Haley's Poker Blog

No bad beats, but still a poker blog... hence the anguish.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Tools and Wankers

As the crow flies, it's not a long distance, perhaps 500 yards. At one end sits the Rio Convention Center, where every day lately the world's best poker players mix it up, and on the other is the misnamed "Poker Room" at the neighboring Gold Coast. 500 yards? It's parsecs, whether or not Wil is in the house.

The Gold Coast's poker room represents the bottom rungs of casino poker. It's not a room at all, but a roped-off area at the far back of the casino, beneath a faux neon sign in classic display-board cursiff --- the sign uses the same font that PokerHost.com uses for its emblem. Nine or ten badly worn tables occupy the space, back amongst the penny slots and video-poker machines. The felt on each table is so worn and thin that thousands of inches-long scratch marks show through, by-product of the millions of fingers and fingernails scraping cards or chips to different spots. The carpet below is worn and dented where the chairs' caster wheels have stayed too long in certain spots, and gravity pulls your seat back to those spots again and again as you play.

It's two a.m. and there's four tables in action, a couple of 2-4 half-kill limit games, another at 4-8, a desultory 1-2 no-limit game. Donkeyball all. Next door to the Rio, during the WSOP, and there's not a big game in sight.

It ought to tell you something.

At one of the tables sits a dark-haired guy, late 30's, full of bravura, full of shit. He's a never-had-his-prime type, an obvious room regular who plays half decent poker and who thinks this gives him the right to redraw the world according to his design. He's on a alcohol buzz and is out to tilt as many people as possible... and it's easy to do --- he's flat-out obnoxious and his own biggest fan. During one hand he asks an open question of the table, and when he gets an answer from one of middle-aged locals across the way, it's his license to go on a rant. "Were you in the hand? Shut the fuck up!" The ensuing argument and continuing rant sends the other player from the table, the second one our hero's dispatched in an hour. Of course, hand-participation status doesn't prevent his own running commentary, or helping his evening's companion in playing her cards, a clear violation of the rules which the room's tired dealers repeatedly remind him of but can't be bothered to enforce. Calling out his own cards as he folds them pre-flop or miscalling others' winning hands are an everyhand occurrence, too.

The tool's companion is a work of art herself, Somewhere around 60, perhaps, with bad platinum-blonde hair and skin so leathered and wrinkly it's clear she's spent decades as a southern-clime sun bunny. She wears a yellowish tank and a gold pendant that dangles above her mottled bosom as she leans forward to play her cards, a not-pretty sight. At least she's not the plastic-surgery type, being rather under-endowed, and I'm praying she doesn't do any shaking and strutting --- the imagining of a Hershey's kiss wrapped in wrinkly, twisted leather, popping free of an overloose tank top, is an image I dread. And whether she's the cretin's mother or his whore is never quite clear. The looks she gives him are of the "sugar daddy" variety.

It only gets worse when a British woman of mixed descent --- a little bit of Tiffany Williamson in her features --- takes a seat, and she's joined minutes later by her friend, a tall blonde with a nose piercing and a pissy attitude. The blonde's been around the Rio's media room in recent days, and while her friend is merely loud and pickled, the blonded is sloshed and obnoxious. In the meantime, the first woman gets called a "wanker" by our self-elected hero, trying to impress the touristas with his worldly charm, and it's clear that he genuinely doesn't know that not only is this not a term of endearment, it's not even applicable in the specific case. Bloody moron, wot? And as the blonde borrows $40 from her wanker-called friend to take a seat, the table degenerates into an argument of slang-term definitions and personalities.

The floor supervisor stops by, asks the dealer, "Are you in control of the table?" The dealer nods his yes, but it's a bad joke. The super's not doing his job, either.

Worse, it turns out that the addition of the British blonde is the pouring of gasoline on the flames. She's not there to play the game, she's there to insult it. On her first hand she pushes J-3 throughout, then claims she thought there was a J on the board, and in the second hand she just pushes all her chips to the middle. "Let's play some bloody no-limit. That's the real game." After her chips have been sorted out, most pushed back, the next player, a modest-looking dude with a blatant tell, makes a reraise, and most of the rest of the table folds. Our original hero fires off an insult at this guy --- just because --- and in the meantime, the tanked Brit pushes all her chips to middle again and again, causing the already stressed dealer to sort and re-push with every bet. It's capped pre-flop as the arguments rage, so loud and unruly that play on the other three tables has ceased, with even the old cowboys up out of their seats, trying to figure out just what the hell is going on.

As for me, I've quietly racked my chips and prepare to leave, as do two others at the table. The floor super says, "Wait, I'm taking her off the table," but her junk holdings suck out and win, and as another hand starts the trash-talk battle swells to include more direct insults and physical threats. It's an ugly scene
and I'm out of there.

40 minutes of poker at the Gold Coast, and I'll never do it again.

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