I don?t have a therapist who gets paid to listen to my whines, moans and complaints. For that, I have you, my indulgent readers. So, please indulge me, because this column is all about me. This is a column I knew someday I would have to write: I was just hoping that someday was somewhere over the rainbow.
Here goes: I finally lost on a ?trip? to Las Vegas. That?s right, in more than 12 years of going to Sin City, in trips as short as four days and as long as two months, I have always come back ahead, sometimes a lot, sometimes a little, but always with more. My wife, the beautiful A.P., and I referred to this as ?the record? or ?the streak.? I never wrote about it (that would be bragging), and only a few of my closest friends, such as John Robison and Walter Thomason, even knew about it. I can?t say the same for any other casino venue that I have visited. I?ve had plenty of losing ?trips,? but not Vegas.
My friend, Fred Renzey [author of 77 Way to Get the Edge at Casino Poker] would think me foolish for even considering the concept of a ?trip? as anything more than some moments in a continual session. He?d say, and rightly, that the cards and dice have no idea when my ?trips? begin or end, it?s all one game. So you are either ahead of the game at any given time or behind at any given time. I wish I could really feel that were true, but my emotions won?t buy it. Like a baseball team, I divide my play into winning and losing games (trips), as well as total runs scored for or against (the overall bottom line of my gambling to that point).
The trip from hell began with omens and ended with an oh-man.
At Kennedy Airport in New York, wending our way through the metal detectors, the alarms started sounding. I figured it was some idiot who hadn?t taken off his jewelry. No. It was I.
I was pulled over and had to be given the full wand treatment and frisking, with all the other travelers looking at me as if I were some kind of deviant. What set off the alarms were a key, a roll of peppermints, and, of course, my $11.50 watch. I was spun, wanded, frisked; spun, wanded and frisked some more. Omen.
We were traveling first class using our upgrade miles and expected to get a good meal on the plane. Then, just before we boarded, an announcement was made that no food would be served on the flight. Imagine five-and-a-half hours to Vegas and no food. Omen.
So we bought some sandwiches to bring on board. Arrived at Las Vegas and the car that was supposed to pick us up was not there. Omen.
Finally, the car arrives, takes us to our hotel, and the room isn?t ready. Omen.
I wasn?t going to play until I had showered and napped, so we hung around for a couple of hours and talked about ?the streak.?
?You don?t think all these little snafus are omens, do you?? I asked A.P.
?What would Fred Renzey say to that?? she countered.
?Right,? I said.
That first night of play I lost more money than I had ever lost in any trip to any gambling venue in the country. That?s how bad it was [for GTCers, it was well over 10K]. For four days I slowly dug myself out of the hole and was ahead a few bucks before the second-to-last day (I never play on my very last day in Vegas, for discipline). Then the roof fell in. I had a last playing day that was even worse than the first. That night I slept in the fetal position. I would have sucked my thumb; only my $11.50 watch glows in the dark and it would have been right in my eyes.
That morning, the very first thing I said was, ?I can?t believe the streak is over.?
?No big deal,? said A.P., ?it had to end sometime.?
?We?ll have a nice breakfast, get some sandwiches for the plane, and you?ll live to fight another day.?
?We?ve taken a beating. I should have known this was going to happen from all those omens,? I bemoaned.
?Don?t be superstitious,? she said.
So we went to the airport that afternoon to catch our plane. I made it through the metal detectors, no problem, as I had taken my watch, my belt, my roll of peppermints, my key, my empty wallet, and dumped them all in the tray.
?At least I wasn?t given the wand treatment,? I said to A.P.
When they called for the first class passengers, A.P. and I stepped forward. I handed my tickets to the attendant and then I heard: ?Sir, step aside, please.? A security guard.
?But I?m first class. I?m not jumping the line.?
?Come with me, sir,? he said. ?Bring your bags.? A.P. came with me. ?Not you ma?am, you get on the plane,? said the security agent.
?But he?s my husband.?
?Get on the plane, ma?am.?
Then in full view of all the other passengers, Mr. First Class, Mr. Big Shot, Mr. Big Gambling Wrier, Mr. ME, got the damn wand again. Had my belt removed. Was frisked. And then had to open my carry-on bag (dirty underwear and socks on top for all the world to see).
I was finally allowed on the plane when the security agent discovered nothing more dangerous in my bag than a book I had written about how to beat the casinos at their own games. The irony was not lost on me.
Seated next to A.P., at last, I just looked at her: ?Do I fit some kind of profile??
?Look at the way you dress,? she said.
?Yeah, well that guy over there dresses worse than me,? I said.
?That?s a woman,? she said.
?Oh, oh yeah, right. Do I look like a terrorist??
?No, it?s just been one of those trips.?
?Yeah,? I said.
?It started with all those omens after all,? she said.
?Oh, man,? I said and promptly fell asleep.
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