Friday, December 15, 2006

Seven Deadly Sins Part II: Wrath

The non-linear Las Vegas trip reports continue...

Inappropriate feelings of hatred and anger. Denial of the truth, both to others and in the form of self-denial. Impatience with the law, or seeking revenge outside of justice, such as with unnecessary vigilantism. Wishing to do evil or harm to others. A modern definition would also include anger towards others for no good reason, such as their race or religion, leading to discrimination. 'Minor' sins born of Wrath are some of the most serious, including murder, assault, discrimination, and genocide. Wrath is the only sin not associated with selfishness or self interest. Dante described Wrath as "love of justice perverted to revenge and spite."
I was pissed off after I got stuck 1K. I was once told it's "better to be pissed off than pissed on." But that mantra could not change the mean streak that illuminated my eyes as I grew increasingly more livid when my putrid gambling losses rose over 2K.

"I gotta get unstuck."

Nothing is worse in Las Vegas than desperately jumping into the deep end of the abyss while trying to chase a loss at a -EV game... by playing more -EV games. Behavior like that is what makes casinos super profitable and allows guys like Steve Wynn to punch holes into a $139 million Picasso painting without blinking an eye.

I fell victim to my own weaknesses of greed as I lost self-control. The pit games sucked the life out of my bone marrow and crushed my soul like a bug's ass going through his brains on a windshield at 85 mph on a California freeway.

"Greed is good," echoed the sentiments of Gordon Gekko from Wall Street, my favorite movie of all time.

Greed might be good, but it makes you do horrible things underneath the bright lights of Las Vegas. Once its spell has been cast, you have no other choice than to ride out the poison as it rushes through your veins. The true darkside of human nature is just once impulsive act away from distinguishing a story from being a comedy or a tragedy. In my case, it started out a comedy than took the wrong turn.

"I gotta get unstuck."

Dawn witnessed the darkside. I unleashed it at 2am early Monday morning. The beast had been lurking in the shadows until I snapped and all the frustration and anger spewed out of me. I had been drinking excessively. My gambling losses were racing towards 3K. I lost control.

Dawn described it as:
I then watched Pauly go on extreme Pauly tilt and threaten to beat Snail Trax in the face for talking about him behind his back.
"But we did it right here. Where you could hear us. And we're just trying to cheer you up."
Pauly was having none of it and slammed his remaining stack of red chips and his single gray chip into the betting circle.
"Going for broke, eh?" F-train commented looking at Pauly.
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I said a light bulb illuminating over my head.
"HA! Wow, I totally just now got that saying." I said.
F-train laughed.
Pauly pushed.
And? A push is a win! Win-Gow!
F-train went on tilt cause when Pauly went all-in, he was gonna go all-in, but it was too late... and since he won his hand, he would have gotten the Doble.
Yeah, Daddy and Change100 wee trying to figure out a way to cheer me up. And anyone who's been stuck knows that there's only one way to feel better... and that's getting unstuck.

The run got so ugly that I pissed away $500 at a $15 Pai Gow Table inside of an hour. What the fuck? That was today's Tao of Poker's What the Fuck Moment? Talk about getting cold decked. One female dealer from Korea smacked me around so much that I forgot how to play the game for a few minutes as I blankly stared at my hand, caught in a haze of Pai Gow amnesia.

At one point I was betting almost $100 on a single hand and lost all semblance of discipline. I had a Zen-like moment as I glimpsed into Otis mind for a few moments during his tumultuous run at the Pai Gow tables at the Gold Coast this past summer where he was betting $800 on a single hand.

"I gotta get unstuck!" I screamed at the dealer... at the cocktail waitress... at my brother... at anyone.

Shortstacked, I moved all-in four times in a row at the Pai Gow table. I chopped once and won three other times. I went from short-stack to a decent stack but promptly donked it off in true fashion. I woke up wearing the prototypical "Las Vegas Loser" shirt that day and my anemic poor luck lingered with me all day like an atrocious case of the clap. Yes, I was stuck so badly my penis hurt every time I had to go pee. I was bleeding so much cash at that point, I would piss Twenty dollar bills into the urinal.

The NFL games on Sunday killed me. Killed. Me. I started out hot after nailing two picks from Miami Don and then the action went spiraling out of control. I lost the next two big bets by close margins. Vince Young scored a TD in over time which sent me on mega-tilt for the rest of the trip. That would become the flashpoint for a mudslide of loses. Craps. Pai Gow. NFL. NBA. Prop bets. Ugliness.

I felt like Philip Seymour Hoffman in Owning Mahoney. My descent into degenerate madness was disturbing. Haunting. Chilling. Adding liquor to the mix kept the inferno raging as every one hundred dollar bill in my wallet slowly evaporated. I keep my gambling money separate from my bankroll and I was tempted to start peeling Benjamins off of my poker roll to help get unstuck.

"I gotta get unstuck."

That's what Sunday and Monday Night football are for. Those are the two most heavily bet games in Las Vegas. Why? Because degenerates like me have to get unstuck. But they don't and that's how people lose their spouses, houses, jobs, cars, and their dignity.

Maybe I really want to lose? Losing gives me something to get angry about. I had been in a relatively good mood the last few months. Maybe I'm addicted to anger, which often gets me fired up.

I'd eventually drive out of Las Vegas back to Hollyweird uttering those exact words, "I gotta get unstuck. Thank god for bookies."

Grubby and I have often talked about addiction and greed and the psychology of becoming addicted to losing. We both agreed that nothing sums that up better than what Dan Gilroy wrote in Two for the Money when Al Pacino's character crashes a Gamblers Anonymous meeting and gives the following soliloquy:
You're a lemon. Like a bad car. There is something... there is something inherently defective in you, and you, and you, and me, and all of us. We're all lemons. We look like everyone else, but what makes us different is our defect. See, most gamblers, when they go to gamble, they go to win. When we go to gamble, we go to lose. Subconsciously. Me, I never feel better than when they're raking the chips away; not bringing them in. And everyone here knows what I'm talking about. Hell, even when we win it's just a matter of time before we give it all back. But when we lose, that's another story. When we lose, and I'm talking about the kind of loss that makes your asshole pucker to the size of a decimal point - you know what I mean - You've just recreated the worst possible nightmare this side of malignant cancer, for the twentieth goddamn time; and you're standing there and you suddenly realize, Hey, I'm still... here. I'm still breathing. I'm still alive. Us lemons, we fuck shit up all the time on purpose. Because we constantly need to remind ourselves we're alive. Gambling's not your problem. It's this fucked up need to feel something. To convince yourself you exist. That's the problem.

You know, the best part of the best drug in the world isn't the high. It's the moment just before you take it. The dice are dancing on the table. Between now and the time they stop, that's the greatest high in the world.

... to be continued.

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