Friday, April 22, 2005

A Remarkable Life.

On the crest of Friday night turning into Saturday morning, June 3rd, 2005

I'm not really here.

Or maybe I am, it's too hard to tell at this point. My life is getting like the movie "Primer" and I'm no longer sure what time track I'm on. I do know I wrote about winning the blogger satellite and getting my WSOP $1,500 E-ticket back in April. But the fantasy was nothing like this.

Or maybe it was.

I'm in the self-proclaimed "Longest Stretch Limo in Las Vegas." I'm sitting in the rear seat alone. Somewhere about a football field in front of me is a crew of people who I don't know, and I don't think want to get to know. Outside of several women who I greatly fear are soiled doves, I can see a trio of steroid-pumped 20-somethings, one of whom is barfing great chunks of a Harrah's buffet special out the limo window. His head is being held and the stream directed downwind by Marilyn Monroe. We picked up Marilyn and Elvis on the Strip about 20 minutes ago after the dwarf spotted them and demanded they be brought aboard.

I'm paying the freight on the LSLiLV, but the dwarf is running the show. The dwarf frightens me, as he would any rational person who hopes to live a long, quiet life into old age. The dwarf looks like a compressed version of Mick Jagger, maybe a Jagger who's been mangled in a steam press. The dwarf is wearing a top hat, silk scarf and striped low-riding pants a la a Jagger of the "Gimme Shelter" "Get Yer Ya-Yas Out" era. The resemblance ends with the dwarf's t-shirt, which I can't see in the dim limo interior lights, but I already know reads, "I'm not fucking cute."

This is all Iggy's fault. After the debacle of a dwarf no-show at an earlier Vegas live poker blogger tourney, Iggy had gone to extreme measures this year to ensure a little person would be there to "cheer on" the blogger horse.

Cheer on, Jesus. Mini-Iggy was a nightmare. He had shown up ringside 20 minutes after I had sat down at my first table, screaming so loud that play was stopped.

"What's the matter with you fuckers?" he cried. "Get the fuck out of the way, there's a little person trying to see, goddamit. Don't you have any sense of decency! I'm handicapped, you bastards!"

He was also drunk as a skunk, sloshing Guinness over assorted boat shoes and stiletto heels.

"There you are," he yelled when he had finally forced his way to the front of the crowd and spotted my WPBT cap. "God, you're an old fart, aren't you, cotton-top? I thought all you internets people were kids.

"Well, what the hell. Iggy - that's me! - says kick their ass! Floggers forever! Bonus Code: Bite Me! Reload Code: Bite Me Hard! Remember to buy the Poker Fucker Guide and take a leak or something!"

Security arrived at that point and tried to hustle the dwarf away quietly. I should have many pleasurable memories of playing in my first - and quite possibly only - $1500 WSOP tournament. But I'm afraid the image of a 250-lb man rolling on the floor screaming like a little girl as he tried to detach a dwarf biting at his crotch is the one that's going to remain when I'm older and grayer.

It took some time for things to get back to normal, and for awhile it looked like I was going to get bounced out with the dwarf, but I stood my ground, proclaimed my innocence and the Harrah Powers-that-Is finally told everyone to shuffle-up-n-deal.

And they did. And we did play, and here's the short version, `cause I want someone to pay me for the long version. Cut your throat, McManus. There's a new sheriff in town.

Part 1: The Game. I played a lot of hands. Actually, I didn't play a lot of hands. I sat through a lot of hands. The Poker Gods were amused to throw the Hammer at me four - count `em - four times in a row during one session. I didn't play them, nor did I play the Hammer at any time during the game when it showed up. What, do I look stupid? Fun is fun. Money and a shot at the Big Show is something else.

Part 2: Fred's encounter with celebrity. I didn't recognize anybody big at any of my tables, until close to my end, but I was in so much fear, I'm not sure I would have recognized Peg if she had been sitting across from me.

Somewhere in the late hours, one of our open seats is filled by Scotty Nguyen, who is seated directly across from me. Scotty is carrying what looks like a decayed tangerine which he carefully places next to his stack. He glances around the table, measuring each of us in turn, and finally stops at me. Not surprising, since I have the Scotty Nguyen bobblehead that Peg gave me next to my stack.

"Nice," Scotty says. "Bring you luck?"

"So far," I answer.

"Good," he says. Everyone should buy one, then." And the table laughs.

Scotty only stays with us for a half-dozen hands, never playing, before he's moved again. I never see him again.

Part 3: Okay, what happened? I'll tell you about the last hand I played, the hand that ended the tourney for me. As usual, I'm short-stacked. I have about $8k of chips left. We're at Level 11 with $300 antes and $800 $1600 blinds. This means that any hand I play pass the flop I'm probably going to have to bet all or a significant part of my stack to win. I'm on the button and find a pair of 8s, which my mind uselessly tells me are nicknamed "snowmen." One person in front of me calls the BB. Everyone else folds. I raise to $3200. The blinds go away. The original better calls.

Flop is rainbow A 8 7

I've probably lost on sets more than anything else in the world. I can just tell another Ace is going to show at the turn. I check. He checks.

WtF? Does he have a small pair that's already beaten by everything on the board? Does he have a K something? Should I have bet? Why am I here? I can't even play.

Turn is another 8. I've been playing Hold `Em since 2003. This is the first 4 of a kind I have ever had. I've won the hand. My normal instinct is go all-in, but I decide to milk it if I can. He's got at least triple the chips I have. I bet $4,000, leaving me with a little under a grand. He calls, and I've got him figured for an Ace in his hand.

River is an A. Great card for me if I'm right. Maybe he has an A 7 and just pulled the boat. Even better. I go all-in. And as I expect, he calls.

What I'm not expecting is what I see when we flip our cards. He's been slow-playing a pair of Aces. My 4-of-a-kind has just been trounced.

"Bad, bad, beat," someone murmurs, and I stagger away from the table as if I just emerged from the last car of a train wreck. Someone gently guides me to the table where paperwork needs to be filled out.

Part 4 - The End: I finished in 33rd position. Winnings: $4,020. Probably will work out to around $2,500 when you figure in travel, room, expenses like the LSLiLV that I had immediately regretted being talked into hiring by the dwarf and the pack of remoras that somehow had attached themselves to him.

A bodyguard from the blogger community should have been there to protect me, but they had their own problems with the Aladdin management after the dwarf had run rampant naked through the hotel hallways, snapping a wet towel at anyone unfortunate enough to be in his way, as he howled for "Aprils, goddammit! Maudie! I need wimmins and I need them now!"

Oh, the humanity, Iggy. How could you do this to your own?

At an opportune stoplight, I boot the semi-conscious dwarf out the limo door. After a generous tip for both, Marilyn and Elvis help me unload the frat boys and hookers. Marilyn gives me a kiss, and Elvis a high-five, and I'm finally alone.

"You know where Mt. Charleston or Lee Canyon is?" I ask the driver.

"About an hour-and-a-half north," he answers. I toss him the pages I've printed from the Web. "Let's go there, now," I say.

About an hour-and-a-half north later, I'm walking up the Desert Overlook Trail in false dawn light. At the overlook, I gaze out at the Nevada Test Site, looking for Frenchman Flat, just south of Yucca Flats, where the first A-Bombs were tested. I'm here to prove a point to a fictional character.

The true dawn begins its rosy-finger stretching in the East, and I whisper, "He was right, Gnossos. It never was as big as the fucking sun."

I dial the number I know best, and wake Peg up. "Did you win?" she asks sleepily.

"Yes, I did," I say. And morning becomes electric.


BadBlood said...

Great read!

maudie said...

Ditto,BadBlood...nice job!