Tuesday, December 25, 2007

My first Christmas bonus, part 3

So the Scumbags get into Tahoe that Friday evening and find two rooms in a seedy motel near the casinos at Stateline, preparing to spend most of a weekend gambling. The seedy motel was Rob Fulop's choice, but none of us protested. This was before serious money would be thrown at game programmers, and we weren't about to be extravagant with accommodations we didn't expect to spend a lot of time visiting.

We went to Harrah's and split up, going to our respective games. Bob Polaro hit the blackjack tables and Rob, Dave Johnson and I went to the poker room. 1980 was before the game of hold 'em had completely taken over the poker universe, so there were several tables playing other games, notably stud and lowball. Rob signed up for the $10-$20 hold 'em game, I put my name on the list for the $1-$2 hold 'em game, but it was full and the waiting list was long, so I joined Dave Johnson at the open seven card stud game.

I ran through about $40, two $20 buy-ins, in about 90 minutes, chasing a little too much and watching some quality hands cracked by better hands. Dave was doing well, so I stood up and went to see how the other Scumbags were faring.

The $10-$20 table was on the other side of the poker room, and the best view of it was to go outside that area and stand at the rail, the waist high wooden barrier where passersby could gawk at the poker games, the place where the tourists could take a look at folks who were probably professional gamblers. Rob was sitting thoughtfully behind a truly impressive stack of chips. He looked up and saw me, and gave a thumbs up-thumbs down gesture asking how I was doing. I let him know that I was in the minus, and with hand gestures asked him if the stack in front of him was two buy-ins worth of chips. No, it was just one buy. The stack, nearly $1,000, was almost all profit!

Whether or not all the other players in the $10-$20 were pros or not, many certainly looked the part. I watched for a few hands and Rob decided to play a hand finally when he was in the big blind. He bet after the flop, and several players also bet, including an older man who at the very least affected the look and speech of a Texas pro, emulating the cowboy hat and denim look popularized by famed gamblers like Doyle Brunson, Johnny Moss and Amarillo Slim Preston, who is pictured above. On fourth street, Rob checked and the Texan bet. Rob called. Fifth street came and Rob checks once more to the Texan, who bets. Rob check raises and the Texan bets back at him.

Rob asks the question no one ever wants to hear at the table. "How much do you have left?" The Texan is on a short stack and if there are only two players left, many poker rooms allow two players to put in as many bets as they both agree to. The Texan puts in his last chips and Rob calls. Rob has three of a kind, with a Jack on the flop hitting his pocket pair. The Texan made two pair on fourth street. The Texan could re-buy, but instead he stands up, tugs on his cowboy hat, adjusts his silver belt buckle, looks over at the baby face of Young Rob Fulop and loudly proclaims, "Well, Ah guess school... is OUT!"

The Scumbags get back together to have a bite at one of the many reasonably priced buffets. I ask Rob if he was really that much better than the table. "No, they are better than I am, but they were playing me like I was a tourist. My profit was largely a matter of being underestimated." I told him I thought the Texan's exit line was a classic. Rob said that the real Amarillo Slim originated perhaps the greatest exit line after losing at a poker table.

Slim had lost several thousand one wintry Nevada evening, and got up to leave. "Where you goin', Slim?" a fellow player asks.

"No one knows where the hobo goes when it snows." was Slim's only reply.

"Well, everybody else is on their way to meeting their goals." I said. "But I haven't so much as said hello to a Keno girl yet."

"That reminds me." said Dave. "I feel like playing Keno." Dave then proceeded to take a dollar out of his wallet and dropped it on the ground. "The odds about the same." We all laughed and the message was clear. I might chat up a Keno girl, but actually playing Keno would not be considered cool by the other Scumbags.

We saw some shows, did some more gambling, slept and showered in our seedy motel rooms, only to put our only clothes back on that weekend. I was down about $200 on Saturday, but made a rush at hold 'em and stud to get back to about $10 down for the trip. Everyone else ended up on the plus side of the gambling ledger.

On the trip back, I took a turn driving from Dave. Just outside Sacramento, we were on the freeway, driving in the fast lane, when we came up on an old tall pickup truck in the fast lane driving side by side with a Porsche in the next lane over. There was no room to pass, so I moved over a lane to get behind the Porsche.

"I don't think the guy in the truck knows the Porsche is there." I said, and no sooner than I said it, the truck signaled for a lane change right into the Porsche. The Porsche driver slammed on his brakes and went into a skid, spinning 180 degrees, facing the oncoming traffic, most notably the first in line of oncoming traffic.

Me and the Intercontinental Ballistic Mustang.

"Hold on!" I said, over some really heartfelt screaming from the other Scumbags. I downshifted, applied the brakes and slid over into the open lane to the right of the Porsche. If he had spun 190 degrees instead of 180, our rear panels would have clipped each other.

The screaming died down. "We should go back to make sure everybody's okay!" said Dave.

"We're not going back." I said. "Is everybody in this car okay? Rob?"

"Sure." said Young Rob. "I hear all the screaming, opened my eyes and thought, 'Okay, I'm dead.'"

"Not just yet." I said. "You've got a bonus check and all that Texan's money to spend."

And so ended the last of the many happy highlights of the first Scumbag-athon.

Merry Christmas to y'all!

And a joyous yuletide to my most recent addition to the Flags of Many Lands™, Ghana! This visitor was sent to me by Google after typing in "I am a professional dominatrix in Nigeria." There was a month's worth of Lotsa 'Splainin' posts where "am", "Nigeria" and "professional dominatrix" showed up, but not in the same sentence. I don't expect much repeat business from this particular happy wanderer of the World Wide Web.

Now playing: The Ramones - When I Was Young
via FoxyTunes


FranIAm said...

Wow, what a great tale of Scumbaggery adventure!!! Thanks Matty.

And the near car crash scene, I am imagining it in the big screen version, should that ever come out. Who will play Matty Boy?!

As for the flag thing, you are way ahead of me with African flags now. Do you have a Burkina Faso?

I got an Algerian one the other day with the search words "priests who hate Christmas". Which, if according to theoughts of the several priests I know are indicative, could be many.

Nigerian dominatrixes who love priests who hate Christmas, now there is another story altogether.

Merry Happy and Bright Everything to one of my very favorite denizens of the blogworld.

Matty Boy said...

I don't have a Burkina Faso. My African collection is sparse, most especially compared to my European collection which is almost complete except for the postage stamp places like San Marino, Vatican City, et al.

As for casting Scumbag-athon I, I might go with an all Buffy-verse cast.

Matty Boy = Nick Brendon
Young Rob = Seth Green
Bob Polaro = Danny Strong
Dave Johnson = Eric Balfour

If any of the Scumbags stumble on this, I'm sure I'll have Lotsa 'Splainin' 2 Do about the casting.

dguzman said...

Heart-pumping action, matty boy. What a life you've lived.

Splotchy said...

This was a great story! Thanks a lot for sharing.

Oh, as far as Imagic games, I was always partial to Demon Attack. I'd love to hear more about your work at Atari.

Matty Boy said...

Hey, Splotch! Demon Attack is the brain child of none other than my fellow Scumbag and mastermind of Scumbag-athon I, Rob Fulop!

It was one of the greatest scrolling shooter games of the Atari 2600 category, if not the greatest, and the Atari 2600 did not want for great scrolling shooter games.

robfulop said...

gawd, how embarrasing

I barely recall that trip

I remember the motel

I remember the near miss in the car

Hello sir

It's Rob

Hey, wanna swap bad beat stories?

Every now and then I post a story or two from back in the 'day'. I just the other day put one up which you won't hate ... It's called ... Making Crane Cry.

Read it and weep.

Nice to see you are no longer such a bitter guy!