Writings from Truckin'


Poker Blogs

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Stripping the night away on my last $100

After the Charlie charity tournament, I've briefly popped back to online play to try to boost my poor numbers, which I'm going ahead and posting as well on the spreadsheet.

While adding money to NETeller, I found out something I hadn't known before.

I hate all the fees associated with NETeller and their debit card, but I hate waiting for the deposits/withdrawals to go through more, so I begrudgingly put up with the fees.

If you do a lot of transferring, it's worthwhile to get the NETeller debit card. Just to have it on hand, in case of a Scientology alien invasion or something.

Always needing cash in Vegas, the card's invaluable for getting immediate access. When there's money in NETeller to begin with, that is.

Once you apply for the card, they send it to you, but it isn't activated until you give the word. And if it carries a $0 balance (you have to deposit to the card from NETeller; the card doesn't give access to everything in your NETeller account), they can't charge their inane monthly $5 dormant fee.

The last time I'd used the card was March, and I figured my balance was so small that I'd just let the $5/month fee drain it to $0.

Being the cheap grub that I am, I didn't want to pay the $1 fee just to view my debit balance. The principle, you know?

But I found you can get around this by clicking "Deposit" and then "NETeller Debit Card" as if you're moving funds from your card back to your NETeller account. When I did this, it displayed my balance (which was surprisingly at $265 -- good thing I didn't abandon it altogether and let the $5/month fee take it all). A deposit to NETeller is free, so I moved the whole $265 back to my account in time to play the Charlie tourney.

A $1 saved is a $1 gambled.

By the way, the total fee you should be paying for a cash withdrawal is $3.50:

$2 to move up to $1000 from NETeller to the debit card
$1.50 to withdraw cash from the card

And because it's the same fees no matter the amount, always try to deposit and withdraw the maximum.

Washington Mutual's ATM machines don't charge a service fee. Most don't allow daily transactions of $1000, but some do. Check around.

If you can't find a Washington Mutual (I once drove for 45 minutes looking for one, which used up the equivalent of that fee in gas), ATM fees are more expensive on the Strip than downtown. Ellis Island has one of the cheapest at $1.50.

Oh, and avoid ATMs at strip clubs. Unless you want to pay a $20 service fee, and wouldn't you rather put that $20 to better use?


At the Station Casinos, the bad beat jackpot begins at $100,000 and hits when quad 10s are beaten. Every succeeding Tuesday the qualifying hand drops by one.

Last weekend we were ending week 7, and the hand to beat was quad 3s. Next week, it'll be Aces full.

And the jackpot was $259,000. The highest it's ever been.

To put this in perspective, the slots Jumbo Jackpot was half that -- $126,000. That one also starts at $100,000 but must hit by $150,000. Whenever the jackpot nears the $140,000 mark, tons of eager slot minions are seated slapping that "Spin Reels" button. If the jackpot hits while you have your player's card inserted, you get $50. It hit last week, and over 4100 people shared in that lucky local's fortune by each receiving $50 of freeplay.

There are five poker rooms in the Station Casinos web: Palace, Boulder, Texas, Sunset, and Santa Fe (Green Valley is expected to be added soon). I don't know the exact figure, but let's say at capacity there are about 400 people playing poker.

Once the bad beat progressive hits, the losing hand receives $35,000 and the winning hand receives $20,000. At other casinos and online, the remainder is split among the people at the table who witnessed the bad beat.

At the Station Casinos, something lights up, or a bat phone rings, to let them know. Because the remainder is split among every other poker player at all five Station poker rooms.

That means each person playing poker would receive about $500, or 10x what a slot player would receive. And the poker player doesn't have to playthrough the bonus money before cashing out.

It's no wonder the poker waiting list is a mile long.

I don't usually go bad beat jackpot mad, but when it's over $200K (live or online), expect to see me living at the casino.

On Saturday, I found myself at Palace Station, the Station Casino closest to the Strip (off Sahara near Crazy Horse Too). I was there to kill four birds with one stone: I had $30 in free slotplay, I had my Saturday gift to pick up (car floormats), I could use my points for a free buffet, and I could sit and fold to do my part waiting for the jackpot.

The day started well, as days usually do when you wake up and haven't yet gambled.

My $30 of freeplay turned into $55, with a few spins of break-even video poker play and one pat quad hand. I immediately cashed out once I'd played through the $30.

Went upstairs to the The Feast (all Stations call their buffets Feast) and saw a line of 35 hungry people. I flashed my blue platinum player's card and cut to the front of the line, to many complaints. I just stuck my tongue out at them, thinking, hey, if you'd lost thousands of dollars "earning" your platinum status, you could cut too. No sympathy from me.

I only made two visits to the buffet, and ended with handscooped strawberry ice cream with hot fudge sauce. When I left, I passed some of the same people who were waiting in line before.

Mike (who holds the blogger record for three trips to Vegas in six weeks) and his friend John stopped by and added their names to the poker waiting list. The players weren't going anywhere, so we had time to kill.

Both had never played pai gow before, and recalling the last time I'd played with Pauly and Senor (who were also pai gow virgins), we'd taken Caesars Palace for almost $300, handily paying for our earlier steak dinners at The Palm.

Alas, variance reared its ugly head and we all turned up losers at the $10 table with a dealer who amused herself with heavily accented comments that I didn't understand, kept asking her to repeat, then finally gave up and just nodded whenever she said something. I lost $200, Mike lost $100, and John lost about $70.

All in the span of 20 minutes. You're really not supposed to lose in pai gow.

Meanwhile, another player had just sat down, put out a $5 fortune bonus side bet, and immediately hit a straight flush, 50:1. We somehow couldn't bring ourselves to smile at his good fortune of green chips.

I felt bad about falling off the poker wagon, but I justified it to myself as entertainment when friends were in town. True, there were other forms of cheaper entertainment, a lesson I would impart later that night.

Before I entered Palace, I had withdrawn $500 from the ATM in crisp, sequential $20s, and that's all I had to spend. Well, not spend, but win with.

The buffet was free, tip was $2. Video poker was +$55. Pai gow was -$200.

$353 left.

Time for poker.

We went to Mirage and got in a tight 3/6 game. An annoying woman to my left scolded another player how she would never play Q-10 unless in position. And I guess in position means being on the button, because later when she had it, she raised. Or maybe position means being under the gun, because when she got it again, she limped.

When people talk "strategy" like this, I get pleasure out of beating them so either the talk will stop or increase and tilt.

But it wasn't meant to be. Won all of one pot, which I bluffed bet when it was checked to me on the flop. John picked up some good pots without showing.

Otis and Pauly stopped by in time to observe my final hand. I had trips on the turn, which also gave someone a runner flush draw which he hit on the river and then check-raised me. What nerve.

I took my remaining four blue chips and joined them at the bar.

Playing video poker and blackjack slots for drinks, the games were tighter and costlier ($1 minimum) than other places off-Strip. For awhile, a couple casinos tried banning free drinks for slotplay at the bar, but the uproar was enough that they reinstated. How dare they try to tamper with the free drinks! Vegas wouldn't be Vegas without it.

Lost $40 on two drinks. Should've ordered a couple more and played slower.

Mike called out to Otis and made a craps gesture. Otis said, "Dice?" and his eyes lit up like he saw The Hammer UTG.

We found ourselves transported to the craps table and after an hour we were all up between $100-$200. Then the 7s started coming and within 10 minutes we all ended down.

But no other game has as much excitement where you can freely scream without anyone batting an eyelash. We even joined in the other table's screaming.

Time for a drink break, and we met up with the PokerStars crew and hung out at the sportsbook bar.

Some were into bikini bullriding at the Frontier, but the majority nixed the idea. One was the feature of an open relationship story, so I had high hopes, but later she revealed it was a hoax.

The plan was to drink and then play poker. We never got to the poker.

Otis and Pauly bet on the dog races (with real dogs running obstacle courses), and then it got to be that time.

By the time everyone had left or gone to bed, it was 2 a.m.

I had $100 left. Pauly said, "Well, we have two options. We can storm the Castle or... go to a strip club."

I said, "We could just as easily lose in poker." I checked my wallet. "Which would you rather do, lose $100 in poker or lose $100 at a strip club?"

When strip clubs are mentioned, there really aren't any other options.

Crazy Horse Too was the destination. My $100 went a little further than Pauly's because many strip clubs are free to anyone who has a Nevada driver's license (a tip if you're visiting Vegas: get a fake Nevada license, it'll pay for itself just in free admission).

First order of business was finding seats and getting drinks.

We headed to Cleopatra's Lounge, a darkened area near a bar with more empty seats than the main area. On the way over, a stripper grabbed my crotch and asked how I was doing. I think she knew.

I had my eye on a Natalie Portman lookalike who sat in front of us, but she was one of the customers. She was lip-locking the guy she came with, and Pauly said her guy later bought her a couple lapdances. I missed that completely, and Pauly said I was busy.

Besides Natalie, it was a full hour before I found anyone I was interested in.

I'm selective with my strippers. Particularly with $100.

Pauly, however, sampled everyone who approached him (including a pair with matching tanlines that Pauly said, "Best $80 I spent in my life"). After one finished, he said, "You are a true artist. But you knew that."

His name was Steve that night, mine was Dave. My occupation was going to be a professional log roller from Milwaukee, but none of the strippers had asked.

One introduced herself as Soria. "Like the disease?" I said, repeating myself like a hack strip club regular that needs new material (I don't have Pauly's strip club patter down). I turned Soria down after envisioning some crusty substance growing on my toes. When picking a stripper name, it shouldn't recall anything in a medical textbook next to an illustrated picture.

Then I saw a vision in a red evening gown. Like in real life, the girls you're attracted to tend to walk right past you. As she passed by, I all but Christian Slatered her to get her to come over.

She had a girl-next-door/Avril Lavigne look that must be my type. And combined with a personality (okay, any personality), she was easily my favorite. She said she was from Kansas City, lived in San Diego, and her name was May. "May I have this dance?" I said, and after hanging out for a song, she got right into it at the start of the next.

The red dress didn't do her justice. "Does the dress come off?" (told ya -- no patter), and out of the dress, May was very becoming. A large tattoo was splashed on her stomach and an unnerving one on her back had two eyes that looked like they were watching me. Like the Mona Lisa. A cartoon cat was stitched on her panties: "It's my pussy."

She had a unique talent that I hadn't experienced before, where I could swear she had some sort of silent vibrator in her mouth. And she put it to good use. I had another dance to confirm.

Half an hour later, I was telling Pauly about her stupid human trick, and her ears must have been burning, because she showed right up. I had to let Pauly test out her talent, and after the first dance, Pauly also had seconds. He told her that we knew each other from med school and that I was a well-known surgeon. Sure beats log rolling.

This was the first time I'd been to a strip club wearing shorts. I highly recommend that as your choice of attire.

After we ran out of money, we exchanged stripper perfume and body bling with mozarella sticks and steak & eggs at Wild Wild West, which is where my final few ATM dollars went.

Playing poker or strip clubs. Not a hard decision at all.