Sunday, April 30, 2006

39 and Holding

Hey Gang... First of all, I want to thank everyone for the warm birthday wishes. For being out here 'alone', it's actually been a better birthday than I imagined.

After work last night I met up with Stephanie for drinks. But she'd been conspiring before I got there and had a few surprises for me. So I got to the bar, and a few friends of mine were there, and of course my money was no good. Even better, Timmy the bartender had procured a six pack of Michelob Light, which no bar in Vegas offers anymore (everyone now serves that watery Ultra shiat), and had put it on ice for me.

So while we were drinking and laughing and telling stories and such, Steph disappeared into the kitchen while I lit up one of my Partagas Black Labels. Suddenly all the lights in the place went off and I saw her coming out with a huge cake with a veritable forest fire atop it. Yep, she had to buy pretty much every candle at Walgreens to make it accurate, but she did a fine job. Everyone was singing and I was just a bit embarrassed--it caught me totally off guard. They told me to make a wish, and after I blew out the candles, I told her and Jen that after the cake was gone they'd have to come over to my house and, you know, fulfill that whole birthday wish thing...

Stephanie, Mikey, and Jennifer, version 2006. There is a 1985 version out there floating around in the fog of memory, but most of the details have been lost to history...

Upon closer inspection, it turns out that I wasn't a traditional birthday cake, but one of those huge cheescakes that had like three or four pieces of four different varieties. But Steph had decorated and personalized the top of it with melted white chocolate, making it look like a regular birthday cake. When I asked her, 'Why a cheesecake?' She said that she was planning on making me a cake earlier that day, but she really needed chocolate this weekend, if I get her drift, and a double fudge white chocolate mocha cheesecake would help to keep her in a better mood.

Yeah, so the birthday wish is gonna have to wait a few days...

I also had a few birthday cards to open, which was nice. One of them has a big shiny sticker in it that says "It's my birthday, wanna spank me?", so I'm gonna take that to work tonight and wear it as long as I can before getting in trouble with the shift boss.

The card from Steph had a 'Lucky' $5 bill in it--our usual weekend ritual is to put a $5 bill into the bartop machine and play quarter video blackjack. Every time we play together, we've always won. If she plays alone, she loses. Same with me. But when we play at the same time, we've always done well. We jokingly consider it our 'special time' together, and have now convinced each other that we cannot play video blackjack without the other one being present. Well, true to form, we turned the $5 into $14, gave two bucks to the bartender, and I pocketed the $12. So today for lunch I bought a carne asada burrito and a huge fountain Coke at Roberto's Taco Shop. Thank you Lucky Five Dollars!

After the cheesecake was divied up among everyone at the bar, we headed down to shoot some pool. And of course she beat me two-out-of-three, again. I swear I suck at billiards, but I take comfort in the fact that if somebody is a good pool player, it's a sign of a misspent youth. Take that, Steph!

Before we knew it, it was seven in the morning and the sun was already up. A quick check of my phone showed several missed calls already, the family being two hours ahead back in Tennessee. Of course the birthday tradition in our family is to race to see who can call the earliest in the morning and leave the cheesiest message.

Like Matt Dillon said in Something About Mary, I love those goofy bastards!

Anyhow, we said goodbye to everyone and headed for the door. Steph mentioned something about going bowling tonight after I get out of work, so we may do that. Also, some of the folks who didn't make it last night want to go out again tonight, so it might be another long one, and I can already see myself not making it to school tomorrow.

Once I wake up tomorrow, I'll recount some of my other memorable birthday experiences from years past--there have been a couple of pretty interesting ones.

In the meantime, be careful out there and avoid eating in restaurants on Monday--all the illegals are taking to the streets, so there may not be enough clean dishes to go around.


On This Day In History

1492 - Spain gives Christopher Columbus his commission of exploration.

1789 - On the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York City, George Washington takes the oath of office to become the first elected President of the United States.

1803 - The United States purchases the Louisiana Territory from France, for $15 million, more than doubling – overnight – the size of the nation.

1900 - Casey Jones dies in a train wreck in Vaughn, Mississippi while trying to make up time on the Cannonball Express.

1927 - The Federal Industrial Institute for Women, opens in Alderson West Virginia as the first women's federal prison in the United States, inadvertantly inspiring dozens of soft-core B-movies for years to come.

1938 - The animated cartoon short Porky's Hare Hunt debuts in movie theaters, introducing Bugs Bunny.

1943 - Operation Mincemeat: The submarine HMS Seraph surfaces in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Spain to deposit a dead man dressed as a British Military intelligence officer and planted with false invasion plans.

1945 - Adolph Hitler and Eva Braun commit suicide after being married for one day.

1947 - In Nevada, the Boulder Dam is officially renamed Hoover Dam again.

1973 - Watergate Scandal: President Richard Nixon announces that top White House aids H. R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, and others have resigned.

1975 - The image of the overloaded Helicopter on the roof of the embassy, the fall of Saigon: Communist forces gains control of Saigon. The Vietnam War formally ends with the unconditional surrender of South Vietnamese president Duong Van Minh.

1993 - The World Wide Web was born at CERN .

2001 - Mikey unexpectedly gets laid off from his job as a stock and options trader at Charles Schwab, along with almost 1000 other brokers around the country. His buddy Ed gets demoted the same day. The following day, the first payment is due on his brand new truck.

Famous Birthdays on April 30th:

Queen Mary II of England
Robert Shaw
Willie Nelson
Burt Young
Jill Clayburgh
Phil Garner
Isiah Thomas
Elliot Sadler
Kirsten Dunst
Hurricane Mikey

Friday, April 28, 2006

Three Rivers

I've been in kind of a pissy mood today, and it all started at the bank, of course. Well, I guess I was off to a bad start when I saw my paycheck--the result of tax season in Vegas, so I'm going to be living pretty lean for the next couple of weeks.

But I finally made it to school, and although I didn't feel ready to do my final evaluation, my instructor pressed me to go ahead and do it. Of course this was after I had to get up in this oldster's grill because he was yelling at another student that the pot wasn't right on his fake game. Basically, we've got this grouchy old man who comes to class every morning when he's not anchoring a chair over at the Orleans, and he thinks that he's an instructor. He's not, he's just an old man who won't shut up. Pretty much everyone is tired of him, but when he started going off on one of the 'new kids' I'd had enough of his bullshit so I intimidated the fark out of him and ripped him a new one. He left and I doubt he'll be back anytime soon. If so I'm sure he'll give me a wide berth. After all was said and done, however, I got a few Dude, that was awesome, you are my hero type of comments.

The evaluation went well early on while dealing stud and holdem, but the wheels came off during Omaha. I lost track of the pot when two people went all in, and it went downhill from there. Unfortunately, we weren't getting any low hands, so I had to keep dealing. Finally, after the fourth try, the board was full of low cards, there were three side pots plus the main pot, and nine fucking players still in the hand at the showdown. Yep, further proof that the school is full of morons...

Turns out that I dealt that hand perfectly, although it was a nightmare--a flush as the high, and a 3-way tie for the low hand--forcing me to chop up every single pot four ways. I wasn't impressed with the way I did it, but the instructor said that if I could deal everything the way that last hand went, I could deal anything. Nice praise, but multiple side-pot Hi-Lo Omaha is still a cast-iron bitch to deal.

The bottom line is that I'm going to re-do my evaluation next week.

After school, I went back down to The Plaza to get into another tournament--I figure one or two a week would be excellent practice. I only had to wait a few minutes before ten players had signed up and we were off. I was doing well, winning the first hand I went in on, but then went card dead for about 20 hands. After three people were eliminated and the blinds started going up, I had to make some moves because I was falling behind in chips. But I knocked out one player who went all in with a pair of sixes in front of my pocket tens--I got the set on the flop, and turned the full house. We had the exact same number of chips, so with the blinds and the other earlier callers, I more than doubled up and was second chip leader.

A few minutes later I had complete rags and ran the best bluff I ever pulled on a guy with a short stack, making him believe that I made my straight, causing him to fold. I didn't show it, but damn, I sure wanted to.

After that I had a monster stack and the only guy with more chips was immediately to my right and kept stealing my big blind. I had nothing to fight back with, so I kind of had to lay there and take it like Andy Dufresne in the projection room.

Then, disaster struck. We were down to three players when the short stack went all in when I was holding strong cards. Two hands in a row that bastard rivered me, quadrupling him up and crippling me. On my last hand, the blinds were at $400 and $800, and I went all in with a pair of fours. The guy on my right with the big stack was getting good odds, so he called me with his Ace-Three offsuit. Mr Quad guy folded. The flop was a beautiful King-Four-Queen rainbow, giving me the set. The turn brought a Jack, and of course the farking river brought the ten making his Broadway straight and putting me out in third place... One place out of the money, or in poker terminology, the guy on the bubble.

I was livid. Three river cards in a row. I felt like TJ Cloutier at the Big One. I got all of my money in with the best cards each time, and all three times the fickle hand of fate raised it's middle finger in my direction. Old pros with a bankroll would say "Well, that's poker", but the already pissed-off bubble boy inside of me wanted to go on an ass-kicking rage.

Serenity now, I suppose. Unfortunately, I have to work tonight, so a stiff drink is out of the question. But writing about it has been therapeutic.

The one thing I learned, and it was a good lesson for $35, is that I can play this game. I don't consider myself dead money anymore when I sit down at a live tournament table. That knowledge may come in handy once the World Series rolls around.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Hooray For Newbies!

I had a pretty good day at school today, working on the harder stuff before the final evaluation tomorrow afternoon. I'm still not as good as I'd like to be, so I'm going in early in the morning to practice even more for a few hours. No sleep for Mikey tonight.

Also, I've been helping out a new student for the last couple of weeks, an Asian girl named, well, I can't pronounce it, so we just call her 'Sara'. Anyhow, she's come along pretty well, and we're all amazed that when she got here to Vegas four months ago she didn't speak a lick of English. Now she speaks it better than one of the Cuban guys I work with who's been here six years. But not only that, but she'd never even heard of poker before she got here, much less had any idea how to deal it, so you've got to respect the effort she's making.

But she's doing fairly well, and has progressed enough that we talked her into dealing a party over at the Rio tonight. She was afraid to at first (she's self-conscious about her English), but with enough prodding she agreed to do it. I would've gone too, but I have to work. The funny thing was, she didn't even know she got paid for it, she thought it was just for school. Once she found out that she'd get $20 an hour instead of the $6 per hour she makes every night in the restaurant she works at, she was all over it.

She didn't have any dealer clothes, so today at lunchtime I took her shopping for a new white shirt and black shoes. There are a couple of outlet-type stores on Maryland Pkwy just a couple miles from the school that tout themselves as casino dealer suppliers, so we headed up there and got her a nice white shirt for $25 and then walked over to the shoe outlet and picked up some plain black flats for fifteen more. Now she's all set.

I hope she does well and doesn't get discouraged. But I talked to a couple of the other guys that are going to be there and they said they'd keep an eye on her and help her out on their downtime.

After that, she took off to go to work and I spent a little more time 'in the box'. I can say with confidence that I'm more than ready to deal Texas Holdem in a live setting. My game is solid and I have no problem calculating and taking the rake smoothly enough that it's barely noticed. So I've got 90% of the skills I'll need down cold, but stuff like sidepots on Omaha Hi-Low are still a royal PITA, along with the obsolete requirement to deal 7-Card Stud. There are only a few rooms in Vegas that even offer it anymore, and if they do, they're lucky to have one table open for more than a couple of hours on a weekend.

I remember going to Casino Arizona back in Scottsdale a few years ago--before poker really started booming. They always had lots of Stud being dealt on the weekends, and I had a few buddies who wouldn't play anything else. But now, it's all Holdem, all the time, everywhere. I don't mind dealing stud, not one bit, but dealing it in a classroom where nobody folds because they're playing with fake chips really sucks ass. Who wants to read six hands at the showdown? Not this guy. So I grin and bear it and nod along like it's important, but I know that once I get a job, it'll be a rare treat to deal it, if at all.

Also, I got more details on that gig next weekend they wanted me to deal--it's in an office park somewhere up in the northwest valley, hell and gone from my neck of the woods. We got the address faxed to us and one of the gals in class has a GPS in her car so we ran down to find out where it was... Apparently, it's a pretty big deal too, a freeroll where the winner gets a seat at the Grandaddy of 'em all. But I found out that it goes from 9:30 in the morning until around 4:30 in the afternoon, so I signed up to deal it. Should be another $140 on top of that night's tokes.

But tonight, it's not about live poker. Nope... I'm sure I'll be back in Chinatown cracking jokes and doing my usual rotation of WPT All-In Holdem, Pai Gow, and 3-Card Poker until around 1am or so, and then it's off to the dice pit for the balance of the evening where I spend my time gawking at cocktail waitresses or trying to read the scores crawling along the bottom of the TV in the bar while the occasional random player wanders up and takes a rip at the dice.

Should be a good time, as usual.


Help A Brotha Out

I don't ask for much from my readers, but since I've got a few, please take a minute and go take a look at this website. It's for a good cause.



Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Ghetto Sled, Heal Thyself...

In a miracle profound enough to rival the Virgin Mary making an appearance on a pile of hashbrowns at the local Waffle House, I have been witness to a supernatural wonder that cannot be explained away by mere scientific method.

Over a year ago, during March Madness II, I was picking up my friend Dawn one day out in front of the Shark Reef entrance at Mandalay Bay for an afternoon of buffoonery. Just as she got in the car and tried to put up the electric window, it came off track, again, eliminating the ease at which I could deploy my primary backup to the broken air conditioning unit. In other words, the damn window wouldn't roll up right, and it liked to whistle whenever I got above 30 mph or so. I'd had it fixed twice before, but some cosmic force in the universe preferred that my passenger-side window remain off-track, so I decided not to fight it and just let the window remain in it's trackless happy place, since that's where it seemed to prefer.

Oh, it would go up and down, but not without much wear-and-tear on the motor and actuators, but I figured it wouldn't be my problem for very long.

Well, here it is over a year later, and I still pimp around in the Sled on a daily basis. As long as I keep adding power steering fluid and antifreeze every few weeks, it just keeps on cruising. About once a month I take it down to the car-spa and massage all of the bird shit off of it, and every two weeks I even double it's blue-book value by filling it up with gasoline. As much as I bag on it, it's actually been a very good car.

So with all of the little things wrong with it, imagine my surprise this morning when I left for school and pushed the button to lower the window and it went down smoothly and silently. I was so shocked that I actually got out of the car and walked around to see if something else might have gone wrong, but no--the window was mysteriously back on track and working like it was brand new.

It's a Festivus miracle!

And I'm gonna remember it when I finally trade the old girl in--it might be worth a few extra bucks toward my new truck. But my sweet ride just keeps getting sweeter.

Anyhow... Poker school is winding down. I took my final written exam today, and only missed one question out of 45. Not too shabby. My final evaluation is on Friday afternoon, so tomorrow I'm going to work on all the hard stuff, like today I got tripped up dealing a huge Hi-Low hand in Omaha with three side-pots. It's about the worst type of hand I'll ever deal, so tomorrow I'm going to practice practice practice.

I know that I said I was going to write last night, but the truth is that I was so tired when I finally got home for the evening that I just went straight to bed around 9:00 without dinner or my usual night-off rum drink. I'd gone to school at 10:oo in the morning, practiced all day, and at 4 o'clock we did a dealers' no-limit tournament. Two tables, 18 people, everyone did 15 minutes dealing, and while you were dealing, your stack was anted and blinded down.

By the time we got down to a single table with 9 people, I was the chip leader and on the button. Three people limped in for the big blind, which was $200, so I went all in with a pair of Jacks. Everyone folded around to the second highest stack, an Asian lady who speaks absolutely NO English except for 'All you can eat, baby' every time she wins a hand. She called with Ace-Five offsuit. No problemo. The board was all rags except that there were four hearts. Guess which five she was holding...

Yep, she was out of position and called a $10,700 raise with a weak ace... and won. I felt like giving her the Phil Hellmuth 'If it weren't for luck, I'd never lose a hand' speech, but I knew that she probably wouldn't understand, anyways. I had her covered, but only had $1200 left after that and basically got blinded away while waiting to catch a couple of decent cards to play.

Once I was busted out in 7th place, I stuck around to help deal the rest of the tournament for the remaining players. Talk about a great experience--I probably learned more in that four hours than I did in the entire previous week. Now I can deal no-limit holdem fairly easily. In fact, it's much easier than a cash game since you don't have to figure a rake.

But once it was over at 8pm, I was wiped out. I'd been at school for ten hours straight, and dealing for most of it. That's a couple hours longer than my regular shift at work, so I was spent. That's why I didn't make an update last night.

So I got a good ten hours of sleep, got up this morning and made a pot of coffee and headed back to school for more. It was a pretty dull day this time around, and although I damn near aced my final, I only spent about 40 minutes or so in the box dealing, so I cut out around 2pm.

Under the guise of investigating the room I'd like to work in, I went down to the Plaza. All they had going were $2/$4 cash games, plus the single-table sit-n-go's. Basically, you signed in, and as soon as they'd get 10 players, they'd have a one-table tournament. $35 to buy in, and the winner gets $225, second place gets $75. So I signed up to play in one of those (gotta tune-up for the World Series event in June). I raked the first pot I got involved in, but unfortunately my pocket Queens ran into pocket Kings shortly thereafter and I went out in 8th place. Ouch.

While waiting for the next tourney to start, I went and did a little 'networking' with the cardroom manager. He was a nice guy named Ronnie, but he told me that although the website shows that they have openings for poker dealers, right now they have a freeze on--they're too slow (Just like everyone in Vegas in April. This town is DEAD right now). But he told me to put in the application because that could change next week. While talking to him, he introduced me to the lady who is the scheduling manager, and between the three of us we had a few laughs, so I think they liked me. About twenty minutes after that I was just watching the tournament wind down and he came over to talk to me again, asking me about school and such, basically giving me the screening interview, so I'm hoping that business picks up soon because I'd really like to work at the Plaza poker room. It's just got a cool vibe, and y'all know I'm a downtown kind of guy.

In the meantime, I got asked to deal a satellite next weekend for a seat at the WSOP Main Event. I don't know any of the details yet, just that it's next Saturday and the winner gets a 10K seat at the big one. I don't know which casino it's at or even what time it starts. Hopefully I'll have that info tomorrow, and I hope it's an afternoon tournament so I can deal it--I have to go to my real job that night.

Also, a couple of the guys I go to school with got hired to deal at the WSOP from beginning to end, and said that the Rio is needing 600 dealers for the Series and so far have only got 150. If that's the case, they're likely to start taking folks with scheduling conflicts like myself who could only deal during the day. If that happens, I wouldn't be able to take part in that first event, but instead of costing me $550, I might actually make a little money as a dealer instead of a player. We'll see how it goes, if it goes at all.

So that's the news from this end. School is good, the job is good, the car is still running, and my Captain Morgan shirt arrived yesterday.

All is well in Las Vegas.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Uncomfortably Numb

Sorry for not making a good Monday morning post, but I was busy learning one of Life's Lessons the hard way. And that would be to never do multiple shots of Maker's Mark and Patron in the same evening.

Now you know.

Please learn from my mistakes so you don't have to spend your morning after hugging the porcelain.

Actually, it was a self-induced hug. You could say I was being a 'bulimic drunk'. Years of practice have taught me that the best way to avoid a hangover is to not go to sleep with so much alcohol in the system. It's not a pretty method, but it works. But like most other great discoveries, I came upon that great truth on accident.

But it was my buddy Todd's 30th birthday, and he's one of my homeboys from Nashville, so a bunch of us went out to celebrate after work. Unfortunately, it seemed that everyone in attendance bought a round of different shots--a good idea in theory, but not so much in practice.

A good time was had by all, I think.

I'll write more this evening. Until then I've got to watch last night's episode of 24, catch up on some sleep, then go to school for a few hours.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

...The Dancing Machine!

Although I worked until the bitter end, I didn't go out after I left the casino last night. I really was tired, and although Steph called me around 3:30, I had to decline her offer. She was heading out to her new condo drop some stuff off anyways, so it would've been a pretty late night had we gone out. So I came home and went to bed, alone, again...

But in my haste to get out of work on Friday night and see her, I tossed my uniform shirt down to dry-cleaning chute without taking off my nametag first. So last night I had no nametag. Checking with the uniform room, they didn't have mine, but they had a whole bag of other ones to choose from. Unfortunately, there was no Michael, and of course my second choices were Leroy or Sid. No luck there, either. Most of the rest of the tags available featured names like Julio, Juan, or Hippolito, so I just settled on Gene.

And Gene was just giving away the money last night. In two hours on 3-Card Poker, I dealt five straight flushes and a three of a kind. It got so bad that I ran out of money in my rack and had to get an emergency fill. Of course I dropped my fair share of tokes in the box, and although it really helped, everyone else seemed to think it was another light night. Gas prices and tax season have really put the squeeze on Vegas lately, and it's reflected with our crummy tokes. I'll be interested to see what we made when I head back in tonight.

I was considering once again signing up for a couple of shifts out at Red Rock, but the word last night was that their tokes aren't very good either--their second full night was only $175 per dealer. Not worth the trip in my book, so I scratched my name off the list.

Anyhow, on Monday morning I'll have to head back into the casino during business hours to order a new nametag, and maybe this time I'll finally get that elusive 'Mikey' nametag. I ordered one back in November and never got it, even after checking back three times.

Today, however, I'm enjoying the afternoon watching the Cubs/Cardinals game on tv. Well, I'd probably be enjoying more if the Cards weren't down 4-0 at home and Maddux shutting us down with every pitch. Instead of ordering a pizza or something, I made a big salad with chopped ham, sun-dried tomatoes, greens, jalapenos, basil-flavored gourmet cheese, croutons, and honey dijon dressing. It's pretty damn good and I'm finishing it up just as I type this. I was feeling much too lazy to cook, so a salad sounded like a better idea.

After the game, I'll head outside to catch a little sun, but then I've got some reading and studying to do--there is actually a textbook for poker school, and I've got to take the final this week. Tomorrow, now that I think about it. It's amazing how many little details and rules there are to poker--blind rules, the 'completing the bet rule' when somebody goes all in, multiple sidepots, boxed cards, etc--there's a lot more to it than I ever imagined. Still, it's easier than dealing dice.

And hopefully more lucrative, too.


Saturday, April 22, 2006

A Beautiful Day

Yep, it's sunny and in the mid 70s here in Vegas-land today, with just a slight breeze out there to make it even more pleasant. Oh, and by the way, did I mention it's LAS VEGAS, too? Can't get much better than that. I suppose if I could talk my roommate into building a grotto at the back of the pool, maybe we could get some of Hef's girls to come by and hang out, maybe then it would be better, but until then, it ain't too bad around here.

Of course, I spent my Friday night working, and of course we were busy. Luckily I didn't get moved to the dice pit late in the evening, but at 3am they asked if I wanted to go home, so I did. Just as I got up from the table, I went to check the time on my cellphone and I saw there was a message from my favorite late-night caller, Stephanie. She'd called about two minutes earlier and left a message, asking what I was up to.

So I called her back and we agreed to meet at the bar fifteen minutes later. By the time I got there, she was already there with a beer in her hand, so we grabbed a couple seats, ordered some munchies and spent some time playing quarter video blackjack. Of course we won $25 while we were at it, too.

We were having a great time until one of the floor guys from the dice pit showed up and joined us and started talking about work, again--that's all he ever does, and it's hard to ditch him. I could see Steph's eyes glaze over and when one of the dudes that works in the bar came by looking for somebody to shoot pool with, she jumped at the chance, but I could't escape. So I had to listen to him bitch about not getting picked for Red Rock for a good 15 or 20 minutes until she got back.

By then we'd both switched to bottled water, and I was getting droopy--it was almost 5:30 in the morning. Her phone rang and she gave the old "I'll call you back in just a few minutes", so I figured that was my cue. I said I was tired and going home, and she said the same thing, so we said goodbye to everyone and headed for the door. We had a quick goodbye in the parking lot, and as I drove away, I saw her on the phone, heading to her next best offer...

I hit the bed just as the sun was coming up. She said she wants to get together again tonight, but I don't know if I want to. I'm sure she can find something to keep herself entertained, however.

In the meantime, I think I'm gonna head out to the pool and catch a little sunshine.


Friday, April 21, 2006

Just Another Night

I took the day off from school today and spent a good healthy portion of the day sleeping. Yep, it was another exhausting night at work--busy of course, but they moved me to the Dice Table from Hell again--more ridiculous players who's 'systems' are obviously the products of an infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of keyboards. I swear that I have no idea how they can afford to keep coming back every night.

But as much as I would've loved to skip out early, we're still short on craps dealers, so I know that I'll be stuck till the bitter end on Thursdays and Mondays. In fact, next week's schedule came out and they stopped pretending completely--I'm actually scheduled for dice both nights instead of starting me in Chinatown and then moving me over after midnight.

Also, we were asked if we'd like to go work at Red Rock on our days off, apparently, they're short of dealers too. It sounds like a good deal--I'm sure the money would be great, but I really don't want to make that drive in the Sled (it's a good hour commute from my place, in traffic), and I've got school to finish up next week, along with the off-chance of getting an audition or two. Yep, poker school is winding down--I've got to take my final exam on Monday and do my final evaluation next Friday. So I think I'll skip on working at Red Rock. At least that's the way I'm leaning right now.


This Month's Gamble--Revisited

Ok gang, time to toot my own horn for a few minutes. The discussion about OEX options I started back in late February has born fruit. I believe the OEX had to close today above 560 for that trade to be fully profitable, and a quick check over at Yahoo Finance tells me that the OEX closed at 593.39. That's 30 points to the good--perhaps I was a little too conservative this time around, but nothing stings a gambler like losing money, so I didn't get greedy.

For those keeping score in the option market, for the year 2006:

Profit: $1200
Loss: $0

I'll have a new trade figured out by Monday morning for those that wish to play along.


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hooray For Bloobies!

That Blueberry Morning stuff is a damn fine breakfast cereal.

That is all.



I came to a disturbing conclusion just a few minutes ago as I was washing my breakfast dishes. Apparently, my right hand is bigger than my left hand. How do I know this? Because I have several tall plastic 'iced tea' tumblers (yeah, that's what I use them for), one of which was leftover from last night and needed to be washed. However, when I tried to wash it with my right hand, I couldn't fit it all the way to the bottom, but it was no problem with my left hand.

Weird, huh?

And after all these years, I thought my left hand would've been bigger...


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Home Cookin'

Since it's my night off, and I'm not sampling the culinary delights of the employee dining room at the casino, I decided to give the pots and pans a workout. I made garlic-lime grilled chicken, rotini pasta with a jalapeno cream sauce, and rounded it out with a serving of store-bought coleslaw. The chicken turned out excellent, and I have enough leftover to make some pretty damn good nachos this weekend if I so desire. The pasta, although servicable, didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped, and the coleslaw completely sucked ass. The entire container ended up in the trash after a couple of bites. Why can't anyone out there make coleslaw as good as KFC?

But it was nice to get back and spend some time cooking something besides breakfast. I just wish I had a place with a decent kitchen--this one is pretty outdated, and the stove has issues with deciding which burners it will allow to work if you wish to use more than one at a time. Even though the stripper house I lived in when I first lived here smelled like a litterbox and my shiat kept getting stolen, I really liked that gas stove in the kitchen. I miss that.

Now that the dishes are washed and I'm finishing up my apple juice, I'm thinking of splashing a little rum into a glass of diet coke, grabbing a cigar, and heading out to the chaise lounge out by the pool to spend an hour or so watching the planes on approach to McCarran. It sure beats channel surfing.

I made it to school today for another four hours of poker instruction--I spent my time in the box dealing Omaha Hi-Low, which is probably the toughest game on the dealer. Nobody folds, everybody raises, and there are usually at least five sets of cards to read at the showdown. Plus you get the added bonus of having to split the pot, not to mention any sidepots that might happen along the way.

But I did well, not messing up once while taking the rake or getting the jackpot out of the way, so I can tell I'm close to 'competent enough to try for an audition pretty soon'. In all my years of playing poker, I never once tried to count the pot as it was being built up, but now it's just about all I do all day. And it's getting much easier.

So I figure another week or so before I'm ready to leave the nest and try an audition somewhere. A bunch of guys that don't have jobs yet have been out to the Rio this week for the open auditions for WSOP dealers, but that's seven weeks of hell, and since I already have a job, there's just no way I could do it. I'm sure the money will be great, and the experience will be amazing.

Now that I'm here, I think I'm going to throw my hat in the ring and enter one of the WSOP preliminary events. The first event on the calendar is the Casino Dealers No-Limit tournament, with a $550 buy-in. That's the cheapest one available, so I might as well give it a shot. Only five hundy for a shot at a bracelet? I'd say the pot odds are telling me to make the call.

Of course I'll post my adventures for everyone to read about.


Queen High for the Bald Guy

Ok, so apparently, my busy schedule aside, some of my dear readers have become addicted to my internet blatherings like it was digital crack. Emails and comments have ranged from 'Hello, is this thing on?' to 'Dammit dude, when are you gonna post again?' All I can do is offer my apologies for my extended absence (what, like 48 hours?) from the keyboard, and try to do better. But I find it amazing, and somewhat humbling, the number of people who are interested in the daily happenings of my somewhat-dull-to-me life.

Yesterday, Tuesday, was my 'Saturday'. And my Saturdays are all about catching up on things. Mostly sleep and then chores, like laundry, grocery shopping, reading, etc. After all of that was done, it was almost 7pm at night. So I spent the balance of the evening dozing in front of HGTV, gathering ideas for how I'd fix my place up if the day ever comes that I can afford a home here in Las Vegas.

Yes, I know the original plan was to attend the Grand Opening at Red Rock last night, but we got word on Sunday evening that they pushed the general admission opening back until midnight, instead of 9pm. Knowing that Andrea has a real job and has to get up early in the morning, we cancelled our plans to attend. I was pretty bummed out about the whole thing, because although I really wanted to see the new resort (all of the local 'experts' are comparing it to Bellagio and Wynn), I hadn't gotten to spend any time with Andrea since March Madness, and I was starting to miss her. Although, I've realized that we can only really hang out about once a month, otherwise, things get crazy and we'll either end up in jail, on the news, or drunk at some wedding chapel at the end of the night like Rachel and Ross on that season finale of Friends. Anyhow, what was going to be a great night out turned out to be a dull night in.

Speaking of Red Rock, I may have mentioned in the past that we lost a bunch of dealers to them, meaning that we have a whole lot of new dealers on the extra-board, but as far as I can tell, only three of them deal dice. That means I've been spending a whole lot more time in the dice pit, whereas before I spent about a month straight in Chinatown dealing Pai Gow and carnival games. Believe me, I'm ok with that--nobody really likes to deal blackjack that much, and I love to deal Pai Gow and all of the other fun games except Let It Ride (everybody hates that game). But my dice game has suffered as a result of not getting much time at the table. I've been dealing a year, and I should be a much better dice dealer.

It's not that I'm a poor dealer, and I'm happy to report that I'm no longer the worst dice dealer at my casino. I could just use some improvement, that's all. For awhile there, early on, I just dreaded being scheduled for Craps on the weekends, but busy games with big action and heavy prop bets don't intimidate me anymore. By now I've seen most of the oddball bets that people make (and believe me, nobody plays worse than locals that think they have a 'system'), so I'm used to them, and now I'm getting to where I've got most of the the prop bet combination payoffs memorized, instead of having to take the time to figure 'em out if the dice land on a crap number. I just wish I had smoother hands, but again, that comes with more table time.

So lately, it's been three nights scheduled in Chinatown, and two nights at the dice table. But around 1:30 or 2:00 in the morning, tables start closing and dealers start asking to go home early, so I usually spend my last two hours of each night at the dice table anyways. And forget going home early on Mondays or Thursdays--we never have enough dice dealers on those nights, so I never get to go home early on my 'Friday' night. After a very long dice shift on Monday nights, at the tail end of a long week, it's no wonder that I spend most of the day snoozing on Tuesdays.

Anyhow, if I'm not wrangling the dice or busting people at the Pai Gow table, another one of my favorite games to deal is 3-Card Poker. The table is always fun, there's not much to dealing it making it easy to carry on a conversation, and every now and again somebody makes a monster hand, so it's a moneymaker for the dealers. If I spend the evening turning over cards that are queen high with no pair, I swear I'll drop $300-$400 in the toke box, easy. Plus I'll have a lot of laughs, too. Of all of the carnival games, that one seems to be everyone's favorite to deal. Lucky for me, it's part of the string of tables including Pai Gow and that World Poker Tour game. I'm one of the few people in our casino that can deal the WPT poker game, so I'm usually there at least three or four nights a week.

Poker school is coming along just fine. I'd say I'm about 70% of the way done. At this point, it's mostly self-taught, learning from the book, and practice. I took yesterday off, of course, and I'm thinking of skipping today, too, but lately I've been on a do-the-right-thing kick and I'm sure I'll make my way down there this afternoon for a few hours. I've been checking out a few of the different poker rooms around town, looking for someplace good to deal. At first I thought I'd like to work at Treasure Island with the rest of my classmates, but it's so new that nobody goes there yet--there just aren't enough people playing to make good money. Although longtime reader Brad dealt a cash game there with three players the other day--Pro Ming Wa, Johnnie Chan, and a high-roller from the pit, earning a $200 tip from the roller. (Chan is a legendary stiff though--he could win an $80,000 pot and he still will never tip the dealer. Same with Sam Farha--he's a complete asshole to dealers. And people you think would suck, like Mike Matusow, are actually good people who take care of the dealers... Clearly my perspective has changed, now that I make my living on tips).

Anyhow, the point being is that I'm trying to find a good place to work--Bally's was on the list, but it's kind of a crummy room. Paris doesn't even have a 'room', it's just a few tables in the pit. Harrah's has a nice room with lots of low-stakes action, so working for the Evil Empire isn't completely out of the question. The new 39 table card room at the Venetian sounded good at first, but they aren't getting any players. The other day they had four tables going, and about 15 dealers standing around playing hackysack. That's no way to earn a living. But I keep coming back to the Plaza--that room is always hopping, they do lots of tournaments, and there are plenty of juicy low-stakes games going on 24/7. And, as luck would have it, they are hiring...

I shall keep you posted on any developments.

But here it is almost 11 o'clock, so I've got to get in the shower and head on down to school if I want to eventually get me one of those jobs.

Have a great day!


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Man We Were Killin' Time

So far, it's been an enjoyable Easter Sunday. I got to sleep in and I also got some quality time in by the pool, catching some rays and hopefully getting some color on my pasty white body. I also got to talk to my family for a bit, along with a couple of my favorite gals. Stephanie called me this morning, again about five minutes after I'd gone to bed--she has impeccable timing. So instead of going out, we made plans to get together next Saturday after work. I also talked to Andrea, firming up our plans to attend the Grand Opening at Red Rock on Tuesday night.

So it sounds like it should be a pretty fun week.

While talking with the family, I found out the most unbelievable thing. My brother-in-law David (Cyndi's husband) informed me that the prize money is on the way for, get ready for it--winning the frickin' March Madness bracket pool! Holy shiat--I only had one team going to the Final Four, UCLA, and I won the whole damn thing. It just goes to show just how bad we all did. But the free money is always a nice bonus, so I think I'll treat myself to lunch at Metro Pizza later on this week, and maybe even have two Newcastles instead of just one.

I don't know if this was the case in the rest of the country, but yesterday I was so damn mad I could've eaten glass. Ok, lets see. It was Saturday, a holiday weekend, springtime, and I have 300+ channels available to me on tv. Was there a SINGLE major league baseball game to be found anywhere all afternoon long? You would think there would be at least one, but you'd be wrong. Seriously, what the fark is up with that? At least today I got to watch the Padres-Braves game. Thank you TBS for stepping up where lame-ass FOX and ESPN didn't. As a sports fan, it's infuriating to have three major sports seasons in full swing, and not be able to catch a single game. And Bud Selig wonders why NFL is the Master of All Creation while Major League Baseball used to be America's national pastime. Seriously, did they think that nobody would be interested in seeing the Dodgers and Giants play? Or Cincy in St. Louis? And even the Mets are on fire--any of those three games would've gotten a national audience. But no, I was stuck watching a Busch race on some second-rate cable channel, or I would've had to watch a golf tournament where all of the biggies except Ernie Els took the weekend off.

Talk about being pissed off. There is no excuse for Major League Baseball to not be broadcasting (nationwide) at least two day games every weekend and holiday throughout the season. That should be lesson numero uno in Running a Professional League 101.

Since I had no sports to watch, after I finished up all of my chores, I spent a little time doing some online shopping. First of all, I ordered a couple more pairs of those trendy black polyester pants that I have to wear to work every night. It's amazing how much abuse they take working in a casino. And it would be even worse if we didn't wear aprons. I've got three pairs going to the alteration shop to be repaired tomorrow, and this morning I sewed up a seam on one pair that I could fix myself. But I can never have too many, so I ordered some more. While I was at it I also bought a couple of new t-shirts--none with the pithy sayings I've become somewhat famous for, but one was just a St. Louis Cardinals shirt, and the other one is a Captain Morgan t-shirt. Gotta pay homage to my particular dashboard saint, ya know.

After that I went to and ordered a couple more sailing books that were on sale, along with a replacement cd of The Commitments soundtrack that the lead singer from the band I was with nine years ago stole from me. And we still never got around to playing Mustang Sally before we broke up. Jimmy quit, Jody got married. Shoulda known we'd never get far...

So that's the news for today. I'm just chillin' here at the house waiting until I have to head back to the casino for eight hours of staring at cocktail waitresses and pitching cards.

God, I love this town!


Enjoy the Meal, Just Don't Drink the Kool Aid

Hey Gang--Happy Easter, or Passover, or whatever you're into celebrating--I hope your holiday is enjoyable, and those that are able to spend the afternoon sharing a nice dinner with the company of family and friends should feel especially blessed.

Having been raised under the jackboot of Mormonism, I myself have a healthy aversion to all types of Organized Religion, but I certainly don't mind celebrating the holidays. Although Easter isn't one that I've ever really 'celebrated'--growing up the way I did, it wasn't so much about the resurrection of Jesus as it was about the one time a year all the women at our church would could compete to see who could wear the most outrageous hat. The outside world has the Kentucky Derby, Mormons have Easter.

And while I still respect the Christians setting a day aside to remember things like forgiveness and redemption and whatnot, I'm not quite clear how the Romans crucifying a hippie two thousand years ago relates to marshmallow peeps or Cadbury eggs. I'm still in the dark about that one, but hey, it seems to be good for business. But admit it--lets say you were kicking around the holy land several centuries ago, went to a wedding, and saw some dude there changing all of the water into wine--wouldn't you immediately sign up to be part of his posse?

Anyhow, I could easily go off on a long-winded rant on my thoughts about religion in general, or Mormonism in particular, but nobody wants to read that. I left that world behind long ago once I figured out for myself that it was all a load of hooey. As an outsider, however, whenever I see a strident Mormon, I can't help but think that they remind me of Trekkies--you know, they spend all of their time learning about the shiat that some dude just made up.

But enough of that. I've probably said too much already--so I'll shut it before I really start to offend everyone who lives deep in the religious nut forest. But it's a beautiful spring day, and regardless of your affiliation, or lack thereof, maybe it's a good idea to take a moment and consider just how good life really is. Raise a glass of wine, or water, or whatever, and drink a toast to the Good Stuff.

May there always be plenty of it...


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Surfing With the Alien

What a beautiful Vegas day! It's in the 70's, the sun is shining, and there's a slight breeze keeping everything cool and comfy. I've been busy today, so I haven't had as much 'outside' time as I'd like, but I managed to tear myself away from my chores and drive down to the new Roberto's Taco Shop down on Pecos and Sunset for a carne asada burrito. Now I'm full and thinking I need a nap...

It's been a busy week, of course, but I've managed to have my share of fun, too. At work on Thursday night, Jen and I decided to take off an hour early. I brought a dvd, and a couple bottles of vodka and some Red Bull, and she cooked a pizza. We stayed up all night watching Road Trip, which she'd unbelievably never seen before, and followed it up with a Family Guy dvd which I'd never seen. After all that we attempted to fall asleep, but I couldn't settle down, so I just came home and crashed in my own bed.

Three hours later, my alarm was going off, and I crawled to the shower before getting dressed and heading out for the day. After making a couple of stops, I found myself over at the Flaming-O to meet up with Larry the surfing sailor.

Our original plan was to head out to the new Red Rock Station casino--it doesn't officially open until this Tuesday, but I had an invite to come out early and check it out--plus all the restaurants and bars were offering free food and drinks to Station employees and their guests. It turns out that the bars and the table games weren't going to open until 5pm that evening, and traffic was hell anyways, so we decided to just grab some lunch somewhere closeby on the Strip, instead.

Not wanting to eat at the Flamingo or Harrahs, we decided to walk over to Bally's and eat Mexican at their tequila bar. I also wanted to check out their poker room, thinking that may be a decent job once I'm finished with school here in the next couple of weeks. Turns out that the poker room was more of an afterthought and didn't look too promising, anyways. And the tequila bar was deserted when we got there, so it was time for a new lunch plan. I suggested Isla at Treasure Island, having wanted to go there for several months now. Larry agreed, thinking margaritas might be just the ticket to offset all of the Jaegermeister in his system.

A few minutes later we were riding to TI with the most insane English-speaking cab driver I've ever had the pleasure to ride with. The dude was completely entertaining, but straight-up nuts. I swear he could teach a post-graduate course in Road Rage. Even though traffic was gridlocked, we got to Treasure Island in record time and with a fare of less than six bucks. We gave him ten just for the show, and the added bonus of surviving the ride without dying in a fiery crash or getting shot by one of the dozens of people he pissed off on the ride over.

Just a minute later we were standing at the entrance of the restaurant, bumming out because we learned that it's not open for lunch, just appetizers in the bar. We were more hungry than thirsty, so we decided to give Kahunaville a try. Walking to our third attempt at finding a suitable lunch spot, we were blessed with the happy coincidence that scores of international Hawaiian Tropic contestants happened to be staying at TI at the same time, parading around in bikinis, high heels, and sashes. To call it a distraction would be a vast understatement. The gal from St. Petersburg Russia was so hot that it prompted Larry to comment that he needed to get on that Russian bride website and check it out as soon as he gets back home.

Unfortunately, we were shot down at Kahunaville, also. They told us that it was a 25-minute wait for a table, and although we put our name on the list, we moved on. We stopped, briefly, to check out the new poker room there at TI. It's pretty nice--they converted a couple of the retail outlets in the corridor on the way to the tram station into a decent room. And they were playing all the games at the tables nearest the entrance, creating a lot of railbirds, including us, watching the action.

Not able to find anything better, we settled on the buffet, Dishes. It's $15 a person for lunch, and it ain't that great. In fact, one trip through the line was enough for the both of us. The food is just ok, there's not that great of a selection, and the way it's set up creates unneccessary bottlenecks--you can't just walk up and grab something--you have to wait in line for each station. It's absolutely a crummy layout. If you want to get something different from four different stations, all the food is cold by the time you get back to your table. Basically, we both agreed that the TI buffet still sucks.

All was not bad, however, as several more ladies from the Hawaiian Tropic contingent stopped in to have lunch at the same time. We spent the next several minutes trying to take photos on the sly, but none of them turned out as well as I'd hoped. But we sure had fun trying.

After lunch, we headed back to the casino for a little bit of Pai Gow. I think we played for about an hour, and I managed to turn a $75 buy-in into $220. It would've been an even $300, but I decided to go big on one final hand--it was shiat, so I bought the dragon. It wasn't much better, and the dealer wiped us all out with a full house.

We hit the cashier cage, grabbed a taxi, and headed back to the Flamingo. Larry and I said our goodbyes and I headed home for a couple of hours of much-needed sleep before heading back to work.

I was on dice again last night, and it was another big pain-in-the-ass night. Just a mountain of prop bets on every roll, and unfortunately, they all kept hitting, giving more ammunition to our most annoying players. Luckily, we started changing crews out around 12:30 in the morning, so we moved to a couple of different tables. I'd also signed up for early out because I was so exhausted, so I managed to skate out of there and was home in bed by 2:15 in the morning. This week, tax week, is traditionally the slowest week of the year at my casino, so leaving early didn't cost me much money. In fact, Thursday night was the lowest toke rate I've seen since I've been working there.

So I slept in today, catching up on the sleep deficit I've been running since I started back to poker school. And I'm not dealing dice tonight, at least not until after midnite, so it won't be nearly as tiring.

Tomorrow should be a nice relaxing day again, and my whole family is getting together for Easter/Amy's birthday dinner at my sister's place, so I'll get to talk to everyone when they do the whole pass-the-phone-around thing.

For the rest of the afternoon, however, I've got an appointment with my remote.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Yes, I know that I still have about 15 bottles of the demon rum laying around, left over from the March Madness festivities. But I'm working through that particular 'problem' as fast as I can. However, I can't say enough good things about a particularly delicious rum that I had the pleasure of drinking on the last day of the buffoonery. When George, Marlisha, and I spent the day at the Hilton smoking cigars and relaxing in our private lounge, we spent most of the afternoon sipping on Pyrat rum on the rocks.

Most of the time, rum is a great mixer, but this stuff is great by itself as a sipping drink--every bit as enjoyable as a fine cognac, and definitely less harsh than good scotch, at least to this novice scotch drinker. It's pretty smooth, and I believe that just their regular stuff is aged 15 years.

Those of you who know me best know that I'm all about the pirate lifestyle anyways--from my love of all things Caribbean, sailing, pirating music off the internet, even my weekly chore of swabbing the parrot shiat from the decks of me ghetto sled. So I've gone without this particular treasure long enough.

So this weekend, as a treat to myself for being so productive lately and working feverishly toward my goals, I'm gonna buy a bottle of the Good Stuff and add it to my collection. And the next time I reward myself for a private victory, I'll have the perfect booty.


Wide Awake In America

Wait, haven't I used that headline before? It sounds like one I wouldn't have waited this long to use... Anyhow. I finally got some sleep last night, and woke up at 4:30 this morning. So of course I was Mr Motivation and got up and got a start on my day. All of my chores are done, and I guess I can still go to school for a few hours today and also get some quality sunshine-at-the-pool time in later this afternoon. Yesterday I was so tired that all I anticipated was lying around in bed all morning, then lying by the pool all afternoon. But I'm well rested and have already downed damn near an entire pot of Don Francisco's Hawaiian Hazelnut, so I'm ready to roll.

Before I forget, I want to give a shout out 'thank you' to one of my favorite readers, Dave P from CT, for giving me the magic solution to curing my email problems. Fixed it inside of two minutes. I guess I'll spend my evening sorting through all that crap now and catching up with everyone. Yeah, thanks again, Dave. Now I have no excuse... Just kidding--I really appreciate the help.

I also want to welcome a couple of new countries to the world of Hurricane Mikey. Checking my Site Meter this week, it seems that I now have readers in Sweden and Bulgaria. Very cool. I also have a couple of 'unknown countries' checking in, but judging from the email I get, I'm pretty sure that it's servicemen serving in Iraq. Oh yeah, and I can't forget that drunk chick down in St. Croix either... Apparently, is a worldwide phenomenon. I'm just missing step three of the success-in-the-Information-Age matrix:

1. Start a website
2. Get lots of readers
3. ?
4. Profit!

Oh well, like all great institutions, it started as a labor of love. Or as that no-talent hack Fred Durst once said, I did it for the nookie! Well, the free meals and drinks are nice, too.

Anyhow, it's a beautiful day out here in Vegas land, so I'm gonna hop in the shower and then get out and enjoy it a little bit. Have a happy happy!


Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Hey everybody...

Finally, some free time on my hands! I worked the full 8 hours last night--not part of the 'toke crew' that gets the last twenty minute break, collects and empties all of the toke boxes, then gets out early. Nope, I was on my game until the bitter end, damn near the last person on my shift to leave the casino again. I don't mind that so much, but when it's my 'Friday night', of course I'd prefer to be home chillin' by 4am, instead of dealing that last hand of Pai Gow and secondhand chain-smoking.

Anyhow, it was the usual routine--I stayed up to watch the latest exploits of Tony Soprano and Jack Bauer, so I didn't get to sleep until after 6am, then that alarm was ringing three-and-a-half hours later, telling me I had to get up and go to school.

A few words about poker school--first of all, my time is extremely valuable these days--there just aren't enough hours in the day for me. So school is kind of a disappointment for me. The first few days going back were wonderful--lots of good info, but once you've got the basics, it seems that all you do is sit around playing mock poker games, getting twenty minutes of dealing time in the box, then just sitting around all day playing a pointless game where nobody folds because the chips are fake. Getting one-on-one instruction from the teachers is like pulling teeth. There is no course syllabus (if there is, I certainly haven't seen it), and all of the technical stuff I've picked up is because of my experience in card rooms has taught me to ask the right questions. For instance, side pots. I'd have no idea how to do them unless I specifically asked about them, same for obscure stuff like the 'complete the bet rule'. I go home every night and think about stuff I want to learn the next day, then sit by myself at a practice table, and flag down instructors whenever I can.

For $800, I don't think it's money well spent. Of course, I'm a smart guy and one thing I've realized is that I'm pretty good at this casino business stuff, so I'll get by and find a job, but if I were in charge, there would be a little more structure. I think I'm gonna have a sit-down with Nick on Thursday and let him know my thoughts. He's on top of the instructors all the time, making sure he's putting out a quality product, but his poker school, for being the most expensive one in Vegas, seems to fall short at least as far as I'm concerned.

Of course, since my time is so valuable, and I learn about ten times faster than the group of doofusses I was first paired up with, my patience wears very thin. Like I said, I want to get in, get done, and get paid. Half of the clowns in there are just thrilled to sit around in class all day and play fake games and shoot the shiat. Not me--I want to finish up and if I never see any of them again I'll be just fine with that.

It reminds me of the time about six months ago I stopped by the Western one night. While there I saw three dealers who I went to school with last year. There I was working a great job at an upscale casino, and these clowns were still at a break-in joint making $30 a day in tokes. I was shocked that they've settled for such a crummy job. I've never been one of those driven success-at-all-costs types, but damn, I have a little motivation to improve my lot in life. Get a move on, people. Every day spent in school is another day I'm not making money.

Just today, one of the guys came in wearing his black & whites, obviously having had an audition. He told me that he'd just come from auditioning at Sam's Town out on Boulder Highway. While I hope he did well and gets the job, part of me couldn't understand why he would try to get in there right away--there are dozens of better poker rooms in this town, and this guy is a good-looking kid, well spoken, and a great dealer. Why he's not auditioning at better-paying rooms is beyond me.

I'm guessing that most people, however, are more shy than I am and prefer the low key approach. For good or bad, confidence is not a quality I'm lacking. Also, I don't need a poker dealing job, I just want one. I can hold out for a good one, which is a nice position to be in.

Anyhow, once I realized that the learning portion of my day was over, I skipped out of school and headed downtown. First of all, I had to go back to the Golden Gate and pick up a copy of my W-2 form, which never found me after I moved last year, and taxes have to be filed before the weekend is up.

I had to laugh when I opened it up and saw that in the eight weeks that I worked there, I made about $1800. There are a lot of terms I could use to describe my experience at the Golden Gate, but 'financially rewarding' is not one of them. After popping in and out of there--and wishing I had some cash on me instead of just a debit card (they only take cash in the snack bar, and a deli sandwich, a shrimp cocktail, and a beer were sounding especially good today)--it was off to the Gamblers General Store just a few blocks further down Main Street. I wanted to pick up a copy of Dan Paymar's Professional Poker Dealer's Handbook and a set of KEM cards to practice with.

For those of you not familiar with the poker world, KEM cards are the near-indestructible professional plastic cards that they use in poker rooms. They're a little narrower than blackjack cards, feel a little different, and cost about $15 per deck, although GGS offers a 2-pack setup box for $20. So I dropped a little scratch in there, browsed a bit, and headed back to school, thinking we'd be doing our weekly 'tournament'.

Unfortunately, they weren't starting that until 3:30 this afternoon and I was just too tired to hang around, so I came back home, microwaved a can of mini-ravioli, and took a nap. And I've never been so happy to have the evening off, thrilled with the knowledge that I can sleep in tomorrow, too. If it's sunny again, I'm gonna spend a good portion of my day snoozing in a chaise lounge out by the pool with a rum drink close by. I'm not having my official evaluation at school until Thursday, so I'm taking tomorrow off from that obligation, also.

Before I forget, I wanted to make a group apology to everyone who's emailed me in the past couple of weeks who I haven't answered--believe me, I read every one of the emails and comments I get, eventually, but I just don't have the time to reply to all of them. Adding insult to that injury, my Outlook Express has contracted some sort of bug where it will not allow me to delete anything directly--I have to manually drag and drop each email I want to get rid of into the 'drafts' folder first, then I can delete them from there. It sucks, and the real bitch of it is that I've got about 800 messages in my inbox, so it's a real pain in the ass to cherry pick through the junk and spam and answer everyone.

Just like the Ghetto Sled, I don't feel like putting the effort or the expense into fixing anything that goes wrong with this computer anymore--it will be replaced shortly, so I'm just dealing with any known issues until the day that the UPS lady drops off my new Dell. If it can't be fixed by a can of compressed air or rebooting, it just ain't gonna get fixed. And if any of those geniuses on the engineering team at Microsoft who are responsible for Windows ME ever show up at my table, I'm dealing them nothing but 16s or Jack-high Pai gows for their entire visit. Bastards.

But that's why a majority of emails have gone unanswered lately. Again, my apologies to everyone--it's not my intention to ignore anyone.

More later--word around the campfire is that there will be some nudity later tonight on Skinemax, so I've got to go program the ol' Tivo!


Monday, April 10, 2006

The 'Buffet' Story

Ok, since stories of me falling down and getting hurt are a big hit with my readers, here's another one from the archives that happened back in June of 2003 on a weekend trip to Tunica.


Since I didn't do a narrative-style trip report for my visit to Tunica last week, I didn't include the following story. It is all true, and rates right up there with the 'Teef' story:

I stood at the craps table at the Horseshoe from 10pm Friday night until almost 5 am the next morning. I'd participated in a few really good rolls that put me up $200 after all of the crummy shooters that had slowly bled me for most of the night.

As usual, I tipped the dealers pretty well, making my hardway bets two-way, along with an occasional line bet with odds.

After seven straight hours of standing at the table, my feet were killing me, and I was starving because I hadn't eaten anything since 11 am the day before. The pit boss was kind enough to offer me breakfast at their buffet.

I colored up and graciously accepted the comp ticket. I needed to eat, because I'd been drinking Captain and sevens for most of the night, and had to drive back to Harrahs which was nine miles away. No taxi cabs in Tunica.

I shuffled all the way over to the buffet which was at the far end of the casino. After waiting just a few minutes, they had a table ready for me in an alcove next to the breakfast line.

As I walked towards my table, I passed a few members of the overnight cleaning crew, polishing the floor with a large zamboni-type of mopping machine.

My server took my drink order, and I fetched a plate and got in the breakfast line. I filled my plate with bacon, eggs, hash browns, a serving of grits, and a biscuit with gravy. I was thinking I didn't want to eat this much because I'd be going right to bed afterwards, but I was hungry and felt I needed to eat.

Not wanting to wait for a custom-made omelet, I turned around to hurry back to my table. Just as I got to the alcove, I stepped in a still-wet area of the tile and went down face first like Pete Rose sliding into third! My plate flipped in the air and dumped breakfast all over me and the floor, coming down with a crash. I did a short slide into an empty table and jumped up as quick as I could, more embarrassed than hurt--although it stung a little.

"Gotta work on that dismount" I mumbled to nobody in particular, but a nearby table full of gangster-thug looking gentlemen saw the whole thing. They jumped up from their seats and pointed at me, offering such bits of commentary as "You gettin' PAID, brotha!!!", "I seen it all, you got FO witnesses, right here at this table!!", "That's a half million, big man!! They gonna put YO name on the front of the casino!!!", etc....

Of course, my server saw me go down, too, and did the requisite freak-out. I was busy trying to wipe the grits and gravy off of me, while he offered assistance in broken English. Immediately 3 people with walkie-talkies showed up, and I was the center of attention in the middle of the breakfast buffet. They were all talking at once, in full-on damage control mode, but I just wanted to eat and go to bed.

They shadowed me as I got another plate, this time just with some bacon, a scoop of eggs, and a biscuit. I sat down at my table to eat, while they peppered me with questions and called for security. I insisted that I was fine, and just wanted to go to bed.

I started eating, and just a couple minutes later, two security guards showed up with a wheelchair, a clipboard full of paperwork, and a digital camera. I rolled my eyes, thinking it was all a bit of overkill, but they had protocol to follow. Immediately they start to freak out too, as apparently I'd cut my knee without noticing, and my leg was bleeding like a shark attack victim. Of course, I didn't notice, I was busy picking pieces of egg and other goo out of my shirt.

They took pictures and info from me while I cleaned myself up. I insisted I was fine, but they had to cover their asses. I'd pretty much lost my appetite by that time, signed the form that said I refused medical treatment, and tried to escape the Horseshoe.

Ok, so I'd been standing at the craps table for 7 hours and after taking a spill and then sitting for about 15 minutes, my legs were good and stiff. But I managed to hobble out to the front of the casino under my own power, with the security guys following 20 feet behind with their wheelchair in case I took another header into a slot machine or something.

As soon as I got out the front door, they were off the hook, and I was free to go. I stood in the short line at the valet booth, and happened to make eye contact with an attractive gal about 10 years my senior. She started chatting me to me about her losing night at the slot machines, and we made our way to a bench to wait for our cars. They were a little understaffed at that time of the morning, and told us we'd be waiting for a few minutes. No biggie, I was enjoying the company.

Anyhow, we sit down on this bench, and I realize that this gal is hitting on me. Score! So while she's talking about whatever, I'm trying to think how this is going to end up. Can't go back to my room--I brought my mom with me. My new friend doesn't have a room, she drove down from Memphis. Of course I was under a time crunch to close the deal too, as our cars were likely to arrive at any minute.

Well, as I was talking , I turned toward her and put my arm on the back of the bench. She said "Hey, you've got something on your arm". I looked at my forearm and it was completely covered with grits, gravy, floor wax and other assorted nastiness. Yep, that was the deal breaker, as I could see the look of disgust cross her face as I tried to wipe it off...

Luckily her car showed up right then so we didn't have to endure any uncomfortable silence while I finished scraping the goo off my arm with the edge of the park bench.

I was sober as a judge by this time, and my truck showed up about a minute later. I made it back to Harrahs without further mishap.


Walking Tall, Falling Down

Name two movies that could describe my day off...

Man, what a weekend. Of course I was busier than hell at work--we're still short on dealers--but I spent all day Saturday being productive here at the house. First of all, I was tired of all the clutter in my room which I've just had stacked up in the corner and in the closet since I moved in back in October, so I finally decided to do something about it. We've got a storage area built into the carport, but I never utilized it until now.

I just had too much junk that needed to be stored, so once I got up and started doing laundry, taking out the garbage, and cleaning stuff up, I consolidated all the crap that I didn't have an immediate need for into big Rubbermaid storage tubs. Once I got the closet mostly cleaned out, I was finally able to use it to hang clothes in, instead of using the closet doors, the doornob, and the back of my chairs. So once everything was stacked and ready to go, all I had left to do was to move it to the other end of the estate and get it into the storage unit.

So I started carrying the tubs and boxes out, but there was an obstacle that I wasn't fully aware off. First of all, we have a really large covered patio on the side of the house--it can be used as a carport or just an outdoor entertaining area if we need it, as it's connected to the bbq and firepit areas, too. But at some point in the past, my roommate poured a new concrete slab down on the back half of it, raising the level of the floor several inches. Just where the pad is raised, the roof ends, and then you're on the outdoor part of the patio before you get into the pool area.

Well, the roof has a concrete overhang. And it hangs low. They tell me it hangs down to six feet exactly. Well, I'm here to tell you today that the roof over my patio actually hangs down to five-feet eleven-and-three-quarter inches. How do I know this? Because I am exactly six feet tall, and carrying about eighty pounds of crap in boxes like I was, I was moving at a good pace when the momentum of the irresistable force of Mikey ran directly into the immovable object known as the concrete overhang.

Imagine a cartoon moment, perhaps when the coyote runs into a rock wall at full speed... Yep, that was me. All my shiat went flying everywhere--camping equipment, electronics, magazines--it all came down with a crash, while my eyes immediately started watering, my head started bleeding like a stuck pig, and I went down in a heap. It felt like getting hit in the nuts with a hammer while simultaneously snorting a half ounce of pure wasabi paste.

If you were there to see it, you would've been laughing your asses off, but it hurt like a sumbitch. As luck would have it, that supernatural force that exists in my laundry room had provided me with an extra sock when fetching the latest load from the dryer, so I had that in my pocket. Once I gathered my senses enough to realize that I was bleeding, I used it as a temporary bandage while I stumbled to the bathroom to check out the damage. It looked a lot worse than it was--I was really hoping I didn't need to get stitches in my head and have to go back to work that night looking like the Frankenstein monster, but our patio definitely looked like a crime scene.

I finally got the bleeding stopped, the patio cleaned up, and the rest of my garbage stowed away. But my head is still tender to the touch and it's probably gonna leave a permanent mark. But that's ok, chicks dig scars.

As a bonus, the girls I work with decided to take up a collection for me to get a bicycle helmet to wear whenever I go outside, so that I'm no longer a danger to myself. They also mentioned something about how I'm only allowed to use a spoon while in the employee dining room from now on, too.

Guess who's dressing up as a piggy bank next Halloween...


Sunday, April 09, 2006

Masters of Their Domain

Here it is 6:30 am on a Sunday morning, and after a long night at work I should be sound asleep. But I'm wide awake and watching the Masters coverage that started at 5:00 o'clock this morning.

I got home, poured myself a tall diet 7-Up, layed down on the bed and kicked off my shoes. Just as I got comfy, I looked at my cellphone, and it said I had a couple of missed calls (I turn the ringer off at work). It was Stephanie--heading for the bar and looking for me. I called her back but unfortunately, I was already down for the count and I really wanted to watch golf, so her offer of late-night buffoonery was declined. I swear these young chicks are gonna wear me out...

Anyhow, this is an especially interesting tournament this time around because a few of my favorite golfers are right there at the top of the leaderboard--Phil Mickelson, Freddie Couples, and of course my absolute favorite, Rocco Mediate--I've been a fan of his ever since he won the Phoenix Open several years ago, and although he hasn't had nearly as much success as a lot of the other guys on tour, I root for him every week, and I always put him in my 'major pool'.

Actually, the real reason he's my favorite is because one time at the Phoenix Open, me and my drunken buddies were hanging out at the famous 16th hole, and Rocco was standing nearby talking to his caddy, and I busted out with my best Burgess Meredith voice and yelled Eye of the tiger, Rock! Not only did everyone around us start laughing, but Rocco himself looked over and gave a thumbs up, so after that I had to be a big fan.

Anyhow, my buddy Devin started the Major Pool several years back, and basically for each of golf's 'major' tournaments, everyone would pick a six-player team (and we'd throw Tiger Woods out of the equation completely, because everyone would pick him anyways), and throw ten bucks in the pot. Basically, four of your guys had to make the cut, and the winner was determined by whoever's players won the most money, using the money list published in the paper on Monday morning. The tourney winner's score under par was used for a tiebreaker, kind of like picking the total score on Monday night in the weekly football pool.

For a bunch of degenerate gamblers like my buddies and I, it was just another way to create a little interest while we waited for football season to roll around. But the Masters is everyone's favorite tournament, just because, although they won't admit it publicly, it's the tourney that every one of the pros would choose to win if they could only have one. And it's played on a course that everyone dreams about playing on, but few ever get to do. So even though the pool isn't happening anymore, I'm still glued to the tv today--and at some point I have to get some sleep before I go back to work tonight.

But for the record, I'm rooting for Rocco and Lefty, and I catch myself yelling NOONAN! at the tv every time Tiger lines up for a putt. (So far it's working--he's had like three bogeys in a row as I'm writing this!).

By the way... No Ken Venturi this year? I kind of miss his pompous ass--it was a great drinking game to do a shot whenever he said the word 'patrons'.


Thursday, April 06, 2006


Man, I don't know how I forgot to mention this yesterday, but I learned a new poker game that is starting to get pretty popular here in Vegas. It's called Badugi (Bah-doo-gee --with a hard 'g'--rhymes with loogie), and a lot of the card rooms out here are starting to spread it. In fact the ten guys I go to class with that got hired at T.I. have to deal it, so we've been practicing it in class a little bit each day. Basically it's a 5-card triple draw low game, where the best hand is A-2-3-4 unsuited--called a Badugi. It sounds easy, but it can be the most frustrating game you've ever played.

You can read the complete details on the Wikipedia link above, but you know how it seems that you always miss your draws in Holdem when you need that last card to make your flush? In this game, if you don't want a particular suit, you're damn near guaranteed to get it every time you draw--it's uncanny. Anyhow, there are some big limit cash games going on up and down the strip, and it's becoming the pros new favorite game--which I suspect is just because it's something different, and the ability to draw cards makes it more interesting.

There are four rounds of betting--one 'preflop' and then again after each draw, but I don't know if anybody is offering it in low limits. So the betting is just like in Holdem, with the same blind structure, straddles, etc. Although it's gaining in popularity out here, I think the smallest game I've heard of was $10/$20, and I believe Mirage has a $200/$400 game going almost every day.

A lot of the online poker rooms are starting to get it now, too, so if any of you have an account where it's offered, give it a try. I think it's a fun game, but it'll drive you nuts.


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Kill the Damn Groundhog Already

Well, when I got up and left the house this morning, it was sunny but a little breezy outside. I spent a few hours at school, and when I went back outside, it was gray, cold, and blustery. I swear the temperature dropped about 20 degrees in less than four hours. I was watching CNBC this morning, and they were showing the snow falling in Times Square and playing Christmas music. That's cool for New York and all, but damn, here it is in the middle of the farking desert and it's freezing cold. And my roommate just came back from a job in Summerlin and told me that it was snowing up there, too.

School was ok today, but an eye-opener. I spent a little time dealing for the other students, and didn't mess up too badly at all. But right after I was finished, another guy took over and he was just awful. He always dealt a third card to the small blind, he never got the rake right, and misread a couple of hands. Yeah, we're students and school is the place to make those mistakes--but I was so much better than this guy was, and he's already got a job offer from Treasure Island! Seriously, I felt bad for the guy, because the instructor just sat there shaking his head the whole time, and at one point leaned over and whispered to me I hope this guy actually gets to keep his new job...

So as much work as I have ahead of me, I feel my prospects for finding a decent job are pretty good when I finish. Also, another guy came in, telling us that he got a hired for the World Series of Poker later on this spring. That would be fun to do, but I know I'm not ready for that. Besides, that's seven weeks of 15-hour days, seven days a week. The money is good, but I could never pull that off and hope to keep my current job.

Anyhow, after I got out of school, I made a quick run over to the Green Valley library to finally return my overdue books--I put them in the back seat of the sled a couple weeks ago and forgot that they were there until I got the overdue notice in the mail the other day. Oops. Then I made a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up a bag of ice and a jar of jalepenos. It's my weekend and I'll need the ice to help me dispose of all this rum I have lying around my room--courtesy of the parties during March Madness. I swear I have so many damn bottle sitting around that my bedroom looks like Nicholas Cage's motel room in Leaving Las Vegas.

But the jalepenos are for my stuffy nose. Because I'm all about the natural remedies...


In Praise of the Scientific Method

I can't believe this article wasn't published in The Onion. Normally I'm suspect of anything that CNN reports as 'news' but this is certainly one article I'll be happy to believe as fact.

If more women were aware of this, they could do away with that whole Race for the Cure thing and cut out the middleman! To show my support, I'll gladly volunteer to help any female in the greater Las Vegas area who wants to get a head start on an ounce or two of prevention. It's just the kind of guy I am.


The REAL April Fools

Hey everyone...

It's been an extremely long week for me--I've had absolutely no free time to just lounge around and be a slug, much less spend any time on the computer posting updates or answering emails. And I was basically the last person from my shift to leave the casino on Monday night--I was busy busy--and extremely tired. But I got home and of course I couldn't go to sleep without watching out watching the latest episodes of 24 and The Sopranos, so I was still wide awake at 7:00 am yesterday morning. My alarm was set for 9:30, but I hit the snooze button and didn't wake up again until almost 2 in the afternoon.

But now that I'm awake and enjoying my weekend, I've got me a tall glass of lime Coke and coconut rum, a comfy chair, and some free time on my hands, so I'll see if I can't give an coherent retelling of what my life has been like for the past week or so. This may take awhile...

I remember dealing dice last Thursday night, and looking up and seeing one of the old March Madness veterans from last year, Eric, a.k.a. Jack21, buying in at my table. Turns out that it was a good time for him to be there, because I think he made about $500 or so over the course of the next hour. He ended up hanging out until the end of my shift and we sledded it over to the Peppermill for breakfast around 4:30 in the morning.

Breakfast was ok--I had the eggs benedict and a vanilla milkshake, while Eric decided to try and be The Man and ordered both eggs benny and an order of steak & eggs. I told him he was nuts, but he ate everything but the hash browns. Speaking of which, we were treated to the latest instance of the Peppermill going cheapo, as they've changed from their wide hashbrowns that I loved so much to regular old crappyass Ore Ida grocery-store hashbrowns. I figured if they were gonna do that, they should at least offer them scattered, smothered, and covered like Waffle House does, but no such luck.

But Eric was feeling flush after his big win at the dice table, so he paid the tab.

He'd been up for about 24 hours straight by that point, so after his big meal he was needing a little sleep, so I dropped him off at THEhotel and headed home to get some sleep myself.

Work was especially exhausting this weekend, because we've started to lose all of the dealers that are transferring to the new Red Rock Station that's opening in two weeks. That means we had to do hour-and-twenty minute shifts on each table instead of just an hour. Didn't seem like such a big deal at the time, but 80 minutes of five-dollar blackjack will suck the life right out of you, since it brings out all of the best players. Good god, what a horrible night. On the plus side, since we're short of dealers, it means fewer people to split the tokes with, so the money was a little better.

After work that night, the celebration was on--all of the dealers were gathering at our favorite bar, Chilly Palmers, to say goodbye to everyone who is transferring. Friday night was their official 'last' night, although several had already left. So we decided to get together and hoist a few drinks for the last time. As you may have guessed, much buffoonery ensued. I'll share a few pics that won't get me into too much trouble:

Mikey and his trophies. That would be Jovanka and Jen making me look better.

Besides Pacifico and Patron, these are my two favorite Mexican imports, Patti and Amelia

So a Turk, a Mexican, and a Serb walk into a bar...

Jen, Carlos, and Cesar finally put their drinks down long enough to pose for the camera

David and our favorite Hooters Girl, Trixia. Word around the campfire is that she's also going to be a 'bikini pit' dealer out at Red Rock, too.

One of our more artistic colleagues expresses herself with ketchup on the only suitable medium available

It was a great time, and we laughed ourselves silly until the sun was way too high in the sky. Lots of random shots were consumed, stories were told, and there was even a bit of disturbing nudity on display. After a couple of hours, I switched to bottled water for awhile before heading home and getting four hours of much-needed sleep.

I got up at 11:30, took a quick shower and checked my messages. Longtime reader Julie and a pack of her drunken friends were in town and decided to leave me dirty messages all night long. It sounded like they were having a great time, so I called them back. We made plans to meet up at 1:00 for lunch at the Monte Carlo Brew Pub.

I arrived right on time, and a couple of attractive gals flagged me down just as I got to the brew pub. It was Sandy and Julie, and I was finally able to put faces to a couple of names who I've been emailing back and forth with for the past month or so.

I thought that I'd be spending the day with four women, but I was told that after their night at the Voodoo Lounge, one of their friends suffered a derailment and woke up with a witch doctor in her bed. A witch doctor, for those that don't know, is a monster-sized rum punch drink that will absolutely knock you on your ass if you're not careful. Apparently, Dee Dee wasn't careful, and redecorated her bed, the floor, and portions of the bathroom once she got back to the hotel last night. My kinda girl, indeed!

We got a table, and a few minutes later Kayla and DeeDee showed up to join us for a little hair of the dog.

We ordered a bunch of different beers and such, and even ordered some wings and nachos, while they regaled me with tales of the previous night's exploits. Between them at the Voodoo Lounge and me and my gang at Chilly's, it's probably a good thing that we didn't hook up the night before, or else we might've been spending the day at the Clark County lockup instead of the Monte Carlo Brew Pub.

After the appetizers were gone, we ordered some pizzas and such for lunch and kept the beer coming. Since we were all still suffering a bit from the previous nights activities, the drinks seemed to do their trick even faster and we couldn't stop laughing or being silly. Once the food was gone, we changed up to martinis and other 'specialty' drinks and I broke out the vanilla-bourbon flavored cigars. Gotta love chicks that aren't afraid to smoke cigars with me!

Julie uses olives to demonstrate what happens when she puts on her Wonderbra

We were laughing and having such a good time that a couple of oddballs at the table next to us began to try very hard to invade my harem and join our buffoonery. I just watched in amusement as the dude with the weirdest-shaped head on the planet kept getting shot down by the women. But God bless him, he tried.

At some point, and I don't know how we got there, the conversation turned to the latest activity gaining popularity amongst the young folks, The Shocker. Of course, after that, it devolved into who could come up with the best rhyme, and I heard later on that the girls spent the entire weekend making up new slang. The one that gave me the biggest laugh, of course, was Two in the cooter, one in the pooter... But I digress.

We sat in there for laughing about four hours, but once the basketball game started it got too loud to carry on normal conversation, so we divied up the $200 bar bill and headed for the casino. We played a little bit of craps for a few minutes, but couldn't get anything going, so we sat at a Pai Gow table for an hour. I managed to make about $35 and I created a monster with Kayla--she's now hooked on the game. I don't think she won much money, but she sure had a good time.

After that, it was getting late so we fetched the Sled from the valet and I dropped the ladies off outside the Wynn, with tentative plans to meet up later that night if I could get out of work. Turns out that one of the gals had clients in town that insisted on taking them out, so we didn't get to go out again. It worked out better, because we were so busy that I couldn't get out of work anyways, but I heard the next day that they didn't have much fun but couldn't break away. So we made plans to do it all over again later on this summer when they come back again.

I was bummed about not being able to get away, but my outlook improved when Stephanie showed up at that casino around 3am, seeing if I wanted to go out after work. She hung out at my dice table until we closed it, and before I knew it, we were back at Chilly's having drinks, shooting pool, and having a good time. Some more of my friends showed up, so we had a very enjoyable couple of hours. It turns out that between her school and work schedule, we can't hang out together unless it's at 4am on a Sunday morning, at least for the next six months. She got a new job at Caesars, and works at Pure half the time, and in the Pussycat Doll's lounge the rest of the time. It looks like I'm gonna have to get down there one of these nights and catch the show.

On Sunday, all I did was sleep the entire day, catching up on my lack of it from the weekend's activities. Of course I had to go back to work that night, and again, being short of dealers, we were swamped.

I managed to get about four hours in the sack after that before heading back to poker school, and it was quite a productive day. I was starting to get a little frustrated because I hadn't gotten any real 'instruction' for a couple of days--all I was doing was sitting around a table while everyone took turns dealing a mock game. It was a waste, until I sat down in the box and announced loudly that I have no idea about the proper procedure for taking the rake because I haven't had any instruction for the past three days... After that, of course, the teachers were all about making sure I was getting my money's worth, else they would suffer the Wrath of Nick. I ended the day by taking my 'midterm' exam and doing well enough on it to move on.

As I see it, I just need to work on raking faster and accurately, tracking the pot, and being able to read the low hands quickly in Omaha (it's harder than you think). The rest of it is just practicing mechanics and learning to deal tournaments. So I should be finished in the next couple of weeks if I don't take any time off.

I had all the best intentions of going back to school yesterday, but like I said, I slept through the alarm the second time it went off. But today, I'm wide awake and ready for the day. I'm gonna go make a pot of coffee, cook some breakfast, read the paper, and head back to school.

It should be a good day.