Raging Solo…Minus the Rage

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007, 8:41 pm

Since this was my last free day before I put on my hardhat and boots and descend into the mines, I decided to play tourist again and wander among the big casinos. Eight hours later, I think I might’ve overdone it. A bit.

Especially as I overdid it a bit yesterday as well. Somehow I didn’t see Caesar’s Palace the last time I was in Vegas, so that was the first place I hit. I checked out the hushed stillness of their poker room, but the silence was rudely broken by my stomach’s growling. I realized I hadn’t eaten in about 15 hours and so I went foraging.

When I walked past Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill I froze in my tracks. The day I had the worst hangover of my life I lay in bed, so very, very sick, watching a show about Flay getting the Mesa Grill ready for opening. Since then I’ve always equated that eatery with abject misery. Could I really pass up the chance to put that horror behind me? I also hadn’t eaten for 15 hours, so in I went.

I had a nice meal there, though the Mesa Burger wasn’t anything extra-special. The horseradish mustard was hot enough to clear the sinuses, but the fries, nicely seasoned as they were, disappointed. They specialize in margaritas, and since I think I’ve had maybe 2 margaritas in my life I put myself in the hands of Ben and Ashley, who were tending the bar. What they presented me with was pretty doggone good, though I’m not an expert on the subject.

I was told that Jennifer Love Hewitt was supposed to lunch there later that afternoon, and while I was tempted to stick around, my wanderlust won out. Not that I recall where I went after that…maybe back to the IP, where I played in their 2PM tournament. I brayed my way to the final table, playing such horrid poker that I wanted to put a bag over my head. I finished 10th, my shortstack skills doing me no good when my A-4 ran into A-J.

Feeling the need to wander again I moseyed over to the Bellagio. I looked in the poker room to see if Linda was dealing, and when I didn’t spot her I found a comfy chair in the sports book and watched Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Sitting in one place for more than two hours did my feet some good, as did the three beers I drank, and when I wandered back I searched the room again, and there she was. I almost didn’t recognize her without the cornrows she had in Aruba. I didn’t think I should go up and bother her at work, especially as I’m the bashful sort. Plus, I’d had a few. As you can probably tell from this pretty awful photo:

I planned on playing some poker after I got back to the IP, but I just didn’t have it in me. I blew forty bucks on slots in about fifteen seconds before I decided to head up to the room. I’m trying to get my body on Vegas time so I stayed up past midnight before I surrendered and got under the sheets.

After eight hours solid I was up and ready to head north. I’d never visited the Mirage before–I liked, very much. Visited Treasure Island before hopping across the road to the Wynn. Wow. Wowie wow-wow. I wasn’t just impressed, I was gobsmacked. It’s a beautiful place.

This might’ve been due to the fact that, again, I hadn’t eaten in about 15 hours. While skipping a few (hundred) meals might do me some good, I decided to allow myself some nourishment:

I drank my Pilsner Urquell in the Parasol Lounge, which was a pretty nice place to drink a beer in solitude and contemplate the Meaning of Life, and other weighty topics:

I reluctantly left the Wynn and headed toward the Venetian, which required me to walk a good distance outside. The sun felt good–at first. And then it started sucking the moisture out of my brain. Hydration, I think, will be important over the next seven weeks.

The Venetian was pretty awesome too, though I can’t see myself ever going for a gondola ride. Even in Venice, I don’t think I’d want to do that. Not for fun, anyway. To get from point A to point B, sure. But not for kicks.

OK, this has gone on far too long already. After that I headed back to the IP, and after checking my email saw that the WPT’s Mandalay Bay event was going on at, uh, Mandalay Bay. So why not head up there and see what I could see? I didn’t have a press pass and I wasn’t supposed to be covering it, but what does a poker reporter do? He heads for where the action is!

Thing is, I still hadn’t eaten. I thought about stopping to grab a bite at a half-dozen places, but I never did. I wanted to get there first–food could wait. And like the 40-watt bulb I am I didn’t decide that until I was past the Bally’s monorail stop. So I walked all the way up to the frickin’ MGM in the burning sun, crossed over to Excalibur, and rode the tram to Mandalay Bay. By now my brain was so parched I was only operating at about 50% of peak.

They have the tournament set up right in the middle of the casino, and the gawkers were out in force. One guy spotted Barry Greenstein sitting near the ropes and was so surprised he dragged his buddy over. I walked around, seeing lots of faces I recognized from TV and from Aruba. I guess I could’ve identified myself and maybe been allowed inside the ropes to do a little reporting of my own, but again, I was dehydrated and hungry. And my feet and back hurt. I was pretty much a mess.

And then, as I nearly completed my first circuit, I saw Isabelle Mercier sitting at a table with Erik Seidel and the Grinder. I didn’t swoon, I didn’t burst into joyful tears. I was cool. I smiled at her, but she didn’t smile back because I was behind her. I didn’t think now was a good time to introduce myself. Not with all that security around.

I took a couple of pics of her, none of which came out at all. Nor did the pic I took of World Champion Jamie Gold chomping down on a hoagie. I need to learn a bit about photography.

After that, I surrendered. I rode the tram back to Excalibur…and then couldn’t find out how best to get back to the MGM for the monorail. After twenty minutes of circling I said the hell with it and walked out into the sunlight. I was actually at the rear of Excalibur, so I couldn’t see the MGM to get my bearings. “Biggest goddam hotel in the world, I’m a half-mile away, and I can’t even SEE the goddam place,” I fumed. I did more fuming as I followed a half-dozen pretty Japanese women who walked in a staggered line and kept me from passing them as they zombie-marched along the sidewalk. I took Japanese in college, I wish I remembered how to say, “Get the (deleted) outta my way!”.

It took about 15 minutes hiking through MGM to the monorail stop, after a brief pause at the poker room to reminisce about the good time I had there during my visit two Decembers ago for the blogger get-together. Finally reached the monorail stop, the monorail finally arrived, I finally made it back to the IP, I finally got some food and drink in me. And then, I started writing this.

And now I’m done. Not sure what I’m gonna do the rest of the evening. But a trip to the Stratosphere is out. Oh, jeez, I didn’t even tell about my aborted attempt to walk to the Rio. Let’s just say, I don’t know if you can get there from here. And if you can, I wasn’t about to find out. Not when I was walking and saw a sign on the on-ramp for SALT LAKE CITY. Yeah, that can’t be good. I guess I’ll see enough of the Rio over the next 47 or so days.

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2 Responses to “Raging Solo…Minus the Rage”

  1. JamesAt15 Says:

    “Doke!” (doh-kay) would be good enough for “Get the hell outta the way!” in Japanese. Doubt you got to that one in your Japanese classes.

  2. Short-Stacked Shamus Says:

    Fun read, Gene. Good luck on the rest of the journey here.

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