Monday, July 31, 2006

Asleep at the Wheel

I had a new experience last night. I got into work to find that I'd been assigned to a brand-new game for the majority of my shift--Rapid Roulette.

For those of you unfamiliar with Rapid Roulette, it's exactly the same as regular roulette, except that instead of eight players sitting around a table reaching over each other placing chips all over a layout, there are twelve individual slot-like terminals configured around a central table. Each player has touch-screen layout on their terminal, and after buying in, they get electronic 'chips'. Then they just punch up the denomination level they'd like to play (anywhere from 25 cents up to $500) and start picking numbers. Just like on traditional roulette, players can do splits, rows, columns, and make outside bets--odd/even, black/red, etc.

If you're playing, you get 40 seconds to place all of your bets--which is plenty of time if there aren't sixteen hands jockeying for position around a crowded felt layout. Once the 'No More Bets' indication has been called, all screens are locked out until after the ball drops and winners are paid. And winners are paid instantly--no more clearing the felt, mucking the chips, calculating winners, and pushing huge stacks around the table.

Anyhow, it's got the excitement of a table game, without the intimidation factor that keeps so many people at the slot machines instead of the pit.

It takes two dealers to run the game--one to spin the ball and run the computer, and another one to fetch the buy-ins from players, explain how to use the terminal, and deliver the checks whenever a player cashes out.

It's a hugely successful game for the house, and the bosses are all in love with it. The number of spins per hour is way up over the traditional game, so the hold reflects it. The fact that 12 players can play at the same time versus just eight also makes it especially attractive to the bean counters. The players love it too--so much so that we were busy all night until three am, while the traditional roulette tables were mostly empty for several hours. We ended up closing the game only because the graveyard shift doesn't have enough dealers to run it along with all of the other games in the pit.

However, all of this fun comes at a price, and the biggest downside is that the dealer tokes on that game are horrendous. I think that on the first day it was open, the dealers dropped about $15 for the entire shift. Just atrocious--so the people in the nametags and shiny shirts aren't very fond of it. It takes two of us away from more lucrative games like blackjack, so it's a real drag on the toke pool.

Because it's more 'anonymous' like a slot machine, a lot of players don't feel the need to tip. We have a toke box prominently displayed next to the wheel, and every now and again we'll get a buck or two whenever somebody cashes out, but it's been rare. There is also a (too-) little icon on each players' screen that says 'TIPS' which they can press to give us some cash, but there is no way for them to bet a number for us like at a traditional roulette table. That was a big part of the fun--the dealers and players rooting for the same numbers to come up--and it can't be replicated on this game, so our tips have suffered significantly.


The bosses sent Mikey in there last night to give it a shot. Remember--I have never dealt roulette in my life, and have never had the desire to learn. And when I saw my name on the roadmap, lets just say that I was less than enthused to be heading to that table. The fact that I was already exhausted when I showed up for work didn't help much either.

But the game lends itself to good interaction with the players--if you have the personality--and so I jumped right in. In addition to helping new players master the nuances of betting on the touch screen, I was trying to crack jokes, pick an occasional winning number, and keep them entertained. It worked out a little bit--whenever I'd show somebody how to use the terminal, the last thing I did was to make sure that they were aware of the most important button on the screen, the one that said TIPS on it.

As tired as I was, I also figured out a good trick that got a few bucks in the toke box for us. Whenever a player cashes out, I stack up the payout next to the wheel for the Eye to see, then I have to carry it to them on a clear plastic clipboard and present the checks to them, almost like a waiter. Well, I'd do my best cocktail waitress impression, which always got a laugh, but when I'd stack up the checks on the clipboard, I'd leave the odd $1 and $5 checks in a separate stack, positioned further from the player and closer to me as I was presenting the payoff. Subliminally, it worked pretty well. More than a few players would just take the big checks and say "keep the rest". Score!

One guy colored up for $700.75. Instead of giving him all black and three shiny silver quarters, I stacked up six black, four green, and the silver. The boss was standing there at the time and gave me a look like WTF are you doing?, so I whispered Watch this as I walked over to the player's seat to give him his money. The player took then all of the black and three of the green, leaving me a $25.75 tip.

I turned my head to look at the boss and he had a big dumb grin on his face and was nodding his head as if to say, You're right, I should've known...

We've had the game almost two weeks now, and I don't think we've had a night where we've dropped over $50 in tokes for the entire shift. That's why the dealers hate it.

Last night, however, we dropped over $200 on that game. I'm afraid I've stepped in it though, because once the word gets out, I'll be stuck dealing that table for the rest of my days. But just imagine what kind of cash I could make if I were wide awake next time.


PS--I also found out that spinning that damn ball is a lot harder than it looks.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


Sometimes, I amaze myself with my own dumbassedness.

Last night, before I left for the evening, I got the tv stand put together, the audio problems with the surround sound ironed out, and managed to get the cable box and the television hooked back up and semi-wired. Today's project was to get the receiver connected to both of them , get it into the rack, and re-connect all of the video and audio leads correctly, plus hook up all six speakers and organize all of the wiring so that I had proper stereo surround sound coming out of the cable box, dvd player, and tuner. Not a really complicated project, but just tedious--I had to figure out which wire is which, which side is positive, then get down on the floor and stretch out behind the cabinet, shoving wiring through the small holes in the back of the entertainment unit, then crawling around to the other side, pulling them through, hooking them up, testing them, and so forth.

To make it easier, I had the 'mothership' unit of the receiver sitting on the floor in front of the brand-new-just-assembled entertainment center. Once I got all of the speaker wires, RCA cables, and S-video cable pulled through and hooked up, I picked the whole thing up off the floor, pushing the wires back with one hand while sliding the component onto it's new resting space on the shelf for the first time.

Unfortunately, I just assumed that the shelf was deep enough to accomodate the receiver.


With the back panel attached to the entertainment center, the receiver is about an inch-and-a-half too big, front-to-back, to close the glass doors on the front of the cabinet.


So after spending an hour getting everything hooked up properly, I found out that the farking dvd player/stereo system is too big to fit on the damn shelf. Of course, had I just left the back panel of the shelf unit with it's too-small openings unattached in the first place, I never would have had this problem. So, it was back on the floor for another hour, crawling around and sweating my ass off, undoing all of my previous work and then starting over from square one.

Finally, around 4:00 this afternoon, I got everything sorted out and installed properly. My tv/cable/dvd/stereo are all in sync. But I'm pretty sure that I broke my own personal record for swear words in one day while getting it done.

And next week, I get to do the same thing all over again, this time with the computer.


All For Naught

It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Well, after the last month of putting everything in my life on hold due to the upcoming shift bid at work, it turns out that nothing has changed. My seniority number was 136 out of the 152 full-time dealers, so I was mentally prepared to be bent over the examination table and violated by the quirky finger of fate. Thankfully, the experience this weekend was quick and painless--I ended up with exactly the same shift I wanted, which, coincidentally, is the exact same shift I already have. Swing shift, 8pm-4am, Tuesdays and Wednesdays off.

I was considering changing to having Sunday/Monday or Monday/Tuesday off, but then I remembered how everyone who has Mondays off are the first people scheduled for six days whenever it's a holiday weekend. Screw that. I've done enough six-day workweeks lately. None for me, thanks. So when it came time to sign my name on the dotted line, I stood pat. All that worry for nothing. But now I can get back to making plans and getting on with life. It's amazing how much control the casino has over me. And I don't think I like it, now that I think about it.

Anyways, I haven't posted an update on this site since Thursday, and there's a very good reason for it. I was sort of living on Gilligans Island for the past few days--I could recieve but couldn't transmit. My tiny ship of electronic communication gear was tossed for awhile, and I've been rigorously chasing down gremlins getting everything sorted out. I could read email and surf the web, but I couldn't type anything. At the same time, my surround sound system decided to stop broadcasting audio from the tv--the dvd player and tuner worked fine, but if I wanted to watch TV, it was like somebody was sitting on the mute button.

Since I had to unplug everything anyways while I assembled my new entertainment rack and relocated all of the components, I figured it was as good a time as any to try and fix it. Armed with a voltmeter, flashlight, wire strippers, and a can of compressed air, I had the problem diagnosed and fixed within five minutes of crawling behind the cabinet. Loose connections, that's all.

The computer issue was a little more troubling, but I finally narrowed the problem down to a bad keyboard. When I picked it up and turned it over to make sure the control wire wasn't loose, about a half a cup of water fell out and onto my lap. So not only was my computer inoperable, it looked like I'd pissed myself, too. Good times!

Suddenly I remembered the large glass of water I spilled all over my desk just before I was leaving the day before. When it happened, I immediately grabbed up all the expensive stuff like cellphone, digital camera, and USB cables as quickly as I could, and then swept off all the important papers before getting after the spill with a towel. I was running late, so as soon as the puddle was cleaned up, I tossed the towel in the laundry and headed out the door.

I forgot about it until I got home the next morning and my computer didn't work.

Anyhow, all of that drama led me to this morning. Once I got up and got dressed, I drove down to the local Fry's Electronics to pick up a new keyboard and do a little browsing around. I found a great new keyboard for twenty bucks--It's got a lot of built-in shortcuts and even a trackball-type of thingy, but the biggest selling point was the lack of four-plus years' worth of crud and detritus stuck between the keys. While there I also found the new computer desk I'll be buying, probably next week, along with some lustables like a 20-inch monitor, a new set of speakers, and various other items that I just can't get along without...

Speaking of Fry's, next time I go down there, I'm going to take my camera with me--they've got the front entrance of the store decorated like a huge slot machine, and the concrete car-bomb barriers out front are built to look like huge stacks of quarters. Pretty cool, and of course, Only In Vegas.

So that's the news. On the t-shirt front, I've already sold 16 of them, and got the first checks in the mail yesterday. If everyone is fairly quick about it, we might be able to have them inside of three weeks.

More later--right now I've got to put my room back together.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Very Important Final Announcement

Ok gang--

I've been working on these Hurricane Mikey shirts for almost a week now, and after all of the input about vendors, and indications of interest, along with personal preferences, I have finally managed to get a shirt design that 1) I like the most 2) comes in a variety of styles 3) is 100% cotton, preshrunk, and of good quality, and 4) I'm able to order in small batches at reasonable cost.

Here is the deal, and it is very important that you follow instructions if you would like to get a shirt.

You must email me at mikey at hurricane mikey dot com. On the subject line, be sure to say "HM Logo Shirt". (Even if you've already emailed me saying you'd like one, please do so again)

In the body of the email, please tell me:

Your screen name
Your full name
Full Shipping Address

Style of shirt requested
Number of shirts requested
Sizes of each shirt requested

Once I recieve that email from you, I will write you back within 48 hours with an address where to send a check or money order. At that point, the 'shopping window' will be open, and I'll give it 10 days or so to collect all the payments. Once that is done, I will either post a notice here on the site, or probably just sent everyone an email the day that I place the order. Once the order is placed, you should have your shirt within a week--they're able to process them the same day and ship them out DHL now that they have my design on file.

All other previous emails and posts indicating interest I've received are null and void--I'm only using them to gauge how many shirts I'm likely to need. If you would like to purchase one, you must send me an email with those details.

Now for the nitty gritty fine print.

There are three styles available:

T-shirt (white)
Baseball Jersey (white w/black sleeves)
Ladies Tank top (white)

They are all 100% cotton, and they are the Hanes Beefy T's--good quality stuff.

  • T-shirts are available in adult sizes Small thru 5XL
  • Jerseys are available in adult sizes Small thru 3XL
  • Ladies tanks are available in sizes Small thru 2XL



S-XL $17
2XL $21
3XL $22
4XL $23
5XL $24


S-XL $23
2XL $26
3XL $27

Ladies Tanks:

S-XL $19
2XL $23

I estimate shipping costs to be $3 per shirt--this covers my expenses in supplies and postage related to sending the individual shirts out. I will be able to send a very limited number of shirts directly from the factory, but the cost savings from that has been factored into the price of the total order.

When all is said and done, I won't be making any money off of these-- I've tried to keep costs as low as possible, and I may clear five or ten bucks total. I wish the prices were lower, but with all of the requirements and compromises necessary, it's the best I can come up with. I'm not trying to rip anyone off, or even make a buck, I'm just trying to provide a little bit of fashion buffoonery.

Also, it's very important--the ladies tank tops run pretty small. I got the ones for Angy and Cyndy and they are tiny--they are definitely gonna be showing off the girls! They're 'fitted' and run almost two sizes small, I'm told. So if you normally wear a medium, go with the L or even XL.

The t-shirts actually seem to run big. I bought myself a 5X and it seems about a half size bigger than normal, so your normal shirt size will be generously cut.

That's about all that I can think of--if you have any questions, go ahead and post them in the comment section and I'll get to them right away.


And On The Sixth Day...

I'm sure you all are quite tired of me bitching about having to work six days every week, so I'll shut up about it. But I had my quarterly review this past Monday, and after they gave me a pat on the head, I asked 'em how much longer I have to keep doing this. I was told probably until the middle of August, so I'm guessing at least two or three more weeks until they get all the newbies they hired processed and scheduled. By that time, of course, I'll be searching for that day job dealing poker, so my free time is going to become damn near extinct in the near future.

Because of that, I'm thinking of taking a quick getaway weekend to Phoenix. It'll be nice to see Ed, Eddie, and George & Marlisha outside of Vegas for once. Just a nice steak dinner somewhere or even a bbq in the backyard would be a welcome diversion from life as I know it. I'd also like to get the truck out onto the freeway for real and stretch her legs to find out what kind of mileage I can get. The trek up to Mt. Charleston was only about a half hour drive beyond the Spaghetti Bowl, so it doesn't really count as a road trip.

But the point is, I'd really like to have a brief 'vacation' before I start working like a robot. I think that the next time I'll be able to take a few days away from work will be next March for the Madness. And that's a long time away.

Don't get me started with the holidays, either...

Anyhow. As good as yesterday was, it got even better--In the mail, I got my custom made license plate frame that said Hurricane Mikey's Beach Bar - Casino - Brothel which was actually the original inspiration for the t-shirts. I'm still waiting on the BFOONRY vanity plates, they should be here soon and I'll be sure to post pics of the truck once it gets completely mikeyfied.

Once I got to work last night, I ran into the gal from the personal ads again. After I arrived and signed in and checked the roadmap, I saw her sitting at the Crazy 4 Poker game, so I went over to say hello and tell her where to find me. She joined me an hour later while I was dealing the WPT game, but she was chasing the jackpots and her bankroll got worn down waiting for something big to hit that just never quite came. After I left that game, she joined me on the Pai Gow table where she did a little better, but once I left there, it was after midnite and she scooted out. She did, however, tell me that after we split up last Wednesday night, she stopped to get gas on her way home. Still feeling like it was her lucky night (well, it was--she spent two hours of it with me!), she put twenty bucks into the video poker machine while her gas was pumping. She then hit four of a kind with a kicker for another $800 win! Very cool. I was happy for her. (Oh yeah, for those of you that never venture off the Strip, every gas station and convenience store in town has video poker machines).

Tonight, the luck just wasn't with her--I don't know what she left with, but I know she had a couple of ATM receipts in her wallet. But I'm sure my chances would improve if I could just deal her that elusive Royal Flush at the Pai Gow table. Of course, I've never been able to deal one to her, but the chain-smoking Chinese guy with bad teeth who never washes his hands after he uses the can hits one every week.

Of course, he loves me.

Life just isn't fair sometimes.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Speaking of Improvements...

... this day just keeps getting better and better.

First of all, I got back in touch with an old friend from college who I hadn't heard from in quite some time. He did a lot for me back when times were tough and I haven't forgotten about it. But I was afraid that I'd lost touch for good. So a little happy dance is in order.

Also, after discovering that my ice cream got burgled last night, I left a U.N. Resolution-style Strongly Worded Admonition taped to the fridge, complete with profanity and exclamation points. Just a few minutes ago I wandered back out there to fetch a bottle of Gatorade, and the note was gone and the ice cream was replaced.

Hell yeah. So I've currently got one hand on the keyboard and the other one trying to dig out a spoonful of Vanilla Heath Bar Crunch without knocking over the container.

Oh, and as a bonus--the DHL man left me a present this morning. I got my first shipment of the original Hurricane Mikey t-shirt, along with Angy & Cyndy's tank-tops. And it looks cool as hell. I can't wait to wear it--and this was the original design that I didn't like as much. The shirts that everyone else are getting look even better!

(BTW, Hoya, is it 'everyone else is getting' or 'everyone else are getting'? I have no idea)

Anyhow, for having to work on my day off, it's shaping up to be a pretty good day. And oh by the way, did I mention that NFL training camps opened this week? That means that football is just around the corner.

If I were a puppy, the carpet would be wet right about now...


Home Improvement

Although the house I'm living in is fairly large, my actual living space within it is rather small--just a 12x12 bedroom filled with basically everything I own, except for a few things out in the storage closet. I don't hang out very much in either of the living rooms or dining room--my tv, stereo, and computer are all here in the bedroom, and whenever I cook I usually bring my food back to my room and sit at my desk to eat.

Unfortunately, because I spend all of my 'home' time in my bedroom, it's become cluttered with more books and magazines than I have shelf space for, more clothes than will properly fit in the dresser, and a dozen or two varieties of rum that I'm not going to take a chance on storing out amongst the 'general population' (Hell, if they'll steal ice cream, I'm sure they'll steal booze).

Anyhow, because I have so much stuff in my room, I've busted out the tape measure and started figuring out ways to unclutter my space. The first thing I did was buy a new tv stand/not-quite-entertainment center that will hold the tv, dvd, reciever, and cable box, thus freeing up the top of the dresser for stuff like, oh, I don't know, all those bottles of booze and maybe my cigar humidor.

The tv stand is still riding around in the back seat of my truck, and as soon as I get all of the laundry folded and put away, plus find that extra coaxial cable, I'll put it together and move all of the electronics. Of course, before I do that, I have to go down to Home Depot and get some bricks or cinder blocks or something to raise the height of it so that the remote controls are still effective if I'm sitting on the bed watching tv--otherwise I have to raise my hand up over my head and aim downward every time I want to change channels or turn up the volume.

But the cinder block idea appeals to me in that old college-dorm type of way. Lifting up the tv stand not only frees up space to keep a couple of pairs of shoes underneath, but it reminds me of those glory days when all that was needed to get a little good lovin' was a spritz of Polo cologne, a Duran Duran cd, and a four-pack of Bartles & Jaymes.

The next thing on the agenda is to get rid of this old desk I'm using. It's small, it's wobbly, and it's the wrong height to be a computer workstation. It goes to Goodwill and I'm replacing it with a corner unit that offers about twice as much workspace opens up a lot more floorspace for important things like dirty socks and t-shirts. Of course, I'm holding off on that purchase for a few weeks because I don't want to move all this computer gear--it's old and obsolete and beyond surfing the web and doing a bit of writing, it's not good for much at all. I can't use any new software with it and I can no longer download music anymore, either--current technology has surpassed the humble capabilities of this poorly-designed Windows Me operating system. So I'm going to wait until about a week before I can afford a new Dell system with all the bells and whistles before I spring for the new desk.

At that point I'll do a little data transfer and then take this old Compaq system out in the back yard and go Office Space on it.

Of course, this is all a moot point if people keep stealing my stuff. If that's the case, then I'll just find a new, more spacious place to live--hopefully somewhere more modern with an ambiant indoor temperature of less than 83 degrees during the summer months.

But the thought of moving all this shiat again appeals to me almost as much as having dental work done with Paul McCartney tunes playing in the background...


Who Moved My Cheese?

Actually, the question is--Who stole my damn Ben & Jerry's?

I haven't had any ice cream in over two months, and since it's been so frickin hot and humid around here lately, I decided to treat myself the other night when I went grocery shopping. So I picked up two pints of The Good Stuff. One pint of Marsha Marsha Marshamallow (which I'd never had before) and one pint of Vanilla Heath Bar Crunch (My favorite flavor from them Vermont hippies).

Well, last night as I sat down at the keyboard to pound out the previous entries, I remembered my ice cream sitting in the freezer. So I walked out to the kitchen to fetch it.

I opened the freezer door to discover that I'd been burgled. Again. Except this wasn't merely a faceplate from a tempermental car stereo. This was high-quality premium ice cream that I'd actually gotten on sale.

Some people have no social graces. And once I find out who did it, I'm gonna kick 'em right in the Chubby Hubby.


The Tipping Point

Call it a fork in the road, destiny, or just the random hand of fate. But we've all had that moment of clarity that alters your reality--maybe not forever, but some part of your future that is affected by random moments in time that can only be discovered upon reflection and introspection.

When I was young, I wanted to be a musician. I really liked keyboards, and even dabbled a bit with piano lessons. Unfortunately, that whole bass clef thing was a total mystery to me, kind of like penny video slots, so as a typical adolescent, I lost interest completely and never considered sitting down at a piano ever again.

But I'll never forget that one particular day in 1986. I was working in the Domestics department at Macy's, selling sheets, towels, and pillows to all of the soccer milfs who had too much money and time on their hands. (The whole concept of 'regular customers' at a department store remains foreign to me to this day, but they came every week...)

Anyhow, whenever one of the other departments was shorthanded, the store manager would come around looking for volunteers to help out. Most people were fiercely protective of their 'home turf' and refused to leave their department unless forced to, but for a 19-year old guy bored with folding towels all day, the chance to go down to the Juniors department and sell tank tops and miniskirts to the young talent was an opportunity not to be missed. Not that I didn't like working with the older ladies in Domestics, but I was certain to have a lot more fun downstairs with the college girls in Juniors.

Of course I didn't have the first clue about young-womens' fashion, except that I liked the concept of the front-closure bra, so they just stuck me behind the cashier's stand ensuring that I couldn't get into too much trouble.

It was a fun day, made all that much better because they had tv's hung from the ceiling in random spots around the entire department playing the latest videos. Upstairs, I had to listen to Muzak all day. As you might imagine, getting paid five bucks an hour for the privilege of being surrounded by young girls and cool music appealed to me greatly.

Anyhow, it was a weekday, so there were several lulls in the work load. I was standing around watching the tv when I heard it for the first time.

Old timers remember where they were when Kennedy was assassinated, or during the first Apollo mission to the moon.

I remember being in the Junior's Department at Macy's Gwinnett Place when I first heard The Cult play Rain. That was the one that did it for me. That opening guitar riff hit me upside the head like an errant frisbee in the Cosmic dog park.


I had never heard anything so cool in my entire life. I was mesmerized. Hypnotized. Awestruck. That was the moment when I decided that I was going to learn to play guitar. I had to learn how to play that song, just like that band, and I had to do it as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, circumstances intervened. My dad insisted that I go to college or do something else productive, as long as it entailed moving out of his basement at some point. So I put the guitar on hold.

I went off to college, found adventure in Alaska, bought a motorcycle, and learned to fly. But in 1992 I found myself in Phoenix, finally working for a living, and I managed to buy that first guitar. It was an acoustic though, as it was all I could afford at the time. Of course I left my first lesson with the rudimentary basics of Stairway to Heaven tabbed out in a notebook, and few chords and scales to practice.

I got a little better, practiced a little more and a few years later I had an electric guitar and a small amplifier. Black Dog, Smoke on the Water, and Rock You Like a Hurricane were next on the agenda, but one day I took that Cult cd with me to my weekly lesson. The time had come to finally learn the song that inspired me to pick up a guitar.

Eleven years after I heard it for the first time, I stood on a makeshift stage in Mesa Arizona with the rest of my band and played Rain on my wine-colored Les Paul for at least two dozen screaming fans who happened to be within earshot during the Halloween block party. It was one of my proudest moments. To me, we were the Beatles on Ed Sullivan that night.

There's something about playing in front of a crowd, no matter how small, that always gave me a charge.

After that, I spent a lot of money and time on guitars and guitar-related equipment during the late nineties, and had just enough talent to be able to perform here and there for a couple of years. Unfortunately, I realized early on that I would never be a great musician. Like Major Winchester from MASH confessing to the concert pianist soldier with the injured hand, I could play the notes, but I could never make music. I could learn to play just about any song, but it took hours and hours of practice and repetition to get each one to a level where I felt confident enough to try it. Most working bands need about 50 or more songs in their playlist to do four sets a night, and I realized it would take me a couple of years to build that kind of library.

There was no way I was going to make a living as a musician. Hell, it was going to be tough to earn beer money with my lack of talent. So I slowly drifted away from it. Financial circumstances forced me to sell all of my equipment several years ago, and since then I've never had the burning desire to get the band back together and spend my weekends playing classic rock standards in biker bars.

But every now and then, I get that twinge. I hear a song that makes me wish I were up onstage again. Sometimes I hear something that makes me wish I were a scrawny spandex-wearing rocker with big hair and a tour bus. Stevie Ray Vaughn's version of Little Wing does it to me. Eric Johnson's Cliffs of Dover does the same. Hearing just about anything from Guns N Roses' Appetite for Destruction album makes me wish I were a guitar god, also.

Since I own copies of all of that music, I can hear them whenever I want. Knowing I could never be that good, the desire to be a musician under the spotlight has been tempered somewhat. But this past weekend I caught something on YouTube that blew me away.

For those of you who don't particularly like guitar music, you may not appreciate it. But somebody with infinitely more talent than me took Pachelbel's Canon in D and arranged it for electric guitar.

Wow. It just goes to show that great music is great music, method of delivery does not matter.

There I was, sitting at my desk, mesmerized, hypnotized, and awestruck once again. I must've watched it a dozen times this past weekend, and then closed my eyes and listened to it a dozen times more.

It made me wonder--How cool would it be to be the best at something? Anything? Most of us will never know. Thankfully those that are, are kind enough to share their talents with the rest of us wannabees. But some kid out there in cyberspace is going to see that video and decide right there on the spot that he wants to play guitar, too.

And then the circle will be complete.


Catching Up

It's been another long day in the middle of a string of very long days. Work was a lot of fun on Monday night, although I was starting to drag after midnight. One of my favorite players was there, and we had a few laughs and she made a little money. She also introduced me to her 21-year old daughter, who although was drop-dead gorgeous, the introduction made me question myself as to when was the exact point where I stopped hitting on 21-year old girls and started paying more attention to their moms. I have no idea, but it seems that I've crossed that particular rubicon.

An unsettling realization, to be sure, but time marches on.

Anyhow, I ended my evening on the double-deck blackjack table, which was unfortunate for anyone who had the bad sense to sit down with me. I'd been pretty much mowing everyone down all night long, but this table was the stockholder's dream. Once I tapped out the previous dealer, it took me all of about two minutes to completely wipe out all three players. The didn't win a single hand.

As soon as they left, another guy stumbled over from the roulette table, flush with a pocketful of cash. He asked me why I was standing there at a dead game, and I told him that honestly I'd been killing everyone.

He said that he could turn it around.

Five minutes and a thousand dollars later he was cursing the fact that he ever left the roulette table.

Then came the magic words from the shift boss-- Bring the lid up!

I did, and then spent a couple of minutes taking care of the closing-the-table business. Once that chore was finished, I was offered an hour of Early Out time, so I took it. Once I signed out and such, I found my previously-mentioned favorite player, still going strong on another blackjack table, and told her to wait for me to change clothes and then we'd go have a beer.

I came back out a few minutes later, but she was winning and didn't want to leave the table, so she told me to go buy her daughter a beer. No problemo! So we sat and had a drink while pissing away ten bucks on the video keno machine. I swear I have no idea how to play that game, and the ten bucks was gone before we even got our drinks.

Her mom showed up a few minutes later, and we just chilled, having drinks and playing a little video poker. A couple of my buddies were planning on going to Chilly Palmer's after work, so the whole entourage moved over there after a round or two. There was more of the same rum-induced low-grade buffoonery, sprinkled with story-telling and a little video poker that carried on until almost 5 am. By that time we decided that we should probably call it a night, so we all headed home, racing the heat of the approaching daylight.

Exhausted, I went straight to bed. I got about five hours of sleep, but woke up in time to remind myself that I needed to get up and go back to school instead of being a sloth all day and sitting on my ass surfing the internet.

I've now come to the realization that I've probably learned all I'm going to learn at poker dealing school. I know the rules, my technique is fairly good, and aside from any hugely complicated OMG-call-the-floorperson problems, I'm sure I can handle just about any situation that arises in a poker game. I think I just need to brush up on the obscure rules and do a little more practicing, that's all. Otherwise, the only thing I'm getting out of attending class is a little networking--who's looking for dealers, who has tournaments coming up, who to talk to for auditions, stuff like that.

My patience with some of the other students is starting to wear pretty thin, so I'll be glad to leave the nest pretty soon. The problem is that once anyone has attended a week of classes, they all think that they're an instructor also, and take it upon themselves to try and trip up other students at every opportunity.

For example, there's no need to declare themselves 'all in' on every hand, just so they can give the dealer in the box 'practice' doing side pots. Seriously--I've played poker for about five years now, and I think I've been involved in two hands that entire time that had three or more side pots (aside from tournament play). It just doesn't happen that much. Creating that situation on every hand in class is not productive, and unlike those schlubs who don't have jobs, my time is more valuable to me, so it's especially exasperating to have to sit through that nonsense all day long.

I can also tell that there are a handful of people there who will never get a job dealing poker in a live casino. Not everyone can do this job, as much as they'd like to believe otherwise. So a lot of these clowns just show up every day to play poker without having to actually spend any money. They sit in the mock games, calling all the way down on every hand, and as soon as their chips are gone, they just get more out of the rack and keep going. I truly believe that a few of them are in class only because they just don't have anywhere else to go.

Of course Nick, the owner of the school, will tell you that anyone can deal in a casino--but he's got classes to sell. Not only is that assumption completely false, but it's also a slight insult to those of us who actually deal for a living. Bad dealers just cost the rest of us money and some people just aren't cut out for this profession.

I've also noticed that one of the instructors is just plain rude to some of the other students, under the guise of 'playing the jackass' at the table. Again, there's no need for that in class, but most especially from the teacher. In a previous life, I used to teach a very complicated subject to nervous students, so I know which methods work and which ones don't, and unfortunately, I see too much of the latter every day.

Anyhow, the point is, I guess I'm just getting to the end of the road--it was just like when I was learning dice. I'd finally reached the summit of competency and was bored in class, so that's when I just stopped going and found a job. The pattern looks to be repeating itself, so I think I'm going to spend my free time over the course of the next week or so starting on the hunt for a part-time poker job.

In the meantime, my full-time job is keeping me very busy, and my only day off this week is winding down to it's conclusion...


A Hypothetical Situation

Let's say that you're a member of an online community, perhaps a group of people who enjoy coming to Vegas and sharing information about all that it has to offer. Let's also say that you don't contribute much, but do spend a bit of time browsing the forums. Let's also say that since reading the some of those forums, you found mild entertainment in my various postings which eventually led you to this website.

We could also say that you decided to come out to Vegas for a visit, and while planning said visit, you sent me an email asking about my work schedule so that you could come out, say hi, and maybe play at my table. Being the gregarious sort that I am, of course I would agree to give you those details and invite you to come on by.

Since this is a hypothetical situation, let's say that you stopped by my casino, found my table, and bought in for a hundred bucks. Let's also say that I provided decent service, pleasant conversation, an occasional joke, and oh by the way, you tripled up your original buy-in to something north of $300 in less than an hour.

We can agree that all of those things would happen in our hypothetical world.

So let's also say that if--hypothetically--you are going to be a fucking stiff, even when you see other players around you setting the example, please don't waste my time with making arrangements to come see me. I don't want to know you. Seriously, if you're going to be that much of a flea, I'd prefer you remain anonymous, like the rest of your ilk.

Because if you were such a dirtbag, you might have a lot of gambling karma coming your way, and none of it good, I'm afraid. Hypothetically, of course.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

In The Pipeline

Hey folks, sorry for the dearth of postings these past couple of days, I've been pretty busy.

I'm off to school for the rest of the afternoon, but once I get home tonight I should be able to spend some quality time at the keyboard and dash off a flurry of literary genius for your reading enjoyment.

You may not get much work done on Wednesday morning.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Six the Hard Way

Even though it's always an eight-hour day in the casino, in reality, we only work six. Taking a twenty minute break after every hour spent dealing, well, you can do the math. Sometimes it's an easy night, and sometimes--especially on weekends--it can be a real drag.

Last night was one of those nights that seemed to be never-ending. I couldn't wait to get out, and gave an audible Thank You Jeebus when I got tapped out at 3:40 instead of 4:00 am.

As much of a drag as it was, I set a new personal record last night. Just call me a Mikey-of-all-trades, because I dealt six different games before going home. Yep, six. Most dealers usually spend their entire shift dealing the same game--you start on dice or blackjack, you deal dice or blackjack all night. But since I've got mad casino skillz in every game except for baccarat and roulette, they use me to plug a lot of holes, especially late at night once the dealers who signed up for Early Out start getting sent home.

Last night, in order, I was found on the following tables.

Pai Gow
World Poker Tour Hold Em
Bonus Hold Em
Let It Ride

Damn near wore my ass out. When they took me off of the dice game, I thought they were going to close the table and offer to send me home, but I ended the evening on a double-deck $15 blackjack game. I was hoping for a mindless shoe game, but luckily there were only two players at the table, so it was an easy 40 minutes.

Before I left, the floor supervisor came by to tell me to make sure I checked my schedule before I left--there were some last minute revisions.

I did, and found out that I'll be working six frickin days again next week.

Hopefully, when we get that new shift bid done on Saturday, it will address the shortage of mid-week dealers and I can go back to having two days off every week. I guess this means that my days off are probably going to change.


Saturday, July 22, 2006

New Logo Redux

Not long after I posted the picture of my new logo yesterday, I decided that I just didn't like it as much as I originally thought. Actually, the picture is fine, but I didn't like the look of having the text on the inside of the orange/red field.

Also, I designed the original shirts using I love their interface, and won't hesitate to use them again. However, unless I go to the trouble of creating a public gallery and jumping through all of their hoops, I'm unable to share the 'finished product' over the web or through email. Everything is locked down and proprietary, and even drawing upon all of my mild hacking skills, I've been unable to save a copy of my design outside of their website. As rigid as they are about making sure somebody doesn't use their software, copy the product, and then buy from a different vendor, they were very flexible in letting me buy small quantities in a variety of different styles, so I bought a regular man-sized t-shirt for me, and ordered a couple of skinny-gal tanktops for Angy and Cyndy when they arrive in a couple of weeks.

Unfortunately, their user-friendly interface and purchasing flexibility comes with a price--the shirts were a little on the expensive side.

So, I kept shopping, and found a couple of other creative outlets, and this morning I re-designed the shirt with a different font and the text outside of the logo, which I've found that I like it much better. But there is a compromise here, too. The end product, although of good quality, cannot be ordered one-off, and I can't mix different styles. I have to go with all t-shirts, or all jerseys, or all tank tops, etc.--no mixing and matching.

Since I can't order one-off like I did on the first try, these shirts are a bit easier on the wallet. Of course, they take a little longer to do them, and in order to make them affordable, I need to order a minimum of 22 shirts. Of course, I doubt that I have enough interested readers that would want a t-shirt, so I'll buy a few for family and friends as gifts. But if anyone else out there wants one, shoot me an email and let me know what size you'd want--they go all the way up to 4XL. Sometime in the next month or so, I'll go ahead and order case of them.

Front view:

The back:

They should end up running around $15 a shirt, plus shipping. They'll be shipped to me free of charge, but I'll have to turn around and spend an hour or so at the mailbox store packaging and shipping, but that should only add a couple of bucks to the overall cost. I'm estimating about $18 per shirt, and that's with me not really doing it for the money, but for the love.

Like I said, once I get enough interest, I'll order the first batch. As soon as they arrive, I'll post an announcement here on the blog, and I'll contact everyone with details on where to send the money. Pay Pal is out of the question, however--they can kiss my big hairy ass. We'll do it the old-fashioned way.


Friday, July 21, 2006

My New Logo

Thanks to the mad PhotoShop skillz of Angy, my new logo has been created. I even ordered myself a custom t-shirt this morning, plus a tank top for Angy when she gets here in a couple of weeks.

For your approval, this image is on the front of the t-shirt: (clicky for the full size, less blurry version)

On the back, in the same text--but with a larger font--it says Why Is All The Rum Gone?

Now that I've made the design, I can order t-shirts in small batches. Of course, if you want one for yourself, just let me know and I'll give you all the details. But they ain't as cheap as I'd like, however, so I may end up going with cafe press if I get enough interest. Not only did I put it on t-shirts, I've also got it on coffee mugs and such, and can even get official USPS Postage Stamps made with this logo. Pretty cool, huh?

The next thing on the agenda is custom cigar bands.


Drop The Money

Well, it's Friday, and the good news is that it's payday again. I picked up my check stub at the counter of the uniform room last night around 1:00 in the morning, just to get an early peek at how much was hitting the account. I was surprised to find yet another record-breaking 'largest check ever' since I've been working there. Although, I'm afraid this one won't be topped for awhile--it's almost double what I was bringing in back in the heady days of the late 90's when my nieces referred to me as their 'rich uncle'. Of course, there are always bills to pay, but I'm still able to put a couple hundred away in savings and have a little walkin' around money in my pocket, too.

Not only am I blessed with a decent job that is financially rewarding, I actually enjoy going to work for the most part. I actually like what I do. And I'm pretty good at it, too. Yep, I'd have to say that my brokerage days are pretty much over--I really can't see myself going back to that world. So it's goodbye NASD registrations, goodbye Series 7, 9, 10, and 63 licenses. The series 24 study guide goes in the recycle bin, too. No more Continuing Education bullshiat, no more Sarbanes-Oxley nonsense, and no more Compliance Department overseeing every little detail of my financial life. No more esplainin' what a stop order is a dozen times a day, no more "disclosing" damn near every word I say, and no more of every single one of my phone conversations being recorded. (Except by them dudes in the black helicopters, but we won't get into that right now...)

Of course, it all comes with a price, and that price seems to be having no more weekends or holidays off, having no such thing as a salary, and having a dependence on a perpetually robust economy.

Funny how just the thought of that decision caused so many sleepless nights in the past. It might have been tough to consider back then, but now--like holding three-of-a-kind at the Let It Ride table--it's a no-brainer.

I'm happy where I'm at and with what I'm doing. Life is good.

The bills are paid, I got it made in the shade
and all I need
is a beautiful girl, oh yeah...


Remember how the other day I mentioned that if I could have one toke box for myself, I'd take the one from the 3-Card Poker table every time?

Let me tell you about last night. My fourth hour of the night was on that 3-Card Poker table, and it was full. I had a couple on one end playing green, each one putting me up for $5 every hand. They were doing pretty well, and with hitting the odd flush or straight, I was dropping about $10 to $20 in tokes after every hand. Very nice, and it was filling the box up at a steady clip.

At the other end of the table, I had one of my regular players who is stone-cold crazy. She bets anywhere from $25 to table limit on the Pairs Plus bet on every hand. Some nights she gets chewed up for several hundred dollars, never catching any cards. But some nights she catches lightning in a bottle.

Tonight was one of those nights. She had a moderate stack of green and black checks in front of her, about a thousand bucks worth. At first, I thought she was winning, but she kept reminding me that she was down about $700 for the night. One one hand, she put $60 on the P.P. bet, with five bucks on the side for me.

Her favorite dealer--that would be me--then dealt her the Queen-King-Ace of Clubs...

At 40-1 odds, that's $2400. Oh hell yeah. But we can't forget the dealer bet. My five bucks earned $200, so it was "$205 and down". After calling the Eye and paying her off, she set herself up again with $75 on the P.P. bet, with $35 for Mikey on the side.

Next hand, I followed it up with an unsuited 9-10-Jack. At 6-1 odds, she got $450, but I got $210, so it was "$245 and down". Yep, in less than three minutes, I dropped $450 in the toke box. With everything else I did, I'd say I easily added $700 or more for the dealers during the hour I was at that table. Imagine a box about the size of your standard cigar box, filled to the brim with red and green casino chips. That's what the toke box looked like when I left. (We don't drop the black $100 chips--big payoffs are broken down to all green). Word around the campfire was that a couple of our other big players were in the house, and winning, so hopefully we made good money last night.

Since I'm one of the lucky gotta-work-six-days crowd, the assistant floor manager was kind enough to come by my table at 3 am and tell me that instead of getting tapped out at 3:40 and doing tokes before going home, I'd get tapped out at 3:20 and I'd take a half hour of Early Out. I still get my full 8-hour share of tips, but the casino only pays me for 7.5 hours. No problemo. At only seven bucks an hour, I'll that that half hour every night! Just so you know, every dealer in the joint would run over their dog to get that half hour--it's a favorite 'perk'. It's always worth three and a half bucks to get the hell out early at the tail-end of the shift.

I also found out when I do my official shift bid--next Saturday at 3:48 in the afternoon. Yep, they have it down to the minute--and everyone gets three minutes to make their choice. But since my seniority number is 136 out of 155, I'm guessing that the pickin's may be awful slim by the time I get there. I'm sure I'll still be on Swing Shift, but who knows what days off I'm going to end up with.

As long as it's not the same ones as the handful of Dorks I Try To Avoid, just about anything is fine with me.


Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Profitable Evening

Yep, I'm still bitching about the fact that I had to go into work last night on what would normally be my night off. Monday was super-slow, and our tokes reflected that. And I figured that last night would be probably be more of the same, too. Not wanting to be there, the first thing I did when I arrived at the casino was sign my name on the Early Out list. Somebody else beat me to it, but I figured I'd be out as soon as they closed two tables.

But I knew it was going to be a great night at work when I got to my first Pai Gow table at 8 pm and the gal from the personal ad was sitting at first base. And very happy to see me, I might add. She told me that it was her only night this week away from her kids, so she wanted to come down and do some gambling. We were having a great time at the table, and she was actually winning a few hands and hitting several Fortune bonuses. I also told her my Very Most Important Tip In The World To Do If You're Sitting At A $10 Table But Betting $5 On The Fortune Bonus That Nobody Ever Listens To. Well, she listened, took advantage of it, and was soon stacking chips in front of her at a fairly decent clip.

I was her new hero.

Anyhow, the time at that table passed much too quickly, and soon I was off to 3-Card Poker. There weren't many players there, but one guy I felt bad for--he tried tipping by putting a bet up for me on his Pairs Plus bet, but every time he did that, I wiped him out. It was ugly. Finally, after grinding almost $200 out of him, he'd had enough. So he took his last $50 worth of red checks and said he was playing blind. $15 each on the Pairs Plus, the Ante, and the Play spot, with $5 for me on the Pairs Plus, too.

I dealt the cards, tucking his under the furthest stack of checks. I turned my cards over, showing only a Jack high hand. The player breathed a large sigh of relief and said "Oh hell yeah--Now I can play one more time!"

I slow-rolled his cards for everyone at the table to see, and he jumped straight up out of his chair and yelled in excitement when he saw the three eights I dealt him. At 30-1 odds, he got $450, and I dropped $155 in the toke box. (Plus he got an additional $75 on his Ante bet!)

I'm pretty sure I was his hero after that.

Once my hour on that table ended, I took a quick twenty-minute break before heading over to the World Poker Tour game. That one was going pretty well, with three of my regular players waging a back-and-forth battle against me, picking up an odd jackpot or two. After about a half hour or so, the gal from the personal ad (Oh hell, lets just call her... Jan) joined me again, this time sporting a sizeable stack of green checks to go with all of her red ones. She told me that after winning a bit more at Pai Gow, she hopped over to the Crazy 4 Poker table and had gotten two 3-of-a-kinds back-to-back on a hit-and-run mission. Good for her--I could easily tell just by glancing at her pile of checks that she had at least $500 on her--not bad for a hundred-dollar buy-in.

Well, her luck was still hot, and I dealt her an endless string of flushes and full houses, and by the time I left, she was up almost another $300.

Yep, she was loving me now.

I told her I'd be going back to Pai Gow after my break, and she agreed to join me then.

Once I got back, she came over and grabbed a seat before I dealt my first hand. She said that since it was almost midnight by that time, that she should probably be going soon. I casually mentioned that since it was my night off, and I just saw them closing a table, I should be getting out pretty soon too.

Just as I was in the middle of dealing my first hand, I felt that familiar tap on my shoulder, so I turned to see my replacement dealer standing there and the shift manager giving me a knowing nod.

Outtie Five Thousand, G!

While paying off all of the winning hands, I looked over at "Jan", who was stacking her checks to color up, and asked her to wait for me for a minute so I could go clock out and change my shirt.

Amazingly, she agreed.

I took off, signed out, clocked out, and tossed my work shirt down the laundry chute, and made sure that my Hawaiian shirt was buttoned correctly before heading back out to the casino. She was coloring up to the tune of almost $900, so I told her I'd walk her to the cage.

Anyhow--it was now or never--so as we walked from the table to the cage, I said that I had to tell her something that I couldn't talk about on the table. She seemed intrigued so I told her the whole story about how her personal ad keeps landing in my inbox, telling me that she's my 'perfect match'. (Coincidentally, it showed up again today).

She got a laugh out of that, and since she figured I wasn't a weirdo or stalker, she gave me the low-down on her personal life. She told me that she's had an ad up for several months but has only gotten a couple of responses, and they weren't actually quality ones at that. She also told me she hasn't been dating in a very long time, and wasn't really planning on it either, but that it didn't hurt to keep a trolling line in the water.

Fair enough, I agreed.

We kept talking after she got her cash, and I offered again to walk with her to the other end of the casino where she'd parked. We kept talking and laughing and such, and actually ended up stopping at some 5x play video poker machines that she told me she always plays last before she goes home. I'm not a VP aficianado by any stretch, so I just punched in the exact ten-cent game she did.

She was very fast, like a real VP pro, but I was taking my time, trying not to lose my ass and while simultaniously working my patented lady-killer mojo. After just a couple of minutes, I hit four deuces with an Ace kicker for a $200 win. I had about seven bucks in the machine, but I played it down to $201 before hitting the ticket-out button. Score!

She kept trying to catch a hand, but had no such luck. Once her initial buy-in was gone, we just sat there at the machines laughing and telling stories and getting to know one another. At that point, she didn't seem to be in any hurry to leave.

I will say this, it was one of the most fascinating conversations I've had in a very long time--she is truly one of the most interesting people I've met since I moved out here. Oh yeah, and kind of hot, too. Anyhow, one of the things she told me is that she is very close friends with a very Famous Person who's actually going to be in town this weekend. More accurately, she is the long-time best friend of this Famous Person's wife, and they're coming to Vegas for the weekend. What was so fascinating about this, is that this celebrity is one of the 15 people on the guest list to my Ultimate Dinner Party. I've been a fan of his work for years, and have always thought him to be a brilliant mind. Well, she had story after story to keep me entertained, and even showed me that she had his number on speed dial on her cell phone!

It would be just like my gal Andrea meeting somebody that knew Toby Keith personally, except that I don't want to make sweet sweet love to this particular celebrity.

Unfortunately, they have a tight schedule, they're bringing the kids with them, and I have to work all weekend anyways, so I'd be unable to meet this person--and of course I wouldn't have even considered asking, but nonetheless it was an interesting experience to hear her stories. "Jan" said she'd fill me in on all the weekend activities next time I see her.

(I hate being so vague, but truly, this particular individual is rather well-known, and I must respect their privacy).

Anyhow, after playing video poker for just a few minutes, we sat at those machines and talked until sometime past two in the morning! Never has my time in that casino moved so quickly or been so enjoyable.

Once we realized how late (early) it was, we had to say our goodbyes--she's got a full day ahead of her before her friends arrive, and I needed to catch up on all the sleep I missed yesterday. She headed for her car, and I headed for the Redemption Machine--a pithily-named device if there ever was one--and told myself that the two hundred bucks I won was just the gravy on the mashed potatoes of potential.

We'll see what happens, if anything. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to take her with me to cross of some of those nice restaurants on my list. At the very least, if only for the pleasant conversation.

Wide awake, and with two crispy Benjamins in my pocket, of course I didn't go straight home. I was hungry, and after last night's old-skool reunion tour, I needed to revisit a Vegas favorite. So I took myself to breakfast at the Peppermill for chicken fried steak and eggs.

I hadn't been there in months, and it was damn good because, as all of you Vegas freaks know, breakfast always tastes better when you pay for it with House Money.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Mini Meet

Last night was my only night off for the week, due to our being so understaffed at work--we still haven't made up for the 27 dealers we lost to Red Rock in April--although they auditioned a whole mess of new dealers this past weekend. Hopefully they'll hire a few of them.

Anyhow, Jeremiah and Christy were in town--Jer is a longtime reader, and I met them back in December for a few beers at the Monte Carlo brewpub. He'd sent me an email last week, telling me about their trip, so we made plans to get together downtown this week.

We touched base yesterday afternoon, and decided to meet at the bar at the Golden Nugget a little after 8 pm. I got down there about 20 minutes early--leaving the new truck in the capable hands of the valet at Binion's--and I was starving, having eaten nothing but a handful of Sun Chips all day. I considered the snack bar there at Binion's, but figured that would take too long. Remembering the tasty hot dog I had last summer at Mermaid's during the We'll Always Have Paris week, I walked over there instead.

First of all, walking into the 'back' entrance of the Horseshoe (screw Harrahs, it's still the Horseshoe to me...) brought me back to all of those trips four or five years ago with Eddie and the boys when I lived in Phoenix. It was a real blast from the past--I hadn't walked that particular path in years, and there was a touch of wistfulness about it. Unfortunately, Binion's has undergone so many changes in the past few years that I'm afraid it has lost it's soul. It's just another downtown casino to me now. But for a few years, it was my favorite place in all of Vegas. And walking through there last night gave me a brief glimpse into the treasured past.

Anyhow, Mermaid's still offers a pretty good 99-cent Nathan's Famous tube steak, tax included. (And yeah, they still have that dusty Harley 883 Sportster on top of the slot machines--nobody has won it yet!) For $1.98, I got a small rootbeer and it seemed to take the edge off of the hunger pangs. I scarfed it down pretty quickly, then headed over to the Nugget. I was a few minutes early and decided to hit the head. On my way, I saw a familiar looking couple attired in matching Astros jerseys (marking them as obvious newlyweds... heh!). I jumped in between them and gave the Hook 'em Horns hand signal before bounding off to the men's room.

I came back a few minutes later and they introduced me to their friend Diane, also from Texas, and a Fremont Street virgin. The original plan was to watch a light show or two, take a ride on the grain train, and maybe do a little gambling. Unfortunately, they'd been up for almost 24 hours straight by that point, had already walked from NYNY to the Wynn, and were several rounds ahead of me in the alcohol consumption department. I figured it was going to be an early night.

The first order of business was to order a beer, but the bartenders at the Nugget did their level best to ignore us. We stood there for a couple of minutes without our presence even being acknowledged, so we decided to move on to the greener pastures. A few minutes later, the four of us were happily sipping cold beers at bar nearest the dice tables back at Binion's. They were getting hungry, and the snack bar was close by, so Christy went on a little recon mission. She came back and said it was too scary for her. I asked which one was the scary part, the food or the patrons.

A little of both, she replied.

Since they wanted to get a proper meal, and the hotdog didn't quite cut it, I suggested that we amble on down to the Golden Gate and get some shrimp cocktails. They were up for that, and we vacated our barstools.

We walked into the Gate, and again, it felt--for a brief moment--like I was back on one of those epic trips from a few years ago. When I worked there, it was during the day, so there was a totally different vibe. I haven't really visited the Golden Gate after dark unless I had some of my fellow degenerates in tow, so I wasn't reminded of being a newbie dice dealer during my early days living here in Vegas--I was reminded of good times past.

My recommendation for a shrimp cocktail, a French Dip, and a beer met with unanimous approval, so after our requisite purgatory of line-standing, we were happily enjoying what I used to consider the quintessential Vegas experience--dinner at the Golden Gate Shrimp Bar & Deli. The beer was cold, the food was good, and the pianist was tickling the ivories providing the old-school ambiance that I loved so much about the place.

Jer was itching to play some cards, so as soon as we finished our meals we found ourselves squeezing in to a $3 shoe game. It started pretty slowly, my $40 buy-in slowly getting drained away when the dealer made her first four hands in a row. Christy gave up after losing a Jackson, opting for the nearby Wheel of Fortune slots, Diane was cool with just being an observer, while Jer and I kept grinding it out. Luckily I went on a little run, but Jer got the smack-down. He walked away empty handed, but I managed a $24 profit, even after leaving the dealer a five-spot for her efforts.

I could tell that everyone was fading fast--they were dragging and the buffoonery meter barely registered our presence. We tried to find some other open tables at both the Nugget and Binion's, but each place had just enough tables open to ensure that every seat was full. We tried to catch a light show, but they only come on at the top of the hour, and we didn't want to stand around for thirty minutes waiting. Not wanting to fight it, we decided to call it a night around 10:30. We said our goodbyes and they headed back to the Nugget to catch a cab, while I went back to Binion's to fetch my truck.

Once I got on the road, I realized how tired I was, and although it was good to meet up with friends, it was nice to hit the bed at a reasonable hour, too.

The best part, however, was that I got a little reminder of why I love this place so much--and I thank Jer and Christy for providing it.


Still Ranting

Perhaps I'm in serious need of a vacation, but here's the latest roster of Stuff that Pisses Me Off:

  • Any tv commercial with no speaking, just the sound of somebody tapping away at a keyboard. It's an annoying and cliched method. Enough is enough. Southwest Airlines is the most recent offender, but they are not alone.
  • That jerkoff that does the yelling on the the Oxy Clean commercials. I don't care how well the stuff works or what a good bargain it is--I will never use their product based on general principal, just like Geico Insurance.
  • That commercial for that new movie coming out, The Lady in the Water. Whispering in order to get people to listen is a cheap method that the public always falls for.
  • Oh yeah, and people that use an initial for a first name, instead of an actual name, like M. Night Shyamalan, need to be kicked in the nuts every half-hour until they renounce their pretentiousness. Same goes for guys named Tom who spell it with an 'h'.

Of course, most of these annoyances stem from the fact that I usually have the tv playing over my shoulder while I'm sitting at the computer, and they trick me into looking at the commercials. I should just go back to leaving it on the Retro-Active music channel instead of ESPN, the History Channel, or the Food Network.


PS. Almost forgot--there is no such word in the English language known as 'alot', either. That is all.

Five Stacks of High Society

Whoever was here at 12:20 (Pacific time) or so in the morning, and read the previous post before clicking the link to the fiction contest results, was the official 50,000th visitor to this site. Well, at least since February when I started keeping track.

All I know about the lucky milestone reader is that they're in San Diego, use Cox Cable as their internet provider, and WinXP is their operating system.

Fifty Thousand readers since February. Amazing. Another one of those I-wish-I-had-a-dollar-every-time things.


It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

They've announced the winners of one of my favorite contests this week (which inexplicably, I've never entered) , and reading the winning entries has made me giggle for the past half hour straight. In case you're unfamiliar with the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, basically the English department at San Jose State University asks the public to submit their worst opening line, or even a paragraph, for an unwritten fictitious novel. They then sift through all of the entries and compile the best of the worst.

There are some real gems in there but this one was my favorite and had me laughing out loud:

Despite the vast differences it their ages, ethnicity, and religious upbringing, the sexual chemistry between Roberto and Heather was the most amazing he had ever experienced; and for the entirety of the Labor Day weekend they had sex like monkeys on espresso, not those monkeys in the zoo that fling their feces at you, but more like the monkeys in the wild that have those giant red butts, and access to an espresso machine.

If only I possessed such literary talent...

Next year.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Care Package

Woo Hoo!

The UPS man, er, woman was especially thoughtful last night, dropping off a package of goodies for me from one of my favorite vendors, It seems that I found an old gift certificate for fifty bucks in my desk drawer that I'd forgotten about, so I put it to good use last week.

On top of the box was Silent America: Essays from a Democracy at War by Bill Whittle. Just fantastic reading--I haven't been able to put it down, ensuring that while I only have one day off this week, I won't be using it to catch up on sleep. Some folks might think (having not read any of the content) that it's a political book, but they'd be wrong. It's really a modern philosophy book that isn't boring. More like, what it means to be an American at this point in history--I liken it to a modern-day version of Thomas Paine's Common Sense. I can't recommend it highly enough. And yeah, it's $30 for a paperback book--but it's worth every penny.

The second book in the box was Hal Roth's How to Sail Around the World. I can't wait to dive into that one. I already own his earlier book Always a Distant Anchorage which is a great read, but it seems a little dated. Besides, while that one was more of a travelogue, this one seems to be more of advice and tips on actually making the trip--almost a textbook about what to expect when I finally make the leap myself.

That should keep me busy for awhile.


Monday, July 17, 2006


I am probably one of the most impatient people on earth. Of all of the numerous virtues I possess, I am sadly lacking in that particular one. Nothing irritates me more than waiting in line behind somebody who has no idea what the hell they are doing. I've been using ATM/debit cards for 20 years now, since I first opened a checking account at Anchor Bank at Gwinnett Place mall back in Duluth Georgia, so it is completely beyond my comprehension that in our "moe-durn" society there are still people out there who have no farking clue how to use one at the grocery store. Or even worse--at the damn bank itself.

I've also done my fair share of checking into hotel rooms here in Vegas, and it's never taken me longer than say, three minutes--at the most--to give my credit card, offer a little baksheesh for an upgraded room, sign the contract, get my room key, and head for the elevator. So I just don't understand why people are standing there for ten, fifteen, or even twenty minutes at the front desk. What could they possibly be doing? What problem can't be solved in less than two minutes with a call to the right person? I just don't get it. Those are the people who deserve to lose every dime to the casino when they come to town. Karma must be satisfied.

And don't even get me started on the three hours of my life that the State sucked out of me last week at the DMV. Watching the toads behind the desk in inaction was a real education in bureaucratic demotivation.

Or what about the geniuses in line in front of you at the Taco Bell drive-thru. Not only have they been waiting in line for a couple of minutes between placing their order and actually getting to the window, because of the doofusses in front of them, but once they get to said window, they suddenly realize that they have to find their wallet and then dig around for the money. Meanwhile, my Mountain Dew sits on the counter getting watery, and my Chalupa slowly gets soggy waiting for a good customer like me to pick it up while giving the rocket scientist at the window exact change to avoid any of that complicated math stuff.

As much as I hate all those people, nothing, and I mean nothing, puts me into an ass-kicking rage more that some dipshiat on the road in front of you who taps the brakes for absolutely no reason. If it happens at night, they get the high beams in their mirror. If it happens during the day, well, I just have to suffer in silence and pray that they get a flat tire at a most inconvenient time. At the very least, I get the smug satisfaction that eventually they'll have an expensive brake job in their future.

I find myself agreeing more and more with Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black when he gave his People Are Stupid speech.

Anyhow, these are small annoyances on my roster of pet peeves. Of course I have plenty more. People who come to Vegas all the time and still spell the main drag downtown as Freemont. It's Fremont, morons. One E. You've been visiting here long enough to know better. I've also come up with a new Sniglet for a certain class of semi-illiterates I shall heretofore refer to as Loosers. Yep, I'm talking about the knuckleheads who don't know the difference between 'lose' and 'loose', yet still put pen to pad--or finger to keyboard--and share their brilliance with the rest of us.

I also hate--and the modern media is the most guilty of this--how people purposely mispronounce words, some of which are now acceptable. When did 'harass' become Harris? Another word, near and dear to me, is 'Hurricane'. Well, sitting here at my desk, I had the History Channel playing in the background. The show that was on as I began typing this screed was called Hurricane Warning.

Like a burr under my saddle, I kept hearing some toolbag talking about a 'Her-kan'. After she said it about five times in less than thirty seconds, I had to turn and see what kind of ill-spoken moron they would interview and put on the air. I stopped typing, looked over my shoulder at the screen, and saw none other than that Hero of Waco, former Attorney General Janet Reno. Of course I can't see her on TV anymore without hearing Austin Powers' voice in my head telling me She's a man, baby...

Anyhow, Janet, the word 'Hurricane' has three syllables. Get it right, otherwise you sound like even more of a buffoon than we already gave you credit for.

One time I was watching the news (Fox, of course) and they were interviewing some token tweed-wearing lefty pseudo-intellectual about some topic of the day, and he used the term 'modern society', except that he pronounced it as moe-dern, with a long 'O'. The reporter actually stopped the interview and said "Excuse me, did you say moe-dern? Did you mean 'modern'". It was a thing of beauty to watch this jerkoff stumble around for a second with the deer-in-the-headlights look, like he was wearing dirty drawers that day and got de-pantsed in front of all of his colleagues.

Nothing gives me more enjoyment in life than seeing dipshiats get called out on their own idiocy.

I had the supreme pleasure of administering a bit of it the other night at work, too. We have a particular player that NOBODY can stand. He comes in every weekend, wearing the same nasty shirt every time, and sits and plays table-minimum pai gow, chain smoking and ordering Budweisers all night long, stiffing the waitresses and the dealers for hours on end. Because of his dumpy appearance and lack of hygiene, you can well imagine that he is a very lonely fellow. Because of this, whenever there is a relatively attractive gal playing at any of the Pai Gow tables, he always ambles over and sits next to them, always trying--and failing--to pick up on them. That irritates me because he drives good players, or at least attractive ones, away from the tables--they can't stand him, so they always leave soon after he sits down.

Anyhow, I had a pretty good looking 40-something gal in a low-cut top sitting at third base on my Pai Gow table the other night, and we were having a lot of laughs and the vibe at the table was very good. Of course, the chair next to her was open, and guess who came waddling up--none other than that dipshiat in the dirty shirt.

It didn't take five minutes before he started being annoying, and the gal at third base was obviously starting to get uncomfortable. I couldn't do too much about it, because he hadn't said anything to get tossed off the table, but I dealt the cards out and waited for everyone to set their hands.

Well, he has two pairs with an Ace, so he leans over to his next imaginary conquest and asks her, "Hey, how should I set this hand?"

I'd seen enough by this time and had to call him out. So I just said You've got to be kidding me--you come here every weekend and sit there telling everyone at the table how to set their hands for ten hours straight, and you expect us to believe you don't know what to do with this one? Puh-leaze. Dude, you've gotta work on your pickup lines!

Not only did everyone at the table start laughing, but so did the pit boss who was standing behind me at the time. The dork left for greener pastures shortly thereafter, and the gal in the low-cut top has been sitting at my table every night since then, telling everyone that I'm the best dealer in the casino.

It was a thing of beauty, a quality smackdown on a well-deserving recipient.

But back to my favorite song from the GNR 'Lies' album, Patience...

There is one issue in my daily life that tries my patience like no other. I'm afraid that I'm going to have to change my nametag back from Mikey to Michael. People can read Michael. Mikey, however, is beyond the grasp of about half the population. If I had a dollar for every time I got called 'Mickey', by this time next year I'd be anchored somewhere in the South Pacific on my new sailboat, drinking rum, and cavorting with native girls.

Seriously people, there is no 'C' in Mikey. My favorite thing to do once somebody calls me Mickey is to cover up the 'Y' on my nametag and ask them, Ok, so what does this say? Usually, they get the MIKE part right. So then I remove my finger and say Ok, so NOW what does it say? Usually the lightbulb goes off at that point.

Sometimes I get a smartass that responds with Well, you look like a Mickey... I love that, because my natural comeback is Um, do you want me to tell you what you look like in front of all the rest of these people? That usually gets a big laugh from everyone else and the tips start rolling in. But you gotta be smooth with that one and deliver it with a smile and a wink or it can backfire.

Anyhow, I've gone my whole life with people mispronouncing my last name when they see it written, or misspelling it when they hear it spoken. So messing up the first name, especially an easy, common one like Mikey starts to wear thin after awhile.

Maybe it would've been better had I been given an easier name like Sid.


A Change In the Wind

Happy Monday, everyone!

Since last night was the end of a very long, busy, and rewarding pay period, I managed to talk the floor manager into letting me out two hours early. Actually, when I came back from break and he was looking at the roadmap for a table to send me to, I think my exact words were something along the lines of You know, if it takes longer than ten seconds to find a spot for me, you should probably just go ahead and send me home...

His response was I don't see you. (Wink wink...) Taking the hint, I ran for the door before he could change his mind.

Work was much slower and more dull last night, and I had a lot of free time sitting on dead games, so taking the early out was a no-brainer for me. Besides, we've been so busy lately that I have to work six days next week. The money's good, but I don't think I'm too happy about only having one day off. In other news, I found out that I got a big 15-cent-per-hour raise this week, too. Apparently the big bosses realize what a hotshot dealer I am, and are rewarding me with a bigger carrot!

Anyhow, while sitting around waiting for players, I made a mental list of about a dozen things I need to accomplish today, from the mundane laundry and housecleaning chores, to doing stuff like listing all of the topics I've been wanting to write about, but too busy to do so. I'm also going to peel off another couple hundred dollar bills this weekend and buy a new corner- shaped workstation to replace the old desk I've been using that's too small and also the wrong height. I'm also going to get an upright entertainment center to put in my room, too. Those two items will create a whole lot more space in my bedroom and hopefully it won't seem so cluttered in here.

I'd also like to go and get the truck washed and detailed--after I washed it the other day, it got hit by the sprinklers in the front yard and now it's got ugly water spots all over it. But I may have to wait to do that. As I was driving to work last night, it was very warm and calm when I left the house, but by the time I got to Green Valley Pkwy, there was a lot of palm bark swirling around in the road and all of the trees were straining and pointing north. Not only that, but visibility was cut down considerably while a huge dust storm blew in. By the time I got out of the truck at work, it felt like God had turned on His hairdryer.

Having lived in the desert for so many years, a strong contrary wind usually means rain will follow. But not this time--if it rained, none of it hit the roof of the parking garage at work. I don't know if we have a monsoon season like we did in Phoenix, but now's about the time it should start raining every afternoon.

I'm not going back to poker school today--I'm going to wait and go tomorrow. Basically I'm finished, but I just need to knock the rust off and practice. But I'll know what my new schedule is like after next Saturday, so hopefully soon I can go ahead and start looking for that day job dealing Hold Em.


Saturday, July 15, 2006

License To Chill

When I left the house last night to go to work, I noticed that the living room and kitchen areas seemed much warmer than usual. My roommate had some industrial-strength fans blowing, but it was hot air that was circulating. I'm guessing that he figures the carpet will dry out faster that way, so the air conditioning was cut off to the 'community' areas of the house.

So, when I got back home early this morning, I walked in the side door at the far end of the house by the laundry room and kitchen. I was first of all surprised to see that the door was wide open. But even more interesting was the fact that it was actually warmer inside the house than it was outside. But the fans were still blowing and the carpet was slowly drying out, so obviously the attempt was to vent the hot air.

On the plus side, whatever my roommate did to shut off the a/c to the rest of the house has totally benefitted me. My room is usually one of the warmest in the house, with a western exposure that is all glass, floor-to-ceiling. The blackout curtains help a little, but it gets HOT in there. The air conditioner barely keeps up, so I bought a 16-inch oscillating fan that has run full speed nonstop since the day I brought it home.

Anyhow, with no cold air being diverted to the huge open rooms in half of the house, most of that cold air is being piped directly to the vent over my bed. Oh hell yeah! I might actually get under the covers once I finally go to bed this morning. I love a cold bedroom--always have. I'm one of those sick freaks who would rather sleep under two comfortors and a wool blanket than thrash around under a single top sheet wishing I could turn the air down. And believe me, it is never cool enough for me in this bedroom, and even worse when I'm hosting the occasional sleepover.

So, now that I've learned that a soggy living-room carpet is all that it takes to get the temperature down to a comfortable level in my bedroom, I'm not above a little bit of sabotage. Brothaman might be replacing that water heater every week from now until October.


... And Your Chicks for Free

You gotta love getting home after four a.m. on a Saturday morning.

Except for being stone-cold sober, it's just like I was back living with Derek and the boys at his Frathouse in Tempe. Those were the days. Oh wait, there's one other difference--I still have the $150 in my wallet that I left the house with last night. That shiat would've been long gone by now. And my clothes don't smell of wine and cheap perfume...

I may have mentioned previously that work has been getting much busier lately. It seems like every night our tables aren't closing as fast as they used to, and most of the tables are always full. Gotta love a strong economy! And I also noticed that our tokes have been getting much better since tax season ended in the middle of April. These past few weeks we had a stretch where we didn't hit less than $150 per day per dealer, while at some of the bigger Strip resorts, the dealers were struggling to hit a Benjamin. (Back when I was first offered the job, I was told that we'd make about a hundred a night--luckily it's been much better than that)

I thought we might've slipped a bit when I came into work on Thursday (after having two days off) and seeing that we only made $136 on Monday night. But then I saw what everyone made on my days off--$200 each day, and I was a little bummed out because I missed it.

You never want to miss a $200 day.

Well, I shouldn't have been too concerned because, although we were busy as hell that night, on Thursday we hit $250 in tips. Nice!

My gal Jen wasn't at work on Thursday, so when I saw her on our first break last night, I wanted to rub it in that she missed a big night. But, she'd taken a floater day, and not only did she not have to work that night, she thought she was ultra-cool for still getting paid $300 for going to see Phantom of the Opera at the Venetian and then going out drinking afterwards. Bizatch!

I guess the lesson here is not to try to rub it in...

But tonight was more of the same--I was dropping money in the toke box all night long, and I was even in Chinatown for the first six hours, notorious for it's lack of good tippers. It might've had something to do with the two straight-flushes I dealt on the Pai Gow table within ten minutes of each other, and also paying out so much on 3-Card Poker that I had to get a fill for over five grand after a half-hour.

But then I got moved to dice at 2 am, and the deluge wouldn't stop. I had a full table, with one real PITA player standing right next to me, but I also had a big-money player on my end. To round it out, I was also dealing to the guy who sold me my truck. Anyhow, the high-roller starts tossing in pink, saying stuff like $2000 outside, $400 Horn, $100 for the dealers on the whirl...

I set him up and gave the extra $500 to the stick chick, told her about the horn bet and our whirl, and added From my good friend on the end!

He got a kick out of that and tossed me two more black checks, telling me to drop it in the box because he liked me so much. Score!

It didn't end there, as he kept $500 on both the 4 and 10, and every time they'd hit, the payoff was $975. Each time I cut out the winnings in the Come, he told me to keep the $75 for myself. Yep, dropped a whole lotta green checks those last two hours, plus all of the prop bets he had us up on actually hit a few times.

It ended up being a very long night--that dice table was still jam-packed when the graveyard crew tapped us out at 3:55, but I can't wait to see the toke book tomorrow night to find out how we did.

Even if we crack three hundy, I'll take smug satisfaction knowing that that hooch Jen had to work for it this time!