March 04, 2010

IMOP Memories: The Beatdown at Bally's

IMOP-V begins today, and I've been on the ground in Vegas since yesterday for pregame training and festivities. Last night included an In & Out Burger run, as well as some poker at MGM and Aria. My fun hand of note was cracking Ironman Rookie River Joe's Aces with a rivered bajos dos pairs while playing Ironman Barbie's signature hand, the Spanish Inquisition (6-3, because nobody expects it). Hilarity ensued (Joe: "You called $50 on the turn with a pair of 3s?!?!"; Me: "I put you on Aces.").

As with yesterday's post, today is another trip down IMOP memory lane as we continue to celebrate "Ironman Week" here at crAAKKer. For the uninitiated, check out the page links under the header above for background information.

Tomorrow, I will post my personal IMOP-V prop bet picks, along with a look back at some classic IMOP props.


One of my most bizarre poker experiences occurred on IMOP-II. Santa and I were Strip surfing, looking for good drunken late night game. We stopped in a Paris (remember when Paris had a poker room?) but the room was dark. So we headed up the Strip and stumbled across a short-handed game at Bally's.

Now this was my first time in the Bally's poker room, so I wasn't prepared for the unique mix of drunken play and weird characters that epitomize the Bally's poker experience. For those who have never enjoyed the Bally's poker room, two key factors come into play--being open and immediately adjacent to the pits, and being literally next to a bar. Drink service to the poker room is as fast and as frequent as a puppy begging for treats, though with marginally less drool.

As we settled in at our table, two friendly guys in their early 20s introduced themselves as Mark and Simon (alas, no Theodore or Alvin joined the fun). We quickly learned two things about our new friends: a) they were English, and b) they were utterly trashed. The second fun fact was soon explained as they proceeded to order round after round of kamikaze shots for the table.

As their intoxication increased, so did our English friends' propensity to spew chips. They were also spewing the F-bomb nearly every other sentence. One dealer resorted to "fining" them $1 tip for every F-bomb, but that hardly slowed them down.

Although the Brits were drunken yahoos, most of the table didn't mind, partially because they were friendly and amusing, but mostly because they were terrible poker players. It was a classic example of not tapping the clown fish tank. Their friendliness may have crossed some boundaries, like when Mark rubbed my head and said, "I like your skull, Darrell.". (FYI, my name is not in the same ballpark as "Darrell"). A little later, Mark hugged a new arrival to the table, who was apparently too serious a player to play nicely with the table donkeys; angry words were exchanged, and I thought a fight might ensue.

Against this backdrop, ensuing events seem inevitable. I was sitting in the 9 seat, and Mark was on my right in the 8 seat. I noticed he was "going south" rather literally, taking a few chips every hand and dropping them into his lap or onto the floor, apparently to preserve some cash to buy booze and a cab ride. Now, I didn't really mind, because Simon kept asking Mark for chips, and Mark kept giving him chips from his lap stash. They both were hemorrhaging chips, so who was I to rat them out?

Around this point, Mark starts getting really friendly, high-fiving and hitting me in the shoulder every pot I won, or every joke I made, or just whenever some imaginary ball of yarn amused him. I folded a hand, turned away from the table, then turned back just in time to see a blur as Mark jumped into me and tackled me to the floor! I have no idea what he was thinking, but apparently he had decided we were good friends who needed to wrestle. The poker manager came rushing over, but I waved him off, telling him Mark was just messing around (he and Simon still had chips to lose!). The floor appeared skeptical, but issued a "final warning" and let things drop. Oh, and my supposed best bud Santa didn't even so much as say, "No, stop, don't do that" to defend me. I hope he gets attacked by a drunk Euro sometime, then we'll see how funny he finds it!

The Mark & Simon Show came to its inevitable yet amusing conclusion in short order. Despite the "final warning", the F-Bombs continued to fly freely. Eventually, a pit boss from the casino floor came over:

Pit Boss: "I can hear you way over in the pits. If you don't stop using the F-Word, I'll have to ask you to leave."

Simon: "How about the C-Word? Can we use the C-Word?"

Pit Boss: "No, you can't."

Mark: "What if we're talking about your mum?"

Pit Boss: "Security!"

Mark and Simon left on a friendly note, shaking hands all around and nearly starting a fight with an rather overly familiar hug to the player who had made it clear earlier he liked personal boundaries. I've always wondered what happened to these lovable English poker hooligans ...

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