The Art of the Steal

As I write this, I am trying to do four things at once: play an online tournament on Full Tilt, review the copy-edited manuscript of my book, clean my office, and gather background for my potential next project. (I guess if you include writing in my Journal, that makes five.) I can’t say I’m not doing well with any of these projects, but I’m not doing MUCH.


I started cleaning my office on the 30th. I’m not going to say which month. It has been my highest priority task every day, meaning it is the task I am most frequently looking to postpone. My office used to be the living room of our house. It’s probably the largest room, and it’s still not big enough.

The office houses treasures from the four corners of eBay. I’ve been reading about some of the world’s great art collections recently – more on that later – and one description of the collections of the great industrialists (e.g., Hearst, Morgan) mentioned that J.P. Morgan owned TWO Gutenberg Bibles.

That’s me – dozens of Moleskine Notebooks in every style except the music notebook, nearly 40 Montblanc pens, a collection of “lucky” items (Buddhas, dragons, Spongebob Squarepants playing-card stickers, jade, coins), numerous mechanical watches, files and boxes of files on my previous two books and a dozen or so ideas for books, and a couple hundred articles I’ve saved or printed with a similar notation on the first page: “Interesting?”


I’ve been playing a lot on Full Tilt the past several days, including in the site’s first $1,000 + $60 buy-in MTT on Monday night. I was impressed that they got 124 entries for the tournament, especially because the site went offline for a few hours (including, I think, voiding the big satellite tournament into the $1K).

The tournament paid 18 places and I finished 15th, for a $480 profit. But I’m going to have to think seriously about playing in it in the future. The first problem, which wouldn’t necessarily prevent me from playing but seemed odd and awkward, had to do with the structure. Because so many people were playing so conservative and there were many very good online tournament players in action, it seemed like a relatively large number of players had pretty similar stacks as we got near the money. Because of the conservative play, it seemed an extremely high percentage of the field had only about 10-15 big blinds. Maybe it was an accident of this particular day, but there wasn’t very much play near the money.

The bigger problem for me was a personal one. Paying $1,060 doesn’t look to be an efficient use of my online tournament capital. Among the records I’ve been keeping the last couple weeks is how much per hour it COSTS me to play online. I am occasionally playing the $24 + $2 events, but mostly $69 + $5, $100 + $9, $150 + $13, and $200 + $16. Excluding the $1K, it costs me about $70 per hour to play tournament poker online. Add the $1K to a two-week period where I played online A LOT, and my cost-to-play jumps to $85.

This is really just another way of saying my bankroll isn’t big enough to pay that amount. You have to kiss a lot of frogs to succeed in tournament poker. I’ve been very profitable the last couple weeks, yet I’ve had just three positive days out of fourteen.

I might take a flier on a satellite into that tournament – though Chris Ferguson tells me that if your bankroll isn’t big enough to play the tournament, it isn’t big enough to play the satellite – but unless I get some investors, I’ll probably pass.

[By the way, the rail was active, vocal, and critical during the $1k. That's fine by me, even when they go off on me. Oddly, it is an educational experience. Repeatedly, the railbirds were critical of (me, mostly) making raises late in the tournament without premium hands. For example, I raised in middle position with J-9s. The player in the blind re-raised all-in and I was getting 3-to-1 to call, which I did. The other player had A-K. I caught a jack, he caught an ace, and we went on. Naturally, I heard no end of how stupid I was for raising with J-9 and for calling an all-in re-raise with it. It reminds me how little many players understand about the endgame and the need to steal to keep pace with the blinds and antes, as well as the concept of pot odds. There was even one guy ragging on me for calling the 3,000 chip re-raise into a 9,000 pot because J-9 couldn't possibly be getting the right odds against two overcards. Sometimes, there is a reason WHY the rail is "the rail."]


The worst job in writing has to be review of a copy-edited manuscript. This book is 530 double-spaced pages and there are about a dozen marks on every page. I have to review each of them, some in sufficient detail so I can answer queries or disagree with a change and explain why.

For instance, I use the expression “Rosetta Stone” in my Introduction in describing the first time I laid eyes on SUPER/SYSTEM. The copy editor put a slash through the “S” in Stone, denoting that it should be lower-case. I didn’t think so, but I had to marshall my reasons. In the end, I referred the copy editor to The Rosetta Stone has been on exhibit there since 1802, and THEY capitalize the “S” in Stone.

Imagine having to engage in debates like that on every page of a 530-page manuscript. And that’s one of the GOOD ones, because I got to learn about the Rosetta Stone, at least. (Napoleon found it in 1799 and had to give it up as part of his surrender to and subsequent treaty with England.)


I spent three very interesting days with Mike Matusow last week, doing interviews in connection with some as-yet-undetermined project involving his life story. Now that we are, as I used to say during my days as a litigator, “at issue,” it’s time to wrap up the deal between me and Matusow.

I offered Mike his choice of two deals: partners for the whole she-bang, or I take a salary and get a small piece of the profits. Frankly, I’d rather be partners, but it has to be either/or: I’ll work in collaboration on spec for an opportunity at the fortune that awaits if we hit the ball out of the park, or I’ll give up the lion’s share of that fortune if Mike wants to pay me what he loses in a bad hour online.

His agent, Rich Belsky, hasn’t told me which of the two Mike wants, only that some other people are being brought in to review and alter some of the language.

Tempus fugit, Rich!

I’ve been reading books about art theft over the last two weeks. I didn’t know WHY exactly. In fact, the writing of the books I’ve read so far has been weak. I find the subject-matter fascinating, though each author who focuses on a particular theft in the narrative feels obligated to tell about all the OTHER famous art thefts. Consequently, I’m constantly being re-introduced to the same thieves, the same works of art (though a few masterpieces have been stolen repeatedly), the same museums, and the same detectives.

Without really planning on it, I may have found the subject of my next book. How about an art thief who was a local rock ‘n’ roll legend, has his own web site, has been released from prison to help authorities recover OTHER stolen art (usually failing but his release was not conditional, or, in one instance, a painting HE may have stolen), and may have been responsible for the biggest (in dollars) unsolved crime in history?

If Mike Matusow’s representatives drag their feet, this is a pretty intriguing Plan B.


As part of my attempt to make this Journal All-Clonie-All-the-Time, here are a few pieces of info about her recent doings:

1. Clonie is now a brunette.

2. Clonie won the $25,000 Guarantee tournament on Full Tilt on Tuesday night. I finished just 256 places below her. My take was $35.23. Hers was over $8,500. I mentioned to her after the tourney that I seemed to remember something about us each taking 50% of each other, but it was late and she was tired and maybe her Internet connection gave out or something because I didn’t get a response ….


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3 Responses to The Art of the Steal

  1. DuggleBogey says:

    Four Grand isn’t the half of Clonie I’d go after…

  2. Clonie Gowen says:

    You are my good friend and biggest fan!

  3. Larry says:

    It scares me to to think what other horrible business decisions Mike has made if he made Rich Belsky his agent. This is the same Rich Belsky from the "Circuit" internet radio show and those god awful interviews on Card Player, right?