Immediately after the show, I grabbed some snacks from the Green Room (after being out with bands all those years, I know it's all about the perks, baby!) and met Deb and my Dad at the sound stage door. Mom had stayed behind at the Holiday Inn Santa Monica with five month old Jackson while we were at the taping and we went to pick her up. On the way, I called back to South Carolina and found the group at the Salty Nut and gave them reason to celebrate a bit more than they already were. We had already packed and payed so after collecting Mom and Jack, we were on the road to Vegas. I had planned the trip so we would leave L.A. and make the late afternoon drive so we would hit Vegas at night. I wanted to see the Luxor light in all its glory. I don't even remember the afternoon traffic as I was on such a high from winning the game. Even when I ran out of interstate in Pasadena, I just kept on smiling and heading east.
The lights of Vegas are there as soon as it is dark. They say you can see them from the north rim of the Grand Canyon, 175 miles away. We finally crested the last hill, and the Strip appeared for my first sight. My only casino experience prior had been Harrah's in New Orleans and I was ready to go bigger. Now, this was all pre-poker and I don't think I had ever heard of a blog, but I did like to play black jack and I had $15,200.00 future dollars in my pocket that was itching for action.
Suffice to say, that in between winning on Jeopardy! and being in Vegas for the first time, I didn't get much sleep. The drive the next day to the south rim via Hoover Dam was a pleasure that kept me alert through my lack of sleep. We were only in Vegas for about twelve hours and I tried to use every moment of it. I walked the strip, I watched the porn slappers, I elbowed up to craps tables, and I soaked in everything I could. Most of all though, I sat and played black jack, giddy for the first and only time with the fact that the money meant nothing to me. It had been found and now I was willing to lose some of it. Of course, I am an atypical Pirate and my rational mind got the better of me before I could make it to the high dollar tables. I probably ended up playing 20 a hand, hitting and staying almost perfectly with the occasional foray into a crazy double down in homage to Buddy Steve before finally calling it a night a few hundred down. To this day though, I remember my dealer. Now that I know how they rotate dealers, it seems a dream that she was at my table so long. Maybe it was because it was a light weeknight at an off-time. Maybe it was an oversight. Maybe it was because she was very pregnant and they let her stay stationary as long as possible in deference to her condition. Maybe the pit boss was the Daddy and he was watching out for his unborn. All I know is that she was lovely and continued to take cards until she would break my 19s and 20s seemingly every time. I was a giddy Pirate though, and the father of a five month old, sleeping blissfully upstairs, unaware his Daddy was having one of the best days of his life a few floors away. I let myself get close to the felt, tossed a nice tip to her with a "Thank you ma'am and good luck to you," and headed on back to the room for a few hours sleep before day break and departure.
Some of you I have asked, but you are all authorized, to place a bet with any pregnant blackjack dealer you see in Vegas. I'm good for it.