Hanging in Commerce
"Something retarded happened."
This is a sentiment which follows me around wherever I go. However, in this case, I was not the subject of Al's observation. Rather it was a $4/$8 Hold 'Em table. It was strewn with so many $1 chips--and a $5 bill--that you could scarcely find a sliver of green felt. Capped on every street. Yet, the exposed cards--four of them--were a Who's Who of crap: Ten-high, two clubs. Six people were in on the turn action and they were not pleased. With anything. They argued loudly over who's action it was. They got in each other's faces, demanded respect and bleated about table changes. The dealer, whom Al observed was milliseconds away from having his head explode, pleaded, cajoled and sighed, alternately leaning forward to promt players and collapsing back in his chair in mute surrender. It was a train wreck. Finally, the river and more trash. Before a single bet fell, the loudest of the complainers rifled his cards at the dealer, slammed his fist on the table and shouted what I can only assume was an expletive in a foreign language. I resisted reminding him of the "English Only" rule. One of the quieter players--karma, baby--dragged the pot with two-pair, tens and sixes. As we walked away amazed at what we'd just witnessed, Al, ever the humanitarian, said, "Good thing it wasn't a split pot. That dealer wouldn't have made it."
Welcome to Commerce Casino.
My smartest play of the evening was deciding to valet my car after spending a good 15 minutes--15 minutes at the end of a two-hour trip, during most of which I had to go to the bathroom--driving around the convoluted and utterly jam-packed parking lot. Yep, I'm a genius like that. Club me over the head repeatedly and I'll eventually duck.
The place is massive, a maze of rooms--both large and small--jam-packed with poker players. The riffling of chips like a symphony of a gazillion crickets. My first stop was the ballroom where the tournament was being held. It was empty as all the players were on break, but at least I had a primary surveillance point. Plan B? The bar.
Imagine my complete (lack of) surprise to find the bloggers there. Crowded into a back table were fhwrdh (whose blog name I can now concisely pronounce, thus saving me several minutes a day trying to figure out what the hell it means), the Las Vegas Vegas Crew, Grubby, Felicia and Glenn, HDouble, StudioGlyphic, Bill Rini and, naturally, leading the charge La Familia CantHang.
Some (like...um...my wife) might find this an awkward situation. I have no real connection to these folks other than a few comments on their blogs and a well-spent $3.30. More than half of them had no idea my blog even existed. Doesn't matter to me. I'm comfortable most anywhere and, at its most basic, there was a common thread of poker. That I found other threads was not surprising. And this is very quickly veering off the intended path. So...
I walked to the table with my pint of Newcastle, clapped a hand on the shoulder of America's Wingman and it was on. Introductions around the table, various looks of un-recognition and I took a seat between Al and fhwrdh (I should mention I can type that name from memory). I had an interesting talk with the latter (interesting to me; he might differ) about our various corners of Southern California living. As a Liverpool fan, I had to make a wager with Al on the outcome of the Carling Cup final (a bottle of Ketel One vs. a Bottle of I'll Give You One Guess), inspiring a round of Chelski songs. I had arrived too late to see my investment in the tourney, as Al had already gone out. He and Glenn related the details and I was happy my man went out swinging.
Regarding before, I MAY have been mildly intimidated at meeting Felicia. Of course, she didn't know me from Adam and she has her reputation as being plain-spoken, perhaps even blunt (two chracteristics, I should mention, I generally admire in people). So when her first comment to me was to ask if I was gay, I was far from offended. I'm not sure she was entirely convinced that I'm not, but you can't blame her. How many straight guys wear lime green turtlenecks to casinos?
What can I say? It's a good color for me.
The table soon broke, thanks to HDouble and Felicia heading back to the tournament and, stop me if you've heard this one before, the bar running out of Southern Comfort. I had managed to be the recipient of Al's generosity and suck down a single SoCo before this calamatous event. Trying to return the favor, I asked Al what he drank if no SoCo was avaiable. "Nothing," was the reply. The man has a monogamous relationship with his booze.
More to come...