Thursday, September 2, 2010

Italia Trip Report #4 - Pescare Fuori di Acqua (Fish Out of Water)

by: the Admiral

Those of you that know me personally can attest to the fact that I am usually in my element in a casino. This was not the case at the Casino Venezia. No pictures are allowed inside, but its a very classy place on the Grand Canal that I imagine is very similar to what a casino in Monaco or Monte Carlo may look like. The smoking lounge overlooked the Grand Canal and looked like a grand ballroom out of a Renaissance castle. The casino was relatively busy, but was quiet as can be and every gambler in the room looked like James Bond. The dealers and pit bosses wore real tuxedos, not the Vegas faux tuxedos.

The fish out of water experience popped up very early in my Venetian Casino Adventure. After being denied entrance to the Casino Venezia on my previous trip to Venice 6 years ago because I was wearing shorts I felt ready with my nice slacks, pressed shirt, and shined shoes. But just as I started to walk up the staircase to the casino the Sicurezza (Security) stopped me in my tracks to let me know that gentlemen were required to wear a jacket. After a mix of both panic and disappointment started to sink in I was relieved when they told me that they would be happy to help me look the part of a gentleman by lending me a jacket at the coat check.

They did require a 50 Euro deposit, a copy of my passport, and a urine sample, but I was happy that my casino adventure was not going to be cut short again this trip. Although this bump in the road wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened, it was slightly embarrassing. I felt like the douchebag guy that always wanders into the high roller room where I'm gambling in Las Vegas who the pit boss has to walk up to and say, "Sir, maybe you would be more comfortable at one of our lower stakes tables." Anyway, I was now all set with my nice slacks, pressed shirt, shined shoes, and borrowed jacket with sleeves that were too short and I walked up 4 flights of stairs to the casino floor.

It took me some time to get into my groove. I was thrown off by the fact that it was busy but also deathly silent and no families from the Midwest were cutting through the table games wearing mesh tank tops and fanny packs. I nervously gambled at blackjack & roulette in a manner much meeker than I am used to for about an hour.

I then had about 11 beers and sat down next to a really annoying couple from New Jersey and started to feel more at home. Starting to believe that I was at Resorts Atlantic City and the beer buzz fooling me into thinking my Italian was fluent I started to bring out all of the old classics lines that have made me a darling (or jackass depending on who you ask) in casinos throughout North America.

Line 1 – The Coaster

Although drinking and blackjack go together like Nick Lachey and 2005 Matt Leinhart, for some reason blackjack tables do not come with cup holders. I’ve stained so many blackjack tables with spilled drinks that stock in Shout Stain Remover actually goes up a point when I book airfare to Las Vegas. In Vegas, regardless of how many times you spill your drink, they just bring you new ones. At the Casino Venezia its not quite the same.

Dealer: Il signore, lei non può mettere la sua birra sulla tavola. (Sir, you can not put your beer on the table)

To which I respond by knocking over and spreading out all the Euro chips I’ve won all over the table, placing my beer on top of that and saying…

Me: Farla sa ciò che fa un buono sottobicchiere. I lotti e molti frammenti. (You know what makes a good coaster. Lots and lots of chips.)

Line 2 – The Superstitious BAM!

In BJ when you are dealt an Ace to start that is good, and when the dealer comes back around with your 2nd card you are looking for a 10. This gives you a blackjack and you win automatically. Superstition is an important part of gambling and my blackjack superstition is that anytime I get dealt an Ace for my first card and need a 10 for blackjack, a split second before the dealer drops my second card I slam the table violently and say....

Me: Il BAM!! (BAM!!)

Line 3 – Let’s Be Friends

Now, when the dealer starts with an Ace or a 10 that is bad. Whenever this happens I let the dealer know, whether they are Italian or American, that I do not approve by saying…

Me: Voglio amarla la signorina, non lo fa duro. (I want to like you Miss, don't make it hard.)

Line 4 – The Reluctant Color Up

There is nothing better that hitting a hot streak at blackjack. If your heater lasts long enough you can actually win most or all of the green $25 chips that the dealer has in the house tray. This is usually no big deal. When a gambler has lots of $25 chips in front of them the dealer politely asks them to exchange a portion of them for black $100 chips. If you win most of the $100 chips they just politely ask you exchange them for orange $500 “pumpkins” so that they can replenish their tray. If for whatever reason the house tray gets too low for all denominations then a security guard, usually a scary looking one over 6’5” and 350 pounds carrying a sidearm, will walk up with a locked tray, refill the trips, and have the dealer sign off on it. Now, whether I’m in Atlantic City, the Detroit Motor City Casino, or the uber fancy Casino Venezia I always rebuff the polite requests from dealers and pit bosses to “color up”. It’s just bad karma. In Italian, the exchange goes like this…

Dealer: Siamo fuori da di $25 frammenti di Euro, ho bisogno di lei per commerciarli in per $100 frammenti di Euro. (We are out of $25 Euro chips, could you please trade yours in for $100 Euro chips.)

To which I respond by looking at the dealer like they are a space alien asking for a kidney and saying…

Me: Non coloro su. Se lei ha bisogno di più 20s di Euro poi la chiamata sopra l'individuo grande con la pistola ed i frammenti e l'ha ricarica il suo vassoio. (I'm not coloring up. If you need more 25 Euro chips then call over the big guy with the gun and the chips and have him refill your tray.)

On this particular night this was the one that got me in trouble. My Italian is not as fluent as I thought and I think what I really said was, "If you want my chips, you need to think about the big gun in my pocket.".

I had tuxedos closing in on me from all angles and I got the hell out of there. I was the best dressed signori running at breakneck speed towards Piazza San Marco looking for the Hotel Splendid Venice. I snuck back into the casino the next day to get the 50 Euro deposit back on the too small loaner jacket.


  1. For anyone that's ever been to a casino, this story is full of adrenaline and fast-paced bravado. My only complaint is that the writer left me waining for more. "You know what makes a good coaster. Lots and lots of chips."

  2. I should have also mentioned; when you say "lots and lots of chips" you also have to wave you hands over the table like Mr. Miyagi teaching wax on, wax off.

  3. Too funny! me and ma have been laughing all morning.

  4. ma said u r so busy writing all these things u have no time to bring me my mail.

  5. I hate it when people in other countries don't "do like we do".