Thursday, April 30, 2009

Must Sleep, Can't Stop Writing

Hey gang--thanks to everyone sending me birfday wishes today. I appreciate it. 42 years old... I feel like I should be more mature--it's so grown-up sounding.

Oh well...

Anyhow, I'm just popping in to say that I've got some stuff in the pipeline, and as much as I should be sleeping right now, I can't stop the muse from singing. I was going to do a quickie post this morning and then sleep all day, but once I started writing, I decided to get all clever with it and now I'm unable to stop--so I saved what I've got so far, and will continue to work on it, but I wanted to make a quick check-in update just in case I fell asleep at the keyboard and drooled into my laptop, erasing my work and electrocuting myself at the same time.

Good stuff is on the way, I promise. If not by tonight, then certainly for the weekend.

I need to sleep--big night tonight.

Mikey out.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Settling Back Into My Routine

It's good to be home. Well, home for the next three weeks or so...

Anyhow, we said goodbye to Caesars Palace this morning--which, by the way, is probably one of the most pretentious places I've ever visited--and I dropped Cyndi off at the airport before coming back to the homestead and catching up on some much-needed sleep.

We had a wonderful visit and did some amazing things. The highlights:

Women's Roller Derby. Oh holy shiat--words cannot describe the spectacle we witnessed. I went with an open mind, but not expecting much. But I was blown away at how entertaining it was. First of all, the people-watching was better than you can possibly imagine. But the event itself--better than a hockey game! Those girls are tough, and aside from a few tube-sock lesbians, most of them were pretty hot, too. Lots of pin-up gals with arm tats in attendance. There were a lot of laughs, but there was a lot of great action, too. I honestly had a blast and can't wait to do it again. We loved it! I am now a fan of the Sin City Roller Girls, and especially #25, 'Maybelline'. Wow--smokin' hot and I do believe she could whoop my ass without even breaking a sweat.

Roy's Hawaiian Fusion. The only reason we went there was because I had a $50 gift card that I've been carrying around for months. Big mistake on waiting so long--we were blown away at how good the food was. And the service--probably the most knowledgeable wait staff I've ever encountered. We went with his recommendation and ordered an off-the-menu Kobe Roll for an appetizer. I swear it was one of the best things I've ever eaten. It was a sushi-style 8-piece roll that was made out of tempura shrimp which was covered in lobster salad, then wrapped in seaweed and rice, topped with a thin layer of Kobe steak, seared medium-rare, and then covered in sprouts and sesame seeds. The whole thing was served with a layer of two sauces, stone-ground mustard and smokey BBQ sauce. Then dipping the whole thing in soy-wasabe-pickled ginger was just heavenly. I know, it may sound weird, but I swear, if I ever end up on death row, that'll be my final meal before my appointment with Ol' Sparky. It must be tried to be fully appreciated.

Following up the appetizer would be a tough gig, but for dinner, I had Prosciutto seared scallops with tiger shrimp and a 'Risotto Ala Caprese with Truffled Buerre Blanc'. The waiter recommended a wonderful glass of Pinot Blanc that complemented the meal perfectly, and later 'mistakenly' poured a second glass that he either had to dump down the sink or find somebody willing to drink it...

I honestly don't remember what Cyndi had, some sort of boneless short-rib dish (I think it was the special that night), but it was very tasty, also. For dessert, we split a pineapple upside-down cake with coconut ice cream and had some Kona coffee. It was an amazing meal that we both raved about, and having come there straight from the roller derby, I think the contrast made the meal even better--kinda like eating pork rinds during intermission at the symphony.

Mystere at Treasure Island. I'm probably the last person on earth to see this most-popular of all Cirque shows, but again, all I can say is 'Wow!'. We got some last-minute tickets on Tuesday afternoon, and ended up sitting on the fifth row, almost dead center. I can't imagine having a bad seat anywhere in that theatre, but being up close was great--we still were able to see all the stuff going on all over the place, yet close enough to see the performers faces. My favorite part had to be the guy flying around with the silver cube, or the six-way trapeze artists. But the whole show was just mind-blowingly enjoyable--well worth the $126 price tag per ticket.

We did a few other fun things--spent Sunday at the pool, where I got burnt to a crisp, had dinner at Grimaldis' (Cyndi had never been), drinks at Kahunaville (I'm more about the 'rum' part than the 'runner' part!), late-night dinner at the Peppermill, snacks at Payard, spent almost an entire day gambling at the M, (Red Cup Cafe, you're dead to me now), and did a lot of just plain goofing off. Of course, she had seminars to go to and I had to work a couple of shifts, but we squeezed a whole helluva lot of fun into four days.

Anyhow, I'm back home again, ready to get back to normal. When I arrived back at the house this morning, there was a package waiting for me on the porch from the UPS man--Lisa Lisa The One I Adore sent me some goodies from my Amazon wish list--the '21' dvd, and a couple of Anthony Bourdain books. Thank you, sweetie!

I hauled my luggage upstairs and went back to bed, glad to be able to catch up on all the sleep I missed these past few days. But now, I'm ready to get back into my normal groove. I'm gonna shower, shave, and get dressed, then find some dinner somewhere, and my plan is to go play some cards for the rest of the evening.

Catch ya tomorrow!


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Just Checkin' In

Howdy all! Sorry for the delay in updates, but life gets in the way sometimes. I've been living like a tourist down at Caesars Palace since Saturday, and I left my laptop back at the house, so I've been untethered from the internet world for awhile. And I gotta tell ya--it's kinda nice!

Anyhow, I'm still there for another day, but I had to work last night, and it was a long one. I decided to stop back here at the house for a bit and check the email and such before heading back, so here I am, telling you that it'll probably be a couple more days before I post a regular update again.

Aside from a ridiculous sunburn, all is well.


Friday, April 24, 2009

All Over The Map

Hey Gang! I've got a pot of coffee going, so I'm going to make an attempt to round up all the random stuff in my head and make One Big Post out of all of it.

First of all, I wanna give a shout-out to reader Ise, who was kind enough to hit the tip jar the other day and 'shake the tree', so to speak. Thanks, brotha. I too would love to make a grand a month from that thing, but that ain't reality and I'd be shocked if I made a hundie a month from it. The service I provide is free, and will remain so, and right now, I don't really need the money. Y'all will always know when things get tight, and even though I always love a little extra scratch, right now I'm living large and the bills are paid. But again, thanks to everyone who's dropped a little couch change in there over the years.

On the other hand, the big Four-Deuce is hitting me next week, so if anyone wants to hit up the ol' Wish List and send me toys, I'm cool with that. Besides, I have a couple of trolls here that for whatever reason, it drives them absolutely bat-shiat insane crazy whenever I mention that somebody sent me something from my Amazon wishlist. So, it's kinda like getting a two-fer if you go that route.

If you're browsing over there, I gotta mention that movie 21, the flick about the MIT card counting team. I just saw that for the first time the other night, and if you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend it. It was much better than I expected, and I loved all the plot twists at the end. If you haven't seen it yet, at least add it to the list on your Netflix account. Besides, it reminded me of some fellas I played cards with during March Madness:

My only beef with the movie was that when Kate Bosworth told the guy that she had a suite comped at the Hard Rock, and when they got back there to do the nasty, somehow it overlooked the Bellagio fountains. I was like What? The Hard Rock comped you a suite at Paris? How'd they do that?!?!?

Anyhow... Speaking of cards, I'm back in the saddle and on the winning track again. On Wednesday night, I spent a few hours in my poker room with my gal Sheena and I did pretty damn well again. The games were a little weak, but I was up $175 when the bad players started to go broke, so I was gonna call it a night. Besides, three of my friends, all solid players in their own right, were in the game, so there was no money to be made just passing chips around and giving the house five bucks a pot.

I announced that I'd play until my big blind came around and then I'd cash out. Of course, on my last hand of the night, I got pocket Kings, flopped a three-of-a-kind, and some jackass called the action all the way down and got runner-runner for a flush. Grrrr. That nonsense cost me an extra $34, which pissed me off, ending my night as a victim of a huge suckout. Even though I had a pretty good winning session, I didn't get to enjoy it.

But I got over it--money in the pocket tends to do that. Besides, I had a great time that night, playing with a bunch of my friends, too.

Thursday was kind of mellow--I slept in, then tried to formulate some sort of response to Linda's latest post, but it didn't quite take off the way I wanted, so I gave up and watched SportsCenter instead. Once the afternoon rolled around, I showered up and headed out to Vegas proper to go look at some furniture (I have no couch--it's back at the old 'Frat House' back in Phoenix), but that turned out to be kind of a bust. I guess that's what I get for using Craigslist. But I'm gonna need to find some living room furniture pretty soon, so I'll keep looking.

After making a couple of stops that turned out to be a waste of time and gas, I sat in the parking lot at the corner of Sahara and Maryland Parkway and ate a cheeseburger, watching a couple of poker pros bums fight over a shopping cart. It was quite entertaining, just another day in Vegas, but after that I made my way up the road to the Freakin' Frog to participate in the weekly Beer & Blogger meet-up. I saw a few familiar faces when I got there, and Carmen had also been texting me, saying she was on her way, too.

One of the highlights of the evening was that Baja Lori (sorry, no linkie yet) had 'networked' a load of Maple Bacon Cupcakes from the folks at the Retro Bakery. I have three words to describe them: Oh. Hell. Yeah.

And of course I got a picture of the free cupcakes with a nine-dollar beer:

And here is the family portrait:

The bacon cupcakes--amazingly good. The chocolate ones were just a bit too sweet for my tastes, but all the chicks in attendance loved 'em.

Anyhow, besides the sweet treats, I spent the majority of the evening catching up with my gal Carmen, who I hadn't seen in over a month. She's the type of person they call an 'Old Soul', so you can't help but enjoy her company, and she had lots and lots of good stories for me too. Not only that, but she's poker freak just like me, so we had much to discuss.

Besides those pics, Carmen had me take a couple more of her sexy bod, just so she could give a more complete response to Linda's post. It's a tough gig, but I was willing to step up and help a girl out.

We only stayed about an hour--long enough to run up a $40 tab--before we decided to call it a night, at least as far as cupcakes and beer were concerned.

She followed me back over to my place, where we ditched her car and the plan was to fetch a bag of sour balls I've had sitting on my desk for her for the last month and grab a couple Benjamins from my poker stash so we could go play some cards (for whatever reason, I went furniture shopping with only sixty bucks in my wallet). But when we got back to the house, there were some goodies waiting for me on the porch.

First of all, I had a small box from Amazon--in it was another batch of that coconut body wash I like so much, along with a DVD of the movie The Hammer. It's Adam Carolla's boxing movie, and since I'm getting so much free entertainment from his daily podcasts, I figured I could cough up a few bucks for his movie. Besides, Carmen said it's a good flick, too. Also there was a much bigger package sitting there from the UPS man, and it had a bunch of clothes I ordered (cargo shorts and t-shirts and such). The time to shop is now, before the Commies in congress start taxing online purchases... And y'all know how I feel about paying more taxes.

Anyhow, once our brief stop back here at the house was concluded, we hopped in my dirty-ass truck and headed down towards my favorite spot in Vegas, the new M Resort, planning on spending the night cutting up their 4-8 game.

We left the truck with the valet (and noticed that the welcome mats were nowhere to be found), and then headed for the poker room, where we put our names on the waiting list. Unfortunately, there was only one 4-8 table going, but we were the first two names waiting for seats. So we wandered wandered a few feet over to the the 32 Degrees bar, but the only table available was on the far side of the lounge, opposite the poker room, too far to see the desk and hear the page. So we grabbed a couch in the back of the sports book instead.

One of the outrageously-hot straight-outta-the-fembot-factory cocktail waitresses came over and took our drink orders, and that's when we realized that all of the waitresses there are just absolutely smoldering. Easily the best line-up in Vegas. Every single one of them is tall, with long legs, long hair, and a huge fake rack. Our couch was right next to the service well, so we were entertained by an endless parade of Playmate-level talent. Of course I left my damn camera in the truck...

As expected, most (if not all) of the handiwork on display was man-made, but Carmen had the line of the night that damn near made me spit my drink out. A particularly well-endowed blond gal walked by and Carmen turned to me and whispered Holy shit!!! Check those out--they're so big they make mine look *real*!


We didn't have to wait long before we got called for our seats, but we weren't able to sit next to each other right away. Carmen hadn't even played her first hand before the guy next to her started hitting on her. I gave her a laugh, and she just shook her head and said I haven't even been here thirty seconds yet!

He was kind of a d-bag anyways, raising damn near every pot, and it was our mission to break him. About ten minutes later, somebody else left the game, and another player wanted to change seats, so we ended up getting seats next to each other after all. And that's when I told her of my not-so-evil, but obvious, plan. I wanted her sitting next to me so that every guy at the table would be staring at her cleavage the whole night, and not looking at me. She's cool with that, but way ahead of me on that plan--she uses her feminine charms at the poker table all the time--guys always play her soft and try to hit on her, so we had a bit of an advantage.

It was a fun game, too. Besides, the kid who'd hit on Carmen early on had targeted me--I think he was jealous or something, so he kept making snide remarks. Eventually, I beat him out of a big pot and said You see that, junior? I'm the one going home with the chips *and* the girl tonight.

That made a couple of people at our end of the table chuckle, but he just sat there steaming. It didn't take long before I was up a hundred bucks again, but then some bad luck fell our way. Within five minutes of each other, both Carmen and I had pocket Kings lose to pocket Aces, and then a few hands later, I had my flopped two pair go down in flames to a straight made on the river. Both those hands cost me almost $80. Ouch.

But I fought my way back. I had an 8-4 of hearts on my big blind and was able to see an eight-way flop on the cheap. It came out 4-4-8, so of course I slow-played it, and two guys behind me got into a raising war. When an Ace came on the river, I even got re-raised by a guy who had Ace-Eight, so I scooped a huge pot.

As a reward for getting my Aces cracked so many times last week, I got 'em again, twice, within about ten minutes, and both times I flopped Aces full while my opponents made smaller boats. That was nice, and before long, I had over $200 in profit stacked in front of me.

Around midnight, Carmen suggested that we get going--she has an interview this morning at 9:00 am, so we couldn't stay out all night. I was totally cool with that--I'd made a nice little bundle of cash in the game, and was ready to call it a night.

We got back to my place and said goodnight, making plans to do it again sometime soon. I had a great time with her, and she's probably one of my favorite people to play cards with. Not only that, she's a pretty good player, too. She made some great laydowns that probably would've cost me an extra bet before I woke up and smelled the beatdown, so I'm looking forward to doing it again.

When I came upstairs, I realized just how tired I was--I didn't watch TV or anything, I just went straight to bed and crashed for a good solid five hours.

Today, well, I'm not sure what I want to do today. I need to go get my truck serviced--it's filthy, needs an oil change, new wiper blades, and a rotation and balance job, too. Do I want to spend the money? No--I've been bleeding cash this week, so I'll probaby wait until I get a couple more shifts under the belt. So I don't know what I'm gonna do. This evening I'm going over to the Hard Rock for a bit, but after that, I'll probably end up at a poker table somewhere.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Circus Act Nobody Wants To See

I'm talking about watching the fat guy jump through hoops. It ain't pretty, but that's what I've been doing these past couple of days. And thankfully, I think I'm finally done.

Lemme tell you, not only is the physical aspect of moving all my shiat a pain in the ass, but finding a place, and then jumping through all of the paperwork hoops and rounding up documentation and such is also a big pile of non-fun.

But it's finally over. I found a new place, and I my application was accepted, and I just got the approval this afternoon. On the downside, however, I didn't get the first apartment that I wanted, the secluded one on the second floor with the fireplace--somebody snagged it yesterday while I was out trying to get *somebody* at my company to verify my income and my employment. Instead, I got a lower-level one, but it's right next to one of the pools and close to a BBQ veranda. Oh, and the building is surrounded by desert-style landscaping (basically, all rocks instead of grass), and the trees are all pine trees, so there will be no leaf-blowers or lawn mowers at 7:00 am! That was my only gripe about the other apartment Rob and I shared.

On the plus side, the lower-level apartment will give me a cheaper electric bill, and moving my furniture won't be such a pain in the ass, either. However, the leasing agent said she'd flag any second floor units that become available and I get first dibs if one opens up in the next month. (I really wanted a fireplace, but only the second-floor units have them). Also, I got some sort of promo deal with $150 off the first month's rent, and then at the last minute, when I showed 'em my employee ID, I got another ten bucks a month discount because of the casino I work at. That was kind of a nice surprise.

I'm just glad that the 'not knowing' part is over. Now that I know when and where I'm going to be living, the stress is off and I can relax a bit. But now it's time to start herding all my junk into smaller and smaller piles.

I've still got a month to go, but May is going to be a very expensive month for me. Not only am I moving to a new pad, but just this morning I ordered my tickets for the Jimmy Buffett concert down at Desert Sky Pavilion in Phoenix. (Got 'em on Stub-Hub for about fifty each) I know, face value is only $36, and I could buy them from a scalper on the day of, which I'd do if I were living there, but driving five hours to get there would suck ass if I got shut out, so I didn't mind paying the premium for the tickets and the peace of mind. But that won't be the only expense of the weekend, as trips to Phoenix with my buddies always tend to cost a few bucks.

Also, the week after that, I'm playing in a WSOP event that's gonna cost me $500, plus I've decided to spoil myself a little and got a room at the M for a few nights--so I better cash in that tournament--it's gonna cost me almost a thousand bucks otherwise! But like I said, even if I fall flat on my ass and get knocked out in the first hour, well, it'll be a great experience that you can't put a price on. I'm really looking forward to it, and I hope that my after-action report in entertaining, at least .

Oh well, I guess all these cash outlays mean that I better get back to the grind at the poker tables. I haven't played since that big hit on Sunday morning at the M. Well, I take that back, I played for two hours after my shift on Tuesday morning, from 5 am till 7, and made a whopping $15, which I promptly spent on breakfast. (Luckily I pocketed almost three Benjamins in tips that night...)

I didn't play last night--never heard from Audrey, but I missed a call from another gal, I'll call her 'Sheena'. She called me around 6 pm to see if I wanted to go play cards with her, but I was dead asleep. I woke up around 10 pm and got the message and called her back, but calling around to the various local poker rooms, we couldn't find a good game--it was a slow night all over town--so we put it off until tonight. So I just stayed home and watched TV last night, but tonight I'm gonna go out and hit the tables--I need to replenish the treasury.

Tomorrow night I'm gonna go hit the Beer & Blogger meet up--I'm not sure if any of my gals are going (Linda is out, I know that much), but word around the campfire is that somebody is bringing Bacon Cupcakes, and well, you *know* I'm not gonna miss that. Oh yes, there will be pictures.

On Friday, I've got an invite to some sort of local Blogger party at the Hard Rock. I think this one is kind of a big deal--it's invitation-only, and I have to check in at the 'Hard Rock Media Desk' to get my credentials, but the thing that sealed the deal for me was the offer of free beer. And I've been around long enough to know that free beer tastes better. I hope I see some familiar faces, and I'm sure I'll do some networking and what not, but at the very least, it'll be a good party.

After that, you may not hear from me for a few days--On Saturday, I'm picking Cyndi up at the airport and then we're moving into Caesars Palace until Tuesday. I highly doubt that I'll be bringing my laptop with me, so you weekend re-clickers are gonna have to find something else to do with your time. (Solitaire? Hearts? Minesweeper, maybe?)

The plan is to get in some quality pool time, eat in a nice restaurant or two, and just relax. Oh, and on Saturday night, we've got tickets to the roller derby. I've got a feeling that another epic post is somewhere out there over the horizon, gathering strength.

Anyhow, that's the news from here. I wish it were more interesting, but my adventures these past few days have been kind of low-key. However, I'm going out tonight, so you never know what might happen in the circus that is my life...


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

All Quiet On The Neon Front

Hey Gang...

I know that the Army of Reclickers it out there checking up on me, waiting for a new post, but the problem is, nothing interesting has happened since Sunday. I've had two *full* nights of work, even did a little overtime, and right now I'm just flat-out tired.

I've been up since 8:00 last night, after a very long day and only three hours of sleep, and right now I've got that tired ache behind my eyes that tells me it's time to shut it down for a few hours. I really need to get some rest.

Oh, I guess there is one thing to report--I may have found a new place to live. I found an apartment that's closer to work, and it's a nice one-bedroom place with vaulted ceilings, a fireplace, and a washer and dryer in the unit--pretty much everything I want in a place except for a gas stove. And the rent is three bucks a month cheaper than I'm paying right now.

The only holdup is my income verification (which is tough to prove, working for cash tips), but there may be a way around that. Anyhow, I hope it works out--I'd much rather live in my own place than have a roommate. I should know something by the end of the week.

Also, I am now officially climbing the corporate ladder--they hired another extra-board dealer in the poker room, so I am no longer the lowest of the low. Woot! No more washing lettuce--Soon I'll be on fries; then the grill. And pretty soon, I'll make assistant manager, and that's when the big bucks start rolling in.

Anyhow, I need to get some sleep. I might be hooking up with Audrey again tonight for some Vegas-style buffoonery, but before I hit the sack, I need to call Ed W and work out the logistics of my upcoming Phoenix trip--Jimmy Buffett at Desert Sky. Man, I can't wait!!!


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Yeah--We're Runnin' A Little Bit Hot Tonight...

I can barely see the road from the heat comin' on...

Ok kiddies... Y'all ain't never gonna believe the story I'm about to tell, but it's the god's-honest truth.

I don't know if all of you are familiar with common poker slang, but the one I'm hearing an awful lot lately, from my peers, is that I'm 'on a heater', or that 'I'm running hot'.

I dunno if that's true or not. I like to think that I finally figured out how to beat the local 4-8 game, that's all. Now, nobody around here remembers the other night when I dumped $240 into the game as I got rivered over and over again--that was a night when the statistical variance raised it's ugly head, and had I not been there entertaining a gal, I would've gotten up long before I lost over two hundred bucks. Actually, had she not been there, I'm guessing I probably would've played better, not being distracted like I was. But that's neither here nor there.

So yeah, I gave a little bit back, but overall, I'm *way* up these past two months--I've done much better than I would've ever expected. Granted, I've written about a few hands that have been extremely lucky for me, but please don't get the idea that those are typical. Most of my nights are spent grinding away, raking in small-to-medium sized pots, avoiding the big showdowns, and slowly building my stacks. That's how you make money playing poker--those big pots are lots of fun and interesting to read about, but most of my night is spent folding the majority of my hands and then picking my spots, trying to squeeze any extra bets out of my opponents when I've got the goods. What y'all read about are basically the highlights and the memorable hands.

But the bottom line is--regardless of what I've been reporting--I'm still consistently padding my bankroll almost every night. I don't know if that qualifies to be a 'heater'.

Call it a streak, call it a heater, call it whatever you want. But I took Thursday and Friday night off--I was just too tired to go out and play, and also, I'm doing my own personal boycott of the poker room I work in.

When I got to work on Friday, there was a memo posted saying that employees were no longer eligible for the daily high-hand jackpots--you know, those random straight flushes that I've hit twice for big payoffs. I imagine somebody probably complained because the staff was winning them, so the boss decided to take us out of the mix. (And although most of my co-workers also play in there on their time off, everyone was calling it the 'Mikey Rule').

One one hand, I can totally see the logic to it--you don't want to piss off the customers--they should be winning those jackpots, but on the other hand, I put more money down the rake-hole in that room than just about anyone (as of Friday, I had logged the eighth-most hours of all the players in the room for the month), and the rake is what pays for those jackpots.

I don't harbor a grudge or disagree with the new rule at all--I completely support everything my boss is doing to make that room better and more lucrative for us, so maybe 'boycott' isn't the right word. But I don't want to bite the hand that feeds me, either, so I've decided to just play elsewhere for awhile.

So now, my favorite place to play is the new M Resort. I could go on and on about how much I dig the place, but y'all already know that it's my new favorite joint in all of Vegas. And although their poker room is much busier and *much* nicer than the one I work in, the level of play is about the same--there are some very good players in there, and late at night, there are a lot of very bad players in there, too, and that's why I go there to play. It's a positive expectation game for me now. Whenever I go out to play cards, and I can reasonably expect to make money--it's quite a refreshing revelation, when you just know you can beat the game. A year ago, I didn't feel this way, but now, I'm pretty confident that each night I'm gonna come home with more than I left with.

Anyhow, that brings me to Saturday.

After two days away from the game, I was starting to get the itch. I had to go down to the casino anyways during the day--my buddy James had sent me a text message on what to bet for the Nascar race that night (we took Jeff Gordon over Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart over Carl Edwards, and Martin Truex over Ryan Newman). So I hustled down to the sports book and put fifty bucks down on that parlay, which would pay me $300 when it hit.

After my business was done in the sports book, I stuck my nose into the poker room for just a bit, but it didn't look good at all. No action whatsoever. I wanted to play, but that wasn't the game to get into. So, I just kept walking and headed back out to my truck.

It was a beautiful Vegas day outside, and I was pretty hungry, so instead of coming back home, I hopped back on the freeway and headed over to Grimaldi's. It had been far too long since I'd been there. I got my usual, a pepperoni and mushroom with a couple of Peroni drafts, and sat next to the bar enjoying the beautiful weather while I watched the Indians annihilate the Yankees. Good times!

While there, I played a little bit of phone tag with T-Rev--he'd just rolled into town, and the plan was to get together later in the day.

Of course I couldn't finish my pie, but a box of leftovers are always fun to take home, so I paid my tab and headed back to the ranch. I puttered around the house for a bit, unable to concentrate on getting anything done and eventually dozed off. A couple of hours later, T-Rev called again, and we made plans to meet up at The Mirage about an hour later.

Just as soon as I hung up the phone, Mamasan called, and we talked for a few minutes. I was still tired and out of it, but there was no reason to keep yawning and feel unable to get moving. But I had a severe case of bed-paralysis going on. I just couldn't get it into gear. I think it was a case of too much sleep by then.

Once I hung up the phone from her call, I was getting dressed and the phone rang again. This time it was work, and they were telling me that the 6:00 pm dealer had called in sick and that it was highly likely that I'd be needed within the next two hours, so I should hang tight and wait for a phone call. Grrr....

So I called T-Rev back, postponed our plans until Sunday, and kicked my shoes back off. I turned on the Nascar race and waited for the phone to ring.

But the bed-paralysis got me again, and I was asleep before I knew it. Work never called me back, which was ok with me, and I noticed about halfway through the race that we were kicking ass on our bets once again. All three of our drivers were doing much better than their opponents.

I should've stayed asleep, because at that point, I was hoping for a quick end to the race. Those of you who were watching, however, saw the ridiculous incident that killed my parlay card. Jeff Gordon had a single lugnut come loose which tore up his fender and put him back in the pits, giving Kyle Busch an opportunity to pass him up. Gordon never came back to challenge him, and for the want of a nail, my kingdom was lost...


I got a few text messages from James, and he was swearing up a blue streak, too. I guess he had more money on the race than I did, as I got a message that said That f*cking lugnut cost me a thousand bucks! It's true--our other drivers came through for us, but Gordon's tire messed up the whole deal.

Anyhow, I was out fifty bucks, and apparently, I wasn't going to make it back from working that night, either--I never got the callback.

I hung around the house until ten pm or so, and by that time, I was good and wide awake, the evil pillow releasing me from it's clutches. I was ready to play some cards, too.

So I pointed my dirty little truck in the direction of the M, and had the idea in my head that two days off was enough. I needed to keep my edge and get back on the winning track.

The M was hopping when I got there--just ridiculous crowds on a Saturday night. No sign of a recession there, and by the time I got to the poker room, all 12 tables were full and the waiting list was pretty deep. I put my name on it, then took a seat nearby in the sports book, chillin' in one of their big leather swivel chairs, watching SportsCenter highlights on the big screen.

I think I only had to wait about 20 minutes or so to get a table, so I bought in and grabbed my seat. Of course, crazy-ass Sara was at my table again, already pissing off the dealers and floorpeople with her constant seat changes and requests to change tables, and refusing to post her blinds whenever she moved. I swear, if she gets tossed out of the M, she ain't gonna have anyplace left to play in this town.

I saw a few familiar faces there, too--players I knew from my casino--and a couple of them asked me if I was out slummin' that night. If hanging out in the swank digs of the M is slummin', then yeah, I'm all for it!

But it was a fun table--there was a good combination of solid players (me and two other guys), a couple of average players, and a few complete fish. I ordered a coffee with Baileys & Kahlua from the smokin' hot Russian waitress and settled in for a long night of getting my poker mojo back.

The first couple of hands I was involved in were winners, so I was off to a good start. But it was truly a grind for a few hours--I never could get anything going. I won some small pots, but lost a few showdowns on the river, again. As I recall, I only ran one successful bluff during the first four hours I was at the table.

My goal, as always, was to make $150 in profit for the night, but I was stuck at being up between $80 and $100--I couldn't seem to get that last fifty bucks. Sometime after 3:00 am, I had $199 stacked in front of me, giving me not-quite-a-hundie in profits, so I told myself that if I could get over the hundred-dollar hump before my blinds come around again, I'll call it a night and be happy with doubling up.

Of course, I didn't quite make it by the time my big blind came around, so I told myself I stay around one more orbit, trying to get over the hump.

As it turned out, somebody had won two pots in a row, so there was a Kill Pot when it was my big blind, meaning that the stakes went up to $6-$12 for that hand. It also meant that limping in to see a flop would cost me an extra buck.

But when the cards came out, I looked down and saw an 8-9 of hearts, one of those middle suited connector hands that you like to see flops with. Besides, there were already four other people in the pot. Of course, after I tossed out my extra dollar to limp in, the guy on the Kill button raised it to $9 to go. Everyone else called, so I reluctantly tossed in another six bucks.

But the flop hit me, sorta. It was 5-7-Jack, and the Seven and the Jack were both hearts, giving me four to the straight flush. I checked, of course, hoping for a free card, but the guy on my left bet, and the 'killer' raised. Ugh--another $12 to see the turn, and I had to hope it was the Ten of Hearts, just in case somebody else had a bigger flush draw. But I called, as did the guy on my left.

The turn was my miracle card--the Ten of Hearts, giving me the straight flush! Bam!!!

I was first to act, so I checked. The guy on my left bet out $12, the 'killer' just called, fearing the flush, and I just called, sitting on the stone-cold unbeatable nuts. The pot was huge already, no need to scare anyone out of it.

The river paired the board with another five, which I was hoping gave one of my opponents a full-house, or even better, a four of a kind. So I bet out, and the guy on my left raised me. The other player thought for a second, gave a disgusted look as he peeked at his hole cards one more time, then threw them in the muck.

Time for Mikey to get paid! So I re-raised. My opponent didn't hesitate for a moment, and re-raised me back.

I couldn't believe my luck, so I popped him again. He then re-raised all-in. He was out of chips. Of course I called, and he turned over pocket Sevens for a Full-House, but then I showed the 8-9 of Hearts for the Straight Flush!


The dealer yelled out HIGH HAND ON NINE!, which brought the floorman over, and as soon as he verified it, she pushed me a monster pot. My opponent, cursing his sorry luck, not only went broke, but had a very angry girlfriend to contend with after that, too.

I had no idea what the jackpot payout was for the Jack-high straight flush, but the floorman said he'd find out and come back to tell me. The electronic sign which listed them all had suddenly stopped working, but the dealer told me that it would be at least $250. Nice!

I spent a few minutes stacking up the chips from that huge pot, and when it was all said and done, I had $299 in front of me--basically, the pot was almost $200 itself--I'd won over a hundred bucks on the hand, not including the as-yet-undetermined amount of the jackpot.

It didn't take long for them to get the paperwork together, and when they finally brought my winnings over, I found out that I scored a $441 bonus for the hand.


I tipped the dealer forty bucks, put the extra single on my stack to give me an even $300 in white chips, and kept the $400 separate. I *knew* my night wasn't going to get any better than that, so I grabbed some racks and announced that I was finished. You should've seen the mad scramble to get my seat!

While standing in line for the poker cashier, I tipped another one of the dealers ten bucks, plus ten for the floorman who did the paperwork and delivered the chips, so I cashed out for $680. Not bad for a hundred-dollar buy-in!

Wow. I just couldn't believe my luck.

That's three big straight flushes in three weeks, and all three paid me a nice jackpot. The weird thing is, I've only had three four-of-a-kinds in the last month, too, and those are much more common.

So yeah, I guess I *am* running a little bit hot right now.

I was keyed up at that point, as you might imagine. While I didn't want to play cards anymore, I wasn't ready to go directly home and back to bed, either.

But my gal Audrey works in a 24-hour joint down on the Strip, and she told me to come visit her sometime this week, so I figured it was the perfect time.

I made my way to the casino she works at, ditched the truck and headed towards the restaurant. At 4:30 am on a Sunday morning, the place was packed. A seat for one would be a half-hour wait!

That kinda sucked, but I had nothing else to do, so I wandered the casino a bit, playing a solo round of Spot the Hooker, before I eventually found one of them ten-cent triple play machines like they have over at Sierra Gold. I sat down and put in a twenty-spot, and I managed to make that last for almost a half hour.

Just as I was walking back up to the restaurant, the pager in my pocket started going off--Perfect timing!

Audrey came over to the table and I said You won't believe what just happened to me!

She could tell by the grin on my face that I'd had a good night, so she asked What did you hit???

So I gave her the rundown of my evening, and of course she was happy for me. We chatted for a bit, but the restaurant was crazy-busy, so she couldn't linger too much. But she gave me some recommendations before I ordered.

I ended up getting some calamari for an appy, and for dinner, I got some beef tips sauteed in a mushroom wine sauce, served over garlic mashed potatoes, and topped with french-fried onion strings. Oh man, talk about comfort food!

It was all pretty damn good, and by the time I was halfway through with my meal, the restaurant had started to mellow out some as the sun started to come up. So Audrey was able to come by and visit a bit while I ate, which made my evening that much more enjoyable.

The tab was only about $25, but I gave her fifty and told her to keep it--gotta spread the love around. We said goodbye and made some tentative plans for Tuesday night, and I headed for home.

I'm still not very tired, but I know I'll need to get some sleep at some point--I've gotta hook up with T-Rev later this afternoon, and I'm also scheduled to do a graveyard shift tonight. So I'm guessing that you probably won't hear from me again until sometime tomorrow.

Until then, y'all be cool and Get the feel for the wheel and keep the movin' parts clean...


Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Easy Eight

After that latest epic post, it's time for a little brain candy. Linda Lou tagged me with this the other day, but I haven't had time to do it until this weekend, so here goes.

8 Things I am looking forward to:

1) Jimmy Buffett in Phoenix. Going to hang out with my gang for a couple of days next month, drink lots of margaritas, lounge by the pool, grill some steaks, and oh yeah, sit in the grass out at Desert Sky Pavilion one night singing along with Brother Jimmy. It's one of my all-time favorite things to do. It should be a wonderful getaway for a couple of days.

2) The World Series of Poker Casino Employees no-limit tourney. I've been wanting to do this for four years now, and this year I finally have the time, money, and opportunity. That's just over a month away, and I can't wait. I may fall flat on my ass, but at least I can say that I've been there.

3) The 3rd Annual Binion's Poker Classic. It's kinda like a poor man's WSOP, and runs concurrently, but the action is good and all of the tournaments are affordable. Besides, I got to two final tables last year, too. Word around the campfire is that Dougie will be joining me for a couple of days and we'll play in two events.

4) The Sibling Revelry Cruise. This is in October, and all of my sisters are booked. I haven't done so yet, but I will soon. I need another visit to the Caribbean, stat!

5) Christmas in Nashville. For the first time in four years, I'll have time off over the holidays. Oh yeah, I also found out this week I am no longer the lowest man on the totem pole at work--they hired a new extra board dealer, so my portion of the shiat sandwich just got smaller.

6) Moving. Not that I'm looking forward to moving--I hate it, plus I'm not sure where I'm moving to, yet. But I'll be glad when it's over. I'm looking forward to being done and not having to worry about it anymore.

7) My next visit to Grimaldi's. It's been a few weeks--far too long, and I'm getting a craving. Hell, I might do that for lunch today!

8) Cyndi's next visit to Vegas. My sister is gonna be out here on business in a couple of weeks, staying at Caesars Palace, so I'm gonna be hanging out with her for a couple of days. While she's in her meetings, I'll be hitting the various poker rooms down there on the center Strip, and at night we'll partake some Vegas-style buffoonery.

8 Things I did yesterday:

1) Missed the Adam Carolla podcast. It's a daily ritual for me, but I was too busy to get around to it on Friday. But it's still there today, and the guest is Danica Patrick. I'll get to it sometime this weekend.

2) Wrote for about six hours. Yep, that big-ass post below this one took me almost six hours to write and edit. I hope y'all appreciate the work that goes into a big ol' brain dump like that.

3) One load of laundry. I have about five more to go, but like an actor trying to get into character, I'm asking myself What's my motivation?

4) Worked, if you could call it that. I was only there for an hour, and half of that time I was on break. It was one of those days where it would've just been better to stay home.

5) Went to the grocery store. Since I'm trying to empty the pantry completely before I get out of here, I've been doing an unofficial boycott of the grocery stores and either eating at work or eating out. But as much as I love rum, I can't drink it straight. And one must keep salsa on hand at all times, too.

6) Got some more sleep. Yep, Thursday was the system re-charger after two or three days of running myself ragged, but Friday was where I made a deposit in the sleep-bank. I didn't get 13 and a half hours in, but I sure gave it the old college effort.

7) Paid my insurance. Remember when times were tight just before March Madness and I arranged to skip a month of premiums, doubling down this month? Yeah, I paid that bill yesterday.

8) Used my coffeemaker for the first time in three weeks. Yep, it'd been sitting idle for almost a month, but yesterday morning I fired it up and drank an entire pot while writing.

8 Things I wish I could do:

1) Write and play poker for a living. Not there yet.

2) Two chicks at the same time! Kimmy and Beth, specifically...

3) Win a bracelet.

4) Get to the ocean more often.

5) Stop raising with Ace-King

6) Instantly have all of my stuff moved to a new place with the snap of my fingers. I am *not* looking forward to hauling all this shiat back down the stairs.

7) Find a good dentist who doesn't charge much. Having no insurance sucks.

8) Come up with a good idea for a book, and enough content to make it worthwhile.

8 Shows I watch:

1) SportsCenter

2) The Unit

3) 24

4) The Deadliest Catch

5) Around the Horn

6) Pardon The Interruption

7) No Reservations

8) Jeopardy!

8 Of my favorite meals:

1) A pepperoni and mushroom pizza at Grimaldi's

2) French onion soup, broiled sea scallops, wild mushroom risotto

3) Grilled ribeye, loaded baked potato, sauteed onions and mushrooms, Oregon Pinot

4) Chicken fried steak and eggs, with hashbrowns and toast

5) Mamasan's meatloaf, mashed potatoes, peas, and corn muffins

6) Pork tenderloin, spinach salad, and crescent rolls at Amy's house

7) French toast and bacon

8) Chili dogs with cheese and onions


Some Call It A Bender...

I'll just call it Another Week in the Life.

But I'm beginning to think that the more weeks I have like this, the fewer weeks I'm gonna have overall, so I should probably dial it down a bit.

Actually, it wasn't as bad as I'm making it sound--I had a great couple of days that were high on the buffoonery scale, but not really too bad on the drunkenness scale. I'm just worn out, that's all...

Let's see, where did I leave off? Sometime Tuesday, I believe it was...

I remember Tuesday starting off as a very long night--I got called into work early on Monday night ('Early' being 10:30 that night), and having to work the entire night, getting locked down for like the last six hours straight. When the morning dealer finally showed up at 6:30 on Tuesday morning, nobody was happier to see him than I was. Talk about the 'Hard Eight', I did it.

The highlight of the night (besides the great money, of course) was that my gal Audrey was in the game and stayed all night until the game broke. She's one of them young hotties that crushed me in the no-limit game a week ago, and said she felt bad about rivering me, but we still had a lot of fun together. Anyhow, after my shift was over, we took off from the casino and had breakfast together over at Sierra Gold, where I introduced her to the wonders of the clam chowder bread bowl. Actually, I had their graveyard special ham-steak and eggs, but the wind was kicking up and the temperature outside was dropping, so it was a good meal to enjoy after a long night at the poker table.

And the clam chowder there at Sierra Gold, while pretty damn good, isn't over-the-top wonderful, but the whole sourdough bread bowl thing, along with the toasted crown, well, it's a pretty damn good combination, especially on a chilly day. And with a hearty beer like Newcastle or even a Guinness, it makes for a fine meal.

We sat and chatted for a bit, but I had to get going--I was tired as hell, and knew that I had an appointment to go look at new living quarters, and I wanted to shower and freshen up and get a few things done from the to-do list. So we exchanged numbers and called it a night around nine in the morning. As I was driving Audrey back to her car, we made plans to get together again that night, since we both had the night off. She likes to play poker as much as I do, so our plan was to divide and conquer the 4/8 game later that night, after we got some sleep.

I already mentioned that the new living arrangements were a total bust, so that turned out to be an annoying waste of time which only served to deprive me of much-needed sleep. I got back to the house and tried to take a nap--I was exhausted--but my phone kept ringing all afternoon. It seems that all of my siblings, god bless 'em, prefer to call me whenever they're stuck in traffic during the afternoon commute back east. So whenever there's an accident on I-65 or I-24 back in Nashville, I'm sure I'll hear from Amy, and if Reverend Dave is stuck behind a tractor or a herd of pigs down in Alabama, that's when he calls. Tuesday must've been a perfect storm of bad traffic down south, not to mention all the wrong numbers and random text messages I recieve throughout the day. And being On-Call 24/7, turning off the phone isn't really an option for me.

The bottom line is, I didn't get much sleep at all on Tuesday, but around 6 pm or so, I decided to stop fighting it and I got up and took a shower, got dressed, and ready to go out for the evening. I called Audrey, but she cancelled--she had been out running around the entire day, after being up all night, so she said she was going to bed and would call me again on Wednesday.

No problemo, I thought--I can find something to do in this town on my own.

I puttered around for a bit, but eventually made it down to the poker room and put myself on the waiting list. But there only two 4-8 games, and both of them looked pretty tight, full of old regulars and not much action. I sat around for about 15 minutes, and nobody was getting up, either (it takes a long time for players to go broke when they're not betting). It didn't look like it was gonna get much better anytime soon, so I told the floorman to take my name off the list and that I'd just go find another game somewhere else--there was no money to be made in our room that night.

So I took off and fought the wind as I drove over to the M. Seriously, a little secret that most tourists don't realize is that Vegas is a very windy city, and sometimes it just gets ridiculous here--they're always putting out high wind advisories, and Tuesday night was just crazy outside. It was blowing like stink with gusts up into the 50 mph range, making it tough to drive, much less walk. But I got to the M without having to take a detour to Oz, and found my way to the poker room.

There was a waiting list, but I was first on it. So I grabbed a beer and a comfy leather chair there in the sportsbook and waited for my name to be called. I gotta admit, the M is quickly becoming my favorite casino in all of Vegas--they got everything right, and the whole property is a beautiful and comfortable place. For years, I thought Green Valley Ranch was the best of the best, but the M is rapidly climbing to the top of the list. Just sitting in the book and having a beer was a nice way to kill time, and unlike the higher-end joints on the Strip, I don't feel like everything there was designed to get every last dime out of my pocket (Mandalay Bay, I'm lookin at YOU!).

I didn't have to wait long for my name to called and as soon as I sat down at the table, who did I see sitting across from me, but the infamous 'Sara'. She's a legend here in Vegas--I swear, you could walk into any poker room in Vegas and just mention the name 'Sara' and you'll be met with eye rolls and groans from everyone on staff and half the players. I could write volumes on my own experiences with her, but the bottom line is that she's the biggest pain in the ass ever foisted upon the poker community in Vegas--she's almost like a human version of a biblical plague. She's been thrown out of every card room in southern Nevada at some point or another, and has been banned permanently from several of them--including the one I work in.

Of course, as soon as she saw me, she was all sweet and friendly, but luckily she was short stacked and looked like she was ready to leave soon anyways. Thank god. While waiting for the button to pass me, I called back over to my poker room to tell them that Sara was sitting across from me, and of course the floorman just laughed and said "That's what you get for leaving here!".

Anyhow, on my first hand of the night, I looked down and saw pocket deuces. Of course I limped in to see the flop--I normally do with any pair, regardless of position, just in case I get lucky and flop a set.

Which I did--the flop was a 2-4-6 rainbow, so I only had to fear a bigger set or somebody playing 3-5. Luckily some bigger cards came that paired people up, so I raked a nice pot to start the night. Two hands later, I got pocket Aces. There was nothing higher than a Queen on the board, and even though there were three cards to a flush out there, I didn't fear that from my opponent, and again, I was stacking chips after pushing the action the whole way and then getting raised at the end.

On the very next hand, I had Ace-Nine, and the flop came 9-9-6, with two hearts. It got checked around, and the Ace of Hearts came on the turn, giving me a full house. I hoped it gave somebody a King-high flush, it did, and he had the bad sense to re-raise me twice, so again, I raked a huge pot. About two hands later, I caught another monster and somebody else was doing all of the pot-building for me, so after just ten minutes, I was already up a hundred bucks!

Have I mentioned that I love the M?

Once I finished stacking my chips, I had to brag a little, so I sent out a text message to a few people letting 'em know how good I was running.

I was on a heater, but the downside of that is that people started to give me a wide berth. Yeah, it was easy to steal blinds whenever I had something, but on the other hand, nobody would give me action, either. As soon as I'd raise, it was like Everybody outta the pool!

There was on jackass who walked up later who seemed to have learned all he knew about poker from watching TV, and every time he'd make a bet, he slam the chips down hard and cut out his bet as fast as humanly possible, trying to create a table image of somebody not to be trifled with. But it was just comical watching him and every time he made a bet, everyone else at the table would start chuckling and making eyes at each other as if to say My god, what an idiot.

So I just had to get up into his kitchen. Every time he made a bet I'd needle him a bit. So man, did you learn that move on TV? Or, Do you practice betting on the ironing board back at the house?, and Don't bet angry!, stuff like that. I could tell that I was getting to him, as he started throwing his cards in the muck like somebody who was pissed off, and he'd accompany every fold with a heavy sigh. The other players were giggling at him too, like they wanted to say something to him but happy that I was the one speaking for the entire group. Besides, I was the big stack at the table anyways, so the group dynamics were pretty much in my favor. I might've been running over the game, but I wasn't being a dick about it--I was friendly and gregarious and we had a fun game going on until that guy sat down and tried to plant his flag. So it was nine against one, and I was the ringleader of the nine.

I figured I could snap the guy off, eventually, but I wanted to do it with some flair. Normally, I keep my chips in stacks of twenty so that they're easy to track. But I discreetly started making stacks of 4, 8, and 16 just so I could grab whatever I needed without having to count 'em whenever I had to bet.

After a few hands passed, the perfect hand came along. I was in the big blind with 9-Jack offsuit, and Mr. I Can Bet Louder And Faster Than Anyone was on the button. About three or four players limped in, and he raised, so I called.

The flop was a thing of beauty--it came out 8-10-Queen, giving me the nut straight. I bet out, being in first position. I got a caller, but then the idiot on the button raised it to eight bucks, with his now-famous betting style. The turn was a rag, so I bet again, with the intention of just calling his raise. We were heads-up by then, and I could tell that everyone at the table was rooting for me. Of course he raised again, so I figured that he had pocket Queens, Kings or Aces. I just smooth-called, making a comment like I don't know if I can beat a bet that intense. Everyone else at the table kinda chuckled.

The river was another low card, and there was no flush possibility, so I had the stone-cold unbeatable nuts. Again, I bet out, representing two pair, hoping he had pocket Queens. I figured if he just called, he only had Kings or Aces, but if he raised, he had three ladies.

Lucky for me, he raised! Sixteen of his chips hit the felt at lightning speed.

Since I couldn't be beaten, I grabbed a stack of sixteen and did my best sloppy imitation of him. I announced my raise and then slammed the table with two hands, and cut out four messed-up stacks of four, splashing them all over the place in front of me, making everyone else at the table laugh out loud.

He re-raised, so I did it again! The second time, he just called, and I said Your Queens are no good--I flopped the nuts. He showed 'em, slammed them into the muck, and stomped off, swearing. I played two more hands, waiting for my button to pass, and after stacking my chips back into towers of twenty, I realized that I was up $176 and had barely been there an hour.

Not bad at all!

So I racked up and cashed out, happy with another profitable night at the poker table. I was thinking about going over to the Red Cup Cafe and giving them another try, but a friend of mine was playing in a crazy 4-8 Omaha Hi-Lo game, so I decided to stick around and watch that for a little while instead.

I lurked behind her for a little bit, but watching live poker ain't nearly as fun as seeing it on TV with the hole-card cam and hearing Norman Chad talking about his ex-wives, so I gave up after about ten minutes. On the walk back to the valet, I decided that I wasn't hungry at all and realized how tired I was, so I opted to just go back home and go to bed. I'd had a good night and I was still fairly worn out from lack of sleep.

When I got to the valet, I was amazed at how bad the weather had gotten. The wind was absolutely howling outside, and the temperature had dropped about ten degrees. Before, it was windy and cool--now it was windy and cold. Not only that, but it was dangerously windy. Not that they had to tell people, but the guys at the valet insisted that everyone wait inside for their cars. So there was a crowd of people in the vestibule between the two sets of doors leading to the lobby. While we were standing there, the pitch of the wind went up even higher, and the glass doors started to shake. And there at the M, just as you're walking in, there are these big 4 x 6 welcome mats that must weigh about thirty pounds each--while I was waiting there, the wind picked 'em right up and hurled them down the driveway. Had anybody been hit by one of those, it would've done some real damage.

My truck finally arrived a few minutes later, and just walking out to get it was an interesting experience. I gave the valet guy a buck of my profits and I took off, dodging all the blowing tumbleweeds and detritus along St. Rose Parkway, and made my way home without further incident. I went straight to bed, happy that I'd put the flannel sheets back on earlier in the week. Baby, it was cold outside!

Around three in the morning, my phone went off. It was the poker room. I uttered a four-letter word and answered, pissed off that they'd be calling me. I was much happier in my warm bed, and I had no desire to go to work.

I knew my buddy James was working the floor that night, so the first thing I said was Man, are you frickin' serious???

Luckily, he came back with "Hey, I've got a question for you--and no, I'm not calling you into work, we've only got one game going."

Ok, what do you need?

"Who sings that song 'I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight'?"

WTF? You woke me up to ask me that?!?!?

"Well, it was playing overhead in the casino, and nobody in the game could figure out who the artist was, and Kevin (one of the players) said 'Hey, call Mikey, he knows every song from the 80s', so here we are. You know who sings it?"

Cutting Crew, you assholes.

"Hey, by the way, you should come down here--the game is seven-handed, and five of them really suck."

Really? *perk*

So I rolled out of bed, put my clothes back on, stopped at the 7-11 for can of Starbucks double-shot, and made my way back to the poker room.

The game only lasted another hour or so, but James was right--it was full of drunks and bad players.

I was surprised, however, to see that one of the guys who only plays no-limit was in the game, too. He's a decent no-limit player, but every time I get in the game with him, he tries to bully me whenever he's got position. Every time I make a bet, he always raises me. And in the 4-8 game I just sat down in, he was three seats to my left.

It was more of the same, and although he's an aggressive player, he's not a bad guy, so I enjoy playing with him, knowing that he'll give me action whenever I have a good hand. Anyhow, as soon as I sat down, he started raising every time I limped into a pot. It must've happened five or six times, and the flops were missing me completely. So even though he was kinda short-stacked, he still stole a lot of chips from me.

I finally told him, after about the sixth time he raised me, that he wasn't gonna get away with it again, and that I was gonna come after him. He laughed and said "Bring it!"

So on the next hand, it was a Kill Pot (he'd won two hands in a row, so the game changed from 4-8 to 6-12). I was in the blind with 5-2 of Clubs. For no other reason than to just rattle his cage, I raised the action to $9 to go. He called, but then somebody else re-raised to $15. I reluctantly called, falling back on The Donkey's Mantra of 'But they're *suited*'. But then my opponent that I was gunning for capped it at $21.

Shiat. I *hate* the Call-Raise. It usually means that somebody was slow-playing a monster, and once they see they have enough action, they pump it. That's what I was up against.

I hated my hand, but by then the pot was so huge that I had to see a flop (there were five players still in!). So I called.

The flop came out Ace-Four-King, and the Ace and the Four were both clubs, giving me the straight flush draw! I could see the monitor over my opponent's shoulder, and there it was, big as day, advertising the High Hand of the Day (which I'd already won twice to the tune of $500+) as the Ace-Five straight flush! The prize money was only like $121 at the time, but hey, that was nothing compared to winning a huge pot and sticking it to the guy who'd been raising me ever since I sat down. (With the added bonus of giving my boss a conniption fit if I won another one)

Being in early position, I bet out $6, thinking that 1) six bucks is cheap and it'll put people off of guessing what I'm holding, 2) somebody might fold, and 3) if I make my hand, I want this pot to be as big as possible--I might not get any action if that Three of Clubs, or any club, hits the board.

Unfortunately, and just like clockwork, my opponent raised. It caused everyone else to fold, and that left me. But I wasn't going anywhere, drawing to a monster like a straight flush like I was. So I called.

Turn brought the Three of Diamonds--not a straight flush, but it gave me the nut straight. I checked, disguising my hand and giving my opponent a little rope with which to hang himself. Of course he bet $12, and I called him.

The river was a complete rag--I didn't get a club for a low (and dangerous) flush, the board didn't pair and nor did my straight get sabotaged.

So I bet out, saying, I think I'm good here.

Of course he raised another $12, but I re-raised, holding an unbeatable hand. He didn't have much left by then, so he raised all-in for his last $22. I called, and he turned over pocket Kings--he'd flopped trips and I saw that his pre-flop play was legitimate.

I just shook my head and said, Sorry man, you're gonna hate me for this... and I turned over the Five-Deuce to show the straight. A huge groan/cheer went up from the table as everyone saw the hand. (As a side note, somebody needs to coin a word to describe the noise that comes from a poker table after a big showdown--it's a combination of swearing, cheering, groans, high-fives, and disbelief--but it's a very distinctive sound, that's for sure).

My opponent just laughed, shook his head, called me a lucky bastard, and asked for another rack of white. If it were anyone else, they would've probably come unglued, but he knew that I knew that he'd been stealing from me, and right before that I told him that I was coming after him. I watched him for a bit, and although he wasn't tilting, I could see him over across the table shaking his head, thinking How could that rat bastard raise with five-deuce?. I didn't rub it in, and he was a good sport. And I'm sure he'll get me back at some point in the future...

The game was pretty lame after that--that one big pot had made everyone else beyond short-stacked, they were mini-stacked, so it didn't take long for the table to break for the night. I frittered away a few chips here and there, not catching anything, and by the time we got down to four-handed, I was up $157 for my efforts. Again, not bad for an hour's worth of poker, but I'll be the first to admit that most of it came from one hand where I got extremely lucky.

I hung around a bit while they closed the room. All the players took off, as did the dealer, but James had to stick around and wait for the morning crew. So I told him that I'd stick around and shoot the shiat with him and the cocktail waitress while we waited for 7:00 am to roll around, only because I knew that he'd want to go get breakfast at Sierra Gold after he got off work.

I was all for that--Since I stopped buying groceries for this house, I hadn't had anything to eat since breakfast with Audrey the day before. I was ready for a meal.

This time around, instead of the Vegas-style ham-steak breakfast, I opted for some popcorn shrimp and the Asian chicken salad (damn that thing is good!). I fed twenty five bucks of my $325 in winnings from the previous night into that ten-cent triple play machine, but I got no love whatsoever. While I was eating, I slid over one seat so that James could give it a try, and wouldn't you know it--that rat bastard hit two quick four-of-a-kinds! Grrr...

Oh well, I can't complain. While we were there, the bartender reminded me that I was entered into the Tax Day slot tournament that night and that I needed to be back by six. I said I'd be there, but James declined as he said he'd be sleeping then--That's like three in the morning to me! (We both won entry by getting a four of a kind at video poker anytime from April 1st to the 15th).

So, after breakfast, I made my way home with the intention of tackling a growing to-do list, but my personal road to hell is double-paved with good intentions. I ended up listening to a couple of podcasts, surfing the Craiglist ads for new living accommodations (nothing good there), watching some SportsCenter reruns, and I also watched the season premiere of The Deadliest Catch that I'd recorded the night before--love that show.

I managed to catch a nap for a couple of hours in the afternoon, but I woke up at 4:00 pm to the stark realization that I still hadn't filed my taxes. Damn! I totally forgot about it--I'd gathered all the forms and paperwork back in February, put it all together on a clipboard, and it had been sitting there on my printer gathering dust for two months. Luckily, I didn't have a complicated return this year, and it only took me about an hour to get it done. And since my reported earnings dropped right off the edge of the table last May, I'm due for a $291 refund. Nice! But I'll never see it--the guys running the racket over at the Department of Education keep it all to pay down the old student loans. That's where all them 'stimulus checks' have been going, too.

Anyhow, once I finished my bidness with the gub-mint, I considered going back to bed. I was mightily tired, and playing in a video poker tournament didn't appeal to me very much. But it was free money--They were paying five places and I think there were only about 25 people entered. Besides, there was free grub, too. Y'all know I love the vittles over at Sierra Gold anyways, but free is especially tasty.

So I showered and got dressed, and made my way down to the bar, with every intention of playing the tourney, grabbing a bite to eat, then hitting WalMart for a few things before coming back home and going to bed.

That was my intention.

I got to the bar, and it was packed--no seats at the bar at all, so I had to get a table off on the side. Besides the bar staff, I didn't see any familiar faces whatsoever. So I just ordered a beer, watched the Marlins/Braves game, and waited for them to call my name. I checked in for the tourney, but it got kind of a late start. There were a few drawings for door prizes, but I didn't get in on any of those. Eventually, the put out a buffet spread of pizza, wings, nachos, chicken tenders, etc., so I grabbed a plate and had some garlic wings and some BBQ chicken pizza. The pizza was good, but I found that the garlic wings aren't my cup of tea.

Eventually, a seat at the bar opened up and I took it. They finally called my name, along with the gal sitting next to me, so we went over to the tournament machines and took our turn in round one. Basically, we had two-and-a-half minutes to play as many hands of video poker as possible, and the top ten people advanced to the second round.

Both of us did well enough to make the cut, so we had something to talk about once we returned to our seats. Her name was 'Jen' and she's a bartender down on the Strip, but lives out here in Henderson just like the rest of us. I found her to be fairly attractive, but even better, she was fun to talk to and made the waiting around part much more enjoyable. So we sat around for over an hour, chatting, sipping on a few beers, just waiting to get called over again.

We played heads-up again in round two, but she destroyed me--she outscored me by about 30%. It wasn't a heads-up competition though, it was raw scores, so I still had a chance to make the top five and the money, depending on what other people did.

We hung out for a bit more, laughing it up and such, and I decided that I was glad that I decided to get out of bed that afternoon and come down to the bar. Not only had a met a cute gal, who by that time had decided it was ok to rest her hand on my leg as we talked, but I still had a chance to win the slot tourney, too.

While chatting it up and making progress with her, my phone went off--it was Audrey texting me, telling me to meet her over in the poker room in a few minutes. Damn--when it rains, it pours!

I texted her back, saying I'd be there in a bit, as I was still in a slot tournament over at Sierra Gold. The typical guy in me opted not to invite her over to join me, though...

Eventually, I found out that I was the bubble boy--out in sixth place, but I stuck around to see how Jen faired. She ended up winning the thing outright, so that was pretty cool. I think she got like $350 or something. And my phone number... (the *real* prize, if you ask me!)

But we said our goodbyes and I headed over to the poker room to meet up with Audrey. She was all decked out in high heels and short skirt and looking all kinds of hot, so I considered myself very lucky that the seat next to her at the poker table was the first one to open up when I got there.

As tired as I felt, I thought it was a good choice, again, to get out of bed that afternoon.

I thought I was off to a good start, as on my first hand, I looked down and saw pocket fours. I limped in, flopped trips, pushed the action, and was beaten on the river by a straight. Damn.

I probably should've stopped there, because the Poker Gods decided that I needed to be humbled. Over the course of the next four or five hours, I lost $240 with pocket Aces (twice), pocket Kings (also twice), pocket Queens, Ace-King and Ace-Queen too many times to mention, and three times I lost with flushes against two pair that boated on the river. The most frustrating thing was losing three different times when I had flopped trips. Nothing pisses me off more than that. It was an absolutely amazing string of suckouts--I didn't have a big hand hold up all night. It was just one of those poker sessions that happens once in a blue moon where it doesn't matter how well you play, you're going to lose, and you're going to lose big pots because it's always on the river.

The frustrating thing about it was that I was playing against some really bad players--people who I normally beat like a drum (the guy who kept raising my four Aces was at the table, for instance). But this time, they all made their draws. Audrey was faring no better, and by the time the table broke, she was down about three bills, and I was down that previously mentioned $240.

When I got to the poker room earlier that evening, I had $270 in my wallet, and it was almost all gone.

Since our game broke (most of the other players took our money, cashed out, and ran), we figured that our luck must change if we sat in a different game. I hit the ATM while Audrey secured two seats. I took out another $200, thinking that there was no possible way on The Flying Spaghetti Monster's green earth that I could lose over $300 in one night playing 4-8 limit Holdem. Nobody is that bad, and only Eddie Mush from A Bronx Tale is that unlucky. And I am no Eddie Mush, at least not at the poker table.

I guess you could say that my luck changed--the suckouts were fewer and further between, but Audrey was getting her has kicked. I think she actually lost another hundred before giving up in disgust, but by the time that game broke around 4:00 am, I had $115 worth of chips in front of me--and I'd bought in for a hundred. So I guess I was only down $225 for the night.

Still, that sucked completely.

On the other hand, Audrey and I had a wonderful time--we had a lot of laughs all through the night and even for being part of a major losing session at the poker table, we still had a lot of fun, and even though I was dead-tired, I didn't want to call it a night.

So as we were walking out of the poker room, I asked her if she wanted to go grab some breakfast.

Nah, not hungry...

Wanna get a drink instead?

Nah, I'm not gonna drink anymore...

Hmm... I could tell that she wasn't ready to go home, but I couldn't swing for the fences just yet. First of all, this was like the first time we'd gone out together, second of all, back at the house, my room was a complete mess with dirty laundry everywhere and unsuitable for any guests, and third of all, I could tell that her losses at the poker table kinda stung and killed her mood. I was about to give up and save my mojo for another day, when she suggested we go play some Pai Gow.

I was all for that, but then we had to decide where to go.

How about the new M Resort?, I suggested.

She was up for that, but we'd have to take separate cars, as I lived there in Green Valley Ranch, but she lives over closer to the M, and she knew she'd be half asleep when we finally called it quits and wanted the short drive home instead of having to come back and fetch her car. So she followed me over there, and we were wandering into the casino just before 5:00 am.

She'd never been to the M before, and was properly impressed. There was only one Pai Gow table open at the time, but luckily there were two seats available right next to each other. We both bought in for a hundred and settled in for the long haul.

It was a fun table with cool players and a couple of really nice dealers, plus a very mellow floorperson who only had our table to watch. Audrey stopped drinking completely, and went with straight Coke to sip on while she played, but I alternated between coffee with Bailey's & Kahlua or bottled water.

Our Pai Gow session was a lot of fun, and even though I started on a positive note, I found myself re-buying for another hundred after about an hour and a half. Honestly, I was ready to leave, or at least take a break and get some breakfast, but Audrey was on a mission to win back the poker losses. So I put another Benjamin into the local economy, hoping for a miracle comeback.

But anyone who has spent anytime playing Pai Gow knows that it's a slow grind, and unless you get spectacularly lucky or unlucky, you're gonna be playing on the same money for a good long time--the losses aren't that big, nor are the wins, so we were hoping for some big bonus hands. We had a stretch that brought us back a bit--at one point I had just over $300 in front of me, and I was feeling pretty good. Both of us came so close to monster hands--I missed the Royal by one card a couple of times, and I came so close to getting straight flushes probably a dozen times. The same thing went for Audrey--she was so tantalizingly close to making huge hands so many times that we felt like we were knocking on the door. So we kept playing.

But just as players go on hot streaks, so do the dealers. Around ten in the morning, the table was full, and everyone was playing at least $25 per hand. In fact, I think at that time, the table minimum was $100 per hand. That's when the dealer dealt herself, on a full table no less, a Straight Flush with a pair on top. Had the random number generator spit out any other seat number at the beginning of the hand, we would've all gotten paid an Envy bonus, but as it was, the dealer crushed us all. It was huge hand and there was probably about $1200 in action on the table at the time.

Just as she set her hand, Audrey knocked over a full glass of Coke all over the table, ruining the cards, hosing down all the chips, and christening that brand-new layout. It also ran down into the rack, so the game came to a complete stop while they cleaned up the mess. And oh what a beautiful mess it was. I couldn't decide whether to laugh or feel bad. Audrey was more pissed off than embarrassed, but everyone took it in stride (Hey, we'd been tipping the hell out of the dealers all night, so her and the floorperson were cool about it). After a few minutes, they decided that the mess was too severe to continue, so they just closed the table and had security come deal with it, while we all picked up and moved to the next table over.

It probably took a good twenty minutes or so to get the table opened and the game going, but once we did, I felt like I was on the comback trail. I had my stack back up to $300, but I just couldn't get over the hump. The floorman and dealer were still in a good mood, and even comped Audrey a pack of cigarettes, while she earned the temporary nickname 'Sippy Cup'. It was still a lot of fun, and I couldn't believe that I'd been chugging along for almost 18 hours by that point.

We had to say goodbye to our graveyard shift dealer, as the day shift crew came on to replace her. By then we knew we were on an epic bender of historical significance. I hadn't gambled like that in years--not even during recent March Madness gatherings had I logged this much time at the tables. And it was a matter of pride, too. Audrey had been teasing me about being old, so I wanted to show her that I could keep up with the young whippersnappers like her. Besides--I felt like I was due for a major comeback. That, and the fact that I'd probably drunk about three pots worth of coffee that night were what kept me going.

Our day shift dealer, although very nice and friendly, was killing us. It drove me nuts that no matter how big of a hand I'd have, she'd have just enough to beat me, or if it was a monster, all I could do was push.

Hand after hand, I'd get three pair, she'd get a full house. I'd get a full house, split it, and she'd get a straight on the bottom. I'd get a straight, she'd get a flush. It was uncanny, and it was driving me absolutely stark raving batshiat insane.

Every time she flipped over a hand, I had the same reaction... ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

I wasn't being abusive or swearing or being an annoying prick, but I was just dumbfounded how the dealer could keep making hand after hand after hand. Eventually, Audrey lost $200 there, bringing her losses for the night to someplace just north of five bills. She'd had enough. I was still up $100 there at the M, but down about $150 for the night. I offered to call it quits and take her to breakfast, but she said she'd just watch me play for a few minutes.

About ten minutes after that, I'd had enough of the dealer getting monsters, so I banked the table and took the dealer's hand. Yep, just my luck--I got a Queen high Pai Gow. Unbelievable. I was thisclose to going all Duran Duran on the table and tossing it over and permanently ending my brief association with the M Resort right then and there, but cooler heads prevailed. Audrey suggested that I take a walk and get some fresh air by walking her to her car.

Yep, that sounded like a good plan.

So we slowly made our way back to the parking lot, where I kissed her goodbye and told her what a great time I had, regardless of gambling losses. She said that she was considering calling in sick to work that night and she'd give me a call if she did. I told her not to do that, but to go make some money back. Besides, I *knew* I'd be sleeping like a corpse with severe case of narcolepsy by the time Thursday night rolled around.

I took my time strolling back to the Pai Gow table. I stopped by the pit and saw my gal Jovanka--she's now working over there full time. We had a brief visit and did the whole let's-get-together-sometime thing, but her schedule is directly opposite of mine--the only two days I'm definitely scheduled each week are the only two days she has off. It might be awhile before I see her again.

Anyhow, when I got back to the table, I was in a proper frame of mind, and ready to get over the hump. I caught a few hands, made a few bucks back, and saw that I was within striking distance of that magical break-even point. Remember, I'd lost $240 at the poker table, and was in for $200 at the M's Pai Gow table. I was just short of $400 within twenty minutes of saying goodbye to Audrey. I was tired and ready to go, but I wanted to break even--I figured two more winning hands would get me there.

Right after I counted down my stacks, I finally caught my miracle hand--I was dealt A-K-6-8-8-8-8. Yep, Four of a Kind! That pays 25 to 1 on the Fortune bonus, and I had a nickel out there.


I set my hand as quickly as I could, and told the dealer If I lose this hand, I'll never play Pai Gow again! She peeked at my top two cards, saw the Ace-King, and said "What about a push?"

I told her that I was cool with a push.

But it didn't matter, I won the hand outright for $28.50 and a $125 bonus. Cha-ching!

I tipped out the dealer and then said to color me up--I was going home. I sent a quick text to Audrey to let her know of my good fortune--

Four eights baby, and a purple chip to go!

--but her response was the electronic equivalent of showing me the finger. Heh. But she wrote back a few minutes later, happy that I finally got over the hump.

When I colored up, I ended up with $550--one purple and two greens. Gotta love that. I got to the poker room the night before with $270 in my pocket, plus hit the ATM for another two hundred, but once all was said and done, I had $565, a $95 profit, and I finally got it all back on the last hand of the day.

As tired as I was, I had a spring in my step as I made my way to the cashier. It was past 2:00 in the afternoon by then, and I'd been going for almost 22 hours straight! I made my way out into the piercing sunlight and headed for home.

Knowing I'd be dead to the world soon, I decided to stop at the bank and deposit my funds before going to bed. I was also starving, having not eaten since six o'clock the night before, so I broke my own code and hit the McDonald's drive-thru for a double cheeseburger and a Sprite (no more caffeine, thank you very much!).

I made that quick post as soon as I got home, but I was feeling rather droopy. A long hot shower rinsed all of the casino funk off of me, and I dove straight into bed, where I remained for the next 13 hours or so.

Yep, I can hang with the young chicks and play cards and gamble all night, but man, I don't think I wanna do it very often. Benders are great fun, but only if taken in moderation.


Friday, April 17, 2009


I think it's time to play tourist.

I got an email this morning from the Bellagio, offering discounted rooms over the course of the next couple of months. Now, of all the swank joints in Vegas, Bellagio is one hotel that I've always wanted to stay at but never have. So I was thinking to myself how fun it would be to go and check in down there for a couple of nights and just hit their poker room for hours on end, not having to commute my ass back to Henderson once I got finished playing at night.

That idea really appealed to me this morning. I then remembered that I had three days off from work near the end of May so that I could play in a World Series of Poker event. Why not combine the two--stay at Bellagio while played poker at the Rio for 12 hours a day. Brilliant!

I found that I could get 2 nights in a lake view room for just over $300 total, which wasn't too bad at all. At least, it met my definition of 'reasonableness'. But before I put in my credit card info, I thought--Hey, where else would I like to stay during the WSOP?

And then it hit me--I am becoming totally enamored with the new M resort (been there three times this past week), and that was just as good an excuse as any to go and check out the hotel and live like a tourist. So instead of the lake view rooms at Bellagio, I booked an 'Executive Resort' room at the M for a little less than half as much. Done and done! Oh, and the M doesn't charge my credit card for one night's stay right up front, unlike Bellagio.

One thing, which was *almost* a deal-breaker for me, was that the M has a $25 per night 'resort fee'. I've always felt that's kind of a chickenshit way of doing business, advertising one rate and then tacking on a $25 fee per night. Why not just include it in the room rates? Upon further investigation, I found out that for the $25, here's what you get: Unlimited in-room wireless access, Unlimited access to the fitness center, Nightly turn down service, Choice of daily newspaper, Free scheduled transportation to/from the airport and Fashion Show Mall, and Free local & 800 phone calls.

That's not too bad, considering that most places now charge at least ten bucks a day for the fitness center and at least $12-$20 per day for in-room internet access. So that's not a deal-breaker for me, because I'll bring my laptop along and get full use of the the internet access. The nightly turn-down service would be a nice perk, but I hope they make little animals out of my towels like they do on cruise ships. And if there is a steam room or jacuzzi in the fitness center, a little pre- or post-tournament stress relief would be right up my alley.

Anyhow, it seems like a fun thing to do, and the price is very reasonable. Besides, by then, I might end up getting the whole thing comped anyways.