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Into the Heartland (OKC Trip Report Pt. 1)

At 3:15am, Thursday night/Friday morning, I woke up with a fright. I didn't remember the dream I was in the middle of, but I did remember that I was heading to Okie Vegas early Friday morning, and my eyes immediately shot over to the clock. 3:15. I had a whole 45 minutes left to sleep. And this wasn't the first time I woke up either.

I remember as a kid, I used to wake up every 30 minutes before the first day of school. It was due to a mix of excitement and anxiety. I hadn't felt that way in years, not since I first took the job at my present firm. However, come Thursday night, it was in full force.

After all, I had a lot to be anxious about. I had received a free flight thanks to my credit card air miles, but the flights available were all at atrocious times. If everything went according to plan, I would be on a flight headed toward Chicago at 6am, arriving at 7 and catching a connecting flight at 8. That meant that I needed to be at Newark Airport for my flight at 4:30am, a good 1 and 1/2 hours before takeoff. That also meant that I had to arrange a car service, because it'd take too long in the wee hours of the morning for me to go by the variety of trains (two transfers, three different train entities).

It wasn't all anxiety, though. I was also damn excited. Okie Vegas officially kicked off Thursday when most of the crew arrived in beautiful Oklahoma City to meet up and check-raise the local douschebags out of their weekly checks. I hated being Johnny Come Lately, but the free flight helped make the trip viable and I was at the mercy of United Airlines.

After waking up another two or three times, I finally dragged myself out of bed at 4am. It had to be the earliest I woke up in years. I sleepily got dressed in the clothes laid out the night before (I knew I'd be too tired to remember to wear socks, for instance) and grabbed my packed bag.

I was at the airport at 6am and made my way to the gate. One of the greatest innovations in the airline industry in the last 10 years is online check-in. Nothing is worse than getting to the airport, waiting in line for your boarding pass, waiting in line for security and then waiting in line at your gate. At least with online check-in, the first line is out of the way.

I arrived at the gate and checked the flight time. Everything looked fine. I strolled over to a bench and sat down, facing a bank of TV screens. On a hunch, I walked over and looked for my flight, and then I saw it: DELAYED 7:15am.

Surely, that couldn't be MY flight. After all, if it was delayed, I'd miss my connecting flight and be stranded in Chicago (I can think of worse places to be stranded, but I had poker bloggers to meet, damnit!). I looked over to my gate and saw the United jet outside. The weather was perfect, which was unexpected, since the weather reports were all doom and gloom for the last three days. Shit, I thought. This is just fucked!

I pulled my phone from my bag and called United. "Sorry sir, but the flight is delayed and you are going to miss your connecting flight." "Okay, when is the next flight I can get on to Oklahoma. "Let me see..." She went silent. For four minutes. "Hello?," I asked. "One second sir. All flights are booked." "WHAT?!" "Let me check Tulsa" (I have no idea how far Tulsa is from OKC, mind you.) "Nope. Booked." "WHAT??!!" For a second there, I thought through how I was going to tell GCox and the rest of the crew. Then I thought about my weekend, and how crappy it was going to be sitting around thinking about what I was missing out of in Oklahoma. Then, but the grace of god, the customer service rep got her head out of her ass. "Oh wait, sir, you were already automatically booked on the 10am to OKC, arriving at 2:12." Fucking moron.

It was still around 6am, so I texted G to let him know about my 4 hour delay. Later, he would tell me about how is cell woke him up at the asscrack of dawn, but at the moment, my only goal was to inform him before he hopped in his car at 9:45 to pick me up.

I then found a nice corner, laid down, turned on my iPod, set my cell phone alarm, and attempted to sleep. A few hours later, I was in a plane, attempting to sleep some more. Any port in a storm, I figured, and I knew that I needed some sleep to make it through the weekend.

When I arrived in Chicago, I went to a kiosk for my new boarding pass. The computerized kiosks are the second greatest innovation in airiline travel in the last 10 years. I love any opportunity to avoid human contact! Unfortunately, my ticket told me that they couldn't give me a seat number until I got to the gate. This sounded suspiciously like Standby, so I hustled around the airport before I saw a United Customer Service desk. I figured they'd be helpful and, luckily, I was right. Apparently, United has two types of Economy Seats, Economy and Economy Plus. The Plus version has a whopping 5 inches of additionaly legroom and costs $30 extra per flight. Ironically, about 1/2 of Economy seats are Economy Plus, so its just another racket. Those were the only seats available, so the kiosk wouldn't freeroll me the free 5 inches. In fact, the customer service rep wouldn't either, first telling me it'd cost $30. I would've gladly paid it too, to avoid this nonsense, but first I did a little ole customer service complaining...and it worked. Freeroll!

I got to the gate and stopped at a little place serving sandwiches. Thank god it wasn't another fast food joint, and I got an egg, cheese and bacon sandwich to help build my constitution. Once done, I settled into a seat near an outlet and watched an episode of Battlestar Gallactica on my laptop. The flight finally was ready to board and I was off to my final destination. I took some time during the flight to squeeze in a a few more Zzzzs, but like my other attempts, it was mostly broken rest with little cumulative effect.


I arrived in OKC and strolled into the airport. I kept my eye out for poker degenerates and finally came upon them by the exit. I had met Tripjax and 23 Skidoo before, but the other guy was new to me. I knew, however, that Trip had been traveling with Surflexus, and I had known Surflexus from the Intertubes for a good two years. Blogs are interesting things. In a very real way, you can know a person more from a month's worth of blog posts than if you were to work in the same office with them for a year. There is something about the sheer amount of information out there, including style as much as substance. Add in the various Challenges I ran in the past and the blogger tournaments and chat rooms and I felt like I knew Surf even if I couldn't identify him out of a line-up.

We walked out into the hot Oklahoma weather and met up with GCox and Katitude in the parking lot, where they were polishing off a quick beer. From there, I hopped into Surf and Trip's rental and we began the hour-long drive to G's lake house in the boondocks of the boondocks. The year before, Trip was at Okie Vegas with SteelerJosh only, and as he told it, during the drive into Nowheresville, he began to wonder if G was actually an axe murderer. Luckily, he was my guinea pig, so I was able to enjoy the drive into the Sticks. "Ooh, a HORSE!" "That's a donkey." "Seems appropriate."

Surf also regaled me of their poker odyssey taking place over the last few days. Trip and Surf had driven from Atlanta, stopping at Tunica where Surf chopped a tournament four ways. As a souvenir, Surf kept a $5 chip for me. He also told me about their trip to the Oklahoma card rooms the night before where almost everyone won money except for our host GCox and Surf. Gary Carson was at the festivities that night and I went on mini-tilt when I learned that I missed meeting the poker crumudgeon who was so often cited by Iggy and seems to have a problem with Linda from Pokerworks (how you can have a problem with Linda is beyond me).

In my head, the lakehouse was a small trailer about 30 feet from the edge of a huge expansive lake. In reality, the lakehouse was a huge trailer that appeared more like a new home to me. As a NYC resident, I am not versed in the ways of trailers, so I was picturing a silver steed or something similar. This was more like a pre-fab house, a fab pre-fab house at that. There were four bedrooms total and a closed off porch that felt as big as my apartment. I dropped my bag down, and the majority of us decided to head to the local bar/market/restaurant for some quick eats.

Kat, 23Skidoo, Surf and I took the 1 1/2 block walk and ordered up our assorted burders. When we discovered that it'd take 30 minutes, I contemplating waiting at the lakehouse, but Skidoo, always up for a good time, had a better idea. "Let's go to the bar."

The bar was a simple room with a nicely sized squared off bar in the corner. There was a pool table with the balls already racked and three dartboards. Three drinkers were already mulling about, one of them on one of the 6 or so old computerized slot machines. I never asked if they were actual slots.

We ambled to the bar and ordered 2 Buds and 2 Bud Lights. The tab came to $7, paid for by Skidoo or Surf, and I laid out the tip. I used the NYC calculation of $1 per drink, which came to $4, over half the tab. I handed it to the elderly female bartender and she asked if I was looking for quarters. "Nope, that's for you." "For quarters?" "No. For you." She finally accepted and tossed the bucks into the tip jar.

As we waited for our beers, I noticed a sign above the bar for $1 Zimas. I pointed it out to my compadres and Kat asked for the 8th time that day, "What's _______?" I explained that it was a second-generation wine cooler, the first generation being the Bartles & James era, and the third being the recent Schmirnoff Ice genre. Zima was marketed heavily in the 1990s and then seemed to fall off of the globe as most people mocked it as girlie. I thought they had went under, which led me to wonder if the last bottles of the 1993 batch of Zima had somehow made its way to this random corner of the Earth. I was too manly to order one though. Yep, that's me. All man.

We grabbed some darts and Skidoo shamed me with his skill versus my weak ass throw. By the time we were done with the drinks and darts, it was about 30 minutes so we returned for the burgers.

From my eye, there was no progress made on the burgers, so we waited around another 15 or more minutes. Once we were ready to go, someone else paid (Surf this time?) and we started our walk back. The food was great, particularly the juicy burgers. After eating, we decided it was finally time to sit down for some poker. We gathered around the kitchen table and dealt out some .25/.50 NL, $50 max buy-in.

I played as I would play the entire weekend, early and often. Maybe I should look into some form of rehab, but I can't seem to play tight. I like to get in there and mix it up. By the end of any game, everyone thinks I'm full of shit (at blogger games, they think this before I sit down), but it works for me. I don't remember particular hands, but when it was all said and done, I was up $6.25. By then, the other members of the soiree had arrived, namely Maudie, Gracie and fellow NYer F-Train.

We all hung around and had a couple of drinks. Eventually, the girls decided to take a walk, and the guys hung back. I don't remember what we were even talking about, but it was all very comfortable and natural. We realized that no more poker was going to be played (for a while, anyway), and cashed everyone out. Then we headed back to the local bar to enjoy the usual Boondocks, Oklahoma evening festivities.

Picture a bar in the middle of a wooded/farmland neighborhood in a Southern state. Picture all the locals gathering weekly (or maybe nightly?) to get out of the house, have some brews, and visit with neighbors. Now picture the scene 10 or so degenerate online poker players from disparate parts of the US make when they enter.

Luckily, everyone was very friendly, including Kay Kay, the owner, who misunderstood my quick NY speech and thought I had called her an ugly hag. By the end of the night, that confusion was all cleaned up, but it probably wasn't my smoothest moment. Meanwhile, F-Train and I showed Trip and Surf how to play pool, er, or at least tried, losing 2 out of 3 games. I also always had a beer in my hand, complete with a can cozy that was apparently the official way to drink canned beer in Oklahoma. The locals had laid out a bunch of Southern food like fried catfish and hush puppies, but first Trip, Surf and I ordered some of the bars' pizzas. The staff was great and friendly, and the locals were mostly glad to have this ragtag group around. The ladies particularly seemed to liven up at the site of fresh meat, and the guys, who all greatly respected GCox, were happy to introduce themselves and then attempt to crush my puny hand bones with their kung fu grips. One guy in particular, nicknamed (I kid you not) "Shithead", came over to where I sat and talked to me about NY vs. OK. He thought it was great that we were all in OK to hang out with G, and he was amazed that I came all the way from NYC. When I want to explain how NYC is different from most places, I simply explain that I don't have a car. If I need to explain further, I go on about the amazing variety of things that can be delivered. That, generally, is enough to show them what a different life it is. The old catch-all is the idea that every five blocks in NYC is like a different neighborhood, but in hindsight, when a town only has 5 blocks, each a mile long, maybe that doesn't illustrate the craziness of NY too well.

Whatever the case, I didn't have an empty can (no glasses that night, just cans of beer) for the entire evening, and I even got a chance to try Miller Chill, a lime-flavored beer that I hadn't seen advertised until, ironically, Sunday night in NYC. One of the local ladies at the bar was drinking, and when I got into a conversation with her and another person, I asked about the beer. "Want a try?" she offered the bottle. And, with no shame, I took a sip. Not bad, but it will fall into the same trap of Tequiza. Its good for one or two beers, tops, and then it'll likely taste like crap.

I had no concept of time, but after an hour or two, we left the bar to return to the house and play an SNG. Instant Tragedy was on his way to Oklahoma from Texas, a 6 hour drive, and was heading out the next morning. I was exhausted from all of the travel and booze, but I was in OK to party, not sleep, so I hung around with everyone as we waited for Tragedy to arrive. In the meanwhile, we set up the SNG and came up with a clever way to bust Tragedy's chops. I arranged the deck to deal him pocket Kings and Maudie AQs. The flop was going to be KxKsJs, the turn Ts, and the river another Jack. The goal was to make him lose his flopped quads to Maudie's turned straight flush. To make sure we stacked the deck right, we ran the cards twice and then ran them again without removing them from the deck, announcing "2nd seat, 3rd seat, KING, 4th seat, and so on." As it turned out, Maudie, Gracie and F-Train weren't even planning on staying around for the SNG, but they were in on the prank so they stayed put to meet Tragedy.

When Tragedy arrived, he shook hands all around. He is the co-host of the Buddy Dank Radio Show, so it was nice to put a face to the voice I hear so many Wednesdays. To add to our merry prankster ways, we also introduced him to Iggy, played amicably by a very quiet Surf. Once we all sat down, Kat dealt out our doctored hand. When it got to me, I folded. The player to my left folded as well, but showed me his cards as he did it. It included the King of Diamonds. After Tragedy folded, I called the whole thing off. "DAMNIT! I can't even set a cold deck!" We admitted the failed prank to Tragedy and also pointed out that the towering Surflexus was not actually a midget housewife. Tragedy was a good sport and actually suspected that something was up on both accounts. At least it was fun on paper.

Once Maudie, et al., left, the rest of us sat down to the $20 SNG. I was first out when my KK ran into Kat's AA in a hand she played well and I played horribly. Namely, when she pushed on the Queen-high flop, I put her on pocket Queens but still made the call. Even though my QQ read was wrong, the result was the same, and I was dominated. I only had 50 chips left and got all-in with my AJ vs. A2 vs. T9, but a rivered Ten sealed my fate.

At this point, it was 2am or so, and having had little sleep the night before (3 broken hours, to be exact), I was aching for bed. I said goodnight to the crew, thanks Tragedy for the Sopranos pens he gave me as a Gigli prize (they write amazingly well, by the way; much better than Sopranos creator David dump dump dump), and chose the smallest bedroom. I hit the sack and woke up once or twice to the noise of poker in the next room. Little did I know that the rest of the crew was up until 5am or so, except for Skidoo, who passed out on a recliner right next to all the noise but didn't wake up (or move) once the entire night.

More coming up later, including my singing debut, a long tournament, and my invasion of the GCox household.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 12:57 PM,


At 7:07 PM, Blogger GaryC said...

I can't wait to hear the rest, bro.

It was an unbelievable weekend and I thank you for making the trip. Please thank wifey Kim for me also.

I look forward to the next one.


At 8:19 PM, Blogger Maudie said...

I'm so glad you made it Okie-ville. You could possibly have a second career as a rapper, I'm thinking, heh!


At 11:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The player to my left folded as well, but showed me his cards as he did it. It included the King of Diamonds."

HIS cards? I knew I should have had Surflexus stack the deck.

Was great seeing you and your hilarious antics this weekend. Stay tuned to YouTube. I didn't erase the tape.

At 9:24 AM, Blogger Jordan said...

It was YOU, Gracie? For some reason, I remembered it being Skidoo who showed me his cards, but he didn't remember that. I was trying to figure out which one of us was more drunk (i.e., which was delusional). I guess that's me!


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