Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Sink or Swim: The Biggest Night of My Life
"You play to win the game." - Herman Edwards
I went to bed at 10:30pm last night. I have not gone to bed that early since the 3rd grade. Why did I do that? I wanted to get a good night's rest. I woke up at 4:30am to watch a Yankees game, so I decided that six hours would be a great night's sleep for me. You see in less than 15 minutes I will be playing in a WPT satellite on Party Poker. If I win, I walk away with a $27,000 package and a seat at the World Poker Tour Championship at the Bellagio. I have been playing poker for almost half my life, but now I find myself with a tremendous opportunity to get a shot at the big time.

I have been trying to break into the writing game in Hollwood for several years. And I had two or three chances, or meetings that would make or break my career, if you will... and none of those compare to the shot I'm getting tonight at 9pm. I'm not trying to over dramaticize or overhype the upcoming poker tournament, rather I'm honestly looking at what at's stake. Since I won the seat last Wednesday, I had the aloof approach of "it's going to be an ordinary day at the tables." However, after some recent discussions with some friends, I have come to conclusion that I had almost overlooked my chance at the big time.

Signor Ferrari recently wrote me:
I am guessing that this will be the most serious tourney that you have played in so far...
He's right. Since I started playing poker seriously over a year ago, tonight will be the biggest event I have ever played in. And you know what? I want to win it all. I'm not looking to play well or make it to the Final Table. I play to win... and I will not settle for anything less than first place. Tonight is the biggest night of my life.

Are my expectations too high? Am I setting myself up to seriously fall short of my expectations in a tournament where I have no chance of winning in a seat in an even bigger tournament where I'd be pegged as Dead Money? For some of you... the answer would be yes.

Alas, I am not you. And thank God I am not. I'm not content with playing it safe or being comfortable. I take risks. I put myself on the line. I thrive on pressure. I do not shy away from competition. I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself when I write and when I play poker. I will not settle for second best. If you allow that way of thinking seep into your brains, then you become lazy and complacent. None of this passive-positive-reinforcement, "Try your best!" bull-shit. That won't suffice in the cut throat business of high stakes poker. There's no way I am going to allow the pussification of America and all this political correctness sway how I approach tonight. I am grateful for my time in the trenches on Wall Street. If there's one thing I learned during my time there...
Second place is for pussies.
I will not lie to you... I will be devestated if I do not win tonight. I cannot recall a more important event in my life that came across at such an unexpected time. It shows you that no matter what happens in life, you need to be prepared to step it up when that time arises. The time is tonight, and will I bring it and show everyone how I play poker? Or will I wilt in fear at the first glimpse of the tremendous shadows of the all-in bullies?

Life comes down to a few moments. What will you do what you get your shot? Do you raise or fold? Do you walk away and avoid these sorts of confrontations that test all your abilities? They push you to the limits and you finally see what type of person who you really are. I have led a fortunate life. I have lived an opportunistic life. I've had the greatest experiences in my life because I was willing to test myself under the most difficult of circumstances. Tonight will be on such instance. The pressure is immense. My armpits sweat profusely when I think about the ramifications of tonight's game.
"The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim." - Sun Tzu
Am I prepared? Have I played enough poker against good players? Have I been tested mentally? Did I do all my homework and read every poker book ever printed? All those questions will be answered tonight... and even if I am prepared, I'm still at the mercy of the Poker Gods. Will cards fall my way tonight? WIll I have to make too many tough decisions early? Will I be able to capitalize on my opponents mistakes? Will I be able to implement my game plan when things go horribly wrong? Time will tell.Tune in to Party Poker tonight to find out.

HDouble from the infamous poker blog The Cards Speak recently wrote:
Tuesday night P-money will attempt to parlay his $24 into a 25K seat at the WPT Bellagio championship, after winning his way into the $325 satellite with a 3rd place (of 135) finish in the super satellite last week. Picture Pauly bluff raising Gus Hansen all-in at the final table of the WPT championship. Mind-boggling, and possible. Good luck my man. TV ain't ready for you Pauly!
I wanna piece at Gus and Phil Ivey and Phil Hellmuth and everyone of those guys and gals I have seen on the WPT on TV. All I have to do is win tonight and I'll get my shot to play against the best poker players in the world. Somedays, I know I belong there. Will tonight prove me that I am right?

Before I go, Coach wrote me some sound words of encouragement:
My best advice would be to lay back and do nothing for as long as possible and let the field winnow itself down. That, and, resist the temptation, even with AA or KK to go all in before the flop.

You have a lot of players you'll have to get through. Just because you double up and knock someone out with AA or KK holding up early on hardly guarantees you a WPT slot. I would let the fools and their money part themselves without your involvement, and concentrate on stealing blinds and working with good flops for as long as possible.
Alas, Coach is right. I will play smart and play passive early, and when the time comes in the middle rounds, I will wake up and switch gears and start making some moves to begin my run.

Again, second place is for pussies. I'm going to go all the way tonight. I'm playing this to win it all. Bellagio... Las Vegas... here I come. Lock your doors. Hide your daughters. My name is Pauly. If I'm at your table, I'm going to kick your ass silly. I will make you cry. Get fuckin' ready. I'm going to make history tonight.

I posted this entry to my regular blog earlier today...

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