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Las Vegas Lifestyle Discussion of all things Las Vegas. Ask questions about hotels/shows/etc., coordinate meetups with other 2+2ers and post Las Vegas trip reports.

View Poll Results: Should I post AC TR as a preamble to Vegas March Madness TR?
Yes. I'm bored in my cubicle and willing to waste my employer's resources. 53 80.30%
No. This is a LAS VEGAS thread. Plus, Atlantic City is stupid and weird. 6 9.09%
Bastard. 10 15.15%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 66. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 03-06-2018, 05:00 PM   #126
Da_Nit
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Re: March Madness 2017 TR, Jersey Boys Edition

Thanks for deciding to finish this story, we need this.
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Old 03-08-2018, 01:03 PM   #127
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Re: March Madness 2017 TR, Jersey Boys Edition

Dude, my trip is two weeks from today. I need you to finish this TR before then so I can get even more pumped. So get those fingers a typing and push some pixels for everyone cheering you on.
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Old 03-08-2018, 01:14 PM   #128
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Re: March Madness 2017 TR, Jersey Boys Edition

Cliffs: Overpowered by emotion

For a night owl like me, mornings are never like this. I rarely bounce out of bed, favoring the snooze button and an irrational hatred for the sun. Not today. I feel for It, and yes, It is still there, like a childís imaginary friend, but one with whom I canít communicate. Iím famished. I order room service and get in the shower. Iím getting dressed when the food arrives. The porter flashes a huge smile as he wheels the cart into the room, but I feel a wave of contempt emanating from him, almost physical, powerful enough to make me sit down. I can feel it. I can feel his emotion. It flies from him toward me like a slap in the face, hidden (he thinks) by his smile and polite manner. I weakly pull a twenty from my wallet and hand it to him, usher him out of the room. Contempt mixes with confusion and happiness as he exits, and I sit trembling on the bed recovering from the moment. My mind flashes to Douglas Adamsí books, the Hitchhiker books, in which the tiny babel fish, when placed in your ear, ďfeeds on brain wave energy, absorbing all unconscious frequencies and then excreting telepathically a matrix formed from the conscious frequencies and nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain, the practical upshot of which is that if you stick one in your ear, you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language.Ē Does It perform a function like the babel fish, but with emotions instead of speech? Is there any way to control it, to direct it? I ask It out loud with no response, then ask It with my thoughts. Nothing.

My appetite is gone, and I leave the food behind. In the hallway, a couple is drunkenly trying to get into their room after a long night. The man is fumbling with his card key, while his girlfriend is practically molesting him in the hall, her hands on his crotch, her tongue in his ear. Their emotions are raw, powerful, pure carnality hitting me like a wave at the beach after a storm. They havenít seen me, they only have eyes for each other and the accursed key, which finally unlocks the door and they lurch entwined into their room. My knees are wobbly and I am visibly, embarrassingly, aroused. I make my way back toward my room and take care of the problem. I have a cigarette while I ponder what to do next. How can I interact with people if I am a victim of all of the emotions around me? If I canít figure a way to ďturn it downĒ Iím going to end up living out my days in a cave.

I turn on the TV for the escape of basketball. Gonzaga, on whom I'd placed a futures wager at 40-1 is playing, but I can barely pay attention. I havenít made a single bet for the day. ABC texts, heís ready for breakfast and wants to meet at Mon Ami Gabi. SurferDude has been up for hours and says he's ready for lunch and will meet us there. McLovin and BigSky are unresponsive.
I take deep breaths and exit the room. The hallway and the elevator are mercifully empty. When the elevator doors open onto the casino floor, I step out and almost immediately am overpowered by the combined emotions of hundreds of gamblers at the tables. It's like the room service porter and the horny couple magnified exponentially. Hunger, elation, depression, hopefulness, hatred, the whole gamut, all at once. I am barely able to move. It is crushing me. I run toward the bathroom and barely make it into a stall where I vomit the thankfully meager contents of my stomach into the bowl. The emotions of the few in the bathroom bore into me; disgust, ridicule, compassion. I feel sad and angry, wish this burden was not mine.

This turns out to be the key. Not asking questions, not speaking, but feeling. I feel It responding, understanding. The empathy ďturns downĒ, like the eye's iris narrowing in response to bright light. I wipe my mouth, exit the stall and head to the sink to wash up.

ďRough night, huh.Ē observes the guy at the next sink. I feel curious, which ďturns upĒ the empathy, but not too high. The guy emanates compassion, understanding. I allow my curiosity to wane and his emotions blend away, almost imperceptible to me.

ďYeah,Ē I say ďbut I think I've got a handle on it now.Ē

"Second wind. I like it. Good luck."

I wash my hands and head out toward the casino floor.

Next: Vegas is my oyster
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Old 03-08-2018, 02:33 PM   #129
BiteMeFish
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Re: March Madness 2017 TR, Jersey Boys Edition

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Old 03-08-2018, 04:27 PM   #130
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Re: March Madness 2017 TR, Jersey Boys Edition

This is awesome. Glad you're continuing.
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Old 03-09-2018, 11:26 PM   #131
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Re: March Madness 2017 TR, Jersey Boys Edition

Fascinating update, need to know where this journey ends.
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Old 03-12-2018, 02:00 PM   #132
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Re: March Madness 2017 TR, Jersey Boys Edition

Great last update; pretty interesting. Would you say you lacked empathy before that experience? ( I know its a broad and personal question, and no need to answer in detail; or at all)
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Old 03-12-2018, 05:06 PM   #133
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Re: March Madness 2017 TR, Jersey Boys Edition

Cliffs: massive walls of text; poker is easy; tittyjack; paranoia

Out on the casino floor, the roar that I had just faced is now merely a murmur, a gentle babbling brook, no longer a beach in a hurricane. I pause near a full craps table. I focus on a glum looking old man across from the croupier, and It gently eases my senses up until his emotions are more prominent than those of the others at the table. Sadness. I defocus and the sensation subsides. I turn my focus to a young couple at the head of the table. Elation, excitement, happiness. I defocus and their emotions recede.

I head out into the sunlight and toward the bridge over the Strip, thinking. What a powerful tool this could be! Obviously, I will need to try this at a poker table. It will also help at work when artists are trying to articulate how certain prints are making them feel. Maybe now I will be able to respond properly to Mrs. Pixel whenever she is being opaque.

When I get to Mon Ami Gabi, SurferDude and ABC are already tucking into their meals. I order and try to act normally.

SurferDude: How the hell did you get any sleep last night, Pixel? Every time I closed my eyes, I saw those badges.

Though heís trying to hide it to the best of his ability, I donít need It to help me see that ABC is a little off.

Pixel: What about you, ABC? You go on a bender and lose it all?
ABC: Got f!$%ing trickrolled.
SurferDude: Whatís that?
ABC: I won a pile at blackjack, had a head full of whiskey and weed and at 5 AM a hooker seemed like a great idea. Fell asleep afterwards. When I woke up, sheíd taken my watch, cash and laptop. Thank god I put my wallet in the safe. Oh, and my Ferragamo loafers. What crazy b%tch steals used shoes?

SurferDudeís tries not to laugh and fails. ABC takes it in stride and keeps stuffing steak and eggs into his mouth.

We talk about the dayís plans. SurferDude tries to get us to come out to Red Rocks to do the Ice Box Canyon hike, which earns him scorn. Hiking is a non-starter for ABC and I want to get to a poker room as soon as possible. McLovin and BigSky are still MIA. ABC and I have dinner reservations at Picasso so we agree meet at Bellagio for that and get some play in afterwards.

I win credit card roulette and SurferDude heads for his car. ABC and I mount the bridge and head toward Aria. He heads back up to his room for more sleep and I put my name on an already clogged PLO list. Somehow, thereís an open seat at 2/5 NLH and I sit while waiting for PLO. My NLH table is very standard for March Madness, half recreational players in town for the tournament and the regulars attempting to pick their carcasses clean. I decide to not play a hand for the first two orbits, I donít even look at my cards, just pushing them into the muck when the action is on me. I use this time to hone my newfound abilities. Eventually I am able to effectively establish a range so that I am only attuned to the players at my table. A grinder under the gun raises pre flop and only the recreational player on the button comes along. The flop comes A64. UTG puts out a continuation bet, but I can sense he is unsure of himself. The button is clearly happy with his hand. He calls. The turn is the 8. UTGís physical demeanor doesnít change but his emotional makeup changes dramatically; he loves this turn. The buttonís emotions tell me that his hand has also improved. UTG checks and the button bets half pot. UTG raises and the button flats, unafraid. The river is a meaningless 2. UTG shoves and the button calls off. UTG shows 88. The button says ďnice handĒ and flashes A8 before tossing his hand toward the muck and reaching for some fresh benjamins.

Things continue like this through those first two orbits and I realize that with Its assistance, I will only lose when I get unlucky. I begin to play. In my first hand, Iím dealt 64 in the cutoff and call a $20 pre flop raise from the reg in the 88 vs A8 hand. Everyone else folds. The flop comes K73 and though I can tell he doesnít like it, he leads for $45. I flat with my gutter, intending to take it on the turn if he still seems weak. He likely has similar plans for the guy who folded every hand for two orbits and is playing this one passively. The turn is the K and he still emanates weakness as he fires $75. I shove and he snap mucks. I am going to get rich.

Itís too easy and borderline criminal. In two hours, I have become the most aggressive player at the table, forcing bluffers to fold and extracting value every time I have the goods. By the time ABC comes down from his nap, thereís a mountain of chips in front of me. He pulls me away for a smoke and I am sure to tune my senses down all the way when leaving the table. The adjustment is becoming easier and easier.

ABC: Jesus Pixel, how much is that?
Pixel: I think Iím sitting on just over 3k right now.
ABC: Howíd you do that in 2 hours?

I smile, tell him Iím just super lucky. We go outside and he lights up a joint. To his surprise, I decline.

ABC: You feeling OK?
Pixel: Feeling great. Donít need any more THC right now. I just need more poker.

We part ways. He makes his way toward the pits and I head back to the poker room. Itís time to see just how far I can take this. I put my name on the 5/10 list. When my name is called, I sit with the maximum, 3k. There are two stacks under 2k, but most of the stacks are bigger than mine. For now. I take the same tack at this table as I had at 2/5. I donít play a hand for two orbits, opting to tune my sensing range properly and observe each player's actions while I become accustomed to the stakes. Iíve only played 5/10 a handful of times in my life and the results were unkind. Today would be different.

Very different. In three hours, the only hands I lose are those in which I am involved in a raise preflop and fold to strength postflop. There is also a 2k pot in which I 3 bet pre with AA. The grinder involved in this hand had been blown off numerous hands by me and wasnít going to let it happen again. He open jammed the A79 flop holding AK and flushed my set with runner runner clubs. It doesnít dampen my mood and only temporarily dents my stack. By the end of the three hours, I have turned my 3k buy-in into just over 10k. I decide itís time to take a break, and ďtune downĒ.

When I return, the player two to my right has picked up and been replaced by a disheveled middle aged dude with a Georgetown hat and a hearing aid. Heís sitting with the minimum, $400. I hate short stack artists. I ďtune upĒ and am immediately hit by his driving emotion, fear. Not poker fear, as in ďIím afraid I donít have the best hand hereĒ but true, unbridled fear. And itís directed at me. It almost has its own smell, the emotion, and itís gross. I need to tune all the way down to get it out of my head. Unfortunately, this renders my new reading ability useless and Iím not foolish enough to think that I belong at 5/10 without my unfair advantage. Iím not sure what to do so I decide that the smartest decision is to pick up and lock in this beautiful profit.

The brick in my pocket feels wonderful as I stroll toward the Bellagio. BigSky and McLovin have finally checked in, they started day drinking and ogling flesh at the Hard Rock pool early. SurferDude says he will meet us all at the Bellagio after dinner. Our reservation at Picasso is still hours away so I let ABC know Iíll be there until dinnertime. The room is busy with Madness revelers and there are many games going. I spy a game in the corner with massive stacks and ask the floor man what stakes theyíre playing. 25/50. I feel the brick in my pocket and a few minutes later I take the only empty seat.

The regulars are licking their chops when this guy theyíve never seen before sits with 10k and doesnít play a hand for two full orbits. I am ďtuned upĒ and immediately their enormous edge is mitigated. In the first hand I elect to play, I raise to $200 from UTG with 75. I havenít played a single hand and now Iím raising under the gun? To the table, this must look like a huge hand. No one wants to isolate against me in the event I have the goods, but I get 5 callers looking to crack AA. Then magic happens. I flop the joint. I mean, the mortal nuts. 643. I stare at the flop like a guy whoís holding two black aces. The best part is that three of my callers love this flop, especially the button. Value time. I want to make it look like Iím trying to take the pot down now and fire almost a pot-sized bet, $1050. The player to my left flats. After two MP folds, the CO also flats. The button thinks for a moment and minraises. I flat. UTG+1 thinks for a moment and flats as well. So does the CO. Thereís now $9600 in the pot and I am the effective stack with $7700 behind. The turn is a beautiful 3. The buttonís confidence falters, but UTG+1 and the cutoff radiate elation. Could they both have flopped sets? I check and the other three check as well. The turn is the 2. Time to take down the biggest pot of my life. I could check but if I size my bet properly, at least one of them, thinking they have the goods, will have no choice but to shove. I bet $3100, leaving myself $3600 behind. UTG+1 Hollywoods for a minute before sigh-shoving. The cutoff, who has both of us covered, calls. The button folds (presumably the ace high flush) and I snap. Their faces fall when I say ďI have the nutsĒ and show them the bad news. And just like that, I rake in over 30k while they ruefully show each other sixes full and quad 3s. Too bad thereís no bad beat jackpot drop at these stakes.

Iíve only played a few more orbits, with no major fireworks when ABC taps me on the shoulder. His eyes go wide when he sees my stack and I walk away with him for a break.

ABC: WHAT. THE. F$%K.
Pixel: Living large and hurting feelings.
ABC: Dude, you have to pick up. Thatís a car! Címon, donít lose that, letís go. Iím your friend, I want to see you walk away a winner. Please.

I canít tell him that I have a license to print money and try the tack that itís uncool to hit and run.

ABC: Youíre never going to see any of those people again. Take the goddamn money. Everyoneís over at Caesarís in the book, letís go over there until dinnertime.

When I return to the table with racks, the table is less than pleased. I try to alleviate the situation by telling them I have reservations at Picasso and will return afterwards. At the time, I mean it.

On the walk toward Caesarís ABC can talk about nothing but the 35k that is stuffed into many of my pockets. I steer the conversation back toward him. Heís at least recouped some of last nightís hooker losses at the craps table. Heís replaced his cash and part of the expense of a new watch, but still has to replace the laptop. And the shoes.

At Caesarís, the boys are in the sports book, which is in full throat. ABC tells them that I just won 30k at Bellagio, but they laugh it off as a lie. McLovin and BigSky have opposite ends of USC vs SMU and will not take their attention from the screen. SurferDude is baked and people watching. ABC clutches my shoulder and points to a row of tables just outside the book.

ABC: Dear Lord! Look at that, those are bigger than my head!

Thereís a small gaming area just outside the book. All of the dealers are young women in bustiers, and those garments are straining to keep Caesarís from indecent exposure charges.

ABC: I want to go to there. I want to play blackjack with those. Itís TITTYJACK!

The casinos are nothing if not brilliant. As though free booze and the chance to win money isnít enough to lure suckers to the tableÖ He starts slapping me, McLovin and the other boys on the backs and chanting the word over and over again. If he were a car, his temperature gauge would be just shy of the red ďdangerĒ zone. I agree to sit with him. Heís not crazy. The dealer is as sweet as apple pie and completely fine with shlumpy middle aged dudes staring longingly at her, um, assets. We are within sight of the book and the crew and ABC plays the minimum ($25) in order to sit at this table for as long as possible. In doing so, we have the opportunity to get up for smoke breaks and check on the boys and the USC game. Iím standing with them at a critical point in the game when ABC comes over for a smoke. Heís excited, heís been chatting the dealer up, sheís off on Monday and wants to know if heíll still be around. I laugh at him, obviously she sees an opportunity to make some money on her off day, but he argues that thereís a real attraction there. Surely she wouldnít risk her job at Caesarís by hooking on off days? Internally, I feel badly for him, but try to be supportive.

When we return to the table, they continue chatting each other up. Out of curiosity, and perhaps a little protective sense, I ďtune upĒ to get a gauge on her feelings. I turn it up a little too high, encompassing the tables around us, and am hit by an intrusive jumble of emotions from the opposite table, directed at me. When I catch sight of the source of the signal, the guy at the table looks down at his cards and I catch sight of his hearing aid. Paranoia and fear begin to rise in me. I sense It feeling my fear and helping me to tamp that down and remain calm. That old quote rises in my memory, ďJust because youíre paranoid doesnít mean they aren't after you.Ē I tune up further and find two others directing their feelings toward me, one guy in the book pretending to read a racing form, and another with his back to me at another blackjack table. Theyíre all wearing those same hearing aids. Jesus, can the government do anything right? Just buy some earpods for crying out loud. For anyone who was really looking over their shoulder, they'd catch on pretty quickly.

Immediately, the euphoria of the dayís winning is stripped away. Iím calm but worried and start cursing myself. Of course the encounter with the feds in the desert didnít end there. Of course they know everything about me by now, where Iím staying, who Iíve seen. Have they already put cameras or listening devices in my room? Is my family at risk? Do they know about It? Are they closing a net around me?

My mind is racing, but It helps me stay on an even keel. I begin to think about what I need to do. They havenít made a move of any kind all day and they must think their surveillance is still hidden. As calmly as possible, I get up, light a smoke and head toward the boys in the book. When Iím twenty feet away from SurferDude, I glance back. From this angle, the agent with his back to me is directly between me and a mirrored wall. I catch his reflection. It's the agent from the desert, the one with the shoulder holster. Junkins.

Next: Into the wilderness...
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Old 03-12-2018, 06:14 PM   #134
sublime_fan24
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Re: March Madness 2017 TR, Jersey Boys Edition

amazing update; poker action was sick and now the feds!?! I can't wait for the next chapter!
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Old 03-12-2018, 10:01 PM   #135
Da_Nit
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Re: March Madness 2017 TR, Jersey Boys Edition

Holy crap what an awesome update!

Of all this however the hardest part to believe is you turning a straight flush against a boat and quads.

Itís like Indiana Jones and The Temple Of Doom. The hardest part to believe is not he guy still living after getting his heart ripped out or them jumping out of a plane on an inflatable raft. Hardest part to believe is people air freighting livestock and a pallet of watermelons in 1930s Shanghai.
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Old 03-13-2018, 11:09 AM   #136
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Re: March Madness 2017 TR, Jersey Boys Edition

Iím loving this. Keep it coming!


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Old 03-13-2018, 06:10 PM   #137
pixelpusher
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Re: March Madness 2017 TR, Jersey Boys Edition

Cliffs: walls of text; fight or flight

It calms me so I can think rationally. I know there only three of them in close proximity. Are there others on the property? Do they have a man in the security office monitoring through the eyes in the sky? Are they tied into security cameras citywide? The latter seems unlikely but I have to assume that everything else is a given. As I approach the boys in the book, I quickly scan the area. The closest exit to the outside is behind me, back past the blackjack tables. Past the poker room, the parking garage is just a couple hundred yards away. I know thereís an employee door into the back of the house by the men's room in the book but canít assume thereís an outer exit in there or that I could even make it inside before being grabbed by security. I spot a security guard in the book and make eye contact while gauging his emotions. He looks right through me, no hint of recognition or interest. I look around for another security guard near the poker room and make sure to catch his eye as well, with the same result. So even if they have a man in the camera center upstairs, they havenít included floor security in their surveillance plan.

My chips are still on the table where ABC continues his pursuit of the curvaceous dealer. To any watching eye, I am just taking a smoke break. MLovin and BigSky are bouncing off of each other as USC and SMU trade baskets. SurferDude looks bored and heads to the restroom. I canít plan for anything beyond getting out of here. While the crew is busy and their attention is elsewhere, I walk up to the security guard near the bar.

Pixel: Excuse me. I donít want to alarm you or cause a panic but I just saw something that scared the crap out of me. Donít look, but at the blackjack table next to the roulette wheel, thereís a man with black hair and a brown jacket. He bent over and I saw a gun under his arm.

The security guard takes me seriously. Based on his manner, I must have gotten lucky, he is calm and efficient, probably former law enforcement or military, but like most of the security on the casino floor, he is unarmed. He speaks into the transmitter clipped to his shoulder.

Security Guard: I have a potential patron with a firearm in zone 4. Table 17. I need a tactical unit immediately.

He turns to me.

Security Guard: Sir, please wait here.

The response is quicker than Iíd hoped for. By the time Iíve finished my cigarette, I notice unarmed security creeping closer to Junkins. I have to time this right, Iíll only have a matter of minutes. Armed security arrives. As they approach Junkins, I see the other two agents turn their attention toward him. I take my chance and bolt around the periphery of the book, past the poker room. I am at nearly a full sprint as I near the parking garage. I hit the double doors and look desperately for the exit. Iím running toward the back of the garage when I spot two young guys getting into their car and arguing.

First guy: Iím not paying for the parking, you said you were going to pay for it!
Second guy: If I won, I said, if I won! Fifteen bucks is highway robbery. F$%!ing Caesarís.

I stop in my tracks and they stare at me as I gasp for breath.

Pixel: Guys, Iím in a spot. If youíll get me out of here, Iíll pay for parking and give you each fifty bucks.

They stare at me distrustfully.

Pixel: Please, Iím begging you. Iíll give you a hundred each, but we gotta go now.

The first guy smiles and opens the back door for me. I dive in. I lie down on the back seat and pull out my wallet as they climb in and start the car.

Pixel: Now please, go now!

I hand a Jackson to the driver and tell him to tell the attendant to keep the change.

Driver: You crazy?
Pixel: Look, hereís your Benjamin, now go! And donít go on the Strip, go out the back way toward the freeway.
Passenger: Whereís my $100?
Pixel: Here. Iím in danger. Please, guys help me out. Iíll give you another hundred each if you just drive me out to the edge of town. 15 minutes of your time for $200 each.

Thankfully, greed overwhelms common sense. They donít care who I am, what my trouble is, donít think about what trouble it may bring them. They are going to make $200 each for giving this moron a ride.

I figure it took Junkins and his team just minutes to de-escalate the situation. They are probably in pursuit right now. Surely casino cameras can provide them with an ID on the car, LVPD has probably already been alerted. We are now several minutes west of the Strip. The sun has just set.

Pixel: You know these roads out here?
Driver: Born and bred.
Pixel: Take the back roads.
Driver: What kind of trouble you in?

I pass forward two more Benjamins for each of them.

Pixel: The kind that Iím willing to pay to get away from.
Driver: Fair enough. Your moneyís good. Nameís Bud. This hereís Brett.

Brett smiles and spreads his three bills out, fans himself.

Bud: Wow, we wonít have to do another repo for days.
Brett: Right.
Bud: What should we call you?
Pixel: Better if you donít have a name.
Brett: Right.
Pixel: Just stay off the main roads and keep heading west.

I pull out my phone. I know I have to ditch it. I text my family, send kiss emojis, tell them I love them. Then I google Army/Navy stores. Thereís one on the outskirts of town. I move the map with my finger to what looks like a fairly desolate spot a mile south of the store. I show it to Bud.

Pixel: You know where this is? Can you drop me there?
Bud: Thereís nothing there, dude.
Pixel: Thatís where I need to go.

I take one last look at my phone, my connection to the world, this indispensable device that has been in my pocket for years and years. I turn it off, roll down the window and hurl it away. Five minutes later, Bud pulls the car over at the crossroads Iíd pointed to on the map.

Bud: Thanks for the cash and the excitement dude. Vaya con dios.
Brett: Right.

Bud swings the car around and heads back the way we came. I wait for the tail lights to dwindle before beginning to walk north. I havenít gotten ten feet when I see lights in the sky far way in the distance. Low. Helicopter. My mind races. No wonder they were able to find me in the desert. They have some way to track It. I remember Junkins and Ballard talking about a "signalĒ that night. I spin on my heels and begin walking south while I try to overcome Itís compensatory calming and overwhelm It with fear. I think about that night in the desert. I look at the approaching lights. It needs to hide again like it did that first night. I feel It understand and begin to fold itself in inside me, camouflaging itself, disappearing. I continue in the same direction until I canít feel any trace of It anymore. The lights are still far off. Then I drop into a fast jog west before turning north again and heading toward my original destination. Hopefully they've lost their signal and theyíll continue along my last know path south.

I approach the store just as the proprietor is turning his ďopenĒ sign around. He sees me through the glass and opens the door a crack to tell me heís closing up. I tell him Iíll be quick, I have cash and Iím going to spend quite a bit if heís willing to let me in. He smiles broadly and locks the door behind me as we go inside.

Proprietor: So what do you need?
Pixel: I need some time to myself. I need enough gear to survive in the wilderness for a few days. Got some big life stuff to contemplate.

He eyes me up and down for a moment.

Proprietor: On the run?

Iím not sure what to say.

Proprietor: Seen lots of people with troubles. Some good folks, some bad folks. Iíve always been good at sizing people up at first glance.

He extends his hand and I shake it.

Proprietor: Nameís Harold Hellman but folks around here just call me ďBrain.Ē
Pixel: Pixel. Iíd give you a fake name, but eventually, theyíre going to show up here asking questions.
Brain: They gonna ask me questions with guns?
Pixel: No, I donít think so.
Brain: The law then.
Pixel: Sort of.

He stands there for a moment, thinking, then decides.

Brain: OK. You ever spent any time in the wild?
Pixel: Not for a very long time.
Brain: Letís start over here.

Over the next 20 minutes, we shuffle from one part of the store to another. We start with a good pack and begin kitting it out. A bedroll, a good knife, compact binoculars, a tiny folding fishing pole. A good brimmed hat, water purification tablets, a canteen, a compass, strike anywhere matches. MREs for five days and the full canteen make up most of the weight in the pack. He leads me toward the rifle rack, but I shake my head. We finish up with good boots. He starts ringing me up and points to the camera over the entrance.

Brain: Iíll have to show them the footage, but itís not accessible from outside. Iíll have to show them your receipt too. But here. A gift. It wonít be on the receipt.

Itís a map of the Rainbow Mountain Wilderness.

Brain: I grew up hiking that wilderness. A man can get lost in there for a long time if he doesnít want to be found. Theyíll expect you to head for the Canyon. Go south instead and head for the Wilderness. Not too many traffic cameras between here and there yet. Just use the binoculars when you see posts to spot any and stay at least 100 yards away if you see one. If you start now, you can make the Wilderness before sunrise. Find a good spot to hole up. Avoid the trails during the day if you donít want to meet other hikers. Youíre not supposed to start fires in there but if you make it small, just for cooking, and put it out immediately you could live there as long as you need. Get your fish from the lakes and your drinking water from the river.

I try to give him some extra money but he refuses. I shrug the pack onto my back. Itís heavier than I expected.

Brain: Itíll get lighter as you work your way through the MREs. Keep your feet dry. Respect the land.

He shakes my hand and pulls me in tight.

Brain: Respect the land.
Pixel: I promise. Thank you, Harold.

I walk out into the night. Thereís no sign of pursuit. I cross the street and head toward the mountains.

Next: The wilderness and someone with problems bigger than mineÖ
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Old 03-13-2018, 09:03 PM   #138
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Re: March Madness 2017 TR, Jersey Boys Edition

Great stuff.


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Old 03-13-2018, 09:30 PM   #139
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Re: March Madness 2017 TR, Jersey Boys Edition

These are literally some of the best walls of text Iíve ever read on 2+2.
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Old 03-13-2018, 10:34 PM   #140
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Re: March Madness 2017 TR, Jersey Boys Edition

Quote:
Originally Posted by pixelpusher View Post
Cliffs: walls of text; fight or flight



It calms me so I can think rationally. I know there only three of them in close proximity. Are there others on the property? Do they have a man in the security office monitoring through the eyes in the sky? Are they tied into security cameras citywide? The latter seems unlikely but I have to assume that everything else is a given. As I approach the boys in the book, I quickly scan the area. The closest exit to the outside is behind me, back past the blackjack tables. Past the poker room, the parking garage is just a couple hundred yards away. I know thereís an employee door into the back of the house by the men's room in the book but canít assume thereís an outer exit in there or that I could even make it inside before being grabbed by security. I spot a security guard in the book and make eye contact while gauging his emotions. He looks right through me, no hint of recognition or interest. I look around for another security guard near the poker room and make sure to catch his eye as well, with the same result. So even if they have a man in the camera center upstairs, they havenít included floor security in their surveillance plan.



My chips are still on the table where ABC continues his pursuit of the curvaceous dealer. To any watching eye, I am just taking a smoke break. MLovin and BigSky are bouncing off of each other as USC and SMU trade baskets. SurferDude looks bored and heads to the restroom. I canít plan for anything beyond getting out of here. While the crew is busy and their attention is elsewhere, I walk up to the security guard near the bar.



Pixel: Excuse me. I donít want to alarm you or cause a panic but I just saw something that scared the crap out of me. Donít look, but at the blackjack table next to the roulette wheel, thereís a man with black hair and a brown jacket. He bent over and I saw a gun under his arm.



The security guard takes me seriously. Based on his manner, I must have gotten lucky, he is calm and efficient, probably former law enforcement or military, but like most of the security on the casino floor, he is unarmed. He speaks into the transmitter clipped to his shoulder.



Security Guard: I have a potential patron with a firearm in zone 4. Table 17. I need a tactical unit immediately.



He turns to me.



Security Guard: Sir, please wait here.



The response is quicker than Iíd hoped for. By the time Iíve finished my cigarette, I notice unarmed security creeping closer to Junkins. I have to time this right, Iíll only have a matter of minutes. Armed security arrives. As they approach Junkins, I see the other two agents turn their attention toward him. I take my chance and bolt around the periphery of the book, past the poker room. I am at nearly a full sprint as I near the parking garage. I hit the double doors and look desperately for the exit. Iím running toward the back of the garage when I spot two young guys getting into their car and arguing.



First guy: Iím not paying for the parking, you said you were going to pay for it!

Second guy: If I won, I said, if I won! Fifteen bucks is highway robbery. F$%!ing Caesarís.



I stop in my tracks and they stare at me as I gasp for breath.



Pixel: Guys, Iím in a spot. If youíll get me out of here, Iíll pay for parking and give you each fifty bucks.



They stare at me distrustfully.



Pixel: Please, Iím begging you. Iíll give you a hundred each, but we gotta go now.



The first guy smiles and opens the back door for me. I dive in. I lie down on the back seat and pull out my wallet as they climb in and start the car.



Pixel: Now please, go now!



I hand a Jackson to the driver and tell him to tell the attendant to keep the change.



Driver: You crazy?

Pixel: Look, hereís your Benjamin, now go! And donít go on the Strip, go out the back way toward the freeway.

Passenger: Whereís my $100?

Pixel: Here. Iím in danger. Please, guys help me out. Iíll give you another hundred each if you just drive me out to the edge of town. 15 minutes of your time for $200 each.



Thankfully, greed overwhelms common sense. They donít care who I am, what my trouble is, donít think about what trouble it may bring them. They are going to make $200 each for giving this moron a ride.



I figure it took Junkins and his team just minutes to de-escalate the situation. They are probably in pursuit right now. Surely casino cameras can provide them with an ID on the car, LVPD has probably already been alerted. We are now several minutes west of the Strip. The sun has just set.



Pixel: You know these roads out here?

Driver: Born and bred.

Pixel: Take the back roads.

Driver: What kind of trouble you in?



I pass forward two more Benjamins for each of them.



Pixel: The kind that Iím willing to pay to get away from.

Driver: Fair enough. Your moneyís good. Nameís Bud. This hereís Brett.



Brett smiles and spreads his three bills out, fans himself.



Bud: Wow, we wonít have to do another repo for days.

Brett: Right.

Bud: What should we call you?

Pixel: Better if you donít have a name.

Brett: Right.

Pixel: Just stay off the main roads and keep heading west.



I pull out my phone. I know I have to ditch it. I text my family, send kiss emojis, tell them I love them. Then I google Army/Navy stores. Thereís one on the outskirts of town. I move the map with my finger to what looks like a fairly desolate spot a mile south of the store. I show it to Bud.



Pixel: You know where this is? Can you drop me there?

Bud: Thereís nothing there, dude.

Pixel: Thatís where I need to go.



I take one last look at my phone, my connection to the world, this indispensable device that has been in my pocket for years and years. I turn it off, roll down the window and hurl it away. Five minutes later, Bud pulls the car over at the crossroads Iíd pointed to on the map.



Bud: Thanks for the cash and the excitement dude. Vaya con dios.

Brett: Right.



Bud swings the car around and heads back the way we came. I wait for the tail lights to dwindle before beginning to walk north. I havenít gotten ten feet when I see lights in the sky far way in the distance. Low. Helicopter. My mind races. No wonder they were able to find me in the desert. They have some way to track It. I remember Junkins and Ballard talking about a "signalĒ that night. I spin on my heels and begin walking south while I try to overcome Itís compensatory calming and overwhelm It with fear. I think about that night in the desert. I look at the approaching lights. It needs to hide again like it did that first night. I feel It understand and begin to fold itself in inside me, camouflaging itself, disappearing. I continue in the same direction until I canít feel any trace of It anymore. The lights are still far off. Then I drop into a fast jog west before turning north again and heading toward my original destination. Hopefully they've lost their signal and theyíll continue along my last know path south.



I approach the store just as the proprietor is turning his ďopenĒ sign around. He sees me through the glass and opens the door a crack to tell me heís closing up. I tell him Iíll be quick, I have cash and Iím going to spend quite a bit if heís willing to let me in. He smiles broadly and locks the door behind me as we go inside.



Proprietor: So what do you need?

Pixel: I need some time to myself. I need enough gear to survive in the wilderness for a few days. Got some big life stuff to contemplate.



He eyes me up and down for a moment.



Proprietor: On the run?



Iím not sure what to say.



Proprietor: Seen lots of people with troubles. Some good folks, some bad folks. Iíve always been good at sizing people up at first glance.



He extends his hand and I shake it.



Proprietor: Nameís Harold Hellman but folks around here just call me ďBrain.Ē

Pixel: Pixel. Iíd give you a fake name, but eventually, theyíre going to show up here asking questions.

Brain: They gonna ask me questions with guns?

Pixel: No, I donít think so.

Brain: The law then.

Pixel: Sort of.



He stands there for a moment, thinking, then decides.



Brain: OK. You ever spent any time in the wild?

Pixel: Not for a very long time.

Brain: Letís start over here.



Over the next 20 minutes, we shuffle from one part of the store to another. We start with a good pack and begin kitting it out. A bedroll, a good knife, compact binoculars, a tiny folding fishing pole. A good brimmed hat, water purification tablets, a canteen, a compass, strike anywhere matches. MREs for five days and the full canteen make up most of the weight in the pack. He leads me toward the rifle rack, but I shake my head. We finish up with good boots. He starts ringing me up and points to the camera over the entrance.



Brain: Iíll have to show them the footage, but itís not accessible from outside. Iíll have to show them your receipt too. But here. A gift. It wonít be on the receipt.



Itís a map of the Rainbow Mountain Wilderness.



Brain: I grew up hiking that wilderness. A man can get lost in there for a long time if he doesnít want to be found. Theyíll expect you to head for the Canyon. Go south instead and head for the Wilderness. Not too many traffic cameras between here and there yet. Just use the binoculars when you see posts to spot any and stay at least 100 yards away if you see one. If you start now, you can make the Wilderness before sunrise. Find a good spot to hole up. Avoid the trails during the day if you donít want to meet other hikers. Youíre not supposed to start fires in there but if you make it small, just for cooking, and put it out immediately you could live there as long as you need. Get your fish from the lakes and your drinking water from the river.



I try to give him some extra money but he refuses. I shrug the pack onto my back. Itís heavier than I expected.



Brain: Itíll get lighter as you work your way through the MREs. Keep your feet dry. Respect the land.



He shakes my hand and pulls me in tight.



Brain: Respect the land.

Pixel: I promise. Thank you, Harold.



I walk out into the night. Thereís no sign of pursuit. I cross the street and head toward the mountains.



Next: The wilderness and someone with problems bigger than mineÖ


Moaaaar!!!
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Old 03-13-2018, 11:07 PM   #141
BiteMeFish
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Re: March Madness 2017 TR, Jersey Boys Edition

Lol you really had to quote that?
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Old 03-13-2018, 11:23 PM   #142
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Re: March Madness 2017 TR, Jersey Boys Edition

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Lol you really had to quote that?


Yeah I think heís trolling us.
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Old 03-13-2018, 11:38 PM   #143
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Re: March Madness 2017 TR, Jersey Boys Edition

Holy crap itís been years since I read something and have been so enthralled by it, really good need more.
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Old 03-15-2018, 11:29 AM   #144
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Re: March Madness 2017 TR, Jersey Boys Edition

PS not to skip ahead but I am in Vegas again right now so may not update this for a few days. Anyone here who wants to bake up or hit Chada PM me.
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Old 03-15-2018, 11:43 AM   #145
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Re: March Madness 2017 TR, Jersey Boys Edition

This feels like a time warp story and about 12 months from now Pixel will post again...."guys I know my last trip was hard to believe but that was only the start of things..."

In case we dont hear from you again I have have enjoyed your writings to this point.
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Old 03-15-2018, 12:56 PM   #146
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Re: March Madness 2017 TR, Jersey Boys Edition

Quote:
Originally Posted by pixelpusher View Post
PS not to skip ahead but I am in Vegas again right now so may not update this for a few days. Anyone here who wants to bake up or hit Chada PM me.
So you escaped the wilderness?! Hope the emotional dial still works!
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Old 03-15-2018, 04:07 PM   #147
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Re: March Madness 2017 TR, Jersey Boys Edition

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Originally Posted by pixelpusher View Post
PS not to skip ahead but I am in Vegas again right now so may not update this for a few days. Anyone here who wants to bake up or hit Chada PM me.


Crush it at the tables and book, look forward to reading about your trek into the wilderness and the conclusion when you get back.
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Old 03-17-2018, 11:35 PM   #148
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Re: March Madness 2017 TR, Jersey Boys Edition

Hooked now
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Old 03-18-2018, 08:18 AM   #149
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Re: March Madness 2017 TR, Jersey Boys Edition

Great writing, moar please.
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Old 03-21-2018, 02:02 PM   #150
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Re: March Madness 2017 TR, Jersey Boys Edition

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Originally Posted by pixelpusher View Post
Hey LVL, itís been a while. Iím not sure where to begin. Iím currently on a flight back to the east coast. This TR from last March ended abruptly for good reason. The posts from my account after March 16th of last year were not from me. I am just now returning home for the first time since I landed in Vegas back in March. For reasons that will become evident, there are no photos of any kind from this trip. Iím writing up the entire experience now, breaking it into parts and will post them sporadically in the coming week. If all parts of the story make it onto the site, then Iím safe and theyíre not coming for me.

Iím still having a difficult time wrapping my head around how Iím going to explain to my family that Iíve been missing all this time. They will be hard pressed to believe the story Iím about to tell. So will you.
Just started reading this thread a few weeks ago and enjoyed the Atlantic City trip from 2017 and was looking forward to a normal TR with awesome pics from the March Madness 2017 TR, and now my jaw hit the ground and even though I am very busy at work right now, I NEED TO KNOW WTF HAPPENED.

I've been on benders, but never more than 3-4 days. A year long bender would kill me.
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