Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Aunt Emma

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

A disheveled woman sat down next to me. She wore a green terry cloth jacket. For a second I thought she walked into the casino wearing her bath robe. But she smelled like she had slept in her car, woke up, blew a snot rocket, smoked the ends of three week-old cigarette butts, then walked over to the Pai Gow table.

She tossed her player's card at the dealer. I could sense she was one of those bossy people who treated anyone in the service sector like they were inferior peasants. Her vibes exuded darkness. I reduced my bet right away. I felt a dismal storm coming and it wasn't gonna pretty.

I should have gotten up to leave, but I liked my table. Everyone was having fun considering it was a Pai Gow table. The WWII vet in the three seat was shithoused drunk on Budwesiers and kept the table loose, especially the two super quiet older Chinese guys at the table sitting on each respective corner.

I also liked my waitress. She was pregnant, but moved with the agility of a quarterback running the option. The casino was crowded for that time of day or night, it was hard to tell, which is why Vegas sessions often take on a narcotic-induced dream-like state. The pit was crowded and the waitress remembered to bring rum drinks on every pass, which was just the right amount of time before I was thirsty or before I took a bad beat and needed to drink off the steam.

The lady who sat to my right irked me on the first hand. I rarely (like 1% of the time) play the fortune bonus. The odds are nowhere close to what they should be. The house has an extra edge with the bonus, and that's how casinos squeeze a profit out of Pai Gow -- from degens chasing the Dragon and degens chasing the bonus.

"I don't play the bonus," I said politely.

"That's stupid," she snapped.

I ignored her and smiled at the dealer instead. I was trying to retain a semblance of focus and remain positive, but my eyes wandered across the pit to the other Pai Gow tables. Only one spot was open. I probably should've bailed at that moment, but I stayed. I wasn't going to let a crabby twat run me off of a Pai Gow table.

But, she kept pestering me about the fortune bonus. Needling me. Provoking me. I've gotten better at control my anger at the Pai Gow tables. I only snap at dealer's from the Imperial Palace because Harrah's employs bots and other alien hybrids to deal in the pits. I can get away with giving them guff because they know... 1) the real odds are much favorable than the gaunt odds Harrah's offers, and 2) they are trying to upsell me on something I don't want because if I wanted it -- I would have fucking bought it in the first place.

"Stupid," said the crabby twat every time I didn't play the bonus and it hit.

I remained silent. I knew what I was doing. I played a nauseating number of Pai Gow hands and due to that high volume, I would have lost more money if I played the bonus. I don't hit enough monster hands to justify it. Perhaps if I had a predisposition to quads and straight flushes, I would be playing the ENVY bonus every friggin' time. However, it is not the case, so I've save myself a little money in the long run and use that money for charitable causes like the Save the Stripper Fund of Nevada.

When players tell me to play the bonus (with the exception of Grubbette, because I know she's going to lay into me if she see my bonus circle bare), I flash them the NYC stink-eye to let them know to back the fuck off. I would never tell them to buy insurance at blackjack, and I would never, ever dare tell them how to bet in Pai Gow, so I ask the same respect in return.

But the woman next to me wouldn't shut the fuck up. I gave her enough stinkeyes to fumigate all of Toldeo, but either she was a recently released mental patient, or she secretly worked for Boyd Gaming as a cooler. I couldn't figure out why the hell she was badgering me because one of the other players didn't play the bonus and she didn't give him any guff.

She was catching me amidst semi-Pai-Gow-Tilt. Just before she sat down, I lost a big hand with a nine-high Pai Gow. That's not a typo.

Nine. High. Pai. Gow.

I didn't think it could get any worse, but it did. The Pai Gow gods were having a blast cold-decking my ass. I got the absolute worst fucking hand possible in Pai Gow. 2-3-4-5-7-8-9. Two hands later, I got dealt a ten-high Pai Gow. At that point, I was ready to pack it in and play three-card monte against crackheads on once of the pedestrian bridges over Las Vegas Blvd.

My internal tilt meter reached full throttle. Mega-Pai-Gow-Tilt was about to burst out of my forehead. Not only was I running bad, but the few times I won a hand with a straight or rare boat, the twat told me I was stupid. I think the stupid count was reaching 30 at that point.

Then it happened... the tipping point. I unfurled my hand and saw what I thought was a lock: 8-8-8-J-4 and 5-5. The dealer peeled off a flush and pocket sevens. Fuck me.

"Stupid!" the twat taunted. "Stupid! You lose, stupid!"

I snapped. "For the love of Buddha, will you shut the fuck up?"

I swear, the entire casino stopped and turned around. Of course, I looked like the bad guy -- the surly drunk sore loser yelling at a nice old Chinese woman.

I pointed across the pit and blurted out, "There's an open seat over there. I'd prefer it if you played at that table because you're annoying the shit out of me. So please stop yapping about the stupid fucking bonus and stop calling me stupid, otherwise, take a hike, Aunt Emma."

The pit boss heard my f-bomb and sheepishly darted over. We made eye contact and I instantly apologized for the crude language, but quickly explained to him what happened before he called in the thugs to taser my ass.

"She called me 'stupid' like 30 times," I said and my complain sounded a lot lamer than the severity of the insulting barbs.

The old drunk guy at my table slurred, "She's lucky she didn't say that to me. I would've slugged her."

I tried not to laugh, because I would've loved to have seen it happen. The twit pic would have been epic.

"Look, she's a bitter local," I told the pit boss, "I'm a tourist who had a long week and an even longer day of meetings and traveling. I came to your casino to have fun, get drunk, and gamble without being harassed. But she's ruining my good time by pestering me to bet the bonus when I politely explained I don't play the bonus, and then badgering me with taunting names. Sweet Jesus, if I wanted to be ordered how to live my life and told that I was stupid for my decisions, then I would have went to my mother's apartment in the Bronx and played her heads-up Pai Gow while she got shitfaced and berated my life choices."

I pushed my green chips to the center of the table and requested a color up. I mumbled something about going to the Bellagio where they have a more sophisticated clientele. That's when the pit boss actually did something surprising -- he asked me to stay and ordered the lady to sit at the table across the way. Wait, what? Usually the staff sides with locals on all disputes.

The twat cursed in an unintelligible dialect and snatched the rest of her chips (at that point she had almost blow through her entire buy-in) and kicked her chair backward with an unexpected back kick like a mule. Her chair toppled to the ground. I whirled around and picked it up.

The pit boss apologized and wrote me up a comp (it was for the fucking buffet, but a nice gesture) and apologized again for the woman's rude behavior.

"She's a troublemaker," he explained.

The dealer, who had been silent the entire time, nodded in agreement. Oh now she responds? A better dealer would have seized control of the table the moment she noticed the twat was busting my balls and berating a fellow player. That's when I noticed the dealer never blinked once. I thought the dealer might've been a bot, or one of those Reptilian shape-shifters I've been reading about on 2012 forums.


  1. Bet the bonus!!

    Actually, I'd give you the same deal I give F-Train. Any hand 5-Aces and above we split the profit, because seeing bare Pai Gow bonus circle is a sad sight and I'd play both.

  2. "if I wanted to be ordered how to live my life ..."

    Absolutely perfect line you penned