24/7: Living It Up and Doubling Down in the New Las Vegas

24/7: Living It Up and Doubling Down in the New Las Vegas

by Andres Martinez

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Overview

In the spring of 1998, mild-mannered, Ivy League-educated Andrés Martinez took $50,000--most of the advance his publisher was paying for this book--and headed to Las Vegas for thirty days, ten casinos, and a wild ride through the belly of a neon beast. The result: this brilliant, often hilarious chronicle of flesh, flash, and gambling in a city where everyone dreams of hitting the jackpot--and once in a while, someone actually does.

From seedy strip clubs to sprawling suburbs, from the sumptuous Bellagio to the Liberace Museum, Martinez meets a host of colorful characters...gathering tricks of the trade from blackjack dealers and fellow bleary-eyed gamblers, attending Easter Sunday mass on the Strip, befriending a family man who raised six kids while losing eight million dollars as a sports gambler. An exhilarating joyride of a read, 24/7 is a breathless tour of America's Sin City...as seen through the eyes of a man making $1.65 million in wagers in a single month. Guess how much he took home?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307828682
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/13/2013
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Before setting off to Vegas with his wad of traveler's checks, Andrés Martinez, a native of Mexico, had once been a sober journalist and attorney. He studied history at Yale University, obtained a master's degree from Stanford, and then earned a law degree from Columbia, where he made Law Review. After a judicial clerkship and a brief stint at a law firm, Martinez joined the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He has also been a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal. He lives in New York City with his wife, Kathy, and their cat, Trotsky. He is currently writing a novel.

Read an Excerpt

Walking into the Desert Inn Sheraton, which recently underwent a $200 million renovation, was a soothing experience. The seven-story vaulted lobby was all marble; the casino was nowhere in sight, and the hotel's only theme seemed to be "elegant Mediterranean resort." I think even my Vegas-loathing mother-in-law would like this place. The DI would qualify as a large hotel in most cities, but after the Luxor, which has six times as many rooms, it had the intimate feel of a boutique hotel.

My plush room in the main tower had a view of the pool and golf course. It didn't take long to realize this would be a tough stay, involving tough choices. I had two sinks and three phones at my command. The toiletries, I noticed, were stamped with one of those royal seals that indicate they had been concocted "by appointment" to some majesty, a cool concept I've always fallen for if never quite understood. I made a mental note to swipe them daily for Kat. After all, the room was setting me back $285 a night.

I picked up one of the three phones and called Citibank's toll-free number to report the loss of my credit card (something else I'd accomplished at Luxor). I felt sheepish asking to have a new card sent to me at a Las Vegas hotel, of all places. But instead of forwarding my call to the fraud department, the voice on the other end told me she, too, was in Las Vegas.

Citibank is one of Las Vegas's prized trophies in the uphill battle to diversify the local economy. To lure one of the New York giant's credit card processing centers, which now employs 1,700 people here, Nevada's legislature in 1984 passed a law allowing out-of-state banks to establish a Nevada subsidiary. And because Citibank felt queasy about the notoriety of its new address--would customers appreciate sending their hard-earned money off to what comedians have long called the city of Lost Wages?--the bank was allowed to call its parcel of land The Lakes, Nevada. I wonder if this geographic subterfuge would have been deemed necessary nowadays, Las Vegas having come such a long way in the past dozen years.

Citibank is not alone. Williams Sonoma and other companies also find Las Vegas an ideal location for call centers, and not just because of the low cost of living and welcoming tax climate. What makes this city ideal for an around-the-clock operation is its 24/7 casino-inspired culture. Residents don't think twice about being asked to work night shifts. Go off the Strip and ask a bartender, a grocery store manager, or a fitness club attendant what time their business closes, and they will look offended. "We're here twenty-four-seven," they'll respond--as in twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I find this all deeply appealing. I have never shopped for groceries at three in the morning, lifted weights at four, or driven to a friendly neighborhood bar at five, I must confess, but I'd find it comforting to know I could, if I wanted. Even when I was a child, those "Always Open" signs at Denny's invariably made me smile.

This 24/7 world has its own alluring language. People work either daytime, "swing," or "graveyard" shifts. At most casinos, daytime means noon to eight, swing is eight to four, and graveyard is four to noon. The swing shift is a casino's busiest, and the nightly migration of dealers and cocktail waitresses from the Strip back home (or to the neighborhood tavern or health club) makes Las Vegas's roads some of the most congested anywhere at four in the morning.

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