Max: I Ching? What are you talking about, man? You threw a man out of a window.
Vincent: I didn't throw him. He "fell"
Max: Well what did he do to you?
Max: What did he do to "you"?
Vincent: Nothing. I only met him tonight.
Max: You just met him once and you killed him like that?
Vincent: What? I should only kill people after I get to know them?
When you're ahead at the Bellagio, there's no better feeling in the world. You're rocking back and forth in your plush chair, making jokes with your neighbors, even enjoying a fruity drink (although Doyle tells you in Super/System to never drink while working). The cocktail waitresses are tall and pretty and you're very much in tune to the constant clack-clack of chips going back and forth in the greatest poker room on Earth.
But bouncing out completely changes your perspective. In September, I found myself suddenly $785 in the hole after raising with AK at the Bellagio's 2/5 $200 buy-in game. Two callers. Flop was Axx, all spades. Some guy bets $100 straight out with K10, a one-card spade flush draw. I have no spades. I reraised him all-in for $71 more. He caught a spade on the turn. "Nice hand," I tapped the guy on the shoulder and walked out.
It could have been a way better trip for me. On Sept. 11, I flew out to Vegas with my friend Mark so he could raise money for his upcoming new life in Chile. I used my miles for his flight, telling him how easy it would be- just a month before I had broken a guy who just sat down at my must-move table. He re-raised a guy with JJ with his aces. I called his $40 bet with a pair of tens just to be along for the ride. I don't know what the other two cards on the flop were, but I do know the third was a ten.
The guy with the jacks checks. All of a sudden, the guy with the aces all-ins his entire $450 stack. I call immediately. I was about to have a heart attack, though, afraid this guy would make his 2-outer. But it didn't. And I walked away with two racks of chips.
But the September trip was more brutal. Mark busted out of the no-limit game just hours before I was to take him to the airport, down $322 as opposed to bringing money to Chile.
And now I was down $785.
Collateral is a pretty dumb movie but it kind of made its point with me. Here you have Vincent, a professional hitman who is going around L.A. doing all kinds of bad deeds. But he gets into this shootout with his cab driver, Max, a complete novice. And the pro gets killed at the end of the movie, like a J-4 suckout on the river.
The movie was out about the time that I was on my losing streak. I hadn't seen it yet but I became determined to be a poker-playing Vincent -- I would go from poker room to poker room and wrest money from fish until I was back. I would be cool and calm about it. A professional hitman.
At least that was the plan.
Soon afterwards at the Flamingo, I made myself sick. I made the money I lost at the Bellagio in two hands, with a flush and then a straight and then lost all but $46 of the profit on promising, but ultimately poor hands.
I then continued on my search for easy games, cashing out $16 from Bally's 4/8 in an hour. Then winning $332 back at the Bellagio's NL game. The Monte Carlo's 2/5 $300 max NL game also was nice to me, netting me $72 in an hour. I also saw that Keena, a former dealer at the often cramped and smoky Sahara, was now dealing at the more elegant poker room.
I played $2/4 hold'em with guys ordering rounds of tequila shots at the Luxor's beginner's poker room. Some older guy was trying to intimidate the novices with raises all the time - I busted him with some Small Stakes Hold'em Jedi arts. $46 more in that hour. Late in the evening, at Excalibur's beginner's $1/2 $100 max NL game, I was in a quagmire. I was on my 2nd buy-in and was soon about to lose that. Frustrated, I went all-in with an open-ended straight draw against two callers. I won that on the river, adding $68 more to my pile. It was 2 a.m. and I was like, "I don't know about you, but I'm going to bed."
I entered the next day down only $141. I dropped down to -$180 playing at Harrah's new poker room. I doubled up at the Bellagio with an RPG- a set of 10s vs one of the off-duty dealers there. Poker great Gus Hansen was right at work in the high-limit area, playing $1,500-3,000 mixed games.
I took a break and then in the evening went back to the Bellagio, right where it all started. I pot bet with QQ and got 3 other callers. The flop had all undercards and the third guy looks up and says, "There's only one thing you can do." I laughed and nodded. "I'm all-in."
The guy next to me called with a pair of 10s with A10 and a flush draw. My queens held up and I was relieved. I made $70 more on the next hand with AK, my pair of kings on the flop holding up against 77.
I ended the trip up about $350, but that was gravy. Coming back in 24 hours, was like coming back after being down four touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Something to remember.