Monday, October 29, 2007

Score One for the Bankroll-Challenged Guys

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a blogger at the final table of the Poker News Cup.

Jordan Lamberg, aka JL514, goes into today's final table second in chips with 1,619,000. Prior to this tournament, his poker experience was largely confined to multi-tabling $25 NLHE online. A student at the University of Miami studying abroad in Melbourne, Jordan wrote only a few weeks ago about having $200 to his name to last him to the end of the semester. Now he's guaranteed at least $23,880 for his tournament finish. And if he wins? Well, what college loans?

Lamberg acquired the majority of that big stack by making a sick, sick call. Here's what I wrote about the hand on Poker News:

With the board reading {10-Clubs}{6-Spades}{3-Clubs}{5-Hearts} on the turn, Con Angelakis moved all in for over 500,000 and Jordan Lamberg made the call. Lamberg turned up {5-Clubs}{8-Clubs} for a pair and a flush draw while Angelakis showed {K-Spades}{J-Spades} for king high. The river was the {7-Diamonds} and Angelakis was eliminated, while Lamberg's stack shot up to 1,800,000. He's our new chip leader.

Jordan thought for a long time on that hand, and his bullshit detector must have been in overdrive to make that call.

The final table kicks off at 4 p.m. local time (GMT+9). That's 10 p.m. Sunday night on the west coast and 1 a.m. Monday morning on the east coast. Pauly and I will be doing hand-for hand coverage live on Poker News. Tune in and cheer on one of our own!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Degenerate Things My Boyfriend Has Done This Week

Including, but not limited to:

- Sniffed a marker to stay awake.

- Bet on a team in the "Allsvenskan"Swedish Hockey League. Won that.

-Bet on Chilean Soccer. Lost that.

-Bet on South African dog races. Lost that too.

-Tried to tell me dog racing bad beat stories.

-Bet on Aussie Basketball and woke up in the middle of the night to sweat the results

-Urinated on the bathroom floor of our hotel room because he was too jacked up on sleeping pills to find the toilet

- Was told to shave by the Crown Casino brass

- Flipped a coin for $1,500. Won that and tilted Gaz.

-Flipped another coin for $2,000. Won that one too.

-Had beers bought for him by a fan called "Aussie Smurf"

-Was recognized by another fan at the Melbourne branch of the Spearmint Rhino...during the day shift.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

One Week Down Under

Wednesday did not start well. I woke up a couple of hours before Pauly and decided to play a little online poker. 45 minutes later, I was stuck $300 after taking a stupid shot at what I thought was a soft $10-20 LHE game. Dumb dumb dumb me. Seething with tilt, I walked into the bathroom only to step into a puddle of Pauly's cold urine. Evidently, he had taken a couple of sleeping pills the night before and missed the bowl when he took a piss in the middle of the night. Lovely.

But let's not dwell on the bad, or in this case, really fucking gross stuff.

It's been a whirlwind of a week here at the Crown Casino. I covered all five preliminary event final tables at the Poker News Cup, including a marathon nine-hour H.O.R.S.E. affair last night that saw a guy called Billy the Croc take down the title. Believe it or not, it was the first H.O.R.S.E. tournament ever held in Australia. My friend Slippers, who worked with Pauly and I at the WSOP this summer dealt the final table, though I was about to stab him with my pen when he kept dealing suckouts to all the short-stacks. In one Omaha 8/B hand, Billy the Croc had flopped the wheel, holding 4-5 in his hand with A-2-3 on the board and Slippers managed to pull a running 4-5 out of the deck for a split (the short stack had a 2-3). Now that's talent.

My editor, John Caldwell took down Event #4, $550 NLHE with rebuys for a $30K score. That was a fun one to report on, as I knew his wife, Jen Leo would be sweating the coverage from home in Las Vegas. Jen won a Planet Hollywood Daily Tourney earlier in the week, so kudos to both the Caldwells.

Another friend of ours, Barry Carter (aka "DaveShoelace") finished 4th in the $230 PLO earlier in the week. We met Barry in London and covered the WSOP-Europe together. He already had plans to come to Australia for a friend's wedding, so he decided to add a side trip to Melbourne to play in a few PNC events. Barry told me he ate kangaroo while he was up in Byron Bay for the nuptuals. He described it as "succulent" and best eaten rare. I'm an adventurous eater, but dude... I'm not going there.

I also ran into "Aussie Sarah" Bilney in the poker room. Though she had done quite well at the '06 WSOP, she had to skip this year's Series since she was in the third trimester of her pregnancy. She had a beautiful little girl nine weeks ago and just got back to the tables this week. For having a baby only a couple of months ago, she looks damn good. Sarah saw my Nobu pics from a few days ago and it was enough to convince her and her husband to dine there. I told her not to miss out on the Waygu steaks. I'm salivating just thinking about them.

Speaking of food, Pauly and I had the privilege of enjoying a home-cooked dinner at the home of Jules and her fiance Graham. They have an adorable cottage in the Melbourne suburb of Bentleigh and just got the cutest Dachsund puppy called Moe (pronounced "Mo-ey"). Jules made lemon-herb chicken, scalloped potatoes and a green bean, onion, and bacon relish. Soooo delicious. We washed that down with 4-5 bottles of Shiraz. It was so fantastic to spend time with those two. I could have stayed and chatted all night, but we had to work in the morning. We even got a dial-a-shot from Kat. Thanks again to Jules and Graham for the excellent conversation and for making us feel right at home.

I got to play a little live poker a couple of days ago. Though Jules had told me that the $2-$3 NL was as soft as a newborn's ass, there was a list 20 deep and I only had a couple of hours to spare. Instead I sat in a $5-$10 LHE game and finished up about $175. The quality of play felt like the good old days of Party Poker. Lots of calling and very little raising. After showing down A-K twice in the first hour, I had all the benefits of a tight image and was able to start betting out with second pair and draws and induce folds from my opponents. Just the way I like it.

In other Australia-related events, check this shit out. As most of you know, AlCantHang tirelessly organized the Battle of the Bloggers 2 Tournament Series on Full Tilt. There are some sick, sick prizes at stake, including a "Tournament of Champions" freeroll for the 27 winners of the individual tournaments. At stake? An $18,000 Aussie Millions prize package. Now here's what really depresses me. Two more TOC seats are going to whomever can write the best post about the Aussie Millions. Here are the details, courtesy of Mr. CantHang:

Write Your Way to Australia

Because the only thing bloggers enjoy as much as playing poker is writing about poker, we’re offering two free seats at the Tournament of Champions for the two bloggers who write the best posts about Aussie Millions.

Look into the future – how did the Battle of the Bloggers end? What happened at the Aussie Millions Tournament? Who were the victors and who were the defeated? What happened away from the tables in Melbourne? Your job is to create a completely fictional blog post reporting “what happened” during the 2008 Aussie Millions Poker Championship. You are only limited by your imagination.

Show us why you’re the blogger who should join Team Full Tilt for the largest poker tournament in the Southern Hemisphere. We want to hear what you’ve got that makes you the best person to head Down Under. This is how you make it happen:

* Write the post
* Include the following 2 links in your post:
Aussie Millions
* Post the entry on your blog
* Send a link to your post and your Full Tilt Poker username to
* Sit back and plot how you’ll drop the hammer on the competition

I committed to covering the Aussie Millions for Poker News months ago, so alas, I can't use the seat. I don't have time to play the blonkaments, but fuck... the chance to write my way into a 29-player $18K freeroll? That's my kind of satellite. And we all know I scribble a helluva lot better than I play poker.

I'm buckled down covering the Poker News Cup Main Event through Monday, but after that, Pauly and I will take off on a couple of side trips out of Melbourne. We're planning to drive the Great Ocean Road as well as spend a day on Philip Island. After that, we fly up to Sydney for a 4-day stay before heading back to L.A.

Hopefully by that time, it will no longer be on fire.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Melbourne Aquarium Photos

We've barely been able to get out of the casino, but Pauly and I squeezed in a trip to the Melbourne Aquarium the other day. It's only a couple of blocks from the Crown just across the Yarra River. I must have snapped 150 photos while I was there. Here are a few of my favorites:

Mr. Stripes here was one of my favorites

The Chark!!!

He is hunnnngryyyy!!

Big fishy!

Little fishies!

Bubble Boy

Scary crab


Silver fishies

Brave divers feed the sharks

Tree frogs... so cute!

Trippy Jellies

Friday, October 19, 2007

Aussie Arrival

Almost there

"I'm sorry, there are no window or aisle seats available."

"Whaaaat?" Flashbacks of being completely unable to move on that Amsterdam-LAX flight last month instantly plagued me.

"I can only give you a middle seat."

"Look, I called the airline earlier to get a seat, but they said I'd have to do it at the airport, and here we are, 2 1/2 hours early to do just that."

"Well, the desk has been open since 1 PM..." It was just after 9.

Apparently, arriving at the Qantas desk 10 1/2 hours before one's scheduled departure is the only way to ensure an aisle seat for the 15 1/2 hour trek from Los Angeles to Melbourne. I was absolutely ready to cry. Or scream. Or throttle this woman.

"How much would it cost to upgrade her to business class?" Pauly asked as he dug into his pocket, ready to pull out his gangsta bankroll. My eyes went wide.

"You're looking at about $3,000-$4,000 between the ticket change costs and the cost of the upgrade" spat the airline wench. A grand gesture on the part of my beloved... but it wasn't exactly practical.

"Well, if I'm stuck in a middle seat, could I at least have the middle seat next to him?" I said, pointing to Pauly.

"No, it's not available. It's a completely full flight."

"I'll take the middle seat, she'll have the aisle" Pauly said to the airline wench.

"No, don't do that. Just leave it as it is" I told her with eyes blazing, calling upon all my powers of patience to not flip out in the middle of the airport.

"Take the aisle seat, Change" implored Pauly.

"You're six feet tall. I'm not. It would be a lot worse for you. And I know how bad those middle seats are and you're not going to be able to sleep at all. At least I can drug myself into a stupor."

I silently fumed all the way through the security line and through the hour plus we waited at the gate. This was not how I wanted my first trip to Australia to begin. Pauly, gentelman that he is, must have offered to switch seats with me another dozen times before we boarded the plane, but I declined every time.

Once on board, the spacial situation in the middle seat was just as bad as I expected. The old guy who had the window refused to put either of his two bulky carry-on bags in the overhead compartment, despite the flight attendant's and my urging to do so. Naturally, some of his crap ended up underneath the seat in front of me. He also brought this seat cover thing with him that looked more like an inflatable raft. He sat there blowing into the tubes for thirty minutes before we took off.

At least there were no screaming babies or old women who smelled bad. I popped two Xanax and was out cold before the plane left the ground. I woke up near Hawaii and popped two more, knocking me out for another 6-7 hours. The only way I was going to survive this flight was if I was completely unconscious.

I finally woke up somewhere over the South Pacific and watched Ocean's 13 and a couple of episodes of The Office. I visited Pauly across the plane and discovered that he hadn't slept at all. See why I let him keep the aisle? Being awake and in the middle seat is just too much for anyone to bear.

"How do you manage to sleep so well on these flights?" asked the sixtyish woman in the aisle seat next to me.

"Pills. Lots of pills."

At Melbourne airport, we got flagged for a full search at customs. In the box on the immigration card where it asks where you'll be staying in Australia, we both put the Crown Casino. Apparently this raised some eyebrows. The security dude asked both of us how much cash we had on us.

"You wanna see?" said Pauly, semi-bluffing, as he reached into his jeans pocket.

"No, no. I don't need to see it. Just tell me how much."

Once he discovered that the two of us combined had less than the $10,000 per person limit on cash, he pulled out one of those swabbing devices.

"Do you know what this is?" he asked Pauly.

"Yeah, you're going to check for explosives and stuff."

"No. For drugs. Do you have any drugs in this bag?"


"Have you been in contact with drugs recently?"

Pauly thought about telling him about going to Amsterdam last month but wisely said "no." I held my breath as he swabbed Pauly’s bag. Thank God he didn’t go near mine.

Five minutes later we were in a cab on the way to the Crown. I was still super-groggy from the Xannies as we sped down the freeway into central Melbourne.

Our room at the Crown is pretty swank. It's big and roomy and has a view of the city and the Yarra River. The king bed is super-fluffy and the bathroom the size of some NYC apartments. Pauly checked out the TV channels and was stoked that Fox Sports carries the NFL games and the MLB playoffs.

The three-hour nap we intended to take turned into seven. We woke up as the sun was setting and got showered and dressed. Pauly took me on a tour of the whole Crown Complex. He knew his way around from his time at the Aussie Millions in January. This place is HUGE. The casino is as big as some Vegas properties and there are tons of shops and places to eat. The poker room is enormous and was decked out with signage for the Poker News Cup. There's a main room where mid-limit NLHE, LHE, and PLO is spread and a whole other room filled with about 15 of the PokerTek "Poker Pro" automated dealerless tables, that spread lower limits.

After grabbing a quick beer at the sportsbook bar, we met Schecky (our editor), Gaz, and Cory-Ann (Poker News marketing gurus) for dinner at Nobu. Gaz knew the chef and he prepared a special tasting menu for the five of us. I'd been to Nobu before, in L.A. and Vegas, but had never eaten like this.

For the first course, we had sashimi tacos, filled with lobster, crab, salmon, and whitefish topped with a spicy salsa, as well as Nobu's signature yellowtail carpaccio with ponzu and jalapeno slices. Heaven. Next, we were served a plate of oysters topped with a nest of crispy onion and caviar. I'm not even a big oyster fan but these were absolutely sublime. Two signature Nobu dishes arrived for the second course—crispy rock shrimp (Schecky's personal favorite) and the black miso-glazed cod. That cod is a desert island dish for me-- the fish was sweet, perfectly prepared, and melted in my mouth.

For the main course, we were each served a trio of beef. On the left was a dumpling with sesame sauce, in the middle were miso-glazed slices of kobe beef, and on the right was a skewer of kobe in a spicy chili sauce. As if that weren't enough, the chef prepared us a Waygu steak topped with onions and shiitakes. Waygu is like, beyond Kobe. It is the absolute pinnacle of quality, as our server explained.

"This is probably the highest-quality cut of beef in all of Australia."

I, for one believed him. I had never tasted anything like it. So much that the succulent lobster tail served alongside it was almost an afterthought. Almost.

As I said to Gaz as we all waddled out of Nobu at midnight, our bellies completely stuffed, "this was one of the great meals of my life."

Not a bad start to my 20 days down under. What middle seat?

Photos/food porn:

The view of Downtown Melbourne and the Yarra River from our room

Oysters with caviar

Crispy rock shrimp

Strawberry mojito

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Night Before

The last two weeks flew. I mean, seriously was I even here? Suddenly I'm 12 hours away from leaving for another lengthy international trip and I've barely shaken the sand out of my bag from Key West. I didn't get to see nearly everyone I wanted to see while I was home. I'm beginning to understand what Pauly means when he writes about how he's had to sacrifice friendships for life on the road. I didn't even get to see my sister this go-around since she's in the middle of shooting another reality show.

Another suitcase to pack. Another three weeks of outfits to coordinate. Didn't I just do this?

Sunday was filled with the typical errand-running and laundry-doing that usually happens the day before Pauly comes to L.A. I also played (badly) in the Poker Stars Blogger Freeroll, donking my chips off to Ryan about an hour in. I had two jacks on a ten-high, connected board and knew they were no good against his kings or aces (turned out to be kings), but went broke anyway since I had so much shit to do. When I got back home four hours later, I saw that Derek and BadBlood had both gone deep. Blood went out in 24th place and won a 160GB iPod while Derek went out 48th and got a duffle bag full of Stars swag. Congrats to both!

I was much less of a lucksack in the Pauly's Pub Pool this weekend than I was last week, but did manage to cash my first contest in Sundays with Dr. Pauly series on Fantasy Sports Live. Zeem won the contest I was in, which also included Otis, Drizz, Mattazuma and Smokkee. I took Tom Brady, Steve Smith, and LaDanian Tomlinson who all had stellar weeks, good enough to land me a third place finish.

* * * * *

So the other day, Showcase calls me up from some dog park telling me he'd just spoken with Frankie, otherwise known as The Girl I Went to College With Who Got My Old Job at the Big Man's for Twice my Old Salary. Guess what. She got fired. The company was "downsizing." She was planning to spend the next few weeks at a monastery in Northern California to "detoxify" from the experience. Her words, not mine. Oh, and she said she pretty much hated everyone there.

I can relate.

The industry, if it weren't going to hell already, is about to endure another massive shitstorm. To be honest, I haven't been following the negotiations between the studios and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) that closely. I still remember the almost-strike of 2001 and the panic/mass hysteria that accompanied it all-too-clearly. You couldn't get through a ten-minute conversation in Hollywood without someone asking "so, what do you think is going to happen with the strike?" Or speculating about whose jobs were on the line because of the strike. Or wondering which agencies would be hit the hardest by the strike. Say the word "strike" and I still have flashbacks.

Everything that happened in 2001 is happening right now. No one, and I mean no one is buying scripts. Every major agency is trimming their client lists while trying to stuff their bread and butter clients into whatever projects they can so they can get paid before shit shuts down. No one can get a D-job, and everyone who got a new D-job within the last year is shitting their pants because they'll be the first ones out the door if stuff gets hairy. Hollywood loves a crisis, and they love to panic even more.

In 2001, the issue was writers' residuals from DVD revenues. Now it's the internet and downloadable content, not to mention threats from the studios to end residuals altogether for writers. It's going to be a big, nasty fight. The WGA contract is up on Halloween (how apropos) and this time, their rhetoric is sharp and uncompromising. A work stoppage really could happen. Perhaps those fears had something to do with Frankie's dismissal. Or perhaps the Big Man had already used up his private jet allowance for the year and needed to free up some more room in the budget. Wouldn't be the first time someone got laid off there to free up jet dollars.

Thank God I don't have to worry about that shit anymore. Though a potential strike would certainly create a buying frenzy once it ended. Which I should prepare for.

* * * * *

So yeah. A flight to Australia tonight. And Pauly and I are reunited after two weeks back in our corners on opposite sides of the country. Happy Change.

After he got in Monday afternoon, we grabbed a quick bite with Showcase up at Swingers Diner on Beverly Blvd. We spent the remainder of the afternoon rolling blunts and catching him up on Season 3 of Weeds-- which I thought was kind of "eh" on my first viewing, but was a lot funnier the second time around. I loved it when U-Turn bought a fleet of Priuses for his crew. "They're real quiet. Good for sneaking up on muthafuckas."

Tuesday morning I took Pauly for his favorite L.A. breakfast at John O'Groats. I had my usual, the Huevos O'Groats while he went for French Toast and bacon. After writing for a couple of hours, we went over to the Grove and caught a matinee of Into the Wild. Both of us had read the book. I really enjoyed the filmmaking and the performances, but it could have used a 20-25 minute haircut in running time. Hal Holbrook and William Hurt are such fucking great actors. And Emile Hirsch, whom you might remember as the guy who falls for porn starlet Elisha Cuthbert in The Girl Next Door proves himself as an actor with a capital A in this film.

Since our illegal Mexican housekeepers have broken all but one of my wine glasses over the last several months, I asked if we could stop by Crate & Barrel after the movie let out to pick up a few new ones. Pauly said he would wait outside while I went in and got them because if he went with me, a giant beer can would fall on his head. "That, and if you go in alone, you'll find your shit and get out faster."

Boooooo. He went in anyway. No beer cans fell from the sky. And we were in and out in less than 10 minutes. So there.

Being it was our last night in the States, I cooked dinner for us. Cajun-rubbed Filet Mignon served on top of a Shiitake Mushroom Confit, topped with Pepper Bacon, Onion, and Blue Cheese. I had green beans on my plate, but since they offend Pauly so, his was veggie-free. We washed it down with a bottle of Killkanoon Killerman's Run 2004 Shiraz, made just outside of Johnnny Mushrooms' hometown of Adelaide, South Australia.

The photo evidence, and some breakfast food porn:

My Filet

Pauly's Filet

Bacon from John O'Groats

Huevos O'Groats

Catch you all from Oz...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Shades of Pink

I was lucky enough to be home this week when my friend Courtney was in town for a few days. Courtney, Showcase and I lived on the same floor in our freshman year dorm and were all in the theatre program together. After spending 4 years working on cruise ships and visiting over 60 countries, Courtney came back to land, moved back to Illinois, got married, and started writing for an ABC soap opera. And then, just as she turned 29, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Yeah, at 29. What the fuck?

After going through treatment including a lumpectomy, chemo, and radiation Courtney is, thank God, cancer-free today-- though she still takes a lot of pills and jokingly refers to herself as a "walking pharmacy." I hadn't seen her since she got sick. I think the last time she was in L.A. we went to Dublin's and did some serious drinking. I had, however been following her life and experiences during treatment on her blog, Biography of Breast Cancer and she'd been reading about the derailment of my Hollywood career and subsequent immersion in poker right here.

Courtney was the same old Courtney. Loud, vivacious, opinionated, quick-witted, and full of life. Her hair was shorter and curlier as a result of falling out and growing back in corkscrews post-chemo but as blonde as I ever remembered it. Showcase and I picked her up at her hotel and we went out for Mexican food. As we drove down the 405, it was as if the years hadn't passed at all. Despite not having seen each other for ages, the three of us picked up right where we left off.

When we walked into the restaurant, Courtney cracked up when she noticed the "Fiesta for the Cure" coasters on the table. They were emblazoned with pink ribbons done in the pattern of a Mexican blanket. It's Breast Cancer Awareness month and those pink ribbons are everywhere.

"Oh my God. Fiesta for the Cure. That's almost as bad as like, those pink Kitchen Aid mixers for the Cure" she laughed.

Courtney got the 18 ounce strawberry margartita. I'm not sure if it, too was for the Cure, but it was pink and looked tasty.

Courtney's Margarita

I stuck to Diet Coke since I was driving, but did get some tasty chicken tacos that came with little chiles on top.

Chicken Tacos with Chiles

Courtney admitted that she loved the pictures of food on this here blog. I told her that it doesn't hold a candle to Pauly's Food Gallery.

Seeing someone from my past, someone I spent a lot of time with when I was first breaking into Hollywood, reminded me of just how into the whole "scene" I was back then. All those nights I spent in trendy bars and pricey sushi restaurants all in the name of schmoozing and networking had faded to the back of my memory.

"You were 22 and hot shit" Courtney reminded me. "You loved your job and everyone knew it" she said as I felt flashbacks of driving to work up Laurel Canyon, hung-the-fuck-over, after one of her legendary parties.

My how things have changed.

Courtney was in L.A. performing with Shades of Pink, a mass choir made up of breast cancer survivors that will be featured on an ABC special called "Frosted Pink." It features figure skaters Kristi Yamaguchi, Sasha Cohen, Kurt Browning, Oksana Baiul, and a number of musical acts including Joss Stone, Heart, and Rascal Flatts. She wrote brilliantly and hilariously about her experience joining the choir (made up almost entirely of Jesus-loving black women) in her post Can I Get an Amen?

I miss you, Courntney. Stay healthy. And if you ever need to unload some of the more entertaining, recreational drugs in your walking pharmacy, well, you know who to call.

T-minus 24 hours until the Doc and I board a plane for Melbourne...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Beat the Doc: Sundays With Dr. Pauly

Back in 2005 when it was called "Saturdays with Dr. Pauly," yours truly ended up as the series' overall "Gigli" mainly due to being less than half-conscious during the early morning weekend tournament start times for us West Coasters (I consider 10 AM early and so should you). For my (non) efforts I received a copy of "Poker for Dummies."

Well, I'm not going to let that same fate befall me this time.

Saturdays with Dr. Pauly is BACK. Only this time it's on Sundays. And it involves Fantasy Football, not poker. And as you all now know, I'm a much bigger lucksack when it comes to handicapping players and teams I know little or nothing about than having my hands hold up through the turn and river.

Here's how to enter:

1. The first step to playing in the series is to sign up for a Fantasy Sports Live account. It's so easy even a blonde can do it. Click here to create an account and use bonus code PAULY to get some additional coin upon sign-up. It took me all of five minutes and I funded my account using my American Express card. That's right. American Fucking Express. FSL is 100% legal in the U.S. of A and is free from all those annoying UIGEA restrictions. There will be no trips necessary to bodegas in sketchy neighborhoods to find pre-paid credit cards.

2. Each week's contest costs $10. There will be 10 of them, running from Week 6 to Week 15 of the current NFL season. The top three finishers out of the 10 players in each contest win money ($45, $27, $18).

3. Sign up for any contest that says "Sundays with Dr. Pauly." You get to pick a fantasy team consisting of 1 QB, 3 WRs, 2 RBs, 1 TE, 1 K, and 1 D using a salary cap format. I'm not sure what all those abbreviations mean, but it really shouldn't affect my performance.

4. Even if my beloved is not in your specific contest, you'll still be competing against him and he only gets one entry per week so he can't cheat ;) Everyone is evaluated together on a points system based on their weekly finishes.

5. The top three finishers get prizes. The fourth place finisher gets a booby prize (that unfortunately does not involve actual boobies):

Overall Prizes for Sundays with Dr. Pauly:
1st Place - $100 cash and $50 added to your FSL account
2nd Place - Any football themed DVD of your choice (e.g. Rudy, Any Given Sunday, Brian's Song, Varsity Blues, Friday Night Lights)
3rd Place - a copy of Blind Side by Michael Lewis
4th Place - a phone call from Daddy

Bonus: If you get more points than Pauly in three consecutive weeks, you win an entry into a season ending freeroll with $100 added to the overall prize pool.

Weekly updates will be posted on the Tao of Poker as well as at Blinders' blog.

See you degenerates on Sunday. I'm now going to look up what all those abbreviations mean. And what a "salary cap" is.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Luckdonkery of both the Sports and Poker Varieties

Oh what's that? That's the sound of a clueless blonde going 12-2 in NFL picks this weekend. I once again used my elaborate system of suppositions like "Oh, they can't lose FOUR in a row" (New Orleans-- well I guess they can) and "Rivers has to get his shit together sometime so why not this week?" (San Diego, who routed Denver). My lucksacking this weekend vaulted me up to a four-way tie for 4th place in the Pauly's Pub Pool with three guys who actually know what they're doing when it comes to making picks (Daddy, Storms, and Austin Matt). That's right beetches. Don't forget who won the NCAA one with absolutely zero knowledge of college hoops...

I played some poker over the last few days while watching all those NFL games I know nothing about (and getting to see USC go down to Stanford... seriously, is there anything sweeter?) and watching the Yankees-Indians playoff series. Mainly I've been two and three tabling the $24 turbo SNGs on Full Tilt and seem to be hovering at an ROI between 15 and 20% which is fine by me. I also let Showcase play a couple of $5.50 SNGs on my account. In the first one he played limit hold'em and won it! Derek and Pauly were on the rail, perplexed at why I was playing like such a donkey... and in a limit SNG. Showcase revealed himself though, and proclaimed to his table "THIS POKER THING IS SO EASY" as he took it down. The next night he wanted to try a no-limit one. And he finished 3rd! Go Showcase!

I won a seat to the Fifty-Fifty tournament on Full Tilt on Monday night through a $3.30 rebuy satellite where I was in for $15. Bayne was two to my left during the rebuy period and saw my aces get cracked twice. I'd been wanting to try the Fifty-Fifty for a while now, but it's kind of an oddly timed tournament for those of us on West Coast time-- starting at 6:30 PM, right about when I want to be eating dinner. But that's what delivery Chinese food is for. The Yankees were down 6-1 as my table popped up onto the screen. 957 players signed up, creating a slight overlay.

I ended up sitting with Scott Fischman ("emptyseat88") two to my left for the duration of the tournament. This kid is one serious lucksack. There were at least three instances where he committed himself on the turn with nothing more than a flush draw, got called by a better hand and hit every one, giving him a huge stack. He was also playing 5 tournaments at once, including the $1K Monday, so maybe he just didn't give a shit about what he did a $55 one. Gambooool it up, I suppose.

I ran into Fischman's luckdonkery head-on in the final hand I played. With 3,700 chips in the 120-240/25 level I made it 720 to go from third position with A-A. I had an extremely solid image, having only showed down two hands in two hours. He re-raised to 2,200 with something like 31,000 behind (he was the chip leader or close to it) and when the action was folded back to me I was more than happy to move in. He called immediately and showed 4-4... but a T-8-4 rainbow flop busted me out in 214th place with 153 places paying. Had I won the hand, I would have had an above-average stack going into bubble time. Boooooooooooo. Totally sucks.

And then the Yankees lost. Double boooooo.

I have six days left before Pauly hits L.A. and eight days until we head Down Under. Disappoinintly, the New Zealand leg of our journey did not work out (the tournament itself never materialized), so we'll be on mainland Australia for the duration of the 20 days we'll be down there. Our first stop is Melbourne for the Poker News Cup. After the tournament, we'll day-trip around Melbourne for a few days before flying up to Sydney to finish off the journey.

Hopefully, by the end of this afternoon, I'll have a bottle of Xanax to make those 15-hour flights a liiiiittle easier.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Seven Minutes with Olga

"Need a taxi?" said the bearded man with the leathery skin. He wore shorts and rubber sandals and looked like he spent his days out on a fishing boat rather than inside a cab.

It had been less than 2 minutes since I'd walked down the stairs from the puddle-jumper to the tarmac at Key West International Airport, the soggy humidity filling my parched lungs after nearly 6 hours of trans-continental travel at 30,000 feet. Red lettering welcoming me to the "Conch Republic" was perched above the doorway to the tiny terminal, and after crossing a fifteen-foot wide swath of gray carpeting inside, I was back out the door into the sticky heat, looking for a taxi to take me to Duval Street. I don't know if it was the way the cabbie approached me-- emerging from a shadowy corner where he'd been leaning against the wall smoking a cigarette rather than pulling up in a yellow-hued sedan and efficiently hauling my luggage into the trunk-- but it struck a sketchy note. As I followed him to his vehicle (which looked more like a dog-catcher's van) I thought there was a significant chance that I was headed for a scene straight out of The Bone Collector.

I gave the cabbie the address of our hotel and flipped open my phone to call Pauly. There was a lot of bar noise in the background and from the sharp volume and lackadaisical timbre of his voice, I easily deduced that he was in a rowdy drinking establishment and had been there, or a place like it, for some time. He said he'd meet me in 10 minutes in front of the hotel.

When I hung up, we were driving along a poorly-lit road next to a military base. Was this where he was taking me? Could I jump out of the cab and make a run for it if necessary?

"Man, I sure was glad that flight of yours was on time. It's almost always late and it's the last one of the day" he said. As he approached a stop sign, he fiddled with a laptop computer that was set up on the dashboard (telling his superiors that he had "the package?")

"This your first time in Key West?"


"Where'd you fly in from?"

"California" (best to be as vague as possible with potential serial-killer cabbies).

"Y'all have that Nancy Pelosi out there, right?" (oh, God he's going political)


"Did she ever get her plane?"


"Her plane. The big one to fly her home on weekends."

"Oh... I don't know. I don't think so."

"Pretty stupid thing to ask for."

It was about then that I noticed the sleeping child laying across the front seat. She couldn't have been more than 5. She had a Disney-themed coloring book tucked underneath her arm as she slept. Crayons were scattered across the floor. I guess I wasn't in danger after all.

As promised, Pauly met me in front of the Southern Cross Hotel. I stowed my backpack in the room and we headed across the street to Wendy's so I could get a quick bite to eat. I always order the same thing at Wendy's-- the Spicy Chicken Sandwich.

The man in front of us in line was so fucked up he could hardly stand. He had the same leathery skin as the cabbie did, was barefoot, and had his shirt halfway open.

"I'm soooo wasted!" he said to Pauly as we tried not to stare.

Once he got up to the register, he slumped onto the counter and looked as if he might vomit all over the young Jamacian cashier as he slurred his order.

Welcome to Thursday night in Key West.

After wolfing down the Spicy Chicken Sandwich and washing it down with Diet Coke, Pauly and I walked over to Irish Kevin's, one of Al Can't Hang's favorite Duval Street watering holes and joined up with the gang. Most had been drinking all day. I met Al's Philly crew-- Landow, Lewey, Big Mike, and JDub-- whom I had read so much about over the years. Gracie and Sweet Sweet Pablo were there. So were Derek, BG, Bacon Bikini Mary and StB. JDub bought me a White Russian. So I drank that. Then Derek bought me a double Soco. So I drank that. Then I bought myself a Stella. And I drank that too. Add a quick trip down the block with Gracie, Pablo, and Derek to smoke a bowl and I was pretty shitty by the time we left Irish Kevin's for the strip club.

I'd been hearing about these two strip clubs ever since Pauly had landed on the island five days earlier. There was "The Classy Joint" which was larger, semi-well maintained, and had decent looking dancers. Then there was "The Dive" which was described to me as "where strippers go to die in Key West." We were going to the Classy Joint, thank God.

Though there were a couple of lap dance virgins on our outing that night, I was not one of them. I vividly remember my first. It was at The Body Shop on Sunset Blvd. during my first or second year in Hollywood. Showcase and I took our friend Seth out for birthday drinks at the Standard Hotel and later adjourned to the strip club for a few dances. Showcase and I each bought Seth a dance and he said I wasn't leaving until I got one myself. I tried waving him off with a laugh, but five minutes later, a curvaceous, raven-haired stripper came up to me and pulled me into the back room where the private dance booths were set up.

"This is from Seth" she cooed into my ear as she ground her crotch into my thigh. Hey, this isn't so bad.

I was hooked. Lap dances were fun. I'd get several more in the years that followed-- from one at Cheetah's where a coked-up blonde poured a shot into my mouth and proceeded to stir it with her tongue, to Showcase's 25th birthday party at Crazy Horse Too when I saw him get a 45 minute lap dance from a six-foot tall black woman with the biggest tits I've ever seen, to that fateful night at Scores when Pauly, Grubby, Benny Hiroshima and I sat in a horseshoe formation, all with breasts both fake and real stuffed into our faces at one point or another, all four of us departing with our nipples burning after being twisted into unnatural formations by these ladies of the pole.

Compared to Vegas strip joints, the Classy Joint was small and really not that classy, which made me wonder just how sketchy "The Dive" was if this was classy. Pauly instantly got a waitress to take care of everyone and we took over three tables in the back corner. Al and Friends were already instant celebrities in these parts and we were treated very well. Many double Socos were consumed and at Midnight, AlCantHang turned 40 amidst clinking glasses and a dozen of his friends.

Al had brought a $50 brick of singles with him and by the end of the night all of them ended up in the garters of the panty-less dancers that took the stage. Yes, panty-less. These chicks went the Full Monty. Pablo, StB, Pauly and I rotated in and out of two seats next to the stage. During my turn, I put a couple of the singles in my cleavage and the girls skillfully removed them by mouth.

After another Double Soco, I was approached by a strikingly tall Russian girl. Her name was Olga and she was 6'4 in her lucite heels. She couldn't have been more than 20 or 21 and had ice-blue eyes, long chestnut hair and a surprisingly innocent face, like she could be the girl who sells you a croissant and a coffee in the morning at some random European cafe.

"Come with me. I give you two dance from him." She pointed at Pauly, who waved at me with a goofy drunken grin before taking my hand and leading me into the private dance room.

The private room was long, narrow, and mirrored, with a black leather banquette lining the walls on all sides. Six or seven girls were in there, some bottomless, grinding atop sunburnt tourists in t-shirts and cargo shorts. Olga led me all the way to the back and sat me down. She took her top off and grabbed my hands, placing them on her very soft, very real breasts.

"34B..." I thought as she started grinding away.

Midway through my second dance, AlCantHang entered the room with a dark-haired stripper. As Olga gnawed on my nipples through my padded satin Victoria's Secret bra, Al and I gave each other "the nod." That strip-club nod that's like "hey, here we are, being all debauched with dirty dirty paid-for girls at are going to do naughty naughty things to us and well, we're doing it in the same room, and that's a little weird, but we're just going to roll with it, OK?"

After my seven or so minutes with Olga, I emerged from the back room with a cat-who-ate-the-canary grin. I could have used a cigarette. Or maybe a shower.

"Oh my God, look at your hair!" laughed Pablo.

I racked focus toward the mirror behind our table and sure enough, it was all over the place. Sticking up, to the side, tangled and frizzy from where Olga had repeatedly run her hands through it.

"So, did you like your dance?" said Pauly, grinning ear to ear as he smoothed out my hair.

"I did. She was very dirty."

"And tall!"

"Dude, I barely came up to her tits."

"Do you want another one?"

"No, I think that's all I can take for one night."

Maybe an hour later we stumbled back to the hotel and passed out. Seven hours later I woke up tasting stale liquor in my mouth as a rooster screamed from the tree outside our window.

And I smelled like stripper.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Deal Me In

Texas Holdem Poker
I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

This Online Poker Tournament is a No Limit Texas Hold'em event exclusive to Bloggers.

Registration code: 179321

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Change Makes Online Final Table, Is as Shocked About it as You Are

I have an opus written about some misadventures in Key West, but reporting that I actually won at poker is so time-sensitive.

7th in the Daily Double-A

Yeah, it's vain. I know. But I played tournament poker like I haven't in months. Even so, while the payday is nice and the confidence boost is needed, it's still not first. But 7th of 1,466... I'll take it.

I actually played both Daily Doubles tonight since the jackpot is getting huge ($35,000 today) and finished about 100 off the money in DD-B after getting all in pre-flop with A-K vs. A-Q. Q on the flop ended my chance at the "double cash" bonus, but I kept on truckin' and never gave up in the other. It was a roller-coaster ride against pushdonkeys, but I just stuck to solid moves and perhaps a more conservative style than how I'd play against trickier opponents. But these guys were strictly Level 1 for the most part. I ultimately met my demise when A-K suited lost to pocket jacks twice in a row on pre-flop all in re-raises.

Also,there was a player in there called "Matty Bacon." Did someone get a screen name change?

For Key West photos, head to my Flickr page.