 1B - 5-Jan 20:00
$200 + $20 Nightly PLO Turbo - 5-Jan 20:00
$500 + $50 PLO Freezeout - 6-Jan 14:00
$500 + $50 Badugi / 2-7 Mix - 6-Jan 16:00
$550 + $50 Step 1 to Step 2 High Roller Super Sat - 6-Jan 20:00
$200 + $20 Nightly PLO8 Turbo - 6-Jan 20:00
$1,000 + $100 NL Freezeout - 6 Max - 7-Jan 14:00
$5,000 + $250 8 Game Championship (3 Day Event) - 7-Jan 20:00
$550 + $50 Step 1 to Step 2 High Roller Super Sat - 7-Jan 20:00
$200 + $20 Nightly NL Turbo - 7-Jan 20:00
$2,000 + $150 Battleship - Multi Multi Tabling Championships - 8-Jan 12:00
$5,000 + $250 PS Heads Up Challenge (2 Day Event) - 8-Jan 13:00
$2,000 + $150 PLH/PLO Tag Team Mix - 8-Jan 14:00
$5,000 + $250 PokerStars Charity Event - 8-Jan 18:00
$1,000 + $100 NL Freezeout - 8-Jan 18:00
$110 + $10 Super Sat to 1K Ladies ONLY NL - 8-Jan 20:00
$200 + $20 Nightly PLO Turbo - 8-Jan 20:00
$1,000 + $100 Battleship - Multi Heads Up Challenge (64 Cap) - 9-Jan 12:00
$5,000 + $250 PLO Championships - 8 Max (3 Day Event) - 9-Jan 12:00
$1,000 + $100 Ladies ONLY NL Freezeout - 9-Jan 13:00
$1,500 + $100 NL Freezeout - 9-Jan 16:00
$2,000 + $150 PLO Live Heads Up (2 Day Event) - 10-Jan 12:00
$1,000 + $100 NL Live Heads (2 Day Event) - 10-Jan 14:00
$1,000 + $100 PLO - 6 Max - 10-Jan 14:00
$5,000 + $250 NL Freezeout - 10-Jan 16:00
$300 + $30 Ladies ONLY NL Freezeout - 10-Jan 17:00
$2,700 + $200 Step 2 Super Sat to $25,000 High Roller - 10-Jan 19:00
$500 + $50 8 Game (2 Day Event) - 10-Jan 20:00
$200 + $20 Nightly NL Turbo - 10-Jan 20:00
$2,000 + $150 Battleship Main Event - 11-Jan 12:00
$500 + $100 + $50 PokerStars Bounty Hunter - 11-Jan 12:00
$1,000 + $100 Limit - 6 Max - 11-Jan 12:00
$500 + $50 PLO 8 or Better - 11-Jan 12:00
N/A World Cup of Poker (3 Day Event) - 11-Jan 13:00
$25,000 + $500 High Roller - 8 Max (4 Day Event) - 11-Jan 16:00
$200 + $20 Unl. Re Buys to SCOOP Main Event - 11-Jan 17:00
$500 + $50 Pot Limit 5 Card Draw High - 12-Jan 12:00
$1,000 + $100 NL Freezeout - 12-Jan 16:00
$200 + 20 Nightly NL Turbo - 12-Jan 20:00
$1,000 + $100 Triple Stud (Razz, Stud, Stud 8) - 13-Jan 12:00
$5,000 + $250 NL Freezeout 6 Max - 13-Jan 14:00
$500 + $50 NL Freezeout 6 Max - 13-Jan 16:00
$200 + 20 Nightly NL Turbo - 13-Jan 20:00
$500 + $50 NL Shootout - 14-Jan 12:00
$500 + $50 PLO Shootout - 14-Jan 14:00
Click here to Download PokerStars to play in PCA events.

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

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Proehl Wins Week 13 and Expensive Wino Wins Week 14 of Sundays with Dr. Pauly

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Sorry for the missed update last weekend! Congrats to Proehl for taking down Week 13 and congrats to Expensive Wino for dominating and winning Week 14 of Sundays with Dr. Pauly over at Fantasy Sports Live. Going into the last week of Series 3, Expensive Wino is out in front with a 90+ point lead. It's his to lose!

Click here for Week 13 results and updated standings.

Click here for Week 14 results and updated standings.

Click here for more details, rules, and payout information.

Best of luck everyone in Week 15 and the final Series. 32 of you have won seats to the TOC next week. Who will snag a seat this week?

If you don't have a Fantasy Sports Live account, you can sign up for one here.

And don't forget to check out Buffalo66's guide has been an excellent tool for football, hockey and pro hoops as well.

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

Friday, December 18, 2009

Last Minute Pokery Christmas Gifts

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Lazy? Here's your chance to save face with loved ones whom you forgot to buy a Christmas gift. Yes, the special day is a week away so it's time to unfurl your bankroll and fund a little holiday cheer.

I'm an avid reader so I always recommend books to give away as Christmas gifts or stocking stuffers. Here's a few recommendations...

1. The Godfather of Poker: The Doyle Brunson Story by Doyle Brunson

2. Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker by Jim McManus

3. For Richer, For Poorer: A Love Affair with Poker by Vicky Coren

4. Check-Raising the Devil by Mike Matusow, Amy Calistri & Dr. Tim Lavalli

5. The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King: Inside the Richest Poker Game of All Time by Michael Craig

And some non-poker books. I dunno if you noticed, but three friends (Wheaton, Hartness, and Harris) recently published non-poker books. Please support their diligent efforts...

1. Memories of the Future by Wil Wheaton

2. Same Difference by Martin Harris

3. Returning the Favor and Other Slices of Life by John Hartness

4. Phish: The Biography

5. McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld by Mischa Glenny

Happy Holidays!

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

Thursday, December 17, 2009

WPBT Vegas Part III: Sunday Sunday

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

I called the IP security twice during the trip. I've been going to Vegas for well over 15 years and I had never once had a reason, nor an urge to call down to security. It's Vegas. Implied insanity. Tourists are going to fuck loudly, get obnoxiously drunk, party like rockstars in the rooms, and smoke dope in the hallways. That aberrant behavior is expected in Sin City. Yet this trip, I found myself on the end of the phone trying to explain myself in the most sober and concise way.

The first incident occurred on Wednesday night. Some fuckers in the IP were doing construction... within earshot. It wasn't until I complained when the scraping and banging noises stopped. It sounded like someone was sandblasting or sanding the walls in an adjacent room. I had not ingested psychedelics in weeks so I knew that I was not having auditory hallucinations. I believe in ghosts but even the most peeved apparition would not be causing a ruckus that loud. If it was a guest let off steam, then I'd accept it. If it was the casino? What the fuck were they thinking?

The second time I called security? Sunday night. 7:15pm to be exact. It wasn't even my idea...

* * * * *

I banged on AlCantHang's door at 8:45am on Sunday. I kept banging like a banshee but he didn't answer. While I stood helplessly in the hallway, I caught a young woman admidst the walk of shame. She attempted to tip-toe out of an IP room while barefoot as she held her pumps in one hand and gently closed the door with the other. We shared the elevator as she avoided eye contact. Her with breath smelled like cheap vodka and cock.

I stood in line at Starbucks and waited for iced tea to wash down the Percs. Opiates are the breakfast of champions. Derek and I discussed our bets as we walked over to the Palazzo and Emeril Lagasse's Stadium.

Lagasse's Stadium = sports bar + fine dining + sports betting

CJ and AlCantHang selected a swanky spot to enjoy the Sunday games. It some ways, it was too nice for our group. Many moons ago we used to invade the sports book at Mandalay Bay. No formal plans... just show up. Sometimes we clogged up the walkways and shouted obscenities at the big screen. A few years ago, we went slumming at the karaoke bar upstairs at the IP which aired the football games. This year? CJ custied out and arranged a private room at the Palazzo. Originally we were booked into a smaller suite but the powers to be upgraded us to one that was worth 3x the price. The result? Four TVs, a pool table, and an arcade game with Galaga, Pac Man and Mrs. Pac Man. All we had to do was spend $1,500 in drinks and food.

When we arrived around 9:15am, CJ and Drizz were filling out their parlay cards. Obie had full command of the entire sound/TV system, as Special K and StB milled around. That's when Dawn Summers walked into the room sporting a Tom Brady jersey and a New England Patriots winter hat.

"Dawn, you have to leave. It's not because you're black. It's because you're a Pats fan."

She thought it was so funny, that she tweet'd my joke. But... I wasn't joking.

Waffles hovered around the arcade game mastering Galaga -- something he would do most of the afternoon. Before Derek and I could sit down, we badgered Waffles about his picks. There's an old saying... "Fade the Mush."

Waffles = the Mush

Waffles printed out a spreadsheet of his picks. But not just his picks... both of his kids, his wife, and his au pair. That's right. Waffles has an au pair, which is just a fancy high-brow word for "nanny". And she knows her football. Usually I fade Waffles picks, but I found myself drawn to his au pair's selections.

"Where is she from?" I wondered. If he mentioned anywhere in the Nordic countries, I would have been instantly wary.

"Argentina. Or Venezuela?" said a confused Waffles.

"Which one? Believe it or not, it's very important."

"Veneztina. No wait. Argenzula."

I was already screwed with one pick. Derek and I had already bet the Bengals. Nothing big, just a small bet for sentimental reasons (we have a history with the Bengals and WPBT weekends. During the Patriots heyday in 2004, they were matched up against the lowly Bengals as an 11.5 favorite. The Bengals lost their QB early on yet they fought back and faked a punt to score a TD. They didn't win, but kept the game close. We won our bet and ever since, we always bet the Bengals on WPBT Sunday).

Once we saw that Waffles had bet the Bengals, we knew that pick was doomed. Derek was ready to tear his ticket up on the spot. The Waffles curse. It was the only bet that I lost all day. It killed Derek's potentially perfect card. I wish I had known that Waffles' au pair was betting against us with Minnesota. I would have jumped on her bandwagon.

"What else did Waffles' fuckin' maid pick?" asked Derek.

"Does she play the futures market?" I wondered.

Have things gotten so bad that I'm seeking sports betting and financial advice from South American nannies? Argentinians know their football. Their fans are so passionate that they hijack buses if they are running late to games. In America, our fans are fat guys with painted faces eating brats and drinking watered-down beer. Down there, their fans shank their fellow fans for not singing the fight song correctly.

Obie tried to shark me at the pool table. I found out that his old man owned a pool hall back in Baltimore. Special K also had deft pool skills. He wanted to play by a certain set of official rules. I had no idea those existed. I was used to playing in bars on shitty ass tables. Wait, there are rules? I got smoked by Obie and Special K. I managed to win a game against Katkin and I beat the ultra-competitive LJ before my winning streak was snapped by Gus.

I really wanted to take on someone at Pac Man. I had stumbled upon an internet version of the game a few months ago and honed my skills during those insomnia-riddled nights. I even found a website that displayed the "maps" and I had a cheat sheet. The only one who took me on was Michalski. He had no idea what he was up against and I easily won.

The spots betting was fun for me... because I won and didn't pull out the last strands of hair on my head while sweating the action. I only bet a handful of games but had more of a keen interest on the outcome of my fantasy football players. I was trailing my brother's team in one of our leagues, while I had plenty of other match ups to keep an eye on.

I sat in the corner with my brother, Gretchen, Garth, and Blinders. We watched the Jets game and were giddy at the results. We also ate Emeril's food during the morning game. BBQ Pulled Pork was savory. Derek went for the crab cakes and the sausage Stromboli with a creole mustard sauce. I chatted about Top Chef in between plays. (Side note: Garth's poker blog has morphed into a culinary blog including recaps of Top Chef. Garth and Daddy inspired Change100 and myself to play a heads-up Top Chef Fantasy Pool. The final show was on Wednesday -- which we had missed -- but Change100 knew the outcome already since she knew someone who worked on the show. I had Kevin for the win, but she had BOTH Voltaggio brothers.)

In between discussion of new American cuinse, Garth could be heard screeching at the referee, "It's a catch, you fuckin' cunt!"

Just two years ago, Garth won my football pool for a nice score. I reclaimed the title from Australia last year when I won my own pool, but this year, Lance (my editor at Bluff) is running away with it. However, Garth's ladyfriend Gretchen is well within striking distance. After a while, Derek and I were quizzing her on her picks. We should have picked the Bills. She and Garth bet them big and won. Gretchen knows her pro football.

The suite filled up by noon. Buckets of beer were flowing. Every couch space had been filled up. Bloggers were hanging on almost every single play. CJ and Drizz were doing the "in game betting" while the video game geeks hung out with Waffles at the arcade game.

Derek and I each hit big bets with Green Bay. I also won a big bet with San Diego over the Cowgirls.

I had several random and quick conversations about random topics in the Palazzo suite... the consolidating newspaper business with PokerPeaker... Dr. Chako explained about he met his lovely wife -- at a pool table in a fraternity house... Kat gave me a book recommendation (Government Jane? Please refresh my memory. Kat! The Modelos, Percs, and Pineapple Express were clouding my brain)... I chatted about Williamsburg with one of April's friends... lighting rigs and Falstaff... pizzas with Yestbay... and Lightning36 and I had a dissertation of the sexual preference of Troy Aikman.

At one point, a baker's dozen of us were led into the bathroom by Mrs. Chako for a group photo. The bathroom was enormous and had a mirrored ceiling. We wanted to see how many we could actually fit.

It had been a while since I was inside a bathroom with that many people where there was not cocaine involved.

* * * * *

I left for an hour or so to have a quick bite with Flipchip and the Poker Prof at the Venetian. They gave me a book for Christmas and we chatted about the City Center project and wondered if there will ever be a 10th anniversary of the WPBT. At this rate, it keeps going... and going...

When I returned to the suite at Lagasse's Stadium, AlCantHang was still a no show. The Sunday night game was in full swing and it was not like Al to miss an Eagles game. Where was he? He had not responded to calls or texts all day. He was absent from Twitter. Iggy was the last person to see him around 2am on Saturday (er Sunday morning) after he put him in the elevator. I was supposed to go to the Palazzo with Al and Derek, but Al never answered his door. He got banged up pretty good on Saturday night after his second place victory in the Holiday Classic. So much so, that he missed his wake up call.

I assumed Al was sleeping it off. But some of our friends were worried. Deeply concerned. Rolled by a hooker? Choked on his own vomit? I offered up my services to "get to the bottom" of Al's disappearance since I had plenty of experience dealing with wasted souls. I walked back to the IP past the porn slappers and the moderate trickle of tourists. When I arrived at the IP, I used a house phone to call Al's room. No answer. Voicemail picked up on the third ring. I called again. Same result. I banged on his door for six minutes straight. No answer. That's when I picked up the phone and called security.

"My buddy had a little too much to drink."

"Noooooooooooo! Really?"

Wow. The security guy was being super sarcastic. I'm sure this was his 25th call of the day.

"We're worried about him. He missed breakfast. The first football game. The second football game. And now he's AWOL for the Philadelphia Eagles game. That's why we're worried. He's an Eagles fan and would never miss that big of a game."

"I'll send someone up for a wellfare check," security said.

So that's what they call it when you pass out and haven't been heard from in a while. Security guards in Vegas must do those "checks" a hundred times a day after frantic housewives call security in hysterics because their husbands have not called home in days. I'm sure 99% of the time, the lost people were simply passed out in their clothes on the bed or curled up in the fetal position on the bathroom floor clutching the toilet with vomit caked on the sides of their mouths.

But it's that 1% that concerns security and that's why they'll perform a "welfare check" to make sure someone isn't face-down/ass-up dead after falling off the shitter. That's how they found Elvis at Graceland.

I stood in the hallway in front of Al's room waiting for the security to arrive. I had pulled out a $20 bill and was ready to tip them when the door opened. It was Al. He was alive.

"Security just called," Al said.

"Well thank God they woke you up. You were AWOL for 17 hours. I knew that you were OK, but some of our friends... they were... well... they... you know... they thought you might have died."

Awkward silence.

"Or maybe rolled by a hooker," I said to lighten the grave mood.

I followed Al into his room. I saw a stack of black chips and a ball of hundreds on his night stand. His cash was in tact. You can cross "rolled by a hooker" off the list.

"Looks like I ordered a pizza last night," Al said as he pointed to an open box with a full pepperoni pie sans one slice.

"And you never finished your Heineken," I said as I pointed to a 95% full green bottle. "How wasted were you?"

"Drunk enough that I was drinking Heineken," Al said as he checked his iPhone. "Holy shit. 600 messages?"

* * * * *

This year's trip was downsized because of the economy. The negative aspect is less people, but the positive aspect is more quality time. I felt as though I was able to carry on longer conversations with a larger number of people over four or five days. I also felt a lot less pressure this year. I won't get into the specific details, but there's a heightened level of anxiety that looms large on these trips. I struggle immensely with trying to juggle so many friends (both new and old) that it's always a losing battle.

On Sunday evening, only four of us were left standing at the Geisha Bar. Myself. Derek. Iggy. Joe Speaker. Those are some of my favorite people in the world and I'm glad we had a couple of hours to shoot the shit about life, the transformation of ourselves over the last half-decade, the cycles of the WPBT, and the impact of social media upon the world. Shit, we could have had a couple of TED lectures out of our discussions. I even have a book idea or two.

After six of these trips, I finally realized something on the drive back to LA. The WPBT is a family holiday squeezed in between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those mainstream holidays are for your dysfunctional blood family -- but the Vegas gathering in December is where your "real" dysfunctional family members converge from all over the country to celebrate. You. Life. Happiness. Debauchery. It really doesn't matter they "why" because the weekend is all about the "who" and in the end, that's why so many of us put our mind and bodies through utter hell.

Thanks for the memory burn.

* * * * *

My brother always writes the best Vegas trip report. Hands down. Check it out...
Derek's Holiday Classic Recap
And yes, I posted a gallery of photos...
WPBT Vegas 2009 Photos
Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

WPBT Vegas Part II: Friday Night Amateurs and Astin Wins the 6th Annual WPBT Holiday Classic

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I missed out on the incendiary Table #16 at the MGM poker room and followed the play-by-play via Twitter. After a fantastic dinner at Emeril's (with Derek, Kat, Maudie, and Change100), I arrived at the MGM poker room much too late to join in on the hijinks, but then again I would have lost my shirt playing chicken with those kamikaze dive bombers.

The MGM never saw the storm coming. Railbirds stood three and four deep to glimpse the insanity. The bloggers at Table #16 caused a ruckus led by The Mark's astute chip arrangement after being chastised for playing with a filthy stack. Just when things were heating up, Table #16 vanished into thin air when majority of the players headed to a Steel Panther concert at Green Valley Ranch. The rest of Table #16 integrated themselves at the mixed games.

I took up my usual spot at the sports book bar and chatted with friends when I got wind of the Rooster's ejection from the poker room after he went ballistic ensuing a bad beat. The cagey Rooster snuck out of the MGM before security hauled him off into the back room and broke his kneecaps. It's not easy to get bounced from a poker room these days especially in this troubled economy, but the Rooster managed to put himself in early contention for the Lewey Award, a distinction that lampoons excessive binge drinking at a blogger-related event.

Over at the the bar, Waffles held court with Jordan and I in wonderment as he graphically detailed his (few) sexual conquests. Some of Waffles' statements are simply not blog worthy. It was like if Pee Wee Herman met Charles Bukowski at a Sexaholics Anonymous meeting. I do not want Waffles incarcerated at Gitmo for his outlandish and freakish sexually deviant behavior, which will happen if I reveal some of his misogynist rants including a harangue on the downside of bad fellatio where his partner (presumably a non-paid romp) used way too much teeth.

The icing on the cake was Waffles boasting about his proclivity to arouse women.

"I'm really bad at poker, but I'm good at making women scream..."

"Yeah," said Jordan. "They're screaming 'HELP! Police!!'"

After we cut him off with the sex chat, an inebriated Waffles waxed poetically about his many online enemies. It was as though he was channeling Winston Churchill when he uttered, "I am the truth... that's why everyone hates me."

"At least you didn't fire bomb Dresden," I remarked.

We eventually fled the MGM. On weekends, the casino becomes a hub for douchebags as the hills of Hollywood empties out and scensters flood the Strip, while extras from The Jersey Shore are chasing the muff around and cold-cock women with too much hairspray. Where did all the cowboys go and why where they replaced with Ed Hardy-clad muscleheads?

We returned to the Imperial Palace of Inbred Peasants as a fattened version of Garth Brooks belted out songs for the hootin n' hollerin cowboys. Within an hour, Waffles was passed out at the Geisha Bar. The edge of the bar is padded and he rested comfortably. If we were on Phish tour, my friends would have issued Waffles a "Wook Ticket" for his uncouth behavior. Waffles was lucky that the security guards were more concerned with keeping the Geisha Bar hooker-free otherwise they'd whisk him away in a wheelchair and dump his limp body on Koval... where he'd be stripped naked and rolled by whichever saw him first; love-struck teenage vampires, pock-faced tweakers, and the CHUDs (cannibalistic underground humanoid dwellers).

My spies inside Green Valley Ranch told me about the continued downfall of the Rooster. He was 86d from a second casino within hours of each other. Wow. Bounced from a Strip casino and a locals casino in the same night. Obviously he didn't read Rule #34... "Don't be a dick." That pretty much locked up the Lewey Award... and it was still Friday.

Iggy continued his losing streak at Roshambo when the IP bartender beat him yet again. I headed out to the pits to scratch my Pai Gow jones. I found a fun dealer who let me do my thing and did not pester me about the Fortune Bonus. After getting cold-decked, I finally woke up to a hand.... trip fours and a middle-Ace up top. I usually almost always forget my Pai Gow hand after I set it. I cannot explain that phenomenon considering I'm diligent about memorizing my regular poker hands but constantly forgetting Pai Gow hands. "Set it and forget it," as Otis would say. But I remembered that hand. I had trips and A-9. I locked up a win yet I told the dealer that I couldn't beat her pair of Queens and a baby Ace. She was surprised when she turned over my hand. I outkicked her on the top and destroyed her on the bottom.

I slow-rolled her and expected a brick wall of karma to fall on me.

* * * * *

In previous years I stay up all night on Friday and roll into the tournament with no to little sleep. That all began the first trip when the Sherwood Forrest Bar sucked us in. Everyone had arrived that day or evening and since everyone was meeting each other for the first time -- no one wanted to leave. A couple of years ago, Bad Blood, Grubby, and I embarked on the first ever Las Vegas version of The Procedure -- booze, strippers, and poker -- in that order. During my first Procedure... a stripper squirted on Grubby's chest, an anonymous blogger shoved his thumb up a stripper's ass, and Bad Blood told his girl that he was a hot air balloon pilot.

I wanted to play better in the 6th Annual Holiday Classic. In previous years, I went deep a couple of times but ran out of gas due to a wicked hangover and sheer exhaustion. I essentially was giving my money away. We had a team element to this event which I felt gave me a slight edge since I previously played in three Dream Team Poker related events. Hey, after all I was the reigning Dream Team Poker champion (along with Michalski and LJ for the Tao of Pokerati. I spent my cut of the team winnings on self-publishing Lost Vegas and blew the rest on Phish tour).

My team this year... Tao of Pot... included Derek and Change100. I felt strongly about our chances after a strategy-planning session during our team breakfast meeting at the Hash House (which replaced that diarrhea-inducing-24hr-dive formerly known as the Teahouse). The brand new Hash House did not serve the kind of hash that they would in Amsterdam.

I popped a Perc before we sat down to play to ward off the back pain away but refrained on any pre-game boozing. I love the tournament room at Caesar's Palace. It's the perfect area to contain our rambunctious crew -- sort of like the game room at a mental institution. However, our gang was smaller this year and a lot less inebriated. The pinnacle of craziness was the 2005 Holiday Classic at the IP when they gave us an OPEN BAR. Talk about getting shitfaced before cards went in the air.

The 6th Annual Holiday Classic had 86 runners. I think the buy-in was $70 + $30. The top 9 were paid and first place collected $2,400. Otis' connections at PokerStars got the bloggers an added $2,000 to CJ's team last longer pool. The top 3 teams would win prize money. Tao of Pot had their eye on that juiced-up side pool.

Otis by far had the best bounty...

We pretty much had the same players at my table for a couple of hours until our table broke.
My starting table:

Seat 1: Astin. Did you know that Astin is Latin for "guy who wears sweaters". I find his photography fascinating. Check it out sometime.

Seat 2: Penner3. The third son of the powerful Penner clan. We battled many times online at PokerStars.

Seat 3: Melissa Hayden. Melissa was the only pro in the tournament. She's also Allen Cunningham's girlfriend. If you didn't know, she's currently 17th in All-Time Female Money Winners.

Seat 4: Marty. The quiet guy from the mean streets of St. Louis recently ended his professional Pai Gow career and currently hit up the Let It Ride tournament circuit. Marty and I are writing a book together (due out in 2010) called "Pai Gow, Excellence, and Other Life Stories."

Seat 5: Edward. He's a Canadian. Quiet guy who never talked much, but he laughed at my jokes.

Seat 6: Empty > Elissa. The 6 seat started out as a dead stack until Elissa, one of my colleagues in the poker media, got moved in when her table broke.

Seat 7: Joe Speaker. Speaker wore his soccer club's jersey... Scribes. The coach of the Scribes was LA Times sportswriter Mike Penner, Speakers' mentor and close friend who passed away after Thanksgiving. Speaker was playing in Penner's memory.

Seat 8: OhCaptain. Representing Minnesota, OhCaptain brought along an airport bottle of Wild Turkey. It's 4 years old. I know because I originally bought it at the gift shop at the IP. It was my bounty for the 2005 Holiday Classic. VinNay busted me and I signed over the bottle for him. VinNay brought it to the tournament last year and passed it onto OhCaptain when he got busted. This year, OhCaptain continued the tradition.

Seat 9: Marie. She was friends with Linda and a dead-ringer for former First Lady Nancy Reagan. I got freaked out for a second because Nancy Reagan started those staunch JUST SAY NO ads. I was sweating like a whore in church.

Seat 10: Your Hero. PKPNF calls me a "jaded vet"... fitting.
Gigli was locked up by Travis this year. He busted on a blind hand. Nice work, bro.

My teammates doubled up quickly. Change100 doubled through Carter and Derek busted two players (Drizz and Pebbles) and held Aces both times. Derek took the early chiplead while I had a lot of work cut out for me at a tough table.

I drew the ire of Melissa when I made a move on her. I opened with Ks-Js. Melissa popped me on the button. I told her, "I'm making a donk-call out of position." The flop was As-10s-rag. I check-raised (almost) all in. She folded A-K and I showed my hand.

I went heads up against Marty on two occasions. I had monsters, K-K and A-A, both times and won. I picked on Speaker a couple of times. During my big blind, he had the cutoff and position-raised a few times. I let him know right away that I was going to defend hard.

At the first break, 80 players remained. I had built my stack up to 12.8K. Shortly after the break, I lost 40% of my stack to Penner3. I opened with Qc-Jc. He called. The flop was A-K-10. I bet. He shoved. I snap-called. He tabled A-K. And yes, an Ace fell on the river. Pow.

I took out Melissa Hayden. My Jacks held against her Q-J sooted and I jumped back up to 18K. Then our table got broke with 63 players to go. I was moved another tough table... Old Joe, Astin, Blinders, Bayne, Smokkee, Garth, Obie, Iggy, and Maigrey. I had an average stack but the blinds were creeping up.

At the second break, 56 players remained. I slipped to 9K after I lost a hand to Old Joe. He limped and I raised like 5x his limp with As-Qs. He called. The flop was Q-10-9 and one spade. He checked. I bet 80% the pot. He moved all in. His hands were shaking. Did he really call a big raise with K-J or Q-10? Was he slowplaying Aces? At any rate, I knew he had a big hand so I folded. He showed me his flopped straight with K-J. Didn't matter. His physical tells were screaming that he had a monster.

When the blinds jumped up, I had to make a move. Action folded to me in the small blind. I shoved without even looking. Bayne called when he woke up to A-Q. I picked up a gutter on the turn but whiffed. I busted in 39th, but my Tao of Pot teammates were still alive.

At that point, I hung out at the sportsbook with Joe Speaker's lady friend, E. Speaker knew she was a cooler so she kept her distance and bet on the ponies. She was on a streak and even saw Pete Rose lingering around. When Derek busted in 26th place (taken out by Change100), we watched the Heisman ceremony before we returned to sweat the final two tables. CJ told us that we had a shot at making the money for the team last longer. Change100 bubbled off the final table in 11th place. She missed the money but secured us third place for the team category. At least we won 50% of our buy-in back. Thanks again to CJ for running the pool and thanks to Otis for securing us the added money from PokerStars.

CJ has a list of overall places, but Team Roach (Bayne, Gnome, Ramapge) took it down while the Hammer Girls (Kat, Maigrey, Maudie) finished in second.
The 6th Annual Holiday Classic Final Table:
Seat 1: AlCantang
Seat 2: FTrain
Seat 3: Chilly
Seat 4: Astin
Seat 5: Alceste
Seat 6: Perry
Seat 7: Joe Speaker
Seat 8: ObieVIP
Seat 9: Poker Gnome
Seat 10: Elissa

I didn't take many notes because I was pulling double duties entertaining Mrs. Speaker at the sportsbook ("Will Joe win enough money to win us a new fridge?" was my favorite question) and sweating AlCantHang. As the final table progressed, Al's stack swelled but he also grew a little more tipsy after he took a few beats - the worst being A-J to Gnomes J-rag. The rag hit and Gnome doubled up. Like I did for the Rooster during his march to victory in the 2007 Holiday Classic, I acted as Al's corner man whispering him reminders to stay focused. If you don't know, Al is colorblind so luckily Love Elf helped Al sort out all of the 10K chips from the 1K chips. They were too similar shades of orange which Al was unable to distinguish.

The final three were Speaker, Al, and Astin. Since Astin won it, you should check out his recap. But the last hour or so was emotionally charged. Astin is a serene person when he plays. It must be the origami card cappers that he makes to calm him down.

Al was all fired up. He didn't care about the money. He just wanted the trophy. Al told me on Thursday that he was going to make the final table... or but out first. His pyschic abilities were working but once he advanced to the final table... the winning instinct took over. Al wanted to win. Badly.

Speaker was struggling with his own emotional turmoil. He also wanted to win -- not for himself but rather in honor of his mentor Mike Penner who committed suicide a few weeks earlier. Speaker can be as cool as a Scandi at the tables, but it wasn't until he busted in third that the floodgates opened. It was impossible to hold back the tears when you see your friends in pain.

Al lost to Astin when his A-Q could not chase down Astin's A-K. And it was over. Astin brings the Hammer trophy to Canadia.

Congrats to Astin and thanks to April/FTrain for arranging the tournament.

Also my sincere apologies for my laziness in linking up bloggers. Check my blogroll on the side.

Stay tuned for Part III. To be continued...

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