May 192009

We were in an elevator once and my sister had a gambling addiction flier and one of the questions on the flier to help you decide if you had a gambling problem was if you avoided friends and family to gamble. My sister looked around the elevator and saw she was with friends and family and confidently said “Nope!”

So I’m wondering if booking a trip last minute to spend 13 hours on the ground in Vegas, with only about 3 or 4 of those with a non-sleeping and non-working spouse would be a sign that one has a gambling problem. But I’m pretty sure that’s not on the flier.

Also, I could spend more time there with a non-sleeping, non-working spouse if I was to take an earlier flight, except that would conflict with kettlebell class…just to clarify the priorities of my addictions.

Jan 202009

70!My father turned 50 the other day – MLKs true birthday, not the observed day – and we went to Vegas to surprise him for dinner.  We thought about a big surprise party, but that never really got planned.  I was into it after going to my uncle’s wake, and thinking, these comments would be much better shared while the person is alive, but life got in the way of planning it.  Turns out, my dad didn’t want any party and just wanted a quiet dinner in Las Vegas.  So us kids invited ourselves to their dinner.

Got to the Wynn Encore a bit early, so we hit the bar to play some video poker and get a free drink.  Order Johnnie Walker Black and am told that they don’t comp drinks here at the Wynn – I guess cause they’re so high class.  So okay – 14.50 down the drain.  But won 3 dollars in video poker and the little lady won 50 cents.  So I tipped 3.50 on the drink.  Not the bartender’s fault that they don’t comp drinks there at the Wynn, eh?

Plan was to get to dinner early, get seated so that we’re there when the old man arrives.  We do.  My brother and sister are feeling good, having loosened up a bit at the Myst bar an hour earlier.  Chit chat and then I can see my dad and Sarah arrive and hit the hostess stand.  Cammy had requested that they get seated at a table for two, then get told that they were disturbing the nearby patrons and ask that they get moved to join us at the table, but the hostess said she wouldn’t be rude to my father on his birthday like that.

So instead, she told Sarah that there was some trouble with her reservation.  I didn’t know that was the plan.  Ad lib maybe.  So I watch the two of them at the hostess station, and Sarah gets a stern look on her face and my dad just steps back and away and goes to wait by the stairs.  We have menu’s held up and are hiding behind them, but considering their facial expressions, we didn’t really need them. Things then got resolved and they headed on over.

If there was any doubt that this would be a surprise to my father, it was erased watching him walk over. He’s staring at the ground, studying the tiling that they have done on the floor, wondering if he could paint a similar mosaic on the wall in his backyard (he explained that to me afterwards).  When he saw the table that he was being seated at was already full, he was a little concerned, till he recognized his children and favorite daughter in law.

His first words to me?  “Where’s the kid?”

Yeah – I love you too.

Botero’s was the restaurant. Their steak house.  I had the rib eye, with the pepper rub. Catherine had a New York with some sauce rub on it (that I finished) and Sarah had a plain New York, that I also finished.  My steak was my favorite.  The creamed spinach and broccoli and the mashed potatoes were solid sides. I stayed away from the eggplant and Catherine said the tuna tartare was fantastic.

img00240But what stood out the most were the tater tots.  No, not because they’re loaded, like we get in Chicago (with bacon and cheese).  But because they were 11 bucks for 6 or 7 tater tots…normal sized tater tots. Maybe they were slightly less greasy than your typical Ore-ida ones, but I still didn’t feel comfortable with the markup.  Outrageous.  But we ordered another round – partially just out of disbelief – that our next order would be normal sized as they realized their mistake in the kitchen earlier.  Nope. Same size.  They’re in that fancy little metal cup.  Emphasis on little.

For dessert – I think Sal would have loved it – they had a lollipop option.  But since he wasn’t there, we got the cupcakes (5 of them) and the donuts (4 of them) and the something else that came on a painter’s palette, which is a nice touch since the place is named after a painter who’s populated some of the walls in my dad’s house.  The ice cream was really good, but nothing that special desert wise.  Just another 4 donuts down the pipes.  Eh – 3, I think someone had one.

img00241There were rounds of tequila and not that we need help being loud and obnoxious, but it never hurts to have an excuse.  Conversation was fun to just listen in to: found out my dad knows the new Yahoo! CEO, was reminded that him and Sarah have been hanging out for 20 years now, loves lost (that happened to be roommates of siblings), rehashed my father’s “go to” racial slur on asians – “Oh no, rice again!” and other family stories came up, that were also enjoyed and denied, depending on who you were and your role in the stories.  It was a nice dinner and I’m glad we took the time out to have it.  Vegas as a location didn’t hurt.

Sign that the economy has an effect – the Wynn had $5 craps tables @ 10pm on a Thursday night.  Still didn’t help me win any.  Didn’t have a winning session at all this trip actually – except maybe blackjack.  Ah – the blackjack table – that’s an interesting story…

A while back, I commented to Catherine about how my “go to” joke at work, to disarm and create awkward situations, is to comment about “how the internet makes my penis larger”.  I like it cause it’s not clear if it’s cause it’s porn or because I’m buying various drugs or if I am just that hardcore a nerd.  Well, maybe it’s clear, but not always in the context of what people are talking about.  If someone’s showing me how to do something in Outlook and they get on my case for never exploring a particular menu item, I just respond with “I was afraid to click on that, cause I thought it’d make my penis larger.”

Then I just enjoy the awkwardness.

So, I happened to be wearing a McAfee shirt on the day after the birthday and we were playing blackjack and the dealer pauses during a shuffle to say “Hey, you work at McAfee, I have a question.”  And I immediately point to my brother, who was the on that gave me the shirt and worked at McAfee and that really, really, really enjoys handling these questions. She was asking about updates and yearly subscriptions and blah blah blah.  I start talking to the old dude at the other side of the table, talking about how this is all part of Marco’s game and soon, he’ll be inviting himself over for a little “in-home support” nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more…

Then the tech support session ends, without Marco offering to comp her a free lifetime subscription (he said he couldn’t, but she didn’t know that…) and she comments about how crazy all these computer and internet things are.  Now, let’s take a moment to describe our dealer, Diane.  She’s from Laos.  I feel she’s got a bit of Pamela Anderson vibe going on, with a little bit of the underbite and the cute little nose and the squeaky voice.  Catherine wasn’t so sure of it.  But I’m willing to let my imagination go wild with the idea of every country having a Pamela Anderson representative and they all somehow end up in Vegas somehow.  So Diane, in her squeaky voice, is complaining about how complicated the internet is and its associated security and isn’t offered a lifetime McAfee subscription…so what do I say?

“All you have to do is stop clicking on the links to make your penis bigger…”

The crowd takes a moment to let that comment sink in.  Does she really have a penis?  Does it need to be any bigger?  Or is she just stock piling up for visitors?  And who really clicks on those links?  No one really. The joke doesn’t make any sense. Except I feel it’s my “go to” line now for some reason and I have to share it with everyone I encounter.

And the table loves it. They riff on it. The old dude makes some comment.  His daughter in law has a followup line.  Tech support chimes in with agreement that I was giving sound advice! And Diane confesses she can’t help but click on those links.  Catherine’s just stunned that people think it is funny.

I like drunk people in Vegas.  They make me feel comfortable and loved and funny.  I think I’ll go back for my 70th too…

Sep 282008

20 bucks at a time – and when they hit, parlay it.  When they hit again (about a 300-500 payoff) I was going to make them a 200 bet for the next hit and save the rest.  If they hit again it would have paid 1400-1800 and I didn’t decide what would happen then.  But I didn’t get close to having to make the decision either.

I think I saw them hit twice one time during the whole trip.  And yeah, i wasn’t betting it at that time. It’s an expensive bet with a bankroll of the size I was using.

Which brings up another point.  One fellow on this past trip was commenting on my lack of full odds on a 4 or 10.  I had 25 instead of the max 30.  I was called an assortment of names.  My only defense was that I didn’t have the same kind of bankroll as the gentleman that was calling me names.

He replied back with the fact that I have a bigger bankroll because I have an income, versus his own situation, where he hasn’t drawn a paycheck from his self funded start-up.

I countered with the observation that those details in fact prove the opposite point – since I need to work, while he can afford to fund start-ups.

We called it a draw and got back to listening to “Mike” aka “Dale” converse with the drunk ladies next to him.  And then several tables later, we were both playing $25 craps, which is a significant step up from $10 craps.  After playing, several points were noted:

  • I seem less likely to stray from the betting strategy since now, the stakes are higher.
  • I seem more likely to walk away with a smaller % win – and be happy about it.  Winning 1/3 of my buy in @ 300 doesn’t seem like much and I would rather win big or lose it all.  Which often leads to the latter.  Winning 1/3 of my buy in at 1000 changes that mentality.  I’m satisfied with winning a third and much less willing to lose it all.
  • Since my initial bets are higher, I’m not pressing bets as much, and I’m taking more off the table, staying bankroll neutral on minor rolls.  At a lower limit, I would continually press in the beginning, meaning shorter rolls would have a larger effect percentagewise on my bankroll.
  • The math is easier, because all the units are green chips.  The 6/8 are a little different if you wanna bet 90 or 120…but once you get to 300 it’s easy again.
  • This will all probably need to be updated once I have a losing session at a quarter table.
  • Someone else turned 140 into 9k at blackjack but that still hasn’t swayed me.  We had the 4 up to 600 at one point this trip.  It has and will again, get much higher.

Perhaps once I get wiped out, I’ll have acquired the right discipline to apply the betting strategy at any limit.

Except perhaps for the small issue around having the fever.  The fever seems to suggest that going back to a $10 limit will not be possible.  At least until, I’m reprogrammed by the home boss.

Jul 162008

Virgin American mood lighting.The first class food...IS TINY!Virgin American.  $59 dollars each way 1 week in advance from SFO to LAS.  $50 at the counter upgrade to first class. The airplanes tout their ambiance lighting.

Everything’s free in first class, so I was trying to get my $50 back immediately.  Bought a couple of pay per view movies (but only watched 10 minutes of American Gangster before the system rebooted and 20 minutes of Walk Hard – which was kind of funny).  4 Miller Lites. Their first class snack box, which was a little too high class for me, so I asked for nuts or something of the like.

She offered me chocolate chip cookies or buffalo wing flavored potato chips or high end Chex mix.

I asked for the sampler platter.

Virgin American first class seat controls.Virgin American first class leg room.The seats had a bunch of adjustments and plenty of leg room up at first class. Could recline to completely laying down.  Though that made beer drinking difficult.

All in all, an enjoyable way to spend 1:15 minutes on our way to Las Vegas.

Terminal in vegas.Ran into craps dealers at the Monte Carlo who asked me and my brother if we were here for the nerd convention.  Then he started talking to his friend about how Hurl was going to be on that night. That’s a G4 show.  Turns out they’re bigger nerds than we are.  Well, maybe geeks is the right word.  Had a fun conversation (they watch Scare Tactics too and Ninja Warrior and Wipeout), but no big luck with the dice…


Feb 112008

I think this lion’s name is “Dude”. He’s 2 years old. He’s at the MGM Grand in Vegas. They were sleeping, so we went to the buffet and Sal had a lion’s share of olives. Then we went back and the lions were still sleeping. Sal noticed that the exit they want you to go through leads to the gift shop. So we were in the gift shop talking Sal out of a variety of gifts, when they woke up the lions to feed them.

They take a chunk of meat, about a 1 inch square chuck, and throw it against the glass window of their enclosure and the lions lick it off the glass. They walk around the entire room doing that. We happened to be one of only 2 groups in the gift store when it started. And we ended up having the whole window to ourselves. The emcee for the lions even hung out with us a bit, encouraging the trainers to throw the hunk of meat at Sal’s face, so the lions would end up being face to face with Sal.

It was pretty interesting.

We left with a little soft stuff leopard or something or rather with huge (proportionally and kind of absolutely) eyes. His name is “Finder”. Not after old Mac OS apps, but because with big eyes, one can find things easier.

We don’t know who taught that to Sal or if he made it up himself, but if you help him find something of his that he lost, he’ll ask you to help him look for something and he’ll compliment your eyes for being so big as a way to pressure on you to find the object of his desire.

The other day, we were talking baby talk and this expectant dad made a comment that really warmed my heart. He said that he was leaning towards a girl but that over time, Sal had convinced him that maybe a boy wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Sal can be pretty persuasive. At least I think Sal is fun to hang out with and do touchdown dances with and high five and dress up in team jerseys and tickle and wrestle and roll around in the grass with and teach him to say “safety” after a little gas is expelled. I mean, I didn’t do that of course…I actually learned it from Sal. When I asked the expectant dad if he taught Sal, he denied it – but said that it was common knowledge. Now, the nanny’s son is the prime suspect.

Anyway, I was touched that Salvador was able to have an effect on an adult already. Or maybe it’s just that this dad realized that fart jokes with a daughter aren’t as socially acceptable…

Aug 262007

So I was scanning the lines yesterday, thinking who bets on preseason football, when I noticed most games were high scoring. Good versus bad matchups must be popular and so I was really tempted by the over 35.5 line for the Eagles and Steelers. Forget who was gonna win the game, just that there should be lots of give-away points.

Then I watched the Jets-Giants struggle to score points. I started the internal debate that usually leads to bad bets. Finally figuring it was a good way to spend time with minimal risk, I went to the sportsbook.

“110 on the over for 290”

They must have been scared by my savvy…

“Computers are down, come back in a little while.”

They were down through the start of the game, into the 2nd quarter even. But I think only 3 points were scored in the 1st quarter, so at that point, I thought maybe the computers saved me some money.

But sitting down now in a bar waiting for my flight, I saw with 1:43 a fumble get returned for a TD making the total 39, before the extra point.

So the conspiracy is back in full effect…if you hear the computers are down, go find a real sportsbook. I was at NYNY.