Las Vegas Experience

Discussion in 'Sidewalk Cafe' started by hopinglarry, Jun 2, 2020.

  1. hopinglarry

    hopinglarry Top Member

    Well since I am bored of staying at home and it may continue for sometime, I thought I might put some of my more vivid memories down and see if other wanted to do likewise. Most don't have gambling involvement.

    To digress somewhat. In the summer of 64 I was registering for college and my first assigned advisor was Edward Thorpe. When I went to school later on he wasn't there and had gone on a sabbatical or something so I never got to meet him. I did know the name (in those days I still had a memory) because I had seen him on a show once ("to tell the truth" or "what's my line") so I was little bit familiar. I will come back to this later.

    My first time in Vegas was 1974. My wife and I took a weekend honeymoon there. I knew nothing about casino gambling. I remember taking a $100 (what I had allocated to gamble with) going to a BJ table and promptly losing it at $5 a hand where we were staying at the Horseshoe. I remember we had our picture taken with the million dollars, but I can not remember whether they still had the $10,000 bills or not. We probably still have that picture in a box somewhere. I remember we were at Circus Circus up above the casino floor and a woman walked past us wearing (I swear) only a fish net. It was eye opening.

    In 1975, my long time friend Mike called me up and had some guys who wanted to go to Vegas over Memorial Day. I decided to do it staying at the Westward Ho on one of their package deals. In that trip, we were playing BJ at the Golden Gate (Downtown) and my friend pointed out to me that I did not know how to play BJ.

    In 1976, Mike called me up again with another trip to Vegas over Memorial Day. I decided to go and remembered Edward Thorpe. I found his book "beat the Dealer" and learned how to play BJ. He had a difficult count system to me by starting with 36-16 and deducting 1 from each column to get ratio for betting purposes. I used it for a couple of years. I wasn't so much trying to win money as to limit my losses by playing correctly. So in the later 70's I ran across Revere's book (Playing Blackjack as a Business). I even got his advanced plus-minus count and used that system until the 90's. By this time there were so many shoe games that I looked around and found Ken Uston's "Million Dollar Blackjack". It had a section on teaching you to count by estimating the discards. I went to a casino supply store and bought a bunch of decks of cards. I set them up in half deck stacks from 1/2 to 5 1/2. I then practiced until I felt competent about the "true count" for betting and playing. If I still played BJ I would use that.

    My friend and I continued to meet once a year in Vegas. It eventually changed to twice a year in the late 80's. One of the trips usually was around a BJT normally at the Riviera. I never had any success at those tournaments.

    In 77 my wife and I took another trip to Vegas during the summer. I had a VW Dasher with no air conditioner. We were in Las Cruces NM. It was 690 miles and the lowest high we had for the trip was 111. In Vegas, we went to a couple of those things where they try to talk you into buying property. We got 2 shows for that. We saw Charo in one of them and I was really surprised to hear her talk, sing and play the guitar. It was nothing like the Ding-Bat you saw on TV. The other show was for Rodney Dangerfield at the Tropicana. An unusual experience occurred. We were there early and we were watching some guy play BJ for 300-500 a hand. You couldn't miss it. Every time the dealer busted, he would lean across the table and say in a rather loud voice (Busted your Ass didn't you dealer). He was terrible and it appeared he was playing "no bust" which is basically suicide. He looked back and saw my wife standing there. He motioned her over, put $100 in a square and told her to play it. She got a 14 against dealer 10 and hit a 7 for 21. He gave her the $100 and my wife told him she had to go because we were going to the show. He said just a minute. Checked in his chips and proceeded to take us to the show. There was a line which we were going to get into and he said I don't stand in lines and proceeded straight to the front. The people took us to a booth. He sat down for at most 5 minutes. He told the waiter to give us anything we wanted and he would take care of everything later. He had an unusual name that started with an "X". He said he came there 2 or 3 times a year, lost 50-70 thousand dollars. A lot of money for a couple of working stiffs like us. After the show, I could hear him playing BJ. I went over to the table to thank him. There was another couple playing at the same table and lo and behold, all 3 of them got up and they were going to the Follie Bazaar. I heard the pit boss telling the supervisor not to worry he would be back shortly.

    On my 1976 trip, we were staying at Westward Ho. I came back to my room one evening and there was a woman crying unconsolably outside the room next to me. Another woman was trying to calm her down. I asked if I could help and was told they had just got to town that afternoon and her husband had already lost all their money. A sad situation that I still remember.

    We stayed at Westward Ho our first 4 trips out there. In 78 or 79. I had an experience that you have likely not experienced. I was laying in a lounge chair by the pool nursing a hang over. I hear a car revving up behind me. I turned around an a small car in reverse crashes into the wrought iron fence, breaks through and was coming straight at me. Luckily I was already moving away, but the car still knocked the chair into me and we both went in the pool. Luckily I was not hurt.

    Mike and I stayed at the Horseshoe for most of the 80's. He had a friend that played for a lot more than us who could get 2 comped rooms. We liked that. We preferred downtown. I don't know how many $2 steaks I ate at the Shoe over the years, but it was a lot. I remember the 99 cent shrimp cocktail in the tulip shaped sundae cup at the Golden Gate. I remember the Union Plaza had eggs benedict for 1.99 that were amongst the best I ever ate. The Cortez down the street had a 3.95 (4.95) one pound T-Bone or porterhouse steak meal that was really good. I remember sitting at the Horseshoe Bar drinking those 50 cent beers, watching the craps tables and then after feeling brave going over to the coldest table I could find and proceeding to lose my money. I don't know how much I lost at that over the years.

    The Horseshoe was the first place to put me on a flat bet (whatever you bet on the first hand is what you had to continue to bet). I followed Revere's policy to not bet more than double what you had bet the hand before so I didn't have much of a spread. Mike spread more than me and was put on a flat bet one day and because of association I got put on a flat bet. Ended my BJ at the Horseshoe and it would have been in the later 80's.

    I remember I did have a streak where I won on 8 consecutive trips (so 4-6 years). The most I won was a little over 6000. I was not a big bettor. I had a wife and kids and couldn't afford to lose a lot of money. My idea of a win includes all expenses air, hotel, food, shows or whatever. If I had more money after the trip including all expenses than what I had before then I won. Mike had a different idea. He considered all the expenses to be entertainment and he had a winning trip if he won at actual gambling.

    One trip we were there and they were running the Mint 400 (an off road race). They had a lot of the cars lined up on Fremont street and it was warm outside. I was sitting in the Mint playing poker (I wasn't a good poker player) at a table that was on the route to the restrooms. Many scantily clad young ladies were wandering through there to the restroom. I had to quit poker since I was watching too many ladies and not enough cards.

    I remember one day we were at Lady Luck. Walking out by a craps table there was Richard Karns. He has been in a number of things but I remember him as Tim Allen's straight man in (Home Improvement). I am sure I was in the casino with a lot of celebrities over the years. Probably at Caesars Palace when they had one the big prize fight they had ever so often. I do remember Susan Anton doing a poor job of the National Anthem before a fight. I remember seeing Jake Lamotta in his wheelchair being pushed by I guess his ex wife Vicki. In any event a very pretty and built woman. I remember being out at the Hacienda on fight night and one evening Red Foxx was there dressed all in yellow. He looked like a banana. His language was atrocious not what I remember from "Sanford and Sons".

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  2. hopinglarry

    hopinglarry Top Member

    continued I did not realize there was a 1000 character limit so here is some more.

    There was a dance place "Cars"(?) I believe was on Sahara. Went there a few times because Mike and friends like to dance. One night, I swear, it looked like "Little Annie Fanny" from Playboy had come to life. Quite a bodacious young thing.

    Back in the old days I watched some NBA games in particular Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. I was walking up and down the downtown casinos and looking to see if I there was a bet I could make on Houston to win the playoffs. They were the reigning NBA Champs and had a terrible year. However, I knew that the big reason for that was injuries (some games they had 5 bench players start the game. The starters were getting healthy at the end of the season. The Golden Nugget had them at 25 to 1. This was far and away higher than the other casinos. I plunked down a $100 and was rewarded later on when they repeated their championship. That was the biggest sports bet I ever won.

    The first BJ tournament I ever won was at the Rio. Shortly after they opened Mike and I went there to try out their advertised Buffet. It was really good. I noticed on a sign that they had a little BJT coming up. So we came back to play in it and I won. I got two surprises. A W-2 G and I think at was either 750 or 1000. I thought the limit was 1200. The other thing that makes me really remember it was the noise I heard while I was waiting to get paid. The guy that had sit in seat 6 was giving the guy, who had sit in seat 2 hell for his play. I was in seat 1. The guy was very upset that the guy in seat 2 had stayed in the last 6 hands with literally no money and put him in seat 6 on the button on the last hand. He was very irate.

    I made as bonehead a mistake as you could make in a BJT at either 4 Queens or Fitzgeralds. Back in those days you usually played for real money at the table. You had a registration fee and a table buy in. This tournament the buy-in was $300. The first round I won the table and advanced with $145. The second round I won the table and advanced with $170. So after 2 rounds I was down the $250 fee plus lost in the rounds. Luckily in the 3rd round I won the table with $550 so I had got a lot of it back. On the last hand of the finals, I was in the lead and playing 3rd. The guy right behind me was playing 2nd, and the only other contender was playing 4th. After the first guy bet I kept back one more chip than him $5 (at least I thought so). I couldn't protect against the guy behind me, but he would have to win a DD to get up to us. Dealer had a 10, the guy betting 2nd had 17, I had 14 and the other guy had a soft 6. The 2nd guy thought for some time and finally stood. I thought about this. The payoff was 25K for 1st, 10K for 2nd and 6K for third. I finally decided to stand since unless dealer hit to 17 I would either be 1st or 2nd. The other guy doubled and hit to 21. Now much to my surprise when they counted the chips the guy in 2nd had $20 more than me and I ended up 3rd. I did not see real good and had to remember the chip total from the count with 5 hands to go. I had his chip total right but I was $25 lower. I still remember waking up at 2 AM and remembering what happened. Three hands from the end I had correlated with a $25 insurance bet with the guy in 2nd I had forgotten to deduct that from my chip total. A true screw up.

    Well if any of you want to expand on your Vegas experiences do join in. I will likely think of more things as I go on, but I am tired of typing.
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  3. hopinglarry

    hopinglarry Top Member

    Another odd thing happen once. I was sitting at a BJ table in the Horseshoe all by myself and some guy walks up, reaches across the table into the dealers chips and pulls out a stack. The dealer started to say something but standing behind the guy was a pit supervisor, host and security guard. The guy played 2 hands and got up and left. After a few moments I asked the dealer what just happened. He told me the guy was a big player and played for $5000 a chip. Considering I was playing $5 that was a lot of money.
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  4. hopinglarry

    hopinglarry Top Member

    A couple more oddities popped into my brain.

    Mike and I stayed at the Landmark (it had a restaurant up top) if you don't remember it the demolition of it was in a scene in the movie "Mars Attack". We were eating at that restaurant and some woman came up and asked if we were father and son. Since we are the same age this was rather funny to us. To this day if we are around each other, at some point something will come up and he will call me Dad. Of course, I know she thought he was the dad. If you looked at our hair you would see that I had a lot and he had male pattern baldness, so it is obvious who was the dad. We both agree that we know who she meant, the other guy of course. It has been something to chuckle about for 30 years.

    We were at the Silverton one night to play in their (I guess weekly or monthly) little BJT. This would have been around 2005 give or take a year. Much to my surprise I saw Wong and Anthony Curtis and a bunch of other faces then I recognized from playing in big tournaments. I had no idea why these guys were there. I did make the finals and the pot was split seems to me like it 550 a person.

    I was at Sam's Town one day playing their progressive VP on the 2nd level. Their was a group of 6 guys playing down the bank. They were playing 4 or 5 at a time and once in awhile they would change out some one. Now days I realize this was probably the first time I ever noticed a professional VP team at work. Didn't know that existed at the time.

    I remember we used to go into the old Aladdin to the bar that they called the Bus Stop. Many a "lady of the evening" frequented the place.

    I remember playing in a BJT at Harrahs right after it had taken over the old Holiday hotel with the paddle wheel. This particular tournament has the best registration dinner I have ever went to. They had cooking stations for everything. I was a lot younger and could eat. I had several filet mignons, lobster tails, shrimp, delicious sides. I remember topping it off with them making me cherries Jubilee and if I hadn't been so full I would have gotten some banana foster. Truly great event. I did't do any good in the BJT.
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  5. KenSmith

    KenSmith Administrator Staff Member

    I’ve heard a lot of these stories of course, but the car running you into the pool was a new one!

    As for Wong and Curtis showing up at Boomtown for a small weekly bjt, I can guess why they were there. That was just as WSOB and UBT were cranking up, so they were getting in some practice!
  6. BughouseMaster

    BughouseMaster Active Member

    you completely lost me when you said he reached across the table into the dealers chips and pulls out a stack........... that right there sounds like someone trying to steal tokes!
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2020
  7. hopinglarry

    hopinglarry Top Member

    I should have probably said Dealer's Tray.
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