Friday, July 31, 2009

Deep Stacks? Good or Bad?

By Pauly
Denver, CO

Matt Savage wrote an article called Are Deep Stacks Good for Poker Tournaments? Check it out to get a perspective on deep stacks from one of the most respected tournament directors in the game.

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Video: What Does Benjo Think?

By Pauly
Denver, CO

Every year at the WSOP, Otis and I come up with one activity that we do to keep things interesting when we're bored or to keep us sane during the insane moments. In 2005, it was the Hooker Bar. In 2006, it was the Tilted Kilt. In 2007 and 2008, it was Lime Tossing. And in 2009, we came up with... What Does Benjo Think?

If you have no idea what we're talking about, here's the premise...

Real questions by degenerate gamblers. Real answers from an angry Frenchman. It's a prop betting game that Otis and myself play where we wager on what we think Benjo would answer a series of random questions. It was a prop betting game popularized by Phil Laak and Antonio Esfiandari when they used Johnny Lodden for a game called Lodden Thinks.

Anyway, we played this game over the last few weeks of the WSOP. We never taped or recorded a round... until now. It's the last ever edition of What Does Benjo Think? This one is Volume 6.

For the original installments....
What Does Benjo Think Vol. 1
What Does Benjo Think Vol. 2
What Does Benjo Think Vol. 3
What Does Benjo Think Vol. 4
What Does Benjo Think Vol. 5

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Liz Lieu Tuesdays: Mirror Images and Railbird

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Back by popular demand... here are two pictures for today's viewing pleasure.

The first one is self-explanatory. I love art.

The second one? That's Anh Tran. She was Liz Lieu's teammate for Dream Team Poker. After Liz busted out, she came by to sweat Anh. As you can see, Anh is quite the dish. Anh is relative newcomer and went deep in the Donkulus, but luckily she didn't go very far in Dream Team. She was sitting at my table (Schecky was also at my table) and directly across from me. She busted out kinda early which help me since her enamoring beauty was a distraction. When one guy eventually busted her, everyone at our table gave him shit. Because both her and her railbird, Liz Lieu, quickly left. I gave the guy who busted Anh a ton of grief and pointed towards Schecky and said, "You had to bust the hot Asian chick when there was a perfectly viable fat balding white guy at that end of the table!"

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

Monday, July 27, 2009


By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I make plenty of pat-myself-on-the-shoulder laydowns when I play NL cash games. Most of the time, I simply know that I'm beat and I'm folding to very obvious value bets on the river. Other times, I have been able to avoid suspicious behavior and betting patterns that reveal a much stronger hand than myself.

I had been working on the laydown part of my game because I have been folding too many made hands where I think I'm beat. I've been getting bluffed too much and needed to take more chances and try to pick off more opponents.

In tournaments (particularly during the amazing run during Dream Team Poker), I made a slight adjustment which brought plentiful results. I switch gears frequently, but during my tight-aggressive gear, I have been leading out on the flop with slim to marginal holdings only to fold to raises and/or check-raises. In cash games, I would three-bet and four-bet more in those situations (when I missed the flop with A-K and holding a big pair when a scare card hits the turn), so I decided to incorporate that move against opponents whom were more prone to fold.

I always find myself in a situation when I say... "I know he has nothing... but so do I, but I don't have enough chips or enough balls to shove, so I gotta fold."

That happened early on during the Dream Team event. There was an extremely loose player, a dealer from one of the California casinos, who was picking on me in the early levels. He had been playing 50% of the hands (often limping ot limp-calling raises behind) and he quickly built a stack with post-flop aggression against our table filled with weak-tight players including me, who played non-confrontational poker at the outset.

He limped in EP and I popped him to 1,300 with A-K from the cut off. He called. The flop was Q-6-2 rainbow. He checked. I bet 2,600 and he check-raised to 6,000. Normally I would have folded but I decided to tank and let him sweat it out. During that moment, I was looking for an excuse to call. I carefully examined his hands and his neck in an attempt to pick up any tells. My gut told me that he had nothing of significance, because he would have raised preflop with any pair or strong hand. The hand I was worried about was 2-2, but he'd wait until the turn to check-raise me with a set. He could have had a Q-J to Q-9 and even lower if they were suited. If I raised, would he be able to fold top pair with a crappy kicker. Even if he had a Queen, I still held two overs. He could have been check-raising me with A-6 or something like that, maybe 7-6 and flopped second pair and was trying to push me off A-K. It was about to work, but I just didn't believe him. I didn't want to fold so I had only one option.

"I'm all in," I said.

The guy tilted his head back and looked up to the heavens. He immediately took off his sunglasses. If he had flopped a big hand, he would have already tabled his cards. I knew that I was in good shape with every second that had passed as he muttered things under his breath. He said he had a middle pair and folded without showing his cards. I raked in a decent pot and more importantly, he stayed out of my for most of the night.

In that instance, who knows if I was ahead or behind. Bottom line... I avoided the once automatic fold during a live tournament.

Online cash games, especially limit hold'em, is a total different universe. I enact an ABC poker game plan when I multi-table LHE. Premium hands are tough to come by, so whenever I do find them, I play them hard and fast especially in multi-way pots. I'm gonna make my opponents pay to suck out on me. In the worst case scenario (or the common situation where I have K-K and 97.4% of the time an Ace will flop), I'm gonna lose one or two big bets by check-calling the turn and river with a big pair with an overcard on the board. Once in a while, someone gets fancy and tries to bluff. It's not going to cost me much to sniff that out... but it can get pricey over the long haul.

Some of the tougher situations are capped hands pre-flop between three or more opponents. If I have J-J thru K-K, I'm assuming one of my opponents has Aces or has a pocket pair above me. And if I have Aces, I have to assume that one of them has a big pair. So when I have A-A and it's capped three or more prelfop, I nearly shit a brick when a Jack, Queen, or King hits the flop because one of those fuckers must have flopped a set to sink my Aces.

In LHE, even though I know I'm beat, I'm still a sadist and call them down all the way to the river by the rare chance one of them is bluffing with the Hammer. Do people still do that these days? Since it's only costing me a limited amount of money to call... I brazenly do so. In NL, I'd have to make those decisions on the flop to head for the hills or make a stand for the rest of my chips. Folding is easy when you have your entire stack at risk. Folding is tougher when the bet is so insignificant relative to stack size. That's why LHE is tough to beat for some folks.

I'm always trying to plug leaks in my game. I found myself chasing down sets with pairs even though I knew I was beat (and not getting any odds whatsoever to call the flop or turn). I'd say only once in a blue moon do I actually hit my two-outer, although it seems to happen against me every fuckin' time. I decided to reduce those loose calls and play more disciplined. I haven't seen the instant results, but over the long term, I expect to save several hundred big bets over the remainder of the year.

I had one of those situations arise over the weekend. I was multi-tabling 5/10 with CMitch. Those tables have a mixture of solid players and scores of dead money. The swings can be huge, but there are times when I've been able to hit and run for a few hundred in a matter of minutes... which is astonishing for a full ring LHE table. And think about this... those tables used to be softer!

Anyway, here's the hand that I was able to fold...

I found K-K on the button. JimmyG limped. Zeus called. Canterberry called. I raised. Small blind re-raised. The big blind called. JimmyG folded. Zues called. Canterberry called. I capped it and everyone called. Five players. I figured that I was behind against Aces in the small blind.

The flop was Jc-8d-3s. Both blinds checked. Zeus checked. Canterberry bet out. Fuck. He flopped a set of Jacks, that shithead. I called anyway. The small blind check-raised. The big blind folded and Zeus folded. Canterberry capped it. Action came back to me and I was looking at being way behind A-A and set of Jacks. Time quickly expired from my time bank and I folded.

The As hit the turn. I felt better about folding Kings because I'd be drawing dead even if I spiked a King on the river. The river was the 10d.

Guess what the players had?

The small blind showed Jd-Jh for top set, while Canterberry flopped bottom set with 3-3. Well, I figured that I was way behind one set but two? Yikes. In that case, it was pretty easy to fold Kings. It saved me a few big bets or a half a bag of weed.

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

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Donkey Kiev, EPT & APPT Schedules, and the Top 5 Rejected Circuit Stops for PokerStars

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA


The Ruskies stiff-armed PokerStars and gave the finger to the entire poker industry after the Russian government unleashed sweeping reforms revoking poker's status as a "sport" and shutting down all casino operations in Mother Russia save for a handful of approved state-run casinos. According to the NY Times...
"Casinos in Russia are now to be confined to the Altai region of Siberia; the coastal area of the Far East, near the border with North Korea and China; Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave between Poland and Lithuania; and the Azov Sea region in the south."
Plenty of jokes were passed around that the EPT stop in Russia was being moved from Moscow to Siberia. Although casinos were on the banned list, it initially appeared that poker was going to be spared since it was classified as a sport in Russia. However, in the last few days, that exception is no longer valid.

Marianna Tishchenko wrote, "Russian officials announced that an error was made in 2007 when poker was added to the list of official sports. As a result, poker clubs will also be illegal under the antigambling law."

Yikes. Supposedly, once Russia outlawed casinos, the folks at the EPT scrambled to find an alternative venue in order to avoid a fiasco such as LAPT Mexico last December when the federales shut down the event during Day 1. The EPT pegged Kiev as one of the few viable options if the EPT Moscow. As soon Russian officials nullified poker as a sport, Kiev went from being a possibility to being a reality.

Alas, the EPT Moscow is never more and the EPT Kiev will be replacing them. Here's the press release from PokerStars...
The European Poker Tour (EPT) is pleased to announce an alternate venue for its August event, now scheduled to be held in Kiev, the largest city and capital of Ukraine, at the Kiev Sports Palace, from August 18-23, 2009. The "EPT Kiev Sports Poker Championship" is to be held under the regulation and authority of the Ukrainian Ministry of Youth, Family and Sport, and in partnership with the Ukrainian Poker Federation. This event is expected to be the largest poker tournament ever held in the Ukraine.

The Kiev event replaces the previously-scheduled 2009 Russian Open poker tournament due to be held at the Radisson SAS Slavyanskaya, Moscow from August 18-23, 2009. That event has been cancelled because our ability to run the event was placed in doubt due to the recent closure of all casinos in Russia.

Euro Poker Tour Ltd. sincerely apologises to all players who were intending to attend the Moscow event, but unfortunately these circumstances were beyond our control. Players are encouraged to consider attending the Ukrainian event instead, and to participate in the opening of the EPT's sixth season.

PokerStars advises its players who qualified online for the Moscow event that their packages (including buy-in and hotel) will be converted to EPT Kiev packages; however they will also be eligible to take a credit for a future event, or receive the cash equivalent value as alternatives.

The buy-in for the "EPT Kiev Sports Poker Championship" Main Event will be 5,000 EUR (4,700 + 300).

Players should note that the Ukraine does not require visas for citizens of the European Union, United States or Canada (among many other countries) when travelling to Ukraine for less than 90 days. Players from other countries should check this webpage ( or with their local embassy for more information.

We appreciate the opportunity to bring the EPT to beautiful and historic Kiev, and look forward to exploring the sights, sounds and flavors of the rich Ukrainian culture.
So the good news is that you don't need a visa since the Ukraine is in the EU. But the bad news is that Kiev is not Moscow. Sure, Kiev has its own charm, but it's no Moscow. In other venue changes of note, Budapest is out, but Portugal is in.
EPT Season 6 Schedule - Part 1:
Aug 18-23 EPT KIEV (Ukraine) - 4,700 + 300 EUR
Sept 4-9 EPT BARCELONA (Spain) - 8,000+300 EUR
Oct 2-7 EPT LONDON (UK) - 5,000+250 GBP
Oct 20-25 EPT WARSAW (Poland) - 23,500+1,500 PLN
Nov 17-22 EPT VILAMOURA (Portugal) - 5,000+300 EUR
Dec 1-6 EPT PRAGUE (Czech Republic) - 5,000+250 EUR
Jan 4-14, 2010 PCA (Bahamas) - $10,000+600 USD
And if you have exotic tastes and are longing to travel to the Far East or Down Under, then you should take ashot at those soft satellites to various APPT events. Here's the schedule...
2009 APPT Schedule:
Aug 25-30 APPT Macau (China) - 40,000 HKD ($5,160 USD)
Sept 17-20 APPT Seoul (South Korea) - $3,000 USD
Oct 14-18 APPT Auckland (New Zeland) - $3,250 NZD ($2,100 USD)
Nov 12-15 APPT Philippines - 100,000 PHP ($2,150 USD)
Dec 1-6 APPT Sydney (Australia) -6,300 AUD ($4,920 USD)
If you don't have a PokerStars account, you can download the PokerStars software here.

* * * * *

And before I go, here's a little fodder....
Top 5 Rejected Circuit Stops for PokerStars:
1. Kazakhstan Open (SPT - Stan Poker Tour)
2. Kabul Cup (SPT - Stan Poker Tour)
3. Baghdad Championships (MPT - Mesopotamia Poker Tour)
4. Honduras Grand Slam of Poker (PUCAPT - Politically Unstable Central American Poker Tour)
5. Somalia Poker Classic (SSAPT - Sub-Saharan Africa Poker Tour)

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

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Solanthos Wins Saturdays with Dr. Pauly

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

It was a sincere pleasure to host this year's only edition of Saturdays with Dr. Pauly. Hard to think it's been almost seven months since the last one (won by Alexe55 when he beat Change100 heads up). I've been too busy this year and didn't have the necessary time to host a lengthy series, but I was itching for the PLO action and camaraderie. I threw this together at the last second and was stunned that we got 48 runners for this event. Last year, we had only one week where we had more than that number (and that was when I added a $215 seat to the Sunday Million to the winner) so you can say that the turnout this weekend was stupendous.

Since we had 48 runners, the top 9 got paid out. You had to make the final table to get your money back and even then it was top heavy.
My Starting Table:
Seat 1: Solanthos
Seat 2: chompy_jr
Seat 3: Skow-go
Seat 4: Zestaaayyy!
Seat 5: April (TX)
Seat 6: Your Hero
Seat 7: markoflnk
Seat 8: SmBoatDrinks
Yeah, we had a Supernova playing in the event and I had to draw him to my friggin' table. Zestaaaayyy! is an Aussie pro and I'm sworn to secrecy about his real identity.

Chitwood unfortunately took down Gigli honors. He was crippled to his last 100 chips when Change100 took him out in 48th place.

I lost most of my chips to April early on with set over set. I busted out shortly after in 39th place. I got it all in on the flop with Ah-Kc-Qd-2d. I had top pair and a flush draw against markoflnk's set of Kings. I turned top two but whiffed on the river. Busto.

By the first break, twenty players busted while DrChako held the chip lead with 6K. Then it was time for on_thg to go to work. He was a vacuum and sucked up chips at a rapid pace. For most of the tournament, no one was close to catching him except DrChako, that was until BigSwede emerged as the one to beat.

Sidney Lane bubbled off the final table in 10th place with Big Swede holding the lead. Yeah, a Scandi was in the top spot ith nine to go and plenty of familiar faces including two players who had won Saturdays with Dr. Pauly in the past.
The Final Table:
Seat 1: DrChako (8402)
Seat 2: on_thg (14725)
Seat 3: zagga (5750)
Seat 4: BIGSWEDE_2 (18289)
Seat 5: Solanthos (5790)
Seat 6: MinDaddy (8670)
Seat 7: mean g (4150)
Seat 8: markoflnk (3534)
Seat 9: Hatchet826 (2690)
On_thg snagged the lead when he busted MeanGene in 8th place. On_thg held the chiplead at the second break, until BigSwede jumped back into the top spot wit 6 to go. The two battled back and forth for the lead with their 20K plus stacks, while the other four players jockeyed for position.

The last Brit in the mix, Acornman, hit the rail in 6th in when DrChako rivered a straight to snap off Kings. That decisive hand propelled Chako into the chiplead, but he doubled up Solanthos on the next hand to lose it.

DrChako regained it after dragging a monsterpotten against the BigSwede when his Aces held up. The BigSwede was crippled and went out in 5th place on the next hand. With four to go, DrChako was closing in on 30K as the chip leader. That's when his rush continued. He had on_thg outchipped 2-1 when they were involved in the largest pot of the tournament up until to at point. It was the battle of the blinds... DrChako opened to 2.4K. On_thg made it 7.2K. DrChako bumped it up to 21.6K which essentially put on_thg all in... and on_thg called.
DrChako: Ac-Ad-4d-4h
on_thg: Qd-10s-9s-8d
The board ran out... Ah-6s-3h-9c-10c... and DrChako won the 31K pot wit a set of Aces while on_thg was busted in 4th place.

Once it got three-handed, the action went fast. Cliff took the lead when he flopped a set of Queens against DrChako. Then MinDaddy was eliminated in third place setting up a showdown between an Iraq War veteran in DrChako and Solanthos (otherwise known as Cliff Fisher, one of Michalski's boys from Dallas).

The heads-up showdown lasted just one hand. Cliff had almost 2-1 lead on Chako, but that did not matter. DrChako opened to 2.4K from the small blind and Cliff called. The flop was Ks-5c-4s. Cliff fired out 3.2K. DrChako raised to 14.4K. Cliff shoved for 44.1K and he had DrChako covered. DrChako called.
Solanthos: Kd-Qd-8s-3s
DrChako: Kc-9s-7d-6c
Both players flopped top pair, but DrChako picked up an OESD. The turn was the 4h and the river was the 5h. Cliff faded the straight draw and won the pot with Kings up and a better kicker. And in one hand... it was all over. DrChako bowed out in second place, while Cliff won Saturdays with Dr. Pauly.

Cliff going deep in the WSOP Donkulus where he finished 285th out of 6,012
The Money Winners:
1st: Solanthos (Cliff) - $144.00
2nd: DrChako - $96.00
3rd: MinDaddy - $57.60
4th: on_thg - $48.00
5th: BIGSWEDE_2 - $38.40
6th: zagga - $31.20
7th: markoflnk - $26.40
8th: MeanGene - $21.60
9th: Hatchet826 - $16.80
Thanks to everyone who played and pimped the event. I had so much fun, that I'll try to sneak in at least one more of these sometime this year. Stay tuned.

* * * * *

If you're an avid reader of Tao of Poker, you might know Cliff as one of the pros who I signed up to TAO Management. Yes, I'm Cliff's sleazy agent, but I assure you that there were no shenanigans in this tournament. It was a sheer coincidence that I happen to rep him and he went on to win it all.

FYI... I'll be sending out a press release shortly pimping my clients deft PLO skills. Here's a sampling from Tao of Pauly Media...
Fisher Beats Iraq War Veteran for PLO Victory Worth Over 2,500,000**

Cliff Fisher outlasted an international field of players to win one of the most prestigious online poker tournaments. Fisher's victory in Saturdays with Dr. Pauly on PokerStars was an astonishing feat considering that it was his first ever Pot-Limit Omaha tournament.

The Dallas, TX native survived several difficult tables which included Ricky Bobby (Atlantic City cash game legend) and an anonymous pro from Australia (rumored to be Tony G playing incognito). It took only one hand for Fisher to knock out DrChako, a popular internet figure most known for his patriotic service during a tour in Iraq.

"Even though this was my first PLO tournament, it was an easy game in my humble opinion," said Fisher in his interview with the Huffington Report. "I've played PLO cash games but I mainly learned Omaha playing hi/lo limit in an illegal game in the back of a strip club in Fort Worth. It feels great to take it down. It's a confidence booster. Dreams can come true. I can't credit the team at TAO management enough. They're the reason why I won today."

"We couldn't be more excited," said Paul McGuire, Fisher's agent and President of TAO Player Management Services. "This victory should get him sponsorship to the upcoming PokerStars Arctic/Antarctica Tour. Get used to hearing about Cliff Fisher. He's already a huge star in Belgium and it's a matter of time before everyone knows about him on all seven continents."

**currency units are in Vietnam Dong

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

Friday, July 24, 2009

Top Referrals During the WSOP

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Here's where I thank the folks who sent traffic to the Tao of Poker over the last two months during the WSOP festivities. Your links were more than appreciated!
Tao of Poker's Top 15 Referrals:
1. Poker Road
2. LasVegasVegas
3. Wicked Chops Poker
4. Benjo
5. Twitter
6. Pokerati
7. Conservative Grapevine
8. Tao of Pauly
9. Shaniac
10. Iggy
11. Busted Coverage
12. Coventry Music
13. The Big Lead
15. Wil Wheaton
Thanks also to everyone else who sent eyeballs here during the WSOP. Good karma is coming your way.

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

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Poker Beat

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I'll be one of the guests on The Poker Beat co-hosted by Scott Huff and John Caldwell. The Poker Beat is Poker Road's radio/podcast version of the sports reporters.

You can listen in here. We sound off about National Poker Week, Tiffany Michelle & Maria Ho on The Amazing Race, and the November Nine.

The last time I sat in with the gang at the Poker Beat was just before the Main Event started. We taped that edition in the hallways of the Rio. You can listen to that episode here.

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

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Story of the Ghost

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I stayed up very late in Las Vegas as night blended into day and wrote many things that never made the cut on the Tao of Poker, Tao of Pauly, or some of the other places I write. Sometimes they were rambling thoughts that were too long for twitter.

Here are some of those orphaned lines and thoughts in no particular order that faded in and out of my head during the WSOP as I stared out the window of the Gold Coast and glanced over the Las Vegas Strip and the sprawl in the Valley...

* * * * *

There's the beginning and an end. The alpha and the omega. The city sprung up and slowly crawled out to the base of the mountains that surrounded it below. The original blueprint did not resemble the current Google map of the city and suburbs of Las Vegas. Paved over desert with imported water that slowly drying up. Unless it starts raining regularly in Las Vegas, where will they get all the water?

The security guard rushes in to save those who cannot be saved... the poor drunks shriveled up in piss-stained bathroom stalls and the fools slumped over at the end of the bar, their clammy hands clutching onto their souvenir drink cups.

Young girls in black cocktail dresses and high heels glide across the casino floor with heavy rocks on the lanky fingers. Old ladies spitting sunflower seeds as the wheels spin and spin.

Grieving wives walking out of the little white chapels and holding back tears during their shotgun weddings. They know it's the beginning of an era and the end of the rest of their lives as they know it.

Players busted out WSOP events and tip toe through the maze of slot machines and ignore the cries of crushed puppies and other ambient casino sounds like the soused woman shrieking at a blackjack table and the shitfaced frat boy falling down after seven too many Jager Bombs.

Too many games to count as the numbers flashed back and forth. The action was non-stop. Exactas. Parlays. Overs. Humans. Horses. European soccer players. They all are a part of the see-saw action at the sports book, where WWII vets clamped down on cigars so cheap that I wouldn't even split open to roll a blunt.

There's no difference in the age of the octogenarian at the slots and the 20-something online poker prodigy. Their veins burst with excitement just the same. Dragging a monsterpotten or snagging a big score at the penny slots. A win is a win. And the rush? An avalanche of endorphins.

I'm surrounded by people with undesirable qualities, such as the weak ones succumbing to the paralyzing fear of being ordinary. Glasses clinking from the party people, annoying pep talks from life coaches, and angelic movements of adorable Facebook friends replaced by limping working girls. They all haunt me in my waking dreams.

Misunderstood souls wandering down the hallways of the convention center and grimacing. Some where tying to chase down a dream, others were fulfilling their destiny, and still others were running away from their realities.

The wicked dreams of the slot addicts keep their fingers punching away at the machines that gobble up their money. They feed green pieces of paper, their last $33, into the slits hoping to win back 23% of their losses. Sometimes, they play long enough to get a free drink, a free buffet, a free room, maybe even a free show that they have no desire of seeing in the first place.

The unclosed eyes of the zombies destroying little pieces of themselves in the pits. They were the invisible causalities that you chose not to see. The halos from angels has withered in the heat. They have to dart in and out of pedestrian traffic on the Strip trying to scrape the fallen ones off the scorching pavement. The angels assigned to Nevada are the most lonely ones in the universe. Some of them wander into the Rhino and sit in the VIP section for hours on end hoping to have the grittiness of the day wear off with an intense session of grinding from Romanian girls.

A lot of people starve in this world and live in disease-infested conditions. But to starve to feed a curable habit is unbearable. Sometimes I want to play a song by Sly and the Family Stone for them and let them know that they have a chance to pull themselves out of the melancholy. The pursuit of greed and wealth has made many a man and woman screwballs and walking cliches. Shit stains on their shoes. Red wine stains on the shirts.

The once beautiful skylight was purposely blocked out by the architects, who keep you trapped inside a box where it's impossible to escape. Time passes by unceremoniously with the only time stamp of importance? The 24 hour period in between maximum withdrawals at the ATM machines.

Thou shall not covet thy neighbor's oxen. Thou shall not bang a $350/hour working girl. Responsibilities fly out the window of a car speeding down the Strip, and the yellowing of the virgin white pristine souls and sing bittersweet scat like a strung out Billie Holiday preaching to the somber drunks in the audience.

"Overdoses are suicides," debated two off duty cops comparing their daily bad beat stories. Every day, another person kills themselves in Sin City, and another life is conceived after a night of feral sexual intercourse.

One of the last true gamblers freed themselves from every day burdens and they carve out their own path. They take chances and assess risk. What normal society frowns upon gets celebrated in a city of sinners, where even the most religious of folks sip of bottom shelf whiskey to warm up your insides.

Tired bartenders topping off beers for half-way house rejects longing for the unconditional love of a foster mother. There are thousands of bottles of booze, yet my cup remains empty. Some day, I will unscrew the top and pour out a couple of shots in succession to celebrate all of my friends who had their life forces decimated by this town.

Every few seconds, another tourist loses the key to their hotel room. The green light flickers red and they have to shuffle back downstairs to the antiseptic lobby with the late arrivals with stuffed luggage with squeaky wheels.

"This place used to be wonderful," said the bald cabbie in thick Brooklyn accent. "It is from the outside, but on the inside it's disgusting and dingy and full of addicts."

The image of the little girl in the elevator holding a teddy bear as she hugged her father's leg bothered me. I have no idea why they would subject their children to the plight. Just two doors down, the muffled screams of a whiskey tango chick getting tagged team by two drunken sailors kept everyone awake on the hall while the aroma of burnt smoke wafted by. Someone threw a lit cigarette into the trash and the dense and smoky smell masked the faint aromatic flavors of marijuana toked by a gaggle of online poker players multi-tabling in the darkness of their hotel rooms, with days old room service trays scattered about with had eaten pieces of wheat toast, lightly buttered and heavily burned.

The dice dances on the felt like a nimble ballerina leaping through the air, only to fall onto the side of desperation. Superstitious gamblers with disappointment in their eyes light candles pray to false gods in hopes that their bad run will cease. Start playing those lucky numbers you see inside fortune cookies.

Tender conversations with strangers while sitting on a bar stool, miserable and weakened by the impossible to beat video slots, dreaming about white sandy beaches in Mexico. Las Vegas is no place to go to get away from it all. It's the belly of the beast.

After years and years living without any semblance of passion, the ambivalent locals were always thinking about leaving all the time, but unable to pull the trigger. They were trapped in quicksand while their entire lives were being pulled into the void.

"The only way to get clean is to sweat it out," mused an old humble junkie who spoke to a group of a dozen chain-smokers inside the basement of a church. The mainstream media loves to paint a picture of glitzy Vegas, but they should include audio excerpts of testimonials at different AA, NA, and GA meetings. The masses seem to forget about the evil that lurks in the shadows, that disappear when the sun rises over the mountains. What happens in Vegas gets discussed in AA meetings.

This is the city of endless days when it's always day and the night never ends, the seasons all change inside of one continuous day. The ghosts wander the hallways in hopes of running into the most desperate of people, because they will actually talk to them. I saw one. I saw many. But they never answered my questions about human frailty.

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

Monday, July 20, 2009

Existentialist Conversations with Strippers: Sunshine, Jesus Freaks, and the Afternoon Shift

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

"This work is an attempt to understand the time I live in." - Albert Camus
Bad Blood flew into Las Vegas for a little post-WSOP hang time. After five summers, he's the only one of my friends who figured out that poker media types have zero to little time to socialize during the WSOP. He strategically picked the days after the completion of WSOP to get sloppy as we embarked on some of the best misadventures that I had in a very long time.

Bad Blood and I go back, way back to the warm and fuzzy Party Poker days shortly after Moneymaker's epic win in 2003. We used to play several times a week together and developed a bond that has lasted over a half of a decade. Bad Blood was the one who introduced me to the Procedure; a three-pronged evening that entails drinking, strip clubs, and poker.

I've been fortunate to have taken part in more than one Bad Blood-captained sojourns to strip clubs in both Las Vegas and his hometown of G-Vegas. In fact, just a month earlier during my time away from the WSOP, both Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot and I had the pleasure of tagging along with Bad Blood to one of the local South Carolina gentleman's clubs. Talk about the other side of the tracks. The best looking dancer in G-Vegas could possibly hump the day shift at the Rhino if she could somehow kick her meth habit and drag her three kids across country with her.

The afternoon shift at the Rhino features the bottle of the barrel for Rhino girls, however, when compared to the rest of the stripping gene pool, they are still the tip of the sword. Most of the girls who end up on the afternoon shift at the Rhino are usually damaged goods in some form or another. It's a place for newbies to the pole who are desperate for cash, 40+ year old strippers a few years past their heyday, and single moms with multiple children who couldn't find decent day care. Where as some work places in Europe have day care centers on site for their employees, the Rhino doesn't exactly have a swing set out back. There's a Romper Room in the darkest corner, but the activities in that place should not be viewed by anyone under 21. Let's just say, that the Rhino does not actively promote "Take your daughter to work day" unless she happens to be a 18 year old former gymnast that knows how to shake her booty to Flo Rida's latest album.

Bad Blood arranged free passage from the cab driver since they get kick backs to funnel horny walking ATMs to various clubs around Sin City. The Rhino looked different during the day as you approached it. It was 110+ degrees and the mid-afternoon scorching sun gave everything outside a white glow. Even with shades on, your eyes were bombarded with the glare. It took several moments to adjust to the darkness inside the Rhino. Murky figures moved quickly in the shadows, sort of like the Vietcong ready to spring an ambush on a batch of fresh grunts in the jungle.

In the past, I made a beeline to the bar since it was the only lit area in the place. I was able to inspect the goods better that way. That time, however, we sat down at a table near the stage. Bad Blood turned down the first young girl in a plaid skirt who saddled up to him. He did not resist the second wave... a 6 foot tall Nordic beauty with breasts the side of medicine balls... sat down next to him.

Someone snuck up from behind and put her hands over my eyes.

"Guess who?" she said in in twang.

It sounded Southern maybe even East Texas. I didn't know who it was. She was just a random bleach-dyed blonde stripper with collagen injected lips who decided to pounce on me. It was her lucky day. My girlfriend approved of the trip to the Rhino and I had a wad of bills in my pocket after a score in the Dream Team Poker event.

"I'm Sunshine. Can I sit down?" she asked.

I nodded and a waitress wandered over. I had a two drink tickets and offered to buy Sunshine a cocktail.

"Sorry honey, I don't drink," she said as she leaned in to whisper, "I'll have an ice water. Get a double and ask for a water back. That way they won't charge you for the water."

I nodded and repeated her suggestion to the waitress. By that point, Bad Blood's bald head had disappeared into the bosoms of his girl.

"Where are y'all from?" asked Sunshine.

"I'm from South Carolina," said Bad Blood. "And he's from... where you calling home these days?"

"L.A.," I answered. "These days it's L.A."

"How do you know each other?" asked Sunshine.

"We went to school together," said Bad Blood.

"Yeah, we played hockey at Cornell together."

Bad Blood's girl stroked his head and Sunshine hopped on my lap.

"So you're hockey players?"

"Not anymore. That was like 15 years ago in a galaxy far far away."

"What do y'all do now?"

"He designs hot air balloons. He used to be a pilot but now he's a designer. Me? I'm a writer."

"In Hollywood? For who?"

"I'd rather not say."

"That's so cool. I knew there was something special about you. We're very similar. I'm a creative person too. I wrote, directed, and acted in my own film last year."

For the next five minutes, Sunshine revealed the intricate details of her film... a low-rent inter-galactic gangbang flick with sci-fi undertones.

"I even did my own stunts and we have special effects! In the final scene I fuck this alien with two cocks."

"Are you influenced by Philip K. Dick?" I asked wondering if she was also a fan of my favorite sci-fi writer.

"Bill Dick? Is he the black guy with the 14-inch cock who gives all those girls facials in Cumfiesta?"

Philip K. Dick. Bill Dick. Same guy.

An aging porn actress latched herself onto me. Luckily she seemed more interested in discussing the arts instead of trying to hustle me for lapdances in the VIP room.

Some of the entertainers perform under a persona and role play during their shift. You never learn anything about them since they're supposed to be globs of clay and become whatever erotic fantasy that you wish. Others just change their name and have no qualms telling you their daily bad beats and tragic "how I ended up on the pole" stories. Within three minutes Sunshine gave me the run down on the last three decades. She grew up in Texas near the Louisiana border. She got pregnant in high school and had a back alley abortion that got botched. So she could no longer have kids. She lived in New Orleans for a spell and married a Cuban coke dealer who went to jail for killing an undercover narc. She was afraid that the thugs who he worked for were going to come after her, so she fled for El Paso, then worked in Las Vegas for a spell before she ended up in Chatsworth, CA. If you know that little enclave in the Valley, then you know it's the porn capitol of the world.

Sunshine was one of the thousands of workers who fell into the booming sex industry in the 1980s. VCRs made it possible for any pervert to wank off to pornographic material without leaving their own homes. Dingy and sticky porno theatres became a thing of the past. At the time, she was a raging sex addict and cocaine addict. The porn industry catered to both of her needs. One year turned into a decade. Her 20s were a daze. All of a sudden, she woke up one day and it was 1999 and she was strung out, completely broke, and accumulated thousands of dollars in medical bills for a lacerated rectum after a tragic dildo incident.

She spent the last decade in and around Vegas. For a while, she hustled whales at the Mirage as a high end escort but that didn't work out after she got thrown over a couch by her pimp and broke seven ribs. While she healed, she worked in a call center specializing in bondage fantasies. She did everything possible to extract the credit card numbers and other personal info from her sex-deprived callers. One of her bosses used that info for an international identity theft ring. She got arrested but her boss fled town. After a short stint in jail, she was released and ended up on the pole to pay her legal fees.

In the last few years, she used the money at the Rhino to fund her own porn films. She told me her website name and made me say it out loud five times so I would not forget. Since she loved sci-fi stuff she wanted to incorporate those themes into her orgies on film.

"That's a remarkable way to target multiple audiences," I said. "Plus sci-fi geeks usually can't get laid so they'll be the ones buying this porn in bulk."

She offered up a lap dance first before we headed into the VIP room.

"I want you to test drive the car before you buy it," she said as she stood up and pulled me into the corner.

Before she danced, she asked if she could give me a psychic reading. She closed her eyes and put her hand on my chest above my heart. She said that she then asked the universe for a sign. Images pop up in her head and that's her psychic vision.

"I'm envisioning your father. He's not a creative person like you. He wore a gray uniform. I'm seeing a large bus. Was he a bus mechanic? I have this vision of a man in gray fixing a bus."

I told her she was wrong. However, she was almost correct and onto something. My old man was a suit who humped a desk job for an insurance company in midtown Manhattan. He wore a gray suit every day and took the subway to work. Either Sunshine was somewhat psychic, or full of shit and got lucky.

I arranged a very good deal for the VIP room at a discount. I even greased the bouncer to make sure we got a few extra songs. Bad Blood was in one of the dark corners while I sat in the other. Sunshine revealed her average sized breasts under a bluish light. She was in her mid-40s but her body was well maintained and had curves like a 30 year old.

"You used to have implants?" I blurted out.

"How did you know?"

I rubbed the scar underneath one of her breasts.

"I'll probably get them again in ten years when they really start to sag. For now, all of my money for cosmetic surgery goes to my face."

She pointed to her lips, eyes, and forehead.

Over the next few minutes, she gave me a sampling of her raunchy phone sex lines. She also revealed that she hasn't done coke since 9/11. She's been sober from booze for thirty months and that she attended Sexaholics Anonymous meetings twice a week and had not had sex since Christmas 2007. She admitted that she blew a guy on July 4th of last year, but that was because he offered her $5,000 for her a suck and a swallow. She was late on her rent and the AC on her car broke. Everyone has a price. Even those who are recovering addicts trying to live life on the straight and narrow.

She abruptly changed the subject and spoke about her recent relationship with Jesus that had been intensifying. She mentioned how she tries to channel all of her sexual frustration towards the heavens. She has been getting into a couple of Christian rock bands and often masturbates to the Kronicles. At that point, I had to cut her off. I didn't like the path she was leading me down. I was either trying to convert me or about to tell me some freaky shit involving a crucifix that I really did not want to think about. After all, I was on vacation and all I wanted was to have her rub her titties in my face while she told me some great stories about her daily encounters of life as a sex industry worker. Jerking off to Jesus was not one of the topics listed on the Rhino's afternoon symposium.

Before I left the VIP room, she asked to give me another psychic reading. She put her hand on my chest and close her eyes. She quickly opened them and said, "I had this vision that you gave me a $100 tip."

Talk about a sneaky hustle. I shrugged my shoulders and started to walk out when she grabbed my arm.

"I know you got it. I felt that bulge in your pocket."

"I'll tell you what. Why don't we play a game. You close your eyes and count to twenty. That will give me enough time to pull out my ca..."

Before I could finish, she put her hands over her eyes and started counting loudly.

By the time she got to seven, I snuck out of the VIP room.

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

Sunday, July 19, 2009

2009 WSOP and Numbers

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Here are a few things I kept track of during the 2009 WSOP...
Days Missed: 20
Phish Shows I Caught: 12
Episodes of the Poker Beat I recorded at the Poker Road Booth: 1
Total Lime Tossing Losses: -80
Times LJ Asked to Watch Lime Tossing: 47
Number of People Who Saw Lime Tossing: 2
Number of Emails I Got in Praise of 'What Does Benjo Think?': 82
Time Benjo said, "420 Bob" in the Pressbox: 420
Times Change100 Threaten to Kill a Flamer in the Chatbox on PokerNews: 11
Times AlCantHang Was Rolled By A Stripper: 1
The Devil Sightings: 7
Times Otis Tiled by Seeing The Devil: 4.5
Times I Saw Tela the Hooker: 1
Times I Asked My Colleagues for a Confirmation on How to Spell... KOALA: 2
Members of the Brazilian Media Who Think I Speak Portuguese: 2
Portuguese Photographers Who I Tilted During the Media Event: 1
Episodes of Tao of Pokerati That Were Not Published: 214
Times Oliver Tse Followed Me into the Bathroom: 1
Members of the Media Stricken by the Donkey Flu: 43
High Score in Beer Bowling at Gold Coast: 172

3x3 at In-N-Out Burger Consumed: 12
Bags of Steak Nuggets I Consumed: 2.5
Kangaroo Burgers from the Poker Kitchen I Consumed: 0
Pizza Hut Pizzas Consumed: 3
Times I Went to McFaddens (formerly the Tilted Kilt): 0
Kit Kats That MeanGene Snuck Out of the UB Suite for Me: 6

Brits Who Loved the Queen, But Hate Jeffrey Pollack: 12
Brits Who Hate the Queen and Love Jeffrey Pollack: 137
Number of Times Jeffrey Pollack Was Spotted in Jeans by Change100: 3
Times I Got in Trouble With Harrahs: 1
Food Comps I Got from Harrahs: 7

Times Charles Barkley Walked By Me: 1
The Average Age of Girls Who Devilfish Would Be Walking Around With: 20 years and 8 months
Total Events My Former NYC Pot Dealer Played In: 2
Steve Chidwick Sweating Maridu at a TV Table Sightings: 1
Annette15 Sightings: 3
Hugs from Liz Lieu: 2
Times I Pissed Next to Arnaud Mattern: 2
Times I Saw Either Ray Davis or Paul Darden in the Back Hallway Asking Phil Ivey for a Stake: 3
Times AngryJulie Screamed When DonkeyBomber Won a Pot: 63
Times Tom McEvoy Walked Around Sleeveless: 1 too many
Times a House Full of Foreign Poker Players Were Robbed by Hookers: 2.5
Times Lou Diamond Philips Asked to Use My Lighter: 1
Times I Saw Vinny Vinh Smoking in front of the Poker Kitchen: 1

Finish in Media Event: 3
Finish in Dream Team Poker's WSOP event: 13
Times I Went to the WSOP Cage: 2
Money I Loaned During the WSOP: $4,500
Players I Had Action On in the Main Event: 1
Dealers Hauled Off in Handcuffs at 3am: 1
Drunks Hauled Off in Handcuffs During the Main Event: 1
Stripclubs I Attended During the WSOP: 1
Stripclubs I Attended Within 16 Hours of the WSOP Ending: 1

Number of People Who Followed @taopauly On Twitter: 2,345
Number of People Who Unfollowed @taopauly on Twitter: 2,269

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

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Germans, Goths Chicks, and Mai Tais

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

I went to the Venetian to tilt-a-local. It's a post-WSOP tradition where I hit up the tables and do everything possible to throw a local player off kilter through a series of maniacal moves and plays. After a lengthy assignment, I'm always seeking out a little fun at the tables. And nothing gives me more pleasure than getting people to piss away their stack to me.

The gang was embroiled in a juicy 4/8 Omaha 8 with a half-kill. I'm a PLO-high junkie but limit 08 is not my cup of tea, despite the fact that AlCantHang, Poker Shrink, Otis, Change100, and Bad Blood were at the table. Heck, there was even a cameo from Amy Calistri early on.

I signed up for a 1-2 NL game and eyed the 2-5 tables. Since there were a bunch on the list, a new table was opened for us. I love it when a poker room starts a new table because everyone is evenly stacked (for the most part) and no one has a solid read on everyone else yet. I tend to process information in a shorter time period than the average poker playing tourist so I always feel like I can exploit that edge in the small window that it presented itself. Before we even played a hand, I had more than half the table pegged. Before the first orbit ended, I had already made a move on one player.
The Table:
Seat 1: Middle-aged convention guy
Seat 2: L.A. Douchebag #1
Seat 3: Matt Stout-look-alike
Seat 4: L.A. Douchebag #2
Seat 5: South American tourist
Seat 6: Crazy Asian 20-something (girlfriend of L.A. Douchebag)
Seat 7: Your Hero
Seat 8: German female 20-something tourist
Seat 9: Hipster with girlfriend sitting behind him
Seat 10: Innocuous young tourist
The hipster insisted on straddling. Both L.A. Douchebags raised the pot to $20 preflop. They didn't know each other, but one of said douches had his girlfriend at the table. She was a calling station so most of the time, there was $60 in the pot before action got to me.

There was one hand where everyone limped (the straddle bet) and I bumped it up with Qc-Jc. Three players called. The flop was Ax-Qx-3c. Action checked to me and I bet 2/3 the pot. The hipster called. The turn was the 10c. I slid out a stack of red birds. He tanked for three minutes while he executed every single chip trick possible before he flashed A-J to me and folded.

I didn't show but when he asked me if I had Big Slick, I nodded.

"I knew it!" he said as he turned around to tell his girlfriend about the "sick laydown" he just made. I smirked while I stacked up his chips.

One orbit later... I was the button. Hipster was the big blind. The guy in Seat 10 straddled. UTG called. L.A. Douchebag #1 re-raised to the standard $20. Matt Stout's doppelganger flat called. L.A. Douchebag #2 called along with his girlfriend. I found A-K on the button and almost jammed but just called. The German girl to my left re-raised to $121 from her small blind. Everyone got out of her way except the L.A. Douchebag #2 who tanked for a few minutes. I used the extra time wisely and tried to get a physical read on the German.

Like most Europeans, she gave off very little info. She barely spoke aside from an incident when she initially sat down and the cocktail waitress harassed her about not having an ID. The German girl looked young, maybe in her early 20s, but without an ID she was not going to get served. All she wanted was a Mojito and could not understand why she was getting carded after playing there every day for over a week. The waitress left without serving her and a few minutes later, a bulky thick-necked security guard tapped her on the shoulder. He said something about needing to see her ID and how it's against the law to be inside a Nevada casino without a picture ID. She gave him her players card but he demanded that she go up to her room to grab her ID. She wasn't happy but complied.

At that point (this is still a flashback), I thought she was Russian by her thick accent. We didn't find out that she was German yet. She had light brown eye brows but her hair was dyed black. I started to wonder if she was on the lam and part of a criminal team of operatives from the Russian mafia. I expected her to not return. I was a bit surprised when she returned with her German passport and showed it to the security. He gave her the thumbs up and the cocktail server took her order. All she wanted was a Mojito.

"I'm sorry sweetie," said the server. "We're out of mint."

"I'll have a Mai Tai," said the German.

I said a few works in German and she perked up. Aside from the initial greeting, she retreated into her shell. She looked like Isabelle Mercier's goth cousin from Munich with black fingernails and black hair and black eye liner. The only thing missing were the fresh scars of cut flesh. Then again, I never asked to see her wrists.

Back to the hand... the German girl was already having a rough day before she got in the hand. There was about $120+ in the pot and she raised to $121. The L.A. Douchebag #2 folded along with his girlfriend, so it was back to me. My initial thought was that she jammed with A-K because that's what I should have done with my hand. I really couldn't get a read on her but there was so much dead money in the pot. She had around $50-60 behind, so I knew that I'd be calling off $160 more of my stack. Even if I called, we'd get it all in on the flop... even if I missed. It was shove or fold. If I wasn't running so hot at the tables, I probably would have folded. I was in a gambling mood. At worst, I was a coin flip against a middle pair and up to Queens. At best, I caught her with A-Q or below. I never considered that she would have K-K or A-A.

I called for time and pulled a quarter out of my pocket. I said, "If it's heads, I'll call."

I flipped it up and the L.A. Douchebags thought it was the funniest thing they ever saw. It landed on the back of my clenched hand. I covered it up and then peeked at the my favorite hemp-growing former President's head... George Washington.

"I'm all in," I said.

"Call," she said quickly and tabled... K-K.

"Oh, shit. Fuck me," I said.

I counted out $180 or so and was ready to ship it to her as the dealer fanned out the flop. All low cards and a rainbow. The turn was another blank. I stood up and then the dealer burned and dropped the river card. He flipped it over and the table exploded when the Ace of spades spiked.

She unleashed a short burst of obscenities in German. Change100 heard the commotion and rushed over from the other side of the room as the L.A. Douchebags quickly discussed about how sick of a beat that was.

Yeah, I three-outered a German goth chick. And she wasn't happy.

She said something about losing a $500 pot on a two-outer the night before. When you run bad... the world is against you. When you run good, the world is a magical place full of unicorns and rainbows and spiking your Ace on he river to stack a European tourist.

I got a ton of action after that and won a few more pots while the German goth girl pounded Mai Tais. She was trying to drink off her tilt which is never a good thing. It just leads to more gloom and doom.

The game started to lose players and we were five-handed at one point with me, the German goth chick, and L.A. Douchebag #1. That's when I stacked her again. L.A. Douchebag opened. I popped him and she smooth-called from the button. I had A-K and the flop was K-x-x. I checked to the German and she bet half the pot. I called. The turn was another blank. No straights. No flushes. I checked. She shoved and I called. She didn't turn over her hand and I assumed she had some sort of King with a crappy kicker or a middle pair. My hand held up and she got stacked a second time. More German swear words came out of her mouth.

She stood up and bolted out of the poker room, but I was worried that she might return with a sharp object and shank me while I walked to the cage cashing out a few racks of redbirds.

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

Thursday, July 16, 2009

WSOP Day 49 - Main Event Day 8: Phil Ivey Advances to November Nine

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Phil Ivey? Yes, Phil Ivey. Meet the newest and most popular member of the next November Nine. He needs no introduction.

Maybe there should be a re-vote for the WSOP Player of the Year? Sure Jeff Lisandro won three bracelets, but Ivey won two and faded a field of 6,494 to advance to the November Nine.

I've witnessed many feats in the last five years, but nothing matched the enthusiasm and excitement and orgasmic buzz that nearly lifted the Amazon Ballroom off the ground when Phil Ivey made it to the final ten players.

I said this on Twitter... "Ivey is like the friggin' Beatles."

The final table area was jam packed. Fans. Suits. Media. Citizen paparazzi. ESPN crew. Security guards. Tournament staff. Every single inch of space was taken up in and around the featured TV table set. I had never seen it that claustrophobic before as a mob descended upon the center of the poker universe.

The one open spot on the rail included drooling fans who stood ten deep on the rail attempting to catch a glimpse of the one and only Phil Ivey. The area above the TV table in the beef jerky lounge was so densely packed that the floor shook a bit as I squeezed by the cluster of bodies. I was worried that the makeshift lounge was overcapacity and on the verge of collapsing so I stepped back a bit. It reminded me of the eerie calm moments before a wooden grandstand buckled a Guatemalan soccer game and thousands of fans were stampeded.

Tournament poker is rather boring as a spectator sport, but Phil Ivey made every second enthralling. It was sort of like watching Michael Jordan glide down the court take off from the foul line and throw down a dunk. Ivey is Jordan, Einstein, Picasso, and Mozart all rolled into a one professional gambler.

Every single poker fan rushed to the final table from all over the convention area. The few people in offices and the hallways scattered and dashed to the TV table. Entire parts of the casino emptied out, including the Hooker Bar. Even the harlots were intrigued when whispers that Ivey advanced to the final ten. Players spilled out of the poker room,and ven the guys sweeping the floors ran down to the Amazon Ballroom with their brooms and dustpans in tow. Players playing online poker in their hotel rooms quickly left in the middle of twenty-tabling and made a bee-line downstairs. Locals jumped in their cars and sped to the Rio.

Phil Ivey was on the cusp of the final table with history about to be made and no-one wanted to miss it.

However, that frenetic energy was short-lived when Jordan Smith bubbled off the final table when his Aces were snapped off by Darvin Moon's set of eights. And in the blink of the eye, the final ten transformed into the November Nine.
2009 November Nine:
Seat 1: Darvin Moon - 58,930,000
Seat 2: James Akenhead - 6,800,000
Seat 3: Phil Ivey - 9,765,000
Seat 4: Kevin Schaffel - 12,390,000
Seat 5: Steven Begleiter - 29,885,000
Seat 6: Eric Buchman - 34,800,000
Seat 7: Joe Cada - 13,215,000
Seat 8: Antoine Saout - 9,500,000
Seat 9: Jeff Shulman - 19,580,000
Darvin Moon will retain the chiplead for the next few months until the players return to the Rio in November to play out the final table.

The WSOP as we know it is finally complete... for now. See you in November.

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

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

2009 WSOP Live Blog - Main Event Day 8

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

And here we are. The moment you have all been waiting for. The final 27. The fate of the 2009 November Nine is on the line.
Main Event Stats:
Players Remaining: 27
Avg. Stack: 7,215,556
Chip Leader: Darvin Moon
Number of Entries: 6,494
Prize Pool: $61,043,600
Places Paid: 648
1st Place Prize: $8,546,435

Today's Payouts:
10-12th - $896,730
13-15th - $633,022
16-18th - $500,557
19-27th - $352,832

Today's Seating Assignments:
Table 1
Seat 1: Jesse Haabak - 2,750,000
Seat 2: Ian Tavelli - 4,385,000
Seat 3: James Calderaro - 6,475,000
Seat 4: Jonathan Tamayo - 3,300,000
Seat 5: Warren Zackey - 5,485,000
Seat 6: Eric Buchman - 10,005,000
Seat 7: Leo Margets - 1,530,000
Seat 8: Tommy Vedes - 5,070,000
Seat 9: James Akenhead - 8,615,000

Table 2 - Featured TV Table
Seat 1: Phil Ivey - 11,350,000
Seat 2: Happy Shulman - 10,170,000
Seat 3: George Caragiorgas - 1,615,000
Seat 4: Nick Maimone - 1,545,000
Seat 5: Andrew 'LuckyChewy' Lichtenberger - 5,625,000
Seat 6: Marco Mattes - 5,285,000
Seat 7: Joseph Cada - 6,565,000
Seat 8: Darvin Moon - 20,160,000
Seat 9: Jordan Smith - 4,510,000

Table 3 - Secondary Table
Seat 1: Jamie Robbins - 9,795,000
Seat 2: Antonio Esfandiari - 4,470,000
Seat 3: Francois Balmigere - 1,440,000
Seat 4: Ludovic Lacay - 5,610,000
Seat 5: Steven Begleiter - 11,885,000
Seat 6: Ben Lamb - 9,410,000
Seat 7: Antoine Saout - 11,135,000
Seat 8: Kevin Schaffel - 11,245,000
Seat 9: Billy Kopp - 15,970,000
18 of the above players will go home and never seen again. Nine of them will return to Las Vegas in November to play out the final table. Stay tuned to find out who.

Cards went in the air at 12:02pm. There is 7:17 left on the clock in this level... Blinds are 50K/100K with a 10K ante.

* * * * *

12:20pm... Leo Margets Busto

Photo courtesy of WickedChopsPoker

The last female standing... the lovely Leo Mergets from Barcelona, Spain was the first player to hit the rail today when her A-7 ran into Warren Zackey A-10. She finished in 27th place and collected $352,832. Down to 26 in a very quiet Amazon Ballroom. The hallways are even quieter.
Media Pool - Pauly's Picks: Darvin Moon, Ludovic Lacay, Tommy Vedes, Ben Lamb, Jeff Duvall, Leo Margets, Marco Mattes, Eugene Katchalov, Lucky Chewey
* * * *

12:59pm... Down to 24; Jesse Habbak and Francois Balmigere = Busto

Jesse Haabak is no longer with us after Warren Zackey busted him. Francois Balmigere also hit the rail which leaves two Frenchman remaining. He was taken out by Billy Kopp who rivered a straight against Francois' Jacks.

Darvin Moon ran into LuckyChewy's luckbox abilities when he snapped off Aces with... J-9 sooooted. Chewy flopped two nines.

Former G-Vegas underground player, Nick Maimone shoved with a short stack and doubled through Phil Ivey's pocket Jacks. The young gun from the Carolinas is still alive.

* * * **

2:02pm... French on French Hate; Ivey Hates Jacks; Antonio Esfandiari = Busto

Chip Leaders: Billy Kopp and Darvin Moon
Recent Eliminations: Antonio Esfandiari
Players Remaining: 23
Shorties: George Caragiorgas

Two Frenchies, One pot. Antoine Saout took a pot for Ludovic Lacay when he rivered an Ace against Lacay's pocket tens. Ludovic Lacay slipped to 3M.

Nick Maimone caught some more luck when he doubled through Jordan Smith. His 7-7 kicked 10-10 in the junk when a seven fell on the turn. The kid from Carolina doubled up twice today and his fans up in the Beef Jerky Lounge went batshit.

Phil Ivey took a hit when he doubled up Marco Mattes short stack. Marco's Queens held against Ivey's Jacks. He lost twice today with Jacks against short stacks. Maimone bested his Jacks earlier in the day.

Antonio Esfandiari just hit the rail when he ran into Steven Begleiter. One of his female railbirds nearly had an orgasm when he won the hand. The only other big named pro not named Phil Ivey is out. No mas, Antonio.

* * * * *

3:02pm... Down to 21; Germany and South Africa = Busto

Chip Leaders: Billy Kopp, Darvin Moon, Steven Begleiter
Recent Eliminations: Warren Zackey and Marco Mattes
Players Remaining: 21

Marco Mattes from Germany hit the road when his fives ran into eights. He can now return to being a backup singer in a Menudo cover band.

The South African Warren Zackey held the top spot as the chipleader at a couple of points during the tournament. He could not hold on and fizzled out in 22nd.

Wow, both players hit the rail after the break. Maybe they should take a break every hour instead of every two?

And the nicotine addicts went scrambling to find places to fire up. The usual smoking area near the Poker Kitchen (or the big white shed where kangaroos go to die) was closed off while they dismembered the shed.

Here's some interesting non-tits and ass story over at the hombres at Wicked Chops Poker... Jeff Shulman to Renounce WSOP Bracelet If He Wins.

"You should actually win before you make that statement," snarked Benjo.

* * * * *

3:45pm... Maimone Running Like God; Down to 18

Chip Leaders: Billy Kopp 26M and Ben Lamb & Darvin Moon with 17.5M
Recent Eliminations: George Caragiorgas and Tommy Vedes
Shorties: Ludovic Lacay

"Running like God. So epic," joked Nick Maimone about his play so far today. The deck continued to hit him in the face when he turned quad Kings against George Caragiorgas on 20th place.

Ivey is around 5M and Ludovic Lacay slipped to 2.1M. Chewy has 65.M.

It's time for a pay jump to $500,000. Yikes.

Thanks to Change100 for the final two table draws...
TV Table:
Seat 1: Phil Ivey
Seat 2: Ian Tavelli
Seat 3: Steve Begleiter
Seat 4: Antoine Saout
Seat 5: James Akenhead
Seat 6: Eric Buchman
Seat 7: Joe Cada
Seat 8: Jamie Robbins
Seat 9: Nick 'FU_15' Maimone

Secondary Table:
Seat 1: Ben Lamb
Seat 2: Kevin Schaffel
Seat 3: Jordan Smith
Seat 4: Andrew 'LuckyChewy' Lichtenberger
Seat 5: Happy Shulman
Seat 6: Darvin Moon
Seat 7: James Calderaro
Seat 8: Billy Kopp
Seat 9: Ludovic Lacay
According to Benjo, Ludovic has yet to sit on the featured TV table. He's been on the second table a few times though.

* * * * *

4:20pm... Lucky Chewey Not So Lucky

Chip Leaders: Billy Kopp and Darvin Moon
Recent Eliminations: Andrew 'LuckyChewey' Lichtenberge
Players Remaining: 17
Shorties: Phil Ivey and Ludovic Lacay

Chewy ran into Darvin Moon's Kings when he had Jacks. That was all she wrote for Chewy. With his elimination, they are down to 17.

Phil Ivey slipped to 5M until he picked up a pot when he opened for a 420K raise. No joke. He's up to 7M but one of the three shortest stacks along with Ludovic Lacay.

As always, today's 4:20 smoke break is brought to you by... PokerStars and FantasySportsLive!

* * * * *

4:53pm... Lacay Out in 16th Place

Two bustouts on the last hand before the break to go down to 15. Ludivuc Lacay is the latest casualty when he lost a race against Happy Shulman.

Ian Tavelli headed to the rail in 16th a few moments before Lacay's exit.

Down to 15 where the pace has gone a little faster than expected. The action should slow down. Which they keep say. The they? The people inside my head.

Oh and I'm getting smoked like cheap schwag in the media pool...

Media Pool - Pauly's Picks... Darvin Moon, Ludovic Lacay, Tommy Vedes, Ben Lamb, Jeff Duvall, Leo Margets, Marco Mattes, Eugene Katchalov, Andrew Chewey Lichtenberger

Here's who cashed today...
16 Ludovic Lacay $500,557
17 Ian Tavelli $500,557
18 Andrew Lichtenberger $500,557
19 Tommy Vedes $352,832
20 George Caragiorgas $352,832
21 Jonathan Tamayo $352,832
22 Warren Zackey $352,832
23 Marco Mattes $352,832
24 Antonio Esfandiari $352,832
25 Francois Balmigere $352,832
26 Jesse Haabak $352,832
27 Leo Margets $352,832
* * * * *

5:45pm... Nick Maimone's Run Over

The kid from Carolina went much deeper than anyone imagined today. He was running better than good. He suggested that he was running like God... except against Eric Buchman. He could not draw out and hit the road in 15th place. Down to 14.

And yes, Steven Begleiter, is your chipleader.

* * * * *

6:30pm... Happy Lamb

Chip Leaders: Steven Begleiter

Ben Lamb doubled through Happy Shulman when his tens held against Shulman's K-J sooted. Shulman opened and Lamb shoved for about 3x more. Shulman tanked for about ninety seconds before he sighed and called. Shulman did not win his race and Lamb doubled up much to the delight of his contingency.

Ivey is up to 7M and Lamb is still the short stack despite his double up.

* * * * * *

7:05pm... Dinner Break

On the last hand before the break, James Ankenhead cracked Aces when he flopped two pair with K-Q.

Still on 14 players. Five more to to before the November Nine is set. Eric Buchman is the chipleader by a slim margin.

Let's hope the dinner break can make everyone play a little looser. At least all of the drunk and annoying fans will leave the Amazon Ballroom for a few minutes.
Chip Counts...
Eric Buchman 28.67M
Steven Begleiter 27.26M
Darvin Moon 25.4M
Jordan Smith 18.84M
Joseph Cada 18.4M
Billy Kopp 13.5M
Jeff Shulman 13.5M
Antoine Saout 12.42M
Kevin Schaffel 10.63M
Phil Ivey 8.4M
Ben Lamb 6.6M
James Akenhead 5.09M
James Calderaro 5M
Jamie Robbins 1.34M
See you back at 8:35pm.

* * * * * *

8:05pm... The Last Supper

I hope you're well fed, because this might take a while. On my way back to the Rio, I peeked inside ESPN's staging area where they serve their catered staff meal during the dinner break. Oh my! Talk about a spread. My mouth salivated at the prospects. An efficient army is a well fed army and the troops have replenished and reloaded and ready for the long haul. I'm prepped for another 8-10 hours. I have 4:20am as the stop time. Regardless, the sun will be piercing my eyes as I take my initial steps of freedom as I exit the Rio for the last time until November.

One drunk got carted off by security. Alkies beware, you're belligerent drunken tomfoolery will not be tolerated. (P.S. All media reps should sneak through the side door).

* * * * * *

9:15pm... Lamb-Kebob and See Ya Calderaro

Ben Lamb hit the road along with his rowdy railbirds. He finished in 14th place and within minutes James Calderaro made a quick exit. In the first forty minutes after dinner break, two players are eliminated. Down to the final 12 and a pay jump to $896,730.

Eric Buchman is one of the first players to pass the 30M mark but Darvin Moon and Steven Begleiter are not far behind.

Three more to go until the November Nine. Two more bustouts until the final ten players consolidate to one table.

Phil Ivey is around 7M in chips but at the far end of the pack.

* * * * *

9:55pm... Welcome November Nine Bubble

Chip Leaders: Darvin Moon
Recent Eliminations: Jamie Robbins (11th) and Billy Kopp (12th)

Phil Ivey busted Jamie Robbins in 11th place. The crowd unleashed a jubilant cheer when Robbins failed to come from behind to double through Ivey. With ten players remaining, Ivey is on the cusp of making his first ever

Every one in the room has a collected hard on... hoping that Ivey makes the final table. The suits and media types have over-sized dollar signs in their eyes. They can almost count the money.

Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. By the way, Darvin Moon is back into the chiplead and became the first player to pass the 40M mark. he didn't even both hitting the 20M mar, he went straight from the 20M to 40M when he busted Billy Kopp in 11th place.

Action was paused while they prep the final TV table. The remaining ten players were consolidated to one table.
The Final 10:
Seat 1: Darvin Moon - 44,300,000
Seat 2: Jordan Smith - 15,430,000
Seat 3: James Akenhead - 5,100,000
Seat 4: Phil Ivey - 10,210,000
Seat 5: Kevin Schaffel - 13,080,000
Seat 6: Steven Begleiter - 26,495,000
Seat 7: Eric Buchman - 36,780,000
Seat 8: Joe Cada - 13,400,000
Seat 9: Antoine Saout - 10,200,000
Seat 10:Jeff Shulman - 17,900,000

Final Table Payouts:
1 - $8,546,435
2 - $5,182,601
3 - $3,479,485
4 - $2,502,787
5 - $1,953,395
6 - $1,587,133
7 - $1,404,002
8 - $1,300,228
9 - $1,263,602
10 - $896,730
Thanks to Change100 for the chippies.

Here's the sponsorship... 4 - Full Tilt, 1 - PokerStars, 1 - UB, 1-Everest, 1-CardPlayer, an 2 No-Logos )(Smith & Moon). Thanks to Benjo for the research.

6,494 players began what seems like a month ago. We're down to the final ten including the man, the myth, and the legend... Phil Ivey.

10:46pm... The Zoo

The final table area was jam packed. Every single inch of space was taken up. I had never seen it that claustrophobic before The one open spot on the rail had people standing ten deep trying to catch a glimpse of Phil Ivey. The area above in the beef jerky lounge was so densely packed that the floor shook a bit. I was worried that it was going to collapse so I stepped back a bit. It reminded me of the eerie calm moments before a wooden grand stand collapsed at a Guatemalan soccer game.

I said this on Twitter... "Ivey is like the friggin' Beatles."

It's true. Everyone rushed to the final table from all over the convention area. The few people in offices and the hallways scattered and dashed to the TV table. Parts of the casino emptied out. The poker room was nearly empty. Even guys sweeping the floors ran down to the Amazon Ballroom with their brooms and dustpans in tow. Players playing online poker in their hotel rooms, quickly left and made a bee-line downstairs. Locals jumped in their cars and sped to the Rio. Phil Ivey was on the cusp of the final table. History was about to be made and no-one wanted to miss it.

* * * * *

10:52pm... Darvin Moon = November Nine Chipleader

Wow. The November Nine is set. It happened so fast that I barely had time to settle inside the rail and take notes. Anyway, Jordan Smith busted out when his Aces lost to Darvin Moon's set of 8s. It was pretty insane. We couldn't believe it ended so quick.
2009 November Nine:
Seat 1: Darvin Moon
Seat 2: James Akenhead
Seat 3: Phil Ivey
Seat 4: Kevin Schaffel
Seat 5: Steven Begleiter
Seat 6: Eric Buchman
Seat 7: Joe Cada
Seat 8: Antoine Saout
Seat 9: Happy Shulman
One Frenchie, one Brit from the Hit Squad, a hillbilly from West Virginia, a former Wall Street guy, a controversial son of a media mogul, and Phil fuckin' Ivey. Should make for an interesting final table.

Stay tuned for a recap and end of day chip counts.

Thanks for following along. See you in November.

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

WSOP Day 48 - Main Event Day 7: Evil Lurks on the Cusp of Greatness

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Spectators lined up outside the Amazon Ballroom to gain entry into the greatest show in Las Vegas. As soon as the security guards opened up the doors, several fans sprinted towards the feature table while others took up space on the rail. As usual, the more popular players had the most railbirds... Phil Ivey and Joe Sebok. If the WSOP is a high school microcosm, then Ivey is the best athlete in the history of the school and Sebok is the coolest kid in school who transcended all cliques.

As soon as the doors opened, fans flocked towards their heroes. And even the media rushed to get the best spots on the inner perimeter. A gaggle of unshowered foreign faux-journalists even grabbed chairs to camp out in narrow moat designed for the media. A couple of fame-seeking reporters strategically placed themselves within camera shot so they can get some face time on TV. They were part of the vultures that have been swarming around and pecking apart the carcasses of the remaining players... unscrupulous agents, broke players, sleazy women, overbearing backers, and other scheming shysters were all looking for a handout or a cut of the big cheese. On Day 7, the action intensified inside the ropes, while on the rail, the salaciousness increased exponentially. Even the Sapphire girls wandered around inside the Amazon Ballroom, yet they did not seem out of place in the all-too-familiar circus.

The battle for product placement on the remaining 64 players went on behind the scenes while cash were exchanged for logos, patches, and hats pimping the major online poker rooms. The slithery middlemen ducked in and out of the shadows long enough to rear their ugly heads and shakedown unsuspecting players. With the rules in place about only three players per TV table can wear the same online poker logo, there has been less long term deals going around. Some of the deals are even lower than ever, unless you are the last woman standing then you can garner a big sloppy fat check (because well... she has boobs you you don't) while the unknowns are left in the dust with pedestrian deals. And if you're not a pretty person with a beer gut and have a short stack? You're lucky to get Chico's Bail Bonds to sponsor you.

According to Otis, "A sleazy poker agent just tried to pay one of my writers $25,000 because he thought he was a WSOP player. Gooooooo incompetence!"

Even I got approached by an agent because he thought I represented a European poker site.

"They are everywhere," spat Benjo. "Those vampires tried to ambush a French player in the hallway. He needs to focus on the game and not be pressured for a deal five minutes before dinner ends."

That's just part of the game. Last year at this time, there was a whirlwind side drama going down for the Battle of Tiffany Michelle's Breasts between the Tony G junta, PokerStars, and UB. And this year? Some of the same, yet behind closed doors. Leo Margets already collected a snazzy cup for winning Wicked Chops Poker's Last Woman Standing prize. And now? She's the most sought after property and while you were sleeping, the wheels were in motion. Could she and would she switch up sites? And will online poker rooms gamble on her since she's the second shortest stack left?

Even Ludovic Lacay, who has been a sponsored player on Team Winamax, popped up on the radar of the big boys. For now, he's staying loyal to his fellow countrymen and his friends. But will several million dollars change his mind?

One player quickly juggled online rooms on Tuesday. He had been wearing PokerStars all week before he showed up on Tuesday with a FullTilt patch. Sometimes, it just takes a little money and some arm twisting. That's the Vegas way.

64 players began Day 7 including Joe Sebok, His shoddy luck is renown and he's such a laid-back guy with a self-deprecating sense of humor that he can joke about his bad fortunes. He was finally looking to get that monkey off his back. He finally cashed in the Main Event and made a remarkable run despite being shortstacked for most of not all of the tournament. He had several days where he was ridiculously card dead, yet advanced to the next day. And midway? Sebok caught the dreaded Equus Africanus Asinus Flu that has been going around. He looked so ill at one point that he probably should had been resting in a hospital bed with an IV instead of sitting in Seat 5 in the Amazon Ballroom.

But that's what makes Joe Sebok tick. He's one tough ass motherfucker who refused to give up. Not only did he go deep, but he also drew plenty of attention to his media site... Poker Road.

With Sebok gone, all eyes are on Phil Ivey. He's been in this spot twice before in the last eight years. One bad hand against Chris Moneymaker in 2003 shaped the rest of the poker industry. Perhaps Ivey will get karmic payback and make a run at the November Nine.

If Phil Ivey can advance one more day... everyone wins. The fans. The suits. ESPN/441 Productions. The online poker moguls. The corporate sponsors. Purina's Puppy Chow. The show shine guy in front of the Hooker Bar. Everyone. That's what the public wants... more Phil Ivey. And the deeper that Phil Ivey goes... the more money that everyone makes. Me included. Shit, I might just join in with his rabid fans on the rail and chant, "Ivey! Ivey! Ivey!" every time a dealer ships him a pot.

27 players to go. 18 players will fade into obscurity while the last nine standing will become poker's next superstars.
End of Day 7 Chip Counts:
Darvin Moon - 20.16M
Billy Kopp - 15.97M
Steven Begleiter - 11.885M
Phil Ivey - 11.35M
Kevin Schaffel - 11.245M
Antoine Saout - 11.135M
Jeff Shulman - 10.17M
Eric Buchman - 10.005M
Jamie Robbins - 9.795M
Ben Lamb - 9.41M
James Akenhead - 8.615M
Joseph Cada - 6.565M
James Calderaro - 6.475M
Andrew 'Lucky Chewy' Lichtenberger - 5.625M
Ludovic Lacay - 5.61M
Warren Zackey - 5.485M
Marco Mattes - 5.285M
Tommy Vedes - 5.07M
Jordan Smith - 4.51M
Antonio Esfandiari - 4.47M
Ian Tavelli - 4.385M
Jonathan Tamayo - 3.3M
Jesse Haabak - 2.75M
George Caragiorgas - 1.615M
Nick Maimone - 1.545M
Leo Margets - 1.53M
Francois Balmigere - 1.44M
* * * * *

Don't forget to check out Flipchip's WSOP photos.

Don't forget, you can follow along with my hijinks via Twiiter. My feed 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.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

2009 WSOP Live Blog - Main Event Day 7

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

We only started ten minutes late today. Some players were slack with filling out their bio sheets for ESPN. 64 players returned and only 27 will advance to Day 8. There's a few familiar and popular pros left in the field (like that Phil Ivey and Joe Sebok character) while the unknowns are on the verge of becoming household names.

Today also features a couple of big pay jumps. 63rd place will win over 100K while 36th place jumps to a quarter of a million. Play should slow down as we reach the final four tables. There is no set time limit today. Last year, this point of the tournament lasted less than twelve hours and had more returning players. The stacks are a bit bigger this year, so I'm expecting a longer day.

Plenty of the online sportsbooks released their odds and as expected Phil Ivey was listed at 5/1 to win it all.

Here's the starting tables... this list will be almost useless after the first elimination because they will break a table when they reach 63.
Table 1
Seat 1: Steven Begleiter - 6,315,000
Seat 2: Craig Boyd - 650,000
Seat 3: Ryan Fair - 2,940,000
Seat 4: Ian Tavelli - 1,985,000
Seat 5: James Akenhead - 1,655,000
Seat 6: Hung Pham - 1,006,000
Seat 7: Mark Ader - 1,610,000
Seat 8: Warren Zackey - 1,400,000
Seat 9: Adam York - 3,515,000

Table 2
Seat 1: Darvin Moon - 9,745,000
Seat 2: George Caragiorgas - 2,670,000
Seat 3: Jimmy Calderaro - 1,810,000
Seat 4: Ben Jensen - 1,553,000
Seat 5: Thai Tran - 2,495,000
Seat 6: Joseph Ward - 2,575,000
Seat 7: Jordan Smith - 830,000
Seat 8: Adam Bilzerian - 3,305,000

Table 3
Seat 1: Happy Shulman - 4,745,000
Seat 2: Scott Cook - 3,095,000
Seat 3: Jonathan Tamayo - 2,680,000
Seat 4: Leo Margets - 3,650,000
Seat 5: Jason Brice - 2,825,000
Seat 6: Grayson Ramage - 1,215,000
Seat 7: Andrew 'Chewey' Lichtenberger - 3,190,000
Seat 8: Scott Bohlman - 865,000

Table 4
Seat 1: Ludovic Lacay - 5,965,000
Seat 2: Marco Mattes - 3,470,000
Seat 3: Scott Sitron - 1,330,000
Seat 4: Christopher Bach - 2,765,000
Seat 5: Manuel Labandeira - 765,000
Seat 6: Tommy Vedes - 5,430,000
Seat 7: Fabrice Soulier - 3,025,000
Seat 8: Phil Ivey - 6,345,000

Table 5
Seat 1: Marc McLaughlin - 2,895,000
Seat 2: Hieu Luu - 4,755,000
Seat 3: Kevin Schaffel - 3,685,000
Seat 4: Billy Kopp - 8,245,000
Seat 5: Tom 'DonkeyBomber' Schneider - 2,895,000
Seat 6: Charlie Elias - 4,190,000
Seat 7: Blair Rodman - 2,130,000
Seat 8: Luis Nargentino - 3,825,000

Table 6
Seat 1: Miika Puumalainen - 3,200,000
Seat 2: Francois Balmigere - 2,025,000
Seat 3: Dennis Phillips - 2,305,000
Seat 4: Joseph Cada - 3,880,000
Seat 5: Steve Sanders - 3,360,000
Seat 6: Joe Sebok - 1,000,000
Seat 7: Nick Maimone - 4,900,000

Table 7
Seat 1: Antoine Saout - 5,195,000
Seat 2: Bradley Craig - 2,445,000
Seat 3: Montagna Corrado - 860,000
Seat 4: Jeff Duvall - 3,935,000
Seat 5: Michael Jansen - 820,000
Seat 6: Gabriel Vezina - 1,250,000
Seat 7: Prahlad Friedman - 840,000
Seat 8: Eugene Katchalov - 3,300,000

Featured TV Table:
Seat 1: Martin Lapostolle - 940,000
Seat 2: Eric Buchman - 2,495,000
Seat 3: Antonio Esfandiari - 5,610,000
Seat 4: Ben Lamb - 4,975,000
Seat 5: Jamie Robbins - 2,895,000
Seat 6: Jesse Haabak - 3,345,000
Seat 7: John Martin - 3,080,000
Seat 8: George Saca - 3,020,000
* * * * *

1:11pm... Joe Sebok Eliminated.... Down to 55

Chipleaders: Ludovic Lacay and Darvin Moon
Players Remaining: 55

Prahlad Friedman was the first player to bust out today. He was one of the shortstacks and hit the road within the first ten minutes of play. George Saca went out next in 63rd place.

The DonkeyBomber and Joe Sebok were seated at tables right next to each other so I can keep an eye on both. All of Sebok's friends were nearby and cheered on their hero... until he lost half his stack. He busted out soon after in 56th place to a hearty cheer from the crowd.

Fabrice Soulier drew a tough table with fellow Frenchman Ludovic Lacay and Phil Ivey. Fabrice's girlfriend was so nervous that she did not sleep last night. Sometimes, you forget that the friends and family of the players are not professionals and are unable to handle the high stress that accompanies a deep Main Event run. Even Barr Greenstein looked a little on edge while he sweated Sebok... and he does this for a living. On the contray, AngryJulie is always excited and hyper when her husband DonkeyBomber drags a pot.

Today is Bastille Day, so expect that the Frenchies to do well as they draw inspiration from their special holiday. Lacay is up to over 8M after he took a 2M pot early on. And Fabrice is holding his own against Ivey and Lacay.
The following players won $108,047:
55 Craig Boyd
56 Joe Sebok
57 John Martin
58 Scott Bohlman
59 Miika Puumalainen
60 Benjamin Jensen
61 Mark Ader
62 Michael Jansen
63 George Saca

The following player won $90,344...
64 Prahlad Friedman
Apologies to Scott Bohlman for flubbing his name via Twitter. Scott took a tough beat when his pocket tens were snapped off by Lucky Chewy's A-7.

* * * * *

2:10pm... The DonkeyBomber Wins and AngryJulie Perks Up

Chip Leaders: Billy Kopp and Darvin Moon
Recent Eliminations:
Players Remaining: 54

Phil Ivey is still in the Top 5 in chips with around 7M. Ludovic Lacay is up to 7M.

DonkeyBomber said that he was feeling sick until he won a huge pot and AngryJulie exploded on the rail with an orgasmic shriek. I was sitting in the press box almost 100 yards away from the action but I knew that he had won the pot because of AngryJulie's jubilant cheer that echoed throughout the entire Amazon Ballroom. He doubled up but then lost a pot quickly after. He's hovering around 4M.

The Poker Kitchen was closed yesterday and in the middle of being dismantled. It sot of looks like a grocery store in New Orleans post-Katrina that had been looted. Lots of empty boxes. I heard that Eskimo Clark moved in there with all of the other broke dick players who went busto during the WSOP. Some people have set up tents in there and it's become known as Pollackville.

In the hallways, most of the stands have been taken down. They are in the middle of packing up the Cardoza book that was hawking Mike Matusow's new book. The free wine tasting and the political entities have already hit the road days earlier.

The Milwaukee's Beast girls are still in the hallways handing out free gear , but not free beer. Lame. One girl in her milk maiden light blue Alice in Wonderland outfit was leaning over a speaker and an old guy wandered up from behind utterly speechless. He almost had a heart attack while he locked in on her booty.

* * * * *

3:15pm... B-52... DonkeyBomber Eliminated in 52nd Place

Chip Leaders: Billy Kopp, Darvin Moon. Phil Ivey, Ludovic Lacay
Recent Eliminations: DonkeyBomber
Players Remaining: 49

DonkeyBomber lost a couple of pots before the break. AngryJulie went to fetch him a pizza so he could snack on his break. The railbirds are an integral part of the team in some cases, like a Nascar pit crew.

Bomber was short and made a stand with A-7. A French-Canuck called with 9-9. AngryJulie stood on the rail with an obstructed view and could not see the hands. "Do you have the pair or A-7?" she shouted.

"I have the Ace," mumbled DonkeyBomber.

"That's OK. I like it."

The flop missed DonkeyBomber but he turned a seven to pick up a few outs. His Main Event came to an official close when he whiffed on the river. The DonkeyBomber was nevermore. A dejected AngryJulie fought back cheers as she joined in with a shower of applause. DonkeyBomber somberly walked over to the payout desk as his named was announced over the PA system, "The 2007 Player of the Year Tom Schneider from Scottsdale, Arizona was eliminated in 52nd place."

"I'm proud of you!" shouted AngryJulie.

The two were followed by a camera crew as they walked through the vast emptiness of the Amazon Ballroom. At one point, they stopped and embraced for several seconds amidst the dimly lit room as a delicate clattering of chips echoed in the background. He disappeared into the crowd $138,568 richer, but he'll tell you that this is the worst day of his life.

* * * * *

4:20pm... 46 to Go

Chip Leaders: Billy Kopp, Darvin Moon, Phil Ivey, and Ludovic Lacay
Recent Eliminations: Fabrice Soulier
Players Remaining: 46

Fabrice Soulier is out and mentioned, "I feel very sad."

The dreaded slow down has begun...

So here's my media fantasy picks that I randomly selected getting numbers generated by AlCantHang and Otis correlating to their position in chips at the start of the day. I took eight of their numbers and added Ludovic...
1 Darvin Moon
5 Ludovic Lacay
7 Tommy Vedes
9 Ben Lamb
14 Jeff Duvall
18 Leo Margets
20 Marco Matte
24 Eugene Katchalov
26 Andrew Chewey Lichtenberger
As always, today's 4:20 smoke break is brought to you by... PokerStars and FantasySportsLive!

* * * * *

5:20pm... Dennis Phillips Eliminated

Chip Leaders: Billy Kopp, Darvin Moon, Phil Ivey, and Tommy Vedes

You won't hear the truck horn anymore. And the clones? They'll disappear. Dennis Phillips is out. The November Niner was trying to repeat... but that quest came to a halt. He received a warm applause when his name was announced. With his elimination, that's one less "familiar" face that it the rail.

All hopes are on Ivey and Esfiandari. Oh, and the chipleader Billy Kopp...

Billy Kopp & Ivey
Photo by MeanGene
The following players won $178,857:
37 Martin Lapostolle
38 Gabriel Mezina
39 Eugene Katchalov
40 Scott Cook
41 Adam York
42 Jeff Duvall
43 Montagna Corrado
44 Manuel Labandeira
45 Dennis Phillips

The following players won $138,568:
46 Hung Pham
47 Adam Bilzerian
48 Hieu Luu
49 Fabrice Soulier
50 Bradley Craig
51 Thai Tran
52 Tom Schneider
53 Charlie Elias
54 Steve Sanders
* * * * *

6:20pm... 34... Ivey = 2nd Chips

Chip Leaders: Billy Kopp, Phil Ivey, and Antoine Saou
Recent Eliminations: Christopher Bach in 36th place
Players Remaining: 34

We've reached the $250K mark in prize money with four tables to go. Min payout is now $253,941. Next money jump is at 27 and it's $352,832.

Ah, the unknown Frenchie Antoine Saou leapfrogged into the Top 5 in chips, while Ludovic Lacay slipped to 4.2M.

Ivey up to 11M while his fans on the rail are screaming "Ivey! Ivey! Ivey!" every time he wins a pot.

The other overlooked pro Blair Rodman has around 1M, while Antonio Esfandiari is up to 5M on the featured table.

Chewy is down to 4M.

The last Brit standing, James Ankhead is under 5M, while Happy Shulman is up over 7M and making grumpy comments at his table. The hombres at Wicked Chops Poker have the scoop.

New Yorker Tommy Vedes is in the Top 10 in chips and sporting a Poker Battle logo.

Pauly's Randomly Generated November 9 Picks: 6 Alive... Darvin Moon, Ludovic Lacay, Tommy Vedes, Ben Lamb, Leo Margets, Marco Matte, and Chewey

There's a major discussion right now about the length of tonight. Ivey has been arguing to play five levels, when there's talk about stopping at 27 like originally scheduled. Stay tuned for that drama.
* * * * *

7:20pm... 29 to Go; Dinner Break

Chip Leaders: Billy Kopp, Phil Ivey, Antoine Saou, and Tommy Vedes
Players Remaining: 29

The eliminations happened at such a fast pace that there were quick discussions and back hallway meetings among the cabal of suits to determine the fate of the rest of the night. A quick decision was made... players are heading on dinner break and will play down to 27 when they return. Then, that's it.

Pauly's Randomly Generated November 9 Picks: 6 Alive... Darvin Moon, Ludovic Lacay, Tommy Vedes, Ben Lamb, Leo Margets, Marco Matte, and Chewey
The following players won $253,941:
30 Marc McLaughlin
31 Ryan Fair
32 Scott Sitron
33 Jason Brice
34 Blair Rodman
35 Grayson Ramage
36 Christopher Bach
Ivey's still near the top, while Antonio Esfiandari, Leo Margets, and Chewy are bringing up the rear.

* * * * *

9:20pm... 28 to Go

Chip Leaders: Billy Kopp, Phil Ivey, Antoine Saou, Happy Shulman, and Tommy Vedes
Recent Eliminations: Luis Nargentino
Players Remaining: 28

Luis Nargentino from Queens busted from Phil Ivey's table. Down to 28. One more bustout and we're done for the evening.

* * * * *

9:20pm... The Slowdown

28 players remaining. Top 5 in chips? Billy Kopp, Darvin Moon, Steven Begleiter, Phil Ivey, Jeff Shulman

Durrrr even mentioned on a 2+2 thread that he'll have to pay up 1M to Phil Ivey if he wins the Main Event. Supposedly, he was getting 100-1 odds.

Anyway, we reached the dreaded slow down. There were three all ins involving short stacks, but they all doubled up including Antonio Esfiandari at the TV table with Aces versus Jacks.

* * * * *

10:30pm... Down to 27; Day 7 Complete

Wow, I spoke too soon. Joe Ward headed to the rail in 28th place on one of the last hands of the round before a scheduled break. With his elimination, we're down to 27 players and action will resume tomorrow at noon where we'll play down to the final 9... the November Nine.
The following players won $253,941:
28 Joe Ward
29 Luis Nargentino
Thanks for following along. Stay tuned for official information including chip counts.
End of Day 7 - Chip Counts:
Darvin Moon - 20.16M
Billy Kopp - 15.97M
Steven Begleiter - 11.885M
Phil Ivey - 11.35M
Kevin Schaffel - 11.245M
Antoine Saout - 11.135M
Jeff Shulman - 10.17M
Eric Buchman - 10.005M
Jamie Robbins - 9795M
Ben Lamb - 941M
James Akenhead - 8615M
Joseph Cada - 6565M
James Calderaro - 6475M
Andrew Lichtenberger - 5625M
Ludovic Lacay - 561M
Warren Zackey - 5.485M
Marco Mattes - 5.285M
Tommy Vedes - 5.07M
Jordan Smith - 4.51M
Antonio Esfandiari - 4.47M
Ian Tavelli - 4.385M
Jonathan Tamayo - 3.3M
Jesse Haabak - 2.75M
George Caragiorgas - 1.615M
Nick Maimone - 1.545M
Leo Margets - 1.53M
Francois Balmigere - 1.44M
See ya tomorrow.

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