I don’t shoot craps at the Venetian, never have. It’s the kind of craps atmosphere that draws guys in suits and ladies in low cut evening dresses and, frankly, it’s missing that tinge of sleaze which I find comforting at a craps table. Besides, on a busy evening you can’t find more than one $10 minimum layout on the floor and I generally choose to lose my money half as fast.
Yet, when I walk through the casino on my way to the Grand Lux Café, a Cheesecake Factory restaurant inside the casino with better than average food, I often glance over at the craps tables to see what’s going on. That was the deal one Sunday morning when I noticed a lot of people hanging out around a table and only one guy throwing dice.
I was with my wife, my constant Las Vegas companion, and we knowingly nodded at each other as we sauntered over to satisfy our curiosity.
There was a young man (mid-thirties, no older) standing at the end of the table to the left of the stick man. He had a plastic rack in front of him resting on the rail with what looked like a sleeve and a half of strangely colored chips that didn’t seem to fit in the rack. We watched him methodically place one chip on the “Don’t Pass” line and roll the dice.
“Seven,” the stick man called and the dealer raked in the guy’s chip.
We watched him do that 3 or 4 times, each time losing to either a seven, an eleven, or a number that he quickly duplicated on the subsequent roll. He was hot as hell and he was losing his drawers. Since I didn’t recognize the denominations of these over sized, pale colored chips, I looked over at a guy standing next to me and merely raised my eyebrows.
“$10,000,” he whispered.
In the few minutes we had been there, this guy lost $50,000 and never thought to change his strategy. And he never did. He never bet more than 1 chip at a time and he rarely won – we saw him collect 2 or 3 times at most.
In the next 20 minutes he proceeded to calmly go through his entire rack of chips – probably in the neighborhood of $250,000 ( a pretty nice house in those days!). He never changed his strategy; never once made a “right” bet; never flinched as they hauled in his chips!
So, was he a gambling addict out here on a Sunday morning before the wife and kids woke up betting the mortgage money in an attempt to hit it big? Was he an LA drug dealer in town for the weekend trying the best way he knew how to launder his ill-gotten gains? Maybe he was a dotcom whiz kid playing with his newly minted fortune like the chips were so many pieces of plastic? We never found out; we never even inquired probably because Las Vegas is so full of unbelievably sad stories associated with gambling that we didn’t want to hear another.
Next time you go, risk a ride into town in a taxi and ask the driver a few of the questions that every tourist is dying to know. Where are you from? How long have you been here? How do you like it? Chances are he/she didn’t come to Sin City to drive a hack. Chances are their story of woe is just another cautionary tale and no better or worse than the next cabby’s, or the next waiter’s, or the next lady of the evening’s.
Gambling is fun but it’s dangerous. It’s not dangerous to everyone but it is lethal to some. Maybe our Sunday morning Venetian guy was just having some fun; maybe some day we’ll be riding in his cab!