Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Run...

Sunday morning, we figured we were going to do something else that we’d never done before. We were going to have breakfast at the buffet in Bellagio. This was undiscovered country, and something that The Travel Channel will hype anytime you see something about Vegas. Make no mistake about it, it was an impressive spread and the quality of the food was pretty high. But if you were to ask me to put together a list of things to see and do in Vegas, this isn’t cracking my top 10.

Sunday was also the first time in the trip that Trina was going to have to be present for the conference (the real reason we even made it out there) and I was going to have to fly solo for a little while. Now, I’ve made this point before and I know I’ll make it again. Being by yourself in Vegas, assuming you’re not a raging alcoholic and/or have a huge bankroll, can be kind of boring. Why? Playing blackjack at a table with a bunch of strangers can be hit or miss. Maybe they know a little about the game, like to B.S. between hands, and are jovial? Maybe they’re a-holes with Forrest Gump-ian I.Q.’s who don’t care about being there? Or maybe you even feel compelled to sit at a table alone and play cards. This is maybe one of the most dangerous situations of all. Blackjack is a game of streaks. If you sit down and the table is instantly hot (unlikely to the point that I question this event ever happening) you’re fine. If the table’s cold, you getting your clock cleaned and can’t tread water long enough to wait for it to heat up. Glad I found an interest in craps.

Here’s the other key reason it’s not a whole lot of fun to be by yourself in Vegas; the people watching. People dressed at Rick James, a Storm Trooper, someone who painted himself silver and it walking around with a construction cone on his head, a 350 pounder squeezed into an extra-medium shirt with a Pomeranian on a leash who keeps introducing himself as Catwoman, and more folks on a never ending list populate the streets of Vegas. What are you going to do, make insightfully sarcastic comments to yourself?

Wild Bill’s Gambling hall is tucked on a corner opposite Caesar’s and Bellagio. Also, it’s cheap. And, is that the sound of a rowdy and happy craps table? I figured I got my legs the day before, so why not try again? Up a little, down a little, so on and so forth, and round and round it went, until a little old lady, clearly the oldest person in the building, took the dice, and proceeded to tear it up. This woman put on a clinic of how to make your points. Over and over again she threw those dice, until what must have been easily a half hour later, she finally seven-ed out. I’ve never seen a table of any kind, anywhere, ever clear out so fast. Still being novice to the game, I figured it would probably be best to take my leave as well, and so I did…about $100 to the good. That was, at least until I went back to Bellagio and got torched for $110. But what the hell, I played for almost two hours, drank the casino’s booze, had a good time, and it only cost me $10, bringing me to -$90 for the whole trip.

Trina was done with work and the conversation moved quickly to where we were going to eat dinner. Actually, it was an impressively short conversation, as we both wanted to go to Craft in MGM. Problem was, it was a busy weekend, and we had no reservations. Hmmm…worth a try? So we got there around 4:30, about a half hour before seating began just to see what our chances were. Without thinking twice, they offered us a table for two at 5:30. Well thank you very much! We’ll be back right after I walk through the shopping promenade and try on a $12,000 watch. What’s that? 30% off? Oh, so it’s only $8,400? Well that’s a steal. I’ll take two.

If the buffet at Bellagio doesn’t crack the top 10 things do to in Vegas, then by contrast, eating at Craft is probably in the top 5. I can still remember the debate I had the first time I was there; surf and turf, or beef ribs braised for 24 hours? I went surf and turf that time, so beef ribs it was. Incidentally, how low do you have cook something, anything for that matter, at to cook it for 24 hours? About 90 degrees? But now I had a new problem. How does one eat ribs in a fine dining establishment? It was a moot point really, since they had removed the bone prior to serving. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything as tender, tasty, and overall as pleasing anywhere else at any other time in my life.

Monday came too soon. Trina had to be up and going by 8:30 to be set for the conference by 9. My flight wasn’t out until a little after 11. What to do, what to do? Time to make a run…

Here’s what I’ve found to be true of runs; first, they don’t happen very often. Actually, that’s not totally true. They happen intermittently, but you usually don’t notice at the time. They don’t usually last long. They make you greedy. They make your feel invulnerable, like you can make it happen whenever you want. The key to capitalizing on runs is that you have to be able to get your money off the table and back into your pocket before you feel the need to test weather or not the run is over. By the time you do that, you’ve given it back, and maybe reached into your pocket for seconds.

There was only one craps table open at 9 a.m. on Monday morning so needless to say, it wasn’t crowded. There were only a few guys playing, and after playing at crowded tables the past few days, I was appreciative that there was elbowroom. So I put my money down, got chips, and laid some money on the pass line. Winning on the come out roll just seems to inspire good mojo. So I played on, up a little then down a little and keeping an eye on my watch so as not to screw up my travel plans.

Here’s the other thing I learned about craps; it doesn’t have to be expensive. You can just bet the table minimum on the pass or come lines, never back your bet, and keep your losses pretty minimal. If someone’s making passes over and over again, you could have your money on the pass line for several minutes pretty easily without winning or losing anything. But if you enjoy gambling, all that waiting will start to make you antsy. So you put a bet on the come line too. Then maybe you back that come point. Still nothing? Okay, so maybe you throw a place bet out there too. All of a sudden, you’ve done what I did; you have $70 in various bets out on the table before you’ve realized it and you’re hoping like all hell that a seven does come up and wipe out every single bet you have out. And, maybe like me, you backed a ten point harder then you backed an eight, and ended up kicking yourself for making that choice.

Then something really cool happened. The shooter made his ten point. So the little mathematical ballet that occurs when points are made took place, and there were more chips in front of me. All of a sudden the heavily backed ten didn’t seem so bad when it paid off at 3/2 odds. And then, why not throw an eight and pay me on my come bet? Well thank you very much. And before I could get another come bet down, sure, go ahead and throw a six and pay my place bet. Wouldn’t it figure the next roll was a seven? Lesson learned; pay attention to how much you have out on the table.

Time passed that way. Someone made a point, them a come point, won them both, then seven-ed out. I didn’t know how much I’d won. I just knew that I had more chips then when I got started, so I figured I had to be up. But time grew short, and there was a flight to catch, so I pushed everything to the middle to color up. Apparently, I paid no attention at all to what they were paying me because there were a few green chips at $25 a pop hiding under the red $5’s and white $1’s. A little quick math and the boxman pushes me two black chips (the ones that make me feel really important) for $100 each, three greens (which I’m getting more accustomed to), a red one (nothing new about those), and a white one (which generally become souvenirs). $281 for the morning, minus the $80 pounding I took the first night, minus the $80 I bought in for, minus the $1 chip souvenir, and minus $10 or so that I’m sure I lost on some stupid bet in the past few days, and I ended up a little more then $100 to the good for the trip. Works for me, now get me a cab to the airport before I do something stupid.

The ride to the airport was quiet. The driver barely spoke English, and I was all by myself. Turns out, all things considered, I don’t really like traveling alone. It’s quicker, no doubt, but just not as much fun. There was no one to talk with about the run I just had, the meal we ate the night before, the impressive features of the new City Center. There was no one to talk about what we would do the next time we made it out there. Of course, we wouldn’t have to wait long. We’d be going back again in about six weeks.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vegas, Baby!

7:03 PM  

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