Friday, October 28, 2005

The black towel and the annoying dealer.

I am starting to wonder if I have had a stroke (cerebral accident....what a way to describe a stroke..... Of COURSE it was an accident.......who would have one on purpose???)
My thoughts have been disjointed and certainly this post could have been combined with the last two had my thoughts been more organized. Alas, they have not been, so voila, three posts in rapid succession. As I made my way to the bathroom a few minutes ago I noticed a towel that I have had for over 5 years. The damn thing has always been navy blue but now it looks black?!? Hmmmm, maybe I DID have a stroke......
Anyway, I just remembered a delaer from last night at Wynn. I was seated beside Brandy who plays regularly at the Palms. The dealer, while waiting for the 9 seat to act blurts out "Pump it or dump it!". I looked at Brandy and told her that if I EVER uttered those words from the box that she was free, and encouraged, to slap me right then and there. The dealer then, while dropping the deck, sent them to the table in the accordion fashion. I again gave Brandy permission to strike me should I ever do that. The next annoying thing that he did was to sing out "raise it UP". Well DUH, can you raise it DOWN?? I didn't think so. Again, I implored her to hurt me should I ever be so afflicted. The icing on the proverbial cake happened while Brandy and I were heads-up. We were checking it all the way (which I don't particularly like, but she is a customer of mine and it seemed like the thing to do at the time since I told her to bet her hand and she refused by saying that she wouldn't do that to me.) In any case, when the dealer was ready to put up the river card, he placed it, face down, in front of the 8 seat and let the 8s turn the card over. This should have caused me to call the floor, but instead I just begged Brandy to bitch slap me HARD if I EVER asked a player to put up the river card for me. Four strikes and you are out, dude. Pretty unbelievable as I see it.

And now a rant about the players on table 19 last night. When I sat down there was a rack of chips, some loose chips and a players card, but no player, in the 6s. This lady had stated that she was going to the 7:30 show. The dealer had told her that the show was 90 minutes long and that she would likely be picked-up before she returned. The lady said she didn't care and off she went. Several players went into a tizzy and demanded that her chips be removed so someone else could sit down. The floor informed them that there was no list. They couldn't seem to understand that there was no one waiting to take that seat, so there was absolutely no reason to pick her up. These guys went on and on and on about how it was not fair to tie up a seat that long. Earth to dimwits! THERE IS NO LIST! Get over it for chisssakes. Twenty minutes later they were still bemoaning the injustice of it all when I took a table change. But let's back up a few minutes here. Earlier, I had asked to change tables so that I could be at the same table as Brandy. Both her table and mine had a couple of empty seats, so I knew it would take another player wanting in the game before I could move. I wasn't paying much attention to the empty seat situation, but Brandy came over and told me that I could move, per the nice floor lady. I started to rack up when the players stated that "she (Brandy) doesn't run the card room" and asked the dealer to call the floor. The floor indeed told me I could now move. They were still fretting about their lot in life, I guess, and as I left I told them that the lady who DOES run the card room told me I could move NOW, so I was moving. They are probably still sitting there in a puddle of their own lament............

I'm going to go take another look at my blue/black towel.

It's navy blue and all is right with my world..................

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Palms Employees & Hurricane Katrina.

Shortly after Katrina it was announced that George Maloof would match employee donations dollar for dollar and that the donation would be ear-marked for Gulf Coast disaster relief. The total was disclosed on Tuesday. $85,854.42.
In the grand scheme of things this is a drop in the bucket, but I think that it is a considerable amount. Thanks to all who gave and to Mr. Maloof for matching it.
For what it's worth, the total donation from the Palms after the tsunami was $31,910 with half of that total again coming from Mr. Maloof.

Denver Duck and the Quest for the Golden Egg

My work week was largely uneventful. I worked overtime on "my Monday", but the next 4 days found me escaping early. Even so, by Tuesday (my Friday), poker (and those who play it) was plucking my last nerve. Every so often it seems that misery visits everyone at the same time. It is during those times that I wonder why people continue to participate in an activity that seems to cause them so much grief. Day after day they sit there and do nothing but complain. It gets old very quickly.

A friend of mine had a heart attack and subsequent triple bypass surgery a little over two weeks ago. Yesterday I took him to his doctor's appointment. He got a total release from the Dr. It is amazing what the medical community can do these days.

After dropping him off back at his place I decided to head to Wynn to play some poker. First things first..........SLOTS. That's where Denver Duck comes in. Denver Duck and the Quest for the Golden Egg is a slot machine. My buddy Benton told me that he had played it a few times while taking a break from the poker tables. Having never seen the machine and given the slightly odd name, I kidded him that he must have been smoking something other than his Camels. It indeed exists and the bonus rounds, if you can get into them, can be pretty lucrative.
As a side note, I started playing the machines again while in Aruba. I figured that playing them outside the country didn't count. Pretty illogical logic, but it's my nightmare and I'll tell it the way I want.

Speaking of nightmares...........
After I finally took a seat in a poker game at Wynn, a player that I regularly deal to at the Palms came over to my table and said that she had an extra ticket to Le Reve and asked me if I would like to go. (Thanks Wat!) Of course I would. Having recently seen Mystere at TI and not having heard stellar reviews of Le Reve I was anxious to compare the two. It has been six months since Wynn LV and Le Reve opened, so I figured that they had worked out the bugs. The two shows really can't be compared to each other. If I had to recommend one or the other I would say go see Mystere. I would, however, suggest that you see both if possible. At $121 a ticket Le Reve isn't cheap, but let's face it $121 doesn't go a long way in Las Vegas these days
(In case you don't know, Le Reve translates to "The Dream". Le Reve was the original name for the entire casino complex until Steve Wynn decided to name his new baby simply Wynn.. Not just Wynn, buy Wynn with a period at the end as if this was the end of his evolution as a casino mogul and visionary.)
The "stage" itself is quite remarkable. At times it is completely submerged in water. Other times seeming dry. The cast is continually flying high through the air and then plunging into the pool of water below. The physical strength and athleticism of the cast (as with Mystere) is beyond belief. About 55 minutes into the show a single bare chested lady appears......... I can't decide if this was simply gratuitous or a natural extention of the hugely strange dream theme. This dream contains both demons and angels....futility and hope. At times this dream turns (homo) erotic as women take turns undressing each other and the guy who is actually having the dream is enticed by the physique of the male specimens.
If you keep the entirety of the Dream theme in mind, Le Reve delivers. I don't think it is intended to make sense. I'm not sure that it CAN make sense. What is reality? What is a dream? What does any dream mean? Does anything really have meaning?
Not a bad way to spend 90 minutes in Las Vegas.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Hear no evil.........

Tuesday Oct. 11 found me dealing to several people who were in town for the Deaf Poker Tournament. We have a regular player who happens to be deaf, so I know how to say thank you in sign language, but that was about the extent of my knowledge of ASL. The live games proved interesting with a sprinkling of deaf players, but Wednesday night would prove truly interesting as over 200 deaf players played in the tournament. Wednesday is typically a day off for me, but I was asked to come in for a little while until the tournament tables started to break down. Of course I wanted to be first out since my parents were in town by then. I picked them up from the airport after work on Tuesday night. Their flight was delayed, and then there was a "change of equipment" so they were late leaving Baltimore. They just stayed at my place on Tuesday night. Wednesday morning we left here early and headed to Ellis Island for Steak and Eggs. At $3.45 for steak, eggs, homefries and toast, this is one of the best deals in town and it is available 24 hours a day. After breakfast we each threw some money into the kitty and played slots. After an hour or so we were down about $30 so we left there and headed to the Causarina. Again we played slots for a little while. I had some free play there so I threw the free play in the kitty. From there we headed to the Hard Rock, again for my free play. By then it was time to go to the Flamingo to check in. This is the 4th time that I have put them up at the Flamingo. I first put them up at the Flamingo because I had enough comps for the room. Since then I have continued to choose the Flamingo since I still have comps there, it is convenient to the center strip and they have come to know their way around there. When we arrived, the check in lines were very long, but the self-check-in kiosk not in use. Screw the lines, I used the kiosk. The only problem with this approach is that I was not able to request a higher floor. The kiosk assigned room 11004. This room had a lovely view of the Barbary coast parking garageand the side of Bally's. A tiny portion of the Bellagio fountains could be seen between Bally's and their marquee. Oh well, not a major deal. By the time we got settled into the room, it was time to head to the Palms for the poker tournament. Mom and dad got settled at side by side machines and I headed off to pitch cards. I ended up dealing two hours. Major FUBAR. As I was talking to a floorman over my left shoulder about being first out and when that may happen, I pushed a pot to the 3s when the 4s had actually won. An interpreter came over as I recreated the betting during the hand and the interpreter relayed that information and moved the correct amount of chips from the 3s to the 4s. It is probably a good thing that I don't know sign language. Who knows what I was called because of my screw-up??
In any case, I escaped and went to find the parental units. Sure enough, they were still sitting at the same two machines. Mom had two nice hits on the machines while I was slaving away at the tables.
I have worked at the Palms for nearly two years but had yet to eat at Nine Steakhouse. My parents birthdays were fairly recent and I had told them at the time that I would take them to a birthday dinner when they came to LV. Who knew what I was missing? Do yourself a favor and find a reason to splurge on a meal here. The steak is incredible. Dad had a 16oz bone on filet and mom and I had the 12 oz filets. Melt-in-your-mouth tender and believe it or not, worth the price. Of course, the fact that I had comps to cover the meal made it even better.
When we arrived back at the Flamingo around midnight, I went to the front desk to get another key to the room. While doing that, I mentioned the convenience of the check in kiosks, but the inconvenience of not beind able to request specific floors/rooms. The nice lady moved us to room 26034 which had our familiar view of the Bellagio fountains, the South Strip and beyond. She told me we had 15 minutes to vacate the old room.......race to find the parents, race to the room and we bugged out of 11004.
Thursday morning found us trekking back to Ellis Island for steak and eggs. On Thursday evening, I sprung the second part of the birthday package on mom and dad. Mystere at Treasure Island. Again, I would recommend that you find a reason to see this show. Like the Grand Canyon, descriptions and pictures cannot do justice. Mystere is simply incredible. After the show we headed down town. Dad wanted to see the Fremont street experience again, but our timing was off and we never saw the show there.
On Friday morning we checked out of the Flamningo and headed west. We hit Jean and Primm and the casinos there. Actually, it looks like there isn't much there except the casinos. In any case, it was a pleasant afternoon and we spent it eating at the buffet at Buffalo Bills and feeding the machines. Mom again had a nice machine hit at Gold Strike. When we arrived back at my place, my dad was beat and he decided not to head out with mom and I on Friday night. Mom and I went to the Palms to eat and play slots. We had dinner at the coffee shop simply named 24/7 at the Palms. It has recently been remodeled/re-opened. Disappointing to say the least. The service was sketchy, the prices have been increased and the food seems to have gone down hill. After eating we headed to the Bellagio with hopes of catching Linda. (We had also planned to meet Linda on Thursday night) The EO Queen had indeed already EO'd each night. Next time for sure, Linda. Since we were there, mom and I hit the slots HARD. This was the worst slot experience of the trip. We lost, and lost big. That's what I get for playing slots, but especially for playing slots on the strip.

It was a great visit and we all got precious little sleep. Dad's typical routine is to go to bed early, like 9pm and rise before dawn. My routine is to go to bed around 2-3 AM and get up in time to be at work by 1PM. We split the difference and got about 5 hours of sleep per night. My ass was dragging as I dropped them off at the airport shortly before 9AM on Saturday. Back to work I go at 1PM. I couldn't focus and struggled through the shift hoping for the blessed EO. HA!! Can you say overtime? Saturday OT, Sunday OT, Monday OT. Today is my Friday and I am hoping against hope that I can reclaim my title of EO King today.

One funny incident from Saturday at the Poker tables. I was dealing a $2-5 blind NL(LIVE) game and three friends were planted in seats 5-6-7. Aparently tipping was against the religion of these three, but that is NOT the funny part. Someone put the straddle on and I announced $10 to go, gentlemen, live straddle. The 7s looked up at me and asked if the blinds had just gone up?? I controlled my giggling and told him that no, the blinds don't go up in a live game. The 5s still wasn't convinced and he asked the 4s if the blinds had increased............
Toto, you're not in Kansas anymore.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Back to the real world......

Not that the poker room at the Palms is exactly the "real" world, but you get the picture. I had barely recovered from the flights home and gotten a few hours sleep when it was time to work. I mentally kicked myself a few times for not extending the Aruba trip for a few days. Linda and Jim were still in Paradise and I was headed for work. In my absence, a dealer and a floorman had parted ways with the Palms. I don't have all the details, but people don't usually leave the Palms voluntarily............
The first thing I noticed was that the cards handled as if they had graphite on them. Greased lightning.
I chatted with Gene for a few minutes and he informed me that he needed me to work tournaments on Wednesday the 12th and Wednesday the 19th. Wednesday is usually a day off and the 12th would find me entertaining my parents, but I told him no problem......IF he put me "first out" on the 12th. Mom and Dad can watch me work for an hour or so. They can see the results of the money they spent for me to get a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration. **rofl** I've been living in LV for just over 2 years and this will be my parents 4th visit in that time period.

Yesterday at work, a player in the 1s who I have been dealing to for nearly two years leaned over and whispered "can I ask you a you guys pool your tokes?" I told him that poker dealers keep their own and that I felt it was the only way to go. It amazes me that the pit mentality carries over to the poker room and that many players don't know that the poker room operates differently. I've personally witnessed celebrities play poker for hours and not toke a cent and then when they cash out, they give the floorman a substantial amount of money. IF they utter the words "for the dealers" then the floorman will try to distribute it evenly among the dealers who had dealt that game. If they don't designate it, the floor gets it all. I'm not bashing them, it's just a matter of educating the players. Maybe Linda Johnson can work it into one of her columns.

Aruba Observations (ramblings), in no particular order.

  • Unlike 24/7 Las Vegas, the casinos in Aruba open mid-afternoon and close around 3:30 AM. I've also found this to be the case in other casinos sprinkled around the Carribbean.
  • In the tropics, "Island Time" is mentioned a lot. It simply means, relax, we'll open the restaurant or start the game when we get around to it.
  • If you want to eat, eat early. There are precious few, if any, restaurants that are open late. There was an Italian place at the Wyndham that was open until 1AM, but that was the exception and not the rule on the Island.
  • The poker room at the Radisson advertised "standardized US rules". I'm laughing my ass off at that one.........
  • The poker play was as loose there as anywhere I have seen. I watched a guy in a NL game CALL off $100 on the flop, $100 on the turn and nearly $600 more on the river with, get this, a 10 draw, no pair, no nothing. The winner of this hand won with a King high although he did turn a flush draw. Simply amazing.
  • Taxi fares are officially set by the government, although some variances seemed to occur based on time of day, attitude of the fare, attitude of the driver, day of the week and amoung of luggage.
  • On election day (actually the election took place on two consecutive days) the only places that could serve alcohol were the hotels with casinos. I guess they don't want the electorate drunkenly casting ballots willy nilly. We ordered drinks at Gilligan's bar at the Radisson and the bartender asked us if we were a guest of the hotel. We stated that we were staying at the Wyndham and he said he couldn't serve us. We persisted until another person behind the bar, presumably a manager, relented and served us.
  • If you are educated by the Aruban school system, you speak at LEAST three languages.
  • A 15% auto-gratuity is added to everything. A single beer or dinner for a party of 10. For some reason we felt compelled to leave something over and above the 15%. Sometimes just a dollar of two, other times substantially more.
  • Floating in the Carribbean on a star-filled night does wonders for the soul. Thanks Linda.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Aruba is now in the rear view mirror.

Having never been to Aruba I was not exactly sure what to expect. I assumed that if you have seen one Carribbean Island, you have seen them all. To a small extent, that assumption proved to be correct, but largely, Aruba rises to the top of the list. Maybe it was the company I kept.
First of all, I would like to thank UltimateBet and Suzie Lederer. UB pulled out the stops to make it enjoyable and Suzie worked her ass off to take care of her dealers.
Thursday night was basically a sleepless night. Linda likes to be on the early side when it c0mes to airports. We kept asking her if she was SURE that we had enough time. Time we had. After trudging through security, we arrived at the gate with over three hours before boarding time. What to do? Break out a deck of cards, of course. Big duece kicked my ass, or rather Linda and Jim kicked my ass. (Linda, remind me how much I still owe you from that game!)
On the plane we go. The flight from Las Vegas to Miami was full and we assumed the roll of sardines. Fortunately, the flight from Miami to Aruba was over half empty, so I had three seats all to myself. I stretched out and tried to charge the batteries. I did awaken to see a beautiful sunset from the plane window. Customs upon entering Aruba was painless. We walked out of the airport and into a wall of humidity and heat. I don't think I completely dried off for the next 9 days. We grabbed a cab and headed to the Wyndham. Our first impression was less than favorable. The guy at the front desk had no sense of humor at all. We had requested adjoining rooms, but it was not to be. At least we were able to get rooms directly across the hall from each other. Here is the view from our balcony.

We hastily unpacked and went in search of alcohol. To set the mood, Jim and I started with daiquaris and coladas. Linda stuck with beer. Speaking of beer, I never once saw a 12oz. can or bottle of beer on the Island. Beer hovered between 8 and 11oz although the price tag hovered between $4-5 US. We wandered up the beach and landed at the Radisson. Linda and I jumped into a 4-8 limit game and Jim chose 15-30. To say that the games were loose would be an understatement. I managed to squeek out a $5 and booked it.
During breakfast on Saturday, I asked the waitress for advice on grocery (beer) shopping. She suggested Ling & Sons IGA. She said that the grocery stores were all owned by the Chinese. After breakfast we cabbed it to the Grocery store and loaded up on beer. After we got back to the Wyndham and unloaded our stash, another Big Deuce game broke out. It lasted until we had to go to the dealer's meeting. Suzie had specifically requested that we all not show up drunk since some of us would have to deal live after the meeting. Since we had not exactly heeded her warning, we were relieved to find that our group didn't have to deal live until Sunday night. There was a welcome party to attend after the meeting, so we mingled and greeted. The name brand poker players were everywhere.

The days have all blended into one, but I think this was the night that Linda and I hit the pool and then the sea. Linda has the ability to float like a cork in any type of water. My floating abilities are more pronounced in salt water and we floated in the Caribbean for nearly three hours. That's about as peaceful as it gets. Floating on your back in the bath-water-warm Carribbean and watching the stars twinkle overhead. That's an experience that I doubt I ever forget.

Sunday was to be our first night of dealing live at the Radisson. The poker room at the Radisson is half owned by two brothers from Arkansas, Dane and Mace Howell. Although they have 50 points in the room, aparently, by law, it must be managed by Arubans. The Aruban dealers didn't want to deal the larger games. I overheard one say that they were afraid to deal antything over 4-8. The triple draw games must have been out of the question, as Las Vegas Dealers got stuck dealing them exclusively. My route in the line-up on Sunday night didn't have that game in it, but I can't say that I was disappointed by that fact. I dealt 15-30 limit, 5-5 nl,10-20 nl, 10-20 nl and back to the 5-5 nl. During that last table of 5-5 nl I got locked in for over an hour, but I wasn't complaining. Although we were working for tips only, the tips were good in my line-up. The dealers that dealt 2-7 and Ace-5 were not so fortunate. I only dealt live for 4 hours and escaped out into the sultry night.

Monday I dealt 11 downs in the satellite room. Nothing exciting to report. Tuesday I dealt in the main tournament room. On the very first hand I put down a flop of 10-10-10. The turn was an ace and the river was an ace. By the river it was heads-up. First to act checked and the other guy went all-in. The first guy flashed an ace and mucked. The second guy showed the case 10. I'm not sure how the guy was able to muck the Aces Full, but if he hadn't, his tournament would have consisted of one lonely hand. One table had Scotty N., Josh A. and Eric L. on it. Scotty was in and out of his seat like a jack in the box. Several players commented on his ability to get his ass in the seat just prior to the last card being dealt, avoiding the killing of his hand. I only had two problems this day....on the same table. First, as I was dealing a card to the 9s, the finger of the lady in the 10s got in the way and the card fluttered enough for me to see that it was a black card. I reached out and turned it over.....Ace Clubs. A few players chimed in that it wasn't an exposed card, but if I could tell that it was black, all of the players on the left side sure as hell had a good view of it. The 9s would have had AQc. Sorry dude. I did pretent to throw a flag and call pass interference, but I don't think that he appreciated the humor. A few hands later, I dealt Mr. Brenes in the7s three cards. The heat and the humidity made shuffling and dealing the cards akin to shuffling and dealing slices of cheese. Dead hand. Again, sorry. I dealt 12 down this day and escaped.

The next day I was again in the satellite area and only 3 downs. Linda planted a bug in Suzie's ear that she, Jim and I wanted an EO. EO it was and off we went.

Friday night we were again supposed to deal live. The problem was that the management of the poker room was not entirely organized. If we were to deal live, we were to report at 8:15 PM. The common occurrance was that dealers would report at 8:15 only to be told to come back in 2 hours. And then possibly told to come back again in two hours. Since we were not being paid an hourly rate, this didn't sit well with a lot of the dealers. In any case, Jim, Linda and I reported early and were told to wait around/come back in a little while. We went to ask Suzie what we should do. She said to go back in an hour and if they again said to come back later, just cruise. We did (report back), they did(ask us to come back later) and we did (cruise, that is).

So ended my dealing responsibilities for the trip. In total, I dealt 17 hours. That was not a problem with me.

In years past, there was a catamaran party cruise scheduled for the dealers on Saturday afternoon. This year, there was some debate as to whether it would take place or not. I'm not sure of the details, but it sounded like there might not be enough $$ to pay for it this year. It did take place, but only after Russ Hamilton coughed up a grand or so. Thanks Russ!!

Poker dealers sure know how to party! (Linda missed the trip because she was dealing the final table that day). The first stop on the party cruise was snorkeling in Catalina Bay in the shadows of the light house. The last stop was to snorkel over a shipwreck. Pretty damn awesome.

Again, THANK YOU UltimateBet and Suzie Lederer. I hope to be invited back next year.

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