Thursday, January 7, 2010


Ahhh, the ubiquitous “trip report.” It seems to be a right of passage, so here goes.
I left Eastport, Maine on Saturday morning. A major blizzard was moving in starting Friday. Chance of snow on Friday: 100%, Saturday: 100%, Sunday: 100%. Even I believe the weathermen when they are that sure. The snow started for real Friday night. By Saturday morning it was white out conditions. The little coastal transportation bus showed up surprisingly only ten minutes late, but it was obviously going to be slow going down Route 1. Another woman got on with me, and she made many trips back to a car to load a bunch of junk on the bus. I wasn’t really paying attention, but I did notice one of her items was a broken down oscillating fan. You don’t see one of those that often in the dead of winter. Once we got under way, I heard a weird little sneeze and looked over at her. She had a baby on her lap! Somehow, riding the short bus, in the heart of a blizzard, in the middle of nowhere, with only one other passenger, I had ended up traveling next to a baby! I knew Dr. Pauly would have chuckled.
The baby was blessedly silent the whole trip, and we made our connection in Bangor. I felt like that lone snowboarder in a Warren Miller extreme movie, flying down the mountain barely ahead of a huge avalanche. I was trying to escape Maine before the avalanche caught up. Unfortunately around Augusta, just as it happens so often to the snowboarder, the giant cloud engulfed us. Even the mammoth Concord Trailways bus was fishtailing all over. The highway signs were plastered pure white with snow, and you could barely tell the road from the ditch. Pretty fucking cool, except I was convinced I wouldn’t make it to Boston that night. Somehow, miraculously we emerged from the storm bank, and rode the cusp of it all the way to Massachusetts.
Boston was a ghost town. It was the second day of the new decade and everyone was broke, hungover, and probably ashamed. 2010 was starting quietly. It couldn’t be worse than 2009 though, right? I met up with my friends in the People’s Republic of Cambridge, and we had a good weekend. Bar trivia one night, and a night at my friend Lea’s place watching old Twilight Zones and playing Personal Preference (a fun board game from the 80’s where you have to predict your friends rankings of random items). I actually worked a couple of days too. I have a really cool boss who lets me fill in at the wine shop whenever I’m in town. You know, for gambling money and what not. Speaking of which, Tuesday morning was what I was looking forward to. That’s when we headed down to……..


Foxwoods always looms up like a trashy turquoise mirage out of the bucolic Conneticut woods, but it’s the most beautiful ugly thing you’ve ever seen when you are jonesing for some cards! We played in the 1pm $60 Turbo. I took a horrific two-outer beat on the river to cripple me the hand before the first break. I had to wait five minutes to go all-in blind in the small blind. The big blind calls and another guy in the hand shoves. I think “Oh great.” BB folds and the other guy shows 6-7 off! I have no idea what my cards are at this point. I flip 7-8 off. Sweet, right? Of course not. Even the dealer says “You have him dominated.” Thanks, dickhead. Flop is Q-3-10. Turn 4. I immediately predict the 5 on the river and am literally walking away from the table before the five of spades hits the felt. “GL” idiot, and all that happy horseshit my ass.
Time for a cash game. I break my #1 cardinal rule, and head for the $2-$4 limit tables. I have vowed to not play No Fold ‘em Hold ‘em ever again. It is the paper cut of poker tables. Unfortunately, I’m pretty low on the bankroll, and have to play there by necessity. Maybe I’ll hit a couple pots and be able to move up to the $4-$8 tables. Yeah right. I sit down at the table and survey the damages. It is the table of misfit toys. And I don’t mean that in the ironic fun way. Seat one is the retired rock, seat 2 is a fat Edward James Olmos look-a-like with a ponytail, seat 3 yours truly, seat 4 soon to be empty, seat 5 friendly chatty old lady, seat 6 weirdo with a super deluxe sars mask who repeatedly answers his phone and has to be told to hang up every time, seat 7 the grouch who stares at his cards for ten minutes before inevitably folding after the river every time, seat 8 the Russian who bets wrong and has to be told how limit betting works every time, seat 9 my friend G eventually, and seat 10 the old Jewish lady with bifocals perched on her nose who looks up and down, back and forth from the board to her hand and eventually calls with middle pair every time. It is beyond a crushingly slow pace, especially being used to online play. When the 4 seat opens up, the grouch asks to move to it. Dealer says fine. A couple minutes pass and a young kid sits down in 4, pulls cash out, gets chips, gives the dealer his Dream Card to swipe, and settles in. After all this, the grouch says “Can I have that seat now?” So the kid has to get up, move his chips, move his water, get his Dream Card out to reswipe, and slide two seats over. The grouch sits down next to me and actually asks me to move over. Are you fucking kidding me? I tell him in my most restrained Charles Bronson rage filled calm voice that I am directly in front of my seat’s cup holder so he can go blow. I mean seriously, he pulls that shit, unnecessarily moves two seats over to be next to the biggest guy at the table (me), and then expects me to move over?!?? Am I on hidden camera? Oh wait, I am. But not the good kind like Candid Camera. Oops, I’m dating myself. I should have said Punk’d. Everybody at the table is talking shit and analyzing strategy. At a 2-4 table? Stategy? Please. And they all know each others names. They sit here all day, everyday and do this. How depressing. Someone at the table calls 2-4 limit “morphine for heroin addicts,” but I find that very insulting to morphine. After none of my hands hold up to the brilliant “call everything” technique employed at the table, I realize I’m in hell. Poker hell and humanity hell. The absolute lowest point that both could sink to. Now I finally realize why casinos call them “pits.” Edward James Olmos keeps farting, and now there is a putrid, somewhat sulfurus stench to round out the metaphor. I flag down the waitress. If I’m going to be in absolute hell, I might as well start drinking. Ahhh, it tastes so good when it hits your lips! After actually winning a couple pots, G and I flee hell and head upstairs to purgatory.
Whenever I’m steaming, broke, want to get drunk, or maybe all three, I head to the video poker bar tucked behind the racebook. It is one of my favorite spots in Foxwoods. Ya stick $20 in a machine and you get served free drinks by a bartender right there. No more craning your neck around looking for a non-existent waitress in the poker room. G and I get hammered playing video 5 card draw for an hour or so. Good times. I win about $40 profit because of hitting quads a couple times. We then head back downstairs to find my friend Van D who is at a $1-$2 NL table. We find him and it’s open seating, so I decide to jump on the table. My favorite line of the trip came later when I told Van D that the table image I was playing was Drunken Fool. He muttered under his breath “You played it well.” That’s what happens when you don’t touch a drop of liquor for over two months then get wasted at a casino. I kept my wits at the table though, and played super tight. I knew everyone would be dying to call the drunk guy every time. It worked. I won a big pot with big slick against a guy who I had been debating over the merits of buying in under the gun. I was violently opposed to it, while he said it was worth it to try and hit the bad beat jackpot. I got all my money in by the turn with a pair of Kings, Ace kicker, and the nut flush draw. His pocket pair was no good. I had him covered by about $5, but he had a cool hot pink $2.50 Foxwoods chip that he was using as a card protector. I wanted that chip. I don’t think you should be allowed to use a chip with a monetary value from the casino you’re playing at as your card protector! I had just taken about $80 off of him, so I didn’t press the issue. After he left, the dealer said he was one of the better players in the room, and that he was just killing time while he waited for a high stakes seat to open up. That made me feel good. The dealer then apologized for talking about another player. Bad etiquette, but in this case I’m for it!
The bad beat jackpot seems to be all people think about these days at Foxwoods. By the way, they raised it up to quad 8’s minimum that has to be beat. Both hole cards of both players have to be used and obviously it has to be shown down with at least 4 people at the table and a $20 pot.
I left the 1-2 table up $30 or so and we piled into the Lexus and headed up I-95 rocketing towards…….


Anyone who has driven past Providence, Rhode Island has probably seen the shockingly ugly pink building just off of the highway. Cheaters is probably the most appropriately named strip joint in the country. I say strip joint, but it’s really more of a roadside whorehouse. And even that is prettying it up. It’s the one place I’ve been that still has the wild west, anything goes credo. I’m surprised we didn’t have to check our six-shooters at the door. I always half expect Mae West to come down the stairs. Any place that you walk into and a gorgeous woman rushes up to you and whispers in your ear “I really want to suck your cock right now.” is a cool place in my book. Cheaters is like a virtual reality box that you step into and see what it’s like to be a rockstar for an hour or two. Anything goes (and usually does). I must be getting old, because Van D and I sat at the bar and talked movies while G went to take care of business. As we looked around we realized we weren’t missing anything. It was definitely not the A-team working a slow Tuesday in the dog days of January right after New Year’s (although one of the strippers did look like Mr. T). Christ, it looked like all of their customers had resolved to stop cheating on their wives, and were actually sticking to it for a few days! It was deserted and the talent was…..less than….remotely talented. It’s the first time I’ve ever been to the Pink Palace when there weren’t at least a few knockouts working. We were a little insulted that none of the girls came over to harass us. Not that we wanted them to. They were hideous, and we weren’t interested, but you know, it’s the principle of the thing. The girls were all lethargic, and the music was suicidal. I’m not kidding. It was like Edie Brickell, Depeche Mode, and Sarah McLaughlin. The whole place felt like a deserted opium den as envisioned by Russ Meyers and David Lynch. Speaking of which, the best looking girl in the joint finally came over and started talking movies with us. She must have been bored johnless, and turned out to be surprisingly knowledgable about movies. Just when they finally put my homey Prince on the sound system, G came streaking out of the back room like he had seen a ghost. A slightly overweight, half dressed, gap toothed, glitter covered ghost. It was time to split. The rest of the ride was fueled by Head Band and SoCo (in a tip of the hat to AlCantHang).
We were back in Boston and reality again. I had played cards in a casino for seven hours with friends, I was drunk, happy, and left with only $20 less than I had walked in with. That’s a mega win as far as I am concerned. I can’t wait to go back.
All right. Enough. This writing bullshit is cutting into my poker time.

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