Sunday, May 13, 2007

Welcome Back to Nashvegas (Part 2)

Well, I promised this would be shorter, but I probably lied. This is part 2 of my Vegas trip. If you haven't read it yet, here's Part 1.

Monday, we got up and went to the NAB show that was in Vegas. It's the National Association of Broadcasters and they have everything from radio transmitter stuff to cameras to video editing and a whole lot of other stuff I didn't know anything about. Ace was able to hook Chuck and I up with free passes to go to the trade show floor. We got to check out some really cool shit. Chuck was drooling over some of the DV cameras, we were all drooling over the new Final Cut video editing software from Apple. I've had the bug to buy a Mac for a while and seeing some of the stuff there has made me want one even more.

After our trip to the trade show, I played a little blackjack and when it was time to go to dinner, I was up about $100. We had a hankering for Hooters hot wings, so we walked down the street to the Hooters hotel. As we were walking to the restaurant, we saw another restaurant called Dan Marino's (you know, the former QB of the Dolphins) that was advertising all you can eat ribs for $16.99. Since none of us have ever met a rib we didn't like, we decided to try it out. We ordered some boneless buffalo wings as an appetizer to satisfy our wing craving and then it was on to the ribs. They brought out a plate with a huge rack of ribs and my 2 sides (which were also all you can eat). Damn they were good! There were 3 or 4 sauces on the table also and the whiskey sauce was excellent. We all knocked out our 1st rack and Chuck got another half rack and Ace and I got another 1/4 rack. We were all stuffed. One of the things that made the meal even better was that our waiter, Nick, was one of the best waiters I've ever had. We never had to ask for anything, he was just there with it and he was actually friendly. Not the normal "I'm your waiter and I have to be nice so I get a good tip" friendly. We got the manager over there and complimented both the food and the service. We figured that usually people only comment when they are complaining, so we would share some positive comments.

After dinner, we hung out in the room to let the food digest and I was itching to get back to the blackjack table. This was my last night in Vegas and even though we weren't leaving until after 3 the next afternoon, I knew I wouldn't have much time to play on Tuesday. I headed downstairs around 9:30 and found a good $10 table (the $5 tables are gone after 6 or so) with several people.

Side track: one of the things I enjoy the most about Vegas, and this will probably be a shock to the people who know me, is getting to meet so many different people. There are literally people from all over the world in Vegas. I like talking to people from different cultures and backgrounds.

Ok, back to the action. I sit down at the table and change out a black chip (that's $100 for you non-Vegasy people ). I'm betting the minimum and looking for a cocktail waitress. The first couple of hands are terrible, then I get a pair of 8s. The dealer is showing a 5. You always split Aces and 8s because they both are terrible hands. So I split my 8s (meaning I put down another $10 and have 2 hands). My first 8, I draw a facecard to make 18, so I stay. Next 8, I draw a 3 to make 11. You always double down on 11, unless the dealer is showing an Ace. The dealer is showing a 5, which is a bad card for the dealer (you assume they have a 10 not showing and that they will bust). So I double down the 11, drawing a 6 for a 17. I now have $30 riding on this hand and the dealer is showing a bust card. Everyone else plays, the dealer flips his hole card. A fucking 6. The dealer is sitting there with 11. I know what the next card is before he flips it, a fucking 10. The dealer hit 21, costing me $30. I won the next hand, then got a pair of 7s with the dealer showing a 2. I split and drew a 3 on the first one. Double down. I drew a 10 for a total of 20. Drew a 4 on the next 7, double down. I drew something crappy like a 5. So I have $40 on this hand, dealer flips his hole card, has to keep hitting, he meanders through 5 cards to guessed it: 21. I was down $100 before I even ordered a fucking drink. I cash in another black chip, the cards were just not falling my way. Some people got up and I moved over to the middle of the table (I had been sitting at 1st base). The cards weren't much better.

My second $100 went almost as fast as the 1st. I wasn't happy about it, but it was money I had won the night before and earlier that day, so I hadn't even touched my stake for that day yet. So I pulled another $100 out (this time it was green and made out of paper). Things kind of went back and forth. Then the card counter sat down.

I decided to make this story a separate post because it involves some backstory and a lot of information. See my next post to get the story of the card counter. I'll include the end here so we can continue with the narrative. I had about $125 in front of me when he sat down, when he left, I had about $200.

The guy on 3rd base (the last spot on the table to act, to the far right of the dealer) finally left, so I moved over there. By this time, I had been playing about 2.5 hours and still had the last $100 I had cashed in plus a little more. Considering I lost the first $200 in less than an hour, playing for an hour and a half on the same money was good. People were coming and going at the table, the dealers were changing out every so often for breaks, the waitress was putting orange slices in my screwdrivers, life was good.

There were about 4 of us at the table and this laid back looking Asian guy sat down and threw $100 down. At this point, instead of giving 20 $5 chips for change, they were giving 2 $25 and 10 $5, I guess encouraging us to bet bigger. He lays down $25 and bam, bad cards. About 5 hands later, out comes the wallet, another $100. 7 or 8 hands later, repeat the process. This guy dropped 7 $100 bills on the table in the span of an hour. Then he seemed to hit the spot I was in (I was still playing on the same money) and he didn't have to go into his pocket anymore. We started talking and introduced ourselves. He was from Singapore, there for the NAB show. There was a couple at the table from Chile and the dealer was Armenian.

So, here I am, the hick from Nashville, the only representative of America at the table. It's not like we have a great public image anyway. It's about 1:30 in the morning and I've been drinking screwdrivers as fast as they can bring them. But I am not a sloppy or mean drunk. I'm friendly and when I'm playing cards, especially for that kind of money, I'm very serious, no matter how much alcohol I have. So I'm being nice to everyone and we are all joking around. The Chilean husband was making me nervous because he split 10s several times. He won 2 out of the 3, but it's not a good idea to do it. There's only 1 card that can give you a better hand and if the dealer is showing a low card (which is the only time you would even consider splitting 10s), you will often end up taking their bust card. Anyway, while all this international goodwill is flowing, Mr. Drunk Ass American decides to sit down at our table.

Now, I've been around drunk rednecks, drunk headbangers, drunk black people, drunk geeks, hell even drunk Cajuns. And unfortunately, I've been around the most obnoxious type of drunk there is: the white, upper middle class, middle age business man. That's the tribe this guy belonged to. He sat down right next to me and started playing. At the same time, he started asking where the hell the cocktail waitress was. He said he needed some Maker's Mark. That's red flag #1 that you are dealing with this particular tribe, they refer to what they drink by it's brand name. They wouldn't be caught dead drinking "whiskey" or "vodka" or "tequila", they drink Maker's Mark, Grey Goose and Patron. Now, don't get me wrong, these are good liquors (although I prefer Absolut to Grey Goose), but I'll drink OFC, Smirnoff and Jose Cuervo just as quick.

So Mr. Drunk Ass gets his drink and promptly knocks it over and spills it all over his chips and a few cards. The dealer (Roosevelt from Armenia) was very gracious about it, even though I could tell it pissed him off. The little bits of ice left on the table hadn't even melted before he was loudly saying he needed more Maker's Mark. Yea, that's exactly what you need jackass. Now, when you play at a blackjack table for longer than an hour with the same person or people, there will usually be some sort of comraderie going. If you make a bold move like doubling down on 8 and win, your "friends" will congratulate you, maybe even shake your hand. This guy wanted to shake hands every time we won, no matter what we did. Then his asshole buddies showed up. They were just as drunk and just as obnoxious. They were egging him on to bet more and more and totally disrupting the flow. Finally, they decided they needed to go and hit on a cocktail waitress or something and they all left. I just looked at Vincent (the guy from Singapore) and shrugged trying to say "not all of us are like that".

Shortly after that, the couple from Chile left and it was just Vincent and I against the dealer. We were both still playing on the same money. I would get down to $10 in front of me, then work my way up to $200. We went through several dealers and had a few people sit down for a few minutes, but no one really stayed. Then they raised the minimum to $25, but we could still bet $10 since we had been there. Sometime around 3am, Vincent asked me about tipping the waitresses, he wasn't sure how much to give them. He didn't know if the drinks were free or not. I told him the drinks were free, and that I usually gave the waitress $1 and every 3rd or 4th round give her $2 (or usually $2.50 which is the chip you get if you hit blackjack when playing $5). He offered to tip for the next round (there was 1 other guy at the table at this point). So this started a cycle where we would take turns tipping and we were giving her $5 a trip. I think at one point I gave her $10 because she was putting 2 orange slices in my screwdrivers.

Around 3:30, the dealer said they were going to close the table soon and we would have to move to another table. I started bumping up my bets a little trying to get back as much of my money as I could. A little after 4am, the pit boss said we could play one more shoe and then the were closing the table. After a couple of hands, I was betting $25 or $30 a hand and Vincent was playing 2 hands at $25 or $50 a hand. He was getting pretty good cards, mine were kind blah. I got down to my last $20, got back up to $100, down to $50, up to $150. There were only about 3 or 4 hands left in the shoe and there had been a lot of low cards, so I put $50 down. Won it, bet $50 again, lost. Last hand, I had $50 in front of me. I said fuck it and put it in the circle. Vincent laid out $50 in two different hands. He won both his and I won mine. When he colored up, he had about $600, so he lost $100 over a 4 hour stretch. I lost $200 (which I had actually won previously) over a 6 hour stretch. Even losing that much, I still had a blast and it was cool to play that long and actually close the table down. Once I fell asleep, I woke up around 7am and my hand was making the "stay" motion you make when you don't want anymore cards. I guess I was dreaming about playing blackjack.

The next day we had to pack and get ready to leave. We checked our comps and had free buffet meals, so we had lunch at the buffet, then bought some souveniers for the people back home. I found my way back to a blackjack table, playing single deck. That was fun, I had played single deck either Friday or Saturday night also. Ace joined me for a little while, Chuck came over and watched and reminded us that we had a plane to catch and gave us a deadline. We played just a few minutes past the deadline, headed to the room and headed to the airport.

Last time I came home from Vegas, our plane took off at like 8am, and I had been up til 4 drinking Kamikazis (vodka, triple sec & lime juice) and had eaten nachos sometime during the night. I spent most of the flight trying not to vomit and fighting a headache that felt like kamikazi pilots had flown their planes into my head. I also only had $4 on me.

This time, it was much better, I had a lot more than $4 (even though I had less than I left with) and I wasn't hung over at all. Our flight was later in the afternoon, so we stopped in a airport bar to have a beer. We boarded with the A group this time, so we were all sitting together, I was on the aisle which is so much better than the middle. And I had another little blue friend to help make the flight that much more pleasant. We landed in Nashville at 9:15 and I did get a little worried that they may have lost my luggage. Chuck and Ace got theirs quickly. I waited and waited and didn't see mine, I kept seeing the same bags go by and none of them were mine. Then I spotted my business card on the conveyor belt. I had this thing from work that attaches to your handle and one side had a plastic laminate you put a business card in and then sealed. It makes finding your luggage much easier. Well, I saw the whole tag thing lying on the conveyor belt attached to nothing. Finally, I spotted my bag. Tammy once again transported us home and I tried to go to sleep, since I had to work the next day and knew I wouldn't be adjusted back to Central time. But, I had a hell of a time going to sleep.

Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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