My first night in Vegas was an evening of statistical improbabilities. I roll into the Tropicana around 10:30pm. Despite the trash I talk about the place I love it like Iggy loves the bar in Sherwood Forrest at Exaliber. It’s one of the few remaining places on The Strip that can claim Frank, Sammy and Dean have been there. Yes, it’s old, beat up and stinks like smoke but it’s the Trop, baby!

Now let me get to the bitching. First thing I notice is that the architects of this not-so-modern marvel put steps everywhere. Obviously luggage with wheels had yet to be invented because there are steps to get from the valet to the front door. It’s not that big of a deal but I’m always intrigued by engineering oversights like this.

I call Grubette and we meet up over at Harrah’s where she talks me into playing craps and roulette. Finally we end up over at this game which I think was called “Casino Hold ‘Em.” It’s your basic hold ‘em except you play against the house. I’m by no means an expert at this game (as you’ll see below) but the way I remember it playing is as follows:

You get two down cards, which you have to ante for. If you want to see a flop you have to place a bet 2x your ante bet. If you want to see the turn you pay 1x your ante bet and another 1x to see the river. Now, you don’t actually have to pay to see the turn and the river. Technically you don’t have to pay to see the turn and the river. You can just check it down and see the turn and river for free but if you think you’re ahead of the dealer’s random hand you should value bet.

You can tell this game isn’t designed for actual poker players by the odds they offer on side bets. You can put a few bucks on a side bet and if you get pocket aces they pay 30:1. I know some of my readers haven’t memorized their odds yet but the odds of getting dealt pocket aces is 221:1. They’re paying 30:1 on a 221:1 shot. Can you say “Bend over?” I ask the dealer if that’s a joke. She has no idea what I’m talking about and I explain the odds to her. She still has no idea what I’m talking about. Grubette is egging me on to throw $2 out there on the side bet but even Grubette’s charms can’t get me to throw away $2.

Now, I’m looking at the game and as I’ve said, I’m far from being an expert but it really doesn’t seem like the odds are that stacked against you for the normal bets. Sure, you’re already committed for an ante/blind but you’re playing against a completely random hand. So, I figure, if you play the game smart you might only be a slight dog against the forced ante/blind. I’m thinking I’m probably no worse than playing semi-correct BJ strategy or donking off money at the craps tables.

In the course of about two hours, I go on at least one 14 hand losing streak and several smaller 7 – 10 hands streaks heads-up with the dealer (Grubette left me to go watch her boyfriend play BJ). I get my hands cracked by quads, not once, not twice, not three times, but four goddamn times. The dealer picking up quads four times in two hours? How is that even possible? Of course, three of the four times I pick up the nut boat and bet that bitch all the way to the river so I’m losing money hand over fist at this point.

After getting raped for two hours straight, on tilt, I grab a cab and go back to the Trop to call it a night.

I was woken up Sat morning by the cleaning lady who seems to not get the concept of “Go AWAY!!!” I didn’t get to bed until 4 or 5am and she’s banging on the door at 11am insisting on cleaning the room. Of course, there’s no “Do Not Disturb” sign in the room so she keeps coming back every 15 minutes until you relent and leave the room. I have no idea why they do this. I’m staying in a hotel, which normally means I’m there to rest and relax. I do not want woken up every morning at 11am. It’s freakin’ Vegas, man. I may not even be getting in until 7am on some nights.

Yet, wherever I’ve been in the world, the cleaning lady has the same routine. First they give a quick rap and then immediately open the door only to say “Oh. Sorry,” when they see you still sprawled out in bed. They say they’ll come back. Of course, you being a reasonable person think they’ll be back around 2 or 3pm after they’ve finished the other rooms on the floor but 15 minutes later you hear knock, knock, knock “House cleaning.”

Around this time I tend to learn toward my more primal instincts and yell “Go away! I’m sleeping.” They leave. Fifteen minutes later you hear the knocking again and you make that half-asleep lumber towards the door where you attempt to make it explicitly clear that you are sleeping and they should leave you alone. If you happen to have a “Do Not Disturb” sign that goes on the door.

The worst incident I’ve ever had was in Europe. I had just gotten into town and was jetlagged. Of course, we did the whole dance above. After the third knock, knock, knock I put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door and told the cleaning lady not to bother me any more. The front desk actually calls me to confirm that I don’t want to be disturbed. What?!? I couldn’t disguise the frustration in my voice as I confirmed that I had no desire to be disturbed. Front desk asks “When may we clean the room?” and I respond that they can clean the room when I take the damn “Do Not Disturb” sign off the door.

I tried to go online and check my email but I can’t get internet access. I asked if there was internet access when I checked in and they said they had wireless. I check the available networks and notice pretty strong signals from other casinos but don’t see anything for the Tropicana.

I call down to the front desk and they tell me that I have to go down to the pool area to use the wireless. I guess in Vegas, electronics and wet drunks make a perfect mix. I go downstairs, pay $15 for a day’s worth of access and check email.

Now the real comedy here is that the pool is right below the tower I’m in. I mean, you take the same elevator one floor below the casino level to get to the pool. Up in my room I can see 54% signal strength coming from the Travelodge WiFi hotspot but I can’t get wireless nine stories floors up in the same hotel.

Oh well, whatever. Off to the Rio for the WSOP.

Coming up:

Compare and Contrast: The Dotcom Bubble vs. The Poker Explosion
The Full Tilt Hospitality Suite
Bloggers Covering the Main Event
Beer and Breakfast with Ryan and Otis at 4am
Seeing Miami Vice with Ryan: A film review