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Down Memory Lane 1977 trip

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by jackincols, Aug 30, 2013.

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  1. I've told this story on other message boards, but seeing as how I'm relatively new to this one, I thought I'd tell you about my first trip to Las Vegas as an adult. It was in the summer of 1977 and was a gambling junket I didn't deserve to be on. The reason was that I had no gambling track record and only knew the rudiments of blackjack. No Basic Strategy knowledge and I don't even know if basic strategy was published back then.

    These junkets out of Columbus, Ohio were run by a mob connected guy by the name of Louis (Louie) Asmo (I've heard he's now a pro poker player living in Vegas). He ran junkets for the old Aladdin, the Dunes, the Stardust, Flamingo and Riviera. Even though I was "vouched for" by a junket regular, Louie had one rule for first timers. He had to physically see a minimum of $500 cash before he would even let you on the plane. And you'd better not leave it in your wallet when you got there. You were expected to gamble.

    We checked in at the Aladdin and in addition to our room key (yes, a real key) we were given food vouchers for the buffet and one voucher for either a steak or prime rib dinner. We were also given our "gambling card". Not the plastic players card we're used to seeing today, but a little folder, slightly bigger than wallet size. You had to give it to the pit boss at the start of table play and he would enter the date and start time of your play, then initial it. At the end of your session you again gave the card to the pit boss and he would enter the stop time of your play, average bet, initial it and give it back to you. The pit boss jotted down all of this info on a pad. No computers back then.

    You've got to remember, this was the end of an era in Vegas. I don't think VP machines had hit the casino floors. The importance to the bottom line of slot machines hadn't been realized yet so any play on them wasn't tracked. They were there merely as a fun distraction for the "little lady" while the men did the "real gambling" on the tables. Also, Louie expected to see all first timers' gambling card at the end of the trip to see if you'd qualify for other trips. I did and went on 2 other junkets through him until I started to book solo.

    So this was my introduction to Las Vegas. I did gamble and surprisingly held my own for 3 days. In between gambling sessions I made it to the Dunes, Caesars Palace, the Stardust and Flamingo and I was hooked. Enough so that I've been going out to Vegas 2-3 times every year since.
     
  2. RafaelRivera

    RafaelRivera Tourist

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    Very interesting story Jack.

    Vegas sure has changed a lot since those days.

    Some for the better, some for the worse.

    But we still love it, and it will continue to change while we are here, and when we are gone...lol.

    Cheers.
     
  3. jackincols

    jackincols Guest

    Thanks for your response, John.

    Yeah, there's been many, many changes since then. Funny, one has remained through the years. Any first time visitor.....I would imagine one of the first things they hear about are the free drinks.

    But back then, I wasn't ready to see the pit boss open a cabinet and pull out a pack of cigarettes for a table player, just for the asking. That raised my eyebrows.
     
  4. sybgal

    sybgal VIP Whale

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    Very interesting Jack. Thanks for posting. Since I didn't get to LV until 2002....all I know is recent. I love reading and speculating how I would have fared during those times. :)
     
  5. squidward

    squidward Probationary Member

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    Ewwww... I remember the Dunes in the mid eighties. Me and my gambling buddies would go over there for the prime rib special.

    We would play black-jack there after our delicious meal. The Pit Critters there were seriously scary... I would not even think of acting up in that joint. It took allot to intimidate us youngsters back then... but they did! :faint:
     
  6. michigander

    michigander Tourist

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    Jack, I've heard of Louis Asmo somewhere before. He had a pretty nice gig going running those junkets. Working for Five pretty strong Casino's back then.

    You were lucky to make the cut, and you're right about VP machines, and slots. It was the table games for the men, and the slots would keep the wives happy.

    I think the stakes on the card playing on the plane equaled that of some of the Vegas bets.

    I totally remember the gambling junkets in my area. You could not beat the price.

    The local newspaper would advertise 2 or 3 competing companies, and you'd get the charter airplane, meals, and rooms.

    I remember my Dad used to book with a fellow K of C member, (Knights of Columbus), and they would have a pre-trip dinner and party at the K of C Hall, a few days before departure. All this was included in your price, and they stayed at Caesars.

    Nice to see you posting here, as with John, you'll bring a wealth of knowledge that will be appreciated.:beer:
     
  7. jackincols

    jackincols Guest

    Hey Squidward. Good seeing you again and hearing from you. You gave me a chuckle remembering the pit critters at the Dunes. Kinda built like cinder blocks in a suit and always gave the impression they'd rather knock your teeth out than smile. They were like that at the Aladdin as well.

    And Michigander, Asmo was pretty well known in Central Ohio back then, but I don't know if that "celebrity" stretched north. He also ran a pretty lucrative football and basketball book back in the day. I'm not sure about this, but I think his only 30 seconds of fame came years back when he won a bracelet at one of the nondescript WSOP events. Again, not positive about that.
     
  8. breanna61

    breanna61 Super Moderator

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    Hi Jack, nice to see you here on VMB!!!
     
  9. jackincols

    jackincols Guest

    Thanks, bre. Nice to be here.
     
  10. Gino

    Gino "The King of Inappropriate."

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    Stuff like this puts a smile on my face always. My father and grandfather went to Vegas numerous times during an era I only have envy for (1959-1970's.) They regaled me with stories I swore to never tell my mom or grandmother :evillaugh: :eek:.. From comps to card cheats and the punishments they got, I have a library of stuff I can never divulge in public.. Personally I only began trips to Vegas during the corporate "you're a number and a bottom line figure to us" era of the 1990's. Please keep posting stories of old Las Vegas, it's much appreciated around here..Welcome aboard pisan.:beer:
     
  11. jackincols

    jackincols Guest

    Thanks, Gino. That first trip I was like a fish out of water. I knew nothing of comps or how powerful a pit boss was back then in giving out comps, but I quickly learned. Times sure have changed. Last comps I remember being given out by a pit boss was at Rio, when Tony Marnell owned it.
     
  12. xmarksx

    xmarksx VIP Whale

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    Jack, I am in my 50's so did not start making true gambling trips until the early 1980's. I have read that Stardust had the first sports book, do you recall seeing any books or places to make a sports bet?
     
  13. jackincols

    jackincols Guest

    xmarksx, I think you're right about Stardust having the first book in a casino, but I never noticed it the first time I was in there (at least I don't remember seeing it). The first sports book I remember taking notice of would've been around 1979 in the old MGM (now Ballys).
     
  14. waverunner

    waverunner BBHMM

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    I remember staying at MGM (before Bally's) in the late 70's. MGM had Jai Alai which was a crazy but exciting sport. Most people never knew that.
     
  15. jackincols

    jackincols Guest

    Funny you mention that waverunner. I watched some matches there in '79 (still have the program and a postcard of them playing somewhere). It's a game you usually saw down in FL. so I was very surprised to see it in Vegas. You could even bet on the matches, but I never really got the hang of the game to bet.
     
  16. CVG2LAS

    CVG2LAS Tourist

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    I also love hearing about earlier eras. Even in my vegas time, which really began 20 years ago, things have changed so much. One thing that is certainly different - there isn't that same "pressure" to play when on a comp trip! People love to say the pre-corporation days are better, but I certainly wouldn't want to sweat Louis's approval of my play before getting on a return flight!
     
  17. jackincols

    jackincols Guest

    Oh, I don't think Louie would've busted up my legs, at least I'd hope not, but I sure wouldn't have been invited back on any further junkets had I not met expectations.
     
  18. GeorgeJ.

    GeorgeJ. Low-Roller

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    My first trip to Vegas was in 1971 and I wasn't yet 21 but didn't get kicked out of any casinos for playing Blackjack. I believe we played at the Landmark. A group of 5 or 6 high school kids; one pulled a boat with him to Lake Mojave and we hung out on the lake during the day & drove to Vegas at night. They had either $1 or $2 Blackjack tables at the Landmark.

    In 1976 a group from work went to Vegas; some of us stayed at the Thunderbird and others at the Sahara. The Thunderbird was a real pit. The Sahara was like a 5 star hotel compared to the Thunderbird. The Aladdin parking lot was all gravel back then. I seem to recall that some of it was STILL gravel in the 90's before it was imploded..

    Since the early 80's I've been regularly going to Vegas every year. The first stay there with my ex was at the Tropicana, booked there through my travel agent. They put us in a "garden room" - what a dump. These were the old 1 or 2 story buildings by the pool that were the original hotel before they'd built a tower. I went back to the front desk & they wouldn't move us anywhere else; said they were totally booked up. So I got on the phone & booked a room at a Best Western downtown, about the only thing that was available last minute. The front desk at the Tropicana checked us out and said they'd give us a refund through the travel agent. They eventually refunded it and the travel agent got them to offer us a comp weekend in the good rooms in the tower. We used the comp and started coming back to Vegas on a regular basis.

    These days I fly out from Florida 4 times a year. I can typically get 5-10 weeks in Vegas from trading one of our timeshares for Vegas so I usually stay at one of the Hilton HGVC timeshares, the Grandview or Wyndham Grand Desert.
     
  19. charliepeete

    charliepeete Low-Roller

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    out of michigan we had a travel agent by the name of eddie Ryke travel and he ran junkets to vegas and the cal neva in lake tahoe...




    r
     
  20. xmarksx

    xmarksx VIP Whale

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    Anyone remember the little joint next to what is now Bally's, I think it was called Little Caesars, they had a craps table and used to have .25 minimums I learned to play there. I am still a grinder and have more fun at a low minimum table than I ever have at a higher limit game.
     
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