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Monday, August 6, 2012

Dressage Redux -or- A Dinger at the El Cortez

Our morning play saw some lackluster Jacks results, some luster Bonus Poker results (both of us getting four Queens), and some super-luster BP Deluxe results with me hitting a $100 quad.

We talked about our plans over breakfast at the Golden Gate - steak and eggs for the Quad Queen and country fried steak and eggs for me. A country fried steak is like a piece of fried chicken without the chicken but with a big-ass hamburger patty stuffed into the coating, and then sensuously smothered in a pint or so of luke-warm gooey paste known as country gravy, which is not from the country, and surely is not gravy. But when you read the blurb in the menu and try to imagine the ‘mouth feel’ of the proffered dish, country paste doesn’t cut it, now does it.

First things first – we had to take care of unfinished business from the day before. After we busted out at the MGM Green we decided to low-ball the dressage tournament and hold it at the ElCo.

The Keno ‘lounge’ at the El Cortez is wonderful. A counter runs across front of the area and features a number of cashier stations. Behind that is another higher counter, and centered prominently is the air-blown cage o’ balls for determining the outcome. The walls are homey, decked out in nicotine-caked basement-style rec-room wall paneling.

The seating area lovingly coddles you with your choice of accommodation in one of four or five rows of custom Keno-playing armchairs reminiscent of school desks. Each features an ‘arm’ with a drink holder and ashtray, and tons of Keno supplies – newsprint game slips, payout brochures, and blunt-nosed broken black crayons. The best part – half is non-smoking, and half is smoking. The ambient air currents naturally carry the blue haze from the smoking directly into the non-smoking half.

This, was a venue suitable of our very classy Dressage event. The rules were simple. Each of us would purchase one 20-spot keno ticket, good for ten games at a dollar a throw. We would have to festoon our ticket with numbers so chosen as to sketch the outline of a horse. Winner was whoever won the most. A tie would be decided by whoever had the most numbers match on the non-paying games. If you’ve ever played keno, you know that most of the games wouldn’t pay horse puckey.

I created a carefully concocted front-on view of a horses head, eyes blazing in anticipation of the race, mane flowing down its curry-combed, glossy hide.

“Yours looks like a dog,” the Equestrian Queen said.

“Nonsense, it’s a perfect rendition of a winning steed. Let me see yours.” I laughed. The EQs looked like a 3rd graders ‘stickman’ horse. “That doesn’t look like a horse at all. You’re gonna lose.”

We trotted up to the cashier, and held forth our Olympic entries.

I pointed to the EQs entry. “What do you think this looks like?”

The cashier on duty peered at it. “It’s a horse. A picture of a horse.”

Not to be outdone I jabbed at my own entry. “What about this one? What does it look like?”

“Uhh. Umm… that looks like nothin’ much. I don’t know what it is.”

“It’s a horse. It’s the head of a horse, can’t you see that? C’mon, it’s clearly a horse’s head!”

I heard someone say, “Looks like a horse’s ass.”

We retired to our seats to eagerly await the riveting dressage action. I could just imagine our mounts jumping over numbered fences and across numbered ponds.

Game 1: we each had 3 numbers hit – worth nothing. Game 2: I had 4 numbers hit and the EQ had 1 – still worth nothing. Game 3: EQ 3, RF 2 – nothing

We were off to a slow start. It took five matching numbers to win anything on the tickets we’d bought. Then on Game 4, I matched five to pull ahead. Game 4: EQ 4 RF 5 ($1) Game 5: EQ 3 RF 2 – nothing

This was about as thrilling as watching dressage horse poop steam in the sun. In fact, we were parched. So, we moved to the nearby bar.

The east bar at the ElCo is the kind of bar where you can listen to the bartender argue for 45 minutes with somebody whether it is ‘Brazil’, or ‘Brasil’. We fired up our bartop video poker games and ordered. We could do shots, play VP, and still see the keno game. After all, it was 20 minutes past our normal drinking start time of ten AM.

On Game 6, I pulled further ahead with another $1 win. Game 6: EQ 3 RF 5 ($1)

We prepped for Game 7 with another round of whiskey. Game 7: EQ 3 RF 2

I popped another dollar on Game 8 and was really putting some distance between me and the competition. It was $3 to zero for me. My steed was dressaging like a bastard! Game 8: EQ 3 RF 5 ($1)

At Game 9 it began to get really interesting as the EQ’s numbers started to roll in. She finished with 6 in all, a hefty win of $4 – enough to put her in the lead for the gold.

Game 9: EQ 6 ($4) RF 4

Game 10 – the final game. Although I don’t believe in drinking and riding, this clearly called for another shot each. We ordered, and watched the keno balls get spun around in their globe, and sucked into history in the selection tube. Balls have never had so much fun.

As the numbers got called, I had a match, then another. Then the EQ hit one. And I hit one. And so it went. With a few numbers to go, we were both in the money with five numbers each – a $1 win.

We were down to the wire, our horses neck in neck as we sloshed around on our bar stools. The final number was called and…. it matched one of the eyes on my dog. I mean on my horse. That was a $4 win for me and another Olympic Gold Medal!

Game 10: EQ 5 ($1) RF 6 ($4)

Final standings: EQ ($5) RF ($7) and a gold medal. (Careful observers will notice that we each bought in for $10. Plus whatever we lost in the bartop machines. But hey, the drinks were FREE.)

One of the coolest Olympic events is the decathlon, where competitors partake in ten different activities involving running, jumping, or throwing shit. Our version would be even more of a test – we’d play ten different slot machines at ten different denominations with the winner being (can you possibly guess?) whoever won the most.

We’d start the competition soon, but first we had some meat winning to do at the Fitz. The T-bone Temptress was down to 10 credits and dealt three Aces. She had me do the honors and I pressed the button to reveal the fourth Ace for $100 and a free steak dinner.

These machines are a lot of fun. Real video poker pros shun them because they are slow and the buttons stick. And when you cash out, they dump actual coins into the hoppers, old-school. No ticket-in-ticket-out nonsense here. They remind of us the old days when we were first beginning our gambling careers.

And like the old days, they jam when you try to cash out. I called a slot tech over to fix my jammed machine so I could get my coins. He opened the machine up, exposing its filthy innards which contained decades of lint, coins scattered here and there of various vintages, denominations, and countries.

Quickly locating the cause of the jam using his extreme high-tech toolkit (ball point pen), the machine resumed spitting out quarters when something happened that I’ve never seen before. The machine started beeping to high-heaven, lights were flashing, the screen was screening, buzzers going – it was pandemonium.

I looked on the screen and it flashed the following in huge letters: “WARNING!!! EXTRA-COIN ALARM”. Apparently, giving the poor grinders an extra quarter is akin to an impending nuclear attack, and warrants full-scale counter-measures.

Having finally cashed in my bucket of quarters (including 1 extra – woohoo!), we strolled down to the ElCo and tried a few hands of dollar VP, visiting a machine where Queenus Emeritus had won last trip. I decided to go for it as well, plopping down next to her.

Hand after hand of nothing. I mean, once in a while its nice to be dealt a paying pair or something, and the machine gives a little ‘ding’ to tell you to hold the pair, and you can even hope to maybe build on it.

“How are you doing, I’m about even,” said the Flying Flusherita.

“I’m doing crap. Haven’t won anything, haven’t even had a dinger!”

Just then I started a new hand and was dealt a paying pair. DING!

“Hey, I got a dinger!” I said, giggling. “I’m not sure I want one now.” It sounded like something else entirely.

“You got a dinger at the ElCo… you got a dinger at the ElCo,” she teased.

The arrival of drinks, and the departure of my buy-in signaled that it was a good time to start the Decathlon.

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