Dear car service driver,
I've never thrown up in the backseat of a car before. Never ever.
However, if you don't stop gunning it to thirty and then hitting the breaks back down to zero as a method of negotiating this bumper to bumper traffic on the Long Island Expressway, I will christen the backseat of your Lincoln with today's lunch.
Although I arrived at JFK nauseous, I was on time, and my flight actually landed in Vegas on time too. The problem was, they made us wait on the taxi-way for 40 minutes because there was a plane at our gate. What the fuck is the deal with this? There are about 20 other empty gates, but we NEED to wait for gate B22... while tables all over the strip are calling my name... "Kid Dynnnnnnnamite," they whisper. "Negative EV awaits you!" I hear their seductive callings, but am helplessly stuck in seat 17C. I hit Big Show and Chops with text messages: "The eagle has landed," and am rewarded with almost immediate replies. Big Show is in The Office, aka, the Mirage Poker room, and Chops tells me how he'll be crushing Caesar's tomorrow for the National Heads Up Poker Championships.
As a Vegas professional, I was able to keep my plane taxi-way tilt to a minimum, knowing that there would be ample time for me to absorb all the negative EV I could handle. The lack of a cab line further placated me, and I found Big Show just as he was called for a 2-5NL seat at the Mirage. Since it was midnight on Wednesday, and I wasn't yet ready for the poker table, I convinced him to chill for a while in the Pai Gow pit, where, as we all know, it's impossible to take too much of a beating... Errr, at least, that was the plan. After dropping my bags and 1/2 my cash stash in the room, we hit the quarter Pai Gow table downstairs.
After losing the first hand, Big Show obviously employed the invincible Marty Up strategy, aka, the Martingale, doubling his bet after each loss. Within an hour, I was down over a dime, big show was down three large, and we were shaking our heads "what the fuck just happened?!?!?" There was only one thing to do: return to the room to get more cash.
We headed over to the notoriously soft, yet tilt-inducing Venetian double deck blackjack game. We crushed the Venetian game for several hours, earning a comp to the Grand Luxe Cafe in the process, but I then tilted off another buy-in at the Venetian Pai Gow table. Fuckin' A - so much for Pai Gow being a game where you can't really lose a lot. Serious leak. Several hours into the trip I was still keeping my "no Red Bull," vow alive - I had promised not to indulge in a single Red Bull for the duration of the three days - attempting to avoid the feeling of lying in bed with my eyes open, unable to stand, yet unable to sleep, twitching like a cockroach.
In the midst of the blackjack assault, we had this unusual encounter in the Venetian bathroom at around 2am: Coming out of the bathroom, a middle-aged middle American guy wiping off his hands inquires eagerly, "You boys want to have some fun?"
"Dude, you have to be careful asking that at 2am in the bathroom," I explained.
"See that big Alaskan-headed woman over there?" He continued, pointing to a 50-something woman sitting on a stool right outside the restroom. I don't know what Alaskan-headed means, but anyway...
"That's your wife," I cut him off right away.
"NO, NO. She's a hooker!" He practically shouted, "She thinks she's coming to bed with me! Go over to her and tell her you want to fuck her silly!"
"No thanks," I shrugged, recognizing a no-win situation at once.
Big Show and I returned to the blackjack pit to see him talking to her as we left. I'm almost certain it was his wife.
Before Big Show woke up, I had time to hit the Office, and absorb the effects of a 1-2NL cold deck, where I backdoored the second nut flush at the same time my opponent back doored the NUT flush, and I still somehow managed to not get stacked. Big Show arrived soon thereafter, and we went in search of food.
To fuel up for the 2pm Venetian tourney, we hit the Chipotle next to Harrah's for breakfast at around noon. Big Show worked his first expert angle-shoot of the trip, when he executed the patented Guac Freeroll. When the burrito maker scrawled the "G" on the foil wrapper of his meal to denote that he had guacamole on it, Big Show calmly placed his thumb over the "G" as he went to pay, and wasn't charged the buck fifty extra. For a guy worth more money than most people will ever dream of having, it was still a moral victory. "Hey, you have to get something for free in Vegas," he explained. I lacked the experience to pull off the Guac Freeroll, being a Chipotle Virgin, and was left to consult with Dirty Dave on the matter later: "A bead of sweat would form on my forehead, and the cashier would catch a pip of the G" Dave admitted, and had me laughing out loud at the thought.
With an hour to kill before the Venetian $330 "deep stack" tourney, we went back to basics and decided to annihilate the 4-8 limit game! Big Show executed another angle shoot, when he called a raise from the BB with A-4. He bet a flop of 9-4-2, and was raised. He bet the brick on the turn and was raised again. When the 9 paired on the river, Big Show checked, and his opponent checked behind him. "Two pair," Big Show declared, and tabled his hand. His opponent nodded and MUCKED! I was sitting on the opposite side of the table from Big Show, next to his opponent, and commiserated "Ace king?" "No, pocket jacks," he admitted, still not realizing that he'd mucked the winner.
I managed to get into this monster situation, which, tragically, was in 4-8 limit, against a complete and utter pussy. I raised in early position with pocket fives, and a late position guy 3 bet me. I called, and led out when I flopped a set on the 5-T-Q two heart board. My opponent called. The turn made me QUAD fives, and I led out again. He called again. On the river, the jack of hearts completed all possible draws, and I bet out again. This time, he raised me, and I calmly three bet. My opponent thought for 10 seconds before calling and tabling... POCKET JACKS! "What?" I practically jumped out of my seat, "How do you not lose more bets there?!!" I was in shock. "Well, I don't have anywhere near the nuts, and you have all those chips sitting there." He drawled back. I had bought in for $300 in $1 white chips, $200 of which were still in their racks, stacked on the rail.
"You can BUY these at the cage!" I whined, as Big Show laughed out loud. I couldn't believe my big stack had intimidated an opponent at 4-8 limit! I later called E-dub, master of all things limit hold'em, and explained the situation to him without telling him my hand, asking him how many bets he would have lost there. "At LEAST 5 more big bets on the river," he answered, on account of my expert flop-a-set-and-bet-it-out play.
Big Show and I hunkered down for the deep stack tourney, which is somewhat of a misnomer: you start with 6k in chips, with 25-50 blinds, and 40 minute levels, but I quickly recognized that such a stack doesn't give you too many pot sized bets to play with. I was eliminated at the end of level one when my A-K ran into KK on a king high flop, and my pot sized bet (3/4 of my stack) left me no escape.
I have to hand it to the Venetian poker room: they really do a great job. The floorman thanked the players at the start of the tourney, and provided food comps for all tourney participants. The service is great and most importantly: FRIENDLY, and they seem to genuinely care about the players. Dealers were competent, and floormen got the job done right - I was impressed when one boss, responding to a complaint from a player that the remains of a nearby veggie and dip platter were stinking up the table, quickly removed the platter himself, instead of calling for an underling to do it. The platter was also another nice gesture: one of several free snacks (cookies, fruit) for the tourney participant.
Big Show toiled in tourney hell for 5 more hours as I demolished the 2-5 NL cash game. He finished well short of the money, as I carried racks of chips to the cage, and we went in search of blackjack negative EV.
We pounded our way through several more double deck shoes, but Big Show would not make the mistake of sitting down at the Pai Gow table again. Big Show was in desperate need of a nap, and executed the patented 10pm short-buy. Still keeping the No Red Bull vow, I was dying, and hit the room at midnight, nabbing an hour of shut-eye as we listened to the sweet sounds of Big Show's latest Ghetto Mix XIV. Properly motivated, we then got dressed and decided to check out Jet.
We got the the door at 1am, where there was no line, and a dude at the desk asking for a $30 cover. "Is there a discount for hotel guests? We just want to check it out real quick," We explained. He tried to sway me by showing me his little clicker which said there were 700 people inside. "Seven hundred dudes," I muttered to Big Show, as he laughed. Of course, being completely under the spell of Mrs. Dynamite, it wouldn't matter to me. He suggested we ask the cashier girl about hotel guest discounts, which she promptly shot down, so we paid the cover and went in.
Despite an absolutely incredible sound system, Jet was mediocre. Granted, it was Thursday night, and there was no line, but the house music was a total nuisance. Also annoying was the sweat hog who kept trying to push me out of the way to get to the bar, as I was scooping my drink. I mockingly yelled at her (in Big Show's ear) "Hey, look, I know you think you're a ten, but you're more like a five and a half. If you touch me again I'm going to dump my drink on you," and he cackled in approval. The funny thing was, the music was so freaking loud that I could basically yell that right at her (which I did), and she had no clue what I was saying.
After two drinks, we retreated to the comfort of the double deck blackjack pit, where we punished the Mirage until they yielded us comps to the Caribe Cafe for a 6am nightcap. I devoured a buffalo chicken sandwich, which I washed down with a bread pudding. ON THE HOUSE baby.
We stumbled up to the room to refuel on sleep, and prepare for a legit poker cash game assault on Friday
stay tuned for Part II.