Monday, May 31, 2010

New Tao of Pokerati WSOP Episodes: Universal Tech Tilt and Ty Sweat

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

After skipping out on the Day 2 festivities, Michalski arrived in the early evening on Day 3. We recorded two long-winded lengthy podcasts for your listening pleasure. And lengthy for us means five minutes.
Episode 6: Universal Tech Tilt - It seems as those tech issues have been plaguing the poker media from Poker News to the Tao of Pokerati. Michalski quizzes Pauly about what really goes on behind the scenes at Poker News.

Episode 7: Ty Sweat - While brainstorming for future episodes of Tao of Pokerati, we encounter WSOP VP Ty Stewart, who is returning to the Rio around Midnight to keep an eye on a potential disaster, as he sweats the thinning field in the last level of Day 1B of the $1k Donkulus.
Listen to more episodes at the Tao of Pokerati Archives.

2010 WSOP Day 3: Scandi Mafia and Donkulus' Comet

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

65 million years ago, a comet or asteroid crashed into the Yucatan Peninsula. The immediate explosion and ensuing fallout killed off the dinosaurs and 90% of all life on Earth was wiped out.

65,002,010 years later, the poker world almost witnessed another mass extinction event -- decimation of the equus africanus asinus species.

Disaster loomed late on Day 1A in the $1,000 buy-in Donkulus. The bloodshed was so fierce and rapid on Day 1A that a mere 279 souls (out of 2,601) were left standing in the killing fields. When the field got under 420 players, some of the staff were concerned about the speedy pace of eliminations would affect the money bubble because they really couldn't determine how many runners would show up on Day 1B. The decision was made to play out the scheduled 10 levels.

In hindsight, WSOP officials admitted that they made a mistake and the right thing would have been to stop play on Day 1A around 350 or so players to give them a cushion. Before the re-start of the 50K Players Championship, several members of the Players Advisory Council were a part of an impromptu meeting with WSOP VP Ty Stewart and TD Jack Effel. They consulted a semi-circle of pros (Erick Lindgren, Jen Harman, Barry Greenstein, Phil Hellmuth, and Doyle Brunson) on what they should do in the Donkulus.

The gaunt field of 1,744 on Day 2 worried the bean counters. Did the Memorial Day holiday weekend negatively affect numbers? Did all of the online pros play on Day 1A and skip Day 1B so they can sit at home and grind the Sunday tournaments? Where there simply too many running of the equus africanus asinuses, with six different Dokulus events and a score of $1,500 Donkaments on the 2010 schedule? The truth lies somewhere scattered among those answers.

After the end of the second level on Day 1B, it was evident that numbers fell way short of expectations. Savvy members of the media picked up on the potential cataclysm. Twitter was soon ablaze of the situation, while the knitting circles on different forums went ballistic.

The discovery of the Donkulus dilemma was sort of like a bunch of astronomers huddled underneath a telescope tracking an asteroid the size of Rhode Island with a trajectory headed toward the Earth. Once the news broke, authorities hoped to contain the news. The last thing they wanted was a bunch of religious freaks committing ritualistic mass suicide wearing online poker schwag and Nikes.

The top 441 players in the Donkulus would win prize money out of the total field of 4,345. That meant the magic number was 165, a number that two different staff members told me was the point where they have to pull the plug. 165 players or 10 levels -- whichever came first.

"I don't think we're going to hit that number," said assistant TD Steve Frezer, "but it might come close.We're gonna be sweating this to the end."

Even Ty Stewart returned to the Rio shortly before midnight to monitor the end of the night in person. Many of the Harrah's and WSOP bigwigs made cameos inside the Pavilion, which told me that this was more serious than I thought. There was a slim chance that 90% of the field would be eradicated because anything can happen on the killing floor.

The media was eagerly awaiting the calamity, because the new drama was a welcome respite from the tepid events in the 50K and the tedium of constantly refreshing an uncooperative Poker News website. For a third day in a row, the languishing coverage pissed off a lot of people on all levels of the industry. On one hand, how can you complain about a free service? On the other, how could you not have your shit together for the biggest event of the year?

My trusted source in Vilnius told me that the Lithuanian IT department installed two new wheels of hamsters and upgraded another server to a rabbit. By the end of the week, the rest of the hamsters will be euthanized and replaced by an unknown marsupial that The G found in one of the Asian groceries on Spring Mountain.

One of the staff members told me that this near miss will not happen again, because they will be instituting a 15% rule whereby multi-flight events in future donkaments will not shed more than 15% of the field in a given flight. But what didn't they make that decision on Day 1A? Then they wouldn't have had to sweat the slaughter on Day 1B.

Once unnamed source suggested that the number of runners in the first Donkulus were 25% less than original estimated figures. Ty Stewart said that he expected 4,500 runners for the first $1,000 buy-in event, and somewhere between 4,500 and 5,000 in subsequent events.

Action slowed down significantly during the final level. Day 1B ended with 200 or so runners, well over the 165 panic number. Disaster averted. The comet missed us by thismuch.

* * * * *

Bouncin' Round the Room on Day 3...

Snoopy told me that he encountered a rookie dealer in one of the NL cash games inside the Pavilion. "He was so bad that he got cards thrown in his face on the third hand," explained Snoopy. "That's when he whispered to me that this was his first day on the job." Every year you hear players bitching about dealers because it's one of their favorite past times. However, this year seems to have an extraordinary amount of lackluster dealers. On a positive note, history tends to repeat itself and by the second or third week, the shitty ones get fired, quit, or improve.

Event #2 $50K Players Championship: Maridu spent most of the day on the rail of the 50K sweating her boyfriend, David Baker. The Brazilian Team PokerStars Pro was bummed out that she had to fly to Lima, Peru on Monday morning for the LAPT instead of staying behind and cheering him on to the (eventual) final table. Despite the scheduling conflict with the last minute addition of LAPT Peru, she had no choice but to head to South America for a week. Meanwhile, Baker was among the 21 players (out of 54) who advanced to Day 4. Only the top 16 pay out in this event.

With four tables to go, the Scandi Mafia appeared on the rail. That's the nickname that Benjo gave Thor Hansen, Gus Hansen, and Martin De Knijff. They each represented the triumvirate of Scandinavia -- Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. Everyone knows that Thor is the Godfather. De Knijff and Thor are big time money men who put shitloads of Euros and Greenbacks on the streets staking the spectrum of players from teenage wunderkinds to seasoned Euro lagtards. De Knijff paced back and forth on the rail while sweating his horse Mikael Thuritz.

Gus Hansen's motivation to hang out on the rail had little to do with financial investment -- he was looking to get laid. The Great Dane flirted, diddled, and seduced one vixen who sauntered by. Sweet Jesus, Gus Hansen has laid so much pipe in the last five years that BP should hire him to plug the hole in the Gulf of Mexico with his cock.

Cliche of the Day: After advancing to Day 2 of the Donkulus, Men the Master posed for photos in the hallway in front of the Pavilion for a gaggle of frat boys. He hammed it up and screeched "All you can eat, babeeeeeee!"

WSOP Link Dump: Welcome to America, Banned for Life, Kara Scott Photoshop Hijinks, and Tweets of the Day

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Happy Memorial Day. Here's a few things of note to enhance your holiday...
I don't have to tell you (again) that Snoopy is a fucking fantastic writer. Go see for yourself in his latest post... Welcome to America; Let the Instituionalising Begin (Black Belt Poker)

We really cannot confirm if Benjo is really a kick-ass scribe or if he's a hack since we don't read French. Well, we can read French, we just don't understand it. Anyway, Benjo describes the American experience as a Frenchman wandering the aisles of Walmart at 7am. If you can't read French, then get off your lazy ass and Babelfish a translation. (Vegas, Off the Record)

Los Hombres aka the Entities have jumped on the podcast bandwagon. Their first episode includes special guests Seth Palansky and Erik Lindgren. (Wicked Chops Poker)

Author Michael Craig reveals how you get banned for life from the WSOP. (Full Tilt Poker Blog)

Jess Welman's Top Tweets of the Day has become one of my favorite daily WSOP stops. (Bluff)

Three cheers to the Poker Grump, who snagged a paparazzi-style shot of two Tao favorites: Kara Scott and Maridu. Hot chicks and Vespas are like peas and carrots.(Poker Grump)

Speaking of Kara Scott, she's the subject of another 2+2 photoshop exhibition. BJ originally took the photo of Kara and Chainsaw on Day 1a of the donkulus. (2+2)

Shamus shares his thoughts about the donkulus in The Grand Games. (Hard-Boiled Poker)

Don't forget you can follow me on Twitter (@taopauly).
That's it. NGTFOOMO!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

New Tao of Pokerati WSOP Episodes: Pooling Resources, Late Fees and Gunfire, and Lesbian Kisses

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

We're back for three more episodes of the shortest poker podcast on the internets. Michalski and I recorded the first two on Day 1. Episode #5 was recorded very late on Day 2 and features the return of Benjo to Tao of Pokerati.
Episode 3: Pooling Resources - Michalski and I take our show outdoors... to the Rio's pool. We riff on a few subjects including a big meeting that we had just finished.

Episode 4: Late Fees and Gunfire - I gave Michalski shit for showing up late to things and for being a lazy ass uploading Tao of Pokerati episodes. We agreed on a $50 late fee/fine for every time he's tardy and we discussed what worthy cause should get the said fines.

Episode 5: Lesbian Kisses (featuring Benjo) - Benjo and I killed time in the press box by watching lesbian kissing videos on YouTube. We offered up analysis and play-by-play while pondering a future as professional lesbian kissing video commentators. Alas, there was a sudden and unexpected twist at the end of one of the videos that left everyone in the press box aghast (see video below)...

Check out the Tao of Pokerati Archives.

2010 WSOP Day 2: Not So Easy Rider

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

The PokerNews Server

I obtained a photograph of the Poker News server which might have explained all of the snafus over the last 48 hours. The official WSOP live updates page crashed more times to count due to a crush of traffic. You would think that the tech guys would have been better prepared for the WSOP spike. Alas, it was not the case.

If someone is to blame, it's Arvidas.

Arvidas lived in three-room Soviet-era cold-water flat in the slums of Vilnus, with his crazy Uncle Igor who listened to Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 continuously on a scratchy vinyl record that always skips halfway through the movement. The old man screamed every time the record skip. Arvidas' tiny bedroom was sparsely populated with a yellowed and frayed Bon Jovi poster and a couple of books scattered on the floor next to a ratty mattress and an ashtray with a mound of old butts.

Arvidas was passed out on the floor with his clothes on. In one arm he was clutching an empty bottle of vodka, and in the other, he was holding a small wheel of moldy cheese. The phone in the kitchen was ringing nonstop only drowned out every ten minutes or so when his crazy uncle wailed when his record skipped.

Arvidas eventually woke up when he had to piss and puke, but with the puking part took precedent. He woke up in the middle of puking on himself. He raced down the hallway into the communal bathroom. When he returned to his dilapidated flat, he noticed that the hamster had stopped moving.

"Shit, how long has it been?"

Arvidas had a simple job... feed the hamster pieces of cheese every 108 minutes... but he always seemed to fuck it up. He broke off a chunk of cheese and the hamster devoured it. The wheels began moving and his computers were turned back on. Arvidas was the CEO of a high tech firm which he ran out of his three-room flat. The kitchen table was his office and the servers he monitored were located underneath the squeaky table. The hamster in the wheel kept everything running... as long as he was fed.

Arvidas fucked up. And it wasn't the first time. He reluctantly answered the phone, because he knew who was on the other line and the thought made him sicker.

"What the fuck, mate?" shouted The G.

"Sorry," said Arvidas.

"Sorry? You're making me look like an asshole. I have millions of blood-thirsty poker fans who need to know Chau Giang's chip count. What the fuck is wrong with you? This is the World Series of Poker. I told you that we're gonna need extra fire powah. Didn't you buy extra cheese and hamsters like I told you?"

Arvidas spent The G's money on cheese and vodka instead of cheese and hamsters. He figured that one hamster could do the job and made one crucial error when he underestimated the heavy traffic during the first two days of the WSOP.

"There was cheese strike in France," lied Arvidas. "No cheese until tomorrow. Hamsters are hard to find. Very expensive. You have to send me more money. 10 litas should cover it."

"You will feel the wrath of my powah if you don't get more hamsters running in an hour."

Avidas did not want to end up a floater in the Neris river. The reason he got his job in the first place was because the former tech guy washed up on the banks of the Neris with cement block chained around his slashed neck and a hamster stuffed into his duct-taped mouth.

Over at the Rio, the live coverage team was on mega-tech tilt with the site going down. They couldn't contact the Lithuanians and had no idea that Arvidas embezzled out of The G's WSOP budget. He bought booze, went on a bender, passed out, puked himself, then kick-started the servers. The perplexed reporters were helpless until Arvidas' hamster restored everything.

"How fucking hard is it to feed the hamster every 108 minutes?" wondered one Poker News reporter who wished to remain anonymous.

One of the bigger ups at Poker News got called into the principal's office. He/she got an earful from Harrah's and WSOP execs about the servers going down, but assured them that The G is throwing money at the problem to fix it.

I hear there's lots of holes in the Lithuanian forests.

* * * * *

Bouncin' Round the Room on Day 2...

Event #1: The first bracelet of the 2010 WSOP was awarded in the Casino Employees event. I didn't watch the final table, but Hoai Pham won the first bracelet. It was going on in one of the far corners of the Amazon Ballroom, and ran virtually unnoticed to both spectators and media who were bogged down following the superstars in the 50K Players Championship. You could occasionally hear a smattering of applause from the other side of the room in what will end up being the least watched final table of the 2010 WSOP. See Fipchip's winner's photo for Event #1 Hoai Pham.

Event #3: Former WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack wasn't thrilled when the media referred to the $1,500 events as donkaments, even though that's the common vernacular for a $1,500 WSOP event. Last year, I referred to the $1,000 stimulus as the donkulous. I wrote a post about it called Nostrum Donkulus. This year, there's not just one "reduced" admission event... but six events costing $1,000. Due to the over saturation of donkulus events, the first one this year will not attract 7,000 runners as originally anticipated because only 2,601 showed up on Day 1A. Those degens in the media are prop betting on whether or not the Sunday flight will attract 3,000 or more.

Event #2: 110 players began Day 2 of the $50,000 8-Game Mixed Players' Championship, and only 54 advanced to Day 3. The money bubble probably won't break until Day 4 since the top 16 places pay out prize money in this event spread out over five days. Kirk Morrison ended the day as the chip leader with Scandi superhero Erik123 and Nick Schulman not far behind.

For the first part of the afternoon, many of the players were fixated on the NBA playoffs. The Lakers/Suns. Game 6. The Lakers were getting 1.5 points, and I thought it was a lock, along with a few pros who also bet on the Lakers. On breaks, players huddled around TVs. During play, players strained their necks to watch the game on the closest screen in between folding hands.

The weekends attract the lowest of the gene pool who often consume liquor at staggering rates. One of these yokels stood on the rail and pointed at Scotty Nguyen while nudging his friend with an elbow. "See there, that's Scotty Chan!" Only in Vegas.

Hellmuth's table had the most railbirds. The drunken harlots from Day 1 returned to sweat Jason Mercier. He doesn't know them, but they kept clawing at him from the rail. "Every horndog in the Amazon Ballroom is hitting on them," mentioned one of my colleagues.

I spotted Archie Karas as he wandered around the Amazon Ballroom holding an empty water bottle.

Cliche of the Day: David Benyamine eating McDonalds before the re-start of Day 2. "You know I love Benyamine," explained Benjo, "but he lives in a city with In-N-Out and he still opts for fucking McDonalds?"

Quote of the Day: "Breaking another table. Such is life and the bane of my existence." - Dealer to floor guy during the 50K.

WSOP Link Dump: Outside the WSOP, durrrr Interview, AsianSpa, BJ Photos, and Amarillo Slim QOTD

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Enjoy a couple of these tidbits for the Sunday morning WSOP link dump...
To start off, if you're not following Kevin Mathers daily posts on Pokerati titled (Way) Outside the WSOP, then you're gonna be outta the loop. (Pokerati)

BJ Nemeth is one of the WSOP's official photographers and he's roaming both ballrooms trying to capture the action. Check out some of his amazing work. (

Snoopy is one of my favorite writers. Heck, I'm a fan of all of the Brits, but Snoopy is one of a kind. He recently snagged an interview with Tom "durrrr" Dwan. (Black Belt Poker)

Girls on the Rail returns to the WSOP. This is the highlights of my summer. In this installment, I happen to know this particular cutie... (Wicked Chops Poker)

Nolan Dalla penned a piece about players' initial reaction to the Pavilion when they saw it for the first time. Amarillo Slim's quote is the best... "This is the biggest (fucking) room I've ever seen." (

Seriously, why haven't you bought your own Benjo Booshit! shirt? All proceeds go to cover our In-N-Out Burger tab for the summer. Buy here. (Cafe Press, Tao of Poker)
Don't forget you can follow me on Twitter (@taopauly) for random updates throughout the day.

Stay tuned for a full recap of Day 2.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

New Tao of Pokerati WSOP Episodes: Amazon Reunion and the Big Room

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

We finally uploaded the first two episodes of your favorite WSOP podcast, which is the quickest on the intetubes. On Day Zero, Michalski and I stopped by the Rio to pick up our credentials. We surveyed the scene and recorded two episodes.
Episode #1: Amazon Reunion - Michalski and I snuck into the Amazon Room while WSOP preparations were still being made for the 2010 WSOP.

Episode #2: Big Room - We wandered over to the Pavilion area where the satellites and cash games are currently running in addition to where most of Day 1s will be played out.
Check out the Tao of Pokerati Archives.

2010 WSOP Day 1: The Cold Open

By Pauly
Las Vegas

For some reason, I can recite the opening sentences to many of my favorite novels...
"The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new." - Murphy by Samuel Beckett

"I am a sick man... I am a spiteful man." - Notes from the Underground by Dostoevsky

"A screaming comes across the sky." Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

"Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting." - The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins." - Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Those were just five lines off the top of my head. Even if you haven't read Charles Dickens, you probably know that one of his novels, A Tale of Two Cities starts off with... "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." But not too many of you know the rest of the opening line...
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair."
Dickens could be writing about Las Vegas and the crossroad that the poker industry has reached at the onset of the 2010 World Series of Poker. But isn't that the case every year? Some hopes fulfilled, most dreams crushed.

Day 1 should have been a bright day celebrating the beginning of the summer poker festivities, including Day 1 of the prestigious Players Championship in Event #2 $50,000 8-Game Mix. However, most of the whispers and gossip originating in the shadows of the Amazon ballroom involved the potential appearance (or omission) of Jesus Ferguson and Howard Lederer in the 50K. Neither of the two, rumored to be on the DOJ's most wanted list, had showed up during the opening levels. The 50K event started at 5pm, and players went on a dinner break after two levels or around 8:30 or so. Both Jesus and Lederer took advantage of late registration policy and stealthily joined the field after dinner.

NASCAR is popular because so many of the spectators are hoping for a wreck. And I know some people at home (even a few news-thirsty outlets inside the Rio) who were kinda hoping that the DOJ would execute a COPS-like sensationalized raid by the federales in SWAT gear. I had some friends who wanted to bet whether or not the DOJ drags out some of the Full Tilters out in handcuffs in the longest perp walk in history down the lengthy hallway of the Rio's convention center while everyone channels their inner Scorsese and chasing the frenzied mob.

Photo by Matt Waldron
Lederer: "I'm not worried. I'm playing poker, a game of skill. Besides, I just hired Alan Dershowitz as my counsel."

The G: "Whatever mate. They don't let you ride tricycles in prison. Umm... massage girl, can you rub my buttocks now?"
In case you were wondering, the DOJ were absent on Day 1... at least, no known agents. Who knows which folks on the rail could have been spies or undercover agents? That sort of uncertainty has to make everyone involved a tad paranoid.

In America these days... you just don't know who you can trust. Which one of your friends, family or co-workers is going to rat you out for your political leanings or proclivities to hobbies that involve offshore bank accounts. So, you never know who's working for the DOJ, FBI, IRS, CIA -- which is why you should be suspicious of everyone you meet.

Shit, whenever I go to Latin America to cover a tournament, someone invariably accuses me of working for the CIA... because reporters, writers, journalists are perfect covers for spies because they can ask lots of questions, interview people, collect data, snap video and photos without anyone questioning their intentions. That fact makes me even more paranoid that there's like a 17% chance that someone in the media is not who they claim to be. Just the other day, one of my colleagues thinks that someone broke into his apartment and bugged it. I told him he was just experiencing paranoid hallucinations from his speed addiction, but he felt otherwise.

Maybe he's right? I'm gonna be looking over my shoulder all the time now. As the Nirvana song says (as I quoted dozens of times before)... just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not after you.

* * * * *

Bouncin' Round the Room on Day 1...

I could write something about the lack of respect for Event #1 Casino Employees event, but whatever I say won't be as good as what I wrote last year. Check out... No Respect.

The "inaugural" $50,000 Mixed 8-Game Players Championship drew 116 players. Only 6 busted on the first day which included durrrr and Dan Shak, who took down Gigli honors. My anonymous source at Harrah's said that 118 runners were predicted by WSOP staff. How the hell did they come up with that number? And holy shit that was close. I had won a bet that the field would be under 150. In a different wager, I had picked 141 in one prop bet and I'm think that was a pretty retarded thing to do. Numbers fell way below the average media rep's expectations for a televised event. And technically, the numbers fell below the WSOP's original estimation.

Doyle Brunson kicked off Event #2 with "Shuffle up and deal" honors, but not before the WSOP aired a short tribute film to Chip Reese that was bookended by clips from interviews taken from what looked like almost a decade ago. One of Reese's comments stood out -- something to the effect that all poker players are living on the edge and they feel the pain of losing even if it's at lower stakes. Brunson also reiterated that Reese was the best player he ever played against. David Bach, the defending Players Champion (who had won $50K HORSE last summer in a marathon final table), only said a few words and said that it was a true honor to have his name engraved on his trophy.

Ivey paying more attention to the NBA playoffs
(Photo by Matt Waldron)

A couple of degen bettors had their eyes on the NBA playoff game between Orlando and Boston. Matt Waldron mentioned that old Texas Dolly looked super pissed when Orlando was down by a lot in the first half. Meanwhile, Ivey kept his crazy eyes on the score. I couldn't tell which side he had. Once the game ended, both players seemed more relaxed like they could finally focus on playing poker.

One table in the 50K Mixed 8-Game had marked cards that were pulled out of play. My source revealed that the 2,3, and 7 cards were the ones specifically marked (for Deuce to Seven, obviously someone was seeking an edge). Note to players... if you think the deck is marked, politely inform the dealer who will notify the floor.

1am on Friday is when the freaks come out to play. A whiskey tango drunken chick in tight white shorts was seated on a chair on the rail in between two of the corner tables. She had been making cat calls at Jason Mercier. She even yelled over to Phil Hellmuth's table a few times. When the evening ended, Benjo and I spotted a multiple bracelet winner chatting up one of the whiskey tango girls' soused friends.

I saw the Devil on the rail at 2am. If you don't know, a guy that Otis swears is the devil torments him every summer. He usually wore a black leather jacket and had long hair. He could have been Jesus' brother, except that the Devil was clean shaven. Anyway, I hid my press badge and embedded myself with railbirds. I tried to get within ear shot of the Devil as he chatted with a plump guy in a Hawaiian shirt. They were discussing staking/baking deals before their conversation veered off into environmental disasters and the huge oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. At that point, I was convinced that the Devil was the one who caused the leak so I said a Hail Mary in Latin and got the hell out of there.

After I evaded the Devil, the next spot I stood on the rail reeked like potent marijuana. Good shit too of the Northern California medicinal variety. I wondered if the batch belonged to one of the players. I knew it wasn't me, but I couldn't pinpoint which railbird was holding. Benjo smelled the same thing and he informed Change100, who quickly launched her own investigation. She quickly fingered the culprit -- a dude wearing a Bob Marley t-shirt. Cliches are funny, until they get arrested for fulfilling said cliche, and then it becomes sad and ironic.

I took a couple of random twit pics, including the stage in the Pavilion that is housing the newly designed bracelets. Here's a photo that Flipchip took...

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter (@taopauly).

WSOP Link Dump: NAPT/Venetian Split, Victory Poker, Fake Names on UB Super User List, and Beer Pong Video

By Pauly
Las Vegas

Welcome to the WSOP early morning link dump. I was debating on what would be the best time for this daily dump of WSOP-heavy links. After careful consideration, I came upon 7:20am ET as an appropriate target time for folks on the east coast checking in on the Tao of Poker with their morning coffee, and the 4:20am time on the left coast is perfect for California stoners, insomniacs, and anyone in Las Vegas still up. And, I'm also keeping in mind the Tao's European readers, who will be enjoying the daily WSOP link dump during their lunch break.

Without further ado...
I give Michalski tons of shit for never writing anything longer than 300 words. Well, he finally made me eat my guff. Check out part 1 of his multi-part series... NAPT, Venetian Part Ways over Row in Carson City. (Pokerati)

This is not WSOP-related but more falls along the murky gender line in poker. Ladies, here's what Victory Poker thinks of you is an eloquent piece by Change100. (Pot Committed)

UB Super Account List... is supposedly coming. I actually chatted with Joe Sebok about the list and he said they will be naming names. (Wicked Chops Poker)

More related news on the UB Super User list... Haley's been working nonstop on the scandal and she's unearthed 10 fake names on the supposed list. (Haley's Poker Blog)

Blogfessional with Barry Greenstein and Thuy Doan chronicles their Day 1 at the WSOP. (Poker Road)

Check out this RawVegas video of the Doyle Brunson Beer Pong Championship...

OK, that's it for now with the morning WSOP link dump. Stay tuned for my end of Day 1 recap. NGTFOOMO.

Friday, May 28, 2010

RIP Gary Coleman aka My PokerStars Avatar

By Pauly
Las Vegas

If you have played against me on PokerStars, or if you are a regular in Saturdays with Dr. Pauly PLO tournaments, then you know that for my avatar, I proudly display a photo of Gary Coleman when he was portraying Arnold Drummond in the sitcom Diff'rent Strokes.

The avatar has gotten plenty of recognition since I originally opened up my PokerStars account months after Chris Moneymaker won the 2003 WSOP. Most of the responses in the chat box are a variation of his famous catch phrase "Whachatalkinabout Willis?"

I only had one negative reaction to the avatar. I was playing an SNG with a racist who thought that I was the actual person in the avatar. He blitzed the chat box with the n-word. That was the only time I ever ratted someone out to support to get their chat banned.

I learned about the passing of Gary Coleman during a meeting this afternoon. The child former actor once took a job as a security guard -- because he needed the money. He also ran for governor of California in the 2003 recall election... only to lose to the Terminator. To his credit, Coleman came in 8th out of 133 candidates.

Arnold Drummond is nevermore, and I'm going to shed a tear every time I take a seat on PokerStars and see him staring back at me.

2010 WSOP: The Calm... Before the Storm

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

The pilgrims hath returned.

After months of hanging out at regional tournaments, holed up in a dark rooms grinding online, or globetrotting on the international circuit... the time has finally come when the denizens of degeneracy make their yearly pilgrimages to gambling's Mecca.

Unless you've been in a coma for the last six years (or pulled a Billy Hayes and got shipped to a Turkish prison for smuggling seventeen bricks of Moroccan hash)... you know for seven weeks every summer that the Convention Center at the Rio has become the nucleus of the gambling universe. Pros, amateurs, and dabblers from around the globe have already embarked on their own personal Hajj to celebrate the holiest of high holy days -- the World Series of Poker.

Some come for a single event, some for a week, while a select few camp out for the entire summer. The rest of the external world is an afterthought during the next seven weeks. Overlook the obvious motivation of greed and fame, and you'll discover thousands of wayward pilgrims are actually at the Rio on a quest for spirituality, for religion, for moral guidance, and for something to believe in.

After seven weeks of sheer brutality on poker's largest battlefield, it's impossible not to reach a spiritual awakening. At the end of the summer, if you've had your doubts about yourself... about God.... about humanity... about the gaming industry... most of those questions/doubts will be answered by the end of the summer. At that point, if you survive the madness, you will reach the fork in the road and have to make a decision that questions your belief systems -- do you continue on with the circus? Or do you opt out and view the WSOP as a once in a lifetime experience?

Me? I came to the crossroads five times. I'm back in Vegas covering my sixth WSOP, so you can guess which path I took.

You? Most lost souls take religious retreats to discover faith and belief in a higher power. Some of the most successful people in the world have one thing in common -- a deep conviction and faith in themselves. Conversely, some of the biggest fuck ups I know overestimate themselves. Draw your own conclusions and comparisons with poker.

You didn't think that people were just playing cards in Las Vegas? So much more is at stake on a spiritual and philosophical level.

* * * * *

The 2010 WSOP returns to the Rio officially on Friday with the start of Event #1 Casino Employees at noon. The big dogs take center stage at 5pm with Event #2 $50,000 Players Championship which has been switched from HORSE to 8-Game. The champion wins the prestigious Chip Reese trophy, in honor of the legendary pro who won the inaugural event in 2006. Since then Freddy Deeb, Scotty Nguyen, and David "Gunslinger" Bach have taken down the largest buy-in event at the WSOP. And of course, tomorrow will be the first donkament of the season.

You can view a complete 2010 WSOP schedule here.

Due to media restrictions, Tao of Poker is unable to provide live updates like the halcyon year of 2005. Most of you knew those restrictions that Harrah's set forth, but there's always a few knuckleheads who bitch and moan -- which is why I toss out this annual disclaimer.

I honestly don't mind the "one post an hour" rule/restriction because I'd rather not be handcuffed to my laptop and endure the mental torture and pressure of "NOW NOW NOW" WSOP updates. The daily minutiae of the WSOP is important and will be well documented by Poker News' official coverage team and on

Rest assured that Tao of Poker will still be the place to go for behind the scenes coverage of the WSOP. It's been that way since 2005 and it's not going to change in 2010. Since I'm my own boss, the Tao provides an outlet to write about stories and themes that the mainstream poker media avoids. I find more enjoyment exercising my freedom and floating around while collecting notes for an end of day piece. I need to let the events of the day marinate into my brain before I can write about them.

Tao of Poker's 2010 WSOP coverage will include (and not limited to)...
- The "end of day" recap
- Daily link dumps
- Tao of Pokerati podcast episodes
- Tao All Stars with guests posts from your favorite scribes
- Photo dumps
- Videos courtesy of RawVegas
- Breaking news and gossip (more gossip than news)
If you want instant updates or if you're a Twitter newbie, then you should follow me on Twitter -- @taopauly. I will providing additional WSOP coverage on Twitter, like I've been doing since 2008. Expect lots of Twit pics this summer.

So it begins...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Top 5 WSOP Summer Jobs

By Pauly
Las Vegas

You rolled up a stake running the gauntlet every Sunday in the online MTTs and grinding it out in local cash games at underground rooms, Italian social clubs, and cul-de-sac garages. After a profitable winter and spring, you descended on Las Vegas to claim your stake at the 2010 WSOP. Somewhere along the way an endless string of bad luck knocked you off course after donkrendous beats at the tables, relationship woes, and overall life tilt. You spewed most of your bankroll and are hopelessly praying that you win a Main Event seat through a PokerStars satellite.

Similar tragic stories happen every summer to hundreds of players who take their shot at the big time. I admire their courage in the face of overwhelming odds. But let's be realistic -- no one wants to go home a loser after a bad first half. Pride kicks in and you remain in Vegas for the rest of the summer and hope that your luck changes.

Have no fear if you're running bad this summer and shoot your load, because I compiled a lost of potential WSOP summer jobs to help you get back on your feet...
1. McDonalds.

Hey why get a generic McJob when you can get the original McJob? No matter how bad things get in life -- you can always get a job with McD's. In fact, McD's is hiring in Las Vegas right now. Worse comes to worse, you can do a variation of the Johnny Lodden prop bet when his Scandi friends bet him that he couldn't work a full day as a grocer in a local supermarket. Hey, Lodden inspired me to issue my own prop bet...

Challenge: For $420, will Benjo work at McD's for a full day? And will McD's hire an illegal immigrant and known socialist? I'd love to find out.

* * * * *

2. Porn Slapper.

I can't think of a more ironic Las Vegas institution than the porn slapper. You can't walk ten feet on the Strip without encountering one of these guys. It's a pretty easy job that only requires three weeks of training at the Viva Las Vegas Porn Slapping Technical Institute, where you'll learn advanced techniques that include the Dirty Ochoa, the Quail Pipe, and the Buttered Bun.

Challenge: For $220, will Otis survive an entire 8-hour shift of porn slapping?

* * * * *

3. Meth Cook.

Meth is the Axis drug of evil invented by the Germans and perfected by the Japanese. Who doesn't feel the need for speed in a 24 hour city of excess, where sometimes, Red Bull just doesn't cut it? It's simple to cook up meth, but getting supplies can be tough because you might have to go smurfing in three states to scrounge up enough Sudafed. If you got an A in high school chemistry, then your services are in high demand as a meth cook. There's also ample parking for your mobile meth lab in the Gold Coast's parking lot.

Challenge: None. Speed kills. Pollos.

* * * * *

4. Census Worker.

Every ten years the government counts their citizens, and some days it seems like the world has been turned upside down since the last head count. Does the census really matter anyway, with shrinking personal privacy laws and everyone living in the easy-to-track digital age? People are living more and more of their lives on the internet, so I guess that Big Brother and Obama's Funky Bunch are more interested in those living off the grid. In order to find those rogue citizens, you can become an agent of the government and spy collect data on your fellow Americans because it's vital to national security to determine potential tourble makers. Ah, I'm just kidding with all teabagging rant because I could care less about the census. I think it's a good thing -- like a pop quiz to see which citizens are loyal, which are lazy asses, and which ones have something to hide. If you don't fill out your census by May 1, the government unleashes their agents in full force to harass remind you to fill out your tardy census forms. If you always had control issues and sought out positions of power, and if you can convincingly intimidate citizens into falling into line, then you should apply for a job as a census worker.

Challenge: $300 to any of the entities (los hombres) at Wicked Chops Poker if they can collect 100 tardy census forms. Bonus $500 if they get video of a teabagger pulling a shotgun on them.

* * * * *

5. Hooker Bar.

I've wrote about the "If you ain't a pimp, then you're a whore" mantra extensively. When you're really in a tough bind, then sell your body. I know it's difficult to find steady work as a male prostitute in Las Vegas, which is why you might have to pull a scene out of My Own Private Idaho and hustle gay tricks at the Jockey Club. If you won't stoop that low, then you're going to have to hit the gym and work out to find yourself a well-to-do woman to take care of you. You have to know the plush hunting spots to bag a sugar momma (let's go old school... the term 'cougar' was sooo 00s), or catch the unicorn of girlfriend myths -- a nymphomaniac heiress with a physician father who will prescribe you any pharmie that you want.

Challenge: I will gladly pay anyone $1,000 if they get me an appointment with the unicorn's doctor father, the one with a loose prescription pad.
And in case you are wondering, the Tao of Poker is not hiring at all this summer. Sorry folks.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Top 10 Degen Gambling Flicks

By Pauly
Las Vegas

The Sting. The Hustler. Rounders. The Cincinnati Kid.

Those are among Hollywood's brilliant contribution to the gambling film genre. California Split (with Elliot Gould) is probably the best poker flick you never heard of, while Croupier (with Clive Owen) captures the essence of gambling.

Let's go a little deeper and broader into the film archives with ten films off the top of my head that involves some sort of degenerate gambling. I wish I had more time to do a thorough investigation and smoke a bag of dope while analyzing 130 different flicks. Maybe after the WSOP? Until then, here's the Tao of Poker's Top 10 Degen Gambling Flicks...

1. Lucky Girl (2001)

Way before Elisha Cuthbert became the NHL's pin cushion, and before she gained fame as Jack Bauer's daughter from 24, Cuthbert starred in a Canadian film titled My Daughter's Secret Life. Typical good girl gone bad tale about a high school girl who becomes addicted to gambling, spirals out of control (in a very Canadian-after-school-special kinda way), and eventually has to shoot porn to pay her way out of debt. During her downfall, she goes on a wild bender betting on sports, stealing her mother's credit card to sign up for an online casino, and carousing in underground gambling halls. The original title was changed for release in the U.S. on the Lifetime network under Lucky Girl.

2. Let It Ride (1989)

Jen Tilly hijinks. Who could ask for anything more? How about a lifelong loser (Richard Dreyfuss) who embarks on the rush of a lifetime at the race track. He can't lose a bet...

3. Trading Places (1983)

I was 17 and worked as a runner on the floor of the NY Commodities Exchange, which is also the locale of the final dramatic scene of Trading Places takes place. In fact, one of my bosses can be spotted in one of the pit scenes towards the end. Anyway, if you don't know the comedy was an interpretation of Mark Twain's novel The Prince and the Pauper. Two rich brothers, Mortimer and Randolph Duke, have a prop bet if they can transform a street thug into a successful businessman -- and vice versa. Billy Ray Valentine is arguably one of Eddie Murphy's greatest roles. Bo Didley makes a cameo as a pawn shop own and utters one of my favorite movie lines... "In Philadelphia, it's worth fifty bucks."

4. The Deli (1997)

John A. Gallagher wrote/directed The Deli, a comedy about a New York deli owner who is in over his head with gambling debts. His sweet old mother gives him money to play the "numbers" every week, but he has been pocketing the money because she's never won once in 40 years. Disaster strikes when his mother's numbers hit -- he has to cover her jackpot winnings, in addition to paying his deli debts and sports betting losses. Interesting side note... Amnon Filippi's brother, David, makes a cameo in the film.

Sorry, no video clip for The Deli. Go look for it on Netflix.

5. Owning Mahowny (2003)

In my estimation, Philip Seymour Hoffman accurately depicted a total degen in one of the most nauseating gambling films in history. Based on a true story about one of Canada's largest single-man bank fraud operation, Mahowny (Hoffman) embezzles money to covering his staggering gambling losses during sojourns to AC and Vegas. There are two scenes in all of cinematic history that I cannot watch: the Mike/Nikki phone call scene in Swingers, and the one in Mahowny when he tells his bookie to bet on all the home teams in the National League.

6. Rogue Trader (1999)

In the 1990s, Nick Leeson took down Barings Bank -- at the time the oldest and one of the most prestigious merchant banks in the British Empire. Leeson (Ewan McGregor) is the legendary derivatives trader based in Singapore who abused his firm's error account and racked up over $1.4 billion in losses gambling, most of it on arbitraging the Japanese stock market and other Asian markets. Just another sad story about a compulsive gambler who chases his losses, only to ruin a bank's 233 year reputation in the process.

7. Two for the Money (2005)

The lemon soliloquy by Al Pacino in Two for the Money is one of the most true and eloquent scenes explaining compulsive gambling. The film delves deep into NFL gambling tout services.

8. Eight Men Out (1988)

Baseball flick. Era piece. Shoeless Joe Jackson. Ensemble cast. What could be better than Eight Men Out? Director John Sayles shared his take on the Chicago Blacksox scandal based on a book by Eliot Asinof. Arnold Rothstein bribes members of the White Sox to take a dive in the 1919 World Series, which was a best of nine series back then. I love a good fix. And I love movies about fixes.

9. Diggstown (1992)

James Woods unleashes a forceful performance as con man Gabriel Caine in Diggstown. Upon his release from prison, Caine makes an outrageous wager that he knows a boxer who can knock out 10 boxers in a 24 hour period. Just when you think the fix is in... there's a twist.

10. Wall Street (1987)

I had to throw in Oliver Stone's Wall Street because it's a film so close to my heart, and like so many young men eager to strike it rich, I also got hooked by the "Greed is good" mantra. Some days I can tell if the film is an indictment on 1980s excess or a justification for the anarchy and corruption in today's financial sector.

That's it for now, but please let me know if you've come across any obscure gambling flicks.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Link Dump: TOC Viral Video Contest, Jeremiah Smith New Poker Road Radio Host, Broke-Dick States, Exile on Main Street, and Empty Island

By Pauly
Las Vegas

Bogged down with meetings. Here's a quickie link dump to tide you over until I get back...
Attention WSOP bracelet winners (ahem, DonkeyBomber and the six of you who read the Tao)... los hombres at Wicked Chops Poker are involved in a 2010 WSOP TOC viral video contest. If you are eligible for the TOC and want a sleek, hip, kick-ass promo video produced for you by the crew at Raw Vegas, then submit your idea/concept to those guys. They will pick their favorite idea and then you'll have something to assist your campaign. Head over to WCP for details on their 2010 WSOP TOC viral video contest. (Wicked Chops Poker)

Jeremiah Smith is the new host of PokerRoad Radio. Kudos to Jeremiah, who you might know as the host of the Cash Plays podcast. Hopefully, Jeremiah will have me on as a guest this summer so I can plug Lost Vegas! (Poker Road)

Interesting read (with a cool graphic) about cash-poor states opting to legalize gambling in order to generate revenue... Strapped States Find New Virtues in 'Vice'. Legalize online poker, weed, and prostitution... and the cash will start tumbling in. (Wall Street Journal)

Short-stacked Shamus made a cameo on the Gambling Tales podcast and he discusses the upcoming WSOP. (Gambling Tales)

For all you LOST fans, you should check out the Joker's thoughts on the finale if the numbers... 4 8 15 16 23 42... have any sort of meaning for you. (Coventry Music)

If you dig The Rolling Stones and if you can read French, then read Benjo's piece on the re-issue of Exile on Main Street. (Las Vegas, Off the Record)

If you were wondering about the themes behind Lost Vegas, then you should check out something called Empty Island. (Tao of Pauly)
Guess that's it... NGTFOOMO!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Negative Ned and Negative Nancy

By Pauly
Las Vegas

When I was training for my first job on Wall Street, we were given a guidebook that was essentially a psychological study done by the CIA (or maybe it was the KGB or some other three-lettered covert organization) which outlined 7 basic personality types. We memorized those and used the models to size up potential clients on the phone. At the time I was skeptical, but as time passes the more and more accurate I'm starting to learn those CIA and shrinks knew their shit.

OK, so there's really 16 or so advanced types of personalities and two sub-sets for each, but let's not get too technical or complicated. The 7 basics that they gave us were important for what we were trying to do... persuade strangers to give us their savings so we could gamboooooooool with it under the guise of providing them future financial stability and security.

Anyway, one of the personalities were called Negative Ned. They usually had names for both genders, so the female version was Negative Nancy.

Simply put, these were the most negative people on the planet. All they did was complain about everything, in addition to grumble, bemoan, and denounce everything. These were some of the hardest people to sell and many of my colleagues avoided calling them. Me? I was always up for a good challenge, but I also knew how to turn them around. But hey, this post is not about advanced high pressure sales techniques... rather it's about the Negative Neds and Nancys in your life.

I hope you are not a Negative Ned or Nancy, but I know that you know a few -- perhaps your Mother or Father or even your boss. I feel horrible if your spouse is one of those black holes of negativity. You really should find a new job and ditch your dead-end relationship.

In short, life is tough enough. You can eliminate stress by limiting the amount of time you spend with negative personality types.

The first real Negative Nancy I encountered was a waitress at one of the bars I frequented during college. At first glance, she was what everyone frat boy dreamed of -- a smoking hot Southern gal who loved to spend a few extra minutes chatting with you. Hey, I was drunk and horny and love blondes, so I welcomed the extra banter. However, after a while I started to discover that everything she talked about had a common thing -- she was bitching and moaning about something... anything... her landlord, the dishwasher, her ex-boyfriend, the lady at Kroger's who cut her in line. Yep, and I was stupid enough to sit there and waste a good buzz listening to her complain. I was foolish. I really thought that I could get laid, but in fact, all I was going to get was a pair of swollen blue balls and a earful of venting.

After a while, I started blowing her off. I didn't want the extra banter. My life was complicated at age 19 as is with so many other issues that I really didn't need someone else unloading their problems on me... no matter how hot or how sexy her accent.

I worked with a guy on Wall Street ironically who might have been a Hall of Fame candidate for Negative Neds. Holy shit, this guy was always grumpy and despondent. He hated everything, especially himself even though he was one of the top producers in the company and received the fattest bonus every year. He had an apartment in the city, a house in Westchester, and a ski condo in Colorado. We met his wife once and she was smoking hot and cool as shit. He had two kids who looked normal in the two pictures sitting on top of his Bloomberg machine. We could never figure out why he hated everything. Shit, he even hated Fridays! He hated happy hour. He hated pizza. He thought the Yankees sucked and the Jets sucked even more even though he was a season ticket holder for both teams.

I gotta assume he hated what he had to do for money every day. Maybe he wanted to be a painter or a pro golfer and somehow ended up trading bonds for a bunch of old Brits who were whiter than the whitest white man you've ever seen.

When I started playing poker, I met a slew of pissed off players. They were negative, but initially I understood why -- because it can be a brutal game and no one likes to lose money. But the more I played I understood that there's nothing you can do with luck sometimes and you have to roll with the punches. You have to expect losses which means that you have to play with a positive mental attitude in order to retain your focus. Heh, sometimes poker advice is so applicable to life.

Tournament players are particularly more miserable than cash game players, mainly because one bad beat can make a half-a-day of arduous work for MTT grinders completely useless. Cash game players can dig into their pockets and reload for another chance at seeking revenge. Tournament players are shit out of luck.

Anyway, the longer I worked in poker covering tournaments, the more I realized how negative the entire culture had become... eliminated players are pissed at variance and bad luck... pros are pissed off for various reasons (some can be outright petty)... up and comers are pissed off because they can't get to the next level... losing players are pissed because they are broke... dealers are pissed because of bad tips and because players are pissed off which spills over into how they treat dealers... the media are pissed off because they don't get paid jack shit, or get any respect, or they really want to be on the other side of the ropes but can't for whatever reason... and the suits are pissed off because poker doesn't generate as much income as slots, plus gaming execs are handcuffed with most of their decisions... and small time business men are wicked pissed that the US government is cock blocking their livelihood.

So that's part of the reason why I have actively discouraged sensitive people from entering poker because it's an industry of pissed off people. No wonder I don't look forward to moving to Las Vegas every summer because I'm forced to interact with people in a pissed off environment for seven weeks. By the time I escape Vegas, I'm fucking miserable and need to hang out with old hippies and blissful tree huggers in Colorado in order to get my forlorn chakras back into the correct rotation.

For the most part, not everyone you'll meet in poker is negative and I'm really discussing only a small percentage of people, but the sheer strength of the negative force overwhelms everything else. Even for the most positive of souls, it's difficult to remain impermeable. That's why it is essential to shed any Negative Ned or Nancy tendencies in your mental outlook. Negativity corrupts the mind and encourages the poker gods to rule against you.

It's also vital to ignore Negative Ned's endless rants. Shit, it seems like every time I log online, there's someone complaining about another bad beats and how bad they're running. I say: let them bitch and moan, just tune them out.

Heck, make them a target at the tables. If those miserable fucks are unlucky as the claim, then you should be able to suck out against them when you're behind. Think of the tremendous implied tilt odds when you win a monsterpotten off of a Negative Ned. That'll set them off. More venom and blood boiling usually equates to heightened-level of tiltdom. Be sure to tune them out the moment after you lay that sick beat on them, because they are going to erupt.

To sum up...
1. Humans can be pigeonholed into 7 personalities.
2. Don't be a Negative Ned or Nancy.
3. Eliminate stress by avoiding any negative types in your daily life.
4. Tune out negativity at the poker tables and maintain focus.
5. When applicable, take advantage of tremendous implied tilt odds against Negative Ned and Nancy.
As always with anything I write about poker, it can be tweaked to fit your life's mission. And vice versa.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Morning Link Dump: Future of Online Poker, Beer Pong Rigged, WTP Bust, Gambling Flicks, and Whoring

By Pauly
Las Vegas

A few items to masticate on this lazy Sunday.
Is the upcoming Brunson Beer Pong championships rigged? I think Michalski has been overdosing on his meds -- but at least he's taking them. Los Hombres at Wicked Chops Poker picked Matt Stout and AlCantHang to win this year's beer pong title. I'm jumping on that bandwagon and looking for a seasoned-bar vet in ACH and "All in at 420" to smoke the field. Also, looked out for the Erik+Erica pairing. For the record... Michalski is a chump, but his teammate is a good kid from Minnesota named Drew, and the former goalie on the UNLV hockey team. Drew has lightning-quick reflexes which should bail out Michalski on more than one instance. (Pokerati)

I blew off the WTP and went on an unplugged vacation at the beach where I read four books in five days. I stand by my choice after hearing the negative reaction to the WTP for the veterans who were covering it. Sure, I'm biased because I'm a reigning Dream Team Poker champion -- but that's really the best format for a team event. (Riding the F Train)

I'm not a fan of Wal Mart. They are the personification of evil and one of the multi-national corporations (MNCs) that I often avoid in order to prevent the Walton family from becoming even richer while putting mom and pop stores out of business. Anyway, enough of the socio-political ranting... enjoy this list of 16 random items that you'll only find at a Wal Mart in China. I loved the bins of mixed meat. And why hasn't anti-bacterial tidy whities become a huge hit in America? (Buzz Feed)

Interesting take on politics and the future of online gambling. I tend to lean more toward Bill's take then everyone else. Then again, I'm a jaded vet who see our politicians in DC nothing more than used car salesmen whoring themselves out to MNCs. (Bill's Poker Blog)

Decent list of Top 10 gambling movies. The Hustler and The Sting would have made mine. This inspired me to write a future post. Stay tuned. (Miami New Times)

Old news, but worth a look. Here's John Stossel trying to stump for legalized online gambling , only to have Billy-O push forth his Nanny State agenda. (Wicked Chops Poker)

Music freaks will enjoy the fifth volume of Background Beats. My buddy Jonas put together another mix for your listening enjoyment. Perfect music for playing poker, smoking weed, and getting down and dirty with your significant other. (Coventry Music)

For some reason, one of my older philosophical diatribes is still getting heavily linked up. If you're a pimp or a whore,, or perhaps just play one on TV, then check out Money on the Dresser. (Tao of Pauly)
That's it. The calm before the storm. NGTFOOMO.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

2009 WSOP - Tao of Poker Review

By Pauly
Off the Grid

While I'm on vacation, it's time to take a magic carpet ride in the Tao of Poker time machine and re-visit the 2009 WSOP...

First of all, I took off 20 days last summer to follow Phish while researching an upcoming book about the band. During my time away from Vegas, I relied heavily on on the Tao All Stars, a collection of some of my favorite scribes, who contributed guest posts while I was gone. Check them out...
2009 Tao All Stars WSOP Coverage:

The Tragedy of Mr. Nice Guy by Benjo
The WSOP Fashion Report - Week 1: The Year of the Makeover by Change100
All That Glitters by Snoopy
Fringe: Jeffrey Pollack and the Fine Line by Otis
Just Another Day in the Office: Phil Ivey Wins His Sixth Bracelet -- and $12 Million by BJ Nemeth
World Series of Penny by the Poker Shrink
WSOP Fashion Report - Week 2 & 3: The Douche-O-Meter by Change100
The New Kid in Town by Snoopy
Ladies of the Night by the Poker Shrink
The BJ Report: A Look Back at the First 19 Events by BJ Nemeth
The BJ Report: A Look Back at the First 31 Events by BJ Nemeth
The Kabbaj Regime by Snoopy
Flipchip's WSOP Photo Dump #1
Mean Gene's WSOP Photo Dump #1
Mean Gene's WSOP Photo Dump #2
* * * * *

Here's what I wrote on the Tao before I hit the road...
Day 1: No Respect
Day 2: It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times
Day 3: The Valley of Ashes
Day 4: Nostrum Donkulus
Day 5: Vitaly Who?
Day 6: Scooter Races and Fading the Great Dane

When I returned from my roadtrip, I quickly got back into full coverage mode with...
Day 27: The Weigh In and the Miami John Incident
Day 28: Lisandro's Hat Trick
Day 29: Jeff Goldblum Is Not Dead
Day 30: Dying HORSE and Never Mind the Pollocks, Here Come the Sex Pistols
Day 31: Horses, Deuces, and DonkeyBombers
Day 32: Undercover and What Does Benjo Think?
Day 33: Gus Hansen Orgasm
Day 34: David Bach Wins $50,000 HORSE Championship and What Does Benjo Think, Vol. 2

And here's the 2009 Main Event coverage...
Day 37 - Main Event Day 1A: Summer of George?
Day 38 - Main Event Day 1B: Theme from the Bottom
Day 39 - Main Event 1C: Welcome to the Psychedelic Circus
Day 40 - Main Event Day 1D: No Soup for You
Day 41 - Dollar Bill Blues and What Does Benjo Think, Vol. 4
Day 42 - Main Event Day 2B: Schadenfreude
Day 43 - Third Place for Charity
Day 44 - Main Event Day 3: Two Frenchies, One Cup
Day 45 - Main Event Day 4: Bubbles, Leap Frog, and What Does Benjo Think Vol. 5
Day 46 - Main Event Day 5: Rapido and The Rise of the DonkeyBomber
Day 47 - Main Event Day 6: When I'm 64
Day 48 - Main Event Day 7: Evil Lurks on the Cusp of Greatness
Day 49 - Main Event Day 8: Phil Ivey Advances to November Nine
* * * * *

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

The 2010 WSOP begins in one week. Click here to see the 2010 WSOP Schedule.

Tao of Poker will return to Las Vegas for a sixth summer in a row and you can experience the mayhem with me.






The 2010 coverage will feature old school Tao updates and daily recaps, not to mention a couple of innovative concepts. The Tao All Stars will make a triumphant return, and many of your favorite scribes will share their favorite WSOP stories that they can't publish anywhere else. I'm super happy that Change100 will be whipping up her scintillating fashion updates and I'm proud to announce that BJ Nemeth will be returning with a weekly version of The BJ Report as Tao of Poker's WSOP stat-guru.

Also, don't forget about the Tao of Pokerati podcasts, and bonus updates on Twitter (via @taopauly).

That's it for now. I'm slipping back into vacation mode, and when I return it's time for me to head to the front lines at the Rio and cover my sixth WSOP.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

WSOP Flashback: The Lindgren Golf Bet (2007)

By Pauly
Las Vegas

July 2007.

John Caldwell told me about the $340,000 prop bet. One of the things that I loved about Las Vegas was when degenerate gamblers bet outrageous amounts of money on trivial things.

“Erick Lindgren has a single day to shoot four rounds of golf with each round under 100. No carts. He has to carry his bags and shoot from the pro tees,” Caldwell said.

Erick Lindgren’s prop bet was a variation of a Huck Seed bet from many years earlier, when Huck shot under 100 four times in one day (it took him five attempts) using only a five-iron, a sand wedge, and a putter.

The origins of the deviant golf wager began shortly after Lindgren busted out of the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event. During dinner with friends, he boasted that he could shoot four rounds of golf under 100 strokes while walking the entire course. He had to carry his own bag but got a caddy to help with distances, replacing divots, and green reads. Gavin Smith originally bet $50,000 that Lindgren couldn’t do it before he raised the total to $100,000. Two other friends of Lindgren, poker pros Peter ‘Nordberg’ Feldman and Chris Bell, bet another $40,000 against him. When Phil Ivey heard about the bet, he wanted in on the action. Ivey wagered $200,000 that Lindgren couldn’t do it.

With $340,000 on the table, Lindgren agreed to play four rounds of golf starting the next morning at Best Bear.

Lindgren prepared for his bet by drinking until 4 A.M. After less than ninety minutes of sleep, Lindgren arrived at Best Bear in Summerlin, a golf course designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus, which replicated some of his favorite holes from other courses around the world. Best Bear was a work of beauty, nestled in the foothills of the Red Rock mountains and several holes sloped down towards the Strip. It was also one of the toughest courses in Las Vegas with bent grass greens and played almost 7,200 yards from the tips, or the white pro tees, where Lindgren agreed to shoot from. The front nine was not as challenging as the back nine, which climbed into the foothills, but it was still demanding for amateurs.

I arrived at the Rio a couple of hours after Lindgren teed off and the media room buzzed about the prop bet. Nobody had faith in Lindgren. Snake from Wicked Chops Poker bet me $20 that Lindgren would fail, and by the time I left the media room, I booked a couple hundred more in bets. A friend of mine from Wall Street thought that Lindgren would never come close and offered to bet me $2,000. I didn’t shy away and when I tallied all my wagers, I had almost $2,700 riding on Lindgren, or the most I had wagered on a single event since March Madness.

Lindgren’s athletic prowess convinced me that he had the physical stamina to walk the entire course… four times. The son of a tire shop owner, Lindgren grew up in a small town in Northern California. He excelled at sports from an early age and starred in baseball, football, and basketball. During high school, he won an MVP in basketball and was all-league in football. He enrolled in college and found a job in at a local Indian casino as a dealer. Lindgren claimed that he held only one regular day job in his life and that was dealing blackjack. During his off hours, Lindgren gravitated towards poker and spent more time at the low-limit poker tables than hitting the books. He eventually dropped out of college and moved to Las Vegas. He won his first tournament at the Bellagio in 2002 and never looked back. In January of 2007, I watched him win $1 million (Australian Dollars) at the $100,000 AUD buy-in High Rollers event at the Aussie Millions in Melbourne.

The thirty-year old Lindgren was the golden boy of poker. Just think about the coolest guy in high school or college. That was Lindgren. He was good looking, intelligent, funny, and one hell of a poker player. Every guy wanted to be Erick Lindgren and every woman wanted to fuck him, which was another reason why every guy wanted to be him.

I headed to work and I couldn’t stop thinking about the bet. Every few minutes I asked Caldwell for updates or sent text messages to Chops, who also owned Raw Vegas TV and sent a camera crew to film the action.

Lindgren teed off at 5:45 A.M. During the morning and afternoon, a small crowd gathered and watched Lindgren’s display of utter foolishness. His buddies Gavin Smith and Chris Bell followed behind, and even Ivey stopped by to check on Lindgren’s progress. The first two rounds were a breeze. Lindgren shot an 86, then an 84. He struggled with the third round and shot a 92.

“We knew he could do the first two easy,” said Gavin. “In the third round, it really looked like he might not make it. But he ended up making a big par and got there.”

In the middle of the third round, a big problem arose. What happened if he shot 100 exactly? Ivey and Lindgren decided to flip a coin to decide the outcome should they have that issue, and their $340,000 bet would be settled by Heads or Tails.

By the end of the third round, Lindgren’s friends thought that he was on the brink of cracking. He endured temperatures that peaked out at 106 degrees and showed obvious signs of fatigue, dehydration, and sunstroke. After 54 straight holes of golf, he lost almost ten pounds.

“I don’t have a will, but if I die today, I’ll leave everything to Gavin Smith,” joked Lindgren.

“And in the fourth round, he looked dead,” said Gavin. “I was sure he wasn’t going to do it. Then he dug deep and found something that nobody knew he had.”

Lindgren finished off the front nine with a 49. He had to shoot the back nine in under 50 to seal the bet. That was the toughest part of the course and he struggled on the back nine during the first three rounds. However, Lindgren caught a much-needed break. The swirling winds died down and the temperatures dropped below 100. With Mother Nature cooperating, it came down to one thing… heart.

Did Lindgren have enough heart to finish out strong?

“I was in so much pain,” Lindgren said. “I had to make sure there was a medic on the scene. I thought I was going to pass out on the back nine.”

By the 13th hole, when it was evident that Lindgren was going to pull through, Gavin Smith arranged a buyout. Instead of being on the hook for $100,000, Lindgren accepted $60,000 from Gavin. Chris Bell offered a buy out as well, but Ivey made Lindgren play on. Lindgren rallied and around 8 P.M., he finished out the final round with a total score of 96.

“He deserved to win,” Gavin said. “He focused on what he knew he had to do. There were cameras and lots of people there and he did it.”

“Erick is an athlete and a gritty determined fellow. It didn’t surprise me at all,” Caldwell said.

“What I witnessed was the most amazing thing I have ever seen of its kind,” said super agent Brian Balsbaugh, who previously represented pro golfers on the PGA. “I didn’t think he was going to make it. At one point I saw him lying on the ground. He told me that he couldn’t hear, he couldn’t speak, and he couldn’t see straight with seven holes to go.”

“We just watched Erick Lindgren do something I didn’t think he had a chance in the world to do,” added Chris Bell. “A lot of poker players might think they can do it, and I’ll take the bet against those guys too.”

“Me? I would totally do that bet,” Daniel Negreanu said. “Sounds like sick fun. I know you could potentially die from the heat.”

I quickly collected all of my winnings from the donkeys in the media room. They were astonished that Lindgren did the impossible. Of course, winning the bet did not come at a cheap price. Lindgren’s body took a beating. He lost over seventeen pounds and suffered serious sunstroke. Although he returned to the Rio to play poker the next day, he looked awful.

“I could have slept for 20 hours today,” said Lindgren in an interview with Raw Vegas the day after his epic feat. “I will try to sleep tomorrow. I’m hurting but I won the bet and that’s all that matters. I have some pretty heavy regrets. Combine the incredible stress and pressure of a big bet, with the physical nature of it from walking the course from the pro tees in those elements with 106 degree temperatures and 25 mph winds. It was unbelievable. I played 14 hours of golf with a bag on my back and walked over twenty miles. I was able to win the bet, and I regret it. I was really hurting. This may have taken a year or two off my life. I’ll never know. My body is aching. My head is fuzzy. It’s going to take a while until I’m healthy.”

Erick Lindgren didn't die, and I won $2,700.