Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hot Sauce

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I was bored, so I put in the bet.

Sunday morning. I sat in the well-lit living room of what will soon be my apartment in San Francisco. My girlfriend was still sleeping and I had the entire place to myself. I sunk into the couch and tried to imagine what football season would be like in the new flat. One of the benefits of the narrow Victorian architecture was an elongated hallway, which ran the entire length of the building. Lots of space to pace when sweating bets.

The middle of August is one of the slowest time of the year for degenerates in American professional sports. The preseason football games had yet to begin and I craved a taste for action. Any action. I had not wagered on sports since I left Las Vegas. Although I fled Vegas as fast as I could, I logged a decent summer playing cash games (the Pokerati mixed game at the Palms was a blessing), but I made a killing riding the Mavericks' streak in the NBA playoffs and also fading the public's sentiment for the Heat in the Finals. I also dabbled in baseball courtesy of a system from AlCantHang, but that was all before the All Star break, before variance eventually caught up to us. By middle of the WSOP, I stopped visiting the sportsbook windows and sat on my NBA profit, which I eventually used to fund the move (from Los Angeles to San Francisco), and pay for trips to Colorado and Chicago.

A little taste.

I flipped through the cable stations and tried to familiarize myself with the channels. I'm not much of a TV junkie anymore, aside from watching a few reality shows about addictions (Hoarders and Intervention). I watch a shit ton of sports, but probably only watch about 50% of sports on actual TV with my laptop(s) picking up the rest of the slack. I have a theory that the ability to watch almost any sporting event online increases the chances of me betting on it.

I'm not addicted to the deviancy of betting to win money. Rather, I prefer the physical and visceral attributes of betting on sports which can only be achieved by watching the event as it unfolds in real time. I've sweated games via radio and constantly refreshing Gamecast -- and even those experiences don't compare to the physical stimulation I get when watching a game I bet on.

Then again, nothing can be more boring in life than watching two teams you don't care about. That's why fantasy sports added another reason to watch meaningless games. The primary reason I'm not that into soccer is that I maintain my distance to the sport because I'm afraid that if I catch the bug... then I'd get completely hooked on a sport that is always on. Soccer (er, football) is the most played sport on the planet (except pocket pool), so that means there's always a game on at any given time, and someone with a propensity to bet on sports like myself would lose his entire life savings if I showed any interest into soccer. As is, I only bet during the World Cup (I made a killing last year betting Spain as per a tip from Benjo) and whenever I'm hanging out with Brits for an extended amount of time and I tail their picks.

I love any sports you can wager on. Otherwise, if I'm forced to watch two random teams or a random sporting contest, then I find it utterly boring and completely meaningless. Ah, that's why I love proposition wagering because it's the gambler's hot sauce. Sprinkle it anywhere, and you have an extra spicy time -- from betting on where flies will land on a pile of shit, to betting on which bags come out first at airport baggage claim, to betting on the WNBA.

Hot sauce.

Anyway, so I feel your pain if you don't like sports, or only have a passion for a particular sport and you get stuck sweating games because your friends/family happens to love a different sport.

Example... the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was early in the baseball season and I was sweating a game on my girlfriend's iPad. She had no clue, but I bought an app with her credit card that allowed me to stream games. I got a tip on the Pirates, so I bet them and sweated the game. They were ahead until their bullpen blew it in late innings. I shot a text to Mean Gene, a Pittsburgh resident, about the demise of his lowly Pirates. He wrote back that he knew I had bet on the game because "why the hell would a Yankees fan, who was living in LA, sweat a Pirates game unless he had money on it."

Mean Gene is a smart dude. But he understands hot sauce.

Sorry for the tangent... let's return to the original flashback to a sunny Sunday morning in San Francisco. I sunk into the couch and flipped through the cable TV until I came across the San Francisco Giants pre-game show. Ah, yes...fear the beard. I had a flight to catch later that evening and was just killing time before I went to the airport. I did what any sensible human did on a Sunday morning -- I scorned religious service and bet on the Giants. When in Rome...

The Giants prevailed and I won my first bet since I left Vegas. I was more thrilled that the three hours I wasted watching a Giants game was worth the investment. But that small bet was just be the beginning of a remarkable streak. I started off 1-0 with the Giants bet and ten days later, I ran up my bankroll to new heights after a 13-3 clip.

I stuck to a few basics and rode two hot teams -- Milwaukee and NY Yankees. Holy shit, the Brew Crew has been on fire and I've managed to step off the gas on the rare nights they lost. I also faded a couple of struggling teams -- the Mets and the Twins. Sounds so simple, but at this point in the lengthy baseball season, it gets hot as balls in August and teams with no chance give up and go into zombie mode. So when a demoralized team gets behind early, they have no fight in them and practically concede a loss. Timing and psychology are just as important as who takes the mound at this point in the season.

I know that by writing about a streak will thereby end said streak, which is cool because I'm pulling the plug on the baseball betting for a while (maybe for the entire regular season). I strengthened my roll just in time for the NFL season and in the meantime, I'm shifting back into day trading mode. Yeah, without legalized online poker and scant offerings as a poker writer, my options to earn a living wage are slim to none. I dabbled in day trading and investing in commodities earlier in the year and had a nice score in silver, but stopped when I moved to Vegas for the WSOP. Now that my summer vacation is almost over, I've been slipping back into a weird routine of going to bed early to wake up at the crack of ass to monitor the markets. Trading hours on the West Coast are a fucking bitch.

I'm trying to snag one last score before I get out of the game and ride out the financial shit storm. Don't all crooks attempt "one last score" in heist movies before they get sucked into a suicide mission?

The summer slowly fades and baseball becomes an afterthought to the looming football season. Without online poker giving everyone a steady fix, I have a feeling that local bookies are going to make a killing in the upcoming months. If you're looking for hot sauce and don't live in Vegas, not too many people will be slinging it these days.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Fat Guy and Fluxer

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Life is incredibly precious, short, and confusing. Depending on the time of day, life walks the fine line between heaven and hell. Cherish what you have.

I'm writing this post with sincere sadness and grief about two old school poker bloggers -- one took his life a few weeks ago and another has come to face to face with his own mortality. If you know what the WPBT is, then you should sit down because I'm about to reveal a bit of heavy-handed information.

First of all, I want to point you out to the Fat Guy's courageous post revealing his battle with cancer. He wrote it in the typical Fat Guy format -- no bullshit. He's always been a straight shooter since the first day I've read TFG.

Almost nightly, I used to play online poker with the Fat Guy circa 2004 on Party Poker and Empire Poker. Fun times for sure during the halcyon days of online poker. Most recently during the WSOP, I exchanged a series of hysterical emails with the Fat Guy because he's the tech guy behind the Pokerati empire. You can only imagine the hilarity that ensued when Fat Guy and I tried to figure out how to upload raw files of Tao of Pokerati episodes onto the server. Long story short -- he was drunk when giving instructions and I was too baked upon reading them -- but we finally cracked skulls long enough and solved the problem.

Anyway, stop by the Fat Guy's site today and see if you can help him out. The Fat Guy is truly one of the few good guys I've met in poker.

Now onto even more depressing news...

If you don't know Fluxer... he was the blogger behind Wired Pairs (site has been taken down for over a year or more). Fluxer took his life a few weeks ago. The news was startling but did not come as a surprise because those close to him know he struggled with the simplicities of life for some time now. Just like Veneno, I've been wrought with guilt because I might have been able to pull him out of his doldrums.

Anyway, Veneno created a tribute site for Fluxer. So, if you've ever played online poker with Fluxer, please stop by. RIP Fluxer.

* * *

My apologies about being such a Debbie Downer on a Monday of all days.

Rest assured, I'm on the tail end of a vacation and will be returning to regular posting on Tao of Poker shortly. We have a plethora of sportsbetting opportunities on the horizon with the baseball playoffs and the start of the NFL season. In addition, I'll be playing more cash games in the future and detailing my poker progress with as much jaded snark as I can conjure up. Until then, I have to finish up packing up my office, because I'm on the move...

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Phamily Poker Classic 2

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I've took my customary week off after the WSOP to catch up on sleep and mull over the future and figure out what I'm going to do with myself the rest of 2011. But now, the fun begins. I about to embark on a two-week excursion and collect material for an upcoming book about a band from Vermont named Phish. I'm hitting the road to embed myself with hippies in the traveling circus, but there's going to be a little poker involved when the tour stops in Tahoe.

I'm playing in a charity tournament and the organizers even made me a bounty player!

Next Wednesday (August 10th), the Phamily Poker Classic 2 will take place at Harvey's in Lake Tahoe.

The Phamily Poker Classic 2 is a charity tournament with 50% of the buy-in being donated to the Mockingbird Foundation. The first event was held at the Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City during Halloween, when Phish played a three-night run on the Boardwalk. The tournament was a huge success, so much so there's a second Phamily Poker Classic tournament that will kick off next Wednesday in Lake Tahoe.

Buy-in for the Phamily Poker Classic $120 and there's still spots available. Click here to buy in.
The final table players get a cut of the prize pool in addition to some cool prizes.

FYI... I'm a bounty player which means if you knock me out of the tournament, you get an autographed copy of my book Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers, and the World Series of Poker.

For the first event in October, I played along with Benjo and Irongirl. I busted very early last time around, but I hadn't slept in two days! I'm hoping to get some rest before the tournament go much deeper this year.

Full details on the Phamily Poker Classic 2 can be found here.

Click here
for tournament rules.

See you next Wednesday in Tahoe. I hope everyone is not that spun out and sobers up (enough) in time to play some cards.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Return of Liz Lieu Tuesdays: Happy Birthday Edition

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Happy birthday to a dear friend. Liz Lieu was one of the first people I met when I first got into poker. Both of our lives have taken many odd, strange, and wonderful turns, but we didn't get to where we are today without some pitfalls and tragedies. Alas, Liz is truly a survivor in a brutal industry and a legitimate success story.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday, Liz!

All photos courtesy of Liz Lieu.