"OK... boots? Or pumps?"
"Whaaaa?" gargled Derek, as he exhaled a cloud of bong smoke. Pauly sat next to him on the gold and cream faux-silk couch in our suite.
"Boots? Or pumps?" I was wearing a brown knee-high boot on my left foot while I donned half of a new pair of snakeskin pumps on my right. "This is a very important decision."
"I don't fuckin' care. Whatever you're least likely to complain about walking around in" grumbled Pauly as he put on his jacket.
"You guys are no help at all" I spat, closing the bedroom door.
We were already late. Iggy, Boy Genius, and Maudie were waiting for us downstairs so we could head over to the MGM Grand together. We were all due for a grand dinner at Nob Hill with the G-Vegas boys and Al Cant Hang in about a half an hour. Of course, my face-painting and blow-drying and attempts at accessorizing my new chocolate brown Juicy Couture dress had delayed the entire party.
It was cold outisde. And the boots were warmer. But their heels were significantly higher and much more unstable. If only I'd brought tights that worked with the snakeskin pumps. Fuck. What would Joe Speaker do?
I went with the boots. Pain for fashion is just an unfortunately necessary part of a well-dressed life.
"So, you went for the hooker boots" said Pauly as I emerged from the bedroom.
"They're not hooker boots. You of all people should know that" I spat.
The six of us ended up at the back of a very long cab line in front of the IP. It was moving, but just barely. We'd certainly be late for the reservation.
Options were discussed. Should I just get my own car from valet and drive everyone? But six of us wouldn't fit in the Mazda. Oh hey, look there's a Town Car available! But it can only take five. Fuck. Guess we'll just have to wait it out. Should we call Otis and tell him we'll be late?
Then, like the Lord himself had sent it down, a white stretch limo rounded the corner, like a white ray of light from heaven. Iggy immediately inquired into pricing.
$65 for the six of us? That's like, $10 a person. We're taking a fucking limo to the MGM!
We stepped out of line and took off for our white stretch. As Pauly gave me his hand to help me in, I noticed a clump of slack-jawed bloggers at the end of the line starting at us as we hopped into our luxury ride.
Ship it! Holla!
As we crawled through traffic, I sat in amazement, thinking about all the over-the-top Vegas experiences I'd had in just the last few days. Comped room at Bellagio. Comped dinner at swanky five star steak place I could never afford under normal circumstances. Pimp-tastic IP suite with tub built for naughtiness. And now, a stretch limo to another five-star meal surrounded by some of the best people I've ever met. What did I do to deserve all of this? This is not my beautiful house...is it?
Eleven of us sat down for dinner, as our party of six joined up with Otis, Dr. Jeff, Marty, Bad Blood, and Al Can't Hang. We occupied a long, grand table in the back of one of Nobhill's semi-private rooms. Before we could even order our meals, the prop bets were already flying. Pauly set the over/under at 4 on how many people would order Michael Mina's signature item: the lobster pot pie. I thought of betting the over since I already knew I was getting it, Otis was getting it, and I had the power of influencing a key swing vote in Derek, as I helped him navigate through the menu. But there would be plenty of time for gambling later. Though Derek ended up going with the Steak Rossini (which I'd enjoyed on a prior visit), Iggy tipped the scales in favor of the over when he asked the waiter, "so, am I just a just an idiot for not getting this pot pie?"
Another over/under was set on the number of vibrators and/or dildos Dr. Jeff had successfully removed from peoples' asses. It turned out he had attempted three times, but had unfortunately never succeeded despite having "girly hands."
The lobster pot pie certainly lived up to my expectations. And the conversation surrounding its consumption exceeded them. Dinners and conversations like this one simply don't exist in Los Angeles. People who have had dinners in Los Angeles know what I'm talking about.
After the meal, we headed en masse to the MGM Poker Room and it's adjoining Sportsbook bar, which, by this point in the evening, was overflowing with bloggers. I went to the bar to get a drink and ended up not leaving for hours. I immediately ran into Jen Leo, whom I hadn't seen in an age, and her husband Schecky, outfitted in a stylish suede jacket which I immediately complimented. Jen bought me a cocktail and we played catch-up while chatting intermittently with dozens of bloggers that wandered in and out of the bar. I even ran into Dave, who had worked with us covering the WSOP for Poker News. I was excited to hear that he'd be in Melbourne during the Aussie Millions.
With things winding down at the MGM, a trip to the Castle was in order. I hobbled across the Strip, the balls of my feet on fire from 5+ hours in 4 inch heels. After drinking at the Sherwood Forest Bar with Pauly, Mean Gene, California Jen, and Dave, I adjoined to a Pai Gow table where I took a seat across from Grubbette. Out of the corner of my eye I thought I was hallucinating when I saw Shane Nickerson at a Let it Ride table... but indeed, it was Shane Nickerson! At a Let it Ride table! Otis held court at an adjoining Pai Gow table and did a disturbing little dance every time he won a hand. He looked temporarily possessed, his eyes bugging out of their sockets as he pumped his fists and screamed unintelligible words of victory as he pounded his chest. I broke even on the table and Pauly would have too, had he not moved all in for $100 on his last hand and lost.
Somehow, I hobbled back to the IP with Pauly around 4:30 A.M. I feared I had done permanent damage to my feet from these boots.
And just as I stepped back into our suite for the night... the heel of the right one broke.
* * * * *
I slept in, finally gaining consciousness around 1 P.M. There was a note on the nightstand.
"Went to a strip club with Bad Blood. Seeya at tourney! - Pauly"
My beloved had gone and done The Procedure. God bless him.
In that moment, I was about a coinflip for playing the tournament. From a pure bankroll and life-roll standpoint, it wasn't a good decision. I figured I'd get showered, head over there, and make a final decision on the fly. If I didn't play, I could always hang out at the bar with the bustouts.
"You'd better play good today, you're on my fantasy team!" said everyone's favorite kilted thespian, Falstaff as I walked into the Venetian.
Fantasy team? People had fantasy teams? And someone had actually picked me? It turned out several someones had.
I guess I'm a pretty good dark-horse pick. Over the long-term, I'm wildly inconsistent results-wise, but when it comes down to it, I'm a solid MTT player and I've final tabled one of these before. And, as several bloggers pointed out to me, I've been tournament reporting for a couple of years now and might have picked up a couple of tricks from watching some of the world's best players day in and day out.
Fuck it, man. I was in.
I had Otis, April, California Jen, BWoP, Uncle Bracelet, and two of Falstaff's home-game buddies at my starting table. I played pretty tight to start and tried not to get involved in big pots. BWoP was wearing a black T-shirt with the words "Asian Jew" lettered in yellow on the front. A-J was the Asian Jew and she would squeal "ASIAN JEW!'' every time someone showed the hand. One time, California Jen turned over a set of Jacks and BWoP screamed "SHE'S HIDING THE JEWS!"
On a king-high, all-heart board, the five seat bet out from the big blind. I had A-T with the ace of hearts and moved in on him, thinking I could push him off his top-pair no-heart. It looked for a minute like he was going to fold. I mean, I had been playing pretty snug here. But he called, turning over K-T, no hearts. OK good read, but I'm in trouble here. The turn was a blank and I started thinking about what kind of cocktail I was going to order at the bar... until the Ace of diamonds fell on the river.
Whoa... I've got like 11,000 chips now. Guess I'm gonna have to play some poker.
The rest of the tourney was pretty much a blur. I remember busting Biggestron with K-5 against his A-rag, but only because he reminded me of my suckout so many times throughout the rest of the weekend ;) I remember tripling up when Dawn Summers moved in with A-7, Jordan called with T-T and I picked up K-K in the small blind at the perfect time. I remember chanting "noflushnoflushnoflush" as I took my A-K up against Instant Tragedy's A-K. And I remember looking down at pocket tens after a short-stack pushed and Otis quickly called. Remembering that this sort of laydown was what had won me that beautiful room at the Bellagio, I threw them away after hemming and hawing for several minutes. Otis had queens and I patted myself on the back.
I made the final table with about 55,000 in chips, facing 3,000-6,000 blinds. I was also STARVING-- it was 11 PM by now and I hadn't had a morsel since lunch. I ended up moving in with 7-7 from early position only to run into Otis' pocket tens. 9th place. I was proud of having made two final tables in four live WPBT tournaments, but was disappointed at yet again, just missing the big tournament money that so eludes me. I was ready to sit alone in the food court with my tray of Panda Express and beat myself up mentally about my performance, but I ran into Pauly and forgot all about that. What can I say, my boyfriend's drunken smile cheers me up instantly.
After downing some much-needed sustenance, we returned to the poker room to sweat the rest of the final table. It was a heads-up battle for the ages with the Rooster emerging the victor over runner-up Otis. Though most of the money had been chopped up three-handed, the Rooster earned the seriously cool prize of an American flag that had flown over Camp Cropper in Baghdad, courtesy of Dr. Chako.
From there, the party moved back to the Geisha Bar. The Rooster got tanked as he wandered the casino floor, paying off various old debts to bloggers with his newfound prize money. I drank the first of several vodka-and-7-ups, a drink that would be mercilessly ridiculed by Garth's whiskey-drinking girlfriend, Gretchen. At one point, I found a video poker machine someone had left a dollar in and ran that buck all the way up to $10.00. While I stabbed at the screen in a drunken haze, I became aware of a conversation that was brewing behind me between Derek, Bad Blood, and a hooker. She had scraggly platinum hair, wore white high-heeled boots over her acid-washed jeans, and said something about how her evening would be so much better if she were sucking both of their cocks.
Just another Saturday night in Las Vegas...
My evening came to an end at around 5 A.M. I headed up to the suite and Pauly said he would be up in about half an hour or so. I got changed and sat down on the faux-silk couch and loaded a bong. Just as I was about to take my first hit, he burst through the door... and headed for the balcony.
About 30 seconds later I realized what he was doing out there.
"Oh my God. Are you PEEING!" I squealed as I opened the sliding glass door. "There is a perfectly good bathroom 10 feet away!"
The look of ecstasy and relief on his face said it all. There is no substitute for public urination. Especially after taking that last shot at the bar that you really shouldn't have because it sent you over the end to that bad place.
Drunk Pauly tucked his penis back into his pants with a shit-eating grin. 10 minutes later, he was out cold.
And so was I.