Friday, March 9, 2012

LaVere Redfield

Another legend in Reno, LaVere Redfield. My first encounter with him almost cost me a job. I had been a dealer at the Nevada Club for a few weeks, had just turned out, and after a few weeks of training, when I had that little green apron on, well, I was very proud of myself.

One early morning, I was standing by an empty table, and a scroungy appearing man walked into the club. Well, with chest puffed out I motioned for security. Unfortunately, he was also new and started to move toward the man.

A loud noise erupted in the cashiers cage and one of the cashiers came dashing out to put a stop to the ejection. She then explained to me that the guy in the tattered jeans and threadbare wool shirt was none other than LaVere Redfield, multi millionaire eccentric and often a customer of the Nevada Club, who either won or lost a ton of money. And, I was going to throw him out. I learned a valuable lesson, never judge anyone by their appearance.

He often played the wheel, and as I understand it, Fitz let him "deal" his own game, with Mark  and Thelma Ganz in attendance, keeping an eye on the bets. The few times I saw him, he was just a player.

When he won, he wanted to be payed in silver dollars, and I have seen security officers wheeling bags of silver out to a truck to take to his home, and send the bags down a coal chute to his basement.

He has been known to ask a female dealer to have dinner with him, perhaps do a little wagering with him, and those I knew of personally were payed quite well, just to have dinner and spend the evening with him. I know of on one occasion he "dated" a stranger, who had an accomplice, left a door unlocked, and they got away with a small fortune which they took from his basement, coins and stocks and bonds.

After his death, his estate was valued at over 100 million dollars. I have on occasions seen him driving a fork lift at a lumber yard he owned,  old jeans and a plaid shirt. Wonder if he was buried that way.

Next time I will go into how I heard he made his first "bankroll" which got him started, interesting story and I think it is true. Got it from someone who knew him.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A good "group"

Came across an interesting "group," and have heard from a few of the members. We all seem to share an interest in Reno history. I imagine some of the old buildings in Carson City are there, probably Virginia City also, preserved for posterity. Yet, in Reno, most of the buildings that actually made Nevada what it is today, are all gone. Why did Harold's Club and the Nevada Club have to go?

Harold put Reno on the map. I wonder if all the new places have "air curtain" doors. You could walk that one block of Virginia street, go in every club, and not have to open one door. I remember on many occasions, I would see a face I recognized, wave a "Hi Grant," as the Governor walked by, or a wave to Bill Harrah when you saw him.

At Harold's and The Nevada Club, and others, a 21 dealer going on a break would open the little drawer on the table, take out their "tokes," and head out on a break. If the IRS got you for an audit, you would quickly make up a list of tokes, from memory, to to the IRS office, the subject of tokes would come up, he would throw out a date, a quick check of your list, "Ah,, on that day I made $7.50." Then he would mention that they had an agent in the club who gave you a $15 toke. He then would tear up your list. You were in trouble, they would come up with THEIR amount.

One time a 21 dealer from Harold's was in California for a few days, somehow did an interview with a reporter, got carried away and told the reporter how much she made in tokes, exaggerated the amount a bit to impress her. The IRS read it and used her figure as an estimate for all Harold's dealers. She was almost run out of town. Tokes were pretty good though, and in those days, silver dollars. Not uncommon for a dealer to have a dresser drawer full of silver. I had a glove box full on my car, good old days.