Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Welcome to AmsterVegas

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

The hookers fluttered through Sin City like a crop of fallen angels. Their innocence had been long lost and most of them were numb to the pain. Numb to themselves. Numb to life. Prostitution was an integral part of the Las Vegas economy and a byproduct of the business of Las Vegas itself. Working girls were the saddest of the sad. Not in a pathetic way, but in a remorseful way. I mean, we the tourists were the pathetic ones and gluttonous fools of capitalism. The suits who owned the casinos were the true evil doers. And the pimps were galactic cowboys... thuggy funk brothers from a different solar system who herded sex slaves and other beleaguered runaways towards the nonstop orgiastic cosmos of Sin City.

I walked the Strip and passed hordes of snail-paced tourists and sneered at the illegal immigrant porn slappers who offered me glossy-covered business cards with a photo of a petite Asian harlots and various numbers of escort agencies that will send rent-a-hoochies who show up at your hotel room and lick your asshole clean for a few hundred dollars.

Of course, those exact services were not listed on the back of those fliers from the porn slappers, but you have to let your imagination run wild in Las Vegas and never be afraid to ask for what you really want. As twisted and demented as your wildest sexual fantasies might be, there was at least one working girl who will abscond to your wishes, provided you compensate her dearly and promise not to post the video to You Porn.

As the saying goes, "What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas." And that includes the types of things that you wouldn't even dream about mentioning on "25 Things You Don't Know About Me." Like the night you paid a Bellagio Hooker $500 to shove a golf ball up your ass while she dressed up like a Catholic school girl. Of course, those were pre-depression prices. These days, you can find out-of-work real estate brokers who will do that to each other for $20 and a free Excalibur buffet coupon.

Goosebumps rippled up and down my arms the first time that I ever stepped onto a casino floor in Las Vegas. It was the Mirage which used to be the center of the universe at one time before it collapsed into a black hole.

I missed the hum of non-stop gambling action and the intoxicating aroma of pure oxygen mixed with cheap perfume and stale cigarette smoke. There had been an urban legend that has never been proven, but supposedly the casinos pumped in pure oxygen which gave the customers an elated sate of well being. A true gamblers high.

The frenetic pace of Las Vegas seriously hindered your decision making abilities. The desert climate played tricks on your brain. Add pure oxygen, plenty of alcohol, scantily clad cocktail waitresses, and the thrill of winning a massive jackpot... then you got yourself a perfect situation where fairly intelligent people will piss away their money and dignity on almost anything.

I used to think that I was being tortured and haunted by the ghosts who infested the Las Vegas Valley. Initially, I thought that they were the source of the voices inside my head encouraging me to gamble and spend every single dollar in my pocket. I later discovered that the faint whispers were low frequency subliminal messages that the casino released through their PA system. Millions of tourists flew into Las Vegas every year and willingly participated in the largest brain-washing experiment on the planet. Did you really sit down at the blackjack table because you wanted to? Or because you were ordered to by Big Brother?

I'm not one to wear tin foil hats. I usually jeer at those pathetic souls who cite global conspiracies from secret Satan-worshiping organizations for the reason why they have been oppressed and held back by The Man. But sometimes, I gotta wonder, where do they dispose the bodies of all the dead hookers?

A small body was found shoved upside down in a trash can in downtown Las Vegas. Don't believe me? Go look it up. Another casualty of the illegal sex trade. Prostitution was legal outside the city limits and Mayor Oscar Goodman had been lobbying to change that status. He felt that legalized prostitution in Las Vegas would boost tourism numbers and generate millions of dollars per year in revenue. He didn't care about cleaning up the filth, he just wanted to profit off of it. In the end, who really cared about a dead hooker anyway? Their entire value became nothing more than a cheap punchline on a half-baked poker blog.

But that begs the question, what ever happened to all those dead working girls that mysteriously appeared around town; in an abandoned car outside of Terribles, behind a dumpster at Denny's, and in the bathtub of one of the high roller suites at the Hard Rock?

Where did they go when the lights went out?

Working girls are crawling all over Las Vegas right now. Check the various Hooker Bars at 4am. It's a buyers market too. Read through the hundreds and hundreds of in-call ads on Craigs List. Pick up a pamphlet from one of the porn slappers. The ladies of the night are everywhere.

So why not just make turning a trick legal in only a few designated areas?

Why doesn't Oscar Goodman designate Downtown Las Vegas as the official red light district of Sin City? Keep all the families and clean cut tourists on the Strip and let all the deviants run rampant downtown, where they can get a shrimp cocktail and a handjob for $20. Visitor numbers would surge. Hookers would be swarming all over the Fremont Light Show. They'd turn the El Cortez into a futuristic bio-tech-maquiladoras, where they churned out inexpensive clones of working girls.

Well, shit, they should just turn Las Vegas into America's version of Amsterdam. Welcome to AmsterVegas. Decriminalize marijuana and open up a slew of hash bars on the Strip. Las Vegas already caters to stoners. Have you seen all the pretty blinking lights? Some of that Cirque de Soleil stuff is pretty trippy. And who actually stands in line for 'all you can eat' buffets anyway? Potheads and fat people.

And speaking of AmsterVegas, maybe they should set up whorehouses on the Strip? And let window girls operate in the Forum Shops. How cool would that be? You can eat at Spago and then walk ten feet and find a Romanian hooker hawking her snatch by a near by windows.

And how about all those times you take a bad beat at the Bellagio? You can walk across the street and hate fuck a hooker, smoke a spliff, get off tilt, and rebuy back into your cash game.

Heck, if you can't attract people to Las Vegas with gambling and Bette Midler, then you have to make some serious changes in the game plan. And if hookers and weed cannot boost tourism numbers, then you're going to have drop betting minimums to $1 on the Strip and make all buffets $5.

Buffets bring out the worst in America. Take the Excalibur breakfast buffet for example. I went once. That was the first and last time. Never again. Hundreds of overweight tourists stuffed their chubby faces with an assortment of greasy breakfast dishes. Apparently, one of the octogenarians held up the line as she carefully dug all the crispy pieces out of a clump of intertwined bacon. Two old ladies nearly came to blows in front of the bacon station.

Desperate times mean people will do anything for money, like the Tweakers Fighting Championship or TFC at Circus Circus. The economy has gotten so bad in Las Vegas that promoters have been roaming trailer parks all over America in search of tweakers to fight each other to the death for a fresh cooked batch of crystal meth. The heavyweight division title fight featured two 107 pound tweakers. They kept them awake and sober for twelve straight days before they got a small taste and thrown into the cage. The two bashed each others' genitals until one tweaker passed out and died of internal bleeding. The victorious tweaker emerged as the new champion and given all-you-can-snort meth for a week before he was thrown back into the sober tank and prepped for his next fight.

I'm awaiting the day when man versus bear fighting becomes a mainstream sport. UBFC. Ultimate Bear Fighting Championship. I'm craving action on a sport where I'm confident that I have an edge.

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

Monday, February 23, 2009

Rock the Vote

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

The awards season is finally over in Hollywood. But there's still one precious award up for grabs. Several friends of mine (that you might know very well in the poker world) were nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role for their excellence in one of the many YouTube videos that I spliced together.

Head over to Tao of Pauly to view the videos and vote for your favorite actor.

The Rooster? Uncle Ted? Shronk? PKPNF? Otis?

You decide.

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

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Reader Mail: Busto Brad

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I get a lot of mail of the Tao of Poker. Most of it is warm fuzzy fan mail and too many webmasters wanting to buy link ads. And every now and then I come across a gem. Like this one...
Dear Dr. Pauly,

I'm a longtime reader since the 2005 WSOP. I read on your Tao that you back players into tournaments. I wonder if you are interested in backing me into the WSOP this year? My online stats are very impressive. I played as BraveHeart_69 and BradBHart69 on Titan Poker and Chan Poker.

I turned $100 into 100k in a year. My fiancee and I moved to Las Vegas last year. I had a shitty WSOP. My apartment got broken one night when I played in the Deep Stacks at the Venetian. They stole $8,000 in cash. Also took my laptop, flat screen, and karaoke machine. The robber left my front door open and my fiancee's cat got away. We couldnt find the cat and posted LOST signs. No sign of the cat. My fiancee got so depressed that she started using again and then got fired from stealing from her waitress job at PF Changs. She ran up 3k worth of stuff on my credit card and stole the last of my bankroll. She was the only one who knew that I had it stashed away in a frozen bag of peas in the freezer.

I went busto online and started dealing at Palace Station. I had a tough time staying awake on the graveyard shift and got fired. I have been looking for work in construction, my last real job in Ohio before I left. I cant find anything in Vegas.

My last two options are moving in with my grandmother in Wilmington or selling my body. I am good looking enough that I might employ my services to some gigelo. I hope you will considering being my backer. If not, I know that you used to work for Poker News. Maybe you can you get me in touch with Tony G?

I have enclosed a recent picture for you which demonstrates my desperate situation.

Brad "Brave" Hart

P.S. Love your blogs man. Please publish that Vegas book some day.

You can click on the photo to see an enlarged view to see the plight.

Anyway, here's my response...
Dear Brad,

Thanks for taking the time out to write me and for all the support over the years as a reader.

I am sympathetic to your unfortunate position. We are living in some very harsh economic conditions. Many of my friends, both inside and outside of poker, are feeling the crunch this year. Some of them even had to fire their maids and put their kids in public schools. However, at this time I have to respectfully decline your generous offer to allow me to back you into the 2009 World Series of Poker.

Please understand, that my decision has nothing to do with your gender, color of skin, or sexual orientation. This has everything to do with a simple fact that I only back people that I know.

How can I be sure that you are not trying to pull a fast one over me? You seem like a nice guy who is down on his luck, but in these desperate times, people often resort to desperate measures and compromise their values. In this case, I find it of the utmost importance that I preserve what little net worth that I have remaining after I liquidated all of my stock holdings and purchased gold futures, shotgun ammunition, and several hundred acres of land in British Columbia where I am currently constructing my Armageddon compound.

If I backed you into a few events and you hit a big score, how can I be sure that you will pay me? Will you skip town like a bitch or piss it away at the Rhino in the VIP room? Or will I have to send my brother and some of the boys from the old neighborhood like Mustafa and Boris to hunt you down?

Frankly, you have a lot of balls asking me to back you. Did you not think that I would look up your stats online? I mean, are you really serious about boasting how you crushed the games at Chan Poker? Sure, you won four MTTs on that site, but three of them had less than 20 runners and were nothing more than two table SNGs.

You turned $100 into 100K? Hard to believe that. You strike me as the guy who likes to boast about his winning $100K in a single year, but fails to mention that he blew over $105K in buy-ins alone.

Brad, simply put, there are hundreds of broke-dick bracelet winners out there that I would back before you. When the first "TV caliber pro" asked me in 2005 to take a piece of his action, I was floored by his gesture. Little did I know, that he was broke and unable to find anyone else to back him so he decided to ask people he did not know. These days, I get random calls from pros asking for a piece all the time. Bobby Bellande sent me three text messages while I wrote this email to you. Every once in a while, I'll buy a share or two of a pro or one of my friends, but I know that I'm gambling more than anything else.

The picture that you sent me is quite disturbing on many levels. I'm assuming that it's not fake and indeed, you are the mullet-clad gentleman in the photo.

First of all, unless you work in pest control, no one respects anyone with a mullet.

Secondly, you look more like a guy who would be roaming around Fremont Street in search of stray cigarette butts, than someone who should be playing in the WSOP.

I have to look at the photo from two different perspectives based on the two possible life options that you provided in your email.

Scenario 1: Wilmington with Grandma

Suffice to say, if this photo depicts life with your grandmother in North Carolina, I have to say that you have more problems that you know what to do with. First of all, I'm assuming that the grandmother in question is the lady sitting on the bed and yaking up her beer into a garbage can, with her ripped panties rolled around her cankles.

I have no idea what's up with the broad in the peach-colored leisure suit. How you can allow someone with such obvious poor fashion mix different types of boozes? Amateur mixologists. No wonder your granny is puking up her cookies after doing shots of Jim Beam chased by cheap vodka, the vaporous sort of swill that eats the paint off of cars.

And what's the deal with the zipper pockets? Unless you're a Scandi, that's uber-gay. Where the fuck did you find those things? Did David Bowie have a yard sale or something?

And the shirt? It looks like the curtains of a curry house in London. Do you get a free bowl of mulligatawny with that shirt? Don't worry, it looks good on you.

And brother, what's with the eyes? Are your inbred relatives been meddling with the gene pool again? Or are you just riding the H-train again? Or too broke to afford heroin, so you're stoned to the gourd on cold medicine?

And why are you getting shitty with grammy and Bea Arthur? That seems a bit odd, you shooting up China White, while chunks of vomit trickled off of the icy frigid lips of your beloved grammy.

Scenario 2: Busto Brad aka Male Gigolo

If you are selling your body for sex, then I can at least understand why you'd be caught in a motel room, underneath layers of old lead-based paint peeling from the walls, with two women who look like Lunch Lady Doris from The Simpsons.

It makes me wonder what sort of tawdry sexual explicit role-playing and S&M that the old ladies make you do to their nether regions. Between suicide and a fisting, I'd shoot my brains out. What sort of International Sex Slave Conglomerate have you gotten yourself into? How much Viagra do you have to take to get it up long enough to get down with the ladies?

And those purple pants with zippers? You look like a Tijuana transvestite. You should have never left home and found solace in the bible and thumbed to a random page from the book of Proverbs.
"A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions." - Proverbs 18:2
I can sense the bug-eyed malice in your wilted eyes. You betrayed the gifts that the poker gods bestowed upon you and now your a cock-for-hire servicing shitfaced spinsters.


To sum up Busto Brad, I feel bad for your situation, but life's not fair. Jimmy Carter said that. Shed the self-hatred and do something meaningful with your life. You are a seriously misguided soul. You never should have left your hometown and moved to Las Vegas. The life of a professional player is like digging for fools gold.

Frankly, your sanity comes into question for actually emailing me for advice and financial backing. You should not be emailing me because I am not a real doctor. I just play one on the internet. You need to seek professional help immediately. I suggest shock therapy and Thorazine in large doses.

Best of luck finding backing at this year's WSOP. Hope you can scratch together enough money humping old ladies to buy into the "stimulus" 1K donkament.

I can't thank you enough for your flattering email.

Meth is bad,

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

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Soul Cards

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Four years ago.

I had over $400 on the table when I found myself involved in a pot with an overweight guy dressed in black jogging pants and a wrinkled NY Yankees windbreaker. He spoke with an Eastern European accent and could have been from Russia, or the Ukraine, or Bulgaria. It really didn't matter. I wasn't there to make friends. I was there to make money. That's the reason why I played in the various underground clubs in New York City.

The fat guy played aggressively all night. He raised almost every pot and when another player would re-raise, the fat guy moved all in over the top and bet the rest of his remaining chips. The other players had no other choice but to fold. The fat guy had more than $900 in front of him, more money than anyone at the table. He only had one move... all in. The only way for me to neutralize him was to wake up to a big hand. That's when I was dealt pocket Aces, a hand which I had not seen in over two weeks.

When I peeked at my cards and found the Aces, my heart rate rapidly increased and my palms began to sweat. I craved that kind of feeling, like the moment before you get into a fist fight. The fat guy raised like he always did and nonchalantly tossed three chips into the pot. He acted like he was bored with the game and was doing everyone else a favor at the table by raising. What an arrogant twat, I thought. I couldn't wait to bust him. I counted down my chips and had $405 in front of me. I re-raised him knowing what would happen next. The fat guy glared at me for about two seconds then announced, "All in."

He pushed his remaining stack forward about three inches and then shot me the evil eye. His intimidation tactics were not going to work. Statistically, I had the best possible hand and I wasn't about to fold. I quickly said, "Call."

I tabled two red aces and the fat guy flipped over a Queen of clubs and the 9 of diamonds.

"Fack me," he muttered.

I was ahead and he needed a miracle to win. I stared at all his chips at the other end of the table and wondered what I was going to do with my new windfall. The dealer fanned out the flop of J-6-3. My Aces were still way ahead. The turn was an 8 and the fat guy jumped up.

"Come on, ten!" he screamed. "A fackin' ten!"

The fat guy picked up a gutshot straight draw. He needed one of four tens in the deck to win. And if any other card appeared, then I would win the pot that was worth more than my entire bankroll. At that moment as the fat guy screamed at the dealer, a sharp pain tore through my stomach. Before the last card was dealt, I knew what was coming. A black 10 spiked on the river and the fat guy made his straight to win the pot. I went numb. My vision got foggy. The fat guy screamed a bunch of things in his native tongue. I didn't say a word. I stood up and walked away.

I forgot that Morris was in the club that night and played at my table. He had followed me outside. We walked to the corner of 72nd Street and Broadway. Silence surrounded the both of us, until he finally mustered up enough courage to say something.

"Sorry man, that totally sucked. It hurt me to just watch that," said Morris as he attempted to offer me condolences.

We used to trade bonds on Wall Street when I was 23 years old before I quit and attempted to write the last great American novel of the 20th Century. We kept in touch over the years and when I started playing poker, he told me about an underground game a few blocks away from his apartment. He introduced me to the owners and ever since then, I was a semi-regular at the club. He felt partly responsible for losing all of my bankroll.

"Do you need money for a cab?" he asked as he pulled out a couple of $20 bills out of his wallet.

"Nah, I'm cool," I said as I gazed across the street to Gray's Papayas.

"So, um... do you want to grab a beer or something? I'm buying," offered Morris as he pointed towards P&G on the corner of 73rd and Amsterdam.

"No it's alright," I said as I dug through my jacket and found a joint. "I think I just want to be alone right now."

"Sure. I understand," he said as he whirled around and headed back towards the club. "I'll call you in a few days to make sure you didn't kill yourself. And tell the elevator button heiress that I said hello."

I fired up the joint and called Miami. I told her to meet me at the diner. I only had $12 on me and decided to walk across the park via 79th Street since I couldn't afford a cab. I had a little more than $200 in my online bankroll at Party Poker, which used to be much bigger but a bloody awful February wiped out all of my profits. Aside from that, I was tapped out and down to my last $200 in savings.

"Ohmygod! You look like shit, McFucker!" Miami said as she kissed me on both cheeks.

"Thanks. I feel like shit."

"Bad day at the office?"

"You can say that."

In less than ninety seconds I told her about a vicious beat from the fackin' twat and how I couldn't even afford a taxi and walked across Central Park to meet up her.

"Holy shit, you walked crosstown through Central Park alone? It's almost Midnight!" she said with a horrific look on her face as if I just told her I murdered a litter of adorable kittens.

"It's not like I had anything worth taking. Besides, do people actually get mugged anymore in New York City? I'm more worried about a Jihadist blowing up the subway."

A short Armenian guy in black pants, a white shirt, and a black vest overheard my comment and frowned as he handed me a menu. I handed it back and told him I knew what I want. I ordered an iced tea, French toast with bacon, and a side of cheese fries. When the waiter left, I admitted for the first time to Miami that I had been losing steadily playing online poker over the last few weeks.

"Aren't you worried about losing your bankroll on one hand?"

"I guess I should be freaking out, but, Steve McQueen would have never freaked out. Then again, he never played on Party Poker at 3:30am against a bunch of donkeys from Albuquerque. It's just a losing streak. I can ride it out."

"Quick question for Mr. Steve McQueen. How do you ride a losing streak when you don't have any money to play?"

I didn't have an answer.

"Maybe it's time to quit and get a real job?" she said.

"Did you just fuckin' say real job?"

"You know what I mean. A job that pays you every week. Let me ask my father, I'm sure he could find..."

"No way," I interrupted.

"Then get off your ass and write a book about poker. Write another novel. Anything is better than gambling for a living. Oooh, write something with a lot of nasty sex scenes."

"And who will be stupid enough to buy that trash, let alone publish it?"

"Oh whatever, you're like this totally famous blog boy, right?"

"Me? There's a museum down the street named after your family. I'm a nobody."

We were ensconced in a very strange relationship. Miami was loud, boisterous, opinionated, and an extremely selfish person. She was a prototypical shallow, stuck up, and materialistic Upper East Side daddy's girl. Her grandfather amassed a fortune shortly after WWII when he owned a company that may or may not have done business with the Nazis. When her grandfather died, she inherited a percentage of his estate.

Most of Miami's behavior was ruled by Adult ADD and her infamous mood swings were immense. She was too rich to be lumped in with the rest of us, yet too volatile to be considered one of the elitist members of high class society. Although she had blue blood pumping through her veins and was a member of one of the oldest and most prominent families in New York City, she was an outcast and unable to identify with everyone else. The result was a tragic figure of Shakespearian proportions. She snorted way too much cocaine, drank to excess, and spent too much of her time shopping and acquiring unnecessary lavish items. Her walk-in closet was almost bigger than my brother's studio apartment. She owned over a hundred pairs of shoes and some of them she only wore once. If I stole a few pairs of Manolo Blahniks and hocked them on eBay, would she even notice? Some of those designer shoes cost over $500 a pair. The last three purses that she bought cost more than $3,000 each. I could sell a dozen shoes and bags and raise enough money to buy into the World Series of Poker main event. All I needed was $10,000 in cash for the entry fee. Then again, if I was seriously looking for a quick score, I should have stolen the Matisse or Basquiat paintings that hung on the walls of her living room.

I had discovered a bar that opened at 9am in the East Village. The dive smelled like cat piss, but they had cheap eye-opener drink specials. I sat at the end of the bar since twenty bucks dulled a lot of inner pain. Sometimes Miami went slumming and made an appearance around noon. I'd be able to drink for free because she'd pick up the tab and insist that I order some food.

"How can the best writer in New York City write anything on an empty stomach?" she'd often say in a very proper finishing school accent much like Julianne Moore's portrayal of Maude Lebowski in The Big Lebowski. "You're sitting in a bar all day hiding from your friends. And I'm sitting here because I have no friends."

Miami was a modern day Edie Sedgwick. She was a lost soul and we acted like characters from a sullen Raymond Carver short story. The air of desperation in a Tennessee Williams play surrounded us. (Her sadness still haunts me like a wispy apparition and has followed me everywhere.)

As I devoured my French Toast, the reality of my financial situation set in. I was on the verge of going busto.

"I guess I'm just not lucky," I moaned. "Some people in life are pre-destined to have a life of good luck. I'm not one of them."

“For Christ's sake, McFucker. Don't you know how lucky you are?"

We sat in an unusual silence for thirty seconds as I finished off the last of the cheese fries.

"Worst thing about being in New York is not being able to drink coffee and have a cigarette," Miami said. "I'm going to powder my nose then it's time for a smoke."

"For fuck's sake, don't start spewing out 101 reasons why Europe is better than America. And for the love of God, don't be one of those warped ex-pats born with silver spoons in their mouths who can afford to move to a lavish European country, instead suck it up with the rest of us poor slobs who have to live with three more years under the Bush Junta."

She made one of her "fuck you" faces as she got up and went to the bathroom to rip a rail or piss, or both. A couple of minutes passed and the short Armenian waiter brought over the check. I walked up to the cashier and handed him my credit card.

"What the fuck are you doing?" screamed Miami as she ran towards me.

"Uh? What does it look like?" I uttered in total confusion.

"I'm paying!" she said as she dug through her Kate Spade handbag and handed the cashier her Platinum card. "You're broke. Some fat Russian guy cracked your soul cards and took all of your money. Remember?"

"Soul cards?"

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

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Where's My Bailout?

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I used to ride the subways down to Wall Street when I worked there many moons ago in a galaxy far far away. Those days seem so distant, like they occurred during a previous lifetime. Alas, I saw blue pinstripe and charcoal gray suits hanging up in a closet during my last trip to New York City. Those were uniforms for me. Sort of like an athlete who retired and hung up their jersey for the last time. It sits on an idle hanger collecting dust.

Anyway, when you ride the subways in the morning, you're going to be greeted by hustlers. My favorites are the musicians playing/singing for tips like the trio of homeless black guys that sing different songs such as Motown classics. Just the other day, a duo of Mexican guys in black cowboys hats entered the downtown No. 1 subway train. One held an accordion and the other an acoustic guitar and they quickly belted out a song as the train raced down Broadway. At least the buskers are providing a service to the few passengers who did not hide their faces in the latest mass market paperback or thumbing through the NY Times or dicking around on their crackberries.

Sometimes, the typical panhandler passes through. Disheveled. Homeless. Reeking of urine and feces. They all have a different and properly rehearsed pitch. Some are straight up begging for loose change while others are cleverly disguised as "life bad beat stories." Like the guy who got robbed and his ass stomped by a group of rogue toughs. He needed to borrow money to get back home.

Every panhandler that shuffled through the subway car had a sob story to tell. During those dark days after 9/11 when confidence was low on Wall Street, I rode the subways every morning worrying about if I was going to get fired that day for not pulling my quota or if someone was going to unleash a dirty bomb in front of the NYSE. There I was... paranoid and deep into debt and absolutely miserable while a homeless person had the audacity to ask me for money when he was more liquid than myself.

I always wanted to stand up and tell everyone on the subway my life bad beat story...
"Hello, my name is Pauly. I'm hungry and broke and need your help. I also work on Wall Street but my job is in jeopardy. I'm having a tough time getting complete strangers on the phone to buy into the Ponzi scheme that we're running. Everyone is so skeptical these days that I have turned to my fellow New Yorkers for spare change. I am deep in debt with four maxed out credit cards and a staggering school loan because like the rest of Generation X, I was brainwashed into believing that I had to spend a ridiculous amount of money on a college education where I'd be guaranteed to have a high paying job the second I collected my diploma. Instead, I left college totally broke and in debt and zero job skills. The only real life skill that I learned in four years? How to make a bong out of an everyday object. I went to work in the sweatshops on Wall Street because I could not afford medical school or law school and let's be honest, I was lazy and didn't want to wait three or eight years to earn a paycheck. I jumped at the chance to mislead investors and pillage their life savings by churning and burning their accounts with bullshit pharmaceutical stocks and New Jersey sewer bonds. Please find it in your heart to help me out with a little something to eat or hook me up with enough spare change so I can drink myself into a stupor at the Kilarney Rose on my lunch hour. Thank you. Have a nice day and God Bless America."
Little did I know, that little soliloquy that I conjured up in 2002 was just a prelude to a personal bail out speech that I prepped for Congress. The new speech was inspired by listening to too many Bob Dylan songs off of the Highway 61 Revisited album.

In short, I'd like to know... where's my fuckin' bailout?

I've been a good citizen. Sure, I test the elasticity of certain rules in society and I have been known to flaunt antiquated marijuana laws from time to time, but for the most part, I'm just one of almost three hundred million other sheep in the herd. I kept my lips pursed and bit my tongue during all of those dreary 9/11 funerals and memorials services that I attended. I kept my mouth shut even though I knew that our leaders were lying sacks of shit and that our President only repeated when was told to him by his Daddy's friends from the OBN or Old Boys Network.

Even when I didn't swallow the Obama Kool-Aid, I judiciously withheld my lack of confidence in his mantra for change, so that my demoralized friends and fellow citizens could bask in the warmth of a bright future potentially ahead of them. I could have rocked the boat, shed my self-indulgent ways, and used my powers of persuasion to inspire a revolution in this little corner of the internet. But, I'm no Che Guevara. I'm nothing more than a two-bit hustler, a cheap used car salesman with a bunch of witty one liners. I'm just another middle-aged guy losing his hair and struggling to process the influx of craziness in this world going on around me and trying to make a few people laugh along the way.

Major corporations went into the shitter and banks lost billions and billions of dollars on reckless gambling. Auto companies churned out oversized gas guzzling pieces of shit that no one wanted to purchase, so since those fat cats are lining up for a juicy government hand outs, I figure here was my chance to get in line behind homeowners with bad credit that never should have gotten loans in the first place, the crooks cooking the books at AIG, and those douchebags Freddie and Fannie. Man, if I ever see that bitch Fannie Mae walking down Nassau Street, I'm gonna punch her in the vagina.

I have triplicate photocopies of every single losing sports bet ticket that I made since 2000. College hoops. NBA. WNBA. Boxing. UFC/MMA. NHL. Even soccer. I demand compensation for my brazen wagering and acting on piss poor advice from various idiots (my gut included) who had no clue what they were talking about. That includes Beano Cook and those talking heads on ESPN GameDay.

In addition to all those ridiculous losses at the sport book, I'd also like to be compensated for every single bad beat that I incurred at the poker tables. I know that without proof it would difficult to claim live poker loses, however, I have thousands and thousands of online hand histories saved up that demonstrate the destruction of all of my big pocket pairs and all those times I flopped a set only to get sucked out on the river by a nimrod Scandi who rivered a gutshot on me.

And I'd also like to be compensated for all those bad Hollywood movies that I saw in the theatre. Heck, every time I see another insufferably annoying Adam Sandler movie, you should just send me a check for $65. And while I'm at it, I want refunds for all those whiny indie bands and redundant jam bands that I saw over the years in small clubs in the Village, or in Seattle, or in Austin.

I also get a ton of horrendous service at restaurants in Los Angeles from out of work actors/actresses that can't even fire up an appetizer ticket without fucking it up. I won't bother billing you guys for all those horrible experiences at eateries in Europe, but there's plenty of shitty meals that I endured in Las Vegas, particularly at the Rio. Yeah, I must have spent a few thousand dollars over the last four summers eating shitty dog food while working the WSOP. Those swine at Pizza Hut should be incarcerated at Gitmo for their heinous crimes against humanity including a weak attempt to pass off greasy cardboard as pizza. And don't get me started about that third-rate sugar water that the Rio disguised as an energy drink which made my urine turn an unhealthy shade of orange.

And while I'm at it, I'd like compensation for all of those flights that I took when I got stuck next to...
1. Smelly people
2. People who would not shut the fuck up and let me read a book
3. Crying babies
Since I'm at it, the last episodes of Seinfeld and The Sopranos were both let downs. You clowns owe me at least $5,000 a piece for that tripe.

And for the love of God, I want $1 for every fuckin' email that cluttered my inbox from various Nigeria 419 scams, like the emails from a princess promising me a hefty payday if I help transfer her inheritance out of her war-torn West African nation. I want $10 for every email that I got claiming that my name was identical to the kin of a deceased person who was due a fat pay day. And I'd like $20 a pop for emails from a wealthy businessman with a terminal illness who needs my help to distribute his massive wealth to a charity of my choice.

And speaking of charities, I'd like to reclaim the majority of the money I lost in Las Vegas strip clubs over the last couple of years. It's ridiculous that I showered strippers with thousands of dollars and not once did I ever get a proper hand job.

So Obama, where's my fuckin' bailout? And by the way, I accept PokerStars transfers.

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

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Day the Music Died

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Tails you live. Heads you die.

That's not something out of Cormac McCarthy's novel No Country for Old Men, where an eccentric hitman let's the gambling gods determine the fate of his victims with the toss of a coin.

No. It's much more serious. More real. Fifty years ago today, Ritchie Valens died because he won a coin flip.

Today is a special day of remembrance for music fans. Fifty years ago on this date, February 3rd, 1959, a small plane crashed in a corn field in Iowa during the middle of a blizzard. The pilot and three passengers died instantly. Those passengers included Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper.

At the beginning of 1959, Buddy Holly was the shit. Aside from Elvis, no one was more popular or as accomplished as a musician as Holly and his back up band called the Crickets. Holly, a Lubbock, TX native, was just 22 years old at the time of his unfortunate death. Valens, fresh off his hit Donna, was still a baby and budding musician at 17-years old. La Bamba was actually the B-side of that issued single of Donna. Who knows what sort of music those two would have created during the halcyon years of the 1960s.

Fifty years is a long time ago, yet that date was seared in the memory banks of many Baby Boombers including musicians such as Don McLean who was a 13 year old paper boy when he discovered the news that his idol, Buddy Holly, perished in a plane crash. Many years later, he penned the lyrics to American Pie - decades before Madonna and other artists would butcher his masterpiece and homage to Holly.

In Rolling Stone, there's an article about the tragic crash. Paul McCartney admitted that he was still in high school when heard about the news. He and George Harrison went to school together and huddled in the corner to read about the devastating plane crash in a newspaper. Buddy Holly was among the earliest influences for John Lennon and the the other young British kids who would eventually become the Beatles, who in turn influenced several generations of musicians and artists.

And in some weird coincidence, a teenager from Hibbing, Minnesota, caught one of the last concerts performed by Valens and Holly. A high school senior by the name of Robert Zimmerman went to a concert hall in Duluth, Minnesota. If you are one of seven people who don't know, Robert Zimmerman was the birth name of a guy you probably heard of... Bob Dylan. Although Woody Guthrie is often mentioned as one of Dylan's major influences, he also appreciated and admired Buddy Holly.

The reason that I'm writing about this tragic day a half of century ago is because of a simple coin flip. Ritchie Valens died because he won a coin flip. As poker player, we are all too familiar with racing for our tournament lives or being on the better end of a coin flip and trying to make that hand hold up. It's an integral part of tournament poker. You have to win your coinflips in order to survive. Alas, Ritchie Valens won his coin flip and it cost him his life.

In early 1959, several musicians embarked on a three-week tour called The Winter Dance Party. I dunno who had the genius idea of playing shows in small towns in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa... in the middle of winter. But that's what they did. The musicians toured on dilapidated buses. No heat at all. There were stories about Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens huddled in the back of the bus in blankets while playing acoustic guitars. The energy and vibe of their music kept them warm. Well, that and the occasional bottle of hooch that the guys in the bands would pass around to keep warm.

Constantly being on the road warps your mind. And I can only imagine the insane travel tilt that those musicians had to endure as they criss-crossed icy roads through farmland that linked up small town after small town. A couple of weeks into the tour, Buddy Holly was already sick of the road. He missed the warmth of his own bed. His missed his wife. He missed having clean underwear. He wanted to fly to the next gig in order to gets some rest and take the next morning off to wash his clothes instead of being stuck on a bus, freezing his ass off with dirty skivvies, sputtering through the depressing farmland of Minnesota en route to the next gig.

Holly asked one of the managers to charter a flight. The flight cost $108. That's a hefty amount in 1959 dollars. The plane was a four-seater Beechcraft Bonanza (including the pilot). Holly took one seat and offered up the other two seats to whoever wanted to buy them for $36 a pop. Dion got the first offer, but his conscience couldn't make him pull the trigger on the deal. In a Rolling Stone article, Dion mentioned that rent was $36 per month at his parents' apartment back in the Bronx. He declined the offer, which ended up saving his life.

Next in line were two of Holly's band members in the Crickets. Waylon Jennings (yes, that Waylon Jennings who played bass for the Crickets) almost took the seat but kindly gave up his spot in favor of the Big Popper, who had come down with the flu. His act of generosity saved his own life, while in the same breath, cost another man his life.

Tommy Allsup, the guitarist in the Crickets, had the other seat locked up. Despite a morbid fear of flying, Ritchie Valens pestered Allsup all night to give up the seat. Allsup finally decided to let fate decide who gets the seat. They agreed to flip a coin. And here's where revisionist Hollyweird history fucks stuff up. In the film La Bamba, there's a dramatic scene on the snowy runway of Mason City airport where the coin flip took place. Except that did not happen. The coin flip took place backstage and not on the runway. The runway scene added a more dramatic effect for the film.

Regardless of the locale, Allsup pulled a 50-cent coin out of his pocket and tossed it in the air. He let Valens call it.

"Heads," said Valens.

The coin landed on heads. Valens won the coin flip and won the seat on the charter plane. Buddy Holly rode shotgun next to the pilot. Valens and the Big Bopper climbed into the back seat with bags full of dirty laundry from various band members.

Tails you live. Heads you die.

Fifty years ago, Ritchie Valens lost one of the most tragic coin flips in the history of gambling and music. RIP, sir.

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

Monday, February 02, 2009

2009 WSOP Schedule

By Pauly
New York City

Well, the 2009 WSOP schedule is out and the November Nine makes a triumphant return for the 40th anniversary of the WSOP.

The biggest change? No more rebuy events. I know a lot of established pros preferred rebuy tournaments. The PLO ones were the most fun to watch and cover. So, the real reason the powers to be eliminated rebuys from the 2009 schedule? Last summer, I heard a rumor (my source was a floor person) that someone from the floor staff pocketed rebuy money and shorted the prize pools in different rebuy events. No more rebuys? No more shenanigans.

OK, rumors and speculation aside, there are some positive and negative aspects of the schedule.

The good? A couple of new events like the Triple NL and two Mixed Games (8 different games) events. I also love the snarky and ironic $1,000 donkament for broke dicks. I's like the suits at Harrahs are saying, "OK, we know the economy is in the shitter and the world is going straight to hell. Maybe you lost a third of your savings in the stock market and might have been laid off from your job, but now's the time to turn that bad luck around and play in a special discounted tournament with four thousand other donkeys at the WSOP!"

The bad? 57 bracelets. Two more than last year. The over saturation of events the last couple of years (including WSOPE bracelets) has weakened the brilliance of a winner's bracelet. At this point with the floundering economy, they should be reducing the number of events. A reduction in events would increase the value of a bracelet.

In my poker utopia... there would be no rake, strippers would deal topless, you could smoke weed at the tables, and there would only be 42 events per year or only 420 bracelets awarded over a poker decade. I'll talk more about those suggestions shortly.

But now the schedule is out and it's time to roll up a stake for Vegas. So ask your boss (wife/employer) for permission to play before you book your summer vacation and to fly out to Sin City and attempt to fulfill a poker dream... to be an unknown and come out of nowhere to win a million dollars and a WSOP bracelet while slugging it out knee deep in donkey guts against Scandi's with perfectly messy hair.

Without further ado...
2009 WSOP Schedule:

Aside from the Main Event, all WSOP preliminary events are three-day events unless otherwise noted.

Event #1 May 27 noon: $500 Casino Employees Event NL (2-day event)
Event #2 May 28 noon: $40,000 40th Anniversary NL (4-day event)
Event #3 May 29 noon: $1,500 Omaha 8
Event #4 May 30 noon: $1,000 Broke Dicks NL (4-day event)
Event #5 June 1 noon: $1,500 PLO
Event #6 June 1 @ 5pm: $10,000 World Championship Seven-card Stud
Event #7 June 2 noon : $1,500 NL Donkament
Event #8 June 2 @ 5pm: $2,500 2-7 Draw Lowball
Event #9 June 3 noon: $1,500 Six-handed NL
Event #10 June 3 @ 5pm $2,500 PLO/PLH
Event #11 June 4 noon: $2,000 NL
Event #12 June 4 @ 5pm: $10,000 World Championship Mixed Event (Limit Holdem, Omaha 8, Razz, Stud, Stud 8, NL, PLO, 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball)
Event #13 June 5 noon: $2,500 NL
Event #14 June 5 @ 5pm: $2,500 Six-handed Limit
Event #15 June 6 noon: $5,000 NL
Event #16 June 6 @ 5pm: $1,500 Seven-card Stud
Event #17 June 7 noon: $1,000 Ladies NL World Championship
Event #18 June 7 @ 5pm: $10,000 World Championship Omaha 8
Event #19 June 8 noon: $2,500 Six-handed NL
Event #20 June 9 noon: $1,500 PLH
Event #21 June 9 @ 5pm: $3,000 HORSE
Event #22 June 10 noon: $1,500 NL Shootout
Event #23 June 10 @ 5pm: $10,000 World Championship 2-7 Draw Lowball
Event #24 June 11 noon: $1,500 NL Donkament
Event #25 June 11 @ 5pm: $2,500 Omaha 8/Seven-card Stud 8
Event #26 June 12 noon: $1,500 Limit
Event #27 June 12 @ 5pm: $5,000 PLO 8
Event #28 June 13 noon: $1,500 NL
Event #29 June 13 @ 5pm: $10,000 World Championship Heads Up NL
Event #30 June 14 noon: $2,500 PLO
Event #31 June 14 @ 5 pm: $1,500 HORSE
Event #32 June 15 noon: $2,000 NL
Event #33 June 15 @ 5 pm: $10,000 World Championship Limit
Event #34 June 16 noon: $1,500 NL
Event #35 June 17 noon: $5,000 PLO
Event #36 June 18 noon: $2,000 NL
Event #37 June 18 @ 5pm: $10,000 World Championship Seven-card Stud 8
Event #38 June 19 noon: $2,000 Limit
Event #39 June 20 noon: $1,500 NL
Event #40 June 20 @ 5pm: $10,000 World Championship PLO
Event #41 June 21, noon: $5,000 NL Shootout
Event #42 June 21 @ 5pm: $2,500 Mixed Event (Limit Holdem, Omaha 8, Razz, Stud, Stud 8, NL, PLO, 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball)
Event #43 June 22 noon: $1,000 Seniors World Championship
Event #44 June 22 @ 5 pm: $2,500 Razz
Event #45 June 23 noon: $10,000 World Championship PLH
Event #46 June 23 @ 5 pm: $2,500 Omaha 8
Event #47 June 24 noon: $2,500 Mixed Limit/NL
Event #48 June 25 noon: $1,500 PLO 8
Event #49 June 26 noon: $50,000 HORSE World Championship (5-day event)
Event #50 June 26 @ 5 pm: $1,500 Limit Hold’em Shootout
Event #51 June 27 noon: $1,500 NL Donkament
Event #52 June 28 noon: $3,000 Triple Chance NL
Event #53 June 28 @ 5 pm: $1,500 Seven-card Stud 8
Event #54 June 29 noon: $1,500 NL Donkament
Event #55 June 29 @ 5 pm: $2,500 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball
Event #56 June 30 noon: $5,000 Six-handed NL
--- July 2@ 2pm: $5,000 Ante Up for Africa Charity Event (1-day event)
Event #57 July 3 through July 15: $10,000 NL Main Event Championship

And here's the 2009 Main Event Championship Schedule:
July 3 - Day 1A
July 4 - Day 1B
July 5 - Day 1C
July 6 - Day 1D
July 7 - Day 2A (Day 1A+1B)
July 8 - Day 2B (Day 1C+1D)
July 9 - Day Off/Media Event
July 10 - Day 3
July 11 - Day 4
July 12 - Day 5
July 13 - Day 6
July 14 - Day 7 (Down to 27)
July 15 - Day 8 (Down to 9)
Nov 9 - TBD
See you in Las Vegas. Tao of Poker will be there for a fifth straight year.

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