Super Casino: Inside the “New” Las Vegas

Las Vegas has overtaken Walt Disney World as the most poplar tourist destination in the country.

What is it about gambling that mesmerizes us?

I wanted to discover what draws people there so I went “inside” the Luxor, a billion dollar, pyramid-shaped casino on the Strip. I tell the story through the eyes of the people who I met — a workaholic casino boss, a seasoned blackjack whiz, a showgirl — even a teenage hooker who dreams of someday becoming a casino dealer.

So what did I learn? Perhaps the answer is best said by a veteran casino shift manager:

Most tourists ‘play’ at gambling. They decide before their vacation how much they are going to bet and they keep playing until they lose that amount or a bit more. They are NOT real gamblers.

Real gambling is standing at a craps table and shooting the dice with your entire paycheck spread out on the numbers. It’s knowing if the dice hit, you are going to win two or three or maybe five times your weekly salary, and if they don’t hit, then you will be broke for the entire week without even enough for a can of dog food.

You see, it’s not really about money. It’s about risk.

You ever go to the circus? I remember as a kid watching a guy do all sorts of flips and twirls and turns, and he was really, really good. The next week, this guy came out and he couldn’t do half the acrobatic stuff the other guy had done, but it was much, much more exciting and you want to know why?

Because he didn’t have a net.¬†You knew if he missed that bar, he was going to fall and die.

I have felt that same psychological rush gambling. When I gamble, I am having the best time of my life and I am having the absolute worst time too. I’m talking about those nanoseconds when you are waiting for that card to fall or the white ball to drop into a red or the black or the dice to stop rolling. It can be absolutely terrifying and absolutely beautiful.

You are standing there wishing like hell that you hadn’t risk your complete paycheck. You are thinking, “Am I nuts? What am I going to do if I lose!” You are terrified and you are also totally alive.

Your every sense is primed and as you stand there, you suddenly begin believing, “I’m going to do it!” You tell yourself, “I’m going to hit it big!”

That’s when you are pushing the edge, baby. And then that card falls or the ball stops or the dice quit rolling and you see the results and you either have won more than you dreamed possible or you have lost everything….Those are the moments that really count because you are up there flying without a net.

Listen to Pete interview a veteran Las Vegas “craps” dealer

Download (Right click then choose “Save As…”)

I also learned that prostitutes sometimes squirt Visine eye drops into their customer’s drinks to make them double-over in intense pain so they can be easily robbed!

Super Casino Cover

Super Casino

Inside the “New” Las Vegas

In this lively and probing book, Pete Earley traces the extraordinary evolution of Las Vegas from the gaudy Mecca of the Rat Pack era to one of the top family vacation spots. He revisits the city’s history of moguls, mobsters, and entertainers, reveals the real stories of power brokers like Steve Wynn and legends like Howard Hughes and Bugsy Siegel, and offers a fascinating portrait of the life, death, and fantastic rebirth of the Las Vegas Strip.