Monday, June 26, 2006

First Day at the WSOP: Buffets and Hookers 1, WSOP 0
"Your life is what other people's dreams are made of." - Betty
In true Hellmuthian fashion, I'm showing up late to the 2006 WSOP. I woke up today in Colorado after a weekend rumpus of music and high altitude partying with my buddy The Joker and his crew which included a smoking hot former Olympic female skier, a wedding singer, a sixth-grade science teacher, and a professional racquetball player. We drank too much and more fun that humans should be allowed. I also met fellow poker blogger Frankl. He gave me a ticket to Sunday's show and beer. Head over to the Tao of Pauly to see random pics, reviews, and setlists from the Widespread Panic shows at Red Rocks.

I do some of my best work when I'm strung out, hung over, and jacked up on pharmies. The words seem to flow smoother when I'm in that frame of mind. And after hanging out in the hippie enclave of Boulder for a weekend, my mind is warped after being drowned in patchouli and magic mushrooms. I'm now ready to tackle the toughest assignment of my life.

Well, almost ready.

I wanted to go to work today, but my flight from Denver did not arrive in Las Vegas until 4:20pm. That was too late for me to pick up my press credentials at the Rio. I drove home instead to do laundry and answer two hundred or so emails. Grubby and I planned on dinner at Green Valley Ranch, which is about a five minute drive from our apartment in Henderson. At the last second he suggested the Silverton Casino. He had an exclusive buffet for two coupon that was only eligible for Gold Members.

Going to a buffet without Grubby is like the difference between watching black & white TV and color. Or to be more sexually explicit... it's like the difference between having sex with a condom or without one. A buffet excursion with Grubby is like watching Jack Nicklaus play a round of 18 at Augusta National or witnessing Hemingway write The Old Man and The Sea.

Very few people can fully maximize a trip to a Las Vegas buffet and only a few people can make a visit to the buffet a true artform. Behold the greatness of the Poker Grub. He'll have a special announcement in a few days. And it's going to be a doozy.

I'm not staying at the Redneck Riviera this year. Thank God that I won't have to brush off the advances of $20 crack whores with poorly designed back tattoos. I don't have to worry if the homemade meth lab in the apartment upstairs is going to explode while I'm racing to meet a 5am PCT deadline. I have more posh surroundings this year in a gated apartment complex in Henderson that's complete with a pool where random strippers/hookers tan themselves in the late afternoons when the temperatures drop to the low 110s.

I have a car this year. Flipchip found me a rental for $100/week. I had a choice between a PT Cruiser, a minivan, or a convertible. I wouldn't be caught dead in a PT or a minivan, so the convertible was the easy choice. Grubby wanted to check out the car which I nicknamed "Bukow," which is short for one of my favorite writers Charles Bukowski.

We drove to Silverton with the top down. Luckily the temperature dropped to 109 degrees and we could enjoy the cool Las Vegas night. Silverton's buffet featured ten different flavors of gelato and I was in heaven. I always eat buffet desserts as my second course.

Photo courtesy of Flipchip

Since I skipped my first day of work to bust a buffet with Grubby and drive around town in a convertible funded by Fox Sports and Paradise Poker, I figured that I would make it a total blow-off day and head out to a strip club. I'm going to end this post quickly so we can have more time to grope cokehead lesbians. I'm gonna make up fake names and professions to the strippers I meet. Tonight my name will be Octavio and I'm a weatherman from Des Moines, Iowa. Grubby will be playing the role as Colby, a former Bible-salesman who now owns three car dealerships in Yuma, Arizona.

There was poker going on today at the Rio but I missed it. Flipchip was there and took some photos so stop by Las Vegas and Poker Blog to see check out some of the best WSOP photos. Event #1 started today which is the casino employees' event. Dick Gatewood from Sam's Town is playing. He helped me organize the first ever blogger's tournament in Las Vegas back in December of 2004.

The second day of the Tournament of Champions began. Unlike in past years, they decided to play this event before the WSOP instead of afterwards. The final table seat a few hours ago. Here's who made it:
TOC Final Table:
Andy Black
Daniel Bergsdorf
Darrell Dicken
Chris "Jesus" Ferguson
Mike Matusow
Daniel Negreanu
Kido Pham
Chris Reslock
Mike Sexton
It's good to see Atlantic City's Chris Reslock go far at the TOC. Mike Matusow made the final table again this year. He's the defending champion and took 9th in last years WSOP main event. Daniel Bergsdorf and Andy Black both made the final table of the WSOP main event with Matusow. Andy Black has become one of my favorite players after he dropped The Hammer at the WPT Borgata Winter Open back in January.

Last year in an article published on Fox Sports, I picked Daniel Negreanu to go all the way. He had an awful 2005 WSOP and made me look like I know absolutely nothing about poker. That might be true. I know very little about poker and I'm still shocked that I get to cover the WSOP. But I'm a good writer and I have the illusion of poker knowledge which is just as powerful.

There's a ton of pressure on me this year. Last year I was a nobody and if I failed, it never would have mattered. That's why I took the chances that I took. Lucky for me, those chances paid off. But this year, there are hundreds of thousands of frenetic poker fans expecting me to entertain them and inform them about the events at the largest poker tournament in the world. Those people believe in me along with a few sponsors that bought ads or the folks who hired me to write articles for them. If they are willing to put their faith in me, I have to step up and get the job done.

I'm not fooling myself. I know how difficult it's going to be cover this year's event with new restrictions placed upon the media. Plus there's gonna be several hundred other reps out there covering the same story. I have an edge. I roamed the halls of the Rio last year and aside from a few exceptions, I can describe the scene better than anyone else here.

The content and style of the Tao of Poker is constantly ripped off, imitated, sampled, and stolen. I am aware of the fucktards who steal my feed and throw up ads and banners trying to profit from my words. I'm aware of the bloggers who are desperate for attention and turn their blogs into Tao of Poker clones. I encourage you to visit their sites so you can see how pathetic they really are. Hey I don't think I can blame them. They wouldn't steal my vernacular and style unless it was good. They might be able to fool some of the folks, but those poseurs know they are two-bit hacks with no talent and zero imagination. If they had any, they wouldn't have to steal from my soul and pass it off as their own.

I'm not being paranoid or anything, but there's a reason why certain media outlets signed and paid out big bucks to get "exclusive coverage" rights to cover the 2006 WSOP. They are afraid of what I accomplished on the Tao of Poker last year. I took away their traffic which meant that they lost out on ad revenue. They don't want that to happen again from either me or one of their rivals. After all, these organizations aren't providing coverage because they love poker or want to do the poker community a great service. They're doing it for the money.

I'm not going to bullshit you... I'm getting paid more money than last year ... but I'm here in Las Vegas because I want to be here even though I have plenty of chances to do other things. I could be smoking hash in a coffee shop in Amsterdam watching the World Cup with die-hard fans. I could be following around my favorite bands this summer and dancing in fields under the stars with half-naked rolling hippie chicks. I could be holed up in an apartment in Paris writing the second draft of my novel Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. I could be back home in NYC eating burritos with Derek and The Rooster.

But I'm not. I'm in Las Vegas for a second year in a row covering the biggest event ever in the history of poker. I want to be at the Rio everyday and tell you what I see, hear, and smell. I'm not going to sugar-coat the poker coverage and tell you how awesome it is to be at the WSOP. I'm not going to write 2,500 words on how cool it is to see Gus Hansen and Jen Harman and Annie Duke play poker. They are degenerate gamblers just like you and me. They happen to be better at it than us but that doesn't make them rockstars and Gods among peasants.

Poker is a dark and ugly entity. The media has created an aura of nebulous sanctimony and the masses are flocking to it like it's the cure for the void that they have in their sad and empty lives. I should know. I fell for it too. For most of my life I was empty and sad. Poker was the light at the end of the tunnel. I bought the bullshit like everyone else. But unlike you, I got to see behind the scenes of the poker world for the last year. I peeked behind the curtain and saw the great and powerful Oz. And he's not great, nor powerful.

Poker is an old dirty whore. Poker is a $10 crack rock. Poker is an illusion and a momentary distraction from the harsh world that we live in.

Instead of asking ourselves the real questions and seeking out real answers, we're hiding from the repulsive truths of this world. There are twenty-one year old internet pros making six figures a year while kids their age are getting limbs blown off by roadside bombs in Baghdad. Tell me how important poker is to our troops overseas? A coinflip to them is not 7-7 vs. A-J. Their races and coinflips are life vs. death.

Alas, no one wants to hear about that morbid stuff. That's why more people watch American Idol than the nightly news. And Las Vegas is not a glamorous place. It's seedy and infested with crooks and criminals. Some of them wear suits and others wear gang colors. Just a few miles north of the Rio, some of the worst gang violence in this nation goes down on a nightly basis. But no one gives a rats ass if a couple of wasted gangbangers filled each other with lead last night in North Las Vegas. All the poker addicts care about are chipcounts or multiple pictures of Clonie Gowen so they can whack off too. I don't blame them. The world is a cruel mindfuck and I've tossed my salami to Clonie at least three times. Ok, maybe thirty-three times.

Sorry for the rant and political tirade. I spent too much time with hippies in Colorado this weekend passing around the peace pipe. Just like Chau Giang said as he rubbed his nipples in a counter-clockwise motion, "I love poker."

So if you want chip counts, hand histories, or winners photos of the 2006 WSOP then the Tao of Poker will be a major disappointment for you. But if you want to read about my encounters at the Hooker Bar, or the pros I pissed next to, or the strippers that Grubby and I paid $200 to eat a can of dog food, or how many boiled cheeseburgers made of kangaroo intestines that Otis ate in a 48 hour period... then this is the place to get those stories.

I'll share it all with you here. For free. You don't have to pay me a dime. And if you don't like my coverage, that's fine too. Don't read me. I don't waste my time reading shitty blogs or piss poor WSOP coverage that has already been cropping up like an unwanted case of the rickets.

I love to write and I know that's why you are coming here ten times a day to read my coverage. For that... I'm truly humbled, honored, and flattered.

Along with Flipchip, we outperformed other media outlets and shill sites that had teams of reporters working in shifts. In order for them to level the playing field, a couple of the big boys went out of their way to get me (and other media outlets) banned from providing "live updates" and photos. They wanted to control a few of the aspects that they can monetize the most... like winner's photos and live updates. I can't give you any of those. Oh well. I'm going to do everything possible to test the elasticity of the rules. If I don't get my press badge revoked, then I'm not doing my job as a gonzo journalist. I might have to lurk around the Rio in a disguise. I might just tell people I'm Dan Michalski from Pokerati.

Don't be fooled by the bogus coverage you see on other sites. I'm not going to try to deceive you and say I'm covering the WSOP from the floor today. I'm not. I'm sitting on Grubby's couch, scratching my balls, and listening to my new favorite band My Morning Jacket. There are dozens of other sites that will cut and paste stuff from my site or other places like Poker Wire and try to pass it off as their own work. You won't get that fluff here.

That's why I didn't lie and told you the truth. I skipped work today to go to a buffet and strip clubs with Grubby.

I kept rambling on and forgot that we have to go now. There's several bleached blondes with fake boobs that are waiting to gyrate their shaved tacos in my face as a Nelly song echoes loudly on the stereo system at The Rhino.

Anyway, stop back here as much as you can. There will be no pattern to my updates. They might happen at anytime. If you have this site blocked at work or at school, then feel free to set up a Bloglines account where you can view the Tao of Poker feed. And don't forget to check out Flipchip's WSOP photos.

One day down. Forty-eight more to go.

P.S. Happy birthday to BG and Change100.

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