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

Beyond the Angry UIGEA Conversation

There is an interesting debate going on over at Jay Greenspan's Blog. The topic is "beyond the rage at UIGEA". Bill Rini has weighed in and so, of course, has Jay. Some other wild haired radical has joined the noize, you might want to take a look and please join the conversation.

Rake Wars in Vegas?

The Venetian Poker Room has fired the first shot in what could very quickly become a "rake war" in Las Vegas. Beginning immediately the rake on all "mid limit" Hold'em tables at the Venetian is being reduced. The key reduction is from a maximum $4 to only $1 at the $8/$16 and $15/$30 tables.

Here is the information the Venetian released yesterday and is formally introducing today at its Deep Stack Extravaganza Tournament.

$8/$16 and $15/$30 Limit Hold'em
April/May: $1 Rake
June/July: $2 Rake
Aug thru Dec 2007: $3 Rake

$30/$60 and $60/$120 Limit Hold'em
April/May: $2 Time Collection
June/July: $3 Time Collection
Aug thru Dece 2007: $4 Time Collection

The question remains as to whether the Venetian will be able to retain players this promotion will draw over the next several months. Clearly, other rooms are going to be paying attention to just how effective this rake reduction will become. Most likely to feel the loss, if any, first are: Bellagio, Caesars, The Mirage and The Wynn. These are precisely the "Big Rooms" that the Venetian was meant to compete with.

Will they respond with reduced rakes themselves? Or will they ignore the Venetian move? Stay tuned for round two of The Rake Wars.

Blog Roll on the Right

All six of my readers will notice that I have added to my blog roll over there on the right. No I am not done but I have been remise in not acknowledging some of the other bloggers I read on a regular basis.

I really haven't been sure just how long I would be at this particular endeavour; either this blog or poker writing in general (for more details on that see my last post below) but it is time to do this blog in the great tradition for all the blog foremothers and forefathers. So in addition to attending to my personal blog role, I will get to at least 50 of the 100 "Things About Me" soon.

On another note, I have been branching out a bit with my writing and I must say in some very, very good company. Check out the latest edition of Dr. Pauly's Truckin' where I debut along with Wil Wheaton, Joe Speaker, Change100, Dan Keston and, of course, the good Dr. Pauly himself. I promise not a single mention of poker in my story.

WSOP 2007 Tables

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the Rio.

I reported last week that the 2007 World Series of Poker would operate with 275 tables available for all events. Now it appears that the WSOP commissioner has a different view of how many tables will be available and how they will be used. Commissioner Jeffery Pollack says there will be 300 tables once the Series gets under way on June 1st but these will not all be considered tournament tables. Only 235 to 245 tables will be dedicated to any individual event, any event larger than this will have alternates:

"At no time will the WSOP stop running satellites and cash games."

This begs the question of how a Day One of a large event will utilize tables while preparing for the restart (Day Two) of another event and even a Day Three of yet another tournament. I would also point out that the $50,000 HORSE event this year is a scheduled five day tournament. Then there is the matter of satellites (single table, super and mega) and the aforementioned cash games. There is clearly the intention to keep the existing poker room at the Rio open this year during the WSOP; just what games or events will be held there is at present unclear.

In any case, it would seem that instead of musical chairs, we may all be playing musical tables this summer.

Los Angeles Poker Classic and Beyond

LAPC is over, for a Dr. Pauly recap see here. My dream final table (picked from the final 18) unfortunately did not materialize. One of my favorites, Kristy Gazes went out 16th and Chris Bell finished 13th. Bill Edler tv-bubbled in 7th and Vincent Procopio was 8th. Paul Wasicka did make the final table and finished 4th and JC Tran played one hand of heads up to finish in 2nd place.

What's up next? Well I am gong to spend some time at the Shooting Star at Bay 101 in San Jose and then its off to Monte Carlo to cover the European Poker Grand Final for Poker News. Back to Las Vegas for the WPT Championship at Bellagio and by then it will nearly be time for the 2007 World Series of Poker. Actually I have my first WSOP article up already "90 Days and Counting."

Then its a dreaded date: July 17th, the Final Day of the 2007 Main Event. Already I have heard several of the best writers in poker talking about July 18th as the first day of whatever comes next in their lives and 'poker' is no longer on their list of career choices. The effects of UIGEA are now clear, the government has made it impossible to earn a living writing about poker. Many writers, bloggers and commentators are already gone, expect an ever accelerated line of departures after the Series this summer.

Just another consequence of the Federal Poker Prohibition; the loss of what was finally becoming a professional class of journalists covering poker from multiple and critical points of view. After the Series this year expect coverage to decline both in quantity and quality, too bad when our game was moving out of the back rooms and into the corporate offices where a different kind of watchfulness is needed.