Sunday we woke up early to place our bets for the Dallas - Minnesota NFC Divisional Game. Big Show was down in the sports book checking the lines, as the rest of us stirred and rallied. The line was DAL + 3, and Dirty Dave and I wanted to get down on Dallas. Matty piped in from the adjacent room "I like Minny- cross it upstairs - cancel off the floor!" Dirty Dave quickly told Big Show that we had a natural cross, and he placed no bet for us in the sports book. Five minutes later, Big Show called back to say that the line had moved to DAL + 3.5 -120: Dallas bettors were getting another 1/2 point, but had to lay extra vig. We quickly tried to renegotiate with Matty to strike this new deal with him - which was actually probably a good deal for him, since we weren't paying him vig on the DAL+3 bet, but were willing to lay 120 for the extra half point. Matty emphatically refused, and I'd spend the rest of the day taunting him mercilessly about how he negotiated himself out of an extra 20% when Minnesota blew the Cowboys out. That's how you turn a losing bet into a win - remind your buddy who has the other side that you tried to make an even WORSE bet but he refused to take it!
We made it down to the Grand Luxe at the Palazzo - the less crowded version compared to the Venetian's branch - where we spotted the uber-rare pack of White Tigers. I'd spent the weekend formulating the theory to explain why the only women remaining in Vegas were barely legal first time visitors skanked to the max, but here we encountered a large group of mid-thirties women with babies in tow! It's extremely rare to see a pack of White Tigers, but to see them with their young is akin to seeing Haley's Comet. I was in awe.
Sigmas would continue to abound, however, as we hit the craps table. Mrs. Big Show had a big roll and got us headed the right way, and then Big Show took the dice. Everyone placed their "pass line" bets, rooting for Big Show to make his number, and I triumphantly and loudly placed a "don't pass" bet. Craps isn't as hard a game as it sounds like. On the initial roll, if you roll a 2,3, or 12 you (the pass line) lose. If you roll a 7 or 11 you win. Any other number becomes the "point," and if you roll that number again before you roll a 7, the pass line wins. The rest is just more internal iterations of the same cycle, with opportunities to bet all sorts of different numbers at slightly worse than true-odds payouts. Normally, everyone bets the pass line - and is cheering for the shooter. Every once in a while, someone bets the "don't" - which means they lose when everyone else wins, and vice versa. The Don't bettor is never popular, but I relished the chance to emphatically place a "don't" bet against the Big Show to induce bajungi tilt, and when he sevened out promptly after a handful of rolls, wiping out everyone at the table but me, I loudly fist pumped and shouted "YEAH! THAT'S what you get for wakin' up in Vegas!" Which of course prompted him to slug me in the shoulder, and made the box men (the casino guys running the table) roll their eyes and shake their heads as they chuckled.
Dirty Dave, connoisseur of the unusual and massively negative EV special craps props bets, threw out a red chip and announced "snake eyes high horn!" The stick man was puzzled for a moment, before realizing, "you meant Horn High Aces," correcting Dave - the horn bet is a one roll bet that either 2,3,11 or 12 will come on the next roll. Horn High Aces just meant that the extra dollar was supposed to double up on the A-A, 1-1, aka "2", "aces" or "snake eyes." Dirty Dave lost the bet, as expected, but Junior was curious. "What's that?" He inquired. "It's bad," I intervened, as I was standing between him and Dirty Dave. "no no - it's very good - just do it," Dave countered, joking, yet prescient, and Junior threw out his own Horn High Aces bet, with The Professor controlling the dice. The Professor promptly rolled snake eyes, earning Junior a 30-1 payout. Junior didn't even realize that his bet had been pressed and was still live until the next roll - when The Professor repeated the snake eyes, earning Junior a nice return, and eliciting an eruption of high fives from our end of the table. Professor's roll ended with a large profit for all of us, and we decided to bail.
We retreated from the craps table to get situated for the Jets-Chargers game, snagging seats in the Venetian sports book. I'd had the realization (which turned out to be wrong, of course) that this game looked a lot like the Indy-Baltimore game from the previous day - the Ravens and Jets were both big defense running teams who had QB's tasked with not losing the game for them. The Colts and Chargers were highly tuned offensive machines, both heavily favored at home. I was prepared to make a large wager on Chargers - 7, where the line had closed the previous night, but by the time I got there, it had moved to Chargers -8.5. This actually ended up saving me, because I made a little bet instead, which went down in flames. Fortunately, I had resisted the urge to bet my bankroll on the Chargers money line, laying 4-1, which would have been an unmitigated disaster when the Jets won outright.
After the game, Dirty Dave, Junior, Matty and the Professor prepared to head home, while Big Show, his wife and I hit the food court. I abandoned my standby - Panda Express, in favor of the Panda knockoff - Wasabi Jane's, but that didn't stop us from debating if Panda Express was taking a bit too liberal definition of the term "gourmet" when they made the claim "gourmet Chinese food" on their signage. At the minimum, it's a vast stretch.
In all my Vegas trips, I'd never been downtown, and the three of us decided to make the pilgrimage. Our cab dropped us off in front of the legendary Binions, and I sauntered inside to look at the poker wall of fame. I laughed at the fact that Binions still has an inscription below Johnny Chan's picture that reads "Oriental Express," when the knickname is now "Orient Express," as the term "oriental" is reserved for rugs, not people. Of course, I'm guessing Binions doesn't give two craps about political correctness, and the "oriental express" label was probably more authentic in a joint like this. I collected a one dollar chip from each of the Fremont Street casinos, with the exception of the LV Club and Golden Gate - who both refused to sell me one, on the grounds that under gaming regulations, they need to keep cash on hand to cover all outstanding chips. (why it's harder for them to hold my dollar bill in the safe instead of a chip, I don't understand, but anyway...) I could have gone to buy chips at the table, pocket one, and then redeem them, but I really didn't care that much. Two German tourists in front of me were trying to do the same thing though, and were on BAJUNGI tilt, yelling at the cashier at the Golden Gate. "Fuckin' Germans," he said, as I stepped up and politely asked to buy a chip, even though I had an inkling that this was what caused the strife in front of me. He laughed and explained that he couldn't sell me one, and I nodded and walked away, as the Germans bought chips at the table, and slammed them down in front of the cashier after pocketing one of them.
After collecting 6 different chips, I pulled them from my pocket, and taunted Big Show - "six dollars... MY WAY!" He instantly corrected me: "THEIR WAY!" and I was left frowning and nodding.
Downtown was crowded - we were looking for a juicy double deck BJ game or Pai Gow seat, but couldn't find 3 open anywhere. After watching the "Fremont Street Experience" light show, we were mezmerized by the Glitter Gulch "Gentlemen's Club" marquee sign. It's a true classic:
As you can see, the sign features a rotating parade of women whose tops come off and are edited with exclamations such as WHAT? SHAZAM! YIKES! INDEED! HUMPH! ADZOOKS! ZOUNDS! and REALLY??
Big Show adopted "ADZOOKS!" as his exclamation, while I chose "HUMPH!" to repeatedly shout at the blackjack table whenever something bad happened. We found a nice table at the Golden Nugget - Steve Wynn's original project - and sat down for several hours.
We were hanging out, having a good time, when the relief dealer, Lucy, on her second time around seemed a little on edge. I took advantage of the opportunity and tucked a blackjack on her instead of turning it face up. As she turned it over, I yelled "ZOUNDS!" and Lucy got pissed and started telling me that she could pay me even money if she wanted to. "HUMPH! you canNOT!" I replied, as Big Show choked on his beer. Lucy was muttering under her breath about how I didn't even seem to care that I got a blackjack - oh man - BIG mistake. I had been just chilling out, playing $10 blackjack, but after that each time I got a blackjack or she busted, the Golden Nugget casino floor was treated to a very loud "THAT'S what I get for waking up in Vegas!" At one point, Big Show and I turned to each other on opposite sides of the table, and made a simultaneous fist pump while yelling "BOOM!" totally spontaneously. The young kid between us was absolutely dying laughing in his chair, as were we, and even Lucy had to laugh. Before leaving, she painted one of those vicious 6 card 21's for herself, sweeping the table of bets, and eliciting a Scooby Doo-esque "ZOINKS!" from me.
We picked up and headed to the Four Queens to play some Pai Gow, where I proceeded to get pounded on by the cards, in a bad way. I did manage to tilt the whole table by mostly refusing to play the horrendous side bet "Fortune Bonus," except for on occasion when I'd confuse them greatly by betting it for the dealer instead of for myself. A dude came running by our table and up into the restaurant, with a barrage of security and police following him. He was promptly tackled and dragged out. Oh man - you don't do that stuff downtown! They will take you in the back and beat you with a ball peen hammer!!!
We retreated to the safety of the strip, and headed off to bed, preparing for one final assault on the Palazzo's gaming tables on Monday morning.
Monday, I woke up and beat the Big Show down to the blackjack pit. I was drinking the patented deconstructed-Mimosa: a glass of orange juice and a glass of champagne, separately. A southern guy from Florida at my table was gently ribbing the Asian dealer - asking her how long she'd been dealing there. When she said "one week," he followed up with "Where were you before that - the Stratosphere?" And I nearly spit my drink on the table. Big Show and his wife made it downstairs, and we had brunch at First in the Palazzo shops - decent if overpriced food, before returning to the blackjack tables to burn a few more bets before I had to head out to the airport. I told the cabbie "do NOT take the highway," and settled back to anticipate the shitstorm waiting for me at Manchester Airport on the other end of my journey.
Mrs. Dynamite had texted me the day before "expecting 5-8 inches tonight - oh - and it's gonna snow too!" BOOM! But I had an issue with the foot of snow we ended up getting. See, in my never ending quest for EV, I'd carefully monitored the weather before making the decision to park my car in the outdoor lot at Manchester Aiport on my way to Vegas, thus saving 50% off the cost of parking in the indoor garage. Since it wasn't going to snow, it wouldn't matter. Except it did snow. Twelve inches. And I had no jacket, no gloves, no boots, and only a little teeny ice scraper in my car. My flight was delayed, and when I finally made it to my car at 1:30am, all I could do was laugh, as I wiped the heavy slush from my windshield.
When I paid the parking attendant on the way out, saving $30, I made a sarcastic "whoop" out loud in my car, shouting to no-one in particular: "Thirty dollars... MY WAY!"
Until next time...