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Best of Barney Vinson

Gaming Guru

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Barney Vinson's World

7 April 2003

The Vegas Kid is the name of my very first novel, which has just been released in paperback. I'm walking on air! I mean, I've written other books, but they were non-fiction. This is the first time I actually plotted out a story, dreamed up some characters, blended it all together, then got a publisher to publish it. Whoa!

What's it about? Oh, about 208 pages. (Sorry, but I love that line.)

Actually, it's loosely-based on a time in my life when nothing was going right. Divorce, lawyers, property settlement, back surgery, job gone bad, no money. But they say tragedy and comedy go hand in hand, so this was my chance to see if they were right.

WRONG!

Tragedy is tragedy, and it's nothing to laugh about. But it gave me the idea for my novel. I took all the bad things that happened to me and dumped them right on the stooped shoulders of my hero, Sam Durango. I managed to get through it all in one piece, so now I would see how Sam handled everything.

See, here's something I learned from taking a creative writing course in college. If you develop your characters properly, they'll only react in a certain way when faced with adversity. So here's how the book starts.

Sam is a television star with a hit show called "The Vegas Kid." (I was a dealer at the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas when the place was hopping and money was good.) Ratings start to slip and Sam's show goes off the air. (The Dunes goes through bankruptcy.) Sam's wife leaves him and he winds up living in a beach house with three lovely girls. (Okay, so I made up the part about the beach house and the girls.)

Anyway, Sam eventually hits the road in a motor home and heads for Las Vegas. He picks up a man with car trouble who turns out to be the owner of a Vegas casino called Blackie's. And he offers Sam a job!

"What would I be doing?" Sam asked. "I don't know anything about gambling."

"I need dealers," the man said, "and I was thinking I might use you on one of the crap tables."

Sam frowned. "You want me to be a dealer on a crap table?"

"Hey, it's easy. In fact, all gambling games are easy. If they were complicated, nobody'd ever play anything, and I'd be out of a job."

"Well, darn, I've never even seen a crap table. I wouldn't know what to do."

"Look, it's real simple. You give the shooter the dice, okay?"

"Okay." So far it sounded all right.

"If the shooter rolls a two, three, or twelve, he loses. If he rolls a seven or eleven, he wins. If he rolls a four, five, six, eight, nine, or ten, that becomes his point and he has to roll that number again before he rolls another seven. If he does, he wins. If he rolls a seven first, he loses. See? I told you it was simple. Kids play this game in the street, back in Chicago."

Sam made a face. "I don't know. Maybe I could just drive you around in the motor home."

"I'll start you out at forty bucks a day plus meals, and you'll probably make another sixty a day in tokes. What do you say?"

"Sixty Cokes a day?"

"Tokes! That's what dealers call tips."

"Why?"

"I don't know, they just do." The man stubbed out his cigar in the ashtray. "One thing, though. You're going to need some clothes. Black shirts, black slacks, black shoes. We furnish the ties and aprons."

"Aprons?"

"All the dealers wear aprons. It's house policy."

"Why?"

"Well, it keeps everybody honest," the man explained. "A casino is like a bank, and we've got to take the same precautions."

"Oh." Maybe if Sam turned around right now, he could be back at the beach house by nightfall.

"That's why when you get off the game you always clap your hands."

"Come on," Sam laughed. "You're kidding me, right?"

"I never kid about business, kid. You clap your hands once and turn 'em face up. That shows the boxman you're not stealing anything."

"Boxman?" Sam echoed wearily.

"Yeah, he's the one who watches the game."

"Oh, so he's the boss."

"I'm the boss. The boxman works for me."

"Oh, so the boxman watches the game and you watch the boxman."

"No, the floorman watches the boxman."

"Oh, and who watches the floorman?"

"The pit boss."

"Who watches the pit boss?"

"The eye in the sky."

"Eye in the sky?"

"That's the man upstairs."

"You mean-—God?" Sam whispered, fighting an urge to genuflect.

"No, no, NO! The man upstairs over the casino. We've got two-way mirrors in the ceiling, and that's where our eye in the sky is. He watches everybody."

All this was too much for Sam. Boxmen and foremen and pit bulls and pie in the sky. He was beginning to wish he'd left the man standing on the side of the road back by his black limousine.

Now here's where it gets interesting. Two convicts have escaped from Four Walls prison, and they're on their way to Vegas to knock over the casino during a high-stakes poker tournament on Halloween night. Everyone is in costume, including Sam, who's wearing a security guard uniform. The two cons—-one dressed as a chicken and the other as an alligator-—mistake Sam for a cop, and there's a big shootout right in the casino!

I wish I could tell you how the story ends, but my publisher has sworn me to secrecy. He did say, however, that if you buy the book you'll find out why the stranger offered Sam a job in Vegas, how Blackie's became the Virginia City Casino, and yes, you'll even find out who Virginia is.

From start to finish, The Vegas Kid took me almost 20 years to write.

You're lucky. If you're like my cousin, you can read it in half that time.

The Vegas Kid is now on sale at bookstores, or from Huntington Press at 1-800-244-2224.

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