Sunday, July 31, 2005

Book Review: No-Limit Life by Charlie Shoten

I first met Charlie Shoten at Sam's Town casino in Las Vegas last December, at a breakfast "meet and greet" before the first WPBT live tournament. Charlie was scheduled to speak about his upcoming book No-Limit Life. He offered insight into his Ten Commitments along with suggestions on how to eliminate Thought Terrorists (TT) out of your life. Since that day, I had been waiting for his book to come out. I'm an avid reader and was eager to read about Charlie's thoughts on life and how it specifically applies to your poker game.

During the last two months while living in Las Vegas, I've had the opportunity to engage in several inspiring conversations with Charlie Shoten. I'd catch him in the hallways at the Rio during the World Series of Poker or I'd stop by his booth at the Poker Expo. Most recently, I've been running into him at the Bellagio where you can often find him playing in their daily tournaments. We chatted about many different things. He gave me tips on improving my tournament game. We discussed his book and the intricacies of getting it published. And most importantly we spoke about personal freedom, a subject that intrigues me the most as a writer.

Now that the WSOP is finally over, I can take the time to tell you about Charlie's Shoten book No-Limit Life. You need to add this book to your poker library. It's always refreshing to read a book that focuses on subjects that are not just about poker. Charlie wrote a series of articles for Poker Player Newspaper and the feedback from readers was so overwhelmingly positive that he expanded the concept of those articles into No-Limit Life.

Charlie Shoten shares with you some of his own personal philosophy and how if applied, you can improve both your life and your poker. No-Limit Life is a book that would be great for poker players of any skill level. I personally enjoyed his astute advice on being less of what we are not and discovering personal freedom to find a release of my inherent creativity.

The design of the book is very cool. The quality of paper used is top notch. The pictures are outstanding. Several of them were taken by Flip Chip. And even pictures some of your favorite bloggers (G Rob, F Train, Daddy, Felicia, and the Poker Prof) are in Charlie's book, including yours truly on Page 191. On almost every page there are boxed quotes from both Charlie and a selection of great minds including William Shakespeare, Albert Einstein, Alfred Tennyson, Winston Churchill, and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. There are small illustrations sprinkled throughout the book where you get to see the cartoon version of Charlie Shoten. On the margin of every left page, he lists keywords for his Ten Commitments:
1. Attitude
2. Focus
3. Notice
4. Intentions
5. Trust
6. Appear
7. Outcome
8. Forgiveness
9. Notice
10. Gratitude
Charlie spends a lot of time discussing his "Sixth Commitment" which is: I am calm, confident, and clear, and I wait for my best choice to appear. This is advice that you can apply to your life whether you are seated at a poker table or in a business meeting. I've found myself repeating Charlie's Sixth Commitment to settle down while I was on the verge of tilt during my last bad poker session.

Plenty of pros have read and embraced Charlie's book as well. Included in No-Limit Life are commentaries from notable pros who enjoyed Charlie's book such as Vince Burgio, Scotty Nguyen, Men the Master, Carlos Mortensen, and Miami John Cernuto. Even WPT founder Lyle Berman purchased twelve books so he could give them to his friends. You can see a picture of Lyle Berman reading Charlie's Book here. It was taken during the WSOP by Flip Chip.

Charlie autographs his book for James Woods

Since his book has been published, Charlie has shown me some of the glowing emails and letters he's gotten. Here's a sample of what readers have been saying about No-Limit Life:
"You are far more than a poker player and I commend you for your work. You are teaching people to guide themselves, and that's the greatest gift a leader can give."

"Not all can say what they mean and mean what they say! The real task is to of course practice what you have taught in No-Limit Life."

"Your book has altered my perceptions so drastically, that now I can better handle the stress of professional poker. Thanks for changing my life."

"Your book gave me the knowledge and map I needed to have the courage to deal with my negative outlook on life. I have turned my future into something positive. The pages of the book were filled with an abundance of wisdom from someone who has obviously 'been there.' I finally had the recipe to be myself and eliminate my Thought Terrorists. This has allowed me to be a better and happier person than I ever thought to be."
If you would like to order a copy of No-Limit Life, simply download and mail in the order form. (PDF Document)

NOTE: If you're having difficulty downloading the above order please download the latest copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader.

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You should be reading... Charlie's Corner over at Las Vegas and Poker blog.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Truckin - July 2005, Vol. 4, Issue 7

I posted the latest edition of Truckin, my literary blogzine. It's kinda late, but finally out. Take a peek because you won't be disappointed. Oh, and all of the stories were written by fellow bloggers.
1. Otis Has Left the Building by Tenzin McGrupp
Everything was going well until some slick L.A. hipster doofus in a $500 blazer joined the table. I knew right away he was bad news. On his roll I lost almost all of my winnings. His negative karma attached itself to our group. Even Jesus succumbed to the dark veil of the hipster's bad luck... More

2. Langston by BG
Still, there's always that little feeling of dread that hangs over my head. Every day I'm here I try to work hard and work smart, but all I want is to be left alone. I just assume that someday someone is going to notice what I'm doing and point me out as a fraud. My own personal Sword of Damocles I guess....More

3. Observation Deck by Joe Speaker
Her freckled nose is too small, too delicate, and is overwhelmed by her other features. A regular scent of cocoa butter trails behind her when she takes her seat... More

4. Stripping the Night Away on My Last $100 by Grubby
She had a unique talent that I hadn't experienced before, where I could swear she had some sort of silent vibrator in her mouth. And she put it to good use. I had another dance to confirm... More

5. London-Khartoum (Sudan, Part 1) by Sigge Amdal
I reminded myself that I'm a stuck-up Norwegian and that we are the most anti-social culture in the world, giving us some room to misunderstand friendliness, so I closed my eyes to consummate my relationship with the topless Arab dancers instead... More
I ask that if you like these stories, then please tell your friends about your favorite stories. It takes a few seconds to pass along the URL. We all appreciate your support. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you know anyone who is interested in being added to the mailing list.

Friday, July 29, 2005

More Senor in Las Vegas Day 2

It's 4:57am. I'm drunk again and blogging.

Senor has a suite at the Luxor. He bribed the girl at the front desk with a big tip and got a free upgrade. I woke up late, slightly hungover and met Senor at the MGM. He already dropped $120 playing Caribbean Stud. He was playing NL in the poker room when I finally arrived. I sat down at a $4/8 table and won about $120. Senor was up $90 at the NL tables when we left. We ate at the Rainforest Cafe nearby. It's spooky in there, but the kids seem to love it. I would have loved to seen what that was like on ahead full of mushrooms. We popped into he sports book to check on a few scores. Senor had money on the Tampa Bay/Kansas City game. Don't ask me why.

Senor wanted to play in a NL tourney so we walked over to the Aladdin during a rare thunderstorm. I called Grubby and he drove over to play. Despite being late, he was added to the alternate list and got in. BJ from Cardplayer was at the Bellagio and he came over to play as well. We had a last longer bet, which Grubby ended up winning. He came in 9th and unfortunately bubbled out. Senor was the first of us busted within the first hour. BJ was out before the break and I managed to get to 22nd place. 65 players in all bought in for $60 and the top 8 places paid. At least Grubby won the last longer bet. You get $2000 in chips and within the first orbit I had $3K. I was eventually blinded out. I had pocket aces with a short stack but wasn't paid off. I was busted when my 7-7 ran into A-J and he rivered a Jack on me.

We headed over to Spearmint Rhino to see the lovely ladies take off their clothes and try to seduce us into foolishly blowing our poker bankrolls in the VIP room. Never go into the VIP. It's a black hole for your money. It's like taking "insurance" in Black Jack. It's a sucker's bet.

By the way, I still have the "stripper scent" all over my clothes. Ah, that's a tantalizing aroma. I've been trying to win enough money at the poker tables to cover my strip club expenses. I only dropped $160 in lap dances tonight. That's 8 "big bets" for all you strip club geeks out there. I got three from Ally. Two from Nicole. One from Heavenly. And I was tag teamed by two lesbians who kissed each other while they took turns grinding on top of me. Yeah it was just another Thursday night in Las Vegas.

Senor was wicked wasted off of several shots of tequila and a few Coronas. He fell in love with a feisty stripper named Naya. He was also unimpressed with a half-Chinese and half-Japanese girl (who was oddly enough Canadian) named Keiko. She was nimble and I thought she was fine. Senor wasn't into her as much as I thought he'd be. She lived in Vancouver and we began the first of many conversations about marijuana that I'd have with various strippers. She told me that her sisters grows her own in British Columbia.

Grubby spent a lot of time with a blonde named Candy. Or was it Candi? "I never bothered to ask," added Grubby.

Ally commented on my Grateful Dead hat. She was skilled and would rub her butt into my chest. She wore a short plaid skirt and had the Catholic school girl look that always gets me excited. She smelled like peaches.

Nicole was my amour du jour. I called her the triple threat. She had personality. She had a sick body and smelled like the beach. And she gave a stellar lap dance which included some serious grinding. Her skin was smooth and soft to the touch. Both of her nipples were pierced and her ass was so tight that you you could bounce nickels off of it. She hung out with me for a long time and I eventually had to get a couple of dances from her. She definitely makes my Top 25 Strippers of All Time list.

The lesbian teams always get me. I'm such a sucker for threesomes. I guess I've built up such an erotic tolerance for naked women that I actually need two at a time to get off.

By the way, there's nothing more wretching than the emotional rollercoatser I endure when I have to turn down an ugly stripper who wandered by and tried to get me to buy a lap dance. I used to feel sorry for them. Back during our college days, Senor would throw sympathy dollars at the homely strippers.

After the visit to Spearmint Rhino, we headed to Excalibur to shoot craps. Senor doubled up his buy in. He bet the field during my roll. I hit 12 on consecutive throws and he ended up winning enough to cover his lap dance tab for the night. I barely dented mine. I won about $40. My craps winnings didn't even cover the bar tab.

It's technically Friday, which means more hijinks shall ensue. Expect some Pai Gow poker stories along with another adventure to a strip club. Maybe I'll start a series of Las Vegas books and include a stripper volume where I'll compile all my Existentialist Conversations with Strippers. Maybe I'll call it: The Tao of Lap Dances?

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You should be reading... Double As and Bill Rini.

P.S. Happy birthday Wil!

Thursday, July 28, 2005


It's 5:30am and I'm drunker than Albert Finney on a two day bender. Been pounding cocktails at the Luxor since Senor arrived in Las Vegas 5 hours ago. Grubby and I were playing poker at Mandalay Bay for several hours while awaiting Senor's arrival. He doubled up at his NL table with the Hilton Sisters while I got kicked in the junk repeatedly on my $4/8 table (with a half kill to $6/12). At least Joanne kicked ass last night in her multi on Party Poker. She took 8th out of 2000. Way to go Joanne!! She even called us for a dial-a-shot at 3am!

Sorry for the short post. Not much to say aside from one of my best friends from back east is in town. Senor flew all the way out from Rhode Island to party it up for a few days. He wants to raise hell, play Pai Gow poker, and hit up strip clubs with Grubby and myself.

Feel free to read my final table recap of the UPC $10K main event at the Plaza.

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You should be reading... Al Cant Hang and the Poker Nerd.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

UPC Final Table Update

We're back! Live at the Plaza for the final table of the UPC. Flipchip is out taking photos of the final table as we speak. He told me plenty of Vietnam stories on our ride downtown today. I hope he doesn't "flip" out and start having flashbacks about his time in the jungle. I'm gonna need to tap into his extensive knowledge of survival skills, if I want to avoid confrontations with urine-stained-pants wearing whinos, skinny speed freaks, and other sullen degenerates who roam the streets of downtown Las Vegas.

Here's the Final Table Seating & Chip Counts:
Seat 1: Andy Bloch $305K
Seat 2: Blair Rodman $169K
Seat 3: Scott Fischman $139K
Seat 4: Senthil Kumar $331K
Seat 5: Mike Wattel $351K
Seat 6: Chau Giang $234K
Seat 7: Ted Forrest $124K
Anyway, there were 55 players who forked over $10K for a chance at the first place prize of $167,500 and the coveted gold bracelet.

****** Live BLogging Updates ******

2:00pm... Ooops. Action started earlier than I expected. Thank God for Jen and Heather at Poker Wire! They were already here and caught me up on the action. The blinds started at $4K/$8K and antes were $1K.

2:01pm... Ted Forrest was the first player knocked out by Chau Giang. Ted had AQ and Chau showed AK. Ted Forrest won $21,500 for 7th place. And Jason from Full Tilt joked with me about Chau Giang's infamous quote from last year's WSOP while he rubbed his nipples and admitted, "I love poker." He supposedly plays 85 hours a week!

2:20pm... Scott Fischman's pocket Kings ran into Blair Rodman's A-A. Fischman won $27,100 for 6th place.

2:25pm... Bouncin Round the Room: Tanya stopped by to say hello. She's headed for an Alaskan cruise. The media area is not as nice as the Rio, but the food is much better. Yesterday they had turkey wraps with fresh mozzarella. Today they have fruit and freshly baked cookies. I'm drinking some OJ right now.

2:30pm... Levels are now 90 minutes long. The blinds are $6K and $12K. Antes are $2K. Sentil Kumar was the next player busted in 5th place. He won $32,500. Sentil's A-9 lost to Blair Rodman's A-Q.

2:35pm.... Players took a quick break. I chatted with Andy Bloch who's the chipleader. I asked him about the structure, which he liked a lot. "Seven-handed is great. I prefer short-handed events. You get to play more hands and the action is faster. More tournaments should be short-handed."

2:40pm... Bouncin Round the Room: The stage is set up only a few feet away from the cashier cage and the poker room here at the Plaza. I'm sitting at the table where I made the final table of a NL Plaza tourney with Maudie, Mrs. Blood, and Bad Blood. The stands for spectators is just a few feet from the craps table where I shot with Obie, Halverson, and the Fat Guy two months ago. Speaking of craps....
Last 5 Poker Pros I Saw Shooting Craps...
1. Phil Ivey
2. Gavin Smith
3. The Grinder
4. John Juanda
5. Erick Lindgren
3:25pm... A few minutes after Cyndy Violette arrived to sweat her guy friend Mike Wattel, he was eliminated by Andy Bloch. On a flop of 7s-6s-6c, Wattel check raised Andy Bloch. Andy thought for a second and moved all in. Wattel called. Andy had A-7 and Mike had As-8s and the nut flush draw. Wattel picked up a straight draw on the turn but the river was a blank. Mike Wattel was busted in 4th place taking home $44,300. Tree players remain and Andy Bloch has a commanding chip lead with over $1.1M. Chau is second with $307K and Blair Rodman has $205K.

3:30pm... I talked to William Rockwell for a few minutes. He's the guy who lost the use of his arms in a motorcycle accident and he became a world class putter in golf. He's now focusing on poker. He's an inspiring person to talk to and we're gonna do a future interview with him on Las Vegas and Poker Blog.

3:40pm... Chau Giang and his pocket Kings doubled up against Blair Rodman's A-8.

3:51pm... We're on Level 17. Antes are $2K. Blinds are $8K and $16K. I'm sitting in makeshift press row. Steve Hall is here now. Anyway, the producers came over and asked Jen from Poker Wire to sit in the audience since because Andy Bloch is her fiance and they want to show a few shots of her there. Yeah, I'm secrectly rooting for Andy... he's really a great guy and I got to know him during the WSOP.

4:04pm... Andy Bloch just knocked out Chau Giang. Shortstacked, Chau moved all inw ith K-J and Andy flipped over A-J. Chau wins $54,600 for 3rd place. Andy has $1.4M in chips to Blair Rodman's $206K.

4:20pm... I'm jonesin for a smoke break!

4:28pm... Andy Bloch just won the UPC Main Event! His J-4 was better than Blair Rodman's 9-4. Rodman wins $100,750. Andy won $167,500.

4:30pm... Here are some of the photos that Flipchip took today! You can click on them to enlarge.

Cyndy on the rail

My view from press row

Blair in his Kill Phil hat

Behind the scenes at the Plaza

Jen and Andy at the bracelet presentation

The Winner's bracelet

Go visit Las Vegas and Poker Blog to read my recap of today's events and to see some more of Flipchip's photos.
Ultimate Poker Challenge Day 2 Recap

Flipchip and I hung out at the Plaza today. Head over to Las Vegas and Poker Blog to read my Ultimate Poker Challenge Day 2 Recap. Of course, Flipchip posted some photos of the event. There were 55 players for the $10K buy in UPC tournament. Here's the payout structure:
1st = $167,500
2nd = $100,750
3rd = $54,600
4th = $44,300
5th = $32,500
6th = $27,100
7th = $21,500
8th = $18,300
9th = $15,200
10th and 11th = $13,500
12th - 14th = $11,000
The final table starts at 2pm on Wednesday. I'll do some random live blogging here on my poker blog. Stay tuned. Here's the chip counts:
1. Mike Wattel $351K
2. Senthil Kumar $331K
3. Andy Bloch $305K
4. Chau Giang $234K
5. Blair Rodman $169K
6. Scott Fischman $139K
7. Ted Forrest $124K
The players listed above will come back to play fora $167,500 first place prize and the infamous gold bracelet. On Tuesday, I spotted Heather and Jen from Poker Wire, along with Jason from Full Tilt. They were covering the event along with Steve Hall. Good to see friendly and familair faces. Last week I got to see BJ and Sherry. By the way, I miss getting groped Amy Calistri!

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By the way you should be reading... The Poker Penguin and Riding the F Train.

And you should be listening to.... Card Club on Lord Admiral Radio.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Kicked in the Junk by the Hiltons and Kiss My Grits
"My debauchery I undertook solitarily, by night, covertly, fearfully, filthily, with a shame that would not abandon me... I was then already bearing the underground in my soul." - Dostoevsky
I was in the middle of a strange dream, but I didn't know it at the time. It seemed like a normal Friday night. I was attending a cocktail party with everyone's favorite malcontent elevator button heiress at the Yale Club in NYC. I just finished a quick discussion with Daniel Negreanu before I began a conversation with John Edwards. That's when I heard my cellphone ring. I pulled it out of my pocket and answered it, yet it still kept ringing. I closed then opened it again. And the fucker still continued to ring. That's when something triggered that told me, "You're in a middle of a dream, dipshit."

I woke up and saw that my cellphone was ringing just a few feet from my head. It was a good friend of mine calling from a different time zone. She (name witheld by her request) apologized for waking me up. It was 2pm in the afternoon and I should have been up hours before working on various projects. Still half asleep, I enjoyed her euphonious voice and that always puts me in a better mood. Of course we spoke for a long time and afterwards I fell back asleep, only to wake up at 4:20pm. I missed almost all of my Monday. Yeah, I'm still recovering from the long hours at the WSOP.

Jacks Are Good

When I finally fired up the laptop, I decided to play a little online poker with Joanne. She signed up for a MTT on Party Poker and I decided to join her. We haven't played together in months it seems. Party Poker capped out the MTT with 2000 players. I had been running well playing No Limit tournaments. Last week, I made the money and came in 13th during a Full Tilt MTT. On Saturday, I took 3rd at Sam's Town. And on Monday I grinded my way to a 137th place out of 2000. I made the money, but it was nothing to sneeze at. In a random surreal moment, Wil called me about halfway to chat about Barge.

The big story of the tournament was gleefully seeing J-J hold up for me three times in huge situations. I doubled up early on against A-K. I also tripled up when I made a great read on two players who pushed all in with an ace on the flop. The had nothing... K-Q and 9-9. Joanne lost a pot early but hung on. She doubled up when she had to, but just missed the money by a few places when her A-Q lost to J-10.

Quick thanks to my brother who sweated us all of the way. He wondered what I was doing playing at the Pot Limit Omaha tables over the weekend. That was the only time I played on Party Poker this month. Man, I miss the fishy waters at Party Poker and I'm gonna play a few hours of PLO every week now as part of my online poker diet.

Bring Your "Cup" to Las Vegas

The sun went down and it was time for me to stop playing online poker and head over to the Strip to play live poker. I decided to step up to the $10/$20 tables at the Mirage per the advice of Grubby. And I was swiftly greeted with a callow kick in the junk. Hell, make that three of them. My balls became a community punching bag. It all started when I almost lost $150 on the first hand I played... the infamous Hilton Sisters.

Yes, it was ugly. My testicles are swollen and I have been scarred for life. Inside of 2 hours, I had Q-Q cracked three times. I know that I want donkeys cold calling my preflop raises with junk. But it was not fun losing to A-3 on the river, J-10 on the turn, and J-9 on the river.

So much for me moving up in limits to play against better players, eh?

Seat 6: One guy to my right looked like Kris Kristopherson and his face looked resembled an old catcher's mitt. He had been smoking Marlboro Reds since he was three years old and he got up every fifteen minutes to smoke. He protected his cards horribly when he peeked at them. I could not help but notice his hand several times. I took the moral high road and when I saw him on the rail enjoying a smoke break, I told him that he should fix that problem. He thanked me by offering me a smoke. He caught two pair against me with J-10o and cracked my Hiltons. I should have peeked at his hand.

Seat 8: The guy to my left was the "Mumbling Russian." He smelled like cat piss and he never once stacked up his chips. Our end of the table was a mess. He would never say raise and instead he'd mumble the number he wanted to bet. "Forty," he'd say but even the dealer and all of the other players couldn't hear him. Every time a new dealer came to the table, they refused to accept his gibberish as a raise. He'd snap and an ugly incident ensued with the guy cursing out the dealer for having bad hearing. He also saw every flop. I kept asking myself, "How a guy who looks like he bought his wardrobe off the rack at Salvation Army can afford to play in a $10/$20 game at the Mirage?" He cracked my Hiltons with A-3 and called my bet on the flop with bottom pair. He rivered an ace.

Seat 9: There was a crazy Asian guy sitting next to the Mumbling Russian. He hated the Russian and straddled his blind every time. The crazy Asian was seeing flops with any two sooted cards. He even dropped the Hammer! He raised on the button and got two callers. The flop: 7-3-2. He bet out and everyone folded. He showed the Hammer! But he didn't know that's what we called it. He cracked my Hiltons with J-9 after I flopped a set and he caught two runners for a straight.

I dunno how I managed to survive the Mirage only down $170. I lost at least $400 maybe more by my pocket Queens getting cracked three times. I guess I must have won some decent sized pots to cushion those beats. With 2-2 I flopped a set and with Qd-10d I hit a flush on the turn. I also flopped trips with 5d-4d from the big blind and rivered a full house to beat a guy in a Jets hat who also flopped trips with K-4o.

Anyway, I shuffled out of the poker room with three large kicks in the junk. Those are the type of bad beats reserved for online poker, not at the Mirage casino. I guess my good un at the tables is finally over. On the way home, my cabbie looked like the actress who played Vera the waitress from Mel's Diner on Alice. I always wondered if Vera was a dyke and she had a huge crush on Alice?

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I'm heading down to the Plaza with Flipchip to cover the Ultimate Poker Challenge... the $10K diamond bracelet main event. Stay tuned.

****** ******

You should be reading Derek's Poker in the Weeds and Linda's Table Tango.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Lazy Sunday

I woke up late and missed Wil Wheaton play a heads up match against Noah "Exclusive" Boeken on Poker Stars. It seems that Wil won! Good job. CJ has a good write up of the game including some idiotic banter in the chat window.

When I finally got my ass in gear, I walked over to the Strip. Late night Saturday it rained and when I awoke, some showers still lingered. It was the coolest it had been in months it seemed and I took advantage of the opportunity to get some well needed exercise. I headed over to Mandalay Bay's sports book because I wanted to watch the Yankees-Angles game. Also on was the Red sox-white Sox match up. former Yankee Jose Contrares took the mound for the White Sox, who eventually hung on to beat Boston. The Yankees got a decent start from Mike Mussina, who gave up only one run - a lead off walk in the first inning that came around to score after a stolen base, a fielder's choice, then a ground out. Jarod Washburn was pitching a one hitter until Hideki Matsui took him deep for a two run blast. The Yanks held on to win.

During the second half of the game, I played some NL while I watched baseball. the last time I played at Mandala Bay was several months ago with Senor and Grubby minutes after I fell in love with a stripper named Jessina from Sin.

I didn't play too many hands during my session and my pocket aces held up to a guy who called two huge bets of mine with 10-8o. He flopped a 10 and rivered an 8 for two pair. Luckily there were two 2's on the board and my "aces up" won me the pot. I walked away up a few bucks... enough to pay for my laundry, both Sunday meals, a movie, cab fare, and drinks.

Grubby and I had the dinner special at Ellis Island. He got the prime rib and I chose the chicken parm. Afterwards, we headed for the IMAX theatre at Palms to see Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I dug it, especially because I was pretty wasted for the first 30 minutes of the flick.

We headed over to Hard Rock to gawk at the hotties. Then, I eventually met up with my friend Julie at the venetian. She's in town from NYC for a few days on business. I knocked back a few cocktails at the bar near the sports book with her while I lost $2 playing video poker.

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You should be reading.... Mean Gene and Up for Poker courtesy of CJ, Otis, and G-Rob.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Sam's Town Saturday: Pauly & Flipchip at the Final Table

Flipchip and I played in the Saturday NL tournament at Sam's Town. Guess what? We both made the final table and cashed. I took 3rd place ($600) while Flipchip came in 2nd place ($830). First place paid $1620 and top 5 places paid out. Flipchip even said that we'd both make the final table. Pretty cool, huh? The only other time I played at Sam's Town was for the first ever live WPBT event... the Holiday Classic last December. I made the final table but bubbled out, despite being the chipleader. This time, I made sure that I was going to cash.

48 players, mostly locals, bought in for the 7pm NL event with unlimited $20 rebuys in the first hour. For $48 you start with $2500 in chips. You can do a rebuy right away which I took advantage of. I also purchased the "double add-on" after the end of the rebuy period. In all, I spent $88 on the event and netted a $512 profit. One guy at my table dug into his pockets for almost $200 in rebuys.

7:51pm... Levels were 20 minutes long. Blinds started at $100/$100. I didn't play any hands to start. Near the end of the third level I found AA and raised 4x the BB. I got one caller. I flopped an ace, bet the pot and he came over the top of me all in. I quickly called. He flopped two pair and I had the set of aces. I doubled up. My stack was around $8K.

8:01pm... I found pocket Kings on the cut off and picked up another $1K. By the end of the rebuy period, I had $9K and purchased the $4K double add-on for $20. I then had $13K in chips. Flipchip had about the same.

8:35pm... Once I got back from the break, I won a few pots with AQs, 99, and AK. I flopped a set of nines and that was a big hand for me against the table chip leader. My stack grew to over $24K. All of a sudden, I was the table chip leader.

9:20pm... We colored up the $100 chips and action was consolidated to three tables. The short stack moved all in from UTG. I pushed all in to isolate. A new guy, who was just moved to our table with a bigger stack than mine, quickly called. I knew I was in trouble. I only had Ac-10c. The short stack had K-9 and the new guy flipped over A-K. We both flopped an ace, but I turned a ten to hit my three outer. I knocked out the short stack and doubled up in the process.

9:22pm... On the very next hand, with no one in the pot, I raised in LP with Ah-8h. One of the other short stacks moved all in from the blinds. It was only $400 more for me to call, so I did. He showed A-K. I promptly rivered him when an 8 spiked. Another three outer. It was one of those nights. In fact, I caught consecutive three outers and cracked Big Slick... both times. I moved into the overall chiplead with $60K. In my notes, I scribbled down, "You are a lucky fucker."

9:20pm... With 19 players remaining and two tables left, Flipchip was moved to my table. Once it got down to 6 players at our table (12 overall), I went into hyper-aggressive mode. I pushed around my big stack and bullied everyone. I did my best Stu Ungar impression. If someone raised, I reraised. If someone reraised me, I moved all in. I ran over my table and built up my stack to $95K by the break.

10:10pm... We redrew seat for the final table. I was second in chips. Flipchip was seat to my left in seat 10. The tournament director decided to chop some of the prize money and pay places 6-10 $100 each, instead of paying just the top 5. Most of it came out of the first and second place prize money. Two players went out quickly as I was starting to get blinded off. The blinds were $8K and $16K.

10:20pm... Action was down to 5. Flipchip had more chips than me and I slipped to 4th.

10:30pm... Blinds were $10K/$20K with 4 players remaining. A drunk Canuck in the big blind was being an idiot the entire tournament. He was clapping and cheering loudly every time he won a hand. He got lucky a bunch of times and was too busy self-celebrating to shake the hands of people he badbeated. He's the type of guy who wore sunglasses. In fact, he was the only guy in the field who wore shades. Anyway, a lot of folks who got knocked out wanted me to bust the drunk Canuck. I made a move on him when I moved all in on the button with... the Hammer! He paused in dramatic fashion for nearly four minutes before he mucked. He did the "let me count out my chips a few times" move before he folded. I wanted to show the bluff, but just handed over my cards to the dealer once he pushed me the pot. I whispered to Flip Chip... "I had the Hammer there."

10:40pm... It was three way when a kid knocked out the drunk Canuck. He raised my small blind and I put him on a steal. I moved all in for a re-steal and expected him to fold. I had 7-3o. He eventually called with Jack high and I knew I was done. My hand didn't improve and I took 3rd place. I actually had twice as many chips as Flipchip when I was busted. He was knocked out on the next hand and took second.

To celebrate, we picked up the Poker Prof and headed over to Carnegie Deli at the Mirage for a late night victory meal. Flipchip picked up the tab. I didn't get to see Dick Gatewood, the poker room manager of Sam's Town. He wasn't working. Sadly, his wife is experiencing some health issues so please send them your best wishes and thoughts.

Since Monday, I've been on a roll after a couple of positive sessions at the Bellagio and making the money at Sam's Town. Flipchip reminded me that I made the final table and technically cashed in my last tournament... the WSOP Media/Charity event where I took 6th, cracked Shannon Elizabeth's pocket aces, and won $250 for Charlie Tuttle's foundation. Looks like I'm on a mini-rush. I'm definitely going to play somewhere Sunday faternoon, perhaps the Bellagio or the Mirage.

****** ******

You should be reading.... Hdouble's The Cards Speak and Mr. Decker.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Writing, Bonus Whoring, and Video Poker

Despite the brutal heat, I woke up early on Friday and headed over to Wild Wild West for their $1.49 breakfast special. I ordered the French Toast with bacon. Add an iced tea and hashbrowns, and the entire bill was $4.77. I wandered back to the Redneck Riviera and wrote the entire afternoon. I have three new freelance assignments to work on and I took on another personal creative project (that hopefully I can share with you soon). Since I moved to Las Vegas, I hadn't had chunks of time to write for myself. Since the WSOP and the Bellagio event are both complete, I have unfettered writing time. That soothes the soul.

I also played a little online poker yesterday. I had a tough session on Full Tilt. I also took advantage of the reload bonus on Poker Stars. Yeah, I'm back to bonus whoring. If you don't know, Poker Stars is offering a 20% reload bonus up to $120. You need to deposit $600 to get the max bonus. You have until July 28th at 11:59 pm ET to take advantage of the Poker Stars reload bonus. To clear it, you need to earn 5 FPP's for each $1 in bonus money. The best part.... the Poker Stars Bonus never expires and you can work it off while clearing other bonuses.

I had a victory dinner with the Poker Prof, Flipchip, and a family friend at Palm. That's one of my favorite places to eat in Las Vegas. I've been to the original Palm on Second Avenue in New York City. I ordered the filet mignon and ordered it "medium" this time. I also feasted on a heaping dish of mashed potatoes. We all split a huge size of chocolate cake for dessert.

I went back home and wrote some more before Grubette called! She was at the Wynn and was stalking Daniel Negreanu who was playing Three Card Poker with a couple of cute Asian girls. I told them that I'd meet up at MGM. I called a cab and of course it never showed. After 30 minutes, I called back and they said I had to wait twenty more minutes. Calling for a Las Vegas cab is a pain in the ass. They are unreliable and that's one of my least favorite things about this town. I never have a problem if I'm at a taxi stand at a casino, but even the line at the airport is a bitch and a half.

Anyway, since the heat subsided a bit and it was only 99 degrees instead of 113, I chose to walk to the Strip. I bought a bottle of water and headed towards the bright lights. It's 20 minutes door to door from the Redneck Riviera over the freeway to the Excalibur and another 10 minutes to navigate the pedestrian bridges from Excalibur to NY, NY to the MGM. I made it in 30 minutes and wasn't sweating as much as I anticipated. I found Grubette, Grubby, and their friends at the food court. Since Grubette was tired after a stellar meal at Nathan's, she crashed and that left Grubby and I mulling around a decision. It was 2am and we stood in the middle of a row of slot machines. We've had this discussion many times before... poker or strip clubs? And after a lengthy debate, we'd usually end up at a strip club. However, Grubette promised that we'd go on Saturday so we decided against it. The wait for a seat in the poker room was too long so we headed to the Centrifuge bar next door.

I played a little video poker and made a huge run. After getting cold-decked, I was down to my last $0.25 and built it up to $3 before I hit quad 10s on a "max bet." I ran it back up to $15 and cashed out. I was only down $5 and got several free drinks. The Centrifuge is a circular bar and every half hour the scantly clad waitresses and the female bartenders dressed in tigth black pants, get up on the bar and dance. We told one of the bartenders that we were locals and she befriended us right away. She even gave me a drink after "Last Call" while her and Grubby chatted about traffic issues. She was from Argentina and I'd love to eat whipped cream off of her stomach.

****** ******

You should be reading... Jeremy's Love and Casino War and BG's Random Thoughts and Thoroughbred Selections.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Bellagio Bad Beats, Profitable Pai Gow, Meeting Grubette, and the Avril LaVigne's Cocktail

Despite the ridiculous heat wave, I did my best to stay cool and stay indoors. You know it's hot when Las Vegas locals are commenting (er, bitching) on the heat. It's frightening to still see tourists walking around outside during mid day. We've survived ten straight days of 110+ degree tempatures. At some point, it's been so blistering hot that you gotta think the pot-bellied inbred kids at the Redneck Riviera are eventaully going to boil to death in the E. coli infested pool.

My Thursday started off with an early morning writing session, followed by a quick trip to Wendy's next door. I'm addicted to the chicken strips and Wendy's special spicy Southwest chipolte sauce. I've been asking for two, so I can dip my fries in there. Flipchip and I headed over to the Bellagio to cover the last bit of the Challenge Cup. That was done in 30 minutes and I farted around for another 30 talking to runner-up Quinn Do. I chatted with Steve Hall for a bit before I sat down at a $8/%16 table. I've never played that limit at the Bellagio before and was intrigued to see what type of players I'd find.
My $8/16 table:
Seat 1: Foxwoods player
Seat 2: Hockey player's girlfriend
Seat 3: Angry Dragon Lady
Seat 4: Your Hero
Seat 5: Drunk Guy 1
Seat 6: Hockey player from Colorado
Seat 7: Drunk Guy 2
Seat 8: Grandma
Seat 9: Tourist 1
Seat 10: Tourist 2
I was seated to a middle-aged Asian women with a jade Buddha around her neck. She was in a pissy mood before I even sat down. She would rapidly toss her cards back at the dealer and slam her chips down in frustration when she had to muck. She also had a furball caught in her throat because she kept gagging. By the constant heavy noise, I thought she was going to cough up a loogey the size of a kitten and have it splash all over my chips.

The two drunk guys were friends and they flew in from Minnesota. They were knocking back "Redheaded Sluts" and by the end of the session, one guy was obliterated, he couldn't even stack up his chips. I asked them if they knew Professional Poker Player Chris Halverson. They glared back at me with an angry stare, like if I was caught gash lashing their girlfriend.

The Grandma in seat 8 was from the South and she'd see anything to the river. She called me down several times after flopping bottom pair and beating me when she paired up her other card. I have to give her some credit because everytme one of the drunk guys bet, she'd raise them. She was bullying them around.

The hockey player was stiffer than dry wall. He wasn't worthy mentioning aside from the fact he had a hot girlfriend who sat at my end of the table. She had gi-normous breasts and I was tempted to try to toss a blue $1 Bellagio chip into her cleavage. She tipped the dealer very well and said that she too worked for tips. I'm guessing that her specialty was lap dances.

The guy from Foxwoods was a Boston resident with a "wick-id" accent. He'd leave the table for twenty minutes at a time and return with a $1000 chip. He must have won at least four or five grand playing blackjack during his session at my table. He also bled away almost $2K while I sat there and he even mentioned that his blackjack wins were not even close to covering his poker losses. When you play A-3o in a four way capped pot preflop, those things are gonna happen.

So you wanna hear about a couple of bad beats? How about flopping a set with the Hilton Sisters and losing to a runner-runner flush? Ah, or both times my pocket aces were cracked by river flushes! I'm shocked that I walked away only down $2 after losing a ton of chips in those three pots. I won two monster pots when I got lucky on the river myself. I caught full house twice after betting into a flopped flush to the hockey player and another flush that hit on the turn by Grandma. I caught a runner-runner boat too with the Hiltons and that's what made the difference.

After five plus hours at the table, I was content with how I played in the $8/$16 game. It was really fishy and the two drunk guys gave it an interesting dynamic. I was pumped to walk away only down $2. If you count all the dealer tokes, I was up a few dollars. After playing for three straight days at the Bellagio, I must say I kinda dug it, especially getting to see everyone's favorite Bellagio dealer, Linda every time.

Before I went back to the Redneck Riviera, I stopped off at Wild Wild West to eat their $9.99 dinner special. Grubby, the Gourmand of Poker Bloggers, suggested I try it out. You get a drink, soup or salad, an entree, and chocolate cake or apple pie for $9.99. It's a great deal. I chose the Chicken Parmesan with the salad. I was full, so I ordered the cake to go. The service was horrible, but that's par for the course at WWW. I went home to write and realized that a rerun of The OC was on. I never watch TV and I dunno why I turned it on.

Grubby called to tell me that his sister, the lovely Grubette, was in town for the weekend with her LA posse. I quickly finished up some of my work and headed over to the MGM. I arrived early and wandered over to the poker room looking to sit at the juicy $6/$12 tables. I sat in that game with Otis a few weeks ago. I had been itching to play there but was bummed out when they said the highest limi they spread that instance was $4/$8 or $2/5 NL. I told them to start an interest list and signed up for $4/8, $2/5 NL and $1/2 NL.

There was an open spot for $1/2 NL and I grabbed it. I played with a few locals (including two dealers from other casinos). I won one big pot early and then I bluffed off some of my chips on a steal with 5c-6c against one of the locals whom I've played with before at both the MGM and Excalibur. I hit nothing at all on the flop, but had position in a five way pot. I bet the pot on the flop and got one caller. By the turn I caught a flush draw and and open ended straight draw. He check raised me and I had to call. He moved all in "in the dark" and I missed both draws so I folded. It was only a $50 hit to my stack. Grubby came by right after that hand and said his sister, Grubette, was playing Pai Gow with her friends.

Grubette is a funny writer. Here's her most recent post on Grubby's blog:
The other caller hesitated, took off his glasses and stared at me. I stared back at him, saying, "I have a flush."

He said, "I know you do but how big?"

3s stood up out of his chair and started berating the dealer for allowing us to talk about our hand. I turned to 3s and said, "I have a flush" you asshole.

Flush guy folded and I said to 3s, "I had it on the turn" you asshole and turned up my nut flush.

3s threw his clubless hole cards up (one was an Ace) and started ranting, "You'll let me call the $8 but not him??!"

I repeated, "I had it on the turn" shit-for-brains calling with a pair of Aces and no clubs with four clubs on the board.

I nearly threw his $8 back at him. But decided to take more of his money. Except he got up, for the 10th time and went to the bathroom. He kept missing his blinds and annoying the crap out of the players and dealers, so I asked for a table change. I've discovered that it's good to table change when you're winning because eventually the table does get cold. I don't mind playing with dicks like that though.. the more hot they are, the more poorly they play.
I cashed out and headed over to the tables. We resisted the temptation to throw some dice and made a beeline for the Pai Gow area. I finally met Grubette! Al Cant Hang had so many nice things to say about her and he was right. I eventually sat down next to her at a $25 Pai Gow table. The first dealer's name was Amy and she cold decked everyone. She even caught quads, but had to split them and still won anyway. When she was pushed by a dealer from Hong Kong named Tiffany, the table went on a rush. I won enough money to cover the day's poker losses and pay for cab fare. I caught some great hands including a few straights and flushes. Everyone at the table was friends with Grubette, so it was a fun table for sure. As soon as Amy returned from her break, I cashed out.

I knocked back a SoCo while I chatted with Grubette. She's a regular reader of my poker blog and I teased her that she needs to do more guests posts on her brother's blog. She was trying to get me to play in the 11am NL tournament at the MGM, but I'd have to get up by 9:30am to register. That ain't happening.

Alas, it was cool to meet the infamous Grubette. And for the record, I didn't hit on her. After all, Grubby was standing next to me the entire time! But Grubette is fuckin' awesome. She downed several Coors Lights, chain smoked, and gambled the entire time we hung out. Plus she busted on Grubby for drinking Strawberry Daiquiris and "Avril LaVinge" type drinks with whipped cream. I'm still trying to figure what that meant, but it's still funny.

****** ******

You should be reading... Chris Halverson and Dan's Pokerati.

P.S. Feel better soon Felicia!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Bellagio Challenge Cup Final Table Part 2: Amnon Filippi Wins!

Despite the intense heat wave in Las Vegas (10 straight days above 110 degrees including tying the record all time high a few days ago), Flipchip and I headed back to the Bellagio poker room to cover the second part of the final table for the Bellagio Challenge Cup. 97 players bought in on Monday for $10K and the event featured some of the best players in the world including T.J. Cloutier, Erik Seidel, Scotty Nguyen, Allen Cunningham, Cyndy Violette, and John Juanda.

We wandered over to catch part two of the final table... a heads up battle between 2005 WSOP bracelet winner Quinn Do and Amnon Filippi. Both players agreed to chop the prize money ($364,200 for first and $228,850 for second) and they played for the cool and hip Challenge Cup including the $25K seat at the WPT Championships, which will be held next year at the Bellagio.

Amnon Filippi started the day the chipleader with a little over $1.1M. Quinn Do had about $775K. Their heads up match was quicker than expected. It lasted about a half hour. Quinn Do raised preflop and Filippi called. Quinn got all his money in on the turn with A-K. The board was 8-3-3-J. Amnon had 5c-3c and flopped trips. He smooth called Quinn's bet and went over the top on the turn. Since Quinn was pot committed, he moved all in for the rest of his chips. Amnon Filippi took down the pot and won the Challenge Cup. When he took pictures, they dumped some of the chips int the actual cup. Too bad they didn't fill it with champagne. Scott Fischman, Paul Darden and his wife were all on the rail watching the completion of the event.

I spoke to Quinn Do afterwards and he seemed pretty down about second place. He's going to return to Seattle with a WSOP bracelet but he really wanted to win this event, especially because some of the best players in the world were in the tournament.

"It's a mind game," he explained to me about the intricacies of heads up play.

When I asked him how he thought Tobey Maguire played in the Challenge Cup, he responded, "I've played in tournaments against him in L.A. and he's a very solid player. He needs to be more aggressive. But he is solid."

Of course, the most impressive sight was BJ plugging away for Card Player covering the event. While I slowed down, he's still running strong. Also, Steve "Foiled Coup" Hall made another token appearance at the Bellagio.

Bouncin Round the Room: I spoke for a while with Charlie Shoten. He won the $500 daily tournament yesterday and was playing again. He's a really great guy and it's been cool to get to know him a lot better since I moved to Las Vegas. If you get a chance, you should pick up a copy of Charlie's Book... No Limit Life. Flipchip took most of the pictures and even yours truly made it in there!

I also saw Daniel Negreanu yapping with Johnny World Hennigan out front of the poker room, while the ever lively Bob Stupak shuffled by. Unfortunately, there were no Liz Lieu or Carmel sightings while I was there. Yeah I stuck around and played $8/16 for 5+ hours. Stay tuned for that recap.

****** ******

You should be reading... Iggy's blog Guinness and Poker.
Back to the Bellagio, Grubby, Strippers, and Other Random Stuff

I'm heading back to the Bellagio at Noon to cover the last bit of the final table of the Bellagio Cup Challenge. You can read my recap of yesterday's events over at Las Vegas and Poker Blog.

I expect to play poker with tourists for my third day in a row at the Bellagio. Wheeee!

Grubby posted a hilarious recap of our trip to the strip club last Saturday. It's in the second half of his post called Stripping the Night Away on My Last $100. As always it shows that he's one of my favorite writers. Here's a bit:
I'm selective with my strippers. Particularly with $100.

Pauly, however, sampled everyone who approached him (including a pair with matching tanlines that Pauly said, "Best $80 I spent in my life"). After one finished, he said, "You are a true artist. But you knew that."

His name was Steve that night, mine was Dave. My occupation was going to be a professional log roller from Milwaukee, but none of the strippers had asked.

One introduced herself as Soria. "Like the disease?" I said, repeating myself like a hack strip club regular that needs new material (I don't have Pauly's strip club patter down). I turned Soria down after envisioning some crusty substance growing on my toes. When picking a stripper name, it shouldn't recall anything in a medical textbook next to an illustrated picture.

Then I saw a vision in a red evening gown. Like in real life, the girls you're attracted to tend to walk right past you. As she passed by, I all but Christian Slatered her to get her to come over.

She had a girl-next-door/Avril Lavigne look that must be my type. And combined with a personality (okay, any personality), she was easily my favorite. She said she was from Kansas City, lived in San Diego, and her name was May. "May I have this dance?" I said, and after hanging out for a song, she got right into it at the start of the next.

The red dress didn't do her justice. "Does the dress come off?" (told ya -- no patter), and out of the dress, May was very becoming. A large tattoo was splashed on her stomach and an unnerving one on her back had two eyes that looked like they were watching me. Like the Mona Lisa. A cartoon cat was stitched on her panties: "It's my pussy." ...More
Yeah, I'm still working on my take of the nights events. Stay tuned. For the record, I told everyone that Grubby and I were old med school buddies. That's my "line" in strip clubs.


You should be reading.... Aunt Maudie's Poker Perspectives.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Bellagio Challenge Cup Final Table

Back to the Bellagio, home of the aromatic flowers in the Conservatory and the gawking tourists snapping photos of the dancing fountains out front. The Bellagio is notorious for it's late night hookers and the scrumcious eye candy that wanders through. On a hot summer day like today, the combination of braless ladies and air conditioning means plenty of perky nipple watching.

I am not live blogging this event today. The Bellagio doesn't offer power outlets for me to plug in at their poker room. Plus there is no Wi/Fi access and the poker room gets crappy cell phone signals, so the air card doesn't work half the time in there. Alas, I ran home to write up this entry and then I'll head back to the Bellagio to watch it all until the end. If you are desperate to know how everyone is doing, BJ from Card Player is doing some semi-live blogging. I suspect he's only there because his boss made the final table!

Good news... Flipchip got the OK to take photos. The suits busted his balls and made him fax in his request. But he snapped a few and as soon as he uploads them, I'll point you in that direction and throw a few up on here.

I ate lunch at the snack bar near the poker room. I ordered the chili and it was better than the Rio's version, but not as spicy as I wanted it to be. I'm sure The Fat Guy could whip up a batch of kick ass Tejas Chili. Some of the best chili I ever had was made in Texas.

Moving on...

Here are the payouts for this $10K buy in, 97 player event:
Bellagio Challenge Cup Payouts:
1st $364,200 plus a $25K seat at the WPT Championships in 2006
2nd $228,850
3rd $119,000
4th $64,075
5th $59,345
6th $41,195
7th $32,040
8th $22,885
9th $18,310
Here 's who made the final table (including chipcounts from BJ):
Seat 1: Fuat Can (Linkoping, Sweden) $47,900
Seat 2: Tobey Maguire (Los Angeles, CA) $68,500
Seat 3: Jeff Shulman (Las Vegas, NV) $190,300
Seat 4: Quinn Do (Seattle, WA) $494,000
Seat 5: Scotty Nguyen (Henderson, NV) $377,000
Seat 6: Annon Filippi (New York, NY) $362,100
Seat 7: Chad Layne (Las Vegas, NV) $40,800
Seat 8: Sam Grizzle (Las Vegas, NV) $214,200
Seat 9: Mimi Tran (Los Angeles, CA) $146,900
The Skinny on The Cup: The day started off with $1500/$3000 blinds and a $400 antes. Chad Layne was busted in 9th place by Amnon Filippi's pocket eights. I saw Sam Grizzle crack Amnon's pocket aces when he rivered two pair on him. I also watched Tobey Maguire show a little emotion and even a smile when he moved all in with the short stack and tripled up. His A-Q beat out Scotty Nguyen's pocket tens and Mimi Tran who mucked her hand.

Eventually Tobey was busted when his pocket aces were cracked by Fuat Can's pocket tens. He caught a runner-runner straight to send Tobey home in 8th place. He played well against some of the top names in poker. Tobey was wearing his usual get up... a plain white t-shirt and a plain olive green hat.

Scotty Nguyen lost a big hand to Amnon, only to be finished off by him a few hands later. Scotty's AJs did not beat out Amnon's pocket queens and he went home in 7th place. Amnon Filippi must like the Hilton Sisters. They held up against Sam Grizzle's A-J and Grizzle was eliminated in 6th place.

Bouncin Round the Room: During one of the breaks, I spotted Scotty Nguyen taking pictures with tourists. I have never seen him once turn down an autograph or picture request. I must say that he treats cordial fans with the utmost respect. Scotty always wears some serious "bling" and his most recent item is a huge gold chain with a Ultimate Bet logo. Hilarious, right?

I spotted Paul Darden on the rail watching the action. I also saw the Shawn The Sheik, the guy who made the female dealer at the WSOP main event TV table cry. He also won $25K off of Sammy Farha making prop bets during the WSOP... picking high cards and doing coin flips. The Sheik was nice to me and shook my hand as he said hello. I also chatted with Charlie Shoten for a while. He was playing in the afternoon tournament and was on a break. We're gonna do a review on his book very shortly. Stay tuned for that. I almost played in that tournament too! Rest assured, I'll slack off later today and play some cash games at the Bellagio.

Late Night Update: Mimi Tran was busted in 5th place when her A-3 ran into Fuat Can's K7s. She led all the way until the river, when Can picked up two pair. Jeff "Happy" Shulman finished in 4th place when his QJs were no match to Amnon Filippi's pocket Kings.

The final three players, Fuat Can, Quinn Do, and Amnon Filippi played three-way for over two hours before someone was busted. Fuat Can was the short stack and Quinn Do and Filippi both had about the same amount in chips. Unfortunately Fuat Can was the guy who was eliminated in 3rd place when his Q-10 lost to Filippi's K-Q. At that point both players decided to resume play on Thursday. When they left, Quinn Do was behind with $775K. Amnon Filippi had over $1.1M in chips.

More Bouncin Round the Room: I was bored out of my wits so I played some more $4/8 with tourists. I saw Linda playing $15/$30 and wanted to jump into those waters but the cool thing about the low limit is that I can wander off for several minutes at a time, drink cocktails, watch the baseball game, and not have to worry about focusing on the game. I ended the day up $40 when my pocket aces held up in a 6 way pot! One chick was tilting so hard she ran through five hundred inside of an hour.

There was a token Liz Lieu sighting after she stopped by to cheer on her friend Quinn Do. Sherry took a pic of Liz with Steve. Lucky guy, eh?

I also never saw Flipchip so excited after he ran over to tell me that was recognized by a fan of his photography. I've been getting noticed for several weeks and I'm used to it by now, but Flipchip is not as recognizable as me because there aren't any pics of him on the web. Anyway, he was snapping photos of the final table when some guy on the rail asked him who he worked for. Flipchip told him and the guy asked, "Are you Flipchip?" Apparently, he's been reading my poker blog and been checking out Flipchip's 2005 WSOP photo gallery.


A full recap of today's events will be posted over at Las Vegas and Poker Blog. Heads up action will resume on Thursday at Noon.
Getting Ink: Gonzo Poker Bloggers

Mark Glase wrote a great piece on poker bloggers including yours truly. Take a peek at Gonzo poker bloggers bring World Series to life in real time. He wrote it for the Online Journalism Review. Yeah a lot of us got some ink including Iggy, the Poker Prof, Otis, and myself who were all interviewed.

They gave me a ton of free publicity. Here's a bit:
Meanwhile, at the 2005 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, which wrapped up last week, the blogging star was Paul "Dr. Pauly" McGuire, a struggling screenwriter and novelist who became a poker fanatic. He started writing about his poker proclivities on his regular blog, The Tao of Pauly, until it angered his friends who were tired of reading about poker. Thus, the Tao of Poker blog was born, where McGuire gained enough fame to start freelancing for and Poker Player Newspaper. He's also done commentary for the Lord Admiral Card Club weekly podcast.

The Tao of Poker is now McGuire's perfect writing notebook, written as a stream of consciousness about everything he experiences -- from Subway workers he hits on to poker stars he urinates next to.

"The best part of the World Series of Poker was that I was doing a lot of live blogging," McGuire told me. "It was a notebook for all my other articles I wrote. The blog entries were an invaluable source of notes for me. So whatever I wrote in my blog, I could fix it up for short stories, for novel ideas. It's been a good tool, and it gets me out there every day. [Editors] can stop by my blog and see writing samples." ...More
Of course he had to bring up the hippie chick at Subway that I met at dinner break at Binion's. I have her number and I'm going to do the cool guy thing and wait five days to call her.

Anyway, for a good laugh, scroll down to read my "Profile" that they compiled.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Bellagio Challenge Cup Day 2

Working at the Bellagio is a much needed change of pace for my exhausted soul. I was getting sick of the Rio and although Binion's was cool, it's was too damn crowded. The Bellagio on the other hand is a great place to work. The eye candy is blogworthy. And the poker room is next door to the Sports Book so I can keep my eye on the Yankees score.

The tournament was held in the remodeled poker room. 97 players bought in for $10K in the Bellagio Challenge Cup and Sam Grizzle found himself the chip leader at the beginning of Day 2. The first place cash prize of $364,200 and a seat in the WPT Championships at the Bellagio were at stake. Players started with $20K in chips.

In this tournament only the final table players are paid. Scotty Nguyen started Day 2 in third place. Only less than half the field survived Day 1. You can check out some of Flip Chip's photos of Day 1... here.

****** Live Blogging Updates ******

3:15pm... Recent Bustouts: Early on before I arrived, I was disppointed to discover that there were several notable bust outs: T.J. Cloutier, Tim Phan, Bob Stupak, Jean Gaspard, Carl "Bubble Boy Ygborn, Allen Cunningham, and Erik Seidel.

3:45pm... Recent Bustouts: Mike Wattel and Hasan Habib were both knocked out.

4:20pm.... Jeff Shulman sat at top of the chip lead out of 21 remaining players. Tobey Maguire was one of the short stacks. 2005 WSOP bracelet winner "The Mighty" Quinn Do was second in chips.

5:00pm... We're down to 18 players and the final two tables. Quinn Do was the chipleader.

5:15pm... TJ Cloutier was playing in a regular tournament.

5:55pm... I chatted with Ron Rose. He had some heart problems and that prevented him from playing in the WSOP. He joked that his health issues turned him into a cash game player because he's not well enough to play lengthy tournaments.

5:56pm... There was a Carmel Petresco sighting in the poker room. She looked like she had just been shopping.

6:00pm... I slacked off and found BJ covering the event. Eventually Steve Hall stopped by. We were the lone media. Flipchip got in trouble with the poker room manager. He's not authorized to take pictures which is bullshit because he was given the go ahead a month or two ago and was personally invited my tournamet director Jack McCleland. Some suit upstairs cock-blocked him and all other photographers. We suspect since Tobey Maguire is vehemently camera shy, that he demanded no photos be taken at all. Please note that this is just a hypothesis on our part and not a rumor, nor the actual truth. At any rate, the suits and the poker room manager gave me the "OK" to cover the event on the print side for Las Vegas and Poker Blog and Poker Player Newspaper.

6:10pm... I told Flipchip to head on home because he can't take pics so it's pointless to waste his time there. Hopefully he can get a winner's photo for tomorrow.

6:15pm... I ignored Tobey Maguire's table (which had both Fischman and Scotty Nguyen) and focused on "Table 1" because it featured a shitload of bracelet winners including Cyndy Violette, Quinn Do, David Chui, David "The Dragon" Pham, and Sam Grizzle who has no bracelets but made several WSOP final tables. Jeff Shulman was tere too and he was sporting flip flops and listened to music on his iPod.

6:20pm... I chatted with Minh Ly in the sportsbook while I kept my eye on the Yankees score. Minh was visibly pissed at Mike Matusow. "He's not a gentleman," he repeated several times during our conversation. Supposedly, Matusow was talking tons of shit with Minh during the Main Event. On Monday night, Matusow arrived at the Bellagio to cash his $1M WSOP check. Minh was playing $4K/$8K at the time. Matusow talked smack and said he'd play Minh for a $1M heads-up freeze out. Minh took him up on his offer and left to secure the money. When Minh came back 20 minutes later with a sufficient bankroll, Matusow bailed on him. "He's afraid to play me," Minh added. Mike Matusow is good, but Minh Ly would out play him for sure. Minh plays in the "big game" with Doyle and Chip Reese. He's one of the last guys I'd want to play heads up, especially for $1M.

6:30pm... I decided that I would scale back the coverage and play some poker instead. The $2/5 NL game was full, so I was seated right away at a $4/8 table. In the first orbit, the deck hit me in the face. I was dealt AQs, KK, and AA in exactly that order and won three big pots. A few hands later, I won two big pots with Q-J on the cutoff and 8-8 when I flopped a set and rivered a full house. Inside of an hour, I was up 32 big bets. I only played a few hands after that and spent time watching the final two tables.

6:45pm... I found everyone's favorite Bellagio dealer Linda and she gave me a big hug. She told me she had to deal "the big game" which is located in Bobby's Room. Off to the side of the Bellagio poker room is a glass room reserved for Bobby Baldwin and his friends. At first, I only saw Sammy Farha playing Gus Hansen heads up. Gus was scruffy and looked like he hadn't showered or changed his clothes in days. Sammy looked dapper and his trademark unlit cigarette hung off of his bottom lip. Later on all the big boys showed up.... Minh Ly, Chau Giang, Phil Ivey, and Bobby Baldwin. Linda told me they were playing $4K/$8K mixed games and she dealt Pot Limit Omaha with a $150K max bet per player. Yikes.

7:15pm... Recent Bustouts: Scott Fischman, David Chui, and David Pham.

8:26pm.... Cyndy Violette bubbled out. She was short stacked and moved all in with A6s. Scotty Nguyen called with A-K and flopped a King. Cyndy was elimianted by Scotty Nguyen in 10th place. Scotty felt bad and he ran over to give her a big hug. She wins nothing for 10th place and she left the table with extreme grace and a warm smile. On the inside she must have been pissed, but you would never know from her body language. And there were no cameras there filming her every move, so she wasn't faking it. After witnessing that moment and her excellent play during this year's WSOP, Cyndy's stock rose even more in my book. She's a classy player.

8:30pm... The final table will resume at Noon on Wednesday. Quinn Do is the chipleader. Here are seating assigmnets with chip counts courtesy of BJ:
Seat 1: Fuat Can $47,900
Seat 2: Tobey Maguire $68,500
Seat 3: Jeff Shulman $190,300
Seat 4: Quinn Do $494,000
Seat 5: Scotty Nguyen $377,000
Seat 6: Annon Filippi $362,100
Seat 7: Chad Layne $40,800
Seat 8: Sam Grizzle $214,200
Seat 9: Mimi Tran $146,900
For a full recap with photos (taken by Flipchip before he got in trouble) stop by and read my write up of day 2 on Las Vegas and Poker Blog.
Otis Has Left the Building

(Editor's Note: You must read Otis' version... Leaving Las Vegas.)

It was the last night in Las Vegas for Otis. He changed his flight 1.5 days earlier so he could return home to G-Vegas, South Carolina and see Mrs. Otis, Lil' Otis, and Scrappy the Wonder Pooch after one month of utter insanity and being force fed the Rio's overpriced and overcooked cheeseburgers. I don't blame Otis for bailing early. I'd like to get the fuck out of Las Vegas as soon as possible, but I'm stuck here in the 120 degree heat until mid-August.

When Otis called and said that he had an early morning flight and wanted to get obliterated drunk, I knew we were on a mission from that moment on. I happily met Otis at the lounge/bar in the middle of the Mirage. Just 13 hours earlier, Australian Joe Hachem won the main event and $7.5 million. Indeed, it was time to celebrate the completion of the WSOP.

Starting about five years ago, the Mirage used to be my favorite casino and one of my Top 10 Favorite Places of All Time. It's like my old home away from home. It's the place where I hit my first ever quads in the poker room. The Mirage seemed like a fitting place to get all kinds of shitfaced for Otis' last night.

The entertainment that particular evening was a jazz band fronted by a nubile singer with a sultry voice. Joining us were Grubby, and two L.A. guys... Mike and Jesus. I started off with SoCo on the rocks. It's been my drink of choice since I landed in Las Vegas 46 days earlier. After drinking Red Stripes and Coronas at dinner break with Otis at the Hooker Bar in the Rio for a month straight, I packed on 15 pounds which all hopelessly settled in my gut. In homage of the SoCo Master, I called Al Cant Hang for a Dial-a-Shot. He was holding court in Atlantic City. I caught his lovely wife Eva Can Hang on the phone as she was navigating her way through the Borgata's slot machines. We chatted for a few moments and hoisted our drinks for the absent rock star.

After getting cold-decked from the video poker machine, Otis and I agreed that the video poker at the Hooker Bar in the Rio had much looser slots than the Mirage. Otis hit quads like forty times at the Rio and in my only attempt, I hit quad Jacks... fuck, I flopped it too. No such luck at the Mirage. At least I got two free drinks out of it. Mike wandered over and suggested we go throw some dice. And off we went...

We found a near empty craps table and the order on the rail was Jesus, Mike, Grubby, Otis, and myself in the far corner. We started out slow and I kept my betting simple; Pass Line and behind the Pass Line bets. We all rolled once and I didn't hit any points. The second time around, new blood joined the table after some of the Poker Stars crew, including Otis' lovely assistant Mad, jumped into the mix. James, a gregarious Englishman who I worked in the trenches with for the past month, was on the far end. We almost knew everyone at the table and that's when we started to make a run.

Mike, Jesus, and James went on a rush. They were so hot that Grubby and Otis passed their rolls. We picked up point after point and that's when I began throwing the chips around and making come bets. My stack tripled up inside of a few minutes and I gawked at a nice collection of green $25 chips that I quickly accumulated. After Jesus hit three points in a row, the table chatter grew louder and louder. I kept yelling out in my most obnoxious Vegas tourist voice, "Thank you Jesus!"

That's the cool thing about shooting craps in Las Vegas, belligerent behavior is encouraged. The louder the table, the more likely the casino will win more money. Because in the end, the House always wins.

I should have walked away when I was up. How many losers in Vegas had that on their minds last Saturday? I hung in there and deviated from my simple betting strategy. Greed seeped into my brain. Everything was going well until some slick L.A. hipster doofus in a $500 blazer joined the table. I knew right away he was bad news. On his roll I lost almost all of my winnings. His negative karma attached itself to our group. Even Jesus succumbed to the dark veil of the hipster's bad luck. We all looked at each other and walked away. I considered jumping that assclown and stealing his expensive jacket as fair compensation for being the table "Cooler."

We retreated to the Sports Book Bar. A huge group encircled Otis, including his Poker Stars crew and April, Eric, and the Poker Prof stopped by. We had a spontaneous "Farewell Otis" party going on.

Over the last few weeks, during the slow hours in media row, we'd make different prop bets. We became action junkies and usually wagered on "last longer bets" on whoever sat at the final table we were covering for that day. It seemed natural that we'd gamble on almost anything. When ESPN aired some sort of dog obstacle course race... I turned to Otis and nodded. He knew what was up. Otis picked one dog. I got the other and it was time to recklessly gamble on canine obstacle races. The dogs names were Quick and Splendor and my pooch closed the gap after a slow start. Like drunken idiots we cursed at the TV monitor, cheering on (an obviously taped event) dogs racing through the course.

"Come on Quick!" Otis screamed his Ozark Mountain drawl.

"Get yer ass in gear Splendor!" I yelled.

The gambling gods were on my side. My dog won the first race and Otis tossed me cash. A fat tourist chomping on a cigar at an adjacent table waddled over, "Are you guys betting on those dogs?"

"Fuck yeah," I responded. "$100 a pop. You want in, tough guy?"

He sheepishly declined.

"Pussy bastard," I mumbled to myself as Otis and I made our picks for the next pooch race and the waitress brought us another round of drinks.

****** ******

Coming soon... the second part to last Saturday night's festivities including the latest installment of Existentialist Conversations with Strippers.
Back to Work: Bellagio Challenge Cup Day 1

Well I had a quick two day break before I headed back to work covering tournaments for Las Vegas and Poker Blog and Poker Player Newspaper. Flip Chip, the Poker Prof and I headed over to the Bellagio for the first day of the Bellagio Challenge Cup. It's a four day event with a $10,000 buy in. Only 95 players signed up but there were plenty of top names flinging chips around in the infamous Bellagio poker room.

Levels in the Bellagio Challenge Cup are 90 minutes long and every player gets $10K in chips. I spotted Mimi Tran, Allen Cunningham, Melissa Hayden, John Juanda, John Phan, Scotty Nguyen, T.J. Cloutier, Tobey Maguire, Scott Bigler, John D'Agostino, Phil Ivey, Hassan Habib, Bob Stupak, Cyndy Violette, Erik Seidel, Scott Fischman, Jean Gaspard, Jeff Shulman, and that old guy who Celine Dion is married to.

At the end of Day 1, 41 players remain in the field. I spoke to Scotty Nguyen. He told me he had $120K in chips and thinks he's about 3rd place. Tobey Maguire has $42,150 and made it to day two. Notable bustouts include John Juanda and Capt. Tom Franklin. On our way out, we spotted Phil Ivey shooting craps with John D'Agostino. He was up about $300K.

The coolest thing about covering tournaments at the Bellagio is the food comps. Unlike the cheap bastards at the Rio/Harrah's junta, the powers to be treat members of the media very well at the Bellagio. When the action was complete, quickly got three food comps and headed over to Noodles for some excellent Asian cuisine. The Poker Prof and I shared the jellyfish and cucumbers salad as an appetizer. The jellyfish made me queasy, but I had to try it once. The cucumbers were spicy. I ordered the Sesame Chicken and my portion was larger than expected. For desert I snagged the green tea ice cream, which was made from scratch on site. The Poker Prof ordered the mango pudding and it looked good.

I'll be back tomorrow with some more in depth coverage of the big tournament every one else seems to be ignoring. By the way... here are some photos from the event that Flip Chip took.

Monday, July 18, 2005

2005 WSOP Main Event Recap

I'm going to be writing a full 2005 WSOP retrospective in a few days. For now, feel free to re-read my daily play-by-play of the main event:
Day 1A
Day 1B
Day 1C
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6 (move to Binion's)
Day 7: The Final Table

Flipchip's 2005 World Series of Poker Photo Gallery
Complete 2005 WSOP Tournament Results
Daily Recaps for the main event
Damn. Last week might have been the most exciting week of poker in my life and I didn't even play one hand! I was happy to have the weekend off, but I'm sad to see that the 2005 WSOP is over. I'm gonna miss a lot of the people I met and worked with everyday. That's going to be the tough part. I made some great friends and that's invaluable.

Thanks again to everyone at, Poker Player Newspaper, and Fox Sports for letting me cover the WSOP for them. It was a great ride. And I hope we can do it again next year. Big thanks goes out to all my fellow poker bloggers who linked my my poker blog during the WSOP. You guys rule. And special thanks to both Wil Wheaton, Tony Pierce, and Odd Jack for mentioning the my poker blog as well.

Also, thanks again to all of the readers, new and old, and everyone who left positive feedback in my comments section and took the time out to write me an email. I've been asked a lot of questions, specifically if I have a virtual tip jar for donations. I don't have one set up, but you can always download and sign up for an online poker account on Party Poker using my bonus code TAO4. Or if you prefer other sites, feel free to use my links below to sign up and download the software... that way I can get credit for the referral when you fund your account.
Party Poker
Poker Stars
Full Tilt
Noble Poker

Moving on...

So what's next? Today, I'm heading to the Bellagio to cover a tournament there this week. Later this week's I'll post more about the 2005 WSOP. Plus, I have a great story about Otis' last night in Vegas. I also have a new installment of Existentialist Conversations with Strippers. More to come.
Radio Free Pauly

I taped my interview with Sean & Brent on Saturday afternoon a couple hours after the WSOP ended for the Lord Admiral Card Club Radio Show and Podcast. If you don't know by now, it's the best podcast dedicated to poker in the universe. Over the last few months, I've become a huge cult figure in Canada thanks to Cinci Sean & Brent Stacks. I'm happy to be a part of their amazing show.

Sean and Brent are working hard every week to get their podcast done (for free) so stop by and show your support.

You can download the MP3 of this week's show... Episode of 35: Here. (Right Click and Save As)
You can download the MP3 of last week's show... Episode 34: Here. (Right Click and Save As)
You can download the MP3 of two weeks ago show... Episode 33: Here. (Right click and Save As)

We discuss the main event of the WSOP and a retrospective of my six weeks in Las Vegas.

If you want to catch up and listen to previous episodes, please visit their archives over at Brainscat. Stop by their site and download the extra nuggets that Sean posts during the middle of the week. Thanks again to Sean and Stacks for having me on.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Charlie Tuttle Memorial Tournament

We got 144 players including Wil Wheaton. Great news is that the bloggers raised over $2880 in memory of Charlie Tuttle. Awesome! Thanks to everyone who played and pimped this event on their blogs. Thanks again to Iggy and BG for their organizational skills.

Finally congrats to "sarahbellum" who beat out Mr. Decker to win the first Charlie Tuttle Memorial Tournament. Great job.

I was knocked out early in 138th place when I moved all in with 10-10. I ran into TarOrpheus's pocket Kings and that was it. I finished up a freelance article while I sweated my brother's table.

I wasn't very social this time around and I apologize if I couldn't chat with all of you. I was wicked hungover ater a night of heavy drinking with Otis and a late night run to a strip club with Grubby. Stay tuned for that write up.

Congrats again to sarahbellum and everyone who helped raise this money.