GETTING IN: THE AUDITION
Everyone always asked me, "What casino do you want to work for?" For me the answer was easy, Bally's Park Place. It was elementary. At the time the Golden Nugget was the best joint to work for. They had the highest toke rate in town. Their average was over $14.00 an hour, so a dealer receiving top pay, which for the industry was $5.75 an hour, could easily have been making close to $20 per hour. But to become a dealer there you had to be either an in-house transfer, have juice, or have at least two years experience. I knew that was out. Resort's International had triple odds and I did not feel like relearning the double odds I had already learned. Playboy, although they had the bunnies, along with the two Harrah's casinos, used speed checks. I heard many stories about those and thought, as a break-in, I would just make a fool of myself. I also did not want to work for a casino like the Claridge, which had a reputation for being a flea joint. The only joints left were the Tropicana, the Sands, Caesar's Boardwalk Regency, and Bally's Park Place. Except for Bally's, the other three had casinos in Las Vegas. Even though I had never been there, I had a feeling the city was Mafia and I did not want to be involved with anything like that. No, for me it would have to be Bally's Park Place.
Bally's had other traits that made it more appealing to me. First, it employed many Stockton students--some of which I knew. I was sure that would help to make me feel a little more at home. Second, there was nothing special about them. You didn't hear much about them and they used the much easier and more standard clay checks. Third, each morning when I drove down Ohio Avenue, on my way to casino school, I would see the Bally trademark on their building stand out before me and would always say to myself, one day I am going to work there. And last, and probably the most cornball reason of them all, was that at the time my favorite rock group was The Who. They had an album and movie called "Tommy". On them, was a track entitled, "The Pinball Wizard". There was a line in that song which went, "I thought I was the Bally table king." It was well known that Bally Manufacturing made many pinball machines as well as Pac Man, the hottest game around. I had always enjoyed their games and thought that it would be great to work for a company who had given so many people, including myself, so much enjoyment in life. Bally's it would be. The only trick was getting in.
Casino school ended towards the end of March. In April, only four months after applying, my dealer's license came in.
I remember the morning I went to pick it up. On the previous night, Mark, Bob, a couple others, and myself tripped. It would be my last time doing acid since I decided to get a "real job". We were up the entire night that blended into that morning. Mark and I had planned to go to Margate City to pick up two beds my mother was able to locate for our condo. That morning the two of us, along with Bob, went to Absecon Island to get them. It was gorgeous out. The sun was shining brightly. After we picked up the beds we became very tired. I figured, since we were already on the island and had to go through Atlantic City anyway, I might as well pick up the license. You should see the picture, me with my long hair and tired blown out look. The CCC has it in their possession today. I was only nineteen and looked like I was sixteen. But that wasn't what mattered to me. What mattered was that I had the license and could then begin looking for work.
Getting a job as a dealer was not as simple as filling out an application. After that had been done one had to take what was known in the biz as an audition. I also had to take one of those for my final grade at casino school. As I mentioned before, they wanted to keep the school as close to the casino as they could. An audition was where the applicant was put on a live game (not in school, though) to be evaluated on a number of different aspects by a number of different people. Not until one had passed an audition could he or she even be considered for hire.
The semester ended the first week of May. The day after I returned to my parent's house, I went job hunting. I had just gotten my hair cut and looked like the typical casino dealer. It sucked losing all that hair, but I had to sell out. My van was loaded with everything from my dorm room. Since I was moving back to Galloway Township in a couple of weeks I decided to leave it the way it was and borrow my father's brand new Jaguar. I wore a white shirt with black pants and shoes just in case I could get an on the spot audition. I parked at the Tropicana to start my hunting from there.
Starting from the Tropicana, I worked my way up the boardwalk stopping in every personnel office from there to Resort's. I wanted to set up as many auditions with the other joints so when it came time to audition at Bally's I would have some experience dealing on a live game. Of the casinos that were hiring only two, the Tropicana and Bally's, would let me set up an audition. The others wanted me to first fill out the application and return it to the personnel departments. Personnel would then contact me to set up an audition. Bally's and the Trop said to bring the application with me at the time of the audition. Satisfied with what I had accomplished, I returned to my car and went home.
During the ride home, I got my first lesson of what the people who worked in Atlantic City were really like. In the car, between the two front seats, was a glove compartment. I realized when I got to the city that I had my personal keys with me, so I tossed them in the compartment before going on the job search. The key chain was a beautiful silver and green pot leaf I picked up in Hawaii. It not only served as a key chain but also had a built in roach clip. When I opened the compartment the key chain was gone and all I was left with were my keys. They probably took the car for a joy ride also.
That same week, I had my first audition. It was at Bally's Park Place. I showed up at the casino and did everything required before starting. Danielle, the lady in charge of hiring, brought me, along with three others, up to the casino and dropped us off at the pit where the auditions would take place. We stood at the pit stand awaiting the Pitboss.
His name was Harry O. He was busy giving orders and talking on the phone. He looked very much like my second roommate, Chad Ragalla. I could tell he had the same attitude as well. Only Harry seemed to be a much nicer guy. He had a great smile and appeared to love what he was doing. He called everyone "babe". No matter who they were, he would smile at them and call them babe as he said what to do. The way he worked with everyone was relaxing and that made me feel a little more at ease.
The time had come. Harry went right down the line with us. He pointed at each and then at the game he wanted us to go to. I gave him a "yes sir" and went to my game.
I was told to tap in on stick. I was nervous. My mother had given me a 5-milligram Valium to help me relax, but the pill I had taken upon arrival did not seem to help. I pushed the dice to the shooter with a shaky hand. It made the stick shake. The Box was telling me to relax. He was friendly and asked me questions about myself to help me calm down. It helped a little, but I was still feeling stage fright. I made five calls and got tapped off figuring, with only five calls, I must have blown it already.
Before I could make it back to the pit stand I was instructed to tap in the base position. That went better with me. With every roll I would repeat to myself and follow the procedure. After a short while I was tapped off and told to tap in on another base. This again lasted a short while. I was then sent to yet another base. With every move the action got heavier. Each time, I was able to demonstrate my ability to deal the game. When I was tapped off for the last time, I was told to see the Pitboss.
Harry, looked at me and said, "You did good, babe. You passed the audition."
"Great, does that mean I get the job?"
"That is up to personnel. If they got a spot open I'm sure they'll give you a call."
I took what I had to return to Danielle, looked at Harry, and thanked him. He smiled, winked at me, and said, "Chow, babe."
A day or two latter, I dropped off some applications, took my next audition at the Tropicana, and had an interview at Caesar's. The audition was a blur. All I remember was that I passed. Caesar's, on the other hand, did not audition. Their logic was that if you had the license, you knew how to deal. Rather, they interviewed the applicant.
At the time of my interview, dealers there were not permitted to have facial hair. I had a mustache, so the interviewer informed me that if I was to be hired it would have to come off. He asked questions about myself. I think that because I was in college, had direction, and wanted to be a writer some day, that was the very reason why I did not get the job. I believe they were looking for people who wanted more of a "career move".
All there was left do now was sit at home and wait for the phone to ring. Wait for either one of the three to call with a job offer or for one of the others to call and set up an audition. I told myself if anyone called with a job offer I would take the one who called first. The next week, the wait paid off.
Some time during the afternoon the phone rang. It was Danielle from Bally's Park Place. She was offering me a job as a permanent part-time dealer. The position would start off paying $3.75 an hour. Naturally, I took the job. Before ending the conversation she told me about the job and where and when to go for processing. Not two hours latter the Tropicana called with a similar offer. It was for basically the same thing only they were paying $3.50 an hour. Of course, I turned them down.
I was very happy to get the Bally's job. It was exactly what I wanted. I even got my pick of day or swing shift. Not wanting to give up my nights, I chose the day shift. I couldn't wait to begin.
The first thing to do was pick up what I would need to be a dealer. That consisted of an employee I.D. badge, a badge for holding my license, a nameplate, an access number (which was the same at the employee number), and the uniform. The uniform included three shirts, a bow tie, and an apron. As a part-time employee, Bally's only gave us three shirts while the full-time dealers received five. The apron was what went around the waist. Every joint made the dealer wear one. The object of the apron was not to appear as a comber bun, but to serve the benefit of the casinos. Its objective was to wrap around the pants pockets to discourage the dealers from sticking any checks down them. The bow tie was an option not every casino used. However, Bally's had a reason why they did. It seems that when Bally's Park Place first opened the dealers did not wear bow ties. Rather, they had open shirts. One day, on a slow game, a sharp Floorperson noticed that his green check count was one thousand dollars lower than it should have been. There was very little action on the game that day and the greens were hardly being used. He figured that someone on the crew must have been stealing the checks off it. He informed the Pitboss and the cameras were turned on. It turned out that one of the dealers stitched a pouch inside his shirt. While dealing, he would flip the checks into his open shirt where they would be caught by the pouch. Since that day the dealers at Bally's have always worn bow ties.
With everything now needed to be a dealer all I had to do was show up and begin working. My first day would be on the Monday before Memorial Day Monday. The weekend before that, I was to move into the condo.