Thursday, 28 May 2009

Chip dumping

*Warning if you don’t want to know what happens in toilets in Las Vegas at 4am then you better stop reading now.

A lot of people have asked me if I am playing the World Series of Poker this year, as it is taking place whilst I am in America. My answer to this question is no. In truth I am a bit over Vegas right now and the thought of going there in the stifling temperatures of late may or early June is something that doesn’t excite me one bit. Though naturally, I would like to visit the pinball museum again.

My epiphany, my Vegas nadir if you will, came one Friday last October, at around 4:30am, in the toilets of Harrah’s hotel and casino. I was playing in a pretty crazy poker game. There was a Frenchman who had all the money despite not knowing how to play. He had over $1500 on the table and he was willing to gamble and go all in on a whim. Two kids were randomly going in blind for $100 at a time and a couple of other players who weren’t too hot including one who’s catchphrase everytime the action passed to him was “what can I do again?” Like I say, it was a good game. Possibly the best 1-2 no limit game going on at that moment in the whole of the city and I was in it.

But I was stuck. After being down three buy ins (-$600), I had clawed about $250 back. The truth is that I was dead tired and felt I wasn’t playing my best. At any other time I would have gone to bed, but there was no way I was going to leave that game whilst the Frenchman was there with over a grand and a half in front of him. A good hand was all I needed. It was a waiting game.

I had adjourned to a nearby restroom to use the facilities and freshen up. I knew I had to be alert to try and get a read the next time I had a hand and the Frenchman decided to play a big pot. In his bad English he liked to talk and I was sure I could have a good inkling as to what he had if I was observant enough.

As I stepped up to the urinal, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Now, it was hot in Vegas, even in late October, so I was wearing sandals. This meant that extra concentration was needed on my aim. Male readers will know I’m talking about the splashback…

Therefore at first, I didn’t notice the voice in the background…

Then suddenly I hear “I know you are there, I can hear you pissing”. Silence again and then “can you help me?” I looked around and there was nobody there. I continued with my refreshing urination. And again “help me”… “I’m in the stall” And then a loud anguished wail.

OK, well I’m a nice guy, so I craned my neck slightly to look under the door of the stall. In retrospect this was probably a mistake. What I saw there was something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

In the space of around half a second I saw the following things. The floor was covered in poo. Why I hadn’t smelt it on the way in I’m not sure, but I was probably focused on how I’d just got sucked out on in a hand. Again.

Then I noticed that like me, the man in the toilet was wearing sandals. Then I noticed he had poo all over his sandals. Then I noticed that there were blue $1 casino chips mixed in with the poo.

This was a disturbing vision and after processing it in my mind for a few seconds I did something that I still can’t quite explain. I craned my head and looked again, this time for longer and this time the vision was even more disturbing. In amongst the poo and casino chips I saw two fat trembling hands searching through the excrement seeking to recover those now brown $1 chips. And let me tell you, these chips weren’t just resting on the top. Oh no. There was a chip poo casserole going on there down on the floor of the bathroom stall.

My question to you my dear readers is this… How high would the denomination of casino chips have to be for you to pick them out of your own poo? (Feel free to write a figure in the comments box)

On the way out of the bathroom to look for assistance from I have no idea who, I passed two casino security guys making their way towards the door. One of them was putting on some rubber gloves.

Tough break, fellas.

I later bumped into Mr Poo Chips’ brother and asked if the guy was ok. In return I got some raised eyebrows and a ‘what can you do?’ shrug, which indicated that this wasn’t the first time that his sibling had got drunk and rolled around in his own feces.

And the poker game? Well I won a little back but still ended up down for the night when the game broke at about 6am, about one millisecond after the Frenchman left the table with over $2,000.

I went back the next day and he was there again, but this time with just $100 in front of him and a new word in his English language repertoire. Fold. He was going home later that day and had his trip paid for and profit locked in, so he wasn’t doing anything stupid and there were no crazy all ins. I knew the feeling as I had done this myself the previous year on the last day.

Much like going all in blind with five two off suit, searching around in your own poo for $1 casino chips is something that probably seems like a better idea at 4am than in the cold light of day.

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