Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I Met You in J.C. Penny...

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

The Long Post is vintage Daddy. He answers the question everyone wanted to know... Were you really the Poker Champ? That's a must read. He also dragged my ass down memory lane. Thanks a bunch... and I had forgotten that Iggy hired a midget during the first blogger tournament. Great times. Original experiences.

Here's a bit of Daddy's post...
Do you remember your first post?

No clue.
In fact, I'm glad it's forever gone.
I wanted to play in the blogger tourney, so I emailed Pauly. He wasn't Dr. Pauly yet, and was still quite accessable. I think our email exchange can be best summed up as:
"Dude, I love your shit. I play poker and love Jerry too! I want to play in the blogger tourneys to improve my game. How much does a blog cost?"

To which he promptly replied: "Blogs are free, man. Phish rules. See you at the tables."

If you know your Tao of Poker and Snailtrax history, then you know that Daddy and I met for the first time at a Phish show. This show to be exact. Deer Creek, Indiana. We hung out on the lawn and got wasted during the set break.

We could have crossed paths a couple of months earlier (April of 2004... holy shit, in fact four years ago to this very day) in Las Vegas. We both were in town for three Phish shows. I was there with my brother and we were staying in the Excalibur. My brother was a poker novice at the time and we spent every waking moment in the Excalibur poker room when it was still a smoking room and they only spread 2-6 Spread Limit and 1-5 stud. I'd leave to go to the concerts and when I'd come back Derek would be in the same seat.

I had been relatively new to the blogging scene and still unfamiliar with trying to meet invisible internet friends for the first time.

Daddy emailed me and suggested we hang out in Vegas. He said that he'd be the fat kid with beard and a hat in the poker room at the Mirage. We never got to hang out and that was one of my biggest regrets of the trip.

On that same trip to Las Vegas, I also met Felicia and Glenn. Glenn had won a seat to a satellite to the 25K Bellagio WPT Championship. Felicia was on the rail sweating Glenn and told us to stop by. That's how we initially met. That was also the first WPT event I had ever seen and I was gawking at all the pros. They played the tournament out on the floor in front of the poker room since they were renovating the area into the room that exists today.

Spring 2004 was a watershed era in poker because it was just about the same time that poker exploded. Moneymaker had been the WSOP champion for less than a year. The accessibility of the internet fueled the popularity of online poker rooms while poker started seeping into every aspect of our society including television programs, chip set makers, websites, popular culture, and of course... books. It seemed like everyone was on the verge of a book deal in 2004.

After busting out of a WSOP satellite at Binion's, Derek and I took a cab to the Bellagio to check out the first day of the WPT Championship. Ben Affleck was playing and drew the most railbirds including several hotties. Derek sweated Scotty Nguyen's table. When Scotty won a hand, he stood up and gave Derek a high five. At the time, it was the coolest thing ever... watching a world champion shoot the shit with my brother.

Man, oh man... those were the halcyon days of poker when I used to get all fired up about little moments like that.

Here's what Derek wrote in his Day 5 trip report:
The WPT event was cool. I never get excited when I see famous people. Riding the subways in NYC gives me the opportunity to see some famous athletes and actors, as well as others. I never get excited or ask for an autograph because who cares. They are regular people. I don't need to inflate their egos more than it already is, right? Fuck them. So I usually ignore them and say, "Hi!" at best. But that's it. Nothing else. Paul and I walked over to the poker room and saw every poker pro you could think of. I've seen them on TV but in person was unbelievable. I was in awe for once. Doyle Brunson was there, so was Scotty Nguyen, Jen Harmon, Jesus, Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth, Devilfish, Mel Judah, TJ Cloutier, Phil Laak (aka the Unabomber), Hoyt Corkins, Sam Grizzle, Ron Rose, Howard Lederer, Gus Hanson, Meng the Master, Clonie Gowan, Dan Harrington, and everyone else you've seen or heard of (I know I'm leaving out a ton of people). Hollywood notables were Gabe Kaplan, Ben Affleck, and James Woods. There were others but they are not worth mentioning. I was truly excited. I was waiting for Vince Van Patten to fall down drunk somewhere, anywhere, as long as Shana was nearby but no luck. Not even a Mike Sexton sighting. I guess they're just getting loaded somewhere waiting for the final table.

The highlight of the WPT event was getting to meet Scotty Nguyen. He was playing in the actual poker room because the tourney was over flowing so they had to use real game tables. I was leaning over the wall looking into the room and sitting a foot away from me was Scotty Nguyen. Someone asked him for a picture while he was playing a hand. He politely said one minute and folded his hand. He got up and looked at me and I said, "What's up Scotty?"

He gave me a hi five and said, "What's up guy?!"

He had a huge smile and then shook my hand and said, "How's it going big man!?"

I said, "Great! How bout you?"

"Awesome, baby!" he said and then he went over to the tourists and took a photo with them. How crappy is this? I lug my digital camcorder all the way out to Vegas and I leave it in my room. I could have close up footage of the pros and a Scotty Nguyen conversation. I blew it. Anyway, I run over and tell my brother what just happened. I was pumped. I've never been so excited to meet someone. I went back to the same area and was smoking a cigarette thinking about how I should have brought my camera to the Bellagio and then all of a sudden I get this slap on my shoulder and it's Scotty Nguyen again. He's got his cell phone in hand and says, "What's up?" to me again and gives me a thumbs up! Paul comes over shortly and Scotty Nguyen comes over again. I guess he was more interested in taking breaks than playing hands early on in day 1 of the tourney. He says hi to Paul. We formally introduce each other and he shakes both our hands with a huge smile. He says, "Just win baby!!"

We say the same thing back. It was all we could think of to say. How dorky? Oh well. He was genuinely excited to meet us. Scotty is a crazy man. I figured if Scotty touched me several times today . . . it's time to hit the tables. He had to bring some luck, right?
Yes, my brother calls me Paul and it's Men the Master, not Meng.

It was fun reading those trip reports and about all the hijinks that I had at the Phish shows. Little did I know that less than a year later, I would getting ready to move to Las Vegas to cover my first WSOP.

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

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