Friday, December 31, 2004

WPBT Video

Bill Rini spliced together a short video clip of the poker bloggers tourney... the infamous Holiday Classic at Sam's Town Casino in Las Vegas. Take a peek. Good job, Bill.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Sick Pauly

I've been fighting the flu for almost a week now. I bled away $250 of my bankroll making questionable plays while under the weather on Christmas Eve and I stopped playing online poker until my health improves. Just when I thought I was getting better on Monday, I got worse. On Tuesday I was hit with a bout of Montezuma's Revenge and I puked up everything else in my system. I cannot recall the last time I threw up without a three day long drinking or narcotic binge as the main culprit. Seriously. I went a couple of days without eating anything aside from dry toast and Gatorade. I lost ten pounds and a fistful of hair. That was followed up by a two days of the chills and shakes. Fever dreams are the worst. It's like tripping on bad acid without all the fun colors. I had a few moments of sheer terror when I was seeing the faces of tsunami victims haunting me in the middle of the night. I almost went stir crazy and started barking at the shadows.

And yeah, I don't have health insurance, so a trip to the doctor or hospital was ruled out right away. It had gotten so bad that I had to move back home with my mom... and that might have been a mistake. She greeted me with a look like "the prodigal junkie returns" and insisted that I was ill because I don't wear a winter hat and a sweater when I go out to play. By the way, she has no cable TV and her apartment is freezing.

What has happened to me? A year ago I was in balmy Miami soaking up the sun, following Phish, and chasing around half naked teenaged girls in the hallway of a South Beach hotel with a chunk of hashish the size of Herve Villechaize in my pocket... and this year I am bed ridden dodging the saracstic quips from my unsympathetic mother, who I am now convinced has some percentage of Eskimo blood in her.

I got super depressed the other day because I haven't been well enough to physically write. I am way behind in updating my sites, personal writing, answering emails, and a few freelance assignments. Anyway, Vegas trip reports will have to be postponed until next week or this weekend at the earliest. I have a deadline on my blogzine which takes prioirty. I apologize for the delay.

Anyway, congrats to Otis and EvaCanHang on some big tournament wins this week. You guys rock. And, if you are looking for WPBT pictures then send AlCantHang an email.

Please Vote for Elisha

Yes, I am groveling once again. Plase vote for Elisha Cuthbert. A simple wish for a sick blogger. Thanks. Voting is supposed to end on New Years.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Blog Facelifts

I spent some this weekend tweaking my template on the Tao of Poker. I updated old features like Who am I? and add a new one called FAQs. I also cleaned up my poker blog roll and that inspired me to do a little cleaning on this site... which I will be undertaking at different times this week. I haven't cleaned up my blogroll for over a year. I've been adding links steadily but only removed a few broken links and a links to boring blogs. Check back soon.
Thank You Otis

Last week on my poker blog, I blogged My Christmas Wish. I didn't get much of a response via comments or emails... but I knew that people took my entry to heart. I didn't think anything about it until I read Otis' blog Rapid Eye Reality. Here's what he wrote yesterday in an entry called Pauly's wish, a community's reality. Here's a bit:
I met this guy a few weeks ago. Actually, I knew who Pauly was already. I'd been reading his blog for quite a while. But, I met him face to face a few weeks ago. When I finally shook his hand, slapped his back, and shared a few hours with him, I realized his was as real as his blog might have you believe. That was refreshing. I don't know how many people are just as cool in person as they might seem on their blog.

In the final days before Christmas, Pauly blogged a wish. He wanted 50 people in his blogging community and 50 blog readers to go buy a gift for a sick kid for the holidays. One hundred gifts for 100 sick kids. Not a bad idea.

So, I decided I was going to do it. Even if I was the only one who helped Pauly along, at least one kid would be a little happier. I sat back and tried to decide what I was going to buy, where I was going to take it, and when I'd actually find the time to do it.

And then I had an idea.

Those who know me know that I work in television news. More often than not, I spend my days dealing with dead people and politicians. While I always try to do something that benefits my community, more often than not, I'm reporting bad news. Ugly news. Dregs of humanity kinds of news.

This time of year, the office works on a skeleton crew, which means if I'm not covering the dead people, no one is. Still, I had to pitch the idea to the bosses. And they bought it.

Rather than simply buy a gift, I decided to encourage everyone who watches TV every night around here to go out and donate. That could've been accomplished in a couple minutes on one night by simply making the appeal. However, I thought that was a cheap cop out. Instead, I wanted to spend four days introducing everybody around here to some people they might not have known otherwise.

Funny worked. And as I understand it, Pauly got more than his wish. So, nice job Pauly.

And those people I met? Well, they were more of an inspiration than the dead people I tend to deal with. And their stories are worth repeating.



There are a lot of sick kids out there. All of their stories are hard to take. I met Kelsey last Tuesday. The doctor put her in the hospital a week before Christmas. Her only worry: That her hospitalization would ruin the holiday for her siblings. When I asked her what her Christmas wish was, she said it was to get out of the hospital in time for the holiday. And what if she doesn't get out in time? That was easy for her. All she wanted was for all the other sick kids to have a nice Christmas.

I've been inordiniately sappy recently, I'll admit. But that probably would've brought tears to my eyes anyway.


Allen was hooked on coke and hated himself for it. More than that, he was tired. He was tired of being up all night, in his words, "wondering where I was." Although, I didn't ask, I'm pretty sure he was speaking both figuratively and literally.

Finally, in one ultimate moment of fatigue, he wrote two letters, one to his mom and one to his kids. He apologized for being a father and son in absentia. He laid one letter on his right and one on his left. His roommate had an appointment and Allen knew he would be alone long enough. He opened a bottle and took 32 sleeping pills. He said the moments as he fell unconscious were the most peaceful he'd had in as long as he could remember.

As it turned out, his friend's appointment was canceled and she showed up to find Allen near death. She got him to the hospital, where doctors saved his life. Now, he's just a couple months away from graduating from a six-month rehab lock-up program. The problem, because he and the 50 other men in the program are restricted from doing anything but getting clean, they couldn't work to buy gifts for their kids.

Fortunately, 24 hours after Allen told his story, two truckloads of gifts showed up and no kid went without.


The other stories are nice, too. Bubba the dog saved a family froom dying but couldn't save their home. Mom had grown senile and forgot to pay the insurance premium. As such, not only was there little in the way of Christmas, but there was little in the ay of a home.

And then there was the mother of four who fell so far into addiction, she watched social services come and take her youngest. Now, she's two weeks from graduatinng from her rehab program and thanks to the public, has some gifts to give the kids she hopes to be with again soon.


Those were the poeple I just don't get to meet everyday. That is, they are people who have seen the end and doubled back to find the beginning again. You can judge those folks, but it doesn't do anybody any good. All you can do is respect them, hope your life doesn't take such a turn, and hope you have the strength to overcome if it does.

Thanks, Pauly for the idea.
I'm humbled that my words affected you and more importantly people in your community. Otis, you are a true gentleman. Thanks for inspiring me.

Tidal wave hits Phuket.

Sad news about a 9.0 Earthquake on Sunday which caused destructive tidal waves that killed at least 15,000 people in the South Pacific.

Here's a link to some pictures of the intense damage that the largest quake in 40 years left behind.

Here's a link to a slide show.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas and Happy Festivus!

30 years ago today...

God bless the early 1970s! What a long strange trip it's been, indeed.

By the way, Auggie Wren's Christmas Story written by Paul Auster is something I link to every Christmas. Please take a peek at one of my favorite short stories of all time.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas Flu

I have never been sick on Christmas and here I am completely zapped and my body invaded by the flu or some wicked virus. I thought I slept for twelve hours after I passed out for a nap earlier. I awoke to discover it was barely three hours. Woozy head, achy limps, and my throat burning up was what I had to wake up to. Today was completely shot. I didn't have the energy to do last minute Christmas shopping. No writing at all... which also means I won't be able to finish my Vegas trip reports by this weekend. Oh and I have a Truckin' deadline on Monday which I know is already going to be missed. I tried to play a little poker online and I was just too weak and impatient to play more then forty minutes. Alas, tonight is Briana's big Christmas Eve party and I have to skip out on all the fun, festivities and debauchery. I'm going to crash around seven or eight and see if I feel better around Midnight or 1am. If I do, I'll do my best to make a token appearance.

Santa, I could use a handful of Vicodin and Valium. I hope you hook me up this year.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Times Sqaure Subway Photo

One photo from my fotblog was selected and highlighted for a group gallery (Times Square) on Never realized they selected it until just now! Pretty cool.
Phish's Undermind Gets Recognition

Undermind was named to Rolling Stones' Top 50 albums of 2004.

The last Phish album
Run to Foxwoods
"Rule a kingdom as though you were cooking a small fish... don't overdo it." - Lao Tzu
"Do you feel lucky today?"

I had just walked into the elevator by the parking garage and a very short, round Asian woman in her 40s followed me in.

"I wouldn't be here if I didn't think so," I muttered adding a smile.

When the elevator reached the casino level I wished her luck. I ran over to the food court, used my Wampum Card to get a free lunch, and wolfed it down while multitasking at the same time making three phone calls and answering two. I sprinted to the poker room and put my name on the new computerized list.

"Dr. Pauly... $4/8 hold'em."

I waited for a half hour for my name to be called. I considered sitting at a $2/4 table until my name was called but opted to read the newspaper. When I finally sat down it was 2:30pm. Over the next 3 hours, I was brutalized and beated down harder than a Russian dissident. Yep, the table I was playing at seemed like a fishy $2/4 table. Preflop raises were not enough to deter people from playing crap. At some point I was about to sign up for the $5/10 out of frustration in an attempt to escape the loose fucktards who will play any two cards. I stopped playing $2/4 at Foxwoods because the swings were too high. $4/8 had a sold mixture of solid players who played by the book and a few fishy guys to keep things interesting. In the last few months, the $4/8 tables had changed completely.

3:31pm EST... For the first hour, I played tight (as HDouble would describe my B&M playing style) and folding crap hand after crap hand and attempting to get a feel for the guys at my table. I knew right away who were the loose players (Seats 8 & 9), who were the drunk players (Seat 2 and 5), and who were the online players (Seat 1 and 6). That's one of the advantages of B&M play... you can observe how other players act at the table. I read people very well which is why I feel that one of the better aspects of my game is taken away from me when I play online.

Next up on the agenda during my fold-a-thon, I size up the players at the table as quickly as I can... are they a beginner player? Do they watch too much WPT? Are they a well-informed student of the game? Are they there to have a fun time? Are they a degenerate gambler and come here five days a week? My third stage of observation involves looking for tells. How do they pick up their chips? How do they react when the flop comes out? All that routine stuff... which I won't discuss any further. Some days I'm really good at picking up little things.

There were two guys at the other end of my table who played any two cards. Both clown-fish saw every single flop and the one guy chased everything to the river, even if he had nothing. I dubbed him the king of bottom pair. He dropped $500 for the entire duration I sat at his table. He went through two racks of yellow $2 chips and did a $100 rebuy. And the tough part was that I did not win single pot from him. I know against guys like that you have to be patient and wait for solid hands. I tried that... and they all got cracked. KK, QQ, AKs, AKo, JJ, AQs... all losers. One guy next to me got KK cracked twice (J9 and J7s) by those crazy guys. My QQ were cracked by 10-3o.

3:54pm EST... The only hand I won in three hours at that table was Qd6d... I raised on the button and got five callers! When an Ad and another diamond hit the flop, I made the decision to chase all the way to the river. I raised on the flop and even on the turn, getting two callers and hit my flush on the river. That was a $120 pot and my only highlight of the $4/8 session. Luckily Senor and his brother came in the middle of my horrid run. And that eased the pain a little. They were seated at different tables and I would take frequent breaks to chat.

5:01pm EST... Hank987 showed up. It was cool to finally meet one of my loyal readers! Here's how the story goes about how we first crossed paths... several months ago, I was playing a ring game on Party Poker (under my old screen name PaulyMcGrupp) and Hank987 was seated at my table. He asked me if I was the guy from the Tao of Poker. We started chatting and I found out he goes to Foxwoods too. That was the week when I was recognized like five different times by random readers. Anyway, since then I've played with Hank987 a bunch of times online. He's sat at the blogger tables on more than one occasion. And he happens to live an hour from Foxwoods which is why I told him I was making a run.

5:34pm EST... Hank987 sat at a $2/4 table and I had to wait a while to switch my seat. When I finally got there, I was down $160 after three hours of play. Not very impressive. I decided to relax, have a beer, and shoot the shit with Hank. Lucky for me, we had a fun table, and I ended up coming out on top.
The players:
Seat 1: Fat guy with hot wife
Seat 2: Mr. Nines
Seat 3: College Kid
Seat 4: Tight Guy
Seat 5: Middle Aged Woman
Seat 6: Pauly
Seat 7: Negative Ned
Seat 8: Hank987
Seat 9: 20-something guy
Seat 10: Natalie Portman look-a-like... the girlfriend of guy in seat 9
Yep, Grubby and the Poker Geek would have been psyched to sit at my table. The cute girl sat directly across from me. It was nice to have something pretty to stare at all night. She and her boyfriend were playing a casino for the first time. They both seemed a little nervous at first and played fairly tight. Anyway, the guy in Seat 2 announced to the table that the 9 was his favorite card and he would play any hand with a 9 in it... 9-2, 9-3, 9-A... you get the drift. Whenever he saw a flop and a nine hit, everyone put him on a pair. After a while I began to limp into any pot that he decided to limp in with. I got him a few times. Once I put a bad beat on him. He had AKo and I had A7s.

6:43pm EST... Anyway, the guy to my left complained about every bad beat. I nicknamed him Negative Ned. I hated clients like that guy, who used to call me up at 4:01pm (the minute after the trading day ending) and he'd bitch me out that his stocks were not performing well. I had clients who were down $750K for the day, and that jerkoff was moaning about a 1/4 point downslide. Unreal. That's part of the reason I retired in the first place. I betcha that guys like Negative Ned weren't hugged enough as a child. Anyway, he had some valid points, because he was river'd a lot... and it was almost too comical everytime it happened. But it's a $2/4 table... what did he expect? I also had a shot at him and river'd him too... when I had ATs and flopped two spades. I caught my flush on the river to throw more salt into his bad beat wounds. That was awesome because he bitched about that hand for forty minutes before he finally left. Nothing is cooler than rivering Red Sox fans in their backyard. "Everyone is catching cahhhhh-zs, but me!" he yelled.

One aspect of limit poker which is different from NL (which I play all the time online)... is that I find myself chasing nut flush draws more often. I had a nice chat with Iggy in Vegas about pounding your draws in limit. So there I was in Foxwoods, pounding away with my betting, in pots where 7 or 8 people were seeing a flop and 3 or 4 going all the way to the river. I found myself making moves that I'd read about in so many poker books out there. One example was getting the free card on the turn, by check raising on the flop from early position. I did that twice and got two free cards... both time missing my draw. But I saved a half a BB each time by checkraising on the flop. Another move I made a few times was straight out of Izmet's Bits of Wisdom... regarding jamming pots with flush draws when you expect three or more callers. Anyway, I would read about those scenarios in poker books and online, but rarely had those opportunities to follow through on their advice. Felt cool to see it happen in a real life application.

7:14pm EST... I also began playing cards I would never play... like two gapped suited cards and any small ace. I felt embarrassed when I flopped two pair with 53s. When I turned it over, Nat Portman who had been playing super tight, made some comment, "You played those cards?" I told her I got reamed on the $4/8 table playing nothing but good hands... and that once in a while you need to see a flop with any two cards... to either cure your boredom or mix up your play a little to let your opponents know that sometimes you might play any two cards. Iggy is the master of that at the NL blogger tables.

Hank987 suffered two pretty tough beats. Nat Portman slowplayed a fullboat with 88 and she surprised everyone at the table including Hank. I would have lost my stack in NL on that hand. I dunno if she made a brilliant move or was too timid to bet out with the nuts. The other hand was one of the worst bad beats of the night. Mr. Nines caught runner runner for a flush even after he completely missed his flop with J2s. Hank987 had trips and he never really recovered from that vicious beat.

9:01pm EST... I lost track of time and pretty soon four hours had flown by. Hank987 and I chatted about random stuff, mostly poker and those wacky blogger tables. By the way, I thought Hank987 looked a lot like Fish... the drummer from Phish. Anyway, Senor lost his buy in at a $4/8 table and came back from the craps table pretty sloshed. Jay had turned $100 into $350 at the NL table beating KK with his AA. They were both starving. I said goodbye to Hank and I was shocked to see that I had won over $120 at the $2/4 table. Yep, I was down only $40 after a great run. I can't recall the last time I won money at a $2/4 table at Foxwoods.

9:45pm est... Jay bought us dinner with his NL winnings at the Carnegie Deli, one of the newly added food places at Foxwoods, which always seems to be growing and adding new stuff. I ate a yummy pastrami on a Kaiser roll and it hit the spot. We partied a little in our room before heading back to the poker room around 11ish. I had to wait a while for a $4/8 table so I sat down at a $2/4 table. Senor headed for the $1-5 stud tables and Jay hit the bar. This $2/4 table was the softest table in the world. Right away I knew I was the best player there. Most of the players were beginners and played pretty tight for a $2/4 table. If there was a single raise preflop, maybe you'd get 3 callers max with no reraises. On my $4/8 table, you could cap out the betting preflop and have six players seeing the flop!

11:06pm EST... Anyway, the decked smacked me in the face. A monkey riding a dog could have played my cards and won. First hand... AK and I flopped a king. Second hand... JJ... and I flop a set. Third hand... AQs and I flopped a queen with a nut flush draw. A few hands later I lost with QQ (to 47s), then won with AJs, and bluffed with 22. By the third orbit and while waiting for my second drink... I flopped sets with 44 and 55. I flopped a flush with A9s and flopped a Broadway straight with KQs.

11:46pm EST... I was easily up $150 at the table and wiped out my earlier loses at $4/8. I was going to walk away, but it was last call on alcohol in the poker room, so I ordered another drink (well, two actually) and made a lot of loose calls in late position. That's when I saw the Hilton Sisters in the LB. They had been 0-2 for the night for me. I was due. With four limpers in the pot, I decided to just call and not raise. I realized that the guys in the hand would have called regardless if I raised or not. Why give them a bigger pot to steal from me with A-x? The flop: 5-Q-5. I was shocked to see another flop hit for me. Not only did I hit my queen, I flopped a full house. Since I was first to act, I came out betting. I got four callers. The turn was a blank and I bet out. The big blind called and everyone folded. The river was another five!! I bet, the big blind raised and that's when I knew he had a five. I called and said something like, "Show me the case five, Johnny Damon." Sure enough he flipped over A-5. He flopped trips and only called on the flop and turn. I had a bad feeling about that 5 on the river and that's why I slowed down in betting. Everyone was shocked I didn't reraise and end up in a back and forth heads up raise-off. At that point I decided to play a few more hands, then quit to find Senor and Jay. A bad bad like that is enough to set you on tilt, but I had enough sense to call it a night. I doubled up my buy-in at that table and found myself up for the trip.
Final Tally:
$4/8: - 160
$2/4: + 220
Net: + 60
I found Senor and we had some cheesecake. That's an old custom of mine... my victory slice of cheesecake whenever I have a winning session at Foxwoods. It's been a while since I had one of those. I had to get up at 7am to drive back to the city. The ride was not fun, but I had a brand new rental car... only 23 miles when I got in. I put exactly 305 miles on it... which is about right. NYC is only 150 miles from Foxwoods. That Toyota Camry gets amazing gas mileage... only $19 for a full tank of gas and I only had to buy gas once. In the past I've spent anywhere from $25-30 on gas for a NYC to Foxwoods roundtrip.

Added note: Jay and Senor played in the 10am NL tourney. Senor only lasted the first hour, but Jay made the money and took 19th out of 160th! Congrats Jay! He ended up winning over $400 for his trip. I wish I could have stayed, but I had a lot of writing to do and plenty of Christmas shopping still left on my agenda. Can I really get away giving a Foxwoods coffee mug for a gift?

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Run to Foxwoods

Senor called me while I was sleeping the other day and said he was getting a room at Foxwoods Casino on Wednesday. It was bad timing for me. I'm coming down with a cold. I have tons of Christmas shopping to do. I need some much needed sleep that I have yet to catch up on from Vegas. I'm also in the middle of writing up to six or seven hours a day working on various projects including Vegas trip reports, the new issue of Truckin', tweaking the third draft of Gumbo, and negotiating a freelance deal with an online site where I will be writing some gambling related material in 2005. The pay is peanuts but I could use the money. And when was the last time I actually got paid to write something? I also came up with this grandioise idea to write a novel in a random European city (Oslo, Paris, Amsterdam, London, Copenhagen?) next summer. That's going to take seed money. Not to mention the numerous of places and events I would like to attend in 2005. I'm starting to go through the motions of booking trips to LA, Miami, and Las Vegas for the first five months of 2005. New Orleans is out... for now. I was going to go for Jazz Fest this year... but that looks like it won't happen this year. I'm already spending paycheck I haven't even cashed yet! Plus I still owe my brother over $1000 in various credit card charges from this past year. Phish's final tour really killed my poker bankroll. It's time to reload... and hence the trip to Foxwoods. I'm going to try to win a few bucks to pay for Christmas presents and of course, to hang out with Senor and his brother, while trying to rebuild my bankroll. The Vegas trip helped put me back on track. I had two huge losing months and my slide is officially over.

I used to go to Foxwoods like twice a month at one point last year before I started playing online and in NYC. I miss those trips. I may be meeting a fellow poker blogger up there... and I will definitely meet one of my loyal readers of the Tao of Poker, a guy named Hank who I play with online at Party Poker quite frequently. I've had a lot of luck meeting people through my poker blog. Seriously, these are some of the most solid people I have ever come across.. from all different walks of life. I guess I'm still coming off the high about hanging out with 30 bloggers... 2/3 of which I never met before, yet we were hanging out and partying like we were all old high school friends. I really got ultra lucky landing myself in the center of a thriving community. I have been meeting some new bloggers and readers online at Party Poker. Here's an actual chat from the other night. He had no idea I was me... because I play under an assumed name:
ME: What is your blog?
FAN: No blog, just a reader
ME: Ah, who do you like?
FAN: Iggy, Felicia, Poker Babe, Tao of Poker
Wow that was pretty cool. Usually, I have a fair number of bloggers who seek me out when I play online. They want to watch me play or play with me. A new blogger was shocked I was sitting at the same table with him this past weekend. I actually made him speechless. Am I that famous? Unreal. Here's how one blogger describes those infamous tables:
Sitting at a table with a bunch of bloggers is kinda like playing a game of chess, in a comedy club, while getting interviewed by a reporter, with the soundtrack to Oceans 11's being played by a Mariachi coverband. Oh yeah it's for your hard earned cash too.
Then of course I forgot that I have to get a Christmas present for this girl I sorta like. What do you get someone who already has everything? Lotto tickets or this. That's what.
Recent Writing Music...
1. Johnny Cash
2. The Velvet Underground
3. Phish with BB King
4. Widespread Panic
5. Larry

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Chapter 6.... Day 3, Part I: Sports Book Sunday
"Then I start to empty my pockets. When I find two $5 Luxor chips, I start to think maybe I have been to the Luxor. The ATM receipt confirms it. Apparently around 1am I was in the Luxor playing.... something. To do this day, I have no idea. I kind of remember thinking midnight was noon and I was late for football. But that could all just be a drunken dream." - AlCantHang
The phone was ringing. I sheepishly answered another wake up call minutes after I finally fell asleep. I could have sworn that the maids were popping into the room for a "bed check" and were stealing $100 out of my pants pocket while I was passed out. Or maybe that was just a dream? I was greeted by a minor migraine headache, the kind that you get the morning of day three of a week long a bender, the type that never goes away no matter how many painkillers you pop or no matter how many drinks you consume to drown it out. You just have to gut it out and pray that it doesn't get any worse. Derek was much slower to get up and moving. Me too for that matter. I had an extra few minutes to write before my shower. Short on time, we skipped a sitdown breakfast and grabbed something quick from the food court.

I remembered that Iggy wanted me to put $100 on the Bengals for him at the sports book. Since we were cutting it close on time with kickoff a few minutes away, I made the bet at Excalibur then took the tram to Mandalay Bay. When we arrived at MB's sports book, the spread was an extra point in Iggy's favor. Ouch. For bettors that's a huge difference. I ran up and put another bet on the Bengals for myself and got it in just a few second before kickoff I had them at 10.5 and 11.5 and was praying that they would not get blown out. Let's be honest. It's not that I had faith in the Bengals. On the contrary, I had been picking New England consistently all season and that was the first and only time I bet against them in 2004. And why? Because Iggy did it. Yep, I'll adapt that old expression my Mom used to scream at me as a small child... because if Iggy jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, I would too. The lowly Bengals were my Brooklyn Bridge. And I took the leap of faith with Iggy.

The weekend football games were pretty big for me. My fantasy football team, Uncle Jodd's Band, were in the playoffs. We were without Priest Holmes, so I was hoping for a miracle game from Drew Brees and Kevin Jones. The entire purpose of the trip was for Derek and I to gamble on the NFL games at Mandalay Bay. We do this every December. That was the specific reason for our jaunt to Sin City. I pretty much organized the poker event around our original intent of a Sunday at the sports book. Yeah, I am fond of the Mandalay Bay. I used to love the Mirage, but in the last few years I have gravitated to Mandalay Bay sports book to place bets on March Madness and NFL games. It's one of the few casino's in Las Vegas where I can boast about having career earnings reaching five digits... all on sports betting.

When Derek and I arrived at the Mandalay Bay sports book, both BG, Daddy, and Bob had already snagged a table! They have these really cool marble tables with comfy chairs twenty feet from the bar. We sat down and I scanned the Daily Racing Form. BG and Bob had been placing bets all morning. BG suggested a horse with the name Briana in it... a long shot at 30-1. I wandered up to the window to place my bet, and sure enough, the horse was scratched. Not a good sign. I called up Briana to tell her that she was already jinxing my day.

Within a few minutes, we had a full crew soon after AlCantHang arrived and we were cracking jokes with our scantly clad waitress. She was cute as a Georgia peach and had the slow drawl to match. My notes have me knocking back shots of SoCo with ACH at the bar around 10:08am PCT. Gotta love being on the west coast for football season. Games start at 10am! I was giddy by 11am, drunk by noon, and shitfaced by 1pm. I can thank ACH for that. Derek was wicked wasted. He was visibly slurring his speech and speaking with a three second delay. I picked up some chicken fingers from the cafe to help sober him up.

Otis and Bad Blood arrived and hit up the poker room (steps away). Soon after Iggy wandered over with EvaCanHang. She had been up all night playing slots with Grubby. Iggy found a small piece of paper in his pocket that I had given him the night before at the poker room. It said: Mandalay Bay sports book - Sun. @ 10am. As soon as he discovered the note, he rushed over. I gave him his ticket for the Bengals and we just sat back and waited.

The game wasn't close in the first quarter. NE got off to a quick start and the Bengals fought to hang in there. At some point they lost their starting QB to an injury and I quickly accepted defeat. Out of nowhere, they faked a punt and scored a TD. That made the game closer than anyone imagined. The Pats ended up winning, but they didn't cover. A slew of us had bet on the Bengals, and we were all winners.

AlCantHang's buddy Phil is from San Diego and he's a huge Chargers fan. He was hanging out with us rooting for his favorite team. I also had some money on San Diego so I got as excited as Phil did when they scored or made a big play. ACH and Phil began singing the San Diego fight song. You've seen it on a few blogs already so I won't post the actual lyrics. They are quite catchy and easy to memorize, even for a bunch of drunk hooligans like ourselves. By the fourth quarter, we had the cheer down perfectly, and everyone's attention in the sports book was focused on our group when we would burst into a rowdy rendition of the Chargers' fight song. An old guy in front of us would stand up and direct the chorus of poker bloggers as if we were members of a local church choir.

I watched Bad Blood drop the hammer on his poker table. He flopped a pair and river'd two pair. He proudly displayed his Hammer for the table and scooped up a big pot. I also saw him take a vicious bad beat at a NL table with Big Slick against ATo. BB flopped an ace, and some nimrod river'd him when he hit a 10 on the river. Ouch.

The Jets lost to the Steelers and Chad Pennington played like shit. I won 3 out of four games on one of my parlay cards... the Jets the only team not covering. At some point, Julie, CJ, and G-Rob were hanging out and I was too sloshed to recall when they arrived. Ferrari was in the poker room with Otis and BB. EvaCanHang was at the tail end of a 36 hour bender and she quietly passed out in one of the chairs. I made up a "Do Not Disturb" sign and gently placed it on her. She slept through all the loud drunken chatter, even through the San Diego fight song.

I had a great conversation with CJ about his breakfast meeting with Edna, the poker room manager at Aladdin. She wants to host a future blogger event. Pretty cool, huh? I also had a great conversation with Iggy over several ideas regarding the future of our blogs and about the community in general. We also came up with an idea for a blogger tournament around March. Stay tuned for those details. I hope Iggy still has the notes from our "meeting" which I scribbled on the back of a cocktail napkin.

EvaCanHang decided it was time for her to crash. She got up said her good-byes. Before she left she mentioned, "Don't buy any more shots Al. They're too expensive."

As soon as she walked away, AlCantHang stood up and announced to the entire sports book, "Who wants a shot?"

I went with him to the bar to help carry the multiple SoCo shots back over to the table, including a Lemon Drop for Julie. The bartender mentioned that his tab was somewhere near $177.

"Only $177? Holy shit!" screamed AlCantHang, "I thought it was $300!"

When we all had our drinks I offered up a toast for AlCantHang. He quickly interrupted and said that we should all toast for me.

"To Pauly!" he said as our entire group hoisted their drinks and shots. At the same time, there was a huge play on the big screen, an interception, and the entire sports book cheered in jubilation just as the bloggers were toasting me. That was an awesome feeling, to hear "To Pauly!" followed by a thunderous applause from the entire sports book.

I realized that the majority of my drinking with AlCantHang all happened within the hours of 9am and 5pm. I wonder if that qualifies as a full time job? At the least, it gets a mentioning on my resume.

... to be continued.
Here's the timetable of the rest of my trip reports:

12.22 - Day 3, Part II: Late night hijinks including Bellagio hookers
12.24 - Day 4, Part I: Aladdin tourney report & hanging w/ Grubby & Derek
12.26 - Day 4, Part II: The Brawl revisited and Late Night with Otis
12.27 - Day 5: Afterthoughts plus my fav. pictures & quotes

And here are the ones I have already posted:

Chapter 1: Day 1, Part I
Chapter 2: Day 1, Part II
Chapter 3: Day 2, Part I
Chapter 4: Day 2, Part II... WPBT Holiday Classic
Chapter 5: Day 2, Part III

Derek finally posted his Day 1 trip report. Check that out.
As you can tell the timetable for my trip reports have been constantly changing. I have too much to write!! Stay tuned for more wild and wacky Vegas stories.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Subway...
1. The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
2. The Holy Bible
3. Skeleton Man by Tony Hillerman
4. The Hidden Messages in Water by Masaru Emoto
5. The Ticket That Exploded by William S. Burroughs
Step into the Freezer

Chapter 5... Day 2, Part III: Saturday Night Live
"Certain moments in your life define your existence. That was one of them... a monkey in a cowboy outfit riding a dog." - Tao of Pauly
I can tell what sort I night had during my travels by the condition of my notes. There are only a two scribbled sentences in my notebook for entries dated after 6pm Saturday and before 10am on Sunday... just a few words to remind me of the events of a stretch of sixteen harmless hours in Las Vegas. I have only few clues and my ambivalent memory to help with this part of the trip report. Here are my notes:
11:43pm... dropped the hammer... fucktards in seats 8,9,10 analyzing hand 3 hours later... playing with Derek, HDouble, & Iggy
That's a start. OK, so after the tournament I found myself leaving Sam's Town in a cab with the NYC crew... Derek, Ferrari, F Train, and Julie. We all grabbed dinner together and Ferrari made the most questionable food choice of the weekend... the fish n' chips with milk. After that I pretty sure we headed to the poker room. I was seated in the back right next to Bad Blood's no limit table. If I turned around, he was right there. We chatted a lot in between hands, just like any night on Party Poker. By the way, every time I saw Bad Blood in Las Vegas, he was playing poker. He even offered up a hammer bounty for his table. A few folks from Otis' crew were peppered throughout the Excalibur Poker room. And I'd wave and check in for regular Hammer updates.

Iggy recharged his batteries and eventually woke up before Midnight. He quickly joined my table and we were chatting it up. He was chugging Budweisers and extolling the virtues of Yahoo poker in an attempt to snag an Oscar nod for Best Fish-like Performance.

Grubby, F Train, EvaCanHang, and HDouble were all rocking a NL table near the Christmas tree. I heard F Train tried to crack Eva's Kings with the Hammer! And Grubby tried to crack HDouble's pocket aces with the Hiltons... to pick up a Pauly painting and to get HDouble a wheel spin. Aces held up. Maudie was cleaning out a bunch of frat boys and cowboys at her $1-3 table. Everytime I walked by she was grinding it out. Same for Bill Rini. Every time I checked, he had another rack of chips!

At some point, just when I thought I had seen it all... the monkey on the dog was shown on the big screen. Yeah, ESPN2 had full rodeo coverage all weekend long and that was the main attraction on the big screen in the poker room. When they unleashed the monkey, the entire crowd began hootin' and hollerin'. It reminded me of the insanity on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. It was one of those bizarre scenes that you completely miss the context of while reading my report in your cubicle at work. But trust me, if you were shitfaced at 4am, floating around in a sea of loose cowboys at a poker room in Las Vegas and you saw two hundred and fifty people cheering for a monkey dressed up like a cowboy on a Collie... then maybe you too would start to think that time travel is probable, peace in the Middle East is possible and that I'm 100% pretty sure I'll catch my next gutshot draw, even if it is a one outer.

Certain moments in your life define your existence. That was one of them... a monkey in a cowboy outfit riding a dog.

That was also the only other sentence I had scribbled in my notes. So the next time someone corners me at one of those dreadful New York cocktail parties and asks me if I believe in God, I can honestly say, "I do believe that monkeys can ride dogs. I've seen it in Vegas."

I tried my hardest not to laugh watching Iggy play low limit. HDouble joined our table and he accidentally turned over his cards when he thought the hand was over. He showed J7o. Yes. I have proof that not only did HDouble play J7o in Vegas... he won the pot with two pair! Later on in the night, Iggy cracked Derek's KK with 89s and even predicted that he'd river him preflop! Grubby would sit and play in either my seat of Iggy's seat when we'd take a breaks. I'd be making the rounds visitng CJ and other tables while Grubby would play out of his rack. A few times he used Iggy's rack and I was surprised no one said anything, not even the dealer! Sitting at the same table with Iggy, Derek, Grubby, and HDouble was one of those moments in Vegas where I was like, "Damn... there's no place I'd rather be!"

We were playing a $2-6 spread table and I dropped the Hammer in a pot with six limpers after raising the max preflop. Two callers and I came out firing on the flop. Everyone folded and I flipped over The Hammer! Some goofball kid from LA in Seat 10 was miffed. The rest of the night he kept talking about the hand. After a dropping the hammer, you know that everyone will call you down afterwards... so you'd better be prepared to have you high pocket pairs cracked by people playing marginal stuff. I tightened up and played good hands the rest of the night and built up a nice stack, doubling my buy in easily. Those fucktards at the far end of the table were analyzing and dissecting that move for more time than it actually deserved. I never got more attention at a poker table before. Hours later he'd say something everytime I'd raise or win a pot. Eventually I snapped at him.

"Geez. Let it go man. I was obviously fucking around. How many pots have I taken off you since then?"

He shut up after that and the hammer put him on tilt. He foolishly called everytime I raised thinking that I had nothing. Oh well. Before the night ended, I sat at Maudie's table. She was exhausted and was only staying up because it was her last night in Vegas, but she continued her run and doubled up her buyin.

On my way back to our room for a late night party, I saw Otis sitting by himself at a Pai Gow table. I wish I had a camera. I also saw Grubby and EvaCanHang happily playing the slots. Little did I know that they'd be playing until the early morning hours. Yeah, hanging out with poker bloggers, sucking up too much pure casino oxygen, and drinking watered down strawberry coladas makes you do weird things at 7am. But weird is the norm in Las Vegas, and in the end we were just just like the other animals at the circus; tired, dehydrated, and desperately needing a bath.

... to be continued.
Here's the timetable of the rest of my trip reports:

12.21 - Day 3, Part I: Sun. am shots and NFL betting at Mandalay Bay
12.22 - Day 3, Part II: Late night hijinks including Bellagio hookers
12.24 - Day 4, Part I: Aladdin tourney report & hanging w/ Grubby & Derek
12.26 - Day 4, Part II: The Brawl revisited and Late Night with Otis
12.27 - Day 5: Afterthoughts plus my fav. pictures & quotes

And here are the ones I have already posted:

Chapter 1: Day 1, Part I
Chapter 2: Day 1, Part II
Chapter 3: Day 2, Part I
Chapter 4: Day 2, Part II... WPBT Holiday Classic

Derek finally posted his Day 1 trip report. Check that out.
As you can tell the timetable for my trip reports have been constantly changing. I have too much to write!! Stay tuned for more wild and wacky Vegas stories.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Sundays Are Fundays

Well, sorry for the lack or normal updates. I've been back for a few days and my days and nights have been hectic. I haven't been going to sleep before 6am and 11am has been my normal waking time. I've been writing a ton, playing a lot of cards online late nights, and busy shopping for Christmas presents. I have been posting all my trip reports from Vegas the last few days on both sites. Overall I feel that there is very little poker content in some of them... so I think if you are not into gambling they should still be entertaining. Most of my afternoons are filled with writing up the Vegas trip. There is too much material to write about. I'm afraid if I wait... then the overall content will diminsh. I have a feeling this past weekend will be one of those trips that I'll be talking about five years from now.

Then Senor called this morning while I was passed out... he wants to go to Foxwoods this week. Well, I can't turn down that offer for a free room and night of drinking with the Tao of Pauly's favorite pants dropper! Briana is having a Christmas Bash this week too... well... can't miss up that rocking party. Where else can I fondle scantly-clad, malcontent, coke fiends at four in the morning... besides Bill Clinton's house?

On the poker front, I'm doing pretty well the last two weeks. In the last eight days I've come in 6th out of 30, 11th out of 60, and 6th out of 150 in various tournaments in Las Vegas and online. I missed the money by a few places in two and made the money in a multi table 150 person tournament on Party Poker in the wee hours of Saturday.

Big Unit!

On the sports front, the Knicks and Jets won. The Yanks got the Big Unit. Yeah my favorite sports teams are doing well for a change.

This is for the Poker Geek.

Recent Writing Music...
1. Ornette Coleman
2. John Coltrane
3. Bob Dylan with The Band
4. Theolnious Monk
5. Karl Denson

Female of the Year

Please vote for me!

Please vote for Elsiha Cuthbert since I nominated her for a contest that Sigge from Norway is running on his blog. Last year I nominated Katie Holmes and she lost to Angelina Jolie. Oh well. And I need all my fellow bloggers and readers to vote for her as many time as possible. Vote early. Vote often. It don't matter if you live in a blue or red state, just vote for Elisha.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Chapter 4... Day 2, Part II: The WPBT Holiday Classic
"You have to be willing to die, if you want to live." - Felicia Lee
Saturday, 12:55pm PCT... We finally made our way down to the poker room. It was very well lit, something that I liked right away. Dick's staff were professionals and they seemed excited to have us. We drew for seats. I picked up my card and nearly fell over when I walked over to my table and saw everyone seated. If the WPBT Holiday Classic were a televised event, chances are my table would have been the "feature table".
Table 1
Seat 1: Flip Chip
Seat 2: Charlie Shoten
Seat 3: Daddy
Seat 4: Brian
Seat 5: Mas
Seat 6: Pauly
Seat 7: Max Pescatori
Seat 8: CJ
Seat 9: Felicia Lee
Seat 10: Grubby

Table 2
Seat 1: Glenn
Seat 2: Bad Blood
Seat 3: Bill Rini
Seat 4: G-Rob
Seat 5: BG
Seat 6: Linda
Seat 7: Otis
Seat 8: AlCantHang
Seat 9: Martin
Seat 10: Bob

Table 3
Seat 1: The Poker Prof
Seat 2: -EV
Seat 3: Foiled Coup
Seat 4: Derek
Seat 5: Julie from the Blue Parrot
Seat 6: Ferrari
Seat 7: F Train
Seat 8: HDouble
Seat 9: EvaCanHang
Seat 10: Maudie
Yeah, I would have liked to sit down at any other table. With three pros (I consider Felicia a professional) and Grubby moving to Vegas to play full time... all sitting to my left... I wasn't too thrilled. I knew I would have to play solid, limit my mistakes, and catch good cards. Then maybe I had an outside shot of making the final table. Having that third double shot of SoCo a half hour before the tournament was probably not a good idea. I was buzzed and terrified.

Last place prize!

I picked up a cool bounty to give out to the blogger knocked out first. I have a great sense of humor don't I? The Gigli bounty was a hot potato. No one wanted to be given that honor. I especially didn't want to get booted first. My palms began sweating profusely. Only one thing to do to settle those chilling fears and to quell those inner demons. I ordered a beer, took a big swig, and the tournament was on it's way. I said an "Our Father" in Latin and in the back of my mind, I told myself... "You are never going to get better playing against fish. If you wanna be the Man... you have to beat the Man."

AlCantHang searches for a waitress

Level 1: Blinds 25/50 and you start with T2000 in chips. Top 5 places paid cash. On the first hand of the tournament, G-Rob dropped The Hammer! God bless him. It seemed to me that Charlie was messing around in the first level. He got me to fold QJs to his 46s when he raised my blind. I told myself not to play anything aside from Group 1 hands in the first two levels. Within seconds of each other, we lost our first two players. On my table, Flip Chip's AA were cracked by Max's AJs when Max hit a flush. Second earlier Al Cant Hang's AQ knocked out Bill Rini's QJ and Bill got the dreaded Gigli prize. By the time the level ended, I had T1800.

Charlie and Daddy

Level 2: Blinds 50/100... and I made a move on Daddy. I had AJs and I got him to fold AQ on a ragged flop. He showed me his hand and asked me to wait until he got back to Indiana to read my tourney report to find out what I had. CJ knew right away that I had AJ. A few hands later Daddy went up against Charlie. His KJ lost to Charlie's KQ when they both flop top pair. Outkicked, ouch. T2125 and 17 players remaining.

Where's Otis?

Level 3: F Train lost a tough hand to Ferrari after he flopped trips and let Ferrari see a free card. On the next hand he was booted by EvaCanHang and won his bounty... and F Train tshirt. I think AlCantHang almost knocked out two players on one hand. Linda's 66 and Bad Blood's KK were no match for another AQ from ACH. He flopped a pair and crippled Bad Blood while knocking out Linda. Back on my table Felicia's AK lost to Brian's AT when she pushed him all in on the flop and he caught a 10 on the river, With Felicia shortstacked she pushed all in on the very next hand with AQ. I found the Hilton Sisters and called. I think she had less than T500 remaining. When I saw her hand, I asked the dealer to hold onto those aces! I think an ace hit the turn and I doubled up Felicia. She had plenty of ups and downs early. She tripled up against Grubby and Charlie. And that was the beginning of her run. I had T1300 left and looking to hold onto my chips.

Half of -EV, Foiled Coup, and Derek

Felicia did a great job writing up the next hand that I was involved in with Max. Here you go:
A funny thing about that, was a hand that was so painful to watch which occurred right before Pauly's run. This is the hand that really got me talking more at the table, since Max was offering his advice, too, in between kidding and joking around.

I was in the BB. Max was on the button. Mas limped in MP. Pauly limped in the cut-off. Max went all-in. Watching Max during the tourney, and his behavior up until that time, I knew he didn't want a caller. He usually wants to screw around and get a caller or two when the stakes aren't high and he has a premium hand. So the hand smacked of AK to me, or maybe AQ, but probably not. I also thought about the possibility of jacks or tens. Who really wants multiple callers with those hands? No one. So he put his chips in, not wanting to screw around with the hand, just wanting the blinds and two limpers. That would put 700 into is already big lead.

I looked down to find 55 in my BB. Had I been last to act, I would have called Max's all-in. Not because I necessarily thought I was in the lead, but because I figured it was a coin flip, and these small tourneys are no time to be messing around. Yes, I am a rock, and I don't usually even play small pairs in big tourneys, but no one had any chips, and I could have doubled through Max, giving me a huge chip lead at the table, since I was already co-lead with him at that time. Like I said in my last post, I sometimes have to "die" in order to live.

Pauly and Max the Italian Pirate

So I folded, knowing it could be a multi-way all-in pot, one in which I was surely behind. Mas quickly folded, no thought. Pauly agonized and looked like he was giving birth. Finally, though, he folded, face up. Pocket tens. Everyone gasped. He was HU against Max, with a premium hand. No, no, no. He had only about 1200 left after limping in. The blinds were 100/200. No, no, no. I told him why he couldn't fold that hand, in that position, under those circumstances. At first, Max kidded him by saying it was a good fold, but later told him the truth of the situation. Don't make big laydowns in little tournaments, and if you ever make a big lay down, period, never show it, or the table will run you over. Max showed AK.

Okay, so the funny story was that after this hand, Pauly went on his premium run. During this run, Max looked at me like he was really suffering and said, "Couldn't you have waited to tell him he was supposed to call with those tens? Waited until after the tournament?" Naturally we both saw the hands Pauly was getting, because he always got action, due to the structure of the tourney. At the time, it was a really funny comment, though, and I wish it translated better to paper.
In my defense, I put Max on JJ or Hiltons. If I suspected he had AK, I would have pushed. I had a gut feeling it was a higher pair. I showed him hoping that he'd show me which he did. That opened up a series of small talks that Max would give me the rest of the afternoon. Betwen Max and Felicia, I got plenty of solid advice on my game. Watching the pros play at my table made me aware of the little things that I need to do to improve me game.

OK, so I fucked up and folded pocket 10s to Max's suited slick. But soon after I was stuck by a calming moment. I recalled some words of wisdom from Lao Tzu:
"Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity,
Reduce selfishness, have few desires."
My nerves were settled and that's when I went on my run, so it didn't matter anymore that I blew a chance to double up against Max. A slew of players were booted. Grubby's AK lost to Charlie's 99. Bad Blood and CJ were next to be shown the exit. Just before the level ended, I put Charlie on a steal. I pushed all in with my BB... I had nothing, Q5o and Charlie showed me A7o when he folded. 22 players left and I had T1500.

Maudie's got AK, but check out Bad Blood's t-shirt!

Level 4: Julie's shortstack doubled up against HDouble when her AA held up. We now had G-Rob and The Poker Prof seated with us. Felicia's 55 beat out Charlie's AQ and that left him with only a few chips. He was KO'd on the same hand with the Poker Prof when Max's small pair held up against their overcards. 21 players left.

Charlie Shoten and the Poker Prof

Level 5: I found the Hilton Sisters once again. Mas threw out a bet UTG almost half his stack. I pushed right away. He must have had a seriously marginal hand otherwise he would have called instantly. I figured Mas had a small pair and eventually decided to take the coinflip. I was surprised to see JTo and that was the reason he took a long time to make his decision. My Hiltons held up and I doubled up against him. G-Rob was knocked out by Felicia. 18 players left, T4100 and looking great.

Level 6: Down to two tables. Otis, BG, Bob and AlCantHang were moved to our table. Derek's shortstack got knocked out by Foiled Coup's 27o. -EV and EvaCanHang were also out. Back at my table, Bob's AJ lost to Max's AA. Everyone was dropping out like flies. I was gaining more confidence and then I ran into a monster. I usually wait until everyone to look at their hand first before I look at my hole cards. For some reason, I peeked at the first card as soon as it hit my stack. Ace of diamonds. Not too shabby. Al Cant Hang bet 1/3 of his stack under the gun. I told myself that if I saw any paint I was going to call. When I got my second card... the ace of clubs... I knew that AlCantHang was going to be toast. I pushed all in and I saw AlCantHang drop his head, with his chin buried into his chest.

"Pauly, Pauly, Pauly! Why did you do that?" he muttered. He thought about it for thirty seconds. He called even admitting before he turned over his cards that he was far behind. He was... with ATo (not KJ like he claimed on his blog). I doubled up against AlCantFold's stack and had over 10,000 in chips. Ferrari was kncoked out by 10-10 and we were down to 12. I found pocket Jacks under the gun. It's my least favorite pocket pair so I moved all in. Otis called in LP with Slick suited. My Jacks hold up and I knocked out Otis. That was sweet revenge for that bad beat I suffered months earlier in the True Poker event! Boy Genius knocked out Mas for the Battle of the Geniuses. I was the chipleader and had T12000+ and had more chips than Max. It was breaktime and I made the decision to play conservative. I didn't want to give up my big lead on foolish calls.
The Final Table:
Seat 1: Felicia
Seat 2: Max
Seat 3: Foiled Coup
Seat 4: Pauly
Seat 5: AlCantFold
Seat 6: BG
Seat 7: Glenn
Seat 8: HDouble
Seat 9: Julie
Seat 10: Martin
Level 7: Ah, the chipleader. The last time I held a chip lead at the final table in a blogger sanctioned event... I blew it all during the infamous Pauly Implosion.

I just got moved to the final table as the chip leader.
Those are all of my chips in that rack next to Julie.

I had the most chips at the Final Table, with Max not far behind, and Felicia looking solid. HDouble and Foiled Coup had the shortest stacks. And without a doubt, AlCantHang must have been the biggest surprise of the tournament. Nobody picked him to make the final table. None of the bloggers, none of the oddsmakers in Vegas, none of the offshore books, not even his wife picked him! Is he a better player than he gives himself credit to be? Or did he level the playing field by getting everyone crocked all morning long? For years poker scholars will be debating the AlCantHang factor in the first WBPT Holiday Classic.

On one the first hands, AlCantHang pushed his chips all in against Max. And for the second time he ran into pocket aces. Ouch, anothe rmonster. Nothing you can do about that. He quickly headed for the bar out in 10th place. I had been bullying Boy Genius when he was moved to my table before the final table seating. He played a hand and his AT was outmatched by Foiled Coup's AJ. BG was left with a shortstack and Foiled Coup was able to double through. I looked at my stack... about T15,200 and behind Max after he took all of AlCantHang's chips. Felicia knocked out BG a few hands later when her 88 won the race against his overcards. BG left in 9th place amid a warm shower of applause. HDouble had been aggressively stealing blinds just to survive. If I had anything I would have called him a couple of times. I found a Q9s once and considered it... but my mentality at that point was to let the smaller stacks knock themselves out. Glenn almost knocked out HDouble... A7 to A6. He had the shortest stack and was hanging on. Martin was the next to go when he ran into Julie's A7. What was up with A7? It was winning a lot of pots for the entire trip. Seven players left. HDouble's tiny stack tripled up against Felicia and Max. He was fighting for every chip! That was, until he ran into Max's Big Slick when he had AJs. HDouble's 4th quarter rally fell short. He finished in 7th place.

Bubble Boy

We're all on the bubble. The top five places paid... and I could see the piece of paper that Dick posted on the wall behind the table with the prize payouts. Top 5. Julie was in the big blind, Glenn in the small blind. I am on the button. Felicia and Max fold to me and I moved all in with 66. I was on a steal. I didn''t want any callers, just the blinds. I had not played any hands (aside from stealing blinds twice) at the final table. I had not seen one flop. Julie had KQs and called. The flop looked great for me... all rainbow rags. Same on the turn. The Queen spiked on the river and I was devastated. "You got to be kidding me!" I yelled in my best John McEnroe imitation. So much for winning my first blogger tournament. I had next to nothing in chips. Next hand I had A3s. I moved all in and Julie called with A7. I lost and walked way pretty ticked off. Al Cant Hang was standing around and he's the first person I saw. "Dr. Pauly needs a shot," he said. The next thing I know I'm knocking back SoCo and wondering why I didn't limp in with 66. I bubbled out in another tournament. That is the most frustrating feeling in poker. And that's been my sad story about my poker play this entire year.... I'm the bubble boy. It's a bad habit that I must break out of in 2005.

I went back to the table and picked up my notebook from Derek. He was taking notes for a little while during my decompression session with AlCantHang.

Three Way Action

Level 8: Foiled Coup moved all in with AQ and luckily caught a Queen on the river to beat Felicia's AK. Glenn was shortstack and he pushed all in preflop with A9s against Max's AK. Another big hand for Max. Felicia took a big pot from Julie when he Big Slick held up against Julie's J-10. Foiled Coup's run at the final table was over when he had to push all in from the big blind against Max's 22. A valiant effort from a the member of the Lasvegaslasvegas crew. It was three way... Julie, Max, and Felicia Lee.

Julie bluffing Max at the final table.

Without a doubt, Julie was overmatched. That was her first ever NL tournament and her run was impressive. She lost a tough pot to Felicia's high straight and then doubled up against Max with A7. Max eventually knocked Julie out and she took down a third place prize outlasting the pack. Felicia ended up beating Max when her K7s bested his AJ.

Joaquin was generous enough tp purchase and ship a cowboy hat for the winner... which went to Felicia. I was happy to see Felicia win the Holiday Classic since she had been very sick the last week or so leading up to the event. I picked Glenn to win only because he had been playing more NL than Felicia, but I was still happy to see her take us all down.

Felicia Lee wins!
The Final Results:
1. $600... Felicia Lee from Golden Valley, AZ
2. $310... Max Pescatori from Las Vegas, NV
3. $230... Julie from New York, NY
4. $130... Foiled Coup from Las Vegas, NV
5. $80... Glenn from Golden Valley, AZ

6. Pauly (A3s lost to Julie's A7)
7. HDouble
8. Martin
9. BG
10. Al Cant Hang

11. Mas (JTo lost to my QQ)
12. Otis (AKs lost to my JJ)
13. Ferrari
14. Maudie
15. Bob
16. -EV
17. Derek
18. EvaCanHang
19. G-Rob
20. Charlie Shoten
21. Poker Prof
22. Brian
23. CJ
24. Bad Blood
25. Grubby (AKs lost to Charlie's 99)
26. Linda from Poker Works (66 lost to AQ)
27. F Train (KQ lost to EvaCanHang's 77)
28. Daddy (KJ lost to Charlie's KQ)
29. Flip Chip (AA lost to Max's AJs)
30. Bill Rini (QJ lost to AlCantHang's AQ)
If you would like to view the photo gallery for the WPBT Holiday Classic... here's the link. Thanks again to Joe and Joe, Sr. for all of their help. All of these pictures are courtesy of Thanks also to Jeff from Check N Raise who helped sponsor the event and gave out cool jackets to everyone. Anyone have a pic of those? Thanks also to the folks over at All N Poker. They gave out t-shirts for the final eight and shotglasses to 9th and 10th place.

We got some positive feedback from the staff at Sam's Town. Here are some of ths comments, Dick posted on his blog:
"Where did these people come from? They are great!"

"It was a pleasure to work today"

"I hope some of them stay for the tonight's tournament. They could teach some of our regulars some manners."

"These people are fun."
Whew. I was a little worried that a few of us were intoxicated and acting unprofessional. I'm glad that everything worked out.

Thanks to Dick Gatewood!

Special thanks goes out to Dick Gatewood. He completely hooked all of us up with the tournament, banquet hall, and discounted rooms. The next time you are in Las Vegas, go to Sam's Town to play poker... and make sure you tell him that Pauly and the bloggers sent you. You can pick up some last minute cool poker related gifts at his main site Buy It In Vegas.

Here's the timetable of the rest of my trip reports:

12.20 - Day 2, Part III: More blogger tables, Hammers, & late night hijinks
12.21 - Day 3, Part I: Sun. am shots and NFL betting at Mandalay Bay
12.22 - Day 3, Part II: Late night hijinks including Bellagio hookers
12.24 - Day 4, Part I: Aladdin tourney report & hanging w/ Grubby & Derek
12.26 - Day 4, Part II: The Brawl revisited and Late Night with Otis
12.27 - Day 5: Afterthoughts plus my fav. pictures & quotes

And here are the ones I have already posted:

Chapter 1: Day 1, Part I
Chapter 2: Day 1, Part II
Chapter 3: Day 2, Part I
As you can tell the timetable for my trip reports have been constantly changing. I have too much to write!! Stay tuned for more wild and wacky Vegas stories. There are plenty fo Hammer stories too. In the meantime, please visit everyone's blog for their kickass trip reports; Iggy, Derek, Poker Prof, Flip Chip, and Foiled Coup from Lasvegasvegas, Dick from Buy It In Vegas, Riding the F Train, Boy Genius, Bad Blood, Bill Rini, Felicia, Glenn, Otis & CJ & G-Rob, Al Cant Hang & EvaCanHang, Maudie, Signor Ferrari, - EV, Bob, Grubby, Mas from Genius of Poker, Martin from JMC Automatic and Brian, Linda from Poker Works, and Daddy from Snail Trax. Did I miss anybody? Some are up, some are in the process of writing them, and some people like my brother are swamped with work, so I'm sure you'll be reading about this trip over the next few weeks. Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Chapter 3... Day 2, Part I: Sherwood Forest and the Sam's Town Meet & Greet
"This little insidious thought terrorist has got to go or my radiant contagious smile will not be appearing as often in my future." - Charlie Shoten
Saturday 8:31am PCT... As I closed my eyes, I swear... the phone was ringing. It was my wake up call. Wake up? I just went to bed! I was still wearing all my clothes from the night before. I was suffering from mental dehydration and had a wicked case of cotton mouth. As I stared up at the ceiling, all I could think about was... where the fuck was Grubby?

Derek shuffled off to the shower and I fired up my laptop for a quick update of two of my blogs. The poker bloggers in my life wanted to hear juicy details of the trip... and the remainder of my friends back home wanted to make sure I was still alive. Everyone knows I'm a big boy and hanging out with Al Cant Hang is an adventure in itself... but partying with ACH on a three day bender in Vegas is like foolishly walking into downtown Fallujah with a squirt gun and a swizzle stick. I had about ten minutes to write. How does one condense a full day of madness in Sin City into a 200 word blog entry? I was working on a dial up modem and tried my best. I ignored the slew of errors, posted, and hopped into the shower. I got out, dripping wet when Maudie called. We went up to her room, checked out her view (much better than ours), and inspected the infamous, kick ass WBPT t-shirts featuring the logo she designed. Derek and I helped carry the shirts, Maudie grabbed her "bounty" and we headed downstairs. The time was 9:20am and our intentions were to get to Sam's Town way before 10am. We were on schedule... were... until Little Red Riding Hood was ambushed by the Big Bad Wolf.

It was still early in the morning for Vegas standards and we navigated through a slew of Rodeo families with small children in cowboy hats as they rambunctiously made their way to and from breakfast. I like kids, especially red neck kids. They're the cutest. However, my tolerance for little ones runs thin when I'm hungover especially in Vegas when you have a throbbing headache similar to the feeling you'd get when you slam a car door onto your fingers. I side step the wee ones like dog shit on a crowded Manhattan sidewalk. We finally make our way through the first obstacle and quickly head towards the front door.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see someone stumbling through a row of nickel slot machines. Poor guy probably stayed up all night drinking and gambling and it appeared he couldn't find his room. Just another victim of the depravity of the dark side of Vegas. I stopped for a second to get a better look at the unlucky fella. Holy shit. It was Iggy. I completely forgot he was in Vegas. Our epic meeting just nine hour earlier wasn't a dream after all. In Vegas, my short term memory was as spotty as my cellphone reception.

OK, so I found an inebriated Iggy who opted for more liquor than sleep. But Grubby was still AWOL. Just as I grabbed Iggy, I realized that the Sherwood Forest bar is packed with bloggers and King Al Cant Hang is holding court with his beautiful blonde bride... Queen EvaCanHang at his side. His merry jester BigMike kept everyone happily entertained with multiple rounds of hearty meeds and ales and a smattering of his loyal soused subjects sang his praises. Iggy's liver had been hijacked by BigMike just around the time I passed out at my laptop. He didn't look like he was going to make it as he slumped back on a stool at the bar. Within seconds, I had a shot of SoCo in my hand. Before I could consider the circumstances, like Pavlov's frothing dog and in a worldly Zen moment, the edge of glass automatically hit my lips as the nectar of the Gods struggled to make it's way into my queasy stomach, into my reluctant liver, and into my starving soul.

It was 9:20am on a Saturday morning in Las Vegas. I just inhaled a shot of SoCo with AlCantHang and BigMike before I even had a bite to eat or a sip of water. What a start to the day. What could I do to top that? A second shot of course. That one went down much smoother. Bad Blood was a little tipsy and gleefully showed Maudie and Derek pictures of Mrs. Blood and the mini-bloods. His 42 inch guns were proudly on display underneath a t-shirt that HDouble aptly described as "the best and worst shirt he's ever seen." Daddy never made his way back to Sam's Town and had been knocking back cocktails with Iggy and BigMike since 4am. Here is Daddy's take:
I've done some partying in my day. There isn't a man on this planet who can hang with Big Mike Cant Hang. He drank enough Southern Comfort to kill a decent sized village, and that was just in one 4am-8am session. Truly fucking amazing.
G-Rob was super tipsy and EvaCanHang was impressing the peanut gallery with her ability to knock back tequila at 9am with the same grace as Willie Mays shagging down a rope into the gap at the Polo Grounds. When Otis appeared, I thought we were going to have to call a doctor. His face was the same shade as the olive green jacket he wore.

"Otis, my man, do you need a doctor or something?" I said in my most serious tone of the entire trip.

"I thought you were one, Dr. Pauly?"

I paused and let my short term memory collect itself.

"You betcha. This doctor says you need a second opinion from Dr. Hang."

I have never lost a patient before and I would be damned if we lost Otis on the operating table. We were lingering at the bar when BigMike assured us that he was renting a stretch limo, a SUV Excursion, to whisk away to Sam's Town. Ah, we were with royalty. We were hanging with rockstars. Who takes a taxi in Vegas? Peasants! That's who. We were still on schedule but I made the first coinflip decision of the day to stay with the group. If I left and took a cab... then I was sure they would be super late or never show up. With my presence, it gave the group a feeling of urgency that we needed to get to Sam's Town as soon as possible. In a rampant stupor, we all bolted for the front door. The time was 9:35am and the limo was late. Who would have expected... a gaggle of drunks were early. That's Vegas for ya. Oh well. Thanks to BigMike for the hookup. He's one of the most generous guys you will ever meet along with AlCantHang. The reason their bar tabs are so astronomically high that it takes a core of engineers outsourced to New Delhi to compute the nightly totals... is not because they like to drink... it's because they like to buy everyone within a twenty foot radius of them a drink. To that generosity, I am thankful.

The limo ride was rowdy. Bad Blood had given AlCantHang a mix CD of various metal bands. The limo driver was blasting it for a while before I begged him to turn on the he radio. Of course he puts on a metal radio station despite the pleas of Maudie for some Frank Sinatra. At that point, Otis looked his worst. I mentioned something to G-Rob and he admitted that "There was an 80% chance of Otis puking."

"I'll take that action!" I shouted.

I lost another side bet. Not the first and not the last. My head should be struck off with a blunt object for making foolish bets like that one.

Late Bloggers

I finally caught a glimpse of Sam's Town. It looked pretty cool. As we all de-limoed, a group of young kids (a church group? a school group?) were getting onto a bus. They all stood in awe as AlCantHang exited.

"Hey what band are you in?" one of the youngsters shouted at AlCantHang.

"The AlCantHang Experience," he said as he scribbled down a few autographs.

Julie had told me later on that she though AlCantHang looked like a roadie. Rockstar wasn't too much of a stretch when you got long hair and have an entourage the size of a baseball team. The kids thought they were meeting a rock icon.

I eventually found my way to the ballroom and the first person I saw was the Poker Prof. I quickly apologized for our tardiness and I realized I was more buzzed that I wanted to be. The lack of food in my stomach killed my tolerance. I made a beeline for some fruit and water and talked to Dick Gatewood as I tried to collect myself.

Meet and Greet

I found Grubby finally! And it looked like everyone was trickling in. Linda from Poker Works gave me a big hug! Glad to see that she made it. I thanked and chatted with Charlie for a few moments with G-Rob and F Train about various topics. Charlie and I grew up in the same borough of New York, so we had that connection.

F Train, Pauly, and G-Rob with Charlie Shoten

I wandered over to Marcel Luske. He gave me his business card and spoke for a long time with Maudie about trying to get America to have universal poker rules... since each state (and Indian reservation) has their own set of rules. He was a very serious conversationalist and didn't act like that goofy guy you saw on TV. At heart he has a lot of respect for the game and based on his impassioned talks, I could tell he truly loved poker.

Derek and Maudie chat with Marcel

I got to talk a little bit with Ron Rose. He autographed his book, Poker Aces, for me and thanked him for coming. I told him I give him a good review on my blog. I was going to talk to Tom McEvoy and Kirill Gerasimov but because we were all late and short on time, Charlie's lecture began.

Charlie Shoten took time out of his busy schedule to help us all out and shared his experiences in life and with poker. He could have been playing at one of the Bellagio events, but instead he was hanging out with bloggers.

Introducing Charlie

He touched on some topics in his upcoming book No Limit Life specifically his Ten Commitments and stressed that how you approach life and how you approach poker is attributed to how you think about things. He hit some rough spots in his lecture but I got the overall jist of what he was trying to convey. Focus is key especially in any lengthy major tournament. And if you employ the Ten Commitments to your life, you will be able to overcome the Thought Terrorists and smoke them out of their caves. Halfway through the lecture, Max Pescatori and Evelyn Ng appeared. I read all about Max in some of Felicia's previous write ups and I was interested in meeting him.

Marcel Luske and Evelyn Ng

I felt bad that no one had any questions for Charlie. I think people had general questions, but thought he was fielding specific questions on his Ten Commitments. Next up to speak was Jeff from Check n Raise Poker an online poker site. He flew in from Canada to help sponsor the event. Check n Raise Poker also hooked everyone up with really kick ass jackets. Due to problems with customs, he was only able to bring a few with him into the country. I felt bad for Jeff. The boys at Homeland Security were giving him a hard time. He was giving out some cool card cappers and keychains. He answered some questions about his site and even suggested that he would be interested in hosting a bloggers tournament. I was glad that everything worked out well.

Tom McEvoy during the Q&A

Tom McEvoy spoke for a few minutes in a Q&A session. I quickly seized control and asked the first question. It was one of several questions I had carefully thought out to ask the professionals before I arrived.

"I seem to have trouble with AK. It's a hand that gets me knocked out of more tournaments that any other hand. Am I playing it too strongly or should I be laying it down more?"

That got a light chuckle from the audience but Tom jumped right in to answer. He said the old adage, "In no limit, you have to win with AK and beat AK to be successful." He agreed that it's the most overrated and most misplayed hand in hold'em because the value of AK preflop is not very high since it's a drawing hand... and that's why it's tough to win consistently with AK. I was pretty happy that I got to ask a world champion advice on a hand I always seemed to have problems with.

Glenn asked a great question about the new generation of online players and how the professionals were handling them. McEvoy said he didn't have a problem because he plays online more than live games on PokerStars and has a better familiarity of the style of online poker players than seasoned cash game and tournament players. He even joked calling the site he plays on... RiverStars.

When Tom finished his session, we all mingled for a little while longer. Most of the pros had to return to the Bellagio to play in the NL event. It was cool that they stopped by. I ate some more fruit and bagels and courageously tried some orange juice. I got to sit down and chat with Linda from Poker Works. I read all about her tattoos and wanted to see them for real. She was completely cool and showed them all to me. Her journal was one of the first poker blogs I ever read, along with Iggy's, Mr. Decker's, and Felicia's old yahoo groups. Great to finally put a face with her tales about dealing poker at the Bellagio. I was helping Dick get everyone to pay him the entry fee and we discovered that Max Pescatori wanted to play with us, who would be taking Dick's spot who couldn't play due to Nevada gaming laws. We now had two professionals joining the mix. I wandered out to the bar, which looked like the size of an NYC apartment. AlCantHang bought me another shot and I collected a few more entry fees.

Santos' artwork

The Poker Prof handed me a special present from Santos. Above is the strip that the Poker Prof presented to me. Pretty cool, huh? If you have never seen J. Santos' artwork... you're missing out. I love his warped sense of humor.

Anyway, we finally made our way down to the poker room to play in the first ever live World Poker Bloggers Event... the Holiday Classic.

... to be continued.

Thanks Poker Prof!

Thanks to Dick Gatewood, Joe and Joe, Sr. for all of their help with the Holiday Classic. All of these pictures are courtesy of

Here's the timetable of the rest of my trip reports:

12.17 - Day 2, Part II: WPBT Holiday Classic Tourney Report
12.18 - Day 2, Part III: More blogger tables, Hammers, & late night hijinks
12.21 - Day 3, Part I: Sun. am shots and NFL betting at Mandalay Bay
12.22 - Day 3, Part II: Late night hijinks including Bellagio hookers
12.23 - Day 4, Part I: Aladdin tourney report & hanging w/ Grubby & Derek
12.24 - Day 4, Part II: The Brawl revisited and Late Night with Otis
12.27 - Day 5: Afterthoughts plus my fav. pictures & quotes

And here are the ones I have already posted:

Chapter 1: Day 1, Part I
Chapter 2: Day 1, Part II
As you can tell the timetable for my trip reports have been constantly changing. I have too much to write!! Stay tuned for more wild and wacky Vegas stories. There are plenty fo Hammer stories too. In the meantime, please visit everyone's blog for their kickass trip reports; Iggy, Derek, Poker Prof, Flip Chip, and Foiled Coup from Lasvegasvegas, Dick from Buy It In Vegas, Riding the F Train, Boy Genius, Bad Blood, Bill Rini, Felicia, Glenn, Otis & CJ & G-Rob, Al Cant Hang & EvaCanHang, Maudie, Signor Ferrari, - EV, Bob, Grubby, Mas from Genius of Poker, Martin from JMC Automatic and Brian, Linda from Poker Works, and Daddy from Snail Trax. Did I miss anybody? Some are up, some are in the process of writing them, and some people like my brother are swamped with work, so I'm sure you'll be reading about this trip over the next few weeks. Thanks for stopping by.