"Look at that boy, Martha. He looks like a superball, what with all his bouncing around."--Imaginary Otis-watchers in Vegas, 2003
The last time I was in Vegas, I couldn't control my anticipation. I elbowed a woman in the chest in an effort to get my bags off the luggage carousel. With no casino host to meet me (I was sure Olaf would show up one lat time), I found msyelf without a pre-arranged ride. Since I like to walk and a like to chat up cab drivers, I hadn't rented a car.
I was less than a mile from my hotel, but one doesn't walk from the airport in Vegas. I spied the cab line. It seemed to be more than a hour long. The shuttles in Vegas are terminally slow.
As I bounced from the cab side to the shuttle side, my face must have become a mask of frustration usually only seen on the faces of horny high school guys who can't convince their girlfriends that they really, really do love them.
Then, a lot like the drug pedlers in Dead show parking lots, a guy sidled up next to me and whispered something.
"Huh?" I said. I was getting ready to hire someone to pretend I was rich and ferry me to my hotel in an Escalade or something.
"You want a cab fast, man?" He had a south of the border accent and a look in his eye that he knew how to work the system.
I reached in my pocket, mentally doing the math on how to tip an unknown guy for an unknown service that may or may not be legit. I decided to try ten bucks.
I slipped it in his hand and he grabbed my bags. I followed him out a side door where I saw the cab line had grown exponentially. He threw up his hand and a cab zipped to the curb. The guy gave me a nod, I hopped in the cab, and directed the driver to the MGM.
As he pulled away, I stole a look at the curb where a blue sign hung on a sign. On it was the universal symbol of a handicapped person.
Somehow, within 30 minutes of de-planing, I had unwittingly been reduced to pretending to be handicapped in order to get to the casino faster.
I silently vowed to never tell anyone how much of a degenerate I had become. I also silently noted the quickest way to get a cab in Vegas and planned to try it again someday.
When I returned from Vegas, I left that part of the story out. I picked up my write-up after I had dropped my bags at the MGM and scampered across the elevated walkway, through Ney York/New York, mistakenly walking down to street level, climbing a fence, dodging traffic, and somehow finding my way onto the motorized walkway at Excalibur.
"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).
In the end, my anticiaption, while warranted, was unnecessary. The structure of the Luxor tournament was silly. Still, I continued to play there for reasons I still don't fully understand.
Why do I bring it all up again? Because in less than three weeks, I'll be back on the Strip, back at the tables, and undoubtedly back into a sublime level of frustration of not being able to get out of the airport fast enough.
Despite my spontaneous nature, I tend to plan trips to a silly extent. Two years ago, I organized a Vegas trip for 23 guys. It went off flawlessly.
For the upcoming trip, I didn't plan at all. I got permission from Mrs. Otis, I got permission from my boss, I booked my flight. I recruited a friend to accompany me. He booked a cheap room at the WPBT convention hotel which we planned to share.
Almost all of us are poker players to one degree or another. Marty and McCown have fallen in love with the game in the past year. Everyone already knows BadBlood. Two-Hands is a math genius and a champion drinker. The last time we were in Vegas together, he kept referring to a bald, tough-guy, poker player named Nick as Pauly. After repeateded insistance on my part that Joey stop calling Nick by the wrong name, Joey finally shut up. Until about ten minutes later when he looked the guy in the face and said, "Pauly, I love you."
So, after all the recruiting, I was fairly happy with the crew that would go to meet the rest of the poker blogging elite. But it seemed like I was forgetting something.
Oh, yeah...we only booked one room.
When Marty booked the room, it averaged $60 a night, a steal on a weekend when many of the Vegas rooms are going to be filled with cowboys from the National Finals Rodeo. So, when I decided we needed a second room, I hopped online to find the rooms had tripled in price.
This leaves our little crew with some decisions to make.
I'm fairly married to the idea of staying at the same hotel as the other WPBT conventioneers. Sure, when it comes down to it, we're not going to be in the room that much and by the time it comes to bed down, it's not like any hotel is that far away. Still, I don't want to deviate from the home base. I'm like that.
So, while I'm not so hot on spending triple what the rooms were going for three weeks ago, I'm probably going to book another room for at least a portion of the trip. I may end up spending a few hours in the hotel's poker room to try to get the poker rate while I'm there.
Looking back, it seems pretty silly. Here we are, all adults making a decent living, likely to gamble several times more than we're going to pay for rooms, and here I am obsessing about a little hotel room. But, that's what I do.
Frankly, I think some enterprising Vegas entrepreneur should hit up the hotels to endeavor in a venture in which they offer personal sleeping pods for gamblers of our ilk. The room is only a place to keep our changes in underwear and shower once every 36-48 hours. If we sleep, it's rare and doesn't usually last for very long. A little pod big enough for my luggage and a cot would be all I would need.
So, here I sit, one day before Thanksgiving, considering a trip that is still 16 days away. In between now and then I have to contend with the in-laws, work two weeks, and recover from what is sure to be a painful birthday celebration on December 4th.
With work moving slowly, I'm toying with an agenda for the weekend (incidentally, I never follow my agenda and only compose them as an exercise that allows me to think about Vegas in what I convince myself is a productive manner).
Friday, December 10th
8:00am--Board plane, go to sleep, wake up in midflight, watch some DVD on my laptop after learning I can't get high-speed access on a bankrupt airline.
9:30am--Land in Vegas, try to remember whether I packed and if I did, whether I checked my luggage or carried it on.
10:45am--Check into hotel and check to see if anyone else from the WPBT has arrived
11:00am-Buy my first rack of chips and start playing
Noon-8:30pm--Gray area that will likely involve a lot of cards and a few drinks
10:00pm--Greet the rest of my crew as they arrive and get them sat down at a poker table
Saturday, December 11th
2:30am--Find a pai gow table.
7:30am--Go to sleep for a few hours before the first ever WPBT event
10:00am--Cab it to Sam's Town for the breakfast and meet and greet with the WPBT players and pros. Somehow I figure I'll end up playing there as I wait for the tournament to start.
1:00pm--Start playing in the WPBT Holiday Classic
1:09pm--Bust out of the WPBT Holiday Classic and meet Al Can't Hang at the bar for a shot or five.
From there, even in my exercised mind, it gets a little gray (charcoal). I'd be happy to take suggestions, because I've still got three more days to go after that.
God bless that God forsaken town.