Las Vegas is a pretty surreal experience; you can pretend you are in New York, Paris, Monte Carlo or even the Sahara, assuming the desert has a roller coaster as well. (Note, the Sahara closed down a few years ago.) However, we prefer to stay downtown because we like the cheaper gambling, plus it's much easier to find blackjack games with more liberal rules. Hence, downtown Vegas has been traditionally associated with old people who come for the cheap rooms and cheap gambling. Oh wait, that's us.
In the past five or six years, downtown has made a serious effort to attract a younger crowd and families that would normally stay on the strip. The Golden Nugget opened up an awesome new pool (as well as a new tower) and not much later the Plaza underwent renovations, which included Oscar Goodman's (ex-mayor) new restaurant called “Oscar's Beef, Booze and Broads.” Supposedly, it's a classy old-time steakhouse with the added bonus of “broads,” women who will sit at your table and have conversations with you about sports, Vegas, politics and/or wine. I suppose this gives patrons the excitement of "escorts" without the legal hassles or sex.
This year, to up the ante even higher, we discovered two casinos (Golden Gate and The Las Vegas Club) that offer live go-go dancing between the tables. Even more amazing, the scantily-clad young go-go dancers are also the dealers! (seriously) Yes, you have to deal twenty minutes of blackjack then get on the table and shake it! Coyote Ugly may have hot female bartenders who dance on the bar at intervals, but they won't pay you 3 to 2 odds on blackjack. The whole dealer-dancer experience sure makes busting more fun.
I've never been to blackjack dealer school, but I suspect that the curriculum has changed, at least for the women. I'm guessing morning classes consist of basic dealing while the afternoon classes are held in small cages on a stage at the Classy Foxes Go-Go Club. I've also been trying to imagine the hiring interview for recent female graduates of blackjack dealer school:
“How many hands can you deal in a fifteen-minute block of time? And can you try on this outfit? I need to see if you can make the fringe swing back and forth effectively enough to distract players. And just so you know, the tips aren't as good as strippers make, but you get to keep your clothes on. And it's more money than Hooters waitresses make and you don't smell like a grease fryer at the end of the night. Although you might smell like a cigarette butt. Do you smoke?”
“Great, you'll love it here! Now get on that platform and shake those moneymakers while I deal the cards, and you stop me when I bust or if I should double down.”
St. Pauli Girl and I played at the Golden Gate one night, not for the girls but because they had a six-deck, hand-shuffled shoe. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.) We had a good time playing, and St. Pauli Girl and I enjoyed people-watching while making side bets on the cup size of our next dealer. There was a dealer a few tables down sporting the librarian look. Well, that's assuming your local librarian wears long leather boots, fishnet stockings, hip-hugger shorts, and a fringed bikini top that's two sizes too small. Okay, so she was more like a stripper with glasses than a dancing-and-dealing librarian.
After a while, St. Pauli Girl decided to call it a night but I wanted to play a little longer since I was on a roll. Players came and went. One guy sat next to me and started playing two hands at a time. At one point, the dealer didn't see him wave his hands to stand on his deal, and she asked for clarification. In a thick, deep New Jersey accent, he said, “Hey, I waved my hand! Are you f---'in blind?”
“Well, I didn't see it, and I have to make sure they see it upstairs.”
“Grow up, honey. The game moves fast. This is an adult's game. If you can't keep up, maybe you need to get out.”
Her eyes narrowed and shot daggers at him and she very adeptly and very quickly dealt the next hand. To add insult to injury, the guy didn't know what he was doing. He stood on 15 against a dealer 10 and didn't take advantage of any double down opportunities when he should have. He finally left in a huff after five or six more hands. After he departed, I said to the dealer, “I would like to apologize on behalf of all of humanity for jerks like that.”
She smiled and we had a good laugh about it.
“You know, this may be hard to believe,” I said, glancing around the casino then pointing at the empty chair, “but I think that jackass was the biggest boob in here.”
Ha! I kill me!