Las Vegas, NV
I'm trying out a lot of different new things at the 2008 WSOP. In addition to hitting up the Tao of Poker several times a day, some of you are also following me on Twitter and getting text message updates to your cell phones.
Yesterday, Michalksi from Pokerati and I launched our first ever joint-podcasting venture called Tao of Pokerati. It's our very lazy and ghetto version of a podcast. Episode 1 is around three minutes.
Click here to listen to Tao of Pokerati - Episode 1.
Right click here and click "save as" to download the mp3 file of Episode 1 to your hard drive.
There's a running inside joke in the poker media that there are two things that I don't do... the first is chipcounts... and the second is interviewing poker pros. I always hated it and refused to do them. You'd be shocked how much money I potentially lost from declining interview assignments.
So that's why I decided to focus on my friends in the media, which will give you an opportunity to get to know the people that I know well and have to spend ungodly amounts of time with in the trenches. The interviews will flow more like real conversations.
The first installment of Tao of Five features an interview with everyone's favorite malcontent chain-smoking French journalist, Benjo.
Here's a little backstory... Benjo is a journalist from Lille, France covering poker for various outlets. I first met Benjo at the 2007 EPT Grand Finale in Monte Carlo. It was three days in when he finally mustered up enough courage to introduce himself. He had been a devoted reader for many years and we clicked right away.
We hung out a lot at the 2007 WSOP and had such a great time that we decided to share a canal apartment for a holiday in Amsterdam in August with our mutual friend Johnny Mushrooms. Anyway, Benjo writes primarily in French but he's a damn good writer in English.
Benjo in front of the Tilted Kilt at the 2007 WSOP
So here's the first edition of Tao of Five...
Pauly: This is your third WSOP. Are you having a good time this year?And that concludes the first installment of Tao of Five. Stay tuned for future interviews with the legendary Flipchip and folks like Otis, Snoopy, Wicked Chops Poker, and even Michaslki... sans pink shirts.
Benjo: Yeah, I'm having a great time. The job is good so far. I like the set up inside the (Amazon) room. I said that I was trying to pace myself, so far there was too much news to write about. I basically spent 41 hours, I did the math, in the Rio in the Amazon room in three days. So far it's good. Good winners. Organization is flawless this year. Harrah's and ESPN are not giving me too much shit and to the media in general. This year is great.
Pauly: You're from France, but live in London, and travel all over the world covering poker tournaments. You visit Las Vegas a lot, so what's your favorite thing about Las Vegas?
Benjo: The thing I love about Las Vegas is that it caters to 24 hours (lifestyle). You can do any stuff at any hours and do a variety of stuff. Of course, you can gamble freely. I like the fact that Vegas is a place where you can forget about yourself. You can plunge deep into a gambling fever, whether it is poker or classic gambling and you don't give a shit. You forgot what time it is because it's so dark in there and there's no clocks and when you finally wake up whether you lost or won, at least you had the excitement and thrill of gambling. What I like about Las Vegas it is any day, any night, any time of year. The gambling is crazy. Everything is excess. Excess of food. Excess of sex. Excess of gambling. Excess of money. If you can stand that, you're in for a good time. I can understand why people don't like that. This is the first time I'm in Las Vegas and I'm starting to get bored with it. I finally got over it. Vegas feels like home because I'm gonna be here for two months. I was here two months last year. It's 1/6th of the year. It's just like home. It's not exciting anymore.
Pauly: Who is the best French player in the world?
Benjo: The top player in France without a doubt is David Benyamine. He has such an amazing story but he's never gonna tell anyone about because he's a very private person and doesn't care that much about speaking to the press and giving interviews. He done crazy stuff over the last ten years. He was already playing for millions (and) raised a bankroll for 8 million francs. He would have the equivalent of 1.5 million Euros and go to Las Vegas and blow it all. It would happen several times. In 1997-98-99, the card rooms in Paris were not developed because it was before the poker boom. There was only a small group of players who knew each other and he was a King among them. But you only get to know the stories second hand. The thing was that he had all this money in his pocket and he wanted to play as high as possible. The first time he went to Vegas he sat down and played with Johnny Chan for 400/800 and lost all his money. And he came back again and again. We will never know if he's flat broke or running good, that's the stuff that never goes into print. We never really get to know those crazy stories. From the journalistic standpoint, it is killing me because I can never get a straight answer and I try and try. He's a great player who learned his trade playing live when there was no online poker. Then he started playing on PokerStars in 2004 and killed the limit games. Now he's a Full Tilt Pro and killing the games. He's having a great run in Omaha. That's what I like about him. He's one of the old schoolers. But online, he can play anyone. He will probably not win against everyone, but he doesn't care. He doesn't give a shit. As long as there's action, it doesn't matter if his (opponent) is good or bad, it's action. He's a gambler. He's not a poker player first, he's a gambler first. Yesterday I saw him playing a hand blind in Razz in the Mixed Games. He raised and said, 'I don't look at my cards.' I saw him playing the big game, he can bet all in for 100K without blinking. He doesn't give a shit about money, being broke, being robusto. Doesn't matter. He just wants to play. He went to Vegas and made it and stayed there. So many players avoid him because they think he's crazy! He is wired differently. If you could look inside of his brain, you would see cards and chips.
Pauly: Who are the French players that I don't know but I should be paying attention to?
Benjo: Ludovic Lacay who was runner-up at WPT Barcelona and Arnaud Mattern, the guy who won EPT Prague. They're due for a final table this year.
Michalski playing in the 2006 WSOP
Pauly: Is Michalski gay?
Benjo: He's really trying to hide it. He even kept the pink shirts in the closet this year. Last year the pink shirts were all over the place. He got a lot of shit for that. Right now, it's only white shirts and black shirts. He's even afraid to wear a light blue shirt because people will say, 'Oooh, light blue is close to pink. You're gay, dude.'
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