THIEF! The Gutsy, True Story of an Ex-Con Artist

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THIEF! character, Vince Eli

Monday, May 12, 2008

Blackjack Dealer Audition--Royal Flub

Here's the continuing saga of my casino-dealing adventures:

In 1996 after months of grueling practice at A.C.E.S. casino dealer's school, I broke in as a blackjack dealer at a northern New Mexico Indian-run casino. At that time, all casinos in the state were run by the Indians. Each tribe (everyone of which was a separate sovereign nation) had a compact with the state.

The Ohkay Casino owned by the San Juan Indians was nothing more than a small glorified tent near quaint Espanola, NM. My shift consisted of 20 minutes of fear that I'd screw up while dealing interspersed with long periods of boredom standing at a dead table.

Then a disastrous event occurred after 4 months. I was renting a small adobe house in a quiet area. Being a non-Hispanic woman and an outsider in this clannish town that traced its ancestors back to Spain, I kept a low profile and minded my own business.

I came home after my shift one evening to find my front door standing wide open. Someone had broken in through the tiny bathroom window, the only entrance that didn't have bars on it. (Later I learned it was drug dealers.) They took my Southwest jewelry, clothing and even furniture, but luckily the computer with months of Slick's story on it was safely stowed in the trunk of my car!

I resigned and returned to Albuquerque. At least I was no longer a break-in dealer. Ha! you could say that in spades!

Now an Indian casino just south of Albuquerque was advertising for a BJ/roulette dealer so I decided to go over and fill out an application. With paperwork complete, the pit boss said, "Listen, it's pretty dead out there. Let's put you on a table and see what you can do." This wasn't a question. It was an order.

I tried desperately to weasle out of the audition, knowing I'd be in real trouble out there. I stuttered, "Gee...I don't have my audition uniform with me." (Black dress pants and white formal shirt with black bow tie are standard.) "Let me come back another day."

"Naw," he said. "We're not too formal here. I'll just let security and the eye-in-the-sky know."
With that, he dialed a couple of numbers, then took me out to a BJ table with 3 players at it.

I tapped out the current dealer and took his place, trying to make my voice sound friendly and calm, but I was shaking so badly I could barely get out the words, "Hi. How ya doin'?"

One player looked at me with disgust and said, "Sure hope you don't kill me like that last dealer." I managed a weak smile.

Here's why I was so nervous. I wore some fake press-on fingernails for a jewelry commercial I auditioned for that morning. It's tough enough dealing anyway, so you can imagine my handicap wearing fake nails that bent every which way. And there was no time to peel them off before I started shuffling the 2 decks. It must have looked awfully strange to see the nails bend slightly backward each time I shuffled the deck. I managed to get out a couple of hands, determined to make the cards land just where I wanted...not too bad, I thought. Then the most horrible thing happened.

I pitched a card to one of the customers. He reached up. "What's this?" he said, examining the small red thing that had landed squarly on his forhead.

Before I could answer, the pit boss called in another dealer and yanked me off the table. "All right," he said. Let's see if you can redeem yourself on the roulette wheel." His pleasant smile had turned to a grimmace.

By this time, I prayed for a swift end to my agony. Maybe I'll faint and they can haul my body off the floor. No such luck.

Instead, I found myself tapping out the roulette dealer. I flashed a friendly smile to the two patrons, spun the wheel and said, "No more bets," as I waved my hand over the layout. That didn't go too badly, I thought, encouraged by my mistake-free delivery. I spun the wheel again, but the pit boss had a fit. Through clenched teeth he snarled, "What the hell are you doing spinning the wheel in the opposite direction?"

I quietly told him that I was trained by English people at San Juan Casino and in England they alternate the direction of spin. I can't repeat his actual answer since this is a public site, but his word selection went something like this: #%&*!.

"This is your last chance," he hissed. "And it better be good."

With encouragement like that, how could I go wrong? "No more bets," I squeeked and spun the ball clockwise. Well, I put a little too much force behind it. The ball bounced once and flew out into the room. Wouldn't you know, the ball hit the floorman, who stood in front of the roulette table, directly in the crotch.

Yes...I lived through the most embarrassing moment in my entire life. And no...I didn't make up one word.

Stay tuned for more.

Yours truly,



Anonymous said...

First time to your bldg. am more curious about your life with a mobster.
Can you talk about that?

mobwriter said...

Sure I can talk about my life with a mobster. Look for an entry on that topic soon. Appreciate your leaving a comment.

Mob Writer

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