Friday, April 23, 2010

Trauma Engulfing My Dream

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

It's been a weird 48 hours, well not that kinda of peculiar-weird, but some interesting and strange times, with plenty of anxious highs and lows, and lots of in between. A trip to Las Vegas is never without an abundance of emotions. It's hard to have a sojourn to Sin City without experiencing the gamut of emotional turmoil.

Nicky and I drove out to Vegas for less a quick trip lasting less than 36 hours. The purpose of our trip -- to scope out condos for the summer. Last year was a disaster because the A/C broke at our apartment and the ensuing clusterfuck with inept people promising to fix it, which never got done in a timely process. We spent the last three weeks of last summer living inside a hotel room at the Gold Coast Casino.

In order to give Nicky some privacy while she slept, I spent countless hours writing inside the bathroom of our hotel room. Sometimes, you have to make due with your circumstances. I would have preferred to be sitting down at a sturdy desk with melodious tunes on in the background, but that wasn't the case. That's why I was on a mission this year to make sure that did not happen this upcoming summer. I refuse to write in Las Vegas bathrooms, more so, I refuse to pay big bucks and be forced to write in a bathroom.

Las Vegas bathrooms are specifically designed to defecate, urinate, snort blow, and the occasional tryst. And not used to work on a writing deadline.

Because I dropped over 2K on hotel rooms last year (total bill for two different segments; three weeks in the summer and one week in November), the Gold Coast was eager to give me two free rooms. They had been sending me promos all winter long, which had piled up in a box back in NYC. I finally sifted through all those casino promotions during my recent trip to NYC and found a dozen expired promos and one active one. I figured that I'd go to Vegas to inspect condos while using the free rooms at the Gold Coast, so the total cost of the trip would be a tank of gas each way (or roughly $65 total).

The Gold Coast had an ulterior motive. They also knew that I was a degenerate gambler, specifically with Pai Gow, and that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to play. Alas, they are right. The cost of two nights to them was insignificant compared to the thousands that they could earn if I happened to veer off into MPGT (or Mega Pai Gow Tilt). Just to be clear, the Gold Coast is mentioned a few times in Lost Vegas, and is the location of the Otis/Keno crayon affair from four summers ago. Hard to think that it was that long ago, because it seems like it was yesterday.

In November, AlCantHang and I played a marathon session of Pai Gow where we didn't move for over six, seven, maybe eight hours. I lost track, but Al was counting how many Greyhounds he drank by setting aside the straw for every single one of his cocktails. He collected a pile. By the end of the night, it was in excess of 24. And you know what? Al was dead sober, probably because those drinks are seriously watered down. Regardless, the casino preyed on our weaknesses in order to suck every single dollar out of my pocket.

On this trip, I played the game, and took advantage of free room, got all of my business meetings out of the way, and then headed into the bowels of the casino to... gamble. I shunned the sports book. I made a promise not to bet on any NBA games unless it was one of those "locks" or "bet the farm" picks that I get from friends of mine who are so-called professional sports bettors. At the present moment, I've kept true to my word and did not bet on any sports during my brief stint in Las Vegas.

Pai Gow? That's a whole other story, which I'm about to sit down and write once I'm finished this post. You can find those degen tales over at Tao of Poker sometime in the future.

On a good note, the commute was smooth both ways; less than four hours door-to-door on both legs. Vegas traffic wasn't too bad either, even though I had to crisscross the city on Thursday morning doing administrative stuff for our summer housing. It was raining too, which is odd for Las Vegas, but at least Vegas drivers actually drive slow on the surface streets. In LA, not the case which complicates matters because selfish/retarded SoCal drivers do not have experience driving in inclement weather, which creates even more accidents.

I hate to say this... but I was happy to get out of Vegas and return to LA. I'm looking forward to enjoying every moment that I am here. I have a two-week work assignment (luckily which I can complete from my office, pantsless and bong-in-hand) but do not expect to travel anywhere for five weeks, save for another quick run to Vegas to take care of any condo snafus.

As you can tell, I'm not looking forward to living in Las Vegas for eight weeks (for a seven-week assignment). I have two weekend getaways planned, both Phish-related side trips to the East Coast, but I'm spending no more than eight or nine days away compared to 20 last summer.

* * * * *

I don't get embarrassed much.

Ashamed? Shit, all the time.

But I'm rarely embarrassed unless I'm bunched together with some colleagues who are barely hanging on and only working because a significant amount of outlets are operating on shoestring budgets and they pay these hacks next to nothing. I get a squeamish when I'm mentioned in the same breath as those folks. Yes, I'm being a snob, but you'd also loathe being grouped in with unprofessional amateurs.

As much as there is a significant amount of dead weight in any media genre (pick a field), the poker media seems to have more schelps mainly because you do not need a journalism background to gain an entry-level position. Sure, I took advantage of that loophole and caught a break, along with many of my other friends. However, there is no coincidence that many of the top reporters in our business are former journalists.

But just because you have a journalism background doesn't necessarily make you a top notch reporter in poker. You see, the poker media is also full of journo-rejects who couldn't hack it in the real world, which is why they ended up somewhere on the circuit.

The poker media is sort of like a rag-tag team of minor leaguer baseball players. A handful of scribes got a taste of the big time, and a couple of them are waiting for a call back up to the big leagues. It's not if, just when. However, like any minor league baseball team, only one of two players are going to become a true professional with a storied career in the big leagues. Unfortunately, the rest of the team is peppered with players who are simply chasing their dreams. They don't have what it takes to join the ranks of the pros; they have peaked out and will never advance. And much like your local AA affiliate, you have a surly washed up vet in there who is just holding onto life mainly because they have no where else to go.

If you look in the right place, a corner of the poker media is comprised of a small group of talented writers and reporters, not to mention several highly creative people. Most of those stellar scribes are the Brits, whom I hold in the highest esteem. I've been told by a few peers that they wish they could write like me, which is funny I tell them, because I often wish I could write with the ease of the Brits. After all, they created the bloody language and us Yanks butcher the shit out of it.

When my colleague Howard from London suggested a book title, I jumped all over it and didn't think twice about picking up Day of the Locust by Nathanael West. One of the reasons the Brits are such exceptional writers is that they are also voracious readers and consume literature. And it's a staple of high end lit and none of this dumbed-down fast-food-generated news that we read in America.

I suppose that some of the Brits have a similar disdain about me... "Why is that hack Pauly lumped in with us?" Which is a fair assessment, because I am realistic about my abilities and know that they at least a mile ahead of me (or make the 1.6 kilometers), which is to say, that the Brits are miles and miles ahead of the herd, so far ahead, that most of the herd doesn't even know they exist.

God bless the Brits. They inspire me to become a better writer. Shit, the best book ever written about poker and Las Vegas was written by a British poet. A. Alvarez. He's my hero.

I'm from the school of thought that you should treat people as you want to be treated which is why I give everyone a fair shot. You only get one shot with me, sometimes two, and rarely three if I'm in a forgiving mood. I want to be treated as an individual instead of lumped together with a group -- since it's impossible for me to fully be with anyone other person who is anything like me, let alone a dozen, a hundred, or a even nation. I know that I tend to group people together, but only after I give them a chance to prove to be an original entity and original personality, however the moment I sense otherwise, I write them off until they can prove to me that they are worthy of being treated differently.

In short, you don't start out as a sheep in my eyes, but if that's your behavior and tendencies, it's hard to to call a spade a spade. Welcome to the herd.

The genesis of all of this hoopla is that a foreign non-poker journalist lumped me in with the herd and I was embarrassed. In their eyes, my abilities were no different than the worst writer in the business who write the same shit day after day and year after year. I've always pride myself on ever-evolving and attempting to produce a wide variety of content, doing my best to not repeat myself. Yet, none of that mattered.

I shouldn't care what this person thinks, yet I vowed to change that person's mind in the only way I know how...write better. I know that I can, and I'm gonna do it. In the end, not for them, but for myself. If I'm fired up to work harder to save myself from future embarrassment, then that's what I'm doing. Let's hope that Lost Vegas does the trick.


  1. you know i can be more forgiving than you are ... but you are correct. kudos to the online poker world, however, for letting the people that do their shit-work believe they are making meaningful contributions with their "writing". 

    i abandoned real journalism because i felt i could reach the top easier in the poker world than i could in political reporting or cultural commentary. be careful what you wish for, i suppose. because being on top can still be just missionary sex with skanks, hos, and lame-os. and in that situation, is 5 minutes (or 5 years) of ho-hum really worth the bumps on your dick you leave with?

  2. vandy1:45 PM

    My first thought (and my last since I'm writing it down) after reading about your "embarrassment"... Michael Jordan was always going out of his way to find some slight (imagined or not) to motivate him.  While I'm no literary critic, I know what I like...  I never missed a game that Jordan played in and I never miss a day without looking forward to and always being happy that I spent the time reading what you have to write.  Whatever it takes to keep you motivated, Bro - you suck!  Thanks!