Monday, January 16, 2006

"The greatest hazard of all, losing one's self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all." - Kierkegaard
I'd like to thank all of my guest posters for their amazing contributions over the past two weeks. Impressive batch of scribes don't you think? Everyone stepped up and came through in the clutch. Daddy opened up the playoffs by pitching a no hitter and Otis ended it with a walk-off home run. Great job everyone. I find inspiration in my friends and especially in the way in the unique manner they all choose to express themselves. I hope to do another series of guest posts in the future. Stay tuned.

By the way, I'm seeking submissions for future issues of Truckin'. Check out Submission Guidelines and find out how you can be a contributor to my literary blogzine. I'm hoping that 2006 can be a breakout year for Truckin'.

Moving on...

I'm back to regularly scheduled programming here at the Tao of Poker. If you don't know, Tao loosely translated means "the way." This blog is the way of poker in my life and will continue to be so. Poker had become an integral centerpiece of my daily existence the past two years and this blog became a forum where I documented poker as it floated in and out of my field of vision on my journey through life.

After a poker intensive 2005 where I covered almost 50 tournaments, I focused my attention away from blogging and freelance writing for two weeks. Yet it only seemed like a few days ago I was writing my Year in Review Part 1 and Part 2. Funny things happen when you shut the world out for fourteen days. A few things change while other things stay the same. Even the Knicks went on an amazing winning six-game streak. I scheduled my breaks around tip off times. I can't describe the pleasure I get from cheering on one of my favorite sports teams with my brother when they are on a rush. And hearing Walt "Clyde" Frazier do ads for Full Tilt Poker was priceless.

Although I was on hiatus, I hardly took a vacation. I barely slept and ate horribly. I lost a few pounds and didn't have a sip of alcohol. My daily goals were: write, write, and write. I listened to a ton of music and aside from Knicks games or a NFL playoff game, I avoided television and newspapers. I stopped reading blogs. BG sent me a Soul Brother itunes mix and that was fun to write to. I dug back into my old jazz collection, stuff that I acquired when I lived in Seattle. I caught up on a few Widespread Panic, Keller Williams, and Grateful Dead bootlegs that I had, but never listened to. In order to get into a certain state of mind, for a few days I made an effort to listen to the same stuff I would have back in 1998. Sounds weird, right? Music is a gateway to memories and emotions. And it affected my writing in a positive way. With music it's easier to access and self-examine chunks of your past than if you sat in a room a chatted with your $200/hour shrink who had just as many family problems, sexual hang ups, social phobias, and unhealthy addictions as you had.

"But Doc, there is no spoon."


Music can be powerful. It explains why some songs make you want to dance, other songs make you want to cry, and why some songs were perfect for karaoke hour. That's why listening to the radio right after you break up with someone is one of the most difficult things to do. I always determined the severity of a break up based on how long it took for me to listened to music again without flipping out. Even to this day, there are certain songs and albums I can't listen to and might never be able to again. Music is the gateway to your soul.

For the first time in 13-14 months I took time off to write for myself and put everything else aside. I barely had any time or personal projects and always had a deadline popping up or had to travel somewhere for an assignment. I couldn't even escape a gig while on my hiatus. I penned a 1500 word article in the middle of working on the manuscript.

I had 100% artistic freedom for the first time in over a year. I can't explain how stifling some of my assignments in 2005 were. Places like Fox Sports and the Wall Street Journal expect you to write a certain way and adhere to a set of mind-numbing guidelines. Sure I got paid to write and on some level I'm fortunate to get to do that. However, most of the time it's just a job. I struggled to find enthusiasm about some of the gigs. That's why I think mostly every freelance piece I ever wrote sucked. It was a watered down or pop music version of my abilities as a writer. Sure a line here or there stood out, but overall I had been disappointed with my efforts. We all know I can do a better job. My goal this year is to apply my voice to mainstream assignments. It's going to be a challenge and I'm up for it.

The lack of creativity is why I lost interest in the subject matter. And at some point, the stories all end up the same way. How many different ways can I describe a bad beat or brutal suckout?

That's why personal writing projects like Truckin' or books that I've written were psychologically soothing for me. I finally was able to express myself freely and unfettered. I can say the things I can't say here or any other place I write. To use a musical analogy, I'm a jazz musician. Always have been. The last year I've been playing pop music and getting paid well to do so. I finally have time to go into the studio and play what I want. And guess what? I didn't play any pop music.

That's why the first part of the book took an unexpected turn. I found myself taking the book in a different direction. I might end up cutting out some of those scenes, sections, and pages, but it felt good to get it out. The last year has been overwhelming in many areas. It felt good to take an emotional shit, so to speak. I had a lot inside that needed to get let out. The subject of my book is Las Vegas and I finally expressed my love and hate relationship with that amazing city.

I had a small portion written already and instead of working on that, I scrapped it and started over. Page 1. January 2. I wrote for 14 straight days. 130K words later, I'm still not finished. I have 85% of the first draft complete. I wish I had more time. I already set aside a week in February and one week in March to finish it. I'll cut out about 10% and maybe rewrite a few sections before I send it off to a developmental editor and start shopping it around. For now I'm taking a break and working for two weeks away on assignment at the Borgata.

On the live poker front, I skipped two games with lawyers the past two weeks. I also turned down and invite to the Wall Street game. They've been taunting me and called me names associating with the female genitalia. I'll try to play some in Atlantic City.

I couldn't get poker completely out of my system. I played online poker over the past two weeks. A little everyday in fact mostly on Poker Stars. I discovered that two or three tabling Poker Stars for an hour everyday was a great way to relax my mind and inch my way to Silver Status. The Poker Nerd already has Platinum status. And some dude is the SuperNova already. The first week of the year, I got my ass kicked on the $3/$6 tables. I'll spare you the bad beat tales. Some of my stalkers lurking in the shadows witnessed the carnage on Poker Stars.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Here are a few pictures to look at.
I'm shocked I won this hand in a MTT.

Jaxia beat me with quads on Full Tilt.

I won a hand with an PLOmahammer.
I also decided to play less tournaments and back more players. I think I'm better off diversifying my bankroll and investing it in other players. I bought pieces of Joe Speaker and Change100 at the LAPC next month. I also backed Mrs. Spaceman at Tunica. I wanted to buy some of CJ, but the Luckbox sold out fast. I also officially own 10% of my friend Neil. He's a professional Keno player and I cut a deal with him. Neil is a nihilist and believes in nothing. That why he's one of the best Keno players in the world. The less you believe in, the easier it is to gamble.

I recovered over 40% of my poker losses (since Christmas) by gambling on the NFL playoffs. Week 1 saw me pick up a nice win with Pittsburgh beating Cincinnati. Knocking out Carson Palmer early on helped the cause. This past weekend I went with the gut and took Denver over the Patriots. Big win. 2-0 so far this year. I might let it all ride on one game next week. Or should I take the money and run?

The realist in me says, "Book the win."

The gambler in me screams, "Press it! We're going balls to the wall. We're playing with house money."

I booked bets in my fraternity one semester. I got sick and tired of calling in bets for my friends and having to meet with my bookie to pay him their weekly losses. After I started taking their action, I made enough money to pay for all of my rent, food, tickets four Dead concerts, and all of my books. The house always wins. But collecting was one big pain in the ass.

Here's a quick Q & A session. Answers to multiple questions I was asked over the past two weeks.

Q. What's your book about? Do you have a title?

A. It's currently titled Untitled Las Vegas Project. Catchy, huh? I'm still working on the title. The manuscript covered events that occurred in Las Vegas from Halloween 1998 through Halloween 2005. I guess you can call it my Las Vegas memoirs or a compendium of my Las Vegas stories from a seven year span that featured the biggest variety of misadventures.

Q. Will you be talking about the Redneck Riviera? The 2005 WSOP? And Existentialist Conversations with Strippers?

A. Yes. Yes. And definitely Yes.

Q. When can I read it? Where can I buy a copy?

A. Stay tuned for those details. It might take a while for me to find a publisher. I'm considering the self publishing route.

Q. Are you working in Atlantic City the next two weeks?

A. Yes. The Borgata hired me to do some live blogging and writing for them. They are putting me up for almost two weeks while I cover their Borgata Winter Open. It's a series of 10 tournaments that I'll talk more about tomorrow.

Q. I heard that you are ditching poker and moving to Los Angeles to write movies with Grubby. Is Hollywood really going to make the film version of Jack Tripper Stole My Dog?

A. Grubby is writing a screenplay as we speak but nothing serious. We have entertained the idea of moving out to Southern California but right now that's just two guys talking shit. And yes, my first ever manuscript Jack Tripper Stole My Dog was reviewed by a major studio. However, they decided to pass. Sorry folks. Ivan the Russian can driver will not be appearing at a theatre near you.

Here's what a slick Hollywood studio exec said to me about Jack Tripper Stole My Dog:
"I finished your book. I laughed my ass off. Have you had a lot of fucked up relationships with women? I mean seriously? He flushes her head in a toilet? Man, you need to meet a normal chick, some sweet girl to bake you cookies."
Our conversation gave me confidence to breathe life into an old project. I'm going to find a month to take off to write a new draft and make some much needed improvements. JTSMD is my next project. It's much more appealing to me than moving to Hollyweird.... right now. Unless they happen to need a writer to pen the sequel to Snakes on a Plane.


Well, that's it for now. It feels good to be back. Especially since Wil has been trying to put me on tilt.

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