Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best of Tao - 2011

By Pauly
New York City

Here's the best of the best from 2011... How to Take Over a Politically Unstable Country in Six Easy Steps. That's my favorite post from the last year.

I compiled a larger list of some of my favorite entries from the last twelve months. Here's the best of the rest... pieces of internal chatter, notes from personal head shrinking sessions, and other inane observations that I spewed for your consumption...

Breaths of Life Through a Filter
Ass Airlines
Ramblings from the Bahamas: Sweet T'ings
Strike Time
How to Take Over a Politically Unstable Country in Six Easy Steps
Breakfast: Best of Times, Worst of Times
Revolution Thursday
You Are Alcoholic, Yes?
Sticky Floors

Random Unconnected Thoughts, Vol. 1: Bacon As a Main Course
Random Unconnected Thoughts, Vol 2: Eight Men Out, Slinging Crack Rock, and Herb/Dorothy
Nine in a Box
Matisse's Chorizo
Buddha Dice, Snake Eyes, and Top Chef
The Lazy Echo
A Prophet
Rubbing One Out; The Last Howl in the Alley

Disjointed - Dead Battery, Contaminated Magnolia Tree
Trashy Paranoia
The Metamorphosis of a Horrendous Karaoke Singer
5am Rum, Aliens Invade Santa Monica, and Wake of the Flood
3am Rum and Fallout Fears
Soaked Sponges with Dirty Water
Anxious in the Red Zone
Almost Home
Extra Butter

April and May
Sleepless Solo and Patti LuPone Is Not Just Corky's Mom
First Flashes of Lightning
LAX > Lima
Spiderman in Pajamas
Lima > Cusco: Coca Tea, Alien Stonework, and Saqsayhuaman
Cusco > Ollantaytambo > Aguas Calientes > Machu Picchu
The Conundrum: Wheelbarrow of Weimar Marks or More Rum?
Viggo Jordans
West L.A. Punk

Home Sweet Hollyweird
Hills, Dive Bars, and Walking Around San Francisco Streets
The Daily Weirdness in the Slums of BH
Intimidating Pancakes
Empty Shelf
Wake of the Flood; Phish Returns to Vermont for Benefit Concert
Paralyzed Decade

Morning Forums and Guns from Greys
Sleep Prived
Flash Crash and the Now Moment
The Difference Between Hope and Occupy
Torn and Frayed
Scoring Dope in the Ghetto, West Coast Speed Freaks, and a Forlorn German Lesbian

Reduction of Word Flow on the Eve of the Internet Kill Switch
Divisdero Dog Fight

That's it. That's all I have for now. Hope you had a groovy 2011 and wish you're 2012 is safe, productive, and as fun as possible...

Friday, December 30, 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Phishy Reports: The Cold Open

By Pauly
New York City

Read about my evening with Phish -- MSG 1: The Feeling I Forgot -- which is the first of four concerts at historic Madison Square Garden.

Here's some pics...

And don't forget about my recap from night 1 at MSG.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Catman, Policeman and Pusherman

By Pauly
New York City

Mustafa gave me the pills.

One of the benefits of being shot four times, Mustafa explained, was a perpetual prescription to various pain medications and opiates. I can't recall if there's an actual bullet wedged behind his spleen, or if that was part of the urban legend which accompanied Mustafa wherever he went. He was shot for sure. That's no bullshit. If you ever spent time with him, he'd be more than happy to pull up his shirt and show you his different scars. He'd even give you the run down on the ballistics report.

It had been a couple of months since I last hung out with Mustafa. I always see him when I go to NYC. But this instance, when I ran into him last week, he had just gotten out of jail.

"They fast track those Occupy protesters," he said. "There's fucking hundreds of 'em. All processed first. When all the protesters are cleared out and it looks like I'm gonna get called, the fucking cops bring in a new batch. Another fucking hundred hippies. Occupy always gets called before me. They fast track 'em. Easy money for the city. Me? I fucking sat around for three days. Three. Fucking. Days. I didn't take a shit for three days. Not once. I held it for three days."

Mustafa gave me the pills as a gift the last time I was in the City. I left a few behind as an emergency stash, because I can never predict when my back will go out. At the same time, I hid a few at my mother's apartment -- cached in a stack of boxes of old books and Dead bootlegs. Sometimes my mother gets a little out of hand and in order for me to deal with her, I have to be faded to the tits. That's the best way I figured out how to cope with all uncomfortable family situations -- get schwasted and numb to everything around me so I'm able to insulate myself from all insults, critiques, and attempts to goad me into an unwinnable argument. Any kind of discussion with my mother gets twisted and mutilated into a quagmire of circular logic resulting in migraine headaches and the desire to throw myself in front of a bus.

Anyway, Mustafa got pinched for smoking a blunt in the middle of the street. He knew better than to blatantly flaunt behavior like that, but he was wasted and made a terrible mistake. Cops don't care what you do in your own home, but they don't want you to rub in in their faces. That's what happened to Mustafa. He was blazing up at the wrong time and wrong place. When he got pinched, he thought he was being set up or got taken down as part of some vast stake out.

"Are you DEA, FBI? Homeland Security?" he quizzed the cops the moment he was taken into custody. It turned out he was collared by a regular narcotics officer who was looking for someone else but Mustafa happened to walk by him at the wrong time. Let that be a lesson to you kids!

* * *

I didn't come face-to-face with the guy that my brother and I call the "serial killer" -- a weird guy who lives in my mother's building. My brother said he used to see the guy crying in the stairwell at different times. Anyway, I saw the serial killer down the hallway, but purposely slowed down so I didn't have to ride the elevator with him. I lingered when I passed his apartment and it smelled like cat piss. It made me wonder... was he an animal hoarder?

Sure, I've been watching too many hours of hoarding-themed reality TV, but there were a significant amount of old people living in my mom's apartment building. The percentages suggested that at least one of them is an extreme hoarder with a hundred boxes of stuff everywhere and that someone in the building is an animal hoarder, you know, the proverbial cat lady. All signs pointed toward the serial killer as the guy who also doubled as the weird, lazy cat dude who let his cat(s) piss everywhere and multiple towers of crusted cat feces are constructed throughout the apartment.

* * *

It's always mind-boggling to walk around the old neighborhood. Some things change, while others stay the same. The stores that stood the test of time are firm anchors in my fuzzy memory, but then there's new businesses in storefronts that seem strange and out of place to me because that particular space had always been the same thing since I could remember. For example, a local drug store was always in one big white brick building. It was the place to go in the neighborhood for most of the 1980s and early 1990s until the chain drug stores moved in on the racket and the local store was getting squeezed by the big dogs. The had to raise their prices while the chain drug stores undercut everything. I'm surprised the old store stayed in business, but somehow it survived but with a drastic change. The old store had to move a few storefronts down the street to a smaller property. Rents were getting high and they couldn't afford to stay in the same spot. So they consolidated and opted for a smaller store. At least -- it still lives. I wish I could say the same about the book store or the Greek diner.

Yeah, I was bummed out when I saw all the white paper blocking out the windows at the Greek diner. A small hand written sign indicated that the diner had been sold and the new owners would be opening up soon. They didn't indicate a specific date. The place was empty and I was without an opportunity to enjoy the best bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches on the planet.

Man, I expect the neighborhood to change, but I missed the Greek diner. I used to go in there half asleep, mumble my order, and listen to the old Jewish guys in the back booth argue about sports, specifically verbally castrating the quarterbacks -- Eli Manning and Mark Sanchez. For some reason Eli drew the most ire from the old guys.

Without the Greek diner and access to bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches, I was rudderless every morning.

* * *

I spent a full day wandering around the Met and meandering through Central Park while listening to music. A visit to a museum is something that I do every time I'm in town. If I have the chance, I'll hit up three or more, but even on short trip, I make an effort to pop into the Met to see a few old friends.

Thanks to Mustafa, I got faded on some of his powerful pills, and stumbled through a couple of special exhibits. The Stieglitz stuff was interesting -- a mixture of photographs and friends of his who were painters, but the subject matter was popular because it included Georgia O'Keefe paintings. The special exhibit gallery was crowded, so I rushed through that show. O'Keefe's subversive vag paintings reminded me of the Rhino in Vegas. Alas, I doubt that was her intention -- but when I see her paintings, I can't help but think of -- strippers.

Although parts of the museum were crowded, I found a few empty places where I could sit down and think. Sometimes I got lost in the art, but mostly, I got lost in my own thoughts -- trying to figure out the long term, dreading the near future of Christmas with the family, and letting random flashbacks of my previous lives in New York City enter my bloodstream. I used to fight the waves of memories, but now, I welcome them with open arms. Sometimes they are too immense and I have to sit down to absorb all of the energy that is jogging my memory. It's never easy to explain how/why we get blasted with memories from two or three decades ago.

I spent all afternoon in the museum juggling the variety of emotions that accompanied decades of flashbacks and got lost in the American Wing, which included all of these period rooms, mostly empty aside from a few curious tourists of the German and French persuasion. I hung out in different alcoves in secluded galleries in the Asian Art section after I got a rare batch of claustrophobia when I tried to check out the newly, refurbished Islamic Art galleries.

After an intense visit to the museum, I cooled off by walking through Central Park and listening to a Phish bootleg. Mustafa said to call him in a few days. I hoped he didn't get into trouble again.

Monday, December 26, 2011

New Kindle User? Buy Lost Vegas and Jack Tripper Stole My Dog

By Pauly
New York City

Merry Day-After Christmas everyone!

Were you a good boy/girl this year? We're you naughty, dirty, and got into tons of trouble? Did Santa Claus hook you up with a new Kindle Fire? If so, you're in luck because the e-book version of Lost Vegas is only a few clicks away.

Click here to buy Lost Vegas for Kindle and iPads.

Click here to buy Lost Vegas for the Nook

Click here to buy a print copy of Lost Vegas on

* * * *

And if you're totally bored and looking for a trashy novel, then indulge yourself with an e-book Kindle version of Jack Tripper Stole My Dog.

I recorded a podcast with Nicky six or seven months ago. She asked me questions about the origins of Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. If you haven't heard it yet, well, here it is via SoundCloud...

JTSMD - Episode 1: The 10-Day Novel by taopauly

* * * *

And if you like opera music, then here's the trailer...

Thanks for all of your support, kindness, tolerance, patience, understanding, and gratitude. Oh, and thanks for the cashola. Every book you buy indirectly supports my drug habit, which in turn fuels my passion to write dark, crazy smut like e-book Kindle version of Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. Keep supporting the arts and I'll keep churning out cheese-slathered tripe.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Annual Re-Telling of "Auggie Wren's Christmas Story"

By Pauly
New York City

One of my favorite NYC authors, Paul Auster, published something many moons ago titled "Auggie Wren's Christmas Story." I re-read it every Christmas. So should you.

Click here to read Auggie Wren's Christmas Story.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Charle Chaplin's Speech from 'The Great Dictator'

By Pauly
New York City

Amazing speech from Charlie Chaplin...

Thanks to the Joker for heads-up on this video.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Poker Scribblings

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

I've posted a couple of things over on Tao of Poker that I'm pointing out because the content has less to do with poker and more to do with social commentary on popular culture and politics. Check out...
Zombie Poker Apocalypse
The Puppeteers of America
Yeah, that is all.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Advice to Chip Bitch and Recent College Graduates

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

It's a little strange what happened in the poker world the last few years, especially after the Poker Shrink retired, because I became the resident head shrinker at the WSOP. I was the on-site psychiatrist in the press box. It happened because I was one of the veterans in the industry with the most experience (and if I wasn't going through what they went through, I knew someone who was faced with a similar situation) and more importantly -- because I had access to a cornucopia of pills.

On a typical day at the WSOP in Vegas, I usually spent at least an hour talking to different friends and colleagues about a variety of topics. I mostly listened because most of the time, people don't want actually answers -- they just want someone to listen to them work things out in their head. More often than not, I dispatched words of encouragement telling them to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. Unlike life, when you never knew it would end, the seven-week long WSOP had a finish point. So as long as I could get everyone focused on something positive, I felt as though I did my civic duty.

Part of me felt compelled to help friends and colleagues because deep down I wish I had someone to give me words of advice, especially when I was stuck in a rough spot. I had a few mentors along the way like John Caldwell and Flipchip, but never had a consistent go-to guy (or girl) that I could chat about my woes and fears.

Anyway, over the last few years, I found myself mentoring a couple of the younger writers/reporters that came through the biz. One of them, Chip Bitch, just graduated college. Our little side kick is all grown up now. He's come a long way from the days when he worked for peanuts (literally: zero dollars) and snorted crushed up candy for peanuts (literally: zero dollars). Chip Bitch posted something where he reflected on what it's like to be a college graduate and taking his first steps in the real world. He thanked a small group of my colleagues for keeping him on the right track over the last few years. Check out his post... Thanks.

I wanted to give him some words of encouragement in a comment, but realized I was getting a little too verbose, so I decided to post my thoughts here. Anyway, in honor of Chip Bitch, here's a list of 10 Things I Wish I Was Told When I Graduated College....
1. There is no permanent record...unless you count the Echelon project that has downloaded every single email, DM, text message, and whatever update you posted on Facebook.

2. No matter how much you've drank and no matter what you've ingested, smoked, or snorted... you CANNOT fly.

3. Contrary to what she said, she actually faked 98% of the orgasms.

4. You're professors drank as much, if not more, than you. Many of them we're popping pills... just before class.

5. Dick Cheney shot JFK. Courtney killed Kurt. The "Moon" landings were real.

6. Always wipe and stay off the (crack) pipe.

7. Avoid the shrimp and seafood in any buffet that cost less than minimum wage.

8. Read every day. Just because you're done with school doesn't mean you have to end your education. Your mind is a terrible thing to waste on The Jersey Shore.

9. As Polonious said in Hamlet, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be." Don't loan friends money. More importantly, credit cards are evil. If you can't afford it, then don't buy it. If you really want it, I suggest that you steal it. Whatever you do, don't charge it. Banks/credit card companies are more ruthless than the mafia. Don't become a debt slave.

10. People generally suck and will always let you down. Don't sweat the small stuff. Don't worry... just be yourself.
I hope some of this helps. But no matter what you do, never forget rule #2. Oh, and the ubiquitous Golden Rule of Las Vegas.... don't get rolled by a hooker.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Five Subversive Film Recommendations - Best of 2011

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

Here's five subversive films I watched (or re-watched) this year that I encourage you to see:
1. Network
2. They Live
3. Collapse
4. Inside Job
5. Gasland
And here's a longer explanation of each film...

1. Network

If you don't know who Howard Beale is, then you must be re-educated, so see this film. Sidney Lumet directed a masterful piece of social commentary warning us about the negative doping affects of mass media, powerful corporate interests driven by greed, and the fine line between propaganda and mainstream news. Scary thing? Network was filmed in 1976, yet the themes still hold up today over three and a half decades later. Howard Beale's "I'm mad a s hell" rant is the most infamous scene in the film and one of the most compelling rants in all of cinema history. However, it's not my favorite one. The board room scene with Ned Beatty is one of the most chilling, yet honest explanations of how the world and monetary system works today. It's so monumental that the powers that disabled embedding of the video. Click here to see the "money" scene from Network.

So here's the "Mad as hell" rant....

* * *

2. They Live

My brother and I used to watch They Live all the time during the VCR age when it first came out in the late 1980s. It starred my favorite wrestler -- Rowdy Roddy Piper -- but at the time all I cared about were the fact it had a WWF superstar and a bunch of aliens, not to mention the longest back alley fight scene ever recorded in Hollywood! I totally forgot about this campy film until the Joker posted a documentary film on Tao of Fear -- They Live, We Sleep Deeply. I watched the thought provoking analysis of John Carpenter's low-budget sci fi film and was blown away. The themes of brainwashing Americans via the TV are still prevalent today because so many of us are asleep practicing blind obedience and allegiance to consumption. I encourage you to see the They Live, We Sleep Deeply documentary, then check out the actual film.

Here's the scene when Roddy Piper finds the special Hoffman glasses that allows him to see the world for how it really is and not the illusion riddled with subliminal messages that was presented to us...

* * *

3. Collapse

Documentary filmmaker Chris Smith met with Michael Ruppert, a former LAPD cop with ties to the intelligence community, to discuss the CIA running drugs into Southern California. When he showed up for the interview, Ruppert wanted to speak about something else. Smith filmed Ruppert in his basement, chainsmoking the entire time, while sharing his world view on the impending collapse of all of Western Civilization. Smith decided to halt production on his CIA drug running film and began a new project with Ruppert's interview as the centerpiece. The result was... Collapse. I've seen my fair share of Peak Oil documentaries, but this one scared the bejesus out of me because it ties in the financial meltdown with peak oil which will eventually lead to an overall collapse of our fiat monetary system and lead to complete civil breakdown. Ruppert has been labeled a nut job by disinfo agents, but he shrugged it off with one of my favorite tag lines: "I do not deal in conspiracy theories... I deal in conspiracy fact."

This is one of two documentaries that you must see. Here's the trailer...

* * *

4. Inside Job

I've seen a few documentaries on the financial meltdown of 2008, but none of them were as powerful as Inside Job, directed by Charles Ferguson and narrated by Matt Damon. I'm shocked that Inside Job won an Oscar for Best Documentary Film, but then again, it gives me a glimmer of hope that not everything in Hollywood is rigged. Anyway, Inside Job will familiarize with the global catastrophe that triggered a financial tsunami when the sub prime mortage market imploded in 2007-08. Degenerate gamblers running the biggest financial companies in the world went busto and nearly crashed the entire system. After you see the film, you will finally realize how Americans were duped into paying trillions in bailout money to big banks and insurance companies on Wall Street.

Here's the trailer...

* * *

5. Gasland

Filmmaker Josh Fox got offered a nice chunk of change to lease some of his property in Pennsylvania to a natural gas company, who wanted to install a fracking well. Fox is skeptical and starts doing his own research into gas drilling and his results are astonishing including a family with contaminated water that can be lit on fire. Fox exposes how communities have been destroyed by the quest to drill for gas by greedy, profit-driven energy companies.

Here's the trailer...

* * *

So there it is... five influential and inspiring films that I watched in 2011. You might not agree with the themes discussed in each film and I'm not trying to convert you. Rather, my intentions are that the films will provoke you to "think" and ask more questions. Always do your own research.

I encourage to watch at least one of them over the holiday season and make an effort to watch all five.

Friday, December 16, 2011

RIP Hitch

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

I think I'm the only writer who did not write an eulogy for Christopher Hitchens. Instead, here's a video compilations of his best zingers in The Best of Hitch Slap...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tao of Poker Nominated for Best Poker Blog

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

The Tao of Poker got nominated for "Best Poker Blog" by Bluff Magazine's Reader's Choice Awards. Bluff lumped me into a category with four other deserving blogs (Hard-Boiled Poker, Riding the F Train, Subject: Poker, and Wicked Chops Poker) and I'm honored to be included among those amazing sites.

You can vote for Tao of Poker here.

Tao of Poker is what Seth Godin would call a "purple cow." I started it in the summer of 2003 because my friends hated reading about poker on this blog. Tao of Poker reached notoriety during the 2005 WSOP, which propelled me into a viable freelance writing career in the poker industry. Without the Tao of Poker, I never would have been able to visit over a dozen countries to cover various poker tournaments. I got to see the world because I loved to write about all things poker. Tao of Poker instilled confidence in my abilities as a story teller and reporter. Tao of Poker fed me. Tao of Poker got me drunk. Tao of Poker got me laid. Tao of Poker got me hired and subsequently fired from ESPN. Tao of Poker became the springboard for meeting groups of diverse people, many of whom I'm proud to call my friends.

Circa 2004

Circa 2005

Over the last few years, I struggled with burn out from the craziness of the poker industry and nonstop travel. Poker had taken up every aspect of my life and I lost the burning passion to write about the one thing that provided me financial security. My focus shifted to finishing Lost Vegas -- which took me five years to go from the original first draft to publication. Over the last few years, I also took mini-vacations away from poker to focus on writing/editing blogs with non-gambling content such as Coventry Music, Tao of Bacon, and Tao of Fear.

More than a half-a-decade later, I'm kinda shocked that the Tao of Poker is still getting accolades. I firmly believe the overall quality writing is as good as its ever been (e.g. A Day in the Life; Phil Hellmuth Denied, Eight Voices and a Sea of Troubles, Rolling Out the Magic, Down With Diseased Monkeys, and The Sahara Doesn't Live Here Anymore) but unfortunately, I haven't had the desire (nor the time) to write about poker every day like I did in 2005-06. After the horrible events of Black Friday in mid-April, when the government pulled the plug on PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, I stopped playing online poker completely. It was no secret that PokerStars was my sugar daddy and Tao of Poker's top advertiser. Once the ad money and affiliate revenue dried up, I lost the financial incentive to write daily musings about poker. Prior to Black Friday, I had completely sold out and became a hired "thug" and shill for the online poker industry. I was a whore for the buck, but once the flow of money stopped... I seriously questioned why I should continue to crank out content on Tao of Poker.

I started Tao of Poker of the pure love for the game. I blogged for free and never expected a dime. Everything else that happened was 100% gravy. But right now, the entire poker industry is in the middle of a metamorphosis and my passion for the game has been exhausted. I'm outta gas. If I want to evolve as a writer, I have to blaze a new path.

I'm surprised that Tao of Poker got a nod this year from Bluff considering I took a significant amount of time away from writing about poker in 2011 for several reasons -- a new blog, a new book, Black Friday, trading silver futures, and health issues. Around this time last year, I launched Tao of Fear -- a blog that would cover all things related to fear mongering. I devoted a lot of man hours into developing the site and creating an audience. If you read the Tao of Fear, then you know I have a grim outlook about the global financial system. In anticipation of the collapse of the U.S. Dollar and Euro, I went back to day trading and playing the commodities market. In addition, I went on a hiatus at the beginning of the year to finish editing and eventually publishing my first novel -- Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. Unfortunately during the WSOP Main Event, I was involved in a pretty bad car accident. Luckily, my girlfriend was not in the car with me and I was the only one injured. Even though I stayed in Las Vegas instead of going back to Los Angeles to rest up and heal (a decision I now regret), I was stubborn and forced myself to go to work everyday and pathetically limp around the Amazon Ballroom when I should have been confined to bed rest. I let my monster-sized ego lead me astray and as a result, the quality of my writing suffered. I betrayed myself and my readers with the Tao of Poker's lackluster Main Event coverage. I fled Las Vegas utterly disappointed with my decision to stick around. I felt like a washed up quarterback trying to re-live old glory days instead of embracing my decline and quietly riding off into the sunset.

When the WSOP ended, I took another huge chunk of time away from Tao of Poker for a much needed break. I finally returned to the Slums of Beverly Hills to heal. In August, I hit the road and went on the second leg of Phish's summer tour visiting Seattle, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Chicago, and Denver. I even flew out to Burlington, Vermont to attend a special charity concert. At the end of the summer, Nicky and I packed up all of our stuff and moved to San Francisco. I missed living in a real city again.

The car accident forced me to slow down and think about the wild ride I embarked upon ever since I accepted my first WSOP gig in 2005. It's been a whirlwind adventure and I wouldn't trade it for any other experience. However, the negatives of living life in the fast lane and having to spend seven weeks every summer in Las Vegas wore me down. Sometimes I was working so hard, I forgot to enjoy the remarkable, once-in-a-lifetime journey, but more importantly, I veered off path. I originally took a job in poker so I can stash away some money and write a couple of novels without having to work a conventional 9 to 5 gig as a cubicle monkey. Seven years later, I forgot what I originally set out to do.

Now that I've had some time away from the grind, I look back and feel incredibly lucky to have gotten where I am today. Tao of Poker would have never become what it did without the support of my brother, girlfriend, and amazing friends. Oh, and how can I forget about the loyal readers? Without them/you, I'm just another piece of wasted space on the intertubes.

Even though I took time off to reflect on my future, I still have yet to figure out what I'm going to do with Tao of Poker in 2012. The accident taught me a valuable lesson -- I needed to slow down -- which I did. But since then, I've been also bombarded with the overwhelming feeling that I got super lucky with a second shot at life. Yeah, it sounds like a cliche, but it took an almost fatal event to remind me that life is incredibly precious and short. Things happen for a reason, right? After a few months of reflection, I came to the realization that there's still a lot of other things I want to do... I want to write... I want to see. Unfortunately, most of those things do not fall into the poker realm.

I don't know how writing about poker -- both freelance and for myself -- will fit into my agenda for 2012. I strive to maintain a balanced life, but let's be honest -- Tao of Poker will never be what it once was. Alas, since the inception of my poker blog, I always winged it and never had an exact game plan. I wrote from the heart, rarely pulled punches, and always called things like I saw it. I was always flexible with the direction of the blog, and the content reflected my willingness to surrender to the flow. That attitude will never change. I always took chances. I adapted to constantly changing conditions in the blogosphere and the industry's landscape which had been altered due to the shaky political climate in Washington. But every year at the WSOP, I showed up and always tried to create something new and original. I attempted to enhance my coverage by utilizing different technology and aspects of social media. Sometimes I hit a home run. More often than not, I struck out -- but at least I went down swinging.

What will the future bring? I have no idea because I'm being pulled in different directions and have to follow my gut instincts. I will continue to write every day about a multitude of topics but and I don't know how much emphasis I'll put on poker in the coming year. I guess you'll have to tune in over the next few months to find out what my plans are for Tao of Poker.

To sum up... it's been an insanely fun ride in the poker industry and tons of fun while it lasted. I'm damn lucky in more ways than I can ever explain.

* * *

If by chance you enjoyed my poker musings, then I encourage you to vote for Tao of Poker here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2011 (Partial) Reading Pile

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

Here's a few pics of my some of reading pile from this past year.

If I get incredibly bored in the next few days, perhaps I'll compile a complete list of some of the books I read this year, and more importantly, some of the books I started... but never finished.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Writing About Las Vegas

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

I posted a three-part trip report to Vegas titled Ocho - WPBT. I lost some money, hung out with my brother and friends, and did some random shit.

Read it here: Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Four Haikus: Lost Vegas

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Photo by Flipchip

Four Haikus - Lost Vegas

Stale cigarette smoke
Boulevard of broken dreams
Cowboys shooting dice

Wafting puke odor
Bright lights of white trash city
Cheap liquor cheap thrills

Porn slappers on post
Hustling cocaine-eyed strippers
Hooker or a ho?

Cougars and hipsters
Desperate degradation
Vast cesspool of filth

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Predicting the Future: Week 13 Picks

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

I'm writing a new column for Wicked Chops Insider... and sharing my thoughts on sportsbetting. So here's my NFL Week 13 Picks.

Just a heads-up, Insider is a paywall site.

I'm in Vegas for the weekend and I'll be putting my money where my mouth is and betting on the picks I suggested in my column.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Divisidero Dog Fight

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

Several friends asked me when I was going to write lengthy diatribes about living in San Francisco. I appreciate the interest but I'm in "L-I-V-I-N" mode right now when I soak up as much experience as possible before I sit down, patch my bones, and write about the previous few months.

Soon come. The SF stories will be coming soon. But for now, here's a random tidbit that I acquired wile wandering around the dirty streets of San Francisco...

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I was almost attacked by a cougar carrying a wicker reindeer. I had been holed up writing all morning and afternoon and needed a break. I went outside to grab a cup of hot chocolate from the corner cafe. On my way, I nearly collided with a peeved scion that almost gorged me with a wicker reindeer.

What the hell is wicker anyway? All I know is that you can't smoke it. I gleaned this intel NOT by personal experience, rather from someone I know who once attempted to smoke wicker. Or maybe it was marijuana soaked in PCP? I forget. Either way, wicker will not get you stoned.

Cougars, on the other hand, are detrimental to your health in Lo Pac, which is my nick name to Lower Pacific Heights. It's San Francisco's equivalent to Beverly Hills Adjacent or the Slums of Beverly Hills.

The coug bolted out of one of the many antique stores situated around the corner from my apartment. She was carry a big, white wicker reindeer with a nifty red bow tied around its neck. She screamed into her mobile phone and was too self-involved to see me as she stormed out of the store.

Sometimes, I'm just an invisible peasant.

Cougars abound in my hood. In New York terminology, it's sort of like the Upper West Side meets Park Slope. Plenty of nannies pushing double strollers. Lots of tiny purse dogs shitting all over the streets with owners too lazy to clean it up. The filthy sidewalks are congested with 20-somethings in tight black yoga pants with pastel-colored yoga mats rolled up under their arm. Street parking is non-existent in the LoPac and Nicky is constantly fighting Lexus SUVs and Minicoopers for the last available spot.

I walk everywhere, but had a few close calls -- I was almost hit by a vehicle at least four times. Near misses. One scared the bejesus outta me. I lived in LA for four years and only had once close call in the parking lot at The Grove. But three months into San Francisco, and I've almost got nailed by four different SUVs driven my myopic morons on their phones.

That's nothing compared to the mauling I escaped on Divisidero when two yapping dogs wanted to go at each other. The female owners of the hellions were distracted multi-taskers -- a pair of hipsters: one a member of the brown boot mafia in skinny black jeans and the other was your typical neo-eco-crunchy trophy wife in the ubiquitous tight black yoga pants. Their purse dogs looked like over-sized rats. What have such tiny animals? Why not get a cat?

The women stood on the same corner, backs turned and about five feet apart from each other. The both talked on their iPhones while their respective dogs anxiously clocked each other. The tension thickened as I approached. I wanted to avoid the potential clusterfuck as the dogs snarled and growled at each other. A dogfight was nigh. Blood would be shed on Divisidero. Iconsidered whipping out my CrackBerry to record the fight -- but then I'd get hate mail from PETA for supporting cruelty to animals.

Instead, I foolishly tried to walk in between the distracted women at the same moment their dogs lunged at each other. The brown-booted hipster yanked on her leash and her dog yelped. The woman in yoga pants dropped her cell phone to grab her dog when it attacked the cuff of my jeans. That little fucker almost chewed up my Achilles.

Small dogs in Lo Pac. What's the fucking point?

Our downstairs neighbor has a big-ass dog. BIG. DOG. How big? It bangs up against the front door whenever someone is outside. The big dog scares the shit out of the mailman. Some of them are afraid to deliver mail. I'm convinced my packages are always late because of the monstrous, fear-instilling dog.