Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Maltese Chip Blackjack Strategy



21 May, 2017 Day 6 - continued

I was very happy to leave behind my useless host at T.I. and get back to the Cal where I have a useful host that I have fed and watered for some time. She really took good care of me this time even though I explained in advance that my play would not be anywhere near historical averages (unless I was winning).
The Maltese Chip
In my pocket I had a $5 chip that I'd forgotten to cash in last December. The plan was simple - use this chip as my first bet, parlay it into a stake, and use that stake to be able to play for the rest of my trip. Hey, it could work...

It can be such a quick and easy drive from T.I. to the Cal and today was no different, especially since it was Sunday and not a busy weekday on the freeway. The VW Asshat swept north, made the big turn right and the hairy two lane cut-across to the downtown exit, peeled off and landed at the corner of Ogden Street. Make a fake stop for the red light, turn right, two blocks, turn left, and then right into the fabled enclave of Boyd Gaming's California Hotel and Casino parking structure. Found a good spot and did the elevator schlep to the lobby.

There was some new equipment at the gate and no booth anymore, so it was pretty clear that changes are a-comin' to the Cal's parking policies.

Check-in was pretty busy. The Cal is always pretty busy and even pretty busier when there is a video poker tournament on. I hadn't been invited to the tournament, and I was looking forward to playing in it. (See "feeding and watering your host".)

Sadly, there were no, none, zero rooms in the preferred west tower, so I was given a room on the less-preferred east tower - with the promise that I could move the next day. How bad could it be?

The answer is significantly worse than a west tower room. It's certainly serviceable but when the weather is hot - as it was - the window A/C unit makes an unbearable racket, while barely cooling the room adequately. Those units also tend to smell moldy.

The safe is "interesting". Believe it or not, I was able to fit my Bonebook with the 11" screen in this thing.

I only had to fold it once.

It fit - just - on the diagonal. I suppose you could get an iPad in there as well, as long as it isn't one of bigger ones that won't fit in the safe, he said, stating the obvious.

Sufficiently ensconsed, I headed down to make my fortune from the $5 chip.


Blackjack. I hopped on a stool on a $5 table and with a barrage of flowery language, introduced myself to the dealer, Pamela, whose luxurious black figure more than filled her luxurious flowered shirt. Cal dealers wear Hawaiian shirts because most of their clientele is either from Hawaii, or is me.

"Hey," I said.

I put the Maltese Chip down on the felt and explained that it was left over from last time and would be all I'd need to make a killing.

The cards spun out onto the felt and I picked mine up. Five and a six totaling eleven against the dealer's five... for which the correct play is to double down. So much for the lone Maltese Chip.

I fished out a lucky $20 bill and bought four more lone Maltese Chips. Doubled down. It ended up being a push. The next hand, I lost, so the Maltese Chip strategy had failed me.

But it was okay, I had a steady flow of Lucky Heinekens going to improve my play. It had been a long time since breakfast, and I hadn't had lunch yet, and the Heinies were making me giddy (where 'giddy' translates to 'obnoxious').

After a bit, Pamela left, and we had a replacement come in. I played on, and the mood of the table was great. I survived Pamela's break time and she returned and began shuffling up.

"Pamela, welcome back," I said. "You have the conn."

Pamela expertly riffled the two decks of cards together. "I have the what?.." she asked.

"The conn. You have the conn."

"Huh???"

"You have the conn. It's what they say on ships. I've never spent time on a ship, so I have no idea what it actually means."

"I have no idea what it means either," Pamela said, handing the plastic cut card to the player on my right, who split the two decks with it, hopefully in a lucky spot.

"Pamela, have you ever spent time on a ship? Or around boatyards in general?"

"No, sir, no I have not."

"Well that explains it then."

"Explains what?"

"Why you don't know conn from confusion."

She pointed to my empty betting circle.

"Are you going to play... or what."

I shut the hell up.


I ended the session about even and made my way to the Market Street cafe, the 'serve anyone anything anytime' coffee shop (except when closed for cleaning).

The short rib jones I had had for five months was about to be put to rest. I ordered, and when it came, I was nonplussed. I didn't have a fucking plus to my name.

I was looking forward to short rib ginger soy deliciousness like this:

Instead I got a fatty, brown abomination that looked like this:

It looked like a hoof or something.

It had enough fat to give three people immediate heart attacks.

The waiter came by and I asked him about it. I told him that I was expecting thinly sliced delicious beef ribs but instead I got a hoof. And I was expecting ginger soy sauce, not diluted Knorr brown gravy mix.

"Oh... you wanted the Korean Short Rib appetizer, not the watery gravy Hoof Short Rib."

"My bad."

It seemed that I would have to keep up with the jonesing for one more day. I ate and planned my attack on the multi-play deuces game, on which deuces had as yet all-time eluded me.




Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Hilarious, Pathetic, Stupid Things I Do

Sun May 21, 2017 - Day 6

Sleep is great. There's nothing like having a great day at Vegas, winning, and going to bed exhausted, and sleeping like Beauty.

I woke up Sunday morning with a bounce in my step and a spring in my linens. As I got ready for my morning plans, I put on some music that suited my mood.

My choice was a great disc we put out on Royal Flusher Records in the 60s by the incredible Dick Waxz on sax. He'd paired up with Raoul Alberta, the innovative Brasilian toy piano player. Alberta had settled in Calgary and fallen in love with its gentle sophistication, giving up his native last name of Silva and adopting the name of the province that had swept him and his tiny piano off their respective feet.

Alberta would later characterize Calgarian culture as 'Duelie Diplomacy', where the love of loud engines and extra rear tires on a gigantic pick-up truck did the asphalt samba in perfect harmony with the the city's other business, that of sucking oil money straight out of the ground.



Putting Waxz on sax in the studio with Alberta on toy piano was like mixing oil and water and getting mixed oil and water - and we called the smoky, sultry tinkling that resulted Nada Bowla.

When we released it, this iconic album (which also featured the vocal stylings of Flavio 'Lunchbox' Cajo de Almuerzo on its signature track "The Girlfriends in Impalas") kicked off the legendary Nada Bowla musical style that reigned the world's airwaves for those 9 incredible days in 1961.

It wasn't long, but it was fun, and as Dick used to say, "You gets what you can stan'".

Monday, June 19, 2017

Treasure Island Gaming Voucher, How I Love Thee



Fri May 20, 2017 - Day 5 - continued


It felt really good driving out of Red Rock having had an amazing time, with a first class marine-style workout of sixteen of my 640 muscles to 100% failure - all of them in my left foot, and right thigh.

Well, that's what it felt like. I sucked down the water, let the A/C blow over me like a benediction, and just drank in what a great day to be alive it was (notwithstanding 16 of my 640 muscles).

Before long, I reached civilization aka suburbia and just pulled into one of those car malls that you can't drive more than 26 feet in before hitting a curb, building, dumpster crib, or some other burned out sweat-drenched cheesy-crotched wanna-be hiker.

However, this car mall had something I needed - beer. Some restaurant, looked like a pub food place, good enough for my needs. I parked after making 193 turns, got out of the Asshat, popped the trunk, and stripped.

I'd brought some dry clothing with me because I knew I'd be soaked after the hike. That's a savvy wardrobe move if I ever saw one. A clean shirt... who else would ever have thought of that?!

Friday, June 16, 2017

It's the Keystone Thrust that Really Drives Them Insane

Sat May 20, 2017 - Day 5

I really like getting out of Las Vegas to see what there is to see. Some of the most memorable times have been spent hiking off to the middle of nowhere. I know that some Vegas degens will think that this means the balcony instead of the orchestra at the Celine Dion show at Caesars.

But no, I'm referring to the genuine, timeless, immortal scenery that they put up in the greater Las Vegas environs.

Three hikes were on the agenda, and it was now or never to start getting those in, because I wouldn't want to hike two days in a row.

Plan? Get up nice and early while its cool, hit Red Rock with a couple of liters of H2O, some beef jerky, and a home made compass fashioned from a sewing needle, a cork, and a glass of water.

Reality? Woke up at 8:45, hung over after a little over 6 hours sleep and wonder what the fuck I was doing. But no, I steeled myself and forged onward.

The new plan? Hit McDonalds, drive west, and see how it went.