Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tiffany Michelle Officially Joins Team UB

I perked up a little when I read Ryan's Twitter about spotting a woman whom he thought was Tiffany Michelle wearing a PokerStars logo at the first event of the Legends of Poker tournament series at the Bicycle Casino. He "wasn't 100%" though, and now we know why.

Tiffany Michelle has now officially signed with Ultimate Bet as a member of its "Star Players Team." She joins Cliff "JohnnyBax" Josephy and James "POKERPRO33" Campbell on UB's roster of recent signees, whom the company hopes will aid in rehabilitating its tarnished image in the online poker community.

For obvious reasons, I think this is a potentially catastrophic career decision.

Additional background on the Tiffany Michelle saga: Mo'Money, Mo' Problems: The Tiffany Michelle Story

The full text of the press release appears below:

UltimateBet's Star Players Team Turns to Hollywood for Newest Recruit

Miami, FL (PRWeb) July 29, 2008 -
UltimateBet is adding some Hollywood star power to its already impressive lineup of poker pros. The online poker room today announced the addition of actress-turned-poker player Tiffany Michelle to its Star Players Team.

"From Hollywood to Vegas, Tiffany Michelle is a rising star in so many extraordinary ways," stated Annie Duke, UltimateBet's Cardroom Consultant. "We're thrilled to be able to bring such a talented force on board."

This 24-year-old actress and singer/songwriter has quickly become one of poker's most recognizable female pros - and it's no wonder why. The cameras were rolling at this year's World Series of Poker when Tiffany Michelle, the last female player left standing in the Main Event, outperformed her way to an impressive 17th place finish, beating the largest field to date by a woman. The Hollywood actress walked away with $334,534 in cash and was sporting UltimateBet gear as part of the online poker site's much-talked-about UB Army program. Tiffany has worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, appearing in a variety of popular films and several celebrated American television series including ER and Nip/Tuck. Tiffany turned to the game of poker to supplement her acting income between film and television projects and began playing poker tournaments online at UltimateBet to hone her game, quickly discovering additional success at land-based tournaments and in cash games. In virtually no time at all, Tiffany went from gaining roles on the audition circuit to gaining respect at the poker tables.

Tiffany Michelle joins two of poker's most revered online players-- Cliff "JohnnyBax" Josephy and James "POKERPRO33" Campbell--on UltimateBet's roster of high caliber players. She can be found playing online poker at UltimateBet under the name Tiffany M and will be featured in a variety of future promotions on the site. Online poker players can employ UltimateBet's free UltimateBuddy software to discover where Tiffany M is seated and instantly join her at the tables.

Campbell can be found playing online poker at UltimateBet under the name POKERPRO33 and will be featured in a variety of future promotions on the site. Online poker players can employ UltimateBet's free UltimateBuddy software to discover where POKERPRO33 is seated and instantly join him at the tables.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Little Earthquakes

The way the windows shook, I thought the #7 bus had roared past too quickly. The way they kept shaking, I knew it was an earthquake.

There hadn't been a decent shaker in quite a while in these parts. It seemed they happened much more frequently during my childhood. Those little four-pointers in the middle of the night or the early morning. The way the flimsy, sliding window next to my bed would vibrate with the tinny hum of metal-on glass. The way Mandy would sit straight up in her bed right when it started, her ocean-blue eyes wide like an animal's and how I would groan and mumble something about how it was so small it wasn't even worth getting up before rolling over and falling back asleep.

I was here for them all. The Whittier quake in 1987 (was sitting in the schoolyard, having just been dropped off for the morning), Northridge in 1994 (was asleep and mumbled something to my sister about it only being a baby one just before the ground erupted). Even the ones centered out in Lake Elsinore and Arrowhead. Through all of them, I was oddly calm. Even as our chimney sat in the middle of the street and shards of glass lined the downstairs hallways in the hours after Northridge, I was more worried about acing my Spanish final than the aftershocks that were hitting every few minutes. Eventually my father took away my books and gave me a broom.

"There's no way school's open tomorrow, let alone making you take tests" he growled as he pointed at an overturned china cabinet.

I was waiting for my Huevos O'Groats when those same fault lines that let loose back in '87 roared to life again. The front windows of the restaurant rattled, then the framed art and mirrors that lined the walls on either side of us. Every conversation halted. I picked my coffee cup off the table and took a sip.

"Is that an earthquake?" a woman squawked.

A little blonde boy, maybe seven or eight sat straight up in his wooden chair, his eyes as wide and blue as Mandy's that long-ago night.

"Don't worry, it's only a small one" I assured him, as the shaking subsided.

A group of tourists from Texas had just walked into the restaurant. Welcome to California. Aren't you glad you came?

"So that was your first earthquake, huh?" I said to Pauly. He nodded.

"Maybe a four-pointer, four and a half. All depends on the epicenter" I mumbled, taking another sip of coffee.

It needed sugar.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Drawing to Both Sides

At the dawn of the World Series of Poker, Kristy Gazes lived with us at Scheckytown for four days. She was supposed to stay the entire summer, but she ended up bailing after less than a week for new digs in a swanky condo on the Strip. I couldn't blame her for that, even if only for getting rid of that half-hour commute to the Rio. We instantly got along, though. Two native Angelenos with a penchant for poker and fashion? How could we not?

I learned a lot from watching Kristy this summer. She only played when she wanted to. If she felt tired or a little off, she wouldn't go to the Rio and muck her way through a tournament just because she felt obligated to. Her thriving second career as an options trader paid for that nice house in L.A. and her closet full of Jimmy Choos. Poker paid for some of it too, granted, but if she never picked up two cards again, it's not like it would all go away. She ate well. She worked out. She didn't give a shit what anyone thought about her. She had made the most money and the most consistent money from playing mixed cash games. A lot of Omaha 8 or better and Stud. She still wanted that bracelet badly, but quietly. And I got the feeling that if she did win it, or another major title, she'd kiss off poker forever and buy that ranch in Hawaii she always talked about, spending the rest of her life surfing and riding horses.

Kristy was always drawing to both sides of the pot, and it gave her a better life.

Maybe it was being around Kristy or maybe it was that post Lou Krieger made about online Omaha 8 cash games being poker's newest Lost City of Gold, but something compelled me to start playing some small limit O8 cash games on Full Tilt in the few minutes I would take at the end of each day at the Rio to unwind by the Scheckytown pool. Perhaps it was the late hour I was usually playing at (3 a.m. PDT or so), but it was impossible not to notice how fundamentally bad a lot of these players were. Silly mistakes even a below-average O8 player like myself knew to avoid. I'd also been covering a ton of mixed-games events, and when watching world class players go at it for 12 hours a day, maybe some of that rubs off. Over the course of the WSOP, I turned about $100 on Full Tilt into just over $500. And literally, every time I'd venture away from O8 to play a no-limit SNG, I'd end up cursing NLHE and all its reraising-from-the-blinds every-fuckin'-hand aggrodonks.

Since coming home, the only poker I've played (aside from busting out of Saturdays with Dr. Pauly on the second hand when my top set ran into Derek's flopped Broadway) has been O8 cash games. I went on a nice little heater and almost saw my Full Tilt balance reach four figures only to have the tides recede, leaving behind little of that newfound fortune. That's what I get for playing during those "Limit Happy Hours" Full Tilt throws several times a day and all the grinders show up to four-table it. But I did earn something like 2,000 Full Tilt Points. Only 74,000 more before I can get that flat-screen TV.

Perhaps it's effect of the gentler ebbs and flows of O8 on my fragile constitution rather than the choppy waters of NLHE tourneys. The point here, though is that I've taken Kristy's advice and feel perhaps more at peace with my relationship to poker than I have in quite a while.
Don't play when you don't want to. Don't play just to get unstuck, because you'll only get more stuck. Don't freak out if you lose a rack, because it's going to happen, just like winning a rack. Don't make winning or losing at this game your everything.

And always, always draw to both sides of the pot.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Man Bets Weed at Blackjack Table

Hat tip to Kid Dynamite for finding this gem. I fully expect this moron to be appearing on an upcoming episode of World's Stupidest Criminals.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tao of Poker 5th Birthday Tournament

My jaw dropped when Pauly told me about his plans for the Tao of Poker's Fifth Birthday Celebration. A $5 tournament on Poker Stars where the winner gets a FREE $5,000 seat at the Borgata Poker Open? WTF?

Then, I internally wept a little when I realized I couldn't go for the seat because I'm going to be at the WSOP-Europe in London when that tournament goes off. Booooooo for me but yayyyyy for all of you because my dead money will still be in there. This should be a fun one and you don't have to write a ghey essay in order to win!

Hope to see you all there, and go to the Tao of Poker for more details.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Colorado Photos

After 8 weeks away, I'm finally home, on the comfort of my own couch, with the comfort of my own bong in my hand. It's a massive work catch-up day after unplugging for four days in Colorado, so here are some pics to tide you all over:

Hippie Shrine

The Joker and Pauly

Sunset over the field

Jerry lookalike

Flying Monkeys!

Hippie Sand Art

Monday, July 21, 2008

Things That Happened

While I was in Colorado...

I discovered hippie bars exist.

There are 5 of them and they're all located in downtown Denver.

I wished L.A. had a hippie bar where one could smoke pot semi-openly on the patio like those ones.

I met the joker's cat Emilio Estevez.

Like the joker, he's a Sound Tribe Sector 9 fan.

I nearly passed out from the heat during Steve Winwood's set at the Mile High Music Festival.

I also got buzzed off of a single beer due to being over 5,000 feet in the air.

But I saw some awesome bands too, like The New Mastersounds and Grace Potter & the Nocturnals.

I sat on the joker's porch while watching the nighttime activities of his neighbors... a black motorcycle gang called the Suns of Darkness.

We took a day trip to Boulder and visited Johnny Walker.

We talked about how happy we all were to be out of Las Vegas.

Speaking of Las Vegas...

While I was in Las Vegas...

My net gambling losses totaled -$345.

I was a loser at Pai Gow, breakeven at poker and a winner at Blackjack of all things.

I turned 31 and my blog turned 3.

My father got stung in the leg by a stingray while bodysurfing on Venice Beach.

It got infected and he ended up spending 4 days in UCLA hospital.

I freaked out a little because of the whole Crocodile Hunter thing.

But he's OK now.

My boyfriend totaled his rental car.

He then visited a sketchy doctor to procure Vicodin after the accident.

He then proceeded to write a lot about donkey blood while faded on pharmies.

That shit was hilarious.

I spent the majority of my waking hours in the Rio reporting the WSOP.

I ate less bad food from the Poker Kitchen this year, but many more chocolate chip pancakes.

I missed the Tilted Kilt. Nothing could replace it this year.

I got to live-blog the final table of the $50K H.O.R.S.E. and the final table bubble of the Main Event.

That was intense and exhausting, but pretty damn cool at the same time.

Some fourth-rate hack ripped off my live reporting blogs for her own column multiple times because she was too lazy to put in the hours at the Rio.

She and her idiot friends subsequently banded together and emailed my editor about a fashion report I wrote criticizing Nancy Todd Tyner's (hideous) clothing and makeup choices.

He didn't really give a shit. And they won't ever get the joke.

She was eventually fired.

I swam in the Scheckytown pool four times.

I sat in the jacuzzi zero times.

I won about $400 playing $2-$4 Omaha 8 or better online while sitting in the backyard in the dark.

I hit a lot of draws.

I beat Guitar Hero on Easy.

I was about to beat Guitar Hero on Medium when it disappeared from Scheckytown to be auctioned off for charity.

I got Guitar Hero elbow at least twice.

I Googled it and it is an actual medical condition.

I got a gig covering the EPT-Barcelona and the WSOP-Europe.

I'm psyched for another European trip.

But there's still four more cities to go before I get there.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mo' Money, Mo' Problems: The Tiffany Michelle Story

Tiffany Michelle, playing on Day 7 of the 2008 WSOP Main Event

What was supposed to be the best day of Tiffany Michelle's life turned out to be one of the worst.

Returning to the Rio for Day 7 of the WSOP Main Event, all eyes were on Tiffany-- not just because she had gone to bed the night before third in chips in poker's premiere event, not because she was the only woman (and a young, attractive, and articulate one at that) remaining among the final 27 players, and not because she was poised to break a slew of records that day for women in poker.

No, everyone in the media was lurking around her table at the start of play on Day 7, myself included, to see what logo or logos she'd be wearing. As everyone's favorite internet doctor wrote the night before on the Tao of Poker while I slept off that day's 14-hour shift at the Rio, "Tiffany Michelle's breasts had become a battleground."

Would it be UB or Stars? Stars or UB? Who would cough up the most dough? Who would promise her the world in terms of sponsorship, tournament buy-ins, publicity, and free international travel? Or would Full Tilt or Bodog come up the middle with a last-minute offer that just blew everyone else's out of the water?

As we all know by now, Tiffany took her seat only minutes before the start of play wearing one Ultimate Bet logo on her right shoulder, another on the front of her hat, and a PokerNews patch on her left shoulder. And on any other day over the course of the last five years, this probably wouldn't have mattered at all.

The night before, as I sat freezing underneath an air conditioning vent in the Amazon Room, my hoodie zipped up to my neck and my teeth chattering, I read Nat Arem's explosive post, revealing that one of Ultimate Bet's confirmed superuser accounts was registered to a Las Vegas address belonging to Russ Hamilton-- the 1994 WSOP Main Event champion and a principal at UB. I had just heard Annie Duke's interview on Poker Road Radio the day before, where she basically ran over everyone's questions and played the apologist for UB... albeit in a very convincing manner. Annie is an intelligent woman and has a serious investment to protect in terms of the UB brand, along with her own reputation within the industry.

At this point, Tiffany had been wearing a UB logo for about two days along with the PokerNews logo she had worn since Day 1, which she was contracted to wear per her backing agreement.

Jeffrey Lisandro, one of Tiffany's backers, had been hovering around the Amazon Room all day on Day 6. The other, PokerNews owner Tony G., had already left Las Vegas several days prior. The UB scandal was blowing up, and so was Tiffany's chip count. Personally, I was concentrated on the task at hand-- reporting the tournament-- but couldn't help but notice all the little side conversations that were taking place in the empty back quadrant of the room, which, until only 48 hours prior, had been a sea of poker tables. PokerNews people and Tiffany's agent, Katie Lindsay. PokerNews people and other agents. And Lisandro himself, putting his arm around Lindsay and walking off with her to have a private discussion. The war over Tiffany Michelle was in full swing as she sat 100 yards away, propped up on her knees, playing in the biggest game of her life.

I spent 8 years in the Hollywood machine and dealt with a lot of agents in my time. They are some of the most ruthless, yet sickeningly hardworking people you will ever meet. The client's interest is your interest, and it is the only interest. Everyone else can go fuck themselves. Agents can piss people off and get away with it because they hold the keys to the castle by controlling the talent. Talent is the only real currency in Hollywood. Producers, financiers, studio executives, marketing divisions, publicists? Without the talent what do they have?

The genesis of Tiffany Michelle's poor handling of her sponsorship deals came with her choice of agent. Tiffany's agent is a young woman named Katie Lindsay, who recently set up a shop called Suited Connections. She is the "President and Director of Player Relations" as well as the agency's solo practitioner. According to the website, her clients include Bryan Devonshire, Alec "traheho" Torelli, Peter "number1pen" Neff and Adam "Roothlus" Levy. Katie has been around the poker world for a few years, primarily writing quote-laden player interviews for magazines like Poker Pro and websites like (the Tony G-owned) PokerWorks. Like Tiffany, she lives in Los Angeles and the two run in the same circle of friends. I do not know Katie personally, nor do I know exactly when exactly she began representing Tiffany.

The deeper Tiffany Michelle got in the Main Event, the more Katie Lindsay got in over her head. The more Katie Lindsay got in over her head, the more people tried to encroach on that agent-client relationship. To put it in Hollywood terms, let's say Tiff had just booked a series regular role on an NBC sitcom but was still represented by a one-man firm in the Valley. The minute that news gets out, bigger and better agents are going to target her. And then her decision becomes-- do I be loyal and stay with my friends/the people that supported me since day one? Or do I ditch them in favor of someone who really knows how to advance my career?

This was Tiffany Michelle's one shot. But it was also Katie Lindsay's shot. And a shot for "Hollywood" Dave Stann, her boyfriend of several years, who represents the UB brand on its "Ultimate Blackjack Tour"(founded and run by Russ Hamilton) Stann also recently appeared on the Fox Sports Net program "The Best Damn Poker Show" starring UB spokespeople Phil Hellmuth and Annie Duke.

It's no secret that Stann is close friends with Duke. Duke herself has written on her personal blog numerous times about socializing working out with, and doing master cleanses with Stann in Los Angeles.

Ultimate Bet. Annie Duke. Dave Stann. For the two of them, there is a brand, personal reputations, and untold sums of money to protect here. Tiffany Michelle allowed herself and her impending public visibility to be used by two people close to her to protect their business interests.

Which leads me to ask this question-- how major of a role did Annie Duke play in this whole saga? She was in communication with representatives from PokerNews according to The G himself on his personal blog (bold emphasis mine):
"I keep wondering how Katie, Tiff’s agent, would even consider doing this deal with Tiff and how Tiff would not think that her first responsibility for advice and planning should come from PokerNews. I had been working on putting a deal together for Tiff with PokerStars and they had just emailed me. I knew Tiff could become a huge star and I was going to allow her to do a deal that would protect PokerNews also for the main event. We had it all set with PokerStars and she was going to get millions out of it with at least $1M in buy-ins no matter where she finished in the main event. I know that with UB she did not even get a signed contract and I believe Tiff’s agent does not have any direct contacts with big sites and UB was her agent’s only choice. We asked Annie Duke to get Tiff to pull the gear and Annie agreed. And then Tiff came out with the UB logos all over her for the final devastating day of her main event. UB said that Tiff chose to wear it."
What on God's green Earth makes anyone turn down that kind of deal with PokerStars, a site that boasts a spotless reputation, in favor with any deal with Ultimate Bet on the very day one of its officers has been implicated in the largest cheating scandal ever to hit online poker AND after one of the primary parties facilitating that deal gives her permission to walk away from it? It absolutely boggles my mind.

But when friends, and even lovers are involved, this suddenly starts sounding like the plot of a bad chick lit. Should I be loyal to my friends (even if they're on a sinking ship)? Or sell out to the highest bidder?

No one has, or ever will get rich from poker tournament reporting. Tiffany Michelle and I could both tell you that. And if you're from somewhere like Los Angeles, where the cost of living is through the roof, at times it's barely enough to get by. Us media types work gig-to-gig and with all the exclusive media contract shenanigans that have happened over the last year, we've all lost work. I'm really lucky to be one of the few U.S.-based reporters out there that has been able to keep getting steady work, not to mention amazing travel opportunities. But we're all far from wealthy.

I've been mentally putting myself in Tiffany's shoes for the last 48 hours. I've tried to imagine it. Getting backed into the Main Event by my employer. Surprising everyone by making it to Day 2. And Day 3. And making the money. And amassing a huge stack on Days 4 and 5. People in the media hypothesizing about how making the final table would not only be great for women, but for the poker world as a whole. Reading about all of this, or if not reading it, being told. Hearing whispers. It was impossible not to sense it if you were in the Amazon Room that day.

And then, getting money thrown at you. The kind of money you've really never seen before.

I heard figures starting at anywhere from $10,000-$15,000 for Tiffany to wear the UB logos on Day 5. That's in line with a typical sponsorship deal with an online poker site. These deals also include escalating bonuses if one makes the ESPN featured table, the final table, or if they win. Bonuses for winning are $1 million or more. When you're in the money for about $50,000 or so, but are only getting a third of it due to your backing arrangement, there's not a ton left over. So the hat and shirt money really does matter. At that stage, it's going to double or even triple your take after taxes.

But, as fate would have it, the biggest bombshells about the Ultimate Bet cheating scandal dropped right as Tiffany Michelle was being miked up for the cameras on the featured table on Day 6 of the WSOP Main Event...all while wearing two Ultimate Bet logos. For anyone else, it might not have been as big of a deal. If an unknown player with her stack size wanted to dump UB and slap on Stars, it could be as simple as giving UB back their money and getting a new check from their new sponsor. But Tiffany was not an unknown player. After Mike Matusow busted in 30th place, Tiffany was arguably the player of most interest remaining in the field. She was a young, attractive, articulate, and camera-savvy woman among a field of relatively anonymous, 20 and 30-something men. Everyone was watching her now. The pressure was on.

Tiffany chose to stick with her friends. And by friends, I mean "Hollywood" Dave Stann, Katie Lindsay, and Annie Duke. This decision could literally cost her millions.

Only hours after she busted out in 17th place, PokerNews issued an official statement regarding Tiffany's appearance at the Main Event. I was at the ESPN Featured Table, covering the final 10 players when the statement hit the front page of PokerNews. It rattled me, but I had to forget about it and push through to finish the task at hand. Getting to the final table. The "November Nine" or whatever the hell you want to call it. I felt like the strong wording was a bit of a knee-jerk reaction on the part of the author or authors, and I couldn't believe it came out then, during the bell lap of the WSOP.

Tiffany went on PokerRoad Radio on July 15 to explain why she elected to stay with UB.
"Early on as I kind of started doing well, they were the first and only site that was interested in throwing something on me and I think a lot of people don't know the inner workings, all of the things that went on. It's easy to have sites jump out of the woodwork when cash symbols start popping up above my head, when I start making it deep... and I just have to say early on, way before patches were even issued they said 'You know what, yeah, we want to throw a patch on you and we want to start talking.' So I had to respect and honor that out of everybody else, they were the first ones that were there and they were so supportive all along. As you guys know, when things started getting deep... the business, weird pressure, just everything started coming out of the woodwork, they personally stepped up and were so behind me and handled so much drama for me and they were, I felt, like the only ones saying 'You know what, guys? Tiffany is in the middle of the World Series of Poker Main Event-- back off! She has really important stuff to do.' When all these other people are trying to get in for their own personal gain, they were ones that just said 'We'll take care of everything, play your game and do well, this is awesome for you and enjoy it.' And that meant the world to me. I know so much stuff has gone down. Let the past be the past. I understand people are going to be upset about stuff but on a personal level, I was humbled and could not believe what respect they showed me as a person and as a player to just say "We want to handle everything else for you so you personally can do your best in this event and that was huge for me."
When asked by Court Harrington if the current UB scandals influenced her decision to remain with the brand, Tiffany replied:
"Ultimately, what's happened has happened. The people that I have dealt with and how they have dealt with me-- I have so much respect. It's hard, because obviously everyone hears in the media what's going on, but you don't hear some of the shady stuff that goes on with the other poker sites. When players start doing well, and the bidding wars and how people treat you-- that's not in the media. I got to see that on a first-hand experience what went down behind the scenes and I had respect for how they treated me, so I can only go with my convictions with early on what happened. It would have been easy to jump ship, it would have been easy to get outbid, and go with a higher dollar figure, it would have been so easy. I honored my commitments and I felt like you know, regardless of what anyone else says, stuff happens, that's really in the past and I can only go for how I was treated and it meant the world to me."
Tiffany Michelle had the heartbreaking misfortune of getting- and taking- bad advice from people she cared about personally while she was playing on the biggest stage in poker. I say heartbreaking because I know Tiffany. She's a sweet girl, a really lovely person who has always been a bright spot in the poker media and I'd have loved to see nothing more than her becoming a huge star from this. However, the best path to her doing that would be to have dumped Katie Lindsay, called up Tony G, and taken that PokerStars deal. She could be playing the circuit for the next few months, seeing Europe for free via the EPT, and increasing her visibility right before the Main Event airs on ESPN.

Instead, who knows what will happen with regard to Ultimate Bet in the interim. And there she'll be, wearing their logo just as the cheating scandal hits 60 Minutes.

Disclaimer/Stipulation: I am not an officer of, but have worked for them as a freelance writer and tournament reporter for nearly two years. These opinions are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tiffany Michelle Going Deep in the WSOP Main Event

Tiffany Michelle and her 3.3 million in chips

My PokerNews colleague, the positively fabulous Tiffany Michelle is currently third in chips with 93 players remaining in the WSOP Main Event. Hailing from Los Angeles, CA just like your humble hostess, Tiff has spent the day under the lights at the Bluff Feature Table, just outside the ESPN main stage. With over 3.3 million in chips as we return from the Day 5 dinner break, she's one of only two women remaining in the tournament. Closely sweating Tiffany is the 2007 Main Event's longest-lasting woman, her good friend Maria Ho.

A little-known fact about Tiffany-- she's a certified massage therapist. Many times this summer, she's found me hunched over my laptop and stopped to work the knots out of my shoulders. When Pauly pulled a muscle in his arm, rendering it essentially useless while in the middle of reporting the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo, Tiff worked on it tirelessly, enabling him to at least function.

Here's wishing Tiffany continued good luck, and for updates on her progress, head over to PokerNews.

(Photo courtesy of PokerNews)

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Barometer

It's the first night in weeks when it's felt nice to sit outside. The outdoors has been an inferno only tolerated in minutes-long doses and the walk across the virtual skillet that the Rio parking lot becomes in the daylight hours has been, again, the worst part of each one of the string of identical days I've lived since last posting on this space.

Get up. Throw self in shower. Get dressed. Eat pancakes. Drive to the Rio. Work. Eat Dinner. Work. Drive home. Rip bong hits. Sleep. Repeat.

When I open the door to my car, the heat slaps me in the face like opening an oven door. It's too hot to get in immediately. When I touch the seatbelt to fasten it, my fingers sting against the scorching metal. The A/C must cool the wheel before I attempt to grip it. And in the five minutes it takes the car to cool down to a manageable level of air temperature, the shower I just took is rendered moot.

So sitting out here tonight, next to the pool with my bong and my laptop and the wind in my hair is nice. My time at Scheckytown has really made me miss living in a house after spending the last 13 years or so moving from shitty apartment to shitty apartment.

But God almighty, do I miss my shitty apartment.

I started to want to go home about three days ago. It was the fourth Day 1 of the Main Event. That's well over 48 hours spent in the Amazon Room in four days witnessing the same poker cliches over and over again. Bad plays. Huge crowds. Idiots celebrating their suckouts. All those thousand-yard stares on the faces of the early bustouts. How could I blow ten grand so quickly, and how am I going to tell people about it? Those same guys, five minutes later on their cell phones, trying to explain to the person on the other end how they got it in with the best of it and still lost. No new house. No early retirement. No quick fix. I'm sorry, honey.

A few nights ago, I was having a drink with Pauly and Iggy, who had just made Day 2 of the Main Event. Before arriving in Vegas, Iggy had written about all the drama he went through getting his buy-in wired to the Rio. Bottom line was, he wasn't going to get the cash off Poker Stars quickly enough, so he had to front the money himself. Iggy had the means to do that, so after mucking through the red tape, he was able to take care of it.

"That should be the barometer" I mused aloud. "If you are financially comfortable enough to be able to take out ten grand out of the bank and front it for the Main Event, even if you won your seat, you should be here. Everyone else should have kept the money."

That's what I think about when I hear these guys on cell phones in the hallway, as they get their wives and girlfriends on the phone and lead off with something like "Well, I had pocket aces..." They should have kept the money. I think about those women on the other end of the phone and imagine what is going through her mind.

"That $10,000 could have paid off our Visa bill. That $10,000 is five mortgage payments. That $10,000 could pay our kid's tuition."

Most of these guys shouldn't be here. But they are, and that's what makes the modern-day Main Event so damned lucrative. One shot, one roll, one double-down. One turn of a card. Everyone can dream. Until those chips are shipped across the table, and they're forced to emerge from the fog of the tournament and the haze that hangs over the Las Vegas Valley and wake up to their real lives. Oh my God. It's over. I'm no different. I'm no richer. There's a dent in my pocket and a hole in my soul. I feel like shit. What the fuck do I tell my wife? And where's the nearest bar?

Seven days of play have been completed in the Main Event, and yet we're only closing out Day 3. I also had no idea what day of the week it was until I just looked at the calendar on my laptop. And only hours ago, Iggy cashed in the Main Event, earning himself at least a $21,000 return on his $350 satellite investment. My heart bursts with pride at his achievement. Congratulations, my friend. Tight, solid, calculated, patient poker pays off.

Four more days. But at least everyone who sits back down tomorrow is guaranteed to walk out with some cash. And the race to the next bubble begins... the final table bubble. Easily the largest monetary bubble in poker history when it comes to fame and endorsements. The tenth-place guy isn't getting signed as a Full Tilt Pro. The tenth-place guy isn't going to be on David Letterman. The tenth-place guy isn't going to get a warm and fuzzy bio segment on ESPN. The tenth place guy is getting over $591,000 and an ache in his stomach that may never go away.

Thank you, readers for visiting Pot Committed. We're three years old this week and still smokin'.