It was several years ago. I was sitting at a Pai Gow sbo poker table. Actually my cocktail was sitting at the table. I was in the bottom of the glass and using the stir-straw as an airway to the high-octane-oxygenated air above.
I was just a few hours away from hitting the Bellagio poker room for the first time and in lock-stock-and-barrel preparation for a fully ill-equipped session of losing poker.
What did I know, you know? I was a low-stakes blackjack player who’d been lured into the sleezy and backstabbing world of Pai Gow poker, where cocktail waitresses will come by once every ten minutes if you leave a dollar chip on the padded rail and Pai Gow sharks will hit the dragon hand every time. Everyone looked at me funny when I asked if it was appropriate to chase the dragon at the table.
I left my tin foil and lighter in my pocket.
From the bottom of my glass, I’d been pestering the pit boss for a steak and eggs comp. I understood I’d have to play another three hours if I wanted my breakfast. And then, through the grapefruit juice and vodka, I heard the sound.
At first I thought the low-rent casino had given up on the idea of a lounge act and just started piping pre-recorded music through the room. After all, every song that came through sounded exactly like the original performer. Tom Jones, Aretha Franklin, Pat Boone.
I emerged from my glass for a much-needed trip to the restroom. The towel guy in the head was holding a mint for me. Later I would learn from Joey Two-Hands that pit bosses frown on playing a breath mint for the dealer, but I didn’t know that then.
As I passed by the lounge, I realized, it was not pre-recorded music. It was an actual lounge act. I watched the lead singer as he shifted and moved and changed his voice with every song. The only thing that made the guy more amazing was that he was a heavily-accented Asian guy.
Fucking amazing, I thought, then stumbled to the bathroom for my dollar breath-mint.
Now, I know, that little tale has nothing to do with poker.
But it does.
See, poker is a musical game. It has a clearly designed pattern like notes on a sheet music staff, but can fall into long periods of improvisation and chaos, a lot like a night I lay out of my mind on a blanket at a Grateful Dead show while a fourteen-year-old hackey-sacked Head sat stoned out of his mind behind me.
These days a lot of players bring their iPods to the table. I have no real problem with it. It’s a good way to break up the hours of monotony. I’d do it, but I have a serious need to listen to the table banter.
But it got me to thinking today. If bloggers had iPods at the table, to what would they be listening? Furthermore, does it say anything about their style of play?
I don’t think I’ve reached any conclusions on the latter, but I certainly know a few things about the former.
It’s no big secret that the resident kings of the Headbangers Ball are Al Can’t Hang and Bad Blood. Common sense would say they would be reckless, screaming, booze-swilling malcontents with a penchant for biting the heads of live koalas and check-raising with the jack-hammer, just because they like to show it down.
Well, that’s half true, I guess.
Enter Pauly and Up For Poker’s own G-Rob. From the Dead to Widespread to Phish, one would think these guys would be happy to sit back and let the cards come as they may, the results be damned.
Um…not so true.
The Americana Boys
From old school country to the acoustic stylings of Uncle Tupelo, folks like The Fat Guy, Iggy, HDouble, and the Poker Prof are right at home under the sunds of a slide guitar and beer-soaked song. Drunken country-brawlers, though? Not so much.
And then…there is of course, DJ Boy Genius and the Slick-Willies with their groovin’ hip hop sounds.
I tend to fit in with the Americana Boys category more than any other, although I have found myself with The Heads from time to time. And my iPod currently has everything from the Bottle Rockets, to Uncle Tupelo, to the Beatles, to the Beatie Boys, to Etta James.
I’m eclectic, what can I say?
I only bring it up, because several dozen of us will be converging on Vegas in less than two months. Sure, we’ll all have poker to bring us together. At the same time, I think that the only thing that brings people together better than poker is music.
So, I offer the comments section here for the Vegas-bound. If you were to wear an Ipod at the table, what would be on it?