Tiltboys: The Lost Episode
Update: Before reading this, you might want to check out F-Train's excellent prologue of the event.
I didn't play a single hand of poker on Friday night at the MGM. Not to say I wasn't in the mood to gamble. Hell, I tried to match Daddy drink for drink for a while there. That's gambling. Sweet, sweet Newcastle.
I showed right at 8 and table-hopped the room, greeting old faces and encountering new ones, such as fellow baseball geek DonkeyPuncher, Jaxia, Colombo, TrumpJosh and Falstaff. Oh, you'll be hearing from/about those kids later.
Soon enough, a big bear of a man appeared saying, "Let's just get this over with. I'm Daddy," which was the prelude to a fantastic night spent at the bar behind the poker room. I can't tell you how much I'd been looking forward to meeting the man after admiring his writing (and commentary) all these months. I was not disappointed. The conversation was wide-ranging and hilarious, even, dare I say, deep. It was my sincere pleasure.
The first bet I made was on a featherweight title bout. Word filtered down that F-Train was a bit of a Roshambo hustler. It smelled like a challenge. Or perhaps that was bacon. Regardless, since I personally suck at the game (AJ routinely beats me), I had to find someone to stand in my stead. Mrs. Head filled the bill.
I met Mrs. Head (and I'm going to call her 'R' from now on in the interest of anonymity and the fact that going through blog life as Mrs. Head is not an albatross I would wish on my worst enemy) in June and within 15 minutes she had taken her rightful place on my list of "Favorite People in the World." Delightful, fearless and, as they say, easy on the eyes. She stepped up, confident smile on her lips, steel and moxy in her gaze. She dispatched Train. Ruthlessly. And Iggy paid me ten bucks.
Somewhere between stupid drunk and really stupid drunk, I got the bright idea she should take on Phil Gordon. The Big Lug was holding court in the poker room, on Mega-Tilt, according to my sources, but still...this is Phil Gordon, Tiltboy, Master of the Black Art of Roshambo and Angle-Shoooter extraordinare. If R had any fear, it never showed. Armed with my fresh hundy, and another from her supportive hubby, she tapped Gordon on the shoulder.
He unfolded out of his chair, rising to his spectacular height. I found him more handsome in person, though I'm sorry to report to the ladies that he had freakishly small hands and feet. Still, he cut an impressive figure, his royal blue shirt the color of a perfect summer day.
Upon accepting the challenge, he immediately began to size up R. He firmly laid down the rules (one, two, shoot), attempting to plant his flag in the terrain (that's not a euphemism, people; it's a metaphor). He angled for best 3 of 5, hoping for a longer contest and better read. "No," our heroine stated, never batting an eyelash. "Two out of three."
The money was on the table. The poker room went quiet. They split the first two, random people rising and crowding around. It was drama. Pure and simple. Then, the deciding hand:
One. Two. Rock.
One. Two. Rock
One. Two. Rock.
Gordon goes with three straight rocks, a Level 12 play right out of Super System 2. There are only a handful of people in the world who can make that play, people. Fewer still who can beat it. Seeing it, the crowd let out a collective gasp, slowly turning their eyes and attention to R. It was only a second, but the tension made it seem like a lifetime.
Every time I replay this moment, the phrase "and the room exploded" comes to mind. I'm willing to concede that is perhaps an embellishment on my part. I am certain that I let out a massive "Whoop!" which was my first real exhale since the contest started. I know I wrapped her in a hug of jubilation and danced a giddy little jig while stacking my green chips, chips I graciously let April touch later as a peace offering, considering her titled state after she found out her intended was in the poker room and not a single one of us drunken ding dongs gave her a call.
I know I spent the next two hours on a gambling high of epic proportions and the next three days triumphantly re-telling the tale. Because it was, quite literally, the greatest gambling moment of my life.
Phil was gracious in defeat, though as he sat down, he said, "Don't blog this." Sorry Phil. You lose again.