Vegas 2014 Diary - Part 3
Before we get into more of the play-by-play details of the day, I do want to talk about one theme that was present during the trip this year. Usually, when Layup and I room together, the TV is set to ESPN for the entire 5 days - and it doesn't move. We watch repeats of SportsCenter over and over until falling asleep, and the day sometimes begins with Stephen A yelling at us.
But not this year. Every once in a while, a significant news event occurs during the Vegas trip. In 2003, everyone in this group can remember the War in Iraq starting the Wednesday before tipoff of the first round games. That led to many profanities against Dan Rather and CBS whenever they broke into coverage of the tournament.
This year, the MH370 tragedy/search/farce was omnipresent. We had the TV glued to CNN most of the time in the room for any new information on where this plane actually went. Recall that it disappeared the morning of March 8. At this point, it is now March 14 - and this was about the time where the Malaysian authorites were absolutely clueless on which "zone" in the ocean to search. And it was sometime during this trip where it was announced that the plane was still sending signals to a satellite 7 hours after takeoff.
It was horrifying and fascinating at the same time. I know this sounds crazy, but at this time - the most logical answer to "What happened to the plane?" was that it was hijacked and in Northern Afghanistan somewhere. I couldn't get enough of the rumor mongering on CNN, the "unofficial" MH370 24/7 news channel.
Anyway, this Friday was Southern Highlands day - the annual tradition of golfing at the premier course in Vegas that is always a treat. There wasn't much sleep for me again the night before, and the wake up call came around 7:30. Time for the morning Baccarat with Ana!
And this time, Ana treated me well. I was there for about an hour - and I do remember a banker run of about 7 or 8. I kept partial pressing on each win, and Ana would get concerned for me - "don't get crazy!". Ana, you want crazy? Let me introduce you to my friend Wiz.
After that session, there was only time for a shower - no breakfast! - and off to the car to play Southern Highland. We got there - and the lack of sleep, food and the Absinthe all were conspiring against me. My head pounded, and I was in no mood for any physical activity. The friendly locker room attendant - the same guy that was been there each year - offered Motrin...I took 4.
Golf was ......well, not good for the first 4-5 holes or so. Then I started to hit fairways with the no-tee approach, and some putts were dropping. The entire foursome started playing well on the 7th, with Mike hitting the flag on the approach; on 9, I hit a drive, bunt 3 wood to 135, and then a thin 9 iron that rolled up to 2 feet.
On to 10 - where I was right of the green in 2, and got up and down. On 11, the turkey burger I had didn't kick in yet, and I held my hands out on the tee box - and they were visibly shaking. Wiz said: "you too, huh?" and his were wobbly as well. The drinking and lack of sleep had caught up to all of us.
11 - a miracle chip from the right of the green to 6 feet, but I missed the putt. (I still regret that). 12 - par. 13 - routine par. 14 - bunker in 2, blast to 15 feet - made it. 15 - the hole I hate - driver, hybrid just over the green; bad chip to 20 feet but I canned the putt. 16 - 70 feet away in 2, and a nice 2 putt. 17 - the 190 par 3 - hybrid to 15 feet, par. On 18 I hit a good drive, but aimed at the creek in the center of the fairway, and found it. A double for a 39. Best nine in Vegas in a LOOOOONG time.
(Sorry for boring you with that, but it is memorable, and I had to put it down in here for reflection...)
After the snacks/pear vodka in the locker room after the round, there was no time for gambling since we had a 6:00 dinner reservation at Lavo - another tradition. We met in the lobby at 5:45 - everyone was there except for Leland. Where is he? Well, no one was exactly sure. The stories came in:
- his phone is ruined as some naked strippers at Bare threw him into the pool;
- he started drinking at 9:00 am and had already passed out for the day;
Leland was ofifically listed as "questionable" for the dinner at 5:45.
Dinner was awesome, as usual. Layup and Ira started to pound fireball shots and beer chasers; that got up to about 4 per person when the entrée came. Leland was downgraded to "doubtful" at 6:15, as we all realized there's no way for us to contact him (and vice versa) with the phone being ruined.
The conversation at the dinner table revolved around naming teams in obscure NCAA conferences. We started with the MEAC - Ira and I challenged each other in a "countdown" style. Keep naming one until you couldn't. We got to the 13th team (I took a mulligan with one accidental repeat) and couldn't name the last one - Howard. Argh!
We did it again with the SWAC - and I won that one.
Last came the mascot game - name the mascots of various NCAA college. This is where my absence from the US for 4 years really showed. I was very rusty on this - and it's clear that Ira was a specialist in the small East Coast colleges. I got him on some of the Midwestern colleges - IUPUI , anyone? - but there were several teams he named that I knew 5 years ago but simply forgot.
After the fried Oreos - I had 4, thank you - We headed back to the Mirage for the night - it was only 8:00 pm. As you can guess, Leland did not show for dinner. First stop back at the Mirage was the craps table - an open one! Three of us went on one end - I think it was Ira, Mike and I - and the other three - Wiz, Layup and Don - were on the other end. Time for Team Craps! Which team would make more points in one round around the table?
Don was not present to begin - so Layup started for the other team. 2 points made. Wiz - Zero. So it was our turn - and Mike saved the day with 2 points to my 0 and Ira's blank.
We kept waiting for Don to complete the roll for the other team - but he was nowhere to be found. Mike informed us that "dinner was not sitting well with him". Mike was going to use the public restrooms on the casino floor for the rest of the night. Wiz pinch hit, sevened out quickly, and the game was suspended at 2-2.
Then we ran over to the baccarat room. Most of us sat down - can't remember the exact people at this table - and started playing. Most of the others were jumping around - going from banker to player and back haphazardly. I seemed to always be opposite Mike - betting the other way against him - and I could catch no cards. Mike seemed to be on fire against me - a Tiger Woods at the table. I couldn't beat him! And if we did end up on the same side, it was nothing spectacular - some wins, some losses. I lost all the profit from the session with Ana from the morning.
And this is where the trip turned. We all got up, I'm just wandering around the baccarat room, when Mike says "Are you going to cash in?" I usually go to the main cage to change my chips into cash - in fact, I always go there - but Mike suggested we do it there, in the baccarat room. There is a desk in the back where you can go cash in. So I went against my normal routine and cashed in there....and then went to the Salon with Layup and Wiz......
The blackjack session was awful. Nothing went right. Carnage everywhere with the 3 of us. It go so bad that I had 2-2 vs a 7.......and, in a desperate attempt to shake things up, I decided to split.
First card received - an 8. Oh boy, here we go. Now I'm doubling (at least I have 10). I got a 5. Nice.
Next 2 - I receive another 2. I don't believe it. OK, we'll split that too and flush more money down the drain. One of the 2's busted, and for the second 2 - a 7, for a 9 total. Fine, we will double.
I ended up playing 5 units on that hand - and went 0-3-2. So much for shaking things up at the table......the losses kept mounting until I finally had enough and picked up.
It was about 1 am or so, and I should have gone to bed, but.....well,,, the baccarat table started calling again. Layup and I sat down for one more session -and it was quickly clear that we should not have. More losses as I searched in vain for Mike. "Where is he? He's unbeatable! He needs to tell he how to bet......" . At 3 am, we called it a night, and Layup and I went back upstairs where I fell asleep for about 45 minutes......