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Thursday, December 30, 2004

Those poker lightbulb moments are so damn cool, no matter how simplistic. A married couple, good friends of ours, are way into hold em, and play every week with their extended family. The wife, in particular, has some serious love of the game but was frustrated because she had been losing. So I bought her two poker books for Christmas.

She just called me, bubbling over with excitement, because she destroyed the game last evening. My favorite quote from her, "I completely understand position now!"

From acorns, mighty oaks grow.

So what have I been up to? Party Poker, of course. But even better, I have been hunting down local games. I am loathe to blog about this, for obvious reasons, but what the hell. One of these games is located in a dicey business district, in a closed down storefront. The game is run by an old acquaintance whose name ends in a vowel....take from that what you wish.

Anyway, said game is full of hardcore gambling types. Pool hustlers, gin sharpies, sports betting junkies. The table has fellas named Rocco, Junior and my personal favorite, "BamBam". And these guys love to gamble. They live for it.

The place itself is pretty cool. They have four tables, good dealers, a giant widescreen flat TV, and a commercial fridge stocked with plenty of beverages and food. I'm tempted to put a futon in the back and move in.

The stakes aren't high (although one guy last night got stuck about $700) but it's turned into a nice little side-gig for me. Sadly, after winning in four straight sessions here, my action was drying up a little. I rectified that last night by playing two hands in the dark, sadly losing both, cost me about $100. But adjusting my image made it well worth the investment. Hopefully, this game will provide some entertaining stories for this here blog in the future.

The mainstream press is finally reporting on the attack on WSOP champion, Greg Raymer. Apparently an arrest was made....a fellow poker player. Nice. Anyway, here's a link to the AP news article: Greg Raymer Fights Off Attackers.

I'm really hung over. No energy for a real post, so in lieu of that, I pondered about the best RGP posts of 2004. And thought some more...RGP is pretty worthless.

But then I remembered the four part series entitled Fetish and Losing in Las Vegas, from last spring. And so, i am reposting this silly yet entertaining tale in it's entirety here. Part Two actually has poker content.....Enjoy.


-------------

Fetish and Losing in Las Vegas - 01
=====

Disclaimer:

If you're a guy, we don't need a disclaimer. For you ladies, be advised there's lots of dirty stuff in here, and our disclaimer is that every single guy on the planet, except perhaps Lee H. Jones (a prince among swine, he is), thinks exactly the same way we do -- they just hide it better. Now you know.

-----

So I scored a trip to Vegas for some fluff training class. Spaulding schedules a vacation to accompany me. Then and there, whatever small value the class might have offered was compromised. So it goes. Neither of us have ever been to 'Sin City,' and Spaulding is positively glowing at the vice potential. "We can see strippers here, anytime," I rein him back in, "I'm going to play cards the whole time."

"I said vice, not strippers," he clarifies.

-----
religious aside to generate entertaining hate-mail
-----

I guess I'm what you'd call a deist. I think if you examine the current science, it strongly supports the Big Bang theory. At least that's what that freak in the wheelchair says. Several billions years ago, the evidence suggests, there was indeed a 'day with no yesterday.' The entire universe, simple at first but with the ultimate potential to produce complex entities, such as multi-angle porn DVDs, sprang into being from nothingness. Even if you're a confirmed atheist, ponder that concept a little while, over a nice fatty or two, and I guarantee you’ll say "Whoa. That's heavy." Then you'll order some Chinese. No matter. What I'm saying is that I believe there is some higher power, but I have a hard time with all the man-made rules and regulations of organized religion, the ban on Onanism being as good an example as any. My point is that I'm not the most religious person you'll ever meet. As such, I have no moral qualms about prostitution. Indeed, it strikes me as highly practical. Don't try to tell me you never thought, "I'd gladly pay $200 for an hour with my wife's sister, and it's not like it's hard work for her..." I would never indulge in it though, only because I'm a big pussy. I'm paranoid about catching some disease still unknown to science, such as the Tijuanan Penis Leprosy. Those VD medicine commercials on TV don’t help either. They've got to be the best abstinence advertisements of all time. They show some red hot model, a total stunner, who explains with a pearly smile that by using Valtrex, she's only a genital wart sporting, highly infectious, pus-seeping skank for a few weeks out of the year. Then they remind you that 'there is no cure' but, hey!, you can control it Real Nice. So, call me a fagula if you must, but I'll be taking a pass on the hookers. Unless I'm really really drunk. Spaulding, however, is of the James Tiberius Kirk school of thought: if it's a carbon-based life form with an orifice, it will do. Think I'm exaggerating? We were watching "Walking With Cavemen" (featuring partial nudity) on Discovery, and he's telling me which Homo Habilis's have the best boobs, and which ones he would canoodle (answer: all of them, one way or another). Really.

-----
end of religious aside to generate entertaining hate-mail
-----

Monday, 1:30pm
-----

[Cue music, "Roll on Down the Highway" Bachman-Turner Overdrive.]

I work the morning then go pick up Spaulding, stopping first for some jerky and a Mead memo table for note taking. Spaulding's coming from lunch at TGIF's, and already smells like a hot-wing littered pine forest.
We make the short drive, passing about Spaulding's flask of Bombay Sapphire the way the Harlem Globetrotters pass a basketball, because it's totally uncool to arrive at an airport stone sober (you should probably write that down). We check our bags and hike over to security, where the line is quite small. There are two ways to clear security: pass the metal detector or get searched manually. Spaulding notices a hot-babe security guard over on the manual search side, and he spots a sign that says if you have a pacemaker, you shouldn't go through the metal detector, they'll pat you down instead. Just as I'm reading a second sign that says, in so many words, "Don’t fuck around, because we take everything seriously, and if you try to be cute we'll call in the FBI and you'll be standing tall before the man," I hear frigging idiot tell the guy, "I have a pacemaker."

"Into the chute sir," says Rambo. I already know what's going to happen. They'll wand him, discover the lie about the pacemaker, and 30 minutes later we'll be sitting in an interrogation room at the local FBI
office while some jackbooted ATF guys swipe all the 'Barely Legals' out of Spaulding's luggage. God knows I don't need that again. Anyway, the hottie is already busy with someone else, and Spaulding has to get
searched by, I believe, Fred Sanford. Ha. Luckily, we clear security with no problems.

We plant our asses at a small bar/cafe and order up a couple 22 ounce lagers. The guy on my right orders another Michelob Ultra, and whines for a clean glass, because the last one wouldn't hold a head. Spaulding
laughs inappropriately loud and calls him "The Wine Steward." TWS glances at us disapprovingly, and returns to his USA Today. We're watching the USA channel, some movie about cheerleader auditions. Spaulding, now slurping bourbon, is talking to the TV, as some of the more morally bankrupt girls audition by climbing on the table and striking some hot short-shorts poses on all fours (wish I caught the title, looks like a good rental). "JFC! Look at the tail on that one! It's like vulcanized rubber!" Suddenly, he announces that they've watered down his Wild Turkey – it tastes weak. Then we notice the bottle; it's 80 proof, not the usual 101, if you can imagine such temerity. He carries on about the unfucking
believability of serving 80 proof Turkey. "It's just not right," he laments, shaking his head. On TV, one of the snotty, established cheerleaders (the blondie, of course) on the selection committee blackballs the brunette good-girl gymnast, denying her a spot on the squad. "That cunt!" remarks twelve-step, loud enough that patrons at the tables are now looking at us. TWS has had enough and leaves without
finishing his Ultra. "Well," I say, "We've never been kicked out of an airport."

"That's a bet," says Spaulding, without looking away from the TV.

We board the regional jet for the hop to Pittsburgh. The flight isn't full, and I'm happy that the seat next to me is open, so I can sprawl out a bit, but of course boozehound spots it and moves over by me. Talk turns
to fetishes. Considering my circle of friends, I thought I was aware of every sick deviation known to man. I wasn't. Spaulding not only knows them all, but apparently has them all. Over two mini-bottles of Tanqueray
(and tonic) each, he fills me in on 'CFNM,' some specialized form of male exhibitionism, to which there are dedicated web sites.

Spaulding: "Dude, it's so hot."
Me: "It's naked guys, and the women are fully dressed?"
Spaulding: "Yeah, but the women are, like, innocent until they go wild."
Me: "So it's like flashing?"
Spaulding: "No, the women want to be there. They're at a strip show"
Me: "So they're dressed – the women?"
Spaulding: "Yeah, that's the point."
Me: "So, as you're ipsating your way through the web site, you're looking
at what is, in fact, a male strip show?"
Spaulding: "Yeah."
Me: "Doesn’t that strike you as kind of...Siegfriedesque?"
Spaulding: "No! Dude, you don't get it. It's like you fantasize that
you're the guy."
Me: "And you need pictures of naked men to do that?"
Spaulding: "You obviously don't get it."
Me: "Obviously."

I invite you to send an email to elgattogrande@hotmail.com and tell Spaulding he's a closet homo. Be aware his average email turnaround-time is 3 to 48 months.

Then he moves on to 'shrimping,' which is the practice of toe sucking. I have a serious anti-foot fetish. Unfortunately, my mind leaps back to the time I saw Spaulding barefoot at hunting camp. He's not a stickler for hygiene, and his toenails are long enough that he could use them to hang upsidedown, bat-like, from the ceiling. The thought of someone putting his foot in their mouth genuinely sickens me. I can also still remember the hideous stench of his hunting boots. The mental image makes me literally gag, hard, on a swig of GnT, and go into a coughing fit.

The soccer mom across from us was subtly, yet noticeably, taking this all in. She must have thought we were a couple of real perverts. If she only knew.

Mercifully, the captain announces we're making our final approach. Pittsburgh bars will be much better, Spaulding assures me, because Pennsylvanians know how to drink. As if he's been suffering thus far.

The Moose Is Loose
-----

There is, of course, nothing spectacular about Moosehead beer. But when we were youths, it was the most exotic, and therefore the best, brand we could get our hands on. So, being traditionalists, we while away the hour in Pittsburgh with some Moose and wings at TGIFs. We watch the muscular Venus Williams trounce some skinny white girl on the telly. "She's got big boobies," Spaulding observes. Few things escape his keen powers of observation. I have a nasty flashback when I notice a bottle of IROC beer
in the display rack. I had expected that, due to its debilitating side effects, the US Bureau of Health would have sealed their brewery in the Yucca mountains by now. Guess not. During a post-wing cocktail (more
Sapphire), some guy next to us is yelling into a cell phone. Spaulding asks him to hold it down, which he politely does. A minute later, cell phone guy correctly points out that Spaulding is louder than he was being.

"What's your excuse?" asks cell phone.

"Pbbbbbbt...I'm fucking drunk," replies Spaulding, as if it were the dumbest question ever asked. Which it may have been.

We board the 757 for Vegas. Spaulding is boisterous with the stew. He tells her she looks like Venus Williams. She does not. The flight is full, but the person next to me is a no-show. Frigging unlucky
coincidence, because guess who takes the seat? Before we even leave the gate he's yelling "cocktails!" Remember that news item, about the guy who *took a dump* on a beverage cart? I start to wonder. You won't believe this, but as we wait to depart, the stew comes down the aisle asking for a "Phil McCrackin?" I shit you not. Phil never shows. Maybe he was supposed to be my neighbor. I accuse Spaulding of having something to do with the 'Phil McCrackin' episode, but he maintains his innocence. Hmmmm. Shortly, we depart the slag-strewn acreage that is Pittsburgh.

As we rise up above the white, cottony cloud layer, I'm struck by the sheer beauty of it all. I figure I can see 50 miles out, and it's an unbroken sea of white. It looks like an arctic landscape, with towering
summits of pure white rising up like mountains out of the vastness. Again, I'm not overly religious, but it's hard to take in the view and not see the hand of a divine watchmaker. Spaulding belches, burning my eyes,
and again asks about cocktails, thus spoiling the moment.

We're an hour out before we can purchase dinner and cocktails. I get two Tanquerays. Spaulding orders four. I figured they won't give him that many, but they do. He owes $20 for the booze, but gives the cute stew $40 as a tip. Again, I don't know that they're supposed to take tips, but she does. Not all that long later, the stew is rewinding the cart. Spaulding orders two more GnTs "for later." This time, I'm SURE they won't give it to him. They do. Spaulding launches into his sermon about the power of toking. I've heard the same damn story about the guys who built his fence 50 times (he alleges that a $70 tip saved him $800). I tune him out, and let his prattle flow around my head. A bit later, the stew (to whom he
has tipped 30 or 40 bucks) comps him some headsets for the movie. He gives me a Farrah Fawcett sized grin, to drive his point home. Wonderful.

Mentally, I note how much more sedate the plane becomes about 20 minutes after beverage service. Except for Spaulding. Then, thankfully, the GnT confines me to a dark and dreamless nap about 90 minutes out.

I awake sometime later to tremendous snoring on my right. As we wing westward at 500 miles per hour, we reduce our usual motion relative to sidereal time. The 'unusually' long sunset is spectacular. When true
darkness is upon us, I'm stunned by the blackness of the view – only tiny patches of light every here and there. On the East coast, you’re never above an unpopulated, unshoppingmalled area. We must be over the Rockies.

Finally we see it. Las Vegas, as Holden wrote, does resemble a convention of ocean liners in the middle of a vast, endless sea of night. Full of poker aspirations, I wonder if I'll make a big score, or if I'm just
another jewel in Cooke's 'diamond tiara in the sky.'

To be continued.....

---------------

Fetish and Losing in Las Vegas - 02
=====

I distinctly remember when the first of our group turned 16 and we got our
hands on a car and went to our first adult bookstore ever. Spaulding was
so excited we had to make him run a lap around the building to calm down.
Our arrival in Vegas was similar.

We land at McCarron and hustle to baggage claim. It was the fastest
Spaulding has moved since trying to catch the girl in the beer cart. We
wait about 15 minutes for our bags, which seems like an eternity. I use
the time to brief Spaulding on the poker scene, while he pours 20 bucks
down a slot machine hitting zero winners. "We've got to be careful," I
tell him, "This is Las Vegas, graveyard of hometown champions. And you're
not a hometown champion. You're not a home game champion. Now that I
think about it, you're the worst player I've ever seen or even heard
about."
"Yeah, yeah," he says.

As for my poker plan, I had set aside $2K for this trip which, of course,
got sucked down by an unanticipated car problem. I mentally set a loss
limit of $1K for myself. So my plan is to start small, hopefully win, and
work my way up. God knows what kind of random walk Spaulding will be
taking, but that’s his problem.

We grab our bags ,walk out the door, and hop on a shuttle. On the way,
the driver gives his big, happy spiel. He shares plenty of gambling and
dining advice, noting that he has "probably saved us hundreds of dollars
already," not that we should feel obligated to show our appreciation or
anything. Yes, this town runs on tips and he's priming the pump. I'm
pleased that he mentions poker as the gambler's best bet. Steer those
tourists to our table baby. Oh, yeah, we're tourists too. He says he can
answer any question about Las Vegas, any question at all, don't be shy,
ask away. So I ask him where poker tournaments can be found. He gives me
a two minute, perky answer that contains no useful information whatsoever.
We each tip him a buck or two, and he's happy.

At the Flamingo, Spaulding wanders around while I wait in line to check
in. The wait isn't too bad. Once off the elevator, we walk an amazing
distance (I later paced it off at 280 yards) and enter the room. It's
reasonably sized, decently clean, but (cue "Theme from Jaws") features a
single king sized bed. It dawns on me that I booked the room before
Spaulding decided to tag along, and never gave it a second thought. This
will NOT do. Before I can call for a switch, Spaulding explains that
he'll be up all night and will simply sleep when I'm at class. Hmmmm. I
finally agree, on the condition that I always get the clean sheets, but I
still don't really like it. We unpack by dumping our suitcases. It takes
all of a minute. Spaulding starts assembling a fairly elaborate bar on
the desk. "Where'd you get all the booze?" I ask.
"Giftshop," he says.

I make sure the TV gets Discovery and ESPN (it does) while Spaulding
fetches some ice. We linger long enough for Spaulding to mix up a couple,
uh, somethings, in the water glasses provided by the hotel. I think it
was gin with a drop of Snapple, over rocks. No matter. We toast our
arrival, then head down to the host casino, where we've agreed we'll play
tonight. We'll explore tomorrow.

Tuesday, 12:30am (Eastern), The Las Vegas Flamingo
-----

We quickly find the card room, or rather card area (it is not enclosed),
at the Flamingo. It consists of about 7 tables spreading 2-4 and 4-8 HE,
and 1-5 stud. We get on all the lists and get seated separately, but at
adjacent tables, within 15 minutes. I draw a 4-8 seat and buy in for
$200. Spaulding draws 2-4 but stays on the 4-8 list. I make a mental
note that my class starts at 8:00am, which is 11:00am East Coast time, so
I can play until 4 or 5 Eastern and still be fresh for class. Half the
room is drinking Corona, so we order the same when the waitress arrives.
Actually, Spaulding orders a Corona and JD on ice. Showtime.

As I fold away on the first orbit, wary of locals and determined to play
tight, a hand develops where two guys go 11 bets on the river. Obvious
split pot as there's a possible straight out. But wait, guy #1 doesn't
have the nuts. Neither does guy #2! It was two pair against a better two
pair. Wow. It quickly becomes apparent that the whole table is a bunch
of tourists, with several first time players. My lips curls into a
greedy, Grinchly grin. Oh yeah, this is a good game.

I think the rake is lower here than in AC. There's a separate jackpot
drop, so it's kind of hard to tell with all the quarters being shuffled
around. Also, you get beer in an actual bottle, instead of Old Milwaukee
in a plastic cup that's not even topped off. The waitresses actually
thank you for a dollar tip, and for two bucks they'll make it sound
sincere, and they take good care of you. To Spaulding's delight, you can
smoke at the table. Vegas, we conclude, kicks the shit out of Atlantic
City.

Sometime later, Spaulding joins me, making the game that much better. He
rebuys for $200 on top of what little he has left from 2-4. We keep
ordering Corona, noting that the waitress makes the run to the very nearby
bar every 12 minutes or so. Neither of us has let a run go by without
needing another drink, so far. I'm ahead about 50 bucks, but that's
nothing in this game. The variance here is pretty heavy. I won't inflict
bad-beat stories on you, but they were plentiful, which is to be expected
at a table like this.

We drink and play, play and drink, and have a good old time. The staff is
very friendly. They rotate duties, so the guy dealing to you now ('Earl')
might be the brush later on in the evening. The waitresses as we've
mentioned are friendly and efficient, if not much to look at. We tip them
well. Spaulding is throwing off chips, as usual, although with the high
variance when he draws out on someone it is usually for a big pot.

Oddly, although the action is great, the preflop play is usually tame.
Everyone wants to see the flop, but a preflop raise sometimes clears them
out – even though they'll go wild betting once they've made something
(anything). I learn this the hard way when I raise with kings and it gets
folded around to me. I adjust and creep in with big hands, and save the
raises for stuff like KJo, trying to shut some people out.

For the most part, you just have to show down the best hand to win, but I
get in a few neat plays, like this one: Late position guy raises on what
might be a steal. I have AKo in the SB and just call. I just read
Hellmuth's book, and I think he calls for a three-bet here, but since I
have to act first I elect to just call. Flop comes 3 little cards and I
check. Opener bets. I put him on overcards, so I raise, planning to bet
the turn and hopefully just pick it up there. He calls. Turn is a king.
I hesitate and check, hoping it hit him. He bets, and I decide to check
raise him again. He calls after a few seconds, which makes me think the
king missed him and he has an ace high. River is an ace. I immediately
check hard, like I didn't want to see that card. He bets. I get my third
check raise in. He calls and I win a good pot for heads up. Johnny
fucking Chan.

That reminds me of an error I spotted in 'Rounders.' When that leggy,
thin, brunette beauty comes to Mike's apartment and throws herself at him,
he takes a pass. I'm sorry, but that makes 'Plan 9 From Outer Space' look
believable.

We grab some quick, mediocre food and a cigar pretty late and get back to
the game, and chain drinking Coronas. A little later, Spauldings says,
for the 27th time since arriving, "I have to go see a man about a horse."
This is his stock phrase for 'take a whiz.' Yeah, I don't get it either.
He departs. I get involved in a few hands, and eventually realize he's
been gone for at least 30 minutes. No matter, I play on. When it seems
like it's been about an hour, and they're ready to pick up his checks, I
pick up and go to find him. I check the nearby bars, nothing. I check
Pai Gow, nothing. I wander the casino floor. Nothing. Maybe he hit the
wall and had to go pass out. Not likely, but I'll check. I do notice I'm
walking kind of funny though. Could those twenty beers on top of all that
vodka and gin be affecting me? Nah, probably jet lag or something. I
check the gift shop on my way to the room, he's not there either. I
overhear someone ask the girl what time it is. 4:00am. Should I hit the
sack or play another hour? I make the 280 yard trek from the elevator to
the room, involuntarily bumping into the wall twice. Whoa.

I card into the room and stumble in. That's when I see something I wish I
hadn't. Unattractive people in a primal scene. Oh, the humanity. The
grotesque facial contortions of a whiskey-dicked loser straining to knock
one out. There really ought to be a sensor on the bed that kills the
lights when the load exceeds 400 pounds. I shudder involuntarily, and
leave.

Having no choice, I stagger back to the cardroom to play some more. I'll
give him another hour, then go sleep on the couch. I've already vowed
NEVER to sleep in that bed, which I now envision as a little toxic waste
dump with 'lil crabs scurrying everywhere. I order another Corona in an
effort to kill the brain cells storing the image of Spaulding and that
skeevey hooker slamming the ham, and settle into some 1-5 stud. This game
is even better. Almost all first time players. Three nice, chubby,
middle aged women in town together are in the game, drinking it up. They
play every hand. My EV at this game might be as high as $20-$25 an hour
if I was playing well, but I'm a little off my discipline from all the
hooch. I'm having fun though! The ladies are pleasant and we're joking
around and just enjoying the game. Nice people. I start copying their
drink orders, and have a White Russian, then a Long Island Iced Tea, then
something else. Eventually, someone mentions it is 6:20. Wow, I
definitely have to get some sleep. Once again I stagger upstairs.

The lights are off, except for ESPN on the TV. There's a big lump in the
bed. Could be either or both of them. At this point, I don't care. I
leave a wake-up call for, lets see, make it 7:15 local time. The digital
clock in my room says 6:37. Convert that to local time and I can sleep
almost 4 hours, not too bad. I collapse on the coach with the phone right
next to my head, because I'm afraid otherwise I won't hear it.

I feel like I just closed my eyes when this Godawful ringing is
reverberating in my head. I open my eyes. I'm facedown on the couch,
fully dressed, drooling like a brain damaged Labrador Retriever. My
tongue tastes like a whorehouse rug. What the hell is that sound? Fuck,
it's the phone. I pick up, and it's my wakeup call. This can't be right.
I sit up. The clock says 7:15. It takes me about two minutes to figure
out I've been dealing with local time all night, and that we were playing
cards nine hours, not six. Meaning I've been asleep for about 35 minutes.
It's pretty Goddamn inconsiderate of Las Vegas people not to use East
Coast time, if you ask me.

Spaulding blinks awake. With a voice like gravel, he says "Dude, I found
a girl."
"I know, I came in the room."
"Really? I didn’t see you."
"I left right away."
"Oh."
"Where’d you find her?"
"She found me. I was passing the bar. She asked if I wanted to partake
in the local tradition."
"There have to be much better ones here."
"I know, but it was right there, you know?"
"Were you able to, uh, finish the job."
"I think so. (He looks in the garbage can) Yep. I think it cost me
extra though."
"You didn't touch the couch did you?"
"No."
"Good. Guess what, it's time for class."
"Wow. Ha. You going?"
"I guess."

I get in the shower, clasp my hands together, and place them at my
sternum. I lean against the wall with my hands and forehead against it,
close my eyes, and let hot water run over me for about 20 minutes, wisely
using the time to pray for death. Getting cleaned up helps, but not much.
I see Spaulding brought some Visine, that's good. When I get out of the
shower Spaulding is up and about and smoking a cigar. Incredible. I tell
him I feel like I just got hit by a truck. "Bah," he says, "that was
nothing. Tonight we get serious." He assures me we'll be back at it in
full drinking mode by noon. Somehow, inexplicably, I let him convince me
that the best idea is to choke down some hair of the dog. He swears it
will break the hangover and return me to a merely inebriated state, which
is surely better, and that's what he's going to do anyway. I don't even
answer, but he mixes up something for both of us. Roughly a double vodka
grapefruit, it's not like he measures or anything, and I just drink it in
zombie mode. He gives me a hit off the cigar. "The nicotine will perk
you right up." This is *extremely* unlike me. Must be the magic spell of
Las Vegas.

"Yo, did we win or lose?" he asks me. "I have no idea," I reply
truthfully, as I stagger out the door.

To be continued.....

-------

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...


------------------

Fetish and Losing in Las Vegas - 04

More praise for this series:

"If this stupid crap is what passes for funny, then please shoot me if
I ever laugh again." -- Chris Parker (CPK332@hotmail.com)

"Shut up and Deal was long-winded boring crap, and your posts follow in
his footsteps" -- Pete Roberts

=====

Subtitle: "Fuck the GFE"

(Cue obscure music: Apache, Sugar Hill Gang)

I survive class again, somehow. I weasel out at 2:00pm, somehow, with
another assignment to complete. I spy Spaulding at the bar near the
elevators. He's talking to some real slutbucket. Kind of a butter-face.
You know, everything is good "butter face." I know, that's an old one,
but it's appropriate in this case. I don't approach them, deciding to
just watch for a minute. She's got a reasonable body, but obviously her
odometer has been rolled over. Twice. She's wearing jeans so tight that
if she had a dime in her back pocket I'd be able to read the date on it.
Got the highest high heels I've ever seen. She's smoking, of course,

which accounts for her Yoda-like weathered skin and the Darth Vader voice
("Luke, buy a lady a drink?"). Gives me a real hard off. They head for
the elevators. Oh well. He looked soberish, so this shouldn't take long.
I plop down at the bar and work on my assignment. Having avoided
drinking for an outrageous 8 to 10 hours now, I allow myself three slow
lagers. I complete my assignment in just about an hour, then wander
upstairs.

Spaulding is getting dressed, having just showered. "Dude, I scored..."

"Yeah, I know, I saw her," I interrupt. "In-call ad winner?"

"Not the winner but one of the Final Four."

"Looked like she's spent more time staring at ceilings than
Michelangelo. Not much like the hot pictures on those cards."

"I know. You should have seen the hardwood beav, looked like a gnarled
hot wing. I had to go with Russian and manual."

"Always the discriminating gentleman."

"I gotta get a good one before we leave. I have one more lead. This
internet service where girls advertise – eros.com. You definitely get the
girl from the picture. They're a little pricey though. They advertise as
escorts, but it's pretty clear by the ads that they make the two-backed
beast. Here's something I don't understand: A lot of them advertise the
'GFE,' the Girl Friend Experience. What's that? They sit there and tell
you about all their stupid problems? Fuck the GFE, I want the DHO, the
Dirty Whore Experience."

I change into sweats and crash on the couch for a few hours of much-needed
sleep. After a hot shower, we saddle up and head out for the Mirage.
Surely there will be some pros to be found there. We hit the California
Pizza kitchen for some dinner. I have some kind of pasta-garlic-shrimp,
washed down with a couple of Anchor Steam Ales. It is the only meal of
the trip that I would say was quite good.

We hit the poker room and head for the brush. They're looking for one
more person to kick off a $25 satellite. Not even knowing what game is
being spread, I take it. It is limit hold 'em, and we start with T300,
blinds of 15 and 25, T25/T50 betting. There are two older women at the
table who look like twins. Someone asks them about it. They swear
they're not related. Every single hand, they glance at each other after
receiving their hole cards. When something is obvious enough for a fish
like me to notice, something funny is going on. They both bust out
rapidly. Eight(!) minutes after starting, a timer goes off and we jump to
25/50 blinds, 50/100 betting. What's that all about? After using red
chips for all of eight minutes, we race them off. I do not win a green
chip. I get 99 and raise. It's reraised behind me and I call. Three of
us see the flop, which contains a king and two small cards. Someone bets,
I foolishly raise, and when I'm reraised I'm all in on the first hand I
play, during the SECOND level, before I've seen the frigging turn card. I
lose to KT. Thoroughly disgusted by the format, I decide not to buy into
the $120 main event. Someone now says those two old ladies (they have
left) are sisters at least, if not twins, and they both have WSOP
bracelets. I mutter that we might as well have played bingo or flipped a
coin with that structure, and leave the table. Wasn't there long enough
for my Corona to arrive.

I take a 3/6 seat and look around for Spaulding. He's in a bigger game.
This 3/6 game is worse than Bellagio. Shortly, the tournament starts.
Dammit, the satellite structure must have been so fast because the tourney
was ready to go. I would have bought in to the main event if I wasn’t
worried that the structure would suck. I play tight, as does everyone
else, for about an hour, winning one hand. Realizing I have nil EV at
this table, I pick-up, down 20 bucks, and go to find Spaulding. He's on
the rush that had to come sooner or later, possessed by the ghost of
Dice-boy, and has the whole table on tilt. I decide to sweat him and
drink up for a while.

(Cue music: Hot, Hot, Hot – Buster Poindexter)

He beats top two pair by hanging on with sevens to river a set. The fool
three bets Spaulding on the end, only to get four bet. Spaulding shows
him the wicked-witch-of-the-west laugh, which is absolutely irritating. I
get on the list in case a seat opens at this table, which it never will as
long as Spaulding is sitting. I watch him work the magic that I have
suffered through so many times. He brings out all the home game moves,
like looking at only one card. He loses some, naturally, but the deck is
slamming him over the head and he's winning more than his fair share,
working up a nice stack. The more he wins, the more hands he plays, and
the more tilted his opponents get until *they’re* giving up tons of EV as
well. He wins one with 73o, making a straight, and trots out our favorite
Homerism, "I'll never get my comeuppance! Do you hear me? NEVER!" When
he actually gets dealt a big hand, the chips pour in like a slot jackpot.
To their credit, Spaulding's opponents are very nice to him, with no
bitching about bad beats. Unlike the Bellagio, they're smart enough not
to tap on the aquarium. Eventually he looks at his chips, decides he has
made enough, and announces, "Gentlemen, you have just bought me a Dirty
Whore Experience. Oh yeah." There is a loud outcry from the table,
urging him to stay. They actually ask him where he'll be playing later.

We go outside and snare a cab. "Take us to the nearest adult book store,
my man." Spaulding figured Vegas dirty book stores would be better than
ours. They're about the same. It's kind of comforting, in a way, to know
that how ever far you may roam across this great land, you can always
purchase a prosthetic forearm and fist, should the need arise. Spaulding
is a little disappointed that the store isn't more outrageous. I don't
know what he expected, perhaps snuff films. Anyway, he manages to find a
DVD that fills one of the gaps in his extensive collection. "Dolls With
Balls 4," or some equivalent. Spaulding goes to make his purchase. The
actual DVDs aren't in the display box (for anti-theft reasons, I suppose),
so the clerk has to fish the disc out of these file cabinets. He can't
seem to locate this particular disc. Meanwhile, two cute girls come in to
giggle at the merchandise, and they're standing only a few feet away from
us. Just then, the clerk says, "Ohhhh, that's in the gay section! That
explains why I couldn't find it!"

"It's NOT fucking gay, it's a variation! Your fucking filing system is
gay!"

Back to the strip. We decide to hit some bars and clubs and, unrealistic
as the idea is, try to pick up some non-professional dates.

(Cue appropriately hip music, Copacabana, Barry Manilow)

Wow, did that not go well. Granted, we were consistently hitting on good
looking women, but most of them wouldn’t even talk to us. It was kind of
an ego blow, even for us. I think we have to work on our pickup lines.
Here's some that didn't work, fyi:

"You don't look like a hooker at all."

"Now there's a quality boob job."

"Would you call this DVD gay?"

"Do stray cats follow you home?"

"You don't get it? Think about it: what kind of smell might attract a
cat?"

Spaulding couldn't even make progress with the horsey girls. A horsey
girl is a mildly overweight woman who tries to get all dolled up. High
heels, and invariably too much make up. Because of the weight, they make
a clopping sound when they walk, hence the term.

I made this observation: If you approach a woman at a bar, and if you're
coming in from the side, if she does not make eye contact, just give it up
right there. She saw you peripherally, and your silhouette, staggering
gait, and perhaps the scent of stale whiskey which preceded you were
enough for her to make up her mind. By not looking at you, she's hoping
you'll leave her alone. If they won't make eye contact, you have no
chance. Not that we do so well with the ones who do make eye contact.

We visit the Venetian so Spaulding could take a dump. He tips the
cleaning person two bucks, and says "Dude, I totally befouled your stall."
We're looking at the canals, and the singing gondoliers. "What's the big
deal? It's about as deep as a baby pool." We visit a large room where
the ceiling is painted like the daytime sky. Spaulding asks me, "Dude,
wasn't it just dark out?" I hope he was kidding, but it's hard to tell
sometimes. We do not look for a poker room.

We visit the hotel room where Spaulding leaves some call-back messages for
his 'DHOs.' I remind him we have to check out by noon tomorrow, giving
him a very narrow operating window.

Once again, we find ourselves tilting drinks and players in the fabulous
Flamingo card area. I still can't get over the huge difference in player
quality from place to place. We get in a ripe game with several familiar
faces, most of them having never played as of a week ago. There's a
distinguished black gentleman at our table, who speaks like James Earl
Jones. First time player. Unfortunately, Spaulding (now loaded again)
thinks this is the time to lay down his severely white version of ebonics.

"True dat."

"Raise? You be trippin' homes."

"Foshizzle minizzle pizzle."

After that last one, James Earl looks at me and asks, "Is you friend
trying to say something?" I lean towards him and whisper, "He's slightly
retarded." James Earl looks at Spaulding for a few seconds, then nods in
understanding.

I actually head for bed by 2:00am or so, only to lie there for 20 minutes,
wide awake. The irony. A few Gibsons might chill me out. True dat.
Back down I go, and manage to get back in the same game. We each have a
shot of Rumple Mintz, for the sake of tradition. The nonsense continues.
Spaulding wins a nice hand, stands up and does the Spaulding dance.
Picture Chris Farley doing a Tony Manero and you’ve got the idea. A new
lady near me rolls her eyes and mumbles "What is his story?" James Earl
leans over and whispers to her, "He's retarded, don't upset him."
"Ohhhhh......."

(Cue music: Enter Sandman, Metallica)

Somewhere around 4 we take one more quick spin on the strip to see if
anything nice is out and about, and have a beer or two. When we get back
to the room, we both urgently need to see a man about a horse. I beat
Spaulding to the head. He'll use the sink, he says, he has to go that
bad. I say no way and slam the door. When I come out and he rushes in, I
notice a palm sized wet spot on the front of his jeans. "Dude, I was
ready to go and you cut me off. I had a little seepage." A grown man
pissed his pants. Nice. Wasn't Stantz in the Flamingo when he had that
'accident' described in his classic trip report? Maybe he was even if
this room. Somehow that seems fitting.

I change into my sweats and fall asleep in seconds.
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