After my last blog, in which I credited my friend Britt for being generous, I received a complaint from Rychy Shamley.
It seems the ole Shamlerooski was feeling a bit green.
“How come you kept saying how generous Britt is,” he said. “I stayed in Vegas with you for a week and you didn’t say anything about me being generous. Didn’t even write a blog about it at all.”
He’s right. I did stay with Rychy for a week in Vegas and didn’t mention his generosity. Or write a blog. Half of that will change right now.
I don’t remember what year this was but it had to be around 2013. We stayed at the Rio during the World Series of Poker although I don’t think either of us played any tournaments at all.
I have a few strong memories from that trip. First off, the food at the Rio sucks. We tried just about everything and none of it was any good. Second, we couldn’t get the hotel room cooler than about 75 degrees. Made it hard to sleep good.
I also remember Rychy and the Rio conspiring to scam me out of $100. We had played poker all day and were ready to quit and find something good to eat. As I mentioned, this required leaving the Rio because all their food sucks. It must have been around midnight.
Rychy knew about a great sushi place that was open real late and offered half-price sushi and beer after 10 p.m. or something like that. Sounded like a great idea, so we took a cab over there. Indeed, it was a great idea. The sushi and beer was delicious. However, it’s possible that one of those items may have clouded my judgment for the hours ahead.
We took a taxi back to the Rio and decided to stop by one of the bars on the way back to the room for a beer. We ordered one beer each and the bartender said, “That’ll be $16.” This outrageous price seemed even more absurd considering we had probably paid $2.50 each for our beers at the sushi place.
That’s when Rychy came up with an ingenious idea. He said to the bartender, “They’re free if we are gambling, right?” Barkeep confirmed. So Rychy said, “Let’s just play a little video poker here. We’ll probably win enough to pay for the sushi and get our beers for free.”
For whatever reason — must have been the sushi — this seemed like a good idea to me as well. And for a minute it was working even better than we imagined. We put our money into the machine at the bar and won several hands right off the bat. We were heckling the bartender, as if it were his money we were winning. “I can’t believe they give you free beers and pay you money just for sitting here and pressing buttons!”
“We were just trying to bring a beer back to the room and they forced us to take all this money with us!!”
Shockingly, the cards started to break even. Which means the house got its money back and then some. I think we ended up losing about $100 each on that stupid machine. Not the cheapest beer I’ve ever had.
Speaking of surprisingly expensive Vegas experiences, my steak at Cut with Britt and Jeremy reminded me of another story.
This one is even older, maybe 2007. I was in Vegas with my friend Chad and his buddy Aaron. I was still working at the newspaper at this time, so the opportunity to play $1/$2 hold em for 30 hours over three days was rare and incredibly appealing to me. We were staying at The Mirage, and the three of us kind of did our own thing for most of the trip, although Chad also played a lot of poker. But before we even got to Vegas, we scheduled one fancy dinner at the steakhouse there at the Mirage. This would be our one “splurge” meal for three guys who were probably making less than $100k per year combined.
So we got dressed up and went to the place. Everything on the menu looked great, but the waiter mentioned that their special was a kobe steak. You know, the fancy stuff from the cows that drink beer. That’s about all I knew about it, but this waiter kept talking up how great it was and I figured it was a “When in Rome” situation so I ordered it. Without inquiring about the price. Literally every steak or entree on the menu was priced between $30 and $40, which was already a lot of money for me. I just assumed the Kobe would be about the same. But you know what happens when you assume.
I knew I was in trouble when the waiter came by to check on me three different times while I was eating the steak. Chad and Aaron both ordered off the regular menu and he did not give one crap about them. The first time he ran up right after I got the steak and yelled, “HOW YOU LIKING THAT KOBE!!!???” He then waltzed off without even checking on Chad or Aaron’s food.
This brought about some speculation on our part as to how much the steak would cost. I knew it would be way more than Chad or Aaron’s. I figured it probably cost twice as much, something in the $60 range. When the check came, Chad pounced on it, opened it up and exclaimed, “HOLY F***!!”
And that is the story about how a guy making $28,000 per year and trying to pay off $45,000 in student debt paid $150 for a steak (not counting side items, taxes or tip). I felt so guilty. I remember calling Missy — we had only been married a year or so — worrying that she would be quite mad at me. I can’t say she was thrilled but she handled it really well.
I also have to say that was the best steak I’ve ever had in my life. It’s the only one I’d put ahead of the one I had in Vegas last week. I didn’t even need a steak knife, it was so tender and the flavor just poured out of it. I’m glad I didn’t know how much it cost as I was eating it.
My final Vegas story comes from 2016, the last time we drove out to Vegas as a family, and the only time we did it with our full complement of four kids. We did some really fun stuff as a family on that trip. Vegas actually has a lot of fun stuff for kids and families. We went on the giant ferris wheel at the Linq (where the picture above came from), and to a Triple-A baseball game.
This “story” is really just an excuse to show off this cute picture of Hawk at the baseball game. Addie was seven years old at the time, and just as enthusiastic for life as she is now. They had a dancing contest between innings and one of the ushers said she liked Addie’s dancing so much that she gave Addie a ball. Addie then had that ball autographed, not by any of the players but by the Vegas mascot, which is an alien (the guy on my helmet in the picture). That ball was one of her most prized possessions for the next couple of years.