Last December, only a scant few hours before I was set to meet 100 poker-blogging strangers that I had previously only communicated with via the anonymous cloak of the internet, I decided I needed the kind of confidence boost that was not found at the bottom of an an amber-tinted bottle or a sweetly scented Ziploc baggie.
I got my hair done.
The women who are reading this know what I'm talking about. Getting some snazzy layers and a professional blow-dry can lift a girl up in a way no fruity cocktail can. In the hands of a brush-and-dryer expert, my fine, board-straight blonde locks enjoy a sort of follicular CPR, emerging full of thebbounce and shine and life they'd been missing before I stepped through the salon doors. The last time I had my hair done at the Palms Las Vegas, I left feeling like the goddamned prom queen, headed straight for the $1-2 NL table and hit the high hand jackpot with quad aces.
So you could say I was looking for some version of that before meeting 100 strangers.
I had no appointment, but they were able to squeeze me in. My usual stylist wasn't there so I was turned over to a tall brunette named Krista.
"So what brings you to Vegas?"
"Well... poker really. I'm meeting up with some fellow poker degenerates for a private tournament." (I mean really, like I'm going to geek out and explain blogging and the internet to some incredibly chic, perfectly coiffed 25-year old hairdresser?)
"Poker, huh? You play?"
"My ex-boyfriend plays."
"He any good?"
"Oh my God yeah. He plays like really high stakes at Bellagio."
"Did he play the World Series?"
"Only a couple of tournaments. He was back in Copenhagen for most of the summer before that."
It was then that it dawned on me.
"Who's your boyfriend?"
"Who's your ex?"
"His name is Gus Hansen. Have you heard of him?"
An hour later I headed over to check in to the Imperial Palace with a fabulous head of hair, courtesy of Gus Hansen's ex-girlfriend.
So yesterday, I'm in a different kind of salon. Just as hip, just as chic-yet-reasonably priced, only in this place, a different sort of thing is done to a different sort of hair.
Again, my usual, uh, "stylist" wasn't there, so I got Melanie, a sparkly little pixie of a girl in faded jeans tucked into tall, cuffed brown leather boots. She talked a mile a minute in endless runon sentences punctuated with childlike giggles, all to distract me from what she was (owww!) doing.
"So tell me something interesting."
"Ummm...I play poker?"
"Really? Wow! Are you like a professional?"
"Hardly. But everyone likes to fantasize."
"How often do you play?"
"It used to be every single day, now it's maybe 5 days a week."
"I know some professional poker players, well really I know their wives! Or ex-wives! Heheheheheeee! (Rrrrrrrip!) Like, do you know Bobby Baldwin?"
"The dude who's like Master of the Universe at Bellagio? Well I know who he is."
"I do his ex-wife all the time. When they were married, it was like so cool because she'd like, send the jet for me (rrrrrrrip!) and I'd go to Burbank Airport and fly to Las Vegas just to wax her, right? And I'd get put up at Bellagio and get to go shopping and stuff."
"That's pretty sweet."
"Totally. So like, just how high stakes does Bobby play? (Rrrrriiip!) Is he really good?"
"He plays the biggest game in the world with the best players in the world. Four and eight thousand limit. You could win or lose a million dollars in that game in a night."
"Oh my God."
"Like, oh. My. God. (Rrrrrriiiip!)"
"I could never gamble that kind of money. Hehehehehe! I mean never! Would you ever gamble that big like if you had the kind of money Bobby does?"
"Never that big. I honestly can't fathom a world where I'd ever play bigger than 100-200. Even with that kind of money."
"One and two hundred what? (Rrrrrripppp!)"
"(Ohhhhhhhhhh Kelly Clarkson!) Never mind."
"OK! You're done! Wasn't so bad, right!"
I left that particular salon not feeling so much like the prom queen, but the prom queen's whorey porn star sister.
Finally, I was falling asleep on my couch last night around 1 A.M. while watching the new $10K PLO episode of the 2006 WSOP. My eyes were about to finally shut when "The Nuts" segment arrived, featuring Lee Watkinson and his creepy cage of scary monkeys. I had heard some freaky stories about Lee and the chimps back in the media room at the WSOP. While shooting this very segment, one of Lee's monkeys bit a young female ESPN producer and she ended up in the emergency room. Though the whole backyard-zoo scene was incredibly bizarre, I wasn't as fixated on the chimps as I was on Lee's freaky girlfriend, whom I instantly recognized from my first table at the Queen of Clubs event I recently cashed at the Bike. She designs these studded, graphic-printed hoodie sweatshirts that I proclaimed quelle tragique in one of my initial WSOP fashion reports for Pokerblog. She's as nutty as her designs, one of which Lee sported on the PLO final table, and spent the forty minutes she lasted in the tournament babbling through a champagne haze, as she hadn't realized that those "little glasses full of O.J." had booze in them.
I guess Lee was home with the monkeys that night.