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

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Slick's Las Vegas Then & Now: 25th in Series

This past August, my best friend and fellow author, William "Slick" Hanner, passed on to that "Big Poker Room in the Sky," the final table in the poker tournament called Life. In memory of Slick and his quirky slant on the world, here's the 25th chapter in his book, Slick's Las Vegas Then & Now:

Fables of Las Vegas

Bugsy’s Flamingo While Ben “Bugsy” Siegel was building the Flamingo, he would go out and watch the construction workers. One of the workers greeted Siegel with a thumbs up when he saw his boss walking the property. “Hello, Mr. Siegel. How are you doing today?”

That day the worker took a chance and told Siegel a sob story about how he didn’t have his rent money. Siegel reached in his pocket and loaned the guy $100.

After a week, Siegel noticed the worker was avoiding him. So he walked over to the worker, pulled out four $100 bills and gave them to the guy.

The worker said, “What’s this for, Mr. Siegel?”

Siegal replied, “I never kill anybody for less than $500.”

The next day, it’s said, Segal was paid back in full.


Before Silicone One of Ben Siegel’s acquaintances was a fellow name Benny Gofstein. He told a tale of old Las Vegas when starlets were flown in from Hollywood on DC 4s, unpressurized planes. Some of the women wore pneumatic or blow-up falsies. The higher the plane flew, the more the falsies inflated, sometimes bursting or sometimes leaving the starlets looking unbalanced when they got off the plane.


Dead Man One day at a Caesar’s Palace crap table, one of the players experienced chest pains and collapsed. He was helped up, placed in a wheel chair and taken outside to “get some air.” When staff came out later, allegedly to check on him, the guy was dead. Not wanting bad publicity, they put him in a cab and sent him to another casino.


Parcy the Cab Driver All the Las Vegas poker room players got to know Parcy who liked his booze. People said he was doing a life sentence in the poker rooms because he played poker every day. He had the habit of saying, “It’s up to you…” over and over. Pretty soon other poker players were saying, “It’s up to you.”

After years of listening to Parcy, I finally asked him why he always used that phrase. He told me that while driving his cab at the airport many years ago, a policeman asked him to move. As the officer walked away, Parcy said, “Fuck you.” The cop turned around and asked Parcy to repeat what he just said. Parcy told him, “It’s up to you.”


Bank Robber Mario came to Las Vegas from Melrose Park, a suburb of Chicago, and got a job dealing poker at the Stardust Casino. He made good tips but blew them right away. So he was forced to live off his paycheck of $5 an hour. After years following this same pattern, he decided to go home. His family scraped together $500 for his plane ticket.


Do you think Mario bought a ticket? Of course not. He headed straight for a Caesar’s Palace crap table to try to double his money. Not only did he double it, he ran it up to $50,000 which he put in a safe place.

The next morning he kicked some tires at Cashman Cadillac. Then he went to the Stardust poker room and told his boss he was a dumb ass who shouldn’t be in charge of anything and promptly quit. Later he thought, why should I leave with 50 grand when I can leave with 500 grand?

You guessed it…he lost everything and left the poker room without a penny in his pocket. Then he tried to get his old job back and was laughed out of the room. The last I heard, Mario became a bank robber, got shot and is now doing time in prison.


Underwear On November 21, 1980, the MGM’s fire killed 86 and injured 650. A well-known casino executive, George Joseph, was working as director of surveillance at the Dunes across from the MGM. In the midst of the fire, with all the smoke and confusion, he saw a man walking across the street wearing only his underwear. He thought the man was in shock and disoriented by the fire. What the man did next seems unbelievable. He walked up to the crap table at the Dunes, asked for and received a marker and began shooting dice…in his underwear. He reasoned that if he was still alive after the terrible fire, it was his lucky day.


Megabucks A happily married couple walked into a casino and decided to play the Megabucks slot machine. For hours the husband poured dollars—three at a time—into the one-armed bandit. Nature called so he left his wife to take over while he went to the men’s room with strict instructions always to play three dollars at a time. That was the maximum amount someone had to play to win the Megabucks jackpot. Wouldn’t you know, she tried to save money and had bet only one dollar when the jackpot hit. For only $2 more, the couple would have won over $1 million. When her husband came back and found out what happened, it took two security guards to pull him off his wife. They weren’t a happily married couple anymore.


Hospital Gambling My friend, Sam Gambino, who lives part time in Las Vegas and the rest of the year in Chicago, had to go to the hospital. He asked me to drive him to the airport. I asked him why he needed to fly out of Las Vegas since we had perfectly good hospitals here? He told me he had a friend who was a Las Vegas nurse who just bought a new house with her gambling winnings. Sam asked her where she won the money?

She told him it was the hospital where she worked. The nurses had a bet which patients would die first, and she won. So Sam said he was going to play it safe and fly to Chicago where they don’t bet on patients lives.


Nose Ring My son-in-law, a crap dealer for 30 years, told me about the time Dennis Rodman was at his crap table. Apparently, Rodman’s nose ring had a little ball attached to it that fell off and landed on the table, hit the number 10 and bounced all the way to the number 4. Rodman, even with his long arms, couldn’t reach it. So he asked my son-in-law to get the ball for him. My son-in-law refused saying, “How do I know where your nose has been?”


Sure gonna miss you, Slick.

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