The Nasons went to Sammy Schrader. You might know the name as Sammy was the
Cleveland Syndicates man in Northern Ky. He operated Beverly Hills after they
took it away from Peter Schmidt in 1940. Sammy introduced the Nason's to Gilbert
Smollen. I think you will find that Gilbert was a part owner of the Desert
Inn when it opened in 1950. A deal was struck. Cleveland would supply the
bankroll and receive a payment each month. The Nason's and Bauer would run
the casino as partners but Bauer would be the front man. Bauer was legit and
the respectability was needed in Branch Hill. I feel certain you will scoff
when I tell you what Cleveland gave our 3 heroes for a bankroll. $4,100! Years
later Gilbert Smollen told Danny what Cleveland had invested in the deal.
It was to pay expenses only. The gambling would take care of itself as you
will see. The building was painted and the inside was redecorated. Velvet
drapes were hung everywhere. Instant success!
The theory was, If they built it right, the elite would come. The theory
proved to be true. It opened as a small invited only club and blossomed into
the forerunner to Beverly Hills. When Frank Conforti worked there, they had
6 crap tables, 3 roulette wheels, 20 BJ tables, 2 hazard tables, poker tables,
a faro bank and slots. The slots would prove to be a bad idea, as you will
see. Big name entertainers of the day appeared at the club.
I have reason to believe, the JSB chips were used in the poker games, but
I can not prove it, yet. The scanned chip is one of the chips recovered recently
by John Benedict.
Was the gambling on the up and up? It was not. I am a little perplexed by
this. I have 1st hand knowledge of at least 4 other casinos the Nasons operated.
The gaming in all 4 was strictly on the up and up. I think I can explain this
difference in part 4 of this series.
Many clubs of this era did use "devices" when there was an opportunity to
make a decent score. They considered these devices to be just plain "Good
Business." I would have no idea how many old timers I have spoken to over
the years. Not one of them ever considered these devices, when used by the
house, as cheating. They always called it "gambling with an edge." It was
cheating, only when a customer brought them into the games. It was common
courtesy to tell a friend "Best not to shoot tonight, the dice are cold."
The area is known for some of the best blackjack mechanics in the world.
At times the clubs would employ them and at times they would use their skills
against the house. Some roulette wheels in this era had batteries. No chance
was taken with a dead battery in the middle of a big hand. The batteries powered
a small needle. When needed, the needle would jet out and knock the ball in
a desired number. The balls had to be changed regularly as they would get
too many small pings in them from the needle.
House men at the crap tables were know as "Buster," as in Buster Bob or Buster
John. A busters job was, what else? He ran in the dice. The stick men also
used a special stick. When the end was turned, a set of "The dice of the Week"
would drop out to the shooter. Many types of crooked dice were used including
Tappers, Tops, Double 5's, 6 Ace Flats, and Splitters.
I guess this was a little early in time for the electro magnet described
in my story of the Red Carpet in Biloxi Ms. In this era, a casino operator
(or anyone else for that matter) could buy dice that would guarantee or eliminate
any number the dice can roll. Tappers are unique as they have very small channels
drilled into the dice. The channels are half filled with Mercury. If a "Buster"
wanted to throw a seven, he would hold the dice with the 1 and a 6 up and
tap the dice on the table a couple of times. This would settle the mercury.
Next he gives them the old heave ho. Instant 7!!
I have known for some time that crooked dice were made by some of the big
name distributors of the era. I now have proof. I have a 1930's catalog from
the Kansas City Card CO, owned by the Mason CO, (hub mold). It advertises
all versions of crooked devices, for sale. I also am aware of a shipment of
Splitters that was sent to a casino in MS from Christy Jones in Las Vegas.
The package was returned to CJ unopened, by accident. Federal authorities
tracked the shipment and used the information to obtain warrants. They raided
CJ offices and several joints on the gulf coast. Jones Brothers in New Orleans
was so notorious for making crooked dice, the local operators would not buy
square dice from them. I have been told about catalogs from HC Edward's containing
the same hot little items.
By 1935 the Arrowhead was on a roll. Big name entertainment, plus the elite
did not mind losing their money in plush surroundings. Joe Bauer and the Nason's
were a good team. Cleveland and the powers that be in Clermont County were
paid each month. By 1937, the only club to rival the Arrowhead was right across
the river, Peter Schmidt's Beverly Hills in Southgate, Ky. Unfortunately,
1937 also proved to be the beginning of the end for The Arrowhead.
I promised the rise and the demise of the Arrowhead in this column. I also
promised the Nason's ties to Las Vegas. One out of three ain't bad! One little
clue, next months column could be titled "The Bag Man Did It." But I have