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Go Ahead…Pull the Trigger

You probably know the joke about the guy who walks into a bar and finds the finest-looking woman he's ever seen. Surprisingly, she seems to take an interest in him too, so they go to her apartment. When they walk in, the guy sees all these photos of a man strewn all over the place, and he begins to feel guilty. Perhaps it is her husband or boyfriend, he thinks to himself. "Let's have sex," says the girl, and the guy sheepishly follows her into her room, where there are more pictures of the same man. The guy begins to have moral qualms, but the girl rips his clothes off and has animalistic-intense sex. Afterwards, he asks her, "Is that picture of your boyfriend or your husband?"  She answers, "Neither, it was me before my surgery."

Alas, not all things are as good as they appear.

I got a call the other week from one of my favorite Casino Hosts.   That in itself isn’t very unusual.   I usually get three to five calls each week from various casinos when they have special promotions and other events planned.  Or, like in this case, when they haven’t seen me for a while. 

This call was a follow-up from a Host at the Stratosphere.  With the opening of the new hotel tower, pool area, Special Events Center and revised restaurants, the crew that works for owner Carl Icahn want to trot out a full house for their official Grand-Opening on the weekend of September 15th.  They’re bringing in the Beach Boys and a raft of other “player-only” behind-the-scenes type events. 

I generally don’t stay at the Strat very often.  Oh sure, I play there a bit, but it’s usually for a quick 7:00 am, “run-in-take-one-turn-at-the-dice-and-leave” sort of play.  The valet car-hops recognize both me and most of my vehicles, and they just leave it parked nearby for easy access.  This particular Host wanted to know why I hadn’t responded to his written invitation a few weeks prior.   I said that I was planning to be in Vegas for all of August, and possibly right up to and including the New Year, and that I would be sure to stop by to say hello, but I hadn’t included his hotel in my plans.  He insisted that I would REALLY enjoy a stay there, and the Strat would be willing to do whatever it took to get me to try it for at least two or three nights.

Well, as soon as a Casino Host says that, a mental shopping-list of perks immediately come to mind.  I said, “Okay, I’m heading down in a few days.  How about giving me a suite, rebating my First-Class airfare from Toronto, and picking me up at the airport?”  He quickly said, “Sure, no problem, you’ll have full RFB+++ while you’re here.  What else can we do for you?”  Knowing that I would be without a vehicle until I get to California on a second-leg of this trip, I said that I would need a car.  He quizzically asked, “I thought you were a car-nut?  Don’t you usually drive?”  I explained that I was having a couple of them shipped directly down for the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance show and the Monterey Historic Automobile Races specifically for the show and a couple of follow-up events in Arizona and New Mexico, so I needed transportation for about three full weeks.  He said, “If I get you a really excellent car, and let you have it upon your arrival and you keep it until after the car show, would you consider staying for four nights now, and then coming back for two more nights on the Grand-Opening?”  I responded by saying, “ It all depends on the car.” His only response was, “Well, I’ll give you a hint, you have to pick it up at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and take a few hot orientation-laps before they’ll let you on the street with it.” 

To make my long story even longer, I am now driving a proud American-built, hand-made-in-Las Vegas Shelby-American Series 1 super-charged steed courtesy of our friends at the Strat.  I may not want to give it back when I return from California later this month.  If you are not familiar with the car, and to save disk-space of this internet-server, you can check out their fine products for yourself at: Shelby American

I mention all of this because of an incident the other night, and how it affected my subsequent dice-throwing.

Here’s what led up to it.  Virtually EVERY time I stepped up to the tables in that casino, my rolls were good, predictable, profitable, but below average in that my hands lasted an average of 16 rolls per hand.  That’s still a VERY decent rolls-to-7’s ratio, and substantial profit can be derived from them on a consistent basis.  I wasn’t shy about taking advantage of those rolls and my bankroll showed steady increases every time I had a turn at the dice.  I stayed away from their Crapless Craps table, and thereby avoided the biggest of the craps-crowd.

It was after one of those sessions that I went out to retrieve my “loaner” car.  It wasn’t in it’s usual spot, and I figured the valet had parked it in their garage at the western entrance to the property.  I walked across to the valet booth, handed my ticket to the attendant.  He looked at the ticket, then looked at me.  He did it AGAIN three more times.  I returned the look, and asked if there was a problem.  He said that there was a bit of a problem with the car, but his boss could explain it better.  “It seems that someone borrowed your vehicle without our permission, sir,” was the explanation that was proffered by the “boss”.  When I asked, if that meant it was stolen, he said, “Oh, no nothing like that, it’s more like missing-in-action along with one of our employees.  Give us a little bit of time, and I’m sure we’ll find it for you sir.” 

I gave them my cell-phone number, after receiving assurances that there was no need to call the police “just yet”.  I took a taxi down to the Venetian.  The crowd there was light, and the tables were dead.  Perfect playing conditions for the Mad Professor, but my mind wasn’t on the game.  A couple of quick 7-Out’s made me consider not playing at all.  Then I thought back to what had happened at the Plaza Hotel craps table on a previous visit with my friend Mel.  It’s an enlightening story about being “in the zone” and being “zoned-out”, that you can read about in Walking with a Vegas Ghost - Part V .

Normally I try to focus on several facets of my Precision-Shooting, and it pays handsome dividends with extended rolls, and related profit.  However, during this particular session at the $10 Venetian tables, I went on “auto-pilot”, and let all of the normally-focused, carefully-rehearsed movements be controlled by a Zen-like trance, instead of the carefully-crafted cold-sober sniper-precise concentration that I usually employ.  For only the second time that I’ve tried it, it worked once again.  I threw two back-to-back 70+ roll hands.  The first was 72 rolls, and the second was 76 rolls.

If you’ve read my article The Lady Is A PRO!, you know that my girlfriends throwing is actually much better than mine.   I thought to myself, “Hmmm, maybe she empties her head, and doesn’t try so hard, and that’s why she is so good at it.”  Conversely, I thought that living with the likes of ME, was stressful enough, and she just zoned-out when she threw the dice.  Either explanation was plausible to me.

I was absolutely stunned that my results were so good, especially with TWO huge hands in a row.  Surprisingly, I wasn’t even tired after more than 75 minutes of solo-shooting.  Normally, I’d be exhausted after one mega-hand.  Here I was following two lengthy rolls, and time had just sort of paused while I took a mental-vacation. I was more worried about a missing $215,000 car that I was responsible for, instead of the great set of rolls I had put together.   What ended my second hand, was my cell-phones “vibrate” ringing-mode, that I had set it to.  Usually, I have it completely turned off when I’m at the tables, however, the circumstances dictated a more “available” setting.  The car had been located, and I was being summed back to check for damage.

It seems that an employee (now a FORMER employee) had bamboozled the keys from the attendant, and had taken it for a bit of a spirited ride on Interstate 15.   Being a kind and considerate sort of person, he returned it to it’s rightful place under the canopied entrance to the Stratosphere, as though everything was right with the world.  A sharp-eyed security-guard stopped him in his tracks after returning the keys. There was no damage to the car, and I was pleased that my temporary chariot was home again.  I’ve since had second-thoughts about valet parking, but in all the year’s that I’ve been an honorary citizen of Vegas, that’s the first unpleasant experience I’ve had with a car.

I took a break from the action, and after a short rest, I wheeled the car onto the Strip in search of some Chinese food at “Chow Mai Pu Tang”.   But that’s for another story if you know what I mean.  I decided that I may not want to give the Shelby back to the factory, but I’m trying to figure out how I can keep it as a free “parting gift” COMP from the Strat!

In the meantime, I’ve tried to replicate that “empty-headed” automaton Zen/Buddhist-state of mind, but without further success.   I think if I had MORE stress in my life, perhaps my shooting would actually improve.

Good Luck & Good Skill at the Tables…and in Life.

By:  The Mad Professor

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