Sunday, March 23, 2008

Vegas Leap Year 2008: Part III: The Abyss

I'm sure you've already read Part I and Part II.
Saturday I woke up rested but still reeling from the beating I'd taken at the 5-10NL table the day before. I focused on the positive: that I'd gone 3 for 3 with my advanced "handicap by name" horse picking technique, where I hit on Friday with 1) Kennan's Josh, 2) Big Pooch and 3) Tug River Princess. Big Show and I stopped by the sports book, where I picked up 10 different racing forms to scour for good horse names as we strolled over to Chipotle to fuel up.
I perused the forms as I pounded a chicken fajita burrito, and knew I'd found a grand slam with Bologna Lips in the 4th race @ Meadowlands. I also bet "Juiced" in honor of the Clemens debacle, and some other horses with names so stupid I can't even remember. Shockingly, the momentum failed, and I went 0 for Saturday on my horse picks. Fahhhhk!
We decided to dominate the Venetian $500 Saturday NLHE tourney, even though I've been focusing on cash games lately. I stepped up the aggression early on, and quickly had my table trained to recognize that Kid Dynamite was not to be fucked with. One donkey to my left commented out loud about how relentless I was and how he didn't want to see me at the final table. I mentioned that I didn't think he'd have to worry about that, and that he was indeed correct - he did NOT want to see me at the final table or at any other table he was at, as I smiled politely. This guy ordered a hot tea with honey and lemon - aka - The Dirty Dave - which nearly caused me to jump out of my chair. He then bought me a complimentary hot chocolate, after I told him they were top notch at the Venetian. After half the field got eliminated, I was moved to Big Show's table, where he gave me the rundown on the donkeys there, including a tricky guy in seat one who thought he was the shit.
I took one look at Mr. Smooth and looked at Big Show, announcing from across the table, "I've played with him before," as I looked at the guy and smiled. He was the Mirage Bully from my January 2005 Winter Assault trip report - and I remembered the hand I'd stacked him on more than 3 years ago. I looked at the guy and nodded. He smiled back. "I've played with you before," I explained... "Mirage. You used to be a dealer right?"
"I deal at the Wynn," he told me.
"You used to deal at the Rio, right?"
"YES! A LONG time ago," the guy was pretty surprised that I'd thrown this info at him.
"I remember the hand I stacked you on - I had a set of deuces and you turned Q-5 into two pair," I recited. I remembered the hand well. I was not surprised that he could not recall the hand.
Now, when I explained this table talk to the resident pro in my local game, he questioned why I'd want to put it out there that I had that kind of recall and attention to detail. The answer was simple - in a tourney where the blinds and antes are high and I want all the respect and steal equity I can get, I want my opponents to know one thing: DYKWTFIA!??!?! (in case you're knew to Kid Dynamite's world, that's DO YOU KNOW WHO THE FUCK I AM?!?!!?)
Mr. Smooth nodded with respect and I knew I wouldn't have to worry about him trying to take advantage of me. When he reraised my open raise with 8-8, I laid it down and was shown JJ. Four hours into the tourney, with half the field gone, I couldn't avoid busting out against him though, when my stack dwindled and I open raised with A-8 suited in late position, only to run into his pocket tens, and, priced in, called off the rest of my chips. His hand held up, and I retreated to the Venetian pool deck to recap the weekend action via phone call with Dirty Dave as I reclined on a chaise lounge in the setting sun. After calling US Airways to successfully upgrade my return flight to first class, I was in a better mood, and dialed up Dirty Dave.
Dave commiserated my NLHE cold decks from Friday, and admired the advanced blackjack tilt plays Big Show and I employed. He got me pumped up to make another casino pit assault that evening, which commenced soon thereafter when Big Show busted out 30 minutes later. Big Show joined me poolside, but we quickly got kicked out of the pool for being too jacked and tan - I don't know how they could tell through my Columbia full zip pullover - maybe it was just that the pool was closing.
Now - I promised my most loyal reader Bones that this trip report would not contain any pee or poop references, but Big Show had the funniest line of the trip in the Venetian bathroom. We were taking care of business at the urinals, with a little Asian guy at the pisser between us, when Big Show looked in my direction and asked "How desperate are you?"
Hmmm... Tough question - I'd been lamenting on my beats at the poker table, but when this question is posed in the bathroom by the Big Show as he's looking at me over the head of a little Asian dude, the implications can be dire. I tried not to laugh, pursed my lips, and asked, "Do I even DARE ask why?"
"There's a $1 chip in the pisser," Big Show explained, as we burst out laughing.
"If it were a yellow chip ($1k) I'd go after it bobbing-for-apples style," I retorted, which prompted the discussion of how big the chip would have to be for you to fish it out of the pisser. Big Show said he'd go after a redbird ($5)... No no, I'm kidding... It's important to consider that the Venetian does NOT have the blue AstroTurf in the urinals - the chip is floating by the piss-mint. We left it for a future patron, but I'd bet my bankroll it didn't last 90 minutes in there. There is ALWAYS someone desperate enough in Vegas.
Since it was a new month, March 1st, I had another $25 match play which I wanted to slam on the Pai Gow table. There was a guy who was banking every other hand, as per the rules at the Venetian, and this caused all sorts of controversy with the match play. In Pai Gow, you can BANK the game, which means you cover all the bets on the table, and the players play against YOUR hand instead of the dealer's hand. They told me I couldn't use the match play card when this guy was banking, since he couldn't be made to pay it off. I politely explained that this was absolutely absurd, and they should call their supervisor, as the guy could still bank, and the Venetian would just have to cover this $25 if I won. This nearly caused an international incident with the 20 Asian pit personnel in the pit, who conferred and concluded that the match play could NOT be used when the guy was banking - which I'm POSITIVE cannot be correct.
The thing with Pai Gow is that there are so many ties, so I had to keep taking this thing down every time the doucheball in the one seat banked. This guy was a professional Pai Gow player - at least he thought he was, and I started calling him Monopoly Man out loud, as he had a shiny bald head and a bushy moustache. Big Show set the over/under on MM's net worth at $400k, and I instantly took the under. I begged the Big Show to let me pull out two dimes and bust this guy, which of course would have made the Big Show's weekend, but I pussed out and steamed every time I pulled back the match play card and won - at least I was putting beats on Monopoly Man. Eventually, I managed to win the math play freeroll, which prompted a joint "I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE!" from the Big Show and Kid Dynamite.
I was SEVERELY tilted when we went for a walk through the high limit salon which is adjacent to the pit we were playing in, and I had barely taken two steps before a female Asian pit boss materialized in front of me and actually put her hand on my chest, stopping me and asking me for ID! Now, one of the great things about casinos is that they never know who has money and who doesn't, which is why they are usually not rude to people like this, and in this case, the pit boss clearly did not know who the fuck I was. I handed her my ID, and after 10 seconds snatched it back out of her hand. "I'm not done!" she hissed at me, and I explained that I was a guest of the casino with a line of credit, I was 31 years old, and she better FUCK OFF promptly, only not in those exact words. I retrieved my ID, and peed all over the floor in the high limit private bathroom (I kid I kid - I live by the Golden Rule: if you wouldn't want someone else to pee on the floor, don't pee on the floor yourself, even if the pit boss is a b-yatch).
Big Show and I went in search of food, and ended up at Emeril's Table 10 in the Palazzo, where we sat at the bar and had a few appetizers each. The food was decent, and primed us to continue our assault on the double deck blackjack game outside the high limit salon at the Palazzo. We were again comped cigars, and I put the waitress on mega-tilt by asking her for a glass of port. "I don't know if we have that," she wined, but I told her to run along and ask the bartender, and she returned promptly with a suitable result. Even the pit boss was tilted, raising an eyebrow and asking "What are you drinking?"
"Port," I replied matter-of-factly, before rolling over a blackjack, standing up, and bellowing "and I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE!" Big Show convulsed with laughter as he tried not to throw up. I'm not afraid to admit that I engage in blackjack racial profiling. I don't like to play with people other than Big Show to start with, and if a doucheball who clearly doesn't know how to play comes to my table and fucks up my mojo with suboptimal play, I'm SUPER easily tilted. So I took proactive measures when a likely candidate strolled up, and told Big Show we were leaving immediately. We walked into the Salon, and quickly convinced the pit boss to cut the limit on the baccarat table from $200 to $100 so we could break our baccarat cherry, and do what we've been wanting to do for the past several trips: rip up a whole shoe of cards at the baccarat table!
It was not at all hard to tell that we'd never played baccarat before, and our antics thoroughly entertained the pit boss and dealer. The great thing about baccarat is that no matter how big a donkey you are, the house edge is the same: there are no strategy decisions, only a decision on who to bet on: Player or Bank. Whomever has the highest bet on each side gets to turn over that side's respective cards, which caused Big Show and I to bet against each other sometimes, just so we could taunt each other, and BOTH rip up the cards.
The other great thing about baccarat is that the players DEVOUTLY chart the results on a little piece of wide graph paper they give you. Like it fucking matters. My chart was a world class piece of work, which included stock trend graphs, haiku, smiley faces, "I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE" written all over it, and a phenomenal array of gibberish written in both red and black ink - my biggest regret of the weekend is not saving it. Before each bet, Big Show would inquire "what does the chart say?" "Player - definitely," I'd tell him, and we'd get down on the player, and alternate who got to rip up the cards.
Suddenly, a South American cartel guy sat down at our table in the two seat, with a guy who looked just like Turtle from Entourage, his buddy, in the one seat. It turned out they were Mexican, but I'll call him Escobar anyway. I was in the four seat, which of course isn't numbered "4" because four is an unlucky number in Asia - my seat is numbered "5"... Anyway - Turtle and Escobar were a strange mix, since Escobar looked to be about 55, and Mexi-Turtle was around 28. Big Show muttered to me "this could change our dynamic a bit," and he was right, as Escobar's $500-$1000 bets quickly sized us, and meant we suddenly no longer got to rip up the cards unless we dared to bet against him! We loved Escobar's panache though, as he'd ask the dealer to turn over the cards: "Show me one card," then pause, consider it, breathe deeply, "And the other," while we had just had the dealer flip over the hand that we'd be going up against.
After dropping $5k in cash on the table, losing it, and losing another $6k in cash, Escobar pulled out another $5k and laid it on the table. At this point, the pit boss - in baccarat it seems there is always a pit boss standing over the table - steps in and says "Sir, I need more identification before I can complete this transaction." Wow. Talk about doing your job - the insinuation was immediately clear to me, having worked on Wall Street and having had to undergo training in regulations related to money laundering: this guy looked like a cartel member, and he wasn't putting any more cash on the table without them running his passport. It didn't matter that Escobar had been walked over to the table by a Palazzo host - the host had failed on his promise to deliver Escobar's player's card, and this pit boss had seen enough and wanted more ID. The game came to a halt, as we sat silently while Mexi-Turtle tried to negotiate and explain that the passport was in their room at Caesar's. Escobar encouraged us to play on without him, and finally got his visa issues straightened out, before dropping another buy-in and leaving.
Somehow during all this, I found myself stuck $2k, and gave the pit boss the signal that I needed another $2k marker. Although I'm really not a big gambler, I found myself betting $500 a hand in baccarat - a game in which I certainly had no edge and had never even played before. This was not normal behavior for me! I was supremely tilted, and felted again, as I signaled the pit boss for another 2 dimes. Fuck it - if you're going down, go down in FLAMES - I was staring into the abyss.
Down a full $5k, I consulted my chart as Big Show went to the bathroom, probably to avoid watching the Kid Dynamite Trainwreck. I pressed my bets from $500 to $700 to $1100, winning five hands in a row, and almost instantly erasing my debt. Suddenly, the fucking pipe smoker - and I don't mean this guy chugged cock - he was ACTUALLY smoking a pipe, bumps his bet to $800 to cover my $700 bet, and before I even know what happened, the dealer has shipped him the cards. This is after I had won 5 hands in a row! You don't need to have a PhD in Baccarat Etiquette to know THIS IS NOT SOMETHING YOU FUCKING DO! I was somewhat surprised that the dealer hadn't even given me the heads up - not so much as a glance to see if I wanted to get into a bigger dick contest with the PipeSmoker and up my bet to keep control of the cards and the streak. Of course, we lost the hand, and I steamed about as hard as I ever have in a casino, as I eyed the guy and tried to give him a mental vibe that he'd just fucked up in a way that was not even possible to describe, and I wanted to fight him to the death. He didn't receive my telepathy, so I took the $2500 I had in front of me, and walked out of the baccarat pit down $3500, dragging Big Show to the $200 double deck table right outside the salon.
We absolutely SLAMMED the double deck game - where I made back the $3500 in less than THREE shoes! I won hand after hand, pressed my bets, doubled down and won - and was suddenly even. Having stared into the abyss and come out alive, I told Big Show: "I'm done for the night. I just want OUT of this. I want to buy back my markers and be even with the Palazzo." Big Show appreciated the sentiment, called me a pussy, and continued to battle solo at the table, while I walked back to the Salon.
I approached the pit and handed a different pit boss there my card, asking him if my markers had been sent to the cage yet. He retrieved the pit boss who'd presided over my game, and whispered in his ear that I wanted to buy back my markers. The pit boss who'd written my markers immediately had a look of disbelief on his face; shocked that I had managed to get out of the hole, and not realizing I was standing there. I tossed him two chips: a $5k chocolate and a $1k banana, and he retrieved my markers, which I promptly shredded and threw in the toilet, once again having escaped the clutches of the Palazzo.
After wandering back and forth between the Palazzo and Venetian for about an hour, I bailed on the night, and headed to bed before 3am on Saturday - and new record pussy performance for a Vegas Veteran. The near-death baccarat experience had taken its toll on me, and I needed rest before our final assault on Sunday morning.
We woke up and hit Chipotle again - Big Show couldn't handle it and went with pizza instead. After lunch, we walked south on the strip, marvelling at the mass of development underway. It's shocking to stand there by the City Center project and realize how far behind the ball those guys are - they are about 5 years too late.
Before heading to the airport, we had a few hours to hammer the Palazzo double deck blackjack game, but we couldn't avoid the ceaseless flow of ignorant doucheballs. Dirty Dave explained to me later that this was the Sunday through Wednesday convention crowd. At one point, we even asked the pit boss to RAISE our table minimum in an attempt to keep out doucheballs, but even this failed to deter them, and I went and steamed off $800 at the Pai Gow table before Big Show and I shared a cab to the airport.
The first class treatment soothed me - yes, thank you, I WOULD like a warm cookie, which I would be happy to eat with a fork and knife - and I dozed intermittantly on my trip home, pondering the next trip to the Desert.
until next time,


Eric Lindauer said...

You're in rare form on this one KD. Hilarious stuff.

Anonymous said...

I read every poker blog out there and this is the one blog that has me laughing at loud at my desk. Good stuff.

Schaubs said...

Awesome stuff. Great recap(s), you are one crazy mo fo for playing a game that you have never played before. nutso actually.

Jordan said...

Hey KD. I really enjoyed the trip report. Great stuff and well written.