Friday, August 18, 2006

Vegas: Summer Slam 2006 - Part 1

There are Those Guys you see in Vegas - you know, MOST of them in fact. The Meatheads, screaming "Vegas Baby!" every 10 minutes, and wearing straw hats and shirts that say "Porn Star" on them. They pound drinks on the plane and burnout before they even arrive in The Promised Land. I'm not one of Those Guys. I've been to Vegas. I'm not a rookie - I'm not an amateur - I go to Vegas enough that I don't have to act like a douchebag while I'm there because it will not be a once in a lifetime experience for me. Yeah, I'll wear a Party Shirt when I go out, but it won't be made of silk, and it won't have flames, dragons, dice or $100 bills silk-screened on it.

Of course, I will quote Swingers in every possible situation:

"We're gonna be up five HUNDY by midnight!" - all the time

"I'll have the pancakes, in the Age of Enlightenment" - any time we order food

"If you hurry back I have a shiny silver dollar with your name on it," - after each tableside cocktail order

"I'm gonna make Gretzky's head bleed for Superfan 99 here," - glaring at the dealer, after putting multiple units in play at the blackjack table resplitting 8's against a dealer 6

This trip was a focused mission: Kid Dynamite and the Big Show. No posse, no wives, no girlfriends - just bankroll, Tylenol, and the focus of a special ops assassin. I planned the details of the trip with an anticipatory eye that the Douchebags would never take the care to use, with a careful analysis of everything from ticket purchase, to flight time, to seat selection, to carry on packing procedure.

I know from prior experience that NYC--> Vegas airfare is a volatile beast: and I flat out REFUSED to pay the $650+ that Delta, America West and JetBlue each wanted for a round trip ticket, but with a mere 2 weeks until departure, I was playing a very dangerous waiting game. I felt like I was firing a 3-barrel bluff at the Peach Chip game, and just praying my opponent wasn't fishy enough to call me down with Q high. I was blinded by a memory of a prior trip I had booked on short notice, where the prices were similar, but as I checked each day, I had been able to scoop a ticket for sub $350 one day less than a week before the flight, like the Young Grasshopper snatching the stone from the Sensei's hand.

This time, I again waited... and waited... Unfortunately, the week before I was to go to Vegas, I'd be away from internet access, and may not be able to fully exploit potential fare bargains, so I scooped a $485 roundtrip rate on JetBlue 11 days prior to my trip. Of course, there were still issues to decide: do I take the 11am flight or sleep in and take the 1pm? Dirty Dave answered: "Easy - you're already missing work, so you take the 11am." As for seat selection, JetBlue complicates things by showing you a bullshit map of the plane that shows the seats at the back of the plane having "more" legroom or something (which empirical evidence suggests is total crap). As any experienced traveler knows, it's best to sit in the front of the plane, get the fuck off and beat the taxi line when you land. However, there was the additional potential for an "empty middle seat" freeroll in row 24, so I dropped the hammer on seat 24F.

Then, 3 days before my trip, some new terrorist shit goes down, and all liquids and gels are banned from carry on bags. I again consult my sensei, Dirty Dave, with my options:

a) check my bag and eat the time waiting at the baggage carousel.

b) ditch the toothpaste, deodorant and hair gel, carry my bag on, and replace the toiletries at a higher cost in Vegas, hopefully paid for by the winnings I incurred at the tables while I was NOT waiting for my bag at baggage claim.

Like Confucius, Dirty Dave replied, "Check the bag- the familiar toiletry brand will prevent you from TILTing off your stack with AQ..." and just like that, it was done.

The driver of the car I had called to take me to JFK was a tremendous character, but very hard to describe. When we drove past a film crew shooting on 10th street, he began to regale me with a story, in heavily broken and accented English, of a time back in his home village in Pakistan where they were shooting a movie. There was a scene where a man grabbed up a woman on the back of a carriage, but unfortunately, a Hero came to the lady's rescue, thinking she was being kidnapped. This hero (not part of the movie!) pulled out a machete, and the police arrived just in time, explaining that it was just a movie.

He then explained to me how in his village it was ok to look at someone else's wife once. The second time, you had a problem, and the third time, they would kill you. Also, it was ok for a man to have multiple wives, but a woman could only have one husband. Furthermore, if he were to marry a woman, and found out that she had a prior boyfriend, he would be justified in killing this ex-boyfriend. I sat back and smiled, enjoying his tales, and thanked him for the stories, as I arrived at JFK.

The airport security wasn't bad at all, and when I finally boarded my flight, I relished in the potential for an empty middle seat. As each person boarded, I sweated their seat selection - as if I'd just been called 3 times after raising in early position with AK and deep stacks, and was waiting for the flop. When they finally closed the plane door, my middle seat was still empty, and I let out a muffled howl, much to the confusion of the woman in the aisle. I was unable to find a way to comfortably optimize the two seats, trying to have the courtesy to not rub my ass up against the elbow of this woman, as I attempted in vain to curl my almost 6-foot frame into these two seats. After then trying the patented "diagonal straight legged stretch," also to no avail, I finally settled for some extra legroom, and, unable to sleep, was brainwashed into watching shitty daytime programming.

Seriously: what is the big fucking deal with JetBlue's in flight DirectTV service? Am I the only person in the world who couldn't care less about watching the Celebrity Poker Showdown marathon on Bravo, or Rachel Ray on the Food Network? (confession - those were the best shows I could find) I was happy to watch Sportscenter - but fine - that's 30 minutes - and ESPN airs it on a repeat loop all morning. By the 3rd hour of the flight, I was tempted to try to hustle one of the idiots in front of me, "Hey - I bet you this guy charges the mound."

Landing in Vegas, I was only mildly tilted by the baggage carousel, but quickly reversed that TILT when the taxi-line, which can be a serious Vegas buzzkill, was non-existent. I arrived at the Wynn before 2pm, and was told that there were no rooms with two beds ready yet, so I checked my bag and hit the Office - the Poker Room.

The Peach Chip 1-3NL game was soft, so I sat in it, and crushed it for 5 hours to the tune of $228, while I waited for the Big Show to arrive. Somewhere in the middle of my session, I returned to the front desk and secured a room: 1444. Now, I'm a somewhat superstitious guy, and everyone knows that 4 is the death number according to Asian gamblers. At the same time, there is another hard and fast rule amongst gamblers: you don't want to mess with Karma, which is why if you go to buy a lottery ticket, and you get the wrong numbers by accident, you HAVE to keep that ticket and buy the correct numbers: you NEVER cancel a printed lottery ticket, or it will win, of course.

So, I cringe, and ask the woman behind the desk, "Oy, you wouldn't give that room to an Asian guest would you?" "No way honey," she practically taunts me, "they'd never stay in any room with a 4 in it."

"Ummm, but this one is a good one, right?" I'm desperate now, despondent that I'd just been saddled with a triple 4: hoping that somehow MORE 4's would cancel each other out or something. "You bet - this is a VERY lucky room," she spews the corporate bullshit at me, and I promise to come back at the end of my trip and take care of her if she was right. It wasn't until later, when I finally made it to my room at 4am, that I realized that the situation was potentially even MORE dire: the hotel maintains the superstition of not having a 13th floor: so the 14th floor is really the 13th floor! Aiyahh!

Anyway, BigShow arrived, and I picked up from the Peach Chip game, as we headed off to play some blackjack. As our cordial dealer at the Wynn 6-deck shoe (the only 6-deck shoe we'd play all week) crushed me to the tune of $400, and laughed at our jokes, I asked her, "Have you ever met Steve Wynn?" "Yeah - but not really face to face," she explained. "Do me a favor," I asked her. "Sure - what's that?" She was eager to please. "Next time you see him, tell him to go fuck himself," I smiled, and she laughed out loud as BigShow let out a howl, nearly coughing his beer on the table like Men the Master.

Although I'd already enjoyed a fine poker-table-side tuna sandwich, BigShow was hungry, so we hit the PandaExpress at the Venetian food court. "Is that John Juanda?" I joked, pointing to an Asian guy 3 tables away. BigShow laughed and countered, "Luckbox?"

I took a second look at the guy, and fired again: "It's Billy Chen!" BigShow checked him out and agreed - holy shit - none other than two time 2006 WSOP bracelet winner Bill Chen. As we made our way down to check out the Venetian poker room, we bumped into Bill at the tournament sign up, where he explained that he was there for BARGE, and I salivated like one of Pavlov's dogs at the chance to circle Phil Gordon, who was sure to be in the House.

The Venetian poker room is nice: very roomy, spreading hold'em from 3-6 to 40-80, with 1-2NL and 2-5NL. They also have a decent daily tourney with 30 minute rounds and adequate starting stacks. The problem is, like the rest of the Venetian, they seem to pump some sort of horrible perfumed aroma into the place. I'm sure this aroma was scientifically designed to make people happy and dump their money in the casino, but I must be allergic to it because it drives me absolutely fucking crazy. I go on TILT just smelling the Venetian. The tournament didn't work out for me, and I went to the board while I waited for BigShow to bust out.

"Do you have any seats open?" I asked, ready to play anything. "I'll put you on the lists, Dear," the woman told me. "Nothing open at all?" I didn't come to Vegas on a Monday to wait on lists! "I have a stud seat: 1-5 limit," she told me, and I laughed: "I'll take it!" Do you know who the fuck I am? Kid Dynamite plays any and all games!

I sat down in the 1-5 Stud rock garden, where the players each had about $20 in front of them. On the first hand I folded an ace, drawing some eyebrows. "I'm a hold'em player," I explained, and they started salivating. "Hold'em players are the ones who love to play aces in stud!" they drawled, shocked. I just smiled. I played 5 hands before I was called for the $9-$18 limit hold'em game, stacking a guy for $13 in the process, when my 2-2-A-K-x-x-x crushed his 2-2-A-9-x-x-x busted flush draw.

I returned to the cage to color-change my chips: the 9-18 game uses the chocolate colored $3 chips. I posted the $6 small blind, and looked down at 3-3. The action went like this: UTG limps, UTG+1 calls, UTG+2 raises. folded to the button, who calls, as do I, the BB, and the two limpers.

The flop is K-6-2 with 2 spades. I check. BB checks. UTG bets. UTG+1 raises. Initial raiser makes it $27. UTG calls. UTG + 1 raises to $36, and the preflop raiser makes it $45. UTG and UTG+1 call.

The turn is a Q. UTG bets. UTG+1 calls. Preflop raiser raises. UTG re-raises, UTG +1 calls, Preflop raiser finally just calls. There is a MOUNTAIN of chocolate $3 chips in the pot at this point.

The river blanks off, and UTG checks (???). UTG+1 checks his busted flush draw, and the preflop raiser tables his AA, which is no good of course, UTG has a set of 6's (horrible river check!)

After 3 more hands, I'm called to the 1-2NL game, and carry my rack of $3's to this table. "I guess I'll go change these chips again, unless you guys want me to use the doodee colored chips," I mock, as a few players laugh. I go to the cage to change the chips, but BigShow sidles up, busted out of the tournament, so we decide to instead tackle the deep penetration double deck game at the Frontier.

At the Frontier, we benefited from a dealer who didn't know that they did NOT allow surrender, and even made the mistake of offering the angle-shooting BigShow the ultimate freeroll: she had an ace showing, and asked if anyone wanted insurance. BigShow turned his 16 over and said "surrender," which she obliged, BEFORE checking her hole card! She returned 1/2 of BigShow's bet, and then proceeded to turn over her blackjack, and sweep the rest of the bets! Angle Shoot of the Week by the BigShow.

When the pit boss came by later to change the decks, I asked her, as I've asked every pit boss for the last 4 years, "Can I have a joker," as she peeled them out of the new deck. She hands me the joker, and I'm flat out shocked. I look at her with my mouth open, "Can I have another one?" and she hands me a blue deck joker to complement my red deck joker. BigShow immediately pipes in "Let's go hit the PaiGow table," and I'm laughing out of control (in PaiGow, jokers actually play, which is only ONE of the reasons the casinos never EVER give them to a player.) I'm extremely grateful for the jokers, finally successful after years of asking, but turn to BigShow and mutter, "this probably means they're tearing the place down in 6 weeks."

I cash out of the Frontier +$257, and get a $16 cheeseburger at the Wynn to take up to my room before crashing at 4am. I lie in bed twitching like a cockroach - the burger, red bull, and vodka at WAR in my stomach and central nervous system, and I swear there are bedbugs eating me. I periodically turn on the lights to check and verify that there are actually not any bugs in the bed, and notice that BigShow is still not back. He rolls in around 8am, having hammered the Wynn craps game and double deck blackjack graveyard shift.

stay tuned for part two, which will include a world class call by Kid Dynamite in a big NLHE pot, taking cards off the table at the Wynn Peach Chip game, the best steak I've ever had, and BigShow sticking a fork in me by putting a violent bad beat on me at the Mirage NLHE game.

until next time,


Jordan said...

Great stuff, KD! You know how to roll, and you know how to trip report. Kudos!

Jeff Sealey said...

Strong post. Very entertaining. Props.