Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Gobbling Pills in the Dark and Returning to the Mothership

By Pauly
New York City

After a fun in the sun assignment covering the PCA in the Bahamas, I retired from the grind of constant traveling and hid my passport to make sure that I didn't take off for six weeks (minus a quick trip to NYC for some personal business). I shacked up in the slums of Beverly Hills, shut off the phone and unplugged for days in a row. I had been a wayfarer, troubadour, and wanderer. It felt good to be in one place for a while. The nomadic lifestyle has too many benefits to count, but as the Grateful Dead song goes... back home, sit down and patch my bones, and get back truckin on.

After living an unconventional lifestyle over the last few years, I had a more conventional few weeks and played house with Change100 as we had a taste of normalcy. I actually had the opportunity to write and play online poker at a proper desk in my newly decorated office instead of playing cash games while sitting at a gate in an anonymous airport somewhere or scribbling down deadlines in the lobby of a random hotel.

I turned down numerous offers to travel for both work and for play. I regret the decision that I missed Mastadon or Mastatoon or whatever hijinks AlCantHang got into in the deep South. I also had a tough time saying no to an assignment in Portugal for the Swedes and the opportunity to work for/with an old friend of mine in the poker community. Alas, I desperately needed the time away to write and make a huge surge in a personal project that has consumed me for the last couple of years.

One of the benefits of a stable schedule was the opportunity to do my own thing without being told what to write or where to go. Freedom. It's definitely not cheap but well worth the personal sacrifice. I set aside two sessions per day to write in a something that I describe in greater detail over at Tao of Pauly called The Writing Process.

I've been playing more online poker to supplement my income today and tomorrow. I figured that my money is better invested in myself at the tables than letting the crooks on Wall Street churn the last remnants of my trading account into oblivion. The results have been less than spectacular but better than flipping burgers.

Online poker has been an almost daily staple and the perfect late night activity. Sometimes I played in the evenings, but the majority of my playing occurred during those late night hours as they bled into morning when insomnia struck and I fired up Badugi on PokerStars or headed over to FT and chased down my favorite fishy donators. My mind has been in over-active mode the last few months and I've been sleeping less and less. I filled some of those mind-numbing hours grinding away at the LHE tables on Full Tilt. My reward? I achieved Iron Man status. Again. Seven months running now.

For one of my columns, I scribbled together a Nose Bleed Report about the different high stakes games including the Durrrr Challenge and any of those big 500/1,000 NL tables with Zigmund and Gus and Ivey. Yes, I actually watched online poker... which is definitely more exciting that watching live poker... particularly because I can do it without pants on and a bong nearby. The chat box has some entertainment value (in a car wreck sort of way). One thing is for sure, that durrrr kid has been taking it in the ass from the punks on the rail with a bombardment of homo slurs.

* * * * *

In other degenerate betting news, I won a couple of hundred bucks on the Oscars (thanks to Sean Penn's clutch win in Best Actor), but lost money betting on Top Chef. Stefan was clearly the best chef on the show in the last two year but the Eurodonk choked during the final two episodes in New Orleans.

Aside from poker and other prop betting, I fed my inner action junkie with a bit of nostalgia. Pac-Man. And in a short period of time, I found a brand spanking new addiction. I had been weening myself off of Pac-Man. It's tough to do. There's no patch or gum. Just gotta quit it cold turkey.

Yes, I'm addicted to Pac-Man, the classic arcade game that was originally based on a Japanese game. The concept of the game is shrouded in so many subversive drug references that I never noticed when I was eight years old.... running around in the dark, evading ghosts that want to kill you, and gobbling up pills and fruit in the process. That aberrant behavior pretty much summed up my late 20s. I love it when life imitates video games.

The Pac-Man gadget is easy to add to your personalized Google homepage and each day, I lost a little bit more of my sanity and self-discipline. I had not been that morbidly addicted to anything like that in a very long time. Bacon-wrapped crack dipped in chocolate. The last time I felt that jones? When I first played online poker. I just had to keep that buzz and high and elation that Pac-Man offered. Even when I failed and died, I wanted another shot. To go higher.

I even got Change100 hooked on the video game that dominated my youth. Poor girl stopped writing her screenplay and she can't stop ripping bong hits and playing Pac-Man simultaneously. She even know all the names of the ghosts.

Initially, I played Pac-Man during writing breaks and discovered that instead of five minute spurts, the extended sessions lasted twenty and thirty minutes. Hello, Junkie! I quickly took a tough-love stance and removed the gadget from my homepage. I stopped playing on my laptop completely. Cold turkey. You can see the scratch marks on my forearms because I'm constantly rubbing my nails into my flesh because I can't stop thinking about Pac-Man. I was even dreaming about it. When I woke up in a cold sweat, I knew it was time for me to take drastic measures.

However, I knew that Change100 had Pac-Man installed in her laptop. I was always tempted late nights, when she was asleep. I played constantly when she went to bed. There was one night, when I was a posterboy cliche for drug-addled video game junkie. There I was at 3AM, sitting in the dark, popping generic Percocet, and playing Pac-Man like an old lady at the penny slots.

The entire mind-fuck of it all was that I actually gave up irony for Lent.

At least I had enough semblance to pause the game before I went to piss. Nothing was more horrific than discovering those blue hairs who pissed themselves at the slot machines because they dumped so much cash into on machine without a payoff that they were not going to leave until they hit a big score. That was the worst of the worst in the addiction department. If you willingly piss yourself because of one of your gambling addictions, then it's time to seek help. Or buy Depends.

Oh, and never two-table it and try to play Pac-Man at the same time. Nothing good can come out of that aside from tilt and frustration.

Too bad, you can't play Pac-Man for cash. I know that my buddy Jonny Vincent had been crushing the online Monopoly games, so it's a matter of time before I can find someone who wants to play me heads-up Pac-Man.

Here's a nice segue...

Speaking of gobbling pills in the dark, I'm about to embark on a week long road trip on the East Coast. I'm driving from NYC to Hampton, Virginia to see my favorite band from Vermont play a highly-anticipated reunion show. Actually, there are three concerts over a three day period and the biggest party on the planet will be at the Mothership in Hampton. Special guests during that sojourn will included the Joker, Change100, and PKPNF.

The weekend is not 100% play and fun. I'm also gathering research for a non-fiction book and I'll be writing about the reunion for a non-gambling related assignment.

In addition, will be providing extensive coverage of the Phish reunion over at Coventry music blog, as well as using Twitter and You Tube. If you want live updates of the reunion, follow me on Twitter.

Special thanks to Brian H., a Tao of Poker reader from Alabama. We played together on Full Tilt one night a few months back and he asked me if I was going to Hampton. He hooked me up with his extra tickets because he's getting married shortly. Tickets are going as high as $1,000 a piece and Brian sold it to me for face value, which in turn, I gave to the Joker. Brian is a true fan and not a profiteer. Tons of karma points are going your way, sir. Best of luck at the tables, and especially with your upcoming wedding.

Oh, and if you happen to see me wandering around the parking lot in Hampton, by all means say what's up.

That's it for now. My short stint as a normal person is over. Time to return to the road. Next stop... Hampton.

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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