Saturday, December 31, 2005

Tao of Poker: 2005 Year in Review Part 1

I have no idea where this post is going. I know it's over 5,000 words. I'm just going to go through my archives and mention the highlights and lowlights of 2005. By far this past twelve months have been the most special and influential on my life and on my blogs. Poker took me on a lot of side trips both socially and work related. I tossed around chips in places I never thought I'd ever play cards. Those were some of my favorite moments.

Well anyway, sit back and enjoy a recap of the last twelve months. Thanks for sharing the wild ride with me. Enjoy Part 1 of my review of 2005 on my poker blog which focuses on Jan. through June of this year. I started out in NYC and did a ton of traveling. I ended up in Las Vegas with stops in Foxwoods, Rhode Island, Hilljack Indiana, Cincinnati, and Kentucky playing poker along the way.


I changed the template from the older version into what you see here. Right now, I'm contemplating another facelift, but it's never been about how my site looks. So I might put that on hold. I concentrate all my efforts into original content. That's what matters to me the most. I started 2005 knowing that my poker blog got far more traffic than any of my other blogs combined. With that understanding of having a dedicated audience, I pushed myself to writer a little bit better here than I had in the past. I just didn't want to entertain them, I also wanted to show how good of a writer I was on a daily basis.

My Pauly's Pub football pool completed in the first week of 2005 and two of my college buddies Brad & Jerry finished one and two. Blue Parrot regular Coach took third and Matt's Austin Drunks made the money in 4th. Coach even included an installment of Coach's Corner in January.

On a personal note, I had been going through a period where I was very sick and caught the flu. My immune system was down and I kept having long intense discussion with Briana about our future. She wanted me to move in since I didn't have a place to live and was technically homeless. I was reluctant and knew I had to keep the focus on my writing. I finally got offered work by a few online sites such as Poker Magazine and Professional Poker. I wrote on spec for the first few assignments and my competent work during a temporary trial basis ended up getting me steady work and a raise for the remainder of the year. I wrote weekly articles over at Poker Magazine and contributed weekly player profiles and bi-monthly columns to Professional Poker.

I played at the Blue Parrot and had my first games at the TowneHouse hosted by Lady Falcon and her pink chips. I continued to play in random clubs over the city and continued to keep all of that off of my blogs. I also headed up to Foxwoods to play in a tournament and visit my buddy Senor in Rhode Island.

I finally finished up my December 2004 Las Vegas trip reports with Chapters 7, 8, 9, & 10. The last chapter is my favorite bit of writing from those epic reports.

I continued with more Reader Mail featuring Timmy. He hasn't emailed me in months and I'm worried about him.

I was up playing poker online and live in Jan. 2005 and started the year on a winning note.



I dished out some blogging advice to new bloggers.

In a blogger's tournament on Poker Stars, I cracked both K-K and A-A with The Hammer. 787Style had A-A and Charlie Tuttle had K-K. That began a short but unique friendship that I'd have with Charlie Tuttle. He even sent me a Nashville Predator's hockey puck as a bounty for busting him. Make sure you clcik on the link and see the photo including a note from Charlie himself on Tunica stationary!! I still have both the puck and the letter today. I'm never letting those go.

I ended up finishing 62nd in that tournament which on_thg ended up winning. I posted a write up.

I played in a few NYC homegames including the Townehouse again and at the Blue Parrot, where we held the first ever NYC poker bloggers NL tournament took place. Julie and Lady Falcon chopped and Derek took third. He busted me too.

I got a priest to designate 2-7 at St. Grubby's Day. I hear he's going to be having a private tournament this year. Stay tuned to the Poker Grub for more details.

I finally finished the third draft of my fifth novel Gumbo, just in time to celebrate Valentine's Day where Briana tried to get me to move in with her once again.

Of course, more reader mail featuring Timmy.

In mid-February, I started to get burnt out on blogging and I took a hiatus. That hiatus was interrupted by the suicide of one of my favorite writers Hunter S. Thompson. I responded with a post called RIP Hunter.

The month did not end without a trip. I flew down to Miami to spend time with my buddy Jerry and his wife. I headed to Hard Rock Seminole Casino and played some poker. I posted Part I and Part II of my Miami poker trip reports.

I ended February down about $600 for the entire year. I had a bad run playing tournaments and got killed playing NL ring tables on Party Poker. After playing solid for hours straight, I was making too many bad decisions and those were costing me my entire stack. When I came back from Miami, I decided that I needed to quickly address the leaks in my game. For all of 2004, I lived off of whatever I made playing cards due to limited freelance opportunities. I padded my bankroll on the NL tables on Party Poker and lived off of whatever I took away from homegames, underground clubs, SNGs, and tournaments. The SNG gods were frequently kicking me in the junk after a horrible run at the $30 and $50 SNGs. I made the decision to stop playing SNGs and online tournaments. I made the shift to limit instead of NL to change the pace and get me back to the fundamentals of poker. It ended up being the best decision I made all year.



Iggy and HDouble launched Poker Tracker Guide. Then, CJ announced the blogger tournament in Las Vegas at the Aladdin in June.

Hank987 made a final table at one of the Foxwoods tournaments. He wrote up a guest post on his amazing run.

I had a four-day binge of blogger tables on different sites.

Of course, everyone's favorite... more reader mail including my favorite installment... Timmy's Principal Problems, Popularity, Vegas Poker Rooms, and Time Management.

My post of the month had to be February Doldrums where I analyzed my play and tried to figure out why I was playing. I mentioned three basic things that I needed to do to stop the bleeding.
1. Identify my most common mistakes and flaws.
2. Understand why they are harming my play.
3. Correct these flaws and minimize future mistakes.
I had a six day online poker binge that featured a few blogger tables.

I started a routine. I worked early in the mornings then fire up Party Poker to grind it out at $3/$6. I did work stuff in the afternoons and early evenings or spent time with Briana. Late nights I was working off a bonus on Full Tilt. That seemed to get me back on track and I discovered that the tables on FT were incredibly soft.

Iggy hosted a HORSE tournament on Full Tilt which was won by Royal. I posted a recap. Derek had a impressive showing a bubbled out of the final table.

I played in a home game in NYC at the TowneHouse.

I also had a few half-baked ideas on the Luck of the Irish.

I had an interesting post where I explained how I improved my poker game and there's a random picture of Tara Reid and a monkey.

I headed out to Las Vegas with my buddy Senor for March Madness. I broke that trip report into 5 parts; Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5. I also posted some great pics of my March Madness Las Vegas trip.

Gamecock won his first ever blogger tournament on Poker Stars. Lucky mofo! posted a recap called Running with Game Cocks: Another WPBT Adventure.

I ended March on a huge winning streak. The Vegas trip combined with the $3/6 tables on Full Tilt really got playing with more confidence. My game was getting tighter and it felt good to finally win again and book a monthly win. Plus I also had a conversation with the Poker Prof that would end up changing my life.



I started off the month with a major announcement where I was hired by the Poker Prof to write for Las Vegas and Poker Blog and for Poker Player Newspaper. I would be moving to Las Vegas to cover the WSOP. I would be the biggest break I ever had as a writer and I waited almost two weeks to blog about it. I knew it was going to be the experience of a lifetime and I was excited to spend time with Grubby, the Poker Prof, Flipchip, and Otis. That set the tone for April as I made preperations to head out to Las Vegas. That entailed picking up as many freelance assignments as possible over the next two months.

I watched Phil Ivey win a $22K pot on Full Tilt.

I posted my first installment of Existentialist Conversations with Strippers which I'm happy to say will be included in my Las Vegas book. Later in the month I posted part two.

Derek won my March Madness pool.

I played a few home games in NYC including the Blue Parrot. We also played Razz one night which drove me crazy!

There were more installments of Reader Mail called The Other Tao Guy, Summer Books, Empire's Reload, Ad Space, and Timmy's Boner and also... Full Fish with Royal, Concerned Girlfriends, Sopranos Pool, and Card Club Archives.

One of the best posts from the month of April had to be The Zoo Review where I talked about my online play.

I also posted another installment of Coach's Corner where he recaped his run to the final table in a Poker Stars MTT.

I taped my first ever episode of the Lord Admiral Card Club featuring Cinci Sean and Brent Stacks. Thus began the series of events that would make me a huge cult figure in Canada. I also taped a second episode and a third.

Harrington on Hold'em was my Book of the Month

A couple of my articles were published on various websites.

Bad Blood ran a writing contest which I entered and penned something called Bankroll Adrift.

Iggy set up the first bloggers WSOP staellite into a $1500 NL event. Before the tournament, he was just known as Bob from one2many. After his victory, Derek dubbed him his current moniker... Bobby Bracelet. Yes, Bobby Bracelet won the first ever WSOP Satellite and picked up a seat! I posted a recap.



Briana left NYC and went to Paris on holiday for a few weeks. She ended up moving to France and stayed there for over six months. The last few days she was in NYC were some of my favorite. We weren't play mind games anymore, you know those fcuked up games that couples and potential couples play at times. We took long walks around the city and carried on some stellar conversations that I wish I recorded. We lived in the moment while never once thinking about the future. It seemed that we always got along best when we didn't define our relationship. We're both independent people and that's why it worked that way for as long as it did.

Alas, we were both entering new cycles in our lives. She had to desperately figure out some sort of direction in her life, whereas I knew exactly when I wanted to do. I was given a chance of a lifetime to cover the WSOP. We both knew I had to kick ass in Vegas without any distractions. Briana made the biggest sacrifice by stepping aside and letting me focus on writing. Goodbyes are always tough and I'd be lying if I said it was easy to part ways. On those late and long and depressing nights during the upcoming months, I'd often question if I made the right decision by not asking Briana to come to Vegas with me or not accepting the WSOP assignment at all and moving to Europe with her to work on one of several novels or screenplays that I had festering inside the hallways of my mind. Folding a monster hand is never easy.

The month started off with the second blogger WSOP satellite on Poker Stars. Russ Fox ended up winning a seat. Here's a sample of some of the recap:
Seat 8: Gracie... Despite persistent rumors, the gal from Florida is not painfully dull. And most importantly, she is not a lesbian (but she does play one on the internet). She admits on her blog that she's never done crack and does not like spiders. She's held her own in the last event after a 13th place finish. She is looking to making her first final table.

Seat 9: JoeSpeaker... The best-dressed blogger on the WPBT looked dapper once again according to the latest report from the Queer Eye Guys. His odds to win this event increased dramatically after his amazing rush to the final table last week. He's a regular at several casinos in Southern California and he's not gay... not that there's anything wrong with that.
I continued my series of Existentialst Conversations with Strippers with a third installment.

I appeared on the Lord Admiral Podcast once again for Episode 24 and Episode 26 and Episode 28.

I had an article published on Fox Sports called The Next Champion. It's currently no longer on their site but it also appeared in Poker Player Newspaper which has it archived.

Thanks Iggy! Click to enlarge.

I took a trip to the Midwest for a three day three state bender with Daddy and Iggy. I flew into Indiana and hung out with Daddy in Hilljack Country. We got trashed, played golf, and I investigated the donkey fucker phenomenon. I also played some cards (with a guy with four teeth) and I also puked in Daddy's driveway. The next day, Daddy and I drove to Cincinnati and hung out with Iggy and his crew. We partied in Kentucky with my friend Lori and saw a baseball game and a Trey Anastasio Band concert in Cincinnati. I also played cornhole with Daddy for the first time, while Lori watched and drank dunkels of German beer. On the third day the partying and poker continued. Iggy rented out a penthouse suite and held his home game there. I met his entire crew and a few other bloggers like UWannaBet and Jeff stopped by. It was a complete blast and Iggy and I drank and talked until sunrise. That trip was one of my most memorable in years and I'll never forget what Daddy said after I puked in his car... "Dr. Pauly christened my sled!"

In the third bloggers WSOP satellite held on Noble Poker, Wes aka Big Pirate won his seat into the $1500 WSOP event. He held off a final table that included The Fat Guy, Spaceman, and Bad Blood. Argggggggggggggggggggggh!

Joe Speaker won the fourth blogger's WSOP satellite on Poker Stars. He beat out a final table that included Poker Prof, Spaceman, Byron, on_thg, and GMoney.

I returned with more read mail. This batch included topics such as Camp, Books, Donkey Fuckers, Time, and Elisha Cuthbert.

I also penned the first version of Top 10 Tips on Surviving Las Vegas for newbies. Here's the quick list:
Pauly's Top 10 Tips on Surviving Vegas:
1. Cut back on sleep immediately.
2. Sip, don't chug.
3. Water is your friend.
4. Bring a cell phone charger.
5. Take pictures.
6. Ask before you post pictures on the internet.
7. Speak your mind and stay in the moment.
8. Table image is a factor in real life.
9. Don't be Gigli.
10. Never underestimate the importance of a $20 tip.
I also posted a second part to this called More Vegas Tips.

Lady Falcon threw me a Bon Voyage Party the weekend before I moved to Las Vegas. This BBQ at the TowneHouse included a tournament and cash game. It featured some of your favorite NYC bloggers including my brother, F Train, Ugarte, Joaquin, and Jordan.

Ferrari and the Blue Parrot sent me off in style with a final NYC home game. It featured:
The Players:
Seat 1: Toby... she's a famous writer and the author of The Bad Ass Girl's Guide To Poker. She even wore a cool pink shirt sporting the logo of her book, which I forgot to photograph. I wanted to see her reaction when I said, "Will you let me take a picture of your chest?"

Seat 2: Derek... the Jim Belushi of poker bloggers is looking to wipe out his losses at (Lady Falcon's) Bon Voyage Bash last Saturday with a nice win at the Blue Parrot in his last live games before he heads off to Vegas. Derek had Coach convinced that he could read his hole cards with his best Karnac impression.

Seat 3: Julie... she was Coach's last minute replacement at the WPBT Holiday Classic at Sam's Town last December. She took advantage of that opportunity and not only did she make the final table but she also came in third place. She knocked Dr. Pauly out in the bubble (6th place) at Sam's Town and he's been looking to exact revenge on her ever since. And she also chopped the NYC Poker Bloggers tournament with Toni.

Seat 4: Ferrari... the proprietor of the Blue Parrot was swamped with work and still managed to pull off a Farewell game. He had a few tricks of his sleeve which he tried to pull off later in the game. And yes, he saw Star Wars only once and did not get dressed up like a Jedi according to rumors I heard over at Rick's Cafe.

Seat 5: Marie... she adds a tinge of class and grace to the table whenever she appears at Blue Parrot games. I think it's the British accent, or perhaps it's the Red Stripe she always brings me!

Seat 6: Coach... the Dan Harrington of the Blue Parrot was stumping everyone with his extensive knowledge of 1980s TV trivia. We should all pool our money and back Coach in a side trivia cash game against that Ken James dude from Jeopardy. Coach would crush him.

Seat 7: F Train... he's been on the steroids watch list by the WPBT officials since his first appearance on the tour. He will not confirm, nor deny rumors that he used both the Clear and the Cream during his short stint trying to beat the $15/$30 tables on Party Poker. Then there's the scandal that the San Francisco Examiner had leaked about the incident where F Train was caught buying kangaroo urine at a gas station in Malibu, in order to pass it off at as his own if he won the WSoP Razz satellite on Full Tilt.

Seat 8: Pauly... your hero. He's sporting a clean cut look with a haircut and a shave. He's been playing a lot of poker during his series of good-bye/bon voyage/farewell/get the fuck out of town games. It's been his second such event in three days.
I left NYC down just $100 or so before I moved to Las Vegas. I was still up for the year. I cashed out nearly all of my online bankroll (less a few hundred on Party Poker) and headed to Las Vegas with a almost $3K in cash. By the time I left Vegas almost three months later I'd almost than triple my roll. I remember the day before I left New York, I was hanging out all over the city taking random photographs. I had a feeling my upcoming trip was about to change both me and this blog. I had no idea just how crazy and how big the 2005 WSOP would be. I thought I was leaving prepared. Not one bit.



Derek and I headed to Vegas for the second ever bloggers event. We shared a suite at the Plaza with AlCantHang and his lovely wife Eva. I posted some random updates and pictures. We did a lot of drinking and a lot of partying and played a ton of random poker including late night SNGs in the suite while Drizz played Full Tilt and shouted obscenities at my laptop.

I held back just a little because I knew I had to work the WSOP for six straight weeks. I didn't stay up as late as I would have liked and missed out on a lot of hijinks. I got to meet the Fat Guy and Chris Halverson for the first time and that made the trip for me. Bill Rini won the blogger's tournament at the Aladdin. He beat CJ heads up. The Poker Geek dropped the Hammer on the first hand of the tournament at my table. I sat next to Tanya and we became friends. I also cracked Halverson's K-K with my Big Slick. Chad busted me when my 10-10 lost to his 9-9. AlCantHang hosted a party at La Salsa and we also headed to the Rio to sweat the bloggers who won seats into the WSOP $1500 NL event which included Joe Speaker, Russ Fox, Wes, and Bobby Bracelet.

Flipchip took me over to the Redneck Riviera where I was going to be living. It looked nice on the outside, but the residents would end up becoming the biggest story of my stint in Las Vegas. They became so much more popular than the WSOP that I even considered naming my book The Redneck Riviera.

I headed to the Rio for my first day of work with Flipchip and he showed me the ropes. I set up my laptop in media row and introduced myself to a small group of people who ended up becoming my friends. Otis wasn't supposed to arrive for a few weeks and I knew almost nobody. I met Amy Calistri who was a fan of my blog and she introdcued me to Lou Krieger. I was so nervous that I kept calling him "Sir." Lou would end up becoming a loyal reader of the Tao and ended up recomending me for a few freelance assignments. I also met BJ from CardPlayer and Jen & Heather from Poker Wire. We'd end up sitting in media row everyday for six weeks together while Andy Bloch stopped by a lot. I also finally met the infamous Jay Greenspan and Nolan Dalla. Not to mention Dan from Pokerati who ended becoming one of my close buddies during the WSOP. And of course Foiled Coup was around snapping photos of hot chicks like Liz Lieu and hitting on all the skanky trade show girls that worked various booths in the hallways when he wasn't eating cheese and crackers with me in the Full Tilt hospitality suite. I also met Jen Leo, John & Earl from Poker News along with Otis' crew at Poker Stars, Brits like Mad and Howard. I could never forget meeting the Irish guys Lucky Blind Lacey and Tom Murphy. Those dudes could drink.

Flipchip ended up taking the best 2005 WSOP photos around. Take a peek.

I ended up posting my first ever live blog from the WSOP. The rest ws history. I had no idea what I was going to do. I was getting paid to write daily recaps for the Poker Prof's blog at Las Vegas and Poker along with recaps for Poker Player Newspaper and Fox Sports. The live blogging started out of a way for me to take notes on the daily events as they happened. The Poker Prof encouraged me to go ahead and do it. The first post had origins of the now infamous Last 5 Pros I Took a Piss Next To when I spotted Scotty Nguyen in the bathroom fixing his hair.

I also blogged my first final table, the event that E-Fro ended up winning, becoming the younest ever bracelet winner. I also ended up getting in the background shots of ESPN's taping of the final table.

I also taped weekly spots with Sean for Card Club's Lord Admiral podcast. I did episode 29, episode 30, episode 31, and episode 32.

I witnessed bracelet wins by Erik Seidel, TJ Cloutier, Josh Arieh, Mark Seif (twice), Barry Greenstien, Todd Brunson, Johnny Fuckin' Chan, Phil Ivey, and Doyle Brunson. Here are the live blogged final tables:
Event #5 Omaha Hi/Lo
Event #6 NL Shorthanded
Event #7 $1K NL w/ Rebuys and Event #8 $1500 Seven-card Stud
Event #9 $2K NL
Event #11 PL Hold'em
Event #12 PLO w/ Rebuys
Event #13 $5K NL
Event #15 Limit Shootout
Event #16 NL Shootout
Event #17 Limit Hold'em
Event #19 PLO
Event #21 Omaha 8
Event #22 $1500 NL
Event #23 $5K Seven-card Stud
Event #25 PL Hold'em
Event #26 Ladies NL
Event #27 PLO w/ Rebuys
Event #28 $5K Limit
Event #31 $5K Short-handed
The craziest single moment at the WSOP in June was the night Johnny Fuckin Chan won his 10th bracelet. There were 2 final tables and the Ladies Event going on. Four tourneys in all and I covered every single one. That was the hardest night at the WSOP and most memorable. I sat in the front row and watched Chan take down the Unabomber heads up to win bracelet #10. That was like being in Yankee Stadium the day Roger Maris hit #61. The very next night, Jen Tilly won the ladies event. My story on Fox Sports got picked up by a ton of media outlets. A few days later Doyle Brunson won his 10th bracelet after he beat out his buddy Minh Ly.

I also played in my first ever WSOP event. I sold pieces of myself on the Tao and sold out quickly! Thanks to everyone who bought shares including: Maudie, Al CantHang, Tanya, Derek, Briana, Otis, Senor, Iggy, Joaquin, Human Head, Obie, Joe Speaker, Wil, Spaceman, Sean & Brent from Lord Admiral Radio, Chad, Halverson, Gracie, April H., and Poker Prof & Flipchip. They all would have gotten a cut of my winnings if I made the money.

Spaceman called me to tell me one night that Charlie Tuttle was very ill and in the hospital. His favorite player was Marcel Luske and he wanted to know if we could get Marcel to call Charlie or something. Marcel did so and sung to Charlie in a ten minute phonecall. What Marcel started ended up becoming the backstory to the next couple of days as different pros rallied behind Charlie. Felicia helped get plenty of pros involved and Max Pescatori sent Charlie a care package along with other pros like John Juanda and Barry Greenstien who called Charlie.

Barry Greenstien went out and won a WSOP event. He dedicated it to Charlie in a tearful brief speech after he won. I wrote it up for Poker Player. Afterwards I broke down and cried in the hallway with Otis doing his best to console me. Charlie died the day after he heard the news. That was the same day I was supposed to play in my WSOP event #22. The last thing I wanted to do was play poker. But I did anyway and I was busted on a bad beat when A-K lost to A-10.

My thougths drifted mostly to Charlie's family and to Spaceman and Mrs. Spaceman and all of their friends. Charlie Tuttle touched so many lives at the WSOP. Charlie and his death somehow became a connection and bridged a friendship between Barry Greenstien and myself. The experience was too painful to talk about and we've only discussed it once since. We both feel blessed that being a part of Charlie's last days was a sacred reminder that life is short and precious and that you really need to live each day to the fullest.

I was tired, exhausted, and drained by the end of June. But the spirit of Charlie inspired me the remainder of the WSOP. He got me through some tough days and nights.

I got to interview Clonie Gowen and ask her what she had on her iPod. I also asked Phil Hellmuth what was on his iPod as well.

I wrote about one awful day at the Redneck Riveria.

CJ was cool and hosted a few clips of Otis and me from the WSOP.

The month ended with me in the middle of the Charlie Tuttle story and getting to play in my first ever WSOP event. Within a few weeks I went from a nobody at the WSOP to a somebody. The traffic began to pick up on my blog and I was getting noticed by fans and readers for the first time. I befriended more media reps and pros and the ESPN crew. By the fourth week I knew everyone working at the Rio convention area. Flipchip and I spent 12-16 hours there a day sometimes more, while the Poker Prof was hidden away in a bunker in a secret location in the Nevada desert doing computer geek stuff. I'd get only an hour off every day and that's when Otis and I would hit the Hooker Bar and drink non-stop while playing video poker. The rest of the time I was writing or trying to sleep through all the craziness at the Redneck Riveria.

I had very little time to play poker aside from a satellite and the WSOP event. I played several $100 MTTs on Party Poker to prep for the WSOP. The only poker I played was online via dial up at the Reneck Riveria on nights that I couldn't sleep.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Year in Review.

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