Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Lone Gunman

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I love a good conspiracy. It's even better when you're on the inside of one.

It's been a life long goal for me to be directly involved with a cabal of insiders who work methodically behind the scenes to influence an outcome of a major event. My dream is to walk down the 14th fairway and discuss a scheme to take over the world with the Cigarette Smoking Man (a.k.a. Dick Cheney).

I watched too many Scorsese films as a kid and heard many stories about fixed sporting events. My old man, my uncle, and their gambling buddies often told tales about the college basketball scandals in New York City the 1950s and 60s. My uncle attended NYU during their devastating point shaving scandal. Embarrassed by the fallout, the university dropped the basketball program altogether for many years.

Since the inception of the "point spread" wiseguys influenced the outcomes of sporting events -- baseball, football, basketball, boxing, and horse racing. Fixing events is not a problem indigenous to America. In Europe, the tennis circuit is fertile ground for thrown matches. Even the cricket world in Australia and India is plagued with scandals when entire teams take a dive. When it comes to sports betting, anything is in play. At any given time, the fix could be in. In a perfect world, you sit around and wait for one of those cryptic calls of a lifetime: "Bet the farm on ______."

Everyone loves easy money because money is difficult to obtain. We have to bust our asses and deal with inept bosses in order to get a few crumbs. The best formula for wealth accumulation is betting on the right side of the fix. Doesn't matter if it's college basketball, online gaming legislation, pharmaceutical stocks, or who is going to win the next American Idol.

One of these days, I'd like to be betting on the right side of the fix. In a way, I'm part of a larger conspiracy as someone who get paid to innocently grease the wheels of the mighty poker-industrial-entertainment complex. Even if I'm honest and tell you the truth, the deviant side of poker is enough to entice you to download PokerStars and start playing right away.

The bottom line is this... people are more drawn to the forbidden fruit. It's curiosity that lures you around those darkened corners.

The masses know that poker is highly addictive, and that the whirlwind scene on the circuit is infested with vampires, whores, and other parasites -- all of whom are trying to steal every cent out of your poker (both straight up and on the sly). Mostly everyone is aware that they are swimming in the murky political waters of online poker. However, despite the obvious downsides, people are still cajoled by the outlaw nature of poker. I can't think of too many self-employment opportunities (aside from being a drug dealer) with a fast track to wealth, power, and fame. Poker is one of the few places in society where you have a chance to do your own thing while telling all of your dissenters to "Suck the big one."

Poker is riddled with cheating even though all the powers to be do their best to keep the game clean. It's in the industry's best interest to run a fair game. Unfortunately, angle shooters are constantly concocting get rich quick schemes in an attempt to exploit flaws in the security apparatus. When in doubt, if you can't circumvent the machines, you can always bribe a human to look the other way while you do your dirty deed. Those shitstains have no qualms about ripping off players and undermining the credibility of the online sites. They have a skewed sense of entitlement and pathological criminals who operate without any semblance of remorse (similar to the Worm character in Rounders).

It's easy to say that the fix is in, however, it's nearly impossible to pull the fix off.

I went to high school with an intelligent guy who attended a fancy engineering college with three letters. Let's call him Tino. Well, Tino racked up four different degrees ranging from computer science to mechanical engineering to mathematics. He opted for a life in academia and taught at different colleges in the Midwest. He never made much money -- teachers rarely do.

When I worked on Wall Street, Tino showed me one of his side projects that took him five years to perfect. In something out of the film, Pi, he locked himself in his office until Midnight every night and spent his entire weekends writing code for a special program that recognized patterns in the options market. He had yet to apply the program in real life because he did not trust his local broker with his data. In addition, he didn't really have any money to invest because he had just gotten married and was about to start a family. It takes money to make money in this world. He had a system, but no bankroll. That's why he asked me to introduce him to influential people that would be interested in selling his program.

Tino had balls. He attempted to manipulate the financial system set in place by Milton Freidman's philosophy of economics. I always wondered if his program was bought by greedy Berbers who wanted to make money, or the powers to be were so afraid of what he could do with that knowledge, that they decided to destroy it.

A few years ago, I told Tino about the booming sports betting industry and emerging fantasy sports gambling market with Fantasy Sports Live. He decided to write a new program that analyzed past performance trends in an attempt to predict the outcome of a game. When we put it to the test, the first incarnation of this program contained too many bugs and his forecasts were inconsistent. We couldn't handle the swings and he went back to work on a second and eventually a third version of his program. At least we didn't lose any money, but learned a few lessons.

These days, instead of writing code, Tino is fascinated with taking advantage of inaccurate MMA betting lines. It's funny because he looks like a typical nebbish college math professor and often joked that he might be the only person that Woody Allen could beat up if those two ever stepped into the Octogon for a bare knuckle fight. Tino scouted the fighters and analyzed the cards in search of the best possible value to bet on. When I asked him what his computer thought of the last event in Las Vegas, he told me, "Nothing. I do all of this research manually."

It's not that Tino gave up on computers or the preciseness of mathematics and statistics. He felt strongly that a computer program can only give you so much information.

"My computer doesn't have eyes," Tino said.

"It doesn't have eyes... yet," I responded.

Tino emphasized that human analysis is more important with ultimate fighting and mixed martial arts, because that sport is more about art than the science of statistics like a sport like baseball. Basically, before making a decision about a match, he studied the tapes. He watched every single possible fight, recorded painstakingly detailed notes, and then went with his gut. He avoided favorites and patiently waited until the perfect opportunity presented itself. Sometimes he'd wait several months to make a bet, but when he found a fighter and odds he liked, he would bet big. I put in a few wagers for him and these weren't annoying $20 bets that your friends ask you to make for them when you go to Vegas. Even tenured professors don't pull in that kind of cash. With a wife, two kids, and two cats, he's a guy who wasn't going to gamble a percentage of his net worth on a coin flip. Rather, he was wisely investing in his future.

Even then, I wasn't convinced that he was using the force like Luke Skywalker and trying to blow up the Death Star by closing his eyes. When it comes to betting and gambling, I prefer to err on the side of math and statistics, which was why I had doubts over my friend's MMA pick(s). I'm not an MMA fan and usually want to have a firm grasp on a sport before I bet on it (which doesn't always hold true -- but that's the difference between being an educated gambler and a reckless degen). I did not piggyback his MMA picks, like I did with his stock selections or college basketball picks. I was skeptical. Every once in a while I'll put a bet for him at a casino or online sportsbook. He wins all of the time, which makes me wonder if he's really onto something.

But as Murphy's Law states, as soon as I jump on his bets, he will embark on a bitter cold streak. I don't want to be a jinx and fuck with the guy's mojo. After all, he's got a family to support.

His decision to shy away from computers and statistics worried because he is a career mathematician. For almost two decades, he based his entire life on numbers and percentages and all of a sudden tossed that out the window. I'm intrigued that he shed the shackles of technology and used his own brain in figuring out which meathead was going to beat the shit out of the other. But, something happened that altered his philosophy and he still hasn't revealed the details of that watershed moment. Maybe he senses enslavement from the machines?

I'm praying that Tino does not go Unabomber on me (the real Unabomber that lived in the Montana woods and not the poker pro known as Phil Laak). I'm afraid that I'm going to wake up one day and find a package on my doorstep -- a 346 page manifesto written in long hand outlining the evils of technology and why he was sick of participating in the creation of a real life Skynet.

When will the machines take over our lives? Well, they already have.

Generation X was the first wave of humans that our parents handed over to the machines. The first losing battle happened when us little kids were still shitting and pissing ourselves as we starred mindlessly at the box in our living rooms. Those rapid visual messages conditioned us to become mindless consumers. We moved onto video games and got more distracted by the ever expanding cable TV market, which kept us teenagers indoors instead of gathering in groups outdoors and protesting the government like our parents' generation did in the 1960s. Now with the internet, more information is available than ever before and the powers to be are doing everything they can to prevent the masses from accessing enlightening data that might encourage or persuade the public to form a revolution.

Is it a coincidence that the internet is being used more to make you look cool, than it is to educate you on a topic that you know little to nothing about? Social media, especially Facebook is the nasty elephant in the room which sucks up more and more time everyday. Life is tough enough living in the real world, but when you have an online personae and a second life to maintain and cultivate, the extra work and alternative reality often complicates things.

Yep, we're slaves to the machines. There's a reason my smartphone is called a CrackBerry. I can do almost everything with my CrackBerry short of actually smoking crack out of it, but I know a guy from college who was the MacGuyver of potheads and could make a bong out of anything. I betcha if I gave him two hours and a pair of tweezers, he could transform my CrackBerry into a functioning smoking device.

I'm a stone cold junkie when it comes to the machines. I cannot function without the internet or marijuana. I tried to life a day without either and I was miserable. If I can't find weed, I can get drunk or find something else to dull the pain, but finding an alternative to the internet is... impossible.

How do I get my e-fix without the interwebs? Sure, I can check out People of Walmart in real life, because it only requires physically going to a Walmart. However, I cannot participate in Guess Her Muff in real life, because finding out what is below the equator on my MAW (model, actress, whatever...) waitress at King's Road Cafe is much more difficult that you think. Chances are, if I peek underneath her skirt to investigate if she's shaved, has a landing strip, or kicking it old school with feral growth, then I will surely get a black eye or even worse, have my Miranda rights read to me after being arrested for sexual assault.

Nobody wants to be the lone gunman.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Morning Nuggets: Where Did They Come From?, Poker Hall of Fame Voting, Poli Showdown with Cali Cardrooms, and Asshole Avoidance

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Monday morning. Two of the most dreaded words in the dictionary. Nothing fosters more suicidal thoughts than the slog of Monday morning. That's why I want to point you toward a bunch of distracting items that will keep your mind away from offing yourself or potentially poisoning your boss and/or co-workers. And hey, there's a slight chance one of these nuggets gets you laid...
Let's kick this off with a heavy hitter -- something so heavy that your entire cubicle is going to be rumbling and shaking when all the hotties in your office pack it in to your workspace for a Monday morning dance party. This wild rumpus is guaranteed to erase the doldrums on this blues-ridden Monday morning. Without further ado... It's the Family Stone, Charlie Brown. Yep, who gives a shit that it's Monday... it's the perfect fire up a fatty, crank up the volume, and boogie down with Sly and the Family Stone. (Coventry Music)

Where'd They All Come From? is an op-ed by John Katkin who investigates the surprisingly high numbers in the Main Event. Seriously, where the hell did all of those players come from? Did they all win satellites? Did buy-ins fall off the back of a truck? Where did they get the money to buy in? (Pokerati)

Shamus waxes over the upcoming voting for 2010 Hall of Fame. He gets a vote this year, which is a well deserved honor. I was fortunate last year when the powers to be added to the 15-panel media selection committee, so I can attest that this is a phenomenal honor to be able to vote again this year. As per usual, Shamus brings up many valid arguments and points about the criteria of membership into the HOF. Take a peek at Thinking About the Poker Hall of Fame, Class of 2010. (Hard-Boiled Poker)

My overall view on politics is simple -- it's friggin' rigged. However, some of my friends are heavily vested in covering and following the ins and out of politics, particularly on the poker front. If you are also interested in that aspect of poker, then you should check out this guest post on Pokerati titled... The PPA vs. California Card Rooms. (Pokerati)

Los hombres at Wicked Chops Poker now have 10 episodes of This Week in Poker in the books. The latest episode included guests Phil Laak and Kimberly Lansing. Watch it if you have an hour to kill. (Wicked Chops Poker)

I finally updated a photo gallery that includes pictures of my summer vacation in exotic locales while embedded with hippies. (Flickr)

I had the biggest non-WSOP traffic day of the year on Saturday morning with this half-baked piece I scratched together during an insomnia-riddled evening... Cocaine Cowgirl: Paris Hilton Arrested in Las Vegas for Cocaine Possession. (Tao of Poker)

Funny how I'll write something and totally forget about it and then it happens to pop up later on down the line when I least expect it. A friend of mine had recently quoted me in a (somewhat funny) post I wrote almost a month ago, so I figure that I'd share it with you... Limbo, Asshole Avoidance, and Other Random Explanations of Why I Think I Hate People. (Tao of Pauly)
Best of luck surviving today. Yep, that's it. You know the drill... NGTFOOMO.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Nuggets: Adderall, Nation of Midgets, Hemp Cars, 20-Somethings, and Background Beats

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Here's a few items of note that are not related to poker, but you can find some semblance of a relationship if you dig deep enough and think hard enough. Alas, here are a few nuggets that came across my desk that I thought were worthy enough that I sent them along to friends...
Our Gods Are Assholes is pure genius from Iggy Pop. He tosses in the phrase, "nation of midgets", which sounds more like the name of a new album from The White Stripes. (Letters of Note)

What Is It About 20-Somethings? The tagline reads "Why are so many people in their 20s taking so long to grow up?" Compelling investigation and study into that fickle period of time in your early 20s that occurs between adolescence and adulthood. Those sociologists should study 20-something online pros. (NY Times)

This article is two years old, but still makes me chuckle... Chuck Klosterman on the "Difference Between Hipsters and Retards." (New York Magazine)

Cannabis Electric Car to Be Made in Canada is something that I thought was a mistaken satirical piece from The Onion, but nope, it's the straight dope. Canada will be making a car made out of hemp and run on electricity. (CBC)

Why Aren't We All On Adderall? is an interesting take on a freelance writer who ingested Adderall for the first time. So why aren't we all on it? It's hyper addictive and you need a prescription to get it. But luckily, I know a guy in Santa Monica... (The Faster Times)

The August Edition of Background Beats has been released. My buddy Jonas is a drummer and he posted a new mix of different down beats that are the perfect soundtrack to living life. Play this mix in the background while doing almost anything -- in your cube, working out, playing online poker, sex, late night partying, or commuting to/from work. Or, if you just want to look cool in front of your friends, play this mix for them. Shit, if you want to impress that hottie with all the tattoos but you think she'll blow you off because you have bland musical tastes, then blow her tits away with the latest edition of Background Beats. (Coventry Music)
That's it for now with the non-poker links. Chew properly and enjoy. NGTFOOMO.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cocaine Cowgirl: Paris Hilton Arrested in Las Vegas for Cocaine Possession and Overall Stupidity

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The ultimate party girl, Paris Hilton, got caught in Sin City with nose candy. Why? Because the guy she was banging, Cy Waits (real name, not made up), is a raging pothead and he couldn't wait to get back to their hotel room to blaze up.

If you get pulled over by a law enforcement type and he/she smells any hint of marijuana or sees plumes of smoke billowing out of your vehicle -- you're essentially fucked. Well, that's what happened to Paris and her boy toy shortly before Midnight on Friday. Las Vegas Metro Police pulled over his SUV because the officer suspected a session of heavy weed smoking going on in the car. Upon further investigation, he found Paris Hilton in the passenger seat and in possession of cocaine. I dunno if the officer checked her "secret hiding place" or if the blow was out in plain view.

Yep, that's the big story of the day that will no doubt attract a shitload of undeserved attention, even though more vital matters should be the scope of your concern. Alas, everyone loves a train wreck, especially reading about Paris Hilton getting arrested for cocaine possession. I'm only writing about it to scoop up some juicy SEO and mainly because I happened to be up late (I might be one of the few people in the City of Angels who is NOT doing cocaine) and near my laptop when the story broke.

Paris Hilton made yet another rookie mistake. I dunno if she can get out of this doozy. Getting busted for a DUI or marijuana possession is one thing -- cocaine is a different beast. And let's be honest, you really have to fuck up big time in Vegas to get thrown in jail. Then again, rich people and celebrities get off a lot easier than the average schlub.

Sure, there's no law against being a coke slut, in fact a city like Las Vegas encourages that type of aberrant behavior. The Strip is currently cluttered with thousands of those SoCal stereotypes ripping rails in bathroom stalls all over Vegas as I write this. They are easy to spot -- fake boobs, bleach blonde hair, and red runny noses. Vegas is a permissive city when it comes to vices and the police tend to allow adults to make their own decisions when it comes to personal/recreational drug use. However, it's not beyond them to round up the stupid criminals because when you act like a moron in plain sight, they have no choice but to lock you up with all of the tweakers.

The bottom line -- Paris Hilton is spending the evening in Clark County lock up for being an unintelligent coke slut.

Basic pothead paranoia 101 suggests that you never drive and smoke because you will get pulled over the moment you fire up a doobie. Someone should tell Paris that bit of advice that we learned when we were still in high school while driving around listening to She's Crafty by the Beastie Boys, and sipping Old English 800 out of paper bags while passing around a blunt.

This latest incident with Paris reminded me of all of those members of the Portland Jailblazers back in the late 1990s who kept getting busted for smoking weed in their luxury cars. Shit, Nevada is a medicinal marijuana state -- all you had to do was keep it on the down low and smoke it behind closed doors. When you race down the Strip with smoke rushing out like it's a scene from a Cheech and Chong movie, then you're going to arouse the wrong type of attention.

Hat tip to LasVegasVegas.com for informing me on the latest chapter in the Paris Hilton saga. Rest assured, she'll be back to her partying ways as soon as her lawyer bails her scrawny ass out of jail.

In the meantime, it's only fair to dedicate the next session of inebriation to Paris. So keep her in mind the next time you rip a biker rail, smoke a joint, hoist a pint, chase the dragon, drown a shot, pop an Adderall, or read a passage from the Bible.

Update: Paris' mugshot has been released. Even in police custody, Paris still give off that pouty look in her mugshot.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The 2010 WSOP Main Event in Pictures

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Take a peek at these four photos that Wolynski shot during the Main Event. They say a photo is worth a thousand words, but there's definitely 25,000 words worth of content in these pics...

Thanks to Wolynski for these pics. View more of her work at Vegas Images.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Recap: 2010 Main Event Day 2A on ESPN - March of the Mizrachis and Dannypalooza

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The WSOP Main Event officially returned to ESPN a few weeks ago, but I missed the first two weeks of action due to a vacation in Colorado and New York the last two Tuesdays -- far away from a TV set and millions of miles away from this solar system. Poker was the last thing on my mind marinated in extraterrestrial substances, which is why the DVR is a godsend. Upon my return to the City of Angels, I carefully loaded up my favorite smoking vessel with some of the finest herbs in the shire, sunk deep into the couch, and fired up all of the Main Event episodes that I missed. I finally caught up on the opening four episodes that captured the mayhem and excitement during the opening four Day 1s of the Main Event.

Break Time During the Main Event
Photo credit: Wolynski/Vegas Images

Just like in real life, I barely paid attention to the Day 1 action. Nothing really happens...well I should clarify... thousands of players from all walks of life were taking their one shot at the big time. Aside from the Amazon Ballroom and the Pavilion being packed with dreamers in pursuit of $9 million, the biggest stories don't really emerge until a week into the Main Event when the field gets parsed down to a few hundred players. Plenty of seeds are planted on the opening days, and you so your best to keep an eye on those potential bombshells, but aside from Hellmuth's grandiose (and a tad tiresome) entrance and a bunch of celebrities lighting their money on fire, there's really nothing to report at the end of am opening flight on Day 1.

Covering Day 1s of the Main Event is like trying to watch a pot of water boil... you're just going to be staring into a bunch of nothingness until things heat up. Despite the lack of exhilarating drama, the gang at 441 Productions still whipped up a couple of edible side stories and compelling back stories, and they added extra features to enhance the coverage of the Main Event. They are always topping themselves and setting higher standards for televised poker. This year, the producers at 441 added seating positions to the graphics, and they also introduced the common online tracking term of "VPIP" to the televised poker audience. Wondering how long it will take before it becomes a part of the "mainstream" poker vernacular?

Of course, not every viewer is going to understand the term VPIP, which means I'll get a call from my mother at some point in the next week who will drunkenly ramble on in a thick Bronx accent, "I watched the poker on ESPN the other day. I thought I saw you in the background. Why do you wear a jacket? I thought it's fucking 130 degrees in Vegas in the summers? And you're jacket is wrinkled. I could see it with that new HD thing-a-ma-jig. You need to take it to the cleaners. So what's this fucking VIVIP they're talking about? And why does that chatterbox Daniel Negranny guy who won't stop talking all the time have such a shitty VIVIP?"

I'll be screening her call. Obviously.

* * * * *

On Tuesday night, I watched episodes 5 and 6 of the Main Event which focused solely on Day 2A. This year's Day 2A was comprised of players who survived Day 1A and Day 1C (not like Day 1A and 1B in previous years). PokerStars Team Pro Daniel Negreanu held court on the featured TV table, while Full Tilt's Patrik Antonius chilled out at an outer secondary table.

Have You Met My Model Friend?

Antonius is one of the most quiet players in the room. Most Fins are overly quiet, which means that Antonius is not what you would call "good for TV" because he's not controversial and rarely speaks, however, he's pretty to look at. I watched these episodes with Change100 and she was hurling cat calls at the TV whenever Antonius appeared. If you don't know, Antonius is a former model and good friends with my buddy Snoopy (he's from England and one of my favorite scribes). Well, back in the day when they were teenagers, Snoopy and Antonius were underwear models together traipsing around Europe showing off their goodies. I heard a sultry rumor that Antonius used to stuff a sock in his nut-huggers to appear more... rugged. They both drifted apart from the modeling scene, but reunited in poker a decade later. Every once in a while you'll hear Snoopy introduce Antonius as, "My modeling friend... Patrik."

Golden Boy
Photo Credit: Flipchip/LasVegasVegas.com

The best part of this photo? Timtern in the background trying to hide a spume of excitement being so close to Antonius.

Former Gods Among Mortals

A few former champions were still alive at the start of Day 2A and they garnered well-deserved coverage -- Chris Moneymaker, Johnny "Fucking" Chan, Scptty Nguyen, and Joe Cada all had secondary units hovering over their tables. Darvin Moon had stopped by Cada's table even though he was not supposed to play until Day 2B. When Cada asked him about his progress, Moon shot back with a self-deprecating, "I got a lot of chips on another Darvin Moon special."

Johnny 'Fucking' Chan was not the only former pro without a sponsorship from an online poker room. Robert Varkonyi showed up without any patches from major gaming sites, but that was expected because he's not what you would call "marketable" or the perfect pitch man. For someone of Chan's stature (ten bracelets and the last player to win back-to-back Main Events), you would have expected one of the online rooms to gobble him up. Alas, Chan had took a shot at his own poker room many moon agos. Remember Chan Poker? Well, that was one of the many business deals that fell apart on Chan's watch. He can play cards, but his business acumen is suspect. For now, Chan has been shilling his own fledgling attempt to corner the energy drink market with his third-rate sugar water called "All-In Energy Drink." Where can you actually buy that Diabetes-inducing sludge? Last I heard, a bunch of tweakers broke into the warehouse and stole the last batches of the energy drink in a weak attempt to use it as a main ingredient to cook up a fresh batch of old-school Nazi crank.

Background Blenders and TV Whores

Early on in the episode, one of the funnier moments was seeing two of my friends, Timtern and Benjo, intensely covering a hand involving Scotty Nguyen. They were frantically scribbling down the action as Scotty avoided an elimination and doubled up. During the WSOP coverage, I often find myself ignoring the poker action and allowing my eyes to wander to the background. I'm more interested in figuring out which one of my friends are lurking or wandering through the tables. Friends of mine also like to lampoon those media members who are mugging for TV time and purposely stand in the shot and/or wear bright colors. I do my best to stay out of way of the cameras mainly because the cameramen can often get surly after lugging around heavy equipment all day and no one wants to go heads-up against a charging rhinoceros. As a veteran of these close quarter skirmishes, the optimal place to stand is right behind the sound guys and the boom mic because that guarantees I'll be out of the shot. That specific placement around a crowded table keeps the producers happy especially because I try to wear dark clothes to blend into the background in order to minimize the amount of time my ugly mug is shown on TV.

The March of the Mizrachis

As expected, the Mizrachi clan was well represented this episode. Both the Grinder and Robert were playing on Day 2A and at one point, they were seated at adjacent tables. Even if they did not make deep runs, the Mizrachi clan was going to be one of the many stories told after both of them made the final table of the 50K Players' Championship. Luckily for all parties involved -- all four brothers cashed with the Grinder advancing all the way to the November Nine. At this point going forward, you have to expect some part of the Mizrachi storyline to pop up every ten or so minutes.

Dannypalooza and Racial Profiling of Scandis

The primary focus of the episodes? Daniel Negreanu. At this point in his career, people either love Danny Boy or they can't stand him. Regardless, he's a heavy fan favorite and a big draw. Danny Boy knows the drill when he's seated at a TV table. He's there to entertain the masses. He's always been a bit of a class clown so he shines and thrives on these moments when he gets to have center stage all to himself. He was in typical form on Day 2 with lots of excessive verbal jousting, including unleashing his internal dialogue while the hand is in progress, and other random Danny Boy shtick like trying to put his opponents on specific hands.

His tablemates were not about to cower in the corner over his presence. The opposite took effect and they went after him. The first amateur who took a shot at Danny Boy was a former hedge fund manager. He attempted a move but Danny scoffed at the bully and countered with a four-bet shove. One of the announcers uttered... "hedge fund manager drawing dead"... which made me chuckle. That could have been something out of a nightly business report 18 months ago when almost every hedge fund manager on Wall Street I knew was considering faking their own deaths, while firing their maids and putting their Connecticut summer homes on the market.

Returning to the Daniel Negreanu show on the Main Stage (this is starting to sound more like a music festival than a poker tournament -- I guess that makes the Mizrachis the Jackson Five and Daniel Negreanu is David Bowie.... "Ground Control to Major Tom..."), Danny Boy remarked that playing the entire WSOP is a tough friggin' grind. In the past he's been "a little out of gas" once the Main Event rolls around. That's the most difficult and challenging aspect of the WSOP -- you want to play as many events and win as much money as you can before the Main Event because it's such a crapshoot, but you want to save a little energy leftover just in case you run good in the Main Event. As friends of mine of played in the Main Event and cashed have told me -- it's not easy playing the best poker of your life every day for almost two weeks.

Danny Boy still had his hands full with his table. The latest amateur to take a shot at him was a high school principal named Marvin who could have been an extra from No Country for Old Men. The cagey codger pushed Danny around and he folded. "Befuddled" was by Lon to describe Danny's reaction. The old guy instilled the fear of God into Danny, but he used a bit of racial profiling at the tables in order to figure out which players he should avoid. Danny had a theory that anyone who was under 25 in the Main Event was dangerous. He pointed at one young man who admitted he was 22.

"You're good, right? You're young... and Swedish," said Danny Boy who wanted no business with a big-stacked Scandi, until he made a bad move and attempted to slow play Aces like a Eurodonk. Danny's 10-10 ended up being gold after he "floppen a setten." Scandi down after Danny Boy stacked him and snapped off Aces.

Maroczy Variation

Chess whiz Jeff Sarwer got integrated into the coverage which also meant that Norm bombarded us with horrendous chess cliches whenever Sarwer was involved in a hand. If you missed Sarwer's couch interview, or even if you saw it, you should watch it again. It was one of the more astute interviews I had seen as he spoke candidly about the similarities between poker and chess and more importantly about life and poker. He spouted off Zen-like observations like that people have the tendency to "hide fears and intentions in life." Man, that's some heavy stuff, brah. His applied chess strategy seemed so simple, "You choose the route most uncomfortable for your opponent." And his overall philosophy on his first WSOP was inspiring, "I'm here to have fun and potentially learn something."

GG vs. Scotty

The funniest moment of the night included a hand with a former colleague, Garry Gates. The announcers incorrectly identified him as "poker blogger Garry Gates." Garry will be the first one to tell you that he doesn't even have a blog. He used to be John Caldwell's right hand man at Poker News as the head of Tournament Reporting before he moved onto to better and brighter things with PokerStars. When he was still at the helm, Garry actually hired me to cover the LAPT Mexico -- which subsequently got raided by the federales. Someone in the upper echelons of the government didn't get their wheels greased, so the federales seized the tables, chips, and even the film equipment (from the same 441 Productions crew that shoots the WSOP). For the next two days, I sat around in limbo with Otis, Change100, Joe Giron, and the entire Costa Rican media. So, to bide our time, we drank tequila and Sol beer at the all-inclusive resort in Neuvo Vallarta as we anxiously wondered if the federales were going to permit the tournament to continue, or of they were gonna throw all of us into prison.

If there's anything I learned on my international travels it's this -- if potentially faced with imprisonment in a foreign country... drink heavily.

Anyway, Garry's elimination hand got included in the broadcast when he went to battle against Scotty Nguyen in a classic race -- flipping coins with K-9 against Scotty's baby pair of fours. Garry could not catch an overcard and he was dunzo...but not without a crack from the announcers that he was going to "blog about is own elimination." Garry walked away with his pretty Aussiegirlfriend, Lynn, and a swanky red Poker Stars schwagg bag that they were giving out on the NAPT. He hooked me up with one at Mohegan Sun before the WSOP began.

The Case for Bringing Back the All-In Chip

The biggest hand that Chris Moneymaker was involved in had taken so long that it spilled over into the break. He didn't hear the call of "all-in" from his opponent and was wandering around for five minutes before he decided to call the clock. His opponent, who had been sitting still the entire time, piped up, "I moved all-in five minutes ago. I was about to call the clock on you." Moneymaker experienced one of those no-duh moments, just like what happened to him and Johnny "Fucking" Chan many moon ago. Yep, total brain fart there. Someone has been smoking too much weed or someone needs to pronunciate an all-in call with the vigor of a Shakespearean actor. Next time, scream the fucking words.

No Kicks for You

Heather Sue Mercer was one of the females who drew a significant amount of time this week. She's most famous for being a place kicker and wanted to play for Duke, but the officials conspired against her. She launched a discrimination case against the university which has now become fodder for law students. I first came across Mercer at a Borgata tournament when she final tabled the Ladies Event in January 2006. Four years later, she's getting an exclusive couch interview during the Main Event. Heh, if you stay around in poker long enough, everyone will get their fifteen minutes of fame. Just ask Dennis Suharto.

Get Baked

Before I go, here's one last item of note... Bakes finally got some love. David "Bakes" Baker's bracelet victory was briefly mentioned during B-roll of the star-studded Deuce-to-Seven final table. Bakes' girlfriend, spicy Brazilian dish Maridu, along with his former poker coach Vanessa Selbst were on the rail sweating his epic run.

Day 2A is in the books and has been entombed into ESPN's archives.

* * * * *

You can check out Tao of Poker's coverage of that day including the 2010 WSOP Main Event Day 2A Semi-Live Blog and end of day recap titled 2010 WSOP Day 43: Moneymaker - The Shadow of a Dream.

Don't forget about episodes of the Tao of Pokerati podcast that Michalski, Benjo, and I recorded live from the floor of the Rio.

For more of your Main Event fix, visit the Tao of Poker's Index of WSOP coverage.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Nuggets and Pimps: The Ticket, Lost Vegas Reviews, The Shamus Interview, and Friends with Books

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

A few items of note crawled up on my virtual desk. I'd like to share some of those items with you, including books that friends of mine wrote, in this Tuesday version of Nuggets and Pimps.
Mr. Funk is one of my favorite Las Vegas bloggers. I hope he writes a book someday about his adventures as a cabbie in Las Vegas. Anyway, check out a stellar five-part series on his attempt to beat a ticket. Start with Part 1 of L "The Ticket". (Las Vegas Cabbie Chronicles)

For a little comic relief... Coolio had threatened Micon and the DonkDown crew. Find out what's up in that corner of the universe. (DonkDown Radio)

Thanks to Otis for pimping Lost Vegas last week. (Rapid Eye Reality)

Chad Holloway published a review of Lost Vegas. (Predictem)

By the way, Lulu.com is also the platform where two close friends also published books. If you like pulp novels or the grittiness of NYC in the 1970s, then you should read Same Difference by Martin Harris. After publishing a few poetry collections, Falstaff recently published a novel. Check out The Chosen by John Hartness.

Shamus penned a review of Lost Vegas a couple of weeks ago. We also sat down for a thorough interview and discussed some of the background information about the publication and overall creative process behind Lost Vegas. (Betfair Blog)
That's it. NGTFOOMO.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dispatches from the Psychedelic Circus and the Wook Patrol Podcast

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Even though I took some time off from writing about poker, I did not stop writing completely. I published the August issue of Truckin', a literary blogzine that I've been spearheading since 2002. The latest August issue features six stories including contributions from Mark Verve, Johnny Hughes, May B. Yesno, and my favorite Norwegian scribe, Sigge. I have a part in two selections this month including a snippet from the L.A. novel I started writing shortly before the WSOP began. That piece is titled Invisible. (Truckin')

On the music side, I penned nine recaps (out of the 11 Phish concerts I attended) as I made my way cross-country starting out in Berkeley, CA and making my way to Telluride, CO, and eventually to the Midwest and Deer Creek, IN and Alpine Valley, WI, before I made a last minute jaunt to Jones Beach, NY. Writing about music is an entirely different beast than writing about poker. If you're a music fan, then definitely check out the excerpts and linked up recaps below. And if you're just a little curious, don't be afraid to take a peek at what it's like following around the psychedelic circus for two weeks...
Mellow Thursday (Berkeley, CA)

The suite next to us had two huge ass dogs. I think they were Shetland ponies. With the dogs around, it was easy to spot one older surly guy. When I was paying for the pizzas he was making a scene and kicking one of the doors down the hall. An hour later, the local police had him in handcuffs and were dragging him outside. In all, five squad cars were outside. We peeked through our blinds and saw two guys slumped against the back of one car while handcuffed and a group of four officers were huddled trying to figure out what to make of the scene.

* * *

Friday Rager (Berkeley, CA)

One young heady Momma was doing her best to walk the steep hill and carry both a beer and a baby bjorn. She almost slipped but she perfectly steadied the beer so none of it spilled. A few wooks tried to hop the barbed wire fence in the back of the Greek. One female cop was waiting. She tackled the fence jumper and cuffed his scrawny ass. As Benjo noted, the cops didn't care about any weed smoking. They were just busting the folks trying to sneak in.

* * *

The Invasion (Telluride, CO)

The citizens of Telluride had a legitimate fear -- being over run by blood thirsty Phisheads who blindly trail their heroes around the country, ingesting every potential mind-altering substance in its path, and literally taking over and destroying whatever city Phish plays in, let alone a tiny town nestled in the Colorado mountains. But somehow, Phish's management team pulled off two 9,000 person shows at Telluride's Town Park. Someone must've dropped off a huge sack of cash to the local political machine, because the council was eventually swayed to permit Phish to play.

* * *

Redemption and Make-Up Sex (Deer Creek, IN)

"I got heroin, morphine, and Klonapin," said the 50-year old woman with track marks sprinkled over both arms as her scrawny dog wandered around us in circles.

"I'm looking to get up. Not doooooown," I told her as we stood in the middle of Shakedown, with a searing 95-degree heat sending waterfalls of sweat down the sides of my face."

* * *

Phish Recovers from Hangover; Smokes the Shit Out of Deer Creek (Deer Creek, IN)

"Do you have any Peggy?"

I had just sold two Dharma patches to two schwasted sorority girls on Shakedown. They were huge fans of LOST and fresh off of Dave Matthews Band tour. They were also looking to blast off.

"Peggy? What the fuck is that?" I muttered.

"Peggy. You know... ecstasy."

"Ohhhh... you mean Molly?"

Giggles all around. "Oh yeah, Molly!"

I told her to keep walking and look for wooks with sideways flat-billed hats.

* * *

The Circus Comes to Wisconsin (Alpine Valley, WI)

On our way out, I wandered into the bathroom and the janitor had just finished cleaning one of the toilets.

"Tips are appreciated," he screamed out to the near empty bathroom. I stood at a urinal next to another spun out dude. A schwilly guy jumped out of the other stall and confronted the janitor.

"Dude, some brah dropped a deuce in this stall. It's a two-foot long turd!"

The janitor's face dropped. He had just finished cleaning that one.

"Naww.... just kidding!" screamed the spunion as the panicked look evaporated from the janitor's face.

"Shit, you had me," joked the janitor. "I'm lucky you didn't film my reaction and put that shit up on You Tube."

"Two foot turd. Fuck your face, brah!" screamed the spunion, who ran out of the bathroom.

"Tips are appreciated!" screamed the janitor. I reached into my pocket, handed him a nug, and walked out.

* * *

The Mothership Returns (Alpine Valley, WI)

I woke up early on Sunday morning (still in the clothes from the previous night) and still reeling from the Saturday show. At 7am, the crew in our lakeside cabin were still asleep. I wandered over to Daddy's cabin and sure enough, he and Jason were up. I walked into a stimulating story by Daddy about an old friend from college who once ate two live mice for $60.

* * *
It's No Easy Road (Jones Beach, NY)

We headed out to the lots and within seconds the sounds of evaporating brain cells filled the air. The nitrous tanks were out in force and the crackheads rushed towards the hissing sounds. Within seconds, my row was filled with brain-damaged tards clutching balloons and stumbling into oncoming traffic. You can't sell grilled cheese at Jones Beach, but nitrous is perfectly acceptable.

* * *
The Last Grope (Jones Beach, NY)

We drove up to the parking lots and heads wandered up and down the road with their index fingers pointed to the skies. When we pulled into the lot, we were greeted by hundreds of ticketless fans seeking out the toughest ticket on the tour since Telluride. Extras for tour closers are never easy.

I didn't see too many extras at the beach for either night. It was a hot ticket and fans stood at the entrance to the parking lot and praying for a miracle. Some held out cash ($20s will never suffice, you gotta flash a few Benjamins to get someone's attention) while few amateur artists whipped up snazzy signs hoping to catch someone's eye. A few hopeless heads scribbled their pitch with a sharpie on the back of an empty beer box. I doubt any of them got inside.
All of these recaps originated at Coventry Music. You can follow us on Twitter... @CoventryMusic.

* * * * *

By the way, my crew at Coventry Music created a podcast called Wook Patrol. My buddy the Joker and I are the co-hosts and we often interview our friends before/during/after Phish concerts. That music-themed podcast about the happenings around Phish tour is is modeled after the successful Tao of Pokerati quick-fire podcats. Heck, we even have Benjo as a guest on two episodes.
Episode 15: The Greek: Cows and Discoball Hemlets (1:14) - Pauly and the Joker return with a post-show episode. They chat about the Joker's encounter with the cow people while he and Carrie were rocking the Disco Ball helmets.

Episode 16: The Greek: Wook Patrol Update (1:34) with Benjo - Pauly asks Benjo to give him the run down on the wook trying to jump the fence in the back of the Greek, and the cops who were busting them.

Episode 17: The Greek: Setbreak Convo with Benjo - During setbreak, Pauly quizzes Benjo about the funny snippets of conversations he's heard around him while waiting in line.

Episode 18: Telluride: The After-Party with Wildo - Pauly and Wildo survey the bizarre, yet heady scene at the Coventry crew's post-Phish after-party that the Joker hosted in his condo.

Episode 19: Telluride: No Wooks, No Tour Dogs - When it started getting late at the after-party at the condo, the Joker went on an aggressive patrol and encountered a wook trying to enter the party with a tour dog. The Joker was not going to have any of that. Listen in as the Joker explains to Pauly what happened.

Episode 20: Telluride: The Ganjala - The Joker tells Pauly about his ride on the Gondola, which the locals refer to as "the Ganjala." The Joker ran into the only non-herb friendly person in all of Telluride. Hilarity ensues.

Episode 21: Telluride: Late Night Patrol with Jonas and Wildo - Party crashers were the biggest concern for the mellow Tuesday after-party. The Wook Patrol was prepped. Pauly discusses the new security set up with Wildo and Jonas.
The Telluride episodes are among my favorites. "The Ganjala" episode is one of the funniest things we recorded to date.

To listen to older episodes from the Horning's festival in Oregon and Part I of Phish's summer tour, then visit the Wook Patrol archives.

* * *

OK, that's it for now. I wanted to pimp some of my other scribblings and side projects before we return to the grind of poker.

Regularly scheduled poker broadcasting resumes shortly....

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Morning Nuggets: UB Super-User Scandal, Top 5 Surprises, Types of Tweeters, and KevMath

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I have returned from a three-week holiday after stepping away from the grind of poker. I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things, which includes catching up on my poker news reading. Here are a few items of note that I'd like to share with you as I slowly get back into the fray. It's perfect Sunday morning reading, or something to keep you entertained while slugging it out during the Sunday tournaments...
I was fortunate enough to appear as a guest on the first ever episode of This Week in Poker. Shamus write an excellent review of This Week in Poker, the weekly webcast that is manned by a few friends of mine (aka the entities or los hombres at Wicked Chops Poker). (Hard-Boiled Poker)

Speaking of los hombres... they recently posted the Top 5 Surprises in Poker in 2010. Interesting and fascinating list for sure. And I'm still trying to figure out where the hell all those people came from in this year's Main Event! (Wicked Chops Poker)

The Four Types of Poker Twitterers is an astute observation about the different people who use Twitter for poker. At the end of every WSOP, I go through a Twitter purge and unfollow a significant amount of poker people until the WSOP gears up again. (Riding the F Train)

Oh, and how about some legit reporting from los hombres? It's not just all tits and ass. Sometimes, they actually do the poker community a non-masturbatory service. In this case, they posted the continuation of their investigation into the UB Super-User Cheating Scandal - Part II . (Wicked Chops Poker)

Oh, and Kevin Mathers sounded off on the UB Scandal. Listen to his appearance on the Poker News Radio podcast with the Dutchies, HappyFreaked and WebJoker. (Pokerati)

I'm often critical of some of the things I write, especially freelance work. However, in this instance, I enjoyed writing up something about our Mastodon adventure for Bluff Magazine. Thanks to my editor Lance for allowing me to share this epic tale... Small Town, White Churches & Sex Offenders. (Bluff Magazine)
OK, you know the drill. That's it. Now... GTFOOMO.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Lost Vegas: Reviews and Beach Discount

By Pauly
Berkeley, CA

Thanks to a few folks who have written extremely nice things about Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers, and the World Series of Poker. The best thing is that I didn't even have to bribe them, because they gave me a glowing review for free.

Here's a few reviews/mentionings of note...
Dr. Pauly Gets To Grips with The Real Sin City and its Highs and Lows by Brendan Murray (Card Player Europe)

Update on the Book Project by Kara Scott (Card Runners)

Review: Lost Vegas by Wolynski (Wolynski)

Review: Lost Vegas by Poker Shrink (Keeping Your Head in (All) the Game)

Summer Reading
by Short-Stacked Shamus (Hard-Boiled Poker)

Book Review: Lost Vegas by Ernest (Throwin' Rocks)

A Friend and His Pen by Otis (Rapid Eye Reality)
Thanks to everyone for their kind and generous words.

And thanks to Marko and the gang running the social media department at Party Poker. They gave away a few copies of Lost Vegas through one of their promos!

* * * * *

OK, now some good news. The folks at Lulu are offering up a 15% discount on Lost Vegas! Don't worry, the discount comes out of their end and not mine. I'll still get my cut.

To take advantage of the 15% discount, click here to buy the book and make sure that you use discount code: BEACHREAD305

If you haven't had a chance to buy Lost Vegas, well you're in luck because you get it 15%. If you already bought a copy but want to give one to a friend, then here's your chance to do so.

If you don't know, Lost Vegas is a print-on-demand (POD) book which means that the production of the book is environmentally safe for all of you tree huggers. We will not waste any paper. Lulu.com is a third-party seller who prints copies of Lost Vegas as you order them.

An e-book/Kindle version will be available in late October. If you're a tech geek, then you'll have to be a Luddite and buy an actual physical copy until then.

Here's some answers to FAQs about Lost Vegas. And please go here to buy the book. Don't forget to use BEACHREAD305 as your coupon code to receive a 15% discount.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Want a Job in Poker? Read Lost Vegas and Watch Almost Famous

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

An email arrives about once a week from someone I never met before seeking advice on one of two things: moving to Las Vegas to become a poker pro, or someone wanting an entry level position in the poker media.

I try to dissuade the person on the other end from engaging in either enterprise. The odds are stacked against you if you wanna turn pro because only a handful of players actually make ridiculous sums of money. Yeah, only a small percentage are actual winning players, meanwhile the majority of pros are barely breaking even or deep into debt.

I have no idea why anyone would want to be in the poker media. It pays absolutely shit wages. The hours are poor. Your employers remind you how expendable you are. Pros shit on you. And hack writers steal all of your good material.

Despite those stark warnings, whenever someone emails me seeking advice, at the end of every response, I always suggest they follow their heart. After all, life is short that sometimes you gotta take a shot.

Now, these days when I receive one of those "please give me advice" emails, I tell the sender that they should also do two things: read Lost Vegas and watch the director's cut of Almost Famous.

Sure, let's me frank here, I'm trying to sell a book, moreso, my book. But I'm also doing everyone a service by letting them know that Lost Vegas is a valuable tool because it sheds insight into what it's like to be a member of the poker media, along with stories about the life on the circuit. Whether you're moving to Vegas to be a pro or want a job in the media, regardless, Lost Vegas is a must read because there is little to no other material on the subject.

Almost Famous is Cameron Crowe's semi-autobiographical journey as an up and coming Rolling Stone reporter, something he achieved while he was still in high school. Almost Famous resonates for anyone in poker -- whether you're media, a player, or a fan -- with striking similarities.

One scene in particular stands out. Early in the first act, William Miller meets one of his idols (and soon to be mentor) music critic Lester Bangs. The scene in the diner is so powerful that I often watch it over and over. Check it out...

In the spring of 2005, before I even moved to Las Vegas, I felt like the wide-eyed eager beaver kid in the chair jotting down notes. Today? I feel more like the Lester Bangs' character. I must have given the same "death rattle" speech a dozen times at this year's WSOP. Just substitute "poker" for "music" and the above scene could have been an actual conversation that took place at the Hooker Bar between myself and one of the younger poker reporters.

After taking a peek behind the curtain and seeing the all powerful Wizard of Oz over the last six years, I've accepted the poker industry for what it is. I resisted that fact for many years, hence the jaded glaze that hovered over me. But it's not just me, everyone that has been in poker for a decent stint. The tipping point occurs 25-36 months after you join the circus. That's when the metamorphosis takes place and all the coolness wears thin and you final see reality for what it is.

Poker is not a shortcut through life like you think it is. In fact, you probably have to work harder at it than your current job whatever that might be. Fame and fortune come at a price. If you have the balls, brains, and determination to do it -- then so be it.

If you're considering a career change and thinking about the poker industry, or if you're having doubts or need more information, then I suggest you soak up the stories and themes in Lost Vegas and watch the director's cut of Almost Famous. Even if you don't find enlightenment or any answers, at the least, you'll be entertained.

FYI... you can buy Lost Vegas here.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Sunday Morning Link Orgy: No Logos, Orel Pitches for Poker, Annie Duke Talks a Good Game, and Taxi from the Dark Side

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Holy shit. It's August 1st? Time has flown for sure. Anyway, as summer slowly ticks away, enjoy this lovely first Sunday in August with a few links of note...
Let's kick off with some of Flipchip's 2010 WSOP photos. He was hard at work at yet another WSOP and uploaded a gallery of 140 or so pictures. (LasVegasVegas)

Snoopy made me laugh all summer long by sharing the trials and tribulations of being a mild-mannered Englishman trapped behind enemy lines in douchebag central aka the Hard Rock. He finally left Vegas and returned to London, but not before he penned one last post about Vegas titled Taxi from the Dark Side. (Black Belt Poker)

Annie Duke talked about internet gambling on MSNBC. (Pokerati)

Shamus weighed in on politics and baseball. Orel Hershiser's Pitch for Poker is a worthy read. (Hard-Boiled Poker)

No logos for Prahlad Friedman. He's no man whore -- unless you pony up the dollars. Kudos to a guy who knows what his sale price is -- and he sticks to it. (UK Poker Player)

Today is Sunday which means a new episode of Mad Med is on deck. The new season kicked off last week. If you're a fan then you need to read this astute recap of season 4's opener... Public Relations (Slant Magazine)

This is old news, but it finally got published a few weeks ago... Bluffing Ivey. (Poker Player Newspaper)

Happy Jerry Day! If you don't know, today would have been Jerry Garcia's 68th birthday. (Coventry)

Jerry at one of The Grateful Dead's rare shows in 1975

Dear Twitterheads... you can follow @LostVegasBook for updates on the book. Follow @taopauly for general updates, and follow @CoventryMusic if you're a music freak. (Twitter)
OK, that's it. Good luck grinding the Sunday tournaments. NGTFOOMO.