Monday, December 27, 2010

Tao of Poker - 2010 Year in Review, Part 1

By Pauly
New York City

Well, it's that time of year again when I re-read everything on Tao of Poker and get all gushy and warm about the previous year. In actuality, I'm pointing out the few highlights and wish everything else I regurgitated on the web would disappear.

2010 has been an interesting year poker-wise for me because I barely played online poker. This is the first year since the poker boom began where I don't have a surplus from playing poker. When I was in hanging out Las Vegas, I spent more time in the pits trying to get unstuck at the Pai Gow tables than actually playing poker. At the least, the Pai Gow binges inspired a series about struggling with addictions in the Pai Gow Diaries.

The nature of the beast had me focusing a lot more on the business side of things in 2010 and less on the daily happenings in the poker world. I spent a significant part of the early 2010 working on the re-write of Lost Vegas and the headaches that ensued with the publishing process. I eventually got back into the swing of things with a trip to Uruguay and an invite to the WPT Invitational where I recorded a bunch of Tao of Pokerati episodes.

So if you have a short memory span, or haven't been by the Tao of Poker in a while, here's the best of Tao of Poker in 2010 from January through May...

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January 2010

So much for making Lofty Goals for 2010. I definitely missed the mark on a few poker-related things that I promised I'd do (like monthly version of Saturdays with Dr. Pauly and playing more live cash games at the local LA casinos).

The Tao of Five series returned with an interview with author Michael Craig, who revealed a few things about Phil Ivey that I betcha didn't know about.

I also interviewed TD extraordinaire Matt Savage for the Tao of Five. Savaged shared insight into the first ever Iron Man live tournament.

I took off from daily blogging to work on Lost Vegas and Benjo stepped up with a trio of Tao All-Stars guest posts. Benjo went to the Bahamas to cover the PCA and he shared a few tales...
Benjo in the Bahamas: Dispatches from the Coral Bar - Volume 1
Benjo in the Bahamas: Dispatches from the Coral Bar - Volume 2
Benjo in the Bahamas: Dispatches from the Coral Bar - Volume 3
I headed to Las Vegas to cover the porn convention. That's right, I got a press credential via Tao of Poker to attend the 2010 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo. I posted three pieces about the expo. Foreplay: The 2010 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo covers my intro to the porn world (both many moons ago and at that moment in Las Vegas).

Melts in your mouth...

My second piece from the 2010 AVN AEE's was called The Carnival of Flesh. And here's a bit:
"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?"
The third installment from the 2010 AVN AEE was titled Fetish Theatre. Here's a sample:
"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."
The Battle of the Tonight Show was the only thing people in Hollywood were talking about. I had a few things to say about poker strategies that Conan O'Brien should use in dealing with Jay Leno and NBC suits.

Graveyard is one of the posts when I dig deep into the dark side of Las Vegas. Not for the faint of heart.

Rush Poker took over the poker scene. Here's my succinct review of Rush Poker.

I also wrote a haiku about Rush Poker PLO.

And the post that everyone was talking about... Memoirs of a Rush Addict. Here's a bit:
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.

* * * * *

February 2010

I had one last thing to say about Rush Poker in something called Rush Poker Epilogue: I Said No.

All of the talk about my Rush Poker piece from late January got me an invite on Jeremiah Smith's podcast Cash Plays.

El Diablo details my struggles with the devil. Here's a sample:
"Hell is a whorehouse in Tijuana with cockroaches crawling over piss-warm beers, hookers older than Joan Rivers, Coldplay screeching on the jukebox, a midget eating a jar of pickled eggs, and a bandito in the corner fondling a butcher knife.

That's the beauty about life. Someone might find Tavern on the Green as a personal hell, while others hope to God that heaven is a brothel south of the border."
I sounded off on what High Stakes Poker was like in the first year after A.J. Benza.

Change100 and I created a podcast for Lost Vegas. We recorded three episodes...
Lost Vegas Podcast

Episode 1 - Final Draft... The re-write is over and Change100 explains how she knew how/when Lost Vegas was finally done. She even tosses a Wonder Boys reference into the mix, while I remain moody and evasive.
Episode 2 - Lost Translation... Change100 and I discuss the French version of Lost Vegas, which is currently being translated by Benjo. Chapter 1 in French is complete and we figure out how my favorite (yet grossly overused term) "douchebag" gets properly translated.

Episode 3 - Inspiration Inebriation... Change100 ambushes Pauly about the real inspiration behind Lost Vegas, and she gets him to reveal trade secrets.
I was fortunate enough to get an invite to play in the 2010 WPT Invitational at the Commerce Casino in L.A. I gathered enough material for a two-parter: The WPT Celebrity Invitational, Part 1: Welcome to Hollyweird and Part 2: I Could Use Some Brass Knuckles.

The opening piece, Welcome to Hollyweird, chronicled what it was like to be wandering around a poker tournament among the Hollywood scensters. Here's a bit...
"I fuckin' love Hollywood for the absurdity and plasticity. Stephen Elliot, author of The Adderall Diaries, wrote that L.A. is the perfect place to be discovered and hide out simultaneously. I'm paraphrasing here... but since everyone in the City of Angels is desperately seeking attention, all you have to do is stand still and you'll disappear. That's one of the most accurate description of L.A. and Hollywood that I've come across. Elliot simply summed up one the main reasons why I migrated to the left coast and settled down in La-La Land -- it really is easy to disappear within the city limits and become invisible. Lost in the shuffle."
And in the second part titled, I Could Use Some Brass Knuckles, I shared my experiences playing with a really really drunk guy from ER and then getting busted from one of the actors from Band of Brothers. Here's a sample:
"The positives of sitting next to Nick far outweighed the negatives. For example, Nick is a handsome actor who knew an impressive number of actresses in the room. A steady stream of starlets stopped by our table to flirt, schmooze, and sneak in a few seconds of camera time. I didn't mind the starlet parade one bit."
During the WPT Invitational, Michalski and I took some time to record three special episodes of the Tao of Pokerati...

Tao of Pokerati - 2010 WPT LA Invitational Episodes

Episode 1: Slumming It in Not-So-Beverly Hills... Michalski explains... "As Pauly and I are prone to do whenever we get together, we couldn't help ourselves from kicking into 3-minute-podcast mode in Los Angeles this weekend as we both got ready to take on the Hollywooded up field at the WPT Celebrity Invitational for the LAPC... and explore How-TF we got into the field in the first place."

Episode 2: Commerce She Bangs... Michalski explains... "Pauly and I arrive at the Commerce to see more big-name degens than we do celebrities, but it's still early..."

Episode 3: Newcomer's Welcome... Michalski explains... "We were still waiting for cards to get in the air at the WPT Celebrity Invitational when we found the red-carpeted smoker's terrace at the Commerce. The first ever PartyPoker Party in LA, too -- LA: It's Very Different than America -- as Tao of Pokerati runs into its first ever security issue."

Episode 4: A Roomful of (Hollywood) Cliches... Michalski explains... "Your intrepid player-correspondents catch up on the first break at the star-studded WPT Celebrity Invitational to talk about how the tourney is going... I've battled back from chip-and-a-chair conditions at a table full of pros (and rebought with Pauly money) to stay alive, while Pauly has been taunted by errant nipples and offered blow in the bathroom. We're not even deep, but we're already taking note of would-be final tableist Trishelle Cannatella, too, before getting distracted by the pathos of Commerce steerage."

Episode 5: ATM Roulette... Michalski explains... "I'm still alive, but Pauly’s out. Before bringing our Hollywood poker weekend to a close, we decide we should get a firsthand taste of the real Commerce degen experience, so Pauly escorts me to the ATM to make good on an a charitable WPT rebuy acquired-at-the-table debt before he jets off to Uruguay."
And I ended the month in Uruguay writing about what a dirty job I had to do being surrounded my exotic Brazilian models.

* * * * *

March 2010

I began the month in South America, which was a strange place to watch the Winter Olympics with Spanish-speaking commentators. I wrote something called Dispatches from Uruguay: Big Deuce and the Olympics.

I went to G-Vegas for Mastodon 2.0. My recap was titled All Things Reconsidered - Mastodon Weekend. I even recorded a Mastodon podcast and spliced together a Mastodon video.

The Tao of Poker finally got a long overdue facelift.

I came up with a Top 10 List for the Top 10 Ways to Annoy Chat Beggars.

Through a Glass Darkly: The Search for Isildur1 is an investigative piece that took me all the way to Sweden in search of the mysterious Isildur1. Here's a sample of an interview with Isildur1:
"It's political. I'm an anarchist and I thrive on chaos. The best way to disrupt society is to implode the entire financial system. I want to win money from capitalist American pigs and Eurotrash elite to bankrupt them and bring them to their knees. You have to understand something. I'm Swedish. I didn't pick that. I was born into it. I blame my parents who spawned me against my will. That's why I dropped out of school when I was ten years old to become a poker pro."
On St. Patrick's Day, I penned my annual post to the Lady Luck. The 2010 version is simply titled Lucky.

Don't ask me where the hell I got the idea for Phil Hellmuth and Tony G - White Man's Burden. It just happened. Here's a bit...
"Because poker is not regulated and the major tournament circuits do not test players for narcotics or performance enhancing drugs, Hellmuth resorted to injecting himself with nandrolone, HGH, HBT, synthetic hemoglobin, and some sort of protein extracted from Rhinoceros semen. Within a few weeks, Hellmuth pumped himself up and has been training with a couple of MMA fighters for an impending cage fight with The G."
The Return of the Sun King is a dose of philosophical waxing on gambling-heavy topics such as March Madness and Big Deuce.

With the announcement of theTOC being opened up to a popular vote with all WSOP bracelet winners eligible, I decided to stump for Eskimo Clark. Yes, did you Vote Eskimo?

* * * * *

April 2010

The greatest thing since sliced bread.... the Benjo Booshit t-shirts! We also have thongs too.

Full Tilt was being investigated by the DOJ, and I came up with a short list of Top 5 Lawyers Full Tilt Should Hire.

I headed to Connecticut for the NAPT Mohegan Sun. I wrote up a bunch of dispatches over three days including Men the Master's Shrimp, Phil Woods, and Mohegan Cougar. Here's a bit...
"I turned the corner and a pack of cougs were spread out in the lobby in front of the theatre. Sixty or so women were in search of tickets to that evening's show. Three groups were visible: professional cougs in tight jeans that only hipsters on the L train wear, timid cougs-in-training (recently separated), and twenty-something girls with so many fashion faux-pas that my girlfriend can write an entire book on the tragic cliches."
I did a little head shrinking with Mental Mazes. I broke down poker players into different categories including the Nebbish Goober, Reckless Gambler, Fraidy Cat, and Confident Warrior. Here's a sample:
"The confident warrior is Clint Eastwood is all of his spaghetti westerns and the Dirty Harry movies. He's an angry muthafucker looking for trouble because he knows know no one can stop him. And if he dies, so fuckin' what. We live in a godless chaotic universe and all die a miserable death. Why not now? Any day is a good day to die. Let's not go down like a bunch of pansy pussies! Durrrr and Ivey are modern day samurais and gunslingers averse to shy away from battle. They are willing to perish at any time which makes them dangerous... and wealthy men."
I listed my Top 5 choices for "intro" music if I ever made a televised final table. Do you liek Curtis Mayfield, Beck, GirlTalk, the Beasties Boys, or Phish?

I penned the first installment of The Pai Gow Diaries with Mr. Pai Gow. Here's a bit:
"The second operative, the bad cop, was a silent assassin. I'm sure you have come across the type of cooler who does not say a word, nor respond to any of your banter. At first I thought she was a bot, but then I discovered she was dealing to slow to be a machine. Her silence was eerie and outright spooky. She purposely acted like that in order to induce tilt. However, the silent treatment failed to send me off the reservation. I was not digging deep into my pocket for multiple rebuys, instead, I was grinding away and beating them at their own game."
I had some thoughts about the redesign of the 2010 TOC in TOC Musings: The Real World, and I suggested that the powers to be cast the TOC like they were trying to cast the upcoming season of the Real World.

You can tell the times of the year when I've been delving into literature, and that was never more evident when I wrote Russian Roulette, Three Bullet Mow Mow, and Joseph Conrad. Here's a toke:
"It's hard to say when exactly Russian Roulette was invented because the origins are shrouded in ambiguity. Historians point to WWII during the Nazi's siege of Stalingrad where suicidal officers engaged in the game. Other historians insist that Russian Roulette began in 19th century prisons or in the early 20th century gulags when bored guards made prisoners play the savage game of chance. The barbaric guards wagered on which unlucky prisoners would blow their brains out. Stories also exist about starving Russian peasants playing the game in an all-in or nothing wagering proposition for rubles. If they won and survived, they'd have enough money to eat. If they lost, then they died a quick death, avoiding a gruesome end via starvation."
I finished off the month with a light-hearted post by listing my Top 5 Hilarious 2+2 Threads.

* * * * *

May 2010

The month began with a discussion about Hunter Thompson's inspirational coverage of the Kentucky Derby, and other forms of degen betting in Depraved Derby, Mayweather-Mosley, and Betting on Wookies.

I had a little more to say about the TOC, particularly the chances of a rigged voting procedure with TOC Musings, Vol 2: Rigging Kingfish.

Shamus invited me to be a part of a Roundtable on Betfair. Yes, I am Camelot!

Busto Bobby is one of my favorite pieces of the year. I have an affinity for understanding the dark emotional side of being a degenerate gamblers, which is why I offered up five suggestions to Bobby Bellande on what he could do to get back in the game.

I posted a WSOP Flashback and wrote about the incident at the 2007 WSOP when Erik Lindgren almost died! Check out 2007 WSOP Flashback: The Lindgren Golf Bet. Here's a toke:
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."

I got all philosophical and offered up some amateur head shrinking again with a piece titled Negative Ned and Negative Nancy. Here's a nugget:
"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."
Ever wondered what the Tao of Poker's Top 10 Degen Gambling Flicks of All Time are? You'd be surprised to see what films made the list.

Gary Coleman passed away. The actor and I shared something in common that was very close to my heart. You see, my PokerStars avatar is a publicity still of Gary Coleman during his stint as Arnold Drummond. I had to give my av a fitting send off with RIP Gary Coleman.

With the WSOP around the corner, I gave newbies to the poker industry andan inside scoop on the Top 5 Summer Jobs in Las Vegas.

The 2010 WSOP festivities kicked off at the end of May. I arrived in Las Vegas a few days before penned a preview titled The Calm Before the Storm.

I wrote also three days of 2010 WSOP recaps...
Day 1: The Cold Open - Opening lines to several great novels inspired the opening post of the 2010 WSOP, but none more fitting than Charles Dickens. The 50K Players' Championship also kicked off the WSOP, while many scribes and photographers were on alert just in case the federales were going to drag away a couple of the poker pro owners of Full Tilt Poker.

Day 2: Not So Easy Rider - The official WSOP live updates page crashed more times to count due to a crush of traffic. It turned out that a hamster and a drunk Lithuanian was to blame. Editor's Note: This particular piece got me into a little bit of hot water with the humorless powers to be.

Day 3: Scandi Mafia and Donkulus' Comet - The first potential headache of the WSOP arrived with the field in the $1,000 Donkulus event got decimated at a much faster pace than expected. Could the elusive donk get extinct at the 2010 WSOP? Meanwhile, as the 50K Players' Championship progressed, the Scandi Mafia arrived on the rail to keep a keen eye on the outcome.
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Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Year in Review and a recap of June through December.

And if you like what you read, I encourage you to vote Tao of Poker for Best Poker Blog in Bluff's Readers Choice Awards. Thanks for your support.

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