Category Archive 'Las Vegas'

06 Mar 2019

A Gambling Story

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From Paris Review:

On September 24th, 1980, a man wearing cowboy boots and carrying two brown suitcases entered Binion’s Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas. One suitcase held $777,000 in cash; the other was empty. After converting the money into chips, the man approached a craps table on the casino floor and put everything on the backline. This meant he was betting against the woman rolling the dice. If she lost, he’d double his money. If she won, he’d lose everything. Scarcely aware of the amount riding on her dice, the woman rolled three times: 6, 9, 7.

“Pay the backline,” said the dealer. And just like that, the man won over $1.5 million. He calmly filled the empty suitcase with his winnings, exited Binion’s into the desert afternoon, and drove off. It was the largest amount ever bet on a dice roll in America.

“Mystery Man Wins Fortune,” the Los Angeles Times reported. No one knew the identity of the fair-haired young Texan who’d just made history, and so he became known as the “Phantom Gambler.” “He was cool,” said Jack Binion, president of the Horseshoe. “He really had a lot of gamble in him.” But it would be years before the phantom would be seen in Vegas again.

You’ll smile if you stop reading there. The story’s ultimate conclusion is sad.


15 Sep 2012

Live in Las Vegas; Dead in Benghazi

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Barack Obama enters the auditorium for his Las Vegas campaign rally yesterday.

As the caskets containing the bodies of four slain Americans were being unloaded from the plane, Barack Obama was tweeting about campaign sweatshirts.

We also learned today that the same Hillary Clinton who early on banned military uniforms from the Clinton White House signed the rules of engagement that left the US Ambassador in Benghazi without Marine protection and defended by local guards without ammunition.

“It was the policy of the Obama administration to have a low profile in Libya. That’s why the rules of engagement were approved by the Secretary of State to have no Marines at Benghazi, and to have an American contractor hire Libyan nationals to provide security there. The rules were they couldn’t have ammunition.”

Mark Steyn, the Juvenal of the Decline and Fall of the American Republic, had some sharp comments.

When it comes to a flailing, blundering superpower, I am generally wary of ascribing to malevolence what is more often sheer stupidity and incompetence. For example, we’re told that, because the consulate in Benghazi was designated as an “interim facility,” it did not warrant the level of security and protection that, say, an embassy in Scandinavia would have. This seems all too plausible – that security decisions are made not by individual human judgment but according to whichever rule-book sub-clause at the Federal Agency of Bureaucratic Facilities Regulation it happens to fall under. However, the very next day the embassy in Yemen, which is a permanent facility, was also overrun, as was the embassy in Tunisia the day after. Look, these are tough crowds, as the president might say at Caesar’s Palace. But we spend more money on these joints than anybody else, and they’re as easy to overrun as the Belgian Consulate.

I’m inclined to be generous, and put some of this down to the natural torpor and ineptitude of government. But Hillary Clinton and Gen. Martin Dempsey are guilty of something worse, in the Secretary of State’s weirdly obsessive remarks about an obscure film supposedly disrespectful of Mohammed and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs’ telephone call to a private citizen, asking him if he could please ease up on the old Islamophobia.

In this case, as Secretary Clinton and Gen. Dempsey well know, the film has even less to do with anything than did the Danish cartoons or the schoolteacher’s teddy bear or any of the other innumerable grievances of Islam. The 400-strong assault force in Benghazi showed up with RPGs and mortars: that’s not a spontaneous movie protest; that’s an act of war, and better planned and executed than the dying superpower’s response to it. Secretary Clinton and Gen. Dempsey are, to put it mildly, misleading the American people when they suggest otherwise.

One can understand why they might do this, given the fiasco in Libya. The men who organized this attack knew the ambassador would be at the consulate in Benghazi rather than at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli. How did that happen? They knew when he had been moved from the consulate to a “safe house,” and switched their attentions accordingly. How did that happen? The United States government lost track of its ambassador for 10 hours. How did that happen? Perhaps, when they’ve investigated Mitt Romney’s press release for another three or four weeks, the court eunuchs of the American media might like to look into some of these fascinating questions, instead of leaving the only interesting reporting on an American story to the foreign press.

For whatever reason, Secretary Clinton chose to double down on misleading the American people. “Libyans carried Chris’ body to the hospital,” said Mrs. Clinton. That’s one way of putting it. The photographs at the Arab TV network al-Mayadeen show Chris Stevens’ body being dragged through the streets, while the locals take souvenir photographs on their cellphones. A man in a red striped shirt photographs the dead-eyed ambassador from above; another immediately behind his head moves the splayed arm and holds his cellphone camera an inch from the ambassador’s nose. Some years ago, I had occasion to assist in moving the body of a dead man: We did not stop to take photographs en route. Even allowing for cultural differences, this looks less like “carrying Chris’ body to the hospital” and more like barbarians gleefully feasting on the spoils of savagery.

In a rare appearance on a non-showbiz outlet, President Obama, winging it on Telemundo, told his host that Egypt was neither an ally nor an enemy. I can understand why it can be difficult to figure out, but here’s an easy way to tell: Bernard Lewis, the great scholar of Islam, said some years ago that America risked being seen as harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend. At the Benghazi consulate, the looters stole “sensitive” papers revealing the names of Libyans who’ve cooperated with the United States. Oh, well. As the president would say, obviously our hearts are with you.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan, the local doctor who fingered bin Laden to the Americans sits in jail. In other words, while America’s clod vice-president staggers around, pimping limply that only Obama had the guts to take the toughest decision anyone’s ever had to take, the poor schlub who actually did have the guts, who actually took the tough decision in a part of the world where taking tough decisions can get you killed, languishes in a cell because Washington would not lift a finger to help him.

Like I said, no novelist would contrast Chris Stevens on the streets of Benghazi and Barack Obama on stage in Vegas. Too crude, too telling, too devastating.

28 Aug 2012

Soldiers Express Solidarity With Embattled Prince

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More than 15,700 mostly male & female soldiers from military forces of nations worldwide (I saw Germany, Russia, Spain, Canada, Italy, and Israel in there), who have been joined by some civilians as well, have come to the defense of Britain’s Prince Harry by posting unclothed photos of themselves online via a Facebook group titled: “Support Prince Harry with a naked salute!.”


One US Navy seal added a particularly nice clothed salute:


The general sentiment is that the Prince, who served in a combat unit in Afghanistan, is entitled to recreation and privacy in Las Vegas during his off-duty time, just like anybody else.

The Mirror

15 Jun 2007

Las Vegas Madam Claims Bill Clinton Was a Customer

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The New York Post is shocked, shocked that the Las Vegas police department would be so remiss as to permit a police report containing an “unconfirmed” mention of the former president to be made public.

The police report quotes professional woman Esperanza Brooks as boasting of her employees and clientele:

“These are not your average girls. Some of them have worked with Bill Clinton,” Brooks told an undercover officer while assuring him of her girls’ cleanliness.

26 Nov 2006

Vegas Doomed By Proximity to California


Reader Kevin writes Vin Surynowicz:

“Here in rural Hillsboro, Texas, people still smoke openly, many of them indoors; many inside their own shops. … All our restaurants allow smoking. There are public ashtrays at the front doors of the county courthouse. Tobacco puritanism just hasn’t caught on here.

“My explanation for this is twofold: 1) Pompous people from Dallas, 65 miles away, can’t afford to move here and commute, and b) the masses of economic refugees from socialist California aren’t impacting Texas quite as badly as Nevada…

“You say the gang of New Puritans will not drain and strangle Vegas within five years, and you project a lengthy decades-long death rattle for the city. I disagree. I visited Vegas roughly a year ago, and I was disgusted by how much the Strip has morphed into a pricey Galleria, a giant boutique. In five years, I predict Vegas will already be feeling the pinch of a severe tourist downturn.

“I don’t think it will require better flights to Amsterdam or the Caribbean. One smart U.S. city with gambling could supplant Vegas pretty quickly, especially if it’s an established poker haven.

“My money is on Biloxi, which will be aggressively rebuilding itself soon.”

I can see the TV ads now, Kevin, suitably illustrated with color footage of tourists happily engaging in the specified activities on the sparkling Gulf Coast, while their opposite numbers are shown in grainy black-and-white footage here in Sin City being clubbed to the ground by Metro’s “New Year’s Eve Squad,” shot down by the Baby’s Daddy Removal Team out in Southwest 11, or herded into Paddy wagons: “Tobacco: banned in Vegas, still welcome in Biloxi! Prostitution: illegal in Vegas, recently legalized in Biloxi! Hashish bars: still banned in Vegas, recently re-legalized in Biloxi! Handguns: registered in Vegas, welcomed in Biloxi!”

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