Guido Metzger, now director of casino operations for all Boyd Gaming downtown Las Vegas properties, vividly recalls the night of May 28, 1989.
It’s a date now commemorated at the California Hotel Casino in downtown Las Vegas where “Cal Club” regular Stanley Fujitake held the dice for an astounding three hours and six minutes. Metzger, working at a nearby craps table, had a bird’s eye view as players won an astounding $750,000 while Fujitake held the dice. Fujitake rolled the dice 118 times.
“My table was empty,” Metzger said, “But there were at least 30 to 40 people trying to place bets at his table. They couldn’t get fills fast enough and had to start issuing scrip because not enough people were going to the cage and cashing in their chips.”
That unforgettable night will be celebrated for the 28th time April 20-23 when the California Hotel Casino hosts its annual $25,000 Golden Arm Craps Tournament. The qualifying for the tournament is open to the public and is a live money play for total rolls. There’s no entry fee and entrants can record a high roll total anytime from 12 p.m. April 20 through 2 p.m. on April 23. There’s no limit on how many times contestants can attempt to gain a spot at the final table. All those who make it to the finals will play a 20-roll tournament event as players try to post the highest win amount, to get paid from $100 to $10,000 for the winner.
The top 12 players qualify for the finals along with two wild card entrants drawn at random from all the participants. The final two shooters, drawn from Golden Arm Club members attending a banquet April 22 to mark their achievement, then join those 14 for the final showdown on April 23.
Golden Arm Club members are the more than 300 persons who have held the dice at the Cal Club for over one hour. Those who do it are honored with a plaque next to Fujitake’s. There’s also a platinum wall located on the mezzanine level of the Cal Club for those who achieve Golden Arm status by holding the dice for an hour twice or more and those holding the dice for 1.5 hours one time. The Hawaii native, who passed away in 2000, achieved that status four different times.
“On average, we see at least one craps player roll for more than an hour every month,” Table Games Manager John Merrick said. “So we’re creating a new Golden Arm plaque more often than you might think.”
Adjacent to the craps tables at the Cal Club is a trophy case housing a gold-painted plaster cast of Fujitake’s hand and forearm. Cradled in the hand are the actual dice he rolled that night.
His craps record was broken in 2009 at the Borgata in Atlantic City.
Metzger and Merrick noted that craps remains as popular as ever at the property. “People just love to throw those dice, there’s always something happening at the table and players can join in anytime,” Metzger said.
Merrick noted craps became popular during World War II when soldiers on long ship voyages to Europe and the Far East needed something to do to pass the time. “Those soldiers made the game extremely popular after the war and we are seeing their children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren still enjoying the game.”
Those craving a trip back to “Old Vegas” should be aware that a visit to California Hotel Casino provides just that. The iconic property, under the Boyd Gaming banner, has been recently remodeled in spectacular fashion and, as always, remains especially popular with visitors from Hawaii. The new sportsbook and lounge area, now on the main floor, is especially appealing as a place to watch and wager on various sporting events.
Employees and even the executives wear the flowered shirts so popular in the 50th state, and the friendly, laid-back atmosphere is extremely conducive to having an island full of fun. Craps and “21” rules are among the most liberal in Nevada.
In case you didn’t know, it’s believed the dice game, now known as craps, was invented by Sir William of Tyre in 1125 AD during the Crusades.
It may have been invented by Sir William, but its been perfected in downtown Las Vegas at the Cal Club as the legend of Stanley Fujitake and the Golden Arm lives on.