Thursday, December 28, 2006

Tao of Poker: 2006 Year in Review Part II

The 2006 retrospective continues as I review the last seven months of 2006 including the WSOP.

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June started out in NYC before my travels took me to Tennessee and eventually out to Las Vegas for the WSOP but not without stops in Colorado and LA. After cleaning up my storage space in New York City, where I threw out tons of junk and old stuff, I ended up taking several trips down memory lane as I sorted through nostalgic items that I kept. That inspired the Born to Gamble series as I capped off a ten week creative binge where I cranked out some of my best poker writing to date.

The Born to Gamble series continued with:
Born to Gamble Part III: Midnight Rider
Born to Gamble Part IV: Ramblin' Man
Born to Gamble Part V: Whipping Post
Born to Gamble Part VI: Revival
Just like in 2005, I spent the month before the WSOP writing a ton of freelance articles. Here are a few that were published online during June:
2006 WSOP Preview: The $10 Million Man (or Woman) (Las Vegas & Poker Blog)
Poker Stars: 5 Million and Counting (Poker Player Newspaper)
Online Poker: Avoiding Distractions (Poker Player Newspaper)
Pauly's Picks: Las Vegas Poker (Las Vegas & Poker Blog)
Poker Blogs: The Best of the Best (Bluff Magazine)
Here's a recap within a recap! I posted a recap of the 2005 WSOP.

I went down to Nashville to hang out with Spaceman and lovely Mrs. Spaceman for a few days with Change100 before we went to the Bonnaroo music festival with my buddy The Joker and Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot. We even played poker at Bonnaroo! Here's the index of Bonnaroo coverage including two hilarious You Tube videos:
Bonnaroo Part I: Thursday Arrival (Tao of Pauly)
Bonnaroo Part II: Fanfuckingtastic Friday (Tao of Pauly)
Bonnaroo Part III: Superlicious Saturday (Tao of Pauly)
Bonnaroo Part IV: Sunday Finale (Tao of Pauly)
Bonnaroo video Part I
Bonnaroo video Part II
I moved back into my apartment in Henderson with Grubby which was 10,000% better than the Redneck Riviera and only five minutes away from Green Valley Ranch. I also added another video to my You Tube collection called Grubby's Secret Drawer where I revealed Grubby's morbid and secret addiction.

I finally arrived at the Rio Casino to cover the 2006 WSOP and found several new rules in place by the suits at Harrah's that limited my access on the floor. Spectators and railbirds had a better opportunity to cover the final table. As a media rep with a dreaded "red badge" I could not take photos from the stands or take notes. But if you were a tourist or railbird, you could do both. Fucked up, eh?

With limited floor access, I had to set up camp in the media room instead of sitting twenty feet from the final table in 2005. No more sitting in the trenches in media row. That was for the "green" badge people wich included inept CardPlayer interns some of which had no idea who Johnny Chan was or what a "dry side pot" was.

The media room was located several ballrooms away from the tournament area and Harrah's made about ninety people share a room designed for twenty. They finally gave us a second room after the media swelled to several hundred during the Main Event. But for six weeks, they jammed us into that tiny room.

Live blogging was prohibited which meant no more lighting quick updates on the Tao of Poker. Of course those four words (live blogging was prohibited) seemed to be absent from the vocabulary of a small percentage of readers who acted like spoiled jackoffs demanding live updates and chip counts when that was impossible and would put my badge in jeopardy. With several outlets paying me to write articles and recaps for them, I was not going to put my career on the line just to appease a few unsatisfied readers who have never paid me a cent for my writing.

The WSOP whored that aspect out to CardPlayer and PokerWire and my role changed. I had no choice. Looking back I can now laugh at the absurd demands of several readers. At the time, I was super pissed off because my options were limited and given the circumstances, I was doing the best that I could and at the same time sticking to my gameplan (spending less time at earlier events to conserve my energy and focusing on the $50K HORSE and Main Event instead).

I wrote for almost a dozen different outlets by the time the WSOP ended. With a deadline every four or five hours, the folks who paid my wages did not care if I had not slept in two days, or about the other outlets I wrote for, or whether or not I had the chance to update the Tao of Poker. It's a ruthless business and most of the other media reps had one or two outlets to write for at most. A few had more but I juggled several fireballs at once. That's why I got paid the big bucks... because I could handle that intense pressure for two straight months. But the one place I was writing for free was at the Tao of Poker. I was fortunate that 99.72% of the readers understood my situation.

I admit that the live coverage on the Tao of Poker was nowhere near as good as the 2005 WSOP. But if you look at the collective writings of every outlet (PokerStars, FoxSports, MSN, Las Vegas and Poker Blog, Poker Pro, Poker Pro Europe, Poker Player Newspaper, Expressen, and Poker Magazine to name a few) that I wrote for at the 2006 WSOP, my coverage was more comprehensive. Overall, the opinion that matters the most is mine and I felt that I did a better job with the 2006 WSOP, esepcially under the crappy circumstances.

Plus I was a lot more smarter about some of the information and dirt that I accumulated at the 2006 WSOP. Instead of pissing that away for free on the Tao of Poker, I stashed away those gems for the Las Vegas book.

I adapted a new strategy with a journalistic/beat reporter approach to the WSOP more than a live blogging monkey chained to my laptop. I experienced more of the overall WSOP and spent more time talking to players and other media reps than watching every single hand of the final tables of preliminary events. Unlike at the 2005, at the end of the day I felt that I was doing more real writing and my clients were very pleased.

Here are a few posts about the first week at the 2006 WSOP:
First Day at the WSOP: Buffets and Hookers 1, WSOP 0
Event #2 $1,500 NL
Bad Beat Princess
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July featured action at the WSOP and the summer gathering of the bloggers with F Train winning the prestigious blogger's tournament. I played in one WSOP event, and my first ever PLO event. Plenty of weird stuff went down at the WSOP such as Hellmuth winning his 10th bracelet, Chip Reese beating Andy Bloch heads-up for the $50K HORSE crown, the dealers mutiny, the birth of Liz Lieu Tuesdays, the fiasco, and other hijinks with bloggers including the infamous Keno crayon incident.

Here's the index of noteworthy posts including WSOP coverage:
Rafe First, Dutch "Bi-Polar" Boyd, and Hellmuth's 50
WSOP Fashionistas
Bouncin' Round the Room and Bathwater Surprise
WSOP Event #9 $5K NL Final Table: Hellmuth, Mercier, Luske, and Vinnie Vinh
F Train Rules and Hookers & Mashed Potatoes: Bloggers in Vegas Update
WSOP Ladies Event
Bloggers at the WSOP and Liz Lieu Tuesdays
WSOP $50K HORSE Day 1 Update, Mexican Wedding Crashers, and How I Won Grubby's Car
WSOP Rumors: Rebel Dealers and Andy Black's Hammer
WSOP $50K Horse Final Table: The Real Heavyweight Championship
World Series of Bad Beats, Grubby's Last Supper, and Liz Lieu Tuesdays
Hot or Not? A WSOP Conversation with Foiled Coup and 5251
Cyndy Day?
Lee Watkinson's Chimps Gone Wild and Ode to Paul McKinney
WSOP Photo Dump 7.22
I Lost $400 Because Otis Ate 2 Keno Crayons
WSOP Sports Jersey Photo Gallery
Ninja Midgets, BoDog, and Tao
Hellmuth: Poker's First 50/10 Player
WSOP Media Tournament and Poker Lifestyle & Expo Pics
Almost There: On the Cusp of the WSOP Championship
2006 WSOP Main Event Day 1A
2006 WSOP Main Event Day 1B
2006 WSOP Main Event Day 1C
2006 WSOP Main Event Day 1D

The dealers

Here are some freelance articles that I wrote during the WSOP:
First Impressions: 2006 WSOP (Fox Sports)
Chip Reese Wins $50K HORSE (Fox Sports)
Serious Business (Fox Sports)
Calm Before the Storm (PokerStars)
Here are the some photo galleries:
2006 WSOP Black & White Photos
2006 WSOP Photos
2006 WSOP Main Event Photos
Thanks to the following bloggers who bought Pieces of Pauly for the WSOP $1,500 PLO event:
Pieces of Pauly PLO Backers:
1. Grubby & Change100
2. Senor
3. Derek
4. Ryan
5. John Caldwell
6. Brandon Schaefer
7. Seatle John
8. CBGCs: Kat & Jules
9. Iakaris
10. Alan
11. Miami Don & SinCity Carmen
12. AlCantHang
13. Iggy
14. Joe Speaker
15. Big Pirate
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I started the month smack in the middle of the WSOP Main Event and drinking way too many pints of Stella on dinner breaks at the Tilted Kilt. I had been hired by Otis and PokerStars Blog to cover their players for the Main Event. One of the perks was getting a free room for two weeks at Treasure Island. It was closer than Grubby's apartment in Henderson which meant that I got an extra 45 minutes of sleep every night.

Otis assembled a Dream Team of bloggers that included CJ, CC, Wil, Mad, Howard, Ali, Max Shapiro, and myself. With Ali sweating fellow Australian Joe Hachem and other Aussie and Kiwi players, Mad kept an eye on the Europeans, while Howard sweated the Brits and Irish players. CJ and CC followed on the rest of North American players on Stars, while Wil and I got the sweet assignments... covering members of Team PokerStars. I got to keep tabs on Tom McEvoy, Barry Greenstein, Humberto Brenes, Katja Thater, Isabelle Mercier, and Greg Raymer. If you watch the ESPN broadcasts of the Main Event, you'll see me in the background on the rail as both Brenes and Raymer bust out.

The play was super slow in the $50K HORSE event but the play was ultra fast in the Main Event, so much fast that the action ended early on a few nights and didn't need close to 1.5 days that was allotted for the tournament. The thousands of internet push monkeys helped accelerate the action as several friends went deep including an old friend from New York City Stormy and fellow bloggers Ryan and Tuscaloosa Johnny.

With only Allen Cunningham as the lone pro who made the final table, the missing chips rumors and speculation began to swirl. I was fortunate to get a few emails from an insider who used to be a former floor supervisor. He/She explained the dealer's mutiny and a possible theory of the missing chips.

What $12 million looks like

Here are the highlights from August including WSOP Main Event coverage:
WSOP Main Event Day 2A
WSOP Main Event Day 2B
WSOP Main Event Day 3
WSOP Main Event Day 4
WSOP Main Event Day 5
WSOP Main Event Day 6
WSOP Main Event Day 7
WSOP Main Event Final Table
Jamie Gold Wins 2006 WSOP Championship
WSOP Championship Time Line (Fox Sports)
Inside the WSOP: Disgruntled Supervisor Speaks Out
Tilting Locals, Four Random Hands, and Return of the Poker Grub
The Menagerie of Tweakers and LLT
Tao of Three.
Here are some pics:
Random B&W photo dump
Flipchip's 2006 WSOP Photos
Tao of Poker's Main Event Gallery

Former Star Trek Actor feeds meth addiction by stealing water

When the WSOP ended and Jamie Gold won $12 $6 million, I headed back to Henderson and got to play some poker at Green Valley Ranch and Red Rock. Grubby took a job designing slot machines in Chicago and came back to Las Vegas to pack up the rest of his things. It was a sad moment as we both said goodbye to the apartment in Henderson.

I finally left Las Vegas and went to Boulder, CO to decompress after a tough two month assignment. I earned and saved enough money during the WSOP to take the rest of the year off from covering poker tournaments and went back into semi-retirement. Aside from a few columns, I did not take on any freelance work as I returned to NYC to write before I hit the road again to do some more traveling.

And and yeah, the Tao of Poker thurned three years old in August!

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I took a break away from all things poker when I moved back to NYC to rewrite Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. I headed down to AC then over to AlCantHangland, PA for the annual Bash at the Boathouse where blogger hijinks ensued. Here are the recaps of that four day bender which included my birthday in NYC and some guy calling StB a sore loser at the Borgata:
Treading Water: Bash at the Boathouse Part I
Moments of Clarity: Bash at the Boathouse Part II

Other noteworthy posts from a dead month include 21 Flavors: A 2006 WSOP Photo Dump and Dear Hillary where I told my faux-Senator to vote against Frist's UIEGA.

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October 2006 for some. Black October for others. Poker players got "Frist-fucked" when Bill Frist railroaded the UIEGA at the end of the Port Security Bill. Party Poker pulled the plug and all of their revenue went right down the crapper. Party Gaming stock was worth less than toilet paper. But PokerStars and Full Tilt hung in there... for now.

Frist fucked me over when I lost several clients due to his hard-on with online poker and I also had to take a 25% pay cut for one of the magazines I write for. Freelance writers don't make a lot of money. Freelance poker writers make even less. And after Frist, the entire poker industry (non-online poker sites) took a major shot to the gut. His attempt to appease the Religious Right made it tougher for me to earn a living. For that, Bill Frist wins the Tao of Poker's Assclown of the Year Award.

Bush II signed the bill and we're a few months away from the banking industry figuring out how to enforce it. The UIEGA got a lot of people sleepwalking through life fired up about something important as our personal freedoms are eroding every single day. Today it's online poker. Tomorrow it's full access to the internet. Geez, I'm starting to sound like the Human Head!

I started the month in NYC working on my book and eventually migrated to the Left Coast. I spent time in LA and Las Vegas for the Vegoose music festival. I played a lot of online poker and enjoyed the last few days at the profitable tables on Party Poker. I cleaned up as the last of the fish donked off the last of their Party Poker dollars. That run was mentioned in Business Week article called Online Gambling Goes Underground.

In a very serious month, I took a not-so-serious approach to life and that attitude showed in the writing on the Tao of Poker. Here are some of my favorite posts from Black October:
Bad Beating a Danish Prince
Crisis = Opportunity
Prison Tips for Online Poker Players
Exile on Main Street
R.I.P. Party Poker
Gracie Wins the Spice Girls Essay Contest!
A Rain Gently Falls
Nietzsche Died of Syphilis
AlCantHang & Pauly's Blogger Quiz
Drunk Grandma at Green Valley Ranch
And yes, my brother Derek won the Blogger Quiz and Gracie won the Spice Girls Essay contest in a close race. Too bad that the UIEGA went down because one of my favorite poker posts of all time Bad Beating a Danish Prince got overlooked from all of the UIEGA fall out. If anything else stands out from the month, it has to be Exile on Main Street.

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I spent the first half of the month traveling... Vegas to NYC and then to Amsterdam. I played a ton of heads-up Chinese Poker against Change100 in Amsterdam as she went on MECPT (Mega Euro Chinese Poker Tilt). I came home early after the Tao got hacked but thanks to, everything was restored.

I spent the rest of the month in NYC writing. 15 minutes was one of the best pieces I had written in months and Sophism was my favorite posts of the year to crank out. Poker wise, I was grinding it out online at the Limit tables as I tried to break even for the year. And Iggy quit blogging. Sort of.

Here are some interesting posts from the month:
Tilt and Flow
Ummm... I'm Not Dead Yet
15 Minutes
Book Review: Why You Lose At Poker
On Turkey Day, I gave a message of thanks especially to my top referrals of the year.
Top 10 Referrals of 2006:
1. Las Vegas & Poker Blog (Poker Prof & Flipchip)
2. Wicked Chops Poker
3. Guinness and Poker
4. Aaron Gleeman
5. Tao of Pauly
6. Chris Fargis
7. AlCantHang
8. Up for Poker
9. Pokerati
10. Pot Committed
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December was a fun but wild month where I spent time in Hollyweird, Las Vegas, and New York City. I headed out to Vegas for the 3rd annual December blogger gathering, which was one of the best to date. Congrats to -EV for his victory in the Holiday Classic tournament.

I decided to write up my Vegas trip reports in a different way and weaved in the Seven Deadly Sins after I went off the deep end and went on MPGT (Mega Pai Gow Tilt). I donked off $2K quickly. Here they are:
Part I: Lust & Gluttony
Part II: Wrath
Part III: Greed & Sloth
Part IV: Envy
Part V: Pride
Here are the other posts from the blogger weekend in Las Vegas:
Snailtrax, Male Prostitute
-EV Prevails
I also reviewed of Jay Greenspan's book and revised my infamous Vegas Tips:
Book Review: Hunting Fish
Bloggers Invading Las Vegas 4.0
And kids, always remember Rule #20! Don't get rolled by a hooker. On that note, I'm done with the review. Thanks for reading. See you in 2007.

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