Thursday, July 13, 2006

Vegas Trip Report, Part 1: The Madness Begins

“It’s OK, we’ve already kissed.” - Me, at Binion’s, attempting to explain to the table at large why the banter between myself and Joe the dealer was acceptable.

Thursday afternoon was turning out to be quite a trial. All day I had been sending and receiving “Yay, Vegas!” messages, and that afternoon I found I was quite unable to do any work whatsoever, beyond performing extended Clock Watching. As luck would have it an issue flared up at work just as I was supposed to flee to the airport. After a modicum of investigation, I quickly handed it off to a co-worker, and felt guilty. For a moment. That’s all it took for “Yay, Vegas!” to kick right back in.

I’ve done a lot of travelling in my time, which isn’t hard to imagine when you realise I am currently on the other side of the world from where I began. Given that Australia is an insane distance from anywhere (except parts of Asia), it usually takes a long time to get from here to there, no matter where “there” is. Any trip which takes less than 9 hours I can basically do standing on my head. But going to Vegas has to rank right up there on the “Are we there yet?” scale.

Nonetheless I managed to land in Vegas without going stir crazy, and immediately set about meeting up with SoxLover, DonkeyPuncher, and the crew. We were meant to meet up with people at the Fontana Bar at the Bellagio, so I quickly raced to my room, had a shower, got changed, and went downstairs to the Excalibur casino floor. Sox was in the Poker Room (of course), as was WeakPlayer and WeakWife. Using Weak’s phone to call April, I ascertained that the Fontana excursion was off, so I may as well get some poker in. I was told that Jules was already playing at another table, so I wandered around the rail, and leaned in to look at the action. Jules looked over at me for a second, then back to her cards, not aware who the strange ogler was.

“You’re doing Australia proud!” I exclaimed, which was enough for Jules to immediately leap over and give me a hug. We caught up and chatted, and I eventually decided I may as well buy in as I waited for people to arrive at the Sherwood Forest Bar.

As I was busy treading water, I noticed a familiar figure wandering by my table. All well and good… except he wasn’t meant to be here.

“Al!” I bellowed. AlCantHang, who is clearly used to this sort of thing, wandered over.

“Hi, I’m Garth,” I said by way of introduction, and was relieved to see that my random dial-a-shots to the man had made an impression. He pointed over to the bar, and I knew that it was time to get there double-quick.

That’s when the drinking began in earnest. I introduced myself to many I hadn’t met in person, and caught up with those that I had. Kat, Columbo, Human Head, Mrs Head, Maigrey, Dr Pauly, Maudie… I just can’t name everyone here, but it was pleasure meeting them all. As I talked to anyone and everyone, drink after drink after drink after drink was consumed. An idea was floated to attack the poker room… which was how I found myself at a table featuring a line-up that included Spaceman, Otis, Dan Michalski, Bill Rini, Iggy and SoxLover. Aiiyah! I actually managed to stack up early, raising from EP with 22, hitting a set, and then pushing and getting paid off. A little later a couple of people got up from the table, and I thought I would play “one more orbit”… which enabled me to pay off Bill Rini to the maximum when he made his straight. Whups!

Back at the bar I continued drinking with Al, Iggy, F-Train, StatikKling, SoxLover, and StB amongst others. Vague thoughts of sleep flitted through my mind, but were quickly ignored. Kat and Jules had chosen to retire earlier, mentioning maybe going for breakfast upon waking. I had informed them that the chances of me being there were slim or none, as I was planning on being in a coma at that stage.

This brings me to some rules of thumb regarding benders: 1) If you have been at a bar so long that a bartender has finished one shift, left work, come back, and begun another shift: it’s a bender. 2) If someone who is flying in the “next day” suddenly arrives at the bar that you have been drinking at the entire time, it’s a bender. Both these things came to pass, the “someone” being none other than Bobby Bracelet.

At about 7am I started receiving text messages from Kat. She had woken up early and had guessed that there was a good chance I would be upright, if wobbly, somewhere. Kat informed me that Jules and herself were intending on playing a 10am tournament at Binion’s, and that Sox and myself should come along. This sounded like a great idea at the time, so myself, SoxLover and StatikKling said our goodbyes to our drinking companions, and poured ourselves into a cab headed for Downtown.

We were able to make it to Binion’s in time for the tournament, though I can only imagine what Kat and Jules made of our appearance. Paying my money to the tournament director, I made my way to my seat, wondering if I was still in any kind of condition to play cards. The answer was a resounding “No”.

By this stage I had been up for almost 30 hours, and was more than three sheets to the wind. Sleep deprivation + alcohol = removal of the self-censoring filter from my brain (yes, believe it or not, there is a filter). This meant I did not shut up before, during, and after busting out. Fortunately for me the Binion’s dealers have a sense of humour. Unfortunately, however, I busted out some time after the first break, where I retired to the rail to continue my verbal barrage.

Eventually members of the gang fell by the wayside as I continued to watch and cheer. WeakPlayer finally convinced me to join in a 1-3 no max NLHE game, which was pretty high on the “retarded –EV” scale. SoxLover tried to warn me off, but I merely chuckled, secure in my state of haziness. I was seated to the right of a younger guy who was sporting a questionable hair-cut, and to the left of an ornery older guy who spoke through a mechanized voicebox. I awarded the younger guy a Jameson after he was able to come up with some random facts about Australia. I had no time to do similar for the guy on my right, as he ended up cashing out after a disagreement with the dealer over proper etiquette. Somehow I escaped unscathed from my own breaches of poker form, accidentally acting out of turn numerous times. I dumped almost half of my $300 buy-in, most of it when none of my outs arrived in a biggish hand. I’m mildly amazed I didn’t give away more.

Jules ended up finishing the tournament in 2nd, and a few of us decided it would probably be good to eat - I hadn’t eaten since connecting through Chicago close to 24 hours earlier. While waiting for our fine Binion’s fare, the restaurant fire alarm proceeded to go off. And not stop for what seemed like 10 minutes or so. Aided by the fact that I was pretty numb by this stage I idly waited out the cacophony, looking forward to some tucker rather than silence.

After the meal StatikKling, SoxLover and myself poured ourselves into another cab, headed back towards the strip. The ride seemed to last forever as the bright light, heat, and general condition of our battle weary bodies causes us to intermittently pass out. Finally Sox and I staggered out at the Excalibur, weaving our way to our digs at a snail’s pace. While Sox sat about blacking out the room, I grabbed my cellphone and plugged in the alarm for five hours hence. After all, I wanted to play HORSE at the MGM, my body and central nervous system be damned.

As I waited for sweet darkness to take me down, I couldn’t help but grin. All I could hope was that I hadn’t done myself too much damage, and that I would be able to rally for the rest of the weekend.


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