Jun 1, 2015

2015 Vegas Diary - Part 6

Yes, yes, I know...2 months between parts. Let's try to knock the last day out with the final part of the diary. As per a usual Sunday, some great stories on the quietest day of the trip.

Sunday, Feb 8

Finally got some sleep and I think I woke up around 9 or so. The best night's sleep of the trip. I think we had the champagne brunch - I'm starting to believe that mimosas are highly overrated - and then the three of us (Wiz, Layup and I) headed to the UTH table. I think Don and Mike golfed this morning.

The morning UTH session was not going well. First, as I mentioned before, management of the TVs sucked at the tables. It's 10 am on Sunday - we have some wagers riding on the early round action at Torrey - and what's on TV? BeIN sports showing some 3rd-level European league game. If not soccer, then some women's swimming on CBS Sports Network.

And trying to get the pit boss to change is like an Act of God. They don't know how to work the remote, and apparently there's only 3 stations on the "standard" network they get. We were a bit testy with the pit boss as we pleaded/demanded him to change the channel. This went on for about 30-45 minutes. The TV never changed....and the pit boss was starting to dislike us.

Anyway, the session was not very good to me. Almost immediately I started losing, and never got back to even. I was betting greens - and I was slowly, slowly, slowly going downhill. Then a guy sat beside me and Wiz (Layup was to my right) and started talking to me. I wasn't in that good of a mood, but he seemed nice, so we started talking a bit.....

So it's now about 11:30 or so, I may a bit buzzed, and the stranger is talking about Royals at the UTH table - he saw one just earlier at Let It Ride. I then told him our story of the Royal at UTH..... I just folded a hand, so I didn't have any chips in play - so I turned to him and started talking about the time - 6 years ago?- where the dealer put a Royal on the flop. No money for us -since we didn't play the trips!

As I was telling this story,the previous hand ended and the delaer was starting a new hand. I took my stacks of chips, put one on the blind, one on the ante, wasn't paying attention, and kept telling my story. Someone won $750 on the trips - good for him!

There was a slight pause in the conversation and I heard Wiz in the background say "cmon, cmon, deal the cards!" What the F was his problem?

I finished the story - I don't think I had a final point - then looked down at my spot. The dealer had already started dealing - I had 1 card, and three other spots had cards..... and I see that there were blacks in my spot instead of greens.

Huh???? Oh shit.... oh no no no no. "Wait, wait, wait!" I asked the dealer.  He paused.

"I didn't mean to do this--- I've been betting $25's all morning!" I said. This was a mistake. I picked up the wrong stack! "I didn't look at any cards...can I change the bet?"

The dealer thought, and then pulled the pit boss over. Oh no....the one we have been harassing about the TV....

"Boss, he's been playing greens all morning, now he says the blacks are a mistake. Can he change the bet?"

The pit boss thought for about maybe 3 seconds. "Cards have been dealt...the wager stays. Play on".

Oh dear. Please let me get out of this with minimal damage.

The cards are dealt..... first card is an 8....the second card.....another 8. A pair.

Oh shit, as Layup and Wiz starts laughing hysterically. "You have to go 4 times!!!!" I do, don't I.....ok, 4 blacks go in the circle....

Flop comes...something random like K-10-2. No eights.
Last two cards......K-5.

Dealer flips over his cards, and realizes what's going on, so he does it very slowly. First card is a 5 - so he has two pair, like me, but his is lower.
Second card - exposes just a bit, like baccarat ---- finally shows a 3. No harm. My Kings and 8's beat his Kings and 5's. Winner!

I let out a scream of relief. Tipped the dealer, tried to tip the pit boss as a nice gesture, but he was not allowed to accept any from me.  Got out of there about even with that win.

Afternoon consisted of a massage at the spa - all 3 of us were in there, and we were waiting for our massages and relaxing watching the end of the Farmers. We all had money against Clemson's own Lucas Glover, and he missed a 2 footer on 17 for par to seal the win. Yes! A loud scream (mine was the loudest) emanated from the spa to the chagrin of the rest of the customers.

There was a four way playoff - Day, Stallings, Holmes and English - and the three of us took sides in the playoff....I took Stallings as a lark, and that was $50 down the drain. Not much better than betting on multiple-man playoffs on the PGA tour.

Dinner was at Japonais that night - the sushi, as always, was wonderful, and the final dinner with the entire group was bittersweet. I'd have that sushi sampler plate every week if I could.

We had one final run to the craps table. We all fit on one side, and I think the order was Layup, Don, Mike, me and Wiz. Things were going ok for a while at the table...lot of strange people on the other side, but nothing stood out until we saw $100 hard ways coming up in the middle of the table.

We all noticed about the same time - there was an old white guy - about 6'1", 250 pounds, about 60 years old in a white buttoned down shirt and jeans with a John Deere hat on. He was obviously drunk. Next to him was a black guy - about 30 or so years old - and it wasn't clear if he was with him or not, but he was giving the John Deere guy some advice. The $100 bets were coming from John Deere. Most did not win.....but every once in a while he did win - and when he did, he said nothing.

The bets started increasing - $200, $300 on the hard ways, $1000 on the field. The field seem to be winning for him. The dice passed to Layup - and he did not vary from his usual results: maybe 4 rolls and out. Thanks a lot. John Deere was not happy.

The dice passed to Don. John Deere now had $1000 consistently on the field. Don started rolling well - made a point and was hitting some numbers. Everyone on our side * was making some money. Then we were all rendered speechless....

"$500 on boxcars" came the bet from the other side.

Don rolled a 9. "Dammit".

"Do it again - $500 on 12". The purple chip was tossed.

Don rolls........a 12. I can't believe it. No one can. A $15,000 winner.

John Deere said nothing. The dealers - who seemed to know him and were pissed off - quickly paid him in 3 orange $5000 chips.

Two rolls later, the same bet returns. "$500 on 12". Don rolls a 4.

"God dammit, you suck!" And he was serious!

All of us were winning money, but we couldn't take our eyes off the car crash of John Deere throwing $500 chips around. He started putting $5000 on the field, and hit the double a few times, making all the workers pissed off. We picked up shortly after and headed to a new table.

(* - Don did not make any money on his roll; not sure why not. He was not betting big and did not change his betting style as he was rolling better and better. Thanks for taking one for the team, Don!)

Of course, Wiz, Layup and I found our way over to the Salon. We entered - and the room was blaring the music from the Grammys. It was about 9:30, 10:00 pm - when the West coast coverage of the Grammys was broadcast on CBS. There were 4 people sitting in the seats - not playing - near the TVs in the high limit salon; they were enjoying the telecast and they were the ones that asked for the volume to be set on "aircraft carrier".

For whatever reason, we sat down.

"CAN YOU TURN THE VOLUME DOWN???" we asked the dealers and the pit boss. The answer was no. Those special guests asked for it - and so it was.

We never found out who those people were - and I can't believe we were stupid enough to play. That was a quick beatdown.

OK, one last UTH session for the night. We head out there, sit down and join Don and Mike, and play for a while. After about 20-30 minutes, Wiz starts looking over at the craps table.

"He's still there! What an asshole!" He's talking about John Deere, of course. "I gotta do something about this".

Wiz gets up, and heads over to the craps table. I'm not sure what he said or did, but then we look - and John Deere has picked up and moved to another craps table, away from Wiz ----- and there goes Wiz, picking up and following him. This went on for about 10 minutes - with John Deere finally arriving at an empty craps table and the limit going to $100.

Wiz returned, defeat. "he's a dick. Afraid of me". "He's like the white rabbit - we're all chasing him but we can't catch him".

We went to bed that night - saw the John Deere white rabbit playing $10 blackjack at the CSM table.

Layup left extremely early on Monday - like at 4 am; he needed to be back in CA by 9 am or so. He was thinking about leaving on Sunday morning after his good fortune on Saturday, but we all knew that wasn't going to happen. Wiz left about 5, and Don, Mike and I weren't going to leave until 6:30 - so I had an hour to myself at the craps table for one last run; the final roll was a good one for me as I left with a profit for that final session.

Another great trips is in the books; next year we hope to have a full complement of people (especially from the Golf Side Pool) with Leland and others (like Mr. Chik-Fil-A and a celebration from someone returning from China); I'm sure we will all vote to go in March again and avoid February. See you in 2016!


Apr 3, 2015

2015 Vegas Diary - Part 5

Well, this is the problem with waiting too long to do the diary and not taking good enough notes. I forgot that Wiz was not involved at all in the Friday night/Sat morning gambling; he went upstairs with us after the BLT dinner at 6:30 pm or so and slept - and slept straight through until the next morning. I think it was a 13-hour sleep for Wiz. That has to be a record.

I also didn't blog about my UTH session at 4 in the morning, by myself, with 2 Welsh concrete salesman that were completely plastered. There was a Concrete convention going on at the Mirage this week - these guys flew all the way over from Wales to attend. They hit some nice trips while being at the table with Ruth and I for about 30 minutes.

Anyway, on to Saturday.....

Saturday, Feb 7, 2:00 pm

Got up from my nap/sleep - maybe slept a good 2 hours or so - and found Wiz and Layup at their usual position, the UTH table. Not sure where Don/Mike were (nap? Spa?).

As soon as I arrived at the table, Wiz starts laughing and trying to tell a story about Layup. Our pal Dan, the pit boss, soon joined in.

"You won't believe what happened! Layup got into a fight!"

What? I looked a Layup...he rolled his eyes.

Dan started talking. "Yes! He stared down this Texas guy and made him back down!"

I will get this all wrong, but apparently what happened while I was napping is that Wiz, Layup and this texas guy were playing UTH; Layup folded and was out of the hand...but still was trying to force Wiz into losing. Wiz had a flush with 4 on the board; the Texas guy congratulated him on the winner....until the dealer turned a higher card over and beat him.

Wiz is pissed, but then I think Layup started to mouth off ("that's why you don't celebrate") and the Texas guys said something about the trips; Layup may have said "why don't you leave" and then the Texas guy stood up and went around Wiz to confront Layup.

I guess those two stood eye-to-eye for a few seconds before Dan came over; I'm not sure what exactly happened after that and how the Texas guy backed down....but he did pick up and head over to the other UTH table to play.

I was surprised and a bit in shock. When did this happen?

"20 minutes ago. Cmon, you going to join us?"

Sure. Should I sit here? Is this the Texas guy's seat?

"Yeah - that's where he sit. Sit down!"

I did, and the seat was cursed. A bad session.

Dan made up this "prize" for Layup for winning the Saturday afternoon Prize fight.

We headed over to the Salon - too early, I objected, but was quickly overruled - for some blackjack. It was going fairly well for me and Layup - Wiz was getting hammered - when I got a 2, 2 vs a 4.

of course, we are splitting.

Next card is a 2.....here we go....We've seen this happen on previous trip....

Next card is a 7; do you double 9 vs a 4? "Hell yes, put the money out" said a desperate-for-entertainment Wiz.

I got a face on that. Nice.

The next card - for the second 2 - was another 2. Great.

Eventually, I had 4 hands out there, 2 of which were doubled.

The dealer.....busts! Whew!

Wiz's luck never turned; as Layup and I were both winning, he couldn't catch a hand and had to tap out in the middle of a shoe. Horrible manners.

Layup and I went to baccarat - the luck did not continue there - and then the three of us headed to craps. I think Don & Mike joined us there for some late afternoon rolling. Layup's main side bet is the "All or Nothing at all" - I think I've explained that before. He has not hit one yet on this trip; a $5 wager pays $825.

The table was going very well - we were all making money; Layup still can't roll, by the way - and after the three of us rolled, the dice went to the other side of the table. Layup's eyes were yellow and he had to go. "I'll be right back" he said.......

The new roller - first roll ---- 12... NExt....2 . Wiz and I both looked at each other and laughed.

When Layup came back to the table, 6 or 7 numbers were covered - all I needed was a 3 for an all small; the 9 and 11 were missing. It took Layup about 3-4 rolls to see what was going on. The reaction was classic.

"Hey Eric, you almost have your all small!.......wait.......Where's my $5........oh SHIT"

The roller hits the 3 to win me money..... and hit the 9. Now only the 11 stood in the way of the all or nothing at all...which Layup had no money on. Thankfully, he did not roll the 11. The suspense was useful for about 10 minutes of pure laughter at Layup.

Dinner that night was at Mesa grill, where I had 3 drinks in front of me at all times - a Pepsi to keep me awake, water for hydration, and the great wine that Don/Mike always pick. (or is it just Mike?). I always pick the wrong entrée there - I was happy with my ribeye, but should have chosen the filet. Oh well. And apparently I coughed on my hand at the dinner table to cause some commotion.

The five of us headed back to the Mirage and decided to take over a baccarat table. We were all having fun - choosing sides and such - when Don/Mike/I decided to associate each hand with a golf hole. I double bogeyed the hole I drove and was quickly replaced. After a while, Layup became the handler and got on a birdie train - he was picking winners consistently. Don/Mike/I finished up a course in Cincinnati (Sharon Woods) and quickly changed to Augusta.

"Here's the rookie on the first tee at Augusta" (as Layup looks at his cards while Wiz heckles)

Layup gives us a nod - "oh, it's piped down the fairway!". Now his approach ---- as he turns over his 9-K - "it's stiffed! 2 feet! What a start!"

Layup was on player (we all copied) and won 5, 6, 7 in a row. "He's 3 under at his debut at Augusta!"
Then the bad news. The cut card came out. "Last hand". Really? Now?

Layup picked player, again, and it won again. 8 in a row! But now what? Do you wait for the shuffle to continue the streak? Do you just call it quits as the streak can't continue across shoes? We had no idea what superstitious baccarat players would do. Everyone looked at me. "This never happened in Macau to me!"

I am still puzzled on what the protocol should be. Layup wanted to stay to continue his streak at the table- but then realized it would be 10-15 minutes before another hand was dealt. So we picked up.

Oh! I forgot! All of us were on player - except for one person in our party of German descent - Mike. He went through that streak stubbornly waiting for the banker run to happen - and it never did. Sorry for your luck!

And - one more thing! - Columbus was on back-to-backs; they were at Ottawa after the win vs. St Louis. The Blue Jackets were never in doubt and brought home another winner... a 3-0 streak for America's favorite hockey team during this trip.

After the Salon, I have us finding an empty craps table (with disasterous results), Wiz/Layup/I going back to the Salon (where I was up a bit), and then a Pai Gow session with John the dealer.....Id' say in 20 minutes I played 5 hands. That is not an exaggeration. Of course, the night ended with one more trip to Baccarat, which was a small win.

Overall, a great Saturday at the Mirage - depending on when you defined the gambling day to begin.


Mar 16, 2015

2015 Vegas Diary - Part 4

Friday, February 6, 10:45 pm

I woke up - how long did I sleep? It was about 3, 3 1/2 hours. Now it's about 11 pm on a Friday - I felt like a sophomore in college - napping before going out on a Friday night. I tried to go back to bed...no luck. Time for Friday night - or a new day, Saturday - to begin.

My notes in my diary are extremely unclear for the next 18 hours or so - I will try to piece them all together. I think I met the group at - where else? - the UTH table. We had about a 2 or 3 hour session with Ruth - she was a constant during this trip - and I have this as a slow burn of a session. Nothing happened, and a slow and steady loss.

Don and Mike went upstairs for the night - so I think it was just the three of us. Of course, you can guess where we were headed to....we couldn't find a blackjack table in the salon, so it was over to Baccarat. I'm not exactly sure what happened here, but it was a great session! The best one of the trip; I think we caught a choppy deck where 8-10 hands just alternated back and forth from the player to the banker. We caught it at the right time and played the trend and made money.

My notes now say that Wiz went upstairs - it was about 3 am - but the next session for me (and Layup) was the salon - so it's not like Wiz to pass up a blackjack session. He must have been sick. Anyway, Wiz wasn't there, and that was good luck for both of us; Layup made a lot while I did fairly well. I think we drank Hot chocolate and Baileys for the whole session.

It was now about 4 am. Layup was done for the night and he headed upstairs. I felt awake and energized from the 3 hour nap - it's like I live in China all over again! What to do now? I don't even have to make a Walgreens run! There was only one choice - craps!

I found an empty $10 table with the morning shift crew on it - everybody knows these guys, the surly dealers from Kentucky and Texas....started playing about 4:30, 5:00 am and drinking the same Hot Chocolate and Baileys drink. I wasn't doing that well for the first hour - just hanging around, losing a bit with 2 or 3 others at the table.

Around 6 am or so, a 21-year old man came up to the other side of the table. He was drunk, but not trashed. He's one of those guys we see every Vegas trip - stereotypical newbie gambler that is curious about the games....of course he put $100 down on the craps table.

He survived the first 20-30 minutes or so; I then rolled and got hot; I rolled about 5 sevens in a row on the comeout - no biggie for me, but for him, who bet $10 pass line, no odds, and maybe one number, it was awesome!!. I then went ahead and rolled another all small - my 3rd hit on the trip. Won a lot and it got the table fired up a bit.

The dice finally went over to the young guy, who then started to get hot himself. The whole table was winning money - except the roller, of course, who may have hit just 2 points but hit all sorts of numbers. He hit a few hard 10's for me when I had money on it; I just had to throw $6 into the middle.

"$5 hard 10 for the shooter, $1 for the dealers".

The roller didn't hear me; four rolls later, he rolled the 5-5. Yes! The dealer slid $35 to the shooter. He was confused; the dealers told him it was from me.

"Great! Thank you sir! Thanks!"

Uh, ok. I don't like the sir part, but whatever.

The table started filling up; an old man was to my left. The young guy finally sevened out; the dice came to me a bit later. I started rolling well again, hitting a couple of points and winning everyone money. The old guy was happy (he bought in for $2 grand or so), and gave me a high five.

"Nice roll, son. Keep it going" he said in his best Sparky Anderson accent.

It was like one big happy family - and I was in the sandwich generation. Being called sir and son in the same session.

The table turned cold around 7 or so, and I picked up and left. I went into the sportsbook to look around - found a Chelsea fan who looked desperate for any sort of conversation; by fate I had my Everton shirt on. He started chatting about the EPL and the games that were just going off....I tried my best to humor him but I was way out of my league.

Put $100 on Everton to beat Liverpool at +280. Now what? It was 7:30 am; what to do? I wasn't tired; I wasn't hungry; exercise? hell no.... I walked around and found myself back at the same craps table, at the same position on the table.

The second time around was just as good as the first. I almost pulled off the unheard-off "encore" roll with the all small. I was betting the all small, and no one else was playing that bet. I rolled - again, it was a good roll - and I rolled the 2 to win it. 35-1! The all small/tall/all bets had nothing in them; I was still rolling with a point of 9.

Can I put $5 back on the all small?

The dealer paused for a moment. "I don't see why not. Sure! Send it in....". I threw the chip in.

Next roll was a 2...and off we go.

I rolled everything else but the 3 before I sevened out....which meant I was one roll away from rolling 2 all smalls in a row before a 7. The session was wonderful again; I was at the table rolling and high fiving everyone when Layup and Wiz came down from their sleep/nap. To their credit, they did not jump and stayed away. I knew where to find them.

The great session ended, and it was 8:30 or so. Now it was time to eat - I found them and then the question was - where to get breakfast?

"How about White Castle across the street?" For those that did not know - and I didn't - a White Castle opened up in the Casino Royale.

Um......wow...... ok........

I did feel a little pathetic eating steamed sliders at 9 in the morning in a 3/4 empty restaurant. It was $8.99 for 4 sliders, fries and a drink. However, it was good eats.

We went back to the UTH table around 10 am, and the White Castle burgers did not bring us luck. I hit the wall, and around 11 am I went upstairs to nap/sleep/crash.

Little did I know what was going on at the UTH table while I slept......


Mar 9, 2015

2015 Vegas Diary - Part 3

Friday, February 6

Up again around 7:30 - a good 4 hours of sleep for the night. Today is a big day - it's Red Rock Bowling Day! There was a big debate about golf during the whole 3 month build-up to the trip. I finally made peace with the fact that golf - in February - was not worth the effort of lugging the clubs out there for one round; pair that with the fact that this would be the first round of the year and unknowns about the weather....I decided not to bring the clubs.

But bowling - of course! That would be the athletic event for the trip for all 5 of us. This would be the third year of bowling - and it's clear, the more people that go, the merrier.

But first- morning gambling. I wasn't in the mood for much excitement, so I met Don at the Pai Gow table for about an hour. What a disaster. I think I didn't win a hand for the first 15 hands dealt. I have a $400 loss documented for $25-$50 Pai Gow. That seems implausible....

We went to breakfast at the new Pantry restaurant at the Mirage - boy, was this diner badly needed. This place is in the spot where the old Blues Bar/Country Bar was, next to the Brazilian steakhouse. That area was dead for the past 5 years. The Pantry is a 24-hour breakfast diner that serves pastries and mainly breakfast - it was packed every time we went by. The food was good, quick and about at the cost you'd expect. Not a bad alternative to the buffet.

It was also Blue Jackets day! America's favorite hockey team was at home on Friday vs. the mighty Blues. Everyone in the party got a $10 Money Line ticket at +150; the game was never in doubt as Columbus cruised to a 7-1 win.

We left for Red Rock and the lanes around 1 pm (right after another short , losing craps session...). We got out there - the lanes were completely empty. They have 60 lanes in the complex; I'd guess that maybe 4 were in use when we arrived. We started the day with vodka and gin tonics, paired teams for the first game, and we were off.

There's something distracting about bowling on lane 33 of a 60-lane complex that is empty. It's like you are bowling in a field. There's nothing around you. It's hard to get any perspective. I took my stance on the "spots" on the lane - and my first ball hit the 7 pin and that's it. Something felt off. The next ball hit the 4 and the 8. 3 pins in the first frame.

It took me 4 frames to figure out what I was doing wrong - the "spots" that I line up on were set further back than other lanes. I was starting my approach way too far back. That threw everything off, and as a result, I had 14 through 3 frames. I rallied to break 140 for the first game.

We switched teams for game 2 (and more drinks) and I started off the game on the lane. Only one problem - we were bowling on alternate lanes (frame 1 on lane 33, frame 2 on line 34). For game 2, we were supposed to start on lane 34, but I bowled on 33. I rolled 9-spare, but nothing registered.

Now what? I asked for that to count, but to no avail. Roll it again. I took the challenge. I really, really, really wanted the strike and a big F you to Wiz/Layup. Alas, I rolled 9 again. Now the pressure was on me. I had to have this spare....and I did...  a 9-spare for the re-do frame. No harm done.

We rolled a 3rd game, and then a 4th -where it was Mike and I vs Wiz and Derek; we gave them 0.5 pins, and around the 7th frame it looked like the match would end in a dead even tie (where we would lose by the hook). The games went quick; I think we rolled 4 games in less than 2 hours, and had 4 strong vodka/gin drinks each. We were all feeling good after the bowling.

What's next? Of course! The always-disasterous gambling at Red Rock. This year, again, did not disappoint. We got spots at the $5 craps table -and it started going downhill right away with nobody rolling well at all. I got in trouble for urging Mike to roll when he did not want to; of course, he did a "6-7" roll  costing all of us a lot of money.

Then the dice came to me for the 2nd or 3rd time. I started to warm up; I hit 2 points and some numbers during the roll; I was close to getting back to even. The next point I set was 8. I rolled a few more numbers......

You guys know how I roll the dice, right? I like - well, love! - to have the dice bounce around. My ideal roll is to roll the dice low and hard, and have them bounce all the way back so both dice are on my side of the table after hitting the far wall.

Well, I rolled a low and hard one; the dice bounced around; one was boucing near the stick man; the dice showed 8. Winner!!!

"NO ROLL" yelled the pit boss.

What? It's an 8 !

"NO ROLL. The dice went in the dish."

Huh? No, they are both right there! A 6 and a 2! 8!

"NO ROLL. A dice went in the bowl, and a dice bounced out. We don't know if that was the original dice. No roll".

What? I was dumbfounded. Should I ask for the camera?

After some discussions where someone in our group - Wiz? - confirmed the dice hit the bowl - I rolled again. You can guess what it was.

So, I was pissed, everyone was mad, and we left. A few of the group had adventures trying to cash their chips - some of them missed the "Chips Only" sign hanging from a cashier window.- and we headed back to the Mirage.

It was about 5 pm...everyone was crashing from the drinks and we were all starving. We passed so many bad fast food joints on the way home - and we were not tempted to stop..... we all agreed on BLT at the Mirage; it was easy to find a table at 5:30 pm. The service was pretty bad - we waited a good 20 minutes for our bill, and Layup was incensed. Wiz got him even  more enraged by tipping 35%.

It was 7 pm; I had a full stomach and was dead. Time for sleep.....so at 7:00 pm on a Friday night, I climbed into bed intending to sleep for 12 hours......

Mar 3, 2015

2015 Vegas Diary - Part 2

Thursday, February 4, sometime in the early morning

It was dark when I heard Layup's phone make noise. There was no sun peering through the shades. I didn't even bother to look at the time. I saw Layup get up and turn the noise off the phone.....
I had plenty of drinks myself, plus the Zzzquil - as soon as he turned the phone off I closed my eyes.....

Thursday, Feb 4, 7:20 am

I wake up - check the clock: almost 5 hours of sleep. Not too bad! The sun is coming in the room. I move around a bit - and see Layup sleeping in the other bed. Hmmmm...I'm sure he got up for his call.

After about 5 minutes of trying to go back to sleep, I start playing on my phone - and that's when Layup stirs in his bed. He slowly gets up and then - it hits him. "Oh Shit....Oh shit....What time is it?"

It's about 7:25 or so.

"Oh no...oh dammit".

Apparently, his alarm was not enough to get him awake enough for his call at 6; I guess he went right back to bed after his alarm went off. He then spent 30 minutes on the phone with his boss and co-workers profusely apologizing. That quickly scattered any remnants of alcohol in his system.

After breakfast, the three of us went back to - where else? - the UTH table for morning sessions. During the play, we put in some of our favorite head-to-head matchups; we vehemently disagreed on one- Paul Casey vs Pat Perez. Wiz and Layup loved Perez while I like Casey. Side bet done. It took us about 20 minutes, but we finally got the pit boss to change the TV channel from beIN Sports to the Golf Channel.

It was at this table where we watched Tiger start his round; I think he bogeyed the first 2 holes and was struggling on the front nine. Would he make the cut?

I had a massage (with probably the Mirage's worst massage lady) and a haircut (first haircut back in the US) around noon, and then back to the UTH table. That's when we saw Tiger hit a drive on 10 or 11 and clutch his back. Uh oh.  I think I was playing a 10-6 unsuited when Tiger withdrew.

The massage break worked; I had two losing UTH sessions before the break - that's 7 losing sessions in a row - before winning 100 in the session afterwards. Still, I felt I was in a continual downhill slide.

Don and Mike were supposed to join us this afternoon, but never made it to the casino that afternoon. Hmmmmm...I wonder why? They made a last minute decision (on Wed night) to take the clubs; they were on an empty Royal Links that afternoon enjoying the 78 degree weather. But we saved these seats at the table for you!

Wiz left for his massage, so where could Layup and I go to waste time? Of course -Baccarat! Not much happened in this session except for seeing some random African-American at the other table with a pile of yellow and purple chips, waiting in vain for some sort of streak to appear.

We went to get ready for dinner and meet Mike and Don at the UTH table before heading over to Bartorelli's over at the Wynn. We were a bit early, so why not sit down and play - again? We stayed for 5 hands; I broke even while Layup went in 4x on most of the hands and lost each one. So a innocent 10 minute stay turned into a $500 loss for Layup.

On the way over to dinner at the Wynn, we noticed Wiz was wearing flip-flops. WTF, Wiz? We are going to a nice dinner - can't you be presentable?

" I only packed tennis shoes and flip flops".

Well, I hope we won't get kicked out because we needed proper shoes....................... of course, that's what happened, as Wiz was denied entry as the restaurant required closed-toe shoes.

"Suits me fine! More time for gambling!" he laughed as he took off.

What a meal for the four of us! A seafood feast - the best calamari I have ever had, and I voluntarily ordered grappa at the end of the meal. My first recollection of Grappa was from college when our Ukrainian friend tried to give us all taste; I drank it, quickly spit it out calling it "Spic N Span". But the grappa we had Thursday night was smooth and oddly addicting.  A great end to a great meal.

(We did get a text from Wiz during the meal: "Flip-flops == Money!". He had success at the tables during dinner).

The trip doesn't truly start until all 5 of us are at the UTH table - and that's what happened after dinner with Ruth, our favorite dealer. She has dealt UTH to us for a few years now and is good for several laughs during the night. It was a great session for me - breaking my losing streak of about 24 hours (except for that one small winning session). A good 3-4 hour session that night.

But was it over? No! Over to the salon to see if we can parlay those winnings into something more.... no. This trip wasn't as bad as the first, but still it was a losing trip, and I think I made out the best.

We stumbled across a fairly empty craps table and decided for one more session that night.... Olga, our favorite box-lady, was there, so we jumped right in. Well, it was a good decision. I rolled extremely well (and so did Wiz)...I hit an all small for myself (#2 of the trip) and rolled for about 20-25 minutes for one roll. That roll contained a whole lot of "8"s that Layup was on with a come bet with max odds....he was always getting "off and on" money. It was right up there as one of the best craps sessions I have had at the Mirage - erasing all the losses from the day. The other two - Layup and Wiz - made far more. The day ended well.

I bought cards and Wiz and I started our gin adventure, playing under some messed-up Maryland rules. I won't go into it any more.


Mar 1, 2015

2015 Vegas Trip - Day 1

Well hello! It's about time I finally put my thoughts on paper and summarize the Vegas trip for 2015. It's only been about 3 weeks since the trip - and real life will start for us this month with my return to work tomorrow and Wiz's second baby coming any day now.

Every year I wonder if we will have enough material for the trip - and every year I am never disappointed. Vegas is always an adventure for us - if it's not for the gambling, it's because of the people we see and interact with during our 100+ hours at the casino.

The trip was a hard-core one this year, with just the 5 regulars of Don, Mike, Layup, Wiz and I attending. One of the subjects we talked about was - do we need to expand in future years? The thought is to recruit as many people from the Golf Side Pool as possible - I know many of you out there are reading this. Leland should be in for 2016, as well as some others from the pool. Next year's trip should be a more populous one.

Now on to the diary as I try to put all the pieces together from my notebook....

Wednesday, February 4

The fun this year started on the plane ride to Vegas. Wiz and I were supposed to meet around the same time in Vegas so Layup could take us both. About 2 hours to go, we started getting texts from Wiz that he may be delayed. There was a "situation" on his plane. It turned out to be a health situation - the guy next to Wiz was having all sorts of serious breathing problems, and may have to require an emergency landing. Apparently, everything was solved with the flight attendants doing their job and getting the man to be stable - and Wiz helping out too by holding the IV bag. I'm sure that's how Wiz wanted to start his trip.

Anyway, with Wiz being late, Layup picked me up and headed for the Mirage. On the way, we put odds for the first table we would gamble on within the first hour:

Ultimate Texas Holdem : -130
Craps: +200
Salon: +250
Other game: +500

We got there and was turned down by the VIP desk. What the F, Mirage? We had to wait out in the "normal" line with everyone else......the line was only 3 people long, but it took forever. Finally, after 20 minutes, we get our keys and head up.

10 minutes later, Wiz texts us and lets us know he has arrived - and that "we need to come up and see the room". We head up - and he's got a suite, complete with a living room and a kitchen area. The suite also has a connecting regular room as well; why don't we stay there?

So - it took about an hour, but we packed up, made all the arangements at the desk to stay in the connecting room, headed up and re-unpacked. We were finally ready to go about 2 hours after arrival.

The  winning bet in the wager above was "No Gambling in the first hour..... +3000". What an upset!

Of course, after all the room changes, the first game we played was UTH. We also had some nice wagers going on Maryland 2nd half vs Penn State. It took an act of God to have the put boss change the channel to the Big Ten Network - this was a recurring issue all week, and really came into play on Sunday. Maryland hit two free throws in the last seconds for the miracle cover. Yes!

The first dinner for the trip was the bar at Tom Coligio's .... great steak, as usual....not good service, as my fries went missing. (another theme!). Plenty of drinks at the bar.

Layup then started mentioning he had to work on this trip - he had an important 6:00 am call with the CEO and his boss and some leaders in London. Sucks to be him, we said! He mentioned it many times throughout the night that even we knew he had this call.

Craps was next - I actually rolled half way decently and beat Wiz in a head-to-head matchup of rolls and won $10. Got the signature of Wiz confessing his loss in my notebook in perpetuity. After a winning craps session, what could be next? Of course, the Salon.

We are now at hour 4 or 5 of the trip, and we start going into the Blackjack salon. I didn't want this so early in the trip, but what did I expect with these two? Of course, the drinks were flowing some more and I was the first one out in that session - I constantly got 15s and 16. I ran out of money for that session and left the two of them at the table. I went over the baccarat - another bad decision - and lost some more. About 15% of my overall bankroll now gone with those two sessions. instead of going back in, I decided to play pai gow with more losses. Argh.

Wiz and Layup came out of the Salon finally and seemed to be well oiled. We decided on one more UTH session - and it was now clear that Layup was drunk. He was confusing his hands in UTH on when to go 4x....he said something like "You have K-7 suited! You don't go in on that! You only go in on that if it is unsuited!" Um, ok.  Layup was getting close to being borderline belligerent to some of the players and the dealer.....maybe we need to wrap this up soon.

After about 2 hours or so at UTH, and another losing session for me, it was about 2:30 and time to go upstairs. I took my ZZZquil and laid down after drinking a lot of water. I saw Layup set his alarm. I wonder if he will wake me up while taking his 6:00 am call with the CEO.....


Feb 2, 2015

Random Notes - and Pre-Vegas thoughts

Well hello again! I know it has been awhile, maybe about 6 weeks since my last post. We are safely "settled" into our house in Cincinnati; the boys are in school and doing fairly well. Our stuff is still on a boat from China and should be in Houston soon; hope we can get it by the end of the month.

We got our stuff out of storage and - wow! - all sorts of miscellaneous crap was found. We set up our craps table right away; I dealt for the 3 boys that night. By the end of the night, they were pressing their 6's and 8's and yelling at each other for sevening-out. They will be ready for Vegas in 10+ years!

Everyone is still getting adjusted to life back in the US; it took me a week to realize that I could buy anything I wanted at Target and not have to worry about fitting it in a suitcase. The boys are watching TV and memorizing every commercial that comes on. Martin will be a voice-over announcer when he grows up, as he is quoting every commercial out there.

Life is peaceful at the moment; the kids are not in many after school activities so our weekends are still fairly free and they are coming home on the bus at normal time. This will all change in March when they start spring sports/activities. We actually went to a movie this weekend - I took F & W to "Project Almanac" on Sunday afternoon (to kill time until the Super Bowl). Hoo boy. That whole movie was filmed from a camera phone perspective (a la Blair Witch). After an hour, I had to step out. I was physically sick - I felt like I was going to throw up with all of the movement of the camera. I don't do spinny rides well at amusement park, and watching this movie was like a 2 hour ride on the tilt-a-whirl. Ugh.

I don't want to spent too much time of the SuperBowl, except:
1. If the Browns ever get there, they will certainly lose it in the way that the Seahawks just did. And, if the Browns were in the Pats's shoes, they would drop the interception.
2. Deflate-gate: this is a serious charge that needs to be investigated. The non-elite teams (and fans of those teams) need to make sure that all 32 teams are playing on a level playing field.
I wish the investigation was completed by the Super Bowl. If it turns out the Pats were innocent, then the game was unfairly tarnished; and if it is found the Pats did cheat - a big if - then a disqualification would be the correct penalty.  Now there is no way to punish them in an appropriate manner if - and again, a big if - if it was found they cheated.

Now on the Vegas! Vegas is this week; for many reasons, the trip has been moved up to February for this year. I'm sure we will go back to Championship weekend in March next year.
10 random thoughts about Vegas 2015:

1. Only 5 of us on the trip this year; I'm thinking we should use this trip as a convention for all the Golf Side Pool members out there. I think we should invite all 18 for 2016.

2. No golf this trip - which will be different. This means I need to find other activities to eat away some time and get me away from the tables; we've got bowling scheduled and probably 2 afternoons at the spa will happen.

3. Over/under on the number of hours all 5 of us are at the UTH table? I say 20.

4. I won't be jet lagged (I hope) this year! Could I actually get some decent sleep? I'm packing my gallon of ZzzzzQuil. Maybe I can go to bed before 1 am some nights......

5. I feel like my schedule won't be packed, like it was from 2011-14. We had to do the Target run, two golf rounds, 3 dinners...plus my non-existent sleeping schedule; it seemed I didn't have much time to relax. Now, I think there will be plenty of downtime and nap time available.

6. Still trying to figure out my betting/session strategy for each game. It's good to have an idea on how to bet -and how much - for each session. For examples, craps...if it's is a $15 table, what will I bet on for each roller? This should be known ahead of time and memorized so that I can fall back on it when we are all drunk Friday night ready to show the world we can roll. (hint: we can't).

7. Please drag me away from the baccarat tables.....

8. Can we gamble at more than one casino this year? Would love to head to the Aria at some point.....

9. In order, I'm excited about.....
 a. UTH with the group
 b. Craps with everyone
 c. The occasional salon session
 d. One salon roulette session
 e. Drinking Don's drink in the Salon (the Hearth drink)
 f. Grand Mariner Cinquinteniare
 g. Grand Mariner at the Baccarrat table (um, see #7 above.)

10. I've never had a winning trip in Craps over the last 7 years... maybe this is the year to break that streak.......

Dec 28, 2014

NFL Week 17

From somewhere over Montana flying from Seattle to Cincinnati:

Picks for this week:

GB -7 1/2
Det/GB under 47
Jax +9 1/2
Jax/Hou under 40
Ten +7
Ten/Ind under 46 1/2
Buf +5
NYJ +6 1/2
Atl -3
SD +1
NO -4
Stl/Sea under 41 1/2
SF -7
Oak +14
Oak/Den under 47 1/2

I know, a lot of unders.

Supercontest picks:

Ten +7
NYJ +6
Atl -4
NO -4
Oak +14


Dec 21, 2014

NFL Week 16: Electronics Market

It's hard to believe it is here - it is our last night in Guangzhou. Tomorrow morning - bright and early, in the 2nd quarter of the late afternoon games - we will head to the Guangzhou airport for a final time and leave the city, heading for Hawaii. The last 2 weeks have been an emotional whirlwind of goodbyes and panic in wrapping everything up, packing and moving. (I still haven't finished all my work yet for China - that may happen on the flight....).

I won't be rhapsodizing about China in this post -maybe that's for the playoffs or something - but today was our last visits to the markets, and the final visit today was to the market that many ex-pats know by heart - the electronics market.

This place - and I should say blocks, not a "place" - has everything under the sun. It has the items you would expect - the DVDs, I Phones, phone cases - but also hi-fi stereo equipment, industrial-powered lasers, water speakers that vibrate with the sound of the music, walkie talkies, and everything else.

This was the place where I went the first week I was here to get my phone card - I think I blogged about this before, where I had to pick my own phone number - and was the last market we went to today. We got a few X Box games, pocket lasers, 3' charger cords, and other cheap items. We will see if our X Box games actually work on our box in about 10 days.

(We also went to the watch market earlier today - that's becoming a process like entering the NORAD control center now - and I don't have pictures of that). Had to look at the offering one last time!

To the games:

Phi 27, Was 17
SD 23, SF 13
(I could be a smart ass and pick the Washington upset, since it happened earlier today.....)
Mia 23, Min 17
Det 23, Chi 20
Bal 23, Hou 10
NO 27, Atl 20
NE 28, NYJ 20
KC 23, Pit 20
GB 30, TB 13
StL 30, NYG 20
Dal 30, Ind 24
Oak 20, Buf 17
Sea 17, Az 14
Den 27, Cin 20

Best bets: 13 of them. Last week: 9-6-1; overall: 94-114-4

SD +1 (winner!)
Chi +8
Bal -5 1/2
Bal/Hou under 42
Atl/NO under 56
KC +2 1/2
GB -11 1/2
GB/TB under 49
StL -6 1/2
NYG/StL over 43 1/2
Oak +6 1/2
Az +7 1/2
Den -3 1/2

Supercontest picks: Last week: 4-1; overall: 41-33-1
SD +1 (winner!)
Bal -5 1/2
KC +3
StL -4 1/2
Az +8


Dec 14, 2014

NFL Week 15: Driving

This is my last week of blogging about the NFL in our house. On Friday, we move to a hotel - the Ritz, of course - and then Monday Dec 22 we are on our way back for good.

No time to reminisce just yet - the Browns are still in the playoffs and we have a few more topics to go. I've saved this picture up for a while to talk about driving and the roads in China. How crazy is it?

Well, it's not that bad. It's hard to describe - I'd say about 95% of the drivers out there obey the traffic laws. That's a fairly decent number, but other drivers are still very unpredictable in their behavior and a driver has to always be on their toes for everyone else.

Some general remarks about driving:

1. The rules, in general, favor the bold. If there is a space, you go for it! If someone cuts you off, there's no reason to be mad - it's your fault for letting someone in. Accidnets in merging lanes are rare, as more people here seem to back off an aggressive driver than in the US. Just my opinion.

2. Accidents? The worse one I saw was in the picture attached. If you open it up to the large size, you can see a red car at the top- and to the left of the car there are two outstretched legs. Those legs weren't moving when we passed, and we were in a traffic jam. I have no idea what happened here ( I can guess, however - see point 3 below), but it didn't look good. These kinds of accidents are few and far between.

The most unsafe I felt in the car was about a month ago, driving on the highway --- passing a truck with a light load; a 2x4 fell off the truck and struck the side of our car. I wasn't paying attention, and just heard an awful bam on the side of the car while going 100 km/h. The truck did not stop; we did, as the driver got out to inspect the minimal damage.

3. Pedestrians - holy shit. the worst, bar none. In India, where the roads are chaotic, at least the people walking in the streets are aware of the cars around them and proceed cautiously. Here - the pederstrians think they rule the world. Tons of people do not heed don't walk signs; they just walk out into the street and are shocked when a car is barreling at them honking their horn. Maybe shocked is not the right word - probably offended. Their attitude is "there's a cross walk here, buddy. You better stop for me, even though you were going 45 mph and you have a green light."

People are everywhere on the roads. I remember the first month we were here - the highways were decorated with flowers on the side. We are all going 60, 70 mph on the highway- and there is someone on the shoulder of the highway, walking along and watering the flowers. Crazy.

4. New drivers: there are plenty of new drivers every day coming on the road. Now, imagine you are 40, 50 years old, and just starting to drive a car......you head on the highway. Everything is fine until you get to a fork in the road. What do you do?

Of course, you slam on the brakes and stop , in the middle of the highway, as you take your time and read the highway sign. Should I head toward Panyu or Qingyuan? I think Panyu, correct? This all happens while they are at a dead stop. Just amazing.

5. Probably because of #3 and #4, drunk driving is not tolerated. Instant prison for drunk driving- any alcohol at all.

It's Johnny Football week. I am excited to see what he can do. Having the last 4 weeks of Hoyer, giving away at least one game, makes me open to the possibility of our boy Johnny. 38-3 Browns.

On to the quick picks: I have to brag, finally got an exact pick right with last week's 27-13 Houston over Jacksonville pick!

Atl 31, Pit 27.
Bal 20, Jax 10
GB 23, Buf 10
TB 20, Car 17
Ind 28, Hou 17
KC 27, Oak 7
Det 31, Min 17
NYG 24, Was 20
Den 26, SD 13
NYJ 23, Ten 16
NE 27, Mia 20
Sea 20, SF 17
Dal 34, Phi 27
NO 27, Chi 24.

Best bets: 16 of them. I really need to tally up the season totals. Next week there will be an update.

Atl +3
Jax/Bal under 45
GB -4
GB/Buf under 50
TB +3
Ind -7
KC -10 1/2
Oak/KC under 41 1/2
Det -7 1/2
Min/Det over 41 1/2
Den -5
Den/Sd under 50 1/2
NYJ -3
SF +9
Dal +3 1/2
Phi/Dal over 55

Supercontest picks: Last week: 2-2-1, thanks to the Vikes miracle "cover" for the tie. Overall: 37-32-1

TB +3 1/2
Ind -6 1/2
Det -8
Den -4
Dal +3