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Blackjack Insider Newsletter, Aug. 2004, #55


By LVBear

The Bear Growls is a frequent feature of the free newsletter, featuring casino-related topics. To subscribe, go to LVBear is a contributor to Green Chip, the internets premier location for blackjack discussion. LV Bear is also a blackjack player and casino critic that offers his opinions on things that sometimes go wrong in the world of casinos.


Sam's Town Las Vegas has become a burn joint
Blatant preferential shuffling when money hits the felt; break-in dealers who don't know the rules of the games they are dealing, the introduction of two 6 to 5 ploppy ripoff  tables. Slow, inefficient buffet. Management with a "screw the customer" attitude. I recently overheard a shift manager trying to explain Rule of 7 to a dealer. He didn't even understand it himself, and he's the shift boss!  Sam's Town used to be a well-run casino.. It has gone severely downhill.  Stay away!

The deterioration of the Palms
I used to believe that George Maloof, the owner of the Palms, had more class than most casino operators.  I was wrong.

When the Palms first opened, it was a refreshing change from some of the typical Las Vegas tourist ripoff joints.  Unfortunately, the place has gone steadily downhill, and is now in the category of  "no reason to go there anymore." 

There used to be playable double deck blackjack, but no more.  There used to be playable Superfun 21, but no more.  Even worse, several tables of blackjack have been removed, and replaced with 6 to 5 ploppy ripoff.  No class shown by Mr. Maloof or his managers by offering the sucker game.  Didn’t they make enough off the affluent young crowd that plays there, but hardly understands blackjack?  They have to rip them off with 6 to 5?

Garduno’s Restaurant used to be one of my favorites.  It used to offer good food, friendly and prompt service, but no more.  On a recent visit, it was grossly understaffed.  The manager appeared to prefer arguing with customers rather than solving the obvious problems.

Sad to see – the Palms, which was once a nice place, has deteriorated.  Goodbye, Palms.

Harrah's cheap imitation of the Horseshoe
Harrah's officials stated many times that they would be continuing the traditions of the Horseshoe.  "We wanted to do the legend of Benny Binion proud," (Harrah's division president Tom) Jenkin said.  Mr. Binion would not be proud.  Though I have been frequently critical of the former Horseshoe management for the poor penetration and constant shuffling on their single deck games, at least they were real single decks. At Harrah's cheap imitation of the Horseshoe, the single decks are no more, just a few of the 6 to 5 ripoff version.  Benny Binion would be ashamed, not proud.  Mr. Jenkin and the rest of Harrah's management should be ashamed, too.

Las Vegas needs "Southern hospitality"
I recently completed a trip through some southern U.S. gaming venues.  What struck me more than anything else was the difference in attitudes between casino personnel in the South and in Las Vegas.  In the South, almost everyone is friendly.  The pit personnel did not continually harass players for their player's cards, and the overall  air of hostility and suspicion that is so "normal" in Las Vegas was not as noticeable in the South.  Players seemed to be more at ease, too.  Though good penetration is a rarity, just like in Las Vegas, there are still a few single deck games in the South that are playable at higher stakes without excessive pit harassment.

The overall atmosphere is so much nicer.  There was no Las Vegas-type toke hustling.  Las Vegas, with the tourist numbers growing and growing, has become lazy, complacent, and greedier than ever.  Las Vegas casino employees should go to Tunica, Biloxi, Vicksburg, New Orleans, and other outposts to learn how they SHOULD be treating their patrons.

Nevada Gaming Commission blew their chance!
The Nevada Gaming Commission had the opportunity to restore some confidence in the integrity of Nevada’s system of regulation, after the petty fine given the Venetian for rigging drawings so that favored high rollers would win.

They blew it.  Despite Board Chairman Peter Bernhard stating, "This is the most serious complaint I’ve seen since I’ve been on the commission.  The issues go to the heart of the integrity of the industry," the casino puppets on the Board rubber-stamped the actions of the drones of the Gaming Control Board.

This situation is even worse since it is not the first time the Venetian has been caught in crookedness.  Right after their opening, they tried to cheat a slot player out of a jackpot.  In that instance, they were ordered to pay the jackpot by the Gaming Control Board, and eventually paid, but no penalty at all was assessed for their malfeasance.

The gaming control system in Nevada has become a bad joke.  I thought that the Commission members had even a little bit of integrity, and would have turned down the ridiculously low penalty assessed to the Venetian by the Gaming Control Board.  Unfortunately, they failed to do their duty.  They are a disgrace.

Stupidity at Green Valley Regal theater
While attending a movie at Green Valley’s Regal theater, the following was observed:

Two young women had purchased their tickets and were entering the theater, one carrying a soda purchased at the theater snack bar, the other carrying a bag of popcorn also purchased at the theater snack bar.

The woman with the popcorn also had a bag from one of the Green Valley food court outlets. She made no attempt to hide the bag. The ticket taker stopped her, and informed her that "outside food" would not be allowed in, a standard rule at most theaters. The woman’s friend went on into the theater, assuming her friend would join her shortly.

The woman explained that she believed this was not "outside food," since it was purchased at Green Valley’s food court. The ticket taker called for "a" manager (not "the" manager) to come help her explain the rule to the patron. "A" manager, wearing a suit but only about 18 years old (probably actually a low-level supervisor), appeared, and re-explained the Regal policy about outside food. The woman politely asked for an exception under the circumstances. The young "manager" said he could not make an exception, but would ask the actual manager if he would do so.

By now, I was thinking how stupid this situation was. No other theater patrons seemed to take notice of the little vignette unfolding in front of them. While the reasons for the "no outside food" rule are obvious and legitimate, common sense would dictate that an exception is made here and the woman be permitted to go on in to join her friend. "If we do it for you, we have to do it for everyone" did not apply, since no one else seemed to even notice or pay any attention to the discussion, except for my son and I, and we were not obvious about it.

The actual manager came to the scene, folded his arms, and dug in his heels. He would not let the woman enter. Another reasonable solution crossed my mind. Have her throw the food away, and comp her movie ticket. But NO! He would not do anything. The woman, who had politely and quietly argued her case so far, was finally becoming angry at his intransigence and stupidity. Eventually, she said she would like her money back, and she would go to a different theater. GOOD FOR HER! She would go in to get her friend, who would also get a refund. The manager agreed to refund their money. But, in a final act of stupid arrogance he refused to let her go in unescorted to retrieve her friend. He had the gall to tell the woman that an usher would have to accompany her to get her friend, so they would have to immediately come back. That’s what finally happened.

The two women were polite, nicely dressed, and appeared to be the typical affluent suburban customer that Green Valley attracts. They had purchased popcorn and soda from the theater. They did not try to sneak the "outside food" in, and were obviously not lowlifes trying to scam the theater.

The stupidity of the manager and his terrible handling of this situation were incredible. Instead of making friends for his company ("We’ll let you in this time, but now you know the rules for next time," or, "Throw your food away, but here’s your refund. Enjoy your movie on the house, and come back another time," etc.), he so needlessly antagonized and frustrated the young woman, that she vowed to never come back, and to tell all her friends about the idiotic treatment they received.

Though the theater is not directly operated by Green Valley Ranch Casino, the casino should be embarrassed by this idiocy. I have had my share of rudeness and boorish treatment by Green Valley casino personnel. It appears that the typical bad attitude and arrogance shown by Green Valley employees has infected the theater operation as well.



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