Friday, January 21, 2011

PokerStars Home Games

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Buckeye's monster hand
Blue Parrot (c. 2005)

I haven't played in a regular home game in almost six years. Once I got my first gig in the poker industry, I left New York City and the comfort of my regular Monday night home game at the beloved Blue Parrot. I used to play weekly poker with a couple of lawyers, where the host, Ferrari, would make homemade guacamole and his cats would dart back and forth under the table. I always brought a six pack of Red Stripe with me and used to get stoned in the stairway. I had never met any of the players before, but one of the regulars, Charles aka "Ugarte", was an avid reader of the Tao of Poker and in early 2004, he invited me to join them. Basically I showed up and never left. Here's my recap of the first encounter with the crew.

I methodically recapped the hijinks at the Blue Parrot on my blog for my six readers and the other guys in the game (many of whom became household names like Coach and Swish). Little did I know that those rudimentary reports would become the template for covering actual poker tournaments. Seven years ago, I was an unknown writer with three unpublished novels, struggling to make ends meet, ensconced in a horrible relationship, grinding out .25/.50 cent NL tables on Party Poker, and getting my ass kicked in an underground card room on the Upper West Side. And you know what...despite the turmoil, it was one of the most memorable times in my life. Poker hasn't really been the same for me since then.

After I caught my big break and moved out to Las Vegas to cover the 2005 WSOP, I never went back to NYC. Instead, I set up shop in Henderson with Grubby and spent the next few years constantly on the road covering the circuit all over America and overseas. It wasn't until I met a nice California girl before I settled down in the Slums of Beverly Hills, yet in the last two years, I found myself intermittently dividing my time between Las Vegas, international stops on the tour, and crisscrossing America following around Phish with a bunch of spun out hippies.

Although I played in Schecky's home game a couple of times with his buddies in Beverly Hills and Cheviot Hills, it just wasn't the same as the good old days at the Blue Parrot. In short, I missed a regular game. Change100 and I considered hosting a game in our apartment, but the biggest hurdle was parking. If you ever lived in LA, then you realize how much of a hassle and deterrent that lack of parking can be. Ever since I played my last game at the Blue Parrot, I have been jonesin' for a regular game ever since.

Sometimes it's flat out weird when someone verbalizes what you're thinking. In this specific case, F Train had read my mind on Thursday afternoon.

"Has it been that long since we used to play a home game together?" F Train wondered.

Rick, one of the regulars at the Blue Parrot, had left NYC for the Bay Area. At the same time, his law school classmate had moved back into the city. That's when I met F Train for the first time when he took up the empty seat to my left. He can tell you many stories about me tilting off my stack in Omaha 8. In fact, whenever I went on a heater, the regulars called a round of O8 to cool my ass down.

Life is strange. If you asked both F Train and myself in 2004 if we pictured ourselves playing in an online home game for poker media hosted by a Dutchman...we'd probably laugh in your face. Yet, that's where we ended up.

Remko, one of my colleagues from Holland, quickly embraced PokerStars latest addition -- Home Games. Remko set up a home game for the poker media. When Stars announced the new setup, I was in the Bahamas and didn't really have time to check it out. But when I was taking a break from writing on Thursday, I saw a tweet from Remko announcing that he was going to start a home game. I figured...why not give it a try?

Home Games on Stars is similar to real need an invite to play. Remko had sent me his group ID and the password. I punched it in and waited for him to approve me. That's a vital aspect of the Home Games on Stars -- that the host controls who can play and who gets denied.

I sat down at a 6-handed table for mixed games... 8-Game Mix to be precise. I really wanted to extract money from the host. My overall financial goal in 2011 is to accumulate physical silver and DUTCH BUCKS. Yeah, I told Remko that I was gunning for his bankroll.

I don't recall too many of the hands, aside from getting my nuts blown off with a futile triple barrel bluff with Ace-high against a flopped boat. Ah, that didn't matter because I had a lot of fun donking off my stack over a ninety minute period to a couple of familiar faces from the press box such as Jess Welman, Merchdawg, and the one and only Kevin Mathers. Midway through the game, F Train took a seat and a flood of memories came back.

I could have played longer, but I had to get back to writing and besides, Change100 wanted to play a few orbits so I let her take my seat. I logged off and returned to work, but couldn't help thinking... "Man, that was a lot of fun."

I'm looking forward to playing with Remko again in my quest to conquer Dutch Bucks. In the meantime, I will be "beta testing" my own home game over the next few weeks. If all goes well, then I will create a regular game for Tao of Poker readers, probably PLO similar to Saturdays with Dr. Pauly.

For now, I'd really like to reunite some of the original crew from the Blue Parrot and play a few orbits for old times sake. If you were a regular at the Blue Parrot and want to play, please contact me. And if we lost touch, please shoot me an email so I can give you the details and we can figure out a time to play.

Also, pay attention to me on Twitter (@taopauly) over the next few weeks. I will most likely throw together a spontaneous game based on an odd work schedule and a terrible case of insomnia.

Click here for more information on PokerStars Home Games. If you'd like to play in a future Tao of Poker home game, and you don't have an account, then I suggest you download the PokerStars software and sign up today!


  1. Pokerstars home games are a stroke of genius!
    I have formed a game reuniting my poker buddies from our old game. Now I can play every week with friends who are in NY, Boston, MN, and L.A.! The home games have gotten me playing poker again after almost a year off. I'll keep my eyes peeled for Tao of Poker games!

  2. Hey Pauly, I host a home game 3x a week in the valley! If you and C100 would like to join me for an evening of low stakes NL, it would be an honor for you guys to join us. Let me know...