Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Soon Come... 2008 WSOP

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I move to Las Vegas four weeks from today. After several months of soul searching, I finally made a decision about the 2008 World Series of Poker. So who am I going to write for?

Tao of Poker.

I will not be live blogging the 2008 WSOP for Poker News like last year. However, I cut a deal to write a weekly column for Poker News during the WSOP. Schecky and I both agreed that my talents will be better suited for features.

Tao of Poker will be my focus at the 2008 WSOP. It's going to be place to get the straight dope on the seven-week circus. My goal is to have fun this year and I expect that to spill over into my writing.

I also wanted to cover the 2008 WSOP in the best possible manner without any constraints. The only outlet that fit my vision was... Tao of Poker. Besides, historically, the best stuff I have written has always been for myself (for free) and not for others (for pay).

There were thousands of stories at the WSOP. I was too busy last summer and could only delve deep into a couple. I was stuck in the trenches on the floor and only got a glimpse of that part of the WSOP. Chip counts and bust out hands are just one aspect of the WSOP. There was so much more behind the scenes action that I missed out on and several stories that I wish I had more time to explore such as the Vinnie Vinh missing chair saga.

This year? I'll be everywhere... at the final table, bouncin' round the room, roaming the hallways, drinking at the Hooker Bar, lime tossing with Otis, engaging in random hijinks with Michalski, playing chess, teasing Mean Gene every time Isabelle walks by, railbirding friends, playing cash games, checking out the afternoon shift at the Rhino, free-basing in the parking lot with the hombres at Wicked Chops Poker, tilting locals, and raising hell in the media room. Sadly, there's no more Tilted Kilt, so it looks like Otis and I will have to find another bar for liquid refreshments during dinner breaks.

I dreaded covering the WSOP over the last two years. But this year is different. I can't wait for the WSOP to begin. After a lengthy vacation away from poker, I'm completely refreshed and energized. I'm ready to plunge back into fiery depths of hell.

I haven't been this excited since the 2005 WSOP, which seemed like ten years ago. 2005 was a watershed year in the history of poker, since it was the first year that the WSOP was played in the Amazon Ballroom at the Rio. The poker media was still kinda small and had not yet expanded. Over the first five weeks, only a handful of media were covering the preliminary events. We all bonded and witnessed several epic moments in poker history like Johnny Chan becoming the first player to win ten bracelets and then Jen Tilly winning the Ladies Event the next day. Other highlights included Doyle Brunson's 10th bracelet win four days after Johnny Chan. Doyle's son Todd Brunson won his first bracelet that year and Mark Seif won two. Paul McKinney became the oldest bracelet winner at 80+. Phil Ivey, Barry Greenstein, Erik Seidel, Josh Arieh, Allen Cunningham, Johnny Bax, Edward Moncada, and David Grey all won bracelets. And we all know about how Greenstein dedicated his bracelet victory to Charlie Tuttle on the night before he passed away. So many special moments. I remember them all because it was my first WSOP.

Flipchip survived a tour in Vietnam, so he was the perfect jungle guide to show me around Las Vegas and help me get through the grueling WSOP. He and the Prof originally hired me to write recaps for LasVegasVegas. I added Poker Player Newspaper and Fox Sports to my roster of clients and the rest was history. I live blogged almost every final table and headed down to Binion's to catch the last two days in Benny's Bullpen. Joe Hachem won the main event and was the last champion to win on sacred ground.

I picked up the bulk of my readership at the 2005 WSOP and many of you have been with me since you stumbled upon the Tao of Poker that summer. The most popular posts included sordid tales about the sketchy apartment complex otherwise known as the Redneck Riviera, which was infested with members from the lowest rung of society including drug dealers, hookers, ex-cons, and a horde of shirtless inbred pot-bellied mullet-clad kids.

Even three years later, random people stop me and tell me how much they loved the Redneck Riviera and/or the Last 5 Pros I Pissed Next To.... Those two items stood out from my coverage, yet in reality, I only mentioned those two things a couple of times.

When I accepted the assignment back in 2005, I thought it was a one shot gig and that I'd be done and have to go back to NYC and find a job. I ended up making a career out of covering tournaments. Just a few days after the WSOP ended, Flipchip and I were back at work covering the Bellagio Cup and Ultimate Poker Showdown. Soon after, I hit the tournament trail and went to Barcelona for the EPT and then onto Atlantic City and Las Vegas and Foxwoods and back to Vegas and then to Atlantic City and onto L.A. and then back to Vegas and then... well, you know the rest of the story. I've been on the road since I moved to Las Vegas in June of 2005. It's funny how temporary things all of a sudden become permanent.

The lyrics to the Allman Brothers Band song Back to Where It All Begins has been echoing throughout my head during the half-baked construction of this post. I guess that's the theme that I'm trying to express.

The Tao of Poker is where it all began. And that's where I want to cover the 2008 WSOP.

I cannot replicate the energy of the 2005 WSOP. I also don't want to repeat myself. However, I want Tao of Poker to be my main vehicle of expression during the 2008 WSOP. I will try out a few new things as well as stick to doing what I do best... writing what I see.

The coverage on Tao of Poker during the 2006 WSOP only represented about 10% of my total output. I focused heavily on photography that year and I'm especially proud of my black and white WSOP series. I also wrote for thirteen different outlets and published a couple of pieces under my name and several articles utilizing pseudonyms. My clients in 2006 included Fox Sports, MSN, and PokerStars Blog. I even got published in a Swedish newspaper.

At the 2007 WSOP, I wrote exclusively for Poker News covering the majority of Day 2 events, several PLO final tables, and a couple of stints writing color coverage of the 50K HORSE and Main Event final tables. Despite the 100+ hour work weeks, I managed to write every single day on Tao of Poker. I sacrificed sleep on several instances in order to complete my daily post. In my estimation, the quality of writing during the 2007 WSOP represented some of my best poker content to date. I just wish that I had more time to write second or third drafts and/or do more research.

I made a fistful of money in 2006 writing for over a dozen outlets. I made a nice wad of cash last year working for the exclusive coverage team. And this year... I want to write for the sake of writing instead of writing for money.

The 2008 WSOP is the last opportunity for me to write for myself before I return to the tournament reporting scene and whore out my services to the highest bidder. I want to rage solo this summer before I become a hired gun once again.

My accommodations were a step up in 2006 compared to the Redneck Riviera in 2005. I shared an apartment with Grubby in Henderson and no longer had to worry about a homemade meth lab blowing up next door. Change100 stayed with us that summer too. It was nice to be so far away from the insanity, but commuting to work was a bitch. Luckily, PokerStars put me up in Treasure Island during the Main Event, which was an added bonus. I could see the Redneck Riviera in the distance and was happy that I never had to set foot in there ever again.

Last year, Change100 and I rented an apartment in Del Bocca Vista, a gated complex located a couple of blocks away from the Rio. We were pretty damn close but I spent most of my time at the Rio.

For the 2008 WSOP, we considered renting the same place, but then we opted to share a house in Summerlin. I guess it's temporarily called Scheckytown for lack of a better nickname. Yep, Change100 and I will be sharing a house with John Caldwell and Jen Leo. And the last I heard, there was a strong rumor that a red Full Tilt Pro will be living in the house with us. That is yet to be confirmed.

The swanky pool is by far the best part of Scheckytown. We're only a couple of minutes from Red Rock Casino and Red Rock Canyon. I love driving around that park and taking hikes to touch the red rocks. I always write better after I come in contact with the rocks. If possible, I'll drive out there every day before work.

So everything is set for the 2008 WSOP. I have a primary objective. I know where I'm living and who I'm writing for. All I have to do is... show up.

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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