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Best of Barney Vinson

Gaming Guru

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Barney Vinson's World

28 July 2002


Charlie Lewis of Massachusetts writes, "On our last visit to Las Vegas we stayed at the Frontier Hotel on the Strip.  When we played blackjack, other players would get their first two cards and then say, 'Give me a monkey.'  We were piling up the chips and winning great, but we never found out what a monkey was."
      A "monkey" is a slang expression for a ten or face card.  It's very rarely used by civilized gamblers--which is why you hear it so often in Las Vegas.

Can I get my own private game in a casino?
       Private games are strictly for high rollers, so don't ask for one unless you're a sheik, prince, movie star . . . or former governor of Louisiana.

Can I watch a game in a casino without playing?
      
Sure.  In fact, it's fun.  At the dice table you may be asked to make room for someone who wants to play, but if it's quiet no one is likely to say anything.  At baccarat, stand behind the velvet ropes.  At the other games (roulette, blackjack, etc.), stand behind the players so that you're not in the way.  If by chance you happen to be watching some high roller who wants privacy, his eight-foot bodyguard will tell you.  Otherwise, watch as long as you want--and think about all the money you're saving.   

How do I buy chips in a casino?
      
You can buy them at the cashier's cage, or at the table where you plan to play.  Simply place your money on the table in front of you, and ask for change.  Never put your money in the betting circle of a game.  The dealer just might think you're making a bet.  That's why it never hurts to tell the dealer you want change.  It isn't necessary to specify the denomination of chips when you get change.  If the minimum bet at the table is $5, the dealer will give you $5 chips. 

       One dealer related the following story.  A man dropped a $100 bill on the table and said, "Give me twenty-five dollar chips."  So the dealer gave him 25 $1 chips and three $25 chips.

       "No," the man said.  "Give me twenty-five dollar chips."  This time the dealer gave him four $25 chips.

       "No," the man said.  "Give me twenty-five dollar chips."  What the man wanted was 20 $5 chips, which is what he would have gotten if he hadn't said anything.

Can I take chips from one casino to another?
      
Technically, chips are only negotiable at the casino where you buy them.  If you're a known player, or if you only have a couple of foreign chips, take them to the cashier's cage.  The cage will usually accept them. 

       To be on the safe side, convert your chips into currency before you leave.  To make it easier for you to carry the chips to the cage, "color up" at the table before leaving.  That means changing all your $1 and $5 chips into $25 chips--or (hopefully) $100 chips.

Can I use chips to pay for meals or drinks in the casino?
      
No.  Chips can only be used at the games, or for tips.
    
How much does a roulette wheel cost?
      
Around $10,000, but that includes the magnet and the foot brake.  (Just kidding.)

Why aren't the numbers on a roulette wheel in numerical order?
      
Let's stop the wheel and take a look at it.  Excuse me, folks, this'll only take a second.  The roulette wheel is designed so that each spin is completely random.  Therefore, a red number will always be next to a black number, number 1 will be directly opposite number 2, 27 will be opposite 28, and so on.  There are no more than two even numbers grouped together, and no more than two odd numbers.  On a single zero wheel, the configuration will be slightly different.  Thanks, everybody.  You can get back to your game now.

How much do all the numbers on the roulette wheel add up to?
      
Shades of The Exorcist!  The numbers on the roulette wheel add up to 666.  (Yeah, but does that include the O and OO?)

What does "en prison" mean?
      
My brother-in-law can answer that better than I can.  Oh, you mean at roulette!  It's an option available in some foreign countries (such as England and Atlantic City)  whereby you get a second chance for your money if you bet on any even-money payoff (red or black, odd or even, first 18 numbers or last 18 numbers) and the roulette ball lands on 0.  Your bet is "en prison" until the next spin of the wheel.  If a black number shows on the next spin, your original bet is returned to you.  If a red number shows, you lose your bet.  This cuts the house edge by about 1 percent.   

What is the record for the most black or red numbers in a row?
      
I'm not sure, but a roulette dealer at Foxwood's in Connecticut said that he counted 16 red numbers in a row.  Not to be outdone, a dealer at New York-New York reported black coming up 19 times in a row!

How much money does the Las Vegas gambling industry gross each month?
       T
he average win is about $330 million a month, or $137,500 an hour!  Remember, though, that out of that profit come operating expenses: employee
salaries ($975) and owner salaries ($32.7 million).

How many dice does the average casino use in a year's time?
      
About 65,000 dice a year--which costs the casino over $80,000!  Then they sell them in the gift shop for $160,000. 

Is kleptomania catching?
      
No, it's taking.

(Barney Vinson's new book "Ask Barney" is filled with hundreds of questions and answers about Las Vegas.  It's available at bookstores everywhere, or from Bonus Books at 1-800-225-3775.)

Barney Vinson

Barney Vinson is one of the most popular and best-selling gaming authors of all time. He is the author of Ask Barney, Las Vegas: Behind the Tables, Casino Secrets, Las Vegas Behind the Tables Part II, and Chip-Wrecked in Las Vegas. His newest book, a novel, is The Vegas Kid.

Books by Barney Vinson:

> More Books By Barney Vinson

Barney Vinson
Barney Vinson is one of the most popular and best-selling gaming authors of all time. He is the author of Ask Barney, Las Vegas: Behind the Tables, Casino Secrets, Las Vegas Behind the Tables Part II, and Chip-Wrecked in Las Vegas. His newest book, a novel, is The Vegas Kid.

Books by Barney Vinson:

> More Books By Barney Vinson