Vegas – March 2014 Part 2: Go Hawks!

If you missed part 1, you can read it here now

Saturday morning I woke up around 10:30.  After checking that my buddy Rico – passed out in the adjacent bed with his clothes and shoes on – was alive, I showered up and hit the Venetian poker room.   The great thing about the TI is that it’s about as close to the V’s poker room as one can get.  It’s possible that I can get to the poker room faster from my room at the TI than I could from a room at the Venetian – thanks to the perfectly placed pedestrian bridge over the Strip.

I sat down in a new 1-2NL game that was not terrible in terms of the lineup.   The table was mostly weak tight,  but I was unable to make anything exciting happen.   Lou was already playing some limit hold’em when I got there, and Big Show quickly joined us.   I left my chips and we went to get some lunch at B&B Burger Bar in the Venetian.   Big Show and I swapped halves of the meatball sub (which was weak) and the steak and cheese (which was great, although all were overpriced).   We then returned to the poker room to put in a few more hours in the mediocre games before I pulled the plug and we headed over to the Palazzo to take on some negative EV in the double deck blackjack pit.

Big Show, a lifelong Denver Broncos fan, had made a Super Bowl bet with our other buddy Tubbo – who is a lifelong Seattle Seahawks fan.   Tubbo won, of course, and Big Show had to wear a hideous yellow and black Seahawks winter hat with a little pom-pom and the plastic rack hook still on it.  All day.

While this didn’t draw any second looks in the poker room, it attracted a chorus of “GO HAWWWWWWWKS!” from passers-by everywhere we walked.   Each time someone hooted “GO HAWWWWWWKS” at Big Show, we’d all join in, and then laugh hysterically, while he’d just shake his head.

We sat down at the table with a fun dealer, Rich, who was immediately confused by Big Show’s Seahawk’s hat and Bronco’s shirt.   Big Show explained the situation, and I tried to get Rich on our side right away by pulling out a ticket that Big Show had given me for a 16 cent cashout at the Ventian.

“Rich, I’m gonna get you involved RIGHT AWAY,” I emphasized, as I deliberately pulled the 16c voucher out of my pocket, and laid it above my $50 bet as a dealer tip.   I placed a $1 chip on top as a kicker, and Rich tilted his head to see what the voucher was.   He started laughing, straightened it, and left it there.    After sweeping our bets, he calmly picked it up and dropped it in the money slot like he would a $100 bill, which made Big Show and me laugh hysterically.

Big Show and I each played a hand, and formed a LLC – The Corporation – to play another hand.  We’d alternate playing the second hand, and the dealers did a good job of understanding who to pitch the cards to.   Rich the Dealer mandated a system for The Corporation:  win, press, pullback – and it worked to precision, as we ran our $150 up to $800… and then back down to $0.

Rich was slightly tilted when Big Show tucked a blackjack on him (history: in double deck pitch games, you’re supposed to turn your blackjack faceup right away, but as long as there are more cards to be dealt to other players anyway and it won’t screw up the deck, we occasionally tuck one face down to see how much it makes the dealers steam when they turn it over), but the substitute dealer who would come in for 20 minutes every hour during Rich’s break was completely unfazed.   She was a terminator, however, and would grind us down to the felt during her time, leaving us to try to dig out of a hole before her next relief appearance.

“If you don’t turn it over next time, you’ll get paid even money,”  Rich warned Big Show.

“NO HE WILL NOT!”  I mock-pounded the table, and Rich smiled and laughed.

A drunk dude sat down with us, and promptly spilled his Captains & Coke all over the table.    As the dealer and pit boss mopped it up, the drunk made a graceful exit.    Big Show and I continued to grind, but were getting crushed by the relief dealer.   After going on tilt and losing our big bets at the end of one shoe, we were felted and tilted, and returned to the TI to change for dinner.

We had a party of 11 for dinner at Jean George’s at the Aria.  Eight of us were there early, and Doc joined us a little later with his two brothers.  They’d been partying all day at Encore Beach Club, and were already annihilated when they got to dinner.   Doc entered the restaurant in a tailored grey suit with vest, and bellowed “GO HAWWWWWWWWKS!”  shattering the silence.    Somehow, he didn’t get evicted (probably because the restaurant likes $2000 tabs).   After monster steaks and wine, we headed over to Hakkasan at MGM for our big night out.

Doc had it all arranged already, and he had a ton of other friends meeting us there as well.   We rolled up early (10:30pm) , thankfully, and I could only gulp when I heart the host say “Doc, you told us you had EIGHT.  You have a lot more than eight.”   Ummm – yeah. We were more like twenty five people at this point.   Doc put on a poker face, nodded and said, “yeah,”  with an implied question mark at the end, throwing it back to the host.    The hosts convened and scrambled to figure out how we were going to fit, but the booth that they had planned to put us in – right next to the dance floor – proved adequate despite our massive party size.   It was the most amazing NON-clusterfuck I’ve ever been apart of on a Vegas club night, despite the fact that we’d triple over-booked our stated size.   Big Show finally got to ditch the Seahawks hat, as the host told him to take it off.

Heading inside, it was obvious that I’d made a major mistake not bringing ear plugs.  Not asking for them was probably a bigger mistake, as I’m sure we could have obtained some.   Instead, I’ll be left with lasting hearing damage from the speakers which were no less than 20 feet from us.   Upon returning home I learned the abbreviation EDM – electronic dance music – on Twitter.   That’s what was happening at Hakkasan on Saturday night.   You know it well: untz untz untz…. not really my thing, but I don’t expect them to play the Humpty Dance in the club.    Magnums of vodka kept parading to our table, along with a 3L jeroboam of Veuve, which we’re guessing tipped the bill for about 3 dimes.  At one point the bottle-slut parade was accompanied by 2 live drummers, which I found confusing.     Thankfully, Doc and his brother picked up the entire tab, which ended up being enough to purchase a compact car.   We donated a token amount that served mostly as a gesture, but couldn’t begin to cover our shares.  Thanks, Doc!

Suddenly, there was a commotion on the floor in front of the DJ pit, and everyone had their phones out filming.   I mean, everyone but me, of course, because I still have a flip-phone.    I didn’t know what was happening until a pasty white guy popped to the center of the stage and screamed “WHAT’S UP VEGAS!!!!!!”  Apparently it looked something like this:

Now when I tell you that people were LOSING THEIR SHIT I am not exaggerating.  Of course, I had no idea who or what a “Hardwell” was, and from my angle, it looked like it said “Kardwell,” so I called him “Kardwell” all weekend.    Our waitress was in awe – total Hardwell fangirl –  and we had the following “conversation” – if you can consider screaming at each other at the top of your lungs (and still not hearing each other) over the bowel-shaking music to be a conversation.

me: “Who the fuck is this?”

waitress: “That’s Hardwell.”  She was beaming – like she’d just told me she was pregnant, and I was a friend of hers who was supposed to care, and I was supposed to be excited for her or something.

me: staring at her like she’d just farted – death stare.

waitress: “He’s on par with Tiesto.”

me: “Oh – we’re here to honor my buddy Lou.  He had nut cancer, and now he only has one Tiesto.”

waitress: “what?”

me: “never mind.”

waitress: “he’s the number one DJ in the world.”

me: she must be kidding – I’m still giving her a blank stare, not comprehending the concept of “number one DJ.”

waitress: “THIS IS A REALLY BIG DEAL” – she was getting legitimately PISSED at me now for not showing the proper awe that Kardwell/Hardwell was in the house.

me: “was this a surprise? or was he scheduled to perform?”

waitress: “This was scheduled.  People come from all over just to see him.”

me: “why?”

waitress: she just sneered at me at this point and turned away, while I laughed at myself.

I’m wondering if I’ll get flamed for making fun of the hype over different DJs – but I can honestly say that Hardwell was definitely better than the guy who preceded him, who was in turn better than the putz at Hyde the night before.    I’m still going with my claim that he could have just “played some Living on a Prayer” and blown the club up as well,  and I agree with my Vegas idol Steve Wynn’s comments on the trend toward overpaying DJ’s lately. *

Anyway, I enjoyed watching people worship Hardwell for a few hours: he did his job of creating energy in the club, that’s for sure.   Finally, brains aching, me, Big Show, Lou, Tubbo and Rico made our exit and headed back toward the TI.   Rico wanted some breakfast, so I joined him at the coffee shop and downed a chicken noodle soup while he had pancakes.   I was testing out my new theory that late night soup is a key “this will make you feel much better” food item.

While Big Show and Lou hit the TI blackjack pit, Rico and I headed up to the room and went to bed.

next up:  Sunday: going downtown


* Steve Wynn, Q3 2013 Earnings Call:

“They opened a place down the street called Hakkasan. And they opened a place over at Mandalay Bay called Daylight or something else. Cirque du Soleil’s involved. So the clubs proliferated and when they’re proliferated, these guys start paying 80 gazillion dollars to the DJs in sort of a frantic effort to capture the business.

It’s like a lot of things that happen in the casino business. Everybody goes crazy for the top line, and they forget about the bottom line. We like the Nightclub business, as you know, and we’ve sort of led the parade. I think we still do in terms of profitability, but we turned our back on some of the more outrageous disc jockey fees, wonderful guys they are. And they’re friends of ours and they work for us for a third or a quarter of what they work for now. So we go find new guys. And we find and keep the ones that are really perfect for us. We protect our bottom line but we gave up a little bit of top line because it wasn’t profitable. And so you see that reflected in some of the booze numbers from the nightclubs.

And so what else is new, right? It’s the same thing as when the less-experienced casino companies start trying to bribe customers with credit to get them to come, they try and buy the business. Those executives come and go and after they screw up the place, they fire that guy and they get a new guy. And then they settle down. Look, there is a certain amount of money you can pay a disc jockey and have a business, there is certain amount of money that you can give in comps and promotional allowances to a customer and still have a business. I hate to say it, those numbers are inexorable. They’re undeniable and they live. Now there is any number of idiots that will try and pretend that there is no gravity, that there is no Monday morning. And that’s going on in the nightclub scene here at the moment. They’ll get over it. We’re still having the best year we ever had.”


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