Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Buy Lost Vegas!!

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Click here to buy Lost Vegas.

Yes, the time is now. You can officially buy a copy of Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers, and the World Series of Poker.

I am selling the book via a third-party seller, Lulu.com. The books are print-on-demand (POD) which means that they are environmentally safe for all of you tree huggers. We will not waste any paper. Lulu prints copies as you order them.

So anyway, you can go here to buy the book.

* * * * *

Anyway, here are some quick Lost Vegas FAQs...
Q. When and where will the book be available for purchase?

A. Lost Vegas is due out June 29, 2010 and exclusively sold at Lulu.com. Click here to buy a copy.

Q. Will there be an e-version of the book?

A. Not yet. However, we will be releasing an e-version in a few months. Soon come.

Q. Can I buy the book on Amazon.com?

A. Not yet. For now, the book is exclusively available at Lulu.com.

Q. What are the best shipping options?

A. Media mail takes 5-15 days for delivery and cost under $6 (for one book). If you want to be a baller and blow a wad on expedited shipping charges, so be it. Rest assured, there is a less expensive shipping alternative. Lulu is currently running a "free summer shipping" promotion, so take advantage of that!

Q. I live in a country outside of America. Can I get a copy?

A. Yes. The shipping might be pricey, but Lost Vegas is available for delivery to most places on Earth.

Q. Can I get an autographed copy?

A. Unfortunately, I am unable to send you an autographed copy. However, if you track me down at the Rio during the WSOP, I'd be happy to sign a copy for you. Or, if you happen to find me in the parking lot of a Phish show, then I'll be even more happy to oblige.

Q. Can I get a free copy?

A. No. I've been writing for free on Tao of Poker (and other sites) for many years and I have never asked for a cent. Here's your chance to make it up. It's taken me five years to write this book, I have to earn a living somehow.

Q. Can I get a review copy?

A. If you have been selected to receive a review copy, chances are you have already heard from me. Otherwise, you will not be getting a review copy. Unfortunately, I do not get any free books. Review copies come out of my pocket which is why I only sent out a limited amount.

Q. Will there be a hardcover version?

A. At the present moment... no. However, if there is a significant amount of interest, I will consider launching a hardcover collector's version in a few months.

Q. When will the French version be available?

A. Most likely in late 2010. Inculte will be publishing Lost Vegas in French. Benjo is writing the translation.

Q. Will there be other translated versions?

A. I'm in the process of negotiating a Spanish version and a German version. At the present moment, Lost Vegas will only be available in English.

Q. How do I contact you to do an interview?

A. Shoot me an email at pauly AT taopoker DOT com. We can arrange something. However, please understand this disclaimer: the World Series of Poker Main Event is the busiest time of the year for me (begins July 5th through July 17th). I am unable to fulfill every request during the first half of July. Rest assured, once the WSOP is over, I will have more free time to chat about Lost Vegas and I can give you my full attention.

If you have any other questions, do not hesitate to contact me.

Oh, don't forget you can click here to buy a copy.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Almost There...

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Big announcement coming in the next 24 hours.

I can't wait, because I've been stressed so much the last week that I've been having massive headaches and chest pains. At one point, I thought I was having a heart attack. The last month has been unbearable, suffice to say due to all these delays and headaches with my book. Oh, and that is compounded with the usual stresses of moving to Las Vegas and covering the circus that is the WSOP.

Plus there seemed to be more drama this summer and a lot more of my peers utterly miserable. With the Poker Shrink no longer in poker, the role of poker media psychiatrist fell upon my shoulders. On an average day, I must have seen at least five or six friends who simply unload all of their strife and worries onto me. I quietly listen. There is no solution for them other than to stay positive, keep working hard, and remembering to have pride in your work.

Alas, problems arose when all of my internal issues started to back up without venting about them. Without the Shrink around, I had no one to talk to about some of those matters. Plus, I was also dealing with a lot of new problems (publishing woes, anxiety about my contract with the French publishing company). Sometimes my friends are the ones who set me straight and pull me out of a funk. But for the first time in a while, I was utterly lost without someone for me to chat to -- and I had so many problems brewing that I started to drown in my own misery.

On a good note, I survived.... barely. I'll have some good news to write about tomorrow, and the end of the week will find me back on the road again for a few Phish shows to close out the first leg of their summer tour.

I'm so done with Las Vegas in more ways than you will ever know.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Even More Vegas Podcasts!

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

In case you wanted to hear quick episodes (around 3 to 5 minutes) about my daily exploits in Las Vegas, here's your chance...
Episode 28: World Matt Savage Tour - One of the bigger non-WSOP stories this week involved Matt Savage, who was just named Executive Tour Director of the WPT. Michalski does an amazing job kissing up to Matt in this episode.

Episode 29: Massage Girls Rubbing Massage Girls with Benjo - I followed Benjo into the Poker Kitchen and noticed a couple of massage girls sitting two tables away. One of them was working on the forearm and elbow of the other. I usually have to pay two women to tough themselves in front of me. We got a free show.

Episode 30: Sats, Lammers, and Deep Stacks - Michalski and Pauly hang out in front of the Pavilion and discuss satellites and the introduction of a daily (non-bracelet) deep stack tournament at the Rio. They also discuss how Change100 got in trouble by security for trying to sell one of her lammers.

Episode 31: Chair Thief with Benjo - Pauly quizzes Benjo about what had been driving him nuts during the first three weeks of the WSOP. They discuss drunken railbirds stealing chairs, fruit salads belonging to the media, foul-smelling players, and "hourly restrictions" on updates.

Episode 32: Pre-PPA - Michalski tells Pauly about his upcoming dinner with the state directors of the PPA. Pauly pretends to be mildly impressed, while Michalski is more eager to eat seafood than talk politics.

Episode 33: Post-PPA - Michalski debriefs Pauly after his free swordfish dinner at Buzio's courtesy of the PPA. Based on what Michalski described, Pauly compares the batch of online poker lobbyists and politicos to The Bad News Bears.

Episode 34: Podcast About a Podcast About a Podcast - Here's a little something that you might have to consult Charlie Kaufman to help decipher this fugue. Michalski gives Pauly props for his stint on the 2+2 Pokercast last week. Meanwhile, Pauly suggests that 2+2 moderator Kevin Mathers is not an actual human being, but rather a piece of artificial intelligence created by Bill Chen.

Episode 35: French Man Kissing with Benjo - There's a real s'affrontent going on in the $10k heads-up, with Bertrand Grospellier, arguably the #1 player in France right now, battling Benjo's pal Lucovic Lacay, currently the top contender capable of dethroning him. All the excitement has the French guys on the rail madly...kissing? Benjo breaks down the questionable nature of these public displays of Euro-affection.

Episode 36: Touching Tom Senior with Benjo - DonkeyBomber's going deep in the Seniors event, but did Dan ruin his chances for a bracelet in "the oxygen" event) with some inappropriate touching? Player superstitions aside, there's some real concern about Toothless Bob, who was going into this event as the Team Pokerati favorite but may or may not have shown up to play.

Episode 37: Benjo Busting with Benjo - After weeks of watching poker, Benjo can't resist the urge to play and signs up for the $100 11 pm "brogdig" tournament. We learn first that Benjo is actually a very weak player. And then we learn he's been doing some undercover reporting at the cash tables, where he learns that the Rio occasionally has an overaggressive rake.

Episode 38: Jerry Buss's iPhone with Benjo - When LA Lakers owner Jerry Buss comes to Las Vegas to celebrate his National Championship by playing the $10k HORSE, he needs a little juice for his iPhone, which Benjo graciously supplies. He doesn't try to hawk it though, instead seeing a long-term plan complete with courtside tickets and the digits of multiple barely legal vixens.

Episode 39 - Hellmuth's Non-Hold'em Final Table - Dan happens to wander into the Rio at the exact time Phil Hellmuth advanced to the final table of the PLO/8 event. Pauly and Dan head up to the Beef Jerky lounge to get a better look at the Hellmuthian circus.

Episode 40 - Gavin Smith's Ass Crack - Pauly and Dan saunter into the Pavilion Ballroom, where they rarely hang out. During the recording of this particular episode, they're ambushed by a couple of the entities from Wicked Chops Poker. At some point, a discussion about a masseuse working on Gavin Smith's upper ass region breaks out.
To listen to older episodes, visit the Tao of Pokerati archives.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

SPAC Part I: Step Into the Tweeprise

By Pauly
New York City

SPAC is an amazing state park, but the majority of the lawn area blows due to the elaborate construction of the "shed" which includes a balcony hovering over a covered section with reserved seating. The acoustic inside are amazing, but the lawn is another beast. The balcony shakes and sways depending on the song. That's when you know if the crowd is having fun -- by how much the balcony rattles.

I drew lawn seats in the lottery and luckily found a pair of pavilions at slightly above face. Someone was cool enough to trade three lawns for two pavs. We still had plenty of lawn seats to sell and headed to the lot early. I went to the shows with Irongirl. The rest of the Coventry crew had sit SPAC out (resting up for the last four of this run and most of the second leg). Last summer, we hooked Irongirl up with a pav seat for her first ever Phish show. Like many Deadheads, she slowly warmed up to Phish, and now she can't wait until they blow through town. She let me crash with her during the Albany shows which had one of my favorite moments of 3.0 -- Seven Below > Ghost. Irongirl is the perfect tour buddy with many years under her belt as a veteran of Dead tour. She also acted as the designated driver -- which allowed me to get shitfaced both nights, particularly Saturday.

Word got out that the police would be out in force for the Phish shows, thanks to Jonas' post. Because Irongirl doesn't drink, we weren't going to have a problem with cops searching her SUV for booze because they'd find none. Since she's a local, she knew the back roads into the park. We opted for the west lot (across the bridge) because that's where Shakedown was set up and where, according to Twitter, the po-po activity was rather light.

After a delicious stop at PJ's for BBQ, we made our way over to the west lot and passed through one of many sobriety checkpoints. A K-9 unit was circling a Subaru, while an officer tore through the back and trunk, and a little wookete in handcuffs was being led into a squad car.

We parked a couple of rows back from Shakedown. Within thirty seconds, Irongirl had a buyer for her Sunday lawn tickets. Two scalpers buzzed me and offered $25... then $30... and finally $35 for a ticket before I told him to fuck off. I found a frat boy who wanted to pay me face, but a hipster with a funny-Canadian accent tried to undercut me. He looked like a tweaker and said he was from Montreal. I cursed at him in French (called him a pig fucker) and told him to undercut the scalpers instead.

Within a half hour, I sold all four of my lawns; 2 for face and 2 for 80% market value. Not bad considering $30 seemed to be the standard buying price from the public. I passed by a guy my age who had a little kid with him wearing a Jeter t-shirt. I couldn't tell if he was a head or a scalper trying to dump his load before the show starts. One of the kids I sold my extra to told me one of those "close call" stories that become urban myths on Phish tour. He was riding with a friend of a friend, whom he described as "wookish" which almost got them screwed. The kid was riding dirty with a couple of zips of Diesel and 100 rolls. They stopped at a police checkpoint and the cop asked, "Do you have any liquor?"

The wook driver answered, "Well, um.... um.... um.... (pause)... no."

Wrong answer. The cop was dubious. In those instances you give up the booze as a "tax" for safe passage into the show, considering what everyone else was holding. The wook fucked up (and he was a walking "probable cause" and asking to get searched) and the kid in the back seat was shitting bricks. He assumed that he was going to jail -- K-9 wouldn't smell the rolls, but the weed would tip them off. The wook asked the cop if they poured out all the beer would they'd be free to go. The cop said no and asked for everyone's IDs. Luckily, he returned five minutes later, confiscated the booze, and told them to go. The kid got super lucky and sucked out without a thorough inspection from the K-9 unit. Meanwhile, he said he kicked the wook in the nuts after they parked the car for losing the booze and almost getting them tossed in jail.

The lot slowly filled up, but most of the vendors were keeping the beer sales on the ultimate down low. It had been a while since I wandered through a crowd and I heard the faint whispers of doses, molly, and headies.

Irongirl's mother had leftover expired generic lortabs, which I inherited. I popped a half in the lot to see what would happen. I couldn't tell if it had kicked in, so I popped a Perc and made our way to Sec 9. We were about 2/3 back on Page side. Not too shabby, but the folks around us were chill thrillseekers which always enhances a Phish show. The lawn is always tough because you almost without fail get stuck next to some moron at some point during the show that won't shut the fuck up or is too wasted that you fear he's gonna hurl all over you during Lawn Boy.

I spotted a guy with a FUNKY BITCH sign. The Joker had mentioned that Phish had turned into a request band, so it's in everyone's best interest to bring witty signs to shows in hopes of hearing your favorite (obscure) song.
97 - Year of the Funk.
98 - Year of the Cover.
04 - Oxy Years.
10 - Year of the Request.
The Phish closed out the second night in Hartford with a pair of Tweezer Reprise encores -- the second to make up for the Hershey show when Phish was short on time. Ah, the old Phish would have said, "Fuck the curfew, we'll pay the fine!" But 3.0 Phish features company men who honor their contracts. They left Tweeprize off of the playlist that night and tried to make up for it during Hartford's encore. I've seen a Sneaking Sally reprise at MSG in 1997 and the infamous Chalkdust Torture Reprise during the Deer Creek shows in 2000 (the indirect origins of why I often refer to the band as "the Phish" when Trey is quoting Peter Jennings). Alas, I was bummed that I missed out on the back-to-back Tweeprise.

So how could Phish top that? By kicking off SPAC with Tweezer Reprise, which had instantly set the tone for the night - we're funny, we're Phish, we can do whatever the fuck we want. After whipping the crowd into a frenzy, Chalkdust Torture added fuel to the fire. Talk about a hot start with two uplifting crowd favorites. At that point, I was so thrilled to be at Phish and not working inside a casino!

I wondered if the band saw the sign because Funky Bitch came in at third and kept up the high-energy first set. I scanned the crowd for more signs and spotted a guy with an orange sign with "Shaggy Dog" on one side and "Crosseyed and Painless" on the other. I was putting out the Crosseyed vibe.

During Yamar, two guys in front of us left their seats for a beer run. Within thirty seconds, a wook jumped from three rows back into their spot. Beware the seat jumpers during summer tour. The second you snooze, they will gobble up your seat until the see a new opening. Normally I don't care (unless it's my seat) but this wook happened to unleash a trail of farts during Fluffhead that almost suffocated me. Think Sadam unleashing mustard gas on the Kurds -- it was on that level of foul play.

By the end of Yamar, the 1+2 punch of the pharmies had kicked in and that warm fuzzy glow had ignited to a small forest fire. I was feeling no pain. In my notes, I scribbled down: "Axilla. Wasted." Yep, I had reached my peaked fuckedupness of the night, but I listened to the set a couple of times since then and the moment I reached my apex of insobriety of the weekend was the exact time that I thought Phish kicked it into a new gear with Axilla and Fluffhead. Page stepped up on Fluffhead and unleashed a bid for MVP as he seized the charge on both parts of Funky Bitch and Fluffhead. The energy level during the Albany Fluffhead was intense and as strong as I had personally witnessed last year. That was hard to replicate, but the crowd was still glowing. At this point, it's time to admit that Fluffhead needs to be skipped a day or three in the rotation. It needs to be one of those songs that appear once or twice a tour in order to retain an explosive response from the audience... much like Suzy Greenberg. Less is more.

I was tripping out on the funnels of light that Kuroda unleashed during Fluffhead, which was just around the time that it had gotten pitch dark outside so the lights finally had their full effect. I got hooked on watching the lights during Bathtub Gin, and listened a lot to Page's solos during the last part of their jam out.

The glowsticks were unleashed on the lawn during a raunchy Suzy Greenberg. Impressive display of glowing lights that pierced through the blackened sky. It was a matter of time before the sticks rained down into the pavilion and smacked me in the head. At setbreak, we saw a young bride in a gown with a bouquet. I assumed that it was legit, if not, it was one convincing (yet frightening) costume.

I must have been having a really good time because I don't have any notes written down during the first three songs of the second set. I was just having a good time and enjoying the music. I had been working so much the previous three weeks, the last thing I wanted to do was have to document every single thought.

I got to see Phish because of the music that they make up on the spot a few times a night during extended jams in specific songs that are vehicles for the unknown. Rock and Roll has morphed into a cover song to feature Page's chops but it also allows the band to open up and explore new territory. The jam out got off to a proper start but fizzled out. Phish took a shot and miss, but that's OK. I'd rather see them take those chances than play it safe... or even bore me with TTE.

Halfway to the Moon needs work, but I always love Page songs. Is it really about Manute Bol? All I know is that I was still floating up in the atmosphere at that point of the night. I was far from my peak, but still out there. I dug the segue into Caspian but they never finished it, which is the best part of the song. They continued to mellow out the set with Joy. That was the first time all set that I sat down to take notes. David Bowie saved the set. I caught a few disasters last summer and fall, but this one was definitely above average. I finally got to see Show of Life, which I expect will be in rotation all summer. Songs need work, at least a dozen times before they really take on a life of their own. I'm not gushing over the tune, but I have a feeling that it will be one of those songs that will improve the more they play it.

When the boys opened up the show with Tweeprise, I joked around that they might close with it -- the only way they could top themselves. Well, after hearing the first few notes to Coil I figured that it was not going to happen, especially when they followed it up with Character Zero. At that point, I estimated the chances at less than 1%. Phish rarely plays a three-song encore, so I was floored when they busted out the opening notes to Tweeprise. The crowd went berserk. Apeshit. Bananas. Trey was jizzing all over the crowd for a fourth time in 24 hours and they were lapping it up, me included.

I walked out pretty pumped to have seen any Phish. I knew it wasn't the best show I had ever seen, but I wasn't really paying too close attention. I was simply happy to be there, and as such, had a blast by just being able to hear Phish. Because I wasn't doing most of the tour, anything they had played was fresh for me -- no repeats even though they had begun to recycled some of the more popular songs since the tour kicked off.

We made our way out of the show and someone had the bright idea of selling nitrous on the bridge. First of all, it's dangerous to a bunch of hippie crackheads who might stumbled the wrong way and take a head dive into oncoming traffic. Plus, there was nowhere to scatter if they got caught by po-po. As we made our way to the other side, a couple of cops were racing trough the crowd to bust the tank. Location is the key to any successful business venture, but you also have to plan for suitable escape routes, which those balloon slingers failed to incorporate.

One show down, one to go.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Prelude to SPAC

By Pauly
New York City

I missed the lot.

Sure, I traveled to SPAC for the music (flight from Las Vegas to NYC, then train to Albany), but I missed the lot. I can listen to Phish any time in an attempt to replicate a live concert experience, but the parking lot is its own indigenous entity. Shakedowns sprout up all the time at different music festivals in the parking lots of other bands, but nothing is quite like the enthusiasm, energy, and effervescence of the Phish lot. I missed it dearly. The biggest party in town.

The last couple of shows I saw (MSG and Miami) had odd lot scenes. For one, MSG lacked one entirely while Miami during the NYE run was a little too out of control with nitrous all over and the local homeless freaks, drug dealers, and other miscreants had mixed with the traveling carnival of Phisheads. Miami was as crazy as I've seen it in the 3.0 era including random busts by undercovers. I'm partial to a raging lot, but Miami was a little too spicy for even my tastes, which is why I was excited for SPAC because one of my most favorite things about the overall Phish experience is a stroll through the lot before AND after the show. That's the best way to take the pulse of the community, the phans on the street, and assess how the band's playing is affecting the crowd.

The moment we pulled up, a a hint of garlic wafted my way, I had that sort of goosebumpy feeling that I was finally back where I belong. Over the next two days, I'd peel off the outside layers of life tilt that had calcified and almost turned me into a mummy.

I'm not an escapist. If anything I spent most of my adult life commenting on the forms of escapism in our lives. In some sense, Phish is a vessel of escapism -- the music, the scene, the tour, the lifestyle, et al. But I don't focus on that as much as the spirit of the crowd -- people from different places who dropped everything in their diverse lives to come see Phish at this given time in space. For that, I'm always excited to be a part of any collective experience. That's why so many fans gush over or connect with other phans who have had similar shared moments. That's why I've seen Phish 191 times.

I spent the last three weeks in Las Vegas. My job entailed me sitting inside a casino for anywhere from 8 to 18 hours at a time writing about degenerate gamblers playing cards. It's a comfortable living, but being indoors all the time inside a vortex of negativity seriously damages your mental status and makes you lose faith in humanity and institutions. You also start to question God and faith -- all of which I detailed in my upcoming book Lost Vegas. I started to drown about two weeks into my summer assignment. Thoughts of seeing Phish at SPAC became my only life preserver which I clung too while the raging sea tried to swallow me up. SPAC gave me something to look forward to and I was counting down the hours before I could flee Sin City for a quick two-show hit and run.

The hardest part was leaving my girlfriend behind and a few Phisheads who couldn't make the journey with me. One of the benefits of doing what I do is the ability to set my own schedule. Last summer, I skipped 20 days of the WSOP (a 48-day festival of poker) to see Phish and I didn't regret a second of that. This year, I reduced the number of days off to just nine days away for six shows. SPAC was Part 1 of 2 side trips that I planned this summer.

I've often wrote that your personal headspace sets the tone for a particular show. Sometimes, disappointment occurs when you walk into the venue with lofty expectations (which happened at the last half of the fall tour after those sizzling Cincy shows which ended up being the highwater mark of Phish in the 3.0 era). So in this instance, I was simply happy to see Phish for the first time since New Years and at the same time, I was thrilled to be away from a negative work environment and enjoy my first day off after working everyday for three weeks. In that regard, they could do no wrong. Trey could pee into my ears and I'd be giddy about it save for an odd snarky remark on Twitter.

I had a tremendous amount of fun at SPAC. Have I heard better Phish (this tour, in 3.0, at SPAC, ever)? Yes. But I can't recall a time I needed a Phish show badly more than this weekend. In those respects, these SPAC shows will always have sentimental value for me.

Lucky for me, Irongirl lived very close to SPAC and let me crash at her pad. She's like my big sister and is always looking out for me. We have so many common experiences, especially in music, plus she's a veteran of Dead tour and attended both UVM and CU-Boulder. She's been entrenched in hippie circles since the 1980s and simply put, she's got her shit together and is the perfect tour buddy since she's really into Phish now after slowly embracing the band. We mesh well as friends even though she's been clean and sober for an impressive two decades -- and everyone knows my struggles. She mastered the discipline of clean living and is able to function in a a highly-tempting environment, which makes me admire her willpower even more so. I can't walk down Shakedown without coming out the other side with a fistful of goodies that will fly me to Jupiter's moons. Meanwhile, Irongirl more than welcomes the role as designated driver, especially since she knows the Saratoga/Albany area well, like the back of her hand. In short, Irongirl carted around my faded ass during the Albany shows last fall and these two SPAC shows. That's why she's super awesome and I can never thank her enough!

Now, I sit here in NYC with one eye on the clock knowing that I have a flight back to Vegas in a few hours. I'd rather not go, instead, prepping for a show at Great Woods, but instead, I'm shuffling off to Vegas and re-commiting myself to the insane asylum for ten or so days before I break out to see the North Carolina shows and the Atlanta shows. I'm about to delve deep into my notes and string together some sort of narrative about the weekend as the show plays in the background. But nothing I write can replicate the jarring shock to my system that I got during the first few minutes I stepped into the lot and the same feeling returned when Phish opened up the Saturday show with Tweezer Reprise.

It really felt as though I was in my happy place for the first time in months.

A heavy blanket of darkness was lifted thanks to a sojourn to Saratoga. I'm saddened that I'll be tossed back under the blanket, but for a brief moment, I got to feel what it was like to hang out with the old me. It's the real me that I haven't seen in a while that I miss dearly. I loathe what I've become, especially the type of person that Vegas had transformed me into. Which is to say, I'm fighting the urge to cancel my flight to Vegas, shrug off my responsibilities, put aside the book (I've waited five years, what's another couple of weeks?), and follow the path back to the person I miss dearly. Me.

Friday, June 18, 2010

This Week in Poker - Episode 1

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

My buddies from Wicked Chops Poker recently launched a new weekly live webcast called This Week In Poker. It will be hosted over at This Week In, which is the brainchild of Jason Calacanis and Kevin Pollack.

The first episode was broadcast this past Tuesday. I was one of the guests on the inaugural episode with Oscar-nominated actress Jen Tilly. Phil Hellmuth was scheduled to be the third guest, but he was a no-show and luckily, the gang let Jen Tilly talk about a ton of funny shit.

I was truly honored to have been part of the first show, and I hope to make another cameo before the summer ends to plug Lost Vegas. When the WSOP is over, the show will move to its home studio in L.A., so there's a very good chance I make a few in-studio cameos.

I was very nervous to start out because I'm used to doing radio and podcasts, but not TV/video. I finished strong which was important. It was kinda cool that I got to "open" for Jen Tilly as the warm up act.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

More Las Vegas Podcasts: Tao of Pokerati - Episodes 20-27

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

In case you were dying to hear more episodes of the fastest poker podcast in the universe, we have a bunch including a couple of World Cup and soccer-themed episodes...
Episode 20: 2010 World Cup: Benjo's Bets and Conspiracy Theories with Benjo - Pauly, Dan, and Benjo the upcoming World Cup. Benjo tells us about his picks and a couple of conspiracy theories that our favorite Bulgarian bartender shared with him. Pauly and Dan pontificate on the gross discrepancies in the World Cup lines between Strip properties and off Strip sports books.

Episode 21: Durrrr Traffic with Benjo - To off set the long World Cup episode, we recorded a quickie where we discuss which Tao of Pokerati episodes drew the most traffic. You'd be surprised to find out that Lesbian Kiss is not the top episode!

Episode 22: Midnight Hallways - Dan shows up at the Rip kinda late and points out a few things in the hallways that he finds interesting or simply WSOP cliches.
Episode 23: Kick Your Cookie - Pauly and Dan talk discuss the first wave of malaise that hits the WSOP at the 15 day mark, including the difficulty of maintain relationships, and the downside of working in an environment where everyone around you is having gun and getting shitfaced.

Episode 24: Team Pokerati Faltering - While ogling hot railbirds, Dan laments the demise of the pros playing under the Team Pokerati umbrella. The DonkeyBomber min-cashed in a few events, but he had much higher expectations (he expects to win or at the least final table any event he plays). Meanwhile, while DonkeyBomber is struggling, the rest of the crew is collapsing. Although everyone else is on the verge of going broke, Toothless Bob has surprisingly been the MVP.
Episode 25: USA vs. England with Benjo - Pauly overslept and missed the kick off of the highly-anticipated match between England and USA in the World Cup. The crew hang out at the sports book at the Rio and watch the match, while Dan struggles to talk about soccer on a basic level with a European fan with advanced knowledge.

Episode 26: LaLa FTW with Benjo - Dan and Benjo give a preview of the Ladies Only final table. Both have players they are sweating -- Dan has a Team Pokerati Asia player, La Sengphet., while Benjo is keeping tabs on France's Vanessa Hellebuyck.

Episode 27: Ladies Final Hand - Dan and Pauly record an episode during heads-up play recapping Team Pokerati Asia's run at the final table, but before they can finish, both players are all in and they capture the winning moment on tape.
To listen to older episodes, visit the Tao of Pokerati archives.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Music Jogs the Memory

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Here are a few random thoughts about music and songs and memories...

- My first introduction to tranny hookers was courtesy of Lou Reed's Walk on the Wild Side. When I first heard the lyrics as a kid, I quite didn't comprehend the "alt" lifestyle that Reed was familiar with. The song also had a reference to Valium, which is the cure all for any sort of unwanted excitement - whether it be cocaine-induced paranoia, an anxiety attack, or just sheer overhyperness due to too much stimulation.

- When I started high school, some of my favorite music was contemporary - bust as the older I got, I started going deeper and deeper into the past. When I began high school, I would have said Van Halen was my favorite band, but by the time I graduated I was heavy into the Rolling Stones, The Clash, and Allman Brothers Band. I was into Aerosmith - but it was the late 1980s version of Aerosmith. I'm one of those Gen-Xers who first heard about Steven Tyler because of the RUN D MC video re-mix of Walk This Way. To this day, whenever I heard the opening notes to Walk This Way, I'm expecting to hear RUN D MC's version.

- My mom listened to the oldies station a lot when I was a kid. They played the Beatles, but not the trippy Beattles, rather all of that early 1960s She Loves You Yeah Yeah pop-crapola and none of the avant-garde psychedelic stuff. I'd have to go to the "classic rock" station to hear those tunes with the druggies who died of ODs... Hendrix, Janis, and Morrison.

- I think I was in the second grade when our music teacher taught us how to sing Yesterday. Looking back, I realize he was a fucking hippie stoner trying to turn John Lennon and the Beatles onto a bunch of innocent Catholic school kids. Lennon was killed later that year. We stopped singing Beatles songs.

-I used to make fun of a couple of guys in my fraternity for being heavy into jazz music. I'd give them shit for wearing black, sitting int he dark, smoking weed and clove cigarettes and listening to Kind of Blue. I was a hardcore Deadhead at that time and I was partial to jazz, but it would still be a few years before I really got a jazz education. When I first moved back to NYC after college, a lot of my circle of friends were musicians -- many of them were in jazz bands or playing in jazz side projects. I'd go see them play at random dives in the East Village and on the Lower East Side. They were the ones giving me my initial education - which were essentially the musicians whom they admired. They loaned me CDs and I recall Bruce giving me his entire John Coltrane anthology. after they played gigs, I would ask about certain songs they played and they'd clue me in on who did the original and which version I should listen to.

-When I moved to Seattle, I found a local jazz station and listened for an hour or so every day. Guys I used to play poker with were in an acid-jazz band called Kilgore Trout. They also had some eclectic influences and passed a few of those on. By the time I migrated back to NYC at the end of the 1990s, I had a decent collection and would spend many hours sitting in the dark and listening to jazz music while I rode out a heavy wave of depression. When I eventually snapped out of that phase, I started listening to jazz music while I wrote. The two seemed to mesh together and I could leave it on in the background and it always kept me in the right frame of mind to write.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Black Hole Side Step

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

So much of what I do is surrounded by high school type drama that it's impossible to wander around without getting sucked into one of those black holes.

Frankly, much of this drama ruined my productivity this week. I estimated that I wasted 20-25 hours on petty bullshit. OK, maybe 5-10 was essential, but the rest was a waste of my time and energy at a point when I have very little time to begin with.

I got sucked into three black holes last week. Two of my friends got stuck and I dove in after them. I'd do it again in a heartbeat, which is why I was pissed that I got sucked into a third one, well not really full on, more like 2.75 black holes. I realized that the third black hole was an issue is such a touchy subject that it really caused a rift in something that really should have been fun and celebratory. Don't you hate that? When something that's supposed to bring people together gets torn apart?

I was able to speak my mind without having to get involved in the ensuing fall out and drama. I got sucked into that twice already in the week, the last thing I wanted to do was go crazy after an insane weekend where I think I had my first mental breakdown of the summer. Since this is my 6th summer in Las Vegas, I expect a major meltdown and two minor ones to flare up. Every summer. That's what happens when you work inside a casino for 100+ hours a week for seven straight weeks. No human can withstand that constant bombardment of stimuli, depravity, and lack of morality.

Last summer, I had a minor shitfest at the beginning of the summer and a big blowup (that was over quick and not really a mental breakdown as much as someone was being a real asshole and I stood up for myself) . But on Saturday -- wow -- talk about a mental meltdown when I went from firing on all cylinders to turning my brain to mush and looking at my hands shaking like a Parkinson's patient. Luckily only a few were privy to the anguish that I was sweating for a few hours.

I got out of the tailspin and flew away unscathed. But, I was on the edge of the abyss for a few moments. I'm much better now and realize that it could have been a lot uglier. People make irrational and stupid decisions when they are distraught. I'm lucky nothing of that sort happened.

I also see how foolish I was to get stuck in a few traps which lead to black holes. I see friends walking right into black holes left and right. I dunno if I have the strength to keep pulling them out.

I've had four or five really difficult weeks in 2010, but this past one is definitely up there. Ironically, in the last week, I penned two of the better posts that I wrote so far this summer. I guess I thrive on the few hours of peacefulness that I get when I finally go home to write. I look forward to the three or fours hours at the end of the night between 3 and 7am when I write up a recap after sifting through a few pages of notes and tweets. The hard part is that I have to spend 12 hours a day dealing with bullshit -- mostly others -- and most of that fabricated drama.

I loathe fabricated drama. It's all around me. Insecurities of my peers are floating around like flu germs. I have to wash my hands or I'll get infested by their negativity. I see so many people coming apart, unraveling, losing their minds. And we're only at the start of week three of seven.

My goal for this week is to be numb to it all. I want to be sober so I can enjoy next weekend when I see Phish in SPAC. But then again, the best way I can ignore all of the drama is to be numb to it all. For some reason, when I'm floating a few feet off the ground, it's impossible to step into a black hole since I'm hovering over it.

I got two big deadlines, well three if you count the proofreading of Lost Vegas. Once I'm done with all three, I'm gonna float for the rest of the week and ignore all of the immature antics.

Maybe that's the key for the next 40+ days. Keep floating to avoid the black holes.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

More Podcasts from Las Vegas 12-19

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Here are a bunch of podcasts that we recorded over the last week with Michalski and Benjo. Nicky (aka Change100) made two guest spots.
Episode 12: Missed Connections - While recording the an episode of the Poker Beat in the hallway, Dan was interrupted twice: Pauly slapped him on the head and anonymous woman kissed him on the forehead before she slipped into the Amazon Ballroom. Dan's not-so good peripheral vision prevented him from properly identifying his fawning female admirer. During this episode of Tao of Pokerati, Pauly gives Dan advice on trying to find out the identity of the kissing bandit.

Episode 13: What's in a Douchebag with Change100 - We head off the strip and record an episode at our local breakfast joint on the west side of town. Change100 and Michalski discuss a Las Vegas invasion of douchebags via Jersey Shore.

Episode 14: WSOP Fetish with Benjo - An astute observation by Benjo that WSOP tournaments are like different types of porn, particularly the specialty events, like the 10K Stud are fetish porn.

Episode 15: Stalking the Devil with Benjo - After getting a tip from the Poker Grump about a chest-heavy woman in the poker room, Pauly and Benjo spring into action. Along the way they get distracted by the poker kitchen and then debate the merits of stalking the one we refer to as... The Devil.

Episode 16: Durrrrr Bracelet Buyout? with Benjo - While the final table of Event #11 Donkament was being set up, Benjo spotted a group of the Big Game regulars (who bet against durrrr) having a quick meeting. The T.O.P. crew speculate on a potential bracelet bet buy-out if durrrr continues to dominate the Donkament.

Episode 17: Durrrrament Exhale with Benjo - Moments after the donkament ended and durrrr took second, Benjo and Pauly headed over to the rail of the 10K Stud8 event to watch the pros' reactions who bet against durrrr winning a bracelet and dodged a massive bullet.

Episode 18: Week 1 Recap - Pauly and Dan step outside the Rio for a breath of fresh air as they recap the highs and lows of Week 1 of the 2010 WSOP.

Episode 19: Douchebag Bracketology with Change100 - The discussion of Las Vegas douchebag stereotypes continues while Dan and Change100 submit "teams" and matchups for a March Madness, er Douche Madness. Pauly moderates the discussion and assigns seeds to different douches.
Listen to more episodes at the Tao of Pokerati Archives.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Five minutes before Nicky and I were about leave our apartment on Tuesday, she noticed that a Fed Ex truck had pulled up in front of our condo.

"Is that it?" she squealed with excitement.

I had been waiting a couple of days for two proof copies of Lost Vegas. This is literally the last step before I can officially sign off on the project. I noticed a couple if stylistic errors already so we're going to tweak what we can and then we're done. At that point, I flip the switch and we can start selling Lost Vegas to the public.

I slowly opened the box and Nicky was super excited as the anticipation rose. I was mostly terrified because I dreaded the worst -- that the book would look like shit. Alas, when I pulled the shrink-wrapped books out of the box, I finally saw a material product that represented five intense years of work.

I held my breath as I tore open the plastic. I fumbled a bit because my hands were shaking. The inspected the binding first. Have no idea why. Then the back and finally the front. The cover was pristine. My friend Kat was cool enough to create the cover art in her spare time and wow -- I was blown away. It really enhanced the entire product. My friend Maudie snapped a photo of me when we were in Key West a few years ago. Ironically, the photo was taken at Hemingway's house. A bunch of us had gone on a tour and Maudie actually took a decent photo of my ugly mug. A thumbnail of that photo appears on the back cover along with a blurb from my colleague John Caldwell.

I flipped through the book, randomly stopping at different pages. I started to read a few sentences when I'd get a little anxious and flip through a few more pages only to repeat the process.

I handed Nicky one of the copies and her face lit up. That's when the guilt set in. I felt as though I should be happier -- at the least, I felt as though I should have been on a equal level of enthusiasm as Nicky. I dunno what happened to me. I wasn't sad or sullen, but I wasn't bouncin' off the walls. I was definitely excited in my own way, but whenever it seemed as though that emotion will step out in front, it got shoved aside by fear of... failure. For the first time I started the project, I froze up. You would think that fear would have held me back during the writing or editing process... but it wasn't until the final step that I found myself paralyzed.

I stuffed the book into my bag. We were running behind schedule and needed to get a late lunch before we headed to work. Nicky was supposed to work until 5am. I cou;dn't wait that long and left with Benjo around 2am. He gave me a ride home and I went into the condo and read the first five chapters. Surreal is the best word to describe the experience. I read the manuscript from start to finish at least one hundred and fifty times -- in this year alone. But this was the first time I read it as an actually book. As I turned every page, the inklings of fear slowly dissipated.

If you want to insider information on the release of Lost Vegas, then you should follow @LostVegasBook on Twitter, because that's the first place I'll be announcing the official release date.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Surviving Days 1-12

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

I'm swamped with writing elsewhere, which is why I haven't been saying much here. Anyway... I promise that the following Tao of Poker recaps have as little poker content as possible. I had the tremendous opportunity to write about a couple of epic stories that occurred during the first 12 days of the WSOP. You might be interested in a few...
Day 1: The Cold Open
Day 2: Not So Easy Rider
Day 3: Scandi Mafia and Donkulus' Comet
Day 4: Band of Brothers and Here Come the Russians Reprise
Day 5: Redemption Song - The Grinder Wins Player's Championship
Day 6: Welcome to the Sausage Factory and the Return of Triple Draw Fargis
Day 7: The Marvelous British Invasion
Day 8: Darth Hellmuth
Day 9: God Save the Queen and Seven for Men
Day 10: Most Likely You Go Durrrr's Way (And I'll Go Mine)
Day 11: Durrrr Hangover, Hooker Quota, and Orange Tossing
Day 12: The Kassela Chainsaw Massacre
Days 5, 8, and 10 are my favorites.

By the way, you can always check out the daily happenings of my adventures in Las Vegas via Twitter (@taopauly).

Monday, June 07, 2010

Finally... Something to Say

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Wow, I finally have tie to write here. I wished I had more time each day, but I decided to trade any free time for sleep and worrying about the final touches on Lost Vegas.

In the past I've always pushed myself, but this year I'm pacing myself better. For example, on a couple of evenings (well more like early mornings) I made a rare decision to go to sleep and wake up to finish whatever writing. For one, it gives me fresh eyes and a much better internal editor. The downside is that my dispatches are published three or four hours later than I would have liked. I guess I'm old school in the fact that I want to soak up everything I see all day and then sort through the days notes and construct a post... but I want all that to happen in that day's cycle.

After ten days or so, I give myself a passing grade. I made a couple of mistakes and errors, one semi-major fuck-up, and pissed off a couple of higherups. That's usually par for the course, but on a good note, I didn't know my weaknesses until I got a few days in and once they were exposed, I could patch those up.

The first few days were tough and I forgot about the grind on the body after working a few hours past dawn every day and then trying to sleep for a few hours before returning to work again in mid-afternoon only to repeat the process. By the fourth day my body adjusted to the schedule and I'm back into that crazy life when I sleep anywhere from 8am to 11am everyday. The good thing is that I'm getting quality sleep -- a problem that has plagued me the last five summers.

Our condo is OK, my only complaint is that I'd like to blast music at 5am when I'm writing but can't because I don't want to disturb the neighbors. A few times I caught myself telling Nicky to keep it down or turn down the volume of the TV because we forget that it's like 3am and our neighbors are sleeping. At the same time, back in the slums of Beverly Hills, our upstairs neighbors were up very late every night so we could blast music past Midnight and be kinda raucous until the wee hours. That's also part of the reason why I listened to Jazz music every morning when I wrote because I didn't want to disturb the neighbors who were sleeping in because they were also night owls.

Anyway, Nicky and I have to be on the quieter side since we're living the vampire Vegas lifestyle. And in almost two weeks, I finally went to the Strip... on a Saturday night too. I tend to avoid Las Vegas Blvd during the summer because that's where all the tourists flock and it's crowd with too much traffic and slow-walking morons. The weekends are the worst because you have all the amateur party people getting shitfaced when 90% of them can't hold their booze so they act like classless hooligans ala Jersey Shore. My buddy Snoopy and his girlfriend Dana is living at hotel in the Hard Rock Casino all summer long. They are both British (also well-traveled and have lived in Vegas during previous summers) and have a unique perspective on life in Vegas, particularly what it's like to be living at Douchebag central. You have to read some of Snoopy's posts about adjusting to life with the meatheads. Funny ass shit.

I've been juggling three major fireballs... Lost Vegas, WSOP, and a new project. The new project doesn't quite have a name yet, but it's going to be huge and affect the next two years (or more) of my life. I'm excited about the project because it offers me a chance to write about things outside of poker and I'll get to work with some very intelligent and cool people. At the same time, I'm concerned because of the heavy workload and how will it affect my daily writing time and future chunks of unfettered time that I need to set aside every few months to write. Balance is the key to success in life and I know that I can pull this off if I can find the perfect balance. For now, it's just the early stages, but something that has been on my mind.

The WSOP is what it is. Some stuff is different, lots of it are the same. The cool things will always be cool (like watching Phil Ivey play poker and hanging out with friends you only get to see every summer) and the shitty things will always be shitty (triple digit temps, drunken tourists, poker pros bitching about everything, hack reporters ganking your work, readers whining about getting FREE coverage, blah blah blah). I survived the first 10 days and only have 40 to go. The good thing is that I'm taking off nine days (2 different long-weekends) to see Phish so I really only have 31 to get through. The bad news is that I have to go another 11-12 days before my first days off of the summer.

And Lost Vegas has been a headache. The easiest part was writing it and the editing was a chore that I never want to endure again, but the publishing process has been a brutal migraine. I can't explain it anymore. I've been wanting to pull the trigger and make the official announcement , but that keeps getting delayed... and making me more and more insane. Grumpy too. I hope to have news by the end of the week. Big hope.

For now, I'm writing every day on Tao of Poker and using Twitter for on the floor updates at the WSOP. You can always follow the action with @taopauly.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

June Truckin' - Vol. 9, Issue 6

By Pauly
Las Vegas,NV

Happy birthday to Truckin'!

Truckin' - Vol. 9, Issue 6

1. Inertia Junction by Paul McGuire
She told me that she was on a year-long holiday after her mother died from a serious illness. She had a sorrowful smile. Her friend looked like your pissed-off lesbian cousin. Short spikey hair. Only one ear pierced. Constant scowl... More

2. One Guy, One Cup by Brad Willis
I clutched my specimen in my hand. A pretty blonde woman with a little girl stood beside me. They cooed at each other, and I was sure they knew I was holding. The elevator dinged and donged, but didn’t arrive before a pregnant nurse sidled up beside me. She knew. I knew she knew. It was like that scene in Reservoir Dogs with the doper walking into a bathroom full of narcs. I nodded at the nurse and clutched the bag even tighter... More

3. The Sherman Incident by Sigge S. Amdal
Six years ago. That's when he first had it. The itch. He remember not taking notice, not paying attention, not even caring about it. But the itch had remained. And it grew worse... More

4. Chasing the Facts by May B. Yesno
I found a corpse no-one had bothered to bury. There was at least twenty-five people living there and the only building large enough to remotely qualify for ‘commercial’ status was a dairy milking shed... More

5. Rural Road #7 by Miles Harvey
He saw a warm house, a glowing kitchen and a moon-faced girl puttering about making dinner. She probably didn’t even notice the sleet that was coating his car’s windshield in vanilla pudding... More

6. 152 Peaches by Paul McGuire
His savvy talents were no match
For his jealous wife’s twin brother.
Who longed to tell knock-knock jokes
In French, while wearing a
Kiwi colored tu-tu... More
The special birthday issue features some of your favorite writers including Brad Willis, Sigge S. Amdal, May B. Yesno, and two from yours truly.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

More Tao of Pokerati Episodes and Benjo's Promotion

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

After two years of guest spots and cameos, Michalski and I decided it was time to give Benjo a promotion on the Tao of Pokerati podcast. Well deserved, especially since he's been doing a lot of the heavy lifting so far this year and filling in for Michalski during his numerous absences.
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.

Episode 8: 50K Agent Mix with Benjo - 2am. The Rio. Weirdness abounds. We spy on a potential endorsement deal being negotiated in the far corner of the Amazon Ballroom and recap the events on the rail on Day 4.

Episode 9: Never-ending Night with Benjo - Michalski is AWOL for one of the biggest nights of the year with the 50K Player’s Championship. Not to fear, Benjo returns with another cameo. During one of the breaks of the 50K, Benjo and Pauly discuss circumstances surrounding the first never-ending day of the WSOP.

Episode 10: Everyday Dan with Benjo - Rare Dan Michalski sighting at the WSOP, so Benjo and Pauly ambush Dan the moment that he steps into the press box. Benjo gets compliments for filling in during for Michalski during the important 50K final table. He also reveals how you can win a piece of Pokerati.com.

Episode 11: Benjo's Laser Promotion with Benjo - After two years of cameos and being a special guest, Michalski and Pauly finally decide to give Benjo the keys to the castle. Well, not exactly to the entire castle, just a couple of rooms. In this episode, we discuss Benjo's new and lucrative deal as a partner in Tao of Pokerati, Inc.
Listen to more episodes at the Tao of Pokerati Archives.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Sweet. Tao of Poker got linked up and my WSOP coverage was mentioned on a popular sports blog: Busted Coverage. Thanks guys!