Saturday, February 09, 2008

long beach > las vegas

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

I flew into Las Vegas on Wednesday. The flight from Long Beach was short. We were in the air less than 45 minutes. I traveled super light. Just my backpack with my laptop and a small bag with eight pairs of underwear, a couple of pairs of socks, one extra change of clothes, and a fleece hoodie. I wore a dress shirt, sports coat, shoes, and jeans on the plane. That would be my "going out and need to look nice outfit" while I also brought a comfortable outfit to "write and play poker" in.

Although I had a couple of meetings to attend, the primary reason for me going to Las Vegas was for a writer's retreat. I needed to do some research for my current writing project. I also needed some time away... from everything... and be able to just be alone, think, and create.

I picked Las Vegas instead of some quaint place in an outdoorsy or nature setting. Those serene places have their benefits and can definitely quick-start and inspire the creative juices. However, I needed to be in a place that catered to my insomnia and allowed me to write whenever I wanted. Las Vegas is a 24-hour city and the perfect place for me. I can eat food at any time. If I was super lazy, I could order room service. If I wanted to seek out food options, all I had to do was walk around the casino or a nearby casino to find what I want. And the 24-hour casino cafes in Las Vegas (more like their version of a diner) will serve you breakfast 24/7.

And the insomnia solution is solved, because if I can't sleep, I can wander around and walk the Strip or play poker. I had everything in place. All I needed to do was write.

I had a couple of meetings to get out of the way. On Wednesday afternoon, I met up with Friedman for about two hours. He pitched me a recent new idea that he had and wanted me to be an active participant. My involvement would entail less writing and more creative multi-media stuff. I was fortunate that he asked me to come aboard, but I told him I needed sometime to think before I made a decision.

For dinner, I met with Flipchip and the Poker Prof at The Palm. I had not seen them in almost two months and I was jonesin' for a decent meal. Since I returned from Oz and New Zealand, Nicky and I had been eating healthy foods. I stayed clear of bacon and red meat, along with cheese, breads, and potatoes. Pretty much your typical Hollyweird low carb and low fat diet that runs rampant through that town. Although I ate healthier and stopped drinking beer, I only lost two pounds since I had not been exercising much. And the foods I have been eating (like lots of salads) have been absent of taste. That's why the filet mignon at The Palm was just what I needed.

We discussed the short term goals of Las Vegas Vegas and briefly touched on the long term outlook of the site. I hoped that my time off the next few months will enable me to contribute more content.

Once I got those two meetings out of the way, I was able to concentrate on writing and gambling. The gambling took on two faces; poker and sportsbetting.

Head over to Tao of Poker and read something I wrote called Being James Madison. Essentially, I ignored betting on the massive UNC-Duke matchup and bet on a James Madison game instead. Lucky for me, that bet hit.

Since my arrival in Las Vegas, I have been betting a few games every night at the sports book. I'm 3-0 in college picks; James Madison -4.5 (over Townson St.), UCLA -2 (over Wazzu), and Yale -7 (over Harvard). Those have been my big bets so far and I've been fortunate that they all hit.

In the NBA, I started the week 2-1 in my picks, but I've been not-so-hot since I got to Vegas. The Lakers fucked me one night. I figured the addition of Pau Gasol would keep them on a roll. They didn't cover on Wednesday night. Last night, I went 0-2. The San Antonio Spurs looked like a lock -7 at Madison Square Garden and the lowly NY Knicks. At one point the Knicks opened up an 18 point lead. I knew that they'd blow it. They always do. The Spurs made a run in the 4th quarter and forced an overtime. Sadly, they only won by six points in overtime and I lost the game.

I also bet the KG-less Celtics at Minnesota. The spread was -5.5. Minnesota was up by 2 to 4 points for most of the first half. The Celtics made a run in the 4th quarter. They were up by four a couple of times but could not pull away. Minnesota made a comeback and it looked as though the game was headed into overtime, but the Celtics scored a bucket at the buzzer to win by two fuckin' points. Lucky for me, I bet small on the NBA. I'm 0-3 in NBA games and 3-0 in college hoops games. Maybe I should stick with college hoops for the rest of the time I'm here?

I have been playing poker late nights. My schedule has been to write during the mornings and early afternoons. Sometimes I play poker around dinner time, sometimes I don't and sit in the sports book to watch the games that I bet on. A few instances, I went back to my room to write or try to sleep. When insomnia struck, I walked into a local poker room, either at MGM or Mandalay Bay to play poker. Last night, I crashed at 11pm and woke up at 4am. I took a cab to Bellagio and played to 6am before I walked back to my hotel. I've had mixed results. So far I'm up $60 playing poker, and up a couple hundred at the sports book.

One night, I played poker with a Drunk Girl from Hollyweird. You know the type. She was a hot thirty-something Jewish chick originally from the East Coast. She had a thick accent and a fake tan. Her boobs might have been fake, but the only thing real was the rock on her finger that was the size of a Titleist golf ball. I sensed the inner emotional turmoil that drove her to drink. She was the your typical Las Vegas drunk girl as she slurped a frozen daiquiri from Ruby Tuesdays. She was the perfect example of someone you want at your poker table. Rich. Reckless. Drunk.

Drunk Girl was my mark. I wanted her money, or her husband's money. That would be even better because she wouldn't blink or think twice about gambling with money that was not hers. She kept trying to buy me a drink. I was only drank gingerale, since I've been trying to stay away from booze for a while. However, the soft drink made her question my manhood. I told her that I wasn't drinking because I was higher than Snoop Dog at 4:20. She almost fell out of her chair laughing. She inquired where she could score any weed. Our dealer, a grumpy old white guy without a sense of humor, must have thought our exchange was hilarious, because he let out a wry smile.

I finally had a chance to take Drunk Girl's money. I had a great hand and knew she had nothing. I raised her for all of her chips.

"I don't like you!" Drunk Girl screamed loud enough that everyone in Mandalay Bay could hear her. "I thought we were friends!"

"You're from L.A.," I said. "You're used to having fake friends who always stab you in the back or fuck you in the ass."

Drunk Girl said that line was one of the funniest things she had ever heard about Hollyweird. She repeated the line three times, just so she could remember it.

Anyway, I won the hand and won about $100 off of Drunk Girl.

It has been a long time since I was alone. I used to be a hermit who spent days and even weeks without much social interaction, as I delved deep into books, music, and writing. Those were the dark days post-9.11 when I had my studio and had nothing but free time on my hands. These days, it's tough to find a block of three or four hours of unfettered time. That's why a week alone was super enticing. I have been using the time wisely. I have listened to a ton of new music in the background while I wrote.

I have also cranked out close to 14K words in Las Vegas in just two days of serious writing. My goal was to get about 25K and I'm more than half-way there. At this pace, I can get 30K, which would equal the output that I did in November. It would be a miracle if I can get my project up to 70-75K words by early March. My goal is to have the first part done by the end of March. At this rate, that's humanly possible.

Nicky drives to Las Vegas later today. Her best friend, Bean, is in town and they have a wedding to attend. I have never met Bean, yet heard lots of crazy stories about the Pittsburgh Fashionista. Supposedly, the two girls will be spending all day Sunday shopping together. At any rate, I have smaller window of writing time while they two are in town.I actually can't wait until they both leave on Monday morning, so I can get a solid two days of writing under my belt.

Now I'm gonna figure out who I'm betting on today, and then it's time to get back to work and write.

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