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Best of Barney Vinson

Gaming Guru

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Man with a Plan

18 December 2005

I was a man with a plan, a man with a future, a man with the world at his feet. I was a dice dealer at the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas! Man, if my friends could see me now. The Dunes towered over everything in sight like a technicolor lighthouse, and tourists and celebrities alike flocked to the place night and day. It was a far cry from the Pioneer Club or the Mint or the unemployment office, three of my favorite haunts since I'd hit town two years ago.

The money was great, too. I was making more in one night than I did in a whole week back in Texas. The nice thing about the players at the Dunes was that most of them knew about tipping. You didn't have to practically beg like a seal for a zook, like you did at the Mint. These players knew what life was all about, and how the wheels turned. They either gave you something when they won, or they didn't, and you didn't argue with them about it. One player, who owned a fish market in New York, even had his formula worked out to a science. He gave you exactly one percent of what he won, no ifs, ands, or buts. If he won $5,000, you got one percent of that. Fifty dollars. If he won $50,000, you got five hundred. The only thing he asked —- no, demanded -— was that you know exactly how he played. You never asked, "Is that a come bet or a place bet?" You'd better know what it was. And the other thing was that you never touched his checks. Go out to straighten his bet and you'd come back with a broken finger.

Some of the players didn't want you talking to them; others wanted to talk all night. Some players wanted you to give them the dice on a certain number; others didn't give a damn one way or the other. Some players had their favorite dealers and wouldn't play on any other table. There was this one dealer named Vinnie who was so popular with the players that he practically walked around with a bodyguard.

Vinnie knew every George in the joint on a first-name basis. They literally flocked to his table, like sheep going to the slaughterhouse. "Where's Vinnie?" they'd cry if they didn't see him. "What time does Vinnie come on?" And the guy was good, I'll say that. The New York junkets would fly into McCarran, where there would be a bus waiting to take them to the Dunes. Well, Vinnie would hire a limousine and have his personal players chauffeured to the hotel. Working with him was heaven on earth, and I'd give a year of my life to be on the same crew with him right now.

Another dealer, I won't mention his name because he's still in the business, would write every good player's name down in a little book he carried around with him. Name, address, credit line. Later on, he got a job as a host in another hotel, just because of all the names in his book. And damned if he didn't wind up as an executive vice-president. Well, you had to hand it to him. Most of us, me included, were just basking in the moment, not ever thinking about tomorrow.

One thing you never asked a player was what line of work he was in. It was okay to ask him where he was from, or how long he would be in town, but you never asked him what his occupation was. Most of these big players were doing something that would get you or me 20 to life, but they seemed to get away with it year after year. How else could they piss away $100,000 in a weekend, and then just laugh about it?

At the Mint, when someone held up a finger it usually meant he wanted another beer. At the Dunes, a finger in the air meant the player wanted $1,000. In some instances, a finger in the air meant $10,000. You just had to know your players.

(To be continued)

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