Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

Stay tuned for Vegoose pictures, videos, and stories

By the way, go check out Spaceman's live coverage of the WSOP Circuit Event.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Drunk Grandma at Green Valley Ranch

On Thursday, I headed to Green Valley Ranch to check out the new poker room and sports book. All summer long, they had been renovating GVR as they added a new parking deck and spruced up their sports book and poker room. GVR's old poker room was in an area that was originally a restaurant. The close proximity to the parking lot which was an added bonus. The new room reminded me of Red Rock and the same goes for the new sports book. They look almost the same in design.

Impressed? You betcha. I was bummed out that the renovations came a few months after I moved from Henderson. As I walked around looking at the renovations, I got flashbacks of the 2006 WSOP and living with Grubby only a few minutes away from GVR.

After a quick lunch, I ended up at the same 4/8 with a half kill table as Change100. They only spread a few tables and I got on the list for 6/12 and 3/5 NL using their new signup kiosks. Our table was filled up with jovial locals. No grumpy folks, just eight players who knew each other and all of the dealers and acted in good sports. No one complained after a river suckout and no one bitched about shitty cards and for the first three hours, I had fun at the tables. Poker can be an amazing gathering point and with the right personalities, a poker table can provide an escape and keep your spirits lifted.

I did notice one thing, players in their 60s and up don't trust technology. They hate the automatic shufflers and often whisper about getting a cold deck. You'll occasionally hear a request for a hand scramble as the dealers yell out to the floor person that they are honoring a player's request.

I went on a mini rush early and won a few big pots with big hands. I won two pots in similar fashion. With an overpair on a ragged flop (I held A-A and 10-10), I turned a set then rivered a boat when the board paired. That happened twice inside of an hour. It's difficult enough to flop a set. It's even rarer to turn one in a multi-way pot and the chances that you boat up on the river are even slimmer. Yet, I did that twice and I ended up needed the help on the river both times since my opponents flopped two pair. Those lucky cards helped add to my stack.

Change100 sat in Seat 2 and scared the old guys at my end of the table. A guy who looked like Morty Seinfeld lost a big pot to Change. After he mucked his cards and as she began to stack up the big pot, he whispered to me, "She looks all innocent with her baby face, but she's one fuckin' unbelievable player."

I laughed. He had no idea who he was up against. Change100 played well and flopped two straights with junk hands. Morty left the table for a few minutes to get his free casino gift. Yes, a had another flashback when he returned a few minutes later and showed me his freebie. Grubby never missed a free casino gift day in his life and I could picture him trying on his new GVR fanny pack in the parking lot after he dumped a couple hundred dollars into Mr. Cashman slots on the way out.

A couple of the dealers were new and fucked up a few times. Luckily, the locals named Sheldon and Harriet were in a pleasant mood. All it takes is one bitter hag or a surly local to ruin the vibe of a table. That's the risk you take when you play off the Strip. These days you'll find two types of live low-limit and NL games in Las Vegas... on the Strip trying to survive the donkification of newbie tourists playing any two cards or off the Strip with degenerate locals slowly waiting to die as they try to hit the bad beat jackpot.

I took a couple of hits to my stack, especially from an Asian female dealer who wore a Poker Stars hat. She played a lot of jackpot hands (aka low suited connectors) and cracked my Hilton Sisters. In EP I flopped a set of Queens. She had a baby flush draw but rivered a backdoor gutshot straight on me.

Everything was groovy until a sweet looking Grandma that everyone called Georgia put me on mega-tilt so much so that I was teetering on the brink of committing several violent acts against said octogenarian. She slowly made her way over to the table in a walker and an oxygen mask. One of the floor guys helped put her oxygen tank behind the table along the wall after she removed her mask. She had a slow drawl and her hands shook when she threw chips into the pot. The wrinkles on her forehead represented decades of wisdom and I chuckled when she ordered a pink Zinfandel with "a few ice cubes."

Anyway, she looked like a sweet old grandma, but the blue-haired cunt got drunker than AlCantHang at Happy Hour and put me on mega tilt. Behind every innocent grandma is a soused donkey waiting to emerge. Bad beats are a part of the game but she kicked me so hard in the junk (twice) that I lost my shit.

Beware of innocent looking Grandma's sipping wine at local's casinos. They'll suck the life out of you and take all you chips if you're not careful. The first hand I never saw coming. I raised in MP with A-Q and got four callers. I flopped two pair but she had J-8s and caught running jacks for the suckout. Then two hands later, I lost another big pot when I flopped an ace with A-Js and she called me all the way to the river with A-8 and rivered her kicker.

"Sorry about that," the dealer mentioned to me as she pushed the pot towards Georgia.

I glared at the old lady and snapped, "Nice hand Georgia!" in my most snarky voice.

And that's when I sunk deep into the dark abyss of tiltdom. I was winning. Was. I was having fun. Was. That was until Georgia wheeled over to the table and took all my profits with two river suckouts. I stewed in my seat and thought about revenge. I wanted to steal her walker and let out all the air in her oxygen tank.

"Let the silly bitch walk home. I hope she suffocates," I thought to myself as I lost control and made the decision to leave while I still had some semblance of sanity and dignity.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

AlCantHang & Pauly's Blogger Quiz and the WPBT Holiday Classic III

First of all, if you are a poker blogger interested in attending the next WPBT gathering or the WPBT Holiday Classic III in Las Vegas scheduled for December, then stop by April's blog for more details.

Now kids, it's time to test your vast knowledge of your fellow bloggers. AlCantHang and I compiled an extensive 57 question multiple choice quiz for readers and bloggers. First place gets a lifetime supply of dial-a-shots from AlCantHang and I will buy you into an online blogger tournament of your choice. Email me or blog your answers by Monday. Please include the letter and actual answer in your responses. We'll announce a winner on November 1st and if you're nice to us, we'll actually reveal the answers!
The First Annual AlCantHang & Pauly Blogger Quiz:

1. Which blogger was born in Alaska?
a. Derek
b. AlCantHang
c. Daddy
d. SirWaffle

2. Who hired three illegal Mexicans to renovate his house for $3,000?
a. G-Rob
b. DonkeyPuncher
c. Mookie
d. Mean Gene

3. Who was the first blogger to get a WSOP press pass?
a. Otis
b. Pauly
c. Flipchip
d. Felicia

4. Who is NOT a lawyer...
a. Big Pirate
b. F Train
c. Poker Wolf
d. Dawn from I Had Outs

5. Which blogger appeared in a commercial for Nickelodeon?
a. Change100
b. Shane Nickerson
c. BoyGenius
d. Chilly

6. Which blogger met his wife in a gay bar in Idaho?
a. DonkeyPuncher
b. Human Head
c. Drizz
d. Bad Blood

7. Before he moved to Las Vegas, Grubby lived in DC. What did he do?
a. He worked as an analyst for the CIA.
b. He was a playwright.
c. He wrote for the Washington Post.
d. He taught gym at a all-girls Catholic school.

8. Who gave Dr. Pauly his "blogger" doctorate?
a. The Poker Penguin
b. The FatGuy
c. Mr. Decker
d. Lord Geznikor

9. Which blogger announced his intentions on running for President in 2004?
a. Mean Gene
b. Chris Halverson
c. ScurvyDog
d. G-Rob

10. Who is NOT Canadian?
a. Iakaris
b. Biggestron
c. Dr. Chako
d. Fuel55

11. Which blogger's band once performed at the Whiskey in LA?
a. Whiskeytown
b. Bad Blood
c. AlCantHang
d. Joe Speaker

12. Which blogger has not been to all of the last three Bash at the Boathouse gatherings?
a. BoyGenius
b. Carter
c. Pauly
d. Derek

13. Which blogger passed out before the first WPBT tournament in Las Vegas?
a. Daddy
b. Iggy
c. Otis
d. Boy Genius

14. Which WSOP Champion spoke at the first ever WPBT gathering?
a. Jesus Ferguson
b. Chris Moneymaker
c. Greg Raymer
d. Tom McEvoy

15. Which female poker pro originally wrote on Card Squad with Derek and Jen Leo?
a. Vanessa Rousso
b. Liz Lieu
c. Erica Schoenberg
d. Carmel Petresco

16. How many outlets did I write for at the 2006 WSOP?
a. 9
b. 8
c. 12
d. 5

17. We all know Otis once ate two Keno crayons. But what did BoyGenius do at Brad-o-ween?
a. Drink a half full bottle of hot sauce.
b. Drink a bucket of tinny water.
c. Eat an entire raw eggplant.
d. Eat a slice of pizza that Otis drove over in his car.

18. Lewey (of the AlCantHang crew) is (in)famous for a spectacular drunken dash down a steep hill. Which blogger helped drive him home THEN booted in Landow's front yard?
a. Pauly
b. Derek
c. BoyGenius
d. Carter

19. Which female blogger drives a motorcycle?
a. Kat
b. Maudie
c. Joanne
d. California April

20. Which blogger cashed in the 2005 WSOP?
a. Otis
b. DoubleAs
c. Big Pirate
d. Joe Speaker

21. Which blogger had AlCantHang knighted by the Order of St. Arnold?
a. Chris Halverson
b. Peter Birks
c. Maudie
d. Arne

22. HDouble's favorite band is...
a. Phish
b. Radiohead
c. Wilco
d. Yonder Mountain String Band

23. Before he blogged about poker, Spaceman used to have a blog about...
a. Comic books
b. Politics
c. Chess
d. Hockey

24. Which of the following did the Poker Prof NOT do...
a. Attend law school in the South
b. Hit a hole in one at TPC Summerlin during a pro-am golf tournament
c. Work for an Iranian folk singer
d. Freelance programming work with NASA

25. By some weird confluence of the galaxy, both Derek and "Doogie" of the AlCantHang crew attended the same university and joined the same fraternity together. Which university?
a. Rutgers
b. U Penn
c. Bucknell
d. Radha Institute for Mentally Retarded

26. Which 2006 WSOP bracelet winner played in the first ever live WPBT poker tournament?
a. Rafe Furst
b. Max Pescatori
c. David Williams
d. Dutch Boyd

27. We all know Grubby invented the Hammer. But what was the Hammer's origin?
a. It's the name of Grubby's dog.
b. It's the name of a player in Grubby's homegame.
c. It's the name of Grubby's favorite singer.
d. It's the nickname for Grubby's penis.

28. Otis named his son after what 60s icon?
a. Jimi Hendrix
b. Bob Dylan
c. Jerry Garcia
d. Jim Morrison

29. Who's the tallest blogger out of the following...
a. Iggy
b. CJ
c. cc
d. Miami Don

30. The first official meeting between NYC's Pauly and Philly's AlCantHang occurred where?
a. Yankees game
b. Phillies game
c. Bash at the Boathouse
d. Ferrari's Blue Parrot home game

31. Which of the following phrases did Felicia NOT say to Pauly?
a. "You're a terrible poker player."
b. "You're ugly. I don't know how you sleep with so many women."
c. "You play too many hands."
d. "You need to write more about Stud."

32. Which blogger was a member of the winning team during the Drunken Olympics at Brad-o-Ween 2005?
a. AlCantHang
b. Pauly
c. Otis
d. Derek

33. Who played Ariel in a performance of Shakespeare's A Mid Summer's Night Dream?
a. Falstaff
b. Wil
c. Maudie
d. Change100

34. Flipchip is a Vietnam vet. Pick the non-veteran of the US Armed Forces...
a. Bill Rini
b. Brandon Schaefer
c. The Rooster
d. Easy Cure

35. Which blogger did NOT go to the Playboy Mansion in April?
a. Spaceman
b. Chad from Pokerama
c. StB
d. Bobby Bracelet

36. Who else is NOT a lawyer?
a. Jordan from High on Poker
b. SoxLover
c. on_thg
d. Ryan from Absinthe's Troubles

37. Everyone knows that Pauly won the 2005 Brad-o-Ween poker tournament, but who came in second?
a. CJ the Luckbox
b. Heather aka Princess Maigrey
c. Big Pirate
d. TeamScottSmith

38. What did Jaxia once herd in Texas?
a. Goats
b. Donkeys
c. Sheep
d. Llamas

39. Which of the following did Dan Michalski from Pokerati NOT do?
a. Run tournaments at a strip club in Dallas.
b. Edit one issue of All In Magazine.
c. Covered the war in Kosovo.
d. Was on the diving team for the 1991 Pan American Games.

40. Which female blogger has the best cleavage according to the Tao of Poker?
a. Jen Leo
b. Amy Calistri
c. Gracie
d. Veneno

41. What semi-pro sport did HDouble play?
a. Baseball
b. Basketball
c. Hockey
d. Football

42. Who went 10-2 with a 2.50 ERA during his sophomore year on his college baseball team after starting the season 6-0?
a. StB
b. Derek
c. TripJax
d. Daddy

43. Which blogger puked in a garbage can at the Excalibur at the last gathering?
a. Jules
b. Iggy
c. Hoyazo
d. Texas April

44. Where is G-Vegas located?
a. Georgia
b. North Carolina
c. Tennessee
d. South Carolina

45. Who has NOT won a WBPT live tournament in Las Vegas?
a. Studio Glyphic
b. F Train
c. Felicia
d. CJ

46. Who won the first ever WPBT online tournament?
a. Mean Gene
b. Boy Genius
c. Poker Nerd
d. Lord Geznikor

47. Which blogger passed out in the bathroom at the MGM during a WPBT gathering?
a. Poker Geek
b. Change100
c. Garth
d. Shelly from Hella Hold'em

48. Who was the overall champion of the 2005 Saturdays with Dr. Pauly?
a. Gracie
b. on_thg
c. CJ
d. Bobby Bracelet

49. Which famous actress admitted to me that she reads the Tao of Poker?
a. Mena Suvari
b. Shannon Elizabeth
c. Laura Prepon
d. Anne Heche

50. What put Otis on mega-tilt at the 2006 WSOP?
a. I got a double kiss from Isabelle Mercier.
b. Erica Schoenberg said hello to me in the hallway.
c. One of the hot Tilted Kilt waitresses said she read my blog.
d. All of the above.

51. Who is not a part of LA's Murderer's Row?
a. Ten Mile
b. HDouble
c. Joe Speaker
d. Bill Rini

52. What did Felicia say to Boy Genius when they met in person for the first time?
a. "You suck at poker."
b. "You should never play poker ever again."
c. "Did you try the gumbo?"
d. "You're fatter than I thought you'd be."

53. The Rooster won a freeroll tournament at a new underground poker club in New York City. What did he win?
a. Trip to the Borgata in AC
b. Flatscreen TV
c. $2,000 cash
d. Clay poker chip set and a free massage

54. Which blogger is currently homeless?
a. Grubby
b. Pauly
c. Mr. Subliminal
d. Poker Penguin

55. Jaxia had a hand named after her. What is it?
a. A-J
b. Q-J
c. K-J
d. J-9

56. Which poker pro did AlCantHang harass at the Playboy Mansion?
a. Daniel Negreanu
b. Hoyt Corkins
c. Steve Dannenmann
d. The Grinder

57. Pick the blogger NOT from Minnesota.
a. Drizz
b. Bloody P
c. Whiskeytown
d. Royal
Good luck!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Nietzsche Died of Syphilis

"Is man one of God's blunders? Or is God one of man's blunders?" - Nietzsche
My favorite aspect about working on Wall Street was that I legally gambled with other people's money. I got experience the rush without the financial liability.

There are moments when I'm in a casino and I'll hear someone utter that infamous and dangerous phrase, "You're playing with House money!"

That's where the gambler knows that he or she is up but presses the issue because they're not gambling with their money... it's the casinos money or rather it's the money that used to belong to a fellow tourist or addicted local. Yes when you win, you win losers' money. Regardless of how hot you're playing, throwing, or nailing bets... there's resinated bad karma attached to every single chip that you possess. Like germs invading your weakened immune system, microscopic flakes of negative karma influence your gambling senses. It doesn't matter if you cash out your chips at the cage. The paper Benjamins that line your pocket also used to belong to... losers.

That blatant disregard for the concept of money is what often allows poker players to make better decisions at the tables, but it also allows the degenerate darkside of human nature take control of your weaknesses and addictions and they keep gambling when they should quit while they are ahead. One moment you were up a grand at the blackjack tables daydreaming about how you were going to spend that money before a cute dealer from Saigon cold decks your ass into oblivion and you walk away from the pit with a warm Corona and a cheap feeling like you've been fucked in an extremely uncomfortable place in a dark corner of a Turkish bath house.

But that's why the majority of people gamble, because they are addicted to losing. Don't believe me? Just walk around a local's casino on the outskirts of Las Vegas, and you'll see the soulless zombies emptying their bank accounts and spending their social security checks for the chance of one more slot pull.

For one more hand of blackjack.

For one more toss of the dice.

I wonder how many people sitting in the rows of slot machines actually believe in God? They certainly whisper his name in desperation with every pull of the lever or while they're on the brink of elimination in a poker tournament.

"Please God. One time!"

And like most of your prayers, they go unanswered by God. If he does exist he has more important things to do than help you spike your two outer on the river.

* * * * *

I'm 44-6 in picking college football games over the last five weeks. I'm picking 88% without the spreads. That's not too shabby. Too bad I couldn't pick an NFL team to save my life. I had a perfect week in the NFL three weekends ago, but now I have no idea what's going on over the last two weeks. Perhaps it's variance or parity or the simple fact that I suck. I should go back to gambling on women's field hockey.

The best part about Party Poker closing down is that there are more players at the middle low-limit tables on Full Tilt. There used to be no more than a couple of 5/10 tables or 10/20 tables going and you'd never see anyone at playing 8/16 limit. This is no longer the case. I've been grinding off a reload bonus at the 5/10 tables with occasional forays into 8/16 short-handed and 10/20.

Every time I walk into a bank or the post office or stand in an airport security line there are two things that will eventually happen to me:
1. I'll either get stuck standing in front or behind the most annoying person on the planet.
2. I'll get stuck in the slowest line as it inches forth every few minutes like a morose Russian bread line circa 1981.
That's life's little evil way of evening things up on Planet Pauly. Karmic balance. Kind of like being card dead for an hour and finally finding Q-Q and raising in late position only to get three callers as both an Ace and a King hit the flop. Or when I finally flop a set with a baby pair, the turn fills a flush and I foolishly call all the way to the river because I can't let go of a set.

Despite the fact that those things seem to always happen to me... I still continue to stand in the slow line at the grocery store and I still play my big pairs and sets hard. Is it because I'm addicted to gambling and losing? Or is it that I don't have anything else better to do at the time?

I should be speaking out against the worst Congress in the history of American politics, saving the Costa Rican spider monkeys, and rescuing Malawain children from the puerile grips of over-the-hill menopausal 1980s pop stars. But I'm not, because I'm selfish and I really don't give a shit as the dominant existentialist voice takes control of the karaoke microphone inside my head and he screams, "Time to fire up Poker Stars. Life is utterly meaningless. Let's gambooooool."

* * * * *

Here are 5 Random Things I Did in LA Over the Weekend:
1. While on a early morning jog, I pissed in an alley off of Olympic Blvd.
2. A former Baywatch actress stood in line behind Change100 and myself at Zankou Chicken.
3. I won $5 playing a $3 scratch lottery ticket that Showcase bought me.
4. I cracked A-A with SMTL after I flopped trip 3s.
5. I discovered that I'm three inches taller than the greatest living drummer in this solar system, Stanton Moore from New Orleans, as we stood face-to-face at the House of Blues in West Hollywood and I asked him to play my favorite Galactic song.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sunday Morning Required Reading

Here are a few worthy reads including a review of a Galactic concert that I caught in LA on Saturday:
Leon Black (Las Vegas Business & Politics Blog)
Predictability And The Roshambo Defense (Absinthetics)
Spiced (Mad Harper)
Zankou Baywatch and Malcom in the Middle Smokes Crack (Tao of Pauly)
Galactic Goes Hollywood (My music blog)
By the way, if you still haven't done anything with your Party Poker bankroll, you should consider playing on another site before Neteller pulls the plug in a few months.
Download PokerStars here
Download Full Tilt here
Download BoDog here
Oh and this is so hysterical that I have to post it again... Tootie's Bong. (You Tube)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

On the Road: 131 Daytrippers

Before we begin, I'd like to thank Jamie Gold for hooking me up with BoDog. They're a new sponsor and their tables have been extra fishy due to an influx of Party Pooper players. I have a secret screen name that no one knows about so I can play anonymously over there. Anyway, thanks to Jamie and BoDog.

Also, I was mentioned in a Business Week article written by Catherine Holahan called Online Gambling Goes Underground.

By the way take a peek at Flipchip's Fest al Lago photos from the WPT event at the Bellagio. Without a doubt, Flipchip is the best photographer in the business. And Spaceman is also the scene providing live updates.

Moving on...

After being in the NYC area for seven weeks, my nomadic wanderings shall begin again as I live out of my backpack for the next few months. I have embarked on a 131 day roadtrip where over the next four plus months, I'll never more than a week or two in one place.

My travels will find me boarding 18 different flights and getting into rental cars while I visit three continents on a arduous journey to Hollyweird, Las Vegas, Amsterdam, Rhode Island, Melbourne & Sydney Australia, London, and Deauville, France with the random stopovers in NYC for the holidays and multiple trips to Las Vegas and LA.

Of course these plans are loose and I have no problems deviating from my original itinerary. But I'll definitely be at the WPBT gathering in December and the Aussie Millions in Jan. 2007.

I'll be playing online poker and live poker in exotic places over the next few months and all of those poker-related incidents will be covered here at the Tao of Poker. If you want to see pics and read about my latest adventures stop by the Tao of Pauly or my music blog.

The last few weeks in the NYC area have been super productive. I went to the Boathouse, dropped 20 pounds, and finished the second draft of Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. Now it's time to go out into the world and soak up enough life so I can muster up enough material for a new book.

I wrote the original manuscript of JTSMD in ten days during November of 2002 for NaNoWriMo. I'm a better writer and story teller today and although the book won't necessarily be lauded by the literati as an epic work of fiction, it's still a story that I loved so much that I wanted to tell it again in today's voice. The plot and characters are the same. I deleted about 20% of the book (trimmed the fat) and added 10% new material (added hot sauce). The manuscript is tighter and flows better than the original, which a handful of you had the rare opportunity to read. Over the next few months, I will figure out the best way to self-publish so you can own your own copy of JTSMD.

I also created two iMixes over at iTunes. You need iTunes to view them. Here they are:
Jack Tripper Stole My Dog iMix Part I
Jack Tripper Stole My Dog iMix Part II
I picked a handful of tunes that I listened to over the last seven weeks while I wrote and edited the new draft which features some of my favorite bands and musicians such as Ben Harper , Galactic, Yonder Mountain String Band, Gomez, Afro Cuban All Stars, The Flaming Lips, My Morning Jacket, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Black Keys, Tea Leaf Green, Beck, Beastie Boys, Phish, Gipsy Kings, ALO, Buena Vista Social Club, Tom Waits, The Duhks, Charlie Parker, Matisyahu, Medeski Martin & Wood, Brandtson, Rilo Kiley, and the John Butler Trio. Not to mention a few bong-rattling classics from Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Johnny Cash, The Grateful Dead, Jimmy Cliff, The Guess Who, The Yardbirds, and Traffic. The iMixes also include the Easy All-Stars performing sizzling reggae covers of Radiohead songs.

Feel free to download a few tunes or the entire thing. It's some quality music to write, play poker, or workout to. (By the way, I don't get a cent from iTunes so anything you spend goes to line their pockets, not mine.)

* * * * *

By the way, big thanks to Kat who's going to help redesign my JTSMD blog which is in dire need of a face lift. In the upcoming months, I'll be accepting ideas for the cover. Stay tuned for that.

And now's when I throw a few loyal readers a bone. I've never floated an excerpt or teaser to of JTSMD on the Tao of Poker. Now it's time. Here's a sample:
Jack Tripper Stole My Dog by Paul McGuire

My name is Ivan and I am a Russian cab driver from Brooklyn. I was born in Moscow and I lived there most of my life until I was drafted into the Red Army. I got shipped off to fight in Afghanistan. When I was injured in an ambush, I got sent home to Moscow. I was lucky. Most of my friends got sent home in body bags. I moved to New York City in 1982. I quit my job in Leningrad and my wife left me. She caught me having an affair with my boss' wife and his daughter. I did not love my wife. I was in love with her sister, but her sister committed suicide when she jumped off a building in our neighborhood.

I had no idea what to do. So I married my first wife. She was not a very good person. I was not happy. She smelled really bad and she couldn't cook. I was afraid that her father would kill me if I didn't marry her, so I did. After I cheated on her, my wife took my son back to Moscow and was going to tell her father, a well connected Captain in the police department. I knew I would be tortured or killed. I snuck out of Russia. It was actually a lot easier than you think. More people would do it if they had balls. Ah, they were afraid what would happen to them and their family if they were caught. The Party kept everyone in line with fear and intimidation. I was already afraid and I would rather face the Party than my father-in-law.

My brother Yuri was already here for a while. He found me part time work until I learned better English. I spoke very little when I lived in Brighton Beach. I painted apartments in Brooklyn and made no money but at least I had a job. That is how I met my second wife Olga. I painted her apartment. We both didn't speak English and my Ukrainian was not very good but Olga spoke perfect Russian. I never really liked her and kept seeing her because she was easy. After a couple of drinks, she would go down on me. Olga's visa was almost expired and she had no money to stay in America. I always suspected that she got pregnant on purpose so that she could stay in Brooklyn.

I would come home at night from my painter's job and drink as I watched my favorite TV shows. I learned English by watching The Brady Bunch, Bonanza, Good Times, and Taxi. When I learned to speak better English, Yuri said I should drive a cab. That's what he did when he came to America and he made good money. I had to send money home to Moscow for my son. I studied hard for the test and I got my hack license. I have been driving a cab ever since.

The job and the city is dangerous. So many times, my family begged me to quit my job after hearing about another cab driver killed in a robbery attempt. Olga told me to do other work but I hated working two jobs. I still have to do that today. I hate that I have to work every day of the week when everyone else in the city had weekends off. But Shitty job in America beats the best job in Siberia everyday of the week. A job is a job. All jobs suck. Some days I hate my job because I have to drive around rich assholes. But driving around New York is better than working in the factories in Leningrad. Driving a cab is better than being a soldier in the Red Army. It's better than working for my brother. I love New York City. Times Square. Central Park. Fifth Avenue by the museums. Chinatown. Greenwich Village. Williamsburg. Hamilton Heights. The Riverside Drive. The Brooklyn Bridge. SoHo.

I don't mind the traffic. I get to daydream and watch all the pretty women from all over the world. I like to watch people. If I am stuck in traffic, I look at people. This is the greatest city in the world to watch people.

America is a great place. I hear everybody complain about this country everyday. I hear people say, 'Fuck America!' and 'Fuck George Bush!' and I usually tell them 'If you don't like America, then leave! I will drive you to the airport.' Maybe if they live in Russia or in Mexico or in the Ukraine for one year, they might come back with a better attitude. I tell my wife that everyday. She is always unhappy. She always says she wants to go back home to the Ukraine. And some days, when I get really drunk I yell 'Go back to the farm, you pig!' It sounds funnier in Russian. I told her she should go home and I would pay for the ticket. And she does not.

Some days I am sad. This is a lonely city. I spent a lot of money to bring my son over here and he does not talk to me. He hates me. When he wants money, then he calls me. I have a daughter who sometimes drives me crazy and she doesn't talk to her mother. But I am happy when I am with my girlfriend. She makes me happy. She makes me feel special. Yes. I have a wife and a girlfriend. And no, my wife does not know about my angel. My little sex kitten. I met her many years ago. She went to school with my daughter. They are best friends. They used to be lovers.

My wife is having an affair herself. She has a lover too. And I know the guy. He works for my brother. In fact, I caught them a few hours ago. He was fucking my wife, while I was at work. I went home to take a shit and there they were.

I have been driving a cab for almost twenty years. I have been driving a limo too, on weekends for over ten years as well. I drive people from all over the world, from all kinds of jobs, and all kinds of problems. Sometimes when I drive the limo, I get a lot of people who think they are celebrities. They are the worst. They treat me like shit. They are very disrespectful. They always trash the limos. I have to clean up after them. Puke, piss, shit, cum, blood, you name it. In the cab, I meet famous people all the time.

Please don't tell anyone, but I drink while I drive. But I have been drinking vodka since I was nine years old. This is like water for me. I need it. New York is a strange city. Over the years a lot of weird stuff happened. These days, almost nothing shocks me anymore. I have seen it all. There are a lot of mentally disturbed people in this city. I had to drive pregnant ladies to the hospital. Four last year. An old woman had a heart attack in my cab a few months ago. She died. I saw a man get hit by a city bus last week.

Sometimes I get a hooker and her client and instead of getting a hotel room, she sucks his dick in the back seat of my cab. I used to hate it at first, but now I do not mind. Hookers always tip me better. Better than celebrities if you can believe that! Lots of blow jobs. I dunno what it is, but New Yorkers have a lot of oral sex in cabs. And I like to watch. I watch all the time...

Would you buy this book?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Rain Gently Falls

Since the inception of the written word and filmmaking, writers and directors have been using a shift in weather and/or the seasons to reflect the change in mood for a particular scene or character. The other morning, as most New Yorkers were still asleep or pulling themselves out of bed, I found myself jogging through a light rain as I admired the foliage of the empty tree lined streets that I ran down. The dual alliteration of a rainy autumn day summed up my cliche of a life. Those happy sunny summer days of poker are over for now as the winter of discontent approaches. And eventually the bitter winter freeze ends in a thaw and those warm halcyon days quickly return. But not for a while. The cycle has to run it's course and when those days return, I'll be a slightly different person.

My iPod had died the night before and all I had were my thoughts to keep me entertained as I shrugged off the subtle pain in my right knee that crept up somewhere during the second mile of my morning run. I convinced myself that working out would be more beneficial in the long term that satisfying any of three urges that kept flashing through my head. Instead of running through puddles, I longed to sleep in a warm bed with a blonde du jour or to write with music blasting at top volume under a thick cloud of marijuana smoke or to eat a huge platter of crispy bacon with a side order of bacon. Anything seemed better than plodding through the wet streets and avoiding the slippery multicolored leaves.

I originally chose to pursue my inner calling as a writer for three specific reasons. I wanted to take alternative path in life. I wanted to challenge myself and see if I'm just a shit talker or someone who actually accomplishes things. And the third is one that seems to motivate the masses... I did it to get chicks.

I started a blog by the recommendation of my old college roommate who happened to write for a newspaper in Florida. He said it would be good outlet for me when I was on Wall Street. Eventually my original blog became a conversation with my friend Senor who had quit his job in NYC and moved to Southeast Asia shortly prior to 9.11. We barely had any contact then, so I would write stuff out that I would normally tell him and he'd go to an internet cafe once a week and catch up. I've taken that philosophy to my other blogs. Although I write mainly for myself, I'm also writing to an audience of one... Senor. I guess that's been my secret to blogging and why my words seem so personal at times. You're reading transcripts of conversations that I wanted to have but never got a chance to. And today, Senor is married with kids in Rhode Island. Although we're in closer geographically these days, he's so busy and we're living worlds apart that my only contact with him is when he reads my blogs.

I chose the poker path a few years ago because I was looking for a shortcut. Life is tough enough and the highway to all destinations pointing to the American Dream are congested due to road work with too many detours and alternative routes that lead nowhere. Poker was a way to get some quick cash. Then there's a deeper sense of satisfaction that you feel when win money at a poker table than if you earn it slinging beers behind a bar. I was willing to put my balls and money on the line, and the payoff was exhilarating and intoxicating. Part of it was a sense of smugness and sense of self-accomplishment that makes you walk tall because you had the testicular fortitude to take a shot by gambling on yourself instead of having to put on a suit and tie and take guff from an inept boss.

The risks were greater and so were the payoffs. That's the attraction of living the bohemian lifestyle or becoming a professional poker player. But the illusion and myth are much different from the reality. As I stated earlier, I got into poker and writing because I wanted to shy away from responsibility, yet here I am today bombarded with a longer list of responsibilities then when I had during my Wall Street days.

"It must be great to sleep in everyday," a friend recently wrote me. She had a misconception of my life.

"If I'm sleeping until noon, it's because I went to bed at 8am. Most days I'm up by 6 or 7am. I haven't been able to sleep in in months."

What the hell happened? I relished the outlaw lifestyle and now my days are filled with conference calls and meetings. I can't tell my bosses and peers what I really think about them and I have to play office politics in the poker industry even though I don't have an office. I have to censor myself all the time because there's that adage in the business world... if you are going to stab someone in the back, make sure they're on their way down the ladder and not up it. For now, I'm saving those juicy nuggets on the inbred dipshits of poker for a future book.

I knew I was in trouble when I went to take time off to write in September. In the past, my writing time became a sacred ritual and I retreated into seclusion and no one saw or heard from me until weeks later when I emerged with a manuscript. Although I skipped gigs at the Borgata and Aruba, I did not completely unplug myself. It was virtually impossible. My life had become a 24/7/365 business.

I couldn't even take a vacation away from poker without the shit smashing into the fan with the UIGEA. It could not have come at a worst time for me. All I wanted to do was write and not think about poker. No such luck. The emails started piling up. Then the calls, first from my baffled friends. Then freaked out bloggers. Then the confused people I work for. Then the press starting calling. Mainstream press too like the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and Business Week calling me wanting to get my reaction and a quote.

I admit that selfishly at first I didn't care. I started to care a little bit when my friends started losing their jobs and sources of income and now I'm back in that I don't give a shit mode. As a writer, I secretly wanted to get out of the poker industry ever since I started it. I've been suffocating creatively for over a year due to the constraining nature of poker writing. And working in the same industry as my hobby made it tougher for me to enjoy poker when I wasn't working. Alas, the money involved was too good for me to walk away. Actually I tried to walk away earlier this year when I nearly pulled my blogs but cooler heads pointed out how much money I'd lose if I exited the industry and how I could use that to self-publish my own books or use the cash to travel.

Poker is either a distraction, a hobby, or a vehicle that some people use to unleash their personal shortcomings, addictions, and behavioral deficiencies. Simply put, poker is a game and if it's not fun anymore (like it had gotten for me on many instances) then you have to rediscover that jovial quality of poker.

I took a break and redefined my primary objective in poker before I returned to cover the WPT Championship. I cut a deal with myself that ended up coming up with a worthy compromise. I'd work for five months straight and then take the rest of the year off to write. My goal was to travel and write for the rest of 2006 before I went back to work in Jan 2007. Then I'd work through the end of the WSOP before I took another few months off to write for myself before I returned to poker in Jan 2008 to repeat the cycle. I discovered a way to still do poker and still keep my creative juices flowing with other non-poker projects.

In a positive light, this shake up might be just what I needed. I'm taking a hit in the wallet with the closure of Party Poker. That's where I made my most money playing online poker but some of those players have already emerged on Full Tilt and Poker Stars. I'll be losing a percentage of income with affiliates and ads, but I made the majority of my living as a freelance writer. Although I lost a few freelance clients and had to take a paycut at some places, I'm still writing with some of the majors. With several of my clients paying me less, there's less pressure per assignment. And with less clients, I regained some of my time back. My time is priceless so the more I thought about it, losing clients was the best thing for me.

It is going to take a few months before the entire poker industry will be in a better place to assess the damage. The poker expansion had gotten out of control and it was gaining momentum and speed faster than any of us could keep up. Now that's it's come to a halt and started to nose dive, we'll all have to see where it plateaus out.

As the poker machine swelled, it all of a sudden took on an ultra serious quality. In the media room at the Rio this past summer, we'd all laugh at the suits at Harrah's who walked around all smug because they honestly thought that the World Series of Poker was an actual sport. Or how some of us in media row make fun of the some of the arrogant attitudes of the WPT staff and crew because they act like they created poker. Although both the WSOP and WPT play a substantial role within the poker world, in the bigger picture they're insignificant in the real world.

I always thought we were one big scandal away from having the bubble burst. If poker takes a turn for the worst, I won't be shilling BoDog, Poker Stars, and Full Tilt anymore. I'll be standing on a milk crate and selling hair tonic in Times Square on Broadway and 43rd St. to tourists from Albania and Alabama.

The one good result of the IUGEA is that it lit a fire under the ass of some bloggers. For the first time in months, they were inspired to write and voice their opinion on matters that they were passionate about. Sadly, it wasn't the torture doctrines or other shady things our leaders are doing behind closed doors that got people up in arms. But at the least, people were writing from the heart and gut.

As an artist, I encourage (poker) bloggers to write what they want and when they want, because that's how they'll find their voice and become their own person. Without a voice, a blog is dead. You have to allow that evolution and metamorphosis to take shape. Once a person has an understanding of their ability and voice, then those blogs become a pleasure to read no matter if they are talking about bad beats, playing in Las Vegas, or mowing their lawn.

Some people that were bothered (shakes head) by the Spice Girls contest just didn't get it. If you want to be a better writer, you have to express yourself creatively and write about different things in order to grow. That contest and future ones are an exercise for people who were stuck or needed "the writer's shove" as my friend Jessica calls it.

And the contest also served a greater philosophical purpose. If you come to the understanding that writing about the Spice Girls is as meaningless as writing up how you played online last night, then you achieved a level of existentialist thinking that most bloggers cannot grasp.

In the end, none of this matters.

I don't know about you, but I'm bored with writing about life. Time to go live it.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

LLT and Gracie Wins the Spice Girls Essasy Contest

Thanks for everyone who particpated in the first ever Tao of Poker Essay Contest. There were some great submissions and my lovely assistant Jessica and I had a lot of fun reading them all. We had a tough time figuring out who was the best. We narrowed it down to three choices:
Gracie's If I Were a Spice Girl
Change100's Which Do You Wannabe?
Iakaris' In late, but hopefully In Time
In the end, Gracie's essay stood out from the rest of the pack. She won first place and will get $25 and her essay will be published in the November issue of Truckin'. Here's her winning piece:
If I Were a Spice Girl by Gracie

"Dear God, you made many, many poor people.
I realize, of course, that it's no shame to be poor.
But it's no great honor either!
So, what would have been so terrible if I had a small fortune?"
- Zero Mostel, If I Were a Rich Man

If I were a spice girl,
ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
All day long I'd shake me little bum.
If I were a wee spice girl.

I wouldn't have to work hard.
I'd get my agent to sign a leedle weedle wee contract.
If I had a record company,
They could sign me up-a real-a quick.

I'd build a big story 'bout myself getting hit by
a taxi driving Miss Posh Spice.
A fine tale that will get media going
that will create grand gossip just going up,
and one reputation coming down.
With all those poor girls going nowhere, oh so fast.

I'd fill my yard with Posh and Ginger, and Scary,
and Baby for the world to see and hear.
Squawking Brit Pop as shrilly as they can.
And each loud, "I'll tell ya!" "What I want!" "What I really!" "Really want!"
would land like a trumpet on the ear,
as if to say, "Here lives the wee Spice Girls!"


If I were a Spice Girl,
ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
All day long I'd shake me little bum.
If I were smarter than those girls.

A modicum of talent.
Instead I'd make my very own small record company.
If I were a little clever, yes,
I'd show them all what could I really do.

I see my life, my fame, looking like a rich man's life
without scandal from within.
Supervising press unlike a soccer wife.
I see them putting on airs and strutting like a peacock
posing for some nudie magazine.
Posh and Ginger, Scary, Baby, yay not me!

The most important men in town would come to fawn on me!
They would ask me to fellate them,
as if I were Ginger Spice.
"If you please, Mel C...
"Pardon me, Mel C..."
Suggesting favors that would cross a Spice Girl's eyes!
And it won't make one bit of difference if I answer yes or no.
When you're rich, they think you'll swallow!

If I were rich, I'd have the time that I lack
to create and run Red Girl Records.
And maybe even release "Beautiful Intentions".
And I'd discuss the "Next Best Superstar" for several hours every day.
That would be the sweetest thing of all.

If I were a Spice Girl,
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
All day long I'd shake me little bum.
If I were a wealthy girl.

I'd kinda have to work hard.
Cause the leedle weedle, other girlies are so fucking dumb.
Lord who made the media machine
you decreed what it is I should become.
Would it spoil some vast eternal plan
if Sporty were the one who has the fun

There was a tie for second place, so that means Daddy will be calling both Change100 and Iakaris sometime in the upcoming months, when Daddy will recite a Bible passage or read excerpts from my novel Jack Tripper Stole My Dog.

I was surprised to discover that so many of you wanted to be Sporty Spice. I guess it's the typical male fantasy of being a lesbian so you get to make out with other chicks.

Thanks again to everyone who submitted something. Here were some of the best of the best... Gracie, Iakaris, Change100, Daddy, TripJax, Bobby Bracelet, Donkey Puncher, SirWaffle, Chilly, Sit On Your Head, Joepro, Nick the Prophecy, Kajagugu, Dr. Chako, and Doog.

* * * * *

I didn't forget that it was Liz Lieu Tuesdays! I know it's a repeat, but here's one of my favorite pics of Liz lounging at the pool.

Monday, October 16, 2006

R.I.P. Party Poker
"We all had such a wonderful time..." - Woody Allen
Thanks to Byron for hosting the WBPT Swollen Genitalia Night at Full Tilt, where Derek made the final table of the Razz event on his birthday of all days. And yes I sucked out on him on the final table. Derek finished in 5th as I took 3rd and made the money despite being shortstacked for the last hour of the tourney.

play online pokerI can't seem to win these things. I have a 2nd and 3rd place finish this year and that's it. Congrats to Hoy who came from behind to win.

I also played in the Put a Bad Beat on Cancer charity event at Full Tilt with Rafe Furst, Andy Bloch, and Phil Gordon. Despite doubling up early, I exited early in 84th out of 174. Phil Gordon won the entire thing and Kat bubbled off the final table. Change100 also made the money and finished in 14th place.

It's been good to play in a few of these tournaments including The Mookie (on Wednesdays) since I'll be hitting the road starting Friday and won't have much time to play in blogger events over the next four weeks.

* * * * *

It seems like a decade ago, but it was only in early 2004 when I dove head first into the fishy waters at Party Poker. I had been an online virgin and I prided myself primarily as a live player as I made weekly treks to casinos either renting a car to drive to Foxwoods or hopping on a bus to Atlantic City. My favorite underground poker room was located three blocks away from the apartment of a neurotic Valium-guzzling actress who I used to date.

At the insistence of Iggy, I deposited money onto Party Poker and opened up an account with Choice Poker for the first ever blogger tournament. Choice Poker stole our money but that began a series of blogger tournaments on different sites that eventually morphed into the WBPT. I was excited to play online with other bloggers and partake in Grubby's Infamous Hammer Challenge which put The Hammer on the map. Raising with 7-2o had been seared into our brains and The Hammer officially became a part of everyday poker vernacular

Within a few weeks playing on Party Poker, I almost won a seat into the 2004 WPT Championships at the Bellagio through a satellite. I missed a seat by a few spots. In late 2004, I got close to winning a seat in the Aussie Millions.

I started out playing NL ring games and SNGs. On Saturday mornings, I'd play in that huge 2000+ person $5 MTT with my brother, Maudie, BG, Chris Halverson, or whoever else was around. Over the last 2.5 years, I've switched up what games that I play. For a while, I grinded it out at the $30 and $50 SNGs until I hit a dismal losing streak and lost a chunk of my bankroll. Then I played $100 MTTs but kept headbutting myself on the bubble. I quit playing tournaments shortly after I lost another percentage of my roll.

After crunching the numbers and doing some soul searching, I gave up tournaments and focused on cash games. I'd play NL live and play Limit tables online. I eventually accepted my role as an online low limit grinder. The numbers told me my best results were on Party Poker, so that's where I grinded it out and finally found my niche.

Grinding is boring. So is playing ABC poker. However, the consistent flow of money ended up being my motivation. Playing limit online wasn't sexy or exciting or challenging, but earning money never is. And it's tough to walk away from free money.

I multi-tabled 3/6 and eventually made my way up to 5/10 and 10/20. In order to keep my mind sharp and to satisfy my inner action junkie, I played PLO tables on Party Poker. I began in the kiddie pool at the $25 tables and eventually I found myself sitting at the $1000 PLO tables slugging it out against eurodonkeys.

In the last week of playing on Party Poker, I frequently took shots at the 15/30 tables. And like HDouble had been telling me for years... those players are awful. Too bad variance slapped me around, otherwise I would have left with a nice score.

Party Poker is my favorite online poker site. Or was. My definition of favorite is the site where I won the most money on. Since my first cash out (I originally funded my account using a Western Union transfer and used to get paid in checks when I cashed out) I've used the money I fleeced off the fish to pay my bills, funded trips to Foxwoods, AC, and Las Vegas, followed Phish and traveled with my winnings, padded my bankroll, and bought my Mom a TV and a new flat screen monitor.

No matter how bad I was running in real life or on other sites... I could always fire up Party Poker for a quick ego boost. Now that safety net is gone. My security blanket is no longer. Say good-bye to the Woobie.

Probably the biggest thing I'll miss about Party Poker is the anonymity. I changed my original screen name when random readers started recognizing me at the tables. Since then I never really had any problems. A few friends knew who I was and kept my secret safe. I used to play under a super-secret name on Empire Poker and sat at blogger tables incognito, which was more fun at times because people actually folded to my raises and not everyone tried to bluff me.

Here are a couple of random hands that happened the last week at the tables on Party Poker:
15/30 Limit Hold'em: I had been playing tight when I found 6-6 at the cutoff so I raised when the action got folded to me. The button (who had been playing a lot of hands) called and the big blind (who had been playing tight-aggressive) re-raised. I called along with the Button. The flop was a rainbow A-Q-6. Big blind opened up and I raised. The Button called and the big blind three bet. I capped it and the Button and big blind called. Big blind opened up again on the turn when another rag fell. I raised, the Button and big blind both called. On the river a Jack fell. Big blind checked, I bet and the Button raised. Big blind and I both called. "Who's got K-10?" I typed in the chat. Big blind had A-K, which I put him on. The Button showed J-J. I have no idea why he called all the way to the river with two overs on the board.

5/10 Pot Limit Omaha: Talk about a juiced hand even for PLO. With As-Kc-3s-3c, I limped in LP. Flop was Ks-4s-3h. One player bet 3/4 pot, another called and I raised the pot with bottom set and the nut flush redraw. Both called. On the turn, the case 3 fell which gave me quads. First player bet 1/2 the pot, second player raised all-in (we had him covered). We both called. On the river a King spiked and the board read K-4-3-3-K. The first player bet 1/2 pot, I moved all in and he called. The hands... player one showed 4-4-x-x for a full house fours over Kings. Second player showed A-A-x-x. And I busted two players with quads.
Despite the lukewarm results at the 15/30 tables, I managed to cash out of Party Poker with one last score.

* * * * *

And yes, I'm glad that last week is over. Not only did Bill Frist run my favorite poker site out of the country, he's also chopping away at my freelance writing career. I got dropped by two freelance clients and had to reduce my rate for another publication due to his legislation. Plus Party Poker is still investigating my affiliate account for fraud and they have not been very helpful with explaining to me what's going on. Personally, I think that's all bullshit and they don't want to pay me because of their shrinking income. I had been loyal to them since I started playing online and brought them hundreds of players over the past two WSOP and this is how they end things? Like I said last week... it's their loss, not mine.

If you are a Party Poker player looking for a new place to play, then you should be following the fish! They're playing on Poker Stars and Full Tilt Poker. Both sites have generous first-time deposit bonuses up to 100%. And Full Tilt is also currently running a reload bonus through Friday.
Download Full Tilt Poker here
Download PokerStars here

Sunday, October 15, 2006

October Truckin, Derek Day, and Other Random Pimpage

Don't forget that the Tao of Poker Spice Girls Essay Contest ends tonight at Midnight! Thanks to everyone who has a sense of humor and participated.

I read about this charity tournament on Kat's blog. She even made a cool banner. I've signed up and will do my best to make the tournament.

Biggestron is also hosting WPBT Swollen Genitalia Night over at Full Tilt at the same time.
Title: WPBT#10: R is for Razz
Format: Razz
When: Sunday, Oct. 15th at 9PM EST
Where: Full Tilt
Buy-in: $20 + 2
Password: wpbt72
(Download Full Tilt Poker here)

In the Sunday Required Reading Section...

Flipchip wrote a good piece called Cory Lidle Was a Friend of Poker.

A couple of days ago, Change100 posted an interesting article about Harrah's not taking 3rd party buy-ins at the 2007 WSOP. Which means a shitload of coin that they'll make off of their satellites.

Check out CC's interview with Charlie Hyde. Who is Charlie Hyde? Go find out for yourself.

And how about Pokerati expanding into restaurant reviews? Michalski must be hurting for material over there. Surrounding yourself with naked strippers can suck the life out of you. I kid, I kid. It's a great review and I love the fact that he graded atmosphere as A-J suited.

I wrote a review of Trey Anastasio's concert at Webster Hall in NYC over at my music blog. Take a peek.

I have to share with you one of my favorite all-time You Tube videos (and all-time episodes of Facts of Life) called... Tootie's Bong. My favorite line is... "We're a three bong family."

* * * * *

I've made two deadlines in a row! That's remarkable considering how busy I've been. This epic October issue of Truckin' features five returning authors including C. Anderson Guthrie with his first story for 2006. The always talented Joe Speaker shares a touching tale as Doog weaves Part II of his Roots series. Sean A. Donahue is also back and I wrote up a few random subway stories that I encountered during my first few weeks back in the big city.
Truckin' - October 2006, Vol. 6, Issue 10

1. October Subway Stories by Paul McGuire
A hunched-over bum slowly navigated his way through the crowded car and sat down in an empty seat next to me. He carried a big black bulky garbage bag which happened to be the standard issue for every homeless person in the city along with the same pair of sneakers four sizes too big and a ratty grey winter coat... More

2. Roots - Part II by Doog
To soothe the ache deep in his soul, Leo G took solace in the welcoming arms of lovely young nubile chickadees, sometimes several sets of arms at the same time. After all, when you’ve got dashing good looks, a mercury-silver tongue, and the willingness to use the above in a less-than-moral manner, why not?... More

3. Gummy by C. Anderson Guthrie
This woman wasn't the kind of woman you bring home to momma, oh no -- she was the kind of woman that takes out her teeth before giving an alleyway blowjob. You know, the considerate type... More

4. Total Recall by Joe Speaker
I was grilling another young co-ed, flirtatious pressure amidst the stench of spilled beer and rampaging testosterone. The scene was cliched, she said, and she marked me down as a typical frat boy, interested only in getting drunk and getting naked... More

5. Until I Am No Longer Needed by Sean A. Donahue
My back felt the brunt of the pain and as the dust settled I examined my predicament. I was ten feet down in a hole of an ancient volcano with my right arm broken and my left leg shattered... More

If you like these stories, then add Truckin' to your blogroll and tell your friends about your favorite stories. It takes just a few seconds to pass along the URL and we certainly appreciate your support. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you know anyone who is interested in being added to the mailing list. And of course, thanks to all the writers for sharing their work this month.

* * * * *

Lastly, today is my brother's birthday. Happy birthday, Derek.

His birthday got off to a rough start when Lee Watkison felted him twice last night at the NL tables on Full Tilt. But at least he got a birthday email from Liz Lieu!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Good Bye Party Poker, Hello PokerStars and Full Tilt

Party Poker retreated on Friday and left American soil while PokerStars and Full Tilt dug into their trenches and will be holding the line. It was nice to see this blurb the other day: PokerStars says US Gaming Ban Does Not Cover Poker.

If you are a Party Poker player looking for action on a new site...
Download Full Tilt Poker here
Download PokerStars here
I split my Party Poker bankroll and put half on Full Tilt and half on PokerStars. And if you don't know, Full Tilt is running a reload bonus (50% up to $500) through the end of next week. For new members, Full Tilt offers a 100% sign up bonus up to $600.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Tao of Poker Essay Contest: The Spice Girls

Editor's Note: The deadline for the essay contest has been extended to Sunday October 15th at Midnight PCT.

I wanted to run this a couple of weeks ago, but the UIGEA bumped this post back. Anyway, here's the skinny... I'm running an essay contest that is only open to bloggers. First place wins $25 and their essay will appear in a future issue of Truckin'. Make sure you read the rules (posted below) before you begin!

Here's your topic: If you could be a Spice Girl, which one would you be and why?

In case you didn't know your choices are Posh Spice, Ginger Spice, Sporty Spice, Scary Spice, and Baby Spice.

Tao of Poker Essay Contest Rules and Regulations:
1. Contest begins at now and ends Friday 10.13.06 Sunday 10.15.06 at Midnight Pacific Time.
2. Post your Spice Girls essay on your blog at any time between now and Sunday night's Midnight deadline.
3. Essay length should not be more than 666 words.
4. After you post your essay, shoot me an email and tell me the URL of your post.
5. Judging will take place next week by yours truly and Jessica, my assistant editor at Truckin'. We will announced next Friday.
6. Essays will be judged on originality, humor, and sincerity.
7. First place wins $25 and the option of having their essay published in a future issue of Truckin'. Second place gets a phone call from Daddy.
8. Failure to comply with any of the above rules will result in an automatic disqualification.
That's it. Any questions? Shoot me an email. Best of luck.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do." - Bruce Lee
I've lost 16 pounds since the Binge at the Boathouse. Not only was my birthday included in that four day bender, but also I managed to eat high off the hog at posh eateries such as the Palm in Manhattan or Bobby Flay's new steakhouse at the Borgata. With a three week bender scheduled for the end of October that will take me to the Left Coast and to Europe, I decided I needed to sober up, lose some weight, and get much needed exercise.

play online pokerI weighed a career high 205 pounds shortly after the Boathouse and now I'm a lean and mean 189. The first sixteen pounds were easy to lose. It's the next ten that will be tough. I cut back on some of my favorite high-carb foods such as bagels and pasta and added exercise to my daily routine. Before most of you arrived at work, I already jogged three miles and completed a two hour free write.

And in case you were wondering, I'm not trying to win a prop bet or anything like that. My decision to lose weight and exercise was not influenced by my degenerate gambling habits. Over the past month, I've been honing my skills as a writer and wanted to added a three prong approach towards self-improvement. Not only am I working on my novel Jack Tripper Stole My Dog, but I've also been dedicating my time to improve my mental status and physical well being.

Craft. Mind. Body.

Those have been my three essentials as my time in NYC ends shortly. Being an insomniac and not having a team to root for in the MLB playoffs frees up huge chunks of time. And after the first few days of exercising, I realized that the time helped clear my head which was an added bonus. I look at working out as walking meditation. I have a bad knee thanks to a hockey injury from college. As the story goes, on a head full of liquid sunshine, I fell down a flight a stairs in my fraternity house chasing around a half-naked sorority girl.

When I first started exercising after the Boathouse, I opted to walk briskly every morning. However, in the last two days I started jogging again. I start my mornings by walking for a mile, then I jog three miles before I cool off by walking the last mile. When I was a freshman in high school, I ran cross country track and every morning before classes started, I ran the trail around the Central Park Reservoir. That was 1.5 miles long. Twenty years later I'm way out of shape and pushing myself to run twice as long through the hills of Riverdale, Fieldston, and Van Cortlandt Park.

This morning during my run, I came to the conclusion that there's a correlation between winning poker players and successful dieters. If you are not disciplined and don't exercise, you're going to fail.

The main reason that diets fail is not due to the structure of the diet. It's because at the core, humans are weak and lack discipline. We live in a world of distractions and are bombarded by the media's psychological mind-fucks. It's not the diet that doesn't work... it's the dieter. It doesn't matter if you utilize NutriSystem or Jenny Craig or the Sonoma Diet, unless you're willing to stay disciplined and stick to the diet, you'll never achieve your target weight. Same goes for poker.

If you lack discipline at the tables and don't stick to your plan of attack, you'll lose every time. That's why poker books sell, not because they have any earth shattering strategy that no one has never heard of. Ever since Texas Dolly leaked his playing strategy to the masses in the first edition of Super System, there has not been any shocking revelations on how to play Texas Hold'em. But why do these books sell? Because losing poker players lack discipline and they think that the next book they pick up is going to shed some light on how to win. These folks donk off thousands of dollars at the tables, of course they'd be willing to fork over $20 to figure out a short cut to winning.

By the way here's a plug... if you haven't read Scott Gallant's book "Pressure Poker", then what are you waiting for?

There are no shortcuts to becoming a winning poker player. You have to play frequently, make solid decisions, learn from your mistakes, and be willing to get your ass kicked from time to time especially when you did everything right.

Like I said before, any diet will work if you're disciplined and any poker strategy will work over the long haul if you are patient and disciplined. The key ingredient to weight loss is diet and exercise. And the key to becoming winning poker is discipline and exercise. You have to play frequently if you want to be a better player. That doesn't mean playing twelve hours a day seven days a week, but it does mean that you need to see a fair amount of flops every week if you want to stay fresh and remain in sync with your game.

The hardest times for me to play poker are the first few days after a long layoff from the tables, particularly after covering the WSOP for two months straight. Although I've absorbed tournament poker 24/7 for eight weeks straight, I didn't log any meaningful hours at the tables and my game faltered. It took me a few sessions before I got my groove back and the next thing I realized... I was in the hole.

Party Poker closing its doors to American players is similar to having the gym in your neighborhood shut down. I'm not going to have my favorite gym to work out at anymore. No matter where I've been on the road over the last two years, whether if it was in an airport terminal waiting for a delayed flight or sitting in a hotel room at 4am, I always found time to fire up Party Poker to keep my poker pipes clean. Online poker gave players who do not live near casinos or legal card rooms the opportunity to hone their skills on a daily basis. And I wonder what the drop off level in skill is going to be for some of those players?

I also had a weird thought about playing good cards is like eating healthy. And sometimes you can eat bad foods and play junk hands... but only when those circumstances are right. But I can't carve any more than a sentence out of that thought, so I'll end it right now.

* * * * *

I've been spending the last week or so playing 15/30 on Party Poker with hit and runs at the $500 and $1000 PLO tables. I'm padding my bankroll, but man I'm sure going to miss the fishy waters on Party Poker.

By the way, my affiliate account by Party Poker was frozen by the freaked out suits over there. They won't pay me my September affiliate revenues while they investigate my account... for fraud. They are scrutinizing every player I signed up over the last six months.

As someone who's has sent them over a hundred players in the last two years without any problems (especially during the high peak traffic season during the WSOP), I took the move as an insult especially because they never bothered to tell me up front what was going on. I found out the hard way. I called them to figure out why I couldn't access my account and my rep withheld important information and gave me a vague reason why I'm being investigated. Luckily, I knew someone on the inside who took a look at my account for me to tell me the truth about what's going on.

Bad PR move on their part. I pulled all my affiliate links and I've already written off my September revenue from Party Poker as a loss. I will think twice about doing business with them in the future. Hey, in the end it's really their loss... they lost a loyal ally.

As is, if you are going to close your Party Poker account this week, I suggest that you sign up for Poker Stars or Full Tilt. Both have hefty sign up bonuses and that's where I'll be playing over the next few months while the river of shit we're wading in gets cleaned up.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Exile on Main Street

"Just for grins I shoved a hot pepper up my ass while I was jerking off. Pretty hot, but not hot enough to not try it yourself." - Daddy

I was 22 when Jerry Garcia died on August 9, 1995. I had the day off from work and went to see a rare weekday Yankees game with my buddy Jerry who was in town on summer vacation from law school. We got drunk, smoked a joint in stairwell in left field, and watched Cal Ripken smash two home runs as the Yankees lost.

After the game I stopped by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to meet up with my girlfriend at the time. That's when I found out about the news of Jerry Garcia's passing. Less then two months earlier, I met Jerry Garcia and shook his hand (which eleven years later still marks one of my Top 10 Moments of All Time along with getting a blowjob on the subway and finishing my first novel).

Some older hippies and Deadheads that I know said, "The 1960s officially ended when Jerry Garcia died." For many fans the news was devastating. The music of the Grateful Dead was not just for teenagers. As they band evolved and got older, so too did the audience. The death of their icon and hero affected not just kids but former hippies who integrated into society. They had jobs, families, and mortgages and the day Jerry Garcia died marked a void for many of them.

The Grateful Dead were followed all around the world by it's fervent fans. Some never left tour while others jumped on and off as the drove around the country checking out shows in different cities. When Jerry Garcia died, not only did the music stop but so did the essential purpose for many individuals. Their entire lives revolved around the Grateful Dead touring. That included not just fans, but also people who worked and earned a living in the Dead's bubble such as roadies, management, and merchandise vendors. Most of the hippies following the Dead from city to city paid their way by vending in the parking lot. Most of them lived in their cars, vans, and VW buses and sold enough stuff to buy gas, food, and a ticket to the next show. When Jerry Garcia died, an entire subculture plunged into confusion. They never had conventional jobs and found themselves at a crossroads of uncertainty, confusion, and grief.

The immediate result for the passing of Jerry Garcia and the eventual break up of the Grateful Dead also meant that there was a void to be filled. Even Rolling Stone magazine printed up a list of bands that would take the torch from the Dead. In fact several of those bands benefited financially and commercially from Jerry Garcia's death. Without the Dead to follow around, bands like Widespread Panic, Dave Matthews Band, and Phish eventually inherited the fans, the suits, and the hippie vendors hawking their wares in the parking lot of their concerts. Their careers were advanced by the death of Jerry Garica.

Even I took advantage of the nomadic lifestyle in the late 1990s. I spent most of 1999 following Phish all over North America seeing concerts in 19 different states and 26 different cities including two in Canada. I got by selling whatever I could in the parking lots to get by whether it was tickets, pharmies, or t-shirts. Even my girlfriend at the time sold hemp jewelry or veggie burritos in order to earn enough money to buy a ticket for that night's show and have enough money left over to buy beer and gas so we can drive to the next city and repeat the process all over again.

In 2004 when Phish broke up, there was another void to be filled and several other bands benefited from the rabid subculture. Some hippies grew old and others cut their hair and got real jobs while a new crop of prep school kids or frat and sorority girls joined the mix to keep the monster going. They voraciously drink, ingest drugs, and will party to dawn. They love music and will travel thousands of miles to see a concert. Plus they'll spend money... and money is what keeps the monster going.

Twenty years from now they'll be some new band that kids will follow around religiously like I did with the Dead in college and Phish in my mid/late 20s. Why? Because that's what some people are into. They want to escape from the bitter realities of the actual world and feel connected to something/someone even if it's for a few hours.

I saw what happened to the hippie subculture in a post-death Jerry Garcia world and that's the closest comparison that I can come up with the recent legislation that tweaks the legality of online poker. Within a few days of Party Poker annoucning their pull out of the American market, other sites such as Full Tilt and Poker Stars said they'd stay. They're filling the void and billions of dollars in rake and tournament fees will go into their bank accounts instead of Party Gaming.

Online poker is not dead. Yet. Even though the party got busted up, people still want a fix. Ever go to one of those huge suburban parties in high school and the entire place is jumping and you're about to declare the festivities were epic enough to be awarded Party of the Year... and then the cops come and bust it up? Mostly everyone leaves and goes home, but a few die hards stay around and drink the rest of the keg. I'm gonna be one of those guys.

For the past week, I've read the collective narcissitic pychodramas on everyone's blogs regarding the death of online poker and Black Monday or Black Friday. And depending on who your read, the future is dim and dark or bright and rosey. I think that the future falls somewhere in between. The news is not that bad, but it's not good either.

The post-apocalyptic poker world will not have mutant kids with three eyes running around and Jesus Freaks jumping out of the bushes spraying Holy Water onto the faces of hedonists. I don't think black helicopters will land in your cul de sac and the federalies will whisk you away if they find you playing an SNG on Poker Stars and ship you in a secret CIA prison in Djibouti where they'll fry your testicles with car batteries and rip out your fingernails with rusty pliers before they toss you into a 10 by 10 cell with a fingernailess zealot named Ahmed who has a tattoo of "Death to America" written in Farsi on his forehead.

Or maybe they will?

Poker players are gamblers at heart and some will take risks to maintain their fix. The world is filled with greedy people and they'll be several ruthless companies who'll flip the bird to the American courts and lawmakers that will take risks to gain access to the subculture of online poker players.

Then I look at a place like my hometown of New York City and try to figue out the future. Without online poker, the demand for new poker rooms and underground clubs will increase dramatically. Some daring entrepreneurs will open up new clubs and the players will come in droves. Whichever ethnic mafia running rooms is about to make a shitload of money in the Big Apple. Of course the police will have to get involved and spend time shutting down the rooms, just like cops in the 1920s busted up bathtub gins and speakeasies.

The right-wingers who were in favor of the anti-online poker legislation pulled out the terrorist card and said that online gambling sites can be a haven for terrorists to launder money. But by banning online poker, the NYPD will have to exhaust their already limited resources on busting up poker games rather than focusing on protecting our city from terrorists... which we're severely underprepared. Instead of cops breaking up terror cells, they'll be wasting their time keeping my brother, F Train, and The Rooster out of poker clubs in Chinatown. By trying to make our nation safer... the suits in Washington made my city more vulnerable.

Politicians don't care about the people. They only care about themselves. Same goes for corporations. If it comes down to a choice between you or them... they'll cut the rope everytime and let you fall to your death. That's the way it is and that's why I've lost my passion for politics. It's not apathy but ultimately realizing that we don't live in a true democracy and we don't have freedom of choice but the illusion of freedom and choice. We can vote out the politicians currently in office, but they'll be replaced with a new group of lying scumbags that will sell your kids to the highest bidder if it meant they'll get another term in office.

That's why I don't see a revolutionary change happening in America. Not just with poker but with everything else surrounding the eroding civil liberties of Americans. Here's my reasoning... my peers in Generation X and the kids born after me are spoiled, lazy, dumbass little shitheads. We're overly selfish, hypersensitive, and too self-centered. We don't have the vision or the passion to evoke a world wide change like the baby boomers did in the 1960s. The hippies were better educated and organized. They believed in a better way and a brighter future. They put themselves on the line and for a while, the people in power got spooked the fuck out.

Most of the Americans that I know are more concerned with watching TV and buying stuff rather than hitting the streets to protest en masse. Some might write up whiny diatribes on their blogs or write nasty letters to their congressman, but after their little rants they'll never leave the couch or their cubicle to actually do something. We're a nation of apathetic scared fatasses and we're going to continue to let scrupulous politicians and multinational corporations dictate policy. Me included.

And the other reason I don't think my generation can undertake a social change is because the hippies failed. Even John Lennon admitted, "Flower power did not work. We need to try something different."

The 1960s saw the great minds, leaders, and visionaries trying to lead a charge against the political machines with millions of disgruntled citizens ready to make some changes. And in the end, it didn't work. The Man won. Black and white images from the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago or Kent State in 1970 should be all the proof that you need to see that in the end The Man will do anything possible to stay in power, which includes beating and killing their own citizens.

After the hippies got their heads full of Owsley's liquid sunshine bashed in a few times by the cops, they eventually stopped protesting. That's when militant groups sprung up like the Blank Panthers. I'm waiting for a militant group of poker bloggers to form a united front and start fire bombing the campaign headquarters of major political figures but that will never happen. We can't even get ten bloggers to agree on the same weekend to have a convention, let alone formulate any sort of social change and revolution.

I've traveled around the world enough and extensively throughout America to honestly say that this is an amazing country but our leaders are war mongering pimps selling our souls to suits in a boardroom somewhere. Sure there are places like Barcelona or Samui where I'd like to live for a while, but at some point I'd get homesick and want to return to America particularly New York City. Then again, I technically didn't grow up in America as Spalding Gray explained, "New York City is a small island off the coast of America."

As is, I'm an expatriate living in America. I finally understand the reference by The Rolling Stones... "exile on Main Street."

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sunday Required Reading: Quality Scribes

Check out the past week of articles and posts involving the recent anti-online gaming legislation over at:
Up for Poker
Bill Rini
Sound of a Suckout
Las Vegas and Poker Blog
Michael Craig's Journal
Lou Krieger
Oh and yes, my book sale is still running. Read Friday October 6th post called Pauly's Book Sale for more details.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

International Poker

During a routine check of my site meter I had one of those bizarre moments when I thought, "Sweet Jebus. People on the other side of the world are reading the Tao of Poker. There must be nothing on TV over there."

Friday, October 06, 2006

Pauly's Book Sale

Now for some non-poker content.

I'm in the process of eliminating bulky material items from my life such as books. I'm running a fire sale of several books from my vast library. I'm going to use the money that I raise towards a Christmas gift certificate for my mother at Amazon.com and/or Barnes & Noble. Yes, I'm selling books to raise money for Christmas presents.

I was going to sell them on a street corner in the Village or put them up for grabs on eBay or Amazon.com. But before I do that, I figure that I'd give my fellow bloggers and readers a chance at buying them first.

If you act now, you'll be eligible for a special offer!! With every book you purchase, Daddy will call you up on the phone and quote any passage from the bible of your choice. This is a limited offer!

I'm selling some gems including books from my favorite NYC writer... Arthur Nersesian. Most of the books are in good/excellent condition and you'll notice that they are all non-poker titles.

The prices listed include shipping charges:
$10 Books
The Rebel by Albert Camus
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
The Tibetan Book of the Dead by W.Y. Evans-Wentz
Impossible Vacation by Spalding Gray
Sex and Death to the Age of 14 by Spalding Gray
Swimming to Cambodia by Spalding Gray
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Desolation Angels by Jack Kerouac
Visions of Cody by Jack Kerouac
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
Fire by Sebastian Junger
Hunger by Knut Hamsun
One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
Identity by Milan Kundera
Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman
Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
The Media Is the Massage by Marshall McLuhan
Chinese Takeout by Arthur Nersesian
Dog Run by Arthur Nersesian
The Fuck-up by Arthur Nersesian
Manhattan Loverboy by Arthur Nersesian
Unlubricated by Arthur Nersesian
The Human Stain by Philip Roth
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
The Book On the Taboo of Against Knowing Who You Are by Alan Watts
The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts
Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
The Painted Word by Tom Wolfe
On Writing Well by William Zisner
Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav

$15 Books
Generation S.L.U.T.: A Brutal Feel-up Session with Today's Sex-Crazed Adolescent Populace by Marty Beckerman
Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
Last Words by William S. Burroughs
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
The Lexus and the Olive Tree by Thomas Friedman
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey
The Portable Nietzsche by Walter Kaufman
Tropic of Cancer by Lenry Miller
Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

$20 Book(s)
Ulysses by James Joyce

If you want a purchase a book...

1. Shoot me an email telling me the name of the book you want and your name with mailing address. Books are available on a first come first sold basis.
2. If the book is available, I'll send you an email confirming the availability of the book.
3. Once you get my confirmation email, send me payment to my online poker account. I'm DrPauly on both PokerStars and FullTilt. (Unfortunately, the sale is limited to anyone with an online poker account because that's the only way I'm accepting payments, through PokerStars or Full Tilt. If you don't have either or want to send cash/check... you are shit out of luck.)
4. Once I got confirmation of a payment, I'll ship your book. Shipping fee is included in the flat price.
5. If you live in Canada, I have to tack on an extra $5 for shipping costs. Sorry aboot that, eh.
6. Send me your phone number and Daddy will call you up for an oral presentation on a bible passage of your choice.

Act now before you liquidate your online poker accounts. Any questions? Shoot me an e-mail.