"You want us to move over?"
The guy must have sensed my impatience. He and his wife's ass were blocking the moving walkway leading into the Excalibur hotel. I needed to get through there and to the Luxor in time to sign up for the noon no-limit tourney.
"No, that's okay," I said as I placed my hands on the rubber handrail and jumped over to stable ground. "This will work better."
As I strode confidently toward my destiny, the guy yelled at my back.
"In a hurry to lose that $300, buddy?"
It was Sunday morning, 11:15am. I'd already been awake for nine hours and my poker jones was about to eat my liver (something I was sure I'd need later on in the day).
By 11:30 I was signed up, sitting in a bar, and drinking a beer to calm my nerves.
It was not money I was concerned about. It was a cheap $25 buy-in with a $3 add-on. Forty players (give or take), limit for an hour, no limit after that. The blinds increased quickly. The whole tourney would take about two hours.
I wish I was as good at remembering every hand I played in the three touraments I signed up for. Unfortunately, I only remember a few.
Very few people sitting at my first table look like they know what they're doing. My lack of live tournament experience was not going to hurt me. As I looked down at my chips, however, I knew that one mistake would spell my end quickly. $250 in chips doesn't last long when blinds start at $10 and $15 and make it to $100 and $200 in the first hour.
I sit and stroke my beer bottle for hand after hand. 8-2 off. 10-7 off. No hands. I limp in (not cheap prospect) on A-10 suited. The flop doesn't help. I'm out. Other limping does no good. I suspect I'll be limping out in 34th place very soon.
I'm down to about $150 on the button when the corners of my two cards reveal two fine letters K and K.
One caller before it gets to me. Raise. Small blind folds. Big blind re-raises.
Aces? I think not.
I try to work up the best, "This is a fine mess I've gotten myself into" face.
He calls. King on the flop gives me a set to win. I still can't remember what he had.
Overcome with confidence, I spend the next 30 minutes depleting my stack. Player after player drops out until I'm one of 15 left. I'm forced all in with A-9 off. It doesn't hold up. Out in 15th with a lesson learned.
My buddy Joe has decided to play this one with me. I expect to do no better than the day before. My only goal is to last longer than him. With only that goal in mind, I play conservatively enough to hear these words:
"Congratualtions, guys. You've made it to the final table."
The floorman reads off the prize money. Top seven pays. I'm one of ten at the table.
Sadly, I'm a member of the short-stack club. After a couple of rounds of really big blinds, I'm forced to go all in with pocket fives. What a time to have a caller with pocket kings, huh? Thank you, Otis. You're the first person to be kicked off the final table.
I think I'm experienced now. I'm not. I made it through the first hour and four short of the final table. All-in with AQ suited finds a caller with pocket eights. Goodbye, Mr. Chips.
You'd think I'd be upset about all of this. However, I'm not. Because the tourney stuff was just for kicks. The actual work of the weekend was to win enough playing ring games to cover late-night drinking Pai Gow losses.
And the ring games, friends....that's where the fun is.
Coming up in Otis in Vegas Pt. 2:
The British Woman and The Chop
Otis Loses His Mind But Wins the Pot