Gambling City

We are Cash Back

A Freebie Can be had Just by Asking

Author: Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: Some twenty-five years or so ago I ran into you when you were a pit boss on the South Shore at a Lake Tahoe casino. I recall I asked you for a deck of cards and you said, "Okay, but first you must answer a trivia question correctly." I don't recall the trivia question, but I do have a clear memory of getting the answer wrong. You said, “That's close enough, no one ever gets it right,” and you gave me a used deck of cards and your casino business card.

Recently, I attended a bowling tournament in Reno, my first time back in Nevada since we met. I picked up a copy of the Reno Gazette Journal, and lo and behold, there is your column on gambling. I still have the deck of cards I kept as a memento and recently saw them in a drawer. I broke the seal and opened them and found this note written on the inside of the box: VW, BF, 22:30, T3 and 6/26. So, do you know the meaning of the note and do you recall the trivia question you asked me that no one ever gets right? Randy M.

You never had to get any of my trivia questions right, as I was pretty generous with the casino’s money. You could get a souvenir deck of cards from myself and from most other pit bosses just by asking politely.

I can't guess how many decks of cards I gave away during my career, but I always had the player attempt to answer one of my trivia questions. I had a set of three that were my go-to questions, as follows.

  • Name the four founding members of Creedence Clearwater Revival: They were John Fogerty, Tom Fogerty, Stu Cook, and Doug Clifford. I can’t remember anyone ever getting all four.

  • Who were the four 20-game winners for the 1971 Baltimore Orioles? The 1971 Orioles are the last MLB club to have four 20-game winners in a season. They were Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar and Pat Dobson. Most trivia partakers usually missed either Dobson or Cuellar.

  • The third trivia question was how do you spell Albuquerque? A L B U Q U E R Q U E is one of those bar bet trivia questions that bar-stool regulars trying to snag someone for a free drink can spell, but in the real world, hardly anyone can.

If a player was stumped, as almost all were, one need not have feared. As long as they could spell their first name, I would still give them a complimentary memento to commiserate their gambling losses.

Now for the note you found on the inside lid, 6/26 would have been the date. 22:40 is military time for 10:40 pm, and represents the log time when the deck came off the game. The T3 stands for Table 3, which was in the main pit right beside the crap table. The initials VW and BF were the current dealer and the pit boss who took the cards off the game.

I worked swing shift when this deck was pulled, and from those initials I can identify VW as dealer Victoria Walker, and BF was the pit supervisor, Boyd Frame. Of course the work position of each that night could have been reversed, since both were dual-rated employees. Now how is that for remembering a quarter-century later?

As a side note, both of the people mentioned above had noteworthy backgrounds. Victoria was cast in an infamous role in the cult classic skiing movie, Hot Dog. The very movie in which Yours Truly was an extra, playing a skier in the Chinese Downhill scene. Boyd Frame’s uncle, Fred Frame, was the winner of the 1932 Indianapolis 500, and Boyd, himself, was on the offensive line with John Madden at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo.

Thanks for the walk down memory lane, Randy.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “Give me a deck of cards instead of a tax shelter and I'll take my chances.” – Mario Puzo, American Author and Screenwriter in Inside Las Vegas