Thursday, January 28, 2010

Memoirs of a Rush Addict

By Pauly
Somewhere in Utah

Friday afternoon. Just another day in the life. Ignoring the propaganda. Avoiding the hype. Ditching the herd. Hiding from reality. The world spins as per usual. Planes taking off behind schedule and land way late. Pandas shit in zoos. Taxi drivers gypping tourists without a clue. Babies born. Bodies buried. The racy secretaries watching the clock tick down on the verge of getting their Happy Hour drinky drink on. Friday afternoons. That's the best time to step up and take the plunge. The Rush.

The voice is soothing, sort of like the angelic whisper you hear before you depart this life and enter the afterlife. You no longer exist in the physical being, but your spirit lives on. The cards appear. Then re-appear. And over. And over. They say you can play almost 200 hands of PLO an hour. If you play three tables, that's 600 hands. Maybe less, never more. That's sort of how the hippies from the 1960s, the real hippies, the original hippies, the OG gansta of hippies say that the weed they smoked back then could not compare to what's being growing in houses, basements, and crawl spaces all across North America. It's stronger they say. Potent. Powerful. 100% better. One hit gets you so high, it takes you days to come down.

Welcome to Rush Poker. I took the plunge. Blind faith, they call it. Dumb faith if you ask me. Who jumps out of a plane without a parachute? Well, besides me?

Day 1... The first hour. P. L. O. A blur. I couldn't tell you how many hands I folded. Dozens. Hundreds. I waited and waited and waited. Junk hands. All spades. Three diamonds. Green clovers. Blue horseshoes. I saw four of a kind so many times I lost count. And then I finally woke up to a hand A-K-Q-10. Double suited. I missed BOTH flush draw. Fuck me. Rebuy. The next hour went something like this... Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Raise. Miss flop. Fold. Fold. Find Aces. Three-bet. Miss flop. Raise anyway. Get three-bet and fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Call out of position with double-suited Jacks. Flop a Jack. Check-raise. Get three-callers. Turn a boat. Jam. Felt a Frenchie with a flush. Fold. Fold. Fold. Raise with Aces. Get four callers. No redraws. Cracked by two pair. Rebuy. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. 3-bet with Air. Miss the flop. Bet anyway. Win the pot. No way. Ah, my opponent was from Norway. Figures. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Get double suited royal cards. Flop a flush draw. Whiff. Rebuy. Fold.Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Raise with Kings. Raise the flop. Win the turn. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Call out of position with 5-6-7-8. Flop two pair. Turn a flush redraw. River a middle flush. Lose to Brit's bigger flush. Rebuy. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. I flop a set of Nines and snap off Aces. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. 1,876 hands later... I'm up two-buy ins. I started to recognize players. Takes a junkie to know a junkie. I wonder if they are paying attention to me and remember the time I cracked their Aces. I took a piss three times since I started and I love wi-fi because it lets me pee and fold at the same time. I'm not like those lazy fucking Rush-heads who just piss themselves or bought adult diapers. I actually get off and piss while my laptop is carefully balanced. Fold. Fold. Fold.

Day 2... I stopped playing three tables. I went to one so I could focus on my Google searches. I was seeking out psychiatrists in the Los Angeles area who made house-calls. You'd be surprised to find out that there's more head shrinkers in L.A. then there are actual plastic surgeons. I was shocked. My goal was to find a crooked shrink in the Hollywood area to write me a script for Adderall... but waive the office visit and come to me. In this shitty economy, there has to be one or two shrinks strapped for cash who will certainly do me a favor and stop by my apartment in the slums of Beverly Hills, so I can keep playing PLO. The thought if stopping is miserable and I'm running out of those little blue pills. I'll even toss in an extra $100 if the crooked shrink even picks up my pills at the 24 hour Pharmacy down on Fairfax. Just I wrote this, I stacked a German-donk. Suck it, Kraut. I flopped a set of bitches, turned a diamond draw, and rivered a boat. Ship it, Kaiser. The other Google search was trying to find a legitimate Canadian pharmacy that will actually sell me real medication instead of water pills. It seems like my junk mail is broken down into two main categories.... 1) a Nigerian princess needs my help to get her inheritance out of a Swiss bank... and... 2) a nice Canadian who is sympathetic about America's retarded health care system is willing to send me Valium at discount prices! Sounds too good to be true. But hey, if that means I can pay 50% less for pills from the Great White North that I can get down the street, then so be it. Except I don't want Valium. I don't need to get down. I wanna stay up. The longer I can stay up, the more money I can win playing Rush. The more speed that I can eat, the more hands I can play. The more hands that I can play, the more money I can win. You see this evil endless cycle. It never fuckin' stops. So please to my gregarious Canadian readers, please send me whatever you can get your hands on. Consider this Junkie Relief. Your donations are tax deductible.

Day 3... I've been up for a while. Everything looks green. The world has a green tint. I wonder if that's from all of the green tea? The only thing I have eaten since I sat down were speed in pill form and three Clif Bars. I've drank enough water to keep seventy camels full for three years, which is why I'm pissing every fifteen minutes. I can't remember how much I'm up or down. When I need to rebuy, Full Tilt keeps letting me, so I have to assume I have yet to blow my entire bankroll. Unless I'm playing on credit, which would be awesome and treacherous in the same instance. Most of my late night looked like this. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Gets Aces cracked. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Crack Aces with a set. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Flop a set and get sucked out on. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Aces cracked. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Crack Aces with Kings. Oh snaaaaaaap. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold.

Day 4... The delirium is starting to pass. I stopped hallucinating seven or eight hours ago. My fingers are sticky. My girlfriend moved out of the apartment and screaming something about staying in a hotel until she finishes planning the intervention. I think I'm up 51 buy-ins. I'm not too sure. Hard to keep track. Those Scandis play like drunken midgets in a Tijuana whorehouse on Easter Sunday. Sweet Jesus, all I have been doing was seeking out Eurodonks and trying to stack them. It works. Just three-bet and four-bet any Scandi and they will piss away their entire stack to you. Try it. Any four cards. It works.

Day 5... Been up for way more than 100 hours closing in on 120. I met the aliens who live on my block. I'm not talking about the Laotians, I'm talking about the visitors from the Orion Nebula. They come out at night and pick through my garbage. All the time, I thought they were homeless people. I had no idea that's the aliens cover. Clever. Pretty cool actually. They were scared off by the shrink who made the house-call. I need to call him back because the pill bottle is almost empty. I had 90 pills. Down to a dozen. Had to start snorting Adderall late last night in order to get that instant jolt of energy. I was up to six tables at once, but dropped down to three. Still waiting on those relief packages from Canadia. I'm gonna dance a jig when I chow down on Tim Horton's and Canuck's version of generic speed. That's the stuff they give hockey players. No wonder they are so fast on the ice. Shit, I'm gonna start shooting the batch of Canuck speed. That's the next progression, right? Pills. Snort. Spike. All I know is that when you crush up the blue pills, you have a dusty trail of blue magic in front of you. The more you inhale, the more hands you can play. The cycle continues and continues and blue dye runs down the back of my throat. That's when you know you got the good shit... when it tastes like heaven and you can't feel your fuckin' face.

Day 6.... Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Aces cracked. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. I crack Aces. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Flop a straight flush. Felt a Dutchie. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Aces cracked. Again. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. I flop a set and lose to a bigger set. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Aces cracked. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold.

Day 7... "Let's all get drunk. I want to take pictures," said Kerouac. In order to stay awake, I downloaded a few Kerouac novels in audiobook format. Odd yet awesome to hear him read On the Road, but his voice and the words keep me going and moving and sound like a smacked out trumpet player in a jazz band rattling off note after note as I sit and steam about folding hand after hand after hand after hand before I finally wake up to something decent and three-bet shove on the turn with a wrap and nothing more. Rebuy! I had a short period when I was raising every single hand. I lost fourteen buy-ins. The next three hours look like this... Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Call out of position because I'm bored. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold.

Day 8... The intervention failed. They actually thought that I would be stupid enough to answer the door when I heard a knock. I knew they were trying to take me away. Traitors. All of you. I thwarted your insurgency. Those greasy socialists running the Nanny State cannot tell me what to do in my own home, even though I am pantsless, haven't eaten in three days, maybe four days, no three days, and my nostrils are caked with a blue crust. 2,300 hands later (2,200 of which I folded) ... I dropped fourteen buy-ins, but that's OK because I have a fool-proofed way to get pharmies delivered to my house using Full Tilt Points. It's in Uncle Howard and Jesus' best interest to keep me jacked up and playing for 128 more straight hours. Shit the rake alone will more than pay for the cost of paying off an ex-Nazi scientist living in Argentina to create a special pill for Full Tilt customers that will allow them to play six or more tables of Rush.

Day 9... Been up for over 200 hours. Maybe 210? 220? Who knows. Whoever came up with that Rush concept should be skull-fucked. Lives are going to be ruined. Marriages destroyed. Houses lost. Cars repossessed. Children taken away and tossed into foster care. Emergency rooms are going to flooded with junkies OD'ing on Rush. Thick purple circles around the eyes. Fingers perpetually stuck in a claw-like pose. Covered in urine and feces because once you get hooked, you're unable to move. The Religious Right is going to have a field day with this. The moralists are going to find some brain-dead Rush addict and parade his drooling ass slumped in a wheel chair on all of the talk shows. Cavuto. Beck. George Lopez. Everyone will want to talk to the innocent honor student who was corrupted by the dark side of the force. They will use this as an excuse to ban the internet outright. And if you get caught playing online poker, you'll get tossed into the new Gitmo with the Islamic Fundamentalists and have to do the naked pyramid nightly to amuse the guards otherwise you don't get any meat. And don't even think about the fuckin' pudding either. We might let the prisoners of war pray to Mecca, but we sure as hell don't give them dessert.

Day 10... Rush can only lead to bad things. A religious revolution. A Christian Jihad. Back to burning books and branding online gamblers. Next thing you know, you'll have to walk through full body scanners just to cross the street. But hey it's not my fault. I can handle my drugs. Rush ain't shit. That's amateur stuff compared to what I ingested in the 1990s. Don't forget, the Clinton era was a bonanza for cocaine and psychedelics until the infamous Pickford Acid Bust in an abandoned missile silo in Kansas. If you dropped a dose of liquid sunshine in the 1990s, 90% chance it was cooked up by Pickford. It's those weak-ass mofos who don't know what they are getting into which fuck up the fun for the rest of us. We're adults. We know exactly what we're getting into. The Jeffersonian Anarchist in me invokes the spirit of out Founder Father and preaches that all men have the divinity within to make the correct decisions in terms of their own pursuit of happiness. Jefferson wanted the federal government out of his personal life. And rightly so. But the rush of Rush is too dangerous. Too many fuckups are going to get hooked and a new pandemic will devastate the intertubes. Mass suicides. Daily prayer vigils. Lots of media coverage. If you have a poker blog, get ready for the media blitz. Hold on a second, I have the BBC on the phone. They want to know about the addicts. What is America going to do with all of the addicts? I say let them rot.

Day 11... Canadian pharmacies were a fuckin' hoax. I found a new shrink but he's charging me up the ass because he can. I had to resort to exotic Brazilian herbs and roots to keep me awake. Ibogaine. The secret drug that Hunter reported that Ed Muskee was chomping on during his entire Presidential campaign in 1972. It made him go mad, but for a while, it kept him moving and functioning. Hey, I don't care if I go crazy. I just need to stay up for a few more days... I need to get unstuck. Besides, I'm really starting to get the hang to Rush. I'm only down $14,000 but I still have a few hundred left in my account. The Brazilian roots are fantastic. More powerful than any of the pills I acquired. Nature is certainly more toxic than anything a big pharma company can synthesize in a laboratory. By the way, I dunno if the hallucinations returned, but I'm seeing more aliens. Well, creatures are more like it. Sort of hobbit-like figures that hide underneath the floorboards. They are plain evil and try to scare me into chasing them down the alley. I can only go forty or fifty feet before the wi-fi signal gets weak which is why I don't play outdoors. I also don't want my neighbors to see me and call the police. Besides, it's safer for me to stay indoors. I get too paranoid the second I step outside. Everyone I come across is either a government agent or a spy. I don't trust anyone, except the witch doctor in Koreatown who sells me the Brazilian herbs. All I know, is it keeps me in the game. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Raise with Aces. No action. Fold. Fold. Fold. Raise with junk, everyone calls. I miss the flop and fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold.Fold. Fold. Fold.Fold. Fold. Fold.Fold. Fold. Fold.Fold. Fold. Fold.Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold.

Day 22... Sorry for the lack of updates. I'm in Utah. At this place called Choices. They say it's not a rehab center, but rather a place that will "help you make better decisions and choices in life." For fuck's sake it's rehab. I don't know what happened. I think I passed out. It's hard to remember. My memory if fuzzy, a result of too much Ibogaine abuse. The first three days of rehab were awesome because I slept the entire time. I had no idea I had a roommate. I thought I was dreaming. Anyway, this place sucks. I'm stuck in the middle of Bumblefuck, Utah so trying to escape the medical compound is futile. Unless of course I want to deal with pious Mormons with their special underwear. Yeah, I'm surrounded by Mormons outside the walls. And inside, it's a friggin' zoo. Jesus, I have my shit together compared to these headcases. If you want to talk about some fucked up people, you should get forced into rehab sometime. If you want to make a million dollars, just follow around any four of these trainwrecks for a weekend and you'll have a runaway hit reality show. But the one thing I learned in rehab is that once I get out, I'll know a dozen hard core addicts who can hook me up once everyone leaves when their insurance runs out. Anyway, I have to go to my morning group therapy session and listen to those dingle biscuits bitch and moan about how they weren't loved enough as a child. By the way, I daydream all the time. What do I see? The QUICK FOLD button.

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

Monday, January 25, 2010

Poker Haiku Vol. 3: Rush Poker PLO

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Crack speed ecstasy
Relentless monkey on back
Vice in a blender

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

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Link Dump: Chessmasters, Horsemasters, Bracelets, and Gang Green

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Here's a few items to munch on as your weekend slowly comes to a close...
The Chess Master and the Computer is a well-written (albeit lengthy) essay by Garry Kasparov as he tackles on AI (that's Artificial Intelligence, and NOT the hoops player Allen "The Answer" Iverson). (NY Books)

File this under "no duh" as word is out that TJ Cloutier is selling his last WSOP bracelet. Makes me wonder if he's sold all of the other too. Yep, the latest trend. Bracelets for sale. Who said it's not about money and all about the bling? (Pokerati)

Do you want horse betting tips? The Irish have seven rules that will make you a better bettor. Some were pretty obvious. If those punters want to make some real cashola, they will offer up advice on how seven rules that will make you a better closest alcoholic in the workplace. (The Independent)

Wankable Liv Boree pics. Seriously, I spanked it twice just typing this. (Wicked Chops Poker)

I dig (well written) Las Vegas trip reports. So check out a two-part series from my favorite former Wall Street trader, Phishead, and overall cool guy: Part 1 - The Arrival and Part 2 - March of the Penguins. (Kid Dynamite)

Last weekend, I thought that I was writing an obituary for the NY Jets as they headed to San Diego to take on the Super Chargers. Well... Gang Green pulled out the upset and reached the NFL's final four. (Tao of Pauly)
That's it for now. Time to watch some football and gamble my life away.

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

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Chitwood Wins the Return of Saturdays with Dr. Pauly; Tao Readers Raise Money for Haiti

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I felt great to have a chance to play a little PLO on a lazy Saturday afternoon with some friends and help raise money for Haiti in the process. 31 players showed up on PokerStars for the Return of Saturdays with Dr. Pauly. This field included a few new faces and the usual cast of PLO junkies.

My starting table included on_thg , S.t.B, mikeyfan1, AcerbicOne, JOHN-E-FLUSH, and CrackerWhite.

Gigli honors went to JOHN-E-FLUSH who busted out in 31st place.

I took a hit early on when my A-A-5-2 was crippled by StB's neo-fascist Ac-Qd-Jc-4s. Shortly after, I busted out in 23rd place by dedbutton. Gah. I hate busting out of my tourneys early.

At the first break, LorraineLove held the chip lead with 15 players to go. KJ was looking good and sitting 4th in chips, and in very good shape of trying to win our prop bet (if he makes the final table, then I donate $50 to Haiti and vice versa).

KJ was sweating it out with a short stack during an extended final table bubble. on_thg was the only one with a smaller stack than KJ, but the pride of Grand Haven,Michigian was not giving up without a hearty fight. He eventually succumbed and bowed out in 10th place. on_thg's elimination has tremendous humanitarian implications because his exit locked up the prop bet for KJ.
Seat 1: chitwood (7680)
Seat 2: Drizztdj (3255)
Seat 3: hacker59 (5120)
Seat 4: LorraineLove (2317)
Seat 5: Albino Lord (5395)
Seat 6: dedbutton (9641)
Seat 7: Family Ice (1515)
Seat 8: chrispriceTO (3885)
Seat 9: lineside (7692)
At the start of the final table, dedbutton was out in front with the chiplead. Play slowed down as the money bubble approach, and Albino Lord eventually went out in 6th place. It sorta went quick after that and before we knew it, action was heads up with chitwood holding the lead.
Heads up chip counts:
Seat 1: chitwood (28307)
Seat 3: hacker59 (18193)
It was fun to watch the heads up battle. Back and forth action. Hacker59 landed the first big blow when he cracked chitwood's Aces with a set of 7's. All in on the flop and Hacker59 doubled up. Chitwood was down to 6K but he got some chips right back when he doubled up with A-A-x-x against Hacker59's K-K-x-x.

Soon after, Chitwood regained the lead. Both players checked a flop of Kc-10-7c. They got it all in on the turn when the Js fell. Chitwood trailed with a set of Jacks and Hacker59 led with a Broadway straight. The river paired the board when the 7h spiked. Chitwood won the pot and never looked back.

On the final hand, both players flopped a straight on a board of 9d-8h-6c. Chitwood had the better end with 10-7. Hacker59 was unfortunately on the bitch-end with 7-5. Chitwood won the pot and Saturdays with Dr. Pauly as Hacker59 finished in second place.
The Money Winners:
1. chitwood - $124
2. hacker59 - $74.40
3. lineside - $49.60
4. Drizztdj - $37.20
5. chrispriceTO - $24.80
Thanks to everyone who played and pimped the event. Thanks to everyone who came out and helped raise a little money. Karma points are coming your way. Congrats to KJ for winning our prop bet. PokerStars matched the $50 so now $100 is going towards the Haiti Fund.

Until next time...

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

Prop Bet for Haiti

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Just a reminder....
Saturdays with Dr. Pauly
$10 PLO
16:20 ET or 4:20pm ET
Password: lostvegas
There's a twist on today's version of Saturdays with Dr. Pauly. I have a "prop bet" for Haiti with KJ.

Here's how he explains it...
As you may know already my parent's native Haiti was hit by a huge earthquake. Over 100,000 are dead and a million are affected by the tragic event. I decided to start raising money for those who are in great needs in Haiti.

Since I know you are really good with prop betting, I decided to make you that offer:

I will donate $50 if you make the final table in Saturday's game. I make the final table, you donate $50. If we both make the final table and the people in Haiti will receive $100 from us.

You take it down and I will donate $125 (or first place prize whichever is highest) on top of the $50. I take it down and you do the same.

I am giving you the guarantee that the money will go to the right people in Haiti! And this will also make it fun for the two of us on Saturday.
I quickly jumped aboard. I'm a degen at heart, but I do have a heart as well.

Although it's not mandatory and this is NOT a charity event, I do encourage anyone who cashes in Saturdays with Dr. Pauly to donate a percentage of their winnings to Haiti Relief. It's the little things we can do to help others that mean the most.

Thanks to KJ for bringing up this prop bet as we try to raise some money for Haiti and get our PLO fix at the same time.

See you at the tables.

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

Friday, January 22, 2010

Rush Poker Review

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Rush Poker is the crack cocaine of online gaming.

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

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I Don't Know Nothing About Birthing Babies, Miss Scarlett

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Butterfly McQueen uttered my favorite line from Gone with the Wind. Why? Because it sums up what I know about the medical profession, the Antebellum South, and about being a parent.

My buddy Otis welcomed his second child into this world. We call him "Dos" because it's a cool nickname. Kinda like Otis. Unfortunately, Otis and his family got shakendown by St. Francis Hospital in South Carolina.

Here's the summary...
Below is a long and detailed account of paying to have my second child delivered at St. Francis Hospital in Greenville, SC. It is a story of broken promises, misinformation, and billing practices that have been reported to state and federal regulators. It serves as a warning to people seeking to self-pay for the cost of having a baby at St. Francis Hospital. No matter what you may be told, no matter what you may pay in advance, no matter how many receipts showing zero balances you have, you will never know when the hospital billing will stop. St. Francis Hospital can charge you whatever it wants to deliver your baby, and it will charge you much more than it promises in advance. Although the healthcare professionals there are magnificent and are beyond reproach, the billing office should give you pause....
Oh my, Otis' story makes me deathly afraid of having children and/or dealing with billing offices in hospitals.

Read the entire nightmare by Otis... St. Francis Hospital: The real cost of having a baby.

Wow, Butterfly McQueen was right. I don't know nothing about birthin babies.

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

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tao of Five: Matt Savage

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Matt Savage during the 2004 WSOP at Binion's Horseshoe
(Photo by Flipchip)

The next installment of Tao of Five features tournament director extraordinaire Matt Savage.

If you don't know, over the last two decades Matt Savage has diligently worked his way up the ladder and has become one of the world's most sought after tournament directors. He's one of the founders of the Tournament Director's Association (TDA) which pushed for uniform rules in poker tournaments. He also made a cameo in Curtis Hanson's film Lucky You (and has the imdb profile to prove it in case you didn't see that poker flick starring Drew Barrymore).

Savage is one of the familiar faces I'll come across in casinos in some of the most exotic places such as Australia and Budapest (I think, my memory is fuzzy -- but it was somewhere in Eastern Europe). He's directed tournaments in so many countries we lost count. He's definitely come a long way from his days growing up in San Jose, CA.

As the story goes, Savage worked in a bowling alley as a teenager and had lofty aspirations about becoming a professional bowler a la Ernie 'Big Ern' McCracken and Pete 'PDW' Weber. Bowling did not have as lucrative career as poker, so Savage soon found himself spending more time in poker rooms than bowling alleys.

In his 20s, Savage worked many different jobs within the poker industry -- which is how he was learned almost every aspect of the business side of poker. He paid his dues as a dealer, moving up to floorman and eventually got a shot at being a tournament director. He finally found a role that he felt most comfortable doing. The rest is history.

Savage witnessed the first ripples of poker boom as the WSOP TD from 2002 to 2004. He was at the helm during the last three years that the WSOP was held downtown at Binion's. He's also served as the TD at Bay 101 and he's currently the TD at the Commerce Casino in LA.

Last year, Savage established an Iron Man tournament at Commerce -- an outrageous event without any breaks in a grueling test of stamina. You could leave the table, but if you left... you were dealt out. Meals were served at the tables and the tournament did not end until the last player was left standing. The Iron Man returns at this year's LA Poker Classic (which begins tomorrow at Commerce... here's the 2010 LAPC schedule).

So, let's get to it. Introducing the Tao of Five with Matt Savage...

Pauly: There are a lot of ghosts wandering around Benny's Bullpen and downtown Las Vegas. Do you have any weird or far out stories from your Horseshoe days?

Matt Savage: Well, there is the famous Hellmuth-Grizzle fight and the time when a drinking Daniel Negreanu harassed Brian Nadell. He ended up getting chased around the cash game section. No punches were thrown, however.

Then there was the time we all watched (from the window) as someone jumped off from the top of the parking garage.

The dealers walked out on me before the start of the 2003 WSOP Main Event, but we were able to talk them into coming back.

Working with Nick, Becky, and Benny meant there was never a dull moment, but I wouldn't trade my time there for anything. I often think the traditions of Binion's Horseshoe will never be replaced.

Pauly: What is your favorite Chainsaw Kessler story?

Matt: For the record... I like Allen Kessler... but he has to be the most confused (and) obsessed individual in the game of poker today. He went from complaining about a $200 limit hold'em tournament structure to (going) completely off the wall when I disputed his claim.

I liked the recent story when (Kessler) busted out of a recent Bellagio tournament before the dinner break and still tried to get the free buffet usually reserved for the players that make the dinner break. As it turns out, they went on break 30 minutes early. Eric "Basebaldy" Baldwin let him know... and he went running towards the buffet crazy eyed!

In the recent New Orleans tournament, he commented early on how much he loved the structure early on, but when he reached the final table the tweets and compliments stopped when the structure turned into a shove fest. Of course, he won (in a 4 way chop) so we knew he could not complain about it.

Pauly: Are you an operative with the CIA conducting renditions? Because only a sadist or someone well-versed in interrogation techniques would come up with the concept of an Iron Man tournament. So what are the true origins of the Iron Man event at Commerce?

Matt: I got tired of players always asking for breaks. The 20 min, 30 min, and dinner breaks on the late starting tournament are ridiculous in my humble opinion. Players need to know that they can miss a hand at anytime during a tournament and probably should walk it off from time to time. It is great to see grown men run back and forth the bathroom after folding their hands. A guard is posted at the bathroom to make sure hands are washed. The test of the human condition is fun to watch.

Pauly: The Day 1D debacle with the 2009 WSOP Main Event (where players were shut out) was a definitely blemish on what was otherwise a smooth WSOP. What would you have done differently?

Matt: Turning players away from the world's largest open event is a bad idea. I would have done whatever it took to get players in -- 10-handed plus alternates if necessary. If they had done that, players would have understood, and those unhappy about it would have forgotten about it by the end of the day. As it is happened, it will be a long time (before it ever gets) forgotten. They had 36 hours to figure out what to do if they had too many players going into day 2b.

At the 2004 WSOP Main Event, we had 10 and even a few 11-handed tables strewn from end to end of Binion's between slot machines and to Fremont street. When players busted, 9-handed tables were restored.

Pauly: Are you ever interested in returning to the WSOP as the TD? Would you consider a position as the next WSOP Commissioner?

Matt: Of course, I loved being at the helm of the WSOP but the position has changed now. Jack Effel is more of an administrator than a traditional Tournament Director. I prefer to be on the floor making decisions with the players. There used to be a Tournament Coordinator position that actually shared the top job with the TD at the WSOP. If they ever brought it back some day, I would be happy to work with Jack Effel.

Knowing that I could handle the job as Commissioner (controlling the WSOP spin) is different than (actually) wanting the job. I fear that (aspect of the job) would take me away from what I like to do and what I am best at... on the floor making decisions.

I am pretty sure the WSOP Commissioner position will be dissolved. Mitch Garber, Jack Effel, and Ty Stewart will do a great job and hopefully stay true to the media.

Thanks to Matt Savage for taking the time out to be a part of the Tao of Five. You can (and should) follow him on Twitter.

Stay tuned for the next installment.

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

Monday, January 18, 2010


By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Two sides of Las Vegas exist. Before midnight and after midnight.

If you've gotten into any sort of trouble in Las Vegas, I can almost guarantee that those hijinks occurred during the midnight through 6am hours. Day time in Las Vegas is vanilla... for sheeple with straight jobs, unadventurous tourists, and elderly retirees waiting to die.

A semblance of order falls over the city during the daylight hours, but something happens once the devious darkness sets anchor and the fiends, ruffians, vampires, and wastrels roam the Strip and take over the city.

Night time in Las Vegas is for the freaks. They own the fuckin' city. As the saying goes... that's when the inmates take over the asylum. The zombies relish the moments when they can roam the streets and the gaming floors. The aliens assimilate easier during the late night hours, much more difficult to spot the shapeshifters after a few cocktails than you could during normal daylight hours.

You really have to engage in outlandishly outrageous behavior in Las Vegas before the local law enforcement types step in and cart you off in handcuffs. The long arm of the law seems to be more forgiving unless your belligerence tests the elasticity of Sin City's rules of conduct before you're greeted by thick-necked casino thugs. Peculiar expressions of civil disobedience are accepted, but once you stumble across the line and act sophomoricly stupid, that's when Big Brother loses patience and quickly sends in the muscle to end your sauced revelry.

I've always had a deep admiration and appreciation for the night shift in Las Vegas. Once your eyes can adjust to the darkness, you finally see the after Midnight hours for what it is... an orgy of opportunity. Poor defenseless Little Red Riding Hood traipsing through the forest is on the verge of being violated by a viciously starved rabid animal and she has not a clue of the impending attack. Don't believe what you read in the book. In real life, she loses her innocence and ends up as dinner.

Most of how you understand life is affects on how you view the difference between night versus day. And I'm not talking about the obvious differences, rather to deeply rooted psychological fuck ups inside of you, a sleeper cell of degeneracy and deviancy that rears its ugly head at 2am. That's the bewitching hour of suspicious activity... maxed-out ATM withdrawals, haggling with working girls, sitting down at a blackjack table when you should be taking a seat at GA meeting.

Any sordid behavior encouraged by the catchy "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" motto is scorned upon in most of the world... stoned to death in some Muslim countries, genitals mutilated in African tribes, shunned by the Mormons in Pennsylvania, tossed into lock up in most Southern states... yet outlandish douchebaggery is universally accepted within the state of Nevada.

Diabolical and crapulous antics are largely ignored by the casino employees who get paid an hourly wage (plus tips) to look the other way and withhold judgment. No one likes to clean up feces and regurgitated steak fajitas off the ceiling of your hotel room's bathroom.... yet some unlucky Guatemalan woman does that every fucking morning on a daily basis. Wonder what sort of hope she has every morning when she reads her horoscope? You think when she goes to Sunday morning mass that she prays to God that she'll have a few easy days of work and not encounter tough-to-remove semen stains on the remote control and alarm clock?

Most Vegas visitors cling to blind faith that "God will look after me" during those lapses in sanity, whether it's tilting at the poker tables and spewing seventeen buy-ins, or getting inebriated on too many Jager Bombs that you lose all control of bodily functions and sucking face with a plastic palm tree in the foyer of a rub and tug joint on Spring Mountain. Maybe you hit the lottery and it's your turn to get rolled by a strung out sex worker because you're too sozzled to get it up and too cocked to notice she lifted your credit cards and bankroll.

Nobody wants to openly admit on Facebook or Twitter that the very last thing you remember is yakking up your breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the walls of the elevator and twitching like a Parkinson's patient on the ground in a violent manner that you scared off the trio of Hells Angels who wanted nothing to do with you. When bad ass bikers with scars the size of yard sticks think you're possessed by a feral spirit... then you know you crossed the line. It's time for a stint in rehab or change in locale.

Perhaps a visit to the Alamo for your next vacation will be less detrimental to your health.

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

The Week in Review: Benjo, the PCA, and the Adult Entertainment Expo

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Tao of Poker published diverse content over the last week or so. We had Benjo's stellar reports from the PCA in the Bahamas and I spent last weekend in Las Vegas covering the AVN AEE aka the porn convention.

Here's an index of coverage on Tao of Poker over the last week or so...
Benjo in the Bahamas, Vol. 1: Dispatches from the Coral Bar
Benjo in the Bahamas, Vol. 2: Dispatches from the Coral Bar
Benjo in the Bahamas, Vol. 3: Dispatches from the Coral Bar

Foreplay: The 2010 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo
The Carnival of Flesh
Fetish Theatre
AVN AEE Photos

Tao of Five with Michael Craig

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

Sunday, January 17, 2010

2010 Golden Globes Odds

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

It's the beginning of self-congratulatory season in Hollyweird. Tonight kicks off the masturbatory award ceremonies with the Golden Globes, which are supposedly doled out by the Hollywood Foreign Press, but we all know it's fuckin' rigged like WWF wrestling from the 1980s. As Seth Myers from SNL remarked, "This is the time of the year when Hollywood allows foreigners to tell them how great they are."

Yes, I'm deep behind enemy lines, just a few blocks from the Golden Globes ceremony which means it's time to bust out the champagne and the blow. Wait a minute, didn't we do that 17 days ago in Miami for New Year's Eve? I'm supposed to be in self-imposed rehab, dammit!

Just in case you were remotely interested in wagering on tonight's outcome (ahem, for you total degens with nothing better to do while folding your life away during the Sunday online tourneys), here's the odds (via in the major categories....
Best Motion Picture - Drama
Avatar 3/2
Inglourious Basterds 15/1
Precious 10/1
The Hurt Locker 5/1
Up In The Air 10/13

Best Motion Picture - Comedy
500 Days Of Summer 3/1
Its Complicated 6/1
Julie & Julia 8/1
Nine 5/7
The Hangover 7/4

Best Director
Clint Eastwood – Invictus 10/1
James Cameron – Avatar 2/1
Jason Reitman – Up In The Air 2/1
Kathryn Bigelow – The Hurt Locker 4/7
Quentin Tarantino – Inglourious Basterds 10/1

Best Actor - Drama
Colin Firth – A Single Man 6/1
George Clooney – Up In The Air 1/1
Jeff Bridges – Crazy Heart 5/4
Morgan Freeman – Invictus 8/1
Tobey Maguire – Brothers 12/1

Best Actor - Comedy
Daniel Day-Lewis – Nine 1/2
Joseph Gordon-Levitt – 500 Days Of Summer 10/1
Matt Damon – The Informant 3/2
Michael Stuhlbarg – A Serious Man 10/1
Robert Downey Jr – Sherlock Holmes 5/1

Best Actress - Drama
Carey Mulligan – An Education 5/4
Emily Blunt – The Young Victoria 15/1
Gabourey Sidibe – Precious 2/1
Helen Mirren – The Last Station 12/1
Sandra Bullock – The Blind Side 3/2

Best Actress - Comedy
Julia Roberts – Duplicity 15/1
Marion Cotillard – Nine 9/2
Meryl Streep – Its Complicated 15/1
Meryl Streep – Julie & Julia 1/5
Sandra Bullock – The Proposal 5/1
I know the screenwriter for 500 Days of Summer, so I'm pulling for that flick to do well across the board. Happy that it was nominated. I saw Up In the Air and that Clooney flick hit too close to home since I spend most of my life on the road living in strange hotels, delayed in airports, and hurtling through the air at 35,000 feet. It's total bullshit that Clooney will probably win for Best Actor considering he wasn't acting a lick and playing himself.

If you didn't know... Meryl Streep is the fuckin' Phil Ivey of acting. She's up for two awards (but in the same category) for two different performances. She's a lock to win Best Actress in a Comedy. Time to parlay that pick with the Vikings and the Chargers.

Best of luck with your wagering today if it's the NFL playoffs, NBA, the Golden Globes... or all three.

And for all you Change100 fans out there, maybe, just maybe, she'll live blog or live tweet tonight's Golden Globe festivities.

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

Saturday, January 16, 2010

2010 LAPC Commerce Schedule

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

If you don't know, the 2010 L.A. Poker Classic starts this Wednesday at Commerce Casino just outside the City of Angels. The LAPC is the second largest series of live poker (second to the WSOP). This year's LAPC includes two WPT events in addition to 51 total events spread out over 43 days. The cash games and side action are so huge that it's tough to find games in Las Vegas when the LAPC is running because all of the grinders can be found at Commerce.

The first event starts Wednesday at 1pm with a $1,000,000 guaranteed NL event. The buy-in is a modest $335 which means I'll be among the oodles of dead money in that tournament. There are four starting days for this opening event and if you bust out one day, you can buy back in the next day for $335.

According to Matt Savage (who is the TD for the LAPC), "Players that buy into the 10K WPT Main Event before the 19th (of February) get into the $200,000 WPT Invitational on the 20th."

This year's new events also include a $25,100 NL High Roller, a
$1,065 No-Limit Hold'em w/ $1,000 Rebuys (including a $1,000,000 guaranteed prize pool), $1,065 PLO with Rebuys, $1,065 Badugi, $1,065 8 Game Mix, and $1,585 Chinese Poker (1/2 High and 1/2 Low).

The popular events will be the $10,000 NL Main Event (defending champ is
Andrew Cornel Cimpan), the WPT Invitiational (Freddy Deeb won last year), $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. (Scotty Nguyen won last year), $10,000 NL Heads Up Championship (Vivek Rajkumar won last year), and $5,100 No Limit Hold'em (Hafiz Khan won kast year).

Of course, the craziest and toughest tournament in poker will be going down at Commerce. The Ironman Tournament returns! The brainchild of Matt Savage, the $2,100 Ironman Tournament has a $10,000 Main Event seat added to the prize pool. The Ironman has no schedule breaks (although you can walk away from the table at anytime to pee, make calls, smoke cigarettes, or take a nap -- but you will be dealt out and your blinds posted and folded). Three meals are served to you at the table (if you last that long). 50% of the total prize pool goes to the winner.

Event #18 $220 NL has a cool concept with two starting days. If you bust out Day 1A, you can buy back in on Day 1B.

Here's the schedule...

2010 LAPC
1/20 - Event #1 $335 NL Day 1A ($1 million guaranteed)
1/21 - Event #1 $335 NL Day 1B ($1 million guaranteed)
1/22 - Event #1 $335 NL Day 1C ($1 million guaranteed)
1/23 - Event #1 $335 NL Day 1D ($1 million guaranteed)
1/24 - Event #2 $335 Limit Hold’em ($100K guaranteed)
1/25 - Event #3 $545 NL
1/25 - Event #4 $335 Seven Card Stud ($50K guaranteed)
1/26 - Event #5 $335 NL Shootout
1/26 - Event #6 $335 Omaha 8
1/27 - Event #7 $545 NL (with $10,000 Main Event seat added)
1/27 - Event #8 $335 Seven Card Stud 8
1/28 - Event #9 $545 Omaha 8
1/29 - Event #10 $545 Six-handed NL ($250K guaranteed)
1/30 - Event #11 $335 NL with rebuys
1/30 - Event #12 $545 H.O.R.S.E.
1/31 - Event #13 $545 NL ($200K guaranteed)
2/1 - Event #14 $335 NL
2/2 - Event #15 $545 Limit Hold’em
2/3 - Event #16 $335 Six-handed NL
2/4 - Event #17 $345 Heads-up NL
2/5 - Event #18 $220 NL Day 1A ($250,000 guaranteed)
2/6 - Event #18 $220 NL Day 1B ($250,000 guaranteed)
2/7 - Event #19 $335 NL Double Stack
2/8 - Event #20 $545 NL Double Stack
2/8 - Event #21 $545 PLO8
2/9 - Event #22 $335 NL
2/9 - Event #23 $545 Omaha 8
2/10 - Event #24 $1,065 NL
2/10 - Event #25 $545 Stud 8
2/11 - Event #26 $545 NL (with 10K Main Event seat added)
2/11 - Event #27 $1,065 Six-handed NL
2/12 - Event #28 $545 Limit Hold’em
2/13 - Event #29 $1,065 NL with rebuys ($1,000,000 guaranteed)
2/14 - Event #30 $335 Knockout NL ($100 per bounty)
2/14 - Event #31 $1,065 Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw
2/15 - Event #32 $1,585 NL
2/15 - Event #33 $1,065 Badugi
2/16 - Event #34 $335 NL
2/16 - Event #35 $1,065 8-Game
2/17 - Event #36 $1,065 H.O.R.S.E.
2/17 - Event #37 $1,585 Chinese Poker
2/18 - Event #38 $1,065 NL
2/18 - Event #39 $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. Championship
2/19 - Event #40 $335 NL Shootout ($100K guaranteed)
2/19 - Event #41 $1,065 Six-handed PLO with rebuys
2/20 - Event #42 WPT Celebrity Invitational
2/21 -Event #43 $2,100 Iron Man NL
2/22 - Event #44 $335 NL ($200,000 guaranteed)
2/22 - Event #45 $3,085 Six-handed NL
2/23 - Event #46 $1,065 NL
2/23 - Event #47 $10,000 Heads-up NL
2/24 - Event #48 $545 NL shootout
2/24 - Event #49 $5,100 NL
2/26 - Event #50 $10,000 WPT NL Main Event Championship
2/28 - Event #51 $25,100 High Roller NL
Most tournaments start at 1pm. On days there are two events scheduled, the second event starts at 4pm.

Click here for the official schedule and tournament structures.

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

2010 Borgata Winter Poker Open Schedule

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

East Coast Grinder rejoice. The Borgata Casino in luxurious Atlantic City, NJ will be the place to be on the East Coast over the next few weeks starting January 20th. The Borgata's annual Winter Poker Open includes the $3,500 NL buy-in Championship Main Event starting January 29 featuring a guaranteed $2 Million prize pool.

With a bunch of $300-350 events there are plenty of affordable option to play. This year's Borgata Winter Poker Open also includes a variety of other events; 6-player short-handed NL, Ladies NL Event, Seniors Event, Deep Stack NL, Limit Hold'em, H.O.S.E. (don't forget Razz is not a sanctioned game in NJ), Seven Card Stud, and Heads Up Double Elimination events.

On-site registration to the events begin today.
2010 Borgata Winter Poker Open Schedule
Jan 20 Event 1 - NL Deepstack $350 + $50
Jan 21 Event 2 - NL $500 + $60
Jan 21 Event 3 - PLO $350 + $50
Jan 22 Event 4 - NL $700 + $70
Jan 22 Event 5 - H.O.S.E. $350 + $50
Jan 23 Event 6 - NL $1,000 + $90
Jan 23 Event 7 - Omaha 8 $350 + $50
Jan 24 Event 8 - NL with Rebuys $300 + $50
Jan 24 Event 9 - NL Ladies $260 + $40
Jan 25 Event 10 - NL Deepstack $500 + $60
Jan 25 Event 11 - Limit Hold'em $300 + $50
Jan 26 Event 12 -NL Six-Handed With Rebuys $400 + $50
Jan 26 Event 13 - Seniors NL $350 + $50
Jan 27 Event 14 - NL With Rebuys ($100,000 Guarantee) $170 + $30
Jan 27 Event 15 - PLO $300 + $50
Jan 28 Event 16 - NL Heads Up $2,000 + $150
Jan 28 Event 17 - NL $300 + $50
Jan 29 Event 18 - NL $1,500 + $125
Jan 29 Event 19 - Omaha 8/Stud 8 $350 + $50
Jan 31 Event 20A - NL Main Event - Day 1A $3,300 + $200
Feb 1 Event 20B - NL Main Event - Day 1B $3,300 + $200
Feb 1 Event 21 - NL $400 + $50
Feb 2 Event 22 - NL $350 + $50
Feb 3 Event 23 - NL $300 + $50
Feb 4 Event 24 - NL With Rebuys $200 + $30
Most tournaments begin at 11am with some starting at noon. Satellites are running at the Borgata running as we speak.

Best of luck to everyone who is playing or considering playing. Visit the Borgata's website for info for securing rooms with a discounted player's rate.

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

Friday, January 15, 2010

Help Haiti and Save Haiti Saturday

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Even I have a glint of light in my cold black heart.

Utter destruction is a word to describe the events in Haiti after an earthquake ripped apart and destroyed the country that's roughly the size of the state of Maryland. With the majority of the governmental infrastructure destroyed in Port Au Prince and the country has plunged into complete anarchy coupled with a humanitarian crisis. Where are all those displaced citizens going to get food and water?

Hospitals are leveled, schools wiped out, and the main prison ripped apart allowing whatever inmates who survived the quake to escape. I sincerely doubt there will be a nation to rebuild. Gangs of machete wielding thugs have taken control of the streets. Opportunists are already hatching plans to seize what little resources the country has to offer. If anything, Haiti as been and always will be a main port for drug smugglers. I fear that situation will only get wore.

I'm most concerned with the events that happen a year or two years from now when all of the media attention has disappeared and another tragedy that captured our fickle attention. Donating money today might make your conscience feel better, but much like the undocumented plight of New Orleans after Katrina, what you do to help in months and years after the fact is even more important than being part of the initial wave of help.

Don't get me wrong, sending money to the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders (aka MSF) is a worthy deed... today... but let's not forget that the fallout from the earthquake is a long-term crisis that cannot be solved so easily by throwing money at it, then forgetting and ignoring it tomorrow. Haiti, much like New Orleans, will need your help and support in the future.

With that said, you should check out how you can donate money to the Red Cross via PokerStars. They will match every dollar raised between now an January 31st. Here's what to do according to PokerStars...
- In the PokerStars lobby, go to Tourney >> Special and enter one of the dummy 'Haiti Earthquake Relief' tournaments listed there. 'Buy-ins' range from $1,000 all the way down to $1. You will not need to play an actual tournament, instead all of the 'entry fees' go straight to the fund.

- Alternatively you can make a private player transfer for any amount to the account 'Haiti Fund'. Go to 'Requests' in the client top menu and select 'Transfer Funds'.
Do what you can to help out. Spread the word. But don't simply give then forget. The people of Haiti will be needing your help for many years to come.

* * * * *

Update: Also, check out an organization that a friend works for... Save Haiti Saturday. Here's their mission statement...

What started out as a grassroots effort by a group of friends from Miami and Haiti has now turned into a collaboration of hundreds of people around the country from all walks of life, all working together for one cause: to save as many lives as humanly possible in earthquake ravaged Haiti.

The morning after the earthquake hit, Dr. Barth Green, co-founder of Project Medishare, was en route to Haiti on a charter plane (made possible through the generosity of Hank Asher) filled with a team of trauma surgeons. Upon their arrival in Haiti, Project Medishare began working closely with Haitian President René Préval to organize all medical teams on the ground to implement a plan to set up field hospitals and triage centers around the capital city of Port au Prince.

The group of friends, with the help of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Neurosurgery staff, has been dispatching medical relief and rescue teams from Miami to Haiti. With the help of Beasley Broadcast Group, Inc., their WQAM radio station, and The Miami HEAT, they have set up drop points where people can go to donate medical supplies, water, food, generators, and other necessities. Upon discussing ideas on how best to set up a fundraiser at a local Miami venue, some of the friends noted that with the huge national outpour of support, a national event would attract more attention, and in turn create more donations to send aid to Haiti. Over the next forty-eight hours the group came up with a concept, devised a plan, and have since launched the website to implement it.

Restaurants, clubs, bars, etc. from across the United States have offered to generously donate a percentage of their revenue for "Save Haiti Saturday" which will be taking place this Saturday, January 16th, 2010. "Save Haiti Saturday" is a nationwide fundraising initiative to benefit Project Medishare for Haiti’s massive medical earthquake relief effort. Each participating business has committed to donating either its door cover charges, a percentage of the food and/or beverage revenue, or a fixed dollar amount. The final decision as to how much each individual venue chooses to donate is completely at their own discretion. The more money we can raise, the more support we can provide to our teams of doctors, nurses, and rescue workers who are working tirelessly and selflessly around the clock, performing surgeries and taking care of the sick and wounded during this most critical time in Haiti. People from all over the Nation, from all walks of life are banding together for "Save Haiti Saturday" to help the earthquake victims during their most desperate time of need.

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

Poker Strategies for Conan O'Brien

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

If you have been avoiding the Haiti plight, then you're probably distracting yourself with the latest battle of late night programming as the NBC suits have divided the talent and pitted Conan O'Brien against Jay Leno. This clusterfuck is spearheaded by NBC chairman Jeff Zucker who is dealing with the PR nightmare and fallout after an attempt to shake up their late night TV lineup... and moving the Tonight Show to 12:05 to accommodate a half hour Jay Leno show at 11:35pm after killing his one-hour prime time show.

I think David Letterman said it best... "The Tonight Show at 12:05am ceases to be the Tonight Show. It's the Tomorrow show." Just another Zuck-up, as one Hollywood insider has been calling the NBC chairman's massive screw-ups. Did you know that Zucker once had Conan arrested for pulling a prank during their Harvard days? Seems like someone could take a joke 25 years ago and still can't today.

The other late night hosts are having a field day with the drama. Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel have not been holding back their disdain for Leno and NBC. Meanwhile the majority of Hollywood stars and geeks/dorks/Gen Xers ruling the social media clubs (Facebook & Twitter) have quickly rallied behind Team Conan.

Conan hasn't backed down. He and his writing staff have been whipping NBC during his opening monologue this week with fiery jokes. At one point, Conan said he's be putting up the Tonight Show set up for sale on Craigslist.

Former Hollywood exec, Change100, wrote a bit on the subject in a post called Team Conan.

I sounded off on the topic (and late night TV in general) in a post titled Naps and Conan.

I came across a bit on Gawker where they suggest Poker Strategies for Team Conan O'Brien. It's an amateur assessment, but it made me chuckle. They offer up tree strategies for Conan called The Shandling Straight, The Fox Flush, and Richter's Wild. Check it out.

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

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Benjo in the Bahamas, Vol. 3: Dispatches from the Coral Bar

Benjo in the Bahamas, Vol. 3: Dispatches from the Coral Bar

Editor's Note: Benjo (the noted French journalist and EPT Live commentator) returns as the Tao of Poker's correspondent at the PCA down in the Bahamas. In case you missed it, check out Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.

* * * * *

Dispatches from the Coral Bar, Vol. 3

By Benjo
Paradise Island, Bahamas

The Coral Bar was in full swing on Monday night... for good reason, since it was the last night on Paradise Island for the majority of people who attended the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. Granted, there was still a handful of tournaments to be completed over the next few days (including the World Cup of Poker and the $25K High-Roller), but the Main Event had found his conclusion, meaning that for the 700+ players who had qualified on PokerStars, it was time to pack up bags, wife & children, and check out of the hotel.

Fittingly, it's the youngest of the eight finalists who took down one of the fastest final tables I ever witnessed. Despite the excellent deep stacked blind structure, it only took seven hours of play to find a winner in the Main Event... 19-year old college drop out Harrison Gimbel from Florida, who will take home the title and first prize of $2,2 million. Play at the final table was exactly what you would have expected from a bunch of twenty-something online kids: nervous, aggressive and relentless. Every year, the PCA serves as an exhibition of tournament poker's new trends, and this year was no exception.

What's in store for 2010? Faster play, more aggression and absolutely no fear. Rarely had I seen so many overbets, river check/raises, squeeze plays and preflop confrontations. Sole representative of the old school among the nerds, 63-year old Card Player Magazine CEO Barry Shulman held his own, reaching third place to bank his second million-dollar win in three months.

Back a few days before, Saturday night was official party time. All tournaments were halted at 10pm so that everyone could attend the PokerStars roast. Due to adverse weather conditions, the event had to be held indoors. Which did not prevented hundreds of players, media reps, off duty dealers and industry types to attend the event. Free booze and food were available, but the party was massively understaffed and long lines quickly formed in front of the stands. It sometimes took up to half an hour to get served. At one point, my friend Regis got fed up waiting. He walked passed the line up to the counter, and reached for a cooler full of beers under the eyes of an indifferent bartender. He came back to me with two cans and handed me one: "There you go. It's faster this way." That's the thing I'll never understand with the service industry on Paradise Island. Every morning I walk pass the Box Office booth on my way to breakfast. Behind the counter are sitting four bored attendants with no customers to serve. Yet when a thousand people want a drink, there isn't more than ten waiters available to satisfy their simple, basic needs.

The main attraction of the party was a live show from Kelly Rowland of Destiny's Child fame, who had played the Charity Event a few days before. The show was either the greatest thing ever, or utter boredom... depending of who you were asking and how many drinks they had. It was a short set, twenty minutes at best. After that, the free booze quickly ran out and party goers were forced to seek obliteration flavors elsewhere. Me and my crew made our way to the Coral Bar, where I might or might not have engaged in illegal lime tossing with a prominent member of the American poker blogging scene. Fear of prosecution from Bahamas authorities prevents me from sparing you any incriminating details, but yes, I won the contest and collected a few bucks in the process. Shortly after, the Coral Bar closed down as well. Our last option was the casino night club, and by that point I was too drunk to head to bed. I happily followed our group to the club where more drinks were served.

All in all, it was a rookie mistake to get heavily intoxicated that night. I had to work early the next day, and should have had a few more hours of sleep. It's one thing to update a tournament with a hangover -- save for a few typos, your readers won't notice the state you're in. It's another thing to do live audio commentary with a shattered voice and a brain impaired by the the most vicious headache. I should have paced myself and drank lots of water the night before, but instead got carried on with the festive vibe, and grabbed every drink that was on offer, also ordering several rounds myself.

As the result, I spent most of Sunday struggling on the microphone, trying my best not to slur my speech and form coherent thoughts about the play going on at the feature table. Fortunately, play went fast and by 7pm, the final table was reached, sending us commentators free. I made the promise to myself never to behave to unprofessionally ever again.

That night, the vibe was more serious inside Atlantis. Most of the players were back to work. In the Coral Bar, the online kids were busy playing the Sunday tournaments on the major websites. Dozens and dozens of laptops scattered among the cocktail tables, massive cheering sections, and relentless multitabling until late: for any observer, the most defining image of what the PCA truly is, year after year. Inside the poker room, the old-school cash-game pros weren't too interested in spending the night in front of their computer. Instead, they were busy playing a very big game comprising a variety of formats at $200/400$ blinds: Pot Limit Omaha, Deuce to Seven Triple Draw, No Limit Single Draw, etc. Among the participants, I recognized Carlos Mortensen, Mike Matusow, Barry Greenstein, Jean-Robert Bellande and Antony Lellouche. A few working girls were lurking around, recognizing the potential value of such lineup. Totaling nine players, the game was booked solid.

"We're mostly playing Deuce to Seven variations, so there shouldn't be more than six players at this table," explained Antony Lellouche. "But a lot of fishes wanted to join as well. Would be a mistake refusing to let them sit."

As a result, no less than three players had to sit out every time a 2/7 game was dealt. Greg Raymer wandered by to say hello. "Sit down, Greg, we'll make it ten-handed for you," quipped Matusow. Unable to join, Roland de Wolfe and Noah Boeken started a Chinese poker game at a table nearby. Frustrated at having to rail this game, Freddy Deeb tried to lure some of the players into rejoining his hotel suite to start a private table. "No rake. I'll deal myself," he offered. Indeed, this wasn't a game to miss for a serious pro. I learned later that the last hand of the night, dealt at 4am, involved a player putting $12,000 before the flop (the maximum amount, since the game was capped) in PLO with Q-4-3-3 double-suited, a hand most players in their right minds wouldn't even limp in with from the small blind. The afro-mentioned player scooped the $48,000 pot by turning a straight, which prompted Matusow to yell, "Tomorrow, it's only PLO!"

When all is said and done, the 2010 edition of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure will remain in the history books as "The one with the shitty weather." The poker memories will fade away, while most players (especially the majority who didn't make any cash during the trip) will remember the incessant wind, cold temperatures, and occasional rain torrents who plagued the week. Stuck inside, tourists didn't have much to do. Perhaps it made it easier for them to realize how grim and fake the place is.

Ironically, the wind calmed down on Tuesday. Finally, the clouds were clearing the way for the sun right around the time hundreds of players were heading for the airport. Me, I got lucky: this twist of fate coincided with my day off. I joined my French poker friends who had rented a speed boat for the day. Our local guides took us ashore. Breaking the waves at fast speed, wind slapping in my face, I felt like I was escaping a golden prison. It took me three trips to the Bahamas to see something else than Paradise Island. We docked on a deserted island far, far away from any activity. A mile-long beach was us, at least for the day. No one in sight. No noise except for the gentle, relaxing sound of the tide.

"When it's time to leave, don't wait for me," I said. "I'm staying here."

Of course, I was joking. I wouldn't last more than three days in a place where Nutella, cigarettes and Internet access aren't widely spread. But still, what a place. I was finally getting a taste of the real Bahamas, the one I had previously only seen on pictures. Our guides flipped burgers on a make shift grill and handed us punch cocktails. After that, I made my way into the forest then on top of a hill. Old memories of Lost episodes were popping in my head. I didn't find any secret hatch. Instead, I found a clear view of the other side of the island. On this side, there was no wind and the clear, turquoise colored water stayed motionless. No beach on the shore, but a cliff instead, quite steep. Ahead, on the horizon, nothing but the ocean. With Antony, we walked down the stairs to a big sea dock.

"Let's dive," I said. Antony wasn't so sure. "This dock is quite high, and the water not very shallow. Besides, how will he climb back on land?"

He had a point, but I wanted to give it a try. The water was too perfect. We jumped, and landed successfully without hurting our feet. We started swimming. For just a few perfect minutes, we were on another planet. Of course, the dream didn't last too long. As Antony had predicted, it was impossible for us to climb back on the sea dock. The sun was setting down. We started screaming for help. I smiled.

"If they don't find us, I'm gonna have to start calling you Wilson."

Benjo is a writer originally from Lille, France. He has been living in London, but is relocating to Paris. If you understand French, you should check out his blog. You can also follow Benjo on Twitter, where he tweets in English.

* * * * *

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

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wednesday Link Dump: RIP Amir Vahedi, McLiar, and Rush's OxyContin

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Sadly, the poker community lost Amir Vahedi when he passed away in Las Vegas this weekend. Cause of death is currently unknown. I don't have too many Amir Vahedi stories, but the 2003 final table made him a household name and a highly recognizable face in poker rooms with his trademarked cigar. The last real conversation I had with Amir entailed how he knocked Jose Canseco out of the Main Event a few years back. I missed all of the details of the hand but he had no problems relaying that info to me. Most pros would have blown me off, but Amir took the time to help me do my job.
Mark Seif posted info about Amir's funeral and services which will be held in California. (

Amy Calistri had some nice things to say about Amir. (Aimlessly Chasing Amy)

I could point you to any post that Shamus writes and it will be a worthy read. But definitely take a peek at An Academic Approach to Poker (Gets Dumbed Down) (Hard-Boiled Poker)

Steve Rosenbloom sounds off on Mark McGwire in Mark McLiar Tries to Tell the Truth. (Rosen Blog)

After a rebel attack in Angola, safety concerns are on everyone's mind as the World Cup comes to South Africa this summer. (Wall Street Journal)

Here's a bit of humor (or humour) from the PCA... Security Alert At PCA As Online Poker Player Escapes Hotel. (Melted Felt)

Rush Limbaugh For OxyContin? The DEA is involved in some heady business involving someone using an image of Russ to pimp online sales of the highly-addictive prescription drug. Let's not forget that good old Rush used to have a penchant for the Oxy. I don't blame him. Those things are like eating deep fried donuts topped in hot chocolate and wrapped in bacon, smothered in cheese, and sprinkled with pixie dust. (The Smoking Gun)

The new issue of Truckin' has been released. It features two stories from yours truly including a piece of fiction titled Tubes Under Sand. (Truckin')

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

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

2010 AVN AEE: Fetish Theatre

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

I snuck into the back of the seminar room and took a seat. The rather ordinary room was filled with a mixture of press and business types. The seminar cost over $135 which kept the riff raff out. The room looked like any other seminar room in Las Vegas with the exception that someone who once won an award for "Best Blowjob" would be giving the keynote address for the entire conference.

My chair was spammed with a free pad (courtesy of Sex Apps) and a menu of seminars that I thumbed through. Although Power & Influence - The Growing Force of Women in Adult Entertainment sounded like a throw-away sociology class at beatnik college in the Midwest.

Former star turned producer Tristan Taormino took the mic and gave a witty and saucy introduction to Sasha Grey.

"She is everything that the mainstream media says does not exist," explained Tristan. "Bright. Ambitious. Intellectual. Artistic. Savvy. Self-possessed. Porn Star. She is the anti-porn feminists' unicorn."

At the age of 21, Sasha Grey acted in over 80 adult films including a stunning crossover role in Steven Soderbergh's The Girlfriend Experience. Very few actresses are able to make a smooth transition into Hollywood, yet Sasha became one of the few exceptions. The last time I saw Sasha Grey, she had a cock the size of a piano leg in her ass. I stumbled upon a captivating gangbang video. Actually, I did a search for it... Sasha Grey piano gangbang... and one of her scenes magically appeared.

Sasha took the stage ten minutes behind schedule and immediately apologized for her raspy voice -- a casualty of a rigorous travel schedule and several days of non-stop interviews. Sasha gave the audience a quick recap of how she broke into the business. She began her path when she was 17 years old and working full time at a restaurant in Northern California. She had also just started college and watched what she referred to "a lot of porn" because she was interested in the industry. She diligently studied the entire industry for seven months. In the meantime, she saved up $7,000 and as soon as she turned 18, she moved to Southern California. She derived the last part of her stage name from an Oscar Wilde book titled The Picture of Dorian Gray. Holy shit... a porn star who reads non-Oprah book club books? She made a name for herself during a scintillating scene in John Stagliano's Fashionistas 2.

"The adult industry was a way to safely to explore my sexuality," Sasha said. "It was a way to change what I was seeing. I was getting off physically, but not getting off intellectually. I wanted to get into the business to change how pornography is perceived."

Sasha expressed her disappointment in the lack of solidarity among her fellow actresses. Female/female relationships in the workplace are always difficult and volatile... especially in the porn world. Sasha explained that the industry and technology has grown so much that it's pushing the talent "more and more apart."

Sasha recently formed her own production company and remarked, "I want to make more erotic and more creative films. The key element missing from adult films today is tonality."

Her keynote speech was over in ten minutes and followed up by a brief Q&A conducted by Tristan Taormino who asked Sasha a couple of prepared questions about kinky sex, effective communication, and getting paid what you're worth as an artist. Once they finished up, I snuck out of the room while everyone gave Sasha a riveting ovation.

* * * * *

The AEE celebrates and showcases the industry which has come a long way since the first ever stag flicks were spliced together post-WWII and sold in the back of trunks from smut peddlers. People love porn. It's not just an American thing, but an international obsession. Adult entertainment transformed into multi-billion dollar industry (exact numbers are unknown) and the yearly revenue generated makes some online poker rooms look like a lemonade stand. The US is actually not the largest market for porn. That honor goes to the Asian countries (Japan, China, and South Korea) that derive revenue from pornography than the US, mainly because openness about all things pertaining to sex is not a culturally accepted norm in some Asian countries. In some twisted way, it's the porn industry (or rather, the easy accessibility to porn and freedom to create it) that drives fundamental Islamists bat shit crazy. One of the justifications behind their Jihad is a rigid view that all forms of porn are obscene, shameful, vulgar, and filthy. And yes, of course it is, but so is reality television -- you just see less flesh.

The serious-looking suits hung out off to the side or in the hallways with their potential clients... well-dressed European, Middle Eastern, and Asian businessmen. At first glance you might mistake them for CES geeks who wandered down the wrong hallway, but the CES geeks were always dragging around multiple laptops and other wheelie luggage through the crowd. The power brokers of the adult entertainment industry were the guys with composed and focused looks on their faces and without the cameras dangling around their necks. They weren't in Vegas to gawk. They were there to seek out investors and distributors. As someone succinctly explained to me, the Persians were funding the films. The Americans in LA were making the films and then distributing them to Asia. The Japanese market was flooded with regional bondage flicks, but their high-volume customers were seeking out films from Flesh Valley over the hills of Hollywood of the "big breasted" and "blonde" variety.

Conventions are always the collision of art and commerce. For every true artist, there are a dozen hustlers out there trying to make a buck and profit off of the exploited fools. I always knew that the porn industry was huge, but it wasn't until I saw the sheer enormity of the elaborate stages from Hustler, Vivid, and Wicked when I realized the amount of money the companies were pumping into the AEE to market their films and promote their stars.

It reminded me of the golden era of the Hollywood studio system in the 1930s and 1940s when the major studios cranked out films in two weeks. The big-named stars were in a dozen films a year, sometimes more. These days, it costs so much and takes too long to create a studio movie from scratch. However, in the porn universe films are being cranked out every day. Sasha Grey has been in an average of 20 films a year and she's just 21.

* * * * *

I returned to the AEE on Saturday morning to beat the rush and get a couple of hours in before the Jets/Bengals playoff game at 1:33pm. Flipchip and the random actresses I spoke to on Friday all agreed that Saturday is a zoo and the worst day of the convention. That's why I went as early as possible -- to avoid the masses. The floor was opened up an hour earlier for press and VIP members. That's the only time to get a chance at interviewing people because once they let the general public inside the room, the aisles quickly clogged up and the lengthy lines started to form. Reminded me of bread lines from old Communist Mother Russia, except guys drunk on vodka are not waiting for food but rather for an autograph and a picture with porn stars who they constantly fantasize about and regularly jerk off to.

At concerts inside the men's toilet, the guys using the stalls were usually snorting hard drugs. I always wondered if the guys in the stalls at the AEE were wanking off? It seemed to suspicious that that many dudes had to take a shit at the same time.

One girl in a jean mini skirt sat on a table and spread her legs. Blinding flashes went off as dozens of horny guys snapped photos. They elbowed each other for position while other guys filmed every second of the peep show with their hand-held video cameras. Most of the time the attendees appeared normal, but every once in a while you came across someone who wasn't altogether there... you know who I'm talking about... the nebbish looking guy with leering eyes of a pedophile.

A blonde in a Catholic school girl outfit tried to get me to buy porn beer coosies. A young guy in his 20s with an L.A. Dodgers hat dragged a blow up doll through the crowd. A Japanese film crew slowly navigated through the crowd while a tiny female presenter stopped people to ask questions. Another busty model offered me a pamphlet on flavored lube. I got caught up in a traffic jam in front of Diamond Foxx's booth as she signed autographs for a group of 60-year old Japanese guys. You could park a motorcycle in her cleavage.

I spent the most time in front of the Girlfriends Films booth across the way from the Beverly Hills plastic surgeons. Two plasma screens flanked the booth and aired the highlights from their high-selling girl-on-girl flicks. They specialize in lesbian porn and I was deeply interested in that genre. I became fond of someone named Prinzzess, who signed an autograph for me and happily answered questions on why she refused traditional porn and engaged exclusively in lesbian films. "I hate men," was her predictable answer.

I stumbled by the booth across the way from the Fleshlights. Wait a sec. Outcall service? Right behind the working girls, were the sex robots and the Bad Girls in 3D. I wondered if Avatar was a bust, would everyone be buzzing about 3D? The future of the porn industry was huddle in that corner. That's when I saw the long white truck trailer with a "Grown and Tow" logo on the front. I investigated and discovered that those guys ran a business that created mobile marijuana grow operations and then they'd drop it off at your house or somewhere in the woods. Talk about one heady set up. We spoke for a while and I tried to see of the Grow and Tow guys wanted to work out some sort of marketing/ad deal with Coventry, my music and Phish blog, which falls under the "grown your own" crowd.

Some how, I made the wrong turn and got caught up in the narrowest aisle and it took ten minutes to squeeze trough the Mardi Gras size crowd that slowly pushed me down the aisle. I passed a couple of the Asian stars from Evil Angel showing off their cookies. Someone dressed up I Dream of Jeannie signed autographs.

A higher percentage of women were in attendance on Saturday, but they were still grossly outnumbered by the dudes. A gaggle of female attendees dressed in lingerie gathered in front of the Bucking Penis. They posed for photos for random guys with cameras. It was sort of their "I'm a porn star" moment because some folks thought they were part of the show. Nope. Just amateurs. I wondered how many women showed up with resumes at the AEE seeking work in this difficult economy?

I passed by a couple of guys in thick accents working out some sort of deal near the Sapphire stripper pole, while CES dorks wandered around in a daze with mouths agape, and stiff erections stifled by their Dockers.

Almost time for kick off, so I bailed as the floor hit an over-saturation point. I took a deep breath and fought the ravenous crowd heading onto the floor as I made my exit but not before a guy in fishnets and a bondage mask barreled by me. On most normal days, uptight citizens call the cops when they witness that sordid and aberrant behavior. But at the AVN AEE, that norm is accepted and customary. Heck, he was one of the more normal people I cam across that day. I surprised he was dragging along a drunk monkey and a Japanese film crew.

* * * * *

Raw Vegas interviewed Sasha Grey.

Check out my NSFW photos of the AVN AEE here.

And don't forget about Flipchip's pics... Day 1 & Day 2 & Day 3.

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

Monday, January 11, 2010

2010 AVN AEE: The Carnival of Flesh

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

I plodded through a sea of slow-walking frustrated geeks tweeting that their iPhones were not getting coverage in the bowels of the Sands convention center. The tech-savvy folks were in town for the annual CES show, yet I was completely lost and unable to find the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo (AEE). I was about to stop for directions when I saw two top-heavy women in latex squeaking down an adjacent hallway. I ditched the geeks and followed the shiny duo.

The AEE is Mecca for porn enthusiasts, a candy store for sex toys practitioners, and heaven on Earth if you get off on being surrounded by your favorite porn stars. The annual event in January attracts people from all facets of the sex industry and from the darkest corners of the world. Fans, vendors, and media descended upon Sin City and soak up the carnival of sex over a three-day weekend and ending with the AVN awards ceremony -- the Oscars for the porn industry.

Fans waited several hours and paid $80 for an up close and personal interaction with the leading stars and starlets in the adult entertainment industry. Some fans paid an extra $20 for VIP access and the privilege to roam the floor an hour before the doors open to the general public. After witnessing the flood of fans and the claustrophobic nature of the convention, I understood why some people paid extra for VIP passes to avoid the masses.

As expected, a large portion of the fan base at the AEE were guys with beer guts and video cameras. The rest of the fans were a mixed bag of veterans, newcomers, casual observers (many of whom were from the CES), and hobbyists.

Female fans made up a tiny percentage of the attendees. A few guys brought along their girlfriends. Just observing their body language, you could tell which girlfriends were enthusiastic about the expo and the ones who were mortified. Some females fans dressed up like working girls and strippers in lace, leather, rubber, latex, and fishnets. They were wanna-be porn stars and attention whores. The AEE was sort of a fantasy camp for them. The rest of the females visiting the AEE were true fans and just like the guys, they wanted to meet their favorite stars and shop for the latest line of sex toys and gadgets.

The largest production companies were strategically camped out near the entrance to the floor. Hustler, Wicked, Vivid, Digital Playground, Evil Angel and Adam & Eve crafted elaborate sets, stages, and booths. Gigantic billboards plugged their hit films, plasma screens ran highlight reels, and images of the stable of stars graced banners and backdrops. Lines wrapped around the large setups as fans patiently waited for photo ops and autographs.

The secondary film companies appeared in the second and third rows. Porn people from Japan (an odd set up with a cute girl in a kimono and two sex dolls) and France had booths in this section. The sex toys were clustered together in the middle like the blowjob guard, Spingasm, Clitoraid, and True Companion dolls. I chatted up a couple of doctors from a well-known Beverly Hills plastic surgery factory. A couple of erotica publishers set up shop and sold books next to a BDSM film distributor. Nina Hartley (the Doyle Brunson of porn stars) recently penned a book and her fans were wrapped around their booth and down the aisle as they waited for Nina to sign her book.

The best independent booth was run by Popeye Wong, an artist from Mexico most known for his pinup artwork. His airbrush paintings looked like actual photographs. His stunning images included a series of fetish eroticartoons.

Popeye was set up near the huge penis which offered free penis rides (the AEE version of electronic bull rides). Sasha Grey held court in front of the penis with a dozen or so film crews following her around and capturing her every move. Of course, Flipchip was hard at work snapping photos of Sasha and the entire scene around the penis.

Booths sold lingerie, other seductive types of clothing (including liquid latex), and "porn make up". One booth specialized in extravagant shades of lipstick and eyeliner that Sephora found too distasteful to sell. Some shades of green are suited for only grandmothers and hookers.

The quality of booths diminished as you walked deeper into the convention floor space and that's where you could find the freak show - the scorpion tank with goth chicks, women with breasts the size of beach balls, and glassy-eyed spinsters deep into bondage. The last few booths were populated by law firms, over-the-hill stars, gay video distributors, and small-timers running webcams out of their garages. Oh, and how could I forget? Poon-Tang menswear and the congregation from XXX Church who were handing out stickers and books saying Jesus Loves Porn Stars.

The prostitution industry was also represented at the AEE. The Mustang Ranch had their own booth populated with real working girls. A few local escort agencies also set up booths, but those were not as elaborate nor appealing as the brightly lit monster-stages at the front. Local strip clubs used the AEE to advertise. Sapphire had a swanky set up with stripper poles but Deja Vu won the prize for most creative booth... they backed up a truck that was transformed into a strippermobile. The back end had see through walls and included a stripper pole, web cam, and benches for lap dances. Once the AEE is over, the Deja Vu strippermobile will hit the road and park in front on their other properties throughout America.

* * * * *

The AEE vets arrived with cameras, some had multiple ones dangling around their necks. The average attendee walked around with a shit-eating grin, a huge boner, and clutching a large shopping bag handed out by the Bang Bros. -- used to horde around the free schwag that vendors handed out for promotional reasons. Scantily clad women working the booths tossed DVD samplers, postcards, pens, and whatever into the bags.

I didn't collect too many things on the first day aside from an autograph for my brother by a starlet who spelled his name wrong. I was simply observing, taking notes, and snapping photos. I collected a couple of business cards from vendors and one guy gave me a sample of his "natural" form of Viagra. He dubbed it a sexual amplifier. I wondered how much I could sell those pills on Phish tour.

Two models dressed up like angels breezed by. They were promoting Bluebird films around the corner from the Fleshlights otherwise known as "pocket pussies" or "sex in a can" that were in the shape of large flashlights. You put your penis inside the cylinder through the semi-realistic replication of a woman's vagina. Some of them were modeled after real porn stars. You could also purchase replications of mouths and butts. Every time I walked past the booth, one of the models would stick out one of the Fleshlights.

"Would you like to try it out?"

"Right here? In front of everyone with my... um...."

"Not with your little pal," she said pointing below the belt, "Try it with your finger."

You don't want to offend a beautiful woman waving a pocket pussy in your face, so you have to show some sort of elated response as you slide your finger inside but at the same time you have to be careful and not look too aroused. That might disgust her and she'll beat you senseless the other sample fleshlights.

* * * * *

I turned the corner and bumped into Tom Byron. He was one of the few male adult stars at the convention with his own booth. He's also swinging a paint can between his legs that can also punch holes into drywall.

"Nice dick," I said, unable to come up with anything more creative.

"Thanks," said Byron.

"Bet you get that a lot. Huh?"

"Every... single... day."

I met a jaded vet and the best people to give you the straight dope because they don't care anymore. We made a bit more small talk. He went from being an actor grinding out scene after scene to the head of his own production company with a stable of nubile fillies. He's a self-made entrepreneur in the industry who worked his way up the voracious food chain.

"Don't trust anyone and believe in yourself," Byron said was part of his keys to success. Simple yet fundamentally astute advice for any enterprise whether it's the financial sector, poker, or pornography.

* * * * *

Timing is everything. A year ago, Lisa Ann was just one of thousands of other unknowns in the consortium of actresses in the world of porn. Enter Sarah Palin, the former Governor of Alaska, who got the unexpected nod as John McCain's running mate. Lisa Ann threw on a pair of glasses and all of a sudden she was the porn-doppelganger of Sarah Palin. And just like Palin, she became an instant star with her exquisite work in Nalin Palin. And who said porn and politics don't mix?

Nalin Palin star Lisa Ann

Look-a-likes are always a bonus in the adult entertainment industry. There's no coincidence that some of the more popular stars resembled Hollywood actresses. For some reason, Alexis Texas gave off a Reese Witherspoon vibe. That "girl next door" look caters to a proportion of porn viewers who are turned off by the watermelon sized boobs.

Alexis effectively worked the crowd. I suspected she was on something... good. Because she was feisty and bubbly and really have fun when she posed for pictures with guys. She gave a mini show every time a new fan stepped up on stage and unleashed a few pole dance moves and a booty dance as she proudly displayed her luscious assets.

Some of the actresses are noticeably not into the autograph sessions. They are exhausted and drained. Others don't mesh too well with the public and are fighting every bit of social anxiety. And some are handling such a high volume of requests that it's impossible to fool around with the fans. But Alexis? She enjoyed every second of the spotlight. Boundless energy. Always smiling. If she was my favorite star and I waited twenty minutes in line for a photo, I'd be super pumped because she was super excited to meet me. Then again, maybe it was the ecstasy pumping through her blood system?

It's no secret that many of the people involved in the adult entertainment industry dabble into recreational drugs. I was on the prowl for pharmies and I could easily tell which stars were on the sauce and which ones were sober. For the most part, all of the big named stars and the ones who worked for the big companies were in control -- meaning I couldn't tell. Either they were sober or were experts at hiding it. There were a few exceptions. The ones jumping up and down were obviously rolling their tits off on ecstasy. But as one actress mentioned, it allowed her to do her job, "I'm uncomfortable with the huge crowds. The E lets me to talk because I'm too shy. It's hard for me to met people. I'm too scared."

When you went to the back of the floor space, you would notice the bottom feeders of the industry. They tended to be stereotypically fucked up. Lots of running noses, sniffles, actresses scratching themselves. Those were the ones I asked if they were holding. None of them had what I wanted. Everyone had blow, yet I was in search of Adderall. One goth-looking chick with tattoo of a penis on her arm accused me of being a DEA agent. Heh. Far from it.

I finally thought I hit the motherload but it was a false alarm. One of the models working a sex toys booth thought that I was a dealer and called over her friend.

"This guy has Adderall! I'll buy everything you have!" she squealed.

I had to politely tell her that I was not a seller, rather a buyer. At that point, it was time for the keynote address with Sasha Grey. I left the convention floor and went in search of the seminar room. I didn't know if I needed to sign up or pay to attend Sasha's seminar, but I had a press badge and had no qualms about crashing or sneaking in if I had to.

To be continued...

* * * * *

Check out my NSFW photos of the AVN AEE here.

And don't forget about Flipchip's pics... Day 1 & Day 2 & Day 3.

If you like my writing, then I suggest you buy my book... Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers, and the World Series of Poker

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