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Another Fun Visit to Vegas

by Max Shapiro |  Published: Sep 04, 2013

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Max ShapiroMy sweetie and I spent well over a month in Vegas during the World Series of Poker, and I’m just getting well enough to tell about it.

We’ll start with the heat. It broke all records for Sin City, reaching 117 degrees…though it felt like 170. So how hot was it? Well, it was so hot that players were wearing sunscreen in the casino. It was so hot that to cool off I would duck into the sauna at the Rio’s fitness center. And it was so hot that our car would overheat before the engine was even started.

Mentioning our car reminds me of how much I love driving in Vegas. Every intersection you come to has a 16-way light, and making two green lights in a row would get you an entry into the Guinness Book of Records. My worst fear is driving the couple of blocks from Tropicana Avenue to Flamingo Road. You could climb Mt. Everest in a faster time. And it seems like almost every street is undergoing repair or repaving or something. You rarely see any construction underway, only flashing directional signals and row upon row of cones and barrels. More cones than an ice cream store and more barrels than in a German brewery. Driving these streets is like running an obstacle course. And even Flamingo Road was cone/barreled immediately west of the Rio during the WSOP. Great timing, guys.

Of course, with global warming continuing to push up temperatures, and a new casino or condo seemingly appearing every week out of nowhere, driving in Vegas a few years from now could make my ordeal seem like a springtime stroll in the park by comparison.

Also, I didn’t get much sleep during this time. As some of you know, I underwent triple bypass heart surgery earlier in the year, along with an artificial heart valve glued or stapled in. I wasn’t told if the valve was taken from a cow or a pig, but all night long I kept getting awakened because I kept hearing something going “oink, oink, oink.”

Then there was the stress and aggravation of following the ups and downs of my sweetie’s tournaments. Oh, she started out like a house afire by making all kinds of scores. She quickly ran up cashes that included fourth in a Venetian Omaha eight-or-better event, a win, a second and a fourth in Binion’s no-limit tournaments, a fifth in a Venetian H.O.R.S.E. contest, a 23rd in a WSOP stud eight-or-better tournament, and a satellite victory that got her a seat in the main event.

Then came the bad beats. Playing in a ladies event at the Venetian, she held pocket fives and flopped a set when the board showed a seemingly safe 5-4-2. But guess what? Her opponent held 6Diamond Suit 3Diamond Suit for a straight. She was crippled and soon out. The additional horror of it was that it was the same infamous hand that knocked her out in 1995 when she became the first woman to make the final table of the WSOP main event. That time she moved in with pocket eights. Brent Carter called with 6Diamond Suit 3Diamond Suit and proceeded to flop two pair, putting one of the all-time bad beats on her. Later, in the WSOP ladies event, she was down to three tables with a pile of chips, expecting to become the first to win three ladies bracelets and the first woman to win four overall, but lost with set under set and was soon out.

Finally, her exit on day 2 of the main event was just as inglorious when her pocket aces were beaten by a…6-4! The caller chased her down, flopped a six and then hit another on the river.

Another thing. In my last column I had written about the “puzzlement” of trying to figure out Don Larrimore, aka “Doomsday Don,” my real-life/cartoon character. I wrote about how I got tired of his never-ending rants about a poker magazine editor’s supposed “plagiarism” and sent him a joking e-mail accusing him of plagiarizing material for his travel books. Unfortunately, he took me seriously and blew me off. So I wrote that column as kind of a catharsis, an attempt to get him out of my mind by spilling out my thoughts about him. Then, during the WSOP, I ran into a dealer friend of his who brought him back to mind again. The dealer told me that he saw D.D. in Reno, that the Doomsday boy was now living in London and sternly declared that he would never live in the U.S. again. That reminded me that in his e-mails to me, Larrimore would repeatedly and snidely refer to the United States as “third-world America” and our currency as “Bush-Rove dollars.” Please stay in London, Don. Third-world America does not need you.

Finally, back in Los Angeles again, I followed the WSOP main event poker action on the Internet and saw how Jackie Glazier, the last woman standing, went out in 31st place, leaving my sweetie as the only woman ever to final-table the main event. To celebrate, I decided to indulge myself in one of my favorite pastimes by treating myself to a senior’s coffee at McDonald’s, However, I was startled when I was told that now I needed to buy something else before I could get the senior discount. Now that’s a bad beat! I hope the WSOP people don’t hear about it. They might compel the female players to buy a hat or T-shirt before they can get their 90 percent discount for the $10,000 ladies championship event. ♠

Max Shapiro, a lifelong poker player and former newspaper reporter with several writing awards to his credit, has been writing a humor column for Card Player ever since it was launched more than 20 years ago. His early columns were collected in his book, Read ’em and Laugh.