Monday, June 12, 2006

2005 World Series of Poker Recap

2005 WSOP Champion Joe Hachem

Photo courtesy of Flipchip

I'm moving back to Las Vegas in ten days so I can cover the 2006 WSOP here at the Tao of Poker. It seemed like just yesterday I was stuck in the corner of Benny's Bullpen as I watched Joe Hachem win $7.5 million and become the new WSOP Champion. But almost a year has passed.

I will be taking the next several days off while I'm on holiday in Tennesse to visit Spaceman and Mrs. Spaceman. Then later in the week, I'm attending the Bonnaroo music festival featuring some of my favorite bands. I assembled a kick ass crew to come along with me to party it up during a four day musical bender, which includes my buddy the Joker, Change100, Molly, and professional Keno player Neil Fontenot. I'll be posting pictures, updates, and reviews on the Tao of Pauly and my group music blog.

In the meantime, take the time to go back and re-read my 2005 WSOP coverage on the Tao of Poker and other sites.
WSOP Quick Links:

2006 WSOP Schedule
Pauly's 2006 WSOP Preview
2006 WSOP Odds
Flipchip's 2005 WSOP Photos
2005 WSOP Tournament Results
2005 Tao of Poker WSOP June Archives
2005 Tao of Poker WSOP July Archives

To start off, "First Impressions" is one of my favorite pieces from last year. I wrote this for Fox Sports and it appeared on their website on June 19th.

2005 World Series of Poker: First Impressions

Every day at high noon, a young and eager gunslinger arrives into town ready to take down the established grizzled locals. This is not a plot out of an old John Ford western movie, instead it's simply a recap of the daily events at the 2005 World Series of Poker. Millions of dollars are on the line with every turn of the card. Legends are being made every few hours, while souls and dreams are being crushed in the process.

Indeed, the first two weeks of the 2005 World Series of Poker have been complete insanity. Players, tourists, and media types from all over the world have converged on the Rio Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada to witness the largest and most prestigious poker tournament in the world. For six weeks the Rio is poker's version of Mecca. There are 45 major tournaments being held with the infamous $10,000 buy-in No Limit main event scheduled to start on July 7th. The fast-paced gambling action will be non-stop at the Rio and running twenty-four hours a day with cash games featuring celebrities, Las Vegas sharks, and satellites filled with plenty of "dead money" players from all walks of life.

With every turn of the card, there is the potential that a brand new WSOP winner will be crowned. The prize pools at this year's WSOP are the highest they have ever been at over $20 million. And that's just for the first fifteen events. The main event alone will have a prize pool of over $60 million. More players are participating in every event than in previous years. We're in the middle of the "poker boom" and it appears that everyone is trying to get in on the orgiastic frenzy. The crowds of spectators are flocking to the Rio in huge groups to watch their favorite professional poker players in action. They are gawking on the rail, pestering pros for their autographs, and spending ungodly sums of money on various WSOP paraphernalia.

I get goose bumps every time I walk into the poker room here at the Rio. It's been two weeks already and that feeling has not worn off. A wave of energy hits me right in the face as soon as I take one step inside. The sight of this operation is overwhelming. The room is bigger than a football field and resembles an airplane hangar more than anything else. There are hundreds of tables in the room, illuminated by some of the brightest lights I have ever seen. The tables are filled with players from all over the world. Some are listening to their favorite hipster bands on iPods while others are sporting sunglasses to hide their timid eyes. A few online amateurs have that "deer caught in the headlights" look, after they find themselves sitting across from guys nicknamed Texas Dolly, Devilfish, Men the Master, and Minneapolis Jim.

You can hear the sound of chips clattering from the corridor leading up to the poker room. The distinct sound began two weeks ago and will not stop until a new WSOP Champion is declared. Over the loudspeaker, a young lady's voice tells players when their seat to a specific cash game is available. Cocktail waitresses are fighting for position to deliver imported beers, water, and Red Bulls to the players, while chip runners are sprinting from the cage to the cash game tables. You can hear players verbally display their reactions when they get sucked out on the river or survive a desperate all in attempt with a short stack. Floor managers are refereeing disputes between players, often giving them a ten minute penalty for unruly behavior and excessive usage of profanity. In media row, writers from various news organizations are exchanging gossip and chip counts of different players. In the hallways and in the bathrooms you can overhear players recant their bad beat stories and other tales of how they lost all of their chips.

Over at the cash games tables, pros are pulling out wads of $100 bills to take on other big named pros, fish with deep pockets, and celebrities who dropped by the Rio to see if they could hang with the big dogs. One late night, I spotted Phil Laak, Clonie Gowen, Anontio Esfandiari, and Jennifer Tilly playing in a $25/$50 No Limit cash game. There must have been close to $100,000 on that table in a game that lasted until sunrise.

On the far end of the poker room is where the dreamers hang out. That's were the satellite area is located. For as little as $50, you can try to earn your $10,000 seat in the main event by winning a series of smaller buy-in single table tournaments. Doctors from Long Island, accountants from South Carolina, college drop outs from California, and other varieties of "dead money" have been fighting each other around the clock, in hopes of turning their limited bankrolls into a chance at becoming the first $10 million winner at the World Series of Poker.

If the first two weeks of action are any indication of what is to come over the next four weeks, then this year's World Series of Poker is going to be the most epic gambling event of all time. Don't blink or turn away, because you might miss history.
* * * * *

Before the 2005 WSOP started, Derek and I headed to Vegas for the second ever bloggers event in early June. 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.

On the morning of the first day of work, 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.

"Didn't they catch the Ohio highway serial sniper at the Redneck Riviera in Las Vegas?" I asked Flipchip.

"Possibly. But at least they caught him. He could have still been living here," he joked.

Here's how I described the Redneck Riviera in my Las Vegas book:
I lived on the ground floor of Building D, which was the abbreviation for Demented. I found out the hard way that a white trash family lived next door. It seemed like they had 18 people living in a one bedroom suite. The same size apartment I lived in. I passed out around 7 A.M. every morning. At 11 A.M. it was "Redneck Family Hour" which came complete with drunken arguments, a slap fight, and no less than a dozen malnourished kids running rampant in front of my window. A rowdy a group of them were hootin' and hollerin' like they re-enacted the Battle of Antietam in the parking lot. It was extremely frustrating trying to fall back asleep. I requested a new apartment, but they put me on the waiting list. The entire place was booked solid and the only rooms that were available had shotty A/C. The lack of sleep drove me closer towards the brink of insanity and directly hurt my writing skills. My neighbors weren't helping.

Grubby was right... locals don't get any sleep in Vegas either. Either a drug dealer or hooker lived on the other side of me. I wondered if I could get a package deal? Every twenty minutes or so I could hear a knock on their door. That went on at all hours. At least, the free HBO and ESPNews drowned out the moans and groans from the portly johns and their strung out hookers.

Yeah, my apartment complex was in a flavorful place. I had a freaky feeling that someone's homemade crystal meth lab in the adjacent building unit is going to blow up and all my WSOP notes will be destroyed.
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 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 was 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, episode 32, episode 33, episode 34, and episode 35.

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
Event #32 $5K Omaha8
Event #34 Senior's NL
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.

Here's a story I wrote that appeared on Fox Sports and on the cover of Poker Player Newspaper called A Guy Named Charlie:

A Guy Named Charlie

"It's very easy to do a good deed." - Barry Greenstein

Some of you don't know about a guy named Charlie Tuttle. He got dealt a bad hand in life and he's been battling cancer. When the World Series of Poker began, his health took a turn for the worse. His best friend Jason Spaceman wondered if the Poker Prof and myself could find away to cheer Charlie up. His favorite player is Marcel Luske and some of you already know the amazing story how Marcel borrowed my cell phone to call Charlie in the ICU. He even sung to him and that made Charlie laugh for the first time in a very long time.

Our friend Felicia took it upon herself to find as many pros and ask them to do something to help lift Charlie's spirits. Max Pescatori, Barry Greenstein, and John Juanda all took time out of their busy schedules to call Charlie. Barry even said he would send Charlie a copy of his new book. Max sent Charlie a care package and got some of his friends like Jen Harman and Doyle Brunson involved. In the last few days, Charlie's breathing problems persisted and he was unable to physically talk on the phone. He has internet access now, so I know he's reading this.

Charlie, in one of the most amazing moments I have ever witnessed in poker, Barry Greenstein said he was going to win a WSOP event for you. Then he went out and did it.

During one of the breaks at the final table of Event #19 $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha, I walked over to Barry Greenstein and thanked him for calling Charlie. His gesture really meant a lot to Charlie, his family and friends, and to a lot of people in the poker community, both players, bloggers, and readers alike. Barry said to me, "It's easy to do a good deed."

He understood how the poker boom had made poker pros instant celebrities and that a simple phone call was the least he could do. Before the break was over he told me that he was going to dedicate the victory to Charlie. At that point, I rooted for Barry harder than I ever pulled for any other player before.

In order to get in the position to win this event for Charlie, Barry had to outlast a field of 291 players including a former World Champion in Chris "Jesus" Ferguson. The final table started an hour later than originally scheduled. Apparently, there was a computer error in the payout structure and some of the players who cashed yesterday got more than they should have. As soon as the error had been corrected, play began.

Here's the final table players and chip counts:

Seat 1: Chris "Jesus" Ferguson (Pacific Palisades, CA) $16K
Seat 2: Sam Silverman (Las Vegas, NV) $39.5K
Seat 3: Paul Vinci (Shell Beach, CA) $54K
Seat 4: Paul Maxfield (Stroke-On-Trent, England) $67K
Seat 5: Barry Greenstein (RPV, CA) $92K
Seat 6: Tim Martz (Butte, MT) $72.5K
Seat 7: Toto Leonidas (Los Angeles, CA) $45K
Seat 8: Eric "Blue" Bloore (North Hollywood, CA) $16K
Seat 9: Chris Lindenmayer (Pickerington, OH) $35.5K

Here are some interesting facts about the final table players... Chris Ferguson was playing in his second final table at this year's WSOP. He has five bracelets and is looking for number six. Sam Silverman is a 25 year old poker player. He had been playing in the WSOP since 2003. Paul Vinci is a restaurant owner and this is his first final table. Paul Maxfield is a CEO of a company in England. He has six cashes and made two final tables in his WSOP career. Barry Greenstein is known as the "Robin Hood" of poker. He has a victory on the WPT and also won one WSOP bracelet. Tim Martz is a poker room operator from Montana. This is his first final table. Toto Leonidas is at his second final table this year. Eric "Blue" Bloore is playing in just his second WSOP event. Chris Lindenmayer is an x-ray technician.

Eric "Blue" Bloore was the first player eliminated. Barry Greenstein raised preflop to $6K. Blue reraised all in for 10k more. Barry called with As-5s-2s-2h. Eric Bloore had Ac-Kc-10h-9h. The board read Kh-6c-3s-6s-2c and Barry caught a full boat on the river. Eric " Blue" Bloore finished in 9th place. He won $8,030.

Sam Silverman was next to get eliminated. Silverman moved all in on the flop of 2d-8c-8h when he flopped trips with 5s-6c-7d-8d. Paul Vinci showed 7s-7c-As-Ad. Silverman lost the lead when an ace spiked on the turn. His boat was good enough to win. Sam Silverman won $12,045 for 8th place.

Chris "Jesus" Ferguson was knocked out in 7th place by Chris Lindenmayer. Jesus missed his flush draw and Lindenmayer flopped two pair. Jesus won $16,065 for his efforts.

In the battle of the Paul's... Paul Maxfield was knocked out in 6th place by Paul Vinci. Maxfield moved all in preflop with As-Ks-10d-6d. Maxfield was called by Vinci's Ac-Qd-3d-7c. Maxfield flopped a pair but Vinci caught running clubs to spike the nut flush on the river. Paul Maxfield won $20,080 for 6th place.

Toto Leonidas went on a mini rush. He caught several cards on the river to double up a couple of times, including one pot against Barry Greenstein. Toto knocked out Tim Martz in 5th place. Marz won $24,095.

In one of the biggest pots since the final table began, Barry Greenstein doubled up. On a flop of 4d-2d-7c, Barry Greenstein moved all in with a pair a kings and a flush draw. He had Kx-Kd-Td-4x. Toto Leonidas called with top pair and a straight draw. Barry caught a diamond on the turn and doubled up against Toto. He was close to being eliminated, but hung on. That was a crucial hand because he went on a run right after that.

Barry Greenstein took down another huge pot from Toto. The flop was Js-9d-4s, Greenstein bet $15K and Toto called. The turn was the 3d and Greenstein checked. Toto bet the pot about $54K and Greenstein moved all in with Kc-Jd-Jh-6c. Toto called with Kd-Qd-Qs-3c. He had a flush and a gutshot draw. He missed both on the river. Greenstein's flopped a set of Jacks was good enough to win. Toto Leonidas was eliminated in 4th and he won $28,110. Barry moved into the chip lead.

Chris Lindenmayer was knocked out in 3rd place by Paul Vinci. Both players checked on the flop of Kd-Qs-5s. Lindenmayer bet $26K on the turn when the 6c hit. Paul Vinci called. The river card paired the board with the Kh. Lindenmayer bet $20K, Vinci raised, and Lindenmayer moved all in. Lindenmayer showed Qd-Qh-7s-4d for a full house Queens full of Kings. Paul Vinci showed Kc-6s-Ac-9c and a bigger boat with Kings full of Sixes to win the pot. Chris Lindenmayer was knocked out and he won $36,140 for his efforts.

We've reached heads up play and the chip counts were about even.

On the 16th hand of heads up play, Barry won a huge pot when he caught a Wheel straight on the river. Barry held a $400K to $43K chip lead. A few hands later, Barry won his second bracelet. He won $128,505, all of which goes to charity. Paul Vinci played great and he took second place and won $70,680.

I wish I could say that I was paying attention to the hand that Barry beat Paul Vinci with. I was distracted because all I could think about was Charlie and Spaceman. A few moments after he won, Barry spoke to the audience and officially dedicated his victory to Charlie.

"This one is for Charlie," Barry said as a round of applause filled the room.

Barry couldn't say much more because he was also playing in another WSOP event, the Pot-Limit Hold'em tournament, in the far corner of the poker room. On the way to his table, he barely spoke about his win to the media because he was all choked up. Barry is one of the best poker players in the world and he always has his feelings in check at the table. For a brief moment though, he was overwhelmed with emotion and exposed his vulnerable side. I think a lot of us involved were a little teary eyed.

I had to excuse myself and go into the hallway because I was about to cry. At that moment, the events at the World Series of Poker seemed meaningless compared to the battle that Charlie was fighting. Situations like this make you reassess what's really important in life. Las Vegas is a city built on greed. Poker is a game that often attracts some of the lowest forms of life. However, in the past two weeks, there have been a small group of professional poker players who have earned my respect and admiration. Amidst all the darkness and debauchery, I have caught a few glimpses of the bright side of humanity. The hearts of some of the biggest sharks in Las Vegas are filled with compassion.

Tonight was a special night at the World Series of Poker and Barry Greenstien made sure that we would all never forget a guy named Charlie Tuttle.
* * * * *

BG set up the Charlie Tuttle Memorial Tournament on Poker Stars which was won by SarahBellum.

I interviewed 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.

Flipchip snapped the photo on the right of us in media row featuring (from left to right): Otis, Dan from Pokerati (standing), Pauly, BJ, and Poker Wire Heather.

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.

July started with me having a mental breakdown a few days before the WSOP main event. The Redneck Riviera and the intense Nevada summer heat were making me crazy. The bad food. The lack of sleep. The depression. The deadlines. The bad beat stories. The misery. It was all fucking with my head and I lost my shit more than once in July.

I saw Paul McKinney become the oldest person to ever win a WSOP bracelet.

I went to the Full Tilt party held at La Bete in the Wynn. The dress code was LA Chic. I had no idea what that meant. I went with Shirley and I hung out with a ton of media folks including a bunch of bloggers. I ended up closing out the bar drinking past last call with Daniel Negreanu, the Poker Prof, and two Irish Guys.

On the same day that AlCantHang came out to surprise me and Otis, I met Wil Wheaton for the first time and we hung out and bullshitted for a while. He was supposed to play in the main event in less than 24 hours from the time we met. I showed him the empty table he would end up sitting at. It was the same day as the WSOP Media/Celebrity event.

I cashed in my first WSOP event and made my first WSOP final table. I also cracked Shannon Elizabeth's A-A with JJ. I was Otis' table to start and I got A-A in back to back hands. I busted him and build up a huge chip lead. I was also seated next to Lou Krieger at some point.

During the main event, I met DoubleAs for the first time. He would end up cashing in his first and only WSOP event.

The WSOP $10K main event started. The last two days were held in Benny's Bullpen at the Horseshoe. Here are my live blogging updates:
Day 1A
Day 1B
Day 1C
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7 - The Final Table
Be sure to take a peek at the Poker Prof's hard work in his 2005 WSOP tournament results page. And look at Flipchip's 2005 WSOP photo gallery.

Everyone knows that Joe Hachem from Australia won the 2005 WSOP main event. He took home $7.5 million and I got to experience the 2005 WSOP from nearly the start to the finish. It was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. I might cover WSOP events in the future, but it's never quite the same as your first one. I have the Poker Prof to thank for the entire thing. He said we were going to pull it off... and with Flipchip's help... we did.

The Poker Prof told me that I was the single most read writer at the WSOP, even more so than Nolan Dalla. He estimated that more than one million people read something of mine during the 2005 WSOP either on the Tao of Poker, Poker Player Newspaper, Fox Sports, MSN, and some of the other sites that I write for. I was blown away by that number and still refuse to believe that was possible. He broke it down by the numbers and although it adds up, it's still a disturbing number. If I knew that then... I would have freaked out and choked. As is, despite some problems and rough patches, I came out of the WSOP as a legitimate poker tournament reporter. Some of that was due to Felicia's suggestions along with Otis' help, Flipchip's Obi-wan like guidance, and Poker Prof's persistent belief in me.

Wil gave me some great advice and insisted that I take my dinner breaks for "me" time. I ended up rushing off to the Hooker Bar to drink with Otis. For a while it was our favorite time of the day. We'd drink sometimes for free and made sure we didn't talk about poker. We discussed anything except poker. That was our only rule. For an hour everyday we escaped the insanity of the WSOP. We didn't have deadlines or readers eagerly awaiting updates. We were just two dudes drinking away our troubles at a bar in Las Vegas, checking out the talent and swapping a few stories in the process. That was just one of the many highlights of the WSOP.

* * * * *

Gallery of Champions

I snapped the following pictures moments after these champions won their event. My favorite is Johnny Chan winner's photo. They all have the distinction of being in my Gallery of Champions. You can click on the individual photos to get an enlarged view. Enjoy.

Erik Seidel
2005 WSOP $2K NL Champion

Josh Arieh
2005 WSOP $2K PLO Champion

TJ Cloutier
2005 WSOP $5K NL Champion

Isaac Glazan
2005 WSOP $2,500 Shorthanded NL Champion

"The Mighty" Quinn Do
2005 WSOP $2,500 Limit champion

Bary Greenstien
2005 WSOP $1,500 PLO Champion

Mark Seif: Two time bracelet winner
2005 WSOP $1,500 Limit Shootout Champion
2005 WSOP $1,500 NL CHampion

Phil Ivey
2005 WSOP $5K PLO champion

Johnny Chan wins bracelet #10
2005 WSOP $2,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em Champion

Todd Brunson
2005 WSOP $2,500 Omaha 8 Champion

Doyle Brunson wins #10
2005 WSOP $5K NL Shorthanded Champion

Jen Tilly
2005 WSOP Ladies Champion

Paul McKinney
2005 WSOP Senior's Champion

Joe Hachem
2005 WSOP $10K NL main event Champion

Bobby Bracelet
2005 Saturdays with Dr. Pauly Champion

* * * * *

After all that hard work during the WSOP, my eforts were recognized. The Tao of Poker was mentioned in an article in the Online Journalism Review called Gonzo poker bloggers bring World Series to life in real time. Here's a bit:
At the 2005 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, which wrapped up last week, the blogging star was "Dr. Pauly", a struggling screenwriter and novelist who became a poker fanatic... more
I move to Las Vegas in 10 days and the WSOP begins in two weeks. This will be the place to get your 2006 WSOP fix. In the meantime, feel free to read my articles on 2006 WSOP Odds and the 2006 WSOP Preview.

See you at the Rio in two weeks!

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