Wednesday, December 12, 2007


As planned, I was primarily a fringe participant in the blogger hijinks in Vegas. I did get the opportunity to meet a few folks at IP on Thursday night and at the Venetian on Saturday. It was quite cool attaching faces and voices to some bloggerly identities.

Given my relative obscurity in the bloggerly community, I was pleased how folks were gracious and made a stranger feel welcome.

A great trip overall with not a lot of poker. There was some bad luck and bad play at $1/2 tables at Riveriera and the Venetian, tournament cashes at Binion's and Orleans, a mistaken registration for an O8 tournament at Orleans on Monday. (Finished in the mid 40s in a 60-person, very elderly field. Actually, kind of fun.)

I busted in the WPBT Classic just before the second break. I got great cards early when none of those solid, tricky players were ready to spew and not much of anything after that.

My buddy Shep arrived from D.C. late Thurday night. We slipped seamlessly into our traditional pursuit of Vegas-induced ridiculousness. The high point involved crashing the Las Vegas Metro Police Department Christmas party at the Hilton on Friday. No arrests, incidents of police brutality or criminal charges resulted, even after our cover as a recently retired FBI agent and a D.C. cop were blown near the end of the evening.

My head did feel like a target for police baton training on Saturday after multiple bartenders severely cracked my skull with bottles of Ketel One and jars of green olives. My attorney is working out a settlement with Oscar Goodman as we speak.

Today, I'm hacking sputum in rainbow colors. It's either a wretched cold or I contracted TB from the desert rats at Gold Spike.

I'll flesh out a few other details/observations about the trip in the next few days.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Moving on up

Shep and I are staying on the Strip for this trip to Vegas. We have always stayed downtown previously. The desert rat ambience seemed to suit us. My excuse was double-deck blackjack. Shep perversely insisted one year that we stay at the Golden Spike and booked us a "suite." Something went wrong with the reservation and they gave us the same rate on a two-bedroom suite at the Plaza. It was not much of an upgrade, but certainly more acceptable.

That was the year we were pulling out of the Plaza parking garage for a road trip to Laughlin when a cop on a moped followed us to the street. Within seconds of exiting the garage, we were surrounded by several police cars, a motorcycle and the forementioned moped. That damn moped worried me.

The existence of an open bottle of Cuervo, a 12-pack of beer and a potential felony or two in the car was not comforting either.

I rolled down my window like a good citizen and one of the officers, gun drawn and at his side, urgently asked if I knew the gentleman in the passenger seat. That would be Shep, of course.

Shep is 6-3, broad but not fat with a clean-shaven head. He is also quite black. We quickly learned that a large black man had robbed several tourists in the Plaza parking garage that morning.

I resisted the urge to throw Shep to the blue-uniformed wolves and told the officer that he's a big-time reporter in the Washington Bureau of a rather large wire service, a claim that just happened to be true at the time. The cops pulled him out of the car, spread his legs and frisked him away. They apparently weren't big readers. They let me, the white guy, stay in the car and listen to smooth jazz on the radio while they checked Shep for contraband.

Who says justice is blind?

We were allowed to leave unharmed and unarrested, shaken and slightly stirred. Shep has always maintained that he should have gotten Rev. Al Sharpton, who he knew, to file a harassment claim that would be worth a princely sum of say .... one thousand dollars. I've always insisted that we were at least owed some buffet comps.

Shep and I started our Vegas habit soon after we had completed a long project at the paper about gangs. We had scammed a trip to Reno for some big seminar during the reporting, won some minor cash after winning an award for the series and figured Vegas might be a good place to spend it.

The trip hasn't been an annual thing, but we try to hit Vegas the first week of December every couple of years. The rodeo is always in town, but we endure it. I've tried to convince Shep that we should get tickets and stop by the bullriding or something for an hour or two, but we never make it. I do, however, loath country music by the time we head back east.

This year we decided it was time to act like semi-responsible, mature adults and stay on the Strip. I initially picked the Stratosphere, afraid to settle too far away from the warm, mangy womb of Downtown. We settled on the Riveria. I've never been in the place, but it sounded old-school and the rates were reasonable.

It wasn't until I booked our rooms that I learned the headline show is "An Evening at La Cage" with Frank Marino. Instead of cowboys (and a scant number of cowgirls), we'll possibly be rubbing sequined elbows at the tables with crossdressers and transvestites. Interesting.

Yeah, I got the Vegas buzz. Ready to play poker. Ready to drink. Ready to observe the human zoo. I looked for a tournament that I can make after landing tomorrow. It looks like the best available option is ... the 2 p.m. at Binion's.

I have to face it. I'm a desert rat at heart.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Positive identification

If you see a tall, white guy in his 40s stumbling through the IP's Geisha Bar on Thursday night, that will be me. Take pity on this WPBT virgin and I might buy you a drink or three.

Arriving Thursday morning first freakin' class on Continental from Cleveland and will be looking to play a noon/early afternoon tournament. That should give me plenty of time to stop by and meet a blogger or two that evening before my buddy Shep arrivies from D.C. I'm planning to play the WPBT on Saturday as well.

I'm looking forward to this trip. It's been awhile since I've done Vegas. My liver is quivering in anticipation.