Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hit Me You Stupid Machine

No Aces Up Dealers Sleeves
Old timers like to reflect about how much better the "Good old days" were. You know, back in the days when men were men and women were glad of it. Those same good old days in Las Vegas, according to many old timers, were times when the mob ran the town. It was better then, a lot of them muse. The rules were clear and violation of those rules had consequences and no appeals. In those days casinos were owned by individuals, not corporations, and if you lost your wad, the kindly owner or pit boss would put his arm around your shoulder, comp you dinner, and pick up your tab for the ride home.
Dealers dealt from a single deck and shoes were on their feet, not on the table. And when they talked of gambling on machines, of course they meant slot machines. The town was smaller, friendlier, and everybody knew everybody. Nearly every old timer has a story of a personal contact, however brief, with Ole' Blue Eyes or Sammy, or Deano, or one of the entertainers. Many can remember when two hillbillys from West Virginia with no formal musical training played downtown stages as the Newton Brothers, Wayne and Jerry, and who knew that the guy who played the Last Frontier would one day be president of the USA?
But times change. Howard Hughes started the corporate revolution in the 1960s with the purchase of the Desert Inn followed by the purchase of five other properties on and off the Strip, as well as hundreds of thousands of acres of land that would one day become Summerlin. Hank Greenspun, a newspaper editor bought some land in a not-so-desirable location on the outskirts of town and his sharp son-in-law developed it into Green Valley. Steve Wynn bought the run down Golden Nugget, rehabilitated it, sold it and opened the Mirage, Billagio, and finally the Wynn Las Vegas.
As the town changed, so did gaming itself. Dealers began using shoes that contained multiple decks, making it more difficult for card counters, slot machines changed from reel-type to video and eventually stopped spitting out coins in favor of paper receipts, and gaming spread to other states. The internet spawned online gaming and the World Series of Poker became a television hit. Technology allows corporations to hire fewer people in favor of more machines. Machines are more efficient, dealing 40 hands per hour vs. a human dealer doing 25 hands per hour.
Electronic games require no tip to the dealer, deal faster, never take a sick day, don't sue the company, rarely insult the customer, and almost never make a mistake. Casinos in Las Vegas have been slow to change to electronic poker and other table games but they will be dragged kicking and screaming into the electronic age despite the unions and other Huddites who will try to block the way. One day the old timers will talk about the days when electronic games overtook the town. A little blogging music, maestro.... do you know the Platters version of "Remember When?'
Dr. Forgot

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