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Cowpoke Heaven

Cowpoke Heaven

Exactly four years ago, I wrote a bit in this space about how I inadvertently went to Las Vegas during National Finals Rodeo week and found myself surrounded by cowboys, all a-hootin’ and a-hollerin’ and a-singin’ about how their gal had left them and done run off with a chartered accountant from Manchester. (That was a song by Toby Keith, wasn’t it?)

Well, last month, I did it again. I like to go to Las Vegas when it’s normally cold in the East, so I booked my Vegas flight and looked for rooms. Never mind that it was freezing that week in Vegas. My normal spot, the South Point, was all booked.

As it turns out, it was booked with cowboys. Rodeo week. But that’s OK, because I could just stay at Sam’s Town, the place once known as “Sam’s Town Gambling Hall, Saloon and Western Emporium.” No cowboys there, right?

Anyway, I knew I had done a column on this subject before, so I decided to search for it, since I don’t ever want to do the same jokes in two separate columns, because that would be against my motto, which is: “Never The Same Joke In Two Separate Columns.” (Wait a minute. Did I do that joke before?)

The first thing I noticed after instituting a Google search for “Frankly Speaking” and “cowboy” was that there are a lot of columns, books and other pieces of prose titled “Frankly Speaking.” Practically everyone named Frank who has a column calls it Frankly Speaking. (If they don’t call it “Perfectly Frank,” which is the name of the other monthly column I write.)

I had known about my fellow gaming writer Frank Scoblete’s column—which I found out about shortly after we named this one Frankly Speaking. (Sorry about that, Frank.) But there’s also Frank Jordan’s Frankly Speaking newspaper column in Liberty, Texas (hence finding one with the word “cowboy”), Frank Villadinar’s Frankly Speaking internet column (he did one called “A Cowboy Named Bud”), and the Frankly Speaking Buffalo Bills blog, in which the author calls himself “the voice of a weenie in the wilderness.”

And my two personal favorites: “In My Diary,” by Anne Frankly Speaking (I swear I didn’t make that up); and the book Circumcision: Frankly Speaking. (Ouch!) I didn’t read the book to find out how cowboys figured into that one. (Probably just as well.)

I eventually found my January 2008 column by simply searching the archives on our own website. (Duh!) So, anyway, I’ll try not to repeat any jokes. But as I said back then, I’m not anti-cowboy (I just don’t want my babies to grow up to be them), and I love the West. One of my favorite movies four years ago was 3:10 to Yuma, and this year, it’s Cowboys and Aliens, which I feel will make one heck of a slot machine some day.

In any event, all of Hank Junior’s rowdy friends were in Vegas that week. I walked into the casino (or “casinah,” as the cowboys say), and I was in the middle of Sam’s Town Saloon, Western Emporium and Gol-Dern Fancy Hootenanny. The first thing I saw was a mechanical bull. It was a temporary mechanical bull, apparently shipped in from a mechanical corral somewhere, set up in the middle of the casino, surrounded by an inflated structure that I believe is called a “BEE-hind Catcher,” for when the bull throws you on your BEE-hind.

Every night I was there, Sam’s Town was awarding $500 to the cowpoke who stayed on the mechanical bull the longest without getting thrown on said BEE-hind. I know this because every 10 minutes while I was sitting at my video poker machine, a loudspeaker blasted the chief cowpoke’s voice out calling for new contestants, at a volume I can only describe as the probable volume of the voice of God. It scared the bejesus out of me.

No, I didn’t try my luck on the bull. I’ve got a weak back. (Since about a week back.) (Sorry.) Seriously, I even quit riding amusement rides with my kids after I slipped a disk back at age 34. Thirty seconds on a mechanical bull would turn me into a hideous, twisted freak.

Eventually, I got used to playing video poker at the continuous hoedown, and even got used to the ubiquitous twangy cowboy music. I had a great time. And I won money. That always fixes everything, doesn’t it?

So, to all you cowpokes out there, have a rip-roarin’, shin-diggin’, GIT-tar strummin’ happy new year.

And here’s hopin’ yer gal don’t leave you.

Frank Legato is editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the books, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying, and Atlantic City: In Living Color.  

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