THE BIG SLEEP (Or Complete Lack Thereof) By North Shore Mike at BARGE 2003 (A Serial in Four Installments)
NOTE TO THE UNINFORMED: BARGE is the Big August Rec.Gambling Excursion, a thirteen year-old tradition of drunken degenerate gamb00ling and debauchery that is unparalleled in the annals of time, except for my home game. It is held annually in Las Vegas on the first weekend in August. If you haven't been, you should; just like Vegas itself, it must be experienced at least once in one's life. Visit www.barge.org for more information.
DISCLAIMER: This trip report is based on a true story, which means, just like in Hollywood, absolutely nothing. The author's PDA (a spiral bound 3x5 Mead notebook with cheap pen shoved in the spiral) came home with nary a single note, so all embellishments, exaggerations, and outright fabrications are meant only to entertain and amuse; please, no wagering.
I AM SIXTEEN, GOING ON SEVENTEEN
It's been two years. Two long, painful years since losing my BARGE virginity, and, unlike most virgins, I can't wait for my next experience. My anticipation and excitement rival that I felt awaiting the final Police Academy sequel. I am sixteen again.
A slow, road-rage inducing drive through late afternoon Vancouver traffic and I arrive at the door of South Shore Murray Logan, my home game nemesis, and traveling companion for this long-awaited journey. Murray will be attending his first BARGE himself this year, and I take great care to explain that it's not all it's cracked up to be, and to not allow himself to be too disappointed at what he experiences over the next five days. The fool believes me.
After being dropped at Vancouver International by Murray's wife, the beautiful Princess Leah, we encounter, at the Alaska Airlines check-in desk, a line-up the length of Robert Downey Jr.'s rap sheet. I wonder aloud if they're giving away free beer. Eventually, we hear music to our ears: "Would all passengers flying on flight 694 to Las Vegas please come to the front of the line?" We bound gleefully past the other weary travelers, sticking our tongues out at those who dare to make eye contact. My twenty-dollar Wal-Mart wheeled duffle loses an axle during the sprint: bad beat number one.
Security check-in is quick and painless. Well, mostly painless: my stainless steel hip flask full of Bombay Sapphire is seized, as is Murray's. Security officers promise to return the flasks after they have been emptied of their evil contents. Murray's flask is returned empty, as promised. A fine young gentleman returns my vessel to me, saying with a wink, "I left a sip for you." I shake the flask; it appears half full! I kiss his spit-shined jackboots, shake his hand, and promise to send him a Christmas card. Good beat number one.
Two and a half hours later, after a couple of victory toasts from the Flask of Good Beats, and a cribbage game during which Luck Bucket Logan kicked my ass to the tune of four bucks, we land in Shangri-La. A quick pickup of luggage, and we meet Tom "Aardvark" Hummel per our pre-arranged pre-arrangement, and head to the limo stand. I warn Tom that a quick detour to a liquor store is needed, and he suspiciously says he doesn't mind. Our driver takes us to a Von's. Booze in grocery stores: I love America. (If any of my American readers don't understand this last comment, come to Vancouver and try to get a cold beer to go, anywhere, after 11:00 pm. And the closest thing to alcohol that grocery stores carry is salted peanuts.)
We emerge from Von's two hours later (gotta love flat-rate limos), laden with gin, lemons, limes, cigarettes, bread, sixty-four slices of American cheese, a National Enquirer, and a paring knife. To BARGE, driver, and be quick about it! Moments later, we stumble out of the limo into the waiting arms of the Golden Nugget doormen. Tony "Karma" Goldstein is waiting to greet us, obviously forewarned of our arrival by Las Vegas Metro Police.
We ask for a north tower room at the Nugget, as I recalled wearing out at least 2 pairs of Shoe Warehouse specials the last time I stayed in the south tower: it's approximately seventeen miles from Fremont Street. Good beat: north tower room available. Bad beat: smoking room. Good beat: I smoke. Bad beat: Murray doesn't. We negotiate. He balks. I kick him in the shins. He acquiesces. I love passive players. But I must promise not to smoke in the room, so I give in. The fool believes me. We dump our bags in the room and are back on the elevator, bound for Binion's poker room, before our hotel room door latches shut.
THE COCK KNEED REBEL
We immediately get into a rockin' rammin' jammin' 4/8 Hold'em game, the inhabitants of which I cannot recall. I do recall one r00ling moment: ADB tiger transfers to the table, carrying a rather large scotch, and about 3 racks of white...in his hat. I say, "Nice rack, sir." Of course, he looks down at his chest, to raucous laughter. There is also another player, apparently a local, whose accent gives him away as being a native of London's east end. His name is Derek, and he says he's known as the Cockney Rebel. I immediately begin to refer to him as The Cock Kneed Rebel, craving acceptance from my fellow BARGE'ers through laughter, and they don't disappoint. This guy's voice sounds like he just drank gasoline, with a road gravel chaser. I find him mildly entertaining for about 3 minutes, but he talks louder and longer than ADB Kevin Un, so he becomes tiresome. He claims to be a morning radio personality, failing to explain why he's still playing cards and boozing at 1:00 am. He claims to be a 30/60 player, failing to explain why he's playing 4/8 at Binion's. He also fails to explain why the BARGE'ers at the table wind up with most of his chips. That, I can explain: he sucked. This man was the railbird's railbird, who just happened to have mooched a C-note to play in a 4/8 game. Only a matter of time before he hit someone up for a loan; I was terrified that he knew my name. (Cue ominous music.)
The remaining hours of the evening-slash-morning are like the Watergate Tapes: a great big gap, only it's like 18 hours, not 18 minutes. I vaguely recall meeting many old friends, such as Scott "Scottro" Harker, Sean "Oscar" McGuiness, Michael "Mickdog" Patterson, Walter "Walter" Hunt, and a host of others. I played through the night, cashed out at 10:30 am ahead about a rack (boy, I sure know how to maintain a solid hourly rate), realizing I must shower so I stink better for the noon BARGE limit hold'em tournament. I stumble across Fremont, successfully avoiding the Golden Nugget's crack security team, then shower and have breakfast with Murray in the Carson Street Café. He bores me with tales of how much fun BARGE is. (Yawn.)
I SUCK, THEREFORE I.WELL.I JUST SUCK
Prior to the tournament, I stop at the table (wo) manned by Eileen and Erin Milligan to pick up my home set of 400 BARGE chips. This year's design, created by the 2002 BARGE No-Limit Hold'em Champion, Mike "Howler" McBride (with the always able assistance of Patrick Milligan), was so beautiful I just had to buy a whole bunch of 'em. Each chip color is adorned with a different historical work of art, all holding "Presto". My favorite is the Michelangelo "hand of god" yellow chip. Magnificent work, Howler. Barely avoiding an aneurism (man, those things are *heavy*), I lurch erratically towards my assigned tournament seat.
I played wonderfully, making huge laydowns, and snapping off huge bluffs. (Pause now for riotous laughter.) Actually, I just don't recall much of anything in this tournament; I was still mildly, uh, intoxicated. Obviously, I had a good time, because I was later quietly chastised for my foul language; belated apologies to all I may have offended. After busting out fairly early, and paying Mickdog ten bucks for my only last-longer bet, I travel with my other home game buddy, Ron "Duke Mantee" Nutt, and Seth Maixner, leader of the 2003 BARGE Virgins, to the Gambler's General Store. I pick up a box of playing cards for my kids, and a beautiful mahogany-lined chip case for their father, complete with a set-up of KEM cards.
I must sleep. No, I must eat, then sleep. So Murray, Seth and I join the Family Milligan for dinner at the Nugget's Carson Street Café, my favorite coffee shop in Las Vegas, where I thoroughly enjoyed the best brisket sandwich west of the Gold Spike. Talk ranges from poker chips, to Patrick's poker tournament clock software, to, um, some other stuff, I think. I am now approaching 36 hours of drunken awakedness, and once again the details go blurry. I really, really, needed to get some sleep. But, alas, one of the mo' funner BARGE events was nearing its' start time.
YOU SEE HORSE, I SEE HORSE, WE ALL C-HORSE
The team C-HORSE event is one of my favorites. As the name suggests, teams of six compete in six different games: Crazy pineapple, Hold'em, Omaha/8, Razz, Stud, and stud Eight or better. The flop games are played on one table, the board games on another; at the end of each round, each team's stacks are balanced, and we do it all again, until a fixed number of rounds, or fixed time limit, is reached. The team with the most money wins. It's a blast.
Team Moosecock (our name comes from the punchline of the funniest joke ever written.just ask Murray Logan) consisted entirely of Canadians: Me (hold'em) Murray, (Stud/8), Ron "Duke Mantee" Nutt (CP), John Harkness (Razz), Ken Kubey (O/8), and virgin Ali Mohajer (Stud). Okay, okay, Ken and Ali are not really Canadians, we drafted them via e-mail, but Ali correctly identified the Toronto hockey team as the Make Believes, and Ken can say "eh"? with the best of 'em.
Well, I did *my* job, as our stack on the flop table increased every round I played but one; everybody else sort of floundered (kidding, boys). But Ali won a huge stud pot right near the buzzer to drag us, kicking and screaming, into profitability. Total team profit: twelve bucks. High fives all around, boys! However, I do lose a double-sawbuck each to Scottro and Mickdog, as their respective teams beat us in the standings, we finished sixth of nine entries.
I may have played some poker after that. Or not. But, fuelled by many Michelobs, I felt rejuvenated, so I eagerly accepted a gracious invitation to the craps pit from Peter "ADB Foldem" Secor and Chris "ADB Ploink" Straghalis. Danger awaits.
COMING SOON IN PART II
-I Wouldn't Join Any Club That Would Have Me As A Member
-Death March 2003 (or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Action Bob)
-Goodnight, Sweet Prince
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