In a few hours the ravenous vultures, blood-thirsty sharks, and scrofulous professional poker players will quickly circle the Rio Casino as they fight to pick apart the carrion of dead money. Donkeys, superfish, hipsters, and hordes of wide-eyed amateurs are already starting to trickle into Las Vegas as every few minutes another plane touches down at McCarran or another car races into town on I-15 transporting bags and bags of money that will eventually end up in the bank accounts of 55 new bracelet winners.
The spectators are ready to pounce on every famous pro they see and besiege them with autograph and digital photo requests. Even the pimps are getting their bitches prepped to service the sexual or emotional needs of lonely poker players who willingly fork over a couple of big bets for blowjobs. I wonder if the working girls charge extra to hear a barrage of bad beat stories?
"Umm, let's see... a hummer, a doggie style for 10 minutes, and two bad beats... that will be $800. And I don't take online poker transfers."
The 2007 World Series of Poker begins in a couple of hours and for the third year in a row, I have been given the opportunity to cover the event. The Tao of Poker will be the place to get the straight dope on the behind the scenes action at the most prestigious poker tournament in the universe.
My philosophy with the Tao of Poker has always been simple... write what I see and write what I know. That tradition will continue as I help paint the word picture for everyone who cannot be here in Las Vegas to witness the spectacle and the insanity. I don't have a gameplan this year because I won't know what to expect until I the first event starts. I have to size everything up as it happens and find moments to jot down notes and write during the tedious 18-20 hour days and desultory schedule that I'm anticipating over the next seven weeks.
If your office or school firewalls the Tao of Poker, then feel free to add me to your Bloglines or other RSS feeds so you can keep track of the action.
Click here to add the Tao of Poker to Bloglines.I'm back inside the ropes and have better access this year. However, I'm unable to post live updates on the Tao of Poker. The reasoning is two fold. First, there's a new rule in place this year by Harrah's which restricts coverage by bloggers. I will adhere to their rules and regulations because if I fail to comply, I lose my badge and won't get invited back in the future. The second reason is that I was hired by PokerNews.com to provide live updates for them since they are part of the official WSOP media team.
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Of course, PokerNews has zero problems with me posting once a day on the Tao of Poker and a couple of days a week over at LasVegasVegas. And I can write whatever I want here. No censors. Freedom of speech. Complete independence. I can say cocksmuggler, cuntbag, assclown, and dildohead as much as I want. I can discuss the similarities between weak-tight post-flop play and how it correlates to female ejaculation. And I can talk freely about the high priced talent that saddles up to the Hooker Bar every night. This might be the last chance I ever get to say what I want before the blog police throws me into Gitmo after I get a complaint from Ned Flanders who red flagged the Tao for too many POB references.
And who knows... this might be the last year that I ever cover the WSOP. Because of the uncertainty of my future, I am going to treat this year like it is going to be my last.
I'm excited to be working with Poker News since they tapped some of the best writers and reporters in the poker community to be a part of the coverage team. I have been with them since the Aussie Millions in January and have been fortunate to cover the LA Poker Classic, the EPT Grand Finale in Monte Carlo, the WPT Championship, and the WSOP Circuit at Caesar's Palace with the likes of the Jonno, BJ Nemeth, Poker Shrink, Amy Calistri, Change100, Filipe, Tiffany Michelle, Leanne, and Shronk. Since then, the team has added a few members along the way such as Flipchip, Steve Horton, Jay Neuman, and Mean Gene... all of whom have plenty of experience covering tournaments.
I'm also pumped for Flipchip who got tapped to be one of the official photographers since he's been snapping photos of the WSOP since 1973. I was one years old then. And not to worry, Flipchip's WSOP photos can still be seen daily over at LasVegasVegas.
Just a few days ago... the empty Amazon Ballroom
Photo courtesy of Flipchip
And there's also folks like Short-Stacked Shamus, Haley Hintze, Earl Burton, and Michael Friedman who will also be providing recaps and back-end support. Even The Poker Biz thought the move by PokerNews was powerful enough that they leap-frogged into their Top 25 in the Poker Power Rankings. Fuck Duke. Here comes PokerNews.
Caldwell and PokerNews did the right thing and spent a lot of time and money to assemble this team. I'm sincerely honored to be working for a company where the main focus and priority is on covering the biggest and most bad ass tournament in the world. Our collective goal is to provide top-notch coverage which is better than anyone has ever seen before at the WSOP. Something of that level of prestige deserves to be covered in the best possible manner. And I'll be taking that philosophy one step further by writing daily recaps on the Tao of Poker to fill in you in with the more seedy and vile stories and gossip. I guess you can say that the live updates on PokerNews will be the play-by-play and the end of day write-ups on Tao of Poker will provide the color commentary.
I hope that the long and grueling hours don't create crazy moments when the stress levels max out and I want to punch a hole into the fake walls in the convention center, quit blogging, and move to Paris to write a book or three. It's going to be a tough assignment with 55 events this year and days when there are three or four different events are running simultaneously. I'm ready for battle. Working the WSOP is like climbing Mt. Everest. Many people die along the way and never make it to the summit. After two previous WSOPs under my belt, I feel like an experienced climber who hopes to avoid the pitfalls I encountered in previous years.
Anyway, the WSOP kicks off at noon today. Here's the schedule for the first week:
Event #1 June 1 @ noon $5,000 World Championship Mixed Limit/NL Hold'em (3 day event)The first mixed-game event will be introduced on Day 1 with a $5K buy-in Limit and NL Hold'em event. Levels will alternate between Limit and NL. Later in the evening, the Casino Employee's NL event will kick off.
Event #2 June 1 @ 5 p.m. $500 Casino Employee NL (2 day event)
Event #3 June 2 @ noon $1,500 NL (3 day event)
Event #4 June 3 @ noon $1,500 Pot-limit Jold 'em (3 day event)
Event #5 June 3 @ 5 p.m. $2,500 Omaha/Seven Card Stud 8 or Better (3 day event)
Event #6 June 4 @ noon $1,500 Limit Hold 'em (3 day event)
Event #7 June 4 @ 5 p.m. $5,000 PLO w/ rebuys (2 day event)
Event #8 June 5 @ noon $1,000 NL w/rebuys (3 day event)
Event #9 June 5 @ 5 p.m. $1,500 Omaha 8 or Better (3 day event)
Event #10 June 6 @ noon $2,000 NL (3 day event)
Event #11 June 6 @ 5 p.m. $5,000 World Championship Seven Card Stud (3 day event)
Event #12 June 7 @ noon $1,500 NL Hold 'em / Six Handed (3 day event)
Tuesday: Crazy White Man
I played some poker in my short time since arriving in Las Vegas. On Tuesday night, Change100 and I headed to Red Rock for dinner and poker. They didn't spread any bigger limit hold'em tables, so I quietly took a seat at Change100's 4-8 with a half kill table. I played like a maniac because I'm an action junkie and just only a few days earlier, I regularly multi-tabled 15/30 and 30/60 online. The 4/8 game seemed too slow for me and I was bored which meant large fluctuations in my stack.
I lost a big hand early in my session with K-K. A donkeydouche showing too much chest hair in Seat 3 called Q-5 to 3 bets preflop. He flopped bottom pair and turned trips. After that beat, my primary objective was to tilt the locals. Within a few hands, I met my goal.
During the first ten kill pots, I raised every single one. That drew ire from a few players but they were too weak or too scared to play back at me. I bluffed one local out of a pot with Kh-7h. By the river, four diamonds appeared on the board. There was only one way to win for me and that was to keep firing at the pot representing a flush. He had nothing and mucked. I considered showing him my bluff, however, that would have angered the locals even more. And you know the saying... don't burn the locals. They already had pegged me for a sociopath. I was going to get paid off with big hands no matter what.
"He's crazy," one of the players on Change100's end of the table said to her about my play.
I established a wild and erratic playing style and tightened up as the game progressed and the other players grew more and more frustrated because they couldn't put me on a hand. I used to play conservative early and exploit my tight play later on with bluffs, but in low limit games at Las Vegas casinos... that strategy never works. Instead, I started out playing like a maniac and then slowly down shifted gears.
Later in the session, I reaped the benefits of playing like a schizoid while quelling my inner action junkie at the same time. The hands that I won in the last hour were A-Ks, A-Qs, A-Q, J-J, and A-Js. They all held up and I rarely played junk hands aside after the first hour of play. The locals never believed me when I raised and they constantly called me to the river with inferior hands.
One old fart was steaming after I flopped trips with 2c-3c. I limp-called his raise in a six way pot and he berated me. He knows better and just wanted to bitch at me. I ignored him which seem to piss him off some more. Some of these guys have been playing poker for decades yet they can't take a beat like a real man. They act like a baby who just got a piece of candy stolen from them. Besides, he plays there all the time. Suited connectors (and even one-gappers) and baby pairs are playable hands at Red Rock due to the bad beat jackpot. Grumpy Old Man in seat 10 was just surly because he probably had a load of shit in his Depends after I cracked his Cowboys. Had it happened the otherway, I might have muttered "Cumstain" under my breath and called him a donkalope in my blog, but I always say "Nice hand." I understand the flow of the games at Station Casinos and shrug off any bad beats especially at those limits with everyone dreaming about hitting that lofty bad beat jackpot.
Wednesday: Third Place
Jen Leo hosted a birthday gathering at Treasure Island. We drank at the Isla, the swanky tequila bar and headed over to the poker room to play in the 7pm tournament. The TI hosts five daily tournaments. We played a $60 freezeout (plus a $5 add-on). 46 players bought in and you start with 2000 in chips with 20 minutes levels. After the first hour it's a crap shoot but not as bad as some of the other Strip tournaments.
I was seated at Mean Gene and Change100's table. The remainder of our table was filled with weak-tight tourists. I won a big hand with K-Q after flopping top pair and won another pot with A-Q. Spaceman busted out in the first level and quickly headed to the cash game table.
A French tourist was moved to my table and on the second hand he played, he min-raised my blind. I called with Q-7 and we were heads up. The flop was Q-J-2 and I checked. He moved all in and I quickly called. He showed A-2 and I doubled up. Just before the break, I picked up 8-8 and raised. I got two callers and the flop was 10-9-9. I was first to act and moved all in. Everyone folded and I picked up another decent sized pot.
At the break, I had close to 3K with my eye on Schecky's stack. We had a last longer and I wanted to win that badly.
Jen Leo was moved to my table and was involved in a sick hand. Mean Gene raised in MP and the French guy (who bought in as a new entrant just before time expired) flat called. Jen Leo pushed all in from her small blind with K-K. Mean Gene called with Q-Q as did the French guy with Ad-Qd. The flop was Q-x-x. Ouch. The turn was the Ace and the river was a blank. Mean Gene took the chiplead as he busted two players.
When the final two tables consolidated, I held the chiplead with about 10K. I was moved to Jonno and Leigh's table along with Mean Gene and Change100. When action was down to 12 players (and our table was short-handed), I went to work and started bullying everyone around. My big stack would be worthless in the upcoming levels with the blinds accelerating. I made moves and picked up a slew of blinds. I pushed my stack to over 20K by the time the final table was seated. Sadly, I only had 20 big bets, yet, I was the chipleader. Everyone else was short-stacked.
I busted one chick on the money bubble in 7th place. I raised from the SB and she moved all in from the BB. I called with Qc-6c and was up against A-7. The tourist pushed with the tourist. I flopped a Queen and she was out. Jonno, Change100, and I all cashed.
I busted Change100 in 5th place when I moved all in UTG with 6c-4c. She called from her BB with K-Q. I rivered a 4 and she was wicked pissed. By that point, a small crowd had gathered around the table and she barked, "You're walking home. Looks like you're calling a cab."
That comment got a big laugh from the crowd.
"Sore loser!" I responded.
I was the chipleader with 4 BB. Insane. But that's how the structure was. I moved all in on every hand I played and eventually got crippled by the girl who won it all.
"She's a donkey," explained Jonno who lost to her heads-up.
She was not a very good player but I was happy to take 3rd, while Jonno took down 2nd. I tipped the dealers $40 on a $350 win and they were ecstatic. The best part of the tournament (besides busting Change100) was winning the last longer with Schecky.
After the tournament, Mean Gene, Jonno, Change100 and I headed to the pit to play Pai Gow. We taught Mean Gene and although he made a few rookie mistakes, he only lost $20 on a $10 table. We drank some more beer and I only lost $20. Remarkable.
After checking my tournament spreadsheet, I'm showing a $1200 profit this year. That's a shocker. Usually I'm losing a few grand every few months playing tournaments. Of course, I'm going to donk all of those winnings off in a WSOP event at some point this summer.
Thursday: Small Peckers
Change100 and I headed back to Red Rock for a couple hours of poker before we started working the WSOP. That might have been my last session for a very long time. There was an 8/16 game going but it was short-handed with the local rocks. I decided not to play and sat down at 4/8 with one goal... to tilt the locals. I always thrive on a good challenge and quickly found an opportunity on the third hand that I played.
I peeked at the first card as soon as it hit my chip stack. The 7d. The dealer pitched in the next card seconds later. I peeled back to see 2c. Hammertime.
I raised. Four callers. The flop was Q-7-2. I check-called a bet. Still four players. The turn was a blank and I check-raised. I got one caller. The river was another blank. I bet out and was called by K-Q. The Asian lady was wicked pissed and called me a donkey in Vietnamese. The locals hate The Hammer and they hate getting outplayed by someone younger than them even more.
I got paid off in two big pots. I raised pre-flop with Ac-Kc and got five callers. I flopped a full house on a board of A-A-K. I bet out and was called on the flop and turn by four players. The river was the 9h. I was check-raised by emo-kid in Seat 8 who somberly listened to his iPod the entire time. I re-raised. He re-raised. I re-raised and he took off his headphones and dramatically uttered, "I think you got A-K."
No shit, Sherlock. He called and showed 9-9.
"Thanks for believing me," I said. "Now you can go back to listening to Death Cab for Cutie."
A couple of hands after, I raised with Jh-Jd preflop. Five callers. The flop was Q-9-8 but gave me a gutshot which I rivered when the 10 hit. The Vietnamese woman raised me and I three-bet the river. She called and reluctantly showed A-10 for just a pair of 10s. I flipped over J-J and she slammed her hand on the table. That time, I caught a tirade of curse words all in her native tongue.
Ten minutes before we left for the night, I lost the biggest hand that I think I ever lost at 4/8. I had 3s-3c on the button and called three-bets preflop. Six people in the pot. The flop was Kd-5d-3h. The betting was capped on the flop with four callers. I was worried that someone had 5-5 or worse... K-K. I figured that one player had A-A or A-K and another player had the flush draw. But what did that other guy have? The turn was the 5d. No way he could have gotten quads. Maybe he had Kings? I re-raised the flop and was re-raised. I capped it and we had four players see the river. When the case 3 fell, I almost knocked over my stack because I quickly grabbed a column of grey chips. Two players were all in after I raised.
Emo-kid: A-AQuads over Quads over nut flush over Aces up. Too bad we missed the bad beat jackpot. The qualifying hand was Quad 7s losing to a better hand. That hit to my stack stung.
MVWFM (Malcontent Vietnamese Woman with a Foul Mouth): Ad-9d
WWII Vet: 5-5
Your Hero: 3-3
I called out one guy for being an asshole at the table. I loathe dealer abuse. There's no need for that in poker. I also noticed he stiffed the dealer twice on hands he won. He had been sitting next to me in Seat 2 and bitched and moaned after taking a couple of beats. There was one legit suckout while the other two times he played his hand so poorly that he should have been self-mutilating his own genitals after his atrocious play. He switched seats thinking that would change his luck. It didn't happen. Instead, he lost a big pot and busted out when his A-Ko lost to Ah-Kh. The flop was Ax-8h-3h and there was plenty of action on the flop and the turn. The river was a baby heart and he was all-in for $3. When he saw that he lost, he intentionally threw his cards at the dealer.
"Hey, that was rude," I said in my tough-guy New Yorker voice. "You owe that lady an apology."
He didn't say anything to the dealer and muttered something about the suckout.
"Take the beat like a man. A real man would have not thrown his cards like a baby."
He slithered away from the table in silence and the dealer leaned over to me and whispered, "Thank you."
"So do you guys think he wasn't hugged enough as a child or has a two inch penis?"
After polling the table, we decided that he suffered from a case of minuscule genitals.
Don't forget to check out LasVegasVegas for Flipchip's WSOP photos. And come back at the Tao of Poker for daily recaps and head over at PokerNews for live coverage and updates including chipcounts.
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