Dominic Mah is a writer, director, and ex-professional gambler. He is currently prepping and fundraising to shoot a movie, a feature-length dark-comedy-type-movie. He also blogs about pop culture, girl problems, casinos, and Robotech at http://dommah.com/. Mispronounced in the right way, his name is a strong Vietnamese curse word.
A recap: California casinos are specially-regulated dens of gambling which originated as cardrooms for poker and expanded to include the so-called “Asian” games: modified versions of blackjack, pai gow poker, baccarat. They tend to be in the tax-revenue-hungry cities of East and South LA, wherein the Cirque Du Soleil shows are few. The main differences between Cali casinos and Vegas or Indian casinos is a) you have to pay a service charge for placing a bet, because usually you’re not playing against the house, you’re playing against the corporation banker (that was my job….more on that later), and b) unlike Vegas, which only has Tons of Asians, Cali casinos have a 24/7 Gigantic Horde of Tons of Asians. Asians rule these joints with their own special insane gambler subculture, which I’ll be discussing in this series. Any social progress you think the people have made over the last few centuries is instantly rolled back the second you step into the place, which has rules and laws, but they are all basically Mongol Horde rules and laws. Here are 6 Asian Stereotypes That Are Actually Proved True Inside California Casinos:
1. Asians are shifty. A general stereotype of Asians is that they have good manners, but are secretly plotting your destruction. In the casino the manners vary, but the plotting is always going on. Casino Asians lie, cheat, hustle, and scheme. They will tell you anything. They will steal anything not nailed to your body. They do worse things. Most notably, one of the casino floor supervisors got his own segment on America’s Most Wanted for a certain heinous murder. In my dealings with him prior to his becoming a fugitive, I always thought he was one of the nicer staff members in the casino. He always had a big smile for everyone.
2. Chinese people are taking over the world. I actually don’t want to say too much about this on a public forum, that’s how much they are taking over the world. I’ll digress to:
2A. Chinese people no speak good English. In the real world we’re getting past the point of yokels assuming that Asians speak bad English, but in the casino we are not past that point. The casino has its own special language, and it is not exactly English. Casino creole is one of those beautiful things that cut straight to the point. There’s no worrying the if, ands, and buts that sorta-kinda clutter our “fluent” English. The only essential English-y phrases in the Cali casino are:
- “My money!/Give my money!” – this is self-explanatory I hope.
- “Nobody know.” – a general phrase to explain away unpleasant things, like losing and procedural mistakes. The underlying mantra of the casino.
- “Brother/Sister/Papa/Mama/Man” – standard address/honorifics for strangers depending on age and gender. Actually, “Man” is male or female, for some reason.
- “Go home make baby.” – slang for leaving the casino to do something smarter, like have sex.
Sample Dialogue for Practice: “Why my money lose, man?” “Sister, it’s gamble, nobody know.” “Ai ya, I go home make baby.” “Thank you thank you! Better luck tomorrow!”
(I’m just kidding, they don’t really say that last thing.)
3. Vietnamese people are tough customers. Most Cali casinos, if they’re doing their job right, have a large customer base of “Mamas:” Vietnamese women in their 50s-60s with boob jobs, other depreciating facial surgeries, and baaaaad attitude. I always assumed they were from a generation that lived through a major war, and so now they just do not give a pho. I mean, you can’t tell these ladies sh—t. They will grab money from your hand and then scream directly into your face until you drop the issue. Then they will eat your food (while still screaming), argue, spit, light random things on fire, and later, slap each other around for practice. I’m telling you, you have not lived until you’ve seen two elderly Asian mamas trying to punch each other in the head. I believe the disputed issue was who may have left an unlucky pubic hair in someone’s food as an intentional curse. Anyway, the point is, if I have a stereotype of someone I don’t want to fight because they will fight you with the last tooth or fingernail or tendril of spit in their body, it is any Vietnamese person.
4. Japanese people are smart. Oddly, every Asian nationality is represented in the Cali casino, except Japanese. Why? Japanese people love to gamble, as any fool who’s seen “Kikujiro” can tell you. However, inside the Cali casino, you’ll see maybe 1 Japanese player for every 200 million Cambodian players (I don’t know if there are 200 million Cambodians in the world, but you know what I’m saying.) Why? Because going to any of these places, which are costly, shady, dangerous, and disgusting, is a terrible, terrible idea. And Japanese people are the smart ones.
(As a Chinese dayshift dealer once put it to me, “Japanese, better at everything. Money, smart, everything. Except, they PERVERTS. That only problem.” I think that pretty much sums it up.)
5. Korean people are dramatic. Koreans know how to make an entrance. And an exit. And spend the intervening time causing as much drama as possible. Most of this is fueled by alcohol and the passion of gambling. An example is this one Korean lady that I’ll just call Coco. (OK, I’m calling her that because that’s her name, but I’m sure it’s not her actual name, just her nom du gamble, so it should be cool.) Coco comes to the high roller table with her husband/boyfriend/sugardaddy. “Hiiii HONEY.” “BABY I LOOOVE YOU.” She’s already drunk, she has a few more, and is soooo happy and in love with everything. At one point she tries to keep her man from placing an inadviseable bet by wrapping her arms around his waist and holding on for dear life. Not really to pull him away from the table, just kind of clutching, as one would a recovered child kidnappee, or a lover dying in the rain. Later, she is asked to leave, and she starts a yelling match with the head of casino security. It’s not a match, actually, because she is the only one yelling. Continuously. For fifteen minutes. About what, no one is sure. But she feels really strongly about it. The head of security, a patient and massive fellow, shrewdly guides her away from the table and lets her continue her loud monologue against the world, but at a safe distance from the table. Eventually she runs out of steam, kicks over a food tray, and is escorted out in a very ladylike fashion.
Coco didn’t really want to fight; she just wanted to emote. She is like a whole season of reality TV wrapped in a cute little Bebe top. But she means no harm. As compared with #3 on this list, in that same situation, a bloodbath.
6. Thai people are nice. Why? I don’t know. But this is generally true. They just tend to be good-natured, and polite, and fun to be around. The Thai dealer has the cheeriest attitude and speaks in a gentle voice. The Thai cashier girl talks about the book she’s reading instead of how miserable her tips are. The Thai food server brings extra rice with everything, even things that don’t need rice. Like cake. I mean with like a 1 in 10 exception, because there are some pretty shady ones. But since across the casino population as a whole, 8 out of every 10 people are sociopathic nutjobs, the exception proves the rule.
So, again, not applying this to Asians in the general real world; however, in this specialized underbelly of Los Angeles, there are certain racial profiles that you can count on, and knowing them will actually help you navigate that world more safely.
Dominic’s previous GUEST OFFENDER blog:
5 Super-Villains Who Really Exist Inside of California Casinos