Want to take a guess where I went this week?
Oh, yes, baby; you guessed right.
And I have been DYING to tell you all that I was going, and I COULD NOT, because we were surprising our bestest friend Todd there, upon the occasion of his 40th birthday...and Todd is a regular reader, y'see. So, this was not ONLY a decadent, kid-free, money-and-diet-be-damned vacation...it was also a SUPER-SECRET vacation. Woohoo! (And, it was also, by default - as we can't afford another one - our 10th anniversary vacation, albeit about six months early. Hope we make it that much longer, honey, just to make our claim on that title legit. Kisses!)
So, The Man and I dropped off the kids with my mom, and left them on Christmas day, because we are AWESOME parents, and arrived that evening at New York New York. Todd and Aimee - Aimee being the instigator of all this deception several months ago - arrived a couple of hours after we did. The Man and I scurried along after them, and jumped into the hotel registration line a few people back, just to see how long it would take him to spot us. The tied-for-first best moment of the whole trip - I'll get to the other best moment in a bit - was the approximately eight-second stare that was directed at The Man, until recognition of the situation dawned. Bloody priceless.
Now, Todd and Aimee are No-Limit Texas Hold 'Em poker crack whores, like The Man and I. We were there to see each other, obviously, but we were also there to PLAY CARDS. I downloaded a list of every Hold 'Em tournament that was held, in every hotel, and it became our trip bible.
Our first tournament was at 10 AM the next morning at Mandalay Bay; there were about 30 people. Aimee, Lee and I were out pretty fast, but Todd made it to the last table, and came in "in the money"... fourth, I think? After that one was over, we scuttled across the bridge to the Excalibur, grabbed a quick and fattening lunch, and proceeded to their 1:00 tournament.
And, guess who won? GUESS who won, ALMOST FIVE HUNDRED EFFING DOLLARS, in a 40-person, Texas Hold 'Em, Poker Tournament, IN LAS VEGAS?
No, wait! I'll show you!!!
Oh, friends, that was so fucking sweet. I felt like I was winning one for every woman who was ever underestimated as a card player. (And, ooh, the sexism there is palpable.)
Sadly, the most exciting hand that was played, and the one that pretty much cemented my lead, was at the expense of Todd. (This next paragraph will include poker talk. Please jump down if this bores you to tears. That is OK with me.)
Before the flop, I went all in with my pair of queens, another guy went all in on his pair of jacks...and Todd calls us, with his fucking pair of kings. A train wreck was clearly about to ensue. I was about to bow gracefully to the birthday boy and withdraw from the game, when the cards are flipped...to reveal a queen. So, I got three of a kind, which knocked the other guy out, and mortally wounded Todd. (I would like to tell you that I handled this like a very gracious winner, and that I did not shriek at the top of my lungs and jump up and down. But that would be a lie.) After that, it was pretty much all over. Damn, that was fun. I'm sorry, Todd. But damn, that was fun.
We played in a third tourney that night in a seedier club off of the strip called the Tuscany. Definitely an interesting experience. Not what we're used to, suburbanite poker-player-wannabes that we are; it was the sort of place where you got the feeling that someone was gonna pull a knife before the evening was out. I didn't last long in that one, and was actually kind of OK with that. (For example, I got called "baby" there, and not in a good, or ironic, way. Feh.)
Todd - who was happily still speaking to me - took us downtown later that evening, and we got into a cash game at Binion's, which is apparently THE really famous poker place. There - yay again - I doubled-up my money, and won about another $100. This is a picture from outside Binion's, the "Fremont Street Experience," which is the big downtown, old-schooly area:
The next day, feeling that my luck was probably played out - and since the rooms were filling up much faster, due to the fact that people were starting to arrive for New Year's - I didn't play anymore poker. The rest of them did one or two more tournaments, back at Mandalay Bay and Excalibur, but I did some shopping, and went to the Star Trek Experience at the Hilton. (Brilliant, as usual. I got this:
which makes me AWESOME, and we also bought Fruity Girl Drinks at Quark's Bar. (It is a little known fact that The Man, "Beer Guy" that he is, is in actuality a Girl Drink Drunk. Here is proof:
(You will note that he is faking distress. However, you astute Sherlocks will also note that there are TWO DRINKS in this picture.)
I also bought some Manilow water - yes, friends, THAT Manilow, as if there were any other - just to say that I had:
Finally, last night, our last evening there, we went to see "Love," the Cirque du Soleil show that is entirely set to Beatles music. Though the acrobatics were not as awe-inspiring as "O," which we saw about six years ago, it was really beautiful and moving, and put me in a great mood. (And, it's the best music ever for a damn Cirque du Soleil show, for sure.)
The capper to the vacation was a trip off the strip to see if there did, truly, still exist, a $6.99 steak dinner in Vegas. As it turned out, there is, at a place called Ellis Island, a red-leather booth-bedecked anachronism which appears completely unchanged from the Rat Pack days. Todd's buddy Mikhail, who happened to be in town, and knows of these things, took us here, and spread the gospel of the cheap meal to me, the non-believer:
And damn if five of us didn't eat a steak dinner, with baked potato, green beans, a salad, and a beer, apiece, for a grand total of $37. (Todd, I'm a true believer now. I shall never espouse a $26 buffet again.)
We had an absolutely wonderful time. So much fun, and such good company. Today, sadly, I'm back, back to the drudgery of eating Egg Beaters and roughage, reading bedtime stories, and having to pay for my cocktails. My high-roller glory days are behind me. I won't look back.
However...who's up for next year?