I told myself I would get back on these things and try to get these last few trip reports out quickly but that hasn’t really worked out for me. I think the biggest stumbling block is the fact that this post probably constitutes my favourite part of the trip and I really wanted to do it justice. I’m not sure that I did, but more time can only make it worse.
Surprisingly, the La Salsa party was the least memorable part of the evening. After spending the afternoon with my buddy – including a surreal trip through the M&Ms store – I arrived at La Salsa right at 5pm, but the party had obviously been hopping for some time prior to that. Everyone was half-ripped and I got into the spirit by ordering a yard of margarita. Coming late, I found it difficult to insert myself into many of the conversations. I did get to spend a little time discussing politics with the Prof and chatted with blogger consorts Pablo and John. It didn’t take long for us to decide that we needed to get some food and find our way back to a poker table so a group of us headed back to The Plaza.
When we got back to The Plaza there was a debate between those who just wanted to grab something quick so they could get to the tables and those that wanted to actually sit down for a bit. But not before we took a pull at the oversized slot machine that had been installed in front of the casino since we’d left in the morning. No one won anything, but Gracie captured some great pictures of our attempts. This sort of set the tone for the wackiness to ensue. Eventually we decided to eat across the road at the Golden Gate. I’d heard so much about the $0.99 shrimp cocktail that I just had to try one. Even when we were told there’d be a 15 minute wait for a table, we would not be deterred. Besides, everyone – which at this point was Gracie, Pablo, Nancy, April, John and Benjy – had already placed a drink order.
Unfortunately I’d arrived late from a quick pitstop in my room and I missed ordering. So I was left looking for some other way to pass the time. What do we have here? A bank of video poker machines. I hadn’t played a single -EV game so far on my trip (well, aside from the blogger tables) and I had a dollar in my pocket, so nickel slots seemed like a grand idea. I fed my bill into the first open machine, sat on the handy stool and started slapping buttons.
Bingo! Five of a kind! Sure, it’s a Deuces Wild machine, but that doesn’t stop me from cashing out with a good win. Like a good little -EV soldier, I decide to take my profit and run. Of course, we still have another ten minutes to wait. And like any bad little -EV soldier, after a couple minutes I sat down at the next machine (Jacks or Better). This time I had a couple railbirds as a pushed buttons like a madman. Best I could manage this time was a full house, but I quickly cashed out – in my fancy little Golden Gate coin bucket – and moved to the next machine.
By this point we were about to be seated but I would not be deterred from grinding out another win. Unfortunately my luck was fading and I only pulled a few extra nickels out of the machine when I realized my dinner companions were nowhere to be seen. I eventually tracked them down inside the restaurant and after some prompting from my tablemates, I started counting out the spoils.
The tally came out to $6.25, which besides being a 525% return on my investment, seemed a perfect amount to serve as ammunition in an impromptu poker game at the dinner table. Pablo pulled out a deck of cards while I distributed the coins and the game was on. Even the arrival of the starter salads was insufficient to stop the game, though sugar packets and creamers had been added to the mix as different players busted out (some repeatedly). Maybe people weren’t taking it seriously. All I know is that I played the hammer fast and furious and was rewarded with two pair on the turn and river for a sizable pot. But between the poker and the banter, people could hardly get food into their mouths without laughing.
Now, I do have to admit a certain disappointment in the 99-cent shrimp cocktail here. First, I was charged $1.99 for it, which I guess is the price in the restaurant, and it was really more of a shrimp sundae than a shrimp cocktail. Examine a sundae glass full of baby shrimp with cocktail sauce drizzled over it like fudge on an ice cream sundae and you’ll get an idea of what I’m talking about. You even eat it the same way, with a spoon. Not quite what I was expecting, but I guess for the price I can’t complain.
I also couldn’t complain about my six dollar prime rib. It was actually pretty tasty and came with a couple sides. Though I’d advise not using the horseradish on the baked potato, as someone at the table did. We decided to call break the poker game so that people could enjoy their food, but the jokes never slowed, including many digs at the Canadians at the table. Still, the shared meal stands as the highlight of my Vegas trip and the people there as my favourite of those I met. It is impossible for me to capture in words the hilarity of the night.
Everyone is still giggling about the nickels and they all decide that I should leave the bucket of nickels as our tip. As a polite Canadian, I cannot in good conscience do so and I appeal to their poker spirit, arguing that I didn’t want the bad karma at the tables. After hitting quads the previous night after treating Pablo and Iggy, I was starting to become a believer in cosmic balance. I did eventually agree to suggest to the cashier that I wanted to pay the bill in nickels and Gracie captured a terrific picture of her reaction (that I’ve borrowed). Once I told the cashier I was joking she smiled and starting chuckling to herself. As we were leaving, the stragglers heard her telling the story to her co-workers, so I was satisfied that my karmic balance remained undisturbed.
We decided to walk down Fremont St. to take in the downtown sites and to see some fancy drink makers someone had seen a few blocks down. We were (un)lucky enough to see The Fremont Street Experience as we walked and I’ve got to say that while the overhead screens are somewhat neat, the “Experience” is pretty lame. The atmosphere of being downtown is enough to make it interesting. And the “Cocktail” style drinkmakers were impressive as they made John a bubbling blue concoction. But by this point everyone was starting to go through withdrawal so we decided to hit up the Golden Nugget for a little poker action.
next: tilting, blackjack and bloggers talking poker
Despite the regular jokes by various members of the blogger community, the Canadian dollar is worth
$0.81 of an American dollar and an American dollar will buy you $1.22 Canadian. It is sometimes inconvenient, but as most prices for goods and services here are roughly equivalent to prices in the States, without the conversion, it can be a pretty good deal. Also, because every dollar I win at an online poker site is an American dollar, it’s worth that much more when I cash out.
The Las Vegas series:
Day 1 – A Grand Ol’ Time (part 1)
Day 1 – A Grand Ol’ Time (part 2)
Day 1 – Sunrise at The Plaza
Day 2 – I … See … Famous People
Day 2 – Storming the Castle
Day 3 – The Main Event
Day 3 – A Bucket of Nickels and the Shrimp Sundae
Day 3 – Nugget Poker
Day 4 – Finally, A Win!
Day 4 – Komol O
Day 4 – A Night in ‘The Suite’
Day 5 – Goodbye Las Vegas