Monday, September 25, 2006

Treading Water: Bash at the Boathouse Part I

After the WSOP ended, I did everything possible to forget about the poker world and the carnival-like atmosphere of tournament poker escaping to the nearby mountains in Boulder and the picturesque beaches of Malibu. I avoided the monstrous poker machine for a few weeks as the post-WSOP poker world was peppered by several black eyes and blemishes. Lawsuits. Arrests. Mayhem.

Whenever hefty sums of money are involved, the vultures and angle shooters swoop in like maddened machete wielding children rushing out of the jungles of Sierra Leone in the middle of the night chopping off the hands of other children in neighboring villages. Just like the civil wars destroying the lives and homes of millions in West Africa, the poker world is in the middle of an ugly bar brawl. The WSOP champion is getting sued. The WPT is getting sued by their former hostess and some of the world's best poker players. Then there's the main event chip controversy which is still unanswered.

And how about the gaming industry arrests? Normally, I applaud cops for arresting suits. Not in this instance. They're trying to scare you into thinking that you're next, when the guys sitting at home betting $100 on the Monday night football game or donking off a couple hundred of their hard earned income online are committing harmless/victimless crimes. Right now there are hordes of angry people all over the planet chanting "Death to America!" and burning our flags. They want to kill you, your mother, and your kids. Those are the folks that our federalies should be rounding up and intimidating, and not guys and girls like you and me.

Of course, I missed all that nonsense. I was on vacation. Or "holiday" as my European friends would say. Poker has been an afterthought during the last few weeks and will continue to be so in upcoming months as I devote all my time and energy into traveling and other writing projects. With that said, ever since AlCantHang announced the dates for the 2006 Bash at Boathouse sometime in October of 2005, I was one of the first people to commit since Derek and I were in attendance at the last two.

The Bash has morphed into a Burning Man for Alcoholics, where people travel from all over the farthest corners of the world to gather together in the middle of nowhere to act weird and celebrate one of the greatest cultural icons of the 21st century... AlCantHang.

The Boathouse would be the last stop on a four day bender that started in New York City and spilled over into Atlantic City and eventually landed me at the Boathouse knocking back shots of Southern Comfort with AlCantHang at 5 o'clock in the afternoon. Drinking and gambling can be a soul-munching solitary experience. But when you do it with friends in the right places, you hit highs that you'll be chasing the rest of your life.

* * * * *

After a quick birthday dinner with Derek, Falstaff, and The Rooster, we embarked on a bar hopping binge. We followed the Rooster as he took us down random Midtown side streets to all of his favorite places where we'd check up on "his bitches." He knew the adorable bartender at one hole in the wall where shots were the specialty drink. After knocking back a Snakes on a Plane (pictured above), we ordered a Top Gun for Falstaff, who the dyslexic Rooster started calling Flagstaff. The Top Gun shot featured props and background music as the bartender blasted Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins. She handed Flagstaff a pilot's hat.

"Who's Goose?" she asked as she dangled a pair of aviator sunglasses.

I raised my hand and she slid the sunglasses on my face. The music blasted and Falstaff downed the shot. Next up was the Jose Canseco shot... aptly served in a fake hypodermic needle that you stuck in your mouth and squeezed out all the liquor. We called Balco Bad Blood for a dial-a-shot.

Sometime later, we found ourselves in a crowded college bar knocking back $1 mugs of beers as the Rooster and Derek rated the local talent of twentysomething coeds. After a few drinks we ended up at an Upper West Side dive bar called Yogis. I watched Derek Jeter hit his November 1st homerun in a crowded Yogis during the 2001 World Series.

Yogis features cheap drinks and the jukebox is all country and western songs. It was somewhat empty for a Wednesday night and the Rooster started things off right with a round of Pabst Blue Ribbon... for $8. That began the PBR binge for Flagstaff (who incidentally the last time I saw him around 1:55am on Sunday was clutching a PBR tall boy at the Boathouse).

Spaceman and Jen B. were in town to cover a Hip Hop Hold'em tournament and they stopped by with F Train to join in the fracas. Jen B. is a sweet Kentucky girl (currently living in Texas) and she knew all the words to the songs. Flagstaff is an admitted redneck and Spaceman lives in rural Tennessee so he also qualifies. And of course, the Rooster is a man of many talents including being able to recite the lyrics to several thousand country songs. We were in the right place to get loaded.

The Rooster says he's a suit, but in all reality, he's a pimp. That was confirmed when he whispered in my ear and pointed at the cute bartender, "For $200 she'll let you do whatever you want. She's an actress who said she'd do 'whatever it takes' to make money."

Derek described the two bartenders as Coyote Ugly wanna-bes. The blonde was spunky and girl next door sexy. The brunette was sultry and surly. They drank like bikers and jumped up on the bar to dance at random moments. They made out with female customers and aggressively pushed drinks and questioned your manhood if you nursed a beer.

They also charged $25 for a body shot. One bartender would lie down on the bar and pull up her shirt. The other would hold a lime in her mouth and pour tequila on the stomach of the other bartender. The lucky drunk who purchased the shot would lick up the liquor on the stomach of the hot bartender wile everyone standing in a ten foot radius whipped out their cell phone cameras to capture the timeless moment.

"What's your favorite drink?" the brunette asked me.

That's always changing. I've had a long term friendship with my boys Jim and Jack. I went south of the border for a stint before a nasty accident where I puked for three days straight and urinated on the walkman of a friend's girlfriend. For a while, I was a vodka guy. Most recently, I've been drinking vodka and Redbull or whiskey and gingerale.

"Makers and gingerale," I shouted over the Johnny Cash song that blasted on the jukebox.

"Shot! What's your favorite shot?" she asked.

"SoCo," I shouted.

She whirled around and picked up a bottle of Southern Comfort and jumped up on the bar.

"Let's go birthday boy!" she screamed as all my friends pulled out their cameras.

Kids don't try this at home

I stood with my back to the bar as she pulled my head into her crotch. She poured a shot. Then a second. And third. The fourth one was sloppy and she poured faster than I could chug. The excess SoCo spilled all over my mouth and shirt. Drenched in SoCo, the next few hours became a blur as I lost time. We figured out I had about 16-18 assorted shots and drinks between dinner at 7pm and 2am.

I had only the fuzzy memory of my friends and the bizarre photos that I took on my camera to help piece together the rest of that night. Here are some of the pics:

Body shots

Hot girl on girl action!

* * * * *

I had a category three hangover as I stood in line to get my rental car. I hoped that the guy behind the counter couldn't smell my breath or the odor of the liquor that seeped through my sweat glands. The drive to Atlantic City with Derek and the Rooster was a chore as I fought off the headaches and swirling gastric juices in my stomach.

We checked into the Borgata and got a room on the 43rd floor. We headed down to the poker room to meet up with BG, Flagstaff, and StB who were all seated at the same 3/6 table. Carter was somewhere in the new poker room playing NL. A new blogger came over to introduce himself and we met brdweb for the first time.

I had not been back to the Borgata since I lived there for two weeks in January covering the Borgata Winter Open. I befriended several staff members including dealers and floor people. I got to catch up with a few and it felt nice to know that I was missed during the most recent Borgata tournaments. One of the suits found out that I was in the poker room and left his office to come down to the casino floor to say hello and wish me a happy birthday. He hoped that I could return in January 2007 to cover the Borgata Winter tournament and asked me where I wanted to go to dinner as he whipped out his cellphone and arranged a reservation at the new Bobby Flay restaurant.

Eventually, Derek, the Rooster, and myself were seated with StB, BG, and Flagstaff donking around at the low limit table. I won a big hand off of BG in a capped pot preflop when my Aces held up. The flop was K-K-x and if he held A-K, I was fucked. When a Jack fell on the turn, I was convinced I was beat and check called all the way to the river. He showed Q-Q.

I was involved with a hand against StB that bugged him the entire weekend. I raised with AKs preflop. I missed the flop, turn, and river. But I led out everytime. There was a boat on the board by the river and I didn't notice because I had been watching StB the entire time. He reluctantly called the flop and almost mucked on the turn before sighing and tossing in his bet.

"For some reason I think you have A-K," he said.

With the boat on the board by the river, he assumed I had a big pair and mucked. I showed him my hand and he shook his head.

"I knew it," he muttered.

He knew he should have called that bet, especially in a low limit game. That hand would haunt him all weekend.

The highlight of the day involved a hand with a wanna be gangster in Seat 10 and StB. The guy in seat one who looked like an extra from The Sopranos limped UTG. The Rooster raised and StB reraised. The guy called two bets cold. I think StB had A-K because the flop was K-8-8 and the guy won the pot with 8-4o. When he showed his hand, StB said, "You're playing that crap? To two raises?"

The guy snapped, "Shut up tourist. Stop acting like a sore loser."

"Hey, fuck you man," the Rooster barked across the table sticking up for his friend and fellow blogger.

The guy looked at the Rooster and started shaking. The intimidating Rooster clocked the guy and slightly motioned his head to the door indicating that if the guy had a problem, the Rooster would be happy to smooth things out in the parking lot.

"Settle down pal," Derek added as he crossed his arms and glared at the guy in seat 10.

"Floor!" the dealer yelled as he sensed a fight.

The guy backed down as his testicles shrunk to the size of snow peas. He realized that he was sitting at a table with six friends. Flagstaff and Derek are big dudes. And no one wants to mess with the Rooster, who stopped boxing after he nearly killed an opponent in the ring.

The game broke after BG went to the new race book to play the ponies. My buddy JW was in town on a business trip and happened to be staying at the Borgata. We went to dinner at Bobby Flay's Steakhouse with Derek and caught up on things. We hadn't seen each other since I left Las Vegas at the end of August. JW ordered the Cajun filet mignon which came with chili peppers and crawfish. He also ordered us a round of oyster and crab meat shooters with hot sauce and Stoli. Talk about spicy.

By then, the mental fatigue from writing 15 hours a day for ten straight days caught up with me and the hangover from my birthday the night before lingered all afternoon. I decided to reserve energy for the AlCantHang leg of the trip. With time still left on the clock to run a few plays, I took a knee and ran off the field for halftime. I went to bed early as the Rooster played until 6am. He stumbled into the room and passed out on the floor near the door. He screamed at housekeeping at 8am for trying to come in even though there was a DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door.

to be continued....

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