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Best of Barney Vinson

Gaming Guru

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Taking a Marker

13 November 2005

I was working in the big time, dealing craps at the biggest brashest hotel in Vegas, the Dunes Hotel and Country Club. It was a lot different than the Mint, where I used to work. At the Mint, eighteen across meant three dollars on each of the numbers, or eighteen people passed out at the bar. At the Dunes, eighteen across meant three hundred on each number, or in some cases three thousand on each.

The players at the Dunes didn't pay for their bets with regular old American currency, either. They played off of markers, which is something I'd only heard about in the rumor mill. Up to this time, I didn't know that players could get money without actually having money. Downtown, you put up or shut up. On the Strip, you set up a credit line, and then played off of it. It was called "taking a marker."

For instance, you're coming to town on the New York junket. You set up a credit line with the junket master, and he vouches for you in the casino. "He's good for $25,000," the junket master would say. Then you strolled up to the table and said, "Give me five thousand." Just sign a marker and there you go.

If you blew your credit line, then you'd go back to the junket master. "I'm tapped out. I need another five." The junket master would usually okay it, and now you owed the hotel $30,000. When you got back home, you'd send the money, or they'd send someone to get it. Usually it was the junket master the first time. After that, it could be anyone, and if you had the money they'd get it. If you didn't have the money, they'd get it anyway, one way or the other.

Nowadays, it's more cut and dried. A marker today is just like a personal check, and it goes right through your bank account. Back then, markers weren't legally collectible, but just ask some poor soul who tried to welch on one. That is, if you can find one whose head bone is still connected to his neck bone.

I remember when one junket master made a trip over the George Washington Bridge into Jersey, looking for this hoodlum who'd taken the Dunes for something like $100,000. He went to the guy's apartment, asked him for the money, and got pushed down an elevator shaft. He walked with a limp the rest of his life.

Where are the cops when you need them?

(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