Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Pure speculation based on flimsy evidence

When Criss Angel first appeared at the Luxor, they put out special commemorative $5 chips with his picture on them. This is a pretty standard part of a casino's publicity blitz for a big new act.

A couple of years ago, I explained in gory detail the proper method of stacking one's chips at the table. I'm sure some readers thought I was kidding, but I wasn't. During the first few hands after joining a game, it is far, far more important to segregate out the commemorative chips and get them hidden away from view than it is to do stuff like watching the action, figuring out how opponents are playing, and so forth. This is especially true at the Luxor, because the Criss Angel chips are just plain creepy. He's giving you the stinkeye, and if you leave his face exposed to view from the tops of your chip stacks, it will curse your game. These are just scientific facts, folks. The freaky chips must be buried underneath regular chips as quickly as possible.

It is because of my habit of doing this that I noticed something recently. For the three years or so that Angel has been at the Luxor, the Angel poker chips have consistently amounted to a little under half of the total chips in circulation. I'd buy into a game, segregate my chips when I wasn't in a hand, and find that usually there were a few more generic chips than Angel chips, but a nearly equal balance.

But last month when I played at the Luxor, after having not been there for a couple of months, there was a drastic change. I bought in for $200, and only 2 of the 40 chips were Angel ones. I thought this might be an anomaly (i.e., maybe the guy who had cashed out right before I got there separated his chips, too, so the ones I got weren't representative), but I watched the rest of that session as other players' chips went into the pot, and that ratio was fairly consistent throughout.

This, however, was a one-time observation, a single data point. Last night I added a second one. I played at the Luxor again, bought in for $200, and had just one Angel chip among the 40 I was given. Again I watched chips going into the pot, and again the creepy chips were almost completely absent.

This can't be a coincidence. The fraction of commemorative $5 chips cannot go from nearly 50% to less than 5% over the course of a couple of months without the casino taking active steps to make this happen. It appears that the Luxor has instructed its cashiers (or the people behind the cashiers, in the secluded counting/sorting area) to selectively take the Angel chips out of circulation as they come through.

This is not unprecedented. I have written before about noticing that the Venetian had pulled its Gordie Brown chips out of circulation when he moved over to the Golden Nugget, and that Ceasars Palace had done the same when Celine Dion ended her run there.

But if I'm right that the Luxor is deliberately pulling Criss Angel chips out of circulation, it will be the first time I've noticed this happening before the act is terminated. It makes me suspicious that somebody at the Luxor has already decided that Angel is on the way out. Obviously, I have no hard evidence of this, just this one very peculiar observation. It's no secret, of course, that his show has been struggling since it opened, almost universally panned by critics and ordinary patrons alike.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe what I have observed is just a crazy fluke. Or maybe there's some other explanation for it. But my prediction is that before the end of the year, we will see Angel and the Luxor part ways, and this will have been one of the early indicators of it.


Josie said...

Ut oh! My son is a HUGE Criss Angel fan. He wants me to take him to the Luxor because he heard that Criss lives there and he's "sure" that if we stay at that hotel we'll see him in the lobby in his bathrobe. I think the window for that is closing!

ImJustSaying said...

That's just ludicrous. No one is a huge Criss Angel fan.

Anonymous said...

The chip you show has the "Mindfreak" logo, the name of Angel's TV show, while his show at Luxor is called "Believe." Perhaps they're just getting ready to make new chips that promote "Believe."

From all accounts, Criss has improved his show over the last year, weeding out the Cirque influence and adding more magic demonstrations. This costs money and it seems to me if he was on the way out, he wouldn't have invested the money in improving the show.