Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Bearing Fruit

Hello everybody.

First of all, I want to say thank you for all the encouraging calls, messages, and emails I've received over the past few days. It means a lot. And I want to especially thank those who have donated via the Amazon tip jar there on the left. I've almost gathered enough through there to pay the car insurance bill this month. Thanks very much!

I guess I didn't read that post after I sent it up, and re-reading it for the first time this afternoon, it seems awfully depressing. Life isn't *that* bad, but my job is truly sucking ass lately. Just comparing check stubs from January vs. last June, I can see that I've taken about a $600 per month pay cut. I can't figure it out--the economy is booming, oil and gas prices are down, and there is no reason for us to be so dead except for perhaps inept marketing and management.

Also, I would've posted again sooner and not gone off the radar so much, but we had another 'information' outage this week that left me without cable tv, internet, or email access for the better part of two days. But that got taken care of late last evening, so I'm wired up and connected to the rest of the world once again. And speaking of household events, the stoner-flashback guy moved out two weeks ago, and I didn't even know it. Apparently, he had another 'episode' that was so off-the-hook that my other roommate went and checked into a hotel to get away from him (I was living like a high roller in the Spa Suite at NYNY with Sticky at the time, so I missed it). I guess when he came back home, the stoner roommate had packed his backpack, gathered up all his weed and bandanas, and moved out.

So the drama continues, but in the meantime I'm looking for other sources of income.

Luckily, in the past week or so, the town has opened up a bit, and I've found three poker dealing job openings, plus three more poker-related job openings. Along with those, I found two openings for dice dealing jobs at desirable locations. So later tonight I'll be starting the application process, and tomorrow when I finish all my laundry I'll make sure I have some black pants and a crispy white oxford shirt ready to go at a moments notice in case the call for an audition comes.

Additionally, the Evil Empire will be ramping up soon for the World Series of Poker, and that will also create several opportunities around town. And we can't forget the satellites that are going on at the same time, plus the guys that own all the lions will be hosting two or three WPT events in the coming months that are always pretty lucrative.

Anyhow, lets hope I can recover that $600 per month, and maybe a little more too, in an enjoyable manner.

School has been going well, if not occasionally tedious. I'm treating it like a job and actually getting up every day and getting down there to put my time in, hoping to knock the rust off and learn a few things here and there. My Omaha and Stud games could use some work, but if you're needing a 2-4 Texas Holdem dealer with mad skillz and a charming personality, I'm your guy! Probably the best unemployed low-limit holdem dealer this side of Mandalay Bay, even.


That's what's been keeping me busy lately, and of course if anything good or noteworthy happens, I'll be sure to report it here.


Monday, January 29, 2007

Mocked By the Blinking Cursor

Hey everybody. Yep, I'm starting out another post with an apology for not having that much-anticipated trip report finished yet. (And you think I could ever become a 'professional' writer having to deal with deadlines? Oh yeah, keep dreamin'...).

The truth is, for the past few days I've actually considered shutting down this blog completely and taking a break from it. Right now life is *very* tough and most of my free time is spent hustling and shaking the trees for opportunities to earn much-need extra cash, but I just don't have that fire burning inside of me that I had two years ago when I first arrived in town.

I finally realized today what the bottom line is. I'm just suffering from a moderate case of depression at the moment. My job sucks and it's getting worse. The jobs that I'd like to do aren't readily available, and the stress of not just making a living, but getting out of debt and saving for the future weighs heavily upon me.

Also, once Sticky left, I was majorly bummed. I was very sad to see her go, and I was in a funk for a week after I dropped her off at the airport. But her March Madness plane tickets have since been bought, so at least a psychological barrier has been breached and I'm much happier now, knowing when I'll see her again for sure.

I also haven't been sleeping, eating, or accomplishing nearly as much as I'd like to. I've been walking around in an exhausted haze for the past week and a half, living on coffee and diet Coke. Luckily I'm not a smoker, or I'd be doing four packs a day. I've tried to put on a good face and grind it out lately, but the past few days have just tried my patience to no end. I've also been going to school during the day, and that cuts into my sleep time, while the rewards of that particular endeavor don't seem to be manifesting themself just yet, either.

Anyhow, there's the diagnosis.

In the middle of all this, I've been trying to finish that trip report, but my heart just hasn't been in it. What I've got so far is pure crap, and sitting here staring at the screen for hours at a time doesn't help. While I'm not quite to the breaking point like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, all of the little gnats of outside stresses buzzing around have kept me distracted enough that it's felt impossible to turn out any kind of quality narrative.

But I promised a report, so a report you'll get. As of this moment, I can offer you two out of three--lengthy, quick, or entertaining. I haven't yet figured out which two though. But I promise to keep working on it.

Anyhow, that's where I stand. I'm going to try and get some sleep for a few hours before heading back to school and practicing my craft.

And before I go, I also want to that all the donors that hit the tip jar this past week--I very much appreciate it, and I am beyond grateful. You guys are the reason I'm keep putting one foot in front of the other and not shutting it down. Thanks again.

I'll catch up soon.


Thursday, January 25, 2007


I stayed up late last night and got a lot of writing done, but of course, it's far from a masterpiece and it's still far from being finished.

Patience, grasshopper.

But on the other hand, Sticky has been more diligent than I, and has posted her after-action report from her Vegas visit last week. Go forth, read, enjoy, and leave her a comment of encouragement for taking the time to write it up.

At least you have a preview of my story now, too.


So We Don't Have To

For the past several years, I've always kept my ear to the ground, as they say, regarding the worldwide and domestic oil industry. As Americans and other First World citizens, nothing affects us more than the world oil markets, whether you realize it or not. If the cost of oil goes up, the cost of *everything* goes up. When oil prices drop, you and I end up with more money in our pockets. I don't have the time nor the inclination to go into a whole macro-economics lesson, but it's as true as the sun rising in the east. Oil drives the engine of our Republic. Without oil we are screwed. Fortunately, oil is cheap and plentiful--available from numerous sources both foreign and domestic.

While catching up on my required reading this week, I found this very interesting article about how Saudi Arabia is waging an economic war on Iran, and the biggest beneficiary of this, happily, is the United States. A side note, that isn't mentioned in the article, is that when things like this happen, it really puts the screws to Venezuala, also. Hugo Chavez is trying to turn that country into another Cuba, but if the price of oil keeps dropping, he's going to be broke. There is plenty of civil unrest in that country, and if things get worse for him, he might find himself hung from a pole and paraded through the streets of Caracas before too long.

One can only hope.

Anyhow, if the Saudi Oil War against Iran doesn't work, I found this article to be most interesting.

While I think we're actually slowly getting the job done in Iraq, regardless of what I hear on CBS/ABC/NBC et. al, I have to agree with the John Derbyshire approach to conflicts in the middle east:

Rubble doesn't make trouble.

Let's hope it doesn't come to that.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Hype

The Super Bowl is still what, ten days(?) away, and I'm already tired of the crapola on ESPN. Here are a couple of my more major gripes:

Listening to Dan Patrick on the radio this week, him and the human turd Keith Olbermann keep harping on the fact that Tank Johnson of the Chicago Bears was arrested for having (gasp) an assault rifle and over 500 rounds of ammunition in his home. They keep saying 500 rounds of ammunition like the guy was planning to go postal in a local fast-food joint or something. I got news for you northeastern lib-tards out there--Sitting here at my desk, I have over two thousand rounds of Russian AK-47 ammunition within arm's reach. Out here in the freedom-loving and individual-responsibility-centric American West, lots of folks keep assault rifles on hand and have a lot more than just 500 rounds on hand. In fact, I have a box of 525 rounds of .22 ammunition sitting ON MY NIGHTSTAND at this moment. And I don't think I'm any danger to society. And I'm not breaking any laws, either. I'm certainly not planning on packing a lunch, climbing a tower, and spending the day picking off random pedestrians either. And I also think that if it were possible to get a true census among my roommates and neighbors, I'd be at the low end of the scale when it comes to firearms possession.

Of course, Tank Johnson made the mistake of living in Chicago, where only the wealthy or politically connected are allowed to own firearms, so of course he's portrayed as a gun-toting nutcase. Whatever. Keith and Dan need to just shut the hell up and stick with what they do best, talking about sports highlights. There are already enough ill-informed idiots on the radio talking about politics and social issues.

Also, I'm already sick of the whole 'Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith are the first black head coaches to go to the Super Bowl' story. Big deal. I don't give two shits about what color they are. I'm guessing most other people don't either. Are they good coaches? Can they motivate their players to do their best? Can they come up with a good game plan and manage the clock? Yes? Ok, then who cares what color they are. Get over it already. I'm sure they both would much rather be known as just plain old Great Football Coaches, and not Great Black Football Coaches. I wish the media would learn this and just get over it. Seriously--we all know what they look like. We don't need to keep being reminded of what color they are.

I don't know if I can handle ten more days of this nonsense before the game kicks off. By then I'll be good and ready for the commercials, and I'm guessing this will be one of those snoozer Super Bowls anyways--over by halftime.


Dire Straits

Nothin' for money and no chips for me...

Sorry for the lack of updating this week, but circumstances dictate that I remain super-busy for the foreseable future. It stems from a piece of memorable advice I got from my advisor back when I was putting myself into life-long debt back while attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and harboring the fantasy of becoming an airline pilot. Anyhow, he told me that when times are good, make sure you're working, and when times are bad, make sure you're going to school.

It's not so cut-and-dry right now, however. The economy is booming and Las Vegas is as busy as ever. Unfortunately, I'm employed by a casino that isn't fully participating in the tourist boom, and it seems that some of the decisions being made are far-removed from the dealers' best interests. Our tokes are down. WAY down. And after midnight, just about every night, the casino is as quiet as a tomb. Yet we still have twenty or more dealers standing around on games that shouldn't be open in the first place. And then on the weekends, instead of all $10 limits with maybe one or two $5 games per pit, it's mostly all low-limit games.

Low limit games do not bring in the good players. $5 Pai Gow and $5 Blackjack bring in the fleas. We're not introducing any new players to the games, we're providing a place for fleas to spend more time grinding away. I remember last summer, occasionally we'd get somebody asking if there were any $5 games available. Now we get people asking where the $2 games are. Nice. (When they ask, however, I'm more than happy to give them directions out to Joker's Wild).

Once the holidays ended, we went dead. It's been going south for a few months now, but lately it's been just awful.

We had several days last week where tokes were less than a hundred bucks apiece. When I started, the lowest average day was about $125. Now we're in Sam's Town territory, hitting that big $95 stroke on weekdays. So tokes are down, fleas are up, and morale is in the shitter.

On Friday night, we had a great player on Rapid Roulette. Normally, we don't drop shiat in the toke box on that game (Monday there was $6.75 dropped between four dealers all night, just to give you an idea). Anyhow, this player was awesome--the kind of guy you wish was playing every night. I told him which numbers I tend to roll, and he loaded up. Every time we hit one, he'd push the toke button on the screen repeatedly. And that's how we found out that the game is programmed to not allow us to earn more than $30 per player. Once thirty bucks is put in a player's electronic toke box, if they press the button again, it deletes the tips and puts them right back in their playing bankroll.

Talk about a chickenshit thing to do to the dealers. This guy was winning upwards of $500 per spin sometimes and wanted to share the love. Once we figured it out, however, he stopped tapping the tip button once it hit $27. Anyhow, this guy was responsible for putting over $500 in our toke pool that night, on a game that we usually don't make ten bucks on, and we *still* didn't break a hundred dollars for the night.

But that's not all there is to the story.

After he left the table, he left his players card behind and went to play dice. He hinted that he "wanted to take care of me", but I hear that all the time and don't put much stock in it. He'd already given us plenty. Anyhow, I took his players card to him over in the dice pit, and when I did, he slipped me a chip in my hand.

Uh oh.

I cannot accept chips off of a game, and if surveillance were to catch it, that's my ass. So I immediately walked back over to our game and told our manager what had happened. I opened my fist and inside was a $100 black chip.

No worries, we turned it into four green ones and dropped them in the toke box, and I was told that I did the right thing by 1) reporting it and 2) not embarrassing the player by not accepting it and making a big deal about it on his game.

Of course I was never tempted to pocket it--it would be stealing from my co-workers, and good luck with trying to cash it at the cage anyways--but damn, the next day when I saw that we made a big $96 for the night, all I could do was shake my head in disbelief. An extra hundred bucks would've been nice. Especially now.

So what does all this have to do with me being so busy this week? Well, at *my* casino, times are very tough. So back to school I went.

Yep, I'm spending my free time either online looking for jobs, filling out applications, or finding contact info. And I'm also spending several hours a day back at school practicing my poker dealing. Jobs are still scarce, and if worse comes to worse I could get another job dealing dice, but I've got a line on a couple of poker jobs, and I'm hoping they pan out. In the meantime, I'm surrounding myself with contacts and sharpening my skills.

I need the money. February is going to be a very lean month.

So please feel free to hit the tip jar there on the left. Forget about paying for a new computer, right now I'd just like to remain living indoors.



Monday, January 22, 2007


Hey Gang--I'm finally wide awake for the first time in almost a week. Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm still pretty tired, having just completed my first complete eight-hour shift since last Sunday night. And it was mostly on dice, so it was a workout.

Yesterday, it was nice to lounge around all day and work on that sleep deficit I've been running. But I got to watch some football from the comforts of my bed, dozing in and out but catching the good parts. I missed on one of my predictions, but at least I got the important one right. Bears or Saints, in the end it doesn't matter much, as the AFC is probably going to mow down their hapless opponent. Seriously, who would you want leading your team in the Super Bowl--Peyton Manning or Rex Grossman? I mean, it's not even close. I'm an NFC guy, but damn, this has blowout written all over it. I checked the sports book late last night, and the Bears early money line is +270. Good Lord.

Anyhow, the plan today is to get a little rest, wash all my laundry and put the luggage away, recharge the cellphone and iPod, upload any pictures I might have, and talk to Sticky about getting our timeline right so we can write our 'after-action' reports.

Then I'll go to work again before having my weekend to myself. Hopefully I can crank out some tales before Thursday night, but I make no promises.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Mostly Dead

Hey guys!

Your humble host has returned home after a very long week of buffoonery, and is suffering from a severe case of perma-fatigue. I've gotten maybe five hours of sleep in the last 72, so I'm about to pass out, so it's off to bed for me very soon.

Sticky is on her way back to the O.C. as I type this, and as soon as we both get some rest, we'll compare notes and make sure we get our alibis stories straight and our chronology in order. Then I shall spend a bit of time trying to write it all down for you. It may be awhile though.

Seriously, right now, it's all just a huge blur. But we had a great time, as expected, and we have some great stories to share.

Oh, and Go Saints! And, Go Colts!

Mikey out.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Last Post Until the Weekend

Hey Gang--it's finally here! Sticky is on her way to the airport up in O-Canada, my bags are packed, the to-do list is completed except for the part about getting the truck washed and going to the bank, and all I have to do now is take a shower, get dressed, grab a bite to eat, and then head to the airport in about four short hours.

Then it is ON!

The first order of business is to check into the Mirage, then we'll set up the Christmas tree (yep, I'm packing a Christmas tree!), pour ourselves a drink, turn on the holiday music, and celebrate Christmas the way we wish we could've done three weeks ago. (By the way, there will be no peanut butter balls this time around, but I got confirmation from Mamasan that she will send an extra-large batch along in time for March Madness, so that everyone can try them. I'll bring them to Angy's suite party, so now we'll get to find out how well they go with Patron).

I also got a great surprise last night. As I was standing there spinning the ball at the Rapid Roulette table, I looked over my shoulder and saw Regina B lurking through the casino grinning at me. I did a double take and was like What the hell???

Oh, who is Regina B you ask? Well, she is Mrs. Eddie B, who is one of my best buddies from Phoenix and wingman on many a Vegas adventure. About two seconds later I saw him pop out from behind a row of slot machines--they got in town late Sunday night and came down last night to surprise me. I had no idea that they were even coming to Vegas this week!

Woo hoo!

So we hung out and chatted a bit, and they played at my table for about an hour until I went on my next break, and we made plans for them to join us for dinner tomorrow night and have drinks at the Wynn, but we might also get together later tonight for some old-school buffoonery once Sticky and I get settled at the Mirage.

This week just keeps getting better and better.

Oh, and as luck would have it, I got a full night's sleep last night. It was dead slow at work--I mean so slow that the bosses seemed to be panicking a little bit--we had way too many tables open and way too many dealers working. They were slamming lids on the games by the time I went on my first break!

When I first got to work at 8pm, I signed the Early Out list and added the note "Get me outta here--It's my Friday night before vacation--Thanks!" I knew I'd get out somewhat early, but by 10:00 pm when they'd already closed an entire pit, half of Chinatown, and both games I was dealing, I wasn't surprised when they sent me home. And about 20 other dealers had already gone home before I did. Yep, I worked all of two hours last night, but it was so slow that the money we made last night wasn't worth staying for.

I hope business picks up later this week, or February is going to be a rather lean month.

But I'm not worried about that right now. I'm well-rested and I've got five days of buffoonery ahead of me, plus I've got that whole 'Just arrived in Vegas' vibe going where I believe we're going to hit it big and make lots of money this trip.

If we don't, at least we'll have a good story.

Talk to ya next week!


Monday, January 15, 2007

Recap: Two Down, Twenty Two To Go

The first thing I did once I got home this morning was fire up the DVR, giving a brief Thank You prayer to the Flying Spaghetti Monster for making sure that there was no power outage or other technical gremline last night which might've kept me from recording the two-hour premiere of 24.

Having seen it, I offer a few thoughts: (If you haven't seen it yet, quit reading NOW--there may be spoilers ahead!!)

Twenty months in China? Good Lord, that's a lot of fast-forwarding. I still wanna know what happened with The First Rack and her Secret Service Man-Crush from last season, now that her husband is off paying for his sins in some Federal country-club lockup.

Kumar is a terrorist??? WTF??? He seemed so likeable when he was getting high and riding that cheetah.

At least we were spared the Audrey soap opera for now. Every hero needs a wet-blanket wife/girlfriend/significant other. Rocky had Adrian (You can't win!), Mike McD had Jo (Tell me you were at Scores getting lapdances...), and Jack Bauer has Audrey.

No Audrey is cool, but no Elisha Cuthbert, not so much...

Oh yeah, the President's sister getting arrested by the FBI. I'm *sure* that would happen.

Hey, the CTU bosses got hitched up. Good for them. Karen needed to get laid.

Wait, is Chloe's ex-husband supposed to be gay, or what? Seriously, he was a shoe salesman and now he's back to being an uber-geek with top secret clearance, but he still acts like Christopher Lowell? I'm confused.

I like the whole hero/anti-hero thing Jack has going on with the terrorist guy. What's better than one loose cannon breaking protocol and ignoring the rules to get things done? TWO loose cannons! Doubling the mayhem is always cool. But you know Curtis wants to kick a little ass this season, so he's probably jealous...

How do I get my cell phone to ring like the phones at CTU? Anybody know where I can buy that ringtone?

Looking at Jack's back when he took his shirt off, I asked myself Where did the Chinese guys keep him for all this time? On an 18th century British Man-O-War? Did they use a cat-o-nine-tails on him after they ate all the meaty parts?

It's good to see the little squirrely guy from Ally McBeal playing the role of the token monumental jackass in the Administration. Glad he landed on his feet after that gig ended. I wonder if he'll start stuttering if Portia De Rossi makes a cameo.

Did you see the look Jack gave the Chinese guy when he got off the plane? You think that guy's got a serious ass-kicking coming to him sometime in the future?

Hey, after only four seasons, they finally got around to making Muslims the bad guys. I can't believe they would do that to such devout followers of the Religion of Peace. I mean, geez, it's almost like portraying Buddhists as a bunch of gang-bangers. Nothing is too low for Hollywood anymore.

I didn't know there was a subway in Los Angeles!

Kumar's little neighbor friend seemed just a bit too needy and clingy. I was kind of hoping he'd bust a cap in him instead of the redneck guy. By the way, scriptwriters, high school guys don't give each other friendship bracelets/necklaces/whatever. Unless they want to get their ass kicked for being gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

I don't know about the rest of you, but I was most impressed with Jack's Hannibal Lecter-esque escape from the bad guys. I guess after two years of Chinese food he was in the mood for a little middle eastern cuisine.

That's about it for now, and it goes without saying that I can't wait to see tonight's episode. I doubt I'll post any comments/reaction about it, but I'll certainly stay up and watch it as soon as I get home in the morning, regardless of how tired I am.


Short Term Insomnia

Of course I can't sleep right now. It's 6:30, in the blessed ay-em, as Colonel Potter would say, and I should be deep into my REM cycle and turning my pillow into a drool-sponge. But no. My mind is racing at about a hundred miles an hour and I just can't turn out the lights, no matter how tired I am or how much I know that I should be sleeping.

I've got lots going on today, and about a million things to do before Sticky arrives tomorrow. Ok, actually I'm down to about only 15 things or so, but still--I should be banking up my sleep because Lord knows I'm not going to be getting any for awhile, and my time today is valuable.

And throwing another monkey wrench into the whole thing is the fact that after about a five-day layoff from any kind of interesting blogging, the ideas are just gushing forth from my brain like a long-dry oil well finally bearing it's crude fruit. So I've been scribbling furiously on the notepad I keep handy next to my bed, and at some point next week when the buffoonery is just a fond memory, not only will I have a 'trip report' to write, I'll also have some other material for your reading enjoyment.

Believe me, there is nothing I'd rather do today than sit here and pound out about a hundred pages of interesting narrative for you all, because it's all so fresh in my head. But I can't--I've just got too much to do and too many things are bidding for my time. I wish I could control the monster, but it just doesn't work like that. Sometimes I go for days without the slightest inkling of inspiration--like all of last week, for instance. And some days the genie comes out of the bottle with a vengeance.

Today is one of those days, but unfortunately I can't do anything with it but make three wishes that the inspiration finds me again in about a week.

I guess that's why I'd never make it as a professional writer. Deadlines would be hopelessly ineffective and I'd likely get fired immediately from any writing job I'd be lucky enough to find. I feel like that artist on Heroes who can only paint his peering-into-the-future masterpieces while he's cranked up on heroin. I just don't know what my heroin equivalent is, or when it's going to strike.

But I don't need heroin. I need a sleeping pill.

I guess if worse comes to worse, I could turn the TV onto C-SPAN and watch all of the Martin Luther King day coverage, which should normally put me right out. But I'd have to keep one eye open just in case I'm able to catch Ted Kennedy emerging from his drunken stupor long enough to give his annual 'I Have a Dram' speech from the Senate floor.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Pissed Off

Goddamn I hate the Patriots. Hate hate hate them. At least the Seahawks lost today. I hate them too.


Must Be Done By Tuesday At 1:00 PM

  1. Wash and vaccuum the truck
  2. Finish all the laundry
  3. Wrap the last of the Christmas presents
  4. Pack the mini Christmas tree and an extension cord
  5. Find my big suitcase
  6. Find the four different pairs of shoes I'm going to need next week (flip flops, tennis shoes, loafers, and the black clogs for work)
  7. By some Coke and Dr. Pepper to mix with the Crown Royal
  8. Pack the Crown Royal
  9. Charge the iPod
  10. Charge the cellphone
  11. Put new blades on the razor
  12. Change the batteries in the digital camera
  13. Vaccuum the bedroom
  14. Get five stacks of low society from the bank
  15. Reconfirm the dinner reservations
  16. Fix the zipper on my hoodie
  17. Transfer a selection of fine cigars from the humidor to a ziploc baggie
  18. Refill the jet lighter
  19. Locate my sunglasses
  20. Iron a pair of dress pants and my blue twill shirt
  21. Clean and the bathroom, wash the rugs
  22. Take out the trash
  23. Find all of my matchplay coupons and put them in my wallet
  24. Find some jeans and sweaters for the cold weather next week
  25. Pack
  26. Drink the rest of the milk before it goes bad

The Big Payoff


I know I haven't talked about it much, but I've been looking forward to tonight ever since the middle of the football season when Fox teased us with that first glimpse of the upcoming season of 24.

Jack's back, baby! Terrorists of the world will think twice before unleashing their mayhem now that Jack has returned from his extended vacation in Chinatown. Just give him a few minutes to get a shave and a haircut and the world will be safe once again.

I'm giddy with anticipation! The DVR is set to record all episodes, since I'm always working when our favorite CTU agent is out doing his thing, but the first thing I do when I get home is fire it up and watch every episode with the blessed ability to fast-forward through all of the American Idol promos. Is this a great country or what?

Speaking of work, it's been a very long week already, and I've only had to put up with it for three days so far. Of course, it's dragging because I'm looking forward to next week when I get to avoid the place for an extra day and live like a tourist on The Strip, but it's still very slow during the week, and it's all I can do to remain upright for the entire eight-hour shift.

Thursday night was interesting though. We were well on our way to an $80 night with a casino that was quiet as a tomb and about eight dead games at any given time. It was so bad that about 25 dealers had signed up for the early out, knowing that we weren't going to make any money that night. Then, around 1:00 am, after most of the dead tables had been closed down and everyone who wanted to go was sent home, my buddy Todd was dealing on that new Ultimate Texas Holdem table and managed to deal a Royal Flush to one of our biggest Georges.

Oh hell yeah.

The player had the max bet up on the bonus, and it pays 500 to 1 for a Royal. That works out to a $25,000 payoff. It took about a half-hour to pay him, because we don't normally keep any of the purple $500 checks on that game, so after the surveillance tape was reviewed and the cards were ran down, we had to get Security to bring an extra fill from the cage.

They had just finished paying him off about 15 minutes before I got to the table, and even after he'd tipped us a thousand bucks, he kept me up for $75 a hand once I got there. I managed to drop another $500 or so in the box before beating him three hands in a row and causing him to head over to the dice table.

Luckily it was that particular player that won the hand--he's a very generous tipper--and he made our night, getting us up over the $100 hump that otherwise we would've never seen. We've got some legendary stiffs as regular players, especially those that spend their time playing the carnival games and Pai Gow, so nobody was happier than I was to hear that he'd won big, because he always takes care of us well when he's winning.

Of course, Todd is a dual-rate dealer, meaning sometimes he deals and sometimes he works as a floor supervisor. Ever since that night, however, he's been wearing a suit. Heh. And we give him a lot of shit telling him that his dealing days are over after paying out that hand.

Luckily Friday and Saturday night were much busier, and the money has improved a bit. Last week, however, was the lowest toke total I'd made since becoming a full-time dealer a year ago. Ugh. At least I got to deal dice the last couple of nights, and that makes the last couple of hours of the shift just fly by.

I don't know what games I'll be dealing tonight, but I'm fairly certain it won't be a $5 blackjack game. And while it's not nearly as cool as working for CTU, it'll probably still be an interesting evening.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Rat Bastard

Is there nothing better than the smack talk that goes on at a poker table among friends? Maybe the smack talk that goes with bagging on your buddy's choice of professional/college team favorites, especially after a humiliating loss (Notre Dame and Ohio State fans, please pick up the white courtesy phone...) but for good old-fashioned banter, nothing generates better zingers than laying a beat down on one of your friends at the poker table.

I think my boy LV Terry had the all-time greatest poker smack, after taking a pile of money off of his friends at the poker table, they attacked his most famous weak spot--his love for the Raiders.

Yeah, a Raider fan needs that money to pay off his bookie...

Since a die hard member of The Nation has nothing to fall back on (and they never seem to depend on past glories like obnoxious Cowboys fans always do), Terry had to get 'em where in hurt and remind them of all the money he just took from them.

I'm sorry, does this wallet make my ass look fat?

Absolutely brilliant. There is no comeback to that line. I heard it a month ago and it still makes me chuckle.

When you're on the recieving end of good smack like that, there's nothing you can do but take it. No comeback will suffice, and by the time you think of one, the moment has long passed.

But even worse than taking a ration of shiat from one of your fellow players is when one sucks out with a trash hand and lays down a bad beat on you. And then won't let you forget about it.

For instance:

We had a good group at the table, no real sharks, no real rubes, and it was a fun run of cards. At one point, I looked down and saw Ace-Four of spades, so I called to see a flop. Bam! I flopped the wheel when 2-3-5 rainbow came up. I was in early position, so I led off the betting with an “Oh yeah, I got the wheel” knowing nobody would believe me. My boy Dougie decided to be one of the callers, and I was a little ticked off when a four came on the turn, sabotaging my hand. I called it all the way down at that point, giving Dougie a large ration of smack talk for staying in with 10-6 and claiming my pot. I believe the term ‘Rat Bastard’ actually made an appearance and everybody at the table got a laugh at my expense. I guess Doug felt a little guilty about it, and offered to buy my breakfast later (Of course, it was with MY chips…).

Yep, that happened in March of 2004, during the Original March Madness gathering of degenerates. And ever since then, the 10-6 has worked it's way into my consciousness in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

March Madness IV is just over the horizon and getting closer, and nobody is more excited about it than Dougie. And he's going all-out to remind me of that 10-6 beatdown from three years back.

For instance, a few weeks ago, some enterprising soul hit my Amazon tip jar to the tune of $6.10.
Hmmm... Wonder who that could be. It's totally anonymous, so I have no idea who would've done that...

And then just today as I retrieved the mail, there was an envelope from a PO Box in Idaho. There was no note inside, only a picture of the Imperial Palace (site of this year's March Madness poker tournament), and two playing cards--a six of hearts and a ten of clubs.

Sounds like somebody is trying to send an early message.

So here is my response:

I don't need no wallet to make MY ass look fat! Go ahead and play that trash, Dougie! Not only do I have better poker Kung Fu these days, but I have a ringer in my corner, goes by the name of Sticky, and she's gunning for you, too. You're going down, O'Doyle! (But not today...)

I'm thinking we need to have some sort of side bet action, as in, whoever goes out first has to do something appropriately costly and/or humiliating.

Any suggestions, gang?


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Bold Statement

Coming to the end of a long work week, it's too easy to be a slug. I slept in today till almost 2pm, giving myself almost 9 uninterrupted hours of sleep. It was great. No alarm clock, no errands to run, nobody in town I had to meet, no place to go, nothing to do. I could lie around in my boxers and just chill. So I didn't get out of bed until the middle of afternoon. I'm sure my dad would be proud.

But that laziness carried over. I was very hungry by the time 6:00 pm rolled around, having had nothing to eat in about 18 hours, and the only food in the house is of that must-be-prepared kind. No frozen pizza, no microwave snacks, no open-the-can-and-serve type of munchables on hand of any kind. Yeah, I could've made some stir-fried shrimp and Mediterranean vegetables, or bow-tie pasta with chicken and mushrooms, a nice chef's salad, or even made breakfast for dinner, but I was just too damn lazy today.

So what does one do when your cupboards are full but "there is no food in the house"? Run for the border? That's always an idea, but the closest Taco Bell is damn near impossible to get out of during rush hour traffic. Jack in the Box? Mmmm.... love that idea, but the nearest one is staffed by the completely retarded rejects from the No-Minimum-Wager-Left-Behind-Act, and they're always out of something, lettuce, cheese, french fries, buns... etc., so they never get my business. The next closest Jack in the Box requires me to do a U-turn against the mass of traffic getting off of the highway, so again, time of day works against that option.

McDonalds doesn't appeal to me, although we have the fastest drive-thru in captivity at the Sunset and Eastern location. I just don't like the golden arches very much, unless it's McNuggets, and I wasn't feeling that tonight (McGriddles for breakfast, however, is a different story--all that is holy and good made into a tasty breakfast treat!). And although I haven't eaten at Burger King in over two years, I refuse to eat there again until they stop running those disturbing 'peep show' commercials.

Ooooh, there's always Roberto's Taco Shop, but the last two times I've been there, either my order was messed up (my Spanish isn't nearly good enough for them to understand what I want on my burrito), or the food was missing something and didn't taste quite right. I like Lenny's, but wasn't in the mood for a sub Sandwich and I won't eat at Subway just on general principle (shitty sandwiches, annoying commercials). I could order a pizza from Metro, but I'm about pizza'd out--we have it available at work, and even though it's not very good, it beats a lot of the offerings in the buffet line every night, so a lot of times I just 'run home to mama' and have that.

I would love me some Thai food--but the local joint, as good as it is, is quite expensive. An appetizer of Crab Rangoon, some chicken satay, and a serving of Pad Thai runs about $23. Forget that. I learned that lesson the hard way. Of course, I had some leftovers, but I'd like to have leftovers for about twelve bucks, iffin' I had my druthers, as they say down south. Chinese food is cheap, but it's a poor substitute when you've been thinking about Thai food just a few moments earlier. Besides, most carry-out Chinese food is of the dumbed-down kung pao or sweet and sour pork variety. To find really good Chinese food in this town, I need to put shoes on, head west on Spring Mountain, and run the gauntlet of massage parlors. I just didn't feel up to the task tonight.

So what did that leave me? The only thing I could think of was Del Taco.

Oh yes, my Mexican Food Happy Place. I haven't been there in what seems like months, but it's never disappointed. I remember in October of 2005 when I was so broke that I lived on peanut butter sandwiches and water for three weeks straight, getting that first real paycheck and hitting the ATM at midnight-o-one, grabbing twenty bucks out and spending more than half of it at Del Taco for the first tasty meal I'd had in almost a month.

The more I sat here at my computer thinking about Del Taco, the hungrier I became. There were a few stray bills floating around in my wallet, enough that I didn't have to visit the ATM this time, so off I went. Apparently, I wasn't the only one with a Del Taco craving at the time, because I was sitting in the drive-thru waiting for my turn to order, stuck behind a big white stretch limo. Must've been Burt Reynolds or something.

Theirs is an extensive menu, and I think I've had pretty much everything on it at some time or another, but it's just pricey enough that it remains a 'special occasion' fast food stop. Once a month, tops. Browsing the menu, I opted for a Big Fat Steak Taco (soooo good!) and a Double Del Bacon Cheeseburger.

What? No Macho Burrito? No 99-cent Beaner? No spicy chicken quesadilla???

Nope. One time in the past, I ordered a Bacon Double Del and was amazed at how damn good it was. Them Mexicans make a mean burger! So ordered another one tonight.

I got home a few minutes later and enjoyed every bit of it--it was so good. Like a Big Mac without the extra bread getting in the way. And with better meat and bacon too! The taco was great, also, but like Jules Winfield so famously said, Damn, that *is* a tasty burger!

Unfortunately, I didn't have a watery fountain coke to help wash it down, but there were a few cold cans of Atlanta's finest rolling around in my fridge that somehow managed to avoid being sacrificed to the Rum Gods earlier in the week, so my meal was complete.

And now for the Bold Statement that is likely going to send my comments section into convulsions unseen since the great coleslaw debate of 2005...

I'm here to tell you that I firmly believe that the Double Del Bacon Cheeseburger is even better than an In & Out Double Double Animal Style. And way better than anything those schlubs at Fatburger put out. (Fatburger is dead to me now--too many bad experiences to ever get another dime from me).

Yep. I said it. Del Taco makes a better burger than In & Out.

I know that's heresy to some people, even worthy of banishment in some cultures, but you can't get bacon at In & Out. And bacon is meat candy! Besides, the fries are no good at In & Out. Don't get me wrong, they still make a damn fine burger, but I've got to give the slight edge to Del Taco.

Now if you'll excuse me while I sit here and enjoy a pleasing bacon-burp.

But feel free to light up my comments section telling me that I'm an uncultured cretin and shouldn't be allowed to pass judgement ever again on anything related to food. I can take it.


Monday, January 08, 2007

Back at My Keyboard

Well, here it is Monday afternoon, and I figured I better post something since the natives seem to be getting restless. Sorry gang, there just hasn't been much of anything happening lately that has been interesting enough to write about.

The holidays are officially over, and we're dead slow at work. I don't recall it being as bad last year, and now that the end of the year has passed, I can make a few comments. First of all, comparing final paychecks against last years W-2's from a friend of mine who has been full-time a lot longer, I see that we dealers made almost exactly $8000 less in 2006 than what was made in 2005. Yeah, brilliant move, bringing in all those lower-limit games. Perhaps the casino made more money, but since my bottom line was affected negatively, I don't much care how much the casino made. I *do* know, however, that the ghetto-ization of my casino seems to be in full swing, and our tokes have reflected it for the past several months.

New Years Eve was a perfect example--our friends at xxxxx and xxxxx, according to word on the street, made over $400 a pop that night. We made $171. Nice. Last year, at least we made $240.

I'm thinking it might be time to search for other income options. Whether that means a second job, temp work, or a new job altogether remains to be seen. But the current situation is unacceptable as it stands. And it doesn't seem to be getting any better. They keep adding more and more dealers, and late at night we always seem to have at least five or six dead games with dealers standing around doing nothing. That just kills our toke pool.

Last night was absolutely awful. I was dealing Rapid Roulette, and by the time the computer broke down and chased away our last flea player, we had a whopping seventy-five cents in the electronic toke box. The rest of the pit was absolutely dead, and they had sent home everyone on the E.O. list by midnight. Once the Rapid Roulette table was closed down, I told the assistant shift manager to go ahead an put me on the early out list, as we'd be lucky to crack $80 in tips that night.

Her response was Go ahead and go home now, I don't have a table to put you on.

So with that, I joined the herd of dealers heading for the door at least three hours early. Maybe because so many of us went home early, it might put the day's take over $100 for anyone who stayed the full eight, but I'd be surprised.

Of course, it is the first weekend after the holidays, and some slowdown is to be expected, but damn, we went from a packed casino to what looked like an abandoned warehouse in no time at all.

Anyhow, on my way out the door, I ran into my friend Jen, who I hadn't talked to in a couple of weeks, and she suggested that we go out for a beer. Not a bad plan--it was still early and I was wide awake, so a few minutes later we were sitting at the bar at Chilly Palmer's bitching and moaning like most dealers do during their time off.

Actually, I'm sure I'm sounding a little bitter and pissy, but it's really not that bad. I can't complain too much about the money--it's more than I was making in Nashville at a relatively well-paying but boring job, and usually my job nowadays is anything but boring. It's just that it hasn't lived up to my expectations, as far as the bottom-line is concerned. But I'm making a decent living and all the bills are paid, which is quite a difference from the Dark Times of 2001-2002. It's just that if I were in charge, there would be some obvious changes. And I'd crack the whip on all the hosts and tell them to start bringing in the big players, Or else!

Anyhow. It's looking up. Today is my Friday and I've got the next two days scheduled for doing absolutely nothing except catching up on some reading and doing a little bit of light housework. I might do a bit of blogging if I feel so inspired, but I'm making no promises.

By the way, I'm glad that the BCS Championship game is finally taking place tonight. I think the Powers That Be shot themselves in the foot, though, waiting so long for the game. The 'Bowl Season' seems like it's long over, and I think the BCS should've wrapped it up a week ago, at least before the NFL playoffs started. It really seems to have lost something by waiting this long. But I'm still gonna make my pick, and I choose Florida. If Michigan was the second-best team in the country, playing Ohio State to almost a standstill back in October, then Florida should win the game easily. Michigan got owned by USC, and Florida not only played two more games since Ohio State last took the field, but they had to run the SEC gauntlet to get there. I'd say they are much more experienced/prepared than Ohio State. I'm taking Florida. By the way, did you know that Ohio State is something like 0-7 all-time versus the SEC in Bowl Games? We *all* remember that Clemson game so many years ago...

Peace out. More tomorrow, I promise.


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Waiting For The Milk To Go Bad

I don't know who's more excited about Sticky's upcoming visit--her or me. Both of us are pretty pumped up about it, because, well, it's a Vegas vacation for her, and for me it's an extra day off from work and five days spent with one of my favorite people in the whole world. I just *know* I'm gonna laugh my ass off all week long. And maybe have a drink or two, also.

But it seemed like it was so far away last month--the calendar hadn't changed, and it was still next year, fer cryin' out loud. But now that I've ruined a couple of checks already by forgetting that it's now 2007, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. And I was reminded of it in a most unique way this morning.

On my way home from work, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few essentials, and a couple extra things we'll need for the room (Coke, plastic cups, etc.). But I also needed to get a gallon of milk. The first jug I grabbed had an expiration date of January 16th, the day she arrives! It felt like a good omen to me, so I bought it.

I'm afraid it's gonna be the longest ten days ever, followed by the shortest five days ever.

Regardless, I'll have a good story to tell.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

I Blame Sticky

In case you're wondering about the latest lack of updates, it's not my fault--I'm blaming Sticky for distracting me and keeping me from my blogging duties.

But it's easy to get distracted. We're busy anticipating her upcoming Vegas visit, and when we're not talking about that we're busy daydreaming about other places we'd like to go on vacation sometime in the future. Right now, Sandals Grande St. Lucian is at the top of the list. But that's not based on any type of foreseeable reality, just a happy thought that makes it easier to get out of bed each day.

Of course while we were discussing such fun "What if..." topics like that and kicking around the internet for ideas, I came across this very cool picture:

It's like getting run down by an oceanic biker gang.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Flattered, Actually

Hey, it looks like somebody has taken a snippet of a post I wrote and tried to use it to start a flamewar heated discussion over on the Las Vegas Talk forums. It's kind of interesting though, how that post has been up on T2V for several months without much of a ripple and nobody really taking offense.

But I guess I shouldn't be surprised since LV Talk seems to be a haven for trolls and the focus of the discussions seems to center around maximizing coupons and finding the cheapest buffet. (Hat Tip to Cool Pacific--his words, not mine, but I wish they were!). Avoiding tipping is second nature to some of them.

I made an appropriate response, but it was just off the top of my head and my thoughts weren't clearly organized, so I'm sure it'll stir the pot even further. No biggie. I've spent more time in the smallest room of my house, the one with one seat and no windows, today, than I'll spend on that board over the course of the next six months.

There are some cool people that post over there, but for the most part it seems that every topic devolves into a race to the bottom and a contest to see who can be the most disagreable. So there's a reason I've only got something like 95 comments over there and over 4000 at Travel2Vegas.

But if you're one of those people who refuses to tip, and has said as much in your comments, do me a favor and save yourself the gas money. Don't come out to my casino and play at my table--I don't want to meet you. Go stiff the dealers at Wynn instead. But if you insist on coming by and playing a hand or two just to be able to say that you stiffed me, good for you--now you're both a cheapass *and* a dumbass.

And the Gambling Gods shall seek retribution.

Oh, and as a shareholder, I appreciate your business.


PS. Comments from trolls and stiffs will be deleted with extreme prejudice. My house, my rules. Goonie goo goo, Gus.


Wow, I finally made it through two weeks of crazy at work, and lived to tell about it. I was so exhausted and worn out, and did not want to be anywhere near a casino last night, so the first thing I did once I got there was to sign the Early Out list.


I was ninth on the list, as everyone else had the same idea. I think by the time all was said and done, about 25 people had signed up, hoping to get out. Mondays are generally slow, and especially so after a long holiday weekend. But I had written "It's my Friday--please get me outta here!" next to my name and the shift boss took pity on me, letting me out as soon as we closed down the Rapid Roulette game at 1:30. I was out the door by 2:00 am, and asleep an hour later.

I needed the rest--I hadn't taken but an hour of E.O. time in the past two weeks, and they were the busiest two weeks of the year. We made decent money, too, and I'm thinking this should be my largest paycheck in about the last three or four months! Thank goodness--it's the one I'm using to finance the buffoonery of Sticky's next visit in two weeks.

Anyhow, I'm glad I'm over the holiday hump. I busted my ass these past few weeks and have had no time to do much of anything besides work and sleep.

As tired as I was, I had a bit of mild entertainment last night on the Rapid Roulette game. A backwards-hatted 21-year-old rocket scientist sat down and announced that he had a 'system' to beat the game. Of course when I saw him starting out betting both red and black at the same time, I tried to point out the error of his ways, telling him that there was absolutely no way to win at roulette by betting like that. His condescending response, which cracked up both me and the other dealer, was Clearly you don't know anything about math or statistics!

Alrighty then, genius... Get on with your bad self!

Nobody was happier than I when the double zero was rolled on the next spin. Heh.

I couldn't help myself, since I clearly didn't know anything about math or statistics, so I asked-- So, how's that system of yours account for when that happens?

He didn't have an immediate answer, but everyone else at the table started smirking and taking shots at him.

Then he started on another riff about I guess your pit boss hasn't told you guys about the Double-Down Theory, huh. And then he started trying to explain the well-known Martingale System, which is a guaranteed loser, but anyone who thinks of it believes that they are the first person to discover it.

Yep, the 'pit boss' has been keeping that "theory" a secret from us!

Somebody else at the table chimed in with something along the lines of Yeah Junior, that's called the Martingale system--it's not new or groundbreaking, and dumbasses have been trying it for years thinking that it's unbeatable. Everyone started bagging on the guy and loading up on the zero and double zero, hoping he'd lose every bet. His brother showed up and started telling him what a fool he was and they actually started arguing about it, which was great fun for the rest of us.

His 'system' was that he'd bet *both* sides, red and black, but then doubling up on whichever color that lost. Unfortunately, whenever the ball would land on green, he'd lose both bets. (And the stat tracker showed that we were rolling 0 or 00 almost 10% of the time...)

I've never seen players at the roulette table gang up on a person like they do in poker or even a dark-side bettor in Craps, but this guy's ignorance and arrogance made him an immediate target. When we rolled two zeroes back-to-back and broke him, there was a round of applause from the rest of the players. The other dealer and I could only smirk, but the other players who'd bet large on green insisted on high-fiving us.

He walked away, not-quite-chastened, but still down two hundred bucks, when one of the other, older, smart-assed players called out Hey, how's that system of yours working out, Baby Einstein? causing everyone within earshot to laugh.

I guess that was the highlight of the evening, because the guy was so arrogant and insisted that he could beat the game. And because he was arguing with the rest of the players who obviously knew better (he kept shaking his head and rolling his eyes like he was dealing with a bunch of morons), it was nice to see him get an object lesson in the concept of gambler's ruin.

I see a lot of different players in the course of a day at the office, and for the most part, I'm hoping they win big. But every now and then, I'll see somebody that deserves a beat-down, and nothing tickles me more than when it happens to somebody who's got it coming.

And he had it coming.

Unfortunately, after that, we started killing everyone else's bankrolls and the table went dead after about 1:00 am so we shut it down. But I was cool with that--I was tired and ready to go home.

And I've got nothing at all going on today--it's a wonderful relaxing day that I get to spend lounging around and doing nothing. No errands to run, no to-do list to tackle, and no place I have to be.

Maybe some inspiration will find it's way to me and I'll do some writing.

Or maybe not.


Monday, January 01, 2007

First Post

Good Morning, er, afternoon, and welcome to 2007.

Work was incredibly busy last night, as you might imagine, and my plan was to just come straight home and go to bed once I got cut loose. Funny how your friends can ruin your good intentions, though. Instead of going home and remaining sober as a judge, I ended up with a group of fellow degenerates at our local watering hole celebrating the New Year just a few hours later than the rest of the world. I crawled home around 7 am this morning, turned on ESPN hoping to catch the early bowl games, which I slept through, of course, but at least I was lucid enough to remember to record the Rose Parade.

Right now I'm moving very slowly, and will probably spend most of the rest of the afternoon lounging in front of the tube watching the Rose Bowl before heading back to one last night of work at the end of a very long week. Lunch, today, will consist of bottled water, Advil, and a vitamin.