Saturday, August 30, 2008

Labor Day Weekend

I'm getting hardly any traffic on the weekends, and holiday weekends are especially slow. So I'm gonna take a little vacation from writing for a few days. I have to work all weekend anyways.

Y'all have a good one!

Catch up to ya on Monday. Maybe Tuesday.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Frustrated Incorporated

Thus far, my day off has been quite uneventful, although I now have solid evidence that my new egg-crate mattress pad helps me to sleep. Not only did I get a good solid six hours of sleep last night, but after my morning update, well, I got a few more.

Once I got up and was kicking around the house, I was just about to get in the shower and head over to the grocery store when my favorite gal Beth called, causing me to drop everything and dive for the phone.

Anyhow, we talked for a bit, but then tried to jive our schedules together, and between now and next weekend, there is just no window of opportunity to spend time together. Ugh! Weekends are out right now because of my work schedule and she's got her daughter, and it's a bit too soon to introduce me into that mix. She goes in to work at 6 pm most weeknights, and I work every day until 2 (sometimes later, when it's busy). And even if we tried to squeeze a lunch date in there, she has to go get the young-un from school at three every day.

Worse yet, this coming week is the very first time I've been scheduled for a full forty hours since I transferred to the poker room, and my only two on-call days, where I could conceivably make plans, well, those are the two days that Beth is working at the spa! Talk about irritating coincidences...

So, after kicking around our calendars for about five minutes, she suggested that we just wait until the week after next. I'm cool with that--there's just no way to spend any time together outside of work for the next ten days--but damn, I don't wanna wait that long to see her! On the bright side, I've got another manicure appointment with her a week from tomorrow, and we're hoping that I'm her last client of the day. Not that we're making any plans for after her workday--she has to stick around in case somebody shows up at the last minute, which they always seem to do on Fridays--but at least then we can make some plans for the following week while I'm there.

Just once, I'd like this shiat to be easy. The gals I'm ambivalent about? They always seem to be available. The one girl I want to see the most? We can't even carve out two hours of common free time over the next ten days.

Oh well. I guess that means that it'll be that much sweeter once it finally happens...


Knocking Out A Few More Emails

Since so many people have asked, and it'll save me from sending the same email over and over again, these are the sunglasses that I got. Instead of the tortoise-shell frames featured in the pic, I went with plain black, and I also got mine with the 'Spring Creek Copper' lenses. They fit my head perfectly, and they look better than I thought they would. I must've gone through hundreds of different online sites for prescription sunglasses, but luckily I stumbled onto this one. It's bookmarked of course, and I'm actually thinking of getting a second pair, just because this pair exceeded my expectations and I know my history with expensive sunglasses.

And after yesterday's deliver of books, clothes, and sunglasses, I think I'm down to waiting for just one more box from Amazon to be delivered early next week, and then all of my goodies will have arrived. Now that I've got all these new books, I wish I were going on a cruise next week so that I could lay around on deck in a chaise lounge reading them while sipping on umbrella drinks and watching the ocean roll by. But, no such luck--I'll be working instead.

But don't cry for me, Argentina, because things aren't that bad. The money has been great lately, and I actually enjoy what I do. And just when I was beginning to let the doubts creep in about my newest favorite lady since I hadn't heard from her in a couple of days, well, sometime in the middle of the night last night my phone was going off. She sent me a text message saying that she hadn't forgotten about me but that she'd been swamped the past two days. That was an unexpected bonus which made my day. So I'll give her a call in a few hours and see if we can't schedule some 'together time' at some point over the next few days.

Other than that, there's not much else going on around here.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Well, That Was A Quick Famine...

I thought that the deadness at work would last longer than a week, but apparently I was wrong. Not only did I get that dreaded middle-of-the-night phone call from the poker room again this morning, but I also had to stay and work overtime today, too.

What truly sucked is that I was wide awake again until around 2:30 or so this morning, got maybe an hour's worth of sleep, and then the call came -- Get here as soon as you can!

I thought it would be a juicy no-limit game, but instead, it was five drunks playing 4/8. Ugh. And after 45 minutes or so, it got down to three-handed. The three remaining guys made it about another half-hour before the game broke down completely.

Luckily I'd made about $50 off of those guys because then I sat dead doing nothing for the next three hours.

When the 8:00 am dealer got there, we still didn't have enough of the old guys in attendance to get a game started, and the ones that were there were telling me to hop in the game on my break and help 'em get the game going. Finally around 9:00 am, there were four of them sitting around the table, myself, and the other dealer. The card room manager was in working the floor/cashier duties today, and of course she *always* wants to get a game going, so I volunteered to play on the clock. Yep, the house was payin' me my whopping hourly wage, but I had to use my own bankroll to play. Not a bad deal--getting paid to play poker--but the only downside is that we're not allowed to check-raise the other players when we're on the clock. (The object is to help the game get going, not beat the hell out of them and make them go broke).

So I ditched my work shirt, stripping down to my black t-shirt, and bought in for $60. The funny thing is, all the old guys always hassle me, telling me to get in their game all the time, but I *rarely* play limit poker anymore. And I've dealt to them often enough to know how to play 'em. I know when they've got the goods and I know when they're on a draw.

Not that I'm a poker-master, but honestly, I felt a little bit like Mike McD sitting in on the Judge's game--it was that easy. And in the half-hour I was sitting in, I made another fifty bucks, and I wasn't even playing aggressively. By then, the table had filled up, so the rule is that the 'prop' players have to get up once the game gets ten players, so as to leave the 'Elijah seat' open for any player that happens to come by the poker room. So I cashed out, put my shirt back on, and a few minutes later, I was back in the box dealing to 'em instead of playing with them.

I was hope hope hoping that I'd be able to get out at eleven, when the fourth dealer came in, but no, it was not to be. The third dealer came in at ten, and since we only had the one game going, I got sent on a double break--my boss said I was likely to go home at eleven, but she had to keep me around to see how many people signed up for the daily tournament.

So I headed back to the dining room, and then got a seat in the corner of the 'quiet room' for an hour. I had brought the ear-buds for my cellphone with me, so I popped those in and used my phone as an iPod--I put a random playlist on the memory card last week--and sat in one of the massage chairs and promptly fell asleep for about 45 minutes.

I woke up, not quite refreshed, and stumbled back across the casino to the card room. I had my fingers crossed that I'd get sent home, but nope, not only did we have enough players for a tournament, but we also had eight more players on the waiting list for the cash games. Guess who opened a new table as soon as he got back from break... Yep. That'd be me. That's when the boss came by and gave me the bad news--not only was I not going home early, but I'd likely have to stay a couple hours overtime.

Of course, I'd rather work than not work, so I didn't complain, but damn was I tired. I think it was worse because it was so unexpected. I showed up at work this morning thinking it would be a cake-walk day with bad money and an early exit. But I was wrong. I made great money, plus another fifty as a prop player, and picked up some overtime.

When I finally got cut loose at 2 pm, I was one tuckered out little trooper. I was so beat. And to make matters worse, in my haste to get to the casino in a hurry earlier in the morning, I'd forgotten to bring my sunglasses, so not only was I fatigued beyond normal, I couldn't see shiat when I was driving--it was so frickin' bright that I had to squint all the way home. And seriously, I almost rear-ended two different people in the span of about five minutes.

I didn't come straight home though--being a more responsible grown-up type nowadays, I stopped at the bank to deposit most of my cash, and I also picked up a cold drink to sip on. When I finally got back to the house, there were three boxes waiting for me on the porch.

I picked them all up and came upstairs to my room. Armed with a box-cutter, I set about opening my goodies. I got a couple of sailing books (Yay!), my new Rams fleece pullover and ASU t-shirt, and finally, my prescription sunglasses had also arrived. I was really apprehensive about the sunglasses--I took a huge risk ordering them online, but damn, I was really impressed. They fit perfectly, they look great, and they are by far the best pair of sunglasses I've ever owned. (and I've paid big $$$ in the past for designer glasses by Nike and Claiborne that weren't nearly as well made). Talk about a pleasant surprise! If I hadn't been so tired, I would've gone out driving around just to try them out. I got the bronze polarized lenses in them, and coupled with my prescription, everything looks amazingly clear when I wear them. Experience has taught me that the best sunglasses are the ones designed for snow-skiers or fishermen, and that's what I got--glasses designed specifically for sportsmen--so not only are the lenses top-quality, but the frames feel damn near bulletproof.

So between my toys arriving and the big day at the office, it's been a pretty damn good day so far.

I managed to get a cat-nap for a couple of hours, but between the phone ringing and the dogs seeking attention, a real catch-up nap was out of the question. I'm on-call the next two days, but word is that I'll very likely be working on Friday. I also have to work the whole weekend, and I'm actually scheduled for a full 40 hours next week plus the other two days I'm on-call--I don't have one day I can call my own.

It appears that the feast may have begun again...


Good Things

I managed to get a lot done today, although it was nice to sleep in past 10:00 am. Even then, I still lingered over a pot of coffee and the internet for an hour or two.

Eventually, I felt like I shouldn't be so slothful, and I got busy doing little projects here around the house. I dug through a couple of storage boxes, throwing some stuff away, organizing other stuff, and gathered up a few of my favorite framed photos to hang on the wall.

I also got my closet about halfway cleaned up. Since I moved in, it's basically just been a catch-all for unused clothes, boxes, and other random junk. Now all the 'winter' clothes are at the far end, the occasional stuff is in the middle, and the more common stuff is all hung up at the other end, while all of my t-shirts have been folded and put in drawers.

I also laundered my sheets and pillowcases today--the thought of dog hair on my bed makes my skin crawl--and the critters have jumped up on my bed twice this past week. Besides, I needed to take the sheets off anyways because I had to put on my new egg-crate pad. I'm laying on it right now as I type this, and it's pretty damn comfy. I'm hoping that I sleep better tonight.

Not that I did nothing but work today, there was plenty of goofing off involved with my day off. I was feeling rather smug and superior after my online poker victories, so I decided to play in a couple of more expensive tournaments this afternoon. Of course, the poker gods decided to smite me down with furious anger, as my flopped top-set of nines got an all-in raise from some poor schmuck who had the bad luck to be holding pocket Aces at the time. So I gave him the action he was begging for, and his third Ace came on the river, knocking me out in sixth place.


I immediately signed up for another tourney, because I felt like I was still playing very well. I was doing ok, holding my own, but observed one other player bullying the table, going all-in way too often. On my big blind, he just limped in, and I had Queen-Jack suited, so I just checked. I got a Jack and a Queen on the flop, and my opponent bet. I raised, he just called. The turn brought another Jack, giving me Jacks full of Queens. My opponent checked, I bet, and he went all-in. Of course I called--there was only one hand that could possibly beat me, and he certainly hadn't played like somebody who would limp in with pocket Queens. But that's what he had, and like Smokey said to Deebo, I got knocked the f*ck out!

And sticking with pertinent movie quotes, it's like Cheech said to Costner in Tin Cup -- You humble now, Holmes...

So my previous rush that had built my little PokerStars stake up to over a hundred bucks in two days is now over, and my account has a whopping twenty cents left in it. I guess it's about time to get back to my bread-and-butter--live tournaments down on the Strip--where every day is like Friday at the Elks Lodge. All-you-can-eat fish!

After getting my ass handed to me at the electronic poker tables and my chores were done, well, once I decided to quit working on them, I was feeling pretty hungry. I hadn't eaten anything but a handful of peanuts and a pot of coffee in over 24 hours, so I decided to go get some food. Again, because of not being home for most of the past three weeks, I have no groceries in the house, and I still haven't gone shopping. I was still feeling too lazy to do that, plus I didn't want to go grocery shopping when I was hungry, else I'd come home with a bunch of stuff I probably shouldn't be eating anyways.

However, I decided to treat myself to something tasty and I was craving some good border-style Mexican food, so I headed for Roberto's Taco Shop for one of their monster-sized carne asada burritos. (Hey, it's got a bunch of veggies in it...).

While I was waiting for my burrito to be made, I moseyed over to the 'salsa bar' and helped myself to a baggie full of pickled carrots. For those of you from places where it snows that aren't familiar with the awesome goodness that is Mexican-style pickled carrots, you are truly missing out on a culinary treat.

I don't know how they're made, but it's basically raw jalapeƱos, onions, and carrots mixed together in what I guess is vinegar, cilantro, and some other spices, then left to marinate together for some undetermined amount of time, until everything tastes like jalapeƱo. The carrots are still fresh--they still snap like fresh veggies should, but holy shiat do they taste so much better than regular carrots. I could eat them all day long, but before I filled up on them, my burrito was ready.

Again, those of you from cold places that aren't privy to the tasty goodness of the loosely confederated chain of Filiberto's, Alberto's, Roberto's, Humberto's, and Delberto's taco shops that populate the American southwest, you don't know what you are missing. I discovered them more than 20 years ago back in San Diego, and as soon as I escaped the northern latitudes of Idaho and Alaska, and moved down to Phoenix in 1992, it was my first meal after I got settled into my first apartment.

Yeah, they have great tacos and such, but the burritos are the main attraction. And my favorite is the carne asada variety. Each one is huge--easily weighing about a full pound, stuffed to the gills with grilled marinated steak, pico de gallo, and guacamole. It's not something you can eat every day, but like White Castles, once you get the craving, nothing else will satisfy you. And you can't get a burrito without getting a side of rolled tacos with guacamole, either. With all that, and the pickled carrots, it's a damn good meal. And like the chicken fried steak at the Peppermill, it's not one you're gonna finish, but you'll have a helluva good time trying.

Once I waved the white paper napkin of surrender, I made my way back to the homestead in time for the nightly coverage of the WSOP on ESPN. But waiting for me on the entry table when I got home were a few nice surprises. Actually, I'm expecting several packages this week, and the first one of course was the least-anticipated one--my black work pants. Yay. But there was also a letter for me from one of my old creditors which I'd paid off several months ago. Thinking they wanted to sell me something, I almost threw it away without opening it.

Instead, I brought it upstairs and set it on my desk and forgot about it for a few hours. But I finally opened it up awhile later and was pleasantly surprised to see a check made out to me for $55. Apparently, I'd overpaid when I retired my debt.

That kinda made my day.

Anyhow, that was about the extent of my evening. It's back to work tomorrow morning for several hours of sitting on my ass waiting for a game to start, then a couple of hours of dealing a boring limit game where the pot rarely gets over $20.

Hopefully I can make a little scratch somehow.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I Am A Very Bad Man

Not for the usual reasons that come to mind, of course, but just because lately I've become allergic to responding to email.

I don't know why that is, but I *do* read it all, and I intend to answer it all. But most of the time, I get it when I come home from work, and there's a pile of 'em stacked up. And the thought of answering them all at once is just too much to deal with after a long and mentally challenging day at the office. Plus, I always want to write back to everyone and put some thought into my messages, answering questions, giving each person their due attention, but man, after a couple dozen or so, it just gets to be too much work.

So please don't be angry with me or wish bad things like a painful groinal-area rash upon me because I haven't responded to your emails. I haven't responded to anyone's emails in almost a month. I'm not being uppity or think I'm too good to respond to you all, but some days it's overwhelming. Couple that with the hectic month I've had at work, and some things get put on the back burner and a lot of times I just forget about 'em. Now that things have slowed down (almost too much), I can do a better job of keeping up.

I'd ask for patience, but then that would mean I'd be answering answering all that email, eventually, which I'd like to do. But I can't promise that, so I'll ask for forgiveness instead, because a bunch of them are gonna slip through the cracks.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Ghost Town

Today was about as typical a Monday as you can imagine--nothing really went wrong, but then again, nothing went really right, either.

I couldn't sleep at all last night--I was restless, and I kept seeing the glowing digital clock on the cable box every time I turned over, and the mental anguish of thinking Ok, I have to get up in three hours, then two hours, etc. just sucked. I finally fell asleep around 4:00 am, getting about 45 good minutes of sleep. Ugh.

Of course, I reset my alarm for 15 more minutes, but it didn't help much. I grabbed one of those Starbuck's double-shot energy drinks out of the mini-fridge on my way out the door, hoping that it would give me a jump start on my drive to the casino.

As you probably already knew, there was no game going when I got to the poker room--just one lonely floorman watching an empty room. At least he had about ten TVs to keep him company. So we sat down at one of the tables and just chatted for about two hours. We still didn't have a game going at 8:00 when the next dealer came in, so I took off for the dining room and got some breakfast. I came back a half hour later--still no game. A random player or two would walk by, but since there was no game going, they'd leave--nobody wanted to play short-handed.

We finally got a game going around 10:00 am, four hours after I arrived. Oh, and we had two dealers coming in at 11:00, so it didn't look like I'd be making much money this day. I figured I'd get cut out at 11:00, but miraculously, they rounded up enough players to hold a tournament, so I made it all the way to 1:00 in the afternoon, but it was one of my worst money-days ever.

After getting out of work, I drove over to Linens & Things, thinking that my ultra-firm bed is what's been contributing to my lack of sleep lately, and they were having a huge sale. So I picked up a queen-sized egg-crate mattress pad for about twenty bucks. I looked around a bit, thinking of buying some new pillows or maybe a new comforter set, but nothing really blew my skirt up, so the mattress pad was the extent of my shopping.

On the way home, I called up my favorite gal, seeing if we were on for lunch later this week. But I caught her in the chair at the hairdresser, and we talked for a minute or two, but she "had a bunch of goo in her hair" right then, and told me she'd call me back later.

Unfortunately, she had to go to work after that, and I came home and took a nap, so I never heard from her. But I know that Tuesday and Wednesday are out, so I guess I'll talk to her at some point later in the week. It sucks being on completely opposite schedules, plus she has a kid, so that throws up another level of difficulty. We'll see. Hell, I may be completely off-base anyways as far as she's concerned--I've said before, she's so far out of my league that it's almost comical.

Once I got up from my nap, I decided to ride my hot hand at PokerStars, and got into another sit-n-go. Yeah, I won it. Now I've got my stake back again after almost completely cashing out last week. So I decided that instead of a sit-n-go, I'd play in one of those big $20 tourneys with a huge field. The one I got into went about 500 people, and I made it down to 196th place--my Aces got cracked by three Queens, knocking me out a hundred places away from the money.

I waited awhile, and right now, while I'm making this update, I'm playing in another $20 sit-n-go. But I've been card dead for the entire tournament, so I've gotta catch a monster in the next two orbits or I'm going out in sixth place. Ugh.

I'm on-call again tomorrow, but the poker room is so dead that I'm *sure* I'll have the day off. Of course, I've got lots of little projects to do, plus I'm about two weeks behind on answering email, so my day is pretty much covered if I don't get too lazy.

Y'all have a good one.


PS. Got second place in that latest SNG for a $54 payoff. Woot!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Night, Back At The Ranch

Howdy gang! I hope you've all had a wonderful weekend. Mine was fairly sedate, although I got a lot done. I stayed home on Friday night and took a truckload of junk that I decided I didn't need anymore to the dumpster--there's a strip mall within spitting distance of the house, so I waited until after dark and availed myself to their dumpsters, getting rid of some stuff I've been carrying around for far too long. That was about the highlight of my evening, because I had to work on Saturday.

Luckily it wasn't the early shift, but it was still kind of a grind. I went in at 11:00, and spent the day doing two downs and one up, making good, but not great, money. When a couple of 5:00 pm dealers came in, I got cut loose, but I didn't mind. I felt pretty tired and just wanted a shower and a beer.

However, I got two compliments on my nails while I was at work--I'm tellin' ya, women notice that stuff--so as I was leaving, I sent Beth a text message telling her that I was drummin' up business for her with my purty fangers. She answered me right back, so I called her. We had a nice chat on my drive home, but she was getting ready to go out to dinner with her brother and his wife, so no, my evening was spent at home alone. I did all kinds of fun stuff like laundry and cleaning the bathroom, although I sifted through the listing of local poker tournaments for about a half-hour before giving up.

I made the mistake of sleeping with my bedroom door open, and around 6:00 am I was awakened by two oversized golden retrievers jumping up on my bed with stuffed animals in their mouths, begging me to play with them. I gave them far less attention than they wanted, and shooed them away after just a minute or two. I slept for another two hours before reaching over and turning on the coffeemaker.

Since it was my day off and I had absolutely no commitments, I lounged around in bed reading and drinking coffee for several hours. It was almost a perfect Sunday morning. I finally got up and showered, then got dressed and was suddenly stumped for something to do. Again, I was wanting to go play poker, but I was also kind of hungry, having not eaten anything since leaving work the previous afternoon. The only thing I had in the kitchen was English muffins, yogurt, and orange juice, and that didn't really turn my crank in the middle of the afternoon, so I tried thinking of a good local restaurant where I could have lunch.

I considered Settebello, as it's just down the street, but I just wasn't in the mood for pizza. Then I thought about what's good over at Green Valley Ranch or at The District. I remembered that Lucille's BBQ has been on the to-do list for some time, and as soon as I thought of it, BBQ sounded like a damn fine idea. So I headed off towards The District.

It was about 3:30 in the afternoon when I got there, and when I walked in, I could see that the restaurant was only about half-full. I told the chick at the hostess stand that I'd just need a table for one, and she handed me a pager and said that it would be a few minutes.

I was kind of taken aback, because there were clearly plenty of tables available, and about a dozen servers milling about doing not much.

Really? I need a pager for a single top? Are you guys short-staffed today?

She hemmed and hawed for a moment, unable to admit that she'd just given me the pager out of habit, and finally said Well, there's immediate seating in the bar.

That was fine with me, so I grabbed a corner table and opened the menu that was already there waiting for me. I knew I didn't want any appetizers, because I figured that if it was any kind of respectable 'cue joint, the main course would be more than enough food.

After spending quite a bit of time perusing the appetizer and drink menu, along with the regular menu, I decided that I'd have the two-meat combo, so I went with the baby-back ribs and brisket, and for sides I chose the honey-roasted peanut slaw and BBQ beans. And it came with biscuits that were served with some sort of honey/cinnamon butter. I was impressed early on when I found out that not only was Lucille's a 'Coke' place, but they also served it in Mason Jars, just like grandpa's lemonade.

I sat there nibbling on my biscuits and sipping my Coke, reading my magazine and waiting for the food to show up.

It didn't take long, and I was quite impressed. I got a half-slab of ribs, a large hunk-o-brisket, my two sides, and a wedge of seedless watermelon. They had three different bottles of BBQ sauce on the table, and I think I found the perfect combination by mixing their classic mop sauce with the hot-n-spicy offering.

The beans were very good--swimming in a sweet and smoky sauce, cooked just one minute past al-dente. And the sauce had some sort of piggy goodness floating around in it. I don't know if it was bacon, fatback, hamhocks, or what, but whatever it was, it sure was good and it didn't taste like it was good for you. The cole slaw was interesting--it was a vinegar based dressing, with shredded cabbage, both green and red, plus carrots, and big chunks of sweet peppers. And the whole dish was covered with finely chopped honey-roasted peanuts. It was pretty good--nothing like I expected, and my only gripe was that the cole slaw was more room temperature than cool. Maybe I'm an oddball, but I prefer that stuff to be colder.

The brisket was fork tender--seriously--no knife needed! It had just enough smokiness to it to give it some good flavor, and I was happy to try all the different varieties of sauce with it. But the highlight of the plate was the baby-back ribs. They were really tasty. After one bite I was kicking myself for getting the combo plate. Not that the brisket wasn't good, but the ribs were just so much better. Truly, god had smiled upon that pig, for it brought much happiness. Anthony Bourdain is right when he speaks about the pig being a superior animal to the cow. Not that I don't love me some tasty beef, but damn, a pig, slow smoked over hickory wood and dipped in a sweet sauce, well, that's just a bit of heaven on a plate as far as I'm concerned.

I nibbled and sucked every last bit of meat off of those bones, happily making a mess of my face and hands. The rest of the meal was pretty damn good, but those ribs stood head and shoulders above everything else.

I would go so far as to say it was the best BBQ I've had in Vegas. Granted, I'm not drawing on lots of experience, as my visits to both Salt Lick and Memphis Championship were downright awful, and the BBQ at Ellis Island was the best I'd had since I left Nashville. But Lucille's, well, they're doing it right. Not bad for a smokehouse based in Orange County instead of Kansas City or Possum Holler, Tennessee.

As my meal was winding down, my waitress brought me a plate with a rolled up hot-and-wet towel to clean myself up with. Coupled with the free refills and CNN on the TV, I almost felt like I was flying first-class. And yeah, Lucille's, compared to many of the roadside stands I've visited in the south, is a first class operation. No picnic tables, no flies, no paper plates. And no Wonder Bread with my meat, either. I enjoyed the air conditioning and the blues music being piped in overhead, and if they could just figure out a way to combine a little honeysuckle smell in with the wood smoke, maybe throw in a few lightning bugs around dusk, well, then I'd forget that the authentic BBQ I was grubbin' on was being served in Henderson Nevada.

I couldn't enjoy such a fine southern meal like that without trying dessert. Oh, they had stuff like chocolate cake and Snickers pie on the menu, but if you're gonna go full-on southern style, there are only two desserts to choose from--cobbler or banana pudding. And when my waitress told me that the seasonal fruit was peaches, well, that sealed the deal.

I ordered mine with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, just as god intended. It came out piping hot, full of about three whole peaches worth of fruity goodness inside, garnished with whipped cream and a mint sprig, the ice cream slowly melting into a pool across the sugary crust, seeping down into the fruit below.

It was a fine epilogue to a very fine meal, and as much as I wanted to eat it all, I just couldn't finish the job. I was stuffed.

My meal came to about $38 before tip--not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, but they gotta pay for that air conditioning and indoor plumbing, unlike most of the joints I've seen in my travels. I toked it up to $45 and waddled out of there, pleasantly surprised that I can find great BBQ in my neighborhood, even if I have to pay a premium for it.

I will certainly be going back!

My plan after dinner was to fill up my gas tank and then head down to Planet Hollywood and play in one of their evening tournaments. But just as I was pulling into the gas station, I realized that it was Sunday night--time for another T2V tourney at PokerStars.

I called Dougie to see if it was still on--there had been talk of a cancellation due to most of the buffoons being involved in their fantasy football draft which overlapped the poker tournament. He said it was still on, but likely to be sparsely attended.

So after I filled my tank, I headed home instead of to the Strip, logged on, and saw that I was the third player registered, with 20 minutes to go before the cards were in the digital air. So I sent a mass text-message to all my favorite donkeys that said MULTI-TASK, BITCHES!, hoping to drum up some more players.

Unfortunately, that didn't work--most of them have a hard enough time playing cards, much less trying to avoid drafting players who are out for the season, so our tournament kicked off with a whopping six players at the table. And adding insult to injury, they'd set the table up so that everyone was on my left. What the...?

As you can imagine, it went fairly quickly until we got down to heads-up play. Yep, I was one of the final two, but Little Drew had me covered about 6-1 in chips. But I worked my way back to even, although it seemed like that bastard had two pair every time I had an Ace, pissing me off time after time.

I finally got him though, when he had the bad sense to go all in on a flush draw when I had two pair. He never got that fourth spade, and well, they ended up playing the Mikey National Anthem there on the podium at the conclusion. So now I'm the first multiple-winner of the T2V Sunday Tournament, and I get to talk shiat for a week, even though I only had to beat five people to get there. I'll take it, though.

Anyhow, that's the weekend. I've got to work first thing in the morning, and even though I have no scheduled days off until next Monday, and Beth works every night, I'm gonna call her tomorrow and hopefully we can work out a time to go out for lunch or find some sort of Vegas-style buffoonery to do together this week.

And just because I'm an immature dork with too much time on my hands, I set her ringtone on my phone to She's A Lady, by Tom Jones, while I changed Kimmy's to The Thrill Is Gone by BB King. Of course, I'll never hear that one. Kimmy stopped calling me two months ago.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Imperial Fleet Week, San Francisco

Unfortunately, I'm not gonna be able to make it up to the Bay Area this week. Looks interesting, though.


An Absolutely Wonderful Friday

Hey gang. Sorry for the DMV buzzkill post yesterday, but well, I guess it serves to keep me on an even keel, especially after my previous day.

But the pendulum is swinging back to the good side today.

First of all, last night, I was sick of hanging out in the house, and wanted to get out and do something. Plus, I was hungry. The ironic thing is that I didn't even *think* to go play in a poker tournament, which is usually my fallback position whenever I'm bored. Normally, my natural laziness overcomes my hunger, and I just skip the eating dinner part and figure Oh well, I can go into work early tomorrow and eat before my shift, and that usually settles the matter. But then I realized that I wouldn't be working today--the poker room is about as dead as a Hummer dealership on the day gas hit four bucks a gallon.

I considered going down to the casino and eating in one of the nicer restaurants, then maybe finding my way to the slot machines in a certain someone's section, but I thought that would be kinda lame. First of all, I hate-hate-hate being in the casino on my day off. Second of all, I don't play slots. And third of all, I thought it would be the wrong move at this point. I mean, yeah, I kinda like this gal, but really, what good would it do me? A man's got to know his limitations, and after that whole Kimmy episode, I'm all too aware of those limitations.

So I scrapped that idea...

Instead, I decided to haul my ass over to Summerlin and have dinner at Chicago Brewing Company. I grabbed my still-unread August issue of Poker Pro magazine, found my car keys, and headed for the door. Sitting on the table at the base of the stairs was my first box from Amazon, which contained three books I'd ordered; the Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide-Tournament Edition, It's Never Too Late To Get Rich, and The Best Travel Writing of 2008.

So I grabbed the travel writing book and headed out.

It's about a half-hour's drive out to CBC on the west side, but traffic was light at that late hour. The restaurant is open 24 hours, and I was tempted to sit out on the patio and eat since it was such a nice night outside, but I wanted to do some reading, so I opted for the empty dining room.

I knew before I got there what I was going to have--a plate of calamari, a bowl of French onion soup, and a half-order of those amazing garlic knots. The waitress also gave me the rundown on their beer specials, and they still have that awesome Blueberry-Vanilla wheat beer, plus the Belgian Saison, but now they also offered a light Peach beer.

That sounded excellent, so I ordered a glass of that. My calamari showed up just a few minutes later, and as much as I wanted to sit and read, I was drawn in to watching the Olympics on the big screen. I've kind of been doing a personal Olympic boycott for the past several years, just because the coverage on NBC is so bad. And for the most part, all those 'compelling' stories are pretty much the same year after year. Yeah, athlete trained hard and sacrificed, blah blah blah... Maybe I'm just cynical, but I'm just not into it.

Besides, the ONE thing I wanted to see, Michael Phelps getting his 8th gold medal, wasn't shown live. Nope, I tuned in only to have to sit through the frickin' women's marathon that nobody cared about. Brilliant programming decision at NBC, once again.

So that's why I wasn't into the Olympics. But I had to admit, watching the track events was quite entertaining, and it quelled my cynicism for several hours. Besides, if you can't enjoy stuff like this,

well then, I have to question your patriotism.

Actually, it was just the men's events I was watching, but hey, you liked those pictures, admit it.

Anyhow, the peach beer was excellent--very crisp and refreshing, and the calamari was just as good as it's always been. Once the first course was gone, I decided to go with a glass of the Belgian Saison beer--it's a bit heavier and spicier, and honestly, I didn't think a peach-flavored beer would go so well with all of the onions and garlic I was about to consume.

The onion soup was very good, but not great. It was thoroughly enjoyable, but compared to some of the other versions I've had around town, it was somewhat pedestrian. It didn't have that zip that I'm used to, and the cheese melted on top was just plain old Swiss, not the more upscale Gruyere. But that didn't stop me from eating every last drop, minus of course those few that found their way to the front of my shirt.

The garlic knots were oh-my-god good, as expected, and I even took the time to send Lars a text message that said Mmmm... Garlic donuts... I'm sure he appreciated it.

I lingered over my dinner, enjoying the good food, the thrill of victory, and small talk with the bored waitress (I was her only table). Before I finished, I ordered a small pepperoni & mushroom pizza to go, which I'm eating as I type this.

Once I got home, I just cleared some space on my DVR, watching the season finale of In Plain Sight (a great show, by the way), and Anthony Bourdain in Puerto Rico. His trip was a bit different than mine, although he seemed to capture the essence of the island perfectly. He may have sampled more local cuisine that I did, but he never got a tattoo in the back room of a dingy bootleg record store while sitting in an old dentist's chair, by a guy who spoke absolutely *no* English, either. That place certainly wasn't listed in the Lonely Planet guide, I'm sure.

Anyhow, I went to bed sometime around 2:00 am, unafraid of having my phone ring. I knew I wasn't gonna get called in. I could almost guarantee that are more angels dancing on the head of a pin than there were poker players in our room at 3:00 am. So I thoroughly enjoyed my full-night's sleep.

I set my alarm for 9:00 am this morning, why, I don't know. Yeah, I've got stuff to do, but nothing beats lying around in bed like a sloth on your day off. Once it woke me up, I turned it off and slept for another hour or so, enjoying the cool breeze of the ceiling fan and the knowledge that the day was mine.

I finally crawled out of bed and some point and got started on my day. The priority for the day was to head over to the spa and get my manicure done with one of my favorite gals. So I did the unthinkable on my day off and actually shaved. That's a big no-no, and it definitely goes against the Bachelor's Code (they're more like guidelines, actually), but I had to make myself look good. Or at least presentable.

I found a clean and unwrinkled shirt, got dressed, and headed out. Of course I got hassled at the security gate again--they didn't have my name on the list, again, so I had to pull over and wait like some dude at the McDonalds' drive-thru who orders a McRib with no sauce. A few minutes later, my credentials checked out, and I was allowed entrance into the Holiest of Holies.

Once I got to the spa, I checked in at the desk and they said that Beth would be with me in just a few minutes. From my seat in the corner, I could see in the mirror that she was finishing off a pedicure for a lady, so I chilled for a few minutes, enjoying the fact that my cellphone holds almost as many songs as my iPod does.

Just about the time I was about to air-guitar along with the solo at the end of Free Bird, Beth came out and told me she was ready for me, saving me from embarrassing myself further in front of all the rich old ladies getting their hair done.

She went to work on my nails, and we had a great conversation. I was her last client of the day, and instead of it taking just a half hour, she spent an hour with me. Not only did I get a first-class manicure, but she gave me a wonderful hand massage, too. That's something I'd never had before--a hand massage. And for somebody who uses their hands constantly for work, it was quite the blissful experience. I told her, jokingly, that next time I was there, screw the manicure, I just want a hand massage for an hour.

Anyhow, here's the story about Beth and I. We went out once in the past--but it was a 'group' date--me, her, and Kimmy. Yes, I was feeling like quite the stud that night, having two of the hottest girls in Vegas on my arm for several hours. But before that, we were just casual acquaintances--I'd seen her around the casino, but she rarely worked in my section at all. So that night when the three of us went out, I got to know her much better, and we became fast friends. She'd come by and say hello whenever she'd see me working, and we'd have dinner in the break room together on occasion, but that was it. I still didn't know her very well at all, and of course, never had her on my radar because truthfully, she's about the most attractive girl I've ever met, and so far outta my league that it's almost laughable.

But, we've gotten to be better friends these past couple of months, and I figured we'd hang out again sometime down the road. Anyhow, part of our conversation awhile back was how she used to be a nail tech and really enjoyed it, and would like to get back into it. I encouraged her a bit and said that if she got into a salon somewhere, I promised that I'd have her do my nails.

So that brought us up to a few weeks ago when I ran into her in the parking garage, and she told me that she's working at the spa part-time doing nails. So the next day I made an appointment.

So the reality is, while we chatted a bit over the past few months, I really didn't know her very well at all. But since she got my number last week, we've talked on the phone a few times, one night for almost a half hour, and it seemed like she was testing the waters with me. And the other day when she told me to call her up whenever I was out and about, well, that made me think twice that hey, maybe she's mildly interested in spending some time with me.

Well, today, since we had an hour of 'alone-time', I got my interview. In the course of our conversation, she asked all those personal questions that kind of clear the way for the next step--am I married, engaged, seeing anyone? No, what about you? Nope, totally single, been divorced for awhile now, not seeing anybody, etc etc... Not that the whole conversation went that way, but in the course of our talk, all the hurdles were cleared, so to speak.

I felt that regardless of what happens or doesn't happen, at least I have someone very cool to hang out with.

When we finally finished up, I left her a tip and went up to the desk to pay the tab and make another appointment for two weeks from now because it was the best $22 I'd spent in a long time. While I was doing that, I looked up and could see her mouthing me a message to wait for her, and she'd walk out with me.


Just then, the lady with the pedicure, who was the client right before me, came back in lamenting the fact that her son had stepped on her toe and she needed her nail fixed right away.

I gave Beth the 'What should I do?' look, and again, she whispered to just wait, it would only be a few minutes. So I sat back down and waited for her to finish up the toe-repair. It didn't take long, and we were on our way out to her truck a few minutes later. I have to admit, I was feeling really nervous right about then. I think I'm now over that whole stuttering mess thing, but I could tell that the moment of truth was lurking right around the corner. About to the point where the awkward goodbye happens, she said "Well, I guess I'll see you at work sometime", but I came back with Nah, I don't wanna wait that long. How about I call you next week and we go out to lunch or something?

Of course she said yes. Actually, she said to call her once I knew what my schedule was, and then we'll plan something.

And the icing on the cake was the goodbye kiss right there in the parking lot.

I don't wanna sound like too much of a doofus, but yep, it's been a pretty good day so far. Anything else is just gravy.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Easy Come, Easy Go

Well, my workday wasn't nearly as lucrative this time around. Almost by a factor of ten. I was right about that whole famine thing--I went in to work this morning at 6:00 am, and there wasn't a single player in the room. In fact, it's back to that crappy routine where I come in and sit on my ass for two hours, waiting for the old guys to shuffle in. It's obvious that our local players are suffering from poker burn-out. It'll probably be another three weeks before we're good and busy again.

But then, in the micro-sense, there was more feast vs. famine because the 8:00 am dealer never showed up, and I was locked down for two hours straight once the old fellers showed up. I shouldn't complain because I pretty much made my day by then. At ten I took a half-hour break when the next dealer came in, so I went back to the dining room and got some breakfast. At the bottom of the hour I did one more push, but then there were two more dealers coming in at 11:00. We didn't have enough players to get a tournament started, so at 11:00 we had four dealers and one game.

So I told the boss that I'd have no problem at all with cutting out early, which alleviated her stress because she was pretty apologetic due to having to punt me out of there at eleven anyways. The difference is that this time I was totally cool with working a short day.

My only errand for the day was to go to the bank and deposit all the scratch that I made the past two days, minus of course a little bit of walkin' around money. Then I came straight home, not tempted in the least to do any shopping or spending my hard-earned pimproll.

And here's why: When I got home on Wednesday, the first full-month electric bill was waiting for me. It was $422. Ouch. Apparently, it ain't cheap to keep this big ol' house cool during the summer months, especially this upstairs loft area where my bedroom is with it's huge floor-to-ceiling windows featuring a view of the Strip. It's a great view, but damn, it sure is pricey!

So I coughed up $211 to my roommate and gave thanks that the bill came on that day instead of earlier in the week when it might've caused a bit more stress.

But then I got the kicker. Last night I was poking around on the Nevada DMV website, and I saw that I could renew my tags online. So I grabbed a flashlight and got my VIN info off of the door pillar on my truck, then came back upstairs to pay The Man.

After inputting the required info, I got a huge case of sticker shock. Anybody wanna guess what it's gonna cost to renew my tags in our fine state? I about shiat when I saw that they want $907. Granted, for being a dork, I owe over a hundred bucks in late fees, but there are two other factors at play--1) It's ridiculously expensive to register a car in this state, even if you're a good citizen and pay on time, and 2) They *really* bend you over if you have personalized vanity plates, which I do...

Additionally, I can't change my address information online (my registration is still on record with my old address), so I have to physically go down to the DMV office and stand in line with the unwashed masses, unable to hide my shame anonymously through digital channels.

So, I couldn't renew my tags after all, but once I saw the price tag, I figured I'd just wait until the end of the month after the next round of bills get paid, anyways. Nine hundred bucks is a tough nut to swallow, so I put most of my cash in the bank. I'm also waiting for a $350 check from PokerStars, so that'll help offset the costs. But it's coming from England, and I'm sure they'll be taking their own sweet time about it.

Luckily, I'm all caught up on my expenses for the month and all my shopping was done before my big day at work. So it won't hurt too badly to give up nine Benjamins to the great state of Nevada, but given my druthers, well, I'd rather just keep it for myself.

And speaking of shopping, I'm waiting for the UPS man to start delivering many boxes of goodies to me--I've got books, clothes, and a new wallet on the way, in addition to a new set of prescription sunglasses. The sunglasses are particularly amazing because they were shipped less than 24 hours after I ordered them, and yet when I physically went to the eye doctor to get my regular prescription glasses back in February, it took over a week for them to be made. As Arsenio (and C&C Music Factory) used to say, Things that make you go hmmm...

Anyhow, that's about all that's going on around here. I've got the day off tomorrow, then I'm working a good shift on Saturday, then I'm off again on Sunday. At some point this weekend, I'm going to facilitate the final leg of The Great Booze Migration of 2008 and bring all 30+ bottles that have been sitting in boxes down in the garage for the past month-and-a-half up to my room and put them proudly on display. That, coupled with two more boxes of books, should finally make me 'officially' moved in to my new place.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Banana Chip Day

Yesterday just wasn't my day.

Today was.

You all know that I've been killing myself working six days a week, sometimes 10 hours a day, for the past three weeks or so, because that damn Bad Beat Jackpot just wouldn't hit. Hell, yesterday it got down to four-of-a-kind Threes being the qualifying hand, and I was amazed that it made it that far.

So I was scheduled to come in to work at 6:00 am this morning, but last night around 9:30 or so, I decided to call the poker room to see how busy it was, just to gauge whether or not they'd be calling me in earlier. When I talked to the floor manager on the phone, his exact words were Yeah, you better go to bed now, you'll be coming in early. Make sure your phone is turned on.

As promised, at 2:45 this morning, my phone was ringing, and they were asking me to come in ASAP. It took me a few minutes to motivate myself out of bed, but the thought of dealing a juicy no-limit game for a few hours instead of sitting around at the old-fart 4/8 table helped me get up and headed in the right direction.

Just as I came around the corner from the elevator, still about 30 yards away from the poker room, I could hear all kinds of commotion. It almost sounded like a hot craps table--I could hear people screaming Come on NINE... Give us a NINE!!! And then a huge cheer went up just as I walked in to the room, with everyone at one table jumping around, hugging and high-fiving.

Yep, the Bad Beat Jackpot had finally hit--and it hit in my poker room.

Two players had flopped trips, sevens and nines, and the guy with the nines went all-in on the flop, and he had the other player covered, requiring him to go all-in also. Now, the player with the sevens thought about it for a second, and *almost* folded, as he had no more money available to re-buy, and also figuring that he was beaten (there was a raising war before the flop). But after a minute in the tank, he figured, what the hell, and made the call.

They flipped over their cards, and the shorter-stacked guy made his quads on the turn. Now, he was happy because he figured he had the unbeatable hand--he was going to rake in a huge pot. And since the cards were face-up, everyone at the table suddenly was up out of their seats rooting for him to lose with a nine on the river. And a split-second later, the player with the four sevens realized what the stakes were and also began rooting for his own demise!

The dealer was the only one to remain seated, and I saw him tap the table twice and say Ok, here it comes, and the pandemonium that erupted when he put out the case nine was unreal. There were three tables going, but play had stopped at the other two games while everyone watched the showdown, and suddenly the whole room went absolutely apeshit.

My first order of business was to help the floorman get all the paperwork put together and have all the players accounted for. We gave everyone a jackpot chip and had each of them fill out a couple of lines of info. Of course, while this was going on, the players at the no-limit game, where the jackpot had hit, sent the waitress to go fetch shots of Jaegermeister for the entire room.

I had to push into a game a few minutes later, but it was barely a game--everyone was up running around, laughing, drinking, high-fiving, speculating on their table share amount, so trying to run a game was a lot like herding cats. Loud drunken cats. The shots kept coming, and the party was on.

On the other hand, since it was the middle of the night and there were so few players still up playing at that hour, and the jackpot was up to like $430,000, the players knew they were gonna get a huge table share--so the tips got really good, even before anyone got paid.

There were four dealers, one floorman, and three games going when the jackpot hit. The rule in our room is that if you deal the jackpot, you don't get up from the table until after it is paid out--and the dealers make the payouts on each table. That way, as a dealer, you're more likely to make a bigger share of tokes--not only does the table immediately bond, but the guys who win the big shares of the jackpot will generally take care of you.

So the dealer that put out the jackpot hand was locked down in the no-limit game, while the other three of us rotated between the two 4/8 games and helping the floorman do the paperwork and get the payoffs ready. It took almost an hour before all the other casinos reported in with their number of players, and it turns out that when the jackpot hit, there were 303 people playing Hold-em at all of our casinos combined.

The guy with the four sevens got $45,000, plus a table share.

The guy with the four nines got $30,000, plus a table share.

Every other player got a table share, which turned out to be $1172. Not bad--especially since the last two times it hit it was in the middle of the afternoon, and the table share was about $275 apiece.

I was the 'up-dealer' when the payoffs got figured, so I helped deliver all the money to the tables. We put a bucket in the middle of the layout, and have the dealer hand out the table shares. Luckily, all of our players were fairly generous--throwing lots of extra chips in the bucket for us, except for one dude who pocketed his whole stack of chips and took off as soon as he got paid. The funny thing was, all the other players berated him for being a stiff, which gave me a chuckle.

I didn't make the payoffs at the no-limit game--I was at the 4/8 tables, so I honestly don't know what the dealer made from the players for dealing the jackpot. But when I was counting up the tip buckets, the guy who won the $30,000 came over and put a thousand dollars in the bucket for us, and while that was going on, the player who won the $45,000 came over to each individual dealer and gave us each $200.

Once we got the toke buckets counted up, it turns out that our staff cut was $335 each. With the $200 I'd just pocketed from the jackpot winner, I was up over $500 for the day not including what was already in my pocket from my first hour on the 4/8 game! Woot!

Now, as soon as all the payoffs were made, both 4/8 games broke--everyone had been grinding so long that once they got paid, they all took off. The guy that had dealt the jackpot hand had also been working all night, and he wanted to go home, too. Since I was the 'fresh legs' in the room, and we were definitely *not* going to get another game going anytime soon, the floorman let all the other dealers go home (Hell, they all made $500+, so they were cool with cutting out!). So I was last man standing and stayed to deal at the single remaining drunken no-limit jackpot table.

That turned out to be a very good thing.

Since all the players were flush with cash and doing shot after shot after shot, every pot I pushed earned me at least ten bucks. But then I got random green $25 chips a few times just because. And then a few times, a couple of the players tossed me extra chips and thanked me for 'putting up with our dumb drunk asses'. Believe me, it was kind of a tough table to deal--it was loud, drunk, and slow--poker was definitely not the priority with those guys, but they played for almost three hours straight, and I was there the entire time.

I was having another one of those days where my shirt pocket wouldn't hold anymore chips--they were spilling out every time I'd lean over the table. But the problem was that my left pants pocket was so full also that it wouldn't hold anymore chips, either. Since the game was so slow, I spent whatever spare seconds I had to try and discreetly rathole chips into my other pocket. Finally, around 7:30 or so, the Boss showed up and told me I'd have relief in just a few minutes.

Not that I wanted to get off the game, but 1) the old farts had started to show up and wanted to play their 4/8 game, and 2) I really needed to take a piss and get a drink of water. I had been either dealing or doing the jackpot work for four hours straight by that point, and I was needing a break.

The eight o'clock dealer clocked in early and I managed to finally get off that table. It was lucrative, but man, it was a tough gig. Believe me, it was more babysitting that dealing, but the money was good. I went to the desk and started emptying my pockets, and about ten minutes later, I realized that I was already up over a thousand frickin' dollars for the day! And my shift was only half-way over!

I ran to the bathroom, then got a quick drink of water, and then opened the old-timer's game. By then, it was like a vacation. The old guys game pretty much runs itself--they don't get drunk, or angry, or throw cards, and all I have to do is make small talk and be friendly. Of course, it would take me a week to make a thousand dollars off of that game, so it was quite the trade-off.

It was still early, so word really hadn't gotten out that the jackpot had hit, so we had enough players to start another game after that. We had three dealers and three games, so I was still locked down. I managed to get one more 'down' at the no-limit game, but by then it was winding down. The Jager shots were starting to catch up with them, and most of the the players on that table had been there all night long. I dealt about 20 minutes before the game broke completely, and once I closed it down and cleaned up the mess, my boss was kind enough to tell me to go on and take a half-hour break, that I deserved some time away. It was true--besides a quick trip to the bathroom, I'd been going non-stop for six hours straight.

I went back to the dining room and got some breakfast, and just basically collapsed in a heap in the corner. Not only was I tired from only getting about three hours of sleep the night before, but man, jackpot days are absolute killers. I've been working for three of them, but this was the first time it hit in our poker room, so that cranked the intensity level up past eleven.

I got back at 10:30, and was happy to see two more dealers show up while I was dealing my next down. I was thinking to myself Hey, I might be able to talk my way out of here an hour early!, and I swear my boss was reading my mind, because when I got tapped out I looked over to the desk and she gave me the internationally-known throat-slash signal that means "You're done!".

Oh hell yeah... Talk about being happy to reach the end of my shift! Yeah, the time absolutely flew by, but it was a tough tough day. I cashed out for the last time, signed out, clocked out, and headed out.

With a pocket full of more cash than usual, my head was swimming with all kinds of ideas on how to spend it. But the only thing I did was stop at the gas station by my house and buy a tall fountain Coke. I came home, took a shower, and immediately passed out on the bed, not getting halfway through my drink.

I woke up a few hours later, and the realization struck me that the feast is over, and three weeks or so of famine begin again. It won't be as bad as it was in the middle of July--I'm scheduled for four full days next week--but I won't be getting any overtime and my daily take will go down quite a bit.

But I'm ok with that--it's been a great run, and I finished with quite a bang.

So the first thing I did when I woke up was to re-schedule my appointment at the spa for Friday afternoon. I'm on-call that day, but the smart money says I won't be working. Once I made the appointment, I called Beth back to tell her, and also to share the happy news about my day.

Something tells me that I'll have no problem finding ways to spend my new-found fortune. But as much as I'd love to live large with one of my favorite ladies, Vegas-style, the reality is that my tags expired three weeks ago, so tomorrow I'm going to the DMV to give them the lion's share of my score. But I'm sure I can spare a few bucks to have a little fun before it's all gone...


Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Can you tell that I've had the day off? I'm making up for lost time and writing my fool head off, because I don't know when my next day off is gonna be.

I escaped the house around 2:30 this afternoon, and headed 'up the mountain' to that upscale country club and spa where Beth works part time. Just as I was pulling in to park, an unrecognized 702 number was calling my phone. I answered it before getting out of my truck.

Hey... Mikey?

Yeah--who's this?

It's Beth!

Really? Well, I'm here, I just pulled in to the parking lot...

Anyhow, it turns out that she wasn't there--her receptionist insisted that she didn't have any appointments after 1:00 pm, so she went home to pick up her daughter and send the babysitter on her way, but later she remembered that I'd told her I was coming in. So she called the spa back and they realized their scheduling error (which is why I got hassled at the gate--they didn't have my name on the list with security a few minutes earlier), so she got my number from them and called me up to apologize.

No problemo, I told her, I can reschedule as soon as I get my schedule for next week. She felt really bad and offered to do my manicure for free, but I told her that there was no way I'd let her do that. Anyhow, once we ironed out the confusion regarding our missed connection, I sat out there in my truck talking to her for a bit, and she dropped a juicy bomb on me. She told me that now that I had her number, I should save it and give her a call next week when I'm out and about and we'll go do something...

Oh. Hell. Yeah.

Of course, she has that unique gift of turning me into a stuttering mess, and this time was no different. I'm sure that if I listened to a recording of the call from that point on, it would be quite comical, reminiscent of all the smoothness of a nervous eighth-grader when the roller-rink DJ announced Couple skate, couples only...

Anyhow, after that, I wasn't so disappointed in missing my appointment, and I'm looking forward to next week. We talked for a bit more, and then I headed off towards my old neighborhood over by the airport. There were two things I wanted to do over there--drop off a couple of pairs of pants at the alteration shop, and get my truck washed. I made it over to Alterations by George, just across the fence from runway 25-Left at McCarran, and when I got to the door, it was locked and there was a 'Closed' sign hanging in the window. At 3:30 in the afternoon on a weekday. WTF?

Alterations denied!

I should've figured that today just wasn't my day after pounding my head up against the wall time after time this morning in the poker tournament, but some lessons are hard learned. Since I was already down there in the neighborhood, I drove over to the car wash I used to always use to scrub the bird crap off the Ghetto Sled.

You all know what happened next -- the wash bays were roped off with construction zone tape and there was a sign saying that they were closed until tomorrow, as they were replacing a bunch of equipment.

So as far as running my errands went, I was wearing the collar. I didn't get a single thing done that I wanted to accomplish today. Dazed and confused by my lack of success and still thinking about that conversation with Beth, I completely spaced out stopping at my insurance agent's office to get them to update my address information. Yep, I just drove on by like it wasn't there.
By then, I was completely off my game and just came straight home, having accomplished nothing but burning up about a quarter tank of gas.

I came right up to my room, kicked off my shoes, emptied my pockets, and laid down in front of the TV to watch the WSOP coverage. I figure that I'm gonna hole up here for the rest of the night, not leaving until I go to work in the morning. It's not that I'm superstitious, but today is not the day for me to be wandering around out in public. If I did, I'm sure I'd probably spontaneously combust or at least trip over a crack in the sidewalk and fall on my ass, so I'm not gonna tempt fate.


Taking The Rest

Today has been a wonderful day so far. I got plenty of sleep and my phone hasn't rung all morning. I've been doing a few little projects on my list, playing with the dogs, and surfing the internet all day.

I played in another sit-n-go this morning, and as well as I was playing, I just kept running into bigger hands. You gotta believe that a flopped set of trips are good, as is a pair of pocket queens against the blinds. But I just couldn't make a hand hold up. So I did the only logical thing I could think of...

Yep, I just hit the cashout button on PokerStars once again. After getting bubbled out of the T2V tournament on Sunday, I've played in three more tourneys, but all three times I was just running so bad that I could tell I was on that downward spiral of bad cards and tough beats that I decided enough was enough--time to take the money and run. Every time I had a big pocket pair, I'd run into another bigger pocket pair. Every time. It was incredible and unbelievable at the same time. So I cashed out almost all the rest of my winnings, leaving in just enough to play a couple more of the upcoming private T2V tournaments.

I'd rather play live poker anyways, but my schedule as of late just hasn't allowed it.

Since I got a few more bucks heading my way, I decided to treat myself to a few luxuries. I did a bit of online shopping over the weekend, but that wasn't for fun stuff--I bought a couple more pairs of black work pants. Granted, they seem to last longer in the poker room--my clothes don't take near the abuse they did out in the pit--but even so, I've got two pairs going to the repair shop today, and two new pairs on the way. Four years ago, I didn't own a single article of black clothing. Now, between the pants, socks, shoes, boxer briefs, and t-shirts, I'd say that 60% of my wardrobe is all black.

Anyhow, as a little reward for all of my hard work, I've pared down the Amazon wish list a little bit, ordering a new Fossil wallet and six or seven books. I also hit the Casual Male website and ordered myself a new ASU t-shirt and a Rams pullover fleece jacket. Not that I needed another fleece jacket, but the big bosses won't allow us to hang out in the poker room during our breaks anymore, and I *hate* going back to the dining room. So all of the other dealers bring a jacket with them, and cover up their poker shirt during breaks and hang out in the sports book or in the food court during breaks, which seems to be a capital idea. We're in the process of getting a nearby storage area converted into a small poker-dealer's lounge where we can hang out during our breaks without having to make the trek across the entire casino.

It's not the walk back to the dining room that bothers me, it's the fact that no matter how much I try to avoid it, I always run into one of my former co-workers from the pit and they then waste my entire break bitching about this and that and the latest incarnation of how they're getting screwed over. So unless it's one of my closer friends or one of my cocktail girls, I just flat-out don't want to talk to anyone when I'm on my break. I'm relatively happy with my job, and I don't wanna hear from people who are miserable.

So yeah, a new fleece jacket, with a nifty Rams logo on the front, will help facilitate my peace of mind.

That's about it for the online purchases, although later today I'm going to stop by the eye doctor's office and get a copy of my prescription. I found an outfit that will do customized prescription sunglasses for about $150, so I'm gonna order a pair this week.

That's about all for now. I've got an hour before I head out to the spa to see Beth and get my manicure done, and I need to shower, shave, and make myself look pretty prettier.


To Sleep, Or Not To Sleep...

Yeah, here it is almost 3:00 o'clock on the morning, and I should be sleeping. But I just got off of another grueling shift in the poker room (no, the jackpot still hasn't hit. How's about $417,000? That high enough for ya?), and after a quick stop at the grocery store, I'm home, showered, and wide awake--for now--although I'm feeling a little bit like the guy in the picture.

I've got a tall glass of Captain & Seven sitting next to me, and instead of just going to bed and blowing off my website updates for yet another day, I hope you folks understand just what kind of sacrifices I'm making for your reading enjoyment. But I don't care how raggedy I'm feeling, I've got to do some writing before all the details of my whereabouts of the past several days are lost in the haze.

Let's see here, where did I leave off? Well, this past Thursday was a helluva day--I met reader 'Paul' from L.A. for dinner after work. We actually met up at the Diamond Lounge at Harrah's for pre-dinner drinks, and wouldn't you know it, the Evil Empire doesn't stock Bombay Sapphire. F*cking Cretins. I guess their target demographic prefers rotgut and Coke. Oh wait, they don't serve Coke either. So my first drink was a regular Bombay martini with the worst, most unripe olives I've ever had the displeasure to drown in icy cold gin. Luckily, the price was right, and we didn't punish our waitress for the poor quality of the drinks. Round two was much better--they atoned for their sins by offering Amber Bock in a frosted glass, and once again, all was right with the world.

Anyhow, Paul and I had a great conversation, and the time passed very quickly. Before we knew it, it was time to head on down to the restaurant for our 8:00 pm reservation at The Range. I'd never eaten at The Range before, but it was on the list, and Paul offered up dinner there due to Loveman & Company's generosity.

We were seated immediately, and I was impressed right from the start--I liked the restaurant for it's aesthetics; it was large, yet quiet, comfortable, and had a wonderful view of the Strip outside the windows.

Instead of cocktails, we just went with water to begin our culinary adventure, but I kept the wine list handy, just in case.

We started off the meal with an order of crabcakes, which were very good. There was also a basket of assorted warm breads on the table, along with some whipped butter. I can't go to a restaurant in this town, it seems, without trying the French Onion soup. I don't know why--in a world were everyone wants the lobster bisque, I want the French onion soup.

The Range version didn't disappoint--it was served in a huge hollowed out onion on a bed of rock salt, filled up, piping hot, with a crisp crouton and melted Gouda. It was delicious and I managed to avoid getting any on my shirt.

For entrees, Paul got the seafood special of the day, which was some sort of lobster dish and veggies. I went with my favorite steak, the bone-in ribeye with a baked potato. Paul also ordered some sides of creamed spinach and sauteed mushrooms. With my meal, I ordered a glass of north coast Pinot.

Of course, the food was very good-to-excellent all around, and Paul couldn't have been a better host. We had a wonderful conversation over dinner, and it turns out that we are a lot alike in a lot of ways--he takes blackjack as serious (or more so!) as I do poker, so we had lots to talk about.

I have no idea what the total tab was, as Paul insisted on covering everything, even the tip, so I didn't even get a glance at the bill. But you can see the entire menu right here, if you're curious about prices and selection.

We lingered a bit after dinner, drinking coffee and such. I honestly can't remember if we had dessert or not--it's been a long week--but when we finally pushed back from the table a couple hours later, we were more than satisfied.

We said our goodbyes down in the hotel lobby and parted company for the evening. I'd had a very long day and couldn't wait to get home and go to bed. I think Paul was itching to hit the high-limit room and do some damage to Harrah's bottom line, so we called it a night.

I got home a bit after eleven, and went straight to bed. Unfortunately, the dinner didn't sit well with me, and I couldn't sleep at all. I was up and down all night, and finally around 3:00 am, I got a huge glass of water and a handful of Tums to settle my stomach, and I was fine after that.

I've already written that I missed the phone call the next morning, so I missed out on a day of work, but I was ok with it--I was just too damn tired. I ran errands and relaxed that day preparing for my evening out with the boys.

The plan was for dinner at Stack at the Mirage, but we were gonna meet up about an hour earlier than our reservation time and have a few drinks at the bar. I got there first, but since it was Friday Night In Vegas, the bar was packed wall-to-wall with bachelorette parties and Orange County wannabes. Instead, I made my way across the casino to that lounge that sits between the poker room and the sports book, and secured a corner with a couple of cocktail tables. I text messaged the fellas and told them all to meet me there instead of the restaurant. I had about a Captain and a half before they all started showing up--it was Derek and Neil, two of my old Phoenix roomies from the 'frat house', Neil's brother, and another buddy of theirs was also in town. A few minutes later, one of my favorite dining compadres also showed up, the almost-famous Lars Vargas.

I hadn't seen Derek in four years, and Neil in almost five years, so it was great to see them again. The six of us sat around drinking cocktails and laughing it up for about an hour, telling old stories from our days at Schwab and rehashing old Vegas adventures. Derek told me that he still tells one particular story all the time--that I had since forgotten--that makes everyone crack up.

Back around 1999 or 2000 or so, Derek, Eddie B, and I were out here in Vegas doing one of our our usual three-day drunken gamble-fests, and we were playing blackjack at Binion's--this was back in the days before Harrah's hi-jacked the World Series of Poker away from them.

Anyhow, they had a bunch of commemorative $5 chips in play that had pictures of previous WSOP champions on them. As we were playing blackjack, occasionally the dealer would make a payoff that would include one of those limited edition WSOP Champion chips. So whenever we'd get one, we'd make a big deal about it and consider it lucky enough to put on the top of our next bet, staring down the dealer.

Anyhow, we'd been playing for a few hours, and drinking for a couple more than that, so we were feelin' a bit silly in the middle of the night. And the dealer happened to pay me off with a WSOP chip with Johnnie Chan's picture on it.

I swear to god, the first thing out of my mouth was -- Johnnie Chan! I *loved* that guy in Rush Hour!!!

I thought Derek and Eddie were gonna piss themselves and the dealer had to take a moment before he could get the cards out because we were all laughing so hard. And up until this past Friday night at the Mirage, I'd completely forgotten about that. But Derek and Neil retold the story and we all got a kick out of it once again.

Anyhow, after an hour of stories and cocktails, the six of us headed back to Stack for dinner. We didn't have to wait long, and we were seated at a round table in the middle of the restaurant, high rollers that we are.

The menu looked pretty good, and we were pretty hungry. One of the appetizer specials that night was mini lobster tacos, so we asked for two orders of those, and everyone I know has raved about the 'hot rocks' appetizer, so we ordered a couple of those, too.

We really enjoyed the vibe of the restaurant, although it was quite loud, a lot like N9NE over at The Palms. The eye candy was excellent, but it doesn't exactly strike me as a romantic type of place. So it was perfect for all the bachelorette parties on hand, or groups of guys like us who were all about trolling the waters.

In no time at all, the appetizers arrived. The mini lobster tacos were really good, but everyone loved the Hot Rocks. Basically, it was a tray of thin-sliced and marinated sirloin steak, and they brought out these baskets of 800-degree lava rocks to cook them on at the table. We all had chopsticks to hold the meat, and after just a couple of seconds on the rocks per side, the meat was perfectly grilled and tasted amazingly good. We all agreed that we could've easily made a meal out of those hot rocks thingies if they would've just kept bringing the meat.

But we had serious steaks on the way, so the hot rocks were just a happy diversion. Of course, I went with the bone-in cowboy steak, as did several of my dining companions, while some went with the filet. And once we found out that all the steaks could surf for just $20 more, well, we had to get the lobster Thermidor on the side. I mean, who doesn't love lobster? I think Lars actually got his steak Oscar-style, with crab, hollandaise, and bits of asparagus, too, but the majority went with the lobster. Several of us also got a side order of the adult tater tots with bacon and Brie, and I spied some spinach and other potato varieties around the table, too.

Anyhow, when the steaks arrived, the conversation pretty much stopped except for a few satisfying grunts of approval. I can speak for all six of us when I say that the steaks were fantastic. Neil went so far as to say that his was the best he'd ever had. That's a bold statement that I'm not going to make, but I'd say it was right up there in the top five meals I've ever had. Yeah, it was that good. Everything was just fantastic--the steaks were tender and flavorful--and so juicy, cooked to perfection. The tater tots were almost decadent, and of course everyone loved the hot rocks. And the lobster Thermidor was also a big hit. All the guys loved it, and I'm sure I'll be going back again--Stack is a great restaurant, and it's getting a high spot on my favorites list.

The bill worked out to just about $100 apiece before tip (and surprisingly, they didn't add an automatic 18% on to our tab), so we each coughed up a hundred and twenty, and walked away very happy. I earned a pat on the back from all my dinner companions for picking the restaurant.

After dinner, we wandered the casino a bit. There was talk of all six of us getting into a single table sit-n-go over in the Mirage poker room, but the rest of the crew accused me of being a ringer and didn't wanna contribute to my bankroll play with me... So we found ourselves an open $25 blackjack table, and sat down. Lars and I, being Vegas locals, don't play blackjack anymore, so we were just there to provide colorful commentary and alert the other guys when a particularly ogle-worthy set of boobs strolled into view.

We ordered a few drinks, but it was pretty much a bloodbath for those guys. Derek was the only one who came out ahead, while the rest of the guys took it in the shorts. Lars left before it turned too ugly--he had a full belly and a good woman waiting for him back at the house, to he ditched us after waiting an appropriately long enough time. But I also had to get some sleep--my weeks of working like a slave, coupled with a rich meal, had caught up to me and I couldn't stop yawning. My boys had other Vegas adventures to attend to, so after a visit to the cage, I said my goodbyes and headed back to the valet.

I got home around midnight and just collapsed into bed, exhausted.

Not two hours later, my phone was ringing. Yep, you guessed it, there was a poker emergency down at the casino, and they needed my mad skillz ASAP. I got there by 3:00 am, more tired than you can possibly imagine, and did eight hours of dealing. I wasn't exactly the happiest guy in the casino when I got there, but I had a little help from my new friend, a 15 oz can of Starbucks DoubleShot Energy drink. Normally, I refuse to partake of any energy drinks--I'm convinced they'll eventually kill you, and I think shiat like Red Bull tastes like Ass in a Can, but in this case I had to make an exception. And you know what? I *really* liked it. It didn't give me a huge buzz or make me twitch or anything like that, but I was awake and alert and managed to make it through a shift that I thought would grind me to a pulp. And it actually tasted good, too, unlike most other liquid drugs on the market.

Anyhow, I was a complete zombie when I finally shuffled out of there around noon the next day. I got home, took a shower, and went straight to bed. I called T-Rev and cancelled our dinner plans at Grimaldi's, and even had to cancel out on meeting up with Derek again on Saturday night--I was just too tired, and they told me at work that they were gonna need me again in the middle of the night on Saturday night/Sunday morning. Ugh.

Of course, no afternoon nap on the weekend would be complete without phone calls from random members of my family, just checking in to see how I was doin'. Gotta love 'em for that. Once I woke up around 6 or so, I called Derek again, just to see what was up, but his boys wanted to play craps at Casino Royale with Cheese, while Derek wanted to lay waste to the blackjack tables at Bellagio. I was still pretty tired and neither option really appealed to me, so we said our goodbyes for the weekend and made some tentative plans to get together again soon. I went back to bed for a few hours, confident that the phone was going to wake me up sooner rather that later.

I was right--I had to be back in at 5 am, but luckily I had gotten some sleep. But it was a loooong day in the poker room, and they needed me to stick around and do the overtime. I worked ten or eleven hours on Sunday--I don't quite remember--but I pocketed a ton of cash for my efforts. Again, I felt like I'd gone about 12 rounds in a cage match with one of those angry tattoo-covered kids I see around here all the time.

Instead of going straight home and falling asleep, I was pretty hungry, so I headed down to Grimaldi's for some dinner. I tell you what--a Peroni on tap is pretty good for what ails ya, and if one is good, two must be better. That, and a big damn pepperoni and mushroom coal-fired pizza of love.

I sat there unwinding for almost an hour, eating my pizza, sipping my beer, reading my magazine. While I was sitting there, the thought struck me that life has turned out pretty good for me out here in Vegas. Three and a half years ago, when my transmission blew out on the Tennessee River bridge, 60 miles west of Nashville, I could've easily turned around and went back. But I didn't. I got off to quite the rocky start--dead car, thieving roommates, no job, and not knowing a soul out here in this town. But all that hard work and uncertainty has started to pay off in spades now. I have shaken off the shackles of debt from the Dark Times of 2001-2002, I've got a good job, I live in a nice home, I drive a nice new truck, and I have lots and lots of great friends. I never run out of things to do or people to see, and I've got a hobby that has turned quite lucrative for me, and I'm starting to put money into the bank every week instead of sweating about how I'm gonna pay the rent or make my truck payment every month.

Granted, this feast in the poker room won't last forever--as soon as this bad beat jackpot finally hits, we'll be dead for another three weeks or so, and I'll be cryin' to my boss about only working three days a week, but the lean times of the past have taught me to save, stock up on the essentials, and weather the storms more easily. Who would've ever thought that living in Las Vegas would have taught me how to *not* spend money? Several years ago, the smart money would've been on me being broke and homeless within six months if I moved to Las Vegas--I'm sure that's exactly the conversations that went on behind my back at the family dinners back in Tennessee--but the exact opposite has happened. Life in Vegas seems to agree with me, and I think I've made the most of my opportunities.

I am truly happy here.

Anyhow, I didn't mean to get all philosophical there, but sometimes you gotta sit back and consider your place in the world, and sometimes you gotta be thankful for it. And I am.

After my introspective dinner at Grimaldi's, I drove home, fiddled with the computer/router/modem long enough to figure out why I was having such bad internet connections again, and I fixed everything just about the time the weekend T2V poker tourney was starting.

I got in just under the wire, and again I outlasted the three other horsemen of the 'apokerlypse', but my pride caught up to me and I bubbled out in fourth place, one spot away from the money. But for $5.50, it was a fun hour or two. Once the tournament was over, I decided to take some cash off the table. I deposited $25 in my dormant PokerStars account a couple weeks ago, and I've since built it up to almost $500. So I had them cut me a check for $350. I don't have any plans for the money--I'm sure something will pop up--but I just don't want to catch an extended bad run of cards and give it all back. So I'll use it to fill up the gas tank, buy some groceries, maybe spend some quality time with one of my ladies (have I mentioned the cute Romanian gal that I've been flirting with for a couple of weeks now? No? Oh well, maybe another time...)

I crashed pretty hard on Sunday night, as you can imagine, but it was a fitful sleep--I was convinced that they were gonna call me again in the middle of the night and tell me to come back in to work. But I got lucky and made it all the way until 11:00 yesterday morning before the phone rang.

Knowing that I had Tuesday off, they told me to come in and work at 8:00 pm on Monday night until 4:00 am. So much for having Tuesday to myself...

But as busy as we were, the room started dying around 1:30 this morning, and I was cut loose at 2:00 am. But I made a good $180 in tokes for my six hours, which ain't too bad, I suppose. I could've brought home more, but I overtipped the floorman for letting me go home early. He could've sent somebody else, but he knew I wanted to get out of there. So after I cashed out for the last time, I gave him the entire take from my last table. (It wasn't that much--it was a shorthanded game that went dead after ten minutes). I made a quick stop at WallyWorld for some coffee and creamer and a few other essentials, and then it was back to my nest.

That brings us to now. I can see the lights of the Strip off in the distance, and the sun is about to come up on Tuesday morning. I'm gonna get a few hours of sleep, then enjoy a nice leisurely pot of coffee. Once I put some shoes on, I'll go and run a few errands--maybe get the truck washed--and then later this afternoon I have my manicure appointment with Beth. I don't know what I'll do tonight--maybe I'll go out and play in a live poker tournament down on the Strip, but I dunno--I'm not feeling it right now. Besides, I'm scheduled to work at 6:00 am on Wednesday, and if this damn jackpot still hasn't hit, well, I can pretty much count on being called in earlier.

As good as life is for me, I'm still the casino's bitch.