Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hey, Jesus Was Gone For Three Days, Too

But he probably had a better reason than me.

I started this post on Friday afternoon, but I hate posting late on Fridays, especially on a holiday weekend. Why? Because around noon on Fridays, my traffic starts to taper off, and I get very few readers over the weekend. Then on Monday, it picks up again, which is just further evidence that people would rather be here reading my scribbles than doing actual work once they get to the office.

I'm okay with that.

So I'm gonna take my time and spend a couple of days writing this post... It should be ready first thing on Monday when it can be fully appreciated.

Anyhow, for some jacked up reason, I was scheduled at 10 am on Friday morning. I know it's Easter weekend and all, but I don't know how celebrating Zombie Jesus translates into more people in the poker room...

When I got there, there were four dealers and one game. Wasn't looking too good for me. Even worse, two more dealers were scheduled at 11:00. Somehow I managed to squeeze three hours (but only three downs) out of the day before getting sent home, but it didn't bother me in the least. I was still pretty tired--Thursday was a long one, and I'm used to sleeping from around 8:00 am until about 2 or 3 in the afternoon. So going into work at ten in the morning really kinda sucked.

Thursday was a lot of fun, though. I was kinda pissed off about the smack-down I took at the no-limit game late on Wednesday night, so I couldn't sleep when I got home. Also, there was no post-victory meal at Sierra Gold, either, so my routine was all messed up.

Anyhow, after making a quick post, surfing the net for awhile, and trying to force myself to sleep, I decided to quit fighting it. Instead of trying to get some shut-eye, I watched the entire 3+ hours of The Godfather Part II. I hadn't watched it in probably 15 years, so it was like seeing it again for the first time. It was still a classic, and I had no problem falling asleep after that.

Somehow, I woke up around 3:45, and remembered that I had to meet Linda Lou over at The Frog at five. So I yawned and stretched and hauled my carcass out of bed and into the shower. Once I got myself dressed and pretty, I headed down towards the UNLV campus (The Freakin' Frog is just across the street). Linda pulled in right behind me, and we were the first ones there for the weekly 'Beer & Bloggers' meet-up. Actually, we got there an hour early because all the drafts and *some* of the bottles go on sale for half price starting at five. Our goal is to be slurping down the suds by 5:01 pm every Thursday.

The problem with the Frog is that the stuff on tap is fairly eclectic (Well, they have PBR every week), and the bottled stuff on sale is just the bits and pieces--I never get more than two of anything good because they always run out. It kinda pisses me off. So I have no idea what I end up drinking every week--it's always an odd mix.

Chicks dig me because I rarely wear underwear drink beer, and when I do, it's usually something unusual.

Anyhow, eventually some more folks started trickling in, and Mean Katie finally showed up, along with her friend Andrea. I bought some roller derby tickets from Andrea, and the four of us just sat there chatting and sipping our beers for about an hour. I was starving, having not eaten anything in more than 24 hours, so I ordered some 'Crack n Cheese' bites, which was basically mac and cheese that has been pressed into triangles, dipped in batter, and deep fried.

If you've never had it, lemme save you the trouble--it ain't that great. Had they managed to get some bacon or some smoked ham chunks in the middle of it, they might've been onto something, but served as is, a bunch of greasy starchy cheese chunks, well, we'll call that the Kajagoogoo of the appetizer world--a one-hit wonder that would be better for everyone involved if it were to remain in obscurity.

Since that was no good, (nobody liked 'em), I decided to go the protein route and order some hot wings. Although they smelled good, they were completely overcooked so that what little meat hadn't been rendered off the bone was almost too tough to chew. It was like eating spicy chicken jerky, with bones--just no good at all. Memo to self--Don't attempt to eat at the Freakin' Frog, the food sucks. On the other hand, I kept ordering rounds of Belgian Chimay beer, which is extremely tasty, and didn't know until the tab came that it's NINE F*CKING DOLLARS a bottle! Ouch. And it's not part of the happy-hour half-price special, either.

At some point in the evening, I had to break the seal and hit the men's room. Of course, being a college bar, there were some practical jokers about, and one of them had visited the facilities before me, adding a degree of difficulty to the hand-washing process.

That was pretty much the most interesting thing that happened that evening, although I was in good company. But Linda got tired and bailed first, so Lori the Poker Vixen joined us. We chatted for a good long time, and once the party started to wind down, Lori and I decided to go over to the M Resort and spend the balance of the evening playing cards.

First of all, I'd never been to the M resort since it opened last month, but man, it's *nice*. Way nicer than Red Rock or Green Valley Ranch. It was done by the same people who did the Rio, back when it was the best spot in Vegas (before Harrah's took over and turned it into a grind joint). It's easy to get to, also--just head south on I-15 past Silverado Ranch to St. Rose Parkway, and it's right there at the exit, on the corner of St. Rose and LV Boulevard, about six or seven miles south of Mandalay Bay.

I walked into the place and was immediately impressed--it's very modern and upscale without appearing like it's trying too hard to be (Planet Hollywood, please pick up the white courtesy phone!). Even the lobby bar is impressive, with a great view of the Strip. But we found our way to the poker room, and it's right next to a bar, a deli, and the Sportsbook, just as the Flying Spaghetti Monster intended.

The poker room has every modern convenience, and it is really nice and comfy, too. My only (small) gripe is that a lot of the staff seems to be pretty inexperienced--just little things, like the cashier giving me a stack of red instead of a rack of white when I told her I was going to the 4-8 game, or a dealer not knowing that a live straddle with half blinds is only four bucks, not six... But that was minor stuff--it'll come with experience. Everyone was very friendly and accommodating, although there was one big disconnect.

For whatever reason, they can't make a you a player's card there in the poker room, nor did they offer to get one made for me. If I wanted one, I had to go stand in line at the rewards center at the opposite end of the casino. That's kind of a shiatty thing to do, because even in my poker room, if somebody doesn't have a players card, we can get one made for them. We don't insist that they leave the room and go stand in line across the casino in order to get a card made--we'll send a brush dealer over to the pit to get it done. That's a definite black mark on an otherwise stellar poker room.

The physical surroundings in the poker room there at the M are top-notch--It's even nicer than the Wynn, as far as I'm concerned. But when I sat down at the table, it's like I'd fallen through a worm-hole and was transported into the rock garden over at The Orleans. I swear, I had a bunch of grumpy old men at the table who weren't interested in anything except raising with pocket pairs and folding everything else. It sucked. Pulling a hundred bucks off of that table would take a lot more than good cards and a crowbar. Off the top of my head, you'd need a Boesky, a Jim Brown, a Miss Daisy, two Jethros, and a Leon Spinks--not to mention the biggest Ella Fitzgerald ever...

Anyhow, it was kind of a shiatty game for a bit, but the guy next to me left just a few minutes after I got there, and I had them lock up the seat for Lori, as she was over standing in line trying to get a player's card. She joined me a bit later, and eventually the old farts started dropping off and the backwards-hat crowd started taking their places.

There were two or three *really* horrible players at the table, one guy in particular we just called "Sideburns", as in, Hey man, 1977 called, they want their sideburns back... He was awful, but would catch every card in the deck, then show the win like he was some kind of awesome poker pro--catching his runner-runner full boat with 6-3 offsuit, or making a flush playing Jack-Deuce offsuit when the dealer runs out four spades on the board. The guy was actually talking shiat after hands like that, so after a little while, I was totally gunning for him. He had a monster stack in front of him because he kept getting lucky but his play was just downright awful. I *knew* that I'd eventually get every one of his chips--Sometimes you just know.

Besides, he was pretty easy to read and he had more tells than a nervous junkie in a traffic stop. Even better than that, there was another kid at the table who would call down all the way, "just to see". Talk about Mikey's Happy Place--I was in it.

The problem I encountered, however, was that I was severely card dead for the first two hours I was at the table. I had big suited Aces so many times, and not once did I ever flop a four-flush draw. It was awful. I had all my big hands cracked, too, and of course the whole A-K, A-Q hands never held up, or if I'd raise with them, I'd miss the flop completely. And of course the donkeys at the table would call any bet, so checking was a sure loser, and betting/raising wouldn't push anyone off a pot. I love how bad players will pay off good players, but every now and again, I needed a hand to show. I just couldn't get one in what seemed like forever.

I burned through my initial buy-in after about two hours, so I needed to dig into the wallet for another hundie. That kinda sucked, but I was at one of those tables that I *knew* I would clean up on if I could just catch a card or two.

Lori wasn't having much luck either, but her stack was dwindling at a slower pace than mine. On the other hand, the drink service was phenomenal, and the eastern European waitresses with the huge fake racks were a nice diversion from the crummy cards I was seeing.

Eventually, the law of averages caught up to me, and the suckouts stopped. I popped 'Sideburns' a couple of times for some *huge* pots (One memorable one was when I had pocket Aces and he had nothing but a paired five and it was raised and re-raised all the way to the end). I also annihilated his stack on one hand when I raised with Jack-Queen of hearts before the flop and he re-raised me, and the flop came out Queen-Jack-Jack, and it was bet and raised before the action even got to me. Those donks were doing all of the heaving lifting and building my pot for me, and I raked a monster with my full-house and none of my opponents had anything better than two pair.

Lori eventually called it a night after burning through her first hundred bucks--she didn't want to rebuy and it was getting late, anyways. So we said goodnight, and I stuck around to finish off the doofusses. About ten minutes after she left, I was happy to send her a text message:

Sideburns just went broke. Heh!

It sucked that she wasn't able to outlast him, but when we first got to the table, the guy had about $250 worth of chips stacked in front of him, but he donkeyed it all off.

On my last hand of the night, I broke another player when we both flopped sets (I had pocket nines, he had pocket fives), so the action was fast and furious--I had position on him, so I kept re-raising, and the board paired with threes on the river. I figured I was good, and the only thing keeping the pot from being almost $400 was the fact that my opponent was short stacked.

So after losing that initial hundred bucks, I made that money back, plus added another $186 to the bankroll. Our game broke after that--I didn't want to play four-handed, so we drew for seats at another table. My luck changed and I got the low card, so I was left out. No problem, I thought--it was about 1:30 in the morning anyways, so I called it a night and cashed out.

I was kinda hungry still, the food at the Frog not filling the hole at all, so I decided to hit the coffee shop there at the M, known as the Red Cup Cafe, before going home. (Gotta have that post-victory meal!)

The cafe is pretty nice, and being the middle of the night, I was seated immediately. They've got a pretty extensive menu, and there are a lot of items that are graveyard specials that are only $5.95 during the wee hours.

I really wanted some breakfast, but I saw that they had French Onion soup on the menu. I can't resist that--it's my favorite, and just like my quest for the best pizza that ended at Grimaldi's, I'm still searching for the best French Onion soup in Vegas. So I ordered a bowl of that and a Coke to start. Yes--the M is a Coke place, so they get extra points for that! Seriously--who the f*ck wants to drink a rum and Pepsi? Nobody--that's who. (And given the fact that there is no arcade, bowling alley, 'Kids Quest', or movie theater to be found anywhere on property, they *really* outclass the Stations joints).

Anyhow, the growing pains showed at bit there in the cafe--even though it was the middle of the night and there were very few customers, service was ridiculously slow. It took almost 20 minutes for my soup to show up, and when it did, I could tell that it had been sitting for a few minutes--it wasn't piping hot like it had just come out from under the broiler. On the other hand, it was pretty tasty and not oversalted at all, like some other offerings to be found in this town. And the crouton was made with some excellent sourdough which had great flavor and a chewy crust. The soup itself was ok--not bad at all, but it didn't blow my skirt up, either.

Once I finished it, I had to wait another ten minutes for my breakfast to show up. Of course I ordered the chicken fried steak and eggs, with a side of toast-in-a-burkha.

Oh yeah, it was good. Not the best I've had, but very passable. It tasted more like homemade than the one at the Peppermill, but the hashbrowns fell short--a little too greasy for my tastes. But it came garnished with a roasted tomato and some grilled asparagus, which was a nice touch. I ate the asparagus--it was great, and you gotta take advantage when places like Gallagher's sell that shiat a la carte for 'market price', which I don't understand because it grows wild on the side of the road all over the place back in Tennessee. But I avoided the tomato altogether--it looked old, tired, and a little too wrinkly for my tastes, kinda like that Farrah Fawcett layout in Playboy a few years back.

I enjoyed the meal, and the prices couldn't be beat, but again, the service sucked. After I finished eating, I literally had to wait another ten minutes to get my tab. I had put five bucks out on the table for the waiter, but after that, I got so frustrated that I took it back and only left two dollars as a tip on a $12 check. Normally I overtip the hell out of servers, but there was no excuse for the long waits that night.

Once I finally got out of the cafe, I wandered the casino for a bit, just checking things out. The pit was still hopping, and there were plenty of $5 and $10 table games going, and one hot chick standing post on a deserted $100 shoe game. I also saw one $10 single deck 6:5 blackjack table with a couple of drunk tourists playing, but everything else was pretty straight. I would've checked to see what kind of odds they offered on the $5 dice table, but I didn't want to get sucked in by the tractor beam, having just pocketed almost $200 from the poker room. Better to just keep on walking...

Another cool thing about the M--they have 'Serve Yourself' beverage stations sprinkled throughout the casino. No, you can't get a beer or a cocktail, but if you want a Coke or some water, no need to wait for a leggie hottie in a low-cut top.

I fetched the truck from the valet, where I encountered one more little gripe--there are no benches anywhere to sit when waiting for your vehicle. Not a problem in the middle of the night when yours is the only car they need to get, but when it gets crowded and busy, it's gonna suck to have to stand around out there on the bare concrete waiting for your ride.

Aside from a few minor gripes and lapses in service, I was really impressed with the new M resort--I wouldn't hesitate to go back and make it a regular spot in the rotation--and it looks like there are some great restaurants to try, too. So yeah, I'll definitely be going back. In fact, given my choice, I'd prefer to skip Green Valley Ranch, Sunset Station, or South Point altogether. Well, GVR is right down the street, but still, the M blows it away, in my opinion. (And I prefer the half-blinds at the 4-8 game at the M--it creates much more action, and all the games at GVR are full blinds).

Once I made it home, I goofed off for a bit, basking in my own percieved greatness, enjoying another successful night at the poker table. And even though I can't sleep at that time of night, being used to working the graveyard shift, I had to force myself to go to bed by 4:30 in the morning. I was scheduled to work at 10 am on Friday morning, and as much as I hate the day shift, I appreciated the chance to pick up a few more hours.

I mentioned at the top of the post how crummy it was to be there and how overstaffed we were, so I was pretty happy to get out after just three hours. I didn't make much money, but it was nice to see a few of the old codgers again. As much as they complain about the rake and the lack of high-hand payouts and whatever else they can bitch about, they're still pretty nice guys and the lack of action in the game is made up for with good conversation. The time passed fairly quickly, but nobody has ever been happier about getting sent home after just three hours than I was on Friday afternoon.

I swear, I was asleep less than five minutes after walking in the front door. I'm just not used to working daylight hours anymore.

I got about four or five hours of sleep, and woke up to my phone going off. It was my buddy Brooklyn Joey sending me a text message, telling me to come down to the casino. Apparently, he'd lost a couple of grand playing blackjack that afternoon and had earned himself a free buffet for him and a guest. So I told him that I'd be there in an hour, once I showered and got dressed.

I'd normally never go to the buffet, but hey, free is free, and we didn't have to stand in the long line, either. I had a bit of salad, some carved turkey and some surprisingly good Napolian-style thin-crust pizza. I went back for some pasta and carved brisket, and was disappointed that they took out the gelato and replaced it with plain-old ice cream, so dessert was a scoop of coffee-flavor and a chocolate chip cookie.

Then it was back to the poker room. Well, that's what I did--Joey headed to the sports book to stress over the Lakers/Trailblazers game. The Lakers were getting a point, so Joey figured he'd make his blackjack losses back and put two grand down on the Kobe and the boys. They lost by eight. Ouch.

But the poker room was fun on Friday night--it was busy and the games were good, so I liked my chances of walking away with some money. However, the table I was on was just too tough. Three of my buddies, who are pretty good themselves, were there, so there was no money to be made as it stood.

However... I managed to do ok. That daily straight flush high-hand thing that I won the week before for $239 hadn't been hit in eight days (I was the last one to do it), and it was up to $336 for a 5-thru-9 straight flush, so that created a lot of action--people were staying in with suited connectors on almost every hand. But I can tell you from vast experience, flushes only come when I'm holding two pair... Heh.

After about an hour or so, I was in the small blind and saw that I was dealt the five and nine of clubs. The action hadn't been raised, so I limped in for a dollar and the big blind just checked. I got a lucky flop when the six and the seven of clubs came out, but there was face card too, so there were bets in front of me. Of course I called, hoping for the miracle Eight of Clubs. A red Ace came on the turn, which I thought would cost me more money, but everyone else checked after me.

Burn and turn, here comes the river...

Holy shiat! The Eight of Clubs!!!!

BAM! Straight Flush for Mikey!!!

I checked, hope hope hoping that somebody else was on a flush draw, but all three of my opponents also checked.

As I turned my cards over I said Damn--why can't anyone be on a flush draw?!? which got a big laugh and a cheer when they saw the straight flush.

I followed it up with That's ok, I'll take the pot and the three hunnert dollahs though... A few minutes later, the floorman came over with a clipboard and a rack with $336 worth of chips. Woot!

I gave the dealer the extra $36, then had the $300 worth of red chips turned into Benjamins, which went right into my wallet. While doing that, I gave the floorman and the cocktail waitress a ten-spot each. I gotta love the fact that the high-hand jackpot has been hit twice in the past two weeks, and I was the one who got 'em both!

I went back to the game, but it was a grind--there were no real fish in it, and the seat directly on my left got filled by a guy who always raises every pot. Always. I hate playing with him because even though he kinda sucks, he'll still draw out, and being directly on my left, I knew he'd raise every bet no matter what I did. So I asked for a table change to a game that was full of drunks and tourists, and a few minutes later, I was out of there.

I ground it out for about five hours after that, and although the game I was in was a lot of fun, and quite action-packed, I just couldn't make any hands hold up. I suffered a few ridiculous suck-outs, one time even losing a $130+ pot on the river when my opponent hit his two-outer. It was definitely a grind, and although I had $300 of pure profit in my wallet from the high-hand jackpot, I was only up $25 in the game after being there all night.

I was still wide-awake, but it was 4:00 am and I had to be back at work again on Saturday morning at ten, six hours later. So I cashed out and went to bed, hoping to get some rest before my shift.

I managed to get almost three hours of sleep, which was not quite enough, I found out. Saturday was *much* busier than Friday, and there was no chance of me bailing out early. On the other hand, they changed up our weekend tournaments and made them deep-stackers, and for an extra $10 staff fee, players got an extra $2500 worth of chips on top of the initial five grand. So not only did we have a couple of decent cash games going, but there were plenty of people in the tournament, and only one cheapass didn't pay the ten bucks for the extra chips.

It turned out to be a boon for the dealers, as our usual daily tournament downs were averaging about $14. On Saturday, each half-hour down was $22. Nice!

And not only that, I was so busy that I didn't get my first break until 2:30 in the afternoon, so it turned out to be a good day for me. I finally got cut loose at 4:30, and again, I went straight to bed as soon as I got home. Not only was I worn out from working my ass off, but I was still tired from the night before.

I was thinking of taking the night off and just hanging around the house relaxing and doing chores (the bathroom is a mess and I've got a week's worth of dirty clothes climbing the wall in the corner), but Crash Davis has never steered me wrong--You gotta respect the streak!

So I headed back down to the poker room around 10 pm or so and put in a few more hours. I made a quick $40 before my table broke, and I pocketed the profit when I moved to the new table. (Table stakes rules say that you cannot take chips off of the table until you leave, unless you're using them to tip staff or the waitress. Otherwise, all the money has to stay on the table the entire time. The exception to the rule is whenever you make a table change, going to a new game--So whenever I do that, I stop at the desk first and cash in my profits, and just take a single 'rack of white'--$100--with me to my new seat).

Again, it was kind of a grind after that, and I had more of the same ridiculous suckouts happen to me. TWICE I flopped the absolute stone-cold f*cking nut straight and both times somebody rivered a flush on me. Not only that, but every time I thought I won with two pair, the guy on my left turned over a higher two pair--it happened a half-dozen times over the course of the night, so I was basically stuck in the mud all night, down about forty or fifty bucks the whole time.

Eventually, things turned for me and I ended my night with two full houses, making back all the suckout money I'd lost earlier and cashing out for $125 profit altogether.

But I was beat--I earned every penny of that money, and now I totally understand what it means to be a 'grinder'. I feel like that's exactly what I've been doing for the past two nights. Just call me 'Knish'.

I don't want to get burned out, because playing poker is still an enjoyable and profitable diversion for me, but I doubt I'll keep putting in such long hours. The problem is, if the game is good, I don't want to leave, and if I'm stuck and there are three or four bad players in a game, I won't leave until I not only get my money back, but make enough profit to make it worth my time... So it's hard to say that I won't play so much--I still gotta do what I gotta do.

Anyhow, I spent most of my Sunday sleeping through the Masters, and now I'm just gonna spend the evening doing the housework that I've been needing to do. I've got to work tonight, and I think my outlook has turned into taking an all-or-nothing approach to tonight's graveyard shift. I either want there to be no game and get the night off, or I want it to be a crazy all-nighter where I make a pile of money for being locked down for six hours.

I'm guessing that it'll fall somewhere in the middle. But since I can't play, I'm hoping there is money to be made from dealing.


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