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Lou Pickney's Online Commentary

Super Sunday

Sunday
February 6, 2005

"It's in the rulebook, y'know!"
-Charlie the surly poker dealer, early this morning at the Tampa Hard Rock Casino

Well, Super Bowl Sunday is here. It's exciting since it's the championship game of the NFL season... but it's also slightly sad to me since it means no more NFL football for awhile. But so it goes.

Last night proved to be a fun time. I called Katt around 6:30 to make sure that the party was still on for the Hyde Park Cafe and she said yes. I asked her what time to get there, and she said around 10:30-11.

When I got there around 11:15... there was no Katt. Great. Luckily the cover was free (since it was her 26th birthday party and all), and there was a free drink coupon to go with it. So I got my complimentary Heineken draft and did some sightseeing (there are some gorgeous women there at the HPC).

I called Katt and asked what the deal was. Turned out that she was running late, etc. but that she was "leaving right now". Riiiight.

By midnight there was still no Katt, so I called again. Now she was "almost there"; I told her that I'd give her a birthday spanking for being late.

Finally Katt and her friend DD showed up. It was a chilly night by Tampa standards, and the way the HPC is set up there's an outdoor area in the middle, with a small bar area with a dance floor on the left side and a large area with plenty of room to the right. We did the whole making the rounds thing, which I had already done in killing an hour, but whatever. DD had a chain wrapped around her belly, but unfortunately it had gotten tangled, so I tried to help her fix it. Unfortunately it was a big metal knot, so I wasn't able to unlock the tangle. Women and their accessories, I swear it's insane.

One nice perk of hanging with Katt is, along with her being hot, her friends are hot, too. Some other girl she knew showed up finally. Poor girl was over at Whiskey Park; it was never settled if Katt had told her the wrong location or if the girl had misheard her. So I suppose it could've been worse for me.

DD went to the bar and ordered drinks for all of us. It was at this time that she mentioned having a husband, which certainly was a surprise, since she wasn't sporting a rock (wedding ring). But then she mentioned that she and him were separated, and had been for about a year. She also mentioned that he paid all of her bills and that he had alot of money (DD is the friend of Katt who, as I mentioned in my last column, landed the hotel room at the Hard Rock Casino). So I ended up having my bar tab, and actually my tab for the rest of the evening, covered by this woman's estranged husband. Somewhere Tom Leykis was nodding in approval.

From there, in a bizarre turn of events, Katt spotted Amani Channel from Fox 13 (WTVT), who was her professor for a Mass Comm class at Hillsborough Community College. I talked with him some about things at WTVT, since I've never known anyone who worked there currently. I told him about my rather dramatic career transition from being a TV news producer at WTSP to going to work for Bubba The Love Sponge.

The cold weather (and by cold, I mean 39 degrees for a low; today the high is 73) was inspiring DD and Katt to head over to the Hard Rock. It was almost 3 AM at that point, though time had flown by so it didn't feel that late.

I arrived at the Hard Rock, and the parking lot was PACKED. It's usually like that around closing time in Ybor, with some of the Pinellas County crowd also migrating up this way.

When I got there, I waited a few minutes (taking in the lights and bells of the slots, which is always a fun experience) and then called DD. She told me they were on I-275, which surprised me. Then she told me that they had missed the exit for I-4. Oops. Finally they got there and checked in and we were able to go up to the room.

One interesting thing about the Hard Rock is that they have a security guard by the hotel elevator making sure that you have a room entry card to go on the elevator. DD only acquired one (why, I don't know), so it made going up and down from the 8th floor a little dicey.

The room itself was nice, pretty uniquely designed with a TV stand and radio in this metallic looking case that extended from the ceiling to the floor (literally connected into the ceiling) that somehow fit the look of the room just right.

So there I was, chilling at the Hard Rock Casino with a stripper (Katt) and an ex-stripper (DD worked at Scores in New York at one point). I mention this because, well one it's a damn cool situation to find yourself in, but also because of a hilarious story DD told me about Scores. She said she'd encountered some celebrities there, and I asked who. She told me that she danced for O.J. Simpson one time in a private room. According to DD, Simpson whipped out his dick. But O.J. should've known: there's no sex in the champagne room. Not even for The Juice. The security guard watching on the private camera came over the intercom and ordered it to end. I asked if this was pre or post murders, and DD told me definitely pre. They wouldn't let O.J. back in there now, and she said even Joey Buttafucco couldn't get served at the bar.

Amani ended up coming over to the hotel, so I had to go down with our key card to bring him up. I suppose the elevator security is there to keep casino patrons from trying any hooliganism with the hotel guests, but after being in Las Vegas and seeing how they do things it seemed odd.

DD and I were starting to hit the wall a little, so we all headed downstairs. I made my way to the poker room for a little $1/$2 Texas Hold 'em.

Half dollar coin
The half dollar coin is not commonly used.

Last night I wore the orange Banana Republic shirt that I got for Christmas, but unfortunately it looked a little too close to the outfits worn by some of the employees there for my liking. One cute girl at the table quipped that I looked like I could work there. I thought she was hitting on me, so I asked why, and she mentioned because my shirt looked so much like the ones worn by the workers. Throw cold water on that one.

We had a few different dealers come through, but the one I won't forget is Charlie. Surly Charlie. Heh, that guy was a riot. He was an older fella, early 60s I'd guess, and I didn't take it that he really enjoyed working the 5:30 AM Sunday morning shift. At one point I had to post the "small blind" (one of two forced bets to ensure action on the hand), and I put down two quarters, since I didn't have a 50 cent piece with me. You don't tend to get those things in change from Taco Bell, y'know. Charlie bristled at my action. "What are those?" he demanded to know. When I informed him that they were quarters... well he didn't like that. "No quarters on the table! It's in the rulebook, y'know!" If that had happened on a trip to Vegas, it could've become a running joke for the duration of the trip. Instead, it'll have to settle for a place on here.

Vader in Japan
I halfway expected to see something like this, only across a poker table.

Things got really funny when this guy sat down next to me who was clearly under the influence of some crazy drug (or drugs). Or maybe he was just crazy. Anyway, he started getting under Charlie's skin right away. His gameplay and betting was sloppy (i.e. throwing chips, playing in haphazard fashion, etc.) He started talking smack to this big man who was sitting next to the dealer. I pictured the scene from the first episode of Tilt where the one guy leaps across the table and cold-cocks the other with a flying punch. This would've taken the big man doing a Vader-esque leap from his position, but luckily he didn't bite. Crazy Guy left me alone, but Charlie didn't care for him at his no-nonsense table.

Crazy Guy dropped an f-bomb when the river card came up on one hand (after cheering obnoxiously for the flop and the turn card), and Charlie admonished him for the vulgarity. "We don't use language like that at my table!" I found it hilarious, though I didn't want to laugh, lest I end up provoking Crazy Guy or Charlie. This rather sharp-spoken large woman sitting on the other side of Crazy Guy bluntly asked him, "What's wrong with you?" Charlie chimed in with some follow-up admonishment. Now remember, Charlie is WORKING FOR TIPS. That made it all the more humorous. Charlie asked Crazy Guy what his name was, and Crazy Guy told him: "Charlie". It might've been, but Charlie took it as sarcasm, which it probably was. We had entertainment between hands with those two.

The situation reached its boiling point when Crazy Guy spilled what remained inside of his bottle of water (or was it water?) on the table. By accident, of course. Charlie was actually going to let Crazy Guy stay, though he received a stern warning that he'd be thrown out if he didn't settle down, plus Charlie admonished him for not using the drink holder sitting empty right next to him. Charlie had to call over some worker to clean up the water but before the guy got there, Crazy Guy threw his cards (pocket 2s) into the wet part of the table. Just then the cleanup worker arrived, and he quickly dried off the table and dried the cards as best he could while Crazy Guy and his two spaced-out friends (who were watching from the empty tabled next to us) were escorted from the Poker Room by security.

I played very conservatively, and I mostly worked on reading reactions of other players. There were some subtle things that I picked up on, like how some people will lean forward when they hit a big card on the turn or river.

I ended up quitting ahead $30, and I went upstairs (actually getting the room card from Amani, who was leaving for the night as I was going to go up) and hung out with Katt and DD for awhile. They didn't do too well at the slots, but that's how it goes with slot machines. The house always wins in the end.

Now DD is separated, but since her husband is still paying for basically whatever she wants, she's still loyal to him (i.e. no hooking up with her). Fine, Katt was there too. But DD I think wasn't comfortable with me staying the night there (though it was 6:30 AM and they had to be out by 11 AM), even if I was in Katt's bed, so I had to miss out on that. Damn. So I wished them a good night and headed home. I didn't drink much at all, as it turned out (I was limited on that at Hyde Park Cafe, knowing I had to drive to the Hard Rock, and at the Hard Rock I wanted to be focused on playing poker). I suppose it's a good thing I didn't get lit up at the Hard Rock and then found out that my room wasn't available. At that point I think they would've dealt with me staying there.

Time now to see if there's anything of any interest on the Super Bowl pre-game show (earlier they had Trent Green, John Smoltz and Dale Jarrett in a strangely placed hole-in-one golf challenge). American Dad tonight should be great; it's made by Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Family Guy. I can't wait to see it...


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