Andrew here, and thanks for visiting my corner of the internet. I thought I should use this page to tell you a little about myself. If nothing else, it might give credence to why I will write about some of these things, and give some context to what made me who I am today.
I was born in Salt Lake City Utah, and spent the first nineteen years of my life in the upper middle class suburbs of the Salt Lake Valley. The first question I always get asked when I say I’m from Utah, of course, is if I’m Mormon. No, I’m not. My family is from California, so I wasn’t genetically predisposed to Utah’s primary religion. Occasionally, someone will genuinely wonder if it was difficult growing up when I wasn’t like a lot of the kids around me. Truthfully, it was quite difficult. I was a well mannered kid, so in the eyes of my peers and their families, I must have belonged to the church right? Wrong. Suffice it to say that usually when someone found out that I wasn’t Mormon, they’d stop talking to me, or at the very least back up, a lot. I could probably write a book on the dynamics of growing up the way I did in the environment I did, but that’s not why we’re here.
When I was six years old, my parents had the good sense to let me get into martial arts. I didn’t know much about it, but the flyer I got from school made me want to try it out. None of us would have guess that I’d devote the next fifteen years of my life to it. I was a dedicated student of the art, training in different systems, traveling around the country competing, and making lifelong friends. I even amassed over fifteen national titles and a hall of fame induction for the league I competed in. When I was young, it was the time of my life. Now that I’ve grown, there’s no mistaking that marital arts is where I learned integrity, discipline, calm demeanor in the face of adversity. Frankly, most of my positive characteristics came from my years in martial arts.
I probably would have continued my martial arts lifestyle into my adult years if I had stayed in Salt Lake. When I was nineteen though, I saw an opportunity to make a life change and I took it. I was in a phase where I didn’t feel like Salt Lake was the right place for me. I met a girl who lived in Mesquite, Nevada, and things got serious with her fast. I was looking for an excuse to leave my hometown and found it. I moved out and started living on my own in a small town, finding out what it’s like to be an adult.
When you’re young, you try your hand at lots of different jobs. My last job in Salt Lake was making countertops, so I tried to start there. I went from that, to cabinets, to being a kitchen designer, to being a materials tester on construction sites, until 2007, when the world took a giant dump on everyone and the construction industry everywhere almost completely collapsed. Our little town of Mesquite fared no better.
Eight months of feeling lost in the unemployment limbo had me dejected, defeated, desperate even. When you live in a small town, the classified ads in the newspaper don’t take up much room. Options were slim, until the day I saw an ad in the paper from the local casino.
About My Journey In the Gaming Business
That ad in the paper told me that the local casino was searching for a pit clerk. I had no idea what that was, but it paid $11 an hour, and that was more than unemployment, so I called them up. I spent money I barely had on a dress shirt and tie for the interview. Being in construction all my adult life, which was only a few years at that point, I’d never needed such things.
It worked. The manager said I was the only one who showed up in a tie. It sounded like I got the job based on almost that alone. I figured since it landed me the job, I better get a couple more. My dad let me borrow a few of his (the ones that were tolerable) too. I became the casinos first tie wearing pit clerk. That $11 an hour job changed my life.
After a few months of that, when it got slow over the summer, some of the dealers started showing me how to deal. I was getting advice from everywhere. Because the pit clerk works so close with the managers and supervisors, I knew which dealers not to listen to because I always heard them talking smack on the ones who weren’t good. I was determined not to be one of those! I learned how to deal taking the best tidbits from the best dealers. That sort of learning environment isn’t always available, so I knew I was lucky.
Apparently I was good too. The bosses were noticing how fast I was learning the games and how well I knew them. That led to getting promoted to supervisor fairly quickly, to the chagrin of some of the people around me who had watched me start as a pit clerk.
That’s about the time I met Mark Stevens and started one of the wildest rides a guy could ask for. There’s not near enough room to put it all here. Luckily, the exciting tales of the card counting pit bosses are well documented in my book, The Blackjack Insiders: How Two Pit Bosses Beat the Casinos At Their Own Game. If you haven’t read the book, you can get it here.
That journey led me to moving to Las Vegas, working downtown as a floor supervisor. When I got hired to open a casino on the Las Vegas strip, I thought I’d hit the bigtime. Working on the Strip for a major gaming company taught me about the service side of the business. Everywhere I’d been before was all about technical skills, hands per hour, doing everything by the book. Procedure, procedure, procedure! The Strip taught me about the entertainment aspect. Keeping people in their chairs and having fun is just as important as the technical aspects I already knew.
The small town casinos, downtown, the Strip, traveling the country playing, and writing the book, has led me to what I what I really love to do. I love to share knowledge. I was incredibly lucky to have the mentor I had when I was learning the business. The idea that I could be that for other people, pass on some of what I know, some of what I’ve learned, is invigorating and exciting. I’m not sure where all that will lead me, but I can’t wait to find out!