Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Trouble in Vegas - the postlude

At the fields, after 'celebrating' our appearance in the finals, people start packing up and saying goodbyes. My car is heading back to the Stratosphere to hit up a room that had late checkout so that we can all shower. Genius move as maybe 11 people shower up in two rooms for the next hour. Apparently I clean up nice as I put on slacks and a nice shirt for the first time in weeks, as I was meeting my friend and some of his friends for dinner (and subsequently staying overnight at their very large house). Took a taxi to Summerlin and met them at the Agave Restaurant. Went back to their place, hung out in front of the fireplace and snacked some more, then early (ish) to sleep around 11-11:30. Another night of no gambling woo-hoo!.

Unfortunately I had only factored in 3 'intervals' of gambling, and I had all day Monday, so I didn't really 'win' anything by not gambling Sunday night.

Interlude: Some more highlights of TiV.
* Bagel bar. They had 4 large buckets of bagels and a complete fixin's bar, including cream cheese, peanut butter, jelly, you name it. Very clever. Unfortunately I didn't know about it until right before the finals, so missed out on some carbo loading on Saturday. I ended up skipping lunch on Saturday during the bye because I knew I would be strapping on the feedbag that night.
* Playing with Tyler Grant. The guy is a stud. He would be a starting receiver on DoG's O and a shutdown defender on DoG D (or any other open nationals level team out there). Only slightly behind was Ryan Reynolds. Definitely a pleasure to play with people where if you put it up deep to them, you're 90% sure they are going to come down with it, regardless of who is covering them. This is definitely something that has been missing from DoG for the last few years. The only deep threats we have had is the speedster, not the guy who is going to consistently come down with the crappy throw. I didn't get a chance to explore why he was playing mixed instead of open, but it definitely helped explain why Mischief won the title.
* The top of the Stratosphere. Just gorgeous, and the slowly rotating dining area was pretty cool, if standard in setups like that.

So, I say goodbye to my teammates around 6:30 as they run off to dinner or the airport. Meanwhile, my buddy that I flew in with has informed me that he doesn't want to come into town to get me, so I should take a cab out to Summerlin, which is about 35 minutes out and meet him and his friend at the Agave Restaurant. I grab a cab, and with instructions in hand, we make it to the restaurant. Unbeknownst to me, there are 4 other people with the group, including the top Asian bowler in the world. We talk about bowling at the top, ultimate at the top. It is a pleasure talking with somebody who has been there and knows what it is like. Of course, a LOT more people bowl then play ultimate, but there were some interesting parallels. He talked about how maybe 15 years ago the industry had made a conscious effort to move away from 'bowling alley' to 'bowling lanes', rightly avoiding the negative connotation with bowling alley. He owned bowling lanes in California. Bowled 10 300s last year. He was also talking about how the equipment has changed the game so much, where 300s are commonplace, and how the ball has changed. Apparently the ball has to have a static weight distribution in testing, but that they have taken advantage of certain technologies for the DYNAMIC rotation to have the ball get much more action when it strikes the pins, such that strikes are far more commonplace now even for the average player. He talked about how as a lane owner, they are unable to cripple the lanes anymore by playing with the waxes and varnishes because the balls are so good. Interesting conversation.

That night we turned in early after going back to Doug's house (friend of my buddy who lived in Vegas and at whose place we were staying). I was able to catch the latest episode of Battlestar Galactica, still the best show on television, although it may be about to jump the shark. Hopefully they can turn it around in the next few months.

Get up the next morning and loll around doing nothing. Catch up on email, watch some TV, read my book (Imagica by Clive Barker), before the 3 of us finally get out of the house and head over to Red Rock Casino. Apparently somebody had the brainchild a few years ago of siting casinos not on the strip, but in the suburbs, basically calling them locals casinos. Well, duh, naturally they aren't doing very well. Not sure of the brainiac who came up with that one. Talking to Doug, he mentioned that NO ONE he knows gambles that lives in Vegas. We had brunch, and then walked around the very large casino, complete with bowling lanes, movie theaters, etc., before I settled in and found another $5 blackjack table. They went off to get in line at the Poker room to play some no-limit Texas Hold'em. Well, today was definitely not Saturday night. I have never seen a dealer have the kind of run he had. Literally every up card was a face card. And the dealer almost never had less than 19. And I almost never had twenty or didn't go over. Only through some lucky placement of larger bets was I able to hang around for awhile. I finally bailed after I lost the first $50 of $100. I walked around for awhile before going to another $5 table. Naturally, the only open seat was next to this old biddy who was smoking like a chimney. I kept shifting trying to avoid the smoke but failing miserably. I finally had to keep blowing the smoke away until she finished the damn thing. Just a nasty habit. Well, changing dealers didn't change a thing, because this dealer kept the nastiness going. I lost $100 in less than 45 minutes, including the break.

I disconsolately headed over to the poker room and watched the guys play hold'em for about 45 minutes before I said, what the hell, I'm in. I ponied up $120 for a 1-2 no limit game ($1 small blind, $2 big blind, no limit bets). They let me join their table, and I played VERY nervously to start. I had never played hold'em at an actual casino before, just some low stake hack games in which people stayed in FAR too often because of the low stakes. 10 people at the table, which was also many more than I am used to. First few rounds, no question that I fold as soon as the bet gets to me. Fortunately, my hands are such that there is no question anyway, so at least I can get the feel of the game. That's the beauty of Texas Hold'em, you can literally play for hours and spend very little money, just a couple of antes every round (the more people, the longer you can last, because the more time between antes). I finally stick my toe in the water, and stay in to see the flop for only two bucks. I get nothing, and quickly fold out. Meanwhile, I'm not learning much about my table mates. Fortunately, I watched them for awhile before I played, because I am way too nervous about screwing up on the etiquette to actually try and get tendencies.

Finally, I am dealt pocket aces. I don't think I betrayed any excitement. I think I bet $10, raising somebody on the first round bet. A few people stay in, and a mid-range pair shows up on the flop. Makes me a little nervous in case somebody gets trips, so I don't bet too aggressive, another $10. Two other people stay in. The next card, comes up, hothing exciting. Bet $20, two people stay. Finally, the last card. Trips on the board. Great news! I feel much stronger with my full house, and the odds that somebody has the 4th card on the board of the two remaining players is very low in my mind, so I bet more aggressively, $40. One player folds, and the one that I'm worried about, who actually seems to be a very good player, waffles for awhile, then folds. I win about $120. It is my only big pot of the night. I win maybe one or two more small pots, and then start getting stupid, staying in way too much. Fortunately I don't get a good draw on one hand because I didn't pay attention and would have lost to the flush. I actually missed a number of flush draws on other peoples parts because of nerves. Fortunately I never drew a good hand in those instances.

Alas, the long weekend drew to a close. We left the casino soon after I got bageled, grabbed a bite to eat, and then off to the airport for a 10PM red-eye. The plane was empty, so I was able to grab 3 seats in a row, but this was largely useless, as I am physically unable to sleep on planes without something like Ambien. And since the flight wasn't long enough, I lay on my back for 4.5 hours and got into Boston 6AM. And the next morning I woke up at 4:45AM to fly to Philly, earlier than I had been going to sleep in Vegas. Ugh.

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