Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Another Chapter In My Life Closes.......

*edit* This post was started on 6/28 and finished on 7/8. Referenced to specific days will therefore be somewhat confusing.*end edit*

It has been WAY too long since I posted. For the one or two of you who actually read this drivel, I apologize...........
I have been pondering what a blog should be. I regularly read a bunch of poker blogs and have concluded that I like the ones that explore the human side of the game and dislike the ones with card by card and bet by bet analysis. I KNOW that the study of the game is the only way to improve, but halfway through a hand history I drift off.......... And, for me at least, a detour from poker is welcome at times. When you spend your working hours delivering cards to the poker masses and a fair amount of your free time playing cards, there are sporatic times that poker is the last thing you want to read about.
I am now into my 38th day of slot machine sobriety. As a matter of full disclosure, I still play free/bonus play, but I don't put any of my own money into the machines. Cheating? Perhaps. But a good test for me. Once the free play $$ is gone, so am I. Eventually the free play offers will dry up and blow away.........so be it.
Today as I was taking advantage of $45 worth of free play at the Casuarina Casino I happened to glance sideways and caught a glimpse of a young woman breast feeding her infant child. I was NOT staring by any stretch of the imagination. She seemed embarrased.... I wanted to tell her that it was LV for chrissakes. No need to be modest.... and besides that it struck me, as it always does, as a tender moment of bonding.........regardless of the fact that it took place in the middle of a casino. Now the time I dealt to the bra-less woman in a fish-net top with her nipples poking out through the fish-net is another matter entirely.
In a proverbial nutshell, this is my life:
Kid Stuff
Graduate High School
Graduate College
15 years in the real world.......Distribution Management. Hated It. At least I hated the last 5 years of that endeavor.
Chuck it all and move to LV with no job prospects.
Entertain pipe dream of not working for 1 year.
Reevaluate delusion and start poker dealing school (estimated completion--6 weeks)
Get a call from Gene asking if I was ready to start dealing. (after 6 days/2 hrs per day of class)
Tell him HELL NO.
He tells me to go to HR the next day and start work.
Baptism by Fire.

For the last 19 months I have been on the Extra Board. Essentially part time work. Mainy 4 days a week, but sometimes 5 and sometimes 3. At the Palms, as long as you average 24 hours per week you get benefits. I don't know of many/any other casinos who offer this benefit to their part-timers. I have jokingly told many people that I was semi-retired. As of today I came out of semi-retirement and joined the 5 day a week crowd.
There were many benefits to being "extra". I had great days off (I was off Thurs, Fri and Sat). It was extremely painless to switch days or get days off. So WHY did I decide to go full time?
Well, to be honest, the specter of a poker slow-down scared me. I tend to see the glass as half-full even when the glass overfloweth. Most others don't share my SHORT TERM view, but I don't see the poker explosion as being in it's infancy. I truly hope that I am WRONG, but who knows. Working 4 days a week allowed me a decent living. Five days will certainly give me more disposable income, but a three day work week (predicated on a poker slow down) was not a pleasant thought. In any case, as of 1PM on Friday I have a full time shift with Wednesday and Thursday off. This will trespass on the Saturday night Pan/Poker/Big 2 game, but I will try to EO on those days and the worst case scenario is that I get to the game around 9:30PM.
Speaking of Big 2, I had one of my worst ever runs in that game last night. I lost 160 units and I only threw the deck across the room once. No small miracle. Today I funded my Superior Poker account. That site has to be one of the most unusual. They spread various poker games as well as Pan, Big 2, Guts and Chinese Poker. As I type, there are only about 2,000 active players on the whole site. I guess there is not much demand for Big 2 tables. I played Big 2 for about an hour and won 100 units. You don't need a crystal ball to know that I will spend many many hours there.
I recently flew to Maryland for a family reunion and for my only nephew's 4th birthday party. The way I have it figured, there is exactly one person in the world who idolizes me, my nephew. I thoroughly enjoyed the time at home away from the bright lights/big city of LV. I have lived in several places, but none of them has really been home. For me, at least, you CAN go home again......at least for a week or so at a time.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Lunar Lunacy

The mood at work on Monday night was such that I would have bet $$$ that the moon was full. Occasionally when I am having an unusually weird shift I'll ask other dealers for their perception. There is not always a consensus as to the temperment of the room as a whole. Last night, however, every dealer I asked had the same response. LUNACY! Can we blame it on the moon? Who knows. What I DO know is that I just looked up the lunar cycle and the moon will be at it's fullest just a few hours after midnight tonight. It should be interesting at work tonight ............

I've come to a conclusion. For some people, playing too much poker makes them grumpy. I often wonder what some of our players do for fun. It sure-as-shit can't be playing poker.

I can't speak for others, but there have been times that a player was pushing me to my absolute limits and I just grinned and beared it. Why do I put up with it sometimes? Because the player pushing my buttons is the proverbial fish at the table. I've experienced this from both sides of the table. I've played in games with a player who by all rights should have been asked to pick up his chips and leave. Invariably, for brief periods, this player has huge stacks of chips. When a floorman comes to baby sit the table, all kinds of whispers take place imploring the floorman to let the guy stay. Everyone wants a chance to get their chips back from the barely tolerable player. It is interesting as a player in this type of game to watch the dealer to see how he or she handles the situation. Most understand exactly what is going on and face it like troopers. Others simply want the offending player GONE and GONE NOW. I'm not saying that allowing this behavior to continue is good for the game as a whole, and I'm not saying that 86ing the guy on the spot is the right thing either. Is it fair to ask a dealer to put up with it at least until this guy loses most of the chips in front of him and then cut him off?
Just food for thought if you are inclined think...................

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Cross this one off of the list of things that I have not seen in a poker room

Tonight, as I was dealing on table 4, I kept hearing strange music. It was not a constant melody. It started and stopped at irregular intervals. With so many different cell phone ring tones available, I assumed that it was simply a cell phone ringing.
As I pushed from table 4 to table 5 I again heard the music, but this time I saw where it was originating. I shit you not, the guy in the 7s was playing a ukulele. I seriously wonder what would truly surprise me in a poker room. It is a whole other world.
The uke player was short stacked and only lasted about 5 hands into my down. As he was leaving the table after busting out, I issued my standard "Thanks for Playing". As an afterthough, I added "no pun intended".
Only one player at the table got it. He laughed out loud and looked at me. I just started laughing back at him. The other 8 players just sat there like big lumps and looked at us like we had lost our minds.
Maybe you had to be there...........................

Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Gambling Legacy

Some of my earliest memories involve my parents, my sister and I going to my dad's parents to play cards. They lived about 5 miles from us in the town of Lonaconing, MD. My paternal grandparents lived in an apartment above the Lonaconing Republican Club. They had once owned a house, but it was about a mile from the center of that little town. When they inherited the house from my Pap's Uncle Johnny they were living in that same apartment above the Club. Once they moved into the house, my Nana missed being "in town", so after a brief period of home ownership, they sold the house to my aunt and uncle and moved back into the same apartment. In any case, when we would go to visit and to play cards, the first order of business was usually dragging my Pap upstairs. He spent, how shall I say this, a considerable amount of time at the bar in the Republican Club. The game of choice when playing with my mother's family was typically Canasta, but when my dad's family played it was usually Set Back, Knock Rummy, or Kings in the Corner (Kings in the Corner was introduced into the rotation after my grandparents took a trip to Kansas City, MO and learned the game there) with dealer's choice poker thrown in occasionally. When the game was Jacks or Better/Trips to Win you could almost count on my Nana folding to a bluff. She would then cuss her way through the conclusion of the game until someone finally produced at least trips to win. If I played with only Nana we played three card rummy. From the time that I was big enough to belly up to the card table I was welcomed to play, but it was always with my "own" money and the "don't play if you can't afford to lose" mantra was repeated over and over. Meanwhile, down stairs in the bar there were always tip jars and machines available. I can remember sitting on my Pap's lap playing poker machines. Through the years there were true slot machines, mechanical horse racing machines, and later video poker and eight line video slots. These machines were always illegal in that town, but that rarely meant that there were not available. The VFW, the American Legion, the Republican Club and even Gladys Brown's Taxi Stand offered an illicit thrill. Sometimes Pap would bring a handfull of "tips" upstairs for me to open. If you are not familiar with tip jars, they contained hundreds of little packets which when opened revealed 5 numbers. If the numbers were 055, 155, 255, 355 or 455 they were worth $5. Zero11 through 411 were worth $10. If the number ended with 00 it was a "holder". Once all packets were sold, a seal was broken to reveal an 00 number with that "holder" winning $100.
As for the illegality of gambling in Maryland, my Nana would often say that the powers-that-be were fools not to legalize gambling and benefit from the taxes. To this day Maryland is still dragging ass while millions of dollars are crossing the borders to WV, DE, NJ and soon PA to the north will have legalized gambling. I am sure that I am not the only one who finds it ironic that Maryland promotes it Horse Racing Heritage for all it's worth and that there is a new scratch-off lottery game constantly being offered as well as legalized Keno, but full scale gambling is still taboo.
Meanwhile, 18 miles down the road in Cumberland, MD. my uncle was operating as a bookie. He, at one time, also owned a Democrat Club and the Capitol Lanes Bowling Alley. Uncle Jack kept his betting slips in a portable dishwasher. I can vividly remember my dad burning these slips in our wood burning stove. Some of these scorched and charred slips would exit the flue without being destroyed and I would go around the yard and pick them up. Every July my Uncle Jackand Aunt Juanita would rent a huge cabin at Deep Creek Lake and anyone in the family was welcomed to come spend a few days or the entire two weeks. During those two weeks, my uncle's brother Billy would drive back to Cumberland every morning to "run the shop". Each evening he would drive back up to the Lake with the cash and betting slips carried in a cooler. I don't know if it was true, but he said that if he was ever stopped with the slips laying directly on the seat, the car could be confiscated, but if the slips were in the cooler, all they could confiscate would be the cooler. As a child, this was all too intriguing to me.
Many years later the booking operation came to a close. My aunt and uncle were on a weekend trip to visit her sister in Frederick, MD. My uncle's brother was once again "minding the shop" in my uncle's absence. A few friendly State Troopers paid a visit and hauled my uncle's brother to the local barracks. In those days, you rented your phone from the phone company. Of course, the phone was confiscated. As far as I know, my aunt still pays a monthly rental fee on that phone. And thus, my uncle was no longer a bookie.
This has been a long way to go to get to the point. My entire life I was surrounded by gambling in one form or another. It was romantic in a sick sort of way. When I turned 21 I made frequent trips to Atlantic City and later Las Vegas. My first trip to AC started my casino chip collection. I took home a single chip from that first AC trip. It was a $2.50 chip from the Atlantis that I won while playing $5 BJ. I still have that chip along with literally thousands of other chips. Each chip tells a story. Maybe I actually played with it. Maybe a friend or relative brought it back from one of their gambling excursions. Maybe I traded for it or bought it off of Ebay. Many of my favorite chips are from a time before I was born. Perhaps from the Flamingo in the 1950s or even from Cuba before Castro rose to power and shut down the casinos there. Some of these chips just reek history.
Often, as I was driving into Atlantic City via the Expressway, I would get goosebumps as the skyline of AC opened up before me. Later those goosebumps would be quickly replaced with dread as I mentally calculated how much I would likely lose while in AC. The first time that I visited Mecca (Mecca being Las Vegas if you hadn't already figured that out) I was awake for over 50 hours. At times the floor seemed to swirl beneath me, but I was ALIVE. I ended up in the ER after that episode, but that is another story for another day.
There was little doubt that I would live in LV at some point. It took me many years of toiling away in a "career" that I increasingly disliked before I got up the nerve to close the book on one chapter of my life and start another. Today I am surrounded by gambling (I don't like the term Gaming...It's Gambling!!) like never before. Shopping at Albertson's for groceries? They have machines. Need something from the drug store? Machines are there too. Ubiquitous is the proper term. For the VAST majority of people gambling poses no major issues. The pull simply is not there. I talk to people all the time who look at me like I have three heads and ask "You lost HOW MUCH "? They simply don't understand. Others, who have also been bit by the bug just nod knowingly. They know EXACTLY how you feel. They have been there and are there. I can't help but think that Stephen King hit the nail on the head when he centered the forces of evil in this little desert town in The Stand. For some, the epitome of evil dwells here in this dusty oven.
I have no plans to live anywhere else anytime soon, so I have once again given up playing the machines. 18 days and counting. If there is something else out there, after this life, I can't help but wonder if Pap and Nana are playing cards. If Pap has a beer in his hand. If Uncle Jack is once again taking wagers on the ponies.
For now I will keep on dishing out the cards to the poker players of the world. Don't blame me if you can't seem to win. I just deal the cards. What you do with them is your business.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Hot Air Balloon Lips and a Poker Connection.

In the nearly two years that I have lived in the desert I have neglected to get those routine, 6 month teeth cleanings. I do brush and recently have become obsessed with flossing. Too little too late I guess. I noticed some discomfort. Not pain, per se, just enough sensation to know that something was awry. This moring I finally pulled out the phone book and, based on geography, chose a dentist near my home. I did the "walk-in thing" not knowing if the doc would see me today or 6 weeks from next Tuesday. It must have been my lucky day as the nice lady behind the counter said that I could be seen today. As I was filling out a ream of paperwork, an Asian man came in and sat down. He was talking on a cell phone in his native language. Don't ask me what language because it is all Greek to me. During his heated conversation a few English phrases jumped out at me. Gibberish, gibberish, gibberish, NUT FLUSH DRAW, gibberish, gibberish, TOP PAIR etc. The semantics of poker must not translate well. It struck me as funny, but then I am, well, me.
With the paperwork completed I decided to pick up a magazine to kill time. Hmmm, not much to choose from. OK, I'll peruse GQ. I've never been a fashionista and don't intend to start now, but there was not much to choose from. Mr. Murphy, come on back. Eighteen x-rays later I start leafing through GQ. Interruption as the doc describes the error of my ways and the torture that I just may have to suffer. The words "possible root canal" stand out as the most terrifying of the possibilities. I stop her there and ask if a simple extraction might suffice. OH NO she says, that is a last resort.....structural change, teeth shifting blah blah. Off she goes to leave me to stew about the possibilities. I turn back to the magazine hoping to be magically transported to another place, another time. I come upon an article about Entourage. Never seen it, don't have HBO. Someone jumps off of the page. Turns out that I have been dealing to/seen around the poker room, Adrian Grenier. http://www.hbo.com/entourage/img/252x190/episodes/season02/ep09_vince_headshot_252.jpg What struck me most about him is that he has impossibly thick hair. It is probably just jealousy since mine is getting thinner by the minute and that really thin spot in the top rear keeps getting, well, really thinner. Who would have thought that a nice little visit to the dentist would have caused me to run into two poker related situations.
Since I am a pop culture idiot, I wonder who else I may have dealt to and never even put two and two together. Probably lots of the stars of today. Sometimes I guess it is better to just be oblivious.
Not to worry, the nice dentist only drilled and prodded for about 6 hours. At least it seemed that long. Her professional opinion is that I won't be needing that root canal after all. (See, it WAS my lucky day) I left the office with that wonderful "my lips are as big as a hot air balloon" feeling that we all love so much. I lit a cigarette but I had to keep looking in the rear view mirror to see if the cigarette was actually in my mouth or if I was sticking it up my nose. Did I mention how much I LOVE that feelilng? I didn't? Good because I don't like it at ALL. Once, back in Hagerstown, MD I was in need of a filling. I told the doc that I didn't want novacaine. He looked at me like I was insane. I told him to just start drilling. At least when he was done, I was done. None of this balloon-lip shit for the next few hours. Several times during the procedure he stopped to ask if he could give me a shot. I bluntly told him to stop wasting time and get it over with. I know I left the imprints of my fingers in the arms of his chair, but like I said, when he was done, I was done.
I wonder where that "courage" went.
I get to go back a week from today for more of the same. I guess that will be my next bad beat and I will once again leave the office a slobbering, big lipped fool.
Now where did I put the floss?

Friday, June 10, 2005

I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date.

I have worked Sun-Thurs for about 4 months now. Being on the extra board doesn't guarantee a fixed schedule, but that is how is works out usually. Last night at work I was mentally doing the "It's my Friday" routine. I woke up this morning knowing that it was the first of three days off. I leisurely did the online routine checking out several bulletin boards and blogs. I then decided that I would head out and possibly hit the DMV. I moved a little over two months ago so I suppose I should update my address with them. On the way to the DMV I saw a Salvation Army store that I had not been to before. I collect all types of casino related items such as chips, ashtray and postcards and have occasionally hit the mother lode at thrift stores. Anyway, as I entered the store around 2:15 my phone rang. It was Robert at the Palms asking if I was working today. I asked him if today was Thursday and he said it was. I told him that I had not planned to work today since it was indeed Thursday and I didn't work on Thursdays. Guess what? He makes the schedule and I truly WAS on the schedule for today. Well shit! I told him I would be there as soon as possible and headed home to dress for work. Turns out that I was only an hour late but I still hate being late. I can't even imagine how many hours of my life have been wasted by my need to be early to everything. The whole "fashionably late" thing is totally lost on me.
Things at work have certainly picked up lately as the entire poker world has converged on Las Vegas. Being across the street from the Rio has resulted in us picking up the overflow. The tournamants are going well with the $200 events realizing a first place award of $25,000+ in many cases. The no limit action in our room has been off the charts. Tuesday night (at least I THINK it was Tuesday night) there was a player in the $2-5 blind NLH ($500 max buy in) game who cashed out $7200. You don't amass that many chips with tables full of rocks. As a side note, in that game chips over $5 and cash doesn't play. He had chips stacked so high that he had a hard time seeing over the stacks. Turns out that he runs an underground poker room somewhere in Texas. I told him that I collect chips and asked him if his room had custom chips. They do and he had one of the chip graphics in his phone. I asked him to bring me a chip for my collection on his next trip. He promised that he would.
On the chip collecting front, I belong to the Casino Chips and Gaming Tokens Collectors Club. I just received my Lifetime membership in the mail today. Now all I have to do is live for 15 more years to make it a worthwhile investment.

The no smoking experiment in the Palms Poker Room seems to be going well. Of course it is too early to tell how it will pan out since there are so many poker players in town for the WSOP. Once the series is over it remains to be seen how it will impact out room. I have heard mostly praise with a few grumbles thrown in. My guess is that the no smoking thing is here to stay and I have to say that even though I smoke, it is nice to not have to fade that cloud at work every night.

Last Sunday night after work I got into a $3-6 dealers choice game. This is not something that is usually spread, but in the tournament room there are plenty of tables set up for live action and they will spread whatever is demanded. There was even a must move $3-6 dealers choice feeder game (this is the one I played in). How often to you get to play 2-7 triple draw and hold 'em high/low at $3-6 limits? Not often. All of the players in my game were poker dealers. We were drinking and betting up a storm. It was the most fun I have had in a casino poker game in a long time even if I did dump $49 dollars. I don't think any of us made a substantial amount of money........except for the actual dealers. This is a poker dealer's dream........to deal to a table full of dealers. Paradise found.

My online experiment is not going well. It started out alright and in the first seven S-N-Gs that I played in I finished 9,3,9,3,2,4 and 1. The next 5 or so were all duds and I am debating the wisdom of playing them. There is something about the experience of playing in a casino that I like that can't be duplicated by playing online. Maybe I am not really a hermit-at-heart after all.

Perhaps I'll hit the DMV in the early AM. Assuming that it is a typical trip to the DMV I should be ready to play some poker afterwards..sometime around 5PM.

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