Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Freeze Out

This should be the last post about my December trip to Vegas.  So it's a good thing I arrived in Vegas on Friday to celebrate my birthday (which was yesterday).  I need more stories about Vegas and poker, seeing as how this is Rob's Vegas & Poker Blog.  Hopefully I'll be able to get some posts for you while I'm still here.

The temperature during that December trip was uncomfortably cold.  I don’t mean the outside temperature, although it was certainly a helluva lot colder than someone like me, who has spent most of his life in balmy Los Angeles, likes it.  I’m referring to the temperature in most of the casinos and poker rooms I visited.

Since this is 2017, you would think science would have invented something that keeps the temperature inside structures at a reasonably comfortable level.  But apparently modern heating & air conditioning systems haven’t progressed to that level quite yet.

This story took place on my very last full day in Vegas, so it was already the New Year.  I had spent a few hours during the day at the Aria not cashing in their tournament.  You can read about that here.  What I didn’t mention in that post is that after an hour or so, the temperature in the poker room over there was quite uncomfortable for anyone who wasn’t a polar bear. 

After I left Aria, I headed over to my usual room to play my final cash session of the trip.  And froze.  The first table I was at was in the back of the room, not far from the utility door I’ve mentioned before, which gets constantly opened and lets the cold outside air in.  Actually though, on this night, I’m not sure that cold air from outside was any colder than the air blasting through the casino’s A/C ducts.  I was actually too cold to concentrate on the poker.

But the game was short-handed and I knew I wouldn’t be able to table-change to try to find a warmer spot, at least for awhile.  The issue resolved itself when the table got so short-handed it actually broke.  I was allowed to take any empty seat in the room and found one at the table farthest away from the draft.  Usually that table is fine, but not on this night.  I think perhaps because the room (and the casino) was not particularly busy, it was cold everywhere.  But at least this location was an improvement from my first table.  I was only moderately uncomfortable instead of freezing my ass off.

I was ridiculously card dead.  It was very frustrating because I was really hoping to finish the trip with a bang.  Instead, I just kept folding hand-after-hand. I was actually up for awhile taking a small pot or two, but had dropped down to about a $50 loss when this table thinned out as well.  Between open seats and a walker we were playing 4 or 5 handed, and finally someone called the floor over and requested that we break the game and fill up open seats at other tables if possible. 

Well, it was indeed possible as there were three tables with two open seats each and it turned out that only two of us left wanted to keep playing.  I was one and the other one was Boris.

Boris was a Russian fellow who denied being Russian.  I mean, he had a Russian accent but when I asked him if he was Russian he said no. He insisted he was from New Jersey.  Poker players tend to lie and I knew he was lying.  OK, if he wasn’t from Russia, he was certainly from that part of the world.  Let’s put it this way, he sounded a lot more like Putin than he did Tony Soprano.  Note:  I was actually going to call him “Putin” but I remembered I already called another player Putin in a post from about three years ago.  Can’t repeat myself.  So I’m calling him Boris after Boris Badenov.  Perhaps Boris wasn’t from Russia after all and was too embarrassed to admit he was really from Pottsylvania.

Anyway, Boris was a strapping lad—tall, blond, and dare I say, rugged.  I only point that out because even in short sleeves, he didn’t act in any way like the cold was bothering him.  In fact, like Putin, he looked like the kind of guy who would be happy to go around shirtless in any kind of weather.  On the other hand, I had totally dressed for the cold weather.  I had a long undershirt, a long-sleeve shirt and of course my ski jacket.  And I was still cold.

Now the floor person who broke the game was new to me.  I may have seen him once or twice this trip but I don’t think I’d seen him before that.  In other words, he didn’t know me like most of the floor people over there do. Not that that likely would have changed anything. 

He pointed out the three tables that had opened seats.  One was actually farther away from the cold part of the room and the other two were right smack in the middle of freezing zone.  He didn’t tell us which to go to so I immediately went over to the one that was farthest from the problem area.  I didn’t notice but Boris apparently headed there too. 

So I took one of the two open seats and started to settle in, only to see the floor man come over and tell Boris and me that one of us would have to go to other side of the room because he couldn’t fill up this table while other tables each had more than one open seat.  “One of you is going to have to go to one of the other tables.”

There was no way I was going to go the side of the room where I knew it was freezing cold.  Not a chance.  So I said, “I’m not going to one of those other tables.  I was there earlier and it was freezing over there.”  He turned to Boris and asked if would go to other side of the room, or if he wanted to draw for it.  “Let’s draw for it,” Boris said, rather gleefully.

Yeesh.  So I said, “Well, if I lose, I’m not playing over there, I’ll just leave.”  The floorman asked Boris again if he wanted to draw for it, or if he would just go over there.  “We’re in a casino, let’s gamble.”  Now, I can’t say this with absolute certainty, but I don’t think Boris had objection to playing at one of the other tables on the other side.  He never went over there to check them out.  He didn’t seem cold—and unless he was paying attention to what I said, he didn’t even have any reason to know that it was colder on the other side of the room.  But he was Russian and he liked to gamble.

I was pissed but well, I had a 50-50 chance of winning the draw.  So the floorman spread a deck out on a nearby empty table and we drew cards.  Boris took a card first.  It was a 6.  But wouldn’t you know, my card was a 4.  I wasn’t surprised.  I told you I was card dead all night.  All I needed was a measly 7 and I couldn’t find one.

Boris started celebrating.  Seriously, he was acting like he just won the Main Event.  I’m not kidding.  He was jumping up and down and cheering and saying, “Look at that, I drew a crummy 6 and I still won!”

I said, “Well, I’m done then, I’m not going over there.”  And I started to gather my things.  The floorman didn’t believe me.  “There’s two tables over there, you can go to either one.”  I said no, it was too cold to play over there and I was done.  And so I took my chips and cashed out. I definitely left with a bad taste in my mouth.

I know the floorman was just following procedure, which I’m pretty sure is the same at every room. But honestly, isn’t there a better way?  I had been playing longer than Boris. Maybe that should have entitled me to have first choice of tables?  They could easily confirm that I was playing in the room before Boris by checking their Bravo system.  Maybe that would be fairer?

I mean, suppose Boris had just gotten to the table, had played only one or two hands when the game broke?  Would it still be ok to decide by draw instead of putting Boris in the back of the line?  Maybe the rooms should consider giving preference to the person who’s been in the room longer?

But it was Boris that really pissed me off.  I believe he had no reason at all not to want to play at the other table.  He just wanted to gamble.  Thrilling, a bet over who gets a seat on one side of the room.

If he didn’t have any preference and he knew I did, couldn’t he have been a sport and just let me have the seat?  Is that too much to ask?  I kind of think he was being a dick.

So that was it, I took off.  I would have played another hour, but instead, I called it an early night.

I’ll never know what happened, but is it wrong for me to hope that Boris lost half-a-dozen buy-ins at that table?


  1. Me thinks your car lacks a cold weather survival bag? Or a survival bag in general? You needed a stocking cap Rob! While your ski jacket is a nice touch, if you were still cold a good stocking cap might have been all that was needed. I could envision you wearing cotton gloves with the fingertips cut off warming them over your cup of hot coffee on the poker table (like the GI's in the Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge).

    As for the Russian, yes, he was being a dick. He would have fully appreciated you muttering "mudak" as you walked away!

    1. OMG...I don't want to have to dress for the Siberian winter while inside a poker room. Especially during June, during the WSOP, when it's colder inside the Rio than it is on Mt. Charleston in January.

      I'll remember Mudak for next time, thanks Lester.

  2. Happy Birthday!