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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Hot and Homeless in Tucson- The Sunday Collage

I love Tucson, Arizona. The people are friendly, the Mexican food is authentic, housing is cheap and so is gas. (currently about 1.79 a gal.) The mountains around Tucson provide a gorgeous skyline just before sunrise and just after sunset. The mountains are littered with giant saguaro cactus poking up everywhere. Tombstone and Bisbee are close by. If you're ever in this neck of the woods, Bisbee is worth the drive. Very unique place.

So in mid July, I sold my bungalow in Boise. It was going to be three weeks before my new home would be ready. That left me in the awkward position of being homeless for three weeks with nothing to do. I had narrowed the possibilities down to Saratoga, Del Mar, or Tucson. I love Saratoga Springs, NY. It is one of the coolest places in the U.S.- especially during the horse racing meet. But finding lodging anywhere near Saratoga or Del Mar (San Diego) is just insanely expensive. At over 200-300 bucks a day, three weeks in those places was going to run about 5k figuring in their sky high tax rates as well.

I could find places near L.A. for under 200 a day but that meant fighting Los Angeles traffic.

So I settled on Tucson. I turned the high speed Elantra toward Vegas. I spent a couple of nights at Sam's Town before reaching Tucson.

Nothing too eventful happened until I arrived in Tucson. I booked a room at an extended stay hotel. The last time I stayed here, the hotel was brand new and nice. Not so much anymore. I switched rooms to a quiet corner after spending a night underneath some tweakers who apparently stomp around on the floor all night and never sleep.. The hotel is already starting to show signs of being run down. But it's nice enough for my purposes. It's very easy in Tucson to find a decent hotel/motel for around 50 bucks and there are plenty of alternatives.

The only other knock on Tucson is the heat here in the summer. It's smoking hot. On consecutive days, the thermometer in my car showed 109 degrees. I happen to be one of those people who can handle temperature extremes pretty well so I don't even turn on the a/c until somewhere after 90.

The food here has been fantastic. There is an In and Out Burger near me. I found an Italian restaurant called Ragazzi and had the sea bass. It was excellent. I found a few authentic Mexican restaurants and the truth is- they are all good. For breakfast I found a place called the Baja Cafe. I have eaten there at least 7 times. The food is very good and every dish is under 10 bucks. The staff are friendly and they are very efficient.

They have a couple of Indian casinos with live entertainment on the outskirts of Tucson. The other night I listened to a band that only plays Bob Seger music- it was fun hanging out with the 50+ crowd. There were quite a few young folks there too, because the truth is- their generational music really does suck.

Driving in Tucson is strange. There are many people here who actually obey the speed limit.

The Elantra is hard to see out of. So I've managed to bang a few things including the trash cans at my house. I have also lost the use of one eye, on and off for a year now, and I've noticed my rear bumper cover has taken it's share of abuse during that period. When you lose an eye, you lose depth perception or the ability to triangulate between 3 points. At any rate, my rear bumper cover is banged up and I have already replaced it once so I am simply gonna wait until I sell the car to buy a new one. (On line covers are only 90 bucks compared to the 650 that I paid the body shop to fix the last one.)

The day before yesterday, the cops had a robbery and shoot out with a bad guy who is now with St Peter. They closed the highway to Nogales and this caused me to seek an alternative route to the casino. Traffic was backed up and very snarled as people tried to find ways around the closure. I was stopped at a stop light and suddenly felt a thud and lurched forward as some gal rear ended me with her Subaru. Her bumper matched mine pretty well and she put another crease into my already beat up bumper cover. She was about 70 and very apologetic. I looked at her grill, my bumper cover, and announced no damage. She thanked me. When I got to the casino, I reached up and inside with a screwdriver handle and pushed the crease out.

I made some dough when I sold my house so losing a grand or so would not be a life shattering event. Yesterday, I would get it all back and then some. It's funny how things happen.

Bad beat jackpots for poker started in California many years ago. Casinos take an extra dollar from every pot won and use it to build jackpots. They are generally awarded when aces full of something is beaten by a higher aces full of something, four of a kind, or a straight flush including a royal flush. Having your aces full of jacks full house beaten by a larger hand is a pretty rare event. So these jackpots generally build over time and some get quite large. In Kansas City, four of a kind must beat 4 of a kind. That jackpot is always at 100,000 dollars plus- although I have not seen it for many years.

Generally speaking, nearly half of the jackpot is awarded to the losing hand, about 25% percent goes to the hand that won, and the remaining 25% is usually divided among the players at the table where the bad beat happens.

In my 35 years of playing, I have only seen four of a kind beaten twice. I witnessed it when a man flopped four sixes and was beaten by a straight flush. That happened 30 years ago in Vegas before I had even heard of a "bad beat" jackpot. The only other time I have seen four of a kind beaten happened last night. The jackpot was 50 thousand.

I got into the game around 8 pm. It was a small 3-6 limit game. The players were pretty tough and the pots were small. I had decided to play until the band started at 9 pm. By 9, my cards were running pretty good and I was up a hundred or so and the poker room also had a promotional drawing for a 100 bucks every hour or so which I had qualified for. So I decided to play some more. I teased the dealer and asked her if she had ever dealt a jackpot and if so I inquired- did she have proof? About 15 minutes later, there were two players left in a hand. An older gal on my right and this crazy looking long haired guy on my left. There had been some betting and calling and after the last card had been dealt- the two people left in the hand become embroiled in a "raise war." Each of them would raise, the other one would raise back, and I actually heard both of them ask the dealer if they could raise again. The board had two kings and two nines on it. I'm not sure what the other card was. After 4 or 5 raises, I think most of the players like myself thought they each had a king and would split the pot. But generally speaking, and this has been my experience, common sense minded players will quit raising when they figure out that their opponent has the same hand. These two did not do that- because both of them knew they could not have the same hand. Unbelievably, the gal with four kings was the one who quit raising. She turned her hand over. Then the guy with four nines turned his hand over. A roar went up from the table as we realized what had just happened. Players from surrounding games scrambled over to see what had happened.

It took them two and a half hours to pay us. The casino checks video to see who was in the game and that no cheating occurred, employees prepare IRS forms for every player, the room manager counts the deck down to make sure all the cards are there, and then employees obtain 50 thousand in one hundred dollar bills from the casino cage. The gal with the 4 kings received 10,001 dollars, the guy with the four nines received 20,001 dollars, and each of the rest of us in the game received 1669 dollars. The rest was split among the players in the other games.

While we were waiting to get paid, they called my name for the drawing. I won 100 dollars more. The older gal who won the hand- drank 6 Black Russians while we waited to get paid. We became friends, yakking away. After we got the dough I kissed her and thanked her for not "mucking" or discarding those kings. She was pretty drunk by that time and I'm not sure her husband appreciated me kissing her but it wasn't like I was looking to run off with her. After 40 years of marriage... well let's just say I know a few men who wouldn't have minded too much but from the look on this guy's face... he might not have been one of those.

We tipped the dealer nearly 3000 dollars. Not bad for a night's work.

Homeless in Tucson. Not the worst place to spend your summer vacation.