Trip Report — The Final Chapter (Part 5)
Note: This is the fifth and final installment of a trip report I wrote (unpublished) from February and March of 2012.
XV: MONDAY: FINAL DAY OF WSOP CIRCUIT AT CAESARS ATLANTIC CITY
I rarely discuss working at the World Series of Poker in any public forum, other than comments related to my official role. I do not believe it is appropriate for me to comment here or anywhere on what goes on behind the scenes nor infuse my personal biases into what I do. So, those of you looking for that in this blog — you will be disappointed. I consider it a great honor to work for the WSOP as long as I have and I simply do not betray confidences entrusted in me.
But I’ll break protocol somewhat in this report, with some activities that take place on the thirteenth and final day of the WSOP Circuit at Caesars Atlantic City. Today will be a brutal workload, with THREE final tables to cover, which means three full written reports, the most important of which is the Main Event Championship.
I must admit some of these reports are like industrial writing. It’s like grinding out a new chapter in a giant tech manual each day. Occasionally, there’s a good story here and there. But how in the fuck do you make a 22-year-old college dropout winning $26,183 compelling reading?
There’s also data entry for all results to do, which is what I’ve been reduced to at age 50. A fucking data entry clerk. That’s what I am. Only, instead of typing in social security numbers and addresses, it’s poker players and chip counts. Now, I know why insurance salesmen are the heaviest drinkers. Monotonous mind-numbing repetition must be doused with some extinguishing excitation.
The highlight of my day will be at probably 4 or 5 am when I’m finally breaking down all the video equipment and then packing it up for shipment back to Las Vegas. I actually enjoy that because it’s physical work, instead of sitting on my ass in one of those backbreaking chairs for 18 fucking hours straight.
Of course, I have to take a lunch break at some point. During the afternoon, I head over to one of the casino lounges, which is the high-roller perk for those who give action. It used to be free for members, but they charge $10 to get in now, which really filters out the riff-raff. See, there’s three classes of people as far as the casino goes. The sludge (regular folks), the climbers/fallers (those who can’t quite make it to the next tier, but who have lost enough money to get *something*), and the whales, which are the biggest suckers of all. Each class thinks those directly beneath them are the riff raff.
It’s perhaps my 6th or 7th meal in here during the past two weeks. It’s the slowest day of the week. Monday in Atlantic City is a graveyard. Today’s vegetables sure look a lot like yesterday’s vegetables. Amazing that cauliflower is on the mini-buffet three days in a row and the bunches are now turning brown from baking under the heat lamp.
It gets worse.
I parse over to the dessert section, which has a smattering of cupcakes and pies and treats cut into tiny squares. Several of the cakes have a toothpick decoration on top. Upon closer inspection, I see the decoration reads “HAPPY VALENTINES DAY.”
Run that by me again?
HAPPY VALENTINES DAY?
I look at my smart phone just to make sure I’m not zoning out. It’s March fucking 13th. Not February.
And they are serving the HAPPY VALENTINES DAY treats now — 29 days later?
I have to learn more about this if I can. I ask the waitress about this. “Oh, it’s left over. But, it’s still good.” Oh, really!!! I ask, “What they do with the old food that is not served at the mini-buffet.” She reveals it winds up at the last pit stop before hitting the dumpster — the employee cafeteria.
As I said, it’s Monday night and we have three final tables going at the same time. This is a VERY BUSY time for us.
When I’m covering an event, I tend to sit next to the payout clerk. That way, I can see and sometimes talk to the players as they bust out.
The drawback is — it also tends to be a congregation area for dealers, which is often a distraction. Nothing against poker dealers, but I try to stay out of those things as innate chatter annoys the living shit out me. especially if I am trying to write.
Moreover, all you are going to hear with some (not all) dealers on break are their personal problems (this is especially true for females). It’s FUCKING UN-BEAR-A-BLE.
Most of them are divorced or have serious relationship issues, and you can multiply the baggage by two because these fucking broads are from New Jersey. Of course, they all have kids, too which only gasses up the brew of broken down bitterness.
Perhaps it’s being cooped up at the poker table all day and all night being forced to pretty much keep your trap shut and pitch cards that brings out a sort of bad Joan River’s act in every female dealer. They just won’t shut the fuck up when they are away on their own in a group.
It’s why I usually wear headphones when I type. Blaring acid rock is LESS a distraction than some dealer bitching about her ex.
One female dealer is working as our runner, which means she has to walk each winner down to the main casino cage to get paid. It’s tedious work. The O/U on her bearing bad beat stories is perhaps two dozen a day. Trouble is, this runner is a complete loaf. She’s never around when you fucking need her and often takes ten minutes to return on what should be a three-minute walk.
Fed up with covering her lazy ass (and having to shill as the ear for the bad beat stories), I ask her why it takes so long for each run. The dealer confides that she sometimes goes outside to take smoke breaks. In other words, she escorts the busted player to the cage and then on the way back passes outside in a secluded area where she fires up a cancer stick and fills her lungs with smoke.
An interesting sidebar here is the evolution of one’s belief set. I used to smoke, many years ago. Now, I’ve become completely militant against it.
Frankly, I don’t give a flying rat’s ass if smokers kill themselves. Same with druggies. I really don’t. Just don’t expect me to PAY FOR IT. Which is exactly what every reasonably responsible healthy person is doing. We pay MORE in health care costs. We pay MORE to accommodate them with special smoking areas. We have to fill in for them when they are away from the workplace puffing away. We have to pay janitors to dump out their ashtrays. We pay MORE to put out the fires they set and accidents they create. On top of that, we are forced to breath in their second-hand smoke. “Non smoking” areas are akin to having a pool and allowing pissing in one side and no pissing on the other. You want the pissing side of the pool or the non-pissing side? That’s our air and how second-hand smoke behaves.
So back to the lazy dealer. When I tell her that her cigarette breaks are causing us problems, she snaps back at me. Amazingly, she says she is entitled to these “quick breaks,” as she calls them. She is, after all — A SMOKER. She is a SPECIAL class. Never mind that a payout line sometime starts while she is on her “quick break.” Never mind that other dealers have to cover for her. Never mind that she is paid the same hours and time as the non smoker — but somehow gets to loaf on the company time in twisted self-centered mission to make herself as sick as possible so we all as a society have to ultimately fork over the costs of keeping her well.
Irritated by he lack of respect for her fellow workers, yet alone the players, I decide to pay down the hammer.
Next, the conversation goes something like this:
NOLAN: “I don’t care if you smoke at home or on your own time, but you can’t be taking so long between runs.”
DEALER: “But I need to smoke. I’m only doing it once every few hours.”
NOLAN: “So that’s what — FOUR times a shift? At 5-10 minutes per break? So, you are robbing your employer of approximately 30 minutes each day of an eight-hour shift, which is like 7 percent of the total workday? You don’t see a problem with that?”
DEALER: “It’s not like that. You are just against smoking.”
NOLAN: “Try this. How about if I were to go into the restroom and jack of four times a day? Not that I don’t do that already. (dealers listening begin laughing). How about if I head into the bathroom every few hours and take five minutes to pleasure myself?”
DEALER (long pause and flustered look): That’s disgusting!”
Later all the tournaments finally end. Work day ends at 5:30 am. Off to sleep. Wake up at 9 am for a limo ride to the Philadelphia Airport.
XVI: TUESDAY — COMING HOME
This is the 16th and final chapter of a journey that began in Florida more than a month earlier.
Tuesday morning brings a merciful end to what has been a ball-busting 36-day road trip — the longest of the year. Only the 53-straight days WSOP in summer is tougher. What began in Orlando, then to West Palm Beach, then up to Atlantic City is about to blossom in a one-day visit back home in Las Vegas — just enough time to plow through a pile of bills, visit a doctor to treat a foot fungus (yummy!), drink two bottles of wine, reintroduce myself to my wife and two cats who probably forgot my name, and make all the routine visits to dry cleaners, Costco, Total Wine and Beverage, Trader Joe’s, PetSmart, and two bookies. Then, it’s off to San Diego for 14 more days where we rinse and repeat — sans the BARGE activities.
En route to my gate, I have to buy a few newspapers. The most important thing I MUST have on an airplane is a newspaper and a book. Preferably *several,* if it’s a cross-country flight.
Now listen: My concept of total fucking hystercial psychotic bring-the-fucking-plane-down, act of terrorism madness is being on a long flight without SOMETHING to read. And, I’m not talking about the worthless in flight magazine or the catalogue with all the electric umbrellas and pet beds and personal massagers. The personal massagers don’t work anyway.
I browse the airport bookstore and something immediately catches my eye. Under “New Arrivals” there’s a book on the life of fledgling NFL quarterback and Jesus-lover….Tim Tebow.
My question is simple? What is Tebow — 24-years-old? He’s played TWO seasons and started perhaps a dozen games. Yet, we are treated to his “life story?” What next? A Sarah Palin biography?
Now before ranting, let me make it clear. I’m not a Tebow hater. I actually enjoyed watching him in several games this season — which translated means when the Broncos covered the spread. I also think he is a fine role model in sports, which is so filled with self-promotion and bad virtues.
That said, why in the fuck is this guy already penning a biography? Worse — who in the world would buy it?
Well, it appears there are at least a half a dozen saps out there — filtering lost at some point through the Philadelphia Airport. Judging by the empty slots on the shelves, SEVERAL copies have already been purchased.
My curiosity got the best of me and the flight was 20 minutes late. So, I just HAD to have a quick look inside for myself. I pawed the book. But before breaking the seal on the pages, I must admit I peeked around inside the store to see if ANYONE was watching me, who might see WHAT I was reading. Reminiscent of a 14-year old teenager drooling over a porno mag, I peaked inside — careful not to let anyone see that I might be one of the dopes who actually would by this book.
The book lasted perhaps 4-5 minutes in my hand. Here and now, let me sum up the book for you.
The cliff notes: Tebow loves Jesus
And so, let’s end the report with that. A teasing vilification of religion.
At this moment I keystroke the final words to the page, the Denver Broncos are introducing their new quarterback, Peyton Manning. Tim Tebow will soon be on the trade block and ultimately be heading to the New York Jets. Perhaps Tebow will write a sequel someday.
Note: This report was written March 2012.