Muling and Heads up for Rollz
I wake up and the world is not all right. The anxieties with a massive headache hit me as I try to open my eyes. Everything in my room is pitch black except for a small light on the alarm clock’s face: 01:05 PM – it reads.
Did I have something tonight?
A memory of me receiving my ninth-place finish card with: “Show up half past one tomorrow for tax purposes, take your ID with you and don’t be late” – the lady on the counter.
I force myself up. The world is spinning.
I am never drinking again.
I get to Rio’s parking lot three minutes before my meeting. I am already sweaty, disgusting and feeling like I wrestled with a bear but have no option but to make a run for it.
I arrive to the Tax-lady’s office one minute before our scheduled time. For the first time on this day, I am somewhat happy with myself. She marches in and gives me a look that does not feel friendly, at all.
“Hey,” I start.
“Hey, do you have your passport with you,” she replies.
“No, sorry. No one told me to bring one, I did bring my ID with me however,” I continue.
She looks visibly angry which surprises me a bit. Like I was supposed to know to bring my passport – even though I was only instructed to take my ID (In all honesty, if my morning had been a bit different, I would have taken the damn passport every time – alas it was not and here we are.)
“It doesn’t help, we can’t do anything” she replies.
“Can I run back to my hotel and grab it? It would only take about half an hour?” I asked.
I thought there would be a follow up, but she stayed silent and looked at her papers without giving me any time of the day.
I looked at my watch, it was 01:40 pm.
“Really? It is only…” I could not finish my sentence.
“Yes, yes, I know, I have appointments, OK?”
Her punctuation went higher with each passing word and as she hit the final “K” her tone had gotten so high and patronizing that it triggered some primal nerve in me.
I would love to slap you in your stupid fucking face
I do not have many rules in life but both violence and treating people with lesser perceived power unjustly are both unfortunately very condemned, so I did nothing. Still though. She was really starting to get on my nerves.
“So, what can we do? I have flights tomorrow morning” I asked.
“Well, I guess we have to book you another time now, don’t we?” she said with a snarky tone of voice.
We booked another appointment for tomorrow 09:20am and I left absolutely amazed at how she had treated me through all our transactions. She had no mannerism suited for customer service; but the mannerisms of a power-corrupted despot. I had gone into the meeting trying to be as nice as possible and left with a vivid desire to slap the shit out of her.
A trip back to the Encore, a shower, and a nap later a received a message:
“Can’t take this hangover, mild-muling and ulti – come now” JJ sent to our group chat.
“Muling” is a verb we had come up with which meant: “drinking Moscow mules,” I loved the verb and the drink – “ulti” means “ultimate poker” which is basically Texas Holdem against the casino – I had no problems with some gambling either.
I could go for a bit of muling I suppose.
In the very first Gambler’s Diary, I wrote “I have a problem.” There is this little voice in my head that whispers to bet big, so big that it feels like something – so big that it really hurts to lose. It never fully goes away but I have somewhat contained it. When I was younger, the whispers were more like almighty roars, I had no other options but to listen and obey. Through the years though they have become more silent, barely noticeable, and very rarely I feel the need to act on them. On this day however, I witnessed both myself, and my friends go into a state of gambling madness that I had not seen in a long time.
I meet JJ and EE at ulti, JJ is winning, EE losing, both have Mules in front of them. I sit down and follow the suit. It starts slow and reasonable but there are some signs in the air already; each of us have two mules and a lot of money in front of us – and the stakes are already high. About six mules later EE says that he has a bad vibe about the table, I agree. We switch to roulette. The degenerate whispers grow louder.
I am betting three grand per spin; the boys are betting more. Three rounds later I am break even, and they are down a lot. We leave. A fast and a costly attack for most of us. Mules are flying but we have a bad feeling about all of the table games. What to do? “Someone has cards, right?” I ask. JJ nods. EE loves the idea. We raid the mini- market at the Encore. A bottle of vodka and wine appears, we shove it JJs room bill. One never pays the room bills at the Encore; the comps will do that. Thank you, JJ.
Back to JJs room. We are playing high stakes Chinese. At approximately 13-mules I am winning 30k and make a rare mistake in a hand – monetarily meaningless but cannot take it. Got to play something with absolutely zero skill. The voice of reason has switched places with my degenerate side. I feel like I am on the passenger’s seat and just observing the madness – and love it. How do you feel about a little table action? Boys feel all right about it. What a surprise.
Back at the tables, even bigger bets but this time at the Wynn’s side of the casino because “I have bad vibes about the Encore not giving it to us today” – EE. Cool. Ulti destroys us and someone wants to leave – fair enough. A little roulette on the way though? Absolutely. The roulette is not giving it to us either, even though we are at the Wynn’s side. How is this possible? We get back to the Encore. Should we stop? How about a couple of flips instead? But of course.
We get to JJ’s room and start flipping. I make a straight flush on the first hand. Everything slows down for a bit and the time seems to stand still. I have found my personal Nirvana.
It is still the same trio
The stakes are now so high that losing really hurts. You never feel quite as alive until you are on the edge of the sword. And I feel like I am dancing ballet on top of one. The fact that after all this time, all these stories and experiences later, the same trio might end up in the same state of madness like we used to when we were barely at legal age gives me a kick so hard that it feels like I am floating.
God damn, I love gambling
We decide to postpone our flights for three days. Why would we ever leave this city?
I start to lose after that hand, hard. We order some room-service mules. Before the mules come, I am down 20k (50 from ATH) and it is 4:30am. Once we have finished our mules it is 6am. I am down 70k (100 from ATH). The whispers are gone, and so is the dopamine. I am done with this city, done with everything. Fuck this. Fuck fuck fuck fuck. I leave with a very loud bang from JJs hotel room (the only action I would have any regrets about later – if you gamble and lose, take it like a man) and fall asleep.
I wake up again around 1pm.
“Did I have something today?”
I get back to Rio and settle another appointment with the tax lady, she is not there but another lady promises to put it in her calendar. Couple of days fly by, as I am busy being hungover as well as losing another 35k to the cash games.
I am waiting at the “player services” bench at Rio. I have my flights tomorrow and only need my ITIN-number, so I get to cash out – and salvage at least something from this god forsaken trip. I wait for about 15-minutes but cannot see the Tax- lady anywhere. I go to the front desk:
“Hey, I had an appointment for my ITIN-number?” I start with another lady.
She asks for my details; I give them as she disappears to her computer for a bit. I can tell by her facial expressions that she finds something that she is not happy to share with me.
“Ok so… Yeah. I got an email from her. She says here that you did not have a passport and did not show up for one (1) meeting, so she will not serve you, ever.”
“What, I know I missed one appointment but… How can she do that?” I ask, stupefied.
“Yeah, I don’t know,” she responds laconically.
“Ok, well can you set me up with another person who can do that?” I try.
“We don’t have anyone else”
I gather my thoughts for a bit as I feel a massive life-tilt building inside of me:
“So, you’re telling me that I travel 18 000km + to play my first WSOP (Helsinki- Turkey – Vegas – Helsinki), LOSE more than 18k on your tournaments, and you want me to pay you extra 11k in taxes because I overslept one meeting?”
“You can also leave the money here” she replies.
I am shaking with rage. I am trying my best not to just explode right there and then but she so clearly not giving a fuck about my situation is also starting to get to me.
“Can I talk to your supervisor?” I ask (a question I have never asked in my life).
“Let me check that”
She disappears for 90-minutes. I wait and for the first time in my life understand why there is so much gun-violence in the US.
“He’s available tomorrow at 11:30 am” she finally says.
“I have flights at 11am.”
After three hours at the Rio, I leave with the greatest tilt of my life. I rant on Twitter, rant to everyone at the Wynn and to anyone who would listen to me. 10-hours later there is nothing to do, the city has crushed me. I sit down at an Ulti table and order a beer. Despite having loads of friends in the city I feel very alone.
“Hey Sam, how are you doing?”
I look up and see my favorite Ultimate dealer, Karin, a motherly figure with a very natural warmth radiating from her. Like a scene from a movie where the hero tells a bartender all his troubles, I pour my heart out. Karin listens and nods when it is appropriate.
“Well, you get those bastards next year then Sam”
We must protect her at any cost
She brings me back from a very dark place. I finish my beer, tip Karin a one hundred, go back to my room and travel back to Finland the next day. I leave my $42 000 behind.
Viva Las Vegas
P.S. I went this year to the WSOP to get my missing 42 000$ back. I cashed one tournament for the required (more than 5k net profit) but this year, the WSOP had outdone themselves; this year they had absolutely no one capable of giving the ITIN-number. Apparently, there are hundreds of people in the same situation as me. So, again I had to leave my (now 53k+) cash behind. I also applied for the ITIN by myself which cost 550$ so maybe I will be able to get the money with that next December. Maybe. We will see what the WSOP comes up with at that time.