Saturday morning, Pete Peters arose before dawn and caught a flight to Chicago. Why spend the weekend watching football in D.C. when you can spend the weekend watching football in Chicago?
I touched down around 9:00 am local time. My buddy Ross -- a Chicago resident - - swung around the airport loop and picked me up. Gamblor was scheduled to fly in from New York around 11:20, so we had some time to kill. We decided to spend it at Rivers Casino, a short drive away. The place was empty. Yet, the black jack tables were all $25 minimum. We figured Gamblor would want to play some 21 when he arrived, so Ross and I decided to just grind some VP for a couple of hours and catch up. All of the single hand games were $1 minimum. Absolutely insane. In order to play max credits, you'd have to bet $5 a hand. Too rich for my blood (although, sadly, there were some old ladies letting it fly at $5 a pop . . . It was like watching an anti-gambling commercial live and in person . . .). Anyway, we found a bank of $100 hand machines, and let it rip. At one point, I got down to my last .55 cents. Then I hit some hands, and worked my crisp hundred back up to $116. Ultimately, Ross left with 24 cents profit. I was the big winner -- a flat quarter in the black. Bragging rights to Pete Peters....
After swinging back by the airport to pick up Gamblor, we went back to Rivers for some lunch. Then we met up with Gamblor's friend, Greg, who also lives in Chicago, and found an empty black jack table. Now, if you'll recall, my last few sessions of 21 have not worked out well. It was time for momentum to swing back in favor of P3. It had to. It was time for a heater. My watch was way, way off . . . I bought in for $300 and was stacked before the first shoe ran dry. My first hand played was 33 on a dealer 6. I split. Pulled a 10 and a 7 . . . stayed, and doubled . . . . to a 16. Of course. But, the hand is still looking OK, right? Until the dealer pulls 18 . . . down $105 first hand. And it got no better. Eventually, down to my last $35, I pull another spot to double down. I reach into my sock for another crisp hundred. In for $400. I lose the hand. I lose the next hand for $25. Then I put my remaining $55 or so down.... and lose that too. Down $400 in twenty minutes.... Down $1,200 or so the past three weeks in about an hour of combined play. 8 double-downs lost in a row. I think it's time to take a break from the 21...
After getting our hats handed to us at Rivers, we headed into the city and settled in at a bar on Clark, just across the street from Wrigley Field, to watch the afternoon NCAA games. Then, around 9:00, it was off to dinner. Filets at Gibsons. We racked up a decent bill over the course of 2 hours. Several bottles of wine compounded the damage. In the end, only one reasonable thing to do -- "Credit Card Roulette" for the $700 tab . . . Fittingly, Gamblor takes this one in the ass . . .
11:30 or so. Saturday night. Off to the dive bar across the street. Gamblor is less-than-pleased with the results of the day's wagering. He wants to push it. Usually, this is the time of the evening when this crew breaks out the dice. But we were dice-less. But no worries. We each have hands. And cash. We do the only reasonable thing -- "rock-paper-scissors" for $20's . . . The metagame was outstanding. True "level 3" thinking:
Everyone knows that Rock is the most popular starting move. I know that you know that. You will think, therefore, that I'm going Paper. Which makes Rock the play. . . .
Hard to find an edge in this crowd. The game goes on for half-hour or so with bills changing hands and adult beverages being drained. Then it happens. Ross's wife's best friend "randomly" shows up at the bar. And she's with a group of her own friends. Coincidence? Likely. I mean, Chicago is a small town with only a handful of bars. Ugh. Either way, the degenerate wagering comes to an abrupt end. Women in their mid-forties really don't think four guys playing rock-paper-scissors for cash is very cool. Instead, we spend the next hour pretending to not be hammered and engaging in forced conversation. "Oh. So you work for WholeFoods . . . You open new locations . . . You just moved to Chicago to open a few new stores. Cool. How do you like living in Chicago so far?" Meanwhile, of course, I'm staring at her chest, wondering if she really has decent sized tits or if its just some sort of Victoria's Secret-Induced Magic . . . wondering if I have a shot with her . . . if she'd be the oldest chick I've ever slept with . . . and what the fallout would be the next morning when Ross' wife finds out that I took advantage of her friend (or, perhaps more accurately, if I allowed this forty-eight year old to take advantage of me . . .). In the end, the mental exercise is all for nothing, as her ugly friend imbibes too much, too quickly, and forces the impromptu gathering to a premature close . . . We gentlemen decide to have a nightcap (drink # 15 for the day seems necessary) before we call it a night . . .
Of course, upon arriving back at Ross' palatial palace, we decide our nightcap was premature. We grab a bottle from our host's wine collection and retreat to his rooftop deck to enjoy the fortuitously mild Chicago weather. The fire pit is simply delightful. We recall stories from years past, when we were younger, more energetic. The trip to Vegas when we lost our friend Sean for a full 24 hours . . . The trip to Baton Rouge for the LSU game . . . where we racked up an $800 bar tab pre-gaming across the street from the stadium and never actually made it in to the game that we flew across the county to see . . . That time in New Orleans when we bought Jaeger shots for the whole bar, but no one else would take one, so we drank all 30 ourselves . . . Now, of course, a fun night out is Steaks and wine. Life moves on. Things are not the same. Unclear whether things are better now or not. It's so easy to wax philosophical late in the morning after a 14 hour bender. But at 3:00 am, our night finally comes to a close . . .
Sunday was a standard NFL Sunday. Brunch in the Andersonville neighborhood, and then back out to watch the games. At 7:00, I hopped a cab back to O'Hare . . . Zoooom at 9:00 . . . Back home through my door in Bethesda, Maryland at 1:00 am . . . Another weekend in the books . . .