You have your favorite casino, maybe two or three. Anyone who visits Vegas or Reno or even Macau has one they favor above the others.
It might be the superlative service, the eye-catching cocktail waitresses, or the fact that they won the progressive Megabucks for $15 million and change.
Frankly, that casino would be my favorite as well, particularly since I’ve never played Megabucks in my life, so winning the progressive on it would be a bit of a surprise. Maybe they could just have me win right now and mail me the check. Cashier’s check only, please.
Maybe I should point out what wouldn’t be a part of my “perfect casino” first.
The absence of risk.
Gambling is all about risk. The excitement of uncertainty and probability is a huge part of gambling, if not the only part. Naturally, games of skill require, um, skill, but variance exists to remind even the most skillful of poker players that time and chance happeneth to us all.
Everything in our lives is a risk, from getting out of bed in the morning to driving into work to pitching that new idea to the boss and betting your continued employment on the new idea’s success.
Life is risk. Ah, yes, but for the gambler, risk is life.
So this won’t be an exploration of Big Rock Candy Mountain, The Vegas Edition.
My approach is to think of all the things that annoy me about real casinos and how those things could be fixed or altered to make my gambling experience a veritable paradise.
Think of my description of the perfect casino like the instructions for carving a statue of an elephant: Take a block of stone and cut away everything that doesn’t look like an elephant.
Right off the bat, the casino is taking money from me, and it hasn’t done a single thing for me in return. What, you think driving my car a couple miles away is doing me a favor? Sorry, valet, but this is on the casino.
I wasn’t the one who built the casino so far away from the parking structure, so why should I have to pay somebody to drive my car from the entrance of the casino to somewhere near Pahrump?
So, free valet parking. The casino can think of the expense as a lesson. Maybe they’ll build the casino a little closer to the parking structure next time.
In my perfect casino, all hiring of cocktail waitresses would be based on the Kate Upton template.
Yeah, I’m a pig, but it’s Vegas, baby.
They don’t even have to be flirty, although if their manner suggests that I am some combination of Sean Connery and Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson, that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.
Also, I may be a pig, but I like service prompt and accurate. If it takes a cocktail waitress an hour to wander past me, she can actually be Kate Upton, and I’m not gonna be happy.
I tend to tip well, so once the waitress has discovered me during her walk-about, she tends to come back regularly, but for me, that’s too little, too late. I wanted a drink as soon as I sat down.
Hey, I’m paying the fiddler here; I get to call the tune.
Walk of Shame
Because of the continued existence of risk, the Walk of Shame is inevitable. I’m talking about the walk to the ATM or the cashier’s cage, not that other walk of shame, you hussy.
So, to ensure that I am no longer embarrassed about having to pull out another Benjamin from the ATM, make the slot machines themselves serve as ATMs.
In fact, make the dispensing of additional cash from the slot machine indistinguishable from an actual win, complete with the too-loud cheesy music and the flashing lights. Man, that would be sweet.
Yeah, I’m pretty easy to fool. I thought that cocktail waitress liked me, didn’t I?
All casino restaurants, however upper-crusty, would charge cheeseburger prices for their fare but would somehow still maintain the high level of quality and service that the fear of losing a $100,000-a-year job usually inspires.
The wait staff would be obsequious and never correct my pronunciation of those nonsensical noises the French insist constitute their “language.” Particularly if I’m just ordering a cheeseburger. Pommes Frites that, Frenchie.
Guards to Watch My Machine While I Go Pee
After four hours at the Buffalo slots, I often begin to feel certain, um, biological backpressures. You know, that sensation that tells you that you’re about to have a childish accident.
I would like it — in fact, there’s a buck in it for you, Boscoe — if you stand guard over my machine while I drain the lizard.
Maybe two bucks, if I also have to drop the kids off at the pool.
Hey, screw you. I’m human. Don’t judge me.
Always One Open Seat at the No-Limit Hold’em Table
Nothing more annoying than killing time while waiting for a seat to open in the poker room. Well, walking behind some slow-moving antiquarian group while you’re trying to get to the poker room is no treat, either.
How ‘bout this: widen the aisle so I can slip past the Golden Girls, and then ensure there’s always a seat for me at the $1/$2 no-limit hold’em table.
If that means the casino has to keep a legion of prop players standing by, so be it. They spent a zillion dollars on that glorified lawn sprinkler outside; they can spend a few bucks keeping the poker room ready for me.
Signage That Is Visible, Intelligible, and Not Located Behind a Palm Tree
Ever try to find a restaurant or other amenity at a casino resort? Forget for the moment that many casinos are dimly lighted — if you ask me, it’s the people who design and place signage in the casinos who are dimly lit.
And asking someone in a garish uniform (while fervently praying that he’s a casino employee and not the Cultural Attaché of Yugoslavia) is often a waste of time.
They’ll tell you to “just follow the signs” with a dismissive wave in some vague direction and not bother to mention that one of the signs along the way is hidden from view by a planter filled with palm fronds.
In retrospect, you probably would have had better luck asking the Cultural Attaché of Yugoslavia for directions.
Incidentally, what the fricking frack is a palm tree doing inside a casino?
Players Club Rewards That Aren’t Another Freakin’ Hoodie
Loyalty rewards are one of the great things about casinos. You get all kinds of crap to keep in your garage or hand out to your relatives, and each of the items only cost $3,000.
The Bluetooth bass speaker with the 15-minute battery life is way cool, Mr. Casino Marketing Man, but I‘m not in the habit of regaling the strangers on the bus to the parking lot with my “travel mix” of Bob Seger-Cardi B mashups.
And I really don’t need another freakin’ hoodie with your freakin’ logo on it.
Yes, you own me, that’s quite obvious. Could you just not use me as a walking billboard? Leave me at least the illusion of dignity, what d’ya say?
No Children, Ever
Trust me on this: There has never been a single moment in my life when I wanted to see pictures of your kids graduating preschool (how is that even a thing?).
And if that’s true (and it is), then why would I ever want to encounter your shrilly-screaming-sticky-fingered children in person as they caper between the slot machines at a casino?
Why are they even here? They get bored on the tour of the Bunny Ranch?
Okay, it’s not all your fault. These days, corporations run Vegas, and corporations have decided you’ll visit their resort casinos more if they make accommodations for your, um, cherubic little angels.
Corporations make mistakes all the time.
Broken fingers and shallow graves in the Nevada desert notwithstanding, Vegas was a much nicer place when the mob ran it.
You know who you never see in a mobbed-up Vegas movie? Kids. You know who’s probably filling most of those shallow graves in the Nevada desert?
People who brought their kids to Vegas. Probably.
And as far as I know, corporations don’t bury people in shallow graves in the Nevada desert. Maybe somebody could bring that up at the next shareholders meeting.
People Who Insist on Scolding Me for Smoking a Cigar
I can understand restaurants and churches not wanting patrons to light up a La Gloria Cubana inside, but a casino resort is a place where adults indulge in all sorts of vices. Drinking, gambling, and upstairs, who knows?
Once, in a casino in Cripple Creek, a passerby — not even a gambler — complained to the casino that my cigar smoke was offensive.
The casino asked me to put it out.
The casino insisted.
I handed them my players club card and told them where they might store it for later inspection and then walked out. I never went back.
In fact, I no longer live in Colorado. Don’t weep for me, though. I was banned from American Furniture Warehouse, anyway (but that’s another story).
While I’m Nitpicking…
How about non-static carpeting? Nothing annoys me more than getting a shock every time I touch a slot machine or anything else metal in a casino.
Seriously, was no one thinking with their brainthoughts when it was time to select carpeting for the gaming floor? Or was it some sort of practical joke?
“Let’s make it so everybody jerks a little bit as they touch the slot machine handle. Won’t that be a hoot?”
Yeah, Chuckles, that would be hilarious. Remind me to take you with me next time I visit the Nevada desert. It’s surprisingly close to Las Vegas, and yet, so very desolate. Peaceful, you might say. You’ll love it.
Some resort casinos have adjustable chairs at their machines and in the poker room and at some of the table games, as well. This is equivalent to replacing whale oil with kerosene for lighting purposes. Sure, kerosene ain’t electricity, but whale oil wasn’t cheap (and the whales weren’t too happy about it, either).
If you’re a tiny person, an adjustable chair can lift you to the proper position at the table, e.g., where your elbows can rest on the cushioned edge of the table. And if you’re a non-tiny person, like me, for example, you can lower your seat so, again, your elbows can rest comfortably on the cushioned edge of the table.
See where I’m going with this? No? Okay. I lean against things a lot. Lazy? Probably. But it’s what I do, and if you want to make me happy, Perfect Casino, you’ll give me an adjustable chair. I sit in one at home when I’m playing at my preferred online casinos, so I’ve kind of gotten used to it.
Ah, the Smell of It
The first thing you notice about the Mirage is the faint scent of coconut in the air. For some odd reason, that always reminds me of suntan lotion, and from there, to childhood family trips to the lake, or summer pool-time.
Of our five senses, smell is — the scientists claim — the sense most intimately linked to memory.
The problem is, the memory evoked in your mind by the smell of, say, Aqua-Net hair spray would be completely different from my memory.
On the other hand, many men would find the fragrance of bay rum to be evocative of Saturday trips to the barbershop.
In fact, for me personally, I haven’t had a haircut if I don’t walk out of the barbershop stinking of bay rum. They probably wouldn’t even have to cut my hair, just slap some bay rum on my head, take my money, and I’m on my way.
Did I mention I’m easy to fool?
The Soundtrack of Winning
A good casino knows its demographics well, and that’s why the Cosmopolitan plays Pink and Cardi B throughout the casino, but across town, The M Resort plays Bob Seger and CCR.
My “Perfect Casino” people luck out on this one because I like a lot of different music. I’m just as much at home listening to Pit Bull or AC/DC as I am listening to Michael Bublé or Joni Harms.
Maybe with all the technology these days, they could first determine what music each of us prefers, and second, play it from speakers designed to project the sound to each of us alone. They work wonders with facial recognition these days; if they detect I appear to know all the words to Meghan Trainor’s “All About the Bass” by seeing my lips move, then they should be able to determine I’m not particularly game for an encore of Frankie Yankovic’s “Beer Barrel Polka.”
If they could do that, then I might be impressed enough to change my mind about that whole “moon landing” malarkey.
Dream a Little Dream
Okay, reality check. My perfect casino is never going to happen, but neither is yours.
The best we can hope for is a casino that tries to keep us pleasantly distracted while successfully lightening our cash-fat wallets. Professional, prompt, courteous, hos-freakin’-pitable — is that too much to ask?
And in return, I promise I’ll be nice to the staff.
And this time, I mean it. Promise.