A -- Aqua. Restaurant at Bellagio. This was my first ever, official, fine dining experience. It had been, previously, unthinkable for me to drop $300 on dinner (for two), but I did it here and am proud to call it the site of my first foodgasm.
B -- Bobby Blackjack. Our bankroll-spewing hero will not be making it this year, but having (barely) survived a few trips--even non-WPBT ones--with him, I will say everyone should lose $400 in and hour with Bobby at a blackjack table. There is something about the experience that is life-affirming and vital. And one never forgets the feeling of walking to a casino ATM.
C -- Circus Circus. Though I only stayed here once (more on that in a bit), this gaudy property was the casino focal point of my first few trips to Vegas. Of course, I was aged 9-12 when that happened. We played an annual soccer tournament there (in January, forcing us to play one year in the snow) and once the games were over, we all wanted to go win stuffed animals at Circus Circus. It was like gambling training wheels.
The one time I did stay there--as an adult--was because it was the closest casino to the auto repair shop where my car was towed after breaking down outside of Baker. The cost for said tow was nearly $500, an obscene sum for me at the time, especially on top of the fact my car never did return from the desert due to the cost of replacing the blown head gasket being roughly equal to what the vehicle was worth. In the Happy Endings Dept., I won a shitload of money playing craps at Circus Circus, enough to pay for the tow and a flight home, but not quite enough for a new car.
D -- Dealertainers. Normally, I avoid celebrity impersonators like AJ avoids brussels sprouts, but there's something about the IP's unironic worship (and lackadaisical attitude toward actually looking like the celebrity) that I find appealing, much like how I used to chew the skin off my fingers and eat it when I was a child. The comfort can't be explained, only enjoyed.
E -- Excalibur. Site of my first-ever casino experience as an adult, my first-ever casino poker experience (7-card stud) and my first-ever Hold 'Em casino poker experience (where I thrashed the $2-$6 game for $200). However, my biggest win ever here (speaking spiritually, not monetarily) was all those singles shipped by G-Rob on the wheel spin prop bets.
F -- Frontier This perpetually downtrodden property was marked by its friendly dealers and the constant striking union workers at both ends of its circular driveway. It was also my favored gambling spot in the early- to mid-90s because of its low-stakes blackjack and craps (bankroll management!). As with most casinos that become "favorites," I won there with better-than-average frequency. My tipping skills when winning are quite solid, which occassioned one of my greatest Vegas moments. I walked into the casino with two skeptical buddies (their first time there) and as we approached the craps table, one of the dealers shouted, "Kenny!" (which is my actual name, sorta), having remembered me--and my tipping--from a previous trip.
G -- Guy's Getaway. That was the name of a package offered one year by Bally's. A bunch of my baseball friends and I purchased the weekend (free booze in the suite, free dinners, VIP club admission) in order to watch the A's in the playoffs from decadent Vegas. Except the A's folded down the stretch, so we just drank and made fun of Hawk leaving the club with the ugly girl, who used the line, "Do you want to go see the most beautiful girl in the world?" who did, in her defense, turn out to be a smoking Brazilian stripper, albeit one totally disinterested in Hawk.
H -- Hockey. This has nothing to do with Vegas (though the Los Angeles Kings have an annual pre-season weekend in Sin City), but I saw something last night in the Kings-Flames game that just illustrates why I love hockey so much. Two players got into it, light shoving, kit-grabbing, and were jawing back and forth, presenting their opposing points of view. Unable to come to a suitable agreement, one of them kind of shrugged his shoulders and said (expert lip-reader that I am), "Let's just go then," at which point they dropped the gloves and traded delicious and viewer-satisfying blows.
Contrast that with, say, football. How many cheap fucking shots do you think Flozell Adams would get away with on the ice before someone cleaned his fat fucking clock?
I -- Imperial Palace. Gosh. What else can be said about the IP. Yellow police tape at the entrance, moldy-smelling rooms, dealertainers, Pimps and 'hos and "Top Slut" tattoos, Dealertainers and the Geisha Bar. I once found myself at the IP on a list to sing Karaoke. But the list proved too long and I left before I could regale the crowd with Slayer's "War Ensemble."
J -- Jorginho. Had a very memorable Vegas trip one time with peerless Scribes defenders Jorginho and Big Head. It was a last-minute jaunt, arranged over post-game beers. Big Head had met the acquaintance of four young girls from the sticks of Wisconsin (Vegas was the first time they'd seen a taxi), all cute, all with requisite Fargo-esque accents, which provided much hilarity. Jorginho and I stayed up all night gambling, while Big Head tried his luck with the girls. We did well, but as we were heading to bed after breakfast, I fell down a short flight of stairs at the restaurant, nearly toppling into a family seated nearby. "If I wasn't so tired, I'd be laughing at you right now," Jorginho deadpanned.
K -- Katkin. Murderer's Row regular and, at the time, a Full Tilt employee, felt the full weighted wrath of The Hammer, when wielded by a drunken idiot who was already stuck four buy-ins. Yes, me. Late in a 1/2 NL blogger session where I was throwing money away like it was on fire (mostly to Nickerson), I live-straddled. bdiddie raised (with 99) and Katkin re-raised. Naturally, I looked at my cards and pushed (though almost lost them when the dealer tried to pull them into the muck). bdiddie folded and Katkin called with KK.
At which point a roar went up from the assembled masses and a crowd formed, frothing like spectators at the Roman Coliseum. There was never any doubt at this point.
And the roar went up. I am not a nice man.
Next day, I stopped by the Full Tilt suite at the WSOP and Katkin, seeing me across the room, pointed and shouted, "That's the guy!"
L -- Las Vegas National Golf Course. Ah, the WPBT Shootout at this legendary layout. Let's see, drink most of (all) night and then venture out into 30-ish-degree temperatures to hit a stupid little ball around for five hours or so. And pay for the privilege! What a great idea, especially for someone of my skill level, the aspects of my game ranging from decent to disgraceful. Regardless, I'm very much looking forward to this, especially to see if I can make a backswing with eight layers of clothes and break the record of most times puking in 18 holes, currently held by BG.
M -- Morgan, Seth. Author of the Greatest Book Ever, "Homeboy," a copy of which was the first bounty I ever gave to a wpbt-er and which features the protagonist, Joe Speaker.
N -- Nugget, Golden. (Yeah, yeah, you try doing one of these lists sometime without cheating a little.) Site of a blogger mixed game in June 2005 that put me on tilt. Just like you never want to get in a land war in Asia, you never want to get between a raising war in Razz vs. The Brothers Nardi.
O -- O. I'm told this is/was a Cirque de Soliel show in Vegas. I wouldn't know. I've never been to a show. Cuts into drinking time.
P -- Peppermint Lotion. The bounty of the non-discerning masturbator.
Q -- Quantitative Analysis. You will be tempted to call the clock on me in the tournament, because I will be doing so much math in my head, which I'm not very good at, that time will stop. Or I might just be thinking of boobies. Either way, I will call and you will suckout.
R -- Rio. The first place I ever made a $100 wager on a single hand of blackjack. I was dealt two face cards. the dealer had 21. I haven't gambled there since (poker not being gambling, you know).
Also, Roshambo. I'd like to think I made that $100 back when Mrs. Head easily and summarily dispatched Phil Gordon in that epic match in 2005.
S -- Spearmint Rhino. Good gracious I nearly killed myself with scotch (at $12 a pop) here one night/morning, but it was totally worth it on multiple levels. Ask Div.
T -- Too Drunk to Call. What happens when you have a Mandalay Bay sportsbook filled with hungover poker degens and a horse running with that name? You all bet on it, despite its previous inability to hold leads as tiring speed. And when the sonofagun comes in at 14-1, you have a mini-riot on your hands.
We'll not mention the performance of one Mr. Otis.
U -- Underwear. At some point in Dec. of 2006, a poor unsuspecting janitor at the MGM walked into the bathroom and was confronted by the sight of my ripped and urine soaked underwear, an accident caused by my devotion to a craps table.
V -- Venetian. My favorite poker room and the site of perhaps my favorite meal ever, not because it was the best food, but because I was sick and went with Falstaff to the Noodle House where I got CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP WITH A FUCKING PORK CHOP IN IT.
Try to top that, Volt brothers.
W -- WPBT. You're all sick and depraved and I love you.
X -- Xanthos. Meaning yellow, or yellowish, like my jaundiced skin on Monday morning after my liver stops working.
Y -- Yugoslavia. Prior to the breakup of this Baltic state, the US played the Yugos in World Cup '98, a forgetable tournament for the Yanks as they went into their final group game 0-2 after losses to Germany (reasonable) and Iran (completely, totally unacceptable). They lost this game, as well, which I watched from mostly the fetal position in my Flamingo hotel room with a handful of others suffering similar hungover fates.
Z -- Zicam. There is something about a looming trip to Vegas that makes my immune system take a dive. I've been sick for at least the last two December WPBT events, spending the week leading up to arrival jamming Zicam swabs up my nose and mainlining Naked Juice. Somehow, I always seem to come through it, despite showing up ill. Greyhounds, a clutch beanie purchase and the greatest head massage ever have contributed in the past. By the time the weekend is over, however, the adrenaline is gone and I'm still sick.
This year (knock on effing wood), I'm in fine fettle. Ive been taking liberties with the anti-bacterial dispensers in the office and on the train. I've refused to touch ANYTHING on my morning commute. And every time AJ sneezed, I locked him in the closet.
So, about 24-hours 'til I begin the giddy slog through the desert. Another day to dodge germs. I will not be Typhoid Mary this year.
See y'all soon.