Downtown Las Vegas Nightmares!
So I recently traveled back to downtown Las Vegas and felt like I was trapped in a bad dream; hell, a nightmare!
Many years ago (1995), I was hired by Jack Binion as a dealer at Binion’s Horseshoe in Las Vegas. I was only 20 years old, and even though Jack knew that, he not only gave me a job but also saw to it that I obtained a fully legitimate gaming license. To this day I don’t know the details, but I have a special place in my heart for Jack since I needed a job at that time awfully bad.
I learned BJ, Craps, Roulette
, and Poker at one of the many gaming schools in Vegas, but learning Poker at a gaming school was not good enough for Jack Binion. So for over a full year I was not allowed anywhere near the Poker Room at the Horseshoe and instead dealt mostly BJ and Craps. However, I wanted to be a Poker dealer
(mainly because it paid a great deal more money back then – and had far greater tips) and eventually Jack gave me my shot.
That shot was not an easy road and took many months of training to fulfill; near the end of my training, Jack would pay many of the regular players to **** with me! Looking back on it, I really get a good chuckle out of some of the stuff they pulled, but it was for my own good and was an experience that I am proud, and downright honored to say I had. I was a Jack Binion certified dealer at the greatest Poker room on the planet!
My life took a different turn and I ended up leaving the dealer world behind. In the years since I have been back to the Horseshoe many, many times; I even played in the WSOP
at Binion’s. Now I go to Vegas at least once a year but have not been downtown since 2008; with all the good action at the Aria, Venetian, Rio, and other strip casinos
I just don’t get down there very much anymore, and if I do it’s for anything except Poker.
Within the last few weeks, my friends and I decided to go play in the Binion’s Poker Classic (an event I finished 3rd in in 2008) the week prior to a $1500 event at the WSOP. We stayed at the Four Queens since Binion’s no longer has an operating hotel and thought we would get good a warmed up for the series and then move on up to the Rio; as it turns out each and every one of us was disgustingly disappointed.
Upon arrival I immediately went over to Binion’s to check out the poker room and was met with what can only be described as a ghost town; I was immediately depressed. Binion’s, doesn’t even have a Poker room anymore, in its place they instead have a sidewalk apparel store. I did eventually find what they now call the Poker room, where the sports book used to be, and while it had about 6 tables, they were all empty. Further investigation turned up the fact that they run tournament Poker out of the Longhorn room upstairs now, the room that was originally used to try to meet the expansion needs of the WSOP. However, since that time the room has gone downhill, the tournament room was like playing in a warehouse; it was cold and drafty, the tables were all creaking and about ready to fall over (or so it seemed), and the dealers were the worst kind I have ever even heard of (not all of them, but close).
During my stay downtown I had several situations at the poker table:
Binion’s $200 BPC
From early position I decided to raise. The blinds were $600/$300 and I raised to $1400 (2.25x with 20BB).
I didn’t have any $100 chips, so I placed $1500 in two chips in front of me a verbally declared $1400 – standard procedure right?
The dealer was sitting in his chair slumped over with his belly hanging out over the table in a clear “I don’t give a f&*^ about nothing” posture. The button flat called my raise and the dealer lazily raked in the pot and gave the blinds change. During that process he ran out of $100 chips, so he left my $1500 sitting in front of me; then burned a card and dealt the flop.
I was first to act and immediately pointed to my $1500 and asked “What is that?” He replied, “Well you bet $1400 and I don’t have any change, so…”
“So make fu*&^ing change you lazy P.O.S.”. He eventually made the pot right, like is his job, I bet and the button folded and I raked in the pot anyway thereby making my argument irrelevant, but WTF? I realize he obviously doesn’t like his job, but, “do your job”; it’s not really that hard.
Jack Binion would have fired me on the spot if he had even heard that I slouched at the table; even during a tournament break; I’ve seen dealers fired for much, much less than that even.
Golden nugget $1/$2 Cash Game
I had been playing for a while and was dealt the
multiple times, but I noticed that the back of the card was worn in a pattern that I could easily recognize the
without even seeing the card. I pointed this anomaly out to the floor, who immediately told the dealer to switch to the alternate deck.
She did, and during that time the floor man went to podium and returned with a blue
and had the dealer slide it in the other deck as a replacement card; what?
Am I in Vegas, or my buddy’s house? Why don’t you just kill the deck? The dealer had to switch decks anyway so it doesn’t save time or anything like that; I’ve never even heard of anything like that and there can be no reason for it other than house penny pinching.
Golden Nugget $135 “The Grand” tournament
I noticed that many of the Nugget dealers were also dealers at Binion’s so it was clear that some sort of partnership exists, but many of them were not and were apparently straight from Japan. Most could just barely speak English and clearly did not know the rules. Several occasions arose where I had to fight with the dealer to make sure that the rules were enforced, like at showdown where the called player attempts to muck face down despite the verbal declaration from his opponent to see the cards. They routinely missed their pitch spots by large degrees and were obviously far too inexperienced to be dealing a real money
game, in my opinion. Nothing against them though, it really isn’t their fault, they were just undertrained plain and simple.
One player kept complaining to the dealer about the fact that he kept dealing him a 2; which is really annoying but is something I have learned to put up with in low limit games. Finally, there was a raise and a call and this player was in the BB and was obviously dealt another 2. So just to make his point he showed the
to the dealer and the whole table saw the card and then threw the card on the floor, all the while laughing like it was a funny joke.
I immediately bowed my head thinking great, not only do you get a penalty, but now we need a new deck – thanks a lot buddy. Yet, nothing like that occurred, the floor man thought it was a funny joke and just placed the card back in the deck and allowed play to continue with that deck; he didn’t even give the BB a penalty. I couldn’t bite my tongue and told the floor exactly what I thought of that to which he didn’t really respond, he just kind of shrugged his shoulders and walked away.
Needless to say, I won’t be playing poker downtown again anytime soon. Further, I feel sick to my stomach since I personally know the standard to which Binion’s (and all of downtown) held the game of poker; after all, that’s the place that made poker famous, just as it says on the sign; now they are apparently trying to make Poker infamous!