Coincidence or Follow The Leader

It’s said, great minds think alike—or something close to that. You get the thought. If Macy’s has a sale on shoes……..Kohls and  JC Penny has a sale on shoes. Don’t even think about car dealers. Everyday,  is the best day to buy a car; am I right? Those fellers all seem to think alike. You drive by any dealership and you’re gonna see cars, acres stuffed with late models. Got to be more cars than people in this valley. Who is going to buy all that iron? Where do these people come from? I’m happy that is not  my problem. You see  I live and work in the world of casino gaming, gambling. I report, in writing and in broadcasting, what is going on in the casinos and racinos of  New Mexico. I don’t decide on their promotions or anything like that. I watch and report. Been doing that for over 20 years and I got to tell you, it’s a never ending surprise on how two or three casinos will come up with the same marketing venture at the same time. Sandia decides to give away a big truck—-Isleta introduces the same prize, a hefty pickup. Route 66 is going to award a classy car; Sandia is going to hand over the keys to a high ticket gem. Up Pojoaque way, Buffalo Thunder is opening their purse, flooding the hills with five cars—–four cute wee Chevvies, and one super crowd magnet,  a sleek bullet—a Corvette. That’s history, but count on it, those promotions will be back, in new loin cloths, and stardust. So, what’s new? Look, just check the freeway billboards, flashy TV ads,  radio reminders—it’s entertainment, baby.
It seems every spring, when Sandia unveils it lineup for their Amphitheater’s  spring and summer season, neighboring casinos plump up their calendar of singers and groups. Is this all a coincidence, or is it planned. Or put it this way, who cares. You and I, the patrons of casino action, benefit from these odd happenings. I believe the accidents of identical promotions is serendipity at work, Great minds do think alike. Casinos and stores like Kohls, Macy’s, JC Penny, at times do come forth with identical promotions. It’s whatever works. Get them through the front door. No one wants to be left out in the cold. An empty casino is a scary thing.



Roulette Number 2

James Bond never loses. That’s make-believe. If you play one number at a time, you’d be bucking 38 to one odds. Your chances of winning would be the same as you being struck by lightning……inside the casino. So 007 playing only number 17 is mythical. Forget it. Play bunches. Look, a single number play returns 35 to one, instead of the natural 38 to one.
That should tell you the house has the edge going in. So what; it’s their house, their casino.
If you don’t like it, leave—get out. But, we wanna have some fun, so we stick around. And using our head, we have a few opportunities to come home with more folding dough than we had leaving la casa. Safe bets in Roulette are the 2 to 1 wagers, call them Outside Numbers: You get 12 numbers from each of the three columns. Pays, as we pointed out, 2 to 1. Next, there’s a wager called Low/High. You can bet numbers One-through-18, or 19 through 26. This pays even money, one-to-one. Cute bets, all of them, although they leave out the zero and double-zero. Ouch.There are two more even money bets: Odd or Even (numbers of course) pays even money, 1-1. And you may choose Red/Black, your call even steven 1-1.Let’s talk bunches. Bet two numbers and get 17 to one. Laying down on three numbers gets you eleven to one; four numbers returns eight to one. The ‘basket’ bet five numbers, up at the top where you find the zero, double zero and the one, two and three, that’s the five number wager returning six to one. And the six number bet gets a return of five to one. O.K., so what’s your pleasure? Let’s give you an old two method. This one is called Sweet 17. We are betting the $5 minimum, and it goes like this: Place one chip on the corner of the single zero and the #1.  Take two chips and place them stacked on the corner lines between the #7 and the #10. Next move down the table to the corner lines between the numbers #25 and #28. Looking at the numbers, you have the basket—zero, double zero, and #1, #2, and #3. Pays back five to one. Next you’ve six numbers: #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, and #12. Pays five to one. Finally, six more numbers:#25, #26, #27, #28, #29, and #30….pays five to one. You now have 17 numbers, two short of an even 50-50 bet against the house. Not a 100% cinch, but it’s close……keeps us in the hunt. Let’s say the ball falls in the number #11 hole, we win. We get back five dollars for each chip; we bet two chips so that returns $10 bucks, plus the two we bet. The total in hand is 12 dollars. We lost three; the one chip on the basket bet and the two chip wager #25 through #3o.We ended up $9 ahead of the game. Consider we only have to win six of the sixteen bets to still be ahead $4. I can have a lot of fun playing Roulette this way. Later this week we have another Roulette method, scary but fun.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: If you’re willing to admit faults, you have one less fault to admit.





Roulette More Fun Than Horseshoes

Sometimes people forget how to have fun. My sister, a retired psychologist, said some people get so wound up “trying to have fun” they screw it up, they become belligerent. Old Doc Holloway told me one time he saw two friends get in a fight over a game of horseshoes.
And one of the friends was a girl. He not only lost the argument, lost  the game—and he lost the girl. So much for playing with your sweetheart…..for cries sake, let her win. Look, you want to have fun in a casino, right? Going to a casino planning to win money is extremely bad karma. You go to a casino to have fun. If you win some money, fine. Just don’t go to kick ass and win money—go to have fun, and funny thing is—- you improve your chances of pocketing bling, you get peace of mind.  One the ‘fun-est’ games in a casino is Roulette. Easy to understand, easy to play. It was invented back in the late 1600s by Blaise Pascal, an incredibly smart mathematician from France. Today, in math circles around the planet his name is spoken softly, in reverence. Many of his formulas have more than stood the test of time. He invented Roulette because he was looking for a way to make some extra francs. Plus he longed to have something else, besides card games, to play in the casinos in Paris. In the 400 years or so since the invention of Roulette, little has changed. There are 36 numbers in the game, plus a single zero in European casinos, and two zeros in America. So, we have 37 numbers, one to 36–plus the zero in Europe. And 38 in America, one through 36, and a pair of zeros. O.K., to the game: You got the table, you got the wheel, and  you got the little ball-bearing. First, bring some money to the table, say 50 bucks. Ask the dealer the price of the game. She’ll tell you, something like this, “It’s a 5 dollar game.” This means five is the minimum bet  , and the chips are a dollar a piece. Give the dealer your 50, she’ll give you 50 chips. Now, there are seven players max at the roulette table. Seven players working with seven different colored chips. Pick one—ah, you picked yellow, good choice. You are ready to play. The only thing to decide at this moment in time is how are you going to spend the five dollar minimum? Put 5 dollar chips down on one number is tempting, seeing how it pays 35 to one, meaning you’d get back $175, plus the five you put down, comes to $180. That sounds exciting; it also sounds idiotic—-the village idiot dancing in circles around the town square. Fuh-get about it. Better to put one chip on five different numbers. You’ve increased your odds substantially, but not enough to make it a smart play. Let’s stop here, we’ll give some other plays come Wednesday. And a bit more information on the game of Roulette.





Some City’s Getting Race Horses & Slots

There’s room in New Mexico for one more horse racing-slot casino, known as a “Racino.”
There’s a fellow out of Chicago whose bought some land on the outskirts of this New Mexico village. There’s another clot of beings, car people, who tied up another chunk of property in the same area of the same town. Yes, and still another group—a Native American entity—with experience in day to day casino doings—none in horse racing. However, all three of these bodies have seasoned professionals in racing and/or casino operations at beck and call. The fourth group is a well-known, respected horse racing and casino company. They’ve race tracks and racinos throughout our fertile landscape.They too want in.
Each of the four competitors has a great story to tell. Each would do well, if they build
the facility in the shade of this New Mexico city. They’d be far from existing gambling
competition and have access to a state without racinos. It would be like owning a gold mine………….The question is, does Clovis really want a track and slot house? Remember, Clovis, Curry County really, was a dry county and city for years. Odds makers say it’s gonna happen.
Our only suspense is……who will be holding the shovels at the ground breaking?


It seems every saloon in the olde west had three things: 1: A piano player 2: An upstairs combo hotel-brothel; 3: And finally, over in a corner sat four or five of the ugliest hunks of humanity west of the Pecos. They would be playing poker.
Sadly, most of these saloon-accoutrements are not true, romanticized via the silver screen.
The truth of the west was very few saloons had a piano.
Very few had an ‘upstairs combo-brothel.’ Many, however, offered the services of a brothel. Most all saloons had a room or two ‘in the back.’ These rooms were like over-sized cribs……meant to calm the libido of the most stressed out cowboy.
The one item of the three that was most assuredly on target was the plentiful supply of scary men.
It was like the nice people back in Boston and Philadelphia rounded up all those whose faces were like clumps of broccoli and shipped ‘em out to where the skies are not cloudy all day.
In and amongst these shipments were ladies, ladies of the night, of whom to be honest, bore little resemblance to Julia Roberts or Cindy Crawford.
Which brings us to what was the one thing all Saloons of the old West had in common: gambling…..and card games were tops, poker for sure.
Among the best practitioners of the game were John Henry “Doc” Holliday, James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok and Wyatt Earp.
One remarkable cell in each of these gentlemen’s brain was their ability to read the methods of play of each player at the table.
Each had excellent methods of play, knowing not only when to bluff during a hand, but to know when one of other players at the table was bluffing.
Among the three, Doc was the best.
Hickok’s death came as the result of his skill as a player leaving many an opponent muttering Wild Bill was a cheat.
On August 2, 1876, around four in the afternoon, Hickok was playing poker in the Number 10 Saloon, in Deadwood, South Dakota.
Into the bar came a loser by the name of Jack McCall. Seeing that Hickok was playing with his back to the door—–something Hickok never allowed—-McCall silently slid up behind Hickok and put a bullet into the back of Wild Bill’s head, killing him instantly.
When asked why he shot the legend, McCall said Hickok had cheated him out of some money during a poker hand.
The amount? A quarter.

McCall was later arrested, tried, convicted and hanged. Good.
Holliday’s strong suit was his ability to bluff—-or was he really bluffing? Doc never showed his hand after the last opponent folded.
It was no secret Holliday had ‘consumption’ known today as Tuberculosis and carried with him a death wish. This alone was reason enough to back away from raising the ire of Doctor Holliday.
Doc was not only a fine dentist, he was a remarkable marksman, with revolver, shotgun or rifle.
Earp would rather run a poker room, or saloon, then play. He would get bored after 45 minutes to an hour after settling in for an afternoon or evening of poker.
Two of the worst—-or weakest—-gamblers of the Olde West were Billy The Kid and the fellow who murdered Billy, Pat Garret.
Garret played scared, so the story goes.
Every pro gambler on the planet will tell you never play with scared money….money that is needed for food, shelter, debts that come ahead of fun in the saloon.                                                      All his life Garret chased money and it most always eluded him. From selling downtown plots of city land that became Carlsbad to writing a book about his exploits, more fiction than fact——Garret had a black cloud following him.
Even his death was a shameful scene. He was shot in the back while taking-a-leak alongside his buckboard.
Garret had been on his way to Las Cruces to settle a dispute over land he owned and leased for cattle ranching—only to discover the tenant was raising goats, a huge no-no back in the day.
As for Billy, he’d rather play Hearts with the ‘sweethearts of the saloon.’ It was fun, plus Billy would help the girls get clients and run errands for them.
And Billy would receive love and bling.
Just another day in the winning of the West.





When I was in my late teens, early twenty something, I went to Las Vegas with a friend of mine who was a bookie. He was like thirty one, thirty two.I would get him race results over the sports wire at the radio station where I was an underpaid disc-jockey. So my reward was a trip to Vegas. He was a known—-really bigger than life kinda guy—-all over Vegas, a personality in a town busting with ‘personalities.’ I tagged alone as we visited six, seven casinos. I met table games dealers, pit bosses, shift bosses, marketing managers, casino bosses. Man, this was impressive. I never saw so many diamond studded wrist watches, sapphire pinkie  rings and patent leather loafers in my life. It wasn’t until I got involved in legalizing gambling in New Mexico when it hit me: In all the time I spent in Vegas with my bookie-buddy I never met a woman, a lady, in any job, any title, nothing, zip, in the casinos of Las Vegas, Nevada. A half century later? Forget it—the ladies, the gentler persuasion, have their hands on the reins in the gaming industry. There’s not too many of the ladies at the tippy-top…..but you drift down to marketing departments and you’ll their fingerprints all over the advertising ventures, the data base operations—tracking player’s activities—plus most all casino promotions spring from these fertile minds. Adding to the damsel-domination are  chief financial officers, human resources directors. This news should not be considered a bulletin. Survey after survey has shown the average casino patron is a woman, 52 years of age. Women have proven to be better casino patrons—–they use their player’s club card over three times more than the male patron. It’s like women seeking women for adventures  in gaming. It’s working. Don’t be surprised. After all, don’t we always talk about “Lady Luck.”

The Horse Doesn’t Look So Good…….

My friend Buck Hopkins always wanted to own a race horse. One day he saw an ad in the local paper, “Race horse for sale, $500.” My God, thought Buck, a race horse for 500 bucks. I gotta go for that. He’s at the barn with the owner—a fellow lover of horses;  a naturalized citizen of many years, from Italy. In his early 70s. Buck asks the man, “500 bucks. That’s a bargain. Is the horse O.K.? Healthy and all that?” The owner says, with an Italian accent, “Sure-uh, sure-uh, he eats-uh good, but I don’t know; he don’t look-uh so good.” Buck thought to himself, “He looks good to me.” He gives the man the $500 and loads his race horse and heads home. Two days later he’s back at the man’s barn. Bucks agitated and says to the man, “Hey, you sold me a blind horse; you didn’ t tell me. The old man looks at Buck, dead serious, “I told-uh you, two, three times, he don’t Look-so-good…… kah-peesh?”


……..Or is it really a problem? Look, no one in my neighborhood wants to see someone hurt, damaged in any way. Yeah, New Mexico Secretary of State Diana Duran went over the wall in gambling. To say she had–or has–a gambling addiction us like asking me if Donald Trunp can talk. Is this a problem we should all get lathered about? Or is it just a problem for Secretary Duran? Yes and No. First thing first: Yes, she wears the addiction tag. When you start lifting money that is not yours to do with as you please—that’s like stealing, first class. Those truly addicted to gambling do steal, do lie, do deny—dead on delivery. No way out. But is it a national scandal? Is it as strong as booze addiction, eating addiction, shopping addiction,  smoking addiction, or hooked on prescription drugs—or illegal drugs? No, not by the hair on Trump’s head. When gambling addiction brings down a person of celebrity, or someone who drained a business of serious coin, like six and seven figures high—it gets headlines, and six or seven minutes on the evening news. Look, in America and Canada less than 2% of the adult population has a CHANCE in becoming a gambling junkie. In the states where both Utah and Hawaii have absolutely no gambling, the percentage is the same–less than 2%.
So, is the suspect gambler more of a threat then a chronic drunk, a drunk who could T-bone a sedan stuffed with college kids? And what about the millions of obese pods, with clogged arteries walking around, endangering themselves and their families (missed pay-days when they drop dead at half-time in front of the TV). You wanna talk about drugs? How many mommies do you think regularly pop prescription pellets…”just to get through the day..” Are these bigger concerns than the “problem” gambler? You bet. And that is no a pun.
I’m here to lay out my belief that gambling is a part of life among us humans. Gambling’s been with us more than a few millennium since the Big Bang. On an average day in the USA you’ll see a whole lot more fat drunks than gamblers.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: I am becoming increasingly worried that there is not enough anxiety in my life.


It seems I’ve slapped that headline around before. As a twice told story, almost daily,  the gaming industry, composed mostly of  casinos, is the most volatile  on the planet. “Here today, gone tomorrow,” is not a shop-worn statement, it’s the mantra of casino employed.
There are terror-topped stories of entire departments fired—canned—within 24 hours of being hired. I’m not talking about kitchen help, or house cleaning staff. These are marketing folk with glistening resumes, front line slot and table game hot-shots. Sometimes, a new general manager gets the heave-ho because of…..of, of what?
That’s the rub; some will never know the WHY. And yet, the magnet is strong: people in gaming, good people, keep plugging in—from Carolina to California, Milwaukee to Mescalero, drawm to the drama, the excitement of gambling. And the kicker here is, most of them do-not-gamble. Oh, they know the games, the feel of felt top tables, the constant hum of slots…….no matter,  they love the challenge of  bringing people to their “place” to their “joint.” Bringing them in to have fun. That’s the pop, the carrot at the end of the stick. The bottom line is, the patron wants to have fun, win or lose. What casino leaders yearn to hear from patrons is, “I didn’t win but I had fun…..”   That’s all there is, there is no more.
When they don’t hear that from patrons………’s time to up-date your resume; you can hear it one more time, “Here today gone tomorrow…..”