When normal people decide to travel to Las Vegas, the gambling usually begins after they get off the plane and check into a nice hotel. For a guy like me, though, the rolling of dice started long before I stepped on the casino floor.
In the fall of 2007 my foursome won a regional qualifier and were handed an all expenses paid trip to Sin City to compete in the Playboy Golf Scramble. While the rest of my team basked in glory and lamented about the excursion, my mind wandered to a dark place.
Visions of inserting myself into a large piece of luggage near the Seattle border and hearing the sound of a trunk slam down on me clouded my thoughts. Some legal mumbo jumbo from my past that would cause issues at the border was throwing a monkey wrench into my celebration.
There was only one logical thing to do about the impasse. I emptied my hockey gear all over the basement floor and told my brother to drive me across the border - literally.
Not many things are more helpless and humiliating than being smuggled into a foreign land inside a stinky sack, but I have a talent for allowing myself to sink to levels the average man can’t comprehend.
After successfully gaining entry I popped out of the compartment like a young Luke Skywalker exiting the belly of a fallen ton ton. My lungs quickly filled with precious United States oxygen.
I considered this personal victory my first winning wager.
A one way ticket from Seattle to Las Vegas had me checking into Treasure Island and reuniting with my team within a couple hours.
The golf was good, the Playmates were great, but the gambling was sensational.
Three days of sun coated my skin with a Côte D'Azur tan and three nights of hitting, splitting and doubling down found me 12 grand richer.
The profits afforded me a freedom not known to many degenerates. For a small period in time all doors were open.
I took the tram to the Mirage to experience Cirque de Soliel's presentation of the Beatles’ Love.
The next night I got a taste of anarchy when the pirates invaded the MGM Grand for a Jimmy Buffet concert. I capped my week by spending a few hours with Elton John and his Little Red Piano at Caesers.
My human trafficking experience was a one time deal so I decided to try and see as much as I could before making an exit. I left Vegas in an exotic rental and blew through the Mojave desert en route to L.A.
The Sunset Strip rewarded me with fine establishments like the 7th Vail and Crazy Girls where I threw my profits around like confetti while baptizing single mothers of all shapes and sizes with charitable donations.
I travelled the California coast and spent the day frolicking along the fairways of Pebble Beach before continuing my journey through Santa Cruz and on to San Francisco.
I placed my bets online Sunday morning from the hotel and settled in for some action. I took the Browns over St. Louis in the early game and the Bills over the Jets in the late.
By the time I finished breakfast, Cleveland was down 14 points and I accepted that my luck had finally run out. I couldn’t stomach watching the game any longer so I drove to the corner of Haight and Ashbury to pay my respects to the Grateful Dead, went for a walk around the Bay which showcased the infamous Alcatraz Penetintary, and arrived back at the hotel just in time to see the Browns cover the spread by returning a Marc Bulger interception for a last minute touchdown.
Cash, not gas, was fueling this road trip. The wins just kept coming.
Suddenly, it was all worth it.
The Bills later paid me a handsome reward and I reinvested a nice chunk of the profits on the Red Sox later that night as they swept the Colorado Rockies in the final game of the World Series.
My vacation turned into a scene from Brewsters Millions where I just couldn’t spend the cash faster than I was making it. My love for this addict