Las Vegas, NV
The first sort by their own suggestions fell,Saturday night in Las Vegas. Nothing quite like it on the planet. I used to work in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and I used to stop in one particular gallery and gaze at a 19th century painting of God destroying Sodom (or was it Gomorrah?). If there was going to be a Judgement Day, I always figured Jesus and his army of angels would show up in a flying saucer on the outskirts of Las Vegas and torch the entire fucking city to the ground.
Self-tempted, self-depraved: man falls deceived
By the other first: man therefore shall find grace,
The other none
- John Milton, Paradise Lost
I stopped off at one of the hundred Bill's Smoke Shops in those elongated strip malls on Flamingo Road. I walked to my car and was approached by a young,skinny white woman in her 20s. She wore a jean shorts and tight wifebeater t-shirt, exposing a couple of small tattoos, particularly the ladybug on her wrist which stood out. Not wearing shades, she squinted her eyes and gave me her pitch -- something about her car breaking down -- yadda, yadda, yadda.
I was dubious. It takes a drug fiend to spot a drug fiend.
"I'm embarrassed," she said twice before asking for a few bucks.
"You should be embarrassed," I thought. "Because I know you're a fucking tweaker."
As far as tweakers go, she was rather good looking, and must have been in her initial stage of becoming a full blown junkie. I suspected she moved to Vegas a few months ago -- either following a deadbeat boyfriend or running away from one. She was flat-chested, so working the pole wasn't an option. For a second I wondered if she was a harlot, fresh on the job, because only a noob would work at 2pm in the blazing Nevada sun.
"Are you working?" I asked.
Before you think I'm trying to get a hooker in the middle of the day, I was using code that locals used to let working girls know you weren't interested, but more importantly, you weren't going to interfere with their trade.
"Working?" she paused before she said snapped, "I work as a waitress at ____ (insert locals casino here)."
That threw me for a curveball. Maybe she was a waitress after all who got stuck after he car broke down? I felt guilty about misreading the situation. Here was a damsel in distress and I flat out accused her of being a hooker. Swimming in guilt, I fished two crumpled up $1 bills out of my pocket and handed it to her.
"I'm so embarrassed, but thank you," she said.
"No worries," I replied before I got into my car and slid into the driver's seat.
She started to walk away and took two steps, before she whirled around and knocked on the window. I rolled it down and she blurted out, "If you want, I'll give you a blowjob for $50."
Everyone is a fucking hustler in Vegas.
I covered the final table of a Donkament. Owen "Ocrowe" Crowe was at his fourth donkament final table in four years. Our mutual friend Jesse Martin told me that Owen had final tabled events with field sizes of 2,447 (2008), 2,781 (2009), 3,128 (2010), and now 2,500.
Pros often knock Donkament fields (after all, a few of them coined the term which became popularized on the internet threads and went uber viral) and some refuse to play them. Other pros want to play in Donkaments because of all of the dead money (not to mention the experience they gain from playing in fields in excess of 2,000 runners).
A guy like Ocrowe, hybrid online and live tournament pro, thrives on the big fields. He's not afraid to walk onto the killing fields and stand firm when a thousand stampeding donkeys are headed his way. Ocrowe the true Zen warrior and can behead a dozen donks with one fluid motion. By the time he made the final table late on Day 3, his clothes were drenched with donkey blood. He was among the nine survivors. Their reward? A shitload of cash and a gold bracelet.
Ocrowe came ever-so close last summer when he finished in second place in one of the Donkaments. It almost seemed like destiny that he was going to finally break through for his first bracelet. He won an event at Commerce earlier in the year and this WSOP has been kind to last year's runner-ups -- Dan Idema shipped a bracelet the other night after coming in second place in the 2010 10K LHE championship.
Alas, it wasn't Ocrowe's time. He busted out in 4th place, despite never having a monster stack. All of the run good went to Andrew Frankenberger's end of the table. The former Wall Street trader turned poker god won the WPT's Player of the Year and was destined to win a bracelet. Frankenberger prevailed, thereby becoming the ultimate donkey warrior as he was the last person standing in the killing fields. From this day forward, he shall be called The Donkenator.
Inside the Mothership during Week 1
Photo courtesy of Wolynski
The final table of the Donkament was hosted inside the Mothership. About 50 or so people were scattered about in the crowd. Timtern and I hung out in the press area surrounding the final table and we recorded an episode of Tao of Pokerati, in which we described the lazy Saturday night scene. Listen to Mothership Stench.
Timtern was dealing with annoying railbirds. I feel for him because I understood his pain. Alas, complaining about annoying railbirds on the weekend is kind of like pros bitching about bad beats -- you know they are gonna come, so you just gotta suck it up and deal with them. This isn't a knock on Timtern or any of my media friends -- it's just a simple fact that we have to deal with when the crowds swell on the weekends. If you work in a bar, club, or some sort of place where people get super-shitfaced, then you know about the stress associated with the unpredictability of dealing with drunken retards.
Inside the Mothership, one guy took off his shoes and put his feet up on the row in front of him and dozed off. He was in the same exact spot as a pair of Japanese tourists who decided to nap there last week. I guess it's the one spot in the Mothership with the least amount of light, so it was the perfect place to pass out.
On the other side, a fat guy was deep into a one hour massage as he dicked around his CrackBerry. I got grossed out when she started massaging his armpit. Get a room, brah!
The guys with the bucket of beers were my favorite drunks sweating the final table. They placed the bucket on the actual rail separating the audience from the TV stage. Buckets of beer tells me two things -- they were seasoned alkies who didn't want to wait to get a second or third brewski, and they were intending on hanging out for the long haul. They were the most prepared railbirds in Vegas.
On the other side of the Mothership, a group of drunks were bragging about their booze consumption by building a wall of beer cans on the rail. They placed eight or so in a row and began a second story. Before they could finish, Robbie the floor guy and final table announcer told them they had to halt their construction project. He did it in a nice way and even commented, "Those young guys are outta control!"
And then the pungent aroma of homegrown marijuana wafted my way. I can sniff out a pothead from a half a mile away. It was good stuff too. I scanned the crowd to see if I recognized any known burners. I didn't recognize anyone, but someone that final table was holding some skunky-ass buds.
By the way, there's like four tables left in the Seniors' event including two names that I wish I made up -- Dick Harwood and Hans Pfister. That sounds like fake names you'd see in a Jackie Treehorn skin flick. I mean, they sound like they are straight out of a fetish video. I'm rooting for both of them to make the final table, heck, it would be awesome if they got heads-up. My mind is racing coming up with snarky, yet porn-themed headlines. Let's hope they both go deep, so I can share some of them with you.
That's it. For a quickie wrap, head over to RISE Poker and check out my WSOP Day 19 Recap.
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Also, help support indie writers and buy my books: Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers and the World Series of Poker, and my recently released novel, Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. Both are also available for Kindles and iPads.