By Tenzin McGrupp © 2005
It was the last night in Las Vegas for Otis. He changed his flight to 1.5 days earlier so he could return home to G-Vegas, South Carolina and see Mrs. Otis, Lil' Otis, and Scrappy the Wonder Pooch after one month of utter insanity and being force fed the Rio's overpriced and overcooked cheeseburgers. I don't blame Otis for bailing early. I'd like to get the fuck out of Las Vegas as soon as possible, but I'm stuck here in the 120 degree heat until mid-August.
When Otis called and said that he had an early morning flight and wanted to get obliterated drunk, I knew we were on a mission from that moment. I happily met Otis at the lounge/bar in the middle of the Mirage. Just 13 hours earlier, Australian Joe Hachem had won the main event and $7.5 million. Indeed, it was time to celebrate the completion of the WSOP.
Starting about five years ago, the Mirage used to be my favorite casino and one of my Top 10 Favorite Places of All Time. It's like my old home away from home. It's the place where I hit my first ever quads in the poker room. The Mirage seemed like a fitting place to get all kinds of shitfaced for Otis' last night.
The entertainment that particular evening was a jazz band fronted by a nubile singer with a sultry voice. Joining us were Grubby, and two L.A. guys... Mike and Jesus. I started off with SoCo on the rocks. It's been my drink of choice since I landed in Las Vegas 46 days ago. After drinking Red Stripes and Coronas at dinner break with Otis at the Hooker Bar in the Rio for a month straight, I packed on 15 pounds, all of which had hopelessly settled in my gut. In homage to the SoCo Master, I called Al Cant Hang for a Dial-a-Shot. He was holding court in Atlantic City. I caught his lovely wife Eva Can Hang on the phone as she was navigating her way through the Borgata's slot machines. We chatted for a few moments and hoisted our drinks for the absent rock star.
After getting cold-decked from the video poker machine, Otis and I agreed that the video poker at the Hooker Bar in the Rio had much looser slots than the Mirage. Otis hit quads like forty times at the Rio and in my only attempt, I hit quad Jacks... fuck, I flopped it too. No such luck at the Mirage. At least I got two free drinks out of it. Mike wandered over and suggested we go throw some dice. And off we went...
We found a nearly empty craps table and the order on the rail was Jesus, Mike, Grubby, Otis, and myself in the far corner. We started out slow and I kept my betting simple; Pass Line and behind the Pass Line bets. We all rolled once and I didn't hit any points. New blood joined the table the second time around. Some of Otis' co-workers, including his lovely assistant Mad, jumped into the mix. James, a gregarious Englishman with whom I had worked in the trenches for the past month, was on the far end. We knew almost everyone at the table and that's when we started to make a run.
Mike, Jesus, and James went on a rush. They were so hot that Grubby and Otis passed their rolls. We picked up point after point and that's when I began throwing the chips around and making come bets. My stack tripled up inside of a few minutes and I gawked at a nice collection of green $25 chips that I quickly accumulated. After Jesus hit three points in a row, the table chatter grew louder and louder. I kept yelling out in my most obnoxious Vegas tourist voice, "Thank you Jesus!"
That's the cool thing about shooting craps in Las Vegas, belligerent behavior is encouraged. The louder the table, the more likely the casino will win more money. Because in the end, the House always wins.
I should have walked away when I was up. How many losers in Vegas had that on their minds last Saturday? I hung in there and deviated from my simple betting strategy. Greed seeped into my brain. Everything was going well until some slick L.A. hipster doofus in a $500 blazer joined the table. I knew right away he was bad news. On his roll I lost almost all of my winnings. His negative karma attached itself to our group. Even Jesus succumbed to the dark veil of the hipster's bad luck. We all looked at each other and walked away. I considered jumping that assclown and stealing his expensive jacket as fair compensation for being the table "Cooler."
We retreated to the Sports Book Bar. A huge group encircled Otis, including his co-workers and April, Eric, and the Poker Prof stopped by. We had a spontaneous "Farewell Otis" party going on.
Over the past few weeks, during the slow hours in media row, we'd make different prop bets. We became action junkies and usually wagered on "last longer bets" on whoever sat at the final table we were covering for that day. It seemed natural that we'd gamble on almost anything. When ESPN aired some sort of dog obstacle course race... I turned to Otis and nodded. He knew what was up. Otis picked one dog. I got the other and it was time to recklessly gamble on canine obstacle races. The dogs names were Quick and Splendor and my pooch closed the gap after a slow start. Like drunken idiots we cursed at the TV monitor, cheering on (an obviously taped event) dogs racing through the course.
"Come on Quick!" Otis screamed his Ozark Mountain drawl.
"Get yer ass in gear Splendor!" I yelled.
The gambling gods were on my side. My dog won the first race and Otis tossed me cash. A fat tourist chomping on a cigar at an adjacent table waddled over, "Are you guys betting on those dogs?"
"Fuck yeah," I responded. "$100 a pop. You want in, tough guy?"
He sheepishly declined.
"Pussy bastard," I mumbled to myself as Otis and I made our picks for the next pooch race and the waitress brought us another round of drinks.
Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.