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Year 4- Biggest Little Diary in the World

by admin on February 26th, 2007

Let’s get this started. I’m back. I’m still recovering. Age is a curse. I used to be able to go all out on a weekend…and be back to normal by the next morning. Not so anymore. I still feel a few steps slow. Enough whining though..all you want are the details of how I ended up this way. Gobble. Gobble. Let’s make it rain. (Thanks to Deadspin and Pac-Man Jones for that line)

This story will be told like a play, broken into scenes. There are three characters;
The Captain,
The Gambler
Both comment on here fairly regularly. Paco and I have gone to Reno every year for the past 6 years (This year makes 7). Starting last year The Gambler has come…and after the performance he gave [last year], he’s coming from here on out. It’s now no longer a question of whether he will melt down, just how badly.

The past years trips have had some rituals, that until this year had not been broken. 1) Paco and I always wore a suit down. 2) We brought a mango (altough it didn’t appear until year 3, I think) 3) The past 2 years we designed t-shirts for the event. There were more too, playing certain machines, playing certain casinos, buying ciggarettes at a certain store. The trip was as much about the order of events, as the actual event.

The past 3 years, however, we’ve lost money too. Paco made an executive decision to stop doing some of the rituals, to break it up. There were no shirts ordered, although they were designed. There were no suits to be worn. I quit smoking, so no ciggarettes to be purchased. We were doing it differently this year. We were even sleeping somewhere d

Saturday 5:00am. My alarm goes off. UGH. I had been up every hour on the hour prior to 3am, ready to go. I finally hit the sound asleep point after that and now it’s 5am I feel unrested, and angry. I had planned on stopping at the store on my way over, and buying a piece of fruit…not a mango.(we were doing it differently.) I had thought starfruit would have been nice.

at 5am, though, I was honestly in no mood to do anything.Let alone stop at the store. Fruit made me angry. I looked outside, and it was cold…but dry. The ride over would be better than anticipated. No storm. I could be a little happier.

5:20am I arrive at Paco’s I have to park a mile a way…I’m early though. Last year I was in meetings, and got out late.. we left later than we wanted. I wanted to be on time this year.

5:25am The Gambler arrives. He’s got about 50 newspapers and various notes that he’s compiled on the days sproting events, and horse races. He’s also got a clipboard to carry all his notes. He’s the Jim Sorgi of the gambling world. He has a huge thermos full of hot cocoa and mouthwash, or something alcoholic.

5:30am We’re not in Paco’s Jeep 20 seconds before The Gambler is protesting the fact he can’t find his seatbelt. He refuses to go on until he’s safe. He calls the Jeep a “deathtrap” We literally have to PULL OVER so he can find his seatbelt. It takes us 15-minutes to find the seatbelt, and we have to take the entire car apart like a Mexican border crossing to do it. The Gambler has too much crap.

The Gambler brought an entire Hoth snow suit with him, in case…I’m not sure in case of what…but he has it. He brought 2 bags of clothes and crap too (albeit one of the bags had some bananas from the turn of the century in it). Here’s his total crap list for 1-night away. 2 duffel-bags
50 newspapers
1 thermos
1 Hoth snow suit
Jim Sorgi’s clipboard.

I bet he was fun to have at sleepovers when he was little.

5:47am We’re finally on the road.

5:55am Paco and I are listening to the i-pod, and The gambler is compiling data in the backseat in the form of lists. He will use them for betting when we arrive. A Good time to point out, we’re leaving in the dark so he can arrive in time to bet the 9am games. He’s drinking supercharged hot chocolate…at 6am. Where will this all end up?

6:27am I have a cup of hot cocoa…it tastes strong. Warm, and good as well.

6:30ish a.m. We stop at a vista point to pee. The Gambler uses a restroom. We pee in the snow, like men. I make a joke about him having to sit when he pees. I get to see his middle finger for the first time of many that day.

7:08am I have another cup of hot cocoa.

7:55am We’re making our 2nd stop. It’s at a gas station. When you travel with gambling royalty…there’s no peeing on the side of the road.

7:59am I smash Gambler’s foot in the seat…he squeals. I hope he’s not injured for the trip…running back and forth from the horses to the sportsbook would be difficult with a bum foot.

between 8:00am- 8:45am The Gambler gives us all the match-ups for the day (I mean ALL of them), and makes us guess the lines. This is fun. I start making up mascots for colleges I’ve never heard of.

[Captain] I like The Bark Warriors -8, and the Grass Bandits +7.

The Gambler tells us which games he, “CAN’T CIRCLE ENOUGH!” Meaning, that if we don’t bet this game, we’re dumb. The comments go like this…


Florida was one of these “can’t circle enough” games.

8:50am We’re getting close to Bordertown. Paco and I joke with the Gambler.

[Captain] How’s your mile time?
[Paco] (laughing)
[Gambler] I can run about a 7 minute mile…
[Captain] Stop a mile from the border casino…make him run it.
[Paco] (still laughing)
[Gambler] You’ll be sleeping in the street!

This would be a good time to point out, we left on this day becasue A) there were MANY games going off according to the Gambler. and B) He got a free room for us. We decide against making him run. It would be funny to see though.

we make a few more comments about him running, hum the Chariott’s of Fire themre, and to try and get to the sportsbetting robot with enough time for him to bet the 9am games.

8:56am We’re at the border casino. The Gambler practically throws me in the snow trying to get out of the Jeep. “GO GO GO GO” he crys as he disappears into the casino. Clipboard in tow.


The next part of the diary will not be associated with specific times due to the fact that casinos don’t have clocks, and I don’t have a watch…nor do I want to keep writing down things all the time.

-The border casino was sick. It smells like stale smoke and elderly rotten people. It’s not really big, as far as casinos go, but it serves it’s purpose. Provide gross, cheap food and a place to lose money for gambling fiends trying to make the 9am games.

I lose $5 in a nickel machine. The Gambler bets his 9am games. At one point I look over and he has a sheet of parlays about 40 feet long. Thank Goodness he took good notes.

-We get to the Cal-Neva next. Paco and I go to the quarter machines as a first order of business. We always play this machine that gives out pure silver dollars as a prize. We each put in about $4 and win a silver dollar. We’ll tap our silver together about 500 times this trip for luck. The Gambler goes to the horse races, and Sportsbook. He mumbles something about how he thought we were going to bet games first.

We play another of our favorite games…a slot machine with a baseball theme..the goal is to get runners home…and you get a quarter bonus when you hit a home run. (One of the dials has a home run spot…and you get quarters for every runner scored when it hits) Paco and I never leave runners on. We play it for awhile…I won a little bit on that machine. Paco brought the runners home. We get our first complimentary beverages…and the Gambler runs over to tell us, “I got one before you did.”

Paco comments on the fact a dude brought us our drinks…and we agree that it might be a casino first. I don’t think I’ve ever had a cocktail dude. Maybe someone called in sick…he didn’t look a bit thrilled about his job. Paco and I play quarter machines for awhile longer. We both win a little bit. I think I might be up about $60 a this point.

-The Gambler has gone away to the Harrah’s horseracing sportsbook.

-Paco and I go down stairs to play some Pai-Gow…it’s not financially destructive, but not productive either. I think Paco does OK though. At some point during our Pai Gow playing we come up with a new system to analyze our hands. We got sick of saying. “I did OK”,or “I got a good top, and the bottom is terrible.” It just go boring. We started to analyze our hands based on old TV shows, and how successful they were, or how much we liked them.

Here’s some examples.

*Punky Brewester is the worst hand possible.
*Benson or Mr. Belvedere was a hand that wasn’t great, but it might win if you were lucky.
*A hand that wasn’t good, but ended up winning, somehow, despite it being poor was Webster, The episode where he burns the apartment down for insurance money…or gets molested. An episode that just shocked you. Or the Silver Spoons where Ricky knocks up the girl (if that happened)
*A hand that you thought was good but ended up losing (not even a push) was Wings. I’ve never watched Wings, but the Family Guy episode where Quagmire got upset with the guys because they didn’t like Wings, and he stormed out of the brewery yelling, “I LOVE WINGS!!”…was what triggered the idea. We yell “I Love Wings!!” A jillion times in the next 20 hours.
*Any hand with 3 pair or a full house was The Cosby Show..
*Any Hand that was beyond awesome was the A-Tean. Nobody got anything worthy of the A-Team.

*We head over to Harrah’s to check on our friend. They have a Slot machine there with a HUGE wheel of fortune in the middle. I make the comment it looks like the mothership…we play for about $10 and neither of us gets to spin the mothership. Paco said he had in the past. I bet it’s awesome. Somewhere in the middle of the mothership experiment The Gambler trudges by chanting. “3. Team. PARLAY!!” He said he hit a $400 parlay…He’s pumped. He follows it up with. “You should’ve bet the 9am game…I TOLD you I couldn’t circle that game enough!!!”

-Go Grass Bandits.

-We left to go play some more Pai-Gow. Paco’s boss calls. He said he’s coming to town a day early, due to the weather, and he’ll call us when he gets in. At this point he’s half way. We play Pai-Gow for a couple hours…and I lose. Not badly, but, I lose. Too many Punky Brewsters…not enough Cosby.

-Paco’s boss calls…he meets us in the Pai-Gow area. We chat a bit, and all leave to go to the Brew Bros. for lunch. I think at this point our complimentary beverage total is around 5 or 6. We eat. Paco’s boss pays. His friend meets us. His friend has subbed for the Captain in the past. Small world. His friend has done the research on video poker. He’s the video poker version of our Gambler. Analytical to a fault.

-After we eat. We go to meet the Gambler, who as far as we know has not left the horse races for the past 6 hours. When we arrive He’s there, and has his paperwork scattered everywhere. It’s been a hard day at the office.

-Paco will bet the horses too if given the chance. I just taunt them. Paco and the Gambler begin to sift through upcoming races. I chime in whenever I can. I have no clue what I’m saying. I bet on horses with cool names. Bet on anything with the word missle or princess in it, that’s my philosophy.

-I throw a couple bucks in each race they pick. If they’re going to win, I am too. I think we won $10 a piece on one race. While they sift through the horses and conditions of tracks…The Gambler tells me after one of my comments. “We don’t care WHAT you think.” Then they go back to talking about mudders, and soggy bottom runners…or whatever it is horse junkies talk about.

-While we’re on our way up to bet a horse race…I see dogs racing on one screen. “Do you ever bet the dogs?” I ask the Gambler. He looks at me like I asked him if he had sex with dogs. “NO!”

-I decide I’m going to bet the dogs.

[Captain] I’m going to bet the dogs…

[Paco] Cool, I’ll go in with you.

[Captain] How do you do it?

[Paco] I dunno, go ask someone…

I go ask the guy behind the counter.

[Captain] How do I bet a dog race?
[Counter Help] You pick the race, and give me the numbers…
[Captain] OK. I want the next race. I want the 6 the 3 and the 7…in that order.
[Counter Help] Straight Trifecta…
[Captain] Uhm…Yeah sure. For $2.
[Counter] OK…I had to run them as 2 tickets…I didn’t get it as one…
[Captain] Fine…whatever.

I return to Paco…and the Gambler.
[Captain] Here, give me a buck…I got us on the dog race.
[Paco] (looking at his ticket..) Wow…straight tri…that’s difficult.
[Captain] It’s only a buck…
[Paco]True…it’ll be fun.

-The race begins…

-The dogs are off…The 7 dog jumps out to a comanding lead…followed by a pack of other dogs. I’m screaming at the race, partly because I’m juiced on free drinks, and partly because it’s fun…and I’m the only one who bet it in the whole place.

-The dogs round the last bend, and the 7 dog is fading a bit…but here comes the 6 dog and 3 dog. Well at least they’re all in the same area. Then as the race ends…the dogs fall into a magical order. 6…3…7.

-Paco and I are laughing and screaming. I have no idea what just happend. I’mpretty sure I won. I have no idea how much. Paco keeps repeating. “No Way.”

-It pays us $600, or $300 a piece…for a $2 bet. The Gambler laughs, but is mad that we didn’t include him. He laughed. Even scoffed at my dog idea…so he got excluded.

The counter guy is in shock…I don’t think he expected us to win. A man next to us is laughing. Paco and I agree this is the best gambling moment ever.


-The races are done…and we head out to go play some blackjack..and wander around. Our sports parlays are dead, thanks in part to Florida…which the gambler “couldn’t circle enough.”

-We drive to a brewery to eat. I have soup. It is fun, but not overly exciting. We get fed though, which is all that matters.

-We return and end up at Circus Circus. Paco is back at a Pai Gow Table…Gambler is at a blackjack table. I was at a table with him, but I got up $30 pretty quickly, and left. The Gambler calls me names…and insults my manhood for not playing more blackjack when I’m “already winning.”

-This attitude spawn his later actions.

-While on my way yo the Pai-Gow table I stop and play some Texas Hold ‘Em card game, not the poker one…but some odd game where they turn cards over…there’s a lot of betting involved. Somehow I get a full house. It pays me another $40.

-While at the Pai Gow table we can hear the Gambler yelling (intentionally loud) so that we know when he wins, every time. “YEAH! Black out!!!” A black out means a $100 chip. HIs table looks festive…everyone seems to be winning. The Gambler is high fiving all his new friends…I’m honestly shocked they weren’t hugging, and trading baby photos. When we finally leave the Gambler has to shake everyone’s hand…and let them know he was pleased to meet them.

Oh the gambling love.

-We leave to go check in to our hotel.


-Paco and I play some nickel machines while the Gambler checks us in. After a bit, we’re concerned and go to see how the process is coming along.

-The room was apparantly reserved for FRIDAY, not Saturday. We can still get a room for $75. Paco and I are mad…and make the Gambler go to the source, and find out more information. I’ll give him credit, The Gambler is a customer service sweetheart. He’s very understanding. Eventually, we still get screwed, and have to pay $55 for a room.

-Paco verbally abuses the Gambler for not being more firm in fighting for a free room.

-We put our stuff in the room, then proceed to play more. Paco and I end up at the Pai Gow table…and the Gambler ends up at a blackjack table. It doesn’t appear to be going well.

[Paco] Look at him…he’s gripping.
[Captain] (laughs) He’s not happy

Later we keep up the commentary.

[Paco] (laughing) He’s gripping so hard right now.
[Captain] Yeah, it must be bad…
[Paco] Someone must have split jacks, or he lost on a 16
[Captain] He stays on 16 all the time..
[Paco] Yeah he doesn’t play by the book.
[Captain] (laughing) WOW look at the grip now.

Paco and I play for a long time. I keep talking about getting a bowl of noodle soup from the Asian place across the street…We go through about 5 different dealers, some good…some not so good. I think we’re on our 20+ free beverage of the day. I stick to a combo of Bailey’s and Coffee (with whip cream), Vodka and cranberry juice, and Corona. Paco sticks to Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada mostly…with an occassioanl Vodka/Cranberry in the mix.

At some point The Gambler disappears. I assume he is off to bed.

[Captain] He’s gone. I bet he’s in bed.
[Paco] No way. NO WAY he’s in bed. Did you see how jacked up he was. He’s like on steroids…there’s no way he’s done…he just went to another casino.
[Captain] The last time we checked he was down…I wonder how much?
[Paco] Probably a lot…did you see how many parlay tickets he had…it was 2 inches thick…He’s not stopping…we won’t see him until 5am.
[Captain] I bet he’s in bed…I’ll bet you. Man, I want some soup…we should go.

-Paco bets me, and we continue to play until it seems really late…at which point I go wander a bit…and end up playing a little blackjack.

-I look over to see if Paco is still at the table…He’s not. I look for him

-I just decide to go back to the room.

-I don’t see the Gambler either.

-I get back to the room. Paco is there…it’s 2:45am. We sit around for awhile and discuss where the Gambler could be.

[Paco] I told you he was jacked up…we won’t see him until later, like 5am.

For the record, Paco and I paid for 2/3 of the room, yet, we shared a bed…and for the record. I slept ON TOP of the covers. Still…in hindsight, we should have made the Gambler run the mile to the sports robot.


It’s after 3am…and The Gambler comes home. Much like a dysfunctional father, he’s all geeked up on booze and angry.

[Gambler] WHO left the door open?! The door isn’t even shut. You two are pu****s!!! You beat ME to bed!!! What losers!!! pu****s!!! I can’t believe this!!!Shut the F****g door!!!

He stops yelling for a brief second to calmly call in his 8:30 wake-up call. Then he was right back at us…calling us names, questioning our manhood. It felt like he was 2 inches from my head. Much like a scared child, I pretended to be asleep.

Just when I thought he was done. He discovered the “When the fun stops.” handout we left on his pillow. It was a flyer to provide help for gambling addicts.

“WHAT’S THIS?!!! NICE!!! GREAT F****g pu***s~!!!! REAL FUNNY!!! A*******S!!!”

Earlier, I had bet Paco double or nothing that the Gambler would come home angry…he assured me that ‘Normally he’s pretty good about being quiet.” I told him I’d fly across the room and punch him in the face if he was loud.

So while the Gambler is on a tirade, I hear Paco mumble. “punch him in the face…go punch him in the face.”

I’m trying not to laugh, the Gambler is off towards the bathroom yelling at his reflection…I was still “asleep”, and had no real intentions of punching anyone in the face, let alone someone that angry…at some point I fell asleep. I assume the Gambler did too.


8:20am The gambler is up, talking about the games we need to get in on…and calling off the wake-up call. He leaves to go bet the 9am games. I wake up shortly after that…take a shower, make some coffee, and prepare to brush off the cobwebs. Paco is watching Mexican infomercials.

8:55amWe head downstairs to play some nickels. Wandering around for a while, eventually hooking back up with the Gambler who has made a variety of early morning sports bets…including many first half bets. You’ve got to be tough to bet first half totals.

-After we leave the casino The Gambler sounds like he’s dying. He’s belching, and bleating like a baby goat….trying not to throw up.

-at around 10ish we all go to the noodle place to eat. I ate way too much, but we had fun slipping the “When the fun stops” booklet into his horse papers.
[Gambler] This was funny the first time…it’s NOT funny any more.
[Captain] For the record, it’s funny every single time.

-After lunch we head back to the casino, so the Gambler can finish up his bets. Paco and I plays some nickels. Monopoly, Video Poker, Oil Money, the basics…

-When we go find the Gambler he’s looking longingly at the horse races…he’s the horse whiperer of gambling. We finally drag him away…after “one last race…c’mon!!”


This would be a good time to mention it was SNOWING in Reno when we woke up. Snowing sideways. If it’s snowing in Reno, there’s going to be a lot of snow on the way home.

-We drive, and there’ snow flurries the whole way until we hit the mountains. We make a stop early on to check the road conditions. Snow every way we could go. We decide the “quickest” route…and proceed.

We listen to a chain warning on the AM dial. I might add it was way better than the hair rock the Gambler was making us listen to.

2:30pmWe’re beginning our climb into the mountains.

2:40pmWe’re stopped at chain control and allowed to pass, even though we have no chains. The guy tells us, “we’re one step away from chains being required regardless [of 4×4 or not].”

2:43pm It’s plow’s gone wild. We’re behind some hot plow on plow on plow action…NICE…it’s us watching three plows get it on up the hill. It’s a regular menagie’ a plow.
After a while all three plows leave, and it’s just us and the elements.

4:50pm Gobble. Gobble. Make it hail. It’s hailing. We’re like the US Postal service…we’ve been in so much random weather. The Gambler is asleep sort of. The Fun officially stopped a long time ago for him.

-It takes us an extra hour and a half to get home due to the weather..

nearly 36 hours after it all began, it’s over. I’m back in my car and on my way home. I came home a winner in more ways than one.

-I never puked
-I won money
-I experienced the most awesome betting moment in my life.
-I saw a tirade of epic proportions
-I ate a lot of food.
-I didn’t have any ciggarettes.
-There were no punches thrown.

This event sadly only happens once a year but it’s always worth it…even if we didn’t wear suits.

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One Comment
  1. The Gambler permalink

    For the record…..there was no yelling in the hotel room. Stop the fun, stop the fun. And enjoy your snowplow fantasies.

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