Las Vegas Weekend

Dan Smokin'!

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on the Strip


Part 4 - Scratching the Seedy Underbelly

Seeing everything they wanted to see elsewhere int he City of Sin, everyone headed back downtown for the First Annual Matt Weatherford Penny Invitational (hereafter known as FAMWPI). In the FAMWPI, each person is given the same number of pennies to begin with and one half hour of time. At the end of that half hour, whoever returns with the most pennies is Penny King for a year. He or she also receives a free T-shirt. Participants may not buy more pennies or add pennies from their own stash. They may parlay their pennies on any machine, or steal, beg or borrow pennies from anyone in the casino (in this case the Gold Spike). The tourney began at 4 sharply with 229 pennies for each participant. It continued until 4:30. Steve, unclear of the rules that Matt had made up while he was in the bathroom, allowed Matt to grab about 80 of his pennies. Phil then stole some of Matt's. Robert stole some of everybody's. Brett kept hitting the cashout buttons and taking credits off the machines. The security reprimanded a couple of the tournament players, telling them they had to stop running around because Brett knocked down an elderly lady. He didn't seem to have a problem that several people were busily pilfering coins from others' change cups.

Ultimately, several players ran out of pennies, others scoured the floor for one last chance at winning, and Ghizal became king with a final total of 260 cents thanks to a couple of minor jackpots on the Spike's penny video poker machines.

Amy really started hitting the sauce hard, clearly disappointed with her performance in the invitational. Matt bought all of the participants of the FAMWPI a post-tournament drink at the Spike, for which he was overcharged. Amy had at least four gin and tonics before being cut off. The bartender was very friendly and she said she could make anything because "she had a recipe book back there." Turns out, however, that no matter what kind of book you have, it still doesn't mean the drinks are any good. They sucked. Robert, in lieu of food took a brazen step toward the brink of upchuckville by selecting a roast beef dinner from the Gold Spike diner.

Once Robert swallowed the last bit of mashed potatoes and gravy, he and Brett took their leave from Las Vegas. Of course, they

 Robert getting ready to puke

Robert enjoys the last food he'll keep down.

stopped at the Plaza for more quarter craps and made a few more bucks each. Robert left to meet his parents on vacation in Seattle, but not before a free popsicle from the Coin Castle tempted him back into the heart of it all. Alas, that seemingly innocent looking posicle pushed his digestive system over the limit and he puked up two days' worth of the worst Vegas could throw at him in right front of Binion's Horseshoe.

With the group now pared down to seven, they went to the Western Hotel, East of the Experience on Fremont. The Western is hands down the dirtiest, scariest casino in Las Vegas. It is the best place to find the perfect experience to recount while playing, "What's the Most Depressing Thing You Saw While in Las Vegas?" If not for the Western, though, there would be no place for the really down and out to throw away their last nickel.

The nightly show was on in front of the Western. It has been the same show for many years, and it is mildly entertaining. The security guards stand in force while some drunk and angry customer is dragged away by friends as he yells "punk-ass bitch!" and "take off that badge and I'll show you what respect is!" etc. To enter, one passes between the security guards and the doped-up wild guy.

Some played blackjack, and some nickel video poker, but Matt kept an eye on Amy as she tried to drink everything in the place. She started by downing a cool six pack of canned Budweisers. After each can she burped, patted her stomach and said "like a meal in every can." Matt tried to slow her down, but there ain't no stopping this freight train of boozology. Next she started on the whiskey sours. And when Amy starts downing the whiskey sours, you know trouble is due on the next train, and it's bringing some baggage.

On to Part 5

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