Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Vegas 2008. Strap in.

Flew out Thursday night. Late decision. Was going to drive. Good thing I didn't. Which will become clear. Nice hand, sir.

Easy flight, up and down, 40 minutes in all, and empty taxi line. Fucking economy. Quick shower and two beers, which are Bud Lights because I'm sick and can't taste anything. I'm sick every year when I go to Vegas. Light this time around, just a head cold, but no taste buds. Off to the Geisha Bar.

Double greyhound to start. Joanada buys me a shot of tequila. First thing I taste in days. Unpleasant. But my head feels better.

DP is wearing a suit. He looks very handsome.

"He's out-gaying you this year." --F-Train.

Wearing a suit is less gay than not betting the Pai Gow bonus. Train calls me a Cooler then hits a full house. Still no money on the bonus. "It's a sucker bet," he says.

No shit.

Meet Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot. Nice guy. Cheap with the drink-buying, though. Betty is there and totally sober. This puts me on tilt. Lewey Award, I think, goes to BuddyDank who is, "looking but not seeing." He and Jo each hit a penny slot for over a grand. Looks like that profit went right to the Geisha Bar. Or the gastroenteroligist. I meet PirateLawyer who doesn't say 'eh' once. Not once.

I am not wearing a scarf.

April interrupts my conversation and makes me play craps. I lose $200. So I go play poker to get it back. Not so much. Tough table and they won't let me move to the blogger table where Grubby keeps stacking Grubbette. I lose $30 and go home to sleep.

Four hours later I awaken from perfect, dreamless, alcohol-induced delirium to go to the bathroom. As I return to bed, Bobby Bracelet texts me that he's in town. I briefly debate ignoring him for more sleep, but take two Tylenol and get dressed instead. How could I not? He's sporting a beard. Time to make Beard Money. First, Huevos Rancheros and then Blackjack.

I take $80 Beard Money from the table. Leave with DP to go play poker. 11 a.m. tournament at MGM. $65 buy-in. We swap 10% and are seated right next to each other to start. Push Fest. 2000 chips. 20 minute levels. Antes kick in at 3rd level. I double up with AQ v. QT. Bust another player with AJ. I check-raise on AA6 flop. He doesn't believe me. "You tried to tell him." -- DP

I bust another player and have nearly 8K at Level 2. I get greedy. Player to my left limp-pushes. I make loose call with AQ. Kings are good. Down to 6K. At Level 3, I raise another limper with JJ. He calls. Axx board and I c-bet. He calls. I check it down. Kings are good.

Fucking limping Kings.

I'm down to 2800 at the break. 300/600/75 when we come back. I more than double on first hand back with AK. Double again with QQ v. 77. Back in it.

116 players. Nine paid. I lose a race with JJ to AQ and am down to 6K. Same orbit, I gamble with KJs. Turn the jack against A9. El Doble. I push next hand from button and get folds. I push next hand with 55. SB insta-calls in a way that illustrates he's annoyed at my pushy tendencies. AQ no good. By the second break, we're down to 11.

We save buy-ins for 11th and 10th. That speeds things up. Down to six, chop proposed. Ten Seat wants to play. His M is about 5. One Seat has an M of about 9. Everybody else in the 1-to-3 range. Short stack open-pushes and Ten Seat calls with AQ. Shortie has 93. A3x flop. Blank turn. 3 river. "Want to chop now?" --Everybody.


$650 for everybody. $900 for One Seat. Deal.


DP gets his buy-in back. I'm his Horse. He didn't stay to watch, though. They're all at Hooters. Rooster stayed. "I'd never chop." --Rooster.

I know. You have too much heart.

Off to Hooters. DP announces my arrival from thirty feet away. "There's my Horse!" He has a tie on today. drizz has joined Bobby, Chad and DP. They're gambling. I stand there five minutes before I realize they are playing Three Card Poker and not blackjack. Dealer Kelly distracted me a bit.


I play Three Card Poker. They teach me. "Just play it blind." --Bracelet

I crush the table.

This game is easy!

Dealer Christie gives us fist pounds. We tip her egregiously well because she reveals our cards like we ask her to: slowly. More drama that way. Also more screaming. I leave with $200 profit to take a nap because Emet is coming and I don't want to be sloppy drunk when she arrives in two hours. Ironic.

I get two hours of awesome sleep. Phone rings. Emet says four words and it cuts out. I call her back. Same. But I get the gist. I step into the hallway in my undies. There she is, screaming down the hall. It is now 6:45. She got off work at 12. She's been drinking.


Dinner at Nine Fine Irishman. We go with something called the "Sausage Pail" to start. Breaded Irish sausage, grilled spicy sausage in a big ass pail. Mustard and curry dipping sauces. Unbelievable. #2 on the Weekend Food List. Fish & Chips followed, washed down with Smithwick's.

Back to MGM for Sportsbook Bar shenanigans. Emet meets everyone. Surprise appearance by Human Head. That was awesome. I meet bayne who regales berates me for a PLO hand that happened two years ago. 32 oz. of beer for $9. And only $5 when you refill the glass. Elizabeth shows with still-bearded Bracelet and she is finally assured I am not a fictional character.

Have SoCo with Al. A triple. At least. I split mine with Emet. Initiation rights and all.

I behave badly. I apologize. Sincerely. I was drinking 32 oz. beers.

Unable to find a cheap Pai Gow table at MGM, we go with the time-honored Four Corners move. We pass three unnamed bloggers on the bridge to The Trop. I know what they are doing out there. I say, "How's the action at The Trop?" They laugh the type of laugh that verifies I know what they were doing out there.

We take a short loss on blackjack at The Trop and go to the Excal for craps. We're getting hammered and my $200 buy-in is down to $60 when a guy goes on a heater. I forget what what he looked like. Oh yeah. "C'mon gray sweatshirt!" --Emet. Over and over again. There is a cowgirl at the table wearing a vest with mohair fringe that is the exact same copper-ish color as her actual hair and we wonder if they are one and the same. But even "the girl who asks too many questions" doesn't ask that one. By the time gray sweatshirt is done, we're up to $300. Color up.

The last stop on the journey is New York, New York for Pai Gow. Those late night training sessions really paid their dividends. And Emet wondered why I always broke out the cards when we got home from the bar. Because there's only one way to play the game and we were definitely in the BAC range to do so. Unfortunately, our dealer was a prick, capital P. Really? You've never had to deal to drunk people? Maybe it's time for a new profession if it bothers you so much that tourists have fun. Highlight was Emet's straight flush.

She set her hand correctly. That pays 50-1 on the Bonus, F-Train.

Cashed out another profit. I'm good at gambling. Bed.


Saturday morning. We run into BG and Head at breakfast and invite them over to the Sportsbook where we will spend the afternoon playing the ponies. Emet hits the first race. I'm oh-fer on the first four before hitting two straight winners. BG shows, as do drizz, Chad, April, Bracelet (now rocking a Fu Manchu) and Elizabeth at various points. BG tells me what I'll be eating that night and my mouth waters for six hours. #1 on the Weekend Food List. My two winners give me a small profit, horse tickets give us free drinks and Emet and I hit a college basketball parlay with UCLA and Xavier.

With our fancy french dinner looming, we decide we have time for craps at The Trop. We do, mainly 'cause of the cold table. I drop $200. The rest bet more judiciously. We go to get gussied up for Bouchon.

In the cab on the way over, Emet is querying the Ethiopian cab driver frequently about what language he's speaking on the phone. Or, he was Puerto Rican and his mother was Ethiopian and he was talking to her in some dialect NOT called Ethiopian. Very confusing. "Is there a word in your language for 'girl who asks too many questions?'" --BG

I'm wearing a hipster shirt with french cuffs that Emet bought me a few weeks back. Maiden voyage. You can't see the buttons. But they're there. Oh yes. Gray sportcoat on top. Joe jeans on bottom. I look good.

We stop by the Blogger Tourney to see how it's unfolding. Garth busts just in time for he and the fairer half of G+G Makeout Factory to join us for dinner. DP has a nice stack at a cash game. Maybe he made enough to buy a new suit. He's still wearing the same one.

Kronnenburg 1640 to start at the bar. BG and Bobby select the wines when we sit.

Here is how my muddled brain recalls BG explaining the appetizer to me at the sportsbook:

They take two types of salmon--poached and smoked--chop it up and shoehorn it into a turine. Then they pour butter on it, seal it up and stick it into the refrigerator for two days so the butter soaks through the entire shebang (BG doesn't use words like "shebang," that's my own). They unseal it at the table and remove the hardened butter coating from the top and then you spread the final prduct on crostinis.

After the first bite, I asked for more crostinis. The flavor was somewhere between heaven and above heaven. And there was plenty for all. My goodness. I have no words to do it justice. Creamy and rich with notes you could taste well after you swallowed. It was high cuisine and drove me mad with desire.

We passed around the various appetizers. I had snails ("Ewwwwwwww!" --AJ) for the first time since my Senior Prom. Back then, it tasted like garlic-flecked rubber. At Bouchon, it was tender, buttery-garlic nirvana.

By now, the red wine was flowing, courtesy of excellent suggestions by BG and Bobby. Four bottles worth by the time all was said and done. I went with the gnocchi for my main course and was mildly disappointed. My taste buds may have been overheating by that point and the flavor was just too strong and pungent. I asked if the waiter if that was how it normally tasted and when he agreed it was, I let it go. He comped it anyway, so I tossed an extra tip in his direction. To sum up the meal? Great food, great wine and the best company.


We adjourned to the Venetian poker room to check on the tourney progress. Down to 6 at the final table and I gave maigrey a peck on the cheek for good luck before we headed to the IP. Yes, I'm taking a measure of credit. How I roll.

I'm pretty sloppy by this point. I recall little. Lots of talking. Iggy wearing my jacket (the sleeves dragged the ground when he walked). Maigs coming home with the trophy and deposed Rooster not being able to take his eyes from it. See?

Love that sweater on The Rooster. "He looks like a Mexican Bill Cosby." --Iggy

"Blogger money is the sweetest money." --Maigrey

Silliness. Pai Gow. Bed.


My big Sunday morning bet was on the Niners. Emet and I headed to the IP Sportsbook early(-ish) and then she adjourned for coffee while I caught up on my myriad bets. "Caught up" meaning "screamed at three TVs at once." Garth was also sweating the Niners. "I was going to ask where you were, but I heard you while I was on the escalator." --Emet

I called the Dolphin kicker a "cocksucker." He obliged. Cashed the Niner ticket courtesy of a 49-yarder that hit the crossbar and came back out. Exchanged a bromantic hug with Garth. Chugged another greyhound.

Big afternoon bet was on the Steelers. Nobody should have been getting 3 points in that game was my thinking. Went to Gene for assurance. "They're going to look like shit all game and pull it out at the end, right?" He said something about gray hair.

Emet and I played the ponies while the Ravens and Steelers traded punts and field goals. I hit the first two races. Bobby and Elizabeth joined us. Played some numbers based on the time-honored Bracelet Game Theory Method. You've played roulette with him, yes? Same principle. Bobby's on the 9 horse? Bet the 8 and 10.

Steelers pulled it out. I got down on the Giants. Two out of three ain't bad.

In the meantime, we, plus Chad and drizz, went to Batista's Hole in the Wall for dinner, after a lengthy cab ride. "I've got this one, Bobby!" All-you-can-drink house wine, some minestrone soup for starters to guard against the incoming Arctic Blast. Then Chicken Alfredo and an awesome meatball. The perfect recipe for the way I was winding down. Also, I hadn't eaten all day. Disregarding the Bloody Mary olives.

Giants crapped bed. We walked back to the IP. I crushed rapid roulette for a double-up, mostly because I made a $5 bet on the numbers by mistake and hit (8 for AJ's birth month). One last Pai Gow session, which eviscerated my roulette profit, as I hit the wall. Then the wall hit me back. Three or four times. We went back to the room and slept for a long-ass time.


The rumored storm from Siberia finally hit on Monday morning and it delayed our flight for better than two hours, during which I hit my favorite airport slot machine and, for the first time ever, failed to profit. That sucked, until I realized we'd have been stuck in town had I stuck to my original plan and drove as the Cajon Pass was closed, not that you'd be wanting to drive tired and hungover with your body in complete revolt through the pelting rain and snow anyway. We made it home, despite it being one of those trips where the flight attendants are not allowed to get up from their seats.

"Did you get to do everything you wanted to do?" --Emet

Yes. I got to be with my friends.


At 11:40 AM, Blogger DrChako said...



At 12:21 PM, Blogger Betty Underground said...

Me being sober put you on tilt? It was out of character, but I think it makes my ass look smaller.

At 12:24 PM, Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

First really great writeup I've seen, Speaker. Nicely done.

No comment on the ludicrous call at the end of the Steelers game though? I don't bet sports but my god what a load of crap. How they found the convicing evidence to reverse that no-call on the touchdown will forever remain a mystery.

At 12:45 PM, Blogger Joe Speaker said...

Heh. I may have blocked that out.

I was agitating for "Touchdown!" of course, but I had no visual evidence but for my ticket that said PIT +3

At 12:49 PM, Blogger April said...

It was a joy to see you as always. Counting down to the Summit already.

At 1:55 PM, Blogger Drizztdj said...

I want to thank you for the shortest cab ride I've ever taken in Vegas after 20+ visits.

Seriously, thank you both for that dinner. Must do again.

At 3:43 PM, Blogger The Bracelet said...


At 4:02 PM, Blogger Heather said...

I think it was totally the smooch that gave me the win!

Always nice to see you, and meeting Emet was lovely!

At 8:13 PM, Blogger F-Train said...

Still a sucker bet, no matter how much a SF pays.

At 7:47 AM, Blogger joxum (Denmark) said...

"...Emet is querying the Ethiopian cab driver frequently about what language he's speaking on the phone..."

Hey I bet I rode with that guy when I was there for the half marathon.


At 10:15 AM, Blogger PDXRogue said...

Nice write up, Sir. I can't help but revel vicariously in your account of the holy of these Decembers, ah yes.


At 8:30 AM, Blogger columbo (at eifco dot org) said...

OMG, As I finished reading FRIDAY, I thought that was the entire weekend! You really packed in the entertainment!

At 3:46 PM, Blogger Bayne_S said...

I did not mean to berate (as I had done in chat)

And I paid the $1


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