Monday, February 28, 2005

Monday Bonus Whores and Other Incoherent Stuff
"I don't necessarily agree with everything I say." - Marshall McLuhan
Today is the last day for you to be eligible for the 100% sign up bonus for Check and Raise. There is no time limit to clear your bonus. Visit here for more details.

Party Poker is offering up February reload bonus up to $200. You have until March 2 to sign up and have one week to clear your bonus (7x rake hands).

I have been squeezing poker in between writing binges. Here's what happened the last few days:

22 Feb @ 11:30am EST... On Poker Stars, I played in a Heads Up tourney for New York State using 50 FPP in order to try to win a seat at The World Cup Finals. I lost to a young Phishead from Long Island. I slowplayed 10-10 preflop and limped in from the small blind. The kid flopped two pair with 92o. I lost most of my lead and was behind after that. How the state tourneys work, you play heads up matches and if you win, you advance to the next round and wait until all the previous round's matches are complete. That continues until they get to the final 8. Those guys won seats into the next level. There were almost 60+ players and I had an early first round exit. Poker Stars will be giving one more seat away (they'll give 3 to the top 3 state qualifiers) and holding a tournament on Friday and Saturday (buy-in = 50 FFP) to find out who will represent TeamUSA in the World Cup Finals.

In a weird coincidence, my friend Stormy was also playing. He got a bye in the first round and lost his second round match. I had not talked to him in a long time. Man, Stormy and I have a ton of gambling history together. We played a lot poker with some other guys that we both worked with. We had OTB phone accounts and would call in bets on the ponies from work. We even took trips down to Atlantic City together to play black jack and roulette.

23 Feb @ 11:47pm EST... I played two $25 Turbo SNGs on Poker Stars and was whooped by the bad beat stick both times finding out the hard way why a lot of folks refer to Poker Stars as River Stars. I had gotten all my money in the pot on the flop with the best hand both times. Nothing I could have done. Riverstars, indeed.

24 Feb @ 2:14pm EST... I found myself caught up in the middle of a Check and Raise slaughterfest trying to clear my bonus. I fared well at the $3/6 table but on my other $2/4 table, I got my ass kicked like a lethargic Leon Spinks. My nemesis was a drunk Canuck from Saskatoon. He saw every hand to the river.

25 Feb @ 11:30pm EST... I played in a multi table tourney at Party Poker, a $10 Satellite for the $1 Million Guaranteed. Top 8 places paid seats and I finished an unimpressive 225 out of 540. I had a few railbirds including April, Spaceman, Sir Waffle, Derek and Archetype. Thanks for sweating guys.

26 Feb @ 11:18am EST... Omaha 8 with AlCantOmaha and Bad Blood on Party Poker. I flopped sets three times inside a half hour and lost on every one as expected. AlCantOmaha is tearing up the Omaha tables. He took second place in an Omaha 8 multi on Full Tilt. Then Bad Blood placed in a $50 multi. Good job, bros.

26 Feb @ 10:35pm EST... I randomly picked a NL table on Party Poker and Hank987 was sitting right next to me! Coincidence. Within the hour we had railbrds and bloggers on the list including BG, Helix, April, Sir Waffle, and The Poker Geek. Oh and this past Thursday, Hank987 took second place ($3,000) out of 250 in a $80 + 20 tournament at Foxwoods. Congrats! I invited him to write up his run for a future post. Stay tuned.

My buddy Jay (Senor's brother) played a $100 multi on Poker Stars with Tom McEvoy. Here's what went down and how the WSOP champ river'd him:
"Last night for the hell of it I decide to play a $100 multi table tourney on Poker Stars, and whose at my table, 1983 World Series of Poker Champion Tom McEvoy. I played with him for 2 hours until I got moved to another table. Other then some blind stealing back and forth, we only played one big pot against each other. He was short stacked pretty early on, had about 950 with the blinds at 50/100. The pot is folded to him and he raises to 250 from the cutoff. I find JJ in the big blind (with about 2000 chips) and figure to have him beat so I reraise him 1000, putting him all in. He thinks for a few seconds and calls me with A10o. Of course he spikes his A on the river to take the pot and double up. A WSOP champ sucked out on me!!!! In the end though, I finished 22 out of 275 (tourney paid top 27) and he finished 24th. Didn't make much $, but at least I got a decent story out of the deal."
Congrats, Jay!

Thomas Hayden Church and Paul Giamatti in Sideways

In other news, I won my friend Jenna's office Oscar pool. First place won a bottle of Pinot in homage to Sideways.

So, I'll be clearing my bonus at the tables on Party Poker over the next week while the big city gets a few snow storms. I have been on a bad streak for the month of February and I'll cover that carnage in a future post. I'm so happy that March is around the corner. Conversely, my brother has tripled his Party Poker bankroll using the hit and run method at the 6 max NL tables. I hope he writes that up this week.

By the way, I wish I was this guy! Oh yeah, and this guy!

Recent Poker Playing Music...
1. Shuggie Otis
2. The Grateful Dead
3. Ben Harper
4. Velvet Underground
5. Sam Phillips

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Miami Part II: Sunshine and Daydreams
"The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past." - William Faulkner
19 Feb 2005, Miami, FL... I woke up and wrote for a while avoiding all temptations to check my email. I sat outside in the early morning sun to read the local paper. When Jerry woke up, we headed off to the Hard Rock in Hollywood to meet up with Shappy. We all went to college together many moons ago in Atlanta and have mellowed out over the years. If you think I'm crazy today, you should have met me thirteen years ago. I was a disheveled lunatic. I think it was the steady diet of Taco Bell, Jim Beam, and mushrooms that drove me insane back in the pre-internet days when Kurt Cobain was still snorting China White and I had a penchant for young, promiscuous, self-destructive, alcoholic Southern girls who could have walked straight off the pages of a Tennessee Williams manuscript.

I first started playing a lot of cards in college when I lived in my fraternity house. We played a lot of Spades before and after dinner and even held house tournaments. My Spades partner was my good friend Jon Schanzer. During the long, hot, boring summers, we'd often play Spades to break up the down time in between hitting golf balls off our front lawn into the parking deck across the street or visiting one of the many Gentleman's Clubs all over Atlanta (ok, they were strip bars... Cheetah, 24K, Tops N Tails, even the Gold Club and my favorite The Pink Pony). Again this was way before the internet was more accessible and we didn't have cable TV.

We played poker too. Lots of it. Our wild sessions would include guts games like Four Barrel, Kings and Little Men, seven-card stud, and five-card draw. No hold'em at all. Jerry used to host games at his apartment. After we got the girls across the hall hooked, two tables were going on nightly. The games would last until sunrise and we'd try to get Smooth the three-legged cat stoned. Cards was an activity we participated in frequently in college, and that's where the origins of my journey as a card player began. We even took trips down to the riverboats in Biloxi, Mississippi (Casino Magic anyone?) to play blackjack and Caribbean Stud when they first legalized gambling down there.

Man, I should write a book about my gambling life during my frenetic early twenties living in the heart of Dixie Land. I have hundreds of stories about endless card games, skipping school to follow the Grateful Dead all over the Southeast in a hallucinogenic fog, and sordid tales about drunken binges during Mardi Gras and Jazzfest in New Orleans. By the way Shappy was a loose cannon in college and could party it up like a rock star. In his apartment, he had a photocopy machine and his pet iguana named... Iggy. I can't make shit like that up. Shappy had a lizard named Iggy and that fucker ended up eating my stash... sort of. That's a long story and due to legal reasons, I cannot go into the specifics of Iggy, the marijuana munching iguana. Those are some warm memories and deserve to be preserved in a novel someday.

Anyway, back to the Hard Rock casino... Shappy arrived early and met us inside at the poker room. We walked through the outdoor mall filled with different shops, art galleries, and restaurants to get to the poker room. It was 11am and everything was still opening. When we got to the sign in desk, we requested to sit together at the same table. We had to wait until they decided to open up a new table.

The wait wasn't too long, maybe a half hour. In the meantime, Shappy showed me his "Fish" ID. He laminated a cheat sheet of hand rankings. He printed it up on his computer at home. I couldn't tell if he was trying to act like a fish or was really a fish. He didn't care. He was there to have fun and he was content to loose a couple of hundred dollars. He said he had been playing on Party Poker and had a regular game at his club on Tuesdays. He wanted to get me into the $1000 buy in game. It sounded really juicy but I was leaving before then. Next time.
The lineup:
Seat 1: Judge Smails
Seat 2: Morty Seinfeld look-a-like with mask
Seat 3: Captain Stubbing
Seat 4: Looked like the Cop from The Village People
Seat 5: UM Jersey wearing Rebuy Guy
Seat 6: Mr. Know It All
Seat 7: Young black guy, offensive lineman
Seat 8: Pauly
Seat 9: Jerry
Seat 10: Shappy
That was the pretty much the lineup that sticks in my head. We played at a new table, straight $2. I bought in for $100 because I knew it was going to be a wild ride. I bankrolled Jerry and he had $50 on the table. Shappy started with $100. In the first orbit I had KK twice. Pocket Hellmuths told me to raise preflop both times. I got eight callers once and lucky for me, no aces fell on the flop. Well, both held up and I had an early lead. We ordered a first round of drinks, a Corona for me and Jack Daniels and diet coke for the guys.

I wasn't paying that much attention to the table but a couple of guys were calling everything. I was joking around and catching up with Shappy. I played a few hands and somewhere in the middle of our second round of drinks I declared that I was going to play every hand for a full orbit. I started with the big blind a KTs and ended up playing or seeing 14 straight flops. AK lost and I won a huge pot with 57s when I flopped an open ended straight flush draw. I got a little excited because the Hard Rock offers a bad beat jackpot. I missed my straight flush but still won the pot with a baby flush. I had doubled up my buy-in during my see every flop experiment. I was tempted to keep it up, but opted to take a 15 minute break and grab a slice of pizza from the food court and called Derek.

I can't recall much from the middle part of the session. I stopped taking notes and was bleeding my stack away on the rake and pots more so than losing to any of the other players at the table. Shappy and Jerry got a kick out of what I'd say to female dealers after I won a pot. While I scooped my pot, I'd toss a $2 chip to the dealer and say, "Thanks, Sweetie."

The wondered if I would say that to any male dealers. I told them I just say, "Thanks, Honeybunch."

My favorite dealer was a guy who looked like a young, homosexual version of Ving Rhames. He dealt fast and was on top of the action. He definitely picked up the pace of the game. When it was your turn to bet he'd chirp, "Two to you!" and if you folded he'd smile and say, "Too-da-loo!"

There was one funny moment when the young black kid next to me, who was the size of an offensive lineman, went heads up with Shappy. At one point Shappy pulled out his sunglasses and put them on. The kid couldn't stop laughing and they battled all the way to the river. I think Shappy rivered the guy and after he scooped the pot he pulled out his cheat sheet and showed it to the kid. I tried not to laugh.

Shappy's Cheat Sheet

We had a new waitress, a hot blonde named Haley, of course. I couldn't tell if she was busting on me for switching to ginger ale instead of beer or if she was just joking around. Jerry and Shappy knocked back cocktails at a fast pace. Jerry had nearly lost all of his buy in and I gave him another $50 to rebuy. He won a big pot right away when he flopped a set with 44. He also took down a nice pot with KK. All three of us won with pocket Hellmuths.

The last third of the session was all highlighted by the drunken antics of Shappy throwing his money around. Our table was located in the back near the tournament tables. We were along the wall, and my back in Seat 8 was against the rail. At any given time I'd turn around and there would be a group of five or six people standing there. Sometimes I'd ham it up and show them my hole cards. Never got The Hammer though. That would have been fun.

When a couple of railbirds tried to hit on Haley, our hot waitress, Shappy leaned back in his chair and snapped at the middle-aged tourists from Long Island, "That's as close you're gonna get, buddy!"

They were quiet for a few seconds until one of them finally shouted out, "Go back to losing your money."

One of their friends was sitting in Seat 2. And that idiot cracked my KK with AJ when he river'd me. At that point I went on a cold streak. All my good hands were cracked. 10-10 twice, AK, and JJ. Jerry had stormed back and was past breaking even.

In the last hour Shappy started overtipping the dealers and ordered more drinks. We were heads up at one point. He had nothing. I knew that. But I had nothing either. I had 46s. He had 59o. I flopped bottom pair and he caught a 5 on the river. My 6s beat his 5s! Insane. That drew grumbles from the table. He ended up pissing everyone off when he gave one dealer a fat tip when she left. He was raising every pot preflop and seeing everything tot he river. He won four pots in a row... each time on the river. He got Mr. Know It All on tilt when his KK were cracked by Shappy's ATo. Even Shappy stung me with his magical river work. My AJs lost to K6o. He caught a four flush on the river to beat my two pair.

I was down about $50 and I figured that covered the generous tips, bar tab, and the rake. Not bad for seven and half hours of poker. I was there to have fun and hang out. It was well worth the price since I had a blast with two old friends. Jerry won $25 too! I took my cut. Shappy dropped nearly $300. Almost $80 of that was in tips to the two last dealers. If you count all the other tips for all the pots he won and drinks he bought with his chips, I'd say $150 went to the house and the staff in one way or another. Only half his stack went to the other players.

Jerry at the grill and Pauly making cocktails

We got back to Jerry's where the wives were hanging out. Jerry fired up the grill and prepped dinner: shrimps, steaks, corn, mac and cheese, and sausage. I mixed a few cocktails for everyone and we were ready for a late night feast.

After dinner, Jerry started a game of dominos. I haven't played since college and forgot the basics.

It's not a tough game and I picked up right away. There's limited strategy involved and I was paying more attention to drinking my beer and talking to Shappy. We played five handed and Shappy's wife Annette ended up edging out Sarah for the win. I almost came in last place too.

It's always good to party and gamble and BBQ with old friends, especially ones who live in a warmer climate. Whenever I hang out with Jerry... it's all good.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Fear and Loathing Friday: Vegas, The Pope, and Imposters
"For every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampeled." - Hunter S. Thompson

I woke up this morning and found a $288 roundtrip flight on JetBlue from JFK to Vegas in early June. I snagged two tickets for me and Derek. Yes, we now have plane tickets purchased for the next WPBT event. All I have to do is find us a room. That's my goal this weekend.

BG and I reached a new low in proposition betting. I called him up last night and suggested we gamble on when The Pope is going to die. He picked 11 days from now. I'm a horrible McCatholic. We are both going to hell.

The Tao of Poker Imposter

If you see anyone playing under the screen name tao_of_poker, especially on Ultimate Bet... it is not me! That clown is an imposter and tried to take credit for my hard work on the net. Ingrate! I do not play on UB. On Check and Raise and PokerStars I play under: DrPauly. I have a secret name on Empire and if you are nice to me, I'll tell you my Party Poker name. Those are the only four sites I play on these days. If you see anyone who plays under TaoPoker or tao_of_poker... that person is an imposter! Believe me that I'm sure I've sat at your table a few times on Party or Empire and you had no idea it was me. April was the first one to clue me in on him. I heard that G-Rob was busting his balls! Here's what Daddy had to say about playing with The Imposter:
I went ahead and tagged him if for no other reason than someone to berate profusely when I'm running bad. Chances are he's just a big fan of yours. Probably lays in bed at night and masturbates to Pauly Paintings. Probably dubbed his wanker "McGrupp." Imitation is supposedly the most sincere form of flattery. Too bad he blew donkey sack at poker.
Misty Mountain Hop

My blogs hit the height of popularity at the beginning of February with over 6,000 visitors a week. How did I handle that moment? By freaking out, of course. Three years ago, I couldn't get five people to read something I wrote without seriously bribing or blackmailing them. Today, I am infecting minds all over the globe. I seriously considered walking away from blogging because I found myself spending more time on my blogs and reading blogs than working on my own personal writing projects and living life. After picking up a few freelance gigs this past month and on the cusp of taking a step forward in my relationship with everyone's favorite elevator button heiress, I had less time on my hands.

During the past few weeks, I took a few mini breaks and a brief hiatus. I worked on my fotoblog and got back into photography in addition to writing more for myself. I used my down time in Miami to think about the direction of this blog. When Hunter killed himself on Sunday, I was forced again to rethink my future as a writer. I am still in a mode of self-examination and I dunno if I will have specific answers in the next few days. I definitely feel like I am at a crossroads in my wild life. Suffice to say, I am thinking about writing much more than poker which makes me feel a lot better about myself when I wake up each day although I am still long strides away from achieving the perspicacity of my existence on this planet.

Do not worry. I will continue blogging. However, I have to scale back the time and effort I put into each. I had some ideas about taking weekends off from blogging in an attempt to prevent myself from burnout. We shall see if I can hold up to that in March. Even if I take one day off a week, that should keep me sane.

I finally caught up with reading everything in my bloglines folder. The picture you see above is what happened 12 hours into my trip to Miami. Yeah, I usually get twice as much stuff in my bloglines folder per day. Man, I'm still behind in daily blog reading.

Anyway, a lot of new bloggers asked me to link them up. I'll get off my ass sometime this weekend and take an hour or so to update my template and add new blogs. In the meantime, I added Ship It Poker to my blogroll. Those guys have made it onto my daily reading list. Check them out. Also congrats to Al Cant Hang for a year in cybersapce. Good job, dude.

Recent Poker Playing Music...
1. Karl Denson
2. The Talking Heads
3. Wilco
4. John Hammond
5. Paul Simon

If you are a Simpsons fan... check out this post. On Sunday or Monday I will post Part II of my Miami trip report. I will be writing and researching a bunch of freelance assignments this weekend and working off my Check and Raise bonus. I have been updating my fotoblog and even added "The Last 4 Pauly Pics" from my flog to this sidebar. I will be adding more Miami pics this weekend. Briana is hosting an Oscar's Party on Sunday which should be interesting since I'll be gambling on the outcome. Come on, Hillary Swank! I'll see everyone at the tables. Until then, have a great weekend and you should start looking for cheap flights to Vegas!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Bonus Whore: Check and Raise

If you don't know Check and Raise is offering a 100% bonus (up to $500) if you open a new account before Feb. 28th. It is also open to old players who wish to reload their account. Visit Check and Raise for more details.

They release the bonus in $25 batches. For every 600 Check Points you accumulate, they give you $25 of your bonus. You can clear $25 of your bonus in 5+ hours playing $2/4. I've played a little bit so far. They do not have too many tables running during off-peak hours but the players who are there are kinda fishy. Take a look at Check and Raise for yourself.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Miami Trip Report Part I

The High Life

I exited the subway and rushed up the stairs at the Times Square station past a few tourists and an old lady with a cane. I glanced down and saw an orphaned playing card. It was the Jack of Clubs. I snickered. I few weeks ago my brother told me he saw a random card in front of our mother's apartment building. It was the Seven of Spades. I thought about picking them up and starting a collection of found art objects. I wondered how long it would take before I found a full deck. Five years? Six years?

As I reached the top step and bolted towards the Shuttle to Grand Central, one of L. Ron Hubbard's low-level thugs nearly tackled me. The Church of Scientology gave free stress tests to any busy New Yorkers who took the time to chat with them. A black woman sat in a chair while an older woman with blonde hair asked her a series of questions and took her blood pressure. She was holding a free copy of Dianetics. I shook off my mark with a juke step and blew past him.

I stopped off at Hot N Crusty in Grand Central Station for a black and white cookie, an orange Gatorade, and a chocolate donut before I walked outside past the lunch crowd over to the airport express bus stop. I bought a copy of the NY Times from a blind street vendor and gave him an extra $1 as a tip. Really it was a bribe. A pathetic one at that.

The security checkpoint at LaGuardia airport was backed up. I estimated the delay at 35 minutes. With plenty of time before my flight, I read the rest of the Times and dragged my bag behind me. A little girl back in line was whining incessantly. I sighed not because she was annoying, rather I felt sorry for her mother who was doing everything to get her to relax and wait in line like the hundreds of other passengers. The mother promised everything under the sun to the young spoiled princess yet she still continued her tantrum.

"Mommy, everyone is staring at me."

"Yes they are dear. Because you are making a scene."

"It's not polite to stare. No one is polite here."

That got a few chuckles from the crowd.

When I got to my gate, there weren't too many empty seats in the small waiting area. I found one, but it was next to a family who had a dog sitting in their lap. I had a bad feeling I was going to get stuck to them on my flight. The majority of the people on my flight looked like families on a mid-Winter vacation. I wandered over to the Air Canada gate and they had a lot of empty seats. I sat down and read the last fifty pages of Small Stakes Hold'em, hoping that a cute Canadian girl would sit down next to me and start a conversation about Marshall McLuhan and the new Degrassi show. That never happened, so I fielded a few last minute phone calls and ate my black and white cookie. I whipped out a notebook and jotted a few things down.
1:31pm EST... Sometimes airports can be depressing in a solitary kind of way. Not everyone who travels is going on a vacation. And even those who are on vacation, some of them are a little sad that they have to go back home to their real lives. One suit sits across from me eats an over-priced craft services sandwich and tries not to get mayonnaise on his tie. Another suit talks on his phone about his breakfast meeting at the head office. A young woman stares at one of the TVs and tries to lose herself in the CNN broadcast. A lot of sullen faces today at the airport. It's 32 degrees and I can almost feel the warm Florida sun on my skin.
I requested an aisle seat something I like because I frequently get up to stretch my legs and hit the bathroom. I drink a lot of water on flights so I'm always pissing. The family with the dog took up five out of the six seats in front of me. The father looked like Neil Diamond and he was taking the wife, three kids, and Arnold the dog to Florida.

Do I have to tell you what it was like to sit behind a dog who whined and barked the first hour of the flight? I'd rather not relive that awful experience. The flight was full so I could not change my seat. Sure, JetBlue has their own direct TVs for everyone on board, but not even watching the Big Lebowski could prevent me from thinking of 101 ways to silence the pooch. Someone on board had to holding valium. We could give that to Arnold the dog. How about locking the dog into one of the bathrooms?

In the back of my mind I began writing the first draft of my complaint letter to the suits over at JetBlue, how I wish their changed their pets policy and go back to the old days when you chucked Rover or Fluffy down below with everyone's luggage. At least the flight was only two and a half hours and the dog only ruined 40% of my flight.

Jerry picked me up at the airport and it was good to be back in warm Florida. My last trip was special and I had not seen Jerry and his wife Sarah since then. It was Thursday night and we ordered some local Italian food at Steve's. That was one great chicken parmigania sandwich, lemme tell ya. We watched The OC and I saw my first episode ever of CSI. I know that Wil just taped his spot so I know have a rough idea what the show is about. I'm looking forward to seeing how his episode turns out. The one I caught was freaky. First of all, I had no idea it took place in Vegas. Second, the episode had this weird baby fetish thing where people gave each other LSD enemas and shit themselves in adult sized diapers. I'm not making that up either. I was tired and crashed after I wrote for a little bit.

Jerry woke me up early so I could drive him to work. He gave me his car so I could hit up the Seminole Hard Rock Casino. I went back to his house, took a dip in the pool, busted into the liquor cabinet, sat out in the sun for a while, took random pictures, and read. I avoided the temptation to check my email and read my favorite blogs. I focused on watching Dawson's Creek instead and ate cold pizza. I found out that the poker room at Seminole was 24 hours so I jumped in the car. The drive was 25 minutes up the Florida turnpike to the Hard Rock. I parked in the deck and wandered into the casino.

My initial impression of the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood was that it was much bigger than the one in Vegas. In Florida, they only allow slot machines and poker, so there are no table games. It was around 11:30am and I briskly walked past hordes of senior citizens pissing away their social security checks with each pull of the level. I found the center bar, which was empty and looked cool with dozens of TVs everywhere. I asked the bartender where the poker room was located. He pointed and I found it.

The Hard Rock has at least 50 tables. The highest limit is straight $2. They have $1-2 Omaha, Stud, and Hold'em and Straight $2 Hold'em where every betting round is $2 and the blinds are $1/2. I missed the Friday tournament and noticed they ran a $135 and a $250 sit n go. The juice on that was horrible! First place only paid $560 or 41%. The casino kept $245 in juice or 18%. For the $250 SNGs they keep 14% and pay out 43% to the winner. Very profitable for the casino, not so for the poker player.

In case you were wondering, here's the Hard Rock's multitable tournament schedule (subject to change):
Mondays 6:30pm: $250 + $50 entry fee NL freezeout
Tuesdays 6:30pm: $50 + 15 with rebuys
Wednesdays 6:30pm: "Ladies Only tournament" $30 + 10 with rebuys
Fridays 11am: $50 + 15 with rebuys
Saturdays 11am: $165 + 35 freezeout
I never had a chance to play in the tournaments, but next time I'm down there I will.

Anyway, I was shocked I had to wait a half hour before noon on a Friday to get a game. The Hard Rock has an electronic waiting list and they give you beepers that let you know when your seat is ready. I wandered over to the food court nearby. The pizza looked good and I settled on some Chinese food. The General Tso's did me right.

I was finally paged. I played for about three hours before I had to leave to pick up Jerry. My table was nothing special. Aside from one young guy who looked like Frodo from Lord of the Rings, it was all retired guys. One guy resembled Morty Sienfeld. Another one I swore was one of those older doctors from St. Elsewhere.

In the first orbit I had 47o in the LB. In my head I asked the dealer for a 568 flop. And sure enough that's what I got. I maxed out the betting on the flop and had two callers all the way to the river. Two pair and top pair lost to my flopped straight. That was one of the only decent hands I got. Frodo in Seat 3 kept doing chip tricks for the table. Too bad he couldn't keep his stack. He lost $150 in 90 minutes and left.

I lost a big pot with AJo. The flop: 27A. I know, I wish I had The Hammer. Some guy in seat 6 was the Rebuy Guy. By the sixth or seventh rebuy, I was rooting him to stay at the table. He kept pulling $20 out of his wallet and instead of rebuying in once for $100. He insisted that he was playing his last hand but would dig back in when he lost all his chips. Anyway, Rebuy Guy called me with bottom pair on the flop and all my raises with 24o. The turn was a 7 and the river a 2. Oh well. That wasn't as bad as AQ losing to J8o after flopping trips and losing to a one outer gutshot on the river. The guy next to me lost with pocket tens. Overall, I ended up down $50. I gave away a $2 tip for every pot I won, so the majority of my loss went to tips, my bar bill, and the rake.

The players were loose and not paying attention at all. Hey it's low limit madness. The majority of the players were locals, a mix of very young college aged guys and retirees. The Hard Rock offers drink service. Unlike Vegas, you have to pay for bottled water, beers, and liquor drinks. Coffee and soft drinks are free. I got great service because I tipped my girl well when I ordered my first Corona. She always came to me first when she hit the table up for drinks. The dealers were fair. One looked like Jessica Alba and she called me "New York" for her entire down.

I fought a little traffic and picked up Jerry downtown. We hung out for a bit until Sarah came home from work and then we hit up South Beach for some sushi. We found a mellow place, nestled in between a chic French bistro and a Cuban restaurant. Jerry ordered a bottle of Sake right away and a mellifluous conversation ensued. I ordered an Ashai and I happily wolfed down some salmon, tuna, whitefish, eel, and a spicy tuna roll which I couldn't finish. The eel is my favorite. Desert was green tea ice cream and Jerry and Sarah split an order of Thai donuts. If you ever had them, you know that they are delicious.

Coming soon... Part II. In the meantime, you can check out Pieces of Pauly: A Photo Essay of some of my meals from this weekend.

Monday, February 21, 2005

RIP Hunter

Hunter S. Thompson 1937-2005

I was trying to find something in Hunter Thompson's writings that made sense of his suicide. When I first heard about his death, my thoughts drifted to Ernest Hemingway, another one of my favorite writers and like Thompson, Hemingway's words took on the role of the father figure in my life during my tumultuous early twenties. Both men were more similar than I ever imagined. They were recognized as the unique American voices of their respective generations. They pushed themselves into the middle of vigorous and dangerous lifestyles. And when they reached their 60s, living in small towns mostly everyone ever heard of, they both viciously shot themselves in the head. Either they ran out of things to write about, or more tragically likely, they accepted the fact they could no longer live up to the reputation of being the great writer that society had dubbed them.

Two of the most haunting questions looming over the head of every artist are... What am I going to do when I can't do it anymore? And what am I going to do when everyone finds out I am not really that good at what I do because I'm really a hack who got lucky?

I wondered what their answers were as I found myself digging through an old milk crate of assorted books. That specific crate held some of my favorites. I picked up and thumbed through The Great Shark Hunt, an insane book 622 pages in length covering all random ramblings from Hunter Thompson from his early days at the Kentucky Derby (one of my favorites bits of writing no one has ever read, shame on you fuckers!) to covering the McGovern presidential campaign in 1972, to bits on Watergate and Jimmy Carter. That book is full of memories and one of the rare books that has been with me for my entire 20s. It always made the cut and I never sold it, no matter how broke I was.

Over a decade ago, an ex-girlfriend, let's call her Sabine the tortured Prozac-popping artist, gave The Great Shark Hunt to me. Actually, she bought it off a used book vendor on St. Mark's Place in the East Village for $4. One Thursday night, a week or so before we started dating, she tracked me down at my after-work bar. When I was 22, I used to knock back Carlsbergs at an old man's dive on Lexington Avenue called Carlow's East. A surly Irishman named Sean, always in his white shirt and clip-on tie, worked the bar with a pissy attitude. I can recall the moment exactly. I poked fun of Sean's brogue with Tony "Knuckles" Tafullio sitting on the stool next to me. Sabine walked over and plopped The Great Shark Hunt onto the sticky Mahogany bar.

"I z-ought you would like z-is," she said her sultry French accent.


"Shit McGrupp," Tony Knuckles said as he picked up the massive book and began inspecting it, "are ya really gonna read this?"

"Yep. I'll loan it to you when I'm done."

"The only way I'm picking up that fucker is to beat my girlfriend with it. That lazy bitch. I could bust her up good and I betcha it wouldn't leave a mark."

He handed me the book and I thanked Sabine again. I've read it many times since then. I even broke up weed on it in Seattle and cut up blow on it in Brooklyn. Hunter would have been proud.

After that brief flashback, I continued flipping through my ten year old copy of The Great Shark Hunt. I randomly stopped on an article Hunter wrote for the National Observer. A freaked out moment took over. The article was on Hemingway. Coincidence? It was dated 1964 and called "What Lured Hemingway to Ketchum?" In his later years Hemingway left Cuba and settled into a small town ten miles outside of Sun Valley, Idaho. That's where he blew his head off with a shotgun in 1961. Three years later, the 27 year old Hunter Thompson would venture off to Ketchum to figure out why that place at that time for Hemingway.

Here are some chilling excerpts, written by Hunter over forty years ago:
"Anyone who considers himself a writer or even a serious reader can not help but wonder just what it was about this outback little Idaho village that struck a responsive chord in America's most famous writer. He had been coming here on and off since 1938, until finally in 1960, he bought a home just outside of town...

The answers might be instructive - not only as a key to Hemingway, but to a question often pondered, even in print. 'We do not have great writers,' he explains to the Austrian in Green Hills of Africa. 'Something happens to our good writers at a certain age... You see we make our writers into something very strange... We destroy them in many ways.' But Hemingway himself never seemed to discover in what way he was being 'destroyed', and so he never understood how to avoid it.

Even so, he knew something had gone wrong with both himself and his writing, and after a few days in Ketchum you get a felling that he came there for exactly that reason...

Standing on a corner in Ketchum it is easy to see the connection Hemingway must have made between this place and those he had known to be his good years. Aside from the brute beauty of the mountains, he must have recognized an atavistic distinctness in the people that piqued his sense of dramatic possibilities...

From such a vantage point a man tends to feel it is not so difficult, after all, to see the world clear and as a whole. Like many another writer, Hemingway did his best work when he felt he was standing on something solid - like an Idaho mountainside, or a sense of conviction.

Perhaps he found what he came here for, but the odds are huge that he didn't. He was an old, sick, and very troubled man, and the illusion of peace and contentment was not enough for him - not even when his friends came up from Cuba wand played bullfight with him in the Tram. So finally, and for what he must have thought the best of reasons, he ended it with a shotgun." (National Observer, 25 May 1964)
A short time after, with Hunter's words inspiring me to walk out of my job on Wall Street and go home to write a novel, I adopted some of his words as my own personal mantra, "Don't take any guff from these fuckin' swine." A decade later, I would use that quote as an introduction to my third novel.

I've been compared to Hunter so many times that it's really an insult to him. He's a real writer and I'm a hack. I'm much more a fuck up than an adventurer. So who cares if we're both drug addicted writers with wacky sidekicks? Shit, everyone's an addict in one form or another and most of them have vanity sites with blogspot addresses which ironically qualifies them as a writer. And for every wild, reckless story I have to brag about, I have a half a dozen more incidents where I got lucky and escaped imprisonment, a hospital stay, and/or deportation. So I have a knack for stringing together words and can hold my mud a lot better than most idiots who try to run with the bulls in Las Vegas and piss in the tall weeds with the big dogs, but that doesn't make me any better of a true visionary that Hunter Thompson ended up becoming.

Hunter showed me that speaking from within and bouncing past the structured limits of conventional writing is the way to embrace yourself. Trying to write in the style that my educators scared me into thinking was the proper way held me back from achieving my true potential as a writer. Embracing Hunter's style of freedom of expression was a key to my early stages of developing my craft. I figured out the best way to write a story is to throw yourself into the middle of the story and experience it for yourself like Hunter did in so many instances. That is why I felt and still feel that a lot of my everyday decisions in life and the choices I make influence my future as a writer.

I realized that to become a better writer, I had to live life instead of watching it happen from the sidelines. "Write what you know," is the old saying to first time writers and if you don't know shit, then your writing is going to be shit. I knew I needed to take a few risks, so I did that. I pushed myself to the edges of insanity. And was not afraid to seek out the weirdness in the world. Hunter inspired me to do just that.

Of course my dream job is similar to Hunter's all-expenses-paid gig with Rolling Stone magazine... to travel the world and cover random events (like the Tour de France or the Oscars or the National Rodeo Finals) for a hipster magazine with an unlimited room service tab and a suitcase full of illegal narcotics, opiates, and herbal supplements, only to get so wasted that I'd turn in the article two weeks late, nowhere resembling the topic my editor had assigned. That would be pretty cool if I got to do that someday.

I wish I could say something more and have a better entry to pay homage to my favorite writer. But I'm exhausted from a wild trip to Miami and my mind is frazzled because I'm still undecided about the direction of my writing. Plus I'm very sad to hear about Hunter's suicide. I some way I am happy that he doesn't have to live with that pain that old writers get. And in some way I am sacred shitless because just in case I do end up living for a few more decades, I'm going to have to face that same moment that Hunter and Hemingway had to. Right now that's the last thing I want to think about. I need a few more days to allow all of this to sink in.

Poker and blogging were two things I was so passionate about a few weeks ago, but right now they are both unimportant to me. I'm going to take a few days away from the tables, take a break from blogging and from sharing my words with everyone else. I need to write for myself and only for myself right now.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

"It goes to show you don't ever know,
Watch each card you play and play it slow."
- Jerry Garcia
I'm taking some time off from blogging. I'll be in Miami for the next several days visiting friends from college, relaxing in the sun, and taking pictures. Updating the Tao(s) is my last priority. I will be playing poker at the Hard Rock, so expect a full trip report upon my return. Miami is an inspirational place for me and I have not been back in over 13 months. My last trip was epic. I'm positive that I'll have a few stories to tell and a slew of pictures to add to my fotolog.

Whenever I step out of the loop, I am forced to think about the direction of my life and where my art is taking me. I will be asking myself some of those serious questions including figuring out the future of this blog. Avoiding burnout is something I am desperately seeking. I also know that I have to take some time off to write this year. I'm not getting any younger and I've always wanted to write a novel in Europe. I am going to try to figure out how to make that happen possibly later this fall and decide if I can make a leap back into painting. In the end, I know I have to sharpen up by poker game if I want to scrape together a few bucks off of the fish-o-licious players on Party Poker so I can live the bohemian life overseas for a few months.

Just like the players on Party Poker!

In the meantime, check out what Otis has been saying about the latest stop on the EPT. I also added ten new blogs to my blogroll. Check them out.

To get your Pauly fix, you can read the latest issue of my literary blogzine. It features a couple of poker bloggers and my favorite NYC escort, Alexa. I wrote two stories... one of which, Mirth, I worked on for several months and the other one I came up with in less than twenty minutes. Enjoy and thanks for the support.

Truckin' February 2005 (Vol. 4, Issue 2)

1. Mirth by Tenzin McGrupp
In a sun drenched stroll through the blooming gardens, pondering the nearing fatality of an old man's life, I was amazed at the tame discourses I managed to bundle together, otherwise known as the Disease... More

2. Super Bowl by BG
She was so drunk/high off of the booze and meds that I would bet she wouldn't and couldn't possibly remember how weird she asked me to get. I actually feel just a little bit dirty just thinking about it... More

3. Felicitous Feces By Alexa
The first hints that something was wrong occurred shortly after I lowered my pants to sit on the toilet... More

4. Hindsight, My Friend by C. Anderson Guthrie
Between the lulls in my niece's self-imposed humiliation-by-cake and her unintelligible baby talk, my thoughts drifted from my brother's house in the Sticks, to a small Fiat Punto on west coast of Ireland... More

5. Happy Birthday Gladys by Tenzin McGrupp
Justin thought of six ways he could kill himself before he made it home. He could break the window in the bathroom and jump 17 stories to his death onto Sixth Avenue, but he wasn't sure he could break the glass... More

Thanks again for visiting my blogs. If you are interested in writing for Truckin', I suggest you read the Submission Guidelines. I hope everyone has a good weekend at the tables.

See ya,

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Bounties, Hilton Sisters, Commercials, Reader Mail, and Life

Thanks Charlie!

Charlie from Flush My Nuts sent me a bounty for knocking him out of the last blogger event... a Nashville Predators puck. Very cool, thanks. I sent out all of my bounties and bonuses from the WPBT event. Jon-Paul won a secret bounty for knocking me out. WW won the Hilton Sisters Challenge. Charlie and 787 were awarded special prizes after I brutally bad beat'd their AA and KK with The Hammer. Check your snail mail sometime this week guys.

Speaking of Hiltons

Last night, I was playing $2/4 with the Poker Geek on Party Poker. He witnessed my AA getting cracked by QQ. Damn bitches cost me 15 BB! The bad beat was indicative of how my late night session went. I had an awful night and took a nasty hit to my online bankroll as the carnage spread across three different sites (Party Poker, Empire, and Poker Stars). That's like walking into three different bars and getting your ass kicked in all three. I lost my entire Empire reload bonus on a series of bad beats in a few SNGs and a couple of horrible rookie mistakes from yours truly. It could have been worse but I stopped the bleeding right there. A year ago I would have stayed up until dawn trying to break even and most likely would have fallen deeper into the abyss of Tiltdom. I knew what was going down and stepped away. Maturity? Not really. I logged offline and decided to write instead. At least I can't lose my bankroll from writing.


Has anyone seen the commercials that Party Poker has been airing? At least they are using all the juice I gave them in SNGs to do something useful. In the NYC area, they have been aggressively advertising on MSG, the home channel of the NY Knicks and NY Rangers. I see five or six Party Poker commercials during every Knicks game. On NBC, during Saturday Night Live, several non-poker playing friends of mine have told me about the Party Poker commercials being aired. They always ask, "Is that where you play?"

It seems that there are four different commercials. The first one is an animated cocktail party and I think Shana Hiatt does the voice over as they explain that Party Poker is the largest "poker school" online. They tell people what games they have. That is usually aired during SNL. The suits at Party Poker are going for the hipster market. Let's face it, as soon as the hipsters get wind of a trend, it's never the same again.

The second commercial is always aired during Knicks games that shows a black couple in an attempt by Party Poker to appeal to minorities. The wife comes home and the apartment is trashed. He makes up a lie and that's when the voiceover booms, "Got a bad poker face? Then try Party Poker..."

The third commercial is almost like the second except there is a young white couple and the girlfriend finds a thong that's obviously not hers. He makes up a lie and that's when the voiceover booms, "Got a bad poker face? Then try Party Poker..."

The fourth commercial is my favorite. A middle-aged man (could be any of you poker bloggers out there) is looking out his bedroom window with a pair of binoculars. He's checking out the house next door and his wife walks in. He makes up a lie and that's when the voiceover booms, "Got a bad poker face? Then try Party Poker..."

So what have I learned? That Party Poker is aggressively trying to hook hipsters, minorities, cheating boyfriends, and married Peeking Toms. Sounds like most of my friends, eh?

I've also seen a Poker Stars commercial with Moneymaker and Fossilman. It has a very low production value. I'm sure I could have written a better script and the Poker Geek could have spliced together a cooler commercial in his sleep. Hey Otis, mention that to the suits at Poker Stars. Tell the suits that the Geek and I could do a much better job than the wizards in the marketing department.

Reader Mail

Back by popular demand! I get hundreds of emails a week from concerned citizens. Here is a sample.

Hey Dr. Pauly,

It's me again. Thanks for all the advice on poker. On girls. And on dealing with alcoholic parents. I asked that girl I like to be my Valentine. See said yes then at lunch time she called me "Shorty" and kicked me in the balls. What should I do?

Timmy, Pensacola, FL

Dear Timmy,

For fuck's sake kid, you never have a dull day, do you? I used to think that young girls who hit you or treat you like shit on the playground really like you deep down and have a tough time expressing those feelings for you. I used to think that. It's all bullshit. You know why? I'm 32 years old and chicks are still kicking me in the junk. Why? Because that's what they do. Hell hath no fury than a woman ready to kick you straight in the junk. They might not exactly aim for my groin area with their brand new Manaolos, but you get the picture. Some of them might get drunk in a cafe in Paris and hook up with a cheesy, dirty Frenchmen named Pierre and of course they feel horrible every second they are doing that to you and they do it anyway. It's like your inability to fold a high pocket pair when their are three flush cards on the flop. Be realistic kid, it's going to get worse. Enjoy getting kicked in the balls today. In fifteen years some chick will snort all your drugs, fuck your next door neighbor, run up all your credit cards, and then sell your dog to a bunch of hippie kids for a used Avril LaVigne CD. "Life's not fair," as our former President Jimmy Carter once said in a speech to unemployed factory workers on the campiagn trail in the South. Listen to his words. The quicker you accept the brutality of life, the quicker you will be on the road towards middle management.

Thanks for reading,

Hey Dr. Pauly,

Short time reader of your blog, and a short time poker player, but instant lover of both! Just came to the University of Western Ontario in Canada, in the midst of my second semester now. Played the odd game of Hold 'Em back when I used to live in Texas, and loved the game since. Ever since coming to University I found ppplllenty of people on my floor (in residence, of course) who share the same love of poker that I do.

Instantly we started playing "residence" games, just small $2 or $5 no-limit tournies between our friends. We used to play 1-2 tournaments a day... I mean a lot of poker, lol. Eventually I wanted to step my game up, bought a poker book, and began reading various websites I came across. Then I stumbled upon yours! Lol. Your blog got me very much onto online poker, and I have started playing on Pacific Poker (a friends account, he is letting me use it, but I pay my own way, just haven't opened my own yet). Absolutely LOVING it! Wewt.

Not really sure why Im writing all of this to you, and thanks for reading if you've gotten this far, haha. Guess I just wanted to tell my story to the guy I hear all the poker stories from, and who got me onto online poker!

Thanks Pauly, maybe Ill see you at Pacific sometime :)

Archetype, Canada

Hey Archetype,

Glad to see that I have loyal readers north of the border. I assume that the recent NHL lock out has many fans playing more poker at nights instead of watching hockey. So it could a good thing. At least I don't have to see my Rangers get embarrassed on a nightly basis. Anyway, glad that I got you into online poker. Sounds like you are having a lot of fun in your residence hall. Any cute girls playing too? You know that I have a weakness for Canadian girls... I might have to make a roadtrip up there and crash your afternoon tourneys. I don't play on Pacific anymore and can be found mostly on Party Poker. Best of luck to you all.

Thanks for reading,


I am 20 and live in Tucson, Arizona. I found your site this morning through google by searching "+poker +phish." Yes, I am a huge fan of both. There is nothing like listening to some live Phish. It doesn't stop there. After all these years, I have recently discovered what I want to do with my poker and write, which I saw are also your two passions. I also love to travel and meet new people. It seems like I am your younger brother or something.

Well, anyways, I am currently taking a break from school after a couple years of engineering at the University of Arizona. I don't see myself going back. While I could become an engineer, that whole scene just doesn't make me happy anymore. I used to love raw math and science, but it doesn't do it for me anymore. I crave people and Poker is a game of people. I got serious about Poker last summer and can already support myself by playing at Party Poker. I also love the fact that writing can inspire others to become better people and see the world in a more conscious way.

I would much appreciate any comments. Thanks.

Joe, Tucson, Arizona

Hey Joe,

Always cool to meet fans of Phish and fans of poker... and even cooler to meet fans of both. Sounds like you have a craving for some of the same things that I enjoy in life. That good. But it's also important to gain as much life experience as possible... in order to become a good poker player and a great writer. Travel as much as you can in your early 20s. You won't regret that decision. Take this time to educate yourself in both poker and the arts. Read and write as much as you can. Study all those poker books out there and apply what you learned and you should be fine. I would suggest you find an alternative source of income so you are not starving during a string of cold cards. And, if you know any cute Phishy chicks from Arizona, feel free to send them my way.

Thanks for reading,

Pauly, quick question for you from another writer/player... I notice you take notes while you're sitting at the table. I've been wondering whether this is a breach of protocol or no. I play pretty regularly in with a group of about 10 guys and then branch out to 30 player tourneys every now and then. I've got a pretty good memory, but after a six-pack, my recall ain't worth shit. So, taking notes is an acceptable practice at the table? Thanks. Love the blog... Will

Hey Will,

I have no shame. I've been writing in little note pads for over a decade. In the last year or so, I've been taking poker notes. That's why my write ups are comprehensive. I've also created my own version of poker shorthand to help out with the process. I encourage more people to take notes. The guys at the Blue Parrot are used to it and often tell me certain moments that could be blogworthy. And don't worry about using it in a casino or card room. It could be a psychological tool as well. Some people are paranoid that you are writing something bad about them and use their paranoia to your advantage. In the end, there are no specific rules against note taking at the table. Best of luck.

Thanks for reading,

And that concludes this version of Reader Mail. Thanks for sharing guys. Check back in a few weeks.

"Contentment that derives from knowing when to be content is eternal contentment." - Lao Tzu
I was going to finish up reading SS2. I read Jen Harmon's chapter on limit and instead of hitting up the tables at Party Pokerto avenge my poor performance from last night, I decided that life is more important to me today... more so than poker and writing. It's a lovely warm day here in NYC. Time to take a few moments from my busy day and escape from the laptop and my online popularity for a few hours. I am looking forward to the anonymity of blending into the millions of other New Yorkers. I am going for a walk in Central Park with a cute blonde... one I hope won't kick me in the balls.

I'll write and play poker later tonight. For now, time to live in the moment.

Monday, February 14, 2005

St. Valentine's Day

"Choo choo choose me!"

So do you know the origins of Valentine's Day? Any good McCatholic will tell you it was originally a church holiday and not invented by Russell Stover and Hallmark, two fuckers that I'd like to drop kick into next month for brainwashing all the women in America into thinking that their men are cheap bastards if they don't fork over candy, flowers, a $3 greeting card, and their testicles for a 24 hour grace period. I'm spending most of today with my inamorata, the Princess of the Upper East Side. I got to get as much poker in this morning as possible, before I get a lot of "poke her" going on this afternoon.

Q. So how did the weekend treat you, Pauly?

I learned a valuable lesson: Beware of pot-sized bets on the turn in NL.

I had my AA cracked by 10-10 last night in an SNG. When someone checks on the flop from early position, and then I check in late position to see a free card (or I bet and he just smooth calls) and on the turn a rag falls that guy comes out firing... he is almost always slowplaying his big flop, most likely a set if he's in early position or two pair if he is in the blinds (the infamous Big Blind Special). I should know this, yet, I walked into two big hands this weekend when folding both times would have been the correct play. When he pushed all in on the turn with a flopped set, I should have mucked my AA. I would have folded KK or the Hilton Sisters. Alas, I cannot let go of pocket aces and called. It's like falling in love with that ex-girlfriend of yours after she's already moved on... and you should too, to preserve your sanity and dignity before you look like a scorned fool digging into your pockets for a rebuy while you are trying every combination possible to hack into her email account. Tips for the ladies: Do not use your new boyfriend's name as your password.

Q. Bad beats and stupid calls aside, what else happened this weekend, Pauly?

I read the first 200 pages of Super System 2. Yeah, I know, I should have read more, but I was swamped with work. I enjoyed the tips from Mike Caro University, particularly MCU Tip #29:
Opponents find it inspirational... when you complain about your bad beats.
Well, I hope the Party Fish don't read poker blogs. Moving along, I thought it was funny that Doyle listed only two reasons why B&M play was better than online play... and over 22 reasons why online play was better than B&M. It seems that he's trying to get people to play on his online site. I will try to read Jen Harmon's chapter on Limit in the next few days.

Q. OK, so what exactly were you working on this weekend Pauly? We didn't think you had a real job.

I submitted a book review on Internet Texas Hold'em by Matthew Hilger and it was accepted and published. The webmaster at might be one of the best bosses I ever had. He's cool, gives me plenty of artistic freedom, and most importantly... he pays me right away.

For the first time in years, I have finally caught up on all of my email. I read everything (I had over 250 at one point to sort through earlier this month) and as of now, I only have four messages in all of my inboxes. Two of them are saved information on future flights for me on Jet Blue. I read every article and visited every website that every one thought could be blogworthy. Thanks to everyone who sends stuff, that's very kind of you all. I can't blog everything but I appreciate the gesture. I completed all the edits for the February issue of Truckin'. I'll be posting the new issue in the next 50 hours. This one looks great. And I'm particularly pleased that I'm no longer waiting until the last day of the month to publish each issue. I woke up early on Sunday and gutted out the third draft of Gumbo. It is finally complete. I am looking forward to blocking out a few hours and sitting down to read it from cover to cover. And then I'll never have to look at it again!

Freelance articles, email, my literary blogzine, and correcting the last draft of a novel... not a bad weekend. I also penned a Valentine's Day poem, which I'm sure will get me bonus points later today. This week, I expect to crank out two more pieces before I take off to Miami on Thursday.

That's it. Good luck to everyone today, both at the tables and with the ladies or guys or farm animals or whatever gets your rocks off.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

"The way to do is to be." - Lao Tzu
I should be writing now. I am not. I have freelance articles to write. I have emails to answer. I have a Valentine's Day poem to pen. I have an entire issue of my literary blogzine to edit and publish. I have a novel that has been lingering in between the second and third draft and is collecting more dust than a VHS copy of Road House in limbo on the shelves at Blockbuster. I've been farting around on Party Poker all morning and I spent the last four hours reading every blog on my blogroll. Yes, if I have you linked up, I read your site today. I fuckin' rule. I am pleased to report that there has been a vast improvement in quality and quantity of material out there in. Good job, folks.

I realized that I was too harsh with my statements a few weeks ago. For someone who has an easy time expressing themselves, I dropped the ball there. What I meant to say was simply that... blogs are getting more popular and more people are reading, so let's put forth a better effort. I freaked a few people out and that wasn't my intention. I got a lot of people thinking, which is always good. And again, to see some of you actually use my advice (and Tony Pierce's too) is refreshing. Keep it up. If I get the time, I will give you some more blog tips next week before I fly off to Florida for a few days.

I want to direct you to one of Tony's posts on how to properly leave a comment. I erase anonymous commentors, especially people who leave fake email addresses. To me, anonymous commentors are the most nefarious forms of life on the internet. I flush those nimrods down the toilet with last night's penne bolognese. Be a man and leave your name and contact info. Here's what Tony had to say:
...have the guts courtesy of filling in the email address or home page portion of the comment box. everyone agrees that anonymous negative commentors are pussy ass bitches whose opinons are not even worth the milisecond that it will take to delete them.

if you have the nerve to come into someone elses house and talk shit, have the backbone to identify yourself. i wouldnt accept a check without your signature, so fuck your pissy comment without a real email address...
Amen, Tony.

What have I learned in the last few hours? That a lot of my friends and fellow bloggers inspire me. I'm proud to consider a lot of these folks as my peers. Congrats to the Poker Geek. The kid is hot, man! Also, congrats to Jan over at 50 Outs. He recently won a multi on Party Poker. Excellent. HDouble is posting a tad more frequently. Bad Blood got to play with Howard Lederer and The Quiet Lion the other night. Grubby is addicted to slots. Felicia is back to blogger. And Double As is back to being... hermaphodite free. Iggy linked up a few new bloggers. Sir Waffle hit rock bottom. Chin up bro! I'll stake you the next time I hit Foxwoods. Ephro has a trip report posted. Helixx posted his Vegas trip. The Poker Nerd is playing an ungodly amount of SNGs. Chris Halverson worked off a bonus or two. Maudie is busy with The Tempest and BG wrote a review of a local play. CJ is taking the plunge and playing in a $200 multi. G-Rob posted a quality piece on poker education. Oh, and Bob won a Omaha 8 SNG. The Al Cant Hang Experience is dark this weekend. I'm shocked. He and EvaCanHang are not traveling anywhere! He's resting up for next weekend when he's scheduled to appear with Squiggy from Laverne & Shirley at an opening of a new discount liquor/package store in Charlotte, North Carolina. By the way, Bill Rini came up with fishy goggles and a view from their perspective. Chad is killing Doyle's Room. And Mean Gene will also be a contributing writer to Congrats, dude. I can keep going talking about every blogger, but I'm pressed for time.

I am happy to say that I am getting a new intern, or rather, a new assistant to help me out with my expanding blogging duties. I already have an assistant (Jessica) working with me on Truckin' and she always edits my freelance work with my brother acting as a backup. Yeah, I guess this is the time to reveal that Briana will be assisting me with the troublesome task of keeping tabs on my blogroll, specifically the blogs listed in Blog Purgatory and the slew of new ones out there like Absinthe's Troubles, A Pirate's Life, and Beer City Poker. The system we have set up is that she'll print up any new posts and I'll read them when I can... on the shitter or on the subway. That way... I'm still in the loop. I found some time to read everybody. I hope this works.

Thanks for wasting your time with me today. My quest to finish my novel, the next issue of Truckin', and a write book review this weekend appears futile. Time to get off my ass. I'll be back on Monday.

Friday, February 11, 2005

6th Place Blows
"Do what makes your opponent uncomfortable." - Poker Penguin
I took 6th out of 80 in a multi-table tournament on Empire Poker last night. Actually, it was more like very early this morning. If I didn't run into pocket aces with 10-10... things might have turned out differently. At least I made the final table in a Limit MTT. Yeah, like a rookie, I made a huge mistake and signed up for a Limit MTT instead of a NL MTT. I know. I know. Stay away from the brown acid. The brown acid is... bad.

The hand of the night was AA on the button. The flop: 10-A-10. There was a guy with A5s who called every one of my raises all the way to the river. With two tables remaining and shortstacked, I put a bad beat on a the table chipleader. He held my least favorite pocket pair: JJ. While holding my breath with KJs, I flopped a King. That instantly set him on tilt. He bled away his stack like a hemophiliac juggling a trio of Ginsu knives.

I also played in a NL free roll simultaneously. I took 116th out of 500 in that. Played three or fours hands the entire time. I kept getting my table changed and never fell into a comfortable flow.

On the $30 SNG front, I have only cashed in 3 out of my last 13, make that 4 out of my last 15. Ouch. Terrible stats. I am to blame for most of those early exists when a wave of hyper aggression took over. The Poker Nerd would not be proud.

With the Empire bonus worked off, I can relax this weekend and find sometime to play a few SNGs on Party Poker. I intend on writing a shitload, especially focusing on the third draft of Gumbo. I also have a prop bet with an secret blogger whether or not I can give a certain malcontent heiress a Kentucky Pile Drive. Thanks to Alexa for that link. Have a good weekend everyone.

Recent Poker Playing Music...
1. Steely Dan
2. Rilo Kiley
3. Galactic
4. The Grateful Dead
5. John Coltrane with Miles Davis

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Bonus Whore

I wrote two articles this week and both were accepted. 2 for 2. And I just got paid for one of them. God bless wire transfers from Holland! I'm in the middle of writing the third, a book review which I hope to be done by tonight.

Last night, after both my favorite basketball teams lost (UNC and the Knicks), I played online at Empire Poker for five straight hours. I was working off a $150 bonus. I had to play over 1000 raked hands to qualify. It took almost a week and I'm done. I got a free $150. Whooo hooo! Free money. That's the equivalent to a one-way ticket from NYC to Las Vegas. Empire just paid for half my trip.

I also made a few dollars in the process of working off the bonus while I watched Spaceman play in a multi with a $350K prize pool. He made the money and took 48th. Good job, dude.

Before I crashed I wrote for an hour. Some of my best work happens between the hours of 3am and 5am. Go figure. This past month I switched my writing schedule so I could wake up and do my usual two hours (my own workout) and then I would spend the mid afternoon writing or doing research on freelance articles. I couldn't sleep and woke up early to write and read through a few new books that arrived this morning. One of them was Super System 2.

Texas Dolly

Of course, I was too damn busy to start reading SS2, but I skimmed through a few pages. Too bad it's too big. I won't lug that fucker on a plane to Miami with me.

As I am writing this post, I am seriously mutlitasking.... playing poker online at Party Poker, with Dawson's Creek on in the background and sitting on the couch in all forms of dishabille. TBS is airing one of the initial episodes from the first season of The Creek. Anyway, here's what BG sent me in an IM about my all-time favorite TV crush... Katie Holmes:
although there's something almost embarrassing about those high waisted pants, she's awful cute
Yeah, BG had the day off and I just outed him for watching Dawson's Creek.

I admit... my name is Pauly. I am a compulsive gambler, alcoholic, and sex fiend. The only TV shows I watch are... The OC, Dawson's Creek, and Degrassi. I have this weakness for the way Canadian girls say the word "sorry" and "about". Especially when they call me up late at night and... ah I'll save that story for my other blog!

Lastly, I must say that my best thoughts go out to my good friend Iggy. They had to bury his best friend's wife yesterday and he's stuck in the middle of a dark patch of life. Hang tough, brother. Untimely deaths make you realize that life is so much more important than poker, blogs, and being flamed by purblind bucolics. I talked to him and suggested that he take a week or so off to just get his space together and live a little. Poker will always be there. Life won't.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Picture Day

I finally got around to updating my fotolog. I posted a bunch of shots the last few days. Take a peek. I am working on a photo gallery for my paintings. Speaking of which, I heard that BG's smokin' hot neighbor was having a glass of wine in his apartment last night (you dog, you!) and commented on how much she liked my painting that I gave to BG for his 30th birthday. Very nice. I wish I had more time to take up painting again. Blogging has pretty much taken over most of my free time. Maybe I'll quit blogging for a month, move to Amsterdam to paint, live on a houseboat near the Red Light District, and smoke a chunk of hashish the size of a spider monkey with neo-hippie girls from Norway who giggle everytime I throw out an obscure Knut Hamsun reference.

Last few books I read...

Moving on. If you didn't know, I won Daddy's Crush Your Bookie football pool. The first half of my prize arrived in the mail yesterday... playing cards from 1864. Holy shit! That was some cool stuff. The cards do not have any numbers on them and the corners are not rounded. These are what soldiers during the civil war were using during their down time.

Here's the letter I got with the cards:
SnailTrax Inc.
328 Queef Blvd.
Hilljack, IN 47441

To Whom It may Concern:

You are receiving this notice to inform you that you have completed the 2004 NFL Crush Your Bookie season with a higher game selection percentage than our very own, Daddy. While this honor is not often bestowed, we would like to congratulate you on a job well done. Along with this letter you should have received a replica 1864 playing card deck that can be used at your own discretion.

And now a word from our Sportsbook and Poker representative, Daddy...
Hey motherfuckers! Thanks for kicking my ass this year in Crush Your Bookie. I hope you enjoy the playing cards and look forward to doing it again next season. Now, go fuck yourselves... Daddy
Thanks again for participating and we hope to see you again next season.

The Folks at Snail Trax
Here are a few samples of the playing cards. You can click on the pictures to enlarge...

Hilton Sisters (circa 1864) and Quad Aces

The Hammer!

Thanks Daddy!

Happy St. Grubby's Day

I was pleased to see a plethora of Hammers flying around the blogger table on Monday. Grubby would have been proud. I was 1 for 2 that day, losing to Iggy's AA on one hand.

Bailey drops The Hammer!

Bailey from Party of Five (aka actor Scott Wolf) dropped The Hammer on Celebrity Poker Letdown last night. Here's the screen cap, which you can enlarge if you click on the picture. He was shortstacked and moved all in. He won that hand too and doubled up!

Yes, that concludes the visual portion of today's programming.

Stuey Ungar Movie

I forgot to tell you that Derek and I watched the Stuey Ungar movie a few weekends ago. What a let down. There was more gin rummy played than poker! Now I know why the studio held it back from theatrical release and it went straight to cable. The hardest scenes were watching the parts about Stuey's childhood in New York City. Except they couldn't afford to shoot the film in NYC so they chose the closest alternative... Tennessee! That's what the production notes said.... filmed on location in Las Vegas and Tennessee. Ok, so there were a few funny scenes, like when he gave away $20,000 to a call girl after getting wasted in a hotel room with her. But that's it. Save your time and wait for Mike Sexton's book on Stuey Ungar to come out.

Now stop farting around and get back to work!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Freelance Pauly

This post is career related and with a moiety of poker content. Although I have supplemented my income over the last year playing poker, I would not declare myself a professional poker player like a lot of insecure people like to do repeatedly to anyone who will listen on the web. It's an identity issue. It's stems from low-self esteem and a rough patch of bad acne in high school.

When I first started writing a decade a go, I was reluctant to say, "I'm a writer." And if you ever lived in NYC, you quickly find out that is the first question people ask you.

"So, what do you do, Pauly?"

"Too many drugs, but my day job is sponging off of a young, malcontent, elevator button heiress."

One day everything clicked. I felt like a writer but had nothing to show for it. Thank God I finally finished my first novel while I was working at JP Morgan. I then had something to talk about. I wrote on the subway, on lunch breaks, on the shitter, and stayed up until 4am every night writing. I was clinging onto an identity that I desperately sought, even though I was working for one of the most prestigious brokerage houses on Wall Street. I wanted respect, but more importantly, I wanted to feel good about myself.

Deep down, I always wanted someone out there to pay me to write. For my last steady freelance gig, I was a speechwriter. I penned pro-veteran speeches for the American Legion, even though I was not a veteran, nor a member of the American Legion. Although I felt very patriotic, I wasn't thrilled with the work.

After my last Vegas trip, I was contacted by a few folks who were interested in publishing me on their websites. I was hesitant at first. I didn't want to be pegged as a "poker writer" when at heart, I was a novelist and screenwriter. My friend Haley came from a show business family. She told me that I started to generate some "buzz" and I needed to take whatever work came my way... because a few months from now, those opportunities might not be there. I took a few assignments and I am proud to say several of my pieces have been published.

Online Screen Names: Hidden Tells? is an article that was published on Take a peek. Gary Carson and Ashley Adams are also feature writers for them.

In January, I signed a deal with They are a European website and I'm excited that I will be getting exposure on another continent. I'm under contract to write one player profile a week. So far he's published two; Johnny Chan and Annie Duke. He also accepted an article on SNG Strategy for Beginners. Here's my bio page where you can go back and see my archived articles and player profiles. I intend on writing two book reviews this month for those guys.

I am currently working on three pieces for publication on both sites. Thanks guys for putting your faith in me. Stay tuned for more updates on future freelance assignments. I already blew most of my paychecks on a flights to Vegas and Miami. At least I didn't lose it at the tables on Party Poker!

Monday, February 07, 2005

St. Grubby's Day

It is February 7th (2-7). I tried a few "connections" with the church to get our holiness, the pontiff himself, to officially designate today as St. Grubby's Day. Unfortunately, he's fallen ill and is near death. The paperwork never went through. Sadly, I could not get the Catholics to hook us up.

However, the Rev. Blue Sky Shalamboojuday, leader of the Church of the Open Mind in Bellingham, Washington passed an official Church Doctrine to recognize 2-7 as St. Grubby's Day. Who cares if his organization is listed on the Cult Watch List? It's the thought that counts.

So, bust out the killer Kool Aid and polish off your Hammers. It's St. Grubby's Day.

Happy St. Grubby's Day!

Your Mission: Drop The Hammer at your table and make sure you type, "Happy St. Grubby's Day!" in the chat. Then send your hand history to Grubby as a small token of your appreciation.

Have a good day today and beware of Hammer wielding Penguins!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

The Blue Parrot Invitational
"By the way Pauly, that was a sympathy fold." - Julie after she mucked her cards
The bunch of us from NYC got together and played in the first blogger event at the Blue Parrot. We had some cancellations at the last minute. Joaquin had a gutshot wedding to attend to and F Train had to leave the city for a few days due to a personal family matter. If you get a chance, stop by his blog and give him your best wishes.

A view of Manhattan from the Blue Parrot (19 stories up)

The replacements included Julie (3rd place winner in the Holiday Classic in Vegas) and Toni from the TowneHouse. Monte Christo was a no show... what happened? We missed ya, Buddy! Ugarte made his first appearance since his self-imposed exile. Have I mentioned how much fun it is to be caught in the crossfire of discursive banter on random legal topics? The Vicodin helps ease the pain.

It was a poor showing on my part. I was bluffed out of a big pot by Julie. And later on, I was the first one knocked out... by my brother of all people. Expect this write up to be short and sweet. I didn't last very long. Make sure you check out the other bloggers (Derek, Mas, and Toby, and Ugarte) for their reports.

The buy in was $50. NL format with no rebuys. Nine players, top three places paid. $450 prize pool. T1500 chips to start. Blinds started at 10/20. The levels were 20 minutes long for the first six and 15 minutes from then on.
The Players:
Seat 1: Ferrari
Seat 2: Pauly
Seat 3: Coach
Seat 4: Julie
Seat 5: Ugarte
Seat 6: Mas
Seat 7: Toby
Seat 8: Derek
Seat 9: Toni
Level 1: Ugarte was tardy, even though we started almost 12 minutes late. We chipped him down until he arrived. The first few hands are always very tight. Derek raised. Toby called and with an ace on the board he bet out. She folded and he showed his pocket Hellmuths! (Editor's Note: That was for F Train!) Ugarte eventually arrived. We had nine players, five bloggers, four lawyers, a comedian, and Ferrari's two cats roaming around.

A couple of hands later, AJs arrived. I like AJs a little more than AJo. I once said that... AJo is like your shopoholic ex-girlfriend. At some point she's going to bleed you dry. Well AJs is like her bi-polar alcoholic twin sister. She looks just as hot but she's one cocktail away from unleashing her inner Tara Ried. So I got AJs. The flop is Jxx with two clubs. Toby bet and I moved all in. Over bet? Absolutely. I just wanted to be the first one to go all in. T1540 and playing a tight game.

Level 2: Blinds 20/40. I found myself heads up with Julie who was the big blind. I had AJo on the button. Of course. I raised to $200. Coach folded and Julie called. The flop: Qc-Jc-8x. I don't have any clubs. Julie checked and I bet $500. Julie thought about it and called. I put her on a flush draw. The turn: 6c. She checked. I made a mistake. I checked. I should have bet to see if she had the flush and if she didn't, I could have taken the pot down right there. The river was a rag. She bet $600. I folded. How could I call with SPTK with a possible flush and a straight on the board? Julie showed her cards. A-10o. No clubs. She flopped a double gutshot draw and missed. I was outplayed and had less than T800.

I was shortstacked and went after a few pots in late position when everyone checked to me on the flop. One time I had middle pair with a flush draw and raised Julie. She thought about calling and threw her cards into the muck.

"That was a sympathy fold."

Might have been the funniest thing I heard from that side of the table.

Level 3: Blinds 30/60. Derek raised in EP making it $200. Coach had just counted out my stack the hand before. I had T950. I pushed all in with AQs. His raise smelled like AK but I hoped he had pocket 9s or 10s. I wanted to take my chances with a coin flip if he had the pair. He took a while and eventually decided to call. As he showed AKo he said "Looks like a race." He put me on a middle pair. I was toast. I flopped an ace. With two jacks on the board by the river, our kickers played. Knocked out first. No much fun, eh?

"I'm going to play a side game with myself," I muttered as I left the table. I eventually snuck out and went downstairs for a couple of six packs of beer. I opted for Miller High Life and Mas was very pleased with my choice.

The Genius of the Poker...

Level 4: Blinds 50/100: Toby was knocked out by Derek. She wasn't getting any cards and pushed with a short stack. Her A2 lost to Derek's 66. He was the overall chipleader with 7 players left. Ferrari was next to go. His AK lost to Julie's KJo. She had him covered and he was bounced in 7th.

Level 5: Blinds 75/150. Mas has been playing pretty tight all afternoon. He was looking for a coinflip situation with 88. Julie called with AQo and knocked out Mas. She was the new chipleader. Mas joined us in the Losers Lounge and we played $2-4 holdem.

Level 6: Blinds 100/200. Toni was the shortstack and moved all in with pocket tens. Julie called her with K6 and flopped two pair! On the river a fourth heart fell and Toni had the 10 of hearts and doubled up with a flush.

Level 7: Blinds 150/300. Ugarte's AJo walked into Julie's AA who limped in and then called Ugarte's raise. On a ragged flop, he moved all in. She quickly called with pocket aces and was back to being the chipleader. They held up and Ugarte joined us in the Loser's Lounge. It was now four way action.

On the Bubble

Level 8: Blinds 200/400. Derek attempted a steal with 94s. Julie called with AK. He was about to join us in the Loser's Lounge until he flopped two pair. His trip 9s won and doubled up against the chipleader. A few hands later, he got a visit from the Hilton Sisters. Coach moved all in with JTs. Derek called and Coach flopped trips 10s to double up.

Level 10: Blinds 400/800. Severely shortstacked Julie had 57o and moved all in against Coach's 55. She flopped a 7 and doubled up. Those guys played four handed forever it seemed. The bubble play went back and forth, while Toni silently built her stack and eventually knocked out Coach on the bubble.

In the meantime in the Loser's Lounge, Mas called Ferrari's preflop raise with The Hammer! He flopped two pair and hit his boat on the turn. Good work.

Mas celebrated St. Grubby's Day early!

Late Levels: Derek had to move all in with KT. He collected his third place prize when Julie called with AA. It was heads up between the two replacement players... Julie and Toni.

5:55pm EST... Toni's K8 lost to Julie's K7.

5:57pm EST...Toni's K5s beats Julie's Q7s

5:59pm EST... Julie's 92o beats Toni's K9s when she flops a 2.

6:01pm EST... With Julie's slight chip lead, the girls accept a chop.
The Final Results:
1. Julie $190
2. Toni $170
3. Derek $90
4. Coach
5. Ugarte
6. Mas
7. Ferrari
8. Toby
9. Pauly
The tourney lasted for almost 3 and a half hours! They played four handed for almost an hour. In the cash games, I got may ass kicked and felt like Marvis Frazier back in 1986 when he got whooped by Mike Tyson. I dropped $80 in less than an hour. It was ugly I won only one hand and had all my middle pairs cracked. 88 twice, 10-10 twice and even 77 once. Toby didn't do too well either. Only Ferrari and Ugarte cleaned up in the side games.

Buckeye's monster hand

I took a harsh beating all day. From the minute I woke up and played an SNG on Party Poker, I was not playing well. Even Ferrari's cat was creaming me. Thanks again to Ferrari for hosting and for everyone who attended. We are thinking about having another one in March or April. Stay tuned. Congrats to Julie, Toni, and Derek for making the money. Derek was the blogger who lasted the longest. Good job. Go check out his write up.... here.