Vulturing a Dead Man's SonI was roaming around my home casino late last night when I saw a tourist sitting in front of a high-limit Scarab machine. He had all the looks of someone about to lose his paycheck and leave the machine on the 7th or 8th spin. So I sat a bank away and started spinning a 75c Hitchcock slot getting ready to pounce. Slowly hitting that button brings pain every time. Lost a spin. There goes nine cents. Lost another spin. There goes nine cents. Won a spin for $3. There goes nine cents. How the hell can anybody think this is fun?!?
Finally he gets up. I hit the cash out button.
Wow. The kid knows me. Maybe he's seen me on TV. I look at him and realize... no... that's not it. We've had some interaction in the past. He actually thinks he knows me. I respond as politely as I can.
"Hey, whatsup! I'm trying to place it. Have we played poker together?"
"Yeah, about ten years ago. You were playing in my dad's home game out in California... the game Pistol Pete puts on. My dad went on a roadtrip to Reno with you and Pete and a few of the other guys!"
I vaguely remember a gambling road trip. Can't for the life of me even get a picture of any of those guys in my head.
I scan around the room to make sure no other vultures see the play. He left it at 6 of 10 with enough scarabs scattered around. It's definitely a +EV spot. I put my hand on the back of the chair to claim the play just in case any of these other vulturing bastards happen by.
"Right! That was such a great trip. How's your dad doing these days?"
I still have no idea who we are talking about.
"He passed away last year."
"Oh man. I'm really sorry to hear that. He was a great guy."
Is it wrong to pretend I remember his dead father? The trip was a stoney haze to me... just one of hundreds of WSOP circuit events that I've played and whiffed. But this kid's dad was a working stiff. He was chasing a dream of being the next Moneymaker, and apparently that road trip was a pleasant enough memory that it became lore in his family.
All I really want is for this conversation to end so I can get my money in this stupid slot machine and spin it four times to get the play. And then on to the next.
But I stick with the pleasantries. What brings you to Vegas? Oh wow. You're a poker dealer now. Dealing the WSOP Circuit. About to fly out to Durant. Came out to Vegas first because it was cheaper than flying out of Fresno. Funny how things turn out, kid. You couldn't have been more than twelve when I played that home game with your dad and his friends. They had seen me on ESPN... and as a favor to the girl I was dating at the time, I went and mixed it up in their little tournament.
I felt like a monkey banging on cymbals and always have resented it when I get roped into a home game. You get known for being good at something and suddenly that something IS you. But maybe that monkey would rather play Xbox.
Maybe I should tell him... I don't remember your father at all. He made absolutely zero impression on me. I'll forget your face as soon as we say goodbye and you turn away. Durant is a shit-hole, almost as bad as Tunica. You'll probably be staying at the Holiday Inn, because they don't put the dealer's up in the casino there. Don't eat at that Wendy's across the street. You'll probably see a circuit dealer there named Greg who acts like he's cool with every player and dealer on the trail. Don't let him talk you into doing coke. And you shouldn't be playing these slots, kid... but if you're going to, don't walk away from this machine until you put in another four spins.
Eff it. Loose lips sink ships. He's going to have to figure it all out on his own. I just smile and wish him the best of luck. I tell him if he gets a wild hair, come sit in the mixed game I'm hitting at the casino down the road. I give him a little nod and a smile. It's his cue to leave.
Then I sit down, pop in a hundo. Spin it three times until it reads 9 of 10. One more time for the payoff spin.
Estimated ER: $30. Actual return: $8.