That Time of Year

[Content Disclosure: Poker 0.0%; Meanderings 44%; Ponderings 37%; Prattlings 19%; Memories, Dreams and Reflections Jung%]

Other's words on the path over the last year, the last several years and all those years ago; even though it all was just a moment ago.

"Before you love, learn to walk through snow leaving no footprints."

Always choose the second best quote, it leaves you in much better company. For instance:

"Happiness isn't happiness without a violin playing goat."

A personal favorite for many years:

"An ass is but an ass, even though laden with gold."

And as a long overdue remembrance to one once loved and lost:

“As a bathtub lined with white porcelain, when the hot water gives out or goes tepid, so is the slow cooling of our chivalrous passion, my much praised but-not-altogether-satisfactory lady.”

European Union and United States Reach Trade Agreement to Continue Ban of Online Gaming

[Content Disclosure: 100% Poker, 14% Fascism, 9% Stupidity]

The hope of many US poker players was that the huge compensation over the WTO trade ruling would force the Federal government to back off on the UIGEA. Well quietly today the EU and the US have agreed on a trade deal that will allow the United States to continue to block European gaming sites from soliciting customers using US based computers.

The European Union has accepted a compensation package the U.S. has offered, in response to its withdrawal from World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements on gambling and betting services. "A bilateral agreement was signed in Geneva, which provides EU service suppliers with new trade opportunities in the U.S. postal and courier, research and development, storage and warehouse sectors," the Commission said. "The U.S. also made concessions in the testing and analysis services sector."

The WTO ruled in 2005 that the U.S. gambling ban -- which exempts certain domestic services, for online horse-racing -- effectively discriminates against foreign companies seeking to offer similar services in the U.S. market.

The European Union said it will also "continue to press for non discriminatory treatment in U.S. internet gambling legislation."

Meanwhile, a WTO decision on what sanctions the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda may impose on the U.S., over its refusal to allow U.S. citizens to gamble at foreign online casinos, has been delayed, Reuters reports.

Antigua has asked the WTO for permission to impose $3.44 billion in annual trade sanctions, while the U.S. says the country should be entitled to $500,000 in damages.

The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow

[Content Disclosure: Morose Material 3%; Travel Plans 4%; Current Visitations 8%; Moderate Poker References 12%; Life, The Universe and Everything .065%+/-]

There actually is a winter here in Las Vegas. We haven't seen 70 in over a week, this after 108 straight days this summer of 100+. The nights are almost too cold for the hottub but then I remember the tub on Sunset Road in the snow and I feel much better about dipping my toes and other parts into the warm liquid.

Amy is in town and we are working on several projects including, of course, our current book with Mike Matusow. We have met with our New York agent (doesn't NYA just sound good!) and we will be hanging out at Bellagio the next several days to pick up interviews with other players who play prominent roles in portions of Mike's story. We (that would be Amy and I) also have to formulate our "Big Push" plan to finish the text, as it appears our proposal will be seeing the light of several big publishing houses in early January.

So this little laptop and I are becoming even better friends.

I am going to write through holiday #1 and then make the trek north to Mt Shasta (actually Weed, California) for the turning of the calendar day. I haven't been to the Great North of California in several years and I miss the Sloth of Shasta. Back in the desert early in the year and back to the challenge of becoming an author on paper rather than just an editor of the ether.

San Francisco & Cyberspace

[Content Disclosure: my work 37%; my travels 22%; me 43%; poker 9%]

I have returned to the Nevada desert from a week+ in San Francisco with my friends. Now that I am back I can begin anticipating my trip to Mt. Shasta for New Year's Eve. In the meantime, there is much work to be done in Cyberspace and on "The Book".

Just as an update for those who really want poker content, I can be found in several and/or many iterations on:

Poker Blog, Online Poker-Beginner's Poker Blog, Chili Poker and even moderating a brand new All Poker Forum.

The book with Mike Matusow is now with our New York publishing agent and we should hear something before the end of some year.

On a personal note: I am now married and have three darling children. And yes I still have those acid flashbacks but I am feeling much better now.


[Content Disclosure: 12% Poker Related; 44% Holiday Wishes; 35% Travel; 23% Good News]

Happy Turkey Day to everyone who celebrates such and Happy Day to everyone else. I am in San Francisco this week and heading up to Matthew's in Sonoma for today's gathering. Tomorrow we will do it all over again in the City at Mira's. I am spending the full week here and heading back to 'Pokerland in the Desert' on Monday.

Amy and I have worked out the latest legal issues with our current project and expect to have good news or better to announce before the end of the year. In the meantime, work continues apace on the book project.

Hope all is well in your world, if not, consider a different world; possibilities abound past, present and future.

Antigua Insanity

[Content Disclosure: Poker 83%, Politics 72%, Insanity 12.4%, Fundamentalism 11%, Gross Stupidity 101%]

For those who are not poker fans: You really need to read this.
For those who are poker fanatics: Ditto!
For those who pay taxes to the US Treasury: You really gotta read this!!!

1. In October 2006, the US government pasted the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act.
2. The UIGEA is not yet being enforced because of the vagueness of the language in the bill.
3. By other means (arrests and intimidation) the US government has closed it's online gaming market to most foreign companies.
4. Antigua sued under provisions of the World Trade Organization and won repeatedly.
4a. Antigua is now attempting to collect on a $3.4 Billion judgment against the US.
5. Thirty-five countries -- including the 27 members of the EU -- have joined Antigua and Barbuda's complaint to the WTO. Current estimates are that these claims could conservatively amount to over $100 Billion in additional trade penalties.

Here it comes, get ready:

The United States government is negotiating away trade concessions and tariffs in the Hundreds of Billions of Dollars, in order to maintain the online gaming restrictions. The negotiations are underway and changing the law to allow regulated and taxed online gaming is NOT on the table.

And here you thought the right wing was only trying to control who you marry and what you read and how you educate your children. Nope! They also are going to have you paying more for foreign products and have US products be less competitive both at home and overseas, so they can stop the evil of internet poker. Oh, by the way, it is OK to use the internet to bet on horse racing and state lotteries; those gambling options were exempted from the legislation. They had higher paid lobbyists.

Random Blog Notes

[Content Disclosure: 12% poker, 19% life, 67% more promises]

I know this blog is read by an unusually mixed demographic. While my poker friends still make up the majority readership, they know my primary writing on poker has shifted to PokerBlog, OnlinePoker and ChiliPoker. The change in title of this blog this week signals a more integrated direction to my writing here. Yes, there will be some poker but the other aspects of a fuller life I have been hinting at here for several months are about to (re)emerge.

For my new and amateur blog readers--some cyber stats. that should enlighten most readers.
  • there are over 70 million weblogs
  • About 120,000 new blogs are created each day
  • 1.5 million blog posts per day
  • Japanese the #1 blogging language at 37%
  • English second at 33%
  • Chinese third at 8%
  • Italian fourth at 3%
  • Farsi a newcomer in the top 10 at 1%
  • English the most even in postings around-the-clock; Spanish is second
  • Japanese and Chinese have big spikes during normal work hours geographically

Poker In & Poker Out

[Content Disclosure: Poker 100%; online poker 50%; live poker 25%; dead poker 25%]

Doyle's Room has reopened its doors to the US poker playing public. At the same time, the Las Vegas Hilton has closed its poker room. Are either of these really signs of anything like a tread in poker?

As for Doyles's Room, it's very interesting that an online provider who had left the US market is coming back. If you remember when Doyle closed his room there was speculation about pressure from the US Justice Department and threats of arrest and jail time. But too many online rooms continue to make money from the US market and Texas Dolly and his management team just decided that the profits far outweighed any potential legal issues with the United States of Prohibition.

On the other hand, the closing of the Hilton poker room in Las Vegas sends a couple of messages:
-there are just too many rooms in Las Vegas for the player demand;
-off-the-strip rooms have too big a hurdle to lure players in;
-even in the poker boom, marketing efforts for poker are necessary;
-it ain't the whales or the poker rooms that make casinos profitable, it's the slot machines.

Will there be more poker rooms closing in Las Vegas--yes. We hear rumors every week about which one is going dark next. Particularly as properties go through major remodels (Tropicana, Luxor, Plaza...) sometimes it's easy to just disappear a room during a major renovation. Also there is just the matter of very unprofitable space (Tropicana, Plaza, Hooter's, Fitzgerald's, Silverton, Circus Circus); casinos do not like dead space anywhere and a poker room requires a fair amount of staffing.

On the other issue, will more online poker sites reenter the US market? Well the only one actually prevented from doing so would be Party Poker. Party is a public company and that makes its liability so high that they could not even consider thumbing their corporate nose at the US law. Now whether other sites will watch Doyle's Room or not..... that is an interesting question. But one thing is for sure, if you are out of the US market in 2007, you are giving up the biggest online poker profit market in the world.

Asian Poker Tour Hits Macau

[Content Disclosure: 100% Poker]

My sources tell me that the Asian Poker tour and PokerStars will shortly announce the first No Limit Hold'em tournament in China.

The last week of November will be the dates for the APT tournament in Macau.

One wonders how this will sit with the World Poker Tour who paid for five years of some kind of exclusive poker coverage in China.

Back in Vegas

[Content Disclosure: 62% Poker, 32% Life, 49% Las Vegas]

Yes, I am so happy to be back in Vegas that I am even willing to use the tacky "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign. After a week in the San Francisco Bay area (my true home) I am back to the desert and ready for a frantic week of work finishing the Matusow book proposal. All necessary humanoids will be in town this week and we should have a wrap by this time a week hence.

I am also looking perhaps a bit later to checking out some of the more bizarre incentives that Vegas poker rooms are using to bring in players. There is a real war developing here.

The facts of poker life are that Las Vegas has too many poker rooms and too many poker tables for the number of players. Already one room, the Hilton, is closing its doors and everyone else is scrambling to fill their seats. So more and more interesting and borderline bizarre incentives are being announced. I think I am going to take a shot at the new cash game/tournament gimmick at Luxor. I will report as soon as I give it a fair trail.

More Poker!!

[Content Disclosure: poker 99%, life 16%]

Yes indeed there is just no getting around the fact that my life continues to be saturated in all things poker.

Amy Calistri and I are just a few days away from sending our complete book proposal off to the Big Apple for some publisher perusal. For those who don't know, we are working with Mike Matusow on a biography of his life in poker. Amy & I have been heads down on this project since the World Series and now have the entire professional publisher boiler-plating and two sample chapters ready to impress the publishing world. In the best scenario, you will have a copy of Mike's story in your hands by next summer. In the worst case, George Bush is declared king for life and Phil Hellmuth is discovered to be an android.

While the work on the book was going on I was, of course, keeping PokerBlog up and running. PokerBlog is a great outlet for the wide variety of interesting and frustrating aspects of the relatively new world of poker as a mainstream endeavour. Two additional opportunities have also come my way. I am now writing for OnlinePoker both as a poker instructor and a forum moderator. Come check out the new forums over there (just as soon as we launch them). If you have a friend or relative who is just beginning their poker journey, invite them to check out the "How I Learnt to Play" section on OnlinePoker.

Also I am writing a Las Vegas Poker News section for ChiliPoker; this is a fun job which allows me to chronicle the current Poker Wars in Las Vegas. There are a lot of poker tables in Las Vegas and a finite number of poker players to sit in them, so the gimmicks and incentives are expanding daily. The Chilipoker site gives me a forum to explore all of that information. Before your next trip to the desert be sure to take a look at the Spicy News section of ChiliPoker.

Finally Some Time to Play Poker

Poker Tournament
I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!
This Online Poker Tournament is a No Limit Texas Holdem event exclusive to Bloggers.
Registration code: 5335210


Poker, Money, Life and Change

[Content Disclosure: poker 33%, employment 32%, travel 31%, life 27.36%, etc. 11.44%]

So here goes the update on life and yes it will revolve a bit around poker.
Since PokerNews.com and I parted ways during the World Series this summer, I have been entertaining several new offers to write about poker for a variety of sources both online and off. These offers involve both old and new content; I have been making one of my goals to place my Poker Shrink column with a new and reputable poker source. While the "Shrink" remains in negotiation with two outlets, I have landed several new writing assignments for European based poker outlets. I will be announcing both of those here just as soon as the new sites launch.

Because both new jobs are very "Las Vegas" centric, I will be remaining in the desert for now. However, travel will be part of both deals in 2008 but next I plan an extended sojourn to Northern California to visit friends and to check out many of the smaller card rooms I have not had the chance to play before now.

More on life and less on poker, right here as the fall unfolds.

Yes I Know....

[Content: 0% poker, 43% other]

....where the hell have I been?

Well it's a long story and there is just no need to bother with it today.

So how about something lite and whimsical today... a test!

Strange though it may seem, this visual-emotive test has some validity.

Once you click on the link you just pick one and you're done; takes 15 seconds.

I offer this to you only because I was sent the nine responses first and then after I knew which one was "me", only then did I take the test and lo and behold -- it worked. Hmmm, maybe I should give you that same option.

OK, this is going to take longer; if you are in cyber-time mode and just want to press on with your daily surfing--jump to the bottom and click the Test Link.

Here are the nine 'answers', as you probably know they are very general and anyone who lacks a certain dollop of truthful self-awareness could believe anything about themself. However, I think if you take a moment and find the real you...... you will be surprised at the correlation.

The only real problem with the test is that many people relate transitory moods to color and form but if you read these and then immediately take the test... it should work. Sort of a temporal snapshot of your current inner state.

Here are the nine options:

1) You come to grips more frequently and thoroughly with yourself and your environment than do most people.

You detest superficiality. You'd rather be alone than have to suffer through small talk.

Your relationships with your friends are very strong, which gives you the inner tranquility and harmony that you require.

You do not mind being alone for extended periods of time. You are rarely bored.

2) You are easy-going and independent. You do not need to be the center of attention, instead you graciously let others take center stage.

You have no set plans, rather you prefer to "go with the flow," relying on your sharp instincts and intuition as situations present themselves to you. You are very social and popular, yet you are perfectly happy going off alone to persue your interests. There is a quiet confidence about you.

3) You are quite willing to accept certain risks and to make a strong commitment in exchange for interesting and varied work.

Routine, in contrast, tends to have a paralyzing effect on you.

What you like most is to be able to play an active role in events. In doing so, your initiative is highly pronounced.

4) You appreciate high quality and things that endure. Consequently, you like to surround yourself with little "gems," which are often overlooked by others.

Culture and tradition are important to you.

You have found your own personal style, which is elegant and exclusive, free from the whims of fashion.

Your ideal, upon which you base your life, is sophisticated pleasure.

5) You take charge of your life, and place less faith in luck and more in your own deeds. You solve problems in a practical, uncomplicated manner.

You take a realistic view of the things in your daily life and tackle them without wavering.

You are given a great deal of responsibility at work, because people know that you can be depended upon.

Your pronounced strength of will projects your self-assurance to others. You are never fully satisfied until you have accomplished your goals.

6) You are a very sensitive person. You refuse to view things only from a sober, rational standpoint.

You listen to your feelings. It is important for you to have dreams in life.

You reject people who scorn romanticism and are guided only by rationality.

You refuse to let anything confine the rich variety of your moods and emotions.

7) You value a natural style and love that which is uncomplicated. People admire you because you have both feet planted firmly on the ground and they can depend on you.

You give those who are close to you security and space. You are perceived as being warm and human.

You reject everything that is garish and trite. You tend to be skeptical toward the whims of fashion trends. Your style is easy and elegant.

8) You demand a free and unattached life for yourself that allows you to determine your own course. You have an artistic bent in your work or leisure activities.

Your urge for freedom sometimes causes you to do exactly the opposite of what is expected of you.

Your lifestyle is highly individualistic. You would never follow trends.

On the contrary, you seek to live according to your own ideas and convictions, even if this means swimming against the tide.

9) You love a free and spontaneous life. And you strive to enjoy every moment, in accordance with the motto: "You only live once."

You are very curious and open about everything new. You thrive on change. Nothing is worse than when you feel tied down.

You experience your environment as being versatile and always good for a surprise.

10) You are a mean, nasty bastard and will suffer the eternal fires of damnation.

OK, there are only nine but #10 you know who you are.

Sorry had to kill the test link, it now links to some cheap porno site.

A little addendum here: I took the test again a couple of months later and found that not only did my #1 still resonant as me but the two I was most repelled by are precisely the type of people I care to avoid.

100 Things About Me (2007)

[Content: poker 8%, me 100%]

As some but not all of my readers know, bloggers often "out" themselves with a list: "100 Things About Me". I recommend this exercise to everyone, even if you only share the results with your cat.

So as my final step in changing this blog from poker to personal, here are my "100 Things About Tim".

1. I do not have a tattoo or any piercings.
2. I was All-League in football in high school, so were all three of my brothers.

3. I was born in
Detroit but only lived there a year and a half.
4. I grew up in a rural village of 1200 in Michigan near Ann Arbor.

5. I have lived with four women in my life; this total does not include lesbians, my mother or my sister.

6. Only one relationship ever got anywhere near the conversation that begins: “4½ yellow gold with….”

7. I got my undergraduate degree in political science from
Kalamazoo College in 1969.
8. I received a Ph.D. in East-West Psychology in 1999.

9. I have been quoted in Business Week.

10. I was the key witness in two trials and both times the lawyers neglected to ask “the” question.

11. I was Jane Fonda’s bodyguard for a day.

12. I once grew my hair for two years, it never reached my collar.

13. My beard used to be dark red, now it would be dark red and white-grey.

14. The title of my novel in process is: “All My Friends are Nearly Normal.”

15. That has been the title for over ten years.
16. I went to a Catholic grade school

17. I skipped the fourth grade.

18. I rang the “Angelus Bells” at the church three times a day for five years.

19. I don’t wear jewelry, cologne or chartreuse.

20. I volunteer at the SPCA in the cat wing.

21. 99.4% of my clothes are cotton.

22. A google search for me will find a lot of papers presented to the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness.
23. My academic friends think that same google search finds a lot of strange poker references.

24. I feel the most important feature of a car is head room.

25. I have really great hands.

26. I taught real estate in LA in the late 70’s.

25. I once sat next to a perfect Madonna wannabe at a dance performance, this was during the underwear-on –the-outside phase; she had the costume down perfect. Later, I noticed the guy she was with was Sean Penn.

26. I was mesmerized twice during an Easter weekend in

27. There were seventeen academic awards for boys given out my senior year in high school. I won them all.

28. I write under several pseudonyms.

29. I won $4800 in my first ever major poker tournament.

30. The first hand I was ever dealt in a live poker game was pocket Aces.

31. When working for a major Japanese corporation the president of the division fired 25% of the employees, called everyone else into a meeting and gave a 90 minute lecture on our new austerity plan. When he finished he said: “I will take questions now.” Then he looked at me and said: “If you ask a question, you’re fired.”

32. I once had a job evaluation where the manager wrote: “I have no idea what Tim does; we prefer not to ask. Overall rating: Excellent, perhaps.”

33. I have run several political campaigns, none of my candidates won but neither were any of them arrested.

I have voted in every presidential election I was eligible for.
35. I have never voted for a winning presidential candidate.
36. I have only voted for one democrat and no republicans for president.
37. In the 1972 election, I voted for ten different parties.
38. The last presidential speech I heard was Richard Nixon’s resignation.

39. I don’t believe in the Cartesian mind/body split.

40. I do believe in Karma and Reincarnation, well at least this time around.

41. From the age of twelve to twenty-six, I had the key to a pharmacy in my pocket.

42. My father was a pharmacist, village councilman and volunteer fire chief.

I got my first passport to study in Germany in 1968.
41. I used my second passport to go to Antarctica in 1980.
42. Third passport took me to Singapore & Bali in 1997.
43. I was using my fourth passport in Australia in January 2007, when I wrote the first draft of this list.

44. The fourth passport is going to get a lot more visa stamps.

45. I have about six dozen favorite quotes.

46. I think that The Simpsons is a brilliant commentary on American culture.

47. When anyone says their family is dysfunctional, I ask if they have ever seen The Osbournes.

48. I have many qualities that resemble a hibernating bear.

49. I love my friends more than my family, except for one wonderful brother.

50. I have never been arrested. Once a young, eager officer considered it (1971 anti-war demonstration) until his more seasoned partner said: “…that guy outweighs you by fifty pounds and I am not helping you if he resists.”

51. I have only two addictions: chocolate and oxygen.
52. Apocalypse Now is my favorite movie but not the director’s cut.
53. Catch-22 was once my favorite book.
54. Annie Lennox is my favorite female singer.
55. I really love cats and I am fond of manatees.
56. Microsoft Word is sheer brilliance; its creator is a chauvanistic ass.
57. Three of the most remarkable women I have ever met, all live in Texas.
58. The other three I met in San Francisco.
59. I have lived in Michigan, Massachusetts, Germany, LA, San Francisco and Las Vegas.
60. I am the middle child of five; I am typical of a middle child.
61. I am an Aquarius, double Capricorn.
62. I read Tarot.
63. I have some limited shamanic abilities.
64. The best vacation of my life was in Bali.
65. The second best was Key West.
66. Genesis before Peter Gabriel left.
67. Nessa Dorma from Turandot.
68. Susan Sarandon, Steve Buschemi, Val Kilmer,
69. I discovered I was buddhist in Singapore.
70. I write about poker better than I play poker.
71. The most important part of a movie is the writing.
72. After the writing comes the music, except Koyaanisquatsi.
73. I am fascinated by images from the Hubble Space Telescope.
74. I prefer Charlie Rose to Bill Moyers, most of the time.
75. “It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all” is empirically true.
76. I do not watch nor follow team sports.
77. I do watch the Super Bowl for the commercials.
78. I eat the M&Ms by color, dark to light.
79. I can’t skate or ski.
80. I don’t believe in sports where your legs often go in opposite directions.
81. I was employed for several years as a demi-god in several virtual reality worlds.
82. No matter what some relatives say, I am paternally Italian.
83. My mother’s maiden name was Gillespie, which has got to make me part Irish.
84. Is my favorite number but not my lucky number.
85. Grey is my favorite color.
86. I have made love in hell.
87. Until I was 35 everyone thought I was older than I was.
88. After I was 35 everyone thinks I am younger than I am
89. I lived in Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach and I never, ever lay on the beach.
90. 1984 was the first book I ever stayed up all night to read.
91. I owned a mortgage company in Manhattan Beach, CA.
92. I lived with a woman named Faith.
93. I got hit by a car driven by a woman named Hope.
94. I was asked to have coffee with a hooker named Charity and she really did want to have coffee.
95. I do not eat fast food of any kind.
96. I will eat a hot dog, no matter how many snouts and lips are in it.
97. I will eat chocolate anything and will do most anything to acquire it.
98. I once camped for a weekend with 7 gay men, 6 lesbians, and 4 newborn kittens.
99. I have only one prejudice; I abhor voluntary stupidity.

100. I will listen to almost any thoughtful position, unless it violates the limits referenced in ninety-nine.

Change of Ships

[Content Disclosure: 37% Poker, 43% Life, 3% Innuendo]

This is both a poker and a career update.

First, I am now working for CardPlayer Online and CardPlayer Magazine for the remainder of the 2007 World Series of Poker. I will be working on the Pro Blogs on CardPlayer.com, which is an assignment that combines my writing strengths and my relationship with many of the professional players. A good fit for me and I hope for CardPlayer.

This means I am no longer working for PokerNews either on the WSOP or on my regular Poker Shrink articles. Leave it to say that the PokerNews editor and I had some "creative differences" which we (you and I) will explore later in this space.

I continue as the chief writer for PokerBlog.com.

And! I am working with my favorite co-writer, Amy Calistri, on two books we are writing with Mike Matusow. Lots more on this later too.

Hellmuthian Reflections

[This is a saved post from 6/13/07, originally posted on PokerBlog.com]

When it was announced in the Amazon Room at the World Series of Poker that Phil Hellmuth had won his record 11th bracelet there was a smattering of applause (OK, a few claps), mixed in with a few boos (OK, more than a few) but all in all general disinterest. You see the observable facts of life on the poker circuit and in nearly every poker room in the world are that generally poker players do not like Phil Hellmuth.
Sure, I know you have heard this all before, the “Poker Brat” stuff and the “Hellmuth Blow-ups” for the television cameras. But return with me now to the entire day of Phil’s record-breaking 11th bracelet and let me tell you about a different Phil Hellmuth. A Phil that might surprise you.
First, I need to do a little disclosure. I don’t like the poker player named Phil Hellmuth. I don’t buy the “He’s a great guy away from the table” line that you hear around the poker circuit. I have watched Phil Hellmuth Jr. play poker in scores of card rooms around the world, with and without television cameras running and quite frankly he is immature, egotistical and insulting to other players. He is also the best No Limit Hold’em player on the planet. Yes, I know you are waiting for the “Just ask him he will tell you” line but sorry Phil doesn't have to tell me and there is simply no reason not to acknowledge that day in and day out, when it comes to NLHE tournaments, no one; absolutely no one, is better than Phil.
His always observable “verbal diarrhea” behavior at the tables is perhaps the best table strategy every devised for tournament play. Phil will use that “donkey” line on anyone. Have you noticed that he never directly calls anyone a name? If the three seat wins a hand that Phil feels was incorrectly played; what does Phil do? He tells the eight seat about how bad “that guy’s” play was. If he says: “Buddy, keep that up and I will take all your chips”, he doesn’t look at you. Phil doesn’t like to get into it directly with a player, at least not since Sam Grizzle knocked Phil on his ass with one punch. No Phil’s table strategy is actually well thought out and supremely effective. He tells the entire table what you are doing and then tells you what he is going to do to you. How he is going to keeping letting you take down those small pots until he catches a hand and crushes you. And you know what? That is exactly what he does, time and time again.
So what about the day of the record 11th bracelet victory. The event was scheduled to be played in Bluff’s Sequestrium. The players would be “tented in” with only one guest each allowed. Phil brought his wife. The tent is stuffed with cameras, sound equipment, production staff, a tournament director, and a chip counter; all surrounded by huge black drapes. The Bluff floor staff was expecting a Hellmuth blow-up about the unusual table set-up, so I naturally I hung out at the “tent” waiting his arrival. When it came I knew immediately everyone was wrong. Phil was in another zone completely. He was smiling, relaxed and incredibly focused.
After entering the tent and chatting briefly with his wife, Phil stood to get "mike'd up" for the webcast. I took this opportunity to walk over and I chat with him:
“Phil, what do you think about this tent?” I asked.
Phil beamed at me and said:
“That’s it Phil,” I persisted “nothing more to say about the whole set-up today, when you are going for number eleven?"
Phil just smiled.
I have some experience with Zen masters and other practioners who seem in a state of bliss or extreme focus; that was exactly the impression I had from Phil at that moment. Complete control, amazing focus and incredible calm.
For the actual playing of the final table, I was back in the production booth where half-a-dozen screens showed the static shots used to create the webcast. They had one camera on Phil the entire time. When there was no action at the table or during the shuffle, I watched Phil. He remained calm, serene and incredibly focused. Sure, he did his talking and he got into one extended verbal battle with Scott Clements but those were clearly the Hellmuth strategy at work. Never did he even have a hint of waver in his plan and quite frankly never did any of the professional observers doubt for a moment that bracelet #11 was anything but inevitable.
Think of Phil what you will. Distain him, ignore him, champion him as the best; one thing was obvious to me—when Phil Hellmuth is focused and in control at a table, only a deck as cold as an Antarctic winter or some incredible run of donkey luck will keep Phil from contending for the top prize.

What's Going On?

[Content Disclosure: Poker 3%, Speculation 88%, Tease 6%]

So what's going on with "Keeping Your Head in the Game"?

Well a couple of things. First, the poker: there really is no reason for me to have a separate poker-only blog when I am writing six days a week over on PokerBlog and writing my weekly column Poker Shrink on PokerNews. Plus all the other WSOP related articles I write for PokerNews. Lest we forget the World Series of Poker begins in five days and our prep meetings start tomorrow.

I mentioned in the past that I have wanted to write more about things not poker and although I have been doing that quite a bit this spring, only a few of those pieces have reached the light of day. So I am going to convert "Keeping Your Head in the Game" to a personal blog with very little poker content. Whether I will pull this off during the WSOP (May 30th-July 18th) or perhaps wait for the mid-summer lull----I am just not sure yet.

If you are in my email eddress book, I will let you know. For the cyber-wanderers who land here--come back soon..... the cards will be changing in most mysterious ways.

Poker and the Summer in Las Vegas

[Content Disclosure: 100% Poker; 17% Bitchin'; 13% Whinin'; 4% Commentary on the State of the Species]

As May rolls around and summer looms just around the corner, I paused to ponder just how cloudy and unclear one's future can be when contracts, attorneys, ill-trained managers cum poker players are allowed to run large businesses. I also note that a lot of this mindless paperwork comes from our every growing litigious society and because no one trusts anyone else to actually do what they said they would do, when they said they would do it for the compensation agreed upon. Then there is the ever present "that depends what the meaning of is is" mentality. Coupled with the recurring reminders that not every member of the human species is as evolved from our simpian cousins as we think we are. Reversion is an annoying trait and alpha males are the worst offenders.

OK, now that the mumbling lament is over, here is what summer 2007 in Las Vegas holds poker-wise.

The World Series, of course, dominates the poker scene each and every year. Seven weeks and fifty-five bracelet events will keep everyone on their toes and there will be several procedural and media screw-ups over the summer. The whole media covering the WSOP plans, rules and guidelines are still not fully in place less than four weeks before the first event; so expect disruption, complaints and confusion. All of which will be torturously played out in dozens of witty and whiney blogs.

The WSOP itself is still undergoing growing pains or perhaps better evolutionary emergence. The Harrah's/WSOP team are always looking better ways to present the Series. This means that they are always balancing the wants, needs and desires of the players and the often competing financial goals of Harrah's Entertainment Inc. Then, each year, they present their new and improved vision of the WSOP to 50,000 players over 7 weeks and inevitably they do not please all of the players all of the time.

With this year's Series being bigger in number of events, number of tables, number of total players, number of media credentials, etc. etc. There will be new problems and new successes and all of it will be reported, deported, inverted, rejected, inspected and detected ad nauseum. I will be joining the chorus at the Series in a yet unknown media capacity.

Prior to June 1st, the first official day of the 2007 WSOP, there are two Season Six WPT events here in Las Vegas. The Mirage Poker Showdown begins in a week, personally one of my least favorite poker tournaments but that is another story. Following Mirage is the Mandalay Bay Championship tournament, which overlaps the first two days of the Series.

Lots of poker coming up here, who knows exactly what cards will be in the air? There are more than 52, you know!

Blogger Tag

[Content Disclosure: Poker 23%; Blogging 34%; Me 42%; Jane Fonda 1%]

Well my lack of posting here didn’t go unpunished as Amy tagged me for the 7 Things About Me Blog Chain. I figured I’d better get on it or there would be no one left to tag. This is truly a pyramid about to collapse. I’ve already have 93 things about me but I have only shared those privately. So I have selected 7 exemplars for now and promise to get the full list up to one hundred and perhaps even post it here. No really I will....

11. I was Jane Fonda’s bodyguard for a day
20. I volunteer at the SPCA in the cat wing.

24. I feel the most important feature of a car is head room.

38. The last presidential speech I heard was Richard Nixon’s resignation.

39. I don’t believe in the Cartesian mind/body split.

47. When anyone says their family is dysfunctional, I ask if they have ever seen The Osbournes.
73. I am fascinated by images from the Hubble Space Telescope.

Now who can I tag?

Summer Poker In Las Vegas

[Content Disclosure: 100% Poker; 17% Bitchin'; 13% Whinin'; 4% Commentary on the State of the Species]

As May rolls around and summer looms just around the corner, I paused to ponder just how cloudy and unclear one's future can be when contracts, attorneys, ill-trained managers cum poker players are allowed to run large businesses. I also note that a lot of this mindless paperwork comes from our every growing litigious society and because no one trusts anyone else to actually do what they said they would do, when they said they would do it for the compensation agreed upon. Then there is the ever present "that depends what the meaning of is is" mentality. Coupled with the recurring reminders that not every member of the human species is as evolved from our simpian cousins as we think we are. Reversion is an annoying trait and alpha males are the worst offenders.

OK, now that the mumbling lament is over, here is what summer 2007 in Las Vegas holds poker-wise.

The World Series, of course, dominates the poker scene each and every year. Seven weeks and fifty-five bracelet events will keep everyone on their toes and there will be several procedural and media screw-ups over the summer. The whole media covering the WSOP plans, rules and guidelines are still not fully in place less than four weeks before the first event; so expect disruption, complaints and confusion. All of which will be torturously played out in dozens of witty and whiney blogs.

A Modest Poker Proposal

[Content Disclosure: 100% Poker]

In most poker venues the tables are tight and when you add in 65-70 poker media, like this week at the Bellagio, it becomes a traffic jam. But their comes a point, like today, when the field thins and there "could be" more room for the players, more room for the media and even room for fans to pack the rail and see some poker.

So here is my modest proposal to all tournament directors.

Late in a tournament consider breaking tables in a staggered pattern. Break every other table and pull the chairs out of the way so that media can cover the event and not pack in around the players. Also consider, where fans can get near the tournament, breaking the interior tables first and keeping the rail tables in play so on at least one or two sides fans can see the action.

Now I know for some players it is important to know when their table will break (some players don't care) but for those who do; nothing prevents tournament directors from simply announcing a "staggered pattern" for the breaking tables. Sure some players will not listen and some will complain but they never listen and they always complain. So let's give this a try, better coverage for the fans not at the venue and more viewing possibilities for fans who do come out.

If you want this to be a spectator sport, consider the fans and those who bring them the stories.

I Just Love Cats and I Like Poker

[Content Disclosure: 75% Poker; 25% Cats]

For the poker purists in the audience..... there will be very little poker in today's post. To cut to the "poker only content" read my article on PokerNews and/or my post on PokerBlog on this topic.

Today I am going to talk about a great charity event coming this Friday here in Las Vegas and a great cause the Nevada Society for the Prevention of the Cruelty to Animals No-Kill Sanctuary.

The event is the Jennifer Harman Celebrity Poker Tournament and Charity Auction to be held this Friday, April 20th at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. Lots of poker, lots of professional players, many celebrities from Hollywood and Las Vegas. All of the buy-ins go to the SPCA and there is even a $10,000 WSOP Main Event seat for the winner.

Promises of many surprise appearances and some fairly outrageous personal donations for the auction should make for a fun day for everyone.

There are seats available for the tournament; you are bound to be seated at a table with, at least, four or five professionals and celebrity players. But enough about poker.

The SPCA Sanctuary is just a great place. I hung out in the "Cat Wing" for an hour after a press conference earlier this week and then filled out my volunteer papers before I left. My living situation here in the desert does not allow for feline companions, so now I can get my kitten fix by hanging out with 150 cats on a regular basis. The volunteers at the SPCA Sanctuary are a great bunch and I look forward to getting to know them all too, just as soon as I get those cats off of me, which will be in a week or so.

If you can't make it out to the event this Friday, please consider a donation directly to the SPCA No-Kill Sanctuary. Remember on a cold winter night, nothing is better for a chills than throwing another cat on the bed.

Donate to Nevada SPCA

Many thanks to Steve Hall for the photo.

Springtime in Las Vegas

[Content Disclosure: 110% Poker]

Well the spring poker season has started here in Las Vegas. The World Poker Tour (WPT) Championship has already begun preliminary events at the Bellagio. The $25,000 Main Event that will wrap up Season Five of the WPT will be held April 21st - April 27th.

Less than two weeks after WPT Season Five crowns its chamption, Season Six launches just a couple of doors north of Bellagio at The Mirage. May 7th - May 23rd will be the 2007 Mirage Poker Showdown with its $10K Main Event May 19th - 23rd.

Even before the Mirage event is done, the second tournament of the 2007 WPT season will begin preliminary play at Mandalay Bay. May 21st - June 2nd are the dates for the Mandalay Bay Poker Championship with another $10K Main Event running May 29th - June 2nd.

But wait there's more:

The World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOP) comes to Caesar's Palace from April 22nd - May 2nd with a $5K Main Event scheduled for April 30th - May 2nd.

This, of course, does not take into account the scores of tournaments held every day in greater Las Vegas starting at $30 and going up to regularly scheduled $550 and $1050 weekly events.

Oh and then there is one more little event starting on June 1st at the Rio.

I am going to be covering many of these events in one capacity or another for a variety of media outlets. Stay tuned for that schedule and welcome to Springtime in Las Vegas, it was 90 and sunny today.

An Invitation to a Resurrection

[Content Disclosure: 100% Poker; 43% Shameless Self Promotion]

If you are reading this blog entry you know all you need to know today about UIGEA [Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act]. Unless you are one of my non-poker buddies and you are here to see what I have been doing the last few years, in which case you should give me a call and we can catch up.

The transitory governmental restrictions of freedom and in particular the freedom to play poker have made it difficult for many poker websites to stay in business. Not just the actual gambling sites but all of the support sites. Most of those online operations employ or employed writers. I was and am one of those writers.

So I am happy to announce that one of my former poker gigs/sites is coming back to life and I will be the chief blogger again over at PokerBlog.com. That does not mean I will be abandoning this space. I like "Keeping Your Head in the Game" and I will be staying right here. But please come on over to PokerBlog and let me share with you a few of my other inner demons, angels, angles and directions; all directed at poker of course. PokerBlog will be "all poker all the time" which means this space might find a bit more room for the other sides of my life and maybe even some "other" cards.

Stay Tuned--A Seasoned Witch will call you from the Depths of your Disgrace.

Best Laid Plans

I am really a very private person. Despite all my opinions that I toss out here and in other places on the big olde world wide web, I like to keep my private life private. As my good friend Amy might say: "The bear really doesn't like coming out of the cave all that often and he almost never likes it when someone visits and tries to open up the blinds."

But the more things change, the more things change.

UIGEA + Facet Joints + eye of newt + several muscle relaxants - five days in Monte Carlo + one big writing deal - one woman + ten days in San Francisco + that other deal that just won't go away or get signed = the current state of the shrink dot dot dot

Tomorrow I will have another announcement here on my little blog. For now, I apologize to Dr. Pauly and Tiffany and Shronk who are battling through the fog of frog in Monte Carlo down one team member. Great job guys.

The more things change the more things reorganize, reinvent, recatalyze, reinvigorate and reiterate.

Poker-wise, I sense a slow turning of the wheel; the chariot has entered the town square and who knows what the parade will bring. Remember always look behind the wagon before you look inside.

Tomorrow, more clarity, more direction and even a fact or two. For tonight--Welcome Back My Friends to the Show that Never Ends, We're So Glad You Could Attend...

Linkfest & EPT Monte Carlo

I was sitting in a Omaha8 game at Red Rock late last night, when Dr. Pauly came by and said:

"You know I may never get to say this to anyone again......."

"See you in Monte Carlo!"

Yes, Pauly and I are taking our Dr./Dr. act on the road again for PokerNews.com. This is our third joint reporting gig after Aussie Millions and the LA Poker Classic. We will add one more next month when we cover the WPT Championships at Bellagio. After that there is a small tournament this summer we might cover. But for now its off to shores of the Mediterranean for the EPT Championship. You, of course, are invited to follow the live coverage on the PokerNewsLiveTournament link.

Just to wrap up this little pre-pond jumping link-fest, for my geographically challenged friends and family:
The country of Monaco and the city of Monte Carlo are located on the Mediterranean coast of France, just a few miles from the Italian border. Monaco is the second smallest independent state in Europe (The smallest is Vatican). Yes, this is the Princess Grace place.

Finally, our silly but fun internet tip of the week GoogleFight. Enjoy.

10,000 Bad WSOP Stories

If you want reliable news about poker do NOT go to the mainstream press.

Two days ago the WSOP top staff held a little teleconference and somewhere in there the number 10,000 was mentioned. I have now seen over two dozens press stories about that little 45 minutes of words and only one of those stories does not lead with the number 10,000. Despite the fact that WSOP commissioner Jeffery Pollack was clear and clear again that 10,000 was a high-end working number, that it was not a prediction, that numbers may indeed be down, that they measure their success by something other than numbers. Didn't matter, all the stories but one, blasted out the number 10,000!


First, none of these were news reports (save one) they were sensation pieces worthy only of the Enquirer or Hollywood Tonight. They were headlines for a toss-off filler story.

Second, very few of the "mainstream media" who asked the majority of the questions knew anything about poker, they had no experience and no context for the game and in particular for the World Series of Poker.

Three, the WSOP staff goofed. The number 10,000 never should have been mentioned. All the coverage they hoped to get from the teleconference was washed away by the mention of 10,000.

Four, to the rest of the world, poker is a game that fills up late night TV on some of those high-numbered cable channels.

Too often we think what is important to us is important to everyone else. It isn't.

Too often we think that news is reported to inform us. It isn't. News is a commodity that is used by various media outlets to fill-in between their advertising and political agenda.

If anyone cares. There will be less than 5,000 players in the Main Event of the 2007 World Series of Poker. If someone offers you an over/under bet at 4500, take the under.

Shooting Star @ Bay 101, San Jose

OK, I admit it. I like Bay 101, I like the Shooting Star tournament format and so do most of the other media.
The Shooting Star tournament is one of the first events with a “non-traditional” format and perhaps the most successful of these. The 11th Annual Shooting Star main event began today (Monday March 12th). What makes this event so unique is the Shooting Star bounty format, which is anything but just another gimmick.

The Shooting Star is limited to 500 players with 250 players taking to the felt on each of the two Day Ones. Twenty-five tables at the Bay 101 are ten seated but each table will has a designated “Star” in seat five. The Stars are fifty of the biggest professional players (25 each day), each with a cool $5,000 bounty on their head. When a Shooting Star goes down during this event, the floor staff comes to the table with a Bay 101 Shooting Star T-Shirt that reads: “I knocked out (Professional Player’s Name) at the Bay 101 2007 Shooting Star.” The shirt has a picture of the Star and they sign it for you at the table. A very cool, one-of-a-kind prize. Then the floor counts out fifty one hundred dollar bills right at the table. The bounty is paid immediately in cash!

Now mind you these stars are not exactly easy marks. Take a look at the some Shooting Stars from Day One this year:

Josh Arieh
Miami John Cernuto
Hoyt Corkins
Allen Cunningham
Freddy Deeb
Liz Lieu
Eli Elezra
John Hennigan
Kenna James
Nam Le
Tuan Le
Kathy Liebert
Tom McEvoy
Daniel Negreanu
Scotty Nguyen
Gavin Smith
J.C. Tran
Cyndy Violette
JJ Liu
David Williams
Robert Williamson III

Of course, with that list of “Stars”, tables are going to break before the “Star” is eliminated so slowly the number of bounties at the remaining tables will go up from one to two and even to three. This happened almost immediately today when Liz Lieu was moved to the same table with Eli Elezra and then Nam Le was moved onto another table with Alan Cunningham.

Should one of the Shooting Stars win the event the $5,000 bounty is added to their 1st place prize, which last year was won by Nam Le for a very cool $1,172,800. This year the first place prize is capped at $1,000,000 plus a $25,500 seat in the World Poker Tour Championship being played April 21st to 25th at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

The Bay 101 Shooting Star is a very unique tournament and it offers some good viewing for the railbirds. If you are in the San Jose area, you might want to check out the Star-studded first two days. The cards are in the air each day at 11:15 AM and they will play ten one hour rounds each day. This year the tournament structure has been adjusted to a 20,000 chip starting stack, so the tournament is now twice as deep, which should provide for even more “Star Sightings” throughout the first two days.

If you can only make it for one day, here is a partial Shooting Star list for Day Two:

Patrik Antonius
T.J. Cloutier
Paul Darden
Scott Fischman
Layne Flack
Chau Giang
Barry Greenstein
Gus Hansen
Chip Jett
John Juanda
Phil Laak
Erick Lindgren
Jeff Madsen
Isabelle Mercier
Mike Mizrachi
Carlos Mortensen
Chip Reese
Erik Seidel
Jennifer Harman-Traniello
Jennifer Tilly
Mimi Tran
Amir Vahedi
-also confirmed but not Shooting Stars
Johnny Chan
John Phan
Evelyn Ng
Jason Strasser
Greg Mueller
Kevin O’Donnell
Nenad Medic
Alan Goering
Gabe Thaler
Richard Tatalovich
Jason Stern
Noah Jefferson
Michael Binger
Randy Gill
Allen Kessler
Shane Schleger
Anahit Galajian
Chad Brown
Vanessa Rousso