Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Two Inches of Banana: A Guest Post from Change100

Editor's Note: As you know, I'm off for the first two weeks of the year working on my Las Vegas book project. In the meantime, my friends will be taking over the Tao of Poker. Here's the seventh of a collection of guest posts from your favorite bloggers. Change100 finally got around to writing up a story that happened when she was in Las Vegas just before Christmas and we were storming the Catle. Thanks again to Change100!

Two Inches of Banana

Steve with the British accent hailed from Leeds in the north country, not London, as most of our tablemates guessed. He had squinty blue eyes and small teeth, and sat two to my right at the Excalibur's $1-3 No-Limit game behind eight towers of red checks. Mischief and intoxication danced across his round face, his lips curled in a perpetual grin as he signaled for the attention of Lucy, our young Asian cocktail waitress. Steve looked her up and down, marveling aloud to the bearded redneck between us at how Lucy's raven hair fell in a glossy, perfect waterfall all the way to the waistband of her heinous black-and-gold medieval mini-dress. He placed his empty bottle on her tray and ordered another Budweiser.

"Cut me off at twelve, Lucy," Steve demanded with a sly grin while Lucy pocketed the blue $1 chip he tossed onto her tray. "Twelve Budweisers. You promise?"

He winked at her and took a long graceful sip and I silently questioned why the hell an obviously seasoned British drinker would choose to get loaded in Vegas on fucking Budweiser of all things.

"And you," Steve was pointing at me now. A gaudy chain-link bracelet dangled from his hairy wrist. "You are going to help me keep count," Steve chuckled and winked again.

I gave him my sweetest little-girl smile; the one I reserve for guys like Steve when they're across the felt from me. It's innocent, perhaps a touch bashful - but still inviting. It says look all you like, but that's as far as you'll get. Flirt all you want and I'll knock the ball back and forth with you and make sure you have fun. We'll laugh and swap stories and drink a few beers and after an hour I'm going to have charmed you so much with my blue eyes and freckles and witty banter that youre not going to want to see me lose. To keep that smile on my face, you'll soft-play me. Check when you should bet. Do the quick look-away when you have a strong hand. Steve from Leeds was, quite simply, my perfect mark.

Steve was in Las Vegas on a three-week vacation. He had a 20-year old girlfriend back in England that he was "in trouble" with, and was taking this time, as he did at the end of every year, to relax and drink and play cards in the most debauched city in America. She, of course, couldn't understand why on earth he would want to go off on a holiday without her.

"Not a bright one, your girlfriend?"

"Heavens no! I always fall for the bimbo types, you know? Even though I'm old and bald and fat. I don't care much for clever girls."

I played tight for the first couple of hours and managed to chip up to $225 from my initial $150 buy-in. The mirrored sunglasses crowd down at the other end of the table was playing relatively weak-tight, and once I established a solid image, they pretty much did all they could to stay out of pots with me. I don't think I ever had to show down a hand. I should also mention that the chips in front of me represented, quite literally, the remainder of my poker bankroll. Four straight losing months will do that. I was going to protect my babies fiercely until I found the right hand to push.

I got it when I found pocket sixes and flopped a set. One of the sunglass boys pushed in on me when a ten fell on the turn and I delightfully called only to see the devastating news. He turned a higher set. Thankfully I had him covered and still had about $80 to work with. It was time for a break. Steve looked at me with sympathetic eyes as I got up from my seat.

'Hurry back, luv!" he called out as Lucy brought him Budweiser #5.

Up on the 16th floor, I flopped onto the bed in mock agony as Pauly whittled away at another freelance article on his laptop.

"Hey, what happened?"

"Set over set. I wanna die."

"Fuck. You know, I wrote like 2000 words while you were down there..."

"Great. I need to smoke a bowl."

"...Yeah, yeah, totally. So I've got one more freelance piece to finish after this and the Tao of Pauly and the Truckin' and maybe I'll play a couple of SNGs on Poker Stars and write a NaNo novel with my left hand and then I'll see you down there, OK? Gimme like an hour."

I smoked like three and headed back downstairs.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Thank God you made it back! They were about to give away your seat!" Steve was thoroughly schnockered when I made it back to the table. Lucy handed him Budweiser #7 as I sat back down.

"And what would my lovely friend with the reddish-blondish-brownish hair like?" he asked.

His head lolled from side to side as he tried to focus on me.

"Soco rocks."

Time to switch gears.

I divided my sixteen red chips into two stacks of eight and shuffled them together. It was either double up or go home. About an orbit went by before Steve made a raise to $15 from early position. He'd typically raise $10 with hands like AK, AQ, AJ, KQ or KJ and $15 with big pairs. He was really that transparent. The action was folded to me. I peeked down at two red queens and looked back up at Steve. He was staring out into space. I was going to find out where I was at right now.

"Raise to $30," I announced and tossed out six red chips.

The sunglass kids ducked and ran. The action came back to Steve.

"I hate to do it luv, but I have to."

Steve pushed out a stack of reds, setting me all in for my last $50. Most people would call here. Hell, I'd call here most of the time. But then I looked at Steve again with a half-smile and he looked away. He couldn't meet my eyes. That raise wasn't a challenge, it was a warning. He didn't want me broke.

"If I can guess your exact two cards, will you show me your hand?" I asked.

"Well that depends if you're calling or folding!" he replied with a jolly laugh.

"Oh I'm folding," I said. I tabled my two queens. The sunglassed guys gasped. "I just want to see your kings."

"Fair enough."

And Steve flashed the king of hearts and king of spades.

"But how the bloody hell do you lay that down?"

"Woman's intuition."

Lucy arrived with my Soco and I knocked half of it back.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

From there on out, I pretty much ran over the table. I laughed and drank with Steve, who drunkenly recounted stories of his world travels. He had taken over 25 trips to Thailand, where he usually procured the services of young Thai hookers to keep him company. Lest I think such a thing was deplorable and filthy, he explained to me in great detail how regulated the "industry" was over there. Set rates, STD tests, even special hooker ID cards they had to present upon checking into hotels with their johns. Hardly any of Steve's vacation "companions" spoke a lick of English, so he'd always have to take the time at the beginning of the trip to teach his young lady how to properly talk dirty to him. Unfortunately, one of these young things decided to try out the hot talk while they were in the middle of the hotel piano bar. In garbled, heavily accented English, the hooker blurted out "I want you to stick your cock in my pussy!" during a lull in a Leonard Bernstein medley, stunning the entire evening crowd, along with the pianist, into silence.

I suppose it was right after that that Steve wandered onto the subject of blowjobs, or really, what constituted a good one. I had just picked up a huge pot from a sunglass boy with a broadway straight and was stacking my chips when Steve posed a question to me.

"So how do you girls learn?"


"To give blowjobs. Did you practice?"

"Well, once in college my roommate and I practiced on a breadstick."

"A BREADSTICK! What the hell did you think when you saw the real thing? You two would be ready for a big black man and the rest of us are all screwed!"

Steve cackled and spilled a little bit of beer on his cornflower blue button-down. Both of us had lost count of how many he'd drank and Lucy had gone off her shift anyway.

"All I know is that if I were a homosexual, I'd have to be a feeder. Two inches of banana and I'm gagging!" he said.

The table erupted. Soco practically shot out of my nose.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted Pauly on the rail. "If you'll excuse me, Steve, I think I see my friend."

"Friend, friend, friend. Who is this 'friend?' You're so mysterious. Look, is there shagging involved?"

Steve's eyes still had that hopeful glint there. The 10% of his beer-addled brain that still thought he could get me upstairs if he tried hard enough. I had almost $600 in my stack and was well on my way to a healthier bankroll thanks to my eight hours here. Time to bring down my mark and ruin the poor guy's fantasy.

"Yes, Steve. There's shagging involved."

I bid Steve goodnight, racked my chips, cashed out, and met Pauly on the rail.

"How'd you do?"

"Cashed out $600. Told the Brit we were shagging and crushed his dreams."

"Nice! Wanna play Mr. Cashman?"

"I thought you'd never ask."

I took his arm and we headed for the slots while Steve looked wistfully on.

Change100 is a film executive, writer, and degenerate gambler from Los Angeles, CA.

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