Sunday, November 25, 2007

Playing Poker with Scribes

By Pauly
New York City

There's someone in my head, but it's not me.

That Pink Floyd lyric summed up the series of dark, twisted, and inescapable emotions that tormented me for a few months. After a couple of relaxing weeks of healthy living and providing myself a positive environment to write and create, I have finally become reacquainted with my former self. And yes, I missed me.

The immediate result has been an elated feeling of self-worth. I have slowed time down and there by slowed myself down. I unpeeled all those excess layers of thick skin that I wrapped myself in just to shelter myself from the world. It's amazing that you can waltz through life for several days at a time as a madman, or asshole, or emotionally distraught individual, or just another clueless soul adrift in the cosmos, and yet still be the same person trying to reconnect with your true self.

I am constantly being hijacked by my quirky and diverse personalities. Depending on the time of year, or even the time of the day, my entire universe is ruled by the dominant personality trait (or flaw) at the time. Sometimes things turn out alright, but other times, I'm a walking disaster like when darkness launches a coup d'etat. That tends to happen to me a lot when I spend too much time inside a casino or gambling environment. That's why balance is important. I sacrificed a lot of energy earlier this year and now it's the perfect time to regenerate all those lost brain cells and mend all those troubled spots on my brain when I spent too many hours worrying about some pointless bullshit when I should have been enjoying living in the moment instead.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I drive fast. I walk fast. I live hard. And I'm constantly pushing myself. After speeding through life the last ten months, I welcomed a slow down. I simplified a lot of things and have been enjoying several hours a day where I'm unplugged and no longer a slave to my cell phone and email. I relish my freedom, while it lasts.

I have reduced my work schedule down to one day a week. I crammed five days of poker industry and freelance work into one hellish 18 hour day. And I get all of my responsibilities taken care of in that one day. I'm used to long hours, so it wasn't that much of a sacrifice since I gave up one day for six free days. The result has been remarkable. I have been devoting five days a week to a new writing project. I take off Sundays to watch football with my brother. So far, the experiment has worked and I'm thinking about how I can apply it to 2008.

I have disconnected from most of the world and get to lock myself in a room for most of the day where I write and listen to music and pace around and let my mind wander in thought. It had been so long since I got to do that.

I've been eating better, exercising regularly, and have been booze and painkiller free since my return to New York. I'm not quite living the Mormon lifestyle, and I'm smoking more than Slater from Dazed & Confused, but that's been my only vice. Well, that and stying up very late listening to a lot of old albums such as Bitches Brew by Miles Davis. I have been writing to that nonstop and has become part of the rotation of various background music that I listen to when I'm playing online poker.

So here we are with five weeks left in 2007 and I finally got a firm hold of my life. What the fuck was I doing the other 42 weeks?

* * * * *

My new schedule has allowed me to find time every night to play online poker. I finally killed the PokerStars jinx and had a couple of winning sessions. I'm on the verge of posting my first winning month on Stars in God knows how long. I was getting my ass reemed at the 15/30 and 10/20 LHE tables. But since I have been dabbling in 1/2 and 2/4 NL cash games on both Full Tilt and PokerStars, and I started to turn a small profit.

Since I have been playing more NL cash games, I have been playing less Pot Limit Omaha. However, one random night about a week ago, I played short-handed 1/2 PLO on Full Tilt with Jim McManus. He had over $1,600 in front of him when I sat down. The max buy-in is $200 and it looked like Jimbo was on a heater. We only played one big pot against each other inside the hour we played together. I took it down when I flopped a set against him... and it held up.

* * * * *

I played in a rare limit tournament over a week ago when I signed up for the FTOPS short-handed limit hold'em event. A couple of days before the tournament, I found myself killing time in the Flat Iron District and wandered through Barnes and Nobles. I headed to the poker section and re-read Howard Lederer's chapter on Limit in Michael Craig's book called the Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide.

Anyway, there were over 1,057 entrants. I held my own for the first level. My table was loose and I picked up a few pots with bottom pair and Ace high, just by making good calls. I was in 25th place with about 900 to go. Everything went well until a fuckhead rivered a gutshot on me. Later that orbit, I lost another hand when a different opponent rivered a flush. Next thing I knew, I was shortstacked and busted out in 574th place. I outlasted a slew of pros including Annette_15, Kenny Tran, and Max Pescatori. I also outlasted Michael Craig, who incidentally made two final tables at the WSOP this year.

Last Sunday night, I played in Miami Don's Big Game. That didn't go very well. Lost a bunch of chips on a two-outer. Got super-short and made a move with Ac-5c. I ran into Zeem's Big Slick and the rest was history.

* * * * *

On last Sunday afternoon, Wil Wheaton live blogged a sale of the hard copy edition of his latest book The Happiest Days of Our Lives.

Check out a review of his book over that I wrote over at Tao of Pauly. You can buy Wil Wheaton's book by clicking here.

Anyway, late in the afternoon, Wheaton announced a tourney at PokerStars on his blog. Only two tables of players showed up but Derek, Penner, and Change100 were among those who showed up. I busted my brother when I sucked out on him. Three way pot. I limped-called Derek's preflop raise, and one other called. I had 10d-8d. The flop was 9d-6h-3h. Ooooh, a gutshot! I check-called Derek's pot-sized bet of 300. Third guy stayed in. The turn was Ad. I picked up more outs with a flush draw. I checked. Derek moved all in for his last 1,350. I had him covered and I called. The third guy called too. The river was the 3d. Derek had an Ace and the other guy showed Q-Jo. Huh?

I made the final table as the chipleader and Wheaton busted Change100 on the money bubble. I had a massive chip lead when it was three-handed and found myself heads up against Wheaton. We had never played a heads up match before, so this was special. I had him outchipped almost two to one (10.8K to 5.6K) so I held an edge. Our heads up battle lasted 29 hands. Wheaton took the lead early when I made a bad call. Wheaton slowplayed an Ace on a board of A-6-6. We both checked the flop. The turn was a Jack and I paired up so I thought I was good when Wheaton put all his money in on the turn. Man, I was surprised to see his Ace. Nice trap and I walked right into it. He had me 11K to 5K and all of a sudden I was in trouble.

After a couple of hands, I was down to 3.8K and Wheaton had me on the ropes. Then I sucked out on him and caught a runner-runner flush to double up. Wheaton won three out of the next four hands and I was back down to 4K. That's when I found the Hilton Sisters. Of course the flop had both and Ace and a King. We both checked. The turn was a Jack and Wheaton bet the pot. I called. The river was a 10 and all of a sudden I had a straight. We got it all in on the river and my Hiltons held up. After fifteen hands, we were back where we started when heads up play began.

I won the next seven hands as Wheaton went card dead and slipped to 2.5K. Just when though I had him, he doubled up on the next hand when I flopped top pair and he flopped second pair. We got it all in and then Wheaton rivered trips to avoid elimination. Five hands later, it was all over. I flopped top pair with Queen-rag (a hand I had been getting all day and winning with it) and Wheaton got in all in with a straight draw and missed. I won our first ever heads up battle and won the small, but extremely fun impromptu tournament.

* * * * *

I also played in the Tuesday Night Game, a NL tournament hosted by Tony Holden (author of Big Deal). During the WSOP-Europe in London, we spoke briefly and he invited me to play in his infamous Tuesday Night Game which has moved online over at PokerStars. I signed up a few days before and the day of the tournament, I forgot it was going. I showed up 45 minutes late and my stack was blinded down to about 1,250.

I outlasted two of my poker literary heroes, Tony Holden and Al Alvarez, who are both contributors to the Bigger Deal blog. The infamous Moll (she'd was Tony Holden's love interest in both of his books) was at my table. She was told to keep an eye out on me. Heh. We only played two pots together and I think we both won one.

There were 259 entrants overall and the top 27 places paid. I finished in 36th place. Bad beat too. Big Slick lost to Mrs. Slick. And I don't have to tell you what spiked on the river to send me to the rail. Godammed RiverStars strikes again. Despite the beat, it was a great time. Thanks again to Tony for hosting.

* * * * *

On the night before Turkey Day, Rounders was on cable. Derek and I watched it instead of subjecting ourselves to the utter torture of watching the inept Knicks play against the Pistons. It had been a very long time since I had seen Rounders from beginning to end. But there I was, sitting on my brother's couch and playing 3/6 HORSE and 8/16 LHE on FT as the movie played on in the background.

On Turkey Day evening, I played a NL gash game on FT with Derek, Daddy, Garth, DonkeyPuncher, and Drizz. Fun times. Flashbacks from our days on Party Poker a few years ago. As DonkeyPuncher said, "This feels like 2004."

* * * * *

Johnny Hughes sent me a copy of his book Texas Poker Wisdom. I had the chance to read the story about Matt "Slick" O'Malley before it got published and was honored that he gave me an advanced copy. Anyway, the book has finally been published and you can buy them over at

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

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