I Think I’m Gonna Write A Book

Saturday, June 30th, 2007, 7:51 pm

And this is gonna be the title–Bitches!! Hittin’ Dem Quads At Video Poker. Here’s what chapter 4 looks like:

That was a tidy little score, about $125. Which got me revved up after a rough start to the day.

I had the day off and rode into the Rio with Dan around 1pm. As I walked across the parking lot I noticed something–it was hot. I don’t mean your typical Vegas-in-summer hot, I mean it felt like I was on the planet Mercury. It was HOT hot, I mean to say.

I took the shuttle over to Caesar’s to begin my wanderings. I wanted to play some poker, but I also had to take care of some things. Namely, I needed to get a pair of jeans. I only brought 2 pair (figuring that I’d wear shorts most days and figuring wrong) and the 2-year-old pair I brought were starting to get seriously worn. Not wanting to pull a Calistri on the floor I figured I’d wander down to the mall down by the Wynn and then cross over and maybe play some poker there.

The first mistake I made was deciding to eat at Caesar’s buffet for lunch. I was very hungry, I had a coupon, and after five weeks I wanted something other than a burger or wrap or chicken tenders. So a buffet seemed at the time a good choice. It wasn’t bad–I had peeled shrimp and some nice penne alfredo with veggies–but it wasn’t great either. I ate until I was full but not stuffed, and that’s when I realized my error–as soon as I got up from the table I felt sleepy. And it’s not like I could just curl up on the floor and take a nap.

So I decided to walk it off and head down to the mall. Get the blood pumping, let my tummy settle, and cross the only task off my to-do list. Good plan.

Or so it seemed, until I stepped outside.

It was stupid hot out there. Blinding, withering sunshine beat down on me from the second I stepped outside. I ducked into the Mirage to give myself some temporary relief before continuing my journey. I like to walk. I like walking the Strip. But by the time I reached the mall I felt awful. I was tired and thirsty and pretty much miserable. Not the best frame of mind for clothes shopping.

But all I needed was a lousy pair of jeans. I went to Macy’s, they had the kind I wanted in the right size, but I didn’t like the color. OK, I try one of the other stores. But I didn’t take into account how big the place is. I’m walking and walking and walking and thinking about how much gambling time I’m wasting walking around a goddam mall. I can do this in Pittsburgh! I can’t play $3-6 donkeypoker in Pittsburgh!

I turn a corner, looking for Dillard’s, and instead I see…Macy’s. WTF? I didn’t just walk in a circle, did I? No…I didn’t take any turns. Is this a mall or a Mobius strip? Turns out that there are TWO Macy’s in that mall. I guess with all the mergers and consolidations a former store became a Macy’s and they just kept both locations open. That’s when I realized I was really under the weather. I bought the jeans, stuffed them in my backpack, and bought a bottle of Gatorade. I drank the whole thing before I walked across the road to the Wynn.

Ah, what a beautiful property that is. So cool and elegant and relaxing. I felt better the second I walked inside…though the fact that it was about 70 degrees cooler inside helped. I went to the poker room but it was a zoo, with nearly all the games no-limit, and I wasn’t in any state to play in that sort of game. The Gatorade refreshed me enough that I felt thirsty for a more civilized beverage, so I grabbed a seat in a bar, put $100 in a video poker machine, and ordered a Sam Adams.

I played a few minutes (winning about ten bucks) when a woman wearing a suit and a nameplate asked if I was a guest of the hotel. “Uh, no,” I said, feeling a bit embarrassed about that. She pulled out a pad and asked”Could I have your first name and your last initial please?” she asked so very, very briskly. Now, the libertarian in me said “Will all due respect, why the hell do you need my first name and initial?”, but the libertarian in me was exhausted and parched and just wanted to relax a little bit. Plus, hey, I’m in a casino–maybe they do with with all the high rollers! Who put a whole hundred bucks in a video poker machine! So I surrendered the information, she had me sign the paper she set before me, and then she tore it off and set the piece of paper atop the bill for my Sam Adams. And that is the story of how my beer was comped. Thrilling stuff, I know.

The video poker machine treated me well, giving me three flushes and trips a couple of times. And then I was dealt three treys, held ’em, and their brother arrived to make a quartet. I stuck to my system–when I hit quads, I cash out–and I happily walked away with $145 of Steve Wynn’s money. Which is about 4 quadrillionths of his orchid budget.

And then I walked back out into the sun. Good Lord. I hail from northern climes and I prefer fall to summer, but usually I can take the heat. But yesterday was sick. I walked from the Wynn to the Venetian and found their poker room an even bigger zoo, what with their Deep-Stack tournaments going on. So that wasn’t an option. I pressed on, heading back to the Mirage. Which meant walking right along the road, close enough that I could feel the heat radiating from the engines of the cars and buses a few feet away, and the whole time under the merciless glare of the sun.

When I finally crossed the street and stagged up to the hotel the sun glinted in a strange way off some leaves and for a second I thought was about to bump into someone coming down the path. I peered out from behind my Ray-Bans and saw there was no one there. Great, now I was seeing things. Though I was lucid enough to savor the irony that I was seeing things while walking to the Mirage.

Their poker room was less a zoo and they had the hee-haw $3-6 game I was looking for…but my batteries were running low. Instead I decided to go back to Caesar’s and figured that if Dan or Craig called to say they were heading home I’d be that much closer to grabbing the shuttle back to the Rio. I went to the poker room, got on their $3-6 list, and about 20 minutes I took my seat.

I wanted to have a good time. I wanted to chill, see some flops, have a few beers. Look, I’ve been covering the frickin’ World Series of Poker for five weeks now–about the last thing I want to do is have to THINK about poker. I just wanted to have some fun.

Which was a challenge at this table. First, I ended up in the 1-seat, my least favorite. Second, in the 2-seat was a woman who was, well, crazy. Either she was off her meds or she’d doubled up, but she was a non-stop chatterbox. And the stuff coming out of her mouth had me wishing I’d brought along my noise-canceling headphones. The dealer would spread the flop and she’d say, “OK, that’s the Ace of Clubs and the Three of Spade and the Eight of Clubs…have you noticed that every time the flop is all the same color? And I think Three of Spade and Eight of Clubs were there on the last flop? Remember, remember, I think it was…”

Come to think of it that was one of her most lucid ramblings. She went on a long soliloquy about how the Kings in the deck symbolize Adam and the Queens symbolize Eve and that must mean that poker itself symbolizes the Garden of Eden. I had no fucking clue how to respond to that, nor how to answer her question, “How do you think the world will end? By Fire, or by Ice?” I thought to say that, a la The Sopranos, no matter how it ends you don’t hear it coming. Instead I kept my mouth shut and she said, as if coming to a momentous decision, “I think it will end by…ice.” Which didn’t seem like a savvy bet, what with it being 130 degrees outside, but maybe she’s just a contrarian.

She totally tilted this guy (I think from Colombia) by winning like 47 hands in a row from him. They guy went through about $500 in a $3-6 game in about 3 hours. She either hit a monster when he was bluffing or sucked out with two pair on the river to crack his Aces. I have to admit that gobbled a bit of his stack when he paid me off when I turned a flush and then he check-raised me when I had the nut straight. Not a very lucky player, but not a very good one either.

There were two Michigan fans at the table and we talked football a bit, and then an attractive blonde with considerable cleavage sat down to make it a more personable crowd. The crazy lady to my left explained that she’d been up for 36 hours (which either explained her behavior or confirmed that she needed her meds) and she took to making binoculars of her fingers and staring at the flop. I’m not kidding about that–she’d lean forward and stare at the board with her homemade digital optics and call out the cards. Incorrectly, some of the time.

I was up, then down. I lost two pots to a corporate-looking gent with gray hair and pinstriped shirt when he flopped a wheel when I had A-K and another when he made a runner-runner straight to beat my set of Jacks. I was down to around $45, but I kept a smile on my face and song in my heart, confident my luck would turn.

And it did. I started chipping up thanks to flops that actually hit me, and before too long I was back to even. Then I won a pretty big pot for $3-6. It was a limpy table and I decided to raise with K-Q. I think six people called and The flop came Q-10-4. There was a bet, I raised, and three others called. The turn was a King. Gave me two pair, but when the guy wearing the Michgan baseball cap led out I knew I he had the straight. The others called and I called too, figuring I’d win a huge pot if I caught.

And on the river, the most beautiful King of Hearts you ever did see. Big Blue bet, the others called, and that’s when I raised. And despite lots of moans and groans, everyone else called as well. I showed my boat and the Michigan guy rapped the table and said, “Nope, I didn’t like that King”. The dealer pushed me a huge pot…and then pushed over three big stacks of chips I didn’t even see. Took awhile to stack ’em. I was whistling the whole time.

Players left, players arrived. There wasn’t much interest in $3-6 and a couple of guys sat down for just a few hands while their $2-5 NL tables were ready. The crazy lady finally surrendered and took off to get some sleep, and a guy waiting for his buddies to meet him for dinner sat down to blow off some chips before he met them. He was raising hands blind and re-raising with junk, talking a ton and having a good time, and that’s when I realized I was starting to turtle. I didn’t want to lose the chips I’d won, which isn’t good, and I made a disgusting mistake when I raised on the button with pocket 7s and folded after there was a raise and re-raise back to me. The flop brought no help, but both guys checked, and then a seven hit on the turn. Would’ve won a nice pot. Would’ve won a nice pot after I folded Q-10 before the flop and would’ve made a boat by the turn.

I was tired. I’d gone easy on the beer, drinking water first and then actually ordering a hot chocolate after seeing a guy across from me drinking one. It was fan-tastic. I definitely recommend the cocoa at Caesar’s. Get it with the whipped cream.

Our cocktail waitress was wearing the requisite short skirt, but maybe it was a bit shorter than actually required. She took my one order, turned, and through the notch cut in the corner of her skirt I (and everyone else) could see that she was wearing peach-colored panties. I will miss Las Vegas.

Craig called, he’d been playing out at Red Rock and was hungry. So we agreed to meet at the Carnegie Deli at the Mirage for a bite. I cashed out $160 to the good, making the day a profitable (if exhausting) one. For the third time that day I walked over to the Mirage and we got a seat and swapped war stories. I ordered the Reuben, and when it arrived…I didn’t know what to make of it. What was sitting on the plate looked like a football covered with 2 pounds of Swiss cheese. I almost felt embarrassed as the ladies sitting next to us gasped at how gigantic it was. I think I ate a quarter of it before surrendering. We both got cheesecake…I took half of that home too. I can probably get three more meals out of it.

So that was my day off. I don’t know that I’ll get another completely free day like that the rest of the Series. And that might be a good thing. I’m bushed. I need a day to decompress. And there’s nothing like spending a relaxing afternoon in the Amazon Room with 3,000 people.

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