Friday, June 23, 2006

Remember When?

With all that's been going on--and I'm talking less about my mental state than I am about logistical headaches such as moving and taking a Euro vacation--the WPBT gathering has sort of snuck up on me. It has just been in the last week that I've begun to fixate on it, goading people to come, thinking of a bounty, planning my wardrobe down to the very millisecond. It's only two weeks away and my late transition into Full "I'm Going To Vegas!" Giddiot Mode reminds me of how I felt a little over a year ago when I was anticipating my first such gathering.

Back then, I started running a weekly forecast of the trip SEVEN WEEKS ahead of time. Yes, I was treating it very much like Christmas morning. Since many of you will be popping your WPBT cherry (are there any who are coming to Vegas for the first time?), I thought I would re-print here some of my previous "advice" posts. Well, and one just because it still might be the funniest moment in Vegas history. So, even though it's like cheating, Enjoy!


Originally posted April 29, 2005

How to Deal with Hangovers

Stay home. Even if you don't drink, you will. It's like when I stay with my Midwestern relatives for a few days and suddenly start saying things like "sodie pop." It is inevitable. The only sure way to avoid a swollen cerebral cortex and a pissed off liver is to not leave the house.

Drink Non-Alcoholic Fluids. Eventually, you are going to reach a point where further alcohol consumption results in one of two things:
1. The saturation point where not even back-to-back-to-back Irish Car Bombs can move your drunk forward, or
2. Find yourself curled up on the cold tile floor of casino bathroom in a puddle of godknowswhat.

The key is recognizing that time. And mixing in some water. Or Gatorade. Flush out the system. Pee a lot. Also have plenty of these beverages available for the first thing in the morning. Futhermore, the weather in Vegas can be oppressively hot, akin to spending a weekend in Dom DeLuise's armpit. Hydrate, people. The heat/alcohol can dry you out in a hurry. Take steps and you won't wake up looking like Iggy Pop.

Don't forget to eat. You will be surprised how the simple tasks of daily life fail to translate in the land of round-the-clock gambling and drinking. At some point, you will surely exclaim, "Holy Shit! I haven't eaten today!" and you'll grab a hot dog or a bowl of chili or some jalapeno poppers. DON'T! Try getting a nice foundation in the morning (breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you know), but stay away from the greasy stuff. Breads, cereals and muffins are preferable (the judges will also accept Krispy Kreme). And at some point during the afternoon/evening, take an hour or 90 minutes away from the table/bar to get a proper meal in you. I'd also recommend avoiding the 4 a.m. stampede to the cafe for three-egg omelets, but then I'd be a hypocrite, because I LOVE THAT PART.

Sleep it off. Face it, you aren't going to sleep much. But a well-timed nap can do wonders. Don't go too long though, Van Winkle. I find an hour is about perfect. Make sure someone is available to bring you back to consciousness.

Pain relievers. Anyone with experience in these matters can tell you the best pain relief for a morning hangover is a hit or six off the water pipe. If that's not your thing, Tylenol works too. Wait until after breakfast, though.

Hair of the Dog. Oh precious bloody marys. You are so fine and delicious. I find 4-6 of these bad boys after breakfast to be the perfect tonic. There's a crash, though. And that's a good time for the nap.


Originally posted May 6, 2005

A quick tour around the blogosphere reveals a deep gurgling of excitement, a low, but unmistakable, rumbling that forecasts an eruption of Vesuviusian proportions. And also, not surprisingly, some concerns.

Well, that's what I'm here for, to alleviate those worries. Nobody will be nervous about how they are perceived in Vegas after I remove all doubt that I am the biggest idiot on the planet and worthy of copious heapings of scorn. You're welcome.

Today's (main) topic:

Tipping in Las Vegas

Don't try this at home:

Trent: "Listen why don't you bring a single malted Glengary for me and my boy Mike here, and if you tell the bartender to go easy on the water then this 50 cent piece has your name on it"
Mike: "What an asshole"
Trent: "Baby that was money"
Mike: "I can't believe what an asshole you are"
Trent: "What are you talking about she smiled"
Mike: "She was smiling at what an asshole you are"
Trent: "She was smiling at how money I was, what I did with her"
Mike: "Can we just get out of here"
Trent: "Why do you want to get out of here, the honey-baby's bringing us a cocktail"
Mike: "What are you nuts, you really think she's coming back here"
Trent: "Baby, I know she's coming back here. Didn't you here what she said 'you shouldn't leave here without getting something for free' she wants to party mike she wants to"

I'm pretty sure that only works in the movies, no matter how goddamn charming you are. It's not like these Vegas cocktail waitresses are schleping drinks to try to meet Mr. Wonderful, especially if Mr. Wonderful is an egomaniacal, if hilarious, scenester.

Still, God Bless Double Down.

Now that we know what NOT to do (and you can add wearing a suit with a skinny tie to the list), let's go through some tipping advice.

Cocktail Waitresses: Nothing is more painful than staring an empty bottle/glass while seated at a table. The tongue starts to swell, the brain's endorphins start to scream "MORE!" and there are no ridiculously-attired barmaids in sight. The solution is to make a great first impression. See those red chips? Toss her one or two when she arrives with your initial drink. Bribery will get you everywhere. Flash her your pearly whites just to drive the point home. It says, "I'm rich, I'm happy and I might be totally gullible." At this point, you can assess her mood toward you. If she's harried, let the money do the talking. If she seems especially grateful, be sure to further implant yourself in her neurons with something along the lines of, "There's more where that came from if you keep 'em comin' steady." Get her name. Shout it gleefully every time she comes around, sprinkling the greeting with complimentary suck-uppery. As long as she remains amused, you're gold. And never parched.

Poker Dealers: I don't think anyone needs any advice here. As scholars of the game, we know a dealer toke and I don't think it's going out on a limb to suggest the group is more generous than your average bear.

Blackjack Dealers: Always a fine line. Table karma is a powerful tool. An instant bet for a new dealer is often an excellent investment. A lively dealer with a solid rap and genuine interest in keeping a good vibe will always get some chips from me, regardless of my results. On the other hand, when the pit boss brings in the coolers from the Asian Bullpen, those hard-line dealers with fewer facial expressions than an Easter Island statue, I'll tend to keep the tipping to a minimum. Of course, getting those types of dealers is always an opportunity to try and break their facade. A full table of drunkards trying to get Ling from China to utter something more than a grunt is always good for a fiver if successful.

Another aspect is that many casinos pool their tips for dealers. I always ask. If they do, I tend to tip more equally across the board, though that part is based more on whether I'm winning or not.

Craps Dealers: A craps table begs a party. There is no game in Vegas that can produce so much adrenaline, so much shouting. It's a great rush. I tip more liberally at craps than any other game, if only for the opportunity to yell out, "TWO-WAY YO!" something I don't get to do enough of in daily life. Another fun one is to ask a female croupier if she wants a "hard four." They'll almost invariably reply that they prefer a "hard eight."

Other: What the fuck is with the tip jar at the coffee bar? Are you shitting me? You want my change because you turned around and filled a cup? Some of them don't even do that! They give you a cup and you fill it yourself! You people are not waitresses. Your wages are not taxed based on a percentage of sales. What a scam. And yes, I once worked at Starbucks.

So there you have it, several more useless paragraphs based on a flimsy premise written at a juvenile level. I'm nothing if not consistent.


Originally posted on May 13, 2005

Things to Do in Vegas When You're Drinking Yourself to Death

It has come to my attention that we will have several first-timers in the fair city of Sin, so I'm here to offer a list of "must do's" and "bests."

Walk The Strip: Few things are as liberating as rolling down Las Vegas Blvd. with a drink in each hand. I do this every time I go. I stop in at the various casinos for a drink or some quick table action. I people watch. Get a little exercise. Get propositioned for every imaginable act/substance.

Some of my favorite places to stop:

Barbary Coast: Old school casino is my favorite place for blackjack. Centrally-located and they feature two-deck games with as little as a $10 minimum, even on weekends. It's always a party in there and the dealers are fantastic. Last time I was there, some incredibly drunk guy was giving me $100 chips to bet.
New York, New York: Best greyhounds on the planet, thanks to the freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. Also the best collection of restaurants in a single casino. Special shout-outs to the carnitas burrito at Gonzalez y Gonzalez and the authentic Irish pub smack in the middle of the casino.
The Mirage: Has lost its luster in recent years, but their Lagoon Saloon features the city's best bloody mary. Get it spicy, you big baby.
Caesar's Palace: For you shoppers/metrosexuals/people who brought wives, The Forum Shoppes are the first place to go.
Paris: This hotel has a great outdoor cafe to sit and drink in the sun and watch the masses go by. As an inveterate people-watcher, I've passed many an afternoon here. It also has quite the wine list--so I'm told--for you vino-philes.

Nightlife: I hate nightclubs. Gimme a noisy pub with a killer jukebox over a dark dance joint with rib cage-rattling techno music any day of the week. As such, I have next to nothing for you here. I DO like the Double-Down Saloon, an off-strip dive bar near the Hard Rock, though I liked it better 5 years ago. Last time I went, it was a little too "scene-y" for me. I have been to "The Beach," an off-strip nightclub that is tolerable, thanks to areas where you can hear yourself think and an around-the-clock sportsbook upstairs. And I can see the lure of The Ghost Bar, located at the top of The Palms.

Best Places for Breast Implants: To see them, not to purchase them. The centrally-located bars at the Hard Rock and The Palms. Again, people-watching opportunities up the ying-yang. I'm especially partial to the ultra-wealthy shriveled-up toads with back hair and a hooker on each arm. Also, I suppose some strip clubs might fall into this category, but I can't confirm, nor deny, any particular knowledge on that score.

Best Place to Pass Out: I'm not sure, but I DO know a bathroom stall at the New Frontier isn't it.

Best Looking Cocktail Waitress/Revealing Outfit Combination: Rio. Ah, serendipity.

Best Show: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! How the fuck would I know?

Best Fine Dining: Well, I've only been to two of your upper-crusty Vegas food troughs. Aqua, at The Bellagio, was unbelievable. Like being drunk on food. Like an edible orgasm (that's meant to sound appetizing, even if it doesn't). Delmonico's, an Emeril Legase joint in The Venetian, was excellent, though not quite as good as Aqua. In both, the service is impeccable, far above any standard I hold for wait staff. Take you wife/husband/partner to either of these places and you'll reap great reward.

Best Day Trip: I suppose it's Hoover Dam. Or the helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. Again, I have no idea. Neither has to do with gambling or drinking.

Best Pool: Hard Rock. Oh Sweet Lord.

Best Buffet: Rio wins this one as well. Often a ridiculous line to enter, but a few dozen drunken railbirds might be able to clear it out in a hurry.

Best Wedding Chapel: Don't do it. Get on a bus to Albuquerque. Now.

Please note this is only one man's opinion and despite that one man being a BAD-ASS motherfuckin' card player, your mileage may vary.


Originally posted on Dec. 14, 2005

As mentioned, most of the evening, I was 'round the corner at the bar. I like that bar. It's where I first met most of the bloggers six months ago. They have Newcastle. The bartenders are quick with service and tolerant of the bloggers' desire to tilt most everyone. Some were serenaded, some were flattered, all were engaged at levels to which they are probably unaccustomed and performed admirably. Maybe because, tilt efforts aside, bloggers tip like motherfuckers.

At one point, I was standing there with Chad, across from--and facing--the bar. TrumpJosh, whom I'd met earlier and had filled me in on the meaning and origin of "Slainthe" (Gaelic for "cheers") was talking to Rini. When all of a sudden...

People falling is funny. America's Home videos has been on...what?...15 years. But on that show, you see the set up and you know what's coming. Uh oh. It's a pinata! Someone's gonna catch one in the junk! In the case of Josh, there was no warning. One minute, he was there, his left elbow leaning on the bar. The next, his feet were above his head. When his legs went out from under him, he grabbed at the bar with his free hand, but missed, the attempt only serving to put him more off balance. With his other hand, he cradled his beer. His full pint of beer. Impressively, he managed to hold onto it, saving a shattered glass cleanup on Aisle 4. More impressively, he managed to throw 12 of the 16 ounces right into his own mug.

There's that beat after something like this happens. Uh, what's the protocol here? That was the funniest thing I've seen in my entire life, but...uh...maybe he's hurt. I stepped to give him a hand back up, getting there late, as his feet where already under him. He was embarrassed, but provided insight anyway,

"I just fell and threw my beer in my own face."

Aaaaaaaaaaand...there it is. Chad and I doubled over immediately. There was no way to stop it. I'm aware this is quite possibly one of those "had to be there" moments. But let me try to illustrate Just. How. Funny. it was.

The next morning, I found Chad and drizz in the IP casino. I took one look at the former and said, "Dude, the first thing I thought of this morning was Josh falling and I started laughing all over again." Not only did Chad confess to doing the exact same thing, but we then proceeded to laugh uncontrollably about it AGAIN. It would not be the last time either. So, for this trip, Otis was definitely off the hook.


It's not about the poker, people. It's about the people, people. And the best memories you'll take from the upcoming weekend will not be about raking pots, but about those unplanned, spontaneous moments, of which there will be many.


At 12:04 PM, Blogger Falstaff said...

That is still the funniest goddamn thing I saw my whole last trip. Funnier than Change100 at the MGM Grand, funnier than Red Shirt's face when I caught my gutshot, funnier than...

No, the funniest thing was G-Rob weeping in the center aisle of the Excal poker room after losing 13 consecutive wheel spin prop bets.

But josh falling was a close second.

At 12:20 PM, Blogger peacecorn said...

I laugh every time I hear this story. Hard. I owe Josh a beer for all that fun.

At 12:34 PM, Blogger Gamecock said...

I knew exactly what was coming there and yet I couldn't control my laughter. One of the funniest stories, ever.

At 12:40 PM, Blogger F-Train said...

I gotta agree with Falstaff. Watching an irate G-Rob get up a dozen times in a row to pay off wheel spin prop bets was hilarious.

But maybe it was only because I didn't witness "The Fall" (though I did witness ACH's fall at the Mandalay sports book Sunday morning, where he managed to stick an impressive double-knee landing, carrying two drinks, and not spill a drop).

See you soon, Joe!

At 2:07 PM, Blogger Blinders said...

I'm popping my cherry with this one. Can't wait! Thanks for getting the chatter going, I was a little concerned about the lack of hype so far. Anyway, hope to see all you guys there. Mind hookin me up with a link? I'm a so-cal blogger. I asked a while back.

At 2:10 PM, Blogger Donkeypuncher said...

Fuck yeah. Let the countdown begin!

The Hard Rock pool is sooo freakin' sweet. Gotdamn. (Now picturing the top coming off a fine honey as she came out the waterslide. Heavenly.)

Josh with the face full of stuff. Now that was a moment!

At 10:27 AM, Blogger iamhoff said...

Joe, thanx for the words of encouragement on the job hunt. There's been a few nibbles...maybe something will hit. In the meanwhile...

Not my Vegas cherry, but my WPBT cherry. I am sooooo looking forward to this. Just gotta send dear and patient GF off to the Forum shops and somebody bring me a double!! Cannot. Freaking. Wait!

At 3:12 PM, Anonymous Bob said...

I was in Vegas in May and we ate at Delmonicos. Somewhat disappointing, definitely keep away from the fish, two of the women in the group had some, uh, issues after eating. That's what they get for getting fish at a steakhouse, I suppose.

At 5:58 PM, Blogger "The Rake" said...

Dang Spaker - I wanted to read a blog not a book!

Great job!

At 12:47 PM, Blogger Joaquin "The Rooster" Ochoa said...

Asian Bullpen, those hard-line dealers with fewer facial expressions than an Easter Island statue, I'll tend to keep the tipping to a minimum.

The Bracelet knows this girl.

At 1:31 PM, Blogger Drizztdj said...

Slightly overweight eastern european chicks are also fun to tilt while dealing PAI GOW!!!

At 11:45 PM, Blogger Veneno said...

A cherry popping for me too! Weeeeeeeeeeeee

I don't drink often, but I'm soooo ready...

The piano bar at NY/NY is pretty cool.

"The Beach"..oh yeah! Guys in whip cream to the ladies...good times... buffet hands down...

Can't wait!

At 12:31 AM, Blogger trumpjosh said...

I will be there with beer in face.


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