Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fellini Slow Roll

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I was searching YouTube for a random documentary by an Italian filmmaker and I came across this clip. It's simply titled "poker movie" and it looks like a scene from a random indie flick. The dialogue is in Italian without subtitles and I need Vinny the Barber to help translate it for me. The black and white film and poor lighting gives the flick a noir-like quality. Fellini would be proud.

Nasty slow roll if you ask me. Proper ending. Most pros I know actually wake up on park benches after they go busto.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Vote Eskimo

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Have you submitted your 2010 WSOP TOC votes? You should vote Eskimo Clark into this year's TOC. And if you already voted, then find a way to vote again, but vote for Eskimo this time.

Vote Eskimo. Vote often.

A vote for Eskimo Clark is a vote for hope...hope that some day the TOC becomes a true test of poker acumen and a celebration four decades of champions instead of pompous popularity contest. Meanwhile a covert cold war rages between the top online poker rooms wages behind the scenes with the TOC tables the front lines of the next battle.

The WSOP Main Event used to be a lottery ticket for a shot at fulfilling the American Dream. A dollar. A dream. Well, actually $10,000 and one lofty dream. But the alluring dream became too popular. The WSOP became over run by dream chasers. The entire industry benefited from the cancerous growth and popularity of the Main Event, but the spirit of the event has become lost. Benny Binion originally hosted biggest pissing contest among the best pros in the world. At the time, the pioneers of competitive gambling could barely fill three tables. Who in their right mind would cough up $10,000 in the early 1970s to play against shady Texans and aging mobsters?

Postmodern Las Vegas. Disney World for Adults. The Main Event is fantasy camp, sort of like venturing out on an African safari where the animals walk right up to your jeep. Every year, they keep coming. UIEGA. Doesn't matter. Economy in the sitter? Who cares. Swine Flu? Who gives a fuck, give me an aspirin, and shuffle up and deal.

I got paid good money selling the Moneymaker Dream the last five years, even though it does a really good job selling itself but I can't tell the people who pay me that -- otherwise I'd have to figure out some other way to pay for my herbal supplements.

From an entertainment perspective, the lack of star power at the Main Event final tables affects ratings. You can't fix a televised major tournament like professional wrestling where the good guy meets the villain at the final table. The sheer numbers of entrants, the integrity of the WSOP and ESPN, compounded with the fickle nature of luck produces a lackluster final table with one random pro and eight unknown players. That has been a standard formula the last few years.

One of the driving forces behind the November Nine was that the final table delay allowed the industry to fabricate the next batch of stars, since odds were against them of getting three or more household names at the final table. I can only imagine in a boardroom somewhere, one of the ring leaders of the military-industrial-entertainment-poker complex (MIEPC) is looking at the November Nine chip count while screaming, "If we don't have any stars at the final table, then god dammit, we'll make new stars!"

And that's where I come in, along with the rest of the media who get compensated generously to hype up the November Nine and brainwash you into thinking that those nine players are the coolest thing to hit poker since rakeback. By the time the public catches up with the Main Event episodes on ESPN, the MIEPC hopes that the masses actually give a shit about the story lines and become enamored with the new stars that we made from scratch, like fresh blueberry muffins right out of the oven. It worked. Ask Dennis Phillips.

Vote for Eskimo. Why not? The entire TOC is a friggin' joke anyway, besides he deserves an opportunity to redeem himself. We all make mistakes in life, even Eskimo. Shouldn't he get a second chance? Yes.

A vote for Eskimo is as anti-establishment as you can get. I showed you how the system is rigged. The hippies in 1968 were bold enough to stand up for their beliefs and change the rigged system even though it meant that they'd get their heads bashed in by fascist cops.

So here's your chance to buck the system -- without getting drenched by a water cannon and your nuts stomped on by a stormtrooper. All you have to do is vote for Eskimo.

In fact, vote for Eskimo and a bunch of 20-something year old. As the saying goes (all of you Baby Boomers and hippies know it), "Never trust anyone over 30." Yep, I'm voting for Eskimo, Annette_15, OMGClayAiken, and all of the online kids. It's time to put some of these unknown faces in front of millions. After all, they are already underground stars among the online poker community. Middle America (and parts of Canadia) hasn't seen them yet, shit, at all.

You have power. Use it wisely. A vote for Eskimo is a vote for a better tomorrow.

The future is in your hands.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Morning Link Dump: Happy (Belated) Birthday to Wicked Chops Poker, Whataburger Fights, Private Equity, and Reclusive Math Geeks

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Sorry folks. I'm recovering (once again) from a March Madness hangover. We're down to four teams, my bracket is shot, and I'm barely above water. Anyway, here are a couple of tid bits (even a few poker-related stories) to masticate on during this fantastic Monday Morning...
Wicked Chops Poker turned five years old. Seems like just yesterday I met those hipsters for the first time at the 2005 WSOP Main Event... due to limited space on the floor of the Amazon Ballroom, the WCP gang set up shop behind a plasma monitor where the ESPN crew displayed the overhead flop cam for the featured TV table. That's always one of my favorite WSOP and WCP memories -- along with the hooker ODing in room 1417 at the Palms. We'll save that story for next year's birthday greetings. Let's hope we both can stick around for another five. (Wicked Chops Poker)

Amy Calistri sounds off on private equity and a few other financial matters in... The Wall Street Shell Game, and is Frugality So Wrong? (Aimlessly Chasing Amy)

I love it when two old ladies sue each other over winning the lottery. This is not a Shirley Jackson short story but the real life adventures of two sisters feuding over winning powerball numbers. (The Die Is Cast)

Speaking of wacky Ruskies, here's an intriguing story about Grigori Perelman, one of the world's brightest mathematicians who solved Poincaré's conjecture, the most difficult math problem of the 20th century. It took almost 8 years to prove his work before he was awarded a prize of $1 million by the Clay Institute. The reclusive genius declined the money and the prestigious Fields Medal. When a reporter attempted to interview Perelman he screamed, "You are disturbing me. I am picking mushrooms." I almost expected him to scream, "Fuck you taking eight years to pay $1 million. I'm playing online poker now and can make that in a weekend." (Huffington Post)

Only in Texas. I should say... only at a Whataburger in Texas. Thanks to my British colleague, Chris Hall, who pointed out this hysterical video of a drunk dude getting his ass handed to him at Whataburger. (dlisted)

Speaking of fights, visit Tao of Pauly (aka Tao of Hockey Fights) for a couple of fisticuffs involving Patrick Roy. (Tao of Pauly)
That's it for now. And if you're still suffering from a case of the Mondays, I suggest booze, weed, and/or pills.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Best of Tao of Poker: March 2010 Edition

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

March featured an unexpected and drastic makeover for Tao of Poker and we finally got settled in to the new digs. If you missed the old template which featured a month's worth of clutter on one page, then this post is dedicated to you. Here's a quick recap of some of my favorite posts from this month...
Top 10 Ways to Annoy Chat Beggars - Give into your fervent desires and fuck with the brokedicks on the rail.

Through a Glass Darkly: The Search for Islidur1 - A mock-interview with the abstruse Swedish high stakes pro.

Vans Vote for 2010 TOC; Tao of Poker's Picks - This includes a few illustrious Top 5 and Top 10 lists of distinguished players you should consider voting for.

Lucky - A pedantic re-visitation of an old theme. This excerpt missed the cut for the final draft of Lost Vegas.

White Man's Burden - Phill Hellmuth and Tony G - A Rudyard Kipling poem accurately described the hijinks of The G and Hellmuth.

The Return of the Sun King - Bonus whoring, Big Deuce, and grinding online to fund my intrepid summer adventures.
You can always check out the Best of Tao section to read (or re-read) some of your favorite posts over the years.

March Madness: Elite 8 - Sunday Picks

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Well, yesterday was ugly, dreadful, atrocious, and sickening. I went 0-2, along with a slew of bettors, but I at least saved a semblance of sanity when I faded G-Rob's sure thing (betting the OVER instead of the UNDER in the Kentucky/West Virginia game). Sorry, Bub, but thanks for the fade!

What can I say other thank Kentucky cannot shoot treys inside the Carrier Dome. I wish I paid more attention to that fickle stat before I placed my wager. UK shot something like 6-50 over the last two games from beyond the arc. Most UK fans will tell you that they dreaded this matchup versus West Virginia the day that the brackets were released. They knew that West Virginia stood in their way of a return to the Final Four... and Huggins' crew did exactly that.

Oh, and fuck Butler, man. Jesus, the Indiana boys are living out a real Hooisers tale. Butler's rigid trapping scheme kept Kansas State's guards in check. Kudos to them for shutting down my main man Jacob Pullen, who had bailed my ass at least twice this year. Looks like Butler are truly the real deal.

Today? I have no clue as per usual. I made my picks for Sunday's games on Friday night. I like Michigan State and Duke to both win by a little. Yep, I'm gonna stay on the Baylor bandwagon.

Click here to see Sunday's Elite 8 picks.

Fade me. Bet with me. Cheer me. Ridicule me.

I'm cool with all of the above. That's it for now. Good luck today.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

March Madness: Elite 8 - Saturday's Picks

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The moment you have all been waiting for... here are my Elite 8 picks for Saturday's game.

Talk about a grueling Friday. I whiffed in the first batch of games; I only had a small hedge bet on St. Mary's, but I seriously miscalculated Ohio State's ability to rebound, ergo Tenn wiped the boards clean. After a dismal 0-2 start on Friday, I did what any sane bettor would do... double down! I doubled my bet size on the second batch of games (a small bet on Michigan State turned into a medium-sized bet and a medium bet on Duke became a BIG bet). Both of those teams prevailed digging my ass out of a hole and making up for Thursday's losing big bet.

I'm back on track, and then some, with the a mere eight teams left standing. Hopefully, I won't blow my roll today.

Feel free to bet on the games over at They accept US players.

Good luck. Godspeed.
Disclaimer: these picks are for entertainment purposes only. After all, gambling is illegal in some areas and Tao of Poker is not a registered investment adviser or broker/dealer. Readers are advised that the material contained herein should be used solely for informational purposes. Tao of Poker does not purport to tell or suggest which games that readers should wager for themselves. True gamblers should always conduct their own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. Tao of Poker will not be liable for any loss, damage or dissolution of marriages caused by a reader's reliance on information obtained on Tao of Poker. Readers are solely responsible for their own investment decisions and for bringing their own beer.

Friday, March 26, 2010

March Madness: Sweet 16 - Friday Picks

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Use at your own health risk. Here are my picks for Friday's Sweet 16 games.

I got super lucky last night when Kansas State bailed me out in 2 OTs. Otherwise, I would have had my ass handed to me.

I will be snarking it up on Twitter during tonight's games if you're looking for alt-commentary.

Good luck.

Link Dump: Tony G Staking Isildur1, Potheads in the NFL, Denny Crum, UIEGA, and Las Vegas Cabbie Stories

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Happy Friday. Here are some random links to keep you entertained....
Tony G offers to stake Isildur1. He also said he could play live games with a Kermit the Frog mask to hide his true identity Good lord, what good could come from this? Isildur1 can run up a stack but he implodes every time and Brian Hastings vacuums up the last of his roll. (Party Poker Blog)

Since we're on the subject... Luke Schwartz outs Isildur1 and reveals the Swede's true identity, but nothing shocking here, he's simply telling us the obvious. (Poker Player UK)

Oh, if you didn't know, The G responded to a recent Tao of Poker post involving him, Phil Hellmuth, and a Rudyard Kipling poem. Read The G's reactions in Pauly's Pen. (Tony G Poker)

Heart-warming video of little girl asking former Louisville hoops coach Denny Crum to recant his worst bad beat story. Crum tells her something that happened during the WSOP. (Pokerati)

I don't spend too much time thinking about the political stuff, but luckily my friends do. Check our Shamus' astute take on the political climate and the storm that's a brewing... Thinking About June 1 (& the UIGEA). (Hard-Boiled Poker)

Never mind the roidheads, here come the potheads! NFL is not cool with the latest batch of college players who are marijuana addicts. And hey let's overlook all the steroid and painkiller abuse, not to mention all of those booze-fueled run-ins with the law. (Sports Illustrated)

Another Cheating Scandal? Another hysterical take on multi-accounters, forums, and online poker. (The Melted Felt)

MtFunkMD, my favorite Vegas taxi blogger seems to be posting regularly again. XLVII and XLVIII are must reads. (Las Vegas Cabbie Chronicles)

I'm now a contributor and west coast correspondent for Upstate Frolfer. Feels amazing to write about non-poker things once in a while. Check out my first post, a review of Chavez Ridge at Elysian Park. Ah and I have a second post titled The Pink Disc. (Upstate Frolfer)

I started a new category on my regular blog called hockey fights. I posted two recent fights from the NHL and from the minor leagues in Canada. (Tao of Pauly)
Have a fun weekend. I hope you get laid. Now get the hell out of my office.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

March Madness: Sweet 16 - Thursday Picks

By Pauly
Manhattan Beach, CA

I'm out frolfing before the games begin.

Anyway, here are Thursday's Sweet 16 picks.

If you don't have a account, then sign up for one right now!

The Return of the Sun King

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Online poker is the simplest way to get my immediate gambling fix -- like walking down the block to the corner pub, hopping on a stool, and salivating when old Sully the bartender pours you a cold frosty one.

I didn't believe it at first. My poker spreadsheet was missing entries from February 2010. Not a single session was entered. Could that be right? It had to be a mistake. Did a 13-year-old Russian computer geek hack into my Excel files? No, that chicanery seems highly unlikely. Did I overlook a day or so? Quite possibly. I'm a midnight toker and not getting any younger. But seriously, did I not play a single hand of online poker in the month of February?

I retraced my steps and although I logged on a couple of times in February to sweat the nosebleed tables to research a couple of of my columns, I only remained a railbird and resisted the temptation to chase the dragon. I know... Rush Poker and I had an unfortunate incident... and I haven't completely repressed those demoralizing memories, but we finally came to terms with our abusive and volatile relationship. But that's not the reason why I avoided the tables.

I only had one horrendous live session in January during the annual porn convention. It as one of those Vegas nights that you want to forget, but you can never escape those traumatic episodes of suckout after suckout and rebuy after rebuy, as the carnage spilled over three casinos and it felt like I had gotten violated by a King Kong dildo. I retained a semblance of my dignity when I finally busted my slump at the Mirage at 6am against a player so drunk that he kept forgetting his hole cards.

At the start of the new year I wasn't running hot at the online tables, but at the least I was outrunning the rake which sometimes is all you can hope for. I didn't take a break to cool off or recharge -- simply, I was too busy to play. Unfettered time was something that I could only wish for, because any spare time was devoted to writing or watching the Olympics. I was bogged down with work at the beginning of February and the end of the month went towards prepping for a trip to South America for a gig.

During my month long hiatus, I supposedly had a bonus waiting for me on Full Tilt. My buddy sent me an email from Antarctica (no bullshit, he's a scientist working down there) and he emailed me to remind that FT bonuses were about to expire.

Online bonuses? Talk about the proverbial carrot in front of the fuckin' donkey. The bigger the carrot, the faster that I haul ass.

I decided to check and sure enough, I had one waiting for me. I had not played online poker over a month, but all of a sudden, I felt the itch to play like Pavlov's frothing dog with streams of drool rushing out of my mouth like tiny waterfalls. How can I pass up free money?

I shook off the dust and opened up Full Tilt. You know you haven't played in a while when you're prompted to a "new software to install" button. I moaned for a couple of minutes during the installation and then fired up a couple of short-handed 5/10 tables. I also conducted a thorough "Search a Fish" scan of the site and found one or two of my favorite donators. I was shocked that they still had money left since the last time we played together. Makes you wonder how some of the worst players around are able to fund their accounts. They must be independently wealthy and the maladroit son of an uber-rich lawyer. Hey, I don't care where the fish/donks/tards/mutts get their money -- as long as they bring it to the tables where I have a high percentage chance of winning it. I stalked the marks, joined the wait list for their tables, and returned to the grind. Before I knew it, I blazed through 50% of my bonus.

I didn't really give a shit about the bonus during March Madness. I employed the hit and run method with multiple spurts over four days, specifically during innocuous games when I had no financial attachments to the outcome.

I've been dangerously dabbling with Rush Poker PLO. Man, that's flirting with doom, sort of like the weekend warriors who limit their cocaine usage to the weekends. They stumble into the office on Monday mornings with bags under their eyes and a nasty case of the sniffles. But I've been good about it. I try to double or triple up and then log off and sit out for at least 24 hours before I plunge into the darkness once again.

My recent March Madness binge included a confluence of sports betting, online poker, and heads-up Big Deuce against Change100. We're closing in on almost 500 hands, which is a significant considering that we play on average of 20 hands a session (roughly 40-45 minutes). We played about 50 hands/day since we began keeping score. I complete a sick sick sick comeback after trailing for 192 straight hands. You have no idea what it felt like to finally break even and take the lead!

We both got addicted to Big Deuce when Rey introduced us the game in Uruguay. I re-introduced the game to the G-Vegas crew during Mastodon Weekend and they also succumbed to the addictive nature of the Big Deuce, probably because of the tremendous variance. One moment you're up 50 points and three hands later, you're only up by 3 and on the verge of losing your mud and overall lead. Big Deuce requires some skill, but at the core, it is a hardcore relentless action game where the momentum swings back and forth.

I would be playing more online poker if it weren't for my affinity to Big Deuce. But I need to start playing more online poker in order to fund my summer vacation after the WSOP. I have trips planned to Berkley, CA and Telluride, Colorado along with a few other weekend excursions. I'll have to fly a lot this summer much to the dismay of those granola-eating eco-freaks, which is to say that my American Express bill is going to be quite hefty in the upcoming months.

I spent all of my Dream Team Poker winnings, but nothing degenerate like pissing it away in a PLO cash game in Moscow, or blowing it in the pits shooting dice with TJ. Rather, I used my poker winnings to fund creative endeavors and my favorite hobbies. More than half of the winnings paid my rent when I took off the last part of 2009 and the first two months of 2010 to finish Lost Vegas. I used the remainder of my winnings to fund an insane three-day long Halloween party in Palm Springs and an epic four-day blowout in Miami to end the year.

I'm not counting on an unexpected score like last summer's Dream Team victory with Tao of Pokerati. Rather, I'm going to grind out the necessary income over a period of six months. With March Madness, online poker, and playing more cash games in Vegas during the WSOP -- I could theoretically pay for at least 50% of my summer vacation. And if I do really well for the rest of March Madness, I might be able to cover 90% of my expenses.

I'm a staunch proponent of bankroll management, especially reinvesting in your roll, but sometimes you have to have faith in yourself and your abilities at the table to win money with a specific purpose in mind -- a new monitor, buy-in for a WSOP event, trip to Hawaii, or braces for Sally.

Whatever your goal may be, best of luck. I often forget how fortunate we really are to have an outlet where we create financial wealth from nothing -- and to have been able to do so without risk of imprisonment from the federales. Not to sound too corny, but online poker can truly make our some of our dreams come true. Well, maybe not all of your dreams, but you can definitely buy a bunch of cool stuff. Right?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Videos: OMGClayAiken Beats the Piss Out of Isildur1

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

"This is just me running well," said Phil Galfond.

So fuckin' true. I gotta say that I watched every single second of these stunning recaps and running commentary of Phil "OMGClayAiken" Galfond discussing in depth details about specific hands he played against Isildur1. If you don't know, earlier this month Galfond beat the piss out of Isildur1 for the tune of $1.6 million in a session primarily played at the $500/$1,000 PLO tables on Full Tilt. They also rumbled a bit at the $200/$400 NL tables.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Phil Hellmuth and Tony G - White Man's Burden

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Tony G and Phil Hellmuth both remind me of a clever, yet sullen poem from Rudyard Kipling...
Take up the White Man's burden—
Send forth the best ye breed—
Go, bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait, in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild—
Your new-caught sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.
The dramatic last line stands out. Half devil. Half child. Draw your own vigorous conclusions.

Last week or so, The G penned an ornate rant on his blog, where he attempted to goad Phil Hellmuth with a a flurry of back-handed compliments. I love The G because he's affable, yet fearless and has no qualms about walking up to a bee hive and calmly kicking it over. Check out... Tony G's Open Letter to Phil Hellmuth.
I found it funny when Roland and Daniel gave you a retirement card at the Premier League and nothing satisfies me more than making you cry and wail. I will send you back to Madison, or Russia – or wherever... More
Let's be honest here... The G has admittedly acted like a flatulent jagoff on many occasions. His relentless verbal thrashing of Ralph Perry is both cringe-worthy and outright hilarious. I have one of those brute videos marked as a favorite on YouTube. I heard that CIA interrogators utilize similar tactics when acquainting themselves with suspected terrorists in Gitmo.

I can't recall how many times I've heard friends launch into a ludicrous Tony G impersonation and infecting an entire room with rambunctious laughter with the infamous "get on your bike" speech. Ironically, no one imitates Phil Hellmuth or delivers a Hellmuthesque soliloquy on his opponents' inability to spell words pedestrian like P-O-K-E-R.

Anyway, Hellmuth advanced to the WPT final table at the Bay 101 Shooting Star last week, but he fizzled out and got busted in 6th place. The morning of that final table, The G had a few supercilious things to say about the positive developments in Hellmuth's game...
By making the final table at this WPT event you have proved you are great Phil. You have been running worse than you could possibly run and this final table is the start of a mega, mega comeback.

It’s clear to me that the younger players are making a huge amount of ground but you are a real legend in my book. I hope this final table doesn’t leave lasting psychological damage – you are on your way back. Trust me when Tony G says this... More

The G taunted Hellmuth at a vulnerable moment, hoping to draw a reaction, which is not a bad thing because I would love to see those villains go at it in an old fashioned arm wrestling match like in the Sly Stallone flick Over the Top. I posed the question about a potential tete-a-tete to The G.
Pauly: If you were to get into an arm wrestling match with Phil Hellmuth, we all know you will win -- but how long do you think it would take for you to beat Hellmuth? (15 seconds? 3 minutes?) I’m curious. Thanks.
The G was quick to answer...
10 seconds max and bring it on I say. I am worried about Phil’s mental strength but I will not be so forgiving with physical power. Let’s get it on Phil – how much do you want to play for? I have been working out a lot recently and looking after my health. Feel my power baby – I will take everything!
My grandiose idea of an arm wrestling extravaganza flew right out the friggin' window because The G was obviously blessed by the gods with superhuman strength and could crush Hellmuth's hands, fingers, and snap off his wrist. Hellmuth obviously ducked The G... at that moment.

Because poker is not regulated and the major tournament circuits do not test players for narcotics or performance enhancing drugs, Hellmuth resorted to injecting himself with nandrolone, HGH, HBT, synthetic hemoglobin, and some sort of protein extracted from Rhinoceros semen. Within a few weeks, Hellmuth pumped himself up and has been training with a couple of MMA fighters for an impending cage fight with The G.

The cage match is being set up somewhere in Costa Rica. One of my colleagues who works in one of the sports books down in San Jose tipped me off to the match where the rules are simple; each combatant is allow to take one item inside the cage that would normally be found in a kitchen with the exception of utensils such as forks and knives. The G is taking cast-iron skillet in order to inflict heavy damage to Hellmuth's juiced up square-jaw and humongous head. No word on what Hellmuth is taking, but he's rumored to be sneaking a Slap Chop into the ring.

What the fuck is a Slap Chop? Here's a version of the infamous commercial...

I'm sure you've seen the infomercials for the Slap Chop at 3am when you're at the tail end of your online poker session. Anyway, Hellmuth intends on inserting The G's fingers and toes into the Slap Chop -- one by one. Who wants to see The G's minced finger tips?

Not to be outdone, The G hired Mike Tyson to help him train. We all know that The G is from the streets, but Tyson is well versed in prison-brawling (from his short stint inside the joint) and street-fighting from back in his Brooklyn Bed-Stuy days. Plus, Tyson is a habitual biter and he's teaching The G all sorts of advanced biting techniques.

Stay tuned for more details on this impending battle of the half devil and the half child.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Link Dump: Online Poker Legality, St. Shaniac, American Idol, and Gate Crashing with Vicky Coren

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Recovering from a post-March Madness gambling hangover and bender. I had a rough Saturday, but ended the four-day binge with a highly profitable Sunday. I'll whip up a hearty post tomorrow. Let me shake out the cobwebs with a link dump...
Vicky Coren is a fantastic storyteller. I thoroughly enjoyed her recent column for The Observer titled Society spectres are back at the feast. Vicky conjured up memories of hysterical stories about my father and his brothers crashing funerals in New Jersey in the early 1950s in search of free booze. On Saturdays, they'd put on suits, drive around from town to town, looking up the services and wake announcements in local newspapers. If the deceased had an Italian last name, they'd be eating lots of great food and drinking wine. If the deceased was Irish, then they hit the lottery. (The Guardian)

Shamus eloquently navigates the murky legal waters of online poker. If you don't know, there will be no more delays for the UIEGA, which will officially go into effect on June 1st. (Hard-Boiled Poker)

If Shaniac were Catholic, then he's be the reincarnation of St. Francis of Assisi. I'm impressed that Shaniac can heal wounded animals with a single touch of the hand while grinding (and winning) EPT satellites. (Can't Miss What You Can't Measure)

St. Shaniac of Assisi

Mike Wise is one of my favorite sportswriters. We used to play cards together back in the day when he wrote for the NY Times. Anyway, he sounded off on a couple of topics in recent columns: 1) Why a 96-team bracket will never work... and 2) Analyzing Alex Ovechkin. (Washington Post)

I forgot to plug Change100's recent post about American Idol... Rolling Stones Week. She convinced me to bet on the chick with dreadlocks to win the damn thing. (Pot Committed)
That's it for now. See ya tomorrow.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

March Madness: Adios Kansas and Sunday's Picks

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Saturday's March Madness games smacked me back into reality. Ugly day. If it weren't for Kansas State bailing me out in the later games, the day would have been tremendously ugly. As is, I finished 2-3 for the day, whiffed on my parlay, and missed my big bet. In my defense, Butler played like absolute shit, shot anemically from every spot on the court including 32 missed FGs and a handful of clutch free throws down the stretch. Butler was lucky to win by 2 points. Shit, if they hit just one trey, I cover. Alas, I screwed the pooch with the Butler pick.

I knew New Mexico was a trap game which I clearly identified, yet I wanted action the other way due to my stubbornness. I should have listened to Johnny Walker and bet his UW Huskies. I knew that they were good enough to pick off Marquette and should have placed a higher emphasis on an injured Hobson from New Mexico. Oh well. Flush that disgusting turd down the toilet.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

March Madness: 64 to 32 and Saturday's 2nd Round Picks

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Thursday was propelled by thrilling OT games, bracket busters, and enthralling upsets. That's why I love March Madness and spend twelve straight hours on my couch clutching my bong, watching two laptops and a TV, and screaming obscenities whenever CBS airs a commercial. I live for this time of year.

Friday's tame action was a bit boring side save the occasional pocket of excitement. I had a hunch that normalcy will return and that the majority of favorites would win/cover. I avoided any significant action with a couple of medium-sized bets on Purdue and Pitt. The pundits were not so high on either team which in turn affected the betting lines making both teams very attractive to my new system.

You want a free betting tip? Know which talking head on TV is full of shit and fade their picks. Doesn't matter if it is European Premier League soccer, the NFL, or March Madness. Understand the power of the lowest common denominator. Most TV viewers are degenerate bettors, broke dick punters, and other brainwashed yokels believe everything they hear and see on TV. That means you have to go against the grain and bet the opposite way in order to find tremendous value. That's the toughest thing to do in life -- to run one way when everyone else is running the opposite way. However, if you have the courage and perseverance to do so and pick the right spot (timing is everything), then you'll find that you're the only one running towards the money.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Link Dump: Strip Clubs with Grubby, Emmy Nods, Joanna Krupa, High Stakes Poker, Big Booty and a Vial of Acid

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Sorry kids.Mind is focused on gambling on college basketball. Chew on these links until I can return to normally scheduled rants and ramblings on Monday. Let's kick off things with the man, the myth, and the legend himself... the Poker Grub returns!
Man, I miss Grubby and when I was his roomie in Henderson. Our days were filled with cavorting around town at buffets and strip clubs. His recent post... Daytripping Strip Clubs is a must read and got me feeling all nostalgic. (Poker Grub)

Congrats to Matt and Dave and the gang at 441 Productions, who received an Emmy nomination for their work on the November Nine. Kudos to the crew for their diligent work on this year's final table. (Pokerati)

Highway51 won the Sunday Million on PokerStars. Insert your Bob Dylan joke here ______. (Bluff)

Joanna Krupa appeared on Poker2Nite. Hubba. Hubba. I popped a woody typing this. She danced with Joe Sebok. LUCKY. DOG. (Wicked Chops Poker)

Shamus waxes about High Stakes Poker. He included a video of a sick sick sick hand that Ivey and durrrr played. (Hard-Boiled Poker)

Losers Poker Strategy - Bankroll Management - Part #1 is one of those eye-opening pieces that makes you scream, "I've been playing the wrong fucking way all these years!" (Melted Felt)

Phantasy Tour is the 2+2 of the jamband music community. Some of the trolls on those threads are more vicious than the psychopaths on 2+2, but there's definitely some pretty funny ass stuff posted there. You just have to sift through the crap. My buddy BTreotch stumbled upon a gem on PT which I'm calling... Big Booty and a Vial of Acid... which reminded me of a Shakespearean tragedy -- our protagonist falls for the wrong girl who has rather scrumptious ass, he gets his heart brutally broken, takes a roadtrip with an emo kid (who happens to be long-dicking his ex-girlfriend), ends up at a Panic show, scores a vial from a wook in the lot, trips balls, emo kid freaks out and thinks he's in the Matrix, their car gets pulled over by cops, and... well, I won't ruin the rest of the story. Read it here. (PT)
That's it for now. Get the hell out of my office!

March Madness: Sizzling Thursday and Friday's Picks

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Day 1 of the 2010 March Madness tournament included titillating moments featuring the craziest opening day in recent memory. Upsets prevailed; Vandy and Georgetown went busto. Hoops junkies nearly overdosed with free basketball courtesy of multiple overtime games including one edge-of-my-seat double overtime game with BYU -- which I desperately needed in order to cover by 5. Shit, we even got treated to a few exhilarating buzzer beaters (like Murray State) that destroyed brackets.

I like going against the grain. Picking a #12 to beat a #5 seed is soooo 1999. Sure at least one will win, but with the public obsessed on overvaluing #12 seeds, I have been pounding the #5 seeds the last few years. I bet Butler heavily yesterday as my big bet of the day. I got Texas A&M today. Of course, I have one exception and I'm betting on Cornell, the alma mater of a dozen or so friends, and I think they have the best shot at toppling a #5 seed.

I placed a high emphasis on finding an upset in the #11 seeds. I bet three on Thursday; San Diego State, UW and ODU and all three covered. Only SDS lost. I don't like the Xavier-Minny game.

Here's the key to gaining an edge....

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

"Sometimes contact with the lucky can change a man's run of bad luck," said William Burroughs. "But generally it works the other way. Junkies are an envious lot."

This is your obligatory Luck of the Irish post where I revisit the theme of binge drinking and luck. The horrors of luck tormented many souls. Panhandlers can tell you about their losing stories in life, and how a word like luck dredges up horrific connotations decided to look the other way. Busto poker players regurgitate hours and hours of endless tales about how they constantly ended up on the "shit end" of the stick.

Then there's genuine stories about simple people averting catastrophe, like the perplexed businessmen who got caught in traffic and missed his flight to Buffalo that ended up falling out of the sky and killing every single passenger. Two of my friends died then came back to life at the hands of a paramedic: one of them had their heart stop, while the other got shot seven times. Both were about to depart this world, yet at the last second, they were called back. They both woke up in the hospital. It was not their time to expire. Lucky? Absolutely.

The over-inflated beliefs and the illusion of control was one of the biggest contributing factors to problem gambling. Consistent losers justified their losing sessions at the tables and blamed “bad luck” as the culprit, instead of owning up to the fact that they lacked the necessary skills to play the game or simply fell on the bad side of mathematics and probability.

Rituals were things that made people comfortable, like flipping the on and off switch to the lights eight times before you left the apartment or why I used to knock twice on the outside of a plane in the jetway before I boarded any flight. I firmly believed that touching the outer shell of the plane would prevent it from crashing and improve my flight karma which meant avoiding sitting next to babies, chatty people, and folks with morose body odor.

The inflated expectation of winning by adhering to superstitions was the ultimate downfall to any gambler that set foot in Las Vegas. You will not win at blackjack or flop a set if you do or do not follow the delirium of a specific superstition. The randomness of luck is more powerful that your willingness to increase your edge with lucky items or fulfilling a ritual that's nothing more than a waste of your time and your crutch against facing the harsh realities of the world.

Gambling is a chaotic, godless, and random universe.

Asian people viewed luck in vastly different ways than those of us in the Western world. The Chinese believed that the ebbs and flows of luck can be predicted by astrology, and that you can gain an edge by taking advantage of an instance when celestial luck is in your favor. That's why Chinese New Year is a popular time among Asian gamblers. They believe that winning at any form of gambling on New Year's Day will bring them positive luck for the rest of the year.

In some Asian cultures, people saved up money for decades then checked the stars to find out the best dates to travel to Macau, Las Vegas, or a local casino. They felt that their destiny was determined by the gambling gods. If they are supposed to lead a blessed and wealthy life... then they would score big on their gambling sojourn. If they lost on that epic trip, then they accepted that they had to settle into the role of mediocrity or poverty for their remaining years.

There was an appropriate Vietnamese saying, "Winning is luck. Losing is bad luck."

Some poker players found some truth to that statement. Was a run of bad cards just a run of bad luck? Or was it simply... a random event? That depended on the belief systems and psychological temperament of the person experiencing the rush or the dismay of the awful run of cards. There was a sort of randomness associated with the shuffle of the cards along with the shuffle of luck. When you ran bad, the player at the other end of the table was discredited as a "luckbox" or a "lucky fucker." But if you got sucked out on, you might chalk up your negative experience to a run of bad luck.

I used to hand out $1 bills to homeless guys who I encountered on the subway on my way to the play poker at one of the clubs or at a home game. I felt that my overall karma would improve by helping out the homeless and come back in a form of a winning session at the tables.

One of the hardest superstitions to shake is the theory that bad luck was passed along from one player to another like a quick spreading strain of the Swine Flu. My brother and I often joke around that certain friends of ours were coolers. We had a running theory that they were symbols of death at the tables. There were instances when one of them wandered to the blackjack table and Derek picked up his chips and walked away.

Believing in luck whether it was good or bad was a form of tilt. Stat and math geeks will tell you that there was no such thing as a rush and pushing your luck was nothing more than feeling confident about your cards. Conversely, when stuck in a losing streak, worrying about the outcome of your hands due to an unlucky streak was simply playing without confidence. Like I said, math and science ruled the universe over hokey superstitions. That is... if you believed in that.

Some people believed in God and they firmly believe that praying to God would affect the outcome of their cards. I came from the school of thought that if there is a God, the last thing he wanted to do is to turn off the doom switch on PokerStars for you or help you catch your two outer on the river. Las Vegas was the post-modern version of Sodom or Gomorrah. Didn't God send his angels to burn those cities to the ground?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fans Vote for TOC WSOP Players; Tao of Poker Picks

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The Tournament of Champions returns to the WSOP. The suits at Harrah's decided to put a little spin on this year's event and opened up voting to you, the people. Just like an all star game for the NBA or MLB, you will determine the last 20 spots. Only living WSOP bracelet winners are eligible, which means that anyone who won a bracelet has a shot at winning... provided that the masses vote them in. That includes both Eskimo Clark and everyone's favorite villain Russ Hamilton.

Allow me to begin my campaign... VOTE ESKIMO!

Voting is open from now through June 15th. Vote early. Vote often. Vote ESKIMO!

Five spots are already reserved for previous TOC champions (Annie Duke, Mike Sexton, and Mike Matusow) and the current Main Event winners Joe Cada (WSOP) and Barry Shulman (WSOPE). There will be two sponsor exemptions, which is a nice way of saying that they gotta pay the bills somehow and let the sponsors pick a couple of players.

Click here to see who is currently in the Top 50 in voting.

Anyway, I know that the general public knows a fraction of the actual players out there, so that's why you turn to the Tao of Poker to get the low down on who you should vote for. With that said, here's my guide on TOC Voting...

Top 10 Asians:
1. David "The Dragon" Pham
2. Johnny Chan
3. Kenny Tran
4. JC Tran
4. An "The Boss" Tran
5. Bill Chen
6. John Phan
7. Willie Tan
8. Chau Giang
9. Scotty Nguyen
10. Barry Greenstein

I'm Gonna Drop Acid and Vote for These 10:
1. Jerry Yang
2. Jen Tilly
3. Robert Varkonyi
4. Russ Hamilton
5. Eskimo Clark
6. Devilfish
7. Dutch Boyd
8. Jamie Gold
9. David Sklansky
10. Capt. Tom Franklin

Top 5 Overlooked:
1. Allen Cunningham
2. Scott Clements
3. Freddy Deeb
4. John Juanda
5. DonkeyBomber

Top 5 Old Vegas:
1. Doyle Brunson
2. Billy Baxter
3. Bobby Baldwin
4. Amarillo Slim
5. Mickey Appleman

Top 5 Party People:
1. Layne Flack
2. Gank
3. Mike Matsuow
4. Huck Seed
5. Chau Giang

Top 5 Latin Players:
1. Humberto Brenes
2. Max Stern
3. Alex Gomes
4. Angel Guillen
5. Johnny "World" Hennigan

Top 5 Young Guns:
1. Brock Parker
2. Brandon Cantu
3. Matt Graham
4. Jason Mercier
5. Phil Galfond

Top 5 Random Scandis:
1. Jesper Hougaard
2. Thor Hansen
3. Annette Obrestad
4. Yani Vilmunen
5. Peter Eastgate

Top 5 Euros With Funny Nicknames:
1. Dario "ScarfBoy" Mineri
2. Max "Italian Pirate" Pescatori
3. Alex "KGB" Kravchenko
4. Roland "Hungry Like" De Wolfe
5. David "Dinner Bell" Benyamine

Top 5 Guys I'd Vote for if they were still alive:
1. Stu Ungar
2. Chip Reese
3. Tuna Lund
4. Amir Vahedi
5. Johnny Moss

Top 5 Online Nicknames:
2. dandruff
3. mrsmokey1
4. tsoprano
5. basebaldy
That's it for now. You can vote here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Through a Glass Darkly: The Search for Isildur1

By Pauly
Stockholm, Sweden

My journey took me to a small town in the middle of nowhere Sweden where the sun shines 23 hours a day in the summer, but the sun barely breaks through the 23 hour long darkness during the winter of discontent. Ulf Samuelsson, a professional hockey player who played for the NY Rangers, is the most famous person from these parts of the inlands, where most of the men my age have been working in the copper mines for over two decades. I wasn't there to pay homage to Ulf, rather, I intended on seeking out their second most famous resident.

I staked out the local Ikea and waited for Isilidur1, who was there to purchase a new Joakim swivel chair, because everyone knows that a comfortable chair is essential for a 22-hour marathon session of online poker. I ambushed the enigmatic online pro in the parking lot. He mistook me for a local heroin addict, cursed at me in Swedish, and threw a wad of Kronors at me. When I screamed out in English that I was a poker writer seeking an interview, he spit at me and tried to grab my junk. A scuffle ensued. I put him in a headlock and threatened to break his mouse finger if he didn't agree to an interview. He attempts to bribe me with a Full Tilt dart board and a $500 gift card to Ikea, but I wouldn't budge. I bent back his index finger and nearly snapped it off. He finally caved.

I successfully tracked down the man believed to be Islidur1. He refused to let me watch him play online poker. I could only sweat his tables while logged onto Full Tilt in the lobby of the local inn. He let me follow him around town for a day which he spent the majority of the time drinking at two out of the three town pubs, betting on Champions League soccer games with local bookies, and eating shrimp on toast. I started to wonder if any of this was all a dream, or if I was part of a hoax, like morons showing up at Loch Ness hoping to find Barney swiming in the lake.

To this day, Islidur1 vehemently denies that our conversations took place. He also denied that he is Isildur1, despite the fact it the two or three days I spent with him, he was constantly clad in the same "I am Isiludr1" t-shirt which I discovered that he was selling for $25 a pop on the internet.

At any rate, here are excerpts from our Frost/Nixon type of conversations...
Tao: Are you really in that much fear of the Swedish government? I don't buy it. Tell me the real reason that you are in hiding?

Isildur1: "I hate people. Online poker allows me to maintain a solitary existence. In order to make a living, I also don't have to sit on a train in the morning with all of those other boring commuters to a menial job in Stockholm where I can't wait until Friday afternoons when I get shitfaced with my co-workers. I can't live like that -- working like a muppet for five days straight counting the hours until the weekend when you pretty much drink yourself numb and sleep the rest of the time you're not walking around IKEA listening to your wife bitch and moan because they ran out of grey soup bowls and now she can't make her Grandma's secret recipe for ärtsoppa."

Tao: Why have you shunned the media?

Isildur1: "You are pawns for your fascists overlords; you spread lies and make money pushing forth the propaganda for the military-industrial-entertainment complex. You make all of us high stakes players look like morons and reckless gamblers. We're the best of the best. Poker players are Picasso. We're poets like Cordozar Calvin Broadus. We're chefs like Chef Boyardee. I despise the entire poker media, nothing more than a bunch of wankers who can't even get a bloody suit correct. There's only fuckin' four, mate. How hard can it be? I hate all of you media morons, especially nosy writers."

Tao: Why are Scandis some of the best players in the world?

Isildur1: "It's political. I'm an anarchist and I thrive on chaos. The best way to disrupt society is to implode the entire financial system. I want to win money from capitalist American pigs and Eurotrash elite to bankrupt them and bring them to their knees. You have to understand something. I'm Swedish. I didn't pick that. I was born into it. I blame my parents who spawned me against my will. That's why I dropped out of school when I was ten years old to become a poker pro.

Scandis are the best players in the world because you boorish Americans are too full of yourselves to know how to read us. We're cooler than the other side of the your Gösa Pinhe pillow. We don't express ourselves like you over dramatic Americans. It's not in our nature. We deflect all of our emotions inward. I'm constantly depressed but unlike you Americans, I'm unable to sing the blues. That's why I play online poker. It's the hose that I attach to my soul and siphon out all of the negative energy. Every time I put a bad beat on someone, I'm transferring all of my pain onto my opponent.

When I win pots, the rush is glorious. I have to play with condoms on my penis because I ejaculate uncontrollably when I win mönsterpöttens worth more than your house."

Tao: What was the most money you ever lost in a prop bet?

Isildur1: "I went to a bar in Bucharest that had a brothel above it. The whores put on live sex shows. One of them placed golf balls in their vaginas and shot it across the room into a bucket. I bet Martonas $100,000 that one whore couldn't make six in a row at 3-1 odds. She queefed the first five balls perfectly into bucket. On her sixth and final ball, her trajectory was a little low and the ball hit the rim and shot up into the air...only to drop into the bucket. Talk about a bad beat. That Romanian vag cost me 300K."

Tao: What kind of music do you listen to when you play poker?

Isildur1: "It depends on who I play. If I'm up against Ivey, it's all Jay-Z, 2 Live Crew, and Teddy Pendergrass. Lots of heavy metal when I play against Patrik. Very loud. I listen to Radiohead and Hootie and the Blowfish when I'm heads up with Gus Hansen. I also prefer to listen to Chopin and Frank Zappa when I play against those bourgeois kids from Card Runners. When I play against durrrr, I want to get inside his head, so I listen to Abba and the soundtrack from Glee."
That's it for now. I'm gonna post more excerpts at a later date. I figured that I would publish these as soon as possible before Isildur1's attorneys slap Blogger/Google with a C&D order.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lables, Sections, and Best of Tao of Poker

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Due to the template migration, I had to say goodbye to some old features but I also embraced a couple of nifty ones. For example, every single post from this point out will be indexed with labels to assist in quick searches. This is a godsend because the old system was so fucked up that I'd go nuts trying to find something buried underneath the rubble.

I also built a pages that will house the Best of the Tao of Poker which is a highlight reel of sorts that contains my favorite posts since 2004. I also added a separate pages that contains links to some of the published articles I have written for clients.

If you're freaking out about not seeing your blog, rest assured, I didn't kill my blogroll completely. It's on a separate page that you should bookmark my blogroll page you specifically visited Tao of Poker as a portal to jump to other blogs. This would be the appropriate time to grovel for a link up or point out that I owe you a link-back. I've been horrendously bad about reciprocal linking on my blogroll over the last couple years because I'm a lazy pothead. Consider this an amnesty period. Leave me your URL in this comments section. If you meet the basic requirements, then I'll add you to the blogroll.

But let's get back to the labels, since that's all I've been doing over the last 48 hours. Labels. Labels. Labels. The sidebar on the right has a dozen or so of the more popular labels for Tao of Poker posts, which are listed in order of frequency.
Tao of Poker's Popular Categories:

Classic Tao (118) - These posts fall under the Best of Tao of Poker section.

2009 WSOP (82) - Self-explanatory.

Podcast (26) - Index of episodes of Tao of Pokerati with Michalski, Lost Vegas podcasts with Change100, random podcasts with Benjo, and a couple of cameos on the Poker Beat and other radio shows.

Philosophy (20) - Posts that contain a philosophical slant for advanced readers.

Tao All Stars (17) - Guest posts from some of your favorite scribes.

November Nine (16) - Self-explanatory.

Liz Lieu Tuesdays (7) - For fans of LL and anyone with an Asian female fetish.

Politics (7) - Rare topic of discussion for the Tao, but this is where you'll find jaded scribblings that might get me incarcerated for sharing my political views.

Born to Gamble (6) - My gambling memoir. One of my favorite series in the history of Tao of Poker.

Tao of Five (6) - Interview series with poker industry personalities.

Seven Deadly Sins (5) - A series about Las Vegas and the deterioration of morality.

AVN AEE (3) - Dispatches from the 2010 porn convention in Las Vegas.

The Vicodin Diaries (3) - Dispatches from Argentina.

2010 WSOP (1) - This will be a popular label in the upcoming months.
As you can see, I have not gotten around to labeling the WSOP prior to 2009 and that's a priority which I'll do during lulls in March Madness over the next week.

Thanks again for your patience and support during this migration.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Link Dump: WPT Final Table for Phil Hellmuth, Kevin Mathers, Kara Scott, Innovations, and More EPT Berlin Drama

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Heil, Hellmuth

Here are a few odds and ends to chow on before the week ends and the party begins. This is the last free weekend before March Madness kicks off next Thursday, so enjoy this semblance of peace and non-hoops.
Sign of the Apocalypse? Or is this the effect of the kinder and gentler Phil Hellmuth? Regardless, Hellmuth (aka God aka the coolest thing since sliced bread aka the world's greatest hold'em player aka God) advanced to the final table of the WPT Bay 101. Here's a video of Matt Savage with Hellmuth at the end of Day 2. Read Marty's recap of Hellmuth's pursuit of his first WPT title as he begins today's final table second in chips. (You Tube, PokerListings)

Oh, and you can follow along with BJ and Andy's live updates of the WPT Bay 101. I already have a huge bet that Hellmuth doesn't win. Anyone else want action? (World Poker Tour)

D'oh! Short-stacked Shamus scooped me and interviewed my buddy Ilya "ilushan" Gorodetsky before I could. Ilya, one of the top players and regarded as one of the best journalists from Russia, was going deep at the EPT Berlin during the moment of the robbery. Check out what Ilya and Shamus had to say about the Fright at the Feature Table. (Betfair Blog)

Let's be honest. Kevin Mathers is the real genius behind Pokerati and doing all the heavy lifting while Michalski gets all the accolades, hookers, and meth. Good to see Kevin Mathers finally get his due. Mathers, one of the mods at 2+2, was a guest on Jesse May's radio program, The Poker Show. Listen to Mathers here. I have never met Mathers, but it was cool to hear his voice. Keep up the great work, brah! (Pokerati)

Top 10 Online Poker Innovations is a two-part series written by Change100. Part 1 is up and it's an interesting read. (Poker News)

AlCantHang was the latest guest on the Gambling Tales podacst, spearheaded by Special K and Falstaff. Awesome work, gents. And three cheers for ACH. (Gambling Tales)

By the way, I enjoy anything that Kara Scott does, especially her dual blogging duties. (Card Runners, Party Poker Blog)

What's the point of a link dump, if I can't pimp my own stuff? In addition to Tao of Poker's facelift, my original blog got one too. Take a peek at the new and improved Tao of Pauly. I also revamped Truckin' and added a quick link to every short story that I've ever written for Truckin'. Lastly, you can view a complete list of Truckin' authors who shared their stories over the year.
That's it for now. Now, get the hell out of my office!

Photo Credit of Caesar: MeanGene

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Top 10 Ways to Annoy Chat Beggars

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The bottom feeders of the poker community are those annoying brokedicks who hang out in chat boxes at different online poker rooms while trying to acquire funds when railbirding your tournaments and cash games. The chat beggars bombard financially solvent players with harassing requests for spare change. Their low-brow antics used to be out of control, but support staff at various rooms have improved their response times in weeding out the undesirables by banning their chat privileges. Sort of like how Rudy Giuliani cleaned up the streets of New York City in the 1990s when the police began issuing quality of life tickets/citations to homeless window washers and squeegee men.

Sometimes, however, you're going to be face-to-face in an inevitable confrontation with the unwashed masses because you cannot escape the millions of downtrodden souls in the world of online poker. Degenerate gamblers go broke everyday and rather than try to run of your bankroll through the Jesus Ferguson Challenge (or God forbid, they actually get off their asses and get a real job), they resort to begging for leftovers.

The scam always starts off with a suspicious "nh" in the chat after you win an innocuous pot. That's the brokedicks sneaky way of trying to open up a conversation that will eventually end with, "Can you send me $5?"

Of course, I always ignore the initial response. Never dignify a bottom feeder because they will follow you around forever. The persistent beggars keep buttering you up with more words of encouragement in the chat box. If I don't recognize the name, I immediately assume that I'm dealing with a peasant seeking alms.

Some of my friends dive deep into uber-tilt when dealing with these relentless parasites and maggots. Other friends love to have a laugh at the chat beggars' expense. Me? It depends on how bored that I am. Generally as a rule, I ignore everything in the chat box and focus on multi-tabling. On rare instances, however, when I'm feeling a little saucy or mischievous, I will go out of my way to completely fuck with the chat beggars.

Here are a few things that I've done in the past...
1.Guilt trip... I have been using the Haiti earthquake as a most recent excuse not to give them money. "I just donated my extra money to Haiti victims. These people don't have homes. I only donate money to worthy causes." That's like using a flamethrower to swat a fly, but it is highly effective. Not even the most desperate of gamblers can win an argument against those suffering from a natural disaster or act of God. I first started this tactic in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and that was an easy way of brushing away the annoying gnats.

2. Sounds of silence... Tell the chat beggars that if they remain silent in the chat and not type another single word for twenty minutes, and then you will transfer them money. Most of the chat beggars know you are fucking with them and go away. A few will actually attempt to keep quiet for free money. Just make sure you log off before their silent time expires.

3. A Rabbi walks into a bar... Make the monkey dance. Get them to tell you a funny joke. Of course, in the end, the joke is on them because no matter what they say -- you're gonna retort with "Worst joke ever" or something snarky like that.

4. Obscure trivia... Make the chat beggars search the intertubes for the most random (and hard to research) fact like how many wooden teeth did George Washington have when he died, or how much does a whale's vagina weigh (in ounces). Hat tip to SnailTrax for the whale vag bit.

5. Bible quiz... Degenerate gamblers and other low lifes have a morbid fear of organized religion and Jesus Christ. Use that to your advantage. Tell the chat beggars that you will give them $1 for ever Bible passage they can accurately quote. I prefer to blurt out numbers from New Testament particularly Paul's letters to the Corinthians.

6. Check is in the mail... Tell them that you're low on funds and will happily mail them a personal check. Ask for their full name, SSN, and street address.

7. Craigslist cocksmugglers... Point them to the casual encounters section of Craiglist. Tell them to embrace their reality -- it's time to suck cock for buy-ins.

8. Essay portion of the exam... Tell the chat beggars to email you a 3,000 word essay on how they lost their bankroll. If they post a hand history, they will be disqualified. I've actually had someone do this and got pissed when I didn't send them the money.

9. Animal farm... Tell the chat beggars that you have a fetish for farm porn. Ask to see pictures of them performing lewd sexual acts with various animals. You'd be surprised at some of the answers you get. You'd even be more surprised at the pictures some of them will actually send.

10. BrökenDicken... Answer the chat beggar but only speak in Scandi. Use umlauts (an o with two dots over it. Like this... ö). Use lots of umlauts to confuse them, and they'll eventually go away. Beware, this trick not work with actual Norwegians, Danes, or Swedes who will start harassing you in their native tongues.
Now you'll be prepared to have a little fun at the expense of busto chat beggars.

Tao of Keno: PKPNF Day

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Today is a special holiday... Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot's birthday... which needs you need to light candles, listen to gentle music, and degen it up with Keno!

Check out this award-winning video where PKPNF shares the secrets to winning Keno. Yes, he truly epitomizes the Tao of Keno.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hump Day Link Dump: 10 Toughest MTTS, EPT Berlin Robbery Update, Annie Duke's NBC HU Interview, and 4-Colored Decks

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Rough day in the slums of Beverly Hills with the city of Angels morning the loss of one of the Coreys. Anyway, despite the dour mood here, there's plenty of poker news fluttering around. Here's a few items of interest...
EPT Berlin champion Kevin McPhee made the rounds on the early morning talk shows and TD Thomas Kresmer made a tough ruling about a hand in progress on the TV table during the panic. (Pokerati)

Benjo was doing commentary for the French version of EPTLive when the armed robbery took place. You can read his account (but it's in French and I can't read it so he could just be talking about hookers and strudel -- but go see for yourself). (Las Vegas, Off the Record)

Danny Boy explains to the masses what he thinks is the Top 10 Toughest Tournaments in the world. (Full Contact Poker)

Shamus waxes poetically about four-colored decks. Wait, there's more than two colors? What have you been smoking bro? (Hard-Boiled Poker)

Annie Duke won the NBC Heads Up Championship beating her long-time pal Erik Seidel. Her post-match interview was definitely... interesting to watch. Take a peek. (Wicked Chops Poker)

Check out Flipchip's NBC Heads Up Championship photo gallery. (LasVegasVegas)
That's it for now. I still have some renovating to do. Later...

Why Does Tao of Poker Look Different?

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Like an aging starlet in Hollyweird, it's time for the Tao of Poker to go under the knife for a much needed face lift. This hurts me as much as it hurts you. But hey, pop a Vicodin and I promise that you'll feel better.

Please pardon our appearance during reconstructive surgery. We're doing the best we can to provide a more modern and easier to navigate site that is both pleasant on the eyes and SEO friendly (which means I can make more money to support my gambling and ganja addictions). Oh, and not to mention -- my goal is to have Tao of Poker look sleek and load faster for iPhones, CrackBerrys, and other futuristic devices.

Thanks for your patience and continued support during this overhaul.

And many thanks to Timmy for helping out with some of the coding.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

All Things Reconsidered - Mastodon Weekend

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

It is hard to describe the feeling about driving around the back roads of South Carolina en route to an underground poker game while passing a white-steepled church every half-mile as few grand in greenbacks bulges out of your pocket.

A moment of anxiety set in. Do I tweet about this? Will anything I unleash to the intertubes be used against us in the court of law? What do I do if I get busted?

The little voice inside my head calmly reiterated emergency instructions...
Insist that you have a prescription for the pills. You never met The Mayor before. Don't rat on your friends. Just remember to keep your mouth shut. And, demand a lawyer before any further questioning.
We unloaded the gear off of the back of the Mayor's white truck or what the district attorney could potentially call Exhibit 1A. It took four of us to carry the heaviest poker table known to man up a half-curved flight of stairs. Four tables were set up in what would have been a private banquet area. The owner of Azia catered the event with the finest sushi that G-Vegas had to offer. Otis found a local sponsor for the food, Bustout Poker, who picked up the catering tab and added a few bucks and t-shirts to the prize pool. A simple rinky-dinky innocuous tournament turned into a fancy-schmancy event.

Before the Mastodon Weekend tournament began, I taught a couple of more of the crew how to play Big Deuce. After a quick tutorial, we had two tables going. Drizz jumped into the mix right away in a four-way match including myself, Bad Blood, and G-Rob. After cruising towards a victory in a short amount of time ($116 profit in only seven hands), G-Rob fell in love with the new game. He vowed to sing the praises of Big Deuce love and promised that by the next time I visited G-Vegas, that the Mayor would be spreading a couple of Big Deuce games in his card room. Bad Blood, on the other hand, suffered a brutal beat and would be wanting to erase that deficit the remainder of the weekend. I was not even in G-Vegas for three hours before everyone succumbed to the Big Deuce phenomena.

Everyone became so engrossed in Big Deuce that The Procedure was canceled without any fuss. I know. Shocker. That's how addictive the game is -- so much so that we'd postpone a trip to a strip club and crotch grinding with single moms on the afternoon shift. We probably saved ourselves a slew of cash.

The crew slowly assembled. Lots of hugs, handshakes, back slapping, and frenzied snippets of conversation before we stuffed our faces with sushi appetizers. We eventually headed into the tournament room. The mini-bar, manned by a couple of local hotties, was prepped for AlCantHang and stocked with SoCo.

Cards went in the air as I took my seat at a table with many familiar faces. Four tables. A few locals. Free flowing booze. Semi-drunk friends. Buzzing excitement.
My Starting Table:
Seat 1: The Dentist
Seat 2: Empty (later Lee Jones)
Seat 3: BG
Seat 4: Big Pirate
Seat 5: StB
Seat 6: Dr. Chako
Seat 7: Empty
Seat 8: Drizz
Seat 9: Your Hero
Seat 10: Frank the Local
3,000 chips to start. Typical blogger tournament. Loud. Lots of laughing. Gratuitous prop betting. Shots being passed around. Pics going off. Faces were buried into smart phones during the lull in action with the iPhone geeks bitching about Twitter not working properly. AlCantHang paid for rounds of shots for entire tables. Ten at a time, including one for him. The Mayor was running around collecting money for the last longer.

I found myself in a few hands with the cagey and aggressive Dr. Chako. I flopped a set of sixes against him and I shoved all in on the turn. He said that he had a flush draw and folded. I was glad that it held up. You always hate to be the first who busts in these events. Luckily, the guy next to me was the first to expire. PuraVida26 took his place.

I won another hand against Doc with A-J. I flopped an Ace and I pushed him off the pot. After both of those hands, my stack went well over 5K. Looking good until the waitresses drowned us in colored-vodka-concoctions. Continuous trays and trays of shots with the Mayor and/or AlCantHang tossing cash onto the tray and handing out shots after shot after shot.

The vodka was free courtesy of some sort of promotion. They also had t-shirts -- mostly women's sizes -- which is why Drizz was paid $40 to wear the skimpy shirt for the rest of the tournament. Yes, I had to sit next to him as he nipped out of his purple shirt for the next two hours in an outfit that was more suitable for a Gay Pride parade.

I knocked out BigPirate in a three-way pot. I opened with 8-8. The short-stacked local in Seat 1 shoved for a little bit more. BigPirate called and I also called. The flop was A-10-8. Big Pirate moved all in and I insta-called. He had A-Q and my set of ochos were ahead. Seat 1 held 9-7 and of course, he got there and tripled up. I busted BigPirate and won the side pot.

The breaks lasted thirty minutes, or so it seemed. I hung out in the parking lot with the young guys dealing the tournament. That's where I sampled the organic local produce and I was impressed with the quality and the generosity of my hosts. Southern hospitality. Nothing beats it. I suspect that the breaks were longer than scheduled because they were waiting on the dealers to return from their high-altitude training sessions.

After the break, I was a lit monkey and have no idea what happened but according to my notes, I won a hand with A-K against A-J and moved up to 7.5K.

At that point, the final two tables had redrew for seats. I was moved next to Roman, otherwise known as the Jesus Quintana of G-Vegas. If I were to describe Roman, I'd say think about the biggest douchey-looking guy in the poker room during your last session. Well, that's Roman. Mirrored sunglasses. Hipster cowboy shirt. Fake Rolex. You get the gist.

I had no idea about Roman's run-in with the law until after the tournament ended. He introduced himself and I blurted out that I heard all about him. He gave me one of those looks like "holy shit what the fuck did they tell you?!!?!?" as daggers shot out of his eyes. I smirked and said, "I'm messing with you. I have no idea who you are. I'm just a friend of a friend."

"So what do you do? Why are you here?"

"I'm a UFO chaser," I said. "That's why I'm in G-Vegas, investigating strange lights in the sky and all of those goat mutilations. You know anything about that? Anyway, one of the guys I interviewed invited me to the game."

I later found out that Roman is a registered sex offender in the state of South Carolina for exposing himself to a minor. Well how about that? A pervert, a pederast at my table.
What's a pederast, Walter?
Shut the fuck up, Donny.
I found myself involved with a hand with Roman. Battle of the blinds. I raised with 5-5 in the small blind and he shoved for a little more in the big blind with A-9. He flopped a nine and crippled me.

I busted out a few hands later. My A-8 was all in against Roman's J-J and G-Rob's K-Q. As it was scripted, G-Rob won the pot and busted both the pederast and myself on the same hand. Of course, it wasn't without any drama when Roman engaged in one of the worst attempts of angle-shooting that I have ever seen. That's why I don't feel bad about calling him out on his uncouth behavior.

Here's what happened. G-Rob opened. I shoved. Roman re-raised his entire stack minus a 100 chip which he kept on his cards as a capper. G-Rob asked for a count. He had only 400 more than Roman and announced he was all-in. Roman tabled his Jacks. G-Rob flipped over his K-Q. He flopped a King and it was all over. As the dealer pushed the pot to G-Rob, Roman insisted that he was not out. He still had one chip remaining he argued. Of course, we all know that was bullshit. When G-Rob re-raised all in, Roman had two choices -- fold and keep the 100 chip or call and toss the chip into the pot. Roman refused to leave the table. The dealer told him that he was out. Roman called the floor. The floor told him that he was out. Roman refused to leave. That's when Otis and the Mayor stepped in and told Roman to hit the road. He might be able to angle shoot local rednecks, but he was up against savvy poker players and a handful of scribes who actually cover tournament poker for a living. Nice try, dickwad. I can't believe he was trying to fuck with G-Rob.

I recanted the Roman angle-shooting story while I chowed down on the kick ass Asian-fusion food from Azia. That's when one of the locals clued me in on Roman's run in with the law.

Otis went on to beat Bad Blood for the championship in a heads-up match for the ages. Bam Bam finished in third place (and the highest out-of-town Mastodon Weekend finisher) and poor poor RamHole bubbled out of the money.

I sat down at a 1/2 NL cash game. Roman took a seat. I looked around my table -- lots of tough players including Curtis, Iggy, and G-Rob. I told Iggy that my goal was to stack the angle-shooter. He agreed that Roman was the softest spot at the table.

I won a monsterpotten early on when I stacked Roman. It was one of the most satisfying hands that I've ever played in my life. I know that it's a bad thing to play poker with a personal vendetta against a specific person because you're prone to making mistakes instead of playing objectively. But, you know, fuck that. Roman was my mark and I was going to take the pederast down.

We were playing with a $5 straddle. Roman opened for $15, something he had been doing the entire time. He was that guy who was raising every friggin' hand. A couple of players called including Iggy, G-Rob, and myself with Ah-9h in the small blind. The flop was 8-6-5 with two hearts. The flop hit me hard with a gutshot and a flush draw. I fired out at the pot. Roman raised. Everyone bailed. I shoved. He called with 9-9. He had the same gutter but I picked up more outs with the Ace. He wanted to run it twice. I told him no way. The Qh spiked on the river. I made my flush and stacked the sex offender.

I added a little more to my stack when I busted Curtis. His A-K was no match for my set of sixes. Shit, fitting that I flopped the anti-Christ twice in an illegal game just down the road from Bob Jones University. I heart irony. Hallelujah.

My profit was over $800 in less than an hour. That was before I lost two pots to that fucker G-Rob. We even ran it twice both times and I whiffed both times. Yikes. The slide continued when I lost a pot to a local. He opened for $25. I re-raised to $75 with Ad-Ah. He called. The flop was all diamonds and we got it all in. He had Kd-Qd and I couldn't catch up. Aces snapped off.

My profit slipped to under $200 so I decided to walk across the street to the sports bar. We closed out that bar and I opted to skip the Big Game that the Mayor ran. At that point, I had been up for well over 24 hours. I needed some rest before the Frolf tournament on Pub Crawl Trivia contest on Saturday. I bailed with G-Rob and passed out on the floor of his den.

I woke up a couple of hours later to G-Rob's family dog licking my elbow. I fired up Twitter just at the exact moment that a couple of friends who were working in Berlin had tweet'd that the EPT Berlin was currently being robbed by armed men in ski masks. Sweet Jesus, nothing happens in the poker world for several months and the second that I decided to embark on an old-fashioned bender -- the biggest poker news story in the last year pops up.

We headed out to the local frolf park and I played a quick round with Timmy and G-Rob. The rest of the crew (TripJax, Drizz, Bobby Bracelet, BrainMC, and Skidoo) showed up and I played another 18 holes. My arm was sore, but I knew the course after having just played it. G-Rob invented a way to gamble on the round of frolf and he created a frolf/poker hybrid tournament. We all ponied up money. Winner takes all. If we could get a 4 or lower on each hole, we'd get one card out of the deck. At the end of 18, whoever had the best 5-card poker hand wins the entire pot. G-Rob is a ringer (and semi-pro frolfer) so he had to get 2 or under per hole in order to get a card. With seven of us, we ran out of cards on the back nine and had to discard one card each hole.

I was ahead with three pair (A-A-8-8-6-6) at one point until Bobby Bracelet took the lead with a Wheel. I had four diamonds so I was drawing to a flush on the last three holes. I didn't earn a card on 16. I did on 17 but whiffed. It all came down to the last hole. Bobby Bracelet had a much better tee shot but I played it safe and kept it on the fairway. I managed to make a four. G-Rob said that there were only three diamonds left in the deck. He shuffled. I made my selection. Nine of diamonds. Bam. Sucked out on the final hole to win Frolf/Poker.

The highlight of the round -- Skidoo aced #14. Yep. Never seen a hole-in-one on a frolf course before and it was a moment of beauty. I'm bummed out that I didn't get it on tape.

After frolf and before the pub crawl, I played another session of Big Deuce with Bad Blood and G-Rob. That time, I prevailed with a nice score in just 13 hands. I had an $86 swing in three hands to seize momentum. The G-Vegas boys are hooked.

* * * * *

To read an expanded entry about Mastodon Weekend including hijinks about the Pub Crawl Trivia Challenge, head over to Tao of Pauly to read The Mastodon Chronicles.

I also uploaded a brief Mastodon podcast that I recorded with Change100 yesterday morning. It's called Mastodon Postscript.

You can check out Mastodon Weekend photos here.

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