money music death

I was in Biloxi with a small crew, 3 of us total. There was another 2-man team of holecarders in town and we were vying for the same dealer. As players oftentimes do, we made a deal for the game rather than compete for the lucky seat. The deal was this: I would read the game and one of them would bet the game. We’d chop the result 50/50, their crew, my crew. We played and won. We chopped the money and went our separate ways.

There’s a lot I can say about making deals like this. You need to know what heat if any everyone has, past experiences with the dealer and the casino, related properties, the entire city. It’s situational but all of these factors and more can matter. It’s best to all trust each other not to skim the pot. It’s easy to count down the rack when playing a game but feeling like you “have” to count it down isn’t fun. I don’t work with people if I’m worried about them stealing. I’ve known other players who will work with people who might skim because the edge of the spot is big enough they can afford the risk.

To each his own.

Cut to a couple months later and word on the street is I’ve been laughed at, mocked. Something along the lines of “I always want to make deals with miss brown (me), she made an awful one in Biloxi.”

Ok.

No.

Their perspective was this: 2 of them, 3 of us, a fair deal would be to chop the result evenly 5 ways. They thought they hustled me by getting 50% or 25% each.

No, uh uh. That’s not how this works. The bettor was representing his crew and I was representing mine. It just so happened our crew was bigger that night.

I’ve worked solo often, a free agent if you will. If there’s a game on and I’m going to make a deal to read it for another crew, then in general I’m taking 50% (there are always exceptions). If their crew is 3 people and I’m 1, I’m getting half not a quarter.

Their crew, my crew.

For me to have done the chop in the way they thought would be fair I’d be setting a precedent that would kill me in the long run.

girl money.jpg

Now, a completely different scenario.

I was playing guitar in a band that would open up for R&B acts at the House of Blues. Al Green, Musiq Soulchild, Floetry. The gig paid me $100.

The singer I was backing would receive a check for the show and pay the band out on Monday; our shows were always on a weekend night.

We played on a Friday and on the following Sunday her husband died.

It was unexpected, really sad.

Monday came and I didn’t get paid. I wasn’t drowning in money and the $100 meant something to me but the girl’s husband just died! I wasn’t going to ask for it.

The funeral was a few days later. I attended. Somber service.

Again, I didn’t ask for my money.

We didn’t have any shows lined up but I kept in contact with the singer and still saw her on occasion.

I never ended up playing guitar for her again and I never got paid.

Every time someone mentions her I think about how that’s a chop I got screwed in.

This man doesn’t do his own soundcheck, he has another guy do it. He just comes out and lights the stage on fire. Legend.

lord

Some days when I’m out and about in the world working, or whatever, I don’t speak to anyone except for myself.  I have a strong internal dialogue that’s always on. Sometimes I have to turn off the car radio so I can pay attention to it.  I don’t always speak out loud whatever it is that my brain is playing out but when I do I feel safe in assuming that if other drivers catch a glimpse of me they will think I’m either practicing lines for a dramatic commercial audition I have later in the day or I’m having an intense debate with my lover over what place settings will match the highlights in my hair at our wedding reception.

Mix together my lack of human interaction with my love of thinking I know how to speak Spanish and this last month has been magical.

First, as I was getting up from a machine an abuela who had been sweating me came closer to take a look. I motioned for her to take my seat and this little lady started throwing Spanish at me! I cannot adequately describe to you, dear reader, how much I love when people are forced to let me practice my Spanish because they need something and I’m the only viable option around. 

So she goes, “¿Hablas Español?” (This is how it always starts.) And I say “poquito’ but acting real chill like I don’t even care if we don’t talk I can go home and play with Rosetta Stone.  Then as she motioned towards the machine she said, get this, “No entiendo.”

She didn’t know how to play the machine!  Could this spot have been any better for me? 

We are in a casino in Vegas, of course someone will eventually walk by who speaks better Spanish than me but nobody will walk by who speaks better Spanish and knows how this slot machine works! Game on!

I got to explain the bet sizes, what buttons to push and what symbols were the luckiest all while practicing my better than high school level but not as good as if I studied abroad level Spanish. She wanted to know how to get in the bonus round and I kept telling her we don’t know when it will happen!  It’s a surprise!  It’s so fun!

“No sabemos cuando! Es una sorpresa! Es muy divertido!”

And

“Vanna tiene dientes bonitos.”

After this I’m walking around for a few weeks feeling pretty good about myself, kind of like a big shot.  Then the Spanish gods threw me a test.

I’m in a casino on graveyard, not doing anything but looking like my usual maybe I could be Mexican but also maybe I could be Persian self, and a rattled, young slot tech calls me over and asks if I can speak Spanish. Of course I can speak Spanish! Where’s the fire!?

“¿Donde esta el fuego?”

I follow her a couple aisles down and I’m presented with a very confused and visibly bothered Latin American cowboy, hat and all, who appears to have a serious problem. There are beads of sweat on his face. I don’t think he wants to know about bonus rounds.

So I say, “Hola. ¿Que pasó?” and then he hit me with a chaotic, “teléfono, blue tooth, mi dinero,
máquina, chinga.”

There were a lot of other words but I immediately cracked under the pressure and couldn’t make sense of any of them.  I fumbled through asking him some questions. He didn’t lose his money playing a slot machine.  Nobody took his money. He did not need a charger. That’s all I could gather.  I didn’t know how to help this vaquero.

The slot tech continued to try and flag down someone who actually spoke Spanish, not the pretend taco bell level one stuff I was throwing out.

She found a woman with terrible, terrible lip injections which shouldn’t really matter but it’s all I could think about at the time.

I speak Spanish better than her doctor does injections. 

Anyway, she said she could speak a little Spanish.  I already knew this was going to be a bust but ok go for it.  The man throws the “teléfono, blue tooth, mi dinero, máquina, chinga” at her and without missing a beat she says “Oh yeah he just needs a phone charger.”

I was dying.

Dead.

Next the tech flags down a young girl who could actually speak Spanish; a legit native speaker.  Her face was normal so it was a little less interesting to watch but at this point I was eager enough to find out what the cowboy’s problem was it didn’t matter.

The ranchero is super frustrated now by the way, he cannot believe our idiocy.

He throws the same speech to this girl, “teléfono, blue tooth, mi dinero, máquina, chinga.” and she looks a little confused.  She starts asking him questions and by now I’ve gotten my Spanish vocabulary memory back and can understand the conversation.  She’s asking him which machine he’s talking about.  Where is his money? How much money? Does he need a bank? 

Alright.

You guys.

The big reveal is this: The cowboy plugged his phone into a machine to charge.  His blue tooth was on.  The machine took all of his money off of his phone.

Are we all clear?

This vato claimed he plugged his phone into a slot machine and his money was wiped.  What money? Nobody knows. What does his blue tooth being on have to do with it? Dunno. Was the money in a bank? A crypto wallet? CashApp? Guys, we don’t know!

It wasn’t my poor Spanish that was the problem it was that this guy was loco.  I suggested to the tech she find a jefe and I took off, my work there was done.

dire straights

There’s a pastry I like getting in a certain coffee shop in a certain casino and I use whatever player card of mine that has comps to get it. While signing the comp ticket today the cashier, obviously in her first year studying criminal justice at the local community college said, “I’m sure it’s not even you.” Seriously? How long has she been waiting for the opportunity to call me out?  Was this her big moment? Now what did she expect to happen? I run away?

Some floormen have this same mentality when you’re winning in their section and they feel like you’re taking “their” money when you clean out the rack. She’s upset I’m taking “her” pastry.

I know for a fact that some floor people get bonuses when their tables show a profit. But snarky cashiers for sure don’t get anything for calling out customers who are gaming the system to get comped pastries that the casino will cover regardless of what name they use.

I always tip this place too.  One of the other cashiers, a super nice, plump and jolly young man once told me he signed on to work an extra hour so he could pocket another $8.25.

So what was my reaction when she so cleverly unmasked my high level ruse?

“Um yeah actually it is me,” I said with a confused grimace.  It’s not my first rodeo, little miss mall cop.

And then I still tipped a dollar because the plump, jolly guy was also working and I’m a fish.

There is no version of this song that I dislike.  Enjoy.

like snow, like gold

My toddler son always wants to play with older kids at the playground. They will be involved in a game of tag or hide n seek and my baby will chase them around, thinking that he’s part of the game and they are all friends. Most of the time the older kids are annoyed with him, especially when he tags someone, and they don’t hide their feelings. Meanwhile my son is completely oblivious to it. He has no idea they want nothing to do with him. I get really upset and I try to direct his attention to something else so he won’t figure it out and get a taste of how a lot of people in this world really are. My son is as pure and innocent as Elliott Smith was when he performed at the Oscars and I want to keep him that way forever.

yo dos

Sup?

When I was 18 years old I was playing guitar with bands in Vegas bars. When I hit 21, I graduated to casino lounges.  High-end joints like Excal, Stardust and the old Oasis in Mesquite. 

A life to envy.

We also had a weekend gig at Gordon Biersch.  I’d get off work dealing at the Monte Carlo at 7:30pm (yes when I was 21 I was a dealer, obviously I just said that) and I’d rush over to GB for an 8 pm start: 3 sets, done at 12. I had a Mesa Boogie tube amp that was super heavy and no joke, every night after we played I would be lugging this thing to my car while drunk guys hit me up and not once did any of them offer to help.

Which leads me to my next story.

While working at MC I was sexually harassed constantly.  The pencil (scheduler) would tell me I looked good in different demeaning ways every day. I mean that doesn’t sound awful, right?  I’m a wimp?  But every day, every single day dealing with his comments was really frustrating. 

The real harassment came from the top though.  The Ensign family were heavily involved in MGM at one point (family of disgraced cheating husband Senator John Ensign).  John’s younger bro David Ensign ran The Hacienda Casino in Boulder City where I broke in as a dealer a few months before I got the job at MC.  David, who told me he watched me deal from a camera in his office, would come into the pit at MC, where he didn’t even work, get really close to me and tell me I was hot, etc.  Like wtf man, c’mon really?  So one day I go to HR with a complaint about David.  The woman in charge told me, “That’s not sexual harassment.” 

Cool.  #MeToo

My stint at MC didn’t last long after that.

Side note: I was put on the Big 6 a couple days a week, which doesn’t constitute as sexual harassment but it sucked nonetheless.  The pencil claimed the drop was bigger when I was on it so there I stood, spinning that huge wheel, with dread in my soul, wishing I hadn’t dropped out of college, was born rich, or could suck it up, take off my big girl pants and be a dancer.  I would have happily dug ditches those days instead 100%, no question.

You guys, where am I going with all this?

Dunno.

Man, I hate long posts.

I guess I can wrap this baby up by saying in my illustrious AP career I haven’t been harassed, sexually or otherwise, by other APs simply for being female (okay maybe one time by APs, poker players and floor people def a different story).  Yes, some of my opportunities have been different from my male counterparts, like not being able to fire big money (though I’ve had my moments) but it’s much easier for me to feign innocence.  Who actually thinks the young girl at 3rd betting ten bucks, can’t add up her hand and doesn’t know basic strategy is running the table?  Not a lot of people.

K, post too long.  Here’s a song. Es bueno.