Wednesday, August 30, 2006

New Truckin', Gavin Smith Charity Satellite, and Tanner Evers

Well, I finally published another (late) issue of Truckin'. It's late again. It's always late but my excuse this month was being on location in Las Vegas for two months covering the WSOP. I promise that next month I'll get this out closer to my target deadline.

Here's the good news... this issue is packed with some of the best stories that I've published in the last few years.

We have six returning writers including Mella, Falstaff, Sigge, Craig Cunningham, and Sean A. Donahue. It's also a pleasure to introduce, Dr. Chako, who makes his debut with a Bukowski inspired story.

Truckin- August 2006, Vol. 6, Issue 8

1. The Menagerie of Tweakers in Puerile City by Paul McGuire
Las Vegas is a magnet for the absurd and peculiar. I don't know too many places where you can order a Mai Tai at 4am from a bartender named Sully or find a hooker to take a dump on your chest for $300. Sometimes you can find both at the same bar... More

2. Root-Man and the Eleven Foot Rattler by Craig Cunningham
Will Percy, was a local eccentric and legend whose cavernous home was a revolving door of all things my father was not. Writers, gamblers, vagabonds, philosophers, and well-to-do intellectuals came and went like a Greek gypsies... More

3. The Album by Mella
I look at her now, carefully slicing through a long brown onion, still beautiful - despite a toothless smile and soft cheeks that sink in around her lips. Her eyes are the same sparkling green, but lined at the corners with delicate crows feet... More

4. Fairbanks by Dr. Chako
I look up over my shoulder and catch a glimpse of chestnut hair and a leopard tattoo on her right arm. I give her my best one-eyebrow-up look, yet she is already moving down the aisle, perhaps embarrassed by the audible hmmm-ing... More

5. Hangover: A Bukowski Poem by Sigge S. Amdal
A short-haired dog with contractions on its rear part,
turns his ass to me and shits a large turd right there on the street.
This does not make me hungry... More

6. Salt by Falstaff
I can still taste the salt on your lips -
Sun-kissed blonde and sweet, sweet seventeen
Graduation week daiquiris, sand surf... More

7. Training Camp, the Cleveland Browns, and My Father by Sean A. Donahue
I remember the games like they were yesterday, 70,000 fans packed into old Cleveland Stadium. What a lousy stadium, falling apart and just pitiful... More

I ask that if you like these stories, then please do me and the rest of the writers a huge favor: Tell your friends about your favorite stories. It takes a few seconds to pass along the URL. I certainly appreciate your support.

* * * * *

There are a couple of chairty tournaments going down on Full Tilt Poker. The Gavin Smith one is this week and Tanner is next week. I'll do my best to play in both.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Tao of Three

My poker blog silently celebrated it's third year of existence last week. Caught up in the post-WSOP malaise, I totally forgot about the milestone until a buddy pointed it out to me. Three summers ago, friends of mine who were loyal readers of the Tao of Pauly got sick of all the poker content. They formed a mutiny and ordered me to start a new blog... the Tao of Poker. Within a few weeks I picked up two readers Iggy and Mr. Decker.

The rest was history. Thanks to everyone for reading and for the support on those numerous dark days when the weight of the world sits heavy on my shoulders.

The inception of the Tao of Poker in August of 2003 set forth a chain of events in the cosmos. And through the blog I've been able to cross paths with so many of you especially a handful of folks that I've been able to become good friends with. Somewhere along this wild journey, I puked in Daddy's car in Indiana, announced the final table of the EPT in Barcelona, picked up a job writing for Fox Sports, and went to the Playboay Mansion with seven other bloggers. In the past twelve months, I tied for first place at the Brad-o-ween Poker Open, got my junk grabbed at the MGM sportsbook, quit blogging for a few weeks, rented out the Tao to a casino, and had my work translated into Swedish and Italian. I spent more time on the road than living in NYC visiting G-Vegas, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, Providence, Foxwoods CT, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cincinatti, Kentucky, Tennessee, Denver, Boulder, and of course Las Vegas.

I'm leaving Vegas later today for the first time in over two months. I couldn't escape Sin City without dropping the Hammer and hitting up a strip club one last time. In a fitting moment I won a big pot with a Hammer bluff and used that money to fund my excursion to the Rhino. Some people look at a pile of red chips and think of money. I looked at that same pile and saw nine lapdances.

The one lapdance that stood out were the two I got from Chyenne a dead ringer for Katie Holmes in her pre-Scientology but post-Dawson's Creek stage. Chyenne liked to chit chat about whiny sounding indie rock bands. I ran into a hipster stripper. Plus, never trust a woman who has the first name of a city, especially Las Vegas strippers.

I'm taking a short detour before my triumphant return to NYC after Labor Day. I'm heading to Colorado for a long weekend to spend time with hippies. I'm also seeing one of my favorite bands from New Orleans called Galactic play concerts in Fort Collins and Boulder. I'm going to write up a review for a Euro-trash music rag.

I'm also writing a spec piece on the Boulder Kickball Association. My buddy Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot is a proud member of the BKA and invited me to one of their practices. Of course, there's also the latest wrinkle in the Jonbenet Ramsey case and I might as well poke my nose around and try to dig up something interesting and try to sell that story. I'm gonna to try to sell three different pieces and none of them are about poker. I couldn't be happier.

Oh and I forgot to mention.... Daddy is going to be making a rare and special apperance in Colorado. Should be an interesting weekend of hippies, kickball, Jonbenet, donkeyfuckers, and New Orleans slamfunk.

After Colorado, I head out to Hollyweird for a week to lounge around at Zuma Beach with Change100 and finish work on the August issue of Truckin'. Aside from that, I'm gonna reacquaint myself with the characters I created almost four years ago in Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. I'm going to read it at least five times when I'm in LA before I return home to NYC. I need to read it ten times to jolt my memory back on track. I'm 18 days away from starting the new draft and I can't wait to write fiction again.

In the meantime, read my archives over the last 12 months. The third year of the Tao of Poker featured some of my best poker writing.

The Archives:
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006

The Best of the Tao of Poker (over the last 12 months):

Existentialist Conversations with Strippers: Crazy Horse and Sapphire
Masturbation and Poker
Bash at the Boathouse 5
Empiricism, Kierkegaard, Catholic High School Girls, and Poker
Female Ejaculation and Squirting
Tao of Risk
Bathroom Fucking incident
Hammers, Hilton Sisters, Dial-a-Shots, and other Post-Modern Poker Vernacular
Strip Club Advice
Circles and Poker
Poker and Porn Funk
Meeting SirWaffle
Crashing Murderer's Row
Gallery of Champions
Bloggers in Wonderland

Guest Post: Daddy's bad Beat Story
Turn This Mother Out
Gilligan's Island and Poker
Muck Marissa Cooper
Market Corrections, Bozos, and Bolos
L.A. Prop Bets, Groovy Sunsets, and Fear the Jaywalker
Bukowski & Poker
Strippers & Blow
The Mansion Part I: The Arrival
The Mansion Part II: Where's AlCantHang?
Female Intern Wanted
April Sojourn
WPT Championship
Glass Eye, Red Rocks, and Omaha Suckouts
The Warrior Within: Bruce Lee, Taoism, and Poker

Through the Looking Glass: April Maelstrom
Mother Lovebone
LaFeltah Vermouth and the Village Drunk
The Wall St. Game
Tao of Keno
Born to Gamble Part I: Where It All Begins
Born to Gamble Part II: Southbound
Born to Gamble Part III: Midnight Rider
Born to Gamble Part IV: Ramblin' Man
Born to Gamble Part V: Whipping Post
Born to Gamble Part VI: Revival
First Day at the WSOP: Buffets and Hookers 1, WSOP 0
2006 WSOP July
2006 WSOP August

I'm not going to predict the future of the Tao of Poker. I do my best work and have the most fun when I don't make a plan. I've been making up stuff as I go along for the past three years. That formula seems to work. Just when I think I've said everything there is to be said about poker... I think of something else to write about. Part of me wants to go on vacation and never come back.

* * * * *

I posted a photo gallery of Red Rock Canyon
over at the Tao of Pauly

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Le Poisson du Jour, Five Random Hands, and the Grubby Void

Grubby left Las Vegas for good on Monday as every casino exec in the Las Vegas Valley shed a tear for the loss of one of their most degenerate and dedicated gamblers. During his two year stint in Las Vegas, from poker to slots to blackjack to buffets and strip clubs, Grubby became a Las Vegas legend as I was fortunate to cross paths and share along in the hijinks. His waking life represented a dreamlike and surreal atmosphere as so many of his readers vicariously lived through his posts that were well written and featured literary moments replicating the winner's high to magnifying the testicle shrinking horrifying losses.

I'm lost in Las Vegas without Grubby. The buffets don't taste the same. The poker room isn't what it used to be without spotting Grubby sip a Strawberry Julius as he dropped the Hammer. And the lap dances at the Rhino aren't quite right. Well, that's not true. The lap dances always feel amazing especially from the girls at the Rhino. It was just a little odd going to a strip club and not seeing Grubby entertaining a stripper with witty banter like something from one of my Truckin' stories:
Senor had his hands filled with a not-so-good-looking stripper with a pot belly bigger than mine. When she asked him if wanted a dance he told her, "Look I don't want any lap dances. But if you want to sit down and chat for a while, that's cool. But if you want to go make money, by all means, go visit some other guys."

That wasn't a line or anything. That was the "nice way" Senor wanted to let the strippers down who he didn't think were attractive. That time, it totally backfired. She sat down for over an hour, possibly longer. He did everything to get her to leave. He talked about his wife. He talked about his son. He talked about the dog he never had. He even tried to draw me into the conversation. I avoided that trap pretty quickly. He finally got her to leave when he asked Rebekka for a lap dance.

Grubby was being entertained by an Asian stripper named Sterling. She had it written out in small studs on the back of her black leather panties. I giggled when I overheard Grubby ask, "Are you 24 carats?"

That's when a curvaceous woman in a black bikini came over to me. Her long dark hair cascaded over he round breasts. She looked like J. Lo and had a lot of junk in her trunk.

"Your friends have girls and no one is paying attention to you," she nearly screamed over the loud music and sat down on my lap.

She asked how we knew each other. I told her that we were friends from Harvard Medical School... More
* * * * *

Grubby is back in Chicago, while Change100 went home to LA over the weekend and I'm finally alone and can sit around in my almost empty apartment playing online poker with my pants off and jazz music blasting while I'm ripping bingers.

I finally got some decent sleep on Monday night... almost six hours which is a lot for my tired mind and body. Been catching up on hundreds of pieces of unread emails and playing through my reload bonus at Full Tilt. I stopped playing poker on the crowded Strip and have been splitting my time between at the local poker rooms at Red Rock and Green Valley Ranch. For every hour of poker that I play, I get the equivalent of $1 in food comps at any of the Station Casinos. Over the past few days I've grinded away enough for a free dinner buffet at Green Valley. Grubby would be proud.

I've had a decent run over the last 48 hours both online and playing live. When I'm running hot I don't want to leave. When I get kicked in the junk, I wanna get as far away from Vegas as possible. It's always better to leave this town on a positive note. I've wiped out all my Pai Gow and craps loses and it looks like I'm leaving Vegas with a padded bankroll which is a needed confidence boost. Although I've been here for over two months, I had only about ten days or so of poker. I played rusty the first few days and now I'm back in a groove.

Here are some random hands that I jotted down on some stationary that Grubby stole from Silverton:

6d-7d: 6/12 Limit with a Half Kill at Red Rock

I only played 6-7s to a raise because of the bad beat jackpot. On a board of Kx-10d-9d, I flopped a gutshot straight flush draw from EP and bet out, hoping that someone was playing Jd-Qd and we'd catch the miracle 8d. There was a reraise behind me. I turned the bitch end of the straight flush when the 8d hit. Another 8 fell on the river and I won the pot. A guy about my age said, "I folded eights."

The entire table including the dealer looked at him like he was burning stacks of $100 bills. He made the right play in folding his 8-8 on a board with three overcards, a straight possibility, along with a bet and reraise in front of him. I would have done the same thing. He needed running nines to catch quads. The old guys were bitching at the 8-8 guy for playing his hand right. They were bitching, moaning, and complaining about losing approximately $200 each (every player in a Station Casino poker room shares in the jackpot when it's hit) when I should have been the one yelping about missing $30K or so.

Of course I didn't think about that at the time. It wasn't until I told Grubby about the hand when he mentioned how much I lost on that hand. If anyone fucked up, the guy who raised me on the flop should have drawn the ire of the table. If he just called instead of raising me, the 8-8 would have seen one more card and then stuck it out when he hit a set on the turn. Alas, everyone played their hands the way they should be in the normal world. But when bad beat jackpots at local casinos are involved, the locals play any pair and any suited connectors through the turn. Most of them check the flop especially when they flop a set. This makes these BBJ games at Station casinos slightly more profitable because your premium hands get paid off because everyone with a pocket pair pays to see the flop and the turn.

partypokerad.gifAs-8s-Kx-8c: 2/4 Pot Limit Omaha on Party Poker

I like the action at the PLO tables on Party. I flopped quad 8s and played them fast. Too bad I got felted and pissed away over $400 when I lost a monster pot to a straight flush and lost a side pot to quad tens. All the money went in on the turn on a board of Jh-8h-8d-10x. They rivered both their hands when the 10h spiked.

K-K: 3/5 NL at Green Valley Ranch

A solid and pensive player who just had his Queens cracked two hands earlier was on mega tilt. He's one of those quiet guys that lets all the bad beats and suckouts build up to a point where he turns beat read and instead of kicking his chair over and screaming at the table, he internalized everything and tilted off most of his stack with bad calls.

I sensed weakness with his raise to open the betting. A guy who's a dead ringer for Sweet Sweet Pablo flat called my re-raise of 40 and so did the Silent Tilter. I flopped a set on a rainbow board of K-Q-10. Only A-J beats me and I try to peak in the souls of the other two guys to see if they have it. Silent Tilter bet out half the pot, I raised to the size of the pot and Pablo's Clone smooth called. That scared me.

The turn was a Queen. Only quad Hiltons busts me and I'm hoping for action with my boat. Silent Tilter moved all in for the rest of his stack. I didn't but him on quads. I had him covered and just called. With about 700 in the pot, Pablo's Clone moved all in for another 300. I counted out 260 or so and called. Silent Tilter showed A-K. Pablo's Clone showed A-J and slammed his fist on the table when he saw that his flopped Broadway straight was outdrawn. River was a blank and I picked up a monster pot.Too bad I let about 200 of that get away when I got Aces cracked a few orbits later.

Jc-9c: 10/20 Limit with a Half Kill at Red Rock

I saw a cheap flop in the big blind with junk in a four way pot. On a 10 high board, I flopped a flush draw. I fired out because anyone with a decent hand would have raised preflop, so I thought. I got one caller, a young Asian guy in a Dodgers hat, and everyone else mucked. I bet out on the turn when I picked up a gutshot straight draw. I made my flush on the river, but the board paired so I was afraid of a boat as well as a higher flush. I check/called the river with my baby flush. He showed Q-Q. If he raised preflop or on the flop, I would have mucked. I tilted the Dodgers fan but I couldn't take advantage because the game broke five minutes later.

A-Ko: 5/10 Limit on Party Poker

I call this the "Party Poker Wet Dream." Raised in EP with Big Slick. The CO and BB called. The flop was A-K-Q rainbow. I bet out and got raised by the CO and re-raised by the BB. I figured that I ran into J-10. I called and the CO capped it. I turned a boat when a King hit. The betting was capped on the turn. River was a blank. Only K-K A-A beat me and I took my chances. Betting was capped on the river. I showed A-K. One of the other players didn't show, but the hand history revealed Jc-8d and Ks-9c. Neither of them had J-10 nor A-A and I led all the way. Had no idea what the CO was doing, but he was quickly tagged as Le Poisson du Jour and shall be hunted down in the future.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Menagerie of Tweakers and LLT

Las Vegas is a magnet for the absurd and peculiar. I don't know too many places where you can order a Mai Tai at 4am from a bartender named Sully or find a hooker to take a dump on your chest for $300. Sometimes you can find both at the same bar.

The temptation to gamble at any time makes it difficult for people with feable minds to live here. And if your gambling addiction is coupled with a penchant for liquor or drugs, you're heading down a rabbit hole of misery and despair. Everyone is entitled to one vice and one fetish, especially in this town. Having multiple addictions hampers your decision making ability and a city like Las Vegas was built on those unfortunate souls and their addictions. Maintaining solid play at the tables takes a tremendous amount of concentration and discipline. But being an action junkie and a drunk or a compulsive gambler and a tweaker makes it impossible to win over the long term.

I waited for my seat at Red Rock to be called when a sweaty lanky guy in his 30s walked over to me muttering something about the Jonbenet Ramsey killer.

"They got the wrong person, man. That John Mark Karr guy is evil but he's copping to a hit he didn't even do. Everyone knows it's not him. Everyone knows," he spurted out in three seconds.

"Everyone knows the brother did it," I said.

"He did. And that guy they picked up is the patsy," he quickly babbled as he wiped a a quart of sweat off his face.

"They are giving him three names before he's even tried like all the other serial psychos. John Mark Karr," I added.

He stopped and looked right at me with his shifty eyes. His pupils were dilated as he furiously scratched a rash underneath his unshaven face. He reeked of a slimy chemical aroma and that gave him up. I crossed paths with a tweaker roaming around in a casino ready to piss away every dollar in his pocket before he came down.

Crystal meth sits in your system for up to 6 or 8 hours depending on the purity of the dosage and some folks are up for a week at a time. Unlike other forms of intoxication, inside of five or size hours only 50% of the drug leaves your bloodstream. That leaves hours of tweaking which is that in between phase of being jacked up and crashing.

Some addicts walk around in circles when they are tweaking. Others clean their houses. Some drive for hours on end. Some put all their money in slot machines and Las Vegas is cluttered with those tweakers. You don't see them because they don't like going near the Strip and other touristy areas like the Bellagio Fountains. They lurk in the shadows of downtown or hang out at local's casinos playing single deck blackjack or end up offering to trade their rifle for Grubby's TV after reading his ad on Craigslist.

A tweaker ran into Red Rock itching to play poker. And he sat at my table talking to himself and playing as erratic as he behaved. I couldn't figure out how he scraped together $220 for the buy-in because that guy doesn't look like he's held a job in several months. He probably has been up for over a week without eating or showering.

Deep dark ovals encircled his eyes as he constantly scratched his ashen face. He looked like one of those zombies from The Serpent and the Rainbow and failed to keep eye contact with me when he rambled on about the Jonbenet conspiracy. He couldn't sit still and kept repeating, "The brother. The brother. The brother. He did it."

Smelly jumpy tweaker guy played every hand and raised too frequently. He had the kill button for three or four hands in a row on more than one instance so the stakes were bumped up to 15/30 most of the time he played. He'd lost a ton of chips in a big pot when he overplayed second pair. He'd also picked up a lot of pots playing junk hands and having good ones when the other players didn't give him credit like me for instance when I has A-J and lost to his Big Slick when we both flopped an Ace.

After I lost another big pot to the tweaker and I came to the conclusion that you cannot bluff tourists, tweakers, and Scandinavians... because they will all call you down to the river with nothing.

* * * * *

I took 7th place out of 97 in an EPT rebuy satellite on Poker Stars. I missed a seat to the $450 satellite by 3 spots. The blinds were up super fast that it became a push fest ninety minutes in. I bluffed off all my chips with the Hammer shortly before the rebuy period ended. I flopped a 7 but busted.

I did a rebuy with three minutes to spare. The very next hand I found A-K in the big blind. When four players limped in, I pushed. All four called as my hand held up in a multi-way pot. I had 5K in chips and jumped up to 18th out of 64 by the first break.

I doubled up with J-J against a maniac who moved all in before me with K-8s. I won another pot with K-Js and was 3rd in chips with five tables to go. By the time two tables remained, I was 8th in chips. The only bad beat that I issued all day happened when I cracked A-J with K-J. I flopped a King to survive an all in and moved up as high as 3rd in chips with 13 left. When the final table seated I found myself as one of the short stacks 6th overall. With accelerating blinds I made a move with 9-9 and lost a race to A-10. Out in 7th. Making the final table was worthless.

* * * * *

Of course I didn't forget about Liz Lieu Tuesdays. Last week we had Liz with puppies. This week it's back to the pool.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Tilting Locals, Four Random Hands, and Return of the Poker Grub

"Don't burn the locals." - Hunter
On Saturday afternoon, Grubby and I ate lunch across the street at PT's, a chain of bars with good food which are sprinkled all over Las Vegas. Grubby had a 2 for 1 coupon so we drove across the street because we're too lazy to walk in the sizzling Nevada August sun.

Our server was named Heather and she was waitress cute although nothing special stuck out aside from the tattoos of red stars on both of her hands. We ordered pints of beer while I kept an eye on the Little League World Series. The team from NY played Georgia. It was tied 2-2 in the 6th inning and I had money on my hometown state. I ordered a bacon cheeseburger burger, the pounder special.

"You sure you want it? It's huge. It's a pound of hamburger," she said trying to talk me out of my choice.

"Yes of course. This ain't my first rodeo."

I destroyed the cheeseburger, yet barely touched the fries or nachos. It was actually a double cheeseburger of two patties drenched in Swiss cheese and layered in bacon. Over the hour lunch, Grubby and I freaked out our waitress by using her for a series of prop bets. She had a weird accent. I detected either Vancouver or Minnesota. Grubby had two choices (one city and one state). He said California or Seattle. If either of us were wrong, we were going to pay her the money. Our waitress wrote down where she's from on a cocktail napkin.

"Big Bear, CA," it read.

I tossed Grubby $1 as she rolled her eyes.

Halfway through our meal, she came over and we did another prop bet, this time using her birthday. I picked the dates of 1-10. Grubby had 11-20. And if it was 21-31, we'd give the money to the waitress.

"March 7th," she said as I screamed, "Ship it!"

We also bet on her siblings. I put her on one and Grubby said he got an "only child vibe." We were both wrong. She had two brothers and two sisters. We tossed her the money.

* * * * *

On Friday, I hung out with Miami Don and Sin City Carmen at Red Rock casino. I got there early and played 6/12 with a Half Kill. The game lasted an orbit before it broke up and I had to cash out because they used $2 chips. When the game broke, I sat at 4/8 with a bunch of locals as I waited for them to open an 4-8 Omaha High table.

I lost a huge pot early when I misread my hand. I had a straight and didn't see the flush on the board. Seven people limped in front of me and I called with 5s-7s on the button. I flopped bottom pair and turned a gutshot. I was so happy I hit my straight, that I overlooked the fact that the same card filled in someone's heart flush. It was until I was reraised a second time when I saw the three hearts on the board.

"Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck me," I said as he showed me his flush.

partypokerad.gifI was wearing my glasses too. That's the hard part to stomach. I wasn't paying attention. And yeah, I have glasses now. Shortly before the WSOP began, I lost a hand because I thought I had a flush when I had nothing at all. It wasn't a small pot but the message was clear... my vision was not up to snuff. I noticed over the last few months that I was squinting more to see the cards at the tables when I was covering tournaments. I chalked it up to the fact I wasn't sitting at the table and standing up sometimes another table away. But when I lost the hand by a misread I made a mental note that my vision was slipping.

Halfway through the WSOP I accepted the fact that I need glasses and made a point to getting an eye exam as soon as everything ended. On our way home to Henderson late one night, Change100 handed me her glasses at a stop light. I put them on and it was a different world.

"Holy shit. I can see everything," I said.

Now I only use the specs at the poker tables and while driving. Sorry for the tangent. Back to Carmen and Don...

It was Carmen's day off after working 10 straight days. Working everyday or logging long hours in a party town is tough because you are surrounded by folks on vacation and gambling and getting wasted at every turn. She was looking to let loose and we headed over to Red Rock because along with Green Valley, those are my two favorite casinos. I loathe the Strip these days. It's too crowded, parking is a chore, and traffic is awful.

I played poker for a while before I joined them at the bar near the sportsbook. I watched the second game of the Yankees-Red Sox double dip and drank free beers as I played through the same $20 of video poker. Those video poker machines are much tougher than the ones at the Hooker Bar in the Rio.

We eventually wandered over to the craps tables to throw some dice. Carmen got in first at a super crowded table. By the time Don and I got spaces, she was stuck $100. That was until the lesbian with the mullet stepped up and rolled for almost 20 minutes straight. It started out after I tossed out a chip and said, "Hard eight for the boys!"

The boxman and stick guy thanked me for the impending generosity. Three seconds later, the red dice whizzed by me and danced on the felt before both stopping on four.

"Eight. Hard eight!" screamed the stick man as he pointed to me and said, "Thank you sir."

My favorite lesbian nailed point after point while Don and I kept pressing our bets. Carmen got unstuck inside of minutes as the table livened up. A craps table is the epicenter of excitement and constant action in a casino. The louder we cheer, the bigger the crowds that gather.

One older guy on our end was shooting with his wife. Before he took the dice she said, "Come on Honey. It's time for a Yo!"

After that we kept calling him Honey or a variation there of, like Honeybear or Honeycakes. He also rolled for fifteen minutes and nailed consecutive Yos. Spaceman would have been proud.

To keep the shooter hot, Carmen started showing him her cleavage. He kept rolling and she kept displaying the goodies.

"Why don't I just take off my shirt and just stand here in my bra?" she said. "I'll get more cleavage that way."

She kept the shooter hot while the boxman and pit boss were on mega tilt. By the end of the night, they all knew Carmen's name.

* * * * *

"I'm so addicted. I can't stop," Grubby said on the phone when I woke him up after only an hour of sleep. He was up until 4pm playing slots and crashed for a while before I reminded him about the Sahara tournament.

In honor of Grubby's last night in Las Vegas, we played in the 7pm Sahara tournament. My buddy Friedman joined us along with Grubby's friend Carla and special guests Miami Don and Carmen.

The sleep deprived Grubby outlasted all of us as he went deep taking 13th out of 151 but he still missed the money by three spots. The Sahara MTTs are a donkfest to start then become a pushfest after the second break. But for around $62 it's hard to pass up.

Friedman and I were seated at the same table. He turned quads on one hand. I was card dead and played 3 hands total in the first hour. I limped and saw flops with 2-2 and 3-3. I only won one hand the entire tournament when I doubled up with Big Slick. I busted out by a river suckout after my table broke just before the second break. I flopped two pair and got some guy to push all in on the turn with his two pair. He boated up on the river to send me to the rail.

Around Midnight, Grubby and I decided to grab a bite to eat at Green Valley Ranch. Since we both drove to Sahara, we bet $1 on who would get to GVR first from the Strip. He won by six minutes. In my defense, I took two smoke breaks along the way.

* * * * *

After almost a three month hiatus, I'm back to playing everyday. I got the time to play a slew of poker now that the WSOP ended. Been focusing on live games and online at Party Poker and on Full Tilt where I've been grinding out a reload bonus at 3/6 and 5/10. As of now, I'm stuck my full bonus on FT! But there's still a lot of poker left. Hopefully I'll come out on the healthy side of variance and the numbers will even out for me.

Here are some random hands that for some reason or another I jotted down in my notes over the past week or so.

A-Ko: 5/10 Limit 6-max on Party Poker

I raised UTG and both the blinds called on a non-bad beat jackpot table. I flopped an Ace on a board of A-2-x and bet out. One guy called. The turn was a 2. I bet and he called. The river was a 2. I bet and he called. He flipped over K-2 for quads. I welcome the action with K-2, but I'm stumped to know why he didn't raise me on the turn or river.

A-Ko: NL MTT at Sahara

Blinds were 50/100. Two limped in front of me and I raised to 400 with A-K. I had been playing super tight and that was my first hand that I played for a raise. Everyone folded except one very loose and drunk Haitian with the gigantic stack of chips. The flop was a rainbow with Q-8-2. Drunk Haitian checked and I moved all in for 1200+. It was a slight overbet but I didn't want him to call and suckout since the drunk Haitian was a calling station. I was happy to take it down right there. After a few minutes of indecision, he called with K-5. He had worse than nothing. No redraws and was dominated drawing to three outs. My Big Slick held up and I doubled up to over 4K.

A-A: 3/5 NL at Green Valley Ranch

I'm a Limit guy but my mouth started salivating like Pavlov's frothing dog when I spotted a walking and breathing ATM playing 3/5 NL that Derek referred to as a "Superfish." In his late 40s with nicotine stained fingers, the guy wore mirrored sunglasses a la Sheriff Buford T. Justice from Smokey and the Bandit lore. He sat in the Seat 5 at a 3/5 NL table and we used to see him rebuying all the time in the 2/6 Spread Limit at Excalibur. Calling him a horrible player would be a compliment. He looked like a cab driver who's a part-time pedophile (CDPP).

Grubby likes the 3/5 structure because the squeeze play works at that level if there are a couple of limpers and you can throw out a big bet in late position or from the blinds, unlike the plethora of tourist-centric 1/2 NL games on the Strip.

I found A-A on the button. Four players limped in front of me as I glanced to my left and noticed that both the blinds already had looked at their cards. With the LB intending to muck his cards, I picked up five red chips and tossed them out.

"Raise it up," I said.

Usually 7.5x the BB is a standard big raise in a 1/2NL Strip game. At the 3/5 game, 5x the BB gets people out of the pot. Not in that instance. The big blind and all four limpers called. Flop was ten high with two clubs and I didn't even have to peek at my hole cards because I knew that I had the ace of clubs. The players in early position all checked as CDPP moved all in for roughly the size of the pot. I asked the dealer to count out his stack before I called. An old guy in his 60s with a golf tan wearing a nice Rolex in early position check-raised me. He had me covered and moved all in for about 500 more. I thought for a moment as I took a deep breath and counted up my remaining chips looking for a good reason to fold A-A. I called for the rest of my stack as I said something like, "I hope you don't have a set."

He flipped over A-A. CDPP showed K-10 with the King of clubs. I was free rolling a flush draw with my pocket Aces. The turn and river were both clubs and I dragged the $1K pot. Having the dealer pick up stacks of red chips and place them down in front of you is an orgasmic feeling.

The CDPP left the table and old golfer went on mega-tilt. On the very next hand he moved all in for the rest of his stack with A-10o. He was called by a guy with K-K and the pocket Kings held up.

That's when the old golfer guy berated me for sucking out on him. His angry tirade of insults lasted a couple of minutes as he sat without any chips in front of him.

"That guy (the cab driving part-time pedophile) had you beat too. At least I had Aces," I said. "You gonna rebuy or do you have to get up early for your tee time?"

He pulled out a wad of cash and tossed it on the felt. The dealer called a chip runner over for the rebuy. The old golfer guy continued to needle me. I said nothing back and gave him a sarcastic look like, "OK tough guy."

Over the next ten minutes the old golfer would not shut up as I kept counting my chips that I won from him. That seemed to piss him off even more. The dealer had to say something to him and he snapped at the dealer. I decided to leave since I doubled up inside of two hours. Plus Superfish aka CDPP left and getting yelled at by a bitter unlucky poker player is not fun.

"I'm not going to sit here and be verbally abused by you," I said as I racked up his chips. "That's what my mother is for."

Ks-10s: 6/12 Limit with Half Kill at Red Rock

This one should be subtitled, "Never slowplay pocket aces especially in kill pots." I won two straight hands and had the kill button at the cut off as the blinds bumped up to 9/18. With two limpers in the kill pot including both blinds, I raised my option from the kill button because in kill games the kill button acts last pre-flop.

Everyone called my raise in a five-way pot. An ace of spade flopped with two small cards. Everyone checked to me. I bet and everyone called. The turn was a small spade as I picked up a nut flush redraw. Everyone checked and I fired out. Two players called including the big blind and Seat 5. The river filled in my flush. Big blind checked, Seat 5 bet, I raised, the big blind called, and Seat 5 raised to three bets. When I made it 4 bets to go, the big blind moaned as he reluctantly called and Seat 5 finally called.

Big blind (who looked liked NY Knicks assistant coach Brendan Malone) showed A-A. The guy in Seat 5 showed a Nine high flush. I had the nuts as the dealer shoved two handfuls of chips my way. Brendan Malone played that hand terribly, slowplaying pre-flop and on the flop. If he re-raised me preflop and fired out on the flop, I would have mucked. Instead he tried to get fancy in at a limit table in a local's casino. That hand opened up the flood gates for Malone, because during the next two orbits he painstakingly listed and described every single bad beat he took over the past week.

"You should start a blog," I suggested.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

2006 WSOP Black and White Photos

I took all of these at the Rio's Amazon Ballroom on the tournament floor of the WSOP. All of these have been posted before, but this is the first time that I pulled together my favorite B&Ws in one photo dump. You can click on the photos to see an enlarged view.

DoubleAs flips me the bird

Evil Otis

The dealers

Johnny Chan


CK Hua and Tanya

WSOP Shot of the Day (7.20.06)



Snake from Wicked Chops Poker

The floor


Mad Genius

TJ daydreaming about "boxcars"

Minneapolis Jim Meehan

Jason in his bathrobe

Amarillo Slim

Birds on the rail

The action unfolds

Don't forget to stop by and check out Flipchip's 2006 WSOP Photos.

Friday, August 18, 2006

SoaP and Pai Gow

I saw a midnight viewing of Snakes on a Plane with Change100 at Sunset Station. The audience was half crocked, a little bit rowdy, and the rest were tweakers.

Here's a quick synopsis. There were snakes on a plane. The snakes on a plane killed a lot of passengers. Samuel L. Jackson killed a lot of snakes on the plane. The snakes bit a chick's nipple and a guy's junk. The token black guy from SNL saves the day. There's a Thai hooker joke too. People gave Samuel L. Jackson a standing ovation when he said his catch phrase, "I'm tired of these motherfuckin' snakes on this mother fuckin' plane."

Go see it for yourselves. And get either very drunk or super baked before you go. It's everything what's great and horrible about Hollyweird wraped inside of an 1 hr 40 min film. And don't forget to smoke a lot of weed before you go.

The flick cost me $83 to see. I had about an hour to kill before the movie start time, so I played about 45 minutes of Pai Gow. I got kicked in the junk and at one point I ran into A-Joker as the dealer's low hand and J-10-9-8-7 as the dealer's high hand. By the end of the session, I was playing two hands at once channeling my inner Otis while drinking SoCo.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Good Causes: For Peyton and the Paul Hannum No Limit Hold'em Charity Tournament

First of all, I encourage all bloggers to post about For Peyton. In the insane cut throat world of poker, it's refreshing to see people step up and donate their time and money towards a worthy cause. Stop by and check out the items up for auction.

Secondly, WPT photographer Paul Hannum passed away during the last week of the WSOP. His appendix burst and he died in the operating room in LA. I only knew Paul in a professional sense. My first encounter with him was when he yelled at me for walking in the middle of his shot when I covered my first WPT event. It was totally my fault and since then I'm extra aware of any photographers on the floor when I'm covering tournaments.

Since then, we've had a professional relationship and Paul was one of the nicest people that worked on the WPT. All of those winners photos I took of WPT champions took place under the direction of Paul. Since he was the official WPT photogrpaher, he got the initial shot and made sure the rest of the photographers got their shots before he asked the players to pose differently (holding up the money) or getting other people in the shot like Courtney Friel or the unlucky guy who came in second place.

Gavin Smith is arranging a charity poker tournament will be held at the upcoming WPT Legends of Poker tournament.
Paul Hannum Chairty Tournament
When: Tuesday, August 29th at 7pm
Buy-in: $1,000
Where: Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens, CA

Announced Prizes:
FIRST PRIZE: 25K Seat WPT Championship Event at the Bellagio

SECOND PRIZE: Paradise Poker Conquest Prize Package (May 12-18th, 2007 Atlantis Resort, Bahamas which includes $5200 seat to the Conquest of Paradise Island Main event, 6 nights accommodations at Atlantis, plus $1K cash to your Paradise account)

THIRD PRIZE: Seat into the WPT Invitational
You can play for a shot at winning those cool prizes. All monies will go directly to Paul's fiancee Sarah Percy and their unborn baby girl which is due in October. Here's a chance to play with pros to help raise money for Paul's unborn baby girl.

If you are unable to play in the event and would like to donate some money, you can stop by for info on how you can help.

Please help spread the word about Paul Hannum. "He genuinely loved and played the game - he bluffed with the best of them!"

If you would like to donate prizes for this event please shoot an email to Also if you want to play in the event, send her an email to RSVP for the tournament.

Thanks for spreading the word about For Peyton and Paul Hannum.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Inside the WSOP: Disgruntled Supervisor Speaks Out

I've been involved in an email exchange with a suit from Harrah's who descrbes him/herself as a disgruntled supervisor. Here's the latest email that I got. I asked them if they could confirm the rumor that Jamie Gold tipped the dealers $1 million as he promised. I aslo asked about their theory on the WSOP extra chips controversy.

I have not talked to anyone that could confirm a tip or not from Mr Gold. But the dealers get their final toke checks on Thursday so I will know before then. I find it interesting that you knew the figure quoted without asking. If he did, man did I pick the wrong side of the coin to work this year. Oh well, I can count on the good karma for being there til the end. I'll have to keep you posted on this.

As far as the extra chips. I don't buy the skimming off the top theory. For only one reason. The paperwork involved for the Harrah's corp is staggering. The single table satellite mgr, received a report with 114 (114 is not a typo) errors from the auditing dept after one night for example. Every form, count, registration etc was reviewed by 4-5 people. Just witnessing the payout procedure should be enough to convince one of that. Getting paid was such a pain in the ass, it took 4 people to get you to the window. And at bubble time and right after... forget about it...

The final chip counts for the daily final tables varied from short as much as 60k to over as much as 40k. The chip control was one area where there was little or no control. But with the number of events, chips, days, entries, etc I' not sure of a good way to control them better so they don't get introduced later. The easy solution is different chips for the Main Event, but that is so easy, it would never happen.

There was never more than a 10k chip out except for late in the main event, so it would take 400 5k or 2,000 1k chips to alter the count as much as it was. And that amount of missing chips would for sure turn up in the balancing of the chips on hand vs those in play at any given time. You always lose some chips as souvenirs but not that many. Matter of fact, some have been on eBay already.

Color ups, and dealer mistakes are for sure part of it. There was not a night where the color up didn't get fucked up somehow, usually by the same 2 people. Even by myself once. Even with the dealers watching every move as I required it is an easy mistake to make at times. Or a shift supe would not do a scheduled color up, "because it would give the players less chips to play with." Duh! no shit, kinda the point. Less chips = more gamble. But it also leaves more chips on the tables for possible theft or whatever.

But then, the same man added a stack on the 2nd day of a tournament at the fucking World Series of Poker, and then did it again later and kept his job, sigh. But given that I had several dealers replaced with others because they could not count or cut chips, counting mistakes were common.

I think there were a lot of dead or unpaid stacks that were left in play and blinded off. The control for that was poor as well. I'm not positive that all 10 stacks at every table on every first day were accounted for in the final tally of stacks vs 10k received. this is something that could have been ignored or just plain covered up, don't know which one.

Profit mongers they are for sure....... I wish them luck finding quality people with out some changes for next year.

Disgrunted Supervisor
I admire this person's courage to tell their side of the story. Thanks for all your input.

By the way... I'm looking for WSOP dealers who would like to anonymously share their horror stories. Please shoot me an email and I'll publish those too.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Wayward Yearning, Veggie Prop Bets, and Liz Lieu Tuesdays

"You guys left and didn''t say good-bye!" screamed Kary, one of our favorite Tilted Kilt waitresses.

The WSOP ended on Friday morning and as much as we were all glad it was over, we missed the people we saw and hung out with everyday. Like my fellow bloggers. And the slutty Milwaukee's best girls. And the British and Irish bloggers (especially Snoopy!) And the creepy security guard that kept checking out my junk when I'd walk by. And then there were the Tilted Kilt waitresses.

The waitresses at the Tilted Kilt also missed our group, as much as we missed them. Like little angels in tiny plaid kilts and exposed mid-drifts, they brought us cold pints of beer to help ease the pain. Kary wanted to say good-bye to everyone and never got a chance. One day we showed up and came in every fuckin' day afterwards for seven weeks... then pooof!

The Tilted Kilt was the new Hooker Bar.

"And you can't say Hooker Bar anymore," Kary warned me. "It's a crime knowing about the location of it and not reporting it."

"Guilty as charged," I said.

The Hooker Bar was my escape during the 2005 WSOP. This past several weeks, the Tilted Kilt became an oasis away from the insanity of the WSOP. The waitresses were hot and cool and the food was decent. Plus they usually had on the Yankees game.

I ended up meeting my buddy Coach at the Tilted Kilt for dinner on Monday. Coach is the guy who writes Coach's Corner segments on the Tao of Poker. he's also a regular at the Blue Parrot homegame back in NYC. He was staying at the Rio and in town for a few days. He suggested dinner at the Kilt. I thought my last Kilt trip for the year went down last week when we brought Michael Craig along since he was running out material to write about and he chose me as his latest subject.

If you haven't read Michael Craig's blog specifically the entry called Mayor of the Tilted Kilt, then you need to read it. This is my favorite part for obvious reasons:
We had just sat down when the hottest waitress in the place - and they are all hot - said to Pauly, "I read your blog last night. I love your writing."

The other bloggers were howling in protest. One said, "Jesus, I can practically feel Pauly's erection poking me in the leg." As I wrote this down, another said, "Don't write that. It'll be all over the web. His head will get even bigger."

The waitress went on to say that she was reading this at 5 AM and she was "pretty hammered," but that didn't seem to diminish Pauly's enthusiasm about the compliment, or any of our collective disgust, for that matter... More
And yes, that exchange put Wil and Otis on mega-tilt.

Anyway, I met Coach for dinner on Monday and Kary was happy to see us. In an ironic twist of weirdness, Wil happened to call me just as we were sitting down. I gave Kary the phone and she chided Wil for leaving town without saying good-bye.

I've been around and traveled the world with a lot of interesting, funny, and entertaining people in my life... but the group of folks I bonded with the past seven weeks are in their own class. I'd gut salmon in a frigid Alaskan fisheries seven days a week or ten hours a day (without piss breaks) if it meant I got to be with these people again.

The WSOP was brutal but the people kept me sane and entertained and happy on the tough, sad, dark days. The last seven weeks was like summer camp for some of us. Wil described it like shooting on a movie on location and the camaraderie that comes with working in such close quarter together. Michalski kind of described it like being a war reporter or being a group of plane crash survivors.

To me hanging out with the WSOP it's like attending an AA meeting. Everyone has a worried and hungover look about them, while most of them need spiritual guidance after living a bankrupt existence for one day too long. Sometimes the media room reminded me an Irish wake. Everyone's raging drunk, talking too loud, and telling wild stories about a dead guy while others are in the corner sobbing uncontrollably.

* * * * *

I wish I was the puppy!

Even though the WSOP is over, I'm still loyal to making Tuesdays... Liz Lieu Tuesdays. Here's Liz Lieu with some puppies.

* * * * *

I won $100 from a food prop bet. Sunday night was my buddy Friedman's birthday, so we went out for sushi. At some point, JW offered me $300 to eat some cabbage that was in my soup. I wouldn't do it for less than $1000. He bumped it up to $500 and I was so close to calling... but folded. I hate cabbage.

JW knows my weakness for proposition gambling. He picked up a piece of broccoli. For $100 he wanted me to eat it. I obliged and ate the entire thing without spitting it out or drinking water.

"Ship it!" I said.

"It's healthier than a Keno crayon," said Change100 as she videotaped the entire event.

$100 is $100 and I was happy to have it. But I'm still stuck for the WSOP in food prop bets. A couple weeks earlier I lost $100 to Change100 because I couldn't eat a small plate of veggies. I also donked off $400 on the now infamous Otis Keno crayon bet that's made Otis famous in exotic places as far away as Sweden and Hoboken.

* * * * *

I haven't played much online poker the past three months. My time on Party Poker over the last 100 days hasn't been serious. I'd play for 10-15 minutes at a time. I withdrew everything on all the other sites except for like a grand to tinker around the aquarium at Party.

Now it's time to reload. Full Tilt has a reload bonus which is perfect timing. It lasts until August 16th. You can get 50% up to $300 which means if you reload for $600 you get a $300 bonus. They release their bonus in $20 intervals.

I also did a reload (no bonus) on PokerStars to play some EPT satellites and I'm considering playing in a WCOOP event or two. Derek told me about one of the WCOOP satellites he played in this weekend. I stopped playing online tournaments because they were draining my bankroll and I'm a profitable Limit Hold'em and PLO cash game player. But I'm gonna play a few NL tournaments for fun and to mix up the monotony of grinding away at the limit tables.

The WCOOP schedule features Razz and HORSE. Yes, it's true PokerStars is now Razz and Horse friendly during the WCOOP.
September 16: Razz ($200+$15)
September 17: NL Hold 'em ($500+$30)
September 18: PL Omaha (rebuys) ($300+$20)
September 19: NL Hold 'em Match Play ($200+$15)
September 20: Limit Omaha High/Low ($500+$30)
September 21: NL Hold 'em (rebuys) ($200+$15)
September 22: Limit Hold 'em ($200+$15)
September 23: HORSE ($200+$15)
September 23: PL Hold 'em ($500+$30)
September 24: NL Hold 'em ($1,000+ $50)
September 25: Seven Card Stud ($300+$20)
September 26: PL Omaha8 ($300+$20)
September 27: PL Hold'em ($300+$20)
September 28: Seven Card Stud High/Low ($500+$30)
September 29: PL Omaha ($500+$30)
September 30: HORSE ($5,000+$200)
September 30: Limit Hold'em ($1,000+$50)
October 1: NL Hold 'em ($2,500+$100)
I'm thinking about playing the $500 PL Omaha and the $300 Stud if my schedule is open during those times. I'm also considering backing Derek in the Razz event. The Rooster considers Derek and F Train as the two best online Razz players in the NYC tri-state area.

I played only live poker a handful of times during the WSOP. I sat in a mixed games table at MGM (mainly 3/6 HORSE) with some bloggers that included April, Amy, Jay Greenspan, Jen Leo, Tim Lavalli, BJ Nemeth, Ryan, Wil, Otis, Tuscaloosa Johnny, and Brian Raymer (Greg's brother). Even Miami Don and Carmen stopped by. I forgot how much I love Stud and was reminded about my faulty vision. I had a tough time seeing cards dealt to Seats 2 and 3 during Stud and Razz.

I played NL at the MGM and at Mandalay Bay with mixed results. I had K-K cracked by a junk hand. I knew I should have played my flopped set fast, but I chose to slow play and I got felted for trying to outwit a tourist. MB now spreads a juicy 2/4 NL game in addition to my favorite game on the Strip... 4/8 Limit with a 1/2 Kill.

Grubby returns to Las Vegas this weekend to clean up the rest of the apartment and box up a few remaining items. I'm pretty sure he wants to play poker one last time together.

* * * * *

Take a peek at Otis' caption contest of the picture below. I'm gonna pick out my favorite caption and give that person $5.

Jen Browning snapped that photo while Wil and I covered the final three tables at the WSOP.

* * * * *

Check out Flipchip's 2006 WSOP Photos and don't forget about For Peyton.

Monday, August 14, 2006

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. - The Serenity Prayer
I glanced in the rearview mirror and I saw the outline of the Las Vegas Strip. The Luxor's light was not visible because it was 6am and the sun slowly crept over the mountains. I smiled. How could I not? Since June of 2005, I spent 24% of my life living in Las Vegas covering the World Series of Poker. As I sped off towards Henderson, the shrinking image of the Strip in the mirror was a welcomed reminder that the gig was over. Just a couple hours earlier Jamie Gold won $12 million. The WSOP was complete and that meant I finally got to go home.

Think about what I saw over seven weeks. ESPN crams that into dozens of hours of poker programming. That's the exciting stuff. I had to sit through the boring shit (do you even know who won 1,500 Omaha Hi/Lo?), the drama (dealers quiting on the spot), the excitement (Chip Reese winning $50K Horse), the hype (insert Jeffrey Pollock), the bitterness (see the faces of the red badge media), and now the post-WSOP hungover lingers after a 46 day bender. I actually feel a little lost by not driving to the Rio every morning.

Living at Treasure Island was tough. Staying in any casino for more than a week sucks you into looming suicidal tendencies of the Plathian sort. You always hear about the old woman from Arizona who won a $1 million jackpot, but you never hear about the lonely guy who leaps to his death after one last bender in Las Vegas, or the shifty-eyed serial killer who shacks up at the Redneck Riviera with a transvestite hooker before he offs himself with a nail gun to the temple.

For the last two weeks of the WSOP, the first human interaction I'd see when I stepped off the elevator was a blue haired 80 year-old chain smoking grandma. She'd be sitting a row of slot machines and pumping her entire social security check in a Wheel of Fortune machine.

That's the first reminder from the unlucky fallen angel that has the troublesome assignment of steering me away from danger in order to get back in the good graces of the Almighty. I can hear her whispering into my ears the names of six of the Seven Deadly Sins. As I take my first wobbly steps onto the casino floor, temptation surrounds me everywhere. Behind every slot machine. Behind every deck of cards. Behind every rattle of the dice. Behind every "all you can eat buffet." Behind every stripper pole. Behind ever seat at the Hooker Bar and underneath every kilt of the waitresses at the Tilted Kilt. Depravity, decadence, and desperation are within my grasp.

It's so easy to fall in this town. And when people fall, they fall hard. And fast. God's angels are not here to catch you. They stay the fuck out of the Las Vegas valley. Only the Mormons on a mission dare enter Sin City and most of them get hooked on Keno or crystal meth before they head back to Utah.

Just walk through the airports and look around. You'll discover that the people waiting in line to board JetBlue flight #199 to JFK are cluttered with losers. Peek into their souls. Feel what they feel. The hangovers. The indigestion. The sexual indiscretions. The losses. The bad beats. The bad luck. The foul stench of failure keeps the lights shining and the table games going and the free cocktails coming.

Jamie Gold won the WSOP championship and I can't tell if that's good or bad for poker. A lot of folks don't like Jamie Gold or what he represnts (BoDog and Hollyweird). I gathered this from the word on the street, from the talk in the hallways at the Rio, from the small sample of emails and comments I've gotten since Gold won, plus the fact he hired body guards to follow him around due to threats of physical violence. Gold might be the first world champion since the poker boom started that the public might vehemently hate. And Americans love to hate someone. Ask Martha Stewart, Barry Bonds, George Bush, or the French. Without hate it would be hard for most of us to get out of bed in the morning.

Regardless, Gold's win will ensure both me and my friends in the media a job next year. Thanks to Gold, I have job security through next year's WSOP. I can take off the next four months to travel and write, and still get a gig for the 2007 WSOP... which is going to be bigger, more badass, and 1000% more commercialized. The suits made promises to have nightly shootouts in the parking lot, naked models turning tricks in the port-o-poddies, plus a fast-food burger chain will take over all of the catering and serve free McSandwiches to all the players provided they were a McHat or McShirt if they make a McFinal table. And they agreed to force feed Zoloft to all of their dealers next year. They won't complain as much and promise not riot when they get stiffed in their paychecks.

Seriously, some of the online poker sites paid up to $250,000 on models this year. That's where your rake went... to pay some ditzy blonde with fake breasts (that cost more than your bankroll) to stand around freezing their nipples off while they pass out free poker chips. I mean how seriously am I supposed to take the WPA when they have a booth in the hallway of the Rio a few feet away from the Sapphire Lounge strippers?

The WSOP was a farce. Poker is not a sport. It's a cheap thrill. Playing in the WSOP main event used to mean something. Now it's as common as a tourist scoring weed in the airport in Montego Bay or flying to Paris to take the same picture of yourself standing in front of the Eiffel Tower than eighty fuckin' billion other uncreative souls took. Online poker sites sent over 4,000 players to the WSOP. Half those guys can't even balance their checkbooks or hold a steady job. They had no business playing in the most prestigious tournament in the world.

Yet they flocked to the Rio like branded pilgrims heading to Mecca. The most religious piety that poker players will undertake is their own personal Hajj to play in the WSOP sponsored by PokerStars, Party Poker, Full Tilt, Paradise Poker... dot net, of course.

Alas, there's nothing I can do about this insanity, aside from think about the good old days, when men were men and poker players packed heat at the tables as they sat with their backs to the wall in a cramped smoky back room at the Horseshoe. You'd find Doyle Brunson chomping on a cigar, flinging around chips and enticing Johnny Moss to play back at him as Puggy Pearson told racist jokes and they sure as hell didn't drink Beast Light. Those memories are warm fuzzy black and white photos. Memories evaporate as do the halcyon years which represented an era so close in the mind, but very far away in real time.

Yeah, that's back in the day when disco ruled the airwaves, our current President used to be a raging cokehead, and when the WSOP Championship used to be a three table SNG.

Poker's popularity is not fading. It's a destructive tidal wave heading to every house and apartment complex in suburbia. We haven't even seen the top of the forty-story wave as it keeps rising. It's going to hit as far as China and Africa. And when it does, the flood is going to destroy a lot of people lives, fortunes, and dreams.

For now, we're all riding the wave and as much as the dark side sends me spinning into an abyss of self-destruction, the rush is still hard to shake. Like a monkey on my back, poker has me hooked. At least for one more year.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Jamie Gold Wins 2006 WSOP Championship

2006 WSOP Champion: James "Q-9" Gold
Photo courtesy of Flipchip

Yes, after a 14 hour final table, a Hollyweird agent is the new world champion of poker. Here's the final hand:
3:40am... Recent Elimination: Jamie Gold busted Paul Wasicka and we have a new WSOP Champion. Gold limped and Paul Wasicka checked his big blind option. On a flop of Qc-8h-5h, Wasicka bet 1.5 million and Gold moved all in. Wasicka called with 10-10. Gold showed Q-9 aka "The Gapped Toothed Hooker." The turn was an ace and a 4. Gold's Q-9 held up and he became the 2006 WSOP Champion winning $12 million. Paul Wasicka finished in second place and won $6,102,499.

Final Table Results:
1: Jamie Gold $12,000,000
2: Paul Wasicka $6,102,499
3: Michael Binger $4,123,310
4: Allen Cunningham $3,628,513
5: Rhett Butler $3,216,182
6: Richard Lee 2,803,851
7: Doug Kim $2,391,520
8: Erik Friberg $1,979,189
9: Dan Nassif $1,566,858
After his victory, Gold called his dad to tell him that he won. His father has ALS and was sleeping. He said that his winnings will help his father out.

Here are some Jamie Gold quotes:
"I played the best poker of my life. I feel real fortunate that the cards came my way."

"If I was going to lose, people were going to have to get really lucky on me. When I had all these chips, I knew that people would have to get lucky to take me out."

"I figured out everyone except the last player, Paul Wasicka. Paul was awesome. I was fortunate to get the hand to take him out. I play the players. I don't play my cards. I get in there with pretty crappy cards most of the time."

"I got lucky."

"This never would have happened without these amazing people who love for me and care for me. I have the greatest group of people around me. There's no question that this would not have happened without them. I'm very needy. I needed massages, water, blueberries, and food. They kept me sane, happy, and focused. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. Not because of winning the championship, but because of them. These people believed in me for a very long time."

"Blueberries are brain food. I love to eat them. They make me feel good. Blueberries were probably the reason why I won."

"I left a message on my dad's answering machine. I hope he wakes up to find out that I made him really proud."
Flipchip posted winner's photos post over at Las Vegas and Poker Blog. I'll have a recap soon for here and my newest client... a Swedish newspaper!

Take a peek at some things that have already been published:
Jamie Gold Wins 2006 WSOP Championship (
Golden Moment: WSOP Championship Timeline (Fox Sports)
Day 8 Final Table Recap (Fox Sports)
Congrats to Jamie Gold. He played much better than people will give him credit for.

That's it for now. Thanks to everyone for the support and putting up with my madness for the past two months. Special thanks to the bloggers who linked up my coverage. There are too many of you to name right now. Thanks again to Paradise Poker, Poker Prof, Flipchip, Otis and PokerStars, ESPN, Fox Sports, and even Harrah's for not kicking me out. Thanks to April for the milkshake on Thursday which kept me off of mega-tilt.

Las Vegas nearly killed me for a second year in a row, but I survived the 2006 WSOP without losing any limbs, going to prison, or getting my badge revoked. I'm going to go to sleep for a couple of hours.

Now, go read my live blogging updates of the final table and feel free to re-read the last two months of WSOP coverage.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

2006 WSOP Main Event Championship Final Table

It's 9:50am and I arrived at the media room at the Rio to get ready for one of the biggest moments in poker history. Someone is going to win $12 million and become the next poker superstar. That person's life is going to change as every degenerate gambler on the planet is going to group that person together with like likes of Moneymaker, Raymer, Hachem, Brunson, Chan, Hellmuth, Jesus, and Ungar.
Quick Links and Stats:
Flipchip's 2006 WSOP Photos
PokerStars Blog
My Sponsor: Paradise Poker

Remaining Players: 9
Chipleader: Jamie "Ari" Gold $26.5M
Avg. Stack: $9.7M
Number of Entries: 8,773
Total Prize Money: $82,512,162
Harrah's Cut: $5,217,838

Money Payouts:
1 - $12,000,000
2 - $6,102,499
3 - $4,123,310
4 - $3,628,513
5 - $3,216,182
6 - $2,803,851
7 - $2,391,520
8 - $1,979,189
9 - $1,566,858

Final Table Starting Chip Counts:
1 Jamie Gold (Malibu, CA) 26.5M
2 Allen Cunningham (Las Vegas, NV)17.7M
3 Erik Friberg (Stockholm, Sweden) 11.82M
4 Richard Lee (San Antonio, TX) 9.725M
5 Paul Wasicka (Westiminster, CO) 7.97M
6 Doug Kim (Hartsdale, NY) 6.77M
7 Rhett Butler (Rockville, MD) 4.815M
8 Michael Binger (Atherton, CA) 3.14M
9 Dan Nassif (St. Louis, MO) 2.84M
There is one big named pro left... Allen Cunningham. Flipchip picked him to win befre the WSOP began and I told him, "You're fuckin' crazy. No way is a pro going to win this year."

Flipchip shrugged his shoulders and smiled, "We'll find out soon enough."

That soon enough is now. After 46 days of non-stop poker we've arrived at the single most over-hyped moment in poker. ESPN is even televising this on PPV without hole cams. Sure someone is going to win $12 million tonight, but that's just another story inside of a full book I'm gonna write someday about the 2006 WSOP.

partypokerad.gifIt's been a wild ride the past six weeks with players getting robbed in the parking lot, media reps getting screwed by the man, dealers quitting and walking out on the spot, players bitchin and moaning about the juice, models and strippers running rampant in the hallways, Harrah's selling out the WSOP to the soul-suckers in corporate America, crashing a Mexican Wedding, Otis eating Keno crayons, monkeys trying to get into the WSOP, Bill Chen winning two bracelets, a 21 year-old kid Jeff Madsen coming out of nowhere to win 2 as well, Phil Hellmuth geting his 10th (after three tries), Andy Bloch and Chip Reese playing that marathon heads-up battle for the $50K HORSE bracelet, Joe Hachem getting kicked in the junk on three of the worst beats I've ever seen, scantily clad waitresses at the Tilted Kilt, Michalski and I comparing bald spots, Foiled Coup and I checking out all the hot chicks in the hospitality suites, finding the Tao of Poker's Blonde of the Day and Pothead of the Day, my buddies Stormy, Tuscaloosa Johnny and Ryan cashing in the main event, the online poker sites bidding ridiculous sums of money to get their shirts and hats on final table players, Liz Liu Tuesdays, Irish players threatening to boycott CardPlayer and ESPN, European pros wicked pissed at the lack of respect and coverage, sweating Greg Raymer for 4.5 straight hours, "I love Wicked Chops Poker!", checking out Jen Leo and John Caldwell's mansion, groping Amy Calistri in the hallways, playing "Clown or Cowboy?" with Otis, watching Andy Black play cash games at 3am, Texas Dolly surrounded by a bevy of Doyle's Room girls, getting stopped in the hallway by fans asking me, "Where's the hooker bar?", Wil Wheaton's wife pointing out hookers to me at the Hooker Bar, losing a $100 prop bet with Change100 because I couldn't eat a plate of veggies, meeting Jeff Pulver, drinking screwdrivers with Otis at 2:30pm, eating cheeseburgers with CJ, driving to work every morning with CC, hearing Mad's amazing story that she found out regarding the two brothers who found their long lost father through PokerStars, talking books with Storms, Jen from Blobde Poker taking a nap underneath one of the tables in the media room, plugging Jay Greenspan's new book, getting stories and gossip from Tim Lavalli, calming down Spaceman after he wanted to drop kick one of his co-workers, passing out at a Pai Gow table, and pissing on the hood of a Honda (thanks for reminding me April). And lastly, I'm still waiting for Snoopy to get me a chocolate milkshake!

And yes, there's more. But that's for another time.

Thanks to everyone who linked up the Tao of Poker's coverage over the past six weeks. I appreciate the pimpage and support, especially your kind emails and comments and text messages and phone calls of encouragement.

* * * * * Semi-Live Blogging Updates * * * * *

11:11am... I'm here to pimp a few things, like For Peyton. There's new stuff up for auction.
Antonio Esfandiari Photo
Michael Gracz Photo
Erick Lindgren Photo
T.J. Cloutier Photo
Carlos Mortensen Photo
Daniel Negreanu Photo
David Williams Photo
Layne Flack Jersey and Photo
Kenna James Cowboy Hat
Card Player Package
Hellmuth DVD Package
11:30am... The final table starts at 2pm and spectators are already lining up to get in to watch. The media room is filled with people I don't know and have never seen before. They decided to show up on the last day and eat all the free food in the media room.

11:35am... I decided to leave just the last two previous posts up on the Tao of Poker in order for the page to load faster for some of you. If you want to read more WSOP coverage, click on my August 2006, July 2006, and June 2006 archives.

11:40am... Take a peek at something from my buddy, a former lawyer turned NYC comedian Charles Star. He introduced me to the Blue Parrot homegame a few years ago. He has a video clip of his comic routine on his MySpace page. Take a peek at his cornrows photos.

12:01pm... WSOP Final Table Bios: Let's meet the final table players!
Seat 1: Richard Lee (San Antonio, TX) $11.82M
Lee is 55 years old. He has the hottest railbirds out of all the final table players. His wife and his daughters are all beautiful and I expect them to get a lot of camera time. He's originally from Hawaii and this is his second WSOP. He has never cashed before aside from the 2006 main event. His best career finish was 12th at the 2005 Grand Slam of Poker in LA. He's been retired for eight years and his wife was sick of him moping around the house, so he took up poker. His hobby landed him at the final table. His deceased father taught him how to play when he was a young kid. He admitted, "My father would be smiling on me right now."

Richard Lee

Seat 2: Erik Friberg (Stockholm, Sweden) $9.605M
Friberg is a 23 year old online pro and part of the Scandi invasion. His home country of Sweden is the most successful country in the percentage of players who made the money in the Main Event. Friberg is the 2005 Swedish Poker Challenge Champion. His nickname is "Lilar" which roughly translated in Swedish is "gambler." Emma, one of the writers from Sweden, said that he's writing a poker blog on Expressen, a nightly Swedish newspaper. "The citizens of Sweden are hoping for a victory," she said.

Seat 3: Paul Wasicka (Westminster, CO) $7.97M
The former bartender and restaurant manager was born in Dallas, TX and now resides in Colorado. He's been playing for two years and took 14th place in a NL event earlier this year.

Seat 4: Dan Nassif (St. Louis, MO) $2.6M
Nassif is an ad exec from St. Louis who took his summer vacation to play in the WSOP. He had to ask his boss at the Riverfront Times for a few extra days off. He banned his friends and family from sweating him at the WSOP unless he made the final table. I guess they'll be there today.

Seat 5: Allen Cunningham (Las Vegas, NV) $17.77M
The 29 year-old Cunningham is the most successful player at the final table. This is his 15th WSOP final table. He's won 4 bracelets: Stud (2001), Deuce-to-Seven Lowball (2002), and NL (2005 and 2006). He's part of the original "young guns of poker" including Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Layne Flack, and John Juanda. Cunningham is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet in a game full of liars and assholes. He's Flipchip's pick to win it all. I'm rooting for AC today.

Allen Cunningham

Seat 6: Michael Binger (Atherton, CA) $3.14M
The 29 year old is a part-time pro who wants to be a theoretical physicist. He recently earned a PhD from Stanford. This is his second WSOP. He took 6th at the $1,500 NL event and won over $100K a few weeks ago.

Seat 7: Doug Kim (Hartsdale, NY) $6.77M
Doug Kim is a 22 year old recent Duke grad who will be working in the financial district in NYC. He's roomies and friends with Jason Strasser, who's one of the up and coming online pros. Even his best friend said, "I never thought he'd make it this far. What a trip." This is Doug's first ever cash in any live tournament. He's a Yankees fan too.

Seat 8: Jamie Gold (Malibu, CA) $25.6M
The Hollyweird agent to the stars (James Gandolfini and Felicity Huffman) is Johnny Chan's agent too. He's a TV producer and this is his 15th cash in a major tournament. He's been the chipleader the last three days and is trying to win this for his ailing father who has Lou Gehrig's Disease.

James "Ari" Gold
Photo courtesy of Flipchip

Seat 9: Rhett Butler (Rockville, MS) $4.815
Besides the weird name, Butler is a 44-year old insurance agent from Maryland. He's married with three kids and his friends bought him into the WSOP. He's been paying poker for more than two decades and this is his first live tournament.
12:50pm... I wasted 15 minutes of my life watching Jeffrey Pollak's press conference when he talked about how great of a job he did this year. When asked about all the gripes about Harrah's and the WSOP he said, "We can't please all of the people, all of the time." We should have interviewed the stack of $12 million. That's why we're here... for the cash. Not to see some suit talk about the WSOP.

1:00pm... Michael Craig said that there's $2.41M in extra chips on the final table. Where did they come from? Some are dead stacks like Minh Nguyen's snafu. Some are color ups. And some are chips stolen from other tournaments and introduced into the main event.

1:20pm... Bouncin Round the Media Room: Michael Craig is sitting with us in media row. Two dudes from Aerosmith are in the media room practicing the National Anthem. Too bad it's not Joe Perry or Steven Tyler. It's the other two guys in the band. I asked them if they were going to segue into an accapella Sweet Emotion. They looked at me like I was talking in Sputnik.

1:50pm... Bouncin Round the Media Room: Johnny Chan wandered into the media room. He said, "Hey Captain!" to Michael Craig.

2:01pm... Jack Effel announced all the players. Paul Wasicka had some of the loudest railbirds. There are Swedish fans rooting on Erik Friberg waving Sweden's flag. The bleachers are packed with fans, family members, and spectators. The media is stuck in the back as photogrpahers were snapping away photos. I must say I got goose bumps when they introduced the final players. For the first time at the WSOP this year, the room is filled with energy and electricty. It still doesn't compare to The Horseshoe last year, but the Amazon room is alive.

2:12pm... Cards are in the air. Joe Hachem said, "Shuffle up and deal." We're on Level 32. Blinds are $80K/$160K with $20K antes. There's 1:40 left in this level.

2:29pm... Recent Elimination: On the fifth hand of the final table, Jamie Gold opened with a raise/ Nassif popped him for a re-raise of 700K and Gold flat called. Dan Nassif moved all in on the flop with A-K on a board of 2-3-5. Gold quickly called with 2-2 after he flopped a set. Nassif caught an ace on the turn, and had outs for a Wheel chop but didn't get help on the river. Nassif is out in 9th place. Nassif won $1,566,858. Nassif should have pushed all in preflop because Gold would have folded his 2-2... so Gold said. Jamie Gold busts another player.

2:40pm... Doug Kim moved all in on the river on a board of 7-J-2-5-Q. And Gold folded.

2:45pm... I miss BJ Nemeth's hand to hand coverage of the final table that he did last year. No one has done it better since then.

3:05pm... Updated Chipcount: Gold is back over $30M.
Jamie Gold $31.6M
Allen Cunningham $16.8M
Richard Lee $10M
Erik Friberg $9M
Doug Kim $6.6M
Paul Wasicka $6.5M
Rhett Butler $4.4M
Michael Binger $3M
3:10pm... Richard Lee took a pot off Jamie Gold with Q-J. Lee flopped trips and the turn and river were both aces to give Lee a boat. Both players checked the turn and Lee called Gold's 600K bet on the river. Gold mucked his cards. The pot was well over $2.5M.

3:20pm... Read this funny piece called Mayor of the Tilted Kilt that Michael Craig put up on his blog.

3:25pm... On the 22nd hand of the final table, on a board of 8-9-9-5-A, Allen Cunningham took a huge hit when he got outkicked by Jamie Gold. Cunningham had 9-7, while Gold had 10-9. That was the largest pot of the tournament worth almost 12M, not 8M as CardPlayer reported. Cunningham slipped to 3rd in chips with 12M. Richard Lee is now second with 16M.

3:40pm... Doug Kim is wearing an away grey NY Yankees jersey. The number on the back? 42. That's Mariano Rivera's number, the Yankees closer who's nickname is The Hammer of God.

3:55pm... Jamie Gold took a pot off of Erik Friberg when he turned a Broadway straight with Kd-8d. On the river, Friberg check-called a 1.8M bet from Gold. In disgust, Friberg mucked his cards. Gold took about 2M off of Friberg on that hand.

4:00pm... Updated Chipcount:
1 Jamie Gold 35M
2 Richard Lee 15.9M
3 Allen Cunningham 13M
4 Doug Kim 7.3M
5 Erik Friberg 5.9M
6 Paul Wasicka 5.1M
7 Rhett Butler 4.9M
8 Michael Binger 3.5M
4:10pm... Players are on a 20 minute break.

4:20pm... Smoke break.

4:35pm... We're on Level 33. Blinds are $100K/$200K with 30K antes.

4:45pm... Jamie Gold lost a $6M plus pot to Richard Lee's Ac-Jx. Lee turned a pair of Jacks and missed a nut flush draw. But his pair held up.

4:50pm... I apologize for the delay in updates. This was the cause:Blogger is temporarily unavailable due to planned maintenance. This maintenance will last 45 minutes from 4 pm to 4:45 pm (PDT). Comments have been restored.

5:10pm... In the last twenty minutes of action, Gold picked up a pot from Friberg. Cunningham won a pot worth $4M plus off of Richard Lee. Cunningham is back into second place in the chipcount.

5:15pm... Bouncin Round the Media Room: There's one douchebag sitting near by us in the media room. I think calling him a douche bag is an insult to all douche bags. Anyway, he's annoying and I was already on serious work tilt due to technical difficulties so his crap is hard to tolerate. Wil and I walked outside to cool off in the scorching Nevada sun. As we walked back inside through a service entrances, we were stopped by some of the biggest security gaurds I've seen. They were carrying several silver breif cases with Milwaukee's Beast logos on it with several Harrah's suits following behind them. I assumed they were a part of the faux money presentation and were getting ready to bring it inside. "You can't be here!" they barked. "Why not? It's not really $12 million." I said as I shrugged my shoulders and cut past them. They use fake TV money or throw a $100 bill around a stack of $1 bills.

5:20pm... Recent Elimination: Erik Friberg is out on the 57th hand of the final table. Both players were all in preflop. Jamie Gold had Q-Q and Erik Friberg flipped over J-J. The flop was 2-3-7 rainbow and Friberg was still behind. The turn was a 10 and Friberg was down to two outs and needed a Jack to fall in order to stay alive. The river was a Queen, as Gold won with a useless set. He's up to 40M. Friberg busted out in 8th. The young Swede won $1,979,189. "I'm pretty disappointed," Friberg said. "I'll probably gamble away my winnings," he admitted.
Updated Chipcount:
1 Jamie Gold 37M
2 Richard Lee 20.1M
3 Allen Cunningham 14.4M
4 Doug Kim 7.8M
5 Rhett Butler 4.5M
6 Paul Wasicka 3.5M
7 Michael Binger 3M
5:35pm... Michael Binger doubled through Allen Cuningham. Binger raised UTG with A-10s and Allen Cunningham called with A-Qs. The flop was Q-J-8 and all the money went in the pot when Binger moved all in with a gutshot. Cunningham quickly called and was ahead with TPTK, but Binger caught a Broadway straight on the turn when a King fell. The river didn't help Cunningham. That had put Richard Lee back into second in chips. Cunningham slipped to third with 13M as Binger jumped up to 6M.

5:38pm.... Paul Wasicka moved all in from the button and Mike Binger pushed all in. Binger had A-9o vs. Wasicka's A-J. Binger must have thought Wasicka was on a button steal. The flop was A-A-8. The turn was a 5 and the river was a 10. Wasicka doubled up and Binger was crippled. Binger is back in the basement as the short stack while Wasicka jumped up to 5th in chips.

6:00pm... CC told me that two-time bracelet winner Jeff Madsen got in trouble for using a media badge. He used a badge from Poker Royalty to get inside the ropes and got busted.

6:03pm... Paul Wasicka won a big pot and jumped up to 4th in chips. Kim raised $2.1M and Wasicka pushed all in. Kim got caught with his pants down and mucked.
Updated chipcount:
1 Jamie Gold $35.5M
2 Richard Lee $21.28M
3 Allen Cunningham $13M
4 Paul Wasicka $9.1M
5 Doug Kim $5.6M
6 Rhett Butler $3.8M
7 Michael Binger $2.7M
6:16pm... Talk about a shitty break. Mike Binger and his short stack moved all in with K-K and was called by Jamie Gold who had K-K. They chopped the pot.

6:23pm... Jamie Gold mucked A-10 preflop to a raise from Allen Cunningham that was flat called by Doug Kim. Gold's hand was accidently flashed to the players. The flop was K-Q-J.

6:30pm... Recent Elimination: Doug Kim busted out when his 9-9 ran into Paul Wasicka's Q-Q. On a flop of 4-3-4, Wasicka bet $1M and Kim pushed all in. Wasicka called with his Hiltons, which held up. Doug Kim won $2,391,520 for 7th place. Paul Wasicka is on fire. He's 3rd in chips with $14 million. Jamie Gold still leads with $35M. "I tried to play my best making reads and adjusting to the blind structure. I didn't have a set game plan," Kim said in his exit interview. "I play 3-6 on Poker Stars. That's where I got most of my experience."

6:45pm... Flipchip is live photo blogging! Stop by and check out his stuff.

Check out Flip Chip's final table photos

6:55pm... Players are on a 20 minute break.
Updated Chipcounts:
1 Jamie Gold $37.4M
2 Richard Lee $17.03M
3 Allen Cunningham $15.23M
4 Paul Wasicka $14,87M
5 Rhett Butler $3.365M
6Michael Binger $2.28M
7:15pm... During the break, 10 WSOP champions were on the final table stage including Joe Hachem, Greg Raymer, Jesus Ferguson, Tom McEvoy, Berry Johnston, Scotty Nguyen, Johnny Chan, Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth, and Brad Daugherty.

7:25pm... We're on Level 34. Blinds are $120K/$240K with $40K antes.

7:33pm... Michael Binger doubled through Allen Cunningham. Binger had A-6 against Cunningham's 2-2. Binger flopped two pair. Gold is still the chipleader with almost 40M.

7:45pm... I'm looking for a sublet for a couple of months in NYC. Does anyone have any leads? If so, shoot me an email.

7:55pm... Allen Cunningham shifted gears. He's been raising almost every pot picking up the blinds. He didn't play too many hands in the first level today.

play online poker7:58pm... We passed the 100 hand mark. Jamie Gold showed a monster bluff with 2-3o with four face cards on the board.
Updated Chipcount:
1. Jamie Gold $41M
2. Richard Lee $17.54M
3. Allen Cunningham $13.4M
4. Paul Wasicka $10.5M
5. Rhett Butler $4.3M
6. Michael Binger $3.64M
8:10pm... On a board of 8-8-Q-3-2, Allen Cunningham made a great call with just A-9 against Jamie Gold. He said "I don't have a very good hand." Then Cunningham quickly called with just Ace high.

8:22pm... Michael Binger moved all in with his shortstack of $2.85M with A-Qs. Allen Cunningham called with Q-J. The flop was all clubs, which gave Binger a flush draw, but he was still ahead. The turn and river were blanks and Binger doubled up. He now has over $7M. Cunningham has $13.7M and is in 3rd place behind Richard Lee's $18M and Jamie Gold's $37.5M.

8:51pm... Recent Elimination: On Hand 122, Richard Lee is out in 6th place in one of the largest pots of the entire tournament. Jamie Gold limped at the cutoff and Richard Lee raised from the small blind to $1.2M. Gold re-raised to $4M and Lee pushed all in over the top with J-J. Gold quickly called with Q-Q. The flop was K-3-K. The turn was a 6 and the rover was a 10. Gold's Hiltons held up. Lee won $2,803,851 for 6th place. Gold now has over $52M in chips. Lee played stellar poker the past few days and it's sad that he went on on a cooler hand like J-J vs. Q-Q. He should have folded his Jacks after the limp/re-raise from Gold. Lee gave Gold more ammo. That's the second time that Gold won with Hiltons against Jacks. He busted Erik Friberg with the same hand. After the hand, Gold dropped his pants, bent over and pulled the horseshoe out of his ass once again and showed it to the crowd. "I'm disappointed, but I play to win," Lee admitted after he busted out. "That's how I play."

9:00pm... Players are on a dinner break until 10:30pm. I'm going for food and/or a smoke break with Change100.
Chipcount courtesy of Poker Wire:
1 Jamie Gold 51.26M
2 Paul Wasicka 14.56M
3 Allen Cunningham 13.68M
4 Michael Binger 7.44M
5 Rhett Butler 3.235M
10:35pm... There are 28 minutes left in the current level with 120K/240K blinds and 40K antes.

10:53pm... Rhett Butler moved all in against Paul Wasicka. Butler had A-10 vs. Wasicka's 8-8. Butler doubled up when a 10 flopped. He waited until he had a hand and finally made a move. He won a coinflip and is still alive with over $6M in chips. Allen Cunningham is second in chips with $13.68M. Wasicka slipped to third with $11.2M.

11:00pm... Stephen Noh told me that a bunch of pros were playing high stakes Chinese Poker in the stands. Included in the menagerie of degenrates were Mike Matusow, John Juanda, and Phil Hellmuth.

11:20pm... Paul Wasicka doubled through Jamie Gold. On a flop of K-Q-x, Wasicka moved all in with K-10 and Jamie Gold called with A-K. The turn was a 10 and asicka took the lead. The river didn't help Gold and Wasicka doubled up to over $18M. "Now if we believe in fate, luck has finally turned its back on Jamie Gold," Michael Craig said to Change100 and myself after the hand.

11:30pm... I snapped this photo of the first place prize. I love that Johnny Chan is on his cell in the background.

What $12 million looks like

11:35pm... We're on Level 35. Blinds are 150K/300K with $50K antes.
Updated Chipcount:
Jamie Gold $44.075M
Paul Wasicka $18M
Allen Cunningham $12.8M
Michael Binger $6,9M
Rhett Butler $6.5M
11:45pm... On a board of A-8-2-6-2, Jamie Gold moved all in on the river against Allen Cunningham and took down a $9M pot.

11:50pm... Mike Binger and Jamie Gold chopped a pot with K-10.

11:55pm... Tells, tells, tells. The pros are picking them up. Hellmuth said that he knows about Jamie Gold's tell regarding how he handles his stack when he's got a hand or bluffing. Johnny Chan said he picked up on a tell against Allen Cunningham. According to Steve Rosenbloom at ESPN, Chan told Jamie Gold at dinner break, "I gave him a hint," Chan said. "Anytime Allen bets and puts his eyes down, he's got it. Pay attention to that."

12:03am... Allen Cunningham picked up more chips when he won a $6M pot by pushing all in during a three-way pot on a flop of 8-6-2.

12:10am... Flipchips posted more WSOP final table photos. Take a peek.

12:15am... Binger's making a move. Michael Binger moved all in K-K against Paul Wasicka's K-Q. Binger had Wasicka dominated, but the flop was Q-7-3. The turn was an ace and the river was a 2. Binger doubled up and has 17M to put him second in chips behind Jamie Gold's 47M. Wasicka slipped to 12.5M. Cunningham has under 10M and is in 4th place.

12:25am... Michael Craig just brought us Full Tilt M&Ms. The red ones make you play loose. The white ones make you horny.

12:30am... Paul Wasicka outkicked Jamie Gold with K-Js vs. Q-Js. He won a $4M pot.

12:35am... Rhett Butler just showed the Hammer.

12:43am... "This tournament will be lasting until Noon," said Mike Matusow. Phil Gordon set the line at 6am. Matusow said he'd bet Gordon.

12:45am... Recent Elimination: Rhett Butler moved all in and Allen Cunningham and Jamie Gold both called. Gold bet out on the flop of J-6-5 and Cunningham folded. Gold showed K-J and Butler had 4-4. Butler's hand did not improve and he took 5th place. Gold busted another player. Yikes. Butler won $3,216,182. "I was happy to get two callers," Rhett said. "I had to make a move and 4-4 was the best hand I saw in a while."
Updated Chipcount:
1 Jamie Gold 49.5M
2 Michael Binger 14.3M
3 Paul Wasicka 12.5M
4 Allen Cunningham 9.5M
12:55am... Bouncin Round the Room: I pissed next to Jamie Gold's entire entourage.

1:11am... Allen Cunningham moved all in and took down a nice sized pot against Jamie Gold.

1:15am... Gold has 51M while Cunningham and Binger have 13M each and Wasicka has around 10M.

1:20am... Paul Wasicka just re-raised all in with K-Q and took down a pot with a bluff on a board of A-J-9-A.

1:27am... Disgruntled Supervisors: I got an email from someone claiming to be a "disgruntled Harrah's supervisor." They spilled the beans on the behind the scenes action. Here it is:
Dear Pauly,

Interesting to note as I read the various blogs about unhappy dealers that the floor staff or "suits" are never mentioned.

Things you may not know:

1) All the suits were paid an hourly wage varying from $25 to $37.50 depending on your level of responsibility.

2) We were NOT ALLOWED to accept personal tokes. Any tokes given to us had to be put in the DEALERS toke pool. Between myself and one other supervisor, we dropped over $12,000 (12K) in the dealer toke pool.

3) The suits are NOT part of the toke pool. Rio officials justified the exclusion from the toke pool by saying "there will be as much overtime as you want to work". Then after the series started mandated days off and less or no overtime depending on your level of responsibility.

4) I verified that the expected down rate (or 1/2 hour period) is currently around $33 per down or $66 per hour. Add the $5.25 wage and and they are up to $71.25 per hour for Main Event hours. The average down rate previous varied from $13 to $25 or $26 to $50 per hour.

We knew what we were getting into or so we thought. But I think it is important to get facts out if they are to be talked about. Of the 5 MILLION that Rio got from the Main Event 1.25% (as I understand) goes to the DEALERS and DEALERS only. Any side tokes will go 100% to the dealers.

It is rumored that a final table player has promised a large toke to the dealers and floor staff if he were to win. While I hope that he does in fact win and the dealers benefit, I also hope he is either assured in writing that a toke will be distributed to floor staff if he desires or leaves none at all for that part of the team.

I do not begrudge the dealers the money they have earned during the WSOP, for I have worked my way up through the box and into a position of responsibility, and knew what I was going into, for this was not my first WSOP. I only wanted facts to be facts if they were out there.

sign me....

A suit

P.S. I would like to add that we were aware of weak links in the team, and although I was not in a position to make personnel changes, those of us that knew what we were doing tried to make the WSOP experience as pleasant as possible. Many improvements need to be made for next year, in many areas.
Thanks for the email. I wanted to give a perspective from one of the suits at the WSOP. Hope this helps.

1:35am... Players are on a break. Jamie Gold is still the chipleader.

2:00am... We're on Level 35. Blinds are 200K/400K with $50K antes. Alan Cunningham needs to make a move and pick up chips this level. With 800K in the pot, these pots are not small. He's the shortstack.
Updated Chipcount:
1 Jamie Gold 47.5M
2 Paul Wasicka 19M
3 Michael Binger 15.4M
4 Allen Cunningham 7.6M
2:03am... Cunningham picked up a small pot.

2:19am... Recent Elimination: As the final table hit the 12 hour mark, Allen Cunningham pushed all in with 10-10 on Hand # 208. Jamie Gold called with K-J. The flop was K-A-8 and Gold took the lead. The turn was a 7 and the river was a 3. Cunningham won $3,628,513 for 4th place. Gold busted yet another player. Three remain and the last named pro is out of the 2006 WSOP.
Updated chipcount:
1 Jamie Gold 48.675M
2 Paul Wasicka 17M
3 Michael Binger 14.8M
3:05am... Recent Elimination: Michael Binger busted out in 3rd place on Hand #229. Guess who busted him? Jamie Gold. Guess how? Suckout. Gold limped on the button and Binger raised 1.5M from his big blind. Gold flat called. Gold picked up an OESD on a flop of 10-6-5. Binger bets $3.5M and Gold moved all in. Binger called with A-10s. The turn was the 7which gave Gold his straight. Binger won $4,123,310 for third place. Gold is way ahead of Paul Wasicka in chips almost 7 to 1.
Updated Chipcount:
1 Jamie Gold 75M
2 Paul Wasicka 11M
3:25am... Good morning East Coasters. We're playing heads up between Jamie Gold and Paul Wasicka. Gold busted like 2,372 overal players in the main event, and busted every single player since the final three tables began. OK, I'm exaggerating a tad. But Gold has been busting guys left and right ever since he took over the chiplead several days ago. He's got a massive advantage heads up against Paul Wasicka who flew under the radar for most of the day. Let's hope this goes quick.

3:40am... Recent Elimination: Jamie Gold busted Paul Wasicka. We have a new WSOP Champion. Gold limped and Paul Wasicka checked his big blind option. On a flop of Qc-8h-5h, Wasicka bet 1.5 million and Gold moved all in. Wasicka called with 10-10. Gold showed Q-9 aka "Tha Gapped Toothed Hooker." The turn was an ace and a 4. Gold's Q-9 held up and he became the 2006 WSOP Champion winning $12 million. Paul Wasicka finished in second place and won $6,102,499.

"I couldn't have done this without the support of the people in my life," Gold said as he was nearly in tears. "I'm a very needy person. And they helped me out a lot over the last few days getting me water and massages and blueberries."

Gold called his father who has ALS. He was sleeping and Gold left a message.

"I hope he hears that I won. I wanted to make him proud," Gold continued.

Yes, a Hollyweird agent is the new world champion. That's it for now. Thanks to everyone for the support and checking in. Flipchip will have winner's photos and I'll have a recap soon. Congrats to Jamie Gold.