Friday, March 30, 2007

Trump Plaza Dealers Go Union

My friend Katie blew into town last Tuesday. She is a chemistry teacher at Sacramento State and she was enjoying a portion of her spring break in Las Vegas. On Wendesday we decided to have lunch at the Top of the World restaurant in the Stratosphere tower. I had eaten dinner there maybe 8-9 years ago. The view was just as I remembered it except that this time it was daylight.
We both sprung for the Kobe burger.....well done. I like my steak medium at most but when I eat a burger it has to be cooked.
I asked the waitress if the Kobe was domestic. I know that real Kobe is imported from Japan but I also have heard that a lot of places serve domestic "Kobe Style" beef. She assured us that it was indeed real, imported Kobe. The burger was delivered to the table charred on the outside and RED RED RED on the inside.
We both at it anyway. lol
It did have a distinctive taste but I'm not sure if the taste was due to the charred exterior or due to the type of beef. I don't think I'll be ordering any more $16 Kobe burgers any time soon.

Despite that it was a nice way to spend an hour or two as we rotated high above the Las Vegas Valley.


The qualifying rules for the River King $1,000,000 free roll have been modified. Starting last Monday you can earn double hours by playing on Monday or Tuesday. I assume that this promotion within a promotion will last until the qualifying period ends.

On Tuesday I decided that I wanted a beer when I finished work. Most of the waitresses would have just brought me a beer but you are really supposed to be actively playing in order to order drinks. Whatever. I sat in a $2-4 limit game and anxiously awaited the opportunity to order a Sunset Wheat. I'm not sure why I mostly drink the bland ol' Miller Lite. Occasionally I like a "real" beer. The Palms had recently stopped serving both Sierra Nevada and Blue Moon beer. Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat is the replacement. I'm told that the Maloof's recently acquired a large stake in the Miller distributorship here in Las Vegas and since Leinenkugel's is a wholly owned subsidiary of Miller Brewing that explains the introduction of Sunset Wheat.
In any case I really like it. And I really wanted one. Just one.
Honestly, it took me about 70 minutes to get the damned thing.
During the wait I managed to suck out and flop some monsters a few times. One of the suck out winners came in the form of a diamond flush(which gave me an entry and a chance to win $100). After that suck out the loosing player made the comment that he plays there all the time and tips me. I guess a dealer isn't supposed to ever win a hand.
So what? I had to bite my tongue. About an hour earlier I had spent a down on that very table. I had in fact pushed three pots to said player. Said player neglected to toss me a bone all three times.
When the beer finally came I quickly drained it and cashed out a small winner.
The diamond entry was a winner and I picked up the cash on Wednesday.

The dealers at Trump Plaza have joined their neighbors at Caesars Atlantic City by voting for UAW representation. The dealers at Trump Marina have filed a petition asking for their opportunity to vote also. The dominos are falling in Atlantic City. Will the Las Vegas dealers follow suit?

Here is an opinion written by a lady who goes by the name HarrahsHell on the dealers lounge forum. (sorry about the formatting....I copied and pasted and I'm too lazy to fix it right now)

So just as an example, I'm going to explain the two Nevada casino jobs I
had where one was union and one was not and the differences in the two IDENTICAL
positions I had with each.When I sold my bar in Florida and moved to Nevada in
1996 I first moved to Reno (WHAT was I THINKING?!) Reno was NON-UNION!I worked 2
jobs in cocktails. Each paid $5.15 an hour. You NEVER got a raise. There were
bartenders who had been there for 20 years and they were STILL making minimum
wage.From 9-5, daily I worked at the Atlantis Casino serving drinks.My paystub
would show my 40 hours at minimum wage and on each bi-weekly check there was a
deduction of $50+ for health insurance. This was health insurance I never once
used because it was CRAP and the deductable was $5,000 or something. Basically I
had it just in case I ever got hit by a mack truck. It didn't include vision or
dental either. I think the most I ever received on my paychecks there was maybe
$250.We didn't recieve holiday pay. We weren't allowed over-time.And if for some
reason your pay was "accidently" short one period, good luck in ever seeing that
money again.Vacation requests weren't confirmed until about 2 days beforehand so
you couldn't really buy airfare, etc. The boss would always say something like,
"We're kind of short-handed right now so we'll just have to wait and see." Are
you KIDDING ME????Furthermore, the casino owner was so cheap he fired all the
porters and insisted that the cocktail servers carry a nasty-ass rag on their
tray at all times to clean their areas (slot machines) and worst of all, we had
to keep the glass ashtrays beside each machine spotless at all times. That meant
that every time we'd take a round of drink orders we'd come back with about 10
ashtrays on our tray along with empty glassware. As we called our order to the
bartender we would have to wash each ashtray BY HAND using nothing but water and
paper towels. THEN!!!!!!! We had to garnish the drinks we had just served! I
guess the health department was paid to look the other way.I want you to
understand how serious this is because a union, ANY union, would never stand for
any of this.As we would deliver the drinks we'd be picking up more filthy
ashtrays so YOUR Corona might actually be touching filthy ashtrays before I
handed it to you.If there were coin wrappers on the ground (pre-TITO) we had to
set our tray down, bend to our knees and pick up the trash on the floor and then
continue serving drinks.Our uniforms were the exact same as the ones they wear
at Orleans and we were required to wear 2 inch heels. On more than one occasion
a girl's tips were stolen or a drink taken off the tray as she was crawling on
the floor, looking like a slut, picking up trash. What if someone had flung some
date-rape drugs into the drinks when the server was occupied with trash instead
of attending to her customers?My night-time job at the Reno Flamingo was much
nicer because of management but it was STILL non-union so you STILL only got
paid $5.15/hour and you STILL had to wear 2 inch heeled shoes.Four years ago I
moved here and my job at Flamingo LV was union. My starting pay for cocktails
was $10.69 hour so my pay doubled just by moving here.You must average (I THINK,
not sure) 38 hours a week for the first 3 months to begin insurance coverage.
Once you have qualified for insurance you only have to average 28 hours a week
my paycheck stubs HERE would look like this:40 hours x 10.69/hour, and on every
OTHER check (once a month) my union dues of $34 would be deducted.The union told
the casinos to shove 2 inch heels up their ass and that we could wear just about
any kind we wanted as long as they were black.The first time I carried ash trays
on my tray here and started to wash them (out of habit, I guess) the girls all
looked at me like I was insane. The first time I bent down to pick up trash,
ditto.So basically with the union I was making more than DOUBLE what I made
non-union PLUS I had an extra $100/month that wasn't being stolen from me for
"health insurance" because I had FREE HEALTH INSURANCE with the union. I got all
of that for $34 a month in union dues.Now do YOU think it's worth
it?????Honestly! Think about this. Isn't it worth $34-$40 a month (that's ONE
dollar a day, people!) to have free health insurance with NO deductables, have
your wages shoot UP from $6.15/hr to God-knows-what, know that if you go to work
and Wynn is in one of his pissy moods and screams, "YOU'RE FIRED!", all you have
to say is, "We'll see about that."Then you contact one of the union employee
reps (there are usually 2 or 3 on duty at any given time of day or night) and
RIGHT THEN the matter is settled.If Wynn STILL acts like an ass the union rep
picks up the phone and NOW some higher-up from the local union office comes
flying into WLV like a bat out of hell to protect you.If worse comes to worse
you might still be sent home for the remainder of your shift but you can bet by
the next day Wynn has been hammered to death by the union and their lawyers and
unless you've killed some one or stolen money you've still got your job,
including the pay you were forced to give up when you clocked out the night
before.The union is NOT going to stand for tokes being counted without SOMEONE
from your department witnessing the amount. And it is CERTAINLY not going to
stand for the hostile work environment that you all are working in right now.I
have seen MANAGERS fired if something inappropriate was said to a union
employee. The employee still held his job afterwards.Tonight is Saturday. The
way it's currently set up in the count room each of you could EASILY be shorted
$40 tonight ALONE on your tokes. That's your month's "dues" right there!You've
probably already paid a year's worth of dues since this whole thing began- you
just have no way of knowing.I'd pay the $40 a month just for the piece of mind
in being able to walk into work knowing you won't be harrassed by any
managers!And no, I'm not working for nor have ANY intention of ever working for
a union.I just think you should realize how different your lives would be than
they are right now.Now there IS one con but thank God the union has procedures
in place if this should happen to you.Union "shop stewards" are basically Wynn
employees who have agreed to represent the union while they are at work.There is
usually one from each department on each shift.If Wynn or his management blows
up and hauls you into the office the "shop steward" is the person who has taken
courses and been given direction by the union on how to handle circumstances and
will be the one called off the floor to accompany you to the office so you'll
have a witness to back you.Like any people, some of these shop stewards can be
idiots and not know how to handle the situation.BUT!!!!!! If that happens then
all you do is go ahead and clock out and go to the union's main office the next
day and file a grievance and then THEY handle it. You still won't have lost your
job, it just might take a day longer to get it back.The situation at Wynn CAN
get worse! He can get even crazier than he is now and act like that nut I worked
for in Reno. For God's sake, get a UNION in there so you don't have to go
through the kind of crap I went through.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Sam Angel, Dead at 86

Linda writes of Sam's passing.

Back in January I wrote about it also.

The article from the Las Vegas Sun.

And on a completely unrelated note, as of 6:00AM today the rake in limit games at the Palms has increased to max. $4.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Winds of Change

Is it the flapping of butterfly wings?
Is it the fury of a hurricane?

Could the former in Atlantic City cause the latter in Las Vegas?

Either way it does appear that there have been not so sublte atmospheric changes in the world of casino dealers.

From the East Coast comes word that the dealers at Caesars Atlantic City have overwhelmingly voted for Union representation. With a vote of 572-128 the dealers have sent the message to Harrah's (or whomever it is that owns the gigantic company now) that they aren't going to take it lying down anymore. Of course Harrah's plans to file an objection to the vote.
The next scheduled vote is at Trump Plaza on March 31st. Will the dealers there follow suit? It's highly likely.

It remains to be seen if Las Vegas dealers, a continent away, will finally demand at least a little respect by being able to keep what has been given to them (their own tips) or in a best case scenario a larger piece of the multi-billion dollar pie. The casinos post record profits year after year but the front line dealers get a raise only because the law requires it via a minimum wage increase.

If this sea change does move the Las Vegas dealers to organize it will be because of actions such as the Wynn power play.

The tangled web gets more tangled at every turn. While the Labor Commissioner is presumably tasked with protecting the LABORER, ours may or may NOT be up to that task.

At least one politician in Nevada has the (balls) backbone to stand up to the (tyrant) casino mogul.

It's reported that Assemblyman Bob Beers stated:

Mr. Beers has submitted draft request 1166 which attempts to clarify a law that should already be crystal clear.

EVERY dealer in town needs to support this draft by contacting the appropriate politicians.

This isn't simply about Wynn dealers. It's about all of us. The sooner every dealer in town realizes this the better.

*****It amazes me how my views on labor and organization have changed in three+ short years. After a lifetime of anti-union beliefs (and the bulk of my working life as "management")followed by a few years working "in the trenches" I'm certainly more receptive to the possibility that Unions have a place in the 21st century.*****

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Pearl @ The Palms

On Monday night I got my first look at the new concert venue at the Palms. It was employee play day which was basically a test run or soft opening. The 2,500 seat venue is simply named Pearl. I'm no expert on concert venues but I think this one is pretty damn nice. I tried to walk around to different areas of the arena and it looks like there isn't a bad seat in the house. There are multiple levels most of which are below casino level.

I guess I'm not the target demographic because the concert line-up that has been announced includes a name or two that I have never even heard of. Carlos Mencia? Alejandra Sanz? Maybe I'm just too old...or un-hip. Whatever.
I've learned that one of the reasons that the biggest names in the business are falling over themselves to play the Pearl at the Palms is because the rockers can literally use the new Palms recording studio in the same building, and simply go right from their luxurious fantasy suites directly to the stage of the Pearl. "It's the most user-friendly setup for music superstars, they love it. It's the ultimate luxurious setup for rock stars- and beats anyplace else in America in terms of state of the art facilities. Acoustics are 100% perfect and there's total privacy and security every step of the way,"
No matter who plays there it will drive casino traffic. Do Carlos Mencia fans play poker? Are they good tippers? Time will tell.

Stardust Fireworks/Implosion

Click Here: Boom

Saturday, March 10, 2007

When in Doubt, Whip it (them) Out

There really hasn't been much to write about lately.

One day blends into the next. Deal the cards, deal the cards, deal the cards.

Oh well, that's what I do.

Today on table 2 there was a grumpy old man in seat 7. Within two hands of my down his cards were coming in fast and landing in the box. As I wasn't in the argumentative mood I simply ignored it. The next hand the cards again came in fast and he said something like "Murph your dealing really sucks", or something to that effect. Of course he was talking about the cards he was getting not my mechanics. I honestly don't remember exactly what he said. My reply was a jovial "Yeah, I've been told that before".

He just grunted and I kept on keeping on.

A few hands later Mr. Happy actually won a pot. As I was gathering up the cards and moving on to the next hand he throws me $1 and says "That one's for the pot". He then threw me $2 and said "those are because you said the right thing when I was complaining before". He continued with something about that "comment" would have had the last dealer red-faced and in a huff. Really? Perhaps.

That day the nits had no power over me. That's the way it should be. Let them stew in the slop that is their discontent. I'll stay out of that quagmire, thank you very much.

The past few days have found me golfing and swimming in 70-80 degree temperatures. Back East in Maryland it's cold and they had about a foot of snow a few days ago. My mother and nephew took advantage of the white stuff and built a snowman. I wonder how many years it's been since I built a frosty. many many years for sure.

By all accounts my little buddy is doing great in kindergarten . Here is his interim progress report.

I'll be planning a trip home in July to celebrate his 6th birthday.


Linda has posted several updates on the progress of MGMMirage City Center. You can check out her pictures here.

The scale of the project is impressive as is the price tag. The announced budget for City Center is $7 Billion.

The first residential units to be offered for sale are in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and the sales figures are staggering.

The Las Vegas Advisor Question of the Day addressed City Center and reported:

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the most expensive of the hotel-condos, will have a 400-room tower and 227 condos; units start at $1.5 million for a 600-square-foot studio and top out at $12 million for a 4,100-square-foot penthouse; the Residences at the Harmon will have roughly the same number of units. The Vdara will be a 1,543-unit condo-hotel, while the Veer Towers are a pair of 37-story condominiums with more than 2,000 condos and no hotel rooms. MGM Mirage is now selling the units at the Mandarin and Vdara. The Mandarin went on sale first; MGM

Mirage has announced the first-month sales results for Mandarin.
* 200 units sold out of 227 (90%)
* $613,000,000 in sales from Mandarin residences
* $1,584 average-square-foot price

An incident happened on a $2-5 blind NL game the other day. The 1s went all in for about $440 into $400ish pot. The 5s called. I ran the cards out. The 1s tabled his hand and I started to push up the board cards to indicate his hand. In the mean time the 5s tabled his hand. The 1s had the best hand. For unknown reasons the 1s reached out and turned his cards face down and pushed them a few inches toward me before I killed the 5s hand. The 1s misread his hand and thought he lost. In a split second the 1s grabbed his cards back and turned them face up again. The 5s had a fit and started yelling that the 1s mucked his hand. I started to tell him that once the cards were tabled I was obligated to read the hands and push the pot to the winning hand. It didn't make any difference what happened to the cards AFTER they were tabled and read my me(and the camera for posterity).
He was having none of it so I called the floor. Of course the floor told him the same thing I did. He was pissed but really didn't have an argument. The cards had been tabled and as they say "Cards Speak".

The 5s lost another $500 or so on the next hand and then racked up and left in a huff.

When in doubt, table your hand!


I've needed something for my walls since moving in here. I couldn't find anything that I liked. Fate to the rescue.

Gary and Marie recently acquired a second condo unit at Casablanca just East of center strip. (I'd put their view of the strip up against any other mid-rise view in town.....what a view) It was fully furnished but not to their liking so they are in the process of cleaning out/gutting it and starting over. Consequently they have been making a lot of trips to Goodwill. Their need to get rid of stuff converged with my need for wall art.

Goodwill's loss was my gain. Thanks Gary and Marie!


Monday, March 05, 2007

Remembering the Stardust

In a week it will all be gone.

To follow the progress of the demolition click here. There are some GREAT pictures and videos.

This picture is "borrowed" from the site that is linked above.

For some reason I find it both ironic and poignant. In a city that discards the past like yesterday's newspaper maybe there is a message here for all of us. A final "flipping of the bird" from a grand ol' lady who will soon slip (not so) quietly into the night.

As we head into the future with a reckless abandon take a minute to look back and remember what once was.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

It just keeps getting better and better

By now I would hope that everyone in the gaming industry knows about the toke "sharing" policy at Wynn Las Vegas. That situation is ongoing with law suits and union organization drives. How it plays out is still in question.

Part of the new policy was that actual dealers (toke committee members made up of elected dealers) would no longer count "their" money. In and of itself this is VERY shady. The story goes that the dealers could request to view the counting process via video tape. Why? It certainly doesn't instill confidence that all is kosher at Wynn LV.

Recently the bacarrat crew had a pretty good day. It's reported that the crew dropped $90,000 in yellow chips as tokes. When the tally sheets were made public there was no notation of the $1,000 chips. HUH? It gets better! Now it's reported that the tally sheet from that day has gone among the missing.

This, coupled with the recent "house cleaning", successfully fans the flames of unrest at Wynn. By housecleaning I mean wholesale terminations.

How much more uncertainty must the Wynn dealers suffer?


If the postal carrier was really concerned about MY convenience he would have delivered the package to MY door instead of leaving it with the HOA office.
I get my mail at a centralized mailroom within my condo complex. I live about 100 yards from said mailroom. Me thinks it was the carrier's convenience (and laziness) that was taken into consideration, not mine.
From 9:00 AM January 1 when our freeroll qualifying began until the end of February there were 1,407 hours. One of our players amassed over 500 hours played during that time period. I know he keeps detailed records. I'd very much like to see his win/loss for those 500 hours. At least he earned $500 comp dollars.

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