Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Crap-Shoot of a Birthday

A couple of years ago, I told the story of how I was “almost” arrested on my birthday (see here).  That story was written the night it happened.

This is about a birthday in Vegas a long, long time ago, when I celebrated my birthday by (almost) witnessing a daring casino robbery.  As my next birthday is right around the corner, now seems a good time to recall that night.

I was in town for my birthday and let’s just say it was one of those “Big-0” birthdays.  When I walked into this particular casino—let’s call it The Flamingo Hilton, since that was its name at the time—it wasn’t quite my birthday yet, but by the time the robbery took place, it was after midnight and thus was actually the anniversary of my birth.

This was long before I was a poker player. I’ll pause so the reader can make the obligatory joke that nothing has really changed in that regard.  In those days, my games of choice were blackjack and craps.  If things got really bad, I might try my luck at Keno.  I might also have played a little video poker to kill time.  But basically it was blackjack and craps.

This was so long ago that you could still play those games for a $2 minimum bet.  Not at every casino, but at more than a few.  The fact that you can no longer play them for $2 goes a long way to explaining why I no longer play them.

The Flamingo Hilton was one of the last “nice” casinos that still offered $2 craps, at least during the week.  So on this particular night, I walked in there to play some dice.  

I got into a game and it was pretty good.  The table was nearly full, and the dice were hot.  I was starting to win a little money.  Each shooter was making a few points, and things were looking good.  Finally, one shooter got started on a really nice roll.  Everyone was having a good time.  My birthday was off to a great start.

The craps tables were pretty far away from the casino cage, but from somewhere, we heard a loud, booming voice, shouting “Get down!  Everybody get down!”

Seeing as how we were in a good craps game, we did what anybody would do in that situation.  We kept playing.

But not for long.  Soon the dealers at the table, the box man, the floor people behind them, were all shouting, “Get down.  Get down.”

They weren’t suggesting that we start dancing.

We saw the dealers all basically dive under the craps table.  So the players followed suit.  And for several minutes, we were all just on our knees under the craps table.  Presumably, everyone at every table in the casino was doing the same thing.  And I guess at the slot machines too.  We heard murmurs that the casino was being robbed.

It was a bit unnerving to say the least.

Eventually people started walking around the casino telling everybody to get up and that everything was ok.

So we got back up.  Nobody’s chips at that craps table—or anywhere else, as I far as I knew—had been touched while we were all down on our hands and knees.

The game resumed as if nothing had happened.

Well, almost.

One couple, scared shitless, picked up all their chips and got the hell out of there.  I don’t think they stopped by the cashier to cash in their chips.  Maybe—maybe—they went into a nearby casino and cashed their chips there.  But they might have just taken the next cab to the airport and gotten the hell out of Vegas and returned to their nice little Midwest hometown (I’m just assuming) on the very next flight.

The other thing that changed was that the shooter immediately 7’d out on his first post-robbery roll.  And the game never recovered.  The damn crooks had turned a hot craps table into a very cold one.

I don’t recall how much longer I stayed.  But I went over to the cashier to cash out and of course there were now tons of security people and cops there.  And I did indeed ask the cashier if they had been robbed.

I was assured that they had been.  A bunch of guys carrying heavy artillery came in, hoped over the cage and shoved guns in a few people’s faces and helped themselves to tons of cash.

No shots were fired, no one was hurt, and they got away with a ton of money.

We later found out that it was an L.A. gang that stole the money.  They had robbed one or two casinos previously and would rob at least one more before they were caught.

The next time I went into the Flamingo, the cage was enclosed in glass.

Not exactly the kind of birthday surprise I was hoping for.  But definitely the most unusual birthday I’ve ever had.


  1. Three points (from the person who was with you on that trip):

    1. The lack of $2 tables is why I switched to $5 Pai Gow Poker, almost exclusively.

    2. The lack of $5 Pai Gow Poker in Vegas is part of why, when I play now, it's in Reno.

    3. With the upcoming birthday being another Big-0 birthday, please do NOT repeat this part of the celebration.

    1. Thanks, Norm. yeah, the way they jacked up the minimum bets on our favorite games sure made it difficult on us tightwads. Fortunately, I discovered poker.

    2. i didnt think u could b 20y/o and play craps

    3. The cake is actually for someone 70, and fortunately I'm not that old.

  2. Awesome story thanks for sharing. Great read!!

  3. let’s call it The Flamingo Hilton, since that was its name at the time

    LOL, you're killing me.

  4. I'd call the Flamingo Hilton ... ummm ... maybe Bally's, just to throw people off. btw -- I can just imagine you in a leisure suit "getting down" to KC and the Sunshine Band.

    1. Never owned a leisure suit, Lightning.

      KC and the what????

  5. Replies
    1. Seriously man, I tried to a pic of hot girls at a craps table and struck out.

      But I thought the birthday cake with the craps table design was pretty cool. And it even almost had my name on it!

  6. A robbery? Good Lord, the casinos will do *anything* to jinx a hot craps roll.

    1. Those evil casino owners will stop at nothing to win your money. True back then, true now.

  7. Yeah, that's the insider phrase for it.

  8. 2 posts in a row and no cleavage.eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek. first grrouchie stops dranking mountian dew and now this.

    1. It's a conspiracy, anger!

    2. i knew it. at first , i thought it was the weed but nope . it is an illuminati new world order council of foreign relations conspiracy like when THEY started added fluoride to the drinking water or killed anna nicole smith in florida. so u have been compromised .