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Monday, May 7, 2018

Soft Ten

I find a comfy spot in the Keno lounge, and promptly drop my drink through the cup holder.


It's kind of relaxing, in a degenerate, end of the line, 20% house edge, 4-11-44 long-shot kind of way. I actually do okay on the ticket, meaning that I get some money back. Shockingly, more than I gambled.

Penguin wrangler Dr. Raoul Shiboubou has indeed made it into town and is attacking at the Golden Gate blackjack tables, his Vegas drug of choice.

I still have some time to kill before we meet up at the Noodle House, and a few bucks, anyway, so I give them to an older Buffalo machine. It, like most machines today, ultimately, hates me, because of too many commas probably.

I get set up at the Noodle House and the little puffy crackers have just arrived when the Raoul walks through the door. I'm so happy to see him, I think I throw him off just a bit by the bear hug he gets. Penguins are notoriously unaffectionate, and I think he's used to getting the cold fin.

Menus arrive and I tell him he can have anything he wants as long as collectively our bill is as close to $50 as possible without going over. His contribution to the consumption is a giant highball - Crown maybe? I forget, but it's big, cold, brown, and deep. It's a fine match for my big brown highball that is sweating nervous condensation onto the table.

I order some calamari thing, which is probably amongst the stupidest things I've ever ordered. Why? Because there are way, way better things on the menu. Because calamari always sucks, is awful, and is tasteless. Because I don't like calamari in the first place any more than I like deep fried rubber.

These things are awful, and it doesn't help that the server helpfully chirps that it's her very favorite dish on the menu. She must have a latex fetish or something. No photo of the calimari, or the latex fetish.

The other thing I order is a great choice, and guaranteed to be a winner, Kalbi, Korean short ribs. It comes with some very good kimchi and two other kinds of salad or other.

The ribs are amazing - hot, sweet, smoky - love them.

When the bill arrives, we find we've nailed it. Forty nine bucks and change on a $50 comp.

I'm pretty much out of bankroll, but we decide to go back to the Gate and play some blackjack. Not a problem, I know where to get bankroll! I do the walk of shame for the second time today and makey typey typey for $500 please and thank you.


I try $200. Denied.

I try $100. I'm IN!!!!

Off to the Gate we go, where the music is pumping and the hot dealers are dancing.

We get set up at a table, start playing ten bucks a hand, and I find myself having about the most fun I've had all trip. It's just a blast, and on top of that, some very odd things happen at the table to keep it incredibly blog-worthy.

For about half an hour, we're playing alongside a married couple of some means, who are staying at the Nugget but goofing around at the Gate.

Now, I have some very fond memories of playing here ten, twelve years ago when the dealers were all break-ins, and the craziest shit would happen, especially on the craps table. Half the time they'd under pay you and half the time they'd over pay. The pit would yell at them or the players would. And sometimes the pit would miss the mistake, and the players would smile quietly, like the time I kept getting paid for a hard eight bet that I didn't make, and nobody else wanted. They pushed some chips in front of me and I just left them on the felt, until they made a fuss and the stick tapped in front of me to pick them up. So I did. More than once.

The dealers we get are not much better, which makes for all kinds of ridiculous mayhem by a couple of cousins who are eyeballs deep in comped liquor. Like the first one, a sweet young woman named, according to her tasteful velveteen dog collar, Tiffani-krystl Fumblechips.

This dealer rarely gets the right amount of chips down on the first try. She shorts us and goes back to add more, oops, one too many, drops two or three instead of one, drops another while gathering up the extras. In these cases, we are just patient, and fair.

On one hand, Dr. Raoul is out for a double, and Tiffani-krystl keeps the suspense going and slowly draws about seven cards to twenty-two for the bust, and goes around the table paying off the bets.

Great, everybody's won, chips are paid, our cards are scooped and she's just about to scoop her own hand when the broad beside me shouts over the music.

"Stop! Wait! You have twenty one! You didn't bust, you have twenty one!"

Holy fuck.

"Nobody pick up your bets, this hand is a misdeal," she says.

I can't believe what I'm hearing. The pit boss is there and Tiffani-krystl is explaining that she drew to twenty, blah blah blah. I look at Raoul and he looks at me.

Mrs. Loud-mouth Branson has pushed her winning chips off the betting circle, and p-whipped hubby's too.

The pit announces that it's a misdeal and if we won we can give back the chips, and if we didn't just continue on with a new hand.

Of course, there are no chips in my betting circle. And none in Dr. Raoul's. So we don't lose a thing.

It's pretty tense between the players and the Branson's last about three more hands, and fuck off to the Nugget.

We also get a new dealer. This one is named Bambi Binomial and is as confused as Ms. Fumblechips - in fact, she's even more confused.

She often stops to count the cards out one by one. Sometimes she goes to take a card from the shoe to add to her hand, thinks better of it, and slides it back in.

We are, frankly, a little obnoxious I suppose, if being half in the bag and being loud and laughing way too hard and saying stupid things, and ranking the dancing skills of the dealers up on the box is obnoxious. It's their fault anyway, they keep bringing us drinks for some reason.

My level of bullshit and brass balls reaches an all time peak when Bambi has a mitfull of Aces and smalls, for a total of soft 20, and the good Dr. and I are both sitting on losing hands.

She hesitates and looks at her cards.

"You have soft ten," I slur, counting it up. "Ace, three that's four... two, that's five... no six, and three that's nine, Ace, that's ten."

She looks at her cards, staring hard. I can tell she's really working on this.

"Sof' ten, you habba take another card, Bambi," I say, in as serious a tone as I can possibly muster.

She reaches for the shoe.

She looks at the cards. She looks at me. I nod encouragingly. She looks at Dr. Raoul. He is stone-faced, looking off into the periphery, being an innocent bystander.

She slides a card half-way out of the shoe. And hesitates.

She slides it out a bit more.

And then she calls for the pit.

He straightens her out, and of course, she stands and we lose.

"Sorry, Bambi, I'm no good at cards!" I say.

We get another dealer and this one is sharp. She knows exactly what she's doing and it's kind of refreshing.

Amber Smithsonian at work
Another half hour or so goes by and we're up, then down, up a bit, and finally I've got about half my stake left. I'm pretty tired, pretty drunk, and it's time to call it a trip.

"So long, Raoul, see if you can get this one to hit on 20," I say, and I walk out into the cool Vegas night.

On the way back to the Cal, I pass a guy selling chocolate bars from a cardboard box. They are all wrinkled up like they've been left on a dashboard in the sun.

I don't buy any, but I make a mental note - there are always options in commerce.

VP Day: -$540 - good God
Blackjack Day: -$100
Keno Day: +$20 - see, I told you!

Trip: -$1385

Remember when I wrote that I didn't know how to deal with the information of ailing friends and dying relatives as far as the trip report goes? And that it played a big part in the trip, so I felt I should?

You can see what an incredible nosedive my overall results took after the anvil fell. It's quite dramatic, and it reflects a feeling of hopelessness and desperation.

All of a sudden, things didn't seem important anymore, I didn't care about much anymore. That's not a great time to be drinklegambling, apparently. Maybe next time I will shut it down if disaster strikes.

I'm very thankful that Raoul was around. This night was an antidote to the heavy sadness that has followed me around like a dark cloud all trip. It reminds me of a few things, of what fun Vegas can be, of how much more fun it is when its shared with good people, and how important it is to live today, because even if it doesn't seem like it, joy can co-exist with sorrow. Hopefully, you can pay more attention to the joy.

    1 comment:

    1. Great report...sorry about the other situation. Peace be with you.


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