Saturday, June 16, 2007

Turning on the Stone

In honor of an impending trip to Turning Stone, I'm posting a story I wrote last semester. The instructions were to write a day in the life story. Most people wrote stories following around a local government official or resident of some note. I wrote a day in the life of a poker table. It's easily the most profitable story I've ever written.

Before that, I wanted to post a very exciting internet discovery. If you're already a fan of the show Arrested Development this is a treat, if you're not, I highly recommend watching a couple episodes. It's a matter of blasphemy to claim that there has ever been a better sitcom than Seinfeld but this show came very close.

On to the tale...

The only clock in Turning Stone casino resides in the poker room. The clock is there so that the dealers know when to switch tables. When I arrived on Wednesday evening the big hand was pointing to the 4 and the little hand had just passed the nine.

9:20: The room is well lit. Flat screen televisions line the room’s perimeter, fifty or so poker tables are in neat rows and columns, the carpet is generic casino tacky. I ponder the idea of a company that’s business is solely devoted to furnishing and carpeting casinos with the cheesiest patterns possible.

9:30: After putting my name on the list for a $100 max buy-in table I am called over the p.a. system. I am standing four feet from the man who announces my name into the microphone.

9:35: I am seated at a table with six 20-somethings, two of whom are listening to headphones; two 50-somethings, one of whom is getting a massage; and one 70-something; all male. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in poker rooms and this is a standard crowd.

9:40: The massage ends, the gentlemen receiving it, sitting directly to my right, says to the masseuse, “can you tell I’ve been driving all day?” she smiles at him as he hands her the money then walks away without responding.

9:50: I’m dealt a pair of queens and win $30 on the hand; a good start to the evening.

10:00: A new dealer by the name of Henderson arrives. Henderson is a cheery, short, Asian man.

10:25: I double my stack with Ace/King, I’m up to $250, the 20-something who lost the pot to me says “that one hurt” he’s down to under $100.

10:30: A new dealer Tiane arrives, the 70-something’s wife (?) has also arrived and is sitting right behind him at the table.

10:35: 70-something wins a very large pot, his lady friend is labeled a “lucky charm” by the all-day driver who then asks her to sit by him, the table chuckles.

10:45: I win a huge hand, crippling a pleasant, talkative, 20-something. My stack is over $500.

10:55: The pleasant, talkative, 20-something loses the remainder of his stack and walks away silent. He has lost over $400 in ten minutes. Upon his departure the 70-something says he feels bad, two of the 20-something’s disagree, saying they only feel bad that his chips didn’t end up in their stacks. The 70-something is the worst player at the table.

11:15: Two of the 20-somethings are from Long Island. I am from Long Island. One is from the town right next to my hometown and is good friends with a former classmate of mine. All of the 20-somethings at the table are in college or grad school. I ask a S.U.N.Y Binghamton student how long it takes him to get to the casino, he says “If you do between 85 and 90 the entire way it’s an hour an a half” he then confirms that he arrived in an hour and a half.

11:40: Henderson returns and says “Henderson back,” the table greets him warmly.

12:00: There is talk of a hand that occurred over an hour ago, when one player got lucky to defeat another player. Lucky player: “my hand wasn’t even that good.” Unlucky player (with an air of disgust): “I know.”

12:05: I knock out the 20-something from the town right next to mine. He walks away without saying goodbye. I am up to $600.

12:25: Binghamton is having a discussion with a floor manager about what he can and cannot do with his chips. He has over $400 in chips and wants to take some money off the table but “doesn’t want everyone thinking (he’s) a scumbag, cause (he’s) not.” The 70-something proceeds to refer to him as a scumbag for the next half an hour.

12:45: The table has thinned to five people, Binghamton calls the floor manager back over to inquire into the possibility of combining with one of the other $100 max buy-in tables so that we can play a full, ten handed game. Binghamton: “What do the other $100 tables look like?” Floor Manager: “’bout the same as this one, just scattered around the room.”

2:40: A father and son sit down at the table. Binghamton and I are the only two players left from when I arrived.

2:55: I ask what time it is, I can still see the clock but my cognitive abilities are beginning to fail me. Eric the dealer points me in the direction of the clock and says “2:55,” he proceeds to tell me that the clock is the only one in the casino; I promise myself I’ll leave when it says 3:30.

4:50: I stand up to leave. Binghamton is still at the table with eight other 20-somethings. I say goodbye, the whole table responds, none of them know my name. I walk out with $675, they all know how much I have.