Monday, November 30, 2009

The Rise and Fall of Isildur1

By Pauly
New York City

Usually, when someone comes out of nowhere to challenge the top cash game pros in the world... they usually get mercilessly slaughtered after the big dogs tear them to shreds and piss on their limp carcass. It happens every week. Unprepared sheep (who think they are actually wolves hiding in sheep clothing) are sheered, skinned, and gutted.

Instead of "rolling up a stake and heading to Vegas" these kids and/or Eurodonks destroy the competition on a secondary site, then roll up a stake and head over to the nose bleed tables at Full Tilt for their shot at millions of dollars in cash.

The Big Game at the Bellagio, although regal in nature, is part of the old guard and primarily set up so the Vegas sharks can fleece an out-of-town billionaire or any hotshot with a big score at the WPT or WSOP who wants a shot at the legendary Texas Dolly.

If you're an 18-year old player from Sweden, you have zero chance of setting foot inside Bobby's Room because of that pesky age requirement to gamble. Bobby's Room is off limits and unavailable to many players, and most of the true grinders know that running bad in tournaments over a year or multiple-year cycle utterly destroy bankrolls, which is why the focus has always been the virtual cash games. Big ones.

I knew that I'd be able to see a $1 million pot online... some day. I never thought it would happen this year and during this severe economic downturn. But that's the beauty of internet poker... unknown figures emerge from the shadows every day. As I stated earlier, most of the guys rolling up a stake and taking a shot get their asses kicked to the curb and we never hear from them again. However, earlier in the month, a player by the name of Isildur1 made waves. Big ones. Like giant tsunmai waves that crashed on the shores of the poker world.

Speculation swirled as he made his way up the cash game food chain. He took on many regulars from the Card Runners crew at the 25/50 tables and eventually found himself playing durrrr heads-up at six tables.

Who the fuck is Isludir1?

Early speculation suggested that the unknown entity was a Scandi named Martonas who had a similar run earlier in the year -- but went busto. Was it him taking another shot at the big time but under a different alias? That rumor was many that got quickly shot down by the Encyclopedia Browns and Nancy Drews who inhabit the internet forums.

All legitimate speculation pointed towards a young Swede by the name of Viktor Blom. Because of the terrible tax/gaming laws in Sweden, he wanted to keep himself anonymous for as long as possible in order to evade the prying eyes of the Scandi Tax Police. They make the IRS and the Fed look like a bunch of girl scouts. Do you want to see an always-cool Scandi loose his mud? Ask him about his home country's tax situation. They will gouge out your eyeballs for even broaching the subject.

So to bring you up to speed, over the month of November a tax-evading teenaged Scandi caused a ruckus at the nosebleed tables. His marathon matches against durrrr and the likes of Patrik Antonius and Phil Ivey became the big story across the entire industry. Friends of mine (writers and players alike) would drop everything they were doing to sweat the action.

Isildur1 stole away some of Main Event Champ's Joe Cada and the rest of the November Nine's thunder. Instead of beating those stories to a dead horse in the days after the Main Event finally ended, the poker media focused on the Isildur1 saga. After all, it had the potential to be the biggest story of the year because we were witnessing had the next big star playing right in front of our noses. Everyone loves rags to riches stories, and every single online player wanted to be Isiludr1 -- an unknown who took a shot at the big time. He was living personification of the ultimate dream.

Alas, the Isildur1 run is probably coming to a close. The kid had run up his roll to over $7 million trying to beat the best, but since then, he's been in a downward spiral. His opponents eventually figured out what he was doing and they adjusted accordingly. Isildur1's profits quickly disappeared. Poor durrrr lost his place in line when he had to fly to London to tape a poker program, and in his absence, Antonius and Ivey took turns beating the shit out of the young Scandi.

Is Islidur1 a one-hit wonder? Or will he re-load on the secondary sites and take another shot at the big time? Time will tell.

In the meantime, here are some interesting pieces about Isildur1 that I recommend you read...
An Unstoppable Force Meets... penned by Dogishead, is probably the best analysis that I have seen written about Isildur1. (Card Runners)

Shamus chimes in on the largest pot ever recorded in the history of online poker. (Hard Boiled Poker)

Who Is Isildur1? became the topic of my weekly column where I take a humorous approach to discovering the true identity of the unknown high stakes player. (Poker News)
That's it for now. You can always download Full Tilt so you can watch the nosebleed tables.

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

Sunday, November 29, 2009

More Poker2Nite

By Pauly
New York City

Seebs and Huff gave a strong performance for their second episode of Poker2Nite. Check it out...

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

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Expensive Wino Wins Week 11 of Sundays with Dr. Pauly

By Pauly
Albany, NY

Congrats to Expensive Wino for taking down Week 11 of Sundays with Dr. Pauly over at Fantasy Sports Live. He should have enough money to scratch together a couple of jugs and a box of wine.

I had an abysmal week. Ugly. I blame the vacation-mode that I was in. That Costa Rican sun baked my brain. Now that I'm on Phish tour, I'm hyper-distracted so here's your chance to sneak into the TOC by beating mys core for three weeks in a row.

Click here for Week 11 results and updated standings.

Click here for more details, rules, and payout information.

Best of luck everyone in Week 11 and the final Series.

If you don't have a Fantasy Sports Live account, you can sign up for one here.

And don't forget to check out Buffalo66's guide has been an excellent tool for sure. It's also a valuable tool for hockey and pro hoops as well.

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

Friday, November 27, 2009

Turkey Cup Attracts 84 Players; Joanne Wins 3.0 Version

By Pauly
New York City

Waiting on a train to head on Phish tour, so this will be a quickie.

This year's installment of Turkey Cup attracted a whopping 84 runners! I was blown away by that number. Thanks to everyone who played, pimped, and tweet'd (and RT'd) the annual Turkey Day evening tournament. We had plenty of players from Canada (after all it just another Thursday for them), but we also had a couple of Europeans and Jose was representing South America in the event. Humbling to see a global turnout for Turkey Cup.

The prize pool was... $420. I wish I was making that up. Awesome job, gang.

Here's my pseudo-starting table...
My Table:
Seat 1: Dr Thesaurus
Seat 3: Runt Cake
Seat 4: mtpettyp
Seat 5: DrPauly
Seat 6: gr8fulmouse
Seat 7: Kevmath
Seat 8: albethke
Seat 9: shakesjp
Gigli honors went to DAJETZ82.

I took a hit early on when my stack was under assault from Kevin Mathers. I folded on the river with 2-pair & A-5 versus Mathers' straight. That knocked me down to under 1K. I couldn't get anything going and did not get any action with Q-Q or K-K.

I folded Jacks on one hand. mtpettyp raised. I flatted with Jacks. gr8fulmouse 3-bet shoved with Aces. mtpettyp called and I folded. I stayed alive, but barely.

Last year's defending champion, Daddy, busted out in 66th.

At first break, I had under 900 in chips. I sat near the bottom of 53 players. Friedman held the chip lead. I busted shortly after the break in 51st. I open-shoved with 10-9s and Idiottax called with 9-9. I flopped two spades, but I could not get there and I was dunzo.

Second break with 17 to go, MoonMonsta took over the chip lead. Bogged down in the middle of a big PLO cash game at that point and sweating the Giants/Broncos game, I was distracted but did what I can to keep an eye on the action.

The final table paid out prize money...
The Final Table:
Seat 1: dAAmnhomie (29522 in chips)
Seat 2: Garthmeister (2761 in chips)
Seat 3: change1OO (7791 in chips)
Seat 4: Joanne1111 (18960 in chips)
Seat 5: badblood44 (11095 in chips)
Seat 6: grouse14 (5409 in chips)
Seat 7: MoonMonsta (18496 in chips)
Seat 8: TJ PackMan (14700 in chips)
Seat 9: oceannlv (17266 in chips)
dAAmanhomie started the final table as the chipleader, but took a couple if beats to lose the lead. The tournament seemed to drag in the middle stages, but the final table went quick. When the dust settled, Joanne took it down after she beat BadBlood heads up.

Click here for a screen cap of the final table for Turkey Cup 3.0.

Congrats to Joanne and thanks again to everyone who played and pimped the event. We will definitely be back in 2010. Hope everyone had fun this year.

And... stay tuned for a special announcement concerning Saturdays with Dr. Pauly. If you're a PLO junkie... never fear. I'm in the process of figuring out my schedule for the next year. At the least, we'll have a monthly version of SwDrP. I don't know about you, but I need my PLO fix!

And you can always follow my Phishy travels over at Coventry and on Twitter.

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

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Third Annual Turkey Cup - Tonight at 9PM ET

By Pauly
New York City

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away... on Thanksgiving evening after our family dinner, I played poker at my brother's apartment. I had recently bought a chip set and Derek had just learned the intricacies of the game. We prepped for an impending poker trip to Vegas (our annual brothers trip that one year later would morph into the WPBT Winter Classic). We had a blast that night and forged a bond. Never could we ever imagine the amazing journey that we'd both set off through poker over the next seven years. That momentous evening of cards on Thanksgiving night were the origins of Turkey Cup.

I created Turkey Cup in 2007.... a special Thanksgiving tournament that came to life at the last possible moment. Derek won the tournament and took down the title. The coveted cup and the honor and the bragging rights were all his own.

Last year, Daddy crushed the field (an astonishing 56 players participated) and won Turkey Cup. He's the defending champ.

Yes, that's my brother Derek and myself circa 1980. And you are cordially invited to join us for Turkey Cup. Check the Private tourney tab on PokerStars and you'll find Turkey Cup listed there.

Turkey Cup is a $5 NL tournament hosted on PokerStars at 9pm ET on Thanksgiving night. It's the perfect the post-dinner activity and a chance to get away from your insane family members. Or Turkey Cup is a nifty activity if you are a bored Canuck or a Eurodonk with insomnia.

Everyone is invited. Hope to see you there!

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

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Turkey Hump Day Link Dump: Turkey Cup, Gambling Times Podcast, Grubby Stories, and Isildur1's True Identity

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Here's something to kill the time while you're watching the clock to get the hell out of work and enjoy your holiday weekend!
I'm working on a gallery of Costa Rica photos. They will be posted here. (Flickr)

Just a reminder that Turkey Cup is less than 36 hours away! Derek and Daddy are the previous champs. Will you win Turkey Cup? (Tao of Poker)

My old Vegas roommate, Grubby, wrote an honest post about his degenerate gambling habits. Rethinking the UIGEA is a must read from one of my favorite bloggers/scribes. (The Poker Grub)

Tits and ass. Tits and ass. Tits and ass. (RawVegas via Wicked Chops Poker)

Who Is Isildur1? His true identity is revealed. Dancing Queen? (Melted Felt)

I appeared on the latest episode of the Gambling Times podcast with Falstaff and Special K. Lots of fun. (Gambling Times Podcast)

Save the Sharks is a piece I wrote on vacation for my Sunday column. I watched a charity tournament in Costa Rica that was hosted by Humberto Brenes. (Poker News)
Have a great holiday weekend. Enjoy your time off.

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

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dispatches from Costa Rica, Vol. 1

By Pauly
Playa Conchal, Costa Rica

"I'm liking Costa Rica," said Bobby Bellande.

"First time here?" I asked.

"Yeah. It's my first time in South America."

"Costa Rica is in Central America," I corrected him.

"My first time in Central America too."

* * * * *

I got robbed at San Jose airport by a sticky-fingered baggage handler from Sansa Airlines who thought that he stumbled upon the motherload when he removed a ziplock baggie with a bunch of electronics and wires. The airline forced me to check my carry-on bag for a puddle jumper (10-person flight) up north to Playa Conchal. I stashed all my essentials (laptop, iPod, pharmies) into a messenger bag and took that on the puddle jumper with me, while the baggage handlers rummaged through my shit the moment that my carry-on left my sight.

What the thief didn't know was that he stole a bunch of wires, cables, power cords, and a wireless mouse. He passed up on stealing my only copy of the latest draft of Lost Vegas, but he snagged the worn-down voice recorder that I used to record episodes of Tao of Pokerati. I had an exclusive interview set aside with Humberto Brenes' shark which posed some problems since the shark spoke Spanish and zero English. I speak very bad Spanglish from growing up in the Bronx so I purchased a book of "dirty slang" which I memorized and cracked up my Costa Rican colleagues.

* * * * *

Playa Conchal is one of the most luxurious places I visited on the poker tour. Kudos to the crew at the Latin America Poker Tour who relocated the Costa Rica event from the main city San Jose to a more remote area where the beach meets the jungle. There are moments when I'm wandering barefoot down the beach and it feels like I'm living one of those travel commercials with models roaming the white-sand beaches and a reggae soundtrack blares in the background. Other moments, I feel trapped in time like a character from Lost, almost praying that I get stranded in this paradise.

Fitting that the all-inclusive resort's name is called Paradisus.

Change100 and I were housed in a luxury hut and Otis was stationed next door. On our first night in Costa Rica, we headed to the LAPT Welcome Party where I sampled the local beer... Imperial. Out of all of my Latin American adventures, Quilmes in Argentina is my favorite beer, but Imperial is a close second which beats the piss out of Corona and Sol. I got very acquainted with Imperial since this is an all-inclusive resort which means all-you-can-drink booze. I told you this place is almost heaven. Oh and did I mention the monkeys, raccoons, multi-colored butterflies, and iguanas?

Most of the crowd at the party disappeared and headed to the convention center -- which was the base of operations for the poker tournament and poker room. On the eve of the LAPT Playa Conchal Main Event, Humberto Brenes hosted a charity tournament to help shark conservation in Costa Rica. Over $30,000 was raised (with Humberto & PokerStars matching the monies collected in the event) which is a significant amount of money for a non-profit marine conservation entity. Team PokerStars Pro Veronica Dubal from Argentina won the charity tournament that was a who's who of Latin poker -- which attracted the Costa Rican paparazzi. The Brenes clan was well represented along with one of the actors from the Mexican version (and original) Ugly Betty.

The biggest crowd standing five and six deep hovered around one table. I assumed they were sweating a famous soccer player or Mexican soap opera actress. I elbowed my way through the crowd and saw a guy in a wrestling mask, who turned out to be the son of Santos. His father was one of the greatest masked Mexican wrestlers of all time. Son of Santos happily posed for a picture.

* * * * *

I primarily went to Costa Rica for a well-needed vacation where I could unplug and relax on the beach. The LAPT event was an after-thought despite many friends were either playing or covering the event. I paid my own way here and hoped to write a few pieces just to break even. I also had plans on expanding my contacts in Latin America. My buddy Rey, editor of Bluff Latin America, wanted to introduce me to several important figures in the gaming industry. Ah, and I was also seeking to interview worthy translator for the Spanish version of Lost Vegas.

Otis and Change100 covered the event for PokerStars Blog and Shirley Rosario (aka Poker Babe) was scheduled to play in the Main Event. Her boyfriend, Sos, tagged along which was perfect because we both had someone to pal around with during the tournament.

It's funny because I spent as little time inside the tournament room as possible. And when I did, I was bullshitting with my friends. I considered that "my vacation" while sadly that's what 75% of the poker media does on a normal day of "work."

Sos and I hung out at the activities center. We shot pool and played ping pong. Within a few hours, Sos had become the most popular guy at the resort and I bestowed the moniker "The Mayor" upon him.

The best job at the resort is the activities center. The college-aged associates are paid to play games with the guests and run fun things. The chick who ran the yoga class was smoking hot and she told me that she wanted to move to L.A. to become a personal trainer for movie stars. I told her she needed to move to Las Vegas and whip most of the poker community in shape.

We originally went to the center to inquire about the Rifle Shooting hour. I wanted to shoot guns, but since that was scheduled for a later time we had to kill some time. Two of the guys who worked at the activities center challenged Sos and I to a game of doubles ping pong. I quickly learned the my teammate Sos was super competitive and he was a sick ping pong player.

We were evenly matched teams. And after the first game I realized that it wasn't just for fun. The Costa Ricans wanted to beat us... badly and vice versa. A small crowd gathered to watch the intense match. The rail grew as the game ran over into the Rifle hour. Our shooting instructor was one of our opponents, so he held up the session until we finished the ping pong game.

When it was over, we were deadlocked at 2-2. Yep, evenly matched over four games. We agreed on a rematch the next day and headed off to the shooting rage.

Sos is a former sniper in the Marines and he gave me some tips -- mostly on breathing before I pull the trigger and how to site a target. After some practice, they ran a tournament. Sos was the ringer and took it down. Me? I tied for last place with the only female in the competition. Plus she was from a city in Canada so I essentially tied for last with someone who had never fired a rifle before.

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

Saturday, November 21, 2009

MiamiDon Wins Series 2; AceFilledDreams Wins Week 10 of Sundays with Dr. Pauly

By Pauly
Playa Conchal, Costa Rica

Congrats to AceFilledDreams for taking down Week 10 of Sundays with Dr. Pauly over at Fantasy Sports Live.

Also, congrats to MiamiDon for winning Series 2. He edged out repeteoffenders to win a Supre TOC seat.

FYI, Series 3 starts on Week 11 and will run thru Week 15!

Click here for Week 10 results and updated standings.

Click here for more details, rules, and payout information.

Best of luck everyone in Week 11 and the final Series.

If you don't have a Fantasy Sports Live account, you can sign up for one here.

And don't forget to check out Buffalo66's guide has been an excellent tool for sure. It's also a valuable tool for hockey and pro hoops as well.

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

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Link Dump: Turkey Cup, Poker 2Nite, Pollack Legacy, Gambling Times Podcast, and the LAPT Playa Conchal

By Pauly
Playa Conchal, Costa Rica

Finally had a day off from the grind. I might play a PokerStars LAPT side event today or tomorrow. Anyway, here's a few items to keep you occupied until I return from my Central American holiday...
Poker2Nite debut this week. Sure it's a media buy by UB on Fox Sports, but the show actually impressed me. Good shit from Seebs, Huff, and Stapes. By the way, if you need an additional writer... I'm available. However, I don't work for cheap but will work for weed.

* * * * *

The third annual Turkey Cup is coming next Thursday. Everyone is invited. (Tao of Poker)

Amy Calistri sounded off on Jeffrey Pollack's departure in a post titled... The Pollack Legacy: The Good, The Bad and The Silly. (Aimlessly Chasing Amy)

Two friends of mine from the Carolinas started a new podcast... Gambling Times: WSOP, BadBlood, Origins. Check out the joint venture from Falstaff & Special K. (Gambling Times Podcast)

Tits and ass. Tits and ass. Tits and ass. Tits and ass. (Wicked Chops Poker)

As you know, I'm in Costa Rica because I tagged along with Change100 who is slaving away covering the LAPT Playa Conchal with Otis. While they are working their collective asses off covering the event, I'm frolicking on the beach and exploring the neighboring jungle in search of the local produce. I feel uber-guilty about vacationing while my friends are working, so you need to check out Otis & Change100's coverage of the first stop of Season 3 on the Latin America Poker Tour. (PokerStars Blog)
And don't forget, you can always follow my international hijinks via Twitter. My username is @taopauly.

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

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Reader Mail: Waffles, the Vegas Trip, and Hooters

By Pauly
Playa Conchal, Costa Rica

Real readers. Real questions.

I was going to leave this in the comments section of Waffles' recent blog post, but I figured that I would post it here. The information provided might be of help to some of you some day.
Dear Dr. Pauly,

I need your advice desperately. If I stay at the Hooters Hotel in Las Vegas will I have any of the following problems:

1. Catch weird disease from the sheets
2. Get eaten by mutant cockroaches
3. Get Shot to death in the parking lot
4. Get Gang raped by a bunch of tweakers
5. Anything my lilly white Ass would not like.

Any advice would be appreciated.

You Bestest Fan Ever,

And without further ado, here are my answers...

Thanks for taking the time out of busy schedule to write me. I'm pleased to hear that the Psychiatric Ward at St. Eligius allows in-patients unfettered access to email. By the way, if you can swipe any extra Klonapin or other anti-psychotic drugs for me I will be gratefully indebted to you. Those suckers sell at a premium in the parking lot of Phish concerts.

Anyway, I can tell by the tone of your email that you are concerned about many bad things happening to you in Las Vegas. Let me set the record straight... only bad things happen to bad people. Which is an Eastern way of saying, "You're totally fucked." Maybe you would rather spend the weekend at Foxwoods instead?

So let's start from the top with question #1 about staying at Hooters. You wrote, "Will I Catch weird disease from the sheets?"

Of course you will. Hooters is an off-the strip property which means they actually clean the sheets once a month. My advice is to sleep in your clothes. And never, for the love of god, never ever touch the bedspreads. That's where hookers fuck their johns and those NEVER GET WASHED.

Onto question #2. You wrote "Will I get eaten by mutant cockroaches?"

Vegas does not have mutant roaches. I'd be more worried about the mutant scorpions. They only attack smaller humans, so you're pretty much screwed.

Onto Question #3, "Will I get Shot to death in the parking lot?"

This has a 6% probability only because most of the gangs conduct drive-bys in North Las Vegas. They rarely target tourists on the Strip. However, you might want to purchase a side arm. If someone starts a ruckus, light 'em up.

Onto Question #4, "Will I get Gang raped by a bunch of tweakers?"

Tweakers don't gang rape. Addicts in the middle of hits of crystal meth are less interested in deviant sexual acts and more interested in finding a way to get more drugs. Tweakers might steal all of your clothes, but I'm pretty sure that you will not be violated as long as you comply with their wishes and hand over all of your drugs and money. Most of them will leave you alone. If you do get gang raped it will be by a gang of angry gangbangers because you said something completely retarded to them. Remember that Las Vegas is real life and nothing like the intertubes, blog posts, social media networks, or online poker chat boxes where you can act like a total jackoff and get away with it. In real life, no one likes an asshole. You will get beat down if you act like a punk.

And lastly, question #5, "Anything my lilly white Ass would not like?"

I don't think you will like the cowboys in town for the rodeo finals. There will be hundreds, if not thousands of them, roaming around like lost cattle. Cowboys don't like Northerners especially flaming liberals from Ted Kennedy's home state. Just tell them you're from Idaho and you'll fit in nicely.

I also think that you might be freaked out by the porn slappers on the Strip. Don't be intimated by the illegal Mexicans handing out business cards of prostitutes. They should be considered your friends and can totally introduce you to some nice women who like to eat Italian food, watch reality TV shows, and will do naughty things similar some of your favorite scenes from She Male Samba Mania Vol. 7. By the way, ask the local tranny prostitutes if you can get rake back. They'll give you a freebie if you find them steady work.

OK, I think that's it for now. Did I answer all of your questions properly? See you in Vegas.


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

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

LAPT Costa Rica

By Pauly
Miami, FL

I'm off to Costa Rica for a vacation, but I'll also be checking out the opening event of the PokerStars Latin America Poker Tour. I might play a side event or two while I'm down there.

Anyway, my buddy Rey sent me a video that his crew shot on the beaches of Costa Rica featuring models and some familiar faces in poker such as Lacey Jones and Leo Margets.

The last two times I covered events on the LAPT, the federales shut down the tournament (Mexico) and I was involved in a bar fight (Argentina). Who knows what is going to happen this week?

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Poker Hall of Fame Dinner

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

As a non-scenster in the poker world, I do everything in my power to avoid attending poker-related functions. And when I do make a cameo at those parties and events, I do a little glad-handing, crack a few jokes, and find a way to make a quick exit. If I was a serious alkie, I'd probably be loving those parties for the free booze aspect, but I'm not that kind of juicer anymore.

However, I made a welcomed exception for the Poker Hall of Fame dinner. I knew it would be one of the highlights of my week in Las Vegas. As one of the 15-member media panel who determined this year's class (along with the living members of the Hall of Fame), I received an invite (+1) for the dinner and induction ceremony where the industry would honor Mike Sexton as the lone member of the 2009 class. The private event was held in the Brasilia Ballroom during the two-hour dinner break of the November Nine final table. The close proximity to the Penn & Teller Theatre made it super easy to attend. Luckily I have a girlfriend and the +1 on the invite was a no-brainer so I took the lovely Change100 who was equally excited to witness Mike Sexton's induction. Michalski was scrambling at the last minute to find a date and he didn't want to show up to such a prestigious event empty-handed. He found a date and no, his date wasn't a guy nor was it a local harlot he found off craigslist. On the contrary, Michalski's date was a sweet Texas girl and the sibling of a WSOP bracelet winner.

We all sat together at a table off to the corner after arriving fashionably late since the final table ran a few minutes behind schedule. Most of "famous people" sat at the middle tables up front. You know who I'm talking about... Texas Dolly, Jesus, Howard Lederer, Daniel Negreanu, and that Phil Hellmuth clown. Sure, my vote counted just as much as Dolly's or Hellmuth's but that's were our equality ended. That's why Michalski and I (and the rest of the media panel) were sitting off to the side and near the back -- sot of like the kiddie table at Thanksgiving dinner. It was a stark reminder that we were skilled enough as scribes to gain access to the ballroom, but we weren't important enough to be closer to the action, which was fine with me since I was surprised that I got a vote in the first place. The cliche fits... I was simply happy to be there.

A poker-themed wine company sponsored the event and provided free wine. The "high roller" wine was available for tasting in the back of the room. I didn't realize that it was a tasting table and I was initially irked at the small portions. The waiters at the tables had full bottles of wine -- albeit a lesser expensive wine. At least they kept the glasses filled to the top.

I ran into Barry Greenstein at the meat station and introduced him to Change100 and although she has been in the poker biz since 2006, she had never formally met the guy known in some circles as Joe Sebok's dad.

"You've got a good man there," Greenstein told my girlfriend.

"I know," blushed Change100.

Greenstein's compliment came before I revealed my votes. Although we could vote for no more than three people, I wrestled with my decision for weeks and had kept my votes private until I revealed two.

"You know Barry, I voted for you and Mike."

He cracked a rare smile. I picked up a tell on Greenstein. He can disguise the strength of his cards, but he couldn't hide the elation that someone actually voted for him.

"Thanks. But I'm glad you voted for Mike. He's the only guy that met all of the criteria. Lots of the (internet) kids don't realize that he hasn't been playing as much because he's busy being an expanding the reach of poker."

Greenstein also made a crack that the Hall of Fame lost some of it's legitimacy "once they let Jack Keller in." Ouch. But that's why I love Greenstein. He's a straight shooter.

I bumped into Padraig Parkinson. I had seen him eight hours earlier at the bar inside the lobby of the Penn & Teller Theatre and he had been drinking steadily ever since. The Irishman (third winningest player from Ireland) was part of a radio show with Jesse May in the UK. Although Jesse and Padraig had me on their show in the past, I had never actually met Padraig. I introduced myself and his eyes lit up. He put his glass of wine on the floor and whipped out his mobile phone.

"I gotta call Jesse!" Padraig said.

Two minutes later, I was on the phone with Jesse May and we were recording a bit for his radio show live from the Mike Sexton Hall of Fame dinner.

I handed the phone back to Padraig and he told me that he had 1% of Happy Shulman at the final table before he made a bee-line for the wine tasting table. That's when Fun Warren from Party Poker emerged from the crowd. Fun Warren is one of the coolest people in the entire poker industry. He's a proper Englishman who knows how to have a good time. Padraig is an old friend of Mike Sexton which was why he was at the dinner. Mike pulled Fun Warren aside and gave him a top secret mission -- be a chaperone to Padraig. Fun Warren's assignment was to keep Padraig out of trouble during the induction dinner. Talk about a tough task. How can you keep an Irishman away from free booze?

During the speeches, Padraig could not sit still and he rushed towards the win tasting tables. Without fail, Fun Warren was always a step or two behind him like a good shepherd to properly guide his soused sheep back to the flock.

A few old school legends sat up on the stage; T.J Cloutier, Texas Dolly, and Jack Binion. They took turns sharing stories about Mike Sexton and busted his balls about being a degenerate sports bettor. Doyle recanted one story many moons ago about Sexton getting tossed in jail after a poker game got raided in North Carolina. Sexton used his one phone call to put in a bet with his bookie.

"Give me Atlanta and the over!"

Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack spoke about Sexton's character. He used the word "class" a few times which is appropriate. Classy guys stand out in the poker world because the majority of people in the business are Grade A assholes and Jerkoffs with a capital J.

Then Tom Sexton took the stage. I had the pleasure of working with Mike Sexton's older brother during the 2007 WSOP. During the down time, Tom told me fantastic stories about old school Vegas, especially dark and deviant tales about Archie Karas and Stuey Ungar. I knew that Tom would give a kick ass speech -- and he certainly delivered. He gave a little insight into Mike's career and his devotion to veterans groups and little league baseball. Mike Sexton is a true American hero.

In once instance, Tom had everyone in stitches and in the other he had almost everyone in tears. Tom got a little teary-eyed when he mentioned their mother who passed away 30 years earlier without seeing Mike Sexton's rise to greatness.

Tom finally introduced his brother, the man of the hour, who took the time to say many positive things about the eight other men who were on this year's ballot. Mike Sexton had the most to say about Tom McEvoy who helped usher in smoke-free tournaments.

Sexton also mentioned his loyalty to Linda Johnson who gave him one of his first jobs in poker. He also suggested that Johnson should be on next year's ballot for the Hall of Fame based on her numerous contributions to the game of poker.

Sexton praised Steve Lipscomb for helping shape the poker world as we see it today with the inception of the World Poker Tour, and of course, Sexton had some funny things to say about his partner in crime -- Vince Van Patten. Yep, VVP was in attendance but no Shana Hiatt (in case you were wondering) but Sexton definitely mentioned Shana as an integral part of the early success of the WPT.

I was fortunate to take part in a special night as the poker community honored one of their most influential members... Mike Sexton.

* * * * *

My Sunday column at Poker News contained some of my favorite quotes from the Poker Hall of Fame Dinner. Definitely check that out.

Michalski and I recorded two episodes of Tao of Pokerati during the Hall of Fame dinner...
Episode 12.4: Hall of Fame Dinner: Voter Hesitation (1:13)
Episode 12.5: Hall of Fame Dinner: Touched by Sexton (2:45)
I also uploaded a video that I stealthily shot during the Hall of Fame dinner. It was a montage of Mike Sexton clips/outakes/bloopers from the WPT. I was filming a big screen and the sound is not the best quality. Just a heads up warning. Regardless of the poor quality, there were some funny moments in the montage.

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

Monday, November 16, 2009

Golden Angle Shooters at the Nugget

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The Golden Nugget.

It's the jewel amidst the thick layer of fecal matter covering Downtown Las Vegas. The Nugget underwent a renovation in recent years which made it the Bellagio of Downtown. OK, maybe I'll hyping up the place just a tad, but a newly installed carpet sans the stench of cigar smoke and urine makes the Nugget classy when compared to the other shitholes that help give Downtown its opaque reputation.

AlCantHang and Michael Craig engaged in a prop bet (specific details fuzzy but not important) where Al emerged victorious and decided that Michael Craig had to play in the worst possible tournament in Las Vegas. Al chose the 2am tournament at Binions filled with insomniacs, geriatrics, tweakers, grifters, and other zombie-like patrons that inhabit the poker room at that hour.

The 2am at Binions was a wise choice, but definitely not my pick for worst Las Vegas tournament. That would have to be the abomination at the Luxor -- where the first hour is limit hold'em and the rest of the tourney is NL. Ironically, the tourist-heavy Luxor donkament was the first ever Las Vegas tournament that I cashed in, which is sort of like bragging that you got laid for the first time by a tranny in a Tijuana brothel.

The game plan was Binion's at 2am during the off night of the November Nine. The WSOP final table began at noon on Saturday and halted when action reached heads up. The final two, Cada and Moon, were scheduled to play at 10pm on Monday night, which left Sunday night > Monday morning as the logical choice to fulfill the prop bet.

A small group of poker media were up for a mission to Binion's. Like combat-hardened marines in a hostile environment, we prepped for an ambush by insurgents. I was not about to wander by a darkened alley in Downtown Las Vegas without a bulletproof vest and a couple of razor-sharpened objects (homemade shanks made out of golf tees and Gorilla tape and parlay card pencils from the Gold Coast sports book).

We gathered at the staging ground... the Hooker Bar at the Gold Coast... and AlCantHang called an audible. Katkin did a little recon and discovered that the 2am at Binion's was not running. Instead, he suggested a 1am tournament at the Nugget which quickly became our new destination.

The Nugget is not quite the same atmosphere as Binion's with a slightly upscale appearance and the denizens of the Nugget, on average, had a higher median income and significantly more teeth. I was morbidly disappointed that our destination had changed. I wanted to go slumming and seek out a third world experience of casinos at Binion's. That was the entire point of the sojourn Downtown and taking a walk on the wild side. I had already arranged 3x my normal rate for a future Bluff column titled... The Night Michael Craig Got Stabbed in the Neck by a Toothless Hooker. Shit, I even penned the closing paragraph...
"Craig handed me his blood soaked notebook and gasped 'Please give... family heirloom... to my children.' The door to the ambulance slammed shut and the red and white emergency lights faded into the darkness of Downtown, but the echoes of the sirens and his dying request rattled inside my head."
All I needed was for my vision to become a reality and I didn't have to stage the event, on the contrary. All we had to do was show up en masse at Binion's, drink heavily, play like a Sacndi Eurodonk, and allow the natives to get restless. A fight was almost guaranteed with our crew, especially because I invited a couple of friends from Australia to join us. They were a rough and tumble bunch and spent many soused evenings at the Crown Casino in Melbourne. The Aussie crew (ironically made up of just one Aussie, a Kiwi, and a Canuck) were more than capable of handling themselves in a melee, but they were late arrivals.

I went for self-parking and my girlfriend squeezed my hand as we safely made passage through the parking structure. I told her that if we were going to get jumped -- it would be in the parking deck on the way out -- so I quickly showed her how to effectively stab an assailant in the neck. Just in case. Always be prepared, especially in these downtrodden times.

I got lost trying to find the poker room. I admit, it had been a while since I stepped inside the Nugget. I vaguely recollect acting as a look-out for a drug deal in the lobby back in 2005 when my professional Keno playing partner in crime secured an eight ball of horse tranquilizers for the Vegoose music festival. Alas, you'll have to wait until Lost Vegas comes out to read that story.

I navigated the narrow walkways. Space is a premium downtown and it's impossible to make a beeline to where you want to go inside the Nugget. We had to follow the labyrinth of slot machines and table games before we were spit out in front of the poker room. My friends were naturally gathered at the bar, while a few poker junkies were inside at the cash game tables.

I whipped out my notebook and started booking action. I came up with a last longer bet... $20 to join... first player to bust gets his tournament buy-in back (about $60) while the last player standing gets the rest. Ten of us ponied up the cash; AlCantHang, Michael Craig, Pauly, Change100, Otis, California Jen, Benjo, Lana, Katkin, and JD Newitt -- who was flush with cash after winning the Fitzgerald's nightly tournament an hour earlier.

I was seated at the same table as Change100, Jen, Benjo, Al, and Otis. My Aussie friends finally arrived. Jonno had come from a meeting and wore a suit and tie. He was better dressed than the Nugget's floor staff. His impeccable attire might have made him a target for thieves, but little did they know that Jonno was a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Jules and Graham wandered in and I had not seen my favorite couple Down Under since my last trip to OZ. Graham is a Kiwi and the most handsomenest man that I had ever met (not including Snoopy's model friend Patrik Antonius).

"That's a 'I like to suck cock' drink you got there," Graham quipped as he pointed at Jonno's "girlie" drink -- a bright green cocktail with multiple maraschino cherries floating around.

I really missed the Aussie crew and was glad that they got to partake in the 1am turbo. The Nugget might be the nicest casino Downtown, but they had horrible dealers. I'm usually not critical of dealers -- especially those humping the Sunday graveyard shift downtown -- but they made too many errors that affected the outcome of the tournament. There was one hand that should have been declared an obvious misdeal, but the dealer forced the action. The ensuing result? Benjo busted on a cooler against Jen on a flop of A-J-5. Jen had a set of fives and Benjo held A-J. That set Benjo off and he stormed out of poker room. There was no way he was about to give the Nugget any of his money in a cash game after that horrendous error.

Jules and I were also involved in a terrible call at the final table. I got there by playing like a maniac. I was raising hands blind and waiting until the flop to see my cards. I busted Katkin on a sick beat. He open-shoved with 8-8. I saw the Ad in my hand and quickly called before I glanced at the other card ... 4d. I liked the suited aspect of my hand -- but rivered an Ace to bust Katkin. That put me in the chiplead. Of course, I promptly busted in 5th place due to a dealer error, a shitty call from the floor guy, and a local tart who accused me and Jules of cheating. When I look back at the incident, I realized that I caught the local trying to angle shoot. No wonder she was so pissed when we tried to call her out.

Here's what happened. Jules was super short on chips. She was the small blind. I was the big blind. The local tart wore the most gaudy jewelery I had seen (more fit for a Jewish grandma on a cruise ship) and trying to dress like she was 25 instead of 55. The local tart was the button. This was the last hand before a color-up break. AlCantHang raised my big blind. I was pissed and barked "What the fuck, Al?" He shrugged his shoulders and I knew that Al was playing tight and had a good hand. I wanted to shove, but decided to fold because we had a break coming and I had to piss. I had the big blind and when we returned from the break, I was supposed to be the small blind. Except, the dealer was too focused on coloring up chips that he never moved the button. He was pushed during the break and the new dealer assumed that the button was correct.

Jules was down to her last four 1K chips. As the shortest stack in the tournament, she was well aware of the situation and was expecting to come back to the button. She protested as she sat down. The floor guy came over. Jules said that the button was wrong. I agreed, but the local tart pitched a hissy fit. "I never got my button!" she moaned which was bullshit -- because she just had it. She was trying to get the button twice.

The floor guy looked at the tart and nodded. The new dealer said something to the effect, "I just sat down. Check with (old dealer's name)."

The floor guy turned around and walked to the back of the poker room as I watched his every move. He stopped. Checked his cell phone. Then whirled back around and walked towards our table.

"The button is right."

The floor guy didn't ask anyone to confirm. He just made a decision without verifying and took the word of the local. That's not the first time that's happened to me. I've been discriminated against at Foxwoods, the Taj, the Star City in Sydney, the Bellagio, and now the Nugget. When it's a local vs. tourist ruling, the local almost always wins. Home field advantage.

At that point, I could have argued to death but there would have been nothing good to come out of it. I knew what was up. I was the "drunken tourist" (although I did not have one sip of booze the entire night and was in full control) in that situation and was deemed the loser. I originally chalked it up to a bad beat and just part of the horrendous tournament staff at the Nugget.

But then the local tart wouldn't let it go. She then accused both me and Jules of cheating. That set me off. She successfully conned us, and now she was rubbing it it.

What the fuck? That's what sleazetwats do when they get caught angle shooting. They turn it around and blame the victim. Heck, after her behavior and the crappy call from the floor guy, I had every right to suspect that the local tart and the floor guy were colluding together against us! Again, there was nothing I can do about it (except give the Nugget bad press).

Change100 was furious when the local tart accused me of cheating. "That's my boyfriend. He would never do such a thing."

Lana rushed to my defense, "Yeah we all know each other, but we're trying to bust each other. We have a last longer to prove it."

The local tart sent me on tilt. She also killed whatever fun vibe that was flowing around the room. I seethed in anger. That's a serious accusation that I don't take lightly, especially when we caught her trying to angle-shoot.

I have too much to risk to get caught in a cheating scandal, both live and online. I would never jeopardize my standing and reputation in the poker industry that I busted my ass the last five years to achieve. Why would I risk it all of that hard work on a dinky $6o tournament at the Nugget?

That local tart lost all respect from me and I started referring to her as a cunt which I unleashed to the Twitterverse. Pardon my French, but an honorable woman would never angle-shoot, get caught, then try to blame the people she was trying to cheat.

It got three-handed with the local cunt, Lana, and Change100. And those two, Lana and Change100, acted out a good cop/bad cop routine as they pestered the local cunt and tried to get her to tell them her name. She clammed up and then proceeded to put wicked beats on both Change100 (third place) and Lana (second place). I was really hoping that Lana would beat the local cunt heads up -- but she was a luckbox in addition to being an angleshooter.

Change100 asked the floor guy if he knew the local cunt. He lied and said, "Never seen her before."

Alas, I got the local cunt's full name (bribed a dealer $5 who said she was indeed a cunt and never tips) and I have the name of the floor guy who made the phantom call and misled Change100. Congrats on making my shit list, pal. You might be the dumbest floor guy in Las Vegas -- trying to pull a con against ten members of the poker media. I filed away his and her information for future use. In retrospect, I should have acted like the asshole and demanded a video playback. But I was there to have fun and firmly believed that I would overcome the cheating accusations and win the entire tournament. Alas, that never happened which is why I'm second guessing my decision to keep my mouth shut.

I went downtown to write about Michael Craig potentially getting stabbed at Binion's and little did I know that I would flee downtown after getting conned by a local and a floor guy in one of the oldest tricks in the book. It goes without saying that I'll never return to the Nugget to play poker again. I hope the poker room manager reads this because he needs to know what type of environment he's condoning. This post should have a sub-heading "Why I'll never play at the Golden Nugget ever again."

And the local cunt? Enjoy your winnings. I hope you get rickets and anal herpes.

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

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Index - 2009 November Nine & Tao of Pokerati Episodes

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Here's an index of the Tao of Poker's coverage of the November Nine...
November Nine Quick Stats
November Nine Bios
November Nine Final Table - Live Blog
From Nine to Two; Cada vs. Moon
November Nine Heads Up - Live Blog
Joe Cada Wins 2009 WSOP Main Event & Becomes Youngest Champion

And here are a couple of Las Vegas-themed posts that were non-November Nine related...
Conceptual Alienation
Dilettante Pai Gow

* * * * *

We recorded new episodes of Tao of Pokerati, which is the quickest poker podcast on the intertubes. We recorded the November Nine episodes inside the Penn & Teller Theatre...
Book 12: The November Nine
Episode 12.1: Pre-action Action (1:45)
Episode 12.2: Homme-team Advantage (1:45)
Episode 12.3: For Those about to Rock, We Saout You with Benjo (2:25)
Episode 12.4: Hall of Fame Dinner: Voter Hesitation (1:13)
Episode 12.5: Hall of Fame Dinner: Touched by Sexton (2:45)
Episode 12.6: Not-so-Last Call (3:36)
Episode 12.7: The Final 3 (2:56)
Episode 12.8: Wave the Flag with Benjo (4:02)
Episode 12.9: Cutting down Moon (1:58)
Episode 12.10: Cada’s Commencement (1:25)

French Fried Poker with Benjo & Pauly
Episode 1: The Scarf
Click here for the Tao of Pokerati archives.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Jakehead Wins Week 8 and Belly2bar Wins Week 9 of Sundays with Dr. Pauly

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Sorry for the delayed updates. I got all turned around because of the November Nine. Last Sunday, Belly2bar won Week 9 of Sundays with Dr. Pauly over at Fantasy Sports Live. Meanwhile two Sundays ago, Jakehead took down Week 8.

MiamiDon is in the overall lead for Series 2. Remember that guy? I thought he fell off the face of the earth! Alas, he's been kicking ass and taking names in FSL.

I had another bleh weekend. Work has been killing me and sucking at my knee caps. It's been hard to find extra time to devote to fantasy sports! On the good note, a bunch of players (19 to be exact) snuck into the TOC -- which happens if you beat my score in three consecitive weeks. If five of you can beat my score this week -- then you'll get a seat to the TOC.

FYI, Series 2 is coming to a close this weekend. Series 3 starts on Week 11!

Click here for Week 8 results and updated standings.

Click here for Week 9 results and updated standings.

Click here for more details, rules, and payout information.

Best of luck everyone in Week 10 and the final week of Series 2.

If you don't have a Fantasy Sports Live account, you can sign up for one here.

And don't forget to check out Buffalo66's guide has been an excellent tool for sure. It's also valuable for hockey and pro hoops.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.
Tao of Poker Fantasy Poker Results; 10-Way Tie and Steg Money Wins the Tie Breaker!

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

First of all, thanks to everyone who participated! We had well over 100 entries in less than 24 hours before they closed the pool. Very impressed with those numbers considering we had such a small window!

Yes, there was a 10-way tie for first place and luckily there were tiebreakers. I used the "number of heads up hands" to determine the winner. There were 88 hands between Cada & Moon. Steg Money had the closest without going over, while was the closest but he went over 88.

So we have our winners...
1st Place - Steg Money (M. Stegemann)
2nd Place - (B. Taylor)
Please shoot me an email and we can discuss prize distribution.
Tao of Poker Fantasy Poker Top 10 Results:
1 Steg Money (M. Stegemann) 15
1 (B. Taylor) 15
1 Ltrainkoja55 (L. Pierce) 15
1 Bill Ivey Rocks (M. Fox) 15
1 F.U.Schecky (Schecky) 15
1 donkeypuncher (DonkeyPuncher) 15
1 cantseefade (a. lee) 15
1 TheGrotto (E. Grotzke) 15
1 riverrun27 (R. Gervais) 15
1 Min-Raised Aces (BobbyBracelet) 15

Click here for final results.
Thanks again to everyone who participated. Shoot me an email if you're Bob from Three Rivers Poker or M. Stegemann so you can claim your prizes.

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

Friday, November 13, 2009

Jeffrey Pollack Vacates WSOP Commissioner Job

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

The rumor mill was swirling over the November Nine about the future of Jeffrey Pollack. And it's official. Friday will be his last day as the Commissioner of the World Series of Poker.

The Commish
Photo by Flipchip

I was a fan of Jeffrey Pollack during his reign as Commissioner. He never gave me shit about blatantly writing about the Hooker Bar or other of the sordid happenings that lurked in the shadows of the WSOP. For that, I'd like to publicly thank him for allowing me the artistic freedom to cover the WSOP in my way and giving me the greenlight to write about the straight dope about the poker world. Pollack (and Harrah's for that matter) have always given me free reign. If you enjoyed the style and content on the Tao of Poker during the summer over the last 4-5 years, you have Jeffrey Pollack to thank for not censoring me or the stories that I wrote about.

Harrah's has no plans on naming a new commissioner. Maybe they will some day, maybe they won't. But if they ever do, it will never be the same. There will only be one Commish in poker and that's Jeffrey Pollack.

Jeffrey Pollack will be missed. I also looking forward to speaking with him in the future for the sequel to Lost Vegas, where everyone in the poker industry dishes the real dirt about the glorious poker boom.

* * * * *

You can read about the Harrah's/Pollack break up via Pokerati here. Los Hombres at Wicked Chops Poker will have a vlog shortly.

Otis penned something on the Tao of Poker this summer titled Fringe: Jeffrey Pollack and the Fine Line. It was one of the my favorite submissions from the Tao All Stars and worth a read.

Change100's shared her thoughts on Pollack's departure in a post over at Pot Committed titled WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack Ankles Harrah's.

And last week during the November Nine, Change100 wrote a haiku about the Commish...
Looking Fresh at 3am
Hair cropped like Caesar
Navy suit is wrinkle-free
Real men wear pastels
And speaking of Twitter, Pollack has already announced his break up in subtle terms on his Twitter home page.

* * * *

Update! RawVegas finally posted a three-part interview with the Commish. In the second video, Chops asks Pollack is he was ever irked or pissed off at something that was written on Tao of Poker.

Check it out...

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

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Pai Gow Diaries: Dilettante

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

A pissy mood haunted me on Monday afternoon.

I looked in the mirror and scolded the figure staring back at me, "Shake off the tilt before work and get your shit together, man!"

I usually ignore non-work things and shed any semblance of life tilt before I during a major assignment such as the November Nine, but in that instance I was rattled with a couple of things (both poker and non-poker related) that really set me off kilter. On a normal day when my dour mood is elevated from tropical storm to Hurricane status, I let that piss and vinegar dissolve over a day or so, before the gloomy skies clear up and I'm back to normal. However, I didn't have that luxury with less than 6 hours until the heads up battle between Joe Cada and Darvin Moon, so I had to quickly shake off the tilt and I headed to the pits for a session of degen gambling.

Change100 and I shacked up at the Gold Coast during this sojourn to Sin City. The Gold Coast is a well-known playground for many of us who work at the Rio during the WSOP. The local's casino is often overlooked on the West Side of Flamingo Road by the more famous Rio and the swanker hipster Mecca of the Palms. The crowd at the Gold Coast is a mix of tourists on a budget and a sinister seedy element of locals. Lots of tweakers, third-tiered hookers, and crazy Asian gamblers who are drawn to the Gold Coast because of their dozen or so low limit Baccarat tables and other Asian games such as Pai Gow.

I wandered downstairs and mingled with the miscreants in the casino while looking to gambling away my life tilt. I headed to the sports book to wager on a tip from one of my friends who is a heavy sports bettor. His lock of the day were my hometown Knicks getting +5.5 against Utah. I love betting home dogs but as a Knicks fan I know better than to bet on those schleps. Maybe if I was in a better mood, I would have avoided betting any NBA games and only bet on the Steelers instead. Alas, I didn't. I dove head first into the abyss and bet both the Knicks and the Steelers (and ignoring Denver in Mile High as a home dog).

"$220 to win..." I started to say when I put one of my hands up and the cashier in a pink Tony Romo jersey rolled her eyes. "Wait. Make that $1,100 to win $1,000."

"Any other bets?"

"Fuck yeah."

I peeled off a wad of Benjamins and she slid the Knicks and Steelers slips to me, I glanced at the numbers to make sure everything was correct. I have not wagered four figures on a sporting event in a couple of years. I'm (er, was) a reformed sports bettor and only gambled to make money by betting on sure things instead of problem gambling where I was addicted to the rush of action.

I guess you can say that in the last two weeks I fell off of a couple of wagons, and I've been having a balls out blast.

For fuck's sake, I was not even heeding my own advice in my last Op/Ed that I penned where I bashed pros for donking off their poker winnings in the sports book. I'm a walking hypocrite driven by my weaknesses. So there I was standing at the Gold Coast sports book with geriatric broke dicks with nasty cases of dandruff who picked their noses. A bald chubby guy in a ripped Orleans windbreak stood behind me and chomping on 75 cent hot dog. His halitosis nearly suffocated me so I opted to sweat the games in the pits.

I escaped the plight of the sports book and my foul mood had already cleared up. No more driving five miles over the speed limit on cruise control. I had floored the accelerator and let it rip. I had action. Big action. For the first time in ages. I had a stiff erection and stopped in the middle of the casino to reshift my junk so I didn't embarrass myself as I walked over to the Pai Gow tables.

I sat down at a $10 table. A rotund Hawaiian (6'5" and 400 pounds) originally occupied the two middle seats while an elderly Chinese guy chain-smoking menthols sat in the #6 seat. I sat at the opposite end in the #1 seat. The Hawaiian guy busted $200 in about twenty minutes. He left and the Chinese guy stepped away for a bathroom break but did not return for over 30 minutes.

I played the cute Thai dealer heads up for about twenty minutes. She slowed the game down a bit with chit chat in between hands and I didn't mind. I was only there to bide my time while I sweated my bets and kept an eye on the Monday Night Football pre-game and the Knicks game which had tipped off.

I was betting anywhere from $50 to $100 a hand depending on the situation. I was up almost $200 when Mr. Pai Gow sat down in the #2 seat. I originally thought that the 50+ year old white guy with a grey beard was homeless. He wore dirty jeans, ratty tennis shoes, and a blue sweatshirt that looked like it had not been washed since Slick Willy left the White House. He was missing one tooth and pestered a cocktail server as she wandered by.

"Scotch and soda," barked Mr. Pai Gow.

He clutched a stack of bills which he placed on the felt. The top bill was $100 and the pile was about a dozen or so bills high. No way those were $100s. They had to be $20 bills below. Right? Who bets $1,000 on a $10 Pai Gow table?

Well, apparently Mr. Pai Gow does.

The Thai dealer yelled out to the pit boss and he made a beeline to the table.

"Vladimir is your name, right?" said the pit boss and Mr. Pai Gow nodded.

The pit boss leaned over and told the dealer that he got a break on his commission. Then he okayed the cash wager and watched the action.

I had four green chips in my circle or 10x the minimum bet. I thought that I was a biggest swinging dick in the Gold Coast until Mr. Pai Gow sat down and unleashed his John Holmes sized wagers -- $1,100 to $1,500. He randomly pulled back a few bills from time to time -- and I never figured out his pattern.

I took back the green chips and replaced them with four reds. $20. That's the highest amount that I bet while Mr. Pai Gow took over the table.

He wanted the Dragon Hand every single time, especially after he had set a shitty hand to protect his slim holdings. I quickly deferred the Dragon Hand to him every time.

Mr. Pai Gow played the Dragon on his first six hands for a total of twelve hands. He pushed eight of them and won the other four. He was up almost $5,000 in a flash as his cash stack remained on the table covering the betting circle while he accumulated a stack of $500 white chips.

Mr. Pai Gow was on a tear and a crowd had gathered to watch, mostly elderly Asian men or women who had gotten up from other Pai Gow tables or the Baccarat tables to sweat the action. I'm used to railbirds at a poker table but never experienced an influx of railbirds at a Pai Gow table. When more curious people saw the semi-circle around the table, they quickly flocked and the rail swelled so much so that the cocktail waitress was screaming for them to get out of the way so she could deliver her watered down drinks.

I forgot about the elderly Chinese guy in seat #1 who got up and disappeared for thirty minutes. He left his stack at the table and finally returned to his seat. He did a double-take when he noticed Mr. Pai Gow's hefty cash wagers.

It didn't take very long before the Chinese guy pissed off Mr. Pai Gow when he refused to give up his option to play the Dragon Hand on three consecutive attempts. The guy won each time which cost Mr. Pai Gow anywhere from $3,000 to $4,000. On the third Dragon Hand win, Mr. Pai Gow turned to me and said, "I hope that ass enjoys that $15."

Mr. Pai Gow was growing impatient and barked at the waitress for another Scotch and Soda. The Thai dealer tensed up a bit as the pit boss continued to hover over the action while the railbirds stood three and four deep to catch a glimpse of the Pai Gow high roller.

I have friends who have wagered more on a single hand of Pai Gow. One of my European buddies told me how he bet $3,000 on a single hand at the Bellagio and we all know about Otis' walk on the wild side which occurred at the same exact table where I sat with Mr. Pai Gow. That was the night (well, early morning) of the infamous Keno crayon incident -- all of which was spurred on my a horrendous session at the Pai Gow tables where we got cold decked by a Dealer from Vietnam named Flora.

But for the most part, the Gold Coast catered to Pai Gow grinders. That's why I was surprised to see Mr. Pai Gow's high-brow antics at a $10 table.

Mr. Pai Gow played for almost an hour before he lost a single hand. Lots of wins and pushes which was an amazing feat considering that he was playing the Dragon two out of three times. I watched closely as he set his hands. He had a terrible poker face and I could tell if he had a strong hand or weak hand.

The Chinese guy figured out that I was deferring my option for the Dragon to Mr. Pai Gow so he decided to switch seats and took a seat to my right in Seat 2. Mr. Pai Gow was not pleased because he knew that he would only get 1 out of 3 Dragon hands.

And then things got ugly. Mr. Pai Gow looked incensed as he set up his hand. I knew he was in trouble and desperately wanted the Dragon Hand but the Chinese guy snatched it up. I watched as he fanned out the cards. He had three pair - which is a super strong hand. Mr. Pai Gow held a pair of deuces below and Q-10 up top. The dealer showed pocket treys and Q-10 which meant that Mr. Pai Gow lost his first hand in over a half hour. Steam was spewing out of his head when the dealer opened up the Chinese guy's hand and Mr. Pai Gow saw the monster hand. The Chinese guy cost him $1,500 and he refused to play at the table for another hand. He scooped up a stack of $500 chips -- over $12,000 -- and stormed off.

Mr. Pai Gow stopped at the next table, whirled around, and rushed towards the old Chinese guy. My instincts took over and I was prepared to dive into the pit behind the table games if Mr. Pai Gow went postal and pulled out a weapon like a handgun or a homemade shank.

Mr. Pai Gow stopped about six inches away from the old Chinese guy and screamed, "I hope you go broke!"

The Chinese guy was not about to be pushed around by the dilettante. He took a long and meticulous drag off of his menthol cigarette and blew it in the face of Mr. Pai Gow.

"I play the Dragon when I fuckin' want. I hope you go broke, ice-hole!"

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Joe Cada Wins 2009 WSOP Main Event & Becomes Youngest Champion

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

The result of the heads up match between Joe Cada and Darvin Moon ended up as expected with Cada emerging victorious and he became the youngest Main Event champion in the process. The 21-year old from Michigan broke the record set by Peter Eastgate from last year's November Nine (and that means Hellmuth's original record was broken in consecutive years). Cada is nine days shy of his 22nd birthday. He's gonna have one helluva celebration considering that he's a working class kid (his mom is a blackjack dealer at a Michigan casino and his father was a laid-off auto worker).

Although mostly everyone inside the Penn & Teller Theatre in the Rio Casino expected the backwards-PokerStars-hat-wearing Cada to beat the Nola Saints-hat clad Darvin Moon, no one predicted a lengthy heads up battle that would last 88 hands.

"For someone who does not play heads-up, he sure was a tough opponent," Cada remarked about Moon.

After the first hour of play, it was evident that Moon was not going to be a push over and the Luddite Logger from Maryland put up a heck of a fight against the kid who was more than half his age. Shit, Moon had scars, grudges, and police records older than Cada. Yet, by sheer aggression, Moon seized the lead a couple of times and even opened up a significant margin to silence Cada's stunned and drunken fans. However, Moon failed to deliver the proverbial knock out blow and take advantage of a rattled Cada. Instead, Moon Gumped-off his chips on a straight draw when Cada made a hero call with just a pair of Jacks (with J-9), which held up when he faded Moon's draw.

"I was not worried," explained Cada. "You can't stress out when that happens. You just have to continue to play your best poker."

On Hand #88, Cada awaited for Moon to make another crucial mistake. They got it all in on a coinflip. Cada had the best of it with pocket nines. Moon was racing with Qd-Jd but the poker gods could not give Moon any more assistance. He used up all of his "run good" karma and had no more one-time chips. Moon whiffed on his overs and Cada won the pot...

and the tournament...

and the bracelet.

In an ironic twist, Darvin Moon actually collected more money for second place ($5,182,928) than Joe Cada ($8,547,042) since Cada was obligated to split 50% of his winnings with his backers: Johnny Bax and Eric "Sheets" Haber.

Moon and Paul Wasicka have something in common -- they won more money for second place than the player who beat them heads up. For Wasicka, it's was the Jamie Gold debacle in 2006 where Gold had to share an undisclosed amount of money with Crispin Lesyer after the two entered a verbal agreement where Gold would fork over half of his winnings.

Cada the Kid won. His crew of soused Yellow Submariners from Michigan went apeshit and they finally had a reason to celebrate -- their hero won the most prestigious tournament in all of poker.

Congrats to Joe Cada for an amazing run and comeback.

Oh, and a hearty congrats to Darvin Moon. No one gave the Luddite Logger a chance tonight, let alone at the November Nine. Heck, even the security guards has zero respect for him according to Nolan Dalla, "(Moon) wore no logos and generally blended in with the crowd wherever he went. Prior to entering the arena to play for the championship, Moon was stopped by security officers and was not allowed to enter since he did not have tickets or any credentials. Moon politely protested and announced he was one of the Main Event finalists. After a few awkward moments, the situation was straightened out and Moon was permitted entry. Moon stated that he was stopped at the door a number of times over the past three days."

Losing to Cada did not seem to bother Moon.

"It's only money," Moon said. "The more you win, the more you pay to the government (in taxes). I play for the game."

* * * * *

The 2009 WSOP is finally... over. Thanks to everyone for your support and following the Tao of Poker's coverage of this year's WSOP. Thanks for the links and for plugging the Tao of Poker especially via Twitter.

It's been a wild ride this year. I'm drained and exhausted and I could not have done it without all of you -- the readers.

I also have to thank the Tao of Poker All Stars for their contributions in WSOP coverage over the summer. You guys rock. And I hope to have all of you back next year.

Signing off from Las Vegas...

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

Monday, November 09, 2009

2009 WSOP Main Event Championship - November Nine Heads Up Live Blog

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

The cashola
Pic by Flipchip

Joe Cada. Darvin Moon.

One of them will win their first bracelet and become poker's newest celebrity du jour as the next world champion.

Here's what they are playing for...
Final 2 Payouts:
1st - $8,547,042
2nd - $5,182,928
Here's the starting chip count...
Final 2 Chip Counts:
Joe Cada - 135,950,000
Darvin Moon - 58,850,000
* * * * * *

9:44pm... Christmas Eve

It's starting to smell like Christmas. Someone is about to find a fat $8.5M gift from Santa.

The crowds started to gather a couple of hours ago in the general admission line. A few clever fans dragged benches and chairs to sit on. A couple of guys played rummy while others passed the time drinking their favorite malt beverages. One super fan held a red WSOP hat and clutched a sharpie hoping to catch a glimpse of a poker celebrity.

The lower orchestra inside the Penn & Teller Theater quickly filled up with Moonheads while Cada's Yellow Submariners returned to their section in the Mezzanine.

The stage was packed with media, Harrahs suits, ESPN's crew, and security guards. Photographers elbowed each other trying to snap photos of the pyramid of money on the table while Cada and Moon's friends and family took their assigned seats in the bleachers.

The feeling in orchestra row is that this heads up match is going to be over faster than it started. I heard predictions of "four hands" or "fourteen minutes" and other suggestions that if you blink -- you might miss the final hand. Yep, the consensus here is that Moon will get demolished by Cada in a very short time like Marvis Frazier getting knocked the fuck out against Mike Tyson in 1986.

Me? I think it's going to take a little longer than people think. Cada's lucksack powers have to end at some point, right? Or maybe Moon will catch a break and outlucksack the lucksack. If Moon can double up early, then who knows what will happen.

* * * * *

10:22pm... The Last Bit of Hype

"Ship it!"

A couple of Cada's crew interrupted Commissioner Pollack as he tried to say a few words. They did the same when Jack Effel took the mic and shouted "Joey! Joey! Joey! Ship it!"

But it was the Moonheads who drowned out Cada's crew. Shocking.

"Where did thy come from?" asked Lance who was sitting next to me.

I had no idea. The mezzanine finally filled up and by the sounds of it, mostly everyone is rooting for the under dog. The majority loves the Luddite Logger.

* * * * *

10:32pm... Motley Crew

Motley Crue's Vince Neil uttered the famous tagline... "Shuffle up and deal!" He was flanked by two Vegas show girls with glassy eyes. I was disappointed that he failed to have a drink in his hand and did not snort a line of blow off the ass of the showgirl.


Vegas is so fuckin' sanitized these days. Frank Sinatra would have banged both showgirls on stage, drank a bottle of scotch, and decked Phil Hellmuth before he said, "Shuffle up and deal, Baby!"

Photo by Flipchip

* * * * *

10:32pm... Early Cooler

Moon limped. Cada raised to 2.5M. Moon smooth called. The flop was Ks-3s-2d. Cada fired out 3.5M. Moon raised 10M. Cada called for 6.5M more. The turn was the Ad. Cada check-called a 10M bet from Moon. The river was the 9c and both players checked. Moon tabled pocket Queens which were better than Cada's 9-9. Moon picked up the pot and improved to 82M.

The Moonheads went nuts. The logger just sawed off a huge chunk of Cada's stack.

So, wow not only did both players have pocket pairs on the first hand... Moon limped with Queens to start, and had the testicular fortitude to raise Cada on the King-high flop.

And why did Cada called the turn when Moon raised him on the flop and bet 10M?

At any rate, it's not going to be Marvis Frazier and Mike Tyson like everyone predicted. All those giddy media reps who were talking smack about an early night just sunk a bit into their seats.

* * * * *

10:49pm... Moonrush

Darvin Moon has been closing the gap ever since the cards went in the air. He only trails Cada by 8M in chips. Time to chop?

* * * * *

10:55pm... Coughing Up the Lead

Joe Cada has officially lost the lead to Darvin Moon in less than 10 hands after Moon took down a hand with Q-8. Moon is up to 102M to Cada's 93M.

Four of Cada's crew painted letters on their bare chests. They took off their shirts to expose C-A-D-A. One of the A's is a girl who left her bra on. Slightly disappointed. But then again, those Michigan girls tend to have big boobies.

* * * * *

11:05pm... "Chase the Chicken, Rock!"

On a couple of instances, Joe Cada stood up and walked into the crowd to chat with his backer, Johnny Bax. The two chatted about who knows what, but it reminded me of a boxing match when the fighter is talking to his corner man after getting whooped in the first round. Cure the Rocky theme music.

* * * * *

11:11pm... Cada Lands a Blow

Cada regained the lead after he won his first sizable pot against Moon. Moon opened to 3M. Cada called. The flop was Jc-4h-2d. Cada checked-called a 4M bet. The turn was the Qh. Cada checked. Moon bet 6M. Cada raised to 16.75M and Moon called. The river was the 5c. Cada quickly bet 35M. Moon leaned back in his chair and exhaled. He eye his stack and counted down before he shook his head and folded. Cada's crew erupted and their hero re-gained the chip lead.

* * * * *

11:20pm... Jack-High No Good

On a board of Ah-10d-3h-6c-4s, Moon bluffed on the river with a busted flush draw holding Jh-5h. Cada tanked for a couple of minutes while everyone sat in silence. He finally called and tabled J-10 for a pair of tens -- good enough to win against Moon's Jack-high.

"Sick call!" screamed one of Cada's faithful.

"Nice call, Baby!" shouted another.

Cada improved his lead to 128M while Moon slipped to 66M.

* * * * *

11:25pm... Level Up

Blinds are now 600K and 1.2M with a 200K ante. This is the highest the blinds have ever been in a WSOP Main Event according to Jack Effel.

* * * * *

11:40pm... Moon Hanging On; Cada's Pukers

Just when Cada tries to pull away, Moon tackles him. It might be his cheering section. The crowd seems to be pulling for the underdog. No way all those people in the upper deck actually know Moon. Unless there's a loggers convention int own and they bussed everyone over.

I overhead a couple of Cada's crew discussing the scene with a Moonhead in the bathroom.

"Everyone here is rooting for Moon," he said.

"Well, you kids are pretty loud," said the older Moonhead.

"Yeah, but there's so many of you. We're outnumbered."

Seconds later, another member of Cada's crew yaked in the toilet. Pace your self. This is going to be a long night.

* * * * *

11:50pm... Moon Four Bets to Even Chip Count

Moon opened to 3M. Cada raised to 10M. Moon four-bet to 25M. Cada tanked and fled. Moon won the hand to even the chip lead at 97M a piece.

* * * * *

12:12am... First Break

Welcome to the After Midnight edition. Who didn't think this would be over by the first break or Midnight? Alas, at the break, Moon has a 4M advantage over Cada... 99M to 95M.

* * * * *

12:27am... Moon Surge

Moon has been on a tear after the break. He must have had his Spinach or something because he picked up the first four five pots after the break to snag the chiplead... 121M to 74M.

* * * * *

12:40am... Moon Slaps Cada Around

Cada looks clueless like a rookie QB unable to handle an all-out blitz. If Dickey V was calling this game, he'd be screaming, "T.O. baby! You gotta call a T.O.!"

The last hand was a prime example of Cada unable to handle Moon's sudden aggression. The more chips Moon gets, the more confident he gets and the more scared Cada is playing. Cada opened to 3M and Moon smooth called. The flop was Ac-5d-3h and Moon fired out 5M. Cada raised to 13M and Moon reached down and slowly pulled out five stacks and announced a re-raise and Cada headed for the hills. Moon won the pot and pushed his stack over 145M while Cada slipped under 50M.

The tides have turned.

* * * * *

12:47am... Silencing the Frat Boys

Moon neutralized Cada's crew after taking the lead and pounding Cada. The more Cada's stack slips, the more that his crew remains silent. The "Joey!" chants and "Let's go Cada!" are a thing of the past. You hear the random, "You can do eeeeeet!" But that's about it.

* * * * *

12:52am... Cada Trying to Push Back

Moon opened for 8M. Cada insta-shoved for 67M. Moon tanked. Stood up in dramatic fashion and looked as if he was going to call, but he folded. Cada won the pot which woke up his fans for a brief moment.

* * * * *

1:11am... Cada Doubles Up; Seizes Chip Lead

On the 80th hand of heads up play, Cada finally drew blood. he doubled through Moon when he picked off Moon making a move with a draw.

The flop was 10c-9h-5d and both players checked. The turn was the 10d. Moon checked. Cada bet 3M and Moon check-raised all in. Cada tanked for several minutes before he made the call with Jh-9d and nines up. Moon tabled 8s-7s for just a draw. Everyone in the theatre rose to their feet. The dealer burned and dealt the river card... 3h. Cada faded the straight and doubled up. He seized the lead and his entire cheering section woke up from a deep slumber.

Cada increased his stack to 108M while Moon slipped to 86M.

* * * * *

1:22am... Darvin Moon Eliminated in 2nd Place ($5,182,928); Joe Cada Wins 2009 WSOP Main Event for $8,547,042

Wow. What a hand on the 88th hand of heads up play.

Cada opened for 3M. Moon raised to 8M. Cada shoved all in and Moon called.
Moon: Qd-Jd
Cada: 9-9
The flop was 8c-7s-2c. The turn was the Kh and Cada's crew almost shit a brick when they say paint. The river was the 7c. Cada's nines held up and Moon was eliminated in second place.

Just 30 minutes earlier, it looked like Moon was about to dismantle Cada, but the kid hung on tough, dug deep and waited for Moon to bluff off all of his chips in order to double up. And then he waited for Moon to make a mistake once again calling off his entire stack with Q-J sooted.

Cada won his first bracelet and became the youngest Main Event champion. He won 50% of $8,547,042 (minus taxes, of course) due to his staking agreement with the Bax/Sheets syndicate.

Moon had the hearts and minds of the majority of the spectators in the room, but in the end, all he could do was scrape together a second place finish for $5,182,928. He actually wins more than Cada! Not a bad payday for the Luddite logger from Maryland.

That's it for now. Stay tuned for a complete recap.

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