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.
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