Monday, October 03, 2005

Back to the Tao

Life in unpredictable. That's just the way it is. I stood up on a TV set in Barcelona, Spain and had mini panic attack that lasted about five seconds. I never announced a poker tournament before and there I was, sweating my ass off under the hot lights. A professional British TV was shooting the European Poker Tour and the final table was being played in front of an audience of a couple hundred people. A very attractive blonde production assistant with a headphone and clipboard gave me a steady stream of instructions and she reassured me at the same time. I had one of those "how the fuck did I get here?" moments and nearly lost my shit. That's when I somehow grabbed control of my anxiety and said, "You're here. Have fun. Enjoy the moment." And after a deep breath, I got my shit together and finished my announcing duties.

Life is unpredictable. It's ironic that I was paid a lot of money to be a bond trader and a stockbroker at two points in my life. Clients trusted that I had some extra knowledge about the future and willingly gave over their life savings for me to invest with like I was some sort of fortunate teller in a Brooks Brothers suit. I also tended to gamble heavily over the last decade and a half, mostly on sports betting where I would attempt to predict the immediate future. Sometimes I won. Most of the times I lost, but in the end I found myself slightly ahead. Since most gamblers are long term losers, I'll take a mediocre career record any day.

When I started blogging, I had no idea what I was doing nor the impact that some of my words would eventually have. It just happened. Almost four years ago, I got in contact with an old classmate. He was a writer living in Florida. Dave "Skippy" Simanoff told me that I should start a blog. When he explained to me what blogs were, I was curious. His blog was the only one I read for a while and I eventually found other ones. I figured that my interest in my "blog project" would fizzle out but began one anyway. My friends would get a nice laugh out of it and eventually me interest would disappear and my energies would be put into other projects.

I had vision of a mega site that would be a place to host a gallery of my paintings, short stories, poems, and personal photographs that I took. My original place on the web was a free homepage on "Hotbot". It got bought out by some higher entity and I lost my free hosting. That place used to be home to my Japan Phish Tour trip reports and photos. And I constructed the entire fucker on dial up. It used to take five minutes before every page loaded, but at the time, I was something I was kinda proud of after I put my best HTML skills to work. Compared to what I'm doing today, that site was so basic and backward. But I never thought I would be updating something regularly and that would end up as a launching point or my career.

So Skippy told me to start blogging and I did. My brother and my friends liked it and some of them came back everyday. So I kept updating everyday. It was easy since I worked six or seven days a week and I was constantly in front of a computer. It was my way of taking a coffee break at work. I'd open up Blogger and flush out my thoughts at the time. I found that I spent less time discussing personals tuff and more time posting links to articles or joke or other wacky stuff that gets passed around in mass emails. Instead of clogging my friends inbox with 18 emails a day, I used the blog as a place for them to find that stuff.

I also decided to start Truckin'. I always wanted a website where my friends could post and share their own favorite personal travel stories. And with the advantages of that logger offered, I started a second blog. Truckin' was born and I honestly feel that it has the most potential to grow into something big. Right now, it's readership grows steadily with each issue, but it still has not gotten the amount of traffic that the Tao of Pauly or the Tao of Poker get on a regular basis.

Art evolves. People change. My life took on a few different turns. I lost my job on Wall Street and found myself writing more than ever but still unemployed. I hit rock bottom at one point and I turned to poker and lived off of my winnings. That probably wasn't the best thing for me to do at the time, but I somehow got out ahead. With poker being a part of my everyday life, it was inevitable that I'd write about it more. The mutiny began and devoted readers to this blog pleaded with me to start a new blog. Thus, the Tao of Poker was born. No one expected that it would grow into one of the more popular poker blogs and would get me a job where I travel all over the world and write. Life is unpredictable.

Of course with poker came a flourishing freelance writing career. Poker is in the middle of a huge boom. There's plenty of money to made with poker and businesses related to poker. That's where I came in. I understand fully that I am being used by people to make money for themselves. But I'm cool with that. Without poker, I would not have been able to start pulling myself out of a deep hole I got myself into. I paid down my second credit card a few weeks ago and I officially celebrated the fact I no longer carried any debt to those shylocks. I since then threw a few purchases on there like Trey tickets and Vegoose tickets but it's minimal compared to the five figure debt I used to have. I also paid off the Government and paid all my previous back taxes. I still owe money on a few school loans, but that's it for now. Hopefully that's my next financial undertaking... to pay that off completely.

With so much of my work dispersed over the web, it gave other future employers to see my writings and offer me work. I just recently updated my resume for the first time in over a year. Why? I was fortunate not to have to send out resumes to find work. People had been contacting me and mostly every job I was offered in the past year happened without a resume or a face-to-face interview. My writing and my blog was enough to persuade them to hire me. Today, I'm at a point where I'm consistently turning down work assignments. I'm simply too busy with projects. The good part to that is I was able to get other friends and my brother some freelance work. I know there's going to be a time when I'd kill to have the work. But for now, I'm the most busy I've ever been. Add to the mix a rigorous traveling schedule, and it's been a tough last few weeks for me. And it's gonna get worse.

So here I am on a Monday afternoon and I cranked out an article already today. I have a huge "To Do" list and I'm slowly making my way through it. One of the things I highlighted was "Back to the Tao" which meant I was going to spend one hour writing up this post. At this point, I got 10 more minutes left, so I better finish things up.

So how about a quick update on what's been going on...


I'm swamped with work. As soon as I get something done, I have another mini-project to work on. I just published the last issue of Truckin' and I got a bunch of stories to edit for the next issue.

Jen Leo also asked me to contribute a short story for a book of travel stories that will be published next year sometime. I chose Nagoya and re-worked some of it. Just a few minor changes. I'm hoping it will make the final cut. If it does, Senor and I will become immortalized in a book and our Japan hijinks will be documented. Maybe I can turn that short story into a book idea?

I joined a creative team called Massive Impact Productions after I met a great guy named Michael Friedman who writes for Poker News. He invited me to be an integral part of his team and we have a pretty cool project in development. If it works out, I'll have a tremendous opportunity to do some more writing. Its going to be a lot of work but I'm looking forward to something new and different.

I've been writing freelance pieces for a few places. I still do my regularly online columns over at Professional Poker and Poker Magazine. I've been picked up by two print publications... the UK Racing Post and Poker Pro magazine. I'll be writing a poker tournament column for Poker Pro and I'm doing "Postcards from the USA" for the UK Racing Post.

I'm still writing for Poker Player Newspaper and over at The Poker Prof is working on a new project that I can't wait for him to unveil, which should happen shortly. In the meantime, I'm still a contributor over at Las Vegas and Poker blog.

I completed up a book proposal before I left for Europe and I sent it to my contact Dan who's giving it to a few suits at Sports Publishing LLC. They published Tales from the Tiltboys which features Phil Gordon. I'm also going to be sending a few more out before I head off to Las Vegas in two weeks. I'm currently trying to take an hour or two every day to work on my new book. It's been difficult to find chunks of free time to write with my work and travel schedule.

Oh, yeah. I'm going back to Las Vegas to cover a WPT tournament at the Bellagio and take in the Vegoose music festival with the Joker. I can't wait for both.


In the past six weeks I have been in Las Vegas, Colorado (Denver & Boulder), South Carolina, New York City, Atlantic City, Malvern, PA, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Sitges, Spain. My schedule is packed through next Spring. For the rest of the year here's where I'll be:
Now - Oct. 16: NYC
Oct 17-Nov 2: Las Vegas
Nov 3-Nov 12: NYC
Nov 12-Nov 21: Foxwoods CT and Providence, Rhode Island
Nov 22-Nov 29: NYC
Nov 30-Dec 1: Las Vegas
Dec 2-Dec 4: Los Angeles
Dec 5-Dec2 3: Las Vegas
Dec 23-Dec 31: NYC
I have to wait until next year to go back to Europe. Denmark, France, and Monte Carlo are stops on the EPT and I'd like to go to two of them.


I can't wait for Vegoose at the end of the month. I even wrote a short bit about Vegoose over at Some of the late night shows seem like they're gonna be epic. The Joker and I have tickets to Trey Band, Widespread Panic (on Halloween), and Sound Tribe Sector 9. We're trying to get Galactic tickets as we speak. Should be a nice little bender of music and debauchery ending on Halloween.

I've been listening to Comes A Time: A Tribute to Jerry Garcia featuring members of the Grateful Dead with Warren Haynes and Trey Anastasio on guitar! Pretty cool stuff and I've been writing to it all afternoon. Warren Haynes did a kick ass version of Stella Blue.

I scored tickets to Trey Anastasio Band for a show at Roseland Ballroom and one in Wallingford, CT. I also got Galactic tickets for their stopover in NYC.

Books, Movies and TV

My reading has slowed down substantially. I've been reading Ace on the River by Barry Greenstien. I'd read the completion of Tales from the Tiltboys when I was in Europe. I need to add some non-poker literature to the mix.

I caught a few flicks on flights to and from Europe including Mr. and Mrs. Smith and The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Both were better than expected. It seems that I see more movies in theatres when I'm in Las Vegas. Grubby always gets free previews so I'll probably catch one while I'm out there.

Since Derek got TiVO, I caught up on watching The O.C. and all of this season of Entourage. Damn, that show rocks. TiVo is great to have since I'm hitting the road again in a few weeks. We also taped old episodes of the WSOP finals from the mid-1990s where the production value is very low and Gabe Kaplan announces.

Fantasy Football and the Yankees

Uncle Jodd's Band, my fantasy team with Derek and Senor was in first place after a 3-0 start. We slipped to 3-1 after an awful week. Plus Michael Vick got hurt again. Dammit.

The Jets are toast. Vinny is still color blind and the Jets are doomed.

The Yankees need to keep up their excellent play. They ended the season as hot as they have ever been with the worst pitching luck I have seen in years. It's going to be an exciting next few days and I'm not going to be getting any work done during the series with LA.

The Rangers are back and I'll give them a shot. I'm sure it's a matter of time before they disappoint me. On the other hand, let's hope Larry Brown can do something with the Knicks who have been toast every since Jeff Van Gundy left.

Damn, I'm out of time. Let's hope I can keep up my goal of devoting more time to the Tao of Pauly.

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