Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What's Better Then Being in Vegas for Your 30th?

Nothing!

Well, that’s not all together true. There is absolutely no one that’s going to card you at this point, and that hurts a little bit. But if that’s as bad as it gets, then you had (are having or will have) a great trip. Here’s how mine went.

Monday, 5/3/10
After working all day, and by working I mean counting the minutes until I could leave, I was relaxing at home, casually packing my bags, thinking about what we would do and how grand it would be. Josh (franchise player for team Vegas Rules) and Karrie (unrestricted free-agent on her first trip to Sin City…hoping to sign to a long-term deal) made it in from Pennsylvania and to our place a little after 8. The idea of getting up at 4 a.m. to make a flight out of Dayton by 6 would have compelled most people to take it easy, maybe have an early nightcap, and turn in early. Not this squad. We stayed up chatting like tweenage girls about what we were going to do first, second, third….32nd, whatever.

Historically, the night before a Vegas trip has a very specific ritual; pack, eat pizza, tidy up the house, watch the movie Casino, not necessarily in that order. We broke with tradition a bit eating beef stew, relaxing on the couch, and trying to teach Karrie the ins and outs of playing Blackjack. It didn’t seem to take. Lack of interest may have played a role there. No interest in Blackjack? Hmm…well that won’t get you “franchise player” status, but a long-term deal could still be on the table.

Tuesday, 5/4/10
Up with the sun. Actually, a little before the sun. Stupid nature calling. But it occurred to me as I stumbled to the bathroom that it was a little after 5, and I never heard Josh and Karrie get up. So in a panic, I tear into the spare bedroom to get them up in what would be a vain attempt to make their flight, only to realize that they were long gone, I slept through the whole thing, and I’m an idiot. Oh well.

A quick layover in Chicago led to what felt like the longest flight to Vegas I’ve ever made. I’ve flown direct, I’ve had layovers, I’ve had lousy layovers, and this one seemed to hurt the worse. The travel time is all generally, barring a major stop somewhere, but 45 minutes at the beginning then almost four hours on the second leg just sucked. I’ll have to remember that for next time out.

We arrived in Vegas and got checked in just in time to make a quick run through ‘wichcraft for a sandwich to get some juice for the rest of the evening. It was only about 4 in Vegas when we arrived, so the whole city was just getting warmed up. So a quick roast beef sandwich was the ideal rejuvenation to head across the street to kickoff the trip in a traditional fashion…a drink at Nine Fine Irishmen. I dutifully choked down a pint of Guinness, wishing I hadn’t, but knowing that it was requisite for the trip, then headed out to the casino floor to see what there was to see. And by see what there was to see, I mean gamble.

Over the course of my last trip west, I started to learn craps. Since there were no Blackjack tables that would accommodate us, why not find a table and throw some dice? Only problem was neither Pat nor Josh had a great deal of experience, if any at all, with the game. Solution to the problem? Just do what I tell you and you’ll learn on the fly. Ordinarily, this is a TERRIBLE method of gambling. But unlike other games, what you do or don’t do playing craps won’t affect anyone else’s bets. Perfect. The ladies took their leave to walk around the casino while Pat, Josh, and I settled in to play.

We played for probably 45 minutes or so, Pat and Josh trying to absorb whatever they could. Pat, God bless his Irish soul, lost just about everything he bought in for, by outkicking his coverage and making bets he didn’t understand which were all low-percentage with a high payoff. Josh won a little, making his first craps experience a positive one, particularly when he made passes on three different point numbers. I won about $75 or so, suggesting positive mojo for the rest of the trip, and discovered that playing the come line doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when you could just as easily, and more quickly make place bets. Gonna have to put that piece of knowledge to work later in the trip.

Now a choice had to be made; call it an early night and party hard tomorrow, or walk the strip, take in some sights, do some more gambling, and rely on energy drinks to party hard tomorrow? If you can’t figure out what the right choice is, you’ve never been to Vegas.

Walking the strip at sunset it a really cool time to be out. The sky fades from reddish to purplish to black, and the lights on everything surrounding you just get more and more prominent as time wears on. We made our way north walking as though we had purpose, but not really knowing where we were going. Of course, in the back of our minds, we knew we were heading for O’Shea’s, another staple of every single Vegas trip.

There are a number of reasons I like gambling at O’Shea’s. First, historically, I’ve had very good luck there. Second, they don’t have continuous shuffle machines. Third, they mix good drinks. (Sidenote: Vegas is the only place in the world where my drink of choice automatically becomes Bloody Mary’s. No idea why?) Fourth, they have a lot of Blackjack tables. Fifth, it’s cheap to play there. As I’ve always said in blogs passed, I don’t mind betting $15+ a hand, but I don’t want to have to. Ultimately, it’s just very user-friendly. So all things considered, after playing for a good solid hour, drinking their booze, buying three totally overpriced cigars, and still walking out $60 to the good, that makes a good night so far as I’m concerned. Also, this particular gambling session cemented why my stepfather is quite possibly the worst gambler I’ve ever seen. In the middle of a run of cards that was mediocre at best, mom decided she was done for the night, and gave Pat the signal that it was time to pack it in. A day of traveling will take it out of anyone. But down about $40 for the session with $60 left in front of him, upon hearing it was time to go, Pat feels it’s in his best interests to just bet the rest of what he has on the next hand. Did I mention the cards were only barely mediocre at this point? And what happens? Of course he lost. While Josh and I, the resident gamblers on scene where confused as to why he didn’t just cash out and leave, Mom was confounded by this decision and let him know about it.

We didn’t stay much longer, cashing out for a small profit. The four of us took our time walking back to MGM, which isn’t exactly close to O’Shea’s. But it gave us time to laugh and joke and talk about what we wanted to do over the rest of the trip. Also, it gave us the opportunity to stop and watch a few shows, courtesy of the Bellagio fountains as well as watch Josh pretend he wasn’t drunk as he tripped over a trash can while walking in a straight line. Good times. Tomorrow would be better.

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