I have two distinct lives. One in the trenches of low-budget film and television, the other in professional gambling. Because of the feast-or-famine nature of show business I need a reliable income... gambling. So here you will read about both worlds. Enjoy!
The guest this week is Bob Nersesian. Bob is a frequent guest to the show, and always entertaining. Bob is the lawyer who advocates for the players against the casinos, and has successfully sued many Vegas casinos on the behalf of players. He is also the author of Beat the Players.
Our guest this week is Michael Craig, author of The Professor, The Banker, and the Suicide King. This is a fascinating book about a billionaire who came to Vegas, and played poker with the best players in the world for the highest stakes anyone has ever played for.
The guest on the show this week is Michael Gaughan, owner of the South Point Casino in Las Vegas. We talk with Mr. Gaughan about his father Jackie Gaughan who owned the El Cortez casino in downtown Las Vegas, as well as pieces of many other casinos.
The guests this week are Rick Blaine & Max Rubin. They are on to discuss this year's Blackjack Ball. The Ball is a party held in Las Vegas once a year hosted by Max Rubin. Some of the greatest gamblers in the world attend this party, and compete in a skills competition for the Grosjean Cup. Rick Blaine was this year's winner.
Our guest this week is 7 time WSOP bracelet winner Billy Baxter. Billy is one of the old time players kicking around Vegas for 40 years. We talk poker, sports betting, golf, pool hustling, a little bit of everything. A fascinating guest who we will try desperately to get back.
Our guests this week are advantage players Andrew and Brad.Andrew and Brad set out to scout casinos in Oklahoma. Being avid listeners to our show they had heard the horror stories of people having their money confiscated by police in Interstate 40. Sure enough they were pulled over on I-40 and the police found their $40,000. Tune in to hear their story.
Many of you may have read James Grosjean's blog posts entitled How Casinos Cheat. If not you can find his excellent blog here, Beyond Numbers. I very much agree with JG that the danger of being cheated by a casino is not them dealing you seconds, or hitting you with a cooler. They have a much bolder, and more effective way of cheating. If you lose, too bad. If you win, they just refuse to pay.
Recently I was told one of the most egregious cases I have ever heard of. The Playboy Club in London stole the money of two players for counting cards. The two players played in the casino for 3 or 4 nights, and left their money on deposit with the casino. On the last night they went to withdraw their money, and the casino told them they would not give them their deposit money back because they had been counting cards, and card counting was against the rules of their club. The money stolen was over £30,000 or approximately $50,000. They weren't accused of cheating, just counting cards. I know nothing of British law, but I can only infer that there has never been a court case testing the legality of counting. Now maybe they know they will lose the case, but want to harass people from another country who will have to fight a court battle from overseas. Or maybe they were emboldened by the awful decision in the Phil Ivey case.
I grew up reading stories of the old "road gamblers". Doyle Brunson told me, "First we had to win the money, then we had to collect the money, and then we had to get out of town with the money." Between the casinos stealing from players, and then the police and their asset forfeitures, I can't say much has changed.
Did I mention that the Playboy Club is owned by Caesars Entertainment? Stay classy Mr. Loveman.
The guest this week is David Switzer. David just received two masters degrees from UNLV, and we will be discussing his professional paper, “Casinos can increase table games revenue by properly training employees and adjusting many of the procedures currently used on their games that are aimed at stopping advantage players.”
In 1986 I got a phone call from a friend named Alan. He told me there was a really great blackjack game at Walker Hill casino in Seoul, S. Korea. I forget all the rules, but the game had early surrender vs. 10, and 6 cards was an automatic 1/2 win. All in all the player had an edge off the top without any counting of cards.
Alan recommended I stay at an inexpensive locals hotel called the Kaya, and get in touch with an American card counter named Marty Itzkowitz. Marty was an ex-New York cop, who had moved to Vegas, dealt craps, became a craps boss at Sam's Town, discovered card counting, quit his job, and somehow ended up in Korea. Marty had the answers. He knew where to change money on the black market, where the illegal underground casinos were, which ones cheated, and where the girls who liked Americans hung out.
I made a few phone calls, and heard rumor that Marty might be staying in the same hotel. I went to the front desk, and asked if Marty Itzkowitz was staying there. The front desk clerk took a step back and I saw fear in his eyes. "Oh, Mr. Marty is in 302." You see, Marty was the quintessential "ugly American." The first thing you noticed was his bulging eyes.
Imagine a 300 pound, loud, frothing, Marty Feldman. He hated everything, and everybody. But he said things that were so outrageously over the top that it was hard to take him seriously. He claimed to hate Korea, and Koreans, yet he managed to marry at least a couple, and spent years living there. Then at some point he changed from blackjack to poker, and from Korea to the Philippines, at which point he switched his loathing to all thing Filipino. Any blackjack player who spent time in Korea in the late 80s will have some Mr. Marty stories.
Well now there is a new mystery by Jake Jacobs, The Battered Butterfly. It takes place in Manilla, and the lead character is a professional gambler named Lefty Markowitz. "Lefty, an ex-New York cop turned professional gambler, is two hundred and eighty pounds of misanthropy on the prowl in Manila. All he wants is to be left alone." The dedication is to Marty, so this isn't all a coincidence.
Lefty finds himself the prime suspect in a murder. It seems a bar girl was murdered after Lefty spent the night with her. (Marty was fond of bar girls.) At the same time Marty is much more interested in tracking down a German named Carl that ripped him off in a poker game.
I read a lot of mysteries, and one of the things that separates the good from the bad is a sense of place. Here is the opening paragraph of the book.
"The rain came, and should have washed down the streets. Falling, it should have captured the particles of dust, the fog of auto exhaust, the reek from stray fires smoldering in piles of garbage, tackled them all, and dragged them to earth. It should have washed the grime and peeling paint down the walls of the buildings. It should have swept all the discarded newspapers and crushed cigarette butts and rotting banana peels from the sidewalks, swept everything into the gutter, so the city was clean and fresh, renewed. Instead, the rain came too fast. The streets filled with water faster than the antiquated sewers could cope. They backed up like a plugged toilet, so that pedestrians could expect wet tissue paper and dog turds plastered to their calves. In Manila, even the rain didn't work right."
Jake is a former professional blackjack player (played on the Hyland team among others) and a perennial on the Giant 32, a list of the 32 best backgammon players in the world. He has written two other book, both on backgammon, and contributes a monthly column to Gammon Village. We plan to have him on Gambling With an Edge in a few weeks to talk about the book, Marty, and some of his crazier gambling exploits. Here is his book on Amazon. The Battered Butterfly