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A Wiseguy's Odyssey
Part 2 - Vegas and meeting the pros
A few months earlier I had resigned from my job and started a one year computer network Installation and management program, hoping to eventually find more stimulating work. I have always found computers fascinating and to this day spend many hours tinkering with the software & hardware of mine as well as helping others with theirs. So it was at school Christmas break that we left for Vegas. Rob and I headed out a couple of days before Spiro because he wanted to collect from a few players before leaving. I was paying for the trip and adding Rob and Spiro's costs to their tab. Additionally, I had agreed to contribute a payment on Spiro's debt to the original group through the intermediary of the guys we were going to see - again on their tab. Do you see a pattern forming?
We arrived in Vegas quite late. One of the first things I noticed was a large area of assorted gambling machines. I knew this city was a gambling mecca, but even at the airport? We boarded the hotel shuttle, which let us off at The Aladdin. Needless to say our first sight of Vegas' main strip was quite stunning. Lights everywhere and wall to wall casinos pulsing with action around the clock. We settled into our room and returned downstairs to the casino area. After checking out the main floor and throwing a few coins into the slots we felt tired and headed back to our room.
The next day we investigated some of the more opulent places including Caesars Palace, The MGM, The Mirage and many others. In spite of all the glitz and gambling fervor around us, I was quite focused on the business at hand. We got into contact with Barry, one of the two we had come to meet. We agreed to get together at The Aladdin's front entrance. He told me to look for a white Mercedes. I went down at the prescribed time and spotted the car. Inside was a friendly guy in sweats, a notable contrast to me in dress pants and jacket.
Barry reminds me of Hollywood's Shadow Stevens. He has a gift for the gab and is extremely charismatic. I got into the impressive vehicle and took in the smell of leather and noticed his miniature cell phone. The radio was tuned to some game and he asked if I knew the scores of some other matches. As well he took a few short calls, mostly regarding wagers. On the way to a trendy lunch spot, I passed him an envelope containing $10,000 for Spiro's account. Before arriving, he stopped briefly to pick something up and I remarked at the cavalier way he entrusted me in the idling Mercedes with a wad of cash sitting on the space between the front seats. During our lunch, I tried to impress him with my honesty and I could tell he was sizing up the prospect of our doing business together. He dropped me back at my hotel with a supper meeting scheduled as soon as Spiro was in town.
The day after Spiro arrived we set out to meet Barry and his partner Wes at an Italian restaurant. We arrived, located their table and introduced those who had not already met. Wes was older, already a little tipsy and quite brusque. As we ate he quickly got down to brass tacks. He wanted to know about our pasts and what assets we had to back up our commitments. As we ate and drank Wes became increasingly boisterous even as Barry often tried to calm his rantings. He basically told us in no uncertain terms that we didn't have a pot to piss in. The feisty old guy decided to flip a coin to decide who would take the bill for the expensive meal. We lost but he paid anyway, saying he was only kidding.
The situation escalated to the point that one of the waiters, tired of Wes' disparaging remarks, reminded him that he had not paid for his final beer served after the bill was settled. Wes retorted "take it from the tip"! We hadn't realized that the place had closed and the front door was locked. Believe it or not Wes smashed face first into the glass. Luckily it didn't break but even in his state it hurt and his nose was bleeding. He immediately launched into a tirade of "my nose is broken", "I want to speak to the owner", "I am going to sue"! Barry made a quick escape, embarrassed and having had enough. We managed to get out of the place before someone decked the obnoxious Wes.
As pissed as Wes was we ended up going to watch him play blackjack. Apparently he could count cards and was continually getting barred from one casino or another. He would eventually wade back in and take them for a ride once again. We took a taxi to one of his favorite casinos and watched him settle in at one of the tables. Barry said that Wes could function even half skunked, but that wasn't the case that evening. He played some impressive hands, but mostly was loud and irritating.
At one point he was grandstanding after splitting a hand twice and winning quite a lot. A crowd had gathered including one attractive girl. He put his arm around her and declared she was his lucky charm. She seemed a little embarrassed, but generally ok with that. But before long he pushed his luck by reaching for the bottom of her skirt, as if to pull it up. Realizing what she was dealing with, she quickly disassociated herself. We left after he dropped $10,000 but heard from Barry the next day that he had dumped another $10,000 after we left. Funny thing was all the time we were with him he kept lecturing about his strategies and the importance of "good penetration".
The only deal we were able to secure was to move for Wes and Barry with no commission and no bankroll. The only "benefit" we would enjoy was the sharp plays. The reason we couldn't get better was twofold. Firstly Barry and Wes were relatively small time and secondly, we had a degenerate gambler with a bad track record on our team as well as little cash resources. In fact all we had to offer were our "outs". Even so we left Vegas with high hopes, being the dreamers that we were.