Happy Thanksgiving! As a special treat and public service, I am reposting (with permission, of course) PART of one of my all-time favorite blog posts, which was written by poker and blog buddy Rob of Rob's Vegas and Poker Blog. I don't believe my laptop has enough memory to copy the ENTIRE lengthy post (probably a short post by Rob's usual standards), but if you liked the part I am posting, you can read the entire post and 50 subsequent comments here.
So, without further ado ...
My Travels with Tony
Finally have the chance to do the post
about my first ever meeting with Tony, aka TBC, aka Tony
I can’t imagine too many of my readers
aren’t familiar with the legendary TBC, but for those one of two of you who
actually need an introduction, here goes. Tony is really an internet
phenomenon, having had a variety of different blogs with different hosts for
many years now. They have always been hugely popular. Tony doesn’t have a
permanent residence, depending on the kindness of casino comps (and yes,
sometimes paying out of pocket) for rooms pretty much everywhere across the
country where poker rooms exist. Tony blogs about his attempt to grind out a
living playing low stakes poker (mostly 1/2 or 1/3 NL Hold ‘Em). The comments
sections on his blogs are really unique. He has many fans, many followers and
also many detractors, who are unafraid of expressing their disdain for Tony in
the harshest tone possible. Tony is also well known for his unfortunate
attachment to the Video Blackjack machines many casinos have, and for his love
of mashed potatoes. I’ll leave it there.
And as I said, I had never met Tony
before. I started following his blog relatively late compared to most of his
followers. Probably started around the same time I started this blog, give or
take. And although Tony was living in Vegas part of the time I was blogging and
during some of my previous visits there, I had somehow managed to never meet up
And it appeared that this streak was
going to continue this trip. As I mentioned in this
post, a TBC follower by the name of Koala (who
has neither a blog nor a twitter ID I can link to) arranged not one but two
tournaments in Tony’s honor for this summer. (Note, since Koala is from
Australia, perhaps he can identify the big breasted, bosomy blonde bandit
discussed in my last
post.) The first of which was Sunday, June 24th.
There was just one problem. Tony was stuck in Atlantic City and would seemingly
miss both of his tournaments, or at least the first one, the one I could
Since the comments sections of Tony’s
blog had developed quite a community of followers, the plan was to have the
tournaments/Meet & Greets anyway, even without Tony’s presence. So that’s
what I expected to happen.
To the rescue came blogger Pete P.
Peters, aka The Poker
Barrister. Pete had met Tony recently in Atlantic City and
very generously offered to buy him a ticket to fly back to Vegas (where he’s
better off living anyway) in time for the first tournament. So Tony arrived in
Vegas very late Saturday night, less than 24 hours before the tournament in
Tony’s honor at The Riviera.
My day started with lunch at the BSC
with Lightning. It was my treat (well, I paid with my comps so nothing out of
pocket). I tried to invite Josie to join us as well, but she was
totally unavailable to be reached by any form of modern communication. She
doesn’t have Twitter on her cell phone, despite saying on her blog she would be
available through Twitter while in Vegas. In other words, she lied. I didn’t
have her phone number to send her a text or call her. Lightning did have her
number (boy, does he have her number) but she didn’t respond to his texts or his
calls. Now she later gave various excuses…her phone died, she was out at the
pool, she was asleep…..but there was a rumor circulating that she had met the
Italian Soccer team at a bar at Bally’s and had taken the whole lot of them to
her room to “entertain” them—as only Josie can. I hope those soccer boys were
worth the free meal you passed up, Josie.
So it was just the two of us. During
the lunch, we began getting tweets from Tony asking where we were, what we were
doing, and where the hell was Josie. We didn’t know the answer to the latter,
but when Tony said he and Pete Peters were playing some poker at the Flamingo,
we said we would join them when we finished eating.
But not without some drama first. By
the time we finished our late lunch, it was so late that Lightning started
getting concerned about Josie’s non response (you would think he’d be used to
non-responsive women by now). Before heading to the Flamingo, he wanted to go
to Bally’s and check further into Josie’s status. He was genuinely concerned
for her well being. Was she just sleeping off a long nite (with or without
soccer players) or was she perhaps sick or even in more dire straits?
So instead of going straight to
Flamingo, I drove us to Bally’s and Lightning had security do a “wellness check”
on her. The drama between the two of them over this decision on Lightning’s
part has been documented by both of them, see here and here. Please note that Josie says she
was naked and dripping wet when security
called her. Also note that from what I could tell, only hearing one side of the
conversation between Josie and Lightning, it was Lightning’s concern for her
that pissed Josie off, and thus Josie being pissed off was pissing Lightning
off. I was the only one of the three of us not pissed off. Other than that, I
have nothing further to add to this situation, except to say that it appears the
two of them have since kissed and made up.
We left my car at Bally’s and walked
to the Flamingo. This is not a particularly long walk, as long as it isn’t 175
degrees outside. Since it was, in fact, 175 degrees outside, it did actually
seem like a bit of a schlep.
But finally we entered the Flamingo
poker room and before I could identify Tony from his pictures, Lightning spotted
him or Tony spotted Lightning.
I wish I could accurately recreate
Tony’s greeting to Lightning. I will do my best but I can’t do it justice.
Although Tony appeared to notice me, he completely ignored me and started
talking a mile a minute to Lightning. “Oh, I’m so glad you’re here, you have a
car don’t you? I need someone with a car to help me out, I have to go back
downtown to pick up my cellphone charger because my phone is dead and I need to
charge it. I need to contact Josie I have my laptop here to lend her so she can
blog from here but she didn’t respond to my texts do you know where she is where
is she? And I’m starving to death so I need to go back to Four Queens I have a
$40 comp there which expires at midnite and I need to eat and I can get some
food which I can put in my refrigerator except for what I have to eat right away
cuz I’m starving to death. And then bring me back here to finish playing poker
before the tournament at the Riviera tonite.”
No way is that an accurate quote, but
it is a reasonable facsimile.
I think he spoke like 10 minutes
without taking a breath. When he finally did, Lightning was able to get a word
in and said, “I don’t have a car.”
Tony said, “Oh, I thought you were
renting a car.” Then he turned to me. “I assume this is Rob? Rob, you have a
car, don’t you?” I’m not sure if I even had a chance to answer, as the next
thing I knew Tony pretty much repeated exactly what he had just said to
Lightning to me.
Again, he caught his breath and I had
a decision to make. I had known Tony personally for less than 20 minutes, and
still hadn’t said a word to him. Do I help him out and drive him downtown and
help him with his errands? I really came there to play some poker, after all.
While I was thinking of this, I got to
meet Pete, who wasn’t there at the table when we arrived but showed up a few
minutes later, he was sitting right next to Tony at the poker table. It was a
brief discussion and I got to find out Pete’s real name—or at least, what he
said was his real name. Frankly, it sounds even less likely than Pete Peters
(which of course, is a classic double phallic name, for those of you who like
double penises). And can you imagine someone using fake names on their blog!
Now I had followed Tony long enough to
not be even remotely surprised by any of this. Frankly, in anticipation of
meeting Tony, I imagined a request like this, and I had pretty much decided I
would help him like this if it came to that. Besides, Tony has helped my blog
out a few times by plugging it on his site, and back when he had the more normal
blog, adding me to his blogroll. So I figured I owed him. So I kind of
considered this a “right of passage”. Welcome to the Tonyverse, Rob.
So I agreed and Lightning joked that
they would look for my body in the desert. I asked Pete and Lightning if they
wanted to join us and they both declined. I told Tony we would have to walk
back to Ballys to get to my car. Keep in mind that I had not sat down since
leaving my car at Ballys way back when. And now we had to walk back to the
Ballys garage from the Flamingo poker room in the 175 degree heat.
Tony assumed this would be a quick
trip and considered just leaving his chips at the table at Flamingo. I
recommended he pick them up and cash out, we wouldn’t have to wait long for a
seat when we returned. If we returned. Hint, we never returned.
So with laptop and dying cell phone in
hand, Tony and I headed to my car at Ballys. On the way Tony mostly expressed
his concern about Josie. It took me 10 minutes to find a pause to tell him what
happened with Lightning and her. He was relieved. He suggested that if Josie
was a guy, her lack of response could only possibly mean that she (or he,
in that case), had picked up a hooker! But since Josie is a girl, he had to
dismiss that possibility.
He seemed very disappointed that he
wouldn’t be able to lend Josie his laptop as he planned. I said that now that
Josie had charged her phone (or was charging it) he could text her and possibly
drop it off for her while we went downtown. But he said his phone was too dead
to be able to text. Then he said, “I could have you phone or text her, but I
promised her I would never give her number to anybody, so I can’t give you the
Yes, that’s right. Josie gave Tony
her phone number, but not me.
We got to my car and headed downtown.
On the way, Tony alternately was extremely talkative and extremely quiet. We
discussed poker a bit, like why unpopular rooms like Riviera and Treasure Island
have 1/3 no limit instead of 1/2 no limit. Since I had mentioned it in a recent
here), he asked me why I hate the button straddle so much. We actually had
a very long, very worthwhile discussion about it. And yes, sometime in the
future I will explain why I hate so much.
Once at Four Queens, Tony got me a
free parking pass and went about to get his food. He took his comp to a Hugo’s
Cellar, a nice restaurant there (well, it has a nice reputation, I’ve never
eaten there). This was, I believe, the same restaurant that Tony took Josie too
the next night, when Koala, Lightning and I were specifically prohibited from
joining them. ((Edited to add, in the comments below, Tony has corrected me.
The restaurant Tony brought the food from that he took to the room was
Magnolia's, not Hugo's Cellar. But he did take Josie to Hugo's Cellar the next
night. Both are at The Four Queens.))
Tony ordered a bunch of food and now
we had to take it back to his room, where he had a very nice big refrigerator.
I helped Tony carry the food and his laptop. Yes, I carried his laptop. I only
point this out because Tony is known for his trust issues.
Tony put most of his food away and
then sat on the floor of his room and ate his chili. There were also some
French fries with it, that he didn’t order. No mashed potatoes, though. He did
offer me some fries but I was still full from lunch.
Looking at the time, he realized that
he had done the right thing cashing out. It was much longer than an hour after
we left Flamingo. He kept saying how surprised he was how long this was taking
he expected it to take a lot less time. I told him that pretty much everything
one does ends up taking longer than you expect.
By the time we got back in the car and
were ready to leave downtown, we both agreed there was no point in returning to
the Flamingo. We decided that we might as well head straight to the Riviera. I
could see from my “Bravo Live” app on my phone that they had a 1/3 game going,
so we could play that until the tournament started.
Fair enough. So just as I was about to
pull into the Riviera parking lot, Tony got another idea.
“Hey, let’s check out the new Ellis
Island poker room. We’ve got time.” We had heard through
Twitter that a tiny locals casino a few blocks off the Strip, Ellis Island, had
just a day or two ago opened a poker room. Ellis Island has slots, a small live
pit, but is mostly known to locals for it’s excellent food. If you ever go
there, be sure to ask for the “locals special” in the dining room. A poker room
was a new idea for them.
Ok, I had just enough time not to turn
into the lot, and we headed to Ellis Island. We got there about 5:45PM. We
discovered a totally empty “poker room” (two tables) with a sign saying that the
poker room opens at 6PM! There were two employees there, one a dealer, sitting
at an empty table and one a floor person—who knew Tony. We weren’t about to
hang around until 6 and hope that people magically show up then to start a
game. We headed back towards the Riviera.