Monday, November 07, 2005

My Favorite Game

No, I'm not referring to that cool Cardigans tune. I discovered a new casino game that I enjoy playing. Since I moved out here, my gambling tastes have changed dramatically. I used to love to play craps and blackjack, but now that I work in the industry and see just how often the dice table is ice cold, and dealing 21 from the back of the table and beating the ever-lovin' piss out of people every night, I don't enjoy it as much as I used to. Besides, now that I live here my strategy is basically hit and run--make a quick profit and hit the Eject button, because I see every day just how cold the tables are for the folks that are playing.

So what's a degenerate like me to do? I've never been bitten by the video poker bug that afflicts so many Vegas residents. I mean, really, you have to get a pair of jacks or better just to tie and keep your bet? Two pair is just a push? What the fuck? People actually agree to this? And to me, slot machines are the dumbest thing ever. But of course, I've been known to throw the occasional twenty in and chase a jackpot--I guess which goes to show that we all need a dose of sucker bets at some point.

Betting the ponies doesn't really interest me very much, either. Well, mostly because I enjoy showering and brushing my teeth on a daily basis, and the regulars I see in the book don't look like personal hygiene is a big priority with them, so I guess I just wouldn't fit in. I used to enjoy betting sports until I realized that every time I made three bets and won one, lost one, and tied one, I still lost money. Not that I don't still do it, but a 10% vig is too excessive--at least to me.

So that brings me to my new favorite game--Pai Gow Poker. To me, it's the epitome of drinking games. Gamble all day long, get free drinks from the waitress, pay a 5% vig on your winnings, and still get dinner comped at the end of the day--all the time never really losing big nor winning big. My buddy Dougie is a huge Pai Gow fan (winning a cool half-million dollar progressive jackpot will do that to ya, I suppose). Anyhow, he tried to get me to play it about a year and a half ago when I was at the top of my game as a fair Texas Holdem player. I didn't really think I'd enjoy playing 'that Kung Fu shit' very much at all, preferring good old American Poker. But he told me that since there are so many ties you never really lose more than three hands in a row. So I took out $125 and sat down at a $25 Pai Gow table at Mandalay Bay and proceeded to lose my first six hands. Yeah...great game, Doug. Ass. After that I never sat down at a Pai Gow table again. Until this weekend.

My buddy Eddie was in town for his bachelor party, along with a few other dudes we've hung out with for the past several years. The first night, one of the guys kept bitching about how he hated blackjack and that we needed to find a pai gow game. Eventually we did, but I spent the first night just watching. The second night--after a 20-minute beating that cost me almost $200 at the blackjack table--I was ready to give it a try.

I tried it, and now I'm hooked. We played for about four hours, and I never got down more than thirty bucks or so, and ended up walking away with a $50 profit, not to mention all the free drinks that we took advantage of. The next day we played for eight hours straight at the Stardust, and I left with an $80 profit and a $20 dinner comp. This is the perfect game for me now, because I've become such a tight gambler that the other games have become too volatile for my tastes. (That being said, on special occasions--like March Madness--I'm still going to toss money around at the dice table like candy from a parade float).

Anyhow--now that I've found a game that I enjoy that doesn't cost much to play and chances are good that I'm never going to lose very much, I feel much more comfortable when I get visitors coming out every weekend that want me to hang out with them in the casino. So now I'm preaching the Pai Gow gospel loud and proud. Can I get a witness from the congregation?!?!?

By the way--I offer my apologies to those folks reading this looking for another Monday Morning Quarterback column like last week. After the weekend I had with the fellas, plus working until 5 am on Sunday morning, I spent the entire day in bed, only waking up occasionally to check the scores, then immediately falling back to sleep. So I saw very little football, college or NFL. And I had to work last night too. So now I'm headed back to bed for a little beauty sleep, then later on I'm heading down to the Peppermill for my usual Monday morning breakfast. I think this time I'll go with the eggs benedict and a pot of coffee. Best breakfast in Vegas.



Anonymous said...

We love it too. That is about the only table game my husband will play. Great social game, free drinks and a relaxed atmosphere. We generally play at Barbary Coast which always has at least 1 $5 table(at least in the past)

I lost 7 hands in a row one time... at least I knew when to quit!


jojovalenti said...

I've converted many over to Pai Gow myself for exactly the reasons you mentioned. Great game for drinks, which makes it a great social game pretty quickly too. Luxor and Barbary Coast are usually my favs for Pai Gow. I just felt bad when I told my students/friends not to bet the "sucker's bet" with that one dollar bonus coin-in. Then one goes and gets five aces but gets nothing instead of the $60,000 up on the board. Whoops!

doc_al said...

I need a new expression for Never now that "the day Mikey takes up Pai Gow" is broken.