Monday, December 31, 2007

On the Road in 2007 - Video

By Pauly

I finally completed the highly anticipated end of year video where I highlight all of my travels in 2007.

Click here to view the video via RSS or Bloglines....

Here's a brief explanation:

A Tao of Pauly movie highlighting different adventures on the road in 2007. This short travel film was shot on location in Australia (Melbourne, Gold Coast, Sydney, Great Ocean Road, Philip Island), Barcelona, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Monte Carlo, London, New York City, Sunrise FL, Key West and Las Vegas.

Footage includes the Langerado music festival in Sunrise, FL featuring Galactic, Trey Anastasio Band, My Morning Jacket, and Medeski Martin & Wood. The music festival footage of Jet and Muse was shot at the Big Day Out festival in Gold Coast, Australia.

The soundtrack includes the Beastie Boys, Wu Tang Clan, Jens Lenkman, and Thievery Corporation.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Tao of Poker 2007 Year in Review - Part 2

By Pauly
New York City

Here's Part 2 of the Year in Review which covers June through December including the WSOP, WSOP-Europe, EPT Barcelona, and the Poker News Cup. I spent over six weeks in Europe including stints Amsterdam, Sweden, Barcelona, and London and went back to Australia for the second time in 2007.

* * * * *


I started the month in Las Vegas covering the WSOP. You should probably just read through all of the June archives.

I was working in excess of 120 hours a week for Poker News, yet managed to find the time to write around 60K words in June on Tao of Poker about the WSOP. And that doesn't include assignments for other clients that I wrote.

Welcome to the WSOP was an introduction post and also mentioned my cash at a TI tournament.

Day 1: Long Lines, Shitty Cards, and the French Fries Prop Bet is about the insane lines at the Rio and how I lost an eating prop bet with Tiffany.

Day 2: The Poker Sauna, 3,000 Monkeys, and Pussy Pics was when I officially dubbed the poker tent as the "poker sauna" which was a term that would end up getting ripped off by other hacks covering the WSOP.

Day 3: MrSmokey1 Day and Matusow & Forrest $100,000 Weight Loss Prop Bet recaps the youngest ever bracelet winner (at the time).

Day 4: PLO Madness, Prop Putting, and the Return of Liz Lieu Tuesdays had some interesting highlights from 5K PLO w/ Rebuys.

Day 5: Stealing from the G, Donkey Bomber Wins, and Poker Tent Blown Away covered Pokerati's own DonkeyBomber winning his first bracelet (and it would not be his last). Also in that epic post included excerpts from Tony G's post after he caught CardPlayer stealing from PokerNews' coverage. I know that they had been stealing shit because I entered fake names into the chip count and they lifted every one... including Derek, The Rooster, one of the guys from Phish, and Sailor Roberts... who had passed away years ago.

Day 6: Burt Boutin Wins Event #7 and Brandi's Universe... Boutin was jacked up on twenty-seven Red Bulls and Brandi Hawbaker played in the WSOP and caught everyone's attention.

Day 7: One Week Down, Six to Go... man, by the time the first week ended, I was spent. But two players who won bracelets in the first week would end up having remarkable runs at the 2007 WSOP. Those two men were... Tom "DonkeyBomber" Schneider and Alex Kravchenko, who had won Event #9.

Day 8: Where's Vinnie? captured the beginning of the Vinnie Vinh Saga. Little did we all know, that he would become one of the biggest stories of the 2007 WSOP.

Day 9: Vinnie Vinh Alive and Mrs. Spaceman Takes Down Blogger Title... even on my rare day off, I still managed to write a but about Mrs. Spaceman taking down the blogger tournament after beating Grubbette heads up.

Day 10: Allen Cunningham Wins #5, Phil Hellmuth Seeks #11, and Negreanu Joins Team of PokerStars... the always quiet and super professional Allen Cunningham silently picked up his 5th bracelet. He'll have 10 by the end of the decade and 15 by 2015.

Day 11: Hellmuth's 11 and Liz Lieu Tuesdays recaps Hellmuth's record setting bracelet win.

Day 12: Shootout discussed the bank robbery near UNLV and the big hooker bust at the Rio.

Day 13: Good Morning Vietnam and Step into the Freezer is about one of the biggest disappointments of the WSOP... the infamous Bluff Tent. Here's a bit... I fear that the Forbidden City/Black Hole/Sequestarium will become Bluff's own personal Vietnam minus the hookers saying, "No boom-boom with soul brother."

Day 14: Lost Paradise was one of those pieces that 50% who read it thought it was sheer brilliance and genius, while the other 50% thought it was utter garbage and got so angry that other people loved it. My favorite line was... "All flights eventually land in Las Vegas to drop off more wretches who foolishly think they can tame the lost paradise. I'm one of them." I was super exhausted when I wrote it and that those words poured out when I sat down at the machine to write. I fell asleep at my laptop and when I woke up two hours later late for work, I hit publish instead of trying to re-write it and organize my thoughts. It might have been better, or might have lost it's punch. Who knows. It is what it is.

Day 15: Clements Time, the $18,000 Weed Prop Bet, and Brandon Schaefer Crushes Day 1 detailed a bet I wanted to make with a pothead friend of mine.

Day 16: Congestion Mutation and the Ghost of Vinnie Vinh chronicled the zoo-like atmosphere at the Rio because of the fans and the amateur paparazzi who take non-stop photos of their favorite pros.

Day 17: Hellmuth's 60th Cash and Eskimo Clark Lives was one of the shorter posts I wrote all summer. As Michalski would say to me, "You totally phoned it in there."

Day 18: Down Goes Eskimo, Hellmuth's 12, and Liz Lieu Tuesdays included a heated exchange between an unknown internet pro who stood up and bullied Hellmuth as they jawed back and forth for a few hours.

Day 19: The Ghost of Stuey Ungar and Katja Thater Wins Razz Bracelet is the post that a lot of close friends (and people I deeply respect and admire) thought was one of my best pieces from the summer and one of the best things written at the entire WSOP. If I had known it was going to get so much attention, I would have spent more time on it.

Day 20: Hoyt Corkins Wins Bracelet and Heads Up Prop Betting recapped Hoyt Corkins bracelet run.

Day 21: Late Night Hijinks, Lisandro's Breakthrough Victory, and Fantasy Sports Live... might not have been the best thing I wrote all summer, but I recall that I had the most fun writing it. This is why... "As soon as my event ended, my pharmaceutical cocktail of generic Vicodin and NyQuil Day medicine (which Ed from Gutshot pointed out was actually called DayQuil) finally kicked in. Wired. Eight hours too late. That's what I was so I wandered around in a buzzed state."

Day 22: I Never Thought I'd Make It This Far was another short piece which I most likely phoned in..

Day 23: Live Poker Is Rigged, Tilting CK Hua, and How I Cashed in Event #38 detailed Day 1 of the only event I played in at the WSOP. I made it to Day 2 which ensured a cash in my first open WSOP event. I had made the final table of the media event in 2005

Day 24: 119/2778 = $4,740 is were I recapped Day 2 of the only event I played at the WSOP. I ended up getting busted by Erica Schoenberg.

Day 25: Horse Day 2 and Liz Lieu Tuesdays included the 50K HORSE event.

Day 26: Horse Day 3 and Wednesday Pimp included more recaps of HORSE.

Day 27: Lindgren Wins $340K Golf Prop Bet and $50K HORSE Final Table Set discussed how Erick Lindgren almost died from an insane golfing prop bet... and how I was one of the only people who bet on him and not against him.

Day 28: Freddy Deeb Wins $50K HORSE and I was there in the front row doing color commentary for Poker News. The final table ended at 5am.

Day 29: Sartre's Lobster was inspired by a conversation about Jean-Paul Sartre that I had with Benjo during the final table of HORSE. I had been worrying about things out of my control and that had been eating away at my soul. Once HORSE ended and after my conversation with Benjo, I felt a thousand times better. Although I was physically worn down and mentally battered after a month of insane work, I felt that a tremendous burden had been lifted off of my shoulders.

* * * * *


The month began deep into the WSOP.

Day 30: Donkey Bomber Wins Second Bracelet and Bill Edler the Stunning One Wins First Bracelet is about a rare day when the good guys actually won.

Day 31: European Invasion discussed all the Europeans who showed up for the $10K PLO event.

Day 32: Doyle's Eleven and Liz Lieu Tuesdays covered Texas Dolly's run for bracelet #11.

Day 33: Smells Like Happiness was written on a rare day off where I went to see Widepread Panic play at the old Aladdin Theatre, now called Planet Ho. Anyway, I listed the first 51 bracelet winners of the 2007 WSOP in that post.

Day 34: Hello Cleveland summed up some of the odd sports betting that had been going on during the WSOP and why only a small percentage of players who won online seats would actually show up.

Day 35: Seidel Captures #8 and the Disease of Conceit included my praise for Seidel winning his 8th bracelet and the circus that takes over up in the Rio shortly before the Main Event.

Day 36: Main Event Day 1a... the title says it all.

Day 37: Main Event Day 1b is where I wrote... If Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons was covering Day 1b of the WSOP, he'd say, "Worst WSOP ever." I can't explain what was wrong. I described Day 1a as "poker on Valium".

Day 38: Main Event Day 1c is where the action picked up a bit. I watched Jose Canseco bust out and sweated Antonio Tarver while I caught a glimpse of Nelly. Oh and Phil Hellmuth crashed his UB racing car in the parking lot. Fun stuff.

Day 39: Main Event Day 1d... wait there was a 1d? Yes, and Phil Hellmuth showed up in true Hellmuthian fashion.

Day 40: Main Event Day 2a... was Todd Phillips Day at the WSOP. I guess that sums up how boring it was.

Day 41: Main Event Day 2b and yes, by the end of the day I was searching so hard to find a story... any story... about the 2007 WSOP main event. I guess the biggest story of note was Vinnie Vinh showing up on Day 2 after skipping out at the end of Day 1.

Day 42: Main Event Day 3 - Bubblicious recapped the money bubble.

Day 43: Main Event Day 4 - Dealing for Dario centered around Dario Minieri's run at the front of the pack along with several unknown European players.

Day 44: Main Event Day 5 is when the field thinned out and we first got to see who was going to make a run for the final table including Scotty Nguyen and RainKhan who was that crazy guy who ran around the ballroom with a chair on his head.

Day 45: Main Event Day 6 - The Final 9 was the day that everyone was waiting for... who would make the final table?

Day 46: The Main Event Final Table Bios is self-explanatory.

Day 47: Jerry Yang Wins the WSOP Main Event... and after seven long weeks, we had a new champion.

WSOP Epilogue: A Leap of Faith is something that I wrote a day after Jerry Yang won the WSOP main event.

Before I moved out of Las Vegas, I managed to play a little bit which inspired the posts... Unusual Dysfunctional Gambling Tales and The $80 Tip and a Trio of Crazy Asian Ladies.

* * * * *


August was an interesting month. I spent time in Hollyweird (and unwinding on the beaches of Malibu) and conjured up Kafka's Shake.

I headed back to NYC for a bit, where I wrote Butterfly Dreams and Paranoid Android, which happened to be inspired by the song by Radiohead with the same title.

I moved to Amsterdam for two weeks. I rented a canal apartment with Benjo and Jonny Mushrooms. Hijinks ensued.

Here's a video of the Amsterdam apartment.

Click here to view the video via RSS or Bloglines...

While in Amsterdam, I penned Low Life, the Rat Pit, and George Washington's Poker Blog which discussed the book Low Life by Luc Sante that I finished reading shortly before my trip to Europe.

While in Amsterdam, Tao of Poker turned four years old.

I got flown up to Stockholm, Sweden for a conference with the OnGame Network, which I chronicled in Sweet Sweet Sweden.

I eventually made my way to Barcelona and I rented an apartment with Change100 while we were in town to cover the EPT Barcelona. Upon my arrival in Spain, I wrote Inspiration Daydream.

My coverage of the EPT Barcelona on Tao of Poker included:

Day 1a: Avoid the Local Sausage and Day 2: The JFC Factor and Pros Love Barcelona.

Check out my summer Amsterdam photo gallery.

Also, check out my Sweden photo gallery.

* * * * *


I started the month in Barcelona and finished up covering the EPT Barcelona for Poker News. And guess what? Another Scandi won a EPT event, which inspired Scandis Continue to Dominate the EPT.

Our next gig was the WSOP-Europe in London where Change100 and I spent two long weeks covering the event as an official media provider for Poker News.

Day 1 - Think of London, Small City summed up my thoughts and experiences on Day 1 of the WSOPE.

Day 3 - German Thomas Bihl Beats Jen Harman for First European Bracelet and yeah Harman was so friggin' close to winning a bracelet... and just missed.

Day 4 - Dario Alioto Rips Tony G Apart at PLO Final Table and yes, The G made a final table and almost pulled off a victory.

Day 5 - Main Event Day 1a: The Phil He11muth Show centered around all the attention that Phil Hellmuth got during the first day of the main event. He was in rare form and got shitfaced at the featured table.

Day 6 - Main Event Day 1b: The Antonius Factor recapped the amazing run from the Finnish boy toy.

Day 7 - Main Event Day 2a: The Gus Hansen Experience... not to be outdone by Antonius, Gus Hansen but on a show of his own.

Day 8 - Main Event Day 2b: The Biggest Game in Town captured my favorite day in London when Michael Craig introduced me to the legendary Al Alvarez and I chatted with Tony Holden about writing.

Day 9 - Main Event Day 3: Bursting the British Bubble... and yes the money bubble broke at the WSOPE.

Day 10 - Main Event Day 4: Gus Hansen Bubbles Off Final Table... after a week of poker, the final table was set and the Great Dane missed it by one spot.

And when the dust finally settled... Annette_15 Wins WSOPE Main Event & Becomes Youngest Bracelet Winner.

On my flight back to NYC, I suffered a Transatlantic Bad Beat Story.

While on vacation in Florida, I spent time with my good buddy Jerry and wrote Lizard Tails in his dining room.

Then it was off to Key West for a week with the AlCantHang posse. One of our daily misadventures included spending time in strip clubs. Hence, another installment of Existential Conversations with Strippers was spawned. The latest edition was titled Vol. III: Identity.

The rest of the gang showed up a couple of days later. Some of our hijinks were chronicled in The Ghosts of Key West Gambling.

Check out my Barcelona photo gallery.

Check out my London photo gallery.

Check out my Key West photo gallery.

* * * * *


I started the month in Florida, flew to NYC, and then to Hollyweird for a bit before I flew to Australia for the second time in 2007.

More Existentialist Conversations with Strippers: The Afternoon Shift... was also inspired by a visit to strip clubs during the day with the AlCantHang posse.

Here's a bull riding video of Key West hijinks...

Click here to view the bull riding... via RSS or Bloglines

While in NYC, I dug up some old CDs and started to religious listening to Eat a Peach by the Allman Brothers Band.

Before I left NYC, I managed to write No Surprises.

While I was in Melbourne, the Absolute Poker scandal got blown wide open. My response was titled Cheaters, Thieves, and Angle Shooters.

Schecky won Event #4 of the Poker News Cup and I was doing lots of degenerate gambling down under.

JL514, a fellow blogger, made the final table of the Poker News Cup.

On my last night in Melbourne, I managed to play some poker and I won an SNG against some Aussie poker dealers, which I highlighted in Poker in Australia.

* * * * *


With my final assignment of 2007 complete, I took off two months to write for myself and travel and rest up for the remainder of the year.

Change100 and I flew to Sydney for a week. I had to go to the ER, which I succinctly wrote about in A Day in the Life.

When my finger healed, I sat down and wrote a detailed account of my trip to the ER and a visit to the Worst Poker Room in the World with Nigel.

While down under, I was interviewed by a reporter investigating the NYC poker room killing. I got quoted at ABC News.

And here's a cute video that I shot that has koalas.

Click here to view the koalas video...via RSS or Bloglines

After I got back from Oz, I finally got to spend some quality time in NYC. Three full weeks! I started work on a new writing project but I managed to write a few poker posts such as Simple and No Accidents.

I got nostalgic about living in Las Vegas with Grubby and wrote up Milestones and Run the Voodoo Down.

I got to play a private tournament with Al Alvarez and Tony Holden and I also got an autographed copy of Wil Wheaton's latest book.

I also posted the latest version of my Surviving Las Vegas Tips 5.0.

Check out my second Australia photo gallery.

* * * * *


It almost seems pointless to post the highlights of December, but I'm going to do it anyway.

Pusherman was one of my favorite posts that I wrote in 2007. It definitely makes my Top 5 list.

Chip Reese passed away and the entire poker world lost a legend and a true gentlemen.

Don't miss the blogger gathering reports...
Act I: Cowboys, Brits, and Bloggers
Act II: The Procedure and the Final Table Bubble
Act III: After Midnight
And the 21 Day Itch was also noteworthy.

And check out my Las Vegas Flickr gallery.

* * * * *

And that's it for the 2007 retrospective. Of course, what I posted here is only what I think is the best of the Tao of Poker. There might have been a post or two that I missed, that's why I encourage you to re-read my archives to discover some hidden gems.

Thanks to everyone for their support in 2007. Special thanks goes out to one of my sponsors... PokerStars. Most of what I do could not be possible without their partnership, assistance, and support.

Best of luck to you at the tables in 2008.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Tao of Poker 2007 Year in Review - Part 1

By Pauly
New York City

It's been a tough, yet amazing 2007. I battled through a lot of personal illness and despite the UIGEA, I managed to have one of my most successful years as a poker player, a writer, and a blogger. Although I barely had any free time to myself, I was in constant motion. I got flown all over the world to cover different poker tournaments, I met tons of cool and interesting people, and got to embark on several original experiences.

Unfortunately a two-part post cannot do 2007 justice. My best advice is to go back and re-read Tao of Poker via the archives since I'm always tired, burnt out, and unmotivated when I eventually sit down to write the Year in Review.

* * * * * *


I started the new year in San Francisco. In fact just three hours into 2007, I ran into a fan of the Tao of Poker while at a My Morning Jacket concert at the infamous Fillmore Theatre.

A couple of days later, I arrived in Australia to cover the Aussie Millions for Poker News. It was my first trip down under and I was quickly blown away by. I got to hang out with Jules (and meet her boy toy Graham) who cooked me a fatty Aussie BBQ. I ran into plenty of readers and got to hang out with HDouble, who flew in with Full Tilt for the Aussie Millions.

Originally I was hired to do a radio show with John "Schecky" Caldwell. There were some technical difficulties so that project got killed on the spot, even though we taped a couple of segments that never made it to air. Instead, I stepped into the tournament coverage team and continued to write end of day articles for Poker News.

I did a studio recap of one of the first days of the Aussie Millions main event with Schecky. Check out the video...

Click here to view the video via RSS or Bloglines...

I played a private SNG with a bunch of Poker News people and Matt Savage's wife. I got heads up with the Poker Shrink and although we chopped it, I took him down heads up to win.

I got Shronk to eat vegemite for a prop bet. Here's the video...

Click here to view the Vegemite video via RSS or Bloglines...

The worst thing that happened to me in Melbourne was the entire Neteller debacle. I got 34K stuck "in transit" and caught in limbo as my last few transfers from Neteller to my checking account were frozen by the DOJ. Not one cent was from playing online poker and everything was writer's income since the majority of my clients paid me via Neteller transfers including Poker News. It would be almost nine months before I'd see that money... and at the time, I thought I'd lose it forever.

Once the Aussie Millions ended, I hit the road with Brandon Schaefer and Schecky. We headed up to the Gold Coast and spent a few nights in Surfer's Paradise. A wealthy Aussie hooked us up with a fat room at the Palazzo Versace. Schecky knew Tool's tour manager and got us backstage passes to Tool and the Big Day Out music festival in the Gold Coast. We had a crazy, yet surreal moment backstage when we ran into Kate Hudson. It was almost a scene out of Almost Famous.

Here's a video of Big Day Out hijinks featuring The Killers, John Butler Trio, Muse, and Jet...

Click here to view the BDO video via RSS or Blogliness...

After Big Day Out, we migrated down the coast to Byron Bay for a few days where we continued our roving Chinese Poker game. Then Schecky headed home while Schafer and I took a train down to Sydney. We stayed in a hostel with hot French and German chicks. We celebrated Australia Day with Sarne and Ali (from PokerStars the APPT) at a BBQ they hosted in Glebe. The next night we met up with a fan of my blogs named Nigel and crashed his BBQ in another Almost Famous moment.

Here's my Australia photo gallery.

* * * * *


I left Australia in style. I was under budget for the trip and decided to splurge so I upgraded to Business Class on my flight from Sydney to LAX. Upon my return to the States, I was inspired to write Tao of Oz: Travels.

February is also fun because of St. Grubby's Day.

Legalize It was one of my favorite pieces from February. Here's a bit:
Our current politicians would not cure our social maladies if they got their hands on an abundant pool of revenue generated from taxing online poker, prostitution, and marijuana. Think about the possibility of Uncle Sam getting $1 for every bong hit, blow job, and dealt hand on Poker Stars... then they'd have no problems funding the next war in Iran. With a war chest thanks to taxes on marijuana, prostitution, and online poker, the U.S. military could offer twice as much in bonuses to sign up for the armed forces which would alleviate their current enlistment problems. Americans will do anything for money, if the price is right... More
Then there were the Doyle Brunson died rumors. Which turned out to be false.

I started the month in OZ and spent some time in Hollyweird then NYC for a bit before I returned to Hollyweird to cover the LA Poker Classic for Poker News.

I also got strep throat again and was sick for a week or so. On the night I got sick, I won Miami Don's Big Game, which also happened on Chinese New Year. You can read a recap of my first place win called Lucky Pig and the Blogger Big Game.

* * * * *


I started out the month covering the LAPC for Poker News. The final table of the LAPC included Paul Wasicka, Chau Giang, and JC Tran. Eric Hersler went on to win $2.4 million. In a small world twist, I would find myself at the same table with Eric Hershler four months later during the WSOP.

I played in a Beverly Hills home game, just down the street from Change100's apartment, that was hosted by friends of Schecky and Jen Leo. The night also featured a birthday party for the hostess' dog, which included special doggie cupcakes. I had a blast at the tournament. I played against a former NBA player and several people in the entertainment industry including a comedienne. I made the final table and busted a 91 year-old woman. I cashed and finished in third when a 16 year old high school girl slow played pocket aces to knock me out.

Dysthymia is one of my favorites posts from March. It made my Top 10 posts of the year which discussed depression and losing streaks.

March was an interesting month. I started off in Hollyweird, flew to NYC, then down to Florida for a week for the Langerado music festival (with Sweet Sweet Pablo, Change100, and Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot), back to NYC, then out to Las Vegas for a week of March Madness. I had to fly from Las Vegas to NYC before my flight to Monte Carlo which went through Madrid and Nice before I finally arrived to cover the EPT Championship.

Balance was inspired after my trip to Florida and I spent quality time with old friends from college.

I also did an Interview with Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot. Funny shit. My boy PKPNF is hysterical.

I heard another rumor... that the Tilted Kilt was going to be shut down. My reaction? R.I.P. Tilted Kilt.

I flew out to Las Vegas for March Madness with my brother, Senor, and Change100. We stayed at Red Rock and hung out with Miami Don, JW, and Friedman. I had such a rollercoaster week and at one point I was betting 2K on each Elite 8 game.

After two redeyes (Vegas to NYC and NYC to Madrid), I finally arrived in Monte Carlo, a day early because at the last minute the EPT added another Day 1 to accommodate all of their players. Poker News was short staffed and Monte Carlo was one bitch of an assignment. The highlights of the trip was getting to hang out with Otis and Mad from PokerStars and Stephen Bartley from Gutshot. I also met Benjo for the first time and took some money from Snoopy. I pissed next to lots of Scandi pros and I was nearly blinded by tons of hot Swedish ass on the rail sweating random Scandis. Just click here to read about the first three days of the EPT Championship.

Check out the Monte Carlo photo gallery.

Also, check out the Langerado music festival photo gallery.

* * * * *


I started the month in Monte Carlo covering the EPT Championship.

Otis, Three Brits, and a Swede Walk into a Bar... is about a random game of poker that a bunch of us played in the lobby of my hotel in Monte Carlo.

I also discovered that several of my articles for Poker News had been translated into at least twelve different languages.

I agreed to write for during the WSOP.

Then I walked away from the ESPN gig due to creative differences.

I wrote Tranquilize Your Mind in response to the numerous home game poker raids.

After the EPT Championship, I spent a couple of days in Amsterdam before I headed back to NYC for a bit. Then I flew out to Las Vegas to cover the WPT Championships at the Bellagio. Check out my 2007 WPT Championships Preview.

Although I was hired by Poker News to cover the WPT Championships, I managed to stay up late every night writing up recaps for Tao of Poker. Those were some of the best non-WSOP tournament coverage that I did for the entire year. Check out...
Day 1A: The Golden Bluff and Anna Who?
Day 1B: Gary Greenburg and the $100 Belly Poke
Day 2: Phil Hellmuth Poker
Day 3: Tilt-a-Phil
Day 4: The Carrot Top and Hellmuth Blows Load
Day 5: Making the Final Table and Tommy Vu Bitch Slaps Hellmuth
Carlos Mortensen Wins the 2007 WPT Championship
Check out my Amsterdam photos gallery.

* * * * *


Started the month off in Las Vegas covering the WPT Championships and the WSOP Circuit at Caesar's Palace for Poker News. The Circuit event was a preview of our WSOP coverage team as I took a position with the official WSOP coverage team.

I stayed at the IP while covering the WPT Championships and that stint there inspired Labyrinth of Avarice, which included one of my favorite lines... When she refused to give her a drink the redneck got right in her face and said, "Fuck you bitch. Where's my fuckin' Bud Light!"

Once my assignments were over, I stayed behind to find an apartment and played a lot of poker at Red Rock. I penned... Cowboy Clippers and The Ninth Raise.

I wrote a bit on TV Poker.

I went back to NYC for a bit and I played in the I Had Outs homegame. Welcome to the Crackhouse sums up my adventure out to Brooklyn with Spaceman and Mrs. Spaceman.

Imagine is about some hijinks in NYC with Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot.

The Birth of Cool was a popular post among readers. I had sent an email to a friend of mine who was struggling at poker and posted excerpts.

I played in a Darfur Charity event with Humberto Brenes and went heads up against him a couple of times.

I flew to Hollyweird, then drove to Las Vegas at the end of May to move there for two months to cover the WSOP. On my first day in Vegas, I broke a mirror in my new apartment. I guess you can say that No Exit and Broken Mirrors kicked off my WSOP writing.

* * * * *

That's it for Part 1 of the Year on Review. I'll be back in a couple of days with Part 2. Like I said at the beginning, the best bet is to just sift through my archives.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Brief Message from Disco Santa...

By Pauly
New York City

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Friday, December 21, 2007

21 Day Itch

By Pauly
New York City

"Red heads are bad luck," mentioned Senor.

On Christmas Eve in 2000, Veronica sat down next to me at the bar and began flirting with me. We had known her for a couple of years as a peripheral friend. She's the type that guys go apeshit over, with super model looks with the girl-next-door personality. She liked shopping as much as she liked watching the Knicks play. But she was a nymphomaniac and a total jinx. Several of my friends had slept with her and within three weeks of their first sexual encounter, something horrible happened to each of them. It was eerie. Bizarre. Something out of the X-Files.

The curse was like clockwork. You stick your penis inside of her vagina, and on the twenty-first day, tragedy struck. Her vagina got dubbed "The Bermuda Triangle of Doom."

It started when our friend Steve slept with her after an Ozomatli concert. We thought he was a god among men. He nailed the red headed vixen. Little did we know that inside of three weeks, he'd get fired from his job at MTV. Scott was up next and he got into a car accident three weeks to the day of their tryst.

I know what you are thinking... it's just a coincidence, right? Red heads as bad luck is just a superstition or a crock of shit. We felt the same way until the O'Malley brothers tag teamed Veronica. And exactly twenty-one days later... both O'Malley brothers experienced individual tragedies even through they were five time zones apart. During a hike in a national park in Hawaii, one brother slipped off a cliff and broke his leg and three ribs. Wile the other brother was hit by a cab jaywalking near Times Square. This all happened within a hour of each other. At that point, we were all spooked out.

That's when one of our friends who went to college with Veronia told us about how she killed one of her professors. Well, not exactly killed. They started a torrid affair. Three weeks to the day the prof first did the deed, he died of a massive heart attack. The two were having sex in his office when he keeled over. She had been cursed ever since.

The only person who managed to avoid any bad juju was Senor. He got super drunk one night and let down his defenses. He only got a blowjob from her in the bathroom of a dive bar in the East Village, but he was freaked out for three weeks. He barely left his apartment. While walking down a flight of stairs in his building to go to work, he slipped and sprained his ankle. He was convinced that had he had full blown sex, he figured that he would have broken it. We finally found a loophole in the Veronica Jinx.

We were willing to trade off a little pain for some pleasure. Risk assessment at it's finest.

"Red heads are bad luck," mentioned Senor.

I didn't say anything. I was running calculations in my head. If I just jacked off on her tits, I wondered how severe would my punishment be? A bee sting? A parking ticket? A dog bite? Maybe a kid would throw up on me while standing in line at the post office?

* * * * *

One late night in Hollyweird last week, I fired up PokerStars and noticed that the Poker Nerd had signed up for a TURBO SNG. I took the last seat at his table and I actually played poker with the Poker Nerd. If you don't know, the Nerd was a legend among the early poker blogging community. He played dozens of SNGs simultaneously. He was the first non-pro that I knew who achieved Supernova status on PokerStars by multitabling $100 SNGs. He was a fuckin' machine and I used to sweat his tables in utter awe at his keen multi-tabling skills. His blog posts were some of the best strategy I had ever read on the web. Sadly, the Poker Nerd stopped blogging then eventually pulled the plug on his blog. Alas, the Nerd was no more.

I thought I saw a ghost when I recognized his screen name... but it was in fact the Poker Nerd playing online. A blast from the past. The Ghost of Christmas Past. The Poker Nerd. Someday, I hope he starts writing again. About anything. Nice playing with you, sir!

My recent guilty pleasure has been $27 Turbos on PokerStars. They are super soft and not expensive enough that I can play like a maniac and get knocked out early and not care. I either bust out 8th or 9th or win the damn thing outright. 90% of my cashes in my most recent spurt have been first place finishes. All or nothing for me.

I played one Turbo on Stars with a read/bogger named Silent Rebel. He mentioned that he went to a strip club in the afternoon because of me. Awesome.

I have been playing 5/10 HORSE on Poker Stars. One night, a xenophobic inbred nit had some not so nice things to say as he rained racial epithets down at me. If you have never seen my avatar on Stars, it's a picture of Gary Coleman circa the Diff'rent Strokes era in the early 1980s. He assumed that I was black and dropped a bunch of n-bombs. I ignored the bigot and turned off his chat.

I lost a prop bet and had to play Riverchasers last week. I played super loose and built up a stack early. I had a good starting table with Hoy, Bayne, and GCox. I think I finished in 18th place and made the money. Of course, Full Tilt crashed with 13 players to go, so it looked like I got out at the right time.

Last Friday night, I played online poker at the Long Beach airport. I arrived two hours early and fired up Full Tilt on the laptop as I waited for my flight to JFK. I played 3/6 HORSE and then sat a 1/2 NL table with Daddy, Iggy, Garthmeister, and DonkeyPuncher's table. I won a nice pot with Quad aces. The next day in NYC, the same group of us played and Bobby Bracelet was also in the mix. Ah, it reminded me of the good old days on Party Poker.

Aside from a few blogger tables, tournaments, HORSE and turbo SNGs, I have been running bad at the 10/20 and15/30 LHE tables on PokerStars. I can't seem to win on Stars, yet continue to play there. I got stuck almost $1K over the weekend at the tables. I constantly win at Full Tilt, but there are not as many tables available for the limits I want to play. There's always 10/20 games running on Stars, yet when I sit down, tragedy strikes.

I had a rough session on Wednesday night. I got my ass reamed. I misplayed one or two hands, but the remainder of the carnage was ugly. I was two tabling it and not paying attention to my stack. When I finally decided to quit, I was shocked to discover that I was down 40 BBs spread out over both tables. I thought I was playing good and solid poker. A few suckouts and a few missed draws later... and I found myself in the hole. Again.

I played some NL on Thursday morning and took another vicious whopping by a two outer. Set me on such tilt that I logged off and vowed to not play poker for a while. A friend from college, Singer, introduced me to tournament hold'em in 1997 when we both lived in Seattle. He used to play a lot of cash games too and had a way to avoid tilt after wicked bad beats. He would get up and smoke a cigarette. He once left a tournament when it was three-handed after he got his Aces cracked brutally. He walked away and got blinded off for a few minutes while he stood on the rail and smoked his way off tilt. He went back to the table relaxed and came from behind to win it.

So after experiencing my bad beat, I heeded Singer's advice and took a break. I intended it to last a couple of days, but last night Change100 told me that she made the final table of a LHE tournament (she signed up by mistake and I always wondered if about 15% of entrants in Limit tournaments thought it was NL when they signed up). Anyway, there's was an open seat at an 8/16 LHE table and two of the bigger fish I knew were playing, so I jumped into the fight. I only played for a little bit and quit when Change100 got knocked out. I won $16 or one BB. It's not much, but it felt good to post a winning session. I'm feeling blah and under the weather, so I expect to take the next few days off and rest up.

* * * * *

Need a last minute idea for a Christmas present? How about some poker books?
Texas Poker Wisdom by Johnny Hughes
Bigger Deal by Anthony Holden
Kill Everyone by Lee Nelson & Joe Hachem
The Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide: Tournament Edition edited by Michael Craig
And here are some non-poker titles that I suggest...
IV by Chuck Klosterman
Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakauer
The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris
Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins
The Happiest Days of Our Lives by Wil Wheaton

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

ebk03001 Wins Sundays with Dr. Pauly

By Pauly
New York City

After ten weeks, the Sundays with Dr. Pauly promotion at Fantasy Sports Live is complete. Congrats to ebk03001 for taking it down.
1st Place: ebk03001 - 1286 ($100 cash + $50 added to FSL account)
2nd Place: RTrizzle - 1262.3 (Any football themed DVD)
3rd Place: jek187 - 1236.7 (Blind Side by Michael Lewis)
4th Place: Expensive Wino - 1235.8 (Phone call from Daddy)

Here's the final standings for the Top 30:
1. ebk03001 1286
2. RTrizzle 1262.3
3. jek187 1236.7
4. Expensive Wino 1235.8
5. bayne_s 1219
6. bonds 1166.6
7. Dr. Pauly 1165.6
8. HermWarfare (Derek) 1125.1
9. BigHeeb91 1120.6
10. Big Pirate 1115.7
11. Proehl 1071.2
12. Chewbot 1051.4
13. Pokerpeaker 1028.6
14. Mark 1026.9
15. Betty Underground 1026.9
16. jakehead 1019.1
17. Mattazuma 969.3
18. KenB525 954.8
19. change100 950.3
20. DrizzDJ 945.4
21. Zeem 936.6
22. Bobby Bracelet 878.2
23. DonkeyPuncher 787.4
24. 23skidoo 662
25. PokahDave 633.2
26. VinNay 628.5
27. Garthmeister J. 619.4
28. johnnieb 613.8
29. Party Matt 602.6
30. Alpo_Splatr 590.3
If you are one of the four people who won prizes... congrats! You will be getting an email from me shortly about collecting your prize information.

Also, thanks to everyone you participated. We appreciate your patronage over at Fantasy Sports Live. I think we will have some sort of featured weekly contest named Sundays with Dr. Pauly for either the hoops or hockey. Stay tuned.

We also appreciate everyone spreading the good word about Fantasy Sports Live to their family, friends, and co-workers. Keep up the good work.

With the NFL season winding down, there will still be daily action on the NBA and the NHL. You don't have to wait until Sunday to get your fantasy sports fix. You can play in fantasy basketball or fantasy hockey contests any day of the week. Some contests cost as little as $1 to enter. That's the best way to get onto the FSL Leaderboard.

And yes, the rumors are true... fantasy NASCAR will be coming to FSL in 2008. If you do not have a FSL account, join today using my bonus code... pauly.

Bonus Code: Pauly

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Act III: After Midnight

By Pauly
Las Vegas

When the dark side of Las Vegas takes over, it's one helluva ride. If you survive the depths of despair without losing too much of your mind, dignity, and soul, you'll have plenty of war stories to tell your drinking buddies at the end of a bar or entertain your work friends while huddled around the water cooler. Some day, when you are on your deathbed with tubes of all sorts coming out of your body, you might reveal your inner wild child to your grandchildren, who sit in bewilderment about some of your most outlandish stories.

The running theme among the other trip reports seem to all center around the same thing. Mostly everyone who attended had two separate lives. The first one is the one that you live most of the time, which is not as glamorous while you're cleaning juice stains off the carpet, or shuffling off to work to fill out TPS reports, or getting chewed out by your spouse. Normal life can be a fuckin' bitch sometimes, and that's the one you secretly wish to escape as you leap into your other life. The gateway to your other personality is the intertubes where you slide into your online persona and let loose into the virtual world. But twice a year, both worlds collide at a real life gathering of imaginary internet friends, which plays out on the sordid streets of Las Vegas.

And under the bright neon lights things get a little out of hand. As they should. Most of you bust your ass all year and are entitled for a long, wild, and crazy weekend of ludicrousness, where you blow off steam, shed the protective layers of everyday life and immerse yourself into the rock star lifestyle. It's a whirlwind adventure, sort of like running with the bulls in Pamplona, except there are no bulls and lots more hookers. You willingly engage in degenerate gambling in -EV games, consume more liquor inside a 72 hour period than you did the previous six months, and commingle with unsavory characters with criminal records that you wouldn't let your children near for six seconds.

But that's the beauty of Las Vegas. Sure it's a physical place, but it's also a mythical location where anything goes. That's why you have to surrender to the flow the minute you drive into the city limits or the moment you exit your plane at McCarran airport. And sometimes, you get your ass kicked around. Sin City is brutal, relentless, and does not discriminate. And maybe, just maybe, you can tame the iniquitous gambling demons and ride the wave of good fortune as a choir of angels sing your good praises. It doesn't happen too often, but that's why you go to Las Vegas, for a walk on the wild side. Otherwise, you would have flown to Hawaii for a relaxing vacation instead.

Saturday night in Las Vegas. There's nothing quite like it on Earth. I've been to some raging parties all over the globe, but nothing compares to the level of debauchery that you will find on any given Saturday in Las Vegas. And of course, we happened to gather on one of the busiest weekends in Las Vegas with an UFC fight, a major boxing match (which drew in about one fifth of the entire British Empire roving the streets of Las Vegas like drunken hooligans), the rodeo finals, and of course, the winter gathering of mischievous online poker players. The only thing that would have made the weekend crazier would have been a couple of sheets of acid.

It was after midnight, when I stumbled into the IP with The Rooster fresh off his victory in the blogger tournament. The first place we headed was the Geisha Bar, which aptly transforms into the hooker bar once the sun goes down. The ladies of the night were out in force, circling the crowd for fresh meat. One of them flirted with the Rooster and wondered why he carried around the trophy. When they found out that he had won a lot of cash, they perked up. But brother, the Rooster ain't no john. The Rooster is a pimp and I wouldn't have been surprised if he had both girls hustling for him by the end of the night. Fear the Rooster when he crows after midnight.

The ladies of the night flirted with almost everyone that I knew at the Geisha Bar. We were on their turf now. They had to make their nut. Let's say they need to make $3K per night. Well, then can fuck 10 guys at $300 a pop or fuck three at $1K. Hookers always had a sliding scale, but they had to meet a quota for their pimp or earn enough money to pay their drug debts or needed to get enough to pay bills or to feed their morbid addictions. Whatever the reasons, the hookers trolled the Geisha Bar for potential customers. They knew our gang liked to chat them up, but were dead ends. They only other choices were rowdy Brits or cheap cowboys. One of them whirled over to several boxing hooligans and disappeared into their circle.

Derek and GMoney were playing their game, "Working or Not?" Some of them were less subtle about their approaches and would straight up proposition you. The others were a little more coy although they weren't fooling us, but maybe an innocent Brit or an unsuspecting cowboy might have fallen for their lines. I'm happy than no one in our group got rolled by a hooker this year. And yes, no one died, and no one had to be rushed to the ER. It seemed this batch could hold their liquor, although I had one moment where I crossed that demarcation line where I almost got into trouble.

VinNay brought over a shot in a boot. That was the beginning of the end. That was the flashpoint. Every Las Vegas bender has one, were the entire direction abruptly changes course and you slip down the deviant path to destruction. For me, it was the shot of Crown Royal. The Geisha Bar had some sort of special with Crown Royal for the Rodeo. I guess they were trying to get cowboys to drink it in bulk. They had discounted shots that came in a souvenir boot. VinNay walked over with a couple of shots. AlCantHang respectfully protested. He knows better and opted out with SoCo instead. Me? I'm psychotic and did not want to disrespect someone who was gracious enough to buy me a drink.

"Bottoms up," I screamed as VinNay and I downed the shot.

Whiskey makes my eyes look mean. Whiskey sends a burning sensation throughout my entire body. And whiskey makes me slur my speech and do stupid things like want to pick fights with cowboys twice my size and talk smack to Pai Gow dealers and taunt the hookers.

After talking to VinNay about fantasy sports (and he mentioned that the Jaguars would be a lock so I scribbled down his pick in my notebook), I stumbled into the poker room. There was an open seat at a 1/2 NL table with TripJax, Jordan, Fuel55, and Schaubs. I bought in for $100 and within an orbit I lost my stack to TripJax when he rivered me. I could barely see straight, but that didn't matter. Rebuy! Three hands later, I doubled up against Jordan with K-K to get even.

Enter the Rooster, three sheets to the wind.

Like a pinball, the Rooster bounced his way into the poker room and rolled over to our table. He slammed his hammer trophy down on the felt. He unfurled his gansta roll and peeled off three $20 bills. He bought in for $60 and I lost it and almost fell off my chair. Cagey mofo. He had a few grand on him and went for a short buy.

On the first and only hand the Rooster played, I felted him. I raised in MP and the Rooster re-raised to $30. I called with J-10 because I figured it was good. The flop was A-K-10. I checked my gutshot with bottom pair. The Rooster moved all in for his last $30. I thought for a second and headed into the tank. The Rooster tabled his hand because he thought that I called. He showed 9-8. I peeked at my cards and showed Fuel55. I had bottom pair and was ahead. It was an obvious call. My hand held up and the Rooster got felted. He didn't rebuy. He stood up, grabbed his trophy, and walked away. He saddled up to the first female he spotted and chatted her up. Always be closing.

That's when things got really blurry. I cashed out of the game and then...

...I don't recall too much until I burst into my room and pissed off the balcony as Change100 watched in bewilderment. It takes a lot to shock someone who worked for a decade in Hollyweird. But I managed to do so. The culprit was the whiskey. Oh and everything else that I drank or smoked.

After being up for two straight days, I passed out shortly before sunrise. My cell rang at 9:01am. It was Derek waking me up for the football games. I shook off the hangover and headed straight for the sportsbook.

Over the last year, my sports betting had spun out of control. I started the beginning of the NFL season in London and had easy access to multiple betting parlors. There was one next to my hotel. There was one around the corner from the casino and one across Leicester Square. I kept pressing the action when I headed down under to Australia and bet on local hoops action. I also was in the middle of my winning streak in the Swedish hockey league. At that point, I was jonesin' for anything. I got lucky and stopped before it got ugly. I took action and quit while I still had a positive bankroll. I cashed out my entire sports betting bankroll and decided to put it to good use for a trip to New Zealand at the end of January and to pay for a trip to Florida for a music festival in March.

Yes, I quit online sports betting... cold turkey, too. No mas Betsson. No mas Bodog.

I also capped my betting limits on any given sports bet in a live casino. At one point earlier in the year, I was betting up to $2K a game during March Madness and the NBA playoffs. It was getting out of hand... but I averted disaster and pretty much broke even for both. I ended up winning more than I lost, but the juice on the losses almost friggin' killed me.

I was excited to bet on the NFL games. That was the main reason I was in town. And since I had cut back substantially, any action was welcomed. $200 or $300 per game was enough to get a taste. Nothing is better than sweating a win, especially an exciting one with plenty of ups and downs and twists and turns. The 4th quarter of the Jets game was a wild one... and lucky for me, I bet against my Jets and took Cleveland.

Miami Don eloquently described the moment in his epic post called Slump Buster. Here's what he wrote...
"After some deep discussion about the game with Dr Pauly we did what any good gambler does; we asked a real live cooler who they like. Well that cooler was none other than Waffles, the most unlucky person perhaps on the planet. "Waffles lets see your tickets" we asked. All but one had the Jets so Pauly and I immediately went to the window and layed a big bet on the Browns -3..."
It's true. We like to fade picks from mushes and coolers. When Waffles showed me his tickets, I winked at MiamiDon and we literally ran to the window. I know I had my self-imposed betting restrictions, but I discovered a loop hole and decided to bet $200 on Cleveland... three times. I'm a dire hard Jets fan, and they suck something fierce. If it weren't for the Dolphins atrocious year, they'd have two less wins.

So we bet Cleveland heavily and the game took an ugly turn in the 4th quarter until we got lucky. As Miami Don explained...
"I can't believe my eyes. Here comes the fucking FG unit onto the field? There is stunned silence in the Sports Book. Mangenius is kicking a FG on 1st and 10 from the 18 down by 9? Holy fuck. In all my life of watching and betting on football I don't remember anybody kicking a FG in this situation so basically he let us of the hook..."
God bless Mangini.

I lost two small bets. Fuckin' Philly couldn't cover against the Giants and I missed Pitt with the money line against the Pats. I knew that was a long shot but the price was too good to pass up. All of my big bets hit... Jaguars, Green Bay, and Cleveland. God, did I love that Cleveland bet. I left the sportsbook up over $1K. I was happy but bitter at the same time. My betting limit restrictions killed what could have been a magnificent day of betting the favorites. Alas, if I had been betting a dime or two a game, I would have probably gotten stuck and the Jets would have fucked up the spread. Regardless... I'll take the win. The sportsbook windfall paid for my entire trip.

Last weekend was one of those times during the season where every single favorite wins and the sportsbooks lose money that week. They always make it back, but for that week, even the biggest losers make money. There are very few feelings that are better than the ones you get when you wait in line to cash a big sports bet ticket. There's always that anticipation as the computer confirms your bet and the number flashes up on the register. The teller always tries to get you to bet your winnings and place new bets. Sometimes, I let it ride, but other times I just want the cash in hand first before I go back a few minutes later to make a bet. I want that thrill of holding my winnings after sweating a three plus hour football game. That sustained high is nothing compared to the elation that sizzles through your body the second you cash a winning ticket and you snatch the cash off the counter.

* * * * *

A few days after I checked out of the IP, I got stuck with a Keith Moon Tax from the front desk. (If you have no idea who Keith Moon is... well, he was the drummer from The Who. Moon became notorious for trashing his hotel rooms while on the road. This is the same guy who once took 14 horse tranquilizers before a concert and passed out during Won't Get Fooled Again. And he was also rumored to have driven a car into a a hotel swimming pool). Apparently, I was fined for "room damages" to my suite. It's sad getting nailed by the cheesy IP of all place, the most ghetto hotel and casino in the center strip which I had referred to as the Imperial Palace of Inbred Peasants. It's not the damn Bellagio for fucks sake, so I dunno how on Earth I got fined by them for trashing my suite. I mean, it wasn't that bad. Sure we had a few people up to party but nothing big.

As Johnny Hughes wrote me, "A room was trashed at the Imperial Palace? How could they tell? A room was trashed at the Imperial Palace. That's an oxymoron. A room was trashed at the Imperial Palace? You are carrying your rock star illusion way too far."

I've trashed nicer hotels all over the world (I'm still amazed they let Senor and myself leave Iceland after what we did to our room at the Hotel Borg in Reykjavik in 2001) and I managed to walk away without a peep. That's why I was both amused and irritated that the suits at the IP blew the whistle on me.

I just pissed off the balcony, it's not like I lit the couch on fire and tossed it off the 11th floor. No big deal. Public urination happens all the time. In Las Vegas, there's four hundred people pissing in public at any given time. No less than a dozen senior citizens are soiling themselves right now at various penny slot machines all over Las Vegas.

Alas, I got nailed with a fine. They had no idea about the balcony incident, but we left the suite in decent condition. I practically live in hotels, and I know whether or not I left it in good or bad shape. Had I known I was going to get fined, I would have thrown a bigger party in my suite and did some proper damage.

On Monday evening as I drove out of Las Vegas, a feeling of satisfaction washed over me. I escaped Sin City as winner and the only substantial loss was my voice. I could barely speak the last day in Las Vegas. That always happens when I'm engaged in conversation for five straight days and have to shout over the annoying slot machine noises or scream over the dealertainers.

I won a little money, partied my ass off, and survived. I left Vegas with a couple of funny pictures (check out my Las Vegas Flickr gallery), several stories, and a plethora of memories that will keep me warm on chilly nights. I don't take those precious moments for granted and do my best to enjoy every milisecond.

I left Las Vegas with a tinge of regret. I didn't get to hang out with everybody and I wanted to stay a couple of more days. I still had the taste in my veins. Las Vegas is one of the most powerful drugs in the world. It sweeps away dreamers on a magic carpet ride. It turns normal people into absurd monsters. It transforms fiscally responsible people into blackholes of wealth. The Las Vegas valley is an asylum for all fallen angels and wayward souls adrift in the world.

I always prefer to leave Las Vegas in a good mood and positive spirit. It really sets the tone for my next adventure. Sometimes I crawl out of Las Vegas mentally battered and morally destroyed, and unable to speak in complete sentences. Other times I leave riding an emotional high of the greatest gift of all... and that's to be alive and in the moment.

My love/hate relationship with Las Vegas continues. I usually get shanked by the gambling demons and left to die in a slippery pool of my own blood, but last weekend, I frolicked in the darkest corners of Las Vegas and emerged unscathed, aside from the Keith Moon Tax. But then again, I can just write that off. It's the price for doing business in Las Vegas.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Act II: The Procedure and the Final Table Bubble

By Pauly
Las Vegas

"There are very few people who can handle The Procedure," warned Bad Blood as he spoke very calmly. "You are one of them."

After our fantastic meal at Nob Hill, Bad Blood pulled me aside and invited me to a strip club before the Venetian Tournament. Back home in G-Vegas, Bad Blood had a routine called The Procedure where he got loaded and hit up a strip club before he played poker. He wanted to do the same thing in Las Vegas.

Bad Blood is one of my oldest friends in the blogging community. We had been online pals since the halcyon days at Party Poker in 2003-04 when we played $5 MTTs on Saturday mornings and slummed around the $25 buy-in NL tables. We finally met for the first time at the blogger gathering three years ago. During a late night meal at the Excalibur, I discovered some personal things about Blood that he never revealed in his blog. I guess those were things I never bothered to ask. During the early days of poker blogging, the content was almost all 100% poker and those blogging rarely revealed anything about their personal lives. That philosophy has shifted over the last few years.

Anyway... Blood has been a good friend for the last few years, but one of the hardest part about these gatherings was that you sometimes don't get enough time to chill out with your friends. It always seemed that Bad Blood and I always had the same regret about these functions... that we wanted to spend more time together. And when he asked me to join him in The Procedure, I quickly said yes. Sure I'm a sucker for strip clubs, but the opportunity to spend quality time with an old friend was certainly more enticing.

After a long day of partying on Friday, I honestly tried to go to sleep. It just didn't happen. Around sunrise, I eventually got out of bed and wrote for an hour or so. At 7am, I left the room and went for a walk outside. Then I wandered back into the IP looking for random bloggers. That's what was great about these gatherings... there's always someone up to hang out with... at any hour. The early shift on Saturday were folks who ran out of gas early or were too tired after a long travel day. They crashed early on Friday night and woke up early, ready to gamble and party.

Around 9:12am, I spotted GCox, Mrs. Cox, and Falstaff in the poker room. I grabbed Subway in O'Shea's which happened to be open at that odd hour. That ended up being the "clutch food call" of the weekend since it would be the only food products that I'd put in my body inside a 26 hour period. Of course if I knew that, I would have gotten the foot long inside of the six inch. I returned to the poker room at the IP for some NL with Falstaff and cowboys. We played short-handed for a bit when a fresh StB arrived. We had played together the day before at the same table, when he was engrossed in a serious debate about unions with a local sitting in seat 10.

The Procedure Step 1: Drinking

At 11:07am, I got a text message from Bad Blood, who was awake and drinking at the Sherwood Forest Bar. I quickly cashed out of my 1/2 NL table and bolted out of the poker room. I ran into a menagerie of cowboys on my way to the taxi stand. A light rain sprinkled outside as the cab roared down the Strip. My cabbie must have been the horniest guy in Las Vegas.

"The rain brings out the nipples. I love wet t-shirts on tourists," he said as he pointed to a group of girls walking Las Vegas Blvd. without an umbrella.

"Speaking of nipples," I interjected. "If a guy like me wanted to head to a strip club and check out the noon shift, which one would you recommend?"

"The Rhino," quickly said the cabbie. "At this hour, that's where you'll find the better girls."

"Or the strung out ones," I mentioned.

I gifted my horny cabbie a fat tip and suggested that he get some relaxation therapy when his shift ended. After all, cabbies knew all the best rub and tug places in the Las Vegas valley. He wished me the best of luck. I burst into the Excalibur and passed the longest taxi line I had ever seen. Hundreds of rodeo fans were waiting for a cab to take them to the Thomas & Mack Center.

I found Bad Blood deep into his third dirty Martini. We sat and caught up on life. I really missed the guy and that's the hardest sacrifice that I had to make the last couple of years... to spend less quality time with friends. Grubby was running late, so we waited and waited for him to finish off his craps tournament at Bally's. That is such a Grubby thing. I always found myself waiting for Grubby to finish up some sort of freeroll tournament, or picking up a free gift, or finishing up a quick meal at the Diamond Club lounge.

The Procedure Step 2: Strip Club

"Let's try Seamless," said Grubby.

Grubby was an explorer in a past life. I'm almost 100% positive. He always likes to try new things hoping to find a gem hidden among the rough. Seamless was located just a couple of blocks away from the apartment that I had rented during the 2007 WSOP. In fact, on the way over there, we passed the Redneck Riviera where I lived during the 2005 WSOP.

"Did you hear about that big drug bust?" said Grubby as he pointed to my old housing complex. "Thirty people were arrested."

We arrived at Seamless and wandered inside. It was a lame scene so we quickly left. That's when I suggested The Rhino.

The Rhino is the Bellagio of strip clubs. It's always crowded on the weekends, but shortly before 1pm on a Saturday, it was empty. As soon was we sat down, three strippers from the afternoon shift appeared from the shadows. Two of them jumped up onto the laps of Grubby and Bad Blood as a waitress took our drink order. Redbull and vodka. Breakfast of champions.

A tall blonde stripper sat down next to me.

"I'm Joey," she said.

"That's funny, because my name is Pacey," blurted out Bad Blood.

Blood knew about my morbid addiction with Dawson's Creek. I spent too many hours ripping bonghits and watching reruns of the Creek on TBS. I had an odd fascination with Katie Holmes (before she got brainwashed by Scientology).

"What do you do Pacey?" the stripper asked.

"I'm a hot air balloon pilot," quickly responded Bad Blood.

"Wow! That's so cool," she cooed. "And what do you do, Pauly?"

"I'm a striking Hollywood writer," I said.

"Wow! That's so cool. What have you written?"

"Daddy Daycare 2," I said with a straight face as the waitress handed me a drink.

"Daddy Daycare 2? That's my kid's favorite movie. Wow! That's so cool!"

Grubby quickly left with his girl to get a couple of lap dances and soon after Bad Blood disappeared. Grubby left his car keys and his drink. My stripper, Joey, was an admitted alcoholic and asked me if she could have a sip of Grubby's drink. I said yes, then worried that she might be giving him hepatitis B.

Joey was the cream of the crop circa 1992. But now, her looks started to fade and she's slumming in the afternoon shift. The booze perked her up a bit and she told me the horror stories about the last few days. Cowboys didn't tip and took up all the seats. They liked to look but not pay. The Brits in town were a rowdy bunch.

"I can't tell you how many of them tried to stick their fingers up my cooch and in my ass," she said as Paint It Black by the Rolling Stones blasted on the sound system. "British people are supposed to be polite, but they were animals."

During my lap dance, we chatted about a few things like the most recent famous person who she danced for.

"Do you know basketball?" she asked. "Wally Szczerbiak was here. He was such a nice guy. Very shy. He's so tall too. I asked him if he wanted a dance and he said yes. That's when I felt his dick. Ohmygod! He had the biggest dick I had felt in years. I kept calling my girlfriends over and screaming, 'Ohmygod! You gotta feel Wally's dick!' He was such a nice guy with such a big dick."

That's when someone walked into the VIP lounge and said, "Heya Pauly!"

The last time I was at the Rhino in Melbourne, Australia, I was recognized by a fan. Ah, but that time it was just The Mark, another member of the G-Vegas crew who arrived a little late.

I got my five songs for the price of three since I negotiated a better deal. It was the afternoon shift, and you can barter with the girls especially when it was empty.

Grubby finally appeared out of the shadows with his stripper. I gave him the car keys and pointed to Joey who had stolen his drink. He didn't mind. His stripper excused herself. That's when Grubby pulled me aside.

"She squirted all over my chest," he explained.


"She was grinding me in her favorite position," said Grubby. "I heard her moaning really loud. Then she quickly shifted. She apologized and explained that she and her sister were the only squirters that she knew of. She wet herself. Then she pulled up my shirt and sat on my chest. It was all warm and wet. She squirted on me."

Wally Szczerbiak might have a big dick, but Grubby brought a Las Vegas stripper to a climax during a lap dance. That's talent. I was more than impressed. I was in awe.

As we left the Rhino, a faint trail of cheap stripper perfume followed behind as the harsh sunlight burned our sensitive eyes.

The Procedure Step 3: Poker

We stumbled into the poker room at the Venetian for the Holiday Classic tournament. We had about forty-five minutes to kill before the tournament started and I was a tornado twisting back and forth between the bar and the sign in desk. Sean introduced me to Dr. Chako's wife and they showed me the American flag that Dr. Chako sent from Iraq which would be awarded to the winner of the tournament.

The first three hours of the tournament were a blur for me because I was drunk, exhausted, and bombarded with quick conversations from almost a hundred people. A steady flow of people wandered up to my table to chat. Some of them were bloggers I had not seen yet, a few were newer bloggers, and a couple of guys played in Mookie's homegame in Texas wanted to say hello. Ah, and Cactus Jack found me as well too and I met the elusive Kid Dynamite for the first time.

I had a good table with a bad seat. I hate seat 1 but my table was in the corner which was good. I would only get moved once and that's when we redrew for the last two tables.
My Table:
Seat 1: Pauly
Seat 2: RecessRampage (then Johnny Hughes)
Seat 3: Sean
Seat 4: Sweet Sweet Pablo
Seat 5: Dealer Tim (then Julian)
Seat 6: Bam Bam (then Grubette)
Seat 7: Maudie
Seat 8: Pokerpeaker
Seat 9: Tramua
Seat 10: CC
On the first hand, I found 10-10. I turned a set against CC and bet heavily. He folded and I showed my hand. The next hand, I got two black aces. I raised and got no action. I tabled the Aces. The third hand, I was dealt Q-Q. I won a pot against Tramua. I picked up the first three pots with pocket pairs and jumped out to an early chiplead with 8,700. I got Q-Js on the next hand and missed the flop. The deck was hitting me in the face early. With a decent stack, I got up and floated around the room. I checked up on Derek and Change100 and wandered around a bit chatting it up.

I guess you can say that I started out the tournament in a not-so-serious fashion. I hadn't slept at all and opted for a strip club and drinks instead of resting up. I honestly didn't think I'd go far, but I wanted to last to the first break or so. If I busted out then it didn't matter since I'd sit at the bar and chill out with people as they busted out.

The Mark wins Gigli

Then I heard someone shouting my name. The Mark had just been busted. I rushed over and handed him his prize. My buddy Friedman was crippled by Linda on the hand before and he was almost Gigli, but The Mark went out before him.

Since I was in Seat 1, all of my conversation was with RecessRampage, who was a good guy and fun to talk to. We got involved in one hand where I made a move on him. A few minutes earlier, I had made a speech saying that I can't really bluff too much in blogger events because everyone wants to bust me, so they call me down with junk. I was forced to alter my game in blogger events and player tighter. Sometimes, it's simply not fun when you have a target on your back. But that's the way it is and I had to adjust. I gave my speech and everyone felt sympathetic. That's when I made a move on RecessRampage.

Six of us limped into a pot. I held Ad-8d. The flop was 6x-5x-4d. I bet out and ReccessRampage called. The turn was the 9d. I bet about 2/3 the pot and he raised leaving just 2,300 behind. I tanked and thought about my options. I knew that he was ahead, but by how much? I held a gutshot, a nut flush draw, and one overcard. Maybe he hit the flop and picked up a flush draw too? I had so many chips that I just called. The river was a blank. I missed all of my draws and just held Ace high. The only move I had was to bet 2,300 and put RecessRampage to a decision for all of his chips. If I checked, he would have moved all in for sure. The only way I was going to win the pot was to get him to fold, so I bet. RecessRampage tanked for several minutes. If he had anything big, he would have insta-called, instead he deliberated. When he finally folded his hand, he flashed a 6. I won the pot and did not show my hand. I mentioned to him four of five possibilities, but teased him that he'd have to wait for me to blog it. When the tournament ended, I revealed that I had Ad-8d. He said that was one of the more fun hands that he played during the tournament.

On the next hand, I sniffed out a hammer bluff from Sweet Sweet Pablo and increased my stack to over 16K.

By the end of the second break, there were six tables left and all 11 NYC bloggers were still in. Everyone talked smack that G-Vegas had some of the better players, but I knew the NYC crew could hold their own. When action got down to four tables, all 11 were still alive.

My stack was around 25K, but I felt like shit. I had been drinking since the tournament started. With about four tables to go, a hangover hit me. I hate when that happens, when you are in the middle of a bender and the booze finally catches up to you and you get a hangover... while still drinking. I needed food. I needed sleep. I needed to be anywhere except a poker table. By then, all of the joking and clowning around had subsided. With four tables to go, the mood got more serious. With $3K on the line for first place, there was no more time for bullshit.

Had I known I was going to go deep, I would have ate food and consumed less booze. Alas, that was my major obstacle to overcome during the last couple of hours. Johnny Hughes and Karol were moved to my table. Johnny Hughes sat next to me and we got to shoot the shit for another hour or so.

I busted Pablo. He moved all in with a short stack. CC and I called and checked it down to the river. I flopped an ace with A-3 and cracked Pablo's Kings. He gave me a calendar for a bust out prize.

I busted CC a couple of hands after that. He open-shoved with 7-7 and I woke up to Aces. I called and it held up. My stack jumped past the 50K mark.

GMoney (Iggy's buddy) had busted out and wandered over to my table. He recanted the hilarious story about how he picked up a girl from the night before at the Geisha Bar. She was not a pro, just a drunken cowgirl from Montana in town for the rodeo. GMoney got the girl up to his room and they started hooking up. He had gotten her shirt off when Iggy walked into the room by accident. Talk about a bad beat!

Anyway, GMoney wore a Grateful Dead steal your face t-shirt. My dealer saw it and said she dug it. Turned out that she was also a Deadhead.

"My first show was in San Francisco in 1974," she said as a huge smile lit up her face. "Of course, I don't remember much back then."

I lost a big pot against Sean. It was the only hand I misplayed up until that point. I went card dead and decided it was time for a steal. I found 9s-6s and raised from MP. Sean called from the button. The flop was 8-7-2. I bet about 20K and he moved all in for another 5K more. I called with my OESD. He tabled Kings. I missed and he doubled up. The one time I make a move, I run into Kings. Oh well.

I was crippled to about 4K when I doubled up. Then I doubled up again against Karol. My A-6 held up against her A-3. I stole a lot of blinds and got back to about 24K by the break.

Derek, KJ, Miami Don, and JoeSpeaker were moved to my table with 30 players remaining. Derek was short and moved all in against Speaker. Derek lost a race with A-K against Speaker's pair. I gave Speaker tons of shit because of his scarf.

"Does that scarf come with a small gay Italian boy attached to it?" I joked.

MiamiDon was super frustrated since he was short and Johnny Hughes and myself kept jamming pots before the action got to him. He stole enough to stay alive, but could not add to his stack. I busted KJ when my J-J held up against his K-3. I increased my stack to 48,000 when the TD asked us if we wanted to pay out the top 20 instead of the top 10. Places 11-20 would essentially get their money back. We agreed.

With 20 players left, I had about 48K. I was the chipleader at my table by a slim margin. I dunno if anyone had more than 50K on the other table.

My table with 20 to go...

Here's the final 20...
My Table:
Seat 1: The Rooster
Seat 2: Johnny Hughes
Seat 3: Pauly
Seat 4: Drizz
Seat 5: Miami Don
Seat 6: Schecky
Seat 7: CK
Seat 8: Mary
Seat 9: Speaker
Seat 10: Brian

Other Table:
Seat 1: Biggestron
Seat 2: Kuro Kitty
Seat 3: Columbo
Seat 4: Blinders
Seat 5: Falstaff
Seat 6: Otis
Seat 7: Change100
Seat 8: Sean
Seat 9: Grubby
Seat 10: Julian
Poor Columbo had a flight to catch and had to get a later flight since he went deep. With the final two tables left, we all made the prize money. Several NYC bloggers were still left in the mix. On_thg was on the rail sweating the pool that he was running. I found out that only three four people picked me. Thanks to Bam Bam, AlCantHang, Penner, and California April's dad!

CK moved all in with a short stack from EP. I found A-5. I figured that I had the best hand and called. She tabled K-7. I knew what was coming. I've been playing poker long enough and have been covering tournament poker long enough to trust that feeling you get in your stomach. Like on the final hand when Jerry Yang beat Tuan Lam heads up. I knew he'd get there on the river. It's a weird sixth sense that comes and goes. That moment I had that sick feeling in my stomach where I knew I was going to get beat. I stood up and walked away from the table. I didn't want to see it when it happened. I walked to the middle of the poker room and listened for the outcome. CK was the loudest person in the room for the entire tournament and as soon as the King fell, she went nuts. I knew that I had lost the hand and slowly walked back to the table.

I can take a bad beat. But it's not easy acting cool and calm when someone is still in full blown celebration mode gloating about their double up. I counted out my remaining chips, folded the next hand, and walked away from the table completely unimpressed. Otis and Change100 saw from the look on my face that I was not happy about the level of unprofessionalism.

I took a short walk to cool down and the TD showed me the payout list. When I saw $3K for first place, I quickly got my shit together. I went back to the table completely focused. I stole the next three pots to get my stack back up. A few more players busted and I could smell the final table.

With 11 players left, we were short-handed and down to five players at my table. It was the final table bubble and the ideal time to steal some pots since everyone wanted to make the final table. Grubby raised from the button. I put him on a steal. I had 10d-9d in the big blind and shoved. He said he thought about folding, but he made the call with K-Q since he didn't have too much behind. He flopped a King and I was done. I bubbled off the final table in 11th place. I won my money back, but must have dropped $50 or so in tips to waitresses and buying beers at the bar on breaks. Just seven hours earlier, a striper squirt all over Grubby's chest, and now he advanced to the final table.

Here's the final table:
Seat 1: Kuro Kitty
Seat 2: Otis
Seat 3: Schecky
Seat 4: Drizz
Seat 5: Sean
Seat 6: Columbo
Seat 7: The Rooster
Seat 8: MiamiDon
Seat 9: Change100
Seat 10: Grubby
When Change100 busted out in 9th place, we ran to the food court in search of any sort of food stuffs. I returned and the final table was still going on.

Three of the Final Four: Kuro, Otis, & Schecky

Once it got down to four three, Schecky, Otis, Rooster, and Kuro Kitty decided on a four three way chop with 600 or so going to first place. The Rooster was the chipleader at the time, but with the blinds going up so fast, it was still wide open. Schecky was probably the most experienced player at the table and was fresh off his victory in a Poker News Cup event in Australia. But Schecky went card dead and finished in 4th place. KuroKitty seemed the most relaxed at the final table. It didn't matter if he was shortstacked or had chips, his expression never changed. He seemed to be the least irritated and busted out in 3rd place.

Serious Otis

Cagey Rooster

Otis and the Rooster looked super tired and hungry and hung over. I felt their pain, but they all continued to slug it out. It would be a battle for the ages. The Rooster vs. Otis. NYC vs. G-Vegas. Mexican vs. Whitey.

I gave the Rooster a few words of advice. Nothing about strategy. Just simple stuff like telling him to stay focused and that he had lots of heart and that's what was going to help him win. The Rooster used to be a boxer, so it felt like I was his corner man and after he'd get roughed up in a pot, I'd whisper stuff into his ear to keep his head in the game. He continued to play hard, but even he admitted that he needed that extra edge, especially against Otis who is a super tough NL player.

The poker gods must have been smiling upon The Rooster because he came from behind to beat Otis on the last hand. It was an amazing tournament and the Venetian treated us very well. The asswizards at the Orleans treated us like vermin in June, so I made sure I thanked as many of the staff at the Venetian for helping us out. And of course, don't forget to thank Falstaff for arranging the event. Aside from the first event at Sam's Town and the 2005 event at the IP, the Venetian event was one of my favorites.

The Winner's Photo with Mrs. Chako

The Rooster was touched when Mrs. Chako handed him the American flag courtesy of Dr. Chako. The Rooster also got Iggy's trophy (an upside down hammer). As he walked down the Strip back to the IP, I had not seen the Rooster that happy in a very long time.

It was way past Midnight on Saturday in Las Vegas, and we had been playing in the tournament for almost nine hours. Amidst a sea of cowboys and drunken Brits mourning the Ricky Hatton knock out, it was time to celebrate the Rooster's victory at the Geisha Bar. Hijinks ensued...

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