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Howdy, Pardner

Howdy, Pardner

If you are a frequent reader of this column (I know I am), you know that I’ve often said how I love going to Las Vegas, particularly during winter months when I can leave my normal Nor’easter-slopped shoreline in Atlantic City and go to where it’s sunny and dry.
   
That’s why I went out of my way this year to make sure to book my usual December trip West, to work for a week in our Las Vegas office. I had my pilot fire up the old Global Gaming Business corporate jet, had my valet pack my finest duds, and hopped in my limo for the drive to the airport.
   
OK, so I threw some clothes in a suitcase and drove to the airport in a ’94 Ford so I could fly coach on US Airways (motto: “Sit Back And Let Us Torture You.”). But anyway, I got to Las Vegas after a nice, quiet flight to find…
   
Cowboys. Thousands of cowboys. Cowboys everywhere, a-hootin’ and a-hollerin’ and a-havin’ just-a-pinch-between-yer-cheek-and-gums fun. To my horror, it was the week of the big National Finals Rodeo at the Thomas “N” Mack Center.
   
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against cowboys, really. I mean, I’m sure we need a certain number of these “boys who deal with cows,” just so the cows get dealt with. I’ve got no problem with the Western mystique, either. Heck, I saw 3:10 to Yuma twice.
   
And, if you’ve ever been to a rodeo, it is obvious that some truly amazing skills are involved in what these cowboys do. You could offer me a trillion dollars in cash, but I still could never toss a rope around the back feet of a running animal while riding on the back of another running animal—or, for that matter, stay perched atop a very large, humpy, horned critter while said critter is completely freaking out, in a frenzied attempt to cause me to fall off his back and break my neck.
   
I respect what those cowboys in the ring of the National Finals Rodeo do. (By the way, shouldn’t it be “National Rodeo Finals?” Was the event created by a dyslexic person?) However, I went to Las Vegas to work, and of course, to play video poker. As I normally do, I stayed at the Silverton, because it’s about seven minutes from our Las Vegas office.
   
As I soon found out, though, the  Silverton also is apparently the epicenter of activity for fans of the National Finals Rodeo. The hotel (pronounced, for that particular week in December, “HO-tel”) was packed with more cowboys than Dodge City at the end of a cattle drive.
   
These weren’t the same cowboys who can throw a lasso around a steer’s feet, either. These were largely modern business types who like to put on a gazillion-gallon Stetson, jeans (“DUNG-arees”) and very uncomfortable-looking cowboy boots, and strut around line-dancing, pretending they’re in Texas.
   
Even that didn’t bother me, though. Everyone in a cowboy hat I encountered was friendly, and quite willing to slap me on the back and say “Howdy.”
   
It was the music.
   
I’m a blues guy and a jazz guy, mainly, with a dose of ancient rock and roll thrown in for good measure. However, while I played video poker all week in my most-frequently visited casino, I was subjected to a constant barrage of cowboy music. I love bluegrass, but that’s the “Country” side of Country & Western. This was just the “Western” side, with twangy voices singing about a-sittin’ in their pickup trucks, a-cryin’ ‘cause their darlin’ done left. It all sounds like the same voice, too. I think they share one singer, and just switch off the lyrics about a-heartache and a-sufferin.’
   
Night after night I played video poker, and night after night I heard what sounded like the same five songs. One singer was sittin’ on the hood of his truck a-watchin’ the airplanes go by. (That cowpoke needs to get a life.) Another singer kept telling me, every night, that he had been “married 10 years to the farmer’s daughter.” (I wish she’d leave him already. At least he’d have to write a new song.) After about the fourth night of this, I was ready to take a six-shooter and put a bullet in my own head.
   
That wasn’t the worst of it, though. Three in the morning one night, I was awakened by a much more basic call of the cowboy, outside my hotel room window: “YEEEEE-hah!” I did not sleep the rest of that night, but not because of that. It’s because I’m married 10 years to the farmer’s daughter, and my darlin’ done left. AAAGH!
   
Anyway, I just wanted you to know I got through everything fine, in case you were worried—and that, next year for my annual December Vegas trip, I’m staying at the Hard Rock.
   
Happy New Year, and for all of us at GGB:
   
YEEE-hah!

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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