The woman was blonde and a little overweight. She was a tourist. She screamed, “Oh my God!” and broke down in sobbing fits. Her chair shook as she swayed with the spirit of Las Vegas.

In front of her, a three-line video sanghoki machine showed a Royal Flush in hearts on the first line. The winnings box spun, jangled, and whirled up and up and up. With each 1,000 mark it crossed, the woman shuddered, dropped more tears onto her red cheeks, and said, “Oh, God!”

People literally ran from across the Rio floor to her side. Gamblers left their still-active machines empty and pushed in to stand as witness to the winnings as they climbed from 1,000 to 2,000, to finally 8,000 credits. Hands fell on her back, simultaneous congratulations and comfort.

I stood there as well as the woman sobbed with neither ability nor desire to stop. It was God in that machine. It was clear. The lights, the ringing, the sobbing.

I did the math. On her 5-cent video poker machine, the woman had just cleared a sob-inducing, God-beseeching $400.

***

A couple of days later, I overslept and woke up at 11:24am. Due at the Rio at noon, I took a quick shower and ran downstairs. The cab line was long and I made undesirable decision to make the quick-hoof across the street, through the Gold Coast, across another street, and through the Rio casino to the convention center.

As I stood on the corner at Flamingo, a car horn beeped. I looked left and there sat my angel of the morning. She was an event planner who did some work for my client. She offered me a ride, and already sweating and late, I took it. Barely awake, I sat behind my shades and made small talk in the rental car’s air conditioning. Traffic was horrible, even for the short ride to the Rio. The driver threw her head over her right shoulder to check her blind spot. Just as she was turning back forward, I watched as the car 30 feet in front of us slammed into the back of another car. I barely said a word as my morning’s chariot got on the brake and stopped just short of the wreck.

Minutes later, still sweating, I tried to barrel through the Main Event crowds and make it to my desk. Along the way, I heard the yelling.

“Jerry Yang prayed for that six! Jerry Yang prayed for that six to make his straight and God sent it to him!”

The man wore the ubiquitous John 3:16 shirt and didn’t stop yelling as people shoved by.

“Jerry’s mother prayed for that six!” he screamed.

***

It had been several months since I had watched Ricky Fohrenbach stand by the final table of the 2008 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and beg “One time!” He had jacks against tens all-in pre-flop.

One time?

The kid knew how to play poker. His praying, no matter where it was directed, seemed unnecessary. It was like praying to survive wisdom teeth removal when you were going in for brain surgery the next day.

No surprise, Fohrenbach’s jacks held up one time. The next time, all in against ElkY’s AK, the jacks were worthless.

One time, indeed.

***

I took my kid to see his favorite musician yesterday. It’s a guy who sings songs about Mount St. Helens, Pissing Outside, and words that start with Cat. As we stood in the 90-degree heat and watched my kid smile, the guy behind the guitar said he once had someone ask him, “Do you have any songs about God?”

The answer: “Well, they’re all about God.”

***

The Devil walked into the Rio late one night during the 2008 World Series and stood in a dark corner. His long black hair fell down over his black leather jacket.

He stood by himself and surveyed the floor.

It occurred to me that night, after way too many nights of thinking about the guy, that the Devil wasn’t merely surveying the floor. He was looking across his domain.

Wayne Newton walked in on the first day of the World Series this year to offer the “Shuffle up and deal!” proclamation.

I wish I’d thought to ask him if he had any songs about the devil.

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