[Note: Season 1 of Colin Jones will resume next time, and there is further good news: Netflix and GWAE have announced that Colin Jones is renewed for Season 2!]
A few times per year, my elderly parents used to make the drive from New Jersey to Boston. Like all old people who haven’t grasped the power of the “cellular telephone,” they would stock the car with snacks, bottled water, batteries, blankets, and other survivalist items, just in case the 4-hour drive turned into nuclear winter. They—meaning my daddy—would also use old-school paper diagrams of the land and roads, that they called “maps” (before the word earned a capital letter). The map was marked with an asterisk in Connecticut for a particular rest stop—the one that had immaculate bathrooms.
As an AP, I’ve used casino bathrooms as a second office. In a pinch, the bathroom is the quickest, safest place to reload a BP (cash/chip reloads should never be done under the open sky on the casino floor), count chips, strategize with a teammate (there might be no cell phone reception in the casino), and sometimes hide. I once had to do a quick change of clothes to effect my escape from an imminent backoff at a tribal property. I left my hat, shirt, and pants in a bathroom stall.
Many of us APs spend a lot of time on the road, which is a separate life within AP. The speed traps in Capay and Onawa. The GWAE podcasts. The voice chats on Discord. And for some, the piss jugs. Avoiding the PJs might explain the growing popularity of Buccee’s. Sure, Buccee’s gives you a choice from dozens of identical gas pumps, and salt-water taffy, fudge, and brisket, all under one roof. But for the road-weary AP, Buccee’s is just a clean, well-lighted place, including the bathrooms.
So it is not without thought and experience that I’ve come to have a deep appreciation for bathrooms and the workers who keep those bathrooms clean. Even the toke hustlers who set up shop in Vegas bathrooms add value (in a nightclub bathroom, those little toiletries and “amenities” can be really valuable FTW!).
Instead of paying them higher wages, society has recognized the tremendous value added by such workers by giving them loftier job titles. When I was a kid, there was a “janitor” at school. Apparently that term has an unrefined connotation, so we’ve upgraded that to “custodian,” or “bathroom attendant,” or “Executive VP of Custodial Services.” In casinos, I think these workers might just be “Maintenance Technicians” as part of that department.
I have not heard anyone use the label “AP” for these workers, despite the fact that they make money at the casino. So what is an “AP”? That question has been coming up a lot lately, in particular as it pertains to machine players, many of whom learn a simple fact or two by following someone’s Twitter account, and then go out picking up some money at the casino.
Before I delve into the debate, let me issue a disclaimer: My comments are not a fox-and-grapes condemnation of those players who are currently making tons of money in machine play (MP). I’ve been recommending to new APs that they make sure their portfolio includes machine revenue. MP is widely available, can be quite lucrative, has a short startup time, allows for solo execution, and is somewhat scalable. So to me, this is not a debate regarding the merits of the activity, per se, but moreso the labeling. Should a machine player be called an “AP”? (And when I talk about MPs, I’m not talking about the analysts who derive strategies, sometimes performing statistical analysis after collecting data. I’m talking about those players who read a tweet or watch a three-minute YouTube video and then go out and collect money.)
Let me tell you a Vegas story. Back in the day, when Steve Wynn was Vegas’s favored son, he was quite hands-on with the management of his casinos. He didn’t like the fact that some of his employees were, in his opinion, overpaid for the job. To that end, he tried to take a cut out of the dealer toke pool, and redistribute the shaved money to floorpeople who weren’t getting a piece of those tokes. And if some of the shaved money boosted the casino’s bottom line, that was a plus.
The move to shave the dealer toke pool received widespread press coverage, lawsuits, and all the expected pushback from the dealers. <rant>“It’s so hard standing up 6 hours per day. And we have to deal with unruly, drunk, abusive customers. You have no idea how hard this job is. We earn our $90k and then some. You should actually pay us a higher minimum wage. And our tokes are a birthright. What? You say you have a PhD and don’t even make $90k? Well whose fault is that, brainiac? Not ours! You know we get yelled at by drunks, right?”</rant>
What didn’t get a lot of press coverage was Steve Wynn’s idea on cutting costs for the custodial staff. Here’s the summary of the never-before-published white paper that was leaked to our GWAE “investigative journalists” (please don’t call us “bloggers” or “trolls”). So the janitors are making $20/hour or more, on top of benefits. To make things worse, they’re all joining a union. At this point, they barely even do much work. The faucets, towel dispensers, and hot-air hand dryers are all automated. Even though the janitors fill out a log and swipe their ID to indicate when they’ve supposedly cleaned the bathroom, their main function is just to make sure the toilets and urinals are flushed, because it looks really bad if a customer sees some leftovers. So these unionized janitors are just pressing a button from time to time, and they’re making over $20/hour doing it, and it takes no training whatsoever. Idea: The casino can crowdsource the janitorial services.
Following the leak of this white paper, a Twitter account widely followed in the MP community (@SteveWynnIsNotGreedy) tweeted this sensitive info: “The Wynn has installed several new wongable machines. If you go behind the high-limit Regal Room to the even-more-high-limit private Los Banos Room, you’ll see they’ve installed a dozen Pool of Gold machines, and four Triple Ultimate Royal Diamond machines. I don’t know the manufacturer, because they’re not obviously labeled, but they’re quite distinctive with a modern chrome and white porcelain housing. The TURD machines can be played in private booths, but the Pool of Gold machines are along the wall of the Los Banos Room. Swipe your card when you go in to make sure you earn the reward. If you see a Pool of Gold machine with any golden pool accumulated at all, then it’s positive EV. Just push the button until the golden pool is cleared. At that point, your card is awarded a random amount of free play. It looks like the minimum is $1 per golden pool cleared, but I’ve seen as high as $4, and the average seems to be around $1.50. Since you can easily find three golden pools per hour, that’s maybe $5/hour. By the way, the graphics are so impressive that some MPs say that it almost feels like the machine splashes them when they play. What’s crazy is that the plops put the machine into golden shower mode, and then they just walk away, leaving the accumulated golden pool. Idiots!”
“Then there are the Triple Ultimate Royal Diamond machines. You’re looking for a machine that has at least one TURD symbol. If there are three TURD symbols, you’ll get a higher bonus. These plops just sit down on those machines, leave three TURDs and get up and leave! Morons! I’ve also seen a machine that had three TURDs and a golden pool, but I couldn’t verify if that gives you a bonus multiplier. Just keep clicking until the symbols clear. Usually it takes only one click! I estimate that the four TURD machines would generate an additional $8/hour. The plops don’t seem to be wising up, and competition isn’t too bad, so it’s pretty steady. We just need more of these machines. Not sure why everyone isn’t jumping on this sh**.”
Think about the guy that Steve Wynn fired. Each day, that guy drove to the casino. He would put in eight hours, though not all active work, of course. There’s a lot of walking around. He did his best to increase his earnings by joining the union, and proudly carried his union card. His “work” consisted of pushing a button from time to time. He earned $20/hour, with no variance, and his “graph” went steadily up, definitely positive. He was called a “janitor” or “custodian.”
What about the new guy who showed up when Steve Wynn crowdsourced the task through incentivization? Each day, this guy drives to the casino. He puts in his eight hours, though not all active work, of course. There’s a lot of walking around. He does his best to increase his earnings by joining the rewards club, and carries his Platinum Card around his neck. His “work” consists of pushing a button from time to time. He earns about $13/hour, with variance, and his graph goes erratically up, very likely positive. He’s called an “AP”?