The first London (semi-private) club devoted mostly to gambling, White’s, opened in 1697. These clubs were an outgrowth of earlier coffee and chocolate houses, where like-minded Londoners gathered to get refreshed, gossip, and do business. It was only a matter of time before some of them agreed that cards and dice were the best business going and formed their own club.
For the first 20 or so years, Las Vegas Strip casino restaurants were strictly loss leaders, with the fare passable but nothing to write home about.
Chester Simms, general manager of the Flamingo, changed that when he opened the Candlelight Room, the Strip’s first real gourmet restaurants, in 1961. Today we’re used to casinos sourcing seafood from all over the world, but flying in fresh Maine lobsters daily was innovative fifty years ago.
Some people might consider the massive New Year’s Eve celebration—“America’s Party”—the ultimate night for Las Vegas casinos. True, that bash attracts more than 300,000 people each year. But ask the people charged with making money for casinos, and they’ll tell you that the holiday they really look forward to is Chinese New Year.
It is now arguably the second most important holiday in Las Vegas, right behind the “holiday” known as Super Bowl weekend. And it’s just about tailor-made for casinos: Traditionally, it’s considered propitious to gamble at the start of the new year.
I’m pretty excited about the upcoming Gaming Research Colloquium talk that we’re hosting at UNLV:
Please join us at 12:15 PM, Thursday, Feb. 24, as February Gaming Research Fellow Darryl A. Smith delivers a Gaming Research Colloquium talk titled “’Dark with Excessive Bright:’ Gambling Tells and the Gaming Taboo.”
Smith, an assistant professor of religious studies at the Pomona College, will discuss the philosophical commonalities between poker tells and themes in religious and secular writing. Within sacred language the belief has existed that the personal name is an intrinsic part of oneself. As such, its revelation threatens exposure to powers that might undo its bearer. Smith considers the relation between the detection of tells in gambling and that of so-called true names. Strategies of concealment and detection that are basic to both tell-reading and true-naming are explored in relation to post-colonial theory’s insights into using light in order to hide things.
Those interested in poker, philosophy, religious studies, and the literature of gambling are encouraged to attend.
Here’s why it’s going to be so good: Professor Smith’s background is in religious studies, so we’re getting more of a perspective on poker from the humanities than we usually do. The title, if you don’t recognize it off the bat (I didn’t), is a quote from Milton. Talking with Darryl about his research, the conversation went from John Milton to Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man to Mike Caro and David Sklansky, and it made perfect sense. So he’s not going to tell you how to win more pots, but he will give you a better idea of where poker draws from bigger philosophical concepts. I find that interesting.
This story’s only tangentially about gambling, but it’s interesting in a quirky sort of way. From the Malaysian Star:
A Malaysian maid working in Hong Kong has reportedly won over HK$30mil RM12mil in a local lottery, China Press reported.The middle-aged woman is a helper at the mansion of Angela Leong, the fourth wife of casino tycoon Stanley Ho, known as the “King of Gambling”.
The woman bought a Mark Six ticket lottery organised by the Hong Kong Jockey Club on her birthday, as suggested by her employer’s family, said the paper.
A member of the Ho family confirmed the news to Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily.
Hey everyone, I’ve just posted a new occasional paper over at http://gaming.unlv.edu. It’s part of a bigger study of locals sports books by recent UNLV sociology Ph.D. Fred Krauss:
Fred Krauss. “Taking the Points: The Socialization Process of a Sports Book Regular.”
Patrons of a casino sports book use the environment for much more than the instrumental task of sports betting. It is also a place to congregate with other like-minded patrons and through this process complex interactional dynamics develop over time. The social world of the sports book emerges in a designated space for the betting act where patrons meet, interact, and establish a culture to which they adhere.
This was an interesting one–I see Krauss’s work as an extension of John D. Rosecrance’s seminal Degenerates of Lake Tahoe, a ground-breaking study of horse players in, wild guess, Lake Tahoe. I look forward to seeing more from Dr. Krauss.
I’ve also been editing the CGR header a bit–I’m still not totally happy with it, but if I was, my job would be pretty boring.
There’s another article about casino carpet available today–this is a little piece in Wired magazine:
“The carpets definitely play a big part in keeping the town as surreal as it is,” said Maluszynski by e-mail. “Thought has been given to the carpeting by people who want to create this special atmosphere, [one] that defines Vegas as a gambling city.”
I’m really going to update the essay that they reference to make it a little less tongue in cheek. On the Internet, no one can hear you being sardonic. I think I’ll add some more serious reasons why carpet looks like it does: mostly to hide stains and to jazz up a pretty big space. Thanks to Luxor and Aria, we’ve seen what less gaudy carpet looks like in a casino: funereal.
The urban legend that it makes you look at the machines is patently ridiculous. As bipeds with their heads 5-6 feet off the ground, humans generally look at about eye level while they’re walking. unless they’re hiking over treacherous ground. It’s not like our default mode to to stare at our shoes while we walk. The other legend, that it’s to hide chips, is flat-out stupid. Casinos want players to gamble their chips, not lose them. If a player loses money, or a chip, whoever finds it is supposed to report it to lost and found. If no one claims it after 30 days, they keep it. (At least that’s how it is in most places I’m familiar with.) If that happens, it’s a stone cold lock that the money’s not getting gambled at the casino. What kind of manager would want to encourage that?
It would be nice if casino carpet was really that mystical, but it’s really pretty common sense stuff if you think about it for a while.