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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Howdy all. Sorry for the delay in posting but I am currently hard at work, writing a column about our beloved poker blogs. I'm hoping to get us some solid press and lots more visitors - all pro bono, just for my beloved blogs. A big thanks to everyone who emailed me with their thoughts on why they enjoy poker blogs - it was truly helpful.
But I'll be back ASAP - after all damnit, I'm James Brown, the hardest working man in the poker blogging world and I promise a full post very soon. Stay tuned.

I have an important announcement about our poker blogger tournament as well. I'm going to run the next tournament - looks like two weeks or so. I'll give all the details when I get them ironed out. Should be great fun and I hope we have a large turn out for this one!

Sadly, I don't have time for a full-fledged uber post, but I'll leave you with Part Three of Fetish and Losing in Las Vegas.


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Check out what the readers are saying about this series so far:

"I found it unreadable boring tripe. I can't believe what some
people find entertaining." – Josh L

"It's always nice to see true perverts...." – howardbeal1@yahoo.com


Fetish and Losing in Las Vegas – 03
=====

[Cue music: Blinded by the Light, ELO]

So I show up for class, having slept less than an hour in the past
thirty-some, and having been drinking heavily for the last twenty-two
hours. I wonder if anyone will notice? I'm barely in the door, when the
instructor, a distinguished looking sixty-something-year-old says 'rough
night, huh?' I immediately concoct a story in my head about having the
flu and having just arrived on the red eye, but I just say "Yeah, first
time in Vegas and I'm here with Asmodius."

The instructor seems understanding, but he does mention right up front
that if you skip parts of class you won't get all of the credits (some
kind of continuing education credits that I neither want nor need) on your
diploma. Paranoia sets in that I'll be questioned for not getting all the
credits if I skip part of the class. I'm such a wuss. Sure, I can say I
was sick (which is quite true), but it's going to be pretty obvious what
sort of 'sickness' I had. Not wanting to kill future opportunities to
train in Vegas, I'm just going to have to suck it up and ride out the
class.

The class itself is fairly worthless. I could definitely extract the same
value just by reading the materials as I'll get by attending the class,
and I don't say that lightly – I'm a pussy about skipping classes, and
have never done it. But I clearly could this time, if not for the stupid
credits. The class is almost all discussion and exercises, and my
classmates aren't exactly Tom Peters and Lee Iacocca. Most of them seem
to simply enjoy hearing themselves talk. And of course, there's the
mandatory woman who knows everything and has to comment on everything. By
10:00am we're doing a group exercise. I'm sitting with my group, just
trying to stay awake. One of my teammates is a really heavyset woman.
Perfectly nice, if something of a blabbermouth. We're sitting in a circle
and I'm next to her. At this point, I lean forward, elbows on knees, and
cradle my head in a downward position. I'm staring right at her feet.
Feet. In open shoes. Her feet are fat. The blubber bulges around the
straps on the shoes. It looks like if she took her shoes off, her feet
would expand to circular, hippo-like pads. Her toes are fat. She has
calves like canned hams. Her toenails are in disrepair. Shrimping. I
make a guttural noise and run to the head, where I go though the motions
of throwing up three times, but my stomach is empty so I just heave. "I
swear I won’t drink today," I say to the stall walls.

[Cue music: Hold the Line, Toto]

I go to the room on a break. Spaulding whips up his patented hangover
cure for me: A big glass of half spring water, half orange juice, with a
half teaspoon of salt, and three Motrins. "And this really helps?" I ask.
"Hey," he replies, "who's the drunk here, you or me?"
"OK. But I'm telling you now, I'm not drinking today."
"You just did," he says, "There was some Absolut Mandrin in there. It
helps ease you out of it gradually." My sense of taste was so dull I
didn't even detect the booze.

Somehow, it does help. Mandrin and Motrin, it's like Spaulding's Special
Sauce. After getting some food in me at lunch, I start to rebound. I
stop in the room again before returning to class, because we have some
extra time. Spaulding is there, watching trash TV and enjoying a cocktail
before he goes for food. He makes me one. "OK, just one. After this I'm
only drinking beer. Swear to God."

Tonight I want to hit the Bellagio. I understand that's where the pros
usually go. I brought a digital camera. I'd love to get a nice shot of
me with a pro or two for over my bar. Imagine the intimidation factor at
the home game when I point to the wall and say "Yep, there's me and Texas
Dolly at the Bellagio. He's the one on the right." Also I would tell
Doyle how I check raised a guy three times in one hand last night. Surely
he would be impressed and probably want to hang out with me.

During the afternoon, I conclude my classmates are incapable of internal
thought. Every fool idea that fires across their neurons comes spilling
out of their mouths. They talk, for 30 minutes, about the importance of
customer service. "You have to please the customer." "No, in these
competitive times you have to DELIGHT the customer." "I would be willing
to give the customer a vigorous handjob with the complimentary lotion from
my hotel room, if that would exceed his expectations." OK, I made up that
last one. I glance at the water pitcher. If only my head was a little
smaller, I would drown myself in it. That's probably why they make them
so narrow. You know, liability and whatnot. So I tune out my insipid
classmates and prepare the following list of Stuttering-John style
questions in case we see any poker personalities at Bellagio. I know that
Spaulding will ask them on a dare, or just to make me laugh.

Ferguson: How's it going Buddha?

Cloutier: Don’t you owe me a hundred bucks?

Hellmuth: Do you know Chris Moneymaker? Now there’s a player.

Negreanu: Ever get aroused by Beach Volleyball on the Playstation?

Phillips: Can I have your autograph mister McConaughey?

Duke: Do you know what shrimping is?

Lederer: Quick, what's the square root of 4,761?

Chan: Mike McDermot was bluffing. How do you like them apples?

Ivey: Didn't you steal my car?

Harman: If you bought a blowdryer you could be hot.

Bloch: Didn't we go to community college together?

Gordon: Does Friedman ever let you polish his WSOP bracelet?

Brunson: If you were stranded on a desert island with Matusow and
Hellmuth, would you kill first?

Affleck: Who has a bigger ass, J Lo or Silent Bob?

Caro: I'm a mad genius too. How about that?

Malmuth: If you smiled, would your face shatter into a million pieces?

Sklansky: I hear you went to Penn State, but couldn't graduate. Tough
school.

Dutch Boyd: Caveat emptor, am I right? Booyah! (offer high five)

Glazer: Remember me from the San Francisco hot tubs?

Lee Jones: I'll give you 10 bucks to say the f word.

Hiatt: You're so hot I'd make soup with a pair of your used panties.
That turns you on, doesn't it?

McManus: I read your book. The only words I didn't have to look up were
'tits' and 'the.'

I know, most of them aren't that good. Remember, I'd been more or less
drinking for 28 hours straight.

At 3pm we start the last exercise. It's written and individual, and won't
be discussed. The instructor says we can leave and do it in our rooms if
we want. He gives me a wink. "God bless you," I say. I go to the room.
We have a gin and tonic, easy on the tonic. "Last one for today."
"Sure." We crash for a nap. I take the couch.

By 8 we're up and chowing down some room service hot wings (generous
portions, but not very good). I retrieve the fanny pack I had been
wearing yesterday. It's heavier than I expected. I open it up, and count
about $450 in Flamingo chips. I must not have cashed out. Unless I
rebought, which I don't think I did, I guess I won $250 last night.
Somehow. I know I saw lots of flops and lots of fourth streets in stud.
I think the only skill I had which was not alcohol impaired was the
ability to give it up on the flop/4th. I guess that was good enough
against all those first timers. Nearly 24 hours after checking in, we
leave the property for the first time. Destination: Bellagio.

[Cue music: China Grove, The Doobie Brothers]

We're about three steps out of the Flamingo when we notice people are
walking around with beers. What a great town. We go right back in and
get two beers each for the walk to Bellagio. Back outside, people in
safety vests are handing out all these little advertisements for in-room
dancers. I tell them not to touch me, but Spaulding starts collecting
them. Some of them have the good parts blurred, or covered with a little
star. Spaulding likes the uncensored ones better. In the short walk to
the Bellagio, he must get at least two dozen of the things, which he
pockets.

We get to Bellagio. Oddly, for a high-end place, the first thing we see
are nickel slots. Probably ten people at work have told me I "must" see
the fountain show. So we find a little outdoor patio where people are
dining next to the pond. We wander out and watch the show, for 20
seconds. "Pretty neat," I say.
"Yeah," says Spaulding. "Let’s go."
"OK."

We find the poker room. Very classy. Could use more TVs though. There
are two seats at a 4-8 table, so we take them. A chip runner brings us
each $200 in nice, new blue chips. We each give him 2 bucks. I don’t
think we had to post, which was cool. Immediately, we get the cocktail
waitress ('Mandy') locked in our tractor beam. She's pretty good looking.
Young, thin. The uniforms could be a little sluttier, but not bad.
Hooters-like shorts, little Reebok tennis shoes. Yeah, she's a little
hottie. Spaulding orders a double gin and tonic. My turn. "Fuck it,
double gin and tonic." Spaulding just smiles at me.

A good double GnT should taste like slightly carbonated gin. There's a
lot of tonic in Bellagio doubles. They were probably more like
one-and-a-quarters. Ultimately, this was probably all for the best.

This game is way tougher than the Flamingo games. Most people seem at
least competent. Spaulding is playing his usual loose game, and
constantly finding himself up against one or two opponents with much
better hands. I fold a lot. I was going to try to move up to a higher
limit, but the toughness of this game makes me rethink that plan. Better
to stay here and drink heavily, I decide. Perversely, had I been behind
for the trip I know I would have been much quicker to move up. I guess
that's the chasing instinct. Being ahead a few bucks, I was content to
protect my lead.

I raise in early position with AKo. Some guy three bets me from late
position and I call. Flop is undercards. I "bet to see where I'm at" as
recommended by Hellmuth. He raises and I call. I check and fold on the
turn. I might have been outplayed there, I'm not sure. I keep scanning
the high limit area for poker personalities (I brought my camera, and my
questions) but I don’t see any. Eventually I ask the dealer if any
'names' are in the house. He doesn't really know, but says Gus Hanson was
there yesterday. Spaulding three bets a pot from middle position and gets
two takers. At showdown, his third and fourth pair beat top pair, top
kicker. His opponent is rather nonplussed. Get used to it pal. Mandy is
a little slower than the Flamingo cycle, averaging a run every 17 minutes
or so (most people clock dealers, we clock cocktail waitresses). We stick
to 'double' GnTs, and again never miss a run. Spaulding hits on Mandy.
"Sorry sweetheart, I'm married," she lies.
"Do you think your husband would let me give him a blowjob just to get
some of your flavor?"
She leaves quickly.

We ask if they have tournaments. Seems satellites start tomorrow for the
upcoming big event (5 Star Classic?). I'd love to play some satellites,
but since we won't be here during the event it doesn't make much sense.
We stick with 4/8. Spaulding has to rebuy about an hour in, and is
getting beat up pretty good. About an hour later, we've each had many
doubles and are feeling pretty good. Discipline is starting to fade
though. I flop a set of tens on a single suited board. Decent action.
Turn is the fourth suited card and I stay in hoping the board pairs. The
river doesn't pair the board and I get stubborn and pay off a bettor and
an overcaller in an obvious fold situation.

A few hands later I three bet with jacks. Three of us see the A-K-x flop.
I fold when it comes to me as two bets, and one guy did in fact have AK.
I limp in with Axs and have to call a raise behind me. I flop a flush
draw, and hang in to make a small straight with my little card. It's
good, but some guy criticizes my play. "How about this," I say, "I'll let
you play your cards the way you want to, and you let me play mine." He
mumbles to his neighbor and glares at me. I should have brought the
Manbeast, who would have done the verbal equivalent of drenching the guy
in gasoline and dropping a match.

We take a break to go see a man about a horse, and take a quick tour of
the Bellagio. It's full of those upscale bars that we don't care for.
Cost you two hundred bucks to get plastered there, while hot chicks ignore
you. We agree to play a little longer and, if the tide doesn't turn,
we'll head out.

We return, but first I check the high stakes area again. I had hoped to
meet Paul Phillips, the only poker celebrity I've ever exchanged email
with. I really enjoy his writing. I figured he would be very gracious
about posing for a quick picture until security answered his call and
dragged us away. Oh, I guess I've also exchanged rgp posts with Glazer,
but I was somewhat critical one of his columns and am probably on his shit
list. Anyway, I don't recognize a soul. More gin. I win a decent pot.
One early limper. I only have QTo but I raise in the cutoff to isolate
him. No good. The button and both blinds call, as does the limper. I
flop an open ender and with that many players I'm willing to keep putting
in raises. We cap the flop and go two bets on the turn and I make my
straight on the end, getting paid off in two places. That hand puts me in
the black. I pretty much fold for the last 20 minutes. When Spaulding
beats the critic out of a big pot with total garbage, mister critic laughs
at his play. Spaulding gives him the home game business: He makes an L
on his forehead and says "Llllllllllllloser! Loserloserloser!" We're so
mature. I say, "Let's go. This guy will be much happier playing against
all these guys who play right." Several other players give the critic the
evil eye. But I doubt he got the message. We grab a last round of
cocktails from Mandy, and cash out. I was 18 dollars ahead. Woo, hoo.
So I probably won 50 plus, having tipped the runner 2 bucks, Mandy 3 bucks
an estimated nine times, and the dealer 1 buck some number of times. I
probably need to win 2.5 big bets per hour just to cover cocktail
expenses. I ask Spaulding where he wants to go. "Looking for trouble,"
is his reply. We wander the strip, catching the Mirage volcano show. The
whole fucking lagoon was on fire.

[Cue music: (She’s only) Seventeen, Poison]

Somewhere on the strip we pass two really hot girls loitering with an
older guy. Really hot. "They’re hookers!" says Spaulding. I'm not sure,
but they're pretty fine. We double back and when we pass them we say 'Hi,
beautiful night huh?' They reply, ever so slightly suggestively, but
that's it. Unsure, we walk away only to double back again. Spaulding
REALLY wants to make a score here. They're so good looking, even I'm
thinking that maybe taking Valtrex isn't so bad after all. We don't get
anywhere with them, although we never came right out and asked for a date
or anything. I don't think they were hookers after all. After getting
about 4 beers in random places, we wander back to the Flamingo at my
suggestion. I think I can win there, and Spaulding can drink cheap and
not lose too much, and it's a much friendlier crowd. During the course of
our travels, Spaulding must have collected a hundred of those in-call ads.

We get back to the Flamingo around midnight, I think. Travelers tip:
Wear a watch in Vegas. Once again we're pretty corked. Spaulding says
"Let's stop up in the room, I need a smoke."
"You can smoke at the table, remember?"
"Not this I can't."

I don't even want to know how he scored weed allegedly without leaving the
property or, more likely, if he was stupid enough to bring it along in his
luggage. In the room he uses a credit card to open a closet safe I didn't
even know was there, and pulls out a bag big enough to make me worry that
it would carry a trafficking conviction. We share a quarter pounder while
he arranges his in-call ads like an NCAA tourney bracket. He plays them
off, single elimination, until he decides on the hottest one. I casually
remind him of a past experience where the girls that showed up looked
nothing like the girls in the picture. "Yeah, yeah," he says.

We get back into the Flamingo games somewhere around 1:00. Spaulding
orders up and I remain silent. I don't want to suffer in class again, and
my head is really spinning. "Dude," Spaulding says, "don't you need a
drink?"
"Damn you and your relentless peer pressure. OK, I'll have a..."
"...double gin and tonic," the waitress finishes my sentence.
"I’m obviously getting too predictable."

The Flamingo games are just so much better. Easy money, even for an idiot
like me. We're in a stud game with the three friendly ladies from the
night before. They remember me and mention my copying their drinks.
They're laughing it up, and they've got those really loud, chubby-lady
laughs. When they each order three different drinks, Spaulding says,
"Bring me one of each of what they're having." One of the woman says to
him, "What are you, some kind of alcoholic?"
"No ma'am, alcoholics have to go to classes. I'm a drunk."
They burst out laughing, really loud. I roll my eyes. They think
Spaulding is the funniest man in America, now that Carson is off the air.
The down side to this is that now that Spaulding has an audience, he
starts putting on the Spaulding show, and I'm sideshow Variable. One the
next waitress run, he says "Time to get serious. Bring us a couple of
Gibsons, and keep them coming until one of us dies."

[Cue music: It's the End of the World (as we know it), REM]

When I remark that I've had the bring-in three times in a row, Spaulding
tells the dealer he'll give her a buck every time she makes me the
bring-in. Soon he and I are betting $2 every hand on who will get the
bring-in. Whenever one of us wins we toke the 2 bucks to the dealer.
"Take it, it's his money!" We also bet on who will win pots we're not
involved in. Those winnings go to the waitress every Gibson run.
Spaulding is tipping players who beat me out of a pot. It's remarkable
how the staff will tolerate drunken louts, as long as they're toking. We
have a great time.

I have three more pages of notes in my Mead tablet from after this point
in the session. They are almost totally illegible except for an obscene
drawing that Spaulding made. Now I know how Hunter S. Thompson must have
felt. All I can say with certainty is that I woke up on the couch in
worse condition than the day before, with no recollection of when I left
the game or how I managed to get to the room at all. Spaulding is not in
the room. As I drag myself down the hallway towards class, I'm so
lightheaded that I feel like I'm wandering around in a Salvidor Dali
painting.

To be continued...
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Link of the Day:
Hey, Crackhead!
Open letter to a crackhead: "On Wednesday morning I emerged from my girlfriend's building by U.N. Plaza to find that you had sawed the tops off both the sparkplugs on my motorcycle. At the time, I had no idea why anyone would do that."



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