by Gene Trimble
Two short days ago, I was sitting around, racking my brain for an idea for this column. For the last four months, I have been lucky enough to have something to write about, that was important to the hobby. It made me feel important, also. It was not going to be easy to go back to the gibberish I had been writing for the last several years. What a let down! How would I ever cope with this ego demoralizing event in my journalistic career? It might be easier for me to jump off the "Top Of the Mint," if I could remember where the Mint used to be.
Fortunately there was a savior close at hand. I hate to admit it but it was my wife. She is the director of the Carnival Of Poker at the Rio and it was to start in a few days. To my amazement Rip Poulos called me and informed me he was coming to the Rio tournament. Not ground shaking news as far as my column goes but it would be good to see him. Just before he hung up and as an after thought he informed me he was bringing me a new Biloxi chip.
Whoa! That's column material. I will be important for one more month. Mr. Big Shot lives for 30 more days. I was elated! Wait a minute! Only one new chip? That will not fill a column. Hmmmmm! OK, OK, in my mind I formulated a plan. I will throw in a little important stuff and a little gibberish. These chip nerds will never know the difference. I have been getting away with it for years. There is no reason for them to catch me at it now.
Rip arrived at the Rio, played a satellite, won it, played the $500 limit hold-em tournament and proceeded to get busted in just a few hands. So that gave us plenty of time for dinner at the All American Grill.
I managed to pick his brain for a little more information on Biloxi casinos. The Grove chip I had in last month's column had a real weak hot stamp. It actually said Grove Club and is defiantly a Biloxi chip and should not be confused with The Grove in Vinton, LA. The Grove Club was on Hwy. 90, right on the beach close to where Treasure Bay is today. It was opened from the 1940's until the late 50's.
There were other clubs in Biloxi but Rip has not found chips from then as yet. Joe Simon's club had a chip with JS on it. The Merry Mansion was true to its name. It was in a huge mansion right on the beach. The Plaza was an upscale club also in Biloxi. When I heard the name The Plaza, I immediately thought of the mustard Plaza $1 Skey chip that some of us are attributing to the Union Plaza and others are attributing to Cuba. The owner of the Plaza is no longer with us but Rip does know his son. I am arming Rip with a picture of the Plaza Skey, in hopes the son can ID it for us.
The Red Carpet Club was also on the beach in Biloxi. This should not be confused with the Red Carpet Club listed in the Gaming table as Slidel La. Slidel is 50 miles from Biloxi and Rip has no knowledge of a Red Carpet there. The Red Carpet was in Rip's language a "Juice Joint." This was the 1st time I had heard this term used in years. A juice joint has crooked gambling. The term pertains mostly to craps. A large electro magnet is placed in the floor under the table. The dice will do what the operator wants them to do, when a pocket switch is activated. This is activated when a shooter is on a hot roll of the dice and the layout is full of chips. Walla, instant 7! An old timer from KY once told me he could make the dice jump right off the table, out the window, into the middle of the street and come up 7. I suspect he was exaggerating a little but maybe not much. Another old timer told me he had a "crap joint" that could be worn around the waist. An agent would wear it and sit around a bar pretending to be drunk. The old timer would then proceed to hustle a crap game among the other patrons. I never did figure out why crap shooters think 7 is a lucky number. The last time I shot craps was in the middle 80's and I never wanted to see a 7. Rip tells me the magnet was found when the Red Carpet was tore down. If you think the odds on gambling are tough to beat today, what do you think your chances were back then? Legalized gaming and Gaming Commissions have put the makers of such devices out of business.
The owners of the Red Carpet were Harry Bennett and Dewey De'Angelo. The "Juice" was brought to Biloxi from Oklahoma by Jimmy James and installed in 1960. The Red Carpet closed in 1962. All three men involved met untimely deaths. Harry was shot down in front of his apartment right on the beach. Dewey was found in the trunk of his car also with gunshot wounds but I doubt he died a quick death. His ear had been cut off and stuffed in his mouth. My guess is Dewey was bending the wrong ears with too much information. Jimmy also met an assassin's bullet. The deaths are well documented in the Biloxi papers and had more to do with drugs than the ripping off of a few crap shooters at the Red Carpet. There is a lot of speculation on whether the Dixie Maffia did in fact exist, as an entity. If there was such a thing as the Dixie Maffia it was not very forgiving in 1962, per the newspapers of the day.
Rip has found two different Red Carpet Club chips. One yellow and one purple, both are Large Squares mold.
At this point, I guess I will throw the ball back in Rip's court. Come up with another chip or I will be reduced to faking a column for next month. Just in case you do not, "Thank You." You have been a major help to the hobby.
I welcome your comments at email@example.com
Back to Part II