Monday, November 16, 2009

Golden Angle Shooters at the Nugget

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The Golden Nugget.

It's the jewel amidst the thick layer of fecal matter covering Downtown Las Vegas. The Nugget underwent a renovation in recent years which made it the Bellagio of Downtown. OK, maybe I'll hyping up the place just a tad, but a newly installed carpet sans the stench of cigar smoke and urine makes the Nugget classy when compared to the other shitholes that help give Downtown its opaque reputation.

AlCantHang and Michael Craig engaged in a prop bet (specific details fuzzy but not important) where Al emerged victorious and decided that Michael Craig had to play in the worst possible tournament in Las Vegas. Al chose the 2am tournament at Binions filled with insomniacs, geriatrics, tweakers, grifters, and other zombie-like patrons that inhabit the poker room at that hour.

The 2am at Binions was a wise choice, but definitely not my pick for worst Las Vegas tournament. That would have to be the abomination at the Luxor -- where the first hour is limit hold'em and the rest of the tourney is NL. Ironically, the tourist-heavy Luxor donkament was the first ever Las Vegas tournament that I cashed in, which is sort of like bragging that you got laid for the first time by a tranny in a Tijuana brothel.

The game plan was Binion's at 2am during the off night of the November Nine. The WSOP final table began at noon on Saturday and halted when action reached heads up. The final two, Cada and Moon, were scheduled to play at 10pm on Monday night, which left Sunday night > Monday morning as the logical choice to fulfill the prop bet.

A small group of poker media were up for a mission to Binion's. Like combat-hardened marines in a hostile environment, we prepped for an ambush by insurgents. I was not about to wander by a darkened alley in Downtown Las Vegas without a bulletproof vest and a couple of razor-sharpened objects (homemade shanks made out of golf tees and Gorilla tape and parlay card pencils from the Gold Coast sports book).

We gathered at the staging ground... the Hooker Bar at the Gold Coast... and AlCantHang called an audible. Katkin did a little recon and discovered that the 2am at Binion's was not running. Instead, he suggested a 1am tournament at the Nugget which quickly became our new destination.

The Nugget is not quite the same atmosphere as Binion's with a slightly upscale appearance and the denizens of the Nugget, on average, had a higher median income and significantly more teeth. I was morbidly disappointed that our destination had changed. I wanted to go slumming and seek out a third world experience of casinos at Binion's. That was the entire point of the sojourn Downtown and taking a walk on the wild side. I had already arranged 3x my normal rate for a future Bluff column titled... The Night Michael Craig Got Stabbed in the Neck by a Toothless Hooker. Shit, I even penned the closing paragraph...
"Craig handed me his blood soaked notebook and gasped 'Please give... family heirloom... to my children.' The door to the ambulance slammed shut and the red and white emergency lights faded into the darkness of Downtown, but the echoes of the sirens and his dying request rattled inside my head."
All I needed was for my vision to become a reality and I didn't have to stage the event, on the contrary. All we had to do was show up en masse at Binion's, drink heavily, play like a Sacndi Eurodonk, and allow the natives to get restless. A fight was almost guaranteed with our crew, especially because I invited a couple of friends from Australia to join us. They were a rough and tumble bunch and spent many soused evenings at the Crown Casino in Melbourne. The Aussie crew (ironically made up of just one Aussie, a Kiwi, and a Canuck) were more than capable of handling themselves in a melee, but they were late arrivals.

I went for self-parking and my girlfriend squeezed my hand as we safely made passage through the parking structure. I told her that if we were going to get jumped -- it would be in the parking deck on the way out -- so I quickly showed her how to effectively stab an assailant in the neck. Just in case. Always be prepared, especially in these downtrodden times.

I got lost trying to find the poker room. I admit, it had been a while since I stepped inside the Nugget. I vaguely recollect acting as a look-out for a drug deal in the lobby back in 2005 when my professional Keno playing partner in crime secured an eight ball of horse tranquilizers for the Vegoose music festival. Alas, you'll have to wait until Lost Vegas comes out to read that story.

I navigated the narrow walkways. Space is a premium downtown and it's impossible to make a beeline to where you want to go inside the Nugget. We had to follow the labyrinth of slot machines and table games before we were spit out in front of the poker room. My friends were naturally gathered at the bar, while a few poker junkies were inside at the cash game tables.

I whipped out my notebook and started booking action. I came up with a last longer bet... $20 to join... first player to bust gets his tournament buy-in back (about $60) while the last player standing gets the rest. Ten of us ponied up the cash; AlCantHang, Michael Craig, Pauly, Change100, Otis, California Jen, Benjo, Lana, Katkin, and JD Newitt -- who was flush with cash after winning the Fitzgerald's nightly tournament an hour earlier.

I was seated at the same table as Change100, Jen, Benjo, Al, and Otis. My Aussie friends finally arrived. Jonno had come from a meeting and wore a suit and tie. He was better dressed than the Nugget's floor staff. His impeccable attire might have made him a target for thieves, but little did they know that Jonno was a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Jules and Graham wandered in and I had not seen my favorite couple Down Under since my last trip to OZ. Graham is a Kiwi and the most handsomenest man that I had ever met (not including Snoopy's model friend Patrik Antonius).

"That's a 'I like to suck cock' drink you got there," Graham quipped as he pointed at Jonno's "girlie" drink -- a bright green cocktail with multiple maraschino cherries floating around.

I really missed the Aussie crew and was glad that they got to partake in the 1am turbo. The Nugget might be the nicest casino Downtown, but they had horrible dealers. I'm usually not critical of dealers -- especially those humping the Sunday graveyard shift downtown -- but they made too many errors that affected the outcome of the tournament. There was one hand that should have been declared an obvious misdeal, but the dealer forced the action. The ensuing result? Benjo busted on a cooler against Jen on a flop of A-J-5. Jen had a set of fives and Benjo held A-J. That set Benjo off and he stormed out of poker room. There was no way he was about to give the Nugget any of his money in a cash game after that horrendous error.

Jules and I were also involved in a terrible call at the final table. I got there by playing like a maniac. I was raising hands blind and waiting until the flop to see my cards. I busted Katkin on a sick beat. He open-shoved with 8-8. I saw the Ad in my hand and quickly called before I glanced at the other card ... 4d. I liked the suited aspect of my hand -- but rivered an Ace to bust Katkin. That put me in the chiplead. Of course, I promptly busted in 5th place due to a dealer error, a shitty call from the floor guy, and a local tart who accused me and Jules of cheating. When I look back at the incident, I realized that I caught the local trying to angle shoot. No wonder she was so pissed when we tried to call her out.

Here's what happened. Jules was super short on chips. She was the small blind. I was the big blind. The local tart wore the most gaudy jewelery I had seen (more fit for a Jewish grandma on a cruise ship) and trying to dress like she was 25 instead of 55. The local tart was the button. This was the last hand before a color-up break. AlCantHang raised my big blind. I was pissed and barked "What the fuck, Al?" He shrugged his shoulders and I knew that Al was playing tight and had a good hand. I wanted to shove, but decided to fold because we had a break coming and I had to piss. I had the big blind and when we returned from the break, I was supposed to be the small blind. Except, the dealer was too focused on coloring up chips that he never moved the button. He was pushed during the break and the new dealer assumed that the button was correct.

Jules was down to her last four 1K chips. As the shortest stack in the tournament, she was well aware of the situation and was expecting to come back to the button. She protested as she sat down. The floor guy came over. Jules said that the button was wrong. I agreed, but the local tart pitched a hissy fit. "I never got my button!" she moaned which was bullshit -- because she just had it. She was trying to get the button twice.

The floor guy looked at the tart and nodded. The new dealer said something to the effect, "I just sat down. Check with (old dealer's name)."

The floor guy turned around and walked to the back of the poker room as I watched his every move. He stopped. Checked his cell phone. Then whirled back around and walked towards our table.

"The button is right."

The floor guy didn't ask anyone to confirm. He just made a decision without verifying and took the word of the local. That's not the first time that's happened to me. I've been discriminated against at Foxwoods, the Taj, the Star City in Sydney, the Bellagio, and now the Nugget. When it's a local vs. tourist ruling, the local almost always wins. Home field advantage.

At that point, I could have argued to death but there would have been nothing good to come out of it. I knew what was up. I was the "drunken tourist" (although I did not have one sip of booze the entire night and was in full control) in that situation and was deemed the loser. I originally chalked it up to a bad beat and just part of the horrendous tournament staff at the Nugget.

But then the local tart wouldn't let it go. She then accused both me and Jules of cheating. That set me off. She successfully conned us, and now she was rubbing it it.

What the fuck? That's what sleazetwats do when they get caught angle shooting. They turn it around and blame the victim. Heck, after her behavior and the crappy call from the floor guy, I had every right to suspect that the local tart and the floor guy were colluding together against us! Again, there was nothing I can do about it (except give the Nugget bad press).

Change100 was furious when the local tart accused me of cheating. "That's my boyfriend. He would never do such a thing."

Lana rushed to my defense, "Yeah we all know each other, but we're trying to bust each other. We have a last longer to prove it."

The local tart sent me on tilt. She also killed whatever fun vibe that was flowing around the room. I seethed in anger. That's a serious accusation that I don't take lightly, especially when we caught her trying to angle-shoot.

I have too much to risk to get caught in a cheating scandal, both live and online. I would never jeopardize my standing and reputation in the poker industry that I busted my ass the last five years to achieve. Why would I risk it all of that hard work on a dinky $6o tournament at the Nugget?

That local tart lost all respect from me and I started referring to her as a cunt which I unleashed to the Twitterverse. Pardon my French, but an honorable woman would never angle-shoot, get caught, then try to blame the people she was trying to cheat.

It got three-handed with the local cunt, Lana, and Change100. And those two, Lana and Change100, acted out a good cop/bad cop routine as they pestered the local cunt and tried to get her to tell them her name. She clammed up and then proceeded to put wicked beats on both Change100 (third place) and Lana (second place). I was really hoping that Lana would beat the local cunt heads up -- but she was a luckbox in addition to being an angleshooter.

Change100 asked the floor guy if he knew the local cunt. He lied and said, "Never seen her before."

Alas, I got the local cunt's full name (bribed a dealer $5 who said she was indeed a cunt and never tips) and I have the name of the floor guy who made the phantom call and misled Change100. Congrats on making my shit list, pal. You might be the dumbest floor guy in Las Vegas -- trying to pull a con against ten members of the poker media. I filed away his and her information for future use. In retrospect, I should have acted like the asshole and demanded a video playback. But I was there to have fun and firmly believed that I would overcome the cheating accusations and win the entire tournament. Alas, that never happened which is why I'm second guessing my decision to keep my mouth shut.

I went downtown to write about Michael Craig potentially getting stabbed at Binion's and little did I know that I would flee downtown after getting conned by a local and a floor guy in one of the oldest tricks in the book. It goes without saying that I'll never return to the Nugget to play poker again. I hope the poker room manager reads this because he needs to know what type of environment he's condoning. This post should have a sub-heading "Why I'll never play at the Golden Nugget ever again."

And the local cunt? Enjoy your winnings. I hope you get rickets and anal herpes.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

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