Owned by the Stone: WEEKLY COLUMN

Six years ago at a friend of mine's wedding in upstate New York, about 8 of us after the festivities made a late night journey to "local" casino Turning Stone. Cocksure that we were each going to win a grand, because that summer when many of us went to Vegas for the first time the theme was "Own the City," and own the city we did. Being first timers, and naiive and dumb gamblers we went on an incredible rush of good luck. Literally turning every craps table we encountered into winner. I think we even turned a profit by rolling dice on the late night buffet tables. So when all but two of us, all turned a profit it was reasonable to think the casinos did just print money and made their money on their shows.

One night we so decimated a craps table at the Venetian they literally forced us to leave and closed the table. We had a solid two hours of winning rolls after winning rolls. We all bet the same way and hit the same numbers. It was like a living breathing Vegas commercial. Finally the pitboss perplexed by our run of luck had them raise the limits to a $100 and denied the grandfather clause most casino uses. Maybe it was when we hit our 10th boxcars with 9 of us having thrown $5 dollar chips on there, we weren't shy in saying, "We own this casino" that turned them against us. We certainly were tipping well so it wasn't that.

Anyway, thinking all you had to do to win money was stand near a craps table we had visions of huge returns as we ambled about, quite lost, in the countryside of New York. And if anybody thinks rednecks just reside in the south, we learned otherwise. Pickup trucks, gun racks, and teeth like a five year old were all the rage when we'd enter a gas station to ask for a new set of directions. Finally, after two hours of futility, driving in circles around farms, our future congressman, tourguide of the back roads of New York and serial ignorer of road signs chanced into finding Turning Stone. ("You are going the wrong way!!!" "How does he know where we are going.")

After the 4 hour odyssey to get there it was evident, our luck evened out. We lost our money about as quickly as we would have if we used the revolving door and just threw the hundreds into the casino as we passed past it by on our way back to the parking lot. Everything that made Vegas wonderful was completely the opposite at the Stone. The energy level of the employees was about that of a teenager working the fries at Hardees. The dealers and employees only got more morose when they saw us, and instead of enjoying the glow of our optimisim they glared the foreboding stares of muggers about to kick us in the groin, steal our wallets, and take our clothes. I think Martha-Sleeps-in-Buffalo Poop and Johnny-Give-Us-Beads-For-Manhatten-I'm-Going-to-Beat-You-Blind-Cracker growled at us while they dealt.

So this weekend, I have a wedding to go to this weekend in Cooperstown, New York, and of course many of the same faces are going to be there and for some reason we have decided we are going to hit the Stone on Thursday night. Because of a miscommunication with Shoats, famous for his one post on the CCline blog :), I ended up getting a later flight into LaGuardia that cost more and meant I'd miss the poker tournament at 7 pm. Turns out he could have picked me up at noon, in time for us to get to the Stone. So when I tried to change flights Delta informed me now the flight was more expensive, I'd have to pay the difference and a changing flight fee.

Hmmm. I felt that familiar tingle at the small of my back. It must be time for me to get ass plowed in bumblefruck New York again. Hotel arrangements have been nightmarish at best with apparently Columbus day weekend being a huge occassion for Cooperstown. Who knew? Baseball hall of fame, a love for Christopher Columbus, and quasi-close to Turning Stone. What a hamlet!

The tingle got stronger when I received word of my grandmother falling and breaking her hip (literally after just receiving a birthday card from me saying how she was "hip" when other grandmothers were merely breaking theirs--moosch). She's still hospitalized and actually dealing with a pretty bad infection.

So in the midst of this omnious turn in the tide of a luck, I go to my Monday night at Harrahs. It's football box time, and I get the nonwinning numbers of 8-2 for the second week in a row. I should have known I was about to get abused like a common pit player. For the first time EVER they comped poker players. Free rooms in their luxury hotel all week. Why would they do that? Their inventory is so vacant there was literally dust on the Italian marble tile in the rooms when I walked in this morning. So I guess they throw us a bone rather than air-condition an empty building. I think I was the first person to turn on the flat screen TV in my room, the fact it was still in cellophane was my first clue.

Just before they announce these free room packages, I'm up a good bit of money at a fun table. Used to being treated like the no money generating dogs**t customers poker players are, everybody asks what's the catch. Nothing. Oh really? Now I decide to make it a social night as I don't have to drive anywhere if I stay in the hotel. On the rare social nights when I'm playing with a buddy or two, I'll play with a near empty wallet as I realize I'm not really working and more likely spending entertainment money. Course last night began as a working night so I came with some cash... not smart.

As is standard in these big loss nights... I was just about to leave having surpassed my minimum "up" standards for the evening and then I was corraled into staying by this out of the blue promotion. Of course it was the other dopes at my table that profited and not Harrahs.

Uh oh... Pwnage began. My big stack kept getting priced into hands and I'd proceed to lose flush to flush twice, set to set, full house to quads (all the while correctly check calling or folding and my opponents showing superior hands if I did fold). And as a drunk idiot once told me, you shouldn't bet so much on the flop because I have to call you and it's the turn and the river that decide the hands. Last night he was definitely right. I'd get my money in good and a card later it'd be bad.

Of course I got a steady diet of AK and boards of 225 with the kid to my left instacalling any of my raises with 7-2 offsuit and hitting a set, and me turning an Ace and rivering a king. Bruttle. I also enjoyed the chatising I got when after raising correctly for the fifth or sixth time in a half hour with the best preflop hand (Jacks I think) and having a guy catch a baby flush 10-6. "Maybe you shouldn't raise so much, you are telling everybody you have a strong hand," the chorus generously offered. Right, so you should of course continue to instacall my strong hands, which you know are stong, and my 7x raises with nothing. Because long run you'll win money and this isn't just a dreadful short run aberration (sarcasm).

My bad luck then turned into... me just playing badly. And I was the solely to blame for the hemorraging of my stack and wallet. After all the Shoats-in-Vegas type beats I was fully tilted, and when the late night shift came in I didn't leave because I didn't feel like watching TV in my hotel room. The trap of the comp rears it's ugly head, stuck there with nothing to do--why not stay and gamble when you are clearly off your game. Nothing like pushing with 7s when you know the guy has an overpair and also doesn't like to fold.

Rough evening. The way this week has gone it's like the four living members of the "tribe" in New York that owns the casino, have been informed of the shaman's vision that our group that combined for 30 ATM receipts in 30 minutes from six years ago is returning. They must have run to their sweat room to collectively cast bad luck spells my way.

Still I'm excited about the trip, even if I know I'll likely be "Owned by the Stone" again.


Anonymous said…
Turning Stone is my favorite of all. 18 to get in so the ladies are younger and an annual visit from the legendary Benny Mardones. I've been going since it opened and it's never disappointed (except occassionally in the wallet).
C.S. said…
Benny Mardones? Who's he a singer? Is he better than Cook E. Jarr?
Anonymous said…
Benny Mardones is indeed a singer. "Into The Night" hit the top ten three separate times. Who else can claim they've done that? No one.

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