Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Numbers

Well, on Sunday night we ended up making about $119 per eight-hour shift worked. That means that I only got about $89 since I left two hours early. Grrrr...

In a stunning turn of events, however, this night I was just the absolute cooler--wiping everybody out within minutes of arriving at each table, yet I managed to drop more tokes than I did on Sunday. I don't know how to explain it. It was dead again tonight--half of our tables were closed by 1am. Since it was the beginning of a new pay period, my 'Friday' night, and they asked me about five times if I wanted to leave, I decided to pull the rip cord a couple hours early.

Funny, I'm not really that tired, but this extra two hours of sleep is probably gonna cost me fifty bucks. Although there have been many times in my life where I would've gladly paid fifty bucks for a couple hours of sleep, this doesn't feel like one of them.


Monday, January 30, 2006


It's been a loooooong strange weekend and I'm glad that tonight, Monday, is actually my 'Friday' night. I've got no plans for the next two days but to relax, maybe get some sun (it's warm and sunny here in Vegas--time to lounge by the pool), do some reading, maybe do some writing, but otherwise decompress for a day or two.

It seems that a bunch of the gals I work with wanted to go out on Friday night after our shift ended. No problemo, sez me. So I went out with them and we ended up staying out until 10:30 on Saturday morning. I crawled home, went to bed and didn't move until it was time to head back to work eight hours later. I feel like I somehow lost an entire day of my life this weekend. Yeah, I had fun, but I don't think I want to do it again. Next time I spend that much time drinking with that many females, I better see some nudity! Of course, I wasn't really trying--I work with all of 'em, so after around 5 am it was more like babysitting.

Saturday night, however, was a great time at work. I was making a fortune in tokes, and lost count somewhere around $850 or so on the money I dropped. A few of my co-workers were saying they did well, too. So I couldn't wait to get back last night and see how we did.

The first thing I did once I walked into the casino was to check the toke book. Unfortunately, we had too many dealers working that night and only made $140 each--kind of a letdown.

Then we followed it up by spending the evening dealing to the biggest pack of stiffs I'd ever encountered in a casino. I spent my first hour last night dealing blackjack on a $5 shoe game, and just dumped the rack to everyone. I must've given away almost a thousand dollars--I was working with my A-list material, telling jokes, keeping the game fun, but I couldn't pry a tip out of those morons for anything. I even had to tell them to tip the cocktail waitress and the gal who brought them their cigarette comps.

I can understand if somebody doesn't tip dealers, not knowing any better, but if you're going to stiff a cocktail waitress, then you're just a cheap bastard that needs a healthy dose of karma in the near future.

Fucking losers.

After that I went to pai gow, not the greatest game in the world for dropping tokes, but I usually do well. I dealt one lady a straight, two flushes, and a full house, all in a row. She had $10 on the bonus each time, so her little run made her $150 plus her regular winnings.

She didn't part with a dime, either. Hmmm...

I began to wonder if it was me, but when I got tapped out one of the floor supervisors mentioned something about nobody was tipping at all in the entire pit--the casino was full of stiffs. I went on break and heard the same stories from other dealers. It seemed like all of the good players were taking the night off. It felt like I was back at the Golden Gate.

But the worst was later on, I went to a $10 double-deck blackjack game and just gave away damn near every chip in the rack. One dude was down to his last $75 and I took him up to over $1400. Did he make a single bet for the dealer? Nope. Even when he'd get a blackjack with a $75 bet, I'd pay him $112.50 and he'd stack up the silver on top of the bet and let it ride--most folks will always bet at least a dollar for the dealer on the next hand. So when he won that bet, instead of giving him a $5 red chip for his $2.50 in silver on top, I'd give him more silver in an attempt to drop the hint. He insisted on coloring up. Another lady at the table started giving him shit about stiffing the dealers (hell yeah!) but he just ignored her and said that he only tips when he colors up at the end.

I could just tell that he was full of shit, so I made it my goal to see that he wasn't able to color up. Unfortunately, I had a stretch of two shuffles where I either got a 17 or busted every hand and just gave away all the money. Not a dime from the players, so after about a half hour of telling jokes, trying to be fun, and being a goofball, I just shut up and dealt in high gear, hoping the house advantage would kick in a little quicker. Everyone still won plenty of cash, but only the lady at third base who was calling everyone out ever tipped at all.

When Mr. $1400 finally colored up and left with his $1200 profit, he didn't say a word, but left me a buck and a half. A generous fellow, indeed.

I guess some people just don't appreciate good service.

By 1 am, I hadn't even dropped $30 in the toke boxes, the casino was dead, and so I felt like I wasn't pulling my share. So I took a couple hours of EO time and left at 2am, not wanting to dilute the already weak toke pool any further.

I've been working there for 9 months so far, and every night I've worked we've made at least $100 per dealer, usually far and above that. But I'll be shocked if we made $75 a person last night. We'll find out. Either way, it was a crummy night to end the pay period on.

Oh well--it can only go up from here. Luckily the Super Bowl is next weekend. Last year, I think the dealers made almost $400 apiece that night.


Anyhow, thanks for letting me rant and get that out of my system. I need to get my game face on for when I head back in a few hours. Can't let one bad night affect my outlook.



Sunday, January 29, 2006


Hey, check out number 55 on this list! I've always felt like I was working at a pretty special place, and this is a little real-world validation. The average salary listed for table games dealer seems a little low to me, but then again, if you take into account what the folks at some of our smaller and further-flung properties bring in, I guess that justifies the number. My casino is #2 in the family as far as dealer income is concerned, only the kids over at The Ranch make more. But I'm happy where I'm at.

One thing I noticed was that Schwab was nowhere on the list. Funny, when I worked there, they made the list every year. Now that I'm gone, they're nowhere to be found. Behold the power of Mikey!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Eating My List

Besides New York, and maybe San Francisco and Chicago, Vegas has got to be the best city in America for it's variety of good restaurants. I've had some especially good meals in this city--and not all of them at the fancy spots that everyone thinks about. From a serendipitous visit to Ellis Island for steak and eggs, to a surprisingly excellent prime rib meal at the Cortez Room at the Gold Coast, Las Vegas is a never ending conveyor belt of great meals, a gastronomic adventure one could call The Neverending Story had the name not already been taken.

You already know my affinity for breakfast at the Peppermill, steaks at Fiore, fish at Ortanique, and a no-frills lunch at the Binion's Snack Bar. But there are soooo many more places to try. Since I plan on living here until the day I cast off the lines forever and head for that tropical horizon, I may as well enjoy it. And since I like to eat even more than I like to write, I've decided to explore all of the great restaurants available to me, one at a time, and share my experiences with you all. Who knows...several years down the road, I might have enough material gathered to actually publish a book.

So as much as I'd like to be a culinary Christopher Columbus, sailing off into the fine dining unknown, I have no European queen as a patron. So it's gonna be done pretty much out-of-pocket. My own pocket, that is. I'll hit a new place maybe twice a month, more if I'm lucky or especially flush with cash. It should be a fun experience, and besides, who says you have to gamble in this town just to have a good time?

Just sitting around in my room I came up with the following list right off the top of my head--places I haven't been yet and would like to try. As always, additional suggestions are welcome.

Emeril's Fish House
The Palm
Eiffel Tower
Mon Ami Gabi
Bally's Sterling Brunch
Nob Hill
Michael Mina (Bellagio)
2nd Street Grill
China Grill
Daniel Boulud Brasserie
NY Pizza & Pasta
Carluccio's Tivoli Gardens
Casa Di Amore
La Scala
Bradley Ogden
Firefly (on Paradise)
Mesa Grill
Rosewood Grille
William B's
Sonoma Cellar
Circus Circus Steakhouse
Smith & Wollensky

And again, that's just off the top of my head--I'm sure there are more great places to try that I've never been to or probably even heard of. And of course, if anyone out there would like to join me in this adventure whenever they are in town, by all means, let me know (This means you, Dave P!).

I'll probably start within the next two weeks--I've got that first 'full time' paycheck coming up, and nothing but a cellphone and cable bill due.

I can't wait to get started.


Salad Days

How about a little food bloggin' this afternoon?

I've been feeling like cooking some real food lately, instead of just living on cereal and sandwiches at home and eating the better stuff at work. For some reason, the food in the employee dining room, which used to be wonderful, has turned especially sucky in the past month or so. Of course, I can still get made-to-order stuff from the grill, but there's only one cook that I trust with my food, and he doesn't come in until around 10pm every night.

So yesterday I was in the mood for a salad before I went to work. I started with the basic salad mix-in-a-bag that I bought the other day, chopped up some sun-dried tomatoes (I like them better than fresh ones in just about everything), added some chopped ham and grated cheese, some herb and garlic croutons, bacon bits, mushrooms, chopped olives, and topped the whole thing off with a dollop of Litehouse Ranch with Jalapeno. Oh hell yeah. Not bad for rabbit food. Of course I was burping jalapeno ranch all night at work, so there were some unfortunate side effects.

I was finally getting hungry again around midnite, and for some reason I can't figure out, they break out the prime rib in the middle of the night for the employees. So during my 1 am break I was happily munching on a thick slab of prime rib with horseradish and a scoop of mashed potatoes. That held me over for the rest of the night.

Instead of having breakfast this morning, I waited until around 1pm and spent some quality time in the kitchen mixing up some more tasty vittles. I chopped up an onion and some mushrooms, and sauteed them with some fresh garlic. In the meantime I seared some nice lean boneless porkchops I still had in the freezer, compliments of my friends Becky and Terry sending me a stash from Omaha Steaks last year. Once the chops were nice and golden, compliments of my favorite cast iron skillet, I added them to the veggies and topped the whole thing off with a can of cream of mushroom soup and let it simmer for a bit. While that was cooking I made some fettucini alfredo and put some biscuits in the oven.

It all came together perfectly and I feasted while reading the morning newspaper. I would've had wine with the meal--it just seemed like a meal that needed white wine, but 1) I have no wine glasses and 2) I only have one bottle of Chardonnay on hand and I forgot to chill it anyways, and 3) wine shouldn't be drunk alone.

But the best part, I think, is the leftovers. I didn't eat half of what I made (there were four pork chops), so I've got another fine meal on tap for the weekend.

While rummaging around in the freezer, I found that I still have a box of Omaha Steaks Sirloin Burgers on hand, too. So lunch next week is taken care of, too.

Speaking of food, I've re-evaluated my position on Food Network 'hottie' Giada de Laurentiis. She used to be one of my favorites, but now her show is just unwatchable to me. The porn-director closeup shots of everything is annoying by itself, but her ridiculous over-pronunciation of Italian words irritates the hell out of me. It's even worse when later on in the same segment she pronounces the same word in American English--it just makes her seem like a pretentious buffoon. So she's no longer allowed on my tv or in my kitchen.

Of course, if her career goes south and she's forced to do Skinemax movies to support herself, I'm not above watching that...


Pai Gow Nightmare

I'm just waking up this morning, haven't even had any coffee yet, but I wanted to relate this story while it was still fresh in my head.

I was dealing on the $20 Pai Gow table late last night/early this morning, and there were only 3 players at the time. Two gals had $10 Fortune Bonus bets up, along with their regular $20 bets, the other guy was just betting a buck on the bonus.

Anyhow, as I'm dealing out the cards, the gal who got hers first picked 'em up and set her hand and told me that she has a flush. Nice--a $40 bonus. But before I get all of the cards dealt, the Shufflemaster malfunctions, jams up, and I can't deal out the last two hands. It's an automatic misdeal anytime that happens, so I called the floorman over to tell him, and I collected all of the cards. She wasn't too happy with me, but them's the rules. Not my fault, nothing I could do about it.

So we pull all the cards out of the machine, make sure it's working again and no cards are chewed up, and put the next deck through. Nobody's bets have changed because of the misdeal. So the machine is happily humming along, I deal out all the cards, mine included, place the marker on top of my hand, then sweep up all the unplayed hands.

The other girl is all excited, and shows me that I dealt her a Four-of-a-kind. Nice--that'll pay a $250 bonus. I told her it's because I'm making up for the previous hand misdeal. Then, her friend--the one who just had the flush--told me that she's got a straight this time. Ok, things are looking up.

I waited for everyone to set their hands, removed the marker from my cards, turned them over, fanned them out across the layout, and something is immediately wrong.

I only had six cards instead of seven.

Uh oh.


Yep, you guessed it. Another misdeal. Talk about some pissed-off people. Instead of $310 and winning hand payoffs, we had to sweep up all the cards and replace both decks. None of the hands could be paid. I was a little bummed about the situation, but again, machine malfunction is an automatic misdeal. Nothing I could do about it. So they left my table, angry of course, but the new cards worked fine after that--not a single hiccup.

But after I got off that table, I told the shift boss about what happened and they said they'd replace the machine right away. Problem solved, but damn, four-of-a-kinds don't happen very often--it sure sucks to lose out on one due to a technicality.

On a happier note, I had a fun group of people follow me from table to table for a couple of hours--it was four dealers and one floorperson, from the new South Coast Casino. They were day-shifters out on their night off doing a little gambling, and we had a lot of laughs. And being dealers, they tipped very well--I was dropping $10 to $20 per hand in my toke box, so that helped a bunch. And it was nice to make some contacts. The floor guy told me to come see him whenever I'm at the South Coast and he'll hook me up with free dinner anytime. I think I may have to take him up on that offer.

Finally, since it was a weeknight, the casino pretty much emptied out around 2 am and we had more dealers than tables. A few dealers took the Early Out option, but I'm trying to avoid doing too much of that. And now that I'm officially full-time, they can't send me home. So I was doing 20 minutes on, 20 minute break for a couple of hours, until they sent me over to the dice pit where I stood on an empty game until 3:40 this morning. I got the 'last break', so I got to clock out and go home a few minutes ahead of everyone else.

Not a bad night at work.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Just Do It

I've had ESPN playing pretty much nonstop on my tv for the past few days (minus a couple of hours for island tunes from Brother Jimmy), and I've got another commercial to add to my list of favorites.

It's that new motivational Nike commercial with AC/DC's Rock-n-Roll Ain't Noise Pollution providing the soundtrack. It shows the dedicated athletes getting up early in the morning and putting in all the hard work, illustrating the idea that in order to be a champion, you've got to get up at the crack of dawn and get after it. It's a pretty good message and I love the hook at the end of the commercial with the familiar buzz of the alarm clock.

It almost motivates me enough to get up early and go to the gym.



ESPN Needs To Shut The Hell Up Already

Warning--foul language to follow.

Man, nothing irritates me more than manufactured controversy disguised as 'news'. And nobody is more guilty of it than ESPN.

The current windmill they're tilting at is the fact that none of the new NFL coaches hired since the end of the season have been black. So what? Who cares? I sure don't. I also wouldn't care if none of them were white.

They're making a big deal that 65% of the players in the league are black, but only 6 out of 32 coaches are black. That argument doesn't fly, because the league is much much more than players and head coaches. There are support staffs, assistants, trainers, doctors, equipment managers, business office personnel, logistics specialists, etc. etc. etc. And not every player wants to go on and be a coach when they're finished playing, just like not every coach is a former player. So quit using that tired argument. Besides, last time I checked, blacks make up 11% of the population in this country, so having 6 out of 32 coaches sounds like pretty good progress to me, if affirmative action turns you on.

Hey, here's a novel idea--just hire the best person for the job, regardless of what color they are! Nobody gives two shits that Tony Dungee is black and Bill Cowher is white. All that matters is if they are a good coach. Raiders fans have learned that Art Shell is terrible head coach, but he's a fine coodinator--just like Norv Turner. Color doesn't matter--ability to get to the playoffs does. So again, who cares what color the guy is who's wearing the headset on the sidelines?!?!? All that matters are the W's.

And if I paid a couple of million dollars to own an NFL franchise, I'll be damned before some jerkoff in New York tells me who I have to interview to run it. Fuck that! I'll hire whoever I damn well please, thank you very much. If I could get Lovie Smith, I would. If I could get Bill Belichick, I would. But nobody is going to tell me that I have to interview X number of minorities. It's degrading to them, knowing that they are just window dressing if the franchise already has somebody they're interested in. If I owned an NFL team, I'm sure I'd have an idea of who I wanted to hire long before I interviewed them. I'd put together a list of 5-10 prospects, hoping that one or two in particular would fit. Too bad if none of them are minorities at the time.

Case in point: The Detroit Lions went after Steve Mariucci a few years back without bending over the couch and letting political correctness give 'em a quickie before they hired him. He was the guy they wanted and they hired him. Any business owner should have that same right.

Seriously, they're telling us that if the greatest coach in the NFL, Bill Belichick, who is white, became available, teams wouldn't be tripping over themselves to throw money at the guy and get him to sign a contract? Oh wait, but first we need to bring in a couple of token black guys, just because.... of what? How in the hell does that improve the so-called shortage of minorities in head coaching positions? In fact it does the exact opposite. Minorities will be reluctant to interview for those jobs thinking that they are nothing but filling a quota to keep the fucking do-gooders in the league office and mainstream media happy.

Again--who the hell cares what color you are? Can you lead and can you win? That's all we're interested in!

We'll never get past race as in issue in this country until the idiots with the microphones stop talking about it. Honestly, the fans don't care about the color of the coach. We don't care about the color of the quarterback. We just don't care. So get over it and find something else for your bleeding hearts to drip on. If you start talking about it like it's some big controversy, I'm changing the channel. When you get back to real sports news, I'll come back.

So shut the hell up about race--the rest of the country has moved on.

Rant over.


I Have Found Me A Home

It's a beautiful sunny day here in America's Playground, and if I didn't have to work tonight, there would be some rum in my glass of Coke. So I'm drinking the unleaded stuff today. But I'm just kicking it here at the house, catching up on email from the last week, and reorganizing my stuff into smaller and smaller boxes. My closet is completely full and my storage junk needs to be consolidated. So that's what I'm doing--trying to make room for all of my clothes and throwing out junk that I've been carrying around for the past few years.

I'm beginning to feel like Vegas is home, so organizing my nest is now a priority. No more living out of boxes and suitcases. It's time to unpack for real.

But providing the soundtrack to my day is the two-disc Meet Me in Margaritaville set that Hoya copied for me before she came out a couple weeks ago. I will admit that I've been kind of slacking as far as listening to Jimmy Buffett is concerned, but I have a reason for that, even if it borders on low-grade psychosis.

For a couple of years, all I ever listened to was Jimmy Buffett and nothing else. So whenever I hear it, it reminds me of all the good times I had hanging out in my buddy Ed's backyard. For a long time it was The Party House, and I can't even begin to count all of the times we'd hang out back there, grilling steaks, tapping the keg, playing volleyball in the pool, and sometimes getting high in the toolshed. And Brother Jimmy provided the soundtrack each and every time. We had so many cool parties that created so many great memories, and whenever I hear Jimmy Buffett tunes, they trigger those memories--the parties at Ed's house, the sailing trips, the concerts where I'm doing tequila shots from semi-nude parrot head chicks in the parking lot, camping trips up to the pines outside of Payson, road trips to Vegas and San Diego--all the great times I had with my best friends.

Of course, on the road trips when we'd drive through Kingman, Derek would pop his little head up from the jumpseat in my truck and start singing Pencil Thin Mustache as soon as we'd see the sign for the Andy Devine Blvd exit. And we'd laugh every time.

And there was the time Ed forgot to call home after we got to Catalina, and so his dad panicked and called out the Coast Guard to search for us, saying our boat was missing. They found us later that night, safely anchored in a cove off of Catalina Island, drunk on rum, listening to Boats, Beaches, Bars, and Ballads, playing poker and smoking cigars in the cockpit, oblivious to the fact that the entire Coast Guard south of Pt. Conception was out looking for us.

Or that time right after I got laid off from Schwab, and my buddies were so pissed off that one day lounging around the pool Derek made an almost irresistable business proposition. He found a beach bar for sale down in Belize. The plan was to cash in all of our stock options and 401k money, form a partnership, and buy it. It might've happened, but somebody beat us to it. But Jimmy was there for the first (and last) board meeting.

Those days are over now. I only get to see those guys a couple times a year now. Ed moved to a new house further northwest out of Phoenix, Eddie B moved further southeast, Derek moved to Austin, and here I am in Vegas. I don't know if the four of us will ever get together again in Ed's backyard and party like we used to, so those are truly treasured memories.

Because of that, I don't want to listen to too much Jimmy Buffett these days--I don't want to cheapen the memories. A few years down the road when this pirate looks at forty, I don't want to hear Fruitcakes and think about all those times I sat in my room folding laundry and organizing my closet.


Vanity Plates

Yes, we are getting the cart way out in front of the horse, but when I finally *do* buy a new vehicle, I think I'm gonna go with vanity plates. This is the one I want:

I can't put a space between the HRCN and the MKY, so maybe I'll go with this one:

Unfortunately, just plain old MIKEY is already taken. Any other suggestions? The Vegas-style plate holds just five characters, but I'm leaning toward the style shown above with 7 characters.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

It's a little scary to me to find out that I'm on the same wavelength as my friend Angy is on, again. When that happens, trouble is sure to follow. But for the past several nights I've kept a pad of paper and a pen on my nightstand in case I get any flashes of inspiration during my nightly drool-fest. Lately I've been thinking of making a new cd of party tunes to celebrate with during March Madness. And just this morning I got an email from Angy asking me for recommendations for songs to download for her 'March Madness in Vegas' cd.

So maybe this time will be safe to be on same wavelength, but not taking any chances, I recommended that she download the classics--Elvis, Sinatra, Dino, Sammy, Tony Bennett, etc., while I'm going a more modern route and making a cd full of cheesy party goodness. But I've come up against a brick wall. I've only thought of a few songs, and can't come up with any more.

So, dear readers, I need your help. This is what I have so far:

Sweet Caroline
Mrs. Robinson (The Lemonheads version)
Bust A Move
Dancing Queen
Ready to Go (Republica--the song from Vegas Vacation where Audrey is dancing on the neon sign)
Keep It Comin' Love
Runaround Sue
That Salt N Pepa song in the Nextel Commercial (Oooh Baby Baby??)
I Touch Myself
Mambo #5
Fat Bottom Girls
Answer the Phone

That's about all that I can come up with. The comments section is open for your suggestions.



American Broke-Ass

I was just browsing over at Amazon.com and found that I can buy a boxed set of all four of the previous seasons of 24 for the bargain price of just $170. Hmmm... First full-time paycheck coming next week... February rent is already paid...

Can I justify this purchase?

I've got a freezer and pantry full of groceries already... The gas tank is full... I haven't bought a new DVD in months... I missed all of season 3... Don't need to buy any new clothes right now... Maybe if I commit to putting $500 into the IRA first... The humidor is full... I got my money back from those crooks at the bank... Nobody is coming to town for a few weeks that I'd need to set aside any 'entertainment' money for...

But wait. A trip to the man-spa runs about $125 for an afternoon of relaxation and grooming!

Sorry Jack. You're going on the Wish List for now.


Casino Life

Sorry for the late post, gang--I was out buying stuff on credit all day. Just kiddin', actually I slept in late, then went grocery shopping and such. After that, I made some lunch (Hebrew Nationals were on sale, 2 packs for five bucks!) and then it was nappy time. I woke up in time to catch Pardon the Interruption, got a few laughs out of that, and now I'm here happily pounding the keys for your entertainment.

It seems like my comment section has blown up over the past couple of days, and I gotta tell ya, that warms my heart. It means people are somewhat interested in the stuff I spout off about.

So lets talk about life in the casino. As far as being on the back of the table and 'winning every time', well, it doesn't feel as good as you think it would. Honestly, most of the time I'm rooting for my players to win. Winners tip bigger than losers. My livelihood depends on it. Even as a stockholder in the company, I don't care if I dump my rack all night long because 1) the players will generally give it all back and then some at some point, usually the same night (People rarely walk away after a win--they press until they lose it all back) and 2) Bigger tokes attract better dealers. There is a reason that it takes so long to get full-time status at my casino. There is almost no attrition whatsoever. Everybody loves working there--the money is good, and the environment is fun and easygoing. When the dealers are happy, the players are happy, and it's always good for the bottom line. Besides, when I 'win', I'm not winning any money for my own pocket, so it doesn't affect my outlook in a positive way.

On a few rare occasions, I root for players to lose. Inconsiderate smokers, bad attitudes, non-tippers--I'd love to bust 'em all. Unfortunately, it all depends on how the cards fall.

As far as the biggest tip I've gotten personally--It was $100, the player waited until I clocked out and got off property until he gave it to me--they won a substantial amount at my dice table several months ago, and didn't want me to have to share with the other guys at the table (although he left a few chips behind when he colored up, too). It was kind of a surprise. I wasn't expecting it--I walked out to head to my car and he was outside waiting for me. That was nice.

While at the tables, I've dropped $300+ a couple of times after a few particularly big hands, but that is rare. My usual 'big' toke is $50. One night I had a guy betting $25 every other hand, so when the hand would win, it would be either a $50 drop or $62.50 if it was a blackjack. That was a nice hour to be on the table. But most of our players will tip us between $1 and $5 per hand.

And as much as I hate the 6-5 blackjack game as a player, when I deal it (we have one $10 single deck 6-5 table) and the player gets a $10 blackjack, the extra $2 is almost invariably played for me on the next hand. So as a dealer, I don't mind that game as much. As a player it was my personal line in the sand, but truthfully, the house edge isn't as substantial on that game as it is on any slot machine, or any of the carnival games. Hell, even roulette has a bigger edge, and nobody rails against it. My beef with the game is that it's single-deck and I'm shuffling all the damn time.

As far as the worst beat-down I've ever laid on a player, one night I took a guy for $22,000 in less than ten minutes. He didn't win a single hand with me and I took every one of his orange and yellow chips. Fortunately, it was on the tail end of a very bad losing streak for him and he didn't get too upset with me. He'd already been through Denial, Anger, Bargaining, and Depression, so by the time he got to my table, already down $40,000, he was well into the Acceptance stage.

I think the beating that I felt the worst about happened just a couple weeks ago. I was dealing Pai Gow on a full table, with every player participating in the Envy Bonus. I was dealing out a hand just as I got tapped out to go, so I had to finish it. Unfortunately, I dealt myself a straight flush with a pair of kings on top and wiped everyone out. If the number generator had landed on any other number besides 1 before I dealt, everyone at the table would've won some money with the envy bonus, and one lucky player would've scored huge. Instead, I wiped them all out... It was spectacularly ugly, and I felt bad about it.

As far as going out and buying stuff on credit, well, not so fast my friends. I certainly won't buy razor blades on credit. Sheets either. But a car, absolutely. I'm still trying to repair my credit from the Dark Times in 2001 and 2002, so anything I purchase won't be on the best terms available. I will probably wait until May to get the new computer--one of the perks for being a Stations employee is that we can buy Dell computers interest free and have the payments payroll deducted. I'm eligible to participate in that program starting in May. And as crappy as the Ghetto Sled is (yes, everyone says it ain't that bad, but they don't have to drive it every day), it's still running like a top and I'm hoping to make it last a few more months, trading it in once the no-air-conditioning thing starts to become an uncomfortable problem.

As much as I'd love to have a Chrysler 300 or a Dodge Charger, I think I'm gonna go with a Dakota pickup truck. I like them too, and they're cheaper and more practical. And I won't buy brand new this time, either.

I haven't bought the truck yet, but I've already got the vanity plate picked out.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Conversation With the Boss

So last night I was dealing Pai Gow on two of the $20 tables, and a $5 blackjack shoe game. During my first hour of Pai Gow, I had a pretty big player--betting upwards of $300 per hand--at my table who was not doing well at all. Unfortunately, he was getting decent hands--lots of straights and 3-of-a-kinds--but I was getting monsters, flushes and full houses. So with every loss he kept getting more and more animated (and by animated, I mean pissed off), throwing the cards around, stomping off, basically just letting his emotions get the better of him.

Suddenly I felt like I was being watched and on one shoulder I've got the floor supervisor, and over the other shoulder I've got the Shift Boss. (I guess that explains why the player suddenly stopped acting like a jackass...)

I turned to give him a quick glance and heard him say Feeling the heat, Mikey?

I nodded and laughed, and then proceeded to set another winning hand, taking the guy's last $500. He stormed away from the table, while I pushed the cash into the drop box.

Boss: How much did you take that guy for?

Mikey: About $2500 in the past half hour.

Boss: Do me a favor. Go buy yourself something nice on credit tomorrow.

Mikey: (confused) Why?

Boss: Because you're going to be working here for a very long time.

American Badass

I just finished watching hour five of the latest season of 24, and I'd have to say that from what I've seen so far, Kiefer Sutherland is this generation's John Wayne or Clint Eastwood. Seriously, is there anyone besides Jack Bauer you'd rather have on your side when The Shit Hits The Fan?

I didn't think so.

He's like an ass-kicking McGuyver that doesn't need to toss out a goofy one-liner ala Ah-nuld once he's finished kicking said ass. And I like how he lays down a Jason Bourne-type beating when he gets jumped, without the Zapruder-film cinematography needed to convey the surprise of the ambush. I just wish I knew what kind of beer he drank, so I could Be Like Jack. The network is missing out on a huge marketing opportunity here... Regardless, it's still the best show on tv, nothing else comes close.

As great a show as it is, I can't help the nagging feeling I get that tells me that it would be an even better book. But that's a small quibble. And the fact that I have to work on Monday nights reinforces my belief that Tivo is one of mankind's greatest inventions. Add Netflix and pizza delivery to that list, and you have the Holy Trinity to the true-believers among the couch potato sect.

Damn, I can't believe that I have to wait another week.


Monday, January 23, 2006


A few comments from the comments section...

Sipote: In case you haven't heard, the opening line for the Super Bowl is the Steelers at -4. Not too shabby for a #6 seed, but it reflects two things--the clear superiority of the AFC, and a majority of the betting money is going to Pittsburgh. Tonight I'll stop by the sportsbook and see if they have a list of prop bets yet. If so, I'll post 'em here.

Rob: Going to the doc is not an option yet. I talked to the HR department just this morning, and they still haven't gotten my paperwork processed yet. There was a benefits meeting today, but my gang wasn't participating. It looks like my bennies don't kick in until March 1st. I should be fine by then. God, at least I hope so. But half the people I work with have the same affliction--a lingering cough coupled with a minor head cold.

WaltysMom: Yes, some days I drop huge tokes, sometimes $500 or more. But then it's not that common and when I do, I usually write about it. More often I'm a few bucks above the average--definitely a producer--but there only one or two true 'deadbeats' that I work with. Everyone there pretty much pulls their fair share. The problem is that some games just don't bring in the tokes. Let It Ride and Pai Gow are notorious for stiff players. And we have that horrible dollar dice table full of old fleas. Four guys work their asses off all night on that table and maybe drop a hundred bucks between them. Some nights I'm on that table, and it doesn't matter what I do, the players just don't tip. Also, some games sit empty--pai gow players, and a lot of bj players don't want to play alone, so I'll be standing on a dead game for a half hour at a time, too. I can't deal the $10 and $25 blackjack tables every night--that's where we make the most money. Luckily we are on a 24-hour split, so if I work on a big day, I get a bigger paycheck. I prefer the system we have now--if we kept our own tokes I'd bitch every time I sat down at the Let It Ride or Pai Gow tables. But I'm part of a great team of dealers--they're all fine people.

Everyone: Let's just chill on commenting on Stephanie. I may have been a bit hasty with my writing. She came in to see me last night and reminded me of our 5am conversation the other day. She drove to Arizona, attended a funeral and such all day, drove back, then went to a concert at the Hard Rock that night. So she went to bed. It's not like we're dating or anything, so it's not that big of a deal. At least she gave the courtesy of coming by to see me last night. And yeah, Vegas is full of hot women. She's one of them, so the typical guy that I am gives her an occasional pass. But the 'Village Bicycle' line made me giggle when I wrote it. Truthfully, I doubt anything will ever happen between us, though.

I think that's about all for now. If anyone has any other questions, just drop me a line!


No Planes, No Trains, Just Automobiles

Get on over to the 1st Church of Dave and tell the good reverend about your dream car. Surprisingly, I don't really have one right now. I'd just settle for something with working A/C and electric windows that didn't need manual assistance. I'm looking at replacing the Ghetto Sled one of these days, and soon I'll get to drop it off at the automobile hospice and get something more befitting a person of my social status and refined tastes.


Sunday, January 22, 2006

I Know I Can Be Colorful

It's a lazy Sunday morning, and while I woke up without the alarm, I still don't feel like I've gotten enough sleep. A cup of Don Francisco's is helping, but now I'm out of creamer. Guess I won't drink the whole pot this time.

I left work an hour early last night--I was getting WORKED--so when the floor manager came around asking who would like to jet at 3 am I gladly volunteered. I dealt $5 shoe blackjack all night long, and let me tell you, that game brings out all the expert players. It just amazes me how stupid people are with their money. I mean, we already have a pretty substantial house advantage--people don't have to give us their money by playing like complete farking morons (and then getting upset when they take the beating they so richly deserve for their own stupidity) !

Seriously people, if I'm showing a seven thru ten, draw until you hit a hard 17 or you bust. It's that simple. And if I'm showing a 4 through 6, once you hit 12 or higher, quit taking cards! If you learn nothing else about playing blackjack, learn those two simple rules. Oh yeah, and quit splitting nines. And it's not the dealer's fault when he keeps making his hands with the low cards that you refuse to take--it's your own stupid asphalt.

Generally, I really want people to win and have a good time at my table, so it irks me beyond all comprehension when I see them throwing their money away. I try to give a few helpful hints, but they never seem to sink in. In that case, I just shut up and deal and hoover up all of the chips with a knowing smile. I guess the lesson here is to go long on the gaming sector because the world is full of idiots.


Well, Stephanie never showed up last night, and we played the same game as in the past--Give me a call and we'll hook up. So I did, and it went to voicemail, and she never called back. I gave her the benefit of the doubt the first time, so this second time was the last time. Besides, I'm beginning to wonder if something is up because it seems like every guy in the casino knows her, so I'm afraid she might be the Village Bicycle. I sure hope not.

But after I called her, I escaped the casino and headed over to the bar to hang out with my gang for awhile. It was a mellow night--I just smoked a cigar and nursed one drink for a couple of hours and just played a little video blackjack, making $25 in the process. I was home by around 5:30 this morning.

Now that I'm up and functioning, getting ready to settle in and watch some football, I did a little more online shopping. The open collars on the new uniforms present a problem--no white shirts are allowed to show underneath, black only. All of my t-shirts are white v-necks, but they still peek out at the collar, so now I have to get me some black t-shirts for work. While ordering them, I also bought three more pairs of those nifty black polyester work pants that the chicks dig so much, and then treated myself to a new Hawaiian shirt--I haven't bought one in months, so I feel like I'm due. Besides, my wardrobe is slowly turning all black--pants, socks, t-shirts, so a little splash of color is probably a good thing.


Saturday, January 21, 2006

Once More Into the Breach

Alright, this will exhaust my supply of favorite headlines from Fark.com. Again, they were creative headlines linked to actual news stories. All of them gave me a chuckle, so enjoy!

Austria to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth. Festivities to include shrimp on the barbie, Foster's.

Japanese dude bowls 11 hours; doesn't abide.

Thai ice-cream vendor attacks dentist with sword. There can be only 31.

Historians suggest Lincoln may have put his log in a can long before Hasbro did.

Delaware crossing re-enactors finally succeed after failing for three years in a row. Good thing these guys aren't fighting for the country or we'd all be speaking English right now.

Arab superheroes on the way. Superfriends seen putting up concrete barriers in front of the Hall of Justice

Nazi party adopts a highway. Residents angered that the group will only pick up white trash.

Bush says he'd welcome Abbas to U.S. but only if they agree to play "Dancing Queen".

Woman runs off road, hits tree, falls down 30-foot embankment, gets hit by train and survives. Man in black robe with scythe reported muttering at the scene, "I really thought I had her with the train".

Teens charged as adults with making bomb threat to shut down Nantucket ferry service. In other news, federal prison is not where you want to become acquainted with the man from Nantucket.

Chicago beats Houston four times in a week. Bobby Brown still holds the record.

The bad news is that Pete Townshend is going deaf. The good news is that he is a third of the way to becoming a pinball wizard.

Chinatown bus catches fire. All passengers exit safely, circumambulate bus, re-enter.

Buffalo shot after falling onto highway. Rochester and Syracuse nervously work on their balance.

Eighty percent of New Orleans currently covered in water. Remaining 20 percent still covered in urine.

Pope denounces materialism from balcony of marble, gold-domed building in midst of jewel-encrusted religious icons while wearing giant gold cross.

Pilot injured after plane crashes into Wal-Mart, signaling that the war against Wal-Mart is entering its kamikaze phase.

Marshall Mathers officially back together with Kim Mathers, claiming he only did it to get some Jerry Mathers.

$2,700 toilet seat stolen. Police have nothing to go on.


They Call Me the Workin' Man

I guess that's what I am...

Oh man, I'd forgotten what it was like to work full time again. Although the money is nice (and our tokes seem to be going up this week, too), I'm still not completely over being sick, so it's wearing me out. But just the weight off of my shoulders concerning finances and stuff like health insurance and retirement savings is completely gone, so between that and being as tired as I am when I get home, I've slept pretty soundly lately.

Last night flew by, but for the first time in god-knows-how-long I didn't deal any pai gow. I was on carnival games all night, dealing Let It Ride, Crazy 4 Poker, and a couple of hours on a $5 blackjack table (we only have one open during the week, but a few more on the weekends). I was having lots of fun, and dropped a good amount of tokes--probably over $500--so it was a fun night in the casino. What made it better was that my girl Stephanie (the one I met on Christmas Eve) showed up and played at my tables for a couple of hours.

Of course she called and woke my tired ass up at 5:30 in the morning, but she was on her way to Kingman for the day to attend a funeral . But she said that she'd be back tonight and we'd go out after work. Should be a good time.

In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy my afternoon kicking back around the house watching some college hoops and drinking some of my Mt Gay Special Reserve & 7up over ice out of my Mirage poolside party glass and mixed with my official Paris Las Vegas stir stick.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

Diamonds & Pearls

Man, where do I begin?

Ever since I've lived here, that whole 'going to Vegas' vibe has been totally different for me. It's tough for me to get excited to go down to the Strip and party all night and hang out with friends. Since I'm here every day, a little bit of the shine has come off of the diamond. But every now and then, I'll have a night like last night that puts it all back in perspective and makes me remember why I love being here and just how fortunate I am to have such goofy friends. Last night was one of those epic experiences.

Around 6pm, Angy called me and told me to meet her as soon as I could get down to the Strip, so we agreed on the Monte Carlo Brew Pub. After I hung up, I gave Andrea a quick call and she agreed to meet us again. 45 minutes later I found Angy and her husband Dave sitting at the bar with an empty stool next to them. It was pretty crowded in there, but Angy had the foresight to put us on the waiting list for a table. In the meantime we sat at the bar drinking High Roller Red and catching up on the days activities. After a round or two, our table was available and we sat down in the front of the pub near the stage.

Andrea was running late--her roommate's car broke down and she had to go pick her up, but she kept in contact thru text messages. We ordered some food while waiting, and the grub at the pub is pretty damn good. Angy got some coconut shrimp, Dave had a quesadilla, and I had one of their pepperoni pizzas. After dinner, we decided to change up our drinks, and I found the perfect one for Angy--it was called a 'Nutty Lady', and it featured rum, chocolate, and amaretto. It sounded so good that I had one too. Immediately our buzz kicked in.

This is Angy acting on a tip that Sarah Conner was somewhere in the pub

About that time Andrea showed up and the party was on. She had some catching up to do so we kept the waitress busy. We just hung out at the table telling stories and having some laughs, waiting until 10pm. That's when Purple Reign took the stage. Yep, the same Prince tribute band that's been playing at the Boardwalk for the past few years has upgraded to the Monte Carlo.

If you haven't seen them, you're missing out--especially if you're a child of the 80s like I am. They do a great job of covering and performing all the old Prince tunes, although I didn't hear Delirious or When Doves Cry in the two hours we watched them. They did, however, do a few minutes of Morris Day and the Time, and several audience members proceeded to make a mad dash to the dance floor and make complete fools out of themselves as soon as the band kicked in with Jungle Love. I probably would have, too, but somebody had to hang back and take photos.

Angy's husband bailed about five minutes into the show, so it was just the three of us after that. Like I said, we hung out drinking, dancing, and laughing till around midnight or so. The band took a break and the DJ took over, but by then we'd been in the brew pub for almost five hours, so it was time to move on. I suggested that since we were so close, we should just take the tram over to the Bellagio and see if we couldn't class up that joint. The ladies were ok with that idea, so off we went.

That was my first experience with the Monte Carlo/Bellagio tram, and I've got to say that it's probably the slowest moving train this side of Mr Rogers neighborhood. Luckily, we were the only ones in the car, so we had plenty of time for drunken buffoonery.

The three of us just before blast off on our mission to Bellagio

We finally made it to the Bellagio, and we stumbled around for awhile before we made it to the Conservatory. The holiday display is long gone, and now it's got a pretty cool Chinese New Year theme going on. I think it must be the Year of the Dog, or otherwise I have no idea why they put a 15 foot-high St Bernard in there. We wandered around a bit in there taking pictures, while Angy tried to stick her tongue in the water jets without getting shot in the face, and I made my own kind of fun with the water features, much to the amusement of our fellow patrons.

Don't cross the streams!

Andrea was laughing so hard at me pretending to pee, that she almost peed herself! We hung around in there for about 45 minutes taking various goofy pictures and trying to make each other laugh with our antics. But right after these photos were taken, they closed the Conservatory. I'd like to think we had something to do with that. But seriously, the display was really cool--in fact I liked it better than the Christmas one.

From there, we wandered the casino, with our ultimate goal being the Fontana Lounge. Unfortunately, it was full and there was a line waiting for seats, so we moved on. No couches available at the Baccarat Bar, either. So we ended up getting a table at the Petrossian Bar listening to a David Hasselhoff lookalike tickling the ivories. My requests for Free Bird or the theme from Knight Rider amused few people outside of our table.

The drinks at the Bellagio were pretty damn good, and we had some great top-shelf martinis while we listened to music and played Spot The Hooker. But that was like shooting fish in a barrel, because Bellagio is crawling with nice girls out looking to supplement their income. Actually, Mr Jaded Vegas Guy that I am, I was surprised by just how many there were. Walking to the restroom reminded me of a third-world shopping bazaar, with people grabbing me to try and get me to sample their wares.

The one that got the best laugh from the Angy and Andrea was one gal in particular who grabbed me on my way back to the table and said she was going to follow me wherever I was going. I didn't really have a problem with that, until I spied the classy 'Bitch' tattoo scribed on her neck. We thought that perhaps she was marketing herself to the wrong demographic, and figured she'd have more success if she strolled around in say, the Frontier, instead of trolling us high rollers there at the Bellagio.

But it was like that all night. We sat there for hours laughing at all the business transactions going down while we sipped on martinis. We met some of the other folks there in the bar, and a couple of them insisted on buying all of our drinks (the benefits of hanging with two attractive gals all night--free booze!). Toward the end of the evening we met some pretty cool Australian guys and invited them to join us--turns out they were playing the same game we were.

Angy was getting drunker and sillier, and her objective was to get thrown out--she'd been in town four whole days and hadn't gotten tossed from a single place, and she didn't want to break her streak. There was a huge metal horse in the middle of the hotel lobby that was covered with tiny mirrors like a disco ball, and she wanted to ride it.

Unfortunately it was too tall and there were no stirrups, so that idea never came to fruition. I'd switched to coffee by then, but the ladies were still trucking along like sorority girls at a fall mixer.

Finally around 5:30 in the morning, the show was pretty much over and we started getting hungry again. Angy wanted the Peppermill, and Andrea had never been. So we said goodbye to all of our new friends and headed back to the Monte Carlo. Along the way Angy was feeling a little dehydrated and needed to pay a visit to the water fountain...

After another trip on the tram and a hike through the Monte Carlo, we fetched the Ghetto Sled and headed north towards the Peppermill for breakfast. Luckily it was almost empty and they gave us a booth way over in the corner where we couldn't offend any other customers.

Help me! There is a flamingo trying to dig into my brain!!

We started with hot chocolate, and the girls had omelets while I went with eggs benedict. Of course the food was fantastic and by that time everyone had started to sober up and we had an excellent conversation. Angy was sad, however, because she was heading home later in the day. But we made plans to get together again in March, and since Andrea and I are both relatively new in town, we decided that we'll go and try new restaurants together every couple of weeks.

After we finished breakfast, we made a quick stop back in the fireside lounge for a final picture, but Angy refused to be photographed, thinking that she may have been a little disheveled by that point. But me and 'The Mrs.' got a few snapshots (oh yeah, we spent the whole night telling everyone we were married, again).

Notice our holiday-themed sweaters. We're using this photo for our Christmas cards next year.

By then, the sun was starting to peek over the eastern mountains and the drunks on the Strip had given way to the joggers. We made our way back to the Monte Carlo, where I dropped the girls off at the valet. We said our goodbyes and goodnights, agreeing that no matter what, we'd have to do it again soon.

I drove home and went to bed, passing out as soon as my head hit the pillow. My last conscious thought was something about the diamond being shiny again.

I love Las Vegas!


PS. Click on the pics for full-sized goodness!

The Good Reverend Turns 36

But shoots 52...

Hey Gang! It's 7 am in the morning, and I just got home from a ridiculously crazy night with Angy and Andrea. It was the kind of night that inspires beer commercials. And aspirin commercials. And probably personal injury lawyer commercials too... I was going to post stories and pics right away, but I'm about to pass out from exhaustion. I'll do it later this afternoon after I get some sleep.

In the meantime, it's my brother David's birthday today. Head on over to the First Church of Dave and leave a birthday greeting in his comment section. And then do him a favor and forward a link to someone you think might enjoy his style of writing. He could use the traffic to keep him motivated.

Have a wonderful Thursday. I'm going to bed.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Picture Time!

Hey everybody--it's time to share a few pictures from my adventures this past week. First of all, a week ago, I had a great time riding a limo around Vegas with Kelly, Dane, and Melissa. We started with a little pre-game happy hour in their room at the Aladdin, then after the limo ride we had dinner at one of my favorite spots, Binion's Ranch Steakhouse. Also that night we stumbled onto the set of CSI and got to watch them filming a little bit down on Fremont Street, mostly focusing on the fire escape outside of the Golden Gate and the alley between there and La Bayou. I didn't get to see my girl Marg, but we saw the guy with the beard climbing down the fire escape.

We did a little bit of gambling, also, but unfortunately the dice tables were horribly cold. I'm afraid that every game I tried to introduce Melissa to just cleaned us out--She's probably a confirmed slot player now. It's tough to enjoy playing craps and pai gow if you just keep losing every hand.

After we gave up on downtown, we headed back to the Aladdin for a little more gambling. I don't think they made much headway on the slots, but I managed to win almost all of my money back playing pai gow and blackjack. Before I left, Kelly loaded me up with some late Christmas presents--cookies, a rum cake, and a couple of new Jimmy Buffet cd's that I hadn't heard yet. It was a great visit!

They left for home on Friday, and after a couple of days of work my crazy-assed friend Angy showed up. We got together yesterday and just had a fantastic time together. First of all, she had some free comps to the Wynn buffet, so we had lunch there yesterday. Normally I'm not a big fan of buffets, having only eaten lunch at one buffet in all of the years since I've been coming to Vegas.

Well, this one was different--it was awesome. We gorged ourselves on shrimp cocktail, (and not those little Golden Gate ones, either--these babies were just shy of being called prawns!), creamed button mushrooms that we couldn't get enough of, spinach ravioli, grilled pork loin, some fantastic teriyaki skirt steak, and even thin crust pizza--that's just what I can remember. We loaded up twice before hitting the dessert bar, and everything was good. Nothing we had was sub-par or tasted bland. And another plus in my book was that they serve Coke, not Pepsi.

The desserts were excellent, also. We had a couple of chocolate eclairs, bananas foster ice cream, carrot cake, and some sort of fancy schmancy thing called a floating island. I'm not sure exactly what it was, but it sure tasted good. We ate so much that we just had to sit there and relax and try to digest a bit before we waddled out of there. Another thing I really liked about the Wynn buffet was that it the quiet and subdued atmosphere--not loud and echoey like in most casino buffets. Like I said before, I'm not a big buffet fan, but this one will get another visit--even if I have to pay for it next time.

On the way back to the car, we had to walk past the poker room--it was jam-packed as usual, and I saw a few familiar and famous faces. In fact, I literally bumped into Tomer Benvisitsi, the 5th place finisher in the 2003 WSOP. He's not a small fellow either, so our collision may have been recorded as a minor seismic event.

We scooted out of the Wynn and headed down to the Peppermill for the afternoon. Yeah, we noted the irony of walking out of a buffet and going to the restaurant that serves the largest portions in Vegas, but eating was not on the agenda. We parked ourselves at the end of the bar in the Fireside Lounge and played a little bit of video poker. Krista kept the chocolate/banana martinis coming, gratis of course, while we smoked and fed the machines.

Angy was having no luck at all, but I kept winning with video blackjack. So every time I'd put $20 in, I'd build it up to $27, cash out, give Krista the two bucks, then add the remaining $25 back into our gambling kitty pile there on the counter. I'd wait a few minutes and repeat. We didn't win a whole lot, but Krista made a fortune off of us--we sat there for almost three hours repeating the cycle.

Around 5pm or so, we decided to head back to my house so I could change out of my flannel lumberjack shirt into something more suitable for going out at night, and also Angy wanted to check her email and such. She said that, but I think she just wanted to check out the new sheets and such--I have a photo or two of her modeling my new bedroom ensemble.

We still had a couple of hours to kill--our plan was to meet up later that evening with longtime reader Andrea, who as luck would have it, actually lives here in Las Vegas. Angy had met her already, and told me that I would just totally love her. So we just kicked it there on the new bed for a couple of hours, watching tv. Looking for something to watch, we found a compromise and settled on Out of Time, Angy being a huge fan of Denzel Washington, and you folks already know my thoughts on Eva Mendes.

Eventually Andrea called me, and we decided to meet up at the bar downtown at the LV Club. She had a lowbrow moment when she pulled in, as the valet thought she was parking her car to begin her shift next door at Glitter Gulch. The patrons of the Gulch would have no such luck, because while Andrea is quite the hottie, she already has a job requiring her to keep her clothes on.

No two-drink minimum required to hang with these ladies

The three of us had a drink at the bar before deciding to get some dinner. We started off with the intention of eating at the Carson Street Cafe, but just after we got outside, we decided to go to the Triple 7 Brewpub over at Main Street Station, instead.

Dinner was excellent--Angie had a salad and some cheesy garlic bread (more like a cheese pizza), Andrea had a cheeseburger and fries, and I had a pretty damn good Asian Chicken Salad. We had a lot of laughs over dinner, then headed over to the Plaza.

We couldn't find any good tables at the Plaza--downtown was packed last night, so we ended up walking in and out of every casino on Fremont Street, all the way down to Fitzgeralds and back. We finally found an empty pai-gow table at the Fremont and camped out there for a few hours. Again, we had a lot of laughs--telling people that Andrea and I had just gotten married by an Elvis impersonator at the Graceland Chapel and that we were heading up to Wendover in the morning for our honeymoon--but we weren't winning much money. Andrea never saw a hand higher than Ace high. Angy, however, hit a straight flush once but didn't play the bonus, so her payoff was a little light for that hand.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

After several hours, the money was running out and the yawns were getting contagious, so we decided to call it a night. We wandered back to the Vegas Club to fetch our cars and said our goodbyes. While waiting for the ghetto sled, Andrea let me drool over her brand new 2005 Mustang GT. Yep, Angy was right--Hottie girl, badass car, she's a keeper! I just have to break her of that weird habit of licking Toby Keith posters...

I dropped Angy off back at her hotel, the Imperial Palace, then headed home for some much-needed sleep. Luckily I spent most of my day off in bed, because I just got confirmation that we're gonna do it all over again tonight. Maybe I'll have some more pictures, but I should definitely have some more stories.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Foot in Mouth

Sitting in the Fireside Lounge, having a drink with Angy, and watching a Blondie Reunion video on the widescreen, the following conversation takes place:

Me: Hey Angy--at least you look younger than Debbie Harry.

Angy: I am younger than Debbie Harry, jackass.



More Big News

In case you haven't heard, I am an idiot.

For the third frickin time in two weeks, I have gone to the store and bought the wrong kind of razors. Three times now. For the closest shave, besides the straight-razor job I had last week, I always use Gillette Mach 3 Turbo razors. Of course they are the most expensive razors on the market--the personal grooming equivalent of printer ink--but they do the best job. I'm down to my last four razors (I would have 12 more, but that drunk stripper bitch I used to live with stole a box of them out of my bathroom. I got even with her though--she left her toothbrush unguarded the night I left for the last time...), so I keep trying to remember to pick up some more every time I got to the drugstore or grocery store. But like a dumbass, I keep picking up Sensor Excel's, which I used to use back in the day before Mach 3's were invented. Unfortunately, I don't have a Sensor razor anymore, at least that I know of. Maybe if I dig through some of my storage boxes, I'll find one. I hope so, because I've now got 24 razors I can't use otherwise.

The lesson, as always--I am an idiot.

Hey, the new work unis last night were a big hit. Not nearly as flamboyant as I thought. They actually have an open collar, much to the rejoicing of the peasants who must wear them every day. Our last shirts buttoned at the very top with a big blue jewel more suitable for mounting in my belly button and scaring the shit out of people at the Mirage pool than for comfortable dealing.

These new shirts come in three colors, burgundy, blue, and a goldish/brown, and they are designed like long-sleeve bowling shirts. Not too bad. I like them much better than the last ones we had to wear. Some of the girls complain that the sleeves are a bit too long, but I've always had problems getting shirts long enough for my monkey arms, so I think they're just fine.

Also, all of my new bedding finally arrived yesterday. I got the comforter set a couple days ago, but I didn't get all of the pillows delivered until last night. So this morning I washed all of the bedding and I'm in the process of getting my new bed made to look like a new bed. It's pretty spiffy, and now my only challenge is to find a suitable companion to help me break it in.

And on that note, my cellphone is ringing...It's Angy. Looks like we're having lunch at the Wynn buffet. I gotta go.


Monday, January 16, 2006

Two New Games

I enjoy the games that I deal in the casino, although every game can be tedious at some point. Dealing dice is fun if you're not getting stroked by a bunch of stiffs (set it up, press it, take it down, repeat...), and pai gow and blackjack are fun if you're dealing to people who aren't playing like their mortgage depends on the outcome of every hand. I also deal a couple of 'carnival' games, Let It Ride and Crazy 4 Poker. And one of these days very soon I'll need to pick up Deuces Wild and 3-Card Poker, both of which I've managed to escape having to deal thus far.

The only games I have no desire to learn are Baccarat and Roulette. Roulette dealers love to be on that game, and are highly disappointed when they go for a few days away from the wheel. I just don't see the appeal, except that the table is always full of hot women players. But I don't know anyone that likes dealing mini-bacc, or even big-bacc (sidebar: I'm starting a grassroots movement to change it's unofficial name to maxi-bacc, but nobody has hopped on that bandwagon just yet). I took a couple of hours of training for mini-bacc and hated it, and luckily nobody has insisted that I follow up--I think they're just happy that I can deal dice along with pai gow and 21.

Anyways, there are a couple of new games finding their way onto the casino floor--one a totally new game and another is just a variation of an old one.

I'll start with the variation of the old one. It's called Emperor's Challenge Pai Gow, and my casino is the first one in Vegas to get it--it's been here about three weeks now, but I don't know if anyone else offers it yet.

Basically, it's just a regular pai gow game, with two different rules. First of all, there is no 'Envy' bonus on the Fortune bet. If somebody else at the table gets a four-of-a-kind or better, you're out of luck as far as getting paid a little extra for having a $5 Fortune bet. Instead, they call it Pai Gow Insurance--meaning that if your Fortune bet is $5 or more and you get a jack-high pai gow or less, you get a bonus. Jack-high pays 2-1, Ten-high pays either 5-1 or 3-1 (I've forgotten, and can't find my handout), but a Nine-high pai gow (the worst possible hand) pays 40-1. Unfortunately, the hard-core players hate this rule, because most of them prefer to play on a full table hoping to cash in on big hands. I don't particularly care for this variation because it just seems like an afterthought, like whoever came up with the game needed something else to set it apart from regular pai gow. Unfortunately, they've taken away a favorite bet from a lot of players in doing so.

The Envy Bonus is gone, however, the Fortune Bonus is still there in it's regular form, paying 2-1 for straights, 3-1 for three of a kind, etc.

Now the big new rule in this game is the Emperors Challenge. Basically, it's a way to play for a complete win or loss, instead of a tie which are so common in the game of pai gow. In order to play it, every player gets a puck--one side says "Pushes Allowed" and the other side says "Emperors Challenge". They are free to flip it to whichever side they choose before the cards are dealt. If they choose to go with the pushes allowed side, it's just a regular game for them. However if they choose to play the challenge, they'll either win or lose the hand, with no chance for a tie.

What happens is that there is a black and white Yin & Yang symbol on the table next to the dealer. Once all of the cards are dealt out (7 hands at 7 cards per--49 cards in play) there is a 4-card 'stub' leftover (52 cards plus the joker makes 53. 53 minus the 49 in play leaves four). With those four cards, two go on the black side of the symbol, two go on the white side of the symbol, all of them face down of course. The hand is played out regularly, while the players who have tie hands and have chosen the challenge have their cards left face up on the layout until the end of the hand and all other losses have been collected or wins paid out.

Once that is completed, out of all the players whose cards are still faceup on the layout, whichever one has the highest two-card hand gets a glass dice shaker. Inside, there is a specialty die--three sides white, three sides black. The shaker has a cover on it, so the player shakes it, then slams it down on the table. The dealer removes the cover to see what color comes up. If it die turns up black, the players get the two cards from the black side of the symbol, the dealer gets the white, and vice-versa. The four cards are turned over, and whichever ones make the highest two-card poker hand, that color wins. Simple as that. If the dice land on white, and the 2 cards on the white part of the symbol win, all of the players that originally tied have their hands paid off as if they won. If the dealer's cards are higher, all the tie bets lose. There is no house advantage to this except for the fact that matched cards go to the house, just like the original game, and the fact that there are more win/loss decisions, which of course over time favors the house and it's 5% edge on winning wagers.

A couple of my regular pai gow players who are in every week say they hate the game, but the table is always full. I think it has more to do with not having an envy bonus, but one lady said that she lost six challenges in a row and won't play it anymore. (Again, you can still play it 'regular way') But whenever people come to my table that I've seen playing it earlier, I ask them what their thoughts are. It's about 50/50, and I'm sure that the casino loves it because it's got to be a bigger moneymaker than regular pai gow.

I don't know if or when other casinos will get this game, or even if this is just a test run--I'm not privvy to that info, and if I were, I likely wouldn't be able to tell you anyways. But if you see it out there, don't be intimidated--it's still an easy game.

The next game made it's debut last Friday night all over the city. Bellagio has two tables, Wynn has one, Sam's Town has one, and we have one. There may be more of them out there, but that's all I know of. Anyhow, the official name is World Poker Tour All In Hold Em.

It's a derivative of Texas Holdem, with some serious modifications. It's just you against the dealer, so it doesn't matter what other people do or have in their hands--they can't beat you, only the dealer can.

The game starts with a blind ante of $3 to $25. Everyone then gets two cards. Based on the strength of those two cards, you can either 1) Fold, and lose your ante 2) Bet 5x your ante or 3) Bet 10x your ante. There are also two side bets available--the first one paying on the strength of your first two cards (suited pays even money, and it goes up to red aces paying something like 50-1), and the second side bet paying out on the strength of your 'made' hand, payouts start with straights, I believe.

Anyhow, for the dealer to 'qualify', his first two cards have to add up to at least 13 (Aces are always 11). If he's got between 13-17, he folds to the 10x bets, paying their ante's only, the 10x wagers are a push. If he's got 18 or more, he 'calls all raises'. A card is burned, then comes a three-card flop. No other betting action happens, but the dealer calls out potential hands like in 7-card stud. Another card is burned for the 'turn', then another burn and turn for the 'river'.

If you beat the dealers hand, you win even money on your ante and your 5x or 10x bet. If you've made a big hand, you'll also get paid on your final hand bonus. It's a simple game, and very simple if you've played poker before. Of course, the turn and the river can screw you just as badly as in real poker, and at either 5x or 10x your ante, it can get expensive in a hurry. At a $3 minimum you're risking either $18 or $33 per hand, plus the side bets.

I haven't had a chance to deal this game live yet, but from what I can see, it's very popular so far. However, I heard that on our first night we were just giving money away at that table. If that's the case, it won't be around long. I'm kind of curious to see a live game, so I'm hoping to get some time on the table.

In the meantime, I'll be found behind a blackjack, dice, or pai gow table cracking jokes and hustling tokes.

And on a positive note, our new uniforms came in and we start wearing them tonight. So instead of dressing like a gay genie, I'll be dressing like a gay bowler. I'm just glad they didn't go with the Brokeback Mountain western theme.

How 'bout them cowboys!


Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K

...Actually, strange things are afoot here at 'Rueben's House'.

After the unnecessary buffoonery of Saturday night/Sunday morning (there's a thin line between em...) I spent all of yesterday in bed either sleeping or watching tv. Seriously, the only time I left my room in the past 30 hours was to go to the bathroom and an expedition I made to the kitchen to fix a turkey sandwich. I really needed the rest. So I'm still wearing my dirty 'I support single moms' t-shirt and a pair of boxers, having not showered or shaved since late Saturday afternoon. Basically, I'm spending my time off living like a cross between a typical bachelor and the Unabomber.

So I shuffled off to the kitchen again this morning to make a pot of coffee and a plate of frozen waffles, and I see my roommate dusting the living room and setting out coffee cups on the bar.

My roommate is a nice guy, a little older, and I've come to discover that he's an old hippie. Not the pot-smoking and protesting type, but some brush with mortality in the past has turned him into one of those vitamin and nutrition zealots usually found lurking around the campus at Chiropractic colleges or at New Age enclaves. That doesn't stop him from smoking a pack a day, however.

Anyhow, he tells me that he's hosting a presentation on nutrition and supplements today, and I'm welcome to join them. No thanks I tell him, using my work schedule tonight as my excuse that I'll need to sleep during the day.

About an hour later, I need to take my dirty breakfast dishes back to the kitchen and also get a refill on the coffee. Mistakenly thinking that I've still got the house to myself like I typically have during the day, I wander back out, still looking like a frat boy who's mission in life is to suck all the foam out of the leftover kegs the day after a rush party. But my kitchen is full of old women with beehive hair hairdoos and too much time on their hands. They stare at me like I'm don't belong while I calmly wash and dry my dishes and refill my coffee cup--with the good stuff from my coffee maker, not that cheap shiat my roommate drinks.

Breaking the uncomfortable silence, one of them invites me to join them in their Amway rally/Tupperware party, telling me that they've got presentations going on all afternoon. Great. Think I'll pass though. So I head back off to my bedroom anticipating spending the next couple of hours watching the season premiere of 24 I tivo'd last night.

I don't mind the fact that they're using my house instead of a hospitality suite in a local motel for their 'business' meeting, but I do kinda feel like I'm exiled to my bedroom for the entire day. Oh well, what can you do? In return, I expect my roommate to be as discreet next time I show up with a party bus full of strippers and midgets in the middle of the night.

Anyhow, after drinking an entire pot of coffee, I felt the need to use the facilities. So I picked up a sailing magazing, looking forward to the peacefulness of doing some reading in the most well-lit room in the house. I'd been in there a few minutes when there was a knock at the door.

I'm in here, I said.

That didn't deter the trespasser. She just opened the door and walked right in. Nice. I just looked up from my magazine and gave her a Do you mind? look and she beat a hasty retreat and mumbled an apology.

In retaliation, I didn't use any air freshener when I was done. I also took my towels with me (can't have strangers wiping their nasty hands on my stuff) and purposely put the seat back UP, marking my territory and reaffirming my Alpha-Male status.

Next time somebody walks in on me with my drawers around my ankles, she better be about 30 years younger and half as wrinkled, so I'll have to tell my roommate to try and recruit some younger members into his vitamin cult.

It's gonna be a long day.


Sunday, January 15, 2006

More Good News!

As soon as I was notified that I'd been promoted to full time, I was originally told that I'd have Sundays and Mondays off, which was kind of a bummer because those are some of our best money days. It works out to be about a $400 per month difference having those days off instead of Tue-Wed. But my boss said he'd see what he could do, and maybe next month I could get a different schedule, but no promises.

I checked the schedule book before I left work this morning, just in case. Starting immediately, my days off are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Oh hell yeah!

I don't know how I could be happier with my job, short of them letting me use the cocktail waitress staff as my own personal harem.


One Of Those Nights

Or, I'm gettin' too old for this shit...

I'm moving in ultra-slow motion today. Luckily the tv remote is on the nightstand and the commute from bed to the the computer is less than four feet. Too wrecked to walk to the kitchen, I'm drinking distilled water from the bottle under my desk that I keep on hand for my humidor.

I had one of those nights with my friends where the details are a little fuzzy until all of the usual suspects are rounded up, but once all the stories are told, the truth is found somewhere in the middle.

Once word got out that the six of us Original Gangsters from the Extra-Board had been promoted to full time, the Saturday night celebration was planned--all the swing shift dealers were planning on getting together this weekend for a night of buffoonery. Unfortunately, I was scheduled to work until 5 am, but everyone else was getting out of work between 2 am and 4 am. Luckily my cough was flaring back up again, so the manager in charge felt pity on me and let me go home an hour early (normally 5 o'clockers are not allowed to take early outs).

I made a quick stop for more cough drops and got to Chilly Palmer's just as the party was getting underway. Everybody was there--even a bunch of dealers who never go out with us on the weekends. Somebody kept buying shots for the group, my glass was never empty, and my money was no good in there. I'd even brought along one of my Partagas Black Labels as a victory cigar to light up and enjoy the moment.

I was having a great time just hanging there at the bar with all of my friends, until somebody decided that we needed to go to a strip club. I adamantly refused to go--I just don't have the money for that kind of activity, but the tidal wave of momentum swept me up when somebody offered to pay everyone's two-drink minimum. A few minutes later I piled into a car with a couple of gals and we were caravanning over to the west side of the Strip. We actually ended up at a place I'd never heard of before, called Seamless, directly across the street from the Orleans.

When we got there, I was immediately pissed because it wasn't really a strip club, it was an "Adult After-Hours Ultra Lounge". Yep, one of those pretentious overpriced clubs dotting the Vegas landscape that I absolutely hate. And of course I'm wearing my black Reeboks, stylish polyester dealer's pants, my 'I Support Single Moms' t-shirt, and an unbuttoned flannel shirt. Not exactly proper attire for hanging out at the velvet rope. And I absolutely did not wish to pay cover for a place that's gonna pop me for $12 a drink once I got inside, either. Since I didn't drive, there was no escape, so I silently fumed while standing in line. Oh yeah, we were outside in the 35-degree pre-dawn darkness standing in line, also. God I was pissed off.

It started looking up when the bouncer guy with the earpiece and black suit who was manning the door recognized me--we used to play poker together last summer during downtime at dealer's school. So he let us all in ahead of everyone else and we didn't have to pay cover. Didn't even have to tip the guy. Score!

Once inside, I said a quick hello to 2000 WSOP Champion Chris 'Jesus' Ferguson (he shakes hands like a girly-man, though. Kinda creepy) and found the rest of the girls from our group.

The club was your typical ultra-lounge; Chicks dancing on various stages in various stages of undress, lots of SoCal wannabe hipsters lurking around, $10 Bud Lites, but lots and lots of eye candy wandering about in effmee heels and bebe shirts.

I spent a few minutes 'getting my pimp on' out on the dance floor with four or five of the chicks I work with, but still fighting a bit of a fever I was sweating and needed a beer. Before I could get to the bar, an outrageously hot Asian chick grabbed my hands and drug me off into the corner. The music was loud and her English wasn't very good, so I couldn't understand a word she was saying, but it didn't matter because she was climbing my frame and making me feel better about my decision to be there.

We messed around for a few minutes and then I told her I needed a drink, so off to the bar we went. The interminably long wait for service was made much more enjoyable by her grinding on me while we stood at the bar. A Jaeger-bomb (for her) and a Corona cost me twenty-something bucks, and she then led me back to the VIP area. Nice. We sat down on a couch in back and had started enjoying our drinks when it finally hit me that this girl was actually 'working'. She asked me if I wanted some private dances for the bargain price of just $300. I about spit my drink out and said hell no, there was no way I was paying for any type of dances. Her counter offer shocked me though--

How about twenty bucks then?

I started laughing and apologized to her telling her that I'd misunderstood what type of place I was in and I wasn't interested. She was cool with that and even though I tried to leave she insisted that we hang out for a bit. No worries--she was hot as hell and I got a lot of free gropage out of the deal before I headed back to find all of my friends.

It turns out that Seamless is a strip club during the day, and an after-hours club at night (like Drai's at the Barbary Coast). But in addition to all the random regular hotties in the crowd, I guess they have undercover strippers working the club. Interesting concept, one that I would've never thought of, but hey--it's Vegas!

Shortly after that, the caravan headed back to Chilly's where we spent the next hour drinking bottled water and telling stories from all of our different perspectives, and mine wasn't even the most interesting. It was a fun night, but once was enough.

Exhausted, I crawled out of the bar into the blazing sunlight of a Sunday morning, pissed off that I'd left my sunglasses back home on my desk.

I should've known that I'd need them today.

Turns out that all the squinting on the way home wasn't a bad thing after all--it was that much less effort to close them all the way once I got home and hit the bed.


Saturday, January 14, 2006

Man Hands

Sometimes, when I'm just kickin' around on my day off, I think back to some of the great times I've had over the past years, and every now and then a memory gets triggered that makes me giggle for a few minutes.

That happened today.

I met one of my all-time best buddies, Eddie B, on my first day of work at Schwab back in 1997, but I didn't meet my other buddy (and former roommate) Derek until sometime in late 1999. He started with a large group of recent college grads, and after they all had passed their Series 7 licensing, they had to spend a month in what was called 'Trades Training'. Part of that month was a four-day option trading class that was taught by yours truly. Back in the heady market days of 1999, we had a new crop of new brokers coming through every month. (Incidentally, that's when I met the last member of our foursome, Ed W--he was in charge of 'babysitting' the classes all the way through trades training while we 'subject' instructors rotated in and out every week).

Anyhow, I loved teaching the option classes. Not only was it a break from dealing with clients, but I love to teach and the subject matter was the most interesting of all the topics that the new brokers had to master. Also, it gave me a chance to scout the new 'talent' joining the company every month. And since I was always everyone's favorite teacher, it was a piece of cake to arrange a happy-hour get-together on Friday nights after my classes ended. Derek and Eddie were always amazed to show up at the bar on Friday night and see me surrounded by 8-10 new hotties every week holding court. Of course they didn't mind when introductions were made, either.

But Derek's class was especially well-stocked. There was one girl in particular that Eddie and I were both enamored with named Lisa. She was an olive-skinned beauty, six feet tall-most of it legs-and built like a statue of a Roman Goddess. She also had a great personality and wore that Victoria's Secret perfume that turned me into a stuttering fool whenever I caught a whiff. Sometimes, once her class ended and it was a slow day, she'd come down to my desk and plug in with me for some one-on-one teaching time. My boss would poke his head over the cube, shake it, and give me the look like "Man, I don't know how you do it..." but he didn't mind because she classed up our team area with her presence.

That summer Derek threw a 4th of July pool party (which was epic for the simple fact that he managed to recruit a bunch of Southwest flight attendants to join us, in addition to all the gals from work) and she showed up too, looking especially hot in her blue bikini. We sat in the pool talking, drinking beer, and just having a great time. It was one of the best parties ever. Not only was I smitten, Eddie was too. We both raved about her hotness on several occasions all summer long.

Unfortunately, we had no shot. Turns out, she was really just interested in hooking up with Derek. But Derek suffers from some affliction where he won't hook up with a girl unless she's tall, skinny, blonde, and has big tits. Lisa was brunette, and although perfectly proportioned, not skinny enough for our boy Derek. Since she didn't meet his criteria, forget it--he wasn't interested.

Once we realized that we had no shot and that she was hot for Derek, Eddie and I did all we could to convince him to get with her, just so we could live vicariously through the experience. Nope--he wouldn't budge. Every weekend the subject came up, and every time he dismissed the idea.

Finally, we asked him what the problem was.

She has man-hands, said Derek. I just can't get with a girl who has man-hands.

I could certainly overlook that, but Eddie's response was classic:

That's ok--my peepa's used to man hands!

We still laugh about that. Even today.