Wednesday, December 31, 2008

On the Road 2008: Tao of Pauly Year End Video

By Pauly
New York City

I spliced together an eight minute video of some of the highlights of my 2008.

I traveled extensively in 2008 from Australia (Melbourne & Byron Bay) to New Zealand (Queenstown & Milford Sound) to Copenhagen, Denmark to Langerado, Florida to Las Vegas to Colorado to London to Amsterdam to Budapest to San Francisco to San Diego to Rhode Island and lets not forget places like New York City and Los Angeles.

Pure hijinks with Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot occur at 4:55 in the video.

And yeah, Happy 2009 to everyone!

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

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Tao of Poker: 2008 Year in Review, Part 2

By Pauly
New York City

And we're back with the conclusion of the Year in Review which features highlights on the Tao of Poker from June through December of 2008.

* * * * *

June 2008

I returned to blogging exclusively for the Tao of Poker at the 2008 WSOP. I developed a formula where there would be two posts a day including a daily live blog with hourly updates and at the end of the night I'd write up a recap of that particular day.

Here are links to the daily end of day recaps...
Day 1: Welcome Back to the Zoo... The 2008 WSOP has reached the pinnacle of greed and poker has become another casualty of the capitalistic mutation of all things cool in the world. If something is cool and deemed cool by the people participating in it, it's just a matter of time before the misanthropes swoop in and ruin everything pure about the game.

Day 2: 4,000 Donkeys to the Rescue?... There's the housing crisis and mortgage fiasco that has infected the Las Vegas valley. Several major construction projects have been delayed due to financing issues, such as Trump's latest vanity project a condo-hotel on the North Strip. He planned on building a second tower, but even Trump is having trouble raising capital. And the future of the $3 billion Cosmopolitan Casino project has yet to be determined since their developer defaulted on a $760 million loan from Deutsche Bank. Yeah, Vegas is in a bit of trouble and 4,000 donkeys are not going to save a sinking ship.

Day 3: Medic Cockblocks Bloch and Full Tilt Antonius... Mike Sexton. Patrik Antonius. Andy Bloch. Kathy Liebert. The Unabomber. Chris Bell. SowersUNCC. amak316. Nenad Medic. It reminded me of a final table from 2004 or 2005. And not like the final tables of the last couple of years where it was a bunch of unknowns, internet pushmonkeys, inbred nits, and the odd assortment of guys who said they were pros but who were really broke-ass mofos.

Day 4: Vultures and the First Mistake... knew one gal who worked marketing for Absolute Poker. Her sole job was to buy off final table players at the WSOP. She had two bags. One had stacks of cash. The other had Absolute Poker gear. Sometimes these negotiations get rough as online sites compete for players. All of this goes on behind the scenes during the hours leading up to the final table. That side of the business is cut throat, nasty, and is just pure anarchy. That's part of the reason why I have a bad feeling about the Final Table Delay. I know the ugliness that goes down the night before the final table. You can imagine all the shenanigans that will present itself during the months leading up to Main Event final table in November.

Day 5: Stakes and Shakes... with staking deals come a whole set of other problems. I've been staked and staked players in the past and it all comes down to a trust issue. Greed always fucks stuff up and that's what staking deals get a little hairy. During the first weekend of the WSOP, one somewhat popular bracelet winner owed another bracelet a six-figure make up. The guy who was stuck had a huge score at one of the PokerStars Sunday tournaments. He used some of his winnings to buy a new car and a trip to Hawaii with his girlfriend. The backer found out and was furious, while the slippery eel avoided him for three days until he got cornered in the hallway.

Day 6: Melting Eskimo's Igloo and Erick Lindgren Wins First Bracelet... Lindgren was one crazy muthafucka. And if he could transcend physical and emotional pain and surpass a rigorous challenge such as that death-defying golf bet, then he definitely had the necessary mental toughness to win a WSOP bracelet. He came close a couple of years ago and missed, but this year he managed to win his first bracelet against one of the toughest final tables in recent history. These days, you never know if you'll get a chance at making a final table, let alone winning a bracelet. Lindgren had his shot and followed through. He begin the final table fourth in chips. Although ZeeJustin held the lead for most of the final table, Lindgren jumped out to a slight lead once heads up pay began. It only took forty hands before Lindgren extracted the last of ZeeJustin's chips and he achieved his greatest moment in poker... a WSOP bracelet.

Day 7: Introducing... Tao of Pokerati, Tao of Five, and Billy Shears... Michalksi from Pokerati and I launched our first ever joint-podcasting venture called Tao of Pokerati. It's our very lazy and ghetto version of a podcast. Episode 1 is around three minutes.

Day 8: Trio of Final Tables, Vinnie Vinh Returns, and the Ghost of Brandi Hawbaker... Eight days into this year's WSOP, the headlines don't sound like something from a sleazy tabloid like Perez Hilton or Wicked Chops Poker. I guess the big story to start this year's WSOP was that there were three amazing tables and Erick Lindgren won his first bracelet. And the fact that the players haven't been bitching about Harrah's deserves some merit. Despite some minor ruffles, the first week of the WSOP rolled along rather smooth. As one pro said, "It took them four years but they finally got their shit together."

Day 9: The Rise of Vinnie Vinh and the First 2008 Ten Bracelet Winners... There were two faces of Vinnie Vinh. One was the masterful poker player who stayed at the front of the pack for most of Day 1 and Day 2 until he late night when he accumulated more chips to end Day 2 as the chipleader. Then there was the erratic side of Vinnie Vinh with random outbursts which obviously stem from whatever inner demons he's wrestling with. Individually the incidents were all minor such as standing up, muttering incoherent things, laughing fits, and other peculiar behavior at the tables. Most of the time I watched Vinh, he appeared in control of the monster within.

Day 10: The Archie Karas Comeback and Vinny Vinh's Final Table...
To final table any WSOP event is a major milestone. To achieve that daunting task under the close scrutiny of fans, media, players, Harrah's suits, and thick-necked thugs seemed almost impossible, yet Vinny Vinh pulled it off. It's a sad and tragic story in one sense and a total reminder of the heinous side of poker and addiction. The Vinny Vinhs, Stu Ungars, Eskimo Clarks, and Archie Karases of the world betrayed their craft. They were given a cherished and rare gift from the poker gods and squandered away their talents in a futile attempt to quench a thirst that can never be satisfied whether it was drugs, sex, craps, booze, or flipping coins.

Day 11: GLOW... It's totally asinine for men to try to buy into an event that is specifically designed for women. I cringe when I hear people bitching and moaning about that. It's like hearing about a flat chested chick trying to sue Hooters because she didn't get hired. The place is called "Hooters" for a reason. The Ladies Only event has the word "only" added for a reason.

Day 12: A Day in the Life of Phil Ivey... The game started right around 6pm. For the next three hours, Ivey could not sit still. He stood up a lot, paced back and forth, and constantly checked his crackberry. I had never seen so much emotion out of Ivey before. His usual expressionless face that was cool as a tenor sax solo from John Coltrane had disappeared and replaced by intervals of anxiety.

Day 13: Unlucky 13 and Mike Matusow Wins Bracelet... Sure, $537,857 was up for grabs. But for some of those guys that money is chump change. It wasn't about the money. It was about pride and bracelets. You see, pre-boom bracelets didn't really mean too much until the media starting hyping it up. We all know about how short-term luck affects poker tournaments, but bracelets are an indication of success over the long haul. The five or six guys who currently have the most bracelets have been regarded as some of the greatest poker players of all time.

Day 14: Daniel Negreanu Wins 4th Bracelet, Phil Ivey Loses 200K Prop Bet, and Vanessa Selbst Beats Aussie Strip Club Owner for PLO Bracelet... The moment after Daniel Negreanu clinched the Limit Hold'em tournament and won his fourth bracelet, he thrust his arms in the air in celebration. He lofted them as high as he could for a few seconds before he dropped them and quickly reached for his mobile device in his pocket. He texted Phil Ivey to tell him to pay up.

Day 15: Tao of Five with Wicked Chops Poker... What I love the best about WCP is that they just don't give a shit what anyone thinks about them and that attitude is why they managed to succeed over the years. Dozens of ripoff sites and hack wanna-bes tried to "borrow" from the WCP model, but they have come and left, since none of them have the snarky wit and an amazing eye for talent. For the last four years, Wicked Chops Poker is among the first couple of sites I read everyday. Doesn't matter if I'm in Las Vegas, Sweden, New Zealand, or Hollyweird... I love Wicked Chops Poker.

Day 16: Archie Karas Makes Final Table, Italian Pirate Wins Bracelet, and 125 Pounds of Razz Fury... Pesactori is well on his way to becoming the greatest poker player from Italy. Ever. Valter Farina and John Spadavecchia are legends and a part of the old guard. Farina was the first Italian to ever win a bracelet and Spadavecchia is number one on the all-time money list. Both had been crushing games since Max was a little one playing football with his school mates in Milan. But with his second bracelet, Pescatori has the most bracelets out of the Italians. And by the end of the 2008 WSOP, Pescatori should take over #1 on the All Time money list for Italy.

Day 17: Pros Continue Dominance as Barry Greenstein and Kenny Tran Win Bracelets... Perhaps karma was in play tonight. The poker gods knew that the money won on Sunday would go to good use since Greenstein and Tran would be sharing the money with those less fortunate. If a young kid won it, he'd blow it all on strippers and blow and other material items. If a guy like TJ Cloutier or Archie Karas won, they money would get lost at the nearest craps table.

Day 18: Never Trust a Junkie... Action. The rush. The buzz. The sustained high. Doesn't matter the medium. Craps. Poker. Slots. Blackjack. Baccarat. Dog races. NBA games. Video poker. It's the anticipation of the outcome that gets everyone fired up. The moment of truth when life sizzles through your bloodstream and you're jacked up on so much adrenaline it takes you days and weeks and months to come down from the cosmos. The anticipation... the crest of the gambler's high... where nothing else matters as the entire world pauses during that millisecond before your fate is determined.

Day 19: Looking Through a Glass Onion... My inner action junkie is the size of Gary Coleman and wrapped up deep and deep inside buried behind so many layers of complicated phobias, addictions, and other unresolved mental health issues. It takes years and decades to peel off all of the excess layers before we get to the source. But if our souls were glass onions and you could peek through all the layers, we'd see the true essence of existence... and that's to constantly challenge and prove to yourself that you're truly alive. And gambling is one of those opportunities when ordinary activities take on a role of vital significance by simply wagering on the outcome.

Day 20: Scandi Ghosts, Degenadario, and the Tao of Deutschland... I first met Dario Minieri at the 2006 WSOP, when I covered the Main Event for PokerStars. I recall saying something to Otis that some kid (who looks like he's 15, doesn't even shave, and may or may not be a girl) had a shitload of chips. Cardplayer had the official media coverage that year and listed him as Dario Roma. Almost, but not quite. He was Dario Minieri and hailed from Rome, Italy. I asked him his name and he said in a very dramatic and flamboyant voice, "I am Dario! Me English not so good."

Day 21: Donkeys, Pigeons, Possums, and Kangaroos... She could have 'big timed' it and blew off security by entering through the back door like Jen Tilly, Howard Lederer, and Phil Ivey have done many times before. Not for Kathy. She wanted to be treated like any of two thousand other players in the event. She also brown bagged her lunch instead of paying for overpriced kangaroo meat that they pass off as food in the Poker Kitchen. When you lather it in hot sauce and dip it in Ranch dressing it tastes just like chicken.

Day 22: Layne Flack Six Pack and the Luckiest Man... Anyone can get up on a soapbox and judge get on someone for being a drunk or a druggie. Unless you've been there you really don't know how much easier it is to give in to temptation than to make a stand and wrestle with those intoxicating demons. Everyone has a weakness. Puggy Pearson told Flipchip that "Every man has a leak." And if you are a vulnerable person living in a city like Las Vegas, it's only a matter of time before you self-destruct. Implode. Lose your mud. Dive into the abyss.

Day 23: The Killing Fields, Benyamine Wins First Bracelet, and the Corridor of Hookers... Location is the key to any successful business. That's why the Hooker Bar was such a popular hang out. But a few girls are hustling in the hallways leading up to the Amazon Room. That's what is great about that long corridor. Inside of thirty seconds you can crash a Mexican wedding reception, buy a cold overpriced personal pie from Pizza Hut, pick up a copy of Bluff Magazine, and negotiate a hummer from a hooker.

Day 24: Belgium Bracelets and Spanish Sundays... I barreled through the crowded casino on a mission. I weaved past the zombies anchored to the slot machines, and ran by the muppets at the craps tables, and rushed by the slow-moving tourists. I was nearly out of breath when I arrived at the window to cash my ticket. Nothing is sweeter in Las Vegas than cashing a winning sports bet ticket. It's a natural high especially after getting jacked up on adrenaline while sweating the results.

Day 25: Save the Eskimo, Save the World... Attention Hippies, The Eskimo needs your help. Put down the bong. Stop campaigning for Obama (Dick Cheney already rigged the November election, the Beijing Olympics, and the next two American Idols) and get your patchouli-smelling ass down the Rio Casino in Las Vegas because the Eskimo needs your help.

Day 26: The Bucket List, Dumb Hookers, and Phan 2.0... Benjo told me a hilarious story about how Bellagio hookers were trying to cash tournament chips at the cage. Apparently, a couple of horny and angle-shooting poker players removed $1,000 denomination tournament chips out of play. They used those chips to pay off hookers, who were not very bright and accepted the chips in return for sexual favors. Of course they did not read the fine print on the chips where it said it's not legal tender and only a tournament chip.

Day 27: HORSE - Day 1... You've seen those "feed the children" commercials where a bloated and emotionally high-strung Sally Struthers openly weeps for the cameras and guilt trips you into sending her foundation money after seeing photos of emaciated African kids covered in flies. For only the cost of a cup of coffee, you can feed all the starving children in the world. There are campaigns where you send $8 a month or roughly $100 a year. At that equation, one buy-in to the HORSE event could feed 500 starving children for one full year.

Day 28: Horse Day 2, The Procedure Part II, and More Existentialist Conversations with Strippers... Former gymnast. Majored in English at some college in Denton, TX. Got knocked up at 20 and dropped out of school. Had a botched back-alley abortion and can't have kids. Her step-father murdered her mother and knocked up her half-sister. She was a real life Jerry Springer episode gyrating on my lap and spilling Grey Goose all over my Ecco shoes.

Day 29: HORSE Day 3 - Texas Dolly... Shortly after midnight, with the camera happy blooming Friday night crowd on the rail, the grizzled gunslinger took over the chiplead with 27 players remaining in the $50,000 HORSE World Championship. With his trademarked white Stetson cowboy hat, Doyle Brunson was sitting plush with the biggest stack in the room and welcomed all challengers as he flashed a wry smile. One hour earlier, the legendary Texas Dolly limped past the press box with the assistance of his crutch. Brunson made his way out into the hallway and was besieged with autograph and picture requests from dozens of rabid fans who wanted a piece of their hero.

Day 30: HORSE Day 4 - Erick Lindgren and the Killing Floor... One side of the Amazon Ballroom was flooded in the carcasses of the losers in the $1,500 slaughterfest. Call them whatever. Donkeys. Emus. Pigeons. Fish. Pigs. Dogs. Rats. They were causalities and within hours of taking their seats, they ended up on the killing floor. When the survivors trudged through the HORSE area, they tracked donkey blood all over the carpet. Harrahs cleaning crews worked around the clock using an extra-strength extract from special Guatemalan fruit (previously used by porn stars in Hollywood in increase the distance of their cum shots) which helped erase the blemishes.

Day 31: Scotty Nguyen = Horsemaster... The agents were swarming. The media were circling. The backers were licking their chops. A couple of hookers strolled the hallways. Just another night at the WSOP. Around 1:30am, Lindgren made a heroic comeback to almost pull even with DeMichele and Scotty. That's when Scotty lost his shit for a full level. He was drunk and irritated. Happy Scotty was gone and Evil Scotty took his place. He was out in the deep end and he berated dealers and started to head down the path towards utter tiltdom.
* * * * *

July 2008

The month began deep into the WSOP. I was struggling with physical ailments including a bad back after a car accident in June, yet managed to gut through the insanity of the Main Event.
Day 32: Whore's Horse Afterthought... If the UIGEA never gets overturn and the U.S. economy continues to go into the shitter, it's a matter of time before the Game Show Network shifts their programming philosophy and broadcasted cage matches live from Costa Rica where Erick Lindgren and Phil Ivey fight each other to the death and then the winner wrestles a grizzly bear with Doyle Brunson booking action. Those poker cage fights are a fusion of UFC Friday Night Fights meets a benzy-induced Philip K. Dick short story. Of course they are sponsored by PokerStars, where you can trade FPP points for a chance to wrestle an alligator. Otis will live blog the action.

Day 33: First 51 Bracelets and More Tao of Pokerati Poker Podcast... Yeah, this might be the year of the pro. Plenty of familiar faces and big names won bracelets this summer, including John Phan who won two. 51 bracelets were awarded to 50 different players.

Day 34: Bluff Party and the Stripper on Ecstasy... Then one honed in on me. Fantasia was her name. Nubile blonde from Texas. She rushed over and hugged me. I could tell by the way she was dancing and slurring the words to the Beastie Boys song Girls that she was deep into a ecstasy trip. Maybe two or three rolls. She gigled every time I touch the back of her neck. She gave me a lap dance or five. She was too wasted to keep track and only charged me for one.

Day 35: Main Event Day 1A - Cokeheads, Crybabies, and the Green Box Conspiracy... One incident happened in the men's room across from the Brasilia Room which I mentioned in the live blog. I overheard one guy sitting in one of the stalls and making odd sounds. I assumed that he was taking a rough dump because I thought I heard squealing in agony. Actually, he was sobbing and telling a loved one his bad beat story of how he busted out of the WSOP. Wow, that blew me away. A grown man brought to tears over one little poker tournament. There's no crying in poker! Alas, he was yet another helpless soul violently crushed in the existentialist meat grinder of the WSOP. If you want a happy hobby, try a ceramics class. If you want to have your balls shaved by a cheese grater every couple of hours, then poker is for you.

Day 36: Main Event Day 1B - Yawn... Varkonyi busted Phil Hellmuth at the 2002 WSOP main event. Hellmuth ranted and raved and said Varonkyi was an awful player. Yeah, some things never change. Hellmuth then made a ridiculous bet that if Varkonyi won it all, then he would shave his head. Well, Varkonyi won and everyone held Hellmuth to his word. At the end of that telecast of the final table, Hellmuth sat down and Becky Binion took an electric razor and shaved it all off as Gabe Kaplan tooled on him and Matt Savage milled around in the background and Devilfish was mugging for camera time.

Day 37: Main Event Day 1C and the Tao of Five with Flipchip... It felt like Ground Hog's Day. The third Day 1. 38th day in a row. My brain is/was/is/was fried. Anyway, the biggest field showed up so far at the WSOP world championship and when action ended on Day 1c, Harrahs dodged a bullet and got more entrants signed up than last year with one more flight to go.

Day 38: The Kitten Fields... The majority of their brethren never made it out alive and perished in the existentialist meatgrinder of the world series of sadism. That's why every PokerStars 'premium' schwag bag can be converted into a makeshift body bag. Poor Otis and Howard and Bartley scrambled across the killing floor every hour to retrieve the leftover carcasses from the plethora of online qualifiers. The bottom of the PokerStars shuttle bus was a makeshift morgue which Otis and his crew constantly filled up every inch with the leftovers. You could see the malnourishment in Otis' eyes. The sorrow. The misery. The agony. And you wonder why Otis writes such sad posts. He can't shake the post-traumatic stress syndrome of being the first on the scene after the initial slaughter. If you have to slosh around knee deep in the fish guts and animal intestines for 15 hours a day, you'd be in a somber mood as well.

Day 39 - Off

Day 40: Main Event Day 2A - Isadario... We are what we are... a gaggle of sex-crazed degenerate gamblers. But that's what I love about America... is that or founder fathers laid out the groundwork so that we can become what we choose to be without the government interfering in our lives. Fly to Vegas. Play in the WSOP. Get sucked out by a donkeyfish. Get wasted. Gamble until sunrise. Fuck a hooker. Eat a buffet. Piss next to Johnny Chan. Buy an ashtray. Buy a tube of cream for that rash you picked up. Good bye Vegas. See you next time.

Day 41: Main Event Day 2B - Formula of Donkey Liquification... You can drink beer while playing poker so it's not a sport. Scotty Nguyen. Men the Master. Minneapolis Jom Meehan. They all like a good cocktail at the tables. Sure, old school professional athletes drank during games like Night Tran Lane and Babe Ruth probably knocked back a cold one in between innings while he stuffed his face with hotdogs. Joe D used to smoke in the dugout and the bat boys used to make sure he had a lit ciggie waiting for him when he came off the field and into the dugout. But today? You couldn't see Pedro Martinez walk to the back of the mound, bend over, and take a huge pull off of a tallboy. I'd love to see Mikael Samuelsson do a shot of tequila on the bench before a line change. But that's just not gonna happen.

Day 42: Main Event Day 3 - Bubbles... An assortment of 1,307 people from all different areas of life... online pros, Vegas pros, amateurs, semi-pros, guys who are muppets who think they are pros, and straight up dream chasers... each walked into the Amazon Room with one thing on their minds... survive Day 3 and advance to Day 4. The simple goal? Be among the 666 players who cashed in the 2008 WSOP Main Event. Once you sign your slip at the end of Day 2 and bag up your chips, all you can think about is making it to the end of Day 3 to almost guarantee a $21K cash. And for online qualifiers or satellite winners, the rest of the WSOP is a freeroll. Almost all of their earnings are pure profit.

Day 43: Main Event Day 4 - Early to Bed and Iggy's Run... Once the cameras are in position, the producer tells the dealer to proceed. Not a floor person or Harrah's staff... but someone from ESPN. The big crowd attracts more people. Staff, players from adjacent tables, media reps. Even the occasional rule breaker who sneaks inside the ropes to check out the action. A massive circle engulfs the table. When the hand is over,one player is usually sent to his death, while all of the vultures disappear and flock to another table where a familiar situation is arising. It's almost like watching pigeons in the park peck and fight over a couple of crumbs. Throw the bread in one direction (all in and a call) and hundreds of pigeons (hungry media) will go apeshit and peck each others' eyeballs out just to grab a crumb. A morsel. Anything they can get their beaks on. As that song goes, birds of a feather are flocking outside.

Day 44: Main Event Day 5 - The Wretched Squall of Hellmuth and Matusow... I waited 44 days for the sure thing. The defining moment of the summer. The one incident that would set the 2008 WSOP apart from the previous four years that have blended into one long blurry flashback of bracelet winners, bad beat stories, excursions to strip clubs, binge drinking at the hooker bar, pot-bellied mulleted children running amuck at the Redneck Riviera, and lime tossing out back with a sad, tilty, and often suicidal Otis. I stumbled upon a story that could have wrote itself before I even got out of bed in the morning. Phil Hellmuth and Mike Matusow. At the same table. Right next to each other. With Hellmuth having position on Matusow. At the featured TV table in front of hundreds of drooling, blood-thirsty fans. They were starving lunatics. Broke dick swine. Some drunk on cheap swill. Others mentally imbalanced. And those were my friends. It was almost like the Romans waiting for the Christians to get tossed to the lions. The featured TV table was standing room only. The spectators were spilling out of the Beast Lounge with limbs dangling over metal rails waiting... waiting... for a meltdown. For a blowup. For the bloodshed.

Day 45: Main Event Day 6 - The Battle for Tiffany Michelle's Breasts... I would not want to be Tiffany Michelle right now. The entire fate of poker and all of Western Civilization has been thrust upon her supple shoulders. Should a 24-year old have that much pressure on her? Tiffany Michelle is poker's most marketable asset right now. Michalksi said that out of the last 27 players, she has the potential for the biggest "Moneymaker Effect." In three years, will I be writing about another poker renaissance in America and citing the "Tiffany Michelle Effect?" Come to think of it, that wouldn't be a bad thing. The poker world could use an influx of young women.

Day 46: Main Event Day 7 - Nonagon... I have seen what money does to people. It destroys lives. It tears friends apart. Too much money and it poisons your soul. Too little money and it makes you do desperate an unthinkable things. And during the pursuit of huge sums of money in the seven and eight figure ranges... your once astute judgment becomes clouded in the fog of war. Poker is a simple game. Played among friends, it can be one of the most entertaining experiences in life. But when poker is played in a tournament for millions of dollars in a forum where dozens and dozens of corporations can profit from it... things can get ugly. There is no longer white and black, just shades of grey. Working for four plus years in the poker industry taught me that the more money that is involved... the more complicated things can get.
The WSOP would not be complete unless Otis and I engaged in some good old fashioned lime tossing.

And don't forget about various Tao of Pokerati episodes that we taped all summer long. Visit the Tao of Pokerati archives to listen to your favorite episodes.

I stuck around Vegas after the WSOP for a bit. I penned a couple of post-WSOP pieces such as Monkeys Throwing Shit where I weighed in on the Tiffany Michelle and Tony G Saga.

And before I left Vegas, I actually played poker. Lots of it, according to a post titled Las Vegas Poker.

When I returned to LA, I played in a Cheviot Hills homegame with some of Jen Leo and Schecky's friends.

Gristle and Glop chronicled my factotum days and the evolution of the various games of poker that I played over the last decade.

Sedentary discussed the ebbs and flows of online poker as I shifted my focus from the occasional player to an everyday player.

Click here to view the Colorado photo gallery.

Click here to view the Las Vegas summer photo gallery.

* * * * *

August 2008

I spent August recovering from the WSOP and spent most of my time in California bumming around Hollywood, San Diego, and San Francisco. Derek came to visit us in LA. I saw a lot of music and watched the Olympics. After posting for 110 consecutive days on the Tao of Poker, I was finally due to take a day off.

The Tao of Poker had a birthday and turned five years old. I reflected on five years of writing about poker in the interwebs.

I hosted a birthday tournament where first place got a $5,000 buy-in to a Borgata Summer Open event. Garry Gates went onto win the Tao of Poker 5th Birthday tournament and also won the $5K seat.

How Old Are You? was one of my favorite posts from August where I pontificated on the hypocrisy of the China's hosting of the summer Olympics. Just how old were those gymnasts?

I made a token appearance on Keep Flopping Aces, which is Lou Krieger's weekly radio show.

Iron Man, Arnold Drummond, and the Four Noble Truths included a brief discussion of Buddhism and how I was in the middle of a pursuit of becoming an Iron Man over at Full Tilt.

2+2: Random Cameos and Sticky Posts includes a link to one of the most hilarious 2+2 threads ever... Re: If They Never Played Poker... where I happen to make a cameo.

Click here to view the San Francisco photo gallery.

* * * * *

September 2008

Iron Man, Addictions, and Wealth Accumulation was an interesting take on becoming an Iron Man on Full Tilt as I pondered the significance and futility of that achievement.

The Last King of Scotland became the first person to win Saturdays with Dr. Pauly three times including back-to-back wins.

I Run Good and the Return of the Hammer was a recap about my participation in PokerListings' Run Good Challenge. I finished in second place in the first event after an insane heads up battle against Dan s. that lasted 120+ hands.

I headed down to the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City to cover the Borgata Summer Open with Friedman and Tropical Steve, where I blogged exclusively for the Borgata Poker Blog.

Borgata Tales, Part I included tidbits from the first three days at the Borgata.

I continued with more stories from Atlantic City with Borgata Tales, Part II.

And Borgata Tales, Part III was the last installment of my scribblings on my two-week assignment in lovely Atlantic City.

Oh and I posted pictures of more marked bills.

I had to miss AlCantHang's Bash for the first time since I befriended ACH. I had to fly to Europe for a couple of assignments along with a two sojourns to Amsterdam that happened before and after my time in London. I shared a flat in Soho with Change100 and Gloria courtesy of PokerNews. They were covering the WSOPE at the Empire Casino

WSOPE Main Event: Everything In Its Right Place was my initial impressions with the second ever WSOPE.

WSOPE Main Event: Where I End and You Begin includes more hijinks about my time in London hanging out at the WSOPE.

Click here to view the London photo gallery.

* * * * *

October 2008

I started the month in London covering the WSOPE and the EPT London. Coverage of the WSOPE on Tao of Poker included a couple of posts; WSOPE Main Event: Optimistic and WSOPE Main Event: Jigsaw Falling Into Place.

After a marathon final table, I came in from out of the bullpen to complete live updates for PokerNews which I wrote about in I'm the Cooler and John Juanda Wins WSOPE. And as soon as that final table was over, I hopped on the tube and went to the Vic to cover the EPT London.

London Leftovers summed up the rest of my time in the UK before I took a week long holiday in Amsterdam with Change100.

I headed back to New York City for a bit as the Presidential election drew to a close. I wrote a couple of inspired posts such as Live Politics Is Rigged or Fuck the Doomed.

One of my devoted readers is a NJ state trooper. We met at the Borgata for the first tme and he mentioned that his favorite posts involved a discourse on Eastern philosophy. Our conversation became the origins of Light Up or Leave Me Alone, where I spoke about one of my favorite thinkers, Zhuangzi, who is considered the father of Taoism.

Test me, Test me, Test me... Why Don't You Arrest Me? included a lamentation on bad beats and a recap of playing in the Tuesday Night Game with Tony Holden.

The Triumphant Return of Liz Lieu Tuesdays marked the return of LLT.

The Slide chronicled a nasty losing streak.

I ended the month in Hungary covering the EPT Budapest. Benjo had a birthday during that assignment in Eastern Europe.

Here's on of my favorite Benjo episodes of Tao of Pokerati via YouTube...

Click here to view the Amsterdam photo gallery.

* * * * *

November 2008

I began the month in Hungary on a wild trip that included plenty of hijinks while I covered the EPT Budapest. I rented an apartment a block from the Danube with my friend and work colleague Dana.

Budapest Part I: Danube Waltz included some of the sordid tales about my first time in Eastern Europe.

When the final table of the EPT Budapest was complete, we threw an after-party in our apartment. The hijinks were recorded in Budapest Part II: No One Can Eat Fifty Apples. Yes, Rod claimed that he could eat fifty apples. But where can you find 50 apples at 3am in Budapest?

At the after-party, I recorded four episodes of Tao of Pokerati with Benjo.
Episode 3.1: EPT Afterparty (3:39)
Episode 3.2: Hungarian Hooker Halloween (4:14)
Episode 3.3: Competitive Apple Eating (4:08)
Episode 3.4: Euro Core-tossing (3:17)
Shortly after my trip to Eastern Europe, it was time for me to return to Las Vegas for the November Nine and the completion of the 2008 WSOP Main Event.

Prelude to the November Nine was the post that I wrote in LA leading up to the final table.

I penned profiles for the November Nine.

I sat in the orchestra pit next to Flipchip and live blogged the WSOP final table for the Tao of Poker.

Here's my recap of the first day of action at the final table titled 2008 WSOP Main Event Final Table: November Nine > November Dos.

My time in Las Vegas was inspiring. After the November Nine, I hit a high note and wrote some of my best content of the year... not just on Tao of Poker but across my other sites and for freelance clients as well. Everything came together in November.

Emissaries from the Land of Indulgence was one of my best pieces of the year. The subject? Las Vegas and the utter deviancy of that town. Here's a bit...
Peel back the layers and expose Las Vegas for what it is; a playground for the filthy rich amidst a cesspool of hopelessly addicted souls representing the decay of modern society. Just when I thought I knew a town like the back of my hand, I got shamefully slapped upside the head by a dose of poignant reality.
The final table of the WSOP was finally over. I headed out to the Hooker Bar with some friends to celebrate. And that's when the hookers swarmed. Existentialist Conversations with Hookers: Maelstrom at the Hooker Bar was also one of my favorite pieces of 2008. Here's a bit...
As the Nevada sun slowly crept over the mountains, we were lost in a supernatural time warp with a distorted concept of time and space. We sat in the darkness of the Rio wanting to be left alone. We sipped moderately chilled beers and shared stories about our exotic travels (Otis in Costa Rica, Howard in Barcelona, and my drunken escapades in Budapest) while several classic rock tunes cranked out on the sound system. In the blink of an eye, they appeared. First one, then two, and a couple of more. We only had a few minutes before they pounced on us. After all, we were the only marks left standing at that time of the morning.
We taped several episodes of the Tao of Pokerati live from the Hooker Bar...
Episode 5.1: Boundless Nature, Las Vegas (6:05)
Episode 5.2: Hurricane of Hookers (7:25)
Episode 5.3: Cage-Savvy Coochie (3:05)
After the WSOP Main Event finally ended when Peter Eastgate won, I headed back to Los Angeles. I played in the Mookie and even made the final table.

Tao of Five: Otis and The Devil is where I finally posted an interview I conducted with Otis about his encounters with Satan.

Daddy won the Turkey Cup on Thanksgiving.

The cheating scandal episode on 60 Minutes finally aired. If you missed it, you can alwats check it out here: 60 Minutes Video: Absolute Bet and Ultimate Bet Online Poker Cheating.

I also made another token appearance on Lou Krieger's radio show Keep Flopping Aces. You can download the episode from 11/13/08 here.

Click here to view the Budapest photo gallery.

* * * * *

December 2008

I began the month in New York City but would spend time in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Mexico. I flew down to Mexico to cover the LAPT Neuvo Vallarta. Then sketchy things happened including the tournament being canceled in the middle of Day 1 by the government. You can read all about that in Shakedown Street > Mexicali Blues.

AcerbicOne won back-to-back Saturdays with Dr. Paulys and became the second three-time champion.

Las Fuckin' Vegas was a piece that includes everything that I love about Sin City.

Oh and it snowed in Las Vegas. Twice. Once when I was there.

I returned to Las Vegas for the fifth installment of the Winter Holiday Classic. Bloggers in Vegas. Always a fun time. My recap was a two part series. Check them out...
Evil Urges, Part 1: They Call It Sin City for a Reason
Evil Urges, Part 2: Nuptials, Meth, and Hookers
We did a lot of multimedia things in Las Vegas during that five-day bender. I recorded a video with Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot titled Winning Keno Tips: Advice on Life and Gambling by PKPNF.

We also recorded several new episodes of the Tao of Pokerati with several special guests.

Click here to view the Mexico photo gallery.

Click here to view the Las Vegas photo gallery.

* * * * *

And that's it. The 2008 Year in Review on the Tao of Poker. It was definitely a fun year with lots of ups and downs, twists and turns, highlights and lowlights.

Of course, the retrospective represents only what I think is the best of the Tao of Poker. There might have been a post or two that I missed, that's why I encourage you to re-read my archives to discover some hidden gems.

Thanks to everyone for their support in 2008, especially my sponsor PokerStars.

Best of luck to everyone in 2009.

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

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Tao of Poker: 2008 Year in Review, Part 1

By Pauly
New York City

I love and loathe these self-serving masturbatory end-of-year posts. I live so much in the moment that it's rare that I'll look back into the past and relive old glory days. But for one weekend every year, I delve deep into the archives of my blogs. I laugh. I cringe. I shake my head in disgust. I find inspiration and hope and I jot down notes mostly pointing out mistakes or things I'd like to do in the upcoming year.

Blogs are ever-evolving and the Tao of Poker has gone through a metamorphosis many times over. This will always be the way of poker in my life and the corner of the intertubes where I'll document most of my journey through poker and gambling and Las Vegas. The economic world around us is changing. The ebbs and flow of poker continue throughout the Americas and in the most random corners of the globe. The gambling industry is in a state of flux as it adapts; ushering out the old and embracing the new. And I'm kinda stuck in the middle of all of it.

I actively sought to limit my international travel and condense my freelance schedule in 2008, but I still found myself circling the globe hoping that the next assignment would be my last for a while. I thought 2007 was epic with trips to Sweden and Spain, but 2008 managed to be even more enthralling with first-time visits to New Zealand, Denmark, and Hungary. I definitely had some interesting adventures along the way including covering the WSOP exclusively for the Tao of Poker.

I always recommend reading through my archives. If there's one thing I learned about blogging and writing after five plus years, it's that the posts that I like the best are often the ones that most people dismiss, and it's the posts that I think are horrible that others love the most. I have poor taste in my own scribblings, that's why you should always browse the archives at your own leisure.

Well, with that said, let the wankfest begin...

* * * * *

January 2008

I started the new year Down Under. I caught a flight out of LAX on January 1st and headed to Melbourne to cover the 2008 Aussie Millions for PokerNews.

Art and Masturbation chronicled my outlook for the new year as I questioned my future in poker. I was seeking a plausible exit strategy, but the economy tanked in the second half of the year and I had to stick around.

Drunk Poker was a blast. One night at the Crown Casino during the Aussie Millions, I played a private cash game with Matt Savage, Paul Wasicka, and Gavin Smith. Drinks flowed. Gavin spilled. Lots of Aussie bucks were donked off.

Back to Australia and Week 1 at the Aussie Millions in 4,500 Words or Less gives you a glimpse into the happening during my first week in Oz.

I took a bunch of pics for PokerNews and for myself during the Aussie Millions. Check out my 2008 Aussie Millions photo essay.

My personal highlight was getting quoted in a cricket story. There was a mini-scandal involving cricket god Shane Warne and yours truly was quoted in an AFP story.

At the raging player's party, I got shitfaced and even fell down. I took lots of photos of the drunken escapades.

I lost a prop bet betting with Change100 on who was taller... Annette_15 or Amanda Leatherman. Here's the video...

And before we headed back to the States, Change100 and I took a two week vacation in New Zealand. We stopped off at the Sky City Casino in Auckland and played cash games.

Click here to view the New Zealand photo gallery.

Click here to view the Australia photo gallery.

* * * * *

February 2008

2008 was a leap year. Within those 29 days of February, I spent time in New Zealand, Los Angeles, New York, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Las Vegas.

After a lengthy hiatus, Saturdays with Dr. Pauly returned on PokerStars in a new incarnation... Pot Limit Omaha. Time to gambooooool.

The Rooster won Saturdays with Dr. Pauly one weekend and so did I. Yep, I won my own tournament when I was in Copenhagen.

I dabbled in a little sports betting during the NFL playoffs. I had a nice score when I was in Australia. That win basically paid for our excursion to New Zealand. The Super Bowl was exciting to watch. Not only did I win money, it turned out to be one of the most exciting Super Bowls in years. I had a little something to say about that evening with I Hope Eli Got Laid Last Night.

If you like obscure inside jokes, then you have to check out this video about our hijinks over at Poker News during the Aussie Millions.

I went to Vegas for a week to do research for a screenplay. I wrote during the days and played poker at nights. I also did a fare share of writing...

Being James Madison is about my sports betting addiction.

Insomnia Poker is self-explanatory.

Nocturne in a Deserted Brickyard is about more degenerate poker and sports betting in Vegas.

Searching for Fat Elvis was a journey that I embarked on with Change100's best friend from college. She came to Vegas in search of Elvis.

And Las Vegas Hookers might be one of my favorite pieces from 2008. Here's a bit...
"Nothing shakes off a bad beat better than hate fucking a hooker," an elderly local once told me at the poker table... More
And another post that stood out included Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines.

And at the end of the month, I went to Europe. I wrote in the cafes in Amsterdam and I headed over to Copenhagen, Denmark to cover the EPT Scandinavian Open. When I returned, I wrote In Paths Untrodden and reflected on visiting five countries on three different continents in less than four weeks.

And for all of you Deadheads, I posted a couple of videos of the Grateful Dead in Las Vegas.

Click here to view the Copenhagen photo gallery.

Click here to view the Amsterdam photo gallery.

* * * * *

March 2008

Content was sparse in March. I spent most of my time away from the tables. I hung out with friends down in Florida for the Langerado music festival. I got into some prop betting hijinks including the infamous ice cooler prop bet that I won.

Check out the video here...

March Madness is my favorite time of year. It's like a salmon run for sports betting junkies. I posted some March Madness Betting tips and live blogged almost every day of action during the opening rounds.

The few literary highlights from March included...
The Apotheosis of 10-8 Suited
Bosnian Snipers and Dog Tranquilizers
Weird Fishes
During March Madness I went bowling at Red Rock with my brother, some friends, and MiamiDon. Here's that video...

Click here to view the Langerado photo gallery.

* * * * *

April 2008

I had a mellow April and spent most of it writing in Los Angeles. I also was fortunate to have a guest post from BJ Nemeth. The topic? His take on the WSOP Final Table Delay.

Sometimes you have to have fun with your blog. I recall having a blast when I scribbled Nothing to Do and Nowhere to Go. It was one of those times when I realized that I was lucky to be where I was and on the verge of making a big decision about my future.

When the Circus Comes to Town was my response to Brandi Hawbaker's suicide.

I threw together a NSFW video homage to AlCantHang...

I finally wrote about poker in Daggers in Men's Smiles.

I also discovered that I had an addiction to PLO in Taste.

And at the end of the month, I made a decision about my summer in Soon Come... 2008 WSOP. I turned down big bucks to write for numerous outlets in order to have 100% creative control and cover the WSOP exclusively on the Tao of Poker.

* * * * *

May 2008

May is always an odd month, sort of the calm before the storm. I have a mellow schedule and engage in a slew of non-pokery things in order to prepare for a grueling seven-week assignment in Las Vegas.

I shared a bit on a screenplay that I was working on called Poker Movies: Harold and Kumar Go to the World Series of Poker.

Iggy, GMoney, Bobby Bracelet, and StB ventured to NYC to hang out. Hijinks were documented in a post titled Big City Prop Bets; Trannies, Taxi Cab Racing, the Kentucky Derby, and the $447 Sumo Burger.

Catcher in the Razz is about my least favorite game and one of my favorite novels of all time.

The Last King of Scotland became the first player to win back-to-back titles in Saturdays with Dr. Pauly.

White Light, White Heat proves that sometimes short and sweet is the only way to blog.

Broken Walls of Ruin was a post that centered around remembering the last time you were in Las Vegas.

One of my favorite posts of the year had to be The Road of Excess Leads to the Palace of Wisdom. Here's a bit...
The attractive lights flickered as you sped down the mountain and raced at 92mph towards the brute void. Perhaps, you glimpsed out the window of your plane with the intensity of a leering sexual deviant. The Luxor light captured your attention. The poignant beacon of promise was where the unreliable patron saints of gambling gathered. St. Coulda. St. Would. St. Shoulda. They all jeered at your unanswered prayers, yet you continued to worship them like a lazy sod.
I dedicated Just Because You're Not Paranoid, Doesn't Mean They're Not After You to all of you tin foil hat wearing freaks. That included pics of Benjamins with chop marks.

The gang at BoDog listed me as a 16/1 longshot to be the one blogger who lasted the longest in the WSOP main event. The good money would have been on Iggy

This might be one of my favorite poker videos of 2008 featuring Rury and Danny Boy in Monte Carlo...

In order to get into a WSOP kinda mood, I posted a Best of the Tao of Poker at the 2007 WSOP. Lots of heady links to my coverage from two summers ago.

And then... I moved back to Las Vegas to cover the 2008 WSOP. It kicked off at the end of May and I was ready to tackle my fourth straight WSOP.

Day 1: Welcome Back to the Zoo officially kicked off the 2008 WSOP.

Click here to view the NYC photo gallery.

* * * * *

That's it for now. I'll return shortly with Part 2 of the Tao of Poker 2008 Year in Review, which will include highlights from the 2008 WSOP.

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

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Alexe55 Wins Saturdays with Dr. Pauly

By Pauly
New York City

The day of reckoning was upon us. The last installment of Saturdays with Dr. Pauly for 2008. We had 26 runners. Special guests this week included Homer from Blonde Poker fame. Top three places paid.

My starting table included: CheckRaise70, AlCantHang, CherriebombV,Family Ice, Foaming_H, and abendigo. My stack took a hit early. I flopped a straight but Cherrie won with a Royal.

Spaceman was Gigli after Change100 crippled him and went out shortly after.

I slipped into the short stack with 26 to go. Homer busted and that was one Eurodonk down and a few more to go. I was on the verge of annihilation until I sucked out against FamilyIce when J-J beat his A-A. Thank you, RiverStars for the timely Jack.

I had another double up courtesy of a sweet river when got it all in on the turn with top set. Alexe55 turned a straight but I rivered a boat to win the hand.

I flopped a set and busted shortstacked AlCantHang. He said the cute bartender was playing his stack while he took a leak. Likely story. I improved to 4th in chips with 4.1K.

At the break, I was 3rd in chips with 18 to go. AGSweep was the Chipleader with 5K.

I took over the chiplead when I busted AcerbicOne. He took a big hit from PokerShrink and was on tilt. On the next hand, he raised from the button and I called from the big blind with As-Qd-8h-6h The flop was Qh-10h-6c. I checked. He bet 600. I check raised him all in. He called. My two pair held up and he was out in 18th place. I jumped into the chiplead.

Cherrie and AgSweep were both on my tail in hot pursuit. Cherrie went on a rush, busted a few players, and took the chiplead. Alas, Change100 seized with a brutal river suckout against Family Ice, who ended up the final table bubble boy.
The Final Table:
Seat 1: AgSweep (5000)
Seat 2: dredful (2840)
Seat 3: mooninjune (2100)
Seat 4: change1OO (6220)
Seat 5: DrPauly (6519)
Seat 6: ZClub (3940)
Seat 7: Alexe55 (4505)
Seat 8: staind1791 (2046)
Seat 9: CherriebombV (7330)
The players at the final table were solid which meant that there was a lot of play before someone busted. I took the lead for one hand before I coughed it up to Change100. She'd eventually surge past 11K. Alas, I slipped to 6th in chips and dipped under 4K.

Staind1791 was the first player to bust from the final table. His Queens ran into Alexe55's Kings. I busted Shamus in 8th place. I flopped a set of tens against Shamus' monster draw. I turned a boat and he was toast. I increased my stack to 6.6K and jumped into third place.

Change100 knocked out Cherrie out in 7th place. With six to go, Change100 had 17K and cruising. Alexe55 slowed her down and doubled up to take the lead. Then, it was my turn to re-take the lead. I flopped a set against Alexe55's top two. We got it all in. My set held up and I doubled up to over 15K.

I busted Dredful in 6th. My Aces held up and I retained the lead, but then I doubled up AGSweep and lost the lead to Change100 who had a shade over 13K. I had 12K at the second break and 2nd in chips with five to go.

After the break, Shrink doubled through Change100 and I took the lead. Then I lost a big hand and lost the lead to Alexe55. I raised from the big blind with As-Ks-Qd-5d. He called with Ad-Js-10h-3s and flopped two pair. He check-raised me all in. I was commited and flailed. He doubled up and I slipped to third in chips.

Sadly, I spewed more chips. I had As-Ks-Jh-10d and ran into AGSweep's Aces. I was crippled. I went out in fifth place on the next hand. My 5-5-x-x was beaten by Change100's 4-4-x-x. SHe turned a set and I was doomed.

Alexe55 was the chipleader when action reached the bubble. AGSweep was the Bubble Boy/Girl. She lost a big pot to Change100 and then the PokerShrink took her out in 4th.

With three to go Change100 was back in the lead with 17K... until Alexe55 took it back.

The Poker Shrink held on with a short stack and doubled up just at the right moment to stay alive. Change100 regained the lead, but the Shrink was still way behind and needed more help.

The Shrink busted out in third. His Kings ran into Alexe55's Aces and that was it. The Shrink was nevermore.
Head up chipcounts:
Seat 4: change1OO (14954)
Seat 7: Alexe55 (25546)
It was heads up between Change100 and Alexe55, who had never won the tournament before but had a second and third place finish earlier this year.

On the second hand, of heads up play, Change100 lost one-third of her stack as she slipped to under 10K.

On the sixth hand of heads up play, it was all over. Alexe55 had more than a 4 to 1 chiplead going into the final hand. Change100 raised to 2,400 and Alexe55 called. The flop was Qd-8h-7h. Alexe55 fired out 4,800. Change100 moved all in for 554 more. He called.
Alexe55: Qh-9h-4d-2h
change1OO: Kd-8d-7c-2d
Change100 was ahead with two pair, but Alexe55 picked up a flush draw. The turn was the 4s, which gave Alexe55 the lead with a bigger two pair. The river was the Ah. Alexe55 won with a flush and Change100 was eliminated in second place.
Week 48 Money Winners:
1.Alexe55 - $135
2. Change100 - $81
3. PokerShrink - $54

Congrats to Alexe55 for winning the last installment of Saturdays with Dr. Pauly this year. Thanks to everyone who participated this year especially those folks who plugged and pimped the event.

We shall be back sometime in 2009. Until then, thanks again for your support.

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

Friday, December 26, 2008

Bahamas Bound? PokerStars Giving Away 40 Seats to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure This Weekend

By Pauly
New York City

Forty tickets to paradise. One of them has your name written all over it.

On December 27th and December 28th, PokerStars will be running a couple of satellites with 40 seats to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure up for grabs. If you always wanted to play in the PCA, well here's your last chance to qualify.
PCA Qualifiers - $650:
1. Saturday, December 27th at 4:30pm ET - 10 Seats Awarded
2. Sunday, December 28th at 6:00pm ET - 30 Seats Awarded

2009 PCA Prize Package Details:
Main Event buy-in: $9,700+$300
Accommodations and meals: $3,300
Spending/Travel expenses: $1,000
And the best part? If you do qualify, not only will you win the PCA prize package, you'll also get written about on the Poker Stars Blog by yours truly. Yes, PokerStars hired me to join their elite coverage team for the PCA. I'll be in the trenches with Otis, Howard, and Bartley and writing on PokerStars Blog for the duration of the PCA.

On December 27 at 16:30, PokerStars is running the first of the two big qualifiers. The $650 qualifier will award a guaranteed ten seats to the PCA. Then, on December 28 at 18:00 PokerStars will roll out the big guns. The PCA satellite on Sunday evening will award a startling 30 seats.

The qualifiers cost $650. If you don't want to buy-in directly, you have a chance to get into the two qualifiers via satellite. But between now and then, there are plenty of satellites running as we speak.

The PCA is one of the largest major tournaments that's not called the WSOP. This year, it is a stop on the European Poker Tour. In addition to the influx of North Americans and underaged gamblers (between 18-20), the PCA will also include a large European contingency. I cover a ton of EPT events and the fields are super soft with tons of Eurodonks and overagrressive Scandis in hoodies. Throw in thousands of dollars of dead money from online qualifiers and you have one of the softest and juiciest prize pools on the tournament circuit.

So knowing all this, why aren't you gunning for a shot?

Last year, one of Benjo's buddies Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier won the PCA and collected a cool $2 million USD. Who will it be this year?

And this year's PCA will be the biggest yet with added events including a $25K high rollers event, Battleship, and several smaller buy-in second chance tournaments.
2009 Caribbean Adventure Event Schedule:
Monday, January 5 - $10,000 NL Hold'em Main Event
Wednesday, January 7 - $2,000 NL Hold'em
Wednesday, January 7 - $25,000 NL Hold'em
Thursday, January 8 - $5,000 NL Hold'em
Thursday, January 8 - Battleship ($2,000 Buy-in)
Friday, January 9 - $1,000 NL Hold'em
Well that's all the info you need to know about the 2009 PCA. Hope to see you there.

If you do not have a PokerStars account, you can download the PokerStars software here.

Hope to see you down in the Bahamas!

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

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Seasons Greetings!

By Pauly
New York City

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

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Fantasy Football Week 16 Update; ebk03001 Wins TOC and Super TOC

By Pauly
New York City

With one week to go in the NFL season, here's how things have been shaping up. I'm down in 22nd place, while the The Kuntmissioner (S. Faherty) has siezed the lead in the Tao of Poker football pool. Awesome team name by the way. He posted 11 wins last weekend which netted him Team of the Week honors and thrust him into the top spot. One week to go. Who's gonna win?
Tao of Poker Football Pool - Top 5 Standings:
1 The Kuntmissioner (S. Faherty) 163
2 jaguar9499 (r. zacharki) 162
2 Rummy's TaoPicks (E. Rummel) 162
2 PatsRevenge2008 (E. Kalis) 162
5 Oyster Bay Moore (J. Moore) 158
5 Part-Time Models (J. Smith) 158
5 The Great Cornholio (D. Goerisch) 158
Good luck this week!

* * * * *

And we had the bonus week over at Fantasy Sports Live for Sundays with Dr. Pauly. Congrats to ebk03001. He won both the Super TOC and the TOC for Sundays with Dr. Pauly. Nice work, sir. I'll email shortly about a special bonus prize.

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

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Derek's Las Vegas Trip Report, the Head Speaks, and Vote for Tao of Poker

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

First of all, the Tao of Poker is nominated for best poker blog over at Bluff Magazine's Readers Choice Awards. Click here to vote. Just a heads up that you have to register in order to vote.

Heck, even Liz Lieu voted for me.

I shall thank you in advance for your support.

* * * * *

After reading Derek's latest masterpiece, his December 2008 Las Vegas trip report, I'm bummed that he doesn't post more often. As always, it's one of the best recaps of the weekend. It's no bullshit and to the point and he manages to cover a five-day bender with relative ease. Nice work.

Read Derek's recap titled Las Vegas December 2008.

* * * * *

The Human Head speaks. He weighs in on the long history of the feud between the Fontenots and the Michalskis.

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

Monday, December 22, 2008

Evil Urges, Part 2: Nuptials, Meth, and Hookers

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Nine of us stood in front of Craftsteak. The reservations at celebrity chef Tom Colicchio's eatery were for twelve of us. BG's flight from Chicago was delayed and he had just arrived at the MGM. AlCantHang and BigMike were drinking at the sportsbook and said that they on their way. The hostess led nine of us to a large table. As my friends took their seats. I slipped her a $20 bill and told her that three members of our party would be arriving late.

"Are you Mr. CantHang?" she asked.

"No," I said, "I'm just his assistant. Mr. CantHang is the rock star and I just cater to his affairs. He'll be arriving shortly with his personal security detail, a gentleman named BigMike. When you see him, you'll understand why he's called BigMike."

"I'll make sure that Mr. CantHang is seated immediately," she said.

A couple of minutes later, the young woman returned with AlCantHang shuffling behind and clutching a tumbler filled with Southern Comfort. BigMike sauntered behind Al with a menacing gait. BG finally arrived and everyone was seated for a last minute rehearsal dinner for Gracie and Pablo. But as far as the management at Craftsteak saw it, we were just a bunch of leeches and hanger-ons who mooched off of the AlCantHang Experience.

Dinner was fantastic. Conversation. Kobe. Wagyu. Scrumptious. My favorite part of the dinner involved AlCantHang's cigarette break. About midway through our two plus hour meal, AlCantHang excused himself to have a smoke outside. Craftsteak was non-smoking and the Studio Walk area just outside the restaurant was also a non-smoking zone. Al wandered up to the hostess and asked her where he could smoke a cigarette. She pointed out the area on the casino floor and asked him if he needed a security escort. Because you know, there's nothing worst than getting mobbed by fans when you're just trying to get a nicotine fix.

AlCantHang respectfully declined the security escort.

The bill arrived. $2,700. I picked up half of the tab and put it on my gold card. Less than twelve hours later, I had not gone to bed yet and was lit up like a Christmas tree when I got call from American Express. That transaction was flagged as suspicious activity. I explained to the customer service rep in the faud prevention department that I indeed had my gold card on my person and that I also charged a hefty sum at Craftsteak.

"I love steak," I slurred like a Bowery bum, which drew a hearty chuckle from the person on the other line.

* * * * *

On Friday afternoon, there was a charity tournament over at the Hard Rock. I skipped it. I was on vacation and the last thing I wanted to do was hang out and railbird a poker tournament. A couple of friends played such as AlCantHang, who has a big heart and wanted to rack up some karma points. He sent me text updates during the charity tournament. Al even knocked out Tiffany Michelle. He said that she was pretty pissed after he busted her. Out of all of the people I know who played, Garth went the deepest. Our favorite Aussie advanced to the final table and finished in fourth place. Nice job, sir.

I decided to bet on a couple of the Friday night NBA games. I needed a small taste. Action. Any action. Nothing big. No more betting two dimes. I'm a reformed gambler. I'm an enlightened degenerate. Games are fixed. It's a part of life. Despite the obvious obstacles and pitfalls, I just went to bet a couple of bucks here or there to make things interesting. I love the empowering feeling when you pick something that otherwise lacked value and all of a sudden it becomes the most important thing in the world. Like random NBA games that I'd usually ignore. I acted conservatively at the sports book and bet the chalk. I picked two obvious favorites (Boston and the Spurs) and both teams easily covered. Luck? Or maybe I was on the good side of the fix.

The only thing sweeter than winning Otis' money in a prop bet... is cashing a winning sports book ticket. It's like getting a gold star and a blowjob at the same time. Validation and gratification. The true opiate of the masses.

Many moons ago, Felicia convinced the MGM to spread mixed games for our group. She even finagled them to open up one of the private rooms upstairs. Since then, Fridays at the MGM have been Vegas a tradition. The poker junkies infiltrated the poker room, while the drunkards congregated at the bar in the sports book behind the poker room.

Only the curious observers were brave enough to take a closer look at the AlCantHang Experience. Some of the newbies were extra cautious and brought a protective layer of clothing, like the people visiting Niagara Falls for the first time on the Maid of the Mist boat. They must wear plenty of rain gear to prevent them from downpour of the mighty waterfall. Just substitute booze for water. Barrels of it. Thundering over a cliff.

The smart ones run in, snap a photo with Old Faithful, and rush out before they get swept up in the overwhelming currents of the AlCantHang Experience. The bathrooms by the poker room at the MGM are Venus flytraps that gobble up soused bloggers. The victims who lacked endurance and tolerance passed out on the cold tiles and all shriveled up in the fetal position. They quickly became plant food.

PKPNF had disappeared sometime on Friday afternoon. He started drinking heavily with BettyUnderground. I introduced the two this summer when we were in San Francisco. They hit it off at a joint called the Pork Store in Haight-Ashbury. That magic spilled over into Las Vegas over cocktails. PKPNF unleashed a tweet that mentioned something about an engagement. Hey, in Vegas, you never know. People get drunk and get married all the time. Like Britney Spears. Not to K-Fed, but to the other poor schlub.

Sometime after Midnight on Friday, I emerged from my food coma. The party favors kicked in and the booze soaked deep into my bones. I collected my NBA winnings but promptly lost a prop bet to Spaceman. Who was taller? Mrs. Spaceman or Grubbette? Both were damn close. So close that it came down to fractions of an inch. I picked Mrs. Spaceman and I lost by the slimmest of margins. Grubbette literally won by a hair.

Michalski showed up and we taped a couple of episodes of Tao of Pokerati. Derek was a special guest. Mean Gene made another cameo and PKPNF and Michalksi supposedly met for the first time. On air. Little did I know that they two actually knew each other back in Texas. Neither let on that they had met many moons ago and played it off very well. The specific details about their murky and jagged past has yet to come to light, but I'm expecting to get the full story someday. Regardless, Michalski and PKPNF got off to a rough start. Michalski innocently asked PKPNF advice on how to play Keno numbers and PKPNF quickly snapped.

"Shut the fuck up!" he said matter of factly which absolutely stunned Michalski.

The two would eventually make up. Later that night while partying it up in my suite, PKPNF would utter one of the funniest lines of the trip.

"Actually, the reason I don't watch TV is because I did so much meth, that I took apart my TV."

You can hear the rest of the infamous interview with PKPNF in the Tao of Pokerati episode titled... Hookers, Keno, and Meth.

* * * * *

"I hope you don't have a gun," mentioned Linda.

The courthouse does not allow firearms. I wasn't packing heat, but I definitely had enough opiates on me to put 67% of Jasper, Indiana into a deep freeze.

"We're not going through any metal detectors or anything?" I wondered. "It's not like I'm going to get searched going to a wedding?"

Gracie and Pablo were getting married at the courthouse. AlCantHang and BigMike rented the party bus. The champagne and Southern Comfort flowed. Lots of pictures were taken. The group stumbled off the bus and almost got swindled by a bunch of shills for a different wedding chapel. Luckily we found safe passage to the justice of the peace.

The wedding room was a small room behind the judge's chambers. It would only fit about half of the group which swelled to over 30 people. The judge looked like a hobbit. She was small and feisty. She allowed AlCantHang to say a few words as long as he didn't evoke the powers of Satan. She also did everyone a favor and conducted the ceremony in the lobby... so everyone could see it.

It was a tender moment. Lots of people took photos from their cameras and iPhones. Grubby showed up late, but made it in time to eat the wedding cake provided by Dave Yestbay.

We hopped back on the party bus. The driver took the long route to the Venetian. We finally arrived with plenty of time to sign up for the tournament. Last year, Grubby, Bad Blood and I embarked on the Procedure before the tournament. It must have worked because Grubby made the final table and I bubbled off the final table. This year, I skipped the strip club in favor of the wedding.

82 players this year. Numbers are way down from last year and previous years. My starting table included... KJ, Mattazuma, Falstaff, PokerPeaker, Gracie, MiamiDon, MeanGene, Linda, and one guy who I forgot what his name was. Of course, that would be the guy who eventually busted me.

It took a while before someone won Gigli. During the first blogger tournament at Sam's Town in 2004, I awarded last place a copy of Gigli on DVD. Ben Affleck was playing a ton of poker back then and it was sort of a cruel inside joke to hand out a free copy of one of the worst movies made in the last decade. Previous winners of Gigli include Bill Rini, the PokerNerd, Tanya, Spaceman, Easy Cure, Kram420, and The Mark. This year's winner? Aunt Maudie.

Linda flopped quad Kings. Last year's champion, The Rooster, busted out second. PKPNF took out a couple of folks, including Michalski who was steaming after his elimination.

"You got Keno'd!" would quickly become a catchphrase and an integral part of poker vernacular.

Kat was moved to our table. I pushed her off of A-10 on a board of Q-10-x. I had 8-8 and made a move. She folded. I almost showed.

I was eliminated in 51st place. I made a bad play against KJ in a battle of the blinds. He crippled me and I was out on the next hand. PKPNF busted just before me in 52nd place and we both headed to the bar where AlCantHang was holding court.

PKPNK and I taped a bustout interview where he called out Michalksi for playing like a pussy.

I split my time between the bar and the tournament. Derek and Change100 were both still alive, but when they busted... it was time to head back to the IP to party it up with Iggy and GMoney. We nested at the Geisha Bar, where Derek struck up a conversation with a working girl and told her that his name was Dan Michalski.

Change100 and Mrs. OhCaptian played nonstop video poker. Junkies. Change100 finally nailed quads after an relentless pursuit and I watched Mrs O ride a wave of unreal luck. Inside of a ten minute period, she hit quads twice and picked up a gutshot straight flush draw.

Bobby Bracelet got raped at the roulette table in front of the Geisha Bar. Poor kid. He walked away from the table.

"Is Bobby Bracelet going to play blackjack now?" asked Iggy.

"No, he's going to the ATM," explained Bobby's better half, Elizabeth.

Yep, Bobby was caught doing the walk of shame.

The party migrated to the MGM around 5am. We alternated between my suite, Derek's room, and the Zuri Lounge. Hookers were a flocking. Michalski and I even got one of them to make a cameo on Tao of Pokerati. Listen to Hooker Q&A (featuring "Valerie"). She wandered up in the middle of an episode that we were taping. Since the November Nine ended, the Tao of Pokerati has at least two episodes featuring cameos from hookers.

I found a new tagline for Tao of Pokerati... Not only are we the shortest podcast out there, we're also the most hookery.

Derek and the Human Head were engaged in Existentialist Hooker Theatre, while PKPNF was on a mission looking for some chocolate love. We captured some of those hijinks in podcast form in an episode called Existentialist Hooker Theater 3000.

It was around that time that I formulated a theory about hookers and Las Vegas buffets. The more expensive the buffet... the better looking the hookers were. The quality of hookers was directly correlated to the price of the buffets in the various Las Vegas casinos. For example, the casinos with the cheapest buffets often had the worst looking hookers. While the high end casinos with pricey buffets attracted the cream of the crop.

After partying for almost 50 hours straight, my body shut down around 8am on Sunday. I saw the sun rise for the fourth mornings in a row. That happens to me a lot in Las Vegas. Too many times to count.

Sometimes, you have to pull the plug on your own fun.

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