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Friday, August 3, 2012

Olympic Blackjack Baseball

The cool thing about Magnolia’s, the coffee shop / generic / catch-all restaurant at the Four Queens, is that its half a flight up from the casino, giving a birds-eye view of the action. The only problem, there wasn’t any. At 6:00 am, the place was dead. But the good Lord never closes one table game without opening another one (hopefully with lower limits) and we amused ourselves while waiting for delivery of a Club (with hopefully non-dodgy bacon) Sandwich and fries, and my C.F. Steak and eggs by watching the world’s most bored blackjack dealer sleep with his eyes open.

After a while we started thinking of things we could throw onto his table to scare the crap out of him. I pointed him out to the waitress, and asked her to bring a bunch of spoons and stuff so we could start tossing things down there. We were starting to get giddy and our laughter must have activated his “someone is laughing at me” sixth sense because all of a sudden he looked up, right at me.

“WAKE UP!” I said. He grinned sleepily for a moment and then went back into his trance, one hand flipping the same chip over and around, over and around, like a rosary.

We played much of the day away, both of us feeling the edge from the upcoming competition. Our results were much like the previous day’s – minor spikes of good luck not quite eradicating the effects of the major trend of bad luck. Still, the Quad Queen managed not one, but two dealt hands of four Queens, in two different casinos.

The Clean and Jerk competition (at the $2 level) was interesting, as in I was in trouble already. We again both chose the same game, this time, the ‘Big Wheel’ in the front of Binions. This is a sucker bet. No one ever wins anything. Ever. Except my spinny wife. I put $2 on 1-1, playing carefully, and she split hers between 1-1 and 10-1. Of course, the spin came up 10-1. The score was QQ $10, RF love, or l’oeuf, or egg, or zilch.

Soon enough, it was time. I had picked out the venue – see, it’s not just a location when you’re an elite Olympic athlete, it’s a venue – I had picked out the venue for the Blackjack Baseball event with care.

“This… is where we will compete head to head for Olympic Baseball glory!” We gazed up at what looked like a casino with a stadium on top. It had fake stadium lights, and a big sign that said “World’s Most Liberal 21”. Yes, the Las Vegas Club.

Sadly, the ‘Club has seen better days, and the sports ‘theme’ seems reduced to the (sorely in need of maintenance) fa├žade, and a few spotty displays of memorabilia. It was the perfect venue for a World Class Olympic Gambling Competition.

To get into the baseball mood, we perused a display of a bunch of signed baseball bats from World Series winning teams. By turning little knobs on the outside of the display, you could rotate the bats and read all the names.

“Check this – Spider Jorgensen, Bobo Newsom, Duke (!) Snider, Dusty Rhodes, Peewee Reese, Granny Hamner, Jocko Thompson, Buzz Weirs, Whitey Ford…baseball players have the best nicknames,” I said.

I insisted that from then on, we should each have a baseball nickname.

“Okay, you look like a Bobo,” said Q-squared.

“Have it your way, Dusty,” I countered.

I was a little concerned about screwing around in the blackjack pit and, as Joe Pesci would put it, bringing heat on us, but it was a quiet afternoon in the Las Vegas Club. Actually, I think every afternoon is quiet there these days. Every evening too.

We sauntered up to a $5 table, having agreed that I’d go first. I bought in and confirmed with our surly-looking Chinese dealer (named David) that I could use my strategy card. (David grunted his consent.)

“Maybe you can even help me,” I suggested. I was pulling out all the stops and was ready to kick some Olympic sized ass to win my first gold medal.

David moved his head a bunch of different directions, left, up, down, right, left, up. He grunted. I was pretty sure this meant that he would be willing to help me in every way possible.

The rules were simple. Win a hand, its a single. A win on a double, where you double your bet but take only one more card, was (you guessed it) a double. And a blackjack was a home run. Any loss was an out. We’d play three ‘innings’ of three outs each. Highest score wins.

I hummed ‘Take me out to the ball game’ and tossed a red $5 chip into the betting circle, while Mrs. F prepared to keep score.

David dealt the cards and immediately the pit boss was all over us like a Cleopatra’s Barge hooker. Only not in that Barge hooker ‘good’ way. Our first hand of Olympic BJ baseball and we were drawing heat?

“If you wanna write something you can’t use the table.”

We looked up at the pit boss like two kids caught in the basement, trying out mom’s makeup.

“You can’t write on the table, it’s a Gaming Control rule. It’s the law,” he explained.

I was just about to tell this trumped up, cheap suit, self-important pit phony to “take it easy”, but unfortunately, before I could act, my better half caved to his oppressive diatribe.

“I’ll stand up,” she said, relieving me of the burden of dressing down the pit boss. While this was going down, I had won the first hand and had a man on first already. Flusher’s No Mess with Streak Rule #1 states: never mess with a streak. And I was starting a beauty.

Or so I thought. Next hand, I busted, so it was man on first, one out. I won the next hand with 21 to the dealer’s 20 and followed that with a home run blackjack. I was hitting the ball like crazy and had 3 runs already! I could practically taste the Olympic gold medal (which, in my mind, tasted sort of dirty and metallic, and made my old fillings buzz.)

Feeling over-confident, I stupidly hit a 12 against the dealers 6. This was against the wisdom of ‘the card’ and I hung my head in self shaming disgust. The last thing I needed was anti-strategy-card mojo.

“That’s two out now, jot it down. You can’t write on the table… it’s law,” I admonished. The best way to counter guilt is to dish out some admonishments.

I stood on a nice looking hand of 19 while David dealt card after card onto his hand. All threes, fours and fives it seemed. Would he never stop?

“YES!” I shouted, “Dealer BUSTS”. I raised my arms in triumph.
David reached over and snatched up my $5 chip.

“21.” mumbled David, who seemed to be enjoying throwing strikeouts from the mound. I was getting annoyed at him.

“21? Are you sure? That looks like an awful lot of cards to me. How can it only be 21?” I whined.
The ump was having none of it and the inning was over. I settled back into the top of my lineup. I wanted to double and asked David where to put the chip.

“Ay bye Ay.”

I decided to just grunt at him in response.

“Ay bye Ay…” He pointed at the felt, next to the betting circle. Now I understood – side by side.
Inning number two wore on, in which I hit a double, lost a double, lost, and lost. No runs scored in the inning and I was growing concerned. For some reason, it was vitally important that I crush the love of my life at ersatz Olympic baseball. It’s a guy thing.

The third and final inning started and my bat was sizzling. I made a mental note not to buy such tight underwear. In any case, I loaded up the bases. Then I fanned for the first out. And fanned some more for the second out.

David dealt himself an Ace against my 20 and mumbled something, probably something really important. I’ve thought this over, reviewed the handwritten (but not on the table, it’s against the law) notes, studied the digital audio recordings, and have reached my conclusion. David had said, and I quote, “EEHYOUGHAHH?”

He repeated the elegant phrase, no doubt of a long lost dialect from his homeland casinos. I smiled at him and looked at my watch and looked at the QQ.

“EEHYOUGHAHH?” He tapped the table… on the word ‘Insurance’.

Clearly, in the advanced civilization of world-renowned dealers of which David is a part, eehoughahh, roughly translated, means ‘insurance’.

“No thanks, David.” I had read somewhere that you should never take eehoughahh.

I did manage a couple of singles before striking out to end my part of the competition.

“Way to swing, Bobo, you scored five runs,” Mrs. F said with a smug smile, after tallying my score. Damn! I was already rehearsing the excuses I’d use later to avoid losing too much face to the QQueen.

And now she was up. First inning, three up, three down. I would have been ecstatic if it weren’t for the fact that she’d lost $15 in 48 seconds flat. The second inning was almost as quick – she scored only one run, stranding men on second and third.

“Swing battah battah battah! Three up, three down!” I chattered in her ear, trying to throw her timing off. Baseball is largely a psychological game, at least, at the Vegas Olympic level of competition. And I was sitting pretty with a 5-1 lead.

First hand of the last inning – Home Run, with a blackjack. Mrs. F immediately put a man on first, and followed up with another natural. That was three runs scored in the inning, with only one out. My ersatz baseball manhood felt like it had just been dunked in a tub of ice water.

David flipped the cards out with precision and uttered another key (but unintelligible to us Las Vegas inhabitants) word from his home planet of Dealeranus. It had something to do with the fact that he’d laid a Jack-Ace combo out for my opponent – another homer. The score was 5-4.

“Dusty, should I start making up some rules for blackjack baseball overtime?” I asked.
“Never mind that – I only have one out.”

Next hand, she was dealt a sweet 20. It was not looking good. I mentally gazed over the precipice of loser-cliff-dom in which the loser is hurled off the loser-cliff. I gazed really intently, cause I was sure I was about to be tossed over the edge.

“21” said David. He’d out drawn her, and snatched up her chip like an unintelligible card-dealing alien squirrel grabbing a nut. Two out, and I was praying for at least overtime and plotting how I could skew the rules to favor The Flusher.

Win. Another win. Another win and the bases were loaded. The ersatz manhood bath thingy was starting to freeze solid around my ersatz baseball manhood.

And all of a sudden, it was over. The third out was dealt and the final score was Royal Flusher 5 runs. Ice Queen… 4 runs.

I graciously accepted a kiss (from my wife, not David) and begrudgingly threw down a toke. The endless (minutes of) training, the sacrifices I’d made (making up the rules), the grueling competition (15 minutes, some sitting, some standing) had all been paid back with the ultimate dividend.

I had my very first Vegas Olympic Gold Medal. I was experiencing Olympic Glory and it felt, well, glorious. I’d avoided loser-cliff-dom, and my ego bath was very, very warm. I felt a bit bad about how seriously I’d taken this event and had wanted to annihilate my lovely competition, so I graciously accepted the accolades showered on me by Mrs. F, and then responded in kind.
“In. Your. Face! Yes! Gold Medal Flusher!!! WOOOT!”

The Flusher is not only a gracious loser, he is a gracious winner.

The Score
Dealt hands of QQQQ: QQ 2
$200 ass-kickings at craps table: RF 1
Wonderful All-Important Las Vegas Olympic Gold Medals: QQ 1, RF 1
Club (with dodgy bacon) Sandwiches: two
Dollars from Day’s Gambling Stake Left Over: QQ zero, RF zero
Casino Asskickings: 2
Clean and Jerk Standings QQ ($2 Big wheel): $10 RF ($2 Big wheel): $0

    1 comment:

    1. "I had read somewhere that you should never take eehoughahh." I'm still laughing! Brilliant Flusher.


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