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Best of Barney Vinson

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The Bosses

26 February 2006

The bosses at the Dunes either loved you or hated you, depending on which stool at the bar they woke up on. In my case, one of the latter was a balding floorman named Jack. He was a stone-cold out-and-out homo, and didn't care who knew it. A sailor walked by the table one day and Jack said, "Mmm, sea food." I got on his wrong side by a simple innocent mistake on my part. One day he said to me, "Your hair is fine, isn't it?" I said, "Yes, and your hair is hard to find, isn't it?" I was just trying to make a joke, but he hated me from that day forward. Boy, talk about sensitive.

Kenny was a floorman who'd been in the racket all his life, starting back in Ohio when gambling wasn't even legal. He was a fat little guy, always hustling. In fact, when he used to deal his favorite line was, "Make a little bet for the fat man." But let you or me try to hustle a bet, and he'd come down on you like gangbusters. The only way to pacify him was to practically cut him in for a whole share of zooks. And God help you if you still had his money in your pocket when Kenny's days off rolled around. He'd actually come to your house to get it.

I was home one morning when the doorbell rang. Kenny and his wife were standing there. They were both old, probably in their late fifties. "Hi, Kenny," I said opening the door. "Hold on a minute and I'll get your money."

"Oh hell. I didn't come by for that. I just wanted to see how your garden's coming along."

Yeah, right. Anyway, I took them out back and showed off my vegetable patch. Believe it or not, I was living in an actual house now, with a little back yard and a mail box and everything. All the vegetables were practically dead except for some monstrous cucumbers I'd grown from seed. Don't ask me how I did it; I've never grown a decent vegetable since. The only things that seem to thrive in the desert are cactuses, or cacti, excuse me.

"Here's your money," I said. "I would've given it to you sooner—"

I never finished the sentence. That money was out of my hand, into his pocket, and practically back in circulation before I knew what happened.

Then there was Rhino, and the name alone should be enough to describe this brute. Everyone in the place was afraid of the guy, even the owners. He'd come tromping through the pit and the cement floor would actually shake. He would fire someone at the drop of a hat, including one poor stickman who got the ax for smiling when he called a winner eight the hard way.

One thing Rhino particularly hated were dealers who "crossfired." You could talk to one of the other dealers or the boxman while you were on the game, as long as you were talking about the game. If you were talking about something else, like "Get a load of the sixes and eights on that broad," then you were crossfiring. In Rhino's book, it was strictly taboo. One night this dealer named Rocky was crossfiring. Rhino took him off the game and read him the riot act. "Now get back in there and knock off the crossfiring." Rocky went back to the table, dragging his tail behind him. The boxman looked over at him and said, "What was that all about?" "Oh, he told me to quit cross—" That's as far as he got. Rocky was gone.

There was so much heat and so much pressure that some of the dealers didn't know which way to turn. One day the dice were parading on one of the tables, and Rhino was glaring at the stickman with sheer hatred in his eyes. "Call a seven this roll or you're out of here," he growled at the stickman.

The dice bounced down the table and landed on a six. "Loser seven," the stickman said, looking hopefully at Rhino. "That's it," Rhino screamed. "You're out of here!" Poor guy, he was damned if he did, and damned if he didn't.

(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