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Friday, January 13, 2006

Lucky at the Hard Rock

Countdown to Vegas, Episode 1. Mrs. Jackmama suggested that I do some kind of countdown to my trip, and I decided to write a story per day from one of my previous visits.

July 2005

I'm in Las Vegas for a notorious computer hacking conference. This is the last year it will be held at the Alexis Park Resort Hotel, across from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, although we don't know it. The Alexis Park is an all-suite hotel, which turns into a large collective of various parties and DJ stands every night during DefCon. For many people, this is their major vacation of the year, and the only time to see some friends.

I know a few people here, but I'm primarily interested in the talks. A large part of my job is handling network and computer security, and so hearing directly from the people on both sides of the hacking front is instructive. I've been spending most of my time watching the various talks or browsing the vendor booths. Periodically, I'll stop in what is known as the "chill-out" area, where you can get a beer from the bar and just hang out for a bit.

In the chill-out area I overhear a man explaining to someone how he convinced his employer to place a priority on security, "It's like a prostate exam. It's unpleasant at first..."

This is the first time I've heard someone imply that a prostate exam gets better after the initial discomfort. I'm guessing that you just need to lay back and enjoy it. Fortunately, I'm still several years away from my first exam. In a year or two, a technological breakthrough will radically change the prostate exam into something that can be delivered via a shot of tequila. Anyone that can't handle tequila can stick with the old way.

As the Saturday afternoon talks wind down, I decide it's time to get some gamble on. I've been in Vegas since Thursday night, and haven't caught so much as a whiff of green felt. I feel the lure of the MGM poker room, but for some reason decide to kick it old-school, and try out Binion's. I jump into a 2/4 Hold 'Em game and make a respectable $35 in the hour I'm sitting there. For all the history and Binion's "mystique," the poker room is pretty dumpy. I'm ready to hit the road when I get a call from some friends that they're going to be hosting a party in their room tonight.

I return to the Alexis Park, back to even. Note to self, try to earn more than cab fare next time you decide to journey downtown. I stop at my room to pick up some bottles of Newcastle and head over to the party suite. I find it well-stocked with Corona, and so I dig into those after depositing my Newcastle in the sink (in ice, not poured out, mind you).

I start talking to a couple guys about craps, and we all start to feel the itch. We find ourselves walking to the Hard Rock in very short order.

It's a Saturday night, and this is the Hard Rock, so table minimum is $10. That's a little beyond my normal craps comfort zone, but since I have hardly gambled so far this trip, I feel like I can absorb the risk. One of the tables is nearly full, and I head over there, peripherally aware of the other two guys taking positions across the table.

The girl to my left has a mantra. Prior to every throw, and for every shooter, she calls, "Come on, shooootah!" Her voice is nasal, with some sort of Brooklyn accent, and she sounds an awful lot like Fran Drescher. It's hypnotic, almost, and since the table keeps paying, I like it. Every time she calls out, "Come on, shooootah!" it sounds like chips stacking up in front of me. The Casino is dark, casting shadows on even those standing next to you, but after a brief glance, I'm pretty sure this girl is as hot as her voice is annoying. I don't care about that, though, she just needs to keep with the rhythm, "Come on, shoooootah!"

We seem to have hit the perfect combination as a new shooter at the end of the table starts a magnificent run. The girl's Dad (boyfriend? Hard to say at the Hard Rock) stops by and she comments to him how the shooter is on fire. He says something to her and gestures toward the door. I can't allow her to leave!

"She has to stay! You're going to let her finish this point, right?"

He smiles and nods like I'm dangerous and not to be disturbed, but he steps back a bit and she stays. Another roll, another "Come on, shoooootah!" and I rake in some more chips.

The shooter finally craps out, and I find myself up $300. I look over at the girl and we share in the moment. Like when you're a kid and saved the best roller coaster in the park for last, and when the ride is over, you're exhilarated by the ride, but there's a hint of depression caused by the knowledge that you can't go again.

She leaves with her Dad (The sweet purity of the memory demands that I believe he was her Dad). I color up and head back to the party, relishing my first-ever winning session at the Hard Rock.


Blogger Mr Subliminal said...

I'm already at that age and have been pushing it off. Now thankfully I won't be needing any tequila.


1:14 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

I'm one that likes to rely on an abundance of caution, so I'll be sure to have tequila treatments regularly, until this study has been accepted into the mainstream. It does seem prudent to avoid the traditional testing method.

11:19 AM  

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